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A Low-Cal Recipe to Celebrate National Taco Day

Written on October 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm , by

Good for your heart and your taste buds! (Photo courtesy of Los Felz)

Yes, you read that right. Today is National Taco Day! To celebrate, we squeezed our way into the kitchen at Los Feliz in New York City to get a skinny version of one of our favorite party foods. Try this yummy fish taco recipe Chef Julieta Ballesteros shared with us for all the taste and half the calories.  Plus, check out some healthy ingredient substitutes to use below for any recipe to make your taco healthier.

Ingredient Swaps for a Healthier Taco:

  • Try corn tortillas, they are lighter than flour shells.
  • Adding fish in tacos instead of beef will give you a great source of protein while being low in fat.
  • Spices like adobo give flavor to your food without packing on extra calories.
  • Beans are a great source of minerals and vitamins.
  • Chiles can suppress your appetite, making you feel fuller faster.

Read on for Chef Ballesteros recipe for fish tacos.

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Skip the Salt: Healthy Alternatives to Please Your Taste Buds

Written on August 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm , by

Stick to just a pinch of salt and reap the health benefits. (Photo courtesy of Peter Ardito)

I love to cook, and thanks to my Italian mother I often use measurements like “five healthy shakes” instead of exact amounts. So when making dinner for a friend that’s on a low sodium diet this weekend, (my “five healthy shakes” would probably max out her sodium intake for the next year) I came to a realization — salt is everywhere, especially in my kitchen!

It’s no secret that a majority of Americans crave all things salty. In fact, this ABC News article reports that companies like Campbell’s are adding more salt to their Harvest Select soups after consumers complained they were too bland. With health experts telling us to avoid excess salt, and companies adding more into processed foods, what’s a girl to do?

I tested out some salt substitutes to see if I could live without my beloved salt shaker. Below, some of the things I tried and how my taste buds fared.

  • Lemon juice: I used this on almost everything I would normally salt, like pasta, chicken, and veggies. Not only did I find a new condiment I’m obsessed with, I didn’t miss my usual salty taste one bit.
  • Vinegar: A quick lesson learned, a little bit of this goes a long, long way. Add to potato salads, regular leafy salads, and raw veggies.
  • Spices: Another tasty substitute, I swapped out garlic salt for rosemary and oregano when making homemade tomato sauce. Not only did the sauce taste basically the same, I finally put my spice rack to good use!

Now tell us: What do you use to substitute salt when you cook?

Celebrate National French Fries Day—the Healthier Way!

Written on July 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm , by

Bake up some "fries!"

Bake up some "fries!"

July 13 may just seem like another day on the calendar, maybe just a regular Wednesday in the middle of summer. But did you know that it’s also National French Fries Day?

Lately, the potato has been vilified after being singled out as one of the most common dietary component of folks who gained weight during a recent study by Harvard researchers. Here at FITNESS, we appreciate moderation and think that there are plenty of ways to incorporate the starchy root vegetable into a healthy, balanced diet.

In honor of the holiday, here are a couple of our favorite fry makeovers. OK, we admit they’re not “fried” but they sure look and taste like your favorite drive-thru side dish!

Crunchy Baked French Fries

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 medium baking potatoes (1 1/2 pounds total), scrubbed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; brush with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
  2. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining olive oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle potato wedges with salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 12 minutes. Turn potatoes; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes more or until tender and golden.

Nutrition facts per serving (serves 4, 8 wedges each): 155 calories, 6 g. fat (1.5 g. saturated)

My personal favorite? Fat-Free Fries. Who says that sweet potatoes don’t count?

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  1. Cut sweet potatoes into quarters; cut each quarter lengthwise into 4 wedges. Arrange on a baking pan misted with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine spices; sprinkle over potatoes.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, or until potatoes are brown and tender, turning once.

Nutrition facts per serving (serves 4): 76 calories, o g. fat

Before you dip, check out which condiments are the healthiest!

Now tell us: Which food do you think should have its own holiday and why?

Alternatives to Peanut Butter (and How to Make Them at Home!)

Written on July 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm , by


Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Mmm, peanut butter. It has that ideal balance between sweet and salty, making it the perfect companion for everything from whole grain toast to celery sticks. And it’s an inexpensive source of protein and good-for-you monounsaturated fats. Generations of kids have gotten through the school day fueled by peanut-butter sandwiches and a carton of milk—you were probably one of them!

But what about the other nut butters out there? How about spreads made from almonds, cashews, and even seeds like sunflower? As an alternative to the old standby, consider these other products most easily found in gourmet, natural and/or organic grocery stores:

Almond butter: Like peanuts, almonds are a source of monounsaturated fats.

Cashew, pistachio or hazelnut butter: Like the nuts themselves, these butters are rich and slightly sweet. They make good additions to Indian curries or Mediterranean dishes.

Macadamia nut butter: Also rich and sweet, this type of nut butter is typically used with chocolate or fruit spreads, in desserts, or sweet snacks.

Seed butters: Pumpkin and sunflower seeds can be ground into a smooth paste and used like nut butter; both contain beneficial nutrients like zinc, iron and potassium. Tahini, made of ground sesame seeds, is a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine.

Unfortunately, truly natural butters are more expensive than most mainstream brands, which often contain additional ingredients (sweeteners, oils, etc). If you can find fresh-ground or grind-your-own nut butters (natural foods grocers carry them), you’ll find that the price per pound is somewhere in between major brands and natural, minimal-ingredient butters.

If you really want to cut the cost of buying nut or seed butter by the jar–while knowing exactly what’s going into your nut butter–consider making your own at home! Keep reading for a homemade nut butter recipe… Read more

Fit Blogger We Love: FANNEtastic Food

Written on June 30, 2011 at 8:34 am , by

Anne holding her medal after completing the DC National Half Marathon!

We admire this runner and foodie’s recent big life change: quitting her cubicle job to move to Europe and then back to the U.S. to become a registered dietitian. Her blog features photos of healthy food that’ll make you drool and gorgeous scenery that’ll make you want to pack your bags for your own adventure! Here’s more about this soon-to-be R.D.:

I’m happiest when I’m: Outside! Hiking, running, biking, swimming, walking…you name it! If it’s outdoors, I probably love it.

My fave fit snack: Greek yogurt with fruit, my Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Granola Bars or my 5-Minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars!

Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: I have a very random mix of music on my computer, and sometimes old school Disney movie songs come on. I’ve definitely rocked out to “Hakuna Matata” before while running. I may or may not still know all the words.

Olympic sport I’d love to try: Probably something super random like synchronized swimming, just to see what it was like. I have a feeling it would be a lot harder than it looks…

My “I Did It” Moment: Finishing my first half-marathon! Not only had I trained hard, but it was also approximately 1,000 billion degrees that day so finishing was an even bigger accomplishment than I had anticipated! I’ve since gone on to run a second half-marathon (and knocked nearly 15 minutes off my time due to better training and race day conditions), but I’m not sure anything will top the relief and pride I felt crossing the finish line that first time.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Tell us in the comments below.

Fit Links: Celebrating Summer with Yoga, Strawberries and a Hammock

Written on June 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm , by

Maybe it's time to invest in a hammock. (Photo by Sarah Kehoe)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Best and Worst Cookout Foods

Written on June 2, 2011 at 9:15 am , by

grill and cookout foods

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Summer is here, and that means outdoor parties and cookouts with friends and family! But if you’re trying to eat healthier, it can seem hard to find good choices at the picnic table. You don’t have to hide out until September just to resist temptation, though. Use this guide to choose food that’s light, healthy and refreshing at any backyard blowout.

Burgers ‘n Dogs
Hamburgers and hot dogs don’t have to be a diet disaster. Start with a 100% whole wheat bun instead of white for a healthy dose of fiber, and watch the fat content of the meat. The average beef and pork hot dog contains about 180 calories and 17 grams of fat before you add a bun and toppings. Turkey dogs are tasty and won’t sabotage your diet—you can have two of them for less than 100 calories. If you’re going for a burger, stay away from the high-fat toppings like cheese, mayo and bacon. Choose cheese slices made with skim milk to reduce the fat content and load your burger with mustard and fresh veggies instead. Here’s the burger ‘n dog breakdown:

Worst Better Best
Hamburger patty (4 oz)

290 calories

22g fat

Turkey burger patty (4 oz )

160 calories

9g fat

Veggie burger patty (2.5 oz)

110 calories

4 grams of fat

Bratwurst (4 oz)
300 calories

25g fat

Beef hot dog (2 oz)

180 calories

17g fat

Turkey dog (2 oz)

45 calories

5g fat

Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms

150 calories

13g fat

Cheese, lettuce, tomato,
onion, pickles, ketchup, mayo and mustard

131 calories

9g fat

Lettuce, tomato, ketchup, pickles and mustard

25 calories

0g fat

Buttered bun

160 calories

6.5g fat

Whole wheat bun

110 calories

1.5g  fat

A lettuce leaf

5 calories

0g fat

Chips, Salads & Sides
If potato salad is your downfall, make your recipe healthier by leaving the skins on the potatoes (for more fiber and nutrients) and choose nonfat Greek-style yogurt instead of mayo. Make creamy cole slaw more waist-friendly by reducing the fat in the dressing by swapping plain low-fat yogurt for half the mayo. Baked beans are usually a good choice, but opt for vegetarian varieties that aren’t made with bacon, if possible. If you want to avoid the creamy salad temptations completely, fill your plate with fresh grilled vegetables. Spray chunks of red peppers, yellow squash, zucchini and eggplant with canola oil spray and grill them on the barbecue. Add freshly ground pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar for extra punch.

When it comes to dips, look for vegetable and fruit-based choices like guacamole (made from avocado fruit) and salsa (made from tomatoes and veggies). These pack healthy nutrients that creamy dips often don’t.

Worst Better Best
Potato salad (1/2 cup)

179 calories

10.3g fat

Cole slaw (1/2 cup

150 calories

8g fat

Vegetarian baked beans (1/2 cup)

100 calories

1g fat

Ranch dressing (2 Tbsp)

180 calories

18g fat

Guacamole (4 Tbsp)

100 calories

8g fat

Salsa (1/2 cup)

60 calories

0g fat

Potato or tortilla chips (1 oz)

150 calories

10g fat

Pretzels (1 oz)

110 calories

2g fat

Raw vegetables (1 oz)

16 calories

0g fat

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Fit Links: Better Burgers and Music To Go Gaga For

Written on May 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm , by

Photo by Joseph Deleo

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Fit Blogger We Love: The Fitnessista

Written on May 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm , by

We’ve got to admit, The Fitnessista‘s appetizing food photos never fail to catch our attention when we scroll through our RSS feed. This week, we chatted with Gina, the personal trainer, group fitness instructor and girly-girl behind the blog, about dry shampoo (AKA post-gym lifesaver), workout mantras and yummy snacks she likes to call “Amazeballz.”

Gina, The Fitnessista

Gina, The Fitnessista

I’m happiest when I’m: Dancing! Any type of dance or dance fitness: jazz, hip hop, Zumba, Dance Trance and dance cardio are my favorites, but I’m just as happy shaking it in my living room. It’s one of those workout gems where you forget you’re actually “working out” and burn a crazy amount of calories. Winner winner!

My fave fit snack: Amazeballz! These are high protein snacks that taste just like dessert. Amazeballz contain many of my favorite ingredients and are perfect to stash in your purse for grab-and-go. You can find the recipe here.

5 things I can’t live without: 1) My husband (aka “The Pilot”) and maltipoo, Bella, 2) Sun Warrior vanilla protein powder, 3)  Lululemon Cool Racerback tanks, 4) almond butter (Nuttzo peanut-free rocks my world), 5) Buxom eyeliner.

My fitness mantra: “Change creates change.” You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Anything you can do to switch up your workout routine or eating habits will keep the body from kicking into cruise control. Change something and change will follow.

My gym bag must-have: Dry shampoo! As a fitness professional, I teach quite a few times each day and don’t always have time to shower in between- sad, but reality. Dry shampoo has saved my life! I’ll spray a little to my roots (Ojon is my fave brand) and comb through, and then blowdry the wet parts. It gets me through the day without feeling like a greaseball.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Tell us in the comments below.

Fit Links: Conquering Peer Pressure

Written on May 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm , by

Photo by Sarah Kehoe

This week’s fit links from around the web: