Sneaking In More Fruit with Yogurt

It’s been a hectic month around here. While I haven’t had much time to write about food and enjoying it, I have been doing in real life. In fact I have a new breakfast routine that has been working for me as it’s a delicious healthy option that takes only a few minutes to enjoy. I’ve been having some Greek yogurt with fruit. I love the tangy taste of the yogurt mixed with some sweet mango or pineapple.

It’s a change for me. I’ve never been a huge fan of yogurt growing up. In fact the only time I’ve consistently eaten yogurt and enjoyed it was when I was pregnant. I used to get some lowfat vanilla yogurt and mix that with Kashi GoLean Crunch. It was so quick and simple and it would tide me over until lunch most days. As soon as I had my baby girl, I became sporadic again.

When we visited our friends last month they made us big breakfasts and one option was Greek yogurt and fruit. They had peaches which were the perfect combination in my opinion and as soon as we got home I stocked up.

What’s So Good About Greek Yogurt? 

The great thing about this breakfast is that I get some protein in along with fruit and it’s a grab and go option.

For those not familiar with Greek yogurt, US News recapped some of its advantages over the more common yogurt many people are familiar with.

 In roughly the same amount of calories, it can pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half. Those are “two things dietitians love,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian and author of The Flexitarian Diet. “For someone who wants the creamier texture, a little bit of a protein edge, and a sugar decrease, going Greek is definitely not all hype.”

That’s not to say that regular yogurt is a bad choice, it isn’t. However if you want to get the most bang for your buck you may want to swap out your yogurt selection. In fact that same article pointed out that in a typical serving you can get the same amount of protein as eating 2-3 oz of lean meat. Just as a heads up though, make sure that you get a low fat option with the Greek yogurt.

Thoughts on Healthy Breakfast Options

How about you? What is you regular breakfast like? How do you include fruit in your daily diet?

Photo Credit: lesley zellers

Setting the Table for Success and Weight Loss

drinking glasses sizes

One of our goals as a family is to eat healthier and we’ve been adjusting our eating habits to make it easier for ourselves. I used tips from Mindless Eating to make easy changes that have big effects over time.

One of the changes we made were with table settings and believe it or not it’s made a difference. We’re eating more vegetables with our meals and drinking less calories.

You Are What You Drink

drinking glasses sizes

One trick to drinking more or less is what type of glass you serve it in. In several studies researchers found that people over and underestimated the amount they consumed based on the size and shape of their drinking glasses – from students to professional bartenders (whose job is about measuring drinks).

So if you’re trying to drink less of those high calorie drinks, getting a tall, skinny glass can be the way to go. However using a short, wide glass for drinks like water can help you to drink more of the good stuff.

What Color (and Size) is Your Plate?

For many people hearing that the size of your plate makes you eat more or less is not news. When you’re filling your plate, you’re estimating the proper potion based on the plate. It’s known as Delboeuf illusion and it can be powerful.

Besides the size of your dinnerware, you need to consider the color of your dishes. Wansink and his team went ahead to see how the contrast between the colors of the plates and food had an effect.

To test the color contrast effect, Wansink and van Ittersum set up a study during a college reunion in upstate New York. Sixty party attendees were split up and directed to buffets serving pasta with either tomato or Alfredo sauce. In line they were randomly handed either red or white plates. After serving themselves, their portion sizes were weighed using hidden scales.

What did the researchers find this time around? The results confirmed their hypothesis: participants who had low contrast between their food and the plates they served themselves on, for example pasta with Alfredo sauce on a white plate or pasta with tomato sauce on a red plate, served themselves 22% – or 32 grams – more pasta than participants with high contrast between their food and the plate they served themselves on (i.e. pasta with tomato sauce on a white plate or pasta with Alfredo sauce on a red plate).

If you eat at home often, check out your plates, not only for their size, but also their color. You may want to make a swap when you serve your meals.


Thoughts on Setting the Table

I’d love to hear from you about what has worked for you. How do you set the table for your family? What has helped you to make better choices?

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Meal Planning with CSAs

local produce market

It’s spring and I’m anxious about next week. It’s because The Produce Box starts deliveries for this season and we signed up for the Carolina Grown deliveries starting next week as well.

Why am I scrutinizing the menus? It’s because I’m hoping to have a couple weeks of practice before doing a food challenge in May. Our plan is to have the local food deliveries cover 80% of our meals and to keep our food expenses $350 or under (including eating out) for the entire month.

Eating More Vegetarian Meals

Right off the bat, my plan is to cook more vegetarian meals during the week. (My husband is in charge of cooking on weekends.) Besides saving money, this will also allow us to expand our cooking skills. We’ll have to find ways to main the flavor of some of our favorite dishes without relying on meat.

I’ll be pulling out a couple of my cookbooks and trying out a few things. Right now I’m looking at relying on: local produce market

  • How to Cook Everything – Mark Bittman
  • Jamie’s Food Revolution- Jamie Oliver
Both are focus on healthy meals that happen to having many vegetarian dishes. Along with using the CSA deliveries, I’ll fill in any gaps with purposeful grocery trips that allow us to stay on target for our budget.
April will be a test run to see how we can do and in May we’ll fine tune it and have a month long challenge with it. Please submit your ideas and recipes; I’d love to try them out either this month or next. Who know, maybe we learn to cook some of our favorite dishes that we usually go out for and instead stay at home. Let’s hope!

Thoughts on Meal Planning

How do you meal plan for your family? What has worked best for you and your family’s wallet and health?

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Can We Really Trust Celebrity Chefs?

Paula Deen – Is Her Health Our Business?

The food community is exploding this week over the news that Paula Deen, the host of numerous Food Network shows over the last decade, had been diagnosed with diabetes.

Since her previously undisclosed diagnosis three years ago, she has continued to host shows like Paula’s Home Cooking, showing us how to make Southern food, and all the grease and goodness that comes with it.

Supporters and critics are fighting the word war on what we’re to make of this news:

  • Defenders argue that Paula’s health is none of our business, and Paula herself advocates “moderation” as the solution.
  • Critics say that a public figure in the food arena should have no health secrets, and that her ethics and financial motives are sketchy at best, calling her a hypocrite and a sell-out.

Paula’s thoughts on “moderation” sound more like a punt of the difficult questions being put to her rather than something thoughtful and actionable.

Endorsements and Responsibilities

Adding fuel to the fire, Deen’s new relationship with the drug maker Novo Nordisk is raising a lot of eyebrows and calls for answers about how exactly she stands to make money from this announcement.

While analogies are less than perfect, consider one of mine. As an architect, suppose I really like the benefits of using Chinese drywall, since it’s cheaper and offers the same performance as regular drywall. Now suppose that I become sick and my home deteriorates as a result of using this drywall myself, as many homes did in Florida and other states in the last few years.

The link between Chinese drywall and problems is public information, but instead of acknowledging it on my TV show, I continue to promote its benefits, even as my own house falls apart. You might say that as a conscientious consumer, you should have done your own research and known better. You might also say that, as a professional, I should not have recommended a product I knew to be harmful, and I would say you would be right.

Consider another analogy that may be closer to home, considering society’s views on smoking. Let’s say that the Travel Channel had a show about cigars, with the host traveling the world looking for and smoking the best cigars he could find. What would happen if we suddenly found out that the host was diagnosed with mouth or lung cancer more than a year ago and was dying? Would you continue to watch the show? Would you continue smoking cigars? Buying his books?

I’m all for personal responsibility, but we can’t be everything to everyone. We rely on the expertise of others to guide us in making certain decisions, like how to prepare our food and what drywall to use. As a celebrity chef, Paula is a role model to people everywhere who are just looking for something to put on their table. Whether she likes it or not, people emulate her. She also stands to make money from the way she has branded herself, which is as a “Southern” chef.

Thoughts on Celebrity Chef Endorsements

What message does her deliberate withdrawal of food-related information from her followers speak about who she is, what she believes in, and how we should eat? Does she truly believe in what she does or was she hiding her illness just to continue profiting from the shows that made her famous?

I leave you with the question that started this all–can we really trust celebrity chefs to give us the best information and their honest opinions?

(Photo credit)

Making Breakfast Your Meal

enjoy a big breakfast

When I was pregnant I made a real effort to eating breakfast as part of my routine. Besides the benefits for myself, having a solid breakfast was good for the baby. It was a good habit to develop and I work hard to keep it as I’m balancing life with our baby girl.

I think my biggest problem before was finding a quick breakfast that could satisfy my hunger without taking a lot of time to make. I might have 20 minutes in the morning to get something to eat and admittingly making breakfast just doesn’t seem that appealing (the coffee hasn’t energized me yet).

Breakfast on the Weekdays enjoy a big breakfast

I’m happy to say I’ve found a few options for my mornings. They are quick (10 minutes or less) and they taste good, an important factor for me. Here are my typical breakfast choices:

  • Low fat yogurt with Kashi Go Lean
  • Oatmeal
  • Leftovers from Dinner
  • Cheese Danish

Yes the danish wasn’t a healthy option, but come on – it’s good 🙂 Fortunately I mainly ate the first 3 choices.

Since I know we all have different tastes, some are more options if you’re pressed for time, but want a healthy breakfast:

  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter
  • Hard boiled egg and banana
  • Wholegrain English muffin with egg and cheese
  • Bran muffin
  • Bowl of cereal with some fruit included
Find something that works for you. You’re more likely to have breakfast if it’s something you enjoy. Play around and see what works best.

Weekend Breakfast

Since we’re not in a rush on the weekends, we tend to relax and make a big breakfast. Some of our favorites include:

  • Omelet with bacon or sausage on the side along with toast and butter
  • Waffles with bacon or sausage on the side
  • Cinnamon pancakes with some bacon

None of our meals are fancy, but they certainly are filling. My husband is our family barista and prepares lattes and cappuccinos. I’ll sometimes have the baby in her swing watching- the smells, sounds, and actions are entertaining to her and they keep her from fussing. We then just sit down and enjoy the meal all together.

If you can’t get together regularly for a family dinner, then consider having a weekend family breakfast routine where you sit around the table and just talk with one another – no television or distractions.

Thoughts on Breakfast

How many of you eat breakfast regularly? What’s your go to meal in a crunch? What do you like to eat when you have some time to spare?

Photo Credit: oosp