Posts filed under ‘diet recommendations’

Supersizing hits home

CB005656 The enormity of restaurant portions is well known, and countless strategies have been developed for dealing with them: ordering only appetizers, immediately putting half your meal in a to-go bag, even staying home rather than going out to eat.

Now, it turns out that eating in may be as dangerous to your waistline as dining out.  A study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that cookbook recipes have significantly higher calorie counts than in the past.

“The study, which looked at how classic recipes have changed during the past 70 years, found a nearly 40 percent increase in calories per serving for nearly every recipe reviewed, about an extra 77 calories.”

Although the trend has been noted in other cookbooks, the study focused primarily on the classic “Joy of Cooking” cookbook, first published in the 1930s, discovering that…

“Only the chili con carne recipe remained unchanged through the years. The chicken gumbo, however, went from making 14 servings at 228 calories each in the 1936 edition, to making 10 servings at 576 calories each in the 2006 version.”

“And changes in “Joy of Cooking” have been going on for a while. Increases in overall calories per recipe have been gradual, but portion sizes tended to jump, first during the ’40s, again during the ’60s, and with the largest jump in the 2006 edition.”

Add a decade, expand a portion.  A brownie recipe that yielded 30 brownies in the 60s now delivers 15 brownies.  A chocolate chip cookie recipe that made 100 cookies initially now provides only 60.

So what do you do about it?  Unfortunately, being aware isn’t enough.  You have to be as vigilant at home as you are on the road.  Make smaller cookies or brownies.  Or, adapt your restaurant strategies for home: don’t eat a full portion, saving the extra for another meal.

February 19, 2009 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Tips from the Belly Off! Diet

Men’s Health started an online weight-loss community called the “Belly Off! Club” back in 2002, and since then, club members have lost almost 2 million pounds.  Yowsa!  That’s alotta pounds!!  Their book, The Belly Off! Diet, is not due out ‘til April, but MSN is giving us a preview of some of tips contained in it.

  • Cut out refined grains and sugar
  • Eat more protein, healthy fats, fiber-rich fruits & veggies, and whole grains
  • Eat breakfast every day
  • Lift weights at least three times a week.
  • Do cardio workouts, especially interval training

None of these are particularly new methods for slimming down, but it never hurts to reinforce good techniques through repetition.  And, because this books is written by men for men, it might reach a whole new audience that doesn’t always respond to more typical diet plans.

January 24, 2009 at 6:33 pm 2 comments

Top Ten useful articles to make 2009 your healthiest yet!

January 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm 1 comment

Cooking without eating

The latest issue of Cooking Light just arrived in my mailbox, and the holiday recipes look mouthwatering!

I have been overtaken by a nearly irresistible urge to bake the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies featured in this issue, but I have forced myself to resist.  Why?  Well, I’m afraid I’ll eat up all the cookies before they have a chance to cool down.  And, even if I managed not to do that, saving them ’til I can unload them at work the next morning, I’m afraid I’ll go crazy with the leftover ingredients: peanut butter, mini chocolate chips and more.

Ugh!  I want to learn to be a better cook, but my willpower during the process is decidedly lacking.  With my struggles lately to stay on course – not to mention the inherent challenges of the season – I just can’t afford to take the risk of overeating, not even for the lofty goal of further developing my Sassy Chef skills.

However, if your motivational mojo is stronger than mine and you want to give it a go, here are some tips, courtesy of, to keep you from chowing down too much while you’re creating that culinary masterpiece.

  • Brush your teeth right before to discourage mindless nibbling while cooking or baking. “You won’t be as tempted to sample foods when your breath tastes like peppermint”.
  • Eat a small snack, like a cup of yogurt, 20 minutes before you start cooking. This will send a signal to your brain that you’re already satisfied.
  • Make deals with yourself. “Recently I baked cookies with my nieces.  If we ate one scoop of dough, we allowed ourselves two baked cookies. If we ate two scoops of dough, we were allowed only one baked cookie.”
  • Wear bleaching strips on your teeth. “You won’t want or be able to nibble when your teeth are otherwise occupied”.

Thinking that a bite can’t really do that much damage?  Don’t be fooled.  Check out these stats:

  • Having two spoonfuls of chocolate-chip cookie dough: 64 calories, 3 grams of fat
  • Eating leftover pie scraps: 81 calories, 5 grams of fat
  • Licking whipped cream off the beaters: 52 calories, 5 grams of fat
  • Picking just one slice of cheese from the platter: 113 calories, 9 grams of fat
  • Grabbing a handful of mixed nuts from the bowl: 168 calories, 15 grams of fat

What I want to know is: what is like to be one of those people who doesn’t overeat during cooking?  Who can actually leave a bag of chocolate chips in the fridge for days without even giving it a second glance?  My friend Judi can do it.  I house-sit for her on occasion, and she always has peanut butter in the cupboard and chocolate chips in the fridge.  In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that she’s not a small gal; she struggles with her weight, too.  But, obviously, she’s not bingeing on cookie ingredients. 

I know there are people who can cook without making it their second lunch or their first dinner.  I’m just not one of them, unless I have a very specific purpose or timetable.  I can make stuff to bring to a party as long as I do it immediately prior to the party.  I can make stuff for a party I’m hosting, again, as long I do it right before.  Or, if I don’t really like what I’m making, I won’t munch on it.  It’s touch and go with the Yum Yum Brownie Muffins.  I like them but am usually able to avoid noshing, although I will sometimes eat the dough equivalent of one muffin when I’m preparing them for my BF.  And, very occasionally, I will eat one of them after they’re cooked.  For some reason, though, they aren’t a huge draw for me. 

It’s frustrating.  I truly want to be a better cook, and I want to make use of my down time, creating something wonderful that can be popped out of the freezer later and shared with loved ones.  It saddens me that my personality type or neuroses or whatever keep me from doing that.  I guess that it’s more important for me to know myself – and respect my weaknesses – than it is to berate myself for my flaws.  I am what I am.  Sometimes, though, I wish I wasn’t.

November 30, 2008 at 11:52 pm 2 comments

In this case, don’t embrace your inner child.

luckycharms2Did you know that 58% of kids’ cereals are eaten by adults over 18?  Well, so what, right?  Is that a bad thing?  

Yeah, actually it is.  A Consumer Reports survey of 27 cereals marketed to children found that 11 of them contain as much sugar in one serving as a glazed Dunkin’ Donut.  Most of us are aware that there’s basically nothing nutritionally redeeming about a donut, and we shun them indignantly.  But, here we are consuming the same amount of sugary goop in a different form.  Why?

I think it’s about indulging the little kid in all of us.  Whether it’s a longing for lost youth or a desire to enjoy formerly forbidden foods, these cereals somehow give us a happy, carefree feeling.

In my case, my sugar intake was severely restricted as a child.  My dad confiscated all of my Halloween candy after trick-or-treating, allowing me only one sweet and tossing the rest.  I could not have any “fun” cereal for breakfast, and I was forced to eat spinach until I gagged at dinner.  My dad had the right idea, but his technique backfired.  For instance, I was never allowed to eat Lucky Charms, and, as an adult, I stocked up on boxes and boxes of the faux marshmallow, crunchy stuff.  It took me a long time to overcome the “food trauma” of those early days and learn to truly like high quality, healthy foods.

Other kids didn’t go through that; instead they have fond memories of noshing on yummy-sweet cereals around the breakfast table, maybe flinging bits and bites across the table at their siblings.  For them, eating that food now takes them to a happy place; it takes them out of the stress of raising kids, dealing with finances, maintaining a home and gives them some respite.  It’s hard to begrudge that, but it’s not doing them any good in the long run.

So, how do you enjoy your morning meal while treating your body right, too?  When I’m craving a sweet and crunchy treat, I pour a cup of Kashi’s GO LEAN Crunch, in Honey Almond Flax and eat it dry.  A cup’ll set you back 200 calories while delivering 500mg Omega-3, 9g protein, 8g fiber, 15g of whole grains, and it tastes fantastic!  In fact, I sometimes have to watch myself to keep from eating the entire box.  The only upside to that is that, while I would have consumed WAY too many calories, it would at least be good stuff for my bod.

November 26, 2008 at 4:23 am Leave a comment

Summer Stinkers

It’s summertime, and the living is greasy… at least it is if you’re chowing down at your local carnival.  Anyone who thinks that carnival food is healthy obviously hasn’t been to one lately, but we still consistently underestimate how bad these fair foods are.

If you’re going to indulge, you may want to avoid these super bad actors:

  • Deep Fried Oreos – Yikes! Each cookies is 157 calories and 10.1 grams of fat.
  • Corn Dogs – At 375 calories and 21 grams of fat per dog, you could consider it a meal.
  • Deep Fried Twinkie – Without the sugar, preserves, or chocolate that generally accompanies one, it’s still 420 calories and 32 grams of fat.  Imagine the stats when you add those extras on?!
  • Snow Cone – Sounds harmless enough, right?  Just sugar and water.  Nope.  A 12-ounce cone has 550 calories!
  • Funnel Cake – It may not look like much on that paper plate, but the average funnel cake will set you back 760 calories and 44 grams of fat.  Jeepers!
  • Deep Fried Candy Bars – Anything deep fried is going to have a deeply disturbing calorie count, and at 700 calories and 44 grams of fat, this is unfortunately no exception.

Your best bet?  Cotton Candy, which has only 200 calories and no fat in each large cone.

July 4, 2008 at 7:24 pm 1 comment

Healthiest foods to pick up at the grocery store

Americans love lists, especially when we’re trying to get healthy.  The best types of exercise, the best exercise equipment, the best ways to stay on track, the best foods to eat.  Lists give us that structure we crave.  Sometimes, though, the lists can be overwhelming, particularly if they direct us to stuff that’s hard to find or overly expensive.

Never fear!  The NY Times has our back on this one.  They asked Dr. Johnny Bowden, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth“.  Here’s his list of of 11 best foods we can easily pick up at the grocery store.  The article provides details as to why these are nutritional stars and even gives suggestions on how to prepare them.

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Swiss Chard
  • Cinnamon
  • Pomegranate Juice
  • Dried Plums
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sardines
  • Turmeric
  • Frozen Blueberries
  • Canned Pumpkin

Regrettably, most of these are not in my shopping cart.  But, a couple are.

I almost always have canned pumpkin on hand because I use it to make Yum Yum Brownie Muffins, one of my BF’s faves.  I also have blueberries in the freezer in a mixed berry blend.  And, I have cinnamon, although not by itself.  It’s an ingredient in the Pumpkin Pie Spice I keep in the pantry.  I do, however, add cinnamon to my skinny latte at Starbucks

I have heard great things from Dr. Weill about Turmeric, who suggests drinking it in a tea, but I’ve never used it.  Pomegranate has gotten lots of terrific press recently, and I’ve just stared getting some in my diet through the Greens To Go powdered packets.

Looks like I need to make sure these items become regulars on my grocery list.

July 3, 2008 at 12:52 am Leave a comment

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