June 16, 2024

Dining out? Always do this before you go…

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Research your options!

Planning ahead is key to a healthy lifestyle, and that means be informed. If you’re heading out to eat, one easy action sets you up for a healthy meal success. Seeking out information ahead of time takes the guess-work out of making nutritious food choices. So how do you do it?

Look up the menu online. Look up the menu online ahead of time to plan for a healthy meal. Firstly, you won’t get caught up in making a fast, pressured decision. Secondly, you won’t be distracted by others choices. Finally, you won’t be swayed by spontaneous cravings.






Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain is as Easy as 1, 2, 3! By Laura Maydak

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but, unfortunately, busy schedules and holiday festivities can lead to some not-so-merry weight gain.  It may seem challenging to enjoy all that this season has to offer without gaining weight, but it is doable.  Avoiding holiday weight gain can be as simple as remembering, and applying, these three concepts: Be prepared, remain aware, and when in doubt, workout.  Not convinced it’s as simple as it sounds?  Read on, and then see what you think:

Be Prepared
Problem 1: You’re out shopping when your stomach begins to growl.  You planned to be home in time to eat, but the long checkout line, the crowded parking lot, and the bumper-to-bumper traffic between the store and your home are making that impossible.

Solution: Bring a healthy, portable snack with you no matter where you go (even if it’s just a “10 minute errand”).  Try something simple, like a piece of fruit or a few heart-healthy nuts.

Problem 2: There’s a party later this evening, and you decide to skip lunch and your afternoon snack to “save” calories.  Now it’s party time, and you’re starving – but the food there is not what you would consider healthy.

Solution: Keep your regular eating schedule, but choose lighter options for each meal.  Also, eat a high-protein snack before the party to help keep you full while there.  These strategies will reduce the risk of overindulging on unhealthy party foods.

Remain Aware
“Little tastes” of food can quickly add up to more calories than you would expect.  This is true for when you are at home or at a party.

Here are the calorie counts of some common holiday treats:
- Eggnog (1 cup): 112 calories
- Wine (5 fl. oz.): 120 calories
- Cheddar cheese (1 oz): 113 calories
- Sugar cookie (1): 120 calories
- Candy cane (1): 40 calories
- Chocolate chips (1 tbsp): 70 calories
- Mixed nuts (1 oz): 168 calories
- Cinnamon roll with icing (1): 140 calories
- Piglet in blanket (1): 60 calories

When in doubt, WORKOUT:
While the holidays are joyful, they can also be stressful.  Do yourself a favor, and make time each day to engage in physical activity.  You don’t have to go for a run (even though that would be an excellent idea), but you should do your best to move as much as possible.  Even parking farther from the store, or taking the stairs instead of the escalator while shopping, will help.  Exercise is a proven stress-buster, and it will help to balance out any extra calories you may be eating.

Have a happy (& healthy) holiday season!

Laura is currently a graduate student in the University of Pittsburgh’s Coordinated Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics program, one semester away from being eligible to become a registered dietitian.  Connect with Laura on LinkedIn or on twitter (@lmaydak) for motivation and tips to live your healthiest, happiest life – all given with a healthy dose of humor.

Blueberrry Biscuits by Shirley Plant

Looking for an energizing snack to fuel your daily activities? Try this easy recipe. Simple to make ahead of time and have on hand for a convenient and healthful treat during your day!


Blueberry Biscuits

3 cups almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
zest of 1 lemon
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp honey
2 eggs
¾ cup blueberries

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk eggs, lemon juice and honey. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in blueberries. Drop large spoonfuls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake 325F for 15-20 minutes.

Recipe by Shirley Plant- Nutrition Coach and Author of Finally Food I Can Eat. Click here for more information on Shirley’s 21 day challenge,
and check out her website via www.deliciousalternatives.com. Follow her on Twitter via @sherrecipes

Is Your Smoothie Nutritious? by Laura Maydak

How to Make a Nutritionally Balanced Smoothie

Smoothies are delicious, fast, and nutritious meals on the go – when made correctly.  It’s important to remember that meals, whether served on a plate or in a glass, should be nutritionally balanced.  So, while an all-fruit smoothie may make your taste buds happy, the lack of protein and fat will leave your stomach unsatisfied.

Luckily, making a nutritionally balanced smoothie is simple – just follow these six steps, and you’ll have a healthy and satisfying meal on the go:

1. Choose a Base (1 – 2 cups):
100% Fruit juice, almond milk, brewed tea, coconut water, milk, rice beverage, soy milk, water

2. Choose a Fruit (1 – 2 cups):
Apple, banana, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, kiwi, mango, melon, oranges, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries

3. Choose a Vegetable (1 – 2 cups):
Beet greens, butternut squash, carrots, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, kale, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato

4. Choose a Protein (Amount varies):
Cottage cheese, greek yogurt, protein powder, silken tofu

5. Choose a Healthy Fat (Amount varies):
Avocado (¼ avocado), chia seeds (1–2 Tbsp), chopped nuts (1/8 cup), ground flax seeds (1–2 Tbsp), hemp seeds (1–2 Tbsp), nut butter (1 Tbsp)

6. Give it a Boost (Amount varies):
Cocoa powder, fish oil, flavor extracts (vanilla, almond, mint, etc), herbs and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, etc.), ice, wheat germ

Extra Tips:
- If you’re making a post-workout smoothie, aim for a ratio of 3:1 to 4:1 carbohydrates to protein – this is optimal for recovery.
- If you use frozen fruit, purchase varieties with no added sugar.

- Be aware of the fat content of your liquid base and protein – try to choose low fat or no fat varieties.
- You can adjust the consistency of the smoothie by adding more liquid or using less dense fruits and vegetables.

Be creative!  This formula guarantees a nutritionally balanced smoothie – so throw your taste buds some (delicious) curve balls!

Laura is currently a graduate student in the University of Pittsburgh’s Coordinated Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics program on her way to become a registered dietitian.  Connect with Laura on LinkedIn or on twitter (@lmaydak) for motivation and tips to live your healthiest, happiest life – all given with a healthy dose of humor.

Artichoke Dip by Shirley Plant

Artichoke Dip

1 can ( 398ml) artichoke hearts in water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
Handful fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
Daiya Mozzarella Cheese Shreds

Drain and rinse artichokes. Put all ingredients except cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Put mixture in an oven proof dish and sprinkle cheese on top. Place under the broiler for a few minutes to melt cheese and warm up the dip. Serve with vegetables or (gluten- free) crackers.

Recipe by Shirley Plant- Nutrition Coach and Author of Finally Food I Can Eat
www.deliciousalternatives.com. Follow her on Twitter via @sherrecipes

Strawberry Banana Smoothie by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Strawberry Banana Almond Butter Smoothie

Enjoy the taste of this refreshing smoothie along with it’s many health benefits.

Strawberries have a high content of Vitamin C which helps ward off cancer and heart disease. They also contain folate which has been associated with reducing the risk of birth defects. Almond Butter is rich in protein and monounsaturated fat. This “good” fat decreases cholesterol levels and provides an added punch to help fight cardiovascular disease. In addition, this all natural smoothie stabilizes blood sugar levels and thus satisfies the appetite.

1 serving
In a blender add…

1 frozen banana
1 c frozen strawberries
1/2 c crushed ice
3/4 c almond milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon almond butter
1/2 teaspoon flax meal

Blend and enjoy the benefits of fueling your body healthy!

Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti. For more information and recipes, go to www.pronutritionconsulting.com

Kids and Vegetables: A New Strategy by Kristen Yarker

Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables: One Simple (and Often Overlooked) Strategy

Do you want to know one simple, effective strategy that many busy parents miss when trying to get their kids to eat more vegetables?

Many kids, especially picky eaters, don’t like to eat vegetables. But we know that kids need the nutrients from vegetables for their healthy growth and development. As a result, parents exhaust themselves negotiating how many bites must be eaten. Or, they stay up late pureeing vegetables to hide in other foods. While these strategies may get a few more bites of vegetables into kids, it turns meals into battles and covert ops. And, it doesn’t teach kids to choose to eat veggies. However, there is a non-sneaky way to get kids to try more and eat more vegetables.

The often-overlooked resource that many parents miss is…snacks.

You’re likely already providing at least two snacks for your child each day. But often, snacks are times when favorite foods (i.e. foods other than vegetables) are provided.

Traditionally, vegetables are served at meals (particularly dinner.) Instead, treat all meals and snacks as equals. Include vegetables at as many snacks as possible. The more times that you present a food, the more likely your child will eat it. Studies show that you need to present a food more than 10 times before a child will eat it, but it varies from food-to-food and child-to-child. By increasing the number of times a day that your child sees vegetables, he/she will become more accustomed to seeing them, and will eat more.

Kristen Yarker is known as The Dietitian Who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food Confident Kids. From introducing solids through the picky eating years, she helps Moms and Dads be confident that they’re giving their kids good nutrition today… and instilling a life-long LOVE of healthy eating. Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!) by signing up for her 101 Healthy Snack Ideas at: vitaminkconsulting.com

Stick to your Healthy Lifestyle by Helen Agresti, R.D.

How to stick with your Healthy Lifestyle


Focus your attention in 3 major areas:


1. Work your body!  Schedule 3-5 days of exercise each week.  If you typically hit a plateau or experience boredom a month or two into the New Year, the next few tips will serve you well.

Instead of a mid-week rest day, add in a stretching or yoga class to your routine.  Keep your fitness momentum going while also allowing sufficient rest and recovery for your muscles. Consider including restorative-type exercise into your routine.

Try something new.  Whether it’s a personal training session or a spin class, surprise your body and metabolism with a completely different type of workout.

Be accountable.  Pair up with a friend or family member.  Studies have shown that we are more apt to stick to our workout routines if we have a set time and place to meet someone.  Having a workout buddy to lift your spirits on those days you don’t feel like exercising is an essential motivator.

2. Prepare ahead for the mid-day slump.  Pack wisely for those times of the day when your healthy eating habits are challenged (typically between 3pm and 5pm.) Have a healthy snack packed for that time of the day when you feel like attacking the nearest vending machine or MacDonald’s drive-thru.  Cheese and crackers, sugar snap peas and hummus, and lightly salted pistachios are healthy mid-day snacks and travel well.

3. Reach for the fabulous 5.  Five servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day will keep you looking younger and feeling more energized.  The beauty of theses colorful super foods is that they rotate their deliciousness throughout the 4 seasons.  Take advantage of their power packed nutrients by spreading 5 or more servings among breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  Make this nutrition goal for yourself and your family: try one new fruit or vegetable every week by incorporating it into a meal or snack.

Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti and on the web www.pronutritionconsulting.com

Is Calorie-Counting For You? By Danielle Prestejohn

For a very long time I was convinced the answer to my weight loss would come down to math. If I could just figure out the perfect amount of calories to eat then I could finally lose weight for good. Problem with this was I got a bit carried away and dipped into some dangerously low calorie counts in the process. When I started to learn that my weight or life for that matter, wasn’t all about the number of calories I consumed I started to get a little less strict.

Eventually I gave up calorie counting all together but in the process I came across a minor hiccup; I knew how many calories were in just about everything. Even now I can easily rattle on the calorie contents of dozens of foods. It seems to be something I retained and have never forgotten. As you can imagine this made taking a blind eye to how many calories I was consuming rather difficult. In the process I developed some strategies to help me get away from the structure of my calorie counting diet and they have brought me tons of success in moving away from such a rigid diet.

Eat out. This was one of the scariest things for me but eating out helped me immensely because I learned to give up the control of my food. Someone else was preparing what I was eating and I had no clue how many calories I was consuming. Was it frightening? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Totally.

Cook. During the deepest of my dieting days I would rely on packaged foods that had a definite number of calories. Things like bars, shakes, and frozen dinners were perfect because they had an exact number of calories. No thinking included. When I started cooking this all became a little less obvious. Sure I knew how many calories were in a piece of chicken, but when I added peppers, spinach, and unknown amount of oil, I had no idea how many calories I was getting. This brings me to my next point…

Don’t weigh or measure a thing. For a very long time my food scale was my best friend. When I threw mine away I took away the knowledge of just how much I was eating. Suddenly I was estimating portions and slowly forgetting what exactly 4 ounces of chicken or a tablespoon of peanut butter looked like.

Cook in batches. I started experimenting with things like soups, stews, and chili because I could throw a ton of ingredients in a bowl, mix it up, and take out a portion without knowing exactly how much of anything was in that meal. I was really hesitant about this one but this ended up being one of the secrets to learning how to listen to my hunger cues again.

This article is written by Danielle Prestejohn, M.S. Applied Nutrition. Sign up for Danielle’s free guide to ditching the diets and ditching the misery via http://danielleprestejohn.com/free-updates/ For more information go to http://www.danielleprestejohn.com and http://www.Facebook.com/daniellegracep

Worst Weight Loss Advice by Danielle Prestejohn

Admit it, at some point in time we’ve all fallen suspect to the lure of some fabulous new diet or weight loss tip. Maybe it was to stop snacking at night, eating mini meals, or swapping half of your grains for vegetables. Regardless of whether they’ve worked, you’ve likely tried or at least thought about it. Let’s be honest some of these tips actually work wonders, and others not so much.

Here is a collection of some of what I consider to be the world’s worst weight loss advice. Dieters Beware!  

Low fat diets. Luckily we are slowly moving away from this trend. Eat a diet low in fat and you will be hungry, cranky, and likely not absorbing key vitamins you need to thrive. Fat does not make us fat; instead it protects our major organs, absorbs certain vitamins, and helps our bodies to function. Worst of all are the “health” foods geared at dieters that are far from healthy. Beware of fat free cookies, candy, and snack foods. It’s not healthy and will not lead to weight loss, even if it’s low fat.

100 calorie packs. Limiting your food to 100 calories does not make it a weight loss food. Packaged, processed, and packed full of not so good for you ingredients, 100-calorie packs are simply a marketing gimmick for dieters. You will not lose weight snacking on these. Most are high in carbohydrates and devoid of fats and protein meaning you will burn them off quickly and be hungry again in 20 minutes. Eating 3-100 calorie packs does not equal a healthy snack.

No carb diets. I say no carb as opposed to low carb. Some people thrive on a lower carbohydrate diet that is still full of fruits and vegetables and that is fine. What are not okay are diets that promote an extremely low number of carbohydrates, we’re talking less than 60 grams. This is a quick way to lose energy fast, and put your body into ketosis, which can potentially do some serious damage to your kidneys. The only reason people see initial success with low carb diets is because they lose water weight. Carbohydrates store water in our bodies while fats and protein do not. This means the second you start eating carbohydrates again; your weight will come back.

Skipping meals. Skipping meals is not an effective way to lose weight. You will slow your metabolism and end up hungrier in the long run, likely eating more at your next meal.

Very low calorie diets. I’m not talking about Very Low Calorie Diets, which are considered to be diets consisting of 800 calories or less, are monitored by medical professionals and are designed for those who are obese with serious health problems. I’m talking about the diets that dip below 1200 calories a day. These diets are not only incredibly difficult to follow, but they are also unsafe. Follow a really low calorie diet and you can expect the not so pleasant side effects of low energy, fatigue, a slowed metabolism, potential heart problems, and dehydration.

This article is written by Danielle Prestejohn, M.S. applied nutrition. Sign up for Danielle’s free guide to ditching the diets and ditching the misery via http://danielleprestejohn.com/free-updates/.  For more information go to http://www.danielleprestejohn.com and http://www.Facebook.com/daniellegracep.