Just look in your pantry! Raisins are the perfect on-the-go fuel with more than 30 grams of healthy carbs per 2 tbsp, making them ideal for snacking on - especially during a longer workout such as a run. When eaten alone, raisins will actually decrease mouth acidity, which helps to prevent bacteria that may eventually lead to tooth decay. Combine your raisins with a handful of unsalted nuts or a Greek yogurt when you're not exercising, and this duo is sure to keep your energy levels going through the day!
All forms of mushrooms provide an abundant source of potassium, which is crucial for our body's fluid balance. Ever heard of antioxidants? Mushrooms contain a powerful antioxidant called L-ergothioneine, which is rarely found in foods we eat regularly. Antioxidants are beneficial as they help fight off illness by preventing free-radical damage from exercise, environmental toxins, lack of sleep and more! Try using a portabella mushroom as the crust for a mini pizza. Try them in salads, sauteed with other veggies as a side dish or add to your soups for a spoonful of potassium kick!
HEMP SEED OIL
Most of us have heard or read about the importance of omega-3's in our diet. Hemp seed oil is a nutty-tasting oil that provides your daily needs of both Omega 3 & 6 in just one tablespoon. These essential fatty acids are imperative for maintaining a healthy heart, controlling inflammation and preventing depression. Many studies have also shown a link to a deficiency in Omega-3's and Alzheimer's. Use this tasty oil for dipping bread, as a dressing for your salads, or drizzle over your steamed veggies. The possibilities are endless!
Protein and Iron
This is by far one of my favorite meats that I strive to include at least once per week. Bison is high in protein and contains very little saturated fat. A 3.5 ounce portion contains more than 50% of our needs for vitamin B12 and over 30% for zinc and iron. These nutrients are extremely important for proper muscle function and recovery after workouts. The key with this meat is to make sure not to overcook it. Enjoy as a steak, grind into burger meat or cut into chunks for a stir-fry or soups.
These are among my favorite fruits. Choose from strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or any of the many exotic berries such as acai and goji. Once again, we bring up antioxidants. Berries, in particular, contain a specific antioxidant called anthocyanidins. These compounds prevent the kind of damage to our cells that leads to premature aging. You may also find that consuming berries in a shake or on their own after a workout will prevent muscle soreness. Use berries as a sweet treat rather than turning to the candy!
Pouches of oatmeal (like those made by Kashi Go Lean) can provide you with a quick and healthy choice if you're in a rush for breakfast or after your workouts. Simply microwave the packet with either water or low or non-fat milk and you're good to go. You'll get some fiber and much needed B-vitamins to fuel your day.
Nutrition at a Bargain!
I have to say, one of the best buys in the grocery store happens to be down the isles. If you know anything about me, I'm always encouraging doing MOST of your grocery shopping along the perimeter of the grocery store. Well, here's one exception. Just a one-cup serving of most canned beans provides us with over 25% of our Daily Value for protein, almost 60% for fiber, and 20%
for iron. I recommend including beans 4-5 times per week as a healthy, cheap, and energy-boosting option. Remember to rinse your beans well to wash off some of the sodiuim. Beans can be a great topping on a salad, as a side mixed with other veggies, a great addition to a burrito, or add to soups for a hearty meal this winter!
WATER - The Most Neglected Nutrie
Staying hydrated is extremely important for our energy levels. Did you know our bodies are made up of 75% water? We should be drinking 1/2 our weight in water to keep our energy levels up, our mouths from becoming dry, our bellies full and our skin plump and radiant.
Here are more antioxidants for you. White tea has been shown to prevent proteins from breaking down in your skin, keeping it healthy, plump, and wrinkle-free!
You can find this calcium, vitamin D, and protein-rich drink in the yogurt isle. Just one cup provides 30% of your daily value of each. I enjoy kefir in smoothies, with cereal, or even on it's own. Give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Alissa Robertson, MS, RD