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How to Plan the Perfect Breakfast

healthy-breakfast

Make no mistake about it – breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Serving up a delicious and nutritious breakfast is a great way to control food cravings throughout the day and give your body an instant boost of nutrition at a prime time when it needs replenishment.

Breakfast is a great opportunity to provide your body with lean proteins, plenty of dietary fiber and a high dose of antioxidants. Let’s have a quick peek at planning the right breakfast so that you make the most of this meal every morning.

The Details

Consider your calorie intake. Breakfast should account for 25–30% of your total daily calorie requirements. Make sure that you are eating enough quality protein at this morning meal, whether from lean meat, fresh eggs, beans or even protein powder.

Factor in prep time. How much time do you have available first thing in the morning to prepare your breakfast? If you regularly rush out the door in the morning, find breakfast options that take 10 minutes to prepare, not 30.

What will fuel your daily activities? Maybe you need an extra dose of carbs in the morning for energy to run errands, or vegetables and fruit will suffice since you spend your day at the office.

Keep your personal taste preferences in mind. Which foods will you look forward to eating to ensure that you do actually take time out for breakfast? This one seems obvious, but many dieters make the mistake of forcing in foods that make them grimace.

Think about how various foods impact you. Eat a carb-dense breakfast one morning, and notice if you start to feel sleepy mid-day. If so, a lower carb breakfast may be a wiser choice.

Think about satiety. Will it be a long time before you eat lunch? If so, load your breakfast as full of fiber as possible to increase total digestion time.

Assess your body weight goals. Do you need to create a calorie deficit during breakfast? If so, a leaner option such as an egg white and vegetable omelette will be a smarter choice than a carb-filled bowl of cereal.

The Bottom Line

Taking the time to plan the right breakfast will be well worth your effort, no matter what your nutritional or weight-loss goals. It’s one of the best ways to ensure that you can stick with your diet plan and are going to move toward the results that you desire.

Remember that you don’t necessarily have to eat breakfast types of foods at your morning meal. You can just as easily eat other foods that you would normally enjoy for lunch or dinner, if you prefer. Look to international breakfasts for ideas on how to get creative with your morning meal.

Get Healthy: How To Remove Junk From Your Diet

fat-woman-eating-a-hamburger

Just as the name suggests junk food is junk. Junk food is full of calories that do absolutely nothing for your body. These are called empty calories because they have no or very little nutritional value. The truth is that most of these calories come from sugar and fats and they will do nothing but increase weight and body fat.

Junk food can also cause you to retain water which will make you feel bloated and sluggish. This causes you to feel tired instead of having the energy to get up and move around. The long term effects of eating junk food can be extreme from causing you to be overweight to causing the clogging of arteries that leads to heart attack.

Why do people love junk food? The truth is that our brains have very positive reactions to fatty and sugary foods. It induces “feel good” hormones in the brain that actually mimic the effects of powerful addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin. It is no wonder that we need them.

How many people have cravings for spinach?

But, cravings for ice cream, chips, soda and cookies is a whole other matter. In order to overcome these perilous food addictions, you must retrain your body, change old habits and change tastes. It takes time and effort, but, it can be done.

Did you know that there are thousands of fitness conscious people who NEVER touch any junk food? Yes it’s really true!

Removing junk food from your diet is an important way to become proactive when it comes to your health.

How To Remove Junk Food From Your Diet

It starts with some common sense.

Many people say that it is cheaper to eat junk food than it is to eat healthy food. Or they use the excuse that they just don’t like the way healthy food tastes.

First you will have to reprogram your taste buds to get used to eating healthy foods. You have been eating junk food all of your life, this is what your body is used to and what it will crave but it is up to you to retrain your body and your mind to crave healthy foods.

It is not cheaper to eat junk food!

Let’s forget about the fact that you will save thousands on medical bills by eating healthy and let’s look at what you are spending right now.

Potato Chips Versus Oranges

A bag of potato chips costs about $3.99 this will usually last a family of four one day, if that long.

Now let’s look at a bag of oranges. One bag of oranges costs about $4 on average. When you buy a bag of oranges you will get 8-10 oranges. This can make as many as 16 snacks which can last up to four days for a family of four.
Now you have to look at which you would rather your family or yourself eat.

Potato chips are loaded with fat, salt and a lot of calories. 1 ounce of Lays plain chips has 160 calories, 1 grams of fat and 170 grams of sodium (7% of daily allowance).

An orange has 0 fat, 0 salt and only 45 calories. Plus, it’s loaded with essential nutrients, like vitamin C (a whopping 85% of the daily recommended allowance), plus potassium and fiber.

When eating a bag of potato chips you may be watching television, letting all of that fat attach itself to your body, but, when you eat that orange, you are energized simply by the smell of it.

And, this is just one example of how junk food compares to healthier options. Next time you go to the market do some comparison shopping and you will see that the prices of healthy food are not so different from junk food.
There are also plenty of healthier snack options available that can fill kid’s lunch boxes with healthier alternatives.

Planning

It may take some planning when you are removing junk food from your diet, but, it is possible to eat healthy on the same budget you have right now.

Healthier Substitutions For Junk food

When you remove junk food from your diet you will find that you suffer from cravings. Here are a few substitutions you can use to get past the cravings.

• A square of dark chocolate instead of a chocolate candy bar
• Unsalted pretzels or no butter popcorn instead of chips
• Baked vegetable strips instead of chips
• Raw nuts instead of chips for a crunchy snack
• Plain yogurt with fruit, honey, or nuts instead of ice cream
• Flavored sparkling water instead of soda
• Fresh fruit instead of cake and cookies
• Raisins instead of candy
• Cherries instead of candy

Substituting In Recipes

There are also ways that you can alter your favorite recipes to create a healthier version. For example instead of using butter in your cakes and cookies you can create a healthier version by substituting the butter with apple sauce.

You can also use non-fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. If you are a real lover of mayonnaise than try replacing it with avocado on your sandwiches. It has the same texture and you never miss the empty calories of the mayonnaise.

Bottom Line

These are just a few things that you can do to remove the junk food from your diet. There are so many other options that you can do, but, rest assured it is possible to remove the junk food from your diet and replace it with much healthier alternatives. This will ensure your good health and the health of your family.

Hearty White Bean Soup Recipe

hearty-vegetable-soup

Everyone loves a good soup recipe – and better yet one that is not just good, but good for you. We have all been there – the temperature is starting to drop, autumn is coming on, bathing suits are packed away and we start to crave – and I mean crave – comfort food. Why? Because it is good! And it is so satisfying when there is a chill in the air That’s why I love hearty comfort food that is still healthy – like this wonderful white bean soup recipe. It is amazingly rich in flavor and yet when you look at the ingredients it is all good for you. If you want to make this even a little more interesting you can add a green like kale or my favorite, escarole.

If you use this bean soup recipe as your base – and it is great just the way it is – then you can try little variations on the theme. You could try a green like I suggested or maybe a few potatoes. Lots of options, but all great. When you do, post a picture on our facebook page and let us know how it was.

Hearty White Bean Vegetable Soup Recipe
Serves: 6
This healthy soup is hearty enough to be comforting on a crisp fall night, but it is wonderfully healthy too.
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 large leek, sliced into ½″ rings, washed well to remove any sand and drained in a colander
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1½ cups cooked white beans, rinsed (one 15 ounce can or homemade from dry beans)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken broth, or water
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash
  • 4-5 kale leaves, ribs removed, roughly chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot heat the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until the onions starts to soften. Add the carrots, celery, and leeks. Continue cooking, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, being careful not to let it burn.
  2. Next add the tomato paste and stir well. Let cook for 30 seconds then add beans, diced tomatoes, broth, thyme, and butternut squash. Add salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste. (It might not need much salt if the broth is salted.) Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  3. Add the chopped kale and let cook for another 5-10 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Ladle into bowls and serve hot with warm rolls or bread on the side.

 

3 Ways To Reduce Emotional Eating

emotional-eating

Emotional eating is a big issue that needs to be dealt with right away if you plan to lose weight. While it is possible for emotional eaters to lose weight, if the issue is not resolved, you’ll almost always put the weight right back on again. It isn’t easy, but here are 3 ways to reduce your emotional eating.

Eat Only When Really Hungry

The first step to prevent emotional eating is to learn to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Physical hunger is when your body really needs food, and emotional hunger is when you are stressed (or bored) and feel like distracting yourself with food. If you just had a big lunch and something at work upsets you and you are magically hungry again, that’s not physical hunger.

Don’t forget that thirst can also be mistaken for hunger. So if you feel you are hungry at a time when you shouldn’t be, just drink a large glass of water. If that doesn’t help, do something to distract yourself instead of eating.

Find Other Ways to Manage Stress

Of course, the best way to manage emotional eating would be never to get emotional at all. But since that isn’t possible for most of us (though you should try and stay away from triggers like fighting with your spouse or reading the newspaper when it makes you feel bad), the next best thing is to manage those emotions in other ways.

Think about it this way: if you eat something because you are emotional, you will feel better for a minute, and afterwards feel awful that you broke your diet. This will lead to more stress and more eating, and it is a vicious cycle. Instead, use other methods to channel your emotions, such as writing down your feelings in a journal, talking to a friend, going for a long walk, dancing to some music, or watching a feel-good movie. This way, you won’t be breaking your diet, and you’ll learn new ways to help yourself feel better. It’ll get easier over time.

Don’t Deprive Yourself Too Much On Your Diet

Sometimes when you are on a rigid diet, it’s easy to think that completely cutting out the foods you love is a good idea. The thing is, if you are an emotional eater, these are the very foods you will eat too much of to make yourself feel better when you are down. Instead, eat the foods you love in small quantities occasionally. This way your willpower is stronger when you feel like eating, because you don’t feel totally deprived.

These steps can help you manage your emotional eating when you are on a diet, but do remember that to maintain your weight loss later on, you will have to nip this bad habit in the bud and develop a healthy approach to managing stress instead of emotional eating. As mentioned in the second tip, this means finding ways to manage your stress permanently through other channels.

What do you think of these strategies? Do you have one you would like to share ? Please leave a comment with your ideas and empower others.

7 Cooking Tips To Cut Out Fat And Calories From Your Diet

food-preparation

It can be hard deciding what to cook when you’re trying to lose weight, but you really don’t have to stick with salads for every meal! Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of planning and some minor changes in the way you cook to help you keep your calorie limits and watch those pounds slip away.

Here are some tips you can try when preparing meals to keep calories and fat to a minimum:

  1. Instead of using oil, opt for non-stick zero calorie sprays or butter substitutes with fewer calories. If you are willing to invest more, then get a non-stick pan instead for your basic sautéing.

  1. Include more vegetables in your cooking than meat, dairy, or other items. Vegetables help fill you up with fiber and nutrients, that help keep you full for a longer amount of time. You can also opt to change traditional recipes to reduce their calorie content, such as substituting macaroni in your mac and cheese with broccoli or diced carrots.

  1. Whenever you can, avoid deep frying food items. Instead of eating fried chicken, it’s better to boil, roast or bake it to keep the amount of calories in check. In case you didn’t already know, a tablespoon of oil is about 120 calories, and when you deep fry an item, you will be ingesting many unnecessary calories without even noticing it.

  1. If you feel oil and sugar is the only way to flavor the food you cook, then you are wrong. Seasonings and extracts have lesser calories and give just as much flavor, and you may realize you have an affinity to them after a while!

  1. When baking, try using applesauce to replace sugar as it contains fewer calories.

  1. When making desserts, opt for lower calorie ones like fruits with greek yogurt or banana halves topped with ricotta cheese, cocoa powder and cherries.

  1. The most important step of all is the preparation you take before cooking. The best way to stick to healthy cooking is to plan your meals in advance and ensure your pantry only stocks ingredients for healthy meals. Make a list of the low-calorie meals you plan to make for the week and only buy the ingredients needed for those meals when you go grocery shopping. This will help you avoid changing your mind at the last minute and cooking something you know you shouldn’t be eating.

These easy-to-follow tips are all you need to remember when you prepare your meals from now on. In the end, it’s all down to your calorie intake, so be sure to make it a priority to stick to your calorie limits.

5 Tips For A Healthy Breakfast That’ll Help You Lose Weight

healthy-breakfast

It’s a tip that is repeated by diet experts everywhere: eat breakfast. There’s a reason behind it too. Eating a healthy breakfast helps kick-start your body’s metabolism in the morning, helping you avoid overeating over lunch and dinner. Not only that, having breakfast helps keep your blood sugar levels under control throughout the day, keeping cravings at bay. However, it’s important to eat the right kind of breakfast. Here are some tips to remember when having breakfast on a weight loss diet:

  1. Keep the calories limited. Of course, in the end you have to eat fewer calories than your body needs to lose weight, so overeating at breakfast is not a good idea. Therefore, avoid high-calorie sweet foods for breakfast such as bagels, doughnuts, and sugared cereals that don’t fill you up much but use up quite a bit of your calorie content.
  1. Eat a balanced breakfast. This means eating a breakfast that is part protein, part carbohydrates and part healthy fat. An example of such a breakfast is a cup of low-fat yogurt with a bowl of oatmeal topped with some flaxseed.
  1. Make a fruit smoothie. If you are on the go and don’t have the time to prepare a hearty breakfast, then just blend a banana, some whey protein and a cup of berries of your choice, and you’ll have a nutritious smoothie that will fill you up. If you can stomach it, you can try green smoothies too so that you can get some vegetables into your day.
  1. For carbohydrates, choose whole grain over white carbs. While the calorie difference may not be much, but whole grain items contain more fiber that will fill you up, and sugars that will keep your blood sugar more stable for a longer time.
  1. If you like a hearty breakfast that is filling but want to stick with regular breakfast foods like bacon, butter or scrambled eggs, then use low-calorie products to limit the amount of calories you consume. For example, you can use a zero calorie spray instead of oil when frying your bacon, use lighter versions of butter for your bread, and use artificial sweeteners like stevia or Splenda with your coffee or tea. Of course, it’s still a good idea to stick to healthier breakfast foods as often as possible.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to a healthy breakfast, but ensure that you can eat foods that you like or at least can tolerate instead of foods that you have to force yourself to eat, during breakfast. The reason for this is that if you constantly drink those green smoothies even though you hate them, you’ll get turned off of eating breakfast, and you will tend to skip it. A healthy breakfast does not have to be bad, so experiment to see which food combinations you enjoy.

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Green Tea and Its Potential Effects On Weight Loss

green tea

 

If you want to lose weight then you can’t avoid hearing about how good green tea is for you. But is there any truth to all the hype? As a matter of fact, there is. There have been a number of studies done on the effects that green tea consumption has on weight loss. Here’s a guide to the facts you need to know.

Studies on Green Tea and Weight Loss

In one study involving 132 participants, it was found that those in the control group lost less weight compared to the participants who were given a beverage containing high amounts of the main active compound of green tea called catechin. In the same study, participants drinking the catechin-rich beverage lost more abdominal fat as well. However, in this study, participants were also asked to partake in more than 3 hours of exercise a week as part of the study, which only shows that green tea accelerates weight loss in those who are physically active.

There have also been other studies that show that green tea consumption on a regular basis can boost metabolism and help the body burn up to 100 extra calories a day. It is also thought that the catechin in green tea can help improve endurance during exercise, making it easier to get more from your workout.

How Green Tea Can Help You

Because of these studies, it is safe to say that it’s likely that if you drink a few cups of green tea a day, you may help speed up your weight loss. However, this does not mean that green tea is a magic drink that gives you a free pass to eat whatever you want. A 100-calorie deficit is not a lot, and overeating will only result in weight gain, not weight loss. The best way to use green tea to help your weight loss is therefore to use it as a supplement to a low-calorie diet and frequent exercise.

Green tea is not just a weight loss tool; it has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and can also be a great aid in relaxation. If you are going to drink it frequently though, be sure to not drink it too close to bedtime; some people are sensitive even to small amounts of caffeine and this can result in insomnia. Other than this, there are no side effects to the consumption of green tea and you can take in as much as you want of this almost zero-calorie beverage.

 

Basic Equipment For Juicing

Before you begin juicing, do some research on the basic juicing equipment needed to make juicing efficient and fun. There are many options out there in the market, many with pros and cons so just figure out what works for a juicing lifestyle. Some consider juicing as an investment in health, so buying a high quality juicer at a higher price point might make sense. Some just want to try juicing and give it up in a few months. It may not make sense to make a large investment under those circumstances. That said, you will need a juicer.

So What Are The Differences Between Juicers?

There are basically two kinds of juicers, masticators and presses. Which one is best for you? Let’s learn the differences…

Mastication juicers are more common and are usually more economical. They generally are centrifugal juicers that have metal blades at the bottom of a cylinder in the juicing well and can not only oxidize your juice before you even drink it, but can cause you to throw away most of your juice because these types of juicers are notorious for extruding wet pulp. Though you can use the pulp as well, most people discard it because they don’t know what to do with it.

The other kind of juicer is a juice press. Juice press machines are more common because of their features, but they can cost quite a bit more. Juice presses do not have blades, they produce juice with pressure – some even use hydraulic pressure. Juice press machines do not heat up as much as masticating juicers and they literally press almost every ounce of juice out of the fibers, leaving little to waste. You want to make sure to buy the juicer that best fits your lifestyle, your commitment and your budget.

Other Juicing Tools That Keep Your Efforts Organized

Having a juicer is a great way to jump start this healthy habit, but you can make juices without a fancy juicer. For example you can juice citrus fruits with a hand held juicer, melons are easily blendable and cucumbers will release enough water for juice after sitting in salt for a while, but that won’t taste that great by itself.

So, Is A Juicer REALLY Necessary?

Using blenders can also make drinkable beverages, but they will be less like juice and more like a smoothie. A smoothie will contain a lot of the fiber and can be a good substitute if the thickness is tolerable, though adding water or coconut water will make it thinner and potentially easier to consume.

Have a few large bowls, a colander, a cutting board and a good, sharp knife are all basic kitchen tools that make adding juicing as a healthy lifestyle easier.

Lastly, juicing can, and should be fun – especially when you have the right tools. When you know you can do something really positive for your health now, whether you have a health imbalance or if you are healthy in general, you can make it a lot of fun. Remember to be creative once you learn the fundamentals so that you can share juicing with your family and friends.

 

Younger, Healthier and Happier Eating Raw Food

raw food benefits

What is a raw food diet?
You have probably heard about the Raw Food Diet. There are a lot of different variations on the Raw Food Diet depending upon the person advocating it.

The basic and common feature of most raw food diets is that they all advocate eating food in their natural state – that is, uncooked, unprocessed, organic and unexposed to herbicides and pesticides.

What does a raw food diet include?

  • All raw food diets include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Some include unprocessed nuts and uncooked grains.
  • Some raw food diets are a variation on veganism which shuns all animal-based food.
  • Other raw food diets include eggs, milk, cheese and raw fish (sushi and sashimi).
  • Then there is just the simple action of eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables to retain all their nutrients. One example of this is the juicing lifestyle, where fresh homemade juices are made from both vegetables and fruits are the mainstay of one’s daily intake.

Reasons To Fill Your Diet With Raw Food

Weight Loss

The main purpose of most people who shift to a raw food diet is for weight loss. It is true – eating raw food will facilitate weight loss because eating raw food will mean that you won’t consume as much fat and calories as with a regular diet.

Disease Prevention

Another main purpose of most people who shift to a raw food diet is to fight what is referred to as lifestyle diseases. Lifestyle diseases include hypertension, coronary artery disease and diabetes. These lifestyle diseases are often caused by eating food that is too high on fat, sugar and cholesterol.

Chemical Free Eating

Some who go on a raw food diet do so because they want to avoid the accumulation of harmful chemicals in their bodies from food that is exposed to pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones.

Fruits and vegetables grown in commercial farms are usually treated with pesticides and herbicides to keep insects from feasting on the fruits and vegetables.

Livestock, pork and chicken grown commercially are treated with hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease and ensure optimal growth. Seedless fruit are sprayed with hormones as well.

Anti-Aging And Increasing Immunity

Still some people who opt for a raw food diet emphasize a healthy lifestyle that will keep them looking young.
They believe that fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables and grains boost the immune system which keeps infectious diseases at bay and it improves the body’s circulation and systemic functioning which gives them clear skin and radiant hair.

Is It Easy To Maintain A Diet Of Raw Food?

As with all diets, you must consult your doctor to see if you may shift to a raw food diet. And if you do shift to a raw food diet, perhaps it is best to do it gradually.

Start with juicing an assortment of fruits and vegetables to replace colas and desserts. Replace your regular cooked meals gradually with a wide assortment of salads and grains and nuts.

The most difficult thing about going on a raw food diet is sourcing raw, unprocessed and chemical-free food.

If you like going out to eat, you will find it difficult to find restaurants that serve only raw food.

The next difficult thing is in preparing the food—it is time consuming. It is easy enough to simply peel a banana or eat an apple for a snack but if you have to subsist on fruits and veggies, you will have to carry fresh fruits and vegetables with you throughout the day.

Another problem most people encounter with the raw food diet is that food grown organically is more expensive.

Also there is a real danger of malnutrition as there are nutrients and minerals which you cannot get from uncooked fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You will have to take a vitamin or food supplement for this.

You will have to eat fruits and vegetables that are unfamiliar to you. The texture of uncooked food may be difficult to get used to at first.
For those who advocate eating raw fish, eggs, milk and milk products, you might need to conquer your gag reflex first. There is also a real danger of food poisoning from food that is unpasteurized such as milk and milk products, so one needs to take care, though these days it is not as problematic since the there are many quality controls in place.

Final Thoughts

Shifting to a raw food diet requires a lifestyle change as well as a change in mindset. It will not work for everyone and some people can follow a raw food diet but not strictly. Ask your physician first.

There are so many benefits to eating raw food and one thing to keep in mind is that it need not be exclusive of other food, you can simply add more fresh, and raw fruits and vegetables to your diet on a daily basis and cut out processed foods. That alone is a huge step to improving your health, preventing disease and curtailing the effects of aging.