While I still have a few more artificial sweetener articles, there is no reason to dump all of the gloom and doom on you all at once. So while you should certainly avoid drinks with aspartame and the sugary options that line the shelves of so many grocery stores, consider this alternative—smoothies. And with temperatures rising, you're probably looking for some cool drinks anyway. And if you have a good blender (did I mention how much I love mine?), you have no excuse for not having them. They're easy to make and clean up after.
In future posts, I intend to go into more detail about how I've come to prefer smoothies (especially green ones) as well as offering some recipes I'm excited about. However, that doesn't mean I can't give you a few to get you started right now.
Green Apple Smoothie
1 medium apple, sliced and cored (you can peel it too, but I like leaving the peels on for their benefits)
2 kiwis, peeled
1 cup baby spinach
¾ cup filtered water
2 large ice cubes
1 banana, peeled and cut into pieces
3 kiwis, peeled
1 cup kale (torn into small pieces)
½ cup baby spinach
½ cup filtered water
2 large ice cubes
How long you blend these will depend on the consistency you prefer and how powerful your blender is (My Ninja makes quick work of these fruits and vegetables).
While these smoothies are not free of calories like diet sodas, they are packed with nutrients (vitamins, fiber, iron, potassium, etc.), so these aren't the empty calories you get from sugary pops, “juices,” and punches so many reach for on a warm day. And as and added benefit, they are filling enough to be enjoyed as a snack or supplement a small meal.
Yet another busy week here brings me to another resource roundup before I realized it. And since busy workweeks often spill into the weekend, this will be another brief one. But I wouldn't come to you without something to read and ponder as you enjoy your weekend and head off into next week.
So what have I found for you this weekend?
Want to Lose Weight? Eat Less: Don't you love when a research group does a study to prove the obvious? This post at food politics goes into further discussion of the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and its results. Apparently calories do count, and diets only work if you stick with them. I didn't need a study to tell me that.
Lose weight while you sleep: Speaking of weight loss, I couldn't resist posting this one. It reminded me of advertisements for a weight loss drug that was popular during the late 1990s, but this isn't a gimmick. This discusses a link between sleep deprivation and snacking. Apparently, not getting enough sleep leads people to reach for high-carb snacks, rather than healthy ones. This too is something I've experienced. When I don't get enough sleep, I'm tempted to reach for high-calorie foods for a quick energy boost. Rest up!
10 Calorie Snacks: While we're on the topic of weight loss, this should appeal to those counting calories. Remember, snacking itself isn't bad, as long as you're eating something nutritious. In fact, it can keep you from overeating at meal times. Obviously, one of these 10 calorie snacks will probably not do the trick for you if you're hungry during the day, but they can be combined for healthy 50 or 100 calorie snack. As a note, I would avoid the items at the bottom of the list.
So on that note, I wish you a happy, healthy weekend!
Generally, when you're cutting calories, among the first things to go are the sweets and sugary drinks. Many dieters also eliminate high-calorie salad dressings and dips in favor of a healthier alternative. If you're looking to live healthier but still would love a dip to spice things up, have you considered hummus?
What is hummus?
For those unfamiliar with hummus, it is a dip made with chickpea paste and tahini, usually mixed with spices, such as garlic or red pepper. It is traditionally scooped with pita bread, but I'm fond of dipping vegetables (broccoli florets, baby carrots, celery sticks) in it as well. It also makes a great spread for sandwiches. I've found several recipes for hummus online, and the vegetarian cookbook a friend gave me for Christmas also has one. But until I find the time to make my own, I'll stick with Athenos.
I should start by pointing out that hummus itself is an acquired taste for some, and it's not necessarily for everyone. Since it is made from chickpeas, it has a smooth pasty texture that my husband, for example, doesn't care for, but I love it. Of the hummus brands I've tried so far, Athenos is my favorite. Athenos Hummus comes in a variety of flavors. Personally, any one of them could be used for dipping, but I'm fond of the spicy three pepper. If you are looking for something to spread on a sandwich, toast, or bagels, I recommend starting with the original and experimenting.
See for Yourself
I have included picture for those not familiar with hummus, especially its texture.
For me a favorite snack is baby carrots, and Athenos Hummus is great for dipping.
Ultimately, whether or not you like hummus will depend on personal preference, especially if you are sensitive to food textures. If you use another brand that you like better, feel free to comment, and if you have a recipe you have used and are fond of, by all means, share it.
How was your week? Hopefully, you're keeping your resolutions and continuing to adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits and are ready to relax a bit. And who doesn't love the weekend? But if you're like me, this time offers some challenges. Spending time with family and friends often puts you in the company of those who don't necessarily share your health goals, and some are more accommodating than others. So let's try to enjoy the weekend with healthy treats, and hopefully these articles will help keep you in the healthy-eating state of mind.
How to Dry Fruit: I've often wanted to dry my own fruit but haven't had the time or a dehydrator. However, Cara Smusiak tells us how to do it in the oven. Apparently, it's time consuming but doesn't require too much attention. If you're looking for a sweet but healthy treat, you may want to give it a try.
Cinnamon Apple Chips: I love apple chips. I'm thinking of adapting the time in this recipe to the procedure in the article above. If you have a dehydrator and decide to try it, please let me know how they turn out.
Snacks: How They Fit into Your Weight-Loss Plan: Snacking is good. Let me qualify that: eating healthy snacks between meals can help appetite control and prevent overeating. I think we've all heard this before, but it helps to be reminded. After all, sometimes when people get busy, they don't even think about eating until they're famished. A big meal usually follows. Anyway, the Mayo Clinic gives some great suggestions regarding healthy snacks, some of which I already use. If you're vegetarian, like me, you probably won't find the last part of the article too helpful, but at least it will generate ideas for planning healthy snacks.
Well, there you have it: sugar-free treats (dried fruits are favorites here) and a reminder to reach for healthy snacks when you need them. Let me know if you try that recipe for apple chips. I'd like to try it myself in the near future.
With that, I wish you a happy and healthy weekend.
Thinking of cutting back on sugar? With the new year still being young, this is probably on the minds of many people. They indulged in cookies, cakes, pies, eggnog, and a variety of holiday treats, and now they're looking to get back into shape. Sound familiar? And if you're like me, you probably tried this several times before succeeding.
So what's the key?
For one thing, going on a “diet” in the traditional sense isn't the answer. If you give up sugary foods and beverages until you lose the weight, you will gain it back once you return to your old habits. How do I know? Well, I won't go into how many times I tried and failed to lose weight and keep it off partly because I have lost count, but also it's embarrassing to realize how long it took me to figure out this common sense fact. Being truly healthy requires a permanent lifestyle change, not a temporary low-calorie diet.
So how do you manage to do it? Here are some tips that I used to cut back on sugar and embrace a diet that is almost completely free of added sugar:
1. Reduce Sugar Intake Gradually: Some people can quit cold turkey, but that's rare. Whenever I tried that, I'd fail miserably, cheating on the diet often and finally giving up after a few weeks. If you drink two or three cans of high-calorie soda, cut back to one, at least until you can find a satisfactory healthy replacement.
2. Replace the Sweets: Replace those sweet snacks and desserts with healthy alternatives. Do you reach for cookies or candy as a quick boost of energy during the day? Snack on fresh or dried fruit (apples, bananas, raisins, etc.). Instead of eating fruit-on-the-bottom or premixed yogurt, stir fresh berries into plain yogurt. Love sodas? Try mixing seltzer water with 100% fruit juice. Your imagination is the limit.
3. Make Time to Exercise: To maintain a healthy lifestyle, there really is no replacement for exercising regularly. Besides, the energy boost you get from working out will outlast that sugar rush.
Kicking the sugar habit will obviously benefit your waistline. However, there are other reasons to cut sugar from your diet.