Tips for Healthier Game Days

Football season is here! Which also means most of us are spending weekends sitting on the couch, mindlessly munching on greasy Buffalo wings and cheesy nachos while cheering for our team. Enjoying the game doesn’t have to mean packing on the pounds. Here are a few tips and some “Figure Weight Loss friendly” recipes to help you stay on track.

Healthier Game Day Tips:

• Exercise before games start. Go for a morning walk or head to the gym right after breakfast.
• Use fresh vegetables for dipping as opposed to chips, crackers and breads – celery, carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and cucumber.
• Make lettuce wraps instead of sliders and sandwiches. Use a soft lettuce such as Bibb lettuce. This would work for burgers, pulled pork, grilled chicken, etc.
• Bake or grill wings instead of frying them.
• Avoid mindlessly munching. When the game has you at the edge of your seat you’re likely to absentmindedly eat the entire plate of nachos without even realizing it. Portion food onto small plates rather than eating from the serving dishes to avoid overeating during the nail-biting moments. It is even better to eat when the game isn’t on (half-time, pre or post game).
• Avoid drinking your calories. Keep water at your side during the game instead of sodas, juices and alcoholic beverages.
• During commercial breaks get up and move around. Take a short walk during half time. Or you could have a friendly competition with your friends – If your team gets a first down your friends cheering for the other team have to do 10 push-ups and vice versa.
• If you’re tailgating or watching the game at a friend’s home, offer to bring a few sensible dishes so you have some control over your own menu.

See example recipes below: 

Salt and Vinegar Zucchini Chips
Makes 8 servings

3 medium zucchini
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp salt (coarse sea salt recommended)

1. Slice zucchini as thinly as possible; may use a mandolin. Place in large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar.
3. Add oil and vinegar mixture to zucchini, and toss.
4. If using a dehydrator, add zucchini in even layers to the dehydrator, then sprinkle with salt. Drying time will vary from 8-14 hours. Alternatively, zucchini may be dried in oven: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay zucchini evenly, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 200° F for 2-3 hours, rotating halfway through cooking time.
5. Store chips in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/8th recipe)
Calories: 35 Carbs: 1g Fiber: 0g Protein: 0g


Cauliflower Nachos
Makes 8 Servings

2 small heads cauliflower, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chili powder
1 cup Colby-Jack cheese, shredded
½ cup salsa
½ cup Greek yogurt, plain

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Add cauliflower to a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, cumin, paprika and chili powder and toss to coat. Roast in oven until tender and golden (about 20-25 minutes).
3. Top with cheese and return to oven until melted (about 5 minutes).
4. Top with salsa and Greek yogurt.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/8th recipe):
Calories: 141 Carbs: 7g Fiber: 3g Protein: 8g


Broccoli Cheesy “Bread”
Makes 8 Servings

3 cups riced broccoli
1 large egg
1 ½ cups mozzarella, shredded
¼ cup parmesan, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup marinara sauce

1. Preheat oven to 425F and line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Microwave riced broccoli for 1 minute to steam. Carefully ring out extra moisture from the broccoli using paper towel.
3. Transfer broccoli to large bowl and add egg, 1 cup mozzarella, parmesan, garlic and oregano. Transfer dough to baking sheet and shape into thin, round crust.
4. Bake until golden and dried out (about 20 minutes). Top with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and bake until cheese is melted and crust is crispy (about 10 minutes).
5. Garnish with pepper flakes and serve warm with marinara.

Nutrition Information (1/8th recipe):
Calories: 103 Protein: 9g Carbs: 4g Fiber: 1g






Toasting Pumpkin Seeds

It’s the time of year when people everywhere are celebrating the season by carving pumpkins. But as you carve your spooky masterpiece, don’t discard the pumpkin seeds!

Toasted pumpkin seeds are a delicious and healthful snack.

One ounce of pumpkin seeds provides 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of fat (1 gram saturated, 4 grams unsaturated).

To toast your pumpkin seeds, first rinse to remove pulp and strings. Spread seeds on a baking sheet that has been coated
with non-stick cooking spray or drizzle a small amount of olive oil over seeds. Bake at 325°F for about 30 minutes or
until lightly toasted. Stir occasionally during cooking. Take a look at your spice rack and try a seasoning on your
toasted seeds such as garlic powder or Cajun seasoning.


Vampire or Vitamin Deficiency?

As Halloween is fast approaching, we thought we would share this “spooky” tale of how poor food choices might have led to the rise of vampires.

Legends of vampires were likely developed from communities with increasing fear of disease. Eighteenth and nineteenth century villagers used their belief in fables, such as vampires, to explain the unknown. Several diseases have been linked to the creation of vampire folklore including rabies, tuberculosis and pellagra. Pellagra is a dietary deficiency of niacin. Niacin (Vitamin B3) turns food into energy and helps keep your nervous system, digestive system and skin healthy. Sources include yeast, milk, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Pellagra became a common illness after American corn was introduced to Europe. Europeans shifted from eating primarily rye and wheat to corn. As the poor relied increasingly on cornmeal as the primary source of energy in their diet, pellagra outbreaks rose. Pellagra has some serious and eerie symptoms. They include:

• Extreme sensitivity to light, causing a scaly skin rash
• Swollen and inflamed red tongue
• Cracked, swollen red lips
• Insomnia, anxiety, aggression and depression
• Loss of appetite and unusual cravings
• Anemia (pale skin due to blood loss)

So perhaps before Pellagra was diagnosed as a disease, societies were fearful of the unfortunate, Niacin-deficient, pale, light hating, crazy-acting, malnourished souls and made up some scary stories.

The good news is pellagra is very rare today due to better processing of corn, keeping those vampires away!


In case you’re still fearful of vampires, try serving this tasty dip guaranteed to scare away vampires!

Serves 12 (makes 3 cups)

¼ cup butter
1 large (1 cup) onion, chopped
1 small (1/2 cup) red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh garlic
2 Tbsp flour
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup feta cheese with garlic and herbs
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach or frozen spinach (thawed and drained well)
1-2 dashes hot pepper sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in skillet until sizzling. Add onion, red pepper and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes or until onion is softened. Whisk in flour and continue cooking for 1 minute. Whisk in broth and whipping cream. Continue cooking, whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes or until mixture is thickened.
2. Stir in cheese, yogurt, spinach and hot pepper sauce until spinach wilts and mixture is heated through. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve warm with assorted vegetables such as carrot and celery sticks.

Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: ¼ cup

Portion Size Matters

I frequently find myself recommending patients (and myself) to limit portions. “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” This quote, which I think we have all heard, is very true when applied with eating. Portion size matters, whether it’s French fries, cake or something healthier like fruit. Losing weight can be difficult when you don’t know how much to eat. Portion distortion can be blamed for a large portion (ha – no pun intended!) of this problem, but I have some tips to help you determine healthy serving sizes.

Portion sizes have increased at home and at restaurants for nearly every food category since the 1970s. Food and beverage manufacturers are packaging their products in sizes five times more than when they were first introduced. The portions for many of these foods now exceed federal recommended standards by as much as eight times. This increase in portion sizes has created an increase in our waistlines and body weight contributing to the obesity epidemic.

What do “portion distortion” and “portion control” actually mean?
• Portion Distortion – growing portion sizes have changed the perspective of “normal” portions

Portion Control – knowing the correct amount of food or drink
Portion – amount of food or drink a person decides to eat or drink at one time
Serving – measured amount of food or drink
A single portion of food can contain multiple servings.

Portion Control Tips for Dining at Home:

• Make balanced meals by including 1/4 your plate protein, 1/4 your plate carbohydrate and 1/2 your plate low-carb vegetables.
• Store leftovers in single-serve containers so when you eat them they’re already portioned and you’re less likely to overeat.
• Serve yourself and then put food     away so you’re not tempted to go back for seconds.

Portion Control Tips for Eating Out:
• Order balanced meals (see above) – may need to order items a la cart
• Order half portions – restaurants typically serve meals that are large enough for 2-3 meals
• Box half before eating
• Split dish with a friend
• Order healthy appetizer or soup and salad in place of an entree
• Avoid buffets and “all-you-can-eat” deals – bargain doesn’t mean value

Portion Control Tips for Snacking:
• Purchase foods in single-serving sizes (chips, pretzels, popcorn, nuts, cheese sticks, cottage cheese, yogurt)
• Portion out foods that aren’t in single-serving sizes using snack bags or small containers
• Never eat out of large bag or carton

So remember, you can overcome portion distortion by having balanced meals, sharing half your meal when eating out and purchasing snacks in single-serving sizes. Try this Bacon, Avocado & Tomato Egg Mug recipe to get your mornings started off right – The portion controlled way!

Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Egg Mug
Serves 1
• 2 eggs
• 1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
• 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes, excess moisture removed
• 1/4 avocado, diced
• 2 Tbsp salsa
1. Spray a large microwave-safe mug or bowl with nonstick spray. Add eggs and microwave for 1 minute.
2. Gently stir. Add bacon and tomatoes. Microwave until scramble is just set, about 1 minute.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with avocado and salsa.
Nutrition Information:
Calories: 271 Carbs: 8g
Fiber: 4g Protein: 18g