A Healthier Manhattan Clam Chowder

Written by: on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

 

clam chowder

Did you know? Clams are mineral powerhouses, with plenty of phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium.

This Manhattan Clam Chowder is so easy to make. Plus, it’s a broth-based soup, which means it has a lot fewer calories compared to New England Clam Chowder, which is cream-based. If you’re not digging clams, try some of my other healthy and delicious soup recipes: Turkey Tortilla Soup, Southern Corn Chowder and Slow-Cooker Chili. Soup really is good food and made the right way, it can be good for you, too!

 Manhattan Clam Chowder

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 (10 ounce) cans fancy whole baby clams, rinsed under running water

1 1/2 cups clam juice

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup sweet bell pepper chopped (red or green)

1/4 cup carrot, chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2 cups finely chopped, peeled potatoes

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (homemade tastes best!)

1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt to taste (optional)

Directions

1) Drain the clams but save the juice! Pour the clam juice into a measuring cup. You should have at least 1 1/2 cups of clam juice. If you don’t, add extra water until you have 1 1/2 cups.

2) In a large saucepan, combine the clam juice, celery, sweet bell pepper, carrot and green onion. Bring everything to a boil; reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

3) Add all of the remaining ingredients to the saucepan except the clams. Bring it back to a boil; reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.

4) Stir in the clams and return to a boil; reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Nutrition Information per serving 115 calories, 10 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrate. 2.5 grams dietary fiber, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams saturated fat, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 370 milligrams sodium

Yummy Black Bean Dip Kids Love!

Written by: on Monday, March 10th, 2014
Black Beans

Black beans are super nutritious: they’re high in antioxidants, fiber, protein…to name just a few key nutrients!

Looking for an after school snack that’s healthy and tasty. Your kids will love this black bean dip. I highly recommend you let them help you prepare it. What child can resist “smashing” beans?! This recipe is in our new book Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens (Eat Right Press, 2012). For more healthy snack recipes pick up a copy at your local book store or order it on amazon. In addition to recipes, you will find all of the latest info on helping your son or daughter reach a healthy weight. If your child is already at a healthy weight, the book will give you the tools you need to help them keep it that way.

black bean dip

This protein-rich dip makes the perfect snack.

Black Bean Dip

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions 

Mash beans to a smooth consistency. Stir in other ingredients. Chill in the refrigerator. Serve with whole grain pita chips, whole wheat crackers, baked tortilla chips, or jicama strips.

Nutrition Information

50 calories, 1.3 grams fat, 0.4 grams saturated fat, 1.6 milligrams cholesterol, 378 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrate, 4.2 grams dietary fiber, 3.3 grams protein

Heart-Healthy Chocolate Brownies

Written by: on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
Healthy Chocolate Brownies

Replacing the oil with applesauce cuts the fat out of these yummy brownies!

 

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Looking for a killer chocolate dessert that won’t murder your diet? This quick and easy Chocolate Brownie recipe is a staple at my house. Thanks to the applesauce the brownies are virtually fat-free—yet chocolaty, gooey and delicious. I love them because they’re healthy; my family loves how they taste. Check out my Are You Ready for Valentine’s Day? post for quick tips about cooking with chocolate. Au chocolat!

 

Recipe Make-Over Results

Original Recipe Revised Recipe
227 cals 182 cals
3 g protein 4 g protein
36 g carbohydrate 46 g carbohydrate
9 g fat 0 g fat
2 g saturated fat 0 g saturated fat
9.5 mg cholesterol 0 mg cholesterol
175 mg sodium 168 mg sodium
1 g dietary fiber 3 g dietary fiber

 

Heart-Healthy Chocolate Brownies

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 package of your favorite brownie mix

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup applesauce

2 large egg whites

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom of a 13 X 9 inch pan. Mix brownie mix, water, applesauce, and egg whites in large bowl. Beat about 50 strokes by hand. Spread in pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely. Serve slightly warm with chocolate ice cream or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Healthy Recipe: Mock Mashed Potatoes

Written by: on Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Here’s a sneaky way to lighten up this winter classic. When you go to make mashed potatoes, skip the strachy-white spuds and use cauliflower instead! I developed this recipe for the Hidden Valley Ranch Love Your Veggies Campaign. It’s the perfect substitute for mashed potatoes. In fact, it’s so deceptively delicious, my family now prefers mock mashed potatoes over the original. Go ahead a give it a try. Can your family tell the difference?

 

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

The perfect side dish to accompany get-healthy, get slim New Year’s resolutions.

Mock Mashed Potatoes

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower, washed and broken into florets (about 4 cups florets)

1 tablespoon fat-free milk

1 tablespoon light margarine (tub-style) or butter

1/3 cup Hidden Valley The Original Ranch Dressing Light

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions

1) Place cauliflower florets into a steamer and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.

2) Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor.

3) Add Ranch dressing, milk, and margarine (and salt if using) to the cauliflower, and blend until the mixture reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes.

4) Serve—and enjoy—warm.

Nutrition Information: 47 calories, 2 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams dietary fiber, 2.5 grams fat, 0.5 milligrams cholesterol, 50 milligrams sodium

 

 

How I Lost 90 Pounds & Became An Athlete!

Written by: on Monday, January 6th, 2014
Weight Loss Success Story

BEFORE: Rachel At 236 pounds, 11 weeks after giving birth.

Weight Loss Success Story

AFTER: Rachel at 144 pounds…happy, healthy, and slim.

It was eleven weeks after Rachel Shapiro Cooper, 33, had her daughter, Colbie, and she distinctly remembers the moment. “I was sitting on the couch next to my beautiful new baby and my mother in law—and all I could think about was how physically uncomfortable I was. It completely devastated me. I didn’t want to be sitting next to my beautiful family feeling this way.”

At 236 pounds, Rachel—a theatre teacher at a charter school in Newark, NJ—had reached her highest weight, ever. “When I look at that picture now, I looked enormous and sad,” she says. “My thighs are as big as the couch. It was at that moment that I said I was never ever going to feel this way ever again.”

“Changing My Mindset”

“No one sits there and says I want to be obese one day,” says Rachel, “but it happens. And it happened to me because I ignored how my body was feeling—for so long. And that’s not normal.”

Weight Loss Success Story

Rachel, after, with her husband Brandon.

“Everything about your health is a choice,” she says, adding that you have the power to change your health and your weight—for the better. “For so long, I was told I was overweight when I wasn’t overweight. That was a really damaging thing. People around me created this false reality for me. I wasn’t as thin as other kids, but I wasn’t the fat kid either.”

“But then I started to believe what every one else was saying about me—and I believed I’d always be the fat kid. Then I told myself that it was okay to be chubby and I started developing these habits where I felt like I could eat more. And when I got pregnant, it got worse: I had two breakfasts because I felt like I was entitled to it.”

“But I’m done with that part of my life: I’m not going to eat more just to eat more,” says Rachel, who is now pregnant with her second child and is thinner, happier, and has more energy during this pregnancy than she ever did during her first pregnancy. “I’m proud to say I ran a 10K already during this pregnancy—and I felt great while I was doing it.”

“Learning About My Body”

Right after she gave birth the first time, Rachel received bad news about her health. “I found out that I was pre-diabetic; my sugar was high,” she explains. “Plus, my total cholesterol level was over 300.”

Motivational Sayings

One of Rachel’s favorite motivational sayings.

“And I thought: ‘Who have I become? I knew when I saw this picture that I couldn’t walk through life this way anymore. Before I was overweight, now I was sick and I had to get well.”

“Between being a new mom and feeling totally out of my element, I felt like some obese imposter walking around in my world in this huge unhealthy body,” she says.

After Rachel started losing weight, running, and feeling great about her body, she found a lump in her breast. “I have very dense breast tissue, but because I had been overweight, I hadn’t really known my breasts—or my body. And I thought: ‘How is it possible that I’m healthy for first time in my life and this happens? Thankfully everything turned out fine [it was fibrocystic breasts], but it’s amazing how many women are not familiar with their body and miss things like this.”

“When I was overweight, I didn’t want to know my body,” she says, explaining that so many people who are overweight feel the same way—and aren’t able to recognize bumps and lumps, aches and pains because they’re out of touch with themselves. “But I was killing myself by not wanting to know my body.”

“How I Lost the Weight”

Rachel shared the go-to strategies, below, that helped her to lose the 90 pounds (it took a year and a half)—and helped to make her a runner, too.

woman stepping on scale

You will lose pounds, says Rachel, if you address your food entitlement issues up front.

First and foremost, though, Rachel says you have to change your mindset about food. “We all have this absurd sense of entitlement about food: We tell ourselves that ‘We deserve to eat this or that’. It’s like a petulant child—and we need to remove the petulant child from weight loss,” explains Rachel. ‘This need for immediate gratification is why people are fat. We have no patience. We’re not willing to wait until another day to eat something.”

“But the truth is: If you didn’t get to eat it today, you can eat it another day,” she says. “That’s a huge part of what I had to master. There will other chances to eat that food, there will be other parties.”

The bottom line, Rachel says, is this: “If you don’t do anything to fix your weight issues, nothing will change. Taking charge of your life and your weight is completely in your hands.”

1. Make the decision to put yourself first. It’s so easy for people—particularly mothers—to put others first, says Rachel, but changing this is key to dropping pounds. “You have to retrain yourself. “I said ‘I’m going to lose weight’ and

Weight Loss Success Story after finishing a race.

Rachel—already pregnant with her second child—and Brandon after finishing her second half marathon.

‘I’m putting myself before everyone and everything’,” she says, explaining that by doing that it made her weight loss a priority. She made it a priority every week to attend Weight Watchers meetings, which were key to her success. She made it a priority to cook healthy foods and pack a healthy lunch—and snacks—for work every day. And she made it a priority to exercise.

“Now I get up at 5 am and run on the treadmill. On Saturdays and Sunday, my husband and I trade. I spend an hour and 10 minutes doing a long run and then he takes time to do it. And that’s part of my life now.”

“After making this decision to put myself first, my life completely opened up,” she says. “I was happy and completely present in my life—with my daughter, my husband, my friends, my job.”

2. Create do-able goals. “At first, I never thought I’d reach my goal,” says Rachel. “I kept trying to lose weight and would step on the scale after a week and had lost nothing. I was so depressed—which made me want to give up. I stopped caring, stopped believing. I had so much to go, I felt like it was impossible. I didn’t have faith in my body. I felt like it was broken, like it was not like other people’s. I was deeply ashamed.”

Calendar for Weight Loss

“I stopped looking at weight loss week by week—and instead looked at it over the course of 30 days,” says Rachel.

“Then my husband, my beautiful, wise, forgiving sweet husband brought me a proposal,” Rachel explains. “He thought my issues with weight loss had to do with the fear of not seeing results. I would stay on program and then not see a loss and then collapse and binge and then not see a loss and it was a vicious cycle. He knew the Weight Watchers plan was realistic and healthy (he is a doctor after all). He knew that if I could just take the pressure off of each week, I might see success and that might lead to momentum. Well, that it did! We embarked on the 30-day calendar.”

“Brandon helped me create a calendar with goals for my life on it and each day I simply stayed on program I crossed off a box and at the end of 30 days we would re-assess” she explains. “I kept going to my weekly meetings and by the end of the month I had lost 8 pounds after not losing any weight for the six months prior.”

“We kept using the calendar for 90 days and then I made it below 200 lbs. Then I noticed myself starting to feel like, ‘I may be able to do this’. “

3. Believe in everything YOU can accomplish. “I was never a runner and

Weight Loss Success Story

Rachel, and her friend Marianne, after successfully completing a race.

now I run countless 4 milers, four 10Ks, and even a half marathon. There are all these lies I was telling myself,” says Rachel, who says that believing in how you want to be—not how others see you or how you saw yourself—is key to turning your life around.

4. Keep track of everything you eat. Rachel credits her local Weight

Weight Watchers Mobile App

Rachel used the Weight Watchers Mobile App to keep track of what she ate. (Available free on the iTunes app store.)

Watchers meetings, which she attended regularly, with helping her learn how much she should be eating every day— and staying motivated. “I never used to write down what I ate. Who wants to write down that you ate a quart of lo mein?” she says, explaining a key weight-loss strategy of Weight Watchers. “Now I write down everything I eat every single day. I have a Weight Watchers tracker app on my phone that I write my food in. It takes two minutes—and it keeps me accountable.”

5. Be honest about what (and how much) you’re eating. While the food tracker app helps, Rachel also relies on friends to keep her accountable. “I have a friend, Marianne, and we e-mail our food to each other every day,” says Rachel, crediting Marianne with being “instrumental” to her success.

“We follow up with each other. We send the good, the bad, and the ugly to each other. There’s no greater gift you can give yourself than absolute dead honesty. The act of being accountable and honest transforms how I relate to food now. It’s not a secret anymore. Your secrets make you sick, and I was no longer willing to stay sick.”

“Having people around you, like Marianne, who know your goals and remind you of them, even when you’ve forgotten is key,” says Rachel. “Real friends don’t tell you it’s okay when you make a poor food choice. Real friends aren’t afraid to be your ‘mirror up to nature’.”

6. Take it one meal at a time. “Don’t think about how much weight you have to lose, focus on one meal at a time. Once you get through breakfast, that’s an accomplishment. Then you can move on to the next meal,” says Rachel. “What matters is how you manage your food in each moment.”

7. Prepare for ups and downs. Know that—despite everything you’re doing—you may not lose weight some weeks, says Rachel. “Weight loss is not one of those things that accidentally happens. The scale doesn’t lie. It will take a

Weight Loss Success Story

Rachel, with her friend Marianne, outside Weight Watchers, which guided her and helped her reach her goal.

while. There were weeks that I worked my butt off and I lost not one single pound. But again, I had to take the power away from immediate gratification and that feeling that ‘If I do everything I’m supposed to do, I should lose weight.’ Sometimes that just doesn’t happen. But you have to stick with it over the long haul to see the results—and you will see results.”

The Weight Watchers meetings helped Rachel with this aspect of her weight loss—as well as her entire journey. (After having reached her goal, she’s now a lifetime member.) “The Weight Watchers meetings were a place I went each week, on good weeks and bad,” she says. “It was the place where, for 30 minutes, I could brainstorm a challenge and get support. My leader, Kelly, (now my friend) and my fellow members shared in my victories and built me up when I felt like I could not keep going.”

8. Plan what you’re going to eat—before you go out. “I make a plan about food—and what I’m going to eat in social situations—and I stick to it,” says Rachel. “I determine beforehand if I’m going to have one glass of wine at a cocktail party. I write before I bite. Food is not a relationship I should be having. I want to put my emotions back into my relationships.”

“I always look at restaurant menu before going out to eat so I know what I’m going to have,” explains Rachel. “I always commit to a lean protein like seafood and sushi. And the best part: I eat it and can still leave the restaurant feeling great.”

“I mostly stay away from Mexican and Indian though because these cuisines are harder to portion out,” she says, “but nothing is off limits anymore. Generally, though, I try to stick to cuisines that are satisfying and healthy. I also have a two-drink minimum. My rule is: if I drink I’m never having dessert, and if I’m having dessert, I don’t drink.”

9. Add extra vegetables to everything. “I bulk up on veggies,” says Rachel.

Roasted Carrots and Zucchini

Every Sunday, Rachel roasts a big batch of vegetables to add to lunches, dinners, and snacks during the week.

“On Sundays, I roast a bunch of vegetables so I can chop them up and add them to meals all week long. I make sure to have lots of vegetables with every meal.”

10.  Steer clear of packaged foods. “It’s so much easier to cook things for yourself,” says Rachel. “Cooking really doesn’t take that much time—just a little bit of prep work.” For example, Rachel makes frozen white fillets of fish with puttanesca sauce. “It takes 20 minutes to cook,” she explains. Another favorite: Chicken sausage with diced veggies, sautéed with beets and mushrooms on bed of polenta. Turkey meatloaf is another go-to dish: Rachel makes a big batch on the weekends so she has enough for lunch during the week.

Communicating with your partner about your goals is so important, too, particularly when it comes to meals. Rachel credits her husband with helping her stay on track. “Brandon would find my Weight Watchers Point allowance for the day and make us romantic dinners that were delicious and good for me, too,” she explains.

“Putting it All Together”

Reaching Weight Watchers Goal

Rachel is now a lifetime member of Weight Watchers after having reached her goal.

When asked how it feels to be a Weight-Loss Success Story, Rachel had this to say: “I feel very blessed to be able to tell my story. The more you isolate yourself and tell yourself you have it all together, the worse you do. When you surrender to the fact that you need help, the more successful you are.”

“It’s okay to not be able to do it all by yourself. I was paralyzed because I never wanted to do the hard work, the soul searching.”

Weight Loss Success Story

“One of the reasons I love this picture is I’m completely in the moment with my daughter, Colbie Laia, and not worried about having it captured in a photo—which was always the case before I lost the weight,” says Rachel.

“I make no claims to be a master of this or a perfectionist. I just need to eat the right food every day. I need to drink 6 to 8 cups of water every day. And I need to work out 4 to 5 days a week.”

But the results are so worth it: “Now I get up in the morning and go to my job without worrying about what to wear or what’s going to fit. That’s so damaging to your confidence,” says Rachel, who admits to never having worn pants with zippers before. “I would always wear dresses and stockings because that’s what felt comfortable. I didn’t own a pair of jeans or black pants. In fact, I couldn’t stand buying clothes. Now I buy 6s and 8s—and they fit perfectly. I don’t have to worry about buying clothes any more.”

“Suddenly I’m the person who can manage my live and thrive and not feel like I’m drowning,” explains Rachel. “Now I don’t look at things that are hard and feel like I can’t do them. I look at things and think about how I can achieve them. That’s an amazing gift.”

Weight Loss Success Story

Rachel at her sister’s wedding—radiating happiness and confidence.

“I was at the mercy of food for 30 years,” she says. “Enough is enough. The way I look at it: Food is either going to nurture and sustain me or it’s going to bring me back to a place where I never want to go again. It’s my choice. And I’ve decided I’m not going back to that place ever again.”

“But weight is just the beginning. What I learned about myself and my potential and the resilience of the human spirit has honestly transformed my entire perspective,” says Rachel. “I am an athlete. Together with my husband, we race through 5ks and 10ks and a half marathon. I’ve crossed the finish line in my healthy, strong body that birthed my daughter, that danced at my wedding, that crumbled in sadness and hopelessness, and that healed itself from a lifetime of pain. I am so incredibly grateful and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

 

7 Healthier Baking Swaps You Should be Making Today

Written by: on Saturday, December 21st, 2013
Cut-out cookies

With a few simple swaps, you can make your holiday cut-outs healthier…without sacrificing taste.

I’m getting ready to do a bunch of holiday baking with my kids this weekend and early next week. While it’s easy to just make the recipes exactly as they’re spelled out in the cookbooks we’ll be using, I researched some healthier swaps — that I’ll sneak in when the kids aren’t looking.

I also got a chance to talk to Debra K., a health and wellness expert who’s the host and executive producer of the TV show, the Journey Into Wellbeing. As part of this show, she writes a Recipe Redo Blog. “The concept is to take traditional recipes we all know and love and ‘redo’ them in a manner that is healthier and tastes great. This is something I have always done on my own, so I thought it would be great to create a site that features recipes that everyone can feel confident in preparing. We have already received recipes from chefs all over the country who are creating healthier recipes of their state’s top foods.”

Bottom line: With these swaps, no one (my kids included) will ever notice the difference…in taste. But I’ll know the difference…in that the foods we’ll be cooking will have less fat and fewer calories—along with a few added nutrients.

Here are the recipe swaps I’ll be trying this weekend:

Applesauceforbaking

Add some applesauce to your brownies, cakes, and sweetbreads, and you’ll be adding vitamin C.

1) Substitute an equal amount of fruit puree (e.g., applesauce) for oil in cake, brownie, bread, or muffin mixes. The fruit adds flavor, moisture, and tenderness to baked goods when the oil is omitted. You can also substitute canned pumpkin (rich in vitamin A) for fat in spice breads, spice cakes, or chocolate desserts like brownies. I also like to add canned pumpkin and cinnamon to chocolate-chip cookies (and to pancakes and waffles) as they add great nutrients and honestly, the kids never notice the difference (except that they taste really good).

Debra K. recommends swapping out only half the oil with the fruit puree for best consistency and taste. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup oil; use only ½ cup oil with ½ cup fruit puree.

2) Use two egg whites or one-quarter cup egg substitute in place of one egg and you’ll trim about 60 calories and six grams of fat from your treats overall. The only recipe I won’t be using this in is our cut-out cookies—as my recipe only calls for only one egg and I don’t want to mess with the consistency of cut-out cookies, particularly when you’re doing it with three young kids!

EnjoyLifeChocolateChips

These are great chips for those who don’t eat dairy—and now they come in dark chocolate!

3) Substitute one cup of mini chocolate chips in place of two cups of the regular kind to slash 1,120 calories and 64 grams of fat. If you can’t find mini-chips, cut the amount of chocolate chips you use in half—and add pecans or walnuts (if your kids can eat them) to the mix for healthy fat, healthy protein, and nutrients. I would also add here: if you can use dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate, you’ll be upping all-important antioxidants in your baked goods too! We use (and love) the chocolate chips by Enjoy Life since they’re dairy-, nut-, gluten-, and soy-free.

JulesGlutenFreeFlour

I swear by this flour; it makes the best cut-out cookies! Go to julesglutenfree.com to buy (and get recipes).

4) Replace one cup of white flour with whole-wheat flour to add 10 grams of heart-healthy fiber. Debra K. also recommends trying a combination of gluten-free flour (if you’re gluten free) and oat flour instead of wheat. If you are gluten-free, I’d highly recommend the Jules Gluten-free Flour; it’s simply the best flour I’ve ever tried in consistency and taste.

5) Substitute low-fat cream cheese and milk in place of full-fat varieties to reduce fat. (Don’t use nonfat products, though, as you need some fat to get right texture.) If you’re avoiding dairy, Debra K. recommends substituting coconut or coconut almond blend milk for dairy milk in recipes. I also find that rice milk and almond milk work in a direct substitution if the recipe calls for milk; you really don’t sacrifice anything in consistency or taste. (Note: we love the Organic Unsweetened Almond and Rice Milks from the 365 Whole Foods Brand.)

6) Cut back on the sugar in any recipe by 25 percent—and you’ll reduce calories and sweetness—without sacrificing flavor. So if the recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, you can easily use 1 ½ cups of sugar. I am definitely going to be doing this with our sugar cut-out cookies!

EarthBalanceSpread

My entire family (including my kids) loves this stuff…and you honestly cannot taste a difference when you use it in baked goods.

7) Swap out butter with healthier options like Earth Balance or Smart Balance. We alternate between the Earth Balance products (I like the soy-free product) and the Smart Balance Organic Buttery Spread because they both contain 0 grams of trans fats and are dairy free, vegan, and non-GMO (genetically modified ingredients). Honestly, there’s no reason to use artery-clogging butter anymore!

Two other swaps that sound very interesting and worth a try if you’re making brownies: Puree soft or silken tofu (high in protein and calcium), then use it in a one-to-one ratio to replace half the fat in your favorite brownie recipe. Another option (but be careful about consistency if you’re using in the same brownie recipe): Mix in finely grated raw beets (two-thirds of a cup) to brownie batter (they add sweetness, moisture, and antioxidants/nutrients)—and you can cut back the sugar you use by a quarter cup.

 

Hope these recipe swaps help you! Know that these easy substitutions won’t affect consistency or taste, but will keep you  (and your kids) healthier. Happy baking!

 

 

 

 

Healthy & Yummy! Holiday Gingerbread

Written by: on Thursday, December 19th, 2013
HolidayGingerbreadCookies

‘Tis the season for holiday baking! With a few smart substitutions, your treats can be a lot healthier.

Decorating gingerbread men. Building gingerbread houses. Holiday baking with your kids is always special. But these two gingerbread projects can be tricky and time consuming. Since I love gingerbread, I developed this recipe for gingerbread squares. It’s easy and are you ready for this: it’s fat-free. That’s because instead of using shortening or oil, you make a healthy substitution and use unsweetened applesauce. I have discovered that swapping the applesauce for the traditional fat results in gingerbread that is light and moist and nobody seems to notice the difference.

I always make gingerbread squares when I ‘m hosting a party or having a few friends over for holiday cheer.  The sweet gingerbread aroma is so inviting, it will make your home smell like a Christmas bake shop. One whiff and your guests won’t want to leave. (Maybe that is not a good thing?!)  I usually serve the gingerbread squares with a big dollop of Cool Whip or frozen vanilla yogurt. How do you like to eat your gingerbread?

healthy gingerbread Gingerbread Squares

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat white flour

2/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1 cup molasses

3 egg whites

light or fat-free whipped topping (optional)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 325-degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and spices, and stir to mix well. Add the applesauce, molasses, and egg whites, and mix until dry ingredients are moist and combined. Be careful not to over-mix.

2) Coat a 9-X-13-inch pan with cooking spray, and spread the batter in the pan. Bake for 40 minutes or just until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

3) Cool the gingerbread to room temperature and cut into squares. Serve the gingerbread with a dollop of whipped topping if desired.

Nutrition Information: 180 calories, 3 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams dietary fiber, 0.5 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 215 milligrams sodium

 

 

4 Good Reasons You Should be Drinking Tea…Every Day

Written by: on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Green tea in pot

Home-brewed green tea has more antioxidants than anything you’ll find in a bottle. For best results, steep for no more than 3 minutes.

You know when Starbucks—the king of coffee—buys a tea brand like Teavana, and opens the first Tea Bar in Manhattan, tea is going to be the next big thing. Or maybe it is already, if you look at the stats from the Tea Association of the U.S.A. which says that on any given day, more than 158 million Americans are drinking tea. But there are plenty of reasons you should be one of them; here are the four top ones:

1) Tea—particularly green tea—may help prevent cancer. The magic number: three to five cups a day, according to a 2009 review of 51 green tea studies conducted by the Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany. Research has focused on the fact that tea is rich in disease-fighting polyphenols, specifically catechins that appear to have cancer-fighting and health-promoting properties. (Green tea is particularly rich in catechins.) What’s the big deal about these? Polyphenols are thought to rid the body of harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage a cell’s DNA and may trigger cancer and other diseases.

Teavana Bar in New York City

Teavana’s first tea bar is located at 1142 Madison Avenue at 85th Street. Next tea bar location: Seattle…of course!

Note: if you don’t like the bitter taste of green tea, try white tea. This tea is also high in antioxidants but has a more mellow, sweeter flavor than green teas. (Note that herbal brews, like chamomile and peppermint, are not technically considered tea; they’re infusions of plants. Tea is technically black, green, white, or oolong teas—all of which are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.)

2) It may lower your risk of Parkinson’s 

Alice's Tea Cup in Manhattan

An Alice in Wonderland-inspired tea shop located in New York City.

Disease. Drinking up to four cups of green or black tea daily has been linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease (a progressive disease of the nervous system), according to the National Institutes of Health.

3) It may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Black and green tea have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. One Japanese study, in particular, found that adults who drank five or more cups of green tea daily had a 26 percent reduction in heart attack or stroke death when compared with those who had one cup or less. What’s more: the benefit seemed to be greater in women than in men.

4) It can reduce stress. That’s because the very ritual of sitting down for a cup of tea is relaxing. “If you look at different cultures, like Japan and China, they have a very elaborate ritual for the taking of tea,” says Nancy Baker, founder of AnaBeall’s tea room in Westfield, New Jersey. “We look at tea differently than coffee; you don’t hear about coffee rituals” [unless your idea of a ritual is grabbing a cup of joe to go!].

Alice's Tea Cup in Manhattan

You’ll find plenty of sweets, plus an amazing brunch, at Alice’s Tea Cup.

From Teavana’s newest Manhattan outpost to small tea rooms like AnaBeall’s or Alice’s Tea Cup (which has various locations throughout New York City), you’re sure to find a spot to relax and de-stress. We got a chance to visit Alice’s Tea Cup—which boasts over 100 exclusive teas—from black and green tea to red and white blends—from around the world (not to mention Alice in Wonderland effects), as well as an amazing brunch. (All food is served on a three-tiered silver platter, and tea, in a personal-sized, colorful teapot.) If you’re looking for a sweet savory brunch with a delicate, Victorian ambiance, Alice’s Tea

CupsofGreenTea

Tea —first said to be discovered in China in 2737 B.C.—was first considered a tonic, used for medicinal purposes only.

Cup will make you feel like you’ve stepped inside the page of a fairy-tale! (Kate Holmes—and Suri—are fans.)

Our favorite teas at Alice’s: Drink-Me-Detox Tea, which is white tea blend with Pai Mu Tan, Silver Needle, Jasmine, and white teas with organic Rooibos, mixed together for a subtle brew; Alice’s Birthday Tea, which is described as a classic blend of black teas with tropical fruits and flowers; and Tranquil Tummy Tea, which is a blend of red teas with organic ginger, and peppermint. Alice’s Tea Cup’s has three locations: 102 West 73rd St, 156 E. 64th st, and 220 East 81st St.

Wherever you decide to have your cup of tea—know that it’s good for your health (unless you eat too many scones along with it!).

A New Way to Control Crazy Food Cravings

Written by: on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
Woman Eating Chocolate Bar

Yes, this used to be me...craving anything (and everything!) sweet.

I used to crave sugar…desperately….morning, noon (mostly), and night. I was a full-on sugar addict. I would find reasons to whip up a batch of cookies (or a cake) all the time. And I drank a chai tea latté (from a mix that was loaded with sugar) every morning. In fact, I looked forward to that chai tea every day.

At that same time, I was also not getting a lot of sleep (I was breastfeeding my baby—which lasted 18 months) and was stressed handling three kids and a growing business. Looking back in time, I was a sugar addict when was working around the clock, too, sans baby. I’ve found that stress, lack of sleep, and lack of mindfulness when it comes to living and eating are all triggers for out-of control cravings—which can lead to weight gain and yo-yo weight fluctuations.

ChocolateChipCookies

Always craving cookie or cake (like I did)? You may need to do some guided imagery.

Now, I’m much more mindful because I’m not rushing through life at warp speed; I get plenty of sleep (when one of the kids isn’t waking me up because of a nightmare or a tummyache) and I’m eating a diet that’s rich in greens, whole grains, and beans. The result: I’m not craving the sweet stuff anymore. In fact, I don’t really get food cravings any more. I’m back down to my pre-baby weight—and have more energy than ever.

Mindfulness Sign

Good advice for every aspect of our lives: stop rushing—and start appreciating the present moment!

So it’s no surprise to me, then, that I recent study from Plymouth University in the UK found that Guided Imagery (a technique of focusing and guiding thoughts that uses all the senses) helps to reduce food cravings. People involved in the study were asked to abstain from food overnight, and then to carry out 10 min of something called body scanning (a form of meditation), guided imagery, or a mind-wandering task.

They rated their cravings before, during, and after. While cravings rose for the mind wanderers, it didn’t for the guided imagery or body scanning groups.

Investigators conclude that “brief guided imagery strategies might form useful components of weight-loss programs that attempt to address cravings”. My bottom line: being mindful of your life, of what you eat, of what you do every second of the day helps you stay focused and in balance—which benefits your health, your weight, and your sanity.

If you need help with guided imagery or mindfulness, here are two resources I highly recommend (and have used myself):

 

JonKabat-ZinnMindfulnessforBeginners

A basic guide to mindfulness that I have listened to many times.

Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn (CD, $13.37). Just listening to this guy’s voice is enough to de-stress you, but this CD helps you learn how to stop and become mindful in all aspects of your life.

 

 

Belleruth Naparstek Weight Loss Guided Imagery

A super-effective guided imagery CD.

Health Journeys Weight Loss by Belleruth Naparstek (mp3, $11.98; CD, $17.98). Belleruth is the expert when it comes to guided imagery.

Seeds: Why You Should Add Them to Your Diet…Today

Written by: on Thursday, July 18th, 2013
Healthy, Edible Seeds

Seeds are an oft-forgotten source of protein and key nutrients.

Times have changed from when we used to joke about people who ate “nuts and berries”. Today’s athletes routinely enjoy nuts and berries and are now looking for ways to notch up their diets with more seeds (such as flax and chia). This trend can enhance the health of both our bodies—and the planet. That is, by choosing more plant foods, we’ll end up eating less meat and animal protein. If each of us were to eat just one less pound of beef per week, greenhouse gas emissions would drop significantly.

While seeds are health-enhancing choices to include in your diet, their nutritional value can sometimes get exaggerated. The following information offers a perspective on some “trendy” foods that are getting mainstreamed.

Nuts and Seeds

Want to add a nice crunch, along with vitamins and minerals, to your diet? Sprinkle some slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, pistachios, sunflower and sesame seeds into your yogurt, cereal, salad, and smoothie. Nuts and seeds offer protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and many other nutrients. The fact that a plant grows from a nut or seed indicates it is life sustaining.

Many nuts and seeds offer alpha linoleic acid, also known as ALA, a type of health-protective omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. While ALA from plants is not as potent as the type of omega-3s found in fish, any omega-3 fat is better than none. But dieters beware! When you nonchalantly toss a few spoonfuls of nuts and seeds into your smoothies and salads to pump up their nutritional value, you can also easily toss in 100 to 400 calories. While vegans may need this protein and calorie boost, if you’re weight-conscious, you might want to think twice.

Comparing Seeds and Nuts This chart shows how 1/4 cup of nuts and seeds (two spoonfuls or a large handful) adds a lot of calories but minimal protein towards the daily target of about 60 to 90 grams of protein. Vegans still need additional plant proteins, like beans and tofu, to get enough protein.

Seed¼ cup/30 g Calories Protein    g Fiber g Calcium mg Ironmg
Chia 140 5 10 180 8
Flax, ground 150 5 8 70 1.5
Hemp seeds 180 10 4  — 1
Sunflower 190 6 3 20 1
Pumpkin 170 9 2 50 2
Sesame 200 6 4 350 5
Walnuts 190 4 2 30 1
Daily target:60-90 g Daily target:25-35 g Daily target:1,000 mg Daily target:8 mg men18 mg women

Flax seeds, commonly consumed for their ALA omega-3 fat benefits, need to be ground before being eaten. Otherwise, they pass through your intestines whole and undigested.

Chia seeds also offer ALA omega-3 fats—but you don’t need to grind them. Just sprinkle chia on yogurt and enjoy the crunch. When soaked in water for 10 minutes, chia seeds create a gel that can be used as a thickener for smoothies and as an alternative to eggs and oils in some recipes. The slimy consistency of soaked chia seeds can be tough to enjoy for some. If you fall into the “no thank you” camp, worry not. You have many other options for enjoyably consuming similar nutrients in other seeds and nuts.

Sunflower Seed Butter

My kids love this! (And it's perfect for lunches in schools that don't allow peanuts.)

Sunflower seeds have a mild, pleasing taste when added to salads, trail mix, or cold cereals. For people with peanut allergies, sunflower butter is a popular alternative to peanut butter.

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are slower to eat when you buy them in the shell. This can save unwanted calories.

Hemp seeds are touted as containing all the essential amino acids. Hemp adds a protein-boost to vegan diets, but at a high price. Hemp seeds costs about $15 per pound, as compared to soy nuts, that also have all the amino acids, about $3.50/lb.

Healthy Sesame Seeds

Try some sesame seeds today!

Sesame seeds have a gentle flavor and make a nice addition to stir-fried tofu or chicken. Although sesame seeds are touted as being calcium-rich, their calcium is poorly absorbed.

Chopped nuts, such as walnuts or slivered almonds, add a protein boost—but not as much of a protein bonus as many people think. If you ate half a cup of walnuts (two big handfuls), you’d get only 8 grams of protein. For the same calories, you could add 1.5 cups of cottage cheese to your salad and get five times more protein (40 grams).

Copyright Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD

RECIPE: Super Spice Trail Mix

This Super Spice Trail Mix includes a yummy combination of health-enhancing nuts, seeds, grain, and spices. Pack it into into little individual baggies for snacks, sprinkle it into yogurt, or add it to cold or hot cereal. It offers a really nice crunch and flavor boost to shredded wheat and other bland cereals. (I found this recipe at www.McCormick.com. The McCormick Spice website offers lots of really nice and flavorful recipes filled with herbs and spices.)

Ingredients

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons paprika

3 cups nuts, such as a mix of almonds, shelled pistachios, and pecan halves

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup roasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup apple juice concentrate, thawed

1-1/2 cups dried fruit, suh as a mix of dried  cherries, cranberries, and golden raisins

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and paprika in small bowl. Set aside.

2. Place nuts, oats, and pepitas in a large bowl. Add thawed apple juice concentrate; toss until nuts are evenly coated.

3. Sprinkle with spice mixture, tossing to coat well.

4. Spread evenly on two 15x10x1-inch baking pans. 

Bake 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time. Cool completely on wire rack.

5. Stir in cherries and raisins. Store in airtight container.

Yield 24  ¼-cup servings Approximate calories per serving 200