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Roasted Vegetable Bean Salad

In Autoimmune disease, Fighting Cancer, Gluten-Free diet, Meal Ideas, Recipes, Vegetarian on October 4, 2013 at 9:44 AM

roast veg bean salad 1 cropJust because fresh, summer vegetable season is drawing to a close does not mean you have to stop eating them!  Vegetables of all shapes, sizes and colors provide an abundance of nutrition, are naturally low-calorie, loaded with antioxidants for fighting disease and inflammation, and fill a hungry tummy for an extended period of time (thank you, fiber!).  Whether you are watching your waistline, trying to prevent cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, or managing inflammatory autoimmune conditions, such as scleroderma, lupus and multiple sclerosis, this salad is a healthy addition to your eating plan.  It is compatible with vegan and gluten-free lifestyles as well.  Some of the ingredients are available fresh all year round whereas others will be found in your grocer’s freezer during the off season (which are equally nutritious and healthful).  This tasty and refreshing salad makes an excellent pack-n-go lunch choice or a light meal to share among friends.  The recipe as outlined below makes three generous servings containing 260 calories, 20 grams of carb, 16 grams fat (only 2 grams saturated…nice!), 8 grams fiber and 8 grams of protein.   Enjoy!

Salad Ingredients:

1 cup of peeled fresh or frozen edamame (green soybeans); steam frozen in microwave 4-5 minutes

1 cup fresh or frozen corn, steamed in microwave 3-5 minutes (cut fresh off cob)

2 cups fresh or frozen thin green beans, washed and cut into pieces (blanch fresh beans in boiling water for 90 seconds; steam frozen beans in microwave 3-4 minutes)

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise

1 orange and 1 yellow bell pepper sliced into 1-inch pieces  (organic is best)

10-15 large fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons (this will serve as primary leafy green)

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Preparation Instructions:

1.  Prep edamame, corn and green beans as described above.

2.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine sliced peppers and tomatoes in small amount of olive oil and spread in single layer on baking sheet lined with parchment or foil coated with cooking spray.  Roast for 15 minutes (until blistered), remove vegetables from oven and roasting pan, and place on new foil for 10 minutes to cool.

3.  Combine all cooled vegetables into large mixing bowl:  corn, edamame, green beans, roasted peppers, tomatoes and basil ribbons.

4.  Whisk together dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl and toss with vegetables.

5.  Chill at least 2 hours before serving to allow for flavor enhancement.

6.  Serve with warm bread, as desired.

Would you like more healthy recipe suggestions?  Interested in learning realistic strategies for creating a balanced lifestyle to meet your individual health needs?  Consider ordering the second edition of my book,  “You Gotta Eat!” at www.thenuttynutritionist.com.  Eat well!  Feel well!

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“Eating Well with Scleroderma” Video

In Autoimmune disease, Scleroderma, Wellness on September 6, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Living with an autoimmune chronic disease, such as systemic scleroderma, fibromyalgia, lupus or Crohn’s, undoubtedly tests one’s ability to maintain a happy and productive life. In my opinion, there is no worse feeling than losing control over your own body. The unpredictable nature of autoimmune illness renders you helpless in the face of physical pain, debilitating fatigue, and unceasing emotional turmoil, and has the capacity to steal your quality of life. Systemic scleroderma invaded my body over 11 years ago, and I have struggled to meet every physical and emotional challenge this savage beast has thrown my way. As a practicing dietitian, I have the advantage of knowing how to modify my eating and lifestyle habits to manage the symptoms and resulting stress. I would like to share the filmed presentation I offered at the national Scleroderma Foundation’s annual Patient Education Conference in Atlanta this past summer. Even though the presentation is tailored to the specific needs of patients with scleroderma, the information and suggestions apply to everyone living with autoimmune illness.

The direct link to the presentation will not paste on this page, so I suggest connecting here to http://www.youtube.com and then typing “Linda Kaminski Eating Well with Scleroderma” in the search box at the top on the YouTube home page. It will be the first title listed. Enjoy and I hope my suggestions help you live a longer, healthier life DESPITE scleroderma or any other autoimmune condition. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns: lindakaminski@thenuttynutritionist.com

Live well! Feel well!

The Acne-Diet Connection

In Wellness on April 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Got zits?  Whether you had major acne or just an occasional pimple as a teenager, up to 50% of adults have recurring flare-ups.  Ugh!  How does this happen?   Genetic, hormonal and lifestyle factors can make adult skin susceptible to acne breakouts on the face, chest, and/or back.  Of course we could talk about the value of a good cleansing and exfoliation routine, but that is not why you are reading a nutrition blog, is it?   There has been a long-standing debate over whether one’s diet influences the frequency and severity of acne.  Historically, chocolate and dairy products have been blamed most often for causing pimples.  (The “Got Milk?” campaign should have been called “Got Zits?” then, eh??)   But simply avoiding chocolate and/or milk does not seem to be the answer.  In recent years, a growing body of evidence suggests that certain physiologic responses to the food we eat can aggravate skin’s natural oil (sebum) production, leading to clogged pores. I will share the latest dietary wisdom with you here, trying my best not to get too technical.

The latest scientific research suggests that a high level of circulating insulin is a culprit in acne flare-ups.  Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.  Foods with a high glycemic index, such as sugars and refined flours, rapidly raise blood sugar, which in turn, trigger the body to release a higher volume of insulin into the bloodstream.  Excess insulin has been found to prompt the release of a variety of growth factors and other hormones, such as androgens, known to initiate inflammation and oil production in the skin.  (Androgens are male sex hormones that run especially rampant in teenage boys.)

Therefore, the dietary recommendations for controlling acne are based on reducing circulating insulin levels as well as curbing inflammation.  Keep in mind that there is no one dietary “super food” or “cure all” when it comes to completely stopping acne in its tracks.  (If it could only be that easy??)  The goal is to cut down on foods that aggravate and add more of the foods that are helpful to the situation:

1.  Cut down on sugar, period.  This applies to added sugars, like desserts, sweets, soda, and chocolate, as well as beverages containing natural sugar, like fruit juices and milk.  Yes, this is probably one of the main reasons why chocolate and milk have both been accused of causing acne over the years.  However, it is also speculated that the hormones given to cows to increase milk production may also be to blame, so look for milk from cows not treated with hormones.  Along this same vein, it is probably wise to eat meat from animals raised without hormones as well, even if meat does not raise insulin levels as much as sugars do.

2.  Cut down on refined carbs.  White flours and other processed grains, such as white rice and white pasta, are guilty of raising insulin levels too.  When selecting carbohydrate-containing foods, choose 100% whole grains and limit portion size to 1 cup in order to control the body’s insulin response.

3.  Eat more low-carbohydrate foods such as hormone-free lean protein (such as chicken and fish), non-starchy vegetables, and healthy oils, like olive oil and avocado.

4. Eat more anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish (Alaskan salmon and sardines) and nuts/seeds (walnuts, almonds and flaxseeds especially) and deeply-colored fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, kale, and broccoli.   The vitamin A in orange and green vegetables are wonderful for skin too.

5.  Drink more water, as it is essential for skin metabolism and regeneration.  You don’t have to overdo it, but aim for the “gold standard” of eight, 8 oz. glasses a day– more if you live in a dry climate (hello Arizona and Nevada friends!), during hot weather or if you exercise regularly.

Making the above-mentioned dietary changes will get you well on your way to improving your complexion.  Plus, not only are these diet habits good for your skin, but for your overall health as well.  Of course, cutting down on stress, getting enough sleep, keeping your hands away from your face, and taking a shower after exercise are also helpful behaviors towards keeping unsightly breakouts at bay.

Pimples be gone!   Enjoy your day 😉

Why You Should Drink More Tea

In Fighting Cancer, Wellness on April 11, 2013 at 8:25 AM

There is nothing quite like a comforting, warm beverage on a cool. rainy, spring day to warm you from the inside out.  As I write this, I have a cup of red rooibos tea beside me.  Mmmm… Have you ever tried this antioxidant rich, caffeine-free, African herbal tea?  Yes, I still drink coffee first thing in the morning, but tea carries me throughout the rest of the day without the negative effects of caffeine, such as heart palpitations and sleep disturbances.   I also find red rooibos tea particularly delightful in the evening to help me relax and get ready for a peaceful night’s rest.   We all need a little more of that now, don’t we?   While coffee is consistently America’s favorite hot beverage of choice, there are plenty of reasons why you should add hot tea to your daily routine.  There is much scientific evidence showing a strong association with tea drinking and lower risk of chronic disease as well as combating the negative effects of aging.  Teas contain a plethora of antioxidant compounds such as anthocyanins, flavonoids and phenolic acids, which have been found to help fight inflammation and reduce cell damage.  Since many of us do not eat the recommended nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, drinking tea will help us get the antioxidants we need to stay healthy.

Most non-herbal tea comes from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant:  black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and white tea.  These various types are processed differently, which imparts unique tastes and intensities.  These leaves naturally contain caffeine and must undergo processing to become decaffeinated.  If you prefer naturally caffeine-free herbal teas,  choose formulations containing hibiscus, as this fruit of a flowering plant provides a fruity, tart taste and is rich in antioxidants as well.  (The red rooibos tea I am drinking right now has hibiscus in it too…)

Based on the scientific evidence, here are 10 compelling reasons to drink more tea:

1.  Minimize your risk of heart disease, to include heart attack and stroke

2.  Reduce blood pressure

3.  Improve memory and mental alertness

4.  Reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol

5.  Prevent various forms of cancer, specifically the stomach, esophagus, and colon

6.  Improve digestion  (flavonoids may encourage healthy bacteria)

7.  Prevent osteoporosis  (especially green tea)

8.  Modest weight loss (green tea flavonoids plus caffeine may increase calorie expenditure)

9.  Minimize your risk of type 2 diabetes

10.  Promotes relaxation (herbal and caffeine-free varieties)

To get the most antioxidant punch from tea, steep in hot water rather than brewing cold.  You may then pour the hot tea over ice or chill in the fridge to enjoy iced tea during the upcoming summer months.

Here’s to your health!  Happy Spring 😉

Vegetarian Lifestyles

In Feeding your kids, Trends, Wellness on December 17, 2012 at 1:05 PM

19049967I have recently had a flood of requests to clarify what it takes to create a healthy vegetarian diet.   Not only are more and more adults choosing to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, but teens and pre-teens are adopting the practice in record numbers as well.  For example, a friend of mine’s pre-teen daughter, a life-long “picky eater”, has decided to become vegetarian and limit her food choices to fruit, vegetables, crackers, and pasta.  Yikes!  This is far from the balanced diet required for healthy growth and development, thereby making “vegetarianism” a potentially dangerous practice for an uninformed, growing girl.

The vegetarian diet is a challenging topic to address in a forum such as this since becoming vegetarian can mean different things to different people— some folks are raised vegetarian for religious or cultural reasons, whereas others choose a vegetarian lifestyle during their teen or adult years as a means of weight control, healthier living, in support of animal rights, or for environmental concerns, to name a few.  Today, vegetarianism has taken on many forms and it is essential for an individual wishing to become vegetarian to decide which practice he or she will follow:  vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, pesce vegetarian, or flexitarian.    Say what?  Let me explain:

Traditionally, a “true vegetarian”, or vegan, is someone who does not eat meat (i.e. animal flesh) of any kind nor any foods containing animal products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, or butter. This strict form of vegetarianism is the most challenging and the avoidance of ALL animal foods limits one’s intake of complete proteins, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, and zinc, putting one at nutritional risk when not implemented properly.  A nutritionally adequate vegan diet should include soy products, such as tofu, edamame, soymilk, and soy yogurt, which contain all essential amino acids to support bodily growth and repair (known as “complete” proteins); vitamin B12 and iron-fortified whole grain products (such as cereal, breads, rice); calcium-rich foods, such as fortified juice and soy milk, as well as almonds, green vegetables, and broccoli; legumes, such as kidney beans and lentils; fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  When you are eating vegan, you need to make sure that most of your choices are natural, nutrient-rich, whole foods, as opposed to vegan “junk foods” containing little or no nutrition whatsoever.  If a number of essential food items listed above are also avoided, vitamin and mineral supplementation is generally required.  If you are considering the vegan lifestyle, it is best to seek personalized advice from a dietitian in order to ensure nutritional adequacy for yourself and your family, rather than simply relying on the advice dispensed in this article.

The most common practice is as a lacto-ovo vegetarian—avoiding all animal flesh (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish), but including animal products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt (lacto) and eggs (ovo) in the daily diet.  Provided one is consuming dairy products and eggs on a regular basis, there is little need for concern over adequate protein intake, as animal proteins are “complete”, providing all essential amino acids for proper bodily growth and repair.   This form of vegetarianism is also likely to meet one’s nutritional needs for vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, and zinc provided fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, nuts, seeds, soy, and legumes are included as well.   To ensure adequate iron intake, incorporate plenty of iron-fortified cereals, breads, and grains, legumes, seeds, green-leafy vegetables, and/or dried fruit.  Including a source of vitamin C with these foods, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, or bell peppers, allows for better iron absorption.  Less common variations on this form of vegetarianism is an ovo-vegetarian who consumes eggs, but no animal flesh or milk products, or a lacto-vegetarian who consumes milk products, but no animal flesh or egg products.

Someone who adopts a lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle while including fish and/or seafood on a regular basis is considered pesce-vegetarian.  And, finally, the ever-expanding group of folks who limit their meat choices to lean chicken, turkey, and fish, while excluding “red meats” (such as beef, pork, and lamb) are considered flexitarians, as they are not truly vegetarian by definition, but are choosing to avoid specific animal meats and/or products.

In summary, if you are an adult looking to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, first give some thought to the type of vegetarianism you desire to practice.  Next, plan to incorporate a wide variety of nutritious foods that fit within your chosen regime on a regular basis.  If you admit to being a “picky eater” or simply do not enjoy a wide variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains, then it may be best to sit down with a nutrition professional, such as myself, to develop a personalized meal plan to best meet your needs.

Now, if you are a parent of a child or teen looking to become vegetarian, it is important to discuss his or her reasons for desiring a vegetarian lifestyle and to review the wide variety of vegetarian practices that exist today.  Many teens consider vegetarianism as an opportunity for weight loss or as a “legitimate excuse” for picky or disordered eating practices, without considering the potential nutritional or growth implications.  If you suspect an eating disorder, it is best to consult a nutrition professional to develop a healthy eating plan within the chosen vegetarian regime to nip any unhealthy practices in the bud…  I tend to encourage the lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle for most children and teens, as it is generally the easiest to follow and contains the widest variety of nutrients that growing bodies need.  Again, when dealing with very restricted picky-eaters, it is best to meet with a dietitian to develop a satisfactory eating plan.

If you would like to set up an appointment to develop a healthy vegetarian meal plan for yourself or your child, call me at 248-592-0875 or email at lindakaminski@thenuttynutritionist.com.

Live well!  Eat well!

Linda

The Realities of Arsenic in Food

In Trends, Wellness on December 11, 2012 at 6:12 PM

By now, most of you have heard the reports (or seen the Dr. Oz show) alarming consumers about high levels of arsenic in apple and grape juice, brown and white rice products (like baby cereal), dairy and meat products, seafood, fruits, and vegetables.  With information like this, what is left to eat?  Many of these foods are supposed to be good for us, right?  Has everyone had it all wrong?  No wonder folks are worried and confused… Unfortunately, many media outlets tend to distort or oversensationalize the facts in order to improve ratings.  I am going to clear up some unfortunate misconceptions right here, right now and show you how to eat such foods in a sensible way.

41807704First of all, arsenic is a trace element that occurs naturally in our environment (as part of the earth’s crust) and is found in food, water, soil, and air.  In other words, we simply CANNOT escape it!   Arsenic is absorbed by all plants through the soil, but tends to be more concentrated in leafy vegetables, rice, apple and grape juice, and seafood.  Does this mean we need to avoid these foods entirely?  Not exactly.  There are things we can do to minimize our exposure which I will share with you now:

Arsenic compounds have historically been used in the production of pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides (like on fruit trees),  as well as added to animal feed to prevent disease and stimulate growth.   This is a great reason to buy organically grown fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products as often as possible, which do not use chemicals on plants or animal feed.  Even when you are buying organic produce, make sure to wash them well as you would conventionally-grown options.  Another worthwhile strategy for reducing arsenic exposure is to increase the variety of foods in your daily diet—if you enjoy including white or brown rice with your meals, how about trying jasmine, basmati, black, or red rice grown in different regions around the world?  Or, forego rice altogether and try other grains, such as quinoa, in your recipes.  If you really, really, really want to have white or brown rice over all else, you can cut your exposure to arsenic by rinsing the rice first, cook it in a higher proportion of cooking water, and then drain off excess water after cooking.  As for rice baby cereal, switch to oatmeal just to be safe.  Worried about them apples?  Choose from the many available varieties, such as Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith, rather than eating the same kind day after day.  Now is a great opportunity to expand your culinary and taste horizons!!   As for apple juice, go ahead and avoid it—there is not much nutrition in it anyway.  As of now, no federal limits have been set for arsenic in most foods, but many US farmers are seeking improvements in rice, fruit, and vegetable cultivation in order to lower arsenic levels, but that will take some time before the problem is corrected.

Arsenic occurs naturally in groundwater, and in the US, higher aresenic levels tend to occur in New England, the Upper Midwest (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota), as well as the Southwestern states.   Yikes!  Before you make plans to re-locate, rest assured that today’s drinking water treatment processes are very effective at removing the majority of arsenic.  However, this is why seafood can be a problem, as the fish hang out in untreated waters.  Know a recreational fisherman who spends time on a small, inland lake in Michigan?  I sure do!  You certainly don’t want your fish intake to be limited to  such “local catch”.  Like I have suggested previously to minimize mercury exposure, choose a variety of fish species from a variety of different sources in order to minimize your exposure to both mercury and arsenic.

I hope this article has cleared up some concerns for you.  It is important to realize that arsenic is a part of our natural environment and is present in miniscule amounts in our drinking water and many foods and beverages we have safely consumed for years and years.  We are not all going to die of cancer because we eat rice or drink apple juice!  Our limited food exposure does not even begin to compare to the toxic occupational exposure to arsenic by workers involved in wood preservation, glass production, and semiconductor manufacturing–now these folks truly have something to worry about…  When Dr. Oz sounded the alarm, it was as if drinking a glass of apple juice amounted to working in a glass factory for 10 years!   I don’t think so, pal.  But he certainly got you to watch his show and up his ratings, didn’t he?

Don’t get me wrong, it is very important to be careful about what we put in our mouths and do our best to make healthier choices.  However, scare tactics are not going to help and tend to cause undue stress.  No need to throw out the baby with the bathwater—it is still possible to eat well and be healthy in this “arsenic-infested” world 😉

Live well!  Be well!

Pumpkin Custard

In Gluten-Free diet, Holiday Eating Strategies, Recipes on November 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM

By request, I am sharing a tasty, tried-and-true recipe for a healthier alternative to pumpkin pie.  This modified version of the traditional favorite is significantly lower in fat, carbohydrates, and calories–making it a smart choice for people with diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, as well as those trying to prevent weight gain over the prolonged feeding-frenzy that is the holiday season!  And, it is also gluten-free, so those with celiac sprue and gluten intolerance may even indulge in this tasty treat.

The pumpkin custard recipe outlined below uses a standard 9-inch glass pie plate, and consists of 6 servings.  Nutritionally, a 1/6 slice of this recipe contains a mere 120 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 20 grams of carbohydrate, and, as mentioned above, is gluten-free.  One-sixth of a traditional pumpkin pie contains approximately 425 calories, 19 grams of total fat, and 53 grams of carbohydrates—essentially a whole meal’s worth for someone desiring to limit calories and/or dramatic surges in blood sugar.   Even if you plan to serve a traditional pie at your upcoming dinner party, adding this pumpkin custard as an alternative will certainly be appreciated by your guests with specific dietary needs.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree

1/4 cup apple juice

3 egg whites, lightly beaten

12 oz. can evaporated skim milk

1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup unpacked brown sugar

Preparation:

1.  pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

2.  combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir thoroughly

3.  prepare 9-inch glass pie plate using non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar

3.  pour mixture into prepared pie plate

4.  bake for 35-45 minutes, or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean

I wish you all a happy and joyous holiday season!  Live well!  Feel well!

Linda 🙂

Baking For A Healthy Heart

In Holiday Eating Strategies, Managing cholesterol, Recipes on November 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Are you interested in baking up some healthier holiday goodies this year?  Modifying a traditional recipe is not as difficult or unsavory as it may seem… actually, it is a piece of cake!    Read on:

Heart-healthy baking is all about choosing the right variety of added fat.  All fats, regardless of their source, contain a unique combination of three primary components:  saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat.  Some fats contain trans fat as well, either occurring naturally (as in butter and beef) or from partially hydrogenated oil added during processing.  Eating too much saturated and/or trans fat is likely to result in clogged arteries and higher cholesterol levels, and should, therefore, be limited as much as possible.   Ideally, it is best to avoid all foods made from partially hydrogenated oil, and it is easy to do so by consulting the ingredients list.  Do not rely on the container’s Nutrition Facts panel, as “0 grams trans fat” or “trans fat free” claims are allowable for foods that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, according to the FDA.  This is a big loop-hole that many folks are not aware of… Be sure to verify the absence of “partially hydrogenated oil” from the ingredient list.

For the majority of your baking needs, with the exception of pie crust, you can use regular (non-light) soft tub margarine spreads containing no partially hydrogenated oils, such as Country Crock, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, Promise Buttery, Smart Balance, Olivio, Canoleo soft, and BestLife.  Do you realize that cookies, cakes, quick breads, muffins, brownies, and other baked bars, do not require solid fat?   In addition to the soft spreads mentioned above, you can even get away with using naturally trans fat free corn, canola, or blended vegetable oils as a substitution for solid fats—–doing so will modify the texture and make your baked goods softer and moister.  Sounds like a worthwhile trade-in, right?  Using Grandma’s old-fashioned recipe?  Substitute 3/4 cup oil for 1 cup of butter or shortening called for in the recipe; 2/3 cup oil for 3/4 cup butter; 1/3 cup oil for 1/2 cup butter; 3 Tbsp. oil for 1/4 cup butter.  Make sense?  It’s as easy as pie!  Ahem…

Speaking of pie, you will want to use a solid fat when making your own crust.  The good news is that there are healthier options than the typical butter, Crisco shortening, solid stick margarines, and lard used to make flaky crusts & pastries:  Country Crock solid stick margarine claims to be “Great for Baking and Cooking” and actually lives up to that expectation, as a tablespoon contains only 2.5 grams of saturated fat  (compared to butter’s 7 grams) and 0 grams of trans fat (compared to Parkay, Imperial, and Fleischmann’s 1.5-2.5 grams), and behaves itself in the oven too!  Margarines have come a long way over the years, that’s for sure.  Promise sticks, containing 3 grams saturated fat per tablespoon, come in a close second, while I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! sticks rank third, containing 3.5 grams saturated fat and no partially hydrogenated oil.

If you desire to lower the overall fat content in a recipe, you may replace part or all of the fat with applesauce, mashed over-ripe bananas, pureed prunes, low fat yogurt, or buttermilk.  These substitutions work best in quick breads, muffins, brownies, and other bars.

A final modification to reduce the fat and cholesterol content would involve substituting 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute (like Egg Beaters) for each whole egg.

Did you know that pumpkin pie is one of the most nutritious Thanksgiving desserts?  The nutritious part is the pumpkin…however, the traditional pumpkin pie recipe is loaded with calories, fat, and sugar, potentially requiring you to loosen your belt at the table and have 911 on speed-dial!  Stay tuned for a sumptuous pumpkin custard recipe that will allow you to enjoy the fall bounty without adding to your waistline.

Enjoy a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Eating Better–Family Style

In Feeding your kids on November 5, 2012 at 6:38 PM

The most important part of any meal shared at home is FAMILY—connecting with one another, discussing the day’s experiences, sharing some laughs (or tears), and enjoying healthy, nourishing foods together.  Got some picky-eaters at home? I’m not referring exclusively to children here—adult family members can be equally resistant to eating a well-balanced meal.  The good news is that setting a positive example by eating nutritious meals as a family can actually improve your children’s (or spouse’s!) eating habits—they are more likely to eat  fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and dairy products (like milk and yogurt) when shared with their parents and loved ones.   Children will also develop valuable social skills, table manners, and conversation by eating at the same table together.

Children learn by modeling themselves after their parents.  Eating together lets parents show their children, by example, how to choose nutritious foods, know when they are full, and how to try new tastes.  If you are a parent who loves to eat junk food, don’t chow down on cookies, chips, and fast food in front of your children on a regular basis.  If you are always bringing chips, cookies, and candy into your home and eating them with reckless abandon, you are sending the wrong message to your kids—they will likely grow into adults who regularly toss junk into their grocery carts for your future grandchildren.  The buck stops here—no more excuses about how you were raised—unhealthy habits need to stop with YOU.

Members of the “Clean Plate Club” also beware–if you always eat every morsel of food off your plate, regardless of how hungry you are, your kids will learn to lick their plates clean, hungry or not.  Yes, there are starving children in Ethiopia, but maybe you should start serving smaller portions (or using a smaller plate) so leftovers can be stored in the fridge for lunch or dinner tomorrow rather than in your belly.  No need to overstuff—-you all will have the chance to eat again tomorrow.  Unhealthy habits need to end with you if you want your kids to grow up healthy and pass healthy habits on to future generations.

A healthy, balanced meal contains at least 3 out of 5 major food groups:  lean meat, vegetables, fruit, whole grain starch, and dairy.  A  grilled chicken breast, small baked potato or 1/2 cup of brown rice, 1 cup (or more) of vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli, or asparagus, and a 6-8 oz glass of skim milk will be sufficient for most school-aged children, with the exception of teenage boys—they will generally eat you out of “house and home” and consume more calories than at any other time in their lives!  Just make sure they are filling up on the healthy stuff first, before they turn to junk foods.  That way, they will grow into lean young men, capable of making healthy choices and managing their weight.

Is dessert with dinner a tradition?  Fruit, another valuable food group, makes for a fabulous sweet treat—try baking (or microwaving) apples and topping with cinnamon for a special seasonal treat!  Teaching your kids that dessert is not always associated with calorie-rich junk food is a worthwhile lesson indeed!

If you want to set a good example for your family, it is time to develop healthy eating habits for yourself—then watch your family follow your lead!  For more information and ideas on this topic, turn to the “Feeding Your Kids” category in the Archives.

Any questions?  Feel free to ask!

Exercise for Maximum Calorie Burn

In Exercise, Weight Loss on May 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM

If you have been abiding by my “Ten Laws of Weight Control” and are yet to see the weight loss results you are looking for, it may be that your application of rule # 7 (“Exercise is Essential”) has been ineffective.  We all hear guidelines and recommendations regarding exercise at every turn from various sources.  The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular activity (a.k.a “cardio”) to get your heart pumping enough to maintain a healthy heart.  Unfortunately, this minimal amount of recommended exercise is rarely enough to help people shed pounds and keep them off.  Sorry folks…  Exercising 5 times a week for 30 minutes  is good for your health, no question, but if you want the numbers on the scale to budge, it requires a lot more effort to burn body fat and adequate calories.

The type of activity you choose will also have in impact on calorie burn, as it requires a heck of a lot more energy (i.e. calories) to jog 3 miles in 30 minutes than taking a joy ride on a bike around your neighborhood in the same about of time.  Exercise is a must for optimal weight control and it is not just about “putting in the time”…it is about intensity.

Think you have been working out hard enough?  Well, if you are trying to lose weight and not seeing results, you may want to do a little detective work.  A good way to monitor your intensity during exercise is by measuring your heart rate.  The harder you exercise, the higher your heart rate will go, and the more calories you will burn. In today’s technological times, you can get your hands on an inexpensive heart rate monitor (such as the Timex Easy Trainer for $50) that will provide the appropriate feedback to inform you whether to ramp up or ramp down your intensity to get the desired results.

The first thing you want to do is determine your maximum heart rate, or MHR.  This number is determined by your age (older folks get a break here), and a number you should try not to exceed for optimal performance.  The “gold standard” formula for determining MHR is 220-your age.  For example, I am about to turn 43, so my MHR would be 177 beats per minutes (bpm).  Considering that my resting heart rate is typically low (55-60 bpm), I would really have to be cranking in high gear to have my heart rate rise 122 points! The lower your fitness level (hello, couch potatoes) the faster your heart rate will climb upon exertion.  WIth my higher than average fitness level,  I am lucky to get my heart rate up to 100 bpm while taking a brisk walk… So, when I am looking to drop a few pounds, I gotta choose activities that challenge me and make me WORK!  In other words, the fitter you are, the harder you have to exercise to adequately raise your heart rate. So, if you have been exercising diligently over months or years and have now hit a weight loss plateau, your exercise habits need to change to challenge your body again and help you burn more calories. Our bodies are very adaptable machines.

You will want to exercise differently day-to-day based on how much time you have available for exercise as well as wanting to shake things up and keep your body guessing.  This is the best way to fit effective workouts into your schedule as well as keeping your metabolism burning unwanted fat and calories.  If you are short on time, say 20-30 minutes, you will want to work hard (reflected by a higher heart rate) for this shorter duration.  Like I said before, a leisurely 20-30 minute bike ride or stroll “ain’t gonna cut it”…  If you have more time, like 45-90 minutes, you can afford to go at a more moderate pace and still burn unwanted fat.

Here’s how:

1.  Warm up and cool down for 5-10 minutes aiming for 50-65% of your MHR.  This allows your body to “prepare” your muscles, heart, and lungs for work, as well as allowing the body recovery time after intense periods of activity.  For a 43-year-old, the warm up and recovery zone would be 88-115 bpm.  So that brisk walk I referred to earlier keeps me in the warm up/recovery zone around 100 bpm, and is not going to be enough to challenge my body and burn lots of caloriesshucks.

2. The ideal “fat burning zone” is when your heart rate falls between 65-75% of your MHR.  For a 43-year-old, that translates into 115-133 bpm.  This range is generally manageable enough to maintain for longer periods of time, allowing the body to switch from burning sugar (from bloodstream, muscles, and liver) to burning fat.  If you only exercise at this intensity for 20-30 minutes, your body will burn sugar but will not have enough time to convert over to using fat for energy.  I’m sorry to say, but that is just the way our bodies work…  The bottom line is this– if you want to lose weight (and keep it off), you have to exercise long enough to burn the fat. (Please note:  you should be able to carry on a conversation at this pace but if you can sing the national anthem while you exercise, then it’s time to pick up the pace!)

3.  If you are short on time, you can aim to do what is called “interval training” to force your body to burn off sugar more quickly and start burning fat.  In such a case, you would crank up the intensity for short periods of time (generally 90 seconds to 3 minutes) alternating with periods of recovery (90 seconds to 2 minutes).  To do so, you would aim for 85-95% of your MHR for the intense training period (150-168 bpm for a 43-year-old), which will challenge your body enough to significantly improve your physical stamina and rev the heck out of your metabolism.  Generally, this intensity cannot be sustained for long periods, so the recovery time is much appreciated (by both your body and mind!) and gets you ready for the next intense interval.  Alternating between hard and easy intensities is an excellent way to rev your metabolism, keep the body guessing, and stoke the fire for hours after your workout as well.

Here’s an example on how to incorporate these ideas into your weekly exercise schedule:

PART 1:  Choose 2-3 days a week for long, slow calorie burning exercise, maintaining your heart rate between 65-75% of your MHR, for 45-90 minutes.  This can be a brisk walk (unless you are super fit), jog, or time on an elliptical, stairclimber or stationary bike.  Changing your activities helps keep your body guessing too, so you may not want to just jog day in, day out (unless you are training for a race, of course!) in order to accomplish substantial weight loss.

PART 2:  Another 2-3 times per week, you will want to perform fat burning intervals, which is ideal for people who tend to be short on time, but still want to have an effective, intense workout.  After a 5-10 minute warm up at 50-65% MHR, start 90 second intervals of preferred activity at 85-95% MHR, alternating with 90 seconds of recovery at 50-65% MHR.  You will be working VERY hard during the intense periods, so make sure you breathe and stay focused, as a recovery period is just seconds away 😉 Repeat these intervals 5-8 times, then cool down for 5-10 minutes in the recovery HR zone.  Workout is done in 20-30 minutes!  Granted, it will be a hard 20-30 minutes, but well worth it.

Another fat burning interval option would be performing at 80-90% MHR for 3 minutes, alternating with 2 minute recovery periods at 50-65% MHR.  Repeat 5-8 times and finish with a 5-10 minutes cool down.

It is time to stop fooling yourself into thinking 30 minutes of easy-going exercise will be enough to help you accomplish your weight loss goals. Grab a heart rate monitor, calculate the heart rate ranges appropriate for you age, choose a few different activities you enjoy, and start employing these suggestions to get shape just in time for bathing suit season!

Should  you have any further questions, feel free to ask!

Happy Summer!  Happy Life!

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