The Tire Life Cycle: Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse

The Tire Life Cycle: Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse

The day begins to wane as you watch the vibrant sunset from the comfort of your trusty canoe, allowing the sun’s fleeting rays to warm your soul. As you paddle along you take note of the tiny turtle family sunbathing amidst a floating log on the nearby bank, and the rhythmic lull of the flowing river as the bow of the canoe bisects the current.  You begin to comment on the perfection of the pristine panorama you are beholding, but what is that in the distance obstructing your view…a pile of tires?  Unfortunately this has happened to me and many others across the world as we face an epidemic of illegally dumped tires in our lovely waterways, parks, roadsides, and just about anywhere imaginable. As unanesthetically pleasing as this may be, abandoned tires cause far worse problems to our environment and health.  With a little education and effort we can eradicate-or take steps to prevent- the tire pile-up by recycling, repurposing, or reusing these tires in new and innovative ways.  

River Tire

Why are tires being abandoned in the first place?  We are experiencing a lack of enforcement in our anti-littering and anti-dumping laws, but moreover I believe it is due to a lack in knowledge of alternatives.  More often than not I see people following others’ leads; if there is already a pile of used tires in one location then more are bound to be added.  In more recent decades we have discovered many problems with dumping tires in landfills, and with 3 million tires being discarded yearly, where do they all need to go?  In Tennessee, for example, we have enacted a law called The Solid Waste Management Act of 1991, which prohibits the disposal of whole tires in landfills.  Whole tires placed in landfills create 75% of unused space. Realizing this fact, landfills see the cost ineffectiveness of tires and will often turn them away.  As mentioned previously, without knowledge of other alternatives we have noticed the buildup of improper dumping in places they clearly do not belong.   

So what’s the problem with a little tire pile up?  

On land, there are two main concerns with the pile up of tires, the first is pests.  Stationary tires will collect stagnant water which becomes the ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes; with the rise in disease carrying mosquitoes we want to try and reduce the growth of these harmful creatures as much as possible.  In addition to mosquitoes, rodents and other vermin find tire piles to be ideal homes for their families.

There is also a concern that tire piles are easy targets for arson.  Tire fires are extremely challenging to extinguish and can cause copious amounts of black smoke to permeate the air.  Since tires consist of many different materials, once burned, there tends to be oily remnants which penetrate into the earth’s surface soil, causing it to be unusable.  That’s why tire recycling is the best best option to catalyze a sustainable Earth.     

As our government and its citizens become more environmentally conscious we have seen a rise in the availability and options for proper tire recycling.  Bridgestone Americas is a proud sponsor of Lightning 100’s Team Green Adventures and we have spent years cleaning up tires along our waterways with the help of their Tires4ward Recycling Program. Any individual can organize a cleanup, then use their community cleanup Request Form to get assistance properly disposing of the tires. Sometimes this means delivering the tires to a local Bridgestone Firestone Complete Auto Care facility, and sometimes (with larger loads of tires) a recycling partner of Bridgestone Americas will pick up the tires at a designated location. Some tire dealerships will also collected used tires, but check for fees associated with recycling. There are also tire collection sites and recycling centers, which you can learn about through  

Piney Float 2015

Moving forward it is important to initiate a change among your community, friends, and family by encouraging and educating them on the different recycling options.  What can be done with all the abandoned tires currently?  Tire clean-ups are a great way to give back to your community and spread good vibes! In 2015 alone, we have removed 118 tires from three local waterways. In 2014 another 90+ tires were removed. Let’s consider repurposing these unwanted environmental hazards into something useful.  

Yoga mats, basketball courts, flip-flops, rubberized asphalt, and rubber mulch are just a few of the innovative repurposing uses of unwanted tires.  As you may have noticed, playgrounds are becoming a big proponents for this rubber mulch.  

Some benefits are:

  1. It is safer than regular mulch because the resiliency of rubber creates more of a cushion for children as they play.
  2. It lasts a lot longer than mulch.  Since it doesn’t biodegrade like mulch, the life expectancy is significantly longer (usually around 10 years).   
  3. With a higher upfront cost but a lower long term cost, it is also more cost effective.

The way tires are repurposed is a process called devulcanization, in which the ground up tire pieces are heated to create a pliable substance.  With a little creativity and innovation you could easily take your old tires and create something useful for yourself. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas on ways to repurpose old tires on your own.  You can find step-by-step instructables on various planters, outdoor decorations, or the obvious backyard tire swing.  Get creative and find your own way to repurpose these items that works for your lifestyle!

Are you looking for a way to get involved and make a noticeable difference in the Nashville community?  Join Team Green Adventures on Saturday, July 16th for our Percy Priest Island Float Cleanup and Saturday, August 20th for our Harpeth River Canoe Float & Cleanup. Any tires collected during these events will be repurposed through the Bridgestone Tires4ward Recycling Program.  

-Lee Fowler (Team Green Adventures Community Engagement Coordinator)

The Sun Salutation

The Sun Salutation

This week’s AdventureBlog post is guest written by Leah Lillios King, owner of Kali Yuga Yoga. Thanks to the ongoing partnership between Kali Yuga Yoga and Lightning 100’s Team Green Adventures, Nashvillians can once again enjoy a season of FREE outdoor yoga with our Yoga in the Park series between June 7th and August 30th.

Each Yoga in the Park session is beginner-friendly. Whether you’re a yogi-master or completely new to the activity, this week’s AdventureBlog explains how to properly do the Sun Salutation, so you can get the most out of your practice!


I get asked all the time by my students, “What is the one pose I should do everyday.” My answer is always the same, “The Sun Salutation.” Ok, so it’s not just one pose. It’s a sequence of six positions (give or take one or two depending on how you look at it), but hands down the sun salutation is the best thing to do for your body every day.

Let’s start with the first position Tadasana {1}. When done correctly Tadasana or “mountain pose” promotes proper anatomical alignment. The bones are stacked creating balance and stability to strengthen the postural muscles while reducing tension in the neck and shoulders. A key point is to line up your ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and ear.

Next you will move into a “forward fold” or what we call Uttanasana {2}. Very simply put you bend at the hips to stretch the legs and spine. Forward folding reducing tension in the lower back and helps promote blood flow to the brain. Many of us are not flexible enough to touch our toes, so bend the knees in order to reduce strain on the back.

From Uttanasana step one foot back into a “low lunge” or Kapyasana {3}. This lunge helps to open the hips while stretching the front and backs of your thighs. It also deepens spine flexibility. Watch that the front knee stays on top of the ankle and doesn’t bend too deeply, to avoid strain at the knee joint.

You’ll step the other foot back into the “poular plank” or Palakasana {4}. Many of us know from other forms of exercise how great plank pose is for building core and upper body strength. It can be combined with a yoga style push-up to further tone the arms and back as well.

After lowering to the ground you’ll move into “cobra” or Bhujangasana {5}. This is one of the best spine strengthening poses and chest openers out there. It’s simple–keep the thighs on the floor and raise your upper body. Relax your shoulders and pull your belly towards your back.

And now the pose you’ve been waiting for… “downward facing dog”!! We call it Adho Mukha Svanasana {6} but that’s a bit of a mouthful. Down dog is often mistakenly called a resting pose- its definitely not! You’re working your upper body, abs, back and legs all the while stretching the shoulders, upper back and hamstrings. Its a pretty technical pose, but if you’re trying it for the first time, aim to make the shape of an inverted “V.” If your back is rounding, bend your knees and stick your tailbone toward the ceiling to bring more weight into the legs. You want to feel the stretch in the hamstrings more than the back.

To complete the round, step your legs forward by either stepping one foot at at time or “hop” both feet between your hands. This will bring you back into the forward fold (Uttanasana {2}). Roll up, one vertebrae at at time, and conclude the set with mountain pose (Tadasana {1}).

There are countless ways to modify the sun salutation, but even in its most basic form you’ll get a total body workout. Practice the sun salutation fluidsly for about 3-6 rounds to experience the meditative aspect of yoga– a gentle awareness that helps to calm and quiet the mind. Don’t forget the best part of your yoga practice- Savasana (relaxation pose). Lie on the floor, on your back, for 3-7 minutes to allow the body time to rest and restore itself. Imagine the tension releasing from your toes, calves, knees, thighs, hips, lower back, abs, upper back, shoulders, arms, fingers, and forehead. Let your thoughts flicker away as quickly as they come to you. When your time is up, slowly bring awareness back to your fingers and toes, then take your time to get into a seated position. You’ll feel like a new you in no time!

Are you ready to try it out? Come over to Yoga in the Park with Team Green Adventures featuring teachers from Kali Yuga Yoga and do a sun salutation under the sun, and a tree pose among the trees!

-Leah Lillios King (Kali Yuga Yoga owner)

Get Schooled- on Your Bike

Get Schooled- on Your Bike

May is Bike Month so we’re kicking off the first AdventureBlog of the month featuring an interview with Nashville’s number one source for cycling education and advocacy: Walk Bike Nashville. Check out what Daniel McDonell, the Program Coordinator for Walk Bike Nashville has to say about the organization:

What is Walk Bike Nashville?

Walk Bike Nashville is your non-profit for building a more walkable, bikeable and livable city for all Nashvillians. Active transportation, which is walking and biking to get where you need to go, adds innumerable benefits to an individual’s life and the city culture as a whole– such as improved health, increased community connections, mitigating environmental impacts and reducing traffic congestion.

What FREE programs does Walk Bike Nashville offer?

One of our programs is Walk Bike University, where we teach community members a variety of skills including Sidewalks 101 which introduces participants to the policy-making process (and how to get involved) when it comes to sidewalks, and our bike courses, like City Cycling 101, City Cycling 201, and Adult Learn to Ride, which teach participants how to navigate their bicycle safely through traffic. We partner with Parks and Recreation, community centers, greenways and libraries to bring these classes to a diverse audience in neighborhoods all around town.

In the City Cycling 101 class we cover the basics of bicycling, rules of the road and safety practices in an indoor classroom style setting. The course also includes a fix-a-flat demonstration, which is always a popular lesson and one of the most basic bike maintenance skills that cyclists want to learn. In the City Cycling 201 class we also teach the rules of the road, but in an active on-bicycle session. Our instructors work through parking lot drills and lead participants on a 4-5 mile neighborhood bike ride. The City Cycling 201 course is a compliment to the 101 course, but participants can sign up for one without signing up for the other. The 101 course is usually on a weekday evening, and the 201 course is usually the following weekend starting from the same location.

If you don’t know how to ride a bike, it’s never too late to learn! We offer our Adult Learn to Ride class. This class was recently featured in the Tennessean and USA Today. It is one of the most fulfilling classes because almost every adult who attends the class (people who have never even sat on a bicycle before) learn to balance and pedal after only a couple hours.

Who teaches the Walk Bike University Classes?

We have 19 volunteer League Certified Instructors (LCIs) that have gone through an intensive national teaching program run by the League of American Bicyclists. These instructors come from all walks of life, all professional backgrounds, all parts of town, but have one core thing in common: they are passionate about cycling and what to make Nashville a safer place to ride by teaching more community members how to ride safely.

Keeley 101

Why is there so much emphasis on education?

We believe that by educating people how to bicycle safely and comfortably, more people will use the method for everyday transportation (aka. vehicular cycling or commuting). More people using active transportation will encourage better infrastructure and awareness, which in turn allows more people to use active transportation comfortably and safely. It’s a wonderful win-win feedback loop where the users and the city as a whole benefit.

Walk Bike Nashville believes that many people already have a great interest in walking and biking, but studies show that only about 3% of people in Nashville ever use these methods to get to work. Providing skills and knowledge for safe and comfortable active transit taps into this interest and encourages an increase in the number of people walking and bicycling in Nashville. With increased visibility of pedestrians and bicyclists, not only do we demonstrate that these transportation modes are vital to a livable city, but continue to increase interest and develop future pedestrians and bicyclists.

What’s the best way to get into walking and bicycling?

Get out there and try it! Use your local low-stress greenway, practice your commuting routes on the weekend when there is less traffic and, most importantly, come to our FREE Walk Bike University workshops to gain the knowledge and confidence to try it out.

The Tour de Nash is another great way to gain exposure to Nashville’s vast cycling infrastructure via Nashville’s larges urban fun ride. With a free 8-mile family route and additional 25- and 45-mile routes, the tour will be will be a plush experience with rest stops, rider support, scenic beauty, and the thrill of having a thousand other riders to encourage you along your way. Sign up for the Tour de Nash today! Tour de Nash is also a major fundraising event to benefit Walk Bike Nashville.

Our current schedule of Spring classes is listed below, with new opportunities posted each season.

Tour de Nash Prep Workshop – May 5
Adult Learn to Ride – May 7
City Cycling 101 – May 12
City Cycling 201 – May 14
Adult Learn to Ride – June 11


You can also find the Walk Bike University Classes posted on the Team Green Adventures Calendar and featured in Team Green’s weekly eNewsletter!

Nutrition on the Go!

Nutrition on the Go!

Let’s face it: life is hectic.  Some might even call it crazy.

Between work, school, family, and every extracurricular activity in between, we are constantly on the go. Whether you are in the office, traveling for work, or simply making that daily commute, we have a tendency to forget about our next meal.  Before you know it, our hangry-side comes out and we make irrational eating choices to solve the problem.  Unfortunately, these poor meal choices take a toll on our body and often leave us bloated, groggy, and down right disappointed with ourselves.

You don’t have to live this way!  There are simple changes we can incorporate into our fast-paced lifestyle to ensure we are properly fueling our body for even the most chaotic schedule.

This past Wednesday, Lightning 100’s Team Green Adventures met at the Nashville Farmer’s Market for our monthly Nutrition Workshop.  Amber Robertson, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with BlissHolistic led a “Nutrition on the Go” themed workshop.   Here’s a recap of the fun facts we learned to eat healthy, even when healthy seems impossible.

Top 3 Tips for Eating Well

Amber provided us with 3 easy and super helpful tips that can make a huge difference in our diet.

Tip 1: Hydration Station

Water can play a detrimental role in how well our body is functioning.  When we are not properly hydrated we often feel tired or sluggish.  Our bodies might confuse dehydration with hunger, so we will eat more food, when really what our body needs is water!  Amber suggests trying the 5-minute water test.  If you know you should not be hungry but are craving food, try drinking a glass of water.  Wait five minutes and then determine your level of hunger.  Chances are you will have satisfied your body’s need and will have more energy to power through until your next meal.

Tip 2: Know how to balance your blood sugar

Low blood sugar can leave you feeling shaky, feint, spacey, and– the feeling we all dread– HANGRY.  Our first reaction might be to get some sugar in our body’s ASAP. That candy bar you’ve been storing in your desk drawer is suddenly calling your name.  Don’t fall to temptation.  You can properly maintain your blood sugar and sustain your energy by following this easy little formula:

Protein + Fiber + Fat

Yes, you read that correctly, fat.  When you combine the above formula, you are properly fueling your body to burn calories efficiently throughout the day.  For eating on the go, here’s a couple examples of each category for you:

proteins = nuts and seeds
fiber = fruits and vegetables
fat = coconut oil, avocados, almond butter or sunflower butter.

These are healthy snacks you could pick when low on energy, without having to go out of the way to find them– just stop at a gas station!

Tip 3: Plan Ahead!

The best way to ensure you are following a proper diet for sustained energy on the go is to plan ahead.  It is true, meal preparation can seem time consuming; in reality, when you set aside an hour or two to prepare meals for the entire week, you not only save yourself time in the long-run, you feel great about committing yourself to a healthier lifestyle!

Luckily, it’s a lot easier than you think.  Integrate this neat motto into your cooking habits: “Cook once, eat twice.” When you cook a meal for yourself, cook twice as much, then portion out the leftovers, and store them in containers for upcoming meals on the go.  Rice, vegetables, chicken…the combined possibilities are endless!

You can also make a habit of keeping your vehicle and desk stocked with healthy snacks. If you go through them regularly, add them to your weekly shopping schedule so you don’t forget.

Bonus Tip: Practice chewing your food

Eating on the go has created a bad habit of the “bite and swallow” method of eating.  When we don’t properly chew, our food doesn’t break down properly, which can lead to digestive problems.  Next time you eat a meal, allow your body to rest and digest, slow down, chew and enjoy what you are eating.  Amber suggests chewing each bite of food 30 times.  Sounds a bit tedious I know.  But trust me, it helps!  This allows your food to liquefy and allow your body to absorb all the nutrients it has to offer.  You’ll also find yourself eating slower, allowing your body more time to tell you when it’s full so you don’t overeat.

Learn More

Want to learn more tips on how to eat healthy?  Check out where you can find helpful blogs, advice from Amber, and a list of upcoming events.

Our next Nutrition Workshop is on Wednesday, May 18 at 6pm at the Nashville Farmers’ Market.  Amber will teach us how to cook with some of the most nutritious and flavorful food nature provides – Greens! There is no registration deadline and walk-ins are welcome, but if you RSVP you are guaranteed a sample of the delicious, nutritious meal that Amber whips up right in front of our eyes!

-Melanie (Team Green Spring Intern)


Blueways Blues

Blueways Blues

At Lightning 100’s Team Green Adventures, we love the outdoors.  We are passionate about maintaining a clean, sustainable environment for all to enjoy, and it is our goal to get the community of Middle Tennessee involved in our efforts.  That’s why we incorporate as many community service events as we can to help raise awareness about environmental concerns.

Each year Team Green Adventures hosts multiple waterway cleanups to collect litter from our beautiful creeks and streams. In 2015, over 100 volunteers gathered for six different waterway cleanups; together we gathered 167 bags of trash and 118 tires!

“Why do people throw trash in our waterways?!” you might be thinking.

It’s not as vicious as that (most of the time).

Litter primarily enters our local waterways as a result of storm water runoff. Individuals may have litter in their yard, which is carried into a neighborhood creek, which eventually enters a tributary river, which then feeds into an even larger river. Individuals toss litter out their car window, which is eventually washed into the local blueway system. Recreational canoeists tip over in the river, and their personal belongings wash down stream. Sports leagues gather at a nearby soccer field, and choose to leave their litter on the ground because the trash cans are already too full…

In addition to these instances, Mother Nature takes her toll by introducing mass flooding, like Nashville’s 2010 Flood. In this case, many efforts took place to cleanup our waterways, but the blueways system in Nashville is so expansive that there are still sections of littered creeks and rivers in 2016.

Waterway cleanups are an ever-present need in Nashville, and that’s why Lightning 100’s Team Green Adventures is at it again, ready to make a bigger impact than ever before.  To kick off our 2016 waterway cleanup season, thirteen Lightning 100 listeners, Team Green Adventurers members, and Bridgestone employees teamed up last Saturday morning to do some damage-control.  In 2012 Team Green Adventures adopted a one-mile section of Mill Creek along the Mill Creek Greenway at Ezell Park. The greenway ends at Ezell Park Soccer Stadium, which is so overburdened by litter that even a mild rain storm will wash the abundance of beverage containers, dirty diapers,  candy wrappers, and torn clothing downhill into Mill Creek.  This past weekend our volunteers went above and beyond their duties and did a clean sweep of the soccer fields in addition to the creek bed.  We collected a total of 38 bags of trash, 5 tires, a couple wood pallets, and random scraps of metal over a short 4 hour period!

Mill Creek Trash 4_2_16

While this event was wildly successful, Team Green Adventures is just getting started.  This event kicked off the first of three creek cleanups and three canoe float cleanups in 2016. If you want to get involved and give our local waterways some love, check out the Lightning 100’s Team Green Adventures calendar throughout the year. Our next creek cleanup is already posted and waiting for volunteers. In July we’ll move away from our Adopt-a-Stream creek and instead help out Friends of Warner Park with our Little Harpeth River Bank Cleanup on July 24!

-Melanie Placke (Team Green Spring Intern)
Learn about other organizations and businesses in the Greater Nashville Area helping to cleanup not only our waterways, but also our air quality and trails, working to support our parks systems or local farming community, and helping you reduce your personal carbon footprint. Visit the vendors and enjoy the great live music at the 15th Annual Nashville Earth Day Festival on Saturday, April 23rd from 11am-6pm at Centennial Park.

Inspiration- A Running Theme

Inspiration- A Running Theme

This week’s AdventureBlog is written by Nicole Ginley-Hidinger with Ragnar Relay, and spotlights a very inspiring group of runners who have every excuse in the world not to run, yet do. Hopefully their stories will provide some inspiration in your own life to get active, and run!


There are a million different paths to becoming a runner. Some people start as soon as they can walk and never look back, some get dragged out the door and pushed onto a trail or treadmill, some find a spark of hidden inspiration, some were tricked into it with the promise of ice cream at the end, and some were asked to fill a spot on a Ragnar team. On Team Run Free, many of the athletes were made into runners when they received their first prosthetic running leg from Amputee Blade Runners. And at Reebok Ragnar Relay Tennessee, they’re about to put their legs to the test.

Amputee Blade Runners (ABR) is a non-profit out of Nashville, Tennessee that fits amputees with prosthetic running legs that help them be active. Thirteen of the Fourteen runners on Team Run Free received their prosthetic legs through the Amputee Blade Runner grant program. The team hopes to raise awareness and $10,000 to fit four more runners with new blades. Learn more on their fundraising page.

In a community where only 7% of amputees are active, the members of Team Run Free have truly beat the odds. In addition to running a Ragnar, several of the athletes have Paralympic dreams, one is a three-sport high school athlete, one is running Boston in April, one trains for biking-running duathlons; and Ryan Fann, the co-founder, has already won a Paralympic gold medal and holds a world record in track.

Ragnar creates the opportunity for the group to come together from different parts of the country, share their experiences, and then truly bond by spending two days (and all night in between) in a van smelling of sweat and glory.

“I think it’s going to be really incredible to have 14 amputees in one location running together. You’re not going to see that very often unless it’s a Paralympic event,” says Fann. “It’s about raising awareness. The more people you see with prosthetics out being active compared to the number of people you see with prosthetics in wheelchairs being disabled, I think it’s going to change the view people have of wearing a prosthesis.”

The group is composed of 13 men plus Mollyanne Rhodes, the one woman; the teammates range in age from DJ Vanderwerf (18) to Brent Lambert (60). The group includes two double amputees, some runners who have had a prosthetic leg since they were eleven months old, and runners who received their running leg last year.


Lambert is one of the team’s seasoned Ragnar veterans. Five years ago he decided to amputate his leg after having over twenty surgeries in a little more than four years of trying and save it. He had battled with a long term bone disease and could never be active for more than one or two years at a time. After his amputation, he stumbled upon ABR, by accident, which began his journey into running.

“Really, in some ways, I thought they’re not going to give one of these running legs to a 54-55 year-old guy,” he says. “I’m the oldest of the ABR team and I thought they’re really not going to do this, but they did. So I’ve been running for the last 5 years.”

Before he found ABR, Lambert had gotten into cycling. ABR created him a cycling leg for him as well and he now competes in duathlons. At the Endeavor games, a competition hosted by Central Oklahoma University for athletes with physical disabilities, Lambert took home three golds and three silvers. As a Ragnar veteran, the opportunity to run with a team entirely made up of amputees brought him back to tackle the event again.

“I’m just excited to do it again this year and excited to do it to support the Amputee Blade Runners team because not only have they helped me so much but they do such good work in helping a lot of younger amputees,” he says. “It really makes a difference in their lives. I’m excited to do anything to help younger amputees.”

Watch Team Run Free at the Tennessee Ragnar or run alongside them with your own team.

Nicole Ginley-Hidinger (Social Media Content Specialist at Ragnar Events)


The deadline to register is April 15th. If you don’t know 11 other runners to form a team with, perhaps you know 5 other runners and can sign up as a 6-Pack Team to fill one van, and be paired up with another 6-Pack Team. Learn more here.

You can also get to know the Lightning FLASH Ragnar Team, made up of Team Green members, Lightning 100 listeners, local artists, and other individuals in the Nashville music industry. We run each Monday at 7pm along Shelby Bottoms or Stones Rivers Greenways for our Greenway Fun Runs. We hope you’ll join us!

Eating For Energy

Eating For Energy

It was t-shirt weather, not the overwhelming kind, but just enough to enjoy sitting outside in the shade behind the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Our Team Green Adventures Nutrition Workshop group sat on picnic tables facing the park as Amber Robertson from Bliss Holistic delved into the Eating For Energy edition of our monthly series.

Stress can be inversely linked to energy. Why? Stress triggers your body to store up as much energy as possible. The problem is that most of us automatically go for the foods that give us the quickest boost of energy– a sugar spike. Those foods aren’t stable sources of energy; first you get a boost and then you crash hard when that spike wears off, leaving you feeling drained.

Think about when 2pm rolls around. The day has been hard, that deadline is quickly approaching and all you can think about is that yummy candy bar or that pack of powdered doughnuts. You go for it and it gives you a burst of energy. Soon after you just want to fall asleep or stare off into space.

Then what do we do? Go for more food to give us that spike. It’s an ugly cycle.

More stress, less energy. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

As we had some passersby join in, Amber went over five food types that decrease our energy:

  1. Caffeine
  2. Processed chemical-ized (junk) foods
  3. Dairy
  4. Refined sugar
  5. Trans fat

Then some that increase and stabilize our energy:

  1. Living/raw foods (good because the nutrients haven’t yet degraded or been cooked out)
  2. Whole foods (foods that have not been altered from their natural state)
  3. Superfoods (nutrient-rich foods like kale, blueberries, salmon)

Simply put, the best way to keep your energy up is to eat the freshest possible dark-colored foods. Amber’s “magic formula” is:

E = P + V + HF (Energy = Protein + Veggies + Healthy Fats)

Using the list of foods that increase your energy, think of foods like Raw Pumpkin Seeds/Soy/Lentils (Protein) + Kale/Carrots (Vegetable) + Avocado/Nuts (Health Fats).

My personal advice is to avoid the aisles of the grocery. Shop the outer ring. That’s where they keep the freshest, healthiest items. The exception might be whole grains and lentils, which are probably down an aisle.

Food is not the only source of energy, however. Air, water, quality sleep, and primary foods are important for maintaining healthy energy levels.

What are primary foods?

As Amber put it, primary foods are the nourishing elements and experiences that don’t come on a plate, such as:

  1. Relationships (your friends, family, co-workers, etc.)
  2. Career (your occupation or how you spend your time)
  3. Physical Activity (movement and exercise)
  4. Spirituality (feeling connected to something greater than yourself)

Optimal energy is a result of satisfaction with the food on your plate as well as the quality of your primary foods. You have the choice to have a healthy plate of food and healthy primary foods. When you remember that making healthy choices will make you feel better, it’s easier to eat and live well.

nutrition blog 3.25.16

Speaking of easy ways to eat well, Amber made this delicious dish for us call Vegetarian Tempeh Tacos. Tempeh is just a fancy word for fermented (TASTY) soy beans.

Uh, healthy tacos? I’m in! What about you? Try it out!

Vegetarian Tempeh Tacos
(About Six Servings)


  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of unflavored tempeh (I couldn’t find unflavored so I got beef flavored…because tacos!)
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic (or garlic paste from the International/Indian food store)
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1 fresh diced jalapeño
  • ½ diced red onion
  • 1 taco seasoning packet (or 2 tablespoons)
  • Olive oil
  • 6-8 soft tortillas or hard taco shells, per your taste


  1. Crumble tempeh into a large mixing bowl. Then mix in the garlic, tomato, jalapeño, onion, and seasoning packet.
  2. Coat a skillet or frying pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once heated, toss in the tempeh mixture. Flip tempeh/vegetable mixture a few times so that it browns evenly. It’s ready when vegetables are tender and tempeh has crispy edges. It should take about 10 minutes. (Add a little water if the mixture seems too dry.)
  3. While tempeh is cooking, prepare tortillas or taco shells following the directions on the package.
  4. Fill tortillas or taco shells with tempeh/vegetable mixture and top with your choice of toppings.
  5. Enjoy!

Re-purpose for lunch tomorrow: Tempeh Taco Salad

Top your favorite salad greens (remember, the darker the better) with taco tempeh mixture, extra veggies and dressing, like the recipe below.

Goddess Avocado Dressing
(Makes about 2 cups)

Blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth

  • 5 avocados
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water (may need more to thin it out)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Voila! You have a delicious energy boosting dinner, and creative left overs for lunch the next day!

Samantha (Team Green Volunteer Trip Leader)

Meet Samantha and Amber Robertson on the Third Wednesday of each month for Team Green’s Monthly Nutrition Workshop Series at the Nashville Famers’ Market. Our next workshop is on Wednesday, April 20th at 6pm for “Nutrition On The Go!”