SuperBowl Doesn’t Have to Mean Supersized Portions

Game Day Tips To Help You Keep Your Wellness Goals On Track
It’s the first week of February, so it’s around that time when the popular New Year’s Resolutions are dwindling down to the ghost of New Year’s Past. If you’re worried that the big game is going to sabotage your healthy efforts, I’m here to tell you – please don’t create something to stress over! While the jury may still be out regarding whether New Year’s Resolutions are helpful or not, I believe that any day, including January 1st, is a great day to get started with making simple, sustainable changes toward better health (and that can include game day) and every meal does not need to be your idea of perfect. Below are my tips for keeping your health goals while enjoying a day of fun and food (oh, and I guess some football) – so that you can remain in control of your 2018 intentions.
Tip #1: Begin the day with an activity you enjoy
You’re likely going to be planted in front of the TV on Sunday night, so try to get some movement in early on so that you’re not sedentary for the entire day. If you want to hit a gym class or go for a run, great! But if you don’t, there are plenty of other ways you can be active, whether it’s going for a long walk or hike (weather permitting), running around with your dog at the park, doing an at-home yoga podcast or simply doing some activities around the house (squats, jumping jacks, planks and many other exercises don’t require any equipment or extra space, and simple at-home gym equipment like resistance bands and light weights are awesome tools to have on hand). And while you’re sitting and watching the game, don’t forget to get up and stretch every once in awhile. Bottom line? Find something you enjoy and move around a little.
Tip #2: Eat a filling, nutritious breakfast (and lunch)
It’s easy to overdo it on chips and brownies when you haven’t eaten enough to feel full beforehand. Make sure to eat filling meals before the big game so that you’re not as tempted by the less nutritious foods. Don’t feel that you can’t enjoy these foods – but making a meal of chips and baked goods isn’t the best idea. My go-to breakfast ideas are eggs scrambled with veggies with fruit, avocado toast with eggs or seeds, or oatmeal with some nuts/seeds and fruit, and lunch should be some combination of protein plus carbohydrate (whole grains, fruits or starchy vegetables), non starchy vegetables (think: greens, cruciferous veggies, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.) and some healthy fat (hello, avocado).
dipsTip#3: Serve (or bring) some tasty, nutritious options for the big game
Whether you’re hosting a party at your place or going as a guest to watch the game somewhere else, you can make sure that you have some nutritious options that you’re truly excited about. Whether you want to make a plate of crudités, a large salad, a fruit salad, a main dish like baked buffalo chicken strips or some fun dips, there are so many ways to enjoy your favorite nutritious foods. My favorite party staples are my baked spinach artichoke dip, my buffalo cauliflower dip, and my homemade guacamole! Tip: Baked Beanitos are bean-based baked tortilla style chips, meaning more protein and fiber and less fat than traditional chips – and they’re delicious.
Tip #4: Go easy on the alcohol
Alcohol is a source of calories without much in the way of nutrition, meaning these empty calories can add up quickly. Not to mention, oftentimes drinking leads to lower inhibitions, which means it can be more difficult to be mindful regarding food choices. If you want to enjoy a drink or two, don’t stress – but overdoing it on a Sunday probably isn’t the best idea (work on Monday doesn’t need to be any more difficult, amiright??). And make sure to alternate each drink with water to stay hydrated.
Tip #5: Don’t make every fun occasion something to stress over
When we talk about wellness, oftentimes we stay so focused on healthy eating and exercise and we forget that our mind plays such an important role. Wellness does not mean depriving oneself, or losing sleep over logging a certain amount of miles on the treadmill. Wellness should connect both physical and mental wellbeing, and along with that should come acceptance that not every day is going to be your ideal day – and that’s okay. So this Sunday, move a little, find some nutritious options you love, enjoy some less nutritious foods if you please, and root for your favorite team with some friends.
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Wellness Superhero Turned Villain? Not Quite.

Setting the Record Straight on Coconut Oil

coconutRecently, the wellness community has been up in arms over the presidential advisory released by the American Heart Association (AHA) – it turns out coconut oil may not be the wellness superstar many people thought. The AHA advised that people limit sources of saturated fat, including coconut oil, because it may increase the risk of developing heart disease. However, the funny thing is – the news that sparked headlines and shook up the wellness community wasn’t really news at all.

Coconut oil is known to be a source of saturated fat. While it has been recommended for a long time to limit sources of saturated fat, the issue isn’t necessarily so clear cut. The AHA recommends limiting saturated fat to 6% or less of one’s daily caloric intake. Typically, it is recommended to consume approximately 30% of one’s calories from fat, meaning over 20% of fat consumed should be in the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated forms (although individual recommendations may vary). While saturated fat isn’t necessarily all bad (it does raise HDL cholesterol – the “good” kind of cholesterol, and we do need some in our diet because it plays an important role in the structural component of cells), it should be consumed in moderation, since it also increases LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids are typically referred to as “heart-healthy” due to the cardio protective effect of these fats (for example: the Mediterranean style diet, which emphasizes leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish and olive oil).

Coconut oil is touted to be helpful for weight management, digestive woes and everything in between. It’s known for it’s medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are digested and absorbed differently than other fats. MCTs are absorbed quickly and bypass the long process typically required to break down and absorb fats, so they may be used clinically for patients who have malabsorption and have even been used as an ergogenic aid for athletes due to it’s perceived quick energy. However, the research that supports the use of MCT oil typically has used an oil that is far more rich in MCTs than traditional coconut oil. While coconut oil contains more MCTs than many other oils, it is not pure MCT oil. Additionally, the link between coconut oil and weight loss is not causative – that is, we do not have any evidence that proves that increasing coconut oil intake causes weight loss. There are many confounding variables that prevent this conclusion from being drawn. It is most likely that people who start using coconut oil and lose weight do so because they are

a) making many other dietary and lifestyle changes, as well

b) feeling satiated from the calories provided by the coconut oil, which can also be provided by other fat and food sources, and possibly limiting their overall caloric intake, which can aid in weight loss.

So, to consume coconut oil or not consume coconut oil – that is the question. Coconut oil is one type of many oils that can be incorporated into an overall healthy diet. In moderation, it can certainly be enjoyed. However, do I recommend loading it up in all of your meals, snacks and coffee? No.

So, unless you plan to lather it all over your body and hair, enjoy it in moderation .

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

Cauliflower Fried Rice

This “fried rice” takes care of that comfort-food craving, without all of the calories. This veggie-filled dish is topped with eggs and chicken – lean protein sources that are sure to fill you up – and comes in at about 300 calories per serving!

cauliflower fired rice

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 1/2 lbs. cauliflower “rice” (you can buy this at many grocery stores, or you can simply cut a large head of cauliflower into small pieces)

1 lb. chicken breast cutlets

1 medium sweet onion (or you can use scallions), chopped

1 yellow squash, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3/4 C carrots, sliced

1/2 C frozen peas, thawed

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp rice vinegar

3 Tbsp teriyaki sauce ( I like Trader Joe’s Soyaki) – just watch out for sodium and sugar!

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

Dash ground black pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, scrambled (raw)

chicken stir fryDirections:

  1. Cut chicken into small pieces. Spray large saucepan or wok with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray. Add 2 tsp olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add chicken and 1 1/2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce and cook until cooked through (about 10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Steam carrots (you can use a steamer or place in microwave safe bowl, add a splash of water, cover and cook on “high” for about 2 minutes, until softened and bright.
  3. Add 1 tsp olive oil to pan and warm over medium heat. Add onions, zucchini, yellow squash and spices (ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder) and cook until softened, about 10-12 minutes. Add minced garlic, peas, carrots and another 2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce. Cook another 5-7 minutes, remove from pan and add to dish with chicken.
  4. Add remaining olive oil and remaining  teriyaki sauce to pan and warm over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower “rice”and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Add scrambled eggs and stir until cooked through. Add chicken and veggies, stir until well combined and remove from heat. Serve and enjoy!

veggies stir fry

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 300 calories, Total Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 112 mg, Carbohydrates 23 g, Fiber 7 g, Protein 35 g, Sodium 431 mg, Calcium 96 mg

 

Why Take-Out When You Could Dine In?

Whole Wheat Cous Cous With Chickpeas, Edamame and Peanuts in a Peanut Butter Sauce

This take-out inspired dish is filled with peanut butter-y goodness and offers a fun, different way to enjoy vegetarian protein. Filled with fiber, protein and lower in calories and sodium than traditional take-out, this homemade version will become your new busy night go-to dish!

couscous

 

Ingredients (serves 6):

Peanut Butter Teriyaki Sauce:

1/3 C natural, creamy peanut butter

2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce (I like Trader Joe’s Soyaki Sauce)

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/4 C water

1/2 tsp hot sauce (I like Cholula or Frank’s Red Hot)

dash crushed red pepper flakes (depends how hot you like it!)

dash ground ginger

*optional: ~1/2 tsp honey to create a sweeter peanut sauce (not included in nutritional analysis)

pb sauce

Peanut Sauce!

Stir Fry:

1 C whole wheat cous cous, dry

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3/4 C carrots, shredded

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans (try to find a brand with no added salt – or rinse and strain beans to remove excess salt)

1/4 C edamame, shelled,  unsalted and ready-to-eat

5 oz baby bok choy (about 4-5 baby bok choy)

2 Tbsp water

1/4 C peanuts, roasted and unsalted (just the kernels)

*Note: Depending on whether or not you use a nonstick skillet, you may want to add either a nonstick vegetable oil spray or a small amount of olive oil to your skillet in the third step (while you add the spoonful of sauce). If adding olive oil, note that 1 Tbsp olive oil has about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat  (this is not accounted for below in the nutritional analysis). 

Directions:

  1. Mix all sauce ingredients in a medium bowl until well-combined. Set aside.
  2. Cook the cous cous according to box directions (I bring 1 C water to a boil, add 1 C dry cous cous, stir, remove from heat, cover and allow to sit for about 5-7 minutes, until all water is absorbed and cous cous is fluffy).
  3. Add a small spoonful of peanut sauce to a large skillet or wok and heat over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots and chickpeas and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and slightly browned.
  4. Add edamame, baby bok choy and 2 Tbsp water, stir and cover for approximately 3-5 minutes, until baby bok choy is bright green and softened. Add peanuts, stir and cook another 2-3 minutes, uncovered.
  5. Add cous cous and the remaining peanut sauce to skillet and mix all ingredients until well combined. Serve and enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 321 calories, Total Fat 11 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 39 g, Fiber 7 g, Protein 14 g, Sodium 438 mg, Calcium 82 mg

skillet couscous

A Berry Simple Smoothie Bowl

Blueberry Banana Smoothie Bowl

This make-ahead breakfast is my favorite for busy mornings. Filled with protein, antioxidants and fiber, this tasty bowl packs in a nutritional punch for few calories (and in no time)! I topped mine with granola, but this smoothie is also delicious on it’s in own in a to-go cup on your way out the door.

smoothie bowl

Ingredients (serves 2):

1 ripe banana

3/4 C frozen blueberries

1/4 C natural, creamy peanut butter (I like Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter)

1/4 C 0% plain, Greek yogurt

1/2 C milk of your choice

3 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients together – I used my Nutri Bullet! (How easy is that?)

*Chill in fridge in sealed container if not consuming immediately. I like to make my smoothie at night and just give it a quick stir in the morning – breakfast made easy! 

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 332 calories, Total Fat 17 g, Saturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 3 mg, Carbohydrates 30 g, Fiber 6 g, Protein 13 g, Sodium 154 mg, Calcium 122 mg

*Note: Nutritional analysis uses 1% (low-fat) milk

Cream-Free Creamy Coleslaw!

Creamy Coleslaw

coleslaw

This coleslaw will have you thinking you’re digging into a mayo-filled bowl of slaw, but I swapped Greek yogurt for the traditional sour cream and mayo to give this bowl of veggies some creamy flavor, without all of the calories. A slaw with some protein and calcium for less than 50 calories per serving? Now you can have your slaw and eat it, too!

Ingredients (yields about ten 1/2-cup servings):

5 C shredded broccoli, carrots, cabbage or any other veggie you love! (I like the Trader Joe’s brand “Shredded Broccoli Slaw” package, which comes with 5 C shredded broccoli stalk and carrots – easy!)

1/4 C roasted sunflower seeds, unsalted

1 C 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt

1/3 C red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp ground black pepper

1 Tbsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

Now just mix with veggies!

Now just mix with veggies!

Directions:

  1. Empty shredded veggies into large mixing bowl. Add sunflower seeds.
  2. In a separate (smaller) bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, vinegar, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder until well combined. The dressing will have a creamy consistency.
  3. Pour the dressing over the slaw and use tongs to mix all ingredients together so that the slaw is coated with the dressing.
  4. Cover bowl or transfer into an airtight container and chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, or until slaw is slightly wilted. Serve chilled and enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving = about 1/2 cup)

Calories 49 calories, Total Fat 2 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 5 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 4 g, Sodium 84 mg, Calcium 46 mg

I served my coleslaw with a homemade turkey burger!

I served my coleslaw with a homemade turkey burger!

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These chewy oatmeal cookies are the perfect holiday cookie – no one would even guess that they are filled with fiber and boast more protein than the average cookie! Using rolled oats, Greek yogurt, dark chocolate and ground cinnamon, these cookies offer wholesome goodness that taste good, too!

cookies

Ingredients (yields ~ 20 cookies)

1 1/2 C rolled oats

1 C whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 C dark brown sugar

1/4 C honey

1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, scrambled

2 Tbsp plain 0% Greek yogurt

1/4 C dark chocolate chips (try to look for  at least 72% cocoa)

2 Tbsp 1% (low fat) milk

2 Tbsp water

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

batterDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (oats, flour, baking powder, spices, brown sugar).
  3. Combine wet ingredients in a separate medium bowl (honey, eggs, yogurt, milk, water).
  4. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients in the larger mixing bowl. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spray baking sheet with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray (you will need two baking sheets).
  6. Scoop batter into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter, roll each ball in your hands and place on baking sheet. Press down on each ball to form a cookie shape (batter is slightly liquid-y, so the cookies may naturally take this shape)
  7. Bake in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are browned and a toothpick comes out clean when poked through the center of the cookie. Enjoy!

*store in an airtight container to preserve freshness

*these cookies are extra amazing when warmed slightly in the microwave – just don’t overdo it!

cookie sheet

 

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 136 calories, Total Fat 7 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 18 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 2 g, Sodium 69 mg, Calcium 37 mg