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Ingredient Focus: Pomegranate Seeds

WHAT ARE THEY?

Originating from Iran, pomegranates are now cultivated globally. It has become more common in North American markets in the last decade due to its delicious, crispy seeds. They are in-season September to January, and can be sold whole or with seeds scooped out separately.

WHAT DO THEY DO?

These little seeds are great for your heart. They aid in lowering cholesterol and can help melt away heart blockage. Additionally, they are chock-full of Vitamin C and fiber, keeping you healthy and sustaining fullness for longer, which can prevent overeating.

HOW DO I USE THEM?

Pomegranate seeds are generally consumed raw. Sprinkle them atop a salad or bowl of yogurt, or toss them in a smoothie. They’ll add a pop of sweet, citrus-y flavor with a satisfying crunch!

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Ingredient Focus: Cauliflower

WHAT IS IT?

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that stems from the same family as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and collard greens. It was first introduced to France in the early 16th century, but is now a common household food. It comes in a variety of colors including white, green, and purple.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

Cauliflower packs a serious nutritional punch. It is low-calorie (but nutrient-dense) at just 30 calories per cup. It is rich in Vitamin C, which boosts your immune system, as well as folate,  which is particularly vital to pregnant women. It’s good for your brain too - cauliflower contains lots of choline, which boosts brain activity and memory. Because of its high fiber content, it also helps maintain healthy digestion.

HOW DO I USE IT?

Cauliflower is a great carb substitute in a multitude of ways. You can use it as a rice substitute by throwing chopped cauliflower in a food processor and sautéing or baking it. Many people use it as a healthier pizza crust. Or, you can simply chop it up, toss it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast it for 20 minutes. Healthy and delicious!

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Guest Post: Watermelon Mint Smoothie (Urban Fitopia)

Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. It takes quite a bit of H2O to stay hydrated throughout the year, but it becomes even more important during the summer months. Here are 3 of my favorite hydrating smoothies. Sip on one of these each day for a fun, tasty way to rehydrate!

Watermelon Mint Smoothie Ingredients

  • 2 persian cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 cups watermelon
  • 6 sprigs mint - destemmed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
Watermelon is a whopping 91% water by weight. Paired with the refreshing mint and the cooling cucumber, this smoothie will leave you feeling rejuvenated even during the hottest heat wave. 
Check out more from Jenna on her blog, Urban Fitopia!
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Guest Post: Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal Bites (Kath Eats)

Ingredients (makes 12 bites)

  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375*
  2. Beat eggs and add all other ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together.
  3. Grease a mini muffin tin well and pour batter in to the brim.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. Allow to cool COMPLETELY before removing or your oatmeal might stick. Use a knife to cut along the edges and twist to remove.

Easy, healthy, delicious - what more could you want from a dessert? Check out more of Kath’s healthy recipes on her blog, katheats.com.

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What if Noom knew what you were going to log before you logged it? Well now it does.

With the release of our latest version, we’re rolling out a new technology called Food Oracle. In a nutshell, Food Oracle (patent-pending) understands what items are typically logged together and suggests the most relevant items for you, so you don’t have to bother searching for the right foods.

For example, after logging the first item in your meal — say, cereal — Noom will list items you’re likely to log next — like milk, coffee, or fruit. The best thing about Food Oracle is that it combines knowledge about the entire community with knowledge specific to you.

So the first time you log an item, you’ll see suggestions based on what most other people eat with that food. But the second time you eat it, Noom will suggest foods that you’ve personally eaten with it before. The more you Noom, the smarter Food Oracle becomes.

Here’s that technology in action:

Food Oracle also factors in the time of day, suggesting items that are often logged together during that meal, as well as the country you live in.

But does this cool technology really improve the Noom experience?

YES! According to our data, using Food Oracle cuts meal logging time in half. Plus, after a month of use, Food Oracle’s ability to accurately predict your food choices increases by 88 percent.

Also in this launch:

Speaking of logging speed — Food Oracle isn’t all we’re rolling out this week. We’re also delighted to announce another new feature: Custom Dishes.

When you’re losing weight, it’s important to eat as much healthy, home-cooked food as possible. But we know that not every recipe is going to be available in our food database. That’s why we’ve implemented Custom Dishes. Custom Dishes allow you to log all the ingredients in your recipe once, and save it for future use.

Best of all, you don’t have to do any math! When you log your custom dish, you can log as many servings as you want. So if you’re recipe makes 12 portions, simply log all the ingredients and tell Noom. We’ll handle the long-division.

Not a chef? No worries! If you’ve got iOS 7, you’ll now be able to search Noom’s packaged food database by barcode. Scan your yogurt using the built in scanner, select the portion, and finish your logging in a flash. For now, this feature only works with our English food database, but we’re working to roll it out to other languages in the near future.

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Ingredient Focus: Bell Peppers

WHAT ARE THEY?

Bell pepper is a milder member of the chili pepper family. The peppers come in a wide variety of bright colors that also vary in sweetness. They are available year-round, but are most bountiful during the summer and fall.

WHAT DO THEY DO?

When a fruit is as colorful as these peppers, it’s a good guess that they’re full of Vitamin C. Red bell peppers have the highest concentration of Vitamin C, which fortifies the immune system. They are also rich in carotenoids like beta-carotene, which is full of antioxidants.

HOW DO I USE THEM?

Bell peppers retain most of their flavor and nutrients after light cooking; served them roasted, grilled, or even raw for a sweet, tangy flavor. They are also very low in calorie density, at only 24 calories per medium-sized pepper, so don’t be afraid to serve ‘em up alongside some protein and other veggies!

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Guest Post: Polenta with Garlicky Summer Squash

Corn and Goat Cheese Polenta with Garlicky Summer Squash

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 273.4 Calories, 8g Fat, 113.2mg Sodium, 28g Carbs, 3.8g Fiber, 5.7g Sugar, 10.9g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1 cup instant polenta (make sure it has one ingredient: 100% cornmeal – you can get it at your local grocery store)

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup 1% organic milk

  • 4 ounces herbed goat cheese (you can buy herbed goat cheese at the grocery store, or make your own by mixing plain goat cheese with a mixture of your favorite fresh herbs!)

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • 2 medium-large yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds

  • 2 medium-large zucchini, sliced into thin rounds

  • 2 ears corn, kernels cut from the cob

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

  • 1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring 1 quart of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to boil in a large saucepan or small Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in polenta; continue to cook, whisking frequently until polenta thickens to a soft, but not soupy consistency. Keep warm, adding water and stirring frequently to keep polenta soft. When the polenta is almost ready, stir in the milk. This will literally take you 3 minutes (and then the polenta is ready!).

  2. Cut all your veggies, and cut the corn kernels off the cob. I like to hold the ear of corn vertically in a large bowl and then run my knife down the sides. That way the little kernels don’t go sprinkling all over my kitchen floor as I cut the corn off the cob.

  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and yellow squash; sauté until squash is soft but still holds its shape, about 5 minutes. Add corn, crushed red pepper, and garlic; sauté to lightly cook. Stir in basil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Stir in about 1 oz goat cheese into the polenta right before you serve it. To serve: Pour 1 ladle-full of polenta into a plate, top with a portion of the squash mixture. Top with about 1/2-1 oz crumbled goat cheese per serving.

-Anjali Shah, The Picky Eater

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Ingredient Focus: Chia Seeds

WHAT IS IT?

Chia seeds have been all over the news lately, but what’s all the hype about? These spunky little seeds come from the chia plant, which is in the mint family. This desert plant originates from Central America, where the seeds were a staple in the Aztec diet.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

Chia seeds are calorically light, packing only 138 calories per 1 ounce serving. They are are best known for their fiber, protein, and Omega-3 contents. Their fiber content can help slow digestion and sustain the feeling of fullness longer. The seeds are great for bones, too: they have high amounts of calcium and manganese, both of which fortify bones and teeth.

HOW DO I USE IT?

Chia seeds have a vast range of uses, particularly due to their absorption abilities and lack of taste. When soaked in liquid, the seeds form a gelatinous coat, allowing them to thicken any sauce, smoothie, or porridge. They can also be sprinkled atop salads, oatmeal, yogurt, and more to add protein and fiber without too many extra calories or strange flavor. They are undoubtedly a fortifying addition to any meal!

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Guest Post: Overnight Oats from Kath Eats

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Overnight oats are just oats soaked overnight that absorb the liquid you put them in – any kind of liquid you like! The most common mixture is equal parts raw rolled oats, milk and yogurt (I like 1/3 or 1/2 cup of each). You can use any kind of yogurt or milk. Put in the fridge overnight (uncoverd or covered, your choice) and let ‘em soak up the liquids.

That’s the base, and toppings are endless. Add the toppings the night before or the next morning – either way works. Just don’t put anything in you don’t mind getting soggy (i.e. crunchy cereals)

There is NO COOKING involved at all!

(Although you could heat them just a tiny bit in the microwave to take the chill out)

Basic KERF Recipe

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 – 1/2 cup milk [depending on how thick you like it]

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/2 banana

1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Pinch salt

Pinch cinnamon

Directions

Stir everything together in a bowl. Place in fridge overnight. In the morning top with something crunchy and something with healthy fats – like nut butter or nuts. Check out Kath’s blog for more variations on these yummy oats!

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Success Story: Ashlea Breann Reed

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Ashlea came to Noom feeling dissatisfied with her figure. Now, she’s finally ready to rock a bikini and keep building muscle mass. Read on for her awesome story!

Hey there!

I’m Ashlea, a Noom pro member for life  and a group facilitator. My heaviest recorded weight was 206 lbs in February. Being 5”9’ I was in denial that it was all just height weight until I tried to slide on my favorite dress for my boyfriend of three year’s birthday and I couldn’t zip! At that time I was just a group member, and deciding to become a facilitator gave me that accountability push I needed.

I love posting progress pictures and creating mini challenges with my group, but even more I love seeing their progress and excitement for their healthy lifestyle changes! I was always really big into sports but Noom helped me understand that the types of foods and portions were key to a healthy lifestyle. Now I’m losing fat and gaining muscle weighing in today at 193lbs!

I still have a ways to go but my motto is: one bad meal and exercise doesn’t make you unhealthy; just as one good meal and exercise doesn’t make you healthy!