Health & Food

Understanding The Whole Grain

Well, it’s another start to another week. But it’s not just any old week, it’s my birthday week!! I’m such a nerd, I’m actually excited about turning 27. Probably because I’m still 4 years younger than Nick, muahaha.

Updates since last time

– The house hunt continues. We’ve found some perfect houses, but Nick works all day on Sundays so we have yet to be inside any of them. Plus we have the small problem that I’m not full time yet, which may come to haunt us when asking for a loan.

– I have decided to post more often (maybe 4-5 times a week) but make my posts shorter. I find that I enjoy reading other blogger’s posts when they are shorter, therefore I should make posts how I like them, right? I guess I figure if I prefer shorter posts, other bloggers do too!

– We saw the movie “Doubt” on Saturday, and at first I doubted I’d like it (haha) but it ended up being a pretty great movie. Sort of somber and slow (which I normally can’t stand) but overall worth the 3 dollars we paid to rent it.

– Check out a fantastic giveaway from Kristen @EatingRD. And also check out her new blog!

Nutrition Tidbit
Whole Grains

This, my friends, is a whole grain.Understanding The Whole Grain 2

Picture Source: The Backing Association of Canada

Endosperm: Surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition in the form of starch, and contains some fat and protein.

Bran: Hard outer layer of the grain. Rich in dietary fiber (soluble mainly), protein, omegas, B vitamins, and minerals.

Germ: The reproductive part of the grain, which germinates to eventually grow into a plant. Contains essential fatty acids, vitamin E, folate, zinc, iron, magnesium, thiamin, and phosphorus.

Notice anything about the above definitions? The least nutritionally beneficial part of the whole grain is the endosperm. It just so happens that the endosperm is all that is left after grains are refined. When you see “enriched flour” or “wheat flour” or “refined flour”,
that means the company has refined the grain (taken out the bran and germ) and then added back the nutrients that were lost (called enrichment). The flour gets enriched with riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and iron. But what about the healthy fats, the vitamin E, the magnesium, and the phosphorus? Sorry, most products won’t be enriched with those beneficial nutrients. What should you look for on labels? WHOLE GRAIN OR WHOLE WHEAT, which means it’s whole and includes the germ and bran!

Other Benefits of Whole Grains

You’ve seen more and more “fiber” popping up in stores everywhere. Sometimes even in your drinks! Read a great post by Nicole to learn more about this so-called “fiber”. Basically, the “fiber” in many of these new products are isolated, not intact. WHAT?! Well to explain it in easy to understand terms, real dietary fiber is the indigestible (“intact”) portion of plant foods. One of the problems with all this “nonintact fiber” being added to foods, in my opinion, is that people will resort to these products (yogurts, ice creams, juices, sweeteners) for their fiber, rather than whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. So you could drink a juice, or eat a cup of yogurt, or even a pack of Splenda with “maltodextrin or inulin”, but you’re missing out on some huge benefits if that’s how you are getting most of your “fiber”. There are helpful phytonutrients/antioxidants found only in whole fruits and vegetables, and especially in whole grains, on which you will be missing out.
Phytonutrients/Antioxidants and Whole Grains

  • Studies suggest whole grain products have strong antioxidant activity
  • Studies show that on average higher in antioxidants than products from refined rice or corn ingredients.
  • Studies show whole grain breakfast cereals have been found to be equal, or higher, in antioxidants than many fruits or vegetables!
  • There are also several phytonutrients found in whole grains, which have been shown to aid in healthy immune function and heart health. ***I will add to this by saying Inulin, an “isolated fiber”, also has some of these beneficial phytonutrients.**

**For more information about whole grains visit the Grain blog or the Whole Grains Council**

Coming Up

I may do a post tomorrow, or I may not. I’ve been trying to keep up with commenting on other blogs, and that’s the most difficult thing for me when it comes to writing a post every day, I get behind. So tomorrow you may see a post from me, which will include some new eats and eventually a soup made FROM SCRATCH! Melinda is doing “From Scratch Weekends”, but I turned it into “From Scratch Weekdays” haha.

Health & Food

Nutty Noodle Goodness

I hope everyone is having a great weekend, so far! It’s rainy and dreary here in the ol’ C-bus (aka, Columbus). I’ve got a busy day of dietary consults and errands, then tonight we are looking for houses!

Updates Since Last Time
– Last night my friend Annie was in town with her new boyfriend. It was a great excuse to go out on the town with all of my high school friends! We had a lot of fun.

– I was reunited with Quinoa after I stole some from my mom’s cabinets (she knew I was stealing it…). I hadn’t had it in a long time and I wanted to see if Nick would eat it. Well, he did, and it’s our new staple food now. I can’t eat it alone (it tastes bland), but with other ingredients it’s perfect.

New Dinner
Dinner #6 Nutty Noodles

(serves 2)

2 cups cooked pasta
6 ounces cooked chicken breast
1/4 cup crunchy Smart Balance peanut butter
2 T soy sauce
1 t Smart Balance canola oil

Possible Modifications

  • Use any type of noodle (fettuccini, linguini, spaghetti, etc.)
  • Use any type of oil you choose, such as sesame or peanut oil
  • Use low sodium soy sauce
  • Add extra vegetables to increase the bulk, and the nutrition
  • Omit the chicken, or use another protein, such as tofu, turkey, or beef


Follow the simple directions on the pasta bag/box, or if you are using regular pasta, go ahead and cook it as usual (bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, add a dash of salt, add pasta, cook and stir for 8-10 minutes, depending on how you like your pasta cooked.Nutty Noodle Goodness 4

In a small saucepan, add the peanut butter, soy sauce, oil, and pre-cooked chicken. Cook on low heat, stirring continuously. Once the peanut butter has just about finished melting, add the noodles. Continue stirring until the noodles are evening coated with the sauce. Cook until everything is evenly heated (about 4-5 minutes), while continuing to stir. Last step, put on a plate!Nutty Noodle Goodness 5

 My Rating: 10 out of 10

This was one of the best meals I have had in a very long time. I wanted more! The Pasta Slim could have easily been confused for real (in my opinion)

Nick’s Rating: 7 out of 10

He knew it was fake, so I know that effected his opinion. However he did enjoy it! He’ll eat anything with peanut butter

Nutrition Facts

**Using an average pasta **Nutty Noodle Goodness 6

Notice the problem? HOLY SODIUM!! I would definitely suggest purchasing low sodium soy sauce. The rest of the sodium in this dish was from the peanut butter, which was just a general brand I used in the Calorie-Count database, but I used Smart Balance all natural, which is lower sodium. Most natural peanut butters are not going to be as high in sodium.

Coming Up

Stay tuned for my next post, which will include a “Nutrition TidBit” about whole grains, and also some new food creations. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!!

Health & Food

Fueling for Exercise; Q & A

Here are the Questions and Answers from yesterday’s post!

Keep in mind, if you are working out for 60 minutes or less, the recommendation is to simply make sure you don’t go into a workout hungry, and that you start your workout properly hydrated. After your workout, it’s best to fuel with some carbs and protein, but it’s not truly necessary if you are only a recreational athlete. The following recommendations can be used, but are mainly important for those working out/training longer than 60 minutes (most important for those working out 90-180 minutes), everyday. Also keep in mind that more specific recommendations may be necessary if you have specific goals and dietary needs.

Question #1

Julie; I’d love to hear the negative effects of not properly fueling before and after your workout.


The negative effects of not properly fueling before a workout will be different for each person. Why? It really depends on the type of workout you are doing, and during what time of the day. Julie, I know you tend to workout in the morning (EARLY!) and I notice you don’t usually eat anything beforehand. Well, keep in mind that during sleep you are losing about 80% of the glycogen you have stored in your liver. Glycogen is your body’s main source of energy during a high intensity, and medium intensity workout. After you start to exercise, right away your muscles will start using the glucose that is released from the continued breakdown of your remaining glycogen. If you plan to workout for about an hour, and you have not eaten anything, you run the risk of depleting your glycogen, and thus your body will not have the proper energy to keep you working out to your highest potential! I’ve heard people say to me, “but Gina, when my body doesn’t have glucose to use, won’t it burn my fat?!” Well, yes, it will, but you will also get a much less effective workout because your body uses much more energy for you to burn that fat. So if you’re going for heart health, AND weight management, eat a small snack 30 minutes before your morning workout, just to get that blood sugar (glucose) up!

If you are totally against that idea, make sure to eat a very large dinner the night before, and maybe even a pre-bedtime snack, to make sure you have maximum glycogen for your body to use throughout the night, and then maybe you’ll have enough left the next morning for an effective workout. Another option would be to bring a Gatorade (G2 has less calories) with you to drink while you workout. This will provide the fuel you need to have a great workout!
After a workout there aren’t really any negative side-effects of not eating, especially if you are just working out recreationally, but it is suggested that you consume some carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen a bit. Also some protein is good for muscle repair. Again, this depends on how hard you workout, and how soon your next workout session is. Aim for a snack with a ratio of 75% carbohydrates and 25% lean protein.

Question #2

Whitney; I would like to about what kinds of food (protein, carbs, fats) to eat before/after exercising.


Before: As I said in my post form yesterday, fat and fiber are both necessary in the diet, but are meal components that you don’t want to eat right before a workout (I’d say no sooner than 1-2 hours before). So when you have plenty of time (3-4 hours) before your workout, focus on whole grains and healthy fats (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds). If you just have an hour or two and you want to eat something to fuel your workout, it’s probably best to stay away from too much fiber and fat. Some whole grain crackers, a small piece of fruit, a glass of milk, or a banana are good choices. Stick to around 100-150 calories.

After: This depends on your workout. Check out my post-workout meal/snack post here. If you are doing endurance training, make sure to get 10-20 grams of a high quality protein within an hour (eggs, milk, whey). If you are doing something that is more focused on endurance, replenish your glycogen stores with 40-60 grams of carbohydrate within an hour (baked potato, small plate of pasta, Gatorade). The need to replenish your glycogen is most important for athletes training for marathons or other big events. Endurance training also fatigues the muscle, so I still think about 10 grams of protein is also a good idea, although not really necessary if you aren’t training for a big event or really trying to build muscle. More specifically, branched chain amino acids (BCAA) found in whey, milk, and eggs, in amounts up to 12 grams, have been shown to be beneficial for muscles (less breakdown, more building, less soreness).

Great food: Quinoa! It has a perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein. Did I mention it’s a complete protein?Fueling for Exercise; Q & A 8

Photo source

And of course, re-hydrate! If you weigh yourself before a workout, and then after a workout, replace 16-14 ounces of fluid per pound lost (any weight loss is from sweat, not fat).Fueling for Exercise; Q & A 9Question #3

Karen @ Fitness is a Journey Not a Destination; I would love to hear your thoughts on post-workout meals as well. I’ve heard that you should consume protein within an hour of a strength training workout. What about cardio, yoga or pilates?

Diana : Wondering if I should be squeezing in a little protein within an hour of working out, though I’m no athlete or anything.

So, is it only muscle builders who benefit form protein after a workout?Fueling for Exercise; Q & A 10Answer

These are great questions, and there isn’t really much information available about fueling after a pilates or yoga workout, but having done both before, I would consider them like a strength training exercise. Protein is good, in amounts from 10-20 grams, after any workout, in my opinion. That being said, if you forget to consume protein after one of these workouts, it’s not going to harm you. But by consuming protein right after these workouts you are simply setting your muscles up for good repair and damage prevention, by feeding them with fuel in the form of amino acids (preferably Brabched Chain Amino Acids).

Question #4

Mari: Do you think a small box of raisins is okay (before my morning workout)? 45 Calories


I would suggest a morning snack of 100-150 calories. Even if you’re trying to cut weight, you’re workout will be much more efficient and effective when you have glucose for energy, thus you will burn more calories! 100 calories before your workout will be beneficial, just subtract 100 calories from your breakfast afterwards.

The goal is to NOT overcompensate AFTER your workout, by “rewarding” yourself with sweets. Check out this blog post about why working out sometimes doesn’t mean weight loss.

Overall Bottom Line For All Questions Above
For any workout you don’t want to be overly full, or have an empty stomach. You must work at figuring out a good eating pattern that works best for you. As for post-workout routines, supplying protein and carbohydrates is important, but mostly for those who are training for a big event, working out twice a day, or who have specific workout goals (muscle gain, increased glycogen storage capacity, maybe even weight loss). Most of you are probably fine with just a light snack that includes some carbohydrates and some protein, sometime after your workout.

A nice smoothie with protein and carbohydrates would be a good idea.

Or a lower fat/lower fiber snack bar (fat and fiber will impede the absorption of the carbohydrate, so make it a lower fat/fiber snack if you plan on working out hard the same day or early the following day. A little fat and fiber is ok).Fueling for Exercise; Q & A 11Or some yogurt and berries (not too many berries though, lots of fiber in those babies. Try 1/4 cup).Fueling for Exercise; Q & A 12Question # 5

Faith, Food, and Fitness asked; what do you usually eat before a run? im curious! and how much protein do you consume in one day?

I don’t run, I use the elliptical, speed walk on the treadmill, or do pilates or yoga. Running hurts my ankles, and gives me plantar warts of the bottom of my feet (sorry, gross). But before I do my 35 minute cardio routine, I eat a bowl of oats and a scoop of peanut butter and pumpkin (or frozen berries), and a cup of half regular/half decaf coffee. I workout about 30-45 minutes after my breakfast. If I was running, I would eat half this amount (below is about 300 calories). Running entails for bouncing up and down, so my stomach wouldn’t handle this much food.Fueling for Exercise; Q & A 13How much protein do I consume each day? A RANDOM guess would be about 60-80 grams. This is about 1.3-1.7 grams/kg body weight (the recommendation for sedentary person is .8 g/kg body weight, and I would never suggest going over 2 g/kg body weight)

My Protein Sources

~3-4 T peanut butter or almond butter
~4-5 ounces lean protein (sometimes fatty steak and burgers!)
~ 1-2 ounces cheese
~2-3 cups yogurt or milk or kefir
~4-5 ounces whole grain

Coming Up Tomorrow

Stay tuned for my Biggest Loser review (did you watch last night?!) and another new dinner!
Have a great Hump Day everyone.

Health & Food

Fueling For Your Workout

Hello everyone! I hope you all had great long weekends (I’m jealous of those of you who didn’t work yesterday, but I guess I’m happy for you!).

Updates since last time
– Nick and I began to look at houses this weekend. I am still not full time, therefore it’s going to be tough to find a house we both love, within our price range, but so far we’re happy with our possibilities!

– I made some fun new foods over the weekend, which I’ll be sharing with you in the coming weeks. Get excited

Random Nutrition and Health Tidbit
Pre-workout meal/snack

  • Caffeine has a potentially helpful effect, if consumed in moderation (1-2 cups) before a workout. Personally, I consume 2 cups of coffee before my morning workout! This ends up being about 100 mg caffeine (I use half decaf, half regular). Remember, it takes 30 minutes for caffeine to kick in.Fueling For Your Workout 15
  • Do you workout early in the morning? Consume something small to get your blood sugar levels up. Even an apple, a small glass of OJ, an orange, or a pomegranate would be fine. Other options include a small yogurt, half a banana, or half of a snack bar (Ex: Soyjoy, Mojo, Nature Valley).Fueling For Your Workout 16Fueling For Your Workout 17
  • Do you workout in the afternoon? Eat larger meals when you have at least 4 hours before workout. Use this time to incorporate some fat and fiber into your diet. Fat and fiber are both necessary in the diet, but are meal components that you don’t want to eat right before a workout. So when you have plenty of time before your workout, focus on whole grains and healthy fats (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds)

The meal below has whole grain rice, and about 3 ounces of high fiber/protein tofu! Tofu is also rich in healthy fats.Fueling For Your Workout 18

  • Eat smaller, but substantial meals/snacks when you have 2-3 hours before a workout. During this meal, or large snack, you can incorporate fiber and fat, but some people may be able to handle more than others. For example; I can easily consume a spoon full of peanut butter with some oats an hour or so before a workout, but that’s because I know my body metabolizes food very fast, and it won’t be sitting in my stomach still when I work out. Sometimes you just need to practice some eating strategies in order to fully understand what you can and cannot handle before a workout.
  • Your pre-workout meal also depends on the type of workout. For example; on days that I work my arms, I can eat just about anything before I workout, as I am not doing much bouncing up and down. On days that I do the elliptical, I can still handle a good amount of food prior to my workout, but on days that I am running on the treadmill (bouncing up and down) I can’t eat much before I workout.
  • Be sure to remain hydrated throughout the day. The basic recommendation is to consume the amount of ounces as your body weight (in pounds) divided by two.
  • Electrolytes from sports drinks may be necessary if a) you workout longer than 90 minutes b) you are a heavy sweater, or c) you are working out in hot and humid conditions.
  • Vegetarian? Here is a great article for vegetarian athletes, from Today’s Dietitian Magazine.
  • Running a marathon? Some of the rules above can apply, but the general recommendation is to practice your diet regimen several times before you race. Get to know which foods are likely to cause trouble, and which foods are likely to help you. In general I’ve found that you should consume about 8-9 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight (there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate) during the 24-48 hours before the race.

Question: If I were to do another post on workout meals, what else would you like to know? What are some of your favorite pre-workout meals/snacks?

New Eats
What should you do when you don’t like a product that you purchased? Throw it away? Nope! Make something with it, that does taste good! I really didn’t like this multi grain hot cereal from Hodgson Mill, but there was a recipe on the back of the box for “Fiber Muffins”, which I thought sounded pretty gross, but worth a try. Couldn’t they have come up with a better name??

The recipe is here. I modified it in many ways, since I didn’t have some of the ingredients it called for, and because I’m obsessed with modifying recipes.

Whole wheat flour instead of white flour

2 T almond butter instead of 1 cup shredded carrots and 1 cup apples
(I didn’t have carrots, and I didn’t want to waste any apples!)

1/2 cup soy milk instead of 2% milk/skim

1/4 cup Smart Balance oil instead of regular vegetable oil (more ALA fats!)

They were so good, I had to have a bite right away…..Fueling For Your Workout 19This gives you an idea of how big the muffins were (not very).Fueling For Your Workout 20

The original yield on the recipe was 12 muffins, which would have been 275 calories each. I decided to double my yield, and divide those calories in half. I made 23 muffins.

275 calories vs. 145 calories
See the difference in size? I’m much more likely to eat the smaller muffin as a snack, heated up with some butter on top.Fueling For Your Workout 21

2 grams fiber
7 grams fat
~217 mg Omega-3 (Essential Omega-3, ALA)

Coming Up
Stay tuned for my next post, which will include a new dinner for my 2010 cookbook, and of course my Biggest Loser Review! I have also received some specific requests for different topics, including my thoughts on the Raw Food Diet. Any requests I receive I will eventually get to, but maybe not right away. It’s all coming!
Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

Health & Food

Cattiatore, Vitamin D, and Massive Carrot Cake

We’re half way through the week!

Here are some updates since last time:

– I was asked to do another segment for NBC4 on Monday. This time I got to answer some questions about the Taco Bell Drive Thru diet. I actually went through and re-looked at many of your comments on my blog from this post, and got some great insight for creative answers. Of course the interview was about 30 minutes, but with the lack of time I only got about a 30 second sound-bite. Lovely.

– Nick and I celebrated his birthday on Monday, even though his birthday was really yesterday. Yeah, he played poker on Tuesday like he always does, so we celebrated a day early (recap below!).

Dinner #3; Chicken Cattiatore

The other night my mom and I decided to make chicken cattiatore, our own way.

(Serves 4)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 9 ounces total)
1 cup green and red pepper
1 cup mushroom
1 can diced tomato
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
Salt, pepper, garlic, and dried basil
** Use as little or as much spice as you want. We went heavy on the garlic and basil**

Get the oil hot on a skillet, then add the chicken and cook until not longer pink inside (about 4 minutes on each side). Take the chicken off the skillet and add the full cans of tomatoes and tomato paste. Add about 2/3 cup of water. Add all the spices. Last, add the chicken and cover the chicken with all the yummy sauce. Let simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

(this is if the entire recipe is divided into 4 servings, and therefore this is for 1 serving)

We had sweet potatoes that needed consumed, therefore on this particular night we filled our plates half way full with the chicken cattiatore, and then the other half was filled with our sweet potato (starchy vegetable) and Nick had some broccoli (he has a healthy obsession with it).Cattiatore, Vitamin D, and Massive Carrot Cake 23Possible Modifications

  • Serve over brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
  • Use a regular potato and dress it up with the chicken cattiatore (put the cattiatore on top)
  • Use any other non-starchy vegetable in the chicken cattiatore recipe, other than the ones we used.
  • Instead of water, use rice vinegar!
  • Use low sodium varieties of the canned tomatoes (oops, I didn’t!)
  • Add other spices, such as cinnamon. Sound strange? I did this once and it was delicious.

Other Uses
This recipe will make at least 4 large servings. Use the leftovers for next day’s lunch or dinner!

Supplement Update

I recently realized that I was forcing myself to take my Viactiv supplement everyday, whereas I used to look forward to taking it. I decided I have become sick of their taste, so I found some new Vitamin D supplements at Trader Joes!

These have 1000 IU vitaminD, compared to the Viactiv, which have 500 IU. The Viactiv also have calcium, which is missing from the TJ supplements, but I get plenty of calcium so I’m not worried. These were cheap, considering you get 6 months worth. I would even argue that you could take these every other day (The Daily Value is 400 IU, but the upper limit is 2000 IU, although I’ve read that even up to 20,000 is probably ok!)

Click here for more information on Vitamin D and supplements.

Monday Night’s Celebration Dinner

Buffalo Style Pizza!
(notice the crust stuck to the pan, oops, forgot to put down flour first! This was whole wheat pizza crust. It was delicious, and even Nick loved it.)Cattiatore, Vitamin D, and Massive Carrot Cake 24Carrot Cake Cattiatore, Vitamin D, and Massive Carrot Cake 25

This cake was HUGE, in case you can’t tell. I‘d be willing to bet this one piece had about 1000 calories, if not more. We ate it all, except for most of the icing on this side (below), as there was plenty of icing embedded in between the layers!Cattiatore, Vitamin D, and Massive Carrot Cake 26Yes, I did eat tons of wheat on Monday, clearly. We also each had a beer  I woke up with a stomachache, and I know it wasn’t because I ate too much, as I did not go too overboard. I really think my body was reacting to all the wheat, which is not surprising.

Health & Food

Reduced Fat, Or Regular?

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Here are some updates since last time:

– We saw Avatar! Nick and I had not been to the movies (we figured out) in over a year. We felt like old people who had just crawled out from under a cave. We bought snacks (yeah, I had a small popcorn) and even with our 25 dollar gift card we still paid 8 dollars of our own money!! No wonder we never go to the movies. Either way, the movie was fantastic. It was long, but very good.

– Nick’s birthday is tomorrow, but we are celebrating tonight with a buffalo style pizza and carrot cake. I’m making the pizza, but I bought the carrot cake from the bakery across the street. I didn’t want a full cake in the apartment, so I just bought a piece for us to share (it’s HUGE though, so it may as well be an entire cake!). We are then continuing the celebration this weekend, with his family. Lots of birthday cake this month!

Gina’s Random Nutrition and Health Tidbit
Peanut Butter; Reduced Fat vs. Regular

  • Trying to maintain a healthy weight? Trying to be healthier in general? Buy the reduced fat peanut butter! Or, maybe not. Many clients tell me that they have switched to reduced fat peanut butter in an effort to loose weight or just be healthier. Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts for both kinds:

Regular, JIF, CreamyReduced Fat, Or Regular? 28
Reduced Fat, JIF, CreamyReduced Fat, Or Regular? 29

  • If you look at the two of these, what do you notice? The reduced fat has the same amount of calories, and it’s really caloriesthat you need to watch when attempting to lose/maintain weight, right? Also the reduced fat PB has about 4 grams less fat. But does that make it better? Peanuts contain healthy polyunsaturated fats, so in my opinion the 4 grams less fat isn’t so great. The reduced fat peanut butter has only .5 grams less saturated fat, which is actually the fat we want to stay away from. They both have partially hydrogenated oils, which is why I generally choose natural peanut butter.

JIF, All NaturalReduced Fat, Or Regular? 30

  • Notice anything else about the reduced fat vs. the regular PB?The reduced fat has more carbohydrates and sugar. Both sugar and carbohydrates aren’t going to help anyone with their weight loss/maintenance efforts, nor will they help anyone trying to get healthier.
  • Oh yeah, one more thing, check out the sodium! There is more sodium (100 mg more) in the reduced fat peanut butter, HA! In my opinion, for a healthy diet, and for healthy weight control efforts, the regular peanut butter is superior to the reduced fat. And, it tastes better Reduced Fat, Or Regular? 31

The above pictures were from the JIF website

Here is my favorite peanut butter.

Smart Balance came out with a “Great New Tasting!” peanut butter. It no longer tastes and smells like fish! This peanut butter is all natural, and has 20% of the Daily Value of Omega-3 (in the form of ALA) fats.

Coming Up

First I’d like to announce a Tea Exchange being organized by Special K. If you are a tea lover, check it out!

Today I am working, then planning our evening of fun tonight. Basically by fun I mean lots of yummy birthday food, and The Bachelor :). Nick loves the show. How could he not? There are a bunch of “hot” girls running around half-naked all the time. Remember to tell your spouse that if they refuse to watch the show, it may help.
Stay tuned for my next post, which will include a new dinner, a new supplement, and of course some pictures of tonight’s delicious eats!
Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

Health & Food

Dietary Guidelines and Egged Spaghetti Squash

Happy Weekend everyone!

Updates since last time:
– I made a snow angel on Thursday night, as Nick and I were walking back from our treacherous trip to the grocery store.
– Nick and I were up really late on Thursday because he had a migraine (the first one he’s had since I met him 5 years ago) and we figured out it was from the bleach he used to clean our shower!
– I slipped a bit on one of my 2010 goals, but I got right back up the next day, and I’m not beating myself up over it. No biggie. I can, and will, still succeed!

Nutrition and Health Update

Do you know what this year is? It’s five years after the last Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released! What does that mean? Well this year they are releasing the new ones (they are updated every five years).

(The picture below is just an example of another food guide pyramid, not the one used for the Dietary Guidelines. I just thought it was pretty!)Dietary Guidelines and Egged Spaghetti Squash 33The Dietary Guidelines are a combination of recommendations for healthy Americans to follow, which are based off of scientific evidence, and are meant to help promote health and prevent disease. The Dietary Guidelines are what are used to create They also include the latest evidence for fitness recommendations.

Anyone is allowed to publicly comment about the Dietary Guidelines (either positive or negative comments). Many Americans believe the guidelines are biased and that the food and pharmaceutical industries are too involved in the creation of the guidelines. As quoted in Today’s Dietitian, “The American Dietetic Association would like more focus on food-based recommendations and eating patterns over supplements and nutrients”. Another criticism is that 5 years is not enough time for good, thorough research. Some say it should be extended to every 10 years.

The biggest problem with the dietary guidelines is that there is so much information, and people don’t know how to use it. They get overwhelmed, and evidence shows that Americans don’t even understand how to use the correctly (which was created to help make the dietary guidelines easier to follow!). Also, people don’t realize that these are goals that should be established gradually. You will burn out if you try to go from a fast food diet, to a Dietary Guidelines-based diet over night, it’s just not feasible.

It is estimated that only 3% of Americans follow the dietary guidelines. If you want to start following the Dietary Guidelines take baby steps. Also, meet with a dietitian to go over the guidelines and get a better understanding of how they pertain to you, and your personal needs and lifestyle.

Source: Today’s Dietitian, December, 2009

Question: What are your thoughts about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans? Personally I like them, but I do think 10 years worth of research would make for a much reliable and accurate list of recommendations. I also think that if America is going to work hard to put out these guidelines, they need to work equally as hard to make our society healthier (aka, do something about all the cheap and unhealthy food that gets served at restaurants and fast food restaurants, and all the high sodium and high sugar processed crap that is so easy to access at grocery stores and convenient stores!).

New Dinner
I made my second dinner for my 2010 cookbook. Check it out!

Recipe #2 Egged Spaghetti Squash

(makes 1 serving. Double or triple if desired)

Spaghetti squash (1-2 cups)
1/2 cup other vegetable
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
1 egg
1 dollop of plain Greek yogurt
garlic and pepperDietary Guidelines and Egged Spaghetti Squash 34My Rating: 7 out of 10
This was really good, but sort of bland. If I make this again, I will add a tiny bit of salt (1/2 t) and maybe some red pepper flakes.Dietary Guidelines and Egged Spaghetti Squash 35Possible Modifications
Use whole wheat spaghetti
Use light sour cream
Add any other vegetable you choose
Add different/more spices

The following nutrition facts are an estimate, and they will depend on which products you use (such as low sodium spaghetti sauce vs. regular) , and whether you add more or less vegetables!

1 servingDietary Guidelines and Egged Spaghetti Squash 36PLUS
– 225 grams of Omega-3 (I use Omega-3 enriched eggs)

– 2 servings of vegetable

Coming Up
Today I am doing a major grocery shopping trip and then tonight Nick and I are going to see Avatar! Stay tuned for my next post, which will contain another “Random Nutrition and Health Tidbit” about reduced fat vs. regular peanut butter, and a fun new gluten free product!

Health & Food

Biggest Loser Review, and Dinner #1!

Good morning! I hope everyone is having a great week.

Here are some updates since last time:

– I got a call on Tuesday, randomly, and was asked to do a segment for NBC4 on healthy snacking, and making realistic nutrition goals in the new year. I will hopefully be able to post the clip soon.

– I realized that you are very interested in meals and snacks that center around exercise. Therefore I will be doing another “Nutrition Tidbit” on pre-workout meals/snacks sometime soon.

– I updated my “About Me” page. You may have seen it posted yesterday (and thank you for the sweet comments, they meant so much to me). If not, you can look at it now, or whenever you want, I just thought I’d let you know!

Last Friday I made my first dinner for my 2010 cookbook! As I explained in my post (see link to the left) I will be creating two new dinners each week. They will be simple, healthy dinners for busy parents, or just busy people! As I make these dinners I will be compiling a list of about 30-4o ingredients to keep in your house at all times, which can be used to make these meals. I hope to have a stock-pile of over 100 simple and healthy dinners that you can create using 30-40 ingredients (obviously not each ingredient per recipe).

Recipe #1: Curried Chicken Cheesy Mac

Pasta of any kind, or a boxed Mac and CheeseBiggest Loser Review, and Dinner #1! 38I used Annie’s 25% reduced sodium Mac and Cheese. 430 mg sodium per cup is not low, but it is low compared to other brands.Biggest Loser Review, and Dinner #1! 39Ingredients, continued…
3 ounces cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup broccoli and green beans
4 slices avocado
1 t curry powder
1 t ground pepperBiggest Loser Review, and Dinner #1! 40Instructions
After you cook the pasta, or the mac and cheese, put the chicken, vegetables, and avocado on a plate. Heat for about 2 minutes (or until desired hotness). Then add the mac and cheese on top (if you just do pasta, add the pasta, and sprinkle your favorite cheese on top). Top with curry and ground pepper, or any other spices you desire.

Nick’s rating: 8 out of 10


  • About 700 calories(if using 2 cups of the mac and cheese)
  • Almost 950 mg sodium (yikes) ** probably less if you just use pasta and cheese **
  • About 12 grams fat(including some healthy monounsaturated fat from the avocado)
  • 1 serving of vegetable

Possible Modifications

  • Use any spices you would like
  • If you prefer beef, or even tuna, those would be fine too
  • Use whole wheat pasta if you’d like
  • Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, if available
  • Add more, or different vegetables

Other Uses
The leftover mac and cheese (about 1 cup for Nick) can be used the next day for a packed lunch or lunch at home. You can add any vegetable you would like, to make it healthier.

Biggest Loser ReviewBiggest Loser Review, and Dinner #1! 41Likes
The initial weigh in was in their hometowns, in front of everyone in their city (or at least a lot of people). I think this made them feel guilty and ashamed. I truly believe that it helped give the contestants motivation. And I hope it inspired some viewers at home to become motivated as well. It’s sort of harsh, but I think whatever will help someone survive is necessary.

I loved the first challenge. I wish they would have explained the fact that riding a bike, especially a stationary bike, is much different than a 26 mile marathon. Overall, it was a heck of a workout, and a great way to jump start the season. Some of them were going faster than I would go!

I liked to see doctors on the scene. I know I’ve only been watching for one season, but until last night, I’d never seen a Biggest Loser doctor (or dietitian for that matter).

I like that Jillian and Bob provide “key pieces of advice” throughout the season. Even though the had to mention “Brita” and “Walmart”, it was still a good tip and good information about water and staying hydrated.

Of course I have to say, I hate the commercials for the stupid Biggest Loser products.

They act like the reason the contestants are getting “bigger each year” is because of the obesity epidemic. That’s not 100% true though, in my opinion. The show picks the contestants, obviously, and they are picking larger contestants each year simply to make it more dramatic and interesting.

Is it realistic to sit at a computer and input all of your calories consumed, each day? Maybe for some, but not for others. I mean, it gets old, really fast. In the real world it’s just not as easy as the show makes it out to be. The BL contestants get nice new computers, breaks in the middle of the day, and not to mention a fairly limited amount of food to input! Yeah, that’s easy. Try doing it in the real world, in the middle of your everyday hectic life, it’ll be a little different…

The weigh-ins take forever. It’s incredibly annoying. Thank goodness for Tivo.

Why is it such a feat for the “heaviest guy in BL history” to have had “the biggest first week weight loss in BL history”? Shouldn’t that cancel out the feat of being the heaviest player? I mean, there is nothing to celebrate here. I would hope the largest player looses the most weight!

Giveaway Update

Emily of The Health Nut

Coming Up
Tonight Nick is off from work, yeah! We’re planning a nice and relaxing evening. Stay tuned for my next post, which will feature information on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and a new dinner for the 2010 cookbook! Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

Entrees (Meat & Poultry)

Post Exercise Meals/Snacks

Thanks for all of your fantastic comments on my last post. It’s true, anyone on a 1250 calorie diet should be able to lose weight. I mean, that’s pretty much the lowest amount of calories you could take in, without being nutritionally depleted. It was smart of Taco Bell to take credit for Christine’s weight loss, even though we all know it wasn’t the Taco Bell food that made her lose weight.

On The News

Here I am on the news! It’s short and sweet. Someone also told me you are supposed to add rum to egg nog, not bourbon, but oh well.

Gina’s Random Nutrition and Health Tidbit
Post Exercise Meals/Snacks

I’ve learned a lot during the past few months while working with the Columbus Division 1 training center. In particular I have learned some interesting facts about what to eat after a workout. Here are some good tips:

  • If you workout hard, for 90 minutes or more, you will have depleted some serious glycogen. If you plan on working out again on that day, or the following day, you will need to replenish your glycogen stores! There is a window of 30-50 minutes after you exercise when glycogen formation is very efficient. Make sure to consume 40-50 grams of a high glycemic index food within that first 30-50 minutes (Check out some high glycemic foods here)
  • To prevent muscle soreness, and to promote muscle healing and muscle growth, try to consume 10-20 grams of protein within an hour after your workout.
  • Whey protein is best, such as from egg whites and milk, because it has branch chain amino acids (BCAA). The BCAA are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Unlike other amino acids, these three are metabolized in the muscle and used for energy.
  • Whey protein is absorbed into the body very fast, which is another reason why it’s good to consume within an hour after a workout,

Pre-Bedtime Snack

  • Casein, which is a protein found in milk and cheese, is absorbed slower. Studies suggest consuming foods with casein before bed will allow for a slow and continuous supply of protein energy to the muscles, throughout the night. Greek yogurt is a good source of casein.

Another Marketing GimmickPost Exercise Meals/Snacks 43

Have you seen the commercial for “children’s” Campbell’s soups, marketed towards parents? I saw it the other day and if you listen carefully you will hear them claim that they use “unique natural sea salt”. This is a pretty smart strategy, I must say, as I’m sure some parents will hear this and think, “Oh wow, it’s natural seas salt, it must be healthier than kosher salt!” Yeah there is a whopping 580- 880mg worth of the so-called “unique natural sea salt” in 1/2 cup, and there are two servings per can!

Bottom line: Natural sea salt is no different than kosher salt in terms of it’s absorption in the body, and it’s effect on fluid regulation and, potentially, blood pressure. Don’t be fooled!

Giveaway Updates

Andrea of Andrea’s Wellness Notes is giving away some Chobani yogurt!
Missy of Missy Mountains is giving away a hodge podge of healthy goodies!

Coming Up
Tonight is the first episode of The Biggest Loser! Anyone else watching it?? I’ll admit, I’m pretty excited. I’ll also admit, Nick and I watched the Bachelor last night. It’s entertaining, what can I say? My two favorites are no longer on the show, but one of my favorites, Ashley, did get a rose! All of Nick’s favorites got a rose; Tenley, Corrie, and Michelle (yeah, the psycho, but we voted on first impressions, and she seemed normal at first!). Anyway, my next post will have my first Biggest Loser Review of the new season, plus my first dinner for my 2010 cookbook! Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

Health & Food

Holiday Weight Managment, and a Coffee/Tea/Caffeine Update

Earlier in the year I confessed to drinking about 600-800 mg caffeine per day. My goal was to cut this in half, and so far, so good. As of now I am consuming around 300-400 mg caffeine per day, which is a huge improvement. I recently learned that the average daily consumption of caffeine in the USA is 1000 mg, so perhaps I wasn’t doing so bad after all. Yikes!

An article I recently Tweeted about made these claims regarding caffeine:

– Prolonged administration of caffeine is not associated with a significant elevation in blood pressure.Holiday Weight Managment, and a Coffee/Tea/Caffeine Update 45

– Caffeine consumption does not result in water-electrolyte imbalance (mainly a concern of athletes).

– Although the above has been shown in studies, be aware that side effects could include anxiety, jitters, inability to focus, gastrointestinal distress, insomnia, irritability, and with higher doses possible heart arrhythmia.

Source: NCSA’s Performance Training Journal, volume 8, Issue 6

Speaking of caffeine, here are some excerpts from an article found in BBC news regarding yet another possible benefit of tea and coffee!Holiday Weight Managment, and a Coffee/Tea/Caffeine Update 46Researchers looked at 18 separate studies involving nearly 500,000 people.

The analysis revealed that people who drink three or four cups of coffee or tea a day cut their risk [of diabetes, type II] by a fifth or more, say researchers.Holiday Weight Managment, and a Coffee/Tea/Caffeine Update 47 The same amount of decaffeinated coffee had an even bigger effect, lowering risk by a third.

If the findings prove true, doctors may well start advising people to put the kettle on as well as take more exercise and watch their weight, say the researchers.

When the authors combined and analyzed the data, they found that each additional cup of coffee consumed in a day cut diabetes risk by 7%.

Compounds in coffee and tea – including magnesium and antioxidants known as lignans or chlorogenic [which have been shown to slow down the release of glucose into the blood after a meal] acids – may be involved.

NBC4, Columbus News Segment

If you don’t already know, I’m the local NBC4 news “Health and Nutrition Expert”. I got lucky because my friend is the producer of the show  For the month of December I was asked to do a segment on “how to maintain your weight over the holidays”. Sorry there isn’t a clip of my news segment, but if you want to see my last one (about vitamin D) look on the side bar, I added it! Here are some of the points I made:

1) Increase your exercise, even just a little. Add 5-10 minutes to your normal routine, or include some cross training and/or intervals. If you don’t workout, start walking around the block after dinner, or lifting small weights to build a bit of muscle and make up for those extra calories inevitably consumed.

2) If you have a party to go to at night, remember it’s not good to skip meals during the day (many people do this so they can “enjoy” the party and eat whatever they want). This is a bad idea because your metabolism slows down and you usually end up eating a lot more than you should, because you’re so hungry! Just eat normally throughout the day and don’t go to the party overly hungry.

3) Plan ahead. Make a goal of a specific number of treats to allow yourself at any holiday party. I like the goal of 2 or less treats, which includes alcoholic beverages. Another treat might be a piece of fudge or 2 small cookies. If you plan ahead, you are more likely to stick to your weight management goals.

4) Modify traditional, higher calorie holiday foods/drinks. Check out the eggnog I made on camera here. It’s not me, just the recipe. Leave a fun comment if you feel like it!


I hope everyone has a fun week ahead of them! I have a tiny bit more shopping and a lot more wrapping, plus a lot of actual work to do before Thursday. Nick and I got a lot done this weekend, but I feel like the “to do” list is never ending. Alright, deeeeep breaths…in….out….. Off I go! Pepperoni bread and my new favorite iPhone application coming up on my next post. Everyone, have a great Monday and thanks for reading!