Taking a vacation is the perfect way to de-stress and get some relaxation.
What I see most commonly with people who come to me for coaching, is they may use it as a time to overindulge and skip out on staying active. The thing is, healthy eating and exercise don’t have to feel like a huge event when you’re away, it’s about doing the things that make you feel your best and healthy eating and exercising is part of enjoying yourself. All you have to do is make a good-for-you diet and physical activity a little easier, and fit it seamlessly into your travel schedule.
Whether you’re hitting the beach or jetting off to a foreign country this summer, find ways to fit in nutrient-packed meals and take some time to break a sweat (even if that means exploring your city by foot). To make this simple and doable, I’m sharing my favorite tricks and go-to strategies for staying healthy on the road. A few days or weeks away doesn’t define or “make or break” the healthy habits you’ve established in your life, so here’s how to have fun while making healthy choices on vacation.
How to Have a Healthy Vacation
1. Eat At Least One Vegetable-Heavy Meal Per Day
A produce-packed omelet, a big juicy salad with protein and healthy fats, or a plate full of roasted veggies with a side of protein — choose at least one meal every day that you’ll dedicate mainly to vegetables. Another suggestion is to try ordering a side of veggies with as many meals as you can. Eating vegetables can help you get in the fiber your digestive system needs, which helps keep your blood sugars stable. Plus, vegetables are loaded with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to feel your best.
2. Walk To Explore
One of the best ways to get to know a new area is by simply strolling around it, so skip the cab or train when you can and get to your next tourist attraction by foot. You’ll feel great knowing you put in the extra steps to get there, and you might discover a great view, photogenic spot, or cool restaurant along the way to check out later. It’s recommended that we walk at least 10,000 steps per day, so added bonus if you can wear a tracker or use your phone to help count your steps! That’s especially important considering the average person walks just under 5,000 steps per day, according to research (1), so aim to hit your quota by taking in a new city by foot.
No matter what activities you’re up to while on vacation, we all know staying hydrated is key to feeling our best, keeping digestion calm, energy up, and focus sharp. If you’re traveling on foot or walking for most of your day, keep a reusable water bottle on hand to fill up with water routinely. While dining out or just hanging out poolside, be sure to keep a glass of water nearby to have between beverages, before meals, and even between bites of food. It just might keep you fuller for longer, too. To read more about why staying hydrated is important, read up here and here.
4. Sneak In Exercise
Do five squats as you brush your teeth, hold plank on the beach for 1 minute between swims in the ocean, walk to and from lunch, or jog to pick up a morning cup of coffee or smoothie. These little bursts of exercise throughout the day will add up, so try to squeeze in a few quick moves whenever you can.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (2). Experts say as long as you get in 10 minutes at a time and spread it throughout the week, you’re good to go in terms of fitness. You can even make this into a friendly competition with your travel buddies. Who can get in the most push-ups before you head out for the day? Where can you find a place to do pull-ups? You can always make exercise fun by having a workout buddy.
The best ways to stay healthy on vacation! #nutritionstripped #healthytravel
It’s easy to go for something greasy or extra sweet when you’re super hungry. Avoid making quick choices by being prepared and packing some healthy snacks before you leave for vacation or pick some up when you arrive at your destination. This can be as easy as a handful of almonds, fruit like a banana or apple, or a bag of raw veggies and hummus. When you reach your vacation spot, you can easily pick these up at a local grocery store or likely a gas station. Simply make sure to grab enough to last the length of your stay. You can check out my favorite snacks to take on the road in this post.
6. Plan An Active Adventure
Like with any other goal or activity, if you prioritize and schedule it, then it’s more likely to happen, including breaking a sweat! Try planning activities like a guided hike, a bike ride, a walking tour, or even a new sport like rock climbing. Add it to your itinerary and it’ll hardly feel like hard work. It’ll be a fun way to get moving and bond with your friends and family on the trip.
Living the Nutrition Stripped way is all about enjoying food while feeling your best — so if that includes enjoying pizza, wine, and chocolate cake, then do so! Sharing meals with your friends, family, and loved ones are one of the many joys of food. It will nourish your cells on a physical level and also help you bond over traditional foods or explore other cultures. Another way to try the food of your destination is to order and share it with the table. That way, you get to taste and explore several dishes and still apply some balance and moderation to your meals.
8. Take Advantage of Healthy Hotels
Chalk this up as a wellness trend from 2017, because so many hotels will offer wellness benefits these days. The healthy perks might include great gym facilities, healthy snack options or room service, and in-room yoga videos. Some hotels even have a run concierge that will take you out for a jog or at least give you ideas of routes to take while exploring the city. Ask the concierge about any benefits they offer and use it for your health advantage.
How do you stay healthy on vacation? Share your tips and tricks below or on social media using #nutritionstripped. I’m excited to hear what you do when you’re away!
If you’re looking for a protein-packed pasta dish that tastes light, bright, and summery, then this Protein-Packed Pea and Mint Pasta is your jam!
This recipe is inspired by the pea pesto recipe from the Nutrition Stripped Cookbook, yet instead of pizza, we made a pasta! Peas are slightly sweet and always taste delicious with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and fresh mint. So why not put them all together on pasta and call it a day? This meal can be made in 15 minutes for dinner, lunch, or a great entree to share with friends over for dinner — just serve it with a big green salad (hey, massaged kale salad) and you’re good to go!
Can Pasta Dishes Be A Good Source Of Protein?
Yes, especially when the pasta you’re using is made from a plant-based protein like chickpeas! It’s been years of searching for the best gluten-free pasta and I think I found it. I’ve tried ones from Whole Foods, Trader Joes, mostly made from brown rice or quinoa but none of them held up as leftovers, or they got super soggy during the cooking process, except chickpea pasta.
I’ve had the most luck when using pasta made from lentils and chickpeas and the brand I use in this recipe is Banza, one of my favorites which serves up 20 grams of protein per serving. In addition to starting with a protein-packed pasta, we’re also using nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds to give this an extra boost of protein, minerals, and vitamins. Win, win, win.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Mint?
So fresh, so clean. There’s nothing like mint to remind you of summer and warm weather. It pairs wonderfully with just about any kind of dish, from a morning smoothie to a tasty dip. And when it comes to nutrition, the versatile herb has been shown to help promote brain function and mood.
Think of what automatically happens when you pop a peppermint or breathe in a mint essential oil, you immediately feel more awake, energized and alert. Studies have also shown that peppermint can help relieve digestive issues, such as an upset stomach, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Mint has an array of antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
You can add mint as a garnish in cocktails, in fruit salads to tame the sweetness and in chilled soups and gazpacho to enhance the coolness. Just be sure you start slow when adding mint to any recipe because it can easily overpower other flavors but plays really nicely with fresh lemon juice.
Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of Americans. While it occurs in several types, each one affects blood sugar.
To be exact, thirty million Americans have a diabetes diagnosis (1). Because it’s so widespread, I decided it was time to talk about the condition. First off, you may be wondering what is diabetes exactly? Well, there are several types including Type 1, Type 2 or gestational diabetes. To learn how each of these conditions affect the body, let’s break down what diabetes is, symptoms of it, recipes for balancing blood sugar, and how to take care of yourself if diabetes is a part of your life.
What Is Diabetes?
In all forms, diabetes affects blood sugar—making it higher than normal—and insulin. When you eat food, your body turns it into sugar or glucose. In a healthy person, the liver then releases the hormone, insulin, into the body in order to open up your cells and bring glucose into those cells. Think of glucose as the gas to your body’s car. It keeps you running with energy, but you need the tank open for your car to accept the gas. Insulin serves as the cap that lets gas into the tank—without it, your car (aka your body) won’t run properly.
As for what goes wrong in each type of diabetes, here are the basics:
Type 1 Diabetes
Affecting just 5% of the population, individuals get diagnosed with this type of diabetes early in life, which is why it was previously called juvenile diabetes (2). In this case, your body doesn’t make insulin at all. Those who have type 1 rely on insulin therapy (or self-administered insulin, typically as a shot) so that their body can still use glucose for energy. Patients often need to check their blood sugar levels regularly to make sure their bodies are getting enough insulin and can, therefore, keep running on glucose.
Type 2 Diabetes
This is the most common type of diabetes and is often associated with overweight or obese individuals. People with this type still have insulin in the body, but it’s not used properly. Because the insulin isn’t able to help the body take in glucose and use it for energy, blood sugar levels spike. This is called hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels. While your pancreas might try to make extra insulin to control high blood sugar, it won’t be able to keep up with demand, meaning glucose levels will still rise.
Often times diabetes symptoms can go unnoticed, but there are a few telltale signs, particularly of type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes symptoms include frequent urination, feeling thirsty and hungry, fatigue, blurry vision, cuts, bruising, weight loss (for type 1), and tingling, pain, or numbness in hands and feet (for type 2).
If you can check off a few of these symptoms and suspect you might have diabetes, then it’s time to see a doctor. A simple blood test will determine if you have the condition. If you are overweight or obese, it’s also a good idea to get checked simply as a precaution.
Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
One condition that can seriously up your risk of diabetes is metabolic syndrome—a condition that also increases your chances of getting heart disease or experiencing a stroke. About 23% of adults have metabolic syndrome, according to the American Heart Association (8). The major causes are overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, genetics, and age.
To get a metabolic syndrome diagnosis, you would present at least three metabolic disorders. These disorders include a waist circumference that’s more than 40 inches for men or 35 inches or women; triglyceride counts of 150mg or more; HDL cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL for men and 50 for women; systolic blood pressure of 130mm Hg or greater or diastolic blood pressure of 85mm Hg or greater; a fasting glucose of 100mg/dL or greater.
While the numbers may seem confusing, your doctor can easily do these readings for you. That’s why it’s so important to see your doctor or dietitian, particularly if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. A few simple lifestyle changes will also decrease your risk of metabolic syndrome, including weight loss, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regularly checking blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
Now, let’s tackle what lifestyle factors can help lower your risk of metabolic syndrome, along with diabetes—particularly your diet.
Besides insulin therapy, certain foods can help keep diabetes symptoms in check. One study found that following either a low-carbohydrate or a low-fat diet will help people with diabetes lose weight (4). That’s often a top goal for diabetes suffers weight loss. Another study says that restricting certain carbohydrates is the first approach to controlling diabetes (5). In this case, the most important thing to pay attention to when controlling diabetes is choosing complex carbohydrates (think beans, whole grains, and vegetables) and cutting back on sugar (limiting desserts or even sky-high juices and yogurts).
Keep in mind, simple changes can lead to big results in terms of diabetes control. For starters, make sure to fill half your plate with vegetables. While vegetables are also carbohydrates, they won’t spike your blood sugar as quickly as foods like white bread or rice. The best veggie choices are artichoke, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, beets, sprouts, and tomatoes. Always go for whole grains, rather than processed, white grains. Starchy vegetables (like pumpkin, squash, potato, and green peas) are also smart choices. With diabetes, you’ll also want lean protein sources, like lentils and beans, fish and seafood, poultry and eggs.
Another good choice for curing a sweet tooth for diabetes sufferers is fruit. Just make sure you’re eating fresh fruits or frozen ones without added sugar. Watch portion sizes, too, sticking with 1/2-cup to one-cup servings, or just two tablespoons of dried fruits a day.
If you’re having trouble getting more veggies in your day, which also means fiber! We know that fiber helps slow digestion and the release of blood sugar into our bodies which can help prevent the roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows. If you’re looking for more vegetable-rich recipes, check out all of ours on the Recipe page or follow this guide to going more plant-centric.
Our reader favorites when it comes to eating more plant-based meals:
Another important way to help control diabetes: Get in those steps! The American Diabetes Association recommends leaving your seat and moving around at least every 30 minutes (6). In other words, don’t sit at your desk for more than a half hour at a time. Get up and mingle with co-workers or take a walk around the block. Also, the CDC currently recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate exercises, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity, such as running. Besides just standing more, you’ll want to break a sweat, too.
Taking time to simply be present can lead to lots of health benefits, particularly stress relief.
When you consider the idea of actively living in the moment—zero distractions, including your phone—it’s not necessarily a new concept, but can be a tough one. During this digital age, we almost always have our phones nearby (or on our wrists), and the simple buzz or light up brings us right out of focus.
Keeping your attention on just one thing at a time, though, can keep you more engaged in conversations with friends, it can help you eat slower (and maybe less), and it can easily help you ease tension. In fact, recent research says just one hour-long intro session can reduce anxiety (1). These benefits prove why it’s important to continuously practice mindful moments, so it comes as second nature, and why I’m talking about practicing mindful moments every single day.
Some of my favorite times to take a few minutes for mindful meditation is during daily tasks. Here, I share occasions you can easily squeeze in a few minutes just to be, so you de-stress and re-focus your attention on what’s happening around you.
6 Ways to Practice Mindfulness Every Day
1. During Your Morning Routine
While you’re brushing your teeth, as you sip on a breakfast smoothie, or in the shower, really concentrate on what you’re doing. Think about the toothbrush running across your teeth, about the smell, taste, and feel of that smoothie in your mouth, or the water running over you in the shower. Focus on each step, rather than thinking about all the other things you have to accomplish that day. It’s a much slower, relaxed start to your a.m.
2. On Your Commute
Lots of people like to zone out on the way to work, whether that’s with music or podcasts or a book. I challenge you to try to tune into your surroundings at least one day this week. Look and observe the people around you, notice the smells and sights, take in the feel of the car you’re driving or the bus or train you’re riding.
3. As You Walk
Walking meditations can be really de-stressing and super peaceful—especially if you take it out in nature. You might have heard of “forest bathing,” which basically involves meditating among trees, plants, and dirt, which can really lift your mood. A review of this type of outdoor meditation finds that it can provide soothing and awe-inspiring benefits for the body, mind, and spirit, including stress relief (2).
4. As You Eat
If you’ve never heard of eating mindfully, it’s time to test it out. Next time you’re hungry and reach for some food, stop whatever else you’re doing. Instead of eating in front of your computer or while you’re on the phone, focusing solely on the food you have in front of you. Really taste each flavor you put in your mouth, chew slowly, and pay attention to textures, too. This will help you get more in tune with your hunger levels as well.
Take just a few minutes before you put your head on the pillow to sit in bed and just breathe. Focus on how your body feels and use this time to calm your mind, trying to get rid of negative thoughts from the day or any stressors still weighing on your shoulders. When you feel mentally at peace, you just might sleep better.
6. When You Wake Up
Wouldn’t your day start out so much better if you had an extra five minutes in bed—a few seconds to yourself, no phone buzzing or emailing rolling in? It’s time to make that happen. Getting up just five minutes earlier and pressing play on a guided meditation or just focusing on your breathing—taking long inhales and exhales—can really start your day on a calmer, less-crazed foot.
Want to de-stress? Try these mindfulness tips. #nutritionstripped
An easy way to start practicing mindful meditation is to just sit down, close your eyes, and start taking big inhales an exhales through your nose. Focus on the breath moving in and out of your body. You can count, if that helps keep your mind stay in the moment. Another option: Say a mantra to yourself, stating each word on an inhale or exhale. A few of my favorites:
“Be here now.”
“Today is a good day.”
“I’m strong and confident.”
“You’ve got this.”
Do you have a favorite mantra? Do you have a favorite time to meditate or a positive experience with meditation? I want to hear from you! Share all about it below or on social media, using #nutritionstripped.
Have fresh herbs? Use them in the best healthy green goddess dressing that you’ll want to put on everything.
Made with fresh parsley, dill, mint, jalapeno for a kick of heat, dairy-free yogurt, avocado, olive oil, and green onions — this dressing will turn into your favorite dip, spread, sauce, marinade, and condiment for the summer.
I’m a huge fan of green goddess dressing, I can’t tell you how many store-bought brands I’ve tried (and loved) but there’s something so easy about making it from home, being more resourceful, and utilizing all the fresh herbs you’re growing this season. We have a mini-garden, mostly filled with herbs and jalapenos so this recipe is perfect to keep in weekly rotation during the summer months — you can put it on anything!
How To Use Green Goddess Dressing
You can use green goddess dressing as well, a salad dressing, but also you can get creative using it as a sandwich spread, a dip for roasted or raw vegetables, a spread for crackers, a sauce for grilled fish, chicken, or baked tofu. The possibilities are endless and you can also replace one herb with another just in case you’re low on something or don’t have dill/parsley/mint at home.
This recipe is made dairy-free (vegan-friendly) using one of my favorite yogurts, but you can also use an organic or local full-fat dairy if that fits in your lifestyle, but I recommend using a plain coconut kefir for the tang or a plain almond milk yogurt, both will give you the flavor and texture needed for this recipe.
Do Herbs Have Health Benefits?
Yes! Yes, herbs across the board are nutrient-dense and some have very unique health benefits — cilantro, for example, helps support the bodies natural detoxification process with binding to heavy metals to pass from our systems.
The fresh herbs used in this healthy green goddess dressing is dill, parsley, and mint. All of which have their own unique nutrient profile, let’s take parsley, for example, which is rich in vitamin C, which can help support our immune system to ward off the common cold to preventing cancer. Parsley is also a good source of beta-carotene which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
Mint, for example, has been shown to help promote brain function and mood, studies have also shown that peppermint can help relieve digestive issues, like an upset stomach, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Mint is a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
In addition to some great health benefits, herbs also contain a wide array of nutrients from vitamins, antioxidants, to minerals; regardless of the amount you eat, adding herbs to your dishes can be a way to enhance flavor and enhance nutrition, easily.
A Case For Using More Herbs In Cooking
One of the most frequent conversations I have with my clients when it comes to cooking is their reservation or lack of using fresh herbs in their cooking at home! It’s always a surprise, but it’s actually really common that most of us don’t think to add fresh herbs to our cooking, it completely transforms recipes from flavor, texture, to add a boost of nutrients.
Infusing flavor, texture, and aroma, fresh herbs are the fabric of a flavorful and well-balanced meal. Although they’re an optional addition to some recipes, herbs are the finishing touch that ties all ingredients together!
Have fresh herbs? Make the best healthy green goddess dressing! You'll want to put this on everything...
The best black bean burger is great to cook during the weekend and can be made in large batches — save some in the freezer and the fridge to reheat for a quick lunch or dinner.
The beauty of these patties is you can chop them up and toss them in your favorite salad, cooked greens, quinoa, or eat them the classic way…on a bun! I think you’ll quickly see why I dub the recipe as “The Best Black Bean Burger”.
Nutritional yeast is really the star of the recipe, and here’s why: it contains heaps of B vitamins, protein, and fiber in a very small volume. Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor and the taste is similar to a rich sharp cheddar cheese, hence why it’s so popular in vegetarian and vegan lifestyles — it makes the perfect cheesy substitute sans dairy.
Nutritional yeast contains heaps of B vitamins, protein, and fiber in a very small volume. It's the star of this black bean burger #recipe! #nutritionstripped
If you make these black bean burgers, I want to see how they turn out! Submit your photo directly on this post in the comments section below, and share on Instagram by tagging @nutritionstripped #nutritionstripped. Happy cooking!
A common issue related to your digestive tract, irritable bowel syndrome can cause bloating, gas, and more.
Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, affects about 10% to 15% of the country’s adult population. However, only about 5% to 7% of people actually receive a diagnosis (1). That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with symptoms and talk to your doctor or dietitian about a plan to help you feel your best!
Many of my clients come to me with digestive issues and after uncovering their lifestyle, diet, stressors, etc., and we work together to come up with a plan that relieves those symptoms but also gets to the root cause of the issue. For some women, it’s food intolerances, for others it’s the absence of nutrient-dense foods and foods rich in probiotics or foods that nourish the microbiome, and for others, it’s stress and other lifestyle choices. If you or a friend has IBS and wants to know how to recognize symptoms, and what changes (including food choices) to make to your lifestyle to help alleviate discomfort, read more about IBS and what to be aware of.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that affects bowel function (mainly in the large intestine), meaning while nothing is anatomically wrong with the body, you’ll still experience symptoms. These symptoms include changes in bathroom habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, likely accompanied by abdominal pain and bloating.
You might also experience symptoms that have nothing to do with your digestion, including problems like muscle aches and pains, fatigue, the sudden urge to urinate, pain during intercourse or lack of libido. Women are more likely than men to get IBS, and a family history of the condition also raises your risk (1).
While IBS does not cause life-threatening issues, it can severely disrupt your everyday life, because the symptoms typically last a long period of time. However, you can learn to control IBS symptoms.
The Difference Between IBS and IBD
Though IBS does not lead to serious health concerns, irritable bowel disease (IBD) can do so. To be specific, IBD refers to digestive conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms that set IBD apart from IBS include blood in your stool, diarrhea that wakes you up at night, unexplained weight loss, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, persistent pain, a family history of GI issues (like celiac disease, IBD, or cancer), and changes in your typical IBS symptoms (2). In these cases, it’s extra crucial that you see a doctor as these could be signs of a more serious problem.
The bad news: There’s no one cure-all for IBS. The good news: A few lifestyle tweaks have been shown to have a positive effect on sufferers. For example, following a low FODMAP diet—which includes cutting out certain types of carbohydrates—has helped people control symptoms (1). Slowing down your eating and avoiding overeating can also help.
One study also found that exercise can help alleviate GI problems, so make sure you’re up and moving more throughout the day (3).
Other recent research showed promising results from a home-based treatment program that involved cognitive behavioral therapy (likely because stress can bring on symptoms). The researchers’ program focused on teaching patients about the brain-gut connection, how to self-monitor symptoms, common triggers and what happens to the body after those triggers, how to control worrying, muscle relaxation and problem-solving (4).
Finally, another recent study found that vitamin D supplementation could help ease IBS symptoms (5).
Recipes that Could Help with Digestion
Following the low FODMAP diet doesn’t have to be restrictive, you can still eat delicious foods! While a low FODMAP diet may not be the answer for everyone who suffers from IBS, it may be a good start to uncover potential food triggers or intolerances with your dietitian. Here, a few recipes to try throughout your day that ddoesn’tinclude the typical FODMAP trigger foods:
Note: You’ll want to use 1/8 of the avocado in these recipes, to keep it low FODMAP-friendly.
IBS: The Takeaway
Though it might be difficult to come to a diagnosis and to find treatment for your symptoms for IBS, it is possible. If you have been feeling any digestive discomfort for days or weeks, it’s time to speak to your doctor—you don’t have to live with the issue. A few lifestyle changes can help you, and I’m always here for a nutritional consultation, so we can get you feeling better through diet changes. Don’t be afraid to reach out and set up a time for nutrition coaching.
Have you experienced IBS? Have you found a way to control it? Share your experience with the community below and we can all swap ideas. Here’s to living healthier and happier!
One of the best ways to help yourself drink more water is to infuse more flavor with herbs.
The benefits of sipping more water throughout your day are endless. Water helps your body function optimally on a cellular level, keeps skin hydrated, reduces lethargy, improves digestion—and the list goes on. Think of water as one of the most important fuels that keep your body running, which is why it’s so key—plus it makes up most of the matter in our bodies, too.
Besides keeping you hydrated, water can also reduce your overall calorie intake, as well as your sugar, fat, and sodium consumption, according to studies (1). It can also help you push through a tough workout. On the other hand, dehydration can lead to a decrease in concentration, more headaches, and it can even crush your mood (2).
I’ve heard from many clients, friends, and readers that it can be tough to consistently drink plain water. That’s precisely why it’s nice to give it a little extra kick, so you keep you coming back for more. Here’s where herbs come in—they pack that tasteful punch, and even better, boost the nutrients while you drink water. Let’s talk about why you should make herbal infused water recipes and how to do so successfully.
Why Make Herbal Infused Water Recipes?
As I mentioned, herbs bring lots of flavor to plain old H2O. They have a welcoming taste that likely keeps you wanting more of them (and that means you’ll stay hydrated), and they don’t add extra calories. To top off their advantages, herbs also bring in their own set of health benefits. Here, I offer some top herbs to infuse in your water and why they’re so good for you.
The Best Herbs to Infuse Your Water
To add some zing to your plain glass of H2O, simply add fresh or dried herbs to an airtight container of water. This could be a pitcher or a large mason jar. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes (the longer you wait, the stronger the flavor), and then drain the ingredients and sip away.
As for what to add, here are some of my favorite herbs:
Often used in Chinese medicine, this berry adds a slightly sweet flavor while providing major health benefits. It comes in a powered, pill, extract, or capsule form and you’ll get lots of antioxidants from it, which means it helps fight free radicals in the body. This berry also helps reduce inflammation, provides potential anti-cancer properties and assists in fighting off illness. It might even help keep your skin clear (3).
You’ll love the flavor of the Schisandra berry if you also like goji berries, with a hint of rosewater. Mix it with some grapefruit for the satisfying combo of sweet and bitter.
Fennel provides a slew of good-for-you nutrients that’ll keep your whole body healthy. It’s high in vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, as well as calcium and iron. One cup also has two grams of filling fiber.
The licorice-like flavor of fennel pairs perfectly with citrus fruits, like lemon.
Stinging nettle is a plant in which people use the leaves for medicinal purposes. Though it needs more research, potential effects include anti-inflammatory properties and alleviating symptoms of arthritis. It’s also known as a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more often.
With a similar taste to spinach, nettle gives your water that fresh green flavor. Mix it with berries for an even better sip.
A trendy herb these days thanks to it’s potential to help digestion, dandelion has been touted as a way to lower the risk of several diseases, too. One study discusses its potential to help those with type 2 diabetes (while results seem promising, more research is needed) (4). These effects likely come from its anti-hyperglycemic, anti-oxidative, and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Similar to an endive, dandelion provides an earthy, bitter taste. Add a dash of sweetener, like Stevia, to lighten it up or a squeeze of lemon.
Besides making your breath smell fresh, adding peppermint leaves to your water means you’ll also likely gain antioxidants, plus antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which help you battle illnesses. It could also help keep things moving through your digestive tract (5). The smell may increase alertness, too (6).
Add a minty tea-like flavor to water with this wellness-enhancing herb. Throw in cherries, berries or cucumbers and watermelon to make your beverage even more delicious.
There’s a reason people tell you to drink ginger ale when you’re feeling sick: Ginger can assist in relieving nausea (7). Throw a piece of this root in your water when you’re feeling under the weather. It also has those antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help keep your body in a healthy state.
Ginger will give your water a sort of pungent, spicy note. To tame the bite, add a few lemon slices, too.
Another way to boost antioxidants and keep inflammation at bay: Add a few rosemary sprigs to your water. Though researchers have only done preliminary studies, this green herb could be good for those with Alzheimer’s disease or potential risk of the disease (8).
You’ll get a pine-tree-like taste from rosemary sprigs, which work nicely with cucumber or grapefruit slices to up the freshness.
Add more flavor to your water with these herbal infusions! Have a favorite blend? Share your recipe with us! #nutritionstripped
If making a large pitcher, use 1-gallon container which is recommended. Take 1/4 cup of the dried herb or mix of herbs you’re making the infusion with 2-3 cups of boiling water, steep covered for 15 minutes, strain the herbs (you can re-steep this mixture at least two more times to be resourceful!), and fill up the remainder of the pitcher with cold filtered water. Store the herbal infusion in a large airtight glass jar or pitcher for up to one week.
Where to Buy Herbs
Your local health food store or tea shop will likely have all of these herbs. You can also shop at your regular grocery store for things like rosemary and fennel. Traditional Medicinals is another great spot to search for the ingredients you need.
Other Uses for Herbs
Though dried herbs are great, you might want to buy a batch of fresh herbs. With the leftovers, you can use them in oils to add more flavor to things like meat and vegetables. Add a few fresh sprigs to your olive or avocado oil bottle and let it sit for a few days. It’s just that simple.
Share Your Herbal Infusions
Herb-infused water also makes for pretty pictures. Share your favorite recipes with the NS community using #nutritionstripped.
Agnieszka Szopa, Radosław Ekiert, Halina Ekiert. (2017, April). Current knowledge of Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. (Chinese magnolia vine) as a medicinal plant species: a review on the bioactive components, pharmacological properties, analytical and biotechnological studies.
Make this two-bean and herb salad that won’t leave you or your friends hungry an hour later — hello fiber and plant-based protein!
The key to making the perfect cold salad for summer parties, BBQ’s and hangs is making a large batch salad once for the entire week ahead or to serve a large group of people. The other key, it needs to be simple, and a two-bean and herb salad filling enough to not leave you hungry an hour after eating it!
That’s where the plant-based protein, fiber, and carbohydrates come into play with this easy bean salad using chickpeas and pinto beans along with fresh herbs, olive oil dressing, and crunchy toasted almonds.
Are Beans Healthy?
For most of us, beans are a great part of a healthy diet! For some, beans may cause digestive issues depending on their digestive health, health issues like diabetes, autoimmune issues, or gut issues in general.
Beans are starchy carbohydrates, they’re rich in fiber and plant-based proteins and minerals especially magnesium, but when did beans get such a bad reputation? Starches, also known as complex carbohydrates, are found in starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, beets, and beans, but they’re also in whole-grain bread, pasta, cereals, and oatmeal.
Whole-food starches and fiber are slowly digested and don’t spike blood-sugar levels as much as white sugar, for example. The problem is when/if we consume too many highly processed starches or ones that lack fiber, that can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes — think of a roller coaster constantly going up and down representing your blood sugar levels and your energy.
Legumes also contain substances called phytates and lectins, which at their core, may prevent our bodies from absorbing and utilizing the nutrients we eat. Lectins are great for plants, they guard plants against “predators” by acting as a natural pesticide, yet can cause digestive issues for some people. For most people though, beans can be a healthy part of most diets, eating around 1/2-1 cup of beans a day is just fine and contributes to a good amount of fiber.
Beyond fiber and plant-based protein, but they’re also rich in other nutrients, like magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. An easy way to increase your daily fiber is to incorporate 1/2 cup or more legumes a day, which is about 10 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup serving, about 30% of your daily fiber needs! These don’t have to be chickpeas and pinto beans, beans and legumes that fall into this category are also lentils, split green peas, hummus, edamame, and tempeh.
Do Beans Cause Bloat?
Maybe, maybe not. Just like any other food, we all react differently to foods because we all have a unique makeup of bacteria in our digestive system (hello microbiome). Feeling bloated after eating beans can be from a variety of reasons, mainly it’s from the gas production from eating dried and cooked beans and it can be prevented by soaking the beans and changing the water several times during the cooking process.
Adding herbs like fennel or caraway can help reduce bloating or gas that you may experience while eating beans. Also, chat with your dietitian to see if beans are right for you in general, and also a digestive enzyme may help you digest beans better or reduce bloating and gas issues if taken before a meal rich in beans.
Make this two-bean and herb salad for your next party — your friends will be happy you made a salad that doesn't make you hungry an hour later. #nutritionstripped