Monday, March 23, 2009

Things Aren't As Good For You As You Think - Guest Blog

Howdy! My name is Hungry and I'm going to be a part time contributor to EAT (hopefully) and this is going to be my first blog! As someone how has lost nearly eighty pounds since I began my lifestyle change (I refuse to call it a diet. Because diets end and weight is re-gained and health is re-compromised. This is a lifestyle change that I hope to upkeep for the rest of my life.) I feel that I'm at least somewhat qualified to give a couple of tips here and there whenever the situation calls for it. And over the past week I've had a couple of things dawn on me that I felt the need to share with the general populace. The general theme of these things that have dawned on me is that some things are nowhere near as good for us as we think they are.

Let's start with the saccarine substitute known as splenda. First and foremost, splenda is fake. Plain and simple. It's not REAL sugar. While it is MADE from real sugar, it's so synthesized that it isn't as healthy for you as people think. In fact, splenda was originally created when scientists were trying to come up with a new form of insecticide. And we put this stuff in our Coffee? Yeuch. As far as health, splenda can definitely be viewed as a real detriment. In terms of weight and caloric content, splenda isn't as devoid of calories as you think. According to one website, “One cup of Splenda contains 96 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrates, which is substantial for people with diabetes but unnoticed due to the label claiming that it's a no calorie sweetener.” Government regulations allow for anything containing less then five calories per gram to be advertised as zero calories. Splenda has 3.3 calories per gram, a not insignificant amount. Besides these two facts, there is also the issue of blood sugar levels. Your body processes real sugar along with insulin in order to regulate your blood sugar levels. Without real sugar, your insulin levels are going to be thrown out of whack because your body reacts to the splenda without processing it as real sugar. For these three reasons, I would suggest that if you're going to have a coffee, drink it black.

Also, Subway is perhaps one of the most misleading foods on the market. Yeah, sure, Jarrad lost 430984350934850439502974392874 pounds on the “subway” diet, but he did it eating six inch veggie subs with no cheese or sauce three times a day. Your double stuffed turkey with southwest sauce isn't healthy for you just because it's on whole wheat bread! In fact, wholewheat bread is only better for you if you live an active lifestyle, because it's a slower burn and you have more opportunities to work it off. It in fact has a higher caloric content then whitebread. A six inch whole wheat bread from subway has approx 190 calories. Multiply that times two, plus the sauce, plus the meat, and your twelve inch subway sandwich is bordering on 1,000 calories. Yeesh. Next time you go for fastfood, try and find somewhere that offers a salad alternative (go light on the dressing!) or better yet, bring a lunch from home. The second the preparation of your meals is out of your hands, the higher the likelihood your lunch isn't going to be so friendly to your waistline.

Last but not least, at least from my perspective, is meat balls. My mother is a HUGE fan of making meatballs (i'm sure this isn't the case in all homes, but bare with me, this is going somewhere) and over the course of the years those heavy beef meat balls were starting to take their toll on my waistline (i'm now a size 32, but when i started I was a 44). A huge change that anyone can make to their lifestyle is the following: any meal you formerly had with ground beef (meatballs, chilli, meatsauce, slooop joe's, hamburgers, etc) should be swapped out with ground turkey! It's leaner, cleaner and meaner! But seriously, turkey has way less fat, calories and is just as tasty! (Not all turkey is a better sub for it's counterparts though! Turkey Bacon is downright awful for you, laden with salts and chemicals!) I highly recommend the turkey swap for anyone looking to cut a few calories here and there.

That's it for now! Hope you found my tips helpful! - Hungry

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Warning: You might be addicted to this easy recipe.
Well, why wouldn't you be? It's delicious and way more filling than a 100 calorie pack. Yeah, that's right, these will only knock off 100 calories off your day! How? Oh... there's no butter!

What you'll need:
- 4 medium white potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled [Tip: Smash them with the flat of your knife to peel off the skins easily]
- 1/3 cup of skim milk (or more, if you like really thin mashed potatoes)
- 1/3 cup of non-fat sour cream
- Salt & pepper (to taste)

The Recipe:
1. Boil the potatoes and the garlic in a pot for approximately 16-20 minutes, until tender
2. Drain, let sit for a moment
3. Add milk to the pot while its still warm
4. Add the potato/garlic mixture back into the pot
5. Add sour cream into the pot
6. Take your potato masher, and get all that stress out. Mash them up to whatever texture you like.
7. Season your potatoes the way you like them. (I usually put a ton of pepper, and no salt)

This recipe should make about 4 servings. I sometimes eat them without anything on top, or sometimes with ketchup, but...

Can't eat mashed potatoes without gravy? Try this:

1. Spray pan with cooking spray
2. Add 1 small onion (diced) and 1/2 cup of mushrooms (chopped) to the pan, cook until tender, pour into a bowl, and leave aside.
3. Add 1 & 1/2 tbsp of flour to the pan with 1 tbsp of non-fat sour cream, and stir until thick-ish
4. Add 1/2 cup of red wine, and 1 cup of vegetable broth, stir
5. Add 1/2 a cube of vegetable bouillon (or if you're not making this vegetarian, you can use poultry seasoning), and a small can of low-fat cream of mushroom soup into the pan, and whisk together until completely homogenous
6. Add the onion and mushroom mixture to the pan and let simmer until thickened

You'll have plenty of gravy, but if you divide it into 4, it's also only 100 calories a serving!
Personally, I'd probably just eat the potatoes as a meal alone...
But add 3 oz of chicken or turkey to create a delicious meal for about 350 calories!

It almost like having the holidays all year round!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tip of the Day: Low-Fat Brownies

Craving carbs and chocolate, and watching what you eat? Here's your solution!

We all use cake mix out of convenience. Sometimes you have spontaneous guests, or you're just in the mood for a good brownie - but you don't want to go through the hassle of actually making stuff from scratch. Besides, if Giada can spruce up cake mix, so can we!

What you'll need:
- Egg Whites
- Unsweetened Applesauce
- Brownie or Cake Mix (whatever you're in the mood for)
- Honey/Jam/Marshmallows/Chocolate Chips (optional)*

Why it works:

Applesauce is a great substitution for oil when you bake. a) it makes things taste sweeter. b) you're hardcore cutting down on the fat. c) it will be softer and fluffier.
There is a lot of nutrition in eggs, and its good to have one once a day. With eggs, and their yolks, being hidden in a lot of things - we eat a lot more of them than we should. If you eliminate the yolks, you're helping your body by cutting a little more bad cholesterol from your diet, as well as fat... YAY!

How you do it:
- For the exact amount of oil the box tells you to use, substitute applesauce (eg: 1/4 cup of oil -> 1/4 cup applesauce)
- Add one more egg white than the amount of whole eggs the box says to add. (eg: 3 whole eggs -> 4 egg whites)

Icing: also not so great for you, but there are alternatives!
1. You could drizzle honey on top, or spread jam on it. BUT...
2. You could also take a cup of marshmallows and a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and add them to the end of cooking time to let it melt and ooze all over.
* Rather than 200 calories worth of icing on top of your piece of cake, this will only cost you 50 calories and your whole brownie would be cost you less than 200 calories! It's delicious, and I promise, you WILL NOT miss the icing.
3. Or you could always just serve your cake or brownies plain-jane, with nothing at all on top!

Extra tip:
if you have those mini cupcake tins, that would be a great way to make your own version of two-bite brownies - but better for you than the brand name! And, you can treat yourself to a couple! You'll feel like you've indulged EVEN more.

That's it! Other than those substitutions, follow the instructions that the cake mix tells you. Because of the applesauce and egg whites, your baked goods may not last as long as they normally do. I'm pretty sure baked goods don't last that long anywhere though, so it's pretty much a non-issue. Enjoy these next time you get a craving!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Egg Rolls

Yeah, you read right. Egg rolls. If you make them this way, they totally won't kill your health vibe. The key? You don't need to fry them to make them as delicious as your local dim-sum does.

What you'll need:

- Egg Roll Wrappers (Available in the frozen section of virtually every grocery store)
- 1 Bell Pepper (Any color you desire)
- 1/4 Cup Cellophane Noodles
- 1 Green Onion
- 1 Large Carrot
- 1 Cup Bean Sprouts
- 1/4 Cup Snow Peas (Or Sugar Snap Peas)
- 2 tbsp Ginger
- 1 tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce (Amazing alternative to the regular)
- 2 tbsp Veggie Oil (and/or Sesame Oil, only if you've got it)
- A sauce to dip into (Can be whatever you like. I'm partial to Renee's Tangy Thai Marinade, but you could just as easily use Plum Sauce, Hot Mustard, or make your own!)


- Meat (I make mine vegetarian, but feel free to throw in leftover meat if you like)
- Water Chestnuts/Bamboo Shoots (I don't like them, but if you do, go for it)
- Cilantro (Lots of people don't like it, if I've got it around, I might throw it in)
- Cooking Spray (For the baking sheet. If you like to grease your pans another way, up to you)

The Recipe:
Tip: A day before you want to make these, take the frozen egg roll wrappers out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to thaw out.
1. Set your oven for 400 F, then take your wrappers out of the fridge.
To Make the Filling:
2. In a bowl, take a handful of cellophane noodles and let them sit in BOILING water, for however long the package says. Afterward, drain the water and let cool.
3. While you're letting the noodles cook, peel and mince the ginger. Tip: an easy way to peel ginger is using the edge of a little spoon.
4. In a bowl, mix the ginger and the soy sauce.
5. Cut up those veggies - julienne style. That way, the long pieces will be so much easier to roll up!
6. Mix all the veggies, and the noodles, in the bowl with the soy and ginger.
7. Let it chill out together in the fridge for about 20 mins.
8. In the meantime, grease a baking sheet (or two, depending on how many of these you're going to make.
Ready to Roll?
9. Place one of your egg roll wrappers in a clean, dry place on your counter, and brush a little bit of veggie oil (or sesame oil) on each of the corners of your wrapper.
10. Put about 1 1/2 tbsp of the filling in the center of your wrapper.
11. Fold the bottom corner up, and fold both sides toward center and roll tightly (like a tortilla).
12. Place seam-side down on nonstick baking sheet; repeat with remaining skins and filling.
13. Once you're done rolling all of these (maybe you want to do this with a friend... it can take a while), put them in the oven for about 9 minutes.
14. After the 9 minutes, flip 'em over and brown the other side, for another 8 minutes.
15. Take them out. Let them cool. You'll want to grab them right away, but don't. It'll hurt. Take it from me.
16. Serve with sauce, and please, try to share with your friends. Remember - MODERATION!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tip of the Day: KD

Kraft Dinner is delicious and easy to make in a pinch. Although many people would be quick to ban Kraft Dinner from their diet, once in a while it's great to indulge. And YES, there is a better way to eat this Canadian favorite.

The wonderful people at Kraft have recently released WHOLE WHEAT versions of their Original and White Cheddar dinners! Although still a weeeee-bit high on the sodium content, the whole wheat version is higher in fibre and therefore is a much better alternative to the regular noodles. Regardless of whichever version, KD is a solid source of Calcium! As well, on the box Kraft has provided a 'Sensible Solutions' way to preparing KD, which is 30 calories less than the original sauce recipe! However, there is an even more "Sensible" way to prepare KD, and it's a lot creamier too!

To give you an idea, we'll compare sauce recipes:
- Original Recipe: 2 tbsp butter or margarine, 3 tbsp of milk (roughly 300+ calories)
- Sensible Solutions Recipe: 1 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine, 1/4 cup skim milk (roughly 200 calories)
- Foodie Recipe: 2 tbsp of skim milk, and 2 (big) tbsp of non-fat sour cream (about 100 calories)

Remember, often people make the mistake of eating the WHOLE BOX, rather than the proper serving size. For 2/3 of a cup (the suggested serving size), the 'Sensible Solutions' recipe would come out to 210 calories, and the 'Original' recipe would be about 250. How many calories in the Foodie Recipe? About 185.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have a winner! Try it out next time you make Kraft Dinner!

Ew. Diet? What?!

More than ever, people are trying to lose weight and stay in shape. Typically, a person will try a fad diet, it will work for a little while, and then BAM - the weight is all back (and more!)...

Why? Truth is: if you do a stupid fasting diet (the cayenne pepper & lemon water for example), you are only really just flushing out your system. You lose the weight you want, and then as soon as you put something REAL into your mouth again, your body goes into a euphoric shock. It starts thinking "HOLY MOLY, FOOD!" and decides to store as much as it can because it NEVER wants to lose out on nourishment EVER again.

This information isn't anything new.
You need to eat to lose weight. Your body needs fuel. DUH.
This also doesn't mean that eating ANYTHING will make you lose weight. Another DUH.
There are certain foods, as I'm sure you've learned by watching The Biggest Loser or by sitting in 9th Grade Biology class, that will help you shred the lbs more than others. Foods high in saturated and trans fats and/or have a high sugar content would likely NOT be the best choices for someone wanting to lose weight.

This does not mean you need to cut out your favorites completely. ABSOLUTELY NOT.
AND this doesn't mean eliminating ALL fats and sugars all together.
That would be a BIG MISTAKE. We need these in our diet. And, we all have cravings.
So what do we do then? How do we lose weight?

Although we hate to admit it, The Canada Food Guide isn't lying folks.
FUN TIP: they make 100 Calorie packs FOR A REASON! Because you really shouldn't be eating more than that for a snack!
Unfortunately, we are trained to think that we need MORE of everything, its the sort of society we live in.

Why give your body more fuel than it can burn? Do we fill our car more than the tank can fit? No.
Your body is that way too. The food that isn't being burnt off is excess and therefore, it is the bit of extra luggage you've got to carry around with you. You can still eat the things you like, but you need to be careful about HOW MUCH of it you take in. Remember, you burn off calories with you exercise and therefore you can consume more if you burn more. Incentive? I think so.

An easy way of finding out how much you eat, is by keeping track of the amount of calories you eat in a day. You can find out how many calories you SHOULD be consuming per day by calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Then again, not everyone can be bothered with numbers. An average male should consume about 2500 calories a day, and an average woman about 2000, according to Health Canada.

Now that the formalities and background information are out of the way... What's the point of this blog? Who am I telling you this?
Well, I've been there. I've carried many more pounds more than I needed to, and hey, I still carry at least 10 more than I should. I'm NOT here to convince you of anything, that's for sure.
And I'm by NO MEANS any sort of nutritionist or whatever.
I don't think you should follow a diet at all, REALLY.
The point of this blog is to provide you with easy recipes, sneaky tips, and short cuts in order to promote a healthier lifestyle AND STILL have all the foods you've grown to love and crave!

Happy Eating! xo