Fire Up Your Fitness Plan for 2015

by in Diets & Weight Loss, January 1, 2015

Fitness Goals
If you’ve vowed to start exercising this year, good for you. But you may have made that promise for the past few years (it’s okay, we’ve all done it!) and not exactly honored and obeyed that vow. Here are a few tips to help you stay committed to your resolution. Read more

A Toast to 2015 with Holiday Cocktails Good Enough to Eat

by in Healthy Holidays, December 31, 2014


It’s New Year’s Eve — and we can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year than gathering friends and serving holiday cocktails that embrace the traditional flavors of the season. Heat things up by adding hints of warm cinnamon and spicy ginger along with your basic stash of spirits and mixers like bourbon, vodka, gin and bitters. Muddle in some fresh cranberries or twist in fragrant orange peel and you have yourself a refreshingly fruity holiday drink. We’re even blending up creamy, nut-based versions of eggnog and Irish cream to make this season even richer. Cheers and Happy New Year!

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5 Surprising Health Benefits of Avocados

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, December 30, 2014

Bobby Flay's Crunchy Avocado Salad
If your New Year’s resolutions have anything to do with eating better, you may want to start by loading your shopping cart with avocados. These super fruits are not only delicious, but they are also packed with nutritional and health benefits — to your heart, eyes and much more — that may surprise you.

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Legumes for Heart Health

by in Food News, Healthy Recipes, December 29, 2014


Beans, beans are good for your heart—and so are peas and lentils! A new study concluded that beans, peas and lentils can help lower your risk of heart disease. Here are some delightful legume-filled dishes to include in your healthy eating plan. Read more

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner — 5 Egg Dishes to Make Right Now!

by in Healthy Recipes, December 28, 2014


From traditional breakfast fare to the quintessential holiday appetizer, eggs are known for their versatility. They’re also one of the most perfect proteins around, providing all the essential amino acids your body needs. Although some folks may hold back on eating the entire egg, the yolk is where all the good stuff is found! And according to the latest recommendations from The American Heart Association, one egg can be eaten daily in lieu of another protein choice. But instead of using your daily egg in the same old way, cook up these healthy, creative egg dishes instead.

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Holiday Havoc? Calm Down with These Smart Tips

by in Diets & Weight Loss, Food and Nutrition Experts, December 27, 2014


Like so many things in parenting, navigating holiday indulgences among a sea of candy canes, school celebrations loaded with Christmas-colored doughnuts, social events and sentimental meals is totally and completely … exhausting. This very morning I was having a minor panic attack (OK, I’m being a little overdramatic), about a weekend of gingerbread cookies, candy-cane hot chocolates and Nutella crepes. I shifted gears and got excited thinking of how “clean” (c’mon, this is what I do for a living) I was going to cook and we were all going to eat to help get us through the rest of this holiday week. As I pulled out my first carrot to chop for a big veggie soup, I was thinking I couldn’t wait to make the Hanukkah cookies with the kids that we make every year. Do you feel my pain here? Is it possible to indulge and feel empowered rather than victimized? I think the answer is a resounding YES, but it also means taking a look at your food culture and deciding how you plan to empoweringly indulge. I have some ideas:

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This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, December 26, 2014


In this week’s news: Flavonoids found to be fab for women’s health; yoga may be your excuse to skip aerobics; and could you undo your holiday weight gain just by breathing?

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Baby it’s Cold Outside! Make a Great Cup of Hot Cocoa

by in Have You Tried, December 25, 2014


Sipping a mug of hot chocolate after sledding and snowman building is one of the great joys of the season. But an envelope of powdered hot chocolate zapped in the microwave isn’t what we’re talking about. Sure the instant version is simple, but the list of ingredients generally includes hydrogenated oil, corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives, and mono- and diglycerides — none of which are necessary to make a great-tasting hot chocolate. Real cocoa powder contains copper, potassium and iron. In addition, it’s rich in fiber, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine, which helps manage stress. So ditch the packets and try these from-scratch versions with festive peppermint, healing ginger and soothing cardamom.

Basic Classic Cocoa
Serves 1

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch processed)
Pinch salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons hot water
1 cup reduced-fat milk
2 teaspoons sugar, agave or maple syrup

Microwave: In a microwave-safe mug, combine cocoa, salt and vanilla. Add 2 tablespoons hot water and combine until it forms a paste. Add the milk, leaving an inch from the rim. Microwave on high for 1 minute, being careful the milk does not boil over. Stir in sweetener and serve.

Stovetop: Heat milk, salt, vanilla and sugar in a small saucepan over medium to low temperature until scalding. Watch the milk so that it does not reach a boil. Combine cocoa and water in a mug and carefully add hot milk. Stir until blended.

Healing additions:

Peppermint
Mint is a therapeutic herb believed to alleviate colic and digestive, gall bladder  and stomach problems. The truth is, only peppermint, which is 92 percent menthol, has these medicinal properties. Spearmint does not contain menthol and offers no digestive benefits. Before adding cocoa, steep fresh peppermint leaves in the hot milk. Remove after 10 minutes and pour according to directions.

Cinnamon and Cardamom
The Aztecs used spices in their chocolatl, and today traditional Mexican hot chocolate has a spicy kick. Cinnamon may soothe digestive problems and is considered an antispasmodic and antiseptic. Cardamom offers the same digestive benefits and acts to decrease gas. Sprinkle in cinnamon and cardamom to your liking.

Ginger
Peel fresh ginger and add a few slices to hot milk, then steep for 10 minutes. Remove from milk before adding to cocoa mixture. Not only will you get a spicy kick, but the ginger’s qualities can reduce fever, gas and pain, and aid in digestion. It’s also believed ginger helps combat winter’s many coughs and colds.

Kiri Tannenbaum is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris and holds an M.A. in food studies from New York University where she is currently an adjunct professor. When her schedule allows, she leads culinary walking tours in New York City and is currently at work on her first book.

The Chef’s Take: Erin Smith’s Carrot Pancakes from Main Kitchen

by in Chefs and Restaurants, Dining Out, December 24, 2014


If you’ve ever thought, “How can I get my kids to eat more vegetables?” you might want to read on. Chef Erin Smith of Main Kitchen, a beautiful new restaurant in the JW Marriott Houston Downtown, turns fresh carrots into fluffy pancakes and serves them in a short stack for breakfast with maple syrup. Other than the pancakes’ slight orange hue, you’d never know carrots were the main ingredient. Smith uses carrots from local farms like Black Hill Ranch and Sustainable Harvesters, and makes her pancakes gluten-free by using chickpea flour from a local gristmill.

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Want to Burn Off Those Christmas Calories? Try Sledding!

by in Healthy Holidays, December 23, 2014


Don’t let your belly shake like a bowl full of jelly this Christmas. Use our guide to indulge and burn it off. Whether you ice skate, sled or just start dancing around, be sure to busta move!

Crunching the Numbers

Everyone burns calories a little differently. The values below are averages based on a 155-pound person.

Appetizers

6 stuffed mushrooms = 400 calories = 45 minutes ice hockey

6 cheese puffs = 365 calories = 30 minutes cross-country skiing
Main Courses

6 ounces prime rib = 529 calories = 1 hour, 15 minutes shoveling snow

6 ounces baked ham = 250 calories = 30 minutes chopping wood

 

Sides

1 cup au gratin potatoes = 323 calories = 2 hours yoga

1 cup homemade mac and cheese = 450 calories = 40 minutes running at 6 mph

 

Beverages

12 fluid ounces eggnog = 515 calories = 3 hours of housecleaning

12 fluid ounces peppermint latte = 475 calories = 1 hour snowshoeing

Sweet Treats

5 sugar cookies = 425 calories = 1 hour snowboarding

1 cinnamon bun (frosted) = 380 calories = 45 minutes sledding
1 slice fruitcake = 200 calories = 30 minutes ice skating

Damage Control
Don’t let your holiday spirit turn “bah, humbug.” Use these tips to help make the most of your holiday favorites.

  • Don’t skip the fruit and veggies – save calories by incorporating both into all holiday meals.
  • Allow yourself a few small “cheats” here and there, then stick to calorie-free beverages.
  • Treat sweets like treats – enjoy sometimes, not always!

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.