12/25/2008

Have a Very Merry Christmas

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Christmas Tree 2008As you’re enjoying the holiday today, remember to:

  • Keep the meals light: No matter what is served at Christmas you can keep your meals light by choosing small portions. Don’t deny yourself the traditional foods that you only get once a year, but keep the portion size SMALL and you’ll give yourself a present this year.

  • Put away the food after the meal: Leaving the food out is an invitation to graze all day long. After the meal is over, put the food away.

  • Take a walk with your family after Christmas Dinner: You’ll burn off some of the calories and prevent food coma.

  • Play in the snow with the kids: Christmas is the one time of the year when parents actually PLAY with their children. Make it an active time and throw some snowballs or built a snow fort in the backyard.

  • Remember it’s a holiDAY, not a holiWEEK: Christmas is ONE day. Don’t continue celebrating with food after today is over.

As always, have a happy holiday and be here bright and early tomorrow morning for more inspiration!

12/20/2008

Clementine Season Is Here Again

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Clementines are easy to peelYou can only buy Clementines during this time of the year, and lately, you can only buy them in a HUGE bag. I’ve talked about Clementines before:

My favorite aspect of clementines is how easy they are to peel and the fact that they have no seeds. I DON’T like that I have to buy a huge container of them instead of being able to just buy a couple at a time. The big box of clementines inevitably goes bad before I can finish them all.

NOT THIS YEAR!

This year, Mike had a great idea. We took half of the clementines, peeled them and put them in plastic bags to freeze them.

Frozen Clementines

“I don’t think you can freeze citrus,” I told Mike. “They’re going to go bad anyway, so let’s just try it,” he replied, “Maybe they’ll be like frozen grapes.”

Just last week, I tried using the frozen clementines in a smoothie and they worked PERFECTLY!

Clementine Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen clementine sections
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tsps of healthy oil (I like to sneak it into treats so I don’t notice it)
  • 1 packet of Stevia (or Splenda) – optional (most of the time the clementines are sweet enough)

Put all the ingredients into the blender and mix on high until smooth.

1 serving – Approximately 250 calories – 5 WW Points – 2 fruit, 2 oil and 1 milk serving.

The smoothie tasted like a healthy dreamsicle, and I LOVE that I get to check off so many boxes on my food journal.

Clementines are only available for a short time each year, so make sure you grab a bag of them and enjoy them both fresh AND frozen.

12/19/2008

Frozen Grapes: Healthy Diet Staple

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I had never heard of freezing grapes until about five years ago. We had just moved into our present house and the back yard had grape vines. We had so many grapes that there was no possible way for us to eat them all. A friend of mine recommended that we freeze them.

Frozen Grapes

You don’t have to do anything special, you just wash them, pull them off the vine and freeze them in a ziploc bag. You can take them out later, defrost them to eat. You can eat them frozen (my favorite after a hot workout). You can put them in smoothies to make delicious grape shakes. Here is my recipe for that:

Grape Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen grapes
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tsps of healthy oil (I like to sneak it into treats so I don’t notice it)
  • 1 packet of Stevia (or Splenda) – optional (most of the time the grapes are sweet enough)

Put all the ingredients into the blender and mix on high until smooth.

1 serving – Approximately 250 calories – 5 WW Points – 2 fruit, 2 oil and 1 milk serving.

Without frozen grapes, eating healthy would be much more difficult for me. If you are having a hard time getting all your fruit servings in, get a bunch of grapes today and freeze them in one cup bags today. Then all you need to do each day is take out one bag and you knock out two servings in one punch.

12/17/2008

Easy Meals: Refried Beans

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I have been racking my brain trying to think of easy things to cook just like the Mexi-Beans and the Italian Beans. This week, I came up with this one.

Refried Beans – 5 Points – Serves 3

IngredientsEasy Meals: Refried Beans by LauraMoncur from Flickr

  • 1 can of fat-free refried beans
  • 1 small can of corn
  • 1 bottle of salsa
  • 3/4 cup of shredded cheese
  • 3 tsp of Mexican seasoning
  • 3 Glad or Ziploc bowls

Directions

  • Open the can of refried beans and divide among the three bowls.
  • Drain the can of corn and divide among the three bowls.
  • Open the bottle of salsa and divide between the three bowls. This is ALOT of salsa, so if you’re sensitive to spiciness, make sure you choose the mild.
  • Add 1 tsp of Mexican seasoning to each bowl. You can also spice it up with Tabasco sauce, taco sauce packets from Taco Bell, etc.
  • Add 1/4 cup shredded cheese to each bowl.
  • Cover the bowls and put them in the fridge.

When it’s time to eat, pull out a bowl from the fridge, crack the lid and cook in the microwave for 2 minutes. This recipe makes three meals and it’s EASY!

Easy Meals: Refried Beans by LauraMoncur from Flickr

I usually heat one up immediately (only takes one minute when everything is at room temperature) and then store the other two for later. I count this as one protein, one dairy and two veggies. It’s a little more points than Mexi-Beans, but it’s a nice change of pace so I don’t get bored eating the same thing all the time.

12/15/2008

You Can’t Hide Your Diet

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

This funny photo from Lolcats says everything:

LOLCats: Diet Fish

It reads:

Diet: Fish (on the thin cat)
Diet: Birds (on the thin cat)
Diet: Yorkshire Terriers (on the medium sized cat)
Diet: Cheezburgers (on the fat cat)

Sometimes I like to believe that no one can tell what I have been eating. If they didn’t see me eat it, they can’t tell, right?

Wrong.

They can tell EXACTLY how I eat just by LOOKING at me. My body reveals my diet far more readily than I like to believe.

12/13/2008

Carnivore, Omnivore, Herbivore

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

This funny photo from Lolcats made me laugh:

LOLCats: Carnivore

It reads:

What part of CARNIVORE confuses you?

Cats ARE carnivores, which means they only eat meat. Cows are herbivores, which means they only eat vegetable matter. If you’re a human herbivore, you tend to call yourself Vegan, but the human animal is an omnivore.

Which means we can eat EVERYTHING.

We can eat meat. We can eat grains. We can eat garbage. We can eat anything. That’s great news in a famine and it’s probably the reason why we’re at the top of the food chain, but when we are overweight, it’s time to realize that we are NOT in a famine. We are NOT starving.

Just because we can eat everything, doesn’t mean we should.

There are foods that will help us be healthier. Concentrating on those foods and letting the things that pass for food pass us by is the first lesson we need to learn in a healthier life.

If you need a refresher course on what is food and what is not, here is something to get you started:

  • Vegetables and Fruits
  • Whole Wheat Pasta, Brown Rice, Potatoes and Grains
  • Lean Meats, Poultry, Fish, Legumes and Eggs
  • Fat-Free Dairy Products
  • Healthy Oils

It’s kind of a simple list when you stick to it. Twinkies? Not food. We CAN eat it because we’re omnivores, but it’s not something a caveman would recognize as food.

Your body is crying out for this food every time you feel hungry. Feed yourself well and you won’t have to worry about health or weight gain.

Here’s a kitten who LIKES his greens:

Maybe he’s too young to know he’s a carnivore. :)

12/11/2008

Easy Meals: Italian Beans

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I love Mexi-Beans and they are a great way to get me back on track eating healthy, but the problem is, I get sick of them REALLY easily. Earlier this week, I couldn’t bear the thought of eating another bowl of them, so I desperately ravaged my cupboard in an attempt to find anything that would give me two servings of vegetables and one serving of protein. I created Italian Beans and here is the recipe.

Italian Beans – 2 Points – Serves 3

IngredientsEasy Meals: Italian Beans by LauraMoncur from Flickr

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts (packed in brine NOT oil)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 tsp of garlic salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp of oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp of basil
  • 3 Glad or Ziploc bowls

Directions

  • Open and drain the can of garbanzo beans
  • Pour the can of garbanzo beans into one of the Glad bowls. Fill the bowl with water and gently rinse the beans. Drain the water and divide the beans between the three bowls.
  • Drain the can of artichoke hearts. Divide the beans evenly between the three bowls.
  • Open the can of tomatoes and divide between the three bowls.
  • Add 1 tsp of garlic salt, 1/2 tsp of oregano and 1/2 tsp of basil to each bowl. If you want to finish off your oil requirement for the day, add 2 tsp of olive oil to each bowl (it will add 2 points to this recipe).
  • Cover the bowls and put them in the fridge.

When it’s time to eat, pull out a bowl from the fridge, crack the lid and cook in the microwave for 2 minutes. This recipe makes three meals and it’s EASY!

If you notice, the recipe is just as easy as Mexi-Beans, but it tastes completely different so I’m not sick of it. Additionally, I can stock up on the ingredients for this recipe and store them in the cupboard (or downstairs in food storage) for a long time. I love knowing that I have something tasty in the cupboard that just needs me to open three cans and we can eat.

12/6/2008

Salad Wrap [Shake That Salad] by Sniper Twins

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

God, I LOVE this video!

Who would have known that eating a salad could be so cool? I love the lyrics:

Why everybody in the bodego wanna crane their necks to stare at me?
I was out on the block tryin’ to make those Gs.
I was stopped at a shop tryin’ to get my greens.
Hook me up with a salad, boy. Don’t start smirkin’, you might get spurred.
I like the vinaigrettes on the H-E-word!
Shake it up nice, don’t say a word.
I’m just tryin’ to get my dine on. Salad help me keep my grind on.
Keep the gully and I down my cash.
Salad in my tummy ’cause I eat my stash.
I’m a type a dude trying to track my car.
I’m a type a dude prob’ly jack your car.
So when you see me snackin’ on the baby greens
Don’t get a twist, this boy is mean.

Best believe, my momma raised me right.
Made me help the dishes nearly every night.
Said the secret to life is eatin’ light.
Tasty nutrition in every bite.
Nowadays, I don’t eat baby tomatoes ’cause I’m a big boy.
Pick the ones as big as fists and eat dem with bok choy.
Baby so lucky to find a brother
Whose blood pressure ain’t about to rupture.
I keep it on the low-low with cucumbers.
Fried food? Hell, no, not for supper.
Eat light and I leave some room so I can have my cake too.
Bring out an order of tiramasu.
One slice, but spoons for two.

Let me see you shake that salad, shake, shake, shake.
Crack that pepper, tell me when, when, when.
Let me see you shake that ranch, shake, shake, shake.
Shred some cheese? Tell me when, when, when.

When I step into a steakhouse, baby, tell you, trouble’s my name.
I don’t care what’s the best dish, baby, it’s all the same.
I see the waiters look me up and down, they’re runnin’ away.
You know why? I know why. Because I’m the Salad Shaker
And I use a calculator as a calorie intaker
And I never make mistakes. I’m a nutrition calibrator.
Because I’m slicin’ and dicin’.
I like Romaine not the icin’.
I crumble blue cheese and croutons to top my salad so nicely.

When I’m creepin’ ’round the block, a salad won’t hold me down.
When I’m mashin’ up guac and smearing it on my chow
I hit the gas with my feet, I mash on the beat, I pass on the meat
I gotta salad on the passenger seat.
Oh you laughin’ at me? You crackin’ at me?
You think you make a salad so much faster than me? You trash, G!
I mix it up and I shake it up. Put a salad in a bag and I tape it up.
Put it in the freezer for ’bout half hour. Serve it up chilled with three cheese powder.

Let me see you shake that salad, shake, shake, shake.
Crack that pepper, tell me when, when, when.
Let me see you shake that ranch, shake, shake, shake.
Shred some cheese? Tell me when, when, when.

Who could ask for anything more in a rap video? Inspiration, attitude and recipes! Next time you feel like you can’t eat another salad, watch this video for a little inspiration!

12/5/2008

Weight Watchers Momentum Plan

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Weight Watchers is starting a new eating plan called the Momentum Plan. If you have been planning on going to Weight Watchers as soon as the holiday is over, you should join now because they are teaching their current members about the plan THIS WEEK!

If you are a Weight Watchers eTools member, you can learn about it now. If not, you can sign up for it online for only $17 a month with a $30 startup fee.

The Momentum Plan

Before the Momentum Plan, Weight Watcher members had two plans to choose from: Flex and Core. Now, everyone will be on the same plan: Momentum. They have taken the best of both plans to create Momentum. Their whole philosophy is, “Don’t eat less, eat smarter.” The new plan still incorporates a lot of the favorites:

  • The Weight Watchers Points System
  • The weekly Points Allowance
  • The Good Health Guidelines
  • The Filling Foods List

Filling Foods

The new aspect of this plan is the Filling Foods List. The concept is that if you choose foods that are higher in fiber and water content, they will keep you fuller for longer than if you eat other foods. There are studies that have found that people will eat the same volume of food every day. The actual SPACE that the food takes in your stomach might have more to do with how full you feel than the calories, fat, or protein.

On this point, I have an issue with Weight Watchers. Personally, I have found that I can eat a small amount of food and stay full for a long time as long as it has enough protein. The size of the food can affect my “emotional” hunger. If I’m eating to make myself feel better, then the feeling of being “full” can make me feel better, but for actual satiety, I need protein, not fiber and water. Now, they have lean meats on their filling foods list, but they are promoting the water and fiber content far more than the protein.

The Filling Food List has basically just replaced the Core Foods List. In fact, even though they say they only have ONE plan now, they DO have the Simply Filling Technique, in which you can eat from the Filling Foods List to a feeling of satisfaction, just like the old Core Plan. It is considered another way to keep track instead of a different plan. In essence, they want all of us to eat from the Filling Foods List, whether we track our food or not.

Food Tracking

They are really promoting tracking your food intake. This makes sense, since SO MANY studies have shown that people who keep a food journal end up eating healthier and losing more weight than those who keep it all in their head. The Points System is so easy that it’s possible to keep it in your head, but writing it down really makes it more real. Weight Watchers eTools has made is SO easy for me to keep track because I’m at a computer all day.

30 Minutes of Exercise Every Day

One of the Good Health Guidelines is 30 minutes of exercise every day. This was part of their Move More program before, but now they are saying that it’s important to get it in every day. When I first started Weight Watchers, they always recommended exercise, but they also said that you could lose weight without it on their plan. I’m pretty stoked that they are making exercise a higher priority now.

Managing Hunger

Their new program has a great training section on Managing Hunger and recognizing whether you’re really hungry or if you are tempted to eat for other reasons. This is a nice program and worth going to the Weight Watcher classes just for this. Learning how to listen to your body is really important.

Helpful Habits

The Helpful Habits section is another new aspect of the Momentum Plan. They have tracked down the eight things that successful Weight Watcher members do:

  • Ask for help
  • Learn from experience
  • Manage your environment
  • Manage your feelings
  • Manage your thoughts
  • Monitor yourself
  • Prepare yourself
  • Take care of yourself

There is a training segment for each of these that will help you learn these habits for yourself. These aren’t a simple replacement for the Tools For Living. They are habits that you can teach yourself to keep on track.

SetPoints Values

SetPoints Values are a way of tracking foods from the Filling Foods List. If you watch your hunger signals and take a portion that seems “reasonable,” you can just count the food as its SetPoints Value instead of trying to figure out its actual Points value. Using this, they really want you to assess your hunger levels. This incorporates some of the concepts of the Core Plan into the Momentum Plan.

Not So Different

All in all, the new Momentum Plan is not that different from the previous plans. They appear to be mixing the Flex Plan and the Core Plan into one process, urging you to eat healthier foods and keeping track of them in a way that works best for you.

The best part of the Momentum Plan is that it’s new and different and there is a whole new set of materials to get every week right when we need them the most: the holiday season. If you have been thinking that you’ll join Weight Watchers after January first, get the jump on your New Years Resolution and do it NOW. You have enough time to lose five pounds before the first of the year, instead of gaining the typical fifteen.

There are so many reasons to eat healthy this season and only one reason to eat unhealthy. Start living right now and don’t put it off until January.

Update 12-09-08: I have created a new version of my food journal form that works with the new Momentum Plan. You can download it here:

If you aren’t a wiz at Microsoft Excel, you can order a food journal here:

12/4/2008

Christmas Survival Roundup

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Over the years, I’ve written some pretty good entries about surviving the Christmas season and keeping healthy. You can see the entries here:

Whether you’re shopping at the mall and trying to eat healthy or using it as your workout, there are a bunch of tools here to help you stay on your program while you get ready for the holiday.

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