The Skinny on Sprouted Grains

The Skinny on Sprouted Grains

Sprouted grains seem to be popping up everywhere these days. Literally–and for good reason because a growing body of research suggests sprouted grains may have a little more to offer nutrition-wise than their unsprouted counterparts. Here’s the skinny on these special grains, and a few of my favorite ways to enjoy them:

What are sprouted grains?  

Simply put, sprouted grains are seeds from cereal grasses (think whole grains like wheat, oats, barley, spelt and brown rice) that have begun to develop into new plants. When temperature and moisture levels are just right, whole grains can actually be coaxed to germinating. Cool huh? When this happens, the whole grain’s starchy endosperm and nutrient-rich bran nourish the plant’s growing embryo, also known as the germ, while the husk adds a layer of protection at the beginning stages of sprouting.

After the grains have sprouted, they’re either dried and stored until they are cooked or milled or they’re pureed and used to make baked goods like bread, english muffins or tortillas and are usually sold frozen.

How are they different than unsprouted grains?

In the process of sprouting, certain nutrients increase, others decrease, and enzymes stored inside the whole grain are released. As a result, sprouted grains are typically little bit higher in protein, sugar, fiber and certain vitamins and minerals, and slightly lower in starch which is turned into energy to fuel growth. Additionally, the amino acid composition (the building blocks of proteins) changes as well.

As for formally differentiating the two, there is no official definition for “sprouted grain” but if you’re interested you can read more about industry standards here.

What are the nutritional benefits of sprouted grains? 

The sprouting process increases the amount and bioavailability–the amount of a certain nutrient our bodies can absorb–of certain nutrients like iron, vitamin C, the B vitamins like folate, fiber and essential amino acids typically lacking in grains, like lysine. Since sprouted grains also tend to be slightly lower in starch they might also be a bit easier on the tummy.

The nutritional content of sprouted grains is influenced by the seed type, quality, sprouting conditions and processing. Though the nutrient changes are subtle, sprouted grains offer all of the same–if not more–benefits of traditional whole grains including dietary fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium, important nutrients that are missing from white or refined grains.

How can add sprouted grains to my diet? 

Sprouted grains, and products that contain them, are showing up more and more on supermarket shelves. Keep your eyes peeled in the bread aisle, freezer section and the cereal aisle too.

I’ve tried a few different types of sprouted grain breads and tortillas, as well as a new cereal from Kashi called Organic Promise Sprouted Grains which is made with a blend of several sprouted wheat, oats, barley, spelt and brown rice. Yum! They sent me some to taste test and I’ve been loving it (and the 6 grams of protein and fiber, and only 9 grams of sugar it packs in a serving) with a little milk in the morning, or sprinkled into yogurt with some fresh fruit for a midafternoon snack. It’s not out yet (sorry to be a tease!) but will be available at grocery stores including Whole Foods, Costco and Kroger starting in April.

Another delicious way to incorporate sprouted grains into your diet is by sprouting your own! I haven’t gotten around to trying it myself but hear it’s pretty simple and safe when done correctly. I found this great guide to sprouting if you want to give it a try!

Are you a fan of sprouted grains? Ever tried sprouting your own? 

A special thanks to Kashi for sponsoring this special sprouted grains post.


Morning Eggnog Oatmeal

Morning Eggnog Oatmeal

I love eggnog. Really, I do–but as rich and creamy as it is, I find my tastebuds have usually had enough after just a few swigs of the sweet stuff. I recognize this is probably a blessing in disguise given eggnog’s naughty nutritional reputation, but it’s just so damn festive tasting I can’t resist the urge to pick up a carton at least once every holiday season. I mean, it’s basically Christmas in a cup, is it not?

If you too crave the essence of eggnog this time of year but find it a bit too buttery on the ‘buds, you should definitely cozy up to a big ol’ bowl of this eggnog oatmeal sometime soon. You get all of that amazing eggnog essence without the sugar aftershock in a satisfying bowl of morning oats.

Morning Eggnog Oatmeal

Lately I’ve been topping mine with a sprinkle of raisins, walnuts, a few slices of banana and a just a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s so good I almost feel bad calling it breakfast. Almost.

Eggnog: Love it, or is it little too sweet for your taste buds too?


Holiday Gift Guide for the Ladies

Holiday gift guide for ladies

Confession: I love, love, love putting gift guides together. They’re all of the joys of window shopping in Manhattan without the frigid temperatures, crowded city streets and sad realization that I can’t afford anything. To kick things off this year, here are 13 of my favorite finds for the ladies:

1. An amazing canvas weekender tote with zip bottom compartment ($90 – Sale)

2. Cute coasters ($23 – Free shipping over $50 & 15% off orders $100 or more)

3. Cozy Birkenstock socks ($16.50 – More colors available + get 30% off everything at J.Crew with code GIVETHIS through 12/15 )

4. Gold pig bookends, perfect for containing those cookbooks in the kitchen  ($30)

5. Horned jewelry holder ($57.50 – One of my all-time favorite belongings)

6. Beautiful shearling mittens ($94)

7. Simple yet stylish brass keychain ($12)

8. Fun long johns ($85 – Can’t wait to hit the slopes with these)

9. Horned wall decoration ($160 – Sale)

10. Gold beveled bangle ($64 – Get 30% off everything at J.Crew with code GIVETHIS through 12/15)

11. Bar cart-worthy cocktail shaker ($25 – 20% off with code SNOWFALL through 12/14)

12. Cute wine-o coffee mug  ($16)

13. Adorable Ohlala tote ($21 – Free shipping over $50 & 15% off orders $100 or more)


My Favorite Weekend Wardrobe

I love getting dolled up for date night with the hubs or dinner with friends but when it comes to my typical weekend wear, I spend the majority of Saturday and Sunday in comfy yoga pants, soft sports bras, and a layering of running tanks and cozy, long sleeved tops. A typical Saturday might involve going from yoga to the farmer’s market and then out for coffee with a friend so, for me, looking cute and being comfortable throughout the day is key.

Sweaty Betty  4 of 8

As you might imagine, a good portion of my dresser drawer real estate is filled with activewear that both feels good and fits my on-the-go weekend lifestyle. One of my favorite new brands is Sweaty Betty, a UK-based activewear company and also one of our awesome Elf for Health sponsors this year.

Sweaty Betty  2 of 8

If you’re not familiar, Sweaty Betty makes beautiful clothing for all active lifestyles–whether you’re into going to the gym, yoga, running, playing on the beach or in the snow. All pieces are designed using the highest quality fabrics. Each season a bunch of experts, athletes and ambassadors put the newest Sweaty Betty line to the test with some intense training sessions to ensure each piece delivers maximum comfort and performance.

So far my Sweaty Betty collection consists of these fun yoga leggings, this long sleeve tee (both of which I basically lived in this weekend) a super cute workout tank and these adorable base layers that I simply can’t wait to break out for ski season.

The yoga leggings are soft, sweat-wicking, super stretchy and yes, 100% opaque. Sweaty Betty puts all of their leggings through the Downward Dog test just to be sure! They’re super flattering (even despite the busy print) and I absolutely adore the high-waisted cut.

Sweaty Betty  7 of 8

The long sleeve top is made from a cozy bamboo fabric (which also happens to be naturally anti-bacterial) and is seamlessly constructed which means there no rubbing to worry about on those longer, outdoor runs this winter.

Sweaty Betty  6 of 8

The tank (or workout vest as they call it–such a cute British term, isn’t it?) is another new favorite. It’s super soft, lightweight and has a longer, figure-flattering cut. It also comes in an assortment of colors and patterns which basically  means I need at least two more.

Sweaty Betty Vest

I’ve haven’t formally tested out the base layers just yet but I did put them on one lazy weekend a few weeks back and literally didn’t change out of them for a full 24 hours. Needless to say I’m very optimistic they’ll be just as cozy on the slopes too!

The only problem so far is that everything is so comfortable, cute and well made it only makes me want Sweaty Betty everything. As in all Sweaty Betty all of the time.

Sweaty Betty  1 of 8

Thankfully Christmas is coming and my list is pretty short so there’s a decent chance Santa will leave a little Sweaty Betty swag beneath the tree for me!

A special thanks to Sweaty Betty for sponsoring the Elf for Health challenge this year. Their mission is to empower any and all women through fitness which is a big part of what this challenge is about. If you’re looking to update your workout wardrobe this holiday season be sure to check out their beautiful gear!

What do you love to wear on the weekend?


10 Signs You Might Be A Little Step-Obsessed

Fitbit Charge Review 72dpi

When it comes to wrist accessories, I prefer bangle bracelets to watches any day of the week. But ever since putting my first Fitbit on last year, this little activity tracker has become a permanent part of my wrist real estate.

Probably not unlike many of you, I log a lot of screen time in my day-to-day life. Between work and the blog I can easily spend 10 to 12 hours a day just sitting. Of course I try to offset some of this by making time for short runs, interval workouts, strength training and yoga, but when things get busy–well, you know how it is. That little black band on my wrist, though, has helped me realize being active isn’t just about minutes logged on a run, or reps performed at the gym. My Fitbit is a gentle reminder to get up and move. It motivates me to take the stairs instead of the escalator, and walk instead of bus to and from work each day. It gets me out of my comfortable chair at work for sixty minutes at the treadmill desk at least a few days each week. And sometimes, sometimes, it gives me an excuse to do a little shopping downtown before heading home from work. Just like dollars, you might be surprised how fast a few hundred steps here and a few hundred there add up!

If you don’t have a Fitbit, I highly recommend getting one, even if for the excuse to shop alone. I will warn you though––those daily step counts can be highly motivating. So motivating my husband has called me out for being a little step-obsessed at times. I take it as a compliment but, should you wind up with a new Fitbit on your wrist this holiday season, here are 10 things to be on the lookout for. (For those of you in similar shoes, I’m willing to bet you’re guilty of some, if not most of these too!)

10 Signs You Might Be A Little Step-Obsessed

1. You walk laps around the backyard in the pitch dark to hit an important step milestone.

2. You check your step count at least 2-3 times during a long run, purely for the satisfaction-factor.

3. You check your step count in the middle of an important but incredibly boring meeting, and then proceed to think about all the steps you could be getting instead.

4. You call out a friend for always having more steps and tell them, “I’m coming after you.”

5. You’ve fibbed to friends or family members on occasion about how far the walk really is.

6. You justify an afternoon of shopping over hitting the gym because you’ll get more steps that way.

7. You suddenly become that person that aimlessly wanders around the airport, carry-on luggage in tow, until your zone is called to board. Then you sprint to be first in line.

8. After a solid 5 minutes of walking without your Fitbit, you instinctively turn around to get it, and do so without thinking twice.

9. You urgently text, call, page, or fax a family member and plead them to wear your forgotten tracker on their wrist until you can get it back.

10. You’ve prayed for the ability to manually add steps–because inevitably there are times it does get left behind.

Any of these sound familiar? What funny step confessions do you have up your sleeve?

FitbitLogo_400pxA special thanks to Fitbit for sponsoring this post and their #findyourfit campaign through POPSUGAR Select. I was compensated for my time but all opinions and confessions are my own!