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Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

The wellness program at my new job is AWESOME! Yay for employers that take a proactive position in their employees’ health. This month’s challenge: track (and reduce) our sodium intake.

salt shaker

Image: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve gone OCD about lots of things in my diet and fitness life, from heart rate to ounces of water, carbs and fat, time of day I’m eating, and, of course, calories. But I’d never tracked sodium. This was going to be hard, because even though I rarely add salt to food, I crave salty snacks. Give me fries or chips or popcorn over ice cream any day!

Turns out, this challenge is even more enlightening than I thought. After only 10 days, my blood pressure had dropped from a normal 120/80 to 94/62! I realize lots of factors can affect blood pressure, so I probably can’t attribute it all to less sodium, but it was enough to motivate me to keep at it. I also felt like I was less…well, puffy. And it is amazing the sodium that hides out in foods, even those that you don’t think of as salty.

People do need SOME sodium for normal bodily functions, but most Western diets include many times the recommended amount. According to Mayoclinic.com, healthy adults should not exceed 2,300 mg of sodium a day. Our challenge is to keep it around 1,500 mg, which is very tough to do! I consider it a good day if I’m under 2,000.

If you’ve never paid much attention to your sodium intake before, try it out for a week. Or even a day! I think you’ll be surprised.

– albledsoe

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We’re planning a brunch wedding shower for my sister next month, and I needed some good food ideas (not that it’s a difficult task, brunch is my favorite meal!). Sara sent along this delicious recipe from Whole Foods that I knew I’d have to try. I did a test run recently on a rare Sunday when my husband was off work, and we both loved it.

Quinoa egg bake fresh from the oven

The dish was quick, simple, had few ingredients, and reheated well. I actually thought it was better the second day, and it was nice to have a fast and hot breakfast before work. Quinoa is a great plant source of protein, and eggs and garlic are superfoods as well.

...and on my plate!

We rounded out the brunch meal with Al Fresco apple chicken sausage (which I’d never have but highly recommend) and wheat toast with homemade apricot preserves (thanks, Eva!). Yummy way to start a Sunday, that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to serving this up at the wedding shower!

– albledsoe

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Even though the commercials promoting high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) have been out since late 2008, I just saw one this weekend and got all fired up about it. The campaign is an attempt by corn refiners to refute the bad reputation earned by HFCS.

Here’s the commercial I saw this weekend:

The commercial claims HFCS is made from corn, doesn’t have artificial ingredients, and is fine in moderation, “like sugar.”

Here’s the thing: made from corn doesn’t necessarily equal natural or healthy. The processing performed on HFCS renders it unrecognizable from its original form and I try not to eat much that doesn’t resemble actual food, even if it “doesn’t have artificial ingredients.”

It also may be fine in moderation (though I’ve rid my pantry of it), but it’s nearly impossible to avoid with its prevalance in food in America. HFCS is in a huge percentage of processed and packaged foods. It is not calorie free, it offers no health benefits, and can be harmful in the mass amounts we consume.

The commercial with all its ‘facts’ also forgets to mention the destruction to the environment caused by the farming and manufacturing of the corn needed to meet the massive demand for this stuff.

I do agree that people who blame the entire obesity epidemic in the US on high fructose corn syrup are a little extreme. But a commercial like this is not the answer (but is it worse than the Taco Bell diet?).

It’s just another cheap, convenient substitute for quality that is literally killing us. Check it out for yourself, and as the commercial says, “get the facts,” to make the best decision for you and your family.

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Nuts for this snack

Adam texted me from work yesterday morning:

“OMG I can’t quit eating these pistachios!”

I completely know the feeling. Since Sara and I were roommates in the tiny apartment above Mr. Ed’s our senior year at Murray State, pistachios have been a favorite snack. They’d somehow fallen off the radar until I saw them on sale at the grocery a month or two ago. Now I’m dragging my husband down with my nutty snack habits!

pistachios

Pistachios are a heart-healthy, filling snack

Actually, though, pistachios are a great choice for a snack. They contain heart-healthy fats, antioxidents, loads of vitamins and minerals, plus a ton of fiber, so they keep you feeling fuller longer. Sometimes the shells are dyed, but don’t eat those. Stick with the lovely natural beige shells and yummy green nut.

Aside from all the health mumbo-jumbo, pistachios are just pretty darn fun to eat. They are generally bagged in the shells, but they’re easy to shell and just enough of a distraction. Bad thing is, you can get in the zone and eat an entire bag in one sitting…try to pre-portion them to keep some self-control!

Pistachios are generally harvested in September, and more than 98 percent of the U.S. supply comes from California, so if you’re a locavore, they’re probably not on your list (unless you’re lucky enough to live on the West Coast). But in the Bledsoe household, they’re a healthy treat we just can’t get enough of.

– albledsoe

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I’m on the third day of my cleanse diet. All I have to do is drink maple syrup, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and water for all three meals. Um, I just bought some bikinis online, size 2. So…I’m gonna look amazing.

– Kelly Kapoor, The Office (season 5)

No matter how desperate you are to keep that New Year’s resolution to lose weight, don’t do this! I have a plan that’s just as simple but won’t leave you looking all strung out: get plenty of sleep, drink a lot water, eat whole foods with a lot of fiber, and sweat for about an hour most days of the week. Love you just the way you are, Kelly Kapoor!

– albledsoe


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A F2BT reader recently commented about her success of getting her son to eat plain broccoli – no butter, no cheese, just the green goodness. I was thrilled to hear about this success with her youngster. This really made me think about how important it is for parents to instill healthy eating habits in their children early in their lives. With childhood obesity on the rise, something is going to have to give. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has tripled since 1980. This accounts for over 9 million kids. As parents, you are a part of the change that has to happen to ensure your kiddos turn into fit and active adults.

I credit my Mom for keeping my diet on track as a youngster. She had a strict “you have to try it” policy at our house that I know shaped my healthy eating choices today. Vegetables were always on my plate and I had a glass of milk with every meal. Growing up we rarely had candy or soda in the house and I probably had McDonald’s once a year. Those items were definitely considered treats and were handed out on special occasions. At dinner there was never a question of having a separate “kids” meal. I ate what the grown-ups ate. If I threw a fit, my plate was taken away. My mom stood strong with the principle of kids will eat if they are hungry.

I’m not a mom yet, but I am an aunt to several kiddos and I’ve spent a lot of time around little ones during meal times. It is possible to teach your kids habits of healthy eating. It’s not easy, but it can be done. You may have picky eaters in your brood, but are they picky because they only like to eat junk? Did your kids know what soda was before they could call it by name?

They are going to see what you eat and what you do, and this is going to shape their view of a “normal” meal. So, if you get take-out 3 nights a week, or you slurp down giant cups of soda everyday, your kids are going to think that is okay. Your habits will become the habits of your children and shape their lifestyle.

I urge you to hold the line on this. Introduce your kids to a balanced diet early. There have been a few cookbooks out that offer tips on how to “hide” veggies in other foods by pureeing them. Yes, it’s great that you are getting your kids to eat servings of vegetables, and I’m all for finding ways to make classic recipes healthier.  But, isn’t it almost just as important to teach them about these nutritious items you are tricking them into eating? There are a number of ways to educate your kids and make healthy eating fun for your whole family.

•   Let them help cook and make your menu for the week
•    Play games – Check out Mypyramid.gov and take advantage of the interactive programs
•    Plant a garden as a family – give them a plant that is theirs to nurture and watch grow

You shape these little lives in so many ways, and the diet you instill today will be the foundation they need to make good choices as teenagers and adults. What works for your family? What are the healthy habits you have given your children?

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Wheat germ, that is. It may not sound all that appetizing, but this grain component is quite tasty and easy to incorporate into your diet. I began using it on the recommendation of my personal trainer because of it’s fiber content. But it’s also a great source of folic acid, magnesium, vitamin E, and many other nutrients.

Turns out the stuff can also help your body deal with stress, according to the YOU docs (Roizen and Oz) at http://www.realage.com. They recommend topping your oatmeal with wheat germ. I do that, but also put it on sandwiches and wraps, mix it in pasta dishes or veggies, stir it into yogurt or cottage cheese, and pretty much anywhere else I can fit in in. I was sprinkling it on cold cereal for awhile, but felt like it was getting wasted because I don’t drink all the milk and there was nothing to make it stick. As the RealAge article suggested, I’ve also baked with it, and it doesn’t change the taste of the food as far as I’ve noticed. I mixed it into the cornbread I took to a family dinner, and no one could tell.

Is there anything you add to your food to sneak in some extra nutritional value?

– albledsoe

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