Monday, September 26, 2011

Who needs birthday cake when pancakes are around?

So I'll let you in on a little secret. It was my birthday on Saturday. Yup, I'm now another year older, just not sure if I'm any wiser. And because my friends are awesome, there was a lot of drinking and celebrating going on all weekend. Let's put it this way - we wound up going to a greasy spoon diner at 3 a.m. for breakfast. It was THAT kind of night. My breakfast of choice is typically an omelette and bacon, but I just had to indulge in a short stack of pancakes and turkey sausage the other day. It hit the spot! Sure, I had to do some extra exercise on Sunday to combat the grease, but it was a lovely treat at the time. Fortunately, I found these sucralose-sweetened pancake recipes on so I can get my pancake fix again without the calorie-related guilt. Happy birthday to me!

Oat Bran Pancakes
Banana Walnut Pancakes
German Apple Pancakes

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bust out the gym shoes...

Yeah, yeah. I know how easy it is to make excuses when it comes to exercise. You're too tired, there's too much traffic, the gym is too crowded, you're feeling peckish after a long day at work. Believe me, I've used them all myself. But yet another study has come out touting the benefits of exercise.
A new study conducted by Harvard researchers showed that as little as 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week can dramatically cut heart disease risk. For those who did more, about 300 minutes a week (five hours), their reduced risk of heart disease, including heart attacks, angina and bypass surgeries, increased to 20 percent compared to people who did no exercise, the study found. Researchers also noticed a significant gender difference in results - which showed while exercise resulted in a 22 percent reduction in heart disease risk among men, it increased to a 33 percent reduction among women.
"The overall findings of the study corroborate federal guidelines - even a little bit of exercise is good, but more is better," Dr. Jacob Sattelmair, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a written statement.
So take a quick walk. Do some gardening. Play a game of tennis or go dancing. If you have the time and energy, tie up those gym shoes and go jog, swim laps, hike or take a fitness class. It helps the heart!

Monday, September 12, 2011

My milkshake is better than yours

I went to Flip Burger Boutique this past weekend. For all you foodies, Flip is owned by Richard Blais of Top Chef fame. The burgers and solids are solid but allow me to wax poetic for a minute about the lineup of liquid nitrogen milkshakes - those beverages are the bomb diggity! The Krispy Kreme one is just way too sweet for me, but I HEART the nutella and burnt marshmallow milkshake, which is uber-chocolaty with a delicious layer of graham cracker crumbles at the bottom of the glass. I'm also a sucker for the peaches and cream shake. There's nothing better on a hot day than a nice, frosty beverage, amirite?
Still, if you're counting calories like I am, you can't afford to indulge in those Flip-style shakes on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are some light recipe variations to help alleviate that guilt. And, since today just happens to be National Chocolate Milkshake Day, I figured it was the ideal time to share this 200-calorie, sucralose-sweetened milkshake recipe courtesy of Hungry Girl. Enjoy!

HG's Ginormous Chocolate Ice Cream Shake
3/4 cup Breyers Double Churn Free ice cream, French Chocolate
1 25-calorie packet diet hot cocoa mix
1 1/2 tbsp. Hershey’s Syrup Lite chocolate syrup
2 Splenda packets
2 cups crushed iced (about 10 - 14 ice cubes' worth)
Optional: Fat Free Reddi-wip and a maraschino cherry

Dissolve cocoa mix and sweetener into 2 oz. of hot water. Mix well. Add syrup and 6 oz. of cold water and stir. Place crushed ice and ice cream in a blender. Top with liquid mixture. At low to medium speed, blend until shake is thoroughly mixed (but not liquified). Pour into a very tall glass and, if desired, top with a generous squirt of Fat Free Reddi-wip and a cherry. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Fighting Bad Habits on Holiday Weekends

Only one more day until the long holiday weekend. YAHOO!!! Yes, clearly I'm stoked and in serious need of a mental break from work. Plus, I'm headed off to Norfolk, VA, to spend the weekend with my family. See, my little bro is getting back from a Navy deployment tomorrow, so we're all flying out to meet him. Should be a blast.

The one downfall of any vacation - other than the financial expense, of course - is the weight gain that often accompanies it. I definitely expect a lot of rich foods and liquor to be consumed throughout the course of those three days, so I've created a little list of health-related goals for myself. From 30 minutes to an hour of exercise each morning, to loading up on veggies and fruits between meals and only drinking light beer, wine or alcoholic beverages mixed with diet soda or low-calorie juices, I'm definitely determined to avoid excess pounds.

By the way, here are a few "filling" tips I found on that will help keep hunger at bay. I will definitely be utilizing some of these this weekend. Have a fabulous Labor Day!

Fill up on fiber.
Foods that contain fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain pastas and cereals, help keep you feeling fuller, longer.

Drink, drink, drink...the water.
Water helps you to feel full as well, which means you’ll be less likely to feel hungry. So, before you reach for that cookie, try a glass of water. You may find that you were really thirsty rather than hungry. Remember, there are a variety of no-calorie flavored waters (sweetened with sucralose) available if you want to switch up your routine.

Snack away.

Use snacks to your advantage. If you’re feeling hungry, grab a light, low-calorie snack. Don’t wait to eat until your ravenous – you’ll end up eating everything in sight. Try to eat smaller “meals” throughout the day. Some people find that eating six small meals works better than eating three large meals. Try to incorporate your favorite light products (sweetened with sucralose) into the diet as a way to enjoy sweet treats without the added calories...or guilt!

Eat protein and fat.

This isn’t a license to eat two chicken breasts at one sitting or your favorite pint of full-fat ice cream. But, if you find that you’re hungry soon after you eat, you may want to consider making some changes to your meals. For example, if you eat a plain bagel each morning, why not consider eating just half the bagel with one to two tablespoons of reduced-fat margarine, cream cheese or peanut butter? Or, if your lunchtime salad consists mainly of lettuce, tomatoes and some cucumber, why not also top it with lean chicken or tuna, kidney beans, chickpeas or even some chopped egg? When it’s snack time, go for apple slices with small amounts of reduced-fat cheese. Adding small amounts of fat and protein can help you feel satisfied longer. This is because fat and protein are digested less quickly than carbohydrates, which means you won’t feel as hungry as quickly. Remember, it’s still important to balance and count your calories. If you add something to your daily intake, be sure to account for it and balance your diet by eating less of something else.

Finally, if all else fails, increase your calorie content. Increasing your diet by 100 to 200 calories will not sabotage your weight loss efforts. If you increase your calories a bit, you will still lose weight, it will just be at a slower rate – more like half a pound a week. And, as we all know, it’s not about how fast you lose the weight, what’s important is that you find ways to stick to your weight loss plan.