Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day

Happy Hump Day! You know how we always grumble about all those tasks we could finish if only we had an extra day? Well, this week, your wish has been granted. Say hello to February 29. Because it's Leap Year, everyone gets an extra 24 hours that did not exist last year. So my recommendation is to take advantage of the additional time and give yourself a new achievable or measurable exercise and lifestyle goal to work toward.
For example, if you've slipped off track with those New Year's resolutions, Leap Day is a great day to recommit to living a healthier life. How can you do this? Here are a few ideas.
1) Carve out time for fitness. Regular exercise can produce overall health benefits. And it doesn’t have to involve hour-long training sessions at an expensive fitness center. Go for a quick jog in the morning before you get ready for work. Instead of driving to the office, walk or bicycle. Bypass the elevator for the stairs and go for a brisk stroll around your building after lunch. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat, so a regular mixture of cardio, flexibility and toning exercise is the best way to increase metabolism.
2) Start a food journal. Research shows that it helps to write down all food and beverages consumed throughout the day to get an accurate picture of the number of calories you are consuming. From the bagel and banana at breakfast, to the salad dressing and roll with lunch and handful of mixed nuts before dinner, write down everything you consume. You may find that the calories really add up!
3) Find some healthy, delicious new recipes to incorporate into your diet. Been wanting to test out a curry dish or make some sucralose-sweetened chocolate cupcakes? Now's your chance.
4) Recharge your drive and reflect on where you are in your weight loss or management efforts. If your motivation is flagging, write down all the reasons you originally wanted, and still want, to lose weight or maintain a healthier lifestyle.  Look at the list every day. Also let friends and family know what you're up to, and ask for their support.
5) Make even the simplest of changes. Drink another glass of water, try out yoga or re-engage with your primary care physician to understand your health status.
Don’t waste your extra day this Leap Year. Your health isn't worth the procrastination.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Girl Scout cookie time!

photo by punctuated

'Tis the season...that time when America's favorite cookies arrive in the mail. We ordered six different boxes to help friends' kids, but now that they're here, staring me in the face, I'm regretting my decision just a bit. Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts got rid of the sugar-free cookies they used to carry. RIP, reduced fat Chocolate Chips and Daisy Go Rounds. So, how does one avoid this type of tasty temptation when trying to watch the waistline? I brought two of the boxes to a friend's house - including my favorite, Tagalongs, as I knew I'd eat the whole thing myself - stuck two in the freezer and brought a box of Samoas to work. Now there is just one, unfrozen box remaining...which is much more manageable. However, you better believe I enjoyed a bowl of sugar-free vanilla ice cream with some crumbled Trefoils last night. So flipping good!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I want some velvet for Valentines

photo by Jacinta Lodge

Happy almost Valentines Day, y'all. Yeah,'s a lame holiday and one that I hate celebrating regardless of my relationship status. But you know what does make me happy? Red freakin' velvet cake! Growing up, my southern mother used to make the delicious treat every year for Valentines Day - so it has now become tradition. Other people dig into a box of chocolates or "sweet tarts" candy...I simply must have at least one slice of red velvet cake every Feb. 14.

I still love the high-cal version, but I was thrilled to discover a sugar-free version a few years ago that was almost as delicious. And now it appears there are a few different low-cal recipes available, so I will definitely be whipping up my own batch of red velvet cake this week. A warning to anyone planning to make it for the fist time...prepare to spend some time in the kitchen. And only make it for people worthy of that time and attention.

Anyway, I've attached a few recipes below. Any recommendations on which I should make this year?

Sugar-free Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Mini Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Score big with low-cal recipes tonight

photo by Triple Tri

What time is it? It's game time, baby! The annual holiday of sports is back - the most-watched sporting event in the U.S, when folks of all ages eat, drink and be merry, while rooting on their favorite team. I've got no dog in this fight, so I'll be cheering on my boyfriend's team, the New York Giants. 

It's already been an action-packed weekend, so eating another round of high-calorie foods and beverages is not ideal for my waistline. According to the Calorie Control Council, Americans will eat 30 million pounds of snacks on the big game day.  That breaks down to 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 4.3 million pounds of pretzels, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 2.5 million pounds of nuts.  The average armchair quarterback will consume 1200 calories and 50 grams of fat from snacking and that doesn’t even count any meals. Yowza!

So how does one avoid the battle of the bulge on such a debaucherous night? For starters, find some time to exercise before chowing down on all those high-fat snacks. In addition, the CCC recommends pre-planning your Super Bowl event and menu to include lower calorie appetizers and beverages. When it comes to recipes, it is possible to cut the calories without cutting the flavor. The traditional “pigs in a blanket” can be made-over with reduced fat hot dogs and reduced fat crescent rolls. For dips, choose salsa, which is fat-free, and make dips/sauces with reduced-fat sour cream and non-fat Greek yogurt.  Use more seasonings and spices such as garlic, cilantro, parsley and hot peppers to add great flavor, and go lighter on the salt (sodium).  Add fresh fruit and vegetables for dipping. Try substituting grilled chicken kabobs for fried chicken wings, and you’ve got a healthy meal in no time! Also, offer diet versions of beverages (e.g. sodas, beer) and have low-calorie sweeteners like sucralose on hand for guests to use in tea and coffee. And during halftime, try getting a little extra physical activity to burn off super bowl snacks by tossing the football or play some video games that involve dancing/physical movement for players.

Check out the Calorie Control Council's appetizer recipe section to find a list of healthy spreads and dips perfect for tonight's Super Bowl party.