Healthy Living on a Budget: 4 Smart and Simple Tips

Healthy Living on a Budget: 4 Smart and Simple Tips

Raise the Rates campaigns have been in the news recently. While most of us are fortunate enough to not have to turn to the social safety net, it’s still important to know that healthy living on a budget is entirely possible. Keeping food costs low while looking after health is an essential life skill, but one that few of us are taught at school.

Here are four tips for healthy living on a budget to help your family practice mindful spending while prioritizing health:

Plan, plan, plan 1. Plan, Plan, Plan

It can’t be said enough. If you have a plan and stick to it, you can dramatically cut food waste and outlandish expenses.

Start by designating a time, perhaps before grocery shopping, to work out a meal plan for the week ahead. Write down all the groceries you need to meet that meal plan, and any pantry items that need refilling. Head to the store and only get what is on your list.

When planning, opt for meals you can prepare in bulk, such as chilli, soups, casseroles, or curry. This will allow you to take advantage of economy size packs, saving you money while cutting down on food waste. It’s also a big timesaver, as you can freeze extra batches for a quick meal later.

2. Shop the Edges

Hitting the grocery store with a list is one of the best ways to stay healthy on a budget, but it also pays to shop the edges at the store. In most large grocery stores, this means sticking to the fresh food aisles, bulk and dried goods, and the bakery.

If you know your kids get peckish and demanding at the store, plan distractions. This might mean taking a healthy snack for them to eat, or allowing them to listen to music through headphones. Whatever you do, don’t give them their own cart unless you assign them specific items to track down for you. This will also help avoid the middle of the grocery store where the highly processed and packaged foods tend to lay in wait.

Build stronger communities through food sharing 3. Build Stronger Communities through Sharing Food

If you’re shopping for just yourself or a small family, it can be hard to take advantage of bulk discounts. You may also find that without careful planning you tend to generate a lot of food waste. One way to tackle both costly problems is to set up a network of friends who share food.

This could mean forming an organized buying club that shops for specific goods at certain times of year. It could also be a less formal arrangement where you take extra food over to a friend’s place to share when you have it. Or, it could simply be getting together with friends to cook a large, shared meal.

Preparing healthy communal meals can be a fun, social way to avoid the cost and temptation of restaurant fare. Sharing food is also a great way to form close friendships and build stronger communities, allowing everyone’s resources to stretch a little further when times are hard.

4. Pack a Picnic

Piggy-backing on the idea of sharing cooking responsibilities, packing a picnic is another great way to stay healthy on a budget. If you are going for a hike, a stroll in the park, a day at the beach, or even to the movies, packing your own snacks and meals is almost guaranteed to be cheaper and healthier than anything you pick up. Below are some great, healthy options for a picnic:

  • Homemade granola bars
  • Fruit
  • Raw veggies and hummus
  • Rice crackers with almond butter and banana slices
  • Homemade popcorn with nutritional yeast and olive oil

Whatever you choose to pack, you’ll be avoiding overpriced, heavily salted, fatty, and sugary food that can hurt your health and your bank balance.

5 Foods to Help You Feel Full and Satisfied

5 Foods to Help You Feel Full and Satisfied

Does your breakfast, mid-day snack, or dinner leave you feeling hungry a short time after eating it? Incorporating foods to help you feel full into your meals and snacks throughout the day will help with that!

Fiber and Fullness

Foods high in fiber take a longer time to digest, thus making you feel full for longer. Pairing high fiber foods together during meals will help keep your cravings at bay and allow you to go longer periods of time without feeling that gnawing of hunger.

The following are the daily recommended intakes of fiber for men and women [1]:

  • Women 18–50 years old, 25 g
  • Women 50+ years old, 21 g
  • Men 18–50 years old, 30–38 g per day

Here are five simple and delicious foods to help you feel full throughout the day:

Raspberries 1. Raspberries

A lot of people don’t know that fruit can bring in a great amount of fiber, especially raspberries. Just one cup of these tart berries brings in 8 g of fiber a day!

Whether they’re part of your morning smoothie, tossed on top of your overnight oats, or stirred into yoghurt as an afternoon snack, raspberries are a filling sweet treat.

2. Lentils

Lentils are a wonderful legume that can be used in a variety of ways such as soups, salads, breads, stir-fried recipes, and more. Just one cup of lentils boasts 15.6 g of fiber – and as a bonus, lentils are also high in protein and have been known to help with digestion.

3. Black Beans

Black beans come in with a fiber count of 15 g per one cup. They also help maintain a healthy colon, and who doesn’t want that? * Toss a hearty handful of black beans into your burrito, stir-fry, soup, or salad and you won’t be reaching for a snack anytime soon!

Green Peas 4. Green Peas

Green Peas make this list because they’re an often overlooked veggie, even though they’re full of vitamins and mineral and so easy to add to meals.

Peas are great in soups, fried rice, pasta, and can even be blended into a nutritious soup! Best of all, these green goodies provide 8.8 g of fiber in just one cup!

5. PGX Satisfast Organic Vegan Protein Bar

Containing 15 g of plant protein, PGX Satisfast Organic Vegan Protein Bars** are the perfect treat to help keep you full and satisfied when you’re on the go! Available in three tasty flavors, these bars are also vegan and gluten free!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

**Drink additional water [8 fl. oz] after ingesting PGX. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX.

References:

[1] Vann, Madline. “Fiber: How Much Is Too Much?” EverydayHealth.com. N.p., 2 June 2011. Web. 15 May 2016.

Strength Training for Runners: 5 Basic Moves

Strength Training For Runners: 5 Basic Moves

Do stronger, more efficient, comfortable runs sound too good to be true? Not at all! These are the benefits of strength training for runners.

Running is a repetitive movement that works specific muscle groups. The right strength training exercises can help even out imbalances between opposing muscles while maintaining your current muscle mass. In other words, your goal is not to bulk up, but to support your running performance.

To get started, here are five basic strength training exercises to do once or twice a week:

planks 1. Planks

Planks work your abs, back, shoulders, glutes, and hips – not to mention your willpower! These core muscles support your upper body as you run and help keep your movements efficient.

As a bonus, the plank is an exercise you can do virtually anywhere, making it an ideal move for people who travel a lot.

Tips:

  • Begin with 3 sets of 15 second planks, gradually working towards one minute.
  • Keep your stomach muscles tight when executing this move.

2. Heel Walks

As a runner, your feet, ankles, and shins take a lot of stress. Help keep them strong and reduce your susceptibility to shin splints with heel walks.

Tips:

  • Begin with 3x 30-second walks, gradually working towards one minute.
  • Execute the heel walks in bare feet.
  • Walk in place, not forwards.

lunges 3. Lunges

The good ‘ole lunge! Anyone who’s done even the most basic exercise program is familiar with the lunge – and for good reason! Lunges build strength and balance in your quads, hips, and glutes, important muscles for everyone, but particularly for runners.

 

Tips:

  • Begin with 3 sets of 5 lunges per leg.
  • Lower yourself slowly into each lunge.
  • Keep your forward knee behind your toes.

4. Seated Row With a Resistance Band

Strengthening your middle and upper back muscles can help reduce upper body fatigue during long runs.

Tips:

  • Begin with 3 sets of 20 reps.
  • Use a slow, controlled motion.
  • Keep your back stationary.

4. Nordic Hamstring Exercise

Maintain sturdy hamstrings with diligent eccentric hamstring training [1]. These are exercises where the muscles extend as they contract.

Tips:

  • Begin gradually with 1x 10 rep session per week
  • Keep your hands in front to stop your fall forward

After your next strength training session, refuel your muscles with a PGX Satisfast Organic Vegan 15 g Protein Bar.*

*Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX.

References:
[1] Thorborg, Kristian. Why Hamstring Eccentrics Are Hamstring Essentials. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2012; 46:463-465. Web. 4 February 2016.

3 Healthy Pizza Crusts You Can Feel Good About

3 Healthy Pizza Crusts You Can Feel Good About

A favorite food amongst many of us is a delicious slice of pizza. However, most people think of pizza as a comfort food and can’t shake that guilty feeling after enjoying a slice or two. But what if you could enjoy pizza without feeling like you were doing your body an injustice?

One of the most effective ways to lighten up your pizza is to forego the traditional wheat crust in favor of healthier alternatives. Here are three healthy pizza crusts you can enjoy, without the side of guilt:

1. Almond Flour Crust

Gluten is proteins that make up wheat and give foods an elastic texture and helps hold the particles together. Foods that contain flour are the biggest culprits for people who get sick from gluten.

To make pizza a little more gut friendly, try a crust that foregoes the traditional whole wheat flour, and uses almond flour instead! Almond flour contains the same nutrients as whole almonds, which we know are great for nutrition. Low in carbs and high in protein, fats, and fibers, almond flour pizza crust will keep you feeling fuller for longer. For a great almond flour pizza crust recipe, try the one over at Ditch the Wheat.

2. Cauliflower Crust

This white, mild-tasting veggie is high in vitamin C and other nutrients as well as antioxidants. When used as a pizza crust, cauliflower becomes crunchy and bread like, the perfect replacement for your average crust.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Head of cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash cauliflower thoroughly and cut into pieces.
  3. Pulse in food processor.
  4. Place cauliflower in microwave for 4 minutes, or steam until tender (around 15 minutes).
  5. Once the cauliflower is tender, squeeze it with a strainer or nut bag. Add in eggs, garlic, salt and pepper to taste (adding cheese into crust is also optional).
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and create your desired crust shape. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, then put on your desired toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.

3. Mini Zucchini Crusts

Using zucchini as a base for pizza is a fantastic idea! Granted, you’ll have bagel bite-sized pizzas, but it’s no less tasty, and they’re perfect for appetizers and entertaining.

Zucchini Pizza Crust Recipe

  1. Cut zucchini into disk shapes, about ½-inch thick.
  2. In a skillet, add 1–2 tablespoons of oil and cook zucchini on each side for about 2 minutes.
  3. Place mini zucchinis on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  4. Layer on tomato sauce, cheese, and any other toppings of your choosing.
  5. Bake zucchini pizzas at 400 degrees until cheese has melted (this will not take long).
  6. Enjoy!

The Best Fresh Flavors for Fall Smoothies

The Best Fresh Flavors For Fall Smoothies

Smoothie fever typically kicks in at the height of summer when fresh fruits are in abundance. But what’s a smoothie fan to do once the colder weather arrives? Here are your best bets for fresh and delicious fall smoothies:

Fresh Fall Ingredients

Smoothies are a great way to pack in antioxidants and other nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables. From October to May, however, it can be slim pickings at the fruit stand, so you’ll need to get innovative if you want to maintain your smoothie habit.

Some top fruit and vegetable picks for fall and winter smoothies include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Squash and pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Medlars
  • Quince

Fennel can also add a liquorice-like kick to your smoothies, while ginger offers warmth on those cooler mornings. The more adventurous among you might try tracking down some nettles and watercress or even rosehips to add some wild flavors to your morning cold-weather smoothie.

Fall Smoothie Combinations

apple and rhubarb Apple and Rhubarb

What flavors say Fall more than apple or rhubarb?

Throughout the Fall and Winter, you should still be able to find local apples and rhubarb. At first blush, you might not think rhubarb would be a great choice for a smoothie, but it mixes well with celery, kale, carrots, and winter greens, as does apple.

Dried Fruit and Nut Milk

Dried fruit can also be an excellent choice for smoothies made using almond milk or soy milk. Try blitzing a handful of cranberries with mandarin segments, almond milk, and chia seeds for a seasonal smoothie.

Fall Greens Fall Greens

Kale, celery, apple, and ginger is a delicious green smoothie combination. It also provides an excellent array of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients including calcium, quercetin, and vitamin C. What better way to start your morning than with a tasty, nutritious green smoothie!

Add in a dash of turmeric to bump up your antioxidant intake even further!

Pumpkin Spice

If the onset of fall weather has you craving a pumpkin spiced latte, why not make yourself a pumpkin cinnamon smoothie with cashew milk and fresh pumpkin instead?

With any of your smoothies, consider adding in a scoop of PGX protein powder to lower the glycemic index and increase your fiber intake, helping you to feel fuller for longer.

 

 

6 Best Before and After Workout Foods to Energize

6 Best Before and After Workout Foods to Energize

What you eat before and after a workout plays a vital role in your energy levels. When you’re exerting energy during exercising your body will rely on what you have eaten prior, and when you’re done working out your body will start to recover, using the food/drink that you consume afterward.

To keep your body from feeling sluggish while exercising, eat the right pre- and post-workout foods.

3 Easy Pre-Workout Foods

As a general rule of thumb, try to consume a healthy snack 45 minutes prior to your workout. It shouldn’t be heavy, as you don’t want to feel weighed down, but it should be filling enough so that you don’t feel hungry. During your snack time, also try to drink one or two glasses of water to help ensure proper hydration.

Peanut Butter Toast With Banana 1. Peanut Butter Toast With Banana

This pre-workout snack contains protein, fiber, magnesium, and potassium! In addition to being delicious, peanut butter also packs protein and fiber. Bananas have been used in endurance sports for decades because they contain vitamins, minerals, sit low on the glycemic level, and have also been known to help reduce muscle cramps.*

2. Fruit Smoothies with Protein Powder

Whip up a fruit smoothie with mixed fruit, frozen bananas, nut milk, and top it off with a serving of protein powder such as PGX Satisfast Whey Protein Drink Mix**, which is available in two tasty flavors!

3. Fruit With Almond Butter

Almond butter comes jam packed with monounsaturated fats (the good kind of fat), magnesium, and has also been shown to support healthy heart function.* Choose fruits that pair well with almond butter, such as apples and bananas.

3 Simple and Hearty Post-Workout Foods

Getting a solid meal into your system within 60 minutes of exercising is a goal worth shooting for. Food takes longer to digest than liquids, so the quicker you can eat something post workout, the faster your body can use that fuel to replenish the energy levels that have decreased during your workout.

Salad with Chicken or Tofu and Veggies 1. Salad with Chicken or Tofu, and Veggies

Salads are a fantastic healthy post-workout meal. Choose from toppings like veggies, nuts, legumes, and boiled eggs to help your body get the nutrients it needs, while your protein can come from chicken, shrimp, and nuts.

Here’s a recipe for a simple, healthy salad dressing I really enjoy:

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange
  • 1 tbsp of honey

2. Protein Pancakes

These four-ingredient protein pancakes are much more than just a healthy alternative to traditional pancakes, they’re also incredibly delicious!  Complete this energy-boosting treat with a topping of nut butter and fresh fruit!

  • 1 large banana
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite vanilla protein powder
  1. Mash the banana.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients, then add mashed banana.
  3. Pour the batter into heated skillet, cook through, and enjoy!

3. Marinated Protein and Sweet Potatoes

If you want something a bit heavier for a post-workout meal, a lean protein paired with a healthy carb like sweet potatoes or yams will do the trick!

  1. Cook your meat in a marinade of balsamic vinegar, lemon, and garlic.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into disks (about ¾ inch thick).
  3. Fill a skillet with ½ inch of water and cover the sweet potato disks. Cook until a fork can easily pierce through the potato.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

**This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX.

5 Common Fitness Fears and How to Overcome Them

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With all the benefits of regular exercise – including a stronger body, overall better health, endorphins, stress relief, lower BMI, and more – why wouldn’t you exercise?* Are your fitness fears holding you back?

Whether you’re new to working out or recently fallen off the wagon, fitness can be intimidating. But fear is no excuse for pushing aside your health and well-being. Get your workouts on track with these simple solutions to help you overcome five common fitness fears:

Fear 1: I Don't Know What I'm Doing Fear #1: “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing”

Some exercises can look complicated, but those aren’t your only options. Start with something simple yet effective – such as walking. It’s one of the simplest ways to burn calories, strengthen multiple muscle groups, support cardiovascular health, and boost your mood.*

Once you’re ready for more complex activities, join an exercise class or hire a personal trainer so that you can learn proper forms and techniques.

Fear #2: “Everyone Is Looking at Me”

The right workout clothes can help boost your confidence at the gym or any other public place where people may glance your way. Find an outfit that is comfortable to exercise in and that you know looks good on you. Feeling good about your appearance may actually make your workout more successful.

Fear 3: I'm Not Fit Enough To Do That Fear #3: “I’m Not Fit Enough to Do That”

Don’t pass up the opportunity to try a new exercise because of your fitness level. Whether you’re interested in hot yoga, taking a spin class, or joining a running club, start slow and set achievable goals that will gradually improve your fitness and abilities over time. You’ll find that most people are supportive and excited to witness your progress.

Fear #4: “Working out Is Boring”

If exercise feels like a chore, try something new. Go swimming at your local pool, join a dance class, roller blade, or jump rope in front of your TV. In addition to these, try working out with a friend. You’ll be surprised how quickly your workout passes when you’re engaged in a good conversation.

Fear #5: “I’m Not Seeing Any Results”

We all like immediate gratification, but it may take a few weeks (or possibly months) to see changes in your body mass and muscle tone. In the meantime, be patient and focus on other benefits, such as endorphins and increased energy levels.

Prior to starting your exercise journey, please ensure that you’ve spoken with your doctor and are cleared to begin.

Support your fitness and weight loss goals with PGX. Refuel after your workouts with PGX®* Satisfast® Whey Protein Drink Mix and keep your blood sugar stable already within the normal range with PGX* Daily Singles.*

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

**Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX.

How to Start Exercising: 4 Tips for Beginners

How to Start Exercising: 4 Tips for Beginners

Making the decision to start exercising is a huge step, one that will help shape your lifestyle, and your future health.*  It can also be hugely intimidating, leaving you to wonder, where do I begin?

If you’re new to exercising, one of the most important things to know about getting started is that it’s best to start slow. Easing into a regular workout routine can help prevent injury and shock to your body, due to over-exercising. It also sets the foundation for maintaining healthy workout habits right from day one.

How to Start Exercising

zumba 1. Research

There are many effective ways to exercise. You can go solo, or join a class, workout from home, or join a gym – you can can even choose to work out on land, or on water!

Before you settle on how you want to exercise, do a little research on the cost and quality of gyms close by, and whether or not there are any local groups that pique your interest. Here’s a sampling of some of the types programs you may find to join:

Here are a few fun and popular exercise programs you may want to learn more about:

  • Zumba: A non-choreographed dance workout, that’s super fun and high-energy.
  • Pilates: A system of exercises done on a mat or using a special machine that focuses on full body strength using your own body weight. There will be a lot of core strengthening.
  • Yoga: A series of exercises that require holding body positions, while focusing on breathing. There are many types of yoga, such as hot, hatha, power, etc.
  • Spin/Cycle: Indoor bike riding on a bike machine. Tends to be a high-intensity, fast-paced workout.
  • HIIT:  A mode of exercise that alternates between  low/moderate intensity levels and high-intensity levels. Generally encompasses movements such as burpees, high-knees, and push-ups.

2. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Exercising is only part of the healthy living equation. A healthy diet is the other. When you combine a healthy, balanced diet with regular exercise, you’re helping your body get the full of benefits of both.

lunge 3. Nail the Warm-Up

Doing a warm-up before getting started helps ease your body into the exercise. It also helps prevent muscle injury, get your heart ready, and mentally prepare you.

Dynamic warm up exercises can be done before most workouts. This is referred to as “active stretching” and involves movement versus static stretching (staying in place and stretching a muscle for an extended period of time).

Here are a few examples of dynamic, easy-to-execute, warm-up exercises:

  • Walking lunges
  • Frankensteins
  • Step forward, touch your toes
  • High knees and butt kicks

4. Get Enough Sleep

Maintaining a quality sleep cycle will help ensure that you’re energetic enough to do your workouts. It’s detrimental to try and exercise when you’re tired, and it can also lead to injury. Plan your nights so that you get to bed at a reasonable time.

*If unsure, include your doctor in your decision to help determine which exercise are best for you.

Snap Pea Shrimp Pasta

Recipe: Snap pea shrimp pasta

Weeknights can be busy, and getting a healthy dinner on the table can sometimes feel like an impossible task. That’s where pasta comes in. It’s quick, easy, and can be prepared in countless ways.  Best of all, there’s a type of pasta out there to suit just about everyone’s dietary needs and preferences!

This super easy and highly delicious Snap Pea Shrimp Pasta can be on the table in less than 20 minutes, and pairs perfectly with any pasta; rice, gluten-free, whole wheat, kamut, spelt, whatever you have on hand will work!

Snap Pea Shrimp Pasta

Snap Pea Shrimp Pasta

Ingredients

  • 12 oz cups pasta
  • 1/2 cup uncooked baby shrimp
  • 1 cup fresh snap peas
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 large soft-boiled egg
  • 1 1/2 oz of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large pot, boil pasta as per package directions.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, shrimp, tomatoes, and lime juice. Set aside.
  3. In a pan, lightly fry snap peas in olive oil.
  4. Combine all ingredients, sprinkle with fresh basil and salt and pepper.
  5. Add soft-boiled egg on top, and enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Spinach

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Spinach

Spaghetti squash is a tasty, gluten-free alternative to traditional pasta dishes. Quick and simple to make, it is highly versatile, and can be styled savory or sweet – there are no rules when it comes to this fall favorite!

Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Spinach

This recipe combines the nutty flavor of spaghetti squash, with the smoky and slightly salty taste of bacon. It’s extremely easy to make, and can be on the table in less than 40 minutes!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup of fresh spinach
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 cup of goat cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 °F.
  2. Cover a baking sheet in tinfoil.
  3. Slice the squash in half. Using your hands, slather both sides, front and back, in olive oil. Sprinkle the flesh with salt and pepper, and lay face down on the baking sheet.
  4. Lay a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet covered in tinfoil.
  5. Spread out bacon strips on the cooling rack.
  6. Place squash and bacon in the oven.
  7. The bacon should take 20 minutes to cook, the squash 20–25.
  8. Allow squash to cool for 5–10 minutes.
  9. Using a fork, scrape the stringy flesh out of the squash, and place in a dish.
  10. Add sliced bacon, fresh spinach, and goat cheese to the squash, and toss.
  11. Enjoy!