4 Reasons You Must Stretch Daily 

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Many people think of stretching as something we do before or after a workout, but research shows we should actually think differently about stretching. Stretching should be something done daily, as part of healthy lifestyle, similar to making good choices with food and exercise. Here are 4 reasons why stretching is vital to your overall health:

 

1.  Reduces Risk of Joint Pain and Injury

As we age, our muscles naturally shorten and become tighter. Those tight muscles put us as risk of injury when we exercise – or when we are even completing everyday tasks like climbing stairs. We must counteract these natural occurrences with regular stretching to keep the muscles long, lean, and pliable, supporting healthy joints and range of motion. 

 

2.  Blood Flow Increases

When we stretch, we are promoting healthy circulation throughout our entire body. Healthy blood flow staves off a variety of ailments and will help shorten recovery time after surgery or exercise. 

 

3.  Provides Stress Relief 

In a fast-paced society, stressors present themselves around every corner. Stretching regularly is yet another way to reduce stress in your life. Releasing the tension in your muscles releases endorphins to calm and soothe. This is also a great time for a “brain break,” letting your mind wander and break from the busyness of your daily grind. 

 

4.  Prevents Back Pain

Stretching keeps all of your muscles from straining, because when they do, they have a tendency to affect posture, which can lead to back pain. If you are experiencing back pain, regular stretching in your legs, hip flexors, and back may help reduce the symptoms. 

 

Ready to make stretching a part of your daily routine? Take 5-10 minutes a day to practice deep breathing and stretching. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, remaining still while doing the stretch without bobbing or overexerting yourself. If you are exercising, warm the muscles up before stretching in order to prevent injuries. 

Blender Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

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Sometimes we avoid using our blenders because they can be cumbersome – amiright?!

 

We don’t want to clean it…it’s clunky…it makes too much noise…etc. Well here are a few hacks we found that are might just make you dust off your blender and start using it again! 

 

Is Your Blender Loud? Use a Towel to Muffle the Noise!

Ever felt like you couldn’t use your blender for a morning smoothie because it’s going to wake everyone in the house? Sure, most blenders are loud, but if you put a dish towel underneath the blender, it will make it a little quieter. A silicone mat will also work for this. Try it and be impressed.

 

Tired of Cleaning Your Blender? It Can Clean Itself!

Blenders can be pretty handy for chopping and pureeing, but sometimes we don’t even want to use it because washing it is such a chore. Here’s an idea – let the blender clean itself! When you’re done using it, simply put warm water and a dash of dish soap in the blender and voila! The blender is clean! 

 

Just Want to Blend a Little? Attach a Mason Jar!

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: standard sized mason jars will fit on most blender fittings. So the next time you want a personal sized smoothie, simply unscrew the large blender and add on a mason jar instead. Unscrew, and you’re ready to enjoy! 

 

Want to Add Fresh Whipped Cream to Your Coffee or Dessert? Whip it up in your Blender!

Here’s a fun one: your blender can actually produce delicious, homemade whipped cream in a matter of minutes. Simply add 1 cup heavy cream, 4 T. powdered sugar, and a dash of vanilla. Blend until creamy and you’re done.  

 

We hope these tips help you to dust off that blender and begin using it again! It’s great for daily smoothies, blending hearty homemade soups, and more. 

5 Things You Should Do to Prevent a Fatty Liver

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Liver health is essential to our well being. Our liver works hard to cleanse the blood, aid in digestion, store energy, and provide avenues rid the body of toxins. As we age (and get a little more sedentary), fat can buildup in the liver and create a fatty liver. A fatty liver is simply excess fat being stored in the liver and it can wreck havoc on normal liver function. In order to avoid a fatty liver (or help your reverse the effects of one), here are a few steps you can take:

 

1.  Drink Coffee

Did you know that coffee has actually be shown to help eliminate abnormal liver enzymes? So drink that morning cup of joe, and don’t feel bad about it if you are concerned about liver problems!

 

2.  Eat a Diet Rich in Fruits & Vegetables

This pretty much goes without saying and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables aids overall health tremendously. But specifically as it relates to the liver, tests have shown that eating lots of leafy greens can actually reduce the amount of fat buildup in the liver. 

 

3.  Consume Healthy Fats

We’ve all heard about the healthy omega 3 fatty acids in fish, walnuts, and avocadoes and how great they are for your health. When it comes to liver health, these healthy fats can use their antioxidant powers to reverse and prevent inflammation, along with counteracting the effects of a fatty liver that might be setting in.

4.  Increase Your Garlic Intake

Some studies suggest that garlic is a weight loss booster, reducing appetite and supporting metabolism. It may also reduce fat in the liver. 

 

5.  Cut the Alcohol

Be smart when drinking alcohol. Keep your body well hydrated before consuming, and don’t overindulge. Too much alcohol can have long-term, negative effects on your liver and contribute to fatty liver.

How to Make the Best Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer – At Home!

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We get it – you don’t have much time to meal plan and cook during the week, let alone worry about making your own homemade coffee creamer! 

 

But here us out: this recipe is easy, affordable, and so much more delicious than the store-bought kind. 

 

Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to do for the best pumpkin spice coffee creamer at home!

 

Step 1: Buy the Ingredients.

There are only 5 ingredients in the recipe, and several are probably things you already have on hand! You’ll need 1.5 cups of heavy cream, 2 T. pumpkin puree, 2 T. pure maple syrup, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, and 2 cinnamon sticks. If you want to have a lower fat option, feel free to substitute out the heavy cream for half and half or lowfat milk, just know the flavor won’t be as rich. You can also go dairy free with almond milk or coconut milk!

 

Step 2: Cook the Ingredients.

Grab a small saucepan and combine the cream or milk you are using, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice over medium heat. Once warmed, add the cinnamon sticks and increase the heat to high until the mixture is boiling. Boil for 1 minute, whisking continuously as not to burn it, then remove from heat. Once the creamer has cooled, you’re ready to use it! 

 

Step 3: Spice it Up!

To use the creamer, add it as you would normal creamer. You’ll want to add sugar too if that’s your jam. Depending on our mood, sometimes we like to add a little whipped cream or cinnamon too!

 

Step 4: Store for Later!

You don’t have to use all of this pumpkin spice coffee creamer in one day! You can simply put it in the refrigerator and store it for up to a week – if it lasts that long! 

 

Happy Pumpkin Spice Everything!

5 Kitchen Tools You Shouldn’t Live Without

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Maybe you were raised with parents who knew their way around the kitchen and had all the gadgets and gizmos to make cooking easier. Or maybe you grew up in a home where a home-cooked meal was rare. Either way, somehow we’ve all learned to survive in the kitchen.

 But why not thrive?

 Whether you’re a cooking expert or novice, here are 5 kitchen tools you shouldn’t live without. (Trust us – they will make your life easier!)

1.  Microplaner

Whether you want to grate cheese or collect lemon or lime zest for a recipe, a microplane zester/grater is the perfect way to do it. You’ll be impressed by how fine the pulp is – and how easy it can be to clean. No more chunks in your recipe from trying to use larger graters that aren’t up to the task.

 2.  Mortar & Pestle

 There is something about hand ground or chopped food that somehow tastes better. We don’t have know it works, but it does! Keep a mortar and pestle on hand for mashing herbs or making a tasty pesto. You won’t regret it!

3.  Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife is a must in the kitchen, and it must be quality. Do not skimp on your knives, as you’ll regret it. Make sure they are sharp and can be sharpened for future ease of use and longevity for years to come.

4.  Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron skillets have been used in home kitchens for centuries and it’s easy to see why! They are incredibly durable, very affordable, and can fry a mean chicken fried steak. Keep a few sizes on hand and use them for frying or searing for the best results.

5.  Kitchen Shears

If you’ve never kept kitchen shears on hand, it’s time to do yourself a favor and purchase some. Look for a pair that can come unhinged for the best cleaning. Kitchen shears are great for trimming meat, cutting herbs, or opening packages. 

What’s on your kitchen “must-have” list?

Work at a Desk All Day? How to Add Healthy Habits to the Daily Grind

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There is a reason that pedometers are so popular and that Apple Watches help us achieve movement goals throughout the day. Movement is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can be hard to support when your job requires you to sit all day long. Here are a few ways you can support your fitness goals and add healthy habits to the daily grind:

 

Stand Up

Have you seen those standing desks? They are actually great for keeping you active during the day! In fact, some studies show that they can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by being less sedentary and also aids in flexibility by keeping your legs loose and stretched. 

 

Use a Stability Ball

If you prefer to sit, then consider substituting your desk chair for a stability ball. Stability balls force your core muscles to activate, and they also support better posture. Working muscles while sitting?! We’re in!

 

Make Excuses to Be Active

Whether you work in an office or from home, find reasons you need to walk somewhere. Take the stairs to a meeting on another floor instead of the elevator. While around the block to grab lunch. If you work from home, take 20 minutes out of your lunch hour to walk the dog or just get some fresh air. Any amount of activity can go a long way to supporting a healthy lifestyle.

 

Pencil in Your Workout

If you don’t add it to your calendar, it may never get done. Be sure to pencil in your workout times at least 3 days a week, and honor yourself by making those commitments a reality. Don’t blow them off because you don’t feel like it; you’ll be glad you did it in the long run! This can be as simple as spending time at the gym during your lunch break or getting up early to do an at-home workout before leaving for work.

How to Pack Healthier Lunches this Week

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Are you in a lunch rut? 

 

Sick of driving through the same fast food restaurants, only to get food that is mildly satisfying and laden in calories?

 

You aren’t alone. Millions of Americans wish they could eat better at lunch, and we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be hard! Here are a few simple tips on how to pack healthier lunches this week:

 

Move Leftovers Straight to Lunch Boxes

 

As your cleaning up the dinner dishes, simply pull out a lunch container and move part of the leftovers straight into that container. (Add a few extra fresh veggies and fruit while you’re at it.) Easy breezy lunch for tomorrow; just heat and serve!

 

Focus on Health

 

Remember that homemade lunches are generally healthier than picking something up last minute, and those health benefits are huge! Remind yourself that you’re packing lunches to make way for a healthier lifestyle and make it all about the bigger picture. 

 

Pack What You’ll Eat

 

It does no good to pack a lunch full of healthy fruits and veggies or a salad if you aren’t going to eat it! Make sure that your packed lunch is both healthy – and satisfying. This could mean a casserole loaded with veggies or a soup in the winter. 

 

Repurpose Leftovers

 

Leftover grilled chicken, taco meat, etc. are great staples for a healthy lunch the next day. Nearly any leftover veggies and protein can be turned into a unique and tasty salad.

 

Make Your Meals Ahead of Time

 

Pinterest is full of tutorials and tips on how to meal prep for lunches one day of the week – then have healthy meals all week long! You are much more likely to take your lunch everyday if it’s already prepared for you. 

 

What are your health eating tips? Cheers to packing healthy lunches this week! 

Cucumbers: Health Benefits You Don’t Want to Miss!

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Cucumbers are in season during the summer, and sadly, many people don’t see them as much more than a salad filler. But that is simply not the case! Here are 5 health benefits of cucumbers you don’t want to miss:

Aid in Lowering Blood Pressure

If you are worried about high blood pressure, cucumbers might be able to help. According to the American Heart Association, cucumbers contain lots of potassium, which reduces water retention, contributing to lower blood pressure readings. 

Improves Digestive Health

Cucumbers are pretty much straight fiber, and that fiber is great for digestive health. Fiber is what our body uses to maintain regular bowel movements and overall digestive health. If straight cucumbers aren’t really your thing, then pickles can really help with digestive health! The fermentation process of making a cucumber a pickle boosts the cucumbers ability to support good gut health. Who knew pickles had such health benefits?!

Extra Hydration

In the summer heat, it can be hard to stay hydrated! Since cucumbers are 95% water, add them to your diet for added hydration benefits! Throw them in a glass of water or eat them as a snack, cucumbers are perfect for meeting water intake goals.

Vitamin Packed

Never really seen a cucumber as much more than a vessel for water? Think again! While cucumbers are just fiber and water at their core, that fiber is full of vitamins and minerals that support your overall health and well-being. Cucumbers are rich in Vitamin K and have Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium, and Manganese. 

Improves Bone Health

Speaking of Vitamin K, studies have shown it supports healthy bones. Older women can particularly benefit from the added benefits of cucumbers for improving bone health. 

So how are you going to eat them? Throw them in a salad, add them to your water, or cut them up for a snack – tell us how you like to eat them!