Tag Archives: healthy living

Dining out on a Diet: Our Guide to Atlanta’s Healthiest Hot Spots

Everyone loves to go out to eat; a statement made evident by the fact that Americans eat out an average of 4-5 times a week. And why not? It’s quick, easy, clean-up free, and a great way to get out and socialize with family and friends. However, studies have shown that the average restaurant meal contains over 1000 calories, which can make dining out on a diet nearly impossible. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to stay in and cook every single night, so what’s the solution to this calorie conundrum? We’ve put together a review of Atlanta-area restaurants that offer up healthier alternatives to the calorie bombs you’d encounter elsewhere. So go ahead and treat yourself to a fun night out, minus the guilt!

Seasons 52

If you’re looking for the perfect Friday night date spot, but want to avoid the rich and hearty fare often offered at romantic restaurants, Seasons 52 is the perfect choice. The atmosphere is casually sophisticated, and the menu offers a wide variety of healthy dishes prepared with fresh, local ingredients. The theme at Seasons 52 is “healthy indulgence,” and it delivers just that; delicious fare that you can enjoy without feeling guilty afterward. The menu features everything from baked flatbreads to grilled seafood to wood-fired steaks, lamb and pork chops, along with an extensive wine list. Even better? Nothing on the menu is over 500 calories, and the nutritional information on each dish is readily available to help you make the right choice for you. The best part? You can even enjoy a guilt-free dessert! All of the dessert offerings at Seasons 52 are served in a shot glass, so you get just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth without feeling like you’ve demolished your diet, and with flavors like key lime pie, rocky road, and chocolate peanut butter mousse, who could resist a little post-meal indulgence?

Seasons 52 is located in Buckhead at 3050 Peachtree Rd. NW and in Dunwoody at 90 Perimeter Center West.

Cafe Sunflower

For all of the vegetarian/vegans out there, Cafe Sunflower is a must-stop spot in Atlanta. A small, cafe-like feel with simple decor, reasonable prices, and a casual vibe, Cafe Sunflower is the perfect place to enjoy a light lunch with friends or a weeknight dinner date without breaking your wallet or your waistline. If your strictly vegan, it’s difficult if not almost impossible to find a dish let alone a whole menu that caters to your dietary restrictions, but Cafe Sunflower does just that. Everything on the menu is meat-free, and the few dishes that include dairy products such as real cheese are labeled as such so that any level of vegan can easily navigate the menu and find something they can eat. And with menu items such as Berry Barbecue Tempeh, Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash, and Orzo Eggplant Lasagna, who wouldn’t find something to please their palate?

Sunflower Cafe is located in Buckhead at 2140 Peachtree Rd. NW and in Sandy Springs at 5975 Roswell Rd.

R. Thomas Deluxe Grill

No article on healthy restaurants in Atlanta would be complete without R. Thomas, a family-owned eatery that has become a landmark in the Brookwood Hills neighborhood since it’s opening back in 1985. Self-described as an “oasis in the city,” R. Thomas’ eclectic decor and trademark patio surrounded by various plants and caged tropical birds, it certainly lives up to that description. The menu is based on the philosophy that food is medicine, and that a diet free of preservatives and pesticides will ultimately lead to better health. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and menu items include everything from quinoa stir-frys to pastas to grilled chicken and fish to Southwestern entrees such as tacos, burritos and wraps. They are also known for their fresh, made to order juices and smoothies, making it the perfect stop for a pre-workout fuel-up or post-workout snack. Also, R. Thomas is open 24/7, so Atlantans can enjoy fresh, healthy fare any time of day, any day of the week.

R. Thomas is located in Brookwood Hills at 1812 Peachtree st. NW.

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen is a growing restaurant chain which recently expanded into Atlanta with their newest location at Lenox Mall in Buckhead. The basis of the cuisine at True Food Kitchen comes from the anti-inflammatory diet, an eating plan designed to reduce chronic inflammation which can cause a number of health issues and diseases. Inflammatory foods are those that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, and are prepared without the use of added fats, oils, butter, and salt. True Food Kitchen aims to popularize these healthy foods by preparing them in a way that looks good and tastes good too, and serving them in a trendy restaurant environment that will bring people in whether they’re grabbing a quick bite during the workday or enjoying a Friday night out with friends. The menu offers a wide variety of dishes including salads, pizzas, appetizers, entrees, sandwiches and burgers using lean meats such as turkey and bison instead of beef. They also have a selection of natural refreshments using antioxidant-rich fruits, veggies, spices and teas as ingredients. Even the restaurant itself is sustainable, using recycled wood and materials in their floors and furnishings. With it’s fresh, tasty cuisine and bright, fun atmosphere True Food Kitchen is one chain that’s definitely worth a try; just order the edamame dumpling appetizer and you’ll see what I mean!

True Food Kitchen is located in the Lenox Square Mall at 3393 Peachtree Rd. NE

Carbohydrates: Friend or Foe?

How many times have you heard a friend, family member or coworker say “I’m going on a low-carb diet”? Chances are, you probably know someone (maybe even you) that has tried this method for weight loss. And why not? The Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, and countless others advise that going low-carb is the key to achieving the body of your dreams. But is this really the answer to healthy, sustainable weight loss? Could it be that carbohydrates get a bad rap not because we don’t need them but because most of us don’t know how to use them to our advantage, which begs the question; carbs: friend or foe?

When food is digested, it leaves the stomach and enters the intestines where it is absorbed into the blood stream in the form of blood glucose, which is then stored in the muscle cells as “glycogen” or fuel for our bodies.  This process is known as “gastric emptying time.” Gastric emptying time varies based on what you eat, and when the process is complete your blood glucose levels drop, signaling that it’s time to eat again. Proteins have a gastric emptying time of around 2 hours, while fats take 3-5 hours. Carbohydrates however, take between 20 and 40 minutes. This is why we often feel an energy crash shortly after eating a carb-heavy meal. This is also why carbohydrates have gotten such a bad reputation. However, studies conducted on gastric emptying time have found that when you add a protein in with a carbohydrate, gastric emptying time is slowed considerably (remember; it takes 2 hours for proteins to be digested). This allows for blood glucose levels to rise slowly and drop slowly, releasing steady energy for the body to use effectively and preventing that dreaded energy crash. For this reason, proteins should always be present in a meal that includes carbohydrates. The only time it is acceptable to have carbohydrates alone is immediately after exercising because glycogen synthase levels are high, so the body will take all that glycogen and store it in the cells for later use. If you eat a high-carb meal and then engage in a sedentary activity like sitting at a desk or in front of the TV, the glycogen will instead be stored as fat because the body can’t use it right away. So, instead of swearing off all carbs, we just need to know how to eat them so our bodies can use them properly.

Now that we’ve established that carbohydrates are vital for providing energy to our cells, how do we know how much and what types we should eat? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that 58% of our diet should consist of carbohydrates, the RDA recommends 130 grams per day, and the Institute of Medicine recommends anywhere from 45-65% or more depending on the individual and their level of activity. Runners, for example, probably need closer to 70%. Why? Carbohydrates are our fuel. They are the body’s greatest source of energy. You wouldn’t get in the car for a cross-country road trip without putting gas in the tank first, right? However, you wouldn’t need as much gas if you were only going for a drive down the road. This is the mentality that one should use when determining how many grams of carbohydrates they should be eating daily. So, how do you know the amount of carbohydrates that is right for you? First of all, you need to know how many total calories you should be taking in daily. It is beneficial to enlist the help of a nutritionist or dietician when determining this, but you can get a good idea using this simple formula:

1. Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the amount of food your body requires just to maintain it’s most basic functions (breathing, digestion, etc.). You can figure this out by taking your weight in kilograms (lbs./2.2) and multiplying it by 1 if you are a male and 0.9 if you are female (this represents the calories burned per kilogram per hour). Multiply that number by 24 (hours in a day) and you have your BMR.

2. Add in your activity factor. If you are sedentary (you do not exercise at all and have a job that requires little to no physical activity), give yourself a 1.1. If you are on your feet at least half of the day, give yourself a 1.2 for light activity. If you are on your feet most of the day, give yourself a 1.3. If your job requires a lot of physical activity (manual labor), give yourself a 1.4.

3. Calculate your daily exercise expenditure, or the amount of calories you burn during exercise per day. This can be a little tricky, which is why it may be helpful to have a nutritionist or dietician assist in getting the most accurate calculation possible. You will need to consider how many days a week you work out and what kinds of workouts you do to get approximate number of calories burned per workout (be careful not to overestimate). 

4. Take your BMR and multiply it by your activity factor, then add your daily exercise expenditure. Now you have a good idea of how many calories you should be eating daily.

5. Now, calculate 58% of that number and you have a general idea of how many calories per day need to come from carbohydrates. Carbs have 4 calories per gram, so take that number and divide by 4 to figure out how many grams of carbs that equals.

Now that you have a general idea of how many grams of carbohydrates your body requires to keep you going, it is equally as important to know which kinds of carbohydrates are best. There are two types of carbohydrates; simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates consist of sugars (fruit juices, white breads and pastas, corn syrups, etc.), while complex carbohydrates consist of starches (whole grains, beans, legumes, etc.). You should never eat a food with more than 20% of it’s carbs coming from sugar. In general, this means that we should stick with the complex carbohydrates as they are more filling and slower to digest. While fruit does include sugar and simple carbohydrates, they also have essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, so you don’t need to neglect these foods entirely. Just remember to limit your intake and combine your fruit with a protein to keep those blood glucose levels in check.

Carbs don’t need to seem like the enemy; following these simple rules will help you to turn them into a useful tool toward reaching your weight loss goals in a healthy and effective way.

 

Back to School and Back on Schedule: 7 Tips to Stay Fit this Fall

Like it or not, summer is starting to wind down, and with the return of fall comes the return of our hectic schedules. Kids are going back to school, summer office hours are coming to an end, and it becomes more and more difficult make room in our daily routine for healthy habits. Studies show that people consume an average of 200 calories more per day during the fall season than they do in the summer months. Perhaps this is due to less outdoor activities, more on-the-go snacking, or simply that we no longer have the need to be bikini-ready when the weather cools down. Whatever the reason may be, keep that fall flab at bay with these 7 tips to keeping that bikini body all year long. It may not be autumn just yet, but these tips will help you to be prepared when fall is in full swing.

1. Plan healthy weekday meals ahead of time.

Between work, school, and extra-curricular activities, there’s not always time to prepare a healthy dinner every night. Avoid the diet-derailing drive-thru by planning quick and healthy meals at the beginning of each week. Do your grocery shopping over the weekend, and make a list of everything you will need for dinner that week. Meals don’t need to be complicated to be healthy. Pre-cut, frozen vegetables can be a great time-saving alternative to chopping up fresh veggies, and they retain just as many nutrients. There are also some great recipes online that require five or less ingredients and only 15-30 minutes of prep and cook time. Check out www.allrecipes.com for some quick and easy ideas. The crockpot is another great way to prepare meals that require little work and cleanup. Also, consider doubling up on each recipe so that you can save leftovers for later.

2. Reinstate Routines

During the summer, we tend to allow ourselves more time to relax, sleep, and participate in activities that we often feel we don’t have time for come fall, but these things are essential to good health. The key to keeping up these healthy habits is to schedule them into your day. Adequate sleep is a vital part of staying healthy, so set a nightly bedtime and stick to it. Power down your laptop and turn off your TV when bedtime hits, so you won’t be tempted to stay up late flipping channels or surfing the Internet. Do the same for your workout routine. Pick a specific time during the day, whether it’s in the morning, during your lunch hour, or after work to hit the gym, and schedule other priorities around it so that you always have time for a little exercise. Even if you only have fifteen or twenty minutes to spare, remember that every little bit counts. The trick to having time is to make time, so planning ahead will help to keep you on track.

3. Pack a Healthy Lunch

Instead of hitting up the nearest fast food joint on your lunch break, try packing yourself a healthy lunch to bring with you to work. Pack it the night before so you can grab it and go in the morning. Not only will you be saving calories, but you’ll save some cash as well.

4. Manage your Stress

It’s no secret that schedules can be stressful, especially at the end of summer when trying to re-adjust to a regular routine. Stress can do damage to your health, however, and can contribute to weight gain as well as heart problems in the long term. Keep your stress levels in check by finding something to help you cope when things get hectic. Check out a yoga class, meditate, or take a short five to ten minute break whenever you feel stressed. Not only will doing so clear your head and help you feel more focused, but you’ll likely avoid other unhealthy habits such as stress-eating to help yourself cope.

5. Do Something Physical Every Weekend

When the pools close and the weather cools down, it’s easy to start spending more time indoors in front the TV, especially after a long week. But instead of vegging out all weekend, plan to do at least one active thing. The weather is beautiful this time of year with fall colors and milder temperatures, so head to the park for a walk and a picnic, check out your local farmer’s market, go hiking, or take your bike out for an afternoon ride.

6. Don’t Go Long Periods Without Eating

When running around between work, errands, and kids’ school and sports practices, it can be easy to go long periods during the day without food. This can have a negative effect on your diet if you end up eating the first thing in sight or over-eating at the end of the day. Avoid running on E by bringing healthy snacks with you on the go. Choose light but filling foods such as almonds, fruit, whole wheat crackers with hummus or cheese, or low-fat, high fiber granola bars that can be easily tucked into a purse or briefcase, but will keep you from feeling famished during a busy day.

7. Eat Breakfast Everyday

No matter what your day entails, you should always make time to eat something before heading out. Not only will eating breakfast jump-start your metabolism and give you energy to power through your morning, but eating breakfast has been proven to boost brain function and prevent weight gain. Choose a healthy breakfast with a combination of protein and whole grains, such as a cup of whole grain cereal with almond milk, a whole wheat English muffin with egg whites and low-fat cheese, or a slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter and banana slices.

Now, get outside and enjoy the last few days of summer! 🙂

 

Don’t Let the Label Fool You! 10 “Healthy” Foods That Aren’t

We all know that it can be somewhat tricky trying to figure out which foods to eat and which to avoid when watching our weight. One would think that all the “low-fat,” “low-cal,” “sugar-free” and “gluten-free” labels plastered on grocery store packaging would make finding the right choices a lot easier, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Food companies often use trends in the diet industry to market their products in a way that will make them more appealing to the dieting consumer, when in fact, the claims they are making are not quite as accurate as they may seem. Here is a list of ten “health” foods you may be better off without.

1. “Wheat” Breads

It can be really tough to know which wheat bread to buy when there is so much to choose from. Whole grain, whole wheat, seven grain, multi grain…the list goes on and on, and not all of these breads are created equal. The trick here is to check the first ingredient. Ingredients such as “wheat flour” or “enriched wheat flour” are not whole wheat, and don’t offer the same health benefits. Look for “whole wheat flour” only as the first ingredient. Also, if the package claims that the bread is “made with whole grains,” it is likely not 100% whole grain. Look for that 100% to be sure.

2. Granola Bars

Not all granola bars are unhealthy, but like wheat breads, you need to read the labels carefully to know which ones to buy. Many granola bars contain sugar and calorie counts close to that of a candy bar, and offer little nutritional value. Look for a bar with 5 to 8 grams of protein, less than 10 grams of sugar, and zero trans fats.

3. Bran Muffins

Think you’re making the smarter choice when you order a bran muffin instead of that frosted doughnut for breakfast? Think again. The typical muffin packs 450 calories or more and around 35 grams of sugar, while a plain glazed doughnut clocks in at around 200 calories and 24 grams of sugar. Neither one offers much in the nutrition department, so opt instead for a breakfast sandwich like Dunkin Donut’s Egg White Wake Up Wrap when on the go.

4. Frozen Diet Meals

Aside from being tiny and unsatisfying, diet frozen dinners really don’t offer the nutritional value that a similar meal made at home from fresh ingredients would. Also, many of these microwaveable meals are packed with sodium. Your best bet is to skip these entirely and prepare fresh meals instead. Sometimes, however, busy schedules get in the way and make cooking at home impossible. If you must go frozen, choose an entrée that’s not quite as heavy on the sodium, and add some extra veggies or fruit on the side for added nutrients.

5. Veggie Chips

Don’t let the word “veggie” fool you. They are still fried, and most of these health food imposters contain the same fat and calorie content as their potato chip counterparts. In fact, many veggie chips are just potato chips made with added vegetable powders. When snack cravings strike, reach instead for carrot and celery sticks with hummus for dipping. If you must have a chip-fix, choose a veggie chip made with sliced vegetables, such as Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips. Since they are made from real vegetables, they retain more nutrients and contain less saturated fats.

6. Coconut Water

Coconut water has become very popular over the last few years, but is it really worth the hype? With zero fat, less sugar than most sports drinks and as much potassium as a banana, coconut water is marketed as a super-hydrating post-workout refresher. And while it certainly is a better choice than sodas or sugary sports drinks, it’s important to recognize that coconut water is not calorie free. An 11 oz. container has about 60 calories, and those calories can add up if you drink more than one per day. So while it won’t hurt to drink coconut water here and there, nothing is a better substitute than good ole H2O.

7. Frozen Yogurt

Contrary to popular belief, frozen yogurt is not some miracle diet substitute for ice cream. In fact, frozen yogurt is made with virtually all of the same ingredients as ice cream, making it just as caloric. The one advantage froyo does have is that it is made with yogurt instead of cream which lowers the fat content a bit, but that doesn’t mean you can eat as much of it as you want. Honestly, if ice cream is what you crave, you’re better off allowing yourself to have a little bit of the real thing in order to avoid overdoing it on the frozen yogurt or eating it as a substitute but not feeling satisfied afterward.

8. Spinach Wraps

As we learned with the veggie chips, putting the name of a vegetable in the title does not make it a healthy food item. Spinach wraps are typically made of refined white flour, and the green color comes from a combination of spinach powder and food coloring. Not only are these wraps no match for fresh spinach, but they fail to offer even one serving of vegetables. Choose a whole-wheat wrap instead, and pack it full of fresh veggies.

9. Rice Cakes

While not technically unhealthy, the problem with rice cakes is that they offer no nutritional value and do little to satiate hunger. Rice cakes have a high glycemic index, which means that they cause a temporary rise in blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling hungry soon after. They can be a good snack option when topped with a blood sugar stabilizer such as almond or peanut butter, but a better combo would be to have the nut butter on whole wheat toast with apple or banana slices.

10. Smoothies

This is a tricky one, because there are so many different kinds of smoothies on the market. While homemade smoothies are a great option because you can decide what goes into them, juice bar smoothies and pre-blended smoothies can be a little more deceptive. Many contain sugary syrups and juices made from concentrate that offer little of the nutrients found in fresh fruit and lots of added sugars, meaning extra unwanted calories in your cup. Most restaurants and juice bars keep a list of nutritional information behind the counter, so ask if you can look it over before ordering to ensure that you make the right choice. Do the same for the store-bought versions, and note that the serving size listed on the bottle may be less than the whole bottle, so keep an eye on your portions as well.

A Better Body starts with a Better Breakfast: 10 Quick and Easy Morning Meals

The old saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” isn’t just a saying; breakfast really is a key component to a healthy diet and lifestyle. People will often skip breakfast in order to cut calories or because they simply don’t have the time to whip up a meal before heading to work, but doing this actually causes more harm than good. After a night of rest, our bodies need fuel in order to jumpstart our metabolism and energize us for the day. It’s understandable, however, that fixing breakfast is not always convenient on those busy weekday mornings. Firefighters face a similar issue at the firehouse. They have to be ready to answer a call at a moments notice, but need to be properly fueled for whatever physical activity the job may require. That being said, their breakfasts need to be quick and easy, but provide proper nutrition to keep them going for whatever may come their way. Whether or not your day involves the kinds of physical activity required of a fireman, everyone can benefit from starting each day with a healthy meal. Here are 10 easy, healthy breakfast ideas fit for a fireman, and perfect for you too!

1. Sixty Second Cereal “Sundae”

Combine 1 cup whole wheat or bran cereal flakes with 1 cup of vanilla lowfat or Greek yogurt. Top with 1/4 cup crushed nuts such as pecans or almonds, and 1/4 cup blueberries or raspberries.

2. Nutritious Nut Butter Waffle

Toast a frozen whole-wheat waffle (we like Van’s Organic Power Grains Waffles) and top with 2 tbs almond or peanut butter. Sprinkle on a tablespoon of raisins or top with fresh banana slices.

3. One Minute Mushroom Scramble

Crack 3 eggs into a bowl. Whisk eggs to break yolks. Add 1/2 cup fresh, pre-sliced mushrooms and 1 oz. 2% shredded mozzarella cheese. Spray pan with cooking spray, add egg/cheese mixture. Scramble until eggs are firm.

4. Easy Egg and Cheese Sandwich

Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and add 1 egg. While egg is frying, toast 2 slices whole wheat bread. Top one bread slice with 2 slices low-sodium deli ham, 1 slice low-fat cheddar cheese, 1 slice tomato, and 2 Romaine lettuce leaves. Add egg and top with remaining slice of bread.

5. Two Minute Tex Mex Muffin

Coat skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in 1/4 cup egg substitute and 2 tbs shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese. Cook 2 minutes per side. Place eggs on bottom half of a whole-wheat English muffin. Top with 2 thin avocado slices and 4 tsp salsa, then top with other half of the muffin.

6. Speedy Smoothie

Combine 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries), 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt, 1 tsp Splenda or other sugar substitute in a blender. Cover and blend until creamy.

7. Last Minute Mexi-Melt

Spread 2 tbs canned, drained black beans over a slice of whole wheat toast. Top with 1 tbs salsa and 1 tbs shredded low-fat cheddar cheese. Microwave until cheese is melted and beans are hot; 30-45 seconds.

8. Breakfast Pizza in a Pinch

Coat skillet with cooking spray, heat over medium-high heat. Add 1 egg and cook, stirring often, until firm (1-2 min). Spread 2 tbs marinara sauce on each half of a toasted English muffin. Top with egg, 2 tbs shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese, and 2 pepperoni slices. Microwave until cheese is melted (about 30 seconds).

9. Chocolate Cherry Snappy Smoothie

Blend 1 cup low-fat milk with 1/2 cup frozen, unsweetened cherries and 1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder. Serve with a slice of whole wheat toast.

10. Rise n Shine Ricotta-Pistachio Toast

Ricotta-Pistachio Toast

Spread 2 tbs light ricotta cheese on toasted whole grain bread. Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil over ricotta. Sprinkle with 1 tbs crushed dry-roasted pistachios.

Diet Derailers: Why that Weight Just Won’t Go!

You’ve been eating healthy, hitting the gym on a regular basis, and yet still can’t seem to get rid of those last few pounds. So, what gives? While the formula for weight loss is simple: eat better, eat less, move more, there are a few common mistakes that people make that can end up standing between them and their goals. Becoming aware of these things can help you to make smarter decisions in the future and finally shed those extra pounds. Check out our list of common diet dilemmas and exercise errors and our solutions to help fix the problem, and put the pudge away for good!

1. You’re not eating as healthy as you think you are.

Sure, you’re avoiding the “bad” foods: chips, cookies, candy, etc., but how do you know just how healthy you’re actually eating? If you go out to eat often, there are likely some extra calories hiding in that seemingly nutritious dish. For example, you decide to go with a side of veggies instead of your usual order of fries. Sounds pretty good, right? Sure, it’s better than the fries, but those veggies may be grilled up in a vat of butter, adding unwanted calories and fat to an unknowing you. Be specific when ordering so that you know what’s going into your food. Remember that the word “drizzled” means “dunked,” and “sprinkled” means “smothered.” Restaurants use a lot more of an ingredient than you may think. Also, check yourself when cooking at home to make sure you’re not guilty of adding unwanted calories to your healthy meals. Get rid of the butter, vegetable oils, and heavy dressings, and lighten up with margarine, olive oil, and spices. Check out our spice article for more info on healthy seasonings you can use to spare the fat without sacrificing flavor.

 Your salad’s no good if you smother these on top!

2. Your portions are super-sized.

One thing a lot of people don’t realize is how small portion sizes actually are. Restaurant servings are often two or three times larger than what a portion should really look like, and it’s easy to use similar serving sizes when cooking at home. A good rule of thumb is to visually divide your plate into thirds. Protein and carbs should each make up 1/4 of the plate, and veggies should take up the other half. Another good idea is to use a smaller plate. It may sound silly, but I often use my salad plates rather than my dinner plates at home so I won’t accidentally overdo it when serving myself. Also, be sure to read the nutrition labels on food packages, so you can see what a serving of each food item is. Take cereal, for example. The calorie content may be 100 calories per serving, but the serving size is 2/3 of a cup. If you’re dumping half the box into your bowl each morning, you could be adding a couple hundred calories to your daily intake without even realizing it. Read those labels!

um…eating for two?

3. You’re over-fueling post-workout.

I actually hear this one a lot: “I don’t want to work out because I’ll be hungrier during the day and I’ll eat more, so then I won’t end up losing weight.” I apologize if you’ve used this excuse, but that’s really all it is…an excuse. Sure, you need to fuel your body properly before and after exercising in order to reap the benefits. However, unless you’re training for the Olympics, your body really doesn’t need much more than it did before you started hitting the gym. There are calorie calculators online that will help you to determine how many calories you need daily based on your activity level and weight loss goals. Check out: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/calculators/app/calorie-counter-calculator to see how much you really need to eat each day.

It’s ok, she worked out today.

4. You succumb to the “snack attack.”

So, you eat three healthy meals a day, and that’s great! But what about that handful of M&Ms you snagged from the office candy jar this morning? What about that trip to the soda machine for that afternoon pick-me-up? What about the extra bites of food you tasted while fixing dinner for your family? Though you may not realize it, these things add up. Even if you eat healthy, mindless snacking can derail your diet and put the pause button on your weight loss. So check yourself. Do you find yourself casually snacking on whatever goodie that’s been left in the office break room? Do you end up grazing the fridge for a snack while watching TV? If so, try to be more cautious of the times you are most at risk for mindless snacking. Try chewing a piece of gum to distract you, and stay away from areas such as the snack machines where you may be tempted to sneak a snack. Also, you may want to just remove unhealthy snack items from your house or desk, or at least buy them in individually wrapped portions to prevent you from overeating.

Back away from the snack foods!

5. You watch what you eat, but not what you drink.

This rule is no one’s favorite, but what you drink definitely has an effect on your weight loss. Obviously, alcohol can be a major diet deterrent, depending on what and how much you drink. I’m not saying you have to sacrifice your social life, but be aware of how many drinks you are having, and opt for beer, wine, or calorie-free mixers instead of the sugary stuff. Alcohol isn’t the only culprit, however. If you’re a coffee drinker, be mindful of what you’re adding to that morning cup of java. Sugar and creamer can pack on the calories, especially if you have more than one cup a day. Also, limit (or better, eliminate) juices, energy and sports drinks, as they contain added sugars and calories that can really add up.

6. You avoid the weight room like the plague.

A common misconception about women and weight lifting is that if they do it, they’ll bulk up, so they should stick to cardio if they want to lose weight. Wrong. Sure, cardio burns calories and is thus an important part of a fitness regimen, but you need a combo of both cardio and weight training to slim down and tone up. Weight training is important for women in particular, because it increases bone density and can help prevent osteoporosis later in life. So instead of piddling around on the elliptical for an hour, try incorporating some basic weight training into your routine.

He’ll be losing weight in no time!

7. You diet, but don’t exercise, or vice-versa.

This one seems obvious, but it’s one I encounter on a pretty regular basis. You want to lose weight, so you just go on a diet. Or you hire a trainer or purchase a gym membership, but you fail to change your eating habits. This will stop weight loss dead in its tracks. While you may lose weight to a point, you cannot reach your goals without both diet and exercise. If you find yourself doing one and not the other, try incorporating both into your routine, and you will start seeing results.

Ya gotta have both!

 

Celebrate Summer! Five Friday night desserts that will keep you in your skinny jeans come Saturday!

Today is the first official day of summer! And if that’s not good enough news, it also happens to be Friday! Celebrate the occasion by whipping up one of our five favorite desserts. Not only are these delightful dishes easy on the calories, but each one is firefighter-approved for flavor!

1. Lemon Pound Cake with Cherry Compote

compote

Cake:

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups plus 2 tbs all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups margarine, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1 tbs grated fresh lemon rind
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbs powdered sugar

Compote:

  • 4 cups pitted sweet cherries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Coat a 10 in. tube pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 tbs flour

3. Spoon remaining 3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and stir well. Combine 2 cups granulated sugar and butter in a bowl. Using a mixer, beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and add in buttermilk; beat at low speed. Add rind, juice, and mint and beat until blended.

4. Spoon batter into prepared pan; tap pan to remove air bubbles. Bake for 45 min; let cool. Remove from pan, dust with powdered sugar, and cut into slices.

5. To prepare compote, combine cherries, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tbs water, and cornstarch in medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in extract. Let cool, and serve over cake.

2. Banana Split with Pineapple Brown Sugar Topping

EK0409_Banana-Split_lg

  • 1 can crushed pineapple in natural juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbs light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 firm, ripe bananas
  • 6 scoops light vanilla icecream or frozen yogurt (1/4 cup per scoop)

1. Combine pineapple, lemon juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved (about 3 minutes). Let cool.

2. Cut bananas in half crosswise. Cut each banana in half lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through. Split the halves open and place each on a small dessert plate. Top each banana with a scoop of icecream then about 2 1/2 tbs of the warm pineapple mixture and serve.

3. Berry Trifle with Amaretto

Berry-Trifle-Finished

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups low fat vanilla pudding
  • 2 tbs amaretto liqueur
  • 8 oz angel food cake, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 3 cups berries

1. Whip cream using whisk or mixer until stiff peaks form; set aside

2. Add amaretto to pudding and mix well to combine.

3. Place half the angel food cake pieces into bottom of a trifle dish in an even layer. Top with half of the pudding, then half of the berries. Repeat with remaining cake, pudding, and berries. Top with a thin layer of whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 min before serving.

4. Chocolate Pudding Pie

chocolate-pudding-pie-ck-x

Crust:

  • 30 chocolate wafers
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tbs canola oil

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups 1% milk, divided
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs white rum
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 10 tbs low fat whipped topping

1. To prepare crust, place wafers in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add 3 oz. melted chocolate and oil; process until blended. Press into bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. Freeze 15 min or until set.

2. For filling, combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan; stir with a whisk. Add egg yolks and half of milk; stir until smooth. Stir in remaining milk. Cook over medium heat for 5 min or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add four oz. chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in rum. Pour filling into prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least four hours. Serve with raspberries and whipped topping.

5. Raspberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

raspberry-chocolate-chip-frozen-yogurt-th2

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries
  • 2 cups low fat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Place raspberries, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla into a food processer and blend until smooth.

2. Pour mixture into a 9×13 in. pan and place in the freezer. Stir every few hours, until mixture is firm along the edges and semi-firm in the center (2-6 hrs). Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to air-tight container, stir in chocolate chips, cover, and freeze until ready to serve.