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How to Fuel Your Body Before and After Gardening

05/19/2015 05:33 EDT | Updated 05/19/2016 05:59 EDT
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Did you know that gardening is not only good for the environment, but it also promotes both mind and body health? I love digging in the dirt after a stressful week sitting in front of my computer. It gets me in touch with nature and out in the fresh air and sunshine. It clears my mind and improves my mood. Don't get me wrong, gardening is not the intense workout I get when I put in an hour of boxing, but it offers low-impact stretching, bending and lifting. With the outcome is a beautiful flower garden and very useful herb pots. Just like the soil and plants in the garden, we need to make sure we are adequately fueled and hydrated. Before or after a few hours of planting flowers and pulling weeds, I recommend these two simple, delicious go-to recipes to help keep you energized all day long.

Berry Hemp Seed Smoothie

Recently, I read how trading your BlackBerry for a blackberry bush is the perfect way to unwind. The natural environment filled with birds chirping instead of your device chiming sounds like a serene activity to me! This delicious and nutritious smoothie is featured in the upcoming book, The Need for Seeds. I can whip it up in two minutes and it's packed full of antioxidants, muscle repairing plant protein and energizing carbohydrates. The fibre-rich blueberries and mango are my favourite, but you can experiment with other berries and fruit as well.

Makes 1 Serving

Ingredients

3 tablespoons (45 mL) hemp seeds

½ cup (125 mL) fresh or frozen blueberries

½ cup (125 mL) chopped fresh or frozen cubed mango

¼ cup (60 mL) plain 2% Greek yogurt

¼ cup (60 mL) cranberry juice

¼ cup (60 mL) almonds

A few ice cubes (if using fresh fruit)

Directions

In a blender combine blueberries, mango, yogurt, cranberry juice, and almonds. Blend on high until creamy and smooth. You can add more cranberry juice or water to achieve your desired consistency. Pour into a large glass or travel mug with ice cubes, if desired, and take it out into the garden.

Summer Salad with Salmon

During a busy weekend of gardening activities, I look to my pantry for cans of healthy ingredients to make a quick, tasty and nutritious meal. This is such a simple salad to make. It has four main ingredients, plus the homemade dressing, and is full of heart healthy fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, vegetables such as lettuce and spinach contain water which makes them an excellent choice for rehydration.

Makes 1 Serving

Ingredients

1½ cups (375 mL) of seasonal greens (washed)

½ cup (125 mL) fresh raspberries (washed)

1 can (150 gram) skinless, boneless salmon in water (drained)

¼ cup (60 mL) raw, shelled sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon (15 mL) balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil

Directions

In a colander or a salad spinner wash greens and raspberries. Drain salmon and chunk it into pieces. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil. In a serving bowl, place greens then add desired amount of vinegar and oil mixture and toss. Add salmon chunks and top with sunflower seeds. Serve immediately.

Planting Some Final Thoughts

Gardening can have a significant impact on both mind and body health for people of all ages. Studies have found this includes a general feeling of well-being, increased brain activity, and decreased negative physical symptoms such as joint pain. Simply looking at my flower and herb gardens gives me a positive boost.

If you haven't gardened in the past, I highly recommend this pleasurable and goal-oriented outdoor activity. Even if you live in an apartment building or condominium, you can become part of a community garden and engage in growing some of your own food. And choosing nutritious foods to fuel and hydrate your body has always been a piece of my mind-body healthy lifestyle equation: energy = food + fitness + sleep. Have fun digging in the dirt and enjoy a restful night's sleep after being outside in the garden!

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