6 Health Tips When Dining Mexican

A beef tostada on a plate with refried beans, ...

A beef tostada on a plate with refried beans, rice, and a salad as served by Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant at 944 C Street in Hayward, California, USA. The photographer describes the scene as: “A crispy flat corn tortilla shell topped with beef, beans, lettuce, taco sauce and cheese. All platters served with rice, beans and salad with house dressing.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know about you but I LOVE Mexican food.  All the guacamole, chips, cheese, steak you can get please.  Oh yes an extra large glass of Sangria would be nice too!  BUT I also know how deadly in terms of calories consumed in one meal, it can be.  Nonetheless, that shouldn’t stop you or me from going to a Mexican Restaurant, we just need to know a few key details to help us make better decisions while we’re there.

1.Do Not Avoid Eating During the Day Of:  No matter what you may have heard it is never ok to skip your lunch or not eat all day to “save” room for the big, fat meal you’re having later.  I know, it sounds like a great idea.  Save a few calories earlier max out later NEVER WORKS.   One major side effect of trying that approach is that you way over consume dinner because your starving when you finally do eat.  Another side effect is that your brain thinks that it’s ok to eat more or not worry about your choices because you “saved those calories earlier in the day.  Additionally, your metabolism can take a hit because it goes into starvation mode like the rest of the processes in your body and once there are no more calories left to burn from the recent meal you ate it starts hacking at your muscle calories and over time of using this approach makes your metabolism even slower!

2. Skip the Chips –  Restaurant tortilla chips are not the same thing as that bag of El Miagro chips you have in your cabinet.  Restaurant tortilla chips are deep fried.  With the words “deep fried” that means they’re loaded with calories.  For instance, Chipotle lovers (myself included), one bag of the chips they give you is 500 calories!   Add that to the guacamole and burrito you just ordered and you’ve just signed yourself up for a good two hour plus gym session!

3. Avoid the Wraps – burritos’ and large quesadilla’s come in large flour tortilla’s.  Having just one of those suckers stacks 250 plus calories on to your meal.  If you must have a burrito skip the wrap and eat it as a “bowl”.

4. Cheesy Moderation – We all love cheese, in fact I may have a little over a feeling of love for cheese. BUT calories can quickly add up fast so pick your poison.  Think about your average package of shredded cheese at home 1/4 cup equals approx 100 calories.  NOW remember that and apply the same principle when out at the restaurant.  Quesadilla’s are a death sentence between all the cheese, large tortilla, and oil it’s cooked in you’re looking at upwards 600 (I’m being nice) calories.  I’ve seen Mexican restaurant chains as high as 1,000 calories for one!  Now add the pork tamale that you just ate to this quesadilla plus a glass of Sangria and chips and you’ve more than likely met close to your days worth of calories.

5. Skip the Refried Beans – Beans are healthy for you just not when they’re refried. There are about 300 calories in your refried beans.  Restaurants cook the beans in lard and usually sprinkled with cheese.  skip them if you can if not perhaps there’s a better option like the actual black or pinto beans.

6. NO TACO SALADS – The word salad does not mean healthy.  A large percentage of the time there are more calories in that silly salad you ate than if you would have had a side of black beans and 3 chicken taco’s.  How can you make it healthier?  Tell the waiter no shell, no sour cream,light on the cheese, fresh avocado not guacamole, add salsa, and go with chicken or steak not ground beef for your topping.

What are some “safer” options to pick?  Ceviche (often seen in the appetizer section), plated chicken meals with lots of veggies light and beans (not refried), fajita’s can be very healthy just stick to 1-2 corn tortilla’s and have the server take the rest, eat your tacos el fresco style


Easy Moves To Help Stretch Tight Shoulders

Sitting at a desk job day over day ,week over week, and year after year take a large toll on your body and health.  Studies show that those who sit daily for over 40 hours a week have an increased risk for back pain, neck pain, stress injuries, obesity, carpal tunnel… to name a few.

I have already begun seeing some of these effects from bad posture at work.  For instance, my biggest problem like most desk professions are in my neck and shoulders.  Years of slouched, incorrect desk posture have begun having wrath on my body and my body is not liking it!

I recently went to a Chiropractor because of neck and shoulder pain.  My neck felt like it was on fire!  Turns out I had a slipped disc in my neck from hunched over posture at my desk!  Yes I hurt myself by just sitting at my desk for ungodly hours… crazy.

Thanks to her she cracked me in places in my neck and back I didn’t even know could crack and gave me some great exercises to do throughout the day to try and push my shoulders back.  this was something I was not used to.  I grew up a ballerina and had great posture.  In fact I would get comments on how I walked and stood tall… I should have noticed those comments over the years have faded and I’m guessing my slowing curving shoulders are to blame.

I was looking up daily news stories a few days ago and came across an article on Fit Sugar that had a few great yoga poses to hep relieve some pressure in your shoulders and stretch that overall area out. I’ve been trying them daily and have already begun to feel better, I suggest you give them a whirl too. Good luck to you and remember, standing tall with shoulders back and chest up makes you not only look taller but slimmer too!

Yoga Sequence For Tight Shoulders.

Natural Ways To Boost Your Metabolism

As we age gradually our metabolism slows down too.  According to Web MD, your metabolism starts slowing down around age 40 then continues to decrease by 5% every decade after that.  Heredity also plays a big role in your metabolism speed.  Is it always the reason behind the extra pounds you might be carrying around?  Probably not, but it could play a factor.  So what can you do without going through extensive metabolic testing to naturally boost your metabolism on your own time?  I came across an article in Shape magazine that mentioned 6 quick ways to boost your metabolism.

* Hot peppers – Chili peppers are famous for piping up your metabolism and their also great for curbing cravings.  If you can handle the heat kick up that spicy bloody mary or add some spicy peppers next time you eat Mexican or Thai food.

* Whole grains – It’s the dietary fiber and complex carbs that make whole grains an effective metabolism booster.   In addition whole grains are well-known for reducing your risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure, reducing asthma symptoms, the list goes on.  Just make sure you are getting whole grains and not whole wheat or multigrain.  Believe it or not they are not the same thing.

* Coffee – Due to its stimulant qualities on your nervous system, just one cup can boost metabolic rates 5-7%!

* Vinegar – The acid in vinegar works great for aiding in breaking down fat as well as controlling blood-sugar levels.  Skip the creamy dressing next salad you have and pour on some vinegar (there are many flavor versions) and olive oil.  Your body will thank you.

* Citrus – Orange anyone?  Yes please.  Citrus helps regulate your insulin levels and in turn helps you burn fat.

* Spices – Go ahead and don’t be shy on the spice next time you cook.  Add an extra sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning oatmeal or toast.  Turmeric is also an excellent spice to use for its potent metabolism boosting properties.

What’s important here is that the 6 items above play additional roles in your health.  So not only helping kick your sluggish metabolism, these options are great for reducing everything from your chances of cancer to clogged arteries.  So which of the above are you incorporating in your meals this week?


5 Easy Homemade Lunches Under 400 Calories

I don’t know about you but come 11-11:30am during the work week I am usually starving! This doesn’t matter if I consumed a hearty bowl of oatmeal in the morning or a lot of protein and fiber, the verdict is I’m still starving. So to help combat that feeling I concocted 5 lunch option sure to not bust your gut but keep you stacked for the afternoon hours ahead of you.

1. Loaded potato – This is a fantastic option for anyone that has access to a microwave during their work hours. It’s easy enough to bring to work and will not leave you hungry. Bring a potato (regular or sweet potato is up to you). Cook in the microwave for roughly 7 minutes depending on size. Bring your favorite toppings and you’re all set! What are my go to topping? Light Sour Cream, a sprinkle of fat-free shredded cheddar and an individual frozen microwavable pack of broccoli/cheese tops my list. Or if you’re in a Mexican mood sprinkle some reduced fat cheddar cheese and salsa on top. If it’s a sweet potato cinnamon and a dash of a reduced fat butter does the trick.

2. Healthy Cobb Salad – Who ever said you can’t enjoy your favorite salad? Just make a few substitutions and you’re all set!  mixed greens, 1/2-1 egg white, 1/4 avocado cubed, cherry tomatoes, reduced fat or fat-free blue cheese crumbles, and a fat-free balsamic or a creamy low-calorie dressing like Trader Joe’s Champaign Parmesan (only 20 calories for 1 tbsp.).           

3. Greek Tuna Salad – iceberg lettuce, fat-free feta crumbles, 5 diced kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion, thin sliced cucumber, and a low calories dressing like Vino de Milo’s Artichoke Parmesan dressing. (Optional – take a 1/2-1 can of tuna in water.  Flake and add to salad for added protein)

3. Peanut Butter Stuffed -Take one serving of peanut butter, spread over both sides of a lightly toasted english muffin or fiber-filled bread of choice, add 1/2 diced banana slices and apple slices on english muffin and you’re done!  Finish remaining portion of apply.

4. Snack Box – Big kids welcome!  This is my favorite go to lunch many times a week – Multi-grain or whole grain crackers (Special K multi-grain crackers are 24 for a mere 120 calories!  Less really is more sometimes.) Laughing Cow or Weight Watchers cheese spread, deli meat of choice (2-3 thin pieces), slice red and green pepper strips, avocado chunks, or cucumber.  You can even throw in some baby carrots or fruit like grapes/cherries etc.

5. Tabbouleh – Near East offers a box of Tabbouleh next to all the other rice boxes in most stores. Pre-making this the day before so it has time to chill over night is essential but really not time-consuming as it’s rice so a little boiling water and olive oil are the only additional ingredients you need to prepare it.  Now when you compile it for lunch I like adding fat-free feta on top with diced parsley, lemon juice, diced tomato and even some flaked tuna or cubed red pepper is a great addition.

Benefits of Exercise: Get Moving!

I stumbled upon an article on  an app on my phone yesterday – by the way if you have a smartphone check out Pulse, I’m in love with this app as i can monitor all the major daily headlines in news, politics, tech trends, weather, exercise, nutrition, and even fun facts from the onion in a few clicks, it’s totally customizable (not a plug, I just really enjoy this app)- that said, I came across a great article from Shape on 12 benefits of exercise.  Let’s take a closer look at  6 on the list and see if they motivate you. I don’t think it’s off to assume we all know the excellent benefits exercising has on our bodies.  Whether or not we choose to do anything about that vital information is another thing.  Putting your doubts, lack of motivation, children, busy schedule, or whatever other objection aside let’s look at some proven motivational reasons to get your butt up off that couch or computer chair and get moving.

1. 50% decrease in the number of colds you’ll have annually if you put in at least 30 minutes of basic exercise a day (i.e. walk your dog, go up and down your apartment building stairs…)

2. 58% decrease in the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes

3.  6 hours after your workout your body temps dip, which experts say make it easier in falling asleep (body needs to repair itself, hence more likely to have a good, restful nights sleep)

4.  Improved levels of concentration – Those who exercise for 30 minutes before performing tasks demonstrated a more efficient working memory than those that did not exercise.

5. 9% increase in your earning power (think you’re exercising you not only feel better about yourself, you look better and healthier and other people notice)

6.  14% decrease in your risk for coronary heart disease

To see what other benefits were on the list check out the Shape article below.  Now stop reading, get  outside, and get moving!


A Parent’s Guide To Children & Obesity

children & obesity

A heated topic especially as more and more families and individuals strive to live a healthier life is children’s health.  As more and more children are reaching the obesity index you have to stop and wonder what are these children eating?  I was forwarded a great article recently called “Are You Making Your Kids Fat” and I wanted to take a few moments to reference this.  Being the mother of an almost three-year old I definitely am aware of the challenges with feeding and getting children to actually eat the healthy items you have put on their plates.

So what can we as parents do to change this?  Well, this article from Yahoo suggests a few things that can even be integrated into your life as a parent that can make a huge impact on how your child grows up.  Here are some of the ideas they suggested:

1. Watching your bmi before and during pregnancy.  Studies show that pregnant obese women have a higher chance of passing that obesity on to their children starting in the womb.

2. Eat a healthy diet full of veggies and nuts while breastfeeding

3. Keep exposing your child to new foods.  It can take 15 plus times of exposing a child to a certain food for them to start eating it.

4.  Turn off the tv

5. Eat dinner together

6.  Lose weight yourself – set a good example for your children by getting healthy

7. Engage in some sort of physical activity to set the example

While I agree with the majority of the points made, having a young child is exhausting as is.  If you work full-time and come home tired it’s so easy to just give in to convenience and put something not as nutritional on both you and your child’s plate.   This is where you as a parent need to step up and combat that tiredness to cut some watermelon or saute spinach for 2 minutes to put on to their plates.  I try to expose my daughter to all sorts of veggies and fruits.  Although it is super frustrating giving them to her to be mutilated and possible launched on the floor, I know in the end it will make a difference.  In fact my daughter actually ate brussel sprouts that other day!  Living proof right there.  I recently read that sometimes you need to expose children to foods up to 15 times before they actually start eating them.

The main point to remember though is to not force them to eat it.  Yes I know you just slaved over a hot stove in 100 degree weather and no air sauteing that spinach and they didn’t eat a single piece of it but trust that in time and patience they will test it and perhaps even end of really liking it.

Are you a parent with a picky eater?  Do you encounter this struggle with your children?  Have some great ideas that work for picky eaters?  Shout them out, we’d love to hear them!

(Source: http://shine.yahoo.com/team-mom/making-kids-fat-133100891.html)

4 Breakfast Ideas to Jumpstart Your Morning

Breakfast is the most important part of the day.  I know you’ve heard that mantra over and over before but it’s true.  Sadly enough, not enough people make time for it.  Yes I say make time because honestly I don’t believe in the saying “no I don’t have time to eat an apple or munch on a piece of toast while driving or commuting to work”.  Do you?

So to help you better understand WHY it’s the most important meal of your day let’s use our logic…  Think about the following:  What time do you eat your last meal, dessert, snack the night before?  Now when you wake up how many hours has it been since you last ate?  What if you wait until lunchtime when your famished, now how many hours?  12, 15, 18 plus hours!  There is no point in time throughout the rest of the day that you or anyone goes that long without eating something.  Sounds crazy when you think about that right?  No wonder you’re starving!

So to prevent lunchtime over-eating here are some great, quick and easy suggestions to help you make sure you start your day right:

1. Oatmeal – This will help you power through the morning, no problem.  The fiber in oatmeal helps you stay fuller longer and contains a lot of essential vitamins like iron and potassium. Oatmeal may help you reduce your weight and reduce your cholesterol too (Bonus!).  Just don’t select any weak package versions containing a little bit of oatmeal and a lot of sugar.  Go for the real deal like the oats themselves.  If you don’t have time to cook a pot full, Nature’s Path makes an excellent line of organic instant packets and Trader Joe’s sells super tasty steel cut oats in their frozen section.  Pop one frozen oatmeal ball in a microwave safe bowl and voila it’s ready to eat in 2 minutes!  You can also spice up boring oatmeal with just about anything.  Try things like chopped nuts, berries, banana or even a sprinkle of cinnamon does the trick.

2. Greek Yogurt – This option is packed with protein which also will help you stay full longer.  Be wary of some of the options that include fruit already whereas pick the wrong brand and you’re staring down 20-30 grams of sugar in one tiny yogurt cup!  Go with plain versions and throw in berries, dried fruit, granola (careful here…most granolas pack 200 calories for a measly 1/3 cup! ), agave and nuts to make a nutritiously sustaining breakfast option.

3. Eggs or Egg Whites – Did you know you can microwave an egg?  Sure can, thus making work omelets totally doable.  Just grab a baggy at home with ingredients you want to add like spinach or veggies, cheese, whatever and toss a cracked egg in a mug with some butter so it doesn’t stick. Pop in a mug in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and you’re all set!  Have a little bit of time the night before work?  Why not hard boil a few eggs those work just as well for breakfast.  Add salt or pepper to taste, even a little bit of light mayo for egg salad.  Pair with a slice of nutty or whole grain bread and you’ll be set to power through until lunch.

4. English Muffins – Thomas makes an awesome 100 calorie, 8 grams of fiber, great tasting english muffin.  You can eat it with 1/2 serving of peanut butter (100 calories), light cream cheese with /12 sliced banana, or even with chicken sausage. (Trader Joe’s has a really tasty chicken apple sausage I recommend.)

Note: I am not a huge fan of cereal or energy bars which is why you don’t see them mentioned above.  They’re great at random times when you’re starving and don’t want to down a bag of chips.  While I’m sure there are healthy versions out there, most of them have as much sugar in one bar as a snickers…  If I had to pick one i feel Luna bars are the best and the tastiest.  In fact I eat a luna bar for dessert with some chamomile tea at least once a month.