We’ve long raved about the health benefits of chia and flaxseeds. Just one spoonful of either comes stocked with nutrients. Flaxseeds are higher in antioxidants than blueberries, and chia seeds are a great source of fiber and protein.
But downing a spoonful of dry seeds doesn’t exactly sounds appetizing. That’s where these simple healthy recipes can help. Flax and chia seeds both make for great baking ingredients, and can usually be used interchangeably. However, if you’re substituting chia seeds for flax, registered dietitian Cheryl Harris recommends using half to 2⁄3 the amount because chia seeds are a “more powerful binder.”
These cookies are so rich in protein, fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants you can eat them for breakfast.
Forget fat- and calorie-loaded Cadbury eggs. These DIY chocolate treats use chia seeds to add nutrition without losing the flavor.
A piping hot bowl of porridge (with flaxseed, cinnamon, applesauce, and fruit) will soothe you on those cold winter mornings.
It’s like apple pie in a glass—but several hundred calories lighter.
A healthy chocolate chip cookie? It exists, thanks to this genius recipe that swaps regular flour for quinoa flour. (Use chia seeds in place of the xanthan gum.)
By swapping oil for chia seed gel, you add omega-3 fatty acids and a subtle crunch to these tasty brownies.
Oats, peanut butter, honey, flaxseeds, and chocolate chips are all you need to make this healthy, addictive treat.
Is it just us, or are running shoes looking wackier these days? We’re not talking about the eye-catching neon and tie-dye color trend—we mean insanely thick padding and Vibrams made of hemp.
It’s not just about appearance when it comes to these new shoes. The shoe companies claim that with the unconventional designs come more benefits, from better running form to reduced injuries. What do you think of these odd-looking shoes? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
1) Hoka One One
Dubbed “clown shoes,” these highly padded shoes have attracted ultra-runners such as local pro Michael Wardian. The design allows runners to feel like they’re on a rocking chair, and despite the size, reviews say the shoe is extremely lightweight. $130 to $170.
2) Vibram CVT Hemp
Described as the “casual cousin” to Vibram’s current CVT LS line, these casual shoes are made with sustainable hemp up top and rubber on the soles. Wearers can push down the backs to wear them as slippers. Available in August for $100.
3) Vasque Ultra SST
Available in March and designed specifically for trail runners, the newest Vasque shoe model is also thick-soled. Vasque has combined the outsole, midsole, and insole into one to provide extra protection from roots and rocks. The laces can be tucked in, too. $170.
Who said the minimalist shoe was dead? On Running’s new Cloud line is fully cushioned but still lightweight. Its unconventional shoelace design also allows you to easily slip the shoe on and off, and the sole is designed with 16 separate cushioned pods to react to every movement. $110.
The Altra Olympus is designed with a foot-shaped toe box that allows you to run trails in a more natural position. Altra designed the shoe in efforts to reduce ankle sprains, stone bruising, overstraining, knee pain, forefoot pain, and impact. $130.
In addition to a massive Ferris wheel, this spring National Harbor will get its own boathouse.
Key Bridge Boathouse announced Wednesday night it will open another location in May at 165 Waterfront Street, Fort Washington. The boathouse, called Boating in DC, will offer rentals for kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and pedal boats.
When it opens, Boating in DC will be Boston Outdoor Recreation’s third area location. In 2013 the company took over Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown and soon after opened a second location at Ball Park Boathouse, the first kayak rental shop on the Anacostia River.
In case you haven’t already been counting down the days since January, the first official day of spring is March 20. But if recent weather is any indication, we’re not expecting springtime temps anytime soon. To keep you warm and toasty until then, we’ve got five workouts for you to try, from hot yoga sessions that feel like you’re in the tropics to a boxing class that lets you relieve your winter-related frustration.
If You Want to Sweat: Hot or Bikram Yoga
Here’s a no-brainer: Try a class designed specifically to make you sweat buckets. Bikram yoga is offered in five locations in Washington, with classes conducted in 105-degree rooms. Some hot yoga classes at CorePower Yoga and Spark Yoga add weights to the mix for even more burn.
If You’re Short on Time: High-Intensity Interval Training
With brief resting periods and quick bursts of intense exercise, HIIT training makes you work up a sweat in no time. Head to Orangetheory Fitness in Fairfax for an all-in-one treadmill/rowing/weights workout or one of the many CrossFit gyms in Washington to really give your muscles a lesson in athleticism.
If You’re Fed Up With Mother Nature: Boxing and/or Kickboxing
If this winter has left you feeling downright angry, head to the nearest punching bag to relieve some aggression. Off Road Cycling offers boxing classes, and you’ll find Washingtonian top personal trainer and kickboxing coach Nino Malong at City Fitness, CrossFit DC, and Balance Gym.
If You Want to Forget About the World: Indoor Cycling
With their dimmed lighting and heart-pumping music, indoor cycling studios offer an easy way to zone out from the everyday for a while. Check out the newest studios in the District, including ZenGo Cycle studio in Logan Circle for a free first class, or Let’s Ride on 14th Street, which shows you how hard you’re really working with its live-tracking system.
Because You Deserve a Reward for Surviving This Winter: A Shake Shack Run
Yes, this involves running outside, but there’s a tasty reward at the finish line: burgers, milkshakes, and fries. The Shack Track and Field club meets the second Tuesday of the month for a three- to five-mile run that ends at the Dupont Circle Shake Shack. No guilt here—you deserve it.
Emily Stein has a lot on her plate these days. She’s the communications director for Routeam, a local tech company that helps professionals improve their health and fitness regimens. She’s a nutrition coach and a yoga instructor. She’s also seven months pregnant.
Before her pregnancy, Stein says she was an avid yogi who mixed in high-intensity-interval-training workouts multiple times a week. Now in her third trimester, she stays fit by walking and doing yoga four days a week.
Her diet has changed little since becoming pregnant, although she admits, “I was a dairy and carb fiend in the first trimester!” She focuses on gluten-free meals loaded with vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and a good dose of protein. Read on to find out how Stein is currently eating for two.
Breakfast: “I always start the day with a big glass of water, flavored with lemon or raw apple-cider vinegar to hydrate and get the digestive juices flowing. Breakfast is a piece of fruit, coffee, and scrambled eggs (which are a great source of brain-boosting choline for pregnant women) with veggies and avocado.”
Lunch: “Leftover curried red lentil and quinoa stew from the last night’s dinner—perfect for a cold, snowy day. This was so yummy I couldn’t wait to dig in before taking a picture.”
Snack: Raw cut veggies with hummus. “At seven months pregnant, I have much less room in my stomach, so I tend to snack more, eating smaller, nutrient-packed meals throughout the day to keep up my energy and feed my growing baby only the good stuff.”
Dinner: Wild sockeye salmon pan-fried in coconut oil. Salad with goat cheese, toasted almonds, cucumbers, and tomatoes, drizzled in homemade Dijon vinaigrette. “This is one of my favorite weeknight dinners. It takes less than 20 minutes to throw together and is full of healthy fats from the fish, nuts, and coconut oil.”
Disclaimer: The Food Diaries series is intended to be inspirational and is not an endorsement of each individual’s diet.
Are you a local health, nutrition, or fitness expert with a love of food? Keep a food diary for us! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Sure, the current weather doesn’t exactly scream, “Bathing suit weather!” But it’s never too early to start getting in shape for summer, right?
In our never-ending pursuit of six-pack abs, we turned to the pros for some advice. While they all say crunches alone won’t result in the flat tummy we so desire, there are certain exercises that can put you on the right track. Read on for exercises that local personal trainers promise will work you to your core.
Bosu-Medicine Ball Spider-Man
Perform for one minute with or without pushup.
Get in plank position, with your hands gripping the Bosu ball and your feet on top of a medicine ball. Slowly bring your right knee to your elbow. Release and repeat on the other side.
This tongue-twister of an exercise is one of Chris Perrin’s favorites. “I love doing core exercises on an unstable environment like a Bosu or Swiss ball,” he says. Doing so targets more of your core muscles “as your body fights to regain stability.”
15 reps for beginners, 30 for intermediate, and 50 for advanced.
“Not only does this exercise work your core,” says personal trainer Errick McAdams, “but it also works as cardio.” Keep your hips low and drive your knees to your chest while keeping your core tight.
3 sets of 10 for 20 breaths each
Chances are your plank form needs some work, says Josef Brandenburg of The Body You Want in Georgetown. Remember, you should feel it in your core, not your neck, shoulders, or lower back. Once all of your joints are aligned, start breathing. Says Brandenburg, “Hold your plank for breaths, not for time.” (Check out our five plank variations to up the ante.)
The Bicycle Crunch
Two to three sets of 20 to 30 reps on each side.
How does Nike personal trainer Deanna Jefferson get those rock-hard abs? The bicycle crunch. “The key to a bicycle crunch is being sure one leg is fully extended and focusing on bringing your shoulder—as opposed to your elbow—toward the opposite knee for the ultimate contraction,” she says. Why it works: It targets all of your core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, which are the deeper ab muscle fibers.
Bonus: The Alphabet
The alphabet is one of our favorite ways to end a workout. Lie on your back and place your arms at your side (for extra support, place your hands under the small of your back). With your legs in the air, trace the entire alphabet (or your full name). As your legs move, it’s your core that will be doing all the work.
Removing meat from your diet may lower blood pressure and therefore reduce your risk of heart disease, according to a new study conducted by a professor at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
In the first meta-analysis of its kind, Dr. Neal Barnard and his team of researchers compared the blood pressure of more than 21,000 people involved in various observational studies and clinical trials. They found that participants who maintained a plant-based diet, from vegan to pescetarian to semi-vegetarian, were associated with lower blood pressure readings.
A healthy person should have a systolic blood pressure less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mmHg—any higher doubles the risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
In the study, vegetarians reported a systolic blood pressure about 7 mmHg lower and diastolic blood pressure 5 mmHg lower than participants who ate meat. The lower blood pressure readings mean huge health benefits: A reduction of 5 mmHg in systolic blood pressure leads to a 9 percent reduced risk of heart disease and a 14 percent reduced risk of stroke.
Why is a vegetarian diet so effective at lowering blood pressure? For one, vegetarians often have lower BMIs compared with omnivores, thanks to the higher fiber intake and lower saturated fat levels of plant-based diets. In addition, vegetarians typically consume a high amount of potassium, which, along with exercise, directly correlates with lower blood pressure.
The findings support the idea that those who suffer from hypertension don’t have to rely solely on medicine, said Barnard in a statement. “Let’s write prescriptions for plant-based foods,” he said. Switching to a plant-based diet promotes healthy side effects, such as weight loss, lower blood pressure, and the presence of good cholesterol, he added.
However, more research is needed to find out whether certain vegetarian diets are more effective in reducing blood pressure than others, researchers noted.
The full study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The Skinny on Diets
If all goes according to plan, nutrition labels will be getting a big makeover, thanks to a proposal issued by the US Food and Drug Administration and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Yesterday the FDA announced its proposal to update the Nutrition Facts label in order to better reflect the latest health and dietary research and allow consumers to make healthier food choices. “You as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” Obama said in her announcement at the White House.
If the proposal gets approved, it would be the first time the labels have been updated since 2006. The Nutrition Facts labels first appeared on food packages 20 years ago.
The proposal is the First Lady’s latest efforts to prioritize healthy eating as part of her Let’s Move! initiative, which recently celebrated its four-year anniversary.
Here are some of the major changes proposed by the FDA:
• Include the number of grams of added sugar
• Increase the font size of number of servings per container and calories. The serving size requirements will be updated to reflect how much people actually eat today.
• Include information about certain nutrients the US population typically does not get enough of in their diets, such as potassium and vitamin D. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required on labels.
• Remove “calories from fat,” as “research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount,” the FDA wrote in its proposal.
The changes will not go into effect immediately. The FDA is accepting public comment on the proposal for the next 90 days.
And the so-called “all-natural” fallout continues. Popchips announced this week it will drop the “all-natural” tagline from its products as part of a $2.4 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit.
It will also stop using the phrases “healthy,” “healthier,” and “low-fat.”
Instead, Popchips will refer to its products as “naturally delicious” chips that use “natural flavors,” according to Food Navigator, which first reported the news.
The settlement, which will undergo a final hearing on March 13, means Popchips customers who purchased the company’s products between January 1, 2007, and November 14, 2013, will each receive Popchips vouchers worth up to $20 or $10 in cash. (You can already submit an online claim form.)
Despite the settlement, the snack company still denies any wrongdoing. Its decision to settle, according to court documents, is “in its best interests” to “avoid further expense, inconvenience, risk, uncertainty, and burden resulting from continued litigation.”
Tonya Kelly, et al v. Popchips, inc. joins a number of recent class-action lawsuits that have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements and removal of all-natural claims from products marketed as healthy. Last year, Naked Juice settled a $9 million class action lawsuit and admitted its bottled juices contained GMO and synthetic ingredients.
As a former dancer, I started my Pure Barre class in Bethesda with an overly confident attitude. For years I had heard about the class and its elusive promise: to give you the body of a dancer without ever busting out a plié or pirouette. A dance-based program that excludes the very moves that make the art so exhausting? Pretty sure I have this.
Ten minutes into the hourlong class, after our instructor and the studio’s owner, Katie Shearin, led us through a quick full-body warmup, my arms were already straining with the effort to hold up two-pound weights to finish an upper-body sequence, as I pondered how this seemingly minuscule weight could give me so much trouble.
The answer lies in Pure Barre’s technical philosophy. Focusing on small, isometric movements rather than high-intensity cardio exercises, each class aims to strengthen four key areas of the body: thighs, abs, arms, and the seat. Each set of exercises is performed on the floor or at the barre for a considerable length of time with the hope of pushing the muscles past the point of fatigue. I still wonder how such small movements managed to be so painful, causing my legs to shake with the intensity of a Jell-O mold.
As we moved from thigh to ab to glute workouts, Katie had us use a variety of tools to help maximize every workout. A small red ball squeezed between the thighs worked both the outer muscles and the glutes, while a band helped us stretch out our aching muscles after each exercise. This strength-then-stretch routine was repeated with every body zone, a practice adapted to help create long, lean muscles.
While I felt the effect of this isometric technique during some exercises, other sections of the class—specifically the abs portion—left me lost. Fitting ourselves under the barre with our back to the wall, Katie had us grab the rail above us and perform a series of pelvis tucks and leg squeezes. I looked around the class, wondering if my tiny movements were correct. Katie informed me they were—but I failed to feel the strain that usually comes with a long set of core exercise.
Still, Pure Barre’s low-impact workout certainly showed results in some areas. Two days after my class, I still felt the strain of raising my hand for a weak high-five. Forget my earlier arrogance; I definitely, at least then, did not “have this.”
Pure Barre Bethesda. 4930 Hampden La., Bethesda; 301-642-2864. First class is $15.