Showing posts tagged health food
A reader emailed me her current dilemma with dieting and I think a lot of us can relate:
I’ve been trying to get started in a healthier lifestyle routine, and sometimes I need more of a boost than to hear “have lots of fruits, veggies, and water, say no to junk food and watch your portion control.” That’s obvious, it’s just hard to do after years of eating/drinking whatever I like.
I feel like I need something more regimented in the beginning - rules - on what I can and can’t eat. A friend of mine told me she once found success with the “South Beach Diet” program. I’ve never been on one of these fad diets. What are your thoughts on them? What do you think would be a good way to get started?
Obviously I’m looking for a lifestyle change, I just need that kick in the ass that one of these diets/books may provide in the beginning so I learn to love/get used to a healthier lifestyle. There’s just SO much out there, and many times they aren’t compatible. Obviously exercise would be a big part of it as well, but I think that’s easier than changing the way I eat.
You’re right about a few things: getting motivated is difficult and diets books never agree on a method.
But as you said, you’re looking for a lifestyle change so a fad diet isn’t going to be your best bet for the long haul (for any healthy form of weight loss actually).
Don’t think of yourself as going on a “diet.” Try to balance your day with well-rounded meals that focus on veggies and fresh foods, but also incorporate foods you enjoy. Baby steps in the right direction will be the key to a true lifestyle change. Don’t tell yourself “no,” just enjoy enough of what you love until you are satisfied. That cookie will be there tomorrow!
Exercise will be helpful in more ways than just shedding pounds. You’ll feel some of the weight of the world lift off your shoulders, your priority will be you and not other people and their problems, and the chemical change will motivate you to maintain a healthy course in other parts of your life.
Keep checking into MTM for tips on fitness and food. Between our resident trainer, Nutritionista, and myself, we’ve got you covered.
Hope this helps and have fun on your journey!
BTW, do you mind if I post your question anonymously?
Post away! I’m just confused about whether I should avoid alcohol, dairy, carbs, etc. for a time - so my body will stop the super craving. I just feel like I need some static rules to get me started.
Ok, start here:
Try to avoid white stuff - sugar, bread, flour. But don’t cut them out completely. Try restraint before you go to restriction. Telling yourself no will make you want more and is not the way to truly change your diet, in my opinion.
Eat something green (that isn’t COVERED in sauce) before lunch and dinner. It can be a single veggie or a salad. This will help curb your appetite for whatever follows (and help your body absorb the nutrients in the greens).
If you’re hungry during the day, reach for a single piece of fruit, raw veggies, or unsalted nuts (without dried fruit). If you’re in need of something sweet, grab a Lara Bar. Also if you know you’re really not hungry, have a cup of tea. I like black or peppermint.
For dinner, try not to reach for carbs unless you’re really still hungry after you allow your meal to sit for 20 minutes. Eat protein and veggies until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Allow yourself a reasonable portion of dessert once a day. Sometimes you won’t want it. Yay. If you do, love every bite.
In these guidelines, you’ll see you have the liberty to choose what you like, but a few rules to help you make healthy choices based on how you feel. Don’t starve yourself so you over-eat, eat slowly and often.
I hope this helps!
Snack Attack - Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food
These little tubs store ten gooey balls of cookie deliciousness. If you’ve ever had one, that description makes sense. The “junk food” isn’t a necessarily a cookie, but it satisfies that craving without all of the guilt. And they’re pretty filling.
My favorite is the oatmeal raisin (pictured above). Yum!
I brought them along for our road trip, and even Adrien, who swears against anything healthy, agrees they are indeed delightful.
Yes, I do realize the title of this post is suggestive. Oh, well. Also, let me clarify that I don’t ever think we should ever classify foods as bad or good (naughty or nice, etc.). I prefer examining whether foods are nutritionally dense or not. But I couldn’t resist the title since we’re so close to the holiday!
So, nuts. Nuts can be confusing, right? On the one hand, we hear all these great things about how nutritious they are. On the other hand, we read the nutrition label on a package of nuts, see the high fat and calorie content, and get a little puzzled. Aren’t nuts supposed to be good for us?
Nuts are a perfect example of why we can’t just look at fat and calories when evaluating the nutrition potential of a food. Nuts are extremely calorie dense! But guess what? They’re also extremely nutrient dense.
Check it out:
- A quarter cup serving of walnuts has almost 95% of your recommended daily value (RDV) of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also chock full of manganese and copper.
- The same serving of almonds contains about 45% RDV of vitamin E and 20% RDV of vitamin B2.
- Cashews have less fat than most nuts, and 90% of its unsaturated fat is oleic acid (the heart-healthy fat found in olive oil). They also contain zinc, iron, and biotin.
- Pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E and A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins, and zinc.
- The forgotten Brazil nut packs tons of nutrients, including the all-important selenium (a powerful antioxidant).
Plus, all nuts have a decent amount of protein and fiber. Because they’re so high in fat (the healthy, unsaturated kind!), they’re also really filling. A few nuts go a long way. To get the nutrients of nuts without adding tons of calories, try crushing them first before sprinkling them on salads, oatmeal, or rice. You can get more of the flavor throughout the dish without upping the calories too much. Nuts make great snacks on their own or as part of trail mix. I try to measure out a serving before I snack, though.
Just remember: If something is packed with nutrients and healthy fat, it’s also going to have a few more calories. That’s nothing to be afraid of!
Delicious Dish - Twice Baked Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
The recipe below makes 2 small servings from 1 sweet potato so it’s perfect when you’re cooking for yourself to have a night catching up on Gossip Girl and watching Leven on Grey’s.
1 medium sweet potato, cut length-wise
2 tsp. EVOO
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 medium zucchini diced
1 can of beans, drained and rinsed (I used Borlotti Beans)
Here’s What You Do:
- 1. In a preheat oven place the sweet potato w/ 1 tsp of EVOO over each half at 200/400.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until the middle is soft
- While they sweet potatoes are roasting, in a frying pan melt down the spread over medium-high heat.
- Add onions and zucchini and sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft
- Salt and pepper (I used about 1tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of better)
- Add the can of beans and cook for about five minutes (may need to add a hint of water)
- When the sweet potatoes are soft in the middle, scoop out the middle and place into the bean mixture.
- Mash down the beans with the sweet potatoes a bit with a fork.
- Spoon the ‘guts’ back into the shells of the potatoes and place into a reduced heat oven, 180/350, for about 10 minutes.
A reader twittered me about juice recipes the other day so I though I should share my latest favorites.
- Fresh squeezed spinach juice
- Fresh squeezed carrot juice
- Frozen strawberries
- Frozen blueberries
- 2 bananas
- Skim milk/almond milk
- Fuji apple
- Little bit of fresh carrot juice
Please don’t substitute Tropicana or pasteurized juices. If you don’t have a juicer, seek out a good juice bar. There are more than you realize, and when you have them blended with frozen fruits (see Berry Delicious), it’s usually cheaper.
Or you can just blend the veggies with the fruits. Click here to see how easy it is to make a green smoothie.
Reinvent Your Raw Diet - Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles
I talk a lot about incorporating more fruits and veggies into our diet. There really is no better way than to do so than in its natural form. But simply cutting up a bell pepper for a snack can get a little boring. And having a raw meal delivered to your door on a regular basis is a bit ridiculous.
Rarely do I get excited about cookbooks. Usually they are filled with recipes that take hours to prepare composed of ingredients I don’t recognize.
So you can understand how a book of RAW recipes for SNACKS fits the bill for me!
Raw Energy gives you 124 options to change it up! Plus, when you make the bars/balls/bites yourself, you know exactly what’s in them and can rest assured they haven’t come in contact with any form of “processing.”
The book offers you recipes on how to not only make raw ingredients more interesting, but also harness specific qualities about how each energize you. Author Stephanie Tourles provides you with a very simple breakdown of the digestive system and a nugget about each fruit, veggie, and nut so you have a better understanding of how they can be useful to you. If you don’t want to take her word for it, she quotes several other experts in the field. It’s the best 101 I’ve seen on nutrition in a while.
Raw Enery - 124 Raw Food Recipes for Energy Bars, Smoothies, and Other Snacks to Supercharge Your Body on sale at Amazon for $10. Quite a bargain for all of the easily digestible info!
Last week I completed a 4 day juice cleanse followed by 2 days of raw food all provided by Red Carpet Cleanses.
So you probably want to know, what’s the difference, which is the best, is one of them easier?
First, review a basic breakdown of the three cleanses. All three use fresh ingredients that only last a couple of days. Deliveries for RCC and OA come daily, BPC can drop off 3 days worth of juice at a time.
(BPC = BluePrint, RCC = RedCarpet, OA = Organic Avenue)
- BPC 3 day “Foundation” - 6 juices = 3 green juices, 2 fruit juices, 1 cashew milk
- RCC juice cleanse - 6 juices = electrolyte lemonade, 2 green juices, 1 carrot juice, 1 banana smoothie, 1 cashew milk
- OA L.O.V.E. Fast- 1 elixir, 1 fruit juice, 1 green juice, 1 smoothie, 1 soup, 1 small salad, 1 coconut milk/water
(All three companies offer other cleanses as well.)
You also need to know my goals in cleansing:
- Detox my organs
- Repair my diet
- Restore a normal appetite
- Decrease cravings for processed sugar
SO WHAT DO I THINK?
Following are my conclusions on the three cleanses.
- DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
While OA has the most hearty offerings, it incorporates many veggies I really can’t stand. However, there is no way I could ever finish all of the stuff they sent for one day because it was so substantial. So if you’re a veggie lover, this would be the easiest cleanse by far because it’s closest to a normal diet.
BPC and RCC both offer 6 juices a day. RCC is a little easier because like OA it offers a sweet smoothie mid-day that is delicious. That boost in energy and moral keeps you motivated until your nighttime cashew milk. OA’s smoothies are by far the best because they offer a variety that often includes chocolate.
Both OA and RCC (soon BPC) offer raw food cleanses as well if you are fearful of going to straight juice on your first attempt.
- THE GREEN FACTOR
Obviously green juice is the a big component of the cleanses.
Hands down OA’s is the worst, but you only have to drink it once a day (and it’s followed by the smoothie).
Most people would say BPC offers the best green juice because it’s sweetened with green apple. I like it as well, but the celery sometimes gets to me.
RCC gives me the option to exclude ingredients like celery in all of their juices so it was more enjoyable.
Out of the 6 juices offered by BPC and RCC, I usually only drank 5 because the green juice twice in RCC and three times in BPC per day became redundant.
OA L.O.V.E Fast = $450/week ($90/day) including delivery in NYC
BPC = $65/day (for 3+ days including delivery in NYC), $85/day including overnight shipping to anywhere in the US
RCC = $90/day (including shipping in LA)
Honestly, if you’re serious about cleansing and getting your diet back on track, I think it’s worth the investment. You receive juices and recipes you can’t replicate on your own, the support of a nutritionist, and everything you need for the day so you don’t have to think about what to do next.
BPC is by far the easiest if you’re on the go. They have a cute travel bag with a little ice pack to keep all of your juice cool. RCC offers a cooler tote, but it’s a lot more cumbersome.
OA comes in glass bottles so it’s not easy to throw in your purse (although I have).
- THE GOOD STUFF
There is always one juice in a cleanse that I crave months later. In OA, I love the smoothies so much that I go buy them separately when I’m in NYC. They have chocolate, mint chocolate chip, goji berry, and blueberry flavors for these nutrient-packed mixtures. Delicious!
Both BPC and RCC offer cashew milk at the end of each day. Such a treat after a long day of veggie juices. I prefer BPC’s - it’s like a vanilla milkshake. RCC’s is good as well, but not as thick.
RCC’s midday smoothie tastes the best, but I feel like the electrolyte lemonade you drink first is the most notable. According to September, the combination of the flax oil with the sulpher in the lemons and pears energizes you instantly. RCC also uses hexagonally structured water and adds probiotics to the green juice to generate good bacteria in your body.
At this point BPC is only one that ships, although I believe OA will do upon request. RCC should be shipping soon!
- DIY CLEANSING
My first attempt at cleansing I tried to do it myself and it didn’t work at all. I was starving and had no idea how to nourish myself properly despite the fact I was following a menu I found online.
As I stated before, I think it’s important to have the support of a nutritionist to help explain your body’s reaction and how to cope with hunger. September from RCC will be offering coaching soon so you can do it yourself with assistance.
- BOTTOM LINE
I enjoy them all for different reasons. When experiencing each, I received the positive effects of cleansing and felt rejuvenated by the end.
If I had to choose ONE - I think for me RCC would be my favorite because I like all of the juices they provide in the day, and I need the midday smoothie and the evening cashew milk to keep me mentally satisfied.
You need to asses what your goals are and then review the menus to see which will help you accomplish them. On any cleanse, I suggest getting a colonic and maintaining a light exercise regimen to fully detox your body.
You’ll find there are so many benefits to cleansing. Notable improvements will occur in your health, skin, emotional well-being, stress level, and sleep schedule.
**Full Disclosure: BPC and RCC were provided for free. I received a 10% media discount for Organic Avenue.
Delicious Dish - Healthy Pizza!
(depending how light you go on the cheese…)
This is one of my favorite, go-to meals:
- Rustic Crust pizza crust
- Olive oil
- Tomato sauce or pesto
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 zucchini
- Shredded cheese
Drizzle some olive oil on the crust and spread it around. Put some tomato sauce or pesto on top. Layer thinly sliced zucchini and tomato slices and top with some shredded cheese. Sprinkle some basil leaves on top and some crushed pepper.
Pop in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 425 degrees.
It is absolutely delicious and takes no time to make. Another plus? It doesn’t feel like there’s a brick in your stomach minutes later.
A little fashion week break. But you know…being healthy is trendy ;)
The Incredible, Edible Egg
— By Nutritionista
Recently, I’ve rediscovered the versatility and deliciousness that is eggs. Though they have a bad rap, for non-vegans, eggs are actually one of nature’s perfect foods. First, though, let’s clear up some not-so-eggcellent rumors.
Myth: Eggs have a lot of cholesterol and are therefore bad for you.
Fact: Yes, relatively speaking, eggs do contain a lot of cholesterol, but it doesn’t go straight to your arteries. According to this Harvard Health article, for most people, only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood. The only large study to look at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease found no connection between the two.
Myth: You should avoid eating eggs if possible.
Fact: For most people, eating one egg a day is perfectly safe and healthy. Egg whites contain no cholesterol, so I usually combine 2-3 egg whites with one egg for optimal eggy flavor while still sticking to the guideline of one egg/day.
Myth: Eggs don’t have any redeeming qualities.
Fact: Eggscuse me?! This is completely untrue. Eggs contain some good (unsaturated) fat and if you buy the omega-3 enhanced eggs, you get some of those healthy fatty acids as well! The small adverse effect of the cholesterol in eggs is counterbalanced by other nutrients including antixoidants, folate, and B vitamins.
Myth: Making eggs is hard.
Fact: Only if you’re on Top Chef! Scrambled eggs are one of the easiest things to make and in my experience, pretty darn hard to mess up.
Now onto the eating portion of this post. Eggs can be made savory or sweet depending on your mood. Don’t relegate them to breakfast only! Here are some ideas to help you get your egg on (as a general rule, one egg = two egg whites):
- Scrambles: Be creative to avoid snooze-worthy scrambled eggs. Leftovers work great with egg dishes. I made an autumn scramble last night using leftover sweet potato, spinach, onion and goat cheese. Just saute a whole onion until it’s nearly translucent, add a cooked and chopped sweet potato, then add egg/egg whites, spinach, and goat cheese. I find that spinach cooks in about the same amount of time as the egg. It’s also just enough time for the cheese to get melty. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper if you like and you have yourself an easy, hearty dinner. You could also try this Southwest Egg Scramble recipe. I often add a splash of some kind of milk product to my eggs to bulk them up without adding a lot of calories.
- Sandwiches: These can go savory or sweet! Cook an egg sunny-side up and place it on an English muffin. Then, pick your toppings. For savory, you use fresh baby spinach, sliced tomato, and red onion. You could also experiment with adding egg to whatever kind of sandwich you like most (remember that amazing-looking creation from Spanglish?). On the sweeter side, use egg white only (microwave or fry) and top your Englush muffin with jam and/or nut butter.
- French toast: Drench whole grain bread in egg/egg whites and a bit of milk, then dredge in a mixture of dry ingredients like ground flaxseed, rolled oats, and spices. Heat the bread slices in a griddle or skillet until golden brown. Top with berries, Greek yogurt, or other fresh fruit. You can make an easy “syrup” by heating (microwave or stovetop) frozen berries with a squeeze of agave. If you do use maple syrup, get the real thing! That fake stuff is nasty.
- Salads: Hard boil eggs and use them as a topper for salads and/or to make a lovely nicoise. Watch out for caloric egg salad, though. A serving probably contains more than the one recommended egg and lots of mayo.
- Burgers: Eggs make a great binding ingredient for burgers, both vegetarian and non. Try my recipe for Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers!
- Mexican fare: Use eggs as the base for breakfast (or whatever) tacos/burritos by adding ingredients like salsa, avocado, black beans, cilantro, and cheese to basic scrambled eggs. Try delishyourdish’s recipe for huevos rancheros here. The protein in the eggs could replace the beef or other meat you’d normally use in dishes like that.
- Frittatas: These are easy to make and keep well in the fridge for convenient meals throughout the week. As with omelettes or scrambled eggs, you can really add whatever ingredients you like, but here’s a recipe to get you going.
BluePrint is now delivering organic raw dishes along with their juices.
This is a lettuce avocado spring roll and soba noodles with a spicy almond sauce they are serving at Robert Verdi’s Survival of the Chicest Lounge.
— By Nutritionista
Recently, I wrote in my Profile of a Healthy Eater that my favorite method of cooking is roasting/baking. Why? Because it’s so versatile, easy, and healthy. You can bake or roast almost anything, from vegetables to fruit to meat, nuts, and even grains with just a little bit of oil. All you need to bake or roast most things is a baking sheet, casserole dish, or piece of aluminum foil and an oven. Prepare your food item (usually with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper for savory dishes), stick it in the oven, and basically forget about it for 30 or 45 minutes. Another bonus? Minimal cleanup. Though there are a plethora of foods that taste amazing when baked or roasted, here are some of my favorite (EASY) dishes:
- Roasted chick peas: Add to salads, coat with curry sauce, or just eat them plain as a snack!
- Kale chips: These make a great snack or side dish when you want veggies but don’t want to put in much effort.
- Baked chicken tenders:Definitely as good or better than any you could get in a restaurant (and so much healthier).
- Sweet potato (or regular) baked fries: Great as a side dish for almost any meal.
- Whole sweet potatoes: I like eating half of an SP with my salads for a little more bulk.
- Salmon: Baking it brings out a more robust flavor, making it so tender and delicious.
- Layered lasagnas or casseroles: These take some prep, but are totally worth it and last a single eater or couple a few days to a week. They can also be frozen in individual tupperware containers for an easy microwave dinner at a later date.
- Tofu crispies: Baking the tofu gives it a crispier texture that works well in any dish.
- Baked plantains: Absolutely no added sugar necessary.
I’m not a big proponent of bars, but I’m trying to eat more bars without syrups instead of vegan cookies for my sweet fix. (It’s working)
Ingredients (all organic):
- Dried unsweetned coconut
- Natural cocoa
- Vanilla Extract
Weil by Nature’s Path Organic - $1.79 @ Whole Foods
Othe bars I love:
- Gnu Fiber Bars
- Eddie’s Energy
- Lara Bars
REMIX YOUR BREAKFAST: SAVORY OATS — By Nutritionista
Oatmeal for breakfast is a great option because it contains plenty of protein, fiber, and won’t leave you hungry before lunch. If I eat dry cereal, I find I’m soon hungry again. But for as much as I talk about how great oatmeal is and how many different items can be added to it (fruit, nut butters, squash or pumpkin purees, coconut, spices, flaxseed, etc.), I know regular old oatmeal can get tiring.
Recently, reader Kristen reminded me of another way of preparing oatmeal: savory style! If you think of oatmeal as a sort of rice or grain, it’s easy to see how it could work well as savory fare. As we’re approaching fall, savory oats in the morning could be a warm and hearty way to start your day (ugh, that rhymed… totally unintentional). If you’re going to go savory, I’d especially recommend using steel-cut oats instead of regular rolled oats for better texture. Some savory ideas to get you started:
- CLASSIC: A tiny dab of butter, salt, and pepper.
- CHEESY: All of the above with added sharp cheddar, parmesan, feta, or goat cheese. Use a strong cheese and a little will go a long way.
- ASIAN: Scallions, sesame seeds, and a splash of soy sauce. You could even experiment with adding tofu!
- FIESTA: Sauteed green peppers, onions, black beans, hot sauce, and a sprinkling of sharp cheddar.
- EGGS & BACON: Scramble eggs into oatmeal as you’re cooking (if you’re making stove top oats) and add bits of crispy turkey bacon cooked in the toaster oven or microwave. Another option is topping a bowl of oats with a sunnyside up egg.
- GREEK: Spinach, diced tomato, and feta.
- BURGERS: Using eggs as a binder, form your oatmeal into patties, season, and then lightly pan-fry.
- INDIAN: Chickpeas and curry powder.
- ITALIANO: Fresh or canned diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. You could also add some chicken sausage if you’re up for it.
With any of these recipes, if you want to really infuse some flavor, you can cook your oatmeal in fat-free chicken broth instead of water. I know some of you might not be up for this kind of food so early in the morning, so I recommend easing into savory oatmeal by starting with the Classic and then expanding from there. Think of savory oatmeal as an omelette. Anything you’d put in eggs would be good in oatmeal! Give savory oats a try and expand your breakfast horizon.