Diet Trends: Vegetarian diet

Vegetarian diet cookbooks

Photo courtesy of mriggen

I wanted to spend some time digging into our next diet trend centralized around no meat.  now this diet is often adopted for health reasons or due to certain religious beliefs, humanitarian beliefs, etc. . So eating strictly Vegetarian isn’t a “diet” per se it’s a way of life and I have no problem with that.  Basing ones diet around wholesome fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains is a great way to ensure your body is naturally flushing out toxins, your able to maintain a healthy weight etc.  It has a lot of positive benefits.

Let’s take a look into some of the proclaimed benefits of a Vegetarian based diet:

  • Supports weight loss
  • Increases longevity
  • Plant foods are rich in nutrients
  • Reduced risk of type-2 diabetes

Not so “pro”:

  • Can be difficult to meet daily protein requirements
  • Iron levels if not supplementing can plummet
  • Too much soy products has shown to increase changes of cancer especially in women
  • You can also gain weight if you choose to swap out meat for grilled cheese and fries on the reg 😉

All those pro’s sound great right?  Well, if you execute this diet correctly with ensuring you are getting enough sources of protein, iron and other essential vitamins and minerals then yes it’s a great healthy lifestyle to embrace.  However if you don’t know what you are doing and just cut out meat from your diet without backfilling your daily requirement things may not go exactly as planned.  Take it from my personal experience.

A couple of years back I decided to give up for Lent meat.  No biggie I thought, this is easy and good for me! So I cut out meat and filled my diet with veggies of all kinds, beans etc. Life was good.  Well a few weeks in I started feeling tired all of the time, my skin grew pale, rings under my eyes started to show and i just felt like crap.  I chalked it up to “I must be getting sick”.

Few weeks after I had to go in for blood work and my results showed something was funky in my bloodstream.  In fact so funky the doctor’s made me go to a Cancer Research center to get a deep look into what was going on in my blood cells.  That was scary!  Luckily all came back clean other than low nothing fishy going on there.  By this time Lent was just about over and my mom (who aside from being a nurse seems to know everything) mentioned that i was looking anemic and insisted that eating a steak would fix me.  And so I did, in fact I re-embraced all meat again.  And you know what?  It was like a freakin miracle, my bags disappeared, my energy levels returned and I just felt so much more, me.

Turns out I had depleted my body of the necessary amount of iron it needed to continue functioning correctly.  I hadn’t even thought about that!  In addition my energy levels returned as I increased the amount of protein and other vital minerals in my diet.

So why am I telling you this?  Well, I just want you to be cautious in your health decisions.  Not everything is right for everyone.  Being a vegetarian can be a wonderful thing, I know many people who do it well, but if you don’t know what you are doing it can hurt you as well.  This is true with any type of diet so if you try something and it doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel right stop and think about it.  Tae time to listen to your body and what it wants, needs, craves.  Bodies are so smart they know what we need and when we need it you just have to learn to listen.

Have you tried a Vegetarian based diet?  How did it work for you? What are some things you learned along the way that may help others looking to embrace this way of life?

 

 

Diet Trends – Fat Free/Low Fat Craze

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I wanted to take some time to do a series of blog posts on various diets out there.  I know when faced with the goal of losing weight or getting healthy that there is so much information out there it is to our detriment. I also know that there are many “quick fix” diet plans and crazy low carb, no carb, high fat, low fat, high protein variations. With all these choices it is bound to drive a person crazy….  and fact of the matter is what is right for you might not be right for someone else.  So I’ll take you through some of the biggest fads and leave you to decide but ultimately a well rounded diet based on whole foods and exercise will always ensure long term success.

Fear of heart disease, high cholesterol, and an increasing waistline spurred this diet fad to emerge in the late 70’s. Can you guess what it is?  Yup, the reduced fat phase.  At this time in history all we knew was that some preliminary studies showed that egg yolks, red meats and other fats had shown an increase in heart related issues which was enough to declare a war against fat and in turn pro carbs (sigh).

The introduction to this diet spurred the food industry to start making tons of changes to remove whatever fat they could from their products and you started seeing Reduced fat cheese, low-fat cookies, fat-free butter… the list goes on.  However, one problem with this diet is that by stripping out fat from our diets we added in a bunch of sugars and chemicals to mimic that “fat” component.  High carb low-fat was for sure the way to go! Then of course in the 90’s the trend diet took full hold of America and we were avoiding fat at all cost.  Peanut butter, nuts, avocado’s, cheese and full fat yogurt and milk got the boot as did all those cooking oils.

Simply put, this diet is extremely flawed.  Unless you have super high cholesterol or another specific health reason to have to restrict fats from your diet this fad can actually do your body more harm than good.  Bodies need fat, it is essential to body energy, cell growth, your immune system, and reproductive systems.  Fat is not the devil! Without it our immune systems weaken, vitamin deficiencies can occur and because of the added chemicals in fat-free foods you can actually increase your risk of cancer!  Fat helps keep us feeling full throughout the day and squashes sugar cravings.

But all that said, eating the RIGHT type of fat is what is essential.  Yes fat can still be bad if by “fat” your brain automatically goes to pictures of fried food or rich desserts.  Those fats are still bad and yes they will always be bad… But fats occurring in natural, whole foods will not.  Those are the one’s you want to surround yourself around within your diet: avocado’s, cheese, egg yolks, nuts, coconut and olive oil.

Why do you think the Mediterranean diet is such a huge success all through the decades?  It’s based on a high fat diet but with the right fats and on that diet people are maintaining their healthy lifestyle, losing weight, protecting their hearts and are not walking around sugar-crazed and starving all day!

So to help you make the most of your healthy habits including exercise try incorporating a fat of some sort in every meal.  Eating a balanced diet (fat, carb, protein) diet is always essential to success but definitely don’t give fat the cold shoulder.

On a personal note, I have avoided fat for years.  I remember in my teens (90’s) jumping on that fat-free bandwagon and for years I stuck to my butter sprays, fat free rubber cheese, diet breads, and faux spreads/dressings.  But now I’m in my 30’s I have issues with my immune system, I’m always freezing and my reproductive health isn’t in A+ status. So my mission has been to add fats back into my diet in moderation from the right sources.  I have already noticed by adding in fats that I feel more full, i’m started to not feel as cold and I just seem to be in a better state of mind.

Here’s an example daily food log of mine:

Breakfast –  1/2 cup 2-4% cottage cheese with berries, 1 piece of sprouted bread with 1 tbsp chia flax peanut butter (I’m obsessed)

Snack – apple with 1/2 tbsp peanut butter

Lunch – Kale salad with chicken or tuna, red peppers, tomatoes, croutons, parmesan cheese, and 1/4 avocado with Champaign vinaigrette dressing

Snack – popcorn (Skinny Pop) and almond mix

Dinner – Salmon or chicken breast, lentils, and kale sautéed in coconut oil with mushrooms, lemon juice and red pepper

Dessert – Halo top ice cream (1 cup) with a rice cake smeared with 1 tsp peanut butter

Total calories: About 1800

Total Fat: 60 grams

Total Protein: 100-120 grams

What is your take on fat?  Do you incorporate enough fat in your diet or find success another way?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Simplified New Year’s Resolutions

2015 resolutions and change It’s been awhile since our last post, but it sure feels good to be back.  The new year always offers us an opportunity to bring about change, do something different, start over right?

What new year resolutions did you make for 2015? Patience? To lose weight or eat healthier? Or was it something like to go to church more often or give back to the less fortunate? Whatever you chose did you stick with it thus far? if not what struggles have you had?

January brings about a time of change and acknowledgement in that which we like or dislike about ourselves.  It exposes our flaws, regrets, and hangups while allowing us an opportunity to rectify those negatives and start anew.  We make our new year resolutions whole heartedly and swear we are committed to seeing through the change.

My first new years resolution is to try and  relax more, let go of all the unnecessary stress we sometimes let get to us and as my mother likes to say, “just chill”.   My second primary resolution is to focus on the nutrition that is going into my body. Trying specifically to rid of those “unnatural”  additions like high fructose corn syrup, soybean oils, and even a surplus of “excess wheat.”

While those two resolutions may seem totally unrelated, they all combine into one clear theme… simplicity.  I’m bringing back simplicity as we so often over-complicate our lives.  We over think and over analyze everything.

I look forward over the coming weeks to share with you ways and ideas to help you reach your health and fitness goals without over complicating your lives.  Who has time for that right?

I also hope to hear more about your success and struggles. What ways you’ve simplified your life and it’s helped you reach your goals? What were/are your goals? What failures have you had and learned from?

 

 

Take your meal to the next level with fresh herbs!

Creating the perfect meal isn’t just a matter of following a recipe, but knowing what and how to combine them.  Part art, part science, the culinary arts are truly a melding of style and substance, and the right ingredients are the first substance you need to concern yourself with.  The herbs you buy at the store are dried out, losing much of their natural flavor, and often they are months old when you buy them, and then sit in your cupboard for up to years later.  Over all this time you’re losing flavor and quality, and in some cases they end up with little more flavor than wood-shavings.

 

The barrier that stands in the way of many people taking advantage of the delight of fresh herbs is a lack of a place to grow them.  While you can buy fresh herbs in many produce sections, they don’t last long once brought home and placed in the fridge, so what to do when you want to start cooking with them on a regular basis?  Why, grow your own of course!  Whether you live in a house on a small plot in town or an apartment in the big city, there are lots of ways you can grow your own fresh herbs in your home.

 

jar of herbs with water

Photo courtesy of Flickr by  Linh H. Nguyen

 

For instance, if your apartment has windows, you can grow all sorts of herbs in small window boxes.  These are often available from local home and garden stores, and can be hung from the window frame without the use of screws or any other invasive securing hardware.  Then you can take a few choice herbs and plant them in the window, with a simple daily habit of watering them and a little care, you can have fresh herbs growing right by your window, ready to prepare some of the most delicious food you’ve ever put in your mouth!

 

pots on ledge with herbs

Image courtesy of Flickr by Maggie Hoffman

 

If your home has a  sunroom in it, you’ve got an even better option.  There is nothing that brings life to a room like lots of natural light and that hint of the outdoors that comes with vibrant indoor plants.  Along with a warm and comfortable environment with plush furniture and rich verdant soil, you’ll be able to grow a ton of herbs in your home, safe from insect infestations and the vagaries of weather.  Herbs grown in a conservatory add a rich and delicious tapestry to the dishes you can serve, and it certainly allows you to grow a respectably sized herb garden in your home.

 

Never underestimate the boost that quality fresh herbs can bring to your cooking, the difference it makes to your palette can be truly astounding.  Fresh herbs have brighter flavors, fresher taste, and even add a wonderful visual element to the food you prepare.  In the case of herbs like rosemary and thyme, even the slightly woody nature brings something to the dish, giving a bit of mouth feel you won’t find with the crumbly and flaky herbs you find in your seasoning section at the grocery store.

 

That said, I would now like to share with you one of my favorite recipes, that would not be half as delicious without the freshly picked herbs that go into it. It is very little work, smells incredible, and is low in cholesterol and high in protein, to boot! Who could ask for more?

 

Aromatic Oven Roasted Trout with Herb Butter

 

trout prepared with herbs

Photo courtesy of Flickr by epicxero

 

Ingredients:

4 trouts, cleaned and gutted

Sea salt, pepper

4 tablespoons softened butter

3 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons each fresh coarsely chopped thyme, sage and parsley

1 tablespoon fresh coarsely chopped basil

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sweet paprika

 

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the fish, then rub salt, some basil and pepper well into each one, inside and out. Divide the remaining herbs evenly and stuff each fish with them. Cover pan or dish with foil wrap, and put in refrigerator for one hour.
  2. Put garlic though garlic press, then add to softened butter; combine well.
  3. Put a tablespoon of garlic butter inside each fish and drizzle fish with lemon juice, dust lightly with paprika if desired.
  4. Wrap each fish tightly in foil wrap and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. If you like, you can tie the fish with a bit of string (not plastic, natural!) to keep them from coming open when you wrap them in foil.
  5. Unpack each fish carefully, serve with a slice of lemon, a baked potato and a simple cherry tomato salad.

 

 

– Article By: Contributing Writer Nicole Nowlen

The Secret to Gorgeous Abs

 Ever heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”?  Well it’s true, seriously!  Abdominal definition goes beyond doing a billion crunches or even just “eating healthy”.   Don’t get me wrong your abs and body very much do need at LEAST the minimum amount of daily/weekly activity recommended BUT the biggest change you can make when you are not working out is in your diet way of life.
 healthy foods
Photo via Flickr by Aria Ziai
It’s not about the amount of food you eat (within reason of course).  Nor is it about starving yourself with just smoothies or salads to reach your target weight.  Do you have a plan for after you hit that number?  How will you sustain?  This is how the vicious cycle of lose some, gain more is achieved.  To really make a difference you need to create a workable way of life that you will stick with long after bikini season comes to a close.
One of the biggest areas of impact you can have in the kitchen is the quality of food going in your mouth.  Don’t be shy, raise your hands… how many of you look at labels for the items you buy BEFORE you buy them?  That’s what I thought… the fact is most people don’t nor do they know when they do what they are looking for.  Below are just a few basic guidelines to help you avoid those bloating, artificial junk foods that call your name loudly when you are perusing the grocery aisles at your  local Target or Mariano’s etc:
Mantra in life and while grocery shopping: I have standards!
Rule 1. If it has more than 5 ingredients do NOT buy it
Rule 2. if the first 3 ingredients aren’t even related to what the items it’s a big NO (ex tomato sauce should not have #1 ingredient sugar it should be tomato, water, salt that’s about it maybe some seasoning).
Rule 3. NO yellow #5 (aka Kraft mac and cheese… switch to Annie’s brand or another alternative).  Yes may cost your family $.15 more sense but the health benefits outweigh that price.  Simple put, yellow #5 is crap and it’s been known to cause hyperactivity in children.  Yellow #5 is even in goldfish!  So not kid friendly…
Rule 4. Corn syrup, palm oil, high fructose corn syrup -is you see these ingredients ditch it they are just garbage.
Rule 5. enriched white enriched wheat enriched anything NO (this one is least of all but is a reason for belly bloat).  I think this is the hardest one as it’s really in everything.
Look for cane sugar, honey, agave as sweeteners. Corn is good too so cornmeal, corn chips, tortillas if corn not flour all good.  All natural ingredients skip the sugary enriched crap.  Lots of veggies quinoa, brown rice, lots of protein but not modified protein.
Here’s some of my favorite brands you can go to as alternatives to what you are using today:
  • Ezekiel bread products
  • Amy’s Brand
  • Annie’s
  • Rudi’s
  • Skinny Pop or Angie’s
  • Skinny Sticks (great flavors)
  • Trader Joe lentil chips…yum. Actually trader joe is a fantastic inexpensive way to eat healthy on a reasonable budget.
  • Applegate
  • Boar’s Head Natural
  • Most Kashi
  • Honest

 

These are just a few of the brands I like.  Some of your favorite brands can be still enjoyable as a lot of these companies do have less evil alternatives to the foods you love it just takes quick research in the aisle initially.  Once you find your favorites it should be easy weekly just to pick these up and add into the mix.  You and your family’s health is worth it!

 

By Kimberly Hale

 

DVD Review: Angie Gorr

About twice a year, my workout dvd collection starts to bore me and I am ready to invest in a new program to throw in the mix.

After exhaustive research on Amazon, bodybuilding.com, and random forums rating exercise dvds I finally settled on a new one… “Custom Fit” by Angie Gorr.

custom fit by Angie Gorr
Girls this video kicks ass! Actually I liked it so much a few weeks after I bought a second video of hers, “Sweat and Tone”. They are currently thrown in rotation once a week and are one of my dvd favorites already.

I think the greatest thing about both of these videos is the amount of customizing you can do. Only have 20 min? 30? 60? Not a problem! She even let’s you mix up your session between cardio, upper body, lower body and abs depending on your goal.

The quality of the video production is not as dynamic as Bob Harper’s or a Beachbody dvd but the workouts offered definitely make it worth your time. So if you are in the market for a new dvd to “get your beach on” this summer try Angie’s out. She won’t disappoint.

Do you have a favorite workout dvd? What is it and what makes it one of your favorites?

 
Written by Kimberly Hale

5 Essential Foods to Add to Your Diet

Eating a well-balanced healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to compromise enjoyable foods for boring salads, unsavory cottage cheese or the same apple or banana every day.  Adding variety to your diet is essential in maintaining a healthy well-rounded diet that will keep you on the right track.

 

flavorful salad

Image via Flickr by Freddy

So often people fall into the boring trap when “eating healthy” and end up falling off the wagon.  There are tons of colorful and flavorful options of fruits, nuts, yogurt and vegetables sure to keep you enjoying your healthy plan.

Here are just 5 of the many options you can add to diversify your diet and enhance the flavor while eliminating the bore:

 

  1. Yogurt – participants in a study done by everydayhealth.com lost a surprising amount of weight by simply incorporating yogurt. Worth noting, plain Greek yogurt has 80 calories per 5 oz. serving. (This tasty treat has the added bonus of energy-enhancing B vitamins and are high in protein!)
  2. Pumpkin Seeds – these crunchy snacks are packed with Magnesium, which helps keep your energy and metabolism nice and high. A perfect mid-day pick-you-up!
  3. Cherries – these help with muscle inflammation and pain, so when you’re feeling the burn after a hard workout, pop a cherry. (Tip: dice cherries into plain yogurt to kick up the flavor factor.)
  4. Edamame – these baby soybeans are iron powerhouses, which means improved brain function. Among 113 women tested in a Pennsylvania State University study, even mild iron deficiency. produced a case of “where the eff are my keys?” When iron levels were revived, test scores improved.
  5. Apples – according to The Huffington Post, apples help with cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, breast cancer prevention and general life span extension!

 

Next time you pack that plain Jane salad for work add some pumpkin seeds and Edamame to pack in the nutrients while adding a tasty edge.

What other foods have you added to your diet that nix the boring and make eating healthy fun?  Share with us!

 

– Kate Milde, Contributing Writer