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The Amazing Benefits of Sweet Potato

Benefits of Sweet Potato

Oh, how we love this sweet root vegetable and here’s why:

Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index and are a great source of fiber, beta carotene, iron magnesium, and vitamins B6, C, & E

Just 1 cup (cubed) provides the following:

Calories: 114
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 73mg (3% DV)
Potassium: 448mg (12% DV)
Total Carbohydrate: 27g (9% DV)
Dietary Fiber: 4g (16% DV)
Sugar: 6g
Protein: 2.1g (4%DV)
Vitamin A: 377% DV
Vitamin B6: 15% DV
Magnesium: 8% DV

Rich in antioxidants, this root can help keep your skin healthy and youthful in appearance, while protecting your delicate cells from damage. This also makes them great for helping to protect us from certain cancers and even help stop the reoccurrence of cancer. The high fiber content will keep your digestive system running smoothly while the potassium keeps your muscles working properly, including your heart! Sweet potatoes are also immune boosters, helping us fight off bacteria and viruses while Vitamin B6 in this veggie is said to help relieve premenstrual symptoms.

TIPS:

Organically-grown sweet potatoes are safer since they haven’t been treated with pesticides, choose organic and eat the skin to get more nutrients. If choosing non-organic sweet potatoes, be sure to peel them before consuming.

The best way to achieve the health benefits of sweet potatoes is by steaming or boiling. This method also offers a lower glycemic index, while boiling or baking raises this level. Also, consume a little healthy fat (3-4grams, not too much!) with your sweet potato to help with the absorption of beta carotene.

Don’t forget to check out our recipe featuring this yummy veggie next Friday!

Peace, Love, & Coconuts Sweet Potatoes! (Just kidding! We still love Coconuts!) 😀

– Letisha, Nalani, & Zeena

My Favorite 5 Fat Burning Foods!

fat burning foods

It seems everyone nowadays is trying to lose weight and get in shape. People are becoming increasingly aware of what they put into their bodies and are ‘hitting the weight room’, so to speak. So, with all of this hard work and dedication, why not have a few helping hands by your side to aid in your weight loss/fitness endeavors. Here are a few and some of my favorite fat burning foods you can add to your diet to help you reach your weight loss goals.

5 Fat Burning Foods

1) Avocado

Packed with fiber & oleic acid (a monounsaturated healthy fat), to suppress your appetite. It also helps to lower bad cholesterol. Flaxseed oil works in a  similar way!

2) Fat Busting Spices

  • Cinnamon

This spice helps to regulate your blood sugar levels. This process is what helps stop your body from storing fat, and in turn, aids in weight loss. Cinnamon also helps you feel fuller for longer because it slows the rate at which contents leave the stomach.

  • Black Pepper

Black pepper helps to stop the formation of new fat cells.

  • Cayanne Pepper

This spice helps to increase your metabolism to burn extra calories.

3) Coconut Oil

This oil contains medium-chain fatty acids which are easily digestible and can actually increase your metabolism. Coconut oil also slows down the rate of digestion which not only helps to regulate your blood sugar but it also helps you to feel fuller for longer, which can help prevent overeating.

4) Apple Cider Vinegar

The pectin present in apple cider vinegar helps you feel full while the high potassium content helps to flush out any boat due to high sodium intake. ACV has also been shown to control spikes in your blood sugar, which in turn helps control the formation of new fat cells. Try to opt for ACV that contains “the mother“.

5) Green Tea 

Green tea contains catechins which increases your metabolism leading to fat loss and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. You can either drink green tea the old fashioned way or try green tea supplements!

– Letisha

Here’s Why Fiber Can Help Clear Your Skin

fiber can help clear your skin

The debate on whether or not acne is influenced by diet is nothing new. I’m sure we’ve all heard at one point or another that candy, soda, and fatty foods cause breakouts, only to be later told that there is no relation between food and acne. The inconsistent information is certainly cause for much confusion among acne sufferers, myself included (once upon a time), but as it turns out diets high in fiber can help clear your skin, and keep it clear.

One very important fact to consider is the relation between our immune systems and acne. A key player in acne is the growth of bacteria within a clogged pore. What fights bacteria? Our immune systems. A strong immune system gives your skin a fighting chance.

Now, the immune system and the digestive systems are more largely linked than many people know. The gastrointestinal tract contains quite a bit of immune tissue which helps to protect our bodies from outside pathogens.

Taking care of your gastrointestinal tract is important when it comes to ensuring your immune system continues to operate optimally. How does one go about doing this? One major part of caring for your digestive system is feeding it well. What you eat does in fact affect the environment within your gastrointestinal tract which ultimately affects the health of your skin. For example, a diet high in sugar can be detrimental because sugar weakens our immune system. A weakened immune system means your body cannot fight the bacteria in your pores as effectively, resulting in worsened acne.

What’s more is our skin is used by the body to detox, so if your body is laden with toxins from eating poorly, it’s going to show up on your skin as your body tries to detox and essentially cleanse itself.

Why Fiber Can Help Clear Your Skin

One major way to keep our gastrointestinal tracts healthy and running smoothly is by ingesting adequate amounts of dietary fiber (at least 25g daily for women and at least 38g for men) from food (not supplements). Fiber comes from plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seed, legumes, and grains. It helps to keep our tract running smoothly, ensuring the timely removal of waste from our bodies, so that toxins are not lingering, wreaking havoc on our immune system.

There are Two Types of Dietary Fiber:

1) Soluble Fiber

  • Dissolves in water
  • Slows down the rate of digestion, which helps to keep you fuller for longer since the contents of your stomach are not emptied as quickly
  • Can lower your level bad cholesterol
  • Can help regulate blood sugar
  • Examples include: oatmeal, beans, nuts, pears, flaxseeds, apples, pears, & carrots

2) Insoluble Fiber

  • Does not dissolve in water
  • Passes relatively whole through the digestive system
  • Has somewhat of a laxative effect in that it speeds up digestion
  • Examples include: whole grains, nuts, seeds, broccoli, grapes, celery, dark
    green leafy vegetables, & raisins

When eating more fiber (especially soluble) be sure to drink more water.

Other ways to care for your digestive system:

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates, including sugar
  • Avoid a diet high in processed foods
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Avoid vegetable oils including
    • Canola Oil
    • Corn Oil
    • Soybean Oil
    • Vegetable oil
    • Peanut Oil
    • Sunflower Oil
    • Safflower Oil
    • Cottonseed Oil
    • Grapeseed Oil
    • Margarine
    • Shortening
    • Artificial butter substitutes
  • Drink lots of water (at least 8 glasses per day). You’ll need more if you sweat more due to increased activity or warmer weather.
  • Try incorporating “good” bacteria into your diet. It is great for keeping your gastrointestinal tract healthy and balanced. I use Bio-Kult Probiotics and drink GT’s Kombucha
  • Get enough rest — at least 7-9 hours per night

Try adding more fiber into your diet if you are an acne suffer and be sure to eat a diet that is clean and includes lots of water.

– Letisha


hibiscus cleansing grains

My TOP 5 Moves for a STRONG & Toned Body!

Here are some of my FAVORITE exercises that everyone should incorporate into their workout routines, if possible! These moves are all great for targeting multiple muscles, giving you more “bang for your buck“, so to speak, during your workout! Not to mention, they’re simple to do and require little to no equipment! They are also practical in the sense that they strengthen muscles your use everyday.

Add them to your workout routine, performing them regularly and you’ll see results in no time!

1) Barbell Squats

Muscular athlete man exercising on a white background

Squats are one of my all-time favorite moves for lower body training. This exercise tones, lifts, and rounds out your glutes as well as tones your quads, hamstrings, and calves. It also strengthens your core and the added barbell targets your upper body. A powerful move indeed that you won’t be sorry you did! All you need here is a barbell and your desired weight. Of course you can always do a simple squat without the weight.

Watch this video on HOW TO DO A BARBELL SQUAT.

2) Burpees

This one is a BIGGIE! Burpees should be on EVERYONE’S To-Do List! This move gets your heart pumping very quickly and is great for conditioning. They buildup your endurance and don’t take very long to do so. They also build muscle, working your entire body including your arms, back, chest, core, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. No equipment needed!

Watch this video on HOW TO DO A BURPEE.

3) Lunges

With lunges you get the benefit of targeting your glutes, abs, hamstrings, & quads. To increase the intensity, try adding a jump in between switching legs or holding dumbbells to the move.

Watch this video on HOW TO DO A LUNGE.

4) Push-Ups

Push ups are a GREAT total body workout. Aside from the obvious toning of your arms, back, shoulders, and chest, you also work your core, glutes, and quads. No equipment needed for this one!

Watch this video on HOW TO DO A PUSH-UP.

5) Plie Squats

I love this fantastic lower-body toning move. You are going to target your inner & other thighs so it helps with those ‘hard-to-reach‘ areas, pulling-in your inner & outer thigh and tightening the glutes. This move doesn’t require equipment but you can always add a kettlebell or dumbbell to add resistance.

Watch this video on HOW TO DO A PLIE SQUAT.

Give these moves a try! FEEL the burn and SEE the difference!

– Letisha

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The Pros & Cons of Drinking Coffee

coffee

Ooooh coffee…one of the world’s most powerful substances. Coffee is definitely a money maker all around the world. In fact, much of the coffee in the U.S. is imported from countries like Brazil, Columbia, parts of Africa and Asia. For so many people, coffee is their morning perk or even their extreme addiction! There has been debate over whether drinking coffee is good or just plain bad for you. Surprisingly, it’s actually a little bit of both! Like many things in life, coffee has great benefits and some not so great side effects.

Drinking Coffee – The Good:

1. May help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Some research suggests that it’s the antioxidants that may be so helpful.

2. Benefits brain cells. Coffee could be a great booster, not just for your mood, but for brain cells as well.

3. Your liver and kidneys may benefit as well by reducing the risk of disease.

4. Besides the internal benefits, coffee (black of course) is also super low in calories, has no sugar, and contains very little sodium, so this makes java a better alternative to those high calorie, fattening, sugary beverages.

5. It’s everywhere and can be made just for you. You can buy it in stores, online, local markets, fair-trade, coffee shops, even at gas stations! Whether it’s dark, light, medium, sweet or with milk, you can make it just the way you like! So many options!

cup-2691_640

Drinking Coffee – The Bad:

1. It can be addictive. Many people feel perkier after a cup, however they can also start to get addicted to getting that caffeine fix every morning. This can be problematic, one sign of that is stopping cold turkey can equal a bad caffeine headache.

2. Coffee can negatively affect a goodnight’s sleep. Sleep is incredibly important and anything that takes away from that may not be worth it. Also be careful of sleep loss and trying to make up for that grogginess with coffee in the morning. Those especially who already suffer from sleep disorders should be careful as well.

3. Too much coffee can make you jittery.

4. It is naturally acidic so sufferers of acid reflux and those prone, might want to avoid coffee.

5. A lot of coffee is produced in countries with no minimum wage laws or (at least they are not enforced). So poor and mistreated farmers and workers are producing coffee beans but do so in tough working conditions.

So there you have it. Decide for yourself is coffee is your favorite beverage or addictive substance to ditch. Let us know your thoughts! Can you make it without coffee?

Meanwhile check out these great resources:

Peace, Love, & Coconuts

– Nalani

The SCALE Says You’re Healthy, But Are You?

I recently read an article in which the CEO of McDonald’s discusses how he lost burger-74748_64020 pounds by simply increasing his level of activity, while continuing his daily consumption of McDonald’s food.

I immediately felt that this article was sending confusing messages about what is “healthy” and I feel the concept of health is often misrepresented and not necessarily just within the article I read, but speaking generally of our society.

It seems that people associate NOT being overweight with being HEALTHY. While being overweight is certainly unhealthy, there are plenty of “THIN” people who are a lot more unhealthy on the inside than outer appearances may reveal. Thin people can actually develop diabetes, for example. The problem lies within this misunderstanding, that as long as you avoid overconsumption of calories, you are fine. Wrong.

belly-2473_640Weight loss or management is simply the effect of calories expended vs calories consumed. So, you could eat McDonald’s everyday for example and be considered a “healthy weight”, but still be unhealthy.

The problem is that the vast majority of fast food is processed & devoid of a lot of essential nutrients. So you see, it’s more than making sure your burger is 300 calories or less. Look beyond the calories because what’s the point of that “less-that-300-calorieburger, if it lacks your vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients? It is merely “empty” calories.

Take the ever-popular Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle from McDonald’s. This breakfast sandwich is made up of griddle cakes (aka bread), sausage, eggs, & cheese. So you’ve got lots of protein, thats great, and you get calcium from the cheese, but what we don’t see is a single vegetable on this sandwich. The fiber content is not great and the sodium content is OUTRAGEOUS! Not only can this type of meal very taxing on your digestive system, but this is a perfect example of the important nutrients you are missing.

While you should consume adequate amounts of  complex carbohydrates, lean protein, & healthy fats; you need more than that. We need vitamins, minerals, & phytonutrients. They are the disease fighters, the preventers of illness, our little soldiers.

Macronutrients

‘Nutrients’ of which we must consume the largest quantity in order to sustain life and grow. (This is where your calories come from)

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fat

Micronutrients

The vitamins and minerals, needed in small quantities, that are used in growth & development and managing the body’s physiological functions.

Sometimes calcium, sodium, magnesium, & potassium are considered “macrominerals” because they are needed in much larger quantities when compared to the other vitamins & minerals.

Phytonutrients

aka Phytochemicals (Phyto meaning “plant” in Greek) are the plant nutrients or chemicals within plants that can help to prevent and/or fight disease & other ailments by boosting the immune system and preventing cellular mutations in our body.

  • Allow our cells to communicate better
  • Prevent Heart disease
  • Prevent Cancer

Phytonutrients are often what give plants their color. Lycopene for example is an antioxidant and the phytonutrient that makes tomatoes red.

For the most part, it’s best to consume fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, & saladbeans in their raw state. Cooking them can affect the phytonutrients and their benefits.

Give your body a chance and feed it well. Literally treat your body as if it were a TEMPLE!

– Letisha

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9 Tips for Staying fit During Summer

We all know the delicious comfort foods served at barbecues, the slush and ice cream on hot days, the yummy summer cocktails, and countless desserts celebrating summer events can have an effect on our waistlines. There are some key things we can do to enjoy summer and all it has to offer, while staying fit and healthy! Summer is a great season to enjoy so I want to show you how to do it the right way. I am a firm believer in making good choices, but no one says you can’t enjoy yourself. It’s all about how you enjoy yourself. Read on for my secret to staying fit during summer.

9 Tips for Staying Fit During Summer

1. Portion Control

It’s easy to overload your plate at cookouts. Pick up a smaller sized plate. You won’t be able to pile on as much that way.

2. Eat a Colorful Plate

At cookouts or any mealtime for that matter, choose lots of fresh fruits and veggies. You will get fuller, faster and are more likely to forgo seconds.

3. Fruits & Veggies Come First

At mealtime, eat your fruits and veggies first, this way, you will start getting full from the fiber/water content and will ideally eat less of everything else on your plate. You can also try drinking a glass of water before your meal to help curb your appetite.

4. Watch the Condiments

The calories in condiments such as BBQ sauce, mayo, and ketchup can add up quickly — use them sparingly!

5. Limit Alcohol Intake

For the most part, alcoholic beverages just add empty calories, not to mention, too much alcohol is hard on your body and can sabotage your health/fitness goals. Enjoy a drink or two, but don’t go crazy

6. Drink More Water

Staying hydrated, especially during hot, sunny days is so important. Dehydration often causes us to overeat because your brain can’t tell the difference between thirst and hunger (fun fact!).

7. Move Your Body

Outdoor activities including swimming, sports, running, roller blading, skateboarding,  hiking, and bike riding are all perfect ways to enjoy the weather and squeeze in a great workout to keep fit during summer.

8. Careful with the sweets!

It’s fine to occasionally indulge in a summer treat like slush, ice cream, or other sweets, but always get the smallest size possible. Watch the toppings and don’t treat yourself every day. Once in a while is fine, but if you are craving something sweet, opt for fresh fruit. Chilled pineapple, watermelon, and other fresh fruits are refreshing and satisfying. Try retraining yourself to crave these instead of processed treats by detoxing your taste buds.

9. Wear Sunscreen

Protect yourself from the suns harmful rays and lather up!

What do you do to stay fit and healthy during summer?

– Letisha

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Processed Is Still Processed.

More people are concerned with buying local or organic foods, reducing waste, supporting their local natural health food stores, etc.  With the growing popularity of healthier and more naturally focused lifestyle choices, many companies have capitalized on this opportunity. Although may folks have opted more healthier food and natural options, just as many do not want give up the foods they enjoy (despite being less than healthy). I am talking about those processed foods. Soda, cereal, chips, cookies, prepackaged meals, crackers, fruit snacks are all generally considered unhealthy due to their often high caloric content, unhealthy fats, sodium, sugar, and preservatives. However, many health food stores are selling the same products. Stores such as Whole Foods sell cereals, chips, meals, etc. but these foods are being marketed as more natural options (and I am not arguing that all are not). It is important that despite that fact that a cereal may be comprised of more natural ingredients that doesn’t mean it is necessarily sooo much better for you.

Let’s examine a popular processed comfort food: macaroni and cheese.kraft                         amy

There is the ever so recognizable Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese and there is also Amy’s Macaroni & Cheese sold stores such as Whole Foods. Let’s compare the nutrition. Both products when prepared will cost you 400 calories, at least 500 mg of sodium (Yikes!), and 47g of carbs. To be fair, I know I am using a comfort food, which is going to be unhealthy regardless of any way you spin it. The point is simply this, processed is still processed AND natural always doesn’t equal better nutritional value.

Remember when you are in the grocery store:

1.       Limit the processed foods. Many of the foods we already need, nature has prepared for us already. Try to stick with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other extremely minimally processed items.

2.       If you DO buy processed, opt for the one with less “i-can’t-even-pronounce-these-words” ingredients in it.

3.       Always look at the nutritional value. Even when buying items with more natural ingredients please don’t assume that it has less calories and trick yourself into believing that it is automatically better for you.

4.       Don’t get frustrated. Developing healthier eating habits can take a good amount time. Unfortunately there are many things that can get you off track but it’s important always jump back on!

Peace, love, and coconuts!

– Nalani

Product Review: Shred – The Revolutionary Diet!

So I’ve always believed that the key to a healthy body is a healthy lifestyle, not a sfad, crash diet, temporary diet, miracle pill, the latest diet smoothie on the market, or even surgery.

The recipe for good health is proper nutrition, adequate physical exercise, sufficient water intake, sleep, and happiness! 🙂 No magic involved.

Now I happened to see a book on the market called Shred: The Revolutionary Diet by Ian K. Smith, M.D., and as bloggers, my sisters and I are always on the lookout for newly released products, books, information, etc. So I thought, well let me give this a try for my readers and let them know what I find…

The program length was to last 6 weeks. I stuck to it for about 2½ weeks before life became too hectic and I could no longer keep up with the strict eating timeline /schedule that the book requires you to follow.

Essentially the schedule was:

  • Meal 1 at 8:30 am
  • Snack 1 at 10:00 am
  • Meal 2 at 11:30 am
  • Snack 2 at 1:00 pm
  • Meal 3 at 3:30 pm
  • Meal 4 at 7:00 pm
  • Snack 3 at 8:30 pm

I tend to already eat small meals and snacks spread throughout the day so this wasn’t too difficult to follow initially, but sticking to the requirements of what I was allowed to eat and when just became a hassle!

Overall…

PROS:

  • The book offers a great balanced diet, full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water, & unprocessed foods
  • Conceptually, it can offer up some helpful information with regards to proper nutrition
  • Can help you establish good eating habits (what to eat vs. what not to eat)
  • Helps with portion control & calorie intake
  • Helps improve water intake
  • Offers food substitutions if you don’t like a particular choice on a certain day
  • Great for people who may just be starting out on their journey to better

CONS:

  • Unrealistic demands with regard to time/schedule for eating. (no two people have the exact same life schedule!)
  • Not realistic for long term

Honestly, this is not a bad book! This is not a bad diet, in fact it is one of the better ones I have seen. What I hope to communicate is that this book did not work for ME and as a reader, you should not look to this book to solve your problems, fix your diet, make you healthy, etc. You need to look within yourself for that. This book can be your guide, but remeber that you are the driver and YOU decide what works best for you. If you have had success with this book, I am truly glad you were able to find something that worked for you. If this book doesn’t work for you or suit your needs/lifestyle, don’t view it as a failure on your part, just know that it was not the solution for YOU and you simply need to figure out what DOES work for you on your journey to better health! 🙂

Have you heard of/read this book?

– Letisha

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Feeling blue? Blame your food.

Ok so the title is a little misleading. You shouldn’t blame your food for the reason why you may be in such a sad sappy mood, but your mood can be greatly influenced by the foods you consume. This influence happens chemically and physically. Let’s start with the chemical reaction in the brain.

In the brain…

Many components that make up food influence key parts of the brain such as amino acids and fatty acids. These substances actually catalyze the release of chemicals such as serotonin or dopamine (which are responsible for that happy feeling). Vitamins such as B and D also help with serotonin levels in order to help stabilize mood.

In the body…

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (complex and simple ones like cookies) often give a person the feeling of cookies-1805_640happiness. Carbohydrates influence the serotonin in the brain. Also, carbs like pasta and bread often fill the stomach up pretty quickly and gives the satisfaction of fullness. Full stomach and happy brain means that you feel happy all over.

Protein

Like carbs, protein makes you feel satiated for longer.  The omegas found in nuts also help stabilize the brain. The body also loves the fat and feels as though it is not going into starvation mode. The result means you feel in a good mood and not hungry.

almonds

Vitamins/Minerals

There are many vitamins and minerals that are good for you, but there are certain ones that definitely help with your mood. Vitamin B and Vitamin D are great for immunity and energy boosting.

Now with all this info in mind, you may be thinking that eating some fatty, vitamin blueenriched sweet carb will help make you happier, but chances are that it wont. And any happiness probably will be extremely short lived. Simple carbs like white bread and sweets may make you feel good by giving you a sugar rush and filling you up quickly but in few hours you’re hungry and perhaps even feeling depressed that you ate something unhealthy.  It’s important maintain a healthy diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates. A healthier diet means more energy for more activities that, like foods, stimulate feelings of happiness.

Remember to take your time when creating a well balanced for yourself and your sure to find your inner peace, love and coconuts.

 – Nalani