Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trim Down Tip

Sweet Potato Fries vs French Fries

Lots of restaurants have begun to offer a choice when menu items are served with french fries. Typically choices range from fruit or vegetable to rice or chips. However, many places are offering sweet potato fries as a swap. Sounds healthy, right? But are they?

In the raw form, a sweet potato has 110 calories and 4 g of fiber. A regular potato has around 130 calories and 2 g of fiber. Score one for the sweet potato.

Restaurants typically fry their potatoes--hence the name. So you can wager to bet a 4 oz serving of sweet potato fries or regular fries has around 240 calories and 11 g of fat. It's a tie. Some restaurants are required by law to use oils without trans fat, but either way, oil is high in fat and potatoes act as a sponge. It may be worth asking how the fries are prepared...but more often than not, the fryer is working overtime. 

If you are a lover of sweet potato fries. I have two ideas for you. First--buy some sweet potatoes and cut into the shape of fries (of course Trader Joe's sells them precut). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake on a cooking sheet at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Flip half way and be sure to use cooking spray. They are delicious and completely healthy.

My second idea--buy frozen sweet potato fries. My absolute favorite brand is by Alexia. Their spicy sweet potato fries are amazing and just 130 calories and 4 g of fat per serving. YUM. They are sold at grocery stores nationwide.

Choose wisely!


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Monday, September 27, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Honey


With all the talk about artificial sweeteners, I've noticed many people opting for healthier alternatives. So what's the deal with honey?


Great Lakes Select Honey, Clover, 32-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 3)Honey truly is made by bees. Provided you choose a good brand, honey should be 100% honey. It is said to be antibacterial and have other health benefits. One teaspoon of honey has 21 calories. It is basically the same as white sugar, except it is far sweeter. This means you need less honey to sweeten something than you would white sugar.


Honey is a fabulous sweetener in tea and tastes delicious in plain yogurt. The National Honey Board lists hundreds of recipes containing honey. I have yet to try any--but I think some will be on my list!


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Friday, September 24, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Trader Joe's Potato Pancakes


Recently, I have been on the lookout for new and interesting foods for my daughter to try. I'm trying hard to not let her become addicted to the typical kid foods like grilled cheese and hot dogs...but it is proving to be harder than I thought! So as I perused the aisles of Trader Joe's last week, I found Potato Pancakes and thought they were worth a shot. They were!


I think they taste just like homemade potato latkes. They are frozen and come in a box of 8. A serving of 2 pancakes has just 140 calories 6 g of fat and 2 g of fiber. Yum!! Serve with a side of apple sauce and you are good to go!


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Trim Down Tip

PlanetBox


Now that school is back in session it is time to start packing lunches again. It is truly one of my least favorite things to do. Plus, I never know if I am packing too much or too little. My dear friend Krista turned me on to a new product PlanetBox, which may solve my lunch packing nightmares. Although my husband may not be as excited as I am. 


The idea behind PlanetBox was to develop an eco-friendly lunch box that allows for a healthy meal. The box is made of stainless steel and broken into compartments designed to fit healthy serving sizes of various foods like sandwiches, fruit, vegetables and even a small dessert. Plus nothing touches or gets smooshed during transport. You can also purchase magnets to go on the box and a cooler bag for keeping things cold. Check out the products here.


Lastly--it's dishwasher safe--which I love!  


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Monday, September 20, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Pizza


A lot of people tell me that when trying to eat healthfully, they boycott certain foods. One that typically is in the mix? Pizza. It makes sense. Pizza can be full of hidden calories. Just the cheese alone can make a simple dinner your diet's worst nightmare. Think 400 calories or more and upwards of 15 grams of fat per slice. And who eats one slice?


That being said--pizza can be a great option, provided you choose wisely. 


1. When given the choice--always opt for thin crust. Thicker crust absorbs more oils and also contains more calories in general.


2. Ask for light on the cheese. I agree--pizza isn't pizza without cheese--but just asking for a little less can reduce your calorie intake by 200 calories (or more!). 


3. Stick to low calorie toppings like caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, grilled eggplant--you get the idea? Basically any vegetable is a great choice as long as it isn't breaded or fried. 


Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Bash - Gino's East Deep Dish Pizzas4. Number three leads me easily to number four. Stay away from meat toppings. Pepperoni, meatball, sausage--they just add up to lots of unnecessary calories and fat. Plus the cheese and dough will provide more than enough protein. If you have to have meat on your pizza, stick to grilled chicken.


5.  Order a green salad with your pizza and eat it first. Think lettuce, veggies, oil and vinegar. This is a great tip when eating any meal. Not only will you gain lots of vitamins from all of the veggies but you will also fill up your stomach with fiber allowing you to realize you are full before you get to the third (fourth?) slice!


So in short--thin crust, light cheese, veggie pizza with a salad on the side. At 200 calories per slice, your pizza night just got a whole lot healthier!




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Friday, September 17, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Skinnygirl Margarita


I love reality TV...it's sad but true. One of my favorites is Bethenny Frankel. She is hilarious, a cook and the creator of my new favorite beverage...the Skinnygirl Margarita. She did exactly what I wish I had thought of first!


Everyone loves a hearty drink--but who needs the calories that come along with it. The Skinnygirl Margarita is just 100 calories for 4 oz and tastes delicious. You can purchase it at most liquor stores and it comes already made--it doesn't get much easier. If you are out...just order it:



  • 2 oz of Clear Premium Tequila (count 1, 2 while you pour, no need for measuring)
  • Tiny splash of Orange Liquor
  • Juice of 4 Fresh Lime Wedge
Remember...a regular margarita can have upwards of 325 calories. Just remember to drink responsibly!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trim Down Tip

Please Don't Pass the Salt


I don't know how I have been writing this blog for close to a year (eek!) without having touched upon the importance of sodium in a diet. Sodium is essential to the body to function properly. It helps with fluid balance and helps your muscles to contract and relax. How much do you need, you may ask? Here is the shocker.


Glass Salt or Pepper ShakerA healthy person needs no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day. That's just about one teaspoon of salt. Crazy. A person with heart related issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or heart disease should take in no more than 1500 mg per day. Some doctors may recommend less than that.


What kind of foods are high in sodium? Think packaged food like canned soups, frozen meals, condiments, canned fruits and vegetables. But sodium is also present in foods like milk, cheese, meat, shellfish and even in celery. 


Excess sodium can lead to water retention which means bloating plus over time you can develop high blood pressure and even a heart attack or stroke. That is no good, in my opinion. So limit your sodium intake...

  • Read food labels--and better yet --eat more fresh foods that are naturally low in sodium. 
  • Hide the salt shaker. There is no reason for it, ever! Learn to flavor your meals with various herbs and spices and you won't ever miss it. Loving salt is an acquired taste so reduce it gradually and I promise you won't miss it.
  • Choose low sodium soups, breads and frozen products. They are out there and actually taste very good.
  • Eat fresh vegetables and fruits whenever possible. If unavailable, frozen is just as good and sometimes better. Stay away from canned. Always.
  • Limit condiments. Soy sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, mustard--they all contain high amounts of sodium for their serving size.
So do it...hide your salt shaker...now!


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Monday, September 13, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Acai Berry


If you are into new health products (which I assume you are since you are reading this blog), you have probably heard of the Acai (pronounced ahh-sigh-e) Berry. Producers of the "magic" berry boast huge health claims--but are they really true? Plus--what is it?


100% PURE Perfect ACAI Berry, ACAI Capsules 120 Caps!The acai berry is a large Brazillian berry. They are rarely, if ever, sold in stores. Instead, it is sold primarily as juice or supplements. The acai berry contains lots of antioxidants, similar to that of other berries. It is also high in unsaturated fats--which is really unique. 


The catch is that none of the health claims associated with acai berries have been proven true. Makers of acai berry products have come under fire for making false health claims. Producers have claimed that the acai juices can reduce the risk of several diseases, aid with weight loss or  help you look younger. Don't believe a word of it (sorry!). None of these claims have been verified through science. Plus, the high fat content of the berry certainly won't help you lose weight.


My take, if you are curious about acai juice or if you like it--read the label. Watch for calorie, fat and sugar content per serving. I think you would be much better off with a piece of fresh fruit or a cup of berries. You'll not only satisfy a sweet taste but reap the benefits of the fiber and nutrient content.




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Friday, September 10, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Immaculate Baking Co. Organic Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough


It was a wild Friday night, my husband was working and I was home hanging out with my sister. Of course I had a craving for chocolate chip cookies so she headed to the store (I know, she's the best) to pick up my favorite quick fix dough. One problem--the grocery store was out. Little did I know she came home with my newest Delicious Discovery, instead!


Immaculate Baking Co. makes amazing products. Their organic cookie dough is fabulous. Two chocolate chip cookies are just 140 calories. Granted they are about the size of a half dollar--but they hit the spot. The ingredients are all natural plus they are based in Wakefield, MA which is pretty cool. They are sold at Whole Foods and several other locations


Check them out. I'm on the hunt for their other products and will probably do a follow up soon!


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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Trim Down Tip

Healthy Ideas


These days, just about everyone is looking for healthy options at the supermarket. My best advice is to shop primarily in the perimeter of the store. That means avoid the aisles. The fresh food like produce, meat, dairy etc is always displayed on the perimeter of the store. But, what about when you have to go up and down the aisles? How do you choose?


Melissa & Doug Shopping CartMany grocery chains have come up with a labeling system to denote the healthiest options in their store. Stop and Shop recently came out with "Healthy Ideas". It is a system that labels over 5,000 items throughout the store as healthy choices. The company calculated the information based on guidelines from the USDA and the FDA. See here for a longer explanation. 


The system is great--for the most part. However you will find things like light potato chips on the list...but light chips are better than full fat chips! Find out if a store near you has a similar system in place or in the works. If not--ask for one. in the daily struggle to be healthy...every little bit helps!




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