3 Ways to Be Mindful in the Kitchen

The kitchen can be a very stressful place, especially when things get busy. Weeknights in particular can get hectic with running errands, completing homework and cooking a healthy dinner. Here are three ways you can be more mindful in the kitchen to help alleviate some stress.

  1. Create calm out of chaos.

Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness, recommends the following technique to help make rational choices in the kitchen: “First take a very deep breath and exhale to a slow count of 10. This simple exercise tells your body to relax and helps you make rational choices like actually cooking your meal instead of eating it cold from the fridge! (I know I’m not the only one.) Then do one quick thing that makes you happy. I like to play soothing or energizing music, depending on my mood. Even if you’re not excited to prepare your meal, find a benefit that does excite you — like ‘I’m happy to save money and take care of my body by cooking at home’ — and let that be your motivation to heat up the kitchen.”

  1. Cook simple and relax.

Instead of making your life difficult and more stressful, choose cooking methods that are simple with few ingredients. For example, use a dry rub or marinade for meat and poultry, then place the protein right in the oven or grill to cook. When your food is cooking, take a few minutes to sit in a chair, relax and enjoy the delicious smell of the food you’re about to eat.

  1. Choose convenience.

If buying some convenient foods helps you save time in the kitchen and thereby reduces your food prep stress, then go for it. Convenient foods that can fit into a healthy-eating plan include canned legumes and vegetables with low or no-added salt, frozen vegetables with no added butter or sauces, and precut vegetables and fruit. When writing your shopping list, be mindful to jot down these ingredients, and feel good that you’re helping yourself minimize stress.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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Refresh Your Fitness Routine For the New Year

Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or a resolution-driven exercise newbie, there are always ways to freshen up your routine. If your New Year’s resolutions involve getting more exercise, use these strategies to set yourself up for success.

Gear

Instead of calorie-laden celebrations, reward your hard work with a little retail therapy. Set realistic exercise goals such as a personal record on the treadmill or increased daily steps for a week, and then reward yourself with some new threads. Target and Kohl’s have durable and fashionable exercise clothing and shoes. Under Armour, Athleta and Lululemon offer high-end options that fit beautifully and are on trend with latest fashions. No matter what your budget you can find some new gear to get excited about.

 

Fuel

In the wake of holiday gluttony, it’s likely time to freshen up your diet. This doesn’t mean slashing all calories as you need fuel for workouts, but giving some elements of your diet an upgrade can have a big impact.

Focus on healthy breakfasts to start your day. Whip up oatmeal spiked with a spoonful of peanut butter and sliced banana, a smoothie made with frozen fruit, Greek yogurt and coconut water, or an on-the-go egg sandwich stacked with baby spinach and Canadian bacon.

Reach for protein-rich snacks to close out a workout. Chocolate milk is always a good choice to give muscles what they need, as are choices like cottage cheese with fruit and honey, trail mix or a burrito with chicken breast and brown rice.

 

Cross Train

A change of season calls for different methods of exercise. Changing up the type of activity will help parts of your body get some rest while working other more neglected muscles groups. If you’re a runner take some yoga classes, if you’re into barre try spinning, and if you focus mostly on weight training up your cardio time. This switch will likely burn more calories and make you stronger overall.

 

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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Diet 101: The Low FODMAP Diet

Last month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics held its annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo, at which it shared the latest nutrition research and hottest new products with thousands of dietitians. One of the most-popular trends to emerge was the focus on gut health and low-FODMAP food products.

What Is a FODMAP?

Coined by researchers at Monash University in Australia, the term FODMAP refers to different types of carbohydrates in foods. With a “short-chain” chemical structure, these carbohydrates are not absorbed in people with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

FODMAP is an acronym for:

Fermentable, or carbs that are quickly broken down by bacteria to produce gas

Oligosaccharides. Humans do not have enzymes to break down and absorb these types of carbohydrates, leading to fermentation and gas.

Disaccharides, specifically lactose. Many IBS sufferers cannot digest lactose, which causes gastrointestinal discomfort.

Monosaccharides, or fructose, which is not well-absorbed if there is excess glucose present.

And

Polyols, or sugar alcohols. These are not completely digested by humans, and they are sometimes marketed as a laxative.

The Low-FODMAP Diet

Because foods that contain FODMAPs are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, eating them can cause distention, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss and anemia in a person with IBS. Some sufferers follow a low-FODMAP diet in an attempt to alleviate these symptoms and identify and eliminate trigger foods.

The plan is extremely strategic and begins with a two-to-six-week elimination phase, in which all high-FODMAP foods are removed from the diet. Following this diet is no small task, because FODMAPs are prevalent in many foods, including:

Fruits Vegetables Grains Beans & Legumes Dairy Sugar & Sugar Alcohols
apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, plums, prunes, avocados, watermelon, pears, peaches, mangoes, sugar snap peas, dried fruit, fruit juice, persimmons artichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, leeks, onions, shallots wheat
rye
peas
chickpeas
lentils
kidney beans
baked beans
ice cream
soft cheeses
agave or honey
high-fructose corn syrup products like ketchup
BBQ sauce and syrup
artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol and xylitol

 

During the elimination phase, a registered dietitian provides guidance and encourages the use of a food journal to track food intake and correlating symptoms. Based on these results, the dietitian will create an individualized, well-balanced meal plan that allows the reintroduction of certain foods and the eventual easing of IBS symptoms.

Pros

The low-FODMAP diet offers relief from the constant gastrointestinal issues related to IBS. Plus, this diet is not a fad or a trend; it is based in scientific evidence and research. In other words, it has been tested and proven safe and effective. The low-FODMAP diet also offers peace of mind, eases anxiety and expands food choices for IBS sufferers who were once scared to eat many types of foods.

Cons

Obviously, the low-FODMAP diet is extremely restrictive, and it’s not easy for people to remember the long list of foods that contain FODMAPs. Also, with the limited nature of the diet comes the risk of compromising overall nutrition. For example, limiting fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds can also lead to a less-than-ideal intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Avoiding dairy reduces calcium and vitamin D intake, which can affect bone health. Without proper guidance from a registered dietitian, the low-FODMAP diet can definitely cause nutritional deficiencies.

Bottom Line

Anyone considering a low-FODMAP diet should consult a medical professional first. If suitable, a low-FODMAP diet can help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.

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Don’t Buy Into the New Year Detox

After spending the past month enjoying one-too-many cookies, peppermint mochas and spiked eggnogs, eliminating last year’s dietary sins seems like the perfect start. Supplements, coffee enemas, juice fasts, heat wraps and teas all promise a new, detoxified body, but do they actually work?

Detoxing is a rare medical need that’s been turned into a billion-dollar industry. Over the last decade, pills, juices, bars and shakes have been promoted as a magical formula to do everything from improving your health and digestion to getting you back into your skinny jeans.

More often than not, detox diets are nothing but liquid calories that lack the major nutrients our bodies need to function optimally. Following one of these cleanses often results in not consuming enough calories, which can leave you grumpy, hungry, and craving sugar, fat and carbs. In other words, starving yourself for a 3-day juice fast may backfire in additional weight gain once completed.

Fasting doesn’t support the body’s natural detox pathway. Our bodies are designed to clean from the inside; detoxing unwanted material daily through our liver, lungs and kidneys. Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber will help your body’s detox pathway function optimally — more than any pill or supplement could.

If you’re motivated to start 2017 out right, follow these 5 simple tips for a healthy start to the new year.

Eat whole foods
A diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds is full of the nutrients needed to support metabolic processes. In addition to an overall balanced diet, you can include certain foods that aid and promote the body’s natural detoxification process. Artichokes, avocados, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, leafy greens, garlic, green apples, lemon and lentils should get the job done.

Stay hydrated
Fluids help flush out our system, and maintain energy and focus. Since it can be more challenging to get in enough water during the colder months, remember that all liquids count. Try hot green or herbal tea, warm lemon water, broth or broth-based soups to help reach your hydration goals.

Focus on fiber
A balanced diet containing whole, plant-based foods makes it easy to reach the 25-38 grams a day recommendation for fiber. Foods high in fiber include raspberries, blackberries, dried figs, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas and oatmeal. If you are not used to a high-fiber diet, introduce these foods slowly and to prevent any intestinal discomfort.

Get moving
Breaking a sweat naturally eliminates impurities through the skin. Exercise stimulates our blood circulation and lymphatic system, which moves fluid through our liver and kidneys for filtration. While running, walking and biking are great aerobic activities, anything that allows you to move your body works. The key is finding a form of movement you enjoy and sticking with it.

Take a probiotic
New research is showing that bacteria found in our gut plays an important role in how our body functions in connection with overall health. Taking a daily probiotic helps ensure we have enough good bacteria to properly digest food and keep things moving.

Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.” 

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Host A Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve

Ever try getting a babysitter on New Year’s Eve? I would rather save the dough and spend the special night in with my kiddos. To keep my kid’s happy, I’ll invite friends and family and their youngsters to join in on the celebration. As a host, this means planning a menu that’s kid and adult friendly — plus some entertainment for the kids so the grownups can relax. Check out these family-friendly dishes that will make everyone happy!

Family-Friendly Bites

Shrimp-Pineapple Skewers

Prosciutto-Wrapped Crudité

Healthy Mozzarella Sticks

Crisp Crab Cakes

Mini Meatballs

 

Family-Friendly Desserts

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

 

Kid-Friendly Mocktails

Eggnog Slimmed

Cranberry Spritzer

Spiced Virgin Apple Martinis

Mixed Citrus Spritzer

Sparkling Shirley

 

Don’t Forget….Kid-Friendly Activities

One of the most important rules when hosting a New Year’s Eve bash with the kids in tow is to have activities planned. If you have elementary school kids or younger, set up pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags on the floor for them to fall asleep on (so the adults can enjoy the rest of the party). Here are five activities I’ve done with fabulous results:

  • Have a karaoke contest (adults can get involved too).
  • Set up art projects (I love foam sticker projects this time of year).
  • Have a dance party. Set up a playlist of kid-friendly tunes and if you like to watch the ball drop, have the kids dance to the performers.
  • Pull out the dress-up chest and don’t forget the high heels and sparkly purses —you’ll get the cutest photos of your little ones.
  • Have a glow stick party to ring in the New Year by inserting glow sticks into balloons and inflating them.
  • Schedule an early countdown to midnight for little guests (they won’t know the difference, promise!).

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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Healthier Cocktail Mixers

Do the holidays bring out your inner mixologist? Do you wish there were better options than all those sugary syrups for mixers? You’re in luck – these three options will immediately upgrade your cocktails.

 

Alcohol Nutrition Facts

A serving of alcohol is equal to 12 fluid ounces of beer, a 5 fluid ounce glass of wine or

a 1.5 fluid ounce shot of hard alcohol. While there is some science that supports the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, booze contains oodles of empty calories. To make matter worse, the increased calories in most popular mixed drinks comes from high sugar mixers like soda, juice, and fake bottled mixers.

 

REAL Juice

Traditional margarita mixes are made from nothing but high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and artificial colors and flavors. Instead make an impeccably crafted cocktail with

RIPE Bar Juice Mixers. The outrageously tasty Agave Margarita is made from cold pressed juices and sweetened with agave. The RIPE line also includes fresh mixes for everything from bloody Marys to cosmos to mojitos and all are made from 100% traceable produce.

 

Herbal Tea

Herbal teas can infuse cocktails with delightfully unique flavors for virtually no calories. Steep a few bags of hibiscus or mint tea ahead of time and chill for behind the bar. For a burst of flavor in a martini or spiked punch add a splash of Cranberry Lemon Flavored Herbal Tea from Honest.

 

Flavored Seltzer

Instead of a sparkling water flavored with fake artificial sweeteners, reach for one with a light sprinkle of sugar. Aquafina Sparkling adds effervescence to cocktails, comes in 3 flavors including Black Cherry Dragnonfruit and Orange Grapefruit, and contains only 10 calories per serving.

 

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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Healthier Holiday Apps

Appetizers are meant to hold your guests over until the meal, not fill them up before it starts! Instead of high calorie gut-busters, serve some of these better-for-everyone finger foods at your next holiday shindig.

Shrimp

Low calorie and high protein shrimp are always a crowd pleaser, and they pair so well with sweet and juicy pineapple.

Recipe: Shrimp Pineapple Skewers

 

Deviled Eggs

This classic recipe gets a makeover using nonfat Greek yogurt instead of calorie-heavy mayo, plus a kick of spice and vinegar.

Recipe: Lighter Southern Deviled Eggs

 

Cheese & Crackers (2 Ways)

A small portion of cheese can be a satisfying snack before a holiday meal. Serve along with fresh fruit like figs or grapes and whole grain crackers. Use these tips for assembling the perfect cheese platter.

Recipe: Mustard Onion Jam Crackers with Figs

 

Dips

Instead of dozens of mediocre dips, make one outstanding one. Serve with fresh veggie sticks to keep the calories low.

Recipes: Hot Crab Dip and Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip (pictured above)

 

Poppers

Heat things up with a more elegant version of the popular pub grub. Yes, even a little bacon is allowed for the festivities!

Recipe: Bacon-Apple-Jalapeno Pop ‘Ems

 

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are an easy way to highlight vegetables on your appetizer table. Keeping the ingredients light with more veggies and a touch of cheese for this filling to make this recipe healthy yet satisfying.

Recipe: Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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