Homemade Açaí Bowls: Join the Craze!

There are so many healthy meals and snacks we like to make, but our homemade açaí bowls might be our favorite! We initially got hooked on açaí when we ate our first açaí bowl at Haleiwa Bowls on the North Shore of Oahu. If you’ve never tried açaí before, the taste reminds us of a mix between blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate with a hint of tartness to it.

Fun Fact: Harvesting açaí berries are no easy task. Massive açaí palm trees can grow over 60 feet, making the task of retrieving these fruit difficult and potentially dangerous.

Açaí berries are native to Central and South America, pre-dominantly in Brazil. These berries are considered a “superfood” because of its abundance of health and nutritional benefits. In comparison to other fruits, açaí berries are relatively low in fat and sugars. Açaí also contains anthocyanins that give the berries and their deep purple appearance and act as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants play a vital role in neutralizing free radicals that damage cells and can lead to a number of systemic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. For comparison, açaí berries contain three times the amount of antioxidants compared to blueberries. Additionally a high amount of fatty acids such as Omega-3s and Omega-6s can be found in these berries. Omega-3s can help to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.

Nutritional breakdown:

Açaí portion only (Serves 2) – Calories: 240, Carbs: 20g, Fats: 0g, Proteins: 2g
*Additional calories should be considered based on toppings added

Ingredients:

2 packets of Sambazon Acai
0.5 cup Kirkland Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
0.5 cup 100% apple juice
A handful of frozen mixed berries
1 frozen banana

Topping options:

Fresh cut fruit
Peanut butter
Almond butter
Honey
Maple syrup
Coconut flakes
Hemp seeds
Chia seeds
Granola

Steps:

1) Run the frozen acai packets under warm water for a couple of seconds
2) Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse
3) Add more almond milk or apple juice to get the desired texture
4) Add toppings and enjoy!

Notes:

A food processor is necessary for this making this açaí bowl. In my experience, even a good blender can’t produce the desired consistency.

We hope you’re able to join the açaí craze and add your favorite toppings to the mix! Let us know some of your favorite açaí places or tag us in your homemade açaí bowls!

Disclaimer: We are not nutritionists. All of our information is based on experience, working with personal trainers, research and background knowledge from our education in the health field. Make sure to work with a nutritionist when deciding what foods and nutrients are best for your goals and overall health.

-Colin & Lisa

Oatmeal: Making Gains with Grains

Oatmeal has been a staple of our diet as long as we can remember. I know many of you are thinking how boring and bland oatmeal typically is, but there are actually a lot of ways to enjoy it. We will be experimenting with some oatmeal-based recipes and we will keep you guys updated!

We like to think of oatmeal as a blank canvas that you can use you to really stretch your creativity and preferences when it comes to healthy eating. Our favorite thing about oatmeal is that it’s easy to make, packed with nutrients and keeps you full.

Oats are a great source of soluble fiber – leading to slower digestion and suppressing your appetite (keeping you fuller, longer)! After eating oatmeal, I don’t have the “post-breakfast hangryness” and it gives me the energy to get through the day until my next meal.

The beta-glucan fibers in oats have been shown to lower cholesterol which in turn can reduce your risk of heart disease (the leading cause of death worldwide). Oats have a relatively low glycemic index and promising results have also been shown to lower and stabilize blood sugar levels. Many people diagnosed with diabetes have been making oats a mainstay of their diet, but it’s best to work with a nutritionist to see what will work best for you.

One of the most important benefits of oats is the amount of protein contained. As most of you know, protein is vital building block of muscles, bones, blood, cartilage and skin. Proteins also helps your body repair muscle tissue and act as enzymes to aid in digestion.

When looking at the macronutrients, you will find that oats contain a relatively large portion of carbohydrates. But don’t let carbs be your enemy. Remember that they are necessary to fuel every cell in your body from your brain, heart, muscles, etc. This is not the same as fake processed “bad carbs” that don’t have the same nutrients that oats do.

Fun fact: Oats are rich in biotin, a vitamin important for healthy hair, nails and skin.

We added PEScience Protein 4 Oats Apple Cinnamon, liquid egg whites, almond milk, diced apples, blueberries, cinnamon and honey to our oatmeal. We use the PEScience Protein 4 Oats because it adds additional protein, made specifically for oatmeal, mixes easily and most importantly – tastes great! We have a variety of PEScience products (pre-workout, proteins, BCAAs, etc.) that we’ll talk about in a future blog. Adding liquid egg whites is another great way for some extra protein. Using almond milk in place of regular milk is a great alternative because it is lower in calories, free of saturated fat and lactose free (a win for those of you who are lactose intolerant)! We threw in some apples and blueberries because of the added nutrients along with giving our meal a crunch and variation in texture. The honey gives the oatmeal that touch of sweetness. We use organic raw honey, but any type will do.

Ingredients:
1 serving (1/4 cup) of PEScience Protein 4 Oats Apple Cinnamon
1/2 cup of oats
1/4 cup of Kirkland Signature Egg Whites
Kirkland unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Diced apples
Blueberries
Cinnamon
Honey

Nutritional Breakdown:
Calories: 470 Carbs: 73g Fats: 7g Proteins: 32g

Steps:
1) Heat water
2) Pour oats in a bowl
3) Pour hot water just enough to cover the oats
4) Let sit for a few minutes until oats cook
5) In the meantime, dice up apples and sprinkle cinnamon on them
6) Stir Protein 4 Oats into cooked oatmeal (Note: Only add the protein to cooked oatmeal, do not add protein before cooking the oats)
7) Add almond milk in small amounts to the desired texture
8) Add apples and blueberries
9) Drizzle with honey
10) Enjoy!

If you’ve given up on oatmeal, give it a try again and make sure to mix it up and try different varieties. The combinations really are limitless. Let us know what you like to add to your oatmeal, so we can try it too!

Disclaimer: We are not nutritionists. All of our information is based on experience, working with personal trainers, research and background knowledge from our education in the health field. Make sure to work with a nutritionist when deciding what foods and nutrients are best for your goals and overall health.

Your Health’s Best Friend

His perspective:

We all know the saying “a dog is man’s best friend.” As true as that might be, owning a dog/pet can have substantial benefits on your overall health. These benefits include improving cardiovascular health, decreasing stress hormones, improving physical activity and unique therapies for those diagnosed with Alzheimers’ disease and autism.

A correlation has been found between owning a pet and a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. In a 2017 retrospective study done in Sweden, people who lived alone and owned a dog had a 36% lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular-related problems compared to those who didn’t (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-16118-6).

Whether you’re anxious for a major exam or stressed out from a big project at work, pets can counteract these emotions by helping to lower cortisol levels (a.k.a stress hormones) and decreasing heart rate.

Secondly, we all know that it’s easy to get lazy and rush to the nearest couch in sight after a long day of work. Owning a dog helps you stay accountable by walking with your favorite canine and getting some cardiovascular activity into your day.

There are a few benefits of owning a pet that I found especially fascinating. For instance, several canine caregiver programs exist that assist dementia patients with day to day tasks. These tasks can include helping to retrieve medication, reminding them to eat and guiding them home when they’re lost. Here’s a great article if you want to learn more or are interested in getting a service dog for a friend or family member with dementia (https://www.rover.com/canine-caregivers-dementia-alzheimers/).

With the increasing prevalence of children being diagnosed with autism (approximately 1 in 59 children), improving social skills has become  essential. Various animal-assisted therapy programs currently exist to enhance social skills in children and help them interact with their peers.

I remember a specific time when I realized the powerful affects animals can play in our lives. Before I started optometry school, I volunteered at Braille Institute in Anaheim, California (yes, there is more in Anaheim than Disneyland). I started off assisting visually impaired students with using computers (checking email, using search engines, etc.). This was an immensely rewarding experience where i met some of the most inspiring people. The teacher of our class was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (an inherited disease causing degeneration of the retinal tissue). He had a guide dog, Tuesday, that reminds me of Oliver (golden retriever pictured above), with a slightly more mellow demeanor. Whenever Tuesday entered the room you could feel him bring in such a vibrant energy and everyone was instantly in a better mood.

We always think of school, work, fitness, diet, personal issues, etc. affecting our mental and personal health, but our pets can also play a vital role. If you have a pet, make sure to spend some quality time together and if not, definitely consider getting one! Your mind and body will thank you.