Foods That Help Digestion: Expert Tips from Organic Avenue

Organic Avenue is now serving up a healthy array of fresh menu items. We talked to their culinary experts about how to improve digestion, just in time for the holidays!

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If you haven’t yet heard, Organic Avenue, one of the city’s favorite green juice destinations, is now serving up a menu of seriously delicious and nutritious alternatives to your typical grab-and-gos. Soups, salads, sandwiches and even desserts have now made their way into the health-conscious establishments across NYC, and when we learned about the impressive healing properties some of the new recipes have to offer, we had to learn more.

At Organic Avenue, every item on the menu is carefully crafted to maximize both flavor and nutritional benefits for the body. Since the holidays are in full-swing, we were particularly impressed to learn that many of the meals actually aid in digestion – something we could all benefit from this time of the year.

Below, Organic Avenue’s Director of Culinary Development, Michele Di Pietro and Assistant Training Manager/Digestive Health Extraordinaire, Ryan Neller, reveal exactly what you should (and shouldn’t) be eating this holiday season; and shell out some expert advice to get your body functioning in peak condition just in time for the new year.

On the ultimate ingredient that helps digestion…

“Our shot of pure ginger juice is the perfect boost to any fruit or green juice for optimal digestion and nutrient assimilation. You can even down a Ginger Shot on its own 20 minutes before a meal to ensure digestive success. Ginger is a powerful digestive aid due to its active compounds, gingerol and shogaol, which stimulate the flow of saliva, bile and gastric secretions through the digestive tract.”

On what foods are the most common poor digestion culprits…

“Carbonated beverages (aside from fresh kombucha) hinder digestion big time. Soda, champagne, beer, tonic water, etc. create excess gas pressure in the body—leading to bloat and discomfort. Dairy products are extremely mucous-forming and clog the digestive tract—avoid whenever possible. If you’re a milk and cheese lover, there are many nutrient-dense nut and seed alternatives that the body can easily process.”

On pairing ingredients to improve absorption…

“One of our favorite pairings is a leafy green, such as kale or spinach, with a vitamin C-rich fruit or veggie, like lemon or red bell pepper. Leafy greens are rich in non-heme iron, which aids in the production of red bloods cells that circulate oxygen throughout the body. This form of iron is best absorbed into the system when consumed in tandem with vitamin C. Easy ways to create this synergy at home are to add lemon juice to your salad dressing, or to blend spinach into your fruit smoothie. When you pop into an Organic Avenue store, make sure to try our best-selling Lite Weight Smoothie, which does just that.”

On healthy holiday swaps…

“If you’re going to indulge in alcoholic beverages, definitely swap the champagne and beer for organic, sulfate-free wine or triple-distilled vodka. Carbonation equals gas and bloating. When you’re surveying the spread of appetizers, skip the chips—and dip with crudité instead. Bonus points for the hosts who serve guacamole or hummus instead of dairy-based dips.”

On the one ingredient to AVOID this holiday season…

“It may be difficult to avoid completely, but it is possible to limit consumption of refined, white sugar during holiday festivities. Steer clear of those dinner rolls and layer cakes. Instead, load up the majority of your plate with salad and cooked veggie sides, and allow yourself to enjoy the one or two indulgences you truly love.

We believe that dessert is essential during the holidays, so bring your own healthy treat for everyone to enjoy. Some of our favorites are brownies made with whole grain flour and coconut sugar, or gluten-free cookies made with coconut flour and dark chocolate chips. There are many simple and delicious healthy recipes in the blogosphere to experiment with, or you could always bring a bundle of OA Chocolate Mousse for all to share, and possibly get hooked on!”

What are your favorite foods to eat that promote proper digestion? To check out the delicious-ness that Organic Avenue is serving up, click here.

Noelle Chehab is the Senior Writer of Spa Week Daily.

Why Chocolate Is Healthier Than You Thought

New research shows chocolate is more healthy than we thought, giving us another excuse to indulge!

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As self-proclaimed choc-a-holics, we here at Spa Week seize just about any opportunity to indulge in the tasty treat. So when we discovered new research that shows chocolate has even more health benefits than we initially thought, we knew we had to share them with you, stat!

While many of us know that dark chocolate is a heart-healthy treat, there are some pretty unusual benefits that you probably never knew. And thanks to this new info, you don’t have to feel any guilt when you take a bite into your chocolate of choice.

Godiva

One of our favorite ways to get our fix is chocolate covered strawberries because they’re always enjoyable regardless of the time of day. Apparently Godiva agrees with us, because juicy strawberries of the utmost ripeness coated with a rich layer of their famous chocolate are now available whenever your craving strikes.

Just stop by a Godiva boutique near you, and you can enjoy these luxe treats individually or as a gift box of six. And, since you can reap the surprising benefits of chocolate, (as outlined below) you now have the perfect excuse to spring for the whole box!

  1. Fights Tooth Decay – A study by Tulane University shows that an extract of cocoa powder might more effective than fluoride in preventing cavities.
  2. Moisturizes Skin – While different in color, cocoa butter is derived from chocolate, and it literally feeds your skin with moisture for a flawless glow.
  3. Boosts Your Mood – One study found that chocolate has the same euphoric effects as kissing, but the benefits last four times longer!
  4. Makes You More Awake – Dark chocolate has been shown to increase circulation in the brain, which makes you more alert and fights mental fatigue.

We saved our favorite benefit for last. Chocolate is a major beauty booster thanks to high levels of antioxidants. Head over to SpaWeek.com to book a $50 treatment featuring the delectable ingredient.

Creative Commons License 

Noelle Chehab is the Junior Editor of Spa Week Daily. 

Summer Lite Bite: Quinoa, Avocado and Corn Salad

Celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder’s whipped up a healthy summer salad.

By PJ Gach

By blairingmedia (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By blairingmedia (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for something yummy to eat, that’s good for you and not heavy? Check out this Quinoa, Avocado and Corn Salad created by New York Times best selling author (The Beauty Detox Foods) and nutritionist, Kimberly Snyder.

Read 10 Ways to Spoil Your Dad on Father’s Day 

Make it the night before and guests will be wowed by the flavor, and you of course!

Quinoa, Avocado and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

3 cups water

1 ½ cups dry quinoa

Raw kernels or 2 ears of organic corn (preferably white, if available), shaved right from the cob

2 avocados, sliced and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 Tbs. finely chopped red onion

 

Dressing Ingredients:

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. Bragg Liquid Aminos or low-sodium tamari

1 Tbs. brown rice vinegar

 

Directions:

*Be sure to soak the quinoa overnight in water and rinse well before using.

 

In a saucepan bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, add quinoa and simmer until the water is absorbed and the grains become translucent and soft (about 10 to 15 minutes). Pour the quinoa through a strainer and set it to the side in a bowl.

 

Blend all the dressing ingredients together in a blender until smooth, or simply add them to a small bowl and whisk well with a fork.

Add the kernels of corn to the quinoa, along with the avocado and chopped onion. Mix well. Pour the dressing on top of the mixture and mix well again.

 

For more of her healthy, tasty recipes, check out Kimberly’s website.

 

PJ Gach is Managing Editor, Spa Week Daily and Social Media Manager, Spa Week.

Bringing Your Sexy Back: How I Shed 58 Lbs

To be inducted into our Hot Mom Spa Squad, every mom must swear by the Oath of momME Time; a promise to reserve moments spent catering ONLY to herself – reading, sleeping and spa-ing included. Not only is momME time essential to saying sane, today’s Hot Mom proves it’s also essential to keeping your body and health. If you loved Rachael Pontillo’s 8 Mom Rules to Live By: How I Lost 70 lbs with Kids, you’ll love the advice behind this next Hot Mom’s success story, too. I introduce to you Deanna Verbouwens, who used her momME time to make 58 pounds disappear.

Deanna Verbouwens is a writer, runner, blogger, working mom of two unbelievably active and very funny boys ages 4 and 7. Deanna is currently training for her 6th half marathon, of course that all between working full time, and managing spaghetti on the ceiling, a dumped out fish bowl, a house and a family. To catch up on how Deanna tries to get it all done without completely failing visit her at The Unnatural Mother. Deanna also writes for ModernMom.com and ThisMotherCanRun.com

By Deanna Verbouwens

A quick glance at the clock tells you it’s 5:00, the kids are running around the house, you’re racking your brain about what to make for dinner, and just as the tornado is about to touch down tears well up in your eyes because you realize that once again your plan to go to work out went out the window with your sanity.

Step away from the chips, that cake and the monster helping of leftover chicken parm – take a moment and breath, because stuffing your emotions with food will only act as a temporary high… believe me, been there and still conquering that.

It’s not a secret that moms need their momME time; how do I know this? Because I have successfully lost 58 pounds (and still going) by simply making momME time a top priority. Three years ago I weighed in over 225 pounds wearing a size 18/20.  I thought I was eating healthy until I realized that my portions were out of control, the salads I was chomping down on were clocking in over 1200 calories (for one meal!) and I couldn’t even run a half a block.

Now, my favorite momME time activity is training for endurance races and getting a manicure/pedicure – these help me unwind, and keep me honest. With five half marathons, two triathlons, and countless 5 and 10k’s under my belt, I’m wearing a size 12 – proof that following these simple steps will help you bring sexy back as well as your sanity! I’ll continue to use these too, as I shed the last 20 pounds.

So… let’s get started!

Healthy Eating Exercise
  • Plan…Plan…Plan. You have to plan your meals for your family, so don’t forget about yourself!
  • Don’t skip breakfast* – yes, it’s an oldie but goodie. Think of your body as a car, you wouldn’t run your car on empty, would you? Same theory.
  • Have 3 meals and one-two snacks a day.* Meals should be between 300-400 calories, snacks never over 200. (1200-1400 calories a day)
  • Have 2 fruits and 3 veggies a day* – add a ½ banana to breakfast, a cup of shredded carrots to your sandwich, a handful of baby spinach to your pasta. Make it simple!
  • 5 or less – Eat only processed foods that have five ingredients or less. Don’t want to fill up on empty calories.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes: read the labels, 15 almonds count as 1 serving – that’s 170 calories – imagine how many you downed at a cocktail party?
  • Plan 3 treats a week. Craving a donut? Want that Café Latte Mochachino? Want a glass or two of wine? Have it!
  • Plan…Plan…Plan. Determine when you can fit in exercise, are you a morning, afternoon or night person? Each week map out the time and days you can get a work out in and stick to your plan!
  • Start with 10 minutes a day; 3 days a week. Even if it’s walking up and down your stairs. Do it!
  • Do something you enjoy – whether it’s playing Just Dance on the Wii, tennis, an at home aerobic DVD, walking, body pump class at the gym, running, going for a bike ride. Anything!
  • Each week increase the time spent exercising in 5 minute increments – at your comfort zone until you reach thirty minutes a day.
  • Try anything once! You may fall in love with Zumba or you might have two left feet, but if you don’t try you’ll never know.
  • Find a work out buddy, in real life, or online. Having support will keep you motivated and accountable.
  • Don’t give up, you owe it to yourself to be healthy.

*Quick ideas are below!

Simplicity works. Don’t overwhelm yourself. It takes 66 days to form a good habit. Just by taking two tips a week and incorporating them into your life, you’ll be well on your way to healthy lifestyle in less than 66 days!

 

Keep it simple, realistic, and manageable.  Don’t over think anything, a handful of lettuce, and two slices of tomato to your sandwich at lunch bulks it up and counts as a vegetable.

 

Measuring out your portions. Let’s be real. It’s time consuming and can be annoying, however you’ll understand how much you’re eating, know what a portion is, over time it will get easier, and it’s a great strategy for a long healthy life.

 

Exercising will help you sleep better, you’ll have more patience with everyone and its quality time with yourself that’s much needed!

And above all, if you have one too many slices of pizza, or too many cookies, don’t beat yourself up, make the next decision a better one.

If you don’t make time for yourself you won’t be able to accomplish anything, leave the dishes, the laundry and even your children for a moment, get that momME time believe me it all can wait, your sanity can’t!

As the saying goes, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone.”

Now, get going, and schedule that momME to accomplish your goals!

 

Breakfast Ideas:

  • Hardboiled egg, ½ banana, 1 slice of whole wheat toast, 1 teaspoon of butter, coffee
  • Smoothie: 1 cup of frozen fruit (medley: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), 1 cup baby spinach , 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 cup of OJ (get Tropicana’s Trop50, it’s only 50 calories!), pop in a blender, blend and drink!
  • 1 cup greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of honey, ½ banana (or 1 serving mixed nuts).
  • 1 mini bagel, 2 scrambled egg whites with onions and peppers, ½ grapefruit.

Snack Ideas:

  • 1 servings of any nuts
  • Any  Fruit, 1 string cheese
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter, apple
  • Hardboiled egg (don’t exceed three eggs a week), 10 pretzels
  • Cut up bell pepper and 2 tablespoons hummus

Lunch Ideas:

  • 2 Wasa crackers (light), 2 slices of turkey breast (low sodium), 1 laughing cow triangle, 8 olives, 1 cup of sliced bell peppers, 2 tablespoons of hummus.
  • 1 cup of butter nut squash soup, 1 apple, tomato and onion salad (little olive oil salt/pepper)
  • 1 piece of grilled chicken over baby spinach, olive oil, 1 cut

Dinner Ideas:

  • 1 cup pasta, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 cup baby spinach, small salad with tomatoes, onions carrots.
  • 1 ½ slices of Pizza, small salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, carrots
  • 1 piece grilled chicken breast, 1 cup string beans (made on stovetop with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt/pepper)
  • 4 ounce hamburger, 1 cup of brussel sprouts, 1 cup of roasted potatoes

Lose Weight By Accident: Ditch the Diet Soda


Guest contributor: Kavita Jhaveri-Patel

As promised in an earlier blog post, and out of necessity because I freaking see people drinking this everywhere, today’s blog post is dedicated to diet soda, and at large diet drinks. I have to mention you are going to be shocked at what you are feeding your body when you have diet soda. I also won’t leave you hanging by not giving you any alternatives. You will get my top 3 soda-like drinks that will be just as satisfying as soda, and your waistline will thank you for it.

The artificial sweetener in most diet sodas, aspartame, is the key ingredient in our discussion here. Wikipedia (law) says: aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is approximately 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The quantity of aspartame needed to produce a sweet taste is so small that its caloric contribution is negligible.

That is why diet drinks are calorie free but still sweet, but the big misnomer is less calories = less weight. We need calories because that is energy. We just need them from whole foods that are natural and good for us!

Aspartame has been linked to anxiety, memory loss, insomina, headaches, and way more. All of these claims have also been disproven. However companies use this chemical because it is WAY cheap, and something in my gut says if there is any linkage to those things, then I am STAYING AWAY from it.

If mother nature didn’t create it, I probably shouldn’t eat it.

I should also note, after my research I found there is nothing that states aspartame is good for you; it is all about how it is safe to have. In order for my body to function optimally I need to feed it foods that are going to be GREAT for me, not something that had to be tested before I could eat it just to prove that it might not be all that bad for me.

Ditch the diet stuff—it isn’t helping you lose weight, it is only feeding your body chemicals. Your body then has no idea how to break down the chemicals, expending energy to try to digest it, and draining you out of energy!

If you want to lose the weight by accident and have the energy you deserve then replace the diet soda with these drinks:

  • Make your own – Get some fresh squeezed juice (of any kind with a little bit of pulp), or squeeze it yourself, add some club soda, and voile nutritious delicious fizzy drink.
  • IZZE – you can pick one up practically anywhere; they even have them at Chipotle! They are 70% juice and yummy flavors like clementine.
  • Oogavè – Sweetened only with organic agave nectar, this drink is the most soda-like out of the bunch. Go on try it out!

Note: If you are concerned about the sugar content, of the alternatives, don’t be as long as you don’t drink gallons of it a day your weight will not be effected.

Body confidence expert and health and lifestyle speaker Kavita Jhaveri-Patel. She has been featured in Time Out New York, Healthy Style NY, and has been mentioned on FoxLive News. Receive her free report 7 Mistakes Most Women Make When Trying to Lose Weight and How to Avoid Them by clicking here.