pumpkin recipes

5 Must-Try Halloween Recipes

Halloween is here!

And while we carve our pumpkins to spook the neighborhood, there are so many pumpkin-inspired sweet and savory recipes that will make us want to bundle up in those comfy sweaters and enjoy the warm flavors of fall. 

Here are 5 of our favorite creations:

1- PUMPKIN SOUP

(Nutrition profile: Vegan, Gluten-Free)

With exceptional flavor and creamy texture, this pumpkin soup will warm up your body.

Halloween Soup

Ingredients:

  • 13 cups of pumpkin, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 13.5 fl oz. coconut milk
  • 30 fl oz. vegetable stock
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the pumpkin in a roasting pan with half the oil, then roast for 30 minutes until golden and tender.
  2. Meanwhile, put the remaining oil in a pan with the onion and garlic. Gently cook for 8-10 minutesmins until softened.
  3. Stir in the roasted pumpkin, lemon juice, coconut milk, stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Cool for a few minutes, then blend until smooth with a blender.

 

2- PUMPKIN ALFREDO

(Nutrition profile: Vegetarian)

Super creamy and super simple fall comfort food.

Alfredo for Halloween

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 cups of fettuccine egg pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Cook the fettuccine according to package directions.
  2. Heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add the pumpkin and heavy whipping cream. Simmer until slightly thickened. Add the cheese and stir to combine.
  3. Toss the pasta in the sauce. Top with additional cheese.

 

3- PUMPKIN PANCAKE

(Nutrition profile: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)

These fluffy, gluten-free pancakes will become your favorite breakfast.

Pancake for Halloween

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and ground ginger

Instructions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin puree, milk, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Beat in the eggs.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. With a big spoon, stir just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Do not overmix! Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Heat a heavy cast iron skillet/non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Lightly oil the surface of your pan with coconut oil, butter or cooking spray. If you’re using a non-stick electric griddle, you might not need any oil at all.
  5. Once the surface of the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on it, pour ¼ cup of batter onto the pan. Let the pancake cook for about 3 minutes, until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cake.
  6. Once the underside is lightly golden, flip it with a spatula and cook for another 90 seconds or so, until golden brown on both sides.

 

4- PUMPKIN SPICED LATTE

(Nutrition profile: Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Here is a rich flavored pumpkin spiced latte with real pumpkin puree, spices and almond milk.

Pumpkin Spiced Latte for Halloween

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 cups hot brewed espresso or strong brewed dark roast coffee

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients, except coffee in a large saucepan.
  2. Stir while cooking over medium heat until heated through.
  3. Stir in hot espresso.
  4. Pour into warm mugs. If desired, top with whipped cream and additional nutmeg.

 

5- PUMPKIN COCKTAIL

(Nutrition profile: Vegan, Gluten-Free)

It is a delicious cocktail made from dark rum, pumpkin puree and spices.

Pumpkin Cocktail for Halloween


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (more or less to taste)
  • 1 big lemon, juiced
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of allspice or cloves
  • 3 ounces dark rum (Myer’s)

Instructions:

  1. Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend well.
  2. Fill two double old fashioned glasses with ice.
  3. Pour the mixture over ice and garnish with a dash of cinnamon.

 

Here is also our 5 Healthy Reasons to Eat Pumpkin at Halloween blog.

Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau: The Last Five Pounds

Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau: The Last Five Pounds

You have been dieting and exercising for a long time, and as a result, you have lost weight. There are five more pounds to go, but the scale has stopped and you don’t know why. You have hit a weight loss plateau. But don’t get discouraged. This is a common phrase that everyone experiences when they try to lose weight.

So how can you overcome this weight loss plateau? Here are ten effective tips to help you breakthrough.

1. Track everything you eat

Are you really aware of the food you’re eating throughout the day? Maybe you are snacking without realizing it. To stop mindless eating, write down everything you consume during the day. It helps you become aware of what and how much you eat.

Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau: The Last Five Pounds

2. Check your portion size

So you have kicked your bad habit of eating fast food, sweets, pasta, and bread, and you have been eating healthy. But are you checking your portion sizes? As your weight decreases, you have to decrease your portion size, too. Continuing to eat the same amounts as when you started dieting may be the reason why your weight loss has stopped. Also, don’t forget that ALL food has calories. If you are eating a big smoothie with extra peanut butter, it may be time to change your breakfast and cut back on your portion sizes.

3. Increase exercise frequency or intensity

Maybe your body has adapted to your exercise program and sees it as a daily routine. If you are going to the gym 1-2 days a week, make it 3-4 days a week instead. Or try increasing your exercise time from 30 minutes to 45 minutes per day. In addition, try different exercises that your body isn’t used to. This revision will reverse the weight loss plateau.

Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau: The Last Five Pounds

4. Stop late-night snacking

You are eating healthy during the day, but you aren’t as careful at night. This will sabotage your diet and weight loss efforts. Try not to eat after dinner or a snack before bedtime.

5. Don’t weigh every day

Weigh yourself once a week. Seeing bigger changes on the scale will be more motivating.

6. Cut out carbs, increase fat and protein intake

If you haven’t tried a ketogenic diet before, a radical change like this could trigger your body and help you overcome the plateau phase. A ketogenic diet is a low carb, high-fat diet where you limit bread, pasta, rice, grains and legumes, fruits, milk and milk products, and any food that contains carbohydrates. Applying this type of diet for 7-10 days will help you lose 4-6 pounds. While it can be effective, this type of diet may not be the right choice for you. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before starting any kind of fast or major dietary change.

Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau: The Last Five Pounds

7. Try intermittent fasting

Another type of diet that can break the weight loss plateau is intermittent fasting. IF diets have recently gained in popularity, and there are different application methods. You can choose the most suitable type of fasting from our previous blog article, A fast and Feast Diet: Intermittent Fasting. The most common method is 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating.

8. Manage stress and get more sleep

Stress can keep you from losing weight. It boosts the cortisol hormone which increases belly fat storage. Learning to manage stress will help you lose weight. In addition, sleep is extremely important for good mental, emotional, and physical health. To support weight loss, aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

9. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is another factor that may be sabotaging your weight loss. Don’t forget that alcoholic beverages have calories, too. In the short run, alcohol increases your water weight, and in the long run, it suppresses fat burning and leads to belly fat accumulation.

10. Be patient

Don’t give up on yourself and don’t forget that this weight loss plateau will change if you remain patient. Try to stay motivated and continue to diet while trying to identify the reason behind it.

If you have tried all these steps and still can’t lose weight by yourself, seek help from a professional. Other medical factors such as hormonal problems, menopause, or pregnancy could be the cause.

Intermittent Fasting: A Fast and Feast Diet

Intermittent Fasting: A Fast and Feast Diet

Many people think about the term “intermittent fasting (IF)” as a different eating pattern. Yes, intermittent fasting (IF) is different, but it is not new. In fact, it’s been practiced in different ways by people for millennia.

Intermittent fasting is a briefly varied diet that is related to avoiding consuming foods or beverages that contain calories while in the fasting process, though it has different variations that need further study. There are 3 different types of intermittent fasting that are hypothesized to influence health outcomes in humans in general: alternate-day fasting, modified fasting, and time-restricted feeding.

If you are curious about the details, here they are!

Switch the Days: Alternate-Day Fasting

Alternate-day fasting is defined as one fasting day (full energy restriction, zero calories, or sometimes a maximum allowance of 25% of your daily caloric intake on your fasting day) and one feeding day (ad libitum food consumption) and its continuous periods. Ideally, it allows you to eat at least one meal a day. For instance, your daily caloric intake requirement is 1200 calories; on fasting days, it is only 300 calories, maximum, you can consume! 

 Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Let’s check out what you can eat with that many calories on fasting days:

On Mondays, you finish eating at 8 pm and begin fasting for 24 hours until the next day’s (Tuesday’s) dinner at 8 pm. In this fasting period (including sleeping), you can eat a maximum of 300 calories all fasting day:

–  1 egg + 1 slice (1 ounce) of cheese + 2 thin slices of bread
OR
– 1 portion of fresh fruit (eg: 1/2 banana, 2 slices of pineapple, etc) + 2/3 milk + 2-3 tbs of rolled oats + 5-6 raw almonds or hazelnuts
OR
– 1 thin slice of bread + omelet with 1 egg, 1 slice (1 ounce) of cheese + 3 thin slices (1 ounce) smoked turkey, 1/4 cup milk

Studies with normal-weight adults show overall mean weight loss, improvement in glucoregulatory markers (such as fasting insulin levels), and improvements in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which is basically good for human health and triglyceride levels, but increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is basically bad for human health. A full fasting day may not be proper for beginners because alternate-day fasting is extreme and probably unsustainable in the long-term.

 Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Make a Difference: Modified Fasting 

Modified fasting is based on restricted daily caloric intake (20 to 25% energy on fasting days). It’s best-known method is the “5:2 method”, which involves standard eating for 5 days and energy restriction for 2 non-sequential days of the week.

For example, you fast on Tuesdays and Fridays but eat on the rest of the days of the week. According to a daily 1200 calorie need, you are allowed to eat 240-300 calories in your fasting period. Let’s see some different options:

– 1+1/4 cup of lentil soup + 1 thin slice of bread
– 3 portions of fruit + 2/3 cup of yogurt + cinnamon (if desired)
– Coffee with 2/3 cup milk + 10-12 hazelnuts or almonds + 1 portion of fruit

Results from a modified fasting diet with some groups of overweight or obese people show significant weight loss, decreases in fasting insulin (but not in fasting glucose), and improvements in some inflammatory markers. However, it also reported negative effects on some people, like feeling cold, hunger, irritability, etc. So, if compared with standard energy restriction diets, it has little evidence to suggest that type of feeding pattern concluded better weight loss or metabolic changes. The “5:2 method” is more suitable if we compare it with the alternate-day fasting. 

Body Clock: Time-Restricted Feeding

According to time-restricted feeding, daily fasting intervals range from 12 to 20 hours. The most popular one is the “16:8 method.” It involves fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8 hour period. Two or three meals can fit in this 8 hour period. The simplest way is this: you eat your first meal at noon and finish at 8 pm. During the rest of the day, including sleeping, you fast! Basically, it looks like skipping breakfast, but having lunch, dinner and mid-meals, if you desire.

Regular fasting and eating intervals may be important for maintaining optimal metabolic functions in accordance to normal daily circadian rhythms. So, the 16:8 method is much better and easier to apply if you want to explore intermittent fasting (IF) diet types.

 

Intermittent Fasting: A Fast and Feast Diet

What Are the Pros and Cons with Intermittent Fasting?

It’s time to see it clearer!

Pros: 

In total, the studies showed that results between IF and restricted energy diets provide weight loss or prevent weight gain in those who are obese and overweight, but it should be remembered that there were no major differences among these two diet types.

If you are healthy, and within normal weight standards, and want to lose a bit of fat, you can try these diets. When you fast for an extended period, the body starts to use its own deposits, first glycogen (of course, if you are not a ketogenic-eating person), then excess fat mass.

Intermittent fasting may also help people who have mindless snacking habits, especially at night. It can help with discipline and may help you to reduce and drop this behavior.

Cons:

Do you think that social media influences you? Decide this first. Intermittent fasting (IF) is trendy lately, but it’s also hard to sustain. Focus, job performance, daily activity, helping with your food cravings, etc, are way too important. 

Medical concerns? Well, if you are diabetic, you need to think twice and consult your doctor! Many studies showed no change in fasting glucose levels, though some of them reported a decrease in fasting circulating insulin concentrations in people who don’t have diabetes. But, generally, long-term fasting affects people who have diabetes by reducing fasting blood glucose, in addition to post-prandial blood glucose. So, in short, if you have frequent hypoglycemic attacks, IF is not your thing. 

Plus, a study showed that LDL cholesterol had increased significantly after 12 months among the alternate-day fasting group. It might be a red flag for your heart health.

Finally, people may lead themselves to eat unhealthily, processed, or high-calorie food on the feeding days. You may lose weight by restricting your total caloric intake, but you will not take good care of your body.

 Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Who Should Avoid Applying Intermittent Fasting?

Let’s be honest! Each nutritional plan is specific for every single person. IF is getting trendier day by day, however, it still needs to be examined its results in detail. In general, people who have eating disorders, children and adolescents, pregnant or breastfeeding women, post-op patients who are in their healing period, people who cannot regulate their blood sugar, etc, need to apply their own specific diets. Or people who crave sugar/dessert, people who cannot control their appetite, or if IF leads them to eat more, IF is not suitable for them! For more details about food cravings, read this

So?

As mentioned above, IF has no advantaged ‘weight loss’ difference if compared with normally restricted calorie diets, therefore don’t expect a miracle. 

Briefly, if you want to experience this type of diet, you need to see and consult your doctor and registered dietitian. If they both decide that you can ‘give it a go’, and, of course, if the IF rules fit for you, it can be tried!

 

Why Do Specific Diets Fail

Why Do Specific Diets Fail?

Everybody wants to look good and thin, but we are eating more than we need. As the obesity rate in the world increases, the weight loss market develops new products every day, like diet books, frozen meals, pills, powders, and many more. Despite all of these, a large number of people who try to lose weight gain it back. Why are many of us still dieting? Why do specific diets fail? Every year a diet becomes popular. There are books that are published and there are products that are made for these specific diets.

For instance, the ketogenic diet, which is the original Atkins diet, claims that cutting carbohydrates will help you lose weight. But when you stop eating fruits, milk and milk products, grains, and some vegetables and legumes, you start to consume less fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

The results of low carb diets are not sustainable.

Cutting a specific type of food from your diet is unhealthy and will make you crave that food after a certain time, and you end up eating more than you need. The Paleo diet is a type of diet that embraces what our ancestors ate in the Paleolithic era. But as you all know, we are living in a different kind of period, the modern world, which is way more different than our ancestors. So this diet does not suit our genes, our requirements, or our habits.

diet plan

Another specific diet is the blood type diet, which is a diet dictated according to your blood type. However, there is no scientific evidence of this. Science has rejected the concept of detoxing as well because detoxes help you lose water weight, which is easily gained back in a day. Also, they shouldn’t be done for more than 2-3 days. Pills, supplements, and powers are barely regulated and they are also not a miracle for weight loss and maintenance.

And then there are low-fat diets and low-fat products. Just because the product is a low-fat label does not mean it is healthy. It may be high in sugar and calories. Finally, the most common diets are very-low-calorie diets. These diets will help you lose weight, but after losing a large amount of weight in an unhealthy way, many people tend to gain some weight back. As a result, your metabolism slows down. That’s why very low-calorie diets are not healthy or sustainable.

Colorful veggies and fruits for your diet

Eating healthy should last a lifetime.

These types of diets may help you lose weight in a short time, but if you want to maintain the weight you lost, you have to change your habits. There are no miracle diets that will help you lose all the extra weight and help maintain the weight you lost.

Secondly, don’t forget that one size doesn’t fit all! Perhaps you have tried a diet that your friend lost 5 pounds with, but it didn’t quite work on you. The reason is we are not the same. We all have different genetics, bodies, metabolisms, and habits. Diets can work, but there is no one magic diet that helps everybody to lose weight. You just have to know your body and listen to what it wants. The key is to eat every kind of healthy food, but be careful with the portions. In addition, try to increase physical activity.

Related: What to Do After Cheating on Your Diet

Vegetarianism: Why Are Plant Based Diets on the Rise?

Vegetarianism: Why Are Plant Based Diets on the Rise?

Vegetarianism is one of the most popular diet trends recently and generally describes a diet in which one eliminates meat and meat-derived foods. Vegan and vegetarian products, even whole sections of products, are increasingly easy to find in supermarkets. So what’s the appeal? In fact, there are many reasons people choose to become vegetarians, including personal preferences, ecological problems, religious beliefs, and various diseases (especially cardiovascular diseases).

With any diet, the main goal should be nutritional adequacy.

When compared to nutritionally, vegetarians consume more carbohydrates, omega-6 fatty acids, fiber, carotenoids, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium. However, they consume less protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, and calcium than non-vegetarians. Therefore, vegetarian diets may offer a few advantages, including lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol caused by animal-based foods.

Vegetarianism: Why Are Plant Based Diets on the Rise?

Vegetarianism to Veganism

It’s not a big jump. A vegan diet involves cutting out all animal-based foods such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, etc. Because of its similarity to vegetarianism, veganism is like a subclassification of vegetarianism. People choose to be vegan for many of the same reasons they might choose to be vegetarian. Sometimes certain allergies (such as an allergy to egg whites) can also motivate people to go from vegetarianism to veganism. The vegetarian and vegan portion of the world is estimated at 2%. But do they get what they need? Let’s figure it out! Protein is an essential micronutrient for the body’s building, maintenance, and repairing of tissues. Vegetarians can meet their protein needs through a well planned plant-based diet which includes a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables.

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for cardiovascular health, eye health, and brain development.

Vegetarians and vegans can find omega-3 in several plants. Especially those which contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), such as walnuts, flaxseed oil, hemp seed, and soybeans. Vitamin B12 intake is often low for vegans because it is mainly acquired through animal-based foods. Very low B12 levels can cause anemia or nervous system damage. Unfortunately, deficiency symptoms usually take years to manifest, making this a major problem which is also hard to detect. 

Although plant-based diets have low levels of iodine, it is possible to maintain a healthy level of iodine. Table salt is often fortified with iodine, and vegetables that grow in deep ocean water (such as seaweeds) are high in iodine. In order to maintain a healthy level of iron, vegetarians and vegans should stay away from phytates, calcium, tea, coffee, and cacao, which all decrease iron absorption. Rich plant sources of iron include dark green vegetables, soy products, legumes, whole grains, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and unrefined molasses. Consuming these foods is key, and adding food high in vitamin C will enhance absorption.

Zinc is important for the immune system and plant foods do not contain large amounts of Zinc.

However, the richest plant sources are legumes, nuts, seeds, and oatmeal. Calcium can be found in dark green vegetables, beans, tofu, tahini, sesame seeds, almonds, figs, seaweeds, unrefined molasses, and fortified soy milk. Keep in mind that phytates and oxalates, especially plant foods contain, can inhibit calcium absorption.

Low vitamin D blood levels and bone density may be major problems for vegetarians and vegans. This is because vitamin D is necessary for regularizing calcium metabolism. Nutritional requirements are different for every single person. If any person, whether vegetarian or vegan or omnivorous, has a nutritional deficiency, they should seek the advice of a dietitian and/or doctor in order to meet their dietary needs.

Related: 12 Tips for a Sustainable and Healthy Diet

Nutrition in Pregnancy

Nutrition in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a very important time for a woman. The feeling of a new beating heart inside her body and experiencing the change of her body day by day is definitely amazing. Every pregnancy experience is like a fingerprint, even for the same woman, from one pregnancy to the next. The symptoms range from being temporary and mild within the period of the first few months, or a mother’s discomfort may continue up to birth. Managing the symptoms and sustaining health is mostly related to getting enough nutrition support.

Pregnant women also feel some aversions and cravings for special foods.

These foods are especially chocolate, starch, potatoes, pizza, and spicy foods. Some pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting. When she is dealing with these early symptoms, an expectant mother can eat a small piece of ginger to help to stop nausea. Also, eating dry, salty things, or eating before getting out of bed in the mornings can also help in dealing with morning nausea. During the first months of pregnancy, as a result of changes in her hormone balance, women may encounter some appetite problems, like feeling irritation with the odors of cooked foods, like red meat. This can affect the consumption of red meat negatively, and iron deficiency may occur. 

Nutrition in Pregnancy

In pregnancy, the body needs additional energy, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

It does not mean “eat for two”, and while her nutritional requirements may vary, it should not be that much. Poor eating habits affect a baby’s development negatively, and as a result of not getting enough nutrition, a baby may encounter a birth anomaly. Additionally, excess weight gain is also a huge health risk for both mother and baby. The mother may develop gestational diabetes because of excess calorie intake. This condition threatens the baby’s growth. It may also cause growth retardation, congenital anomalies, and premature birth.

Most pregnant women are concerned about their weight gain during pregnancy, and their concern is never getting back to their pre-pregnancy body. Recently, the ketogenic diet has been a very popular diet, which is mostly used for weight loss. In pregnancy, trying to lose weight is an unhealthy approach because growing a body needs extra energy for the second and third trimester. The weight gain should be between 20-40 pounds up to the delivery, depending on the weight of the mother before pregnancy. If a woman is very overweight, her doctor may want her to lose weight before planning a pregnancy. 

Nutritional needs also change in the pregnancy period.

When we consider the development of bones, the mother should consume dairy products, which provides important minerals, like calcium and phosphorus. Dairy products also contain vitamin B and zinc, which is very crucial for the mental development of the baby. Some fermented dairy products like Greek yogurt or kefir are excellent sources of probiotics, which have regulatory functions on the digestive system. Iron is used by your body to make a substance in red blood cells that carry oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy, women need more iron than she did before pregnancy. This extra iron helps the pregnant woman’s body make more blood to supply oxygen to the baby. Not having enough iron is called iron deficiency anemia. Anemia increases the risk of certain problems, including preterm delivery and having a low-birth-weight baby.

Red meat and poultry are very good sources of protein, iron, and choline.

Eating foods rich in vitamin C, like oranges, bell peppers, and berries increase the absorption of iron from meals. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein, iron, and zinc. Egg protein is a high-quality protein, which means all of it is useable for making body proteins. It includes choline, which is very important for the body and the baby’s brain and nervous system development. Insufficient choline intake during pregnancy may increase the risk of neural tube defects. A single whole egg contains roughly 113 mg of choline, which is about 25% of the RDI for pregnant women. (450 mg) 

Carbohydrates must be the main source of energy in a pregnant woman’s diet.

Before it is metabolized by cells, it’s broken down into simple sugars, like glucose, which passes easily across the placenta and provides energy to feed growing the baby during pregnancy. Low carb diets, like ketogenic diets, are detrimental  because the fetal brain requires glucose for function and development. Forcing the developing brain to convert to a ketone energy supply has potential adverse effects. The ketogenic diet is mostly a fat-based diet, which means at least 90% of dietary intake is fat. When babies are growing, they need macros differently. They need 55-60% carbs, 12-15% protein, and 25-30% fat. Ketogenic diets are very restrictive diets in which you can not eat enough fruits and vegetables, which is very important for a healthy baby.

Nutrition during Pregnancy

Studies show that low carb diets in pregnancy associated with preterm birth and low birth weight. These diets also negatively affect the development of organs, which causes cardiovascular diseases later in the life of the fetus. Around a third of daily food intake should be starchy carbohydrates. Oat, whole wheat bread, rice, maize, breakfast cereals should be chosen instead of refined carbohydrates (white) such as pasta and noodles. Women should consume high fiber foods, like whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice.

When we think about the mental development of the baby, omega 3 fatty acids are very essential.

The mother should consume two portions of fish a week with one portion being oily fish like salmon, sardines, or mackerel.  Some types of fish are harmful to pregnant women, like shark, swordfish, and marlin. These fishes may contain higher amounts of mercury, which is very harmful to the brain and nervous system development. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that pregnant women eat 340 grams of a variety of seafood lower in mercury a week. That’s about two servings. Also, when a woman is planning a pregnancy, she should avoid consuming these fish more than two times a week. It can accumulate in tissues.

Legumes are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and folate. Folate vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient which is required for DNA replication and as a substrate for a range of enzymatic reactions in amino acid synthesis and vitamin metabolism. During pregnancy, the demands for folate increased because it’s also required for the development of the baby. Folate deficiency is associated with abnormalities in both mother (Anemia, neuropathy) and fetuses (congenital abnormalities, like neural tube defects in the spine or in the brain).

Nutrition during Pregnancy

Moms should be aware of the importance of folate supplementation in the first months of pregnancy and before pregnancy. Pregnant women need at least 600 micrograms of folate. Nuts, dark leafy vegetables, and eggs are good sources of folate. WHO (World Health Organization) recommends daily oral iron and folic acid supplementation with 30 mg to 60 mg of elemental iron and 400 µg (0.4 mg) folic acid for pregnant women to prevent maternal anemia, puerperal sepsis, low birth weight, and preterm birth.

 One of the most common problems for a pregnant woman is constipation.

Due to changing hormone levels in early pregnancy, intestinal movement slows down the movement of stool through the bowel. The mother should increase her fiber consumption, which mostly comes from leafy vegetables and fruits. Five portions of fruits and vegetables will be enough for them. It should be at least 2 portions of vegetables and 3 portions of fruit. Drinking enough water and increasing liquid consumption is another solution for constipation.  

In summary, pregnant women should be aware of their healthy nutrition patterns during pregnancy. Poor nutrition in pregnancy threatens both mother and baby’s health.  Staying active is also important for general health, reducing stress, boosting mood, and sleeping better. Pregnancy exercise class or 20 min walking at a moderate pace may be enough. If you are planning a pregnancy, just focus on healthy nutrition with daily exercise and enjoy the journey! 

Related: Problems People Experience in Achieving Their Wellness Goals

A Guide to Intuitive Eating

There’s a new dimension to our relationship with food: Intuitive Eating.

Most of the time, we quickly eat things on the go without even thinking when watching TV, talking on the phone, or driving. Since we have severed our ties with ourselves because of the rush that comes with modern life, we cannot even notice the signals coming from our bodies. When do we get hungry? How much food is enough? Maybe we forgot our inner voices because someone is always dictating to us what we should eat and when we should eat.

Mindfulness is a term of eastern philosophy that we hear a lot recently.

The mind exercises that help us to stay in the moment have also been used in psychology since the 1980s. Intuitive Eating is very different from traditional diet approaches. It is a method that is built on following the natural hunger, fullness, and satisfaction signals of the body to reach the ideal weight. It is the wisdom of instinctively knowing the amount of food a person needs to nourish their body, except for those people with specific health problems (diabetes, food allergies, etc.).

A Guide to Intuitive Eating

There are no restrictions, so we can forget about the list of forbidden foods. Anything can be eaten if you want to, except for the times that you are eating out of boredom or anger. Eating behavior should occur due to hunger, which is something physical, rather than emotional. People who follow the way of Intuitive Eating stop eating when they reach physical fullness. They do not keep any emotional connection with the eating behavior, therefore they maintain their ideal weights. To create intuitive eating behavior, we must first be mindful of our relationship with food. What, when, what for, and how much do we eat?

Let us talk about an exercise that is simple and common: the raisin exercise.

Take a raisin in your hand, examine it closely by touching and being aware of its texture, color, and bright and matte parts. How does its texture make you feel? Smell it, try to feel what it smells like and focus on the raisin with all your senses. Do not allow your mind to drift away from the raisin and if it does, call it back right away.

Our senses help us stay in the moment, but our minds can drift away to the past or the future. When doing this exercise we spend time and effort on the raisin. This is not the ordinary raisin that we ate on the auto-pilot anymore. One of the exercises that we can do during the day to increase our mindfulness and ability to stay in the moment is with something which constitutes 70% of the human body: water.

Remember the last time you drank water today.

What were you thinking when you were drinking? Did you feel the temperature of the water? Or did you feel how it went down your throat? Your mind may be elsewhere during your daily activities, but when you realize it and call it back, you increase your mindfulness. Enjoy the raisins you eat and the water you drink. You will be satisfied by giving the necessary time and importance to yourself. Also, your bond with yourself will be strengthened.

Intuitive Eating also allows you to recognize the right choices that will help you out. What am I eating? How do I feel? Do you suffer from bloating and gas pain after consuming dried legumes? Then, the legumes do not make you feel better. You eat very sweet foods and then you go to sleep immediately, or you want to eat more, maybe you want to eat them every day. The feeling of indigestion when you eat something very fatty is a clear signal that you are not making the right choice. Listen to your body. You should make good choices to feel good.

One of the most important points in intuitive eating is to challenge the food police that dictates the mind.

Do not label oats as good or a piece of chocolate as bad. Eat whatever you want to eat, but eat it by staying in the moment, focusing on the food, and enjoying it. If you constantly try different diets and struggle to lose weight in a vicious cycle, you should try the Intuitive Eating method that can completely improve your relationship with food by showing compassion to yourself and by removing the dietary mentality from your life.

You can start with raisins and do other exercises during the day, you will feel your increasing mindfulness with time and you will not regret what you eat because you will be listening only to your hunger. You will stop eating when you feel full, and you will reach your ideal weight easily in no time.

Related: 3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Immune System Strong

What to Do After Cheating on Your Diet

What to Do After Cheating on Your Diet

This has happened to all of us… you have been dieting for a while and going to the gym 2-3 times a week, and one night, you ate chocolate, or you drank alcohol at a party, or you ate a hamburger on the weekend and cheated on your diet. You felt guilty, and you don’t know what to do. First of all, this is a common experience that all dieters have. It doesn’t mean everything you have done is wasted about your diet. That’s why we shouldn’t regret that indulgence.

One chocolate, ice cream, or cookie won’t ruin your day. You shouldn’t give yourself permission to erase the whole day. “That’s it, I ate chocolate, I give up.” Can you imagine doing this in any other situation? “That’s it, I snoozed my alarm and slept 10 minutes more, I won’t go to work at all.” Of course not. When you make a little mistake, you just have to deal as best as you can. That’s exactly how it should be with your diet. You can have a fresh start the next day!

So here are some tips for after a cheat meal or cheat day.

What to Do After Cheating on Your Diet

Increase Your Water Consumption

Drink at least 2.5-3 liters of water a day. This step is one of the most important things to do after a cheat on your diet. Drinking water will help you lose the water weight you gained.

Drink Herbal Teas

Green tea, rosemary tea, fennel tea, and cherry stem tea will also help you lose water weight. Drink 2-3 cups of herbal teas a day.

Drinking herbal teas to after cheating on your diet

Reduce Sodium Intake

Excess amounts of sodium will also result in edema (fluid retention). That’s why you should try to decrease your sodium intake. Stay away from processed foods, pickles, and broths that are high in sodium.

Cut off Carbs

Excessive intake of carbohydrates and sugar will increase water retention. This is one of the main reasons why you weigh more than another day after a cheat meal. That’s why you should reduce white sugar, white rice, white bread, and white pasta. Instead of carbohydrate-rich foods, eat more protein and fat. For example, breakfast with eggs and a lunch with chicken salad will be better.

Increase Fruit and Vegetable Intake

Increase Fruit and Vegetable Intake

Foods like cherries, pineapple, zucchini, apricot, cucumber, and parsley that are high in water will help you lose weight easily.

Exercise But Do Not Exaggerate

Exercise is a great idea. After a cheat day, exercising will help you recover easily. Try not to over-exercise and burn all the excessive calories you just ate. Stick to your normal exercise routine.

Exercise But Do Not Exaggerate

Skip The Scale

After a cheat meal, you may weigh more than usual. It’s not because you have gained fat, but rather because you’ve gained water weight after you ate foods that are higher in carbs and salt. Don’t forget that this weight is temporary.

The most important thing to remember in this is that there is no one who is unsuccessful, there is only the one who gives up. There can be some bumps on the road to your goal. Only you can achieve your goal if you don’t give up on yourself. So stay positive and focused! Don’t create excuses!

Related: 4 Steps For a Healthier Diet

All You Need to Know About: Working Out on an Empty Stomach

All You Need to Know About: Working Out on an Empty Stomach

You may be surprised by the answers you get when you ask about doing cardio on an empty stomach…

There are two types of people doing sports:

  1. Those who eat something before working out.
  2. Those who work out on an empty stomach.

So, which one is right?

Does Cardio Burn More Fat on an Empty Stomach?

In short, yes. Some research shows that exercising on an empty stomach burns 20% more fat. The fuel your body burns in order to produce energy depends on many factors. Whether you ate something before your exercise or not is a big contributor. Your body tends to use the foods you ate recently first. If you haven’t eaten anything recently, your body will not be able to find its primary fuel and it will turn to its own stock, using it as the fuel it needs for the workout.

Working Out on an Empty Stomach

However, this also depends on your exercise program. The more simple the exercise, the more fat you burn during the exercise. For example, if you take a light-paced walk for 30 minutes at a constant speed, you will burn about 200 calories. If you do it on an empty stomach, your energy production levels will be lower, it will be easier to burn fat, and you will burn more fat.

On the other hand, if you are going to have a high performance running training, your body will burn carbohydrates rather than fat. If you do intense exercise, your body cannot use fats fast enough; it will burn some fat and some carbohydrates. You should not conclude that slow and steady training is more advantageous based on this. With slow-paced exercise, you burn fat during the training, predominantly. With intense interval training programs, you trigger your metabolism and maintain fat burning even after the training.

Working Out on an Empty Stomach

What If You Have No Energy to Working Out on an Empty Stomach?

Doing cardio before breakfast can certainly be useful, but if you really feel you don’t have any energy to start exercising, it is a bit pointless. There are some energy stores in your muscles and fat stores in your body for exercise. Your liver provides glucose for your body, which you don’t need or use until you run out the glycogen stores in your muscles. Depending on what you ate the day before and how intensely you exercise, your body does not need the support of your liver glycogen stores for approximately 1-1.5 hours.

In other words, you do not have any obstacles to exercising on an empty stomach for up to 1 hour. If you are going to do intense training or exceed 1 hour, it is important to replenish your energy stocks (with an energy bar or gel, for example). You should never forget that post-training nutrition is the most important thing for your muscles. Doing exercise on an empty stomach prepares your body for the nutrients you will consume after the exercise. Your body absorbs proteins better and determines where they will be used. Carbohydrates and proteins reach your muscles and feed them, instead of being stored as fat.

 

Related: Vivoo Energy Box

 

exercising on an empty stomach

When Working Out on an Empty Stomach Will Be a Problem?

If your health is generally in good condition, you will not have many disadvantages when doing cardio on an empty stomach. However, those who are on a low-calorie diet may face some difficulties. The reason behind this is that there is not enough fuel available in the liver. Since they cannot regenerate glycogen storages efficiently, they may also encounter some problems in recovery between workouts. It should be underlined that this is not a serious threat to health. Your body will give you signals when you reach your limits and it is the time for you to stop. Your appetite may also be affected after the training. A study shows that runners who spend 1 hour on the treadmill without eating anything felt more hungry after training.

Working Out on an Empty Stomach

Image Credit: Total Shape

A Matter of Personal Preferences

The matter of exercising on an empty stomach begins and ends in the mind. If you think that you will not have enough energy and pass out when exercising on an empty stomach and feel the need to eat something, then eat something. This is a “mind over matter” subject, as well… If you think you can do it, then you can. 

 

Breakfast Eater or Skipper: Here are 5 Quick Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast Eater or Skipper: Here are 5 Quick Breakfast Ideas

Oh, hey there! Are you one of the breakfast eaters or are you a skipper?

Of course, this breakfast should be an ideal (a.k.a healthy) meal, not a poor quality one!

It seems that we are obliged to skip our breakfast meal for reasons like early morning working hours, being stuck in traffic, tough working conditions, or just being unwilling to prepare breakfast.

If we look from the scientific perspective, recent studies show that the ideal breakfast meal should meet 20-35% of our daily energy consumption. It includes adequate macro and micronutrients for better appetite control, feeling more active mentally and physically the rest of the day, higher cognitive performance (which is really important in our work-life), good levels of well-being, and generally higher quality of life.

However, I can hear you say, “We, the people who work hard, do not have time for it!” Well, this writing leads you to eat, not to skip, and shows that there is no excuse! 

But how?

Let’s figure it out!

Here are 5 healthy but quick breakfast ideas:

overnight oats

1. Savior: Overnight Oats!

We all know that oats are one of the easiest ways to feed ourselves. It’s not a worldwide traditional food, but it’s becoming trendier day by day.  It’s a savior for us, the people who are working hard, who don’t have enough time for taking care of our health, but have grumbling stomachs!

Let’s see what’s in it:

  • 3 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 200 ml milk (If you want lower calories, you can choose to skim or semi-skim milk; or if you’re vegan, you can choose plant-based milk, such as coconut milk, almond milk, etc.)
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 2 thin slices of pineapple OR 1 handful of blueberries OR 10 strawberries OR 1 middle-sized apple OR 1/2 banana 
  • 5-6 almonds or hazelnuts, a pinch of coconut flakes or 2 walnuts (chopped)
  • Cinnamon, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon cacao or ground coffee, if you want to be more awake and energetic!

Mix them all in a small jar, and close it up tightly. Put it in the fridge. Your amazingly delicious overnight oats will be ready for the next morning! You can enjoy it at home or at work. Enjoy!

Puffy Muffins

2. To Ketogenic Lovers: Puffy Muffins

Yes, you’ve heard right! Muffins for ketogenic lovers, but muffins made in a ketogenic way. Healthy and quick breakfast options for the ketogenic people may be hard sometimes, but not impossible. 

Here is the recipe;

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1/4 avocado, mashed
  • Greens, such as parsley, green onion, dill, etc., chopped

Mix the eggs well, then add coconut oil and avocado, then stir. Take a muffin pan, spray some oil, or you can use coconut oil instead. Put some chopped greens in the pan, then pour the egg mixture into it. Then, put it right into the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Your puffy muffins will be ready. 

Meanwhile, you can get ready for work while it’s cooking!

Breakfast Eater or Skipper: Here are 5 Quick Breakfast Ideas

3. The Trendiest Breakfast: Smoothie Bowls

Are you looking for fresh and nourishing options at the same time? Or different options other than classic breakfasts? Well, smoothies would be a good fit for you. And quicker! 

Meal prep is always a good idea, therefore put the fruits you like in the freezer the night before. The next morning, take out the fruits, slice them into pieces. Add them to the blender. Blend it until smooth and creamy. Add yogurt or kefir or milk (also vegan milk) and blend again, then pour it to a bowl, and top with healthy snacks. 

Here’s sample smoothie bowl recipe:

  • 1 handful of frozen berries
  • 1/2 frozen ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoon yogurt or 100 ml kefir/milk
  • 1 tablespoon almond/nut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

The whole process will be done in 5 minutes maximum!

Related: The Most Popular Low-Calorie Summer Drink: Smoothie

avobread

4. Delicious Duo: AvoBread and NutBread 

Are you one of the people who love salty and sweet meals together? Great! Because I have a breakfast option for you all. Remember, there are always healthier ways to feed our bodies.

For the perfect duo;

  • 2 slices of bread (especially the healthy and full of fiber ones with whole grain or rye or buckwheat etc.)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1,5  teaspoon peanut butter (no added sugar or homemade sugarless ones)
  • 1 egg, hardboiled or cooked in a pan
  • 1 teaspoon jam (no added sugar or homemade sugarless ones)
  • A pinch of black seeds, flax seeds, poppy or chia seeds

Mash the avocado, coat one slice of healthy bread. Divide the boiled egg into two, put it on the bread with smashed avo. And then, sprinkle some seed. It’s ready to enjoy!

Second, coat the other slice of healthy bread with peanut butter, then with jam. You can also use fresh fruit instead of jam. If you like, sprinkle some seed on that, too!

With a cup of herbal tea or filtered coffee, it’ll also be the perfect trio!

Healthy Burrito 

5. Last, but not least: Healthy Burrito 

Want a tasty burrito? A healthier one? Even at breakfast? Well, why not?

Then, here is your recipe:

  • 1 tortilla with whole grain or rye
  • 3 slices of smoked turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 30 gr cheese
  • A pinch of salt and black pepper
  • Fresh vegetables, such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and greens

Make an omelet with the egg, milk, and cheese. Add some spices into the omelet. After that, take the tortilla, and spread the omelet down the center of the bread. Add the rest of the ingredients above. Fold each opposite side, then roll it up. And done! Enjoy your burrito!