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Gear Up For Your Spring Garden!

The winter can start to feel quite long this time of year – especially with seemingly endless winter vortices, storms and bitter cold – but Spring planting, gardens, and produce are just around the corner!

If starting seeds indoors, now is the time to start your broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, and eggplant! As soon as the soil can be worked, spinach and parsley seeds can be tossed in the ground! This week we’re talking about different ways to obtain and grow your own local produce.

Find help in growing your own produce through your local county horticultural department!

In the Green Bay, WI area go to https://www.co.brown.wi.us/ and navigate to Departments/ UW-Extension area you will find tons of resources like classes and articles to help you with gardening needs (and a lot of community resources that you may not even know about!).

There is specifically a page for Urban Horticulture and Natural Resources Program which has weekly articles and resources for soil testing, plant identification, and more.

Find Local Produce Through a CSA:

What is a CSA? In Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA), a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public in return for a seasonal fee of anywhere from $350-$700 depending on the farmer and program.

Shares typically consist of a box of produce, but other farm products may also be included like jams, baked goods, eggs, soaps, herbs, and more! Many farmers will team up with other local farmers or businesses to provide the largest selection of fruit, vegetables, animal, and/or dairy products they can.

Now is the time to get signed up! Typically farmers take a survey from their pledged consumers before the planting season so they can be sure to provide as much of the things you want as they can. What could be better??

You can find local CSA’s by searching www.localharvest.org. Wisconsin members check out the CSA delivered right here to Ellipse Fitness Allouez! Healthy Ridge Farm, now offering ½ shares too!

Read our past blog post on CSA’s here!

Get to Your Local Farmer’s Market!

Not sure where to find one close to you? Check out localharvest.org and click on Farmer’s Markets where you can search your city or zip code to see a map and listing of markets near you!

The Green Bay WINTER Farmer’s market, weekly at the KI Center, just wrapped but, keep an eye out next season to satisfy your needs for local products when it is frosty out!

Community Garden Blitz!

In the Green Bay area, the Brown County UW Extension teams up with New Leaf Foods with a program called Green Bay Garden Blitz, to provide the resources and knowledge of urban gardening by selling and installing raised garden beds, with the help of volunteers, at a low cost ($175 for an 8’x4’ rot resistant box including delivery, installation, and soil)!

They also provide experienced gardener mentors for new growers. Since 2014, 547 gardens have been built in Green Bay through this program. This year even local public schools will benefit from boxes being installed at school locations allowing classrooms to learn first-hand about healthy food and nutrition (www.newleaffoods.org).

Pancakes, Pie, Naps?? Yes Please!

This week we are celebrating anything and everything folks!! And we’ve got some fantastic recipes to help you celebrate some obscure holidays.

National Nap Day!

Let’s kick this week off with a very happy National Nap Day! Sleep plays a role in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels, control body weight, and enhance memory. Sleep helps to reduce inflammation in the body.

The Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per day for ideal health. Improve your sleep with the same bedtime/wake time, limiting blue light exposure (they make glasses for this now!), exercising regularly, and limiting caffeine and heavy meals in the evening.

National Pancake Day!

Love pancakes but think they are off limits? Maybe it’s time to try a few different options that may suit your goals! Have you tried Kodiak Cakes? They contain ingredients you can feel pretty good about including 21g of protein per serving when made with a milk and egg.

Or, try one of the many recipes “out there” that include oats, cottage cheese, banana, and eggs like this OR go super simple with a 3 ingredient pancake: ½ C cottage cheese, ½ c. rolled oats, and 3 eggs. Blend in a blender and cook!

National Cruciferous Day?

Alright this one isn’t real – yet! But we think it should be!

Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to have cancer-fighting attributes and contain many beneficial properties. Cauliflower has come back into fashion with all sorts of new ways to prepare it – cauliflower crusts anyone?

If you haven’t jumped onto the cruciferous wave yet, give this Cauliflower Hash recipe a whirl. It cooks up fasts and you’ll struggle not to eat the whole thing!

Chop a head of cauliflower and an onion and sauté until starting to brown. Toss in paprika, salt, pepper, and water and cook briefly until the cauliflower is tender. Add minced garlic and lemon juice and enjoy!

Happy Pi Day!

This one is for real though! (3/14…3.14, get it?)

Let’s talk PIE…better yet, PIE for dinner, not dessert! Have you tried Spaghetti Squash Pie? Think, spaghetti squash, zucchini, fresh basil and marinara all wrapped up in one dinner!

Alright, alright that one isn’t dessert though…If you need a little sweet, here’s an Apple Pie Shake recipe!

Éirinn go Brách!

Now surely you have heard of St. Patrick’s Day, but we’ve got a special smoothie to try in honor of the holiday! Skip the popular green shake that packs 63 GRAM OF SUGAR!

Green smoothies are commonly created by adding spinach to smoothies. Spinach is nutritious, but essentially tasteless in smoothies so it’s a great addition for a vitamin and mineral boost!

Try this St Patty’s Day Smoothie Treat: Blend 1 frozen banana, 1 cup spinach, ¼-1/2 Tbsp. of cocoa powder, ½-1 scoop vanilla protein powder, cacao nibs, and unsweetened almond milk to taste. Greener? Add some matcha powder! Need more healthy fats? Add some flax or hemp seeds!

Special Mention:

Happy 10 Years to Ellipse Fitness St. Louis!

It’s time to throw a party! Need to bring a dish to pass? Try a Chinese chicken salad with cabbage, lettuce, fresh herbs, and chicken. Check out this great recipe here! (you can swap iceberg lettuce for romaine for a few more nutrients and add as much cabbage as you see fit)

AND try an old Ellipse Fitness Favorite: Party Pepper Salad filled with sweet peppers and beans.

Excellent Recipes Celebrating Mardi Gras and Lent!

It is NEVER the wrong time of year to try some new things in the kitchen! Boredom is absolutely one of the number one reasons people fail to stick with healthy habits, so mix things up with some new recipes and take in the spirit of the season!

Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday is well known as a holiday for binging on heavy foods in preparation for the fast of Lent, but we have some delicious recipes for you to try out that will delight your taste buds AND protect you from regret!

Gumbo

This fantastic Gumbo Recipe combines Shrimp and Chicken with a bunch of veggies and BIG flavor to create a dish you won’t forget!

Jambalaya

What’s the difference between Jambalaya and Gumbo you might ask? While Gumbo is more of a stew, Jambalaya is more of a rice-based dish essentially.

This Jambalaya Recipe may just become a year-round staple as it is light and filling at the same time, packs big cajun flavor and that Andouille Sausage is just the icing on the cake so-to-speak!

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the 40 days before Easter Sunday. For many, this is a day of an abstinence from all meat and foods made with meat, along with each Friday during lent.

There are many meals that are complete and tasty that don’t include meat! From a non-religious standpoint, many people choose to practice Meatless Mondays, or just choose one day a week to abstain from meat consumption for health or environmental reasons.

Whatever the reason, we’ve got a Whole-30 Approved, Veggie Power Bowl for you! And best of all, it’s simple:

Roast a pan of vegetables, make a simple sauce (whisk lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, small amount of water and salt), and serve with hard boiled eggs or beans like garbanzo or black beans. Check the recipe here!

Lenten Fridays

Lent has begun for many, and some have a tradition of fish on Friday’s! Another great many of us just need an excuse to incorporate more fish in our diet.

Fish is a great part of a balanced diet with high protein and low fat. Even fatty-fish (like salmon) have huge amounts of beneficial omega-3 fat that helps offset our often high omega-6’s that can come with overconsumption with red-meat. Never tried fish tacos? You’re missing out!

Check out these Mahi-Mahi Blackened Fish Tacos! Going low carb? Skip the tortilla and make it into a bowl with extra cabbage!

While EVERY day may not be a holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t be grateful for every new day and new beginning!

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research, finding happiness and gratefulness in each day literally changes our brain and makes us healthier and happier!

Let’s be grateful for the impending return of Spring, and don’t forget Sunday, March 10th begins Daylight Savings Time! Set your clocks ahead when you go to bed!

It’s time to leap ahead into spring cleaning our mindset, simplifying our lives and homes, and start planning your spring garden!

Boost Winter Nutrition with Sprouts and Microgreens!

It’s winter and it feels like it can be harder to get more nutrient dense foods like lush greens from the garden and ripe tomatoes from the vine. Try bringing the simplest of gardens indoors!

You can grow microgreens and sprout your own seeds and grains to add a major boost of vitamins and minerals to your meals.

Microgreens

Do you eat microgreens? No matter what the season, microgreens can be grown near a sunny window year-round!

Microgreens are harvested after the first set of true leaves have sprouted in 1-3 weeks. Snow pea shoots, red beets, purple and green basil, pak choi, cilantro, parsley and mesclun mix germinate and grow to microgreen size in about two weeks.

Add microgreens into your next salad, sandwich, stir-fry or just eat by themselves! Check out this DIY video tutorial here!

Sprouts

Differing from microgreens, sprouts are harvested within just a couple days of breaking away from the seed or legume. Plants grown specifically for their sprouts are grown in water and either dark or partial light.

Grow your own sprouts at home with a mason jar and cheesecloth or to make getting started easier, you can purchase a special sprouting container that has a screen/sieve built into the cover and sits on an angle to drain water best.

Why So Expensive?

Well first off, the cost comes way down when you do it yourself! But long story short: Just think, a seed can produce a full plant or it can produce one sprout. Microgreens and sprouts have a higher cost due to the number of seeds it requires to create your end-product. Have extra garden seeds left over? Throw them in a pot with soil, densely, and create your own microgreens at home!

Sprouted Grain Bread

I eat sprouts…is that the same thing that is in sprouted grain bread?

Basically, yes. Most sprouts are from pulses/beans where most breads are made from whole grain seeds that are just starting to sprout, called sprouted grains. Seeds are living things! When sprouted, they are easily digestible since their starch is broken down, having a minimal effect on blood sugar and contain more protein, vitamin c, folate, fiber and B vitamins, and essential amino acids than their non-sprouted counterparts. Some people with allergenic tendency towards grains find less sensitivity to sprouted grains since they have less starch.

Note: Generally, sprouted grain foods should be refrigerated to avoid bacteria that can grow on them (think warm, moist environment for sprouting to occur). Therefore, the truest “sprouted grain” products will be found in the refrigerated or frozen section. One of the cleanest and well-known breads in the frozen section are the Ezekiel brand products that come in bread, buns, and wraps. Slightly more processed versions, that are also then less dense, that are not in the frozen section would be Dave’s Killer Bread – Sprouted and Angelic Bakehouse products.

6 Must-Haves to Deck Out Your Kitchen!

Have you ever wondered how those celebrity chefs always look overjoyed to be running around the kitchen cooking??

Look closer and you’ll notice they have all the proper tools, things are organized and measured out, and you probably haven’t ever seen them do the dishes!

You might have to enlist a friend, spouse or kids to take care of that last one, but this week we’re helping you deck out your kitchen to make sure you have what you need to enjoy cooking and food prep!

Start Simple: Get the Basics

1. Sharp Knives

Make sure you have sharp knives to work with! If you don’t have a good knife sharpener at home, go and get one. There’s nothing worse than trying to cut a tomato with a dull knife – you might as well use a hammer. Preparation time can be cut in half with the right knives!

2. Silicone Cookware

Do you have silicone cookware in your home? If not, it’s a must! Silicone utensils have become fairly commonplace, but now it comes in the form of muffin, loaf, and cake pans – even parchment! The non-stick capability is unbelievable AND it’s dishwasher safe!

Silicone bakeware can go straight from the freezer to the oven, and utensils won’t scrape your cooking surfaces!

*Not sure if it’s 100% silicone? Give it a pinch test. When you pinch the silicone material, if it changes color, stay away. If it looks the same, you are good to go

3. Quality Pots and Pans

Have you ever tried to cook with a wobbly pot on a cooktop? Not only is it annoying, but you’ll get uneven cooking. Still working with scratched up teflon pots and pans you’ve had for 10 years? It might be time for an upgrade!

There are some that swear by cast-iron skillets (*be careful of scratching a cooktop) and there is a “Cadillac” of pans, the carbon steel option is what most restaurants reach for – like cast iron for heat retention, but a fraction of the weight.

Have you ever used a “Chef’s Pan” AKA “Saucier Pan”? With their higher edges they can not only work for standard frying, and sautéing, but also take the place of a soup kettle for smaller batches and are excellent for “one-pan” type dishes.

4. Baking Sheet

Did you know a cookie sheet is defined as a sheet without sides, or just a small lip, and a baking sheet has a rimmed edge? The rimmed edge can be helpful to contain juices and oils for general cooking.

Look for a pan with a 10-18 gauge rating (the lower the gauge, the thicker/more durable the pan) to avoid warping and thus more uniform baking. A good quality sheet with uncoated aluminum can provide a, surprisingly, non-stick environment! You can use baking sheets to make full meals with one sheet a million different ways – just check out this Roast Chicken and Veggies Recipe!

5. Box Grater

With a high quality 4-sided box grater you can make food prep a breeze! The largest setting is perfect for the most common, cheeses of course but also vegetables like zucchini, apples, carrots, onions, cabbage, and more! Even tomatoes if you are using for sauce!

There is the side for smaller shreds. The prickly side for grating things like hard cheese and zesting citrus. The slicing side can take the place of a mandolin in a pinch.

TIP: Freeze cheese for a short time to making shredding easier.

TIP 2: Save your knuckles by purchasing Food Grade Cut Resistant Gloves!

6. Measuring Cups

Did you ever wonder why you need one of those glass type measuring cups for liquid? Why can’t you just use a regular measuring cup?

Standard measuring cups are meant for solids where you can just scrape along the top to get a precise measurement. Liquid measuring cups indicated 1C = 8 oz but it means one cup = 8 FLUID ounces.

Dry ingredients differ in weight, i.e 1C of flour = 4.5 ounces, not 8oz. If your recipe calls for ounces of dry ingredients, make sure to weigh it!

TIP: Yogurt should be measured in a liquids cup.

It Takes More Than an Apple a Day to Keep the Doctor Away!

This week we are highlighting an exciting new App from NutritionFacts.Org called Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen.

NutritionFacts.Org is a free website that curates the piles and piles of research out there and scours it to weed out bias, flawed studies, and more to provide short summary videos and articles on every health topic you can imagine.

Recently, they released this FREE app. Rather than food plans, it offers a daily list you can check off of the healthiest foods that are ideally consumed on a daily basis. This week we’ll look at a few of the checkbox categories and offer ways to incorporate them into your diet. Download the app and follow along to add an additional check to your list each day!

Get it here for Apple – or here for Android

Incorporate More Beans!

Blend various types of beans with spices to make spreads for sandwiches or vegetable dips! Add pureed beans to thicken soups! The possibilities are endless!

Here’s a 5-Minute Black Bean Dip!

Add Berries!

Berries can be added to many whole grain-based dishes, like quinoa and kale salads. Have you tried the Costco bagged kale salad with cranberries and pepitas? Yum!

More Flaxseed Please!

Try adding flaxseed to your oatmeal, smoothies, dressings, or anything you’d like adding a slightly nutty flavor too! Packed full of healthy omega-3 fats and fiber!

Eat More Cruciferous Veggies!

Add more cruciferous vegetables to your day like red cabbage in your tacos, broccoli or kale in a pasta dish, or even roasted Brussel sprouts on your salad!

Add Whole Cooked Grains!

For a more filling meal, try adding whole grains like barley, buckwheat, quinoa, farrow, oat groats, or millet to soups and salads!

Simple Tips That Will Change Dieting Forever

Not Sure Where To Begin?

We have all been there. It is time to make a change. You feel like you need to make a major shift in the way you eat. A friend had great success with this or that extreme diet, while someone else you know had terrible results.

There is so much information, and honestly so much BAD information out there with regards to dieting and proper nutrition that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Making drastic changes, cutting, slashing, restricting, etc can lead to a very short-lived diet change for most of us. Try taking it one step at a time and incorporating these basic ideas!

1. Eat Intuitively!

Intuitive Eating is associated with lower body fat and better relationships with food. Eat intuitively by rating your hunger on a scale from 1 (weakness/dizziness has set in) to 10 (you may have to roll me out the door/filled to the point of feeling sick).

Really listening to your body before eating, to determine if you are truly hungry, and while eating slowing down to let your body detect fullness levels, will keep you on the right track with intuitive eating. Try it at your next meal!

2. Think Abundance Instead of Restriction!

Start by adding an additional serving of vegetables to your day. Once that becomes habit, add two servings. When eating intuitively, the vegetables will start to take the place of more calorie dense food choices like starches or junk food!

3. Check Your Portions!

Our friends at Precision Nutrition suggests a palm of protein, a cupped hand of carbohydrates, a fist of vegetables, and a thumb of fat for most. If you are still hungry, add another fist of vegetables. Click the image for a great article on portion control!

Still hungry after intuitively eating? Add a small amount of protein. It will take a number of weeks (maybe even months) to work through and find the amounts and timing that works best for you body, lifestyle, and schedule. There is no one-size fits all in nutrition, but start from a baseline and build from there.

4. Don’t Give Up All Your Favorites!

The IDEA Fitness Journal suggests “Flipping” your ingredients. Instead of that traditional burrito, ask for a burrito bowl which puts all the ingredients of a burrito into a bowl instead of a wrap.

Instead of eating ice cream with fruit on top, try a spoonful of ice cream on top of a bowl of fruit!

Instead of a steak dinner with a side of potato and vegetable, try a salad with sliced steak and cubed potatoes on the side.

(Source: Padgett, Cassandra MS . “Nutrition Hacks Based on Hard Science” IDEA Fitness Journal, January 2019: 46-49. Print)

5. Beware of False “Health Food”!

Be cautious of “Food Halos” – foods high in sugar or artificial ingredients that are packaged to appear healthy and may even be lurking in the “health food” section of the grocery store!

Tuna and chicken salads for instance are often laden with heavy amounts of mayo. Making your own? Try swapping out the mayo for plain Greek yogurt.

Think instant oatmeal is a healthy go-to breakfast? Be watchful of high sugar levels! Consider using one pack and adding plain rolled oats, walnuts, and berries to balance out the load…even better, start with plain oats and build your own oatmeal so you are aware of what is going into it!

6. Build Healthy Habits!

The most important thing to remember is that building healthy habits and determining the right path for YOUR body will take time. Determine your priority in nutrition. Where can you make an easy change that will have significant results for your health and wellness?

Is it more water every day? Maybe you drink several sodas per day and just swapping them out with water will yield you incredible benefits!

Need to eat more vegetables? To trim out the excess snacking or late-night eating? Work on ONE habit first and do not move on until it’s mastered. For many, this will take at least a week or two. In some cases, much longer.

It may take more time than you’d like – scratch that, it WILL take longer than you’d like – but in the long run when it’s just part of what you do and you are well on your way to your goal, it will seem like a blink in time.

Take it one step at a time…

Pets and Health: Bigger Than You Thought!

According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey (yes that is a real thing!), 68% of US households – about 85 million families – own a pet.

Studies have shown that dog owners particularly decrease their risk of death in general by 33 percent compared with those without a pet!!

This week we’ll talk about how pets can have a positive impact on your health from stress to fitness! Don’t have a pet? Go check out the local humane society and/or pet sanctuaries!

Pets and Stress Response:

Now this may depend on the person – and on the pet – but numerous studies have shown that pets can help lower blood pressure and regulate the heart rate during stressful conditions. Even when they are not with you at the time! Pretty amazing. Outside of casual health benefits, therapy animals can be used for more extensive needs, such as equine therapy for conditions from depression, to anxiety and post-traumatic stress!
Check out this link for info on therapy dogs!

Pets and Staying Active:

Pets can help you stay active, particularly if you have a pet that requires outside time. Walking the dog for instance is an activity that will force you to get outside in even the harsh winter conditions instead of loafing around when the weather is poor! Going for a short walk can have tremendous health benefits when compared with hours of sitting uninterrupted.

Pets and Mental Health:

On the same idea as licensed therapy pets, pets love you for who you are without judgement, which can lead to feelings of acceptance that one may not always get from family or society! Dog parks can be a great way to get active with your pet as well as have a social outlet with others that share a common interest.

Find local parks, and establishments, where you can bring your dog along at www.bringfido.com. Check out the activities area for local dog parks and outdoor options.

Pets and Allergies:

The National Institute of Health has suggested “children exposed to high indoor levels of pet or pest allergens during infancy have a lower risk of developing asthma by 7 years old.” (Source) A similar earlier study found homes with cats had a protective effect, having made allergy-related antibodies, against asthma symptoms in young children. Some scientists believe pets carry microbes that stimulate the immune system so that children don’t become allergic. (Source)

A Pet a Day Keeps the Doctor Away:

Two studies involving the same participants 5 years apart showed that people who had a pet both at the first and second touchpoint had the fewest doctors visits of the group, followed by the group who had no pet the first round and had then acquired one within the 5 years preceding the next.

Take a moment to think about that!

Dog, Cat, Horse, Fish, Bird – any pet counts!

More Resources:
http://www.center4research.org/benefits-pets-human-health/
https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/6-ways-pets-improve-your-health#2

Chickpeas – WAY More Than Hummus!

Two-weeks ago we talked about plant-based eating. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans have a moderate calorie load and are a great source for fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Despite their starchy appearance, chickpeas fall into the low-glycemic load category (with a glycemic index of 28).

Make chickpeas, from dry, easily at home with an Instant Pot! Dried beans are incredibly cheap even compared with their canned counterparts and aren’t loaded with sodium! Check out a super easy NO-SOAK chickpea recipe from a previous blog post using an Instant Pot!

First: Some Background

Chickpeas were first harvested in 3000 B.C in southeast Turkey and later spread to India and Africa. Today they are a part of many nutritious dishes by swapping out less nutrient dense items like pasta.

Chickpeas are classified pulses. Pulses are part of the legume family, any plant that grows in a pod, but a pulse is the dry edible seed within the pod. Pulses are complex carbs, which means they stick with you longer releasing energy over time vs simple sugars which release all their energy at once – increasing blood sugar and fat storage.

Pulses contain PREbiotic fiber (undigetstible plant fibers that feed the probiotics/good bacteria) which contributes to gut health! These powerhouses of nutrition contain more folate than kale! Eat more vegetables by dipping them in your own fresh hummus, or incorporate chickpeas into your diet many different ways via the recipes below!

Recipes

Make Your Own Hummus!

In a food processor, combine 1 can of chickpeas, 2-4 Tbsp. water, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4-1/2 Tsp smoked paprika, 3/4 Tsp cumin, and 1/2 Tsp salt. Blend until smooth! Get creative with add in’s like spinach, olives, feta cheese, and more! If you like thinner hummus, simply add more water. Super FAST and TASTY!

Charred Chickpea Corn Salad

Combining chickpeas, quinoa, sweet peppers, and avocado – this healthy recipe is amazingly delicious!

Check it out here!

Super-Fast Chicken and Chickpeas

Directions: In a large skillet, sauté the garlic in 1 tsp olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken and onions. Stir fry for a few minutes, until onions begin to brown, then add the remaining ingredients. Continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes, until the meal has a good consistency.

– 8 oz roasted chicken breast, chopped
– 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 1 large tomato, chopped
– 2 tsp olive oil

– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1/4 tsp cumin
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 cardamom pods (Or equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg)

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa

Here we’ve found a really interesting recipe for sweet & savory, 30-minute Moroccan chickpea quinoa salad made in one pot!

Easy, nutritious, beautiful AND delicious!

Get the recipe here!

Spinach & Sweet Potato Crustless Quiche

Try chickpeas for BREAKFAST with this veggie quiche! (note: nutritional yeast is part of the recipe which gives it the cheesy flavor without cheese!)

Roast sweet potato cubes in the oven, then combine chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt and water. Mix with roasted sweet potato cubes, spinach, garlic, and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. Voila!

Full recipe here!

Dry Needling for Joint and Muscle Pain Relief

What is Dry Needling?

The name “dry needling” comes from studies that were done to determine the effectiveness of injections. The studies showed that just putting a needle into a trigger point (a small, tight, tender area in a muscle) was just as effective as injecting a pain relieving or anti-inflammatory medication into the trigger point. Since nothing is injected with dry needling, we refer to it as “dry.”

Is Dry Needling the Same as Acupuncture?

While the two are often confused, they are actually different treatments. Dry needling is performed in the dysfunctional area, whereas acupuncture may be performed in the hand to address a headache, for example. Dry needling also focuses mainly on the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.

How is Dry Needling Done?

First, the area of pain or tension will be assessed in order to locate trigger points. Then a needle will be placed into the muscle, and then the needle will be moved around in small movements that cause the muscle to activate – seen or felt as a twitch in the muscle. Once the twitching ceases, the needle is removed from the muscle.

What is the Purpose of Dry Needling?

Dry needling helps to relieve pain, help muscles relax, and improve function. Usually dry needling is used on tense muscles that are causing pain and affecting a person’s function. It is a very effective method and the results can be seen quicker than other treatments such as massage. The effects of dry needling can be felt after just one session but may take more than one to fully resolve the issue. It is used in conjunction with other treatments such as manual therapy and exercise.

Is Dry Needling Safe?

The risks associated with dry needling are minimal which makes it a safe procedure when performed by a trained practitioner. Physical therapists are regulated by each state in the training they must receive for dry needling before they can use the treatment on patients. Physical therapists also use clean technique, meaning they wear gloves and make sure that they use hand sanitizer and alcohol to sanitize the area being needled. Also, needles are kept in sealed packaging until use so that they are sanitary and safe for use. After a single use they are disposed of in a sharps container and are never reused.

Does Dry Needling Hurt?

Every person is different, and each muscle responds differently to dry needling. The process can be uncomfortable, but is usually not painful. The needle used for dry needling is a very thin needle similar to those used for acupuncture, so there is usually no pain associated with the needle being inserted into the skin. The muscle twitches associated with dry needling can be uncomfortable but typically are not painful. There may be some lingering soreness afterwards but this usually lasts less than 24 hours. Drinking plenty of water after having dry needling done can help to lessen this soreness.

Is Everyone Appropriate for Dry Needling?

While dry needling is a very effective and safe procedure for most people, not everyone is a candidate for it. There are certain precautions that can affect someone’s ability to have dry needling done (for example, over the area of a pacemaker). There is also a timeline of when dry needling is appropriate after surgery so that there is no increased risk for infection. Talk to your physical therapist to see if you’re appropriate for dry needling.

This blog was specially written by our friend and guest writer Rachel Zimmerman, DPT.

Rachel is clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy right here in Green Bay, WI. You can find out more about her clinic or find a location near you at ATIpt.com!