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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why Wait Until January? Move Now!

I'm not a fan of sweating in spandex in public.  Thus, my exercise routine generally involves things such as cycling, walking, yoga and otherwise sweating in the privacy of my own home (more often than not in my pjs).  That being said, it's no surprise that "getting or using a gym membership" will not be on my list of New Year's Resolutions.  However, staying fit certainly is.  A couple times a week I try to make sure that I incorporate some circuit workout and strength training into my routine.  I like choosing my own play list and the freedom of working it into anytime during my day.  So if making some fitness changes is on your list of New Year's Resolutions, why not get a jump on things now and enjoy a healthier holiday season?  Be sure that you are medically cleared for exercise and if you have joint or orthopedic problems, you may want to tweak it a bit to fit your ability.  Here's my bi-(or tri) weekly circuit workout:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Eating: Build a Better Buffet

Eat the best, leave the rest is good rule of thumb to help you navigate the holiday eating scene.  When it comes to food-events, it pays to be picky.  If you don't love it, don't eat it.  There is no room for mediocre this time of year when we are so bombarded with treats, goodies and celebratory eating.

So to avoid both of these buffet blunders, here are some healthier buffet items that you can swap for traditional go-to party-fare (fun, festive food displayed):

1. Instead of creamy crab or artichoke dips and flaky crackers that carry about 150- 200 calories per serving, try: Cranberry pesto crostini.  I love this appetizer!  It is fairly simple - but adds a lot of flavor and wow-factor to your party.  At 100 calories and only 150 mg sodium per baguette slice, it makes it a not only a simple, festive and delicious appetizer, but adding cranberries makes it healthful one as well.  

Here’s why:
Cranberry products - such as cranberry juice, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and fresh cranberries, contain something called flavonoids. A specific type of these that are unique to cranberries actually prevents bacteria from sticking to cell walls – for example, they prevent E. coli from sticking to the walls of the bladder which is how they help prevent urinary tract infections.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg! The international journal Advances in Nutrition did a review of the research and they found that the (bioactive) compounds in cranberries not only help reduce the incidence of certain infections and maintain a healthy urinary tract, but they also improve heart health by improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and improving inflammation.
 So cranberries are a festive way to keep your holiday healthy.  Back to the buffet . . .

2. Instead of fried eggrolls, southwest or otherwise that usually contain at least 200 calories, try:
Mushu Lettuce wraps  At 100 calories per serving - these beat the pants off of any fried egg roll which are usually twice the calories.  Consider letting your guests help with the assembly - as it makes it more fun and efficient.  Or try lettuce wraps instead – one mushu chicken lettuce wrap is only 65 calories.

3. Instead of pigs in a blanket (1 wrapped pig = 70 calories and 5 grams of fat,) try: Bacon-wrapped asparagus (1 spear = 25 calories)

4. Instead of the ubiquitous candy dish, (3 tablespoons = at least 150 calories and no fiber) try:   
Chipotle nut and fruit mix  Such a tasty flavor combination - enjoying healthy nuts and seeds never tasted so good. 3 Tbsp = 115 calories, and 3 grams of fiber. 

5. Instead of egg nog (around 300 calories and 16 grams of fat in 1 cup), try: Cranberry lime sparkler - 1/2 cup cranberry juice, ½ cup sparkling water and a splash of fresh lime juice (60 calories in 1 cup, plus the health benefit of cranberries).

Total savings with these substitutions: 501 calories

Healthful version: (1 serving of each 419 calories, 7 grams fiber).

Original version: (1 serving each: 920 calories, 3 grams fiber)

We talked about eating the best, don’t forget to leave the rest – get off the couch, move around and stay physically active and the holidays will stay healthful as well.


Chipotle nut and fruit mix  Makes about 4 ½ cups (serving 3 Tbsp)

   1/4 cup sugar
   1 teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
   1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
   1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
   1/2 teaspoon chili powder
   1 large egg white
   1 cup slivered almonds
   1 cup unsalted cashews
   1 cup unsalted pumpkinseed kernels
   1 cup dried, reduced sugar cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
3. Place egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Add the almonds, cashews, and pumpkinseeds; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with spice mixture; toss well to coat. Spread nuts in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325° for 15 minutes, stirring once. Turn oven off. Remove pan from oven; stir snack mix. Immediately return pan to oven for an additional 15 minutes (leave oven off). Remove pan from oven, stir in dried cranberries and place on a wire rack; cool completely. Store snack mix in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving
Calories: 115 Fat: 9.7g Saturated fat: 1.4g Monounsaturated fat: 5.8g Polyunsaturated fat: 2g Protein: 4.5g Carbohydrate: 7.3g Fiber: 3g Cholesterol: 0.0mg Iron: 1.1mg Sodium: 175mg Calcium: 23mg

Cranberry Pesto Crostini Makes 24 Crostini

   1 cup fresh cranberries
   1 cup prepared or homemade pesto
   Goat Cheese, spreadable, or cream cheese
   Baguette Rounds, toasted 24 each or crackers
   Capers for garnish, if desired
   Pulse pesto and cranberries in food processor.
   Spread 1 teaspoon goat cheese or cream cheese over cracker/baguette and top with 1 tablespoon of the Cranberry pesto mixture.
   Garnish with capers if desired.
   Makes 24 appetizers.

Nutrition Facts

Nutritional Analysis per Serving (1 crostini): Calories 100, 4g Protein, 13g Carbohydrate, 1g Fiber, 5g Fat, 1.5g Sat. Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 5mg Cholesterol, 150mg Sodium

Cranberry Lime Sparkler serves 8 (1 cup serving size)
  • 32 oz 100% Cranberry juice
  • 32 oz sparkling water
  • 2 small limes
Directions: Mix juice, sparkling water and the juice of both limes.  Can garnish with lime slices.
Nutrition Facts: Calories 60, 15 g sugar, 50% vitamin C