Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trim Down Tip

Take a Day Off!


I said it.  You heard me.  It's healthy to take some time off from the gym.  Your body needs time to relax and more importantly recover from exercise.  Rest is actually crucial - especially after weight training.


When you are using weights, your body actually breaks down muscle (I know--it's counterintuitive).  So, it isn't until you are sleeping or relaxing that your body begins to rebuild muscle.  If you don't give the body enough time to recover--you will have less than optimal results.  Recovery time allows for better muscle tone.  


The same goes for cardio.  I recommend working out 2-3 days in a row and then taking a day off.  This doesn't mean you should sit on the couch all day but you don't have to head to the gym, which is always a plus.  You should always find ways to be active everyday, but it doesn't have to be as intense as a typical workout.  Take the extra hour a day for yourself.  Your body and your mind will thank you.




**There will be no post on Friday.  Happy Easter!*


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Monday, March 29, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Bok Choy


Bok choy is one of those vegetables that I really love--and very rarely cook.  It is the perfect compliment to any protein--especially fish.  Also known as Chinese cabbage, it is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.  Just one cup or raw, shredded bok choy has 9 calories.  So basically, you can eat a bushel and not worry about it!


When buying bok choy look for dark leafy greens and white stalks.  Stay away from leaves with brown spots.  It doesn't last very long--2 days in the fridge - so when you buy it...use it.  Cut the leaves off of the head and slice stalks before cooking... or just buy baby bok choy which is ready to use.


My favorite way to eat bok choy is stir fried Asian style.  A little low-sodium soy sauce and some spices and you are good to go.  This recipe is a great--your guests will be very impressed!  Instead of your usual salad--serve up some bok choy.  You'll be glad you did.






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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Delicious Discovery


Trader Joe's Breaded Chickenless Nuggets

**This post is from Friday, March 26th.  It deleted itself, so I reposted**

Another week...another new find at Trader Joe's.  I'm seriously contemplating changing devoting this blog solely to the yummy products at my favorite grocery store.  Anyways...I was perusing the aisles, looking for something for lunch.  I made my way to the frozen aisle and a box of chicken nuggets (or so I thought) caught my eye.

It wasn't until I returned home that I realized they were chicken-less nuggets (i.e. soy based and vegetarian).  So, I popped them in the oven and 15 minutes later I had myself a very tasty treat!  The nuggets are delicious!

A serving is 4 nuggets, 130 calories, 5 grams of unsaturated fat, 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein.  There are 4 servings per box.  Let's be honest, 4 nuggets is not nearly enough--so feel free to double up if you need to!  They are inexpensive and great to have in your freezer.  So stock up--quick!



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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trim Down Tip

Chew Gum


You have the munchies.  It's after lunch, post mid-day snack and before dinner.  So it's either go for the chips or you don't.  Don't.  Just chew gum.


Gum is my favorite trick.  Chewing it makes you feel like you are eating and shortly after you start...you will almost always forget you were hungry. In fact, this isn't just something I've thought of.  Studies have found that chewing gum can suppress appetite and curb cravings.  Just remember -- always chew sugarless -- your dentist will be proud.


My two favorite brands:  Five and Stride.  Five comes in a really cool box (minor detail) and there are 7 different flavors.  My favorite is Rain.  Spearmint is the best Stride flavor, in my opinion.  Both have long lasting flavors so you are good to go either way.






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Monday, March 22, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Hummus


For those of you who don't know...hummus is the best dip/spread ever...seriously.  Hummus is a Middle Eastern recipe.  The primary ingredients are chickpeas and olive oil.  Typically it is served with pita bread and vegetables--making it a tasty and nutritious treat.


One serving of hummus, 2 tablespoons, comes in at around 50 calories and 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat.  Hummus is easy to make and can be doctored up with a few different ingredients (think lemon, garlic or artichokes).  However, if you are looking for a quick fix--head to the grocery store and pick up a tub of hummus in one of the many, many flavors on the market.  Tribe and Cedar's are my favorite brands.


I love substituting hummus for condiments.  I spread it on a veggie burger or on a turkey sandwich instead of mustard and cheese.  It puts a new twist on your every day lunch and adds healthy fats and bold flavors.  Of course, it's just as good with pita chips or just about any fresh veggie.  If you haven't tried it yet, close the computer and do so immediately.  If you have...keep on eating!






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Friday, March 19, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Coconut Water


Have you ever heard of coconut water?  I'll be honest, I hadn't until recently.  Some friends (Thank you, Grab's!) turned me on to it a few weeks ago.  Then...it started to pop up everywhere.  So, what is it?


Coconut water is the clear liquid that comes from the coconut.  It has been popular in Brazil for years.  It's a mix between water and a sports drink.  Coconut water is loaded with electrolytes -- it has 15 times more potassium than a banana -- that's a lot.  One 11.2 oz box has 60 calories and no fat.  Plus, it's really yummy.  As a disclaimer--if you plan to replace water with coconut water post workout--it isn't really necessary unless you are training for over an hour.  But, it you are choosing between coconut water and a sports drink (i.e. Gatorade or Powerade)--choose coconut water.  Every time.


There are three major brands of coconut water available in the US: ZICO (Coke is a major investor), O.N.E. (Pepsi is the U.S. distributor), and Vita Coco.  Each brand has various flavors...some that are better than others.  It can be a little pricey...one 12-pack is around $21.  Just remember it isn't something that should replace good old water.  Just try it...you will definitely enjoy it!






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Delicious Discovery

Trader Joe's Breaded Chickenless Nuggets


Another week...another new find at Trader Joe's.  I'm seriously contemplating devoting this blog solely to the yummy products at my favorite grocery store.  Anyways...I was perusing the aisles, looking for something for lunch.  I made my way to the frozen aisle and a box of chicken nuggets (or so I thought) caught my eye.


It wasn't until I returned home that I realized they were chicken-less nuggets (i.e. soy based and vegetarian).  So, I popped them in the oven and 15 minutes later I had myself a very tasty treat!  The nuggets are delicious!


A serving is 4 nuggets, 130 calories, 5 grams of unsaturated fat, 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein.  There are 4 servings per box.  Let's be honest, 4 nuggets is not nearly enough--so feel free to double up if you need to!  They are inexpensive and great to have in your freezer.  So stock up--quick!






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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trim Down Tip

Weight and Resistance Training


I have stressed the importance of exercise in leading a healthy life over the past few months.  Cardio is important.  What is more important?  Weight and resistance training.  Just 2-3 20-minute session per week can really make a difference. 


As we age, our metabolism naturally begins to slow down.  Adding weights to your current workout can help to increase metabolism resulting in more calorie burn.  Um, sign me up.  I'm not talking about body-building weight lifting here.  Just 5-10 pound weights or a resistance band.  If have never lifted weights before--consult with someone who knows what they are talking about before you do.  The people that work at your gym are usually more than willing to help or purchase a workout DVD.  My favorite DVD is Jillian-Michaels-30-Day-Shred - believe me it's not easy.


Weight and resistance training also helps to maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.  The stronger your bones are, the less chance you have of a fracture.  Read more here.  Plus, you will look more toned and sculpted and who doesn't want that?






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Monday, March 15, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Eggs


I'll say it again...I love breakfast.  My favorite breakfast food?  Eggs.  Hands down.  Eggs are the perfect food--versatile, high in protein and plain old delicious.  Plus--they don't have to be eaten at breakfast--eggs make a great lunch, dinner or snack.


One large egg has 75 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein.  They have gotten a bad rap for being high in cholesterol (212 mg per egg).  It is recommended that a healthy person takes in 300 mg of cholesterol per day.  Those with high cholesterol levels should take in less than 200 mg per day.  If you are worried about your intake, remember this--all of the cholesterol is found in the yolk.  So, use primarily egg whites in your cooking along with the occasional yolk.  Whole eggs in moderation are a great addition to a well-rounded diet.  Curious about eggs?  Check out the American Egg Board.


So, how should you eat your eggs?  Well...there are too many ways to discuss in this blog.  My personal favorites:


1.  Poached - A poached egg on top of an English muffin.  Add a side of fruit and it's the perfect breakfast.  Try one poached egg and one poached egg white if you want more.


2.  Omelet - Two egg whites and one egg = one perfect omelet.  Fill it with veggies, turkey bacon and/or low fat cheese and you will feel like you are in a booth at your local diner.


3.  Hard Boiled - The perfect way to make eggs portable.  Boil a dozen on Sunday and store them in your fridge for the entire week.  Of course, Trader Joe's sells a dozen eggs that are already hard boiled which is even easier!






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Friday, March 12, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Vita-Muffins and Vita-Tops


I love cake.  Thus, I love muffins.  They are basically the same thing--only muffins are touted as a breakfast treat and sometimes referred to as healthy or low fat.  My personal estimation is that 95% of the so-called healthy muffins are quite the opposite.  Part of the 5%--the wonderful bakers at Vitalicious!


Vitalicious is in the business of muffin making--except there muffins actually are healthy.  VitaMuffins are loaded with vitamins and mineral and only 100 calories per serving.  There are 2oz muffins and 4 oz muffins (know that the 4oz muffins are 200 calories each).  Each has 5-6 grams of fiber too!  My favorite are the BlueBran and the Deep Chocolate (clearly) --but I've tried them all and they are delicious!


Everyone knows the best part of a muffin is the top.  So, if you agree, try VitaTops.  There are four different chocolate versions (yum!), my favorite of which is the Chocolate Peanut Butter.  Plus there are other blueberry, apple, corn and cranberry versions all of which are great.  At just 100 calories each-- you can't beat it.


VitaMuffins and VitaTops are great for breakfast or just a mid-day snack.  You can purchase them online or find them in the freezer section of some grocery stores.  Click here to find a store near you.  They are much less expensive if you buy them online--so if you are going to try them, I recommend going that route.  Split them with a friend--I promise you will go back for more!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Trim Down Tip







Brown Bag It

This tip is not only going to help you save our waistline but also save some pennies!  Let's set the scene: It's lunchtime and you are standing in the cafeteria (or scoping out the various quick service restaurants nearby).  What's for lunch today?  Mexican? Pizza? Chinese?  Ten dollars later, you are not that satisfied and probably 500 calories over budget.  

Sound familiar?  I've been there...many times.  It's really hard to stick to your healthy eating routine when you are surrounded by 5 different food stations filled with high calorie goodies calling your name.  What's the solution?  Brown-bag it.

It can be a total pain in the neck to pack your own lunch.  Seriously.  However, doing so can help to save you hundreds of calories and lots of money!  I suggest packing a lunch the night before.  No one ever has enough time in the morning to put a lunch together... and if you wait until the last minute, you'll be standing in line at the cafeteria 9 out of 10 times.  

So choose a day and head to the grocery store.  Fill your refrigerator with your favorite bread, sandwich fillings, fruit, salad--whatever it might be.  You have control over whatever goes into that bag--so you know exactly how much you are eating instead of guestimating how many calories are in the cheeseburger and fries.  

Need some ideas?  At the end of the week, make a big salad with the leftover fruit, veggies and protein in the fridge.  Pack yourself some snacks to avoid the mid-day munchies.  Purchase some inexpensive containers so that fruit and vegetables stay fresh and don't get squashed.  Make it appetizing and vary it up--lunchtime will never be the same.


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Monday, March 8, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Arugula


Salad can be pretty boring.  Sometimes, it tastes like water, which doesn't make it all that exciting.  So I suggest trying to spice up your lettuce--and there is no better lettuce than arugula (in my humble opinion).  


Three cups of arugula have 20 calories.  You can eat it all day if you want to.  It is loaded with Vitamin A, K, and folic acid and high in potassium, iron, calcium and zinc.  Also known as rocket lettuce, arugula is a spicy lettuce--it tastes almost peppery.  


Arugula can be found in most major grocery stores.  Look for crisp greens and be sure the stems don't look slimy.  When the lettuce is bad, it has a very potent smell.  


My favorite way to enjoy arugula is a plain salad with fresh parmesan cheese, lemon juice and olive oil.  Yum!   






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Friday, March 5, 2010

Delicious Discovery

The Laughing Cow


Who doesn't love cheese?  Anyone?  I didn't think so.  However, it can be pretty hard to stick to a healthy diet when you feel the need to add cheese to everything...sandwiches, pasta, pizza etc.  Thanks to the people at Laughing Cow--eating cheese and sticking to your diet is a whole lot easier.


Laughing Cow specializes in what I like to call "portable cheese".  Mini Babybel comes in 5 varieties--original, light, gouda, bonbel and cheddar.  The light version is delicious and has just 50 calories and 3 grams of fat.  It comes wrapped up in a red wax coating, which prevents it from getting squished in your lunch.  It's great to pair with some almonds or with fruit.  


The Laughing Cow wedges are equally delicious.  It is much softer, spreadable cheese.  There are 4 varieties: swiss, light swiss, light garlic and herb and light french onion.  One light wedge has just 35 calories and 2 grams of fat.  It is yummy.  I promise that one wedge goes a long long way.  Spread it on a sandwich or on a cracker.  You will think you are cheating on your diet-- it's that decadent.  


Laughing Cow is sold in most grocery stores.  I like to buy it at BJ's--it comes in a 3 pack so you don't have to keep running to the store to stock up.  So go ahead...have a little bit of cheese!






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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trim Down Tip



Find a Buddy

I will be honest...I do enjoy exercise.  For me, it is an hour or so of alone time where I can think and I almost always finish feeling refreshed.  I know this isn't true for everyone.  For some it is a chore  -- every single day.  Don't worry, there are days -- especially when it is cold outside or far too early in the morning -- when I have negative amounts of interest in lacing up my sneakers and heading to the gym.  These are the days when I need to shake it up a bit. 

My favorite way to boost my willingness to pound the pavement -- finding a workout buddy.  Having someone to encourage you is great.  Having someone you are committed to meeting and can't bail on--that's even better.  Whether it is just going for a walk outside or meeting for a spin class at the gym, exercising with a friend is a great way to increase motivation.  

So, if you already hit snooze this morning…don't worry.  Just call your buddy and see if they want to join you for a workout later.  If nothing else, you can moan and groan together!



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Monday, March 1, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Vitamin D


Vitamin D isn't a food.  I know that.  However, it is component some foods and is a vitamin worth discussing.  It seems as though there is a new study detailing the enormous health benefits of vitamin D every day.  So what's the fuss?


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that isn't readily available in many foods but is added to foods like dairy products.  The body produces vitamin D when exposed to sun.  Many of us do not get enough sun year round to make the optimal amount of the vitamin.  Vitamin D is essential in calcium absorption, bone mineralization and growth and helps to prevent osteoporosis.  The adequate intake for vitamin D is just 200IU for people ages 19-50 and 400IU for those aged 51-70.  Many scientists and vitamin D activists believe this is far below the healthy level for the vitamin.  


Vitamin D has been show to be beneficial in preventing cancer, bone loss and Alzheimer's Disease.  For more information on research, check out the Vitamin D Council.  I could go on and on about the importance of vitamin D in your diet.  Check with your doctor and ask how much vitamin D you should be taking.  You can purchase supplements at any local pharmacy.  I promise this won't be the last you hear about the super vitamin D.  






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