11-13-2013

Eat This, Not That

Yesterday, I was able to attend a nutrition seminar held at the college I work at. I almost didn’t go but am glad I did because there was a lot of great info, which I knew I wanted to share with my readers.

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The seminar was geared towards busy college students, and the goal was to show them what choices they have when eating out at places like McDonald’s, Applebee’s, etc. We all know what’s healthy and what’s not, but if you’re faced with a few not so healthy choices while out, would you know what to pick?

The nutritionist gave us 4 things to look out for when buying “fast-food” or dining out:

  1. Type of food
  2. Size of food
  3. Prep
  4. Accompaniments

Food Prep

I’m sure you know that grilled chicken is better than “crispy” chicken sandwiches (aka fried), but do you know how much the difference is?

A KFC grilled chicken sandwich isn’t too bad…250 calories

A KFC extra crispy chicken sandwich is…510 calories!

Still not TOO bad compared to the stuff I’ll talk about in a bit.

Accompaniments

This conversation started with mayo. I love mayo. My mom has been buying the olive oil Hellman’s recently in an attempt to get a “healthier” mayo. Well, guess what…it isn’t that much better! Mayo is made from soybean oil (the cheapest oil they can use) and the mayo that says “olive oil” actually only has a tiny, tiny bit of olive oil, and the rest is soybean oil. They basically put the minimum they can in it so that they can put “olive oil” on the label.

The good news is, she stated that, “unless you’re eating jars at a time, don’t worry about whether you get olive oil mayo, low-fat mayo, etc. They’re all basically the same.”

Next, let’s go through options for each meal of the day. Some of the stuff I will outline, you may already know, but it’s good information for those who may not know, and a good refresher for those who eat out!

Breakfast

The nutritionist said, “muffins are donuts for rich people.” They really have no nutritional value, even bran muffins, which you may think it does. You will eat it, and you will still be hungry, and that’s how your day goes downhill (eating wise).

Oatmeal > Muffins. A medium sized oatmeal is about 260 calories, and a bran muffin is 480 calories.

Next, ham > sausage. Always. Why? because it has less fat. Even 2 pieces of bacon is still better than sausage. An Egg McMuffin = 300 calories, and a Sausage McMuffin = 450 calories. She said that if you need to get breakfast while at a McDonald’s (obviously oatmeal is the best), the Egg McMuffin actually isn’t that bad.

SIDE NOTE: She told us that the Egg McMuffin has the ham on the top, and the Sausage McMuffin has the sausage on the bottom (of the egg) due to scientific research by McDonald’s about what the best way for the egg and meat to hit your tastebuds is. So weird…

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Okay, lastly, let’s talk about omelettes. I believe this is from Applebee’s, but a Simple and Fit Omelette is only 330 calories. Not bad at all. But if you get the regular spinach and mushroom omelette, it is……….910 calories! I couldn’t believe that. I have ordered omelettes many a time at diners, thinking it can’t be that bad because it’s just eggs and stuff. The killer is the cheese. That is what adds a ton of calories. Think about that next time you want to order an omelette!

Lunch

So you’re at Burger King..which do you choose? The Original Chicken Sandwich? Or the Double Hamburger?

If you’re like me, you may have thought the hamburger would be worse…but it’s actually half the calories of the chicken sandwich. 330 calories vs. 630.

Also, she talked about how fries really aren’t THAT bad if you get a small, and if you are really craving them. A small only has 230 calories. A large, however, has 500 calories.

Other great fast food options are:

  • oatmeal
  • fruit & yogurt parfait
  • side salad
  • fruit dippers
  • fruit
  • Wendy’s chili
  • Wendy’s baked potato (not loaded)

If you’re going to a deli for a sandwich, the top 3 deli meats are:

  • turkey
  • roast beef
  • ham

As she mentioned, “if you can see the fat, then don’t eat it,” referencing salami.

Snacks

“No 100 calorie snack pack will make you feel like you ate anything. You’ll just eat more snack packs.” Truth!

Here are some points she made on snacks:

  • Nuts are good in moderation
  • Lays will not fill your stomach, which is why you could eat a whole bag of them.
  • Nature Valley granola bars are a great option. But any granola bar that has chocolate or yogurty dip/base is not.
  • Fig newtons aren’t a bad snack option when in a pinch.

Keep a stash of these at home, at your desk, in your car if possible:

  • Crackers
  • Bars, such as Larabars which you can keep in your car for a while.
  • Peanut butter
  • Chobani
  • Hummus
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast. Not the best breakfast, but it’s something for on-the-go when you need it quick.

I love Larabars. They are all natural and have a lot of great flavors. I like having them when my sweet tooth strikes.

Dinner

“Healthy sells.” Restaurants know this. They know you want to eat healthy, but that doesn’t mean the dishes are, in fact, healthy.

Let’s say you go to Applebee’s and get a salad. They actually have a salad on their menu that is 1,200 calories!! That’s almost as much as some people need to eat in an entire day. And that’s a salad. Make sure to check the ingredients. If it contains cheese, it will most likely have a lot of calories, because restaurants load it up with cheese to make it taste better. This applies to any dish.

She suggested also getting a sirloin as opposed to a chicken dish if you’re dining out. A sirloin can be served plain with a side. When is grilled chicken ever served just plain? It usually has cheese, sauces, it’s breaded, fried, etc.

What about if you want Chinese food?

The Good

  • Dumplings if shell is thin
  • Egg drop soup
  • Sichuan dishes (less fat)

The Bad

  • Egg rolls
  • Spare ribs
  • General Tso (or any of those types of chicken)
  • Sweet n’ Sour Chicken
  • Lo Mein
  • Fried Rice

How can you make it better?

  • Skip the rice
  • Steamed veggies

Dessert

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know that Ben & Jerry’s is WAY higher in calories that normal ice cream. But it’s so good =(

A 1/2 cup of Eddy’s ice cream is 130 calories. A 1/2 cup of Ben & Jerry’s is 360 calories! And who eats only a half cup? I certainly don’t…

Here are some good dessert options if you have a sweet tooth like me:

  • Luigi’s Italian Ice
  • Klondike bars
  • Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Skinny Cow ice cream
  • Fudgesicles
  • Slim-A-Cow ice cream

So there you have it folks. A key thing I will remember when dining out is cheese! I actually wasn’t aware it was so high in saturated fat and calories.

Another key point to remember, that the nutritionist stated as well, as that eating things in moderation won’t kill you. Indulge if you want, just don’t eat the whole bag of chips or the whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Though I know that’s hard ;)

I thought her seminar was very informative, and feel like I can make better choices if I’m out at a Burger King (which is rare but sometimes my friends want to go), or out to dinner.

What did you find interesting about this seminar? Did you learn something new? 

What’s your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor? I love Half Baked!

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10-01-2013

Vegetarian Chili Recipe

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a video called “Meet Your Meat.” I knew I shouldn’t watch it but I did…and I won’t subject you to it by posting it here because it’s rather graphic, but you can google it if you want!

Anyway, the video inspired me to try to eat LESS meat each week. I don’t think I can ever be a full vegetarian, but I’m trying to do what I can. Which is how I found this recipe!

vegetarian chili recipe

Now that it’s fall, it’s the perfect weather for chili! You can make this in a crockpot too if you don’t buy your beans pre-cooked like I did. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com. Here are the ingredients and instructions, with my notes in bold.

Serves 4
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (I used a yellow onion)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped (I used pre-chopped garlic and put in 2 heaping teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (I didn’t have this available)
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, and tortilla chips, for serving (served with rice and tortilla chips, didn’t have sour cream, scallions, or radishes)

Directions

  1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato, and 1 cup water.
  2. Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours  or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
  3. Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, radishes, and tortilla chips.

*I obviously didn’t use a slow cooker, so here’s how I did it, in case you don’t have a slow cooker.

1) Saute your onions.

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2) Add in the chopped green peppers.

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3) Add in the rest of the ingredients (cinnamon, cocoa, garlic, chili powder, beans). Also add in sliced sweet potato (not shown).

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4) Add in chopped tomatoes. I also added in a bit of Bertoli pasta sauce. Lastly, add in 1 cup of water.

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5) Let simmer on low for 30-60 minutes depending on how you like the consistency of your chili (or how long it takes for the sweet potatoes to get tender).

*Enjoy!*

My family loved this dinner…it was delicious! A great way to get in protein by going meatless, and a good amount of fiber too. Feel free to add any other ingredients you would like in your chili, and let me know what they are so I can try it too!

Do you like chili in the fall?

Do you use a crockpot or slow cooker? What are your favorite recipes for it? I need ideas!

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03-22-2013

Taco Salad Recipe

Taco salad is my new favorite recipe. During Whole30, I have eaten it multiple times for dinner and lunch. It is so good!

Also, it is so easy and quick to make. Here’s what I used for 4 people:

Ingredients:

1 pack of natural ground turkey or chicken OR buy chicken and make it into ground chicken yourself

Lettuce (I use mixed greens)

1/2 avocado per person (My family usually each does this on their own because my sister and brother hate avocados)

Natural salsa

Side: sweet potato

Directions:

1) Saute onions first, add in ground poultry once the onions are browned. Add in garlic and spices if you want as well. I use basil and oregano.

2) Add in chopped tomatoes to give the meat a little bit of juice. Simmer for 5-10 minutes

3) Add the meat onto a bed of lettuce (and I add in olive oil and balsamic vinegar).

4) Cut up avocado and add in along with 2 tablespoons of salsa.

Done!

Let me know if you end up trying this. I love it!

03-05-2013

Spaghetti Squash Chicken “Alfredo”

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This dinner was delicious! I got the inspiration from Tasty Kitchen but modified a lot of it.

This was my first “Whole30″ dinner of the week. My mom and I planned out all of our meals for the next few days and it’s hanging on our fridge. Who would have thought this would make eating healthier so much easier than just winging it! Common sense, I know…but I had never thought to do this!

Anyway, here is how I made this great, healthy dish:

1. Cut up chicken breast and cook in a pan. I used coconut oil to grease the pan. Add spices. I used garlic, thyme, basil and pepper.

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2. Cut up your veggies while the chicken cooks, then add to the chicken mix and cook on low. I used broccoli, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes.

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3. I had to move the chicken and veggies to a pot because it got too crowded. I poured 1 can of coconut milk into the previous pan so it would soak up the leftover spices. I let it simmer on low for 5 minutes, then added to the pot with the chicken and veggies. Let it simmer again for 5-10 minutes on low.

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4. Now it’s ready to serve over spaghetti squash! Enjoy!

Ingredient list (serves 4-5)

  • 1 package of chicken breast
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • basil
  • thyme
  • 1/2 a packed of diced mushrooms
  • 1 package of cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash

Please let me know if you try this out!

02-26-2013

Beef & Veggie Stir Fry

IMG_3775This was a totally spur of the moment meal. I needed to make something that was “Whole30 compliant” so I figured I could do a stir fry with a bunch of veggies I had in the fridge. Here are my ingredients (minus the radishes I didn’t end up using):

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I put the beef in the pot first and browned it. Then I added in the mushrooms:

IMG_3773After that, I added in the crushed tomatoes, garlic, celery, and sweet peppers. I let those simmer for a while before adding in the broccoli last. IMG_3774

I used crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce because of all the added ingredients found in tomato sauce. I definitely plan on making some homemade tomato sauce this weekend!

This whole process probably took me 30-40 minutes. So easy! Here’s the full recipe/steps (which served 4 people):

Ingredients:

2 packets of beef squares

8-9 sweet peppers

1 stalk of celery

1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

1 container of crushed tomatoes

1 head of broccoli

1 pack of chopped mushrooms

Steps:

1) Brown the beef. When it is basically almost done, add in the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms cook/simmer for a few minutes. Add garlic and stir.

2) Add crushed tomatoes, peppers, and celery. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

3) Add broccoli. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes (until broccoli is cooked to your liking) before serving.

Enjoy!

Feel free to let me know if you try this!

What are your favorite quick-and-easy dinner recipes?