Whether you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo or need a quick, health dinner idea – give our Spicy Shrimp Tacos and Cilantro Lime Slaw a try!
1 | Grill Leaner
Choose leaner cuts of meat for grilling. Make sure excess fat is trimmed to reduce the amount of fat dripping onto the grill. Select meats like skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey instead of ground beef or even fresh fish like salmon and mahi mahi.
2 | Marinade, marinade, marinade!
This gives flavor to leaner cuts of meat without adding more fat. Choose healthier marinating options like the use of less sodium sauces, vinegar, or even fresh citrus juices like lemons, limes and oranges.
3 | Go Whole Wheat
Pick whole wheat or multi-grain buns. Or, skip the buns all together and make kebabs alternating pieces of onion, peppers and your choice of lean meat on a stick.
4 | Healthier Sides
The calories and fat content in sides can add up quick. Swap mayo-based salads for oil and vinegar or Greek yogurt versions. Ditch the salty potato chips and dip for veggies and hummus.
5 | Add Some Color
Add more fruits and vegetables to the grill to get more antioxidants out of your typical barbecue meal. Try grilling zucchini, onions, bell peppers, pears and pineapples to add some unique and healthy flavors to your plain old burgers.
6 | Fruit-Filled Desserts
Cure your sweet tooth with sweet, in season fruit. Make a fresh berry cobbler with granola and Greek yogurt or throw a slice of watermelon or pineapple on the grill for a post dinner treat!
- 1 Pound Chicken Breast, cut into one inch chunks
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 Yellow Squash
- Cherry Tomatoes
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 4 garlic cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp thyme (or your favorite fresh herbs!)
- Combine marinade ingredients in a sealable bag. Add cut chicken and vegetables.
- Marinade for four hours.
- Thread items onto skewers and grill until it is meat is cooked and vegetables are tender.
Dessert: Grilled Coconut Pineapple
Lightly brush pineapple rings with coconut oil and grill. Enjoy with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
It’s March and the snow and cold weather will begin to subside. Soon, flowers will begin to bud, and warmth will settle in. March is National Nutrition Month, and along with the beginning reminders that spring is on the way, and the court-side action during college basketball’s March Madness, this month is one to really appreciate! The intention of National Nutrition Month was initially put in place for those who work in dietetics and nutrition, providing a time to focus more efforts on getting the community to eat healthier. Whether you’re someone who works in healthcare, or are just someone who wants to focus on healthy eating, National Nutrition Month shows all of us the message is clear: focus on foods that provide the greatest nutritional value and supports our overall health goals.
Fortunately, this is something that with some practice and with some fine tuning of your meal planning, can be quite simple!
First of all, focus on VARIETY. To keep your plate interesting, think of the colors of the rainbow and aim to have as many on your plate as possible. It’s easy for us to consume a diet of typically brown colored foods (e.g., potatoes, chicken, bread, pasta, etc.). Instead, try adding a side of grilled red and green peppers, some steamed broccoli or mashed sweet potatoes. Not only will this be more visually appealing and much more flavorful, but with even just one added portion of any of these veggies, you’ve instantly earned an extra boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber!
Secondly, EXPERIMENT with new or unusual foods. Try adding a new flavor to your palette each week. This may be a simple as learning how to season eggplant to your liking, or trying something from another culture’s authentic cuisine. Whatever you do, start small and allow time to get to know the food. For example, never tried Indian food, but interested in giving it a go? Try reviewing the restaurant’s menu beforehand, ask your wait staff plenty of questions, and even bring along a friend who’s familiar with the cuisine and who can make some recommendations for foods to try. Find a familiar favorite on the menu and explore the different ways other cultures prepare it. Let’s say you love chicken, but usually just eat it grilled and with light seasoning. Instead, try ordering a new-to-you chicken dish, such as chicken tikka masala dish with mild spice to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the abundant flavors you’ll soon experience. And even when you find you don’t particularly love a new food, don’t give up. There are so many out there yet to discover!
Third, make the SWAP. Spend some time going through your pantry and kitchen refrigerator. Pull any foods that you know do not align with your healthy eating goals and find healthier versions to swap with. Do you tend to keep a lot of snack foods in your cupboard? Maybe you have a lifetime supply of frozen pizzas and ice cream in the freezer. Or, maybe you just can’t stop collecting bags of leftovers from late night binge runs to the local fast food joint. Whatever it is that fills this space and limits your full healthy eating potential, get rid of it! Make the swap for healthier versions. Try making your own frozen fruit pops or keep Greek yogurt on hand in place of ice cream. Try dehydrating sliced veggies (or always have fresh fruits and veggies on hand) to replace potato chips and high-sodium crackers. And for the fast food leftovers, opt for healthier take out restaurants that offer ‘lite’ menus or healthier options- such as baked or grilled in place of fried. Or, share with a loved one when you do eat out so you can avoid leftovers all together. If your goal is to avoid fast food, work towards this slowly by setting realistic goals where, with time, you will no longer have these food cravings.
Healthier Holiday Traditions
Thanksgiving, a holiday synonymous with stuffing the turkey (and yourself) can make sticking to health goals difficult. Rest assured – it is possible to have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving without sacrificing fun or flavor. Let’s kick off the holiday season with a healthy start. Keep these small tips in mind this week and create new healthier holiday traditions.
Manage Portions – With a little planning, you can savor your Thanksgiving favorites and avoid going to bed ten pounds heavier. Depending on what time of the day you sit down for your big meal, eat a healthy breakfast and avoid snacking throughout the day. At meal time, survey the spread. Skip the items you don’t enjoy as much, while leaving room to indulge (moderately) in your favorites.
Healthy Alternatives – If you’re hosting, try cooking healthier options of your less healthy family favorites. For example, try roasting vegetables in oil instead of baking them in butter. Have you tried making mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes? Consider swapping half the potatoes for cauliflower – no one will notice the difference! Check out our Pinterest page for more healthy Thanksgiving meal ideas.
Get Moving – After a big meal, curling up on the couch can be tempting. Instead, get outside and do something active! Create a new tradition of a post-meal walk before dessert. You’ll feel better, we promise.
The leaves on the trees are changing, the morning air is crisp, and the days are getting a little shorter. There is no other season quite like fall to step back and take in all the beauty it has to offer. My favorite thing about the fall season, besides all the changing colors, are the variety of fresh produce still in season. From root vegetables like squashes and pumpkins to varieties of apples, here are some ways to take in all your nutrients this November.
From Honeycrisp to Gala or Jonathan and even Granny Smith, apples are everywhere this time of year. Most of the time we see them covered in sugar like the Halloween staple, caramel apples. However, apples are incredibly sweet on their own and don’t need added sugar to bring out their sweetness. Try slicing them and baking them in the oven with some cinnamon for an afternoon snack. If your craving dessert, look no further than a healthier apple crisp. Made with less sugar and oats for added fiber, it’s a great treat to not feel guilty about.
TRY IT! Baked Apple Crisp
Nothing says fall more than pumpkins. It’s a fall pastime to take the whole family out to pick their very own pumpkin and carve their own unique faces. Instead of letting them go to waste, try using them in dishes for some extra vitamin C to help ward off the inevitable winter cold. Pumpkin seeds can be easily roasted with some fresh herbs as a great snack and pumpkins can be boiled down easily. Once boiled, all you need is to puree them and you have a great dinner to warm up with.
TRY IT! Pumpkin Soup
Although beets have gotten a bad rap in the past, if cooked properly they can add a beautiful rich color to any dish. Beets seem to be trending this season and they are popping up in many unique ways. Roasted beets are the easiest way to work with them. They pair well roasted in salads with some fresh goat cheese and even as a side dish in a sweet potato hash. Looking for a salty snack? Try slicing the beets real thin and baking them with a small bit of seasoning. They will be a great treat and will make you question those other boring, unhealthy snack choices you have been making.
TRY IT! Beet Chips
When thinking about a staple fall vegetables, carrots are almost always on hand in your kitchen. They go well in stocks and soups, can be pureed in a soup, or even added to salads for a pop of color. Carrots are a very versatile vegetable and although most people tend to eat them raw, roasted carrots can be just as tasty. If cut into sticks, you can bake them into a new take on a french fry. They are perfectly crispy, just what any dish needs to be complete.
TRY IT! Carrot Wedges
Birthday parties, tailgating, dinners with friends, holidays, work parties, weddings… All of these fun events have two things in common… people and food. Most social gatherings revolve around food and often the food choices offered are not the healthiest. So, how do you attend social events while sticking to your healthy lifestyle?
1 | Eat before you go
Plan to have a full, nutritious meal prior to attending a social gathering. Since your tummy is already satisfied, you will find that you won’t be as tempted to overindulge in unhealthy treats.
2 | Bring your own healthy dish
For any pot luck type event, bring a healthy dish to contribute so you know you will have at least one healthy option to choose from.
3 | Finger foods don’t = small portions
When nibbling on the small appetizers at parties you might think you are watching your portions but even just a couple pieces of a “bite size” appetizer can add up to a full portion so stick to just one or tow of each snack.
4 | Keep it balanced
Remember to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and start by eating the healthier options first.
5 | Drink lots of water
Water should be available at all social gatherings. Have a full glass of water before you even dish up. Sometimes your body can mistake thirst for hunger. After drinking a full glass of water you are often less likely to over-serve yourself.
6 | Keep healthy, portable foods on hand
Keep healthy, on-the-go foods like nuts and protein bars in your car or purse so you can snack on these before going to a social gathering where you know there may be tempting foods.
7 | Check out the menu in advance
When you are going out to eat, make sure to check out the online menu in advance so you can pick out a healthy option. When you arrive at the restaurant try not to open up the menu so you are not tempted to change your mind.
8 | Drink in moderation
Along with food, social situations also commonly revolve around alcohol. Try to drink in moderation by limiting yourself to one to two alcoholic drinks an evening.
9| Hidden alcoholic calories
When alcohol is available, be aware of the calories in the drinks you’re choosing. Beverages mixed with creamy and sugary mixers can have upwards of 400+ calories. For example, eggnog can run you 300-400 calories a glass.
1 | Wrap it up
Choose a wheat tortilla over flour or skip the tortilla all together and have a burrito bowl!
2 | Pick your protein
Chicken or steak is usually your best bet! Many burrito joints now have vegetarian options like sofritas as well.
3 | Choose your carbohydrate
Opt for brown rice over white rice for more nutritional benefits.
4 | Beans, beans the wonderful… fruit?
Black beans tend to be slightly lower in sodium than pinto beans.
5 | Don’t forget the veggies!
Add some fajita veggies, lettuce and pico de gallo.
6 | Some fat can be healthy
Skip the sour cream, cheese and queso and opt for guacamole instead. By making this swap you will get less saturated fat and more of the good, unsaturated fat!
7| Top it off
Top the burrito with your favorite salsa for an extra dose of vegetables.
8 | Split it!
Although it might be hard, cut your burrito in half and split it with a friend or save the other half for your next meal. With such large portions, one burrito at the popular burrito joints can be well over 2,000 calories even when picking the healthy options so your body should be satisfied with just half.
August 29th is more herbs, less salt day. This day helps us to realize that there are other ways to make food flavorful without loading it with salt and salt additives. Less than a tenth of Americans consume the right amount of sodium in a day. Processed food accounts for our high salt intake and many of us add more salt in the cooking process. Swap the salt shaker and try these fresh herbs for a new, healthier flavor profile.
Nothing beats the smell of fresh basil especially fresh from the garden. This herb is one of the easier ones to grow in a garden as well. You can pluck the leaves as they are ready and put them directly on top of dishes for a finishing touch. It has a peppery, minty taste with a touch of sweetness. You can also try making your own fresh basil pesto to use as a sauce for many dishes or to just have on hand.
Garlic is an anti-inflammatory herb that makes food smell and taste delicious. Adding a bit of onion and fresh garlic to a meal gives it the savory taste similar to salt. Try lightly sautéing the garlic to add to hot dishes or mincing it up to add into marinades for meat.
Although some people have a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap, it is a widely used fresh herb in many Mexican dishes. Cilantro can have citrusy notes and it is best chopped up fresh and thrown right into the dish or used as topping. Try it as your next taco topping instead of using your regular taco seasoning.
Chives tend to look like blades of grass with little bulbs at the end. They are less potent than regular onions but still give the dish a fresh oniony taste. They are also great as a garnish and are good baked into dishes such as baked egg casseroles. You can also get dried chives that last a little longer in the pantry with a similar taste.
Many fad diets and outdated studies have suggested that all calories are created equal and that in order to manage weight loss, counting calories is the simple solution to the problem. What this equation has failed to include is that not all calories are actually treated equally in the body. In fact, depending on the macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and protein), and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber) in a given food, the body will actually digest at different rates. This ultimately will determine how much work the body has to exert to digest the food, as well as, how long food is stored in the body and will ultimately be converted into fat for storage.
While it’s true that all calories do have the same amount of energy (think: fuel), the complex nature of the body’s processes do not see it this simply. Rather, it is important to know that different foods will actually undergo different biochemical pathways to use these calories efficiently. Even the smallest of nutrients in a food impacts the body’s hormonal and brain centers, where the body’s digestive and metabolizing roadmaps are housed.
Here are some ways to use calories to your advantage:
Focus on Fiber
Fiber not only helps to bind to toxins stored in your digestive tract and flush them from your system, but it also helps to slow down the digestion and absorption of other foods such as refined sugars, which are quickly absorbed into the blood stream and in excess amounts, contribute to fat storage and weight gain. While many of us assume that drinking a cup of apple juice has the same benefit as eating a whole apple, this isn’t necessarily true. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have compared the two and note that, “as a food changes form, its fiber content may change, too,” noting how a whole apple has about 4 grams of fiber, compared to the more refined apple juice with only about 2 grams of fiber. Their recommendation: “Enjoy the health benefits of applesauce and apple juice but for the most fiber, go straight to the source—the entire apple!”
Don’t Fear the Fats
Generations ago, the health industry raved about how low-fat/no-fat diets are the key to losing weight, preventing heart disease, and mitigating a whole host of health conditions. The problem with this, we soon learned, is that our bodies actually need certain fats and that this tasty ingredient isn’t necessarily the sole reason for our expanding waistlines or ailing hearts! You likely hear facts about how some fats are healthful and others, detrimental. Did you know that fats also play another role in our health? They slow digestion and the absorption of high-calorie foods, especially those that are nourishing—polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acid-containing. Some of these fats include those found in nuts, seeds, fish, avocado, coconut, and even lean meats. Consumed moderately, these fatty foods provide protective and inflammatory modulating factors. So when we look to compare fatty foods and how they help or harm our health, aim for moderate amounts from those abundantly nourishing foods listed above!
Serving Sizes—Sized Up
When you fill up on processed and unhealthier food choices, you might notice that you often struggle to feel satisfied. Maybe you even overeat in order to attempt to reach that point of satiation in your meal, but instead end up overeating because of this failed attempt! Caught in this struggle is something that many folks face even in a daily basis. The best way to overcome this struggle and to avoid overeating is to instead, fill up your servings with nutrient-dense foods. This means, opt for foods that are abundant in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, high-quality protein, and fiber. Without a doubt, you’ll feel full sooner and satisfied for longer! To show the impact of poor versus good food choices, take a look at the example below. Notice how an evening at a local pizza joint can quickly leave you with excessive amounts of calories, fats, and processed carbohydrates, without sufficient fiber and a notable lack of the vitamins and minerals your body yearns for. On the other hand, see the second option, whereby you can actually see MORE options included in the meal, but with substantially LESS calories and fat, with more fiber and variety. Let this be a reminder at the impact that processed and high-calorie foods can have on you the next time you opt for dining out—or in!
2 slices of pizza (pepperoni with cheese); 6 hot chicken wings; 1 large Coca-Cola (12 oz)
|Calories||Fat (g)||Protein (g)||Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)|
1 turkey wrap (lettuce, mustard, tomato); baked butternut squash (1 cup) (sprinkled with olive oil, paprika and parmesan cheese); fresh fruit salad (1/2 cup) with Greek yogurt (1/2 cup- plain; low-fat); 1 large unsweetened sparkling water with lime
|Calories||Fat (g)||Protein (g)||Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)|
|Fresh Fruit Salad||98||0||1||24||1|
The Bottom Line
Are all calories the same? Simply put, yes AND no. They do have the same energy when it comes to fueling your body, regardless of how these are consumed. Weight is gained through consuming excess calories, yes, but the WAY your body utilizes these calories varies. This is based on the amount of high-quality macro- and micronutrients in the food itself. Focusing on healthful fats and fiber plays a key role in slowing the digestion and provides lower calorie options in place of over processed food products that often wreck havoc when over-consumed.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Apples or Apple Juice. Retrieve August 12, 2016. Accessed from: http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/apples-or-apple-juice
When the Fourth of July holiday comes to mind – a backyard grill-out with hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips and your favorite childhood dessert might be what most people picture. The Fourth of July doesn’t get a very good reputation for being a health conscious holiday but you don’t have to fall into this stigma. Start a new tradition and make this Fourth of July healthier with these tips!
- If you love the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs for the holiday, be conscious of what meat you pick. Choose a lean hamburger meat (10% or less fat) and hot dogs or brats with 100% real meat. If you read the ingredient list and are unsure what some of the ingredients are, chances are it is processed. Or, swap out the traditional beef burgers and pork hot dogs for turkey or chicken burgers and dogs, which are naturally leaner meats.
- Marinade, marinade, marinade! Marinating gives flavor to lean cuts of meat without adding more fat. Choose healthier marinating options that are low in sodium or experiment making your own with vinegars or fresh citrus juices like lemons, limes and oranges.
- Pick whole wheat or multigrain buns. Or, skip the buns all together and make kebabs alternating pieces of onion, peppers and your choice of lean meat on a stick.
- Add fruits and vegetables to the grill to get more antioxidants out of your typical barbeque meal. Try grilling zucchini, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, pears and pineapple to add some unique and healthy flavors to your plain old burgers.
- Have healthy side dishes! A fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries and bananas makes for a patriotic dish and swap the chips and dip for veggies and hummus.
- A fruit, yogurt and granola parfait or fresh fruit popsicles are festive and healthy desert alternatives.
- Last but not least, BE ACTIVE! If you’re hosting a backyard BBQ make sure to have some yard games or fun competitions setup for your guests.