Healthy Dining Out

No matter what your goals, or what your needs, it is possible to go out and have a filling meal.  It doesn’t mean it’s a perfect cinch all the time, but it is possible (there are times when I do feel badly about wanting basic, clean options – but none of us should have to feel that way – establishments are there to provide a service and it IS okay to ask for what we want.  That’s the point!)

I like to eat volume, and I like to eat frequently – most restaurants don’t offer the kind of portions I need (sometimes leaving to order two sides of steamed veggies!) But…that’s always a possibility, right?  

Asian cuisines seem to be one of the easier options for those looking for more volume because often they do give larger portions (or at least will ask you if you want a full dish, or a smaller size…especially with takeout.) So Chinese or Japanese is often a good pick for me.

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My “usual” is miso soup, and steamed veggies and protein – lately I’ve gone the seafood route with shrimp and scallops, but steamed or boiled chicken works too.  The only sauce I use is soy, though when I can see the label in a store, I might buy dumpling or teriyaki sauce (Asian sauces can vary dramatically in nutritional stats and ingredients so with my sensitive system, I’d rather have the option to check.)

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Aside from being great for your digestive system, miso soup is healthier, and filling starter – it definitely takes the edge of a hungry raptor (me 😉 ) So much so that I ended up taking some of my dinner home with me – having some left is impressive!

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The Brilliance Of Riced Veggies

The riced veggie trend is one of my favorite things to have happened to grocery stores yet.  Sure, I appreciate the sugar-free products, absolutely.  And I LOVE that there are “natural food” aisles with non-monster brands (once nigh impossible to find.)  But while riced veggies are a cinch to make yourself – if you have a food processor at home – there’s a massive convenience in being able to snag a pre-made bag at the store.  And when a trend hits, that’s what you get – convenience!

I don’t use riced vegetables as the base for my meals all the time – sometimes the larger pieces are a good thing because it feels like you are eating more.  More bulk = feels like more substance.  

BUT…

Riced cauliflower, for one, is a fabulous substitute for rice, pasta, or even mashed potatoes – you get the volume, and a similar texture, without as many calories or carbohydrates.  So it’s a perfect swap for a dinner side (“healthy” fried “rice,” anyone?!) or base, as an example, and can even work for a base for doughs and baked items. 

 

What recently came my way was an announcement about Green Giant’s Riced Veggies – not just the cauliflower, but mixes.  What on EARTH has taken companies so long?!  

The glitch for me is that I have never actually seen Green Giant’s Riced Cauliflower in-store – I’ve had to buy other brands.  So I don’t know if I will have the best luck tracking these down, and desperately hope other companies follow suit (they’d be wise to!) Or…of course…that someone near me jumps on board and ups the stock levels!

The doubly-awesome news? GG is also offering a whole bunch of other mashed and roasted options so definitely check them out (store location link highlighted in the paragraph above.)

YUM!

Nutrition – The Easy Way To Add Volume

I definitely need to eat “volume” – a small snack will never cut it for me, despite that I am constantly snagging something to munch on.  I need to feel satisfied not only because I don’t want to feel hungry, but because my body doesn’t react well without the appropriate, and fine-tuned, amount of fuel.

The easiest way to add volume – the most obvious, also, but for some reason not as often as looked to as you might expect – is to load up on veggies.  A few sites are good about recommending this simple, incredibly effective “trick” but I feel like people still neglect to use it.  

One of my favorite recipes is an enormous sauté of vegetables and ground chicken – I use my Curtis Stone pans, with which I don’t need to use a stitch of oil.  (Yes, oil IS good for you, so a dash of olive isn’t the end of the world, but I try to be mindful, and not use it all the time if I don’t need to.)

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I sauté diced onions for a few minutes so they brown, then I add in fresh mushrooms (and, often, peppers too – red, yellow, and orange preferably, since they are the sweetest!) I later add diced tomatoes to it to make kind of a “sauce” – one, mind you, that is more vegetables than sauce! In a separate pan, I sauté the chicken, with nothing more than himalayan pink salt and spices.

Separately, I steam – in a BPA free microwaveable container, of course! – diced (or pre-riced!) cauliflower.  If I don’t have pre-diced (sometimes it is hard to find), I steam cauliflower florets – when they are done, and nice and soft, I use a potato masher to make little “diced” or “riced” type pieces.  You can use a food processor to do the same thing – this just takes less time and clean up to use a masher. 🙂 

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I have everything going at the same time, and will reduce the “sauce” to a simmer if necessary.  Once the cauliflower is ready, I mix it – and the “sauce” – into the pan with the chicken. And that’s it!

It makes a HUGE amount a food, and because of the volume of vegetables, each serving is less calories than it would be with just chicken…not to mention, it lasts longer, so you get more meals out of it. 🙂  

Nutrition – Sweet (Healthy) Snacks

There’s really no need to reach for candy – I know it’s delicious BUT…when you haven’t had it in a while, it truly becomes TOO sweet.  It tastes unnatural and overboard, and never as good as it sounds.  That said, cravings are notorious for overriding your best efforts and willpower from time to time… A great option?  Nature’ sugar…!

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Eating TONS of grapes or mounds of fresh fruit isn’t necessarily recommended…but generally you don’t need nearly that much to satisfy a sweet tooth.  A small amount, a snack here or there…that WILL do it. Fresh fruit is also best (as opposed to dried, in which your sugar concentration is much higher) because it’s VOLUME – you get to eat a good amount of it.  The water and fiber content will help to fill you up, and it will be more than a spoonful of the other stuff.  

My favorite options are a couple of sweet grapes – I LOVE Grapery! Cotton Candy grapes, Moon Drops grapes – organic Fuji apples, or pineapple.

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Give your body a healthy option first – you might be pleasantly surprised that the craving for something that will derail you actually disappears.

Other in the world of DELICIOUSness…

Summer 2016 – New Releases

It’s nice to see someone cover what’s new in haircare – there is a proliferation in skincare and color for sure, but this huge category is often left out.  

As an athlete, I’m often dealing with a lot of sweat – not great for the scalp and hair.  With incredibly long hair (to my low back), I also need to baby my strands so I keep them looking healthy.  Add to that summer sun and potential activities like swimming, and you have additional layers of aggressors to deal with.  I therefore always appreciate hearing about what’s new to market – whether products specifically, or innovations.

Perilously Pale shares a list of the newest, soon-to-hit launches that you might want to keep your eyes open for. 🙂

Healthy Snacks For Everyday

I don’t know about you but I love to eat.  Most of the time I find that people don’t believe me, often retorting with a snide “oh yeah, right.”  

I am generally a clean eater, and after all I’ve been through, I can’t say that I love food in the same way.  But. . .YES. . .I LOVE to eat, and I could easily eat too much.  Volume is key for me – I need to feel full or I will just keep munching.

It can get a little frustrating when people say “oh, but you work it off.”  Or, “you do so much that it doesn’t matter – you can have what you want.” Actually….

No.

I CAN’T.

If I eat too much (and for each of us, that amount will vary), I will see it on my waistline.  Most of the time I am clean, healthy, and quite active…but it takes work for me.  I can’t just eat whatever I want and hope that my exercise routine will balance it out –  I don’t get off so easily, and frankly very few people do. So what helps?  Being educated!  I know that I will be hungry so I try to figure out what I can do to:

A.) Not feel like I’m starving all the time…

But also…

B.) Stick to my goals

That’s where being educated about nutrition, and my own personal needs, comes in to play. Keeping in mind that I am not a nutritionist or medical professional, these are some of the snacks I have found to help me manage my hunger. . .and my waist size!

SWEET

  • Fresh Fruit or Fruit Salad – I don’t eat a ton of fruit.  I prefer vegetables, and I don’t want to go overboard on the sugar.  But having some fresh fruit can help satisfy a sweet craving, without causing you to pack on the pounds you might with a candy bar or other deserts!  (Dried fruit is also a culprit, having much more concentrated sugar per serving than the fruit when it is fresh.)
  • Berries with a dollop of Yogurt – Sweet, plus a little protein, and lots of antioxidants. 
  • EatPops or something similar – I loved these when I read about them!  Healthy, not at all crazy in the calorie department, refreshing and sweet.  I also love the Almond Dream bites, in moderation, since I’m a chocolate fan.  If you don’t want to spend on prepared, you can always blend and freeze your own.
  • Cooked or Baked Fruit – so many great recipes out there that turn regular fruit into something sassier!  I sometimes slice and apple, add cinnamon and sometimes a dash of sweetener and bake in the convection oven until warm and slightly softer.
  • Peanut or Nut Butter – There are some nice brands who offer single serving packages – Some have up to 200 or so calories, so be mindful of that (it is about what you’d get in one serving from a jar, but you can’t go overboard with one package!)  I have seen some that just have 90, which I like better.  Either way, you get heathy fats with a nice dose of protein. You can add a little to some apple slices for extra sweetness.
  • Sugar Free Chocolate – Not the best nutritional option but sometimes one sugar-free peanut butter cup helps stave off inhaling something much worse, and in much higher quantity!

SALTY and SAVORY

  • Hummus with Baby Carrots –   I like to put a bit of hummus in a bowl with some carrots (or other veggies) so I’m not eating right out of the container (which might cause me to eat too much.)  Raw veggies can be tough on the tum, so just be mindful of the ones you choose.  Broccoli and cauliflower that hasn’t been cooked, for example, can cause some digestive troubles.
  • Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese – I can no longer do dairy, so this is out for me.  BUT…these are excellent choices, giving you a nice amount of protein per serving. Only thing to watch out for is extra sugar, as some Greek yogurts are sneaky. 
  • Nuts (Almonds, Pistachios) – Nuts are a great option BUT… But, but, BUT…you HAVE to be mindful.  Nuts are calorically dense and incredibly easy to overdo.  Many brands offer 100 calorie bags, which are a fabulous idea.  You can certainly portion out your own, but buying the ready-made is a great option. Pistachios are one of the best where calorie and protein per serving is concerned.

MINI-MEAL ITEMS

  • Muffin-Tin Egg Frittatas – Not everyone loves eggs, but these are a ton of fun. You can make them with egg whites, egg beaters, whole eggs, a mixture…whatever!  Add in a few sprinkles of soy crumbles, low-fat turkey, steamed vegetables, even salsa, and you have a dozen awesome “bites” for later!  Sometimes I want to much on something, and this will do the trick.
  • Shrimp Cocktail – Lots of protein, not a ton of calories.  A little bit of cocktail sauce and spices are okay, and won’t break the bank (whereas something like tartar sauce will.)
  • Beef or Poultry Jerky – One has to be mindful about the salt content here, and it is always good to look at ingredients to be sure there aren’t crazy preservatives.  But this is one of those savory protein snacks that can come in handy when you need to nosh.
  • Turkey or Chicken Slices – I’m careful to avoid nitrates here, as many deli meats are laden with such preservatives.  Organic is great if you can come by it, but just being mindful of the ingredients is a good idea.  You get a lot of protein for not a ton of calories, so you will feel satisfied longer.  Roll them up and dip in mustard, siracha sauce, salsa…!
  • Sliced Chicken Breast or Lean Meat – I love ground chicken.  I will eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND for a snack.  Nothing wrong with having lean meats when you are hungry!  I mix mine with a hefty dose of steamed veggies (remember: VOLUME) for a snack when I feel I’m teetering on “ravenous.” You can also pair with greens or add to a light broth for volume.

TRADITIONAL SNACKS

  • Popcorn – Okay, so it isn’t the best snack nutritionally speaking… But there are brands that have as little as three ingredients (think a touch of salt, popcorn, and a dash of olive oil) that you can have in more quantity without going overboard.  Air popping your own is a great idea also (love the microwave ones but many contain some incredibly unhealthy chemicals, so best to avoid as much as possible!)
  • Chips and Salsa – Crunchy, salty, maybe a little spice… What to watch out for here is having too many!  Just take a few and put them in a bowl – sometimes just the act of portioning it out makes you feel like you are having more, or a special treat, instead of wolfing down the whole bag mindlessly.

The key with any of these is to just be mindful of portions – when you can either prepare a smaller portion of what comes in a HUGE bag…OR…you can get ready-made items (such as the 100 calorie almonds), you will find you can stick to the plan a little better.  There are also a ton of wonderful blogs with recipes for lower calorie snacks (I prefer those also high in protein because that’s what my body needs.)

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A few of the snacks I take on trips here and here.

I also have a ton of fun recipes bookmarked here.

 

Rainy Day Fun

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This weekend we had a whole smattering of rain… After our healthy breakfast, we thought we might go visit a farm, just for some fun and sunshine.  But, those water drops came down early, and our trip was out rather suddenly!

It’s been a long time since I visited the amazing sites around my old college campus (the White House WAS my neighbor!) so rather out of the blue, we chose to hit the road – sitting around makes me feel lethargic!  (Active rest CAN include walking for a few hours, even if inside…)

We decided we’d visit one of the Smithsonian complexes on the mall (nevermind the St, Patrick’s Day parade we didn’t realize was going on simultaneously!) because really, what better place to explore when you can’t be outside?  

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I haven’t gone into a Natural History Museum in ages, and I have to say…it was an incredible joy.  As a little girl, I wanted desperately to be an archeologist – the prospect of discovering some meaningful antiquity, coming face to face with a mummy, or finding precious rocks had me enamored.  

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Maybe it was the idea that I’d be close to Earth…and in finding such things, I would have “touched” history in a way – like time travel, albeit not temporally!  

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Anyway…it always amazes me to see the wonders of the Natural World, and it was a perfect activity for such a gloomy day.  After the visit, my cloudy white cowboy boots (to jive with the grey skies) and all-black attire marched to a Hard Rock cafe for some fuel.  Most people would say you can’t fin anything healthy in a restaurant like that  but…I did!  Admittedly, the first time it didn’t come out as I asked…but…we managed!

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You can always ask for plain, grilled fish (I usually ask for this instead of chicken, which often is overly marinated already) and steamed vegetables.  My plate came with mashed potatoes, but I just ignored them (had I known they came in tow, I would have requested they save the food!)  It was exactly what I needed after a lengthy afternoon – protein works wonders to stabilize you, and keep you full longer.  I always as for veggies too because I need volume.

All in all, it was a wonderful day – I enjoyed being out and about, and doing something new and different. I know many folks go to Museums for their children, but it is equally as enriching as an adult…plus, even when it’s pouring, you get to walk round and stay active.  Win, win, win! 🙂