The Art of the Smoothie – How to make perfect smoothies

Apple Smoothie recipe - herbalife protein shake mix

The perfect smoothie. It’s easy, it’s healthy and it tastes amazing!

Smoothies are an excellent way of meeting the recommended daily allowances for important nutrients like iron, calcium, amino acids and omega 3s.  Another beautiful thing about smoothies is that they are incredibly easy to make, yet have a wide range of health benefits.

 

Health Benefits of Smoothies

 

  • Natural Weight Loss: Smoothies can help with weight loss because they are cleansing, energizing, and keep your body healthy by providing everything needed to function properly.  Some smoothie ingredients can also help boost your metabolism.
  • Packed with Nutrients: Depending on how you make your smoothie, it can provide antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals like calcium and iron, and many other nutrients.  Because the fruits and veggies in the smoothie are broken down by blending, it is also easier for the body to absorb these nutrients.
  • Makes It Easy to Eat Your Greens:  If you don’t like eating vegetables, then you can add them to a smoothie.   Over a cup of greens (like spinach) can easily go into a smoothie without overpowering the taste.
  • Improved Energy: Because smoothies are so nutrient dense, they help keep your energy levels high.  Consider having a smoothie instead of your morning coffee!
  • Antioxidant Boost: Smoothies usually contain fruits which are packed with antioxidants, such as blueberries or raspberries.  Antioxidants help keep your immune system strong, fight cancer, and reduce inflammation.

 

 

How to Make the Perfect Smoothie

 

If you want to get health benefits from smoothies, then you need to make them with the right combination of ingredients.   This does NOT, however, mean that you must follow a prescribed recipe for a smoothie.  You simply need the simple, essential components on hand that go into a perfect smoothie, and you can customize to your taste and goals.

1. Liquid Base

 

For starters, you need to have a liquid base for your smoothie.  The most common choices are milks (including dairy, soy, or nut milks) or a juice.  If you use store-bought juice for your smoothie base, just make sure that it is 100% juice with no sugar added.  Along with milk and juices, you can also get creative with bases like coconut water, yogurt, or tea.

 

2. Thick Base Fruit

 

Part of what makes smoothies so good and satisfying is their creaminess.  To get that great smoothie texture, you want to use a thick, creamy fruit as part of the base.  Bananas are a common choice because they are cheap and available year round.  For more exciting smoothies, consider fruits like avocados, melons, apples, pears, or coconut meat.

 

3. Vegetables

 

Yes, adding greens to your smoothies may sound gross.  However, the other ingredients hide the bitterness of the greens so the smoothie still tastes delicious.  Spinach is particularly good in smoothies because it blends down so well.  With tougher greens like kale or beet tops, you may need to cut them up into pieces first if your blender isn’t very powerful.  Spirulina is also a good choice for green smoothies and is available in powder form.

 

4. Protein

 

Protein is not only good for your muscles and cells, but it also helps you feel full longer.  You can easily add proteins like nut butters (almond butter is great) to a smoothie.  There are also many protein powders which blend up well in smoothies.  (We recommend these Herbalife shake recipes.)

 

5. Frozen Fruit

 

The sweetness of fruit is what makes a smoothie such a tasty treat, and the fruit is also what provides a mega dose of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and other nutrients.  Choose fruits that are packed with flavor, such as berries, mangos, or kiwi.  Tip:  Using frozen fruits in your smoothie makes it nice and cold without being too icy-cold.

 

Optional Smoothie Additions

 

Once you get the five core ingredients of a perfect smoothie down pat, you can start experimenting with add-ons.  Spices like cardamom and cinnamon go great in smoothies, as do ingredients like maca root and cacao powder. For a dose of Omega 3 fatty acids, add some flax seed powder or flax oil to the smoothie. Or for a little shot in the arm, adding chili powder gives your smoothie a kick and can help weight loss by boosting metabolism.

Have a favorite smoothie recipe?  Share it!

 

 

Kettlebell Benefits

For decades, dumbbells have been the standard type of free weights used during training. However, there has been a recent explosion in the popularity of kettlebells – weights that have a big handle with the weight hanging off of it like a bell. The popularity of kettlebells has nothing to do with aesthetics, though. The kettlebell shape makes it possible to achieve benefits not possible with other weights.

 

What Makes Kettlebells Unique

 

With most free weights, the weight is in the center of the hand. With kettlebells, the weight hangs away from the hand. This may seem insignificant, but it actually makes a big difference to how kettlebells should be used. They should NOT be used in the typical lifting motions used with dumbbells, and they should NEVER be lifted overhead. Rather, kettlebells should be used with a swinging motion. Note that using kettlebells can be dangerous, especially if you are used to training with dumbbells. It is best to have a professional show you how to use the kettlebells properly before you start using them in your exercise routine.

 

Benefits of Kettlebells

 

Since kettlebells are used with a swinging motion, they are used for a more specialized weight training instead of traditional strength training. If your main goal is to build strength, you should stick to free weights such as dumbbells. If you want to intensify your aerobic routine and burn fat while building strength, kettlebells are a good choice because of the benefits they provide.

 

  • Work More Muscles: The swinging motion requires you to use dozens of muscles throughout your body.
  • Real-Life Motions: Kettlebell exercises mimic motions you use in your everyday life. This will help you improve resistance to injury and cause you to get lean instead of bulky.
  • They’re Aerobic: Unlike dumbbell exercises that involve fewer, slower reps, kettlebell exercises involve quick reps in greater quantity. This approach makes using kettlebells more aerobic in nature, improving your heart health while you also burn fat.
  • Results Come Faster: Because kettlebells use so many different muscles and muscle groups while combining aerobics and strength training, they produce results more quickly.
  • They Are Versatile: Kettlebells can be used in numerous ways, such as with HIIT(high intensity interval training), with squats, or in numerous swinging exercises. This variety allows you to achieve broader results using kettlebells than you can with most other types of weights. And, as an added benefit, it also means that your workout is less likely to get boring.

 

The pH Diet – Info for your best health.

Risks and Benefits of the pH Diet

 

The pH diet (aka “the alkaline diet”) involves eating alkaline-forming foods. This does not mean you can’t eat any acid-forming foods at all, such as coffee, dairy, or beef. Rather, the goal is to create a greater balance between acidic and alkaline foods. The idea behind the diet is that eating a pH-balanced diet will help you control the pH level of your blood and stomach so your body can function optimally.

Read the comments:  The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health

Or visit Dr Young’s website: Ph Miracle Living

Benefits of the pH Diet

Our bodies naturally balance pH on their own, but eating a balanced diet makes it much easier for our bodies to do so. Since the body doesn’t have to put as much effort into balancing its pH levels, it has more energy for other functions, like metabolism, hence the long-term weight loss that many experience on the pH diet.

The pH diet consists mostly of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, and certain whole grains.  These foods are conducive to weight loss because they are low calorie and are either low-fat or contain healthy fats like Omega 3s.  Alkaline foods do not contain refined or “simple” sugars that cause your blood sugar to spike. This means the calories go more towards energy instead of getting stored as fat, and you won’t feel the energy crash that is typical after consuming junk foods. Because alkaline-forming foods are rich in fiber, they also help you feel full longer.

Along with weight loss, there are numerous other health benefits that come with the pH diet such as reduced risk of kidney stones, less erosion of tooth enamel, reduced acid reflux, and less stress on organs and the bladder.

 

Risks of the pH Diet

With any diet there are always some risks. In the case of the pH diet, some people end up eating more fruit than vegetables. The excess sugar can cause problems like acne breakouts or blood sugar problems. If people on the pH diet don’t eat enough of the diet’s more protein-rich foods, such as from legumes or seeds, they can end up with a deficiency. Protein deficiency can seriously impact weight loss because muscle deterioration can occur. That means the body will have less mass and metabolism will significantly slow down.

 

To avoid the risks of the pH diet, practitioners need to make sure that they are eating a well-balanced diet. They should be sure to get at least three servings of vegetables daily, some of which should be leafy greens to ensure adequate iron intake, and also to eat protein with every meal, which can be as simple as sprinkling some nuts onto your fruit bowl or salad.

What Do Diet Cleanses Do for Your Health?

What Do Diet Cleanses Do for Your Health?

 

When discussing diet cleanses, often the first benefit that comes to mind for many people is weight loss. Indeed, you will likely lose weight if you go on cleanse (such as a juice cleanse or a fast) because they are low-calorie and involve consuming healthy, natural foods. However, the real benefit of going on a cleanse is that it removes toxins from your body. It is this detoxification which is actually behind the long-term weight loss that a cleanse can help achieve.

 

Toxin Detoxification

 

In our daily lives, we encounter numerous harmful toxins through pollutants and chemical additives in the foods we eat. Our bodies have mechanisms to deal with these toxins, but chronic exposure to toxins can cause our bodies to become overworked. Our immune systems weaken, we feel sluggish, and our metabolisms can slow.

 

Diet cleanses can help flush out these toxins in numerous ways. Some cleanses involve eating or drinking cleansing foods, such as berry or herbal tonics. Other cleanses involve eating only “clean” foods  order ito stem the flow of toxins coming in, thus allowing the body to focus on getting rid of the toxins that are already there.

 

Without all of these toxins in your body, your metabolism rate can increase, which means that you will find it easier to lose weight and keep it off, including the weight you lost during the fast. You can also experience benefits like improved mood, clearer skin, and better focus.

 

Dangers of Cleansing

 

When considering a diet cleanse, it is important to remember that there are many different types of cleanses.

  • Juice fasts
  • Water-only fasts
  • Master Cleanse
  • Liver detox cleanses
  • Colon cleanses

 

These cleanses can have benefits, but only if they are performed properly. Doing a cleanse for too long can cause a slew of problems, the main one being nutrient deficiencies. Also, depriving your body of energy (i.e. calories) for a prolonged period can lead to a slowed metabolism. Both of these problems can harm your health, not to mention your weight-loss goals.

 

Before starting any cleanse, it is important to look at the cleanse as it relates to your lifestyle and overall health goals. If you lead a very active lifestyle, for example, then doing the Master Cleanse could devastate your health.

 

Post-Cleansing Practices

 

In order to maintain the detoxification benefits you received during your cleanse, you will need to have a post-cleanse plan. This should involve a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed, refined foods. The good news is that cleanses will typically purge all the refined sugars and chemicals in your body, so you stop feeling cravings for junk food. Since your stomach may have shrunk in size during the cleanse as well, it also probably won’t take as much food to make you feel full.

Best Yoga Positions to Strengthen Your Core

Best Yoga Positions to Strengthen Your Core

 

Posture, digestion, back safety, and so many other aspects of life require a connection to the core. Having a strong and fluid core is a key to emotional stability and overall empowerment. One of the most holistic and sustainable ways to cultivate a strong core is through a dedicated Yoga practice. Most of the Yoga Asanas (postures, positions, or “seats”) contribute to core strength in subtle ways. But there are a few that specifically strengthen the center. Remember to breathe deeply throughout each pose, and it is best to practice these within a complete sequence.

 

Phalakasana

 

Otherwise known as Plank pose, Phalakasana firms the arms, legs, and center. It looks like a standard high push-up from the outside, and is held for 5 to 7 breaths. To build core strength, pull the navel in towards the spine while drawing the tailbone towards the heels. Keep the palms flat on the ground to protect the wrists, reach through the inner heels and inner palms while hugging the arms and thighs towards the midline.

 

Chaturanga Dandasana

 

Chaturanga Dandasana is a four-limbed staff pose that looks like a push-up, except the body is at the height of the bent elbows. To really work the core in this one, come into it from the ground. Lie on your abdomen and set the palms alongside the lower ribs (your palms must stay flat the whole time to protect the wrists). Press through the inner heels. Use the core to lift the entire body just to height of the elbows, extending through crown and heels. Be careful to keep the neck and jaw relaxed, and to draw the tailbone towards the heels to keep the lower abdomen engaged.

 

Dolphin

 

Dolphin builds core strength while also working shoulders and legs. From a hands-and-knees tabletop position, set the elbows on the mat. They should be directly under the shoulders and aligned with the wrists. Turn the toes under and use the core to lift the thighbones towards the sky. Walk the feet towards the hands without moving the shoulders, sliding the shoulders away from the ears while squeezing elbows towards the midline. Use the core to lift up out of the shoulders. For a dynamic version, keep the elbows and shoulders in place as you walk the feet away from the hands and then back in, transitioning between Plank pose on the elbows and dolphin.

 

Vasisthasana

 

Sometimes called Side Plank pose, Vasisthasana strengthens the obliques. From Phalakasana, roll onto one hand, turning onto the side of one foot and extending the opposite arm towards the sky. Keep the supporting palm rooted and the hips in line with the shoulders and heels. Draw the navel towards spine and lengthen the entire body.

 

Navasana

 

Boat pose is the most direct core strengthener. From a seated position, lift the legs as you shift your weight forward onto the sitting bones/upper thighbones. Lengthen the spine, keep the shoulders back, and draw the navel inwards. Extend the legs for more intensity. Do not collapse the chest or let the spine round.

 

Swimmer

 

Strengthening the lower back is just as important as working the front of the core. Lie face down and draw the straight legs towards each other as you press down through the pelvis and shins. Use the core to lift and lengthen the torso. Extend your arms straight forward as you exhale, reach the arms out to the side and back alongside your legs as you inhale and lift the chest. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

 

Integration

 

Integrate by opening and stretching the core. Backbends such as Bhujangasana (Cobra) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) will improve the flexibility and tone of the core and keep the back safe and supple. Twists also help detoxify the organs and balance the strengthening and stretching work.

 

In addition to core-specific Asanas, the entire body must be worked regularly for weight loss, muscle development, and overall strength. These poses should be practiced as part of a whole body routine. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new fitness regimen, and practice with a qualified Yoga instructor whenever possible.

What Is the Best Type of Yoga for Me?

What Is the Best Type of Yoga for Me?

 

Yoga is a popular philosophy that cultivates unity between the body, mind, and spirit. Originally from India, Yoga has made its way all over the world. Traditionally a student would have studied with just one master teacher. This teacher would understand his or her students’ needs and prescribe appropriate practices. In the modern world, however, studying individually with a master teacher is not always possible – or practical. Thankfully, contemporary Yogis are blessed with a variety of styles and teachers from which to choose.

 

Hatha Yoga

 

Hatha means “Sun – Moon.” It is intended to help practitioners balance action with stillness, effort with ease, and the masculine and feminine polarities within the human body. Nearly all physical Yoga is actually Hatha Yoga that has been interpreted and codified by different teachers. Typically, Hatha Yoga classes focus on safe alignment, Asanas (postures or “seats”) to increase strength and mobility, deep breathing, and subtle energetic practices such as Pranayama (breath control) and Bandha (energetic seals). Because of the focus on correct alignment and working at one’s level, these classes tend to be accessible for all levels of students who want a precise, safe, and holistic approach to the practice. Beginner’s especially benefit from taking a few Hatha class before the flowing classes.

 

Iyengar Yoga

 

B. K. S. Iyengar established this form of Hatha Yoga in the 1970s. It focuses on precise alignment and specificity. Iyengar teachers often use a variety of props such as straps and blocks, and detailed instruction to ensure each pose is practiced correctly and efficiently. These classes tend to move slowly, with a great deal of verbal, demonstrative, and hands-on instruction for each pose. They are great for beginners and advanced students looking to deeply understand proper alignment. They are also helpful for elderly or injured students, as well as students with a therapeutic needs or specific ailments. They are not for people just seeking a workout or a flow. As Iyengar teachers must study for a minimum of two years, and many study for a decade or more, they usually work from a depth of knowledge that exceeds some other styles.

 

Astanga Yoga

 

Codified by Sri Pattabhi Jois, Astanga Yoga is a style exemplified by a systemic, regimented approach to the practice. There are three main sequences that are rigorously followed by practitioners. Students traditionally learn the sequences by attending early-morning “Mysore” classes, where a group of students are each practicing at their individual pace. The teacher will instruct new students as needed, and give guidance and subsequent poses to continuing students as their practices develop. Astanga Yoga is best for healthy, fit individuals who already understand how to practice many Yoga poses safely, and want a vigorous and repetitive practice.

 

Vinyasa Yoga

 

Vinyasa simply means movement that is coordinated with breath. These classes are based on Hatha Yoga, but move faster with connected sequences that are designed to build internal heat. They are also sometimes called Power Yoga. There may be some alignment instruction within the flow, depending on the instructor. Vinyasa classes are usually best for reasonably fit people with no injuries who want a mindful workout.

 

Restorative Yoga

 

Restorative Yoga balances the internal environment by pacifying the SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System – the “flight or fight” response) and awakening the PSNS (Para-Sympathetic Nervous System, the “rest and relax” response). Restorative Yoga classes consist of passive, fully supported, comfortable poses that are held from 2 to 20 minutes. These poses reduce stress levels, can help one recover from illness or injury, and reduce the likelihood of developing stress-related diseases and obesity. They are a relaxing complement to active practices that is suitable for any person of any skill level or body type.

 

Yin Yoga

 

Based on the Chinese Meridian system, Yin Yoga consists of passive poses that are held for 3 to 5 minutes. The poses are designed to activate certain lines of energy within the body that correspond to various organs and systems. Unlike Restorative Yoga, Yin poses are often mildly uncomfortable, as they are sometimes stretching connective tissue or using passive-resistance to open an area of the body. They are usually safe for most people, though sometimes modifications are needed if one has back or neck injuries. Yin Yoga is helpful for anyone who wants a more subtle class and/or needs to find stillness and inner quiet.

 

Bikram Yoga

 

Bikram Choudry established this sequence of Vinyasa Yoga. It is usually practiced in extremely heated, carpeted rooms. The same 26 poses are practiced in every class, and every Bikram teacher is required to use the same verbal script for each class. These classes are best for fit beginners who want a repetitive workout. They are often helpful for recovering addicts and other people that need simple structure.

 

Yogi’s Choice

 

There are nearly as many types of Yoga as there are Yoga teachers. There is Yoga for Bikers, Yoga for Runners, Curvy Yoga, Hip-Hop Yoga, and Yogalates, just to name a few. Most studios have class descriptions on their websites, and teachers should be able to explain their classes if asked. The best style for you will be the one taught by a teacher that inspires you. Feeling safe, seen, encouraged, and motivated by a particular teacher is far more important than the name of the class.