Better Baking for Your Health

Fresh baked goods find their way into our diets from time to time, there’s no denying that, but with all of the refined carbohydrates, the treats only leave us feeling guilty. Made with white flour and sugar, most of the time they are empty calories that pack pounds onto the waistline.

To make your baked goods a bit less treacherous for your waistline, there are some changes you can try!

  • Cut back on sugar: Depending on the recipe, you can cut back as much as half of the normal amount suggested! Though sugar is still needed, this will definitely help the cause. With this, it is best to test out before planning to bake a large amount to give to someone else, because it can be a tricky switch.
  • Fat replacement: A lot of cooking forums suggest unsweetened applesauce as a replacement for oil or butter in baking recipes. This can be a huge success. What I’ve found is that the applesauce can easily be substituted 1:1 with recipes that call for oil, such as breads or cakes. The product is still extremely moist and delicious. With butter based recipes, it changes the consistency a bit, so it is best to test those recipes.
  • White flour woes: Made from only the endosperm of the grain, it doesn’t offer much along the lines of nutrition. Because of this, many people have made the switch from white to wheat bread. Wheat flour is ground as the “whole” grain: the bran, germ and endosperm, which packs a bigger punch with fiber and protein. Substitutions work best in cookies, breads and muffins. Whether you substitute half of or the entire amount of flour with whole wheat is totally dependent upon your personal tastes. If you ask me, whole grain chocolate chip cookies are way better than the original!

*Credit to King Arthur Flour website (their whole wheat flour is what I use and recommend!)

Check out my yummy Banana Bread recipe make-over here, using the suggestions above, and see how the fat, calorie and even fiber content changed!

The Skinny on Alcohol and Healthy Weight Management

If you’re trying maintain a healthy balance in your life, it may seem that every time out for drinks with your friends could be a calorie disaster! Sugar-laden mixes push most standard cocktails well over 300 calories. Did you know that an 8-ounce pina colada can pack in 640 calories? Thats 100 calories more than a Quarter Pounder with cheese! Meanwhile, 8 oz of a Long Island iced tea tips the scale at 780 calories. But you don’t have to become a recluse to avoid these sugar bombs. Follow these tips and you’ll be in tip-top shape.


Ask Yourself-do you really need that drink?

Try to limit yourself to only a couple drinks per week. There is no nutritional benefit to liquor, so each gram of alcohol provides 7 ’empty’ calories. Not only will the drink up your caloric intake for the day, but it can also decrease your inhibitions when it comes to food. You may find yourself mindlessly overeating after drinking, be it a slice of pizza, cake, or whatever is closest to you before you stumble into bed.

Drinking alcohol can also make you feel hungrier because alcohol can lower blood sugar. Besides the fact that alcohol is highly addictive, drinking too much increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, and certain types of cancer. Leslie Schilling, RD, and low-calorie cocktail expert, said “There are many negative effects when alcohol is over consumed. Besides the obvious impaired judgment and operation of anything mechanical, decreased inhibitions and poor hydration status come to mind. Decreased inhibitions can lead to overeating and poor decisions of all sorts, while poor hydration status can leave you cramping on your morning jog and overly fatigued the next day.” If you feel pressured to be carrying a drink while out with friends-ask for soda water and lime.

Can I have your number?

According the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the allotted amount of alcohol per day is one drink for a woman and two drinks for a man.

A drink means:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5-ounce glass of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of an 80-proof liquor like vodka or rum

Each of these portions contain around the same amount of calories — 100-150 calories.

Watch the glass!

Serve wine in smaller, thinner glasses, so that you will not mindlessly pour more than the intended serving.

What are you drinking?

Remember: Despite all the press about red wine’s heart healthy benefits, the Mayo Clinic states, “There’s still no clear evidence yet that red wine is superior to other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-health benefits.” It’s not suggested by the American Heart Institute (or others) that you start drinking red wine solely for these health benefits! However, per oz, wine does have few calories than distilled spirits.

Reach for a light beer (around 100 calories per 12 ounce bottle) rather than regular bear (150 cal). Remember to stick to suggested portions (12 ounces for women and 24 ounces for men per day.)

Cocktail mixes are packed with sugar and when combined with alcohol, the calories for one drink can be 500 or more. Remember, you can also ask the bartender to make your order diet or light. Schilling’s favorite cocktail is a Vodka Grayhound-vodka and preferably fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.( See below for Schilling’s great Margarita recipe, and check out these lower Calorie Recipes of classic cocktails: Skinny Margaritas Low-cal Mojitos, Moscow Mules, and Caprhina’s . )

Start your night off with a no-cal glass of H2O and continue to have one between every drink you order. Water will keep you hydrated so you’re not chugging cocktails to quench your thirst, and  it prevents you from having a hangover the next day, so we say cheers to that.

Leslie Schilling, RD, shared with me a low calorie cocktail recipe that’s in high demand at all of her dinner parties:

The Million-Dollar Margarita

Copyright © 2010 Leslie Schilling. All Rights Reserved.

Make 2 quarts (you might as well mix the pitcher)

  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1 12 fluid ounce light beer (yes, a beer)
  • 1 long squeeze lime (optional), ~ 1 Tbsp
  • 1 container sugar-free lemonade** (makes 2 quarts
  • Water

Mix the first four ingredients in a 2 quart pitcher. If you like, add the juice of one fresh lime (or natural lime juice). Add the sugar-free lemonade and mix with a whisk (clumps aren’t very popular or tasty). Fill the pitcher to the 2 quart mark with water. Stir and chill.

These are great served on ice right away or chilled for about an hour. They’re still very drinkable for about two days. **If you’d prefer a stevia-based sweetener, use one pack of no sugar added Lemonade, like Kool-Aid, and add 1 packet stevia sweetener to each glass.

Makes ~10, 6½ oz servings. Approximate calories per serving:  120-more than half the calories of an average margarita!

Take these tips into account and you’ll never gain the dreaded beer gut! See more of Leslie’s great recipes on her new blog Sippin Smart or follow it on twitter!

Do you have any tips to share? What’s your go-to drink at the bar?

Making Fast Food Trips Healthier for You

It’s true, most fast food is not good for you. Rarely do you see fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains. But life throws us curve balls, and sometimes it’s pick up some fast food or battle a blood sugar nose dive. In this blog post, I’ll help you make the best of the fast food choices.

You can make smart choices and I’ve picked some of the best options. As a general rule, to avoid excessive fat and calories, skip the fried foods and opt for grilled. Get your sauce on the side, go without “extra” cheese, and get the smallest size possible. The only advantage of “super sizing” is if you plan to share the meal with someone else. Don’t drink any calories. That means no sweet tea, soda, or other sweetened beverages. Go for water, low fat milk, a 4 oz 100% juice, or a sugar free diet water beverage.

Chipotle offers an amazing variety of Mexican based cuisine that you can customize. The problem? Portions are out of control and toppings push some of the burritos over 1000 calories. For 300 calories you could get 3 hard or soft shell tacos filled with the vegetable fajita mix, lettuce, and medium spice green salsa.The nutrition totals: 300 kcal, 15 g fat, 5 g protein, 35 g carbs

From soups and sandwiches to salads and pastries, Panera is on the verge of gourmet to go. While it may be your first instinct to place your order for a salad, think again. Fast food salads often contain sneaky calories in the form of croutons or chowmein noodle toppings, enormous portions, and the biggest culprit of all, an overload of dressing. Your best bet is to go for the “You Pick Two”. Get the low fat garden vegetable soup. The soup totals up to 90 calories with zero grams of fat. For your second part of the order, you can get your salad, but this time it’s portion controlled. A half strawberry poppy seed and chicken salad pulls in some protein and evens out at 140 calories (4 g fat, 14 g carb, 14 g protein).

While this fast food colossus has received the brunt of fast food criticism, they do have some realistic options which is why the final three picks come from the golden arches.
Recent hype about super-quadruple-double burgers is ridiculous. One person does not need that amount of food or sodium within a day! A single hamburger patty is a realistic Mc’D’s option. 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, 31 g carbs, and 12 grams of protein.

Snack Wraps are correctly portioned for a lunch (not a snack!) and keep you from feeling like you’re skimping out on a meal. The honey mustard grilled chicken is 260 calories with 9 grams of fat, 27 grams of carbs, and 18 grams of protein.

Sometimes you need a sweet pick me up and in this heat, what better classic, than an ice cream cone? The regular size ice cream cone has only 100 calories.

Small Changes for Big Results: Rebecca’s Interview on Fox 5

By: Carlene Helble-Elite Nutrition Intern

Healthy eating should not make you stressed out. Making small changes to move towards a more nutritious and beneficial diet can help by leaps and bounds in the long run. Rebecca’s interview with Fox 5 DC gave great pointers on tips you can use to start improving your diet this summer.

Americans are notorious for drinking their calories so by replacing a soda with a Fruit2O or 100 percent fruit juice with sparkling water to make a spritzer, you can easily shave off excess sugar intake and calories. Another thing many of us are guilty of is ignoring our bodies ‘hungry/full’ signal. By keeping small snacks like SunSweet Ones (Delicious and it takes four to equal 100 calories!) or nuts in the car or in your bag, you can keep yourself in check by snacking in a healthy way when your body says it’s time to do so. Although a snack of nuts can be high in healthy fats, over indulging can quickly add up calorically. An Altoid tin full of mints helps with portion control, letting you know when it’s time to stop. Armed with these nutrient dense snacks, you can save yourself a trip through the drive through and a whole lot of excess sodium and fat. Lastly, journaling or using your phone to track dietary intake is another great small change you can make starting today! Keeping yourself accountable for what you put in your body helps you learn to listen to those hungry/full signals, as well as evaluate where you may be going wrong by over eating unhealthy foods.

Start small and get big results with each change you make!

See Rebecca’s interview here:

Talk of the Nation on NPR: Calories and Weight Loss 2yr Study

I found this radio interview on the NPR website’s show Talk of the Nation…. listen, learn and discuss. Here’s what I found most interesting:

1. exercise discussion – long term weight management

2. total lifestyle change – portion control, calories matter

I disagree with the overall message that it doesn’t matter what kind of calories. If you only eat 1500 calories a day of food and you need 2000 sure you are creating a calorie deficit. But if those calories are from a high sugar cereal with milk, a frozen meal at lunch, and a slice of pizza at dinner, you aren’t getting enough fiber, vitamins, minerals, and all the antioxidants and phytochemicals that come with eating whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.