Archive for June, 2012
Ditch the refined and processed sugars for a much healthier alternative that will still satisfy your sweet tooth. You’ll soon learn that there are plenty of healthy forms of sugar for you to include in your diet!
Agave Nectar has a low glycemic index, allowing for sweetness without the negative side effects of sugar. Agave plants have Saponins, which has anti-inflammatory, immune system-boosting properties, even anti-microbial capability. Agave plants also have Fructans in it, which is believed to help lower cholesterol. Agave plants also have Inulin, which is a carbohydrate that many scientists believe helps with weight loss.
Barley Malt comes from sprouted barley that is fermented, and has a sweet (about half as sweet as white sugar) and has a “malt” flavor.
Black Strap Molasses
Blackstrap Molasses is a sweetener that has many health benefits associated with it. Blackstrap Molasses comes from the process of refining sugar cane into white (table) sugar. Basically, all of the healthy stuff that’s no longer in white sugar, is in the blackstrap molasses. This sweetener has high amounts of manganese, copper, iron, and calcium.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown Rice Syrup comes from soaking or cooking brown rice with enzymes to break down the starches into a sweet syrup.
Date sugar comes from dried dates that have been ground into a powder. Date sugar doesn’t really melt or dissolve well into recipes, but still can be used in many recipes – or even as a sweet garnish.
If you are in the mood for something sweet, you can always eat some delicious fresh fruit! You will satisfy your sweet tooth while enjoying the nutrients and fiber associated with the fruit(s) you are enjoying.
The sap coming from the maple trees are boiled down to make Maple Syrup. This sugar is significantly less processed compared to other sugars, and contains trace amounts of nutrients. I love Maple Syrup since it’s so full of flavor, but it’s used in moderation since it’s fairly high in calories.
Raw honey isn’t processed, but it is minimally filtered. In it’s pure and raw state still in tact, you will be able to enjoy the maximum amount of honey’s natural antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and vital phytonutrients, where all the nutrients are still preserved.
Stevia is a herb that is sweeter than refined sugar but it’s calorie free and has no negative effect on the body’s production of insulin.
Xylitol is derived from fruits and vegetables (not the same thing as fructose). Most other forms of sugars are six-carbon sugars, which cause bacterial and fungi overgrowth. Xylitol, however, is a five-carbon sugar, making it an anti-microbial, which prevents the growth of bacteria.
Even though there are many different types of healthy sugars available to you, sugar should still be consumed in moderation. Yes, you need sugar (from natural sources), but it’s not the only thing your body needs. Enjoy in moderation, just like anything else.
What’s for breakfast?
I don’t have cold cereal for breakfast too often, but when I do, I prefer to have a healthy – and tasty! – option.
Why Barbara’s Shredded Wheat Cereal?
I think we’ve all had shredded wheat cereal at one point or another. Most brands will tout their “Whole Grain” status, yet they fail to mention how many additional ingredients (like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives like BHT) they have added to convince you to buy and eat their product.
Barbara’s doesn’t need to add anything extra to their cereal to convince you to buy their product. The product sells itself from the quality ingredients used and the way they make their shredded wheat.
They steam whole wheat berries, shredding them and lightly baking them for a naturally sweet and hearty high-fiber breakfast. No added sugar or sodium — or anything else!
Amount per serving: 2 biscuits
Ingredients: 100% whole wheat (nothing else!)
Adding to Your Shredded Wheat Cereal
I think that this cereal tastes great on its own, but I love to mix things up a bit too. Next time you enjoy some shredded wheat cereal, try adding some raw honey or fresh berries for added sweetness!
Image Source: Barbara’s Shredded Wheat Cereal
Benefits of Exercising At Work
If you exercise (and eat healthy), you’ll know that exercising actually increases your energy rather than diminishes it. Studies have shown that those who exercise have additional energy and cognitive function – both valuable qualities to have while on the job.
Many of us sit all day at a desk job – myself included! – and may need a little bit of additional exercise throughout the day to help wake us up! Additional benefits include getting the blood flowing, boost your metabolism, and aide with overall fat burn. Sounds like a win-win for you and your employer!
Here are some quick exercises where you can easily burn some extra calories throughout the day while still getting your job done at work.
Bike to Work
If you live close enough, why not ride your bike to work? You’ll exercise your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles on your way to work – which is more than you’ll ever exercise while you drive a car to work.
Don’t want to sweat before work? I don’t blame you! I suggest leisurely riding your bike to work, so you don’t work up too much of a sweat, or you can just consider bringing in a change of clothes for when you arrive to work.
While sitting at your desk all day, you can try using an exercise ball to sit in, rather than a chair. By sitting on an exercise ball, you’ll strengthen your abdominal and back muscles and have improved posture. It’s an easy move that will help burn extra calories, without even realizing it!
You can find plenty of ways to get some extra walking in throughout the day. Do you have multiple printers in your office? Every time you need to print something, make sure to print your work at a location that is further away from you. What about parking your car at the far end of the parking lot? If it’s decent weather outside, you can also just take a walk around the building during a break or during your lunch. You’d be surprised how much every little bit of extra walking really adds up in your overall calorie burn for the day!
Oh. My. Gosh. The stairs are a fantastic way to burn some extra calories throughout the day! I work in a three story office building, so I choose to use the stairs – rather than the elevator – every chance I get! I currently sit on the third floor, so I use the stairs to get to the break room and the restrooms on the first floor! I definitely get to feel those muscles burn all throughout the day.
Going up and down the stairs targets your glutes and hamstring muscle groups, and I suggest taking advantage of any break that you are allowed by going up and down the stairs at your office. You only need to do this for 5 minutes at a time, for may two or three times throughout the day. I have learned that you may need to limit the intensity of this workout, since you don’t want to sweat too much – you are still at work, after all.
A lot of us sit all day long in front of a computer – so when you are able to, try to find time to stand up in your cubicle or office. You burn about 50% more calories by just standing up, compared to sitting down. Even if you can only stand for a couple of hours each work day, the extra calorie burn will definitely add up in the long run (plus, it helps you stay more alert!).
You don’t need coffee – you just need to exercise a little! Don’t believe me? Just try these exercise just once and you’ll know what I mean!
Americans spend more money on fast food than on books, newspapers, magazines, music, and movies combined! 41% of adults eat at fast food restaurants at least weekly, and over 25% of Americans consume fast food every day.
McDonald’s is the fastest growing fast food chain with over 33,000 locations in 19 countries and boasts annual profits of more than $21 billion.
With more and people choosing to eat at McDonald’s on a regular basis, I can’t help but wonder how it’s affecting people’s overall health.
McDonald’s Mission to be Healthier
“It started with you. Moms and dads are trying hard to get their kids to be more nutrition-minded. We listened. That’s why our popular Happy Meals will have fewer calories and include a side of fruit. It’s why our Chicken McNuggets now have less sodium. And why our national communications to kids will champion their well-being.” -mcdonalds.com
It’s great that McDonald’s is reducing sodium here and there and providing a side of fruit, but is it enough? Let’s check out the nitty gritty details and find out!
Best Food at McDonald’s
I had a hard time finding healthy food at McDonald’s. Yes, some of their meals may be fairly low in calories, sodium, sugar, or fat… but I still wouldn’t consider them healthy by any means. Where are the fresh vegetables? Where’s the fresh fruit (without caramel, thank you very much!)?
So, I did what I could with what I had. This is the “best” food I could find at McDonald’s. I wasn’t so much focused on calories (of course, I included all of that information for you anyways), and I focused more on overall health qualities.
Leave it to McDonald’s to take something perfect and make it…well, less perfect. They peeled the skin off of the apples and toss a “dip”.
Ingredients: Apples, calcium ascorbate (a blend of calcium and vitamin C to maintain color).
Total Fat: 0g
Salads can be a great choice, but just be careful with the type and the amount of salad dressing you use!
Ingredients: Iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spring mix (may contain baby red romaine, baby green romaine, baby red leaf, baby green leaf, baby red swiss chard, baby red oak, baby green oak, parella, lolla rosa, tango, totsoi, arugula, mizuna, radicchio, frisee), and carrots.
Total Fat: 0g
The nutrition information and ingredients is just for the salad and does not include the salad dressing!
Ingredients: Grilled Chicken Fillet, Salad Mix, Grape Tomatoes, and Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Total Fat: 5g
I’m not so sure what’s in the Cilantro Lime Glaze and the Chili Lime Tortilla Strips, but overall this salad is OK. PS – No need for salad dressing!
Ingredients: Grilled Chicken Fillet, Salad Mix, Southwest Vegetable Blend, Shredded Cheddar/Jack Cheese, Cilantro Lime Glaze, Chili Lime Tortilla Strips, and Lime
Total Fat: 8g
Worst Food at McDonald’s
With shows like Supersize Me and pictures like the one below, McDonald’s is not known for it’s healthy food. Let’s take a look at the worst food available at McDonald’s!
Please note: there were plenty of close seconds and thirds “winners” for the worst foods…
McDonald’s doesn’t provide detailed ingredient information, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that they aren’t using quality (healthy) ingredients when they list it all out.
Ingredients: Scrambled Eggs, Sausage Patty, Biscuit (Large), Hash Brown, Hotcakes (3)
Total Fat: 60g
McDonald’s sure knows how to complicate such a simple thing. Chicken Nuggets don’t need this many ingredients. Just sayin’…
Ingredients: Chicken breast chunks with rib meat, water, maltodextrin, modified rice starch, yeast extract, sodium phosphates, salt, modified tapioca starch, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, spices, carrageenan, natural (botanical and animal source) and artificial flavors, chicken broth, citric acid, spice extractive, gum arabic, lactic acid, chicken fat.
Battered and breaded with: bleached wheat flour, water, wheat flour, food starch-modified, wheat gluten, leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), salt, spices, garlic powder, dried onion, dried garlic, maltodextrin, onion powder, citric acid, natural (plant source) and artificial flavors, lactic acid, yellow corn flower, extractives of paprika and turmeric (color).
Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
Total Fat: 63g
This sounds like a super healthy snack, right? When you take a closer look at the ingredients, you’d be surprised with how much junk they could add to something as simple as fruit and walnuts!
Ingredients: Apples, calcium ascorbate (a blend of calcium and vitamin C to maintain color), red grapes.
Vanilla Lowfat Yogurt: Cultured pasteurized Grade A reduced fat milk, sugar, food starch-modified, fructose, whey protein concentrate, corn starch, gelatin, natural (plant source) and artificial flavor, potassium sorbate (added to maintain freshness).
Candied Walnuts: Walnuts (TBHQ and BHT added as a preservative), sugar, peanut oil, honey, salt, wheat starch, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, natural (plant source) and artificial flavor.
Total Fat: 8g
Eating at McDonald’s
If you have to go to McDonald’s, at least you know what to order and what not to order. Although, I suggest limiting the amount of fast food you eat since unfortunately, even the “best” foods available at McDonald’s isn’t all that healthy, especially when you compare it to food that you could be preparing for yourself at home.
Image Credits: McDonald’s, Childhood Obesity
More fun and totally random health related pictures. You are welcome.
1. I think a lot of people can relate to this.
2. If only more Doctor’s gave such a prescription.
3. Those cups keep gettin’ bigger and bigger, don’t they?!
5. Medical Doctors have a business to run – please get/stay sick now!
6. I loved this :)
7. Still trying to reach your health goals? Those dreams take work. Good ‘ol hard work.
8. Pregnancy Fail.
9. You deserve to be HEALTHY and HAPPY. Eating healthy and exercising is worth it. I promise.
10. Diet Fail. Oh, this is another reason why I don’t believe in rewarding yourself with junk.
Which picture was your favorite?