Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well


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On The Road Again!

travel“On the road again…just can’t wait to get on the road again.” Surprisingly, I learned all the lyrics to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” in my 4th grade music class. For many, traveling can be disastrous when trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Long miles = fast food stops and long periods of inactivity. My husband and I are about to hit the slopes and enjoy some spring snowboarding in Colorado. The only thing that stands between us and the beautiful Rockies is a 14-hour car ride. Luckily for my husband, I have nominated myself as the road DJ, so we’ll be listening to jams from Hootie and the Blowfish, Ke$ha and Fleetwood Mac the whole way there. Okay, maybe not the whole way…but most of the way.

The best thing you can do to stay on track with your healthy habits while traveling is plan, plan, plan.

Plan your snacks. Nuts and homemade trail mixes that include dehydrated meats, dried fruits and nuts make great non-perishable snacks for long car rides. Another idea is to pack a small cooler or lunch box with items that need to be kept cool like fruit, hard-boiled eggs or cheese. Try to avoid foods of low nutritional value such as chips, pretzels and cookies.

  • Another tip: Try not to pack sweets for long car trips. We may have good intentions of practicing  portion control, but this often gets pushed aside when one is bored just sitting for hours upon hours. A friend of mine said she had packed a bunch of cookies to for a trip to Florida. They consumed all of them before they had even left Illinois.

Pack adequate fluids. Keep a cooler packed with extra water bottles so you’re not tempted to grab a soda or sweet tea during gas stops.

Plan your dining stops. My husband and I always have a discussion on types of restaurants we will stop for. This really helps if you know your menu items well. Chipotle is always a great go-to for us because we can load up on a good protein source and lots of veggies. If you are a Chipotle-goer yourself, then you know how awesome their guacamole is. The downfall is the price of it! I typically pack a small avocado and slice it on my burrito bowl to save money and load my meal with a heart healthy omega-9 fat. Other times, I’ll pack some veggies ahead of time, order a sandwich and just use the meat to put with my vegetables.

clock_MP900289613Watch the clock. Be mindful of how often you’re snacking. Sometimes we eat out of pure boredom when driving, so it’s especially important to pay attention to how often  you’re consuming your meals or snacks. If you’re eating every hour, it’s definitely not because of physical hunger cues.

Steer clear of high-calorie menu items. Watch out for high calorie meals, considering you haven’t exercised all day. Ways to cut back on calories include not ordering cheese on sandwiches, taking off one or even both buns from sandwiches, opting for salads or soup as side items instead of fries and the obvious–go with grilled menu items over breaded, fried options.


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Veggie-lious!

vegetables_MP910221091We all know vegetables are part of a healthy diet. In fact, many of my patients admit that they need to eat more vegetables. But for some reason, the majority of Americans are still not meeting their recommended daily consumption of vegetables.

  • In the United States, it is recommended that adults should consume a minimum of 2-3 cups of vegetables each day.
  • Active adults should be consuming more than this.

I always tell my patients that non-starchy vegetables are like Mother Nature’s weight control pill. They’re low in carbs, low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s a win-win-win situation. The fiber in vegetables often requires more chewing.This can help slow down your eating pace so your brain can register earlier when you are actually full. Fiber itself can also lead to higher satiety levels meaning you generally will stay full longer after consuming a fiber-rich meal. Vegetables also have a high water content. This is one of the main reasons why they are so low in calories.

  • One cup of cooked zucchini slices is a mere 30 calories!
  • One cup of cooked spaghetti noodles is over 200 calories.

They also increase the flavor of a dish whether you’re adding some sweetness from red bell peppers or a savory touch from mushrooms and garlic. Filling, delicious and low in calories-what more could you ask for?!?!

Fresh vegetables fallingTomatoes, potatoes and sweet corn are the top three vegetables consumed in the US.1 Unfortunately, white potatoes and corn are known as the starchy vegetables; they contain a higher amount of carbohydrates and calories and both have a high glycemic index. This makes them less-healthy vegetable choices, especially if one is diabetic. Another interesting fact is the form of these vegetables that are most commonly consumed. Canned tomatoes make up the largest portion of tomato consumption while frozen potatoes and corn are the forms that Americans most commonly devour. My guess is this is related to a high consumption of tomato sauce, pizza and French fries.

A recent European study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that consuming 7 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day reduces one’s risk of all-cause death (cancer, heart disease) at any point in time by 42%.2 Additionally, researchers found that fresh vegetables had the strongest positive effect with reducing overall risk of death. Fresh fruit also showed a positive effect; however it was much less than the risk reduction rate of fresh vegetables. Even though we really didn’t need a study to tell us that fruits and vegetables are healthy, this does support the concept that consuming more vegetables and fruits can help you live a longer, healthier life!

Make vegetables the priority of the meal-not the after-thought! Find out what counts as a serving size.

Also try to limit consumption of peas, corn and potatoes and focus more on dark green or bright red/orange vegetable varieties.

 

 

1.http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/detail.aspx?chartId=40452

2. http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2014/03/03/jech-2013-203500


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Trying New Things With Chicken

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a chicken recipe. We’ve been eating chicken all right, but I’ve had a handful of recipe fails lately that did not make the cut to be featured on the blog. For weeks, I have been craving a solid honey mustard chicken recipe. It took me fives tries before I came out with this one, but that didn’t stop me from continuously trying to make the perfect chicken recipe. Whether your challenge is training for a ½ marathon, making strength gains at the gym or, like me, cooking new recipes… remember, taking on any new challenge can have its own set of triumphs and letdowns. It’s important to not let those set-backs get in the way of you achieving your goal and boy, am I glad I didn’t quit. My husband has already asked me to make this recipe again since finally nailing it! It’s quick, simple and can be served by itself or prepared in a salad.

Maple Honey Mustard Chicken

photo

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup (not the generic syrup we’re most accustomed to)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp of fresh rosemary or 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Lightly season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and lay in cooking dish.
  2. Meanwhile whisk together mustard, syrup and red wine vinegar. Pour mixture over chicken breasts and cook for 30-35 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle rosemary on top of cooked chicken and serve warm.


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Revisiting your New Year’s Goals

Previously, this year, I blogged about strategies to take your New Year’s resolutions and turn them into lifelong habits. Some of those strategies discussed included making SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound), grabbing a buddy to help you along the way, not giving up too soon on your goals and sharing your journey/achievements with others. Since I am a woman of keeping my word, I am revisiting and providing updates on my goals that I established for the year 2014.

Goal #1: Consume less diet soda.

This is incredibly embarrassing to admit, but I have had at least one diet soda every day for as long as I can remember (at least 10 years, eeek!). When I was in college, I could easily consume 4-5 diet sodas/day. Since then, I have cut back to one per day; but still was unhappy with my caffeine addiction and the fact that I was consuming chemicals and sugar substitutes as a beverage. It took a lot of courage and a lot of tries, but I finally did it! I went a whole day without having any caffeine or diet soda. I did have an 8-hour headache that tempted me all day long to go to the vending machine but my persistence and will-power overcame the temptation. The second day’s headache was much more bearable and after a few days, I was completely fine. Believe me, it has been hard but I feel so much cleaner and healthier knowing that I do not need to depend on caffeine every day and more importantly that I am no longer filling my body with chemicals from the diet soda. Giving up diet soda has been a goal I have made for several years. The fact that I knew I was going to be blogging about my journey additionally motivated me to stay on track!

Goal #2: Read more and watch less TV.

I started out really well with this goal, but like most people, after a month, I reverted back to my old nighttime TV-watching habits. I found myself saying “Oh I’ll read more this summer”, but then I realized I was only pushing back my goals with the thought “someday I’ll change.” It’s important to remember that someday is not a day during the week and to start making changes, you simply need to start them today.

Goal #3: Complete a muscle-up, body weight power clean and squat 185 lbs before the end of the year.

These are all part of my fitness goals at crossfit. In order to reach strength-related goals, it’s important to have proper programming and motivating coaches. This is one of the reasons why I love my crossfit box so much. For the month of January, I was very disciplined with eating clean, good sleeping habits and stretching both at the gym and at home. While I haven’t reached my goals with my power clean and squats, I am beyond ecstatic that I did get my first muscle-up at the end of January! Performing a muscle-up was something I really never thought I would achieve because it requires so much skill and upper body strength. Knowing now that anything is possible with hard work and dedication will help me continue to set high goals for myself.

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Spring is a perfect time to reflect on your own habits and see how well they are fitting into a healthy lifestyle. Maybe you started out on the right foot but then fell off track a bit. With Springfield Clinic’s Illinois Product’s Farmers Market starting back up and warmer weather, this is the perfect opportunity to revisit some of your old goals and make some new ones!

 


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Dietitian and Husband Approved!

img_3802If you’re like me and need a go-to recipe that’s quick, easy and doesn’t take many ingredients —then this one is for you! This recipe takes a healthy spin on a classic dish.It’s gluten-free and packed with tons of vegetable servings and lean protein.It’s perfect to make on Sunday afternoons and use as lunches for throughout the week  or enjoy it with a large group of people.

Baked Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1-2 lbs of lean ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, diced
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I used an organic garlic and herb tomato sauce)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp dried basil

1. Pre-heat oven to 425oF.Cut off one of the ends of the spaghetti squash. Lay the cut end down on cutting board and cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and lay flat sides down on baking dish. Cook for 30-40 minutes until tender and squash threads easily with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until onions become translucent. Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink and internal temperature of 165oF is reached. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drain excess liquid and set aside.

3. Once spaghetti squash is done, use a fork to scoop out the threads into a large casserole serving dish. Add turkey and onions, mushrooms, sauce and basil and mix evenly. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs together and then mix into spaghetti squash mixture. Stir until eggs are no longer visible.

4. Reduce oven to 350oF and cook mixture for 60-75 minutes or until top layer has slightly hardened over. Serve warm and enjoy!


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Green All Over!

20 Ways to Enjoy Something Green This St. Patty’s Day!

This St. Patrick’s Day try to add some healthy green into your diet!

Here are 20 ways to add something green on your plate and make a healthy choice.

1. Add spinach into a veggie omelet.

2. Scramble eggs and top with fresh salsa and diced avocado for a fiesta start to the day.

3. Throw some baby kale leaves into your favorite smoothie.

4. Swap sugar snap peas as a crunchy snack instead of chips.

imgres5. Order a side of steamed broccoli instead of fries with lunch.

6. Mix chopped green grapes and celery with grilled chicken, chopped almonds and some mayo for a fresh chicken salad.

7. Cut cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions and mix with 1 oz feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette for a light side dish.

8. Grab a jar of basil pesto and spread on 3 chicken breasts. Cook at 375oF for 30-35 minutes.

9. Add spinach leaves instead of regular lettuce to your salads or on sandwiches.

10. Top a bison burger with guacamole instead of cheese.

11. Roast asparagus in the oven or out on the grill. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

12. Make veggie kabobs with zucchini slices, mushrooms, onions and green peppers. Marinade in Italian dressing over night before grilling.

13. Sauté fresh green beans with onions, shallots, garlic with fresh lemon juice and garnish with lemon zest.

14. Top salads with marinated artichokes, green peppers, dried cranberries and diced avocado.

15. Make turkey stuffed green peppers.

celery-peanutbut_rgb16. Spread some peanut butter on celery for a healthy snack.

17. Make a fruit salad with cut up kiwi, green grapes, strawberries and pineapple.

18. Freeze green grapes and consume for a cold, sweet snack.

19. Slice a green apple and dip in almond butter.

20. Sauté sugar snap peas with carrots, zucchini and mushrooms for some delicious stir-fry veggies.


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Start Making Healthy Changes Now

Woman Tying Measuring Tape Around Her WaistI am not an advocate for “quick fixes” like weight loss supplements, juice cleanses and the like. While quick fixes may result in fast weight loss, these results are only temporary and chances are, your depressed metabolism will cause you to rapidly gain the weight back…and then some. Seven-day or 21-day weight loss plans typically instruct you to drastically cut caloric intake and often severely limit the variation of food in your diet. Once these week-long or month-long fast diets are over with, most people resume their previous eating habits and unfortunately circle right back to square one with their weight loss efforts.

What’s unfortunate is these quick diet plans do not teach you how to eat for the long-run. You can’t drink a “body by Vi” shake forever; eventually you’re going to have to learn how to make real food for your meals. Research has shown that a multitude of different diets such as low-calorie/low-fat, high-fat/low-carb, Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet, paleo dietetc., can all help individuals lose weight. Sometimes, losing weight is not the problem; it’s keeping the weight off. This fact stresses the importance of lifelong habits that one must take on, not quick diet fixes, in order to maintain their weight loss efforts. Here are some “quick” healthy changes that you can make today and turn into lifelong habits.

1. Start your day with protein. Breakfast is the most commonly missed meals reported by Americans of all ages. And when we think of breakfast, we typically think of a large bowl of sugary-sweetened cereal and a tall glass of orange juice. Breakfast meals high in these simple sugars can lead to a quick drop in energy come 9:00 a.m. Try to find ways to incorporate more protein with your breakfast meal. Add nuts into oatmeal, make a veggie omelet or pair fruit with high-protein Greek yogurt.

imgres2. Switch to water. Water is essential to one’s health and its benefits far surpass the simple purpose of hydration. Drinking more water is a habit I have been working on for quite some time now and it’s really sticking. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I previously was consuming about 4 diet sodas per day. To wean myself off of the diet soda, I would tell myself for every soda I consumed, I would have to drink a bottle of water. Now I keep a water bottle with me at all times so there are no excuses for not drinking enough water.

3. Stop serving multiple starches with meals. This is an easy fix that will help you naturally control your carbohydrate intake with your meals and make them more well-rounded. Our typical American western diet revolves around meat, potatoes, bread or some other starch like noodles and rice or corn and peas with most of our meals. Begin your meals by choosing a healthy lean protein, add one starch (preferably a healthy starchy vegetable like sweet potatoes or butternut squash) and fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruit, if preferred.

4. Bring your own snacks to work. It seems almost every week, someone brings in a new “Pinterest-inspired” sweet treat to share with everyone at work. Sure, these decadent treats look great, but consuming these items regularly as snack choices can lead one to a spike in blood sugar followed by a drop in energy. Plan ahead and make sure you always have healthy, nutrient-dense snacks packed with you for your workday. If you feel bad about turning down your co-worker’s cheesecake bites, you can politely decline by saying you had already packed an apple with almond butter for your snack today. Or a simple, “No thanks, but thanks for asking,” always does the trick too!

exercise_02F026015. Exercise. Daily physical activity is one of the most important keys for a healthy metabolism and weight management. It’s time to put the “excuse book” away and start moving today.


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Keep an Open Mind

 

photoOne thing I have been trying to work on is being more open to recipe ingredients I am less familiar with. When I first looked at this recipe, my immediate reaction was “fennel seeds?…next please.” It’s a good thing I am overcoming my fears, because this chicken dish was a burst of citrus, fresh air for these cold snowy winter days.

I used the leftover lemon for my haricot verts (basically fresh green beans) and this became one of my new favorite side dishes. Haricot verts are a low-cost, low-carb side dish that goes well with any entrée!

Chicken and Haricot Verts with a Lemony Twist 

For the Chicken:

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 chicken breasts


For the Haricot Verts:

  • 1 lb of fresh green beans/haricot verts (I use a 1 lb bag of haricot verts from Sam’s Club)
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Mix first 5 ingredients for chicken recipe together in a small bowl. Pour ingredients over chicken and coat evenly.

2. Place chicken in oven and cook 30-35 minutes.

3. While chicken is cooking, place steamable bag of haricot verts into microwave and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add shallots, garlic and onion. Sautee for a few minutes until onions and shallots become tender, but do not brown.

5. Add steamed haricot verts to skillet and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir into mixture for a couple minutes and serve warm. Optional–you can garnish this dish with chopped almonds or tomatoes.


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The Biggest Loser’s Big Surprise

Alright, I’ll admit it! Since blogging about my concerns with the Biggest Loser’s methods last year, I eventually succumbed to the entertainment aspect of the show and actually watched the rest of the entire season. The season finale, the ultimate climax of the show, recently aired revealing the dramatic changes contestants achieved during their stay at the ranch and at home. The show certainly delivered its shares of oos and ahhs but the most jawRachel- BIGGEST LOSERdropping reaction occurred when contestant Rachel Frederickson (this season’s winner) stepped out on stage revealing her shocking transformation. Rachel started the competition at 260 pounds and through the course of the show achieved a weight loss of 155 pounds. This made her finale weight a fragile 105 pounds. The show originally aired on  October 15, 2013; however this was not live at the time so she lost 59.62% of her body weight over the period of 7 months (per interview with the TODAY show). According to online sources, Rachel is 5’4” which gives her a new BMI of 18.0. A healthy BMI is recognized as 18.5-24.9. Her ideal body weight is actually around 120 pounds.

There has been an uproar on social media over her unhealthy finale appearance. To be honest, I feel bad for her. For years, Rachel has struggled with being overweight and now critics are attacking her for being too thin. The Biggest Loser is great for a multitude of reasons but it also has a dark, scary side that often doesn’t make it on camera or in the news. I have had several patients proclaim to me “I just want to lose 10 lbs in a week like the people on the Biggest Loser do.” This is one of the main reasons the show can promote unhealthy ideals about weight loss. Past contestants have come forward stating that their “weekly” weigh-ins were often never just a week.

Others have reported that they manipulated their weigh-ins by dehydrating themselves. This is a common tactic used by body builders, wrestlers and other athletes in order to make a low “weigh-in” for an event/competition.

the-biggest-loser-bob-harper-jillian-michaels-rachel-frederickson-reaction-nbc

Rachel’s story is a very common one. Sometimes when individuals begin losing weight, an obsession takes over and many people become fearful of gaining the weight back. This can lead to dangerously low caloric intake levels and patterns of over-exercising. Exercise should help make your body stronger, not break it down. Yes, cutting back on calories can help weight loss occur faster, but taking in too few of calories also presents its own set of complications. The body has unique defense mechanisms when too few calories are consumed. One of the most noticeable functions is amenorrhea ( the absence of a period) Women have a menstrual cycle because their bodies are preparing for potential conception. When a woman doesn’t have a period (in the case of low body weight), this is the body’s way of testifying that it is not in a healthy state to support the growth of another life . Women also have the increased risk of osteopenia with low body weights. Additional symptoms of prolonged low-calorie intake may include head hair loss and lanugo (growth of fine hair on body), dry skin, brittle nails, irregular heartbeats, impaired temperature regulation, constipation and even cognitive impairment.

A unique way to illustrate our caloric needs is to show where those nutrients go. Below is an illustration for the average college female and male’s needs. These are examples of baseline needs to sustain life if an individual were to sleep for 24 hours. When you factor in being awake, activities of daily living and exercise, one’s calorie needs can greatly increase.

 

 

Female

Male

Heart

12%

168

216

Kindey

12%

168

216

Liver

23%

322

414

Brain

23%

322

414

Skeletal Muscle

30%

420

540

 

Total

1400

1800


Healthy eating can be defined many ways. I like to think of healthy eating as consuming foods that are highly nutritious for the body most of the time while still allowing for a little “fun” in food choices . Healthy eating is eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Healthy eating is trusting your body and metabolism and knowing that you will not be punished for having a small indulgence from time to time. Before you quickly judge Rachel and her appearance on the Biggest Loser’s finale, consider the unrealistic ideals of weight loss she has been surrounded by, most notably the pressure to lose as much weight as possible with each weigh-in on the show. She will have a long journey ahead of her overcoming some of the psychological problems associated with rapid weight loss, and finding what a true healthy weight and healthy lifestyle she can maintain in the “real world”. 
 

Photo Credit : UsWeekly, Biggest Loser


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Chicken For All Ages

photoChicken nuggets and chicken tenders are food favorites for people of all ages. The downfall for these menu items is that they are breaded and fried and rank low in nutritional value. Even if you bake these items, remember that they were originally fried and then flash frozen to preserve freshness. Keeping up with my goal of exploring a new chicken recipe each week, I found this healthy and gluten-free alternative. Instead of using exact measurements when seasoning the chicken, I simply coated each piece of meat evenly with the spices.

Coconut Dusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce
3-4 chicken breasts

Salt

Pepper

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder

Smoked Paprika

Ground Cumin

2 eggs

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup almond flour

Honey Mustard Sauce

5 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375oF. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Season each chicken breast evenly with spices. Meanwhile, combine coconut and almond flour in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk both eggs together.

2. Once seasoned, dip each chicken breast in egg mixture and then dip into coconut mixture. Make sure each side is coated evenly.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes. (The thicker your chicken breasts are, the longer time is needed to cook thoroughly.) These will not brown up like regular chicken tenders. If this is desired, then cook an additional couple minutes under the broiler setting.

4. While chicken is cooking, whisk together the honey mustard sauce ingredients and set aside.

5. Serve with your favorite vegetable side dish. I chose mashed garlic cauliflower garnished with chives with a mixed green salad.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.paleonewbie.com/recipe-entree/paleo-chicken-strips-honey-mustard-sauce-recipe/

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