Thursday, September 23, 2010

South Florida, here I come!

I am so excited, y'all. This time tomorrow, I'll be packing my bags and getting ready to head to the airport. Yup, it's vay-cay time!! The boyfriend and I are heading down to South Florida for a long-overdue and much-needed vacation. Well, we're mostly going down for a wedding and to see some old friends. But I plan to spend a lot of the trip getting my tan on, lounging at beaches as far north as West Palm and as far south as Key West. Did I mention I used to live in South Florida? Yes, I know the area pretty well. And while I was never particularly fond of the Florida restaurant scene, I am stoked to get some authentic Cuban food again. Ropa vieja, mojitos, yellow rice, black beans, plaintains and fried yuca. YUMMY! So dry your eyes. I'll be back in early October with more sugar-free tips and recipes and a recap of all my Florida shenanigans. Until then, here is a low-calorie mojito recipe so you can enjoy a refreshing Cuban cocktail from the comfort of your home...while I enjoy mine from South Beach or a Key West patio, bwahaha!

Watermelon Frojito
Ingredients:
3/4 cup watermelon chunks, seedless or seeds removed
1 shot (1.5 oz.) rum
1 lime, cut into wedges
3 - 4 mint leaves
2 no-calorie sweetener packets (like Splenda or Truvia)
1 cup crushed ice or 5 - 7 ice cubes

Directions:

Place the mint leaves, half the lime wedges, and the sweetener in a tall glass. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime wedges into the glass and discard those wedges. Crush and "muddle" the mixture until the juice has been released from the lime wedges, the mint leaves are thoroughly bruised, and the sweetener has dissolved. Set aside.
Place the watermelon, rum, and ice in a blender, and blend until smooth. Pour into the glass with the lime-mint mixture and stir well. Drink up and be refreshed!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stressed Out? Eat Healthy

I just came across this a great article on www.sucralose.org that discusses "soothing foods" in times of stress. I have a confession: I'm a total stress eater. When I get overwhelmed or emotional, I reach for that chocolate bar or bag of salty chips rather than some carrot sticks. It's a habit I've struggled with for many years. And apparently I'm not alone, since studies show people crave rich, high-calorie foods when stress is unrelenting, hence the term "comfort food."

Here are a healthy food tips to help stave off the stress. For a longer list, you'll just have to read the article!

Go nuts with almonds - A good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and E, almonds also contain magnesium and zinc. The B vitamins and magnesium are involved in the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood and relieve stress, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system.

Grab a green, leafy veggie – Broccoli, kale and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress. Many vegetables also contain potassium, which can be calming on the nerves.

Opt for whole grains - Whole grains including bulgur wheat, quinoa, wheat pasta, oats and brown rice, contain plenty of B vitamins and healthy fiber. They also supply complex carbohydrates that do not spike blood sugar levels in the same way that simple carbohydrates can.

Milk does a body good – Low-fat or skim milk is very high in calcium and B vitamins, which help to build bones and protect nerve health. In addition, milk contains protein, which stabilizes blood sugar.

Beat the blues with berries – Blueberries are jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which are potent stress busters. As an added bonus, they're high in fiber and low in calories.

Your diet plays a crucial role in your overall well-being. In addition to incorporating these stress-fighting foods into your diet, sugar-free products sweetened with sucralose allow consumers to enjoy their favorite desserts and meals without worrying about the additional calories. For example, choosing sugar-free chocolate will save you 50 calories a day – or five pounds – by year’s end.

Good advice! I'm certainly willing to give it a shot.

More information about recipes with a sugar substitute.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How do you like 'dem apples?

I never thought I would say this but...I actually found a relatively healthy dessert recipe on Paula Deen's website! Crazy, right? I mean, the chef known for her rich macaroni & cheese, deep-fried Twinkies, creamed corn and Krispy Kreme bread pudding with butter rum sauce actually posted a lower-calorie dessert recipe online. And I say that with lots of love because I have eaten at Ms. Deen's The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah and enjoyed the experience immensely. That Southern Buffet is a delight - the fried chicken literally melts in the mouth! Anyhoo, back to the focus of my post...I just came across this Splenda-sweetened Apple Dumpling recipe on her site. Dee-licious! And did I mention that today just happened to be National Apple Dumpling Day?!

Ingredients:
2 cans crescent rolls
2 granny smith apples
1 stick butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/3 cup splenda
1 (12 oz) diet Mountain Dew

Directions:
* Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
* Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 wedges. Roll each wedge in a crescent roll. Place rolls in a 9 x 13 baking dish. In small saucepan melt butter. Once melted add splenda (or sugar) and cinnamon. Mix well. Spoon over crescent rolls. Pour diet Mountain Dew over rolls. Bake for 45 minutes.
* Notes from the Paula Deen Test Kitchen: Splenda is more difficult to mix in butter than sugar. Mixes better if butter is melted. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, Splenda and cinnamon. Remove the dumplings to a wire rack after cooking as the liquid still in the baking dish will make the dumplings soggy. The Apple Dumplings taste like mini apple pies.

More Splenda recipes here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fire up the grill without the calories


The weather here in Atlanta has been gorgeous (to me, anyway) lately. So to celebrate the end of summer, some slightly cooler temperatures, the beginning of a new college football season and a friend's newly constructed backyard patio, I'll be attending a BBQ tomorrow afternoon. Yes, I know...barbecues are NOT the best for the waistline. I should know - I've attending plenty of them this year. But there is a way to enjoy the festivities without tripling your daily intake of fat and calories.
Here are some tips, courtesy of www.sucralose.org:

Choose your marinades wisely. Using sauces such as Worcestershire, Chile, Soy, or light Italian dressing in place of salt or heavy sauces will add a lot of flavor with a few calories. If you are looking to flavor with spices, try garlic, onion powder, or chili powder. If sweet taste is what you are going for add a little fruit juice to the marinade. This will add a sweet taste while also tenderizing the meat. Also, a low-calorie sweetener such as sucralose can help sweeten a marinade without the added calories.
Think beyond just meat. Barbeques don’t have to be a meat lover’s paradise. Try one of the sauces/seasonings listed above on steak or chicken skewers. In between each piece of meat, add pineapple, mushrooms, peppers or any other fruit or vegetable you and your family or friends enjoy. Cut the veggies into sizes that will cook well on the grill and then grill them for about 8 to 10 minutes. If you like seafood, shrimp or fish could be a great option for grilling whole or making into skewers.
When grilling chicken, make sure you remove all the skin. The skin of the chicken is where most of the saturated fat is found so removing the skin will remove this unwanted fat as well. If you are a chicken skin lover consider this: 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast with skin contains 8.8 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of saturated fat 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast without skin contains 4 grams of fat and 1.2 grams of saturated fat. Be sure to take the skin off before adding the marinade so you don’t lose the flavor along with the skin. When cooking other types of meat be sure to choose the leanest cuts possible and trim additional fat before cooking.
Portion distortion is still a problem on the grill. If you are making skewers, cut the meat in small pieces with loads of vegetables in between. If you are making burgers or steak, think “tapas” and cut them into smaller appetizer portions before cooking. For every piece of meat you have, try to have an equal amount of vegetable.
Traditional barbecues are centered on grilling meat, but don’t forget about the sides. Complement your meat with a healthful pasta salad made with whole wheat pasta and light Italian dressing. Or, going along with the tapas theme, make some mini appetizers such as bruschetta, hummus with olive oil and whole wheat pita, low fat artichoke dip, or a veggie tray. Take advantage of the delicious fruits in season and provide a fruit tray and a yogurt dipping sauce sweetened with sucralose for a low-calorie dessert that is sure to satisfy all your guests!

Hope these tips help at the next backyard gathering.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Get Physical!

Add this to the list of reasons why exercise is good. According to a new study, physical exercise can reduce a genetic predisposition to obesity by an average of 40 percent. The study, which has been published in Public Library of American Science Medicine journal, is based on examination of more than 20,000 British people. The research challenges the notion that an inherited propensity to obesity is impossible to overcome and boosts the case for the benefit of more exercise for anyone looking to shed some weight. So for any of you looking to lose a few pounds, remember to combine exercise with healthier eating habits for the best results.

In closing, I thought I would include this awesome clip featuring a "Physical" duet between Olivia Newton-John and Sue Sylvester. Enjoy and have a safe, happy Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Happy 90210 Day!

Today is 9/02/2010...Do you know what that means? It means that the dates -and stars!- have aligned to form 90210 Day! So in honor of that calendrical feat (is calendrical even a word?), here are a few clips from that glorious show adored by so many children of the late 80s, early 90s. And yes, I confess I was one of those children. So take a trip down Memory Lane and enjoy some of these old-school 90210 clips. God bless YouTube!







By the way, who else wanted to hang out with Nat at the Peach Pit back in the day? I used to think that place was so cool. Speaking of peaches, here are some sucralose-sweetened peachy-flavored recipes. Think I'm going to make one of these and watch some old BH 90210 episodes tonight. Enjoy!

Double Crust Peach Cobbler
Peach Flavored Green Tea Punch
Peach Almond Crisp