Put Your Hands Up And Step Away From The Third Bowl of Mac N Cheese!

Just like bears, when winter rolls around we go into a sort of hibernation. When the days get shorter and colder we bundle up in our warm jammies and cuddle up on the couch with comfort foods. And then, just when the warm weather starts to wake us up out of our winter food coma we wonder how our once loose jammies got so snug. Then the inevitable frantic race to lose the weight before summer begins. As you know, I’m not one for crash dieting or any sort of crazy “slim down for summer” programs, so spare yourself the trouble, put down the third bowl of mac ‘n cheese and try experimenting with winter squash (I know, not as glamorous as mac ‘n cheese, but nevertheless, I promise, yummy!).

Here’s why squash is awesome: There’s more than 10 types of winter squash to choose from (butternut, delicata, acorn, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash just to name a few…) and they’re awesome choices if you want something warm, sweet, and filling. They’re high in fiber and water, which means you’ll feel fuller quicker and can eat more without the copious amounts of calories (just lay low on the butter and brown sugar). And they’re a great source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene, and Omega 3′s.

Try this awesome Mashed Maple Squash recipe from Eatingwell.com.

**Update**

My mom just emailed some interesting and very helpful info for cooking with maple syrup! This isn’t surprising to me in the least, because if there’s anyone who knows everything it’s her. Want to know the definition of “sesquipedalian”? She knows! Or, need an idea of how to make a diorama on bees that would make Martha Stewart swoon with delight? Yup, she knows that too! Thanks Mommy! (Yes, I’m an adult that still calls my mom “mommy”.)

You may want to share this with your ‘people’. After reading a story (with one of my classes) on maple syrup tapping in Vermont, I discovered the following:

Grade A – derived from the first of the season sap ‘drippings’ of the tree

lighter in color and sweeter

Grade B- derived from a later in the season sap

darker in color and more robust and hearty – best for vegetables, meats and
dishes not of the dessert variety

While both are sweet, the B is heartier. One tends to need less of it, hence, less calories. It is also advisable to mix the grade B with a bit of hot water to thin it out and make it go further on veggies, chicken, etc., Most will not know the difference. I, for one, am going to use only grade B from now on. If I do see a deficiency in sweetness, I will add a bit of Splenda. Even if thinned out with a bit of water, the B is still thick enough to nicely glaze whatever you intend it to glaze.

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

Ask Dani – 200 Calories or 240 Calories?

I couldn't resist this pop-tart kitty picture. Sorry.


Dear Dani,

My friend and I were arguing this week about what’s better for you to eat: A 200 calorie pop-tart for breakfast or a 240 calorie egg sandwich on whole-grain bread. I said that the sandwich was a better option, since the stuff inside it is better for you, but my friend swears by eating as little calories possible to lose weight, and therefore the pop-tart is a better option. Help me prove her wrong please!

Thanks, Fighting Friends

Dear Fighting Friends,

Sorry to say this, but your friend is wrong. Just because something has fewer calories doesn’t mean it’s better for you to eat and it doesn’t mean that it will help you lose weight. It is true that the formula for losing weight is calories in vs. calories out, but not all calories are the same. Pop-Tarts are loaded with sugar and refined flour, which means that when they enter your body they get absorbed way too quickly, and because of that you’re hungry (and most likely sluggish) an hour later. And that means you’re going to end up eating something and then not only take in your lower calorie pop-tart, but something else on top of that too. Had you just had the egg sandwich, which is full of whole-grains, fiber, and protein you would have been satisfied for at least 3 hours. Plus, because your body absorbs those kinds of calories a lot slower you would be using more of them for energy.
So, sorry friend, I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to lose weight, make sure that your calories are coming from good sources, even if it means eating more of them.

Beat It or Eat It – Fries!

What’s yummier than an awesome french fry? Maybe some awesome mac n’ cheese….but that’s for another post. Today we’re talking fries, because they seem to pop up with summer backyard barbecues, and instead of avoiding them completely just learn how to make even better ones that you don’t have to resist (in fact, I doubt you’d even be able to if you tried).

Beat it:
A small 3oz. serving will run you 271 calories and 14.5g fat, 31.9g carbs, 3g fiber, and 3.2g protein. The fiber is great, but let’s get real. It’s a potato — it doesn’t need all that fat!

Eat it:
Sweet Potato Fries

- 1lb. sweet potatoes
- 1 egg white
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Peel and cut potatoes (a ton of vitamins and lots of fiber is in the skin, so if you prefer to keep it on you can.)
3. In a bowl, combine egg and seasoning. Beat well.
4. Add potatoes and mix to coat.
5. Spray a baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Place potatoes in a single layer on sheet.
6. Bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until golden.

And voil