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Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

5:10 pm - Posted by Gregg

Although St. Patrick’s Day isn’t necessarily the toughest holiday to navigate, healthy-eating and -living wise, I still (along with my pooch, Latte) wanted to take a moment to wish you lots of luck today (and everyday).

Should you be yearning for a little green beer today, you can try making your own (perhaps even with light or non-alcoholic beer) with these simple instructions for making green beer.

And for some healthier takes on some favorite St. Patrick’s Day meals and foods, check out these Healthy St. Patrick’s Day Recipes and Menus (featuring better-for-you recipe makeovers for Irish Lamb Stew, Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread, Mini Shepherd’s Pies and more.

And if you do decide to treat yourself today, do it with a grateful heart and open mind. Remember that one meal won’t hurt our health – especially if we combine it with healthier choices for other meals on the same day and mix in a little exercise (or a brisk walk) before or after said meal.

Oh, and you might want to wear a little green today to avoid being pinched!

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12:54 pm - Posted by Gregg

Nutrition rockstar Joy Bauer (seen regularly on NBC’s TODAY show) has a brand new book called From Junk Food to Joy Food, which is chock full of recipe makeovers that takes everyday favorites (each loaded with calories, salt, etc.) and swaps them out for brand new, healthier recipes — each of which guarantees the same amount of flavor and satisfaction (but without the food hangover).

From Junk Food to Joy Food (which also happens to feature gorgeous food photography) is based on Joy’s popular ongoing series on NBC’s TODAY show, which transforms fattening favorites — including Barbecue Ribs, Vegetable Lo Mein, Boston Cream Pie, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chocolate Crunch Bars, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and even Devil Dogs — into lightened-up versions that even those trying to lose excess weight can enjoy any time. Says Joy, herself, “People who are tired of restrictive eating plans, juice fasts, and other programs that forbid favorite fare will love this new way of eating.”

Joy has always been someone who inspires me. And lucky for us Just Stoppers, she’s allowed me to feature one of the delicious recipes from her book here. This Apple Cobbler Oatmeal makes for the perfect weekday breakfast — or even a fun brunch idea for friends and family on the weekends. And we don’t have to “go off” of our diets or healthy eating plans to make and enjoy it. Joy also uses all natural ingredients in the recipe, which is a big plus.

JOY BAUER’S APPLE COBBLER OATMEAL
Junk Food version (before): 420 calories
Joy Food version (after): 246 calories

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons whipped butter
1 apple, finely chopped with the skin on
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ¾ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Add the butter to a skillet and place over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped apple and cinnamon. Stir to combine and sauté until they are just cooked but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the oats and almond milk in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the oatmeal reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the vanilla.  Split the oatmeal between 2 bowls and top each with half of the apple-cinnamon mixture. (Makes 2 servings.)

To check out Joy’s latest book, From Junk Food to Joy Food, you can click here.

Photo Source: Joy Bauer

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10:08 am - Posted by Gregg

A brand new week is upon us. And for those of us with a dieter’s mentality, that often means it’s time to continue with and/or recommit to your dieting and healthy eating efforts. But what’s your take on this decision? Do you dread days like this? Do you long for a life without rice cakes? Are you angry that you can’t begin your day with a Triple-Super-Duper-High-Sugar-Latte? Are you starting your week with a mental spanking? Or do you realize what a wonderful gift you’re giving yourself by choosing (key word) to eat, live and be healthier?

Fact of the matter is that dieting does not have to equal torture. And yet often, many of us have gotten used to approaching our need to shed some excess weight with a “The glass is half empty” attitude – almost as if we’re being punished. Or, worse yet, like we deserve to be punished.

Well, let me be the first to tell you that this kind of “I’m a loser” attitude does not actually help you to be a loser. In fact, the opposite attitude offers you and your weight loss goals a greater chance of success. And the good news is that this doesn’t have to require repeated trips to a therapist and/or a shock therapy lab. You can simply decide – right at this very moment – to flip your mental switch and see your glass as half full (even if it is half full of skim milk instead of a milk shake).

Again, the key word here is CHOICE. Try keeping this word in the forefront of your mind today and, perhaps, every day this week – even if you have to write the word on a post it note and put it on your bathroom mirror, computer, dashboard (or whatever) to do so.

You are choosing to get healthier.

You are choosing to fit into jeans with a smaller waist.

You are choosing to exercise so that you can be healthy enough to walk across the room or even run a marathon without risking a medical malady.

You are choosing to show the world that you are in control.

And it’s going to be a lot tougher to reach these amazing and worthwhile goals if you’re down on yourself or see your plight as one filled with angst, torture and depression.

If you loathe rice cakes (or whatever kind of food), don’t include them in your eating plan. And if you’re craving carbs, then find a balanced (and healthy) eating program that allows for whole grains and other foods from all 4 food groups. You are in control here. And you don’t have to punish or deprive yourself to reach your goals. Check out some of the delicious and healthy recipes under the Food Section of this blog – and other blogs/foodie sites.

Dieting doesn’t have to be about ‘lack.’ It doesn’t have to be about ‘can’t.’ Instead, it can be about ‘This tastes good and I feel good – and this journey to better health that I’ve chosen is worth it.’ Why? Because you’re worth it.

Take it from someone who used to weigh over 450 pounds – and now weighs around 175 pounds (and has stayed at that weight for over a decade). I loved food then. I love food now. And yes, even I am constantly having to recommit to my overall goals of healthy eating and maintaining a healthy weight. (Whose post it note do you think I took a picture of, above, anyway?) And guess what? I do it without rice cakes. And (mostly) without self-torture.

No more mental anguish, people. This healthier life is a choice. And the age old saying is true, ‘Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.’

So out with the old (tortured) attitude and in with the new (supermodel) one. And yes, that’s what you are. A supermodel. Right in this very moment. And you can tell anyone who questions your supermodel-dom, that I said you’re one – and I mean it.

Again, you are in control. And you are amazing. So let’s all have a kick-ass week together, shall we?

Photo Source: My Without Clothes Shopping

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August 31, 2015

Watermelon 101

12:58 pm - Posted by Gregg

When it comes to eating “cleaner” and “fresher” foods, it’s no secret — doing so usually means re-training your taste buds. There are so many additives, food substitutes and chemicals in over-processed junk food that often when we start a healthier eating regime, so-called ‘healthy’ foods taste like cardboard.

In my first book, I write about giving taste buds a couple days (or more) to adjust to the new way of eating – while assuring readers that eventually the healthier food will taste better. And yes, this means the unhealthier foods will begin to taste worse. In fact, I can tell when food is overly processed with too many additives, too much salt or (heaven forbid) has trans fats as an ingredient. It’s not a matter of not eating this junk to avoid going back to weighing over 450 pounds – I simply hate the way these foods taste and hate how I would feel (lethargic, nauseas, physically ill) if I still consumed them.

Thankfully, nature has some goodies of its own that can rival even the sweetest cakes or frozen treats. And one of these bounties is good ol’ watermelon. When fresh, crisp and sweet, I find it as enjoyable as a bowl of ice cream. And yes, I still enjoy naturally made ice cream or frozen yogurt from time to time. But I balance those treats out with fresh fruit. And during this time of year (just before the winter months hit), I do my best to enjoy watermelon for all it’s worth.

Studies have revealed that besides being delicious, watermelon delivers several health benefits, including being an excellent source of Vitamin C as well as a good source of Vitamins A and B6. It also contains the carotenoid antioxidant lycopene, which can help neutralize free radicals and help prevent prostate cancer. Watermelon has been shown to reduce the risk of other types of cancers as well. Plus, its high water content makes it great for hydration. What’s more, it’s a terrific dessert or snack for kids and can help them understand that not every ‘treat’ has to come covered in fudge.

When selecting watermelon, I always go for seedless. I’m not a happy camper if I must interrupt my chewing with spitting seeds into a nearby napkin (even though I suppose it burns a few more calories).

According to produce specialists, Mid-June through mid-August is when watermelon is at its ripest (with July being the most prized month of all). Good watermelon can still be found even now. But its time is growing nigh. Even if imported from warmer climates during the winter, it’s likely not as delicious as the fruit the summertime month’s offer. So let’s go watermelon shopping, shall we?

When picking a whole watermelon, size matters since 80% of a watermelon is water. Pick one of the largest you can find, while making sure the exterior doesn’t have any visible cuts, bruising, dents or soft spots. Experts also suggest looking for a yellowish area on the melon’s exterior, which indicates its ripeness after sitting in the sun.

Next, do what you’ve likely seen other shoppers do – knock-knock on the exterior with your knuckle. You’re listening for a slight echo to your knock, which indicates that the fruit is ripe. A dull thud could indicate otherwise.

When preparing watermelon for guests, or myself, I make sure to make the eating experience as relaxed and “special” as possible – therefore I don’t usually serve it in wedges. Giving food a more delectable presentation is something I strive for almost every time I eat. This helps my brain, eyes and other senses know that I’m eating, which helps ‘up’ the enjoyment factor – and, therefore, the satisfaction and fullness factors.

I suggest slicing watermelon into quarters, length wise, then taking a quarter and carefully running a knife along the red center’s outer edge and the whiteness of the rind. Cut all the way around on both sides, so that the whole quarter of the red stuff could slip out. But don’t slip it out just yet. Next, cut the fruit from side to side, on both exposed sides of the quarter. Finally, cut across your long slices, from left to right, leaving about 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch between each slice.

Next, slide your perfectly prepared chunks into serving bowls. But before you serve the fruit, put the bowls into the freezer for 5-10 minutes to give the fruit an extra kick of crispiness.

When time to serve, pull the bowls from the freezer and serve with a napkin underneath (to keep the bowl from being too chilly to the touch). The watermelon chunks should have a minimal layer of frost that kicks up the flavor and the crunchy quotient, making for a texture-y, sweet and delicious eating experience. (Careful not to keep the chunks in the freezer too long or the pieces will freeze and require a little defrosting before being comfortably edible).

Saving the uneaten portion of the watermelon can be handled two ways – either by “chunking up” the remaining portion and putting it into airtight containers and storing in the fridge; or wrapping up the other half or quarters (rind and all) in cellophane wrap and then wrapping them in an additional plastic bag before putting into the fridge (to avoid having to clean up leaked watermelon juice at a later time). Plan on consuming the leftover fruit sooner rather than later to enjoy it at its freshest.

Watermelon. It’s not just for summer picnics anymore.

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January 29, 2015

Mourning cereal

10:49 am - Posted by Gregg

Believe it or not, way back when when I was tipping the scales at 450+-pounds, I would go through a box of cereal in 2-3 days. My “trick” for accomplishing such a feat was to nibble as much cereal as I was pouring into the bowl. Had I bothered to check the suggested serving size, I would have seen that I was eating for 4. Of course, my 60-inch waist sort of made that clear already. Needless to say, I wasn’t paying attention.

To this day, I crave and love breakfast cereal. To the point of obsession. Because of this, there have been times that I’ve considered cutting it out of my diet altogether. But with a bunch of healthy cereal options available today along with the fact that cereal is a fast, convenient and delicious way to have breakfast (one of the most important meals of the day – whether on or off a diet), cereal is something I wanted to learn to live with.

But even when preparing cereal today (at 175-pounds), I still feel the urge to pour cereal into the bowl while also having a ‘cereal appetizer’ while standing at the counter. If I didn’t regulate myself, I could easily go through a third of a box of cereal or more. That’s why I never trust myself to pour cereal freely. Instead, I pour it into a measuring cup before I pour it into my breakfast bowl and add my sliced banana. And for what it’s worth, I measure the 2% milk I use, as well.

This might come as a surprise to some of you reading this. Most people assume that because I’ve kept my 250 pounds of excess weight off for over a decade, that I’ve got this weight thing beat. That’s true in some respects. But part of what keeps the excess weight off is knowing that I’ll never really have it beat and that I can never let my guard down. My daily food intake is something I’m always thinking about, planning for and paying attention to. Not in a mentally unhealthy way, but in a efficient way. Or weigh, as the case may be.

Whenever I reveal to fellow dieters that I must still pay attention to and even sometimes measure my food portions, they often register disappointment – as if they thought that once you take the weight off, you magically never have to think about dieting again. But in truth, this ‘food and health consciousness’ must become a part of ourselves that we never leave behind (even during those times when we decide it’s okay to have ice cream – or whatever – as a treat).

This need to ‘stay on top of what and how much I eat’ is reiterated almost daily for me – usually when I’m preparing breakfast and pouring breakfast cereal. I know that I can’t be trusted. So even though I’ve been “thin” for years and happily fit into my skinny jeans, I still get the measuring cup out and measure the exact amount of cereal necessary for a healthy and low calorie breakfast. It could be argued that, by now, I should know what a ‘cup’ holds. But when it comes to cereal and other ‘tempting foods,’ I know that my mind’s version of a cup full and real life’s version of a cup full are two very different things.

In other words: When it comes to cereal, the measuring cup is my friend.

But none of this has to be bad news. No matter what your most tempting foods are, you can still have them – in moderation and in healthy portions. And with tools like measuring cups, we can ‘eat like a thin person’ and not overdo it to the point of triggering a binge, stuffing ourselves to the point of discomfort or making our skinny clothes feel too tight.

What are your tempting foods? Do you still allow yourself to have them even if on some sort of weight loss program? Or do you try and avoid the foods for the time being? I’d love to hear from you on this topic. We can even discuss over a bowl of cereal. Assuming you’ve got a measuring cup I can borrow.

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