5 Foods Guaranteed to Get Your Heart Racing (While Keeping Your Waistline in Check)

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Love is in the air! Okay, so maybe not literally, but around this time of year my mind goes back to grammar school days of inking sweet nothings and hoping to receive a bounty of confectioneries on February 14th. We’ve all come a long way since then, but Valentine’s Day is still a great opportunity to pack some amazing nutrition into your diet.  I can’t guarantee you a date on the 14th but I can certainly help you stock up on foods of love!

5 Foods Guaranteed to get your heart racing

Chocolate

Yes, we’ve all been bombarded with the whole chocolate thing but did you know that it was considered the “Nourishment of Gods” by early Aztec cultures? Chocolate contains two properties, caffeine and theobromine, that act as natural stimulants in the body.  Besides revving you up for a hot date, it also contains more antioxidant properties than a glass of red wine! Don’t go overboard! This doesn’t mean you can eat a two tier box of truffles. Brands like Bissinger’s and sweetriot keep it simple with 45 cal squares and 100 calorie bars of dark chocolate decadence. sweetriot also has tins of flavored cacao nibs that are ideal for an on the go fix.  Or get a dose of calcium and sweetness with Adora chocolate discs; they satisfy a sweet tooth AND provide your daily calcium requirements.

Asparagus

These sexy spears have tons of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamine. They also contain a healthy dose of folic acid, boosting histamine production, a hormone that regulates other “feel good” chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine. Try a quick steam by placing in microwave with a damp paper towel over them. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and a pear vinaigrette for great flavor. Delicious served chilled as a salad course!

Sweet Basil

Said to increase fertility in women, sweet basil has an intoxicating smell and taste. Simmer tomato sauce with a few leaves and pair with a serving of whole wheat pasta. Sweet basil is also delicious in salads or simply as a topping on a freshly sliced tomato.

Garlic

You should probably keep a tin of Altoids on hand if you plan on indulging, but the health benefits are well worth it! Packed with the chemical allicin, garlic increases overall blood flow in the body. Skip the capsules and get this V-day staple directly from food for a full effect.

Red Wine

In moderation, we all know that wine can be beneficial to our body.  Even my 21 day Bread is the Devil Blueprint plan allows you to have a glass.  Red wine contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants associated with increased heart health. A healthy ticker equals a healthier you! Enjoy, but keep in mind any more than 2 glasses will have the exact opposite effects on the body.

Whether you’re single or attached at the hip, it doesn’t matter! Enjoy these foods regardless of your relationship status and you’ll feel a warm glow of love from within!

‘Water’ You Drinking?

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The summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean that your level of hydration should take a dip as well. Through the summer months it’s important to keep your body hydrated for a number of reasons. Did you know that our body uses 2 to 3 quarts of water per day to keep up basic functions such as body temperature regulation and metabolic processes? As a point of reference, that’s anywhere from 64 to 96 fluid ounces of liquid! Not only is water needed for homeostasis, but it is essential for joints and muscle mass. Think of it as the fluffy pillow of fluid between your bone and cartilage. Don’t be discouraged, though; there are plenty of ways to incorporate water into your diet. It doesn’t have to be all about plain old H2O! Keep these tips in mind as you “wet” your appetite.

1. Skip the Cubism — It’s easy to get your chill on while keeping hydrated. Toss some fresh berries, sliced peaches and pineapple wedges into the freezer. The next time you’re craving a chilly refresher, use the frozen fruit instead of regular ice cubes. Not only will the fruit cool down your glass of water, but it also adds taste without tons of calories! Once you’ve slurped down your beverage, enjoy the fruit for a boost of filling fiber.

2. Find Some Flavor — I often hear complaints from clients about the lack of flavor in water. No argument here — water definitely isn’t the most daring of beverage choices. Keep it interesting by adding Nuun All Day flavor tablets. They have fewer than 10 calories per tab and come in some amazing flavor combinations like Tangerine Lime and Cucumber Mint.  A simple plop, plop, fizz, fizz and you’ve got yourself some serious hydration! They also have high levels of potassium and magnesium, which are essential nutrients when it comes to your fluid electrolyte balance, cell growth and muscle contractions. Toss a few in your gym bag to avoid dehydration after an intense workout, or add a couple tablets to a pitcher of water and pour into Popsicle molds. Stick in the freezer for the perfect summertime treat.

3. Get It in Early — This is one of my favorite tips to offer up to clients. Aim to reach at least half of your hydration goal by noon. This way, you’ll feel less pressured as the day wears on. I call it the Liter by Lunch. It’s not uncommon for one to let a whole morning pass away and consume only a single cup of coffee. Instead, commit to a full glass before your AM java jolt. Keep a water bottle in front of your computer screen or by your phone at all times. We use these items so frequently, and the visual reminder of water next to them can result in increased sippage!

4. Consider Double-Fisting — Just kidding, well, sort of. Before heading out for a long night, you’ll want to start off with one large bottle of water. This sets the hydration precedence for the entire night. Follow up by alternating between one alcoholic drink and one non-alcoholic drink. This doesn’t mean you can imbibe soda, juice or tea instead. Keep your non-alcoholic choice to either water or seltzer. Be sure to steer clear of tonic.  People tend to think it’s similar to seltzer or club soda, but it actually contains just as many calories as soda and juice.

5. Eat to Hydrate — Don’t get caught up in thinking that all your liquid requirements have to come from a glass. There are plenty of foods that have high water content to quench your thirst. Celery takes the prize by having 95 percent water content, in addition to essential electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium. Veggies like cucumbers and bell peppers pack a satisfying crunch yet tons of H2O! Or choose fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe for seasonal satisfaction. Not only do these foods up your hydration ante, but they also have a significant filling effect on the stomach. This means you’ll consume less but feel fuller. Perfect for weight loss!

Water plays a significant role in weight loss, athletic performance and day-to-day functioning. So the next time you want to reach for that iced tea or soda, consider the abovementioned five tips. Keeping hydrated has never been so easy!

Beware the Scale: Learn the Right Way to Weigh

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When trying to follow a weight-loss plan, the scale can be your worst enemy. It’s a tricky device in tracking weight loss. Some dieters go so far as to step on the scale after every meal. This poses a problem, because weight tends to fluctuate, on average, between 2 to 4 pounds throughout the day. The number that you see first thing in the morning may be far from the number you see midday or before your head hits the pillow. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ve actually gained body fat. These numbers don’t reflect your accurate weight or your last meal.

Throughout my years of counseling clients, I’ve seen people who struggle to lose weight all of a sudden lose five pounds in a matter of days. On the other hand, some experience the opposite; starting off strong and then weight loss tapers off. Constantly stepping on the scale and seeing varied outcomes can result in feelings of discouragement, disappointment, and resentment. This trio of negative emotions can lead to binge eating. After all, you’ve been working hard all day to eat well, and all of a sudden your number skyrockets by 2 pounds in less than three hours with no explanation. It’s understandable that the average person would feel frustrated and turn to a bag of chips or box of cookies for solace. Therefore, it’s important to understand the many factors that play into weight fluctuation. Below are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to the scale:

Do keep in mind the importance of consistency. To accurately track the amount of weight that you are losing, it’s best to weigh yourself at the same time (preferably in the morning) every week, on the exact same day of the week. Write down the number, and at the end of four weeks, calculate the average of these numbers. Subtract that from your starting weight, and you’ll get a very precise measure of how much progress you’ve made.

Don’t jump on the scale after a big night out. You’re just torturing yourself. Rich, decadent restaurant cuisine is full of salt, fat, and sugar—things that make the meal taste so good! Keep in mind that it’s virtually impossible to gain weight after one large meal. If you get on the scale and see your number go up, it’s simply because your blood volume level has increased due to the large quantity of food that you’ve eaten. The high sodium content in certain prepared foods also causes the body to retain fluid, thus causing a higher number on the scale.

Do take fluids into account. It’s tough to measure fluids accurately, but two 8-ounce glasses of water can translate to about one pound of weight. This means that if you’ve just finished a giant bottle of H20 and decide to hop on the scale, the chances are you’re not going to like the outcome. Don’t fret. It’s only water. Our bodies are highly equipped to efficiently use fluids as needed and excrete what we don’t need. In fact, if you decide to avoid fluids in an attempt to lower that value on the scale, you’re in for a big surprise. Your body will actually do the opposite and retain fluid, causing you to show a “gain.” Drinking alcohol is also a key culprit in skewing the numbers. No matter the libation, all alcohol causes frequent urination and may increase perspiration. This leads to even more dehydration, which will cause the body to retain more fluid. It may seem contradictory, but be sure to add in plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages (such as water) to counteract the fluid imbalance.

Don’t avoid the scale all together. It’s important to note that weighing yourself on a regular basis doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. Stepping on a scale gives you a sense of accountability towards your actions and forces you to keep yourself in check. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 75 percent of individuals who have managed to successfully lose weight and keep it off consistently weigh themselves. In addition, a 2012 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics concludes that people who lose weight are less likely to regain it if they weigh themselves on a regular basis.

The Anatomy of a Healthy Salad

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How many times have you been in a restaurant with a friend and heard her  say, “Oh, I’ll just have a salad,” with a satisfied look on her face?  When looking for a healthy option,  it’s not uncommon for people to immediately rely on salad as their  go-to meal. Often associated with being low in calories and high in  nutrients, salads seem to make sense. The truth is, sometimes opting for  a salad can be one of your worst dieting downfalls. On the other hand,  salads don’t have to equate to a wider waistline. Research shows people  who eat salads are more likely to have higher levels of key nutrients  that prevent cancer and heart disease, and may consume 12 percent less  calories throughout the meal. It’s all about preparing them correctly  and knowing what to add in and what to take out. Below are my five top  tips on how to slim down your salad, without sacrificing flavor or  nutrition.

Throw Some Fat Into the Mix

Salads can fall on complete opposite ends of the spectrum if you’re not careful. Eating a bowl full of green leaves  and raw veggies with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar is one of the  biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. Sure, it’s low  in calories, but in order for your body to effectively use the abundant  nutrients in the vegetables, some type of fat needs to be added. Choose  an unsaturated one, and remember, a little goes a long way. Your body  only requires a small amount of fat in a meal to absorb the nutrients.  Consider using two to three thin slices of avocado to not only add in  heart-healthy fats, but also potassium, fiber, and vitamin E. At 50  calories, you can’t go wrong!

Remember, It’s a Salad, Not a Sandwich

Often,  devoted salad eaters choose to add in items like bacon, chicken, or  steak to make their salads more fulfilling. While it may do just that,  it can potentially add too many calories. If you must, pick one meat or  poultry option, but make sure to skip the cheese to avoid calorie  overload. Another idea is to garnish your greens with two egg whites  instead. This adds approximately 8 grams of protein for less than 50  calories. Or choose a legume, such as navy or kidney beans, to pack in  protein as well as fiber. An optimal serving for navy beans is ¼ cup,  which contains about 4 grams of both protein and fiber for 65 calories.  Just because your sandwich comes with bread doesn’t mean your salad has  to. Skip the breadsticks or pita typically offered on the side. They only add empty calories.

Swap Croutons for Crunchy Snack Mix

Ever  notice that most croutons don’t even crunch when you bite into them?  That’s because they’re drenched in either oil or butter to make up for  their lack of flavor and freshness. Regardless, a small serving of  croutons can contain anywhere from 50 to 90 calories without adding much  satisfaction. Instead, sprinkle your salad with Sheffa Zesty Snack Mix.  Made with ground chickpeas, the noodles are a great source of vegetable  protein that fall low on the glycemic index, which allows for a slower  release of sugar in the bloodstream, stabilizing appetite. One serving  will give your salad added crunch, taste, fiber, and protein to keep you  satiated for a longer period of time. Or crumble a high-fiber cracker  like GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbreads on top for some crunchy flavor.

The Darker the Better

When  it comes to being savvy about your salad, use your eyes! Swap pale  greens such as iceberg lettuce for leaves like kale, arugula, and  romaine lettuce. Dark green leafy vegetables rank high on the  nutritional scale, and are packed with fiber, phytochemicals,  antioxidants, and vitamins. Most people think of dairy foods as the  ultimate way to ensure enough calcium in their diet.  But leafy veggies such as mustard greens, kale, and bok choy all  contain considerable amounts of this bone-building nutrient for fewer  calories than dairy products. For example, adding 1 cup of kale to your  mix can amp up your salad by providing well over 100 percent of your  daily value for nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K.

Opt for Homemade Dressings

Have  you ever looked at how many ingredients are in most store-bought salad  dressings? And can you even pronounce half of them? Homemade salad  dressings are pretty simple. Start with an oil base (I prefer olive  oil), which acts as the emulsifier. Then, add in your favorite type of  vinegar. Although balsamic is popular, it’s fun to play around with  other flavors such as pear, raspberry, or even pomegranate! Next, chop  up some fresh herbs, which add flavor but not sodium.  The best varieties for salad include basil, thyme, marjoram, and  chives. Fresh is always best, but dried herbs can suffice in a pinch.  Ground pepper is also a must. Lastly, add in a pinch of sea salt to  taste. You can also experiment by adding different types of mustard to  provide another depth of flavor. Varieties like Dijon, whole-grain, or  sweet mustards all pack in flavor without tons of calories.

Chia: Not Just for Pets

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Chi chi chi Chia! Most people hear the word chia and have flashbacks of cheesy ’90s infomercials and bad Christmas gifts. Yes, chia can be used in lieu of a pet, but there is so much more that you can do with this spectacular seed! Let’s start off with a little Chia 101. Typically seen in seed form, the plant originated from Mexico and Guatemala. The word chia is derived from the word chian, which translates to the word oily, and is one of the main reasons there are so many health benefits. This gluten-free wonder can be eaten in raw seed form, ground into a fine powder or pressed into oil.

Raw Chia Seeds

Change up your morning routine and turn breakfast into your most powerful meal of the day. Mix two tablespoons of raw chia seeds into a 0 percent Greek yogurt to add four grams of fiber to your meal. Read about the amazing benefits of fiber in my previous post. You’ll also up your protein intake by five grams. That’s approximately 15 grams in total!

Chia Seed Oil

Next time you’re craving some greens, switch up the olive oil for chia seed oil. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in the prevention of heart disease, hypertension, stroke and depression. For an innovative twist on your standard green salad, mix 1/2 cup cooked quinoa with some parsley, green onion, basil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle with a 1/2 tablespoon chia seed oil for a salad that’s sure to please inside and out! Another option is to use chia as a micro green and add the sprouts to a traditional salad. It’s an effortless way to boost your protein, fiber and calcium intake!

CocoChia Living Fuel Snack Mix

A satisfying blend of coconut and chia seeds, this snack mix is an ideal option when searching for a snack on the go. Filled with antioxidants, one single-serve packet contributes to 20 percent of your daily fiber intake yet comes in under 150 calories. Opt for a pack instead of conventional, high calorie trail mix, or try swirling it into your morning oatmeal.

Chia Seed Powder

Put a little pizazz into your next smoothie and switch out conventional protein powder for chia seed powder. Start with ice, 1 cup of almond milk and 1 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt. Add in 1/2 cup raspberries,1/2 banana and 1/2 cup blueberries. Blend well and toss in three tablespoons of chia seed powder. The result? A delish summer refresher that packs in a whopping 10 grams of protein and fiber! It’s the perfect treat to recharge after a workout.

Occupational Hazard: Is Your Job Making You Fat?

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If you work in an office, you know that person. She’s incessantly talking about her past, future and present culinary endeavors and looking for a partner to indulge with. It starts off bright and early with the scent of a greasy egg-and-cheese sandwich wafting over to your desk, and then sure enough, at lunchtime you hear the rifling of takeout menus. Last month, the Wall Street Journal published an insightful article honing in on the difficulties people face when dieting in the workplace. As I read, comments I had heard numerous times from clients popped into my head: “I just felt so pressured to eat the cake she had made for me,” or “I didn’t want to be the only one not eating.” One survey found that over half of the participants ate foods they knew would sabotage their diet out of sheer obligation. When it comes to work-related eating, there are typically three types of eating personalities. I’ve broken them down for you and provided ways to overcome them.

The Situational Eater:

You let the situation dictate how you are going to eat.  For example, if the weekly staff meeting includes bagels and muffins, you fill your plate just because you can. Regardless of whether you’ve eaten breakfast already, you feel the need to eat.  Most likely, you don’t even taste the food.

Fix It:

1. Ask yourself why you are eating. Often, people are feeding an emotion, whether it’s the nervous energy of the meeting or the boredom you feel from your boss’s last lecture.

2. Keep in mind that you have the power to control your eating and write your dieting script.

The Free Foodie:

I hate to break it to you, but just because food is free, it’s not necessarily good for you.  In fact, most complimentary chow (i.e., donuts, birthday cake, and candy) rank high in calories and low in nutrition… You’ll most likely spend more time, energy and cash trying to peel off the extra pounds than if you’d picked up a solo salad instead.

Fix It:

1. When dining out, stay away from things that are easily refillable. Items like soda, wine (by the bottle) and bread baskets are things waiters can easily provide more of to ensure great service.
2. Try and be the last person at the table to order; people are less likely to focus on what you order once they’ve already placed their order.

The Office Party Animal

If every time you look at your inbox you have another Evite, then you fall into this category. Being social at the workplace and partaking in office camaraderie is important and can further help advance your career. Just be sure that it’s not doing the same for your waistline.

Fix It:

Try to be the server, not the eater. Take charge and volunteer to arrange the candles and dole out the dolce. Ironically, this trick puts the spotlight on you, yet makes it less likely that someone will fixate on what you’re eating. Redefine the word “special.” It’s easy to let office hype get the best of you. Every lunch seems like it’s at the best steakhouse and each happy hour seems like it’s at the hippest watering hole, but what’s really important to you? Save indulgences for things that truly are special, like your son’s birthday or wedding anniversary.

Remember, dieting isn’t necessarily about willpower; it’s about having the strategies you need to make better choices. Once you’ve identified your workplace persona, you’ll be completely equipped to maneuver occupational dieting hazards. For some of these tips I turn back to my first book The Wall Street Diet, which focuses on how to survive dieting in professional settings.

Your Mom Was Right

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Mothers and food are like love and marriage. It’s almost impossible to have one without the other. Some of the fondest memories we carry are centered around food, childhood and our mothers. They play an integral role in our nutrition habits because their beliefs are ingrained  into us at an early age. To this day, I use the essential nutrition advice that my mom bestowed upon me. Growing up, I was always the kid who wolfed  down my food, finishing before anyone else. At the rate I ate, you’d think I came from a family of 12! I can still hear my mother’s voice urging me to slow down and enjoy my meal. She simply wanted me to practice mindful eating. As a mother and nutritionist, it’s a value that I instill in my own children and clients.  Practicing this core value can help your diet in three essential ways:

1. You become less  likely to overeat because your brain has a chance to send a signal to your stomach that you’re full. Don’t be shocked: You may find food left behind on your plate!

2. Food becomes enjoyable again, and you actually taste what you are eating. Often, we sit down and polish off our plate without even tasting the meal. Eating should be a source of enjoyment, not just mechanism to fuel our bodies.  Just relax, take small bites, and chew! I promise, the food on the plate isn’t going anywhere.

3. You can gain control of your diet again. The pickable, poppable, unstoppable foods suddenly become manageable to integrate back into your regimen. When you actually take the time to evaluate what you are eating and the quantity, binges becomes less desirable.

Fad Dieting: It’s a Don’t, and Here’s Why

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What do Kate Middleton, Victoria Beckham and Kourtney Kardashian reportedly have in common? A nasty three-letter word. Can’t figure it out? It’s F-A-D. As in fad diet. I can’t even stifle my frustration, it’s a confusing and dangerous trend that dumbs down the science of nutrition and point fingers at unassuming foods, causing a tailspin to ensue. Sure, it makes perfect sense to inject female pregnancy hormones into your belly, or even better let’s exist on 500 calories a day and walk around with jars of baby food. If the newest thing was the “Air Diet” people would jump on the bandwagon and start saying “Gosh, I feel great, all I’ve had today is this amazing AIR! One thing you’ll never see me or any of my clients do is a fad diet. As a registered dietician, I believe in eating whole foods, as unprocessed as possible and not starving yourself. Where is that going to get you?

So what’s the problem with a fad diet anyway? Fad diets typically eliminate a food group, possibly causing nutrient deficiencies in your daily intake. I know it’s tempting to believe every diet claim that pops up on your morning show, but here are four questions you should ask yourself to determine if it’s actually legit:

1.) Where did the information come from?

Legit health claims come from academic institutions and medical centers. Research done by a food company always raises eyebrows. For example, most studies touting breakfast as the most important meal of the day are funded by huge cereal and grain companies…

2.) Is the information applicable to you?

If research found that a small group of 25-year-olds in Alaska tended to have lower cholesterol when eating salmon, take a moment to think. Are you in that age category? Are you from that region? Does your genetic or ethnic background even closely resemble theirs? If not, you should probably wait until larger studies are done among the masses before heading to Costco to buy that family pack of salmon. Don’t be a narcissist, not all nutrition research applies to you!

3.) Are the foods recommended appropriate for your diet?

Remember this: foods that are supposedly good for you are only going to help if they work into YOUR personal eating habits. Grapes are a convenient snack that travels well and tastes great. But, if you are prone to overeating pickable, poppable foods, they may not be the best thing for you. A hand fruit, such as an apple or orange, would probably be a better choice.

4.) Does it eliminate an entire food group?

Yes, my book may be called Bread is the Devil, but let’s clear things up. I’m not saying that all carbs are bad for you and that we shouldn’t eat them. It’s simply a commentary that refined carbs (like the ones we find in that piping hot bread basket) typically lead to eating more unhealthy foods like cookies, cakes and candy. I even encourage sandwiches! A turkey sandwich on whole wheat is a great lunch option. So don’t trust anything that tells you to eliminate a certain color food, or an entire food group for that matter.

Leave the science of nutrition up to the researchers in the lab. Everyday nutrition is not rocket science. Most importantly, remember that food is meant to be enjoyed. Every meal does not have to turn into a mini-crisis. You wouldn’t take on every single fashion trend that came your way (hello, neon leggings) so try not to do it with your diet.

Under the Sea(weed)

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You’ve seen it around your sushi, most likely. Not the soy sauce or the little green mound of wasabi, but the seaweed that holds everyone’s favorite food together. It makes sushi rolls delicious and portable, but it’s a lot more than wrapping paper. Did you know that seaweed has virtually no fat and large amounts of iodine? There are three main groups of seaweed: red algae, green algae and brown algae. It’s time to incorporate such a healthy food into your diet, and not just in sushi. It’s a wrap-up, if you will:

Nori

Part of the red algae family, this type of seaweed is commonly used to wrap sushi, but also sliced into strips, toasted and used as a garnish on soups and salads.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Department touts this as the most nutritious variety of seaweed, because it’s loaded with B vitamins and iodine. Originally harvested from the ocean, it’s now produced on specialized farms to meet increasing demands.  This salty snack is typically eaten by the sheet (thin and flaky), which only contain 5 to 10 calories, yet pack a gram of fiber each. It even has more vitamin C than an orange!

Wakame

Vegan alert! It’s the leathery, green substance that’s found floating around in your miso soup. Delicious! This popular brown seaweed variety contains a plethora of nutrients that are typically lacking in the vegan diet. Not only does wakame have calcium, but it’s also full of vitamin D, which aids in the calcium absorption process. In addition, it’s loaded with folate and vitamin C, a proven dynamic duo that aids the body in soaking up iron. Ancient medicine associates this green goodness with alleviating constipation and preventing colon cancer. Beware of the sodium content though. A 50 gram serving can have over 400 mg of sodium, which may not be ideal for those prone to high blood pressure.

Ulva

Also referred to as sea lettuce or “dead man’s fingers” (yum!) this is the most common variety of green algae seaweed that resembles fresh cabbage. Ulva is the ideal substitute for regular romaine or iceberg leaves. Simply soak in cold water to remove the salty flavor, towel-dry and then use the same way you would use lettuce. Pair with Asian components such as ginger, daikon and wasabi for a refreshing salad that packs protein, vitamins and minerals. Seaweed is one of the healthiest vegetables around, and a simple addition to your menu. Toss the chips and start crunching on SeaSnax instead. They have a Grab & Go pack that’s only 16 calories! Or crumble Annie Chun’s seaweed snacks in roasted sesame flavor into your soup or salad instead of croutons. They add a hint of flavor without increasing the calories.  Mix fresh red and green seaweed with sliced carrots, rice wine vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for a low-cal side that packs fiber and fullness.

The bottom (of the ocean) line is this – you can’t go wrong with seaweed. So pick your color, and eat up.

The Anatomy of a Healthy Sandwich

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Warm breeze, longer days, a calendar full of picnics and BBQs — it’s officially springtime! With all these obligations, it can be nerve-wracking to try to stick to your diet. These events can be filled with creamy potato salad, pies, mile-high sandwiches, you name it. There is still room for the almighty sandwich in your life (and your stomach). You just have to be smart about it. So get out your checkered tablecloth, find your best basket and strap on your sundress. Here are some guidelines to making the most out of this classic picnic staple.

The bread:

Before you quiver in fear and run for the solace of the salad bar, let me explain. Following a healthy eating plan doesn’t mean that you can’t eat bread. Although my book is called Bread is the Devil, I’ll be this first to say that not all bread is bad.

Ciabatta, pumpernickel, rye… The possibilities are endless! No matter how you slice it: Whole wheat or rye is the best option. You’ll also have to forgo anything bigger than a typical piece of bread. There is no reason a sandwich should be named after a submerged sea vessel. Don’t be fooled by the enticing allure of wraps. Most are nutritional wannabes, racking up 300-500 calories full of refined grains and oil. Choose La Tortilla fiber and flax corn tortillas. They clock in at a measly 45 calories, yet have five grams of fiber.

Sandwich spreads:

Aioli, chipotle mayo, and pesto are not your friends. Despite these condiments being offered on every sandwich menu known to man, they equal major calories — as much as 200-400! I love a tasty schmear as much as the next girl, but there are smarter choices than these sinful spreads. Opt for items such as mustard, relish, pickles, hot sauce or a lite soy sauce. If you’re still craving a creamy addition to your sandwich, use a Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge instead. They come in varieties such as queso fresco chipotle and sundried tomato basil, which give your sandwich instant flavor for only 35 calories.

In between the bread:

Most would say this is the part that really matters. There are so many things that you can make a sandwich out of, it’s easy to get deterred. Grilled chicken and turkey are typical healthy options, though it doesn’t have to stop at that. Try roasted vegetables (such as eggplant and zucchini) that have been marinated overnight in balsamic vinegar topped with one slice of Alpine Lace Swiss cheese.

Or change it up with mixing canned salmon (Did you know it’s always wild Alaskan?) with low-fat mayo, celery seed and chopped onions. It’s a top-notch alternative to typical tuna or chicken. And who can resist a classic PB&J? When spread on GG Bran crackers with Justin’s Nut Butter, you have a healthy alternative to a lunchroom standard.

Bottom line:

Sandwiches can still be a part of your life and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. At my new website Bestowed, you have an opportunity to sample some of the products I’ve mentioned. Nutrition advice is available in boatloads, and if you bought everything that was recommended you’d be broke. Think of this as a monthly “fit-kit” full of snacks and treats that have been carefully selected by me for you to try.

Can’t wait to get your feedback!

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