Monday, October 25, 2010

My Weekly Meal Plan

Preparing meals at home is key for enjoying a healthier diet. It also saves money.

But it takes too much time, true or false?


If you take a little time to plan your meals in advance, it will actually save time in the long run. If you plan ahead you will have the foods handy that you need to make healthy, quick, easy meals that will also save you money.

Spend a few minutes considering what you would like to eat for the week. If you are nice, like I am, you will ask for input from the other folks sharing the meals. Consider if you will have leftovers, and whether some of the ingredients can be used in more than one recipe. For instance, if you are going to buy some veggies but you only need a small amount maybe you can use the rest of them in a meal the next day. Then make up a list and hit the store.

This week we are making:
  • Vegetablarian stuffed peppers. I got green peppers on sale. Since they came in packs of 2, and there are three of us, we have an extra for using in other recipes. We will stuff the peppers with Norlins style rice and beans and bake with a little cheese and tomato sauce on top. There will probably be rice and beans leftover, which I will eat for lunch along with some fruit and some type of easy veggie.
  • Vegetable Soup from the crock pot. We will put stock (bouillon + water) in the crock pot tomorrow morning along with carrots, celery, leftover green pepper, red pepper, red potatoes that were on the discount shelf, local cabbage, bean sprouts (cost $.16 in bulk), a few shrooms, onion, some canned, chopped tomatoes we have leftover from a previous recipe, and frozen corn. You can use fresh, frozen or canned veggies when making a simple soup like this. I don't recommend canned in general, but use what you have! And use what you like. You can put in whatever veggies you like and leave out the ones you don't. I wanted to put in some broccoli, for example, but was overruled by my sis who doesn't like it. I also could've put in some peas, but ewwwwwwwwww!
  • Homemade pizza. Will will use the same sauce from the stuffed peppers and some of the same cheese. Sir Cakewalk is making enough for us each to have our own pizza so we can add whatever we want. For his, he will be adding some sopressata I got from the deli section. You can ask them for just a few slices and it won't cost very much. And it tastes so much better than packaged pepparoni. I will be adding sliced tomato, spinach leaves (from the bag that I also use for lunch salads), and olives. My sis will probably keep it simple with some spinach and green pepper. Again, you can add whatever you want and you can control the amount of sauce, cheese, etc. So much cheaper, healthier and tastier than anything you can get from a delivery guy or frozen.
That's all we have planned so far. We have been going with three solid meals a week because we know we will have leftovers and to account for possible social plans revolving around food.

I'll let ya know how they turn out!

What are you planning on making?
If you aren't planning your meals but you'd like to, what's holding you back?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breaking the Habit: Diet Soda

I am not a perfect eater. I eat well and make smart decisions most of the time. But I also don't deprive myself of tasty delights like the occasional Mickey D's fry or KK donut.

I do have one nutritional vice. It is the one thing that I enjoy every day that I depend on when I need something sweet, when I'm bored, when I need caffeine or when I'm trying to squash cravings for other calorie laden items.

Hello. My name is the realistic nutritionist. I am addicted to diet soda.

There are a lot of mixed thoughts out there on diet soda. It is calorie free and sugar free. But it also has some sort of artificial sweetener and a load of other chemicals.

Some studies have linked diet soda with overweight. But it is undetermined as to whether it is a correlation or causation. In other words, we don't yet know if drinking diet soda causes /contributes to folks being overweight (or stay overweight) or whether it just so happens that those who are overweight drink diet soda.

Soda consumption has also been linked with osteoporosis due to the phosphoric acid content which may lead to bone loss.

Additionally, there are studies out there showing the negative health effects of excessive caffeine consumption.

Personally, I realize that diet soda isn't the healthiest option and it shouldn't replace water. But I also think it is ok in moderation and can be used as a transitional tool when folks who only drink regular soda are trying to lose weight and cut back on calories/sugar.

Unfortunately, I don't drink it in moderation.

But before I get on with my story, a note on regular soda. I often here comments from regular soda drinkers that diet soda is worse for us. This is simply not the case. Regular soda contains caffeine, phosphoric acid, and just as many chemicals as diet. True, it does not contain artificial sweeteners. But it does contain high fructose corn syrup. Have I posted about HFCS yet? If I haven't, I will. For now, I will simply say that it is bad for you in many regards and IT IS NOT THE SAME THING AS SUGAR!!!

Ok. So, where was I? Ah yes. Diet and regular soda can be ok in moderation, as an occasional treat. But I don't drink it in moderation. Now, I don't down it by the gallon. But I do drink at least 3 a day. I use it as a crutch. I depend on it. The thought of not being able to drink it stresses me out. (And I've been able to justify it to myself since I otherwise eat so well.) When I realized how emotionally connected I was, I accepted that I had a problem and that I needed to cut it out and then gradually re-introduce it as a sometimes food.

After discussing this with a co-worker and fellow diet soda drinker, we decided to make an office pact. We invited those in our office to join us in a Healthy Habits Pact. Each person who decides to participate will pick up to 3 specific healthy habits they want to rei-nforce in their lives. We will share our goal habits with the group and vow to practice them for one month. At that time we can re-evaluate. In this way, we will have support and accountability.

Do you have a habit that you would like to change/break/add to your life? You will be probably be more successful if you tell others about it. You should also make it specific and give yourself a definite time line. For instance, don't just say "I want to work out more." Instead say "I will work out for 30 minutes three times a week." Or you could say "I will eat 3 servings of fruit a day" rather than "I will eat more fruit." Figure out what you most want to change, make it specific but reasonable, give yourself a timeline, and tell someone. You can even start your own office or family Healthy Habits Pact.

If you would like to use this blog as a means of sharing your goals publicly, please feel free to do so. You don't have to share your name unless you want to.

Today is Day 2 for me. My plan is to avoid diet soda until Thanksgiving. By then I'm hoping I can add it back in but only a few times a week.

This just in!: I just received a recommendation from my cousin. She reminded me about fizzy water. This is a good option for those who want something bubbly but without all the chemicals and calories as soda. I love the stuff...I just drink diet soda too. :( So I'm gonna go get some. But I'm going to be careful not to let it become my new addiction!

Ok, ya'll. Wish me luck and help me stay on track!

Runny Butternut Squash Soup: Opps I Did It Again

Grrrrr! I made butternut squash soup for the second time last night and it still came out thin!

I sauteed some onion and garlic. Then I added TWO butternut squasheseses that we had roasted in the oven. Then I added 6 cups of water and some bouillon cubes. Every recipe I looked at says 6 cups of water for one large squash. And I used two! It looked thick enough until we started blending it with the stick blender. Within a few seconds it was basically water.

I added a bit of garlic salt and pepper and some nutmeg and clove. It had a great flavor even though the texture was less than desirable.

We also made homemade croutons to go with it. I typically don't like sweet squash dishes, I prefer savory. So when Cakewalk brought home a crusty loaf of walnut raisin for the croutons I wasn't happy. But, it actually turned out pretty tasty. We just cut the loaf into chunks and baked it at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. (Be sure to flip them and watch for burning if you have a conventional oven.)

It was an ok dinner, but it left me wanting something more. So I turned to the leftover wedding cake. Yes, we STILL have wedding cake. There was about one large slice of each type left. But they had finally gone bad. Instead I had some fritos my sis bought. Reminded me of the silly yo mamma frito joke that I probably shouldn't repeat here. ;)

In other news, Wednesday was DAY 1. More on this momentarily.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Purslane Was For Dinner

Ok, I forgot to take pictures. But I'm still not used to having a smart phone at my fingertips, and I was hungry, dang it!

Last night, after going for a short run around the 'hood, I made Mexican't Eggs with Purslane. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture, but it wasn't all that purty anyway. It was tasty though!

What is purslane? Good question! I am still trying to figure it out myself. It popped up as a choice in my weekly produce box and since I had never heard of it, I ordered it. This is an awesome way to try new things!

From my weak google searches, I have since learned that Purslane is considered a weed by many in the US but is eaten around the world. I found Indian recipes with it, Mexican recipes, Greek recipes, etc. I decided to go with a simple sounding Mexican recipe since I knew I wouldn't have much time to cook after running and before trivia and because I had all of the ingredients already on hand (I even added a few extras.) I'm sure it's good for you, although I don't trust Wikipedia to be accurate, so I will not repeat that information here. But come on, it's green, it can't be bad. ;)

So what did I make?

  1. I chopped half an onion that I had leftover from making tuna cakes the night before.
  2. I chopped one piece of elephant garlic, which also came in my produce box. It was HUGE! But it was very mild. You can use regular garlic, minced garlic, garlic powder, or leave it out.
  3. I chopped a banana pepper from my garden that I needed to use.
  4. I chopped a hot pepper that one of Sir Cakewalk's co-workers gave to us to try.
  5. And I picked the leaves off the purslane and rinsed them to remove any dirt.
  6. I heated about a T of real butter in our BRAND NEW STAINLESS STEEL ALL-CLAD PAN that came yesterday as a belated wedding present. (Can you tell I'm excited about it???)
  7. Then, when the butter was melted and slightly frothy, I added all of the chopped goodies except the purslane.
  8. I stirred everything around and allowed it to cook for a minute or two and then added the purslane. I continued the sauteeing for a few more minutes until the leaves were slightly wilted and the rest of the items were a little soft and browned.
  9. In the meantime, I cracked eggs and put them in a bowl with S&P and a dash of milk. I beat the eggs rapidly to mix and add a bit of air for fluffy scrambled eggs.
  10. Then, we added the beaten eggs to the pan and carefully stirred to combine. Remember, don't overstir your eggs. Be gentle!
  11. When the eggs still looked a little moist but weren't runny, we plated them and ate along with a piece of toast. (Toast was prepared in our new toaster, also a wedding present. It's nice to make toast without worrying about the house burning down, as was the case with our previous device.)

Note: In the above description, I said "I" when often it was really Sir Cakewalk or the both of us. We worked together to make this dinner so that it would be on the plate quicker. Plus, it's fun cooking together! I just said "I" to avoid confusion and wordiness. But props to Cakewalk, I gotta give him his due.

The eggs were tasty. They were a little spicy but light and fluffy. The purslane was very mild and not obtrusive at all.

My take home message for this post is this:
  1. Don't be afraid to try something new. Just get it, google it, make something that sounds good to you and give it a try. If you don't like it, no worries. Don't eat it again (although I do advocate trying something with different preparations before you totally rule it out.) But you may find something new (and hopefully healthy) that you enjoy!
  2. Eggs make an easy dinner. You can put whatever you want into scrambled eggs or create an omelet in a few minutes. I just wouldn't recommend eating them every day. And you can always use egg whites or egg beaters as a lighter alternative.
Have you tried something new lately???

Monday, October 18, 2010

Update: I Survived the Fair...Food

I ventured to the State Fair yesterday and I didn't make myself sick eating deep fried nastiness/goodness (depending on your point of view.)

I did not try a Krispy Kreme hamburger. Nor did I try a kool-aid pickle. I was tempted to try whatever they were selling at the Wisconsin Cheese Stand. (I really have no idea what it was. Was it just a block of cheddar? Was it cheese sticks? Cheese straws? It didn't say anywhere!) But the line was way too long to find out.

What I did have was an ear of corn and some homemade hushpuppies. The hushpuppies were delish. I got to see the grind the corn and fry them right in front of me. Plus, it was the best deal at the fair! I got a HUGE serving for only $4. So the three of us shared and it was just the right amount.

As seen at one stand:
No, just because it says "fresh" and "veggies" and the chef is a "Dr." does not make it healthy! ;)

If anyone DID try one of the deep fried monstrosities and lived to tell about, please share! Was it good???? Did it make you rush to the port-o-john?

Almond Joy

I was recently asked for almond recipes or ideas for different ways to incorporate almonds into the daily diet.

I admit that I don't eat almonds. I don't really care for them. I'm more of a walnutty kinda gal. (Insert joke/pun about being nuts or going nuts here.)

But I have enjoyed them in a few dishes and I do have some good food resources at my fingertips (cookbooks, websites, other RDs, and fellow foodie friends.) So I did some searching and came up with these suggestions:
  • Add them to oatmeal for a hearty and filling breakfast. You can add some dried fruit too.
  • Mix them into a trail mix. Put almonds, other nuts if you like, seeds, pretzels, dried fruit, chocolate bits, etc into a bowl and shake thoroughly (with a lid please). This makes a great afternoon snack to get you over the 3 o'clock hump.
  • A friend recommended adding them to couscous with dried cranberries. This sounds good and since he generally knows his food, I'll take his word for it that it is. Thanks for the suggestion!
  • Toss them into a salad.
  • Eat them plain.
  • Put them into muffins. You can even use a pre-made mix and just toss some into the batter.
  • Homemade almond ice cream, if you were wondering what to do with that ice cream maker you got at your wedding. (No, we didn't get one, nor did we get a waffle iron.)
Finally, I found the following recipe from one of my favorite healthy food websites, I haven't made it or tried it. But I generally like their recipes and I have had almonds with green beans quite a few times and it's a good pairing.

Orange and Almond Green Beans


* 1 pound green beans, trimmed
* 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* Freshly ground pepper, to taste
* 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted


Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Put green beans in the basket and steam until tender, about 6 minutes. Toss the green beans in a large bowl with oil, orange zest, salt, pepper and almonds.

Note: To toast sliced almonds, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Now, can anyone tell me how big a serving of nuts is? Hold our your hand flat, palm up like your asking for money. Imagine you had nuts in your palm. You can't cup your hand, you can only hold as many nuts as you can in your palm with your hand flat. That's about a serving. So beware of this if you find yourself mindlessly munchin on some nuts or trail mix. Yes, they are good for you. But they do contain a good deal of calories, so keep your portions in check.

What's For Dinner This Week?

In an effort to save money and get our eating habits back on track after the wedding, we are cooking and eating at home again. For awhile cooking at home meant cereal or sandwiches or restaurant leftovers.

But now we are back on track.

Over the past week or so we've:
  • made two different homemade chilis (one spicy with meat and one mild with TVP)
  • grilled out hamburgers/chicken breasts/veggie burgers
  • made homemade split pea soup in the crock pot (DID YOU KNOW? Split pea soup is not made with garden peas. Otherwise I would not eat it because peas are EWWWWW. ;) It's a lentil soup and it's very good for you...lots o fiber and protein.)
  • made homemade super simple pasta sauce (can of tomatoes, butter, one onion cooked for about an hour)
  • used the leftover noodles for baked spaghetti
  • eaten wings (ok, these were not made at home or eaten at home, but they were half price)
This week I plan to make:
  • tuna cakes with tatsoi and wild rice or brown rice
  • scrambled eggs with purslane (I just got purslane in my Papa Spuds order. I ordered it without a clue as to what it was so that I could try something new. Apparently it's a weed that can be added to soups or stews or eaten raw in salad. I found a cool recipe for Mexican eggs with purslane that I'm going to try.)
  • butternut squash soup with homemade croutons
And that's all I've got so far. Any other suggestions?

If you need further information about any of the recipes or ingredients I have mentioned here, please let me know!

I'll be sure to post pics and let ya know how the purslane turns out!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Holiday Treats for Kids

I was recently asked to post about sugar free Holiday treats for kids. First let me say, I don't think "treats" necessarily have to be sugar free or healthy. I think treats should be eaten in moderation. And since you only eat them once in awhile I don't see any harm in allowing some treats to have some sugar, fat, etc, especially if they are homemade or include fruits and veggies. But I certainly don't think we should deluge our kids with sugar or let them eat whatever they want in the name of holiday spirit. And there are some fun, healthy recipes out there that most kids will enjoy.

Here are a hodepodge of recipes, suggestions and ideas for parents this holiday season:

As you will see in an upcoming post concerning healthy snacks, I'm a big fan of homemade trail mix. Instead of giving your kid/allowing your kid to devour a bag of M&M's (for example), put the bag of candy in a bowl and add dried fruit (craisins, raisins, pineapple bits, banana chips, etc), nuts, seeds, pretzels, etc for a tasty snack/treat. This stretches out the refined sugar and adds fiber and protein. You can even put some into small baggies and send with your kid to school for lunch or a snack.


What about homemade muffins? Muffins are easy to make and something kids can help with. Here is a recipe I just came across that is certainly seasonal:


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Sift together
  • 1¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or half whole wheat and half all purpose flour)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
3. Beat together:
  • 2 eggs
4. Add to the eggs:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients with a few swift strokes (don’t over mix).
6. Fill greased muffin cups two- thirds of the way full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes a dozen muffins.

I also have a recipe for berry muffins with jelly in the middle that are fun for kids to make but, of course, I don't have it with me now. Remind me and I'll post it later. ;)


While I have pumpkin on the brain, let me recommend another recipe that uses one of my favorite foods...yogurt.


1. Mix the following ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate (use 100% juice)
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon(optional)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup(optional)
2. Dip with fruit slices or graham crackers.


Ohhhh....I just saw this recipe. This would be fun:

  • 1 24 oz. bottle cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 can frozen orange juice
  • ½ gallon apple cider
  • Grenadine
Mix first 3 ingredients together in a cauldron (or punch bowl) and serve in clear plastic cups, with Grenadine ‘blood’ dripping down the inside of the cup!

For added fun, float funny face ice cubes in the brew: Half-fill & freeze ice tray (or muffin cups) with water, garnish each cube with blueberry eyes & a mandarin orange smile, & then fill rest with water & freeze again.


Finally, when I first got this question the first thing I thought of was baked apples. I LOVE baked apples and I think they are a great Holiday treat. You don't have to use a lot of sugar and butter for them AND you can even make them in the microwave!


You will need:
  • 2 apples
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or you can even leave this out or use less)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons butter
To make:

1. Core the apples, leaving the bottom intact.
2. In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon the sugar mixture into the apples and set a teaspoonof butter on top of each apple. Place the apples in a deep casserole dish and cover.
3. Microwave for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes or until tender. Let the apples sit for a couple minutes before serving.

Super easy, right?!?

Ok, I hope that is enough suggestions for now! Stay tuned. I will keep my eye out and do a little searching on some of my go-to websites for other fun holiday treats for kids (and kids at heart).

Beer Bread

Want to make your own, warm, homemade bread but don't have a machine or the know how?

Try beer bread! It's easy!

All you need is:
  1. 12 ounces of the beer of your choice
  2. sugar (about 3 tablespoons)
  3. 3 cups of self-rising flour
You can then add extra spices, seasonings, etc to achieve a myriad of flavors.

You can try adding:
  • Herbs
  • Cheese
  • Spices (I got the idea for this post from the post about pumpkin-ness. I think adding a bit of pumpkin pie spice or similar spices would make a nice holiday type beer bread.)
  • Dried fruit

The final flavor will also depend on the beer you use. Darker beers will produce a richer, more pungent bread while lighter beers will leave it with a more mild flavor. Got a few extra, cheap-o beers chillin in your fridge from that last house party? This will put them to good use. Even beer you may not normally enjoy will probably taste good as bread. You can even try using pumpkin beer and adding pumpkin spices.

No kneading or rising necessary. Just mix the ingredients until combined and bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

Now, go make bread and be happy!

And remember I'll even allow you to put butter on it, as long as you don't bathe the bread in the stuff and as long as you use REAL butter. Is anything better than fresh, hot, homemade bread and real butter?!?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Does A RD Know Anyway?

Today I served as a judge for the state fair in the "cookies, candies, cakes and breads" category. This was my third year. If you think it sounds like an awesome job, think again. It's fun, yes. At first, it's a nice treat. But after 50 cookies, even the cookie monster himself would fall into a sugar coma!

When I told some folks I was judging again this year I received a comment about my ability to judge fatty, sugary things that taste good but aren't good for you. It wasn't a personal slight of any kind, and I didn't take it personally. But it did get me thinking...

I know I've posted on here before about what a RD or registered dietitian is and how we differ from a nutritionist or nutritional counselor, etc. But I think many people don't realize that the extent of our education and training goes beyond the topic of "healthy" or "proper nutrition."

Yes, we take classes on medical nutrition therapy and nutrition throughout the lifecycle (what a baby should and shouldn't eat, breast feeding, how our needs change as we age, etc), and learn all about counting calories and measuring BMI. And during our internship rotations we work at hospitals calculating the needs of those receiving tube feeding and educating newly diagnosed diabetics.

But a large portion of our training is also based around food science, food service and food safety. I took some classes that were basically in-depth cooking classes and had to learn the proper way to tenderize meat, the best fat to use in a pie crust, how to make a souffle, etc. (Basically a class Alton Brown could teach.) In such classes and others we learned about the chemical structure of foods and how this determines proper preparation. I can look at a muffin and tell you if it was overmixed or undermixed, for example, or why chocolate seizes when water is added. I even learned about all the cuts of beef and the best cooking methods for each.

Now, I'm not trying to say I know everything there is to know about food. Far from it. We all have our specialized topics, especially after we graduate and find our niche in the nutrition field. (I refer the difficult sports nutrition questions I get to a close friend and often have to ask my boss or co-workers about things like canning and gardening.) But we do have a much broader understanding than some realize.

I think RDs are not only misunderstood, I think sometimes we get a bad rap. We aren't just here to tell you you are fat and force carrots down your throat. Nor do we all work in hospitals (although I sincerely admire those of us who do!) Some of us are thin and some not so much. Many of us are ardent foodies and love fresh bread with real butter, or french fries, or full fat ice cream as much as the next person. Some of us espouse a more holistic approach to food (local, organic, vegetarian, etc) and some can put together a whole meal plan using convenience/processed items common in most American households. But I think the one thing we all have in common is wanting to help others be as healthy as possible.

How did I get off on this tangent? Sheesh! Why do ya'll let me do this? ;) I think this post ended up being a combination of responses to two recent comments I received...the one about the judging of unhealthy foods and a comment about how registered dietitians are all alike and only possess a certain kind of knowledge/skill. So please pardon the rambling and the soapbox preachin'. I won't let it happen again....for awhile. ;)

Now you might be asking why there is a picture of a fluffy white dog dressed as a pumpkin in the middle of this post. And, being an all-knowing RD, and the author of this blog, I have an answer...because I couldn't find another picture that went with what I was saying and I know how ya'll prefer posts with blogs, especially wordy ones like this one and I wouldn't want to disappoint my few loyal readers so I decided to include one of my puppy all decked out for Halloween. Isn't he cute? ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010


Do you like pumpkin flavored items?

Pumpkin bread?
Pumpkin pancakes?
Pumpkin pie?
Pumpkin seeds (although those don't really count as pumpkin-y)?
Pumpkin beer?

So far I have tried 4 different pumpkin beers this season in search of the best. I have also tasted the pumpkin pancakes at IHOP. Very tasty.

Do you have any good pumpkin-y foods or recipes to recommend?

Find A Buddy

No, not My Buddy. That doll always gave me the creeps.

But if you are looking to start an exercise program, or you need inspiration to keep one going, try to find a buddy for at least some of your workouts.

You could:
  • Join up with a co-worker and take walks at lunch or workout after work (how many different ways can I use "work" in one sentence?)
  • Find a local meet up group for an activity you like
  • Get active with your significant other or family member. Many gyms/health clubs have family memberships which are a discount over the individual rate.
  • Force a pet to help you. Take your dog for a jog or walk around the neighborhood or play in the back yard. Or, simply run back and forth down the hallway and have them chase you. ;)
Yesterday Sir Cakewalk and I ran together. We actually ran the whole way together. It was one of the best runs I've ever done. We got to chat along the way and both of us felt good. I know he coulda been faster, but since distance was more important anyway, it worked out. Now I really look forward to our long, slow runs together.

During the work week I take a lunch time weight/strength training class with co-workers. It works out well because it forces me to go even when I really wanna eat lunch or curl up under my desk and nap.

Accountability and camaraderie can go a long way!

(If I had a fun pic of us running together, I would insert it here. But alas! I do not.)

Fast Food Tips

As you know, I eat fast food (lurvvvvvv Mickey D's french fries). It can be a part of a healthy diet, if eaten in moderation and if smart choices are made.

Here are some tips for when ya gotta have fast food from the American Heart Association (I've added my own tips in italics):
  • Find out the nutritional content of fast-food items by visiting the chain’s Web site to help identify the healthiest choices. Some restaurants post this information near the counter or provide it in pamphlet form. This information can also be found on many chain's websites. I recommend looking this up, even at non-fast food joints. It'll give you a heads up and you'll make more educated choices when ya get the menu. (Check out Panera's and Macaroni Grills for instance, they might surprise you!)
  • Pass on “value-size” servings that enable you to choose greater portions of food for a slightly greater price. “Super-sizing” a food item inevitably increases the amount of fat, added sugars, sodium and calories you consume. Or, "value" size and share the meal with a friend.
  • Skip the sides, which are usually deep-fried. For a healthier side dish, order a side salad or fruit cup. Or, if the sides are what you came for, make the main entree something lighter. For instance, I like to get a large salad and a small fry. Or make your meal just sides. For example, small salad and fries, small salad and chili, baked potato and chili, fruit and salad....many places are adding more healthy sides options so take advantage.
  • Choose a baked potato over French fries, but have it with vegetables or fat-free or low-fat sour cream or margarine instead of butter, full-fat sour cream or cheese. Or try salsa or greek yogurt on top! I keep a container of salsa at work for just such occasions. A $1 baked potato with salsa makes a great last minute, warm, cheap lunch.
  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches often – they’re a much healthier option than breaded, fried-chicken sandwiches and usually significantly leaner than the meats used in most burgers. Or, if you really want a burger, go for it. Usually a small burger is better for ya than a fried chicken or fish sandwich. But remember to get a small/junior/single and hold the fatty toppings.
  • Avoid ordering sandwiches with double meat. A single serving of meat is 2–3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) and a single meat patty is usually well over a single serving.
  • Avoid adding bacon to sandwiches, because it’s high in fat and calories and has very few nutrients. Order pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and ketchup instead to add flavor without fat. Plus, fast food bacon is usually soggy. Who wants that?!? Def not worth the calories!
  • Steer clear of fried fish sandwiches. Choose fish sandwiches where the fish is baked, broiled or grilled. But I loooove the filet o fish.... le sigh. I got nothing else for this one. They're right. I know they're right. When I do order it I get it without cheese, because it really doesn't add anything to the sandwhich.
  • Try asking for a wheat or whole-grain bun, as some places do offer them. Or find out if they have bagels or english muffins instead of biscuits.
  • Hold the mayonnaise and other calorie-laden sandwich sauces (e.g., “special sauce”). Or get it on the side and apply your own light dusting. Please do not do this while driving.
  • Drink water, diet soda or skim or low-fat milk. Regular sodas are loaded with sugars and calories. I love Mickey D's $1 large unsweetened tea.
  • Remember, you can have it "your way" at most establishments. It never hurts to ask for special requests.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Beware of the

Opps, they've done it again. The NC State Fair starts next week and it looks like they have taken the unhealthy food to a whole new level.

This year in addition to fried mac and cheese, we can also enjoy chocolate covered bacon, a zucchini weeni and a Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich. What are these concoctions, you may be asking.

The first is much like it sounds. Chocolate and bacon. I do agree that chocolate and salty go together well. But why bacon? And why bacon dipped in chocolate? (Can you feel my shivers of ickitude over the interwebs?)

The second is a hot dog, stuffed inside a zucchini, dipped in batter, and deep fried. And no, just because it has a zucchini DOES NOT MEAN IT IS HEALTHY!

And finally, my friends at KK have found a way to cash in on the internet phenomenon inspired by the Cheerwine donut and the KFC Doubledown. They will apparently be serving a donut chicken sandwich, which I imagine is just what it sounds like. Once again, even if the chicken breast is grilled instead of fried, this DOES NOT MEAN IT IS HEALTHY!

Ok, you're thinking I'm no fun. You're thinking I expect you to go to the fair, smell all those smells, see everyone else with grease and sugar running down their chins and turn a blind eye, right?

No! But, come on, folks, let's be reasonable. My plan of attack for the fair is to either eat before I go or to eat some healthy-ish before I dig in to anything overtly heart-stopping. For instance, a giant turkey leg and an ear of corn can be a decent enough pre-gaming dinner (especially if you share the turkey leg). Then, I recommend finding one indulgent item that you really like or really want to try and go for it....even if it is the nastiest conglomeration of saturated fat, salt and refined sugar as yet known to man (and fair food creators....because you know they're just gonna up the anty next year.)

I love fries from the fair. So that might be my treat. Last year I tried the mac n cheese and was sorely disappointed. So I'd recommend shopping around a bit before you wait in long lines, pony up big money and dig into your treat. Decide what you really want and enjoy every bite! (Or if you really wanna be good, share!) And remember to walk as much as possible. ;)