Ask Dani – Did I Make The Right Choice?

Dear Dani,

I was in the cereal aisle of the supermarket the other night trying to decide between two cereals. One had 100 calories per serving, but no fiber, and the other had 140 calories with 5g of fiber. I ended up choosing the one with the fiber, figuring that the fiber makes it better, but now I’m not sure if I made the right choice. Can you help me out?

Thanks, Munching Michelle

Dear Munching Michelle,

You definitely made the right choice by going with the fiber filled cereal. Just because something is lower in calories doesn’t mean it’s a better choice, because they can be empty calories and your body doesn’t use them as efficiently as nutrient dense calories. Fiber creates more bulk in your food which will help you feel fuller longer and ultimately help you eat less, plus it’s great for your digestion and colon. But, just because something has fiber in it doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want. There are a lot of products on the market now that tout added fiber, but that doesn’t give you leeway to eat 5 fiber filled cookies. Plus, the added fiber that they put in yogurts or even cottage cheese isn’t necessarily the same kind of fiber that is naturally found in grains and produce (but, that’s a whole other conversation…). If you’re looking to lose weight you still need to take in fewer calories than you burn. So, you did a great job at choosing the fiber cereal, but always pay attention to the ingredients and serving sizes to make sure that you’re actually making the best choice. It sounds clich

Beat It or Eat It – Pancakes

Breakfast is by far my most favorite meal of the day. I love everything about it. The foods, eating a meal after waking up hungry, and that it’s like baking mixed in with cooking. And did I mention the foods? Pancakes, waffles, french toast, frittatas, omelets, bagels, cereal (I always say that if I had to live in one aisle of the supermarket forever that it would be the cereal aisle), etc. The possibilities are endless. I even love breakfast for dinner. Seriously, I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. I will just tell you that my love for pancakes is true. Cereal is going to come and cereal is going to go, but my love for pancakes is true, and I will love pancakes till the day I die. For real. Sadly though, I don’t indulge often enough, because like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little girl and little girls don’t get to have 600 calorie breakfasts. So, I’ve resigned myself to sneaking a taste or two off of my husband’s plate, since he is a 6’1” man that can have his pancakes. But boy is it a happy day, because I just found a healthier recipe for yummy blueberry pancakes that will give me the chance to eat my pancakes in loving peace off of my very own plate.

Beat it:
3 Regular blueberry pancakes (with 1/4 cup maple syrup): 530 calories; 128 of those calories are from fat; 14.17g fat; 750mg sodium; 96.66g carbs (!!!); 1.5g fiber; 32g sugar; 9.39g protein

YUM!


Eat it:
Berry Good Pancakes
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups blueberries

1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
2. Whisk eggs, cottage cheese, milk, lemon zest and vanilla in a medium bowl.
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in blueberries.
4. Moisten a crumpled paper towel with canola oil and use it to lightly oil a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium heat. Spoon on about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook until bottoms are golden and small bubbles start to form on top, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Lightly oil pan between batches. (Adjust heat as necessary for even browning.) Serve hot. (Yields 6 servings – 3 pancakes per serving)

Ready for the stats? Each 3 pancake serving is only 233 calories; 3 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 630 mg sodium; 41 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 11 g protein. AMAZING! And if you use sugar-free syrup, you’ll be adding only 25 calories!

Can’t wait for Sunday!

10 Simple Ways to Rev Your Metabolism

this picture has no connection to today's post, but I thought it was awesome

Obviously working out will help boost your metabolism, and you’re still going to need to do it, but here are my top 8 are ways to help move it along:

10. Have sex – Experts say that people burn an average of 300 calories per hour having sex. What a nice added perk!

9. Drink water – When you’re dehydrated your metabolic rate slows down to help conserve your energy, so make sure to drink more to keep it moving strongly.

8. Fidget – Ever meet someone who seems like they move and speak a mile a minute? Aren’t they usually pretty thin and lean? It’s pretty hard to be bouncing off walls like that with so much extra energy and not lose weight. Tap your fingers, shake your foot, bounce your leg, pace back and forth. Believe it or not, but all this extra (and EASY) activity really boosts your calorie burn for the day. I’ve read things that say that you can burn up to 350 extra calories per day just by doing this simple little thing!

7. Clean your own damn house – It’s nice to have the luxury of having a cleaning lady or housekeeper, but think of all the extra calories you’ll burn just by doing it yourself. Look at taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, picking up your kids’ toys, and doing the dishes as opportunities to move more and lose more.

6. Get a pedometer – Aim to take 10,000 steps per day. You’d be surprised at how addicting this little gadget can be. You’ll see only 7,000 steps one day and want to beat that number the next.

5. Walk like you’re late – Even if you don’t have to be somewhere, pick up the pace when you’re walking as if you are. When we were dating my husband used to make fun of me for being the slowest walker ever (in all fairness, he’s 6’1” and I’m 5’1”, so it’s a bit harder for me to keep up with him), but since getting our dogs and having to walk them every day I’ve become the speedy one and he lags behind. Whenever I feel myself slowing down I remind myself to act as if the dogs were there.

4. Set a timer – Make sure to move around for at least 5 minutes every hour. It’s easy to sit for hours on end and not even realize the time going by. Especially if you work at a desk job!

3. Get a pedometer – Aim to take 10,000 steps per day. You’d be surprised at how addicting this little gadget can be. You’ll see only 7,000 steps one day and want to beat that number the next.

2. Sleep – Studies have shown that people who get less than 4 hours of sleep for an extended period of time have slower metabolism. Aim to get 7-8 hours for the best benefit.

1. Have breakfast - You should be eating at least 100 calories within the first hour of waking up. When we sleep our bodies go into efficiency mode, which is why our heart rate and breathing rate slow down (which means our metabolism slows down). By eating within the first hour of waking you’re signaling to your body that it’s time to wake up and speed up for the day. If you wait till lunch to eat your body will stay in this efficiency state and it will be too late to catch up.

Beat It or Eat It – Bagels and Lox

Beat it:
Seriously, who doesn’t love bagels and lox (besides people who don’t like fish…)? My husband is a self-professed bagel snob and if he had it his way we would have bagels every morning. Seriously, he can tell you why each bagel is good and why it’s bad. And he wouldn’t bat an eyelash at going on a road-trip to find the perfect bagel. For me, it hits the spot every time, but I can’t have it all the time, because it can pack as much as 590 calories, 19g fat, 81g carbs, 3g fiber, and 28g protein. It’s actually got a lot of solid and healthy ingredients in it, like the lox, which has good for you fats, and the protein, which is good for your muscles, but as a 5’1 1/2″ (can’t forget that 1/2″!) girl I can’t be eating such calorie dense meals. Sure, I can balance it out over the course of my next 2 meals, but I like to eat multiple times a day, so for me eating something so heavy every morning just isn’t going to fly, so instead I have an alternative!

The breakfast of short champions


Eat it:
Shortie’s “Bagel” and Lox

1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 large egg whites, beaten
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped (optional)
1 ounce smoked salmon
1 slice tomato
1 whole-wheat English muffin, split and toasted

1. Toast english muffin.
2. Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 1 minute. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add egg whites and season with salt. Cook, stirring constantly until whites are set, about 30 seconds..
4. Layer the egg whites, smoked salmon, tomato, onion, and capers on English muffin. (Serves 1)

It’s not a bagel, but I promise that it will do the trick. And now let’s tally up the stats: The calories have been cut by more than half, bringing this amazing breakfast to only 214 calories (!), 5g fat (heart healthy Omega-3 fat), 25g carbs, 3g fiber, and 19g protein. Not bad at all. Even if you’re not a breakfast person, once you eat this you will be.

3 Breakfast Fixes

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but calories can add up quickly when eating boxed cereals or sugary breakfast bars, so here are a 3 tips to keep the calories working for you and not sticking to your hips:

1. Choose cooked whole grains, like oatmeal, bulgur, and quinoa, over dry boxed cereals – You’ll feel fuller longer in liquid-packed cooked cereals than you will with boxed cereals. Think about when you pour yourself a box of cereal, doesn’t it seem like there’s never enough in the bowl. And it seems to disappear in only a week! You’ll be eating way fewer calories with the cooked cereals, but you’ll feel more satisfied, because the liquid adds bulk. Don’t have time to cook in the morning? That’s ok, you can make a large pot of it on Sunday and then scoop out a portion each morning and reheat it while you’re getting dressed. You can also play around with it and have a different flavor every morning by adding fresh or frozen fruits, cinnamon, and Splenda.

2. Can’t give up boxed cereals so easily? – Then make sure that they are made from whole grains, don’t have any added sugars, and have at least 5 or so fiber grams per serving. Speaking of servings, pay attention to the serving sizes on the nutrition label, because I’ve seen cereals that are 250 calories per 3/4 cups of cereal, and that’s without the milk yet! Think you’ll be satisfied with that bowl? Probably not. The fewer the ingredients, the better. Some good brands to try are Kashi, Arrowhead Mills, and Natures Path.

3. Are you a toast kind of girl? – Use whole grain bread and instead of butter use fat-free cream cheese or non-fat greek yogurt. Swap the jelly or jam with fresh berries and save on added sugars and calories!

Myth #3 – I've Been Good All Week, So I Can Splurge All Weekend

I’m sure this thought has popped into your head. “I’ve stayed on track all week, eating well and exercising, so are 4 cocktails, some pancakes for brunch, and pizza really going to do me any harm? I deserve them.” The sad truth is yes, all that is going to harm your waistline. Think about it, Saturday and Sunday make up for 30% of the week and most likely you’re getting started with happy hour on Friday afternoon. Many people lose weight during the week, but then put it all back on over the weekend.

You have to be consistent. It’s ok to treat yourself to a slice of pizza, you’ve definitely worked for it, but leave it at that. Any more than that slice – unless you’re running 10 miles that weekend – will only slowly pile on the pounds and won’t help you with any consistent and permanent changes you’re trying to make. Being good during the week, but holding your breath to party over the weekend will only set you back, so make sure you’re being reasonable.

Check out these weekend survival tips:

* JOT IT DOWN – Writing down what you eat will make you more aware of what you’re putting into your mouth and will help you second-guess that second slice.

* REMEMBER YOUR WHEATIES – Skipping breakfast is a surefire way to binge later, so make sure you eat within an hour of getting up.

* SATISFY YOUR CRAVING – It’s ok to give into a nagging craving once in a while when it really won’t let up. Be reasonable about it and make sure you really want it and that another culprit isn’t to blame, like stress. You probably won’t feel the need to let all hell break loose on the weekends if you don’t build it up so much.

Myth #3 – I’ve Been Good All Week, So I Can Splurge All Weekend

I’m sure this thought has popped into your head. “I’ve stayed on track all week, eating well and exercising, so are 4 cocktails, some pancakes for brunch, and pizza really going to do me any harm? I deserve them.” The sad truth is yes, all that is going to harm your waistline. Think about it, Saturday and Sunday make up for 30% of the week and most likely you’re getting started with happy hour on Friday afternoon. Many people lose weight during the week, but then put it all back on over the weekend.

You have to be consistent. It’s ok to treat yourself to a slice of pizza, you’ve definitely worked for it, but leave it at that. Any more than that slice – unless you’re running 10 miles that weekend – will only slowly pile on the pounds and won’t help you with any consistent and permanent changes you’re trying to make. Being good during the week, but holding your breath to party over the weekend will only set you back, so make sure you’re being reasonable.

Check out these weekend survival tips:

* JOT IT DOWN – Writing down what you eat will make you more aware of what you’re putting into your mouth and will help you second-guess that second slice.

* REMEMBER YOUR WHEATIES – Skipping breakfast is a surefire way to binge later, so make sure you eat within an hour of getting up.

* SATISFY YOUR CRAVING – It’s ok to give into a nagging craving once in a while when it really won’t let up. Be reasonable about it and make sure you really want it and that another culprit isn’t to blame, like stress. You probably won’t feel the need to let all hell break loose on the weekends if you don’t build it up so much.

The Favorites List

There are a few things that I use regularly that make it easier for me to stay in good shape and health. They also help me feel like I made the right choices which makes me feel strong in body AND mind. So, here are a few of my favorite things…

* Cooking Light Magazine – This is actually my all time favorite I think. All recipes have a calorie count and you won’t feel like you’re cooking a tasteless, ugly, healthy meal. You’ll feel like you’re eating a gourmet meal. I use this whenever I entertain and no body believes that the food is good for them. Plus, they have great articles too.

* Skinny Cow 100 Calorie Truffle Ice Cream Bars – Each bar comes individually wrapped, so you won’t have to worry about eating too much from the container. They taste so good, you wouldn’t know they were only 100 calories. And they come in both chocolate and vanilla. YUM!!!

* Stability Ball – A stability ball is a great way to maximize your workout, by challenging your balance. Say you’re doing a bicep curl, if you do it seated on a bench you’ll just be working your biceps, but if you do it seated on a ball you will be working your biceps plus your core, which will boost caloric expenditure and shorten your total workout time.

* Oatmeal – This is my regular go to breakfast. It will keep you satisfied and tide you over until your next meal. Added bonus is good for you carbs and fiber which will help clear out bad LDL cholesterol and keep hunger from creeping up too soon. I make mine over the stove with water, a bit of milk, some Splenda, cinnamon, and frozen blueberries. You can make it however you choose though, the possibilities are endless.

* Salmon – When I need dinner in a pinch and I don’t have a lot of time on hand this is the perfect go to meal. Within 30 minutes I can have salmon, asparagus, and potatoes on the table. Salmon cooks quickly (broil on high for 10 minutes), is packed with protein, and has heart healthy Omega 3′s which are the “good” kinds of fats.

* Lulu Lemon Pants -Ok, so this has nothing to do with making me feel strong in mind or body. Well, maybe mind, because they are fabulous! I don’t wear any other kind of workout pants. They fit great, can be worn around the city without looking frumpy, are made of real quality material, and if you care for them properly by only washing on delicate you will have them for at least 5 years. My favorite thing is the little hidden pocket in the waistband for a key, cash, and credit card. If you think you don’t look good in tight black pants, try these! They’re a bit pricey, but well worth the investment.

* Water – Of course!! It’s the only real thirst quencher and as many of my friends know is my answer to everything. Have a headache, drink water. Feel sluggish and run down in the middle of the day, more water. Dry skin, water. It will provide much needed oxygen to your body and will help you feel at your best.