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Healthy Portions

Celina from Zappos CLT, Inc. gave us a healthy portion in portion sizes for May's Health Awareness Month. Did you know that one serving of cheese is roughly the size of a 9 volt battery?

portion sizes, proper portion sizes, what a pound of fat looks like

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Light and Easy Spring Meals and Snacks: Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza

Spring has finally sprung and it's time to turn our minds to meals that are light and easy. After all, no one wants to be weighed down by rich, hearty meals when there are so many great activities to take part in. Also, who wants to spend hours cooking a meal? This week, let's take a look at how a simple loaf of pita bread can be made into a delicious meal and easy snack.

Chicken Caesar Salad Pizzas
Serves 4

4 loaves of whole wheat or multi-grain pita bread
½ cup of light or fat-free Caesar salad dressing
½ cup of 2% shredded mozzarella cheese
8 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
2 - 6 ounce packages of refrigerated grilled chicken strips
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place the pita bread on a cookie sheet and spread each loaf with 1 tablespoon of salad dressing and top with 1 ounce of shredded cheese.
2. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese melts.
3. Allow the pizza to cool for around 5 minutes before topping each loaf with 2 cups of romaine lettuce, 1 tablespoon of additional salad dressing, 3 ounces of chicken strips and Parmesan cheese.
4. Serve immediately.

The above recipe is incredibly easy, but pita bread also makes a great snack. All you need to do is cut the loaves into wedges and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees until crispy. Then the wedges can be dipped in your favorite low-fat dip. If you'd like to add some flavor, you can brush the wedges with olive oil that has been mixed with your favorite spice blend. This makes a great substitute for high calorie potato chips. Just be sure to choose whole wheat or multi-grain varieties. And, if you're out of ideas for a tasty dip, consider fat-free flavored cream cheese, fat-free bean dip or even a drizzle of fat-free chocolate sauce. This treat can be savory or sweet depending on the seasonings you use. Try mixing things up and adding cinnamon and sugar to light tasting olive oil to help cure a late night craving.

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Countdown to Your Beach Body: Eliminating White Foods

When it comes to getting your body ready for the beach you have to remember that diet plays a very important role. What you put in your mouth can make all the difference between having a six pack or looking like you just drank a six pack.

A simple way that you can clean up your diet to lose some pounds or just firm up your beach body is to eliminate "white" foods in your diet. White foods are items made from white flour or sugar such as bread and pasta as well as starchy foods like white potatoes and white rice. These foods contain a lot of carbohydrates which transform quickly into sugar when eaten. Not only do these foods pack on the calories themselves but they also leave you feeling hungry an hour later since they are devoid of nutrients and vitamins.

Replace these white foods with whole grains filled with fiber instead. Whole grains and fiber help you feel full quicker and longer as well as help to improve your digestive system. These types of foods provide you with nutrients to help you have the energy to work out and get through your day without the ups and downs that white sugar gives.

It's not as hard as you may think to eliminate these white foods from your diet. If you are really serious about getting that perfect beach body then these switches can be well-worth it. Instead of white bread, make a switch to whole wheat or seven-grain bread. The same thing goes for pasta. There are plenty of whole grain pastas that are sold nowadays that taste just as good as regular pasta.

Other simple switches in your diet include tossing out the white potatoes and eating sweet potatoes instead. Switch to brown or wild rice instead of the normal white rice.

Also, you want to try to eliminate as much sugar as possible from your diet. Candies, cookies, and cakes should be completely eliminated while getting your body ready for the beach. Sugar has no nutritional value and only helps your body store fat instead of burn it.

By making the simple switch of white foods for whole grain foods you can easily shed several pounds in a month and burn those stubborn areas of fat from your body. Women can be sporting that bikini and men can be taking off their shirt on the beach in no time when following this diet.

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From Your Garden to Your Kitchen Table: I Say Tomato You Say Tomato!

One of the most popular foods that people plant in their garden is tomatoes. The reason for this is that tomatoes can be used in a variety of different ways when cooking. They can be eaten raw in dishes, as well as cooked in different forms. Also, if you check out how many types of tomatoes there are, you may be shocked that there are several thousand different types of tomatoes that you can plant.

Technically, a tomato is a fruit but because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on duties, the tomato is considered a vegetable. The courts reasoning was that a tomato is more often served with dinner like vegetables rather than dessert like fruits.

So, just what are some of the hundreds of different ways that you can use homegrown tomatoes in your kitchen? An obvious choice would be salads. Green salads with cut-up tomatoes, as well as specialty tomato salads like tomato cucumber salad or even pasta salads, are a common way to utilize fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes can also be used in salsas and placed into sandwiches. There are many people who simply like to take some salt and eat a tomato just like an apple.

Tomatoes can also be used in so many different hot dishes. Spaghetti sauces and marinara sauces are made from cooked tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes from your garden can make a wonderfully tasting spaghetti sauce.
One of the most popular ways that you can use cooked tomatoes is to make a homemade tomato soup. Cooked tomatoes can also be tossed into a pasta dish, chili and casseroles. Fried green tomatoes is another popular dish that utilizes fresh tomatoes from the garden.

The one thing that you should research before planting tomatoes is to determine what kinds will do the best in the area that you live. As I mentioned, there are thousands of varieties and certain ones thrive in certain planting zones. Also, you need to consider what you are going to be using the tomatoes for in the kitchen before you plant them. For example, if you want to plant some tomatoes so that you can have them for salads, you may want to consider planting smaller varieties like cherry tomatoes or roma tomatoes. On the other hand, if you want a larger tomato to place on sandwiches or make fried green tomatoes with, then look for larger varieties such as beefsteak tomatoes.

Tomatoes have all types of uses in the kitchen, and you will definitely not run out of ideas when you plant them in your garden.

Heart-Healthy Activity of the Week: Kayaking

If you love the outdoors, kayaking is the perfect heart-healthy activity for you. Anyone can kayak -- it's very simple, requires no experience and amazingly little upper-body strength. It's an especially great activity for those who have lower body (knee, foot, hip, joint, etc.) pain or problems. Kayaking is a low-impact sport, which means that it has little or no wear and tear on the body's joints (unlike running, soccer, football, which are all very high-impact sports).

It should be surprising then to learn that you can burn quite a number of calories kayaking. In just 30 minutes of kayaking, you can burn around 200 calories. The number of calories you burn will, of course, depend on your weight, exercise regime, and how vigorously you are kayaking.

Kayaking is great for building upper-body strength. What's great about it is that it isn't difficult at first -- anyone can rotate the paddle without too much trouble. But as you practice, your body slowly builds considerable upper body strength (including arm, back, chest, and stomach muscles). Unlike lifting weights at the gym, you won't even notice yourself getting stronger.

Even if you aren't out there to burn calories, which most people who kayak are not, it's an extremely relaxing outdoor activity. All you need is a kayak, paddle, life jacket, lake or river, and you're ready to go! And it's always more fun with a friend. The calm of the water is very seductive, and you'll find yourself spending hours on the water on beautiful blue-sky days.

Another great item to take along kayaking is a pair of water shoes like Keens.
Keens are especially great shoes because they are extremely versatile. These sandals have webbing so they are perfect for water sports. They also have a rubber toe, which makes them perfect for hiking (no stubbing your toe on rocks). Also they are extremely supportive and breathable.


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At-Home Workout of the Week: Count to Ten

If you can count to ten, then you can get fit. Whether you are working out in your basement after work or nestled in some hotel on a business trip, doing ten critical exercises in sets of ten will give you the quick, productive training session you want, all the while leaving you with plenty of time to complete all the other things life throws at you.

Before you begin, however, make sure you are organized. If you have access to a set of dumbbells, place them out where you can get them easily. If you are traveling and didn't feel like lugging around a suitcase full of weights, take along a set of resistance bands; these will do just fine. Also, find a chair. Make sure you have ample room around you and that you have water close by. Once you are set and ready, begin the workout below. Remember, everything is done in a set of ten, and you should move from one exercise to the next with little to no rest in between.

1. Standard push-up

2. Standing bodyweight squat

3. Side oblique raises

4. Tricep chair dips

5. "V" ups (sit-ups)

6. Standing concentration curls

7. Standing calf raises (with or without weights)

8. Leg lifts (for abdominals)

9. Seated shoulder presses

10. Lunges

Once you have completed the first cycle, rest for a minute or two, towel off, grab some water, and begin again. Complete the rotation as many times as you wish, and just keep counting to ten. Before you know it, if you eat healthy and stay active, you'll be fit and healthy.

Yoga/Meditation Technique of the Week: Bound Angle Pose

Bound Angle Pose is a simple pose that many intermediate poses are based off of. While it may feel relatively easy at first, it is important to recognize that you can improve your comfort and flexibility in this pose step by step for years on end without ever fully mastering it. Bound Angle Pose is a variation of cross-legged sitting pose, but in this pose the soles of your feet meet together and your knees drop as they blend into the floor.

Begin sitting with your feet outstretched in front of you, your back straight and tall. If sitting in this position is uncomfortable for you, consider sitting on a blanket or bolster. Next, after taking a deep breath, bring your legs in toward your chest, your knees out toward the ground, and your feet together at your groin.

At first this position may seem uncomfortable-- don't worry, the tightness in your thighs and groin will relax over time. If you are unable to bring your feet close to you, let them rest facing together where it feels most comfortable. Let your knees drop to the ground, pressing very lightly on them with your hands if it feels good.

Once you are in position, grasp your hands around your toes. Keeping your back straight and shoulders dropped, take several deep breaths here and just enjoy the pose. When you are ready, unravel yourself and go back to sitting with your legs in front of you. Feel free to enter and exit this pose as many times as you like. As you get more and more comfortable with the pose, work on your flexibility, bringing your feet closer to your body and your knees closer to the ground.

These lovely green pants are perfect for practicing yoga. They have enough stretch to allow you to be in control of your movements without being restricted.

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Exercise Routine Do's & Don'ts: Have Specific Goals for your Workout

Some people have some substantial misconceptions when it comes to exactly what makes you healthy. Unfortunately, some folks think that just any old cardio machine will do to break a sweat and shed those unwanted pounds, while others believe that a pill can do the trick and give them the physique they see in magazines. Both couldn't be more wrong. Check out the suggestions below to firm up a few misinterpretations about working out so that you can stay on the right path for a healthy existence.

The Do

Never say you're going to do some cardio. That is simply way too general, and it lacks a real purpose. Select a machine or workout that is specific to what you want to focus on during the session. If you're a budding triathlete, don't spend wasted time short-stepping away on the stairmaster when you should be turning over the pedals or running intervals. If you want to cut fat and strengthen your core, start running rather than calling the recumbent bike your cardio. Give each session variety in its approach and pick the style that matches your desired outcome. In the end, don't just show up and decide what do to do. Arrive with a structured plan, one that you considered and reflected upon beforehand. Results will come much quicker.

The Don't

To put it simply, supplements do not replace exercise or quality nutrition. Supplements, by the sheer definition and nature of the word, provide additional support and replenishment. In other words, they help; they do not generate a miracle cure or rapid advancement. Don't think swallowing a pill each day will burn the love handles away or get rid of the double chin. Pick supplements that will aid in your recovery from vigorous workouts and that make logical sense in terms of supporting your diet. Also, a supplement will not overpower the double-bacon cheeseburger you had for lunch. No supplement on the market is a sponge for bad dietary or training habits. Thus, use them wisely and with a purpose. Do not look for them to work all by themselves.