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Top 5 Basic Tips for Fall Hiking

No bugs. Low humidity. Zero crowds. Autumn colors. Make a few easy adjustments to your warm-weather hiking routine and enjoy the perks of fall weather. The backcountry is bursting with fall color, crowds have thinned to a trickle, and the bugs are all but gone. But like any type of recreation, hiking carries certain risks, and your safety is best ensured with preparation and caution. And shorter days, colder nights and quickly-changing weather like we often experience in autumn in the mountains can make even a simple day hike more risky than your average summer excursion.When hiking in the fall, pack some extra caution into your backpack.

Carefully choose your hike destination, and take the time to check trail conditions and weather forecasts before you head out. Let someone know where you will be and when you plan to return. Bring warm clothes, and be prepared for any weather. And pack the backcountry essentials that could save your life should you get lost or injured.

Here are some tips for safe backcountry hiking in autumn from the Washington Trails Association:

Check the latest trail conditions. Check for recent trip reports from other hikers to confirm your chosen trail is snow-free. And always call ahead to local ranger stations for conditions.

Let someone know where you are going. Tell them when you expect to return (and call them when you do return). If your destination changes, follow up and let someone know. Here is an easy form to share your hike itinerary with someone.

Always pack the 10 essentials on any hike. These include a topographic map, compass, extra food, extra clothing, firestarter, matches, sun protection, a pocket knife, first-aid kit, and flashlight. In unpredictable weather, it’s also a good idea to bring some sort of emergency shelter, even on a day hike. Hiking poles or ice axes can be of help on stretches of unexpected icy or snow-covered patches. Remember, cell phones don't always get reception and batteries can fade quickly in cold weather. They are not a substitute for carrying the backcountry essentials that could save your life.

Watch weather forecasts. This time of year, weather can turn cold and rainy, even snowy, in an instant. Hikers should turn back if encountering treacherous snow and ice unless equipped with an ice ax and knowledgeable about how to use it, and be aware of avalanche danger. 

Be aware of hunting seasons. Autumn is hunting season, and each year hunters come out to pursue elk, deer, and other game. 

DIY: Chilled Tomatillo Avocado Soup

 

Cool summer soups are a refreshing addition to warm-weather menus. Enjoy this delightful chilled tomato avocado soup as we close out August! Summer is a perfect time to enjoy cold soups and this healthy tomatillo avocado soup is a refreshing yet filling meal. By using avocado as a thickener, it provides a rich creaminess without the added dairy.

Once you start making cold soups, you’ll start to see that the possibilities are nearly endless. It’s fun to try different combinations of seasonal veggies, herbs, and even fruits to make your own recipes, and I bet that some of you have whipped up a tasty cold soup or two already this summer. Do you have a favorite cold soup recipe?

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tomatillos, hulled and washed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • optional: 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped (approximately 1 medium cucumber)
  • ¼ cup shallot, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 avocado

Instructions

    1. Preheat the broiler and place an oven rack in the top position.
    2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
    3. Broil the tomatillos, garlic and jalapeno (if using) on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the vegetables while they're broiling to make sure they don't burn.
    4. Turn the ingredients over and broil for another 5 minutes. The tomatillos should be brown in spots and will have started releasing juices.
    5. Remove from the oven.
    6. Add the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, cucumber, shallot, cilantro, stock, lime juice, salt and water to a blender.
    7. Pit the avocado and scoop the flesh into the blender as well. Puree until very smooth.
    8. Pour the soup into a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow to flavors to blend.
Meatless Monday: Get Your Dose of High Protein

 

Across the country, people are choosing to eat less meat, whether for one meatless day per week or a lifetime. But those who work out regularly are (understandably) concerned about getting enough protein to keep those muscles well-supplied. The good news? Meat isn't the only source of quality protein.  

Protein, or more specifically its amino acids, is required by your body to make a variety of structures such as muscle tissue, hair and enzymes.The standard diet in the United States features meat as a main ingredient of most meals, with the average American eating about 200 pounds of meat annually.  

Meats such as beef, poultry and fish are considered complete protein sources because they contain all 22 amino acids that your body uses as building blocks. In comparison, most vegetarian sources of protein are incomplete because they are missing one or more of the eight essential amino acids your body cannot make. As a result, it’s a good idea for vegetarians to combine multiple protein sources during meals so they do not become deficient in any amino acids, which might compromise growth, repair and immunity.

Tofu. Tofu is made from processed soybeans, one of the few vegetable sources of protein that contain all the essential amino acids. Tofu is nutritious and versatile, as it’s available in three varieties: soft, regular and firm. If you are interested in a meat-like texture, chose fresh, firm varieties. If you want it to taste smoked or BBQd, then you can marinate it, as tofu readily absorbs other flavors. One cup of tofu provides almost 40 percent of your daily protein and is a very good source of calcium, B vitamins and iron.

Seitan. Seitan is derived from wheat gluten, the same substance used to prepare pasta. Gluten is a protein composite found in the seeds of wheat and other grass-based grains. Seitan probably tastes and chews more like meat than any other vegetarian meat-alternative, but a significant percentage of the population has allergic reactions or sensitivities to gluten. Seitan contains almost the same amount of protein as beef, but only one-third the calories. However, seitan is very high in sodium and it’s not a complete protein.

Dairy Sources. Dairy products are generally high in protein, contain all the essential amino acids and very affordable compared to meat. Good examples of protein-rich dairy products include eggs, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, yogurt, whey protein and milk. However, dairy allergies and lactose intolerance may be a concern for you. Further, dairy products do not have the consistency of meat.

Other Vegetable Sources. Aside from soybeans, many other beans, legumes and nuts are high in protein and excellent sources for vegetarians, although almost all are incomplete. Other vegetables that contain high amounts of incomplete plant protein include spinach, kale, wheat grass and broccoli.

Natural Health Presents: Foods That Heal

You are what you eat! According to Shape Magazine, "Someone once said that food can be the safest and most powerful type of medicine, or the slowest form of poison. If you want to look and feel your best, you need to eat the best foods."

Natural Health knows that food heals, and that's why they're bringing you a new special issue all about food: foods that de-bloat, foods that energize, foods that can decrease your risk of cancer, and more.

Download the mag's new special issue, and you'll have fresh new recipes for Meatless Monday, everything you need to know about going gluten-free, and the latest information on how to fight inflammation with superfoods all at your fingertips. Start reading today and be on your way to a balanced, blissful life!

5 To Do's for Clean Eating 101

When it comes to dieting, lose the fads. The single most effective way to lose weight and maintain health is by making lasting lifestyle changes. Clean eating is a lifestyle that puts the boot to processed, packaged foods dripping with salt, sodium, and unpronounceable ingredients.

Let's focus instead on natural, nutrient-packed foods that let your body run the way it’s supposed to. Change how you look and feel with our clean eating tips.

Do eat four to six small meals a day. Smaller, more frequent meals will keep your blood sugar levels stable and will increase your metabolism. And, because the meals keep the tummy satisfied throughout the day, you’re less likely to turn into a pantry-raiding snack monster.
Do drink. Water, that is. Drink at least four to six glasses of H2O every day to keep the body hydrated. Water also helps the stomach feel full, making you less likely to give in to unhealthy snack attacks. 

Do keep clean eating snacks on hand. Whether the day is filled with the kids’ sports events or running errands for an elderly parent, it’s easy to give in to the bad snack temptation. Stay on your clean eating track by packing up healthy snacks in advance. 

Do get very veggie. Vegetables deliver nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber by loading up on veggies by incorporating meatless meals.

Do combine lean protein and complex carbs at each meal. This clean eating one-two punch decreases insulin spikes and maintains energy levels. The combo also acts as a natural appetite suppressant, helping you feel fuller longer. 

This article was originally written by Skinny Ms. We shared this with you because we know eating healthy can be tricky, hope to motivate you, and get you on the right track. Enjoy the weekend!

DIY: Goji Berry Smoothie

Goji berries are known to have anti-aging benefits, boost immune function, protect vision, and prevent heart disease. Goji berry extracts may even boost brain health, mood and protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s so eat them up! They are perfect to add to any smoothie like this one loaded with potassium, vitamin A, fiber and good essential fatty acids, or as a snack.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. goji berries
  • 1 cup of coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • ½ avocado
  • ½ cup of raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed
  • Ice cubes (optional)

Directions

    1. Soak the goji berries in coconut water overnight or for a few hours (optional)
    2. Combine all ingredients in a blender
    3. Blend & enjoy!
Live Longer by Snacking

As one of the cornerstones of a Mediterranean diet, nuts make an excellent addition to just about any meal. And now a study in The New England Journal of Medicine has found that eating roughly a handful of them daily is associated with a 20 percent lower risk of death. But while all nuts are healthy, each variety has its own unique benefits. We spotlight the standouts. These mini treats have major nutritional benefits.

Macadamias. Though these nuts pack roughly 21 grams of fat per serving, most of it is the unsaturated kind—so you can nosh guilt free. Macadamias are an excellent source of two nutrients vital for healthy brain and nerve function: manganese (one serving delivers 66 percent of what you need daily) and the B vitamin thiamine (30 percent of your recommended dietary allowance). Serving size: 10 to 12 nuts, 204 calories

Brazil Nuts. The bad news: You can't eat a lot of them. Each of these Amazonian nuts contains about 33 calories—the equivalent of nearly 10 M&M's. The good news: You needn't go overboard to reap their health benefits. Just two nuts per day for 12 weeks can increase blood levels of the mineral selenium by 64 percent. Selenium is essential for proper immune function, as it helps build germ-fighting white blood cells. Serving size: 6 nuts, 186 calories

Almonds. Call them the skinny nuts. In a 2013 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate about one and a half servings of almonds with breakfast felt a 35 percent decrease in appetite an hour later. When the nuts were consumed as an afternoon snack, they quashed appetites by about two and a half times that, helping the subjects naturally eat less for the rest of the day. Serving size: 23 nuts, 164 calories

Pecans. A small study in The Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed about three servings of pecans experienced as much as a 33 percent drop in oxidized LDL cholesterol (the kind that causes artery-clogging plaque to form). The pecan's power may lie in its high levels of heart-protecting antioxidants. Serving size: 9 halves, 196 calories

Pistachios. Not only are pistachios the lowest-calorie nut of the bunch, but they're also rich in healthy unsaturated fatty acids. In a new study, a group that consumed 20 percent of their daily calories from pistachios for nearly six months had lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels—two risk factors for heart disease—and trimmed their waistlines more than those who ate a wholesome but pistachio-free diet. Serving size: 49 nuts, 159 calories


This article was originally posted by Jessica Girdwain for O Magazine. We shared this with you because we want to help you make better lifestyle choices for an improved quality of life.

9 Foods That Reduce Stress Levels

Standard advice to reduce stress would include exercise regularly, drink an energy shake for breakfast and remember to eat small meals throughout the day, which will keep your blood sugar stable. When blood sugar is low, mental, physical, and emotional energy decreases, and stress increase. But what exactly should we eat?

Reach for these items next time you're feeling under pressure, under the weather, or just too close to that breaking point. Munching on these stress-free foods will help pull you back into the game.

Oranges. A German study in Psychopharmacology found that vitamin C helps reduce stress and return blood pressure and cortisol to normal levels after a stressful situation. Vitamin C is also well-known for boosting your immune system.

Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress-reducing because they can satisfy the urge you get for carbohydrates and sweets when you are under a great deal of stress. They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and the fiber helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.

Dried Apricots. Apricots are rich in magnesium, which is a stress-buster and a natural muscle relaxant as well.

Almonds, Pistachios & Walnuts. Almonds are packed with B and E vitamins, which help boost your immune system, and walnuts and pistachios help lower blood pressure.

Turkey. Turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan. This amino acid triggers the release of serotonin, which is a feel-good brain chemical. This is the reason why many people who eat turkey feel relaxed, or even tired, after eating it. L-Tryptophan has a documented calming effect.

Spinach. A deficiency in magnesium can cause migraine headaches and a feeling of fatigue. One cup of spinach provides 40 percent of your daily needs for magnesium.

Salmon. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease. A study from Diabetes & Metabolism found that omega-3s keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking.

Avocados. The monounsaturated fats and potassium in avocados help lower blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to consume enough potassium (avocados have more than bananas).

Green Vegetables. Broccoli, kale, and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress. 

This article was originally posted by Marie Claire. We think it's great to share with you because we find it informative on how to cure stress, the natural way.

DIY: Chickpea, Avocado, & Feta Salad

This healthy chickpea, avocado, & feta salad only takes 5 minutes to make. It’s perfect for a quick lunch, dinner, or snack. Plus five minutes is all you need to make this healthy salad!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 avocados, pitted, and chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons green onion
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

    1. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, avocado, cilantro, green onion, feta cheese, and lime juice.
    2. Stir until mixed well.
    3. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

    This recipe was originally posted by Maria & Josh of Two Peas and Their Pod via Pinterest (follow us!) 

    Foods That Fight Inflammation & Belly Fat

    When eaten on a regular basis, foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation in the body, helping to prevent the long-term health consequences associated with it — but only if you also eliminate the foods that cause inflammation. When inflammation is under control, not only will you have more energy and feel better overall, but you’ll also find that weight loss and reduction of belly fat both become easier!

    Remember staying hydrated is essential to flushing inflammation-causing toxins out of your body. So always aim for 64 ounces of water per day. Add an additional 8 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise as well.

    Try adding anti-inflammatory foods into your meal plan on a daily basis. The more often you eat these foods, the less inflammation that will be present in your body. The following foods and nutrients can fight inflammation:

    Fruits and vegetables. All fruits and vegetables, due to their rich nutrient and fiber content, help to combat chronic inflammation, so make sure to include adequate amounts of these foods daily. Some types of fresh produce, however, are even more potent than others.Some terrific anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables to include in your meal plan include apples, berries, broccoli, mushrooms, papaya, pineapple, and spinach.

    Green tea. This mild beverage is great for helping shrink your waistline as well as for decreasing inflammation. The flavonoids in this tea have natural anti-inflammatory properties. And the compound EGCG in green tea has been shown to help reduce body fat.

    Monounsaturated fats. These heart-healthy fats help raise your healthy HDL cholesterol levels and reduce overall inflammation. Great sources include olive oil, almonds, and avocado.

    Spices. Certain spices, including garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and chili peppers, have potent inflammation-reducing capabilities, so try adding them to meals as often as possible.

    Whole grains. Rich in fiber, whole grains help control the insulin response in your body. The high B vitamin content of whole grains also helps reduce the inflammatory hormonehomocystine in the body.

    Omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that a diet with a high percentage of omega-3 fatty acids and a low percentage of omega-6 fatty acids has been linked with decreased inflammation. Food sources of omega-3s include walnuts, flaxseed, and fish, such as wild Alaskan salmon.

     
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