The Countdown Continues…Week 2

Now that your pantry and cupboards are cleaned free of all things processed and otherwise unhealthy, it’s time to tackle….your fridge. The first line of defense in the battle of the bulge.

The refrigerator can be a trigger for mindless eating. Especially if the first thing you see is leftover pizza, Jell-O pudding cups and other nefarious items.

A well-stocked fridge is a healthy fridge. A healthy fridge is a healthy you.

Here are some tips:

Take Stock. Once per month, clean your fridge. Wipe it down with a disinfectant and assess “best by” labels.

Shop Wisely and Frequently. Americans waste over $10/week on food that has spoiled or gone bad. Plan meals each week and shop from a list. Think about your schedule. Don’t buy a cart full of fresh fruit and veggies if you know you’re going to be out 3-4 nights that week and won’t be making dinner.

Think Light. Much of what’s in our fridge is from the dairy case. When choosing items like milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, and yogurt choose light instead of fat free. Light versions taste similiar to their full fat cousins and can be substituted in recipes with little difference in taste. Condiments such as salad dressing and mayo are best done light as well.

Lower the Sodium. Dairy foods and cold cuts can be very high in sodium and combined with lunch at Chipotle can add up over the course of the day. Minimize sodium intake at home by choosing reduced sodium condiments and deli meats.

Hide the Desserts. Out of sight, out of mind. Avoid temptation and hide those high fat indulgences in tupperware or in the crisper drawer. Keep healthy snacks in plain sight like salsa or hummus for veggies, and vanilla yogurt for fruit.

Think Ahead. Adopt a habit of making one extra serving at dinner and get it prepped and ready to take for your lunch the next day. Don’t wait until the morning of to think about what’s for lunch.

Filter Water. Keep a water-filtered pitcher in your fridge at all times. Most people prefer the taste of filtered water over tap and filtering it yourself is far less expensive than buying bottled (and you can reduce your carbon footprint). For a little something extra, add a wedge of fresh lemon, lime, orange or other citrus, like pink grapefruit or tangerine.

Next week we’ll look at what you’re doing when you eat away from home when we uncover the secrets to eating out!

Enjoy your weekend and have a happy Easter!

Countdown to a Healthy Summer

It’s official. Summer is less than 12 weeks away. Are you ready for tank tops, bikinis and short skirts?

No? Then, let’s get started.

Welcome to the first installment of my Countdown to a Healthy Summer series.

Week 1: Spring Cleaning the Pantry

Start the week off right with a pantry raid. Get organized. Rid your pantry (and your life) of processed, low nutrient foods that are getting in the way of you getting healthy.

A well-stocked pantry is the secret to getting and staying healthy. Having everything you need on hand to whip up a quick and healthy meal is the goal for this week. Below are basic pantry staples that should be stocked in your kitchen at all times. These foods are the foundation for most of the healthy recipes you find in magazines and cookbooks.

Oils, Vinegars & Condiments
Oils: extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, cooking spray
Flaxseed oil
Toasted sesame oil
Vinegars: cider, red-wine, balsamic, rice
Dijon mustard
Organic Ketchup
Light mayonnaise
Reduced-sodium soy sauce
Prepared pesto
Salsa
Hot sauce
Sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)

Seasonings

Salt
Black pepper
Dried herbs and spices: ground cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper, rosemary, thyme leaves, oregano, Italian seasoning blend, tarragon leaves, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, lemon pepper
Vanilla extract

Canned Goods & Bottle Items
Canned tomatoes, (diced, whole, sauce, and tomato paste)
Marinara sauce
Reduced-sodium broths (chicken, beef, veggie)
Canned beans: cannellini, black, kidney, chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Canned lentils
Chunk light tuna in water (Tongol)
Canned salmon
Artichoke hearts in water
Roasted red peppers in water
Black olives
Capers
Mandarin oranges

Grains & Bread
Assorted sizes whole-wheat pasta
Precooked brown rice (Uncle Ben’s & Trader Joes)
Rice – Brown Basmati, wild, white long grain
Whole-wheat couscous
Regular and quick-cooking barley
Oats – Instant/quick cooking & old fashioned rolled
Plain breadcrumbs

Sweeteners & Baking
Whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, buckwheat flour
All-purpose white flour
Baking powder
Baking soda
Quick-rising yeast
Cornstarch
Dark and light brown sugar
Granulated sugar
Honey
Dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa, bittersweet)
100% real maple syrup

Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruit
Dry roasted, unsalted walnuts, pecans, almonds (can store in freezer)
Dried apricots, dates, cranberries, raisins
Peanut butter (natural)
Ground flaxseed (store in fridge)
Sesame seeds (can store in freezer)

In the Freezer
Unsweetened frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, sliced peaches)
Artichoke hearts
Broccoli
Corn and peas
Lima beans and succotash mixes
Pureed winter squash
Shelled edamame
Chopped Spinach
Large uncooked shrimp
Pre-portioned meats and fish (chicken breast, salmon, white fish)
Turkey meatballs and turkey burgers
Brown rice

NEXT WEEK, we’ll turn up the volume on refrigerated and fresh foods!

Beware of Whole Grain & Labeling


I regularly lead Lunch & Learn workshops for local businesses in the area. Last week, while waiting for my weight management workshop to begin, I was browsing through the offerings at the cafe located inside the building. Among the offerings in the cafe was a shelf housing various kinds of General Mills cereals. On the shelf next to the cereals was a marketing banner advertising these GM cereals to be a “great source of whole grains.” Intrigued, I took a closer look. Much to my horror, amongst the Cheerios and Raisin Bran were also Lucky Charms, Trix, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Was I missing something? When did Lucky Charms become a healthy cereal option? Do my clients think that Trix are a good source of whole grains? To clear up the confusion, let’s look at 1) what it actually means to call a grain “whole” 2) examples of whole grains and 3) the benefits of eating whole grains.

What are whole grains? Whole grains are considered “whole” because they contain all of the edible parts of a grain: the inner germ, the middle endosperm and the outer bran covering. This makes them rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and a multitude of disease-fighting substances. By contrast, refined grains have most of their germ and bran removed during processing, resulting in the depletion of most anything nutritious.

Examples of whole grains: whole wheat berries, whole wheat bulger, whole wheat couscous, kamut, spelt, brown rice (including quick cooking brown rice), corn, whole cornmeal, popcorn, oat groats, steel-cut oats, rolled oats (including quick cooking and instant oatmeal), whole rye, hulled barley (pot, scotch and pearled barley usually have most of their bran removed), triticale, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, and amaranth.

Why eat them? Whole grains contain more than just fiber. Eating whole-grain regularly can protect you from heart disease, lower your cholesterol, prevent certain cancers, reduce your risk of diabetes, promote digestive health and help you keep weight off.

What to look for? The best way to determine if a food is a good source of whole grain is not to look at the front of the box but to read the ingredients. The first ingredient will either be one that is stated above or it will say 100% whole wheat. You can also tell because whole grains are rich in fiber and protein and this will be reflected on the Nutrition Facts Panel (look for at least 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per serving). However, it is important to look at the other ingredients as well. It does not help you to consume whole grains that are full of saturated fat, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup and/or other sugars.

That being said, let’s look at the ingredients in our Lucky Charms:

Whole Grain Oats, Marshmallows (Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Calcium Carbonate, Yellows 5&6, Blue 1, Red 40, Artificial Flavor), Sugar, Oat Flour, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, added Vitamins and Minerals

Don’t be misled by label marketing, read ingredients and shop wisely!