Monday, July 30, 2012

Life is a highway

It has been all sorts of cray-cray around here lately. Earlier this month, we were in Jersey visiting my boyfriend's family. I'd no sooner returned when my mom came to Atlanta to visit for a week. Now that she's gone, we're heading down to Destin, FL, tomorrow - a last hurrah before my boyfriend's brother heads off to Germany for a three-year military stint. And then as soon as we get back, my pops will be in town for a business conference. Yowza! All the traveling and entertaining means it's been a wee bit hard to maintain a healthy diet. There have definitely been some splurges the past few weeks (hello Morelli's salted caramel ice cream!) but all in all, I think I did okay. I recently started running again, loaded up on fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers market and grilled out a couple of the nights we had folks in town, making some fantastic but low-cal variations on all my favorite BBQ foods. out a couple of those nights, which means you can find healthy alternatives to  some of those  fatty (and dee-lish) BBQ foods. Case in point...see below. And thanks to for the following recipes.

Zesty Grilled Garlic-Herb Chicken

Cucumber and Onion Salad

Five Pepper Salsa

Watermelon Fruit Salad Bowl

Also, here are a few tips from Hungry Girl to help avoid BBQ-related belly bulge:

* If your host is offering hot dogs, burgers and chicken breast, go for the chicken (but remove the skin if it's still on there). The chicken is your safest bet for a low-cal, low-fat meat fix.

* Are turkey burgers, turkey franks or chicken sausage up for grabs? Be careful! Some are lean, but others have almost as much fat and calories as the beef versions.

* Is it a BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat) event? Show up with skinless boneless chicken breast, fat-free hot dogs (or ones with less than 5% fat) and Boca Meatless Burgers. They all grill up AMAZINGLY well on the BBQ, taste fantastic and will save you tons of fat and calories!

* If you're drinking beer, make it light. You'll save calories and carbs! Psssst... Beck's Premier Light has just 64 calories and 1 Point per 12 oz. bottle!

* When it comes to frozen treats, stick with non-creamy ones. Fruit bars and shaved ice are better choices than ice cream treats like cones, bars and sandwiches.

* BBQ some veggies! Corn on the cob, asparagus and onions are awesome when grilled, and they'll fill you up. But skip the butter.

That's all, folks. Happy Memorial Day and see you next week.

P.S. Keep your fingers crossed I don't break any limbs while hiking and paddling around waterfalls.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

That's just peachy!

photo by liz west
After getting up bright and early to do yoga and running - yes, I was super productive this morning! - I went to the Grant Park Farmers Market and waited in a long line. Why? Because it was the last weekend for Georgia peaches. And if you've never had them, OMG, they are scrumptious! We're talking melt in your mouth peachy goodness.
I got two bags of those bad boys, so the question is, what shall I make? Peach pie? Lots of smoothies? A custard?
Well, because I'm such a peach, I went and dug up a few sucralose-sweetened, low-calorie tasty treats to help honor Atlanta's favorite fruit. I plan to take the Allman Brothers Band's advice and "eat a peach" (or several) this week.

Peach Melba Sipper

"Splend"Id Peach Pie Recipe

Peach Raspberry Cobbler

Peach Flavored Green Tea Punch

Monday, July 09, 2012

New research backs sweeteners as diet aid

Well, well, well...not to say, "I told you so!" or anything, but yet more research has come out to support the role of non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose in maintaining or losing weight. Two major health organizations - the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association - have endorsed sugar substitutes as a dietary aid.

"There may be a benefit to people who use them smartly and who don't compensate later in the day and negate the benefit," said Christopher Gardner, lead author of the new scientific statement.

According to the research, which is being published in the journals Circulation and Diabetes Care, there is also some evidence that consuming products with low-calorie  sweeteners can help people with diabetes monitor their sugar intake, a key component of managing diabetes.
"Picking diet sodas over sodas or even picking foods with non-nutritive sweeteners can have a direct impact on sugar intake and [can be used] as a viable tool to get people to monitor their sugar intake," said Gardner.

Are sugar substitutes a magic bullet? No. A person who drinks 12 diet sodas a day or regularly consumes a gallon of sucralose-sweetened ice cream should not expect to lose weight. However, low-calorie sweeteners are another tool to incorporate into an overall healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a balanced diet. So my advice is, ditch the regular soda and grab a diet version. With that change alone, you will cut 150 calories a day from your diet, which could ultimately result in a 15-pound weight loss over the course of a year.

You can utilize calorie savings calculators like this one to help shrink the waistline, remembering that weight loss and physical fitness will not happen overnight and require a lifelong commitment.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Fourth!

Who else is thrown off by this weird holiday in the middle of a work week deal? Do not like. However, I never turn down a good party, so I will be celebrating America's independence today along with dozens of my closest friends today. We'll be tubing down the river for a few hours this afternoon - need to find something to do to stay cool on this steamy day! - and then hitting Turner Field to watch my Cubbies take on the Braves tonight. Should be a fun, action-packed Fourth!

I'm also designing my menu for the day, since the holiday tends to be a high-calorie extravaganza. That means I'm bringing along some low-cal beverage and snack options to counteract all the fatty, rich foods that will be around today. If you're also expecting to be surrounded by tempting foods this Fourth, here are some tips to help you survive the day with minimal weight gain.

* If you're heading to a BBQ at a friend or relative's house, bring some low-calorie snack options such as a fruit salad or raw veggies and hummus.
* Don't show up hungry. Take time to eat a light, healthy snack before chowing down.
* Use a smaller plate. And when fixing it, make sure the bulk of the meal is fruits and veggies, such as salad, baked beans, corn, watermelon and grapes. That way you can fill up your belly faster with healthier items.
* Eating smaller portions is key. Yes, you can indulge in some potato salad and that scrumptious looking slice of cake. But don't pile a mountain of it on your plate or eat half a pie in one sitting.
* Avoid adding lots of butter, salt and fatty dressings. And skip the chips, crackers, breads and other high-calorie items.
* Try not to get seconds until a few hours after you've eaten the first plate.
* Always eat dessert last.
* It's all about water. Drink lots of it to help fill you up.
* Think before you drink. The rule of thumb is, the higher the proof, the higher the calories, and the creamier the cocktail, the more fattening it is. Some cocktails - take a Long Island Iced Tea, White Russian or Mai Tai - can pack 400 to 800 calories in a standard 12-ounce glass. In addition, juices, full-calorie sodas and tonic water add more calories to any drink. The best plan is to stick with wine, light beer, diet soda or cocktails containing sugar-free mixers. And remember to always pace yourself.

Speaking of light cocktail options, check out the fabulous recipe (courtesy of Hungry Girl) that I'm bringing out on the river today.

Sassy 'n Spiked Pink Lemonade Pitcher
48 oz. (6 cups) club soda
16 oz. (2 cups) diet cranberry juice drink (like Diet Ocean Spray)
12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) vodka
Two 2-serving packets (about 2 tsp.) sugar-free pink lemonade powdered drink mix (like the kind by Crystal Light)
8 no-calorie sweetener packets (like Splenda or Truvia)
Juice of 3 lemons
Optional garnish: 8 slices lemon

Place all ingredients in a pitcher and stir well. Serve over ice. Garnish with lemon slices, if you like, and enjoy!

Have a Happy Fourth of July, y'all! Remember to stay safe, avoid excessive heat and leave the fireworks shows to the pros!