While cinnamon and nutmeg are common spices that add zip to your smoothies, there are other spices that can add a huge “wow” factor to these healthy weight loss and weight maintenance drinks—and they’re likely ones you might not ever consider.
Here’s a closer look at some nontraditional spices I’ve put in my smoothies. They’re not only healthy for you, but they step the flavor factor up several notches.
About: Very aromatic and carries a robust flavor.
Health benefits: Known to keep blood pressure in check, act as a cancer-fighter, ease stomach issues and boost weight loss. Learn more about why cardamom is good for you here.
Ideal smoothie match: I often add cardamom to one of my favorite smoothies: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, mango or peach slices, a handful of spinach (although sometimes I omit it), a bit of water and hemp seeds. Then I sprinkle in some cardamom, blend and enjoy.
Memories of my mom’s ham dinners first came to mind when I heard about this, making it hard for me to envision adding them to smoothies of all things. I couldn’t stop my imagination from thinking my tasty banana smoothie (see below) would have a smoky ham flavor to it, but I just chalked that up to my silly thoughts getting the best of me.
Smoothies with cloves are very flavorful; many people compare its rich and warm flavor to cinnamon, likely because it pairs well with that spice. However, it adds an extra kick that gives smoothies a unique taste.
Health benefits: Cloves are linked to fighting inflammation and are considered a powerful antioxidant.
Ideal smoothie match: I’ve made smoothies with ground cloves as follows: 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of sunflower butter, ground cloves (to taste) and some cinnamon. Mmm mmm.
3. Cayenne pepper
If you’re a fan of sweet and sour blends, this one’s for you. Cayenne pepper is hot and spicy, no doubt about it. But add it to naturally sweet fruits in your blender and you end up with a heat that’s tempered nicely by, say, mangos.
Health benefits: Cayenne pepper has been touted as a metabolism booster with anti-fungal properties that aids in better digestion, relieves pain and fights headaches.
Ideal smoothie match: I honestly don’t have just one go-to smoothie that I use with cayenne pepper since I tend to toss some in with several kinds I make. I’m a fan of adding fresh or frozen pineapple, peaches or mangoes to my smoothies along with my usual 1 cup of almond milk and some water. I often add chia or hemp seeds, a dash of Himalayan sea salt and a bit of cayenne pepper for some serious zing.
What have you got to lose by throwing some of these more adventurous spices in your smoothies? It’s a good idea to treat yourself to different tastes so you don’t become bored (and gravitate towards unhealthy options), plus these spices are extremely healthy for you anyway.
Go for it!
While I love to hit the gym (I always enjoy my favorite, the elliptical), there are times when I prefer to exercise outdoors. In the open air, I’m free of adrenaline-infused grunts and the occasional splash of sweat from a particularly energized jogger on the treadmill next to me. There aren’t any machines to wipe clean or dozens of television shows cluttering my mind. It’s just me and the pavement before me, whether I’m walking around my own street, trails, or around a school track.
However, along with the fun of exercising outdoors come certain dangers.
Tips to stay safe while exercising outdoors alone
1. Vary your route
Let’s face it, the world can be a scary place sometimes. It’s not a fun topic, but the random acts of violence—even in our own safe and familiar environments—are becoming more commonplace. It can’t hurt to play it safe by varying your walking or biking route. From commuters and store patrons to neighborhood residents and even other outdoor exercisers, there are a lot of people who are in tune to your routine. How many of us have observed someone while driving home from work and thought, “there’s that guy with the bright blue sneakers whose always running at 7:00”? You don’t want to become paranoid, but what’s the harm in altering your usual route on occasion to better protect yourself from possible threatening situations? Plus, it’ll be a nice change of pace to take in some different scenery!
2. Stay hydrated
While it may be a bit of a pain to walk with a water bottle or tend to the pouch of water in your fitness clothing, it’s very important to stay hydrated. I’ve had my share of dizziness, fainting spells and fingers that have swelled and wrinkled at the tips from lack of hydration. So, I make sipping water a priority. Always be sure to keep some on you while you’re exercising outdoors.
3. Don’t do it in the dark
Although you may have a schedule that allows you to get that run in only in the dark (early morning or evening), it may be worth trying to rearrange plans so you exercise in daylight. Despite streetlights and other light sources, your visibility is still limited and accidents can happen. For example, that rock that blends in with the asphalt may be enough to twist an ankle and cause a fall.
Plus, it’s not just you—driver’s also experienced reduced visibility; according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities on the road happen three times more at night compared to during the day. Furthermore, even though only a quarter of all driving is at night, over half of all driving deaths occur then. This is mainly because a person’s ability to adequately see color changes at night, as does depth perception and peripheral vision. It’s not a fun thought, but the chance of getting hit by a vehicle—while possible any time—are more likely in the dark. If possible, consider exercising outdoors only in the daylight.
4. Carry your cell phone
No, this isn’t about browsing the latest Facebook scoop while you walk, but about your safety. In the unfortunate event you find yourself in a situation where you need help and are unable to walk (or run, or bike) to safety, a call to an emergency contact or first aid personnel from your cell phone—barring lack of reception, of course—can do the trick. It’s also not unusual for people to get out of emergency situations by posting a message on social media; do what you need to get the message out in the event a problem arises. Carrying your phone with you can help get you out of trouble when you’re out by yourself.
As always, be aware of your surroundings. Have fun, but be sure to take these tips into consideration so you're as safe as possible while engaging in outdoor fitness activities.
Sources for this article here.
All photos courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net
Jennifer Lea Reynolds
U.Jennifer Lea Reynolds is a weight loss success story who enjoys living a healthy lifestyle. A fan of the elliptical, roasted asparagus and remembering to put the lid on the blender, she’s appeared in many national and local print publications. She lives in New England where she writes professionally about health and wellness in online publications including U.S. News & World Report, Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, The Huffington Post, and more.