Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mom, Where’s the Meat Loaf!!!

Aww Wedding Crashers, what a great flick, but seriously, my mom did make the best (and healthiest) meatloaf and bean salad last night! Call me a nerd, but I find it highly entertaining to take an otherwise off-limits meal and turn it into a nutritional masterpiece. There are so many healthy swaps you can make to a recipe that nothing is off limits, that includes meatloaf! (recipes based off of Fitness magazine’s “the last bite” and “recipe makeover” with subtle changes)

· 1 pound lean ground turkey

· 1 cup cooked brown lentils

· 2 cups packed spinach leaves, steamed, drained, and chopped

· 1 cup of finely diced red peppers, green peppers, celery and onion

· ¼ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

· ¼ teaspoon chopped garlic

· ¼ cup of parmesan cheese

· 1 large egg

· Seasonings to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a pan and sauté veggies (except spinach) over medium heat. In a large bowl, break up turkey then add cooked veggies, parmesan, broth and the egg. Next add the lentils and mix everything together. Add spinach and mix again. Spray cooking spray in a 3-by-8 pan and push the meat down in the pan. Bake for about 35 minutes, cool and enjoy!

To pack even more veggies into this meal my mom paired it with a bean salad:

1 red bell pepper (halved and seeded)

· 1 yellow pepper (halved and seeded)

· 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

· 1 pound green beans (trimmed)

· 2 15 - 16 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

· 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

· Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly brush pepper halves with extra virgin olive oil and grill for 8 to 10 minutes. When thoroughly cooked, cool and cut into bite-size strips. Meanwhile cook green beans until crisp and tender, drain and let cool in cold water. Finally, mix peppers, green beans, cannellini beans, capers in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the veggies, cool and serve. (129 calories, 5 g protein, 18 g carbs, 5 g fat, 5 g fiber)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Read it and Weep- Decoding Nutrition Labels

The key to healthy eating is learning how to decode nutrition labels. Food companies use popular claims and eye-catching promises that are deceiving if not entirely untrue. Just because a product says “organic”, “fat-free”, “sugar-free”, etc. does not mean it is healthy. Usually in order for those claims to be true, the makers had to sacrifice something else like higher processed carbs or calories making it worse for you than if you went for the original! The point is reading the nutrition facts can be like trying to read Swahili, and food companies are taking full advantage of consumers who fall for the gimmicks. Here is the breakdown of what to look for so you don't fall for them:

1. Starting from the top of the label, you want to check out the Serving Size. Portion sizes are likely half, if not less, than that of what we expect or are used to. The serving size listed will give you everything listed below that. If you eat two serving sizes, you have to double everything else. That means 1 tbsp of nut butter (the average serving size) is about the size of both thumbs. A lot of people eat 3,4 or even 5 times this amount on their toast.

2. Next you’re going to check out the Total Fat. This is tricky because some fat is good for you. This is where you need to use common sense. A half cup of Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream has 24 grams of fat and a medium sized avocado has 30 grams of fat. Which is better for you? Obviously the avocado because it consists of monosaturated fat which is the healthy kind. The key here is moderation, good fat is only good if you eat it in small amounts. Bad fat is just better left on the shelf.

3. Moving on down to Sodium. The USDA recommends we eat no more than 2,400 mgs of sodium a day. That equals about a teaspoon. A Chipotle Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito has 2,656 mgs of sodium alone! Too much sodium will dehydrate you and actually trigger your brain to encourage you to eat more! Keep this in check by flavoring your food with herbs and spices rather than table salt.

4. The biggie for me is Total Carbs. If you are looking at a packaged food item you want to keep these moderately low. High processed carbohydrate food is found in “white stuff” (white bread, pasta and rice). They can also be found in snack bars, cereals, beverages, among many other products so watch out. I like to keep these below 15-20 grams, and the more you become aware of it, the more shocked you will be.

5. A very overlooked component on the label is the grams of Sugar. Not all sugars are bad (there are natural sugars found in milk, fruits, etc that are essential to your body), so you need to look at the ingredients to differentiate the good and the bad. The ones to avoid are Sucrose, cane juice and high-fructose corn syrup. You should stay away from anything that contains 5 g or more of these per serving.

6. Last but certainly not least you want to check out the protein and fiber. These components are an essential part of your diet and help to keep you full longer. The higher the fiber count typically means the healthier the food, especially since the average American doesn’t get their DRA (Daily Recommended Amount) of either of these in their diets.

(P.S. Did you notice I skipped over Calories? Funny, you probably thought this would be first on the list and yet it didn’t even make it?!? The amount of calories in general doesn’t mean a whole lot when you factor in the others. If the calories are coming from natural healthy food they will be used as energy. Of course if you have to many they will be stored as fat so you do have to acknowledge them, but as far as I am concerned, they are a waste of space on the label.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Welcome to Chocaholics Anonyms

Hi, my name is Jessi, and I am a chocaholic. I eat, crave and think about chocolate almost on a daily basis and have become dependent on it in times of anger, sadness and PMS. If you suffer from chocaholism as well, today is your lucky day. I have found the key to satisfying your sweet tooth without devouring an entire box of chewy chips ahoy (which I have done, on many occasions, those were sad times).

1. Dark Chocolate- Ok, this one took a while to warm up to but trust me when I say, it satisfies your chocolate craving on way less. I have a bar of Lidnt 85% coca in my freezer and when that familiar craving hits like a ton of brinks, I pop one little square of this chocolaty goodness in my mouth, wash it down with a small glass of skim milk and ahhh, bliss.

2. Chocolate pudding- The best thing to do is to make it yourself using skim milk and a low sugar pudding mix. But most of us don’t have the time or (more importantly) the patience for that, enter THE SNACK PACK! Jell-O makes a no sugar chocolate pudding with only 60 calories, and even better, they come a convenient small serving size so it’s not easy to over indulge. I like to add a few almonds to get the sweet/salty mix :)

3. Whey Protein shake- I found this protein powder called Women’s Whey Protein that is low carb and low sugar. I mix it with the either skim milk, light soy milk, water or a mixture of these and it completely satisfies me and fills me up, an added bonus!

4. Go for the gold- If you have been working out and eating healthy consistently I say go for it sister! If you can maintain self control and keep your portion size decent, have whatever you want. Deprivation is the number one reason diets don’t work. As long as you only splurge occasionally, a piece of chocolate cake won’t kill you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The BEST salad and breakfast EVER!!

So I made the BEST salad I have ever made in my life (and I have made a lot of salads) this one tops the charts and I just had to share it with you. I started with spinach then I added a hard boiled egg, tomatoes, salsa and beets. I had a plum and a Lipton green tea on the side. This meal filled me up, gave me energy and made me feel good about the amount of vitamins and nutrients I put in my body.
Fruits and vegetables that are dark in color contain higher levels of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Beets, especially these pictured above, are convenient and are an unexpected addition to a salad. Spinach is the best nutritional option as iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value (most restaurants will allow you to sub spinach for iceberg if you ask). The hard boiled egg provides protein and healthy fat that helps you stay full longer. This salad fulfills a healthful dose of your daily vegetable intake! (You should be having 6-8 servings a day)

Luck should have it I made the BEST breakfast of my life yesterday too!! Get a load of this- one egg, two eggwhites, chopped spinach and a side of fat free cream cheese. Egg whites have the protein without the fat. Then I sprayed Pam on a Fat Flush tortilla wrap, toasted it and spread almond butter on top. I grabbed a handful of fresh rasberries and VOILA- the best breakfast of my life.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


After returning from Las Vegas I was going through my pictures and was caught off guard by this one. The one body part I have never had to work for were my arms, then all of a sudden this picture popped up and HOLY FAT ARM!!!! What is going on here? Look at that ginormous pancake hanging from my shoulder!! For the first time ever really (on purpose at least) I need to pump some serious iron...or so I thought. I had to do some extensive research, since I was basically starting from scratch but these moves should get you lookin’ like the Material girl in no time! (sans the big, scary machines) For a lot of women, especially in our older years, this is a major trouble spot, so I have compiled ten awesome exercises to get those flabby limbs into tip-top shape! Now I know these pictures are awkward but I’ll embarrass myself to help a fellow fat-armed sista’ out! Channeling my inner Popeye in 3, 2, 1....

1. Wrist curls- Hold your arms out and take 3-5 pound weights and rotate your wrists palm up, palm down. Do this until it hurts, then do 15 more

2. Tricep kick-backs- Start feet hip width distance apart, bend your knees slightly and hold your arms at a 90 degree angle with weights. Extend your arm straight back and hold then repeat back to starting position. This should be a controlled exercise, quality is better than speed.

3. Tricep dips- As you can see, these are great because you can do them anywhere! When you dip down try and hold for a good 3 seconds or so to really feel the burn.

4. Squat thrust with weights- This is a full body move which means your working a lot of muscles at once. But more importantly it gets several different muscles in your arm. You should put both weights in one hand during this exercise.

5. Popeye bicep curl- Hold arms out to your sides and bend one elbow in. Alternate from side to side while holding weights in each hand.

6. Knee-to-elblow- This move is great because it works your ab muscles too! Keep a high plank but alternate pulling each knee in to the outside of your elbow and hold for 3 seconds. You can make this harder by placing your hands on a step.

7. High-to-low plank- Start in a high plank position keeping your back straight and your weight distributed evenly. One elbow at a time come down to a low plank and hold maintaining proper posture. Then bring it back up and repeat til you shake!

8. Chest Fly- Lay down and hold your arms above you with weights in hand. Slowly bring your arms down, hovering above the ground to the count of three and controlled back up. You make this harder by doing it on a bench or having a friend stand behind you and resist your arms.

9. Bicep punch- Hold your arms at your sides with weight in your hand and palms facing up. Push the weights away from your body at your sides hold and bring them back to the starting position.

10. Overhead tricep- Holding weights behind your head keep your elbows facing forward (they have a tendancy to slip to the sides) and keep your head up. Extend your arms up over your head and then back down. (no picture necessary, everyone pretty much knows this one...)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nutrition Myths: Fict or Fact?

Why deos it seem like women are so much more self-concious about their bodies than men? Maybe men are too and they just aren't as vocal about it but so many women it seems will try anything that offers some promise of a short-cut or quick-fix to losing weight. Here are my top 5 diet myths and the truth (or lack-there-of) behind them:

1. How much you sweat is equivalent to how much fat you burn.

FALSE! Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself down. You’re body maintains its temperature independently of how many calories you are burning.

2. Lifting weights will make me look like the Hulk.

FALSE! A woman’s genetic makeup does not allow our muscles to bulk up like men without the help of muscle enhancing drugs. Weight training will only make you look leaner and help you body burn more calories.

3. Colon cleanses and body detoxes flush out waste and weight.

FALSE! The claim is that these products flush out food that has built up in the colon over the years. First of all, EW! Second of all, our bodies do that naturally, it’s not like that cheeseburger you ate 4 years ago is still sitting there! Common. If you want to detox help your body do it naturally by eating more fruits and vegetables which are naturally high in fiber, vitamins and nutrients that assist the body in waste deposit. These cleanses merely dehydrate you and flush out healthy bacteria from your system.

4. A high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet is a health way to lose weight.

TRUE! Most people (women especially) do not get the recommended amount of protein in their diet. This would explain why women eat so much, all the time…protein helps fill you up and helps relieve cravings for bad food. I’ve been over the carb discussion many times but just a reminder, cutting out white starches will dramatically improve your waistline.

5. Certain foods can burn fat and increase your metabolism.

FALSE! (for the most part) Some natural substances like cayenne peppers and caffeine can do these things but to such a miniscule degree that it really makes no significant difference. Caffeine also has adverse effects, namely the crash that leaves you famished, exhausted and typically encourages you to make poor food choices.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Booze News

Health professionals say 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men per day is considered moderate drinking and is acceptable and even encouraged if you’re drinking red wine. However, I tend to enjoy a few more bumps than just the one, especially come Friday. Alcohol unfortunately is loaded with sugar, calories and carbs and worst of all, it increases your hunger. That said, if you too find yourself in this predicament I have compiled a list of the “best of the worst”, so to speak.

Beer: Always go light and drink out of the bottle rather than an oversized glass, you will drink slower and it’s easier to keep track of how much your drinking. (I’m not much a beer drinker but on a hot day on Lake Minnetonka sometimes an ice-cold beer is delish, so here are my top picks for health/taste)

1. Michelob Ultra or Michelob Ultra Amber- Low carb but sort of a watery taste. (2.6 carbs and 95 cals)

2. Thin Ice- Never actually tried it but apparently it tastes like ginger-ale and only has 1 carb and 90 cals!

Cocktails: Hard liquor is higher in calories per ounce than wine but you consume less of it (usually). Consider the chaser you use to mix it with and you’ve got yourself some serious empty calories! So stay away from the “fru-fru” drinks (aka anything with an umbrella, a crazy name or a think, frothy texture- I know it’s so sad but think about it in comparison to a cheeseburger with french-fries and these less exciting drinks will look soooo much better)

1. Vodka soda with a splash of cranberry (extra lime)- The soda has 0 calories and the splash of cran and limes give it just enough flavor.

2. Jerimiah Weed (vodka) with lemonade- Tastes just like an arnie palmer! This is my fav new summer drink but I try to keep it to 1 due to the lemonade, or I’ll switch to soda…

3. A skinny white bitch- Vanilla vodka with diet coke tastes great and is a better choice than some but flavored liquor has more sugar and calories and diet coke is only ok in small quantities (read my post about DC to find out why J)

4. Vodka water with Crystal Light to-go packets- I always keep some in my purse and whip them out at the bar, one packet gets you several drinks. If you go this route, just prepare to be harassed and laughed at by your fellow bar patrons and bartenders…)


1. Red- Although red and white wine have almost equal amounts of calories, carbs and sugar but red wine is rich in antioxidants

2. White wine spritzer- Half wine, half soda, this is a great drink to sip on when you’re having dinner with friends and you want to drink but not get hammered.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Surviving the Urge to Splurge on the 4th

It’s that time of year, when the sun is hot, the lake is cool and friends and family gather to celebrate the independence of our country....by EATING OUR FACES OFF! The fourth of July is notorious for its endless smorgasbord of burgers, hot dogs, potato chips and potato salad washed down with a chugging contest from the bottomless keg. Come Monday the “hangover” will have two meanings as your belly “hangs over” your jeans! Rather than letting it all go this weekend, follow these simple rules and you won’t be paying the price next week.

Rule 1- Don’t touch the potato salad. Don’t even look at it. It isn’t even that good if you really think about it, not to mention it is the worst thing on the picnic table. This pile of yellow goo can set you back almost 400 calories per spoonful! The full-fat mayo, cheese, bacon and starchy potatoes are a skinny girl’s worst nightmare.

Rule 2- Sugar isn’t any sweeter when it’s all dolled up in red, white and blue. You might as well dump the entire bag of sugar in your mouth and wash it down with mountain dew than drink the fruit punch or eat the jell-o with marshmallow desert.

Rule 3- You know you’re an American when you have a hot dog in one hand and a burger in the other. If you must fit in with the crowd you can purchase your own vegan burgers and dogs at the grocery store (my favorite are made by Morningstar Farms) and also forgo the bun. Try and incorporate some veggies and fruits in the mix rather than building a chip tower on your plate like in years past.

Rule 4- Be a grazer. You don’t need to eat three gigantic meals in one sitting. Trust me, the food isn’t going anywhere! If you eat a little bit here and there throughout the day you won’t get those nasty cravings for the “good stuff” making the aforementioned rules a piece-of-cake (sorry, bad pun to use huh?)

Rule 5- Sip, don’t chug. Don’t be that girl (or guy) that is the drunkest mess at the party. I’ll be the first to admit I enjoy my cocktails but be wise. Use soda with a splash of juice to decrease your sugar intake and go with clear liquor and light beer.