fitness tips

Pizza! Numerous Healthy Twists

Pizza! Just the name may make your mouth water. Pizza, by definition, is a dish consisting of a flat, round base of dough baked and topped with tomato sauce and cheese, typically with added meat or vegetables. BUT…the idea of pizza has transformed a lot over the years and lucky for our waistlines has taken on some healthier forms. We’ll share some of those options this week!

Portabello Pizza

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place portabello mushroom caps, with gills and stems removed, upside down on a baking sheet. Top with salsa, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Bake for 10-12 minutes. That’s it!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Buy it or make it yourself! Cauliflower crusts can be relatively easy to find for purchase now. Make sure to check your labels though! In some cases, a cauliflower crust can have more carbs, fat, and calories than a regular crust…even if it’s gluten-free and low-carb!

However, if you’re ready to give it a shot, check out our blog for a link to the basics: “Rice” a head of cauliflower, squeeze out the water, mix with egg, herbs, and cheese (yes, cheese is needed to help stick the cauliflower together and this is sometimes where recipes can go crazy) and then bake. *If you go this route, you may want to consider going lighter on the cheese knowing it’s incorporated in the crust.

Check out this recipe from ifoodreal!

Tortilla Pizza

Pizza crusts can come in sooo many forms today! There are spaghetti squash crusts, sweet potato crusts, and even chickpea crusts that you can make! Even Oprah is making her own pizzas now!

Want your pizza but making your own crust is just too much? Try using a tortilla for a crust. Many of us have tortilla’s laying around the kitchen. The trick is to get it fairly crisp in the oven before applying your toppings. Our favorite “flaky” crust tortilla is Tortilla Fresca uncooked flour tortillas, found in the refrigerated section at Costco. Once crisp, get creative with your toppings…try pesto topped with spinach, artichokes and chicken and then bake until the toppings are cooked through!

Pizza in a Pan

Yes, you can even put pizza in a pan! We’re talking skillet dishes. Want to go out on a limb? Try a pizza stir-fry that has kale, cabbage, and peppers at the heart of the recipe and then all your pizza flavors, including pepperoni, added in to satisfy that pizza desire. Get the full recipe here!

Not quite ready for the jump? Try another pizza stir-fry option that still hangs onto your mozzarella, but throws in some spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, and even banana peppers! Recipe here!

If you love the flavors of pizza, run with it, as it can lead to some healthy recipes that you may have never considered.

Quinoa Pizza Bites

Love the flavor of pizza, but you know you can’t hold back to just a slice or so? Try some veggie loaded quinoa bites! These poppable bites contain quinoa, zuccchini, and summer squash to add in an additional splash of nutrients. Toss in some italian seasoning, basil, garlic, tomato sauce and a little parmesean cheese, you’ve got yourself some healthy pizza snacks!

Pizza in a Salad

Start with a bed of greens, top with bell peppers, halved grape tomatoes, artichokes, red onions, black olives, and all your favorite vegetable favorites! Toss on some cooked/warmed turkey pepperoni or italian ground turkey and toss with a pesto vinigarette like this one!

5-Minute Hacks that Can Change Your Life!

Let’s say you sleep 9 hours a night and work 8 hours a day – that doesn’t seem like you have much time left huh? Only 7 hours in fact, and for most of us we are taking kids to school or sports, cooking food, cleaning, etc to boot!

But let’s break this down into usable units…you have EIGHTY-FOUR 5-minute chunks left of your day. Right now we’re going to ask you to use only SIX of them to better your health and quality of life. Think you are up to the challenge?

1. Listen to Your Favorite Song

Music activates just about every area of that brain that has been mapped so far. If you are looking to calm down, a slow-tempo song that soothes you will help the most. Make sure it’s also in a calm environment where you can hear and focus on the music, maybe put some headphones on and dim the lights. Looking for a mid-day pick me up? Get in the car and crank up the volume on that up-tempo song that makes you want to sing your heart out!

2. Declutter One Small Area

Being organized helps save time in all areas of your life…not searching for those lost keys, documents…appointment reminders! Knowing things are organized also improves your mental focus and reduces stress.

Have 5 more minutes? Take a look at your calendar and organize a busy day. Planning ahead can make sure you don’t miss your child’s basketball game…or your favorite workout!

3. Call a Friend or Loved One

Social connection reduces the incidence of depression, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. The bad news? Social media and text messaging don’t count for as much.

Now we all have that person who we know will NEVER let us off the phone in 5 minutes, save that conversation until you are ready to settle in or maybe schedule a date to meet out for coffee. Call someone you know will understand that you have only 5 minutes and just want to connect for a moment. Watch your mood lift as you hang up the phone!

4. Go to Bed 5 Minutes Earlier

Not tired yet? Read, meditate, pray, or try some light yoga to bring your body into a peaceful state for sleep. Turn off the phone and TV! Getting 7-9 hours of sleep helps prevent heart disease, inflammation (i.e. during recovery from your workouts!), obesity, depression, and stress. Try setting your alarm to actually remind you that it’s time to go to bed!

5. FLOSS!

It is never too late! Your gums may bleed for a couple days but that will subside as your gums heal. Not flossing/cleaning the gunk out between your teeth will cause plaque build-up which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. If that isn’t enough, flossing can drastically reduce bad breath…a win-win for everyone!

6. 5-Minute Workout

For starters, just making the decision to work out even for only 5-minutes will ignite the motivation for more! Start with 5-minutes, whether it be stretching, a quick jog, or holding a few planks. When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing.

Here is a simple 5-minute workout: Choose a higher intensity move, like speed squats, and run through it in Tabata format. 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 8 rounds. 1-minute rest or cool down/stretch. BAM! 5-minute workout that will boost your energy, and make you feel accomplished.

Seriously everyone, I just read this entire article aloud. It took me THREE MINUTES!

So Here’s #7 – Read This Blog Post Every Day!

Until you know it by heart anyway, and you have fully integrated these 5-minute fixes into your life.

Feel Like a Spring Chicken With These Egg Recipes!

It’s the season of spring chickens and the celebration of Easter. Why eggs in spring? Because they symbolize new life! What better time than to talk eggs!

Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Eggs contain vitamins A, E, D, and B12 plus minerals like iron and folate. Egg yolks are one of the very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D!

Not All Eggs Are Created Equal!

The most commonly found eggs in the supermarket are grain-fed: a combination of corn and soybeans. Check your labels! “Free Range” would indicate a more natural diet of seeds, green plants, and insects, thus a lower omega-6 content (the fatty acid that most of us are already getting too much of).
Some eggs like Eggland’s Best feed chickens an omega-3 rich diets and thus transfer those healthy omega-3’s into their eggs and ultimately in our bellies. Omega-3 eggs have been seen to decrease blood glucose levels. If it’s in your budget, free-range and omega-3 diet fed chickens appear to be worth the investment!

What About The Yolks?

The yolks of eggs are often seen as “bad” because of cholesterol concerns. The yolk is actually where the good nutrients are stored, however! Eggs have not been found to be associated with any form of cardiovascular disease, despite their bad cholesterol rap. 75% of the cholesterol in our bodies is created by the liver. 25% comes from food. Studies have shown, even after eating 1 egg daily for a year, no adverse effects were found (except perhaps for people who are diabetic).

Does The Shell Color Matter?

So really, why are eggs different colors? To determine what color egg a chicken will lay, check out it’s earlobes! Seriously!

White feathered chickens with white earlobes will lay white eggs. Red or Brown chickens with red earlobes will lay brown eggs. Earlobes aside, the color of the egg really has no bearing on nutrition. Now, the YOLK color is dependent on the diet a hen was fed, a more pale yellow color indicating a weaker grain-fed diet versus a more golden yellow indicating a free range type diet.

Eat Eggs for Eye Health!

Treat your eyes with a healthy egg meal! Eggs contain lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Did you know that eggs age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator?

Consider adding more eggs into your meal routines. Afterall, they are the most commonly consumed animal product in the world!

Boost Your Protein!

Add some protein to your day with eggs! 2 egg whites contain 7g of protein. 1 full egg has 70 calories, 6g of protein (but also then contains the 1.5g saturated fat in the yolk).
DID YOU KNOW? Younger chickens lay eggs with harder shells. Now you know!

RECIPES

Check out these healthy, delicious egg recipes from our Ellipse Fitness Recipe Archives!

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.

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.

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…

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!