Saturday, April 25, 2009

Never Too Early

It seems there is a common theme to my thoughts on kids and nutrition: It's Never Too Early. It is interesting that research on food habits and moral teaching have almost the same time frame. The most effective teaching is EARLY!!

All of you who read this blog can smile and feel a great pride in your heart that this is important to you. You are on the RIGHT TRACK. You are great moms and are giving your kids such an advantage and a lifelong blessing of good health and fitness.

This is the research: Adults influence the development of children’s healthy habits beginning in their earliest years, from the variety of foods they try, to ideas about to how to keep their bodies active and healthy.

By the time a child is between two and four years old, their eating habits are largely shaped. If they reach the age of five without learning about healthy eating, the chances of her developing poor nutritional habits and attitudes are significantly increased.

Amazingly, this may be the first generation that may actually have a shorter lifespan than their parents, all due to issues around obesity or facts about nutrition and the amount of physical activity.

Fortunately, there’s a window of opportunity during a child’s preschool years in which thier early social environment can impact the development of healthy habits. Research shows that through repeated exposure and with the help of positive role models, preschoolers can learn to like wholesome foods and can develop good dietary practices.

So there you have it! Keep up the good work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

BMR Follow-up

Okay - now that you've figured out your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), now what? You need to decide how many calories you want to cut and how many calories you want to burn through exercise. A few rules of thumb to guide your decisions:

1) ABSOLUTELY NEVER drop below 1200 calories a day.
2) Try to not drop below your BMR each day in your calorie intake. Instead, burn the extra calories through exercise and weight training.
3) Create an exercise plan that works for your lifestyle. Include both cardio and strength training and make sure you exercise AT LEAST 30 minutes a day (though 60 minutes is preferable for maximum results).
4) Start a food journal to track what you eat. You can find some online journal-type sites that will track your calorie intake for you OR you can just buy a small notebook and record everything you eat and start to keep track that way.
5) Go back to our rule from one of the first Mommy 15 posts -- look at where you are now and slowly cut out 250 calories a day from what you are eating (up until you reach your BMR calorie needs, then focus on exercise) and 250 through exercise. Once again, ONCE YOU REACH YOUR BMR IN CALORIE INTAKE, FOCUS ON LOSING WEIGHT THROUGH EXERCISE. If you do more than a 30-minute workout, you may need to add in a few calories to give your body enough energy via calories to keep up with the demands you are placing on it.
6) ABOVE ALL - Listen to your body! Track what you are eating and note how you are feeling from week to week. If you are getting the calories you need but still feel sluggish, consider the foods you are choosing to make up your daily calorie intake. Go back to the Food Guide Pyramid and see where you are slacking in the basic foods you need to function at maximum efficiency.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Got Milk?

I don't know if my post title is breaking copyright laws or something, but I found some information on milk that I wanted to pass along to you.

You may have heard that milk actually contributes to weight loss. Well, I think I may have found some sound reasoning as to why that is. The following is an excerpt from an article on fluids and weight loss at

Milk is important because milk is a "floo-id" which means that it is treated like a food (rather than a fluid) when you drink it and it is satiating. For this reason, milk has a special role to play in your weight management efforts. Milk also promotes bone health and it is important for lowering blood pressure.

We live in a country where people do not drink enough milk. Yet, because of advances in medicine and pharmacology, we are living longer and longer. That is why more and more people above the age of 60 have poor bone health and nearly all women (and many men) have osteoporosis in their last decade of life. To make matters worse, when people diet, they tend to drink even less milk.

A large, very important study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing how important it is to consume 3 servings of milk and other dairy products each day in addition to a diet rich in grains, fruits and vegetables.2 Such a diet was successful in lowering blood pressure in both normal people and in people who are prone to high blood pressure (which is most of us as we grow older). This type of dairy-rich diet also lowers blood pressure in people taking medication for high blood pressure, a finding that took researchers by surprise.

So - if your body recognizes and processes milk as a "food" instead of an empty fluid, you will feel full longer; it becomes a filling food instead of a liquid that simply passes through your body, leaving nothing but the added calories behind. Plus all that other good calcium-boosting information like strong bones and things. Minor benefit, right? ;-D

HOWEVER, the trick is in making smart choices with your dairy products. The basic rule, whether pregnant, breast-feeding, dieting, or just maintaining your weight as you are, is to drink LOW and NON-FAT milk and choose LOW and NON-FAT DAIRY products. (which I thought was a FANTASTIC site that I never knew existed until yesterday) used cream as an example to show how higher-fat creams (and milk would be included in that) pack on the calories.

For weight management, the big issue is not to eliminate dairy, but to eliminate the fat in dairy - because fat is where the calories are. Cream is really over the top, even light cream is 29 calories per tablespoon. Here are the facts:

  • Light cream is 464 calories per cup
  • Medium cream is 592 calories per cup
  • Heavy cream is a whopping 832 calories per cup (!)

Compared to those numbers, when you consider that skim milk is a mere 85 calories per cup, you realize how extravagant cream really is. Besides the calories, cream is loaded with saturated fat. All that fat is not good for your heart. Who needs cream in the 21st century when almost none of us are physically active on a regular basis? We say, skip it -- unless it is a really special occasion, like a birthday or a holiday, in which case, even we may indulge a little.

Adding dairy to breakfast, lunch, and dinner will give you your "three a day" that your body needs. If you are breastfeeding, you need five a day, so be sure (wherever possible) to cut out the fat. It adds up a lot faster than you think.

Take cheese, for example. A regular piece of cheese has about 110 calories and 9 grams of fat PER ONE OUNCE serving. ONE ounce. Low-fat cheese brings you down the scale to about 80 calories and six grams of fat PER ONE OUNCE SERVING. Fat-free -- well, I've never actually seen fat-free cheese in our grocery stores here, but I have seen what they call "light" mozarella cheesesticks, and those have 50 calories and 2.5 grams of fat PER ONE OUNCE serving.

Milk is very similar. 2% milk has 122 calories and 5 grams of fat PER ONE CUP serving. 1% milk brings you down to 102 calories and 2 grams of fat PER ONE CUP serving. Skim milk brings you down to 83 calories and no fat PER ONE CUP SERVING.

Let's look at yogurt, another popular dairy fill-in. Plain whole yogurt has 149 calories and 8 grams of fat PER ONE CUP serving. Plain, low-fat yogurt has 154 calories and 4 grams of fat PER ONE CUP serving. Plain, fat-free yogurt has 137 calories PER ONE CUP serving.

So - let's add it all up. Choosing low-fat over regular (one milk, one cheese, and one yogurt a day) gives you 336 calories and 12 grams of fat instead of 381 calories and 22 grams of fat. Skim and non-fat products bring you down to 270 calories and 2.5 grams of fat (in the cheese, since we don't have non-fat in my area). That's 120 calories and almost 20 grams of fat if you switch from regular to skim/non-fat! WOW!!! The fat difference alone makes my arteries feel a little less cluttered just from reading all of this great information!

How do you switch? One day at a time! Try cutting back for a month, even, if you need more time. Slowly switch out your regular for low-fat and then your low-fat for non-fat. In the long run, it will help you in more ways than you think. Just one more tid-bit from

A large, very important study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing how important it is to consume 3 servings of milk and other dairy products each day in addition to a diet rich in grains, fruits and vegetables.2 Such a diet was successful in lowering blood pressure in both normal people and in people who are prone to high blood pressure (which is most of us as we grow older). This type of dairy-rich diet also lowers blood pressure in people taking medication for high blood pressure, a finding that took researchers by surprise.

They don't say it here, but I don't imagine those people in the study were consuming the extra 20 grams of fat a day and getting those kinds of amazing reductions in their blood pressure, do you? Hmmm . . . . food for thought.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What is YOUR Metabolic Rate?

Okay -- so I have been reading up a lot this last week on METABOLISM!!! Why? Well, cuz I'm kind of a dummy when it comes to all of these health terms I hear all the time and wanted to know what it is all about -- since it IS what everyone talks about when they are talking about weight loss. Then I thought maybe YOU all might want to know something about it as well, and maybe I even found something that you may have wondered about.

For this first post, let me just say that metabolism is essentially the rate at which your body processes and uses food (calories). Pretty simple, right? So if they say you have a slower metabolism, what they mean is that your body doesn't need as much food (as many calories) to sustain itself as the "average" (whatever THAT means) person. If you have a faster metabolism, then you need a few extra calories to meet your body's needs.

So, if you want to lose weight (or keep yourself from gaining weight as you get older, since your metabolism slows about 5% a decade after age 40) - you need to KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES YOUR BODY NEEDS TO SUSTAIN ITSELF. This is your METABOLIC RATE - how many calories you burn without doing ANYTHING at all. That's right -- if you were to just lay around all day long or sleep all day long (yeah. right. MOMS!!!!), the number of calories you would use for that is your BASAL METABOLIC RATE.

Once you figure out what your BASAL METABOLIC RATE is, you can look at how you need to tweak it in order to LOSE weight or MAINTAIN your weight if you are getting a little older or find yourself less "active" (which is ironic and nearly impossible for moms, right?).

So, I have looked at quite a few different calculators online and gotten a few different results. There are two basic formulas used to calculate your metabolic rate, though the one that is presumed to be the most accurate is the Mifflin-St Jeor equation (which is more reliable than the Harris-Benedict equation, or so "they" say).

Here is the formula. Grab a pen/pencil and paper and a calculator and figure out what YOUR METABOLIC RATE is:

1) Take your weight in pounds, divide it by 2.2 and multiply that number by 9.99.
2) Take your height in inches, multiply it by 2.54 and multiply that number by 6.25.
3) Multiply your age by 4.92.
4) If you are female, add the answer for number one and the answer for number two, subtract the answer for number three and subtract 161. TADA!!! There you have it!
If you are male, add the answer for number one and the answer for number two, subtract the answer for number three and add five. TADA!!!! You're set!

My next post will be about what to do with your metabolic rate once you know it. But for today -- just have fun figuring out what it is and feeling just a tad bit smarter the next time you hear people throw around tidbits about metabolism and metabolic rate! And I'm going to go back to using my babies' naptime to figure out a few more things I can share with you to make sure you ARE just a little bit smarter and more confident about how YOUR body works!


1/2 pound whole-wheat spaghetti (cooked)
3 cups (about 1 pound) cubed cooked, skinless turkey breast
2 (10 3/4) cans reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted

1) Combine turkey, soup, cheese, garlic powder, cumin, and pepper in saucepan. Cook over medium heat until well-heated. Add spaghetti noodles and mix well.

2) Spray 7x11 inch baking dish with non-stick spray (or use a 2-quart baking dish - like Pyrex) and put mixture in it.

3) Combine bread crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl; sprinkle over spaghetti mixture.

4) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place casserole in it. Bake until the top is golden, 20-25 minutes.

Serves 8.

Note: Serve with steamed green beans or broccoli! Mmmmmm!

Nutrition per serving (1 cup): 261 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g fiber, 22 g protein

Warm Chocolate-Pudding Cake

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 Tbl. unsalted butter (melted)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 2/3 cup boiling water

1) Combine flour, granulated sugar, 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Sift together. Make a well in the mix and pour in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir just until blended.

2) Spray 9x9 inch pan and pour batter into bottom.

3) Combine brown sugar and additional 1/4 cup cocoa powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Slowly pour bowling water in a zig-zag pattern over the top (do not stir).

4) Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until pudding is set (about 35 minutes). Allow to cool (on a rack) for about 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 9.

Extra tip: Serve with sugar-free vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt on top! It will be a HIT!

Nutrition per serving (without Ice Cream): 165 calories, 2 g fat, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stay Tuned

We've had some computer problems and are sharing a computer right now; and my husband has been gone a lot to work and school lately. HOWEVER, I have some great information I am excited to share and a FABULOUS recipe for this week. So I am hoping to get some computer time tomorrow to update this week's blog.

BUT -- even with this delay in information, articles, recipe, etc. this week, there is still a LOT to be implementing -- drinking enough water every day (remember, one to two glasses before every meal, snack, etc.); tracking what you eat on a daily basis and figuring out where you need to go next; going to the Food Guide Pyramid to figure out what the nutrition needs are FOR EACH MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY; trying new workouts out and figuring out what ENERGIZES and WORKS FOR YOU on the days that you can't get out and ride a bike or go for a walk/run with your friends, spouse, children, etc.

SO -- review where you are with the basics and STAY TUNED. We're still here, and we have some exciting additions that we will hopefully have in place next week with the WEEKLY MENU at our new site

Happy, healthy LIVING!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Incredible Egg...

Eggs. They are everywhere this time of year, so what's so great about them? I logged onto for the best answers. Sponsored by the American Egg Board, this site has all you ever needed to know.

1. Eggs have a high portion of nutrients to calories making it a naturally dense food.

2. Eggs have two nutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin) in small amounts which contribute to eye health and help prevent common causes of age related blindness.

3. Eggs provide the highest quality protein found in any food because they provide all the essential amino acids our bodies need in a near perfect pattern.

4. Egg yolks provide nearly 1/2 of the protein in an egg.

5. the high quality protein in eggs helps you feel full longer and stay energized which contribute to maintaining a healthy weight.

6. Eggs are an essential source of Choline, an essential nutrient that contributes to fetal brain development and helps prevent birth defects.

--for more information, and maybe a great family research project, visit the website and see what else you can learn about the incredible edible egg!

One final thought:
Celebrating the Easter holiday the old-fashioned way:

So, it is the day before Easter, and there are so many things going on in your life. If you have kids (or even if you don't) there is also probably candy floating around your house. So how do you try to keep the candy intake in check both for you and your kids?

One idea that I have had recently is to NOT buy filler eggs. Instead my family is focusing on spending quality time together and dyeing eggs instead. It is a great way to get your family together, and after the egg hunt there is no reason to not let your children (or yourself) indulge in a hard-boiled egg.

Just think, when your parents or grandparents were young, filler eggs didn't exist, so it can't be too bad to revert back to this old time tradition. By doing so you will not only raise a healthier family, but you will also save your pocketbook.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oh the weather outside is frightfull...

Well, it's no secret that spring is in the air, but everyday is not picture perfect. Although most of us would enjoy being out side to exercise, either running, walking, or bike riding, sometimes mother nature just doesn't agree. It is in these moments that we make the vital decision...exercise or don't exercise? As easy as it is to tell yourself that the weather was yucky, so you COULDN'T exercise, it is much better to plan ahead and have an alternative.

For me, this alternative is 20-60 min. of quality time with my TV and DVD player...I live in SE Idaho, someplace where it is cold more than it is warm, so I had to have something, especially after giving birth, and my '6-week' recovery placed me in the middle of fall, which was more winter than summer.

My first encounter with a workout video was from my sister-in-law. She let me borrow her step, and Kathy Smith Basic Step Work-Out---this workout is AMAZING! It quickly gets your heart pumping, and your muscles burning. You are using a step, so it works your lower body, similar to climbing stairs, but at the same time Kathy also works your upper body by adding arm movements. There are different levels so you can keep going, or your body might be done for the day, either way, by the time you decided to be done, you have given yourself a great workout, and are ready for her cool down, weights, and abs sections-or you can just be done ;). I fell in love with the concept of the step so much that I bought my own and called it Christmas. I then went to work to find other videos so I could have variety in my work-outs...

Although Kathy Smith has her annoying traits, I knew right away that she knew her stuff, and knew how to give a productive workout, AND I enjoyed working out with her in my living room. I started here, my search still isn't over. I keep looking for something else to add variety, or another trainer that I like and enjoy working with, but for this post, I am focusing on Kathy and a few of her videos that keeps me moving.

There are so many Kathy work outs that I was really lost at first trying to find the ones that would help me get to where I wanted to be--back in shape, back to healthy. I recommend trainers websites (they usually have them separated into categories according to goals), amazon, youtube, and Netflix to anyone trying to find those perfect workouts to keep you motivated, and not get tired. Amazon has great reviews to let you know what others think of the video, youtube might just have a snip from the video, and Netflix will allow you to view and participate in a work-out with out financially committing.

To end, I am going to review a Kathy Smith DVD that I think is a perfect addition to any current workout program. Kathy Smith--Lift weights to Lose Weight. This is now offered in a 2-disk pack and includes 7 work-outs to compliment your cardio training. 2-uppper (20 min each), 2-lower (20 min each), 2-abs (10 min each), and one stability ball workout (20 min)--(I haven't done this one). This gives you disks that you can pop in after a run or a bike ride to give you strength training, and a well rounded work-out, it guides you through and doesn't leave you saying to yourself--well cardio is done, now what? In my ideal exercise routine, I run MWF, and add M-upper, W-lower, F-abs, so my week is complete. T, TH, Sat (if they exist) are focused more on plain cardio, or another DVD that combines cardio and strength training into a great workout. (something that isn't longer than 40 min, preferably closer to 20 min).

So, the secret is, find something that will work your entire body throughout your week, make sure it is something you enjoy, have multiple DVDs to add variety, and more than anything, JUST DO IT! Having all the DVDs in the world will not make a difference unless you use them, and some days the weather doesn't give us any other option.

Feel free to review your own DVDs in the comment area and let us know what works for you and what you enjoy, maybe it will work for us too.

When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie . . .

My friend, Stephanie, sent me this article about pasta. So often we think in terms of what we can and can't eat if we want to be healthy. HOWEVER, we need to start to think differently. Instead of thinking, "I can't eat that because it doesn't fit in my diet or will make me gain weight or isn't healthy," think, "Hmmmm . . . . I really want to eat this because I really enjoy it. How can I make it healthier so I CAN enjoy it and still get the nutrition that I need?" One thing is switching from white to wheat! We already covered in an earlier post why it is that that's so IMPORTANT. So - stick with the pasta, the rice, the bread, etc. that you want; just make healthier choices that make it the BEST NUTRITIONAL CHOICE for your body!

Here's the article:

5 Tips for Healthier Pasta

Discover how noodles can be good for you--especially with these healthy-pasta tips.

by Liz Brown, Contributor
Liz Brown

Liz Brown is a health, nutrition and travel writer based in Portland, Oregon. She holds a B.S. degree in Nutrition and is co-author (with Chris Meletis, N.D.) of the book Enhancing Fertility: A Couple's Guide to Natural Approaches (Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2004). Brown is also a Spa magazine contributing editor.

Pasta sure has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Ever since protein-packed, carbohydrate-conserving diets captured the attention of health-conscious Americans, pasta has practically been relegated to junk food status. In an effort to temper blood-sugar levels and control their weight, many people stopped noshing on noodles altogether. That's a shame, considering the merits of this economical, nutritious, versatile and tasty food.

Contrary to popular belief, pasta is actually a low-glycemic index food. This means that it has a more moderate effect on blood glucose and energy levels when digested than high-glycemic index refined foods, such as white rice and white bread. The carbohydrates in high-glycemic index foods are quickly digested, causing a spike in blood glucose (sugar) levels, followed by a sharp dip that can leave us feeling sluggish.

Low-glycemic index foods like pasta provide more sustained energy throughout the day, and they may even help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes while encouraging healthy weight.

The most common pasta varieties--spaghetti, macaroni, penne and the like--are made with semolina flour, which comes from durum wheat and contains vitamin-E-rich wheat germ. In addition, pasta tends to be low in sodium and fat and enriched with essential B vitamins (thiamin, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin), as well as iron.

Of course, not all pasta dishes are created equal. Follow these tips to get more nutritional bang for your buck while avoiding common pasta pitfalls.

1. When at home, do as the Romans do.
Moderate pasta's impact on blood sugar for sustained energy by cooking it as the Italians do: al dente, or "to the tooth." Noodles should remain slightly chewy as opposed to mushy. Besides, pasta tends to hold the sauce nicely when cooked to perfection. Follow al dente cooking instructions on the box and sample a noodle or two along the way.

2. Pay attention to portion size.
Despite the heaping servings many restaurants dish out, moderating portion size is paramount. When dining out, consider splitting a pasta entrée with a fellow diner and order a salad, too. At home, serve pasta in shallow pasta bowls instead of large dinner plates, and dish it up in the kitchen to avoid overindulging at the table. Serve a vegetable, salad or lean meat side dish alongside a pasta dish to boost nutrition and variety.

3. Spoon on a healthy sauce.
Alfredo is not your friend. This and other cream-based sauces tend to be high in saturated fat and calories, so opt instead for tomato- and olive-oil-based varieties. You'll get more "good" fats and health-promoting antioxidants while keeping your waistline in check. Liven up sauces up with garlic, onion, sliced olives, fresh herbs, sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle a small amount of finely grated parmesan or other strong-flavored hard cheese on top for added pizzazz.

4. Pile on the veggies.
Pasta presents a perfect opportunity to boost your intake of nutrient-rich, low-calorie vegetables. Zucchini, broccoli, roasted red peppers, fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant--the sky's the limit.

5. Try something new.
The array of pasta options on store shelves continues to expand, with varieties ranging from gluten-free and omega-3-enriched (to up healthy-fat intake) to whole-wheat pastas. The latter provide more fiber than traditional varieties but have a chewier texture that doesn't appeal to everyone. Try a half-and-half combination of whole-wheat with semolina flour. There's no shortage of pasta shapes either, so mix it up to avoid a spaghetti rut.

6. Go Beyond Spaghetti:

  • Capellini: Meaning "fine hairs," this slender noodle is also called angel hair pasta and goes best with delicate sauces.
  • Farfalle: Meaning "butterflies," it's also known as bow tie pasta. This is a fun shape for kids and works well with most sauces or soups.
  • Linguine: This means "little tongues," and it's a flat, narrow noodle that compliments a variety of dishes--it's often paired with clam sauce or shrimp marinara.
  • Orecchiette: Meaning "little ears," this small, round shape hold up to chunkier sauces.
  • Ziti: Another word for "bridegrooms," this tube-shaped pasta, like a smooth penne, is great for baked dishes.

So enjoy those noodles but keep these tips in mind to get all the health benefits of pasta without the drawbacks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Food Guide Pyramid: A Family Affair

In the spirit of Sue's post last week about helping your children make good choices, I wanted to add something that I have been thinking about and give some family involvement ideas for how to implement it.

We all know the Food Guide Pyramid, right? We learned about it in school; it's on every box of cereal we eat and a foundation for the nutrition information given on other things we eat. Did you know, however, that you can MAKE A CUSTOMIZED Food Guide Pyramid for yourself and your family members at You can! It takes into account your age, height, weight, gender, etc. and customizes a Food Guide Pyramid to your specifications.

Then, as if that wasn't cool enough, you can also prepare a menu by clicking on the My Pyramid Menu Planner link. This will bring up the foods you eat and make a bar graph for you to track how much you are getting of each food category vs. how much you SHOULD be getting.

As if THAT wasn't cool enough, there is also a link for Preschool-age kids. SO . . . basically, you can create an individual Pyramid for EACH MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY!

Here's another idea for including your children so that you are teaching THEM how to eat healthily and MAKE GOOD CHOICES and FORM GOOD HABITS:

Take two mailing envelopes and tape them back-to-back (placing the flaps inside or outside; it really doesn't matter -- though I prefer inside).
Next, take a permanent marker and write on the outside of one of them "OPTIONS" or "CHOICES" and on the opposite envelope "DONE."
Then make a slip of paper for each of the required amounts of the different categories of food. So, you might have three slips of paper that say "FRUIT" and three or so pieces that say "VEGETABLE," etc.
Place all of the slips of paper in the "OPTIONS" side of the envelopes.
Add a magnet to the "DONE side of the envelope and hang it on your refrigerator.

As you go throughout the day, choose things from the front of your envelope and then move them to the back (the DONE side). At the end of the day, see how well you did. You can do this with your children to help them start to think in terms of variety and nutrition and making healthy choices. You might even have an "OTHER" treat for when they have emptied their "OPTIONS" envelope by the end of the day or make it a game in some other way.

Pretty cool, eh?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Recipe of the Week

1 3/4 lbs. baking potatoes
2/3 C fat-free milk
1 Tbl. unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. lean ground beef (7% or less)
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbl. tomato paste
1 (10 oz.) package frozen veggies
1 C. reduced-sodium beef broth (or use bullion to make your own)

1) Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2-qt. baking dish with non-stick spray.

2) Topping: Boil potatoes; add milk, butter, 1/2 tsp. of the salt; and 1/8 tsp. of ground pepper. Mash and set aside.

3) Filling: Cook beef in large skillet, until browned. Set aside. Cook onion, garlic, and oregano in skillet until onion is lightly browned. Add tomato paste and cook until slightly thickened. Add frozen veggies and cook until thawed. Stir in beef broth and cook until mixture is slightly thickened. Add beef, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. of ground pepper.

4) Transfer filling to baking dish; spread topping over the filling and bake until filling is bubbly around the edges (about 20 minutes). Remove from oven. Turn oven to BROIL and return casserole to the oven until the top is lightly browned (1-2 minutes). Let stand five minutes before serving.

*** Additional option: Add low- or non-fat grated cheese to the top and then broil the casserole. The nutrition info. given here is without a cheese topping.

Nutrition: Serving size -- 1 1/3 cups. Per serving: 284 calories; 6 g fat; 3 g sat. fat; 0 g. trans fat; 557 mg. sodium; 34 g carbs; 5 g fiber; 22 g protein; 72 mg calcium.

Serves 6

Saturday, April 4, 2009

not just brown vs. white: the complex carb

So in preparing to write this, I googled complex carbs, and found this article from the diet channel. It's all about simple vs. complex carbs, and explains it better than I thought I could (the address is at the bottom-I couldn't get a link to work)
Simple carbohydrates
These are just what they sound like: simple sugars. Simple sugars are quickly converted to glucose in your body . Simple carbohydrates include naturally occurring sugars and are most usually found in refined and processed foods, including white breads, sugary beverages and candy.

Complex carbohydrates
Complex carbs are more slowly digested and almost always found in foods more healthful than their simple counterparts. You find complex carbohydrates in:

•Whole grain foods

Health benefits of complex carbohydrates
There are numerous health-related reasons why you should increase your complex carbs, while decreasing the amount of simple sugars in your diet:

1. Complex carbs aid weight management
Foods that are high in complex carbohydrates are often lower in calories. It generally takes more time to eat 100 calories of a banana than it does to consume 100 calories of soda. Calorie for calorie, complex carbohydrates are more satisfying and the calories add up more slowly when compared to simple carbs.

2. Fiber keeps your feeling full longer
Most Americans don’t get the recommended amount of fiber per day: 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Increasing your complex carbohydrate foods always means an associated rise in fiber intake. And fiber helps you feel fuller for longer, meaning you’ll feel the need to eat less often.

3. Complex carbs contain nutritional benefits
There is no limit to the amount of nutritional benefits you get from switching to complex carbohydrates. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients that are rarely present in simple-sugar food items.

Be a smart consumer: choose complex carbs over simple carbs
People and dieters alike are finally waking up to the fact that carbs are not the enemy . The recent focus on the detriments of low-carb diets has had a positive effect—there’s a renewed interest in the benefits of complex carbohydrates and whole grains.

But beware; food manufacturers are exploiting this interest with numerous ways to confuse complex-carb seekers. A good whole grain food choice should be made primarily from whole grains. It sounds intuitive, but it’s easy to get misled:

Be wary of misleading food labels
Regulation surrounding labeling claims on whole grain foods is weak. Any food with a modicum of whole grain in it can be labeled “whole grain”. Check the ingredient list: if “enriched” is in the first ingredient, put it back on the shelf. Look for the word “whole” in the first ingredient to assure it is indeed a good whole grain food.

Keep an eye out for the fiber content in your food
The truth is in the label, and particularly the “fiber” section of the label. A good serving of whole grains will have 3 grams of fiber or more per serving. Only choose breads, pastas, cereals and grains that meet this requirement.

You can’t go wrong with eating fresh fruit and vegetables
These are your best low-calorie sources of complex carbohydrates. They are packed with nutrients and fiber and make great snacks throughout the day.

Balancing carbs, proteins, and fat is key
Keeping your carbohydrates to 55-60% of your total calories is a good way to divvy up your nutrients. Follow this rule of thumb: “Make half your grains whole” and eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. These strategies will ensure that your complex carbohydrate intake is adequate.
As for the brown and white argument, it kind of goes hand-in-hand with complex carbs. "Browns" are more difficult for your body to digest than "whites", aiding in helping you feel fuller longer, and burning more calories (basic metabolic rate). This is why we see TONS of arguments for whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, and other WHOLE grains.

My best example is found in bread, but can be transferred to anything...White bread is made of white flour, wheat has been striped of its outer shell where only the "insides" are used. Basically, production has eliminated the need for your body to digest the outer layer (bran), making it easier for your body to convert the 'flour' molecule to a glucose molecule (our bodies convert carbs to glucose for energy). The easier the conversion, the faster the digestion process, the less full we feel (because we are only eating part of the wheat kernel), and the less calories we burn, the more we want to eat.

This example can be transferred to rice, and other grains. ANY time you get the WHOLE grain, you are choosing a better product for your health, and increasing your chances for successful, long-term weight loss.

So, in conclusion, carbs are not the bad guy, but you have to be smart in the type of carbs you choose..yes bread is better than a cookie, but if it is white bread, chances are that it isn't that much better.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mom and Baby workouts

We have already had a great post about exercises we can do to get our bodies tone. I wanted to share some information about exercises we can do with our babies. Rather than retype all of the information, here is the link to the website StrollerStriders exercises. This has exercises you can do with or without your baby. One of the great benefits of using your baby as resistance is that as you get stronger as they are gaining weight, making your workout more challenging with time.

I would love to hear how you moms/ soon to be moms/ fit ladies are involving your babies in your exercise or any great tips you have for being fit. Please leave us a comment with your tips and we will send one lucky responder the "Baby's First Moves" Baby Einstien DVD. It has a bonus feature that demonstrates pilates moves you can do at home with your baby.

A few other exercise tips are ending your workouts at a fun spot (like the park) so your baby can play and be rewarded for behaving while you are getting fit. I think this also establishes the precedent that exercise is a fun and exciting part of life. Make sure to use good posture daily and take care of your body during any exercise. I recently hurt my back packing around my baby (he weighed over 15 lbs at his 2 month checkup). Stressing our bodies won't help us get healthy, so be sure to be smart. Don't forget to leave us a comment with your brilliant ideas!
I am not sure how this block that I am typing into fits into the whole picture of the blog but here is my first attempt. Melinda invited me to share my insights. I know my day to contribute to the world is Friday, but I will be out of the country for the next two Fridays and don't want to miss this opportunity.

As I look back at parenting, I made a lot of mistakes but am happy that they weren't too damaging and that my kids survived and thrived even despite this. In addition to gaining a testimony, one of the greatest things that you can do for your kids is to help them to learn to be confident in making decisions. I will talk more about this later but this is how it ties into food.

If a child is allowed to make a decision about what they eat, they are more likely to eat it. Even the young child can point. You can then affirm their decision, build their confidence in making decisions and teach them rational decision making at the same time. The beauty of this is that it's a win win situation. They get what they want and you get a teaching opportunity.

For example, you open the fridge and ask your child, "can you help me pick out something yummy and nutritious for lunch (the child hears the word nutritious and "picks up" that nutritious is important"?" The child looks at the carrots and the broccoli and chooses the broccoli. You say, "great choice, brocolli is a cruciferous vegetable and chock full of antioxidants and great for fiber! You made a great choice!"

Your child looks at you strangely but all the while is proud of making a great choice, is subconsciouly learning about nutrition and reasoning, becoming confident in their ability to make decisions and opening their mind to trying something new. Even if they don't end up liking it, you can thank them for choosing something healthy for you to eat.

It might seem silly to say nutritious and cruciferous to your baby, but you will be amazed at how much they can sponge and you get it the habit of talking about how decisions are made and affirming their choices. And it's pretty darn cute when one of their first words is "antioxidants". People will think they are precocious and a genuis and you're a great parent.....which you are because you're reading this blog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How to End Cravings and Automatically eat Healthy!

Most of my posts may come from a newsletter that I receive every week from a Personal Trainer/ Nutritionist. I really like a lot of what he has to say. I hope that everyone will enjoy what he has to say. His name is Mike Geary and he is the auther of a book called, "The truth about six pack abs". I recommend, if you would like to subscribe to the articles, take a look at his website, there is a ton of free stuff, as well as great information. I really enjoyed this weeks article and would like to share it with everyone.

After working with thousands of clients in my personal training business over the years, and now over 200,000 people with my Truth about Abs program, I've learned some interesting things about why some people get results and others don't when it comes to nutrition and exercise.

The bottom line is that if you follow the types of training programs I recommend and the types of nutrition strategies that I advocate, anyone WILL get results.

The problem is that some people get extraordinary results, while other people have a hard time actually changing their former poor habits.

Some of the biggest problems I see with clients are:

*Can't fight off junk food cravings
*Addicted to processed carbohydrates
*Perceived lack of time to work out on a regular basis

A few months ago, I recommended a process that has a very high success rate for overcoming some of these types of obstacles keeping you from the body you want.

What I recommended trying is called Medical Hypnosis. But there's a technique where you can do this on your own without going to a hypnotherapist.

After all, what good is knowing the right types of foods to eat and the right types of workouts to do if you never actually take action on it.

That's what this is all about... medical hypnosis can literally help you to change your eating habits, eliminate cravings, and start enjoying exercise by reprogramming how your mind views these aspects of your life.

The program that I recommended is here:

Now, it gets even more interesting...

Just recently, I found out that Matt Hoover (winner of NBC's, "The Biggest Loser" season two) also tried the same exact program.

When I first heard this, I thought to myself, "But that guy already lost a ton of weight, why would he use medical hypnosis?"

Turns out, that after the show was over he was no longer able to eat like he did on the show (no personal chefs, no trainer, and no cameras to make sure he was on track)... so he gained a lot of the weight back and was ashamed of himself. In his own words, he simply could not avoid temptation.

Well, a couple of months ago, he tried the same CDs I recommended in January and for the first time in his life, he is eating right and exercising without the star treatment. He is doing it on his own, and says it has been easy. By the way, he has also lost over 20 pounds of fat!

It has also been working for normal people Like Cynthia Roderick, a photographer from South Deerfield, Massachusetts:

"I had an addiction to sugar and my weight problems were so severe I was thinking of bypass surgery. I tried hypnosis programs in the past. Some programs made me tense and uncomfortable, the power of others seemed to fade away.

Within the first week I was getting obvious results. Since I started the program I've lost 30 pounds and I keep dropping them. My addiction to sugar is pretty much gone and decisions to turn down foods are easy."


Terrisa Harding, from Sapulpa, Oklahoma had this to say:

"I was always a thin person until my mid-thirties, then the weight began to creep up until I had gained over 30 lbs. I tried the Enjoying Weight Loss program and since being on it I've lost (so far permanent) over 20 lbs. I find I automatically eat much more healthfully, like more fruits and vegetables, I don't feel deprived and I'm energized. I feel GREAT!"


A study from the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology shows medical hypnosis increased weight loss by an average of 97% during treatment. More importantly, medical hypnosis increased effectiveness AFTER treatment by over 146%.

Clearly, this technique is even more effective over time. And as you know, long-term commitment to any diet/fitness program is the key to lasting fat loss.

Dr. Roberta Temes is the brains behind how this program works to change your habits.

Dr. Temes is also on the faculty of the Psychiatry Department in the Medical School of the SUNY Health Science Center. She’s also involved with research on the behavioral factors involved with long-term weight loss.

If you struggle to stay on track with either your workouts or your nutrition, you fight with cravings for junk or sweets, or you always fall back into bad habits, now is the time to try something that could change all of that.

It may finally be the stimulis that creates lifelong good habits to get the body you want.

Try it out and see:

Good luck!

I'll be back in a few days with the next Lean-Body Secrets Ezine.

Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Founder - &