Avoid Getting Bored of Healthy Foods That Taste Good

Avoid Getting Bored of Healthy Foods That Taste Good

As a registered Dietitian and foodie, I love healthy foods that taste good. I love eating, preparing, shopping and even looking at food. I often get questions about the best foods to eat and best diet plans to follow. The truth is there are some foods and diet plans that are better than others, but there is more to it than that. In order to make things simpler in my life and for all those who ask, I came up with 5 simple tips that I use in my life to keep my diet delicious and nutritious.

How To Make Sure Your Healthy Foods That Taste Good Don’t Get Boring

  1. Eat a Variety – Though it may sound like a broken record, eating a variety of foods – especially fruits and vegetables – keeps your taste buds and your body happy. Just as we get tired of listening to the same music or watching the same television show, healthy foods that initially taste good can get boring. Eating a variety of foods allows our bodies to reap the benefits of several different vitamins and minerals found in food.
  2. Practice Portion Control – Proper portions are something that many people struggle with, including myself. Sometimes the serving size found on nutrition labels is disregarded. A handy trick I like to do when in doubt is to pull out the measuring cups and spoons. After doing this frequently, you will be able to eyeball the proper portions, and the measuring cups and spoons can be returned to the drawer.
  3. Shop Smart – For me, going to the grocery store is an adventure. It is always my goal to see how colorful I can make my cart with fresh produce while limiting the number of packaged products. When I pick up a packaged product, I flip to the nutrition label and give it a thorough read. I strive to find items with the smallest ingredient list, minimal amounts of added sugar, sodium, saturated fat and absolutely no trans-fat. If it passes my inspection, it earns the privilege of getting into my cart.
  4. 4. Serve Up Some Seafood – The body thinks seafood is so yummy that it wants it to be in the tummy at least two times each week. The healthy omega-3 fats seafood has to offer in addition to several other nutrients is why the body needs seafood at least twice a week. An easy way to incorporate seafood is by swapping pork, beef or processed meat for salmon, shrimp or crab in foods like tacos, salads or sandwiches.
  5. 5. Choose Healthy Fats – Unsaturated fats and more specifically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the body’s most beneficial fats. Keeping our heart healthy is their primary goal despite their delicious taste. Some of my favorite healthy fats are avocados, chia seeds, olive oil, nuts and dark chocolate. Nuts are my favorite because they are so NUTritious. Try topping salads with nuts, adding nuts to smoothies and desserts, eating nuts as a snack and of course eating nut butters, especially if they are gourmet..

So, as you can see, finding those healthy foods that taste good is only part of the solution.  If you stay limited to just a few types of food your body and taste buds will get bored.  You will start to crave less healthy foods.  In today’s world there is a huge variety of healthy, tasty products on the market.  From fruits and veggies, animal and plant-based proteins, to nut and seeds, with a little research at the grocery store your fridge and pantry can be well-stocked to keep you on a healthy and interesting meal plan.

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Considering Keto? Here are the Major Pros and Cons

Considering Keto? Here are the Major Pros and Cons

Keto is without a doubt the fad diet of the decade. Recipes for keto-friendly meals keep popping up on your social media feeds, your aunt actually lost weight on it and your colleague keeps updating you about his state of ketosis. So is it time for you to seriously consider keto?

If high-fat foods like bacon, cheese and nut butters* are the foods you tend to crave, and if never getting to eat breads, sweets and other carby stuff is something you think you can handle, keto can certainly sound like a tempting way to lose weight. But, it’s important to understand that no matter what its devotees tell you, keto is not an easy diet to follow, at least not on a long-term basis. Before you overhaul your entire diet and lifestyle in the name of keto, take the time to thoroughly research its pros and cons and the reality of eating according to its rules. And of course, consult your physician or a registered dietitian first.

*Spoiler alert: peanut butter is actually not allowed on keto.

What is Keto?

The keto diet was originally created almost a century ago as a treatment for childhood epilepsy, and it is proven to be effective in this function. Keto as a weight loss diet is a much more recent fad, although it does have similarities with other low-carb diets popular since the 1970s, such as Atkins and the South Beach Diet.

Keto focuses on the ratios of macronutrients – fats, proteins and carbohydrates – in the diet. Exact recommendations vary, but a typical keto diet proscribes getting just 5 to 10 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates, which usually translates to 50 grams or less per day. Keto requires 10 to 20 percent of your daily calories to come from proteins, leaving the remaining 70 to 80 percent for fats.

A diet that matches the required ratios of macronutrients for keto looks quite different from the typical western diet.

The following foods are not allowed on keto:

  • Beans and legumes, including peanuts
  • Whole and refined grains, including breads, pasta, rice, cereals and baked goods
  • Starchy vegetables e.g. potatoes, corn, carrots, sweet potatoes
  • All fruits except for small amounts of berries
  • All fruit juices
  • Most alcoholic drinks
  • Most condiments and sauces
  • All sugary foods
  • Milk and most dairy products

These are some of the foods that can make up the volume of your diet on keto:

  • Fatty cuts of meat and processed meats
  • Butter and oils
  • Seeds and certain nuts
  • Oily fish
  • Avocados
  • Eggs
  • Hard cheeses
  • Olives
  • Non-starchy vegetables e.g. leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, onions, mushrooms, summer squashes, asparagus and tomatoes.

How Does Keto Work?

The body typically uses carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) as its primary energy source. In the absence of glucose, the body will instead switch its energy source to ketones, a form of energy produced from stored fats. By cutting almost all carbohydrates from the diet and replacing them with fats, keto forces the body into a state of ketosis, meaning it burns fats (in the form of ketones) for energy instead of glucose. The state of ketosis ends as soon as you start eating carbohydrates again.

Further, because the keto diet is so high in fat and fat is very satiating, those following the diet tend to feel full while consuming fewer calories overall compared to a typical diet. This reduction in overall calorie consumption amplifies weight loss and reduces hunger and food cravings.

What are the Effects of Keto?

Aside from the permission to eat lots of fatty foods, which are generally off-limits on typical weight-loss diets, the major draw of keto is its promise of dramatic weight loss results in a relatively short period of time. When it’s followed properly, keto can demonstrate significant weight loss results in the short term. Both anecdotal evidence and scientific studies show this to be true.

A Harvard School of Public Health review of available studies concluded that the keto diet, followed properly, results in significant short-term weight loss, improved cholesterol and blood pressure levels and a reduction in hunger and cravings.

However, the same review explained that these benefits do not continue on a long term basis. Over time, the weight loss results from a keto diet are no greater than those on typical weight-loss diets. There is also a shortage of long-term studies of the keto diet, most likely because it is difficult to maintain on an ongoing basis.

Anyone considering keto should also know about its often-reported side effects. These include:

  • The “keto flu.” For up to a few weeks after beginning a keto diet, followers report symptoms including headaches, low energy and “brain fog.” These symptoms do disappear in time.
  • Constipation due to the lack of fiber inherent in a keto diet
  • Increased urination as a side effect of ketosis. Not only is this inconvenient, but it can also cause a loss of electrolytes (e.g. sodium, magnesium, potassium) that can ultimately be damaging to the heart. Another hazard is dehydration, which can damage the kidneys
  • Muscle loss. Muscles, including the heart, require carbohydrates for maintenance.

Considerations: The Pros and Cons

Understanding the dramatic dietary overhaul required to follow the keto diet is the first step for anyone considering it. The next step is to delve more deeply into the pros and cons of the diet. Consider the following:

Nutritional Balance

Nutritional balance is probably the most important consideration when it comes to understanding the pros and cons of keto – a diet founded on deliberately creating a heavy imbalance in your sources of nutrition.

Dietitians have long agreed that a healthy diet depends on eating a balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, something generally best achieved by embracing variety. USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend embracing a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all food groups, as well as limiting calories from saturated fats.

Keto goes against these guidelines in two ways. First, it eliminates entire food groups including starchy vegetables, beans, legumes, and most fruits, which are some of the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods of all. Second, it dramatically increases the intake of fats, including saturated fats.

Proponents of keto argue that its requirements for macronutrients can be met while also getting all the essential micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, to be healthy. While this is arguably possible, generally with the assistance of a registered dietitian in strict meal planning, it is difficult. Writing for Harvard Health Publishing, Marcelo Campos, MD warns that those following keto tend to rely on unhealthy foods, such as processed foods and meats high in saturated fats, to meet its requirements for fat intake.

In short, eliminating entire food groups and eating large amounts of saturated fats goes against long-standing recommendations to eat a nutritionally balanced diet.

Flexibility

Keto is a rigid diet with a lot of rules and very little flexibility. By cutting out many major food groups, including fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, beans, and legumes, it dramatically reduces the variety of foods available to its followers. Getting the macronutrient balance right requires strict meal planning with little room for spontaneity. For some people this makes it easier to follow than a more flexible diet; for others, it makes it impossible to maintain in the long term.

Relying on putting the body into ketosis for its weight loss results means that the keto diet works only as long as it is followed to the letter. Reintroducing carbohydrates to the body puts an immediate end to the state of ketosis, and therefore to the weight loss effects of the diet.

Matters of Taste

The dramatic elimination of whole food groups required to follow a keto diet immediately rules it out for many people. Anyone who doesn’t enjoy eating fruits, baked goods, starchy vegetables (and don’t forget peanut butter), and can’t get enough butter, meat and ideally leafy greens will love keto meals. How many people do you know whose cravings match those descriptions?

Further, those who do crave high-fat foods might find a keto diet enjoyable at first, but in the long term find it difficult to maintain that enthusiasm. There are few long-term studies done on the keto diet simply because it becomes unenjoyable and therefore not maintainable. Of course, there are exceptions, but these are few.

Lifestyle Factors

Maintaining the keto diet while cooking for yourself is a challenge, but many people can handle that challenge. The keto diet is popular, so clearly many are able to follow its rules.

Eating out at restaurants, friends’ houses, work events, and parties pose an even greater challenge. Asking for substitutions and explaining your diet in order to keep following it outside your own house is something not everyone is comfortable doing, especially not on a long-term basis. Keto-followers can get around this by packing their own snacks and meals to eat outside the home, researching restaurants and menus in advance, and advising others about their diet. But these lifestyle changes are certainly not tenable for everyone.

Conclusion: Consult Your Physician

The keto diet is dramatic, inflexible and difficult to maintain in many ways. Additionally, its health benefits are debatable. If you have done diligent research, weighed the pros and cons and still feel like keto might be right for you, the final, essential step is to discuss it with your physician or registered dietitian, or preferably both.

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8 Tips For Eating Healthy This Fall

8 Tips For Eating Healthy This Fall

Why not “fall” into healthier habits and feel better before entering the holidays?

Make this the season to change and build healthier habits that will last a lifetime! Making changes doesn’t necessarily have to be hard— you just need a goal, something to focus on, and a plan to help you see it through! Make getting healthier fun, interactive, and something to look forward to, rather than something to dread. Take pride and feel good about the positive changes you are making in your life; you will be surprised how your good energy will rub off on others! You will look at yourself and your choices in a whole new light! After all, the trees prepare us to let things go so that we can create a platform for new beginnings!

Betsy’s 8 Tips For Eating Healthy This Fall

#1. Don’t “fall” into old habits

It is much easier to follow old habits than to learn new ones, hence why patterns are created! Sometimes our lives are too busy to take the time and energy to plan, prepare, and focus on something new. The best way to fall into a new habit is to make it an easy change where there is little thought process or time involved. A gradual change, like the changing of the colors of the leaves, will make it easier to adjust. Start with a list of what you would like to change about your health and habits, then place those into 3 categories: Easy, Moderate, and Hard. Start with the easy changes, and once you accomplish each change, move to the next group. Don’t rush the process and take it step by step. Enjoy the beauty of each change, just as you would enjoy the colors of the fall foliage.

#2. “Leaves” the negativity behind

It is often the negative thoughts, self-doubt, and disappointing letdowns that lead people away from following through with change. 
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”—Wayne Dyer. You must focus your mind to look at the situation differently. You can’t just say you are going to eat healthy; you must understand how that choice will impact you. It is one thing to “want” something and another to “embrace” something. If you fill your mind with all the reasons you want the goal to happen, you leave little room for the negative thoughts that often take you away from your intention.

#3. “Gourde” your happiness

We often look at being healthy as work. Going to the gym, packing lunches, avoiding alcohol, eliminating that sugar rush from an afternoon snack. Why would we want to stop something that makes us happy or frees up time? However, does that truly create happiness? Learning balance is the true happiness. When making changes, make sure you don’t completely cut out the things that give you equilibrium in life. Still enjoy time with friends or enjoy the outdoors for exercise instead of the gym. Don’t just think a certain weight or size will make you happy. Happiness is important to our wellbeing and is something that is found in the soul and not on a scale. Be sure to dig deep to find the passion that makes you feel your best. Once you find it, work on it, and know that when you meet your goal you will feel harmony.

#4. “Spice” up your diet

Food ruts are always a sign of a stale diet. The number one reason people get off track with their diets is because of boredom. Each season is the perfect reason to change the diet and the fall calls for the “harvest” of new recipes! Pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, cranberries and cinnamon will spice up your diet. Give some new recipes a try and learn to rotate to new recipes each season to beat the boredom with food. One good trick is to buy fruits and veggies that are in season, even if you have never tried them, and find recipes to try! This will give you a chance to try new foods, and escape the boredom of eating the same things.

#5. “Cool” your hunger

The winter harvest is for filling up with hardy foods before the winter hibernation begins. It is natural for our bodies to crave more food, not because we hibernate, but because we spend less time outside and tend to eat more. Not to mention all the sweets around, which actually make you hungrier! Fill up on fiber-rich foods, don’t skip meals, and keep yourself active to prevent the haunting hunger that can derail your healthy eating goals.

#6. “Warm” your body

And we don’t mean standing in front of a heater! Get active this holiday season! Do you realize you burn more calories shopping in a store than you do online? About 20 miles worth or 1,500 calories! Find ways to move more and don’t give up your exercise routine when you travel either. Most people find excuses why they fall out of exercise during the holidays; instead, why not create new ones? Go on a family walk after the big turkey dinner instead of plopping on the couch, play a game of twister or interactive video game after unwrapping the gifts under the tree, and celebrate the New Year dancing the night away.

#7. “Harvest” the produce

Toss the bread and eat veggies instead! Do you notice how much bread and starchy foods surround the holiday table and holiday parties? Dinner rolls, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cakes, pies and cookies. The starches always outweigh the protein and veggies. Try making at least half of the food items plant-based! Offer more salads, veggie appetizers or plant-based entrees. You will be surprised to see how many people enjoy them and how you will feel better! Keep that in mind the whole holiday season when you are filling your plate, make half of it plant-based to keep food off the waist!

#8. “Change” the way you look at things

Falling into good habits depends on how you prepare yourself mentally. It always starts with inspiration, and that is where you will find your motivation. Finding passion in what you do is what will keep you accountable, and not just going through the moves but finding purpose in all the choices you make. Take pride in the work you put forth because when you “own it,” you live it, and when it becomes part of you, it never goes away. Fall for something you love, and that “something” should be YOU!!!

Watch Betsy on Wink News!

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How To Make Easy Healthy Desserts That Are Nut-Rageous

How To Make Easy Healthy Desserts That Are Nut-Rageous

Growing up, I would always misspell the words ‘desert’ and ‘dessert’. My teachers would tell me to think about the ‘s’ in the word—they would tell me that ‘dessert’ has two ‘s’ because they are super sweet and make us want to eat more; hence the double ‘s’. Deserts are typically very dry and sunny; not something we want more of; hence the single ‘s’. As silly as this is, it is something that has stuck with me into adulthood and has even made its way into the American diet. It is not a secret that most Americans have a sweet tooth and have no problem putting the extra ‘s’ in dessert.

As Americans, I believe we are all born with a natural attraction to desserts. It’s like we have a sweet tooth with a sensor, and once we come across a dessert, the sensor signals the body that it absolutely needs it. So, as many Americans do, we eat the dessert and move on with our lives. However, we often forget about the calories, sugar, and fat content of the sweets we are eating.

We all have this natural sweet tooth that needs to be satisfied every so often. However, there are many other ways to “splurge” into desserts without as many calories, sugar and fat.

Some Ideas For Easy Healthy Dessert Preparation:

Applesauce:

Applesauce—the unsweetened kind—should be a staple item for every baker as you can substitute it for sugar in many recipes. However, when doing so, you will need to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe (approx. ¼ cup) to counteract the substitution. Using applesauce instead of sugar allows for a more natural sweetness and less calories. Additionally, applesauce can be used to substitute oil or butter in a recipe. There are two ways to do so: Replace half of the total butter or oil with applesauce or replace the whole amount. No matter what the substitution you choose, calories and fat content will be decreased.

Fruit:

Betsy's Best fruit and yogurt parfait features her cinnamon almond butter.Want to indulge in something sweet, without the added calories and fat? Eat fruit for dessert! A Fruit and Yogurt Parfait, with your favorite type of fruit, is the perfect treat at the end of a meal. Or, if you are in the mood for some tasty ice cream, try Dream Cream Fruit and Veggie Ice Cream. This delectable dessert combines fruit and veggies plus double the nutrients! Not to mention, much less fat than the average ice cream.

Betsy’s Best:

Nothing ‘puts the cherry on top’ of the dessert like Betsy’s Best Nut Butter. Try Betsy’s Chocolate Chia Pudding, and blow your ordinary chocolate pudding out of the park. This deliciousToasted Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding is an easy healthy dessert incorporation of the Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter with the chocolate is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Quick & Easy:

Betsy's Best dark chocolate strawberry poppersAre you in need for a quick, healthy dessert? Try Betsy’s Dark Chocolate Strawberry Poppers. This 4-ingredient treat is not only delicious, but very easy to assemble! It will leave you satisfied without the extra calories of ordinary desserts.

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How to Eat a Healthy Lunch at Work

How to Eat a Healthy Lunch at Work

If you struggle and wonder how to eat a healthy lunch at work, you are not alone. Finding healthy lunch options from a local restaurant during a half hour lunch break can be nearly impossible. One thing many people are now trying to do is pack a healthy lunch themselves to save money, time and unnecessary congested decision making each day.

A healthy lunch option for work needs to accomplish at least three things.  First it should to be  easily packed, easily stored, and ready to eat after little to no prep work while at the office – aka quick and easy!  Second, it should consist of healthy choices to satisfy the afternoon hunger and give you the healthy boost and balance of energy you need in order to be at your best for the rest of the day.  Third and most important, it needs to be delicious and something you look forward to eating!

Utilizing Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut & Seed Butters is a great way to capture all these ideas, creating a healthy and unique lunch.  Here are some healthy lunch combinations using your favorite Betsy’s Best Gourmet Peanut Butter, Seed Butter, Almond Butter or Cashew Butter.

Three Ways To Eat A Healthy Lunch At Work:

Dip It– Fruit and even veggies go great with gourmet nut and seed butters.  This is a great way to increase your veggie and fruit intake while adding protein and fiber to each bite.  You could even make a fruit or hummus dip using Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut and Seed Butters!

Spread It– Sure a PB&J is one way to spread your butter, but have you ever thought of spreading it on a rice cake, a whole grain wrap, or even a collard green leaf?

Dress it Up– Garnish a salad with a dressing made from Betsy’s Best!  Make is sweet with the Seed Butter, Peanut Butter or Almond Butter with cinnamon, or savory with the Cashew Cardamom Butter.  The spice adds a zing to those boring greens!

Take it easy the next time you’re trying to decide on your work lunch options. We don’t have a lot of time between variable obligations and often do not have a long lunch break either. Consider packing your healthy lunch with you to take to work so you can save money, save time, and have it all ready to eat for you at the workplace. Keep your options healthy with the help of Betsy’s Best, and you’re going to start loving your healthy lunches at work!

Do you have your own ideas on how to eat a healthy lunch at work? Please share them with us!

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Pack the Perfect Picnic

Pack the Perfect Picnic

Finding a way to enjoy the last bit of summer with the family? Why not have a picnic? One of my favorite things to do is to be outside. The fresh air, green grass, beautiful flowers, and an area for us to play with the dog is pure summer bliss. I let my daughter help me pack our picnic basket and snacks.

Our jar of Betsy’s Best is always with us and perfect for dipping those apple and celery slices. Even the dog had a tasty bite of our peanut butter. Here is a way to make sure to keep your picnic healthy with some delicious recipe ideas. What a great way to enjoy the day!

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