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Healthy Eating

Healthy (and Not-So-Healthy) Foods That Fool

Written on December 20, 2013 at 9:16 am , by

Go ahead, get a little nutty.

We are questioned all the time about the healthiest this or the best that.  Women in particular are looking for smart, convenient options to feed themselves and their kids. And, sure, we all know carrot sticks and hummus can be a smart, healthy snack, but there are other options that may come as a surprise…and others that you’d think would have a big red X over them, but don’t.

Nuts.  They’re tricky because they are high in fat and calories compared to other munch-worthy foods. To make sure you don’t get fooled, watch your quantity. Two preliminary behavioral nutrition studies from Eastern Illinois University found that you may be able fool yourself into feeling full by watching what you eat—literally. In one experiment, empty pistachio shells may have helped curb calories by acting as a “visual cue” of how many the subjects had eaten. Subjects in this study who left pistachio shells on their desk reduced their calorie consumption by 18 percent, compared to those who routinely removed shells throughout the day. You might look like a bit of a hoarder at your desk, but whatever works, right? Either way, we still recommend clearing it all off before heading home.

Guacamole. Like nuts, this treat from avocados is high in fat, but a super healthy one that’s good for your bod.  It’s easy to DIY: all you need is some avocado, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice. But if the thought intimidates you, Wholly Guacamole makes theirs out of nothing but pure ingredients.  Try it out as a dip for veggies, or as a sandwich topper to use in place of mayo.

Frozen Meals. These can be healthy? Yep. In an ideal world, we’d all have beautifully balanced meals on the table each night like Mrs. Cleaver.  But it’s 2013 and that’s not always realistic.  So when you are faced with choosing a frozen meal options, look for one that’s not loaded with preservatives and sodium, and has a small ingredient list. LYFE Kitchen has a new line of tasty meals, and Amy’s Kitchen and Kashi have quality options. Again, this isn’t us giving you permission to pop one of these in the microwave every week, but are they good to have on hand in a pinch? For sure.

Fast Food. We’ve told you it’s possible to do drive-thru the right way, and we’ll say it again, in case you need a gentle reminder. The key is making the best decisions with what’s available.  Subway does a good job of making that easy with the variety of menu items you’re offered, particularly when compared to many other burger or fried chicken joints. I prefer the oven roasted chicken and add spinach, tomato and olive oil.  I get the protein I’m looking for, yet it’s not fried like foods you’d find at most other quick-service restaurants.

Related: Get more nutrition and women’s health advice from Chris and Kara Mohr.

Twirl On: Celebrate National Pasta Month with Chef Fabio Viviani

Written on October 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm , by

Dig in! (Photo by Kate Sears)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Get ready to twirl that fork—it’s National Pasta Month! One of our fave comfort foods has gotten a bad rap over the years due to its heavy carb count and fat-laden toppings, but a single half-cup serving of pasta actually comes in roughly 100 calories—not so bad. It’s naturally low in fat, contains no salt or cholesterol, and serves as a good source of folic acid and iron. In light of all that, we’re here to celebrate National Pasta Month with Top Chef New York’s Fabio Viviani. He dished on his favorite healthy ways to integrate this favorite comfort food into our meals all October long.

When it comes to cooking with pasta, simple is better, says Viviani, and everyone should try making it from scratch at least once—it’s surprisingly easy and tastes far better than its boxed counterpart. Homemade pasta’s simple ingredient list—egg, flour and water—transforms into a simple dinner within minutes. You can even steal Viviani’s own Perfect Pasta recipe here.

“Fettuccini is the easiest pasta to make,” he says. Pulse eggs, flour and water in a food processor with a blade attachment for 45 seconds. Take another two minutes to roll it, and that’s it! “Just spice it up with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. It’s one of the easiest meals and one of the most delicious.”

The real trick when it comes to pasta is portion control. We all know what happens when we sit down to a huge plate full of our favorite farfalle and just dig in. But Chef Viviani has two ways of measuring spaghetti and penne to prevent that oh-so-common carb overload: “The perfect portion of dry spaghetti for an adult is the diameter of a quarter, and for dry penne, a good portion is whatever you can hold in the palm of your hand.”

Here are some other helpful—and healthy—pasta cooking tips from Chef Viviani:

Cook pasta without water. Cook it straight in the sauce from start to finish because it will absorb much more flavor. Plus, you avoid overcooking it.

“Al dente” is easier to digest. Overcooked pasta absorbs way more water, which is why it feels heavy in your stomach and takes the body longer to process.

Adjust those ingredients. For more nutrient-dense pasta, trade one egg yolk for two additional egg whites, and replace white flour with a whole-wheat version. Add water as necessary.

When it comes to the sauce, lose the salt and grab the spices. Chef Viviani likes to use paprika, saffron, black pepper and chili flakes to really zest up the flavor without adding salt or calories.

Avoid oil until the end. Instead of using extra virgin olive oil in the cooking process, add a little drizzle on top of it at the end to reap its nutritional benefits without overdoing it.

Never eat leftover pasta as is. Traditional Italians refuse to reheat and eat leftover pasta the next day because it’s overcooked. Try tossing it into a soup or using it as an ingredient in a new recipe instead.

More from FITNESS:

Easy, Healthy Pasta Recipes

8 Healthy Pasta Sauce Choices

Low-Calorie Pasta Recipes

The First Lady Wants You to Drink Up

Written on September 23, 2013 at 10:34 am , by

Drink more water for your skin, your health and your waist. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Not to be pessimistic, but when it comes to Americans, our glasses are half-empty these days–literally. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day and 7 percent drink no water at all. That’s why earlier this month FLOTUS Michelle Obama launched her Drink Up initiative to get people drinking more water and less of the sugary stuff. To get some tips on how to increase your water intake we chatted with Dr. Jenna Bell, RD. Follow her tips below and follow in the FLOTUS’ adequately hydrated footsteps:

  • Jazz it up: Not one to drink boring old tap water? Try a water enhancer like Stur, sweetened with stevia, so there’s no added calories or sugar. The coloring from each flavor comes from vegetable juice and you can control how much want in your glass with a simple squeeze.
  • Do as Diane Sawyer does: “She puts a glass of water by her bed and drinks it every morning when she wakes up, so now I do too,” says Bell. “If you’re going to take advice from anyone, take it from her because it’s clearly working!”
  • Carry a water bottle: This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it is the easiest way to keep drinking as the day goes on. Buy a reusable bottle like S’well, who is partnering with Drink Up with a limited edition bottle that gives 10 percent of proceeds back to the foundation.
  • Start meals with water: “A study in 2010 out of Virginia Tech looked at whether or not drinking water before a meal effects what we eat and weight loss. They found that two glasses of water before a meal helped shed weight and made participants eat less because water fills up your stomach,” says Bell.
  • Order water every time you order a beverage: Coffee? Get water. Wine? Get water. Not only will you stay hydrated, you’ll probably fend off a hangover in the process.

Now tell us: What tricks do you use to drink more water?

A Skinny Pasta Recipe for a Slimmer Summer

Written on May 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm , by

The perfect pasta for your first outdoor BBQ this season! (Photo courtesy Christine Avanti)

For some reason, pasta always seems to get linked to a winter comfort food. And it’s true that on a cold, blustery day a bowl of spaghetti can hit the spot, but when given the right ingredients it can make a pretty mean, lean summer dish as well. Check out this recipe below from Christine Avanti, CN, author of Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salad and Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food so you can continue your carb love affair and still sport a bikini this summer.

Simple Skinny Pasta
Makes 7 servings

Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup artichoke hearts packed in water
4 ounces mozzarella (fresh packed in water), cubed
1 cup Skinny Vine Slim Chardonnay
1 pound whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions

Directions

1. In an extra large frying pan, sauté onions, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and tomatoes in olive oil until onions being to caramelize. Deglaze pan with Skinny Vine Slim Chardonnay wine scraping all the brown bits from the pan. Add artichoke hearts and lightly sauté until artichokes are evenly distributed.
2. Add cooked pasta and fresh mozzarella and lightly toss with a set of tongs.
3. Plate and sprinkle with flat leaf parsley or basil.

Nutrition info per serving: 366 calories, 18g protein, 53g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 10g fat

 More from FITNESS: Give It a Twirl: Low-Calorie Pasta Recipes

 

4 Tips for Top-Notch Health

Written on May 16, 2013 at 3:31 am , by

Chris Mohr Fitness

Dr. Christopher Mohr, PhD RD is a nutrition spokesperson and co-founder of MohrResults.com with his wife, Dr. Kara Mohr, PhD.

I am surrounded by estrogen.

My wife and I have two daughters. We run Mohr Results Women Only Fitness Boot Camp. I am a Registered Dietitian, a profession that is 97% female. And I currently have pink toenails after our almost 4 year-old thought it would be fun to “paint daddy’s toenails like mine.”

It’s fitting, then, that I would be writing about ways to celebrate YOU — for National Women’s Health Week.  Of course, at Fitness magazine, every week is women’s health week…but now the rest of the country jumped on board and this whole week has officially been a week to celebrate YOU.

So: How do YOU celebrate YOU?

Taking care of your body from the inside out (and the outside in) is surely a great start. That means fueling your body with quality nutrients to perform at your peak, physically and mentally.  Physically, it may be at the gym and/or playing mom and chasing little ones around all day.  Mentally, it may be at the office and THEN chasing little ones around all day.

Regardless, the foods you fuel your body with can make or break you.  After all, don’t you want to have the most energy possible instead of wanting to curl up and excuse yourself from the rest of the world?

Here are 4 ways to support your health:

1. Two words: Move. More.  We are not meant to sit all day, every day.  If you work a traditional 9-5 type job, though, this is exactly what happens.

2. Hydrate. Your goal is to drink half your body weight in ounces (if you weigh 150 pounds, that is 75 ounces, or around 9 cups of water daily). Try adding some citrus fruit to water, or a splash of juice to seltzer, to make it more appealing.

3. Snack smart. Eating frequent meals can keep your energy up, curb cravings and help feed your body the fuel it needs to chase after kids, stay focused at work or whatever it may be. The key is that snacks should: 1) include some protein, 2) include healthy fats, 3) be convenient 4) include fiber (bonus!).

KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein (OMG!) is one of our faves—it has a little added protein boost, healthy fat AND 3 grams of fiber all packaged in convenient awesomeness.  These are awesome because they A) taste great, B) offer satisfying protein and fiber C) provide healthy fats.

4. Fuel Your Body with Fresh, Quality Foods.  This is an important one.  Outside of the snacks you choose, the other meals you eat are important too.  Start with a quality breakfast (eggs, oats, a homemade smoothie, or even just a piece of fruit and some nuts) and then follow it up with a quality lunch and dinner.

Now, the lunch and dinner parts can be tricky.  You’re on the go, challenged on what to eat, or maybe don’t like to cook.  The same “rules” apply for meals as they do snacks — protein + healthy fat + fiber = awesome.  For an on the go option, I love Subway’s Double Chicken Chopped Salad.

There you have it.  Four super easy, practical strategies to take care of you.  When you take care of you, you aren’t just taking better take care of everyone else, you’re also celebrating YOU.

RELATED: Get more nutrition and women’s health advice from Chris and Kara Mohr.

How Boxer Mikaela Mayer Knocks Out Cravings And Her Sexy Abs Secret!

Written on May 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm , by

Read on for her secret to knockout abs! (Photo courtesy of Frances Iacuzzi Photography)

 

Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern

Care to step into the ring with 22-year-old amateur boxer Mikaela Mayer? Chances are this former model will knock you out—figuratively and literally. In 2012, she secured the title of U.S. National Champion and brought home bronze and gold medals from the World Championships and Continental Games, respectively. The Los Angeles native was an alternate in the London Games (the first year women could compete), and has her sights set on gold in Rio. We talked training and being bikini-body ready for summer (have you seen her abs?), plus her genius secret for keeping that sweet tooth in check.

How did you discover boxing?
I signed up for Muay Thai at a gym near my house, and was practicing to keep myself busy. A few months in, I suffered a slight back injury that prevented me from kicking, so my trainer made me take boxing fights to develop my hands. Once I tried it, fell in love and never went back! I remember telling myself only two or three months in that I was going to be the best female fighter in the world.

Clearly that’s working out! How often do you train?

When I’m in camp for a tournament, it’s six days a week, two to three times a day for six weeks. It’s nothing but eat, sleep, train, repeat! The workouts will vary week to week, but it’s a mix of interval running, swimming, strength training, boxing and sparring three to four times a week.

Well, that must keep you bikini-body ready year-round, right?

Even when I don’t have major competitions coming up, working out is still a part of my everyday routine. Partly because I enjoy getting stronger and more skillful and partly because getting back in shape after you have let yourself go is too hard! So I always try to maintain. Staying in tip-top shape requires working out consistently. You can’t make excuses for skipping the gym. It needs to be a priority.

Read more

Join the Food Revolution This Month

Written on May 1, 2013 at 9:29 am , by

Who says dessert can’t be healthy? (Photo courtesy Jamie Oliver)

An interesting stat: The average U.S. elementary school child gets just about 3.4 hours of food and nutrition education a year. And with over 43 million children overweight or obese, if this epidemic continues on this road, that number will rise to 60 million by 2020. Yikes! Take a stand and join celebrity chef and food activist Jamie Oliver on May 17 for Food Revolution Day, a movement to raise awareness or funds for better food education and cooking skills in your area.

Started last year as an effort to get back to basics with healthy cooking skills, Food Revolution has racked up 1,000 events in 664 cities across 62 countries. This year, Oliver is asking individuals, schools, businesses and organizations everywhere to host or attend activities in their areas to combat obesity and health epidemics that affect more than 500 million adults worldwide. Interested? Check out foodrevolution.org for a list of events in your city, recipes and ideas on how you can host your own Food Revolution Day. Below, Oliver shared one of his favorite recipes with us, proving that getting your kids interested in healthy eating doesn’t have to be a drag.

Jamie Oliver’s Berry Ice Cream

Ingredients

1.5 pound pack of mixed frozen berries

5 ounces blueberries

3-4 tablespoons of honey

1.5 pound tub of natural yogurt

Directions

1. Get ahead by putting 4 small glasses in the freezer for a few hours, or until nicely chilled.

2. Then, get the glasses and the frozen berries out of the freezer and divide the fresh blueberries between the glasses.

3. Put the honey and yogurt into a food processor and mix, then add the frozen berries and mix again until combined. Spoon the frozen yogurt over the fresh berries and serve.

Indulge Guilt-Free Using Yonanas At-Home “Ice Cream” Machine

Written on April 30, 2013 at 1:10 pm , by

Yonanas Elite makes one of our fave guilty-pleasure treats way more nutritious. (Photo courtesy of Yonanas)

Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern

Have you scooped out your first dish of ice cream this season? If warmer temps have you jonesing for this cold and creamy dessert—hey, we’re right there with you—then check out Yonanas, an appliance that turns frozen bananas into better-for-you “ice cream.”

Here’s how it works: Pop a frozen banana into the chute, along with any mixings for your desired flavor (think strawberries, mint or dark chocolate), use the plunger to push down and let it do its thing. High-torque blades cream the fruit, so it’s ready in less than a minute and tastes like the real deal. But instead of the fat and calories often laden with the standard frozen treat, you get nutritional boosts from the fruit’s natural flavor. Talk about a tasty trade up.

Oh, and don’t forget about sprinkles—or better yet, Frinkles: freeze-dried fruit, like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, that add a bite of crunch. These all-natural toppings come in four flavors, so you can indulge your inner child wishes without worrying about your waistline.

For a bright pop of red to your kitchen appliances, opt for the Elite version ($119.99, available this summer), which boasts a quieter motor and the ability to cream every type of fruit, regardless of how frozen. For a lower price tag, you can get the original Yonanas ($49.99)—just make sure you let the fruit thaw for a few minutes before tossing in the machine.

Now you tell us: Would you make at-home ice cream?

Study Shows That Snacking Is the Key to Your Happy Weight

Written on April 22, 2013 at 11:08 am , by

Plan out your snacks in advance to stop seeing the scale bounce back and forth. (Photo courtesy of Claire Benoist)

There should be no shame in your snacking game. That’s because a recent study by The NPD Group found that 83 percent of Americans snack, and those with the healthiest lifestyles are also the ones who snack most frequently. Score! Below, we chatted with Jessica Levinson, MS, RD, CDN and founder of Nutritioulicious, a nutrition consulting and counseling practice in New York about the benefits of snacking, especially when it comes to managing your weight.

Why is snacking so important?
This is something I’ve talked to clients for years about. Snacking is what really keeps your metabolism going. Think of the analogy of wood in a fire—the more you put in, the more you burn. The same is true with eating. Skipping meals or waiting too long causes your metabolism to slow down, while also putting you at risk for overeating the next time you do sit down to eat.

Does it matter when you snack?
It is a big nutrition myth that the time of day that you eat impacts your weight. If you have a 1,600 calorie allotment for your diet and lifestyle, then what matters more is if you’ve taken in that many calories or not. Let’s say you’ve consumed 1,400 calories by the time 6:00 p.m. rolls around. Now you only have 200 calories to get you through the rest of the day (taking exercise out of the equation here, which of course gives you some of those calories back). But if you’ve only eaten 1,000 calories by 6:00 p.m. then it doesn’t matter what time you’re eating or having a late-night snack, as long as you don’t go past your daily allotment.

How can you keep your snacking portions controlled?
This is a big issue for most people, because it’s hard to stop once you start! My biggest tip is to portion out in advance at home. For example, if you like almonds portion out an ounce (23 almonds) into 5 brown bags at the beginning of the week. Then you can grab a bag for your snack every day as you walk out the door. Just bring one bag at a time; if you take the whole stash you’ll be more tempted to dig into multiple bags. There are also a ton of companies who make portion controlled snack packs. Justin’s Nut Butter is great for baby carrots or a banana or a bag of 100-calorie air popped popcorn is perfect for salt lovers. And of course, fruit! You can’t really ever overdo it on fruits and veggies. Fruit especially is a good sweet tooth fix while also quenching your thirst and filling you up since so many have a high water content.

Now tell us: What’s your healthy snack go-to?

More from FITNESS: Healthy Food Awards: The Best Snacks from the Store

 

Celeb Chef Rocco Dispirito Talks Spring Cleaning In the Kitchen, Plus One Party-Friendly Recipe!

Written on April 17, 2013 at 10:09 am , by

DiSpirito launches us into spring with tasty dishes ready for snacking.

Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern

Listen up, ladies: Triscuit’s new brown rice crackers aren’t your mother’s snack. The brand has developed delicious spins on its classic namesake snack—like sweet potato and sea salt and black pepper—that get two nutritional thumbs up from celeb chef and FITNESS advisory board member Rocco DiSpirito. The bestselling author developed three healthy, easy-to-make recipes centered around the cracker, and after sampling his culinary creations in Times Square (the turkey chili recipe below is OMG good), we chatted with DiSpirito about his cooking inspiration, eating for the season and saving calories with simple ingredient swaps.

Your Triscuit-inspired recipes were delicious! Why did you partner with the brand?

When an established food company like Triscuit/Nabisco decides they’re going to put a lot of money, time and effort to make something better for you, I’m a big fan of that decision. It’s brave because most food companies are like, “Why change it? It’s perfect, we sell a ton of food, we make a gazillion dollars, we have big homes in the Hamptons, we don’t need to do anything.” But this shows recognition that America needs healthier choices, including their snacks, and I’m proud to associate with a company that feels that way because that’s what I do every day: I try to convince Americans to make healthier choices.

What’s your main goal when developing a recipe?

My priority is to make a recipe that people can reproduce at home very easily. So I work backward from what I find in grocery stores. Every time I start a book, I go to the grocery stores and research what’s available, and that changes all the time. From the time I wrote Now Eat This to now, a lot has changed. There are a lot more healthy ingredients available, so that makes my job a little easier and more exciting. The point is to get people to try it and understand that when they cook, they’re in control, and cooking is better than buying from a restaurant. So those are my priorities: to make it super easy for people to make it at home.

How do you “healthify” a recipe?

You want to swap fats, dairy and sugar: those are the ones that are the most calorically dense.  One ounce of any of those has more calories than one ounce of vegetables, for example. For dairy, fat-free Greek yogurt is a great swap. For fats, using something like xanthan gum. So let’s say you want to make an ice-cream smoothie, but you don’t want to use any ice cream. Skim milk and xanthan gum is a great way to create that texture that you’d get from cream. And for sugar, my favorite new sweetener is monk fruit extract. It’s an amazing calorie- and sugar-free sweetener.

What are some of your go-to spring produce?

It’s ridiculous what happens in spring! I start with asparagus, which is fresh in early spring. White asparagus is one of my favorite things on the planet. I plant a garden, so I grow several kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, watermelon, cucumbers—I look forward to all of those things. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like cucumbers, you’ve never had a home-grown one. Sometimes I pick off the leaves of squash blossoms and fry the blossoms, or make a squash blossom omelet. There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Click for the mouthwatering chili recipe we sampled, then recreate at home – it’s perfect for a party!

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