Simple Sugar Swaps

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Written by The Nutrition Twins

Lately a lot of our clients have expressed interest in cutting their sugar consumption from unnaturally occurring sugar sources.  Most of them want to start by cutting the sugar that they add to their foods themselves in coffee, tea, oatmeal, et cetera. For those clients, we suggest using natural flavor-boosters instead of adding refined sugar (including honey and agave, which are still processed sweeteners—sorry!) or sugar substitutes. For example, a dash of cinnamon adds a surprisingly sweet taste, and a small serving of fruit  sweetens food naturally while adding vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber.

However, aside from ditching the sugar you add to food yourself, there are easy swaps you can make that will save loads of sugar without sacrificing flavor. Check these out:

Breakfast Swap 1: Instead of breakfast cereals packed with added sugars, opt for healthier alternatives with little added sugar.

  • Sugary Snack: Frosted Flakes (12 g sugar per cup)
  • Sugar-Slashing Swap: Post’s Shredded Wheat Original (1 g sugar per cup). Or try plain oatmeal—our personal favorite–which contains less than a gram of sugar per serving.
  • Savings: 11 to 12 g of sugar

Breakfast Swap 2: Instead of flavored yogurts packed with added sugars choose a plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries

  • Sugary Snack: Strawberry Yoplait original (26 g sugar)
  • Sugar-Slashing Swap: Fage fat-free plain yogurt (7 g sugar)
  • Savings: 19 g sugar

Afternoon Snack Swap 1: Instead of a nutrition bar full of added sugars, choose a naturally low sugar snack bar.

  • Sugary Snack: CLIF Banana Nut Bread bar (21 g sugar)
  • Sugar-Slashing Swap: KIND Nuts & Spices bar (4 to 5 g sugar)
  • Savings: About 17 g sugar

Afternoon Snack Swap 2: Trade a can of soda for a carbonated, naturally flavored sparkling water. We’re obsessed with doing this and even have our own seltzer making machines!

  • Sugary Snack: Coca-Cola 12 oz. can (39 g sugar)
  • Sugar-Slashing Swap: Poland Spring flavored sparkling water (0 g sugar)
  • Savings: 39 g sugar

Dessert Swap 1: Instead of slice of fruit cobbler have a bowl of fresh berries drizzled with a 1 tsp honey, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, powdered sugar, or maple syrup.

  • Sugary Snack: Slice of Mrs. Smith’s Apple Pie (18 g sugar in 1/6th of a pie)
  • Sugar-Slashing Swap: Small bowl of blueberries and strawberries with 1 tsp of honey (5g added sugar) or chocolate sauce (4 g sugar)
  • Savings: Up to 13 g sugar

Dessert Swap 2: Instead of a piece of chocolate cake select a small piece of dark chocolate. 

  • Sugary Snack: 1 slice of Pepperidge Farm 3-Layer Chocolate Fudge Cake (26 g sugar in 1/8 of a cake)
  • Sugar-Slashing Swap: Two Dark Chocolate Godiva Gems (5g of sugar each) 
  • Savings: 16 g sugar

Have you tried to cut added sugar out of your diet?  What did you cut?  Did you switch to a natural sweetener?  Let us know in the comments!

 

For more like this you may like…

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

 

In Search of a Weight Loss Magic Bullet…Could Raspberry Ketones Be The Answer?

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Written by The Nutrition Twins

As holiday goodies seem to stare us in the face everywhere we go, the thought of being able to indulge without watching our waistlines grow is heavenly.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something we could take that would burn off a few of those extra calories?   We’re with you if you’d love to dive into that extra decadent brownie at the holiday party without having to pay the price later.

If you’re like many of our clients, you may have seen a guest on the Dr. Oz show touting the weight loss benefits of raspberry ketones and you’re probably curious about them.

Here’s the low-down on raspberry ketones…

If you’ve ever been at the market and smelt the sweet smell of a nearby container of raspberries, it’s actually the raspberry ketones that you smell —the main aromatic compounds found in raspberries. Raspberry ketones chemical structure has some similarities with synephrine, which is a stimulant, and compounds that have the ability to “speed you up” are continuously being looked at for weight loss.  After all, if something “speeds you up” (makes your body burn more calories while you’re sitting still), who wouldn’t want it?

The good news is that raspberry ketones have been studied.   The bad news is that they haven’t been studied very much.  In fact, there have only been three very small studies and they weren’t performed on humans.  Nor were they published in major respected medical journals.  And there’s a good chance they were funded by an organization that had a vested interest in the success of raspberry ketones.

But let’s go back to the point that the three studies done on raspberry ketones were conducted on rodents and not humans because there’s one thing that’s certain;  humans certainly aren’t rodents and don’t necessarily respond the way rodents do.  Perhaps this explains why some of our new clients have come to us disappointed after having tried raspberry ketones hoping to see some results.  They simply didn’t.

In the studies done on the rodents, the rodents did gain less fat and raspberry ketones helped the rats to breakdown fat.  This is interesting and we’d love to see some studies performed on humans.  After all, how can we know which dosage to give humans if it’s only been tested on rodents?  Perhaps this may also be a reason that our clients who have tried raspberry ketones haven’t seen success.    And we do have to keep in mind that even if researchers knew how much to give humans, since supplements are not regulated or enforced by a governmental agency like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they may not contain ingredient amounts that the label may claim they do.

As registered dietitians, it would be irresponsible of us as professionals to recommend raspberry ketones to our clients at this time.   However, we look forward to seeing more research on the subject.   For now, we’ll stick to eating raspberries and other healthy foods and to getting plenty of exercise and we’ll continue to recommend that our clients do the same.

However, if you decide you’d like to try raspberry ketones, we suggest that you read the ingredient label carefully as many other stimulants are often added to help “speed you up” and feelings of shakiness and heart palpitations are possible.  Also remember that no reliable clinical research has evaluated this supplement for safety or adverse reactions.  And if you’ve tried them please let us know your experience!

For more like this you may like…

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

Is Organic Produce Worth the Price?

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Written by The Nutrition Twins

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As registered dietitians, we always get asked about whether organic fruits and veggies are really worth the extra money.  We completely understand why this is such a popular question, as we’ve personally experienced shell shock after having to pay nearly $5 for a single organic bell pepper (versus less than$1 for a non-organic one). Should you save your cash and go with conventionally grown produce? After all, if you pass on the organic produce, you’ll have more money to spend on the cute Lululemon outfit you’ve been eyeing.

The truth  is sometimes going organic is worth the hefty price tag and sometimes it’s not. One of the big reasons people purchase organic produce is to limit their exposure to pesticides, which are used to protect the plant and kill the pests that eat it.  Unfortunately, many pesticides also pose health risks to humans and have been linked to a variety of issues,such as hormone disruption, skin, eye, and lung irritations,and cancer.  So obviously, lowering the risk of your pesticide exposure is ideal.

There are two questions that you should ask yourself to determine if you should buy organic.  First: “Does this fruit or veggie contain a lot of pesticides?” You’ll find your answer in the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which ranks the most highly and least highly contaminated produce. Keep in mind that the produce was washed before being tested for pesticide residues, so even if you scrub these items as hard as you can, it’s not going to change this list. If you can afford to buy the entire Dirty Dozen in the organic variety, go ahead.  Otherwise, ask yourself the second question: “How often am I eating this produce?”  If you’re eating it only occasionally, save yourself money and buy conventional. For example, if you just have celery (#4 on the Dirty Dozen List) as a sidekick to your monthly splurge on buffalo wings, there’s no need to worry about pesticides.  On the other hand, if you chow down on red peppers (#2 on the Dirty list) like we do, you should invest in the organic variety.  Or if you’re blueberry obsessed like many of our clients who eat blueberries with every meal, it’s a good time to go for the organic variety, since this fruit is the third highest in chemical residues.

Luckily there are some foods you don’t need to worry about at all. For example, we eat a ton of red cabbage (we like to think it’s because we have Hungarian ancestors so our taste buds naturally crave it). Cabbage, along with 14 other produce items, made the EWG’s Clean 15 List, (those lowest in pesticides). So if you’re a cabbage- lover like we are, don’t feel obligated to buy the organic variety. We certainly don’t. 

That being said, from the thousands of scientific studies we’ve read, we can confidently tell you that one of the best things that you do for yourself is to eat more produce, organic or not. (We wrote The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure for this very reason!).  Bottom line: if you want to lower your risk of obesity,  heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, eat more fruits and vegetables.  See you at the salad bar!

For more like this you may like…

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

Think You’re Eating Healthy at Brunch? Maybe Not…

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Although you may assume that healthy menu items like oatmeal and veggie omelets are the way to go for morning meals, they may actually secretly sabotage your waistline. The key to keeping your choice low-cal is to know how to order it. Even we–a couple of experts trained to recognize possible food pitfalls–have noticed how easy it is to get tricked. Here’s how to avoid getting hoodwinked by two seemingly healthy choices.

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1. Oatmeal and a Hard-Boiled Egg

What makes it great: Oatmeal is high in fiber and low in fat. It’s heart healthy and is an unprocessed whole grain that’s a great source of energy revving carbohydrates.  Coupled with some protein from the egg, you’d think you can’t go wrong…  

Why it can sabotage: Large portion size and preparation method
Last weekend Lyssie strayed from her usual veggie egg white omelet order in lieu of this. When her meal came, the portion was so large (about 2-1/2 cups of oatmeal–more than twice as much as a standard serving) that the calories soared above 500.  Add the hard-boiled egg and it was a 600 calorie breakfast, roughly three times higher in calories than the serving of oatmeal and egg you’d have at home. You could have had two pancakes with syrup and butter for fewer calories! Keep in mind that if the brunch restaurant uses whole milk and butter, or sugary toppings, the number of calories only grows.  

How to keep it lean: Request a small cup of oatmeal rather than a bowl, or don’t be afraid to ask for a doggy bag and take half of it home. Also request it be made with skim or 1% milk.

2.   Veggie and Egg-White Omelet

What makes it great: This is our personal brunch go-to meal, and we love it! One egg white is only 15 calories and 4 grams of protein.  So you can get a large, satiating protein-packed egg dish for less than 150 calories. The veggies add nutrients and fiber to help to fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied.  We opt for a side of fruit or a slice of whole grain toast to round out the meal with healthy, energy-boosting carbohydrates. This meal is a power meal—and all for about 250 to 300 calories.

Why it can sabotage: The preparation method and ingredient add-ons
Restaurants cook omelets in oil or butter—and they often sauté the veggies in oil or butter too before adding them to the omelet. Just 2 tablespoons of oil pack 250 calories. It’s not uncommon to get 300 or more calories from the oil or butter alone—more than the meal itself!   Another possible saboteur? Cheese.  Skip it and the 300 or more calories it adds.  Instead add a teaspoon of grated parmesan on top for 20 calories.

How to Keep it Lean: Ask that your eggs are cooked “dry, without butter or oil”.  Request that they use spray in the pan or nothing—usually there’s plenty of oil on the grill left behind from the person’s meal before you that they don’t need to add any grease. Note: It’s okay if you prefer to have the whole egg rather than just the egg white, just know you’ll get anywhere from 100 to 300 calories more depending on how many eggs they use. 

Tell us: What do you order at brunch?

 

For more like this you may like…

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

 

What Does a Nutritionist Do To Eat Smarter During Holiday Travel?

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Written by The Nutrition Twins

Every time we return from traveling our clients ask us what we do to prevent weight gain on the road.

First, let us tell you, it doesn’t’ come easy for us either.  Just like anyone who wants to succeed, we have to plan and it takes work!  After all, get stuck at the airport after a plane delay without backup food and nutritionist or not, your best option could be a burger and fries.  Not exactly waist-line friendly.  Although as registered dietitians and personal trainers we do have a little extra motivation to keep the weight off– if we come back 10 pounds heavier after every trip, it wouldn’t be good for our practice.  So we feel for ya, it’s tough to get inspired when on vacation!  But if any of these strategies appeal to you, they work.  Here’s what we do when we travel.

We cut red peppers into strips and put them into zip-loc bags and pack pistachios to take with us for our travel day.  Red peppers are sweet and crunchy and filling because they’re loaded with fiber and water so they really help to fill your stomach.  Pistachios are the ideal snack as they’re not only easy to transport but they’ve got both fiber and protein to make a satisfying snack that squashes cravings for something savory and crunchy without compromising your healthy eating goals.  You get 30 of them for 100 calories.

  • This snack is necessary because without fail, when we get to our destination we are hungry and we have to wait to get to our next meal.  So this snack takes the edge off hunger so we don’t eat a bag of chips or a candy bar waiting for dinner or go cocoa for cocoa puffs (or for creamy pasta or whatever tempts us) when we get to dinner because we’re ready to devour anything and everything that comes our way.  And this past weekend on the way to South Beach when Tammy’s husband picked up candy at the airport for later for the trip, Tammy was able to pass up the candy, knowing she was prepared with her peppers and pistachios for snacks.

If we’re traveling for more than 3 hours, we pack a meal. We make sure to include a high-fiber carbohydrate like fruit and veggies or beans for energy and then a lean protein to keep us feeling satisfied and to extend the energy boost of the carbohydrate.  Often we bring big salads with plenty of veggies and turkey or chicken and a piece of fruit.  We have packed tuna or salmon (in the seal-pack pouch before—it’s one of our faves—and travels so well!), but of course this is a meal we have when we don’t plan to eat it on the plane next to other passengers.  After all, we’re not in the business of creating enemies.

We pack apples  to take to breakfast so even if we have a hard time finding food, or finding something healthy or if we’re on the run, we have something—and it’s usually fairly easy to find a string cheese, yogurt or hardboiled egg to accompany the apple.   You can just bring one or two so that you have them for the first day and get more while you are at your destination.

We bring sneakers.  Although we make it our priority to exercise (again, it’s our job!), even if you don’t exercise, you can at least burn some extra calories walking around your vacation spot.  We try to do pushups and sit-ups in our hotel room too if there is no fitness center o if we don’t have time to lift weights.

What do you do to keep the extra lb’s from creeping on when you travel?

 

For more like this you may like…

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

 

Juicing 101

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Written by The Nutrition Twins

Juice shops are popping up everywhere and if you’re not dabbling in “juicing” you probably have a friend who swears by it.  You may be wondering what it’s all about and if you can skip eating produce if you drink the juice.

When you “juice”, typically, a juicing machine extracts the juice from whole fruits or vegetables. The processing results in the nutrient-rich skin and valuable vitamins and minerals being left behind. Juicing also removes the pulp, which contains fiber. You can add some of the leftover pulp back into the juice or use it in cooking to add nutrients back, but many people just toss out the pulp. If you don’t end up consuming what the juicer removed, you still need to eat your fruits and veggies to reap all of their health promoting benefits.

Note: If you blend your produce rather than juicing it, you avoid this issue.

There are some reasons to consider juicing:

  • If you don’t eat many fruits or vegetables but enjoy drinking the juice you’ll be able to get some produce in your diet and some of the nutrients you’d otherwise likely skip
  • If you enjoy juicing you may find you are getting more leafy greens than ever
  • If you’re opting for juices instead of less healthy foods and drinks you were formerly consuming

More “Juice”:

  • “Cold-pressed” juice is made in a machine used to produce the juice that doesn’t produce as much heat as traditional juicers.  Heat destroys some of nutrients and enzymes so cold-pressed juices are more nutritious because they keep a larger amount of the nutrients intact.
  • If you are going to make your own juice rather than buying them, juicers aren’t cheap.  Typically juicers that don’t require as much cleaning are at least $150 but often closer to several hundred dollars.  This could be a pricey investment if you end up not using it more than for a short trend.
  • Most people find they have to ease into the flavor of juices and it’s much more palatable with fruit added.

Juicing for weight loss? Be cautious. If you are juicing with fruit in the mix be aware that calories add up. The average piece of fruit will provide just 4 ounces of juice. This means you may have to juice 4 pieces of fruit to get 12-16 ounces—that’s   at least 240 calories! Eat four pieces of fruit and you know it, but drink those same four pieces and you’ll likely not realize.

  • Most veggies add up much less quickly –3 cups of leafy greens are about 25 calories compared to most pieces of fruit that are 60-80 calories each.  Pure veggie juices are ideal but most people need a little sweetening with fruit.
  • If you’re relying on a juice fast to lose weight be aware that simply drinking fruits and vegetables won’t give you the protein that you need to maintain your muscle tissue and is not recommended, especially for any longer than a few days.  A healthy weight loss is generated from a balanced diet and exercising of course!

Want to juice and don’t know how to get started?  Try this recipe. Simply add these ingredients in your juicer

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 large handfuls spinach
  • 1 large or 2 small cucumbers
  • 1/2 small lemon (peeled)
  • 1 red apple or 1 pear
  • 1 small carrot,

Process all ingredients in a juicer, shake and serve.

 

For more like this you may like…

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