Salad Bar Strategies

salad-bar

 

I heard a news story come on the other day that caught my attention. The announcer was rattling off “come back and see how salad bars can be diet sabotage.”

My first thought was… “Seriously? everyone knows what a nutritional trap those are” but then it was followed by the thought that, no, not everyone who is in the world is aware that salad bars can be the total downfall for their nutritional goals.

People with the best of intentions wanting to make better nutritional choices fall into a quagmire at the salad bar.

But first, let us also establish this. Straight up… not all salad bars are created equal. If all you’re offering me is iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, shaved carrots, some mushy looking tomatoes, with dessert offerings of bland chocolate and vanilla pudding, I’m totally passing it by.

You know what I’m talking about… you’ve seen those too 😉

I remember a couple years ago being with my husband at a popular deli restaurant which also happened to have an amazing salad bar. At this point in my health and fitness journey I had already figured out what to leave behind and what to load on my plate. A woman walked by our table with, I think? a salad, I couldn’t be sure it was covered in a sea of creamy white dressing . I could see no visible vegetables.

I wanted to jump up and yell “Salad intervention!!” so very bad but my husbands restraining hand kept me in my chair. ( Nah, not really. I can honestly behave when I have to 😉

I did want to tell her… “do you know how many calories and fat you have on that plate in just dressing alone??” or that you could’ve made a much better choice having a sandwich with lean meats and veggies, and probably even some chips for less calories?

First lesson in salad bar strategies: Watching out for those dressings. Ranch which is one of the most popular has  73 calories per tablespoon with 94% of those calories being fat calories.

Let that breathe over you for a second….

1 tablespoon. Have you measured out 1 tablespoon? it’s nothing.  Yet most people use far more than that . All those calories for dressing.

ranch
Each bowl containing 1 tablespoon

 

And not just Ranch, dressings in general are a nightmare. Opt for light vinaigrette, oil and vinegar or even dressings that might be more reduced fat ( although I think those are gross and would rather do without) if you really want Ranch, portion into a small container and dip your fork in the dressing before you grab some salad.

Second Lesson: Avoid all those pre-made salads. You know, the kinds made with mayo  or unidentifiable oils? This loads up the calories.

Third Lesson:  Beware of toppings. Croutons, bacon bits ( which most of the time aren’t even real bacon),  and other assorted items people pile on, again, not realizing  a tablespoon or two is a lot of calories.

Fourth Lesson: Beware hidden sugars.  Fruit served on salad bars is often served in heavy sugary syrup. Also watch for dried fruits which although not overall bad pack lots of calories. Always look for fruit served in it’s more natural form.

So you’re reading this thinking… “Well, super awesome! What exactly CAN I have??”

I’ll tell you. Let’s build it from the bottom up so that your salad bar trip really is good for you.

Grab your plate and layer it with lettuce. And by that I mean, the dark green leafy kind. If you know anything about me then you might know I have little use for Iceberg lettuce. It’s just so…boring… and has virtually no nutritional value compared to the darker kinds.

However, if that’s all that’s offered then you don’t have a choice. Even better? If they have fresh spinach, mix some of that with your lettuce. For me now days, spinach has become my lettuce for salads.

So once you get your lettuce/spinach in place, feel free to add any colorful veggies onto your plate. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, broccoli… you get it. Whatever fresh colorful veggies are offered, take them.

Veggies are your friend 😉

Once you get that built, you want to consider whatever lean protein is available. Select enough that is roughly the size of a deck of  cards. Hard boiled eggs can also be included with meat.

Then you look for “healthy” fats… avocado, nuts, cheese, olives etc. Select these sparingly, like golf ball size amount.

If you want a few “extras” on top, croutons or seeds or whatever floats your boat, do it mindfully.

Finally, when you have your colorful, fresh looking salad prepared, if you want some type of dressing, assess that carefully. As mentioned earlier, a single tablespoon full can pack a whopping amount of calories and fat to your healthy built salad.

Consider servings of dressings in marble sizes. Meaning, go sparingly.

Following a few simple tricks, and knowing what to avoid, will let you have a healthy, satisfying and nutrient dense meal without piling on tons of empty calories 🙂

Tell me, do you have any healthy tricks or tips you use at the salad bar?

Snacks, Treats, And Weight Loss

snacks[1]

Peanut M&M’s. French fries. Homemade chocolate cake. BBQ potato chips. Homemade sugar cookies with powdered sugar frosting. Apple pie. Sweettarts.

Kinda sounds like a menu for PMS, doesn’t it ?

Actually, those are some of my most favorite treats.

I remember sharing in a Facebook post one time about my craving and subsequent consumption of some Peanut M&M’s and someone commented they were so happy I was “normal” and that I had shared that. Meaning I didn’t live off of a steady diet of nothing but veggies and nuts 😉

Yes, I’m a fit woman, and yes, I still enjoy treats.

I think that’s one of the things that’s really important when you start working on losing weight and getting into a healthier lifestyle… that you don’t set yourself up for deprivation and serious restriction from all things you love.

Now hold on… I’m not saying  freely indulge in treats whenever…it’s about learning  balance.

I think that’s what allowed me to be successful in my weight loss journey. Well, there’s a few things but this specific one we’re talking about today is treats.. things we love… and things by darn, we wanna have when the mood hits us.

As I developed my own plan to successfully lose weight one thing I mentally determined was that nothing was “forbidden”, “bad” or “off limits”.

Now you might be thinking… “whoa… like then you’d go off the deep end and eat everything!”

No. ‘Cause I’m not dumb.

But it did remove ( for me) all power of food. If nothing was forbidden, it had no tempting power. It knew all food was available (IF) I wanted something.

It was important to me that I could still enjoy celebrations and those things that make life…enjoyable. I wasn’t going to be one of those poor people at a family gathering looking miserable in a corner not having what everyone else was because I was “dieting”.

No way.

So I began my slow journey. Some nights, I desperately wanted something chocolate. I found a few Hershey Kisses, savored, met that need but didn’t sink the work of my day.

If there was a birthday party I allowed myself a small piece of cake. If I didn’t want the cake, I took some ice cream. Sometimes, a little of both.

If I wanted a burger and fries, I had them.

Mind you, this wasn’t often, but when I did want it I had it.

My mental mantra looking at foods, especially treats, was “does this support my health and fitness goals?”

I learned to find balance on my journey to get leaner.

I also learned to be super selective about what I would put in my mouth. As in… “Do I REALLY love this? Or is something that doesn’t do so much for me?”

Learning to really assess what’s important to you is a huge step to controlling the random “treats” you might consume.

For me it works like this…

Things I can pass up and/or don’t tempt me:

Store bought sheet cakes with that greasy frosting.

Pretty much any store bought cookie.

Cakes made with a mix.

Cokes.

Almost anything sold in a gas station.

Things that are totally worthy of eating:

My homemade three layer chocolate cake

Ice cream with nuts.

Amazing sugar cookies I make during the holidays that have  butter and cream cheese in the dough.

Homemade cinnamon rolls.

French fries.

Obviously, there are other things on both lists. What I want you to begin to do is really think about your own list of “things not worth eating” and “things worth eating”. When you begin to get really selective about what matters to you, and what doesn’t, you are making forward progress.

Not everything out there needs consumption. And really, if you totally don’t love it, why eat it ?  Don’t mindless shove whatever is around in your mouth… especially if it’s something not so important.

Those treats, whether they are things we eat or drink can wreak havoc on our attempts to lose weight.  Being aware is crucial to your success. It’s entirely easy to go through a day and think you really don’t have that many “extras”. But if you’re having trouble making the scale move, a serious assessment of those other foods will help see where the weak places are in your day and week.

Writing down all extra snacks and food will give a look at your snacking habits. This isn’t to beat you up or make you feel bad, but to help you gain awareness of where extra calories come in that are hindering your weight loss progress.

Have a handful of chips? Write it down. Glass of wine? Yep, write it down. A couple Reeses Peanut Butter cups? Creamer in your coffee? Sugar?

Write everything.

You’ve got it. No matter how big or small, write it down. Do it for 2 weeks. Be honest. This is all about awareness.

At the end you might be able to see habits or patterns you need to work on. Then, you can begin to also have your list of “worthy to eat snacks” and ” not so worthy to eat snacks”

Doing this, and getting real with yourself in this area will have positive long term benefits for your health and fitness journey.

And you’ll find you really can have your cake and eat it too 😉

Have you made intentional choices on being picky with your favorite snacks or treats? How has that effected your weight loss?

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Yogurt, Sugar, And Your Health

Greek yogurt
Ok so a food rant….
Like many trends in food, I watch and notice things.
This recent observation of mine, Greek yogurt. It’s been around for awhile now but it’s been getting more hype and as food companies go, they all want to get in on the market, well cash in on it, let’s be honest.
A year or so ago I did my own personal review on a few popular brands of Greek yogurts. ( you know I love being a Guinea Pig 😉
Honestly, there wasn’t such a vast amount of it on the market then.
But one day (recently) they had a different brand on sale… which I was looking at… then saw it had 32 grams of sugar in it’s tiny little carton! Eek. For yogurt? no thanks.
Now the companies are wanting to capture the consumer with the whole “Greek yogurt” hype but they are making them with “add ins” and other stuff and the calorie and sugar content for a little carton is ( in my opinion) ridiculous.
If I want that much sugar, I’ll have a piece of chocolate cake.
In many cases you might as well forget the health benefits of it being Greek yogurt with all the added sugar, candies, granola, chocolate chunks, “fruit” etc the are putting in it.
On a healthy level, Greek yogurt without all that stuff is a wonderful high quality, hunger satisfying, protein packed food. Not only that it’s loaded with the “good” bacteria your system thrives on.
My current “go to” is Chobani non-fat plain Greek yogurt. With only 130 calories for a cup and a whopping 22grams of protein with 6 grams of sugar it’s a breakfast staple for my mornings I eat while I’m getting ready. I add in whatever fresh fruit I have on hand ( lately it’s been blackberries 🙂 I toss in some raw almonds ( more protein) and it makes a satisfying quick breakfast that is loaded with protein and minimal sugar. ( ok we’ll talk more on protein in another post and why you should have a decent amount of it in your daily intake)
With sugar in almost every product we buy how can you determine what’s the good kind of sugar ( naturally occuring and offers some health benefits like what’s found in fruits, dairy etc) and what has added sugar?
Try this to figure out how much sugar is added to a product with naturally occuring sugars… like milk or yogurt…. compare the nutrition label of a plain version with that of a flavored.
For example, 8 ozs of low-fat milk has 13 grams of sugar ( in the form of lactose) . The same amount of low-fat chocolate milk has 24 grams of sugar, subtract the 13 grams of lactose and you’re left with 11 grams of added sugar to that product.
Take control of your health and be aware of how much sugar is added into the products you consume. If sugars are listed in the top five ingredients it’s letting you know a big portion of that product contains sugar. Consider if you really need it.
Greek yogurt on it’s own is a wonderful, healthy protein and dairy source.  Being mindful of added sugars in the products you eat is a big step to success in a healthy lifestyle and weight loss.
Do you like Greek yogurt? Do you prefer plain or mixed with fruit or other stuff? Do you have variations you use if you like plain yogurt?

Sugar, Spice And Everything Nice

Stylized_granulated_sugarSugar. Oh yeah,  I’m going there. But wait… I’m not coming at you with a mantra that it’s of the devil and you can’t ever have it… trust me….

Those who know me, know I don’t mind some Peanut M&M’s or that I think homemade chocolate cake is the frosting on life….

I love baking… with real sugar and real butter. Yes. I do. I don’t try baking with stuff that’s supposed to pose as “real” ingredients.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know you can make some good healthy substitutes with some ingredients. I’m ok with that too.

No, this post is more about awareness of sugar that you take in, and how much of it you might consume.

Excess sugar contributes nothing but fat to your body… no benefits there.

Sadly, so many foods today are processed or made with added or extra sugar. Sometimes it’s so subtle you might not have any idea.

I hope to get you thinking about things you consume in your day and if you’re wanting to make health changes this is an area you might look at.

First, for your info, one teaspoon of sugar (4 grams) contains 16 calories and zero nutrients.

Below is a chart you can see common items and how much added sugar they have…

20160308_182603

You also need to understand that many foods have added sugar and others contain natural sugars ( fruits, veggies, dairy) but these are also packed with vitamins and minerals and other good for you things.

To get a grasp for how much (added) sugar you might be taking in you need to become a label reader. If sugars are in the top five of ingredients you might want to select something else. Ingredients are listed in the order that primarily makes up the product you are looking at.

Sugar also comes in many names, some you may know and other may be unknown to you.  These can include, brown sugar, sucrose , corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, raw cane sugar or syrup.

Excess sugar has also been linked to a host of health problems including, diabetes, visceral fat, chronic disease and hunger ( refined sugar can mess with the hormones that make you feel full) in another interesting thought… research shows our brains are hardwired for pleasure and sugar works like many addictive drugs in our bodies ( this is a whole topic unto itself)

If you are wanting to lose weight or even if you are at the weight you desire and are maintaining your health, being aware of your sugars and how much you take in is crucial to staying healthy and even more important if you’re trying to lose weight.

Take a good look at your daily food and drink intake. I’m often surprised at how many people drink large quantities of sugary drinks. Begin there and slowly weaning yourself off of them ( or greatly reduce) can help you start your weight loss process.

Become a label reader to know where your “unknown” sugars are coming from and be aware of sugar you add to food and drink are all steps you can take to manage sugar consumption.

But hey…along the way… remember …life is good… and so is an occasional piece of chocolate cake 😉

 

The Skinny On Veggies

I wandered through the produce department tossing various veggies in my basket, once again struck by the amazing color and vast variety of goodies there was to choose from and perplexed at how so many people could ignore so much of this part of the store.

Ok I will freely admit my veggie consumption has increased …tons….in the last few years. True, I didn’t grow up a picky eater and learned to eat a good variety of foods but as an adult I’ve let myself really experiment more and remember the wise words of my Mom…..

“Oh try some… it won’t kill you!”

And again… Mom knows best 😉

veggie tales
Veggies should be fun 😉

 

 

I will admit when I talk with people to see so many still kinda turn their noses up at eating veggies? ….or they consider veggies to be corn, peas, and potatoes? No.

Here’s my take on it….why you want more….

First, they all pack ridiculously low level of calories, while delivering high levels of vitamins, minerals and other body healthy goodness, why wouldn’t you go after foods that were that filling AND low in calories?

More food… more satisfied… build a healthy body… that’s a winning deal, right?

Yet so many people have weird hang ups with them, refuse to eat them, or eat very little of them.

So here’s what I’m gonna tell you.. and I might sound like your mom.. well .. I am a mom..so listen to me…

Eat your veggies, they ARE amazingly good for you and can be a key component in getting lean and staying lean. Not only that, high vegetable intake has been shown to reduce major diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity and others.

Where oh where does one start if they’ve been living an anti-veggie life, or living a low-level veggie life ?

First, start with what you like. Don’t for the love of all things green choke down broccoli if you can’t stand it. There are a zillion types of veggies, you’ll find some you enjoy.

Aim for at least 2-3 cups at a meal, yes, that means some of you will be consuming a lot of produce. Don’t freak on me. When you learn to eat them at all meals you’ll see it’s not to hard.

Cook them in all kinds of ways. Roast, sautéed, grilled and steamed are  all  ways of enjoying them.

Roasting lately, is my all time favorite way to prepare them. For some reason it brings out the flavors and crisps them some and…yeah.. deliciousness. I have been hooked on roasted cauliflower lately.  The cool thing is, my kids wolf it down just as fast =)

When you fill your plate with a variety of veggies, you will need less of higher calorie foods.

Washing, cleaning and having prepared raw veggies in fridge will make it easier to grab them for snacks and salads.

Olive oil with some stone ground pepper, and a little sea salt are the secret ingredients to yummy roasted veggies.

 Some helpful tips for building more into your daily nutritional plan:

Learn to eat them at all meals. Sautéing mushrooms, spinach, and peppers together is very good with eggs.

Learn to incorporate all kinds into a lunch salad ( and remember to lose those crazy high fat dressings)  I honestly get the biggest bulk of mine at lunch on most days.

Look for recipes that sound good and experiment with something new.  I know that sounds like… a no brainer… but I’m surprised at people who settle for over steamed, wilted options … no wonder they don’t wanna eat them 😉

Remember, start small with your goal to gradually increase.

Ok and here’s a fun little cheat sheet for you to get you started cooking…

VeggieCookingCheatSheet

roasted veggies

The green one is a bonus sheet… or selfishly for me… I want to try a couple of these =)

Ok… I’m done preaching. Tell me.. are you a veggie lover? Do you struggle? Do you have fav recipes for some ? Share.

 

Some Of My Favorite Super Foods

avocado

Food.  Let’s talk about food. I know I’ve been talking a lot lately about understanding your relationship with it and  learning how to eat in balance and moderation but let’s talk now about eating and eating some “super foods”.

I hesitate to use that term since it’s kinda over used but seriously, there are some really awesome super foods out there that pack a ridiculous amount of health benefits and not a ton of calories to boot.

I want to share some of my favorites with you =)

Spinach. I love this stuff! It’s sautĂ©ed in with other veggies and eggs for a breakfast meal and has become my “lettuce” for salads.  What other benefits does it offer?

Powerful antioxidants in spinach have been found to combat a variety of cancers, including ovarian, breast, and colon cancers. And it’s good for the noggin: Research indicates that spinach reduces the decline in brain function associated with aging and protects the heart from cardiovascular disease. Although it contains relatively high amounts of iron and calcium, oxalate compounds bind to these minerals and diminish their absorption.

Get creative in how you use it and indulge all you want as it packs minimal calories and tons of nutrients.

Walnuts. Who can resist a handful of nuts? Especially when they offer up the goodness that walnuts do.

One-quarter cup of walnuts supplies 90 percent of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in everything from maintaining cognitive function, to improving cholesterol and blood pressure.

I love some tossed in my morning cottage cheese with fresh fruit. It makes a fast, protein and nutrient packed breakfast I can eat getting ready. They’re also tasty mixed in with oatmeal and a handful of dried fruit =)

Yogurt. It’s no secret I love Greek yogurt but all yogurt packs lots of good benefits. Greek just contains the highest amount of protein.

Yogurt contains probiotics, which are bacteria that live in the intestine, aid in digestion, boost the immune system, diminish bad breath, and are even associated with longer life spans. A 1-cup serving also supplies one-third of your daily calcium requirement, as well as 14 grams of satisfying protein.

Just be cautious about “fruit” varieties as they can pack a whopping amount of sugar.

Sweet Potatoes.  These tasty little critters have shown up a lot more in my house than just for Thanksgiving 😉 My favorite way to have them is to cube them up, toss them with some olive oil, sliced onion and bake till crisp and tender. The cold ones are delicious to add to breakfast the next morning!

Need a beta-carotene fix? Just one medium sweet potato packs over four times the recommended daily amount. These tasty tubers are also rich in potassium, inflammation-fighting vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which may prevent clogged arteries.

Boiling sweet potatoes may cause some of the water-soluble vitamins to leach out, so try them baked, roasted, or cubed, and added to soups or stews. If you need a boost of fiber, make sure to leave the skins on.

Avocados.

Just one half of a medium-size avocado contains more than 4 grams of fiber and 15% of your recommended daily folate intake. Cholesterol-free and rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium, avocados are also a powerhouse for heart health.

Use avocados as the base for a creamy homemade sandwich spread, or add a few chunks to your favorite salsa for a simple and delicious way to dress up grilled chicken or fish.

I use avocado to mix into tuna to replace the mayo =) Add a little lemon juice, salt and pepper… . yummy!

Seriously. I love avocados.  😉

Apples. Who doesn’t love biting into a perfect, sweet, crunchy apple ?

Apples are the richest fruit source of pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, decrease the risk of colon and breast cancers, and maybe even lessen the severity of diabetes.

Try throwing a few slices on your favorite sandwich or toss with field greens, toasted pecans, and a light vinaigrette for a delicious salad. With so many varieties available, you’ll never get bored finding new ways to incorporate them into your daily diet.

Blackberries. In my area have been so plentiful and inexpensive most of last year I’ve almost always had them in my ‘fridge. I love them in salads, alone, or tossed in my morning cottage cheese. Get creative with how you use them.

Blackberries, which contain only 62 calories and less than 1 gram of fat per cup, are excellent sources of a few key nutrients. As a result, they help keep your tissues healthy and combat chronic disease.

The fiber in blackberries helps aid digestion and may help lower your cholesterol levels, which fights cardiovascular disease. One cup of blackberries provides almost 8 grams of fiber, which is 21 to 32 percent of the daily fiber recommendations for men and and women, respectively. The vitamin A in blackberries also supports your digestive tract by helping maintain healthy mucous membranes, such as the tissues that line the inside of your mouth. Each cup of raw blackberries provide 308 IU of vitamin A. This is 13 percent of the daily vitamin A intake for women and 10 percent for men.

Blackberries owe their rich purple hue to their anthocyanin content, and these anthocyanins also offer cancer-fighting benefits. They act as antioxidants — chemicals that fight genetic mutations and cancer-causing tissue damage — and may have the ability to slow cancer cell growth, according to research.

I’d say there’s lots of reasons to grab some, wouldn’t you ?

And one more favorite pick….

Oranges.

Just one medium orange (think tennis ball) supplies all your daily vitamin C, which is a dynamite immunity booster and cancer fighter. And consuming vitamin C is best done in its natural form: Italian researchers also found that test subjects had greater antioxidant protection after drinking orange juice versus vitamin C–fortified water. Plus, this sweet and tangy fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, calcium, folate, and other B vitamins.

Now there are lots of awesome foods out there to feed your body… this is just a tiny sampling. Explore on your own and find something new you haven’t tried to add to your own super food list =)

Tell me… do you have a favorite super food ?

 

The Habit Of Eating

In yesterdays blog I talked about will power vs. habits and their role in weight loss and building a healthy lifestyle pattern.

One habit we all have in common and I’d dare say we all enjoy, is eating.

Food is good. Food is also the source of fuel for our bodies to perform daily tasks and live life. Food is meant to be enjoyed and savored!

There are lots of things to eat, and hopefully, you are making choices to eat healthy and nutritious foods the majority of the time.

In the ways of developing habits I’m sure most of us have habits of eating at scheduled times during the day to keep our energy level up.

We have an amazing God given built in system that tells us when we need food.

Ever get that grumbly, growly, tummy ? That’s the signal you need to eat. Once we’ve eaten enough to be (comfortably) satisfied we stop…or we should.

Unfortunately, many can go to either extremes with this. Either the hunger signals are constantly and frequently ignored which can lead to possible eating disorders, or one can eat often and frequently enough to not even remember what natural hunger signals feel like.

I know when I do long runs, my appetite can sometimes hit the roof and I feel like I can’t get it in fast enough. It feels good when it hits bottom!

Why? Because I’m genuinely, truly, hungry. I always joke food tastes so amazing when you are really hungry.

What I want to ask is this… do you eat when you are really truly, hungry? Or do you eat as a habit ? Because it’s a scheduled meal time?

We do need to schedule and eat adequate meals, but we also need to learn when enough is enough to take care of our hunger but not send us into that “I ate to much” feeling.  Balance is what we’re seeking, balance in meeting our needs, but not over doing it.

Get this… you don’t have to eat if you aren’t hungry. Or if it’s a scheduled meal time and you aren’t hungry.

However, if you get balanced, adequate meals in your day you should be experiencing those natural signals before your next meal. Allow yourself to understand, feel, and act on those signals.

Developing a habit to eat, when hungry, and stop when your hunger is comfortably satisfied is a big step towards losing weight and moving into healthy lifestyle patterns.

Is this easy for you to do ? Or will you need some practice to make it a habit ?

Is Good Nutrition The Fountain Of Youth?

vitamins and minerals

You don’t have to look far and wide today to know there is a big push on looking younger and all kinds of ways people are trying to accomplish that.

Botox and plastic surgery, magic creams and treatments the list is long…..

Aging is just a fact of natural life. I get that. At classic “middle aged” status I do get it.  Wear and tear on your body is pretty normal and to be expected. All I want to do is age gracefully and take the best care of myself that I can.

I do not want to do things that make me start to not look like myself, or plastic and stretched or whatever you want to call it.

I will say this though. I don’t know why people overlook what I think is, the most important thing to looking healthy and keeping a younger appearance.

Are you ready?

Food. You know that old adage “you are what you eat”? holds a lot of truth.

A diet that is high in sugars, processed, refined or fast foods and alcohol will take a toll on you leaving you not only puffy and sluggish but it can overall affect your appearance.

A diet that is high in fruits, veggies, and lean protein will not only keep you lean but change your outer appearance too. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and tons of good nutrients our bodies need these foods. It makes logical and natural sense to eat them…. they were created for us to eat!

I guess the most relevant illustration I can share with you is a couple months ago I was in a department store at the make up counter talking to a young girl about doing my makeup for my sons wedding.  When I shared my age with her she said ” I don’t believe you” I laughed and told her I wasn’t lying.

Her next words? ” Can I please ask what you use on your skin?”

My response? I eat lots of healthy foods and drink a lot of water.

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Some of my fav snacks….

She went on to tell me she didn’t eat that great and maybe she needed to try that… I encouraged her to give it a try. It’s certainly not an overnight treatment program, but more like a lifelong treatment program that with consistency and time, you will get results.

Not only that with improved healthy eating it will change your body composition ( lose fat), give you energy, and internally you’ll get better lab results.

Gosh this sounds like an ad for one of those “health” products 😉

Ok so here’s my pick for top 5 foods for looking fresh….

Blueberries…. antioxidants banish free radicals keeping skin cells healthier

Salmon…. a 4 oz filet has a few days worth of omega-3’s. They’re found only in the oily part of the fish but actually help clear pores

Avocados … my fav….. are a good source of Vitamin E so they help block UV rays and prevent dry skin. Halve an avocado and it mash on toast or fill with fresh salsa. I’ll pretty much eat it any way possible 😉

Carrots… your mom was on to something. Say yes to them for smoother skin. This veggies Vitamin A helps fight off wrinkles.

Spinach…. another daily fav on mine…. it’s packed with Vitamin C which helps produce skin firming collagen. Not only that you can eat vast amounts of this super food for virtually no calories =) It is now what I use for “lettuce” in salads and it’s a regular in my morning sautĂ©ed veggie mix =)

of course, there many more great foods to enhance your health…. strawberries, black berries,  sweet potatoes, broccoli, all dark leafy greens, squash…the list goes on… and again… you can eat lots of these things for minimal calories…. win/win 😉

Try incorporating more of these great foods into your daily diet… you’ve got nothing to lose.

What about you ? Have you seen a visible health improvement in how you eat ?

veggies

Pumpkin Spice And Everything Nice

pumpkin spice all things

October. I’m in denial. I know it’s technically fall, but living in south Texas and continuing to rock shorts and tanks on any given day… it’s hard to get into that warm, cozy “fall” feeling…. leggings, sweaters and boots seem far away…..

Add to that the commercial Christmas bus will be barreling down on us shortly…. but…… let’s address another big hyped thing that occurs with the beginning of Fall and all things cozy….

Yes… pumpkin spice everything.

Of course among all of the orange and spicy offerings it’s not officially Fall till Starbucks launches their Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Now I’m not a huge fan as I find those drinks to be entirely to sweet and all I think about is the zillions of calories and crazy amounts of sugar they contain…. and really I almost always just prefer my bold, black coffee… and… I don’t wear yoga pants and Uggs  😉

Now I’m not bashing the entire pumpkin thing. Not at all.  I happen to like a lot of tasty offerings… my mom made an amazing pumpkin bread and I make pumpkin spice cookies that will make you drool.

pumpkin everything

There is something about the combo of pumpkin and those spices that feels… homey and comforting and all things relaxed.

Right ? Can I get a raised Pumpkin Spice Latte in salute??

Maybe that’s what it is. After a long summer we’re ready to shift gears into a new change of seasons. We want to embrace crisp cool mornings,bulky sweaters and yes, cute boots. 😉 And what better way than a drink or special food that feels like those things ?

I found a couple items this week in my contribution to all things Fall and wonderful….

Chobani has launched another limited edition flavor in, yes you guessed it, pumpkin spice. I had my first yesterday ( I always buy one of a new flavor incase I hate it and it makes me gag 😉 I love Chobani’s Greek yogurt as I find it lower in sugar and the texture can’t be beat. My favorite “go-to” is the coconut one. But I can easily be swayed away when there’s a new kid on the block.

Ok… I loved it from first taste. It was like… creamy pumpkin pie in a cup. The spices were perfect. As mentioned, I bought one. Today, this is what’s in my ‘fridge 😉

20151002_201414The other item I found was this….

20151002_201519I’m thinking warmed with a little cream cheese….  they could be rather delicious 😉

You don’t have to look to far and wide to find there are lots of products being offered up right now if Pumpkin Spice is your big thing….

pumpkinOhhhh…. maybe the spiced cream cheese for the bagels ?? I’m not sure about the chips though.

What about you ? Do you look forward to Pumpkin Spice season ? Do you have favor things you anticipate ?

Food Vs. Fitness

biscuit
Biscuits. I could eat my body weight in them 😉

Food. It was on my mind. I just wrapped up a little over an hour on my bike. That’s roughly… 12ish miles for me… lots of hills and inclines so it’s not always easy. Which really, I don’t want it to be.

Coming in and cooling down, my tummy rapidly reminded me food was a long time ago ( last night) and it’s grumblings and rumblings were a sign I needed some nutrition.

Breakfast is my usual fare…. eggs… tons of sautĂ©ed veggies…. milk….  plenty of good protein and carbs to fill me comfortably.

It has become natural now for me to reach for healthy, nutrient dense foods. I crave them.  Not only that, how can you go wrong filling up on veggies that are amazingly good for you, satisfy your hunger, and leave you feeling strong and steady ( no dip and decline of blood sugar levels)  for hours ahead and for minimal calories?

Win. Win.

it hasn’t always been like that for me. On my health and fitness journey these past few years like anything, it’s been a learning process.

Choosing healthier foods over ones that didn’t support my goals has been a learned thing.

I guess the eye opening moment for me ( and I believe anyone who is seeking to lose weight and be fit) is determining who your love affair is with ? What do you love/want more ?

Food… the taste, sensory,  and emotional connection to fill your needs ?

OR

Food with balance and moderation with the goal being healthier and leaner ?

If you keep choosing food over your goals of health and wellness you will never get there.

You and you alone must decide….before something goes in your mouth….. is it worth it ? Does it support my goals? Do I want this ( thing) over my goals?

For example……Saturday morning hubby and I had determined a breakfast date for Cracker Barrel. If you’re in the south, you know what that means. If you don’t know, well, it’s this amazing southern foods restaurant that has all kinds of tasty treats.

I had biscuits on my mind. Coffee too 😉

All was well and good until our food came out and the waitress nicely says… “oh, we ran out of biscuits but we have some coming out in a few minutes” I assured her that was fine and launched into my meal, trying to not focus on the fact the eggs were slightly chilled…. and waited for my biscuits.

Hubby gallantly offered his up but I told him I’d wait….

and I waited… and waited…. until we were almost done and I flagged her down and she said… ” Oh I’m so sorry they aren’t done yet, but would you like a muffin ?”

Seriously. No.   It’s like asking a soda drinker if they want Coke or Pepsi.

I told her no thanks and was starting to feel like a disgruntled little kid. Hubby told me to take his other one ( which was not so warm anymore) and she brings me solid, frozen butter for it.

I did make an attempt to eat at it. I just couldn’t. It was nothing like I had envisioned when I had breakfast on my mind. I didn’t wanna be a brat…but seriously… it was disappointing.

Here’s where I’m going. I’ve learned to be selective on my journey. I didn’t want a muffin. I didn’t want a cool biscuit with frozen butter.  I’m at a place in my life and journey that if I eat something and take in those calories I want it to be good. I want to enjoy and savor it!  I want it to be worthwhile. I don’t have to mindlessly shovel it in ’cause it’s there. I can say no and walk away.

I can be picky and selective.

In my journey though it is a battle to think in terms of “food” versus “health/fitness”.  It is moment by moment decisions that lead me to victory.

It works like that for most of us.

It comes down to that moment of decision and deciding…. what do we want more…. food ? or our health goals ?

I’m not saying… don’t eat… I’m saying… make it worth while.

In time practicing this will  become a new habit in you that almost becomes second nature =)

What about you ? Is it a habit to think about what you put in your mouth and determine is really “worth it” ?