Functional mushrooms are trailing the popularity coattails of CBD, and there’s just as much hype and confusion surrounding the trend. While influencers in the wellness space are adding functional mushrooms via powders and tinctures to smoothies, coffee, and recipes (and boasting about their benefits on social), you probably have some questions about what this ‘shrooms actually are. What are functional mushrooms, really, and what do they actually do for the human body?

Tero Isokauppila, the founder of Four Sigmatic, a functional mushroom and superfoods company, author of Healing Mushrooms, and a natural health expert, is on a mission to not only make functional mushrooms more accessible, but also to educate the masses on the many benefits of these natural healers. Isokauppila is offering Eat This, Not That! an exclusive breakdown of functional mushrooms—what they are, what they do, why they’re worth a try, and how you can start incorporating mushrooms into your routine, too.

making mushroom oilsShutterstock

What exactly are functional mushrooms?

Of the currently known fungi, Isokauppila says an estimated 2,000 species are thought to be edible or medicinal; 15 are recognized to have what are called functional benefits. This means that beyond their nutritional benefits, they have each been found to help support overall health and well-being in one way or another (i.e. lowering stress levels, sharpening cognitive function, providing a boost of energy, etc.).

Do functional mushrooms come in different forms?

“You can find functional mushrooms in powders, capsules (supplements), liquid sprays, and liquid drinks,” Isokauppila says.

What are the benefits of functional mushrooms?

Isokauppila explains that while each individual functional mushroom has its own specific benefits, all functional mushrooms work to balance your energy levels, strengthen your immune function, smooth digestion, and enhance your skin’s natural glow.

“Mushrooms are loaded with polyphenols, polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and antioxidant properties. All of these compounds, together and separately, help to support your immune system,” Isokauppila says about the long-term benefits of daily mushroom consumption. In other words, you probably won’t see immediate results, but the effects will shine through over time. Mushrooms also deliver a slew of dietary fiber, aiding in healthy digestion and an increase in beneficial gut bacteria in your digestive system.

As for their skin-enhancing benefits, functional mushrooms “have an overflowing amount of antioxidant properties, which your skin (and the rest of your body!) loves,” Isokauppila explains. “Glowing skin is also the result of whole body health. Any dysfunction in your immune system or digestion will show up in your skin first. Supporting your whole body well-being with functional mushrooms will often result in a smooth complexion.”

But the best functional mushrooms on the market are also adaptogenic, meaning they assist the body in times of low energy, fatigue, anxiety, and the like. “These plants have the amazing ability to bring you back to a steady state,” he adds.

Which functional mushrooms are the healthiest and most effective?

As previously mentioned, every functional mushroom has a slightly different benefit, and while ranking them would be “like picking a favorite child,” Isokauppila says if he had to choose, his top three would probably be Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Chaga.

“With the busy, stressful lives we lead, any balance we can add, the better,” he says, and that’s where Reishi comes in. As the queen of mushrooms, its adaptogenic properties “help your body to manage occasional stress,” Isokauppila explains.

Lion’s Mane, on the other hand, is a functional mushroom whose powers lie in stimulating focus, productivity, and creativity.

Chaga (the king of mushrooms) is “overflowing with antioxidant properties and helps to support your immune system.”

What are some common misconceptions about functioning mushrooms?

Isokauppila said there are two main questions he receives about functioning mushrooms: Are these psychedelic ‘shrooms, and do they taste like culinary mushrooms?

In a word: No.

These mushrooms won’t give you any type of drug-induced feeling because they don’t contain psilocybin, or psychedelic compounds, Isokauppila explains. And while they don’t necessarily taste like culinary mushrooms, such as portobello or cremini mushrooms, he adds, they do emit a bitter, earthy taste.

mushroom teaShutterstock

Who should try functional mushrooms?

“Most people can benefit from adding functional mushrooms in their life,” Isokauppila says. However, there are a few exceptions. Those who are pregnant, lactating, and/or have an ongoing health condition they are being treated for should talk to their doctor before experimenting with functional mushrooms as, according to Isokauppila, they can clash with certain medications.

What should you look for when buying functional mushroom products?

The first thing you should be looking for when purchasing functional mushrooms is the company’s sourcing, Isokauppila explains. For example, choose products that are made with fruiting bodies (spore-producing structure that supports asexual reproduction of a plant), rather than mycelium (vegetative growth). You also want to make sure that the mushrooms are extracted, not raw or whole, to guarantee the beneficial compounds are effective when consumed.

Next, Isokauppila suggests doing some research on where and how the functional mushrooms are grown, and where/how they’re tested. “If a company won’t tell you [these details], that means they have something to hide,” he says. “At Four Sigmatic, every single batch of our extracted functional mushroom products are tested in a third-party lab for heavy metals, allergens, bad bacteria, yeasts, molds, mycotoxins, pesticides, and irradiation before they get in your hands.”

Once you have all the facts, make sure the functional mushrooms are being presented in a way that you enjoy—in a powder, capsule, liquid spray, or drink. “The greatest benefits of functional mushrooms are seen with daily use for extended periods of time. If you have a mushroom pill you hate taking, then it’s pointless,” Isokauppila explains. “Find a product you actually enjoy so you know you’ll stick with it.”

RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.

What’s the best way to add functional mushrooms to your diet?

Mushrooms aren’t exactly incorporated into many people’s daily routine due to their bitter taste and a lack of education about what functional mushrooms can do for the human body.

Aside from adding hot water to pre-packed powdered mixes, Isokauppila says you can add functional mushrooms to smoothies or to your existing favorite cup of coffee or tea. “You can also get more creative and add them into savory soups, stews, and ramen recipes,” Isokauppila adds.

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Sure, you know apple slices taste delicious with a bit of cheese, or that chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. But there are plenty of people who swear by, shall we say, less traditional weird food combinations.

Even with some of the tried-and-true factors, like the fact that salty foods go so well with sweet ones, some of these food combinations are truly next-level. But they all work, as long as you’re willing to try something new. Here are some of the weirdest—and most loved—food combinations out there. Hey, don’t knock ’em ’til you try ’em.

1

Ice Cream and Fries

ice cream with fries amazing food pairings

If you’ve made a face when your friends dipped fries into a Wendy’s Frosty or McFlurry, it turns out they were onto something. This takes the combination of salty and sweet to the next level. Because in addition to the flavors, you’re also mixing the heat of a fresh box of fries with the coldness of the ice cream. Salty, sweet, hot, and cold all at the same time—what’s not to love? There’s no way of telling what brave soul first tried this combination. But we’re thankful for it, whoever they are.

Still not convinced this is a flavor people actually enjoy? Just ask Coolhaus! The brand sells a pint of “Milkshake & Fries” ice cream that includes bits of fries, along with malt balls, blended into vanilla ice cream.

2

Chocolate and Avocado

chocolate with avocado amazing food pairings

We’re not just talking about adding a piece of chocolate to your morning avocado toast, although that does sound delicious. Avocado’s creamy, buttery texture naturally lends itself to chocolate-flavored recipes, of which there are many to choose from. Dip your toes into the flavor combination with a creamy avocado and chocolate milkshake, which features cacao powder and a quarter avocado.

3

Olive Oil and Ice Cream

olive oil with ice cream amazing food pairings

If you haven’t tried it, you might be hesitant about this combination, but plenty of people swear by it. For a true salty-sweet combo, try adding a drizzle of olive oil and a few sea salt flakes to vanilla ice cream. You won’t regret it.

Another option is to try olive oil gelato if your local scoop shop offers it. But if you’re able to assemble the olive oil sundae yourself, you might be surprised to find you enjoy the taste after all.

4

Coca-Cola and Chicken

coke with chicken amazing food pairings

Recipes for “Cola chicken” are so abundant that Coca-Cola itself even has one on its website. While most people are more familiar with the soda in its drinkable form, there’s apparently something to be said for frying chicken in it, too. If you think about it, it is still a salty-sweet combo. And it’s not really much weirder than other sweet meat flavorings, like teriyaki or sweet barbecue sauce.

5

Strawberries and Balsamic

strawberries with balsamic amazing food pairings

Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are an age-old Italian combination that works surprisingly well. As Plated explained, the savory balsamic flavor makes strawberries taste even more sweet, complementing their already-juicy nature. Intrigued? Try this grilled strawberry shortcake recipe to give the strawberry-balsamic combination a try.

6

Cheddar Cheese and Apple Pie

cheddar cheese with apple pie amazing food pairings

Fresh apples and cheese slices are a common combination, so it was only a matter of time before the cheese idea hit apple pie, too. As Atlas Obscura reported, the tradition of adding cheese to apple pie seems to have originated in England, and it’s been going on for centuries. The outlet posits that today, cheddar-topped apple pie is more popular in dairy-producing regions of the United States like the Midwest and New England.

If you want to try out this trend, you don’t have to throw a yellow slice on top of the next slice of pie you eat. Try baking cheddar into your pie crust to test out this intriguing combo.

7

Peanut Butter and a Burger

peanut butter with burger amazing food pairings

While many of the options on this list rely on salty-sweet combinations, this is more of a salt and more salt situation. Apparently, adding melted peanut butter when forming beef patties will make them juicier. For an even more daring take on the combo, try adding Thai peanut sauce to your next burger for an unforgettable flavor combination.

8

Chocolate and Chips

chocolate with potato chips amazing food pairings

If you’ve ever poured a box of M&Ms right into your popcorn at the movie theater, this one’s for you. The salty-sweet combination is just delicious—there’s a reason chocolate-covered potato chips are a thing. Lay’s first released its chocolate-covered potato chips in 2013, but the pairing goes back way further than that. (If you’d rather stick to dipping your Lay’s in French onion dip, though, we don’t blame you.)

9

Banana and Bacon

banana with bacon amazing food pairings

While the true origins of this combo aren’t clear, it’s long been attributed, along with peanut butter, to Elvis Presley. There’s the sweet, carb-heavy banana, paired with creamy peanut butter and salty bacon, an unlikely but delicious trio perfect for sandwich-making.

10

Proscuitto and Melon

prosciutto with melon amazing food pairings

Combining salty and sweet flavors can be as simple as enjoying a bit of meat with fresh fruit. This Italian classic is perfect for a snack on a hot summer day. You can wrap the prosciutto around melon slices, or just eat the two side by side.

11

Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwiches

peanut butter with pickles amazing food pairings

The New York Times caught a lot of flak for suggesting readers add peas into their guacamole, but the paper also caused a bit of controversy with this peanut butter and pickle sandwich suggestion. For pickle lovers, there’s not much the tart flavor can’t improve, and peanut butter is sturdy enough to withstand the pickle juice without the sandwich falling apart. Or, as the Times put it, “The vinegary snap of the pickles tempers the unctuousness of the peanut butter, and it’s an unusual pantry sandwich for when luncheon meats leave you cold.”

12

Chicken and Pickle Brine

chicken with pickle brine amazing food pairings

At this point, we’ve already conceded to frying chicken in Coca-Cola—and compared to that, chicken in pickle brine sounds downright normal. Supposedly, Chick-Fil-A cooks its chicken in pickle brine, which could explain why the fast-food chain has so many devotees. The pickle brine keeps the meat juicy, without overpowering its natural flavor.

13

Pizza and Ranch Dressing

pizza with ranch amazing food pairings

A school cafeteria classic, this tried-and-true combination really hits the spot. The tangy ranch complements the tomato sauce perfectly—you wouldn’t think it would work, but it does.

As The New York Times reported, the pizza and ranch combination seems to have started when Domino’s offered ranch dressing alongside its wings in 1994. Endeavoring customers used the dressing for their pizzas, not just the wings, and the trend caught on.

14

Ketchup and Ranch Dressing

ranch with ketchup amazing food pairings

The orange-hued dressing that comes from mixing ketchup and ranch is so popular that Heinz is now making bottled “Kranch”. The dressing sounds like it would be good on anything from fries to sandwiches to salads. And you can always mix your own at home.

15

Blueberries and Steak

blueberries with steak amazing food pairings

Google “blueberries and steak,” and you’ll find plenty of recipes for blueberry-based sauces to add to your filet. The fruit is sweet, but not too sweet, and it won’t overpower the meat’s flavor. If making your own steak sauce sounds too complicated, start off with a blueberry steak salad.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

16

Watermelon and Salt

watermelon with salt amazing food pairings

If you haven’t tried this combo, you might think that salt would dry out the watermelon’s watery, sweet flavor. However, the opposite is true. As with many of the other savory-sweet combos on this list, a pinch of salt will actually enhance the flavor of the watermelon’s natural sweetness. And as HuffPost explained, the salt actually makes the watermelon taste less bitter, too.

17

Pickles and Ice Cream

pickled with ice cream amazing food pairings

Supposedly, this is a common pregnancy craving—there’s even a pregnancy-focused cookbook called Pickles and Ice Cream. As Slate explained, there was even an episode of I Love Lucy where a pregnant Lucy dipped a pickle into a papaya milkshake while she was pregnant. (If you thought it was weird to dip French fries into a Frosty, imagine this concoction.) Of course, you don’t have to be pregnant if you want to try this combination on your own. No judgment here!

18

Bloody Mary and Steak

bloody mary with steak amazing food pairings

We don’t just mean ordering the two items together at brunch this weekend. No, there are plenty of recipes for combining the two items, with the Bloody Mary serving as a sort of marinade for the meat. Once you try this Bloody Mary skirt steak recipe, you’ll be a convert. It’s not clear what endeavoring brunch-lover first had the creative marinade idea, but you’ll be thanking them once you’ve tried it.

19

Strawberry and Basil

strawberries with basil amazing food pairings

If you’ve opened your mind to the possibility of combining strawberries and balsamic vinegar, strawberries and basil are just as winning a pair. The combination is delicious in drinks like lemonade, but there are plenty of recipes that combine the fruit and the herb, too. Whether you want to try a strawberry basil compote to top your desserts or a strawberry basil frozen yogurt recipe that stands on its own, the two of them really do pair well together.

20

Mango and Chili Powder

mango with chili powder amazing food pairings

Spicy food lovers might be interested in adding a sweet element to their next heat-filled dish. As this recipe for a chili-mango chicken stir-fry will show you, adding sweet elements into a spicy dish only makes the flavor more delicious. Adding hot sauce to mango is a Mexican standby, and once you’ve tried it, you’ll understand the appeal.

21

Sesame and Chocolate

sesame seeds with chocolate amazing food pairings

You might think of sesame seeds as the topping for to-go Chinese food or the buns from McDonald’s. But sesame is wonderfully versatile, and there’s a reason there are plenty of recipes for sesame and chocolate desserts. From black sesame truffles to sesame chocolate chip cookies, this is a simple but delicious flavor pairing you didn’t know you needed. Even Lindt makes a sesame chocolate bar!

22

Peanut Butter and Bacon

peanut butter with bacon amazing food pairings

As with the banana and bacon combo, it looks like Elvis really was on to something. Even if you don’t include the banana in the combination, the contrasting smoothness of peanut butter and crunchiness of bacon really do elevate the experience of eating them together.

23

Sriracha and Peanut Butter

sriracha with peanut butter amazing food pairings

If you’re bored of the same-old PB&J, meet PB&S. Sriracha has that sweet aftertaste without the sugar overload that jams can bring. Plus, the peanut butter will help cut some of the sriracha’s spiciness. You don’t have to use a fancy recipe with this combination, either: Just load up a sandwich with both sriracha and peanut butter.

24

French Fries and Honey

fries with honey amazing food pairings

If you want to add a bit of sweetness to your fries without a full-on serving of ice cream, honey can do the trick. Its sweet flavor goes perfectly with fast food’s salty goodness—there’s a reason McDonald’s offers honey among its chicken nugget dipping options.

25

Honey and Pizza

honey with pizza amazing food pairings

In a similar vein, honey makes an unexpectedly delicious pizza topping. Hot honey, in particular, is a delicious offset to the salt overload that comes with meat toppings like pepperoni. There’s a reason Emily in New York City has a cult following for their Colony pizza, which combines honey, pepperoni cups, and peppers for a sensory overload.

26

Hot Sauce and Ice Cream

hot sauce with ice cream amazing food pairings

If topping ice cream with olive oil is old hat for you, why not step it up a notch? Milk is a standard go-to for people trying to get that spicy taste out of their mouths, so this seems like the next step, in a way. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could even make your own sriracha ice cream.

27

Green Apple and Salsa

green apple with salsa amazing food pairings

Fruits like pineapple and mango are perfect in salsa, so why wouldn’t green apples be? Their tart flavor is perfect for spicy recipes, offsetting some of the heat while adding a tangy taste to the mix.

28

Miso and Butternut Squash

miso with butternut squash amazing food pairings

If you’ve only had the seasoning in the soup that comes at a Japanese steakhouse, you’re really missing out. Roasting butternut squash with miso or adding the seasoning to butternut squash soup adds a rich umami flavor to the sweet taste of the squash.

29

Watermelon and Feta

watermelon with feta amazing food pairings

Feta is the star of the classic Greek salad, but it’s just as delicious when paired with fruit. Its dense texture makes it the perfect way to add more flavor to a juicy watermelon salad. Add in mint, and you’re good to go.

30

Peanut Butter and Mayo

peanut butter with mayo amazing food pairings

This unlikely sandwich combo has a surprising number of fans. The Southern tradition came about in the Depression, but it’s stuck around for years, especially in those Southern states. While it may have been created out of lack of resources, the sandwich has stuck around thanks to its ability to meld two distinct flavors into one filling meal.

Now, are you brave enough to try out any of these unlikely treats?

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Gluten is often the first to go once people decide to embark on a weight-loss diet. However, cutting foods with gluten (which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye), such as whole-grain bread and bran-based breakfast cereals, can actually undermine your efforts to lose weight—and it may even cause heart disease!

According to a longitudinal study in The BMJ journal, avoiding gluten may result in the reduced consumption of fiber-rich whole grains, which may increase people’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. To come to these findings, researchers studied 2,273,931 people’s consumption of gluten over the course of 24 years and found that those who ate the least amount of gluten had the highest incidence of heart disease. The researchers concluded that those who don’t suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should go ahead and include gluten and whole grains in their diets.

RELATED: The 7-day diet that melts your belly fat fast.

Why should people without celiac or gluten sensitivity eat gluten?

woman eating cereal

“Gluten-free does not equal healthy,” Laura Burak MS, RD, CDN, says. “The majority of products that are created specifically to be ‘gluten-free‘ generally tend to be much more processed, contain more calories and added sugar, and contain less fiber and protein than the similar products that contain gluten.”

In fact, a Prague study found that compared to their gluten counterparts, gluten-free products were much more caloric and boasted a less-desirable nutrition panel. The study showed that gluten-free bread loaves had a significantly higher total fat and saturated fat contents, gluten-free pasta had a significantly lower sugar and protein contents, and gluten-free biscuits had a significantly lower protein content and significantly higher fat content. To make up for taste and the lack of gluten, which helps bind foods together and keep their shape, food manufacturers often add extra fat and sugar.

Regardless of gluten, always remember to check your foods’ nutrition label and ingredient list.

“A few of my favorite boxed or bagged items just happen to be gluten-free because the ingredients are mainly nuts, nut flours, seeds, beans, lentils, and brown rice,” Burak says, adding that she didn’t buy these products because they were gluten-free, but because they should be included as part of a healthy diet due to their high fiber content and quality ingredients.

“If a food comes in a bag or box, make sure you read the ingredients first,” Burak tells us. “If the ingredients are real and you can understand them, then go ahead and read the nutrition label next and look out for serving size, calories, fiber, and added sugar. Whether you must medically follow a gluten-free diet (as in, you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity) or not, you should be choosing mostly unpackaged, real foods anyway!” Burak says, adding that most real whole foods are naturally free of gluten. These foods include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins like poultry, lean beef, fish and eggs, fats like nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil, all beans and lentils, corn, potatoes, and certain grains like oatmeal that is certified gluten-free, quinoa, rice, bean-based pastas, amaranth, and buckwheat. “We should be limiting most processed foods, whether they’re marketed as gluten-free or not,” Burak points out.

So, if your body allows you to eat gluten, go ahead and do so! Many foods that contain gluten are also rich in heart-protecting and belly-slimming fiber, which can reduce your LDL cholesterol levels and stave off heart attacks and stroke.

 

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Carrots? Check! Broccoli? Got it. Kale? No brainer! If the drawers in your fridge are filled with vegetables that actually find their way to your dinner plate, give yourself a pat on the back. All those years of mom telling you to “eat your vegetables” are finally paying off—and she’s probably so proud! But boosting your health and the quality of your diet isn’t as simple as putting salad fork to mouth. If you want to get the most nutritional bang for your calorie buck (which you should), how you prep and cook your vegetables makes a big difference. Here, we reveal ways you may be taking vital nutrients right out of veggies without realizing it. Plus, get the easy ways to remedy each mistake so you can stay on track to better health and know how to cook vegetables, the right way.
1

Mistake: You don’t stray from the recipe.

You may have followed the recipe step-by-step, but that doesn’t mean you cooked your vegetables the right way. One of the most common culinary errors? Exposing vegetables to heat for too long. Doing so destroys the majority of vegetables’ nutrients. Boiling them is also a no-go. This method causes water-soluble micronutrients like riboflavin, folate, and B and C vitamins to leach out into the water—which most people then pour straight down the drain. Another surefire way to nix all the nutrients in your veggies? Throwing them into a deep fryer. No matter how healthy your veggies are, they can’t undo the damage that comes along with all the excess fat. So forget the deep fryer—and focus on these 40 Things Healthy Cooks Always Have in Their Kitchen instead!

The solution: Skip the boiling and long cooking times. Instead, steam your veggies for five minutes and then finish them in a saucepan over medium heat. If you want to make homemade “fries,” stay far away from the deep frier and bake your crunchy sticks on a metal tray instead.

2

Mistake: You’re smoking them out.

While you may love the slightly-burnt flavor that your grill lends to veggie kabobs, the hot and dry environment can deplete your produce’s nutrients. What’s worse, if you leave them on the grill long enough that they develop a blackened, charred appearance, that’s a sign the veggies could have been exposed to benzopyrene, a carcinogenic chemical found in cigarette smoke. Another recipe for nutritional disaster? Slathering veggies in oil rather than cooking them over extra-high heat in an attempt to sit down to the dinner table sooner. When oil is exposed to extreme heat, it creates smoke that can break down the antioxidants in vegetables.

The solution: Next time you’re BBQing outside, ditch the kabobs and cook your vegetables in a grill basket instead. This tactic eliminates the risk of consuming dangerous char, while helping the veggies retain their moisture, vitamins, and minerals. Whipping up dinner indoors? Stick to medium-high cooking heat and skip the olive oil drizzle before heating your veggies. Cooking them dry and adding the fat after will help cut back on antioxidant-depleting smoke.

3

Mistake: You toss out the good parts.

How many times have you chopped the stalk and leaves off your broccoli and tossed them into the trash? Or peeled off cucumber and potato skins? Don’t be embarrassed if you do it quite often—it’s a common error. But now’s the time to change your ways and stop throwing out the healthiest parts of the veggies. Skins, leaves, and stalks have unique nutrients not found in other parts of the vegetables. They also have higher concentrations of vitamins than parts more commonly consumed.

The solution: Step away from the peeler and chill with the chop-n-toss. Use broccoli stalks and leaves in stir-fries, soups, and salads to get a hefty dose of health-boosting nutrients.

4

Mistake: You use and abuse them.

Vegetables should be the star of your meal, not a vehicle for calorie- and fat-laden sauces. There are some people who think something is healthy just because it incorporates veggies, when it winds up being one of the worst “healthy” snacks out there! All of you cheese sauce and onion dip lovers out there know exactly what we’re talking about! You may have convinced yourself that your condiment choices are irrelevant when paired with something as low-cal and healthy as vegetables, but that simply isn’t true. Not convinced? Consider this: Marzetti Dill Veggie Dip manages to pack a whopping 110 calories into a teeny-tiny two-tablespoon serving. You’re likely loading up on three or four times that, which turns your 20-calorie serving of bell pepper slices into a 470-calorie disaster loaded with 48 grams of fat!

The solution: When you’re snacking on raw veggies, opt for hummus over dips. Opting for the Greek-inspired spread will save you 60 calories per serving—which really adds up when you’re downing a lot of the stuff. As for you cheese sauce lovers, look for sauce recipes that incorporate cheese—just not as the primary ingredient. We like versions that pair Parmesan with balsamic, garlic, and lemon juice.

5

Mistake: You skip the sink.

Conventionally-grown, pesticide-laden vegetables like celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, and tomatoes all made appearances on the 2018 Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen List. If you tend to quickly rinse these veggies—or not wash them at all—you’re likely ingesting chemical residues that can cause stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. The worst part is, these chemicals don’t just come and go. They hide out in our fat cells until we go on a diet and start losing weight. According to researchers, when the pounds start to come off, the chemicals come out of hibernation and shoot into the bloodstream, slowing energy expenditure and metabolism.

The solution: Even if you always buy organic, soak your veggies in a pot of water for 10-15 minutes before eating them. Then give them another quick rinse under some running water to make sure they’re clean.

RELATED: Easy, healthy, 350-calorie recipe ideas you can make at home.

6

Mistake: You’re not pairing them with fat.

If you stick with low-fat veggie dip to stay trim, you may be doing your health a disservice. According to Iowa and Ohio State University researchers, pairing a little bit of fat with red, yellow, orange, and dark-green vegetables helps the body absorb cancer-fighting and heart-healthy nutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene. Study findings show that you’ll need to consume six grams of added fat with your veggies to reap the maximum nutritional benefits. While that may seem like a lot, dietary guidelines actually suggest that healthy adults consume no more than 35 percent of total daily calories from fat—which is up to 70 grams a day if you’re consuming a 1,800-calorie diet.

The solution: Pair your veggies with healthy sources of fat. Typically eat a salad for lunch? Add a half cup of avocado (11 g fat) or two tablespoons of Cucina Antica Organic Caesar dressing (8 g fat) to your plate to hit the nutritional mark.

7

Mistake: You only eat them raw.

There’s nothing better than the sweet, crispy crunch of a fresh carrot, but munching on this orange vegetable raw isn’t the best way to get your daily dose of vitamins. According to an International Food Research Journal report, boiling the orange vegetable best preserves its nutrients. If learning this was a bit of a shocker for you, it’s understandable; many other veggies lose their water-soluble vitamins once they’re boiled. Tomatoes also get healthier under the heat. A Cornell University study found that cooking them boosts the amount of lycopene, a disease-fighting antioxidant in tomatoes. Researchers believe that heat softens the plant’s cell walls, allowing more nutrients to be released and then absorbed by our bodies.

The solution: In the Cornell University study, lycopene absorption rose 35 percent after tomatoes were cooked for 30 minutes at 190.4 degrees F. Follow suit if you want to reap the benefits at home. If you prefer to add carrots to your plate, boil, drain, and transfer them to a bowl and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, a bit of pepper, and dried rosemary to pump up the flavor. BONUS: 20 Awesome Recipes for Mason Jar Salads

8

Mistake: You’re juicing away their fiber.

Yes, juicing is better than eating no veggies at all, but when produce goes through the juicing machine, its fiber-rich skins and pulp that help boost satiety get left behind. The good news is, veggies’ vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals still find their way to your cup. There are actually at least 27 Things That Happen to Your Body on a Juice Cleanse!

The solution: Toss out your juicer! After removing the seeds and rinds, throw your veggies into a blender instead. This method retains vegetables’ healthy fiber. There are plenty of juicing companies that bottle blended versions, so you can grab a juice on the go without missing out on crucial fiber. If your drink comes out too thick when blending at home, add some water to thin it out a bit.

 

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As summer approaches, that means planning for graduation parties, family reunions, and picnics in the park. No such event is complete without food, and oftentimes, these events take place outdoors, which means it’s time to fire up the old grill for a barbecue. After all, those juicy burgers and flavorful steaks won’t flip themselves!

If you’re whipping up burgers or steaks for your family and friends, you should know what a top-notch, perfect beef dish requires before and after it’s been cooked: rest. Yes, it’s that easy. Though we know it’s hard to wait because it looks so good, there are real reasons why you should let meat rest before you cook it and before you cut into it.

If this is news to you, then hang tight and read on to find out exactly what this process is all about and for how long you should let meat rest!

Why is it important to let beef rest before you cook it?

The reason you want to allow beef to rest, which essentially allows it to come to room temperature before cooking, is to prevent it from drying out during the cooking process.

Josh Tanner of New York Prime Beef has told us before that if you’re going to grill meat, you will want to avoid plopping it on top of the flames just moments after taking it out of the refrigerator.

“Let your steak rest out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking,” advises Tanner. “This is important for larger, thicker cuts like a porterhouse or a big bone-in ribeye. If you throw a cold steak on the grill, it won’t cook as evenly and will dry out much more easily.”

You’ll then want to let a cooked burger or steak rest on the grill after it’s been cooked for the opposite reason.

RELATED: The 7-day diet that melts your belly fat fast.

Why is it important to let beef rest after you cook it?

Fabrice Poigin, Culinary Director at King’s Fish House, and Patrick Ochs, Corporate Executive chef for INK Entertainment USA, have also told us that one of the biggest mistakes you can make while making burgers is not giving the meat adequate time to rest on the grill.

“Allow the beef patty to rest at least a couple of minutes after cooking. Some blood and juices will drip away, thus keeping the bun from getting soggy,” says Poigin.

Ochs concurs and says that “resting is very important when cooking a burger. Like most meats, giving your burger the chance to rest allows all of the deliciously mouthwatering juices to collect and re-distribute throughout the patty for a real concentrated juicy flavor. The smaller the burger patty is, the less time that’s needed to rest.”

How long should you let the meat rest?

If you’re cooking a thick burger, you should allow the meat to rest for up to six to 10 minutes. For a smaller burger, waiting four minutes should suffice. For larger steaks, it may be worth waiting closer to 15 minutes before cutting into it to keep it tender and so the juices don’t seep out. Now, it’s time to get grilling and create the best burgers and steaks you’ve ever made!

The post Why Should You Let Meat Rest? appeared first on Eat This Not That.

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Queen Bey’s iconic 2018 Coachella performance was unforgettable, and her recent documentary gives us an even more in-depth look into the work that went into it. The behind-the-scenes feature Homecoming, which was released on Netflix on April 17, sheds light on the drastic measures Beyoncé took to get her body ready for the concert. And some of her habits toed the line between healthy and extreme.

In the film, Beyoncé gives fans a close-up look at how she got in shape for the big performance, which took place almost a year after she gave birth to twins Rumi and Sir Carter in June 2017. Bey revealed that just before her C-section, she weighed 218 pounds.

RELATED: How to Do 5 Beyoncé-Inspired Dance Moves

"In order for me to meet my goals, I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol—and I’m hungry," she says in the documentary. "I had to rebuild my body from cut muscles. What people don't see is the sacrifice."

While it appears that the superstar’s method was effective, we wanted to know, is it really healthy to eliminate so many food groups at once?

“There are so many things wrong with this,” Keri Gans, RDN, tells Health. “The first is the message of restriction in order to lose weight. I really wish these celebrities would stop repeating this message, it’s all too familiar. One does not need to be on a restrictive diet in order to be at a healthy body weight.”

Gans adds that some of the foods Beyoncé claimed to have eliminated (such as bread and dairy) actually have nutritional benefits that are vital to a well-rounded diet.

RELATED: Should You Try Beyoncé's Greenprint Diet?

“There’s a lot of research that will say that a diet high in whole grains—100% whole grains—can help reduce heart disease and may help reduce cholesterol levels,” Gans says. “And why would you eliminate dairy? That has calcium and vitamin D. And yogurt? That has probiotics.”

Because Beyoncé didn’t go into further detail on her extreme diet, Gans says that it’s hard to tell exactly what foods she was cutting out. But she adds that anyone looking to lose weight should consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist before eliminating foods to ensure all nutrient requirements are being met.

“If you’re looking to lose weight, you will lose weight if you eliminate food groups,” Gans says. “But what I can also promise you is that when you start including these foods you enjoy back into your diet, you’re going to gain your weight back. All you have learned is how to eliminate a food, not how to eat a food in a healthy way.”

RELATED: Beyoncé Reveals She Had an Emergency C-Section. Here's What the Procedure Really Does to Your Body

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After six years in a happy relationship, Mary Jane O’Toole thought a proposal might be on the way. But life with her boyfriend, Alex, hadn’t been good for her eating habits.

Although O’Toole had grown up overweight, she had become “clinically obese” from fast food dinners and a lack of exercise.

“I didn’t really understand how to eat properly,” O’Toole tells PEOPLE. “I never ate because I was hungry — it was because it smelled or looked good, or because my friends were going to Steak n’ Shake or Taco Bell. Then when I met my husband, he had always been active and thought that as long as he worked out he could eat whatever he wanted, and I started to do that too, but I was never active. We just ballooned up.”

RELATED: No Crash Diets or Crazy Restrictions: How This Woman Lost 80 Lbs. with Small Changes

Her extra weight — which hit 281 lbs. that year — was causing health problems that the Orlando-based leasing assistant tried to ignore.

“I didn’t realize that my weight had caused me so much pain,” she admits. “I was in my cousin’s wedding and one of those group dance songs came on and I tried to get low and my knees would hurt. I thought I was getting arthritis — I always had some excuse in my head — but it was just because my knees couldn’t bear the weight of my body.”

Deep down, O’Toole knew that she needed to make a change — as did her husband-to-be, Alex, but it wasn’t until she saw photos from a trip to the Animal Kingdom at DisneyWorld that they found their motivation.

“When we got home they sent us the photos and I was mortified,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how big I had become. We didn’t even recognize ourselves.”

RELATED: 5 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat

Together, the couple set weight loss goals and downloaded the app LoseIt!, where users can log their meals, track their calories and monitor their weight loss.

“We had tried using it before and stopped, but seeing those photos was the catalyst we really needed,” she says.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Get Slim Without a Diet

Plus, O’Toole wanted the wedding dress of her dreams.

“I didn’t want to buy a plus-size wedding dress, because they cost way more than straight sizes,” she says. “I was tired of having to buy clothes that were only at certain stores. I felt like I was paying this fat tax — I didn’t have the ability to buy affordable clothes because I was bigger.”

O’Toole was wary of making drastic changes that wouldn’t stick, so they started out slowly.

“I strategically planned my meals to get the maximum calories. It became a game to me,” she says. “I got smarter about it out of a pure desire to eat more food.”

RELATED: What Exactly Is Metabolism—and Can You Speed Yours Up?

And it worked — O’Toole dropped 75 lbs. in a year, and Alex hit his weight loss goal. After those first 12 months, they started to integrate exercise into their daily routine, something that O’Toole had never done before. Six months later, with three days of strength training and two days of yoga a week, she was 100 lbs. down.

“The day that I hit 100 lbs. lost was amazing,” she says. “ When I was 16 I weighed in at 170, and stayed there for a while before gaining it rapidly. So to get under that number, I was freaking out. I actually celebrated by going to the gym, because I had so much energy.”

O’Toole reached her current weight, 146 lbs., a few months later, and ended up with a wedding dress — a size six, her first time in the single digits in her adult life — that she never thought she could wear.

RELATED: This Woman Looks Like She Lost Weight, but She Actually Gained 25 Pounds—Here’s How

“The ideal dress that I had in my head was cleavage-baring with a dramatic accent, and then I went with a long-sleeved dress that went up to my neck with a bare back. I had never pictured something fitted, but I felt awesome in it because I had done it and lost the weight,” she says. Walking down the stairs that led to the aisle was very satisfying, because I knew there were people there who hadn’t seen me since I was much bigger. It was this dramatic moment.”

O’Toole’s original weight loss goal was to hit 135 lbs., but she’s since realized that it may not be possible for her body.

“It’s been a little frustrating to find that I can’t break out of the 140s, but what I’m learning about my body now is that your goals will constantly change, because your body is changing,” she says. “Muscle weighs more than fat, and I just need to be conscious of the fact that I’m going to weigh more but it’s better for my body.”

RELATED: Meet the Woman Who Went From a Size 24 to a 12 in Less Than a Year

She also discovered that her significant weight loss — 135 lbs. in total — left her with excess skin.

“I can pick up the skin on my stomach and my legs,” she says. “I thought bathing suit shopping was going to be this amazing experience, but it’s just as traumatizing. There’s a part of me that wants to get skin removal surgery, but the idea of the drains freak me out. And I am very body positive, so I need to learn to love the body that I’m in. I’ve accomplished this incredible goal and I need to be proud of it.”

Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, O’Toole is making the point to celebrate her “non-scale victories.”

“The biggest one is being able to shop out of my friends’ closets — I had never been able to do that before,” she says. It’s so cool, it’s like I have double the closets, and what I had always dreamt about doing in high school!”

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