Tuesday, March 29, 2011

5-minute lazy healthy soup

How many of you come home from work and can't seem to think about what to eat?

This is my solution to the after-work, can't-think lazy healthy soup recipe:

Ingredients (please don't measure too precisely--after all, it is lazy!)
* Water (about 3-4 cups--depends on the size of your soup bowl)
* Miso soup base (either powder or from non-GMO organic fresh paste)
* 2 handfuls of green leafy veggies -- organic mixed salad greens, baby bok choy (1-in chopped), anything dark and green (as opposed to dark and handsome!)
* 2-3 tbls frozen peas (a little fiber boost)
* 1/2 cup pre-cooked wild rice or brown rice (I have pre-cooked rice in the fridge for lazy and emergency hunger).
* Your choice of lean protein. I use frozen seafood (scallops, shrimp, langostino) that makes my lazy soups feel like a treat. If you have leftover chicken or other leftover lean protein, this is a good excuse to eat it up.
* Optional ingredients: fresh non-GMO organic tofu (if you're vegetarian), seaweed strips, dulse, toasted black sesame, any japanese spicing that has sesame and seaweed, sesame oil, diced green onions and/or cilantro, salt and pepper.

1) Boil water. While water is heating, wash and chop your green leafy veggies. Put aside (this is last to put into the soup.
2) Add miso powder or paste to the boiling water. Put in your frozen seafood option and your frozen peas. If you aren't putting something in frozen, then put in your leftover lean protein.
3) Add rice, and fresh leafy greens. Do not overcook the greens. Turn off the stove when you see your greens are still bright green, and only slightly wilted. The broth will continue cooking the greens.
4) Put your optional flavors in the bowl before pouring in the soup. I like to put dulse and seaweed strips to help detox my body. Black sesame and a small dash of sesame oil for good hair. Green onions and cilantro if I have them in the fridge and I'm not too lazy to chop them. Freshly ground black pepper and salt (if needed--depends on your broth).

VOILA! 5-minute lazy healthy soup with minimal prep. Nutrient-dense, low-glycemic, and you're getting in at least 2-3 servings of vegetables, 1 serving of fiber (from the peas and wild rice), and your lean protein. I eat this at least 1x a week to get my sea vegetables into my nutrition. Sometimes, I eat this soup as often as 2-3x a week because I've had a long day. I feel full because of the fiber and veggies and lean protein, but it feels like a very light soup (as opposed to chili that can feel heavy).


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

8 Healthy Protein-Rich Breakfast Ideas

Many weight loss and wellness students say they don't like to eat breakfast or they don't feel hungry. Studies show that eating breakfast is important to help diminish your sugar or impulse cravings, and boost your metabolism. You're supposed to "break-the-fast" of the hours of not eating during your sleep and tell your body you are not going to fall into starvation (fat-storing) mode. Eat a healthy protein-rich breakfast to tell your body to go into fat-burning mode.

Just commit to eating breakfast 3 consecutive days, then 7 days, and then when you get to 21 consecutive days, you've created a new habit!! Of course, you want to start with things you like, and then experiment with new foods as you go along. And these breakfast ideas are good for any time of day.

Depending on your portions, you can combine ideas:
1) 2 hard-boiled omega=3 eggs + fruit + whole rye crackers
** I put 2 eggs to boil while I go take a shower. I cut up some fruit and rye crackers and this is breakfast-to-go.
*** You can switch to omega-3 free range eggs for heart-healthy eggs (yes, please eat the yolk)
2) Protein smoothie -- berries, greek yogurt, almond milk and protein+fiber powder
3) Cottage cheese with berries, plus almond butter and jam on whole grain toast
4) Veggie scramble with mushrooms, greens, onions/garlic, and herbs + whole grain toast
5) Chicken sausages with protein/whole grain blueberry pancakes
6) Leftovers of previous dinners/lunch that have lean protein and veggies, reheated
7) Veggies + bean soup
8) Oatmeal + berries + 2 hard-boiled eggs (please note that oatmeal is great fiber but not protein, so you need to add eggs or another lean protein)

Need more help with recipes? Check out Eating Well's website for healthy recipe ideas.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bad Foods We Love and How to Switch!

So many people have an addiction or craving for sodas. And what they don't realize is that soda (diet or not) is affecting the belly fat and much more (see this doctor's article on why it's bad for you). This video link to a 3-minute ABCnews episodes should be mandatory viewing for every high school kid and all adults. It shows you how the average American drinking 20 oz of soda stresses the body.

Cut down or cut out your soda for a healthier belly fat measurement. Here are some easy ideas for you to wean yourself off soda:
1) People like soda for the fizzy -- drink sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or fruit or mint.
2) Portion control -- if you're going to drink your favorite soda, drink 1/2 your normal portion. Switch to a bottled version instead of the aluminum can so you can save it for later rather than worry about finishing it because you can't save the soda in the can. (Switching away from aluminum also limits your aluminum exposure).
3) Bargain with yourself -- for every time you drink your soda, drink a glass of water--it helps dilute the sugars.
4) If you're drinking diet Coke because you're craving energy and caffeine in the afternoon, switch to an energy vitamin supplement that's GOOD for your immune system and fat-burning power instead!

Here's also the list of top 5 bad foods to stay away from. My favorite bad food is chips and you don't want the inflammation from the bad fats. Here are some alternative ideas for the crunch you're looking for:
1) Substitute crunchy chips with crunchy fruit--slice up apples and baby carrots have the crunch. They also dip well with hummus.
2) Eat fewer chips by using a dip like salsa or guacomole--never eat chips by themselves and treat them as a vehicle for healthier calories.
3) Switch to crunchy rice crackers or rye crackers -- they dip well too! Often you can find rice crackers with sesame seeds which have great nutrients.
4) Switch to baked chips-- I like the baked blue corn chips from Trader Joes.
5) Toast whole grain breads for the crunch and make yourself a real hunger-satisfying sandwich with veggies and lean protein instead of snacking.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fad Diets Slow Down Your Metabolism

I'm saddened by mass marketing that hits my inbox promoting unhealthy low-calorie plans. These quick-fix plans market quick "weight loss" but actually could damage your health and slow down your metabolism and drives sugar cravings and yo-yo dieting.

For example, Nutrisytem is promoted by the Costco emails, where their meal replacement system of shakes and high-sodium prepared meals does not teach people about nutrition or what to do at a social occasions (such as parties and restaurants). When people stop buying their meals and eat "normal" again, they gain the weight back. Yo-yo dieting.

Here's the latest one promoted by "Daily Candy" which is fun for clothes shopping tips, but this one really hurts on marketing bad eating habits--promoting Slim Fast shakes and bars that sound like candy and only *one* sensible 500 calorie meal. It makes me think of the scenes from the movie "Wall-E" of people slurping on shakes and not really eating anything healthy or fresh. Instead, we should be eating more unprocessed nutrient-dense low-glycemic food, whole grains and organic/wild fruits and veggies with lean protein. Here is an excerpt of marketing bad eating habits:

"The simple, clinically proven way to lose weight quickly includes three nourishing snacks, two shakes or meal bars (salivate over new flavors like chocolate cookie dough, chocolate fudge brownie, and rich chocolate royale), and one sensible 500-calorie meal daily."

Sure you can lose weight quickly, then what? Yo-yo back into gaining weight or hitting a wall of chronic low-energy?

Here's the science: If you eat below your RMR levels (minimum amount of calories for basic body functions--not including physical activity), you're slowing down your metabolism and telling your body to store fat instead. Calculate your individual RMR here.

Instead, we want to teach your body to burn fat. Check out how Transitions Lifestyle System is a much better option for life-long healthy eating and lifestyle choices. We teach lean body composition and how good you fit in your clothes, not just watching the number on the scale. We learn that not all calories are the same--there are healthier calories vs. calories that don't help you. Learning to do the right thing and smart food combination choices is something you can sustain for life in any social situation.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Ahead to Better Food and Health

Today, at least in California, we're changing our clocks to spring ahead. This is a great reminder that spring is around the corner and you can take charge of what you eat! Sunday is a great day to head over to your local farmer's market to get produce that is fresher than what you would find at the grocery store. Not only are you getting fresher and more interesting varieties of fruits and veggies, you have a better chance of finding organic non-GMO food that has the biodiversity that Mother Nature intended for a healthier you.

Here's the bottom line: If your food is not labeled "Organic" or "Wild", you can ask questions, but presume that it has probably been processed in ways you don't want for your health. The agricultural industry has been dominated by giants who have made their money on pesticides (Read more from a leading doctor).

While not all farmers market stands are labeled "Organic" (because it costs so much money to get the certification and the smaller farmers don't have it), you can ask if it is "No-Spray." Depending on the market, some stands are simply retailers who pick up their produce and set it up---those are likely to be conventional produce. You can strike up a conversation with people at the stand about where they grow their produce and you'll find out if they are the farmer or they are retailers.

Get your guide to eat more non-GMO produce. Why? Because there have been evidence that animals fed GMO-soy and corn have had health problems, and you don't want those problems happening to you. Get your week's worth of organic non-GMO produce from the farmer's market today and you'll have better health, simply less stress on your gut when there are fewer pesticides in your overall food.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf

March is not only Women's Herstory Month, it is also National Nutrition Month.
How can you "dine well"? Challenge yourself to see if you can cover the colors of the rainbow in a week or even a day!
Studies have shown that children who are taught to eat the colors of the rainbow learn to try new vegetables and fruits and learn to eat healthier. Here's the exercise: Write down a list of colors of the rainbow (and include brown for ginger and mushrooms) and think of the foods you like to eat. If you don't have a food you already eat, think of a food you would like to try. If it works for kids, give it a try for yourself!

One of my Transitions students is famous for her "pretty salads" where she puts a lot of color and includes nuts into her salads. Here's a link to learning how to put together your own colorful salad.

I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month