Thursday, September 30, 2010

Watch the Nutrition Halo Effect!

What is this??? It is the feeling we get of making a good food choice. But watch yourself, companies use this as a marketing ploy. The “low-fat” or “fat-free” labels on yummy snack foods, make us think we are making the right decision; but often times these snacks can be higher in sodium, sugar in calories. My advice go for the higher fat (sticking with mono and poly unsaturated fats) and lower sodium, calories, and if you can SUGAR!!

Also watch labels like “organic”, sometimes these treats contain more sugar than the standard versions and more calories.

Be sure to focus on food labels and ingredients instead of the colorful box with exciting claims! Be smart, companies are out there to make money and have hired marketing teams to trick you into buying something that may not be all that great for you. So when you pick up something off the shelf really read into that food label, ignore all the bright distracting colors and sayings.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Food Around the World Part #10; Thai:

Thai food is a type of cuisine that is becoming much more popular in the US. However with the Americanized versions watch your portion size! Also be careful of those coconut curries! These are high in saturated fat and calories.

A great dish to try next time you go Thai is Tom Yung Gung. Yes strange name, something I have not heard of until doing this research. This dish is composed of shrimp, coriander, lemongrass, ginger, and a few other fresh herbs and spices. This dish is full of antioxidants which inhibit cancerous-tumor growth and boost the immune system. Ginger aids in digestion, turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory, and lemongrass is great for cold and tummy troubles.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Food Around the World Part #9; South American:

The traditional South American diet relies on fresh fruits and vegetables (legumes) and complex carbohydrates (quinoa).

Be careful when you do some areas of South American to steer clear of the large steak dishes; as well as the fried sausage, yams, and bananas. Stick with the light fish dishes, like ceviche, and the lightly prepared fruits and veggies!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Food Around the World Part #8; Mexican:

The Americans version of Mexican food: fried chips, fried sugar churros, fatty cheese enchiladas, cheese quesadillas, and lard baked beans. Terrible for your health and your pant size!!! Well true authentic Mexican food is comprised of freshly cooked beans, soups, and tomato based sauces. Real Mexican food actually does the reverse of the American creation; it actually lowers women’s risk of breast cancer!! The main ingredients of this type of cuisine actually slow digestion (beans and corn) and also may protect the body from type 2 diabetes.

So next time you hit up your favorite Mexican restaurant skip on all the rich queso dip and cheese laden dishes!! Instead go for ceviche, grilled vegetable salad or tomato based soup. And keep the fresh salsa as the main topping!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Food Around the World Part #7; Spain:

Traditionally when eating out in Spain food is served in tapas, which are small portions to share with guests. This is much similar to traditional Greece food consumption. Eating small portions of various types of food fulfills your pallet and slows you down from inhaling an entire plate of food, this allows you to notice the full feeling and know to stop eating.

Spain cuisine consists mainly of seafood, vegetables, and olive oil. All great for your health and waist line!

Next time you are at your favorite Spanish restaurant go for the cancer-fighting, antioxidant and lycoene rich gazpacho or the paella (seafood, rice and veggies). Just watch the American extra large portion. Be sure to avoid sausage dishes and fried items (even if they are in small portions)!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Food Around the World Part #6; Italy:

Okay so when you think of the “American Italian” cuisine most of us think cheesy fatty super high calorie, diet destruction, lasagna! And yes a lot of Italian food is high in refined foods, heavy creamy sauces, and rich fatty cheese. But in true Italian cuisine this are all served in much smaller portions and without so much cheese and refined carbohydrates.

So what makes this type of cuisine good for us? Well the main true Italian ingredients are tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, parsley and basil. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which helps protect women against breast cancer. Garlic and the fresh Italian herbs are full of Vitamin A and C! Plus we all know how amazing olive oil is at lowering cholesterol, fighting heart disease, and burning belly fat.

Most true Italian cuisine is not based around fatty cheese. Yes, Italians do use Parmesan, but it is used more as a garnish and harder cheeses are much better for you in general. So make sure to stay away from the American-Italian extra cheese pizza or the fatty lasagna!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Food Around the World Part #5; Indian:

The traditional Indian cuisine revolves around fresh spices, like turmeric, ginger, red chilies, and garam masala (cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander). These spices more than just add amazing flavor, they protect you against some cancers. Furthermore, turmeric and ginger can also help fight Alzheimer’s. Tumeric also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

Most Indian food also contains yogurt and lentils, which are high in fiber and fat burning Resistant Starch. Yogurt and lentils also contain high amounts of folate and magnesium, which help maintain blood sugar.

Next time you venture into an Indian restaurant go for the vegetable curry with dal! But be sure to avoid any of the heavy fried foods, like samosas. Also stay away from any of the curries made with heavy cream or butter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Food Around the World Part #4; Japanese:

The traditional Japanese diet is rich in cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables. Also, in preparation they are not deep fried or cooked in fatty animal by-products, instead they are lightly steamed or stir-fried.

Furthermore, the Japanese culture focuses on eating until 80% full not 100%. Eating this way is much easier on the digestive system and allows them to easily function without those uncomfortable stuffed feelings.

Traditional Japanese foods are rich in antioxidants (yams and green tea), cruciferous and calcium veggies (bok choy), iodine (seaweed..which is also great for the thyroid), omega-3 (seafood), iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and folate (shiitake mushrooms), and whole soy foods.

A great healthy choice for your next Japanese outing is Miso soup or a simple veggie and tofu stir fry. Be sure to avoid white rice (which spikes blood sugar) and instead choose brown rice (rich in fat burning Resistant Starch).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Food Around the World Part #3; Vietnamese:

Vietnamese dishes use mainly fresh herbs, lots of vegetables, and seafood. All these ingredients are low in calories and fat, plus rich in vitamins and minerals.

Vietnamese do not use deep fryers or cook dishes in lots of animal fat or butter. Instead, they use water or broths, which are both very low or free of calories.

These dishes also uses natural flavorings like cilantro, mint, Thai basil, star anise, and red chili; which have been used for various alternative remedies for various health problems. For example, cilantro and anise help aid in digestion and fight disease causing inflammation.

One great dish to try is pho, which is a broth based soup full of antioxidant packed spices. One thing to avoid at Vietnamese restaurants are the fatty short ribs.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Food Around the World Part #2; Cali

The West Coast is full of groves and gardens of fresh fruits and vegetables. These ingredients when prepared correctly are full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Furthermore, these ingredients are naturally low in calories.
The great thing about eating foods grown locally is that they not only taste much better but also are still rich in vitamin C and folate (when produce is shipped they lose some of these nutrients).

With the wide selection of fresh fruits, grains and vegetables it is fairly easy to eat a vegetarian diet. Although when eating out vegetarian be sure to avoid high fat cheeses. Be sure to request vegetables grilled or sautéed in garlic and olive oil and to hold the cheese or go light on the cheese.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food Around the World Part #1; Greece:

Cuisines from other cultural backgrounds have some incredible health benefits; however a lot of the “Americanized versions” are full of unhealthy fats, salt, and/or unhealthy carbohydrates.

Traditional Greek foods are composed of dark leafy veggies, fresh fruit, high-fiber beans, lentils, grains, olive oil, and omega 3 rich fish. These ingredients provide lots of immune-boosting and cancer fighting properties that cuts your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related ailments. Consuming the traditional Mediterranean diet results in a 25% reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

Greeks also often share small plates at dinner called meze. Eating several types of food in small amounts in more satisfying because you get a taste of everything and it forces you to eat much slower, noticing when you are hungry. Furthermore, when Greeks eat meat is eaten in very small amounts with local calorie items (seafood), slowly digested carbohydrates (beans, eggplant, or whole-grain breads) and small portions of foods with good fats (olives and nuts).

When eating Greek be sure to order all fish and meats grilled and vegetables sautéed in olive oil and garlic. The combination of greens and olive oil has beneficial anti-inflammatory effects and the garlic helps to lower blood pressure.

Be sure to avoid heavy buttered dishes as well as the oh so yummy Spanakopita (spinach pie), which can be high in calories and fat as bacon cheeseburger.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nachos!! Yumm….

Football season has began and there is nothing better than sharing a plate of nachos with a group of friends while watching the game! But we all know those standard nachos have no nutrients and are full of unhealthy carbohydrates and fat.
Well I could not see my life without that yummy cheesy snack food!! So I decided to put a healthy flavorful twist on the all time favorite:

  • One bag of blue corn or baked yellow corn tortilla chips
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped orange bell pepper
  • 4 chopped green onions (greens included)
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large Hass avocadoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped black olives
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat pepper jack
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar
  • ¼ cup jalapenos, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded chicken breast (optional)
  • 1 jar/ container of fresh salsa
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of garlic
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Bring a large fry pan to medium high, add olive oil and garlic. Heat for 2 minutes. Add chopped onion, cook for 4 minutes. Finally add bell peppers, mix evenly, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until softened.
  3. On a large cookie sheet, spread the bag of chips followed by the black beans, black olives, tomatoes, green onion, and chicken breast (if desired). Once bell pepper mixture is finished spread evenly on top of cookie sheet. Finally sprinkle shredded cheese and put in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Once cheese is melted pull out of oven and add salsa and avocados.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Make Portion Control Easier, wherever you may be!

When cooking at home, serve from the kitchen (do not put large dishes of food on the dining table, it sitting there will make it much easier to over eat). If you do have leftovers after the food is plated, put it in Tupperware containers before sitting down. Keeping the extra food out of sight and out of reach, really does keep it out of mind.

When dining at a restaurant, most portions are two to four times the actual serving size! When first starting to learn proper portions start by asking the waiter/waitress to box up half of the dish when it comes to the table, or ask he/she to bring a box with your meal. This may make you feel uncomfortable with the people you are with, but trust me your waist line will thank you! And once your stomach is used to the smaller portions and your mind is used to visualize exactly how much you should eat, you will be able to just leave half of your food on your plate (and follow the normal after eating boxing techniques).

When at a dinner/ appetizer party, this can be the worst especially with all the yummy options. Make sure to eat a small snack (such as an apple, high in dietary fiber) so you are not ravenous when you get there. Check out the food and decide what you would like to eat. Take a few small appetizers to start, when finished wait 15 minutes before getting more to rank you “fullness.” Be careful with drinks as well, not only can they add tons of sugar and calories, but they also do increase your appetite. When filling your plate for the dinner be sure ½ of the plate is filled with fresh veggies (not laden in oil, butter, or fat dressing!!), ¼ with carbohydrates, and ¼ with lean protein. And do not go back for seconds!

Biggest deal with portion control is listening to your body! Some days you may find yourself needing more food, whereas other days you may be full much more quickly. And remember it takes at least 15-20 minutes to feel that full feeling.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Short on time?? Interval training is the answer!

Interval training (circuit training) is a great way to accomplish cardio and weight training at the same time. Interval training requires burst of high intensity activity (increasing the heart rate) with short recovery periods (heart rate never comes to a full resting rate).

This type of exercise can burn much more fat and calories than a leisure workout twice as long.

Try vertical loading:
  1. 1 set total body weights (such as stepping lunge into a shoulder press)
  2. 10 jumping jacks
  3. 1 set chest (chest press on yoga ball)
  4. 10 jumping jacks
  5. 1 set back (lie supine, stomach on, yoga ball complete back row)
  6. 10 jumping jacks
  7. 1 set shoulders (seated yoga ball shoulder press)
  8. 10 jumping jacks
  9. 1 set Biceps (seated yoga ball on bicep curls)
  10. 10 jumping jacks
  11. 1 set triceps (lie prone, back on, yoga ball complete tricep overhead extensions)
  12. 10 jumping jacks
  13. 1 set legs (squat with yoga ball between back and wall)
  14. 10 jumping jacks
  15. Rest for 2 minutes and repeat 2-3 times
**Be sure to have adequate amount of floor space, yoga ball and a set of hand weights within your reach before you begin this workout to not waste any time.