anti-inflammatory food

Inflammation has a bad rap, but it’s not inherently evil.

It is a natural response to illness, a critical defense mechanism that helps to heal damaged cells and fight viruses and bacteria. But there are two types of inflammation.

Acute Inflammation might be a cut that turns red and becomes inflamed. This is your body’s natural response to help heal the cut. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a continuous inflammation with a slow onset, typically resulting from poor diet, physical inactivity, overactive immune responses, or invaders the body cannot get rid of. This is where someone may look to get treatment as we as start a better lifestyle. They may look into using products like hemp to help them. Click this link if you’re questioning “what is hemp?”

Whether you are already living with chronic inflammation or doing everything in your power to reduce your risk of disease, you can include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet to help ease inflammation!

1. Dark-Green, Leafy Vegetables

According to many experts, dark-green, leafy vegetables are considered the healthiest foods on the planet, as they offer the most nutrients per calorie. Greens are associated with the strongest protection against chronic diseases, including 20% reduction in risk for heart attacks and strokes for every daily serving. Plus, they are rich in antioxidants that restore cellular health, as well as anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

2. Turmeric

There has been a lot of information about turmeric and its health benefits. In recent years, more than 5,000 studies have been published on turmeric. Turmeric’s primary compound, curcumin, is its active anti-inflammatory component and is considered one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory components in the world. There is so much research regarding turmeric and its benefits, it can’t fully be explained here! To give you a little taste of how amazing turmeric is, research shows turmeric can beneficial in preventing or treating:

  • Lung Disease
  • Brain Disease

  • Variety of Cancers, including: multiple myeloma, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Lupus

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • …and more!

3. Flaxseed

The word “superfood” comes to mind every time we consume flaxseeds. Why? Because they are an excellent source of omega-3s (anti-inflammatory!) and phytonutrients (cancer fighters!). Specifically, flax contains the phytonutrient lignan, which is a chemical compound protecting blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Another thing we love about flaxseeds is they have been found to lower LDL (“bad) cholesterol and therefore reduce your risk of heart disease.

4. Oats

Oats contain a unique class of antioxidants called avenanthramides which is found to lower blood pressure and have anti-inflammatory properties. Avenanthramides have also been shown to relieve skin itching and irritation effects.

5. Berries

Dark-green, leafy vegetables may be the healthiest vegetable on the planet, but berries are are most certainly the healthiest fruits. This is because berries rank as some of the highest foods in terms of their antioxidant power, which is measured in units. For reference, apples contain about 60 units, whereas bananas contain 40 units of antioxidants. But the Aronia Berry contains much more! Also, per cup, strawberries contain 310 units, cranberries 330 units, raspberries 350 units, blueberries 380 units, and blackberries 650 units! The tremendous amount of antioxidants and phytochemicals in berries is what makes these fruits powerful against inflammation.

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]

4th of July

Please note our holiday schedule for the 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 4th:

  • University Park – CLOSED

  • Central Square – OPEN 8AM-8PM

Wishing all members and staff a happy and safe holiday!

july 4th bbq

It’s finally summer! So kick it off well with an Independence Day BBQ.

With all these recipes, you can easily host one in your backyard, patio or even tiny apartment kitchen.

Or if you’re a guest, bring one of these along! If you’re going to eat all the food, you might as well contribute a liiiiitle bit. So get in the kitchen, then get outside! And remember your sunscreen. Happy 4th!

[col size=’1/3′ pos=’first’]

Grapefruit Avocado Salsa

A healthy appetizer or burger topping! Besides, why go a day without avocado?

[col size=’1/3′ pos=’second’]

Vegan Veggie Burgers

For friends and family with special diets.

[col size=’1/3′ pos=’last’]

Pizza Pasta Salad

No more fights over choosing between pizza and pasta!

[col size=’1/3′ pos=’first’]

Healthier Strawberry Ice Cream

Greek yogurt makes this frozen yogurt a healthy and easy alternative to make at home!

[col size=’1/3′ pos=’second’]

Easy Flag Fruit Dessert

For friends with kids… or kids at heart!

[col size=’1/3′ pos=’last’]

Cucumber Basil Kombucha Mule

Because why not be tipsy and trendy

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]


cooking herbs

Whether you plant them or pick them up at the grocery store or farmers’ market, adding fresh herbs is a quick way to transform ordinary meals into extraordinary meals.

Besides helping flavor foods when cutting back on salt, fat and sugar, herbs may offer additional benefits of their own.

Researchers are finding many culinary herbs (both fresh and dried) have antioxidants that may help protect against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Take some thyme to cook with fresh herbs. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the flavor and health benefits of fresh herbs in your cooking!
  1. cooking herbsPurchase herbs close to the time you plan to use them. When growing herbs in your own garden the ideal time for picking is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun gets hot. This helps ensure the best flavor and storage quality.
  2. A general guideline when using fresh herbs in a recipe is to use 3 times as much as you would use of a dried herb. When substituting, you’ll often be more successful substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs, rather than the other way around. For example, think potato salad with fresh vs. dried parsley!
  3. Fresh herbs can be stored in an open or a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper drawer for a few days. If you don’t have access to commercial perforated bags, use a sharp object to make several small holes in a regular plastic bag.
  4. Unlike dried herbs, fresh herbs are usually added toward the end in cooked dishes to preserve their flavor. Add the more delicate herbs — basil, chives, cilantro, dill leaves, parsley, marjoram and mint — a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle them on the food before it’s served. The less delicate herbs, such as dill seeds, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme, can be added about the last 20 minutes of cooking. Obviously, for some foods, such as breads, batters, etc., you’ll need to add herbs at the beginning of the cooking process. Fresh herbs can be added to refrigerated cold foods several hours before serving. Allow time (at least a couple of hours, if possible) for cold foods with herbs to chill helps the flavors to blend.
  5. For most recipes, unless otherwise directed, mince herbs into tiny pieces. Chop with a chef’s knife on a cutting board or snip with a kitchen scissors. To speed cutting with a scissors, cut herbs coarsely into a small bowl or cup and snip back and forth with your scissors. Some recipes may direct you to cut large leaves, such as basil, “chiffonnade-style” or into thin strips. An easy way to do this is to stack several leaves (about 3 to 5), roll into a tight roll, then cut into thin (1/16 to 1/8 inch) strips with a sharp knife.
  6. Here are some ideas to help you start combining fresh herbs with your foods.
    1. BASIL — a natural snipped in with tomatoes; terrific in fresh pesto; other possibilities include pasta sauce, peas, zucchini
    2. CHIVES — dips, potatoes, tomatoes
    3. CILANTRO — Mexican, Asian and Caribbean cooking; salsas, tomatoes
    4. DILL — carrots, cottage cheese, fish, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes
    5. MINT — carrots, fruit salads, parsley, peas, tabouli, tea
    6. OREGANO — peppers, tomatoes
    7. PARSLEY — The curly leaf is the most common, but the at-leaf or Italian parsley is more strongly flavored and often preferred for cooking. Naturals for parsley include potato salad and tabouli
    8. ROSEMARY — chicken, fish, lamb, pork, roasted potatoes, soups, stews, tomatoes
    9. SAGE — poultry seasoning, stuffings
    10. TARRAGON — chicken, eggs, fish
    11. THYME — eggs, lima beans, potatoes, poultry, summer squash, tomatoes
    12. WINTER SAVORY — dried bean dishes, stews

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]


vegetarian pantry

Alongside the usual savory and sweet items that every pantry needs, there are a few ingredients that are particularly useful for vegetarians and vegans, as well as those wanting to eat more meatless meals.

All of these items are ideal for adding protein, texture, and flavor to what you’re cooking.

Each household’s pantry will vary according to personal taste, ethnic background, and food allergies, but these 15 items are a great way to get started.

vegetarian pantry1. Beans

I like to keep a variety of dried or canned beans, but I always make sure my pantry has at least two: lentils and chickpeas. Lentils cook quickly and are great additions to soups, pilafs, and salads. I like to throw chickpeas into pasta dishes and vegetable braises and stews. Pinto, black, kidney, and cannellini beans are also good to have on hand.

2. Grains

Using a variety of grains lends nutrition, texture, flavor, and makes vegetarian and vegan meals more interesting. I like to keep my pantry stocked with brown rice, white rice, quinoa, spelt, farro, millet, and bulgur.

3. Tempeh

Once you know how to prepare it, tempeh can be one of the best staple sources of protein. It can be refrigerated for a week or two (check the date on the package) and will keep up to several months in the freezer.

4. Tofu

Like tempeh, tofu is not strictly a pantry item, but it’s an essential for vegetarian kitchens. I like to keep blocks of refrigerated extra firm tofu for baking and frying, vacuum-packed silken tofu to blend into dressings and puddings, and dried tofu for soups and stir-fries.

5. Nuts

I always have almonds and cashews and try to keep pistachios and pine nuts around, too. Whole or chopped nuts can be used in salads and grain dishes. Ground nuts can add body to lasagna. And there’s always pesto. Extend the life and freshness of nuts by keeping them in the freezer.

6. Dried fruits

Raisins, dried apricots, and dates are not only great for snacking, but they can add unexpected and delicious flavor to grain dishes, vegetable braises, and sautéed greens.

7. Vegetable stock

I prefer to make stock from scratch and keep it in the freezer. But if you don’t have the time or inclination, there are plenty of good store-bought options.

8. Nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is somewhat of a new pantry item for me, though I’m very quickly coming to love it. It can be used in sauces or as a coating for tofu, and sprinkled on potatoes and popcorn.

9. Miso

I like to keep both light and dark miso paste in the refrigerator for different degrees of savoriness, but if I had to choose just one, it would be the mellow white variety. Miso makes excellent soup as well as dressings for salad, vegetables, and tofu.

10. Tahini

Tahini, or sesame paste, often works in conjunction with miso in my kitchen. A quick tahini-miso sauce (try adding lemon juice and garlic, too) can be poured over steamed vegetables, tofu, or tempeh for simple weeknight dinners.

11. Dried sea vegetables

I like to keep several kinds of seaweed, from sheets of nori that can be wrapped around rice and vegetables, to kelp and kombu that add flavor to broth, to hijiki that can be reconstituted and used in salads and vegetable dishes.

12. Coconut oil

From making rich curries and roasting vegetables, to searing tofu and even baking, coconut oil is super versatile.

13. Maple syrup

Maple syrup is my favorite natural sweetener. It’s perfect for baking, making dressing and glazes, and of course, you can never use too much of it on pancakes.

14. Ground flax seeds

Flax seeds are super nutritious and loaded with fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids. I love them stirred in my oats, mixed into smoothies, and baked into breads and muffins. And, combined with a little bit of water, ground flax also works as an egg substitute.

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]


DNA sweet tooth

If since your early days, you’ve found yourself drawn to sweets, your DNA may be behind it.

(I personally, didn’t need a DNA test for this one, everyone in my family knows I’m a chocoholic!)

Ignoring these cravings and blaming your lack of self-control is likely not the answer.

So what is?

It could be that you have a FGF21 gene variant. A study published in Cell Metabolism shows that if you have a variant of this gene, you are 20% more likely to enjoy and seek out sugary substances.

You may not be a “super-taster.” Other research has shown that some people (25% of the population) are what are called “super-tasters,” and these people are extremely sensitive to bitter foods. Super-tasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes simply because they have more taste papillae and taste receptors on their tongues that make them more sensitive to bitter tastes. They’re also more sensitive to sweet, salty and umami tastes, but to a lesser extent. They tend to have a reduced preference for sweet and high fat foods. (Super-tasters also tend to consume more salt then non-tasters because salt masks bitter flavors.)

But don’t get down! Remember, it’s always possible to learn to like healthier, less sugary sweets, even if you have a deep-rooted sweet tooth – no matter what kind of taster you are! Super-tasters, non-tasters and everyone in between have one thing in common; their taste buds regenerate in about 10 days. So if you notice sugar cravings start to subside after a few weeks on a whole-foods diet, this could be why!

The great news is that none of us are doomed by our sweet- tooth genetics. By eating a diet rich in plant-based foods and opt for naturally sweet foods instead of those with added sugars, you’ll soon find your sweet cravings subside!

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]


may promo

Warm up your Spring with a



ONLY $250!

Offer expires May 31, 2018!

Interested? Get in touch:

[contactform email=””]

mindful eating

The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are seemingly endless.

The mental and physical benefits of slowing down, breathing and quieting the mind are advertised across every form of social media, news feed and literature. But how, exactly, does mindfulness apply to food? How can we practice mindful eating?

First of all, your stomach and your mind are connected by what’s called the enteric nervous system. You know that feeling when you look up #foodporn and then your belly starts to grumble? Yup, that’s it. It also works the other way around: when you’re eating nutrient-dense food, you’re happier. When you gorge on some greasy fried food, you get an endorphin high for a bit, and then your mood plummets.

Often times people underestimate the power the mind can have over choices, emotions and physical feelings. But if these examples are not enough, try it yourself. If you pause, close your eyes, and just focus on your breath for a few minutes, you may notice your responses to hunger cues have changed. Because when you start to tune in to your mind and body, the distracting stimuli of the world fade away. Now you recognize whether you’re actually hungry, or if that was just a tasty-looking photo.

mindful eating

Mindfulness and meditation take practice, just like lifting weights.

Your brain is like a muscle that needs to be flexed and challenged often if it is to get stronger or develop a new habit. A short, simple, daily meditation practice can help change your attitude towards food and actually aid in weight loss.

If weight loss is not your goal, meditation can help you better enjoy your food, and become more aware of how your body feels in response to food.

After a few weeks of daily meditation, usually it starts to become easier to quiet your mind. Don’t get frustrated if it seems like a daunting task that never improves – this is natural and will ease with practice. You just have to let go of your goals, return to your breath, and let yourself make mistakes. It’s ok! Let the thoughts come and go.

In our always-working society, people are multitasking while eating. If you can, try to put away distractions for just 20 minutes and really think about your food. Chew it fully, place your fork down in between every bite. Focus on the flavor, the texture, and how it feels to eat each bite of food. When you’re finished, notice how you feel. Do you still feel hungry? Are you full or satisfied? By practicing mindfulness when eating, you can become more in-tune with your hunger cues. You may find you’re not as hungry as you initially thought, or that a certain food is more flavorful than you realised. Mindful eating makes you not only feel more satisfied, but also more grateful for the nourishment you’re getting and more positive after your meal has ended.

I could attempt to list all the holistic health benefits of meditation, but I will leave that for your googling pleasures. But today, challenge yourself to one meal or snack where you remove all distractions, slow down and truly taste your food.

By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your life, you’ll find you have no need for crash diets or binges; your body knows exactly how to eat.

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]


marathon fuel

It’s finally April in Boston, which means the Boston Marathon is right around the corner!

If you’re one of the brave souls toeing the line on Monday, you don’t want nutrition to undo your hard months of training! Be smart in the days leading up to the race, and make sure you follow these simple ‘Marathon Fuel’ tips the day-of to ensure smooth running!

  1. Top Off the Tank.
    Midrun fueling will help maintain your energy levels over the course of 26.2 miles, but your pre-run meals are crucial. For the two to three meals before your race, choose high-carb, moderate-protein, and low-fat and fiber options.
  2. Don’t eat anything new.
    You know your body best, so in the days leading up to the marathon stick to foods you’ve eaten before and that you know your stomach can easily digest. For some runners that could mean avoiding high-fiber foods, high-fat foods, or dairy. Eating high-carb foods, such as pasta, rice, and potatoes, will ensure your glycogen stores are stocked for race day, but don’t consume a new food just because it’s high in carbohydrates.
  3. Stay hydrated during the race.
    A good general guideline is to drink 3 to 6 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. This averages out to grabbing a cup every other mile. Since the first water stop in a race is often very crowded, skip it and get a drink at the second stop.
  4. Take heat into consideration.
    The ideal marathon racing temperature is in the mid-50s, but if the temperature soars into the 70s or 80s on race day as it has in the past, you must drink more. Increase your fluid intake by sipping sports drinks, not just water. The carbs in sports drinks help restock spent energy stores. Most sports drinks will also replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat, helping you avoid hyponatremia (low blood-sodium level caused by excessive water intake).
  5. Develop a race-day nutrition and hydration plan.
    When you’re tired and miles from the finish, you can’t always make the best decisions about refueling. Develop a plan ahead of time so you know what and when you’ll eat and drink. Be sure that plan includes drinking and consuming calories within 45 minutes to an hour after the start. If you wait too long, you might become dehydrated or run out of steam early in the race.
  6. Know Your Mid-Race Fuel
    Trust me, you will need fuel. But make sure you stick with whatever gel, chew, or energy food you have been using in training runs. Whether you use gels or chews, make sure you chase them with a few sips of water. Try taking gels when you’re approaching a water stop. It may also be helpful to consume a gel slowly, over the course of a few minutes. Another way to fuel-up without GI distress, try splitting packs of six chews into two fueling stops. If you decide to have a sports drink at the water stop, try alternating water and sports drink at each fluid stop to avoid consuming too much sugar.
  7. Start your recovery early.
    Refueling after the marathon is essential to help your body recover quickly. Eat or drink about 200 or 300 calories of carbohydrates and some protein within an hour of finishing the marathon. The carbs refuel your muscles with glycogen, and the protein will help repair your muscles. Eat a full meal as soon as you are able to continue the recovery process. And remember to slowly drink fluids to rehydrate after you cross the finish line.

marathon fuel

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]



Need some assistance with FREE WEIGHTS and FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT?

Watch these how-to videos if you are just starting out, OR if you are an experienced weightlifter hoping to correct or check your form!

Check out VIM’s Free Weights & Functional Movement Series – Each week we’ll post a video demonstrating a new move. Next up, BARBELL DEADLIFTS!

Read more