Monday, September 29, 2008

Juicy Little Tidbit

I found this article on Sparkpeople (my favorite calorie-counting website) and thought I would share. As we all know, it's not about staying on a strict diet ALL the time. It's about making BETTER choices for our health.

Read on...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tell it like it is!

This restaurant in Arizona has an incredibly unhealthy menu. But you have to give them credit for disclosing that little tidbit in the names of every single one of their menu items.

The mere fact that this restaurant survives tells me that we have a severe problem in our nation in that people simply don't care about health issues. No boundaries. No consequences. At least not immediately.

So sad. I have so much work to do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's For Dinner, Mom?

It's getting to be that time of year again--Pumpkins, cinnamon, and Crockpot dinners! Now, don't get me wrong. I usually don't like Crockpot dinners. At all. But, for this recipe, I make an exception.

Try it and let me know how you like it!

Spicy Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya with Brown Rice

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
  • 2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice (no sugar added)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 medium stalks celery, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 c water
  • 3 T. minced fresh oregano, or 2 t. dried
  • 2 T. minced fresh parsley
  • 2 t. Cajun seasoning
  • 2 t. cayenne
  • 1 T. minced fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. frozen, cooked, deveined shrimp without tails
  • 1/2 c brown rice per serving

Cook chicken to 80% doneness. Fill the slow cooker with everything EXCEPT the shrimp and chicken, and set to low/medium heat. Cook 3 hours. Add chicken and cook another 30 minutes. Add frozen shrimp and cook another 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve with brown rice.

385 calories; 46 g. protein; 39 g. carbs; 7 g. fiber; 5 g. fat (1 g. saturated fat)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Snacks

Snacking has gotten a bad rep over the years, but I'm here to tell you that it's the best thing (almost) you can do for your metabolism. So grab one of these yummy snacks and stave off those hunger pangs!

1. South Beach Peanut Butter Cereal Bars - Have a little protein with your cereal!

2. Cottage Cheese - Single-serving packs are great paired with fruit, but add your own instead of buying the packages with fruit already added. They tend to add fake fruit to theirs--Yuck.

3. Nuts - A handful of mixed nuts is great way to get a little more protein into your diet. I love the cinnamon almonds by Blue Diamond!

4. Dried Fruit - Try the ones with no added sugar. I admit to you, though, that the bananas with no added sugar are downright nasty. Walmart has Wall-E raisins and Hannah Montana dried fruit in a raisin box.

5. Peanut Butter - Add a little peanut butter to whole wheat crackers or apple slices to give you some extra protein and fiber.

6. Cheese - Reduced-fat string cheese is awesome! And I was thrilled to find that Walmart is carrying Hannah Montana low-fat string cheese because we all know that kids will eat just about anything with a Disney character on it!

7. Eggs - Hard boil some eggs and keep them in your fridge for a quick snack. Limit yourself to only two yolks per week, though, to keep your heart healthy.

8. Turkey Jerky - One word--YUM. But it is high in sodium, so you'll have to nix this one if you're on a low-sodium diet.

9. The Obvious Choice - Fresh fruits and veggies! Grapes, carrots, celery, broccoli. Keep veggies cut up in the fridge so they're easy to grab and go.

Happy snacking!

Love Chocolate? You're in LUCK!

Got a sweet tooth? Love chocolate? Well, then, you're in luck!

Dark chocolate--not milk chocolate or white chocolate--actually LOWERS blood pressure and is full of antioxidants. And antioxidants eat free radicals, which cause heart disease and a number of other ailments, including cancer.

So, have yourself a little square of dark chocolate every day--Guilt free!

One word of caution: Don't wash down your dark chocolate with milk. Milk interferes with the body's absorption of the antioxidants.

Here's How Healthcare Gets Fixed

Ah, yes, it's a presidential election year. OH, we Americans LOVE those election years, don't we? No, of course we don't. Because we have better things to do than try and decipher whether what the candidates are saying is fact or fiction...When we all know that 95% of it is fiction.

So, in honor of the election year that is upon us, I thought I would throw in my two cents on how to fix the healthcare system in the United States. Call me crazy, call me a dreamer, whatever.
Our US health system is based on treating people AFTER they're sick. AFTER they've developed diabetes. AFTER they've suffered a heart attack. AFTER they've been stricken with cancer.

For those of you keeping track at home, the number one killer of both men and women in our country is heart disease. Why heart disease? Because we have too MUCH food. Too MUCH fast food. Too MUCH fat, and too much cholesterol in the foods we do eat. Too little fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets. Too much smoking. ENTIRELY too many people leading sedentary lifestyles.

But...I digress. So, back to healthcare.

What if we treated people BEFORE they got sick? What if we started educating children in the schools about healthy lifestyles and good nutrition? (Yes, I know we do that now, but not nearly enough. I read so much about schools taking PE out of curriculums in order to focus more attention on the TAKS.) What if our corporate world started programs to help its employees exercise during the day? Did you know that Nike allows employees an hour (paid!) out of their workday if they'll use it to work out? And their healthcare costs have decreased as a result. What if our insurance companies began to start paying a certain amount each year for personal trainers and dieticians? Or maybe even medically-based weight loss programs (not talking about weight-loss surgery here) BEFORE people get to be at least 100 lbs. overweight? What about smoking cessation programs? What if we, as a country, finally got mad enough to tell the fast food places to shape up or ship out when it comes to high fat foods. (How 'bout Whataburger's triple meat, triple cheese burger with a whopping 1120 calories and 68 grams of fat?) You know, if people weren't BUYING those foods, Whataburger wouldn't sell them. But people don't know. They aren't educated about proper nutrition. They don't understand how food makes their bodies work.

I'd be interested in seeing what YOU think. Do you think that more of an emphasis on preventative healthcare would make a difference in our skyrocketing healthcare costs? Do you think it would make a difference in the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer? Tell me what you think!

And, perhaps more importantly, would you take advantage of preventative healthcare if it were offered to you? Would you take an hour away from your desk job to work out if you even got PAID to do it? Would you stop smoking if there were low-cost or no-cost programs made available to you? Would you work out with a trainer if you just had to pay a co-pay or visit with a dietician to help you learn to feed yourself and your family better, more nutritionally-dense foods?

Going Out for Mexican Food?

It doesn't mean you have to feel stuffed with guilt when you leave the restaurant!

  • Keep these lower fat, lower cholesterol suggestions in mind when ordering:
    Chicken, beef, or shrimp fajitas, with black beans or salad on the side instead of rice
  • Carne asada — steak with onions and peppers
  • Shrimp diablo — this dish is grilled with garlic butter, so ask them to go easy on that
  • Grilled fish tacos, with one corn tortilla rather than two
  • Taco and tostada salads with chicken, beef, or shrimp for protein — don't eat the taco bowl


Kids and Heart Disease--Who Knew They Were at Risk???

Oh, yes, you know you've been on pins and needles awaiting my latest nutrition/training wisdom. So, here you go! I apologize in advance if I get a little soapboxy. I AM passionate, people. PASSIONATE.

(From the very beginning I must admit to you all that I used to be totally guilty of this. Totally. But, I'm reformed, now.)

"You make me sick because you're so skinny that you don't need to exercise and you can eat whatever you want." "The kids can eat (insert whichever fast food restaurant/fatty, high-cholesterol food you want here) because they're kids and they run all those fat and calories off with their high levels of activity."

Once again, I readily admit I was guilty of thinking these very same thoughts. And I think this is a good time to tell you that, for those of you who don't know, my dad suffered a (very) near-fatal heart attack in April of 2006. And I was chowing down on a Whataburger as my mom was telling me that he had coded three times and been shocked back. Incidentally, my husband and children were also engulfing fast food burgers and fries.

NOW, ahem...Let me step onto my soapbox.

I actually figured out a couple of years ago that this was not a healthy mentality--Not healthy, particularly, for our children. But, when I attended a class at Cooper Institute and heard Dr. Kenneth Cooper, himself, speak on the subject, it really hit home for me.

Dr. Cooper's newest "project" in this country (yes, this country...The guy is big time.) is battling childhood obesity. His research indicates that children as young five years old already have plaque buildup (read gunk) forming in their little bitty tiny arteries as a result of fast food, junk food, and general inactivity. Yes, friends. Five. Years. Old.

Fat, cholesterol, and the resulting plaque know no age. It begins collecting the minute we begin to eat foods that are high in fat and cholesterol. And I'm not just talking about kids, here. I'm talking about skinny people, too. And here's the thing that's going to make your day if you tend to be a little fluffy:

It's better to be fat and healthy than it is to be skinny and unhealthy.

So, here's the point of all my rambling. We have got to stop feeding our children (or skinny people!) junk and thinking that it's okay because they're kids (or skinny!). The time to start eating right is not when you're 50 and you've already got heart disease. You have to do it for your children NOW. Start them on the path to better eating NOW. And they've got to be encouraged to get regular exercise. Healthy lifestyles now lead to healthy lifestyles later.

As a sidenote, I'd like to add that, during our time in England, I found that the government would not allow fast food places to install playground equipment in their establishments so as not to encourage little ones to eat junk food. At first, I thought it odd and felt it was an example of too much government. But I've since changed my mind. And I'll blog about that another day.
One more thing before I step off my soapbox and feed my children their healthy, low-fat lasagna (yes, it CAN be done!)...Do you know that actuaries are predicting that this generation of parents (that's most of us) will be the first to out-live their children? And the reason for that is our children eat so much junk that they're going to have heart disease at a much earlier age and Type II diabetes is already running rampant as a result of obese children.

Think about that the next time you're tempted to pull through McDonald's.

Off the soapbox...For now.

Today's Nutrition Tidbit

Black beans!
They're a wonderful way to add a little fiber and protein to your diet. Put 'em atop your salad. Or rinse them, mash them, add a little salsa, cilantro, and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO, for you Rachael Ray fans) and you have yourself a wonderful dip.

Inaugural Blog Post

As many of you know, over the last couple of years, I've managed to rid myself of 40 extra pounds. And I recently became a Cooper Certified personal trainer. I've learned a lot, and I'm ready to share!

Okay, so you're ready for a change. Ready to get in shape once and for all. Ready to make a committment.

Not so fast, there, Mama!

Committing yourself to a hard-and-fast training schedule and diet when it's not really your "lifestyle" right now could mean setting yourself up for failure. You won't stick with it and the pounds and old habits creep back over shorter and shorter periods of time. So, start small!

Personally, I started by cutting out fast food. Cutting. It. Out. Completely, y'all. That might be too lofty for some, so you might want to start with cutting it down to once a week. Then once every two weeks. By then, it'll start sounding gross to you. Really. Trust me on this one.
Another way to get on your way to a healthy lifestyle is to start MOVING! Weight loss is 60% exercise, 40% diet. You just can't do it through diet alone. Many have tried. Many have failed. (I being one of the many.)

My suggestion is that you make a run to Walmart and buy yourself a $5 pedometer. Put it on your shoe first thing in the morning, and make sure that the sun doesn't set on you until you've logged 10,000 steps. (You'd be shocked at how much a trip to the grocery store will contribute to your number.)

If you're feeling a little ambitious and want to do a little more to jump start your weight loss/healthy lifestyle efforts, hit the floor and do some push-ups. They're the best for getting that upper body toned up. Got a testy toddler? Put that baby on your back, and push, push, push!

Girls, I know you've heard others (hopefully not you, yourselves!) say, "I would lift weights, but I don't want to bulk up." Huh? Bulk up? We don't have enough testosterone to bulk up! We need those weight-bearing exercises in order to stave off osteoporosis! So, yeah, start the push-ups whenever you get used to your 10,000 steps/day and/or if you just feel like doing a little extra.

One more note about diet: NEVER let yourself get hungry. Ever. Eat constantly if you have to. Bet you weren't expecting me to say that! Just eat sensibly, and try and have a carb with a protein whenever you eat. String cheese and an apple. Tuna and a few low-fat crackers. A cup of yogurt and a few grapes. The protein helps you stay fuller longer.

Okay, so that's the first edition of my random ramblings. Questions? Just ask!