Thursday, June 30, 2011

Come sail away

I'm so stoked! It's almost the weekend and I'll be spending back-to-back days on the water. I'm going tubing on the river on Saturday and will be spending most of Sunday on a boat. Wooooot! Hoping Mother Nature is good to me this weekend. I think I deserve it, especially since she caused me to spend nearly 10 hours in an airport last weekend.

Anyhoo, another fun aspect to tubing and boating (in addition to the sun and relaxation part) is you can bring your own cooler while enjoying that leisurely float downstream. As in years past, I plan to whip up a batch of "flirtinis," a mixture of vodka, grapefruit juice and champagne, as well as the low-cal, sucralose-sweetened mojito recipe listed below. The cocktails will be the perfect treat on a humid day on the water. Have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July weekend!

Black Cherry Mamba Mojito
3/4 cup diet lemon-lime soda
1 shot (1 1/2 oz.) light rum
1/8 tsp. Kool-Aid Black Cherry Unsweetened Soft Drink Mix
12 mint leaves
4 dark sweet cherries (fresh and pitted or thawed from frozen)
1/4 lime, cut into slices
1 no-calorie sweetener packet (we like Splenda!)
5 - 8 ice cubes
* Ditch the rum and add water instead. Your alcohol-free fruity mojito will have 25 calories, 0g fat, 6g carbs and 0.5g fiber.

Remove seeds from lime slices. Then muddle the mint, lime and cherries in a glass. Add the soda, rum, Kool-Aid, and sweetener. Stir well. Add ice and enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stressed out?

Between an insanely busy work schedule and an equally busy personal life of late, I really feel like I haven't had time to breathe. Seriously, I've been out of town every other weekend and even when we do stay local, there's very little down time. And during the week, I find I rarely make it home before 8 or 9 pm, thanks to late nights at the office and trips to the gym. The problem is, when I get busy and stressed out, I tend to NOT make the wisest diet choices. I don't reach for celery sticks or carrots in times of duress. I reach for chocolate or a bag of salty chips.

Apparently, I'm not alone. Studies show people crave rich, high-calorie foods when stress is unrelenting, hence the term “comfort food.” But emotional eating can generate additional anxiety, not to mention it sabotages any ongoing weight loss efforts. Fortunately, there are a number of healthy food alternatives that are chock-full of stress-relieving vitamins.

This article sheds some light on which soothing foods to add into the diet. Check it out...

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.

Check out some cottage cheese and fruit
– Cottage cheese also contains protein and calcium. Try mixing it with a fruit rich in vitamin C like cantaloupe or oranges.

Beef up on the lean meat - Beef contains zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Be sure to select lean cuts of beef such as top sirloin, top round and tenderloin.

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.

So the next time you crave sweets due to stress, avoid the full calorie fare and try reaching for a handful of blueberries or almonds. By eating wholesome foods on a regular basis, eventually your stress level will decrease and leave you less susceptible to food cravings.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lazy days of baseball

It's been an interesting sports weekend in our household. See, I'm a huge Cubs fan. Sad and depressing, but true. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is an obnoxious Yankees fan. And our teams have been playing each other all weekend - in Chicago! - which is a very rare occurrence. We actually looked into flying there for the weekend to catch one of the games, but we couldn't make it work financially.

Anyway, the smack-talking has reached epic proportions today, especially since the series is currently tied with each team taking home a victory. Guess we'll see what shakes down tonight, while we watch the ball game from the friendly confines of our apartment.

In an effort to slightly recreate the feel of attending a game, I've put together a ballpark-style menu for dinner tonight. But instead of chowing down on a fully loaded hot dog, breaded chicken tenders, nachos, salty peanuts and ice cream, I'll be trying to stick to a healthier menu.

Here are some of the dishes that will be served tonight:

Southwest Citrus Salsa
Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix
Barbecued Chicken

These sucralose-sweetened meals are delicious AND low-calorie. So root on my Cubbies, y'all! And Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Hot days, cool treats...

Okay, it's CRAZY hot outside. I think it was 98 degrees today in the shade. Seriously, y'all, summer has started out with a bang. I spent the day hanging out at a friend's pool. While we chose to stay submerged in the water most of the time (way too hot to suntan on the deck), I came armed with wonderful, sugar-free frozen treats to help everyone cool off. Check it out!

Watermelon Raspberry Popsicles

Refreshing Summer Slushie

Top off those icy desserts with a pitcher of margaritas (I heart my friends!) and it was a fabulous Sunday Funday! Life is good.