I’m not even going to make excuses for the fact that things have gotten a little stale over here on the old blog. I’m sure it’s self explanatory that when I get busy, something’s gotta give and this blog (aka my little labor of love) definitely gets tossed to the side for more important things, like work and keeping my sanity. BUT life has calmed down some (I moved yet again – in the past 6 months, I’ve lived in 5 houses and numerous couches…no for real) so I finally have time to resurrect the blog and share a little gem of a recipe with you all (or should I say y’all? No matter how long I live in Texas, that phrase will always sound foreign coming from my lips…).
So it’s May, which means that summer is quickly approaching (or if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate like me, then it’s basically already here). Summer = swim suit season, and I don’t care how confident you are with yourself, wearing a tiny piece of Lycra makes even the most secure a little more self conscious. To help ready my bikini body, I’ve been trying to include lots of fresh fruits and veggies in my diet to help me fill up without filling out (ha) and to banish bloat. I created this recipe awhile ago and have since tested it on my roommates, who gave it their enthusiastic approval, and at a little get together we had at our house where it was almost gone before I got any so I’m guessing it didn’t suck that bad :)
Enter my Summer Detox Salad. Each ingredient was carefully selected for a specific purpose to help detoxify your bod. You’ll notice that there aren’t specific amounts posted for the ingredients; that’s because I hate to measure out things when I cook and tend to just go with the flow. So just chop up the following into whatever ratio you feel like and enjoy :)
SUMMER DETOX SALAD: (note: use all fresh produce and organic if possible)
-cucumber, cut into rounds then quartered (or whatever you feel like, it’s your salad)
-cantaloupe, cut into cubes
-juice from 2 (or more) limes, fresh squeezed (can also use lemon, which is probably even more detoxifying)
-splash of red wine vinegar (could also sub apple cider vinegar, but I prefer red wine for the taste)
-dash of sea salt (don’t get too crazy now, it still is salt and too much WILL make you bloat, trust me)
Chop, mix, and enjoy! Doesn’t it even look fresh and healthy?
Have an amazing week and let me know if you try the salad :)
I don’t know about you, but I love moving somewhere new. Sure, packing and the actual physical process of moving all your shit is a pain in the ass, but to me, traveling and setting up shop in a new city kind of makes me feel like I’m on vacation. Everything is new and novel again, and here in Austin, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface off all the recommended things to go do and see.
(I stole this pic of Red Bud Isle, which is dog park heaven – definitely a must see if you have a four legged friend like mine)
And what’s the fun of vacation if you don’t let yourself go a little bit? By that I mean boozing it up, going out to eat, and letting some of your previous established healthy habits and routines slide (*cough cough* like exercise…oops). So because I think I’m on vacation, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been in a little bit of a vacay mode the past couple of weeks. Sure, I’ve gone out for runs or scoped out some new yoga classes. And yes, I’ve been eating fairly healthy (just ask my poor roommates who have to endure my grocery shopping lists, which include foreign to them items like chia seeds, almond milk, and kale). But I still feel a little too lax. And when it interferes with how I feel (like how I huffed and puffed through my entire run today?), then I know it’s time for a change.
But how do I get myself “back on track”? How do we find the motivation to stop living like hedonists and start taking care of ourselves again? Because let’s face it, sometimes healthy living kind of, well, SUCKS. Sometimes it’s hard to say no to that second (or third) glass of wine at the end of a long day. And sometimes I want a brownie a whole lot more than a salad. But deep down, I know that making healthy choices the majority of the time makes me feel (and probably look) better, and usually that’s enough to help guide me in the right direction.
So here’s my plan of attack for getting out of vacation mode and into healthy living HAM mode (please refer to the Kanye and Jay-Z classic “HAM” should you not understand the reference and then thank me later for dropping a classic hip hop gem on your ears):
1. Regulate my sleep schedule: due to my “fun employment”, my sleep cycle is ALL over the place. It’s not unusual to go to bed at 3 in the morning, and I find that this really messes with my energy levels. In addition, I learned that research has shown that those who work second or third shifts at work (i.e. the night shift) tend to be much more likely to have depressive disorders because their circadian rhythms are so out of whack and because they aren’t exposed to as much sunlight as regular shift workers. It’s time to start setting a bedtime…and then actually sticking to it.
2. Workout a minimum of 4 times per week: I NEED exercise in my life for several reasons, such as the post workout endorphins, increased energy, stress relief, and to a lesser degree, to keep my ass from getting out of control (hey I’ll admit it, and I won’t apologize for the confidence that building new muscles in my body instills in me). For me, 4 times a week is the magic number I need to keep my sanity; any less and I can feel my fitness levels sliding. Now this number is different for everyone and what works for me may not work for you – some people need more and some people need less. But if I can squeeze in 4-6 workouts a week (and at this point in my life, there’s no reason I can’t), then I’m golden.
3. Eat clean and eat like a PRO: I became a dietitian because I believe that what we use to fuel our body can help us live and feel better, so eating clean is definitely up at the top of my priority list. So what does “eating clean” mean? Well for me, it involves whole grains, healthy sources of fat, and eating like a PRO, which is a phrase I’m borrowing from The Fitnessista (check out her blog at www.fitnessista.com if you’re living under a rock and haven’t already). To eat like a PRO, make each meal and/or snack contain a healthy source of PROtein (i.e. lean cuts of meat, fish, poultry, tofu, tempeh, soy, etc.), a type of PROduce, and (this I’m adding to her definition) make it as unPROcessed as possible. Of course, there will be times where this isn’t possible, but I can assure you that the more you eat like a PRO, the better you’ll feel.
4. Drink your water already: Why oh why it is so hard for me to stay hydrated lately? When I had a desk job, I always had a water bottle by my side and sipped on it throughout the day, which added up to several cups of good old H2O by the time I left for home. Now that I’m home, it’s harder to drink up which baffles me because I figured it would be easier than ever to have access to fluids. Whatever the case, I need more water and I need it now. Being dehydrated causes a decrease in your metabolism and increased fatigue, can lead to overeating, and is even bad for your skin. I’ve started to go on the offensive by making pitchers of my favorite cucumber water and stocking sparkling water for when I need a little carbonation.
5. Listen to your mom and take your vitamins: I know there’s considerable debate as to whether a multivitamin is really that beneficial, but it makes me THINK I feel better (whether its psychosomatic or physiological I don’t know and I don’t care).
So what are your tips and tricks for getting out of vacation mode and getting on the healthy living bandwagon? Any advice for me? If so, I’d love to hear it.
Here’s to a healthier week,
1. Your yoga instructor ends class by whipping out his guitar and serenading everyone while you are trying to relax during savasana (and trying REALLY hard not to laugh)
2. Your boyfriend plays in a band called “Lost in a World of Color”
3. Your house stands out if you DON’T have a compost pile and an organic garden
4. Your city recycle container is bigger than the trash container they give you
5. The gas station sells kombucha, coconut water, and gluten free/dairy free/organic snacks
6. There’s a Whole Foods on EVERY corner
7. You can take your dog to the bar. Here’s proof:
8. The 80 year old man passing you on his bike while you’re out riding yours might be in better shape than you are
9. You’re babysitting a 3 year old who tells you, “I’m only allowed to drink organic milk”
10. People actually wear clothing that’s burnt orange, which by the way, flatters no one (sorry UT)
*note: all of the above actually happened to me…can’t make this stuff up :)
Come visit me soon, mmm k?
Hi blog. Sorry if I’ve been away for too long. It’s not that I forgot you…ok maybe I did. But in my defense, I was really busy with some major life changes. Within the span of 3 months, I moved to a new place in Corpus, said goodbye to some great friends, coworkers, and a wonderful job, packed up my dog and every other possession of mine and took it all up to Austin where I am happy and energized like never before (even if I am gainfully unemployed, or “fun-employed” which is the term I prefer). :)
(a photo from my going away dinner where I’m pretty sure I got mild food poisoning…thanks again Corpus for making sure it was a night to remember)
While Corpus Christi was great to me, I started to feel personally, professionally, and creatively stifled over time. While routines are comforting, I craved a change and the challenge of a new beginning, which told me it was time to move on. After all, we can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.
So far, Austin is like a breath of fresh air. I’ve found that people here value their health and well-being, which inspires and motivates me. Austin also has a rep as a breeding ground for artists and musicians, and I love being exposed to such a creative environment.
I’m still figuring out what’s next for me, and while at times I panic over my lack of direction, I have to say that I’m enjoying being in limbo (which I anticipate will continue until I completely run out of money haha). I’m extremely fortunate to be in a situation where I can take a little time off and decompress, figure out what’s most important to me, and focus on what I want to do next.
When I started this blog, I made a point of keeping information about my personal life to a minimum and focused more on deciminating nutrition information. While I still want the blog to be focused on my passion for health, wellness, and nutrition, I’ve decided to open up a little more about myself. I’ve found that I have learning and interest increases when things have a personal connection; being able to relate to the content and it’s applicability in the “real world” is important. Not to mention that the blogs I love the most have a personal element to them, and I want my blog to be something I would like to read even if it wasn’t mine.
To those who read what I post on here: thanks for reading, and as always, if there is anything you’d like me to write about, shoot me an email or let me know – I’m open to anything.
P.S. To those who left comments and questions, I’m sorry it took so long to respond. I promise to be a better blogger from here on out :)
In life, there are a few things that are just too good to be true, like the perfect man (or woman), that easy get rich quick scheme you saw on an infomercial, or my boss’s hope that I will start making it to work on time (I’m trying I swear). So when I heard that consuming a little green coffee bean extract was proven to help people lose weight, I immediately wanted to know more so I could either promote it to my patients, or file it away in the too good to be true category.
But for starters, what is green coffee bean extract and how is it supposed to help people lose weight? Green coffee bean extract is a supplement made from unroasted – or green – coffee beans. To make the extract, the coffee beans are soaked to extract the naturally occurring caffeine and chlorogenic acid, which is then dried down and concentrated. Because the beans are not roasted, they are alleged to contain more antioxidant power rather regular roasted coffee beans.
Use of the green coffee bean extract has been promoted for weight loss since the publication of a 2012 study where participants who took a green coffee bean extract supplement lost about 18 lbs on average – all without changing their diet or adding any exercise. Buzz for the supplement grew when it was promoted on the Dr. Oz show and when my beloved Starbucks created a line of Refreshers, which are a low calorie drink with the green coffee bean extract added in for “natural energy”. Supporters claim that the biggest fat fighter comes not from caffeine, which is a known stimulant that is linked to weight loss, but the cholorgenic acid, which is alleged to have a high amount of antioxidants, the ability to improve insulin levels, and it may even reduce sugar and fat absorption in the gut.
While that may sound great, there are very few published studies that have examined the extract’s effects on weight loss, and none them have studied the extract’s effects over the long term. Although it appears that taking green coffee bean extract is relatively safe, one should note that ingesting too much chlorogenic acid may raise heart disease risk since it elevates levels of an amino acid called homocysteine (which is associated with cardiovascular disease).
While the initial research is promising, I did a quick Google of green coffee bean extract supplements and many of them were not cheap…I personally wouldn’t pay that much for a supplement that may or may not help me lose weight. If I’m going to invest in a product, I want to know that it works and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. However, I do love the Starbucks Refreshers drinks (anyone else think that the Cool Lime flavor would be great with a little rum added? Although I’m sure that counteracts any health benefits…).
My final word on green coffee bean extract is this: if you don’t mind spending the money for a quality supplement, I encourage you to try it out for yourself as long as you avoid over supplementation. But if you don’t want to splurge on the extract, I can assure you that many people lose weight and maintain a healthy weight without it.
Now if only someone would bring me a Refresher to work…
Hello friends! SO sorry for the long hiatus from the blog…I’ve been super busy and traveling a lot the past month and haven’t gotten a chance to upload new posts. But I’m baaaaaaaack and ready to go! Here is part 2 of my lovely friend Jennie’s sports nutrition posts that she was kind enough to write for me. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did – I’m currently training for a half marathon and I know I will be able to put use some of her information in the weeks leading up to it! Thanks again Jenn!
Nutrient Timing -how much, how often, and when?
To train to your full potential, your muscles need to be fueled with enough carbohydrate to provide energy for your entire training session, with adequate nutrition provided after each workout for optimum recovery. As I mentioned in the last post, carbohydrate is stored in the form of glycogen and is used by the muscles during exercise. Your body has limited carbohydrate stores and when these stores get too low during exercise, you “hit the wall.” Anyone who has ever experienced this knows this feeling mostly consists of overwhelming fatigue and an urge to quit. Here is a 7- step plan developed by Nancy Clark MS, RD, CSSD, one of my favorite sports dietitians who has had the great opportunity to counsel Olympic athletes and is a marathon runner herself:
1) Carbohydrate load daily to assure your muscles are always saturated with glycogen. By carbohydrate loading, I mean taking in 3-5gm carbs per lb body weight to prevent chronic glycogen depletion that can happen with low carbohydrate intake and intense training.
2) Taper your training- do your final hard training 3 weeks before the event and begin to taper at least 2 weeks out. This gives your muscles enough time to completely refuel with carbohydrate. This can be hard for most athletes- I’ll speak for myself on that one, I’m as hard headed as it gets when it comes to my training- but research proves that athletes perform better when they tapered for a least 2 weeks (Costill et al. 1985). Maintain your standard carb intake (3-5gm/lb), your body will use the excess calories to double your glycogen stores.
3) Eat enough protein- your body does use a small amount of protein for fuel and your muscles need the amino acids provided by protein to rebuild and repair muscle fibers. 0.6-07gm/lb body weight is sufficient.
4). Choose fiber rich foods to promote regularity and keep everything in your GI tract running smoothly. If you carb load on white breads, pastas and jelly beans you will more than likely become constipated.
5). Plan your meals carefully. You know your own body- it may take some trial and error to figure out how to best fuel your body before an event. For example, if you have a jittery stomach you may need to eat a big lunch the day before a morning marathon and a smaller supper. You can carb load up to 2 days before the event to reap the benefits, this can allow you to eat a little less the day right before if you are worried about a nervous stomach.
6). Drink extra fluids- drink plenty of water and/or juice the day before the event and abstain from alcoholic beverages; they are poor sources of carbohydrate and can also be dehydrating (but who says you can’t hit the beer tent afterwards?). Drink 2-3 glasses of water up to 2 hours before the event but refrain from drinking too much. Over hydrating can be just as dangerous as under hydrating.
7) Eat breakfast on event day- carb loading is just part of your fueling plan, eating a good breakfast will prevent hunger during the event and help keep your blood sugar stable.
Eating before exercise
Eating before a workout is important for any exerciser. Just like you put fuel in a car before taking it for a drive, you need to fuel your muscles before engaging in a workout.
Not eating before exercise does you more harm than good. Some people have told me they don’t eat before exercise so they can burn fat. It is true that your body will rely on fat as a secondary source of fuel if there is an inadequate amount of carbohydrate available. However, just because you burn through fat as an energy sources doesn’t mean that you will actually lose body fat- to do this you must create a calorie deficit. By eating a pre-exercise snack, you are giving your muscles the fuel to go longer and harder, which can create a higher energy deficit than you would have if you didn’t eat anything at all.
Pre-exercise fueling guidelines will depend on the type, duration and time of your event. I will go through some generalizations that are true for every exerciser:
*Having a snack within an hour of exercise can help maintain normal blood glucose levels but does not allow enough time to replenish glycogen stores. Eating the recommended (3-5gm/lb body weight) amount of carbs every day will allow for you to perform at your best.
*If you will be exercising for more than 60 minutes and will not have time to consume any food during exercise, be sure to eat a snack 60 minutes beforehand with both carbohydrate and protein (such as a bagel with peanut butter or oatmeal made with milk). This will allow for sustained energy throughout the workout as the protein will slow down the digestion and absorption of the carbohydrate.
*If you are exercising for less than 60 minutes, consume a carbohydrate based food 30-45 minutes before your workout that digests easily and can settle comfortably in the stomach. Examples include an English muffin, granola bars, and crackers.
*Be cautious with foods high in simple sugar such as jelly beans and honey, syrups, and jelly. These foods have been known to cause rebound hypoglycemia in athletes (a spike in blood sugar followed by a sudden drop) which can lead to dizziness and early fatigue.
*Allow adequate time for digestion. Rule of thumb would be 3-4 hours for a large meal, 2-3 hours for a smaller meal, 1-2 hours for a liquid meal or snack, and less than 1 hour for a small snack. These recommendations may be different for certain people based on tolerance. If you are participating in a high-intensity workout, allow for additional digestion. Your muscles will require a stronger demand for blood flow which will have priority over the digestion that may be taking place in your stomach.
Fueling During Exercise
When exercising for bouts longer than 60 minutes, you can greatly improve your stamina by consuming 100-250 calories of carbohydrate per hour during your workout. The best would be to mix up the source of carbohydrate during prolonged exercise to get in a variety (sports drink and a banana, sports gels plus a fruit). Different sugars use different transporters in absorption, so you can absorb more carbohydrate and provide your muscles with more fuel by having a couple different types of snacks on hand (Jentjens et al. 2006).
Recovery Foods and Fluids
Your #1 priority after ending a hard workout should be replenishing your body with fluids and electrolytes so that your body can return to normal water balance. By weighing yourself before and after exercise you will know how much water weight you lost- 1lb lost= 16oz of fluid. When exercising in extreme heat or for long bouts (60 minutes or greater), be sure to replenish electrolytes lost in sweat by opting for a sports drink such as Gatorade or Powerade.
Your second priority should be to replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles. Aim for 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per lb of body weight taken at 30 minute intervals until your next meal. You may have heard that chocolate milk is a great recovery drink- this is true! It has the right amount of protein and carbohydrate along with essential vitamins and minerals to help your muscles recover quickly. Aim for 0.5 grams of carb per lb of body weight taken at 30 minute intervals until your next meal.
Hey guys! Hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of summer – I have been traveling and trying to soak up some rays and good times while I still can. Today’s post is from my good friend and fellow registered dietitian Jennie, who works as a health coach/RD for a corporate health promotion and wellness company.
I have been begging Jennie to write a post – specifically about sports nutrition – since she was a Division I cross country runner at Purdue University and still manages to run marathons and stay in phenomenal shape! I hope you all enjoy her post as much as I did, and thanks again Jenn!
As an athlete, I have learned the hard way what it takes to perform your best. Although it would seem that hours of training and pushing through those hard days at the gym is what makes an athlete, properly fueling the body is actually the most important component of a fitness plan. From the average exerciser to the elite Olympian, a high-energy eating plan is the key for athletic success.
Myth #1: Carbohydrates are fattening, so I need to give up bread, pasta, potatoes and fruit to lose weight and have a lean and athletic appearance. I try to eat as little carbohydrate as possible and fill up on protein.
Unfortunately, working as a consulting dietitian with people who want to lose weight or increase their fitness, I hear this at least 2-3 times a day. First of all carbohydrates are not fattening, excess calories are. Carbohydrates are readily used by the muscle as a quick fuel source to optimize performance on the track, basketball court, weight room, balance beam…you name it. Without question, wholesome forms of carbohydrate (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) are the best choices for fueling your muscles while promoting good health. Your body preferentially uses carbohydrate as a fuel source, so why not enjoy that bagel?
Carbohydrate should not only be consumed before a workout, but also after. Everybody has carbohydrate stores in their muscle (in the form of glycogen), when this is depleted after a hard workout you need to replenish it by eating a carbohydrate snack within 30 minutes of exercising. If you are interested in practicing this perfectly, here is a little equation to keep in mind:
Your target intake should be 0.5gm carbohydrate per pound body weight every hour, taken at 4-5 hour intervals or until you eat your next meal.
Myth #2: To build muscle, I drink 2 protein shakes per day and have double portions of meat each meal.
Protein supplements are common among many exercisers, especially those who hit the weights. My husband faithfully has his protein shake after every gym session to help his muscles recover after a tough weight lifting workout. He swears that if he skips his shake he will be hurting the next day. And depending on the intensity of the workout, this may be true- protein shakes are great if you need it. That being said, in order to build muscle you need to engage in regular strength training. The protein shake afterwards works to repair and rebuild the muscle fibers, allowing them increase in size and give you the muscular look you are going for. 0.7-0.8gm of protein per pound of body weight is more than sufficient. If you want to gain 1 lb of muscle per week, you only need an additional 14gm of protein per day- the mere amount in a 2oz portion of meat (Clark, 2008).
Although protein consumption is important for maintaining a positive amino acid pool to provide the building blocks for muscle growth, carbohydrate-rich foods remain the foundation for even a heavy weight lifting exercise plan. Why? Remember that carbohydrates are stored in the muscle to provide energy. It would be impossible to get through a hard lifting workout if the muscles you are working are depleted in their glycogen stores. Diets based on protein alone provide an inadequate amount of muscle fuel to exercise at your full potential.
Myth #3: What is the deal with caffeine and performance? Will it help prevent fatigue if I have a cup or will it do more harm than good?
From a girl who can’t get by without her morning coffee, I may be a little biased, BUT, I have done my research. : ) And coffee lovers out there, enjoy your cup of joe in the morning because caffeine has been shown by research to increase alertness and makes the effort when exercising seem easier. However, drinking too much can cause caffeine jitters, anxiety and “coffee” (acidic) stomach. Drinking coffee before an endurance event can cause some athletes GI distress, leading to many inconvenient pit stops during an event. Another concern is that consuming coffee close to meal time may be robbing your body nutritionally if you are anemic because of substances in the coffee that can inhibit iron absorption. For example, a cup of coffee consumed with a hamburger can reduce the iron absorption of that hamburger by about 40% (Zijp, Korver and Tijburg 2000). To avoid the adverse effects of coffee, keep your intake below the reasonable intake limit of 32 fluid ounces per day (CSPI 2006).
Stay tuned for Part 2 from Jennie…can’t wait!
If you’re looking to cut back on your sugar intake (and let’s face it, most of us are or should be), you may find yourself turning to an artificial or alternative sweetener to get your sweet fix. Right now, there are more options than ever at the store, including Splenda (also known as sucralose), stevia, agave, raw sugar, Sweet’n Low (saccharin), Nutrasweet (aspartame), sugar alcohols (xylitol), etc.
Even with the plethora of options available, I feel that we have yet to find the “perfect” artificial sweetener, meaning one that a.) tastes like sugar and b.) is undoubtedly safe to consume. While it is true that aspartame, Splenda, sugar alcohols, and other artificial sweeteners are approved by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” to consume, many still have their doubts. For instance, Sweet’n Low is made with sodium cyclamate instead of saccharin, because saccharin (which is allowed in US foods) has not been allowed as a food additive in Canada since the 1970s. In addition to this, there has been other research performed on artificial sweeteners throughout the world that suggest a potentially carcinogenic or toxic effect in laboratory animals. While this may not translate directly into meaning artificial sweeteners are unsafe for humans, the thought can be frightening. Finally, most researchers agree that we don’t have a lot of data concerning long term usage of these sweeteners, thus it is impossible to know for sure that there aren’t any safety issues.
Due to the growing skepticism of the safety of these sweeteners, many food manufacturers are turning to nature to find a more natural solution. Consider the mass marketing and selling of stevia, which comes from an ancient plant grown and used as a sweetener in South America for centuries. Stevia is undeniably popular and more products are being made using stevia, such as sodas and candies. However, not everyone is impressed by stevia, even if it does claim to be more “natural” due to its sometimes bitter aftertaste. Furthermore, there have also been studies linking stevia to having a mutagenic effect inside the body, which caused it to be banned in the early 1990’s in the US.
But now there is a new artificial sweetener in town, and so far, things are looking promising. Monk fruit is small gourd-like fruit that has been cultivated and used in traditional Chinese medicine for years as both a sweetener and a medicine. To get a sweet tasting sugar alternative, food manufacturers can obtain a concentrate from its juice and mix it in with a sugar alcohol to get a powder form that ends up being much sweeter than regular sugar.
One of the first major brands to do this is Nectresse, which comes from the makers of Splenda. Nectresse is made from the monk fruit extract blended with other natural sweeteners (erythritol, sugar and molasses). Currently, you can buy Nectresse in packet or canister form.
But is Nectresse really a no calorie sweetener? How can that be? According to the company, “Like other no-calorie sweeteners, NECTRESSE™ Sweetener contains a small amount of carbohydrate (1-2 grams per serving) from other food ingredients to provide needed volume and texture. These food ingredients, which include small amounts of erythritol, sugar, and molasses, contribute so few calories per serving that NECTRESSE™ Natural No Calorie Sweetener Products meet the FDA’s criteria for no-calorie foods (<5 calories/serving)”.
When I was scanning the aisles at Walmart a couple of weeks ago, I came across the Nectresse packets and was curious, so I bought some. I have given a few out to coworkers, who have said that they like the taste more than Splenda or stevia due to the absence of an aftertaste. Although I have only used Nectresse a couple times since its purchase, it seems to work fine for me and I can’t detect an aftertaste or off-putting taste either. Another bonus for Nectresse? According to their website, you can also cook with it, meaning that its heat stable. And if you’ve ever tried baking with stevia, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I’m excited to be able to use monk fruit extract instead.
But great taste aside – is monk fruit extract safe and better to consume than sugar? I tried doing a little research myself and came up with a whole lot of nothing. Even a Google of monk fruit pops up only a few websites, most of which are for the food manufacturers of monk fruit, therefore their information is obviously going to be biased. And as for long term usage, we are only going off the fact that monk fruit is safe since it’s been used in Asian medicine for years. Which is somewhat reassuring, but still not enough for me to throw my weight behind it and declare it “the perfect sweetener”.
So will I be using Nectresse or another monk fruit sweetener in the future? Sure, but like my usage with stevia, I want to keep it to a minimum. If research does prove us to be wrong about these substances, I want to feel less worried knowing that I didn’t consume these in excess.
So what artificial or alternative sweetener do YOU use? And does anyone have any more info about monk fruit that I don’t? I’m curious to see what research might find in the future…
P.S. I have some guest posts in the works – pretty excited!
And if I can be shameless and self promoting for a minute, I was quoted in an article for Yahoo Shine, which is a section of their website devoted to healthy living news. Check it out at http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/7-tips-help-child-live-healthier-211200369.html
When I think about growing up in northern Michigan during the summer, it still kind of blows my mind that we didn’t have air conditioning in our house. Once I got older, my parents caved and bought a few of the window AC units, but really, the weather was so mild that there wasn’t a need to install central air.
Now that I live in south Texas, my life depends on AC and I spend the day hopping from one air conditioned place to another: first my house, then my car, then work, the gym, etc. And even with all that cool air, the heat STILL kicks my ass for the two seconds I spend outside, and makes me want to submerse myself in a pool until October rolls around.
The upside to all of the summer heat is trying out new recipes that help you cool off. When I had the house to myself a few weekends back, I spent a little time in the kitchen trying out a few recipes and coming up with some of my own (I like to cook and try out new recipes solo, since that way no one can point out how much of a mess I make while cooking). So here are a few treats that will cool you off, but are still on the healthy side:
1. FROZEN BANANA BITES
I wish I had a link to where I saw the idea for this, but honestly I don’t remember and couldn’t find it when I tried looking. However, the concept is pretty simple: take a ripe, but not too mushy banana and cut it into slices. Mix together equal parts of natural peanut butter and fat free vanilla Greek yogurt (I used Chobani) and use it as filling to spread between two banana slices, making a “sandwich”. Layer on wax paper, and freeze – so simple, yet so delicious!
2. ORANGE & STRAWBERRY INFUSED SPORTS DRINK (adapted from fitnessista.com)
When I do decide to brave the heat and go run (because even in the heat, running outside > running indoors on the “dreadmill”), I need something to replenish my electrolytes and quench my thirst STAT. I saw this recipe on The Fitnessista’s blog (which is awesome by the way, and great if you need a little workout inspiration or ideas) and have been meaning to make it for some time. I posted the link to her original recipe (http://fitnessista.com/2012/03/strawberry-infused-sports-drink/) and below is my version (I skipped the honey and varied the amounts of a few ingredients). The end result was a slightly sweet strawberry and orange flavored beverage, which kind of reminded me of Tang, the powdered orange drink mix I loved as a kid (but much better!). I also have made a few different versions since, and so far my fave was made with blackberries and 100% pomegranate juice (like POM).
BERRY INFUSED SPORTS DRINK (makes 2 liters)
- 1 ½ cup sliced strawberries (or other berry of choice – black berries are insanely good!)
- 12 oz of Trop 50 Orange Juice or other 100% fruit juice (with no added sugars)
- 4 packets Stevia in the Raw (or other stevia)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Dash of sea salt
- Hot water
Directions: Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a 2 liter pitcher. Fill the rest of the pitcher up with boiling water and mix again. Let it chill overnight and drink up when you’re ready ; )
3. ICED ALMOND MILK COFFEE
Really, this isn’t even a recipe, but more of a little tip for iced coffee lovers like myself. The next time you go to brew some coffee, make some extra and pour into ice cube trays. Let the “coffee cubes” freeze and then pop into an ice cold glass of vanilla almond milk (or other milk of choice). As the ice cubes melt (which doesn’t take long in this weather), you are left with a delicious, creamy coffee mixture that isn’t doesn’t get watered down (my biggest iced coffee pet peeve!).
4. ROOT BEER FLOAT POPSICLES (from Peas and Thank You)
Does anyone else get a little nostalgic for a root beer float from an A&W drive in? I haven’t gone in years, so when I found this recipe I was eager to try it out. While I didn’t go all out and use the cones, I followed the recipe and just froze it in a bowl (sorry, I’m lazy) – still amazing. Below is the original recipe and link to the post from Peas and Thank You, which is one of my favorite blogs for healthy recipe information:
Root Beer Float Popsicles from Peas and Thank You
Makes 4-6 popsicles*
- 1 can or bottle of root beer**
- 1/2 c. non-dairy or organic milk
- 1 T. maple syrup
- dash of salt
- 1/4 t. vanilla extract
*Peas and thank you used a popsicle mold from Tevolo, but depending on the size and type of popsicle mold you have, you may have to adjust the recipe accordingly.
**I used Zevia Root Beer to make these a low-sugar treat per the blogger’s suggestions.
1. Fill each popsicle mold 1/3rd of the way full with root beer. Freeze for 20-30 minutes or until mostly frozen.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine milk, maple syrup, salt and vanilla. Remove popsicle mold from freezer and pour a small amount of vanilla mixture into each popsicle mold to make the “ice cream” layer. Freeze for an additional 20-30 minutes or again, until mostly frozen.
3. Fill each popsicle mold the rest of the way with root beer. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze for an additional hour or two or until completely frozen.
(Original post at http://peasandthankyou.com/2012/04/29/root-beer-float-popsicles/)
Hope you guys enjoy and as always, send any and all recipes or ideas my way – I’m always looking for new inspiration and feedback! : )
Stay cool out there,
When it comes to writing my blog posts, my inspiration usually comes from what’s going on in my real life. Sure I get a few ideas from reading new research or articles, but I’ve been told that to be a good writer, you should write about what you know, which for me is nutrition and well…me.
In the past couple of weeks, I have been feeling extra introspective for a few reasons. I’ve mentioned this before, but whether I like it or not, as a nutrition professional, my body is my business. Meaning that if I don’t practice what I preach, my reputation as a dietitian would be compromised and most people would probably take me less seriously. Of course I am extremely aware of this, and while I try to be myself (luckily “myself” is a pretty healthy food loving person), there are times where I want to “break a few rules” so to speak. Last week was a perfect example: I went home for lunch and didn’t eat my usual salad. Wanna know what I ate instead? Birthday cake. More specifically, the frosting off of a very large piece of birthday cake (everyone knows that frosting is the best part of cake anyways!), which is definitely not something I would recommend for any of my patients or clients to eat. But for whatever reason (I think it was partly because I was exhausted – mentally and physically- and partly because I just love frosting that much), that’s all I wanted for lunch. And you know what? That’s ok. Still, the thought crossed my mind that “what if your patients saw you eat that? How can you be a good dietitian if you just ate partially hydrogenated oil for lunch?”
I know what it feels like to beat yourself up over eating shitty food. And I know what it feels like to be judged because of what you chose to eat. At a work function about a month ago, I came to the event STARVING because I wasn’t hungry when I left home, so I didn’t want to eat anything (naturally, my appetite kicked in once I was at the venue and away from my kitchen filled with healthy foods!). There were bowls and plates of snacks out and I decided to have some chips because looked they looked delicious (and were! Honestly they might have been the best chips of my life). Later on, a coworker told me that she showed her husband who I was across the room, and his response was, “Oh the dietitian is the one eating all the CHIPS?” Never mind that I hardly ever eat or buy chips (I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a bag of non baked chips), I make nutritious food choices most of the time, or that my body weight is well within a healthy range…all he saw was a huge HYPOCRITE sign over my head because I ate something fried. Is it fair? Of course not. But is it the real me? Yes. I can’t be “perfect” and walk around eating celery and carrot sticks all day (although I have been known to stash fruit or granola bars in my purse haha).
I even get judged by fellow dietitians. I can remember talking about my former love/hate relationship with diet sodas and how I wanted to stop drinking them, but they were just so. damn. good. One of the dietitians that was with me said, “Oh you drink diet coke? You must be sooooo healthy, huh?” and started laughing. To be honest, the dietitian that made this comment is actually a pretty nice person, and I know she didn’t mean any harm, but it just demonstrates how easy it is for us to pick each other apart over what we eat.
The reality is that nobody eats a perfect diet and if people are judging you or giving you negative feedback over the food choices you make, don’t sweat it. I’ve noticed that some of the most vocal critics are those who are the most insecure about their own eating habits, so they go on the attack to make themselves feel better about their own diet. Sometimes it’s ok to eat frosting for lunch or chips at a concert if that’s what you feel like, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. And if you feel bad about eating something, don’t beat yourself up over it. Acknowledge that feeling bad over eating junk food is a reaction most people have, but that it’s an unnecessary one and if you are eating well 90% of the time, that other 10% doesn’t matter. Really, it doesn’t. And what if you aren’t? What if you haven’t been making healthy and nutritious food choices for a long time? Still, it’s no sweat. All you do is start making them again at your next meal and let go of what just happened.
One of my favorite quotes when it comes to life is “progress not perfection”. We are always works in progress, and we all know that NO ONE is perfect. And that goes for healthy eating as well. As my good friend and fellow RD Chelsea once said, “Find me a woman who has a perfect relationship with food and I’ll give you a million dollars”, which has always struck as me being so true. We all are bound to make mistakes, yet there are still people out there who think they are superior to others because they don’t or won’t eat a certain food, drink, etc. (I admit it, I’ve been one of those people before becoming a dietitian, which I feel terrible about). Forget those people and vow to be less judgemental yourself.
Here’s to eating frosting for lunch! : )