Banana Bread Make-Over

Banana bread with a hot cup of coffee may seem like a good, quick breakfast or an afternoon snack, but bite for bite, it may not be worth the damage! My recipe, a similar version found in many cookbooks (posted below), yielded the following numbers per serving when cut into 12 thick slices.

290 calories

15 grams fat

1.5 grams fiber


Here is the original recipe, with the substitutions in bold..

  • 1 2/3rd cup all-purpose flour (substituted entirely with whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar (I only used 2/3rd cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil (substituted entirely with ½ cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (substituted entirely with 2 tbsp fat-free vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3rd cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  1. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt (do not sift).
  2. Beat sugar and eggs with whisk or electric mixer until fluffy, then add oil (unsweetened applesauce).
  3. Combine mashed bananas, sour cream (fat free yogurt) and vanilla, then add to sugar mixture.
  4. Fold in flour mixture and toasted walnuts.
  5. Pour into medium/large loaf pan or two small loaf pans lined with parchment paper. Bake about 50 minutes
  6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour

Ready for the big reveal? After all of the substitutions here’s the change…

190 calories

5.5 grams of fat

3.5 grams fiber

Making little changes or substitutions can yield delicious and healthy results.

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?

Agave Nectar No Healthier Than Othan Sweeteners

Have you turned your love of sugar in to a love of agave in an effort to be healthier? Maybe you should rethink much “love” you give it. If you are unfamiliar, agave nectar (ah gav ee) is a sweetener that ranges in color from light to dark, depending on the processing time and amount of minerals in the product. It is less thick than honey or maple syrup and has a sweeter taste. The agave sweetener comes from various species of the agave plant. After the juice has been extracted, it is heated to create simple sugars. The final product is some percentage of the sugars glucose and fructose.

So far agave should remind you of typical sugar sweeteners – including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). However, the reality is that in recent years agave has been given a “health halo.” Since agave is vegan and can be processed at lower heat temperatures to satisfy raw food enthusiasts, it is an obvious desirable sweetener for some. But people have been flocking to use agave more and more because of its “low glycemic index” (low immediate effect on blood sugar). Since agave is mostly fructose the glycemic index is lowest of all the sugars. This has led some people to believe that agave is a healthier option. However, low glycemic index does not mean healthy. In fact, fructose is metabolized directly by the liver, which is different from other sugars, and can lead to fatty liver deposits. High fructose intake has also been linked to weight gain, insulin resistance, and heart disease risk in animal studies.

At best, agave is no healthier for you than other sweeteners. The fructose in agave (even if they call it natural) is not the same fructose in a piece of natural fruit. It is processed. Like all processed food products with added sugars, you should have them rarely and in limited quantities. There is no reason to select agave before other sweeteners when it comes to nutrition.

However, there may be culinary benefits. For example, the light agave is neutral in flavor and might be a good choice to sweeten sauces or beverages. The darker agave has a more caramel flavor and might be preferred for more robust dishes.

Agave is not the “angel” it’s been made out to be and certainly is not deserving of the “health halo” it has been given. That said, it’s not a “devil” ingredient either if you are health conscious. Like all sugars, it’s up to you to decide how much you will have and how often. Avoiding foods with added sugars altogether is not entirely realistic, but don’t think of agave as a free pass to eat a pan of cookies or brownies made with the nectar, either.

Fruit2o “Docks” at Boston Harborfest to Get Pledges for Healthy Living

Hey Beantown residents… Are you without plans for the fourth of July? Boston Harborfest ( in the Boston, Massachusetts City Hall Plaza could be just what you’re looking for! Running from the 2nd of July to the 5th, the event is free with over 200 events and Fruit2o will be there too.

Between historical reenactments, tours, concerts, and Chowderfest, stop by the Fruit2o booth to sample some of the new Fruit2o Essentials flavors and make a pledge to be healthier with “small changes”. You may have heard me talk about making small behavior changes before on my interview with Fox 5 in D.C. and other interviews throughout the summer in my work with Fruit 2o.

A small change is the best jump start to living healthier. Small changes can be anything from walking 15-30 minutes each day or drinking less sweetened beverages (sodas, energy drinks, sweet tea). Sugar sweetened drinks have little nutrition for the calories and can lead to weight gain and diabetes. According to the Massachusetts Diabetes Prevention Program, an estimated 110,388 more people in Massachusetts had diabetes in 2007. As little as one 20-oz sugar sweetened beverage a day (17 tsp) is nearly twice the recommended “sugar limit” (9 tsp) — eek!

If you want flavor, you can try hydrating with a zero calorie water beverage like Fruit2o. Miss soda bubbles? Mix equal parts Fruit 2o and seltzer water over ice for a zero calorie fruit flavored cooler.

When you pledge to make a small change like the ones above, you can also make a difference in the fight against diabetes. For every pledge, Fruit20 will generously give a dollar to your local American Diabetes Association. A small change for you can mean a big change for the community! What a great trade off!

Can’t make it to Boston? Visit Fruit2o on Facebook and write a pledge on their wall. They’ll still donate a buck on your behalf. Be sure to specify the Boston chapter of the American Diabetes Association.

For more information on the Boston Harborfest, follow them on twitter or visit their website.

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: