Wednesday, June 29, 2011

4th of July Picnic Staples That Won't Ruin Your Waistline!

4th of July Weekend is finally here! There will be plenty of outdoor barbecues, food, fireworks, and fun going on! If healthy meals and snacks are not planned out beforehand, it can become an endless series of mindless eating that may take many hours at the gym to burn off.

Follow these health-minded tips when planning your weekend festivities:

• Grocery Shopping: Take a minute to really think about what is most important to you before you go to the grocery store. Decide on your weekend meal plan and write your grocery list accordingly before you shop. This helps you save money and time at the grocery store and you will feel good about the choices you make and prepare accordingly.

• Water: Pack plenty of water. Don't waste your money on soft drinks, juices, or non-nutritive beverages. Use juice boxes containing 100% juice as an occasional treat for kids, but even the most healthful juices contribute excess calories. Teach kids to drink water now, and they will do this forever. Freeze your water bottles or partially freeze them. Take individual Propel packets with you to add to water bottles to add some flavor and provide electrolytes when outside in the heat all day.

• Fruit: Natures candy is fruit. Pack fruit whole if you can, so you have less to clean up later, or slice it up and put it in plastic containers. You can also freeze grapes and blueberries for a yummy snack. It is virtually impossible to compromise your health by eating too much fruit or too many vegetables; so, pack extra. You will eat them!

• The menu: Consider foods that don't spoil as quickly as "main" dishes. Bagels, Sandwich thins, High fiber crackers, Individual packets of humus and peanut butter, dry turkey sandwiches (Add the condiments later), and vinegar-based pasta and black bean salads.

• High-fiber snacks: Portion your own high-fiber snacks into snack baggies. This way you can control your snack foods. Look for 3g of fiber or more per serving for snack food items. As soon as you open crackers, nuts, pretzels, cereals, dried fruit, popcorn, and trail mixes, separate them into serving portions and store the item in individual baggies. This way you are less likely to overeat from the larger container.

Have a Happy and Healthy 4th of July!

By Lara Veazey, MA, RD/LD, NSCA-CPT, and owner of Healthy Lifestyles of OKC, LLC

Friday, June 24, 2011


Teryaki glazed chicken, grilled pineapple, asparagus, and watermelon 

Nothing says summer like the smell of grilling out in the backyard! Summer cookouts provide a great opportunity to visit and impress friends and family with your skills at the grill. For your health's sake, be choosy about what you put on the grill. Steaks, hamburgers, and hotdogs can be loaded with calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol! This summer, add variety and healthy options to any cookout by grilling fruits and vegetables.

Grilling Fruits and Vegetables:
• Cooking vegetables right on the grill adds flavor to any meal. Baste firm vegetables like peppers, corn, eggplant or onions. Season them with herbs and place on a hot grill until they are tender and brown—usually about 10 to 15 minutes.
• Place sliced zucchini, tomatoes and carrots on heavy-duty foil and sprinkle with a olive or canola oil and seasoning. Wrap the foil and grill 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Minced garlic works great and also pick up an oil mister from Williams Sonoma to control calories.
• Make kabobs out of pineapples, peaches and bananas and grill on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden.
• Grill asparagus, green beans, or broccoli and add, sprits of olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and freshly cracked pepper for a delicious side dish.
• Use black beans and add to avocado, corn, red pepper, green pepper, Poblano peppers, lime juice, cumin, minced garlic, fresh ground black pepper, Tabasco sauce, tomatoes and use as an excellent dip for a party or serve over grilled chicken or fish (always a crowd favorite).
• Make a quick and easy Summer side salad with Spinach, grilled chicken or salmon, sliced onions, strawberries, blueberries, apples, walnuts, and reduced fat gorgonzola cheese with balsamic vinaigrette.

Another great reason to add fruits and vegetables to your outdoor cooking repertoire: With the abundance of produce available this time of year, it’s easy to eat your recommended 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables a day for optimal health. Remember: In order to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, your grocery cart must be filled with half fruits and vegetables from the produce section.

Grilling Meats
Follow these tips when deciding what foods to include for the celebration:
• "Prime" cuts usually have more fat than "choice" or "select." Choose lean cuts of meat such as sirloin, ground round, etc.
• Look for ground beef with the lowest percentage of fat on the label. Try to choose 4% fat or lower.
• Grill lean turkey dogs, chicken sausages, buffalo burgers or veggie burgers in place of full-fat options, but make sure to compare the fat on the back of the nutrition facts label as marketing will fool you on many of the hot dog nutrient comparisons.
• Instead of fatty steaks, ribs, and chicken wings, try skinless boneless chicken breast or kabobs, and grilled fish such as salmon, halibut or shrimp
• When purchasing ground turkey, make sure to choose ground turkey breast as it will save you calories and saturated fat (the naughty artery clogging fat)
• Buy skinless, boneless, chicken breast without any added flavorings and use your own marinade to add flavor and decrease sodium.
• Instead of sautéed onions, put onions on the grill for great smoky flavor
• Go meatless and grill portabella mushroom burgers or black bean burgers, check out
• Choose Healthy burger toppings such as grilled veggies, caramelized onions, spinach lettuce, tomatoes, pickes, spicy brown mustard, avocado, ketchup, portabella mushrooms, and laughing cow cheese wedges
• Use whole wheat buns or sandwich thins to increase your daily fiber intake from whole grains.

For side dishes, there are great tasting alternatives to heavy, mayonnaise salads and spreads. If a recipe calls for full-fat mayonnaise or sour cream, substitute a low-fat variation or you can use nonfat- plain Greek yogurt. I am personally a fan of Chobani or Fage. Greek yogurt can be used as a perfect substitute for mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, etc.. The tart flavor of non-fat plain Greek yogurt has double the protein of regular yogurt and less sugar. Your potato salads, chicken salads and baked potatoes won't know the difference.