I can't live without my iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro. What makes it worse are the crazy amount of apps that are available. Here are my top 5 free health apps (in no particular order) which I find quite useful and informative.
~ Shop Well ~
Shop Well is an app that takes your nutritional preferences (no sugar, low salt, no preservatives, etc...) and gives you food choices and brands to buy to live a healthy lifestyle. All you do is scan an item with your device, let's say Wheat Thins, and Shop Well gives that specific item a grade based on what you set your nutritional preferences to be. It also gives you the ingredient list, nutritional label and reasons why you should or shouldn't consume a certain product. Shop Well has a team of registered dietitians working to give accurate information to people who use this app. I highly recommend giving it a try!
~ Chem Cuisine ~
Ever wonder what Xanthan Gum is or why High Fructose Corn Syrup is not healthy for you? Well, Chem Cuisine, short for Chemical Cuisine, is a database of hundreds of food additives and chemicals that are found in processed foods throughout the grocery store. You can look up any ingredient found on your nutrition label and Chem Cuisine gives you the types of products it's found in, whether or not you should stay away from it or consume it moderately, and it backs up the information with research and tons of information. Chem Cuisine is run by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) which has a team of dietitians, nutritionists and researchers who study the chemicals in our food supply. This app has a lot of great information and can be useful to know what it is that is going into our bodies.
~ Map My Walk/Run ~
There are two kinds; map my walk and map my run. Both work the same way and I really don't see a difference between the two. Turn this app on and go for a stroll or sprint miles around your neighborhood. This app uses the GPS in your device to track how many miles you run/walk, how long it takes, how many calories you burn, the incline at which you were running/walking and so many other features. Even if you aren't an avid runner or find much time to go for a long walk. Map My Walk/Run can be left on while you're walking around the mall, grocery store or hiking up a mountain. It's basically like a highly sophisticated pedometer, except it's an app! I don't ever workout without using it. Their online site uploads your run or walk from your phone and you can track your food throughout the day as well. If you don't like this app, Nike also makes a running/walking app as well (http://nikeplus.nike.com/plus/products/gps_app/)
~ MyFitnessPal ~
This is an awesome tool for anyone trying to count calories and log their food throughout the day. MyFitnessPal is a free calorie counter, diet and exercise app. Similar to Map My Walk, it allows you to track your diet and monitor your portion sizes. It even tells you how many calories you should be consuming based on your height, weight and age. This app also offers a slew of other apps which can track your walks, test your pulse and much more. Check out the other apps here http://www.myfitnesspal.com/apps.
~ AnyList ~
Last, but not least, there is AnyList. AnyList is basically just that. You can create a shopping list and check off what you already have in your cart as you shop. The cool thing about this app is that you can share your list across other devices. So if you have a family and need to add things to the weekly shopping list, you can just by using the app. Once one person adds something to the list, it is automatically synced to the rest of the family and it really helps to keep everything in order when you go grocery shopping. Not only that, but you can store your favorite recipes and just add your ingredients from the recipe to the list for a quick and easy-to-use app. I never shop at a grocery store without a list!
I hope you find these as enjoyable and useful as I have. If you have any cool interesting health apps to share, let me know! I love to try new things and open my mind to different views and information. Enjoy!
It takes some thought and work to make healthy choices and it can be expensive/time consuming to prepare your own meals with natural ingredients and whole foods. So how on earth do we make this work? One quick, cost effective and healthy solution is to utilize your freezer and buy frozen vegetables and fruits.
Let's look at the cost benefits of frozen. Take corn, for example. ShopRite sells frozen bags of corn kernels at $1.99 for a 24oz bag. They also sell fresh ears of corn in the produce section at $4.99 for a 4-pack. 1 medium ear of corn yields roughly 6oz of corn kernels, which equates to 4 ears of corn needed to match the 24oz bag of frozen. So, you can either buy:
- 24oz bag of frozen corn at $1.99 OR
- 4 ears (24oz) at $4.99
You save a whopping 3 bucks if you buy the frozen bag. In fact, you can get 48oz of frozen corn for the price of the fresh.
This is true for the corn, and yes ShopRite and other supermarkets have sales that will vary the cost. However, fresh produce goes to waste faster because... well... it's fresh produce. Most people don't use all of what they purchase when it is fresh just for that reason, not to mention, not everybody eats corn everyday.
Cooking with Frozen:
I'm not the professional on, "which is better for you frozen or fresh?" when it comes to produce. From what I've experienced, it makes no difference nutritionally whether you eat frozen or fresh vegetables. I find it so much easier to work with frozen produce as I can take as little or as much as I want with no waste. Not to mention you save money doing it.
There are many ways to work with frozen produce. One way is to put some of your favorite veggies into a microwave safe bowl and add about 1 cup of water. Microwave for a few minutes and drain the water. Now you have thawed, cooked veggies as a side dish without wasting a steam-able bag (which costs a lot of money) or wasting time preparing and washing fresh produce.
Another way I like to cook frozen vegetables is to start with your frying pan! Heat your pan on med-high with a serving of olive or safflower oil. Take a bag of frozen onions, mixed vegetables or whatever you plan on adding to your meal and measure out about a handful of each frozen bag. Throw it in the hot pan and let it thaw/cook. Add some brown rice and your favorite lean protein with a little bit of low sodium tomato sauce. Stir it all together and serve! You don't have to waste any time cooking healthy when you're on a time crunch. It's fun to do and helps me to maintain my weight while being busy.
Along with frozen veggies, supermarkets sell frozen fruit as well. I'm not a huge fan of frozen fruit as it's kind of hard to thaw it out unless you have some time to follow the instructions on the bag. Something cool and sweet I enjoy in the summer are frozen mango chucks. I eat them frozen right out of the bag. It is almost like eating an ice pop and has the same texture and consistency when you bite into it. Frozen fruit is also a great smoothie maker. Just take a cup of your favorite fruit blend and throw them into a blender. Add a scoop or two of low/non-fat Greek yogurt, a banana and some spinach and blend it all together. You have a sweet, rich and creamy option that is jam packed with nutrients and tastes divine! Not to mention you save time and money with frozen fruit.
I do enjoy having fresh veggies/fruit when I can afford it and feel like having them. If you're looking for a way to have a quick meal that is cost effective AND healthy, then frozen is definitely the way to go! I have posted some information about fresh vs. frozen below for your perusal:
1. Fresh vs. Frozen
2. Frozen Vegetables are Hot!
During my week, I tend to eat a healthy diet consisting of tons of veggies, fruits, nuts, lean protein and complex carbs. There is, however, that one day during the week that I allow myself to have something a little extra that is outside of my realm of health foods; pizza, cake, chocolate, ice cream, sweets etc... I usually make this day Friday since it's the day I weigh myself.
This is how it goes down:
I usually go out to a diner with some friends and indulge on the one thing, or several things, I have been craving all week. At times, though, I don't feel like getting anything at all, but since it is Friday (my "little something extra"), I tend to order off the menu anyway. I place my order, get my treat and indulge. Depending on what it is (generally nothing remotely close to the bottom of the food pyramid) I don't feel thick or heavy after eating it, but sometimes I do. On Saturday, I usually wake up with stomach pains, bloating, cramps along with other gastrointestinal sounds and what not. These "symptoms" last a day or two and then go away.
As crazy as it may seem, my body was and has been talking to me all along. For me, I find it hard to listen to my body when I am out with a group of friends, family or anything social. Let's face it, eating is fun, enjoyable and just so damn tasty, but the reaction to my body after the Friday night "forgy" (food + orgy) shouldn't go unnoticed. I've been failing to listen to the signals my body has been sending me. It is very important for each of us to listen to our own bodies and what is true for us, not just with food, but in every aspect of our lives.
I've talked in past blogs about becoming mindful and self aware of ones self and feel I have strayed from that a little bit. It's okay though, we are all works in progress and no one is perfect or has all the answers. The answers come from within. I've slowly been learning this mindset and have found several sources in which I find helpful such as www.tinybudda.com. This site has a lot of good, useful, suggestive information that has helped me through some things over the past few months. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, even if you aren't Buddhist, it doesn't matter.
So I have made a promise to keep listening, being mindful and aware of what my body/heart is saying to me. Whether it be with food, relationships, family, career choices and friendships... all the answers we seek can only come from listening to ourselves on the inside. Until next time!