Tag Archives: diet

Smarter Lunch Choices

Liven Up Your Lunch

Are you stuck in a lunch rut? Do you tend to eat the same lunch day after day or rotate between just a few types of meals? Whether you are currently working in an office and regularly bring your lunch from home or currently working from home, coming up with healthy and easy lunch ideas can sometimes be challenging, especially if you’re pressed for time. Nutritious and delicious lunches that are easy to make are possible. It just takes a little preplanning and creativity.

Sandwiches and soups are go-to lunch choices, especially if you’re taking your lunch from home to the office, and they are quick and easy to make. Liven up your lunch routine with some of these healthy and satisfying recipes.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches are a classic lunchtime staple. They’re easy, quick, and filling. But there are only so many ham and cheese sandwiches that you can eat! Up your sandwich-making game with these nutritious alternatives:

Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Salad Sandwich
This variation of plain chicken salad uses rotisserie chicken combined with tangy cranberries, walnuts, and celery on pumpernickel bread.

Prosciutto, Arugula, and Tomato Sandwich
An Italian version of the BLT uses prosciutto in place of bacon and vitamin-packed arugula instead of boring iceberg lettuce. Top with a juicy tomato and serve it on ciabatta bread.

Peanut Butter, Strawberry, and Honey Sandwich
A twist on the classic PB&J, this sandwich uses fresh strawberries in place of jelly with a sprinkle of honey and hint of mint. Serve it on 100 percent whole wheat bread for a complete healthy meal.

Roast Beef Sandwich
Make your own version of a deli favorite with roast beef, pickles, cucumbers, and mayo on a Kaiser roll.

Soup

Soup is also an easy lunchtime choice. You can buy premade soups, but there are many healthy soups that can be made at home and taken to work in a plastic container to heat up in your office microwave. As we head into fall and the weather begins to cool,  soups can be appealing as a lunch option. Be prepared by experimenting with some of these nutritious and hearty soup recipes:

Chickpea and Potato Soup
A protein-packed soup with potatoes, spinach, and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Pasta Fagioli Soup
A combination of fresh spinach, sausage, beans, and pasta make a filling meal. 

Italian Vegetable Beef Soup
A variation on the classic comfort food, this veggie soup features beef, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. You can add in any vegetables you choose, either fresh or frozen. 

South-of-the-Border Chicken Soup
This thick, hearty chicken soup mixes mashed and diced potatoes, seasoned with fresh lime juice, and topped with avocado.

Broccoli-Chicken Parmesan Soup
This healthy soup can be made with chicken for a protein-rich meal or made vegetarian-friendly by leaving out the chicken, using veggie broth, and adding more spinach.

10 Summer Salads to Keep You Cool and Satisfied

When it’s hot outside, having a heavy, hot meal doesn’t always sound appealing. Salads can be a refreshing, filling, and nutritious choice for lunch or dinner on sweltering summer days. There are so many delicious options for salads that go beyond basic iceberg lettuce!

Below you will find recipes for fresh summer salads that take advantage of seasonal vegetables and fruits and are easy to make. Serve salads as a side to your main dish or add a protein such as grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu, or steak to any salad to make it a main course.

Tomato, Peach, and Basil Salad
Use seasonal peaches and nectarines combined with feta cheese to create a sweet and savory salad.

Charred Shrimp and Avocado Salad
This light salad has a tropical taste with pineapple, shrimp, and avocado mixed with cucumber and watercress.

New Greek Salad
A twist on the traditional summer salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and feta cheese, combined with Kalamata olives and croutons made from olive bread.

Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken
Another summer favorite, this Cobb salad includes avocado, tomatoes, feta cheese, and crumbled bacon. Add grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken for an even quicker meal.

Grilled Watermelon Salad with Steak and Tomatoes
Watermelon is a summer staple that when grilled with steak creates a juicy flavor and satisfying meal.

Arugula, Melon, and Prosciutto Salad
A sweet and salty salad with cantaloupe, arugula, and prosciutto served with a red wine vinaigrette.

Grilled Chicken Mango Salad
Grilled chicken is cooked in mango cilantro dressing and combined with avocado, cucumbers, peppers, and romaine lettuce—finished off by more mango cilantro dressing.

Garbanzo Bean Salad with Dill Dressing
Protein from chickpeas and fiber-rich beans and veggies make this salad a filling meal.

Strawberry Summer Salad
A refreshing blend of spinach, strawberries, sliced red onion, chopped nuts, and feta drizzled with strawberry vinaigrette dressing.

Summer Caprese Salad
This summer classic is made with fresh summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil seasoned with olive oil.

Meatless Meat and More!

There’s More than “Meats” the Eye!

Veganism and plant-based diets have become a popular trend in recent years. Whether you are trying to go vegan or vegetarian, or you are just trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, finding alternatives for meat that taste good and provide enough protein and other nutrients can involve a little trial and error.

Meatless options have come a long way from just plain veggie or tofu burgers. There are now many options available that are easy to find—some even mimic the taste of real meat. The two most popular meatless products right now are the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, which both taste the closest to real beef than any of their predecessor veggie burgers. There are differences between these two meat alternatives, as well as other options, so read on to learn more about tasty ways you can go meatless.

Tofu
Tofu has been a staple of vegetarian diets for decades, as well as a foundation of Asian cuisine. Tofu is made from curdled soybeans. On its own, tofu lacks flavor, but when added to other foods, it will take on the flavors of other ingredients in the dish.

Tofu can be grilled, baked, or fried and can be used with various sauces, grains, and vegetables. It is great for stir-fry or as a replacement for eggs or cheese in some recipes.

Tempeh 
Tempeh gets easily confused with tofu, but it is not the same. Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans and is a complete protein and high in calcium. The fermentation process is also beneficial for gut bacteria, and tempeh is high in fiber, which also helps regulate digestion. Tempeh can be used as a meat substitute in sandwiches, salads, or cooked in a pan.

Seitan
Unlike tofu and tempeh, seitan is not soy-based, but rather made from wheat gluten. It is high in protein and is a good alternative for people with soy allergies or those who cannot eat soy-based products for other health reasons. The only downside to seitan is that it is not considered a complete protein, so it needs to be paired with others protein sources like beans or lentils. Seitan is a good choice for sandwiches or as a pizza topping, and it can be found in store-bought products such as meatless sausages or jerky. Just be mindful of reading labels as some seitan products can contain a lot of preservatives and sodium.

Pea Protein
Products made with pea protein are some of the newest foods on the market that you’ve probably been hearing a lot about. Products like Beyond Meat (e.g., Beyond Burgers, Smart Dogs, etc.) are popular products sold in many grocery stores.

These meat alternatives are some of the closest to real meat as far as taste and texture, and many fans claim it tastes just like ground beef. Pea protein products are gluten-free, soy-free, GMO-free, and packed with protein. However, some products are highly processed and contain food coloring and other additives, so it should not be eaten as a daily meat substitute, but indulging in a Beyond Burger once or twice a week is fine.

The Impossible Burger vs. Beyond Burger

Currently, the top meatless products on the market are the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger. Both taste almost like a real burger and have become popular due to their similarity in taste and texture to real beef. Both products are completely vegan, containing no animal products or by-products.

However, there are some differences between the two. Impossible Meat is a soy-based product while Beyond Meat is made from pea protein. Other than their main protein base, the two products’ other ingredients are pretty similar. The Beyond Burger does have a red color, similar to real beef, that comes from beet extract, while the Impossible Burger’s red tint gets its color from the heme from the leghemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying hemeprotein, found in root nodules of leguminous plants and which turns the older root nodule a pink or reddish color).

The Impossible Burger is made from mostly organic ingredients while the Beyond Burger is not. Beyond Meat makes more than just burgers, including sausage and meat crumbles. Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat can be substituted for ground beef in most recipes.

Impossible Burgers are now available at many popular restaurant chains including Burger King, Red Robin, Q’doba, and White Castle and can be bought in many grocery stores. Beyond Meat can be found at many national grocery store chains as well as at Carl’s Jr., TGI Friday’s, and Del Taco.

So which is better? The Impossible Burger or Beyond Burger? You may need to try both to see which you prefer. It should be noted that all Impossible Burgers and Beyond Burgers are not going to be identical, as each restaurant will prepare their meatless burgers differently.

 

 

Seven Small Diet Changes that Can Have a Big Impact

When they hear the word “diet,” most people envision a complete overhaul in their way of eating. They usually try restricting all the foods they enjoy and inevitably end up feeling deprived. It’s why most diets fail. Such restrictive eating cannot be sustained for the long term. But in order to lose weight without feeling deprived, and to ensure you are getting the proper nutrition your body needs, making small, consistent changes works better than trying to maintain any sort of restrictive diet plan or trying to make big changes all at once.

Making small changes to your diet that are both realistic and sustainable can have a big impact on your overall health. These minor changes won’t produce immediate results when it comes to weight loss, but if you add them to your daily life and stick to them, you will notice the health benefits, which will encourage you to keep making more small changes that will all add up to big payoffs in the long run.

Here are seven small changes you can make to your daily diet that will be beneficial for your health and help you in your weight-loss journey. Try making one small change at a time. After you have been able to stick with it for a week or two, then try making another change, and so on.

1. Don’t skip breakfast.
Research has shown that people who regularly eat breakfast are more successful in losing weight and keeping it off. If you’re pressed for time, breakfasts such as a whole wheat English muffin topped with peanut butter and banana, or low-fat yogurt with fresh berries and granola, or instant oatmeal, are quick choices that offer lots of protein and fiber to keep you full until lunch.

2. Trade refined grains for whole wheat grains.
An easy switch to make is choosing whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta instead of refined products. Always read labels to make sure breads and other products are made only with whole grains and not a mixture of refined and whole grain—whole wheat flour should be the first ingredient listed.

3. Eat fruit, don’t drink it.
Fruits are full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, but you only get these health benefits when fruits are eaten in their whole form, not in a juice. Plus, fruit juice almost always has added sugar and is often not even made from real fruit.

4. Cut out sugary drinks.
You’ve heard it before, but one of the easiest changes to make that will not only help with weight loss but will also make you feel better is cutting out sugary beverages like soft drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juices. Replace them with plain water, sparkling water, or even sugar-free beverages if you can’t kick the soda habit for good.

5. Skip the Starbucks.
Coffee on its own can be healthy because it contains antioxidants. But most coffee drinks purchased at popular coffee bars and restaurants are essentially desserts. Those fancy coffee drinks may taste delicious, but they’re loaded with sugar, sweeteners, syrup, milk, and/or heavy cream. Try drinking black coffee instead and adding just a small amount of low-fat milk.

6. Increase protein.
Add protein to all of your meals and snacks to help you feel full and to curb cravings. Smart choices include lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy products, beans, peanut butter, and nuts in small portions.

7. Swap unhealthy oils for healthy oils.
Cooking oils such as vegetable oil, canola oil, and soybean oil are highly processed and high in “bad” fats. Instead, choose extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil that contains  healthy (the “good”) fats—omega-3 fatty acids.

By taking baby steps in revamping your diet, you’ll be more likely to stick to it and be successful.

Refueling Your Body Post-Workout

You’ve been pushing yourself in your weekly workouts, trying to reach your personal goals whether it’s to increase fitness or build muscle. Most likely, you’ve been careful about what you eat before you exercise, but what you eat after a vigorous workout is just as important. The right nutrition can replenish energy stores, build and repair muscle that was broken down during a workout, and help keep your metabolism strong.

When refueling after a workout, the sooner the better. Research shows that if you wait to eat for two hours after your workout, it decreases your body’s ability to refill muscle stores by 50 percent compared to eating right away after exercising. It’s best to eat or drink something that combines protein and carbohydrates 30 minutes to one hour after exercising.

Studies have shown that consuming carbohydrates immediately after exercise is an excellent strategy to maximize rates of muscle glycogen synthesis, which means restoring energy to muscle cells. Similarly, eating additional protein within an hour after a workout is also shown to improve muscle glycogen stores. Drinking plenty of water, or sometimes a sports recovery drink after very strenuous workouts, is also necessary for rehydration.

Post-workout meals don’t have to be complicated nor do they require special supplements or expensive shakes. It just takes a little planning and preparation so you have a meal ready to go after your workout. For example, if you work out at a gym, you may want to pack a pre-made meal to take along with you, such as a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.

These examples of post-workout foods combine the necessary carbohydrates and protein and are quick and easy to make:

  • Grilled chicken (4 oz.) and brown rice (½ cup)
  • Egg scramble made with eggs and vegetables such as sweet potatoes or avocado
  • Peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich made on whole grain bread with all-fruit preserves
  • Whole grain wrap with lean meat, beans, avocado, or cheese
  • Whole wheat toast with 3 oz. of tuna and 2 oz. of hummus and spinach
  • Protein shake made with half a banana, one scoop of protein powder, and almond milk
  • Chocolate milk (1 cup)

 

Foods to Boost Metabolism

Our metabolism, or the rate at which our bodies burn calories, is largely determined by age, height, and genes. However, there are a few ways to increase your body’s energy use and boost metabolism. One way is through exercise, and the other way is through eating the right food.

While eating certain foods can speed up or slow down your metabolism and will effect weight loss, it’s actually much more complex than a simple “eat this food to boost your metabolism and lose weight.”

For weight loss and weight maintenance, the amount of food we eat also matters. Eating a well-balanced meal that is high in protein, fiber, and good fats will make you feel fuller and will be more satisfying so that you are less likely to overeat at the next meal. On the other hand, if you do not eat enough calories, your body will use your muscles for energy, resulting in a loss of muscle mass and a sluggish metabolism.

There is no one miracle food that can have such a profound effect on metabolism that it would cause you to lose weight. But there are certain foods that may help increase your metabolism, as well as other foods that you should only eat in moderation or eliminate altogether.

Here are five foods that help boost your metabolism.

1. Avocados – Avocados are  high in both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that can help promote satiety. They can also help reduce inflammation in the body. If you are trying to lose weight, just be careful of portion sizes and stick with eating only one-fourth to half an avocado.

2. Chili peppers – Spicy foods like chili peppers can help rev up your metabolism. Chili peppers in particular contain capsaicin, which experts have found can speed up metabolism.

3. Beans – Beans are a great source of protein and contain lots of fiber that helps to keep you full.

4. Whole grains – Replacing white flour products with whole grains that contain lots of fiber will keep you full longer, and according to a 2017 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating whole grains may create a “modest increase” in resting metabolic rate.

5. Eggs – Eggs are high in protein, low in calories, and fill you up. They’re also a good source of B vitamins, which have been shown to increase metabolism.

Working these foods into a well-balanced, healthy daily diet along with a regular exercise program can help boost your metabolism. At the same time, there are certain foods you should avoid that can slow down your metabolism. These include refined grains like those found in processed, packaged foods, sugary drinks such as fruit juice, energy drinks, soft drinks, and alcohol, as well as granola and soybean oil.

Holiday Eating Without the Guilt

Food is everywhere during the holiday season. From office parties to family gatherings to school functions to cookie exchanges, celebrations this time of year revolve around food. And really good food too—it’s hard to resist all of the rich desserts, creamy dips, cheese balls, hors d’oeuvres, and eggnog this time of year, nor should you have to. But you also don’t want to completely unravel the healthy eating habits you’ve established this year or gain any unwanted pounds.

How can you enjoy all of the holiday goodies without feeling guilty? Here are some holiday eating tips that will allow you to savor every bite this season while still maintaining moderation and hopefully doing minimal damage to your waistline.

Skip seconds.
Don’t pass up your favorite holiday foods, but do skip seconds. By filling your plate with the foods you enjoy the most, you will be more mindful of not overeating.

Less is more.
Choose to eat two of your favorite Christmas cookies instead of four; have just one crescent roll instead of two, and so on.

Make a swap.
If there are specific foods you don’t want to miss out on, such as pecan pie or gingerbread, then limit other foods at the meal such as bread or potatoes to save on calories.

It’s OK to say no.
Remember, it is perfectly acceptable to turn down food offered to you by others. Simply say, “No, thank you,” or “I am full,” when offered something you don’t want. You are not obligated to eat everything the host offers.

Leave the leftovers.
Pass on the leftovers. Try to limit your indulgence to a special occasion such as a party or family gathering, then get back to your regular, healthy eating patterns the next day. Leftovers in the fridge are too tempting to grab when you’re in a hurry instead of making a healthy meal.

Tackle the buffet, but in moderation.
When faced with a bountiful buffet table, fill your plate with moderate portions. It may be tempting to sample everything, but instead, get one small serving of the dishes you like the most, and then feel free to add more fresh veggies or fruits to keep you full. Use a small plate to help control portions.

Take just a bite.
Have just a few bites of that rich, creamy dessert rather than the whole thing. You don’t need a large amount of food to enjoy celebrating with family and friends.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
If you plan to enjoy alcoholic drinks, be sure to drink one glass of water between every alcoholic drink to stay hydrated and to help with digestion.

Give yourself permission to enjoy all of the foods you may not normally eat the rest of the year, and then get back on track with your regular routine the next day.

Healthier Thanksgiving Day Options

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s meant to be enjoyed while surrounded by good food, family, and friends. It is perfectly okay and even expected to indulge at Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy your favorite foods. But you also don’t have to let this one day derail your healthy eating.

Traditional Thanksgiving foods are actually great for both eating healthy and for satisfying your cravings. Thanksgiving staples such as sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries, corn, pumpkin, and, of course, turkey are all nutrient-rich dishes—the key is in how they are prepared.

Here are some alternatives for some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes to make them into healthier options:

Sweet Potato Casserole/Candied Yams
Classic sweet potato casserole or candied yams are often made with lots of butter, sugar, brown sugar, and marshmallows. It’s basically less of a side dish and more of a dessert. For a healthier option, you can bake, roast, boil, or mash sweet potatoes and top them with a tiny bit of maple syrup and fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Check out the following recipes. 

Stuffing 
While these may be easier, boxed stuffing mixes are usually high in sodium and preservatives. They are also usually made using white bread, so starting with a whole wheat bread base automatically makes it a better option because it contains more fiber and is better for digestion. Using low-sodium chicken broth and fresh spices to round out your stuffing makes a flavorful, healthier version. Here are some other healthy stuffing recipes.

Turkey
As the main event of the Thanksgiving meal, turkey is a lean protein that can be a very healthy choice as long as it’s prepared properly. They key is to prepare the turkey without adding too much sodium and extra calories. Try some of these recipes for cooking your turkey.

Cranberry Sauce
Canned cranberry sauce is quick and easy, but it’s also chock full of sugar and sodium. Cranberries are a super food, so don’t skimp on this side dish. Fresh cranberry sauce is easy to make and can add a colorful and healthful option to your holiday meal. This easy cranberry sauce recipe uses fresh or frozen cranberries and orange or lemon zest.

Pumpkin Pie
Don’t skip dessert, especially if it’s pumpkin pie that is full of healthy beta-carotene and fiber. Ditch the whipped cream and use more spices and other ingredients to keep the sugar content as low as possible when making your pie. Try one of these healthy pumpkin pie recipes.

Halloween Candy: How Much Exercise to Burn Off Your Favorite Treats?

The only thing truly scary about Halloween is the potential weight gain from indulging in all of the candy and treats this time of year. While a few nibbles here and there aren’t likely to do much damage, those yummy bite-size candies you steal from your little goblin’s Halloween bag can really add up when it comes to calories. And who can eat just one fun-size Snickers or mini-Reese’s Cup?

But have no fear! By stepping up your exercise routine, you can burn off those spooky snacks so you aren’t haunted by those creepy calories for months to come.

Here is how much exercise you’ll need to do in order to burn off the extra calories from your favorite Halloween treats.

  • Fun-size Kat bar (3 pieces/210 calories): Run 20 minutes or walk at a moderate pace for one hour.
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (1 individual cup/105 calories): Cycle for 25 minutes or swim laps for 15 minutes.
  • Fun-size Almond Joy (1 bar/80 calories): High-impact aerobics class for 15 minutes, 30 minutes of yoga or 15 minutse of golf.
  • Fun-size Snickers bar (2 bars/160 calories): 45 minutes of weight training or yoga class for one hour.
  • Fun-size M&Ms (3 mini-packs/180 calories): Cross-country hiking for 30 minutes or go dancing with friends for 30 minutes.
  • Fun-size Hershey’s Chocolate bar (1 bar/77 calories): 10 minutes of racquetball or jump rope slowly for 10 minutes.
  • Fun-size Whoppers (2 bags/60 calories): 10 minutes on trowing machine or take a one-mile slow jog.
  • Candy Corn (20 pieces/140 calories): Walk at a brisk pace for 35 minutes or play ping pong for 30 minutes.

So eat, drink, and be scary this Halloween. Just remember to be mindful of how many handfuls of those mini-chocolate bars you’re eating so you don’t over-boo it!

Happy Halloween!

It’s All in the (Nutrition) Label!

What! I just ate 460 calories! The label said 230 calories. This is a mistake almost everyone will sometimes make, especially if he or she is very hungry and grabs a snack to ease those hunger pangs. We don’t focus on the serving size or the servings per container on the nutrition label. We only see in large print the number of calories.

Help is on the way. As of January 2020, the Food and Drug Administration is requiring updated information on nutrition labels as well as a label design that will make it easier for consumers to choose foods that support a healthy diet.

On the new label, the number of servings will be shown in a bolder and larger font, and the serving size will represent more accurately the portion most Americans consume. The most noticeable information on the label will be the calorie count of a single serving.

The new label will also give you information about the amount of sugar or sweeteners that are added during processing or packaging of the food—listed as Added Sugar.

More Americans have deficiencies in Vitamin D and potassium which will be listed on the new label, but vitamins A and C will no longer be listed, since deficiencies in these two are now rare.

And the footnote at the bottom of the label more clearly explains the meaning of “daily value.”

It should be noted that companies with more than ten million in revenue must comply with the new labeling by January 2020,  while single-supply manufacturers and companies

Source: https://www.labelcalc.com/

below the ten million revenue mark have until January 2021 to comply.

See the example of the current label and the new label (outlines show changes) that will appear in January 2020.