Dinner SWAP

A few years ago(wow has it really been that long), pre-marriage, when I was living it up in Boston, I lived with 3 fabulous roommates and had some very close friends that lived next door to us.  We decided to have a little friendly healthy Biggest Loser competition amongst ourselves. None of us were extremely overweight, but we all had a few pounds we wanted to lose.... and more than anything we wanted to get healthier!  I love a good competition, but what made this so rewarding was that we all supported each other-- I don't think it would have mattered who won... cause we worked super hard and all came out as winners in the end. (we each lost 10-25 pounds--and we looked dang good). We encouraged each other to go to the gym.... to eat healthy snacks.... and what I want to focus on today is one thing that I really think helped us stay on the right track.
We did what I want to call a "Dinner Swap."
There were 8 of us total, so each of us was assigned a night (Mon-Thurs), every other week.  On our assigned day we were in charge of dinner for the night--- to be prepared for the 8 of us girls. So basically you were assigned to make dinner twice a month.  It was so fabulous. I mean really, who wants to cook a meal for just yourself? Not fun at all. If I am cooking for myself, I tend to grab something unhealthy--- or go out cause it is so much more convenient. 

Here were some of the major perks to our Dinner Swaps: 
1. Saved Money (we were only having to spend money 1 time over 8 days)
2. Practiced our cooking skills.  We are all going to be pros at making dinner for our future families now. :)
3. Having a delicious, hot, healthy dinner ready to eat when I got home from work was awesome. 
4. Helped reduce stress of having to decide what to make. 
5. Tried new foods that otherwise we would have never eaten.
6. Accumulated some great recipes.
7. Great social time to be able to chill with great friends... even if it were for only a few minutes each night.

This idea is definitely easiest when geared towards roommates and those in college, but I have heard of families doing it with their neighbors and friends and it being a success as well.
Click here for an article with some great tips on how to get started with your own Dinner Swap.

Have any of you done a dinner swap before and have advice for others? 


Blueberries- Yum Yum

You hear all the time how AMAZING and SUPER HEALTHY Blueberries are. They get the credit for being one of the healthiest or maybe even the most beneficial fruits when it comes to antioxidant power and ability to destroy all those nasty free radicals.
Even with all health benefits of blueberries I have tried to LOVE blueberries---- but it hasn't been that easy.  I love the flavor and especially when they are in an item like pancakes, muffins etc. I guess what always turns me off to fresh blueberries is the texture. They often seem too mushy. I like things crisp... so unless blueberries are perfect and so fresh that they still have that bite to 'em, I usually turn them down.

So instead of complaining about the nasty texture--- and not eating them, my very simple solution is to FREEZE them.  I load up when the fresh ones are on sale in the summer.... wash and bag them-- and for the next few months I have fresh-frozen blueberries anytime I want. Now I can say that I LOVE blueberries.
I love them in my morning cereal (whether cold, oatmeal, cream of wheat). In cold cereal I love that they start to freeze the milk and make a little slush.  This way I get my 'Fruit-in' for the meal and get the added flavor and nutrients from blueberries.  They are also great to grab a few to snack on when I get home from a long day while I am preparing dinner. No mush and very refreshing. So go grab some blueberries today!

Here are a few highlights about the nutritional benefits of Blueberries.  
-Rich in Vitamin C (your Antioxidant powerhouse that may help in preventing cancer-causing cell damage) 
-Very high in fiber (about 4 grams in just one cup) 
-Low in calories (only about 80 calories in one cup)
- NO fat or cholesterol 
-Also packed with Manganese and Vitamin K 


Easy, Delish, Pasta Dinner

 This meal started as one of those desperation--- I need something quick and easy--- and ended up not only being quick and easy, but delicious and healthy. Who says you need your pasta to be drenched in sauce to be delish?

Savory Chicken Pasta with Peppers

Whole Wheat Pasta- I like to use Rotini but any noodle works
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Boneless, Skinless Chicken- fresh or frozen, cut into 1/2 - 1 inch pieces (If I wasn't also making this for the Mr. I would have probably just left the chicken out)
Seasoning Salt- TT
1/2 each Red and Green Pepper sliced into strips then cut in half
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (we like just a little heat--- you don't have to add this if you don't want) 
1/4 c. Parmesan Cheese

Boil pasta according to directions. Drain water and put noodles back in pan. While pasta is cooking heat medium skillet with 1 T EVOO.  Add chicken and cook until done-- I usually just salt and pepper or use seasoning salt to season the chicken.  Once chicken is cooked, remove onto a different plate. In same skillet add cook peppers just a few minutes until they start to get tender.  Add chicken back in and stir to warm.  Now combine all the ingredients back into the noodles--- start by adding a splash of EVOO to the noodles. Stir and then add in chicken and peppers, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese.

This would be great with the chicken as well if you wanted to go the vegetarian route!! Also adding any veggie you have lying around would work great!


100 Calorie Candy

It's October or shall we call it Candytober... (ok so that didn't really make sense. haha) But if there is any one thing that comes to mind when I think of October, it is Halloween Candy.  It is everywhere. So educate yourself how many calories really are in a bite or two of your fave candy.  

Here's a portion-control guide of some of the most common Halloween candies.  
100 Calories really doesn't go very far does it?!  **

5 Starbursts

13 1/3 pieces Brachs Candy Corn

8 Dots

28 M&Ms

60 Smarties

2 Twix minis

3 Milky Way Midnight minis

1 1/4 fun size Snickers

4 mini Musketeers 

4 1/2 Tootsie Roll midgees

Trust me everyone--- this is one of my HUGE weaknesses.  I loveLOVElove soft sugary candies. Candy corn, tootsie rolls, starbursts....  it always more than a measly 4 1/2 tootsie rolls or 13 candy corns.  So I am working on this too.  Remember this is the start of the holiday goodie season.  Let's not start packing on the pounds this early.  If I can limit myself I know you can as well.  :)

**Info taken from Women's Health Magazine October 2009 article '100-Calorie Halloween'


Healthier Chicken Nugget Alternatives

The other day I mentioned Dino Chicken Nuggets--- and it made me think of all the easy- healthier versions of chicken strips that I make. Me and the Mr. find that chicken is our go-to item quite often and when we want something simple chicken strips it is.

Making your own chicken strips(or nuggets) is super easy.

(Sorry no pics for this, I never make things unless there is a pic--- but trust me that these are great-tasty-healthy and easy.)

Oven-Fried Chicken Strips
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 T. Parmesan cheese  
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 lb. skinless boneless chicken breast halves-- (I tend to use tenders as well. That way they are already cut into perfect sizes. Really whatever you have works)
3 T. Plain nonfat yogurt or Light Mayo

(you can change these up to have any seasonings or flavors that you/your kids prefer- I like to use Italian seasonings with garlic salt, and red pepper flakes to add just a little spice)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Combine bread crumbs and seasonings. Cut chicken into desired size strips. Brush chicken on all sides with a light coating of mayo(or yogurt), then roll in seasoned bread crumbs to coat thoroughly.
Line cookie sheet with tinfoil- place cooling rack on top and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Arrange chicken pieces on rack. Bake for 15-20 minutes(depends on size of chicken) or until fork tender and juices run clear.

-Makes 4 servings.

Here are some links to some other great chicken strips.
Baked Crisp Pecorino Romano Chicken  from Sweet and Savory Tooth.
Crispy BBQ Chicken Fingers  & Whole Wheat Breaded Crispy Chicken from How Sweet It Is.

Really the possibilities are endless. Whatever flavors you like--- you can make happen.  
Do you have a favorite oven baked chicken strip/nugget recipe? 


Is that for REAL?

What are your thoughts about this  quote?
I think in general it is a great rule to live by, 

“Don’t eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. There are a great many food-like items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food (Go-Gurt? Breakfast-cereal bars? Twinkies?); stay away from these.” -Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma
So look at your food-- ask yourself, 'would Great-grandma know what this is?' if the answer is no, maybe you shouldn't eat it.  
Kid's have so many options for food these days. It's no wonder that kid's won't eat 'normal, healthy, whole foods.'  They are so tainted with their Dino shaped chicken nuggets etc.  
Does food have to entertain the kid? 


Just Toss It

If you are anything like me, there are some days where I have ZERO control on resisting certain foods.... so for days like that, 
I have one simple idea--
Go to your cupboard, fridge, freezer and see what is sabotaging your plan to get healthy....  You know the item..... your go-to item that you have no self-control for. 

Now simply get rid of it.  
Toss it.  (or better yet don't ever buy it)
You really don't need it... Do you?  
If it's not there, you can't eat it.  
..... and if you feel guilty about tossing a pound of candy- would you rather feel guilty about having that 1 pound on your thighs?


F or V at EVERY meal.

Ya it's been while. I know. But I am back.
I am hoping that my posts are more consistent. I'll do my best.

Here is my tip for today.
**Make sure that you have at least one produce item (fruit or veggie) at every meal**
Yep... breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  
It doesn't sound very hard, but it will make a difference. Not only will you get the healthy vitamins and antioxidants but you won't eat as much as the higher calorie-fatty items.


Corn = High as an Elephants Eye.

I live in Iowa.
There is lots of Corn in Iowa.
Pretty much everywhere you look. 
Corn. Cob. Corn. Cob. Corn. Cob.
No complaints here.
I love corn.
Served all ways. 
Fresh. Grilled. Frozen. Boiled. Steamed.Microwaved. BBQ.

Just last week I finished off my frozen corn from last years harvest.
I am thinking that I need to invest in one of these for this years end of the season stock up for the year. 
Has anyone used one of these before?  Do they work?  Is there a different variety that works better?
Nutrition Info. Taken from here.

Corn is a starchy vegetable (technically, the kernel is a grain), which makes it higher in calories than other veggies; calorie-wise, it’s similar to grains such as rice. One cup of cooked corn contains 130 calories and 1.8 grams of fat. It’s an excellent source of thiamin, a B-vitamin that helps produce energy, and a good source of fiber, protein, vitamin C and potassium. It’s also packed with lutein, saponins, and maizenic acid — all phytochemicals that have been associated with heart health and cancer prevention. Corn also contains yellow carotenoid pigments, including eye-protecting antioxidant zeaxanthin.


Stuff to Try.

A few new things we've tried... and some more on my MAKE SOON LIST. 
Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Avocado from The Sister's Cafe. Simple & Delicious.
Oven Baked Chimichangas from My Kitchen Cafe.These were awesome. The perfect alternative to the greasy, unhealthier fried version.  They still had the crisp texture like they had been fried. I also added a little cumin and some spinach leaves! 
Individual Chicken Pot Pies from Back to the Cutting Board.A simplified version of your traditional pot pie.  

Red Berry Risotto Oatmeal from My Kitchen Cafe. I know this is going to be good. A combo of some of my fave things.
Updated Mac & Cheese with Spinach from Delish. The usual calorie laden mac and cheese has been lightened up by using lowfat cottage cheese and throwing in some spinach.  I love mac and cheese so once I try it I'll let you know if it passed the taste test.
Raspberry Crumb Bars from Annie's Eats.
Brown Sugar Balsamic Salad from How Sweet It Is.
Don't these Cherry Limeade Bars from Cheeky Kitchen look divine.  Now I just need a reason to make them!


Interval Treadmill Workout.

I like to go to the gym. I like that I see others working hard.... it makes me want to work out harder than them.  One thing I don't like is the treadmill. I know I need to do cardio so I force myself to do a minimum of 30 minutes each time I go.  It can be so monotonous. Some days are good, some days seem to drag on forever.
So instead of just increasing my time slightly over the thirty minutes I like to spice it up with interval running. It keeps my intensity up and I don't get so bored.  Plus I feel like I am pushing myself just a bit more.  
Interval Running Workout
1 minute at 5.5
1 minute at 7.0
1 minute at 8.5
repeat until 30 minutes is up

(You can adjust the speeds according to your run speed. The middle speed should be your normal running speed- or close to it at least.  Once you have your middle speed just add 1.5 and subtract 1.5 to get your high and low speeds).

I finish the 30 minutes covered in sweat. I sweat a lot. I didn't know I could sweat so much til I moved to Iowa. I have learned to appreciate the dry heat of Utah.  It would be a welcome change about right now.   


Banana-Blueberry Oat Squares

I get the urge quite often to bake something I have never tried before.... pretty much everyday really.  Today was no different, so as I looked through my fridge, on the counter, and in the cupboards-- and the extra ripe bananas and the freezer full of fresh-frozen blueberries were calling out to me to be used for something tasty.
After browsing the internet for a few ideas.... this is what I came up with.  

Banana-Blueberry Oat Squares
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 ripe bananas)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter- make sure it is at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups quick oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans (or any kind of nut you have on hand)
1/2 cup blueberries- fresh or frozen

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in egg and almond extract. Beat well. Add salt and mashed banana and mix until incorporated . Stir in oats and nuts. Spread in greased 9×9 inch pan. Bake for almost an hour or until firm. Cool and cut into squares.

These ended up being pretty tasty. Great as a breakfast bar or a snack after work.


Is Frozen Yogurt really that Healthy?

I was reading in August's, Cooking Light Magazine and they had a little blurb about Frozen Yogurt. I don't know about you, but I catch myself telling myself that I can eat more frozen yogurt than ice cream because it is 'yogurt'- therefore it must be much healthier than ice cream.
 This is what cooking light had to say,  
"Frozen Yogurt is not regulated by the FDA, meaning the scoop in your cone could be made entirely from yogurt--- or could be ice cream with a little yogurt stirred in."

--- The National Yogurt Association does sponsor a voluntary labeling program for frozen yogurt; To see if your frozen yogurt actually contains 'yogurt', look for the "Live and Active Cultures" seal on containers of frozen yogurt.
Really every single frozen yogurt could be different in nutritional value. Be sure to check the labels for calories, fat etc.  Don't just assume that is healthier because it is frozen yogurt and not ice cream.


Eat Cake.

I was at the library today and saw this book. Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray. I really had no idea what it was about but I guess the part of me being hungry and the other part that I was in the mood for an easy read---this made for the perfect find. I read all of 2 pages when I came across this quote. Awesome.  

"Cakes have gotten a bad rap. People equate virtue with turning down dessert. There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake. No, really, I couldn’t she says, and then gives her flat stomach a conspiratorial little pat. Everyone who is pressing a fork into that first tender layer looks at the person who declined the plate, and they all think, That person is better than I am. That person has discipline. But that isn’t a person with discipline; that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy. A slice of cake never made anybody fat. You don’t eat the whole cake. You don’t eat a cake every day of your life. You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious. You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress. A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life."

I especially love those last few sentences. So true. I think about most of the cakes I have eaten and I have such fond memories correlated with them. After reading the passage, I sat back and thought about some of my favorite cakes.... and the memories flooded in.
My Wedding Cake.

I am not encouraging you to go out right now and Eat some Cake, but I love the idea presented above. I don't ever want to be the type of person that turns away all the Good stuff in life.  Enjoy all things in Moderation.... and don't be so worried about 'eating perfect' that you miss out on the good things in life.


How to make your own Greek Style Yogurt

Greek Yogurt is all the graze right now--- I see it as the 'cool' friend. If you eat it, suddenly you are cool too. 

What is greek yogurt?: Basically STRAINED REGULAR YOGURT-- yep that's it.
---It is just yogurt that has been strained in a cloth or filter, to remove the watery whey, giving a consistency between that of yogurt and cheese! So simply, it is thicker and creamier than it's regular yogurt counterpart. 

You see it in all kinds of recipes being used as a substitute for cream cheeses or sour creams.....  in sauces, with fruit... everyone seems to like the thicker texture. But for those of you who buy Greek Yogurt, you know it can be pretty darn expensive compared to your regular non-fat yogurt. 
Did you know you can make your own greek style yogurt?? It is so Easy.

Here's the low-down on how to  
make your own Greek Style Yogurt

  1. Put a strainer lined with a piece coffee filter or paper towel into a medium size bowl (or you can just use a cheese cloth).
  2. Dump the non-fat/low-fat yogurt into the center of the cloth. (you can even try flavored yogurt. Yummy).
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  4. Place in fridge.
  5. Let the Whey drain out of the yogurt. (The length depends on the consistency that you want it- 12 hours is about right for typical greek yogurt consistency. Check your yogurt every few hours to use when it is the consistency you like it at).  
  6. You can even use the strained out liquid whey and add it to smoothies etc. for an extra whey boost. Or just toss it.
 (picture from here)

Nutrition Comparisons: 
Trader Joe's Fat-free Plain Yogurt:
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 110
Sodium:100 mg
Protein:11 grams
Calcium: 40%

Trader Joe's Fat-free Greek Yogurt-
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 120 
Sodium: 70 mg
Protein: 22 grams
Calcium: 20% 

Have any of you tried making this before? ! 


Summer Snack = Frozen Grapes

After buying a huge bunch of big, crisp, grapes last night (.89 cents a pound.... you can't beat that), I was reminded of one of my favorite summer time quick snacks and thought why I have not shared this with you all yet??!? 
Frozen Grapes.  
They are perfect on a hot summer day (we have had plenty of those this past week here in Iowa- hot, humid, muggy). When I come in from work, I head to the freezer, grab a handful, and am satisfied for the hour or so before dinner is ready.  I love that they have the harder outer shell but as soon as you bite into them they are soft and delish! I am a candy lover, so because of the sweetness, these are about the closest thing that comes to candy-- in a healthy form.  Plus they are bite-size, easy, and super convenient. Introduced them to the hubby this summer and he was an instant fan. Plus when there are just two of you, it isn't always easy to eat the whole bag of grapes before they get mushy..... this solves our problem and we have plump grapes for weeks.

For those of you who have never tried frozen grapes before, here's the low-down on how it's done.  
Easy peezy. 
1. Wash Grapes thoroughly
2. Pick off from the stems
3. Set individual grapes on paper towel and dry off
4. Put in zip-lock baggy and store in freezer
5. Let freeze for 5+ hours and enjoy

Use within 1-2 weeks for tastiest grapes.  They will stay good pretty much forever but they may tend to lose their sweetness if you leave them in the freezer for too long.
I like to add them in my cold cereal in the morning. The hubby things I am weird but I love the contrast of the crunch of the grapes with the softer cereal. Plus they help keep your milk super cold. Try it and let me know if you are a fan.
-Other uses: add to yogurt, top your ice cream, put in smoothies.

Nutrition Info on Grapes (for 1 cup or 92 grams)
-60 calories
-0 grams of fat
-Are high in antioxidants (vitamin C, resveratrol)- help protect against heart disease and may decrease some cancer risks. 
-Contain manganese, Vitamin B6, Thiamine, and Potassium
Plus frozen grapes take longer to eat so you will most likely eat less.

Click here for other tips on freezing fresh fruits and veggies.


Try This- Not That. Healthy Substitutions

Being the one doing the mixing, mashing, folding, and baking means that I am in control of what goes into my dishes.
I like control and I like cutting out calories and fat......
         so when it comes to baking substitutions here are some ideas on how you can cut some calories and the fat.
Sugar in fruit pies/cobblers-
Use this: Half the amount of sugar
Not this: All the sugar
Benefits: For everyone 1 cup of sugar you don't use you will save 744 calories. Plus when using fruits often the natural sugar and sweetness from the fruits is all you need

Flour in Cookies & Crusts(pizza)-
Use this: Half whole-wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose flour
Not this: Just all-purpose flour
Benefits: Whole wheat flour has upwards of 12 grams of fiber per cup compared to white which only has ~4 grams.

Cream or Whole Milk in Soups, muffins, puddings-
Use this: Skim or lowfat (1% or 2%) milk
Not this: Heavy cream or whole milk
Benefits: By replacing heavy cream you can slash up to 700 calories per cup. 

Cream Cheese in Cheesecakes-
Use this: Lowfat ricotta/reduced fat cream cheese
Not this: Regular Cream cheese
Benefits: Skim/low-fat Ricotta has more protein plus you will cut out around 60 grams of fat and 450 calories per cup.

Oil in brownies, fruit breads, muffins-
Use this: part applesauce or pureed pumpkin
Not this: Oil
Benefits: For each 1/2 cup you cut out, you'll save more than 900 calories and 100 grams of fat

Chocolate in Chocolate Desserts (like brownies, chocolate cake)- 
Use this: 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder 
Not this: 1 ounce of baking chocolate
Benefits: Substituting with powder can shave off 13 grams of fat and 85 calories 

Anytime it asks for Eggs
Use this: 1 egg + 2 egg whites or egg substitute 
Not this: 2 eggs
Benefits: Substituting with egg whites will cut out ~4 grams of fat and 25 calories


Don't Believe Everything You Read.

Check out this clip from the Today Show regarding 
They took popular diet boxed dinners (Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, & Healthy Choice), brought them to food scientists and tested exactly how many calories and fat were in each box.  You'll be surprised by their results.
  A few interesting points from the clip:
  • The food companies test a dozen or so of the meals and then take the average. That is what they put on the label. So some boxes have less calories then what is labeled and some have more.
  • The government allows food labeling to be up to 20% off what the actual numbers are
  • Portion sizes vary from box to box to it really is impossible to be exact. Makes sense to me cause you have to be practical.


Eat Better Early = Nutritious Recipes

Now that summer is here and the kids are out of school.... it makes for even more of a challenge to create healthy meals for the kids for both lunch and dinner.  I know how hard this can be with the kids I babysit for. So when I came upon this website I wanted to be sure to share it with you. 
American Dietetic Dietitians collaborated with Betty Crocker Kitchens to create  Eat Better Early.com. Each recipe calls for at least one WIC-eligible food.  It also has great cooking tips, nutrition resources, a guide to mypramid, and so many easy, GREAT RECIPES that are categorized into breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts.  It also includes all of the nutrition info--- so helpful when trying to decide if a dish really is healthy or not! I also love how all the recipes have pictures. I know when I go to make something if there is not a picture I don't make it. 

I picked a few random recipes to show just a few of the recipes they have.


Gluten Free Diet - What & How?

It is a pretty safe bet that I can assume that most of you either have to follow a gluten free diet or know of someone that needs to.  I must admit that I am in no way an expert in this area.... but I do know what a hard, confusing, and often frustrating diagnosis this can be.
Here is some basic info on Celiac's Disease (Gluten-free diet).

-What foods must not be eaten on a gluten-free diet?
Any food that contains the ingredients wheat, barley, rye, malt, brewer's yeast and, in most cases, oats.
Reading ingredient lists on food labels is essential. Anything that has the words wheat, barley, rye, oats (unless specifies gluten free), malt, and brewer's yeast you should avoid.

-Sounds like a lot of foods right? So what specific foods contain these ingredients?
These ingredients are usually found in foods that you typically think of as containing flour or grain.
Ex: most regular brands of bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, cracker, and cookie products as well as products containing malt, such as malt vinegar and malted milk.
Many processed foods, including soups, gravies, sauces, stock, bouillon, seasoned rice mixes, seasoned nuts, seasoned tortilla and potato chips, and vegetables in sauce also contain many of these products

So can I really not have any bread, pasta, cereals for the rest of my life?! 
Luckily, gluten-free products are becoming much more common. Gluten-free products are typically carried by health foods stores although an increasing number of gluten-free products are beginning to pop up all over your local grocery store(especially larger chains).

What products are naturally gluten free?
-Load up on all your fresh fruits and veggies. All naturally gluten free so go much away.
-If you love meat--- eat up. Plain fresh meat, chicken, eggs and fish are all naturally gluten-free (although you still need to watch out for added ingredients like broths, seasonings and marinades).
-Potatotes and sweet potatoes are also gluten-free. Go for beans but be sure to watch out for added sauces and ingredients that may contain gluten.
-Grain items that are gluten free: include certain brands of rice cakes and rice crackers, brown rice, enriched white rice, polenta, corn tortillas, plain tortilla chips, popcorn, 100% rice noodles.
Instead of worrying so much about what you CAN'T eat... savor and enjoy and savor the many foods that you CAN eat.

Here are a few great blogs dedicated to Gluten Free living, eating, and enjoying.


Good Enough!

"To reap nearly all the benefits of a healthy diet, you don't have to be perfect--- just good enough."
-Leslie Bonci, RD director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 
So don't get discouraged when you are having a little bit of a rough day!  None of us are perfect--- 
strive for good working on perfection.


Foil/Saran Wrap Tab

So I ran into a new discovery the other day. I saw this on someones blog and I had to run to the kitchen and check it out for myself to see if it were true. haha   
-- We have all had it happen. You know when you are trying to pull some aluminum foil or saran wrap out and the entire roll comes out of the box.  Super annoying! I think this problem is never going to happen again.  Here is why...
On the ends of a box of foil or saran wrap, written is 'Press here to lock end.'  Easy as that. You simply push the tabs and the roll is all locked in place. Such a handy feature. No more runaway rolls.  I have yet to see how it works over long periods of time but I thought it was a pretty cool idea.  
Call me an idiot but am I the only one that didn't know about this? And how long have the manufacturers been including these little tabs?  


Eating For Exercise and Weight Loss

I know I am supposed to refuel after a long hard workout or run..... but what if I am wanting to lose weight? Do I still need to replenish my body's energy stores?  
How much and what should I be eating to both help me lose weight and keep my energy up?  
These are questions that I have not only asked myself but have heard from many friends on many occasions. 
So with questions like this I turn to Nancy Clark, Ms, RD.  She is the Author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Trust me. She is the go-to lady when it comes to Sports Nutrition.

What  and how much should you be eating?
Studies show that protein combined with carbohydrate consumed immediately after a training session helps enhance glycogen storage in the muscle tissue.  Carbs restore your energy while the protein helps with lean muscle growth.  Foods with a 3:1 carb:protein ratio usually are best. (example 33 calories from protein, 100 calories from carbs) Focus on Good Carbs and Lean Proteins.
Some food examples are chocolate milk, 1/2 or small bagel with cottage cheese or peanut butter, Yogurt smoothie with fruit, half turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, bowl of cereal with skim milk, brown rice with lean chicken. 
How Much-
I know many of us get in the mindset of, "I am training really hard and intense, so I can get away with eating these extra calories."  But the truth is that most of us tend to overestimate how many calories we actually burned during a workout--- and as a result eat more than we even burned off. t. So as a word of advice from Nancy Clark, "If you're hoping to lose weight while you train, try to consume 200 fewer calories per day than you would normally eat."   I would recommend something about the size of your fist. Really not a whole lot, just enough to replenish your stores. 

When you are trying to lose weight, I love her tip of trying to plan finishing your workout right before mealtime. Basically you are getting a 2 for 1.... and you won't be adding an additional post exercise session snack-- which decreases your overall calories for the day. 

Oh and don't forget the WATER! 

What do you like to re-fuel after a long hard workout?


Recipe Makeover - Potato Salad

I don't really like mayo... don't really like mustard.... and don't really like pickles. So needless to say Potato Salad does NOT rank at the top of my list.  I like the creamy texture but the overwhelming mayo flavor turns me off.  Plus I can't seem to justify all the calories and especially the fat in just one little serving.
So when I saw this recipe being spotlighted over at 'Healthy Delicious', I knew I wanted to give the traditional potato salad a makeover and try out this new healthier option using hummus and fat -free yogurt in place of mayo.  (no mayo, no mustard, and no pickles... just my style)

I gave it a try.... and I was pleasantly surprised. The flavor was good; a hint of hummus, but not too strong. Plus I felt no guilt as I went in for another spoonful.
The Mr. has many of the same feelings when it comes to Mayo and he too gave it a thumbs up.  It really is the perfect alternative for your traditional potato salad.  Here's the recipe.
(Sorry no picture from me. Camera still broken-- and yet to get a new one.... so instead check out 'Healthy Delicious' pic. Very pretty). 
  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup hummus
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 Tbs cucumber- or you could use pickle here or really whatever your fave potato salad additions is.
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed (I didn't have any fresh on hand but I am sure that would have made it only better).  
  • salt and pepper TT
Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place in a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes are tender (don't let them get too soft). Drain and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with the remaining ingredients, mixing well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 4-6
*Nutrition Comparisons* 
Original Mayo Potato Salad- per serving:  
437 calories, 33 grams fat, 3.9 grams fiber, 5.5 grams protein, 

Potato Salad Makeover: no mayo- per serving:  
193 calories, 5 grams fat, 6.5 grams fiber, 8.5 grams protein

That's a saving of 
244 calories 
28 grams of fat
and gives you 2.6 more grams of fiber, 
and 3 more grams of protein. 


Small Changes = Big Results

I love this article from Prevention entitled,  
Small Changes That Take Off Big Pounds.  

I am a firm believer of making little day to day changes compared to making huge drastic changes in your diet/life....  I find that those that are usually successful for the long-term have changed little things in their habits that they can continue to do forever.

I love when a study has been done that backs up my beliefs... read on. ----A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that participants who made one small, potentially permanent change in their food choices and/or physical activity each week (such as drinking one fewer can of soda or walking 5 more minutes each day) lost more than twice as much belly fat, 2 1/2 more inches off their waistlines, and about 4 times more weight during a 4-month program, compared with those who followed traditional calorie-restriction and physical-activity guidelines. 


The article goes on and gives 16 proven tips on what you can change to help lose those extra pounds.  A few of my favorites are. 

1. Climb 3 extra flights of stairs daily.  Most of us has access to stairs somewhere. I know at work I like to make it a purpose to go up and down them as much as possible.  

2. Follow the 1-mile rule. If your errands are less than 1 mile away, vow to walk them at a brisk pace instead of driving. Or park where you can run several errands within a mile instead of moving your car each time. Although this can be difficult during the winter months and in some locations, I love the idea. I catch myself driving to the gym that is less than a half mile away. Ironic I know. My summer goal is to ditch the car and run to the gym.   

3. Brush immediately After Dinner. If you are a late night snacker like me, this rule helps save you hundreds of calories. It works for me.... give it a try. 

4. Limit High fat foods to 1 per week.   Although this one is a hard one for me; when I have followed it, I have noticed I am more successful in my weight loss goals.

Check out the rest of their tips here

What is one small change that you  can do to make a big difference?