Apr 242014
 


I love Greek yogurt. High in protein, low in fat, and so creamy you feel like you’re eating something you shouldn’t be. What’s not to like?

If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so. In addition to being able to make some delicious desserts, you can also use Greek yogurt to substitute for some less-healthy options like mayonnaise and sour cream. Buy the plain variety. Not only will you avoid all the sugar that’s loaded into the flavored varieties, but it’s far more versatile.

There are several sweeteners you can use. Some people like agave and others prefer honey. Both of these are okay. But my absolute favorite is stevia. The brand I use is Kal. I like Kal Stevia Extract Powder because it is nothing but plain stevia, in powder form. Some brands add fiber and other fillers so you can measure the stevia as you would sugar. The reality is that stevia is far stronger than sugar so only a tiny bit is needed. Kal conveniently packs a tiny scoop in the bottle. This scoop seems to be just right for sweetening a 6-ounce container of yogurt.

My favorite brands of Greek yogurst are Fage (I get the 2%) and Oikos (preferably organic). Both these brands have a nice, neutral taste and creamy texture (the Fage is especially creamy). And both are available in most supermarkets.

So, what can you do with Greek yogurt? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Swap half the mayonnaise in a recipe
  2. Swap half the sour cream in a recipe
  3. Add some to your morning smoothie
  4. Add sliced strawberries and stevia for a healthy but rich-tasting dessert
  5. Add chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, pumpkin seed, and toasted oats for a high-protein alternative to cereal
  6. Add to your scrambled eggs or omelet

You’re limited only by your imagination. If you get stuck, check out the recipes section of the Fage site.

Bon Appetit!

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Apr 112014
 

A friend and I were discussing diets recently and in the course of that conversation, I mentioned that I was invariably stunned when I visited Barnes and Noble and saw how many different diet books are on the market. Ditto inside women’s magazine. The reason for so many books, I argued, is that no one wants to present the unpleasant reality that dieting is actually pretty . It’s the execution that trips people up. In fact, I argued, all the dieting advice anyone would ever need can be condensed into 10 bullet points or less. He challenged me and I accepted. Here are my bullets (and I bet I don’t come close to 10):

  • Consume less than you burn. While the quality of the food you eat matters, the number one rule of weight loss is to eat less than you burn. How do you know how much you’re eating? Weigh yourself at the start of the week. Then, track every morsel you eat for a week — every splash of cream in your coffee, every drizzle of olive oil in the pan, etc. Sites like MyFitnessPal are free. At the end of the week, add up the calories and weigh yourself again. If your weight didn’t change, you’ve discovered your maintenance calories — the number of calories you need to maintain your current body weight. To lose weight, eat 10% – 20% fewer calories each day.
  • Eat as close to nature as possible. Stated differently, this means avoiding processed foods in favor of those we were designed to eat. In addition to ditching the obvious stuff like Twinkies and donuts, this also means ditching pseudo-foods, like reduced-fat cream cheese that replaces the fat with a bunch of strange chemicals you can’t pronounce (or understand what they do once in your body).
  • Don’t ditch the carbs. Guess what? Vegetables are carbs and they are great to eat. So are beans and legumes. Even whole grains can be part of your diet. A word of caution: Current labeling allows a food with 50% whole grain to be labeled as whole grain. Fifty percent is half, and that’s not whole grain. Similarly, some manufacturers plaster the label with the words “Multi Grain!” but this is totally meaningless. A food made of multiple (multi_ processed grains is no better for you than a food made of a single, processed grain.
  • Choose healthy fats. Eating fat won’t make you fat. Nor will it lead to health problems. In fact, eating the right kinds of fats — think salmon and other fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, avocado — will help to reduce inflammation in your body and provide a host of other health benefits. The fats to avoid? Saturated fats from animal sources, although even these are ok in moderation.
  • Increase your protein. Most women are not eating enough protein. Aim for 20 grams or so at each meal. If you’re working out, aim for 1 gram of protein for each pound of bodyweight, more or less split up evenly across your day. Whey protein is power food and comes in nearly every flavor imaginable. Optimum Nutrition at Bodybuilding.comis tasty and inexpensive.
  • Get moving. I feel compelled to add this one, even though exercise is not necessary for weight loss. But it is essential to being healthier. So do whatever it is you like to do — play tennis, swim, hike, lift weights. The more muscle you have, the greater your metabolic rate and the more you’ll be able to eat without gaining.
  • Cheat a little. It’s ok to splurge now and then and have that piece of cake or bowl of ice cream… once in a while. How often is that? Pick one or two meals a week in which you eat whatever you want. But that’s it. Don’t let two meals become three, and then four, and then…
  • Track what you eat. See above, where I talked about the need to religiously weigh, measure, and account for everything you eat. After a while, you’ll be able to eyeball what 4 ounces of uncooked chicken breast looks like, but, at first, this is difficult to do. Research has found that the more overweight a person is, the more likely she or he is to underestimate calories consumed. So if you’re looking to lose weight, odds are that you are not a good judge of portion sizes and calories.
  • No stupid stuff! No fasting, no colon cleanses, no all-liquid diets, no only-eating-this-one-food-for-two-weeks programs.

Well, there you have it. How many bullets is that? I count nine. Almost seems as though I should add a tenth just to round things out.

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Mar 292014
 

There’s something wonderful about a chocolate chip cookie. All that ooey-gooey chocolate. Yum. Although the original Tollhouse recipe can’t be beat for taste, for those of concerned with wanting a minimally processed, low-sugar diet, there are better alternatives. My original Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies were made entirely from almond flour. This new batch is made from a mix of oats and almond flour, for a lower-fat profile. Note that if you are truly gluten-intolerant, as opposed to simply wishing to avoid gluten, you will want to be sure you are purchasing oats that have been made in a facility that does not process other grains. There is a chance of gluten transfer when the same manufacturing facility is used.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (I used organic, raw sugar)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats, toasted (optional) and ground
  • 1 cup almond flour (I use Honeyville Almond Flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix first five ingredients (through vanilla extract) in a large bowl. Combine all the remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix. Stir in chocolate chips.

Place rounded teaspoons of batter on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake for 13 minutes or until browned.

Makes 25 cookies. Per cookie:
Calories: 109
Protein: 2g
Fat: 8g
Carbs: 9g (6 sugars)

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Mar 272014
 
bbread-1

I’m always on the lookout for recipes that are low on the Glycemic Index and high in nutrients. Oh… and they have to taste good, too. Here’s one that fits the bill on all counts. It’s made with almond flour rather than a grain flour. This reduces the carbs and makes it gluten-free, while adding protein. It’s also fairly high in fat, but it’s the mono-unsaturated kind (found in almonds and other nuts), so it’s not one you have to avoid. In addition, almonds are a powerhouse source for manganese, magnesium, vitamin E and more. More information about the many health benefits of almonds are found on the World’s Healthiest Foods site.

This bread came out moist and tasty. My kids gobbled it up. Miraculously, some is still left today, two days after baking it (probably because my son eschews anything with nuts in it). It is still moist.

Ingredients
3 cups almond flour (I use blanched almond flour from Honeyville
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3 large eggs
2 large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sweetener (I used brown rice syrup from Lundberg)
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil (ok to substitute canola oil)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 F; grease a medium loaf pan.

Combine the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Beat the eggs, bananas, sweetener, oil, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. Mix in the dry mixture in three additions on low speed. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed and ensure all ingredients are mixed. Stir in the walnuts.

Pour the batter in the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place on a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out the loaf. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Per slice (assumes 14 slices):

265 calories
20g total fat
14.7g carbohydrate
2g fiber
4g sugar
7g protein

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Mar 262014
 

I made these chocolate chip cookies a couple of weeks ago. They were good, but they became a little dried out by the second day. So I tweaked the recipe a bit. This version is gluten-free, delicious, and able to make it to a second day. I have no idea how they’d taste on day 3, since it’s impossible for cookies to last that long at my house! This is partly because my 13-year-old daughter declares these cookies even better than the Toll House variety she grew up eating.
 
 
 
 
 
Ingredients

2 ½ cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville Almond Flour)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup grapeseed oil (canola oil or butter are also ok)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup sweetener (I used brown sugar because I like the flavor it imparts, but brown rice syrup or agave would also be ok)
1 large egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix.
5. Add chocolate chips and blend.
6. For dough into 1″ balls and arrange on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Flatten each ball into a thick disk.
7. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned.
8. Cool briefly in pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

Nutrition (per cookie)

Calories: 129
Protein: 2.5g
Fat: 10.5g
Carbohydrates: 8.5g (6g sugar)

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