Tag Archives: superfoods

Why You Should Eat Figs

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What are figs?

Long before high fructose corn syrup, figs were humankind’s go-to sweetener—and we were better off for it. Sumerian stone tablets dating back to 2500 B.C. reference fig consumption. They were also a favorite energy food for the Spartans. Figs offer a unique texture that combines chewy flesh and crunchy seeds with velvety-smooth skin. Fig trees can live up to 100 years and grow up to 100 feet tall, and they produce hundreds of varieties. Figs can have black, purple, or green skins, and pink, purple, or amber flesh. Most are dried, meaning you can enjoy these fiber-rich fruits throughout the year.

When do I look for figs?
You’ll find dried figs year-round at most grocery stores. Fresh figs might be available at your local farmers markets if you live in warmer states. Check in at your favorite farmers market June through September.

How do I choose figs?
Ripe figs should yield a bit when squeezed; unripe figs are firm. Look for clean, dry figs with smooth skins, free of blemishes, breaks, and punctures. Figs that are too ripe will smell sour because they’re beginning to ferment.

What are the health benefits of figs?
Figs are good sources of dietary fiber and carbohydrates, making them an ideal energy snack for long hikes or bike rides. One large raw fig delivers seven percent of the daily-recommended fiber requirement and 47 calories. Figs also contain calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

How do I store figs?
Figs have short shelf lives, and should be eaten within three days if fresh. Store fresh figs in a plastic bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Dried figs can be stored at room temperature in their original sealed packages for about a month. Stored in the refrigerator, dried figs will keep for six months to a year.

How do you eat figs?
Toss quartered figs with mixed greens—baby spinach, some arugula, and leafy green lettuce—and top with shaved Parmesan cheese for a savory and sweet lunch or dinner salad. Fresh figs stuffed with a mixture of goat cheese, chopped almonds, and fresh chopped rosemary makes a creamy, crunchy, and chewy appetizer or main dish. For an elegant dessert, poach fresh figs in red wine and serve with nonfat yogurt. Here’s a great healthy recipe you might want to try.

How do I get my kids to like figs?
Mix chopped fresh or dried figs, walnuts, and fresh blueberries into their morning oatmeal or granola for added texture and flavor.

from Beachbody Blog

Are You Eating the Right Grains?

Are You Eating the Right Grains?

Are You Eating the Right Grains?

By Kirsten Morningstar from Beachbody Newsletter

Did you know you know there’s a simple way to help lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol,1 and reduce your risk of dying from all sorts of scary-sounding things—and you don’t even have to leave the dinner table to do it?2

Whole Grains

 

Intrigued? Then consider replacing the refined grains in your diet with whole grains. What are whole grains? They are cereals and seeds that have not been milled or processed to remove their hard exterior. This outer layer, called the bran, contains healthy oils, fiber, and protein. This is stripped away when the grain is refined. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that take the body longer to digest, so their nutrition is released slowly and continuously, leaving you feeling energized and full for much longer, partly because they don’t spike your blood sugar. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and manganese.

Whole Grains Gluten-Free
Whole Grains
Refined Grains
Amaranth
Barley
Brown Rice
Buckwheat
Bulgur
Emmer
Farro
Flaxseed
Grano
Kamut
Kañiwa
Millet
Montina
Muesli
Oats
Popcorn
Quinoa
Rye
Sorghum
Spelt
Teff
Triticale
Wheat berries
Whole cornmeal
Whole wheat
Wild Rice
Amaranth
Buckwheat
Millet
Montina
Oats (not always GF)
Popcorn
Quinoa
Rice
Sorghum
Teff
Whole-grain cornmeal
Wild rice
White flour
White rice
White bread
Degermed
cornflower
Enriched flour


Misleading food labels have sparked plenty of confusion about what is and isn’t made from whole grain. The best way to verify if your packaged baked goods are whole grain is to read the ingredient list on the back or side. If the grains listed are “whole,” then you’re in good shape. An even better way to know you are eating whole grains is to buy them whole and cook them yourself.

Some of the whole grains you might be familiar with include brown rice, quinoa, and oats, and these are fantastic. But, did you know there are a lot of other whole grains—many of which have been enjoyed around the world for thousands of years—that you can add to your meals for variety? Look for them in the bulk bins or dry goods section of your local market, where many will cost just pennies per serving. Stretch your dollar farther by blending the more exotic varieties with brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa. Experiment to find your favorite flavor combination!

If you can cook rice or oatmeal, you can easily cook other grains. We’ve provided measurements and cooking times for you below. Use a heavy pot with a lid (or a rice cooker!) and set the burner of your stove to a medium temperature. All grains should be rinsed well before cooking and inspected for stray twigs or stones that remain from the harvesting process.

Substitute whole grains in place of white rice or pasta, add them to soup and casseroles, toss cooked grains into salads, or serve them for breakfast and enjoy like oatmeal. Cooked grains keep well in the fridge, so we recommend making a large batch and storing the leftovers for quick meals during the week. Store uncooked grains in an airtight container in a cool, dark cabinet for up to 6 months, or in your refrigerator as long as a year.

Here are 7 up-and-coming whole grains to try:

AMARANTH

AmaranthWhile not technically a grain (it’s a seed), gluten-free amaranth has a nutritional profile similar to grain. Originally from Peru, its cultivation spread through Central and South America and played a crucial role in Aztec rituals and their diet. Amaranth contains more protein than most grains, is considered a complete protein, has three times as much calcium as other grains, is rich in iron and magnesium, and is the only grain that contains vitamin C. It has been shown to lower blood cholesterol in patients with coronary disease and hypertension3.

To Cook: Add 1 cup amaranth to 3 cups water, and simmer gently for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cooked amaranth has a consistency similar to Cream of Wheat® (it can become sticky if overcooked). For a dish that is more like rice, combine amaranth with other cooked grains. You could also add a few tablespoons while cooking homemade soup to add thickness and protein.

BUCKWHEAT

You may already be familiar with buckwheat—no, not the character from The Little Rascals—the grain. Only, once again, it’s not a grain at all or even related to wheat. This heart-shaped seed is a relative of rhubarb, making it gluten-free. Buckwheat has a satisfying, nutty flavor and numerous health benefits. The phytonutrients in buckwheat are powerful antioxidants that protect cells from cancer-causing free radicals. Buckwheat is also a star when it comes to keeping the heart pumping—its fiber has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels4 and its manganese promotes healthy circulation.

Make it a staple in your pantry, and you’ll be glad you did. It cooks quickly for a weeknight dinner, and can be made ahead in bulk and stored in the fridge for easy lunches throughout the week. Buckwheat flour makes delicious pancakes and crepes. Soba noodles made from buckwheat are a great gluten-free alternative to pasta.

To cook: Prepare it like rice on a stovetop or in a rice cooker. Pre-toasting in a dry pan before adding liquid intensifies the nutty flavor and is worth the effort. Bring 1 cup buckwheat and 2 cups water to a boil, reduce heat to low, put a lid on it, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the kernels are tender.

FARRO

FarroFarro is an ancient relative of wheat that has been eaten for centuries. Want to look like a gladiator (or a goddess)? Then eat farro, the grain that fortified the armies of the Roman Empire. Farro is sometimes called spelt or emmer, but they’re not the same. Farro has a firm and chewy texture, and a nutty flavor that is great in grain salad, stuffing, and soup. It is surprisingly filling because it has 11 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per cup. It is so nutritiously dense, in fact, that you might find a smaller serving than other grains will make you feel full. The fiber supports healthy digestion and satisfies for hours, making it a healthy choice for people trying to lose weight.

To cook: Farro also benefits from toasting. Add 1 cup farro to 2-1/2 cups boiling water. Cover and simmer without stirring for 20 minutes, or until tender. Farro can be cooked in a rice cooker and makes great leftovers because it keeps its firm texture for several days and never gets mushy or sticky.

KAMUT®

Legend has it that a Montana man discovered several kamut seeds in a tomb near the Nile River. Later, an enterprising farmer trademarked the seeds and gave it the ancient Egyptian name for wheat.

One thing is certain, kamut is an ancient grain. It is an heirloom variety of Khorasan wheat from Iran. Research suggests that ancient grains may have more health benefits than modern strains of wheat, and recently, Canadian scientists compared several ancient grains, including kamut, to modern wheat, and found higher levels of lutein (important for eye health) and beta-carotene in the heirloom grains.5

Kamut is a smart choice for a healthy diet and, as an added bonus, the branded product is always grown organically. It is high in selenium (which supports the immune system), zinc, and manganese. It also has 20 to 40% more protein per serving than regular wheat. A half-cup serving provides 6 grams of protein and only 140 calories.

To cook: Kamut is a Goliath of grains, and takes a long time to cook. Bring 1 cup kamut and 3 cups water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the grains are plump and chewy. This can take 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Soaking the grains overnight will reduce cooking time.

KAÑIWA

Though the name sounds similar, don’t confuse kañiwa (pronounced “ka-nyi-wa”) with its popular cousin, quinoa. (If you’re following the Beachbody® nutrition guide that came with your fitness program, you should be well acquainted with quinoa.) Kañiwa, from the Andes Mountains, is being touted as the next superfood. These tiny ruby red seeds are about half the size of quinoa and have a mild, sweet flavor. Because they are made up mostly of outer shell, they stay pleasantly crunchy when cooked.

To cook: Add 1 cup kañiwa and 2 cups water to a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the seeds look they have sprouted little halos (like quinoa). Fluff with a fork and serve. Try it as a “breading” for meats.

MILLET

Some people think millet is for the birds, literally. It is a main ingredient in birdseed mixes, but this gluten-free seed (again, not a grain) is delicious and fluffy when cooked. It is not commonly eaten in the U.S., but it is the sixth most popular grain in the world. Millet may have been the staple grain of Asia before rice, and it’s rich in phosphorous, which is important for strong bones, and is also a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps reduce stress.

To cook: Toast 1 cup millet in a dry pan then add 3 cups water. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, then set it aside and leave the lid on for 15 minutes more. Fluff with a fork before serving.

For hot cereal or polenta, grind millet in a spice grinder. Bring 5 cups water to a boil, then gradually whisk in 1 cup millet. Cover, lower heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 to 30 minutes until grits are tender. The tiny seeds can even be popped like corn!

WILD RICE

Just like how many of these “grains” aren’t really grains, wild rice is not really rice. It’s the seed of an aquatic grass that was originally cultivated in shallow waters across North America. It has double the protein and fiber of brown rice and 30 times greater cancer-fighting antioxidant activity than white rice.6 Reddish brown to black in color, wild rice commands attention with its toothsome bite and bold nutty flavor. For this reason, and also because it’s pricey, it is often blended with other grains.

To cook: Wild rice requires more time to cook than most grains, but it’s worthy of the extra patience. There is time to crank out INSANITY’s Plyometric Cardio Circuit while you wait. Bring 3 cups water or stock to a boil, stir in 1 cup rice, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 50 minutes, until the kernels burst open, revealing a creamy interior. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and continue cooking over low heat for 5 minutes more if needed. Overcooking causes kernels to curl up and loose their distinct texture.

Let us know which whole grains you love and how you eat them at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Resources:

  1. Associations of whole-grain, refined-grain, and fruit and vegetables consumption with risks of all-cause mortality and incident coronary artery-disease and ischemic stroke
  2. Whole grain, bran, and germ intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study and systematic review
  3. Amaranth oil application for coronary heart disease and hypertension
  4. Consumption of buckwheat protein lowers plasma cholesterol and raises fecal neutral sterols in cholesterol-fed rats because of its low digestibility
  5. Identification and quantification of seed carotenoids in selected wheat species
  6. Antioxidant activity of commercial wild rice and identification of flavonoid compounds in active fractions
Vanilla Shakology

IT’S HERE! Rich and creamy Vanilla Shakeology®

IT’S HERE! Rich and creamy Vanilla Shakeology®

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“YES!” “FINALLY!!” “HALLELUJAH!!” “HOT-DIGGITY-DOG!!!” There’s a NEW Shakeology in town and this one’s going to send your taste buds into a blissful state of jubilation. Not only does our NEW Vanilla Shakeology taste good, it IS good. So very good—in sooooooo many incredibly good ways.

Vanilla Shakeology is GOOD FOR YOUR BODY. While this rich and creamy shake tastes like the world’s most delectable dessert, it’s actually your daily dose of dense nutrition. Packed with more than 70 super-healthy ingredients from around the world, Shakeology is the healthiest shake on the planet (and that goes for all of our five amazing flavors).

Replacing one meal a day with Shakeology can help you:*

  • Lose weight
  • Reduce junk food cravings
  • Increase your energy
  • Improve your digestion and regularity

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Vanilla Shakeology is GOOD FOR YOUR TASTE BUDS.
One of the best things about this new flavor is that because vanilla is a neutral base, you can customize recipes to make your shakes taste like anything you want. You can have a “Vanilla Latte” for breakfast one day, a “PB & J” for lunch the next, or a “Tiramisu” when you’re craving dessert. You can NEVER go wrong with just vanilla.

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So where do Shakeology’s prized vanilla beans come from?
They come from a place where the soil is rich, the air is pure, and the water is untainted. They come from where natural resources available for growing vanilla beans are absolutely perfect. They come from the lush jungles of Madagascar, a remote island perched off the eastern edge of South Africa. And under this tropical rainforest’s vast canopy, indigenous Malagasy farmers meticulously hand-pollinate each vanilla orchid by hand—then hand-harvest, blanch, sweat, sun-dry, and condition the beans (over a six-month period!) to release their incredible essence and aromas. So pretty much, these beans come from paradise.

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Vanilla Shakeology is GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.
Through the purchase of these particular beans, we’re helping invest in a wide variety of training for the rural Malagasy vanilla farmers. Not only are they learning optimal and sustainable growing and harvesting practices to help lower their costs, increase yields, and standardize their processes, they’re also learning how to build a better infrastructure for their volatile vanilla bean industry. We’re doing everything we can to help put an end to the prolific “slash-and-burn” agricultural harvesting that causes deforestation and soil erosion, putting unique crops (like vanilla), as well as natural resources, at risk.

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Vanilla Shakeology is GOOD FOR MADAGASCAR’S LOCAL ECONOMY.
In addition to all the training these farmers will be receiving through our purchase of these beans, we’re also helping to invest in the building and ongoing maintenance of new schools in this developing nation. These schools are being built with renewable resources and are currently enhancing the education of more than 3,000 local children.

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Vanilla Shakeology is GOOD FOR KEEPING CHEMICALS OUT OF YOUR FOOD.
Vanilla comes in many forms, not all of which are pure. There are a lot of knockoffs out there that are labeled as vanilla, but aren’t 100% pure vanilla because other elements have been added. Unfortunately, the food industry’s dirty little secret is that most “natural vanilla” flavors use chemical additives and “vanilla-like” fillers which substantially cheapen the product, yet these companies are passing it off as the “real” thing. 
BUT NOT US—OUR VANILLA IS 100% PURE!

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How do we know Shakeology’s vanilla is pure?
We’ve partnered with a highly reputable vanilla source that certifies complete traceability, from bean to bag. You see, Madagascar’s current vanilla supply chain in this impoverished nation lacks standards and quality control. And sadly, once the cured vanilla beans leave Madagascar for flavor extraction elsewhere, far too many companies are taking less-than-ethical shortcuts to bring their “vanilla-like” products to market. So unless vanilla says it’s 100% pure—it’s not.

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Simply put, Vanilla Shakeology is just . . . GOOD!
Sure, it took us a while to hunt down an untainted, flavorful, and ethically sourced vanilla bean that would meet Shakeology’s standards. But we did it. And we’re so incredibly proud of our incredibly delicious and ridiculously healthy Vanilla Shakeology—and we think you’ll love it as much as we do.

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But don’t take our word for how amazing this stuff is; trust the words of some of our biggest fans:

“I loved it! I thought it was amazing! I was sad when the whole shake was gone!”

“Very nice addition to the Shakeology lineup!”

“Amazing! Is this really healthy? Hands down one of the best tasting shakes I’ve ever had.
Homerun, Beachbody!”

“I have always been more of a vanilla girl than chocolate, and for me this tasted like heaven in a glass.”

Posted in: Laura Van Oh, Shakeology Product News “IT’S HERE! Rich and creamy Vanilla Shakeology®”

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