A true labor of love-this blog is reflective of my Healthy On You cooking classes, recipes, spice blends, healthy habits and exercises for your body & health.
Feel free to leave me a comment and if you try a recipe, write me! Most of all let this be a place for healthy inspiration.
In a new study published in JAMA, it's been discovered that people who cut back on highly processed foods, refined grains and added sugar and replaced them with nutrient rich foods like salmon, olive oil, brown rice and barley, lost weight faster than people who simply count calories. If you’ve taken my classes, then you already know this. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve decided to teach people how to cook healthy meals at home as a tool for losing or maintaining a healthy weight.
What’s even more amazing about this study is that portion control was out of the window and not even a consideration in the results. As long as the participants consumed healthy foods and reduced added sugar over time, they lost significant amounts of weight.
Many believe that their body type matters. The study is observed to show that it actually does not. A diet that is high quality, low in fat and low in carbs goes a lot further in helping you achieve your weight loss goals versus simply cutting 500 calories from an unhealthy diet.
What You Can Do Instead of Calorie Counting
Adjust Your Diet
One of the hardest lifestyle changes is changing up your diet. Often times, we are so used to our style of consumption, that we fall into dangerous patterns that harbor weight and excess water. By adjusting our diets for the better, we can begin to introduce our bodies to whole, nutrient dense foods into our system, paving the way for a healthier lifestyle.
First, a great way to begin your new lifestyle shift is to eliminate unhealthy foods from the kitchen, your office, or anywhere else that you have food easily accessible. For more information on ridding your space of unhealthy foods, check out my other blog here.
Finally, we must find alternatives to the unhealthy foods we love. Below, I've compiled a short guide to help you ease into these changes.
The kinds of foods that are up for elimination cover a huge portion of the standard American diet. These include processed foods, diet foods, and further adulterated foods. These do not break down as well in the body - as naturally, we are not meant to process artificial and processed matter.
Foods to eliminate:
● So called “low-fat foods” like chips, brownies and cakes. Unfortunately, they are still chips, brownies and cake.
● Zero –calorie drinks, sodas and sugary juices
● Refined sugars and flours (white bread, bagels, etc)
● White rice
● Muffins - A huge culprit. Pastries are full of sugar and fat.
● Processed foods + snacks (i.e. chips, chocolate bars, gummies)
Now that we’ve covered foods to eliminate, we can begin to dive into foods we can consume as alternatives and replacements. These foods are whole, nutrient dense foods that offer us nourishment and keep us satiated longer.
Foods to replace:
● Dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.
● Wild salmon and other fish high in Omega 3s
● Pasture raised, grass fed animal foods
● Olive oil
● Brown rice
● Steel cut oats
● Lentils, chickpeas, beans
Additional Tips to Keep Your Health Up and the Weight Off
● Read the Labels:
I encourage you to read labels of the foods you purchase, like yogurt, for instance. The low fat version, may have more added sugar than the whole milk versions. Ensure that you are taking the time to truly understand what you’re eating, because buzz words like “100-calorie-pack” and “0 carbs” can often hide other nutrient deficient or unhealthy culprits.
● Get Your Sweat On:
Keep your body moving. A great rule of thumb is to exercise at least 3 to 4 times per week. This includes walking! If you’re not particularly active, easy ways to sneak in some exercise can include:
○ Parking your car further away from your destinations so you’ll have to walk further to and from your car.
○ Using work breaks to take walks.
○ Take the stairs.
○ Walk your pets often, take the longer route.
○ Enlist a workout buddy to hold you accountable.
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“I am going to start eating healthier, cooking more, and will eliminate junk food for good!” If this sounds a lot like your latest mantra, you’re in the right place. With goals like these, it’s easy to begin bringing healthy foods into the home. However, people often overlook the fact that in order to eat healthier, you must also eliminate existing problem foods. In this beginner’s guide, I’ve outlined easy ways to rid your kitchen of unhealthy foods and begin your new, revamped diet and lifestyle.
Begin With a Purge
Rule of thumb to eating healthy? Eliminate access to unhealthy foods and rid yourself of the temptation to indulge in junk food. The first step in creating a healthy kitchen environment is to toss the foods that are blatantly bad for you. Begin with a full kitchen sweep by doing a walk-through of the entire kitchen (freezer, secret stashes, and cookie jars included). In modern kitchens, the biggest culprits are processed food such as candy and potato chips. Take a deep breath, because for many of us, getting rid of treats requires some serious willpower! Grab all of the unhealthy foods out of your kitchen and toss them or donate them.
This step isn’t exactly the easiest, but you’ll feel better knowing that your kitchen is slowly becoming a safe space!
Educate Yourself to Make Better Food Choices
Do your research. Phrases like “zero carbs,” or “100-calorie-pack” do not always equate to being healthy. Just because something has a low calorie count, it could be high in fats and sugars. Another item may have zero fat, but can be packed with sodium and preservatives. When you learn to read a nutrition label and understand the information provided, you’ll be more
likely to consume foods that can actually nourish and benefit you.
To follow, know that more often than not, perimeter shopping is the key to unlocking a healthier grocery trip. Perimeter shopping means that you’ll stick to shopping outside of the aisles. Within the aisles are often the processed foods, snacks, and sugary, impulsive items. Most grocery stores will put their deli section, fresh fruits and vegetable section, as well as other fresh food sections on the outskirts. By shopping mostly amongst these outskirts, you have a greater chance of leaving the grocery store with fresh and healthy whole food options.
Find Alternatives to Your Old Junk Food Habits
Now that you’ve purged your kitchen and are making steps to shopping smarter and healthier, you’ll need to prepare yourself to fight or tame temptation. Take some time to identify the junk foods you love. Is it chocolate? Maybe salty potato chips? Maybe it’s the gummy bear stash
you’ve hidden in the pantry? When we recognize what foods have become our weaknesses, we can begin to analyze what exactly it is we want from them. Cravings for sugar, for example are one of the most common that a person can have. Instead of having candy on hand, replace it with an arrangement of fresh fruit. If you’re craving a salty snack, perhaps a spoonful of peanut butter can satiate your craving. If you’re craving something fatty, an avocado on toast may be a great solution.
When we replace problem foods with healthier alternatives, we begin to train our bodies to acclimate and thus begin the journey towards a better diet.
Take It Slow
With these tools at hand, you’ve got all you need to begin the shift towards a healthier kitchen environment. Remember, that sometimes, lifestyle changes like this can take some adjustment time. Take your time, remember this guide, and listen to your body. Use your intuition and dig
deep to find your willpower to foster a great environment for your health journey
As I write this, I am bleary eyed. I definitely didn't get enough sleep last night and here I am writing about getting enough sleep! With that said, today’s demands on working families in this day and age of technology, only 60% of us are getting more than 8 hours of sleep. The other 40% who get less than seven hours of sleep tend to gain more weight over time, find it difficult to shed the weight and are, in general, heavier.
In my house, lights out at 10pm doesn’t always work (my husband is a night owl!) but getting myself into bed by 10 and winding down seems to be a more attainable goal-most nights (last night wasn't one of them!)
Overall, sleep is one of the most potent habits you can have to improve your health and lose unhealthy fat, faster. For those of you who need a little more inspiration for getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, see below for some real encouragement!
This is a gazpacho like no other. To be honest, until I tried this version of cold tomato soup, I was never a huge fan. Using fresh heirloom tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeño bring this dish alive. The addition of edamame, squash blossoms and fresh crab makes this recipe truly unique.
Score the tomatoes by making an “X” mark with a knife at the bottoms. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. Use your fingers to slip off their skins. Remove the cores and coarsely chop the tomatoes, saving all of the juice. Reserve the ice water.
Place the tomatoes, coarsely chopped cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro sprigs, garlic, vinegar, Healthy On You® Herbes de Provence and olive oil in a blender with 1 to 1½ teaspoons of salt and some pepper. Process at the lowest speed until broken down. Turn the speed up to high and puree until the soup is completely smooth.
If the soup is too thick, add a little of the reserved ice water. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible (if you have a high powered blender this step is not necessary.) Taste for seasoning. Repeat with the rest of the soup ingredients. Chill the soup in the refrigerator until it's very cold.
For the Edamame Bean Mash: Combine all ingredients in a blender container and puree for 2 to 3 minutes until smooth.
For the Crab Mixture: Add the crab to a medium size bowl, add the lemon juice, salt and fresh ground pepper.
To serve: place a spoonful of the edamame puree into the middle of the soup bowls. Top with crab and a fresh squash blossom. Pour the gazpacho soup into the bowls half way- exposing the edamame/crab/squash blossom presentation. Garnish with fresh sprigs of cilantro.
We all know running is good for you but now there is solid evidence that suggests it really does increase your lifespan. Exactly how much? The data is clear, for every hour of running, seven additional hours are added to your lifespan. Just think if you made an investment of a dollar and got seven in return?? That's pretty good! And this seven hour increase is real even if you drink, smoke and lead an unhealthy lifestyle...now that is a testament to the incredible power of running.
I run and do a light jog several times per week in additional to all my other physical activities like dance and spin classes. Mixing it up is key for me to stave off injury while keeping in shape. Why running has the most benefits in increasing lifespan over any other exercise is unclear except that its a high intensity aerobic activity that that strengthens your heart and targets dangerous belly fat. That's reason alone to push yourself to train to run at least 5-10minutes several times a week, more if you are physically able- A 20-30 minute run is ideal but the benefits of longevity top out at about 3 years! Read more in this article.
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Two years ago, I started my own silent campaign against sugar. I always prided myself on the fact that I had little to null sugar cravings. I am definitely more into savory things than sweet, yet I always had at least two teaspoons of sugar in my morning lattes. When my husband would sneak a sip, he would quickly drop the cup citing, “way, way too sweet.” I swear, I’m not a big dessert person and if there is no ice cream in the house, I don’t miss it.
But the sweetness of the coffee was always in my thoughts especially when I saw other people having coffee without sugar. I wondered how they could possibly enjoy coffee without sugar. Then one day, I took the plunge: I skipped the two teaspoons of sugar and simply kept going and never looked back. Now, if I go to a coffee house and order a specialty coffee drink, I immediately tell them, no syrup or hold the sugar. I can’t even drink orange juice anymore unless I water it down because my taste buds have become so sensitive to sweet.
Eliminating the sugar from my coffee made me think about all the other food we eat that contain hidden sugar, like sandwich bread, salad dressings, alcohol etc. I now read every label to be sure that I am not getting added sugar in my foods. I use honey carefully, my one vice-ok, two if you count wine! I’d rather get my sugar while savoring a deliciously prepared healthy meal. So, I haven’t quit cold turkey, but my body has definitely experienced the difference in a totally positive way. I feel more energetic than ever. The long term effects will be even better, like staving of diseases like diabetes and cancer (sugar is cancer’s best friend, btw.)
See this article from the NY times and get more information about taking a month long challenge to eliminate sugar from your diet. The method: no scales & clean eating to rebalance your hormones and eliminate your food cravings.
Healthy On You Recipes and cooking tips by Samantha Binkley. Many of these recipes use Samantha's 100% Organic Spice Blends that take the guess work out of cooking.