Blog of the Week: The Picky Eater

Part of online fitness coaching is helping you find the resources you need to live a healthier life.  With that in mind I am going to feature a blog each week that can help you reach your fitness and nutrition goals.

My first featured blog is The Picky Eater.  I recently discovered this blog when I went looking for easy to make healthy meals and snacks. Anjali features something new almost every day.  She offers a step-by-step guide on how to make each delicious recipe and (my favorite) lots of pictures to give you an idea of what the food will look like when you make it.  I don’t know about you, but if a recipe doesn’t come with a picture, I usually don’t try it.  These pictures are gorgeous.  You will definitely want to try to make what you see.  Happy, healthy cooking and eating everyone!

Anjali Shah is a food writer and owner of The Picky Eater, a healthy food and lifestyle blog. Her blog chronicles her adventures in making healthy recipes that her “fast food loving husband” will enjoy – so all of her recipes are “husband approved”! You’ll also find healthy lifestyle tips, snippets of Anjali’s everyday life, and other personal anecdotes alongside healthy and flavorful recipes on her blog. More about Anjali: She is a traveler, adventurer, cooking-show addict, lover of veggies, self-taught chef, and a Bay Area native. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, or Google+.

Easy Healthy Appetizer

Here’s a healthy appetizer that your online fitness coach made recently for a get-together with friends.  It sure can relieve stress when you have something easy AND healthy to take  It only has about 80 calories per serving.  Thanks to Doug Garner for giving me the recipe.  It would go great with his Mr. G’s coffee!

1 package sliced fresh mozzarella cheese   

3 plum tomatoes

1 package fresh basil

balsamic vinegar

Drizzle some balsamic vinegar on a serving plate, arrange the cheese on the plate.  Slice plum tomatoes and arrange on the top of the cheese.  Chop fresh basil leaves and put on top of the tomatoes.  It’s that easy.

Food for Your Mood 15 Day Experiement

At the end of July, I did a lot of research for my “Food for Your Mood” post.  The research points to the fact that eating a healthier diet can improve your mood, alleviate depression and combat feeling like your butt is dragging all day.  So yesterday the lightbulb went off over my head.  Why not conduct a 15 day experiment on this fitness coach (me) and see if your mood is affected by what you eat?  Some days I do very well, some days not so much.  Let’s see if it makes a difference.  So through the magic of the internet and video, I will bring you the “Food for Your Mood” 15 day experiement starting tomorrow.  I will try to hold all other variables as constant as possible, but will include that in the report as well.  So get ready to watch your Ginea pig blog!

Nutrition for Stress and Anxiety

We all deal with stress in our lives and we all experience anxiety from time to time.  Did you ever stop and think about good nutrition for stress and anxiety?  Believe it or not, it does make a difference. Your mind and body are intricately connected.  What you consume can make a difference in your stress and anxiety level.

 When I started my first teaching job, I was super busy.  I stopped eating well and started reaching for what was handy (usually junk).  It didn’t take long for me to begin to feel stressed and anxious.  My self confidence plummeted and I didn’t know why.  As I look back now, poor nutrition was a big part of the problem

According to Rosehaven Cottage Kitchens, complex carbohydrates (like you find in whole wheat bread) will produce seratonin during the digestive process.  Those are the feel-good chemicals your brain uses to communicate.  Seratonin tells your brain to feel happy.  If your brain lacks it..not as happy.

Other nutrients your body needs to make you less anxious and stressed are things like vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid and vitamin D.  Highly processed “junk” foods lack these nutrients.

Eating foods high in these nutrients will help to lower your stress and anxiety level.  A nutritional supplement like Shakeology also contains complex carbs and most of the above vitamins and minerals you need to lower your stress and anxiety levels.

So the next time you are feeling stressed and anxious, think about what you have been putting into your body and make some positive changes!

Healthy Eating Choices on Vacation

Let’s face it, eating is one of the best parts of your get-a-way.

When you are on vacation, there are restaurants to visit and recipes to try, burgers to grill and desserts to sample.  You can still make healthy eating choices for you and your family even when you are vacationing.

Eating in:

  • Plan ahead, make a menu and grocery shop with the menu in mind.  Just like at home, you won’t be as tempted to buy junk.
  • You don’t need dessert every night.  Save it for a special occasion, like the night you reach your destination, or if a holiday falls while you’re away.
  • Dive into some locally grown produce.  Where we go, there are lots of roadside produce stands and farmer’s markets.  You may get to try something you have never tried and it’s a great way to meet the locals.
  • Pay attention to how your cook your food.  Broil rather than fry, steam your veggies instead of adding cheese and cream sauces.

Eating out:

  • Make your reservation for earlier or later than the crowd.  If you need to sit and wait a long time, you will be really hungry and overeat.  You can also take some healthy snacks along to enjoy while you wait.
  • Don’t drink your calories.  Order water.  If alcohol is a must stay away from the sugary drinks.
  • Think about the adjectives that describe the menu items.  Look for “grilled”, “broiled”, “steamed”,” “boiled”, “fresh”.  Avoid “battered”, “fried”, “smothered”, “melted” and the like.
  • Order a salad with fresh ingredients and a lighter dressing such as balsamic vinaigrette.  This will up your veggie consumption and help you eat less of the high calorie stuff.
  • Ask if you can order a lunch portion, or ask for a box when you start eating and put half of your meal in it while you eat the other half.  Now you just took care of lunch for tomorrow!

Enjoy your vacation and pack up the guilt by making healthy eating choices.

My Plate.gov is Full

My pyramid is gone and Michele Obama has ushered in my plate. It’s a simpler way to keep track of of your nutrition at each meal. It’s still color coded and it still says basically the same thing. It’s just repackaged. I think this version will be a lot easier to use and the visual may help with America’s portion distortion. When I took a look at it (myplate.gov) it seamed like all the blocks were pretty much the same size. The vegetable and grain plate wedges were a little larger than the protein and fruit plate wedges. The dairy is smaller and in the shape of a glass to the side of the plate. Note that half of your meal should be made up of fruits and vegetables.  Fats, oils and sweets are not part of the plate.  This means they should be used sparingly. Vegetables loaded up with butter and sauces are missing the point.  So are fruits covered in sugar and syrup.  Half of grains should be whole grains.  The white stuff alone won’t cut it.  Filling half your plate with french fried and ketchup and calling it veggies, well, you’re just fooling yourself.

The moral of the story is use the plate as a reference along with your common sense and it should help you to eat a more nutritios, more balanced meal.  Now who is going to make a million dollars manufacturing kid’s “My Plates” to sell to the public??

Fast Food and Fitness

My daughter had an interview at a fast food restaurant. The interviewer pointed out the store manager and regional manager during the process. Both were (if I were guessing) obese. I wondered if the company attracted overweight employees, or if employees became overweight while they worked for the company. The perverbial chicken (nugget) or the egg (breakfast sandwich). It started me thinking that these fast food establishments are missing a golden opportunity. Why not offer employees and managers a wellness/fitness program through the company? There would be numerous benefits, but the one that comes to my mind first is that it would be awesome advertising. What if you walked into your local fast food place and all the people behind the counter were fit and healthy looking? Wouldn’t that make you less afraid to eat more of the product? What if they could point you to the healthiest food choices because they were making those choices themselves? Maybe the big fast food restaurants should start thinking seriously about some quality wellness programs for their workers. It would be great advertising.

Healthy Recipe: Steak Salad

 

My family loves this steak salad in the summertime. It’s cool on a hot day and tastes delicious!

Ingredients:

Sirloin steak (about 3 ounces per person)

One bag of Dole hearts of romaine lettuce

One bag of Dole spring mix

One box cherry tomatoes

One container of feta cheese

Your favorite low fat or low calorie dressing. I like Kraft Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette

Directions:

Cook steak on grill to your desired doneness.  Cut into bitesize pieces and cover with foil. Toss lettuce, halve the cherry tomatoes and add to lettuce.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and toss.  Add the steak and toss again.  Dress with your favorite dressing.  Serves four.

Healthy Breakfast Foods. Eat Them!

Are you one of those people who skips breakfast?  Do you tell yourself it will help you lose weight?  Do you tell yourself you just don’t have time? Well, stop it already! You are doing the nutritional equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I’m sure you have heard that before, but maybe you just aren’t listening.  Your body has had no food (and no nutrients) all night.  You need to “break your fast” in the morning.  If you don’t, you are running on an empty tank.  Your blood sugar will be low, your brain won’t function properly and you will be mentally sluggish.

Now here comes midmorning and you are starving!  You will eat anything to cut the growling in your belly and you usually do.  That donut someone left in the staffroom, those Famous Amos Cookies in the vending machine or that high calorie breakfast burrito you ordered when someone ran around the corner to get coffee.  Now you have filled up on empty sugar and simple carbohydrate calories.  This fills your belly, but these are nutrient poor  foods.  Your body is still hungry because you didn’t feed it the fuel it needs.  You only gave it empty calories.  Gain you spell WEIGHT GAIN??

Here’s a better idea.  Eat a breakfast that includes complex carbs and protein.  This will give your body what it needs to power you through the morning.  You won’t be starving by 10 a.m.  If you are a little hungry, try some high protein light snacks like nuts or cheese to get you through until lunch.  You will now have the energy and mental clarity to work productively through your day.

Short on time?  Prepare a nutritious breakfast a night ahead.  Have the whole wheat toast and the peanut butter laid out on the counter.  Hard boil an egg you can eat with your whole grain cereal and skim milk.  That’s not going to add big blocks of time to your morning and think of the nutrition and health benefits.  If you want something quick and easy to fix that has lots of nutrients you need for you crazy day, check out Shakeology.  I drink this stuff every day and it only costs about $4.00 per meal.

Do You Know Your Nutritional Stats?

It’s a sad fact that only 9 percent of Americans know the number of calories and what nutrients they are supposed to eat in a day.  Most of us can’t even take an educated guess!  If we don’t know how many calories we need to eat in a day, we’re not even close to knowing what nutrients we need.  Your body is your vehicle and your food is your fuel.  If you put sugar water in your car’s gas tank what happens?  It won’t run.  If you put the wrong types of foods into your body what happens?  Your body can’t run efficiently. If you put too much fuel in your body, it can’t store it efficiently and you gain weight.

It’s time to educate yourself!  Here’s some sites to check out.  mypyramid.gov can help you figure it out.  Enter your height, weight, and activity level and this site will tell you how many calories you should be eating.  It will also give you a breakdown of what food groups your calories should be coming from.  I find this site overestimates the amount of calories I need. I’m pretty sure that if I ate the 2200 calories that My Pyramid says I should, I would gain weight.  I do better at about 1700 calories a day, but you have to remember, that the site does an estimate of average calories.

Another site I like to use is dailyburn.com. Daily Burn will calculate how many calories you should have similar to My Pyramid.  It goes a step further by asking you how much weight you want to lose (or gain depending upon your stats), and adjusts your daily calories accordingly.  Daily burn will also keep a running daily total of your calories and certain nutrients as you enter the foods you have eaten.

Both of these sites are FREE so now you have no excuses!  Figure out you nutritional stats.