SaladDid you know that the Bruschetta Chicken salad at Applebee’s has more calories than a sizzling steak and cheese? The salad has an unbelievable 1110 calories and the steak and cheese “only” 1000 calories.  To avoid adding loads of unwanted calories on a seemingly innocent salad, make your own by following  these simple guidelines.

1. Start with a variety of leafy greens.  Move beyond iceberg lettuce and try different types of greens, such as spinach, arugula, endive or Boston lettuce, to name just a few.  Three cups of lettuce has only 40 calories, so don’t be afraid to load up. Make it easy on yourself and buy the “triple washed” bagged salad varieties, this will save you time by eliminating the washing, drying and storing of greens.

2. Add some lean protein.  This is the part most people forget to do, but it’s the most important part because it turns a side salad into a satisfying meal.  Choose grilled chicken or turkey breast (without skin), boiled eggs, tuna fish, sliced sauteed tempeh, garbanzo, canellini or any other type beans.

3. Give it some crunch.  Instead of the oil drenched croutons try a tablespoon of nuts.  Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds contain heart healthy fats, vitamin E, manganese and many other minerals and vitamins. Studies show that adding moderate amounts of nuts into your diet lowers your risk of heart disease.

4. Add unlimited non-starchy vegetables for variety. Additional toppings such as roasted bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, asparagus will boost the nutrition of your salad without adding a lot of calories.

5. Choose your Salad dressing wisely.  You’ve done well up until now, don’t let the dressing be your downfall.  Just two tablespoons of full-fat salad dressing can have 150 calories. That is more calories than 9 cups of leafy greens.  You can either use a squeeze of lemon, a spray salad dressing (which only has about 10 calories  per 10 sprays) or choose one of my favorites below:

 My picks contain only a few ingredients, are all natural with no artificial colors or flavorings.  They are less than 100 calories, less than 300 mg sodium and less than 10 g fat, per 2 Tbsp serving.

  • Annie’s Organic Buttermilk dressing (2 Tbsp: 70 cals, 6g fat, 250mg sodium) Gluten free.
  • Annie’s Lite Goddess Dressing (2Tbsp: 60 cals, 6g fat, 240mg sodium) Vegan and Gluten free.
  • Brianna’s Lively Lemon Tarragon (2Tbsp: 35 cals, 0 fat, 150mg sodium) Also great as a marinade on seafood.
  • Bragg Ginger and Sesame dressing (2 Tbsp: 90 cals, 9g fat, 170mg sodium) Gluten free.


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Nutrition Label

Eating cereal for breakfast can be a quick and healthy way to help you lose weight or maintain your weight loss; but only if you choose the right cereal! Studies show that breakfast eaters are leaner than those who do not, and are more successful at loosing weight (National Weight Control Registry).

But with the huge number of breakfast choices available, choosing the right breakfast cereal can be a challenge.  Learn how to make the best choice by reading the Nutrition Facts Label.

Here’s how:

1. First, look at the “ingredients” list, located at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts panel.  Ingredients are listed in order from largest to smallest amounts. Whole grain should be listed as the first ingredient.  Avoid cereals that have sugar listed as a first or second ingredient, and avoid those made with artificial coloring.

2. Next, check the serving size and number of servings at the top of the label. All the information on a Nutrition Facts label is based on one serving, but beware, this can vary from ½ cup to one cup for different cereals.

3. Then, look at the calorie amount.  This is the amount of calories per serving. When you compare calories between different cereals, make sure the serving sizes are the same.

4. Percent Daily Value (% DV) can help you determine if a food is high or low in a nutrient.
5% or less means a food is LOW in this nutrient
10-19% is a GOOD source of a nutrient
20% or more means a food is HIGH in this nutrient

5. Limit total fats, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium. Choose cereals with less than 3 g of fat and zero trans and saturated fats. Sodium should be less than 210 mg per serving, ideally even less than 140mg.

6. Next, check Total Carbohydrates. Dietary fiber and sugar are types of carbohydrates.  Choose cereals with at least 3 g of fiber per serving (more is better) and less than 8 g of sugar per serving.

Examples of some good choices are (listed in no particular order):

Post Shredded Wheat Original


Kellogg’s Unfrosted Mini Wheats

Kashi Go Lean

Prepare with skim milk or unsweetened soy milk and some fruit, and you have a winning meal.

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Think outside the box this 4th of July and instead of having the same ole’ coleslaw or potato salad, experiment with your favorite vegetables.  Grilling brings out the natural sugars of vegetables which causes them to caramelize and add a sweet and smoky flavor.

Which vegetables are great for the grill?
The possibilities are endless.  I’m listing a few of my favorites to help you get started.

Summer Squash- cut lengthwise
Mushrooms-leave whole
Eggplant-cut into rounds
Endives-halve lengthwise through core
Fennel-cut thin slices
Onions- cut into slices
Peppers (red, green, yellow or orange)- halve lengthwise remove insides and cut into thirds
Scallions- leave whole

What about fruit?
Grilling fruit makes a great dessert.  Serve with a dollop of low-fat ice cream or honey sweetened Greek yogurt and you will never look at fruit the same way again. Here are some fruits that are great on the grill:
Pineapple- cut into rings
Banana- you can grill with skin or peel and cut lengthwise into planks
Peaches-cut in half and remove pit
Nectarines-cut in half and remove pit

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A healthy snack can be a great way to stave off hunger during an afternoon slump or provide needed energy before a workout.  Make sure you always include protein in your snack, it will help you feel full for longer without ruining your waistline.

Here are my top eight snacks:

1. Single serve Nonfat Greek yogurt (6 oz) with 1/4  a cup of berries and a teaspoon of agave nectar.

2. Two whole grain rice cakes with half a teaspoon of Peanut Butter and low sugar jam.

3. Single-serve low fat cottage cheese (4 oz) with a small apple.

4. Dry roasted Edamame, 1/4 cup or 3/4 cup shelled Edamame.

5. Two Part-skim mozzarella sticks.

6. One boiled egg with two slices of crisp bread such as Ryvita or Wasa bread, for a nice crunch. 

7. Fresh fruit with a handful of almonds (or other nuts).

8. Mix of dried fruit and nuts, 1/4 cup.

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What’s Valentine’s Day without chocolate?! Thank goodness it’s also good for you.  This delicious treat is packed with flavonoids, which have been shown to reduce your risk for heart disease.   But be aware, this does not apply to any ole’ chocolate.  Make sure you buy good quality dark chocolate, which contains the most antioxidants.

Here some easy treats for you and your Valentine’s:

1. Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds:  One serving has about 210 calories.  It’s so chocolaty rich that one serving can satisfy even the most chocoholic’s sweet tooth. Almonds have heart healthy poly and mono-unsaturated fats and they are high in vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.  One serving of almonds provides 6 g protein and 4 g fiber.  Trader Joe’s sells Dark Belgian Chocolate Covered Almonds among some other awesome varieties.

2. Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas with Roasted Almonds: This recipe is not only delicious but it’s great to make with your kids.  When you freeze a banana, it’s like making banana ice cream.  One serving has about 160 calories, plus you are getting a serving of fruit.  Bananas are high in Vitamin C, potassium and fiber. For recipe click HERE.

3. Mock Chocolate Mousse:  This delicious creamy treat has only 265 calories.  The secret is that it’s made with tofu.  Tofu is a great source of plant based protein, it’s high in calcium, potassium and phytoestrogens.  Some preliminary studies show that soy products may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels.   Compare this recipe to Applebee’s Chocolate Mousse Shooter which has 460 calories, 32 g fat and 18 g saturated fat! Click HERE for the lighter treat.

4. Hot Chocolate Spiked with Rum: What better way to end the day than with a warm cup of hot chocolate.  One cup has about 250 calories, it’s packed with protein and calcium without the saturated fat. The rum helps you forget that this is actually low-cal. Heat one cup of skim milk with a cinnamon stick on the stovetop.  Add 2-3 Tbsp of cocoa powder into mug.  Add agave and a little bit of the milk.  Stir until combined. Add mixture to milk and stir.  Lastly, add about an ounce of rum and serve in a big cozy mug. 

5. Chocolate Truffle Tart: It’s easy to make and tastes delicious.  One slice has only 298 calories.  Compare this to an Apple Bee’s Blue Ribbon Brownie which has a whooping 1310 calories! For chocolate truffle tart recipe click HERE

6. Chocolate Angel Food Cake:  You can find it at many grocery stores, such as Wegman’s or Whole Foods.  If you can’t find chocolate, go with the regular Angel Food cake and add some chocolate syrup and roasted walnuts on top.   Angel Food cake is naturally low in calories because it’s made with mainly egg whites. One slice has only 140 calories! You can also make your own, using a bake mix such as Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines.




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After thanksgiving, the Superbowl is the second highest food consumption day of the year.  Sports fans and foodies alike look forward to this day of food and fun.  Why not give your heart and waistline a time out and swap out some of the calorie-laden snacks with some lighter options? Score with these healthier options.

1. Popcorn: Popcorn is a whole grain, it’s high in fiber and polyphenols  which are antioxidants and low in calories.  Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop popcorn contains about 4 g fiber and has only 100 calories per 6 cups of popcorn.   Avoid the regular microwave popcorn versions which can have 3-4x as many calories as the lighter versions and often contain unhealthy trans fats.

2. Baked Tortilla Chips with tomato salsa:  Baked tortilla chips have less calories and 3x less fat than regular potato chips.  Guiltless Gourmet makes seven varieties of baked chips and have only 120 calories per ounce serving.  Or, better yet, save money and calories by making your own, click HERE to see how.  Serve with tomato salsa for an extra serving of veggies.

3. Baked whole wheat Pita Chips with hummusStacy’s Pita Chips have less calories than regular potato chips and half the fat.  Hummus is a great high protein addition to your chips, which will help you get full and feel fuller longer.

4. Pistachios in-shell: Pistachios are packed with antioxidants, phytosterols, vitamins, minerals and heart healthy fats.  Limit to one serving, which is one ounce or 49 kernels, which has about 170 calories.  Studies show that in-shell pistachios slows down your eating, not only because you have to peel them, but also because the peeled shells provide a visual cue about the amount you ate.

5. Peanuts in-shell: Peanuts are actually not a nut, but a legume.   These little gems are not only protein powerhouses, they are also high in nutrients and minerals.  They contain the same phytochemical found in wine, resveratol, which has been shown to be good for the heart. As with the pistachios, in-shell curbs your eating.

6. Edamame: Edamame are soybeans in a pod.  A half cup of Edamame have 10g of protein, 5 g of fiber and only 120 calories.  As an added bonus, they are easy to prepare.  Simply steam and serve with a squirt of lemon and sea salt.


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