You don’t have to be a Vegetarian to appreciate that reduced meat consumption can have a positive impact on your health. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to reduce your intake, or if you just want more protein options overall, refer to my handy, printable chart below. Feel free to share the chart with your friends and family on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
The New Year is upon us, and one of my favourite Christmas gifts this year inspired me to make a post about it. I thought many of you could use this item to help with your New Year’s goals. You may have even heard of it before: The Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer.
The Spiralizer I received was a basic 3 blade model – which is probably all you really need. However, they also have a 4 blade, if you are interested.
It comes with 3 blades, which make noodles, ribbons, and quick work of shredding. It can be used on any fruit or vegetable – including cabbage, carrots, zucchini, apples, potatoes, and more. I made Zucchini Noodles my very first time using it, and in LESS THAN A MINUTE, I had an enormous bowl full of noodles that I topped with marinara. I didn’t even bother to cook or heat it – but those noodles were textured like, and tasted like, real spaghetti. It was amazing. All for less than 150 calories(with the marinara!).
Use the ribbon blade to make roll-ups with your zucchini – fill them with sliced meats, pesto, herbed goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, or anything else you like. It would make for a healthy and reasonably low calorie snack.
It shreds heads of cabbage quickly, and you can make healthy baked apple chips/rings, or your own sweet potato curly fries, plus much more.
This is an easy, quick, and relatively low-cost tool that you can use to make healthy and low-calorie dinners, lunches, and snacks that taste great, but don’t make you feel as if you’re suffering. I hope you all give it a try.
I’ve found a few cookbooks dedicated to recipes for the Spiralizer, as well. You can finds links to a few of them below:
If you have a Paderno Spiralizer, let me know in the comments what kind of healthy recipes you’ve been making with it. I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year!
A few months back, I was out around town, and met up with someone who knew me(and what I do for a living) from some of the local commerce websites.
She took the opportunity to ask a question that I hear all the time:
“Which exercises can I do so that I can eat whatever I want, but still lose weight?”
I responded with my usual – along the lines of, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet”.
She seemed taken aback by this, and exclaimed, “I thought you were supposed to be encouraging!”. I then went on to explain that I’m all for encouragement and motivation, but will never lie, or make false promises, to someone who asks my advice.
We laughed about it, but this conversation really stuck with me since.
At the start of every new year, everyone is on their best behaviour… only to quickly be discouraged when they don’t get the results they think they will receive.
It’s not difficult to see why they would be so crestfallen; we are inundated daily with false promises, quick gimmicks, and headlines about weight loss miracles. It’s in our Facebook feeds, on the covers of magazines, in articles or telecasts written by supposedly legitimate news organizations, and on TV – often touted by celebrity doctors who are supposed to have our best interests at heart.
Many times, these falsehoods are even proclaimed by those in the fitness and nutrition industry, either out of a lack of legitimate education, poor research methods, or greed for your money.
Here, I want to simplify things for you – to lay out some facts to keep in mind as you navigate 2015 in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, or the body of your dreams.
“I want to lose weight”
This is the most common reason that someone comes to me for help. Many of those whom I connect with are very overweight, to the point where it affects their health. I also have worked with those who only want to lose a little weight(usually post-baby), or to become metabolically healthier.
There are many different factors that can affect weight loss, and results can be highly individual(a good reason to consult with a doctor, professional trainer, and/or nutrition coach), but these basic guidelines can be key to your success.
Build lean muscle with resistance exercise, add moderate amounts of cardiovascular exercise, and most importantly, watch what you eat.
The less you weigh, the more your food intake will make a difference in weight loss.
You don’t want to eat too little(which may permanently alter your metabolism for the worse), but eating too much will drastically slow or stop progress. A certified Nutritionist or Dietitian can help you figure out what, and how much, you should be eating to attain your goals.
Quality of calories does matter – and no, it is not as simple as the number of calories in v/s out.
When trying to reduce fat, aim for 90%(or better) of healthy, whole foods that are low in added sodium or added sugars.
That last sentence can help many people with that “last 10 lbs”. The average person tends to carry around 5-7 lbs of water bloat due to the quality of the food they’re eating.
This is why so many tend to be duped into thinking that detox diets and juice detoxes are causing them to lose fat quickly. It’s not fat they’re losing, and they could easily lose those same pounds by eating healthier on the whole.
This is why weight loss tends to slow down drastically after that first 5-7 lbs is gone.
It is also not unusual for someone who is severely obese to carry 15-20 lbs of that same water weight. If you’ve ever seen the first few episodes of any season of The Biggest Loser, you’ve seen that water weight loss in action. Ever seen someone on a low-carb diet get really excited on their first two weeks? It’s because they had a rush of water weight loss, due to eating fewer carbs(which hold on to some water). However, most of what they lost was probably not fat.
Water weight loss is nice, but it’s also the type of weight that will come right back, the second you eat a normal meal. If you want to lose fat, you need to eat balanced long-term.
If you are maintaining a loss, or are okay with fat loss being slower, aiming for healthy/whole foods 80% of the time is perfectly acceptable. You’ll lose weight, but it will be slow going. If you add in the aforementioned exercise, it will go faster.
“If Nutrition is most important, why should I bother exercising?”
There are many reasons I could give here, but this is paramount:
Exercising will make you healthier, no matter your size.
A morbidly obese person who exercises will be healthier than a morbidly obese person who never exercises. Ever hear of “skinny fat”? This is the term often used when someone is technically not overweight, but is still flabby, and/or metabolically unhealthy due to lack of exercise.
That resistance exercise I mentioned? You need it because body composition matters. There is a myriad of benefits to adding extra muscle, most notably that it helps you burn extra calories, makes your body look more toned when you DO lose weight, provides stability in old age, and goes a long way towards making you metabolically healthier. You don’t have to be Ahh-nold to get those benefits. Every bit of muscle that you add counts towards a healthier you.
Even if you don’t need to lose weight, exercise should be part of your life. You don’t need to be over the top – you can start with something as simple as the act of walking your dog daily, and build from there. When you’re ready for the next step, consult with a professional trainer.
Make 2015 the year that you take control of your health using facts – not lies, half-truths, gimmicks, and pseudoscience. Things really are a lot simpler when you keep in mind these basic tenets.
I wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season, and the best of luck in the coming year.
I have very specific preferences when it comes to Hummus, and often times, the store-bought stuff just doesn’t cut it. I like my Hummus to be mild, creamy, with lots of garlic, plenty of tahini, and a generous touch of cumin, paprika, and parsley. I also like it to be light and fluffy, as opposed to the pasty, glue-y stuff you find in stores.
Lucky for me, not only is it easy to make Hummus at home, but it’s also cheaper and (usually) healthier.
I like to make a batch whenever my tahini canisters(which I go through fairly quickly) get down to about 1/3 of a cup left. Then, I can refill the can with the Hummus I just made.
You can see exactly what’s going in there, and spice it exactly the way you enjoy it. If you prefer spicy hummus, just add the spices you like. Don’t like Cumin? Don’t use it. Want a black bean hummus? Switch them out with the chickpeas.
Want it to look extra fancy for a party? Throw some extra olive oil drizzle, a dash of paprika, and some extra sesame seeds on top when serving.
Serve it alongside fresh cut vegetables, cut pita bread pieces, etc – One of the easiest party appetizers ever.
Best of all, you can make a big batch of Hummus in less than 10 minutes. What are you waiting for?
- 1 – 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup tahini (doesn’t have to be exact – eyeball it)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp parsley
- 2 tbsp water (approx)
- sea salt (to taste)
- OPTIONAL: extra sesame seeds for garnish/crunch, other spices, hot sauce, black pepper, etc
- Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender.
- Pulse until creamy, fluffy, and the texture you prefer. Add more water to thin it, use less water for a thicker hummus.
- Transfer to an airtight container if not using right away. Will keep approximately 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Chicken and Dumplings is one of my family’s favourite comfort foods when the months start turning colder. Many traditional recipes utilize butter, shortening, cream, dark meat, and/or high sodium ingredients like “cream of…” condensed soups.
It’s really not very difficult to make over this recipe to be a much healthier option.
Experiment with the basic recipe by switching out similar ingredients. For example, if you’re a vegetarian, you can alter the recipe by switching vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and by switching the chicken breast for “Chicken” meat substitutes.
You can make the dumplings yourself, or save time by using pre-made frozen dumplings(check the nutrition labels, and choose the cleanest, lowest sodium brand you can find) or a healthier brand of canned biscuits(like Immaculate Baking Co) and tearing the biscuits into small chunks. It’s quick, easy, and usually just as good(however, this will likely add more sodium and sugar to the recipe. Your call).
Serve your healthier chicken and dumplings for dinner on those upcoming chilly evenings.
For the Dumplings:
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup skim milk
For the Soup:
- 4-5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
- 4-5 cups chicken broth
- 1 and 1/2 cups chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup thawed frozen, or fresh, green peas
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp dried sage
- 1/2 tbsp parsley
- 1/4 tbsp thyme
- 1 tbsp olive oil, for cooking
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large soup pot, pour the tbsp of olive oil, and bring to medium heat(#5 and 1/2 on numerically labeled stovetops).
- Throw in chicken, onion, and garlic. Saute while stirring, until onions are just turning translucent/just beginning to brown, then add carrots and celery. Allow to saute while stirring for 1-2 minutes more. Chicken does not need to be fully cooked to continue.
- Add in broth, peas, sage, and thyme. Bring to boil, then place lid on pot, and lower temperature to medium-low(#3 to 4 on numerical stovetops).
- Allow to simmer in 15 minute increments. At each 15 minute mark, stir soup thoroughly, then replace lid quickly. You will probably need to do this 2-3 times, until chicken is fully cooked and flavours have melded well.
- Meanwhile, prepare your dumpling batter by putting all dumpling ingredients into a bowl, and stirring until combined. Set aside.
- When soup is about 10-15 minutes away from being served, put remaining parsley into soup, stir, then slowly drop in large spoonfuls of dumpling batter, stirring between every few spoonfuls. If you choose to use pre-made dumplings or canned biscuit dough, make sure dumplings are thawed first, or biscuit dough is torn into pieces. Drop them in the same way, and cook the same length of time.
- Replace lid, and allow to cook another 10-15 minutes before ladling into soup bowls. You may choose to garnish with a liberal sprinkling of parsley and black pepper. Makes 4-5 servings. Enjoy!
Figs are nutritionally dense with B-vitamins, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, and lots of Fiber.
This makes them a smart snack or dessert, as well as an amazing addition to salads and entrees.
This is probably one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever posted, but I’m a huge fan of simple healthy dishes. Eating healthy never has to be difficult or especially time consuming.
Each extra large fig half with honey and walnuts is approximately 70 calories. 2 halves would probably be the ideal portion size, bringing your dessert to a very reasonable 140 calories.
Less than 150 calories for a dessert this delicious, healthy, and elegant? Amazing(not to mention impressive looking to guests, with not much work on your part)!
On with the recipe.
- 4 extra large, fresh figs
- 3 tbsp slightly warmed Spiced Honey Creme (my favourite brand here)
- Fresh unsalted shelled walnuts (chopped or whole. your choice)
- Slice each fig in half, and line up neatly on your serving plate.
- If using chopped walnuts, press a generous amount into the middle of each fig half. If using whole walnuts, press a walnut half into the belly of each fig.
- Lightly drizzle the warmed Spiced Honey Creme over the figs, concentrating most of the honey over the areas with walnuts.
- It’s that easy! Serve and Enjoy.
Yes, buying Organic can be expensive, but the trick is knowing when it’s actually necessary to spend the extra money.
Those listed under the “Always Buy Organic” heading tend to be heavily laden with pesticides, while those on the “Non-Organic is Okay” list are not.
Those that are okay to buy conventionally tend to not need pesticides, due to the natural protective properties of the plants that ward off insects(such as in onions and cabbage) and/or have a thick protective layer that the consumer peels away before eating.
If buying a leaved vegetable, always peel away the outer layer of leaves to ensure removal of the bulk of pesticides and debris.
This doesn’t, by the way, mean that it’s okay to skip washing your fruits or vegetables(even when you buy organic!).
Keep a spray bottle of full strength vinegar next to your kitchen sink. Spray each vegetable or fruit(even those that you peel – remember that bacteria can be transferred to the fruit during the peeling process) and wash before eating.
This helps remove surface debris and safely kills germs.
Print and keep this list in your wallet when shopping, so you can refer to it regularly, and save money.