FAT…why would you even use that word?

I am constantly learning and tweaking nutrition and tactics to support the healthy lifestyle my husband and I enjoy. It takes effort and time, but it is worth it. One of the reasons I work part time is to be able to do this for our family. Lifestyle decisions. My husband and I decided that a healthy lifestyle was a priority for us. We make choices to ensure we can keep it a reality. Weight management has much more to do with nutrition than activity level, and if you read my most recent post about the green cast, you will understand why I’m focused on nutrition again…

I’ve been intrigued by the potential health benefits a higher fat diet may support. After some research, I have come to believe increasing healthy fats in my diet may be key for keeping my weight under control as I age. But, there are many benefits from increasing the healthy fat intake.

Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that I am not about extremes. Carbohydrates are important and must be included in a healthy and balanced diet. I am advocating swapping out some carbohydrates for healthy fats day to day. An important key is to swap and not just add healthy fats, here’s why. Fat has more calories per gram and while good for us, will = increased weight if not monitored. Just keeping it real, peeps! Daily caloric intake is like a bank account…choose how you spend it wisely.

Adding Fat on Purpose

Healthy-FatThere is always a “new” diet surfacing in the media. Foods have phases it seems and research about our nutrition needs continues to evolve. A healthy lifestyle includes tweaking and changing daily nutrition to best meet the needs of our body for that day. We don’t do the same thing each day, our activity varies, our hormones vacillate, our circumstances change, it makes sense then that our body’s needs will be different. When we know better, we do better, right?

Recently I’ve added more healthy fats into my diet. The initial draw was to add a new tool to the weight management toolbox. I am drawn to carbohydrates and love sweets, so the idea of swapping out some of that to curb cravings seemed like a wise move. Not easy, but wise none the less. I did the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet for 12 days to jump-start my new normal (and let’s be real, lose a few pounds). My nutrition goals, while trying the Keto Diet,  were to stay below 50 grams of carbs daily and have 70-75% of my diet come from fat. Maybe you’re asking, why 12 days? The answer is because that is all I could stand! I’m afraid I may have ruined myself on avocados for life. Not really, but I did take a break from them for several days after this experiment. The change was so big that I felt stifled & trapped which is not a good place for me in my head. These types of drastic changes can lead to binges and epic failure…noted. I knew I needed a new plan.

I learned a lot, though, and I’m very glad I did it. I learned that healthy fats really do minimize cravings and increase satiety. I learned that I can do hard things…for 12 days. I learned that there are carbs hiding in all sorts of places! For instance, sugar-free mints. Seriously? I learned that the low-fat way of eating is deeply ingrained in my mind. I was raised in the low-fat/carbs are good generation (Misguided mentality included “eat all the bagels you want, they are low-fat!”). The importance of accurate information, continued education, and adaptation cannot be overstated. All of this discovery led to conversations with my husband about what we wanted our diet to look like. We agreed that a more Mediterranean diet is best for us. This includes a larger portion of our calories coming from healthy fats. I shoot for a break down of about 45% Carbohydrates, 25% healthy fats, and 30% Protein. I use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone for easy food tracking. Carbohydrates from mainly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein from lean meat, dairy,  and vegetables sources. Fats that are healthy for my body and without *trans fats. Oh…and wine. All things in moderation, right?

Quick lesson on dietary fat: *Trans fat is the fat that increases our bad cholesterol and decreases our good cholesterol. A diet high in trans fats leads to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Trans fats are usually found in foods that are processed and have a good shelf life. When reading labels, look for “partially hydrogenated oil”. Baked goods, ready-to-grab snacks, chips, fried foods, refrigerated dough (think canned biscuits, pizza dough, etc) , non-dairy coffee creamers and stick margarine are common places that trans fats will be lurking. Monounsaturated fat is your friend. Look to increase this type of fat when adding fats to a healthy lifestyle.

We need healthy fats in our diet. Fat aids us in keeping healthy skin and hair, absorbing vitamins, reducing inflammation, supporting brain function, and blood clotting, just to highlight a few things. Our body uses fat for energy when carbohydrates, it’s #1 pick for energy, are limited. Therefore, by swapping out some of our carbohydrates for healthy fats, we can increase our fat burning on a day-to-day basis. Fats are a more concentrated source of energy with 9 calories/gram. Carbohydrates and Proteins have 4 calories/gram. This is an important fact to keep forefront in your mind as you add fats into your diet. Portion size should be noted so that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot trying to do the right thing for your body, but instead pile on more pounds for it to carry around (track it, peeps, MyFitnessPal). It takes awareness and effort to live a healthy lifestyle. But here’s the deal: you get one life. One body. It is important to develop habits that promote health, not just weight loss. We are not just numbers on a scale, we are complex and valuable creations.

A recent joy in my life has been my grown children returning to more healthy nutrition by their own choices. We text and visit about easy menus and the importance of planning and my heart is so full. As I’ve grown, recovered from eating disorders, and learned about healthy living, while being their mom, they have been watching. The ripple effect of our eating habits is larger than we might believe. It is challenging to create healthy habits. It takes time and trial and error and a lot of getting up after falling down, but it is worth it. No one that you see that is fit and healthy woke up that way one day! It is a process for everyone and it begins with one choice. Adding choices up day after day leads to changes and results in feeling better emotionally, physically, and mentally.

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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The Best Way

 

laughing-baby Unique from the Beginning

From our first breath, we are unique. I see it every day in my job as a baby nurse. Some infants are quiet and content, some are feisty and “talkative”. Some babies want to be held all the time, other babies need a break from the cuddling. I continue to be in awe of the unique personality traits that are evident from the first moments of life. From feet to fingerprints, we are individuals and one-of-a-kind miracles from the moment we arrive on this earth until the moment we take our last breath.

In order to fully embrace our lives, we must understand, accept, and remind ourselves daily that we are unique…and that is how it supposed to be. You have been created with a unique set of gifts, talents, desires, and characteristics. When honed and mastered these skills will enrich your life and bless those who come in contact with you. So, open your heart and identify your strengths. Nurture them, refine them, use them, and relax in knowing you are exactly who you were meant to be and you are precious.

In our world buzzing with social media it is easy to get lost and believe that only other people are having fun, enjoying life, and making dreams come true. That is a bunch of b.o.l.o.g.n.a! Don’t waste time wishing you were someone else, spend your time and energy becoming your best you!

Healthy Lifestyle – My Way

A healthy lifestyle means different things to different people. That makes sense being that we are all different! Acceptance of others and their beliefs is an important component of any healthy lifestyle. For me personally, my approach to eating is one of balance and moderation. I enjoy every food group and choose to focus on portions, monitoring my macro-nutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats), and overall caloric intake (Thanks My Fitness Pal!). This approach has developed over years of frustration with fad diets and yo-yo weight loss/gain prompting research and commitment to success. It works for me. Does that mean it is the plan, morsel for morsel, that you should immediately apply to your life? Nope. You need to discover your own style, your own methods, and a lifestyle that works with your big picture of life! It is unfair and unrealistic to think that just because a certain plan or approach works for one person that it will work for everyone. Flexibility and adaptability are important components in all of life, including the development and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.

That said, I still am passionate about sharing what I have learned over the years! Managing diet and nutrition can take up an inordinate amount of space in life and become an obsession. I got so tired of thinking about food all the time while trying to not eat! So I share, hoping to lighten your load and encourage you. If you truly desire to lose weight and eat healthfully, you can do it. It takes commitment and acceptance that habits will not change overnight, but you can do it. It takes support and willingness to be uncomfortable, but you can do it. It requires learning new things and applying that knowledge, but you can do it. You have to want it more than you want the instant gratification of a yummy morsel, but you can do it!

So what is “Your Way”?

What works for you? If you don’t have success stories, then what you do have is valuable experience. You have learned what doesn’t work for you and that is very helpful! When you fail (and we all do), realistically evaluate what happened and adjust the plan. Don’t keep trying the same thing and expect different results. This behavior modification is the difference between falling with a crash and burn vs. falling but building strength and momentum! We all run off the rails sometimes. A healthy lifestyle must include a recovery plan and realistic expectations.

baby fat If you know that you love lattes, then don’t develop a plan that completely eliminates lattes or you are setting yourself up for failure! If you are used to eating 2500 calories per day, don’t restrict yourself to 1200 calories and expect that you won’t struggle with that…be realistic and work your way down. Don’t eliminate all bread if you love bread, just commit to lunch being a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich…small changes grow into bigger ones! Modify and adapt changes in slowly and you are much more likely to enjoy success and create true and lasting change. An additional perk to a slow and steady approach is that you are not so irritable or frustrated! You will be able to sustain changes and even continue to tweak your choices. After a while you will look back and see the emptiness in trying to find satisfaction and contentment in cookie dough or a bucket of chicken.

healthy lifestyle pic                       Some Science

While we can tweak when we eat, what we eat, and how active we are, there are some things we need to accept and apply as fact to our healthy lifestyle plans. Here are a few things to log away as “givens”:

  • All calories count. Healthy food, junk food, vacation food, food no one sees you eat, every calorie in is faithfully either utilized or stored by your amazing body.
  • Math is involved. If your caloric intake is less than your caloric output then you will lose weight. If your caloric intake is more than your caloric output you will gain weight. Friend, it is math, I’m sorry, but it is. If you honestly and consistently create a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.
  • Balance is required. Our bodies function best from a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you want your body to perform for you, you must fuel it appropriately. This is about more than weight loss or gain, it is for your overall health and wellness. Our immune systems, emotions and coping mechanisms, mental processes, hormone cascades, and sleep cycles all depend on a balanced diet to function at optimum settings.
  • Patience is required. Weight management is an ongoing goal. Our bodies are complex and our habits are hard-core. Be patient with yourself and take one day at a time…one choice at a time.

               “The way I live either contributes to the darkness of our world or to the light

                                               and hope of our world.”  ~ Ann Smith

 

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Known as “Breakfast Brownies” at my house, these are Tom’s favorite muffins.   I think your whole family will enjoy these and it is a great way to add vegetables into a picky eaters diet. Several years ago my 15 year old son had a friend over one night and he ate several of these.   Then he saw a piece of zucchini and said with disgust, “hey these have vegetables in them!”  I had to chuckle…got ya!  These can be heated up in a toaster oven and spread with peanut butter…Tom’s daily companion to his protein shake!  They can also be frozen. I know grabbing breakfast can be challenging, so make it easy on yourself; take the time to throw these together.  You’ll have a quick, power packed, yummy breakfast to grab and go.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Brownies

Ingredients:

3/4  cup Whole Wheat flour

1/4 cup flax seed meal (can use a whole cup of WW flour if you don’t have flax seed meal)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup applesauce (no added sugar)

1 Tbsp Canola oil

3/4 cup Splenda or other no calorie sweetner

1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 egg whites or equivalent of 2 eggs in egg substitute

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups shredded raw zucchini (2 small, peeled)

3/4 cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips

Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl sift and mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl beat the oil, sugars, eggs, powdered milk, and vanilla extract until well blended (about 2 minutes) with electric mixer.
  4. Fold in the zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, make 18 muffins, and bake about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from cups after about 10 minutes and cool on wire rack.  Yummy if toasted and served with spray butter (0 calories added, lots of taste!)

1 muffin = approx 160 cal/5 protein/2 fiber

Bean Dip!

This is a hit with my boys and their friends too.  Get more veggies into your diet with this awesome snack or side dish.  This is an easy and yummy dinner on a bed of lettuce as a salad, or as a side dish with chicken tacos! Remember portion size is key to a healthy diet, if you eat this with chips, portion out a single serving of chips and put the bag away so you don’t over indulge.  Can you have too much of a good thing?  Yes, the answer is yes.  Enjoy!

Jodi’s Bean Dip

Ingredients:

  • 3 cans black beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
  • 1 Tbsp hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp green chili salsa, or more to taste
  • 1 cup plain lite sour cream
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup Monterey jack or 2% cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients, saving out 1/2 cup of cheese.
  • Spread into shallow baking dish
  • Bake 30 min, then sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  • Serve with veggies or tortilla chips to dip.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This is a crunchy, fresh, great tasting side dish that I had kind of forgotten about.  Sweet but with a kick…try it.  Make it as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish, or serve it as a main dish!  Temps are still getting up warm and this summer salad shouldn’t be passed up!  Enjoy!

Black Bean and Corn Salad 

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (16 oz.) bag frozen sweet white corn, thawed

8 green onions, diced

1 (4 oz.) can diced jalapeno, rinsed and drained

1 green pepper, diced

2 avocados, cubed

2 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained

1 cup (or to taste) fresh cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. lime juice

4 Tbsp. vinegar

6 Tbsp. EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil)

3 Tbsp. Splenda

1 tsp. minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In large mixing bowl gently combine beans, corn, onions, pepper, avocados,
    tomatoes, and cilantro.
  • In small mixing bowl mix dressing ingredients
  • Toss salad in dressing, chill for approx. 30 min, and serve.

14 (½ cup) servings, each has approx. 155 calories/ 3 grams protein/ 5.5 grams fiber

Example Low Carb Day

Hello everyone!

My sweet sister asked for an example of what I would normally eat on a low-carb day, so I thought I’d just post it here for ease.  Please remember I haven’t been doing this very long, so this is just a snapshot at the stuff I’ve come up with so far!  Since I’m a woman, I shoot for 5 meals, 3 hours apart, around 1200 calories total. (Men shoot for 1500 calories total)  Remember too that it is low carb not no carb.  Don’t get all crazy out there peeps!

Breakfast:

1 egg + 2 egg whites, scrambled with green and red peppers and onion, with 2% shredded cheese.

1 (6 oz.) Carbmasters yogurt

1 clementine

Snack:

Protein shake (1 cup almond milk, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, spinach, carrots, and ice…blend)

Lunch:

Tuna fish on celery

1/2 cup nuts/seed mixture

raw vegetables

Snack:

celery with peanut butter

string cheese

Dinner:

Baked chicken (or pork, or tofu in stir fry…) and mixed vegetables (as many colors as possible)

Key Lime Carbmasters yogurt for dessert

I haven’t had a problem hitting my calorie mark because nuts are high calorie so I just add or subtract them to get me to where I need to be.  I’m glad to not eat this way everyday, I certainly enjoy my whole wheat English muffin the next morning on high carb day!  This plan makes it easier for me to stick with it thought since it is always changing.  Along with my workouts I’m seeing results, hope you are too!  Happy weekend…Sunday is free day!

Be sure to check out Chris Powell’s book for lots of recipes and all the nitty gritty details!  Book

Oatmeal Carrot Cake Muffins

Hey Everyone!  It has been a while since I posted a new recipe so here is one for you to try out this week.  A great breakfast option for a family on the go.  Healthy ingredients and tasty too.  Breakfast is so important for getting your metabolism burning and minimizing those late morning cravings, so make these on the weekend and enjoy an easy and quick breakfast all week!  Take good care of yourselves out there!

Oatmeal Carrot Cake Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, shredded
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple in 100% juice, with juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine oats with milk,  mix well and set aside
  3. Combine flour and brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, mix well and set aside
  4. Combine oat mixture with carrots, raisins, pineapple with juice, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla and mix well
  5. Add to dry ingredients and mix just until moist
  6. Scoop into muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray
  7. Bake x 30 minutes or until desired doneness

Make 16 muffins

Each muffin has approximately: 123 calories/4 grams protein/3 grams fiber

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