Things I Learned From Sabotaging My Whole30 Plan (and Why I’ll Try It Again)

I tried and failed to complete the Whole30 challenge ¡ª but it’s OK| because the experience has set me up to succeed on my next try. When I received the Whole30 cookbook ($18) in the mail| I was intrigued and inspired to turn my health around with this diet plan of no grains| legumes| sugar| or alcohol. “Paleo on crack|” is what some people even call it. And I stuck to it fervently until day 18. That’s the day I effed it all up and had a glass of Champagne . . . followed by a loaf of bread. And just as the book predicted| once a cheater| always a cheater. The next day I put cream in my coffee. So what did I learn| and why will I try this crazy diet again? Take a look so you can avoid the same mistakes.

Image Source: Walt Disney Studios

Your cravings are temporary. Your pride is forever.

The book claims that your food cravings only last a matter of minutes ¡ª which I found to be true. They even warn you that after several weeks of not consuming alcohol and sugar| you’ll start to see it everywhere| also true. By day 18| I acted like a partially rabid animal around the sight of sugar and Champagne (my favorite beverage of choice). But as soon as I took a sip of the good stuff| it didn’t make me feel good! Why? Because I had broken the agreement I had made to myself of sticking to this diet for 30 days. The thrill of “sinning” didn’t outweigh the shame. OK| I get it now ¡ª submitting to my cravings doesn’t taste as good as “tiger blood” (how you supposedly feel the second half of the program).

Image Source: Comedy Central

Sugar and alcohol are the worst things ever.

Part of the Whole30’s purpose is to discover which foods send your health in a downward spiral (make you bloated| exhausted| break out| etc). Even though I only got through day 18| I discovered alcohol and sugar are my worst enemies. One beer or one chocolate chip cookie is enough to give me a raging headache. As much as I hate to admit it| I have to limit myself on these beloved treats| and I’m appreciative that this diet helped me see that dairy/gluten/legumes aren’t the big dietary issues for me.

Image Source: Walt Disney Studios

If you didn’t make it yourself| chances are it has sugar (or alcohol) (or gluten) (or everything noncompliant).

The book tries to set you up for success when dining out. The problem is| this diet is complicated. I tried to explain to waiters| “It’s gluten-free| sugar-free| alcohol-free ¡ª ghee| but no dairy.” Their eyes glazed after I told them| “No| this isn’t an allergy-related diet.” And you know what? After the exhausting back-and-forth| I’d still end up with a burger with [sugared] pickles or a salad with [sugared] dressing. There’s no avoiding it unless you buy from sources that are Paleo. But even Paleo has different rules| and you may end up with something coated in coconut sugar. It’s exhausting. So| I’m determined to cook 100 percent of my meals next time during a month in which I can commit to eating at home.

Image Source: Little Stranger Films

Get the support of your friends and family.

I tried to do this thing solo ¡ª bad mistake| as most of my family members and friends were enablers| taunting me to cheat on my plan. Even though the Whole30 talks about its supportive forum| nothing beats having a friend| significant other| or family member on board with you. So the next time I try this thing out| I’m enlisting the support of a buddy!

But enough about the fact I only made it to Whole17 1/2. I’m going to try this challenge again and complete it| because I learned so much already from this experience. I did drop a jeans size and five pounds (in addition to sticking to a workout regime)| so the diet does help shed excess weight. I got a glimmer of “tiger blood” as my workouts were way| way stronger| my hips and back pain miraculously stopped| and my menstrual cramps became nonexistent. I also felt like I was much more productive and focused at work| especially since midmeal hunger didn’t send me scrounging around for snacks. There’s too much good stuff to deny that the Whole30 does make a difference. Therefore| I’m telling you all now| world. I’m trying the Whole30 again in Februrary| and I’m sticking to it.

10 Ingenious Kitchen Hacks That Help Make Life Healthier

10 Ingenious Kitchen Hacks That Help Make Life Healthier

Making your kitchen a healthy haven should not feel like a constant struggle. Whether you’re constantly chopping| tossing leftover produce| or talking yourself out of enjoying your favorite foods| check all the time-saving| food-optimizing hacks we swear by.

u2014 Additional reporting by Jenny Sugar and Michele Foley

| DIY Smoothie Packs

If you’re not prepared| making a smoothie can turn into a 15-minute production! These DIY smoothie packs are the perfect solution to this predicament. Prep all the fruits and greens you use in your smoothies| and freeze individual serving sizes in quart-sized freezer bags (glass mason jars work well too). Note any additional ingredients that need to be added to the blender| and your smoothie is as good as done.

| Sub in Avocado

Rich and decadent dishes get a lightened-up makeover from one amazing ingredient: avocado. Aside from adding a creamy consistency to dishes| avocado can up the fiber content and heart-healthy fats in your favorite recipes. The next time you’re making a dish that calls for milk| butter| cream| or cheese| you’ll want to take a look at our avocado-substitution guide to see how easy it is to replace those ingredients with the green goodness of this fruit.

| Divide Your Salad

Buying in bulk saves money| but how frustrating is it when a funky aroma and wilted greens greet you from the crisper drawer? Try this trick: divide your big container of greens into two to four smaller plastic bags. Place your fist over the opening| blowing through your hand and into the bag to fill it with air (carbon dioxide). Then seal the bag by twisting the top a few times before closing it firmly with a twist tie. Place it in the fridge| and your greens are good to go.

| Skip the Pasta u2014 Bring in the Veggies

Swapping out noodles for veggies is all the rage for good reason. It’s an easy technique to cut carbs and bring more nutrition to your plate. Check out these veggie noodle recipes to see how to make best use of your spaghetti squash| zucchini| and more.

| Pack (Crisp) Salads For a Full Week

Don’t have time to cut up a salad every single night? There’s a way to make all the salads you need for your workweek at once. Whether you prefer plastic containers or mason jars| here are the directions you need to know. Once you read through these| you’ll never have to deal with a mushy salad again.

| Bring Beans to Dessert

Considering beans’ fiber| protein| and iron content| everyone should include more legumes in their diet. If you’re having trouble stomaching a bowl of beans| you can still reap the healthy benefits without your taste buds even realizing it. There are tons of bean-loaded dessert recipes to appeal to your sweet tooth.

| Freeze Your Greens

Tired of tossing greens week after week? This ice-cube hack will help you out. Pick up some BPA-free ice cube trays or baby food trays| and buy a variety of greens. You can puree them separately in a food processor or blender or puree them together| adding a little water to yield a smooth consistency. Pour the puree into the little wells| attach the lids| and freeze them. Once the cubes are frozen| you can leave them in the trays or pop them out into gallon-sized freezer bags. When you’re ready to make your smoothie| just grab a few| and throw them in your blender u2014 it’s a great time saver.

You can also use ice trays to store herbs and sauces| too.

| Go Greek

Skip oil| butter| and heavy cream| and bump up levels of calcium| protein| and probiotics by using Greek yogurt. It can easily sub in for mayo| sour cream| or heavy milk in your favorite recipes.

| Store For Freshness

Just tossing your produce is the fridge won’t make it last. Check out a simple chart that lays out where to store your most common produce| whether at room temperature| on a refrigerator shelf| or in the crisper (the coldest fridge drawer). Print out this PDF from POPSUGAR Food| and post it on your fridge for reference.

| Bake With Applesauce

Applesauce works as a substitute for both eggs and butter. The ratio of applesauce to butter is one to one: if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter| simply sub in 1/2 cup of applesauce. For every large egg a recipe requires| toss 1/4 cup of applesauce in its place. Try out this banana apple chunk bread in which the applesauce complements the other fruity flavors while keeping each bite dreamy and moist.

The 6 Stretches Everyone Who Sits at a Desk Should Be Doing

The 6 Stretches Everyone Who Sits at a Desk Should Be Doing

If you run| bike| or are deskbound all day| your hamstrings could use some extra love and length. It not only feels good to stretch this commonly tight area| but hamstring flexibility is also important for the health of your back| hips| and knees. Here are six easy and essential stretches that target the backs of your legs. To avoid injury| it’s best to do them at the end of a workout| when the muscles are warm.

| Tipover Tuck Hamstring Stretch

This stretch is good for your hamstrings and also loosens tight shoulders.

  • Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your back. Keeping your legs straight| bend at the hips| tucking your chin| and bringing your hands over your head.
  • Relax the back of your neck and if the stretch is too intense| release your hands| placing them on the backs of your thighs| and soften your knees. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly roll up to standing.

| Scissor Hamstring Stretch

Easy to do anywhere and safe for injured backs| this hamstring stretch is great if you’re really tight.

  • Stand with your feet together. Step your right foot back about two feet and bend forward from your hip joint| keeping your back and both legs straight. After holding for 30 seconds| switch sides.

| Standing Hamstring Stretch

If the previous stretch isn’t deep enough for you then try this variation. It’s perfect for doing on a bench after a run in the park.

  • Prop your left heel up on a surface that is a little lower than your hip such as a chair or bench. Flex your foot.
  • To increase the stretch bend forward toward your flexed foot| by creasing at your hips. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.

| Modified Hurdler Stretch

This basic stretch is perfect for targeting one leg at a time| and is great for those with really tight hamstrings.

  • Sit on the floor and straighten your left leg in front of you. Bend the right knee| placing the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
  • Fold over your left leg| keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds| then switch legs.

| Forward Bend With Rounded Back

This stretch targets both hamstrings as well as the lower back.

  • Sit on the floor| extending both legs straight out in front of you| legs together.
  • Fold your torso over your thighs| gently rounding the back but keeping the legs straight. Hold here for 30 seconds and then sit up.

| Reclined Hamstring Stretch

Here’s a relaxing way to stretch one hamstring at a time.

  • Lie on your back. Raise your left leg as high as you can keeping your pelvis flat on the ground. Hold your lower thigh and encourage the leg to move toward your head. Flex your foot to stretch your calf too.
  • To deepen the stretch| place a yoga strap or towel on the ball of your foot and use your hands to pull the strap toward you. After 30 seconds| switch legs.

Tone Your Entire Body With This 1 Move

Tone Your Entire Body With This 1 Move

Short on time? Don’t skip the strength-training session u2014 get playful with the plank! By doing multitasking variations of this basic move| you can target your arms| back| core| legs| and booty to chisel out a stronger| more toned you.

| Plank Jacks

Take your jumping jacks to the floor for this plank variation that not only works your arms| core| and lower body| it’ll also get your heart pumping.

  • Begin in plank position with your feet together. Keep your upper body stable and engage your abs.
  • Begin doing jumping jacks with your legs. Hop them wide| then hop them together. Jump as quickly as you want.
  • Do a total of 30 jumping jacks| which counts as one set. Then complete two more sets.

| Two-Point Plank

This exercise might remind you of the quadruped (a crunchless ab exercise) on crack. It’s superhard| but the payoff is a stable torso.

  • Start in a plank position. Cheat your right leg toward your center line| and lift your left leg off the ground so your heel is even with your pelvis.
  • Keeping your torso steady| reach your right arm forward. Really brace through the abs by pulling your navel to your spine. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Keeping your torso stable| bring your right elbow to your left knee under your body. Do not round your back or twist your spine| and keep your pelvis down. Then reach the arm and leg out and away from each other. This counts as one rep.
  • Do three sets of five to seven reps on each side.

| Elbow Plank

This is a killer move for your core| legs| and upper body. When holding elbow plank| be sure your shoulders are stacked over your elbows and your body is in one straight line.

  • Start on the floor| resting on your forearms and knees.
  • Step your feet out one at a time| coming into a plank position.
  • Contract your abs to prevent your booty from sticking up or sinking. Your spine should be parallel to the floor| with your abs pulling toward the ceiling.
  • Hold 30 seconds| and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.

| Elbow Plank With Donkey Kick

Elbow plank is tough enough| but make it even more challenging by adding a booty-strengthening donkey kick.

  • From elbow plank position| bend your right knee| flex your heel| and press your foot up toward the ceiling without moving your pelvis. Lower the bent leg slightly| and repeat for a total of 15 to 20 repetitions. Then switch sides. Do three sets on each leg.

| Up-Down Plank

Strengthen your arms| upper back| and core with this challenging exercise called up-down plank.

  • Come into plank position with your arms and legs straight.
  • Beginning with the right side first| lower your elbow to the floor where your hand was. Then lower your left elbow to the floor where your left hand was (now you are in elbow plank| with your forearms parallel).
  • Then come back into the starting plank position onto your right hand and then back onto your left. This completes one rep.
  • Perform 10 reps starting with your right elbow. Then reverse directions by bringing your left elbow down first for an additional 10 reps.

| Side Plank Leg Lift

This variation of plank called side plank leg lift targets your shoulders| waist| abs| back| outer thighs| and glutes.

  • Place your right elbow on the ground. Extend both legs out so that your body is in one straight line and you’re balancing on the outside edge of your right foot.
  • Flex both feet if you can| and either rest your top hand on your upper hip or extend it in the air. Keeping your spine lengthened and your abs engaged| lift your left leg up just higher than your top hip. Then slowly lower it back to your bottom leg.
  • Do three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.

| Easy Knee-Tuck Crunches

Capitalize on the instability of an exercise ball| and try the tuck crunch. This move strengthens your core while toning your arms| chest| shoulders| and lower abs.

  • Get into a plank with your shins on the ball.
  • Pull your knees toward your chest| and then shoot your legs back out. Keep your body in a plank position the entire time.
  • Do three sets of 15 to 20 crunches.

| Reverse Plank

This yoga-inspired tabletop lift will tone your triceps| quads| glutes| and abs using a reverse-plank variation.

  • Start in a tabletop position. Inhale and| as you exhale| lower your hips and straighten your legs so your hips are hovering above the floor. To make this move more challenging| hold each position longer.
  • Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps| flowing from one to the other| pivoting on your hands and heels.

| Reverse Plank With Leg Lift

Try this variation of the reverse plank to target your shoulders| legs| and abs.

  • Begin sitting on your tush with your legs straight. Bring your palms a few inches behind you| fingertips facing the toes.
  • Press into your feet and lift your bum off the ground. Try to keep your body in one diagonal line. You can also do this exercise on your elbows if it bothers your wrists.
  • Alternate between lifting your right leg up and then your left. Move with control| making the movements slow and steady| and keeping the hips lifted.
  • Complete three sets of 15 to 20 lifts on each leg.

| Circling Plank

Grab an exercise ball for this move that tones your upper body and your lower abs.

  • Begin in an Elbow Plank with your forearms resting on the top of a ball.
  • Keeping your core strong and your body still| use your arms to roll the ball in small counterclockwise circles.
  • Do five circles in this direction and five clockwise. This counts as one set.
  • Complete three sets.

| Plank Row

Add some rowing action to your plank to target not only your arms and back| but your core and glutes too. Talk about a full-body exercise!

  • Start in a plank position with your legs wider than hip distance; the wider stance makes you more stable. Hold onto your dumbbells| keeping your wrist locked to protect the joint.
  • With your core tight and your glutes engaged| exhale| stabilizing your torso as you lift your left elbow to row; feel your left shoulder blade sliding toward your spine as you bend your elbow up toward the ceiling.
  • Keeping your neck long and energized| return the weight to the ground| and repeat the movement on your right side.
  • Do 10 reps per arm| and repeat for three sets.

| Side Elbow Plank With a Twist

Adding a twist to a side plank challenges your balance| works your obliques| and tones your shoulders!

  • Come into a side elbow plank on your right side| with your feet stacked one on top of the other. Keep your weight on your right elbow with your fingers reaching away from your body.
  • Place your left arm behind your head| and inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale| and pull your navel to your spine| engaging your deep abs. Rotate your left ribcage toward the floor. Stay there for a second| and deepen your abdominal connection by pulling your navel in toward your spine even more.
  • Return to the starting position| and repeat seven more times for a total of eight reps| then switch sides. Repeat series again on your left side.

| Plank With Lateral Arm Reach

With this plank variety| balance and control are key. It’s definitely a move that will have you feeling the burn.

  • Start in a plank position.
  • Keeping your torso stable| slowly reach your left arm out to your side. Brace through the abs by pulling your navel to your spine. Hold this position for five seconds. If you feel too unstable| try moving your right hand so it is under the center of your chest rather than under shoulder right shoulder.
  • Keeping your torso stable| bring your arm back to the plank position. Do not round your back or twist your spine.
  • Repeat this same motion on the other side| extending your right arm to your side.This counts as one rep.
  • Do three sets of five to seven reps.

| Plank Side Walk

For shapely deltoids| take your plank for a sideways walk with this move that’ll target the core as well as the upper body.

  • Begin in plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders| body in one straight line.
  • Simultaneously cross your right hand over your left| as you step your left foot to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left| so you’re back in plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart.
  • Repeat this for five steps to the left| and five steps to the right to complete a rep. Be sure to keep the hips low as you move| drawing the navel toward the spine.
  • Repeat four more more times for a total of five reps.

| Side-Plank Crunch

We love how this move targets the entire side of the body.

  • Begin in a side elbow plank with your left elbow down and your right hand behind your head.
  • Keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted| bring your right leg up toward your shoulder to lightly tap your right elbow.
  • Lengthen your right leg back to the starting position to complete one rep.
  • Do 10 reps on each side to complete a set. Do three complete sets.

32 Vegan Lunches You Can Take to Work

32 Vegan Lunches You Can Take to Work

Whether you follow the “”vegan before 6 p.m.”” routine| you’re taking a Beyoncu00e9-like vegan challenge| or you’re animal free through and through| it seems like more and more of us have tried a vegan diet. While going vegan may take a bit more thought and effort than an unrestricted diet| with a little preplanning u2014 like checking ingredients in store-bought breads and stocking up on vegan pantry essentials u2014 you can still enjoy delicious| exciting meals no matter what time of day. To start your workweek| we’ve found 32 tasty and creative vegan lunches that are perfect for brown-bagging to work. Click through for the recipes!

| Veggie Sandwich

Nothing is as satisfying as a perfectly prepared veggie sandwich. This basic hummus veggie sandwich recipe will be a brown-bag favorite.

| Tabbouleh Quinoa Salad

Need a refreshing midday break? This tabbouleh-inspired quinoa and tomato cucumber salad won’t weigh you down.

| Sweet Potato Mason Jar Salad

Mason jar salads are perfect for lunch; they keep well and stay fresh| even when you pack them all at once for the week. This sweet potato mason jar salad is full of flavor and protein.

Related: How to Pack Salads on Sunday Night So They’re Fresh All Week

| Mexican Tempeh Quinoa Salad

Spice up your quinoa salad routine with a Mexican tempeh quinoa salad. At only 350 calories and 17 grams of protein| this filling vegan salad is a winner.

| Sweet Potato Quinoa Patty

After frying up these spicy sweet potato quinoa burger patties| store them in an airtight container in your fridge; you can use the patties as protein-packed toppings for a salad or make a deliciously satisfying burger that will be the envy of your co-workers.

| Vegan Chickpea Soup

You’re in luck: this addictive| creamy vegan chickpea soup comes together with staples you probably already have in your kitchen and tastes even better the next day once flavors have had time to meld.

| Pea Soup

Make a hearty split pea soup sans the ham using this vegan split pea soup recipe| or go for a raw cold pea soup that you can whip up in your blender. Either way| both are better options than bringing a sodium-laden can of soup to work!

| Spicy Sweet Potato Salad

This How to Make Sweet Potato Chips

| Butternut Squash Lentil Soup

If you’ve got a slow cooker| making this vegan butternut squash lentil soup will be a breeze. This recipe makes eight servings| so you can make enough for dinner| lunch| and then some.

| Vegan “”Chicken”” Salad

If you’re in need of a filling| creative vegan lunch that comes together fast| it doesn’t get any better than this mayo-less vegan chickpea and avocado salad.

| Vegan Pasta Salad

Even if a barbecue isn’t in your near future| you’ll want to whip up a batch of this 15 Healthy Vegan Dinner Recipes You Should Add to Your Rotation

| Cold Soba Salad With Ginger Peanut Dressing

You’ll want to make a big batch of this soba noodle salad with ginger peanut dressing for dinner; the leftovers will make an even tastier lunch! Creamy| tangy| and with a kick| this will become one of your favorite vegan lunch options.

| Cumin-Spiced Lentil and Quinoa Stew

Give your regular quinoa salad routine a spicy makeover with this Vegan Cookie Dough Fudge Made With Lentils

| Colorful Cabbage Salad

An avocado-topped colorful veggie salad will be something to look forward to when it’s time for lunch. This detox cabbage and carrot salad comes with a tangy tahini dressing that will satisfy taste buds.

| Cauliflower “”Rice”” Stir-Fry

Don’t become victim to that late-afternoon| post-takeout slump. This paleo-friendly cauliflower “”rice”” stir-fry recipe satisfies your greasiest cravings with fresh produce atop “”rice”” made from cauliflower.

| Asparagus Quinoa Salad

There are a million ways to make a quinoa salad| but this asparagus chard quinoa salad recipe shines with the use of fresh| detoxifying produce and a light vinaigrette. Filling| but not too heavy u2014 perfect for your next office lunch.

| Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

If you’re going low carb and vegan| this Cook a Whole Spaghetti Squash in a Crockpot

| Vegan Chickpea Curry

Change up your midday meal with a light curry that you can make (and eat) the night before. This zucchini chickpea tomato curry recipe will have you excited for leftovers for lunch.

| Vegan Mac and Cheese

If you’re craving a cheesy American classic (without the dairy| of course)| try this vegan mac and cheese. Nutritional yeast and Earth Balance butter make this vegan version a still-delicious take on meals from yesteryear.

| Avocado Pasta

Whether it’s last night’s leftovers or a quick batch you throw together the night before| this creamy avocado pasta will be the perfect vegan meal come midday.

| Chickpea and Hijiki Salad Sandwich

Reminiscent of tuna salad| this vegan chickpea and hijiki salad sandwich from Vegan With a Vengeance contains chickpeas mashed with carrots| apple cider vinegar| vegan mayo| and other tuna salad staples. If you can’t find hijiki| try using another type of seaweed instead.

| Vegan Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are another veggie-filled meal that is supereasy to make. Nutritious fresh vegetables like carrots| cucumbers| and lettuce are the stars| so grab your rice paper and check out 5 High-Protein| Vegan-Friendly Breakfasts

| Vegan Banh Mi

The lemongrass| soy sauce| and garlic-marinated tofu in this Vietnamese sandwich are so flavorful that you won’t miss the meat.

| Asian Sesame Buckwheat Salad

If you’re not getting enough fiber in your diet| buckwheat groats are an ideal addition to your lunch rotation. This vegan buckwheat salad recipe includes tempeh bacon and an Asian sesame dressing for even more flavor.

| Edamame Patu00e9 California Rolls

Have some fun with your lunch with these edamame patu00e9 California rolls. Once you get a hang of rolling| making sushi is a cinch| and a few of these rolls served alongside a salad will keep you full and full of energy.

| Thai Curry Burrito

This recipe has it all u2014 Thai green curry flavors| appetite-suppressing chickpeas| and a dollop of soy yogurt| all wrapped up in an easy-to-eat burrito package. Get the Vegan Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito

| Egg(less) Salad

In curry quinoa burgers for dinner and save a patty for the next day’s lunch.

| Garlic Toast With Mashed Avocado and Salsa Verde Spread

In this recipe| toasted bread rubbed with garlic gets topped with a creamy and subtly spicy mix of avocado (smashed with oil and salt) and ready-made salsa verde.

| Vegan Caesar Salad

No eggs or anchovies here! Instead| this vegan Caesar salad dressing uses flaxseeds| walnuts| dijon mustard| and fresh lemon juice.

| Tahini Salad

Can’t get enough of chickpeas? This hearty vegan tahini salad will keep you full and energized for the rest of the workday.

| Millet Lentil Tomato Salad

When it comes to your grain choice| if you’re in the mood for something a little different| try The Gluten-Free Grain You Should Be Eating

Reach For This Green Smoothie When Dessert Cravings Hit ¡ª?It’s That Good

A dessert craving hits| but you’re trying so incredibly hard to cut back on refined carbs and sugar. And while the occasional cupcake or ice cream cone is good for the soul| it’s probably better for the body to not make dessert a three-times-a-day habit. For those times a sweet treat is needed| bust out your blender for this green smoothie. Don’t be decieved by its uber-healthy hue ¡ª this simple green smoothie tastes just like a gooey caramel apple| but is packed with good-for-you nutrients like iron| potassium| and fiber.

Caramel Apple Smoothie

From Simple Green Smoothies

Caramel Apple Smoothie

Healthy Caramel Apple Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups fresh spinach2 cups almond milk| unsweetened1 Granny Smith apple| cored1 banana4 medjool dates| pitted1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Store-Bought Weight-Loss Snack You Should Be Eating but Aren’t

For many years, beef jerky had a bad rap, but the tide has shifted in its favor. Ever since becoming a preferred snack of Paleo dieters and CrossFit enthusiasts, it’s been reintroduced into the healthy mainstream, and many clean, low-carb eaters looking to shed a few pounds are singing jerky’s praises.

Snacking on jerky in between meals is an ideal way to get protein in your diet, a must if you’re trying to lose weight. One study published in The FASEB Journal shows that in addition to a regular exercise routine, doubling your protein intake may be the key to losing fat pounds without dropping muscle mass. In addition to offering 6.6 grams of protein per piece, beef jerky doesn’t raise your level of insulin, one of the hormones that affects how your body stores fat.

Related: Are Egg Whites Healthier Than Egg Yolks?

With that said, not all jerky is created equally. The best option to ensure your jerky is free of artificial ingredients is to make your own. If you can’t dedicate the kitchen time, just be sure to opt for a brand with all-natural ingredients that’s free of preservatives and nitrates and isn’t too high in sodium. And if you steer clear of beef, turkey jerky is a great option to help you reap these high-protein benefits. Krave Jerky and Epic Bites are two brands we love!

Related: 21 High-Protein Dinners That Won’t Break the Bank

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry

Cut Major Carbs With 11 Veggie Noodle Recipes

Cut Major Carbs With 11 Veggie Noodle Recipes

Swapping out noodles for veggies is all the rage for good reason! It’s an easy technique to cut carbs and bring more nutrition to your plate. Whether you prefer zucchini, spaghetti squash, carrots, or even cauliflower, there’s a veggie-filled recipe on this list that you’ll enjoy.

u2014 Additional reporting by Leta Shy

| Roasted Shrimp Over Spaghetti Squash

If you’re wary of cooking with shellfish

What You Need to Know About Adding Muscle to Your Frame

It seems that getting stronger is on almost everyone’s New Year’s resolution list this year. But just wanting it won’t make it happen. Just going to the gym and lifting weights without a plan won’t necessarily make you stronger either. There are many nuances you’ll need to consider before even getting to the gym. Here are some tried-and-true methods to get you stronger much faster than you ever thought possible!

According to Micah LaCerte, CPT and owner of Hitch Fit, “The only way to get stronger is continuing to add weight to the movements you are doing in the gym.”

But if lifting heavy things alone were the solution, nobody would ever have the dreaded muffin top or arm jiggle. The secret is in how you approach your weight-training efforts. According to trainer Brian Pankau, CPT, you should focus on basic moves and approaches. That means doing simple moves like squats, lunges, chest presses, arm curls, rows, and the like while remembering to “add more weight when the final set for a specific exercise is completed too easily.” The focus should be on hitting every major muscle group in your body with this progressive approach.Related: Are You Using the Right Size Dumbbells?

Now that you know what moves to do and how to increase weight, you need to know about reps and sets. Sure, you could just lift and lift until you’ve exhausted your body, but weightlifting has a simpler and more scientific approach. Your best bet is to focus on doing a few sets of each exercise for about 10 to 12 repetitions, or reps, each. That means you would do each exercise about 30 to 36 times each, but with a 30-to-60-second pause between every set of 10 to 12 reps. This allows your muscles to rest in between sets, so you can get the most out of them every time you lift.

Related: A Video Tutorial on How to Master the Burpee

How do you start? Glad you asked! According to Pankau: “Beginners should always stick to lighter loads while working on proper form and technique for exercises. This develops better training habits in the earlier stages and also increases joint range of motion properly to prevent injuries.”

But that isn’t everything. In fact, LaCerte told us that getting stronger really comes down to two essential factors: proper nutrition in conjunction with planned, progressive weightlifting.

The nutrition part may sound simple, but LaCerte believes that “you need to have a lot of focus on it to stay on track ¡ª when you’re building strength and muscle, you need more calories than when you’re trying to cut weight.” While you may think that the weightlifting aspect is the more complex part of the equation, the truth is that it really comes down to the basic principle of “lifting heavier to get strong, which builds muscle,” according to LaCerte.

Related: Should You Run Before You Lift?

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography/Kat Borchart