Need a good way to sweeten? Use stevia.


Get a Better Mood From Your Food

Start waking up on the right side of the bed by adding these to your daily intake.

Omega-3 fatty acids:
Research suggests that polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly of the omega-3 variety, may have an effect on mood.

Where do I find it? Oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel. Also found in some plant foods.

Zinc, magnesium and iron: Minerals such as zinc, magnesium and iron may play a role in regulating mood. Magnesium compounds, for example, have been found to successfully relieve premenstrual mood changes.

Where do I find it? Zinc is found in oysters, lean meat and poultry, while sources of magnesium include legumes, nuts, whole grains and leafy greens. Rich iron foods include liver, red meat, poultry and fortified cereal.

Vitamins C and E: Your diet should always be rich in antioxidant vitamins C and E, which help protect cells, including brain cells.

Where do I find it? Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C, while vitamin E foods include vegetable oils, nuts, spinach and asparagus.

Contemplating a Diet? Just Eat Healthier Instead.

When you start thinking of diets, do you start thinking of salads? No surprise there. Well, after that, what else do you think of? Vegetables are probably the next thing on your list. People tend to assume every food that they eat when they are on diet is a healthy food. Common misconception. Look at the fat content in your salad dressing. Add in some cheese, bacon bits, and a generous serving of croutons and all of a sudden that salad isn't much better for you than a taco. Too often, people eat to lose weight. If you ate healthier, chances are some weight will come off anyhow. Rather than worry about what your scale says, focus instead, on your lifestyle and the way you feel. Being healthy doesn't mean you have to be a petite or have a 32 inch waist. It means feeling good physically as well as mentally. Do you have the energy to enjoy your day? Do you have the energy to enjoy every day? Relax. It really is not that difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle, feel better and still give yourself little indulgences and you don’t have to eat salads all day every day.

Fresh fruit really does a lot more for you when it is closest to its natural state. Ever eat strawberries right off of the vine? Not only do they taste considerably better, it’s doing more for your body too. They’ll satisfy a craving for sweets due to their natural sugars. Whole vegetables have lots of vitamins and minerals, so choose more green, orange and yellow vegetables. Steam them to retain the most nutritional value. Try cooking them over a wok with some low sodium soy sauce.

My wife comes from an Italian family so you know we’re eating pasta once a week or so. There’s nothing wrong with that if you are smart about it. Pasta and/or baked goods should be made from whole grains. Try to stay away from white breads and noodles if you can. These are made from flour that has had much of the nutritional content removed. On top of that, the high starch content in white bread will affect your blood sugar as quickly as regular sugar. Avoid sugary snacks and pastries as well. An apple is good for you, an apple pie really isn't. If you have to eat the apple pie, eat a small portion.

Shop for lean meats. An often overlooked meat is fish. The omega-3 essential fatty acids in ocean fish are often deficient in our diets, so start to add more seafood to your diet. It’s recommended two or three times per week. Baked fish and chicken are healthier than fried. Of course it could go without saying, but processed meats, hot dogs, bacon, and sausages have a lot of junk in them you don't want in your body, but if you love these meats, find healthier versions sold at health food stores. Turkey is almost always available as an alternative.

Stick to water as your main drink. It’s the most plentiful and least expensive thing you can drink. Limit your soft drinks. If you want to drink a cola, go with the diet version where possible. After a while, you’ll not crave the “regular” version.

Keep healthy snacks like fruits, crunchy vegetables with dips, or nuts handy. There is nothing wrong with having a little treat like a candy bar once in a while. Once. In. A. While.

Like watching your TiVo shows at night? Every feel the inclination to snack while you catch up on Heroes? The same tips apply here too. If you don't want to completely give up snacking, keep low calorie foods close by. It’s way to easy to finish off that bag of Dorito’s.

Don’t skip a meal. This is important. If you skip breakfast, you may find that you lose your energy by noon. Rather than skipping breakfast completely, split it in half. Eat a small breakfast early, such as an egg, small serving of oatmeal, or a slice of whole grain bread. I like to eat oatmeal early in the morning and then some kind of fruit later. Lately it’s been two kiwi or a grapefruit.
Are you one of the people who feel like your mornings just can't begin without a cup of coffee? Or two or three? If you’ve got certain foods or drinks you won't give up, enjoy them in smaller amounts. Buy one candy bar enjoy it. Don’t buy and eat two just because they were on sale at 2/$1 at the gas station. Maybe you don’t want to switch to decaf yet. How about mixing half regular coffee and half decaffeinated coffee? Limit other treats or favorite foods that aren't healthy, maybe let yourself eat them one time per week. My wife and I have tried to treat ourselves to a day of “whatever” foods if we feel like we’ve done well for a week or so. It’s nice. We don’t feel too guilty about it.

Take your time. It’s not gonna happen overnight. Start with today and try to add to it. Eat smaller portions. Eat wiser foods. Add a little exercise here and there. Maybe park out in the back of the lot and walk to the store. Grab a bottled water instead of a Pepsi.

Here is a short list of unhealthy foods and healthy foods.

Here’s a quick recap of healthy and unhealthy foods.

Unhealthy Foods
  • Battered and deep fried foods
  • Sugary sodas
  • Processed lunch meats
  • Greasy snack chips
  • White bread and refined pasta
  • Most canned spaghetti and ravioli
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Frozen fried chicken, fish sticks and corn dogs
Healthy Foods
  • Green and brightly colored vegetables
  • Dark leafy greens and lettuce
  • Fresh fruits and berries
  • Lean turkey and chicken
  • Nuts, dried fruits and healthy snacks
  • Whole grain breads and pasta
  • Healthy cooking oils like canola and olive oils
  • Grass fed beef and bison
  • Cold water oily ocean fish
  • Low fat milk or soy beverages
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes

Portion Control

Take a look at the picture to the left. Would you recognize the hamburger club sandwich with a large side of fries looks as multiple servings? "But it looks like an average meal!" Although it looks like only one meal there is enough ground beef to qualify as at least two servings, plus one serving of bacon. The lettuce and tomatoes are great, but the bread counts as three servings. One serving of potatoes should equal about one half a cup, so there are about four servings of a starchy vegetable there.

Most people don't realize the ever increasing size of their meal portions when they go out to eat. Over the last few years, Super, Mega, Biggie, and XL have shown up on products at your fast food restaurants as well as in your frozen food sections too. Even your microwave lunch or dinner is larger today than in previous years. We're slowly conditioning ourselves to get the most food for the lowest price, even when that food is not good for us. Here's a test: You're at an amusement park with $10 to eat between you and your friend. You're both getting hungrier as you walk around. What do you find yourself doing? Be honest.

  • Stopping at the first restaurant/booth and buying the first thing you see on the menu
  • Looking at a few booths to see what you can get for your money.
  • Figuring out whether or not you'll get more food for your money by eating two hot dogs at the All American stand versus a burrito at the Mexican one.
  • Forgoing a drink in lieu of the drinking fountain so that you can get chicken nuggets as a side.
If you are like most people, your answers lean more towards #3 and #4. It's not uncommon to do this in an environment like Disney or at a sporting event. But what about when you're driving to a destination and you get hungry? Then what? How do you keep portions under control when you go out to eat? A simple practice that I often try to use is to box half of my food before I take a bite. It's not as easy as it sounds and takes some getting used to. Literally, draw a line through your food with a knife. Cut your chicken in half, cheeseburger, whatever. The real trick is when there are appetizers like nachos that can often be replaced endlessly. Just being more cognizant of the amount of food you have eaten will often help curb your eating habits. Here's another tip: The next time you run through the drive-thru at McDonald's, grab a Happy Meal. You'll be surprisingly full after about a half hour. Sp what do you do when preparing your own food at home? Here's a few tips to keep your meal sizes down.

  • Make foods that keep you'll be able to keep in your freezer like casseroles, soups, and pasta sauces. Freezing them ahead of time and freeze in individual servings makes for easy preparation later and less chance of extra food sitting out on the stove begging to be eaten. Most foods like this will keep for several months.
  • Buy your fresh produce and fruit individually instead of by the bag. Cut what you want to eat ahead of time and put the rest back in the fridge.
  • When buying meat, ask your deli guy/butcher to cut it into meal size portions for you.
  • Use recipes that can easily be reduced by halves or quarters.
  • Look closer at the back of the box. A majority of your pastas and rices have instructions on making individuals servings.
  • Snoop around the deli area of your grocery store or supermarket. Lots of times, you'll come across small servings of veggies and fruit in pre-cut form. Add these as a side dish to your next meal. You'll probably find something new to try while there too.
  • Use a smaller plate. Mentally, you'll do a lot for yourself if you eat the whole plateful of food.
Until next time, eat slower and drink more water.


Let's Get Busy!

I was back on the treadmill today after a pretty decent time away. In fact, last Thursday was the last time I ran. I took Saturday and Sunday off to go to a wedding out of state. Sunday was actually a pretty busy day for me. My wife and I cleaned our garage out and rearranged our basement. We put things aside for a yard sale that we'd like to have in the next few weeks. We ended up throwing a bunch of stuff away and boxing things up too. It was one of the busier days I've spent outside of the gym. Yesterday was a half hour on the bike and then on the chest, arms, and ab exercises. It felt great to get back in there and get active.

Tonight on the way to the gym I was deciding whether or not I wanted to run for an hour or do more exercises. I figured I needed to run but didn't know if I had a full sixty minutes in me. I think mentally I didn't feel like I was up to the challenge of beating the 958 calories or the 5.71 miles I have as highs. Once I got started at 5.8mph and knocked out ten minutes I felt better about my decision to run. About twenty minutes in though I had second thoughts. It seemed like the hour was going to go on for way to long. I told myself to keep doing it since I had already started it. I also noticed that about halfway in I was on pace for beating the previous calorie high. At this point I just had to find out where I'd end up. I'm happy to say that after sixty minutes of running this evening, I burned 1,004 calories! Incredible! I also hit a new high of 5.83 miles. I kept my speeds at 5.7 or higher for probably 40 minutes and even peaked at 6.2 for a few and then ran at 7.5 at the end too. My knees felt pretty good when I was done. I was really really thirsty. I had something like 48 ounces from the time I got to the gym to the time I got in my car. When I got home, I was already somewhat full from all of the water, but I had a fantastic dinner waiting on me. Steak, baked beans, pirogies, and a small baked potato. How can you not eat that? My wife gave me the smaller portions I have been trying to eat especially the baked potato. I love her so much. She's been a lot of support for me lately in this fitness thing. She's very encouraging.

Aside from tonight's dinner I have eaten decent these last two days. Very minimal calories for breakfast and lunches. Saturday and Sunday were completely different stories. I ate like an idiot Friday night. After a burger from Red Robin, we stopped at the Krispy Kreme store next to our hotel and grabbed some doughnuts. I had three for dessert that night in the hotel! I felt like I had stolen the Cup of Christ. Each time I ate one, I felt more and more guilty. Oh well, it's not everyday that one of my junior high and high school buddies gets married, right? I was out of state and felt like I had been doing very well lately. I decided it was okay to give myself a little treat. I had plenty of little cheese and vegetable hors d'oeuvre snacks at the reception. They also brought around some Swedish meatballs, quiche, shrimp cocktails, and chicken tenders. Then the main course came. I only had room for the stuffed chicken. I had two bites of roasted red potatoes and that was it. Too full to eat any more. It'll be a long time before I eat like I did over the weekend.


No Fat Refried Beans

by Jamie Hunter

I don't know about you, but I could eat refried beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner! But I couldn't be that cruel to my family and co-workers, so I keep my consumption to an occasional treat. When I was a vegetarian a friend of mine introduced me to this delicious fat free recipe for refried beans. I love it with rice or nachos.

2 cups of dried pinto beans
4 whole bay leaves
1 16 oz. jar of salsa
1 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper (optional)
Salt to taste

Cook your beans thoroughly. This takes about 3 hours so get this step done early. Drain the water, then mash the beans with a potato masher. When you are finished the beans should be smooth in texture without any lumps! Now mix in your bay leaves and let the mixture sit for 3 to 4 hours. If you can let the mixture sit over night the bay leaves will have an even greater affect on the taste. Finally remove the bay leaves, mix in the salsa, red pepper and salt. This can be eaten hot or cold. In fact it tastes great on a taco salad, or in a burrito. For an even better treat sprinkle some fat free cheddar cheese on top, and place in the microwave until melted! Try this one out. It's inexpensive to make and very good for you. Hmmm.... I think I will make some this week!


Grilled Bananas

Sounds gross, doesn't it? Yeah it did to me too at first. Check out this ridiculously simple recipe for a healthy summer dessert. If you're cooking out on the grill this weekend, put this one together!

Slice bananas length-wise and place on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Fold over the top so it is secure and place on the grill until the banana is soft and warm and brown sugar is carmelized.

For the best timing, throw the aluminum bananas on the grill right about the time you start serving dinner. Not using a grill? Gong camping instead? Place the packets on the warm embers of the bonfire and retrieve safely with tongs.

Oooooh It Burns!

Yesterday was an incredible day for me on the treadmill. I took two days off from running because my knees were bothering me the other night. On Tuesday, instead of running, I biked for 30 minutes straight and then did some workouts on the machines at the gym. I focused on the abs and chest. My legs are plenty big enough as it is. I really don't like having such big calves. It's definitely genetic though because my dad has big ape calves as well as my uncle. My running 5 miles a day, three times a week has only "enhanced" mine. Oh well. Incidentally, I learned last night that my wife "loves" my "killer calves". At least someone does.

Back to the reason for the post. I took Wednesday off as per usual. As it got closer to time to go run, I was nervous that I was not going to come close to the 845 calories I burned on Monday. WRONG! I hit a new high of 958 calories. I had a 13% gain over the previous high. Here's the secret. Instead of running half the time at 4 or 4.2 mph and the other at 7 mph or so, I got on and set the speed at 5.5 and didn't look back (until the last 12 minutes). I still took my sixty second pauses every mile or so, but I didn't walk at all last night. I wanted to see if I had the endurance to go for more than ten or fifteen minutes like that. The time I tried this before, I only lasted like eight minutes. Well, I definitely think I will be trying this method again. Friday is day off from the gym. Saturday will be another day off this weekend as I am going out of town to a wedding. Rest assured, Sunday I will be back at it. I think mixing running, biking, and resistance will be good for me. It gives my body time to heal where it needs to.

Spicy Cocoa Sloppy Joes

I know this might not be the healthiest thing we've posted on here, but it might be one of the best tasting ones. In all actuality, it's probably not that bad for you if you have it in a moderate portion. Once you look over the ingredients you'll probably agree. The great thing about this is that it is an official recipe from Hershey. Those guys can rarely do anything wrong in my opinion.

In the end, I would probably substitute the bun with a tortilla or pita. Both come in a variety of flavors that may only enhance the taste. I want to try this one out as soon as possible. Let us know how yours turns out if you make it.

  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 to 1-1/4 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt

1. Cook ground beef and onion in large skillet on medium heat until beef is browned and onion is tender. Drain excess fat.

2. Stir in ketchup, cocoa, mustard, chili powder, pepper and salt. Heat 10 to 15 minutes on low heat or until hot. Serve in buns. Cover; refrigerate leftovers. About 4-1/2 cups sandwich filling.


Another Helpful Link

This is a site I've visited in the past, but totally forgot to bookmark or add to this blog. In fact, the only reason I even recalled it is because it was featured in the LIVING WELL section of my newspaper today. The site is called Nutrition Data. It has a lot of cool stuff including a very detailed breakdown of foods and their respective nutritional makeup. It shows you where it falls in terms of what vitamins and nutrients you're getting in the food(s). They also have some very helpful topics. I'll list a few of them here...

Check the site out. I am positive there is something there for you to look at!