5 Healthier Hot Dogs

by in Grilling, Which is Healthier?, July 23, 2013

hotdog buns

I used to be totally against anything related to a hot dog. Two kids later, I find myself turning to them as a viable option for the occasional backyard barbecue or last-minute weeknight dinner. Part of the reason I changed my mind was because of healthier options. After reading TONS of ingredient labels, I found some decent choices out there, with something to please everyone (including vegetarians). In honor of National Hot Dog Day, here are some of the top dogs.

Better Dogs

Beef
Applegate Farms Uncured Beef Hot Dog
Beef, spices and that’s about it. These tasty hot dogs are free of nitrates and have only 70 calories and 6 grams of fat. Organic versions are also available and Applegate Farms uses no antibiotics with their animals.

Veggie
Field Roast Vegetarian Frankfurter
Super popular among vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, this 2.75-ounce “frankfurter” contains 180 calories and 8 grams of fat. It’s made from wheat gluten, tomato paste and spices. It’s a bit high in the sodium department (690 milligrams), so reserve for occasional enjoyment.

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Food Fight! Lemonade vs. Iced Tea

by in Food Fight, Healthy Tips, July 22, 2013

lemonade and iced tea
Looking to quench your thirst with one of these summertime classics? First, check out which drink came out on top in this battle of the beverages.

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20+ Healthy Foods to Pack When You Travel

by in Dining Out, July 22, 2013

whole-grain crackers
Hitting the road this summer? Whether traveling by car or plane you can still make healthy choices.

By Car
By the time you turn the corner, everyone in the car is begging for food. The last thing you want to do is bring a never-ending supply of junk. Instead, pack a few good-for-you mess-free meals and snacks. To keep things fresh, bring a cooler (the traditional kind or one that plugs into the car).

Meals:

  • Whole-grain pasta salad or quinoa salad
  • Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Hard-boiled egg and cheese in a whole-wheat pita

Snacks:

  • Sliced fresh fruit like melon and berries
  • Snack bar
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cheese and whole-grain crackers

If you end up having to hit the quick mart anyway, look for the smarter choices:

  • Whole-grain pretzels
  • Hummus cups
  • Coffee or tea (nothing fancy)
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Small bowl of oatmeal

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15 Surprising Ways to Enjoy Edamame

by in Robin's Healthy Take, July 21, 2013

edamame
We all know that steamed edamame with a delectable sprinkling of salt make a phenomenal appetizer. Pop those babies in your mouth, strip off the pod with your teeth, discard the carnage and reach for another!

But given that soybeans are nutrient powerhouses, why not get creative and add the precious gems to your regular menu? For just 120 calories per heaping cup of edamame (or 1/2 cup shelled soybeans), you get 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, 10% of your Daily Value for vitamin C and iron and 8% for vitamin A.

Here are 15 unexpected ways to enjoy cooked and shelled edamame.

1. Green Dip: Puree soybeans with an equal amount of thawed frozen green peas, a little fresh shallot and garlic, and salt and black pepper to taste; fold in chopped fresh parsley. Serve with whole-grain crackers or pita.

2. Rice and (Soy)Beans: Sauté soybeans in a little olive oil with chili powder and cumin; add to brown rice with green onions, cilantro and fresh lime juice; add hot sauce if desired.

3. Strong Salads: Fold into potato, pasta, seafood and egg salads for a blast of protein.

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Exercise Trends Worth Trying

by in Fitness, July 21, 2013

sneakers
Looking for a new way to work out? At the recent National Athletic Trainer’s Association annual meeting, I was able to check out what’s trending with exercise experts. Here’s the lowdown on the latest gear–and what’s worth the investment.

Suspension Training
Specialized straps connected to a door or ceiling allow you to use your own body weight as resistance. You can’t even imagine how many different muscle groups can get a workout using these simple bands. TRX is one of the most popular U.S. brands, 4DPro is an up-and-comer. TRX cord sets retail for anywhere from $150 to $250 (in my opinion, they are well worth the investment). They are often used in rehab settings by athletic trainers and physical therapists but they also make a fun and non-cumbersome addition to a home gym. You can find instructional videos to help plan workout routines online.

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Pork Tenderloin on a Stick!

by in Robin's Healthy Take, July 20, 2013

pork loin on a stick
Sometimes getting the family to try something new requires creativity. Maybe it’s not the ingredients; perhaps it’s the presentation. Take these lollipops for example. My son Luke “doesn’t eat pork.” This from a kid who devours all the bacon at every breakfast buffet we encounter. I’d rather he eat pork tenderloin – it’s crammed with protein and devoid of all that visible bacon fat. Enter pork tenderloin on a stick!

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Market Watch: Goat’s Milk Feta

by in Farmers' Market Finds, July 20, 2013

cheese
Sometimes I go to the farmers’ market in search of items that have nothing to do with produce. Local farmers often have other goodies like meats, cheeses, eggs, honey and baked goods to offer. On a recent trip to my favorite market I picked up a package of a profoundly delicious cheese: feta made from local goat’s milk.

Originating in Greece, feta cheese has been made for centuries. Classically made with sheep’s milk, some versions may also be a combination of both sheep and goat’s milk. Newer versions of this cheese from countries other than Greece may also be made with cow’s milk. Curds of the cheese are pressed together into blocks and stored in brine, which contributes to feta’s unique tangy flavor.

Cheese lovers will also be happy to know that feta is naturally lower in calories. One ounce of feta contains 40 fewer calories and 3 fewer grams of fat than the same portion of cheddar.

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15 Cocktails Under 250 Calories (Cheers!)

by in Healthy Recipes, July 19, 2013

mint julep
Kicking back with a few summer cocktails? Choose wisely or you’ll end up gulping way more calories than you think.

Calorie Overload
If you love the taste of sweet summer cocktails, you could be downing upwards of 500 calories apiece. Each standard shot (1½ fluid ounces) of 80-percent proof rum, vodka or gin has about 100 calories. Combine several of those with sugar-laden mixers–plus juices and soda–and you’re likely throwing back more calories and sugar than you bargained for, especially if you’re guzzling several drinks in one evening.

Always measure out the hard stuff. And forgo those overly sweetened bottled mixers; instead, choose 100% juice or use fresh fruits and herbs to flavor your drink. You can also choose to cut back on calories by using diet soda as a mixer–but be aware that studies have shown that you do get drunk quicker. Size also matters: Be sure you’re sipping from an 8-ounce glass (or smaller!).

Or sip one of the delicious drinks below.

Cocktails Under 250 Calories:

Guacamole: 7 Great Ways

by in Robin's Healthy Take, July 19, 2013

guacamole
Guacamole is a fresh and delicious way to enjoy the bounty of nutrients and healthy fats avocados have to offer. And the simple blend of avocado, other vegetables, and herbs leaves lots of room for interpretation and exploration. After preparing the classic version below, get creative and add a variety of unique ingredients.

Traditional Guacamole: This recipe is approximate, meaning adjust all ingredients to suit your taste preferences. Combine in a bowl 2 cups mashed or diced fresh avocados, 1/2 cup diced tomato, 1/4 cup diced white onion, 1 minced fresh jalapeño, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon grated fresh garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Start the following recipes with the recipe above and add or remove ingredients as suggested below.

Mango with Pepitas: Fold in 1/2 cup diced fresh mango; top the guacamole with roasted and salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) just before serving.

Pickled Jalapeno & Green Chile: Fold in diced pickled jalapeños, diced green chiles and a little ground cumin.

Sundried Tomato & Cotija Cheese: Instead of fresh tomato, add diced, oil-packed (and drained) sundried tomatoes; top the guacamole with shredded cotija or Monterey jack cheese just before serving.

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Cream Cheese: Is It Healthy?

by in Is It Healthy?, July 19, 2013

cream cheese

Does this soft, spreadable cheese have any place in a healthy eating plan? It may depend on which kind you choose.

Yes?
Cream cheese comes in numerous forms: brick, regular, whipped, light, fat-free and Neufchatel. You can also find regular, light and fat-free in flavors like scallion, vegetable, cinnamon-raisin, salmon and strawberry.

Two tablespoons of regular cream cheese have 100 calories, 9 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat. So if you want to lighten things up, whipped or light varieties are the ways to go.

Whipped cream cheese incorporates air (from whipping) so it seems as if you’re eating more. Two tablespoons have 80 calories, 8 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat.

Light cream cheese has even fewer calories, with 2 tablespoons clocking in at 70 calories, 5 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat. (Fat-free has about half the calories of whipped or light.)

Neufchatel has one-third less fat than regular cream cheese with 80 calories, 6 grams of fat and 4 grams saturated in 2 tablespoons.

Beyond its traditional uses (with lox, in cheesecake), cream cheese can enhance the flavor of many healthy recipes. Use the whipped or low-fat variety to make cream cheese frosting, mashed potatoes, artichoke dip, alfredo sauce or even a cheese and fruit pizza. As always, the key is to keep portions under control.

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