How to Eat Your Christmas Tree – Edible & Healthy Pine Needles!

Decked out in lights and ornaments, your Christmas tree is capable of doing more than just stand pretty. The same goes for that evergreen proudly stretching its branches in your backyard.

Those needles your tree displays are chock full of vitamins A & C, with a minty, fresh, and pine-like flavor. And you better believe they are edible.

Not sure what pine tastes like? Go ahead and grab a needle from the tree and find out. All pine needles are suitable to eat, though you may find that you enjoy the flavor of some types over others. Just steer clear of any trees you believe may have been sprayed with pesticides.

We suggest chewing on their ends, almost like a stick of gum, or steeping them into a tea, the most common way pines are consumed. Here’s a recipe to get your started.  Once you create the simple tea, add a little honey and drink as is, or use the vitamin tonic to flavor soups, breads, and sauces, or any other recipe you in which you might add a liquid.

It’s a great way to try something new, and really put your holiday tree to use – especially when you’re about to send it out the door at the end of the season. However, if you’re feeling a bit dubious about Pine Needle tea, we’ve put together a collection of other wintertime tea tonics for boosting your health and keeping you warm. Check out a few of our favorites below!

Lemon Ginger Tea Read the rest of this entry »


Meatless Monday: Watermelon, Basil & Feta Salad

Watermelon health

Watermelons are synonymous with summer.

Like the first jump into a lake or pool, the fruit creates a cool, crisp and refreshing experience for the hottest of days. And since it’s made up of 92% water, that experience is a light and hydrating one, too.

These latter traits are ones ice cream just can’t match. Hence why when it comes to choosing between watermelon juice vs. sticky vanilla dripping down our hands, 9 times out of 10 you’ll find us reaching for the melon. That little bicep workout we get from doing so is just an added benefit. (The average melon is 20 pounds, 14 of those pounds being sweet, juicy deliciousness.)

Aside from the obvious benefits of keeping watermelon your summer snack of choice, below are 3 other reasons to chow down. Click here to keep reading…


Top 5 Reasons to Workout in the Morning

morning workout

Wake-up, workout. You lace up your running shoes, get ready to rock and roll, and head out for some quality time with the morning sun. The birds are chirping, your endorphins are flowing, and the day is started on a fresh foot.

For some of us, that’s a challenging vision – the thought of waking up any earlier than needed seems nearly impossible. You’d be surprised, however, at all the benefits a rise and shine workout can bring. Some of these perks are so good you may just find yourself convinced to set your alarm a tad earlier and embrace the morning – for your body’s sake.

Here are our top 5 reasons for sweating it out in the a.m.:

  • You’ll kick off the day with a revved up metabolism, meaning you’ll burn off more calories you consume throughout your waking hours. Studies also show that working out in the morning burns 3 x more fat compared to other time slots.
  • You won’t have to squeeze it in before happy hour, or worry about rushing a workout in before any of the other outdoor evening activities that abound this time of year.
  • You’ll head off to work in a happier, more focused state of mind. That rush of endorphins you get after exercising is proven to enhance your mood and fuel you with extra energy throughout the day. Exercise is also shown to increase your ability to focus and concentrate, which will help you plow through the day and accomplish your goals.
  • You’re likely to have better long-term results. Research shows that those who exercise in the morning are more consistent exercisers than those who wait till the afternoon or evening.
  • You will sleep better. Studies suggest that wakeup-and-workout’ers sleep better than evening exercisers. Poor quality of sleep can plays a huge role in weight gain, since sleep influences certain hormones that control our appetite. Morning workouts will not only burn calories all on their own, but the improved ZzZ’s they ensue may also help control and reduce your appetite overall.

Fewer scheduling conflicts, improved mood and energy levels, and some quality “you” time…need we say more? Good.

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Gear up the night before. Save precious morning minutes by having your workout outfit already picked out, and your music playlist ready for the play button to be pushed. With your gear waiting for you, it’ll make it harder to crawl back into bed once you get up.
  • Go to bed earlier. Sounds like a no-brainer, but if you want to be up by 5 or 6 a.m. to train, and feel good about it, a 10 p.m. bedtime will make all the difference.
  • Have breakfast waiting for you. What’s better to reward your efforts than an exciting meal to refuel afterwards? Rushing around to fit breakfast in, however, is never fun. Negate that scenario with Overnight Oats, a LifeVest favorite that combines protein-packed yogurt with fiber-filled oats and sliced banana for a side of potassium.

Before you say no, we want to challenge you to one additional a.m. sweat session per week. Whether it’s yoga, a jog/walk, trip to the gym, etc., push yourself through it, and then become mindful of noticing how you feel throughout the rest of your day. You may also notice how it begins to become easier as you make it a routine!


The sweetest Valentine’s Day treat for you and your body

Dark chocolate healthy

By: Carissa Janay

Feeling your sweet tooth heating up as this Valentine’s Day rolls around? Are you ready for a date with some Ben and Jerry’s? Wait just a minute. Just because Valentine’s Day is a holiday largely linked to candy consumption, it does not mean you have to blow all your goals. There is a healthy (and sweet) way to indulge in your favorite Valentine’s treat: Chocolate.

Did someone say chocolate?!

Simply stated, what the studies show: When eaten responsibly – i.e. in moderation – chocolate has plenty of health benefits.

The catch? Not all chocolate is created equal: To gain the benefits, stick to the dark stuff. First, dark chocolate lacks the dairy and sugar that milk chocolate has so it contains less calories, sugar and fat, automatically making it a better choice.

Second, when dark chocolate is at least 70% cacao, it contains phenols. What are phenols you ask? They’re plant compounds that support heart health, proper brain function, and even help control blood sugar levels. Think of them as you would of the antioxidants of red wine. As with wine, however, moderation is key. Even those phenols can’t redeem you from too much indulgence.

Finally, dark chocolate has been shown to release the same chemicals (phenylethylamine or PEA) in your body that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. So sweet!

The takeaway: Save the candy hearts for their sayings, not your mouth, and instead let your taste buds say “be mine” to some chocolate. Just make sure to keep it of the dark variety, and share it with those you love. Sharing is caring, and moderation is key!


Recipes for health: Winter Squash & Quinoa with Curry Lime Vinaigrette

Winter Squash & Quinoa with Curry Lime Vinaigrette

 

Coming down with a case of the winter blues? You’re not alone. Whether mild or far-reaching, cabin fever falls upon many of us once February strikes. The new novelty of winter is long gone, and its end still feels many weeks away.

With winter in full throttle, it’s more important than ever to fill up on warming, healthy eats. A healthy body leads to a happy mind, and much of this starts at the dinner table.

What we’re bringing to our dinner plate this week? This Winter Squash & Quinoa with Curry Lime Vinaigrette from Food-Fitness-FreshAir. Quinoa is a rich source of whole grain protein and has just under 225 calories per cup cooked.

Curry is also a powerhouse, largely due to the turmeric it contains. Numerous studies have shown the spice can help prevent everything from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.

Fill your bowl with both quinoa and curry from the recipe that follows, and say hello to a colorful display free of any winter shades of blue. Check out the recipe here.