Easy at-home exercises

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THE WALL:  Using the wall for back support, bend your knees until they are at a 90-degree angle to the floor and do a seated chair pose to really strengthen your legs, especially your quads. Aim to hold for a minute or longer

THE COUCH:

A TABLE:  Use the table for standing pushups.  Really focus on technique and you’ll really feel it in your pectoral muscles.  Remember to keep your abdomen muscles tight.

STAIRS OR A STOOP:  This is perfect for calf raises.  Stand on the stop on your  tippy toes on the edge and lower them as far as you can and then slowly push up as high as you can on your tippy toes and repeat.  Your calf muscles will become defined quickly.  This is a great exercise as a shapely calf helps to make women’s thighs look smaller by balancing them out.

PILLOW:  Sitting on a chair, use the pillow to work your inner thigh.  Place the pillow between your knees and squeeze as hard as you can for 30 seconds.  Continue for a minimum of three sets.

DOOR FRAME:  Stand between in the middle of the door frame and with your arms reached out to each of your sides, press on each side of the door frame as hard as you can, keeping your hands flat.  This is a great isometric exercise that activates and really works the shoulders, biceps and triceps.

KITCHEN CHAIR:  Tricep dips:  Using a kitchen chair, or any sturdy  chair perform tricep dips just as you would by using a bench at the gym.  Remember when you lower your body to not allow your elbows to bend to more than a 90-degree angle.

TOWEL:  For your shoulders, straighten your arms over your head holding the towel in each hand about 18 inches apart.  Keeping your arms over your head, pull with each hand on the towel as hard as you can, creating a resistance.  Hold for several seconds and repeat.

SHAMPOO OR CONDITIONER BOTTLE:  Shower tricep presses.  It’s easy and fast and if your form is good and you keep your elbow right next to your ear, you’ll feel it even if the weight is light. the wall, a kitchen chair, the couch, a table, stairs/stoop, the door, or anything else you can think of.

 

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For a Get Healthy Guide Check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure!

 

Craving Comfort Foods? Try these hunger-tamers

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With the cooler weather rolling in, our clients have been telling us that they find themselves craving heartier foods.  And they’re not the only ones. We’ve gotta admit that even as registered dietitians–who are very well aware of comfort foods’ belt-bursting, artery-clogging, and sugar-spiking capabilities—we still feel tempted to indulge sometimes. So what’s a comfort-food craving, girl (or guy) to do?

First, drink a large, low-calorie, warm beverage (think hot tea or vegetable soup) in order to cut back calories later in the day. Soups made with water, not milk, are particularly effective in reducing subsequent calorie intake. In addition, warm and hot foods require eating more slowly, and therefore, you allow your body’s “you are now full” alert system to activate before you have time to dive into calorie-laden foods. It seems to be especially helpful to have the tea or soup immediately before you leave work and head home, or while waiting for a meal.

If this trick doesn’t work, try these comfort food swaps (and check back with us in a few weeks for even more healthy swaps).

Comfort food: Pasta

What to eat instead: Spaghetti squash. It’s so easy to prepare. Simply poke holes in the squash with a fork and microwave it. Then, use a fork to shred it into “spaghetti.” Toss on some tomato sauce and a teaspoon of grated Parmesan, and, voila, you have guilt-free pasta!  It tastes and feels like the real deal, but has less than half the calories—40 calories per cup versus 200! If it’s mac-and cheese you crave, simply mix the warm spaghetti squash with a slice of fat free or low fat cheddar.

Comfort food: Mashed potatoes

What to eat instead:  Make lower cal mashed potatoes by combining them with pureed cauliflower and using low-fat milk and butter-flavored vegetable spread instead of full-fat milk and butter. Or you can completely replace the potatoes with cauliflower. A cup of plain potatoes carries about 104 calories, compared to a mere 25 in a cup of cauliflower. Plus, no one notices the difference! Or opt for a baked potato instead to get all of the nutrients potatoes provide (like potassium and vitamin C), without the extra fat from milk and butter. Top it with low fat yogurt, Greek yogurt, steamed veggies, or salsa to keep calories to a minimum.

Comfort food: Chocolate

What to eat instead:  If you can quench your craving with a small piece of the real deal, then go for it!  After all, some of you may be lucky enough to feel satisfied after a teensy Hershey’s kiss, which contains less than 40 calories. However, if you are more likely to eat the entire bag than a kiss or two, then you’re better off sipping a mug of hot chocolate. Use a sugar-free, fat-free chocolate mix. If you also use low-fat or skim milk, you can enrich the flavor with a half a teaspoon of instant coffee or a dash of cinnamon. We like sugar-free 25-calorie hot chocolate with a dollop of fat–free whipped cream. Like the hot tea or vegetable soup, the warm beverage will pacify you, slow you down (since you can’t guzzle hot food), and allow the craving to pass while you silence your sweet tooth. Try these chocolate fixes over the next couple of weeks. If they don’t work for you, stay tuned for more suggestions.

 

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If you like this recipe you may also like:

Creamy Warm Cinnamon Banana Milk

Vanilla Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

Banana Kiwi Smoothie

 

For More Delicious Healthy Comfort Foods and Get Healthy Guide, check out The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure!

 

Should you try a detox?

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As a present for our last birthday, a friend of ours treated us to a visit to a spa.  We arrived at the spa excited and eager for a girl’s day of pampering.  Soon we learned that our day of relaxation wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.  First up:  an intestinal “detox” including some kind of “irrigation” of the fecal canal.  Um,  , not exactly our idea of pampering.  Not being the birthday gift we were interested in, we immediately pulled the plug on the plan and swapped our “detox” for a massage (phew!).

However, “detoxing is a hot topic right now, and we always get lots of questions about it.  A “detox” can mean different things to different people, even to us, as dietitians.  The premise behind it is to clean out the toxins that accumulate in our bodies–for some, it means a colonic irrigation, which we would have had on our last birthday had we not been completely disgusted by the thought of injecting water (sometimes mixed with herbs or with other liquids) into the colon via the rectum to “remove feces” and had we not known that it could be dangerous.  To others, a detox involves drinking strictly juice, or some other beverage, without consuming any food.  For others, it’s eating only raw foods, or eating “clean,” and cutting out harmful, processed foods that don’t allow the body to function at its best. Whatever your idea of “detoxing” is, here is what you should know before beginning a detoxing regimen of your own.

People looking for a quick fix, and rapid weight loss often turn to the more extreme forms of detoxing to reach their goals.  The most drastic form of detoxing is through medical detoxing, using colonics (like at the spa that we went to) and laxatives.  Although some people claim to feel “lighter” immediately afterwards (who wouldn’t feel lighter after having fecal matter pulled out of their body?), many of those who try it tell us they aren’t the least bit tempted to try it again.   Obviously, it’s far from glamorous. It’s not only unhealthy, it can be dangerous too, especially colonics.  They can disrupt your body’s delicate fluid and electrolyte balances and cause dehydration, as well as anemia and malnutrition, among other health problems.  (Glad we dodged that bullet.)

People who detox consuming only liquids, abstain from consumption of food and either strictly drink juices made from fruits and vegetables or other beverages like spicy lemonade (i.e. in the “Master cleanse which gained attention when Beyonce tried it and lost close to 20 pounds in 14 days and reported being very cranky while on the diet and to quickly gaining back the weight afterwards).  Drinking a healthy juice made from vegetables and fruits can be very beneficial, but not as a substitution for all food.  Those who have “juiced,” reported very unpleasant side effects, such as grogginess, hunger and exhaustion, and if any weight is lost, it’s usually short-lived, and returns with normal eating.  )  Individuals that we know who tried to exercise while on The Master Cleanse found themselves in for a rude-awakening when having to leave the gym with feelings of dizziness even at the start of exercise. (Again, no thank you, we’ll pass on the liquid detox too.)

So if these detoxes have such draw-backs, what’s the secret to a great detox? The secret is that there is no secret! And what most people don’t know is that our body naturally detoxes itself.

A combination of clean eating and exercise is the best way to restart your system.  So the “detox” that we recommend is cutting out caffeine, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and fried food, while increasing fruits and veggies– the safest way to get your body back on track, rid yourself of cravings (sweets after dinner, anyone?), and kick start a healthy way of life. Eat real foods at regular meals throughout the day, drink plenty of water, and exercise (a natural detoxifier, and a must for anyone who wants to get lean!) in order to maximize the benefits of this healthier approach to “detoxing.”  Meet ya for a banana and Greek yogurt after yoga tonight?

 

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For a Get Healthy Guide, delicious recipes and a 10-Day Weight Loss Jumpstart and Detox Plan, check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure!

 

Craving Comfort Foods Part 2

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A few weeks ago we confessed that despite being registered dietitians who know all too well what regularly succumbing to comfort food cravings can do the waistline, the arteries, to blood sugar levels and mood, we too, aren’t immune to them.  Although we’re all for the occasional indulgence (after all, what would life be without a little bit of chocolate?) we still want to enter the holiday season without feeling like our best holiday dress option is a Mrs. Claus costume (check out these healthy comfort food craving swaps).  That’s why last time we shared a tip to help prevent overdoing it when indulging in comfort foods—fill up first on something low in calories like veggies or tea to take the edge off hunger before coming in contact with that food you crave.  Having a craving and being ravenous is a dangerous situation for your waistline as it will be very hard to be rationale and keep the portion size modest. Today, we’ll share a few more of our favorite calorie and fat-saving comfort food swaps.

1.  Comfort food Pasta—with cheese, with butter, you name it, it’s calling you

What to go For:  Last time we gave you spaghetti squash as a sub for all things pasta.  If that didn’t do it for you, try shirataki noodles.  There are several varieties of these, all containing ten calories or less in a serving (about a cup!).  They come in spaghetti, fettuccini, angel hair and more and you can find them in most supermarkets near the tofu.  We just received a sample of Skinny Shirataki Noodles that were fantastic and that did the trick for us, but any should work and hit the spot.

2.  Comfort Food:  Twice Baked Potatoes (see simple recipe below)

What to Go for: Twice-Baked Fingerling Bites.   Instead of using butter, this easy recipe uses I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, a vegetable oil spread instead of butter so it saves your arteries from butter’s artery clogging fat.  It also uses less so it lightens the potatoes from the original comfort food.  Wrap them in portions of 3 so you can get 100 calorie, portion-controlled comfort-food treat.

Twice Baked Fingerling Potatoes

Makes About 20 potato bites

  • 1 package (12 oz.) fingerling potatoes or small red new potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Spread
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 oz.)
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives (optional)

Pierce potatoes with fork or knife, then arrange in microwave-safe casserole dish. Cover with paper towel and microwave at HIGH 4 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Let cool slightly.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Gently scoop some pulp from shells, reserving shells. Combine potato pulp, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Spread, cheese and chives in small bowl. Carefully spread mixture into potato shells with knife, then arrange on baking sheet*. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish, if desired, with a mini dollop of sour cream and additional snipped chives.

*TIP: Can be made ahead up to this point. Cover and refrigerate, or freeze, until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before broiling.

Nutrition Information per potato bite: Calories 30, Calories From Fat 15, Saturated Fat 0.5g, Trans Fat 0g, Total Fat 1.5g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 25mg, Total Carbohydrate 3g, Sugars 0g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Protein 1g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 2%, Iron 0%

3.  Comfort Food: Apple Pie

What to go For:  Baked Apple Graham.  Simply slice an apple into 1/4-1/2 inch-thick slices, sprinkle with 1-1/2 teaspoons  pumpkin pie spice and microwave on high for 5 minutes.  When you remove it from the microwave there will be a sweet syrup from the apple and spice on the plate, put that and the warm apple on a graham cracker with 1 tablespoon Fat Free Redi whip and enjoy!   This treat is 140 calories while a slice of apple pie will set you back about 450 calories.  Holy Apple!

4.  Comfort Food:  Brownies

What to go for:  Pumpkin brownies. Add a can of pumpkin to Devil’s Food Cake and make your brownies in mini muffin tins.  Not only will your brownies be portioned controlled so you don’t even have to cut them, but they’ll pack in fiber and beta carotene for much fewer calories than the real deal and will taste the same!

 

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Chicken Fried Rice Done Healthy

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Skinny, Speedy Walnut Oatmeal Cookies, only 3 ingredients!

 

For a Get Healthy Guide, Check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure

 

Snack Attack – Satisfy the Healthy Way

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It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, your stomach is grumbling, and your energy is starting to plunge. You’ve had lunch yet dinner is at least three to four hours away.  Do you give in to your hunger signals and have a snack? Or do you ignore your stomach and go on with your day?

The good news is that having a small amount of food in between lunch and dinner is a perfect way to curb your hunger and sneak some extra nutrients into your day. Eating something every four hours keeps your blood sugar, or glucose levels more stable. This lends to feeling more energized and alert, since glucose is your brain’s main source of fuel.

Why does is matter what types of foods you choose when snacking? If you reach for less nutrient-rich foods, such as regular potato chips, soda, or candy, a few things may happen. You risk overeating because these items don’t have much “staying power”, since they’re mostly calories without any fiber, protein or nutrients to keep you feeling satisfied. You’ll tend to require more of the food to satisfy your hunger. Also, you miss the opportunity to add energizing and skin-glowing nutrients- to your diet.

Use your afternoon snack as a chance to take in some extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber from wholesome food. Your healthy snack option should be between 100 – 200 calories.  You may need the higher amount to tide you over to prevent overeating at dinner if you’ll be going for hours before mealtime.  (You can test this to see if the higher calorie snack helps).  Go for fewer calories if you’re simply satisfying a craving. Before you run for the bag of potato chips or box of cookies, here are a handful of healthier, satisfying snack options:

  • Baby carrots and hummus (2 tablespoons worth is about 50 calories)
  • An apple with a level tablespoon of peanut butter (or other nut butter), sprinkled with cinnamon
  • Non-fat yogurt topped with one tablespoon of granola
  • Edamame (We love it plain, but you can dip in mustard or low-fat ranch dressing if you wish!)
  • Cucumber with low-fat cottage cheese
  • Several whole-grain crackers with black bean dip and salsa (We like Ry-Krisp crackers-30 to 50 calories a sheet)

If salty and crunchy is what you’re craving, there are healthier alternatives to greasy chips.  Pirate’s Booty is all-natural and has half the fat and fewer calories than regular fried potato chips. Their products are delish—and we were just alerted that they now have half-ounce, 65-calorie multipacks, which are great for an office snack.

We always tell our clients that having a reasonably portioned, nutritious snack is a smart way to keep your energy levels up in the afternoon. They also see that whether they want to perform at their best, stay focused or lose weight and fight cravings, it’s critical for their success.  Make a handful of these healthy snacks readily available so you’ll always be prepared when that craving comes. Choosing a healthy snack is a win-win – you satisfy your craving while filling in the nutrient gaps!

We work with Pirate’s Booty to help them spread the word about their loot.

Lyssie and Tammy

 

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For a Get Healthy Guide, Check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure!

 

5 Power Snacks to Get You through the Holidays

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The holidays are quickly approaching and we can already feel the excitement in the air—people are bustling to buy gifts and busy preparing for holiday parties and family gatherings. As much as we love the holiday time, it can be downright exhausting.  And if you choose sugary snacks or those that lack fiber and protein that seem to be everywhere especially this time of year, you’ll find yourself crashing before you get to your celebration.  Admittedly, we’ve been there more than once, thanks to overdoing it on poor choices ranging from a pumpkin pie sampling to Williams-Sonoma’s peppermint bark, and we don’t recommend it.  After all, choose the wrong snacks and you’ll feel like you woke up in a daze after being been dragged through the snow for miles on the back of Santa’s sled.

The good news is that by choosing the right snacks that contain both satisfying protein and fiber (which usually comes bundled with energy- revving quality carbohydrates), you’ll have the energy to power right through the holidays.  Choose these snacks and those toy-delivering energizer bunnies (a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Claus) will have nothing on you.  Pssst… in fact, you’ll have something on the Claus’s since you won’t have their big bellies—these snacks are all under 200 calories!

  • Low-fat Cheese and Tomato Toast.  When it’s cold outside, this is the perfect, energizing snack.  Our Mom made this frequently when we were growing up.  Simply take a slice of whole wheat bread (fiber-filled, energy-providing carbohydrates) and top it with a slice of tomato and a slice of low-fat mozzarella (for satisfying protein and bone-building calcium) and pop it in the toaster. Voila!
  • Pistachios. Whether you’re shopping for gifts at the mall or in the comfort of your own home, pistachios are the perfect snack, since they’ve got that winning combination of both fiber and protein to keep you feeling satiated.  Plus, they’re portable!  This is one of our faves and we’ve been using it for an afternoon snack to boost us for as long as we can remember.  In fact, pistachios are such a staple in our energizing diet that we now work with Wonderful Pistachios to help others to benefit from their nutritious benefits.
  • Red Peppers and Black Bean Dip.  Red peppers are loaded not only with anti-oxidants, but with fiber too.  They’ll give you a quick burst of energy while the beans in the bean dip will extend that energy boost with fiber and protein.  Red peppers are a staple in our house, and we love combining them with black bean dip, hummus or low-fat yogurt dip—all give us protein to fuel us even longer.
  • Whey Chocolate Covered Popcorn. Make a small bag of fat free popcorn and add 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder. Shake until the powder covers the popcorn.  We love this snack because it instantly quenches our sweet tooth craving and our desire to crunch. Plus the popcorn is packed with energy-providing carbohydrates and fiber and the protein powder gives you that staying power.
  • Non-fat Greek Yogurt with Apples and Cinnamon.  We like to cut an apple into little chunks and stir them right into the yogurt, and then we add a dash of cinnamon.   Our clients tend to like their yogurt with cinnamon as a dip for the apples. Whichever you prefer, rest assured you will be getting an energy surge from the apple’s fiber- packed carbohydrates.  The creamy, satisfying, protein-filled yogurt will prevent energy crashes and keep you powering through.

What is your favorite snack to help you get through the holidays?

 

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For a Get Healthy Guide Check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure!