Three Easy Recipes for the New Superfood: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Being both Irish and Polish, the potato is basically my official food item. Some of my fondest memories involve my grandma’s homemade mashed potatoes, where the secret ingredient was roughly three sticks of butter. No one else’s mashed potatoes have ever come close, probably because those levels of saturated fat are borderline illegal in some states.

Suffice to say, I love potatoes. Sweet potatoes? Even better.

Unlike their pale cousin, the sweet potato is something of a superfood. They’re cheap, readily available (especially now) and positively loaded with nutrients. What kinds of nutrients, you say?

Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, the precursor to vitamin A that helps reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers and diminishes signs of aging. Moreover, the natural sugars in sweet potatoes provide a slow release, meaning they’ll help keep you fuller longer. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin D, which is critical for combatting illness and seasonal affect disorder (S.A.D.), especially as the days grow shorter and colder. They also contain magnesium (which helps fight stress), are packed with vitamin C (which in addition to warding off illness can also maintain your skin’s elasticity) and offers a healthy amount of vitamin B6, potassium, iron… you get the picture. Go eat a sweet potato.

Oh, and the other great thing about sweet potatoes? There are a million easy ways to make them.

Microwaved Sweet Potatoes

No oven? No problem.

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

1 paper towel

Wash the sweet potato and puncture a few times with a fork. Wrap it loosely in a paper towel and place it on a microwave dish. Cook on high for 4-5 minutes, turning it halfway through cooking.

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

This is my all-time favorite sweet potato recipe.

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 whole canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped

1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can of peppers

1/2 teaspoon salt

Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add butter to potatoes and mash with potato masher. Add peppers, sauce, and salt and continue mashing to combine. Serve immediately.

(Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/chipotle-smashed-sweet-potatoes-recipe.html)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

This one goes out to the vegetarians.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 28-ounze can diced tomatoes

4 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or 6 cups freshly cooked)

1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 lime, cut into wedges

1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, washed and dried

Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, red pepper, garlic and salt.

Sautee until soft, about four minutes. Add the sweet potato and lime zest, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, continuing to stir occasionally. Add the tomatoes, black beans, jalapeno, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cocoa, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Serve over brown rice, if desired, with lime wedges and cilantro, or with corn bread, chips, etc.

(Source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/black-bean-sweet-potato-chili.html)

Planning on making a sweet potato dish this holiday season? Share with us in the comments!

World Diabetes Day Should Inspire Us All to Live Healthy

World Diabetes Day

Recently I was vacationing with family in Epcot during its food and wine festival. And I’ll admit, I went just a tad crazy sampling all of the local treats. There’s crème brûlée from France, cannoli from Italy, baklava from Greece, and flan from Puerto Rico—and you have to try them all, right!

While occasionally breaking your diet while you’re on vacation can’t do too much harm, eating too many sugary and processed foods can put you at risk for many health complications—including diabetes.

Diabetes—in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin—affects nearly 30 million people in the United States. In addition, another 86 million Americans are living with prediabetes, putting them at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There are two types of diabetes: type 1, which is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and type 2, which is the most common form and most often diagnosed in adults.

People living with diabetes face some serious medical problems: they are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized for a heart attack or stroke; they are more likely to have advanced diabetic retinopathy, which increases their risk for severe vision loss; diabetes causes nearly 50% of all cases of kidney failure; and, more than half of all amputations in adults occur in people with diabetes. However, people with diabetes can reduce their risks of these complications by managing their ABCs – A1C, or average blood glucose, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol.

Shockingly, recent studies show that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050—unless we take action to stop it. World Diabetes Day is coming up on November 14th, and, in the spirit of this day of awareness, let’s all pledge to lead more active, healthy lives!

For more information on American Diabetes Month, check out their website. Want the healthier living scoop from FemmePharma? Check our blog for weekly updates!

Empty Nest? Learn to Love It!

Empty nest Your kids all graduated from high school. They got accepted into a college – maybe even the one of their dreams. They found out who their first roommate was. They packed up their bags and moved – perhaps minutes, or maybe hours, away. And when you get home, the house suddenly seems… emptier than usual. You know your kids will be home for summers, breaks, and holidays, but that doesn’t fill the void of having them with you 24/7. This time period is an adjustment for both parents and children, but it’s not the time to waste any moments moping over the empty nest. Instead, take these tips and enjoy it!

  1. Start a band, learn to knit, become a Pinterest queen. Start that hobby you always dreamed of. Is there a hobby – or an underlying passion – you always wanted to do, but couldn’t fit it in amidst work, grocery shopping, and picking up kids from school? Though work will still take up most of your day, now you have time for YOU after work obligations are taken care of.
  2. Without school schedules to accommodate, now you can take a vacation whenever you want! Search for cheaper flights and hotel rooms, without having to worry that you will return before the kids start school again.
  3. Call your friends who have also joined the Empty Nesters Club. Before, after-school activities may have kept you too busy or too tired; now, you can catch up with old friends!
  4. Treat yourself. Raising just one kid is a tough job. Now that they are (somewhat) on their own, it’s time to pat yourself on the back. Get a massage or a facial. Enjoy some quiet time on a nearby beach. Do whatever you need to do that helps you to finally relax!
  5. In accordance with treating yourself, it’s also important to take care of yourself. With the kids gone, you may feel less obligated to cook proper meals. But, nutrition remains to be a key component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If cooking breakfast for a family of four is no longer an option, try adding whey protein smoothies into your diet. (Check out our great recipes here! They’re easy, and made for an on-the-go lifestyle!) In addition, women over 50 need 1,200 milligrams of Calcium per day – making Femmepharma’s Fab 5 a part of your daily routine, you will ensure that you are on track for your daily nutrients.

When your kids need you, they’ll give you a call. You’ve given them everything they need for the last 18 years; now it’s your time!

Get An “A” For Your Nutrition!

Female College Student

As much as I hate to say this, Labor Day is upon us, meaning summer is coming to a close. For those still in school, that means classes will begin soon enough. Incoming college freshmen are going to have a lot on their plates as they start their first semester away from home. They’ll encounter new people, perhaps share a bedroom with another person for the first time, and be pushed out of the nest.

While this newfound freedom (no parents means no rules, right?!) may be exciting, in practice it can be a tad overwhelming. In addition to the normal pressures that come with academics, many college students are managing their food intake alone – without their parents’ input. Don’t fret – here are some tips to ensure your best nutritional health at your new home!

Don’t skip breakfast. I know that 8:00 am. classes are awfully early, but you know the old adage: breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Skipping breakfast distracts from academic achievement. Without the energy you get from breakfast, you’ll take in less information from your morning classes.

Stock your mini-fridge responsibly. It’s well-known that calcium is important for bone health, but did you know that the average college student needs 1,000 milligrams per day? Luckily for you, calcium-rich items are perfect for the mini-fridge. Where can you get it? An 8-ounce glass of milk has 300 milligrams; an 8-ounce serving of plain, low fat yogurt has 415 milligrams; oatmeal features 105 milligrams in one packet; most cheeses pack 200 milligrams per serving.

Invest in a blender, especially if you’re an on-the-go student. Grab a packet of Femmepharma’s Whey Protein Powder, then add in some fruit or yogurt. In minutes, you’ll have a protein-packed breakfast you can enjoy on your way to class!

Take supplemental vitamins to make up areas where you’re lacking. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your schedule gets too packed, and eating properly falls by the wayside. Taking a pack of vitamins, like Femmepharma’s Fab 5 featuring B-Complex, Calcium, Omega-3, Vitamin D, and a probiotic, will give you everything you need!

Choose wisely in the dining hall. While it’s tempting to have french fries every day, limit yourself to make them an occasional treat. Pick grilled items over fried, and put something green and leafy on your sandwiches. If you must snack, then you should snack responsibly with a handful of almonds (80 mg. of calcium) or an orange (60 mg. of calcium).

Think before you drink. Water is key, and you should have 1,500 milliliters a day. And, it’s important for those who are 21 and over to remember: there are no nutritional calories in alcohol.

Want more help? Take Femmepharma’s Nutritional Assessment and discover where you stand with your nutritional health!

Your Desk Job is Trying to Kill You, So Here are Four Exercise to Fight Back

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I recently started a job where we have adjustable desks instead of standard sit-down desks. That means that with the turn of a crank, I can raise my desk and do my work standing up. When I first learned about this, I was like, “Yeah! I’m gonna stand all day, and laugh in the face of an early death!”

About three hours into my first foray of standing while working, my feet were sore and I was shifting uncomfortably to the extent that I couldn’t concentrate. I admitted defeat and sadly lowered my desk down into its original position.

I’m not sure if the most depressing part of this story is that I’ve been conditioned to be sedentary for a solid nine hours, or the fact that I’m OK with that. Believe me, I understand that there are real perils of leading a sedentary lifestyle. According to the Journal of Preventative Medicine, women who sit for long stretches of time increase their odds of an untimely death. That includes all time spent driving, sitting on your couch and laying down are literally contributing to your demise. Here’s the scary part: even if you exercise regularly, you can still shorten your lifespan by sitting too much.

So basically, when you have a hellishly stressful day at your desk job and just want to come home and Netflix the X-FIles for the rest of your evening, you’re putting yourself in an early grave. Lovely.

But there’s hope yet! These four exercises are easy to do at work, and will give you something to do other than sitting.

Calf raises: Stand up and raise your heels until you’re balancing on the balls of your feet. Hold it for a few seconds, then ease yourself back down. Repeat several times, and you’ll help increase blood flow AND build your calve muscles.

Stretching: For a chest stretch, reach your arms back like you’re trying to hold a pencil between your shoulder blades. To stretch your neck, touch your ear to your shoulder and hold it there. To stretch your back, place your hands on your hips and lean forward.

Desk push-ups: Push-ups at work? Why not? Face your desk and place your hands shoulder length apart. Walk your feet away from your desk while maintaining a tight core and a straight back. Then lower yourself down and back up again.

Spine Twist: Sit up straight with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your chin in line with your chest, rotate your ribcage to the left, take a breath, then stretch further. Repeat on your other side.

To really enjoy the benefits of exercising, you need to give yourself the proper fuel. Don’t just mindlessly scarf down some fast food at lunch time – keep a healthy diet of proteins and vegetables to stay motivated. Whey protein is an awesome supplement with a million different uses, perfect for those of us with busy work schedules. Get your whey protein and other vital supplements in the Femme Pharma online store by clicking here.

Do you sit at a desk all day? And if so, how do you stay active? Tell us in the comments section!

Spa Day Takes Care of Both Inside & Outside

SpaDayLadies
Photo by Currie Day Spa, Wayne PA

Let’s face it — some women have intense beauty rituals. Plucking, and tweezing. Shaving and waxing. (Epilation to the max) Cutting hair and dying hair. Scrubbing and exfoliating. Applying makeup. You know it’s true; we’re fixated on beautifying our exteriors. But are we paying attention to what’s ingested? It does take its toll. (Ugly on the inside, like the Portrait of Dorian Gray)

Spa Day, on July 10th, aimed to encourage women to re-think their overall health and wellness to reinforce the beautifying of the hair skin and nails. Hosted at Currie Day Spa in Wayne, patrons made appointments at the salon and Femmepharma provided free consultations with one of its nutritionists. Clients were provided free health assessments posing questions about their daily activities, nutrition, and goals to improve wellness.

Women inquired about a wide variety of health issues. How do you get enough sleep and have enough energy for a hectic workday? What foods provide a balanced diet? When entering college, how do you adjust to a new eating schedule? What vitamins should you be taking and what do they really do for your body?

After speaking with our nutritionists and learning something new, women sampled Femmepharma Whey Protein smoothies – vanilla, tropical, and chocolate cherry. The benefits of whey protein include supporting a healthy immune system and helping to build lean muscle mass, and, when combined with your favorite fruits, yogurts and/or milk, tastes great, too! The Femmepharma whey is a low calorie, gluten free, high protein supplement for women. It’s not designed for “bulking up” but it is designed to help you with weight management. Women loved the fact it’s individually packaged making it easy to take it with you wherever your day leads you.

At Spa Day, women learned something new about their daily nutrition, and the Femmepharma Whey will be their new “way” of doing something good for their bodies every day. Whey, pluck, tweeze, shave, scrub… repeat.

It’s not too late for you to assess your health! Femmepharma’s FREE nutrition questionnaire is still available online for those who were unable to hang out on Spa Day.

These Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer

medicinal marijuana

When I was in highschool, I discovered Dazed and Confused, a 1993 film that follows high school students on their last day of school. (Though I loved it at the time, I cannot for the life of me remember any real plot – I believe the characters just smoked pot, wore bell bottoms, and said, Duuuuuuude for ninety minutes.) I can only imagine what Matthew McConaughey’s character would think of 2014 – a time in which marijuana law reform is a hot button issue, it’s legalized in two states (Colorado and Washington), it is decriminalized in sixteen others (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont), and seemingly legalization will reach the rest of the United States in due time.

Currently, there’s a lot of debate on the legalization of marijuana. Should it be regulated, just like cigarettes and alcohol? Is it safe to use? Can the United States capitalize on this large cash crop, creating jobs and boosting the economy? Does the criminalization of marijuana disproportionately affect certain groups of people?

While state lawmakers are weighing the pros and cons of the legalization experiment, it is the responsibility of the people to stay informed on safety regarding marijuana use. After all, in a study conducted by Pew Research Center this past February, 75% of Americans believe that it is a matter of when, not if, the legalization of marijuana will be brought to every state. Though most Americans believe pot to be the least harmful of illicit drugs, that may not necessarily be the case. Here are some things to keep in mind regarding the use of marijuana:

  • Some marijuana has high levels of potency with the substance tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Producers create marijuana with these high levels of THC to sell smaller volumes for higher prices; however, high levels of THC can lead to cardiovascular disease. (States with legalized marijuana would regulate the levels of THC in produced marijuana.)
  • Like smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana can have adverse effects on your lungs.
  • And, just like alcohol use, weed can cause memory impairment and poor cognitive performance.

In Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana, crime is down, $10.8 million from taxes in flowing into the state’s economy, and an estimated 2,000 cannabis-related jobs have been created. Is the legalization of weed truly the future? When the legalization of marijuana gets to Pennsylvania (whenever that is!), ensure that you keep these tidbits in mind to stay in best health.

Five Reasons You Need Fish Oil in Your Life

gel capsules

Five Reasons You Need Fish Oil in Your Life
By Kristen Dunleavy

My parents have always been avid vitamin-takers, so I was only a little surprised when I saw bottles of fish oil appear on our kitchen table as a kid. Well, surprised and vaguely disgusted. Why would anyone ever want to consume concentrated fish…stuff? And then burp up said fishiness. Seriously, blargh.

It wasn’t until recently that I even understood what fish oil was and what it does. Basically, it’s jam-packed with omega-3s for the people who can’t stomach stuff like anchovies or flaxseeds. It’s in a lot of fatty fish (including tuna, salmon and mackerel) and nuts (walnuts, pine nuts and pecans) but again, we can’t all realistically eat these things on a regular basis. And that’s where fish oil comes in.

So what’s the big deal about all these omega-3s in fish oil? Here are five major benefits of the supplement.

1. Live longer: No joke, omega-3 supplements can actually help slow down the body’s aging process. As we age, a type of DNA segment called telomeres found in white blood cells shorten as the result of aging. When that happens, DNA can unravel and cause cell damage. Omega-3s help lengthen telomeres, thus helping us live longer. Fish oil: the fountain of youth!

2. Lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s: Ok, that’s actually a bunch of benefits rolled into one. But as a result of helping us live longer, omega-3s can potentially put the kibosh on diseases associated with aging. That’s also because omega-3s are great at reducing inflammation, which is major attribute of many of these diseases too.

3. Feed your brain: DHA (or docosahexaenoic acid, if you want to attempt to pronounce that) is an omega-3 acid that plays a key role in brain health throughout your life. Some studies have shown that mothers who took fish oil during pregnancy had children with significantly higher hand-eye coordination than the children of mothers who didn’t take fish oil. DHA can also ward off cognitive diseases later in life.

4. Increased metabolic rate: Since omega-3s are rockstars at improving cell health, folks who take fish oil have improved nutrient delivery. Though not yet proven, there’s an excellent chance that the omega-3s in fish oil can speed up your metabolic rate as well.

5. Enhanced immune function: Omega-3s and white blood cells are BFFs. Because omega-3s support white blood cell functions (which just so happen to be key cells in your immune system) you get the benefit of enhanced immune health – and that means less sick days, more beach days. Score!

Want to try fish oil for yourself? You’re in luck! FemmePharma has the supplements at just $5.99 a pop! Get yours here.

Do you take fish oil regularly? Tell us in the comments section!

Why Whey?

FemmePharma Chocolate & Vanilla Whey Shakes

When I think about protein, the first thing that comes to mind is a chalky-tasting shake with some alleged vanilla artificial flavoring that one is supposed to chug shortly after pumping iron while grunting loudly in front of the mirror in a local gym. Perhaps a sweaty selfie is thrown in for good measure, just to make sure the universe is aware of your fitness humblebrag.

I honestly don’t think about how much protein I need on a daily basis, and apparently I’m not alone. In a recent survey by Luna, 50 percent of women ages 18-50 didn’t know if they were getting enough protein in their diet. The amount of protein you need depends completely on your weight and lifestyle. Unfortunately (for people like me anyway), it depends on a bit of math, too. Here’s how to figure out how much protein you really need:

  1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
  2.  Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.

If you’re in good health and mostly sedentary, use a lower number on the scale between 1 and 1.8. If you’re under stress, pregnant or involved in consistent, high-impact weight training, you’ll want to choose a higher number on that scale.

Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues. Your protein synthesis, or production of protein, must be greater than the destruction of those tissues that occurs when those tissues are breaking down – or when you exercise, for example.

Many women THINK they’re getting enough protein, but really most women need between 50 and 60 grams a day, or about 30 grams per meal. In addition to being pretty clueless about this, I also wrongly assumed that protein in these quantities would turn me into the bulked-up, shake-chugging meathead I mentioned earlier. Not so! But if you’re still paranoid, there IS an easy, low-calorie alternative way… Whey!

While protein is in a lot of delicious things, such as peanut butter, there is often a lot of fat that comes along with it (in this case, a whopping 18 grams). But whey protein is a whole different ballgame. It’s fat-free, filling and is absorbed by your body more quickly and easily than traditional protein sources.

Whey itself is a derivative of cow milk and is a great daily alternative for those in need of a leaner source of protein. You can scoop some into your oatmeal, throw it into a smoothie or yogurt, or even add it to a soup or pasta sauce. There are also whey protein bars out there that provide a fast meal on-the-go – or for those of us who are culinarily challenged.

So there you have it. Where this is a will, there is a whey!

FemmePharma’s whey protein dietary supplements are on sale now! Get yours today.