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!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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If you’re anything like me, there is a unique feeling that comes with giving to the ones you love. I can’t help but browse aisles and websites thinking “ooohhh that would be perfect for…” As a dietitian, friends and family often look to me to bestow the latest and greatest in fashionable food-related finds. Well let me assure you, at the Bauer household we don’t disappoint.  So even if you’ve been a bit devilish this season, gifting these items will bestow an angelic aura upon you!

Great gift all around

1.       The Bobble- Dole this out to everyone you know this season.  These reusable water bottles with built-in water filters are BPA-free, which will leave you feeling guilt-free! With 8 different colors and 4 various sizes you can afford to be indecisive.

For the conscious chef in your life

2.      Healthy Steps Portion Control Tool Set- Ensuring perfect serving sizes can leave you in portion-controlled purgatory. Once you’ve used these in your kitchen you’ll think of dinner in a whole new light!

A new home for your kicks

3.       Thursday Friday bags- Roomy enough for sneakers, workout gear (and a new water bottle), these totes are giving ladies all around town new reasons to get in the gym. Who couldn’t resist tossing one of these over a treadmill? Yep, they’re way too fashionable to be stuffed in a gym locker. You may want to get one for yourself too…

For the Bread Lover in your life

4. For anyone in your life that holds bread near and dear to their heart.New books are always an exciting indulgence. Pre-order “Bread Is the Devil” (St Martin’s Press) for you and a friend and start 2012 feeling saintly.

Tall Turkey Tales

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Pretty soon, you’ll be knee deep in turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Yes, if it’s one thing you can count on it’s the holidays. Some of the best memories are created around the table; so don’t spend these precious times stressing over calories and weight gain. This 3-part blog series will help you glide through the holidays like a penguin on ice!

Contrary to how you may feel after next Thursday’s big feast, it’s impossible to gain weight in one sitting. The shift that you may see on the scale is due to an increase in blood volume, which typically happens after a large meal. Fear not! Your body carries a handy fluid regulating mechanism, called the fluid-electrolyte balance, which gets you back on track in no time.

Often, people associate this festive time of year with about a 5 to 8 lb. weight gain. Through research, the National Institutes of Health actually pinpoints that number at about 1 to 1.5 lbs. Yes, this is good news but don’t forget that if this happens every year, over time it can add up! Stay tuned next week for Turkey Day tips that will prevent this from happening….

A Better Burger

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Summer is just within reach and nothing says summer more than a backyard barbecue. There’s nothing better than warm weather, hanging out with your family and friends, and most importantly, biting into a delicious burger. But nowadays why reach for your standard all ground beef burger with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes, a big kosher pickle and a cold glass of beer when you can steer your way down the frozen aisle section to a plethora of different burgers that can satisfy each one of your family member’s craving for a juicy burger, without compromising on flavor or your bathing-suit ready physique. Here are some of my favorites!

 

Where’s the beef?

All you want is a nice juicy hamburger but between shuffling your kids back and for to summer camps, working behind a desk all day or even relaxing on a nice Saturday with your family, who has the time to assemble all those beef patties by hand? All beef burgers are a bbq must, and will satisfy your meat cravings while giving you the highest protein content of all the burger options below, which will keep you feeling full and energized. While consuming high amounts of red meats, more specifically processed red meats, may be correlated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes mellitus, red meat provides a superior amount of heme-iron compared to white meat, as well as multiple beneficial nutrients such as zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and alpha-lipoic acid. So as long as it’s unprocessed and lean, consuming moderate amount of red meat is a healthful option. When you’re in a bind, be sure to pick up these two frozen burger options:

-        Applegate Farms Organic Beef Burger: This burger only contains organic grass-fed beef so you’re getting real delicious meaty flavor. Each burger is 195 calories, 12 g of fat, 85 mg of sodium and packs 21 g of protein.

-        Great Range All Natural Bison Patties: Bison is uncommon ground for some people, but once you’ve had these all natural bison patties you may never go back to ground beef. Each 4 oz patty is 190 calories, 11 g of fat, 20 g of protein and only 60 mg of sodium. There are no artificial ingredients, growth hormones, stimulants or antibiotics and they only use a minimum of 90% lean beef so you know you’re getting the leanest cut out there.

 

Can’t Beat White Meat

Turkey and chicken burgers have become a popular option because white meats are typically considered leaner, with less calories per oz, than red meat. However, this is only the case if you purchase at least 90/10 ground turkey, otherwise 90/10 ground red meat is actually leaner with less fat and fewer calories than commerically packaged “lean ground turkey”. White meat is also favored over red meat because it does not have any associated health risks and it is a high protein source that does not cause post-meal insulin levels to rise. This is great news for individuals watching their blood sugar levels or who suffer from diabetes. With a milder flavor, white meat burgers generally have a ton of additives and artificial flavoring, so before think about ordering one in a restaurant make sure to ask your waiter what’s in that burger, because it might not actually be better for you. However, when done right, these burgers can be extremely flavorful and high in protein without the extra calories and fat that red meat provides. Here are my favorite white meat burgers:

-        Applegate Organic Turkey Burger: At only 140 calories per burger, 7 g of fat and 17 g of protein, this delicious turkey burger is also extremely low in sodium, 55 mg, and only contains organic turkey and rosemary- a perfect combination.

-        Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Chicken Burgers: The great thing about these burgers is that they are extremely flavorful, low in fat and actually have some fiber in them. 1 burger is 150 calories, 6 g of fat, 2 g of fiber and 19 g of protein. Unfortunately, they contain 310 mg of sodium but if you need to watch your sodium intake it’s best to avoid these chicken burgers.

 

A Pescatarian Affair

For those who don’t dabble in red or white meat, but haven’t fully converted to a vegetarian way of life, grilling out can be a reason to stay in. When there isn’t anything that you can eat, you fill up on chips and salsa, cole slaw and those double chocolate chip fudge brownies you had your eye on as soon as you walked into the party, which will leave you wishing you had the metabolism of a 12 year old soccer player. Now, there’s no excuse, with delicious tuna burger and mahi mahi burger options, these meat alternatives aren’t just for pescatarians. Fish burgers not only are delicious and packed with flavor, but they contain omega-3s, protein and are low in saturated fats, calories and sodium. While the summer provides some of the freshest fish you can get all year round, try these seafood burger options for all the flavor without the hassle and prep:

-        Whole Foods Wild Caught Yellowfin Tuna Burger: This yellowfin tuna burger is perfect for your next grill out. 1 burger is 130 calories, 5 g of fat, 21 g of protein and pairs well with avocado, lime and even a little kick from some wasabi for a pacific taste.

-        Whole Foods Wild Caught Mahi Mahi Burger: I can’t get enough of these wild caught mahi mahi burgers, and once you try them neither will you! 1 mahi mahi burger is 120 calories, 5 g of fat, 18 g of protein and tastes so fresh you’ll never believe it was frozen. They are great paired with grilled pineapple for a truly tropical taste.

 

Vegetarian Delight

Listen, I love meat, but veggie burgers have captured my heart. Veggie burgers used to be something even vegetarians avoided because let’s face it, they were bland and never had the consistency of a burger. Not anymore! Veggie burger making has turned into an art form, and nutritionally speaking, can be better for you than an all beef burger when done with your health in mind. Evidence shows a predominately vegetable based diet decreases your risk for obesity and its known deathly counterparts- heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. A vegetarian burger, when done consciously with adequate amounts of protein (through lentils, beans or tofu) provides more fiber than any other burger option and promotes a thinner and healthier body weight. However, a veggie burger done wrong can actually have more fat, less fiber, more sodium and more additives and artificial flavoring that your average hamburger so be ware. The number of veggie burgers on the market is astounding, but here are the best picks for your summer parties:

-        Dr. Praeger’s California Burgers: These California veggie burgers are definitely nutritionally unbeatable. At 110 calories, 4.5 g of fat, 4 g of fiber and 5 g of protein in each burger it also contains 50% of your daily vitamin A as well as ample amounts of iron.

-        Gardenburger’s: Any of the gardenburger vegetarian burger options are delicious but I particularly love the black bean chipotle variety. They are only 100 calories and 3 g of fat and contain 5 g of protein and 5 g of fiber. They are perfectly seasoned and are the perfect addition to your Mexican themed cook out.

-        Amy’s California Veggie Burger, Light in Sodium: These veggie burgers are the best option if you are watching your sodium intake since they contain only 250 mg of sodium per patty. They also are only 110 calories and 4 g of fat per patty and contain 3 g of fiber and 5 g of protein too!

 

So the question now is, good gosh almighty which way do you steer? There’s no need to be picky, you have the entire summer to try each and every one of these delicious burgers. Luckily, they all fill you up without filling you out, but the patty is just one part of the whole burger. Try to avoid heavy sauces, salty condiments, cheese and processed buns when assembling your burgers. Load up on lettuce, tomatoes and onions, stick to just a tablespoon of mustard or low-sodium barbeque sauce and try a whole-wheat wrap/bun/bread or iceberg lettuce instead of a white bun. But more importantly, enjoy the great weather, great food and your family and friends. If this article left you wanting more, don’t worry! I’ll be filling you up with some great bbq and healthy recipes for sauces, sides, desserts and so much more!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

 

Color me Healthy!

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March is National Nutrition Month (NNM). While we need to be nutri-aware all twelve months of the year, this month hands us a magnifying glass to bring everything into focus. For all encompassing purposes, I want to claim NNM the first month of your new nutrition year, making March 1st Nutrition New Years Day! (Happy belated nutrition new years day!) As we all literally or mentally scribbled down our New Years resolutions on January 1st, we also have a resolution for NNM. Good thing I can’t hear what you’re saying as you read this post because I’m sure that there were plenty of “Ugh, more resolutions? I can barely keep the original ones.” Well, before you jump ship there is something you should know, the American Dietetics Association has already come up with the resolution for you (drum roll please)… “Eat Right with Color.”

So look, the hardest part is over and the resolution is out there for everyone to know, but how do we do it? First, let’s interpret it. Just as peacocks fan out their beautiful feathers to attract their mates, whole fruits and vegetables wear their colors proudly as indicators of their nutrient density. Thankfully, fruits and vegetable are peacocking all of time, not just when they want you to eat them! Each color specifically represents different vitamins and minerals they contain; the list of all of the color associations could literally stretch from New York to California so here is a great cheat sheet of the most common ones.

Food-Color Chart

Now that you have the information, let’s figure out what to do with it. Some people can’t get enough of fruits and vegetables; it’s like candy from the earth! But those people aren’t a dime a dozen and were probably the only 4 year old who begged for more brussles sprouts, opposed to the majority of people who are now thinking that those Firecracker® popsicles are pretty colorful which means you can start eating more of those (this just in… those unfortunately don’t count).

Not only has the USDA and HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) told us to increase our fruits and vegetables in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, but now the ADA is also telling us we have to broaden our horizons. The easiest way to increase your fruit and veggie intake is by adding them in small quantities to each meal. Most individuals don’t buy fresh produce that often in fear of them spoiling, but I’m going to let you in on a secret, if you eat them they won’t spoil! But be realistic; don’t buy a pound of green beans for just you (especially if you hate green beans). It’s always a great idea to buy the loose produce opposed to the pre-packaged versions so you are able to control the quantity.  The complaint associated with the cost of produce (especially if they rot) is usually what follows, and the answer to that is even simpler, buy frozen! Not only does it last longer but you can buy them in larger quantities and not use it all at one time. Lastly, I don’t usually promote canned vegetables due to the mounds of salt and unidentifiable preservatives, but if you drain and rinse them well before use I am not entirely opposed.

After buying the fruits and vegetables, the next step would be integrating them into your meals, since it is recommended to eat anywhere between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Some easy ways to accomplish this are—starting at least one meal with a small salad, choose an apple (or apple slices) for a snack instead of a bag of chips, throw in a handful of mixed greens onto your sandwich or wrap, and trade in your chocolaty dessert for mixed berries. These are just a few ideas, and since NNM declared March 9th Registered Dietician day, speak with your dietician on ways to up your fruit and veggie count in your diet.

Produce purchased? Check. Integrating them into your diet? Check. Now, you’re telling me I have to hit every color on the spectrum in my fruit and vegetable choices? Yes! And here’s why. As I mentioned earlier, color is extremely important when it comes to food because, as a general rule, the brighter the color of food, the higher concentration of nutrients it contains. Not all fruits and vegetables are created nutritionally equal. Some vegetables, such as corn and potatoes are loaded with starch placing them in the starch column instead of the vegetable one, when it comes to health benefits. Such vegetables so happen to part of the popular crowd and get eaten a lot, so consider having on starchy vegetable and swapping the rest for a dark-green, red or orange vegetables.

So it doesn’t matter which slogan you adopt, whether you eat right with color, taste the rainbow, color yourself healthy, or circle around the color wheel, adopting this thought into your diet will bring about a healthier you.

Roses are red, violets are blue, chocolate is sweet… but is it good for you?

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The holiday of love, chocolate, candy, and cupid is upon us. While I am all about celebrating love, I don’t want months of staying on track to turn into a downward spiral with uncontrollable chocolate and candy binges because that first nibble got you hooked and now you are unable to shake off that sweet tooth. Indulging in your favorite sweet treat on Valentine’s day is 100% acceptable, even slightly encouraged, but if you are going to break into your secret stash, make a trip to your nearest specialty candy shop or order that tempting chocolate soufflé at your candlelight dinner for two, make sure you choose something that you love. It will make it that much sweeter. Then let February 15th be like any other day and get back on track.

But if you don’t want to even tempt yourself (because chocolate is just THAT good), here are some great healthy sweet treats that won’t be responsible for any extra pounds on your would-have-been-fine-behind:

  • Blissingers 100 calorie Chocolate Bar- not only is it tasty and only 100 calories but its also gluten free!
  • Adora Dark Chocolate Calcium- this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone: statisfy your chocolate craving and get your calcium and vitamin D intake for the day. Be warned, only 3 a day of these treats because you don’t want to take in too much calcium.
  • Karma Cookie: Chocolot: this is one of my personal favorites! Similar to a flourless chocolate cake but with only half the calories (190 calories for whole cookie), oragnic and is egg, dairy, gluten and soy free so its definitely one to nibble on if you have these dietary restrictions.
  • 100 calorie dark chocolate peanut butter packet: delicious creamy chocolate peanut butter in a pack! Can anything be better?
  • Blue Diamond oven roasted dark chocolate almonds: When you need a quick snack but don’t want to fuss with measuring out the correct portion, this should be your go to because they come in 100 calorie packs and will fulfill your nutty and chocolaty craving.
  • Organic fiber bar by Renew Life- chocolate dream flavor. This bar has 14 g of fiber, is only 170 calories and is super chocolately! Its a great way to get in your daily fiber too!
  • Matt’s Munchies: fruit leather choco nana flavor. Only 90 calories and jam packed with that banana chocolate flavor we all love. Made with no artificial ingredients and gluten free, it is nice and chewy so it will last a long time.
  • Mighty Leaf Chocolate Mint Truffle herbal tea. This is great for after dinner when all you want is that little something sweet. It can act as a palate cleanser as well with a little hint of chocolate and mint.
  • Sweetriot- 100% cacao ribs. These are tiny pieces of cacao (the bean that chocolate is made from). You can snack on them one at a time for 1-2 calories or each the entire container for only 140 calories.

Thinking about what is the perfect sweet to give your significant other without giving him/her extra inches, there’s only one place to look, in the kitchen! This year, why not save on calories and go extra thoughtful and homemade with dark chocolate covered strawberries ,  or cherry almond chocolate clusters.

And while we are on the subject of chocolate, I’m sure you’ve heard the tempting rumors about the benefits of dark chocolate, so I might as well clear up some gossip so you can make a level headed decision when faced with 7 chocolate options (80%, 70%, milk, white, dark, mint…) at the store. Lets go from lightest to darkest, which means white chocolate steps up to the plate. Fun fact: white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate at all. In order to be categorized as chocolate, the product must include chocolate liquor (non alcoholic) and white chocolate is comprised of cocoa butter, milk, heaps of sugar and flavoring, but no chocolate liquor- so why waste your money on something pretending to be chocolate? I don’t!

Next on deck we have milk chocolate, which unfortunately isn’t much better than its chocolate-posing counterpart white chocolate, aside from its authenticity. It contains a lot of sugar, flavor and dairy that will sky-rocket the calorie and sugar count.

Moving on to our star player, dark chocolate. While I don’t condone incorporating dark chocolate into your diet on a regular basis, if you’re going to do chocolate in small amounts this should be your go to (key word: small amounts). It’s high in antioxidants and may reduce LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), inflammation and blood pressure. And have you ever wondered why your loved one gives you chocolate to put you in a better mood? That’s because chocolate can increase dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and improves your mood. The different levels of dark chocolate are indicative of the concentration of antioxidants (aka higher percentage of cocoa, the plant in which chocolate is derived from). Milk chocolate is 20-50%, semi-sweet chocolate is 50-69% and bitter is 70%+. So after 70% it will get more bitter but the antioxidant count doesn’t drastically change so there is no need to suffer through the extremely bitter stuff when the nutrition pay off isn’t much better. And since you asked, the flavored chocolates (caramels, mint, orange, pear etc) do not add any nutritional value so you might as well eat the whole fruit instead if it’s the flavor you crave!

So what happens when you are so loved that you are faced with 20 kinds of Valentine’s day treats? Here is a quick table-

Happy Valentine’s Day!