Diets and Weight Loss, Uncategorized

Ways to Add Lentils to Your Cholesterol Lowering Diet

lentils

Ways to Add Lentils to Your Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

 

Lentils (Lens culinaris) is a dry pulse, or legume, that is included in a variety of dishes. This legume is more commonly noted in certain foods, such as vegetarian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine. While they don’t particularly have a strong flavor, they make up for it in their nutrient content. Lentils are high in protein, fiber, and some minerals and are free of fat and cholesterol – the perfect combination of characteristics for a food to include in your cholesterol-lowering diet.

There are many opportunities to include lentils in your healthy diet and they are not that difficult to prepare.

Lentils for Breakfast

What better way to start your day than with a meal packed full of nutrients? Lentils can provide you with just that. Instead of relying on the healthy tried-and-true oatmeal, boring cereal, or the quick egg, add some lentils to your traditional breakfast foods. When preparing your lentils for breakfast, feel free to add fruit or spices, such as cinnamon, to your meal – but keep your other foods, such as bacon, whole milk, table sugar and butter to a minimum. Adding these items will increase the calorie content of your breakfast.

 

Add Lentils to Soups and Salads

Although lentils are most commonly noted in soups and stews to make them more filling, they can be paired with practically any food. To keep your soup heart-healthy, make sure that you use vegetable broth or a low fat chicken broth as your base.

 

Making a base out of heavy creams or cheese can add additional fat and calories to the dish. Feel free to liberally add vegetables to your soup or salad. In addition to veggies, lentils can be grouped with a variety of beans, other whole grains (such as rice or barley), spices and even fruit to create a delicious meal.

 

 

Lentils will soak up the flavor of foods that you add to the dish, giving you a flavorful soup or salad that could be as filling as the main course.

 

 

 

Add Some Lentils on the Side

Lentils can also make delicious side dishes, often cooked along with vegetables or in spices. When you are preparing these tasty accompaniments, do not hesitate to add in as many vegetables, whole grains, or spices as possible. Spices – which are fat-free and cholesterol-free – will add a little flavor to the dish that the lentils will soak up. Make sure to limit the addition of creams and cheeses to your sides – since this, too, can add cholesterol and fat to your diet. If you need to add dairy products to your meal, you should select low-fat varieties of these products.

 

Including Lentils in Your Main Course

This small legume can even act as a main course – whether you are wanting to prepare something light, or a large meal. Their high protein content will not leave you with the munchies a few hours after your meal, and the fiber content will keep your cholesterol levels healthy.

 

To keep these pulses cholesterol-friendly, make sure that you are avoiding the use of butter during the preparation process. Although you can pair these with another type of lean meat or fish – lentils can often serve as a meat substitute –making them quite useful in vegetarian cuisine. You should also make sure to keep the dairy products to a minimum, or use low fat dairy products if the recipe calls for them.

 

Lentil and Omelet Recipe

Lentils and eggs – so simple. Add chicken and veggies if you like.

 

Recipe Ingredients for Lentil Omelet

4 eggs

1/4c       lentils, drained from Progresso Lentil soup works well

1/8         tsp cumin

1/4         tsp salt

Recipe Directions for Lentil Omelet

cook lentils

crack and mix eggs

 

add eggs to pan

add lentils to egg mix

 

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Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie

chickenpotpie

Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie

 

Total Time 50 min

Prep 30 min, Cook 20 min

Yield 7 servings

I recently heard that pot pie made with biscuits on the top is “Vermont style,”

That’s why this pot pie is made with my low-carb drop biscuits on the top.

 

Ingredients

3 cups of cut-up chicken or turkey meat (fully cooked)

1/4 cup of butter (half a stick) or oil

1/2 cup of minced onion

1/2 cup of chopped green or red bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

Flour and/or low carb thickener (see note below)

2/3 cup of unsweetened soy milk or other unsweetened milk

1/3 cup of heavy cream

1 cup (or so) of chicken broth, or use chicken soup base

1 16 ounce bag of frozen green beans

Salt (to taste)

Note: This recipe incorporates biscuit dough, which requires additional ingredients and prep (recipe included below.)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 F.

 

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.

Cook onion in butter until it begins to soften.

Add chopped pepper and black pepper, and let it cook for a minute.

Add the flour here if you are going to use it; let it cook a minute.

 

Add the milk, cream, and broth. If you are using guar or xanthan gum, or other specialty product, use these here. For the broth, I use Better than Bouillion soup base and make it about double the concentration the package calls for, then use no salt, for a more chickeny flavor.

 

Add the chicken or turkey and then green beans. Some water will come out of the beans during cooking, so the sauce should be a little on the thick side. While that heats back up, make the biscuits.

 

When the biscuit dough is made and the pot pie mixture is bubbling hot, dump the contents of the saucepan into a 2 quart casserole dish.

 

Spoon the biscuit dough on the top, leaving room for expansion. (You can drop extra biscuit dough on a piece of foil to cook alongside the pot pie.)

 

Bake about 10 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.

Nutritional Information (not including biscuits): Each of about 7 servings has 5 grams of effective carbohydrate plus 3 grams of fiber, 20 grams of protein, and 247 calories. This includes using 1 tablespoon of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of Carb Counters ThickItUp. Using all flour would add an extra gram of carb per serving and eliminate one gram of fiber.

 

Tips on Thickeners: The thickener in this dish is really up to you.

You can use about 2 tablespoons of flour, or you can go for more specialty products. I usually use half bean flour or rice flour and half of a specialty product, like guar gum or Carb Counters ThickItUp. For more information, see How to Thicken a Low Carb Sauce.

 

Tip on the Liquid: Whether you use milk, cream, or unsweetened soy or almond milk is really up to you and the specific diet you are on.

 

For the fewest carbs, I like the balance of unsweetened soy (or almond) milk plus cream for richness.

 

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Diets and Weight Loss, Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Popular Diets That Can Be Bad For You

populardiets

Popular Diets That Could Be Bad for You

Your friend lost weight on the Paleo diet. Your mom slimmed down on the Military Diet. Your sister is reaching her weight loss goals with the Wheat Belly and 13-day diet. Now it’s your turn to get trim. Should you follow in the footsteps of your friends and family? No, not necessarily. Those popular programs could be turn out to be a diet disaster for you.

 

Why Some Popular Diets Fail

Just because a weight loss plan is popular doesn’t mean that it will work for every dieter all the time.

In fact, most diets fail eventually. Up to 80 percent of dieters regain the weight that they lose. Many dieters return to their previous eating habits and the pounds come back. In some cases, they put on more than they lost.

Given this fact, it is essential that you choose an eating plan that fits your personal needs and lifestyle over the long haul. You need to be realistic about your eating habits and about what you can and cannot give up before you invest any time or money into a weight loss program. For example, here are some popular diets and the reasons why they may not work for you.

 

Popular Diets That May Not Work

The Wheat Belly Diet. Millions of copies of this book have been sold. Dieters swear by the recommendations of author William Davis, M.D. He encourages his followers to eliminate wheat in order to improve overall health and slim down. But is it right for you? If your favorite food is bread, then the answer is no.

If you love the foods that Wheat Belly plan eliminates from your diet, you’re better off limiting the intake of those foods rather than removing them from your diet altogether. A more reasonable approach is often safer than a risky “all or nothing” tactic. You could easily gain weight if you fall off the wagon and overindulge.

The Paleo Diet. This diet, also called the caveman diet, is popular among heavy exercisers, especially those who participate in popular CrossFit programs. According to the website, dieters on the Paleo plan eat grass-fed meats, certain cuts of fish that contain healthy fats, fresh produce, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Dieters avoid a wide range of foods including anything processed, dairy products, cereal grains, potatoes, and salt. While the foods allowed on the diet are decent healthy foods, some dieters who are constantly on the go may struggle to maintain this fairly restrictive plan.

The Military Diet. Dieters who want to lose weight fast often go on The Military Diet. This popular 3-day program (that has no connection to the military) advertises that you can lose 10 pounds in the first week and 30 pounds in the first month as long as you follow the program exactly. But you’ll be eating primarily saltines, tuna, hot dogs, and grapefruit. On your four “off” days you need to restrict your intake to 1,200-1,500 calories of lean protein, fruits, and veggies. The plan is simply not reasonable for most people for the long term.

Gluten-Free Diet. People with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease follow a gluten-free diet for better health. But many others are choosing a gluten-free diet for weight loss. Can it work for you if you’re trying to lose weight? Probably not, especially if you love the many foods that contain gluten.

Going cold turkey on cereal, bread products, crackers, and other gluten-containing products may not be realistic for people who have made those foods a regular part of their everyday diets. In addition, whole grains, like wheat can be an important part of a healthy diet. Of course, many companies are now making gluten-free varieties of popular snacks and treats. But many of them are full of sugar, starch and calories – not necessarily healthy replacements for gluten.

Juicing/Smoothies/Liquid Diets. Eliminating whole food altogether sounds like such a simple idea, which is why juicing, smoothies, and other liquid meal replacements are appealing to many dieters. But even though these weight loss plans are simple, there are significant downsides to juicing and so-called “healthy” smoothies aren’t good for your diet in some situations. If you are a person who really enjoys food – cooking it, tasting it and eating it, then liquid diets may not be the best solution for you.

Packaged Food Diets. Programs that offer packaged foods like Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem are popular among people who need a convenient eating program. But some of the meals on these programs are high in sodium, making them poor choices for dieters with high blood pressure. Portion sizes also tend to be very small. If you like to eat a lot of food or if you have special health concerns you might want to chat with a registered dietitian before investing in one of these plans.

Why Some Popular Diets Work

So why do these diets work for some people? In some cases, the programs align with the dieter’s health needs and lifestyle. But in many cases, the plans are just creative ways to restrict calories. Weight loss can only occur if you change your energy balance. For example, a new gluten free dieter might lose 5 pounds because she ate less food overall, not necessarily because she ate less gluten.

In addition, when someone chooses to go on a diet, the simple act of focusing on their daily food intake often causes them to eat less. The success of the program therefore has less to do with the specific program and more to do with a choice to make healthy eating a priority.

 

If you have made the decision to lose weight, then give us a call and we can come up with the food plan that is right for YOU. Your needs, Your body, Your history and yes Your likes. That way, you’ll only diet once and then enjoy a lifetime with a slimmer, trimmer body.

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Benefits of Stretching

stretching

Benefits of Stretching Exercises

Do you do flexibility training as part of your daily workout? Do you do any stretching exercises on a regular basis?  If you are trying to lose weight, you should.  Flexibility exercises are not big calorie burners, but they play an important role in a weight loss program.

Benefits of Stretching

The best thing about flexibility training is that you don’t have to do it very often to enjoy the benefits.

Just a few minutes of stretching each day will help to improve the range of motion in your joints, help to decrease the risk of injury during exercise and reduce stress.

So what flexibility exercises should you do?  You can do simple stretches when you get out of bed each morning.  This will help to loosen up your joints and start your day with healthy movement.  There are also some great stretches that you can do at your desk while you are at work.  You can also take a yoga class to lose weight or a learn the practice of tai chi to improve your health.

3 Ways Flexibility Improves Weight Loss

Even though you won’t burn mega calories during a short stretching session, your body functions better when your joints move more comfortably.  This can boost your weight loss program in several different ways.

Decreased stress.  Flexibility exercises help to get your blood pumping, but not in a way that increases your adrenaline.  Stretching and breathing exercises help to improve your mood and lower your stress level. This may be especially helpful for dieters who are trying to curb emotional eating. If you can replace the trip to the refrigerator with 5 minutes of healthy stretching, you’re likely to eat less and slim down faster.

Organized workouts are important, but the calories you burn from stretching play a big role in the total number of calories you burn each day. You’re more likely to move more throughout the day if your joints and limbs feel good.  Stretching helps to keep you active.

More effective workouts.  Aerobic activity and strength training for weight loss is more effective when you perform each exercise fully.  Stretching helps keep your body in top shape so that you burn more calories during your workouts and you spend less time recovering from injuries or soreness.

Flexibility training alone won’t burn enough calories to make a big difference in your daily energy balance.  But when you pair stretching exercises with a complete workout program, you’ll benefit from a healthier body and improve your chances of weight loss.

 

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Diets and Weight Loss, Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Healthy and Quick Green Smoothie

healthyandquicksmoothie

Make a Healthy Green Smoothie

 

For a quick and healthy breakfast try a healthy green smoothie. This recipe is fresh and sweet but isn’t so heavy that it will weigh you down.  To prepare the smoothie, combine these ingredients in a blender:

 

1/2 apple (chopped)

1/2 banana,

1 cup spinach leaves

1/2 cup of water

*On days when I need an extra protein boost, I add one tablespoon of vanilla protein powder.

 

Time-saving preparation tip: I freeze bananas in advance so they are easy to grab and always available.  Just take 6-8 ripe bananas, peel them and cut them in half.  Lay them on a cookie tray and stick them in the freezer for about an hour.  When they are frozen throw them together in a baggie and put them back in the freezer.  They won’t stick together, and since they are already frozen they help keep your smoothies cold when you prepare them.

 

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Best and Worst Health Choices at Starbucks

starbucks

Starbucks Nutrition Facts: Menu Choices & Calories

Best and Worst Health Choices at Starbucks

 

Do you know the lowest calorie Starbucks drinks to order when you need a coffee fix? If you are trying to lose weight, you probably should. Some Starbucks beverages (like the White Chocolate Mocha) contain over 600 calories.  Why ruin your diet with a cup of java? Use this guide to make healthy choices at Starbucks and keep your diet on track.

 

One of the most common drinks at Starbucks (or any coffee house) is the Caffe Latte, an espresso drink with steamed milk and topped with a small layer of foam. If you order a skim version of the drink, the barista uses non-fat milk and the drink provides a healthy boost of protein, but very few calories. You can also order this drink iced, but there won’t be any foam on top.

 

Healthiest Options on the Starbucks Menu

There are plenty of Starbucks drinks under 200 calories. Each of these tall (12-ounce) coffee drinks is made with nonfat milk. If you order a larger size or if you don’t tell the barista to use skim milk, then the calorie count will be higher.

 

Skinny Cappuccino (60 calories, 0 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams protein): The great thing about cappuccino is the foam. The light fluffy top of this drink makes you feel like you’re drinking something much more decadent and fattening when you’re really not.

Brewed Coffee or Caffè Americano: Brewed coffee and espresso contain essentially no calories. So if you need a boost of caffeine, this will be your lowest calorie Starbucks drink.

Skinny Peppermint Mocha (110 calories, 1 gram fat, 14 carbohydrates, 11 grams protein): This coffee drink is sweet and delicious enough to substitute as dessert. A small serving is plenty to satisfy your sweet tooth.

 

Iced Skinny Vanilla Latte (120 calories, 0 grams fat, 24 grams carbs, 6 grams protein): If vanilla isn’t your favorite flavor try hazelnut, almond, peppermint or other varieties. If you choose sugar-free syrup, you’ll cut calories in your drink even more.

Caffe Misto: (60 calories, 0 grams fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams protein) This drink is half filtered coffee and half heated milk.

Soy Chai Tea Latte (180 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams protein). If you prefer tea with a little bit of sweetness, this soy drink will help you keep your calories in control.

Caramel Macchiato. (150 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams protein). If you need to warm up with a sweet treat, this yummy drink is topped with a drizzle of caramel for added flavor.

 

 

How to Order the Lowest Calorie Starbucks Drinks

If you already have a coffee drink that you love, use these tips to lower the fat and calorie count of the drink. And remember that you can check the calorie count of your customized Starbucks drink online or by using the Starbucks app on your smartphone.

Skip the whipped cream. Don’t even bother adding whipped cream. It melts into the coffee anyway and you can barely taste it. The calories aren’t worth it. If you add whipped cream to a tall mocha, you add 60 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Go nonfat. Always start your coffee drink order by stating that you want nonfat milk. Some menu boards may advertise that a drink is low-calorie but the barista may use 2% milk, which has a higher fat and calorie content.

Say yes to foam. If your drink is topped with foam, ask for extra foam or ask for it to be prepared “dry.” The foam takes up more space in the drink and you decrease the amount of milk used and the number of calories in the drink.

Add ice (or extra ice). Any drink with ice will have fewer calories than its hot alternative because the ice has no calories. For a drink that is already iced, ask for extra ice and you’ll get a drink that is less milky, cooler and more refreshing.

Add spices, not sprinkles. If your drink is displayed on the menu board with sprinkles, skip them and add spice instead. Most coffee shops have cinnamon, cocoa, and nutmeg that you can add for extra flavor.

Use sugar-free syrups. Flavor syrups are popular additions to coffee drinks, but they are almost pure sugar. Opt for the sugar-free version to cut calories.

Smaller is better. By the time you get to the coffee counter in the morning, you might order the largest size available out of habit, exhaustion or desperation. For some of us, the need for a coffee fix in the morning is substantial. But err on the small side. You might be surprised to find out that you need less caffeine than you think.

 

Starbuck Food Choices

The food items that you see when you’re standing in line to order your healthy Starbucks coffee are tempting. But they can easily undo the benefits of your smart drink choice. Most of them are high-calorie, high-sugar treats like cookies, brownies and other baked goods. The Classic Coffee Cake, for example, provides almost 400 calories, 16 grams of fat and 31 grams of sugar. Luckily, Starbucks provides transparent nutrition information at most locations so you can see the calorie counts of most of them before you indulge.

 

So is there anything healthy to eat at Starbucks? If you need a bite of food with your drink, there are a few items that will keep your healthy eating plan on track.

 

The Protein Bistro Box is a solid choice if you’re hungry. It provides 370 calories, 19 grams of fat, 37 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein. And each of the Yogurt and Fruit Parfaits will also satisfy your hunger for under 300 calories.

 

If you crave a sweet treat, the Snowman Cake Pop only provides 180 calories and 19 grams of fat, but it is very small. There are also several Petites (mini cake pops) that will satisfy your sweet tooth for under 200 calories.

 

Unhealthiest Options on the Starbucks Menu

Some of the bottled beverages are not the healthiest Starbucks coffee choices. For example, the popular Starbucks Frappuccino is full of sugar.  A single serving provides 290 calories, 4.5 grams of fat and a whopping 46 grams of sugar.

 

And as you might imagine, while the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is delicious, the venti whole milk version provides 650 calories, 24 grams of fat and 84 grams of sugar.

 

You don’t have to give up the trip your favorite coffee shop just because you’re on a diet. If you love your morning java fix, keep it on the agenda. But learn to order the lowest calorie Starbucks drinks. The calories you eliminate by making just a few small changes could have a big impact when it’s time to step on the scale.

 

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Braised Beef Moroccan Style Recipe

braised-beef-morrocan-style

Braised Beef Moroccan Style Recipe

 

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2½ pounds chuck roast

2 cups chopped shallots

4 cloves garlic, chopped

½ tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup grape, pomegranate, or cranberry juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

2 cups beef broth

1 cup freshly diced tomatoes

1½ cups golden raisins

Salt and pepper, to taste

Honey (optional)

Procedure:

Heat a large pot. Add two tablespoons coconut oil. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Add meat to pot, sauté until no longer pink, about five minutes. Transfer meat to bowl.

Heat one tablespoon oil in same pot. Add shallots and sauté till brown, about eight minutes. Stir in garlic and next five ingredients.

Add fruit juice. For acidity or deglazing, add about a tablespoon of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar per cup of fruit juice.1 Stir occasionally.

Add the broth, tomatoes with juice, and raisins. Stir to blend. Add beef and juices, heat to simmer.

Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thick and the beef is tender, about one hour and 15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

 

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