Blog

Resolutions Revamped

As I have mentioned in past blogs, I am not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions simply because I think it often embraces the all or nothing mentality that gets us into trouble in the first place.  That said, I stumbled into this blog From College Girl to College Girl (just in case it needs to be noted, I am not a college girl) about New Year Resolutions Revamped that is worth the read. I really like reframing the typical resolution into something more concrete and not nearly so daunting as say “lose 10 pounds by summer.”  After all, isn’t good health more about what our weight says on the scale?  We should care for our body no matter the shape or size and embrace our ability to move, run, walk, dance, etc.

Even if you are not a college girl like me, check out this post.

 

Old: “I’m going to lose 10 lbs this year.”

Why focus on weight and appearance for your New Years Resolution? You should instead focus on feeding your body with healthy foods and listening to what it wants and needs. After all, the number on the scale is… well, just a number.

New and Improved: “I’m going to make more meals at home.”

After the holidays, we fall into a bit of a nutrition slump. We’re used to eating bigger meals, eating out with our family and friends, and sampling the wide variety of Christmas cookies! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! But, most of us grow tired of this and are ready to get back on our normal eating schedule. After New Years, make a resolution to make more meals at home. This will give you a chance to try new recipes! Also, eating at home is often healthier, more nutrient dense, and lower in empty calories and more conducive to weight management.

 

Old: “No more desserts for me!”

Everything can be incorporated in an overall healthy diet. Cutting out your favorite foods will only lead to wanting them more, so give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods in moderation.

New and improved: “I am going to eat at least 3 different kinds of fruits/vegetables a day.”

Instead of focusing on what you are going to cut out of your diet, focus on what you can add into your diet! Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start. Fruit can also be a yummy and dessert! Check out this recipe for banana whip.

 

Old: “I am going to work out every single day.”

Again, this goal is very vague.

New and improved: “I will sign up and train for a 10 mile race.” or “I will try 2 new group fitness classes a month, and work out at least 3 times a week.”

Being more physically active is a great New Years Resolution! But, if you do not consistently exercise, making a resolution to “work out more” or “exercise every day” may not be specific enough. If you like to run, try signing up for a race with a few friends. Set up a training schedule together! If you don’t like to run, find other ways.

 

Old: “I’m going to get the bikini body I’ve always wanted.”

What is a “bikini body” anyways?

New and Improved: “I’m going to focus on what I love about my body.”

Try committing to saying 3 positive affirmations out loud everyday. Or make a list of 10 things you love about yourself that you love about yourself that includes non-body related personality traits. Add to this list often and read it often!

 

Old: “I’m going on a diet.”

New and Improved: “I’m going to fuel my body with the food it needs.”

This year try to REBEL against conventional fad diets that do not provide long lasting results and can be dangerous to your health.

Old: “I am going to start eating healthier”

This is a great resolution, but it’s too vague and general. Try coming up with specific and small health goals that you can accomplish and focus in on.  

New and Improved:  “I am going to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night” or “I am going to eat 2-3 servings of vegetables per day” or “I will start eating breakfast”

These resolutions will help you eat and be healthier and are specific and achievable!

 

Old: “I am going to spend more time working, etc.”

This is also a great resolution! But we often find it harder to make time to relax and stress relief.

New and Improved: “I will set aside 2 hours per week to practice self-care

Taking time for yourself to relax and clear your mind will actually help reduce stress and help you accomplish more!

Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain – Part 2

  • Downsize your dinnerware. Eat from appetizer or bread
    plates rather than pizza sized dinner plates.
  • If you bit it, write it. Keeping logs of food & drink will help
    avoid mindless eating.
  • Eat a protein packed breakfast. Those who eat protein rich
    breakfasts consume fewer calories all day.

Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain -­ Part 1

  • Rethink your drink.  Beverages don’t contribute to fullness like foods.  The # 1 contributor to weight gain is alcohol consumption.
  • Up your exercise intensity. One of the best ways to make your body more resistant to extra calories is to get more exercise.

Source: appforhealth.com

Holiday Traditions – Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

After browsing the latest Bon Appétit & Eating Well I found myself feeling the pressure to go into a baking frenzy.  Everywhere you look from the Internet to grocery store magazine shelves, decadent, delicious (not to mention) festive cookies are calling your name.  Normally I would feel the pressure to make every single one of them,  but this year, I am going to stick to my tried and true favorites.  Always a tradition, my Hazelnut Biscotti marks the beginning of the holiday season in my house. I wish I could tell you this biscotti recipe spans generations in my Italian blooded family, but alas, that would be a fable.  I actually spotted this recipe years ago in a now defunct vegetarian magazine.  Though it didn’t come from my Italian roots, at least I know my favorite Italian aunt, Zia Patty will enjoy these tasty bites with her morning coffee.

 

Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

Hazelnuts (a tree nut) are a good source of folate & dietary fiber. Consuming tree nuts may even reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.

½ cup pure maple syrup (not pancake)

½ cup hazelnut butter (I ground my hazelnuts which is actually pretty simple)

¼ cup butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts

Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate for drizzle

 

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat). In a medium bowl, cream together maple syrup, hazelnut butter and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and liquor, blending well. In a larger bowl, combine flours brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Make a well into dry ingredients, add egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. (Knead by hand if necessary). On a lightly floured board, divide dough into half and roll into 2 14-inch logs. Place logs on prepared sheet, then flatten about 1 inch high. Bake for 25 minutes or until loaves spring back when touched lightly. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Reset oven to 300. Slice cookies on the diagonal. Place slices flat on baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes (a lot of this process is trial and error; I like my cookies crisp so I bake longer). Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with chocolate (or dip in chocolate) if desired.

 

Eat Like an Omnivore – Food Rules Part 10

  • Add new species to your diet – plants, animals & fungi
  • The “dazzling” diversity of foods offered in supermarkets is deceptive – most come from corn, soy & wheat seeds (rather than leaves)
  • Diversify the species you eat

Source: Michael Pollan Food Rules

Tips for Managing the Holidays

Many people make the false assumption that as a dietitian I have “perfect” eating & exercise habits.  I have even had a few people mention they hope to never see me in the grocery store for fear that I may “judge” their cart contents (rest assured, grocery cart judge I am not).  While I am certainly not the food police, I recognize that I cannot teach others about proper nutrition & exercise if I am not engaging in those behaviors myself.  The biggest barrier to living healthy for me is time management.  Without time management I am stressed and stress equals poor lifestyle choices (more caffeine, more chocolate in my case).  This year I am determined to better manage my time thus resulting in a day mostly filled with smart choices (notice the word “mostly” because after all it is the holidays).

 

Tips for managing holiday (or anytime stress)

 

1. My number one tip is developing a positive attitude.  This sound cliché but it is oh so true.  Attitude makes a huge difference in how my day goes.  If my attitude is poor, so is my day (along with my eating habits).

 

2. Sleep and wake up on time.  One is not possible without the other, in other words I cannot wake up early without the appropriate amount of sleep.  No browsing the Internet or Pinterest before bedtime (guilty).

 

2. Exercise, dance to holiday music…. in other words move.  Many people don’t make time for exercise during the holidays, but it is a tremendous stress reliever.   Mornings are a great time to squeeze some physical activity into your day (note the above tip…sleep). If planned exercise is not a priority (though it should be), make a point to move throughout the day (take a walk break, use the stairs, etc)

 

3. Don’t skip meals.  I repeat, don’t skip meals.  More times than not this results in overindulging in foods you would not normally eat (or eat in large quantities) Plan ahead and snack smart with items such as apple slices with peanut butter, plain Greek yogurt with some granola, a handful of nuts & “healthy” energy bars. Check out this easy recipe for portable homemade energy bars from Appetite for Health.

If You Don’t Recognize It, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 3

How to minimize inflammation?
  • Eat lean protein source such as chicken; cut back on red meat & full fat dairy
  • Avoid refined foods & processed foods
  • Spice it up.  Ginger, curry powder & other spices are linked with anti­inflammation

Sources: Barry Sears, MD, webmd.com, therealfarmacy.com

If You Don’t Recognize it, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 2

How to minimize inflammation?
  • Eat a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids such as oily fish & walnuts.
  • Limit refined carbohydrates such as white pasta & rice
  • Eat plenty of whole grains such as bulgur & brown rice

If You Don’t Recognize it, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 1

  • Diets high in processed foods are linked to inflammation in the body which can lead to a whole host of diseases (cancer, heart disease, etc) 
  • How to minimize inflammation? 
  • Eat plenty of fruits & vegetables 
  • Minimize saturated fats & eliminate transfat

The Juice Illusion

I consider myself a visual learner and nothing had made me happier than the slew of nutrition infographs that seem to be popping up on the Internet lately.  My current favorite is from the Pritikin Longevity Center.  Titled The Juice Illusion, this infograph is a visual feast for the eyes.

This infograph is timely given recent research linking juice consumption with obesity related type 2 diabetes. Whole fruit consumption is associated with decreased risk. Furthermore, satiety (i.e. satisfaction) is increased significantly when you EAT rather than drink your fruits & veggies; there is no fiber in juice. Plus many nutrients are lost in the juicing process.

In the spirit of whole fruits & vegetables, I have included this Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette recipe that includes 2 of my favorite veggies. My personal modifications: less olive oil, roast the Brussels prior to mixing with the kale & skip the craisins & pepitas (personal preference).