Sunday, February 26, 2017

Raid Your Kitchen: Quick Tips To Transform Your Eating Habits

February 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Nutrition

Your kitchen will make or break your eating habits.

A kitchen stocked with the makings for healthy meals and snacks will keep you on track, even when late-night cravings strike. On the flip side, a kitchen filled with unhealthy munchies will derail your weight loss efforts every single time.

So what should your cupboards hold and what should be off limits? I’ve designed this self-guided kitchen raid to help you sort out the good from the bad.

Go ahead, grab a garbage bag, print out the list below, and then head to the kitchen.

The Refrigerator
Let’s start with the fridge, the heart of your kitchen. If you find something in your fridge that is on the “Dump this” list, then you know what you have to do. Get that garbage bag ready.

Dump this: Beverages with high fructose corn syrup or sugar. Drinking calories is one of the quickest ways to gain weight, so quickly rid your fridge of any beverage that lists HFCS or sugar on the ingredient list.

Replace with: Water. It is a well known fact that most people are partially dehydrated, a condition that is harmful to your health and wreaks havoc on your weight loss efforts. Keep plenty of cold water on hand for proper hydration.

Dump this: Rich dairy products. I know that cream cheese tastes amazing, but fat-filled dairy products are extremely high in calories and should not reside in your fridge. Eliminate high-fat cheese, milk and yogurt from your kitchen.

Replace with: Fresh Vegetables. The produce drawer in your fridge should be overflowing with colorful nutrient-rich veggies. In fact, your fridge should hold more veggies than the drawer can hold. Veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and nutrients and are a vital part of a healthy well-rounded diet.

Dump this: Fatty meats. It is important that you be selective about the meats that you eat. I may tell you that chicken is a great source of protein, but if you take that as a license to eat fried chicken everyday then the benefit of the protein will be lost in all the extra fat calories.

Replace with: Lean meats. Skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, white fish – there are numerous choices when it comes to lean meats.

Dump this: Fruit-flavored yogurt. I hate to break this to you, but that cute individually packaged yogurt is going to do more harm to your waistline than you think. More than 50% of the calories in fruit-flavored yogurt come from sugar. Check out the ingredient list and you likely find both high fructose corn syrup AND sugar.

Replace with: Plain low-fat yogurt, Greek yogurt, or low-fat cottage cheese. If you love yogurt, then get the low-fat plain version. You can even chop up some fresh fruit and stir it in. Another option is to have a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese with chopped fruit on top.

The Freezer
Next let’s take a look into your freezer. Anyone who has walked the freezer aisles at the store knows how plentiful frozen temptations are. How does your freezer measure up?

Dump this: Ice cream. We may as well get this one over with. Hiding a gallon or two (or even a pint) of your favorite ice cream “for a rainy day” is NOT a good idea. Save yourself from that temptation and don’t buy ice cream.

Replace with: Frozen fruit. When your sweet tooth starts acting up, throw an assortment of frozen fruit into the blender and whip up a healthy fiber-filled smoothie.

Dump this: Frozen Pizza. This is another one of those items that is just too tempting to keep around. Why would you bother to make a healthy dinner when a frozen pizza is calling your name? Ban frozen pizza from your home and watch as your waist starts to shrink.

Replace with: Turkey or Veggie Patties. For quick dinners keep your freezer filled with lean turkey patties and veggie patties. Serve on a bed of brown rice or on a whole grain bun.

Dump this:
TV Dinners. I doubt that you need me to go into too much detail on this one. The next time that you are tempted to buy a pre-packaged frozen meal, please turn the package over and read the nutritional facts. You will be shocked by the staggering number of calories and less-than-healthy ingredients.

Replace with: Home-made Portioned Meals. Spend some time on the weekends to cook up healthy meals, and then freeze them in portioned containers. Then throughout the week you simply need to reheat and enjoy.

Dump this: Frozen Breakfast Food. French toast, waffles and pancakes are popular items in the freezer aisle. Don’t fall for the pretty photos and tasty-sounding names. These items are highly processed and contain loads of unnecessary sugar.

Replace with: Sprouted Whole Grain Bread and Muffins. It is just as easy to throw a slice of sprouted, whole grain bread into the toaster as it is a frozen waffle. Spread it with some natural peanut butter and pair it with a piece of fruit. Now that’s a much healthier breakfast.

The Pantry
Last, but not least, we come to your pantry. This may be the most painful part of your kitchen raid, since most junk food ends up here. So take a moment to give yourself a pep talk before grabbing that garbage bag and opening your pantry.

Dump this: Sugar-filled cereal. If sugar or high fructose corn syrup are listed as ingredients on your cereal box, it’s got to go. Sugar-filled cereal is basically another form of junk food, and will only add inches to your waist.

Replace with: Whole Grain Oatmeal. There is a huge difference between instant, sugar-filled oatmeal and whole grain oatmeal.
Dump this: Refined/White Bread/Rice/Pasta. These highly processed products promote weight gain and a plethora of other health problems. Do not buy “white” bread, rice or pasta – especially if you want to lose weight.

Replace with: Whole Grain Bread/Rice/Pasta. Whole grain is the best choice you can make. It is filled with healthy fiber, and is less likely to contain harmful, waist-expanding ingredients.

Dump this:
Chips/Crackers. While refined chips and crackers are fun to munch on, the extra calories will quickly add up. Do yourself a favor by not allowing these into your pantry.

Replace with: Almonds. The key to making this snack a winner is to practice portion control. Place a handful of almonds into individual bags for pre-portioned snacks.

Dump this: Packaged Sweets. I don’t really have to explain this one, do I? Cookies and cakes and candies shouldn’t be a regular part of your diet, so keep them out of your house. It’s one thing to enjoy a dessert once in a while, it is quite another to routinely eat processed sweets at home.

Replace with: Dried Fruit. When you want to munch on something sweet, turn to a bag of dried fruit. Make sure that you purchase dried fruit that does not contained added sugars.

That completes your self-guided kitchen raid. I encourage you to raid your kitchen every couple of months as a way of keeping yourself on track. Talk with your family members about the healthy changes that you’re making, and try to get everyone’s support.

You know that weight loss comes as a result of healthy eating and consistent, challenging workouts. Call or email today to get started on a fitness program that will get you on the fast-track to your best body ever.

Photo: Flickr

BONUS: Shop Your Way Thin
Here’s your grocery shopping cheat-sheet. Take this with you as a reminder of what to buy and what not to buy.

Don’t buy food items that:

Are filled with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Are highly processed and contain unidentifiable ingredients.
Are full of fat.

Do buy:
Whole, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Whole grains.
Lean proteins.

Cold Season: Amped Up Chicken Soup To The Rescue

February 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Recipes

Cold and flu season is here full force, and of course one of the most popular remedies is good ol fashion chicken soup. While we all have our favorite variations, Clean Plates recently wrote about an amped up version full of nutrients and flavor.

 

chicken soup kelp

 

Help for Soup (and Your Soul)
Amp up chicken soup with this umami-packed veggie of the sea.
Kelp, an edible seaweed (also called kombu) is a staple of Japanese cuisine, and for good reason. Not only is kelp chock-full of nutrients and vitamins, but it packs tons of umami flavor, says Hiroko Shimbo, chef and author of the IACP award-winning cookbook Hiroko’s American Kitchen.

In Japanese, the meaning of umami, that elusive fifth flavor, approximates to “delicious.” And kelp’s umami flavor “to me tastes the ‘cleanest,'” says Shimbo.
Shimbo recommends using kelp stock in place of chicken stock or water as the base for soups or as a braising liquid. The next time you make chicken soup, try this: simmer your leftover roast organic chicken in kelp stock instead of chicken stock or water, and you’ll have some of the richest, most nourishing, and most savory soups you’ve ever tasted.

Kelp stock is easy to make and keep on hand, as you’ll see in Shimbo’s recipe here. Best of all the chlorophyll-filled kelp is jam-packed with nutrients, including vitamins B, C, and E, soluble and insoluble fiber, plus iodine, calcium, and magnesium—a soulful spoonful for sure!

Clean Plates bonus: Kelp stock will give extra oomph to your vegetable soups, too. For a recent demo at the farmers’ market, Shimbo improvised a beet, miso, and kelp soup, recipe here. “Some people said ‘Oh, I don’t like miso,’ and some said, ‘I don’t like beets,’ but when they tasted this soup, they all said, ‘Wow-wow.’” We bet you will, too.

 

Top Photo: Clean Plates.

Five Foods With Benefits

February 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Nutrition

 

You may not realize it but some very simple changes could yield huge results. Clean eating can do wonders for your weight, skin, metabolism, and have you feeling re-energized and better than ever. Candice Kumai introduces us to her “Five badass foods with benefits” that will have you looking and feeling great.

Eat better, eat cleaner and reap all the free benefits.

Five Foods With Benefits:

1- Arugula: Let me give you a style update here. Iceberg and Romaine are so over dressed, change up that pantry.. opt for darker colors this season. The darker the leaf the more nutrient dense baby. In regards to greenery, dark is in… light is out.

2- Rainbow Swiss Chard: Besides being stylishly colorful and delicious, Swiss chard packs on mega amounts of Vitamins A, C and K. Along with copious amounts of manganese, magnesium and iron. If you don’t know how to cook the darn stuff? Well click here for a video that aims to please: How to Cook with Swiss chard?

3- Sardines: Dr Oz once explained to me what “leptin” levels were… levels that control your FAT.  Keep them in check with more omega rich foods, Sardines are our top pick! Plus they are SO frickin’ delicious, sustainable and cheap. Get smart(er). Consume more sardines.

4- Berries: Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, currants, strawberries, raspberries! And no, I’m not talking about Captain Crunch Berries either. Berries are a spark of delight from childhood: handfuls, bowls with yogurt and a sprinkle of granola, sounds delightful! The most fantastic part about consuming these little bits of heaven? They contain plenty of vitamin C, E and antioxidants and can also help in keeping your skin smooth and sexy by helping your body with the natural manufacturing of collagen.

5- Quinoa:If you really want to fill up on one of the world’s perfect foods? This complete protein is the Inca’s secret to life longevity. With amino acids, protein and it’s gluten free!? Well, then sir, I’ll check out this interesting looking grain. You’ll be swapping from wasted cous-cous in no time.

Whole Foods Winter Warm Up: Quinoa and Beef Meatballs

February 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Recipes

I recently came across this whole foods recipe for quinoa and beef meatballs and knew I had to try them. First of all, I love quinoa and all it’s healthy benefits, and secondly, my toddler seems to be addicted to pasta and meatballs, so any way that I can make them healthier helps. These contain chopped veggies (zucchini, carrots and onion) which sneakily kick up the nutrition even more.  They turned out delicious, and it’s a recipe I will definitely go back to.

 

quinoa beef meatballs

Ingredients
1 pound (95-percent) lean ground beef
3/4 cup cooked quinoa (use frozen 365 Everyday Value® Organic Quinoa, or cook it from scratch*)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup grated zucchini
2 tablespoons ketchup (I didn’t have any so just threw in a few tablespoons of crushed tomato)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce (some people substitute amino acids instead)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well combined. Shape into 16 balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Roast until cooked through and golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Serve hot.

(*Note: To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in ½ cup quinoa, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside off of the heat for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Use 3/4 cup in this recipe, and reserve the remaining for another use.)

Nutritional Info:
PER SERVING:150 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 17g protein
Special Diets:
Dairy Free
Sugar Conscious

 

Top Photo: Whole Foods

Winter Warmup: Brodo – A New Kind of Hot Beverage

January 29, 2017 by  
Filed under City Food Finds, Featured, Latest, Nutrition

brodo east village

Put down that coffee cup. If you’re looking for a winter warm up pass up Starbucks and head to Brodo instead. If you haven’t heard already, broth is the hottest superfood this winter, and it’s being served up daily at this East Village takeout window (attached to the restaurant Hearth), AND now you can visit their newest location in the West Village!

Simmered for 18 hours, the drinks contain amino acids and minerals like magnesium, calcium and gelatin (all of which fight inflammation, boost digestive health and even help your hair and nails grow). You can choose from organic chicken, grass-fed beef or the signature house blend (a hearty mixture of turkey, chicken and beef), and make your brew even better with add-in options like ginger, chili oil and freshly grated turmeric.

Brodo, we’re feeling you.

 

brodo

 

Snow Day! Perfect Time For Baking & Hot Cocoa

January 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Recipes

 Snowy days always conjure up visions of baking up some delicious cozy treat and pairing it with a steamy cup of hot cocoa. I made these tasty scones last weekend for a brunch with my girlfriends, but today’s chilly weather has me wishing I had a few leftover to nibble on. A good book, a warm scone with a dab of raspberry butter and a cup of cocoa and I’m all set.
*scones are sitting in my grandmother’s super-chic, vintage white serving dish. the black fruit bowl is from Apartment 48.

Whole Wheat Lemon-Raspberry Scones with Raspberry Butter
makes about 18-20 scones

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (total oxymoron right? it’s true buttermilk is LOW in fat and calories!!)
1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries (or blueberries or 1 cup fresh cranberries)
Raspberry Butter
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted sweet cream butter, bring to room temperature
1/2 pint raspberries
2 tsp sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in lemon zest.
3. Add butter and mix together with fingers until you get a coarse meal. Add in buttermilk and mix together, the dough will be moist and semi-clumpy. Add in the raspberries last, they break a little as you’re kneading the dough and may turn the dough a tad pink (hey, at least it’s pretty!).
4. On a lightly floured surface or counter top, knead the dough a few times and then form a wide circle or oval about 1 inch thick. Use a round or square glass to cut-out sections of the dough (think cookie cutter action) and place them on
the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
5. Bake about 25-30 minutes. Brush tops of scones with a dab of buttermilk and sprinkle lightly with demura sugar.
Raspberry Butter
Heat raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan at medium-high heat and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Mix raspberries and butter in small dish until well-blended.


Hot Cocoa (with a kick!)

serves 2

*note: yes, cocoa can be calorie-heavy, but keep portions small and go for low-fat milk and you’re good to go…and you’ll get a nice dose of calcium to boot!
2 1/2 cups low-fat or skim milk
4 Tbsp hot cocoa mix (or drinking chocolate) *I personally LOVE Guittard’s drinking chocolate, it’s totally worth the caloric-indulgence
1 1/2 Tbsp bourbon
1 1/2 Tbsp Bailey’s Irish cream
Heat milk over medium heat and stir in cocoa mix. Whisk continuously and bring to a simmer/low-boil. Remove from heat and add in bourbon and Bailey’s. Serve…with a tiny dollop of whipped cream if you’re seeking serious indulgence on a wintry day!

Fall Crush: Concord Grapes

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Nutrition

What’s the first teeny tiny sign that autumn is here? For me, it’s most definitely the arrival of concord grapes at the greenmarket. These little fall gems burst with sweetness like mini candy bombs on your taste buds (not to mention they’re packed with fiber and antioxidants). I’ll confidently confirm they’re my current gastronomic obsession and make a perfect afternoon snack, morning pick-me-up, a simple dessert. Or get a bit more adventurous and turn those grapes into a gorgeous chutney with some port wine, a jammy reduction to drizzle over yogurt (or even over lamb or pork) or a icy smooth sorbet with lemon and thyme.

And to take my obsession a tad further, I’m also loving the striped Japanese ceramic bowl pictured above — a lucky find at Broome St. General Store in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood. The bowl rocks, and so does the store.

Check out this great Concorde Grape Reduction Recipe which can be drizzled over granola and yogurt. Such a yummy way to start the day!

Hooked On Caffeine? 3 HEALTHY Pick-Me-Ups.

September 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Nutrition

Forget relying on Starbucks, Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy to get you through the day. There are solutions to feeling tired all the time and they don’t involve unnatural caffeine boosts. Here are three totally easy ways to give yourself a natural energy boost, while providing your body with crucial vitamins and minerals.

1. Wheatgrass Shot – it gives you INSTANT results. It is subtle but extremely potent. After you take a wheatgrass shot, which you can find at any Jamba Juice, Whole Foods, or juicing place, you will suddenly find yourself more focused, multi tasking effectively, and ready to run miles.  My favorite NYC spots to get a quick shot include Juice generation (locations all over) and Liquiteria in the East Village.

2. Coconut Water – it contains lots of natural electrolytes. Low energy is a sign of potential dehydration, so hydrating your body will totally change your energy levels. You will quickly feel the needed relief for dry mouth with a sip of some coco water.

3. Brown Rice – it has complex carbs that give you the energy you need. Add some to your salad, soup, or have it as a small side for lunch, and you will have lasting energy throughout the day. Your body needs fiber and starch to push you in the right direction.

Incorporating these foods regularly will give you sustainable energy. You will find yourself jumping out of bed every morning, and not because you are late for work, but because you have the energy to do it. This is where the losing weight by accident comes in. Low energy is your metabolism’s way of asking for a pick me up, and when you feed it the right kinds of foods, guess what happens, increased metabolism baby!


4 Reasons To Wake Up To Grapefruit!

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Nutrition

If you’ve ever wondered why some looneytunes people go on a thing called “The Grapefruit Diet”, well it’s simply because they are loca… No, really you should never just opt out for a sole grapefruit diet, that’s called insanity. But you should learn a few mean things about this killer, nutrient-loaded fruit… because it will keep you hot forever!

Grapefruits are:

–       Loaded with cancer fighting antioxidants and lycopene

–       Packed with vitamin C and even some fiber, vitamin A and potassium

–       Help boost your slow, sluggish and bored to death metabolism!

–       Can help naturally detoxify your body with phytonutrients like limonoids

Hey, get with it…  it’s NOT about purchasing some sick chalky, diet-chemical laden shake, a bar that advertises to keep you thin or a pre-packaged frozen lean meal…it’s about REAL foods with bennies! Benefits, that tis… keep it sexy yo.

Word up xxck

Need A Cool Off? Eat Fruit!

August 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest, Nutrition


A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity, optimum weight, abundant energy and balance. By using fruit to satisfy our taste for sweetness, we can leave behind the use of chemical, processed and refined sweeteners.fruitFruits are easy to digest, are cleansing and cooling and are great for those who are overstressed and overheated from excessive mental strain or hot climates. Fruits are filled with fiber and liver stimulants, which act as natural, gentle laxatives. Whenever possible, buy fresh, locally grown fruit as opposed to imported fruits shipped from far-off places. This keeps you eating in season, and more in harmony with your environment and climate.


Eating raw fruit in summer months is highly cooling, while baking it in the winter months neutralizes the cooling effect. Fruit in the form of juice is a great choice for cleansing the body, but be aware that juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash soon after. Frozen, whole, puréed or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats. Try frozen grapes, banana-coconut smoothie popsicles or lime juice ice-cubes in iced tea!

 

Here are a few summer fruits and their health benefits:

 

Apricots: Great for lung conditions and asthma; used to help treat anemia due to their high copper and cobalt content.

bananas

Bananas: Help to lubricate the intestines, treat ulcers, detoxify the body and manage sugar cravings; are rich in potassium (which helps hypertension).

Cherries: Slightly warming in nature; increase overall body energy, remedy arthritis and rheumatism and are rich in iron, which improves the blood.

Grapefruits: Treat poor digestion, increase appetite during pregnancy, alleviate intestinal gas and reduce mucus conditions of the lungs.

Papayas: Tone the stomach, act as digestive aid, moisten the lungs and alleviate coughing; contain carpaine, an anti-tumor compound.

Raspberries: Benefit the liver and kidneys, cleanse blood of toxins, regulate menstrual cycles, treat anemia and can promote labor at childbirth.

Top photo: Flickr

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