By: Stefanie Heath
June is Men’s Health Month and whether you’re a guy looking to get fit, or you’re celebrating your father or brother, one thing is for sure – you want to be around as long as possible. Why not take this opportunity to give yourself the gift of health and longevity? Staying active and eating well are two surefire ways to stay spry and energetic.
Enjoying more foods like whole grains, vegetables and legumes is one delicious way to fight against chronic illness. Studies show men die of heart disease more often and at a younger age than their female counterparts. In fact, men are about 40 percent more likely than women to die of heart disease. World-renowned cardiologist and former president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kim Williams, touts a plant-rich diet for heart health. After becoming a high-risk patient himself, Dr. Williams adopted this lifestyle and within six weeks saw his cholesterol score dramatically improved.
In addition to their heart-healthy properties, research has shown that some whole foods may have cancer-fighting properties. Eating more foods that are rich in anti-oxidant compounds may help prevent the development of cancer cells.
The American Institute for Cancer Research recognizes the importance in eating more nutrient-rich foods like walnuts, beans and broccoli as a means to not only help prevent cancer, but aid in cancer survival, too.
The power of whole foods isn’t limited to disease prevention. Former NFL linebacker David Carter found that it improved his athletic performance. More recently, eleven Tennessee Titans defense players switched to eating a veg-centric diet. A few of the players claimed a boost in energy and overall feeling of wellness while eating this clean diet.
Physical activity and healthy eating goes hand in hand. Fortunately, Upstate NY is full of outdoor opportunities that will get you moving all while checking out some breathtaking NY landscapes. With summer months upon us, I encourage you to try some of my favorite outdoor activities:
Central NY has no shortage of hiking opportunities. There are trails for everyone depending on your skill level. One of my favorite hikes is Carpenter Falls. These gorgeous falls are located on the west side of Skaneateles Lake. You can scope out the falls, take a hike in the creek with wet shoes, or stay on land for a mid-level hike. The trail is dog friendly too! If you’re into hiking with your dog, then check out the meet up group “Tails & Trails” on Facebook. This group meets a few times a month at different hiking spots in the area for a group hike with or without your pup and is also a great way to meet some new folks in the area too!
For a relaxing walk, I recommend either Onondaga Lake Park or the Erie Canal trail.
Physical activity on the water is fun and refreshing on a hot summer day! Oneida Lake, Cazenovia Lake or Skaneateles Lake are all ripe for water activities and just a short drive (or bike ride) away. Personally, kayaking strikes the right balance of relaxation and exercise. I can take in the views while experiencing a mild heart rate increase so I know I’m giving my body a workout. Check out onondagacountyparks.com to find lakes and rentals in the area or even consider investing in your own kayak or paddleboard!
Play like a kid again:
If you regularly spend time with your own children, nieces and nephews, or your friend’s kids, chances are you feel exhausted by the end of the day. Children keep us busy, but one of my favorite parts about spending time with my nieces and nephew is that it brings out the kid in me. Whether we’re on the playground, playing basketball, or engaged in a serious game of hide and seek, I’m having fun AND exercising. It’s a total win-win! So, let your inner child come out and reap the benefits of quality time with your loved ones while moving your body.
With any physical activity, be sure to drink plenty of water and consider doing more strenuous activity in the morning or evening when the temperature is usually more tolerable.
Protein-Packed Breakfast Burritos
• 1 cup white potatoes thinly sliced
• 1 cup black beans rinsed and drained
• 1/2 cup fresh spinach roughly chopped
• 12 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry (soak as much moisture out as possible with a clean kitchen towel)
• 1 tablespoon turmeric
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• pinch sea salt and fresh ground pepper
• 1 avocado cubed
• fresh cilantro leaves coarsely chopped
• 1/2 cup chunky salsa or pico de gallo
• 4 burrito sized tortillas
1. Get everything prepped before you begin cooking.
2. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the thin-sliced potatoes and sauté the
potatoes until golden brown on the edges and tender.
3. In a separate small sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Gently crumble the tofu in the pan and sprinkle the turmeric over the tofu. Cook for about five minutes in pan and occasionally stir using a wooden spoon. Make sure the turmeric is incorporated well.
4. Turn down to medium-low heat and add chopped spinach into pan with tofu. Incorporate spinach
and sauté for two minutes.
5. Add the potatoes and the black beans to the tofu. Season with garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
Cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes to let the flavors combine.
6. Warm the salsa and tortillas. Wrap the sautéed mixture along with the avocado, salsa, and cilantro in a warm tortilla. Enjoy!
Tip: Instead of wrapping in a tortilla, try putting seasoned mixture over avocado toast. For lunch or
dinner, place the mixture over a bed of brown rice for a delicious bowl option!