Friday, December 1, 2006

Nutritious Eggnog Recipe

With the holiday season comes traditions, family gatherings, and of course, lots of eating and drinking. It’s no wonder that we tend to put on weight during the holidays. Though rich foods like sweet potato casserole and stuffing pack on the calories, we oftentimes forget that our beverages may be sabotaging our weight management efforts as well. One such figure predator is eggnog. Though this creamy beverage is delicious and comforting, one cup can add an additional 350 calories, and who can stop at one? This holiday season let’s make eggnog a friend, not a foe, and trim down the calories.

Serves 6.

5 cups skim milk
8 oz evaporated skim milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
1 cup egg substitute
Sweetener to taste*
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rum extract
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon

  1. In a saucepan, gently heat the skim milk, evaporated milk, egg substitute and sweetener over a low flame, stirring regularly until the mixture has thickened.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat. Add in the vanilla, rum, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
  4. Pour into 6 cups and sprinkle on additional nutmeg and cinnamon.

Calories: ~130 (You save 220 calories)!

*If you prefer real sugar to artificial sweetener, measure carefully how much sugar you are adding. Each additional teaspoon of sugar adds 15 calories.

Not much of a cook? Try a ready-prepared light eggnog. Vitasoy’s Holly Nog is just 120 calories and Silk Nog is 180 calories per cup.

Tis the Season to Gain Weight?

A study published in 2000 in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that there is indeed weight gain during the six weeks that include Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Nearly 200 subjects were followed for three periods: preholiday (from late September to mid-November), holiday (mid-November to early January), and postholiday (from mid-January to early March). The researchers found that there was a significant increase in weight during the holiday period of about one pound. Though this amount of weight gain is less than what is commonly suspected, it is interesting to note that of the individuals who were overweight or obese, 14% gained more than 5 pounds during this period. In addition, among all the participants, weight gain during the six week holiday season explained over half of annual weight gain. Therefore, it seems that holiday weight gain may in fact be an important contributor to overall weight gain and to the rising prevalence of obesity.

During this holiday season, keep our top ten list in mind, and avoid the extra holiday pounds.

Eating Healthy for the Holidays

Holiday time can be difficult, with lots of temptations and calorie-laden feasts. Between the holiday sweets lying around the office, preparing the holiday meals, and then attending the holiday parties and dinners, it seems almost impossible to avoid putting on holiday weight. But, just because you’re trying to eat healthfully, doesn’t mean that you need to avoid the festivities or accept the extra pounds. With a little planning, it is possible to maintain your weight during the holiday season.

  1. Watch your portions! Divide your plate in half. Fill one half with vegetables. Divide the remaining half of your plate in half again. Fill one part with protein and the remaining part with the starch at the meal.
  2. Prioritize. Holiday meals usually have lots of foods that you will find appealing. But are there foods that specifically define the holiday for you, i.e., candied yams or honey glazed ham? Pass on the usual calorically expensive fare like chips and dip, and opt for the holiday specific food as your treat at the meal.
  3. Avoid skipping meals. Though we are sometimes tempted to “save calories”, this tactic can lead to overeating. In fact, it may even be helpful to eat something healthy before you head out to a meal, such as yogurt or a small meal replacement bar, in order to curb your appetite when high-calorie foods are abundant.
  4. Dessert is not a meal. It is a supplement to the end of a balanced meal. Try to choose the fruit or sorbet option. If that dense chocolate cake is calling your name, take a small piece, but then stop. It is ok to treat yourself (as long as it is in moderation), and there is no point in feeling guilty when you are eating something you love. Just remind yourself that there will be even more holiday eating.
  5. Increase exercise. Since you will be eating more during the holidays, increase your physical activity. Go out for a stroll after a big meal, or hit up an exercise class the morning before a holiday dinner.
  6. Watch what you’re drinking. Don’t waste your calories on beverages. Avoid sodas and juices, and beware of alcohol. Alcohol not only contains empty calories, but it can also further stimulate the appetite. A good festive alternative is some sparkling water with a lemon twist – sparkling water has zero calories.
  7. Make healthy choices. Try to choose the steamed or roasted vegetables over the green bean casserole. Choose a baked potato or rice over stuffing.
  8. Conversation is calorie free! Talk to the people around you and slow down while you’re eating. If the holiday party is buffet style, don’t rush straight for the food table. Greet your friends and family, and settle in before even looking at the food. Remember, these meals tend to be long. Rather than inhaling your food and then going back for more, try to make your plate last the whole meal.
  9. Be a host(ess) with the most(ess). If you’re making the meal, provide some healthy alternatives like baked sweet potatoes, instead of candied yams. At the start of the meal pass the food around once and then place the serving dishes on a side table. This way, you will be less likely to mindlessly take more food during the meal. And don’t forget, you can send home leftovers with your guests. (If you are not the host, but the dinner is pot-luck, bring a healthy dish that you know you can eat, like a big salad or a raw veggie platter with a yogurt or cottage cheese based dip).
  10. Maintain. Thanksgiving through New Years is a very difficult time when it comes to eating. Don’t expect to lose weight during this time period or you may be in for disappointment. Rather, focus your efforts on maintaining your weight during the holidays, and on enjoying your time with your friends and family.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Preparing for the Holiday Meal

It’s important to prepare yourself for the upcoming Thanksgiving meal when the national norm is overeating to the point of discomfort. Maybe in prior years you tried skipping breakfast and lunch, and then found yourself gorging on seconds and thirds when the stuffing was passed. When sitting down to a holiday meal, ask yourself what you really want. Try to distinguish between the foods you think you want and the foods you really do want. For example, the mashed potatoes may look good, but Aunt Betty brought them and sometimes she cooks ‘from a box’…so they might not be that satisfying. And the rolls…you can get these rolls at the bakery any day, but Aunt Linda’s corn pudding is a once a year specialty.

Think about how you will feel after the meal. Do you want to feel your stomach in your throat and have to loosen your belt? Or, would you like to feel full but not ‘bursting’? Before you eat is a perfect time to focus on how you want to feel when the meal is done.

When filling your plate with the bountiful spread, visualize your plate in thirds. Divide your foods into categories of protein, carbohydrate, and vegetable, and fill your plate in those proportions. For example, turkey is a protein, braised brussel sprouts would be the vegetable, and carrot soufflé or sweet potato would be the carbohydrate. Life is full of choices, and this meal is just another one. Choose the carrot soufflé or the sweet potatoes, or a half portion of each.

Slow it down. Put your fork down between bites, engage in conversation, and chew your food. During the time between dinner and dessert, why not suggest a family walk around the park? Take a half hour to go outside stretch your limbs. When dessert comes, check in with yourself to see how full you already are. Try filling your plate with fruit salad and including one special treat. It’s less about depriving yourself, and more about focusing on how much you really need. This is a holiday about being thankful. Be thankful that you can get up from your chair without feeling stuffed and uncomfortable, and that you have learned healthful ways of treating your body.

Get Rid of the Excess Food

This eating season from Halloween through to New Years can generate a lot of excess food. From leftover candy to leftover turkey and trimmings to leftover holiday cookies and pie, leftovers are sometimes hard to part with. If you are one of the many who can’t bear to throw out good ‘leftover’ food, don’t fret. Tossing the jello salad into the trash does not directly help feed the hungry, nor does ‘finishing it up’ or ‘getting rid of it’ by eating it. If the only way you know how to get rid of leftovers is by eating them….here are some options that will help keep the pounds off.

First of all, pace yourself. Finishing the pie in one day to ‘get rid of it’ isn’t a great strategy. If you love it, have a small piece a few times during the week, while making sure to eat your normal healthy diet throughout the day. It’s possible to incorporate holiday foods into a healthy diet. Slice turkey to top a big green salad, have a portion of stuffing as your starch at dinner. Have a high fiber cereal and fruit for breakfast and save a sliver of pumpkin pie for a snack.

If you don’t want to eat it, do what everyone else does…bring it to the office! Co-workers will be delighted to partake of your leftover corn pudding. If you really don’t want the temptation of leftovers for weeks on end…do you guests a flavorful favor. Since this is the season of giving, gift your guests with dinner for two. If guests are at your home, they won’t have leftovers. So share the wealth. Go to your local Chinese restaurant and purchase some take-out containers. During the holiday festivities, have the children decorate the boxes with stickers, markers, and ribbons. When the meal is over, hand each guest a box for them to fill with leftovers. It’s a great way to teach kids about giving and moderation. Your guests will be delighted at the thought, and you will have put your leftovers to good use.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Alternative to Passing out Candy on Halloween

Every Halloween we think about healthy treats to dole out, but raisins don’t always appeal to kids, and which Princess or Pirate is going to eat an apple over a chocolate bar? Here are some kid approved healthy treats that you can feel good about giving. Did you know that kids will snatch up school supplies? Try giving out glittery pencils or sports team pens, fun erasers, or stickers. As long as you don’t eat them, there are no calories in a box of crayons, colored markers, or sidewalk chalk. Take a trip to your local dollar store for a cornucopia of little goodies, jacks, superballs, decks of cards, rubber spiders, toys, books, and art supplies. Who said Halloween had to be about junk food

Sunday, October 1, 2006

How far would you go for a Snicker's Bar?

How far would you go for a Snicker’s bar? How about 2.78 miles? That’s how long it would take an average adult to walk off the calories in one full sized candy bar. How about a King Size Milky Way? Get on your walking shoes, leave our front doors, go south to City Hall Park. Throw in one Hershey’s kiss and that will take you to Battery Park. That’s a long haul for a bit of chocolate. Thinking about bite sized candy? The miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups will cost you 1/3 mile for each one. Grabbing a handful of Hershey’s kisses from the bowl? Try a ¼ mile for each kiss and lace up!

Tip: Before unwrapping that Halloween treat, put your running shoes on first, and then see if you still want it.

Comfort Foods & Nutrition

Cooler weather certainly stirs the craving for warmer foods. And isn’t it funny that warmer foods conjure up steaming mashed potatoes, cheesy macaroni, and not necessarily a bowl of steamed carrots? Well if your cravings for comfort foods star the good old carbohydrate, here are some foods you that will satisfy your craving and still keep you comfortable in your clothes.

Mashed potatoes were a staple in my house growing up. Here’s a recipe I devised so that I could still enjoy that creamy taste, without overdoing the carbs. Cut one head of cauliflower into small chunks. Boil the cauliflower with one clove of garlic and a pinch of salt. Drain it in a colander, and put in a food processor. Blend with ½ cup light mayo or ½ cup 2% Total Greek Yogurt. Add pepper and serve. You can also blend the cauliflower with low fat milk, olive oil, or a mix of any of the above.

Comfort foods don’t have to be full of refined carbohydrate and fat. Think about the warm flavors of baked beans, veggie chili, chicken noodle soup, or spaghetti and meat balls. Spaghetti and meat balls? Sure! Try whole wheat pasta, Trader Joe’s frozen turkey meat balls, and a sugar free tomato sauce like Muir Glen’s Organic Chunky Tomato Sauce. Recipe makeovers like this are easy to do. Hankering for Mom’s chicken noodle soup? Combine a box of Imagine’s Free Range Chicken Broth, some leftover chicken, a can of red beans for extra fiber, a package of frozen broccoli for added vitamins, and try out Shirataki noodles by House Foods. Shirataki means ‘tofu shaped noodles’, and these noodles are low in calories, fat, and very low in carbohydrate as they are made from tofu. Perfect for wheat free diets. Found in Whole Foods, a ½ cup is 3 grams of carbohydrate and only 20 calories. Wow, that’s a comforting thought!

Here’s a sampling of some other good food choices for the season. If you look up macaroni and cheese in the dictionary, I’m sure the definition is “comfort food”. As we know, it’s not necessarily the food, but the portion that turns a food into an ‘unhealthy’ choice. Annie’s Mac &Cheese in microwavable single serving pouches supports a healthy portion size and has only 40 calories of fat for each 240 calorie serving. Now, if you make Annie’s Mac & Cheese in the box…you’ll have to remember the box makes 3 servings. A box of Kraft Mac & Cheese also serves three, yet one serving runs 380 calories and 140 of those from fat. (Not to mention the added artificial colorings).

If a bowl of creamy, steamy soup is your comfort, there are many products on the market that are low in fat and sodium than the average cream of mushroom in a can. Amy’s Light in Sodium Soups are a treat new to the market. With organic varieties including cream of tomato, butternut squash, lentil vegetable, and split pea, they will warm you from head to toe. One serving of Amy’s Light Cream of Tomato is only 100 calories and 340 mgs of sodium, with 2 grams of fat. For comparison sake, Campbell’s Creamy Tomato Ranchero packs a serving with 130 calories and 800 mgs of sodium, not to mention 6 grams of fat. Remember to read labels, pay attention to portion sizes, and to find comfort in places other than the refrigerator!

Friday, September 1, 2006

Making The Most of Lunch

Brown bagging it is not just for school kids anymore. Even if you are heading to the office, you’ll certainly eat better if you pack it yourself. Right? For adults and kids alike, making an interesting, appetizing, and nutritious quick lunch can be a snap.
How can you make a lunchbox kid- appealing, parent- approved, and adult acceptable? Here are five tips to help you or your child get a nutritious lunch that is yummy, exciting, and easy to make.

  1. Pack a pallet of colors. Include colorful foods for eye appeal. A colorful meal indicates an abundance of vitamins (green jello doesn’t count). Try sweet red pepper slices, bright orange steamed yams and carrots, green broccoli trees and dark lettuce leaves, yellow apples, purple grapes and on and on.
  2. Variety is the spice of life. Pack a variety of foods. Most people don’t have trouble with the starch and fat part of lunch. Remembering the fruits and vegetables turns a boring turkey on bread into a snazzy fiber packed turkey, avocado, sprouts, and red onion eye appealing meal.Try choosing at least one food from each category of Fruit, Vegetable, Whole Grain, and Protein. Include non meat sources of protein like beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, organic eggs and cheese. Varying your choices will make lunch more interesting.
  3. Plan Ahead. 7:02 am Monday morning is not the best time for culinary inspiration, and often that means pb&j for the kids or pizza on the go for you. The time and stress saved by planning will really make a difference. Make a weekly lunch plan, like a school lunch calendar, and have your child help in the decision process. Make lists of lunch choices in the food categories listed above, and have your child choose what to eat on each day. Compromise. You pick the grain, she picks the fruit. Maybe you pick 3 lunches and he picks 2. Make an agreement with your child that the lunch gets tasted or eaten, and not traded or trashed. Having your child help make his lunch will teach them about good nutrition and simple cooking skills that will be valuable for a lifetime.
  4. Be creative. If you or your child hates apples, oranges, and bananas, try some kiwi, berries, or Asian pears. Make fruit easy to eat- peel a tangerine. Pack sliced pineapple and cantaloupe with toothpicks for easy eating. Save up some small yogurt size plastic containers and fill one with sweet pepper hummus and pack colorful and crunchy veggies for dipping. Include hand eaten foods for youngsters. Eating with our hands is fun. Make it a wrap! Fill a tortilla with veggies or beans, rice, leftover salad and salsa, and roll it up. Expand your lunch options and buy an insulated lunch box or thermos to keep foods hot or cold.
  5. Drinks. Try to focus on water. Kids get enough sodas and sugar drinks without adults giving it to them directly. And for adults, who needs those extra “empty” calories that soda provides? Beverages such as dairy, soy and rice milks can be nutritious too. Try herbal iced teas and flavored waters for variety.

A few other helpful suggestions...

Wraps are a quick and ideal way to transform a boring sandwich into a veggie packed hand held epicurean delight. Wraps can be high calorie traps, so reading labels and choosing specific brands at home can make a big difference. La Tortilla Factory has debuted a line of heart healthy, low carb, whole wheat, and organic wraps in delicious flavors such as rosemary olive oil and basil. These wraps, unlike others that deliver a whopping 330 calories, range from 50-100 calories for a single wrap. Sounds like a winner for tomorrow’s lunch. You can pick them up at Westerly Health Foods or Good and Plenty To Go in Manhattan.

Lunch Box Treats: Give an old favorite new life- spread peanut butter between two apple slices. Add raisins for fun. Freeze some grapes, and watch them turn into wonderful tiny ice-pop treats. Scoop some granola into a baggie, add a small handful of chocolate chips. Drop in a heavenly Lara or Nectar snack bar. Ingredients? Nuts, fruit, spices and nothing else!

Don’t Forget Breakfast!

We know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but did you know that what our kids eat for breakfast can have an effect on school performance? Research shows that having eggs for breakfast can enhance memory function. Choline, rich in eggs and nuts, is a nutrient important in memory cell production during childhood. So, scramble up an egg or hard boil one for the road, even if breakfast has to be quick, it can still be nutritious.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Weight Loss Strategy: Use Small Utensils

Did you know that using a smaller size plate and smaller serving utensils can be a good weight loss strategy? Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign evaluated the portions of diners at an ice cream social when their party bowls and serving spoons were downsized. When using larger serving utensils, people ate about 15% more. In addition, when that large ice cream scoop was paired with a big bowl, they ate about 57% more. So, when dishing out the dessert, downsize the bowls and serving utensils. It will look like you are eating a lot more than you are.

Water, water, everywhere, but that’s not what I want to drink!

Did you know an 8 oz pina colada on a hot summer night will set you back about 500 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat? Remember too, that liquids do not help us to feel full and satisfied. Drinking high calorie libations will not curb your appetite at meal times, so when the thirst hits, here’s what to do. What will you drink this weekend?

Serving Size Calories Survery Says... Serving Size Calories Survey Says...
Pina Colada 8oz 500 + 5 grams of saturated fat Try again White Wine 8oz 160 + 0 grams of fat Good choice
Regular Beer 12oz can 146 Not so bad but... Lite Beer 12oz can 99 Better
Wine Cooler 12oz 125 That's the equivalent of one regular hot dog Wine Spritzer 12oz 120 Enjoy
Soda 12 oz 155 13 teaspoons sugar Flavored Seltzer Any size 0 Why not
Cranberry Juice 8oz 116 31 grams of pure carbs Cranberry Spritzer in Sparkling water 8oz 15 Bingo!

BBQ Make Over

If anticipation of the next family BBQ leaves you feeling hot under the collar, no sweat. A BBQ doesn’t have to dish out the calories and fat. Here’s how to make your next summer soirée a bit on the lighter side.

BBQ’s invariably mean hot dogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, fresh corn on the cob, potato salad, and an array of cookies, brownies, and ice cream. Sound good? Well, with a little recipe magic you can whip up a lower fat, higher fiber BBQ that is satisfying, delicious, and healthy.

The first place to start is the grocery store. There is a big nutritional difference between a regular hot dog and a lower fat, lower salt version. Ball Park Fat Free Franks and Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Franks are two brands that have taken out the fat, lowered the sodium, and still make you feel like you’re standing at home plate. By making a hot dog switch, you can spare yourself about 130 calories and 16 grams of fat per dog! Of course, you can always throw a few veggie dogs on the grill for your vegetarian niece. Tasty and cholesterol free, Yves Veggie Cuisine Fat-Free wieners are big hit with the teens.

Same advice goes for hamburgers. Buy lean ground beef or turkey, and load up on the fixings. By adding a pile of lettuce, tomato, and some grilled red onions, you add a bit fiber to help fill you up faster. You can also try a veggie burger for variety. The Morningstar line of faux meats is a sure home run.

Besides buying whole wheat buns, serving iced tea instead of sugar-laden soda, and upgrading your trans fat greasy finger potato chips to an olive oil crusted sweet potato chip, you can trim your menu by slimming down your sides. Try a French style potato salad marinated with white wine, mustard, tarragon, and olive oil, or a Greek potato salad dressed in a low fat yogurt sauce with dill and mint. Both will save you the cholesterol and saturated fat of traditional egg and mayonnaise dressing.

Coleslaw can be a colorful, low saturated fat and fiber packed addition to any meal. Keep the coleslaw honest by dressing it with rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, ginger, and a touch of sweetener. The Asian flavor will wow your guests with its authenticity.

Baked beans are good… but a chick pea salad with fresh parsley, lemon juice, and garlic is better. Baked beans can be loaded with added sugar. Keeping beans on the menu means more fiber and a low fat source of protein. A colorful black beans salad with red pepper, corn, and cilantro will perk up any party table and keep you slim in your swimsuit.

What about dessert? Fresh fruit is a staple during summer months. Topping it with homemade whipped cream can be a delightful and healthier alternative to brownie a la mode. Focusing on fruit based desserts ensures a bit of nutrition even in dessert. Watch out for pre-made pie crusts filled with trans fats. Whole Foods sells a trans free frozen pie crust that saves the time of making it from scratch.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Finding Nutrition at The Grocery Store: A Guided Tour

Here it is…some of our favorite items for your next grocery list. The sacred list revealed just for you.

The Breakfast Bundle:

  • Kashi GoLean Cereal – You’ve heard us boasting about this cereal again and again. You can’t get much better than 10 grams of fiber, 13g of protein and a mere 6g of sugar all for just 140 calories per cup. Toss in a few blueberries or strawberries, some skim milk, and you’ve got a champion breakfast that’s kind to your waistline and cholesterol. It’ll keep you satiated and energized throughout the morning. Skip over GoLean’s “Crunch” counterpart and save your sugar for a fresh piece of fruit instead! If you need to go easy on your digestive system, check the shelves for Kashi’s Heart to Heart cereal. Still low in sugar and calories it’s another healthful start to your morning.
  • McCanns Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal -- Oatmeal’s an excellent, nutrient-rich jumpstart to your morning. Steel cut oats in particular rise above the rest in whole grain content, containing more fiber, iron and B vitamins than standard types of rolled oats. With this hot cereal, a little goes a long way. Though the portion size is just ¼ cup of uncooked oats, the end product is a hearty bowl of steaming oatmeal – a great breakfast to fuel you first thing in the morning or as an energizing snack before hitting the gym or anytime.
  • Fage Total Greek Yogurt (0% or 2%) – So many of you can’t seem to stop raving about Fage yogurt, we just had to include it in our ‘best of’ list. Packed with 7 more grams of protein than most other plain low-fat yogurts, this container of Greek goodness is low in sugar and touts a deliciously creamy consistency. Pair with fresh fruit or a sprinkling of high-fiber cereal and you’ve got a calcium-rich, low-calorie breakfast or sprinkle with cinnamon for a satisfying snack. Stonyfield Farms Organic Low-fat Plain Yogurt and Horizon Organic Non-fat Plain Yogurt are also great choices.

Lovin’ the Lunch Crowd:

  • La Tortilla Wraps – A world of exciting lite lunch options awaits you with La Tortilla wraps. Why are these particular tortillas so darn special? With a mere 50 calories, 8 grams of dietary fiber and 2 grams of fat, you can’t beat the nutrition facts on this label. Most other wrap brands average between 130-250 calories and usually skimp on the fiber content (fiber is digested more slowly and helps us maintain satiety much longer). Choose from a variety of flavors and spice up lunchtime. Get creative with healthful ingredients such as grilled chicken strips, turkey slices, lite tuna salad, a rainbow of veggies, low-fat cheese, avocado slices and much more!
  • Applegate Farms Turkey Slices – No nitrates (chemical preservatives) or antibiotics, low in sodium and very versatile…we’re big fans of this brand name for deli meats. Great for sandwiches, wraps, to toss into salads or even just as a quick, filling snack on their own, test out these turkey slices, we’ll think you’ll be quite pleased.

Snack Attack (Go ahead, you’ve got the tools to handle it!):

  • Low-fat Laughing Cow Cheese – We’re bringing you back to your childhood with these fun circles of red-cased cheese. Low-fat Laughing Cow circles or wedges are super-easy to toss in your work/travel bag when you’re on-the-go or to keep on-hand in your fridge. Just 35 calories a pop and a good source of calcium, 1 or 2 pieces serve as great snacks alone or with high-fiber crackers or apple slices.
  • Glenny’s Soy Crisps – If you craving that ‘chippy’ crunch, we’ve got just the answer. Soy chips pack in crunch, flavor and a nice dose of protein to fill you up without all the extra-calories or hydrogenated fats found in many other chips. Reach for the 1.3oz – with 140 calories and 10 grams of soy protein per bag.
  • Lara Bars – A wholesome, all-natural snack, Lara Bars are made with organic fruits and nuts making them great sources of vitamin E, healthy omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, and fiber not to mention antioxidants and an array of other vitamins and minerals. Be mindful that these bars are slightly higher in calories and healthful fats -- excellent to keep around for when you get caught in a bind and hunger hits! They’re also great go-to items for travel, long runs or hikes, or simply running errands all weekend!
  • Gnu Bars – Relatively new to the market, Flavor & Fiber bars by Gnu Foods provide a powerful punch of fiber along with complex carbohydrates that will rev you up around the inevitable 4pm slump. At 130 calories, these are great organic option for an afternoon or pre-workout snack or a quick breakfast on-the-run. Bonus points, the kids will love ‘em too!

DeLITEful Dinners:

  • Amy’s Kitchen Organic Bowls – Can’t bear to think about making dinner after a long day? Skip the high-calorie Chinese take-out and reach into the freezer for an easy, flavorful meal by Amy’s Organics. Don’t fear, you can still go ethnic – high on flavor and healthful ingredients. Amy’s has a great line of vegetarian entrees that convey realistic portion sizes to the tee (amazing what a normal portion looks like isn’t it!). Our favorites happen to be loaded with veggies and protein. In particular, we love the Tofu Vegetable Lasagna, Low-Sodium Brown Rice, Vegetables & Tofu Bowl, Indian Palak Paneer, Indian Mattar Tofu, and Low-Sodium Black Bean Vegetable Enchiladas to name a few!
  • Shirataki Noodles – For all you pasta lovers out there, this favorite pick is for you! Shirataki noodles are a fabulous substitute for pasta or rice in a variety of dishes. Made from tofu, Shirataki noodles go well with any dish or flavoring, Italian, Asian, you name it. And yes, at 40 calories for the entire 8oz serving, you can have the whole bag!

Tasty Treats:

  • Stonyfield Farms Squeezers – Pop these organic yogurt tubes in the freezer for a fun, creamy evening treat for a skinny 60 calories and get a boost of your daily calcium need at the same time!
  • Tofutti Fudge Pop Treats – We’re big chocolate fans, and we know many of you are too! Yes, chocolate, in moderation, can fit into a healthful diet. Satisfying that craving with Tofutti Fudge Pops – rich flavor for only 30 calories!

Movie Theatre Munchies:

  • Smart Pop Mini Bags – Heading to the movie theatres is always a fun activity until you hit the snack bar…watch out for a high-calorie disaster zone! Bypass the movie popcorn, a small with butter is a whopping 580 calories and 47 grams of fat! Instead, bring your own – Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop Mini Bags are a tasty, healthful choice at 110 calories and 2 grams of fat per bag. What a difference, munch away! We also love Good Health Half Naked Popcorn with Olive Oil (but be sure to stick to the 4 cup portion size!)
  • Essence Water (by Glaceau)– Need something cold to go with your popcorn? Essence Water brings a little excitement to your good ol’ H20. Naturally flavored and zero calories, pick your favorite fruited flavor to sip on. Great for when you’re watching the big screen or anytime.

Nutrition Properties of Mint

It’s 3pm, you’re stuck behind your computer at work daydreaming away about the gorgeous warm weather outside. If this situation sounds all too familiar you might want to reach for a cup of mint tea, a breath mint or gum, or some minty-fresh hand lotion to perk you back up. Studies show that the aroma and flavor of mint can enhance motivation, concentration, stimulate our central nervous system and decrease fatigue. When the weather gets warmer, try a glass of unsweetened mint iced-tea or toss some chopped fresh mint leaves into salads or yogurt sauces for grilled meat and chicken. Mint’s also a deliciously refreshing way to end a perfect summertime meal, try it sprinkled over fresh fruit.

Minted Summer Fruit Salad
Serves 8
2 mangoes, cubed
3 kiwis, cubed
2 nectarines, cubed
1 medium, cantaloupe, cubed (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped + a few fresh mint sprigs for garnish
2 Tablespoons honey

Mix chopped mint with honey in a small bowl. Assemble diced fruit in large serving bowl, drizzle mint-honey mixture over fruit, toss and serve. Can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead of time and chilled.

Nutrition Facts: 110 calories, 0g fat, 26g carbohydrate, 3g fiber.

Hoodia Know?

We know many of you have been inquiring about Hoodia, a natural appetite suppressant that has recently received quite a bit of media exposure. We’ve broken down all the research and the claims to answer your questions.

What is it? Hoodia Gordonii is a natural appetite suppressant that originates from cactus plants grown in Africa’s Kalahari desert. Tribal bushmen in Africa have used hoodia for thousands of years to stave off hunger during long-hunting trips.

How does work? Hoodia sends signals to the brain that indicate a sense of fullness, similarly to what occurs when we eat a meal and our blood sugar levels rise, but no food has actually been consumed. The claims state that hoodia wipes out any thought of food or hunger pangs. Hoodia also kills signs of thirst, which can lead to dehydration and potential health risks.

Is it safe? To date, there are no long-term studies to show the safety and effectiveness of hoodia. Diabetics should not use the supplement as it has a clear effect on blood sugar levels. Individuals with diabetes need to ensure they maintain steady blood sugar levels through a healthful, balanced diet and good sources of complex carbohydrates.

The bottom line: Choosing hoodia or weight-loss supplements over wholesome foods can deprive your body of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive and prevent disease. A healthy diet and exercise is always the optimal choice for weight loss, well-being and disease prevention.

Diet Tips to Look Your Summertime Best

Ready or not, it’s time to shed those layers of clothing. Play smart and prep ahead of time for upcoming events so you look and feel your ‘summer best.’

  • Break a Sweat – There’s no better time to intensify your exercise routine. Diet, exercise and adequate sleep are the integral pieces to the slim down/tone up puzzle. Warm weather is a great motivation to get moving and mix it up. Give your body and metabolism a nice jumpstart, try incorporating various workouts into your weekly schedule -- a scenic run through Central Park or a cycling class, some light to moderate strength training for toning, maybe a yoga or pilates class or two and you’re set! Choose a type of exercise you truly enjoy and success is a sure thing.
  • Fill Up on Fresh Fruits & Vegetables – Spring and summer bring endless delicious fresh fruits and vegetables to your table. Hit the farmers’ market or your local grocery store and stock up on seasonal produce. Color your plate with greens, asparagus, artichokes, red peppers, berries, peaches, plums, melon, snap peas, tomatoes, basil, summer squash and an array of other fresh picks. Keep cut veggies in your fridge directly at eye level when you open the door – they’re great for a quick munch or to pair with a lite yogurt dip or ¼ cup of hummus for a healthy snack. Aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day! (1 serving of raw vegetables = 1 cup • 1 serving of cooked vegetables = ½ cup • 1 serving of fruit = 1 piece or 1 cup fruit salad/berries)
  • Water…and More Water! – Staying hydrated in the heat is a key component to replenishing your body’s needs and keeping a slim, fit figure by promoting healthy metabolism and digestion. We often misread signs of ‘hunger’ when in actuality, we’re thirsty! Quench your thirst before you get dehydrated by keeping a bottle of water with you at all times. Our bodies adapt to warm weather by perspiring more efficiently, meaning we need pay that much more attention on maintaining hydration levels. Guzzle 2 or 3 – 24oz sport bottles or 2 liters a day and that unwanted ‘beach bloat’ will be history in no time! Tired of plain ol’ water? Spruce it up with a slice or two of lemon or lime or try unsweetened iced herbal or green tea. (If you’re on the go, try Starbuck’s Passion or Green Iced Teas with a little Lemonade for a fun treat – just ask for it unsweetened to keep the calories and sugar to a minimum!)
  • Beat the Bloat – Feeling a bit bloated is never welcomed, particularly when we’re dawning summer clothing and beachwear. A few quick tips to slenderize your stomach – skip things that increase your consumption of extra air such as carbonated drinks (diet sodas, seltzers etc), gum, and drinking through a straw. Limit your consumption of salty, sodium-rich foods such as canned soups and vegetables, frozen dinners, cold cuts, processed snacks – remember the daily recommended intake of sodium is 1,500 milligrams with a maximum upper limit of 2,300 milligrams. Try a quick trick and check food labels to ensure you’re staying below your sodium goal – just one cup of canned soup can have upwards of 800-900 milligrams of sodium! Also, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to decrease sodium and water retention and to keep your digestion going strong! Finally, if you’ve got a sensitive stomach, watch out for artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame etc) in beverages, gum and foods – they may act as diuretics and can cause a bloating effect.
    Do reach for citrus as well as fruits and vegetables with high water content like watermelon and cucumber which help encourage water loss, again helping to bring down bloating.
  • Think Lite & Turn on the Grill – Summer is the perfect time to lighten up at meal and snack times. Winter’s hearty comfort foods are a thing of the past. Indulge yourself in healthy, satisfying dishes packed with vitamins, minerals and flavor that happen to be on the lighter side. Grilling is an incredibly healthy, easy cooking method that allows you to whittle down the fat and boost aroma and flavor. Get creative and grill up your favorites -- chicken breasts, fish, seafood, vegetables, or even some fresh pineapple or peach slices for a new, lite twist on dessert! A little olive oil, fresh lemon or citrus, herbs and spices are excellent ways to enhance grilled foods and bring dishes to life healthfully!
  • Homerun Snacks at Baseball Games – Summertime is synonymous with an exciting baseball game. If you’re worried about what to eat when you head into that extra inning, think again! Surprisingly, you can find some great choices at the ballpark. For a nutritious, satisfying snack, look to the guy selling roasted peanuts. Share the bag with others, though peanuts are loaded with healthy fat, they are high in calories. Aim for a serving, about 28 peanuts (165 calories). If you’re not a nut lover, many stadium concession stands now carry veggie dogs and veggie burgers, an excellent choice without the saturated fat of a regular burger. If nothing else, come prepared…pack a turkey sandwich on whole wheat or some fresh fruit or veggies to snack on. Moderate your beer consumption, enticing as they are. Sip on one or two lite beers and keep water by your side over the course of the big game.
  • On Top of Your Diet & Your Golf Game – Play a round of 18 holes can certainly stir up a hearty appetite. Pack some healthy snacks like fresh cut fruits and vegetables or high fiber crackers and low-fat cheese to bring in the golf cart. Read your hunger cues to keep your metabolism, energy levels, and your golf swing going strong. Allowing yourself to go too long, over 4-5 hours, without any food can set you up for over doing it at your next meal.
  • Handling Happy Hour – Who doesn’t love finishing out a long workday with a cocktail or two, especially when the weather’s warm. But when happy hour invites start piling up, so can the alcohol calories. Drink in moderation, one or two lite beer, glasses of wine or liquor drinks. Switch to club soda or seltzer as a no-calorie mixer instead of sugary tonic water, soda and cranberry juice. Stay hydrated by sipping on a glass of water in between drinks. You can always surpass alcohol altogether and hold onto a glass of refreshing club soda and lime. Let yourself get engrossed in a great conversation with a colleague or friend, remember you’re there to socialize and enjoy the company of others, not just the drinks.
  • Stay Focused on Your Goal -- Our most important tip on this list, stay motivated and focused on your ultimate goal! Reward your hard work every now and again, treat yourself to something just for you that’s not food related…a massage, a manicure, a new CD – you pick! Eat healthfully, stay active and restore energy levels with sound sleep and an incredible summer is around the corner.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Grapefruits Lower Cholesterol

A recent research study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that grapefruit, particularly the sweet ruby red variety, has protective benefits against triglyceride levels. Participants in the study all had formerly been on cholesterol-lowering medication and found the treatment ineffective. Instead of continuing their medication, participants consumed 1 grapefruit per day and saw a significantly positive outcome. Ruby red grapefruit helped decrease blood triglyceride levels by 17%, LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels by 20% and total cholesterol levels by 15.5%. In addition, researchers found ruby red grapefruit to have higher amounts of antioxidants than blond/yellow grapefruit. The vibrant ruby red poses benefit to anyone seeking to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and prevent disease risk. Half a grapefruit is a serving -- a terrific choice by itself, in a salad or as a flavorful topping for chicken or fish.

A note of medical precaution: If you are currently taking cholesterol medication, the ‘statin’ family of drugs including Zocor and Lipitor, do not cease treatment without consulting your physician. Do not consume grapefruit if you are taking a ‘statin’ medication as the two interact and may pose serious health risks.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Improve Your Memory With Salmon

A recent study published in the December 2005 issue of the Archives of Neurology, reports that fish can improve cognitive function later in life. In following nearly 3,718 individuals ages 65 and older for a period of six years, researchers found that participants who ate fish once a week slowed the decline of mental function by 10% while those who consumed fish twice a week or more reduced the decline by 13%, correlating to 4 years in mental age. Lead researchers hoped to determine whether ‘healthy’ omega-3 fatty acids played a significant role in slowing cognitive decline. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are crucial in brain development early in life and have also been found to lower the risk heart disease, Alzheimers and stroke. Though the study found no distinct association between fish rich in omega-3s and cognitive function, researchers intend to continue to examine the potential correlation. The protective qualities of fish could stem from omega-3s or simply from fish’s healthy nutrient profile, which is extremely low in saturated fat.

So what’s the take-home message? Stock up on fish on your trip to the grocery store and do something good for your health. Incorporate fish at least 1-2 times per week into your diet. Try fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, tuna and halibut as well as low-fat, high-protein ‘white’ fish like cod, tilapia, and monkfish to name just a few.

Seared Citrus Wild Salmon w. White Wine & Herbs

Cooking spray
4-4oz salmon fillets
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
4 fresh chives
2 thyme sprigs
2 oregano sprigs
2 tarragon sprigs
¼ cup dry white wine
4 (1/8-inch-thick) slices fresh lemon

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a shallow roasting pan with foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place fish on prepared pan. Combine rinds; spread over fish. Arrange chives, thyme, oregano, and tarragon horizontally across fish. Arrange lemon slices on top of herbs and pour white wine over fillets. Cover with foil; seal. Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Makes 4 4oz servings. Recipe adapted from

Nutrient Analysis:
Calories 253; Fat 9.8g (sat 2.3g,mono 4.3g,poly 2.3g); Protein 28.9g; Cholesterol 75mg; Sodium 292mg; Carbohydrate 0.4g

Crunching the Numbers to Reach Your Daily Calcium Need

Where do you now get your daily need of calcium from? Surprisingly, it may be a lot easier than you think.

True, the recent findings of the nationwide Women’s Health Initiative study saw no broad benefit form calcium and vitamin D supplements in preventing bones fractures and osteoporosis. After following over 36,000 women ages 50 to 79 for 7 years, the study found that supplements may provide many individuals, males and females, a false sense of security. What are you to do? Turn to your daily diet for the answer, we know that calcium is best absorbed by your body from food itself. But before you start making a calcium-rich grocery list, let’s breakdown the facts.

Why is calcium so important? Calcium is one of the most essential minerals for growth and reproduction and bone density maintenance. It allows for the development of strong, healthy teeth and bones. Calcium also plays a key role in blood flow, hormone secretion, muscle contraction and ensuring a normal heartbeat.

Who needs it most? The daily recommendation of calcium varies depending on age and gender. Growing infants, children and adolescents as well as pregnant and lactating women and post-menopausal women all have additional calcium needs.

Daily Calcium Requirements:

Lifestage Daily Requirement
1-3 years


5-8 years 800mg
9-18 years 1300mg
Pregnancy & Lactation 1000mg (1300 mg if <18yrs)
19-50 years 1000mg
>50 years 1200mg

Where You’ll Find it in Common Foods
You’ll easily find calcium in many foods and beverages you commonly consume on daily basis. A variety of calcium-fortified products are also popping up on shelves these days. Aim for 3-4 servings of some of the items listed below and you’ll hit your calcium goal in no time! A sample day of eating to get your calcium requirement could look like: yogurt at breakfast, salad with canned salmon for lunch, a glass of skim milk & a handful of almonds for snack and you’re there!

Item Portion Size Calcium (mg)
Plain low-fat yogurt 1 cup (8oz) 415 mg
Skim Plus milk 1 cup (8oz) 400 mg
Canned salmon with bones 3oz 345 mg
Skim & low-fat milk 1 cup (8oz) 302 mg
Low-fat soy, rice, almond milk 1 cup (8oz) 300 – 330 mg (by brand)
Fortified orange juice 1 cup (8oz) 300 mg
Swiss cheese 1 oz 272 mg
Cheddar cheese 1 oz 204 mg
Dark leafy greens, cooked (kale, spinach, collards, bok choy) ½ cup 179 mg *calcium may not be as well absorbed due to fiber content
Almonds 2 oz 150 mg
Black beans 1 cup 120 mg
Blackstrap molasses 1 tbsp 137 mg

Should you Toss those Supplements?
Don’t throw your calcium supplements in the trash just yet. Try to get as much of your calcium from your diet as possible, but in the case you need to take a supplement every now and then, look for the following…
Between Viactiv, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, and calcium citrate…what’s what and what will best suite your needs? Narrow your choices and opt for calcium citrate which can be taken at anytime, with or without food, and doesn’t interfere with iron absorption. Calcium carbonate, also a good choice, must be taken with food and shouldn’t be taken along with an iron supplement. Keep in mind that the body best absorbs calcium when taken multiple times a day in amounts of 500mg or less -- most brand name supplements are 500 mg per pill. Remember, a supplement is just that; try to consume the majority of your daily calcium needs from quality dietary sources as listed above.

The Dynamic Duo: Calcium & Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential in enhancing the absorption of calcium. Conveniently, many calcium supplements come in combination with vitamin D. Vitamin D is also found in many foods including cheese, fortified milk and orange juice, butter, fish and fortified cereals. Even better, exposure to sunshine causes the body to produce vitamin D on its own. Just 10-15 minutes of sun 3 times a week is adequate to produce the body’s required amount of vitamin D.

Farmer’s Market Fresh – Why & When to Choose Organic

You’ve heard all the talk, ‘organic this’, ‘hormone-free that’. Does buying organic as opposed to conventional foods really make a difference? Should you be concerned?

Organic foods are grown and produced under strict government regulations and are stamped with a ‘USDA Organic’ seal. Farmers and organic food and beverage companies follow specific standards -- fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides; free-range poultry, wild fish and grass-fed beef are raised in their natural environments without added hormones or antibiotics; eggs and dairy products follow suit. In addition, when you purchase items from your local farmers market, you’re supporting community growers and environment-friendly farming methods.

So what’s the benefit to you and your health? Eating seasonal, natural foods, means you’re consuming less potential toxins and contaminants over the long-term. At the same time, you’re nourishing your body with quality nutrients and decreasing disease risk. A study published by the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that organic produce contains higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidants than conventional produce – in particular, corn 59% greater, blackberries 50% greater, and strawberries 19% greater. Another study conducted by the University of California-Davis reviewed 41 research trials and found that the nutritional quality of organic produce was superior to that of its conventional counterparts. On average, organic produce contains 29% more magnesium, 27% vitamin C, 21% more iron, and 14% more phosphorus.

As nutrient-rich as they are, organic produce and grocery items can also be a bit steeper when it comes to the price tag. We’ve come up with a quick list of ‘best bets’, try to purchase these items organically whenever possible, as they may be more permeable to pesticides and hormones. So take a trip to your local farmer’s market sometime soon, it’s a great way to recharge your body’s battery, kiss toxins goodbye and ‘reset your clock’ just in time for spring!

Berries, all varieties
Dark leafy greens, lettuces Grapes, green and red
Broccoli & cauliflower Apples, all varieties
Bell peppers Corn Cucumbers
Potatoes, rice Peaches, nectarines, plums Green beans
Milk & eggs Free-range chicken, wild salmon & fish Grass-fed beef & bison

Quick tip: Though organic foods do indeed have great health benefits, remember to watch calories, fat content and portion sizes with certain organic items like cookies, chips, desserts, pastas and rices, marinades, sauces and more.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The Valentine's Day Diet

t wouldn’t be an official Valentine’s Day without a wee bit of indulgence. Have treats in healthful moderation and beware of some common high-calorie, high-fat culprits. Satisfy your sweet tooth by choosing the best of the best…rich, gourmet dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more) or a luscious chocolate-dipped strawberry. A little bit of the good stuff will go a long way!

Cupid’s Delightfully Low-Cal Picks STOP in the Name of Love!!! (i.e. avoid these)
  • Dark chocolate-dipped strawberry (1) = 48 calories, 2g fat
  • Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses (2) = 50 calories, 2g fat
  • 2-3 squares 70% dark chocolate (Dagoba, Green & Black’s,
    Plantation) = 70 calories, 3-4g fat
  • Chocolate fudge (1 piece, .6oz) = 70 calories, 1.8g fat
  • Godiva Amaretto Truffle (1) = 110 calories, 6.5g fat
  • 1 cup berries + 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar = 74 calories, 0g fat
  • ¾ cup berries + 3 Tbsp Lite Cool Whip = 80 calories, 1g fat
  • Chocolate martini (1) = 438 calories, 20g fat
  • Lindt milk chocolate truffle w. smooth filling (1) = 239
    calories, 19g fat
  • Mini chocolate éclair (1) = 293 calories, 17.6g fat
  • Flourless chocolate cake (1 piece) = 440 calories, 34g fat
  • Chocolate mousse (1 serving) = 380 calories, 15g fat
  • Chocolate molten cake w. vanilla ice cream (1 piece, from a nation-wide restaurant chain) = 1270 calories, 62g fat!!!

Skin Deep Nutrition: Eating for that Gorgeous ‘Winter Glow’

As wonderful as ski season and snowflakes are, winter can unfortunately wreck havoc on our delicate skin – chapped lips, dry, cracked hands and feet. But with the help of nourishing, antioxidant-packed fruits, vegetables and “healthy” fats, we can moisturize and replenish our skin and provide bodies with health-promoting nutrients. Incorporate the foods we’ve listed below into your daily diet and you’ll have that gorgeous ‘glow’ back in no time.

Fabulous Fresh Fruit

  • Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are rich in flavonoids, a type of antioxidants that help delay the aging process and strengthen collagen in the skin. Berries are also high in vitamin C, which helps maintain capillary walls & promote skin elasticity & plumpness.
  • Kiwi: Kiwis are high in vitamin C and antioxidants to promote skin elasticity and smoothness.
  • Mango: Mangoes are high in vitamin A, C, & E and rich in antioxidants. Eat them moderation however, as mangoes are high in calories and sugar!
  • Citrus fruit: Grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes all help cleanse our digestive systems and clear the skin. Citrus fruits also boast a wealth of vitamin C.

Eat Your Veggies

  • Broccoli: A nutrient-rich cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is high in fiber, iron, antioxidants, folate and vitamins A, C and B2 – all of which promote healthy skin, hair and nails and prevent premature signs of aging. Broccoli also helps stimulate the digestive system, liver and kidneys to remove toxins internally, encouraging the external effect of beautiful, smooth skin.
  • Beets: Beets are pack powerful antioxidants, flavonoids, and aid in stimulating the digestive system and immune function. Their benefits shine through from the inside-out by reviving dull skin and promoting renewal and repair.

Healthy Fats

  • Salmon, tuna, flaxseed, avocado, walnuts, and olive oil: ‘Healthy’ fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in the items above, help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Such fats provide skin cells with nourishing moisture and oil to help prevent wrinkles and dryness. Healthy as they are, these fats still are high in calories so you’ll want to watch the amount you’re consuming – keep these serving sizes in mind: 3-4oz salmon & tuna (size of a deck of cards), 1/5 an avocado (2-3 thin slices), ¼ cup walnuts, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil per meal.

A Day’s Menu of Healthy Eating for Beautiful Skin

Breakfast: ½ grapefruit + 1 cup high-fiber cereal w. 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal, ½ cup fresh berries & skim milk
Mid-Morning Snack: low-fat plain, Greek yogurt w. diced mango and kiwi
Lunch: Seared salmon and arugula salad w. roasted beets and balsamic vinaigrette + 2 high-fiber crackers
Afternoon Snack: ¼ cup walnuts (10-12 havles) OR 8 oz. of a blueberry, raspberry & banana smoothie w. skim or non-fat soy milk & 1 teaspoon honey
Dinner: Grilled tuna w. pomegranate & avocado salsa & steamed broccoli

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Is Coffee Good For Me?

Can’t do without your morning cup o’ joe? If you thought you were making a better choice by skipping the caffeine, you may want to think again. A report presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions back in November noted that excessive consumption of decaffeinated coffee may lead to an increase in LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, and thus, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers from the Fuqua Heart Center in Atlanta stated that individuals who consume 3 to 6 cups of decaf a day may benefit from “a combined approach of diet, exercise, weight loss and cessation of decaffeinated coffee,” which could effectively reduce LDL levels by 30% and help avoid using drug therapy to treat high cholesterol.

Unfortunately, the moral of this story isn’t cut and dry. Researchers also found that if an individual is not overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) under 25, decaf coffee may decrease levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) by 30%. In comparison, overweight individuals with a BMI above 25 presented beneficial HDL-raising results by nearly 50% from the consumption of decaf coffee.

What’s the bottom line? Evidence remains under investigation and each individual is different, personalized recommendations are best. Stick to 1-2 cups of coffee, decaf or regular, a day though and you’re in good shape. Keep those unwanted extra-pounds off with straight, black coffee or some skim milk with minimal sugar or sweetener. If you’re seeking to cut back on your caffeine cravings, try an Americano, espresso with hot water (espresso contains less caffeine than regular coffee). Or try a new twist in your daily routine and switch to green tea for a healthful change…a little caffeine goes a long way.

Trans Fat & Food Allergen Labels: An Overview

A nutrition-minded start to 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new, long-awaited federal regulations requiring all food companies to list trans fatty acid content on packaged food labels earlier this month. You and fellow grocery store-goers across the country will now be able to distinguish between what’s ‘heart-healthy’ and what’s not with the inclusion of trans fat content on all food labels. Trans fatty acids are ‘unhealthy’, ultra-saturated (or ‘hydrogenated’) fats used to preserve shelf-life and are linked to increasing the risk heart disease by raising levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Trans fats are most often found in processed foods, commercial baked goods and snacks (eg. cookies, cakes, donuts, chips), fried foods and vegetable shortening and margarines. So the next time you’re weaving through grocery aisles, take a peek at what you’re about to put into your cart. Aim to choose products with zero or extremely minimal amounts of trans fats. In addition to checking the nutrition label itself, look out for ‘red-light’ words in the ingredient list such as “partially hydrogenated”.

Along with the inclusion of trans fat content, the FDA is also requiring food companies to list any potential allergenic ingredients on all food packages. Common food allergens include nuts, milk, peanuts, eggs, shellfish, soybeans and wheat. This regulation will make grocery shopping much easier and put many individuals, particularly parents, at ease when choosing new products. According to statistics from the National Institute of Health (NIH) food allergies affect nearly 5 million Americans, an estimated 5-8% of young children and 1-2% of adults.

Fighting The Common Cold Through Good Nutrition

It’s that time of year again, dust off the Kleenex and cough medicine. Flu shot or not, cold season is here in full swing. But with our simple tips and sound nutrition you can give your immune system a boost and banish the sniffles, sore-throat, aches and pains.

Eat up, squash your symptoms:

  • A shot of C: Vitamin C increases cold-combative white bloods cells and helps shorten the duration of sickness. Look to brightly-colored, fresh fruits and vegetables such as grapefruits, oranges, kiwi, dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli and red peppers.
  • Up the antioxidants: Reduce your body’s natural inflammatory response that turns on to battle a cold with stocking up on powerful antioxidants. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Beta-carotene (vitamin A) in particular helps heighten immunity and is found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and cantaloupes as well as dark leafy greens. Some research shows that drinking 2-3 cups of green tea per day also aids in sparking our natural defenses with its high level of polyphenols, a type of antioxidants. Salmon is another excellent choice which boasts anti-inflammatory properties and packs another bonus punch of ‘heart-healthy fats’ with omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Beneficial bacteria: Consuming a serving of plain low-fat yogurt on a daily basis can help maintain a strong immune system by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria.
  • In the zone with zinc: Touted as one of the best minerals to ward off a cold, zinc is best absorbed from sources of red meat as well as chicken, legumes, oysters and fortified whole grain cereals. Zinc aids in the development of white blood cells, immunity-boosters. Be careful of overloading with supplements however, too much zinc may actually decrease immune-function. Aim to stay in the range of 8mg per day for women and 11mg per day for men.
  • Clear the decks!: Help clear your sinuses with hot liquids – mom was right all those year, a steaming bowl of chicken soup does have its benefits. You can also help break up congestion with ‘mucilaginous agents’; try sipping a cup of ginger tea, or add garlic, chili, or even a bit of zesty horseradish to warm, hearty dishes.
  • Sweat out the germs: Daily exercise and physical activity helps to stimulate the production of white blood cells, our “immunity-superstars” and thereby, helps prevent the occurrence of a cold or the flu. Sweating also helps release bacteria and toxins that build up in our bodies and contribute to sickness.
  • Preventative measures: Leading a healthy lifestyle will do much to help prevent the onset of pesky colds. Be sure to get adequate sleep each night and limit items that weaken our body’s defenses such as alcohol, excess sugar and refined carbohydrates, excess fat, and fried and processed foods.

A Day’s Menu of Cold-Fighting Food:

  • Breakfast: ½ grapefruit + 1 cup high fiber cereal like Kashi Go Lean w. ½ cup skim milk & ½ cup blueberries
  • Mid-morning snack: 1 cup green tea or ginger tea + 6oz plain low-fat yogurt like Stonyfield Farms Plain Organic Low-fat Yogurt or Fage Total Greek Yogurt 0%
  • Lunch: 3 cups (1 small bowl) Asian-Inspired Chicken & Vegetable Soup (see recipe below) + 2 Fiber Rich crackers
  • Afternoon Snack: 1 cup green tea or ginger tea + 1 Lara Bar or 12 almonds
  • Dinner: 3-6oz (1-2 decks of cards) poached salmon + 1 cup (2 fists) cooked spinach sautéed with 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, garlic & red pepper flakes + ½ cup brown rice

Asian-Inspired Chicken & Vegetable Soup
4 cups water
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 lb fresh kale, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, salt to taste
3 tablespoons chopped green onion

Bring water and broth to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Add chicken and simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool 10 minutes. Reserve poaching liquid, uncovered.

While chicken is poaching, cook onion in olive oil in a 4-quart heavy pot, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, salt, and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add poaching liquid, kale and ginger and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat.

While vegetables are cooking, shred chicken into 1/4-inch-wide strips (about 1 inch long). When vegetables are done simmering, stir chicken into soup along with green onions.

Makes 4 to 6 servings. Recipe adapted from

Nutrient Analysis:
Calories 275; Fat 9.5g (sat 1.7g); Protein 32g; Cholesterol 77mg; Sodium 251mg; Carbohydrate 17g; Fiber 5g