Category: "Restaurant food"

10 Blood Pressure-Lowering Tips

April 19th, 2014 | no comments


High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects 1 in 3 adults and is the most common cardiovascular disease.

Blood pressure actually refers to the force of your blood on your artery walls as it makes its way through your body. Just like too much air pressure damages a tire, if your blood pressure is too high, it can threaten the health of your arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

High blood pressure carries no symptoms. In fact, hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because it shows no early signs. The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to routinely have your blood pressure checked.

Here are ten steps you can take today to lower your blood pressure:

  1. Be informed! If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, make an appointment with your doctor.
    HINT: Aim for a blood pressure reading of below 120/80 mmHg
  2. Avoid the salt shaker. Herbs, salt-free spices, lemon juice, vinegar and salt substitutes can all be used in place of table salt to flavor your food without adding sodium.
    HINT: Salt substitutes labeled “sodium-free” most likely contain potassium chloride and contain no sodium. These substitutes may not be for everyone and can actually be dangerous for some people. If you have kidney problems or are on medication for your heart, kidneys or liver, it’s best to check with your doctor before using salt substitutes with potassium.
  3. Read it before you eat it! Read food labels for sodium and choose the lower sodium option of soups, snack foods and other processed foods.
    HINT: 140 mg of sodium or less per serving is considered “low sodium”
  4. Eat your fruits and veggies! They’re loaded with potassium, magnesium and fiber, which helps “blunt” the effects of sodium on your blood pressure.
    HINT: Bananas, broccoli, pinto beans and potatoes are all considered good sources of potassium!
  5. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned.
    HINT: Frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh. Just make sure they’re not covered in cheese sauce!
  6. Rinse. If you eat canned foods like beans, vegetables, or olives, rinse them under cold water in a strainer to remove some of the sodium.
    HINT: Rinsing removes up to 30% of the sodium.
  7. Get fresh. Eat less processed meats like deli meats, hot dogs and sausage and choose more fresh meats like chicken and fish.
    HINT: At Subway, aim for the 6″ Oven Roasted Chicken sub instead of the Cold Cut Combo and save 420 mg of sodium.
  8. Kick the habit. Smoking increases blood pressure, heart rate and blood clotting and decreases oxygen delivery to your heart. If you smoke cigarettes and have been thinking about quitting, ask for help! Remember, you are not alone.
    HINT: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers tons of support to quit smoking, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
  9. Chill out. Make time each morning to practice relaxation techniques. Five minutes is all it takes!
    HINT: I’m currently taking the “Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenge.” Check it out for free at:
  10. Get moving! Aerobic exercise reduces blood pressure in both hypertensive and non-hypertensive people, so there really is no good excuse to skip out on it. Find ways to sneak more movement into your day…you’re worth it!
    HINT: The recommendation is 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week…BUT you don’t have to do it all at one time. Three 10-minute sessions works just as well.

Make it happen! If you have high blood pressure (or want to prevent high blood pressure)- choose one tip from above to put into practice today and the rest of the week. You. Are. Worth. It.

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Eating soup can save you calories!

February 14th, 2014 | no comments

No, it’s not some sort of whacky soup diet…soup consumption really IS linked to eating fewer calories. What’s more, recent studies have revealed that soup consumption is associated with a lower risk of obesity and aids in body weight management.

There’s only one problem however– soup (especially if it’s canned) tends to be pretty high in sodium. Some canned soups on the market today have upwards of 1000 milligrams of sodium per serving. I won’t even mention the hidden sodium in restaurant soups! OK…maybe just one example: A bowl of chicken noodle soup at your neighborhood Panera Bread will cost you a whopping 1380 milligrams of sodium! If you want to keep your heart in tiptop shape, you should really strive to eat under 2300 milligrams of sodium per day.

So what should you be looking for on a food label? The goal is to aim for less than 500 milligrams of sodium per serving. Don’t worry, there are plenty of tasty, reduced sodium soups out there. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Amy’s Organic Light in Sodium Soups (Cream of Tomato, Butternut Squash, Lentil Vegetable, Split Pea, Spicy Chili and Minestrone). Less than 350 milligrams of sodium per serving.
  • Pacific Organic Soups (Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato, Creamy Butternut Squash, Creamy Tomato). Less than 400 milligrams of sodium per serving.

NOTE: Most soups contain two servings per container! Eating the entire can means you’ll be downing double the sodium.

Of course if you really want to control your soup sodium, homemade is always your best bet. Click here for a few delicious recipes to try out!

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Dining Out? 5 Ways To Save 500 Calories

August 30th, 2012 | no comments

Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the convenience of dining out usually comes with a hefty caloric price. Here are five ways to save 500 calories or more the very next time you step foot into one of these popular fast food restaurants:


Instead of a:      Roasted Turkey, Ranch & Bacon sandwich
Order a:             Junior Turkey & Cheese
And save:           590 calories


Instead of a:      Chicken Burrito with the works
Order a:             Vegetarian Fajita Burrito Bowl: brown rice, black beans, salsa, lettuce and guacamole
And save:           710 calories


Instead of a:      Angus Deluxe
Order a:             Hamburger
And save:           500 calories


Instead of a:      Italian Combo with Ham on Ciabatta
Order a:             Strawberry and Poppyseed Chicken Salad
And save:           640 calories


Instead of a:      Extra Crispy Chicken Breast w/mashed potatoes & gravy, biscuit, macaroni and cheese
Order a:            
Original Chicken Breast without breading or skin w/green beans, coleslaw and 3″ corn on the cob
And save:           535 calories

All you have to do is put a little extra thought into your food order. Virtually all chain restaurants list the calorie content of their menu items online. So if you want to be prepared—check it out! I promise, you won’t miss the extra calories!

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Red light restaurant foods

May 21st, 2012 | no comments

The next time you dine away from home, pay special attention to the words describing the menu items. You can make healthier choices by simply avoiding certain options altogether! While most of us probably know Alfredo, fried, buttered and cheesy make for higher fat and calorie counts, here are some other unhealthy menu terms that might not be so clear:

Bearnaise (or hollandaise)

  • Means: A sauce made of butter and egg yolks; contains 14 grams of saturated fat per 1/4 cup!
  • Example: Beef Tenderloin with Bearnaise sauce
  • Alternatives: Beef Tenderloin in Au Jus Sauce (au jus means ‘cooked in juice’-the juice of the meat itself)


  • Means: A smooth, creamy soup made from butter and heavy cream; contains about 13 grams of saturated fat per 1-cup serving…yikes!
  • Examples: Lobster bisque; tomato bisque
  • Alternatives: Chicken noodle; chili


  • Means: Rolled in bread or dough, then fried
  • Example: Breaded fish
  • Alternatives: Poached or broiled fish


  • Usually means: Fried in oil
  • Example: Crispy chicken
  • Alternatives: Baked, roasted or grilled chicken


  • Means: Food that has been battered and deep-fried
  • Examples: Tempura shrimp; tempura vegetables
  • Alternatives: Grilled shrimp; steamed vegetables

White Sauce (or Béchamel)

  • Means: A sauce made of milk, butter and flour
  • Examples: Pasta with white sauce
  • Alternatives: Pasta with marinara sauce

Remember- it’s OK to treat yourself to these foods once in awhile, but just like birthday cake, you wouldn’t want to eat them every day!

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Best and worst breakfasts at Panera

November 7th, 2011 | no comments

Who doesn’t love Panera? Breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’re sure to find something to tempt your taste buds! From Cinnamon Crunch Bagels to breakfast sandwiches, what’s the best (and not so best) choice for your first meal of the day? Take a look!


Breakfast Power Sandwich with fresh fruit cup
Calories: 400
Fat: 15 grams (34%)
Saturated fat: 7 grams (16%- because of the cheese; ask for no cheese and it drops to 6%)
Sodium: 820 mg (because of the ham and cheese; ask for no cheese and it drops to 670 mg)
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 24 grams

Half of a whole grain bagel with peanut butter and a yogurt parfait
Calories: 570
Fat: 20 grams (32%)
Saturated fat: (9%)
Sodium: 360 mg
Fiber: 8 grams
Protein: 18 grams


Spinach Bacon Egg Souffle
Calories: 570
Fat: 37 grams (58%)
Saturated fat: 20 grams (32%…wow wee!!)
Sodium: 930 mg (yikes!)
Fiber: 2 grams
Protein: 23 grams

Bottom line: Step away from the souffle! Looks can be deceiving…at first glance these little fat bombs look small and harmless, but check out the paper underneath…you can almost see through it!

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Should you eat it? Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion

March 28th, 2010 | no comments

No way!  The mere smell of this dish clogs my arteries.  I think the nutrition profile speaks for itself:

Total Meal – Bloomin’ Onion®
Serves 6
Nutritional Facts*
Per Serving Total
Calories 260.0  cal 1560.0  cal
Carbohydrates 30.9  g 185.2  g
Dietary Fiber 4.1  g 24.9  g
Total Fat 14.0  g 84.2  g
Saturated Fat 5.4  g 32.5  g
Protein 4.6  g 27.7  g
Cholesterol 15.2  mg 91.5  mg
Sodium 918.4  mg 5510.2  mg

If you’re still not convinced and find yourself asking  “How can I resist it when it tastes so good?”, ask yourself this:

“How will I feel after I eat this?”

My guess is you’ll feel bloated, stuffed, and like you want to take a nap!  Do you really want to feel that way?

The easiest way to make healthy food choices is to start by asking yourself this question:  “How do I want to feel after I eat?”  Your answer will then guide you in choosing the best foods.

Pretty soon, you won’t even want to put foods like the Bloomin’ Onion in your body and you’ll find yourself saying “GROSS!”

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Should you eat it? Panera Bread’s Spinach and Bacon Baked Egg Souffle

March 28th, 2010 | no comments

No! Don’t let the words “baked” and “spinach” fool you! This flaky little thing packs a big sodium and saturated fat punch! In fact, it’s probably one of the most unhealthy things on the entire menu (competing for first place are New England Clam Chowder and Mac-n-Cheese). Here are the facts:

Spinach & Bacon Baked Egg Souffle (serving size= 1 souffle):

Calories: 580; Total fat: 39 grams (61% fat); Saturated fat: 21 grams (54% saturated fat…OUCH!); Trans fat: 1 gram; Cholesterol: 175 mg; Sodium: 940 mg; Carbohydrates: 34 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; Protein: 23 grams

Not a wise choice if you love your heart! Instead, why not order a whole grain bagel with peanut butter. Look at how much more heart-friendly this choice is:

Panera Bread Whole Grain Bagel with Peanut Butter (serving size: 1 bagel + 1 tbsp peanut butter):

Calories: 455; Fat: 11 grams (22% fat); Saturated fat: 1.25 grams (11% saturated fat); Trans fat: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 490 mg; Carbohydrates: 73 grams; Fiber: 7 grams; Protein: 16 grams

Much better! Using Panera Bread’s online nutrition calculator you can now make smarter choices. Visit: to plug in your favorite menu items and see how they measure up!

Since February is National Heart Month, love your heart and be kind to it…watch your sodium, saturated and trans fat intake.

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