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Where Do You Get Your Protein?

19 Jun

A little plant-based diet humor for you 🙂

This is the cliche question that every “meat as a condiment”-eater dreads. I actually enjoy answering this question because it gives me a chance to address a very hot topic. It’s no secret that Americans love their protein. Especially in the Midwest, a hunk of meat is the star of the show at most meals. But many myths and misconceptions surround protein, so today I’m going to set the record straight.

What is it?

Protein is one of the “big three” nutrients along with carbohydrates and fat. It plays many roles in the body including immunity, skin, hair, nails, and metabolism. But the one most pertinent to this conversation is its role as the building blocks for our body and muscles. You can’t reap the health rewards of lean muscle mass without adequate protein.

How much is “enough”?

You’ve probably heard all sorts of things about how to figure out how much protein you need. The general recommendation for a healthy person is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you are trying to lose weight, 1 gram per kilogram of body weight may help kickstart the weight loss. One easy way to get a rough estimate is to take your body weight in pounds, divide it by 2 and subtract 10. So if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 65 grams of protein a day. I rarely recommend more than that unless it’s for an athlete who is constantly breaking down and rebuilding muscle in strenuous workouts.

Can you eat too much protein?

Many people say “no”, but I say “yes”! This is not a “more is better” situation. More protein does not equal more muscle. Our bodies are very smart. If we give them more protein than they need, they simply dispose of the excess. This disposal process can be hard on our kidneys, especially for people susceptible to kidney issues. Also, the excess protein may cause other systems to go awry. A few studies have actually shown that high protein diets may decrease testosterone (a hormone that contributes to muscle growth)- I assume that’s not the effect those body builders are looking for 🙂 Also, high protein diets are being investigated for a possible link to cancer. The documentary Forks Over Knives talks about this quite a bit. Moral of the story: more is not better!

When should I eat protein?

It’s important to spread out protein foods throughout the day because our body cannot absorb it all at once. Try to include a protein source with each meal and snack. Protein is especially important after workouts, but IT MUST BE PAIRED WITH CARBOHYDRATE! Carbohydrate is like a key that lets the protein into the muscle. So add some fruit to that low-carb protein powder and turn it into a smoothie.

Where do you get your protein?

I’m sure you’ve heard foods called “complete proteins” and incomplete proteins”. This refers to the amino acids they are made of. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. A good analogy for this is a long train with many individual train cars. Not all trains (proteins) are made of the same cars (amino acids). Some amino acids have to come from food and some can be made by our body out of other amino acids. A “complete protein” contains all amino acids that our body needs. An “incomplete protein” is missing one or more of the amino acids our body needs. All animal foods (meat, dairy) are complete proteins.

Is animal protein the best protein?

This DOES NOT mean that animal foods are the best proteins. Our bodies can store amino acids until the right combination comes along. The key is to be sure you are eating a variety of protein foods throughout the day, whether from plants or animals. One downside with animal foods is they usually come with a big dose of unhealthy saturated fat. With plant proteins, saturated fat is not a problem!

Protein rule of thumb: Lean and clean, the less legs the better.
I picked this up from another dietitian and it’s a great rule! “Lean and clean” refers to the amount of fat, so choose lower fat sources. “The less legs the better” is just a fun way to remember which sources are lowest in unhealthy fats: fish and plants have 0-1 leg, poultry has 2 legs, and cows and pigs have 4 legs.

Protein Foods

Do I need a protein powder?

You most certainly do not need one and no matter what the packaging claims, a powder will not make you healthier or thinner than eating real foods. A protein powder is a supplement, so it should be used to supplement your diet and not to replace whole foods in your diet. If a protein powder works for you for convenience reasons, then go for it. But keep in mind that these powders are usually heavily processed and typically low-carb, so use sparingly and pair with a carbohydrate food. My favorite protein powder is Sun Warrior. It’s plant-based and minimally processed.

So back to that initial question, where do I get my protein? I like a variety of plant-based foods with a few animal sources sprinkled in. Stay tuned for a video of my favorite protein-packed smoothie!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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There’s An App For That

17 Jun

TGIF!! I kicked off my Friday with a fast and shweaty bike ride before the storms hit. I’ve found that if I want to exercise outdoors during steamy St. Louis summers (I do! I do!), then I have to drag myself out of bed bright and early. It’s no fun when my alarm goes off, but I feel incredible after my workout. So worth it!

On to other things…

If you know me personally, you know that I own one of these little babies.

You also know that I am reluctantly dependent on it.

I tend to rebel against technology. Ask JWD. He is constantly rolling his eyes at my hissy fits over cords and batteries, computers and phones, plugins and widgets. If it were feasible, I’d much rather pen my blog posts and send them to each and every one of you the old-fashioned way- with an envelope and a stamp.

But I can’t deny the love I have for my iPhone.

First thing in the morning before I even get out of bed. Last thing at night before I close my eyes. To check my email. To check twitter. To check Facebook. To check the weather. To make “To Do” lists. To look up restaurant reviews. To jot down spontaneous ideas. To write blog posts. To listen to music.

Yep, I’m a tad bit addicted.

Smartphones are pretty handy- especially if you’re in to healthy living.

My Favorite Health and Fitness Apps

*All of these apps are free on iPhone. Most of them are also available for Android. No smartphone? No problem! Most of them also have websites that offer the same elements.

For Weight Goals

Dailyburn + Fitday + SparkPeople + loseit! + myfitnesspal

Stay on track with your weight loss, weight maintenance, and even weight gain goals with these electronic food and exercise journals. They are all more or less the same, with a few individual benefits/drawbacks. After entering some personal information (i.e. height, weight, age, gender) and a weight goal, a daily calorie level is set and you begin tracking your daily meals, exercise, and weights. Most of the apps allow you to set a pace or time frame for your goal (lose 1/2 lb. a week or lose 15 lbs. by a certain date).

A few things I noticed:

SparkPeople: This one gives you demos of tons of different exercises- great reference for newbies and inspiration for seasoned exercisers. It also gives you suggested meal plans to meet you calorie goal.

daily burn:I tinkered with all the apps for a day or two and this one’s database didn’t feel intuitive to me. It didn’t feel easy enough to navigate for everyday use.

loseit: This one is very user-friendly. I love that it allows you to create and store nutrient analysis for whole recipes, so no more estimating how many calories are in a cup of your famous homemade casserole.

Fast Food Calorie Counter

Get the nutrition facts for menu items from a variety of popular fast food chains. The app offers a good variety of chains. The items are listed by serving size, but the size of one “serving” is not defined. I think it is useful for a broad idea of calorie content to choose the lesser evil when you are faced with a fast food dilemma- or to scare you away from eating it!! 🙂

For The Athlete

Nike BOOM

Need a dose of motivation along with your workout playlist? Choose your workout, set the time, and choose your favorite playlist. Throughout your workout professional athletes and coaches interject motivational words to keep you going hard. A little cheesy, I must admit, but pretty fun. 🙂

Pocket Yoga (Free)

Good for beginners, this app gives photos and descriptions of different yoga poses as well as audio/video yoga sequences. Choose from three different practices and adjust the difficulty level. I might use this app in a pinch to run me through a yoga practice or as reference to look up a pose, but the free version provides limited usefulness.

RunKeeper

This one acts as a GPS and tracks your physical activity. It’s not just for running- you can choose from a variety of activities including snowboarding. Track your distance, time, pace, and calories. It also gives audio updates and coaching during your workout.

For The Foodie

Urbanspoon

This is one of my favorite apps! I use it all the time to find new restaurants. Search restaurants by city, name, neighborhood, cuisine, special features, and popularity. Read reviews and ratings for an unbiased take on restaurants. Get standard info like location, phone number, price range, and photos. It’s an awesome way to find gems in any city.

epicurious

This app gives you access to tons of great recipes. When you find a recipe you want to make, the app generates a shopping list for you with little check boxes. I love that I don’t have to copy down recipes onto my grocery list every week because it’s all right on my phone! This app is also great for recipe surfing (one of my favorite activities) to pass the time in waiting rooms/long lines.

Fooducate

This app is a little mind-blowing for a not-so-tech-savvy person like myself.  Scan barcodes with your phone to get the health lowdown on a product. Fooducate rates the healthiness of products by giving it a letter grade and explaining why it was given the particular grade. It’s a great tool to use in the grocery store to cut through all of the confusing marketing claims and uncover hidden unhealthy landmines. For example, I made a rookie mistake by choosing “Trader Giotto’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough” from Trader Joe’s without reading the ingredient list only to be informed by my Fooducate app that it isn’t made out of 100% whole grain flour! It also gives you healthier alternatives to the products you scan. Some of the info should be taken with a grain of salt. Fooducate gave my beloved Larabar (ingredients: cashews, dates) a C+ and suggested a Myoplex bar as an alternative (a bar that is highly processed with a long list of ingredients including MSG).

Anyone else an avid health app user? Please share your favorites!!

Have a fabulous weekend! Meet me back here Sunday for a recap.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Healthy for the Holidays

25 Nov

The holiday season is my favorite time of year. Fireplaces, slippers, baking, family gatherings, and celebrations with friends.

But with all of the snuggling and celebrating, health and fitness tend to take a backseat. Next thing we know, the holidays are over- and fond memories aren’t the only thing we’ve gained.

(source)

Here’s a few tips on how to make your holiday season a little bit healthier.

  • Eat before you go. Never go to a holiday party with an empty stomach. If your stomach is growling, you will be tempted to devour everything in site. Have a well-balanced snack such as apples and peanut butter, greek yogurt, or whole grain crackers with light spreadable cheese. The same goes for breakfast. Even if you have a big feast planned later in the day, stick to a healthy eating routine for the rest of your meals.
  • Share something healthy. If you’re asked to bring a dish or if you’re hosting, contribute some healthy fare. Vegetable side dishes, salads, and fruit can all be festive and delicious. At most holiday gatherings high-calorie foods are plentiful, so there’s plenty of room for something light and healthy.
  • Survey the buffet. When faced with a buffet of food, survey the selection first and then make your decisions. If we simply grab a plate and start at the beginning, we will almost always over-serve ourselves. Maybe the cheesy casserole looks good– until you spot the buttery potatoes at the other end. Choose your favorites and do without the not-so-tempting items.
  • Plan your indulgences. Look at your holiday calendar and recognize the events that you know you will indulge. Plan for these indulgences by maintaining a balanced, healthy diet and exercise routine for the week before the event. And by all means, enjoy your indulgences and don’t beat yourself up about it the next day! By now you all know that I am a huge fan of savoring and enjoying food!
  • Distract yourself. Believe me, I am a lover of food, BUT it doesn’t have to be the focus of your holiday season. Don’t sit right next to the buffet, don’t linger over the hors d’oeuvres. DO participate in fun holiday games and DO enjoy great conversations with friends and family.
  • Resist food pushers. The holidays are full of food pushers- those people tempting you with second helpings and waving rich desserts in front of your face, offering to serve you a heaping slice. IT IS OKAY TO POLITELY SAY NO. There’s nothing wrong with a nice “No thank you. That looks delicious, but I’m stuffed.” Those who care about you will not be offended.
  • Water is your friend. Drink it before and during meals. Drink it in between cocktails. Your body (and your hangover) will thank you.
  • Watch out for “tastes”. Whether it’s taste tests in the kitchen, a sample of the latest frozen cheesecake at the grocery store, or a handful of mixed nuts in the break room, these little tastes can add up to hundreds of extra calories. At this time of year, it is extra important to be conscious of what you put in your mouth.
  • Prepare for leftovers. Getting stuck with mounds of leftovers is a dieter’s worst nightmare. If you are hosting and don’t want half a leftover pumpkin pie calling your name from the fridge, be prepared. Buy tupperware containers, cling wrap, etc. to make it easy for guests to take home leftovers.
  • Squeeze in as much exercise as you can. Everyone is extra busy this time of year which makes it extra hard to find time for exercise. But it’s also an extra important part of staying healthy! So try to squeeze it in whenever you can. Get together with friends for a local Turkey Trot or Jingle Bell Run. Round up the family for a walk after dinner. Organize a holiday walk to look at neighborhood Christmas lights. Park at the back of the parking lot when doing your Christmas shopping. Make it a priority to give yourself 30 minutes a day to sweat. Bonus: exercise releases happy hormones that help relieve stress!

**Something to consider from Nourish: Your Thanksgiving Meal in Calories

Remember to enjoy this special time of year, treat yourself right, and ring in the New Year feeling fabulous about yourself!

I am so thankful for YOU, the readers of Running on Sunshine!

Stay tuned for my holiday adventures!

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading (:

Comfort Food

10 Oct

Fall is the time of year when our cravings for grilled veggies, hydrating melon, and crisp salads disappear and we long for something richer, heartier, and more decadent. Think creamy soups, buttery mashed potatoes, and dense desserts. It’s the time of year when we trade our bikinis and shorts for oversized sweaters. We hide beneath the layers while we curl up on the couch and tuck in to a big bowl of comfort food.

What is comfort food?

It’s food that reminds you of home, of your childhood, or of your current family. It’s food that warms your body and soul. It provokes happy memories.

It’s food that is associated with: butter, fat, calories, and food comas.

It’s food that is not associated with: health, fitness, and wellness.

Guess what? Comfort food can be healthy! Comfort food can make you feel good about yourself, it can fuel for active life, and it can help you maintain or lose weight. Pureed veggies and beans and thick greek yogurt can replace heavy cream, baking with olive oil can replace deep-frying, and loading comfort food recipes full of veggies will cut calories and raise nutritional value in a snap.

A few of my favorite comfort food makeovers

  • Soups: Instead of adding heavy cream to thicken your soups, simply ladle half the soup into your blender, pulse until thick and smooth, and stir it back in to the pot. I love to puree roasted butternut squash, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and any kind of beans to add a thick and creamy texture to my soups without adding the fat of heavy cream.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • Fries: There’s something about crispy, starchy fries that provoke a feeling of happiness, but traditional french fries are loaded with unhealthy fat. Instead of deep-frying, bake your fries in the oven and get the happy feeling whenever you want! Slice regular or sweet potatoes (or even carrots and winter squash) into strips, toss in a drizzle of olive oil and seasonings, arrange on a lightly greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 min. or until brown and crispy. Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce (mine is hummus).

  • Casseroles: Casseroles are usually full of fat sources like cheese and butter. One way to lighten casseroles is to cut the fat by using less cheese. Top cheesy casseroles with a little bit of a more pungent cheese (parmesan, gorgonzola, feta). A little sprinkling of these cheeses packs much more flavor than dowsing your casserole with a low-fat cheese. Another strategy is to load your casserole with veggies. This leaves less room for meats, cheeses, and creamed soups.

This casserole is hearty, comforting, and topped with a layer of mashed potatoes (another comfort food)

Shepherd’s Pie

Prepare 1 cup of brown lentils. Set aside. (If you prefer meat, add lean ground turkey instead)

Boil diced potatoes until tender.

Puree 1 cup of garbanzo beans, 1 cup milk (I use soy milk), and a few spoonfuls of nonfat greek yogurt. Add pureed mixture to potatoes and smash or whip until smooth (I Like em a little chunky). Add 1-2 tablespoons butter (I use Earth Balance) and paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. The beans add creaminess and extra nutrition to the potatoes.

Meanwhile, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and sauté about 1/3 cup diced onion, 1 diced bell pepper, 2 diced carrots, and 2 diced celery stalks until tender. Add 1 can diced or crushed tomatoes, prepared lentils, 1 cup green beans, and 1 cup corn kernels. Simmer until the mixture thickens. Pour veggie mixture into a casserole dish, top with mashed potatoes, and sprinkle with a small amount of your favorite cheese (I used goat cheese). Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

When dipping in to a casserole, it’s very easy to over-serve yourself. Bake the casserole in bell peppers and you’ll have perfect portion-controlled servings. (Bake at 400 degrees for 20 min with a splash of water in the bottom of the baking dish)

Another healthy mashed potato recipe courtesy of Oh She Glows


  • Calorie-free comfort: Grabbing your favorite mug and curling up with a seasonal hot tea can do the trick. My favorite cold weather tea is Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice. It’s so flavorful makes me feel warm and fuzzy without extra calories.

As I was planning this post I realized I have A LOT of comfort food recipes to share, so there’s going to be a sequel. See you soon with more healthy comfort food and don’t forget to bring your sweet tooth 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

My Grocery Cart Staples

31 Aug

Hello friends! Lots to talk about today. First a life update…

I’m on week two of my senior year and I love it. My classes are going to be very challenging, but I am so excited about how much I am going to learn this year. When I’m not working on school stuff, I’m working on our new loft. I am a freak about things being clean, organized, and aesthetically pleasing so I’ve been a bit obsessive about getting things in order. I am also obsessive about decorating as cheaply as possible– I have a few DIY projects I’ll share in a future post 🙂

Between school, home decor, and soccer (JWD plays college soccer), life has been crazy and time for cooking, grocery shopping and meal planning have been limited. I am not willing to sacrifice my healthy lifestyle no matter how busy I am, so to make my food life easier I stick with the staples.

15 staples you will always find in my grocery cart

1. Portable and Frozen Fruit

“Portable” fruits like apples, pears, and bananas are easy for me to throw in my bag when I’m running out the door. I also stock up on frozen fruit because it keeps longer than fresh fruit without sacrificing nutrients and it’s great for smoothies, oatmeal, or as an oral-fixation tool for late-night studying 🙂

2. Veggies– Carrots, Celery, and Broccoli

These are my staple veggies. I eat them with everything- peanut butter, hummus, stirfry, wraps, and pastas.

3. Spinach

JWD and I polish off a giant tub of spinach every week. We throw handfuls in our smoothies, omelets, salads, and on sandwiches.

4. Citrus

Citrus is the perfect way to add flavor to a dish with little effort. I squeeze it over fish, veggies, salads, and pasta. It instantly brightens up a dish and gives it a fresh, gourmet taste.

5. Peanut Butter

Enough said.

6. Hummus

Hummus is an easy, satisfying snack. When I come home from a long day and I’m starving while preparing dinner, veggies and hummus are my go-to munchies.

7. Eggs

On some days I know I won’t have time for a mid-morning snack (I’ll be spending some long mornings seeing patients in a hospital). On these days I always whip up a few egg whites or one whole egg for breakfast to pair with my oatmeal. The mix of carbohydrates and protein keeps me full and energized until lunch. I buy organic, free-range, and local whenever possible- sans salmonella.

8. Yogurt

Yogurt is a great high protein snack. Although the individual yogurts are more convenient for work/school, we buy in bulk because it’s cheaper and creates less waste. I prefer plain greek, JWD prefers plain regular gurt.

9. Canned Beans and Tomatoes

I know, I know, technically this is two staples, but I use them in similar ways. They are both great to dump in pasta, soups, or rice for dinner in a snap. Canned beans provide fiber and protein while canned fire-roasted tomatoes create instant flavor. I use the crushed tomatoes for a pasta sauce base or as pizza sauce (much cheaper than buying jars of pasta or pizza sauce!). If beans or tomatoes are on sale, I stock up. They last forever!

10. Vegetable Broth

I always have this in my kitchen for soups or easy crockpot meals that I throw together before I leave for the day.

11. Grains

We always have some kind of grain in the kitchen. Pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth are the usuals.

12. Oats

Oats are my breakfast of choice 99% of the time. I rotate between old-fashioned rolled oats, steel-cut oats, and oat bran. All three have different textures.

13. Tortillas

Whole grain tortillas are wonderful for a quick pizza crust, veggie and humus wraps, peanut butter and banana roll ups, and fish tacos. I keep mine in the freezer so they last longer.

14. Frozen Fish

We keep some type of fish in the freezer at all times. The fabulous thing about fish is you don’t have to defrost it if you’re short on time. I just season the frozen filets and pop them in the oven.

15. Bars

Of course we always have bars in the house. They can be a little expensive, but they are a must for our busy lives. I keep one or two in my backpack so I’m always prepared when my tummy rumbles.

Knowing my grocery store staples makes shopping a breeze when I’m busy. These basics can be mixed and matched to form tons of different meals and snacks. Some of you might think I’m a sick twisted person, but I actually love the grocery store. I’ve been known to spend the better part of the day visiting the farmer’s market and several grocery stores and loving every minute of it. But sometimes I am way too busy to spend more than 15 minutes in the store and that’s when I rely on my staples. I know I can pick up these 15 things and have plenty of mix-and-match meals for the hectic week ahead.

On another note, I have a little offer for you. I am taking a nutrition counseling class and we are doing a counseling session on healthy eating. My classmates and I are required to find one person who is wiling to participate in a 1 hour one-on-one counseling session. You will fill out some information prior to your visit- primarily info about your usual diet including a food diary that one of my classmates will analyze. Then you will come to Saint Louis University for your healthy eating counseling session. The dates and times are Wednesday, 9/29/2010 or Friday, 10/1/2010 from 12pm-1pm or from 1:15pm-2:15 pm. This is a great opportunity to have a nutrition-savvy person analyze your diet and provide you with healthy eating tips and tricks. It’s also a great opportunity to help me and my classmates sharpen our skills so we can save the world someday 🙂 Let me know if you are interested! Shoot me an email at kayli923@gmail.com

something to read: Marian Nestle, a highly respected dietitian, gives her views on the egg recall

Thanks for reading 🙂

The Grand Finale

6 Aug

We’ve reached the finale of my meal posts: dinner. We’ll talk a little bit about at-home meals, but I would also like to talk about how you can eat healthy at restaurants. Let’s get started!

Cooking Dinner at Home

My first rule about cooking dinner at home is to relax and take the pressure off. I hardly ever follow recipes to a T. I simply don’t have time to choose a new recipe for every night of the week and take multiple trips to the store to gather every ingredient. So stop worrying and take the pressure off! You aren’t going to enjoy cooking if it turns in to a time-consuming hassle. I occasionally flip through my cookbook collection, magazines, and websites for inspiration. Then once a week I buy my staples (a future post topic??) and a few wild cards if I find a specific recipe I’d like to try. Then I adapt recipes and use whatever I have in the fridge. Cooking should be fun- a chance to get creative!

I have a standard blueprint for planning a dinner menu: a vegetable, a starch, and a protein in a 2:1:1 ratio on my plate. After that, it’s a free-for-all.  Here are a few examples…

yellowfin tuna, warm pesto potato salad, and broccoli rabe

(notice the vegetable portion is twice the size of the starch and protein portions)

 

lentil Snobby Joe’s  w/ no bun, roasted root vegetables, and a cucumber tomato salad

 

 

Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta w/ chickpeas, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, and a sprinkle of goat cheese

 

 

grilled mahi mahi, stir-fried veggies, and red quinoa

 

 

Veggie Lasagna Roll-Ups: whole-wheat lasagna noodles, mixed veggies, goat cheese, red sauce with crumbled tempeh, and an unpictured green salad

 

Eating Dinner at Restaurants

I wish I could tell you to go ahead and indulge when you go out! Isn’t that why you’re going out?? Isn’t it a special occasion?? Probably not. Americans eat an average of 4-5 restaurant/fast-food meals per week. St. Louis has many, many fabulous restaurants for a foodie like me to explore, so I understand the temptation to go out for dinner. My goal is to arm you with some strategies to prevent your restaurant meal from doing major damage.

1) Plan for it. If you know you are going out for dinner, make the rest of the day’s meals clean and healthy. Lots of veggies, lots of fiber, lots of water. DO NOT starve yourself all day to “save up” for your restaurant dinner. You’ll end up gorging yourself because 1. you’ll be starving and 2. you’ll have the false sense that you “deserve” the appetizer, pasta dish… and a dessert.

2) The internet is your friend. Although not always posted in the establishment, most fast-food and restaurant chains have their nutrition information posted online. It’s a great idea to look over the menu and nutrition info online before you go to a restaurant so you have a plan. For example, if you see that the Olive Garden Fettuccini Alfredo is 1,220 calories (!!!), then you might think twice about ordering it- or at least only eat a small portion of it. Know your food.

3) Remember: it’s not their job to keep you healthy. It’s their job to make food that tastes good and keeps you coming back for more. Humans crave salt, sugar, and fat and you can bet most restaurant meals are loaded with all three. Even the veggies are usually sauteed in liberal amounts of butter and oil. Some menus have “healthy” choices, but remember that they are probably “healthy in comparison to everything else on the menu” choices. Be aware and remember that most restaurant food is an indulgence- even if it’s a “healthy” option.

4) Watch your portions. You’ve heard this one a million times. Restaurants are known for their HUGE portions. Many include 3-4 servings. You can use the old “can you please wrap half the portion in a doggie bag before you bring the meal out” trick OR you can test your willpower (I never suggest this) and only eat a proper-sized portion. Another trick: use your smaller salad or bread plate to serve yourself from your platter dinner plate. (Remember the plate size rules?)

5) Know what to look for- and what to avoid. The descriptive words on the menu can tell you a lot about the nutrition of a dish. Words like fried, au gratin, battered, breaded, escalloped, stuffed, creamy, and sauteed are cues that the dish is full of unhealthy fat. To spot dishes that are more healthfully prepared, look for words like steamed, grilled, baked, broiled, and roasted.

6) Water, cocktail, water. When you are out to dinner with a large group and the conversation is engaging and the wine is flowing, it’s easy to get carried away. More alcohol = less inhibition = tendency to eat and indulge more. More alcohol also = more calories consumed- not to mention they are nutritionally empty calories. It’s okay to have a few drinks (I usually set a limit of 2), but alternate your alcoholic drinks with a tall glass of water. This will slow you down (and decrease your hangover!)

7) Don’t forget to enjoy yourself! After all, the purpose of going out to dinner is to relax and enjoy. Normally I would advise you to skip the bread basket. It’s too easy to engage in mindless eating. But if you loooooove those warm dinner rolls and reeeeally look forward to it, then have one. Just one. And eat it slowly, be present, and savor every bite. If you ordered the plain grilled chicken and veggies but you really wanted the fried chicken, then get the fried chicken. You’ll end up feeling unsatisfied if you order something that doesn’t taste good to you, and dissatisfaction usually leads to over-eating. BUT try to make a trade like… get the fried chicken, but pass on dessert OR get a salad and the fried chicken but only eat one piece OR ask a dinner companion to share the fried chicken + a healthier option with you.

It’s perfectly okay to indulge now and then, just be aware of what you’re eating (there’s nothing worse than being oblivious to what you put in your body) and slow down, be present, and savor every bite!

**Check out CalorieKing.com for nutrition info on your favorite foods and restaurants

**Also check out these websites for healthy dinner inspiration…

epicurious.com

cookinglight.com

health.com

Happy weekend, blog friends! Thanks for reading 🙂

 

I’m Baaaack….. And It’s Snack Time

1 Aug

I’m sorry about the loooong hiatus, but the last few weeks have been filled with packing, moving, unpacking, and studying, studying, studying. I’m excited to get back to regular posting! I have a lot of ideas in the works 🙂 So that glorious day, July 30th, that I mentioned in this post has come and gone and it’s time to tell you why it might just be the best day of my life thus far. A little more than a year ago, I was about to start my senior year as a Business major. I had known for awhile that a business degree just didn’t feel right for me. I didn’t enjoy my classes and I had no clue what I would do with the degree upon graduation. I explored many possible career paths and none of them gave me much fulfillment. So last summer I finally worked up the courage to change my major to Nutrition. I met with Jennifer (check out her blog!), who I now consider a very valuable mentor, and she helped me map out the speedy (aka cheapest) route to a Nutrition degree. The road ahead of me was daunting. I had to jump right in to a 4 week Chemistry II summer class (it had been almost two years since I took Chem I) and my first full semester was packed with 18 credit hours including Medical Terminology, Organic Chemistry, and Human Physiology. After many hours studying, a lot of string-pulling, piles of administrative paperwork, a few tears (who am I kidding- A LOT of tears), I am all caught up and ready to begin my senior year. As of July 30th (the end of my summer semester), no classes will be taken out of order and no classes will be taken online or from another college. This fall I will be a normal Nutrition and Dietetics student with a normal schedule.

I. CAN’T. WAIT.

Moral of the story: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Never settle. If you want something bad enough, anything is possible. The most challenging path is usually the one that leads you to the greatest happiness. Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

Now, about those snacks…

I love snacks. As you know by now, I am not a 3-squares-a-day kind of girl. I prefer several mini-meals spaced throughout the day so I never feel overly stuffed and I always have plenty of energy. Choosing a snack can be kind of tricky (a tempting time to reach for the chip bag), so here are my snack guidelines…

1) Plan Ahead

Having a food game plan is the key to staying on track with your healthy eating habits. This is especially important between meals. I’m sure you can all relate to this scenario: you’re out running afternoon errands or stuck at work and hunger strikes. You probably either suffer through the afternoon until you get home and devour the entire bag of Ruffles while making dinner, or you might reach for the nearest snack- the candy dish, the vending machine, or the drive-thru. With a little planning, you can easily navigate afternoon hunger without sabotaging your food day. If I leave the house for more than a couple hours I always pack a snack, something healthful and portable. When I had a 9-5 desk job, I always kept a drawer stocked with a few snacks or packed a snack so I could make it from lunch to dinner without wanting to take a nap under my desk or pay a visit to the vending machine. If you have something healthy within arms reach, the vending machine or the drive-thru won’t even cross your mind.

2) Eat For Energy

When choosing a snack, I like to have the mindset of “food as fuel”. This automatically excludes potato chips and candy bars from my snack choices because they are not good quality fuel for my body. The point of a between-meal snack is to keep your blood sugar from plummeting (low blood sugar = low energy) and to prevent that afternoon sluggish feeling. This guideline is very important if your afternoon snack is going to fuel an after-work workout. I think the best energizing snack combo is a mix of carbs, fiber, and protein.

3) Portion Control

My breakfast, lunch and dinner meals are usually larger than my snacks, so I have to make sure I don’t overdue it. Just as not eating enough zaps your energy, eating too much will zap your energy too. The point is to eat just enough to feel energized and satisfied.

4) Check in With Yourself

Make a habit of checking in with yourself before every meal. I mentioned in this post that I usually eat about 5-6 meals a day, but I always check in with myself before I eat. I never go full steam ahead through my day eating 6 meals like clockwork. The body is a funny thing- on some days you might feel like eating everything in sight and on others you might not have an appetite at all. If snack time rolls around and you aren’t hungry, there is no need to take in extra calories just because you are “scheduled” to do so. Even if I took the time to pack a snack, I never force myself to eat. The only exception may be if you have a workout planned. If I know I’ll be running or hitting the gym later in the day I try to eat at least a little something to give me exercise energy. Every person is different, every day is different, and there is no “one-diet-fits-all”, so learn to listen to your body and give it what it needs!

5) Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Without Wrecking Your Food Day

Mid-afternoon is a common time for your sweet tooth to strike. When your blood sugar dips between meals, your body craves a simple sugar pick-me-up. Instead of ignoring my sweet cravings (deprivation usually leads to binging and overindulging later), I satisfy it with a healthy twist. I’ll sprinkle a tablespoon of chocolate chips in my yogurt or air-popped popcorn or have a small dish of a sweet granola cereal with some almond milk. Sometimes I can satisfy my sweet tooth simply by adding some fruit to my snack. The key is to start with a healthy base (yogurt, plain popcorn) and add a tiny bit of sweet to satisfy you.

What I snack on:

This is my go-to snack. An Ezekiel Tortilla smeared with about 1 1/2 T of nut butter, half a banana, and a dash of cinnamon. This snack has the perfect amount of protein, carbs, and fiber to keep you full and it’s very portable. I slice it in half and stick it in a Tupperware or roll it up in foil.

Yogurt, especially greek yogurt, with fruit, unsweetened fiber cereal or Kashi cereal, and nuts is such a healthy snack! It’s a great snack for those trying to lose weight. Plain fat-free greek yogurt is low cal (120 for 1 cup) and high protein (20 grams for 1 cup!). The cereal and fruit adds fiber and a small sprinkle of nuts adds a good amount of healthy fat. If you are trying to lose weight, steer clear of flavored yogurt which has a lot of added sugar. I buy plain and sweeten it myself with a dash of stevia.

This snack comes in handy when I have a sweet tooth to satisfy. I microwave 1-2 T of nut butter with a few teaspoonfuls of chocolate chips. I pair it with apple slices for a “healthy twist”.

On those days when I check in with myself and find that I’m just not that hungry, I’ll have something like this: a mug of tea and an apple.

Other great snack ideas include air-popped popcorn, a piece of fruit paired with a handful of unsalted nuts, and fresh veggie slices with hummus or nut butter for dipping.

Everything You Need to Know about Bars

I’ve received a few questions about bars, so let’s talk bars since they are a popular snack food. I am not a big fan of bars- they are usually high in sugar, fat, calories and have ingredient lists a mile long. Since most bars are very calorie dense, you end up eating close to 300 calories in a small serving in a short amount of time. Why don’t you feel satisfied? We eat with our eyes first and we are usually more satisfied by volume than by the amount of calories in a meal. A bar is small in volume, but large in calories. BUT bars are convenient, portable and handy in situations where you need to get rid of your hunger fast and continue on with your day. There’s a new bar in the snack aisle every time I grocery shop. How the heck do you choose? If a snack situation calls for a bar, here is how I choose…

1) Check the ingredients list

This is usually the deal-breaker for me. If the ingredients list is a mile long and full of words I can’t pronounce, it doesn’t make it into my life. The less ingredients the better, and you better be able to pronounce all of them. If you see the words “high-fructose corn syrup”, put the bar down!!

2) Check the calories

Some bars have as many as 500 calories in them. That’s not a snack, that’s a meal replacement bar. I try to stay under 250 calories when I choose a bar. Somewhere around 200 calories is ideal.

3) Check the fat

The base of many bars is nuts so the fat content is usually pretty high, but it’s healthy fat that will stick with you until your next meal. Watch out for added fats such as oils. The saturated fat content should be very low, if any at all, and the trans fat should ALWAYS be zero.

4) Check the sugar

This is a tricky one. Most bars are very high in sugar, and if they aren’t then they are probably full of poison artificial sweetener. This is where you need to look at both the sugar content and the ingredient list. Bars made with whole foods contain sugar from dried fruits like dates and raisins. Some bars will have added sugar, so look for these words: agave, honey, evaporated cane juice, sucrose, dextrose, etc. (rule of thumb: if it ends in -ose, it’s probably an added sugar). This is a hard number to keep low without venturing in to artificial sweetener territory, so I try to stay under 15 grams ( frame of reference: a Snicker’s bar has 29 grams). For more info on sugar check out this post: White Poison

5) Check the fiber

Fiber keeps you full and satisfied. Look for bars with at least 3 grams of fiber. I focus more on fat, sugar, and fiber content instead of protein because high-protein bars are typically very processed and have tons of unidentifiable ingredients.

A Few Kayli-Approved Bars

Larabar

Although Larabars are pretty high in sugar and fat, the ingredient list has me swooning. Most flavors have well under ten ingredients and they are all totally recognizable. The fat is from nuts and the sugar is from fruit. If I’m going to eat a bar, these are my first choice because they are made of basic, whole foods and they always sustain me between meals. To cut fat and sugar, try eating just half of the bar. These bars are so nutrient dense that usually half holds me over. If you can find the mini bars, those are perfect (about 100 cals, 4-6 g fat, 8-11 g sugar)

Flavor: Cashew Cookie    Cals: 230    Fat: 13g    Fiber: 4g    Sugar: 18g    Protein: 6g

Ingredients: cashews, dates

Kind Bars

These bars also have a very small ingredient list. Once again, the fat and sugar content looks a little high, but it mostly comes from nuts and fruit.

Flavor: Fruit & Nut Delight   Cals: 180   Fat: 11g   Fiber: 4g   Sugar: 12g   Protein: 5g

Clif Bars

I save these babies for when I’m really hungry because they’re pretty hefty. JWD swears by these. Because he is a guy and he is very active, he can handle the higher carbs and sugar (unfair, isn’t it girls?). That said, they are very tasty and I never deny a Clif Bar craving. The ingredient list is a bit long, but everything is recognizable and 70% organic. Don’t have time for a sit-down lunch? Pair a Clif bar with a bag of fresh veggies for a balanced, filling meal.

Flavor: Carrot Cake   Cals:240   Fat: 4g   Fiber: 4g   Sugar: 21g   Protein: 10g

Luna Bars

Luna Bars are made by the Clif Bar company and are a lower calorie bar marketed to women. Again, the ingredient list is a bit long but identifiable. A typical bar is less than 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein. I love Chai Tea, Lemon Zest, and White Chocolate Macadamia.

Kashi TLC Bars

These bars are a good choice for people trying to lose weight and for kids. They do have added sugar and a so-so ingredient list, but the nutritional profile is great. A typical bar is under 150 calories, 5 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.

Bottom Line: If at all possible, choose a whole food snack over a bar. But if you must choose a bar, read the label!! And plan around your bar. High in sugar? Consider skipping after-dinner dessert. High in fat? Keep your fat intake in check for the rest of the day.

Something cool to check out: You Bar allows you to make customized bars! A little pricey, but how cool is that??

Whew… feels good to be back to blogging! I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming about the future of the blog and I have some good ideas brewing. I want it to be as informative and applicable to YOU as possible, so feel free to email me questions or topics you’d like me to write about kayli923@gmail.com

Have a wonderful Sunday night and take some time to plan out your snacks for the week!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Food Rules

1 Jul

Good morning blog friends! It’s almost the weekend! Yipppeee! So last time we talked I promised you a series of posts about what I eat. I have been a faithful food paparazzo for all most of my meals. Before I dive in to my daily feasts, I wanted to give you some basic eating guidelines that I follow….

1. 5-6 Meals A Day

No 3-squares for me. I eat 5 or 6 meals everyday. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and sometimes a bedtime snack if I’m still hungry. I space my meals about 2.5-3 hours apart. Eating more frequently doesn’t necessarily mean eating more. I never stuff myself at a meal, instead I spread my daily intake evenly throughout my day. This constant intake of calories keeps my blood sugar steady which means I feel energized and my metabolism is burnin’ all day long. 

2. It’s All About Balance

Each meal includes complex carbs, protein, and some healthy fat. 

3. “Sometimes” Foods

I rarely exile foods from my diet- I’ve tried this in the past and my body felt kinda funky. Instead, I have “sometimes” foods. These include high-sugar desserts, potato chips, cheese, meat, and alcohol. The only foods that are exiled from my diet aren’t really foods at all- any processed chemical-filled garbage that makes my body feel all gross and gunky inside. 

4. Fuel Your Workouts

Planning my meals around my workouts really helps me stay on track. When I eat a healthy, balanced meal before/after a workout I feel great! I feel powerful during my workouts and my body recovers better. Nutrition has a profound impact on physical performance. When I eat too much sugar, I feel AWEFUL on my runs. That terrible sluggish feeling is usually enough to deter me from unhealthy food choices on a typical day.

5. The Nut Butter Rule

I have a rule about nut butter: only 1 serving (2 tbsp) a day. Don’t get me wrong, i looooove nut butter and it’s full of filling, healthy fats. It is my deep, passionate love for nut butter that drove me to make this rule because even healthy foods should be portion controlled. Sometimes when caloric foods are labelled “healthy” we think that gives us permission to eat them with reckless abandon. I found myself dipping into the jar every time the mood struck me, every time I opened the cupboard and heard the creamy (or crunchy) goodness calling my name, every time I walked by the kitchen! This bad habit left me with several empty nut butter jars and a few extra pounds. Maybe you have a food that makes you lose all control. Soft, squishy bread? Creamy guacamole? Crispy pita chips and humus? Setting a daily maximum for these foods will keep you from overindulging AND encourage you to enjoy and savor the portion you allow yourself. And I am ALL FOR enjoying and savoring every bite 🙂

6. Intuitive Eating

Although I usually eat my planned 5-6 meals each day, sometimes plans change, opportunities arise, or my body takes a detour. If mealtime rolls around and I don’t feel hungry, then I never force-feed myself. On the other hand, if it’s only been an hour since my last meal and my stomach is gurgling, then I definitely eat! This is very applicable to my sixth meal. I’m not always hungry again after dinner, so I skip this last meal quite often (or have something small or a cup of tea). It is SO important to learn to check in with your body and listen to the signs it gives you. For instance, yesterday I ate a meal out at a restaurant. Restaurant meals usually contain a lot of sodium and this one left me feeling dehydrated and bloated. I had no appetite when it was time for my afternoon snack, so I opted for lots and lots of water and by dinnertime I felt back to normal. Listen to your body, it’ll tell you what you need!

7. A Smoothie A Day…

I try to have a smoothie every day. Whether it stands in as breakfast, post-workout fuel, or an after dinner milkshake-like treat, I try to fit it in somewhere. It provides me with a healthy dose of protein (protein powder), vitamins and antioxidants (fruit), calcium (yogurt), and greens (loads of spinach!). Smoothies make me feel healthy, vibrant, and clean. There are endless combinations, so I never get sick of ’em.

8. Eat Close to the Ground, The Less Legs, The Better!

Michael Pollan gets credit for this one. By “close to the ground” I mean natural, real, whole foods. Things that grow from the Earth. Ever heard of a Twinkie tree? I didn’t think so. The less legs, the better: one leg~ plants, two legs~ fowl, four legs~ pigs and cows. In #3 I mentioned that meat is a sometimes food for me. Americans eat waaaaaaay too much meat. WAAAAY too much. Your diet should be mostly plant-based, some lean meat, and red meat on rare occasions (no pun intended).

9. Water, Water Everywhere

Drinking plenty of water will do wonders for you, I promise. Our bodies are about 60% water! Lots of water makes your skin glow, it flushes out toxins, keeps you full, and de-bloats your belly. You should try to drink at least 8 cups of water a day, more if you’re active. I drink about 15 cups a day. When you first start out on your water regimen, you may be tempted to drive to the Walgreens in the neighboring town to discretely buy a pack of Depends, but your bladder will eventually adjust and you’ll stop peeing every 5 minutes. Sometimes I jazz up my water with citrus or cucumbers. 

10. Treat Treats Like Treats!

As I’ve said many times on this blog, I am all about savoring and enjoying every bite of food that meets your lips. Eating is supposed to be a fun, pleasurable experience, so by all means enjoy it! This is especially important for “special” foods. My special foods are desserts, special occasion foods, and indulgent restaurant meals. Homemade chocolate chip cookies, ice cream cake at birthday parties, or deep-dish pizza at Pi. I plan for and look forward to “special” foods. I view them as a special treat and I relish in every bite. If I ate these foods everyday, they would lose their luster. But since I only enjoy them on rare occasions, I give them proper attention 🙂

Well, there ya have it. Ten nutrition guidelines that I live by. For more fun nutrition rules, I highly suggest Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. It’s an easy, fun read full of cute little sayings to guide you through your meals.

 See you tomorrow morning for breakfast 🙂

White Poison

23 Jun

No, I’m not talking about cocaine, but I might as well be. I’m talking about sugar. Just like cocaine, sugar is highly addictive and wreaks havoc on the body. The only difference: cocaine is illegal and sugar is not only legal, it’s EVERYWHERE! Of course there are the typical culprits- soda, ice cream, cookies, and candy. But did you know there is added sugar in ketchup, deli meat, “reduced-calorie” salad dressings, and even some canned veggies? JWD and I were reminiscing about sugar the other day. I used to drown my fresh strawberries in white poison and he used to eat it by the spoonful straight-up! A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down? Mary Poppins, what were you thinking??

So why is sugar so bad? Well, not all sugar is bad. Sugars are actually carbohydrates. There are simple carbohydrates (fruit sugars, corn syrup, alcohol, table sugar) and complex carbohydrates (legumes, grains, vegetables). The simpler the sugar, the faster it is released into your system. This quick release causes a spike in your blood glucose which is what causes the short-lived sugar-high followed by an energy slump. If this quick energy isn’t used, then it will be stored as fat. Complex carbohydrates are released into the system more slowly, providing a steady supply of energy without blood glucose spikes. Although fruit sugars are simple sugars, they also contain some fiber and other valuable nutrients. This is what separates “good sugars” from “bad sugars”. Why is “bad sugar” so bad? First of all, it’s addicting. Most of us crave something sweet after lunch and dinner because we’ve made a habit out of dessert. I crave it when I’m stressed because it releases endorphins that make you feel good. Things that make us feel good are addicting (shopping anyone??) “Bad sugars” also don’t have any nutritional benefits. They wreak havoc on our insulin levels and other hormones. They mess with our metabolism, reduce elasticity in our skin, and have even been linked to some cancers. Sugar has even been dubbed the leading accelerator of premature aging!

So now that you recognize that sugar is like poison, how can you kick your sugar habit? Industry has answered this question with artificial sweeteners like Sweet ‘N Low, Nutrasweet, Equal, and Splenda. Although the jury is still out on most of these, my verdict is a big fat NO! They are created in a lab by chemicals and scientists. Our bodies don’t recognize these substances and don’t know how to process them. Although a “safe” limit has been established for most artificial sweeteners, they are so new that their long-term effects have yet to be established. Who knows, they could cause cancer! One short-term effect has been noted- artificial sweeteners may cause you to actually crave sugar because your body recognizes that it’s not the real thing. It’s best to play it safe and keep them out of your diet or use them in extreme moderation. Back to the question of how to kick your sugar habit. Here are some techniques I use…

How I tame my (voracious) sweet tooth

  • Chew mint gum. Yes, gum contains artificial sweeteners (Sorbitol, to be exact). I don’t chew a lot of gum, but if I have a sweet tooth after a meal, a minty piece of gum usually makes the craving disappear and occupies my mouth.
  • Drink tea or water. I’ve been drinking iced tea like it’s going out of style and I do the same with hot tea in the winter. Something about the flavorful liquid keeps my sweet tooth at bay. I also love to squeeze lemons or limes into my ice water to occupy my taste buds.

My current iced tea obsession: Tazo Passion Tea

  • When the zero-calorie options fail, I’ll pop a small piece of hard candy. I buy Yummy Earth organic hard candy from Whole Foods. They satisfy my oral fixation and keep me from wondering into the kitchen searching for something more dangerous.

The pomegranate ones are my favorite!

  • Does your tea need a little somethin’ somethin’? Is sugarless oatmeal too bland? Try Stevia! It’s a zero-calorie sweetener extracted from the Stevia plant. The carbohydrate in Stevia cannot be digested by humans, therefor it passes through the body with no effect on insulin. All you need is a teeny tiny dusting to give you a powerful dose of sweetness. I add a little dusting to my iced tea and to my morning bowl of oats.

Fighting my sugar addiction is a constant battle and sometimes a girl just needs a treat 🙂 But when I do indulge, I try to make my indulgence as healthy as possible.

Banana Pops

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 nanner halves
  • 1 T peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chip (I use dark chocolate vegan chips)
  • toppings: crushed nuts, shredded unsweetened coconut, granola (get creative!)

How To:

  • Prep: Peel 1-2 bananas and slice in half short-ways (as in, not long-ways), put toppings on plates or in bowls with a flat bottom, prepare squares of parchment paper or wax paper to wrap bananas.

Coconut and crushed walnuts:

  • melt chips and nut butter in the microwave for 45 sec., stir, then heat in 20 sec. intervals until it’s smooth and melted.

  • Take the nanners for a dip in the choco-peanut butter pool! (seriously, I can’t think of anything better than melted chocolate peanut butter goodness. Try to refrain from eating it with a spoon)

  • After you roll the nanner around in the melty goodness (use a couple spoons to roll it around), drop the banana into the topping bowls and use the same roll-around technique to coat it. Then, plop them on their parchment paper squares and wrap them up.

  • Stick ’em in the freezer for about 30 min. (if you can wait that long) until the outer coating hardens, then enjoy!

Grilled Bananas

Ingredients:

  • Nanners
  • chocolate chips
  • aluminum foil
  • grill pan or grill
  • ice cream or frozen yogurt

How To:

  • Make a slice in the bananas (peels on) long-ways to make a little nook
  • Stuff with chocolate chips
  • Wrap tightly in foil and place on grill/grill pan over medium heat

  • Grill for about 10 min., flipping halfway through, until the foil is nice and hot
  • Unwrap, unpeel, and serve over ice cream/frozen ‘gurt

Trail Mix Popcorn

Air-popped popcorn is such a great snack. It’s chock full of fiber and you can devour 3 cups for under 100 calories (sans butter and toppings) I buy organic popcorn kernels from the bulk section (super cheap!) and brown paper lunch sacks (preferably made from recycled materials) and make my own microwave popcorn!

  • Pour 3 T popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch sack
  • Fold over the opening a few times and crease it really well

  • Microwave for 2-3 min. or until popping begins to slow (mine takes 2:40) Careful, it’ll burn!
  • Dump hot popcorn into a bowl and add 1 T each of chocolate chips, almonds, and dried fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Dig in!

Frozen ‘Gurt

When I get a hankering for something cold and creamy, I usually turn to non-fat frozen yogurt. It is so delicious and satisfying and I enjoy every bite knowing I made a smart choice. Sometimes we stay in for frozen yogurt (Stonyfield Farms non-fat vanilla) and sometimes we got out…

My mix: tart, peanut butter, and blackberry. Mmmmm… tasted like a PB&J


JWD’s mix: tart with berries and peanut butter with hot fudge and cookie dough chunks

Chill is heaven a new frozen yogurt place in St. Louis. They have an ever-changing selection of self-serve ‘gurts and a self-serve toppings bar that has anything your little heart could possibly desire from fresh berries to crushed Butterfingers. My favorite flavor is Tart. It’s just plain non-fat frozen yogurt and only costs me about 110 cals for 1/2 cup. At $.40 an ounce, this is definitely one of my favorite treats.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Smoothies always taste like dessert to me and I have one everyday! The combinations are endless, but here’s my favorite mix when I’m craving a treat.

  • 1/2 banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen cherries (or any frozen berries)
  • 2 scoops of yogurt
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (optional)
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of baby spinach (yep, you read that right. I put gobs of spinach in my smoothies. You won’t taste it, I pinky promise!)

  • Blend and enjoy 🙂


Smoothie Pops

When you whip up your smoothies, make a little extra and pour it into popsicle molds and freeze. Your kiddies (or you) will be eating spinach popsicles and loving every minute of it 🙂

Bottom Line:

  • Simple sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, and other added sugars are bad news! Try to stay away from them- they cause weight gain, metabolism malfunction, and premature aging. Check ingredient labels of EVERYTHING for added sugars. A good rule of thumb- if the ingredient ends in -ose, it’s probably an added sugar (maltose, dextrose, sucrose, fructose, etc.)
  • Be careful with “natural” sweeteners. Honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, etc. should all be used in moderation because if you don’t burn the quick energy they supply, they will be stored as fat.
  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners. They’ll make you crave the real thing and nothing good can come of putting chemicals made in a lab into your body. I can just hear my body saying, “Splenda? What the hell am I supposed to do with this?”
  • The best way to kick your sugar habit is to exercise a little (or a lot of) willpower and avoid it as much as possible. Children that have never tasted added sugars are completely satisfied with a bowl of sweet fruit for dessert! Once you cut back on your sugar intake, your taste buds will adjust and sugary cereals and desserts will almost nauseate you with their sweetness.
  • It’s okay to indulge in a sweet treat now and then, but try to keep it semi-healthy and use portion control! I don’t want to take the joy out of eating, food should be delicious and fun! I just want to encourage you to indulge wisely.
  • Remember, it’s not just your sweeteners you need to choose wisely. All carbs are broken down into sugars in your body, so choose whole grains over processed white grains- whole grain pasta instead of white pasta, brown rice instead of white rice, and whole grain breads instead of white bread.

What tricks do you use to curb/satisfy sugar cravings? Anyone have any easy healthy dessert recipes? If you try any of these sweeet treats, I’d love to hear about it!

I promised to do a post about what I eat in a day, so my next series of posts are each going to highlight a meal- what I eat, how much I eat, products I use, and maybe a few recipes and workouts mixed in too. It’ll probably amount to about 5-6 posts because I eat 5-6 meals everyday! How does that sound??

Enjoy the rest of your week bloggy friends and as always, thanks for reading 🙂

Good Eats On The Road

2 Jun

Hey there friends! Whew, what a weekend. I hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as I did! Let me start from the beginning…

On Friday I left for Summer Camp, an outdoor music festival full of camping, dirt, environmentalism, beautiful music, and….. great food! Yes, you can have delicious, healthy food while traveling. It just takes a little planning 🙂

~What To Pack, How To Pack It, and What To Do With It
Whether you are on plane, train, or automobile, in a boat, ten or hotel- packing healthy snacks is a must! It’ll stop you from giving in to convenience store junk food, it’ll prevent fast food temptation, and most importantly- it’ll keep you from going hungry!! I spent most of Friday morning packing up the grocery store goodies for the trip. I try to choose things that travel well and are pretty much ready-to-eat.

Fruits and veggies are a great travel snack because they are full of water and fiber to curb between-meal hunger and they satisfy you when travel boredom hits.

Of course we packed some carbs! LOVE this bread. Seeduction from Whole Foods. It’s soft, nutty and grainy with a touch of sweetness. Companion bagels and some unpictured Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Grain Flourless Tortillas.

To pair with our fruits, veggies, and breads we packed plenty of dips and spreads. Nut butters, honey, hummus, and goat cheese.

We also packed a couple high fiber cereals, mini almond milks, and yogurt. Usually we buy yogurt in large containers because it’s cheaper so we were REALLY excited to pick out mini ‘gurts in different flavors. Strawberry, fig, honey, pomegranate, six grains strawberry, and cherry vanilla.

We also packed some unpictured munchies like potato chips, pretzels, and bars.

When traveling, I prefer individual serving sizes so they are ready to go with no labor. Tupperware and plastic baggies become your best friend for traveling foods. I washed and cut all the veggies and stored them in tupperware. I sliced the breads and put them in tupperware. The cereal went in to plastic baggies so they were easier to tote. If you are flying or going on a shorter trip, you can pre-make peanut butter sandwiches or turkey and cheese tortillas, but since we were camping for the whole weekend we brought the whole jars of spreads. In an attempt to be green, we packed reusable knives, spoons, and plastic bowls, but you could also use disposable utensils. We packed the breads, fruits, veggies, ‘gurts, and spreads in a cooler. The type of traveling will designate the type of storage you use- whether it be a large cooler like we used or a small insulated lunch box.

Here are the various meal combos we munched on…

  • veggies and hummus
  • tortilla with nut butter and banana
  • tortilla/sandwich with hummus, goat cheese, cucumbers, greens, and turkey
  • bagel/bread spread with nut butter and honey or goat cheese
  • yogurt with cereal
  • plain fruits, veggies, and bars for mid-meal snacks

Part of the fun of traveling is having NEW food experiences, so we definitely didn’t pass up any opportunities to try something different. The festival had some great food vendors that offered a variety of foods including ethnic foods, vegetarian items, and yummy homemade treats.

One night for dinner we couldn’t pass up this fresh veggie curry pita. The pita was soft and doughy and the filling was spicy and flavorful. I’m going to attempt to replicate it in my own kitchen.

We also shared a late-night snack of homemade fresh cut sweet potato fries. They were a little greasy because I’m used to baked fries, but they were still tasty. (this picture mysteriously disappeared from my camera 😦 )

Another inevitable part of eating while traveling is being faced with indulgences. Here are the 2 questions I ask myself before indulging: 1. Is it something exclusive to this traveling adventure or is it something I can get anytime? 2. Do I really want to splurge on this treat or am I only doing it because it’s in front of me and I’m “on vacation”? One of the vendors was selling homemade ice cream in several different flavors. Ice cream is something I rarely eat, let alone homemade ice cream, so it was definitely a treat for me. I asked myself my two indulgence questons and considering it was 90 degrees outside and I hadn’t had an afternoon snack, I said “Yes please!” to one scoop of homemade cookies and cream ice cream in a cake cone. I enjoyed every melty lick 🙂

I also enjoyed several other indulgences over the weekend: a few ice-cold Goose Island Summertime beers. Yummy!

~Exercising While Traveling

Exercising when you’re traveling is important, especially if you know you’ll be indulging more than usual. If you are on an active vacation (hiking, skiing, sightseeing on foot) then fitting in a litte exercise will be easy! In our case, we walked A LOT and carried A LOT of camping gear a looooong way. I actually felt kind of sore! They also offered free yoga classes twice a day at the festival 🙂 If you are away on business or visiting relatives then exercise might not be the top priority. If you are staying in a hotel, check for a fitness center or pool. You can hop on a cardio machine or swim laps when you have a little free time. No gym? Walk the hotel halls or stairs for 30 minutes. if you are flying, walk as briskly as possible through the airport, take the stairs and skip the people-movers (as long as you aren’t late for your flight!). If you are sightseeing, check for bike rentals or bike tours instead of a bus tour. If you are visiting family or friends, encourage them to join you for a walk after dinner or first thing in the morning. You can get in your daily dose of exercise AND inspire and motivate others with your healthy habits!

I’m looking forward to sharing my first RECIPE POST later this week!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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