Foods That Give You Energy

When you’re facing the afternoon doldrums and all you really want is a nap, you’re likely looking for a quick fix of fats and sweets to wake you up. But stay your hand and turn away from the vending machine, young Skywalker. The force is with you…that is, the force of healthy food choices. You know that gobbling down a candy bar is going to get you hyped up for about an hour (in which you may get a lot of work done, albeit in a scatterbrained manner) and then you’ll suffer the inevitable crash that takes you even lower than before (necessitating more sugar…it’s a vicious cycle, folks). But there is a better way. By knowing which healthy and natural food sources can give you not only a boost of energy, but also sustained energy and a satisfied feeling that lasts longer, you can say sayonara to sugar and embrace a more balanced form of eating. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Caffeine. Okay, you might be shaking your head, thinking that this energy-booster belongs on the “bad” list. And you’d be right if your idea of consuming caffeine includes a 1,200-calorie Venti Mocha-frappa-whatsit full of sugar and fat. This is the wrong type of caffeine! Sorry to say, taking it black isn’t much better (although you’ll skip all the calories). The problem is coffee. It has too much caffeine and much like sugar, it hits your body and burns fast, fading all too soon. If you can’t give up the caffeinated beverages, turn to tea instead. Green or black, it really doesn’t matter – you’re going to get a slighter pick-me-up that lasts longer and doesn’t leave you with a caffeine hangover. Just make sure you add plenty of water to your diet throughout the day since caffeine can leave you dehydrated.
  2. Protein. Generally speaking, protein is not considered an “energy” food. Its role in your body is to help sustain and repair muscles. However, it is part of a balanced diet that helps you to stave off fatigue and face the day with stamina. There are two types of protein, complete (which comes from meat and animal products) and incomplete (from nuts, grains, legumes, and leafy greens). You can go for either, but incompletes will have to be mixed to get all the protein you need.
  3. Veggies. Did you know that a lack of nutrients can leave you feeling awful? You need all kinds of vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning properly and that’s where vegetables come in. A variety of colorful options is best, since they’ll give you different nutrients. But dark green veggies in particular will give you a power-packed punch of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that will make you feel fantastic.
  4. Fruits. If you simply can’t give up sugar, at least skip the processed kind. Go for fruits or smoothies instead for a gentle wave of extra energy that will fade gradually instead of burning you out.
  5. Carbs. The absolute best energy additive for your day is complex carbohydrates like those found in whole grains. These will stick with you the longest since they are slowly digested, and they deliver huge amounts of energy to every part of your body. The best part is, you digest these items slowly so that you feel full longer and you enjoy steady, sustained energy. Plus, when you consume enough carbs for fuel, the other foods you eat can better do their jobs instead of being used for raw energy.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for Fatty Weight Loss where you can find articles on health and nutrition in addition to information on lipotropic fat burners and information on wu long tea.

High in energy for growing, active kids, these homemade “fruit roll-ups” can be made ahead of time for snacking on-the-go!

Organic Nut Butter Roll

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Almond Nut Butter

1, 6″ Multigrain or Gluten Free Tortilla

1/3 Cup Granola

1/2 Green Apple diced or Medium Banana sliced (or both)

Preparation

Spread nut butter on tortilla, sprinkle granola a fresh fruit and roll-up.

Cut in to 2 pieces. Can be placed in reusable sandwich bag for travel. Choose organic ingredients.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Lisa C. Cohn, MMSC, RD of Park Ave Nutrition.*

To keep the kids entertained on long road trips this summer, offer up some good ole’ fashioned fun with 6 Pence Productions! This is audio children’s theater at its’ best, created by kids, for kids! Rather than tuning out to DVD’s or games in the car, 6 Pence Productions engages the whole family with lively, imaginative stories and tales. Everyone can follow along – even the youngest members of the family! “Mom’s” daughter just loves to hear the kids’ voices as the tales are told, as all of the stories are voiced by children ages 5 – 17.

The Fairytale Collection

This cute collection includes 5 classic and enchanted re-imagined children’s fairytales – Three Billy Goats Gruff, Cinderella and Friends, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Three Little Pigs Meet the Big Bad Wolves and the Princess and the Pea.

Princess Reform School

The Princess Reform School is a delightful and heartwarming tale set in a fantastical place where Princesses go when they’re not making the best “impressions” at home and where they’ll learn what it means to be a true Princess – all set against a fairytale backdrop complete with dragons, toads and castles.

For anyone who adores having a story read to them, both Princess Reform School and the Fairytale Collection are sure to delight! Not just for road trips, but for entertainment anytime, The Fairytale Collection and Princess Reform School can be found on CD at retail stores, for download at Audible.com, Amazon.com, iTunes and from the 6 Pence Players website: www.6PencePlayers.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

How to Make a Homemade Chair Cushion or Bean Bag Chair

More and more people are taking steps towards becoming more self sufficient and resourceful but even the most handy individual may balk at the idea of entering the realm of furniture creation. There is no need to be shy and an excellent project for getting started is something small. A simple beanbag or chair cushion is a great beginner project.

How to Get Started

The most difficult part of the project is finding the plans, patterns or design to follow. A beginner must have some sort of guiding influence to see successful results with this type of project. There are a wide variety of pre-made patterns available for bean bags or chair cushions.

An alternative to patterns is using existing cushions or bean bags as a guide. There are a variety of places to get used furniture for this purpose. Using an old chair or bean bag instead of a pattern can actually be easier for a first time project. More on the method later.

Choosing the Materials

A good choice of fabric is absolutely essential for the life of the piece; furniture takes a beating even with the gentlest owner. It may be overwhelming when browsing the fabric store but when all else fails rely on touch; look for a heavy duty fabric that is tough, strong and durable. Quilting and clothing fabric aren’t durable enough for this job. The thread for the project should be the heaviest gauge available.

The Tools for the Job

A sewing machine is essential for this task even if one is an excellent hand sewer; there is no straighter or tighter seam than the one made by a machine. If an individual doesn’t have their own machine one could be borrowed from a friend; it’s surprising how many people either own a sewing machine or know someone who does. The hand sewing for this project will be kept to an absolute minimum.

Using Another Piece as a Springboard

The method for both a bean bag and a chair is the same so these instructions are good for both. This technique could be applied to a bigger project such as a couch as well; the sky’s the limit.

  1. Evaluate the condition of the foam in an existing piece; sometimes it’s possible to get lucky and find a piece with good foam that simply has a stained cover. If the foam is in poor condition measure it off and purchase new foam, cutting it to the same dimensions. For projects like bean bag chairs take a look at the beans and if they’re in poor shape just buy new beans; they are available at the craft store.
  2. Once the filling is secured, take the fabric cover and turn it inside out. Using a seam ripper, cut and remove the seams holding it all together. Make sure to keep track of what piece goes where; it is best to tackle this project in one sitting if possible.
  3. Now that the fabric is in pieces, use each piece as a guide. Lay the pieces down on the new fabric and using a pencil or fabric chalk get to tracing. Leave an inch extra around each piece but make sure to waste as little fabric as possible. Imagine cutting cookies out of rolled out dough; that’s the idea here.
  4. Baste the pieces together and do a test fitting. If the cover looks good when either filled with beans or foam then put strong, permanent stitches in the piece, leaving a slit in the fabric large enough to insert the filling. This slit should be blindstitched afterward.

Enjoying Your New Piece

There is nothing quite like creating something like this yourself; the sense of pride can’t be beat. Inevitably, there will be extra fabric left over; these make great pillows to go with the furniture and really pull the entire room together.

This delicious smoothie courtesy of Chef Kate McAloon will have you dreaming of the tropics in no time! It’s a healthy treat you’ll enjoy anytime of the day and makes a great dessert served with a few of your favorite cookies. For a quick meal on-the-go, Chef Kate recommends adding your favorite greens powder. Always use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients

1 Pint vanilla frozen yogurt (or plain, just add more sweetener if needed)

1 Cup un-sweetened coconut milk (you can use canned or So Delicious coconut milk)

½ to 1 Cup milk or non-dairy milk alternative (almond milk is great in this shake)

½ Cup frozen bananas (cut in ¼ inch rounds)

¼ Cup fresh or frozen mango (cut in 1 inch pieces)

¼ Cup fresh or frozen pineapple (cut in 1 inch pieces)

1 Tablespoon agave sweetener (optional if needed)

Toasted shredded coconut (optional for garnish)

Pineapple slices (optional for garnish)

Mint leaves (for garnish)

Preparation

Place all the ingredients, except for the garnishes, in the blender. Pulse the blender on high, stopping a couple of times to stir and push down the sides. If the shake is too thick add more milk and continue blending until it reaches a creamy consistency and all the fruit is blended well. You can also use a little water instead of the milk if you like. If the shake becomes too thin just add a bit more frozen fruit or frozen yogurt. Experiment with your favorite frozen yogurt flavors and fruits to make your own special creation! Your kids will love helping in the kitchen too when you make these yummy treats.

Until next time “Savor Every Morsel of Life” xxx Chef Kate

Visit www.chefkatealiveandcooking.com.

Image By: Peter Turner

* www.sodeliciousdairyfree.com Has a great coconut milk for drinking and other coconut products.

Why Every Parent Should Encourage Their Child to Surf

Some people see surfing as just another sport, a leisure activity that is one among hundreds you can choose to take up. For others, however, it means so much more. To them surfing isn’t just something undertaken to pass the time on sunny days but a way of life that helps define their well-being and very outlook on life.

For my friend, it is the cornerstone of the strong relationship that he now enjoys with his daughter 10 years after taking her out on the water for the first time. Even today he can still remember the look of excitement and accomplishment on her face when she caught her first wave.

“It’s something that stays with you always” he told me “and knowing that you were the one who helped put that look on her face was a great feeling. Surfing isn’t just about riding a board on water, it’s about being part of a community that every parent should encourage their child to embrace.”

The Benefits are Many

While surfing is fun it also offers so many practical benefits that your son or daughter won’t even think about once they’re in the water.

What a lot of people don’t recognize is that the sport is one of the best forms of exercise there is today. Consider for a moment the amount of paddling involved trying to battle the power of the ocean or the balance and dexterity required to master the art of riding and you quickly get a feel for just what a work out is involved.

By getting your child into the sport at an early you can pretty much guarantee a healthy lifestyle for years to come which is a blessing in itself if you consider modern rates of obesity in the West.

For one of the great things about surfing is that you can be doing it for what seems like 10 minutes, only to find out it’s been 2 hours. I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes be running for what seems like an hour only to realize it’s been 2 minutes (is there anything more depressing?). For me, this is why surfing will always remain a winner.

Mental Health and Serenity

As well as the physical challenges involved the sport also provides a welcome mental health benefit. Whilst the initial learning process, like most things, can be frustrating the pay offs are literally never ending.

To be in the water with friends, away from the stresses of modern life is to give your child a unique taste of tranquillity in our ever faster paced lives.

And Finally…

Most parents would tell you that they’re lucky to see their teenage child for 5 minutes at a time due to the heavy social lives that generally exclude embarrassing mums and dads.

Surfing, however, provides a compelling reason to spend more time together while offering the chance to build an even stronger relationship. This is something I have seen first-hand on many occasions. The opportunity to be silly together, to laugh together, to discuss and to experience together are the kind that will last a lifetime.

After many years spent surfing with his daughter, my friend is in no doubt that it remains one of the best decisions he’s ever made, and when I see them together, in and out of the water, I know without a doubt that he is right.

About The Author

Josh writes about beach life, surfing, travel and more. His passion for surfing takes him to amazing places around the World and comes through in his regular articles as he explores all aspects of the sport. He sells Havaianas Flip-flops and Animal Flip-flops to help fund his travels.

Pack this savory homemade granola in your pack as you hit the trail this summer!

Granola With Sunflower Seeds

Ingredients

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup honey or molasses

1/2 cup flaxseed

6 cups rolled oats

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

3/4 cup hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds

3/4 cup wheat germ

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large saucepan over low heat, combine the oil and honey and stir until warm. Turn off the heat. One by one, stirring to coat each thoroughly, add the flaxseed, oats, pecans, and sunflower seeds. Spread the mixture onto an ungreased, rimmed cookie sheet (two, if necessary) and bake for 15 minutes. Mix in the wheat germ and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and let the granola cool on the cookie sheets. Store in an airtight canister in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Makes 9 cups.

*Recipe and image courtesy of The Old Farmers Almanac Garden-Fresh Cookbook.*

Take advantage of new coupons from Newman’s Own Organics for the month of April 2011! This month, coupons are available for their Newman’ s O’s, Chocolate Bars, Pretzels, Licorice Twists, and Dry Cat Food. Click here to print out your coupons today! (Limit 2 prints per household)

*Image provided by Newman’s Own Organics. This is not a paid advertorial. Please see disclosure.*

Educational Board Games

Throughout the history of civilization, games and toys have been used for children’s education and development. They have also been important for adult social interaction and entertainment. Board games in particular have been played in most cultures; several examples have been found pictured in ancient Egyptian tomb frescoes, in early Aztec ruins, and in ancient China historical records. Board games use counters or pieces that are instrumental for movement across a board that has markings or designs on the surface, and each game usually has a starting point and ending point. Board games usually involve some level of skill, strategy, and critical thinking, and they often teach and reinforce basic learning concepts of language, mathematics, science, geography, history, and more.

In addition to rudimentary subject learning, educational board games enhance social and emotional development, help develop hand-eye coordination, and assist understanding of spatial relationships. They also encourage understanding of complex construction elements, cause-and-effect relationships, and basic world and life concepts. Most board games require focus, patience, sharing, social interaction, understanding limits, and taking turns. The most elemental board games teach early learning skills of number, shape, letter, and color recognition, as well as counting, grouping, and reading fundamentals. Educational board games have survived for centuries by virtue of their essence– learning by way of fun!

Many of these also have junior versions for younger learners.

Language Arts

For language arts development, several different board games are available that teach word and letter recognition, phonetics, rhyming, anagrams, synonyms, spelling and vocabulary building, and reading comprehension:

1. Scrabble

2. Boggle

3. Scattergories

4. Password

5. Anagramania

Mathematics

Many board games offer learning in number recognition, counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, pre-algebra, geometry, and monetary value and denominations:

1. Yahtzee

2. Monopoly

3. Money Bags: A Coin Value Game

4. The Allowance Game

5. Head Full of Numbers

Geography

Several educational board games teach geography, directional, and distance skills by incorporating maps of states, nations, and continents. Many of these also teach cultural differences and social studies:

1. Great States

2. Risk

3. GeoSafari

4. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

5. Brain Quest: Know the States (also Brain Quest: Around the World)

Science

Many board games are available that involve science learning, including biology, anatomy, earth science, meteorology, environmental science, ecology, astronomy, physics, and chemistry:

1. Operation

2. Totally Gross

3. Science Lab: Earth Science (also Science Lab: Life Science)

4. Anatomy Academy

5. Professor Noggins Wonders of Science

Board games make excellent teaching tools for all ages!

*Image provided by Educational Insights.*

This soup is quick and easy to make and full of fresh, healthy ingredients. In this recipe, Chef Kate McAloon has used canned beans, but if you have the time to make fresh ones they are great, too! Chef Kate often makes a double batch and freezes some to have on hand when friends drop by. Serve it with a mixed green salad, some fresh salsa, guacamole, and a little sour cream or yogurt for a delicious, nutritious meal. Always use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Black Bean Soup with Toasted Cumin Seeds

Ingredients

2 Cups refried black beans

2 Cups cooked black beans (drained and rinsed)

¼ Cup carrot (finely chopped)

¼ Cup onion (finely chopped)

½ Cup red and yellow bell pepper (finely chopped)

1 to 2 Leaves chard stems included (ends trimmed and finely chopped)

2 to 3 Cloves garlic (minced)

¼ Cup cilantro (coarsely chopped) (reserve a little for garnish)

¼ Cup parsley (coarsely chopped)

1 ½ Teaspoon *toasted cumin seeds

1 Teaspoon cumin powder

¼ Smoked ground chipotle pepper or mild chili powder (to taste)

Toasted pumpkin seeds (for garnish)

2 ½ to 3 Cups water or stock (you may need a little more during cooking)

Preparation

Sauté veggies, herbs, and spices over medium heat then add the water or stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Then add the refried beans and whole beans. Stir well to combine and reduce heat to medium low. Continue to simmer stirring occasionally for about 10 to 15 minutes. The soup is ready to serve, or you can chill and refrigerate up to 4 days; just reheat on medium heat. When ready to serve, garnish with fresh salsa, sour cream or yogurt, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro leaves.

*To Toast Cumin Seeds

Heat a sauté or frying pan on medium high heat. Add cumin seeds and cook while stirring for about 2 to 3 minutes until you can smell a toasted aroma. Be careful not to burn them! Remove from heat and cool. You can toast extra and they will keep in a covered container for a couple of weeks.

Until next time “Savor Every Morsel of Life” xxx Chef Kate

Visit www.chefkatealiveandcooking.com.

Image By: Peter Turner