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Our 4 Secrets To Squashing Sweet Cravings

You may think that because we’re veggie, ginger and turmeric-loving registered dietitian nutritionists that we’d have no room for a sweet tooth. Ha! If only! We have a killer sweet tooth that we work hard to keep in check. We’ve always said we inherited our strong affinity for sweets (to put it mildly) from our Grandma Bubbles who was known in our family for her love of sugar. As kids we wondered how it was possible that any kid wouldn’t sneak sweets every time they were left home alone with a sitter (here’s looking at you, chocolate chips)! Now, we understand what draws someone to the foods they adore, and we’ve spent years seeking out the best strategies to help keep those foods from getting the best of them. We’re all for enjoying your favorite sweets in moderation (gosh knows we do!) but, it’s priceless to know how to tame your inner sugar beast without any added sweetener. 🙂

Here’s how to do it:

1) Prevent your energy from ever getting so low that you need a quick pick-me up (sugar).

This is critical for us (and our clients). Personally, if we don’t eat right or sleep well, our energy dips and it’s easy to succumb to chocolate.

• Fiber and protein at all meals and snacks are a must! This is the magic combo that provides longer-lasting fuel, stabilizes blood sugar, preventing highs and crashes—and the energy dips that come with them.

• Avoid very sugary foods, like sodas, candies, jello and jellies. These give you a high, followed by a crash, signaling your brain that you need an energy boost.

• Do your best to get seven hours of sleep.

 

2) Reset your sweet tooth palate.

This may be the golden ticket: once you start eating sugary foods, you quickly adjust and less sweet foods no longer satisfy your taste buds. In our current American food culture, most store-bought foods have high levels of added sugar to accommodate taste buds that have adapted to and expect highly sweetened food.

• Be proactive. Train your taste buds to become accustomed to a “less” sweet load. (Think of working out; you train your body to become accustomed to a different work load). It’s easier than you think!

o Great news: everyone’s taste buds regenerate in about 10 days1.

This means if you have a sweet tooth (or a salt tooth for that matter!) and you consistently enjoy foods that aren’t as sweet (or aren’t as salty) compared to what you’re accustomed to, after about 10 days you’ll find that foods that are very high in sugar (or salt) will taste too sweet (or too salty).

We constantly reset our sweet palate. It works like a charm! 🙂

 

3) Use naturally sweet foods (without added sugars) to help recalibrate your palate.

While your taste buds are “re-calibrating”, healthier stand-ins for traditional sweets are an amazing way to indulge your sweet tooth while staying on track! Fruits are naturally sweet and as an added bonus, they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber; they’re a great snack for replacing traditional sweets when your cravings hit. As you limit very sweet flavors, your taste buds will “reset” themselves; sugary sweets will start tasting less sweet so you won’t crave the super sweet foods you once did, you’ll actually start enjoying your new, healthier, less sugary sweets. Check out three desserts that squash a sweet tooth without added sugar.

If you notice that your palate is accustomed to very sweet foods and substituting fruit is a struggle for you, start with baked fruit. When you bake fruits, their natural sweetness comes to the surface and taste super delish.

• Similarly, take advantage of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, fenugreek and ginger-that bring a natural sweetness.

Try our naturally sweet (no sugar-added) recipes:

Baked Apple (89 calories, no sugar-added)

Skinny Speedy Walnut Oatmeal Cookies (55 calories)

Easy Healthy Strawberry Mint “Ice Cream” (40 calories)

Lyssie’s daily obsession: Apple “pie” (just the inside of the pie-no crust)

 

4) Enjoy a “Clean-Your-Palate” drink before you indulge in a sweet food to “reset” your palate.

While we haven’t seen research testing this, we find it to be very helpful for us and for our clients. We’ve created these drinks for several years, knowing that they help to both curb sweet cravings and help reset a sweet tooth. These drinks can be slightly sweet, satisfying a craving with very few, if any calories, and they fill the stomach with water to bring on satiety and fullness so you can be better equipped to make wise snack choices and avoid overindulging on sweets. Sipping a slightly bitter and spicy beverage, like this Spicy Metabolism Booster  before a sweet treat can help you appreciate the sweetness of your indulgent food, and can aid your taste buds so that less sweet foods are more satisfying.

Drinks like these have become so important in the success of our clients that we’ve even included them as an important part in our 21-Day Body RebootTM, our life-altering program that helps you to lose your last 10 pounds and more (& keep it off!)—while going wild on the weekend! We call them Clean-ToxTM drinks because they work especially well in helping the body in its’ natural detox process as you eat, wholesome, “clean” (aka, unprocessed) food.

Another Clean-ToxTM drink to try Apple Cider Vinegar & Lime “Detox” Drink

 

Does your DNA play a part in your sweet tooth?

If since your early days, you’ve found yourself drawn to sweets, your DNA may be behind it. (We personally, didn’t need a DNA test for this one, simply knowing that we’d end up meeting our Grandma Bubbles in front of whatever dessert was around was proof enough! 😉 )

• You may have a FGF21 gene variant. A study published in Cell Metabolism shows that if you have a variant of this gene, you are 20% more likely to enjoy and seek out sugary substances.

• You may not be a “super-taster.” Other research has shown that some people (25% of the population) are what are called “super-tasters,” and these people are extremely sensitive to bitter foods. Super-tasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes simply because they have more taste papillae and taste receptors on their tongues that make them more sensitive to bitter tastes. They’re also more sensitive to sweet, salty and umami tastes, but to a lesser extent. They tend to have a reduced preference for sweet and high fat foods. (Super-tasters also tend to consume more salt then non-tasters because salt masks bitter flavors.)

Remember: It’s possible to learn to like healthier, less sugary sweets, even if you have a deep-rooted sweet tooth and no matter what kind of taster you are!

Super-tasters, non-tasters and everyone in between have one thing in common; their taste buds regenerate in about 10 days.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16843606

• The great news is that none of us are doomed by our sweet- tooth genetics. We’re proof in the chocolate pudding! 😉 And with the tricks we mentioned above, even if you find sweets to be the ultimate enticement, you can squash your sweet tooth without adding sugar.

 

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16843606

Peanut Butter Banana Split

0001__nutritiontwins-banana-icecream-split-cocoa-honey-peanutbutter-almonds-strawberries-almondmilk_logoWe’re back!…

Yup, these veggie- loving twin sister, registered dietitians and personal trainers with a major sweet tooth are back after our cooking competition debut!—and let’s just say, had we made it to the dessert round, this would have been one of our dream dishes, based on taste and health alone!  As you know, we’re always whipping up light, waistline-friendly sweet treats since our sweet tooth requires a lot of attention to keep it in check — Remember these yumsters?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

5 Minute Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

and our Strawberry Mint Ice Cream.

Well, after being inspired by the other twin chefs on Food Network (they were so talented –we had so much fun getting to know how they create the meals in their restaurants!) we got back to the kitchen and guess what was born?…

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A new take on a classic dessert! This dairy free “ice cream” is so easy to blend up and so tasty that no one would ever believe it’s actually healthy enough for breakfast!  (If you do want this for breakfast, simply have a Greek yogurt with it to boost the protein).

 

Playing off of ice cream made from frozen bananas, since it’s all the rage, we took it a step further and added a few embellishments to give it a banana split feel.  To keep this delish dish dairy free, we left off the whipped cream, but we bet this rich dessert will make your nostalgia for whipped cream disappear in an instant.

 

Nutrition Bonuses in dessert?

You bet!

  • Peanut butter packs 8 grams of protein for every two tablespoons and helps to keep you satisfied with its good-for-you fats.
  • Bananas are a heart healthy food — and their potassium not only helps to keep your insides calm, lowering blood pressure, but also helps to prevent bloat. And they’re a good source of dietary fiber to keep you feeling full—and to prevent constipation and the bloat that comes with it!

 

Ingredients

Makes approximately 4, ½ cup servings

Ice Cream

3 frozen ripe bananas, peeled

½ cup original almond milk (we used Pacific Organic original)

1 1/2 TBSP peanut

2 TBSP cocoa powder, unsweetened

1/2 TBSP honey

pinch of cinnamon

 

Toppings

½ cup frozen strawberries

pinch of sugar, optional

½ TBSP water

 

1 TBSP toasted sliced almonds, no salt

 

Directions:

 

  1. Combine all ingredients listed for ‘Ice Cream’ in a blender, blend until completely mixed with the texture of a smoothie. (This can be eaten as is or for a firmer more ice cream like frozen texture put the ice cream in a sealed container into the freezer for 2-3 hours.)

 

  1. For toppings: Puree the frozen (or fresh if they’re available) strawberries with a little water and an optional pinch of sugar, if desired to make a little sweeter. Put in fridge to thicken up a little while ice cream freezes.

 

  1. When ready to eat, top ice cream with one tablespoon drizzle of strawberry puree and one tablespoon of salt free toasted almond slices.

 

 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 151 Calories, 5 g Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 33 mg Sodium, 28 g Carbohydrate, 4 g Fiber, 14 g Sugar, 4 g Protein

pb-banana-split-collage

Peanut Butter Banana Split
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • Ice Cream
  • 3 frozen ripe bananas, peeled
  • ½ cup original almond milk (we used Pacific Organic original)
  • 1½ TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • ½ TBSP honey
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • Toppings
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • pinch of sugar, optional
  • ½ TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP toasted sliced almonds, no salt
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients listed for ‘Ice Cream’ in a blender, blend until completely mixed with the texture of a smoothie. (This can be eaten as is or for a firmer more ice cream like frozen texture put the ice cream in a sealed container into the freezer for 2-3 hours.)
  2. For toppings: Puree the frozen (or fresh if they’re available) strawberries with a little water and an optional pinch of sugar, if desired to make a little sweeter. Put in fridge to thicken up a little while ice cream freezes.
  3. When ready to eat, top ice cream with a tablespoon drizzle of strawberry puree and a tablespoon of salt free toasted almond slices.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 151 Fat: 5 g Saturated fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 28 g Sugar: 14 g Sodium: 33 mg Fiber: 4 g Protein: 4 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

 

Roasted Tarragon Garlic Sweet Potato “Fries”

You probably know that we’re veggie loving twin sisters, registered dietitians and personal trainers who happen to a killer sweet tooth that we work hard to keep in check, so it’s pretty much a given that if it’s sweet, creamy comfort food—and it’s healthy, to boot, we’ll be all over it!  J  And if you read our latest book The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure  you know that some of our favorite childhood memories include our family meal times centered around our Mom’s home cooking. Pssst…you may remember these meals were inspired by our mom’s weeknight dinners–

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Creamy Cauliflower Mac ‘n Cheese

Skinny Mash

Skinny Mac and Cheese

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce and Parmesan Cheese

Sitting down to Mom’s food always made us happy– it was soothing and lifted our spirits if we were ever upset and we each have memories of sitting at the table and enjoying one of our favorite comfort foods: sweet potatoes.
0005_NutritionTwins-sweetpotato-tarragon-garlic-fries_logo

 

Great news if you think you can’t eat carbs:

Anti-carb? Not these registered dietitian nutritionists! Whew!  We’re all for quality, high fiber, wholesome carbs in moderate portions at your meals (about half a cup) for health and for weight loss!  The moment our clients hear that they can eat a sweet potato, they light up.  The carbohydrates in sweet potatoes come with fiber, loads of phytonutrients and in a virtually fat free package (as long as you avoid those high-calorie toppings!).

Eating sweet potatoes doesn’t cause your energy to come crashing down as many other carbohydrates do.  The fiber in the potato causes the glucose from the carbohydrates to enter your blood stream at a slower and more gradual rate, helping keep your energy level stable and aiding in the prevention of mood swings and cravings that come with energy highs and lows.  The fiber also allows for a longer, more sustained serotonin (i.e. happy) surge.  One small sweet potato contains nearly 4 grams of fiber, and the fiber in sweet potatoes keeps you regular, light and happy. Thank you fiber!

We’re so excited about these “fries”—if you’re a “lov-ah” of fries, these are a waistline-friendly, healthy version– so enjoy these! Simply sub a serving of these for the other carbs at your meal.

Roasted_Taragon_Garlic_Fries_Collage

Some more health bonuses in these bites? You bet!

 

Sweet potato:  You may see these called yams at the store, and if so, it’s likely a sweet potato as that’s what they typically sell at most markets in the US. Sweet potatoes with ‘gold’ or ‘red’ in their names typically have orange colored flesh.

 

Your face won’t be the only part of you smiling when you eat these pups!  Sweet potatoes:

  • contain two very potent antioxidants– carotenoids (including beta carotene) and sporamins which fight everything from the negative health consequences that come with aging to almost all types of disease.
  •  fight inflammation. Eat a sweet potato and research shows that inflammation in the body immediately decreases, especially in the brain and nerve tissues throughout the body.
  •   offer great promise when it comes to Type 2 Diabetes.

0003_NutritionTwins-sweetpotato-tarragon-garlic-fries_logo

 

Other super stars in this recipe:

Tarragon (Mexican Tarragon) has a somewhat licorice-like flavor (should’ve known Lyssie’d be a fan with her fennel love—that is often described as tasting like licorice!) and has a light flavor compared to French Tarragon, either can be used.

  • Great source of poly-phenolic compounds—plant nutrients that help to fight inflammation and that help to achieve optimal health
  • help lower blood sugar

 

Garlic. You’ve  probably heard that this great-smelling (when you’re cooking it!) show-stopper is beneficial for the cardiovascular system.  So it keeps your ticker healthy and your blood pressure, too.  And it helps to calm your body internally as its got powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

 

You’ll flip for these “fries”!

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Roasted Tarragon Garlic Sweet Potato “Fries”

 You can make these pups into fries or if you prefer them as a side dish you can make ‘em into nips (aka cubes, see directions below).  Serve with lean protein like grilled chicken breast, with other roasted non-starchy veggies (or with steamed ones, or veggies in a salad if you prefer.)

 

Serves 2

Ingredients

 

1 large sweet potato

1 ¾ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon minced garlic

Pinch dried tarragon

Sea salt to taste, optional

Sprig of fresh tarragon, leaves for garnish (optional)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place parchment paper on baking sheet.
  1. Combine olive oil, garlic and tarragon. Set aside while preparing sweet potato.
  1. Cut sweet potato into French fry shaped spears, about 3 inches long by ¼ inch wide or evenly sized cubes—we call these golden nuggets, nips (if serving as a side dish).
  1. Toss cut sweet potato with olive oil, garlic and tarragon mixture.
  1. Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes, turning potatoes, at 10 minute intervals to prevent burning. Roast until golden brown on all sides.
  1. Remove from oven, sprinkle with dash of salt, if using and fresh tarragon leaves (optional).

0001_NutritionTwins-sweetpotato-tarragon-garlic-fries_logo

Nutrition Facts Per 2 Serving: 92 Calories, 4 g Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 36 mg Sodium, 13 g Carbohydrate, 2 g Fiber, 3 g Sugar, 1 g Protein

Roasted Tarragon Garlic Sweet Potato “Fries”
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch dried tarragon
  • Sea salt to taste, optional
  • Sprig of fresh tarragon, leaves for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place parchment paper on baking sheet.
  2. Combine olive oil, garlic and tarragon. Set aside while preparing sweet potato.
  3. Cut sweet potato into French fry shaped spears, about 3 inches long by ¼ inch wide or evenly sized cubes—we call these golden nuggets, nips (if serving as a side dish).
  4. Toss cut sweet potato with olive oil, garlic and tarragon mixture.
  5. Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes, turning potatoes, at 10 minute intervals to prevent burning. Roast until golden brown on all sides.
  6. Remove from oven, sprinkle with dash of salt, if using and fresh tarragon leaves (optional).
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 potato/ 2 servings Calories: 92 Fat: 4 g Saturated fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 13 g Sugar: 3 g Sodium: 36 mg Fiber: 2 g Protein: 1 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

 

Mini Cheesecakes!

Kick back, take a break, and enjoy this guilt-free cheesecake! It’s the perfect way to celebrate National Cheesecake Day!

Mini Cheesecake

This week marks an exciting holiday for anyone with a sweet tooth (us included!) since it’s National Cheesecake Day! Of course, as always, you don’t want to go overboard, it’s all about moderation. So you can indulge guilt-free with these portion-controlled healthy versions of the real deal! To help you celebrate, here’s a simple, easy and delish cheesecake for you!

And if you like other pre-portioned treats or if you’re a muffin fan, check out our Skinny Banana Bread Muffins, our Skinny Mini Muffins and our Mini Frittata Muffins

 

Mini Cheesecake

Makes 12 Servings (12 mini cheesecakes)

 

Ingredients

2 cups crushed graham crackers, crushed finely

1 tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 cup semisweet white chocolate chips, melted

1/4 cup part-skim ricotta

1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

4 fresh strawberries, diced

 

Directions

  1. Add graham crackers and butter in bowl and stir until butter is evenly distributed.
  2. Using a spoon, take a layer of graham cracker mixture and divide evenly between muffin holders. Press firmly to make a graham cracker “bed” flat and even.
  3. Melt white chocolate chips using a double boiler until all chips are melted. If you don’t have a double broiler, use 2 pans, the bottom pan with boiling water and the top pan with the melting chocolate.
  4. Combine melted chocolate, ricotta and Greek yogurt in a small bowl.
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture on each graham cracker crust and top with a couple of strawberries.
  6. Place in fridge for about 30 minutes so the graham cracker crust hardens. Enjoy!!

 

Nutrition Facts: 98 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 96 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 2 g protein

 

Mini Cheesecakes!
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers, crushed finely
  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted
  • ¼ cup semisweet white chocolate chips, melted
  • ¼ cup part-skim ricotta
  • ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 fresh strawberries, diced
Instructions
  1. Add graham crackers and butter in bowl and stir until butter is evenly distributed.
  2. Using a spoon, take a layer of graham cracker mixture and divide evenly between muffin holders. Press firmly to make a graham cracker “bed” flat and even.
  3. Melt white chocolate chips using a double boiler until all chips are melted. If you don’t have a double broiler, use 2 pans, the bottom pan with boiling water and the top pan with the melting chocolate.
  4. Combine melted chocolate, ricotta and Greek yogurt in a small bowl.
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture on each graham cracker crust and top with a couple of strawberries.
  6. Place in fridge for about 30 minutes so the graham cracker crust hardens. Enjoy!!
Nutrition Information
Calories: 98 Fat: 4 g Saturated fat: 2 g Carbohydrates: 14 g Sugar: 7 g Sodium: 96 mg Fiber: 0 g Protein: 2 g