A Cranberry, White & Blue 4th of July

You know how they say that twins have the same mannerisms and matching responses and reactions to questions and in conversations?  For us, this is mostly true, but it’s not always the case. However, there are particular situations where it’s a given that we’ll respond in identical ways.  For instance, mention our elementary school, summer vacations in Ocean City, Maryland and in Duck, North Carolina and the 4th of July– and it’s a guarantee that we’ll both instantly smile and get starry, dreamy-looking eyes, as we’re flooded with fun-filled memories of our innocent childhood days.  And when it comes to the 4th of July, this day was always one of our favorite days of the year, filled with sun, fun, and lots of red, white and blue—everything from our star-spangled bathing suits to the foods that we ate.  And to this day, the 4th of July is a guarantee that we’ll both be making sure it’s every bit as fabulous as it always was!

As registered dietitian nutritionists, it’s so much fun to make this holiday all that we remember it to be by using red, white and blue foods.  Here you’ll find our twin tendencies kicking in and even though we try not to make the same thing as each other, there’s a 99% certainty that we’ll both use the same foods. We can’t help it. First, we both love the opportunity to celebrate our holiday in-style, and second we know that anyone who eats our food is expecting to be getting some nutritional bang for their star-spangled bite!

So, check out what we’ll be whipping up, and why!

Cranberry BBQ Sauce!  And Cranberry Juice Cubes!

Betcha didn’t know that cranberries, the all-American superfruit, are one of three commercially cultivated fruits native to North America, and this is just one reason they are ideal at your 4th of July celebration (as well as in all of your summer BBQs!).

And with their gorgeous bursting red color, comes quite the nutrition bang. Check out these awesome cranberry health facts:

  • All cranberry products, including fresh and frozen cranberries, cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries and sauces, contain unique, health-promoting flavonoids called PACs. PACs help reduce the incidence of certain infections, maintain a healthy urinary tract, improve heart health and reduce inflammation associated with chronic disease and aging.

 

  • A new study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking 8-ounces of cranberry juice a day reduced the number of symptomatic UTIs by nearly 40 percent in women with recurrent UTIs.

 

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Cranberry Juice Cubes

These little magical delights are simply cranberry juice frozen in ice cube trays.  They jazz up water or seltzer with great flavor and nutrients—and make the holiday glasses look even more festive.

Cranberry Cubes empty glass - logo Cranberry Cubes in Water LOGO

 

 

CRANBERRY-BBQ-SAUCE

Cranberry BBQ Sauce

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup minced yellow onions

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. chili powder

1 ½ Tbsp. tomato paste

1 ½ cups cranberry sauce

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. dark molasses

¼-½ cup water, if needed

Directions

  1. In a sauce pan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Mix in garlic, mustard and chili powder and continue cooking 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 more minute.
  2. Add cranberry sauce, vinegar and molasses and bring to a simmer, whisking often until mixture becomes smooth. Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens. Add water to mixture if it gets too thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Reheat before using.

Serving suggestion: Use as a condiment or on grilled vegetables, lean meats or poultry.

Nutrition Information Per 2 Tbsp. Serving: Calories 120, Calories from Fat 20, Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat 0g, Total Fat 2g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 25mg, Total Carbohydrate 24g, Sugars 19g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 0g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 2%, Iron 4%

“Recipe courtesy of the Cranberry Marketing Committee”

Note: Cranberry products, including cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries and sauces, offer the same health benefits of fresh cranberries, but may be sweetened to satisfy a variety of taste preferences

For more health information or research, please visit CranberryInstitute.com

Cranberry_Cube_Collage

Chickpea Blondies (Gluten-free, grain-free)

We often describe our parents, who raised us in a loving, healthy, cook-it-from-scratch, granola-making, wholesome home, as being basically hippies, minus the drugs. 😉 Long before it was considered cool to eat and buy locally grown food or to belong to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), our mom was all over it.  Before people were avoiding pesticides, our mom was on the case.  And when the current plant-based movement didn’t even exist and before it was considered cool to worry about sustainability, and saving the planet, our mom was serving us yummy spaghetti and lentil-“meatballs”– and bean “burgers” and vegetarian split pea soup had a regular spot on the weekly dinner menu too.  Our mom was simply out to keep us—and the planet healthy.  And you could see it all over her granola and chickpea covered apron.  🙂

chickpea-blondies-peanutbutter-honey-darkchocolate-coconut-logo

Our mom was eating conscientiously before it was chic.  She didn’t realize that she was savvy and ahead of her time, creating most of our family meals out pulses–the delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods you know as dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas—unaware that years later, 2016 would be named International Year of Pulses (IYP) by the United Nations.

Now, as registered dietitian nutritionists, the coolest thing for us is that everything is coming full circle since we grew up with pulses and already love them and toot their horn (couldn’t resist! 😉) and our mom had taught us what the UN is currently acknowledging about pulses.  We get to deliver the amazing message about pulses and encourage you to enjoy them more often and take the pulse pledge.

To take the pledge you’ll simply commit to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks and join a global food movement!

Here’s why you’ll love it! Eating dry peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas helps reduce your carbon footprint – and it’s great for your health. Every 1/2 cup of cooked pulses delivers 9 grams of protein.

Pulses are:

  • nutritious (packed with protein, fiber, iron, potassium, antioxidants, and more!)
  • versatile and tasty (ummm… our yummy spaghetti and “meat”balls were made of lentils! our succulent “burgers” we made from beans—and just wait ‘till you check out the delectable sweet recipe below)
  • affordable (ah, yes….our mom didn’t let us forget that dad was a phD student with 3 kids to feed, so we were taught at an early age that pulses are one of the most cost effective proteins in the world)
  • sustainable (growing up, as proud owners of a “compost heap” in the wooded section of our suburban back yard, we were taught a thing or two about how pulses enrich the soil where they grow, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. Plus, they can grow in harsh environments and have a low carbon footprint and hardly require any irrigation (they’re water-efficient).

 

And just in case you we’re wondering what pulses do for our crazy sweet tooth that we work hard to keep in check—we’ve got this scrumptious golden nugget below.  It’s a throwback to the Blondies our mom used to bake. Only these are even healthier and tastier, if you can believe it! We can’t!  And the protein and the fiber in the pulses help to keep you satiated.  Regardless, it’s hard not to eat the whole batch…they’re that good!

 

chickpea_blondies_horizontal_logoChickpea Blondies

Makes 16 servings

Chickpea_blondies_ingredients_logoIngredients

1, 15-oz can chickpeas, also may be found as garbanzo beans

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, plus 1 Tbsp, reserve for top

1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, reserve for sprinkling

Chickpea_blondies_tray_vertical_logo

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  1. Spritz an 8×8 pan with oil in a spray container.
  1. Rinse chickpeas and place in food processor. If using a blender, after rinsing chickpeas, remove their skin before placing in the blender by pinching the chick pea between your fingers. The skin will easily fall off and will take about five extra minutes and will ensure a very smooth blended product.
  1. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor and blend until completely mixed.
  1. Fold in 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips.
  1. Spread batter evenly in pan, top with reserved 1 Tbsp of chocolate chips
  1. Bake for approximately 18 – 20 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven. You do not want to overcook these so check on them to see if they are ready sooner in your oven. They should be moist and a little brown around the edges. Insert a toothpick, if it comes out clean they are done. Cool pan on a wire rack until pan is cool to touch, sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes.
  1. Cut into squares. Makes 16 blondies
  1. Delicious immediately or cool in refrigerator for a delicious cold treat. If you prefer them to be more firm, simply allowing them to cool in the fridge.

 

Nutrition Facts Per 1 Serving: 123 Calories, 6 g Fat, 2 g Saturated Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 35 mg Sodium, 15 g Carbohydrate, 2 g Fiber, 8 g Sugar, 3 g Protein

 

The Nutrition Twins work with the Pulse Councils to help people to eat more healthfully and encourage them to take the Pulse Pledge.

Chickpea_Blondies_Collage

Chickpea Blondies (Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free)
 
Nutrition Facts Per 1 Serving: 123 Calories, 6 g Fat, 2 g Saturated Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 35 mg Sodium, 15 g Carbohydrate, 2 g Fiber, 8 g Sugar, 3 g Protein
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1, 15-oz can chickpeas, also may be found as garbanzo beans
  • ½ cup all natural peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips, plus 1 Tbsp, reserve for top
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, reserve for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spritz an 8x8 pan with oil in a spray container.
  3. Rinse chickpeas and place in food processor. If using a blender, after rinsing chickpeas, remove their skin before placing in the blender by pinching the chick pea between your fingers. The skin will easily fall off and will take about five extra minutes and will ensure a very smooth blended product.
  4. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor and blend until completely mixed.
  5. Fold in ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips.
  6. Spread batter evenly in pan, top with reserved 1 Tbsp of chocolate chips
  7. Bake for approximately 18 – 20 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven. You do not want to overcook these so check on them to see if they are ready sooner in your oven. They should be moist and a little brown around the edges. Insert a toothpick, if it comes out clean they are done. Cool pan on a wire rack until pan is cool to touch, sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes.
  8. Cut into squares. Makes 16 blondies
  9. Delicious immediately or cool in refrigerator for a delicious cold treat. If you prefer them to be more firm, simply allowing them to cool in the fridge.

3 Pieces of Nutrition Advice You Should IGNORE

When we were growing up, our wholesome, granola baking, cook-it-from-scratch mom taught us many healthy habits that we still practice today, including-

1) Satisfying our sweet tooth with her healthy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (we now make them in 5 minutes in the microwave!) & strengthening our arms by scrubbing the dishes clean using what she would call “elbow grease”.

2) Creating nourishing meals from protein, a fiber-filled carb & veggies. Open Faced Mediterranean Veggie & Tuna Sandwich, anyone?

3) Never skipping breakfast (or any meal for that matter!)- This was even a key piece in one of our weight loss books.

BUT times have changed—check out the video below to find out why we no longer recommend breakfast for everyone.  And you’ll see 3 Pieces of Nutrition Advice You Should Ignore!

11 Ways to Cut Calories Without Eating Less

Yes, you can slash calories without starving! This article that we contributed to, originally on Fitbie.com shows you how to do it from sipping healthful broths to loading up on veggies.  We kept the tips from other experts too since all of these tips can play a critical part in your weight loss success!

There’s no way around it: To lose weight, you need to cut calories. But eating less is a surefire way to feel dissatisfied after every meal. Instead of shrinking your portions, bulk up meals with foods that will fill you up without weighing you down, like fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, suggests Barbara Rolls, author of “The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet” and director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior at Penn State University. These healthy eats pack fewer calories per bite than higher-fat fare.

Add veggies to everything

Load your meals with vegetables so there’s less room for higher-calorie meat and grains. At lunch, you can stuff your chicken or bean wrap with lettuce, tomato, grated carrots, sprouts, bell peppers and sliced cucumber, suggest registered dietitians Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, authors of “Fire Up Your Metabolism: 9 Proven Principles for Burning Fat and Losing Weight Forever.” At dinner, you can still enjoy carb-heavy favorites like casseroles and pasta by bulking them up with more veggies.

Fill up on fruit

Select fruits that contain the most water, and make plenty of room for them on your plate. Opt for watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches, oranges, raspberries, apples and blueberries over higher-calorie bananas and plantains, advises Rolls. A cup of sliced banana contains 133 calories, but you’d have to eat more than two cups of strawberries or peaches to take in the same number of calories.

Start with soup or salad

Starting your meal with a broth-based soup or a salad with light dressing can help you eat less over the course of a meal, according to researchers at Penn State University. “It fills you up with fluid (or veggies) without giving you a ton of calories, and helps you feel more satisfied,” explains registered dietitian Andrea Giancoli, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Opt for egg whites

Science also suggests that eating eggs can help you keep your weight in check. Overweight adults who ate two eggs for breakfast (as part of a low-calorie diet) consumed fewer calories later in the day, compared with those who ate the same calories’ worth of bagels, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity. Cut calories — and cholesterol — using egg whites or egg substitute in place of whole eggs, adds Rolls. A large egg is about 80 calories, the whites from two large eggs contain 34 calories.

Switch to low-fat dairy

When you make the switch from whole milk to fat-free milk, you can drink almost twice as much for the same number of calories, says Rolls. A 5.3-ounce glass of whole milk weighs in at 100 calories, while 9.3 ounces of fat-free milk equals 100 calories.

Look for leaner sources of protein

Shrimp, tilapia, light tuna in water and roasted turkey breast are packed with protein but not fat and calories, says Rolls. For 150 calories, you can eat 44 grams of sausage, 68 grams of 80 percent lean ground beef, 77 grams of London Broil, 91 grams of chicken breast or 119 grams of snapper.

Select less-dense desserts

A half-cup of frozen yogurt contains about 110 calories, while a half-cup of premium ice cream weighs in at 290 calories. Or pick fruit instead of cake or cookies to fill up on water and fiber, suggest Lakatos and Shames.

Buy it whipped

Whipped cream cheese and butter come with added air and contain fewer calories than regular spreads. For example, 28 grams of Philadelphia Original cream cheese contain 100 calories, while the whipped variety contains 80 calories. Just don’t think that buying the lighter item gives you license to eat more.

Pick a puffy snack

If you want a salty snack that you can eat more than one handful of, opt for popcorn. “That way you get to indulge in the whole bag,” said Giancoli. She recommends popping kernels on the stove with a small amount of oil or buying 94 percent fat-free 100-calorie bags.

Go raw

You don’t get much food for your calories when you munch on crackers, cookies and cereal bars — even ones with dried fruit and whole grains, says Rolls. That’s because they contain very little water. A quarter-cup of raisins contains 54 calories, but you can enjoy an entire cup of grapes for 62 calories.

Dilute dressings and dips

Topping your salad with a creamy dressing can add hundreds of calories. You can cut calories and fat by “extending” the dressing, says registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, author of “Read It Before You Eat It.” “Try mixing your dressing with lemon juice, a mashed avocado or plain, no-fat Greek yogurt,” she suggested.

Flat Belly Tips for Your Vacation & How to Arrive Bloat-Free & Confident (&Stay That Way!)

As registered dietitians and personal trainers we find that we get a lot of questions about tips for getting a flat belly when people are heading off for vacation.  We completely get it –and relate to not wanting to look bloated when arriving at your destination–whether you’re stepping into a bathing suit, a dress, or any outfit, you want to look and feel your best!  So if anything related to your tummy causes you angst before your vacay, believe us, you’re not alone–and we can help!

We think you’ll appreciate our client “Suzi’s” struggle:

Suzi came through our door right before spring break, panicking and telling us, “I bloat on the plane—my entire body swells up– and I’m so constipated when I arrive at my destination that I look six months pregnant! And it puts so much pressure on me because I’m heading off to my vacation when I’ve only partially met my weight loss goals and I know that on top of it all I’ll be fighting this extra bloat! I’m petrified to  arrive feeling so lousy and out of shape and like all the hard work I did to prepare for this trip was in vain. What can I do to look and feel better? Help!”

 

Oh, hang in there Suzy! We can help!

 

Can you relate to Suzi? We certainly can! Years ago, before getting our nutrition education and before working with so many great clients, we ended up looking and feeling like a mess when we arrived at our beach destination vacation in Florida! What a disaster!

 

Since so many of you have written to us and asked for help with this, we thought the best way to help you would be to share some of the tips we shared with Suzi and with many of our clients.  You may have heard some of this before, but now you’ll know why they are “must-do’s!”  So here you go!

 

Headed on a plane or road trip? Do This (days leading up to the trip and during your travel):

  1.  Water, water and more water. Water not only will keep you hydrated, stave off dehydration headaches, moisturize sullen and dry looking skin and eyes, prevent mistaking hunger for thirst, but it also will help to flush sodium and other bloating culprits out of your body so you can arrive feeling bloat free. It also helps push waste out of your colon for an even flatter belly. Sip water before you leave for your travels and continuously during your travels. Skip sodium packed tomato juice and bloating soda and seltzer (the carbonation puts excess gas and bubbles in your stomach– -and no one wants that!  And before you leave, we highly recommend sipping one of these “flushing” drinks between meals (or with them too) to keep your mind and body on the healthy track:

Cool Citrus Cucumber Detox

Apple Cider Vinegar & Lime “Detox” Drink

Cucumber Blueberry Water Flush

Lemon Ginger Detox drink

Mixed Citrus Ginger Flush

Spicy_Metabolism_drink_booster1

 

2. Go to town on veggies— fill half your plate with them for the days leading up to when you leave so that you’ll have less room for the heavier stuff (carbs and protein)– this will help you to shed some belly fat.  When you travel, do whatever it takes to stock your carry-on with vegetables so you can munch on them on the plane. If you’re unable to stop before the airport to get veggies at a local grocery, deli or bodega (or even drugstore, as many now have veggies!), then load up on salads and veggie crudité at the airport deli or restaurant. Vegetables are packed with water, so they’ll help you to stay hydrated, plus they’re packed with fiber to get your digestive tract moving, pushing out wastes, salt and toxins from your colon along with unsightly belly bulges from all-to-familiar travel constipation. Plus, you’ll automatically feel healthier and immediately get your mind and body back on the healthy track knowing that you’re loading up on antioxidant-rich, super low calorie fare instead of typical fatty fare that is associated with travel.

When you’re home try these veggie recipes

Colorful Detox Salad

Roasted Detoxifying Veggies

Caramelized Cauliflower with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice

Roasted_cauliflower-colander

 

3. Zip up Your Abs– We rely on this and it truly makes a huge flat-belly difference!  For the days leading up to your trip before you leave and when you’re sitting on the plane, activate your abs by squeezing them in tight and pulling them back against your spine as you exhale. Think of zipping your abs together by using your muscles to contract your abs by pulling in from the center—think about pulling everything in from a vertical line from your belly button and up to between your breastbone and pulling everything in and back towards your spine. Think zipping together. Hold for a count of 10 as you continue to exhale. Slowly release and repeat for 10 reps at least three times throughout your flight, but ideally as much as possible. Not only will this create good posture, it will also wake up the ab muscles and make it easier to keep your abs in, preventing them from looking bloated. Also, breathing out and pushing air out of the stomach while pulling the muscles in tight helps to flatten your stomach, so you’ll be a step ahead of the game.” Bonus: Your abs will be warmed up for when you’re at your destination and need to keep your abs tight! 😉  You can see the video for an example here in this post.
4.  As you’re sitting on the plane do toe taps. It’s easy and painless—you don’t even have to stand up—but it gets the blood circulating in your legs and wakes up your whole body. And it helps to prevent swollen legs and ankles. It interestingly can also prevent blood clots, which surprisingly can happen at any age after sitting too long. Better yet, walk to the back of the plane and do calf raises—this works even better for pumping the blood through the legs and also strengthens the calves. The shapelier the calves are, the better the rest of the legs look! 🙂

 

Once you arrive at your destination, Do This:

 

 

An Easy At-Your-Desk Exercise for a Flat Belly

Train your belly to be flat & fight constipation with this move you can do at your desk.
If you sit for a long period of time, you may notice your digestion is not as good as when you’re active.
Try this helpful digestion aid:
1. Suck in your stomach as far as you can, then stick it out as far as you can–
2. When you breathe out, push the air out of your stomach, so it makes it flat and deflate like a balloon.
3. When you breathe in, allow your stomach to expand like a balloon being blown up.
4. Repeat 20-30 times.
This small exercise helps digestion, gets your blood flowing, and exercises your abdominal muscles.  You’ll prevent muffin-top bloat from constipation and you’ll activate your abs, training them to stay contracted and tight, rather than loosey goosey!
Looking for other Flat-Belly Moves?
Try these!
The Reverse Plank (with optional kick)
The Plank: Be sure to read directions so that you ensure you do the exercise correctly to ensure a flat tummy!