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FEED YOUR BRAIN is our phrase for everything we do to inspire and enable a healthier generation through learning and information. In our stores, we have Feed Your Brain menus, Feed Your Brain wallpaper and now we have our first online example – our Feed Your Brain blog!

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>The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

Running Shoes and OJ

If you’re like most, when you think of exercise, you picture running on a treadmill in a dark, crowded gym. Now that the weather is warming up, there’s a better option. Plenty of people exercise outside. In fact, there are numerous benefits to taking your workout to the park, beach, field or street.

 

> Vitamin D3 – When the sun hits your skin, it creates a chemical reaction, converting a prohormone in your skin into vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for your body to absorb calcium to increase bone density, keep the immune system healthy, balance phosphorus levels and aid in muscle development. So, while lying in the sun for 8 hours at the beach isn’t good for you, a brisk morning walk in the sunshine is fantastic for your overall health.

> More Challenging Workout – You may be able to run 10 miles inside without a problem, but you’ll feel like your legs are made of Jell-O after 2 miles on a trail. It’s a challenge, but the constant elevation and terrain variations help to improve your balance and increase your heart rate. After a good workout outdoors, you’ll definitely want to stop by Organic Avenue for a Power House Smoothie to help rebuild muscle tissue.

> Improved Mental Health – Spending time outside has a powerful effect on the brain. Psychological tests have shown that those who exercise outdoors scored higher on measures of enthusiasm, vitality, self-esteem and pleasure. Individuals exercising outside tend to have lower risk of depression, anxiety, tension and fatigue.

> Easier Habit to Stick With – One of the main reasons people stop exercising is because they get bored. Exercising outside doesn’t feel like exercise, especially when you’re doing an activity you enjoy. There are countless fun ways to stay fit outdoors, including walking, running, hiking, cycling, inline skating, swimming, and paddle-boarding, as well as tennis, basketball, racquetball and practicing yoga.

> Less Expensive Option – Gym memberships can be pricey. Why spend money when you can slip on a pair of sneakers and exercise outdoors for free? Lots of complementary outdoor group fitness events take place in the warmer months. If you’re in New York City, one of our favorites is weekly Bryant Park Yoga.

 

Spring has finally sprung and summer’s just around the corner, so there’s no better time than now to take your workout routine outside. The benefits for your body are plentiful, and there’s simply nothing better than inhaling fresh air out in the sunshine.

>Spring Cleansing…for Your Living Space

Cleaning ToolsAs the season that signifies renewal, the onset of spring is the perfect opportunity to plant positive seeds for the remainder of the year. Aside from cleansing the body internally with nutrient-dense plant-based foods and juices, it’s also the time to literally ‘clean house’ and rejuvenate the space around you. While you sip your Green Love, de-clutter and beautify your home for more productive and joyful months ahead!

 

Start with Your Closet

We all have those items lurking in the back of our closets collecting dust—whether it’s that pair of boots you’ve been meaning to get resoled, sweater that accidentally shrunk in the dryer, or jacket you’ve been waiting to come back in style for three seasons. Our favorite rule of thumb: if you haven’t worn it a year, it’s time to donate or recycle. Once you cleanse your closet of what’s no longer working, you’ll feel better treating yourself to a few new pieces for your warmer weather wardrobe.

 

Reduce Cabinet Clutter

Aside from your wardrobe closet, two other places you’re likely to find expired or excess physical objects are your kitchen pantry and bathroom medicine cabinet. It’s a good idea to take inventory of your dry goods, especially spices that may be past their ‘best by’ date. While most spices last up to 3 years, even when opened, fresh is always best. Clean ‘em out and replace with new jars of the seasonings you use most often, for even better tasting food.

Our medicine cabinets are usually filled with all kinds of mysterious items—a moisturizer you used once, five years ago and never returned, old makeup that may be breeding bacteria, or expired sunscreen, just to name a few. Do a thorough check of each item for ancient dates, layers of dust, and funky smells. This is also a great opportunity to restock your loo with cleaner personal care products. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is our go-to website (there’s also an app!) for discovering safe products and learning more about what’s actually in our favorite beautifying items.

 

Go Green to Clean

The majority of conventional cleaning products contain chemicals that may be harmful to people, animals and the environment. It’s a good idea to switch up your supplies this spring and opt for greener, more environmentally friendly options. Check out your local health food store for clean and affordable alternatives to the traditional brands. The Environmental Working Group is also a great resource for finding effective and non-toxic household products. Some of our favorite brands are Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation and The Honest Company. You can also get creative and formulate your own DIY products using simple ingredients like baking soda, lemon, vinegar, tea tree oil and hydrogen peroxide.

 

Get a Pet Plant

Bringing some of the outdoors to your indoor space will not only give it a boost of visual beauty, it will also make your home healthier. Just like the plant walls featured in many of our Organic Avenue stores, indoor plants bring more oxygen into the space, helping you breathe easier. Studies done by NASA found that in a 24-hour period, houseplants were able to remove up to 87 percent of toxins in the air. Additional research out there suggests that our pet plants reduce stress, boost our mood, improve our concentration, and may even help us to be more creative!

 

Don’t let this opportunity to cleanse your living space pass you by. And don’t worry, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Set a small goal for yourself each week—just focus on one room or storage space at a time. Before you know it, you’ll have a brand-new, positive environment to create new happy memories in!

>Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Baseball season has just begun, and if you’re like many spectators, you may have a hard time staying on track with your healthy diet when ballpark food is all around you. And if your seats are near the aisle, it will be easy to robotically pass food and money back-and-forth the entire game. As if resisting the urge to overdo it on hot dogs and nachos isn’t hApple and a Baseballard enough without this in-your-face temptation! Of course, you know that the moment you give in, you’ll feel lousy. After eating clean for a while, your body will likely experience the shock of less-than-perfect processed foods.

Okay, so it’s bottom of the sixth and your stomach is seriously growling. Three more innings will be hard to enjoy when you’re hungry. Not to mention, there’s always the chance of extra innings! Your personal game plan should be to eat foods before the game that keep you feeling fuller longer, so your stomach won’t growl, and you won’t be tempted to go wild with junk food.

 

> Beans – The high fiber in legumes means they’ll last longer in the stomach because they’re processed slower—prolonging that satiated feeling. Beans with the highest fiber content include kidney, pinto and adzuki varieties. Our favorite legumes, lentils and chickpeas, are not too far behind. Toss them in a dish with lots of colorful veggies for optimal digestion.

> Oatmeal – A bowl of hot oatmeal has a good amount of fiber and it is loaded with protein. Taking in a 1 pm game? Stop by Organic Avenue and enjoy Steel Cut Oatmeal for a late breakfast. You can also reap the benefits of steel cut oats with our Overnight Oats, a filling breakfast or anytime snack.

> White Potatoes – Why do white potatoes have such a bad reputation? Fiber-packed spuds keep you full up to three times longer than most other foods. They’re also more easily digested than any grain, especially when baked. Sorry folks, french fries cooked in oil and chips don’t count.

> Apples – The high water content in apples give them a lower energy density. This means you get more food for a lot less calories. Plus, apples are high in fiber, and they are easy to eat in the car on the way there. When there is time for food prep, we like to slice ours and sprinkle them with metabolism-boosting cinnamon. Eat alone on an empty stomach for optimal nutrient absorption.

> Granola Bars – Skip the over-processed granola bars you may find in the ‘breakfast’ aisle at the grocery store, and make your own with raw nuts, seeds, dried fruit and a high quality sweetener like maple syrup or coconut nectar, if necessary.

 

Even if you arrive to the game on a full stomach, there’s still the temptation of people munching all around you. Luckily, if you do a little searching around the gates, some vendors are now carrying healthier options. Choose guacamole and chips over cheese nachos and fresh lemonade over carbonated beverages like soda and beer. Yankee Stadium even has its very own farm stand for fresh fruits and veggies at Gate 4!

Ultimately, if you want to indulge in one of the traditional snacks being passed around, just make sure to reboot the following day with leafy greens, grounding root vegetables, and plant-based protein—like nuts and seeds. These are cleansing foods that are still super satisfying. Tonight, we’re going to watch the game at home with our Sunflower Falafel—loaded with protein, energizing fat, and nutrient-rich cruciferous cabbage—the ultimate healthy comfort dish.

>Niacin: Friend or Foe?

Nutritional SupplementNiacin, also known as vitamin B3, seems to be a hot topic of conversation these days. Every time you turn around, someone is talking about its great benefits and recommending a supplement. Well, before you do, it’s important to understand that although niacin offers great benefits, too much of any good thing may have some adverse health effects.

 

 

 

Benefits

Niacin assists with various metabolic processes, and is essential for nearly every process in the body. A few benefits include:

> Lowers Cholesterol – The vast majority of people taking a niacin supplement are doing so to reduce their cholesterol. It helps the body secrete high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

> Atherosclerosis – Niacin plays a key role in the body’s ability to produce a chemical compound that dilates blood vessels to improve circulation.

> Skin – Many people take niacin to improve the appearance of their skin. It firms skin, prevents acne, increases moisture, and makes your skin glow.

> Cleansing – One of the reasons this particular vitamin has experienced a surge in popularity is because it is associated with cleansing. If you want to detox, a safer solution that doesn’t require a supplement is a juice cleanse, like the Love Deep cleanse at Organic Avenue.

> Brain Health – Consuming a healthy amount of niacin can reduce your risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

> Metabolism – Niacin supports your metabolism by encouraging your system to break down fats and carbohydrates to transform them into energy. It also turns protein into amino acids.

> Muscle and Joint Health – Joint mobility can be improved with healthy levels of niacin, which can reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medication. Niacin can reduce fatigue and pain in the joints and muscles.

 

Potential Risks

In healthy doses, niacin is beneficial. However, when taking supplements, there can be unfavorable health effects. Some doctors are warning against taking niacin for high blood pressure because it may increase the risk for diabetes and bleeding. Large doses can trigger a niacin flush, which dilates blood vessels in your skin, causing redness and burning. Too much niacin may also increase your risk for liver toxicity, and it can make you feel nauseated, as well.

Good news—the average diet gets more than enough niacin to reap its benefits without side effects, whether you’re an omnivore or eat an exclusively plant-based diet. Plant-based foods with the highest niacin content include peas, barley, bulgur, crimini mushrooms, asparagus, squash and brown rice.

As always, consult your doctor before taking any supplement to make sure it’s right for you.

 

Health information: The statements about the products featured herein have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Individual results with the consumption of these products may vary. 

>March Madness: Take the OA Health Challenge!

Basketball PlateFor many, March is just that ‘in-between’ month before the spring weather hits—a countdown to brighter, warmer days ahead. For sports enthusiasts, March is one of the year’s highlights—the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament—68 college basketball teams competing for the national championship.

Whether you have a team to root for or not, OA has pitted some of our favorite nutrient-dense powerhouses against one another, in honor of March Madness. Make your plate the court, and let your body tell you which foods score the most points.

 

 

The Great Green: Kale vs. Collards

Two of the most nutritious foods on earth, you’ll find that kale and collard greens are extremely well matched.

Kale contains more vitamin C than collards, which is essential for immune function. It’s also higher in vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting.

Team Kale: Kale Quinoa Salad, The Big Clean Salad

Collards make more shots than kale in the mineral game. They’re higher in bone-protecting calcium and iron, which aids in the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells.

Team Collard: Thai Collard Wrap, Lunchbox Salad Collard Wrap

 

The Healthy Fat: Avocado vs. Coconut

Avocado and coconut are tropical foods known for their high-quality fat content that the body uses immediately for fuel and is less likely to be stored in the cells and tissues.

Avocado is higher in potassium and antioxidant vitamin A, for healthy skin and vision.

The average avocado contains about 4 grams of protein, the highest of any fruit.

Team Avocado: Avocado Smash Sandwich, Chocolate Mousse

Coconut contains a higher amount of dietary fiber per serving, as well as more magnesium, an important mineral for activating muscles and nerves.

Team Coconut: Coconut Yogurt, Coconut Mylk

 

The Nutritious Nut: Walnuts vs. Cashews

Both cashews and walnuts are high in polyphenols, antioxidants that may have heart-health benefits.

Cashews contain more vitamins and minerals than walnuts overall, including minerals iron, zinc and copper.

Team Cashew: Lunchbox Salad Sandwich, Brussels Sprouts & Apple Slaw

Walnuts have a higher vitamin E content. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage, and may prevent certain diseases. It’s also a ‘beauty vitamin’ for this reason, shielding skin from UV damage and keeping it supple and glowing.

Team Walnut: Broccoli Slaw, Sweet Peach Crumble

 

The Superstar Seed: Hemp vs. Chia

Hemp and chia seeds are easily assimilated sources of complete plant-based protein, containing all nine essential amino acids to build and repair muscle tissue.

Hemp seeds contain more protein per cup than chia seeds, as well as gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), a unique omega-6 fatty acid.

Team Hemp: The Big Kale Salad, Cashew Hemp Mylk

Chia seeds could win the game with their higher fiber content for digestive health, about double that of hemp. They’re also abundant in omega-3 fatty acids—crucial for brain, joint and heart health.

Team Chia: Chia Berry Tapioca, Matcha Chia Glo

 

The Favorite Fruit: Banana vs. Pineapple

Bananas and pineapples are two of the most popular sweet foods found in nature—not only enjoyed on their own, but also blended in smoothies.

Banana contains more of the essential minerals magnesium and potassium—electrolytes that regulate the body’s fluids and help the body use energy.

Team Banana: Power House Smoothie, Revival Smoothie

Pineapple provides 78% of your daily value of vitamin C, versus banana’s 14%.

Team Pineapple: Lite Weight Smoothie, Sweet Karma Smoothie

 

Challenge yourself to incorporate more of these nutrient-dense foods into your diet this spring, and if you sit down to watch your favorite teams with family and friends, get them on board by serving healthier plant-based recipes featuring the MVPs. Click around the Feed Your Brain blog for inspiration, or visit an Organic Avenue location to access our superstar foods and juices.

>Healthy ‘Shamrock Smoothies’ to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Each St. Patrick’s Day, many people flock to their local fast food joint for a seasonal green shake. While it may look festive, the source of its vibrant color is quite far from the green plants we love. The shamrock hue is the result of a Yellow # 5 and Blue # 1 combo, two additives you don’t want in your diet.

Instead of sabotaging your health goals with a fast food shake; why not make a healthy green smoothie at home to celebrate this lucky day? Here are three delicious recipes, featuring nutrient-dense greens like spinach, dandelion and spirulina, courtesy of our knowledgeable and creative Organic Avenue Retail Managers.

 

Green Coconut Smoothie

Smoothie IngredientsHyacinth Mills

Retail Manager, 9th & Third

 

14oz Organic Avenue Coconut Mylk

1 ripe pear, seeded and chopped

1/2 avocado

2 cups of spinach

2 tsp of green powder (like BõKU Superfood, optional)

 

Blend the above ingredients for approximately 60 seconds until smooth.

Serve chilled.

Serves 1-2

 

Heavenly Green Smoothie

Jeannette Donofrio

Retail Manager, Bryant Park

 

14oz Organic Avenue Coconut Mylk

1 Bunch of spinach

A Few Leaves of dandelion

1 Whole Pineapple

6 Bananas

 

Blend the above ingredients for approximately 60 seconds until smooth.

Serve chilled.

Serves 3-4

 

Sweet Green Spirulina Mylk

Hyacinth Mills

Retail Manager, 9th & Third

 

14oz almond milk (homemade for best results)

1 frozen banana

1 tsp Hawaiian spirulina

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 Medjool dates

 

Blend the above ingredients for approximately 60 seconds until smooth.

Serve chilled.

Serves 1-2

 

If you don’t have time to prep your green shake at home on March 17th, feel free to pop into Organic Avenue for our signature Green Monkey Smoothie, or a Lite Weight or Power House Smoothie, available at select locations.

 

>All Arugula All the Time

Arugula LeavesMove over kale, there’s a different green emerging as the most popular kid on the playground. Arugula, also called salad rocket, garden rocket, or just plain rocket, has been cultivated since Roman times in the Mediterranean area for its long list of health benefits. It’s loaded with antioxidants to support the immune system and fight free radicals, and it has high levels of chlorophyll to prevent liver and DNA damage. Research shows arugula may reduce chronic inflammation, lower cholesterol and protect an aging brain. So, what are you supposed to do with its pungent, peppery, zippy flavor? Well, arugula is a lot more versatile than you might think!

>Arugula & Pesto Baguette – Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a fresh baguette into half-inch slices, and brush with olive or   coconut oil. Bake 8 minutes, smear on pesto, and top with fresh arugula. This is a great appetizer or lunch. You can add tomato slices, too. If you are out and about, or don’t feel like cooking, stop by Organic Avenue for the Avocado Smash Sandwich. It’s arugula, avocado, cilantro, radish, and lime juice on hearty nine-grain bread.

>Broccoli Soup – Making a pot of broccoli soup? Arugula is the perfect addition. When the soup base is done, pour it into the blender with the arugula and blend until smooth. Then, you can add your broccoli florets, if you choose. You can also finely chop the arugula, and just add to broth for vegetable soup.

>Peach Salad – Arugula is a wonderful addition to any salad, but its sharp flavors pair with sweet peach beautifully for a summer salad. Toss it with some white balsamic vinegar, and add a bit of freshly ground black pepper.

>Pita – When you’re in a hurry, just stuff a whole-wheat pita with arugula and hummus. Add a few sliced tomatoes, if you have time to cut them.

>Arugula Smoothie – Why should kale and spinach get all the smoothie love? Arugula can be your blender’s best friend, too! Mix it with banana, strawberry, coconut oil, maple syrup, and water. It mixes well with pear, too. Add walnuts, ginger, and some fresh-squeezed orange juice to this recipe.

>Pasta Dishes – Arugula is an easy addition to your pasta dishes because you don’t have to cook it, if you don’t want to. You can certainly add it to the sauce, but you can also just mix it in at the end. The heat from the pasta will wilt it enough to be incorporated into the dish.

>Salad Dressing – There is no need to use store-bought salad dressing. Blend arugula with olive oil, lemon or lime, and salt and pepper for dressing. A bit of seeded mustard will give it an extra kick.

>Lentils – Toss cooked lentils with fresh parsley, minced shallot, and red wine vinegar. Add arugula and toss again. This makes a perfect side dish, or you can just eat it for lunch. You can also skip the lentils and mix it with quinoa or brown rice.

>Arugula Chips – You have been eating kale chips for years now. It’s time to make arugula chips in the oven or dehydrator. Add some nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.

>Mayo Who?

'Mayo' DressingMayo may be one of the most versatile condiments ever created, but it’s also one of the unhealthiest. Traditional mayonnaise is loaded with bad fat, cholesterol and sodium, and only 1 tablespoon has about 90 calories. If you’re going to devote 90 calories to a condiment, shouldn’t it at least be good for you? One of the biggest challenges folks face when adopting a healthier diet is giving up condiments and the foods that require accoutrements. Well, if you’re ready to end your friendship with mayo, you have a lot of exciting alternatives to try out.

 

>Cashew Mayo – It may seem strange that a nut can be used as mayo, but the versatility of cashews is unbelievable. They can be used to make everything from cheesecake to a creamy soup base, and of course, they can also be used to make a healthy and flavorful mayo. You can make it yourself in minutes. Blend 1 cup soaked raw cashews, 1/4 cup vegetable broth and 2 tablespoons squeezed lemon juice until creamy. Season with salt, or for a unique flavor, add rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or dill. Not sure if you’ll like cashew mayo? Try a Lunchbox Salad Collard Wrap from Organic Avenue. It has carrots, broccoli, almonds, dried cranberries and cashew mayo wrapped in a collard leaf.

>Guacamole – You can make guacamole with avocado, diced tomato and red pepper, juice from lime or lemon, and a pinch of pepper. Alternately, you can just smash an avocado and add a bit of sea salt and pepper for a creamy spread or dip.

>Hummus – This is a great mayo-substitute for the health conscious. Chickpeas are loaded with fiber, protein and vitamins. Store bought varieties often contain extra oil and salt, so make your own when you can.

>Coconut Yogurt – Craving a mayo-based dish like coleslaw or potato salad? As an alternative, blend plain coconut yogurt with olive oil. You can also add dill or garlic powder for a hint of spice.

>Tahini – Many think tahini is just an ingredient in hummus, but it’s delicious enough to stand on its own. Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds and loaded with nutrients. You can use it plain, or puree it with lemon juice, garlic, and black pepper.

>Mustard – Your best mustard options are going to be from organic and non-GMO brands. The vinegar in mustard helps lower blood sugar, while the turmeric boasts excellent antioxidant properties.

>Vegan Mayo – If you are looking for something easy to keep on-hand, check out a vegan mayo alternative. Vegenaise is a popular one made from brown rice syrup, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, and salt. Look for the soy-free version made with pea protein. Just Mayo is another clean alternative to the traditional brands.

>Pesto – A little basil and olive oil can really do amazing things for a cracker or sandwich. You can also get creative and swap the basil for arugula for a zestier flavor.

>Tzatziki – For a Mediterranean-inspired flavor, you can’t beat Tzatziki, a dip made from yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Use plain coconut yogurt for a healthier, plant-based version.

>Valentine’s Day: Love Your Body

Love yourself in wood typeWhether you have a sweetheart, or not, you should be the number one person on your Valentine’s Day shopping list. Valentine’s Day is all about love, and what love could possibly be more important than self-love? Some wait until spring to think about getting in shape, but never take steps to become healthier from the inside-out. Others assume they are healthy because they work out and are lean and toned, but health goes beyond the physical appearance. Give yourself the gift of health this Valentine’s Day by giving your body what it truly needs.

 

Listen to Your Body

One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to follow an exact “plan” that has worked for others. Everybody is different, so every individual body has unique needs. Just because someone who is the exact same height and weight as you recommends something does not mean it is automatically right for you. Maybe you are more active than them. Perhaps they have a thyroid problem. There are endless variables that make your needs unique, so it is vital that you learn to listen to what your body is telling you.

Your body uses cravings and symptoms to make sure dietary needs are met. That being said, if you are addicted to something unhealthy, like refined sugar, you are going to go through withdrawals to get it out of your system. Your brain will tell you it wants sugar because of withdrawals, not because your body needs it. Learning to tell the difference between a legitimate nutritional craving and an unhealthy message that should be ignored comes with time.

Truthfully, once you completely detox, and know what it feels like to be clean, you will be more in touch with your body’s needs.

 

Start with a Detox

If you are serious about achieving optimal health, and you want to be in tune with what your body needs, you will start with a juice cleanse. After a detox you become very much aware how every piece of food makes you feel. If foods are making you tired or causing a foggy brain, your body is giving you these signs for a reason. A simple three- or five-day cleanse, like Organic Avenue’s Go Green cleanse, is all it takes to reset your senses and clean your system. A lot of people choose to do a cleanse monthly or seasonally to start fresh and get on track. Your body will tell you when you need one again.

 

Break the Rules

Since you were young, you have probably been told to eat three meals a day or to not eat after a certain time at night. Maybe you have a list of breakfast-appropriate foods that has been drilled into your mind. You can break these rules. If your body tells you it needs soup for breakfast, fruit for lunch, and oatmeal for dinner, this is what you should eat.

>Post-Workout Recovery with Plant-Based Eating

Dumbell and green smoothieIf you’re a newbie just beginning a fitness regimen, or even a longtime gym enthusiast, you may have this question: what are the best foods to consume after my workout? Many folks are unsure if they should eat light or heavy, carbs or protein, or just keep it liquid. Since everyone’s body is very different, and we all work out at varying levels of intensity, the answer may be different for everyone. However, one thing that can’t be disputed is the effectiveness of consuming plant-based foods after a workout.

 

 

We’ve got you covered with some of the healthiest ways to repair and refuel. These noshes will help you feel better, look better and get ready for your next gym session.

 

HYDRATION IS KEY

As you perspire on that spin bike or sweat it out during that intense dance cardio routine, your body is losing electrolytes that must be replaced. Electrolytes not only help to regulate the body’s fluids, they’re also key for balancing the body’s pH and promoting optimal muscle function. Coconut Water is our go-to. Often dubbed ‘nature’s sports drink,’ coconut water contains a high level of electrolytes, specifically the mineral potassium (which is why it’s also a great hangover cure). The natural sugar in coconut water is mostly glucose as opposed to fructose, so it will give you a post-gym energy boost without a dreaded crash. Much better than the high fructose corn syrup-laden beverages out there.

In addition to Coconut Water, green juice, like OA’s signature Green Love, is a fantastic post-workout beverage. Not only hydrating, the chlorophyll in the greens helps build red blood cells, which supply oxygen to your muscles. It’s important to go green daily, but after the gym, you may also want to include a red juice, containing beets, like our famous Royal Red. Emerging research shows that beet juice also improves oxygen flow to muscles, boosting athletic performance and aiding in recovery.

 

PLANT-BASED PROTEIN

Protein is essential to rebuild muscle following an exercise session. Most fitness experts recommend consuming protein about 30-45 minutes after your workout. Get your pure water, coconut water and/or green juice down the hatch first, wait a half hour and then grab a protein-rich meal. It’s possible to get more than enough protein from vegan sources. Some of our favorite options include nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts, seeds such as pumpkin, chia and hemp seeds, and high-quality grains like quinoa and brown rice. Quinoa, chia seeds and hemp seeds happen to be complete proteins, containing all 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. These foods are much easier for the body to break down and assimilate nutrients from than denser animal proteins.

For optimal benefits, consume a protein source alongside an alkaline vegetable, like a dark, leafy green. Greens are the healthiest complex carbs around and also great protein sources. Not only will the water-containing veggies help you better digest the protein, they aid in balancing your blood’s pH back to an alkaline state (7.38 on the pH scale). Strenuous exercise creates an acidic environment in your body. If you don’t neutralize the acid with what you eat, your body will leech calcium from your bones and nitrogen from your muscle tissue to neutralize it. Skip the processed whey or soy protein power and energy bars and stick to whole foods. If you’re working out during your lunch break or any moment you’re pressed for time, you can make a smoothie as a quick meal replacement ahead of time. Infuse fresh greens and/or whole fruit with a protein source like hemp seeds or brown rice protein powder in pure water or a nut mylk. If you’re able to have a sit-down meal, some of the best options are a green salad with a whole grain, like the OA Kale Quinoa Salad or veggies with nuts and seeds, like our Sunflower Falafel Salad and Lunchbox Salad Collard Wrap.

When choosing a post-exercise meal, there’s no need for complicated recipes, exotic ingredients or hard-to-find supplements. Just by sticking to high-quality, organic plant-based foods, your body will get everything it needs to recover and reach the next level of fitness and overall wellness.