Category: "Sweets"

I’m angry…and you should be too!

March 11th, 2013 | no comments

angryImagine your significant other, parent, friend, co-worker, boss, or a complete stranger, spending countless hours masterminding the most devious of schemes. The goal? To hypnotize you under their control. The stronger their hold, the more difficult it becomes to break away. They lie (very convincingly), leading you to believe they really care about you…and you in fact believe them because you are completely unaware of their manipulative powers. You become brainwashed. You find that you can’t live without them and become addicted to their power—addicted to them.

No one—and I mean NO ONE— likes to be manipulated. The only thing worse is being manipulated your entire life and not even realizing it. No…I take that back. There is something worse. Being manipulated your entire life and then blaming yourself for the person you’ve become.

Am I ruffling your feathers a bit? Are you hot and bothered at the mere thought of another person making it their life’s mission to dominate your mind and body…to literally wreck your well-being?

Are you angry? You should be. I am. In fact, I am furious!

The scenario I just painted is real my friends. You are being manipulated…by food.

I’m not talking apples, oatmeal and carrots here. I’m talking ooey-gooey, cheesy, salty, sugary, fried, flaky, crunchy, chocolatey processed foods. Foods coming not from the earth, but from a factory.

Did you know that food makers spend millions of dollars concocting specially formulated recipes that will stimulate your brain to want more and more of the yielded food? The main ingredients? Fat, sugar and salt. There’s even a name for the end result that is responsible for creating this out-of-control, eat-till-it’s-gone-and-you-feel-like-a-pig behavior. It’s called the “Bliss Point.” That precise point at which you derive the greatest pleasure from fat, sugar and salt. In other words, it’s that point which creates the greatest amount of CRAVE.

Are you angry? You should be.

Are you angry at yourself? Stop it! Stop blaming yourself for getting “drunk” on potato chips, doughnuts and chocolate chip cookies. This unstoppable force isn’t born out of a lack of willpower or self-control…it’s the food.

Real food (i.e. food from the earth/one-ingredient foods) doesn’t perpetuate binge-related behavior. It satisfies. It nourishes. It pleases the body, mind and soul. It eases (not causes) disease.

Be aware. Be angry, then proactive. Take control…because it’s YOUR body. I’m not suggesting you swear off your most treasured delectable treats. Just be aware and take caution. Know what they do to your brain and create a plan for portion-control.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and let anyone or anything (insert processed food here) control my health…unless it’s me. I’m worth more than that. YOU are worth more than that.

Are you angry? You should be.

Now go do something about it.

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Nuts for Nutella? What you need to know

August 20th, 2012 | no comments

In case you haven’t noticed, I am not one to tell you to not eat a particular food—no matter how many grams of sugar are in it. When you restrict a food, you assign it power. When food has power, it wins! Now of course certain foods are more supportive of your health than others, and while you should focus on building your meals around these foods, really, all foods do fit.

Nutella fans, you may breathe a sigh of relief—I’m not about to burst your Nutella bubble. I do, however, want to clear up one thing about your favorite spread:

It is NOT the same as peanut butter!

I know, I know, the very first few letters spell ‘NUT’…but it still doesn’t even come close to peanut butter.

What is Nutella?

A hazelnut-cocoa spread used as a topping for toast or bagels. Hazelnuts and cocoa are both perfectly nutritious foods. Sugar, on the other hand, is not. In fact, Nutella has more sugar than any other ingredient—a little over five teaspoons of the white stuff in just one serving (2 tablespoons).

Keep in mind that you should try to aim for no more than six teaspoons of added sugar in one day. Why? Over consumption of added sugars (not those naturally found in fruit and milk) has been linked to heart disease and certain cancers.

So, can Nutella fit in a healthy meal plan? Yes! But just make sure to count it as a Soul Food, because that’s exactly what it is! Soul Food is that food you cannot live without…and you shouldn’t have to. It makes up about 10% of your daily food intake. My Soul Food is chocolate. It’s a rare occasion that I don’t have a piece of chocolate every night after dinner. Notice I said PIECE of chocolate, not BAG of chocolate. If I’m allowing myself to have chocolate, it doesn’t make sense to eat the entire bag. I eat a piece (or two). I smile. I enjoy it. I go on with my day.

If you are looking for a lower sugar spread for your bagel, stir a touch of cocoa into a tablespoon of Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter. Not only is it more filling and nutritious than Nutella, it only has a trace of sugar (0.5 grams). If you aren’t looking for a lower sugar spread and are nuts for Nutella…eat Nutella. Smile. Enjoy it. Then watch your added sugars for the rest of the day.

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Ice cream 101

June 25th, 2012 | no comments

A single serving of ice cream—which equals one 1/2 cup—is a perfectly fine treat to enjoy once in awhile on a hot summer’s evening. So don’t be so quick to put it on your “Do Not Eat” list (which by the way I hope you’ve torn up by now!) Take a look at how a serving of Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean Ice Cream measures up:

Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 140
(less than a bowl of cereal with milk)
Saturated fat: 5 grams (1 ounce cheese = 6 grams of saturated fat)
Sugar: 16 grams (8 ounces of orange juice = 22 grams of sugar)
Sodium: 50 mg

The next test is to look at the list of ingredients:

CREAM, NONFAT MILK, SUGAR, VANILLA, VANILLA BEAN

Although cream and sugar aren’t thought of as health foods, the bottom line is…you know what they are!

Reduced fat usually means increased sugar. For some reason, when a food is labeled “low-fat” or “fat free” we feel it’s a license to eat more (and we usually do!) So if you are going to eat ice cream, don’t mess around…eat the real thing!

I’ve just given you permission to eat ice cream- that was easy! The challenge will be to keep the portion size at a half-cup. Never fear! Here’s a quick tip- instead of cereal bowls, serve your ice cream in custard cups! They hold about 4-6 ounces or about one scoop.

P.S. If your ice cream feels naked- try dressing it with 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate chips for only 70 extra calories or 1 tablespoon of chopped peanuts for only 55 calories!

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How to kick your soda habit!

May 28th, 2012 | no comments

You’re reading this post because you, or someone you know, is a “soda addict”—right? It’s OK, admitting you have a problem is the first step! The next is forming a good reason why you should quit (and no, “because my family, friends, dietitian, doctor, etc. says I should” is not a good reason. You have to be the reason why you quit. Check out these more recent findings about your favorite soft drink:

  • More than 4300 strokes were documented in women and men
    by researchers from the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute and Harvard University who analyzed soda consumption from 1980-2008.
  • A link was found between diet soda consumption and increased risk of stroke
    by researchers from Columbia University and the University of Miami in 2011.

Let’s also not forget that a 12-ounce can of regular soda packs a whopping 10 teaspoons of sugar—yuck! And diet soda is made with artificial sweeteners, which basically means it’s a chemical you are willingly putting in your body. Enough said!

Now that we’re clear on the ugly side-effects of soda consumption, how exactly can you kick the habit?

Step 1: Wean slowly
If you are drinking multiple cans of soda every day, start by dropping one can a week. Going “cold turkey” can be a bit rough as caffeine withdrawal symptoms (such as headaches) are likely. If you are a one-can-a-day drinker, try leaving a little bit more in the can with each passing week. For example, on week one, drink 3/4 of the can; week two, drink 1/2 of the can; week three, sip only 1/4 of the can; week four—congratulations, you’ve kicked the habit!

If you are missing the caffeine pick-me-up, try drinking green tea! It contains caffeine and is also loaded with antioxidants!

Step 2: Find another fizz
Often it’s the carbonation that soda addicts are attracted to. If this is the case with you, try replacing the soda with other carbonated beverages without sweeteners or artificial sweeteners such as:

  • La Croix sparkling water
  • Seltzer water with a twist of lemon, lime or a tablespoon of your favorite 100% juice

Step 3: Keep hydrated with H20!
If you want the best for your body (and I know you do!) choose water to quench your thirst. Add lemon, lime, cucumber or a splash of juice if you like! Once your taste buds become accustomed to less sweet, you will find that nothing does the job like good old fashioned H20!

Diet and regular sodas should be thought of as dessert—to be enjoyed only once in awhile. If you find you can’t enjoy it on occasion without triggering a rebound effect, then don’t dabble at all! You CAN do this.

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What is your “Soul Food?”

April 30th, 2012 | no comments

Eating a well-balanced diet doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, if you over-complicate it, you will most certainly give up. Understand that no one is perfect—this is especially true when it comes to your eating habits.

The goal is to eat good-for-you foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy products, healthy fats and whole grains approximately 90% of the time, while leaving 10% for “Soul Food”. Soul Food refers to those foods you simply can’t live without. Even though they may not be the healthiest option, they serve a very important purpose—to keep you on track. Nothing is worse than forbidding yourself of your favorite foods like chocolate, potato chips and cookies.

Interestingly enough, sticking to the 90-10 rule will create a natural shift in your taste buds and you will slowly begin to prefer—even crave—the ‘cleaner’ foods. Don’t ask me how this works, it just does! I speak from experience. I used to be the girl who secretly stuffed her face full of candy, doughnuts, cookies and ice cream. When I began making small shifts in my eating habits towards more real food, I found I simply couldn’t live without it…and I didn’t want to. My body felt better. My brain worked better. I had more energy. My health improved. What more could you ask for?

Food is part fuel for the body and part enjoyment. Denying yourself of the enjoyment factor is criminal! The key is to keep your portion of Soul Food reasonable, really enjoy it and then shift back to fulfilling your 90%. Give it a try and I promise…you won’t be sorry!

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Sugar shock! Is it really toxic?

April 9th, 2012 | no comments

130 pounds. That’s a person. That’s also the amount of sugar the average American eats per year! I know, shocking right? What’s even more shocking is that studies are now uncovering some disturbing findings about the sweet stuff, including it’s role in heart disease and cancer.

Sugar’s role in heart disease

Biologists at the University of California, Davis are in the middle of a groundbreaking, five-year study which has already shown strong evidence linking excess high fructose corn syrup consumption to an increase in risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The study suggests that when a person consumes too much sweet stuff, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and converts some of it into fat. Some of that fat ends up in the bloodstream and helps generate a dangerous kind of cholesterol called small dense LDL. These particles are known to lodge in blood vessels, form plaque and are associated with heart attacks.

Sugar’s role in cancer?

Lewis Cantley, a Harvard professor and the head of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center, says when we eat or drink sugar, it causes a sudden spike in the hormone insulin, which can serve as a catalyst to fuel certain types of cancers. Nearly a third of some common cancers — including breast and colon cancers — have something called insulin receptors on their surface. Insulin binds to these receptors and signals the tumor to start consuming glucose.

According to Cantley, every cell in our body needs glucose to survive. But the trouble is, these cancer cells also use it to grow.

What should you do?

Should you completely swear off of sugar for good? NO! First, understand that there is a difference between added sugar and natural sugar. Natural sugars are found in natural foods like fruit and milk. It’s the added stuff that you want to look at limiting. To spot an added sugar, simply look at the food label. If any of the following words are listed, then you know the food is made with added sugars:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup

Now all you have to do is count! The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to:

  • 150 calories (38 grams) of added sugars a day for men
  • 100 calories (25 grams) of added sugars a day for women

To show you what you’re up against, here is the sugar content of some commonly consumed foods and beverages:

  • 12 ounces of Coke or Pepsi- 41 grams
  • 2 Oreo cookies- 7 grams
  • 10 jelly beans- 20 grams
  • 32 ounces of Gatorade- 56 grams
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce- 11 grams
  • 1 ounce Wheat Thins- 4 grams
  • 2/3 cup granola cereal- 13 grams

We were taught as children that too much sugar isn’t good for us. Heck, I can remember swallowing straws of Pixie Sticks and shoveling jelly beans in my mouth like an addict—as my mother stood there wagging her finger, swearing that my teeth would rot out of my mouth before I turned 10! Did we listen? Hell no! Am I paying attention now? Hell yes!

The bottom line: Awareness is key. Read food labels for added sugars and then look for the grams of sugar on the label. Slowly  work a little on replacing those foods with lots of added sugars, with natural foods— foods from the earth! Personally, since I’ve been counting my grams of sugar, I’m finding that it forces me to eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts and other wholesome foods. The coolest part, I don’t have to give up my nightly chocolate indulgence…it still fits!

 

 

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Don’t be fooled by this “healthy” cookie

March 26th, 2012 | no comments

I’ll admit, I almost fell for the boastful “health claims” hook, line and sinker. How could you blame me when the box reads statements like:

  • “As much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal”
  • “As much calcium and vitamin D as an 8 ounce glass of milk”
  • “As much vitamin C as a cup of blueberries”
  • “As much iron as a cup of spinach”

Hell, no need to load up on whole grains and produce, this cookie has it all!

I almost bought a box…until…I looked at the list of ingredients—which, by the way, can’t be easily found on their website. Hmm I wonder why?

The first ingredient is sugar, followed by wheat flour. If you know even a little bit about food labels, you are aware of the fact that ingredients in the largest amount are listed first. Great! So essentially, these cookies are nothing more than “sugar” cookies pumped full of vitamins. Eating a serving of WhoNu cookies is just like swallowing three teaspoons of sugar! Think about it—you can inject vitamins and minerals into a hot fudge sundae, but it doesn’t make it healthy!

Wheat flour might seem like an impressive ingredient, but really it’s just plain old flour. Unless it specifically says “whole wheat flour”, you’re basically eating a slice of white bread.

I have always been a fan of Kashi products. They aren’t afraid to list their ingredients on their website because they have nothing to hide! Compared to a serving of WhoNu cookies, a serving of Kashi Happy Trail Mix cookies offers less calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar and more fiber. Not to mention the first ingredient on this label is: rolled whole grain blend—that means whole grain! Does it have vitamin C, iron or calcium? Nope! But I don’t eat cookies (and neither should you) to fulfill my vitamin C, iron and calcium needs— I eat blueberries and spinach and drink milk!

I will give WhoNu a thumbs up in their marketing genius however. It almost got me…almost!

Bottom line: Read your food labels. Don’t take the food manufacturers word for it. They have one goal in mind—to get you to buy their product!

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Hidden sugars in your food

September 13th, 2011 | no comments

Why should you care about sugar?

If you’re looking for extra energy, you won’t find it in a can of Coke or a bag of M&M’s. First of all, your body digests sugar super fast, which means about thirty minutes after sucking down that soda, you’ll be feeling sluggish and foggy. Secondly, the empty calories in sugar can lead to obesity and excess inflammation, increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Ever find yourself saying, “I’m hooked on Mountain Dew”? There may be some truth to that statement. In his book The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler explains how some people can become addicted to sweets and chocolate chip cookies the way other people become addicted to cocaine!

What should you do?

It’s not realistic to suggest you turn your nose up to every food with sugar in it. In fact, it’s found in so many of the foods we eat day in and day out that it would be next to impossible to eliminate it. For example, did you know that spaghetti sauce, salad dressing and crackers often contain some form of sugar? Instead, start by watching your intake of simple sugars. These are foods like table sugar, candy, soda, jams, jellies, fruit juices and pastries. If you consider yourself a “junk food junkie” and would rather die than give up your daily creme-filled Hostess Cupcake, start small. Try swapping the cupcake for an apple just one day out of the week. Then the next week, try two days. Let’s say you go through a 24-pack of Coke by yourself each week, start by replacing one can of Coke each day with a bottle of water. Reducing the sugar in your diet doesn’t have to be painful if you focus on taking small baby steps! After awhile, you’ll be surprised at how much more energy you have and delighted to find your clothes fitting a little better too!

How can you spot hidden sugars?

Read your food labels! Sugar can be disguised as any of the following words under the list of ingredients:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup

What baby step will you take today to reduce the sugar in your diet?

Make it an energizing day!

Melanie

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Should you eat it? Funnel Cakes

August 14th, 2010 | no comments

funnel cake

I think you already know the answer, right?  O.K. I know what you’re thinking…county fair time only comes around once a year and if you only eat one funnel cake a year it won’t kill you.  You’re right, it won’t kill you!  Although I don’t care for them particularly, I am always in awe of the once white paper plate (now transparent) that the funnel cake is served on.  What do you think that is?  Grease, grease and more grease…they are deep fried you know.  No thanks!  Sure it tastes good, but that paper plate tells me all I need to know.  Take a look at the nutrition facts of one funnel cake:

Funnel Cake:  3 ounces

Calories:  356
Fat:  16 grams  (like eating 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter)
Saturated fat:  4 grams
Cholesterol:  40 mg
Sodium:  300 mg
Carbohydrates:  49 grams
Fiber:  1 grams
Sugar:  25 grams  (6 teaspoons of sugar)
Protein:  5 grams

You would have to walk around the fair for 1 hour and 15 minutes to burn off that funnel cake!  This isn’t counting all of the other “fair foods” you may have indulged in.  What about those fries in a bucket, onion rings, gyros and cotton candy?  Is it worth it?  You decide.  Just be sure to work out extra hard tomorrow!



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Should you eat it? Easter candy

April 1st, 2010 | no comments

Yes you should!  Especially if it’s dark chocolate.  Let’s face it, Easter candy comes in many different forms:  Marshmallow Peeps, jelly beans, dark chocolate bunnies, milk chocolate bunnies, white chocolate bunnies, peanut butter-filled eggs, and the infamous Cadbury Creme Egg.  By the way, does anyone really know what the “yolk” is made out of?

Check out the nutrition facts for one Cadbury Creme egg:

Calories: 150; Fat:  5 grams (30% fat…not bad!); Saturated fat:  3 grams (60% of the fat is saturated…not so good); Cholesterol:  5 mg; Sodium:  20 mg; Carbohydrates:  25 grams; Fiber:  0 grams; Sugar:  22 grams (that equals 5 teaspoons of sugar!)

The truth is, all but one of the above Easter treats will leave you wanting more sugar after you eat it:  Dark chocolate.  It is very intense and rich in flavor, so you need a lot less to satisfy your sweet tooth!  Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants (called flavanoids), which means it has the power to “mop up” free radicals in your body.  Free radicals cause oxidative stress and damage in your body and are thought to be blamed, in part, for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  You can eliminate free radicals, but not completely by yourself.  Foods rich in antioxidants (like dark chocolate) can help you!

How to choose dark chocolate:

When selecting dark chocolate, look at the label for the percent cacao.  The higher the percentage, the richer and more intense the flavor and the higher the flavanoid content.  Here are some good picks:

  • Hershey’s Extra Dark (60% cacao)
  • Lindt Chocolate (50%, 70%, 85%, 90% cacao chocolate bars)
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Twilight Delight (72% cacao)

Dark chocolate is still high in saturated fat and sugar (For example, in Ghirardelli Intense Dark:  59% of the fat is saturated and 1 serving equals 2.5 teaspoons of sugar), but you are getting a healthy dose of antioxidants to protect your body.  If you are going to indulge in an Easter treat, you might as well do your body a little good along the way!


Amount per Serving

Calories 150 Calories from Fat 45

% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g 8%
Saturated Fat  3g 15%
Trans Fat  0g
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 20mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 8%
Dietary Fiber  0g 0%
Sugars  22g
Protein 1g 2%

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