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Spring has Sprung! Motivation to Make Healthy Changes

Now that the New Year’s Resolutions have faded, it’s time to find new motivation to get healthy.  Since it’s getting warmer out and we are all coming out of hibernation, let’s make some diet changes for the better.

One of the healthiest changes you can make is to add more vegetables to your diet.  If you have read a few of my posts, you know that I’m a big fan of vegetables.  It’s not because I’m a dietitian and I’m supposed to tell you to eat them.  It’s because they are delicious, full of vitamins and minerals, low in calories and high in fiber.  The fiber will help you feel full, which can help with weight loss and weight maintenance (as well as keep you regular).

If you don’t share my love and enthusiasm for veggies, you are not alone.  Sadly, many people do not eat the recommended 6-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  Here are some ways to get more veggies in you and your family:

  1. Keep trying!  It can take 10-15 tastes of something to like it.  So don’t give up on those veggies!
  2. Cook vegetables in different ways.  Often the texture, not the flavor, is what you may not like about a vegetable.  You may prefer your veggies raw, a little cooked or really cooked.  Also, instead of steaming or boiling your vegetables, try roasting them in the oven with a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings, the texture and flavor is great!
  3. Sip on soup.  You can throw a bunch of vegetables into your favorite soup (like peas and carrots in chicken noodle soup) or make a pureed soup (like butternut squash or tomato soup).  If you buy canned soups, look for low sodium options.
  4.  Plan your vegetables.  Often vegetables are thought of last and then you run out of time to add them to your meal.  For quick vegetable side dishes you can microwave fresh, frozen or canned vegetables quickly.  Cut up raw vegetables, like carrots, celery and bell peppers, in advance so you can just grab and go with them.
  5. Hide them!  It works for kids, it can work for adults too.  Chop vegetables and cook well in a pasta sauce.  Add spinach to scrambled eggs or peas to mac n cheese.  Cook and chop cauliflower and mash with potatoes.

Try this recipe to get lots of veggies in a classic spring pasta dish:

Garden Pasta Salad  (Serves 6)

A colorful mix of bell pepper, carrot, cucumber and grape tomatoes with flavorful kalamata olives and basil. Serve on a bed of spinach or spring mix.  Add canned tuna or cooked chicken for a complete meal in one dish!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat rotini
  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon red-wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced seeded and peeled cucumber
  • 10 chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or parsley)

Directions:

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8-10 minutes or according to package directions.  Drain and rinse under cold running water.
  • Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, oil, vinegar (or lemon juice), garlic, salt and pepper until smooth.  Add pasta and toss to coat.  Add rest of ingredients; toss to coat well.
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 30-45 minutes.
  • Serve cold on a bed of spinach or spring mix.  May add tuna or chicken for complete meal.

Nutrition Information per serving:

151 calories, 13g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: All exercises and other forms of physical activity can be dangerous, especially if performed without medical advice, proper supervision and/or pre-exercise evaluation. The videos, techniques, ideas, and exercise suggestions presented on this website are not intended to be professional training advice. Always consult your physician or health care professional before performing any exercise, especially if you have any chronic or recurring condition, and/or if you are pregnant, nursing, or elderly. All exercises you perform at your own responsibility and at your own risk.

Slow and Low Can Be Quick and Healthy

Between work, running  kids to and from after sworking-momchool activities, and the holiday shopping that’s around the corner, time is often in short supply this time of year.  Finding a few extra minutes to cook a healthy meal during the week can be challenging and often running through a drive-thru seems like the only option.

Don’t worry, it’s your friendly, household crock-pot to the rescue! The slow cooker is a great way to get a delicious and nutritious meal on the table in minutes, no drive-thru needed!

Slow CookerThere are so many healthy crock-pot recipes out there. Some are one-pot meals with protein, carbs and veggies all cooked together.  Other recipes just ook the protein, like a roast.  To balance out your meal, try stocking the freezer with steamable bags of your favorite vegetables and brown rice for quick and nourishing sides.  Low carb tortillas and bags of salad are other side options to complete your meal.

Try this healthier version of a classic, stuffed peppers.  It’s a super-momone-pot meal that takes just minutes to assemble.  To save time in the morning, you can stuff the peppers the night before then in the morning, put them in the crock-pot with the broth.  Dinner will be waiting for you when you get home from work or running the kiddos around after school. And now you’re the hero of dinnertime!

 

Stuffed Bell Peppers    (serves 4, 1 stuffed bell pepper each)

crock-pot-stuffed-peppers

Ingredients:

  • 4 large bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms, fresh or canned
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium fat free broth (vegetable, chicken or beef)
  • Optional toppings; fresh cilantro, guacamole, salsa, plain Greek yogurt

Instructions:
1. Cut just the tops off of peppers and remove seeds and ribs from inside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine lean ground meat, cooked rice or quinoa, diced tomatoes and seasonings. (uncooked meat works just fine)
3. Pour broth in the bottom of the slow cooker and turn slow-cooker to low or high setting.
4. Fill peppers completely with ground meat mixture. Transfer peppers to slow-cooker, cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 8 hours.
5. Serve stuffed bell peppers with a salad.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 246   Carbohydrates: 20g   Protein: 27g   Fiber: 4g   Sodium: 390mg

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: All exercises and other forms of physical activity can be dangerous, especially if performed without medical advice, proper supervision and/or pre-exercise evaluation. The videos, techniques, ideas, and exercise suggestions presented on this website are not intended to be professional training advice. Always consult your physician or health care professional before performing any exercise, especially if you have any chronic or recurring condition, and/or if you are pregnant, nursing, or elderly. All exercises you perform at your own responsibility and at your own risk.

Plan, Plan, Plan

So you have made your New Year’s Resolution to start eating   healthier.  Great!  Now what? 

time-to-plan

Now it’s time to start planning.  Planning a weekly menu is the key to successful healthy eating.  Take a little time to write down what you will eat for each meal and snack, then make your grocery list from your menu.  You can use a menu sheet like the example here to help menu-planneryou. When you hit the grocery store, stick to your list while you shop. Getting yourself into the habit of doing this weekly will save you time, money, stress and calories!

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Look at your schedule for the week to see what you have time to cook and when you don’t.  Days you don’t have a lot of time, use your slow cooker or have leftovers.
  2. For a budget friendly menu, check store ads for sales and coupons.
  3. Plan balanced meals that include protein, vegetables and fruits, whole grains and dairy.
  4. Save your menus and rotate them out.  Make sure to note where to find the recipes you use.
  5. Cook once, eat twice.  Double some of your recipes and either eat leftovers later in the week or freeze for a future, quick meal.

Here is one of my favorite quick and healthy weeknight meals. 

2-ingredient-slow-cooker-mexican-chickenTwo Ingredient Salsa Chicken

(Makes about 2 ½ to 3 cups shredded chicken and servings will depend on how you’re using the chicken)

Ingredients:
1 lb. (about 2) raw boneless chicken breasts
1 ½ to 2 cups salsa, your favorite

Instructions:
1. Place whole chicken breasts, which have been seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper, in your slow cooker and cover with salsa. Toss chicken with salsa until well coated.
2. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours. Remove each chicken breast out of the slow cooker and onto a cutting board or plate to shred with a fork. Add shredded chicken back to the slow cooker and toss with remaining salsa and juices. Serve immediately in your desired recipe, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
My favorite way to serve this is over brown rice and a sprinkle of shredded cheese and avocado chunks.  I like to pair this meal with a simple green salad, making the dressing with salsa and a little olive oil for a southwest kick.
For more planning tips, check out MyPlate, MyWins website: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins-tips-meal-planning-made-easy

Happy Planning!

goal-without-a-plan

 

 

Disclaimer: All exercises and other forms of physical activity can be dangerous, especially if performed without medical advice, proper supervision and/or pre-exercise evaluation. The videos, techniques, ideas, and exercise suggestions presented on this website are not intended to be professional training advice. Always consult your physician or health care professional before performing any exercise, especially if you have any chronic or recurring condition, and/or if you are pregnant, nursing, or elderly. All exercises you perform at your own responsibility and at your own risk.

New Year’s Resolution – Keep it Simple

Start on January 1

Changing habits are hard!  No matter what your New Year’s resolutions may be, statistically speaking, you probably won’t achieve it.  I don’t mean to be downer, but only 8% of people are successful with their New Year’s Resolutions.  Since losing weight is  the top pick every year, let’s figure out a way to beat the odds!

  1. Break down your goal into simple, monthly steps.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight” as your goal,  make your first goal to change something in your diet for the better.  Maybe that’s decreasing the amount of soda you drink from 5 a day to 1 a day or if you eat out a lot , your goal is to cook at home 4 days a week.
  2.  Make your goals realistic.  You want to make changes you can stick with for a lifetime.  Cutting out something that you love, like dessert, probably won’t last forever.  Instead of cutting it out completely, just modify it to be healthier, such as only having dessert 1-2 times a week. change ahead
  3.  Just start!  Often getting started is the hardest part.  We can make excuses as to it not being a good time, but life usually doesn’t slow down, so just start.  Once you take action toward your goal, the momentum starts and you are more likely to continue toward your goal.
  4. Accountability.  Find someone or something to help keep you accountable.  If there is a family member or co-worker that has similar goals, try working together to reach your goals.   They could be your work out buddy or lunch buddy, or maybe you just touch base on the phone weekly to see how each other is doing and keep each other motivated. If you don’t have someone, use an app, website or journal that you can input your goals and it will help you see your progress.

The USDA is launching a new program on 12/28/16, called My   Plate, My Wins!  You can go to their website  at  https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins for tips and tools to help make small, practical changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Wishing you health and happiness in 2017!

healthy-new-year1

 

 

 

Disclaimer: All exercises and other forms of physical activity can be dangerous, especially if performed without medical advice, proper supervision and/or pre-exercise evaluation. The videos, techniques, ideas, and exercise suggestions presented on this website are not intended to be professional training advice. Always consult your physician or health care professional before performing any exercise, especially if you have any chronic or recurring condition, and/or if you are pregnant, nursing, or elderly. All exercises you perform at your own responsibility and at your own risk.

Take Control this Holiday Season

holiday-pic‘Tis the season to overindulge!  Let’s break the cycle this year.  Enjoying the holidays doesn’t mean all rules go out the window for the month of December.  One day of indulgence is fine, just not a whole month.  Here are some tips to help you avoid the common holiday weight gain:

  1. Keep holiday candy and cookies in a cupboard or pantry.  Out of site, out of mind (hopefully).  Leaving goodies on the counter makes it tempting to eat a little every time you walk by, before you know it the bowl is empty.
  2. Focus on protein foods.  Protein will help you feel full and satisfied longer.
  3. Don’t save up your calories by skipping meals.  This never works.  Eat a high protein, lower carb breakfast and lunch before the holiday party.  This will help you from overindulging.
  4. Share.  Give away or share holiday treats given to you.  Also, give away leftovers to family and friends or freeze them for a  later time.
  5. Bring a high protein, healthy appetizer to the party.  This way you know you have at least one healthy alternative to all the high calorie, high carb foods.  Here are some appetizer ideas to bring to the party:
    • Deviled Eggsdeviled-eggs
    • Shrimp Cocktail
    • Mini Meatballs with Marinara
    • Hummus with vegetables
    • Prosciutto wrapped asparagus or cantaloupe
    • Dips made with plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise
    • Crispy Chickpeas (recipe below)

crispy-chickpeasCrispy Chickpeas

Rinse and drain 2 cans of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Spread on a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Dry well, remove towels and let sit out for about an hour to thoroughly dry.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat evenly with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and seasonings of choice (ex: garlic powder, cayenne pepper,  paprika, curry powder, rosemary). Bake for 30 minutes, stirring  occasionally.  Turn oven off and leave chickpeas in oven for an hour to get crispy.  Store in airtight container for 3-4 days.  4 servings.      236 calories, 9g protein, 20g carbs, 8g fiber.

Wishing a happy and healthy holiday season to all!

 

Disclaimer: All exercises and other forms of physical activity can be dangerous, especially if performed without medical advice, proper supervision and/or pre-exercise evaluation. The videos, techniques, ideas, and exercise suggestions presented on this website are not intended to be professional training advice. Always consult your physician or health care professional before performing any exercise, especially if you have any chronic or recurring condition, and/or if you are pregnant, nursing, or elderly. All exercises you perform at your own responsibility and at your own risk.