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6 Kitchen Essentials for Healthy Eating

Today is International Chocolate Day. However, that’s not the focus of this post; in fact, quite the opposite. Although chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) is great when enjoyed in moderation, a healthy lifestyle really does rely predominantly on a healthy, balanced diet.

A diet that consists of mostly whole, unprocessed foods, with lots of fruits and veggies in the mix, is considered to be the healthiest. If that sounds bland and boring to you, think again! Healthy eating can be just as satisfying, if not more so, than eating junk. The trick is having the right kitchen gadgets and experiment with healthy ingredients you love.

Check out a few of our favorite healthy-diet kitchen essentials:

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1. Breville 800 BLXL Die-Cast HemisphereBlender, 2. Omega VRT350 Vert Low Speed Juicing System, 3. Fagor Slow Juicer, 4. Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 11" Square Grill Pan 5. Kitchenaid 13-Cup Food Processor, 6. Emile Henry Flame Kabob Grilling Stone and Skewers

For breakfast or a delicious mid-day snack, a refreshing green smoothie* or juice is a great option. With the right blend of yummy fruits and veggies, these super-nutritious drinks are packed with so much vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed into the body. Investing in a high-quality blender and/or juicer is something your body will reap rewards from for years to come. That’s why it’s always on our “healthy living” must-have list!

For dinner, opt for lean meats and veggies grilled to perfection. Kabobs** are a really easy option, so is grilled fish with salad or a delicious homemade salsa as a side.

 

*Recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com® via user WhitneyLW

**Recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com®  via user DAVESARAH

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De Longhi: Bottoms Up To A Healthier You!

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If you find it difficult to get your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, you might benefit from juicing. Not only does juicing provide you with your daily dose of fruits and veggies, it’s a fresh, healthy alternative to store-bought juices which are often laden with tons of sugar and preservatives.

The DeLonghi Juice Extractor is the perfect tool for making fresh juices quick and easy, therefore making it easier to make juicing a part of your daily diet. Try the following easy and delicious juice recipes and drink your way to better health:

Go Green Elixir: (this is also said to be a great cure for a hangover!)

-1 cup of fresh spinach

-2 cups of kale

-2 cups of parsley

-1 whole cucumber

-3 celery stalks

-ginger to taste

Fresher-than-fresh Apple Juice:

-3 large apples

Tip: Try mixing the sweet and tart varieties to get the best-tasting apple juice.

Citrus Morning Pick-Me-Up

-3 oranges

-1 grapefruit

Tip: add in some of the orange pulp to increase the fiber content of the juice.

Heart-Healthy Activity of the Week

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is the healthiest thing you can do for your body, your heart included. Our bodies are not meant to ingest chemicals and other unnatural substances that are put on and in our fruits and vegetables each day. The best way to avoid this, and to get the freshest produce available, is to go straight to the farm and do it yourself! You'll be surprised how great it feels to be out there in the fields yourself, and it is can be a good workout for your heart as well. Without feeling like you're getting exercise, you'll work your upper and lower body, likely feeling the burn the next day!

If you live in an area where there are a lot of farms, you're lucky. You should pick a day with nice weather projected and head over to the farm on your bike or via walking. If you're not so lucky, and agricultural districts are a little further away, try to schedule a carpool with others so that you can minimize your carbon footprint. Always bring a picnic when you do "you-pick" (or pick your own), unless you plan on filling your stomach with the items you pick. This beautiful picnic basket is perfect for any outing, whether to the beach, to a farm, or just to a local park.

Remember that most farms will weigh everything you pick when you exit, so don't go overboard. Only pick what you can eat, or what you're willing to give away to friends. And also check the farm's website before heading out for a pick-your-own event. Because agriculture is so closely tied to the weather patterns, the time of year you go to the farm will dictate what produce you're likely to pick. If you go in early summer, there will be less variety available, but still probably some delicious strawberries. Later in the summer you'll get tomatoes, many different kinds of berries, and maybe even melons!

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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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Encouraging Healthy Habits in Children

Chances are you've heard it before, but it's worth repeating. Children learn from example and they pay close attention to how their parents live. If you want to truly encourage healthy habits in your children, you must be able to set an example by also living a healthy lifestyle. You simple cannot expect children to exercise and eat healthy when they see their parents doing the exact opposite. More importantly, living a healthier lifestyle helps ensure that you'll be there for your children for many more years to come. This week, let's talk about encouraging healthy habits in children by setting a good example.

There's no denying the fact that you're probably exhausted after a day at work. Exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but consider this: Your child has just spent a day at school doing school work that is ten times more complicated than the school work you had when you were younger. They've also spent time in gym class and probably playing during recess. In other words, they're just as worn out as you are. Take the time to grab a basketball or baseball and spend a bit of time exercising with them. Not only will you set an example, but you'll get to spend some time with your child as well.

Another way to set a good example is to kick bad habits. Stop smoking, drinking and eating fatty foods. You honestly can't expect your children to stay away from these bad habits when they see you do it everyday. Instead, work on creating healthier meals and drinking more water. When you pick up good habits, so do your children.

Last, but not least, set a good example by getting involved. Spend time talking to your children about healthy habits, take them to the grocery store to shop for healthy foods and join parent and child fitness programs. These simple acts can be a great bonding experience and can encourage both parents and children to adopt healthy habits.

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Workout Tip of the Week: Best Pre-Workout Foods for Your Gym Routine

When you've made the commitment to hit the gym after the office, or are one of the disciplined few who gets up during the wee hours of the morning for the workout, you'll need to fuel up with the right types of foods to make it through the challenge ahead. Eating certain foods before the workout can help you push harder on your gym circuit and also help your muscles recover properly.

No matter how busy you may be, a few minutes packing a tote or lunch bag with a pre-workout meal is all it takes to keep yourself on track. Here are some of the best pre-workout foods to snack on before your trip to the gym:

1. Bananas with yogurt. One of the most energizing snacks, bananas support healthy muscle function and will prevent major cramps during the workout. The yogurt will give you a boost of protein and stave off hunger.

2. Energy bars. One of the easiest snack foods to tuck into your tote bag or gym bag, a natural energy bar made with soy protein, oats and other healthy ingredients will give you a boost of energy before your workout. Since these are typically high in calories, you can eat half before and half after your workout to help with muscle recovery.

3. Almonds. Almonds contain essential fatty acids that will keep hunger at bay during your workout, and also give you a boost of energy. Just a handful of almonds (about 10 to 15) is all you need to enjoy the benefits of this healthy treat before the routine.

4. Pasta. Cook up some whole wheat pasta (any shape will do) and eat about half a cup of it about 30 minutes before your workout to enjoy some extra fuel. Your body will burn up the carbohydrates within the first 15 minutes of the workout, and then move into fat burning mode easily.

5. Oatmeal. You can either cook up a cup of all-natural oats (no added sugar variety) and enjoy it with some soy milk for a natural energy boost, or snack on a natural granola bar to enjoy the benefits of oats. Oats will keep you full and keep those energy levels up for up to an hour through your workout.