We’ve all been faced with a familiar situation–you’re doing really well, eating a healthy diet, then it’s time to go on vacation and BAM! all sanity goes to the wind. I’m here to tell you it is possible to go away, stay focused on eating healthy and still enjoy yourself. I’ll even use my recent trip as an example.
A couple of weeks ago I went out to Las Vegas to accompy my husband who was attending a conference. If you’re at all familiar with Vegas, you know that it’s known for (aside from the gambling and shows) it’s many restaurants and all-you-can-eat buffets–the latter a danger zone for anyone trying to be careful about their diet. I am of the mindset that no person needs to be eating “all you can,” ever. I mean seriously, what are we, bears who are going into hybernation?? Aside from the fact that stuffing myself is going to wreak havoc on my waistline, I’m going to feel very uncomfortable afterward (does the word “indigestion” come to mind?). So, I was intent that I was going to stick to my healthy eating plan regardless of the fact that I was away from home.
What’s great is that many hotels and restaurants are offering a lot of fruit and vegetable options these days. We stayed at the Bellagio and they, along with most of the hotels in Vegas, have multiple restaurant options within the hotel. The first night we arrived I was tired from the long flight and not all that hungry so we decided to go to the Asian restaurant in the hotel and I decided to order a bowl of their won ton soup. I wanted something warm and comforting as I was planning to go to bed early that evening. This soup was far better than any won ton soup I’ve ever had. It was packed full of bok choy, green onions and even some broccoli rabe! The dumplings were shrimp instead of the traditional pork, which I really enjoyed.
Breakfasts at the hotel’s main restaurant were excellent. Yes, I could have ordered high calorie or fat options, but it was really easy to order healthy meals as well. My favorite was the “spa” omelet, which was made with egg whites and asparagus and served with sliced tomatoes. Very filling and low in both fat and calories. My husband and I would also order a bowl of cut, fresh fruit and share it. The variety was wonderful–melon, berries, pineapple and grapes. There was more than enough for both of us. Lunches were salad made with a variety of greens (spinach, mesclun, arugula) and other fruits and veggies. Sometimes I’d get grilled chicken or fish as a topping.
We had dinner at two different restaurants–one Italian and one a steak restaurant. At the Italian restaurant we were dining with some of my husband’s colleagues. It was funny that the entire table ordered the same green salad, which was excellent–mixed greens with a variety of veggies and topped with pomegranate seeds in a light citrus dressing. For my entree, I opted to go with a pasta dish that was simple. Linguine made with chopped tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil–a basic pomodoro sauce. The last evening of our stay we ate at the steak restaurant. My husband enjoys steak and since I don’t prepare it at home, he does like going to a good restaurant when we’re away. I chose a pan roasted Dover sole and steamed asparagus, which was delicious. I can always find a fish that I enjoy at any steak place so we’re both happy going there.
I obviously very much enjoyed my stay and didn’t at all feel deprived while I was in Vegas–quite the opposite in fact since I was eating some dishes I don’t normally prepare like the Dover sole. However, I kept to my typical mindset of eating a healthy diet that is filled with fruit and vegetables, low in fat and full of nutrition. Of course I treated myself to a pastry from the French bakery while I was there–everybody should work in a favorite food here and there! The best part–when I got home I had actually lost a pound! Probably from the extra walking I was doing during the day sightseeing. It’s all about taking the time to make the right choices. Here are a few more tips about choices when you dine out. It can help you when you go on vacation or even the next time you go out to eat!
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This week, I welcome Dianne Mower, author of The Healthy Eating Organisation blog. Dianne’s passion is simple, she wants to deliver sensible, realistic information on how to improve the health benefits of every meal for her readers. Her recipes are easy to follow and she shows how to use food to maximize the nutritional benefits, while still enjoying great taste. Her website offers interviews, food information, recipes and reviews. Dianne highlights one of our favorite veggies this week–kale!
Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Seacrest, Woody Harrelson all rave about this vegetable. Kale plays a star part in their diet. Most celebs are busy people who need to look good all the time. It is therefore important that the nutritional quality of their diet delivers everything they need to function optimally. As people in the public eye, they need to look good and feel good.
So why is kale so popular? Isn’t it ‘just’ a green vegetable? Why are they so enthusiastic about it? And how could it taste interesting enough to eat regularly?
Kale is indeed a green leafy vegetable. It is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables which also includes: broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage greens. It’s funny looking stuff and comes in lots of leaf varieties–curly, plan, Cavolo nero and some others which are less well known.
It packs a powerful punch when it comes to nutrients. It is high in vitamins A, C, B, K, beta-carotene and fiber. It is a great source of the minerals calicium, magnesium copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Kale is also high in plant (phyto) nutrients.
This is a high nutrition food. You don’t have to eat much to get a good hit of vital nutrients, plus it’s low in calories and fat. It’s easy to see why celebrities would choose it when they want to glow with good health, keep in shape and and their weight down. However, that’s all very interesting, but how do you eat it?
Firstly, always buy and use fresh kale. If it looks limp or smells ‘old,’ then stick it in the compost. It will be past its best and frankly not worth eating as any nutritional value other than the fiber will have deteriorated.
Wash the kale well and do not take the stem out. For those new to kale, I suggest you shred it finely, add to boiling water for 2-3 minutes, drain and try the following ideas:
- Add into any pasta dishes
- Stir well into mashed potato, with a glug of olive oil, crushed garlic and a sprinkle of fresh herbs
- Drizzle with a little olive oil and a shake of black pepper to accompany any dish
- Stir through a risotto just before serving
After washing well, drain, spin dry and shred finely then try:
- Adding the shredded kale to soups and casseroles just before serving
- Use as part of a green salad with other leaves
- Tear the whole washed leaves and rub with a peeled avocado, leave for 30 minutes and then add other chopped salad ingredients; spring onions, cucumber, peppers plus some crushed garlic and a little fruit vinegar
- Stir into pasta or rice salads
Kale is very versatile, deeply nutritious and so adaptable. The biggest challenge is letting go of the idea that as a green leafy vegetable it is boring and maybe bland. It is neither; it is a nutritional and flavor powerhouse.
In fact you might say; it’s an Oscar winner.
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The spring months typically mean a sense of renewed energy, anticipation for summer fun and vacations, and an overall feeling of well-being. That is, unless your a teenager or a parent of one. Don’t get me wrong–all these things still apply, but as we approach the end of the school year there are certain life events that can instill some serious stress in our kids lives. Having twins means a double dose of the “springtime stress” in my house and I thought it might be helpful to other parents who are also dealing with this to highlight a few things that can be stress “triggers” and what we as parents can do to help our kids through these difficult months.
- It’s SAT time! Yes, if you have an upperclassman (typically a Junior) in your house, they may be taking the SAT (college exam) for the first time. As many of you know from taking it yourself, this is one monster of a test. Plus, they’ve since added an essay to the exam, which makes even more pleasant. Basically what this means for your child is that in addition to his regular school work, he’ll be spending more time trying to prepare for this test. Most kids are very nervous about taking it and see it as a “do or die” situation. Try to lessen the stress by letting them know that they will have an opportunity to take the exam again in the fall and make sure they are getting enough rest since sleep deprivation can impact their ability to concentrate. In addition, a healthy diet and some regular exercise has been shown to help students reach their academic potential. Most importantly, the day of the SAT, make certain your teen has a healthy breakfast that will keep him satisfied throughout the morning so he can stay focused on the exam.
- Prom drama. Okay, I’m not talking anything as extreme as the movie “Carrie,” but Junior and Senior proms do bring a certain drama to a teen’s life, especially if you have a daughter. Aside from the whole, “Is someone going to ask me?” or “Should I ask someone?” and “Will she say yes?” flurry of activity that goes on, for teen girls there is the bigger issue of THE DRESS. It’s a major decision that requires several serious discussions with their friends and knowing what “everyone else” will be wearing before deciding on the selection. Let me warn any parents who haven’t already gone through this–be strong–there are some seriously inappropriate gowns out there. I did a little searching on my own before we went shopping and set guidelines ahead of time so there would be no surprises. Be careful that your daughter doesn’t try to buy something that doesn’t fit and thinks she’ll “diet” before prom and squeeze into it. One thing you want to watch is that you don’t have your child practicing any of these starvation diets. If she wants to lose a few pounds, encourage her to do it the smart way by exercising and eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and veggies.
- Finals fiasco. Similar to SATs, the end of the school year brings finals for teenagers. Again, it’s stressful and while it’s a life experience your teen has to endure, you can help them by giving them tips on managing their time. A lot of kids are still learning how to manage their time the best way–I know mine are. They get better at it with each passing year, but when I see that they are starting to get to that breaking point I sit down with them and we discuss what’s going on and usually it’s a simple fix of how they can better juggle their strategy of preparing for the exams. Make sure their not pulling all nighters (I’m constantly reminding John that leaving things for the last minute is not going to work).
Before you know it, it will be June and your teens will be off enjoying the summer fun and sun …before they get to do it all over again next year!
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“Salad” sandwiches are a lunch favorite. Tuna, chicken or egg salad–they appear on cafeteria and diner menus and we enjoy them from a young age. And, while the traditional versions of these longtime favorites are very tasty, they are usually high in fat and lacking in fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the case and what’s even better is that you can update the old recipe, reduce the fat content, add more fiber, vitamins and make it even more delicious!
Let’s start with tuna salad. The basic recipe typically calls for tuna, mayonnaise, chopped celery and maybe some minced onion. Now take a look at this Tuna Apple Salad Sandwich recipe. It uses a low-fat yogurt, chopped apple, parsley, raisins and chopped walnuts in the recipe, which adds additional nutrients and fiber while reducing the fat content. The additional ingredients also boosts the salad’s flavor.
A traditional chicken salad recipe calls for chopped chicken, mayonnaise and chopped celery. Honey Chicken Salad w/Grapes & Feta omits the mayonnaise completely and instead creates a dressing using honey, lemon and vinegar. Green onions and feta add flavor, as do the sweetness of the grapes. Wheat berries add an extra crunch and texture to the salad.
When working with egg salad you’ve got to be careful not to overpower the flavor. One fruit that perfectly compliments egg salad is the avocado. Plus, avocados are a great substitution for mayonnaise–they mimic the creaminess, but add a heart healthy fat. This recipe for Avocado Egg Salad even discards the egg yolks, which reduces the fat content even more.
It’s really about tailoring recipes to your tastes. I’ve experimented with things that I enjoy and here are more ideas you might like:
- Add sundried tomatoes and capers to tuna salad w/reduced fat mayonnaise or low-fat yogurt as the base
- Add currants, almonds and sliced grapes to chicken salad w/low-fat yogurt as the base
- Add citrus fruits (Mandarin oranges, grapefruit) to chicken salad and make a honey/lime dressing
- Try putting your favorite salad into a hollowed out fresh tomato as a serving idea–this is especially good during the summer months when tomatoes are at their peak
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