Aphrodisiac Foods to Help get You in the Mood

An aphrodisiac is a substance such as food, drink, drug or scent that induces or rumpled sheetsarouses feelings of sexual desire.  Aphrodisiacs can stimulate a lagging libido or set the mood of your mind and body to help you achieve greater sexual health and functioning.  Now the research out there on foods actual effects on sexual function and performance are scare, however research does show that the healthier you are overall the healthier your sex-life will be.  So I have included some healthy behaviors as well as some foods that could help your next tumble.

  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol will increase function and health.
  • Getting in at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week will also lead to increased testosterone. (testosterone also control’s females sex drive)

exercise1

Keeping your fluid in control and maintaining your dry weight will decrease swelling and shortness of breath.

Here are some foods that can help boost your mood:

  • Eggs – A great source of amino acids that help increase blood flow through blood vessels.
  • Peaches- The high vitamin C level has been shown to increase sperm peachescount and reduce clumping all while boosting immune function.  This is included in your renal vitamin; ask your doctor if you are not on a renal multivitamin.
  • CayenneChilePepperChile Peppers- The chemical that makes peppers spicy can also help with circulation, getting your blood pumping.  It also can stimulate nerve endings to aid in arousal.
  • Oysters- High in zinc, which can aid in testosterone production.
  • Salmon- Packed full of omega-3, this fish helps to maintain sex-hormone production.
  • Vanilla- Adding a little vanilla to your dishes can stimulate nerves, increasing sensation and pleasure.

vanilla-with-flower-700-web

Why Is My New Year’s Resolution Always The Same?

new-years-resolution-appleAt the end of December each year, I reflect back over the previous year looking at the highs and lows; the goals I set and didn’t accomplish along with the ones I did achieve.  Somehow my mind always wanders to my body or my body image and I reflect on the previous year’s goals.  The majority of the time they involve going to the gym and eating better and 90% of time I haven’t come close to meeting them.  And as inconceivable as it sounds I find myself making the exact same New Year’s resolution I wasn’t able to accomplish last year, again!

Does this sound familiar?  Many people find themselvesnew-years-resolutions-204044-530-569 stuck in this exact same loop, making the same New Year’s resolutions year after year.  In fact the top 10 New Years resolutions have to do with weight, the gym, and health. Do these sound familiar:  ‘I will work out at least three times a week, I will not eat any desserts, I will lose 10 pounds, I will get a six-pack, I won’t eat after 8pm, I will go to sleep by midnight, etc.’ Most of us enter the new year determined to achieve our goals of hitting the gym or watching what we eat, but why don’t the changes ever last through march?

Why? Because most New Year’s resolutions are emotionless and without any motivating or driving force behind them.

To change a behavior or a daily habit for a week or two is easy, however it is  incredibly difficult to sustain that change over a long period time or for the rest of your life if you don’t have a good reason to do it (and knowing youcalvin-and-hobbes should do it, isn’t a good enough reason for most of us).  Everyone knows they should exercise and eat better, but most of us don’t.  You go to the doctor and they tell you to watch the salt or to steer clear of fast food, but inevitably you go right back into those habits after the shock from the visit wears off.  So how do you make a New Year’s resolution that sticks? Make it personal and important.

So if you want to change your behavior or lifestyle here are some steps that can help you start 2013 off on the right track.

1.  Think of a New Year’s resolution and write it down. Example: I want to have better blood sugar control.

2.  Look at the resolution and ask yourself why it is important to you?  List your reasons.  Example: I want to live a long time and watch my son graduate high school, I don’t want to lose my toes or feet, I watched my mother die from the disease and I don’t want to go through the same thing.

3.  Now I want you to rate your reasons (1 being the most important, 10 being the least). Example: 1) My son’s graduation, 2) Don’t want my Moms end of life, 3) I want to keep my toes.

4.  Now that we have solid and important reasons to change our behavior and achieve our goal, I want you to think about how you can go about it, what will I have to change on a daily or weekly basis to make the goal work.  Write down ways you can meet your goals and be very detailed.  Example:  I will put out my finger sticks by the bedside table so I can test by blood sugar right when I wake up.  I will make an appointment with a dietitian to make a meal plan.  I will keep a log of my sugars every day.  I will switch from juice to diet soda.

5.  Excellent work, now we not only have a reason to make our change, but we have a detailed plan on how we are going to do it!  What is left?  How about some rewards?  Set-up some mini-mile stones and rewards (not food related) when you meet them.  This will help that motivation continue through the year until it becomes routine.  Example: I will take my family ice skating if my blood sugar stays below 200 for one month.  If I keep my blood sugar below 180 for three months I get to book my summer vacation. 

Remember you can make goals and revise goals throughout the year and use the same method to meet them.   So what are you waiting for?  Get started on your New Year’s resolution now and have the faith and belief that this time you are knocking it out of the ball park!

If-you-want-to-live-a-happy-life-tie-it-to-a-goal.-Not-to-people-or-things-Albert-Einstein

Fresh Food for Fall

The time has come to grab a basket and head out to your nearest farmers market or grocery store because we have reached the season for FRESH fruits and vegetables.  Fall is a great time to fill your crisper and kitchen counter with great tasting fruits and vegetables for your family.  Here are a couple of my favorite fall veggies to spice up the season and some reasons why you should include them on your plate.

Broccoli:  When it comes to a super food, broccoli has the title knocked out of the park.  It is a member of the cabbage family that packs a might vitamin C punch.  Eating only one cup of raw broccoli provides more than double your daily need for the vitamin!  Broccoli is packed with cancer fighting phytochemicals, reducing the risk of many common caners.  But wait that isn’t all.  Broccoli has calcium to help maintain strong bones and is full of folic acid aiding in the prevention of birth defects.  Serving broccoli raw or steamed helps keep all those nutrients trapped inside the floret to deposit in your body.

 Brussels sprouts: Another cancer fighting food and member of the cabbage family, it is great for its fiber content.  It has equal parts soluble and insoluble fiber, helping to decrease that bad cholesterol while keeping you regular!  Now like most vegetables Brussels sprouts are low in fat and calories, however they are rather high in protein! Only 24 calories in a half cup of cooked sprouts.  So add some quinoa or other whole grain to make a protein packed meal without adding any animal products.

Cranberries:  What is Thanksgiving without a bowl of cranberry sauce? But why should you eat these berries more often?  They are full of antioxidants, protecting cells from cancer causing agents.  They can help prevent plaque from forming on your teeth and can help decrease the cause of stomach cancer and ulcers by binding with bacteria.  With that bacteria binding power, some research shows they aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections!

Pumpkins:  It isn’t fall without a friendly jack-o-lantern smiling at you!  But pumpkins are not only useful for your front porch, they are full of antioxidants.  Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A, which aids in skin integrity and vision and helps protect your body against some cancers.  And don’t forget those seeds!  Pumpkin seeds are a good source of fiber and healthy mono-unsaturated fat which are both heart helping food components.

Spinach: Great in early fall, spinach is a great source of vitamin K and vitamin A, as well as folate, magnesium and iron.  Research shows that spinach can help to reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including stomach, prostate, and skin.  It can also act as an anti-inflammatory to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with asthma, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. When shopping for spinach, look for firm, crisp, deep green leaves. Spinach is great as a base for salads, delicious when added to soups or casseroles to provide bulk.  I like to add spinach into my pasta sauces, on pizza, and in sandwiches instead of lettuce.

So what are you waiting for?  Run to the store and start whipping up some of these delicious vegetables and fruit to have fresh super healthy foods in your diet.  What is your favorite fall recipe?

Check out this post on Health Bytes: http://healthbytesnyc.com/uncategorized/fresh-for-fall/

Full of Fiber!

Your doctor, nurse practitioner, or nutritionist may have recommended that you eat more fiber.  But why?  What is all the fuss about?  Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.  It is the part of the food that is not digested or absorbed (calorie free).  Instead fiber works hard to move food through our intestines and assists the body in eliminating waste products.  There are two forms of fiber, insoluble and soluble.  Most people, when they hear fiber think constipation, which is one excellent component.  Insoluble fiber found in green beans, dark green leafy vegetables, whole wheat products, wheat bran, and fruit and vegetable skins works to keep you regular and your colon moving.  It is your gut buster and constipation salvation!  Insoluble fiber stays mostly intact as it travels through your body, bulking and softening the stool as it moves along, decreasing your chances of constipation.  It is important when eating fiber to drink plenty of water; water is fibers sidekick in moving stool.

The second form of fiber is soluble fiber, which is found in oats, oat bran, nuts, ground flax seeds, beans, peas, barley, citrus fruits, apples, carrots, and psyllium husk.  Soluble fiber gets broken down in the intestines and turns into a sticky goo.  This soluble fiber gel slows down the time it takes the stomach to empty its contents, allowing sugars to be absorbed more slowly.  This is extremely important in diabetics, to help prevent huge blood sugar spikes after eating.   Soluble fiber also lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), reducing your risk for heart disease.

By adding more fiber into your diet you will not only become regular, but you will have better blood sugar control and will decrease your risk for heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Ways to increase fiber in your day.  Start your morning off with a high-fiber cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving, look for bran or fiber in the name.  Choose whole wheat or whole grain breads with at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.  Pick brown rice or pasta when cooking and add in some extra vegetables; spice up a pasta sauce with some spinach.  When baking, substitute all or some of the white flour with wheat flour, just make sure you add more water or milk to the recipe.  When reaching for a snack pick-up some raw veggies, fresh fruit, hummus, or some fat free popcorn.  And remember to accompany fiber with a glass of water.

I sneaky, low calorie, and delicious way to add fiber and veggies into your day is making a vegetable Tapenade.  A tapenade is a spread or dip of roasted veggies, great on sandwiches instead of mayo or dip in.

Recipe to be added soon:)

 

 

 

Check out this post on NYC’s Healthy Bytes website: http://healthbytesnyc.com/nutrition/full-of-fiber/

Crazy about Nuts!

You hear about nuts in the media; from advertising telling you they are high calorie, high fat belly bombs to captions proclaiming them as missing manna from heaven.  I’m going to crack open the research and information to provide you with the skinny on nuts.

First and foremost let’s take a minute to appreciate the wonderful ways to enjoy nuts! Hmm mmm  delish!  Nuts are a fantastic addition to salad, chopped up for pesto, baked in pies, sprinkled on casseroles, puréed for dips, or chopped up for German Chocolate Cake… oh my the list is endless when it comes to adding nuts to dishes.   A fantastic feature of nuts is that they require no enhancements; they are delicious on their own, they can be taken right out of the shell and popped into your mouth.

So why are nuts so delicious?

Well…because they are made up mostly of fat! Oh no the dreaded word!  That’s right folks; nuts are a great source of fat.  Check out my article on the properties and types of fat, to understand not only the need for fat, but healthy properties that fat provides.

Fat accounts for roughly 50-70% of the weight of nuts, however the amount of saturated fat (bad fat) is extremely low 4-15%, the rest of the fat is made up of healthy useful fats our body can use.  Walnuts have the highest amount of healthy omega 6 fat, so if you need a boost grab them first.

What else do nuts provide?

Walnuts, followed closely by pecans, have the highest amount of flavanoids!  What is a flavanoid? Sounds like something you might find in your nasal cavity.  Well a flavanoid is a type of antioxidant that aids in lowering cholesterol!!  Antioxidants are super food compounds that fight against cancer, heart disease, and work to maintain the health of your entire body!

So why choose nuts when they are high in calories?

Nuts are energy dense, meaning a lot goes a long way.  They will fill you up long before a package of chips or cookies will.  Nuts are high in fiber!! And if you know me, you know I love anything high in fiber! Fiber is your friend and fights against most common diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and old constipation!  Let’s not forget that they are packed full of antioxidants!

Common nuts include walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts, Macadamia, brazilnuts,  cashews, chestnuts, Pinenuts, etc.

So, what are you waiting for?  Go have a snack

~A snack of nuts should be about 10-20nuts for 100-200calories

The larger the nut the higher the calories, so watch out for those brazilnuts!

What is your favorite nut?

Breaking Down FAT

What makes a donut, fettucini alfredo, peanut butter and that picture of cheese cakes mouth watering and delicious you can’t get enough?  Fat!! They all contain a lot of fat; that’s right folks that dreaded 3 letter word, F-A-T.  And fat tastes good:)  Some of you might say, wait Kristina fat is bad, that means high calories, increased waist line, tears!   Why are you talking about fatty foods, shouldn’t we avoid them all?  Well my friend, let me start by telling you that fat is not ‘bad,’ in fact fat is an essential component of your diet; 20-30% of a diet should be made up of fat.  Now after saying this, I must put in a small caveat, fat is not created equal.  Saturated fat, the kind you find in butter, coconut oil, cream, chocolate and in animal products, provides us with high calories, but not much else… you might call it the insulating fat!  In that it is great for putting inches to your waist and keeping you warm from the cold, however provides little other nutrition quality!  Small amounts are fine, but you do not want this to be your primary source of fat, research shows that diets high in saturated fat increase the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and possibly some forms of cancer.  So watch the sat fat!

So if 30% of our diet needs to come from fat and sat fat seems rather evil what do I eat? Excellent question, which leads us to unsaturated fats.

CHEMISTRY BREAK

Because I was (and quite possibly still am) a chemistry nerd, you have the honor of suffering through a small chemistry lesson.  What does saturated versus unsaturated mean?  (I know everyone is asking this question)  This has to do with chemical bonds! (A bond is the link between two elements, think periodic table)

For example: water’s (H2O) structure looks like this, H-O-H,  with two elements of hydrogen and one of oxygen joined together with dashes.  The  ‘-‘is the bond.

Saturated fats have only single bonds, one ‘-‘between elements.

Unsaturated fats have two bonds, think equal sign, ‘=’.

For example:  formaldehyde (CH2O), that smelly embalming fluid, looks like this O=C-2Hs.  The oxygen has a double bond with the carbon.

So the difference between the fats is the bonding!  Unsaturated fat has an ‘=’ whereas sat fat only gets ‘-‘s.

Back to the fat!

Unsaturated fats like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, safflower, corn, sunflower, soy, and cottonseed oils have those double bonds and do not react in our body the same their fat brother, saturated fat, does.    You can call them the healthy fats or the unsat is the better fat!

There are two forms of unsaturated fat, poly-unsaturated fat and mono-unsaturated fat.   Any guesses on the difference??   Ohh you smarty pants, I know you said number of double bonds!  That’s right.  Mono, meaning one or sole, refers to a single double bond i.e. one ‘=’ sign.  Poly, meaning multiple or many, has more than one double bond.

Monounsaturated fat is found in nuts, olives, olive oil, avocados, whole grain wheat, oatmeal, and many other foods.  Eaten in moderation, it has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and thus lowers total cholesterol and prevents heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts, seeds, fish, algae, leafy greens, and an assortment of other foods.   Polyunsaturated fats are affected by heat and processing; so eating whole food sources is always best.    Polyunsaturated is the parent of our popular omega 3 and omega 6 fats.

Omega 3 fats, found in our aquatic friends, fish, has been shown to lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and research is showing a possible protective effect against breast cancer reoccurrence.  This leads to the recommendation of at least one fish meal a week or for the vegetarian a fish oil supplement!

Omega-6 is found in palm, soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower oils.  There are still many controversies over the benefits or harm of this fat, so I cannot tell you to avoid or ingest a specific amount.  Moderation in all things, stick to monounsaturated fat (olive oil) as your go to cooking fat of choice.

You may be saying to yourself, hey Kristina, you left out a fat!  And you are right.  Let’s talk about the infamous Trans fat!  It went from being the magic ingredient in almost all processed foods to the unhealthiest additive on the market!  But why?  How is trans fat different from the other fats.  Well, I guess we need one more chemistry review.

Watch Out More Chemistry Ahead!

Trans fat belongs in the unsaturated fat family, i.e. has one of those pesty double bonds “=”!  Its full name is trans unsaturated fat, trans fat is just easier to say.

So you are saying there is good and bad unsaturated fat? What gives?  Let’s begin with understanding what trans fat means.  The word trans has to do with the location of the hydrogens surrounding the double bond.  That make any sense?  Hmm let’s start from the beginning.

So fat is made up a chain of carbons and hydrogens.  A carbon is allowed four bonds or four ‘-‘s.  So if you were to write a ‘C’ on a paper, then place two H’s, one north and one south of the C and two more C’s, one east and west of that C, draw a bond, ‘-,‘ to each H and C you would have our saturated fat.  And looks like a row of C’s with H’s as the bun.  The C is filled up with single bonds and there are no equal signs.

Now if we had a unsaturated fat we need a double bond, “=,” which is made up of two lines, we now only have room for 2 more H’s.  So on that paper where you drew the saturated fat, let’s draw a unsaturated fat.  So draw two C’s with an equal sign linking them (C=C) on the paper, draw one H directly above each C.  Link the H to the C with one bond ‘-‘ and voila we have a our typical unsaturated fat !

Some of you might say, yea so what?  Why are you talking about all of this stuff… well my friends, what you have just drawn with the H’s above the C’s is the cis unsaturated fat (these are the ones I talked about above, the mono and poly-unsaturated fat).  Cis, refers to the H’s being on the same side.  This brings us to Trans fats, this is where the H’s are on opposite sides of the C.  See the below picture.

Trans fat are almost nonexistent in the natural word (a small amount is found in milk), they are created.  Scientist found a way to blast the regular unsaturated fat structure, where the H’s were neighbors, to one where the H’s are enemies!  This small change in the structure causes a catastrophic change in our body.  We do not digest this fat the same we digest other fats, it acts a little bit like a saturated fat as well as uniquely evil human body hating agent at the same time.

Trans fat increases the risk of heart disease by raising the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels similar to sat fat AND lowers HDL (good) cholesterol.  It has a double trigger in clogging up those arteries! You might considerate a wee bit evil as far as hurting your body.

You find trans fats in hydrogenated oils and Crisco, which are used in most snack, boxed, and processed foods (take look at labels in your kitchen, you might be surprised).   My recommendation…  avoid the fat.  There is absolutely no reason to eat it and many reasons not to eat it, like your for health.  (This does not count the natural occurring trans fat in milk, its special and not inherently evil like the one we create in labs)

Fat Recap

So I have covered a lot of information and some of it can be extremely confusing so I will make a quick recap.

  1. Sat Fat- not stellar, increases bad cholesterol, found in animal products, coconut oils, etc.  Use sparingly.
  2. Mono unsaturated fat- favorite fat! Our go-to cholesterol lowering, kick ass fat! Found in olive oil, whole grains, avocados, etc.
  3. Polyunsaturated fat- Omega 3 is fishtastic! Eat it J, at least 1 meal a week, but go for 3!  Great health benefits
  4. Trans fat = devil. Avoid Avoid!  Increases bad cholesterol, decreases good cholesterol.  Wants you to have a heart attack.

As always I love hearing comments and receiving questions from readers! So don’t hesitate, write something, was this helpful at all?

The Art of Snacking

I recently attended a panel discussion on snack trends in US women.   What I found interesting from the panel was the topic of people feeling embarrassed when they snack or the feeling that snacking is something to avoid.   Snacking is a component in the majority of people’s day, as it should be, especially if a person is looking to lose way.  Today I am spending moment to break down snacking and hopefully dissuade anyone from feeling guilty or uncomfortable when they have one.

What is a snack?  If you were to ask the person sitting next to you what they had for a snack you are likely to receive a milieu of different answers from having a cup of coffee to bag of chips to a piece of chicken.  I’m going to define a snack as a session of eating a small amount of food, 100-200calories.

Why to snack?  Everyone should eat every 3-4 hours.  This means that you may or may not need a snack or multiple snacks a day depending on the structure and length of your day.  Research shows that if you eat every 3-4 hours you are also less likely to over eat later in the day, you avoid having that ravenous feeling at dinner (especially important for anyone trying to lose weight).  We have all had the time when you get home from work starving, eat anything and everything in sight and still feel like you want food, despite your body being full.  Snacking is the #1 prevention of this problem.

When do I add a snack? If you were to have breakfast at 8, lunch around 12, and dinner at 4 and in bed by 8 you would not need a snack in your day.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who lives on those times, except maybe my 95 year old grandmother.   Your day should start off with breakfast, and no a latte does not count.  If you can eat lunch 4 hours after that then you do not need a snack.  If you can’t then you want to add one in.  The majority of people need to add a snack in the afternoon.  We are working longer hours and the time between lunch and dinner can be 6-7 hours apart.  A snack is clearly indicated here: having lunch at noon, but not getting home till 7pm to have dinner.

How to set up your snack times?  Take out a sheet of paper and a pen, write down the time you wake up, when you generally have breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Look at the amount of time between the meals, if it is greater than 4 hours you need to add snack.  Presto-Bingo, you have your snack schedule set up!  If you are at work, set a pop-up reminder for your snack time, this way you don’t have to worry about remembering.

What does a snack look like?  Now that we have the time scheduled for a snack, what should the snack be?  For most people it should be between 100-200 calories. That’s right a snack is not a large meal, but a bump along the way to ensure your body has the energy to get through day before you can have a full well-rounded meal.

Examples:

  • ~100-200 nuts (not salted or honey roasted)
  • ~Yogurt and fruit
  • ~Piece of toast w/ peanut butter
  • ~Hummus and veggies or a piece of pita (red pepper slices, celery, carrots all delish to dip!)
  • ~Piece of fruit
  • ~Trisects/whole grain crackers
  • ~Chocolate milk (great for after a workout)
  • ~LARA bar, Pro Bar, or other snack bars (Best to choose ones that have only whole ingredients listed)

To be a successful snacker, planning is key.   You not only need to know when you are going to have your snacks, but what they will be composed of.  If you don’t bring one in, where are you going to get a healthy snack?  Plan on planning to forget to bring a snack with you.  Keep a box bars in your desk or yogurt in a fridge.  Know what stores are around and who has good options for you.  PLANNING is necessary!

As usual, if you have any questions or comments post away.  Share snacks that you find enjoyable!

Tis the Season for Overeating!

It is that time of year! For festive family gatherings, some cutthroat snow ball fights, and a helping of over indulging!  Research shows that people average a 1 pound weight gain during the holidays.  Now that doesn’t seem too alarming, one pound… can use that New Year’s resolution of going to the gym everyday to burn that off in no time.  Unfortunately the research continues to say that this one pound stays on your body for the rest of the year, so slowly but surely that extra intake in December is adding a little extra to your waist line!  But have no fear there are some simple solutions and strategies to avoid needing bore a new whole in the belt.

                Feasts:  Many times over the holiday season you may be cooking, participating, and/or attending large gatherings where the sole purpose is it to make and eat as much delicious food as possible with family, friends, coworkers, etc.  These are wonderful events to reconnect, relax, and have fun; they can also be great places to overeat.  Some tips:  always have a snack before going!  I know some of you are shouting WHAT! But I have been fasting all day to eat everything I want at that meal.  Sadly, your body does not find this to be a wise plan.   Our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomach and our stomach requires more time to tell our brain we are full then it takes to eat 2-3 plates of food.

So before you head off to eat your fill, have some apple and cheese slices, hummus and veggies/pita, or a couple of dates and nuts.  I’m not saying to eat an entire meal, but some food that allows you to no longer feel starving.  Never go hungry to a dinner party!

Shopping:  Been to a mall lately??  They are mad houses, everyone dashing around the city trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on their shopping list.  Well yes, this can burn calories; unfortunately it opens you up to losing your personal time where you might have relaxed or exercised and creates an environment that makes easier to grab fast-food treats.  Solutions?  PLAN! Just like you made a list of gifts before starting your shopping excursion make a snack or two to bring with you on your trip.  So when the shopping gets tough and the lines are atrocious you can pull out a snack designed to make you healthy person.  Don’t give yourself the opportunity of picking up a warm pretzel, slice of pizza, or heaven forbid a Cinnabon.  With planning comes peace and success in weight loss and weight management during this season.

Think outside when you think gifts:  The holidays are a great time for family and friends to spend time together.  Buy gifts that involve being outside or moving.  Get a pogo stick for a kid, heck or even for an adult, I bet everyone will want to try it!  Put a hula-hoop or jump rope in a stocking… Think outside of the box.  Get airplanes that you have to shoot off in parks, which require you to fetch the plane when it lands far away!  Steer clear of the video/electronic/game system games that require little to no activity!  The holidays can be a time where the whole family is active together.  If it is snowy sledding, skating, heck snow angels are great ways to pass an afternoon!  Nothing says the holidays quite like watching football, how about arranging a fun pick-up game during half-time or before the game begins to get everyone excited!  Make your holidays filled with activity and your extra calorie intake will be balanced by your increased level of fun!

Be conscious!  The last tip I will leave you with is to be mindful of what you eat.  If you can do only one thing this holiday season, I would ask for you think about everything you put into your body.  Acknowledge that you ate 7 cookies had 2 glasses of eggnog or pumpkin pie for breakfast followed by a snack of candy.   The first step in having a healthy lifestyle is recognizing your current pattern, behavior, and activities.  Take a moment and say this is what I ate today, how do I feel about what I ate today?  You can even write down your feelings and food to reflect on the following evening.   This mindfulness is not to make yourself feel bad or depressed, but to recognize where you are now and where you want to be next year.  What can you control?  What could you try tomorrow so when you review what you had, you might feel better?  This is your life, what makes you happy?  What are your priorities?

I wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season!  Of course if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Let’s Talk Protein

You would be surprised how many conversations I have overheard on a subway car, at the gym, or heck waiting in line at Starbucks on the amount of protein a person needs.  It seems that people feel that protein is this magical nutrient that can trim weight and turn you into a supermodel, cause you to bulk up like the hulk, or gosh I don’t know sprout wings!  In my experience with athletes, recreational exercisers, as well as the regular individual, everyone has extremely strong beliefs on how much protein they need.   Along with this belief it is often overlapped with the idea that you can only get protein from meat products and whey supplements.  Well reader, if you haven’t already guessed, I’m going to be discussing protein: role of protein, how much you need, and foods it is found in.

Let’s begin with some basic information on protein.  Protein is made up of amino acids: phenylalanine, tyrosine, lysine, etc.  We require amino acids to build tissue, have functioning organs, and in some cases we will use them for energy.  It has roles as enzymes, hormones and helps to maintain fluid and electrolytes balance.  Protein is NOT stored like fat or carbohydrate (glycogen), it is broken down and used or it is converted into energy, i.e. we use it or lose it.  So we want to make sure we are always getting an adequate supply every day, since we don’t have this extra back-up like the other macronutrients.  Thus protein is an essential part of a diet and should never be omitted.  Everyone seems to be able to agree with this point.  We must eat protein.  Confusion seems to generate not on the necessity or functionality, but on the amount of protein.

The RDA, Recommended Dietary Allowance (put out by the USDA), is the daily amount needed to meet the average need for an individual.  This magic number is 0.8grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.4grams per pound.  This includes recreational exercises, so if you work out 1 hour 4 times a week; you need the same amount of protein.  So if we take an average 150lb person, they would need 60grams of protein a day.  This could look like*:

1 cup milk (8grams), 1 egg (7 grams), 2oz cheese (14grams), 2oz turkey (14 grams), 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (7grams) 3/4cup of black beans (11grams)

Total: 61 grams

Now for some of you that may seem like a lot of protein for others it may seem like very little.  Generally Americans eat 3-4x the amount of protein they need every single day.  A quarter-pounder with cheese would provide a minimum of 35grams of protein.  So the majority of us exceed our protein needs.  So what does this mean… it means that we are putting in more amino acids then our body can use, leaving the remaining protein to be used for calories.

So if you are not an athlete, a daily exerciser, or have some other medical condition that increases your needs, 0.4grams per pound is all you need.  At the bottom of this post I have added list of different foods and the amount of protein in them.

This brings us to the sticky wicket- athletes, muscle growth and protein.  I have scoured the research and books on protein needs for various sports and the literature shows no evidence that athletes gain advantage from consuming more than 1.8g per kilogram body weight of protein.    To break it down a step further:

Endurance athletes such as long distance runners, soccer players, swimmers, etc. protein needs are met around 1.2-1.3grams per kilograms.

Strength athletes such as weight lifters, shot putters, and linebackers average more around 1.6-1.8grams of protein.  Showing that the sport you play, exercise level, and workout regiment does affect protein needs. I will give you an example*….

A 200lb professional weight lifter, would require: 145- 164grams of protein a day.

Breakfast: 2 cups milk (16 grams), 1 bowl cereal (6 grams), 2 slices of bread (6 grams), 4 tablespoons peanut butter (14 grams)

Lunch: 2 pieces of bread (6 grams), 4oz turkey (21 grams) , 2 oz cheese( 14 grams), 1 cup yogurt (8 grams)

Snack: ¼ cup hummus (3 grams)

Dinner:  5oz fish (35 grams), ½ cup lentils (7 grams), 1 cup milk (8 grams), 1 whole grain roll (4 grams)

Provides: 148grams

*(This is not a balanced meal, this is merely showing protein distributed throughout the day)

The idea is that if I eat more protein I will build more muscle, if this were true I could eat 10 steaks and wake up the next morning with biceps twice as large.  This is clearly not the case.  Research shows that eating between 20-30grams of protein dose appear to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth), however intake above this does not increase synthesis (no matter the exercise).   Protein is needed in muscle tissue repair and growth, but increasing the amount does not increase the rate or amount of growth.  Muscle mass and growth depends on your workout, physiology, and genetics.  The huge amounts of protein many body builders, weight lifters, etc. eat is not being used for muscle repair and growth, but is being used for energy.  They are most likely underrating carbohydrates and fat and the body is using everything it can to for its energy needs.

Protein shakes:  I’m not going to go into detail on protein shakes in this blog, but I would hope from reading this blog you find that you can meet your protein needs from real food rather than supplements!  (Always a good goal)

  • Each protein equivalent = 7 grams protein
    • 1 oz. meat/poultry/fish
    • ¼ cup tuna
    • 1 oz. cheese
    • ¼ cup cottage cheese
    • 1 egg or 2 whites
    • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
    • 4 oz. Tofu
  • Dairy sources of protein = 8 grams protein
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup yogurt
    • 1 ½ oz. hard cheese
    • 1 ½ cup frozen yogurt
    • ½  scoop whey protein powder
  • Miscellaneous
    • 1 piece of bread = 3 grams
    • ½ cup beans = 8 grams
    • 1 bowl cereal = 6 grams

Comments and questions are always welcome!

Beer Bread

As the leaves begin to fall the baking begins in my apartment!  There is something about pulling on sweaters, breaking out the hot coco, and the heart of football season that spurs me to bake.  I have not had the time or energy lately to dive into making dry yeast based breads, so I have been making delicious easy to make quick breads.

I love beer bread! YUM! It is delicious and VEGAN, for all the those dairy and animal-free individuals out there!  Now some of you may be asking, what is beer bread??  Beer is made with yeast, in beer bread baking, adding beer replaces the need to add yeast.  The alcohol burns off in the heating process (it is an non-alcoholic finished product!).

It takes about 10 minutes to put together and ~50minutes to cook! I have written down the directions below, I have also included some up-grades and alterations you can make a savory or sweet bread.  The type of beer you use will also effect the flavor of the bread, darker beers giving a rich, darker bread and a lighter beer creating a light bread.  Play around with different types and different ingredients- leave a post on how you made your Beer Bread and how it turned out!

Note: My favorite is with cheese inside and spiced butter on top.

Beer Bread

Oven: 350 degrees F           Prep Time: 10 minutes        Cook Time: 50-60 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup All purpose flour

4 1/2tsp baking powder

1/3 cup brown sugar

1tsp salt

12 oz beer

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add beer and mix well.  Dough should moist, but solid and can mix with kids (great project for the whole family).  Place dough in greased bread pan.

Dough is ready when tooth pick/knife comes out clean.

Upgrades:

Savory:

Top if off with butter-

Melt 1/2cup of butter and pour over the bread before you put it into the oven.  This adds a nice crispy taste and a golden brown color!!!  You can add spices in the melted butter to add those savory tastes: dill, garlic, Mrs. Dash, or spice blends.

1 cup shredded cheese

I love making this bread with cheese inside it adds to the flavor and makes the bread devine.  Play around with the type.  Cheddar is delish!

Cinnamon and raisins-

adding this along with a lighter beer, a blond or honey wheat beer will make a sweeter bread.

Share your secret ingredients!