Lighter holiday recipes start with lighter ingredients. I've listed a few of my go-to swaps that don't compromise flavor or texture!
Replace oil in your favorite cakes and breads with unsweetened applesauce
Greek yogurt seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and basil is a great sub for creamy dressings and dips
Craving soda? Sparkling water (made with real fruit flavors or add some of your own fruit) and club soda give you the fizz you crave with none of the sugar! Bonus: They are just as hydrating as water.
Ditch the traditional apple cider loaded with added sugar and combine unsweetened apple juice with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Heat it up for extra flavor boost!
DIY taco seasoning with none of the salt!
Summer can sometimes feel like one giant feast from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It can be hard to make healthy choices when all those hot dogs and pasta salads are STARING.YOU.DOWN!
Below, I've listed some of my favorite summer BBQ tips put together by Barbara Gordon, RDN, LD, a contributor to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
1. Baste vegetables such as red peppers, corn, eggplant, summer squash, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms or onions with olive oil and season with herbs.
Place directly on a hot grill (or a piece of tin foil) until they are tender and brown.
*Try These Easy Mayo-less Salads
1. Make caprese. Slice tomatoes and layer a small, thin piece of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil on each tomato slice, sprinkle with olive oil and lightly salt.
2. Combine fresh fruit with fresh fennel. Thinly slice fennel and let it soak in freshly squeezed lemon juice for 20 minutes. Toss sliced peaches into fennel and add rice vinegar, lemon zest and a slight sprinkling of salt and pepper
3. Whip up a quick avocado salad. Avocados contain heart-healthy fats and are packed with vitamins and minerals. Cube avocados and toss with vinaigrette, fresh herbs, capers, sliced green onions and roasted pine nuts.
*Grill Up Dessert
1. Cook fruit kabobs, pineapple slices or peach halves on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden for a tasty and nutritious dessert.
2. Grill watermelon for 30 seconds on each side to bring out unique flavors. You also could carve out a watermelon to use as a bowl for fruit salad!
3. Marinate strawberries in balsamic vinegar for 30 minutes, toss in fresh mint and serve a refresh savory dessert.
Have fun and stay cool out there! Thanks for stopping by.
Every year around this time, the junk food questions really start rolling in! Halloween through New Years is a challenging time for everyone's waist lines! The best thing you can do is just take it 1 holiday at a time. So, for now, just enjoy some Halloween candy!
I've helped to break down the "healthier" Halloween options below:
1. Peanut M&Ms (tiny bit of protein and some healthy fat)
2. Almond Kisses (Same as those M&Ms...try to keep it limited to 2!)
3. York Peppermint Patties (Low in calories, pre-portioned, and made with dark chocolate! Hello? The trifecta!)
4. 1 oz Dark Chocolate (Dove and Hershey do a great job, here!)
3. Mini Tootsie Rolls (Just 35 calories each!)
4. Mini 3 Musketeers (Just 25 calories each!)
5. 2-pack mini Twizzlers (While not exactly nutrient dense, there is only 50 calories in a 2-pack with 0g of fat)
Some of the "slower" candies help curb that craving, too! If you are one who has a hard time going back for another piece or 2, opt for something that will take longer to finish, such as lollipops, Jolly Ranchers, and gum
Anyone else notice how coconut oil has managed to inch itself onto the shelves of stores worldwide over the past few years? Coconut water! Coconut dressing! Coconut coffee and tea! Coconut flour! Coconut milk! Coconut butter! Coconut extract!
According to a recent article released by Harvard University's T.H Chan School of Public Health professor, the tropical treat is considered "pure poison."
So pure poison or cure-all miracle food? The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle. To RDs everywhere, the "pure poison" label does't come as a shock. We've been saying this for years! The term "poison" however, may be a bit harsh. It is true that coconut oil is full of artery-clogger saturated fats. The good kind, right? Yes and no. Coconut contains a fat known as lauric acid. It works to raise the good cholesterol while also raising the bad.
Fun fact: Coconut oil is about 85% saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommendation? About 10g per day for the average bear. Ever flipped over a package to check out the nutrition facts panel? Those little grams add up QUICKLY!
Therefore, a small amount a few days a week? Go for it!
For use as a moisturizer or conditioner? Even better!
Daily use in cooking, marinades, dressings, water, coffee and tea? ABORT! ABORT! You're much better off using it as a daily makeup remover :-)
A busy summer means less time for writing and posting! It's sort of like when people say "a busy summer means less time for [exercising], [cooking], [sleeping]....[insert healthy habit here!]."
But it doesn't need to be that way! If you can devote 5 minutes (yes, just 5!) twice a day, you'll find yourself in a healthier place in no time! Got 5? Try these ideas:
1. Take 5 after putting the groceries away to rinse and chop those fruits and veggies
2. Hard boil 3 or 4 eggs for a protein packed snack to grab in time crunch
3. Breath! Take a second for deep breathing. Pay close attention to slow, even breaths deep in your belly.
4. Leg day, anyone? Use your 5 minutes to alternate between 1 minutes of lunges, 1 minute of squats. Do each twice and end with a 1 minute wall sit.
5. Make breakfast a night in advance! Toss 1/2 Cup of oats. 1 cup of fat free or low fat milk, 1 banana, 1/4 teaspoon of honey or brown sugar, and a dash a cinnamon into an airtight container. Let it sit overnight and enjoy on your way out the door the next morning!
6. Step Outside! It's not rocket science that fresh air is good for the soul so why do we stay inside so much? Just 5 minutes of natural light and fresh air will do wonders for you!
7. Pre-package your own snacks. The #1 nutrition tip I give to everyone is to always be prepared! Don't wait until you are hungry and crunched for time to focus on your diet. Take 5 minutes to make your own pre-made snack packs- Mix walnuts, almonds, dried cranberries, and (a few!) mini dark chocolate chips. Place 1/4 cup in small Ziploc bags for nutrition on the go!
Monday is my least favorite day of the week and I can imagine most of you reading this would agree. I start to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach on Sunday afternoons knowing what is just around the corner...
Why do I hate Mondays so much? Because I am way too hard on myself! I spend most of my Mondays feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work ahead of me and the amount of work that did not get done over the weekend. Once I've gone through my emails and looked over my schedule for the week, I spend a solid 15 minutes self-loathing.
"I ate way too much this weekend."
"I really should have gotten more sleep."
"I probably did not need that second glass of wine."
"Did my pants feel this tight last week?"
"I really need to spend more time in the gym this week."
Does this sound familiar? If not, then lucky you! I am green with envy. If it sounds like I was recently eavesdropping on a conversation between you and yourself, then pull up seat and let me remind you that Mondays are the best day to give yourself a break! It's ok if you gobbled down some extra cookies and the chances of your pants getting tighter over the weekend are highly unlikely! These thoughts are in our heads as if we do not deserve to relax and be lazy once in awhile. Below are some easy tips to help keep you on track with some self-love all week long!
1. Find something to look forward to. Mondays (or any day) should not just be about "getting through the day." It is much easier to get out of bed and stay motivated if you have something positive to look forward to. Meet some friends for a walk after work, take the family bowling, try that new yoga studio that just opened or sign up for fun class you've always wanted to try.
2. Keep your Mondays light. While you may not have control over your entire schedule, make sure to take some time out of the day for you. Listen to some music, jot down a few thoughts on a piece of paper, or just sit at your desk and doodle for a minute or two. By taking breaks throughout the day, you are more likely to be focused with it counts!
3. Make someone else happy. Compliment a co-worker, do something extra for a customer, send a thank you note, or donate to your favorite charity. Your mood will never suffer when you pay it forward!
Good luck, everyone!
Did you know that April is stress awareness month (as if we needed a month to make us aware of our stress)? Did you also know that stress makes us more likely to gain unwanted weight? Why is that and what can you do today to combat stress eating?
1. Food serves as a distraction: Food is one of the most overly abused anxiety drugs. In times of stress, people often find themselves looking to fill avoid or calm their emotions. Quickest and most convenient friend to turn to? Snacks, of course!
Combat tip: Name that hunger! I often ask my clients to rate their hunger on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being ravenous hunger. I then ask them to rate their emotional hunger. What does this mean? Take a moment to check in with yourself to determine if you are actually hungry of if you are looking for something "just because." If your emotional hunger is stronger than your physical hunger, then find a distraction other than food! Get together with a friend, go for a walk, or take a minute to jot down some thoughts on why are you are looking for a distraction.
2. You crave something specific: In times of stress, our bodies are actually very good at telling us exactly what it is they need. It is important to listen!
Combat tip: First of all, give in to those cravings! If you don't, you are more likely to overeat later. The trick here is to choose the healthiest option for your craving. Looking for something salty? Go for an ounce of mixed nuts, a cheese stick, or some veggies with nut butter or hummus. Sweet? Opt for some berries with whipped topping, light hot cocoa, an ounce of dark chocolate (just one, sorry!), or plain Greek yogurt with fruit or honey. Crunchy? An ounce of trail mix, frozen berries, or veggie sticks with a low fat dip or nut butter is a great way to go!
3. You're physically and emotionally exhausted: Calories are energy. When we get tired, guess what? Our brain looks for energy! While the obvious way to combat this is to get more sleep, I will be a little more realistic and just place some tips below.
Combat tip: Slowly count to 10. Take 5 deep breaths. Pick a few favorite yoga poses to hold. Make a list of everything on your plate (pun fully intended) and prioritize each item. Taking just a 30 second break to check in with yourself will allow you feel more in control, which is likely to carry over to your eating patterns. It is also a good idea to avoid certain situations if you know your willpower is down. For example, it is probably best to skip the lunch buffet if you are only running on a few hours of sleep.
4. You've become too busy to exercise: Stressful times often rob us of time for ourselves. Exercise is often the first item tossed out the window when we're in a crunch for time.
Combat tip: Don't feel like you have to squeeze it all in at once! Try for 10 minutes of activity 3 times a day. What does this look like? Walking the dog in the morning, a short (but brisk) walk after lunch, and a combination of squats/sit ups/jumping jacks while watching TV at night.
5. Once you start you can't stop: Most people believe that this issue is due to lack of self control. Science is showing us otherwise! The inability to stop when you're satisfied is usually due to unawareness and the inability to fill emotional holes! Be sure to slow down, chew food, and something satisfying! It is important to keep something protein-packed on hand, as this will give you a better feeling of fullness.
Combat tip: Pre-portioned items such as cheese sticks, fat free pudding cups, individual bags of nuts or trail mix, and low fat yogurt not only force you to stop eating when the package is empty, but are also great on-the-go snacks! Additionally, do not skip meals, as this will prevent you from overeating later on and consider keeping a food diary to hold yourself accountable.
Keep checking back as I share some of my favorite recipes and tips!