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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It’s the holiday season! A season for cheer, joy, family… but also regret! Regret for helping yourself to an extra portion of

turkey, or cake, or ice-cream and the extra pounds associated with that. And this is exacerbated by the fact that it’s not just one holiday, it’s three! First Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s! This holiday season, plan ahead and get through the season without having to get out your stretch pants.  Here are 10 tips to help you get started.

1.    Weigh yourself once a week.  To stay consistent get on the scale before you had anything to eat or drink.

2.    Always start your day with a healthy breakfast.  Include a lean protein to help you stay full, such as a non-fat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or eggs.

3.    Don’s skip any meals.  Skipping meals does not save you on calories, it only increases your hunger later which makes you eat even more during the next meal.

4.    Start a food journal, or use an app, and keep track off EVERYTHING you eat AND drink.  Food diaries keep you accountable and can help you identify what’s keeping you from your weight loss goals.

5.    Exercise at least three times a week.  As busy as you may be, try to include some exercise into your day, even if it’s only 10-15 minutes of brisk walking, it matters!

6.    Don’t drink your calories, step away from sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas, juices and sweetened teas.  These calories can easily add up and studies have found that we don’t compensate for these calories by eating less.

7.    At holiday parties and get-togethers focus on the conversation not the food.  Try not to stand next to the snack or buffet table but instead mingle with people.

8.    Eat slowly and wait 20 minutes before going for seconds. It takes about this amount of time for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full.

9.    Drink alcohol in moderation- that is one drink for women and two for men.  And choose your drinks wisely.  A Margarita can have close to 800 calories.

10.     Try not to snack when cooking or in-between meals- these little bites can add up! If you are preparing the food, try to chew gum or snack on baby carrots or cucumber sticks.

Happy Holidays Everyone!


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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.

Corn
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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I was recently asked by Everyday Food Magazine to write about the “Tried and True” weight loss tips; no gimmicks, no fads, only the basics!   In other words, what really works when it comes to shedding pounds?  It seems like such a simple question, right? Yet with the weight loss industry being a billion dollar business and fad diets a never-ending trend, the answer seems elusive. But, as a professional nutritionist specializing in weight loss, I can say, with absolute certainty, that when it comes to long-term weight loss success, the basics are what matters. There are NO miracle diets, pills, surgeries, etc.  Losing weight is about building healthy habits and this takes time.

Here are my four back to basics weight loss tips, to help you reach your weight loss goals.

1.    Determine your reason for weight loss.  What is your reason for wanting to lose weight?  The more meaningful and important the reason, the more it will help you adhere to your weight loss goals. Do you want to live longer? Avoid type 2 diabetes or heart disease? Have fewer medical bills? Or do you want to keep up with your children or grandchildren? Whatever the reason, write it down and keep it with you at all times.  On those occasions when you are tempted to get second-servings or have that rich guilt-filled dessert, re-read your reasons.

2.    Decrease your portion sizes.  There are no short cuts; if you want to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories.  To help you do that, keep track of what you eat, whether it is with an App or pencil and paper. What’s important is that you keep a daily tally of what and how much you eat.  The more honest and accurate you are with your records, the more successful you will be in attaining your weight loss goals.  See available apps here.

3.    Exercise more.  Find an exercise you enjoy and make it a habit.  Studies show that people who exercise loose more weight and are more successful at maintaining their weight loss efforts than those who don’t exercise.  An added bonus is that exercise helps reduce blood pressure, improves insulin sensitivity, increases lean muscle mass, improves sleep and is a great stress reducer, to name just a few.  Everything counts; if you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, start with 10 minutes.
On days when you just don’t feel like exercising, “fake it until you make it”.  You are not always going to jump into your workout clothes feeling ecstatic, but once you’re done working out, you will feel accomplished and glad you did.

4.    Weigh yourself regularly. The numbers on the scale can tell you if what you’re doing is working for you or if you need to make changes.  It’s important to see the scale simply as a weight loss tool, which can help guide your eating habits.  It can be a great motivator when you lose weight, but it can also help determine if your diet and/or exercise habits need to be adjusted. If the scale goes up, try not to give in to negative thoughts or feelings. Simply think about what you could do differently for the scale to go down the next time you get on.

 


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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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