Lightened-Up Family Spaghetti and Meatball Night

by in Cooking for Kids, Healthy Recipes, Meal Makeovers, January 3, 2017

A classic crowd-pleasing meal, spaghetti and meatballs is all about family. Get the kids in the kitchen to help stir the sauce and roll the meatballs. Use these tips to make a meal the entire family will look forward to eating.

Meal Prep
Most of the components of spaghetti and meatballs can be made ahead. Be sure to make a big ol’ batch and freeze some for a busy night down the road, and tuck some in the fridge for school lunches the next day. Then all you’ll need is 10 minutes prior to dinner to boil the pasta and reheat the meatballs and sauce.

Pasta
Pasta has a bad reputation for being unhealthy. It’s true that processed wheat products are missing some key nutrients, but the real issue is inflated portions. One cup of cooked pasta contains 200 calories, an appropriate amount for most family members to enjoy as part of a meal. Fill the remainder of the plate with lean protein and vegetables for a well-balanced dinner.

Whole-grain pasta is also looked down upon for being bitter and unappetizing, but whole-wheat pasta options have come a long way. Or try a brand made with rice, beans, quinoa or egg whites for better texture and flavor, plus a higher protein content. Read more

Trend Alert: Pea Protein

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, Trends, January 2, 2017

Proteins derived from plants are getting more recognition as many folks strive to have a more plant-based diet. At the forefront of this trend is protein from legumes like peas. Find out if the newfound popularity is worth the hype.

 

Peas As a Protein Source

One cup of raw green peas contains 8 grams of protein. Yellow or green split peas are also often used for pea-based products; this dried version contains 48 grams in the same 1 cup portion. Depending on the product, you might find either of these options added so check ingredient lists for clarification.

The type of protein found in peas is different than animal derived sources. As with most plant-based foods, some amino acids are missing, but peas do contain three important muscle building “branched chain” amino acids, leulcine, isoleucine and valine.

Pea protein powder has become a popular additive in snack foods and bars. Extracting the protein from food to powder does require some processing so the nutrient profile will differ slightly from the whole food version. Pea protein does have an advantage compared to some other popular protein supplements (like whey or casein) as it contains more hunger fighting fiber.

Read more

Re-Examining the Health Benefits of Fitness Trackers

by in Fitness, January 1, 2017

Do you wear a fitness tracker, a doohickey that counts the steps you take and/or the calories you burn every day? If so, you’re in good company. An estimated 21 percent of U.S. Internet-connected adults — yep, more than one in five — use some form of wearable technology, according to research firm Forrester.

Although some pricier wearable fitness trackers promise complicated analytics, most people use wearable fitness trackers to count steps or track distance “with a weight loss goal in mind,” says nutrition consultant, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and Healthy Eats contributor Dana Angelo White.

A clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, however, suggests those wearable fitness trackers may not actually help us lose weight. In fact, the study indicated, just the opposite may be true. The devices may actually backfire, prompting people to eat more and undercutting weight-loss efforts. “It’s somewhat common for people to use exercise as an excuse to overindulge,” White notes.

The study’s research team put 471 overweight study participants on a low-calorie diet and urged them to exercise more, providing them with support such as group counseling. All began to lose weight. After about six months, half the study cohort was asked to self-report their diet and exercise behaviors; the other half was given wearable devices to monitor them. Two years later, both groups remained active, but those who were using the fitness trackers lost less weight than those who were not, prompting the researchers to conclude that “devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioral weight loss approaches.  Read more

3 Ways to Be Mindful in the Kitchen

by in Healthy Tips, December 31, 2016

The kitchen can be a very stressful place, especially when things get busy. Weeknights in particular can get hectic with running errands, completing homework and cooking a healthy dinner. Here are three ways you can be more mindful in the kitchen to help alleviate some stress.

  1. Create calm out of chaos.

Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness, recommends the following technique to help make rational choices in the kitchen: “First take a very deep breath and exhale to a slow count of 10. This simple exercise tells your body to relax and helps you make rational choices like actually cooking your meal instead of eating it cold from the fridge! (I know I’m not the only one.) Then do one quick thing that makes you happy. I like to play soothing or energizing music, depending on my mood. Even if you’re not excited to prepare your meal, find a benefit that does excite you — like ‘I’m happy to save money and take care of my body by cooking at home’ — and let that be your motivation to heat up the kitchen.”

  1. Cook simple and relax.

Instead of making your life difficult and more stressful, choose cooking methods that are simple with few ingredients. For example, use a dry rub or marinade for meat and poultry, then place the protein right in the oven or grill to cook. When your food is cooking, take a few minutes to sit in a chair, relax and enjoy the delicious smell of the food you’re about to eat. Read more

Refresh Your Fitness Routine For the New Year

by in Fitness, December 30, 2016

Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or a resolution-driven exercise newbie, there are always ways to freshen up your routine. If your New Year’s resolutions involve getting more exercise, use these strategies to set yourself up for success.

Gear

Instead of calorie-laden celebrations, reward your hard work with a little retail therapy. Set realistic exercise goals such as a personal record on the treadmill or increased daily steps for a week, and then reward yourself with some new threads. Target and Kohl’s have durable and fashionable exercise clothing and shoes. Under Armour, Athleta and Lululemon offer high-end options that fit beautifully and are on trend with latest fashions. No matter what your budget you can find some new gear to get excited about. Read more

Diet 101: The Low FODMAP Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, December 28, 2016

Last month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics held its annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo, at which it shared the latest nutrition research and hottest new products with thousands of dietitians. One of the most-popular trends to emerge was the focus on gut health and low-FODMAP food products.

What Is a FODMAP?

Coined by researchers at Monash University in Australia, the term FODMAP refers to different types of carbohydrates in foods. With a “short-chain” chemical structure, these carbohydrates are not absorbed in people with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

FODMAP is an acronym for:

Fermentable, or carbs that are quickly broken down by bacteria to produce gas

Oligosaccharides. Humans do not have enzymes to break down and absorb these types of carbohydrates, leading to fermentation and gas.

Disaccharides, specifically lactose. Many IBS sufferers cannot digest lactose, which causes gastrointestinal discomfort.

Monosaccharides, or fructose, which is not well-absorbed if there is excess glucose present.

And

Polyols, or sugar alcohols. These are not completely digested by humans, and they are sometimes marketed as a laxative. Read more

Don’t Buy Into the New Year Detox

by in Diets & Weight Loss, December 27, 2016

After spending the past month enjoying one-too-many cookies, peppermint mochas and spiked eggnogs, eliminating last year’s dietary sins seems like the perfect start. Supplements, coffee enemas, juice fasts, heat wraps and teas all promise a new, detoxified body, but do they actually work?

Detoxing is a rare medical need that’s been turned into a billion-dollar industry. Over the last decade, pills, juices, bars and shakes have been promoted as a magical formula to do everything from improving your health and digestion to getting you back into your skinny jeans.

More often than not, detox diets are nothing but liquid calories that lack the major nutrients our bodies need to function optimally. Following one of these cleanses often results in not consuming enough calories, which can leave you grumpy, hungry, and craving sugar, fat and carbs. In other words, starving yourself for a 3-day juice fast may backfire in additional weight gain once completed.

Fasting doesn’t support the body’s natural detox pathway. Our bodies are designed to clean from the inside; detoxing unwanted material daily through our liver, lungs and kidneys. Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber will help your body’s detox pathway function optimally — more than any pill or supplement could.

If you’re motivated to start 2017 out right, follow these 5 simple tips for a healthy start to the new year. Read more

Host A Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve

by in Healthy Holidays, Uncategorized, December 26, 2016

Ever try getting a babysitter on New Year’s Eve? I would rather save the dough and spend the special night in with my kiddos. To keep my kid’s happy, I’ll invite friends and family and their youngsters to join in on the celebration. As a host, this means planning a menu that’s kid and adult friendly — plus some entertainment for the kids so the grownups can relax. Check out these family-friendly dishes that will make everyone happy!

Family-Friendly Bites

Shrimp-Pineapple Skewers

Prosciutto-Wrapped Crudité

Healthy Mozzarella Sticks

Crisp Crab Cakes

Mini Meatballs Read more

Healthier Cocktail Mixers

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, December 24, 2016

Do the holidays bring out your inner mixologist? Do you wish there were better options than all those sugary syrups for mixers? You’re in luck – these three options will immediately upgrade your cocktails.

 

Alcohol Nutrition Facts

A serving of alcohol is equal to 12 fluid ounces of beer, a 5 fluid ounce glass of wine or

a 1.5 fluid ounce shot of hard alcohol. While there is some science that supports the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, booze contains oodles of empty calories. To make matter worse, the increased calories in most popular mixed drinks comes from high sugar mixers like soda, juice, and fake bottled mixers. Read more

Healthier Holiday Apps

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Recipes, December 23, 2016

Appetizers are meant to hold your guests over until the meal, not fill them up before it starts! Instead of high calorie gut-busters, serve some of these better-for-everyone finger foods at your next holiday shindig.

Shrimp

Low calorie and high protein shrimp are always a crowd pleaser, and they pair so well with sweet and juicy pineapple.

Recipe: Shrimp Pineapple Skewers

 

Deviled Eggs

This classic recipe gets a makeover using nonfat Greek yogurt instead of calorie-heavy mayo, plus a kick of spice and vinegar.

Recipe: Lighter Southern Deviled Eggs Read more