Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Is Gluten Free The Healthiest Choice for Everyone

Gluten-free products are popping up everywhere! With 1% of the population being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and 6% affected by Gluten Sensitivity, it is much easier these days to find gluten-free products in local supermarkets, health food markets, and bakeries. Many restaurants are putting "gluten-free" sections on their menus and there is even a app called Find Me Gluten Free to help find restaurants that accommodate for gluten-free meals.

What is Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity                                                                            Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the villi of the small intestine become damaged from eating grains of wheat, rye, and barley (gluten). People with Celiac are completely intolerant. Untreated, it can cause numerous nutritional deficiencies. Gluten can be found in a variety of foods like breads, baked products, snack foods, prepared meats like hamburgers and hot dogs and even in some supplements and medications.
Gluten Sensitivity-research shows that it is possible to be sensitive to gluten and not have Celiac Disease. GS is treated same as Celiac once diagnosed by your doctor                                                                                                                                                                  
Symptoms of both: Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, unexplained anemia, bone and joint pain, muscle cramps  

By eliminating all foods that contain gluten from your daily diet, the villi of the small intestine can heal and you will start to feel better in a few weeks. It is very important to go 100% gluten-free once diagnosed. Gluten can be hidden in many food products, so it is important to become a label reader.
Grains that are gluten-free include: corn, rice, wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, teft, buckwheat, *oats (can be contaminated because in factory with wheat so choose brands that specifically are 100% gluten free such as Bobs Red Mills), surgham

Is following a gluten-free diet if you don't have Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity a good way to help lose weight??
Lots of people think going gluten-free is the answer to weight loss. I disagree...  Many gluten-free products add extra fat and sugar to improve the taste and texture of the missing gluten, can be quite caloric and low in fiber. They can also be deficient in many vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in wheat products.The U.S Dietary Guidelines recommends that half your grains be whole. Naturally high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, whole grains keep you fuller longer and eaten alongside a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy, lean proteins, healthy fats in portion controlled amounts with plenty of water, is a great way to lose and maintain a healthy weight. So if you are looking to lose weight, or just want to eat healthy switching to gluten-free is not the answer.

Is it okay to eat a few of the gluten free snacks?
Absolutely! I love Mary's Gone Crackers and Synder's Gluten Free Pretzels. Everything in moderation is always the best way to go


Monday, June 3, 2013

Mom's Gets An A+

I know it sounds silly, but nothing pleases me more than when my family loves what I have cooked them for dinner. I am ALWAYS trying new "healthy" recipes on them and ... not always getting the most favorable critiques. So tonight when my husband gave me a standing ovation ( I am not kidding) and my kids said, "Mom this dinner was an A+, I thought it would be a good one to share with all the mom's out there that feel the same way as me. It feels great when we give our family a dinner packed with healthy ingredients that everyone enjoys.

Chipotle Turkey Taco Filling   
Recipe from Diabetes Living Summer 2013
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, plus leaves to garnish
1.3 lb package ground white meat turkey
1 canned chipotle chiles in adobe ( I used a little less than half the amount because this is spicy)
15 oz can no salt added chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of salt ( I omitted this)
1 teaspoon course ground pepper
Whole grain tortilla
Romaine lettuce chopped
1/2 cup chunky salsa

In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Stir in onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until beginning to color, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in cumin and oregano.
Add turkey, raise heat to medium high. Cook stirring often, until cooked through and most of liquid evaporates, 12-15 minutes. Stir in chiles, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook until some of the liquid has evaporated about 10 minutes, Garnish with oregano leaves.  Put 1/2 cup meat in wrap, add lettuce and salsa

I am sure you may be thinking, who needs to bother, El Paso and Taco Bell make it so easy with just pouring in  their ready made powders and some water into ground meat. But I promise you, this is an easy one to make, free of added preservatives and much lower in sodium than those packaged powders and very flavorful. Plus by using ground white meat turkey, much lower in saturated fat than red meat.
* I made guacamole with Trader Joes's Guacamole Kit and served with baked chips on the side-Delish!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Truth about The 100 Calorie Snack

When you are looking for a snack, a 100 calorie snack pack seems like a great way  to eat a low fat snack without the added calories, sugar and fat that regular cookies, muffins, chips and crackers might contain. But are they really "healthy" for you?

What's important to look for on a label of a 100 Calorie Pack?
When deciding which 100 calorie pack to buy ALWAYS look at the nutrition label.  Just because it is only 100 calories, doesn't always mean it is healthy.

What is the saturated fat, trans fat and sugar content? How much protein, fiber, and whole grains does it contain per serving?

What is Trans Fats Anyway?
If you see "partially hydrogenated oil: on a food label, that means it has trans fat in the product. Trans fats are produced from oils that are chemically changed to make them partially solid. This process helps products have a longer shelf life and can be found in many cookies, cakes, chips and cracker products that we buy in grocery stores. The American Heart recommends that trans fats be limits to only 1% of our diet.

If a product has under .5 grams of trans fat, it can be listed as "0 gms" and say "trans free" on the label. This can be very deceiving to consumers because you may not think there is any trans fat in the product. The best way to know for sure if a label really has trans fat, is to READ THE LABEL!!!   If it says "partially hydrogenated oil"  in the ingredients, it definitely has some trans fat in the product.     
What's your best bet for a 100 Calorie Snack?  
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Fiber is important in our diet, providing roughage and bulk.

Calcium, a mineral very important for our bones and teeth, can be found in low fat dairy products like skim milk, yogurt and cheeses as well as green leafy vegetables.

Nuts, high in mono and polyunsaturated fat are a great choice. Because they are high in "healthy fat", they keep you fuller longer. Choose ones without added salt and either count out enough to fit on a post it (about 15) or even easier buy a 100 calorie bag. Natural nut butter (1teaspoon) with a serving of fruit or whole grain crackers is another great choice

Eating a well balanced diet, with variety, is very important to your health.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Breakfast: Don't Skip It!

Whether on a weight loss program or just trying to maintain a healthy weight, making time to eat breakfast is extremely important. After a night of sleep, your body needs fuel to give you proper energy throughout the day

People who eat breakfast will most likely eat less calories throughout the day compared to those that skip the morning meal. A healthy nutritious breakfast can consist of lean protein, fiber, whole grain and low fat dairy 

Too rushed in the morning? Here are some tips to help make time for breakfast...
Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier so you have time to prepare and eat

Set the table the night before. Measure out 3/4 cup dry whole grain cereal and put in baggie-that only leaves slicing some fresh fruit and adding skim milk to your bowl before eating your whole grain cereal that morning   

Prepare a yogurt parfait-layer greek yogurt with berries/whole grain cereal or slithered almonds. I like to put it in small juice glass. Cover with saran wrap in fridge overnight for a yummy morning delight

Pack your breakfast-if you intend to eat at work or on the bus to school, try making a trail mix the night before of whole grain cereal/raisins along side a yogurt for a perfect easy grab and go meal

Try having a Yoplait smoothie-all you need to do is add skim milk to the blender and you have a delicious drink in a 1 1/2 minutes

Invest in the Tupperware Breakfast Maker: what a great invention!!  you have a beautiful omelet in minutes without dirtying a pan (look at utube video).  Have with a slice of whole grain bread on the side (great to bring to work)

When you have more time to prepare on the weekends, be creative with your breakfast. It is probably the only time the whole family can eat breakfast together, so make it special. 

Here is a  family favorite in my home...
Whole Grain French Toast

2 eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Agave nectar
Fresh berries
Pam cooking spray

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a bowl. Heat non stick pan and spray with Pam cooking spray. Dip bread in egg mixture and then into hot pan and cook until brown on both sides. Sprinkle fresh berries and drizzle of agave nectar-Enjoy!!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Craving Something Sweet?

Making a commitment to eat healthier doesn't mean you have to give up sweet desserts forever.  The key is finding a balance in your eating. If you try daily to make half your grains whole, have at least 3 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 servings low fat dairy, and be mindful of added sugars, fats and sodium in foods- there is room to indulge your sweet tooth... as long as it is portion controlled

I always suggest baking from scratch instead of store bought cakes/cookies usually filled with lots of preservatives for longer shelf life. There are many ways to cut calories as well as making desserts healthier without compromising taste.  Here are a few substitutions you can try in some of your favorite family dessert recipes 

When recipes call for:                  

  • 1 cup all purpose flour substitute  1/2 cup whole wheat with 1/2 cup all purpose
  • 1 egg  substitute 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sour cream  substitute 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup oil or butter substitute 1 cup unsweetened applesauce( breads, muffins cakes)
  • 1 cup sugar substitute 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  •  1 cup heavy cream substitute  low fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup butter substitute 1 cup avocado puree or overripe mashed banana or prune puree

In general, don't be afraid to add less sugar than a recipe calls for. For example if recipe says 1 cup sugar-do 3/4 cup instead.  Substitute fat free milk for whole milk. Although nuts are healthy, they are also highly caloric. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of nuts instead use 1/2 cup, you will still get the nut flavor but will save some calories.

If you don't have time to bake and want a store bought treat...
READ the Label-make sure your snack is under 200 calories, less than 3 gm saturated fat, under 200 mg sodium and the less ingredients listed on ingredient panel the better. Also, remember ingredients are listed in descending order so if sugar is first or second, it is predominantly made of sugar

If you want a boxed baked brownie that's easy to make, low in calories and fat, try Trader Joe"s Guilt Free Brownies or No Pudge Brownies both made with non fat yogurt


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

10 Great Snack Ideas

It is important to provide your body with healthy nutrient dense snacks in between meals. Here are my top
10 snacks high in fiber, protein and packed with vitamins and minerals to keep you fueled throughout the day

     10 Great Snack Ideas Under 200 calories:
  • 1 small banana cut up, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons hummus, 5 whole grain crackers, carrot and celery sticks
  • Trail mix-10 almonds, 1/2 cup whole grain cheerios, 1 small box of raisins
  • Plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon slithered almonds, 1/2 cup fresh fruit, 1 teaspoon polaner all fruit
  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon cranberries (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup 1% low fat cottage cheese,1 cup fresh fruit, sugar free jello
  • Yoplait Smoothie made with skim milk or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 1 low fat string cheese with 10 grapes
  • 1/4 cup mashed avocado, 5 whole grain baked chips, 1/2 cup sliced pepper

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Exercise-Make it fun

Starting an exercise program can be a fun and exciting way to better your health. Looking for a little motivation to get started? Here are some ideas to help make it easier to get started and stick with it...

Find an exercise program you enjoy -
Here are a few examples of fun group classes to try:
Zumba, Barre, Spin, Step, Pilates, Yoga, Circuit training, Cross fit                                

Exercise with a friend -                                                                                                    
spending time together will help motivate you and make you be accountable to another to stay on track              

Set a schedule-                                                                                                                
choose ahead of time which days/nights you plan to workout for the week                                                              

Pack your exercise sneakers/clothes the night before so you can go before or after work or school-
now there are no excuses!

Download some great music to listen to on your ipod while working out
time will fly by as you groove to your favorite tunes

If you like using the machines, bring your ipad, newspaper, magazines, kindle-
catch up on news, tv shows, books, or fashion while you peddle the bike, elliptical or walk on the treadmill

Continue to challenge yourself-
increase the incline, intensity, or minutes once you have easily mastered a level

Don't get caught in an exercise rut-
try different workouts to exhaust different muscles

Workout with a trainer-
they push you harder than you would yourself.

Exercise in 10 minutes spurts-
don't have a full hour in your busy day to work out, try 4-10 minutes spurts of exercise throughout the day-you  will overall burn the same amount of calories as 40 continuous minutes 

Most importantly, find some form of exercise you really like to do...
When I was a child, I used to loved to jump rope-double dutch was a fun game I enjoyed. About a year ago, while I was doing my treadmill workout in my basement, I noticed a jump rope my husband bought a few years ago rolled up in a corner. I picked it up and started with 50 jumps. I forgot how much I enjoyed jumping rope! I slowly increased my jumps each week. I am now up to 1000 jumps combining jumping and skipping !!  I can't believe how strong I have become but the best part of the workout is that I find it so much fun. Find something fun and stick with it!!