Power Up with Probiotics

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Bowl of kimchiGut health is one of the hot topics in nutrition research right now. It turns out, the bacteria that take up residence in your belly may play a significant role in wellness. Indeed, studies have found a healthy gut can support your immune system and shows promise in decreasing risk for colon cancer, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.

Although research is still in the works, one thing is certain: when it comes to good bacteria, strength comes in numbers. With that in mind, here are three types of food you can add to your diet to boost beneficial bacteria.

Load Up on Fiber

Good bacteria feast on fiber and need it for survival. Aim for a diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes. The Bulk Department and Produce Department at Sprouts are great places to start.

Minimize Processed Food

This is just one more reason to eat a real-food diet. Some research has shown that certain additives, such as artificial sweeteners, can alter gut bacteria. Plus, a diet of processed food probably means you’re not getting enough fiber to help those healthy bacteria thrive.

Include Probiotic Foods

Seek out foods that are naturally rich in good bacteria, otherwise known as probiotics. These include:

  • Fermented Vegetables – Products such as Farmhouse Culture Kimchi or Wild Brine Kraut add flavor to the plate along with good-for-you bacteria.
  • Yogurt – Yogurt is inoculated with two primary strains of bacteria, which is what gives it that pleasingly tangy flavor.
  • Kefir – Another probiotic-rich option in the dairy aisle that’s similar in consistency to drinkable yogurt.
  • Miso & Tempeh – These two ingredients are derived from fermented soy and one more way to work good bacteria into your diet.
  • Probiotic Supplements – In addition to food sources, a probiotic supplement is another option for upping your intake.

Katie Morford of Mom's Kitchen Handbook

About Katie Morford

Katie Morford is a writer, cookbook author, registered dietitian and mother of three. She has published two cookbooks, Rise & Shine (Roost Books, 2016) and Best Lunch Box Ever (Chronicle Books, 2013). Her work has been featured in Cooking Light, Oprah, Real Simple, Bon Appetit, Parents, Redbook, the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the voice behind the award-nominated blog Mom’s Kitchen Handbook: Raising Fresh-Food Kids in a French-Fried World and blogs regularly on the Huffington Post. She lives with her husband and three daughters in San Francisco.

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37 Staples for a Diabetes-Friendly Pantry

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Whether you have diabetes, or a loved one that does, it can be an intimidating disease to manage if you’re not prepared. Stocking a diabetesfriendly pantry is key for balancing blood sugars and living a healthy life.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

From balancing blood sugars, to medications, to making sure you’re counting those carbohydrates correctly, it can feel like a lot. Whether it’s type 1, type 2, gestational, LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults) or one of the other types of diabetes, there are some central themes to nutrition management for any type of diabetes.

Having a grocery store like Sprouts close by is a huge blessing to anyone looking to manage their diabetes. Not only do they offer inexpensive pantry staples, perfect for someone looking to stock a diabetes friendly pantry, but they also educate and train their staff to be able to answer general questions you may have about the products they sell.

Stocking a Diabetes-Friendly Pantry

I’ve got 37 staples for stocking a diabetes-friendly pantry that will make life easier and more efficient. Make sure to check out your local Sprouts for these items!

Oils, Vinegars and Condiments

Oil, vinegar and condiments are a great way to add flavor and depth to an otherwise bland dish—without adding carbohydrates, sodium or preservatives—but you have to know which ones to pick.

Avocado oil and grapeseed oil, are two versatile oils. They’re great for high-heat cooking and both have a smoke point of at least 450°F. Extra virgin olive oil is great for homemade salad dressings and marinades for lower-heat cooking. All three oils offer those good fats recommended for people with diabetes.

Balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar are great to have on hand for homemade salad dressings and marinades. Some preliminary research has also shown vinegar to be effective in managing post-meal blood sugar levels.

When shopping for condiments, try looking for avocado oil mayonnaise, unsweetened ketchup, lowsodium mustard and salsa, as well as low-sodium tomato sauce and vegetable broth.

Spices and Little Extras

Diabetes and hypertension are often diagnosed simultaneously. It’s important to keep sodium low when cooking, salt-free spice blends are a great way to do that.

Pickles, olives and sun-dried tomatoes are low-carb (though some are high in sodium) options when your blood sugar may be high or medications warrant a lower-carb snack.

Grains, Cereals and Breads

Quinoa can be a nutritious rice replacement. It has more fiber and protein making it less likely to spike blood sugar levels. 

Pasta is hard for many diabetics. It usually results in a blood sugar spike, even with whole-wheat varieties. Bean-based pastas are ideal for diabetics offering more protein and fiber than traditional pastas.

Steel cut oats and barley are other higher-fiber, lower-glycemic grain options.

Higher-fiber grains like popcorn, high-fiber cereals, whole-grain crackers and low-sugar granola make great snack options when paired with a protein or fat source.

Sandwich rounds are perfect for making sandwiches. Most varieties are thinner than traditional sandwich bread making them more blood sugar friendly.

Beans and Legumes

Canned beans and lentils offer plant-based protein and fiber, and are great for diabetes-friendly meatless meals. Make sure to look for lower-sodium options.

37 Staples for a Diabetes-Friendly PantryNuts, Nut Butter and Seeds

Almonds and walnuts are both higher in omega-3s than other nuts and make for great snack options for diabetics.

Pistachios, though not as high in omega-3s, are one of the lowest calorie nuts making them better for weight management.

Both peanut butter and almond butter offer healthy fats and protein—great for topping toast or adding to a yogurt bowl.

Some research has shown, pumpkin seeds are effective in lowering blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes. One theory suggests their high magnesium content may be responsible for this.

Chia seeds and hemp seeds are high in fiber and protein. They’re great for adding a little crunch to everything from yogurt bowls to salads and baked goods.

Shelf-Stable Protein

Canned tuna is great for making quick, protein-rich lunches. Make sure to look for varieties packed in water and low in sodium.

Low Blood Sugar Treatment Options

Unsweetened apple sauce and no-added-sugar juice boxes are perfect shelf-stable, low blood sugar treatment options to keep on hand. Glucose tabs, while effective, are not the most appetizing things, nor are they easy to eat. Apple sauce and juice are easy to consume and raise blood sugars quickly.

 

Influencer - Mary Ellen - Milk & Honey Nutrition

About Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, is the Registered Dietitian, mom, food blogger, and recipe developer behind milkandhoneynutrition.com. She’s also a type 1 diabetic and firmly believes food should bring us joy, not stress. Mary Ellen makes healthy eating easy, realistic, and most importantly … fun! Visit her website and you’ll find yummy low-sugar, diabetes-friendly recipes the whole family will love … as well as helpful tips, and a little mom humor.

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Destress with Ashwagandha

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2018 1031 Destress with Ashwaganda

Looking for a natural way to handle stress? Ashwagandha is your herb! It has been used for centuries to promote mental and physical health. With holidays right around the corner, look to this energy-restoring herb to help support both mental and physical health.

Its Latin name is Withania somnifera, but ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, and is part of the nightshade family. Taken from the root, ashwagandha has been used for centuries in the traditional Indian medical practice known as Ayurveda.

Combating Stress

An adaptogen, ashwagandha acts as a stress reliever and balancer. Adaptogens are known to increase the body’s resistance to stress and exert a positive effect on the various systems, including immune, nervous and cardiovascular function.

Immune & Adrenal Support

The holiday season is known for increasing stress levels and time spent with large groups of people, both contributors that can lead to the unfortunate side effect of sickness. That’s why it’s important that your immune system be at its best!

Ashwagandha is particularly helpful in lowering your stress levels and helping balance your immune system by supporting the body’s ability to fight off stress and sickness. When your body is in balance, your adrenals can respond more effectively to create a healthier stress response to a hectic holiday season.

Did you know? The Sanskrit word ashwagandha is a combination of ashva, meaning horse, and gandha, meaning smell, and refers to the strong smell of the plant’s root.

Help Shorten Cold & Flu Symptoms

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Colorful, tasty and beneficial for the body, the European elder tree is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. The flowers are white with green berries that turn red, then black when fully ripe. Both berries and flowers have been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat digestive disorders, influenza, colds, sinusitis and other allergy symptoms.
Bunches of elderberries on light wood

A Concentrated Antioxidant

Elderberries are a concentrated source of two antioxidants: quercetin and anthocyanin. These powerful antioxidants enhance the body’s immune response by increasing the production of cytokines. Cytokines are the immune system’s messengers, helping to regulate the body’s response to disease, inflammation and infection. The high antioxidant capacity in elderberries neutralizes harmful free radicals and protects the body against illness and disease.

Excellent Source of Vitamins A and C

Elderberries are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, which is part of what makes it a great addition to your wellness routine. Vitamin A helps with the formation of white blood cells essential to your body’s defense against illness. Together, they make an outstanding one-two punch to assist in warding off those pesky bugs that make the rounds this season.

Enhancing Immunity Quickens Recovery

Elderberry’s high antioxidants, as well as its high content of vitamins A and C are compelling reasons to try elderberry next time you feel you might be fighting a bug.


Did you know? Elderberry significantly more antioxidant capacity than either blueberries or cranberries.


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i Eur Cytokine Netw. 2001 Apr-Jun;12 (2):290-6.

Superfood Holiday Drinks

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CRANBERRY LIME SPRITZER GOLDEN MILK NOG AND Superfood WassailWhat are your holiday plans this year? We’re keeping things fairly low-key—no fancy dress-up parties to attend, and no traveling. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t celebrating! We’re home for the holidays this year, so we’re doing everything we can to make them special. Click the button below to learn how to make three of Emily’s favorite holiday drinks.

Cranberry Lime Spritzer

First up is this Cranberry Lime Spritzer. It’s a sparkly little mocktail that’s naturally sweetened (no added sugar!) and tastes amazing. It’s the perfect blend of tart, sweet and sparkle. We do a dinner of appetizers and finger foods Christmas Eve, and I’m already planning to serve this with it. It’d also be fabulous for New Year’s Eve to toast in the New Year with little ones, or for any of the many holiday parties throughout the season.

Golden Milk Nog

This is a healthier take on holiday eggnog. This one is completely vegan, lower in calories, naturally sweetened and comes with an extra nutrient boost! I’ve combined it with another favorite drink—golden milk. I’ve taken the best of both drinks and blended them into something really delicious. You can enjoy this warm or cold, and it’s the perfect little something to sip this season.

Superfood Wassail

Wassail is one of the most popular holiday drinks out there. This mulled cider is dressed up with festive spices and a little secret boost from greens. Keep it warm on the stove (or pop it in your slow cooker!) to greet you after playing in the snow, for sipping while wrapping presents or cuddling up in front of a fire.

Holiday Drink Recipes


Emily of One Lovely Life

About Emily

Emily lives, loves and cooks at One Lovely Life, where she shares healthy recipes and inspiration for living a happy, full life. When her daughter developed an intolerance to gluten and dairy, her blog shifted to accommodate their new eating style, and these days you’ll find fresh, vibrant, colorful recipes that don’t feel like they’re missing anything. In addition to enjoying healthy meal choices on her blog, you’ll find made-over sweet treats, book recommendations and tips for living a life you love.
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Your Wellness Season

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Reclaim the winter season as your wellness season with these herbal remedies! Here are a few tips to help strengthen your system for the season as well as fight back when a cold or flu strikes.

Astragalus flowers

Prepare Your Immune System

There’s nothing like the sudden arrival of cold symptoms that sends us on a focused mission to boost our immune system. It is all too easy to forget the importance of strengthening the body’s defenses before sickness strikes.

While tending to your immune system at any time never hurts, you will thank yourself for doing it sooner rather than later. Echinacea is a great way to start. Studies show it can support your immune function by helping to stimulate white blood cells. Find out more about this immune-strengthening herb!

Echinacea Meadow

Support Your Immune System

Using adaptogens during the hectic cold and flu season is a great way to help your immune system. Adaptogens are part of a special group of healing plants that help to balance, protect and restore the body. From a member of the pea family, the adaptogen astragalus is taken from the root of the plant. It can boost your immunity as well as potentially buffer the effects of stress—making it a great addition to your holiday health routine!

Not All Bugs Are the Same

Ever thought you’ve caught your cold for the season, only to be hit with a new one? Different colds lend themselves to different symptoms. Some bugs leave you with a dry, scratchy throat while others leave you with a wet, runny nose. Along with echinacea and astragalus, try out these beneficial herbs to help support the respiratory system:

“Wet” Bugs (Cough with mucus):

  • Black cherry bark
  • Osha
  • Lobelia

“Dry” Bugs (Scratchy, irritated cough):

  • Marshmallow root
  • Slippery elm
  • Mullein

Remember too, one of the easiest preventative steps you can take this season is simply to wash your hands often and keep them away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Sprouts wants you to feel well this fall, winter and all year-round!

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Top 10 Vegan Products at Sprouts

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Top 10 Vegan Products at Sprouts headerSprouts is a vegan’s paradise! There are TONS of options to stock up your fridge and pantry to make eating vegan a breeze. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Fruit & Veggies

Sprouts has the best, freshest produce at a great price. Double Ad Wednesdays make saving money on a variety of produce even easier!

2. Bulk Nuts, Seeds, Granola & More

The bulk section of sprouts is a lifesaver! There are endless options here. You can find any nut or seed you can think of, tons of delicious granola mixes, oats, flours, beans and more—all at an affordable price.

3. Vegan Protein Powder

I like to add protein powder to my smoothies and baking for an extra nutritional boost! Sprouts has all different kinds of vegan protein powders – from soy protein, to pea protein, to rice protein—you can find the perfect vegan protein powder to fit your taste buds and preferences.

4. Vegan Chocolate

My personal favorite is Lily’s sugar-free chocolate (chocolate bars AND chocolate chips), but there are a few other vegan chocolate and chocolate chip options at Sprouts. They are all delicious (and you will never be able to tell that they are vegan!)

5. Plant-Based Milks & Coffee Creamers

Sprouts has a huge selection of plant-based milks—almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, soy milk and more. Plant-based milks are the perfect dairy-free alternative to regular milk in smoothies, cereal, oatmeal, and any other recipe that calls for milk. They also have a great selection of coffee creamers that turn your cup of joe into a delicious, decadent treat.

6. Vegan Cheese

You can find tons of vegan cheeses at Sprouts—sliced, blocks, and shredded. They have vegan mozzarella, Gouda, cream cheese and more!

7. Tofu & Tofu Products

Tofu is a staple of mine, and I use it in tons of recipes. Sprouts has many different varieties of tofu in the dairy section.

8. Meat Alternatives

Veggie burgers, vegan chicken patties, vegan sausages, vegan bacon—Sprouts has it all! These make whipping up a hearty, comfort-food meal simple and delicious.

9. Vegan Marshmallows

When I learned that I could still have marshmallows as a vegan, I was ecstatic! Dandies marshmallows can be found in the Sprouts baking aisle and are the perfect, vegan marshmallow alternative that are exactly like regular marshmallows. Great for baking, making vegan hot chocolate, and just snacking on straight from the bag!

10. Crackers & Chips

Sprouts has the BEST selection of crackers and chips! I like the Sprouts Brand Golden Round crackers to pair with hummus and their Blue Corn Tortilla Chips are my absolute favorite! Perfect for snacking with salsa or guacamole.

 

Portrait of Veg Annie

Annie Markowitz is the blogger behind VegAnnie.com

Annie is a weight-loss expert, wellness coach and cookbook author with a PhD in Nutrition from the University of Texas at Austin. She is also the creator and founder of the popular plant-based recipe website, www.VegAnnie.com. Annie has lost over 75 pounds in a balanced, self-loving kind of way, and helps her clients break free from the cycle of overeating and chronic dieting to help them achieve their health and wellness goals! She believes that true health and happiness begins with what is on your plate, and she is passionate about showing others how eating clean, wholesome foods can be delicious, fun and exciting! Her recipes are simple to prepare, budget-friendly and always free of artificial ingredients.

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Regenerative Agriculture

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Farmer on Tractor Regenerative Agriculture 640x640Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming that works to progressively improve the soil, water and the environment. These farming methods can help take CO2, a powerful greenhouse gas, out of the atmosphere and put it back where it can do the most good—under our feet—and that’s where this story begins, with soil.

Carbon Sequestration

Green plants naturally take carbon out of the air as part of photosynthesis and turn it into simple sugars. The sugars are exuded from the plant’s roots into the ground, where it feeds microorganisms that live around the root base. Those microorganisms use the carbon-based sugars to build topsoil—capturing, or sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. When a thin layer of compost is added to this system, it sets up a cycle where the plants are able to capture more and more carbon each year.

Cover Crops

Thoughtfully planted between other crops, cover crops can help to remedy soil shortcomings, keep weeds down, retain water and enrich the soil. This means the next crop will require less fertilizer, have a greater tolerance to drought and yield more. Another big plus to cover crops is they help to manage soil erosion.

No Till

Tilling the soil can lead to soil erosion, kill off the microorganisms necessary for healthy soil, encourage weed growth and can pack the soil making it harder for a crop to grow. Not tilling helps to create long-term soil fertility—organic soil that’s not tilled holds nutrients like a sponge, helping to create nutrient-rich food.

Regenerative Organic Certified logoComing soon …

Be prepared to start seeing more of this logo in the future. This certification will be used in tandem with the USDA Organic seal. The pilot program companies already produce USDA Certified Organic goods. Working towards Regenerative Organic Certification, they will be utilizing the additional regenerative agriculture practices of soil health and land management, as well as animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness practices.

At-Home Food Rescue

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There are lots of ways waste less food. Composting is perfect for inedible food scraps like potato peels, or for those things that are beyond reviving. Both meal planning and meal prep can help you make sure you use the groceries you’ve purchased. Here are some more tidbits to tuck under your chef’s hat to help you maximize food use and minimize food waste.

Day-old bread?

No problem! Over a shallow pan, break your leftover bread into crumbs and allow to dry further. Mix in savory herbs and use in fish or crab cakes, or on top of baked mac and cheese. You can easily make homemade croutons too. Cut bread into chunks, mix melted butter with garlic (fresh or dried), parmesan, salt and pepper (or whatever your favorite spices are), pour over the bread, and bake at 350°F until they’re golden and crunchy. Allow to cool and freeze or store in an airtight container. A French toast bake is another great way to use leftover bread.

Culinary Crisis

Before you relegate some of those kitchen mishaps into the trash, try some of these handy tips. Burned the dinner? Remove the beans or stew from the heat, scoop the uncharred part of the meal into a new container and cover with a damp cloth for 10 minutes. This will help remove most of the burnt flavor. Over salted the soup? Try plopping a whole, raw, peeled potato in the pot of soup to absorb some of the salt. (Remove the potato before serving the soup.) Overcooked the veggies? Try puréeing the overdone veggies, adding some broth and turning the disappointment into delightful soup!

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Revive

Floppy carrots, bendy broccoli or limp celery? (I loved this, made me laugh!) You can revive many vegetables by soaking them in ice water for 5–10 minutes. Still lifeless? Go ahead and use them in a cooked dish—they’re still delish! Wrinkly tomatoes can be roughly chopped, sautéed in olive oil with salt, pepper and garlic, then served on pasta for a great meal in minutes!

Your Kitchen Time Machine

Your freezer is the perfect time machine for food, especially when you freeze in portions. Just remember to leave room for expansion on the more liquid foods like soups. Keep in mind too, that less air in the container or bag means less oxidation which will help you avoid freezer burn. Heading out of town? Try freezing anything you can and give what you can’t freeze to a neighbor or friend. And here is a really surprising tip, you can freeze eggs (though not in the shell)!

Check out our Waste Less Tips for eight more great ways to rescue food in your own kitchen.

Did you know? Food rescue is the practice of taking edible food, that might otherwise go to waste, from places like grocery stores and distributing it to local hunger relief agencies. We do this at all our stores and have donated more than 43 million pounds of food to local agencies since 2013. What can’t go to our food rescue partners gets diverted to feed cattle—25 million pounds of it! And, we’ve composted 5 million pounds of food scraps to help enrich the soil.

Mindful Consumption: Recycling

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Recycling seems pretty simple. But did you know things like cleanliness and contamination play into the whole system? To help you become a model recycler, we’ll be answering questions like, how clean is clean? And, can those plastic windows in envelopes be included with the paper?


Does recycling really matter? Yes! Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for two hours, or a laptop for three hours or light a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours.


Containers

Is it really true that if you don’t clean your plastic, glass or can you ruin it for all the other recycles? Yes and no. If there are still a few schmears of mayo in the jar after you’ve rinsed it out, no harm done. But if the container has not been rinsed at all and/or contains leftover food or liquids, yes, it could contaminate other materials, especially in places that have a single-stream system.

Consider this: An unrinsed food jar could come open or break somewhere in the process. If it gets on paper and cardboard recyclables, they’ll be ruined. You don’t have to spotlessly clean plastics and glass with soap and water, just rinse them so little to no food is left in them. And let them dry too. Wet containers with paper and cardboard aren’t a good combo—soggy items can contaminate a whole bundle of paper products.

Paper

Crumpled paper, newspaper and cardboard are a-okay. Shredded however, in most cases, is not. You can use it in your compost pile as a brown/carbon. As for those pesky plastic windows in paper envelopes? It’s best to remove them before adding the envelope to the recycle bin. (Don’t worry if there is a little sliver of plastic that hangs on.) And unless you can completely separate the paper part of a bubble-wrap mailer from the plastic, those shipping envelopes will need to be reused or thrown in the garbage.

Mindful Consumption: recycling

Wishcycling

When you toss something in the recycling bin that you hope is recyclable, but aren’t sure, you’re wishcycling. The trouble with this practice is, if what you’re adding to the recycles truly isn’t recyclable, you run the risk turning vast amounts of potentially recyclable material into trash or at the very least, bringing the process to a halt at the recycling center. Keep in mind, just because something has the chasing arrows symbol on it does not mean it can go in the bin with everything else. Boost your eco-savvy by checking with your local municipality for the rules as to what can be collected in your area.

Plastic Bags

Most recycling programs will not take plastic bags, even if it has the recycling logo on it. At Sprouts, we have containers at the front of every store where plastic bags can be recycled. Last year, our customers returned 22 million plastic bags to us, so we could recycle them for you. We also recycled 850,000 pounds of our own mixed recyclables including paper, plastic, aluminum and glass, as well as 80 million pounds of cardboard—that’s equivalent to 450,000 trees!


Did you know? It’s possible to turn an aluminum can into another aluminum product in as little as 60 days!