Archive for July, 2013

THE PITFALLS OF WEIGHT WATCHERS

Weight Watchers is a very popular diet plan and for so many people it weight-watchersworks. The beauty of Weight Watchers is that it teaches you portion control as well as how to make choices both at home and when you are going out to eat.  Instead of counting calories, you simply count “points” and have to eat within your point limit each day.

I have many clients who have tried this plan and for the most part, have been very successful.

HOWEVER, counting points alone doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily eating a healthy diet……..it just means that you’re taking in the right amount of calories to lose weight.  So, you can have some candy for breakfast, perhaps a milkshake for lunch and how about a donut for dinner, and still lose weight. Of course this isn’t Weight Watcher’s philosophy but I’m seeing people getting obsessed with counting points. It’s crazy—it’s all about THE POINTS and not at all about eating healthy, nutritious food.

Bottom line: If you eat crappy food you’re going to feel crappy. Whether you are counting points or calories, you need to pay just as much attention to healthy foods—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy unsaturated fats, lean sources of protein, low-fat dairy and raw nuts in moderation. It’s the combination of the right amount as well as the right quality of food that’s key.

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WHITE BEANS WITH SAGE

White Beans with Sage 

ingredients

2 ounces bacon, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 T fresh sage leaves, chopped

1, 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained

½ vegetable or chicken stock

directions

In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered. * Add the garlic and sage and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and the broth. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the beans are nearly falling apart.

*NOTE: You can make this dish healthier by taking a paper towel and sponging up most of the bacon fat. If needed, you can then add some olive oil. I do this every time I cook with bacon.

(Adapted from a recipe found in The New York Times Magazine, October, 2012)

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WHAT’S GOING ON IN YOUR WALLS?

Here’s what recently happened to my husband and me:

1. We bought a house thinking we were going to do A BIT of cosmetic work.

2. We opened up the walls and SURPRISE…….we found mold everywhere.

3. We are now doing A LOT of work on the house. IMG_0915

While the house looked like it had some issues, we had no idea how bad those insides were until we opened it all up.

The rotting walls made me think about how deceiving our bodies could also be. You might have a few little issues—slightly elevated blood pressure, or high-ish LDL cholesterol or triglycerides. Even with these  heart disease risk factors, you might feel and even look fine, but still ignore what could be going on inside.

My advice? Pay attention to those signs. Don’t ignore a bad blood test or elevated blood pressure. Heart disease is the #1 killer of all of us. You might have to bite the bullet and make some important lifestyle changes.

While my walls are being re-built, diseased arterial walls are a different story. The last thing you want is a surprise like that!

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SPICED BASMATI RICE WITH CHICKPEAS AND ALMONDS

Spiced Basmati Rice with Chickpeas and AlmondsIMG_0859

ingredients

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 T chili powder or garam masala  or curry powder

1 cup of basmati rice

1 ¾ cups of chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

¼ cup almond slices

directions

Heat the oil in a medium pan with a lid. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the chili powder/garam masala/curry powder and stir  for another 2 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to combine the rice with the onion mixture. Then add the chickpeas. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 12-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, sprinkle with almonds and serve.

(Adapted from a recipe found in Mark Bittman’s cookbook, “How To Cook Everything Vegetarian”)

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OH, THOSE GLORIOUS 10-MINUTES

Your alarm goes off. You’re so tired and don’t want to get up. You close ScreenHunter_02-Apr.-12-20.59your eyes for just one minute. The next time you open your eyes, 10 minutes have flown by.

The phone rings. It’s your college roommate, who you haven’t spoken to in ages! You look at the clock and realize you only have 10 minutes to talk before you have to go and pick up your child. Crap……..only 10 minutes!

You need to do a google search for an item. One thing leads to another and before you know, 10 minutes are gone.

Where is this blog going?

Well, once again another study came out showing that you CAN gain the same benefits from exercise even when it’s broken down into 10-minute sessions. And as we know from the above examples, a 10-minutes block, isn’t all that much time.

The biggest problem people have with exercise is not having time. Many of us can’t find a 30-40 minutes chunk during our day. But I bet you that you CAN find 10 minutes. So start from there. Go for a 10-minute walk after dinner. Or if you’re in an office, go out and walk for lunch. If you do both, you will have racked up 20 minutes worth of exercise.

You might find that you actually feel pretty good after moving your body and will get motivated to add in another 10-minute session. You really have nothing to lose………it’s just 10 minutes.

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QUINOA, BLACK BEAN AND AVOCADO SALAD

Quinoa, Black Bean and Avocado Salad (serves 6-8) IMG_0876

ingredients

1 cup quinoa

chicken/vegetable broth

1 can (15-ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

½ avocado, chopped

dressing

1 cup cilantro leaves

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 T extra virgin olive oil

½ t lime zest

1 clove garlic

½ t black pepper

¼ t salt

directions

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions, using broth  instead of water and omitting the salt. Set aside to cool. (You can cook the quinoa a day in advance.)

In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa with the black beans, grape tomatoes, and avocado.

In a food processor, pulse the dressing ingredients to blend. Toss the dressing with the quinoa. Adjust the seasoning and chill for 15 minutes before serving.

NOTE: If you’re not a huge fan of quinoa, you can always substitute brown rice or even Israeli couscous.

(I adapted this recipe from a health magazine only I forgot which one! SORRY!)

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THE “HALO EFFECT” OF ORGANIC

Check out this frozen ORGANIC burrito. It has black beans and vegetables. imagesThis is healthy, right? Take a closer look, now at the nutritional label. labelL104341

While the calories and fat aren’t too bad bad, look at the sodium content: 580 mg. For many of you, that won’t mean much. A short cut to understanding sodium values on nutritional labels is to look under the “% of Daily Value” column. If the percentage is over 20%, then the product is LOADED with salt. Just drop it and walk away.

Many people get fooled by the world ORGANIC. ORGANIC seems to have a “halo effect”. A halo effect is “the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area.” In this case, people associate organic with HEALTHY when it just refers to the agricultural method of growing ingredients. Organic MIGHT be healthy but it doesn’t mean it IS healthy.

So if your brain tells you to pick up an organic product because you’re getting that “healthy” association, stop and read the nutrition label. Look at the fat, salt and sugar content. You might be very surprised!

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