Category: "Beverages"

How to Make Smart Smoothies

April 7th, 2014 | no comments

Smoothies are my all-time favorite way to pack tons of nutrition into one meal. Think about it– how likely are you to sit down with a fork and eat a breakfast of kale, carrots, blueberries and peanut butter and then wash it down with a glass of milk? That’s what I thought! If you’re like most human beings walking the planet, you are crazy-busy and barely have time to squeeze in a shower before running out of the house in the morning. Imagine blending nutritious and delicious foods together and drinking them on your way to work! That’s what I call the best of both worlds– nutrition and convenience wrapped up into one! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive about the best ingredients for a healthy smoothie:

  1. Best liquid base: Milk or juice?
    I vote for milk! Whether it’s skim, soy or almond milk, you’re going to get a healthy dose of bone-building calcium and vitamin D– two nutrients often lacking in the typical American diet.
  2. Best protein source: Protein powder or yogurt?
    Protein powder– but ONLY if it contains no artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose (Splenda). My favorite brand of protein powder is RAW Protein. RAW offers up 17 grams of protein per scoop PLUS 100% of your vitamin D needs, 3 grams of dietary fiber and probiotics (“good bacteria” that keep your gastrointestinal tract nice and healthy). Can’t find a protein powder without artificial sweeteners? Use plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. A couple of heaping spoonfuls should do the trick!
  3. Best sweetener: Agave nectar, sugar, no-calorie sweetener, juice or frozen fruit?
    Go for the frozen fruit…especially berries! Not only does it make for a thicker smoothie, it also serves up a good dose of antioxidants– natural chemicals found in fruits and vegetables that help protect your body against diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  4. Best fiber source: Chia seeds, flaxseeds or oats?
    Ch Ch Ch Chia seeds win here. Per tablespoon, chia seeds have 5 grams of dietary fiber and contain a significant amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Enough said!
  5. True or False? Peanut butter has too many calories and fat grams and should not be added to your smoothie if you’re trying to watch your weight.
    That’s a big fat FALSE! Healthy dietary fat (found in nuts, nut butters, avocados and olive oil) serves a very important function– it helps to keep you full! Is it calorie-rich? Sure…but a small portion (1/2 tablespoon) is all you really need to reap the filling rewards. Trust me on this one! If I neglect to add peanut butter to my smoothie, my hunger most definitely returns much sooner…which means I’m usually digging around in the refrigerator for something else to eat! In the end you wind up eating less when you add small amounts of healthy fat to your meals.

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What to drink (besides water) to meet water needs

November 18th, 2013 | no comments

Plain old fashioned water is your absolute best bet for meeting your fluid requirements. But trust me…I understand that water can get a little boring and sometimes you need to change it up a bit. To give it a little kick, I always recommend adding a splash of 100% fruit juice, a twist of lemon, lime or orange, or cucumber slices.

Water comes in many forms however, and most count toward your daily fluid requirements.  They aren’t all created equal, though.  Consider these beverages:

Gatorade and other sports drinks: Gatorade was created as a beverage to help the Florida Gators football team perform better during practice and games. As they sweat, they lost important electrolytes responsible for the body’s chemical balance (specifically sodium, potassium and chloride). As a result, they weren’t playing as well as they could have been.Scientists formulated a beverage to replenish these electrolytes, and Gatorade was born. It was created for athletes, but today it’s consumed by athletes and non-athletes alike. The problem is, if you’re drinking Gatorade to meet your fluid needs but aren’t participating in prolonged physical activity and sweating a lot, you’ll be taking in a bunch of extra calories that you probably won’t burn off. In this case, water is the better choice for you.

A 32-ounce bottle of Gatorade has 200 calories, 440 mg of sodium and 56 grams of sugar. If you drink two bottles of Gatorade every day, that’s 400 extra calories and 880 milligrams of sodium per day.

Again, Gatorade is a perfectly suitable choice if you’re participating in vigorous physical activity, but not when you’re sitting at your desk for hours on end. Better yet, for a more natural electrolyte replacement, try coconut water!

Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages: Although once thought to dehydrate your body, scientists have determined that there’s no truth behind the caffeine-dehydration argument as long as you drink it in moderation. Drinking a cup of coffee in the morning to get you going counts, but don’t forget to count the extra calories from the cream and sugar. For example, a grande Caffé Mocha with whipped cream from Starbucks has a whopping 330 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and 35 grams of sugar!

Soft drinks and diet soft drinks: Yes, they both count toward your fluid needs, but you want to go easy on them. Just like sports drinks and sweetened coffee drinks, regular soft drinks pack a sugary, calorie-loaded punch. Sugary beverages also cause the crash-and-burn effect. They give you immediate energy in the form of simple carbohydrates, which means you digest them rapidly and then crash and burn. Diet soft drinks contain artificial sweeteners and can actually make you crave sugar because they’re so much sweeter than regular table sugar.

Alcohol: Beer, wine and hard liquor dehydrate your body and don’t count (sorry!) toward your water needs.  Actually, they have the opposite effect. Alcohol triggers your kidneys to produce more urine. The more you urinate, the more dehydrated you become.

Flavored water and vitamin-enhanced water: Some flavored waters are sweetened with real juice, others with artificial sweeteners. Read the label and go for the natural sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners include:

  • Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One)
  • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
  • Neotame
  • Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

Vitamin water can be a nice change of pace from regular water once in a while but should never replace pure water. They can get pretty expensive, too!  Drinking one bottle of vitamin-enhanced water a day will add up to over $400 by the end of the year!

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Sugar Shock!

May 17th, 2013 | no comments

Sugar, sugar everywhere! See just how much is in your favorite foods, along with healthier alternatives!

 

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Drink fruit infused water!

April 19th, 2013 | no comments

fruitwater

Do you every grow tired of drinking plain old water? It’s o.k. if you said yes…I do too! Instead of reaching for a calorie-rich beverage like juice, soda, energy drinks or Gatorade or calorie-free flavored waters made with artificial sweetener (which most are by the way), make your own fruit-infused water! It’s refreshing, zero calories (unless you eat the fruit at the bottom) and adds a touch of natural flavor.

 


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large glass pitcher
  • 1/2 gallon of water (can be sparkling water if you are serving it right away)
  • Fresh fruit or vegetable (try one or more of the following):
    • Orange slices
    • Lemon slices
    • Lime slices
    • Watermelon cubes
    • Cantaloupe cubes
    • Berries – either single berry or mixed berries
    • Cucumber slices
    • Mango cubes
    • Pineapple cubes
  • Fresh herbs (optional)
    • Mint leaves
    • Cilantro leaves
    • Lavender
    • Basil leaves

Here’s what to do:

  1. Place sliced or cubed fruit/vegetables (and fresh herbs if desired) in pitcher
  2. Cover with cold water
  3. Infuse for at least 2 hours in refrigerator
  4. Add ice if desired and enjoy!

Just in time for summer…

Pineapple-Mint Water:

1/2 gallon water
1/4 pineapple, peeled and cut into cubes
8 to 10 mint leaves

Place water in pitcher and add pineapple and mint leaves. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Pour over ice and enjoy!

pineapple water

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Health benefits of tea

April 10th, 2013 | no comments

Black, whitetea or green. If it’s followed by the word ‘tea’…drink up!

Why?

  • For starters, it helps prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing your LDL (bad) cholesterol  and keeping your blood pressure in check! In fact, a 2004 study in Taiwan showed a 46% lower risk of developing high blood pressure in those who drank between 4-20 ounces of tea per day compared to those who didn’t drink it regularly.
  • Tea promotes digestive health
  • It appears to control glucose and insulin
  • Looking to shed those extra winter pounds? Green tea can help! The caffeine, theanine and other components in green tea powder were found to suppress weight and fat accumulation in laboratory mice.

How much?

Tea experts disagree on this one. Some suggest two 8-ounce cups per day is enough to offer health benefits, while others say five or more cups. My advice? Just drink it! Start drinking it if you don’t and keep drinking it if you do!

How about iced tea?

Iced tea offers the same benefits as long as it starts out hot and then is cooled down. Oh, and store bought powdered mixtures don’t count!

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Coconut milk- should you drink it?

September 3rd, 2012 | no comments

Take a stroll down the dairy or ice cream aisle at your local grocery store and you will notice an old/new kid on the block. Coconut! From coconut milk and “ice cream” to coconut yogurt, the real question is— should you make the switch?

Because coconut oil is approximately 92% saturated fat (olive and soybean oils are 15% saturated fat), most of the fat in these coconut products is also saturated.

The fat in coconut oil is a bit unusual because it contains a high percentage of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs.) Most oils consist entirely of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs.) Coconut oil contains roughly 40 percent LCTs and 60 percent MCTs. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the difference matters because our bodies metabolize MCTs differently than LCTs. “MCTs are transported directly from the intestinal tract to the liver, where they’re likely to be directly burned off as fuel and raise the metabolic rate slightly,” explains researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge of Columbia University. That means less is available to be circulated throughout the body and deposited in fat tissues.

So does all of this mean you should exchange your cow, soy or almond milk for coconut milk? No! Here’s why:

  • It’s still a saturated fat-rich product—which means it can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Although it’s a milk substitute, it’s not an impressive source of calcium. One cup of SO Delicious Original Coconut Milk offers a mere 10% calcium. Cow, soy and almond milk are more generous—30%-45% of your daily calcium needs.
  • It’s made with sugar! You won’t actually find the word ‘sugar’ in the list of ingredients however, instead you’ll see the fancy phrase ‘organic evaporated cane juice’—which in layman’s terms means…sugar.

Of course, it won’t hurt to indulge in a small bowl of coconut “ice cream” (or any kind of ice cream for that matter) once in awhile—just make sure it’s only once in awhile. You don’t eat birthday cake every day…do you? Well…do you? Didn’t think so!

 

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Tired of plain H20? Sip on this!

January 23rd, 2012 | no comments

Although plain old-fashioned H20 is your best bet for hydrating that body of yours, sometimes it can get, well, a little boring! Lucky for you there are a several options to break up the monotony. Try one of these on for size:

  1. Squeeze a lemon, lime or orange into your water or drop in a few cucumber slices.
  2. Fill ice cube trays with cranberry, grape, orange or grapefruit juice and freeze. Drop one into your water for a little hint of flavor without racking up the calories.
  3. Metromint bottled water. Found in your local grocery store, Metromint comes in spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, orange mint, lemon mint, cherry mint and berry mint. The company uses real mint grown pesticide-free in the Yakima Valley. No artificial sweeteners of any kind plus calorie-free! www.metromint.com
  4. Sprinkle a packet of TrueLemon in your water! A 100% natural product made from lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit. Calorie-free and no artificial sweeteners! www.truelemon.com
  5. Hint bottled water. Just like Metromint, Hint is pure water infused with natural flavors and is also calorie and artificial sweetener-free! www.drinkhint.com
  6. Crystal Light Pure. A 15-calorie-per-serving drink mix made from sugar and Truvia—a sweetener made from the extract of the stevia plant. Each pouch contains two servings, but you really only need to use a third of it for just a touch of flavor. www.kraftbrands.com/crystallight/Pages/default.aspx#/pure

How much water?

Divide your body weight in half and the result is the number of ounces you should be drinking every day. An easier calculation that’s not really a calculation at all, is to look at the color of your urine. I know, not very glamorous, but you look at it anyways don’t you? If not—start now! If it’s the color of the beer you drank last night, you’d better drink up (water…not more beer!) If it’s a pale yellow color, then you’re right on track!

The bottom line: Train your taste buds to prefer plain water and then mix it up once in awhile for a refreshing change of pace!

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Should you drink it? Low Sodium V-8 Juice

March 28th, 2010 | no comments

Yes! Yes!  Yes!   Low Sodium V8 Juice is a super quick way to achieve a serving of vegetables while on the road.  You should try to eat at least 2 cups of vegetables everyday for optimal health.  Just one 6 ounce can of Low Sodium V8 juice equals 1/2 cup of vegetables and supplies your body with 90% of your Vitamin C  needs and 30% of your Vitamin A needs for the day, all for just 40 calories.  This is what I call getting the most nutrition for your calories.

For a perfect salty/sweet snack, try pairing a can of Low Sodium V8 Juice with a cluster of grapes.  Now you can check off one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit for the day.

Forget snacking on Doritos and Pepsi, that combination won’t get you very far.  When you need an extra boost of energy, think fruits and vegetables…they will never let you down!

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Should you drink it? Starbucks Grande Caffe Mocha

March 28th, 2010 | no comments

Only if you want to overdose on sugar and saturated fat!  Let’s get one thing straight…sugar and fat are not the enemy, unless of course you’re talking about one 16 oz grande Caffe Mocha offering over 8 teaspoons of sugar and 53% saturated fat!  Sure it supplies caffeine to give you a boost, but the excessive sugar and saturated fat content is sure to put you in a slump shortly after.  I’ll bet this wasn’t your intention when you ordered this frothy beverage in the first place.

Check this out:  It only takes 11 Caffe Mocha’s to gain 1 pound of body fat!  This is assuming you aren’t subtracting 330 calories from your diet to compensate for the mocha.  Most of us don’t!  We think of the mocha as “just a beverage” when in fact it is a “meal”, just not a very nutritious one.

Here are the nutrition facts for a grande Caffe Mocha made with 2% milk:

Calories:  330; Fat:  15 grams (8 grams saturated fat); Carbohydrates:  43 grams; Fiber:  2 grams; Sugars:  33 grams; Protein:  13 grams; Calcium:  35%

A better option would be a grande Caffe Latte made with skim milk:

Calories:  130; Fat:  0 grams; Carbohydrates:  19 grams; Fiber: 0 grams;  Sugars: 18 grams; Protein:  13 grams; Calcium:  45%

I know what you’re thinking:  “But it doesn’t taste as good Melanie!”  Trust me, once your taste buds get used to not having all of that extra sugar on them, they will adapt to prefer less sugar.  Then, when you eventually indulge in a Caffe Mocha you will feel like you are drinking a cup of cotton candy!


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