Diet- Friendly Summertime Coffee Drinks

Iced Capp? Iced Coffee? Frappuccino? Iced Mocha? No matter what your choice, it still spells one thing….loads of calories and most of them from fat!

So, how can you enjoy your favourite gourmet drinks without all the empty calories? I have a couple recipes today to help you enjoy those ‘treat” drinks.  These will taste so good that you’ll swear they aren’t good for you but they are! The protein powder not only curbs hunger pangs but adds that metabolically active ingredient…PROTEIN!

I have a couple different ones I use, they are both quite flexible in terms of milk that you use, but once you try them you can work out what suits your taste buds or time frame best.  Play around with them to develop the taste you enjoy, without the calories!

If you just want to wet the whistle, try pouring cold coffee over ice!  Add a little sweetener if you must but I like it straight up!

Vanilla Iced Coffee

-sugar-free non-fat vanilla yogurt
-non-fat milk (or almond milk, rice milk or soy milk – vanilla flavoured, if you prefer)
-instant coffee crystals
-vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder

Directions: You’ll start by spooning sugar-free, nonfat vanilla yogurt in an ice cube tray and freezing it into cubes overnight.  Then you’ll add them to a blender with a splash of milk, a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals, and a scoop of vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder. Lastly, just sprinkle on some cinnamon to add a little fat-burning kick. If you want to cut down on the caffeine, just use decaffeinated instant coffee instead.

Quick Iced Mocha or Vanilla Coffee

-ice cubes
-1 cup non-fat milk, almond milk, soy or rice milk (can use vanilla flavoured milk for more of that vanilla flavour)
-instant coffee crystals or 1 c strong cold leftover coffee (I make extra to use for iced coffee!)
-1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder (for mocha) or vanilla
-cinammon and/or stevia (sweetener) to taste

Directions: Throw all the ingredients in a blender or good shaker cup and give it a good shake or until you see it has thickened. Pour into a tall glass and sip away! Easy to prepare and no chore to drink (about 200 cal and 25g Protein).

Oats Aren’t Just for Breakfast!

No, I am not finished extolling the virtues of the humble oat.  I assume you all got the picture on how good they are for you, but have you ever thought beyond the breakfast bowl?

Today I am going to give you one of my favourite ways to serve oats (and it’s not a breakfast food!)

Oat Pilaf
2 tbsp oil
1/2 c chopped onion and/or green onion
1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper, mushrooms, celery and/or zucchini (opt) or any leftover vegetables
1 1/2 cup oats (not the instant variety!)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c vegetable stock, chicken stock, tomato juice or water (may need a pinch of salt if you use water)
1/4 c chopped parsley
1/2 tsp ea basil and oregano (or to taste)
Saute the onion and other veg in the oil until tender.  Mix the oats with the egg and add to the onion mixture, cooking and stirring until the grains are dry and separated. Add liquid and seasonings; simmer uncovered, stirring a few times until the oats are swollen and tender, about 5 min. 

Goes well with an egg dish.  I particularly like the leftovers for breakfast!

The Underrated Oat

Besides your morning bowl of oatmeal, have you ever thought much about the humble oat (other than a staple for William Wallace aka Braveheart)??? 

Oats: so pale, so small, and so easy to ignore. Some people look at a bowl of oatmeal and say, “blah!” Others gaze upon a lumpy mush of hot oats, with steam clouding their dreamy eyes, and sigh, “ahhh…” Are you an oat-lover? Here’s why you should take the oat oath and eat more of these oh-so-wholesome whole grains.

Oats boast an impressive nutritional profile. Modest oats hide their impressive virtues inside of those unassuming little hulls. One cup of oats provides 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. Fibre is a multitalented nutrient, protecting us from any number of potential health problems (see the next several oat benefits!). Eat one cup of oats and you’ll rack up nearly 70% of your daily needs for manganese, a mineral that helps enzymes in bone formation. You’ll also get good helpings of vitamin B1 and magnesium. (That is impressive!)

Oats fill you up. For all that nutritional intensity, one cup of oats will only cost you 147 calories. But it’s not the calories in oatmeal that fill you up – it’s the fibre. In addition, the grain falls on the low end of the glycemic index (GI), which is a ranking of how carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels. When you eat oats, your body will digest and absorb them slowly, keeping you feeling full, controlling your appetite, and delaying hunger pangs. (Gotta love that benefit!)

Oats may help reduce cholesterol. Among all grains, oats have the highest proportion of soluble fibre. This gel-like fibre transits your intestinal tract and may help trap substances associated with high blood cholesterol. Studies show that people with high blood cholesterol who eat just 3 g of soluble fibre per day can reduce their total cholesterol by 8% to 23% (ahem…remember that one cup of oats yields 4 g)!

Oats are diabetes-friendly. For the same reason that the fibre in oats helps to stave off hunger, it also helps to steady the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. People with diabetes especially benefit from this awesome oat trait. Most people need about 26 g to 35 g of fibre per day, but those with diabetes need upwards of 50 g. A fibre-filled bowl of oats can provide some of the much needed nutrient. Just be sure not to tip the balance by adding too much sugar or other blood glucose-spiking toppers to your oats. (Try using fruit, cinnamon or use fruit flavoured yogurt to help sweeten it up)

Oats support healthy digestion. The insoluble fibre in oats scrubs through the intestines, moving food along and helping to prevent constipation. Also, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) who follow a diet higher in fibre and lower in total fat may experience fewer symptoms of GERD (such as heartburn).

Oats can shield your skin. At some point in human history, someone discovered how nice it felt to apply oats to dry, itchy, irritated skin. Moms have been stirring raw oats into hot baths for generations to soothe children’s chickenpox symptoms, and many people make DIY facial masks by blending oatmeal with yogurt and honey. The starchiness of oats creates a barrier that allows the skin to hold its moisture, while the rougher fibrous husk of the oat acts as a gentle exfoliant. (I have been doing this for years and it does make great facials!)

There is so much more to oats than oatmeal! Oats are an affordable and nutrient-dense food that can be used in many ways. Beyond the breakfast bowl, oats can be added to cookies, breads, pancakes, or stuffing; sprinkled atop fruit cobblers or crumbles; plopped into a smoothie to boost its fibre and bulk; and ground to make flour for baking. Anywhere you need a little texture, a little extra oomph, turn to oats. And oatmeal itself comes in several varieties (i.e., slower-cooking steel-cut, old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick “instant” oats) and can be dressed with fresh berries, bananas, honey, seeds, or nuts.

If you choose to buy oats in bulk, only purchase as much as you could eat in two months time, after which the oats are more likely to spoil. Store in an airtight container tucked away in a cool, dry, dark spot in your cupboard.

Despite all of oats’ virtues, not everyone should eat them. If you have celiac disease, be warned: Though oats may not be completely off-limits, some oat products are contaminated with wheat. Check with your doctor  before deciding to try oats or oatmeal and make sure to read the label.

Dr. Johnson, in the first English dictionary published in 1747, sarcastically dismissed oats as:“a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.’  Fortunately, the entry did not go unchallenged, since John Boswell, a [Scottish] writer wrote this riposte:
“Which is why England is known for its horses and Scotland for its men.”

Time for Managing Your Time?

We all have those days when we can’t possibly add one more thing to our “to do” list, let alone fit in a workout. 
Perhaps your child wakes up with a fever, your boss calls you in to the office early for an emergency meeting, your best friend calls with a personal crisis or one of your pipes bursts.  Whatever the reason, you suddenly find your self with five new tasks that weren’t on the original “To Do Today” List – and not enough time or energy to get it all done!

I know.  It happens to me too.  (you may have noticed the abscence of the blogs for the last 6 weeks…)

Two things have helped me (it applies just as much to exercise as many other things (time management, that is).  Ask your self these 2 questions…

  1. Do I really need to do all these errands today?  I ask myself this question a lot.  It seems as the day goes on, I find myself adding more and more to my mental “to do” list.  Sometimes I have to step back and take a good, hard look at what I’m trying to accomplish.  Oftentimes, I realize that many of those tasks can wait.
  2. Am I really buys – or am I procrastinating?  Sometimes we come up with things to keep us from working out.  What is filling your day? Are you talking on the phone a lot?  Watching television?  Get off the phone, turn off the TV and MOVE YOUR BODY.

 “My to-do list is so long that it doesn’t have an end; it has an event horizon.” – Craig Bruce

Fat Shedding Foods

You’ve seen the infomercials just like we have–and they’re particularly insane this time of the year. And of course we’re all familiar with the various fads out there: slashing carbs, eating a super low fat diet, drastically reducing calories, etc. The list can go on forever.

But are there true foods that can help us shed fat?

Well, there are–sort of. Weight loss programs often focus on cutting nothing but calories, regardless of where those calories are coming from. That’s not how I roll on any of my Fit and Foxy Eating Plans.  I am about focusing on quality. I hate the concept of virtually eliminating any macronutrient, but love the concept of doing so with certain types of macronutrients.

Licorice, candy, cookies, cake, etc–those are carbohydrates. And they’re all junk. On the other hand, oatmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, vegetables, fruits, etc are also carbs and they couldn’t be any better.

Likewise, butter, shortening, animal fat, and margarine are all junk fats, whereas fish oil, flax, olive oil, and avocados are all fantastic for you.

See the point? By switching the focus from just overall quantity to the quality of the nutrients consumed will help shed body fat--and, yes, we’re saying a calorie isn’t a calorie isn’t a calorie (2000 calories from oil is much different than 2000 calories from fruit and vegetables).

So go back to the basics, focus on the simple, non- packaged foods, and understand that doing so will not only ultimately help you shed fat, but it will also drastically improve your health, how you feel, your energy, skin, mood, and so on and so on.

 Here are 3 rules to keep in mind:

See…no cartoon!

1. If a food has a cartoon on the package, put it back. (Trix are for Kids!!)

2. If you didn’t find it on the perimeter of the store, put it back. (The exception to this is the bakery department in the supermarket…thought you’d sneak that one in???)

3. If the ingredient list is so long it reads like a Shakespeare novel, put it back! The less ingredients, the better. (need I say more???)

“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” ~Alfred E. Newman

7 Healthy Habits for Heartburn Sufferers

Heartburn is not only painful but can be plain annoying!  We all get it at some point in time, some people just seem to suffer more with it. 
Over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications are the most common treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)  .It is a complaint I hear from clients quite frequently so I thought it would be prudent to offer some suggestions to wean yourself off those antacids (not good to use long term!).  By following these steps on a daily basis you can minimize or eliminate those annoying gastro problems.  Regardless of how bad your GERD symptoms are, successfully fighting it requires some changes in lifestyle -ranging from the food you eat to the clothes you wear.

If you stick to them every day, these seven habits may help minimize GERD symptoms.

  1.  Small, frequent meals (yes, the right kind of snacking is GOOD!) – A very full stomach can cause the valve between your stomach and esophagus to relax, pushing stomach acids back up into the esophagus.  Eat several small meals throughout the day rather than the standard 3 big meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Don’t make that last meal too late, though: Eating close to bedtime can trigger symptoms as well.)
  2. Avoid “trigger” foods (check out my blog recipes or my recipe books – good food doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless!) Be it chocolate or caffeine, certain foods and drinks are notorious for exacerbating GERD symptoms.  The list includes spicy foods, fatty red meat, French fries (and other fried foods), citrus fruit, raw onion, tomatoes, butter, oil, peppermint, chocolate and caffeine.  I am not saying you should avoid all of them, but take note which ones may cause problems for YOU!
  3. Back off the Alcohol (heavy sigh…) Alcohol is a bad idea for most people with GERD, especially if you drink too much, or on a regular basis. Alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which lets stomach acid creep into the esophagus.  A 1999 study showed that those who imbibed more than seven drinks per week were the most likely to have heartburn.
  4. Shed some Pounds (you knew I would work that in there somewhere…didn’t you???) – Excess weight can contribute to heartburn and acid reflux. A 2003 study of more than 10,000 people found a strong link between GERD symptoms and body mass index (BMI). Obese people are nearly three times more likely than people of normal weight to have heartburn and acid reflux.  Experts aren’t exactly sure why. Excess abdominal fat may place pressure on the stomach, but it may also cause chemical or hormonal changes that make the body more susceptible.
  5. Loosen those Waistbands (closely related to #4… smile…) –  Much like excess belly fat, clothing that’s a tight fit around the midsection can push against your stomach and force acid into the esophagus. Sure those pants look great, but is it worth it? If you have heartburn, skip belts, waistbands, hosiery and undergarments that may be too tight or, if the shoe fits…refer to #4!
  6.  Heads Up while you Sleep (ok…c’mon, you KNOW what I’m talking about…) Avoid eating before bedtime and elevate your head six to eight inches while you sleep.This position doesn’t necessarily reduce the frequency of acid reflux, but research shows it helps stomach acid drain from the esophagus more quickly. One study reported a 67% increase in acid clearance time.
  7. Quit Smoking (need I say more??) –  We know that smoking damages your heart and lungs. But what about your digestive system? Yep, that too. Nicotine, like alcohol, may worsen GERD symptoms by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, which causes stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.  Smoking also causes bile salts to migrate from the small intestine into the stomach and reduces the amount of saliva you produce. (Saliva helps flush stomach acid out of the esophagus). Combine smoking with any of the other above mentioned habits and you get a double-whammy of possible sympton triggers.