‘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!

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.

Fight the BBQ Bulge: Your Guide to Summer Sauces

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Schools are out, beaches are open, and the sun is blazing! With all  this summery goodness comes one of my favorite events: Outdoor  barbecues! It just wouldn’t be summer without an outdoor gathering of  your closest friends and family.Ribs, steaks, and chicken kebabs … what  do all of these things have in common? Sauce! It’s usually slathered on  thick or used as a marinade before cooking protein or veggies. But  certain ones can wreak havoc on your carefully chiseled summer  waistline. Below is a guide to sauces that will get you through the season without the barbecue bulge!

Limit your sodium

Sodium  is the biggest offender when dealing with sauce, because it adds flavor  and is often used as a preservative to increase shelf life. Since  barbecue sauce is used in such plentiful amounts, adhere to strict  sodium guidelines when choosing one, or you’ll certainly feel the bloat  the next day. Aim for under 250 milligrams per 2-tablespoon serving.  This may be hard to find with many popular sauce brands, so look for  unique food companies that focus more on flavoring with spices instead  of loading on the salt. One of my favorites is Danielle’s Sauces, which  is built on the belief of “clean cooking,” so their products are free of  preservatives and additives. I love the company’s Smoke & Spice BBQ  Sauce, which contains only 240 milligrams of sodium per 2-tbsp. serving  but packs tons of flavor and kick. Or, infuse some Asian flavor into  your dish by using the brand’s Chiliyaki sauce, a spicy teriyaki that’s  one of the lowest-sodium sauces on the market.

Beware of sugar

So  many sauces are flavored with molasses, brown sugar, or even corn syrup  to maintain a smoky sweetness, but sugar can cause your calories to add  up faster than you think. As a rule, try to look for sauces that are  less than 50 calories per 2-tbsp. serving. Chris’ and Pitt’s Bar-B-Q  Sauce is perfect to spread on ribs or chicken and has just 30 calories  in 2 tablespoons. If you opt for a sauce that’s higher in calories, try  to keep the sauce on the side to use as a dip. You’ll most likely use  less if it’s not slathered on beforehand.

Hot  sauce is another great option because it’s low in calories, and you only  need a dash or two to make things interesting. Among the numerous  varieties of hot sauces available, Shiracha hot sauce is my go-to summer  barbecue staple. It provides a spicy flavor, not a five-alarm fire. A  teaspoon or two is all you need and adds just 10 calories and 200  milligrams of sodium to your dish.

Swap sauce for salsa

There’s  something to be said for barbecue sauce, but you may find that topping  your freshly grilled salmon or scallops with a heap of homemade salsa  can add a refreshing aspect to your dish.  Dice an avocado, and combine with half a cup of quartered grape  tomatoes, a three-quarter cup of fresh corn and 1 tablespoon of fresh  cilantro. Add a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of salt, and you’re  ready to go. The unsaturated fat from the avocado, combined with the  citrus flavoring will create such a bold flavor, you’ll never miss the  sauce! If you’re pressed for time, consider a jarred salsa. The Brooklyn  Salsa Company creates unique blends from local, sustainable  ingredients. Enjoy The Green flavor, which combines cumin, ginger, and  heirloom tomatoes for about 100 milligrams of sodium and only 10  calories per serving.

Make it homemade

Creating your own sauce at home can ignite your creative side and inspire you to add unique spices and fresh flavorings. Keeping it homemade  also gives you control over the nutritional content of the sauce. Start  with a tomato base of either no-salt-added ketchup or no-salt-added  tomato sauce which you can find in the condiment aisle of any large  supermarket. Add 2 tablespoons of molasses, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and  a sprinkle of brown sugar. Season with freshly ground pepper and  one-half teaspoon of garlic powder. You can stop right here, and the  sauce will be delicious, or consider experimenting with spices such as  curry or ginger powder. For a different flavor, try apple cider or red  wine vinegar.

Summer is not a time to be a wallflower! So enjoy the beach, the sun, and the barbecues, knowing that you don’t need to sacrifice flavor when watching your calories.

Fast Food the Healthy Way: A Guide

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Let’s be real, everyone loves fast food. (Whether or not you want to admit it, but there’s something about French fries that really gets people going.) As a nutritionist, it’s hard for me to approve calorie-laden burgers, milkshakes or double decker bacon-filled ranch-dressing-topped nutritional nightmares. They’re not providing a ton of good nutrients, and instead are passing along sugar, fat and carbohydrates that will leave you feeling sluggish in its place. That being said, you have to live your life. It’s your life, not your diet, that takes precedence.  So I never want you to eliminate things you love completely. Why not? That will not only make you want those foods MORE, but it’s unrealistic. You’re not going to go the rest of your life without eating a hamburger. (Even I like one occasionally.)

Maybe you just really want a little fast-food treat, or you’re on the road and have no choice. Here are some healthy options for some of the most popular chains. You never have to ban entire restaurants or types of food from your life. That only leads to wanting those foods more! Small indulgences like the ones I’ve chosen below can get you far:

 

McDonalds:
1.) Fruit and yogurt parfait — 160 calories 2.) Caesar salad with grilled chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette — 260 calories
 

Taco Bell
1.) Grilled steak soft taco (Fresco) — 150 calories 2.) Gordita supreme, chicken — 270 calories

Burger King
1.) Tender grilled chicken garden salad with Ken’s fat-free ranch dressing — 290 calories 2.) Small burger with a bun (260 calories). This counts as one angel carb. (What’s an angel carb? A good carb, because some bread is bad, but not all of it!)

Pizza Hut
1.) Two slices of a 12-inch pizza, — 300 calories, 2 angel carbs.

It is possible to eat fast food (very occasionally) and still keep it healthy. These are splurges, but not outrageous ones. No matter your lifestyle, job scenario or wallet, you can eat well.

DIY Greek Yogurt Desserts: Delicious and Nutritious

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As a nutritionist I want to give you delicious, healthy recipes that won’t break your calorie bank. As I tell you in my book, Bread is the Devil, it’s crucial to live your life, not your diet. So yes, dessert is allowed! Greek yogurt has seen a recent popularity in every facet of the food world — even Ben & Jerry’s has created a frozen swirl. What’s not to love? Greek yogurt is high in protein, low in sugar and is one of the most versatile ingredients around. When it comes to sweet treats, Greek yogurt is the way to go. Here are three ways to knock out your sweet tooth while whittling your waistline.

Frozen Yogurt

Mainstream ice cream brands are pumping out their Greek yogurt lines faster than dietitians are comfortable with. It’s tempting to toss a few pints into your shopping basket and call it a day, but buyers beware! Some of these brands contain over 400 calories per half-pint, which is the same amount as regular ice cream. And let’s face it, who really eats just a half-pint anyway? I could put an entire one away before you say “30 Rock.” This doesn’t mean that you can’t partake in an icy indulgence. My best advice is to try making your own fro-yo at home. You’ll need an ice cream maker, but it’s well worth it.

To make:

Combine 2 cups of 2% plain Greek yogurt, ¼ cup honey and a ½ teaspoon of vanilla into an ice cream maker to yield one pint. If you’d like to add fresh pureed fruit, this is the time to do it. Be sure to blend well! The amount of time the yogurt will need to mix will vary by manufacturer. The key to a great consistency is the second freeze. After the yogurt is done “pre-freezing” in the machine, place the mixture in your regular freezer for at least four hours. The result will be a smooth, creamy delight!

Parfaits

One of the simplest things to make at home, store-bought parfaits can clock in at about 40 grams of sugar and 350 calories per serving. That’s one way NOT to start off your day. By switching to this homemade approach you can avoid extra calories and sugar while still getting over 15 grams of protein and six grams of fiber.  They are also a dinner host’s dream, as they can be made ahead of time and placed in the fridge to set.

To make:

Choose your favorite individual sized 0% or 2% Greek yogurt and mix well. Scoop half of the container into a parfait glass. Instead of using high-fat loose granola, crumble one half of a Kashi TLC Crunchy Granola Bar on top of the yogurt. Sprinkle a handful of berries over the granola. Repeat, and enjoy!

Creamy Popsicles

Fruit and cream is a delicious combination, and can be done in a healthy way that will still satisfy even the strongest sweet tooth. Store-bought brands are loaded with added sugar and lack fresh fruit, that’s why I prefer to make these pops at home. They take about 10 minutes of prep and then you’re done! To make six pops, puree 1 cup each of plain 0% Greek yogurt and fresh berries with 2 tablespoons of honey in a food processor. Fill 3-oz. paper cups with mixture, insert Popsicle sticks and place in the freezer for at least six hours. These are great to make in bulk and keep in your fridge for guests, kids or a simple craving!

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.

Figuring Out Fiber

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By now the secret is out. Fiber keeps you-um- regular. But fiber gets a bad rap, because it promotes images of your grandma’s prunes and weird, grainy orange drinks. Not so yummy. It’s no wonder that according to National Health and Nutrition Examination survey (NHANES), 9 out of 10 Americans aren’t getting enough fiber. It may not have the most glamorous role in a healthy diet but trust me, it’s important. So let’s take this intriguing lesson from the top.

There are two types of fiber. Insoluble and soluble. The basic rule of thumb is that soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fiber is attracted to water so it’s best to drink lots of water in order for it to work most effectively. When it is ingested, the fiber pulls in water from the body, forming a gel which pulls out cholesterol and delays digestion. By slowing the rate at which the stomach empties, soluble fiber gives the body a better chance to control blood sugar levels. This has been shown to be extremely beneficial for those with insulin sensitivity and diabetes. Delayed stomach emptying from the ingestion of fiber is also useful in keeping you fuller for longer periods of time. Recent research shows that even a small increase (5 to 10 grams) of soluble fiber per day can reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) by 5 percent.  Soluble fiber can be found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, bran, nuts and seeds.

Insoluble fibers consist mostly of compounds found in plant cells and bran layers in cereal. They play a vital role in keeping your gastrointestinal tract on track. Because they do not dissolve in water, they pass through the digestive system intact and relatively quickly. This in turn promotes regularity by stimulating the movement of the intestinal muscles, pushing out waste and cleaning out your intestines. Insoluble fiber can be found in the skins of fruits such as apples and pears, root and leafy vegetables.

Use these three meal ideas below to get you started! Just remember, work yourself up to a high-fiber diet and drink at least one full glass of water with each meal to avoid stomach discomfort, cramping and bloating.

Breakfast:

A guaranteed way to amp up your intake is to start your day with a ½ cup of oatmeal, topped with 3 tablespoons of GG Bran Sprinkles and a ½ cup of sliced strawberries. That’s 11 grams of fiber for less than 200 calories! This breakfast is sure to get you through until lunchtime without a case of the mid morning munchies.

Lunch:

Take your typical lunchtime sandwich order and kick it up with some fiber! Switch to 100% whole grain bread, top turkey with spinach, tomatoes and sprouts and swap chips for carrots and cucumbers.  By making these 3 small changes to your sandwich you can add 5 to 7 grams of fiber without sacrificing taste. When packing lunch for myself or my family I rely on Trader Joe’s 100% Mulitgrain Fiber bread. One slice has 6 grams of fiber and only 100 calories.

Dinner:

Change up the typical green starter salad by adding some extra ingredients. Toss in ¼ cup of navy beans and you’ll add 4 to 5 grams. Add in hearts of palm, which is the tender cord taken from the center of a cabbage palm, as an easy way to increase fiber content. They typically are sold canned, so remember to rinse thoroughly to lower the sodium content before loading them onto your salad. One cup contains 4 grams of fiber and less than 50 calories!

For an entrée, cook up a cup and a half of Al Dente BonaChia Fettuccine  and toss with marinated artichoke hearts. Instead of refined white flour, this pasta is made with chia grain and provides 4 grams of fiber per serving. By adding in a half cup of artichokes you’ll amp up the fiber content by 7 grams. This delicious pasta dish is only 300 calories and packs in 11 grams of fiber!

The moral of the story?  Fiber is very important to health, digestion and weight loss. But there’s no need to rush out and buy a chalky powder or supplement to increase your fiber intake. It’s just as easy to obtain fiber through food, and so much tastier! If you’re curious to try some of the fibrous products mentioned check out my June Bestowed box for GG Bran Sprinkles and Al Dente BonaChia Fettuccine. Eat Well!

Choosing the Right Breakfast Cereal

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The cereal aisle in a supermarket can be as intimidating as walking into a room of complete strangers. There are literally hundreds of varieties of cereal on the market in the United States, and the number continues to increase. Not to mention that food companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars marketing cereal towards consumers, specifically children. These marketing tactics often make it difficult for the average consumer to determine which brands are beneficial and which ones they should pass on. Think of this as your cereal code book. Following the criteria below will help you make better choices when it comes to your cereal bowl.

Sugar Content
One serving of cereal should contain less than 10 grams of sugar.  Trader Joe’s makes a tasty fruit and nut medley that only contains 8 grams of sugar, providing just the right amount of sweetness. It’s also sweetened with dried cane syrup instead of high fructose corn syrup, which is an added bonus.

Whole Grain
Plenty of food companies will claim that their cereal provides a serving of whole grain but unless it’s one of the first ingredients, it’s not the case. Single grain cereals like shredded wheat, puffed wheat or rolled oats are safe bets if you’re not sure. If the cereal contains milled corn, corn meal, or rice than you’re getting a mixture of whole and refined grains.

Fiber
Cereal gets a bad wrap due to it’s high carbohydrate content but as long as a portion of those carbs are coming from fiber, you’re in the clear. Most good-for-you cereals will contain anywhere from 7 to 12 grams of protein per serving. I love to take a 1/2 cup of Nature’s Path Smart Bran cereal and mix it into a flavored Greek yogurt. A half cup contains over 20% of your daily requirement. I featured Nature’s Path in my May Bestowed box, because they are a socially responsible company, and their products are free of preservatives, chemicals and additives. Remember, the fiber in a cereal is what’s going to keep you full until your next meal.

Protein
This is the missing component it most of the leading cereal brands. Some of the most popular cereals claim to contain whole grain and be great for your health but only contain a measly 1 to 2 grams of protein. Besides fiber, protein ensures that your breakfast choice will go a long way in satiating you through the morning. Brands such as Kashi Go Lean contain a whopping 9 grams of protein. That’s more than you’ll find in one large egg! Aim for brands that have at least 3 grams per serving.

When looking at nutrition labels keep in mind that all cereal companies use different serving sizes. An ideal amount of cereal is about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. It’s tempting to fill the bowl to the brim but it’s simply too much! Implement these criteria into your cereal purchasing decision and you’ll feel satisfied with the suggested serving size.

I Love Glow Gluten Free Cookies!

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why i love glow gluten free cookies

Gluten free has definitely captured national attention, and these cookies have only 110 calories. Glow Gluten Free provides four flavors of baked with natural and organic ingredients in a certified gluten free and Kosher bakery.  Ingredients like garbanzo bean and coconut flour make them both wholesome and delicious. I’m convinced they are just about the healthiest and BEST tasting cookie you’ll ever have.

two tips
I live for these as an afternoon delight for a touch of sweetness without the guilt. If you’re prone to eating fast, I recommend sticking these cookies in the freezer and enjoying them frozen. For those looking for that fresh baked flavor, ten seconds in the microwave should do the trick.

where to purchase
Glow Gluten Free cookies are currently featured in Bestowed’s April Box. Sign up to receive your box at bestowed.com. You can also purchase at www.glowglutenfree.com/gluten-free-cookies