Nutrient-Dense Smoothies

Meal prep can be a useful aide in the weight loss goal or nutritional goals one may set for life. This can be done many ways, but with summer right around the corner we have our mind set on one thing: smoothies! No matter your reason, packing a smoothie with your favorite fruits and vegetables is a great way to get those nutrients your body needs but may not be getting from your day-to-day diet.

The average amount of fruits and vegetables an adult needs is between 5-9 servings, which can be difficult to achieve for some people. Whether you’re on the go, busy with your growing family, or just tired from your routine, it can be hard to eat enough of the good foods your body craves for energy. Instead we reach for quick snacks like chips, pretzels, snack bars, cookies, or drinks that give us energy. The problem here is that these are considered “empty” calories. They also make you feel full but have little nutritional value. Yes, they are fast and easy, but are there any health risks?

Instead of processed foods, having a fresh produce intake can up your energy naturally, make you feel less sluggish, and encourage healthy cell regeneration throughout your body. Why reach for the chips when your “ready-to-go” smoothie can be just as easily accessible?

Sometimes, meal prep seems like it takes quite a bit of time and effort, but if you set aside just a few hours for one day, you’ll have your whole week prepped and you don’t have to think about it after that!

These smoothies took us 2 hours to wash, cut, peel, blend, and pour into their containers. This recipe made 8, 8-ounce containers. If you were to drink 2 a day, you have your full week’s worth of servings.

Lastly, this method is tried and true for hiding veggies that you may not like. If you have family members who are picky eaters, or you just can’t stand certain tastes or textures, smoothies are a sure way to get your greens in your diet.


Green Smoothie


2 cups frozen baby spinach

2 cups frozen kale

2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped

2 cups frozen broccoli crowns

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped

4 kiwis, peeled and sliced

16oz Kale Blazer, Naked Brand juice**

16oz Green Goodness, Bolthouse Farms brand juice**

**No endorsements were given for any brand names used. These were personal preference for taste. Feel free to use any organic fruit juice of your choice.**

Mapping A Path To Better Oral Health

Dentists aren’t the only people who influence how we take care of our teeth; our friends and family play a big role, too. That is the conclusion of Brenda Heaton, an assistant professor of health policy and health services research at Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, who presented her research recently at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Boston.

Heaton specializes in social epidemiology with a focus on oral health. In 2008, she, along with other members of BU’s Center for Research to Evaluate & Eliminate Dental Disparities, began a new line of research, focused on understanding oral health and disease among residents in Boston public housing. The majority of the work to date has focused on whether or not “motivational interviewing” can influence how women care for their children’s diet and oral health – specifically, the impact on kids with dental caries – also known as tooth decay.

There is mounting evidence that one-on-one behavioral interventions, like motivational interviewing, may change short-term behavior, but the effects don’t last long. “We started to get a sense that there may be more influences that we need to acknowledge beyond just the individual,” says Heaton. She found that social networks – not Facebook and Twitter, but networks of friends, family, and acquaintances – may play an overlooked role in oral health care.

Some women Heaton interviewed “had been born and raised in the unit that they were living in, and were now raising their own child in that unit,” she says, “so we had grandmother, mother, and child in one unit.” Those close connections influenced how people behaved, and to make significant progress against diseases like tooth decay, Heaton had to tap into those networks herself.

That is not easy, but it is important, says Thomas Valente, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California and an expert in social networks in health care. People believe information more when it comes from someone they know or respect, and evidence suggests that people are more willing to trust people who are like them. All too often, says Valente, who was not involved in this study, health information is handed to a community by people on the outside, and it is less impactful. “It’s like West Side Story,” says Valente. “It’s like being a Shark and having a Jet come up to you and tell you to do something. It is just not going to happen.”

Oral Health Resources

Heaton wants to spread resources about good oral health, not only to combat tooth decay but also because oral health is intertwined with other health concerns. “Sugar-sweetened beverage [consumption is] something that we are very interested in, not only because it is a huge risk factor for oral health outcomes, but it is also a huge risk factor for obesity and other obesity-related health conditions,” she says.

To understand the connections that already existed within the community, Heaton needed to draw a social map. Since 2008, her team has interviewed close to 200 women living in Boston public housing and identified nearly 1,000 individuals who were influential. Heaton is using those network maps to find similarities about how information flows through these communities. The ultimate goal, she says, is to use the map to introduce health information and resources into a community in ways that change long-term behaviors.

“You can’t design those interventions until you actually have a really strong grasp of the network structure,” says Heaton. For instance, if you want to make an impact, should you look for community members with the most personal connections or for people with large influence but fewer personal ties? Should you take advantage of existing connections or seed new ones?

The power of this approach is that it focuses on prevention rather than cures, says Heaton. It might take a village, but tooth decay “is an entirely preventable health outcome.”

Ways To Use Nutmeg Oil

Regularly known as a spice that is often used in seasonal cooking, or even to flavor hot beverages, nutmeg has other uses that many aren’t aware of – especially in its oil form. The nutmeg tree itself can get very tall, sometimes reaching up to 70 feet in the air. The seed is where the flavor and benefits from the nutmeg tree fruit are derived from. Though used in powder form with regularity, nutmeg oil is becoming increasingly popular because of its many health benefits. Here are some of the uses of nutmeg oil.

Bad Breath

Many people who suffer from bad breath, or halitosis, do so because of poor oral hygiene, health issues or a bacteria that has taken root in the back of their mouth or throat. Due to the antibacterial properties of nutmeg, just a couple of drops in some warm water is a good way to amplify your oral care routine. Gargle with this mixture twice a day to keep bad breath at bay.


With the holidays fast approaching, you are probably excited about all the food that you’ll be eating. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overdo it around the holiday season because there’s so much to choose from. You want to taste everything and food becomes so good that you can get a little careless with what you eat and how much of it you consume. This leads to digestive issues. Discomfort, pain, bloating and diarrhea are some of the most common symptoms. A bit of nutmeg oil can help. Add a few drops to a carrier oil and rub it into your stomach. You can also add some drops to your bathwater after a long day of too much eating.

Skin Care

Due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, skin thrives off of this type of oil. It can even be used to help reduce and eliminate the signs of aging. Are you suffering from premature wrinkles, sagging, or dull skin? Well try adding this oil into your regimen and watch how your skin is transformed. Many natural skincare products incorporate nutmeg into their products. You can simply add a couple of drops of the oil to your cleanser in order to get amazing results.

Sleep Aid

Getting enough sleep is so vital to the way that we function and handle ourselves throughout our day. When you have trouble sleeping, it can completely throw off your ability to perform at the level you need to. Insomnia and trouble staying asleep can feel downright hopeless. Prescription sleep aids are costly and can also be dangerous.

Just a few drops of nutmeg oil can help to relax the body and promote restful, deep sleep. A couple of drops mixed with coconut oil, rubbed on your chest and shoulders, will help soothe you and quiet your nerves. Nutmeg oil improves your quality of sleep and can be used nightly. Try this method about 30 to 45 minutes before you intend on going to sleep. Make sure to take deep breaths once the oil has been applied.

You can purchase nutmeg oil online from several companies at

Wonderful Rosewood Oil

An oil that has the word “rose” in it, undoubtedly has positive and lovely benefits attached. Do not be confused though, rosewood is completely different than rose, the flower. The former comes from an evergreen tree that can be found traditionally in Brazil and Peru. These trees can reach up to 40 meters tall and are known for their pinkish, red bark and pale flowers. Once it is transformed into an oil by way of distillation, it can be used for many different purposes. Here are some of the amazing health benefits associated with rosewood essential oil.

Mood Lifter

If you are someone who’s mood can easily be shifted or changed depending on minor things, this is a good oil to have on hand. Whether you have situational depression or something a bit stronger, this oil can help to liven your mood and make your troubles seem a bit more manageable. If you are going through something tough in your life, whether it’s something professionally, personally, or physically, this oil can help to transform your mood. Soak a cotton ball with the oil or add a few drops to your oil burner.

Treat Wounds

When you suffer from a cut, scrape or burn, it’s important to take the necessary precautions quickly in order for the injury to heal. It’s also vital to do this so that it doesn’t become infected or become susceptible to bacteria. Just a couple of drops applied to the area will help to clean the wound and protect it from the harsh elements that can be dangerous if it goes untended. The presence of rosewood oil will also help the wound to heal at a faster rate.


If you’ve been trying to figure out a way to toss traditional deodorant in favor of a more natural option, you should definitely invest in this oil. Because of the antibacterial properties it kills the stuff that causes odor in the first place. It also leaves behind a pleasant and enriching scent. Try mixing some rosewood oil with some coconut oil and apply it liberally as you would a regular deodorant. You’ll be surprised at just how effective it is at keeping bad scents at bay.


Bugs do not like this stuff. Whether you are trying to ward off ants, fleas, mosquitoes, bed bugs or lice, this oil will definitely help. You can use it in a variety of different ways. If you are having a BBQ or a cookout and don’t want to be bothered by flies, make some rosewood oil candles and burn them at all of the tables. If you notice that your house is being infiltrated by stubborn, pesky little ants, spray the baseboards with rosewood oil and lemongrass oil mixed with rubbing alcohol. That will keep the little pests away. You can also apply the oil directly to your skin if you’re going to be outdoors camping and don’t want to return with tons of itchy mosquito bites. This oil will go a long way with helping to repel bugs.

You can purchase rosewood oil online from several companies at


What Is Dental Irrigation?

oral irrigatorOur teeth and gums, and the way we maintain them, are an incredibly important intrinsic part of any hygiene routine. Those who have poor hygiene are at greater risk for many different issues later on in life. For those who are vigilant about caring for their teeth and gums, they are less likely to suffer from conditions like gingivitis, tarter or periodontal issues. Recently something called dental irrigation, which has been around for quite some time, is gaining recent appeal and increased use. But what is this practice that provides a more deliberate and clean mouth.

The way that dental irrigation works is that it cleans between the teeth and in hard-to-reach places with a specific tool that uses water to get rid of the plague buildup. When this particular practice is done it effectively eliminates plague and bacteria that can potentially cause many different problems for your gums and teeth down the road. As a hygiene practice it used to be used in the ‘80s and ‘90s as a way to maintain a certain level of tooth cleanliness between dental cleanings. It lost a little bit of popularity for awhile but in recent years it has been picking up speed and more people are trying it out.

Daily Oral Irrigation

There have been recent studies that show daily oral irrigation can help to get rid of the periodontal pathogens that easily get lodged between teeth. These types of organisms can’t be fully eliminated with brushing and flossing because they are incredibly minuscule and can be missed and lodged into the pockets of the gums very easily. For those who do take part in dental irrigation, they have a notable reduction in specific mediators that cause and perpetuate inflammation. Dentist visits provide an impressive overview of improved oral health for those who do take part in this type of irrigation.

In the event you have already been diagnosed with some type of gum disease of periodontal condition, or simply want to prevent it from occurring, you may want to seriously consider some type of dental irrigation. It can provide relief and reduction in gingivitis, bleeding of the gums, periodontal pathogens and much more. If your oral hygiene is less than ideal, you likely have some type of teeth or gum issue that dental irrigation could help to mitigate. The plaque that is formed in our mouths as a result of bacteria causes numerous problems along the way.

Daily irrigators range from direct flow, steady stream and pulsed flow. The device uses the water to directly attack the plaque and properly eradicate it. The main purpose of this practice and these irrigation devices is to disrupt the plague that gets built up around your teeth and gums in an effective manner. This will help to prevent periodontal issues later on in life. Whether you are a stickler for oral health or you tend to not pay as much attention to your gums and teeth as you should, the practice of oral irrigation may just the thing you should look into.

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Is There A Better Way To Treat Abscesses?

treat abscessesUCLA researchers have found that doctors can use a specific antibiotic in addition to surgically draining an abscess to give people a better chance of recovery. The discovery turns on its head the long-held notion that surgical drainage alone is sufficient for treating abscesses.

The findings are particularly important because of the emergence of community-acquired, methicillin-resistant, Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which since 2000 has become the most common cause of skin infections – initially in the U.S. and now in many other parts of the world.

The UCLA study was published recently by the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We found that adding in a specific antibiotic to the medical treatment also resulted in fewer recurring infections, fewer infections in other places on the body and fewer people passing on the infection to other members of the household,” said Dr. David Talan, the study’s lead author and a professor in the department of emergency medicine and department of medicine, division of infectious diseases, at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Olive View–UCLA Medical Center. “This translates into fewer medical visits and reduced health care costs.”

In the U.S., emergency department visits for skin infections nearly tripled from 1.2 million to 3.4 million between 1993 and 2005, and the burden of such infections has continued since then. Most of the increase was due to a greater incidence of skin abscesses – pus-filled boils or pimples with discharge that are the most frequent way people get MRSA infections.

Antibiotics Recommended

“Traditional teaching has been that the only treatment needed for most skin abscesses is surgical drainage — and that antibiotics don’t provide an extra benefit,” said Dr. Gregory Moran, clinical professor of emergency medicine at the Geffen School, chief of the department of emergency medicine at Olive View–UCLA and one of the study’s authors. “Our findings will likely result in patients more often being recommended to take antibiotics in addition to having surgical drainage when they get a skin abscess.”

Emergency department doctors still grapple with how to best treat and prevent MRSA, given its resistance to many antibiotics. “The problem is steadily increasing and anyone can get MRSA, particularly those who are in close contact with other people, such as through sports,” Talan said. “MRSA is commonly transmitted between family members or roommates, and it has even caused outbreaks on NFL teams.”

The Study

The study examined treatment for more than 1,200 patients at five hospital emergency departments – in Los Angeles; Baltimore; Kansas City, Missouri; Philadelphia and Phoenix. For some patients, doctors prescribed an inexpensive, generic antibiotic called trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, also known as Bactrim, for seven days after the abscess was surgically drained. For others, they prescribed a placebo for seven days.

They found that 93 percent of patients who took the antibiotic were cured, well above the 86 percent who took the placebo. “MRSA is not going away, so we need to find better ways to treat and prevent it,” Talan said. “We hope the information will help guide doctors as to the best ways to address skin infections.”

MRSA and other types of skin infection can be easily transmitted from one person to another, but Talan said the following tips can help prevent infection from spreading:

  • If you see a skin infection beginning, see your doctor right away. This could help a small problem from becoming bigger and more difficult to treat.
  • People with skin infections should be careful to keep lesions covered with a dressing or bandage and should thoroughly wash their hands after changing the bandage. Used bandages should be placed immediately in the trash.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like towels, razors or brushes with anyone who has an active skin infection.

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What Is Marjoram Essential Oil?

marjoramIf you were to ask a roomful of people what marjoram oil was, many would look around confused. The oil is not well known in many circles, even in ones that know quite a bit about holistic lifestyles and essential oil benefits. The marjoram essential oil is an aromatic herb that comes directly from the mint family. It is indigenous to Arabia and Egypt.

Many people aren’t aware that this name is actually the official moniker for what we call oregano. That’s right, the herb that you regularly cook with is actually dried marjoram. What most people don’t know is that it has tremendous health benefits aside from its flavoring ability.


Marjoram can be used to help a loved one who suffers from snoring. Whether it’s you or your spouse that snores heavily, this oil can potentially help curb the issue. Taking a couple of deep breaths of the oil right before bed, is said to help those who struggle with snoring loudly throughout the night. Another option is to use it in a humidifier or diffuser before bed. Put 10 drops of the marjoram oil and 10 drops of lavender oil in any type of vaporizer and allow it to fill the air. The snorer with breathe it naturally throughout the night and the snoring severity will lessen as time goes on. The oil also helps with sound sleep, so you’ll be potentially combating two issues at once.


The oil is also quite effective for headache pain. The inflammation that usually causes the head to hurt can be lessened by the oil. The pain that is often experienced because of tooth infections is also diminished by the use of the oil. You can add food grade oil to your tea and put some honey in it to sweeten it, or you can rub a bit of the oil on your temples to alleviate the pain in your head. The same tactic can potentially work for a toothache. Make sure to rub the oil on the gum where the tooth is emitting the most pain.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a problem that many people struggle with. This essential oil can be a great health aid. The best way to use it for this purpose is through a massage oil. Add several drops to a base oil and receive a massage at least once a week. The oil will penetrate your skin and naturally bring your blood pressure down. Massages are a great way to de-stress – that combined with the natural components of the oil, will have your blood pressure stabilizing in no time.

Wounds And Bites

The healing properties of the oil are also good for cuts, scraps and wounds. Putting a little bit on a bite or a scratch will prevent it from getting infected, and possibly giving you a bigger issue later on. Its anti-inflammatory compounds make it great for bug bites or even something poisonous like poison ivy or oak. Take a couple of drops on the fingertips and rub them deeply into the problem area. Always remember that even the lesser known essential oils are just as vital to your collection.

You can purchase marjoram essential oil online from several companies at


The Importance Of Vitamin D

vitamin-dVitamin D is fat soluble and helps our bodies absorb magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and phosphate. A Vitamin D deficiency can result in weak bones, and muscle weakness, and can also increase the risk of cancer and multiple sclerosis.

The minimum daily requirement daily of vitamin D most children and adults need is generally agreed to be 400 units. But the reality is that everyone is different, so actually everyone’s minimum daily requirement of vitamin D is different. To some extent, it depends on who you are and where you are.

Consider sunlight for example. A half hour of exposure to direct sunlight without sunscreen can provide much of the vitamin D you need. But if you’re older, if your skin is darker, if it’s winter, or if you live in the mountains, you may have challenges getting as much vitamin D as your body needs to get and stay healthy.

Each one of these variables – age, ethnicity, season, location – are important considerations that can influence how much of this vital nutrient your body receives and how efficiently it processes it. The state of your health is another important variable. For example, in order to prevent heart disease, cancer, infections, and other conditions, some nutritionists recommend as much as 8,000 or more units each day for some people.

Most ice creams and cheeses are not fortified, but milk itself – from cows, soy, and rice – is often fortified with vitamin D. Some whole grain and multigrain cereals are fortified with vitamin D as well. Fortified orange juice is another good source.

Egg yolk is a rich source of vitamin D, but because of concerns about cholesterol, you should be careful not to overdo it. One egg contains about 200 milligrams of cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 300 milligrams a day.

Beef liver is also a potent source of this important vitamin along with vitamin A and iron, but like egg yolks it is also high in cholesterol, so it should be eaten in moderation. For vegans, Portobello mushrooms will be a better fit than beef liver. Fatty fish – mackerel, salmon, trout, canned tuna, and sardines – are reliable sources of vitamin D.

Blood tests are the safest way to determine how much vitamin D you and your family members need.

The Link Between Fruits And Vegetables And Your Mental Health

fruit and vegetablesNew research – published by BMJ Open – suggests that fruit and vegetable consumption could be as good for your mental as your physical health. The research focused on well-being and found that high and low mental wellbeing was constantly associated with an individual’s fruit and vegetable consumption.

Low mental wellbeing is strongly linked to mental illness and mental health problems, but high mental wellbeing is more than the absence of symptoms or illness; it is a state in which people feel good and function well. Optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience, and good relationships with others are all part of this state. Mental wellbeing is important not just to protect people from mental illness but because it protects people against common and serious physical diseases.

“The data suggest that higher an individual’s fruit and vegetable intake the lower the chance of their having low mental wellbeing,” said lead author Dr. Saverio Stranges. “Along with smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption was the health-related behavior most consistently associated with low and high mental wellbeing. These novel findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake may play a potential role as a driver, not just of physical, but also of mental wellbeing in the general population.”

The Research

The research was part of the Health Survey for England, which oversaw detailed information collected on mental and physical health, health-related behaviors, demographics and socio-economic characteristics. The research – conducted by the University of Warwick’s Medical School using data from the Health Survey for England – involved 14,000 participants in England that were 16 years old or over; 56 percent were female and 44 percent were male. The research revealed:

  • 33.5 percent of respondents with high mental wellbeing ate five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day compared with only 6.8 percent who ate less than one portion
  • 31.4 percent of those with high mental wellbeing ate three or four portions
  • 28.4 percent ate one to two portions

“Our findings add to the mounting evidence that fruit and vegetable intake could be one such factor and mean that people are likely to be able to enhance their mental wellbeing at the same time as preventing heart disease and cancer,” Stranges added.

Can Lifting Weights Improve Your Memory?

IThere’s lots of positive reasons to hit the gym,  but did you know that lifting weights can improve your memory? A new study – conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology – shows that intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic memory – or long-term memory for previous events – by about 10 percent in healthy, young adults.

“Our study indicates that people don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost,” says Lisa Weinberg, project leader and Georgia Tech graduate.

The study – published in the journal Acta Psychologica – took a few new approaches in researching how exercise can improve memory.  Participants lifted weights just once two days prior to testing and also studied events just before the exercise instead of just after. Although weight exercises were used for the study, resistance activities such as squats or knee bends would most likely produce the same results. The exercises did not require a person to be in good enough shape to run, bike or participate in prolonged aerobic exercise.

Extensive animal research in the past has suggested that the period after learning – consolidation – is when the arousal or stress caused by exercise is most likely to benefit memory.

The Study

The participants first looked at a series of 90 photos on a computer screen – a combination of positive, negative and neutral images – and were not asked to try to remember the photos. Next, they sat at a leg extension resistance exercise machine. Half of the participants extended and contracted each leg at their personal maximum effort 50 times. The control group just sat in a chair and allowed the experimenter  to move their legs. Each participant’s blood pressure and heart rate were monitored and they also contributed saliva samples for the researchers to detect levels of neurotransmitter markers linked to stress.

Forty-eight hours later the participants returned to the lab and were shown 180 pictures – a mixture of the first 90 photos and 90 new photos. While the control group recalled about 50 percent of the photos from the first session, those that exercised remembered about 60 percent. While all the participants remembered the positive and negative images better than the neutral ones, the pattern was greatest in the exercise participants with the highest physiological responses. This was expected though since existing research on memory indicates that people are more likely to remember emotional experiences – especially after short-term stress.

This study found that exercise participants had increased saliva measures of alpha amylase, a marker of central norepinephrine. Existing research has linked memory enhancements to acute stress responses – usually from psychological stressors such as public speaking. Other studies have tied specific hormonal and norepinephrine releases in rodent brains to better memory.

Now that the researchers know resistance exercise can enhance episodic memory in healthy, young adults, the researchers plan to expand the study in the future. “The findings are encouraging because they are consistent with rodent literature that pinpoints exactly the parts of the brain that play a role in stress-induced memory benefits caused by exercise,” said Audrey Duarte, associate professor in the School of Psychology. “Even without doing expensive fMRI scans, our results give us an idea of what areas of the brain might be supporting these exercise-induced memory benefits.”

“We can now try to determine its applicability to other types of memories and the optimal type and amount of resistance exercise in various populations,” added Minoru Shinohara, an associate professor in the School of Applied Physiology. “This includes older adults and individuals with memory impairment.”

Have You Seen These New Supermarket Trends?

supermarket-trendsConvenience and value are still what grocery shoppers demand, but many retailers have begun adapting to other changing preferences and needs. Here’s a few trends that many of today’s supermarkets are implementing.

Healthy Living And Fresh Prepared Foods

Ninety-two percent of U.S. adults believe that eating at home is healthier than eating out.

Consumers often just want to put the finishing touches on an item and avoid the slicing, dicing and marinating that often comes with food preparation. More than half of U.S. households are comprised of just one or two people, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau, and consumers often look to stores as their “sous chef.”

Meal Solutions And Smaller Grocery Stores

Supermarkets are bundling together meal components that are tasty and easy to prepare. Many retailers are putting their own spin on high-quality fare that reflects trendy culinary influences such as chef-prepared entrees and salads, ethnic fare, and in-store brunch stations and gelato bars.

Smaller stores are also able to refine their offerings based on neighborhood purchasing patterns and are on track for rapid growth, according to a recent Jeffries consumer survey.

Price-Driven Consumers, Online Options And Mobile Commerce

Middle and low-income shoppers account for 70 percent of U.S. grocery sales, but consumers without major financial constraints tend to be frugal and open to shopping in a variety of different channels in order to economize, too.

Grocery shopping is more likely to become a hybrid online and in-store process with consumers placing orders online, but also stopping in the store for items. In the future more people are expected to purchase pantry staples online rather than in grocery stores. Although the market for online ordering is growing experts agree that because grocery shipping is such a sensory experience it will probably never be a totally online process.

There are currently  more than 1,000 grocery shopping apps for the iPhone, says Catalina Marketing. Digitizing supermarket ads and coupons for smartphones, computers and tablets is important to drive sales and form deeper connections with shoppers.

Some Supermarket Shopping Statistics
Here’s a roundup of interesting statistics from FMI’s 2014 shopper study:

  • 1 % of shoppers ordered groceries online for pickup at their local store within the past 12 months.
  • 12 % of meals sourced outside the home come from supermarkets.
  • 24 % of consumers buy fresh prepared meals from the grocery store instead of eating out in order to save money.
  • 25 % of all meals consumed by twenty-something consumers include items purchased that same day.
  • 43 % of primary grocery shoppers are male.
  • 61 % of women say they have all or most of the responsibility for preparing dinner.
  • 71 % of consumers rate the fresh food deli as an important factor when selecting a primary retailer.
  • 75 % of weekly grocery spending takes place in a shopper’s primary store.
  • 77 % of shoppers make a list before going shopping.
  • 88 % of list makers write grocery lists on paper.
  • 93 % of shoppers typically drive to the grocery store.
  • 96 % of shoppers who say they notice the nutrition facts panel.

Pulp Fiction: The Juicy Truth

carrot juiceWe’ve all heard it before: 6 to 8 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. According to leading health authorities, that’s the minimum requirement for optimal health. But who has time to prep, cook, and eat it all? For millions of us, the daily grind trumps good dietary habits every time.

That’s where juicing can be a god-send. Juicing veggies and fruit – even a few times a week – can pack a lot of nutritional power into one big gulp….or several sips. Juice in any combination or quantity is not a complete meal in itself, but it’s a brilliant way to make sure you’re getting the most nutrition out of most of your fruits and veggies.

The Virtues Of Veggie Juice

So how does the idea of chomping on a batch of raw beets sound? Not too appetizing, right? Transform that batch of beets into a glass of juice and you get all those vitamins in one go.

The  betalain in beet juice is an antioxidant, and an anti-inflammatory.

Beet juice helps lower your blood pressure and detox your liver and kidneys, fight anemia, and rejuvenate your skin . It is rich in folic acid, manganese, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium and iron.

To be perfectly honest, straight beet juice tastes like dirt to me, so I always mix it with organic carrot juice. Magically, the beets dominate the appearance of the juice, but the carrots dominate the taste – thank goodness!

And as for organic carrot juice, it’s full of A, B C, E and K, which makes it an “alphabet soup” of vitality, boosting your immune system and helping prevent premature aging. Raw carrots are a terrific addition to any diet, but organic carrot juice compresses all the nutrients in a bunch of carrots into one easy-to-swig glass of vim and vigor.

Spinach is rich in vitamins A and K, and manganese, which improve heart, skin, and blood health. The lycopene in tomato juice can reduce your risk of cancer. And the luteolin in celery juice is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Conclusion: juicing organic vegetables can be beneficial to your overall health.

Perish The Thought

Juicing is not a fast food proposition. Plan your schedule to allow enough time to clean, prep, and juice what you know you can consume within a 24-hour period. These vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and other nutrients have a short shelf life, so perish the thought of stockpiling enough veggie juice to last for weeks. Storage in an air-tight jar is good for a day; after that, throw it away.

Pulp Fiction Vs. Fact About Fruit Juices

“Juice.” If that’s all the label says, then that’s probably all there is to it. When the label says “juice cocktail,” or “juice-flavored beverage,” or “juice drink” – that’s when you’ve got to separate fact from fiction. The truth boils down to two words: sugar water. That’s all most of these concoctions amount to.

And then there’s the real thing, the freshly squeezed, fiber-filled, real deal – 100 percent pure fruit juice: apple, orange, red grape, pomegranate, cranberry, cherry, pineapple, and grapefruit. Mother nature’s juice bar is best by far.

Pure fruit juices are loaded with antioxidants, potassium, flavonoids, resveratrol, minerals, vitamin C, and other life-giving elements. They’re also loaded with sugar – natural sugar, true, but sugar nonetheless – and calories can add up quickly. So here moderation is key, because even with all-natural fruit juice, too much of a good thing is too much, and that’s not a good thing.

4 Reasons To Use More Olive Oil

olive-oilMost things that taste good turn out to be guilty pleasures. Sugar tastes good, for example, but there’s an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that sugar may be to blame for everything from weight gain to liver damage. Salt also tastes good, but most Westerners get too much refined table salt in their diet, leading to high blood pressure and other health problems.

Olive oil tastes good. Most people love olive oil with herbs for dipping fresh bread, they like it in salads, and they like it when it’s used for cooking. Olive oil, unlike refined table salt and sugar, doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. In fact, when used in moderation, olive oil can be good for your health. Here are 4 reasons to use more olive oil when you’re cooking, making a fresh salad or looking for a marinade.

1. Olive oil may decrease your risk of heart disease.

A group of researchers in Florence, Italy, recently ran a study indicating that women who consume an ounce of olive oil per day are 44 percent less likely to get heart disease than their non-olive oil consuming peers. The researchers need to study this phenomenon more before making any definite conclusions about why olive oil reduces the risk of heart disease, but the preliminary findings suggest that the high level of antioxidant plant compounds could be the reason behind the lowered risk.

2. Olive oil lowers levels of inflammation in the body.

The Western medical community is getting more interested in the topic of inflammation than ever before. Inflammation might be to blame for a whole host of diseases, ranging from the aforementioned heart disease to arthritis and other problems. Extra virgin olive oil, it turns out, reduces inflammation markers in the blood. The polyphenols that extra virgin olive oil is rich with are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Feeling sad? Maybe you should have more olive oil.

As scientists learn more about the biological mechanisms that contribute to depression, one thing they have discovered is that people whose diet is high in trans fats – i.e., the “bad” fats – have higher rates of depression than people whose diet is high in mono and polyunsaturated fats. In other words, junk food is one dangerous factor in the complex problem of depression and mental health.

In one study, researchers compared the mental states of people whose dietary fat mostly consisted of trans fats to people whose dietary fat mostly came mostly from olive oil. People whose fat intake came mostly from olive oil were a whopping 48 percent less likely to be depressed.

4. Your high-quality, extra virgin olive oil doesn’t even have to be imported anymore

It used to be that the best olive oils came from Europe. These days, however, it’s possible to get high-quality olive oil from within the United States. On the West Coast, for example, California olive oil producers are now making excellent olive oil that’s every bit as good as European olive oil. Buying olive oil from a source closer to home means that you can enjoy your olive oil and its health benefits without feeling guilty about the environmental damage you contribute to by buying an imported product.

3 Grains And Brans To Have In Your Daily Diet

oatsRich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. Studies have shown whole grains to be beneficial in weight management and in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

Cereal grains are generally made up of three components:  the endosperm, the germ and the bran. The endosperm is the seed’s tissue, the germ is its embryo and the bran is its outer layer. Unlike processed or refined grains, which contain only the grain’s endosperm, whole grains contain the entire kernel. It’s not necessary to eat like a squirrel, however, to enjoy the healthy benefits of whole grains. These three grains and bran products can be easily incorporated into a balanced and delicious diet.


Oats For Breakfast

Starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal is an easy way to integrate whole grains into a diet, as long as the full kernel is included. Quick-cook oatmeal doesn’t qualify as a whole grain. Oats have more dietary fiber than any other grain. They also have as much protein as soy, which helps stave off hunger when used to reduce weight gain.

Whole oats can be used in baking a variety of breads and cookies as well.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including just three grams of soluble fiber from foods like whole oats in a daily diet can reduce the risk of heart disease.


Wheat Bran At Lunchtime

Because bran has essential fatty acids that decrease the shelf life of wheat breads and other baked goods, manufacturers often remove the bran during processing. Bran is rich in fiber and nutrients, however, and is a primary reason why whole grain products are universally acknowledged as healthier than refined grains.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends consuming 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories to decrease the risk of heart disease. A slice of whole wheat bread typically contains two to five grams of dietary fiber. A single bran muffin can have four to eight grams.


Brown Rice Dinners

Brown rice contains the whole kernel of the rice grain, making it a better alternative than white rice, which lacks the grain’s bran. A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that eating more than four servings of white rice each week increased the likelihood of developing diabetes while eating just two servings of brown rice decreased the risk.

Brown rice contains gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid associated with improved kidney function and lower stress levels. Activating the amino acid, however, requires soaking the rice at a precise temperature before beginning the cooking process.

Preparing and cooking brown rice to perfection can be challenging. Unless properly prepared, the rice can be bland, mushy or unpleasantly chewy.

Fortunately, today’s best rice cookers come with auto-cook features that make it easy to cook brown rice to the right texture and flavor while enhancing the grain’s health benefits. For those who plan on eating brown rice often, investing in a rice cooker from the Zojirushi NP series is a great option when it comes to cooking brown rice correctly and conveniently.

Equipped with “fuzzy logic” microchip technology, these savvy devices adjust cooking times and temperatures to ensure that the brown rice is cooked perfectly every time.

All models in Zojirushi’s NP series feature special GABA brown rice settings that automatically activate the healthful amino acids for optimal health benefits.

Types of whole grain products range from breakfast cereals to popcorn. As long as the entire kernel of grain is retained in the preparation, processing and cooking, and is from a non-GMO source, whole grains should be enjoyed daily as an important and tasty component of a healthy diet.


Author Bio:

Matthew Laphet is the owner and creator of Rice Cooker Guide. An online resource providing reviews and guidance on popular brands and models along with offering folks new recipe ideas, how to information, and the opportunity to leave their own review for posting.


10 Food Items You Might Be Surprised To Learn Contain HFCS

kraft miracle whipSo just how much high fructose corn syrup are you consuming, anyway? If you regularly dine out or eat processed foods, the chances are high you’re taking in more than you might have ever imagined.

Back in the 1980s, when HFCS was a fairly new food ingredient, it was being touted as “better use of an abundant homegrown crop” in a trade publication ad for Cargill headlined “How the newest ingredient in soda pop helps sweeten the pot for corn growers.”  As the ad explained it, a $90 million expansion of the company’s facilities would, when completed, give it “a total capacity of 1.3 billion gallons of fructose a year … enough to fill a trainload that would stretch 154 miles.” – which is an awful lot of fructose – the very component that the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) has more recently tried to downplay in advertising claiming that HFCS is not really all that high in fructose after all.

But all that extra capacity has apparently been put to use, judging from the way HFCS has morphed way beyond “soda pop” into every conceivable food product that can be made. An example of just how much HFCS is being produced these days comes directly from the CRA itself, which noted in the most recent “Corn Annual” report  that total shipments for HFCS for 2011 came to more than 19 billion pounds of the stuff.

Back when that ad ran, in 1982, USDA numbers for “deliveries” of HFCS only amounted to 26.6 pounds per person each year. But that number has been insidiously rising year after year as this test-tube sweetener has found its way into every kind of food, hitting the 60-pound-per-person mark in 1997 – interestingly, sugar intake has actually declined over the last century according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures.

So exactly how much HFCS do these various foods contain? Unless you’re privy to “proprietary” information, as it’s called in the industry, you really have no way of knowing. That’s also true of the actual fructose amount in whatever HFCS “blend” a manufacturer may be using. These unknown fructose concentrations are the subject of a current petition filed with the Food and Drug Administration by Citizens for Health, asking that the agency take action against food and beverage manufacturers using HFCS with fructose amount above 55 percent, the highest amount the FDA allows.

Finding HFCS In Everything From Prunes To Pickles

What we do know for sure is that HFCS turns up in some very unexpected places, such as the products below.

Progresso Bread Crumbs (Plain): The package says the these bread crumbs will “inspire your passion for the art of cooking…” with “authentic Italian taste,” but you’d be hard pressed to find an “authentic” Italian dish that called for high fructose corn syrup.

Sunsweet Prunes: Referred to on the label as “the American Super Fruit,” there is no doubt that prunes are a healthy as well as a sweet-tasting natural product – and one you would least suspect would harbor an unnatural sweetener like HFCS.

French’s Flavor Infuser 10-Minute Marinade: High fructose corn syrup takes the honor of being the very first ingredient in this concoction, even before water and tomato paste.

Kraft Catalina Anything Dressing: With the claim that it’s “fat free” appearing on four places on the packaging, this product is apparently intended to be used on more than salad, as the name implies. It also has HFCS listed as its second ingredient, right after tomato paste.

Kraft Miracle Whip: Kraft calls this popular dressing a “secret blend,” but if you read the label you’ll find that it includes HFCS.

Vlasic Bread & Butter Pickles: HFCS is the second ingredient, right after cucumbers – demonstrating how easy it is to make a sandwich with HFCS in every single ingredient and not even realize it!

Mott’s Original Applesauce: Here’s yet another supposedly good-for-you-food bearing a major brand name that’s been adulterated with this cheap and unnatural sweetener. Fortunately, organic unsweetened applesauce is easy to find and just about the same price.

Krusteaz Cranberry Orange Supreme Muffin Mix: How “supreme” could the muffins made from this mix be with HFCS in them?

Heinz 57 Sauce: While the label asserts  it will “add zest to steak, chicken & pork,” a glance at the fine print says it will also add HFCS, which is the second ingredient in this sauce after tomato paste.

Campbell’s Healthy Request Vegetable Soup: Also masquerading as a “healthy” product while containing high fructose corn syrup is this new version of an old standard recipe, whose label claims that’s it’s “M’m! M’m! good…for your heart.” But a study, done at that University of California at Davis, found that adults who consumed HFCS for two weeks as 25 percent of their daily calorie requirement had increased blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, indicators of increased risk for heart disease. And in 2011, researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University concluded that high fructose consumption by teens can put them at risk for heart disease and diabetes.

The upshot is that despite industry claims that high fructose corn syrup is fine “in moderation,” the fact that so many diverse types of popular food products have been spiked with it makes consuming “moderate” amounts highly unlikely – unless you’re in the habit of carefully scrutinizing the ingredients of every processed food you buy – or of purchasing organic products. Not to mention that there may well be even higher levels of fructose in many of those items than you’ve been led to believe.

You might even say there’s a whole trainload of it just waiting for you in the supermarket.

Author Bio:

Linda Bonvie is an author, a member of the Food Identity Theft team, and consumer advocate with over 20 years of experience researching and writing about food safety, health and environmental issues. She is the co-author of Chemical-Free Kids: How to Safeguard Your Child’s Diet and Environment (2003) and Chemical-Free Kids: the Organic Sequel (2008), as well as The Stevia Story: a tale of incredible sweetness and intrigue (1997). Copyright 2013 Linda Bonvie.