Ferreting out Healthy Fast Food: Zoup – Great Soups for All!

It would be great if we could all bring our lunches to work everyday, or have a personal chef concoct a healthy and delicious meal. In reality, sometimes we just need a quick and simple solution for lunch or dinner. While healthy and fast food do not usually go together, there are some decent options around. Zoup is one of them – newly opened in Downers Grove, they have approximately 41 locations across the US, concentrated in about ten states.

Soup is good food, advised the Campbell’s Soup commercial many years ago. And it’s mostly healthy, especially if you stick to broth-based, veggie soups. The water in soup provides part of your daily water needs and it’s a great way to get several servings of vegetables. And it warms you up from the insides – always a good thing, especially in Midwest winters.

Zoup is a fast-casual restaurant that features 12 varieties of soups daily, and rotate choices each day. I’m pretty skeptical about most restaurant and store-bought soups – they are either too salty or the contents are too mushy. On a recent visit to Zoup, though, I tried several of their soups and was fairly impressed!

They also designate the daily choices as vegetarian, dairy free, low fat, spicy, and low points options. They also list their gluten-free options as well. Kudos to them on their nutritional awareness. Their online menu changes daily, and you can easily view the ingredients in each soup and get their nutritional information as well. Orders can be placed online. Zoup also has several salads and sandwiches as well.

I had a piping hot bowl of their vegetarian split pea soup, while my husband slurped on a bowl of Mexican Chicken. Both were good!

At around $6 for a 16 ounce bowl, you can’t go wrong! Zoup is a wonderful option for healthy and simple food for lunch and dinner. Hope to see more of these open soon!

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Could a Gluten-free Diet be the Answer to Some of Your Perplexing Problems?

Over the years, I’ve noticed that some foods just do not agree with my body. Milk and many dairy products cause my stomach to distend like I’m six months pregnant. Red meat lays stagnant in my digestive system like a rock. White processed starchy carbohydrates play havoc with my blood sugar and lead to extra weight around my mid-section. I know it sounds like I’m a bit of a drama queen when it comes to food, but I’m really not. I’ve just grown very aware of my body and its signals.

If eating a certain food causes me to feel bloated, gassy or lethargic, I know I should avoid the food culprit, especially if a pattern of behavior is apparent. Fortunately, my husband is sensitive to the same foods as I am, which makes cooking meals a bit easier.

Well, it looks like there’s a new offender on our list: gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley and its assorted byproducts. Individuals with celiac disease have difficulties digesting this protein, which destroys their small intestine and affects the absorption of nutrients.

While full-blown celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, health experts believe that gluten intolerance lies along a spectrum. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity include diarrhea and constipation, bloating and gassiness, weight gain, fatigue, irritability and more.

While neither of us eat a lot of white, processed foods, I was surprised to see that gluten also can be found in whole wheat products, such as bread, couscous, seitan and more.

Cardiologist and author Dr. William Davis, believes there’s another reason to eliminate wheat from your diet. Davis states in his book, “Wheat Belly“, that most foods made of wheat flour cause blood sugar to rise higher than almost any other food, including table sugar. Eliminate all wheat products from your diet, he claims, and you can reduce common medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Davis also has seen another remarkable side effect of reducing wheat consumption: an average weight loss of 25 pounds in many of his patients.

With that in mind, I decided that our household would experiment with reducing the amount of wheat and gluten we consume. My husband, understandably, was distressed by the idea.

“No bread or cereal?” he moaned. “What are we going to eat for breakfast and lunch?”

So, I set out to explore the options available to those gluten-intolerant folk. Luckily, most stores carry a wide assortment of gluten-free alternatives. Whole Foods and Fruitful Yield predictably have a large selection, but surprisingly enough, even traditional grocers like Dominick’s have a section for the gluten-free.

Both processed and whole wheat pastas are off limits, but Dominick’s carries a variety of gluten-free pasta options. I bought an imported Italian gluten-free pasta made from corn, and my family thought it was good. Other options include pastas made from brown rice and quinoa.

Common foods like rice, potatoes and quinoa, and more unusual grains such as amaranth and buckwheat, are all naturally gluten-free.

Even dessert lovers need not fear. Most grocers carry a variety of gluten-free pastries and desserts. We tried a mini chocolate gluten-free cake from Dominicks that was delicious.

Since wheat flour is forbidden for those with gluten sensitivities, many gluten-free bakers use nut crusts, rice flours and more. One word of caution: Gluten-free doesn’t necessarily translate to less calories. The mini chocolate cake that we tried had about 200 more calories than a comparable slice of regular chocolate cake. And the nuts used in crusts, while they are healthy options, can still overload your daily caloric limit.

Elmhurst’s newly opened Bleeding Heart Bakery creates pastries and cakes that can accommodate any dietary restriction, including vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and sugar free. In addition, they are committed to using organic, local and sustainable ingredients whenever possible.

Need a gluten-free birthday or wedding cake for a family member? You can order a specially made cake online or in person. You’ll also find an assortment of gluten-free items in their bakery, including cupcakes.

Gluten can be a hidden ingredient in many products, which makes grocery shopping as challenging as taking the CPA exam. Pickles, ketchup, sausages, soy sauce, boxed and canned soups, medicines, lipstick and even communion wafers may contain gluten. Reading labels is essential; luckily the FDA requires wheat and other food allergens to be clearly identified in the ingredient list.

Can eliminating or reducing gluten and wheat help you lose weight? While this topic has caused much controversy among scientists and the medical profession, it can be worthy of a try for each of us.

Who knows? You may end up losing those stubborn 10 pounds and feel much better as well.

This post was originally published in my column, Forever Fit, in the Elmhurst Patch, on November 12, 2011. You can read my other articles about healthy living and fitness in the Elmhurst Patch every other Friday.

6 Ways to Boost your Immunity Naturally this Flu Season

Cold and flu season is upon us once again! Health experts, doctors, and even our grocery stores are urging us to get our annual flu shot. I have mixed emotions about the flu shot – it’s not that I think there is something inherently wrong with it. And there’s definitely a certain population that should get it, among them senior citizens, those in the health care industry, and those with compromised immune systems.

It does seem to me, though, that our bodies are properly equipped with the tools and armor to fight these bugs, if we are healthy and have functioning immune systems. So I’m a bit reticent every year about getting one. I want my strong military defense team, led by those brave little soldiers, my white blood cells, to mount a fight instead. I’ve only actually gotten the shot once, back in the late 90’s.

I once interviewed an organic gardener about natural gardening; I asked her how to protect your garden from weeds and pesky critters. She told me that if your dirt and host environment is healthy and strong, weeds won’t be able to grow. Instead of taking care of the problem, she advocated instead preventative care by strengthening and optimizing the dirt.

I guess that’s how I feel about the cold and flu season – while we may get sick, hopefully, if we have a strong and healthy body, we can fight it off. And then develop our own natural immunities. But that’s a decision for each person to make for themselves and their family. Certainly, with my asthma, I may be more inclined to get a shot as I get older.

We can all benefit, though, from boosting our immunities naturally and creating our own strong defenses, even if we get a flu shot. Here’s six great ways:

  1. Exercise regularly. Peope who exercise regularly are less likely to get a cold. Exercise helps build your immune system as well as your gorgeous muscles!
  2. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit to promote a healthy and strong body. They are loaded with antioxidants to help fight those bad germs (and cancer, as well!). Vegetables rich in beta-carotene help to promote healthy skin and mucous lining, which is our first line of defense. Carrots, apricots, spinach, and broccoli are all rich in beta-carotene. Vitamin B-6 has also been shown to boost immunities, according to several studies. Avocados, bell peppers, and leafy greens are all rich in Vitamin B-6.
  3. Wash your hands. All the time. Germs and bacteria lurk everywhere. In a recent study, gas pump handles were found to have the highest concentration of filth and germs. ATM buttons, crosswalk buttons, mailboxes – all top breeding grounds. Think of other items that are touched often – Starbucks door handles, your phone at work, light switches, computer keyboards, and more. Sanitize these items in your home and office, and keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. It’s one of the most effective defenses.
  4. Chicken soup. Your grandma’s chicken soup did help to alleviate your cold symptoms – it promotes healthy mucous development and is an anti-inflammatory.
  5. Visit a steam room regularly. It helps to keep your nasal and respiratory passages moist – dry nasal passages make you more susceptible to colds. The steam, especially if tinged with eucalyptus, can keep those passages moist and functioning.
  6. Natural supplements to fight colds. While the scientific evidence is inconclusive, many swear by their zinc and echinacea. At the first sign of a cold or flu, I take NOW Elderberry and Zinc lozenges, available at Fruitful Yield. This immune system supporter contains elderberry extract, zinc, vitamin C, echinacea, propolis, and slippery elm. Elderberry has been suggested to reduce flu symptoms in several studies. I have taken these faithfully for over ten years; at the first sign of a cold, I start taking them on a strict regimen. My cold generally goes away or never starts; perhaps it’s all psychosomatic, but who cares if it works, right?

A Former Foodie and the Dilemma of Safe Foods

Yesterday my husband and I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up a couple of groceries on our way home from breakfast. Since I generally do most of the grocery shopping on my own, he most definitely had a few things on his list that he wanted.

“Let’s do a roast chicken for dinner tonight,” he said.

“How about salmon tonight? I have a taste for it and we have some at home already,” I remarked.

“We haven’t had chicken in a couple of weeks – we have salmon twice a week,” he cajoled. So we picked up an organic chicken for the evening. I wanted to get some bison to substitute for beef in a beef bourgignon I was making for Halloween night. But TJ’s didn’t have any because there’s apparently a bison shortage now in the US. They did have organic, free range, antibiotic free beef though. Success!

After browsing through the variety of vegetables, we decided to use up the many vegetables in our refrigerator that needed attention. We eat a lot of vegetables these days.

“How about some bread – you haven’t had bread in the house for several weeks.”

Ahh – I wondered how long it would be before he mentioned something. I’ve been trying to reduce our gluten consumption and bread was the next offender on my list. While we eat lunch at home often, I generally have soups, salads, and leftovers around, so I haven’t been buying any lunch meat for the household. I got rid of the bread at dinner several years ago except for the occasional naan, so the last vestige was the lunchtime bread. I figured they wouldn’t miss it much – I usually end up throwing out moldy bread anyway, right?

“You know, I’m trying to get us gluten-free as much as possible, hon,” I said. “Why not get some Ezekiel bread if you really want it?”

“Oh, that stuff tastes like twigs. I’m just going to pick up a loaf of whole wheat – that should be healthy, right?”

“No, unfortunately whole wheat is just as big as an offender as white these days. Same thing with oatmeal, you know,” I lectured.

“So what am I supposed to eat for breakfast?” my poor husband moaned.

“Well, I bought you some Greek yogurt and strawberries for a parfait.”

“You know I can’t stomach yogurt – I’m so lactose intolerant my stomach will be rumbling for days,” he complained.

“Yeah, well, I’m doing this intermittent fasting thing, where you don’t eat for 16 hours after your last meal each night. I basically skip breakfast, workout early in the afternoon, and then eat my meals and snacks. It’s supposed to be the new trend in calorie restriction and health, so I thought I would try it out for a while,” I said, as my husband looked at me like I was cra-zee.

It has become so difficult to shop for food these days, hasn’t it? So much is bad for us – meat, sugar, dairy, flour, potatoes even. Designing meals these days seems to require a Ph.D

Conventionally grown produce is out because there’s too many pesticides. I’ve got to shop at stores that only carry organic or antibiotic, hormone-free meats and chicken. Salmon – no farmed raised for us, only wild. Sometimes I think we should just buy a barrel of sunflower seeds and some broccoli and salad for the rest of our meals.

I receive barrages of emails daily from contacts and various activist groups about our food system. Different movements exist, from the gluten-free, the raw, and the paleo diet; telling me that their way is the best way to optimal health and wellness. I care about these things, so I try to incorporate many of their theories into my meal planning. But some say that if I don’t do it all the way, I’m not reaping the benefits. And some of these theories contradict each other as well.

Complicating things is the fact that I really love to cook – as a young teen, I took on the responsibility of cooking dinner for my family, experimenting with such things as crepes and Coq au vin. I love restaurants and consider myself a foodie.

But how can I be a foodie when there’s so much food I won’t eat anymore?

All I know is my grandparents both lived well into their nineties, healthy as horses, while eating an Italian diet that contained meat, dairy, eggs, cheese, and more. My grandpa, in fact, ate day old crusty Italian bread, olive oil, and provolone every morning at 4am for breakfast before setting out on his active day. He worked in heavy construction till he was 75 until they forced him to retire. He shovelled his own snow, walked daily, and mowed the lawn in his nineties. He never worried about eating gluten-free, that’s for sure. He died at the age 0f 98 from old age.

So what are we doing wrong these days?

I know that I like how I feel when I eliminate certain foods from my diet. From my energy levels to the extra pouchiness around my waist, there are just some foods that don’t sit well in my body.

But I’ve got to admit I sometimes long for the days when I ate what I wanted to and didn’t obsess about it. When I was young and newly living on my own and price was the main consideration, so I shopped at the local Piggly Wiggly. For the days as a child, when our food wasn’t so  . . . poisonous.

Did you know that there are only about twelve companies that control the major food supply in our country? You’ve heard of the top ones, like Monsanto, Cargill, and ADM. You’d be surprised at what companies they own, including organic producers that were once little guys.

That’s why I’m joining up with a new company that will be delivering fresh food from the farm to my table. One where I will know where my food comes from and whose cattle don’t eat GMO grass. I’ll tell you a little bit more about them on Wednesday.

Hopefully, my family will get the chance to enjoy food without the worry.

5 Ways to Work Out Consistently

Exercise is an essential part of any weight loss regimen. But the best workout routine in the world won’t work if you don’t do it consistently. Sure, you made it to the club four times this week, but it won’t matter much if you only work out once next week. Each of us, though, are busy with work, families, and fun. So how come some people manage to work out consistently? Consider these five strategies to help you work out consistently:

  1. Set a total goal for your workout minutes weekly and make sure to hit that goal 95% of the time. How many workout sessions do you want to ideally achieve each week? How long will your sessions last? It’s important to have a definite exercise goal to focus your efforts on. Now multiply the two together to obtain your Total Goal Workout Minutes per week. Focus on hitting those goal minutes no matter what comes up. For example, if you plan on doing five 30 minute sessions weekly but a late meeting prevents you from getting to the club, make sure to increase your session durations the rest of the week so you still add up to 150 minutes.
  2. Keep a written exercise log. It’s human nature to overestimate our efforts. By keeping track of the amount of time you spend working out each day, as well as the activities involved, you’ll find you are much more aware of your patterns. Tracking also ensures that you’ll hit your target minutes that you set above.
  3. Plan on exercising daily, banking your minutes as if it was an “exercise savings acount”. If you start your week planning on working out daily, conflicts will likely occur during the week. Since you’ve already starting banking your minutes toward your weekly goal, you can afford the day off and still hit your goals.
  4. Try two exercise sessions per day. If it’s increasingly difficult to break away for 45 minutes to exercise, you may want to break it up into two smaller sessions. It may be easier for you to work out for 20 minutes in the morning before work and an additional 20 minutes right after dinner. And you can always work out longer if you are rocking it!
  5. Have alternative plans scripted and ready to go. If your regular workouts consist of running outside, what is your go-to plan if the weather is too nasty? You may be a regular at your weekly kickboxing class, but what happens if you have to miss it because of a family conflict? Have alternative strategies planned out for when your first alternative doesn’t work. For example, If it rains tomorrow and I can’t run, I will do my P90X workout DVD. If I am travelling on a business trip, I will get up extra early to work out in the hotel gym before client meetings and dinner.

What strategies do you use to stay consistent in your exercise routine?

Getting Real with Your Food on National Food Day

Today is the first annual Food Day, which is dedicated to eating real food that is produced locally, sustainably, and affordably. And, of course, let us not forget healthy! You’ll see, if you are into that kind of stuff, lots of relevant postings on Facebook and Twitter about the celebration of real food, urging you to attend a Food Day event.

And in other news about “real food”, McDonalds made a major announcement: the McRib is coming back for a short time. Facebook groups have been forming, heralding the return of the sultry sandwich; geo-tagging all participating McRib locations.

Us healthy and real food activists sure have a hard time getting our voices heard above the din. Here we have our first real dedicated day towards our cause, and with one fell swoop, McD’s drowns out our noise with their announcement.

The McRib is about as unreal of a food as you can get. Generations of kids grow up thinking that barbecued ribs are perfectly pressed, boneless discs of meat, lacking in the very thing that makes them what they are: ribs! While real barbecued ribs are not what I’d call a healthy meal, if you are going to eat them, at least make them from scratch. Like I did for my two guys last night – but that’s another story.

I believe that much of the problem with our food system lies in the fact that everything is too convenient for us. Convenience that comes in a jar or box makes us disconnected from the food we are really eating. How can you determine if a food is healthy if you have absolutely no idea what is in it?

My journey this year is to really get in touch with the food I eat. While I eat healthy enough, it’s also way too easy to open up a jar of something I purchased at Trader Joe’s, perhaps an Indian chutney, or a salsa. My ancestors couldn’t do that – anything they ate, from sauces to jellies to main dishes, had to be made from scratch.

And I’m sure they ate a lot better because of that.

With that focus in mind, I decided to take on one of my family’s favorite condiments: giardiniera. Any good Italian worth their weight knows that a good giardiniera is the perfect topping for almost anything. We use it to grace the top of our roasted salmon,  we add it to a salad, it even spices up a bowl of chicken soup. (I’ve even added it to a scoop of chocolate ice cream at Jason’s Deli – it was an experiment!)

One day, at my local Caputo’s, I searched through the hundreds of different jars of giardiniera because I wanted to find one that used an olive oil bath for the mixture to swim in. To no avail, I might add – most contained soybean oil. Since I make it a practice to stay away from most soy products (80% of the soy crop in our country is genetically modified – Roundup Ready soy by Monsanto), I was dismayed and vowed to make my own.

One Sunday afternoon, I set out to make a large crock, using the recipe below. While it was pretty time-consuming, I learned several interesting things about this supposed condiment:

  • Giardiniera is really a vegetable dish posing as a condiment. There is such a variety of healthy vegetables – red and green peppers, cauliflower, carrots, onions, and more – that it could stand alone as a meal, based on its nutritional content.
  •  The reason I couldn’t find any bathed in olive oil? First, olive oil does not have a stable shelf life when other foods are introduced into it. It’s not cost effective for a company to mass produce olive oil-based giardiniera because it can’t last long on a shelf. Also, olive oil, when cooled in a refrigerator, congeals and hardens.

So I made a huge batch of it, marinated in vinegar. When we use it, we simply add in our own fresh olive oil in the amount we desire. Which also cuts down on the fat and calorie content, because the stuff from the bottle is simply drowning in oil.

I challenge you, on this first annual Food Day, to find a product that you take for granted; maybe a salsa, granola, or even soup. Make it from scratch one afternoon.

I guarantee that you’ll appreciate and understand what you are eating more.

Is it Nature or Nurture? Helping your children to be healthy eaters.

As a child growing up in the 1960’s, I don’t recall that our family ate particularly healthy meals. The health and wellness revolution wasn’t in vogue yet. But the feminist movement was; as women began shedding their aprons for business clothes, finding ways to make lives easier became imperative. American housewives rejoiced as the dawn of convenience and frozen foods helped unleash their shackles from the kitchen stove.

Which seems to sum up a lot of my meals as a child. I’m not saying they were bad, it’s just how it was. While we rarely ate fast food or takeout, most of our dinners consisted of a traditional meat, frozen vegetables, and potatoes. Fish only appeared on Lenten Fridays, and it was usually courtesy of Mrs. Paul (fish sticks, anyone?).

Side dishes were courtesy of the Green Giant. I don’t think I really had ever seen many vegetables in their fresh, natural form until I was on my own. Who knew that peas came in a pod?

My parents were both thin as well; probably a combination of good genes and the fact that they were both heavy smokers during that era. Since they both had sweet toothes, there was always something sugary in our house. Store-bough Danishes were for breakfast, Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies packed with lunches, and ice cream bars for dessert.

So you’d think I would have grown up to be a chubby adult with bad eating habits. Actually, for about 3 years in my early teens, this was true. Once I hit puberty at age 13, my waistline and thighs expanded as my self esteem shrunk. This prompted me to begin my exploration and somewhat obsession with all things fitness and health.

This long and sometimes pothole-ridden road has led me to who I am today – someone who values a healthy lifestyle more than almost anything, except love, of course. Honestly, I can’t go more than a day without working out – I feel crabby and out of sorts if I don’t. And I love to cook and eat healthy. I’ll choose the long way to cook something from scratch (now known as the trendy “slow food movement”). And I eschew cheap, mass produced foods.

So was it nature or nurture that got me to this point? How much actual influence do parents have over how their childrens’ eating habits turn out? Was I predisposed to eat healthier, despite my upbringing? Why is it that some people crave sweets, while some can resist a dessert even if it’s under their nose?

Raising my own kids, I struggled with that fine line between teaching them to be healthy eaters and turning them into obsessed individuals with a bad relationship with food. Should I let them eat candy? Do I limit it to Halloween or allow them to have treats regularly? Would the fact that I cooked healthy meals like chicken breasts and fresh veggies rather than comfort foods like macaroni and cheese scar them for life?

In the end, I chose moderation over obsession. I cooked the occasional meatloaf and mashed potatoes for the rest of the family, but made healthier roasted fish for myself. We treated them to special visits to the ice cream shop, but did not keep a lot of sweet treats in the house. And remembering the magical fun of Halloween, I did not make a big deal about candy.

There were many times during their teen years that I wondered if I had made the right decision. My fish dinnerss were resoundingly snubbed by all. They would occasionally grumble that we never had good food in the house, like potato chips and pop. Once they were driving, wrappers from MickeyD’s and Portillos were always found in the recycling bin. I thought I’d lost them to the dark side.

In the end, example and moderation worked best for our family. Rather than endlessly lecture them on healthy eating and banish all bad things from their lives, we tried to lead by moderation. We emphasized healthy meals, but let them have the occasional comfort food. My husband and I exercised regularly, did active, fun things with them, and got them into sports.

Now they are adults. And I think they are on their own healthy journeys. My son regularly cooks dinner for us, making healthy and delicious meals like fish tacos, salads, and seafood stews. During a trip to the local grocery store, I was impressed when he bought all organic veggies for the dinner he was making. My stepdaughter is into the organic thing as well, and works out regularly.

So I guess nurture plays a huge role in how we conduct our life. Maybe the influence of my father making fresh salads daily for our dinner when I was in high school was more important than I originally thought. And my grandma preparing everything from scratch – she was a pioneer in today’s local slow food movement.

So let your kids have an occasional treat. Live your life in a healthy way most of the time – you’ll be surprised at how they’ll pick up your habits later.

Welcome to FitLife funlife!

Welcome to my blog! You’ll find a wealth of useful tips, strategies, and information to help you live a fit and healthy life to its fullest. Healthy living, contrary to popular belief, is a lot of fun. And it feels great – imagine waking up every day, full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to conquer the world!

That’s what this site is about – enjoying the many bounties that life offers, using exercise and good, nutritious food to keep you healthy and dynamic. I’m a personal trainer and wellness coach with over twenty years of experience. While gyms are great for getting fit, I’m a proponent of using the world as your gym. So you’ll find information on outdoor activities and workouts to keep your exercise fresh. From exercise tips to actual workouts, we’ll make sure you are well equipped with the best in fitness advice, all based on scientific principles. No celebrity workouts here.

I also believe in the power of food to prevent illness. Food is energy and fuel, and we should treat our bodies like the amazing, well built machines that they are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy eating! You’ll find a plethora of healthy recipes that are easy to prepare. Most are low in calories, but I also believe in having treats occasionally – it’s all about planning those treats. Since knowledge is power, we’ll help you identify when a food is healthy or a diet disaster.

And from a social activism standpoint, I believe in local, sustainable foods. Our current food system is broken and unhealthy. Since I’m a journalist as well, I will present both sides of the story and let you make you own judgments. As with anything in life, there’s both a cost and a benefit. I want you to have the information so you can weigh the risks and benefits and decide on your own.

Whether you’re 25 or 55, you’ll find a wealth of great ideas and information on this blog, all presented in user friendly form. And I encourage you to interact in the community – provide feedback, ask questions, and let me know your own tips and strategies.

As in the attached video, this is living – and we are never too old to grab all that life has to offer us. Enjoy!

5 Healthy Things to do this week

Make your week a healthier one by incorporating these five things into your life. Change your life for the better a little bit at a time!

Soup is good food – Broth-based soups are low in calories and will satisfy you. Make a homemade soup, using little or no meat and lots of fresh, healthy veggies. Try our Spicy Pumpkin Gumbo below!

Take a bike ride and enjoy the beautiful palette of autumn leaves.

Add some activity in during your workday. Get up every hour or so and do some lunges and pushups. Great way to get extra strength training in!

Go for a walk at lunchtime. The fresh air will energize you and you’ll feel much more alive in the afternoon.

Have a handful of sunflower seeds or a banana and peanut butter around 2pm. That will help you through the 3 o’clock doldrums, when most people are tempted to have a candy bar or some other sugary or starch carbohydrate.

What healthy thing will you do this week?