Guacamole is pretty amazing. It’s creamy, flavorful, and the perfect accompaniment to your tortilla chip. Guac is relatively healthy as far as dips and spreads go, but not when it’s consumed by the cup full. As I’ve mentioned before, avocados are one of those “healthy foods” that can be sneakily sabotaging your diet because they are so calorically dense.
In an effort to cut back the calories and boost the nutrition, I have subbed some of the avocados for pureed edamame in this recipe. You will still get your daily dose of heart healthy Mufas (Monosaturated fats), but less total fat and more protein. Don’t fret, this doesn’t taste like bean dip. Perhaps it’s a tad like guacamole infused hummus, but mainly it just tastes like the gucamole we know and love. This guac is not at all lacking in flavor, it has that wonderful fresh clean flavor of the cilantro and a nice spicy kick from the jalapeno. If you don’t like it spicy I would recommend using only half a jalapeno.
Here’s a fun fact, the guacamole Chipotle adds to your burrito has 230 calories, just for that one dollop! That’s double the calories of that watery sour cream they give you. Avocado does have health benefits over sour cream, so I’m not recommending you skip it all together. Next time, order your guac on the side and share with a friend. Boom. 100 calorie savings. And only one of you will have to pay extra. In the mean time, when you are not at chipotle, make this guacamole and put it on everything!
We eat for many different reasons. We eat because we are hungry, bored, stressed, sad, happy, and pretty much every emotion in between. The ultimate goal would be to eat only in times of physical hunger, but that is not always the case. Below are some healthy snacks to try depending on your mood and hunger level.
If you are feeling hangry (hungry and angry) go for a hearty snack that includes some protein and healthy fats. Both protein and fat can help keep us full longer than carbohydrates, which digest more quickly. For those times that you are very hungry, make an at home McMuffin. Toast half of a whole grain English muffin, top with an egg and 1/4 of an avocado. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. You can use a precooked hard boiled egg to reduce prep time and clean up. (250 calories, 8 grams protein) For a sweeter take, try peanut or almond butter, thinly sliced apple, and cinnamon sprinkled on top (215 calories, 5 grams protein).
If you are feeling bored and really need a snack just to keep your mouth or your hands entertained, go for something low calorie and crunchy. Like celery and red bell pepper sticks. Celery is fibrous and takes a little time to chew so it can keep your mouth occupied for a while. Red bell pepper is flavorful and filled with nutrients like vitamin C. Winning combo for a low cal snack. ( 20 calories, 0.5 grams protein).
If you are craving something sweet, back away from the ice cream carton and try this instead. Vanilla Greek Yogurt with raspberries and two tablespoons whole grain cereal mixed in. For the chocolate lover replace the cereal with one tablespoon mini dark chocolate chips. (190 calories, 12 grams protein)
For the salt seeker, pass the potato chips and say hello to the edamame. Edamame is naturally low in sodium, but with a sprinkle of salt or garlic it can satisfy that salty craving. Edamame is a great source of vegetarian protein and it is also high in fiber. (1/2 cup serving = 95 calories, 8 grams protein).
If you feel like going to the movies and you know you can’t resist that buttery smell the theaters waft through the air, go prepared! Bring your own air popped popcorn and one skinny cow chocolate bar. That way you can have your treats and you don’t have to pay those ridiculous movie theater prices or buy GIANT candy bars. Whats worse, when you buy a popcorn at the concession stand they are most definitely going to guilt you into buying the extra grande soda because it is only twenty cents more. Just say no to super sizing. Say yes to bringing an extra large purse to sneak your loot into the theater. (1 skinny cow chocolate bar plus 3 cups air popped popcorn = 225 calories, 4 grams protein).
Did you know that you can air pop popcorn in the microwave in a brown paper bag? Read how here.
Those are some of my favorite snacks. What healthy snacks do you enjoy?
Super bowl is coming. Do you a have veg friendly appetizer to serve? If not, now you do. Let me introduce you to cauliflower buffalo “wings.” They are spicy, crispy, and messy just like the original chicken wings, but without those questionable fatty/stringy ligament parts. I really don’t like meat, but sometimes I miss the sauces that tend to accompany meat. Barbeque sauce, hot sauce, honey mustard, I can’t put all of this on tofu. In comes cauliflower to save the day!
This recipe is vegetarian, but can easily be made vegan by subbing the buttermilk for water or dairy free milk. The key to make these buffalo bites good is letting them get nice and crispy in both rounds of cooking. I found several recipes online, and most of them only call for a 5- 10 minute cook the second round. Not enough time at all, give them a good 20 minutes and a little broil too if they aren’t browning up.
These wings are spicy. What do spicy foods help us with? In case you missed it find out here. Because they are so spicy you are going to need a nice creamy dipping sauce to stop your mouth from burning. This dipping sauce is simple, healthy, and delicious! Definitely make the dip, it’s also great with veggie sticks, potato chips, and probably regular chicken wings too. Don’t buy bottled salad dressing. I’m not a bleu cheese fan, but if you are into the moldy stuff go ahead and throw some bleu cheese crumbles on top!
Is a slow metabolism to blame for your weight gain? It’s possible, but unlikely unless you have a medical condition such as hypothyroidism.
Metabolism is the process of converting the food we eat into the energy (calories) we burn. If you have ever taken biochemistry you know that metabolism is actually a very complicated process, but I won’t bore you with the hellish details of ATP formation. For the details, take a look at the diagram below.
Even while sleeping our bodies are burning calories to carry out processes such as respiration, blood circulation, and cellular repair. The minimum amount of calories our bodies need to function at rest is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). On average, the BMR accounts for approximately 70% of our daily calorie needs. The other 30% comes from our daily activities and exercise.To estimate your BMR multiply your body weight in pounds by 10 for women and 11 for men. For example, a woman who weighs 150 pounds would burn 1500 calories per day if she were to lay on the couch all day, a man would burn 1650 doing the same thing.
There are several factors which affect the basal metabolic rate, most of which we cannot control. Some of these factors are our sex (men have higher BMR’s than women, lame), our genetics, and our age (BMR decreases with age). Factors which we can control include our body composition (the leaner you are the higher your BMR) and our body weight (a heavier person will have a higher BMR than a lighter person). This is in contrast to what is commonly believed that overweight people have a “slow” metabolism. If you weigh 300 pounds your metabolism is faster than someone who weighs 100 pounds. As you lose weight your metabolic rate decreases, which is partly why many people hit a plateau when they are dieting. Initially you may be able to lose weight on an 1800 calorie diet, but as the weight comes off your metabolic rate decreases and you have to further decrease your calorie intake or increase your calorie expenditure.
So what can we do to increase our metabolic rate?
Build Muscle. The single best advice is to increase your lean body mass through strength training. One pound of muscle at rest will burn 6 calories per day, just to maintain itself. While one pound of body fat will burn only 2 calories per day. Aim to strength train at least twice per week. If you’re goal is to build mass the heavier the better. Throw those 3 pound weights aside ladies! You are stronger than that!
Eat Spicy Foods. There is a little something called the thermic effect of food, which is the increase in metabolic rate after the ingestion of a meal. When you eat your body has to do some extra work to digest, absorb, and store the nutrients. In studies, spicy foods, like hot chili peppers which contain capsaicin increase the metabolic rate by about 8%. This could translate into an extra 90 calorie burn. While this is a small increase, it is significant and there is no harm in throwing a little extra red pepper on your food.
Sip Green Tea. Green tea is a rich source of antioxidants called catechins. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking green tea combined with three hours of moderate exercise a week reduced abdominal fat in subjects over a three month period. It’s best to drink home brewed green tea, as opposed to store bought bottled tea which tends to be lower in antioxidants and high in sugar. Five cups or more of green tea per day is recommended to see an increase in metabolic rate.
High Intensity Exercise. Everyone knows you burn calories by exercising. But, when we exercise at a high intensity we not only burn calories during the exercise, but we continue to burn more calories after the exercise. Something called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) allows us to have a higher metabolic rate following exercise. A sizable metabolic increase only occurs with intense exercise. That is why it may be better to try a 20 min jog with sprint intervals, than a 40 minute walk.
While at the gym last week, the chalkboard read “10 Foods to Accelerate Your Metabolism.” These foods included spinach, grapefruit, dark chocolate, bananas, etc. While these foods are healthy, there is no evidence that they have any affect on your metabolism. Whoever wrote that list better hope they don’t run into me because I will call them out on their bullshit. The above tips are proven scientific ways to increase your metabolism, and although the effect is small, it may give you that extra edge you are looking for.
I have this chocolate almond milk in my fridge which I bought to use as coffee creamer. It works great as coffee creamer and is much healthier than standard coffee mate. The problem is I’m only using a tablespoon or two at a time and I’m never going to finish the carton before it goes bad. So I thought to myself, what can I make with chocolate almond milk? The obvious would be a smoothie or shake. But I’m not feeling smoothies for the winter time. It’s cold when I wake up, I don’t want to drink a cold smoothie also. You know what is hot and fluffy and delicious though? Pancakes! Chocolate Almond Milk Pancakes to be exact.
I woke up this morning, not feeling so good. Lethargic, stuffy nose, burning throat, perfect way to start off my three day snowboarding trip. My cabin mates are going to love me. Maybe at least this time I can sleep in the closet instead of with the snorer. I really didn’t want to cook or blog this morning, all I wanted to do was sleep. One of my goals is three blog posts per week, so i just forced myself to function and I busted out these babies in about ten minutes, right before I had to leave for my ski trip. It was totally worth it! There is something about the almond milk that makes theses pancakes even more fluffy than just using regular milk. I don’t know what it is, but it is good. I happened to have some leftover berries in my fridge so I topped them with a dusting of powdered sugar and berries. Feel free to use any fruit you have on hand, cinnamon spiced apples, bananas or berries! But do make sure that you include some type of fruit when you eat these pancakes, it will make me feel better. Given that I still have to pack and I need to leave in thirty minutes, I’m just going to list the ingredients. You know how to make pancakes, right?
Chocolate Almond Milk Pancakes
1 cup bisquick
3/4 cup chocolate almond milk
1 organic egg
1 Tbsp. peanutbutter (optional)
top with fresh berries or seasonal fruit
Serves 2 hungry people, or 3 not-so hungry people.
In today’s hyperconnected world we are bombarded with health and diet information. Everyone from Dr. Oz to your next door neighbor is a self-declared nutrition expert. (Have you noticed that I’m not so fond of Dr. Oz?) While it’s great that we have easy access to health information, some of it may not always be true. Here are some common diet myths debunked.
Myth: Eating after 8 P.M. will make you gain weight.
Truth: It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat. When it comes to losing weight what matters most is the total amount of calories consumed versus the total amount of calories burned. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight; regardless of when those calories were consumed. Your body is constantly burning calories (even when you sleep) so food eaten late at night will not “stick” anymore than food eaten in the morning.
However, many people do tend to overeat at night, whether it be from boredom or stress. If you find that you are a “night eater” it may be a good idea to set a limit of not eating past a certain hour so you do not exceed your overall calorie requirement. Next time you want to grab an evening treat ask yourself, am I truly hungry or am I just bored?
Myth: Brown sugar is healthier for you than white sugar
Truth: The brown sugar sold at grocery stores is actually white granulated sugar with added molasses. Brown sugar contains the same amount of calories and sugar as white sugar. Similarly, there are no real health benefits of using maple syrup or honey instead of white sugar. Honey is useful for soothing a sore throat, but that’s another topic. Brown sugar, pure maple syrup, and honey do contain trace amounts of minerals. Unless you are downing a whole cup of maple syrup or honey (which I don’t recommend) the minerals are insignificant.
By the Numbers
1 cup white granulated sugar = 773 calories, 200 grams sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar = 836 calories, 213 grams sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup = 819 calories, 214 grams sugar
1 cup honey = 1031 calories, 278 grams sugar
As you can see the calories and sugar content of the first three products are similar. Honey exceeds white sugar by over 200 calories. Honey is a bit sweeter than white sugar so it is possible to use a smaller amount of honey and obtain the same sweetness.
Myth: Avoid carbohydrates (carbs) to lose weight
Truth: Cutting out carbs will help you lose weight initially because you will be losing water weight. When reducing carbs your body will burn glycogen as opposed to glucose. Glycogen (the storage form of glucose) contains a lot of water and for the first couple of weeks you may see a big drop in your weight due to the water loss. If you continue to lose weight it is only because you are reducing your overall calorie intake, not because there is anything magical about cutting carbohydrates.
If it works, then why not do it? Carbohydrates are important for a balanced diet and they are a good source of fiber. Additionally, they are your main energy source when exercising. Carbohydrates are found in grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk products which provide essentials vitamins and minerals. Eating smaller portions of carbohydrates is okay, but eliminating them from your diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics a balanced diet should contain 50-60% of calories from carbohydrates, 25-30% calories from fat, and 15-20% calories from protein. If you have diabetes I would recommend going as low as 30-40% of total calories from carbohydrate.
Myth: Eating a lot of sugar causes diabetes
Truth: If you already have diabetes, you do need to watch your sugar and total carbohydrate intake to manage your blood glucose. However, if you do not have diabetes, high sugar intake will not cause you to develop the disease. The main risk factors for Type II diabetes are being overweight or obese, having a sedentary lifestyle, and family history of the disease. It is recommended to consume a diet with low to moderate amounts of added sugar for overall health, as sugar contains zero nutrients but many calories. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugars and men no more than 9 teaspoons. As a reference, one can of soda contains 9 teaspoons of added sugars.
Did any of these myths fool you? What other diet myths have you heard?
Lately I’ve been getting a bit bored with my usual oatmeal every morning. And oatmeal is not easy to eat when you’re rushing out the door to get to work on time. Generally I’m a staunch advocate of not eating in the car, but breakfast is an exception. As long as it’s homemade, I don’t feel too guilty. So instead of trying to scarf my oatmeal at red lights, I created these oatmeal muffins! Muffins are much more portable than oatmeal, and not susceptible to hardening over time, in case I need to counsel a few clients and then eat my breakfast, ha!
Originally I planned to make cinnamon apple muffins, but then a friend brought over a batch of botched candied cranberries (say that five times fast) and I knew I had to use those as well! The cranberries added a burst of flavor with a little tang which I really enjoy. This recipe is inspired by a Cooking Light recipe for blueberry muffins.
Seeing as most store-bought muffins are really cupcakes in disguise, I knew if I wanted to feel good about eating a muffin for breakfast I would have to make it myself. These muffins have whole grains and fruit, two requirements for a healthy breakfast. They are also not loaded with sugar and have zero trans fat. At only 190 calories per muffin you can totally eat two, or perhaps one muffin and one egg for a little extra protein.
Thanks to everyone who commented on the giveaway post. I’m excited to announce our giveaway winner is (cue drum roll please) Sarah Tillema! Congratulations, you have won two free lunch tickets at Urbane Cafe. Maybe you want to invite me as your lunch date?Check your email, I will be emailing you for your address.
When recreating my favorite protein salad from Urbane Cafe I learned why kitchen staff have to wear non-slip shoes. Every time I have been forced to don non-slip shoes in a kitchen I thought it was a total joke. Now I know better, slipping is serious business, and those ugly shoes are probably worth the fashion faux pas!
Last weekend when preparing this salad I discovered that cute boots and a garbanzo bean on a wood floor can be catastrophic. As I was carrying my perfectly plated salad into the dining room my boot found that darn little bean. All of a sudden my feet slid out beneath me and I was laying on my back on the kitchen floor. My salad plate literally flew from the kitchen, half way across the dining room and the dressing went everywhere! Including the floors, the chairs, the walls and even the ceiling! Needless to say, I survived without any major injuries, and from now on I am going to put on those unsightly non-slip cooking shoes. Thanks to my college food service teacher for making me buy them.
It’s not often that you will find nuts in a pasta dish, unless it’s pine nuts, which are not super nutritious. Being the “Nutty” Nutritionist my goal is to put nuts in everything I make, or almost everything. You may think it’s weird to put pistachios in your pasta, but give it a try. The flavors meld perfectly with the asparagus in this dish, and they give the pasta a nice little crunch. Not to mention the wonderful nutrients that are in pistachios. Pistachios are the lowest calorie nut and they are a great source of potassium and B vitamins, particularly thiamin and B6. One serving of pistachios is 45 nuts, compared to only 23 almonds or 14 walnut halves.
I could have named this pistachio protein pasta, but I didn’t want to be that annoying nutritionist that titles all of her posts with “protein.” For example, my Protein Salad. So, I went with power. Power because this pasta is full of carbs (which give you energy), and also full of protein (which helps build muscle). The protein comes from my secret ingredient in the sauce – plain Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt has between 12 and 15 grams of protein per 6 oz serving. Regular yogurt only has 3-5 grams of protein per serving. Usually white sauce is made with two main ingredients, butter and heavy whipping cream. This recipe uses minimal butter and Greek Yogurt instead of heavy whipping cream, making it higher in protein and much lower in saturated fat.
This recipe was inspired by my favorite pasta dish at Viva La Pasta; number 8, no prosciutto. The Viva version is soo creamy and delicious, but due to its high fat content it sometimes gives me a stomach ache. If you have had your gallbladder removed you will definitely know what I’m talking about. My lightened up version has all of the flavor but no unpleasant side effects. Try it out for yourself!
At the start of a new year everyone is trying to lose weight. That means diet pills, protein shakes, and fad diets will be knocking at your front door. But don’t give in my friends! Yes, I think shedding some extra pounds is a great idea. It’s a great idea any time of the year, and if you feel extra motivated at the start of January then that is even better! I have compiled a list of the do’s and don’ts of successful weight loss. These are my best kept secrets, not only as a Registered Dietitian, but also as a woman that has lost 30 pounds and kept if off for eight years.
Do get support and help from friends, family, or health professionals. And when I say professionals, I mean actual professionals, NOT sales people. My support came from my rugby team and friends. Join a group or go for one-on-one help, whichever you think will work best for you and your goals. If you have no extra money for support groups then just a find a friend and encourage each other to eat healthy and reach your goals.
Do practice mindful eating. Savor your food. Think about the flavor, aroma, texture of your food. Sit down at the table to eat. Turn off the TV/computer/IPAD. Eat slowly and enjoy. A meal should take at least 20 minutes to eat.
Do keep a food journal (electronic or paper). Write down everything that you eat for at least one week. It’s best to write it soon after eating, don’t wait until the end of the day. At the end of the day review what you ate. Did you eat any vegetables, what about fruits? If you find that you are an emotional eater I would also recommend writing down your feelings and hunger level pre-and post-meal.
Do eat three balanced meals and 1-2 healthy snacks in between if you are hungry. Six small meals per day is not practical for most people. Who has time for that? Three meals is more consistent with a “typical” schedule. The science shows that it does not matter how many times you eat, rather it is the total calories consumed throughout the day which is important.
Do exercise. Find something you love and it won’t feel like exercise. Enough said.
Don’t buy the latest and greatest supplement, diet pill, or get-thin-quick plan. Diet pills can be downright dangerous; causing heart irregularities, hypertension, rashes, headaches and a myriad of other health problems. Natural supplements are often times safe but tend to be ineffective. Personally, I steer clear of both. In terms of commercial diets such as Slim Fast, Medi Fast, and Herbalife, if you follow them they will likely work. The problem is that following these plans long term is incredibly difficult and expensive.
Don’t be a slave to the scale. It takes time for lasting weight loss to happen. It’s generally recommended to lose 1-2 pounds per week. TV shows such as the Biggest Loser can sometimes lead us to think we are a failure if we don’t lose at least 10 pounds per week. If you can consistently lose one pound per week you are a winner for sure!
Don’t have an all or nothing mentality. It’s a new year, you are feeling motivated, you want to eat clean for the whole month. That is a great challenge, but if you slip up, know that it is okay. A bump in the road does not mean you should completely give up. The goal is little changes that you can sustain for the rest of your life.
I hope these tips help you accomplish your health goals in 2015. If you are looking for more individualized help and meal plans contact me at Heathermason86 @ gmail.com.
Last but not least, enjoy these photos from my Mom’s trip to Eugene, Oregon. They are just so pretty, I feel like they need to be shared with the world.