Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

The simple answer is that sugar is one type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are a whole family and sugar is the evil step brother. Just kidding! Kind of. There is no technical definition of sugar, but for the purpose of this article it will be defined as that granulated white (or brown) stuff used in baking and poured on your cereal or coffee.  Food manufacturers also add sugar to beverages and foods such as soda, juice drinks, cookies, cakes, candy, etc.  Sometimes this added sugar is listed under names such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup solids. The scientific name for white sugar is sucrose.

Carbohydrates are the broader category which includes all sweets, grains, fruit, milk, and even vegetables. Carbohydrates found in fruit are fructose; carbs in milk are lactose; and carbs in grain foods are glucose. When your body digests carbohydrates they break down into glucose when they enter your blood stream. All types of carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in your body. A strawberry will turn to glucose just the same as a piece of bread or a tablespoon full of sugar will turn into glucose. The difference is that the strawberry contains vitamin C, fiber, and approximately 80 calories for 1 cup. On the other hand, 1 cup of white sugar (sucrose) contains zero vitamins and fiber, and has a whopping 770 calories. Of course, most of you are not going to eat a cup of sugar, but you may drink a soda which contains 9 teaspoons of sugar.

If you ever turn a food package around and look at the label (which I hope you do!) you may notice that it shows carbohydrates, dietary fiber and sugars. Basically, the more fiber it has the healthier it is, and the less sugar it has the healthier it is. Fiber is also a carbohydrate, but it is indigestible and it moves through your body helping to lower your cholesterol and promote regularity. Fiber can also help stabilize your blood sugar.

Overall, carbohydrates provide fuel for your body and should not be avoided. There are both healthy carbs (whole grains, fruit) and unhealthy carbs (sugar), and with a bit of balance and moderation you can happily consume both types :).




Read Full Post »

Healthy Halloween. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?  Well, yes, generally Halloween is filled with candy corn, fun sized snickers, and cupcakes with giants mounds of orange frosting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about having a fun Halloween and enjoying a little bit of candy. BUT, I’m not about having a week long sugar fest. So here are some tips for having a slightly “healthier” Halloween.

If you’re having a Halloween party or going to one here are some great snacks to choose/make:

  • Apple slices with low-fat caramel or yogurt fruit dip. Fruit, enough said!
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds, just put them in the oven and add a little bit of salt. Delicious!
  • Hot (or cold) apple cider
  • You can make a fun vampire blood punch with 1/2 cranberry or Pomegranate juice and 1/2 sparkling water. You can also add in some pomegranate seeds and fresh squeezed orange or lemon juice.
  • Crudite. Otherwise known as veggies and dip. But be careful because ranch/onion dip is not your friend. You definitely need to check your veggies to dip ratio and make sure that its not 1:1.  One trick to make it healthier is to make your own dip and use plain Greek yogurt and the seasoning packet, or you could do half low-fat sour cream and half Greek yogurt. I’m telling you, know one will know the difference. It tastes almost exactly the same and it is aproximately a million times healthier than regular sour cream or ranch dip.

As far as “healthy” candy goes, none of them are healthy per say, but there are a few choices that won’t set you back as far as the others. For example,York  Peppermint Patties are fairly low in fat and have less than 150 calories for the big size one. Hard “choking” candies, as we like to call them in our family, are also a good choice because they take longer to eat and they only contain sugar, as opposed to a lot of sugar and a lot of fat. Some that I recommend are jolly ranchers, lollipops, and sweet tarts.

Last but not least, if you do “accidentally” eat more than just a few of your favorite candy, throw on your tennis shoes and go trick or treating with the kids.  A vigorous walk is just what you need. In fact, how about you mix it up with some lunges, squats, and you can do bicep curls with the kids candy bags when they start whining that they are too heavy to carry.  Of course, I think that if the kids bags are so heavy that they can’t carry them, its probably time to stop trick-or-treating, so instead you can bring along light weights or a pumpkin! I definitely recommend finding a smaller pumpkin than the one I used…

Basic lunge with pumpkin twist

Squat. Make sure your back is straight. No scary kitty backs!

Bicep curls with candy bag

And I’ll leave you with the best thing about Halloween. Lil’ babies in costumes- my niece to be exact! Happy Healthy Halloween!

Read Full Post »

I have never been a fan of eating in the car. EVER. Nor do I endorse eating standing up, eating while watching TV, or even eating on the couch. I like sitting at the dining room table and just enjoying my food. Even if its just me, I will still sit and eat at the table. That said, with my crazy schedule and awful commute, I find it nearly impossible to not eat on the go, and I’m sure there are many people out there that have to resort to eating in less than ideal conditions. If you have a long commute home after work there is no sense in not having an “on the road snack.” Being ravenous for dinner when you get home will just lead to overeating. Here are 5 healthy foods to bring along with you. These are meant to be just for snacks, not actual meals.

  1. Fruit!- Yep, just plain old fruit is one of the best snacks to bring along with you. This really is the best choice for numerous reasons. First off, most people do not get the recommended 2-3  cups of fruit per day. It’s sweet and delicious and packed with fiber to tide you over until dinner time. Additionally, you can easily hold it in one hand, so you can drive/ text/ or flip off people  with the other hand :). Some fall fruits to take on the go include apples and pears. Bananas and oranges are also always good choices, but oranges can be tough to peel and may leave you with a sticky steering wheel :(.

2. Granola/Cereal/Nut bars– Ok people, so Granola bars are a good choice. They’re portable, won’t rot or make your car smell, and they can’t be crushed by your labtop, nutrition books, or gym shoes. Above I’ve displayed two bars, both of which I like, but one is a much much better choice. Can you guess which one? The cheerio bar tastes pretty good, but ahh! Look at that ingredient list, INSANE! No single food product should have that many hard to pronounce ingredients. On the other hand, I just discovered these fabulous Mrs. Mays TRIO nut bars. They are so so good, and have a much shorter and easier to pronounce ingredient list.  There are many bars on the market, many of which make a great snack. Some things to look for which choosing a bar. Less than 10 grams of sugar, some protein- 3- 1o grams would be ideal, and if it has a couple grams of fiber that would but a plus too.

3. Popcorn!– I usually forget about this one, but it really is a great healthy snack food ( as long as its not swamped with butter and salt). Popcorn is awesome because the serving size is 6 cups popped! WOA! That is awesome. You can eat 6 Cups of this brand of popcorn for only 130 calories. Now that should keep you busy for a while.








4. Trail Mix– Trail mix is great because it doesn’t go bad and you can get some Omega 3’s if your mixture has walnuts. I highly recommend buying trail mix from Trader Joes, or even better yet, make your own! I would recommend a mixture of nuts, dried fruit, your favorite high fiber cereal, and if you have to throw some chocolate chips in their go for it. No, I’m not going to insist that its dark chocolate like all the other anal nutrition people out there, because quite frankly I think dark chocolate is gross and its really not that much better for you than regular chocolate. You could try carob chips though if you wanted…

5. Coffee/ tea– Ok, so I know its not really a food, but it can provide you with something to sip and keep your mind occupied as you stroll 5 mph down the 405. I know, I know, a lot of people try to kick the coffee habit, but there are so many studies showing that its actually good for you. I read one study that shows that people who drink at least 1 Cup of coffee a day have decreased mortality from all causes. Woa. Thats kinda funny. My Epidemiology teacher thinks it may be due to other factors, for example people who can afford to drink coffee everyday can also afford health insurance…. but regardless coffee and tea (as long as it doesn’t have 7 creams and sugars) have a high antioxidant level and can help you stay awake. So I say drink up! BUT, watch out for those crazy 500 calorie coffee drinks from the Cafe type places ( AKA Starbucks).

Read Full Post »

I’m so exhausted. Found out today I have to have ANOTHER colonoscopy. Fabulous. (Don’t ask why, its a long story). Must be some kinda record for 23 yr olds. Needless to say, my creative juices are not flowing. But I just wanted to get this post out for Stephanie Bailey before I forgot to do it!

There are many types of artificial sweeteners out there on the market. These products may also be called sugar substitutes or noncaloric / non-nutritive sweetener. I know that some people claim they don’t use them, but really artificial sweeteners are in a lot of foods that you don’t even realize. For example, diet coke, light yogurt, and those sugar free or light coffee beverages all contain sugar subs.

First, we have the ever popular Splenda. The chemical/generic name of Splenda is sucralose. Sucralose is simply regular table sugar (sucrose) which has chlorine added to it. Sounds scary, right? Well, when I think of eating chlorine it kinda gives me the heeby geebys and I imagine drinking pool water. But actually, it turns out, small amounts of chlorine are not so bad for us and it’s in many common things that we eat all the time. So, the truth is that Splenda is made from REAL SUGAR, just as they advertise, but it has been chemically altered. My take on splenda is this; if you like using it, go for it! Personally, I think it tastes nasty. But that is just my opinion. Splenda does not have calories and it will not harm your health. Here’s an interesting tidbit: the reason that Splenda does not have calories is because when the chlorine is added, the molecule becomes too large for you to absorb and it simply passes through your GI tract. Pretty cool, right? hahahah, I may be the only person on the planet that thinks that’s cool… Anyway, has anyone ever tried baking with Splenda? They say that you can, but I’m a bit weary. But I would be willing to give it a try. Send me your recipes!

Next we have aspartame. There was a lot of hulabaloo about aspartame in the 90’s and how it gives you cancer. That myth came from a study that fed huge quantities of aspartame to mice. These mice ate only aspartame and nothing else for like a year.  And guess what?  Some of these mice did get cancer. There have never been studies proving that aspartame gives humans cancer, and let me tell you the FDA really does vigorously test products for safety. So again, aspartame is safe. Aspartame is also known as Equal. Aspartame is also found in diet drinks, diet jello, diet hot chocolate, diet anything really. If you like the taste of Aspartame go for it.

Lastly, are these new “natural” noncaloric sweeteners that are coming out such as Stevia. Stevia is also marketed as Truvia. This is a pretty cool product. It comes from the Stevia plant. I was pretty excited to try this stuff, but o sooo disappointed when I tried it. It does not taste like sugar. It leaves this awful taste in my mouth! BUT, we all have different taste buds and if you’re interested try it! Some people may like it. It is very very sweet, I think that may be why I don’t like it. Start off by using just a little bit and see how it goes. I did eat it on a strawberry one time, and it tasted just fine on that, but I usually don’t feel the need to put sugar on my strawberries.

In conclusion,  artificial sweeteners are safe, calorie free, and leave a bad taste in my mouth. The first parts are fact, the second part solely opinion. I think that they are definitely practical for people with diabetes or people with high blood glucose. They can also aid in weight loss. For example, I think that switching from regular coke to diet is a great move! Although, of course as a future dietitian I would have to advocate switching from coke to water or nonfat milk as the best move. But baby steps is best! Additionally, there are studies that show that people who use sugar substitutes do not weigh any less than their regular sugar using counterparts. However, this is more of a which came first the chicken or the egg dilemma. Are they fat because they are using sugar subs., or do they use sugar subs because they are fat? I will leave that for you to ponder. As for me, I will stick to small amounts of regular sugar and have my occasional diet 7 up.

Read Full Post »

Last weekend I was feeling some pressure from my mom to use the weird (but delicious!) vegetables that we get from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) http://www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com/CSA_Program.html. I had planned on making soup, but since the weather likes to have bipolar disorder it was 95 degrees and soup just did not seem right!  I was also seriously pressed for time and didn’t have the patience for the chopping and brewing required for soup. So, it was the morning time, what is quick and delicious? Pancakes! panqueques is espanol- well kind of, my coworkers told me that Latino people really don’t eat pancakes and panqueques is basically a made up word, but I thought it was fun to say nonetheless.

Heres what I did. First I cooked the acorn squash in the microwave.


Butternut squash from our CSA


Then I drizzled on some cinnamon sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Have you ever used pumpkin pie spice? It is seriously amazing stuff. Next I pureed it in the food processor. Oh yes, I forgot to mention you don’t eat the green outside shell, but in the center is a yellow orange color. The flavor is similar to a sweet potato. Its actually really sweet and delicious!

Then I put together a combination of bisquick, whole wheat flour, milk, 2  eggs, a little oatmeal, and a touch of brown sugar. I whipped it together until it was the consistency I wanted. I didn’t measure anything in order to save clean up and save time. When making pancakes I always thought it was necessary to measure since that was what my Dad did, and then one time I saw my old friend Liz White just pour the Bisquick in and I was like omgosh, why have I been measuring for nothing? So, needless to say, I don’t have a recipe for you. Only ingredients.

Mmmm. They were delicious! So, I would like to take a minute to talk about the nutritional content of pancakes. They are not exactly a nutritional powerhouse. BUT, if you top them with fruit (Yum!) and add a little acorn squash inside, you’re starting your day off with a good source of carbohydrates, some fiber from the whole grain wheat and fruit, vitamin A from the squash, and you just ate foods from 3/5 food groups! Buen provecho!

Additionally, one of the worse aspects of pancakes is the syrup. 1/4 cup of syrup has 210 calories. Eeek! That is why I strongly advise adding fruit for flavor whenever possible. Ooops, I forgot to mention I added one rotten banana in the pancake batter too. That totally helped sweeten ’em up. What are your favorite toppers to add to pancakes? Do you have any secret ingredients? Also, if that isn’t really a butternut squash, sorry! CSA gives you a mystery box every time! Below are some pictures of my doggies, Max loves pancakes! and Roxy pretends to love them and then barfs them on the floor.


Maxy and Roxy waiting anxiously for their panqueques


Read Full Post »

There is a lot of talk about sugar. Especially that high fructose corn syrup variety. But whats the truth? Is one better than the other? Is brown sugar nutritionally superior to white? How about sugar that comes from corn?  Will it make me fat, give me diabetes, brain cancer? Believe it or not, I have been asked one version or another of all of these questions at some point in time. In fact, a lady in my grocery store tour program didn’t ask if HFCS gives you brain cancer; she insisted that it did. FYI- I have no idea when the actual correct time to use a semicolon is, if this is improper please feel free to let me know.

I’m going to cover the simple basics of  four different types of sweeteners: white sugar, brown sugar, high  fructose corn syrup, and agave nectar. I realize that there are many more sweeteners and sugar varieties out there, practically anything ending in -ose on your food label is one form of sugar or another.

White Sugar versus Brown Sugar. There is a big misconception out there that brown sugar is better for you  because it is “more natural.” This is false. Brown sugar is simply white granulated sugar which has had molasses added back into it. White sugar or sucrose is made from sugar cane or beets. I’ve done a random poll of my family to determine where this myth was formed, and I just can’t get to the bottom of it. My dad believed the myth because thats what his mom told him.  My mom knew it wasn’t true (she’s so smart!) but thought perhaps the myth stemmed from the fact that other brown products like whole grains and whole wheat pasta which happen to be “brown” are healthier for us.

High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS. This is by far one of the most controversial products on the market right now. HFCS is literally in everything! But is it a problem? In terms of pure nutrition, calories, and percent carbohydrates it is identical to table sugar or sucrose. Yes, it is slightly higher in fructose, but you know where we can also find fructose. In fruit! So, the real problem is that HFCS is soo cheap (because it is made from corn, and corn is subsidized by our government). Due to its cheapness it is being found in more and more foods and the prices of these foods can be driven down because corn is cheap. The increase in HFCS has mirrored the increase in obesity as is demonstrated in the graph below. But it’s important to remember that correlation does not mean causation and there are several other environmental and genetic factors which come into play for obesity. Agave Nectar. Last but not least is agave nectar. it can be found at specialty foodstores like Traders Joes and Whole Foods. This is a fairly new product and many of you may not have even heard of it so I’m going to keep it short and sweet. Basically, this is just a new type of sweetener, not any healthier than sugar, but if you’re a foodie type person its fun to experiment with. However, I just want you to know your not doing your body a favor by using this over table sugar. Here’s an awesome article from the LA times about agave http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/30/health/he-nutrition30/

Read Full Post »

I’m a Nut


I love my walnuts!


First off, I would like to explain my name. Its sort of a double ontondra (sp?) type of thing. Number one, I love nuts! All nuts are nice, but especially walnuts are my very favorite! And, I would like to say, that I love walnuts regardless of their amazing nutritional value. My love affair with walnuts began when I was two years old and I got a box of walnuts for my birthday. It was seriously the best birthday present EVER. Rivaled only by my dog, my easy bake oven, and I guess my car was pretty cool too. When I saw that box of nuts I shrieked with joy! (I only know this because there is video). I strutted around with my nuts in one hand and my good ole’ blankey in the other. RIP blankey.

Number two, I sort of have a reputation of being a little whack-o, if you know what I mean. Not in a she’s so crazy she needs to go to the mental hospital type of way, but more like woa, that girl is pretty random/weird/funny type of way. I also like to say whatever comes to my mind. I think that this is definitely a positive trait and I wish that more people could be as candid as yours truly. Americans are so worried about being PC it is ridiculous.  But, I will say that it has gotten me into trouble a few times, especially since I have a loud voice and am sometimes not good at controlling the volume.  My sister can attest to this volume control issue, just ask, I’m sure she would love to tell you!

Read Full Post »