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12 Surprising Sources of Plant Protein

Run of the mill, plant-based sources of protein such as tofu and other soy-based products, legumes, nuts and whole grains are officially trending, and for good reason. Eating fewer animal products and loading up on powerful plant proteins can help prevent and reverse chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Do your body a favor by swapping the steak n’ eggs for one or more of these surprising sources of plant protein. No protein powder required!

1. CHIA SEEDS

In addition to promoting hydration, chia seeds aren’t too shabby in the protein department. A 2-tablespoon serving packs 4 grams of protein plus a whopping 11 grams of fiber. Enjoy a bowl of creamy chia pudding with fresh fruit as a snack or add to oatmeal to spruce up your morning routine.

2. GREEN PEAS

We’re not talking snow or snap peas, here. The good ol’ frozen or canned variety (fresh if you can find them!) offers 8 grams of protein for just over 100 calories per cup. Add them to your favorite veggie lasagna or spring salad.


READ MORE > EASY WAYS TO EAT MORE PLANT PROTEIN


3. HEMP SEEDS

Three tablespoons of these super seeds packs 10 grams of plant protein plus a hefty dose of heart-healthy fats. Once blended, they add luxurious creaminess to any dish. Swap hemp seeds for pine nuts in pesto, add a spoonful to smoothies or sprinkle on salads.

4. LEAFY GREENS

Famed for their vitamin and mineral content, leafy greens are secretly an awesome source of protein, too. A cup of cooked spinach or collard greens adds 5 grams of protein to your daily tally. Add a big handful to smoothies, omelets and soup.

5. NUTRITIONAL YEAST

Affectionately known as “nooch,” this new-to-many ingredient is a favorite among vegans for it’s cheesey flavor and top-notch protein profile. Sprinkle it on popcorn, pasta or add to veggie burgers for 9 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving. You’ll also get 3 grams of fiber and a boatload of vitamin B12. #winning

6. OAT BRAN

The nutty outer casing of the oat grain is brimming with 6 grams of fiber and protein to boot. Boost the nutrient content of muffins by adding oat bran for up to a quarter of the flour. It can also be stirred into yogurt, stews, pasta dishes or casseroles for extra texture and flavor!

7. PUMPKIN SEEDS

Also known as pepitas, these are no ordinary seed; they are nutrition powerhouses boasting 7 grams of protein and 13 grams of heart-healthy fats per serving. Try toasting a cup of pumpkin seeds in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes and enjoy as a simple snack with dried fruit. They also add great crunch to salads, oatmeal and yogurt.


READ MORE > IS SOY SAFE?


8. QUINOA

Quinoa is a rare breed in the plant world because it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It boasts 8 grams of protein per cup and cooks in just under 15 minutes. Try it as an a.m. oatmeal stand-in, as the base of a veggie-packed lunch salad or in place of rice at dinner time. For a flavor boost, boil it in vegetable broth rather than water.

9. SPIRULINA

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that has more protein per gram than … beef — 4 grams per tablespoon, to be exact. Plus, it’s loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants. Spirulina has a mild fishy flavor that’s undetectable in smoothies. Add a teaspoon to your next blend for the ultimate superfood cocktail.

10. TAHINI

Also known as sesame seed butter, tahini is a deliciously nutty Mediterranean stand-in for almond or peanut butter. It clocks in at just under 100 calories and 3 grams of protein per tablespoon. In addition to being one of the star ingredients in homemade hummus, we also love the creaminess it adds to salad dressing. Drizzle it over warm, roasted veggies for extra flair.

11. WILD RICE

This aquatic grass seed brings 6 grams of protein to every serving along with a distinctive nutty flavor and toothsome texture. The easiest way to cook it is like pasta, in plenty of salted boiling water until tender and then drain. Mix up your morning routine with some wild rice cooked until very tender and treat it like oatmeal, topped with dried fruits and/or nuts.

12. WHOLE-GRAIN PASTA

Whole-grain pasta is less processed and therefore higher in fiber and micronutrients than refined, white-flour pasta. A one-cup serving of whole-grain pasta clocks in at just under 8 grams of protein and 25% of the daily value of fiber. Use in place of regular pasta, knowing it matches best with stronger-flavored toppings.

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Rhubarb 3 Ways (Beyond Pie)

Rhubarb-Lentine

If you thumb through one of your grandmother’s old cookbooks, you may come across a recipe for pie that refers to rhubarb as the “pie plant.” While tangy, grassy, bold rhubarb makes an exceptional springtime pie, it’s also a remarkable ingredient to weave into other meals to make them fresh, healthy and flavorful.

If you have a bumper crop of rhubarb on your hands, pluck the stems, trim away and discard the leaves. Then get chopping, shaving, roasting, stewing and baking these blush-colored stalks into all sorts of dishes where a little tang, zip or bold flavor and texture is desirable — starting with these three unexpected recipes.

Keep in mind that raw, fresh rhubarb has a much different texture than frozen and thawed rhubarb. We recommend using raw, fresh rhubarb for the salad and salsa recipes below. For the lemonade, because the rhubarb will be cooked to soften, it would be suitable to use frozen, thawed rhubarb instead.

Chicken Salad with Rhubarb

Rhubarb-Chicken-Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 ounces cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 cup rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
  • Butter lettuce leaves, to serve

Directions

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chopped chicken with the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, celery, rhubarb, tarragon leaves and almonds. Mix until the chicken is coated and the ingredients are combined. Cover the bowl and chill the salad, roughly 45 minutes. Serve on toasted bread with slices of butter lettuce or on top of a green salad.

Recipe makes 6 servings at 1/2 cup per serving.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 170; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 4mg; Sodium: 188mg; Carbohydrate: 2g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 12g

Rhubarb and Pineapple Salsa

Rhubarb-Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (8 ounces by weight) fresh rhubarb, finely diced
  • 1 cup pineapple, finely diced fresh
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of two limes, roughly 1/4 cup
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeds removed and very finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup quince jam
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the rhubarb, pineapple, onion, serrano pepper and lime zest. In a small bowl, combine the quince jam and salt with lime juice to thin the jam. Pour the lime juice mixture over the rhubarb mixture and toss to coat, stirring to incorporate. Drizzle the olive oil over the salsa, top with cilantro and add to tacos, eat with tortilla chips or enjoy as a chunky, bright salad topping!

Recipe makes 6 servings at 1/2 cup per serving.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 74; Total Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 196mg; Carbohydrate: 13g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugar: 10g; Protein: 1g

Rhubarb Lemonade

Rhubarb-Lemonade

Ingredients

  • 5 cups (roughly 1 1/4 pounds) fresh rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar such as turbinado
  • Zest of one lemon, cut into wide strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh herb leaves such as mint, basil and lemon verbena
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • Sprigs of mint, basil and lemon verbena, for garnish
  • Lemon slices, for garnish

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 4 cups of water with the rhubarb and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and herb leaves. Cover and let stand until cool (roughly 1 hour). Strain the liquid into a large glass jar or pitcher and discard the solids.

Stir the lemon juice and sparkling water into the rhubarb mixture, then cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve the lemonade over ice, garnished with herb sprigs and lemon slices.

Recipe makes 8 servings at 1/2 cup per serving.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 113; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 5mg; Carbohydrate: 30g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 26g; Protein: 1g

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Going Vegan Really Isn’t a Magic Diet for Weight Loss

You may not recognize John Mackey’s name, but you definitely know his business. Mackey is the founder and CEO of healthy supermarket chain Whole Foods Market, and he has a new book out called “The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longetivity.” In his book, Mackey details how he became a healthy eater after growing up eating junk food, and the vegan diet he says revolutionized his life.

In a new interview with NBC News about his book, Mackey says he became a vegetarian in his 20s, but started eating fish when he dated a woman who wasn’t a vegetarian. “And gradually, over time, I was starting to gain weight,” he says. “My biometric measurements were not as good as they used to be. I was getting older. I just thought, ‘Oh, this is coming with age.’”

But Mackey says his health began to improve “almost immediately” after he adopted a vegan diet. “I started losing weight and I felt better,” he says. After a year, his health plateaued, so he cut out sugary and highly refined foods as well. “When I stopped eating all those processed foods and combined that with a plant-based diet, my health was just amazing,” he says. “I weigh the same as I weighed when I was 18 years old … I’m an extremely healthy person now.”

Mackey points out that he went from being a kid who wouldn’t eat vegetables to teaching himself to “love every single vegetable out there” — and he urges people to try to do the same. “You can teach yourself to enjoy any type of food, so why not teach yourself to love the healthiest foods in the world?” he says. “When you combine the things our body naturally craves — whole-starch foods (sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, etc.) with fruits and vegetables — you can eat all you want and you’ll lose weight.”


READ MORE > THE MOST DANGEROUS FAT IS THE EASIEST TO LOSE


Experts say that while people can lose weight on a vegan diet, it’s not a guarantee. (Also, not that gaining weight is inherently a bad thing, but eating all you want — even if it’s healthy — can still affect how much you weigh).

If your goal is to lose weight, the process involves many more aspects than just what you eat and whether you follow a plant-based diet. Sure, exercise is a factor, too, but so many other things come into play. Components like stress and sleep, along with things you can’t fully control, like health conditions and hormonal fluctuations, can play a big role in your weight as well.

It’s true that there is some science behind veganism potentially promoting weight loss, but the reason why is simple.

Many studies have shown that veganism is associated with a lower weight, Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, instructor of medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and obesity medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells SELF.

For example, a cross-sectional study of more than 70,000 people published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013 found that vegans had the lowest BMI of people with different dietary habits (ranging from non-vegetarian to vegan), even though everyone ate the same amount of daily calories. And a meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients in 2014 looked at over 100,000 study participants and found that vegan diets are linked to a lower risk of developing obesity (as well as hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease). Another meta-analysis published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in 2015 discovered that people on a vegetarian diet — especially those on a vegan diet — saw better weight-loss results than dieters on other eating plans. Of the more than 1,000 people who followed a specific diet for nine to 74 weeks, vegans on average lost about 5.5 more pounds than non-vegetarian dieters (vegetarians lost about three pounds more than those on a diet that included meat).

Sonya Angelone, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF that veganism can cause weight loss simply because it’s a form of food restriction. “Anything that restricts food, even temporarily, can promote weight loss in the short term,” she says. Certified dietitian-nutritionist Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of NY Nutrition Group, agrees. “When most people think of veganism, they think of eating strictly veggies and cutting out high-fat animal foods like cheese, burgers and bacon,” she says. “Naturally when you eliminate fatty animal foods, you may notice weight loss due to less calorie intake, and of course, animal fat is typically artery-clogging fat, which is not recommended.”

With that said, going vegan doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be eating healthier or less food than usual.


“There are many vegans who eat nutritiously with no problems, but being healthy while vegan can actually be pretty hard work.”


Although there aren’t as many processed vegan foods as non-vegan ones, they’re still out there. Plenty of foods like chips, nondairy ice cream and cookies may fall into the vegan category but still not be healthy, Angelone says. As a result, a person may end up eating a diet that’s technically vegan, but high in sugar, carbohydrates and calories. The limited category of things vegans can eat can lead to nutrient deficiencies, Angelone says, so vegans need to be careful to get enough calcium, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fats.

Vegans also may deal with cravings and have to work harder to be satiated, potentially leading to eating more than they used to. “It can be even harder to keep portions and calories in check when eating a strict vegan diet because, by eliminating good quality sources of protein like eggs, fish, dairy, and organic lean meats, it can be harder to stay full and keep cravings in check,” Moskovitz says. That’s why she recommends vegans focus on consuming more protein-rich foods such as beans, lentils, quinoa, soybeans or tofu, on a daily basis.

Of course, there are many vegans who eat nutritiously with no problems, but being healthy while vegan can actually be pretty hard work. Luckily, you don’t have to go vegan to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. If you want to go vegan because you truly believe in the lifestyle, have at it. But if you’re considering striking foods you love from your life and going vegan just in an effort to lose weight, it’s absolutely not necessary. If you’d like to eat a healthier diet — whether weight loss is a goal of yours or not — Stanford says it’s important to make sure you’re incorporating lean protein, vegetables, whole grains and fruits into your diet. “It is also important to realize that the less processed a diet the healthier it is overall,” she says.

It’s also important to remember that undertaking a diet that’s too restrictive for you can lead to dangerous bingeing and yo-yo dieting, which over time can contribute to problems with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

That’s why it’s key to figure out how to fuel your body and mind in a way that’s safe and realistic for you. “There is no one strategy that is universally effective in helping people to achieve a healthy weight,” Stanford says. And, of course, if you’re struggling to find a diet that works for you, seek out a certified dietitian — he or she can help guide you toward an eating plan that best suits your needs.

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4 Ways to Work Out Like a Beach Lifeguard

The movies might sometimes make it seem like the only skills you need to be a beach lifeguard are swimming and running in slow motion, but in actuality, lifeguards need to be ready for anything — from saving someone caught in a riptide to resuscitating someone having a heart attack on the sand. And you better believe their workouts are as demanding as any athlete’s.

We know because we talked to Jenna Parker, 33, a surf-lifesaver for Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Not only does she spend her summer days watching the waves for changing tides or swimmers in trouble, she also trains intensely for lifeguard competitions. These events pit lifeguards against each other to see who’s fastest at swimming, running, rowing and paddling — crucial activities they use to save lives.

Even if you never intend to don a whistle, floatation device and (striking red) swimsuit, working out like a beach lifeguard could bring your fitness to the next level. Here’s what we learned from Parker’s fitness routine — and what you should keep in mind when getting your sweat on.


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1. MAKE THE TIME COMMITMENT

Parker basically works out all day. She wakes up at 6:30 for an hour-long session of swim drills, typically in a pool, but sometimes in the ocean. Then, it’s time for a run, paddle, surfski or row. After breakfast, she heads to the beach where she organizes paddle practice or mini-Ironmans (run-swim-paddle-row races) for the patrol. Post-work, she does another run or Ironman-type workout with patrol captain Randy Townsend.

Train Like a Lifeguard: Let’s be honest: You’re not going to work out four or five hours a day like Parker. For for many of us, committing to even 30 minutes a few days a week is hard enough. But if you want to see results — whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle or achieving a new PR — you need to put in the time. If it helps, block out workouts on the calendar and think of them like an appointment or work meeting, meaning you cannot cancel.

2. DON’T IGNORE YOUR CORE

During the winter, Parker preps for summer competitions by incorporating more plyometric work with a focus on her core. “Having a strong core is incredibly important when rowing, paddling or surfskiing,” she explains. She also does a number of functional training movements to prevent injuries during training and competitions.

Train Like a Lifeguard: Even if you’re a cardio junkie like Parker, you need a balanced regimen of strength training and heart-pumping exercise. Add compound, functional training exercises (like lunges, squats and pushing and pulling motions) to your routine to increase your ability to perform everyday movements and avoid injury. Be sure to work your core, which will benefit you during both exercise and everyday life.

3. FIND A PARTNER

Parker and Townsend became good friends as teens because they found they both loved to push themselves. The two often work out together, and the entire patrol is super supportive. “Everyone motivates each other,” Parker says. “There are very few days I don’t want to work out in the summer because I have Randy and some of the others [doing it with me].”

Train Like a Lifeguard: To increase the chances of sticking with your fitness routine, find your own Randy. A friend or supportive fitness studio not only keeps you accountable, it makes working out more fun. And that will make you more likely to give every second your all.

4. CHALLENGE YOURSELF

“One of the things I love about surf-lifesaving is that there is always something more to learn,” Parker says. “The ocean is a constantly changing environment — you’re never going to see the same wave twice. That requires you to constantly learn and adapt, and take the knowledge you have and try to re-apply it to new situations.”

She also does this in her workouts and started surfskiing last summer. “I spent three months getting in, paddling a little bit in flat water and falling out of it,” Parker says. “But by the end of summer, I was able to take the ski in and out in the ocean and paddle through the surf.”

Train Like a Lifeguard: Seek out your thing, no matter how out-of-the-box or intimidating. “There are not many things in life that are so challenging they require you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone,” Parker adds. If you’re looking to challenge yourself in new ways, the key could be just beyond your comfort zone. So go ahead: Finally try CrossFit, sign up for a race or take your first yoga or cardio dance class. You’ll be glad you did.

Written by Brittany Risher, a writer, editor and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation and scotch. Connect with her on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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