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Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

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What are the four keys to a successful weeknight dinner? It must be quick, flavorful, inexpensive and easy. Thanks to Skinnytaste you can hit all four with this Greek chicken sheet pan recipe. Call it a complete meal on a baking sheet! Simply toss ingredients together, and dinner is ready in 30 minutes. Tip: If you line your baking sheet with foil clean up is a snap.

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5 Basic Stress-Busters

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The effects of stress on physical and emotional well-being are tremendous.

Stress affects everything, from our immunity to mental stability to energy production to sex and relationships. If prolonged stress occurs, it can negatively affect all of the systems in our body.

When we experience a sudden stress stimulus, the result is an increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, decreased digestion and increased blood glucose for energy.

For example, when I got to work this morning, I realized that I forgot to unplug my hair-straightening iron. Cue my fears of burning my apartment building down — and cue my stress response. My heart rate sped up immediately, my breathing became short and shallow as I reviewed the timeline of the morning. My digestion of my oatmeal came to a halt, and I had a sudden burst of energy as I hightailed it back home to unplug the iron.

This system is known as the sympathetic nervous system, also known as our fight-or-flight response. It’s our body’s natural reaction to stressful situations and meant to kick in to help us avoid danger. However, if we remain in a constant state of fight or flight, we ultimately suffer from decreased energy levels, decreased immune response and a weakened memory.

Stress is unavoidable. How we deal with stress, however, can lessen its truly problematic effects.

Here are 5 easy ways to get started:

1. Meditation: Five minutes per day — or even one minute — is a good place to start to shift our body into relaxation mode.

2. Breathe: Find a quiet place, close your eyes and focus on how the breath moves in and out through your nose. Take five really deep breaths, and prolong the exhalation. On the exhalation, imagine the negative thoughts leaving your body and attempt to center yourself.

3. Diet: Aim for whole foods, plant-based, and low in sugar. Try cutting the alcohol, and limit caffeine intake for a few days and take note of the effects.

4. Exercise: The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week to optimize cardiovascular health. You can try adding in yoga, dance, boxing or anything that gets you moving.

5. Sleep: Shoot for seven to eight hours per night. Sleep is when our body repairs and restores itself, so it is important to get enough to allow ourselves to rejuvenate.

Start slowly with just one of the tips above and take note of how you feel. Then you can gradually add more until you experience results. Your body and mind will thank you!

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The Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

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Eating and sleeping are basic human needs that go hand in hand in many ways. It’s no surprise that what you eat before going to bed affects the quality of your sleep.

“The foods we eat before bed can give us the nudge we need to make good sleep great — or they can keep us up all night,” says Dr. W. Christopher Winter, medical director of the Sentara Martha Jefferson Sleep Medicine Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Here, we explore the best and worst foods to eat before nodding off:

BEST FOR SLEEP

Melatonin-Rich Foods

For Example: Tart Cherries

You don’t have to take a melatonin tablet to boost your levels of the sleep-inducing hormone. In a 2014 study from Louisiana State University, insomniacs who drank melatonin-rich tart cherry juice every day slept about an hour and a half longer each night compared with those who downed a placebo. Walnuts are another great source of naturally occurring melatonin, Winter says.

A Warm Drink

For Example: Warm Milk

While dairy is rich in tryptophan, calcium and vitamin D — all of which have been linked to improved sleep — the best thing about warm milk is that it’s, well, warm, Winter says. When you spike your core body temperature with a hot drink, your blood vessels respond by dilating and letting off heat as quickly as possible — the exact same process that naturally occurs as you drift off to la-la land, he says. Hot caffeine-free teas will also do the trick.

High-Glycemic Carbs

For Example: White Rice

The fact that white rice has a high-glycemic index isn’t always a bad thing, suggests a 2014 Cell Reports study. It found that insulin spikes actually help induce sleep. Researchers believe high-GI foods may improve tryptophan and melatonin production. (FYI, carbs are the real culprits behind your Thanksgiving Day coma, not turkey.) Bananas and granola also work.

High-Casein Dairy

For Example: Cottage Cheese

To boost your body’s levels of the drowse-promoting amino acid tryptophan, turn to protein, Winter says. An even better bet: turn to casein protein. A slow-to-digest form of protein that’s abundant in cottage cheese, casein (consumed before bed) can increase your ability to recover from your workouts and build muscle all night, according to research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Greek yogurt is another great source.

WORST FOR SLEEP

Alcohol

For Example: Wine

“Alcohol is one of the biggest body-clock disruptors out there,” says Laura Cipullo, RD, author of the “The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet.” “It decreases the amount of time you spend in the deepest sleep stages and, consequently, your level of wakefulness the next day.”  In fact, a 2015 University of Melbourne study found that nightcaps trigger alterations in sleepers’ brain waves akin to those associated with electric shocks. For each glass, give yourself at least an hour before attempting sleep.

Fried or Fatty Foods

For Example: Cheesesteak Sandwiches

“Eating a fried meal high in fat is likely to sit in your stomach and cause you to experience gastric reflux upon lying down in bed,” Cipullo says. What’s more, the body tends to shunt heavy proteins like beef toward the production of dopamine, which promotes wakefulness, Winter says. Slot any super-heavy meals for lunchtime.

Caffeine

For Example: Chocolate

Caffeine is all about staying awake. This you know. But you may not realize how sensitive some people can be to caffeine — and that chocolate has more caffeine than you think, says Winter. A dark chocolate bar contains nearly as much caffeine as a full cup of joe. Even “lightly caffeinated” teas and and “decaf” coffee can stand between you and your sleep.

Spicy Foods

For Example: Chili

“Hot sauce makes chili taste awesome, but spicy foods near bedtime can trigger indigestion and reflux, ultimately waking you up throughout the night,” Cipullo says. Avoid eating any spicy foods within three hours of bedtime, she says.


MORE TO GET YOU MOVING

> Heart Rate Monitoring Basics
> Beginners Guide to Orangetheory Fitness
> Beginners Guide to Running for Weight Loss


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Slow Cooker Chicken and Lentil Chili

Slow Cooker Chicken and Lentil Chili

If you own a slow cooker, you know it’s probably the most convenient and versatile device ever created. (And it’s the perfect way to make great-tasting meals without being in the kitchen for hours!) Tonight, enjoy our slow-cooked chicken and lentil chili, a nutritious dish that’s hearty, healthy and full of budget-friendly veggies.

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