Saturday, April 23, 2011

Q&A: Cream and Sugar Kickstart Alternatives

I received this great question from one of my readers:

Morning Routine:
I realize 9 times out of 10, I start my day with about 2 tablespoons of refined sugar and about 4 ounces of fatty cream.  I'm talking about my morning coffee of course.
I'm sure a lot of people will tell you, "There is no way I'm giving up my morning coffee and I don't want to drink it black either."
So with that, What are some healthy alternatives to the Cream and Sugar kickstart?
I LOVE this question. Love, love love! I am a firm believer in nixing the white stuff in your diet.

Let's talk natural alternatives. 

Agave nectar: Sweeter than honey, but a more neutral taste.  Available in liquid form. Agave will easily dissolve in cold drinks (iced coffee, anyone?)  Agave nectar is extracted from the Blue Agave Cactus. Raw agave syrup has a low glycemic index and is absorbed into the body much slower than sugar. It eliminates the highs and lows experienced with eating refined sugar.   
60 calories per 1 Tbs.

Honey: Honey in coffee? Sounds weird, but it's delicious! It's sweeter than sugar and available in liquid (which is what I use) and crystal form. Derived from the nectar of flowers gathered by bees. Very romantic, no? Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. 
64 calories per 1 Tbs.

Molasses: I LOVE molasses - but not in my coffee. Good to know it's out there, though. It's unrefined/unprocessed and make sure to use the unsulfured stuff.  
58 calories per 1 Tbs.

Sucanat:   It is dehydrated, unprocessed sugar cane juice in the form of fine, ground golden-brown crystals. It's better for baking and will dissolve quicker. Since it maintains its innate molasses, Sucanat has been proven to possess the most nutritional content of any sweetener from the sugar cane plant. The molasses adds a certain richness and also contains significant amounts of iron and calcium. Sucanat possesses far fewer calories than white sugar.  
45 calories per 1 Tbs.

Turbinado: You've seen me use this in my B. Bread Recipe. It comes in coarse ground crystals, which require a good stir in your morning coffee to get it all to dissolve.  When making Turbinado, the juice from the sugar cane plant is extracted, heated and then turned into crystals. This type of sugar does not preserve much of its original molasses content, although it is often used in recipes as a substitute for brown sugar. Like Sucanat, Turbinado also contains far fewer calories than white sugar.  
45 calories per 1 Tbs.

Sugar is easy.  Creamer is a little more difficult...

Cream or creamers can have anywhere from 40-90 calories. In addition, some contain saturated fat and/or trans fat. Yikes!

Skim milk is the obvious best choice at only 10 calories per 2 tablespoons, but making the jump from full-fat to skim can be jarring.  Ease your way down starting with 2%, then 1% and finally down to skim.  Give your tastebuds time to re-adjust!

If you still turn your nose up to the thought of adding skim milk, there are a few other options:

Fat-Free Evaporated Milk:  Obviously this is a more processed choice and definitely not natural, but if you are looking for a creamier alternative, try this.   
25 calories per 2 Tbs.

Soy Creamer: Once again, more processed.  It has less fat and calories than your typical whole milk creamer, but some preservatives, stabilizers, and a little added sugar. BUT it's Vegetarian!  
30 calories per 2 Tbs.

Coconut Milk:  Go with unsweetened. Preservatives and stabilizers in this too. TONS of health benefits adding a little coconut into the diet. Source of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Also, vegetarian.
15 calories per 2 Tbs.

So there you go!  A few options to try out and see which one tastes best to you! TASTE TEST! :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let's Talk Marathon Nutrition

With all the hype and excitement around the Boston Marathon on Mondy, how could I not join in on the fun?!

You've picked your Marathon...  Check!
You've found a training plan...    Check!
You're eating the right foods...    


Proper nutrition is essential!

Eating right will help get you across the finish line.

How many calories do I need in a day?
The three main factors involved in calculating how many calories your body needs per day are:
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
  • Physical Activity
  • Thermic Effect of Food

Let's break it down...


BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to function at rest.  This accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of the calories you burn in one day.

The Harris-Benedict Formula will help you calculate that number!

Adult Males:
66 + (6.3 x body weight in lbs.) + (12.9 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

Adult Females:
655 + ( 4.3 x body weight in lbs.) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

Physical Activity

Physical Activity consumes the next highest amount of calories.

Check out the Daily Mile and have them calculate your calories burned for you!

Thermic Effect of Food

Did you know your body uses energy to digest the foods you consume?

Add up the number of calories you consume in a day and multiple this number by 10%.

Note: If you are unsure how many calories you consume in a day, simply add together your BMR plus your physical activity caloric expenditure.

Putting It All Together
BMR + Physical Activity + Thermic Effect of Food 
Total Daily Calories

Nutrient Ratio
Now that you have calculate your total daily calories, it's time to break that down into the ratio of macronutrients needed for optimum performance:
  • Carbohydrates: 65%
  • Protein: 15%
  • Fats: 20%

Next, let's find out how many grams of each macronutrient you need.

  • 1 gram of Carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of Fat = 9 calories
For example)

Bobby here is training for a marathon.  He is consuming 3,000 calories a day.

He will need:
  • Carbohydrates: 3,000 x .65 = 1,950 cal / 4g = 488 g
  • Protein: 3,000 x .15 = 450 cal / 4g = 113 g
  • Fats: 3,000 x .20 = 600 cal / 9g = 67 g

 Breaking it down into grams makes it easy to find your total by label reading!

How to Fuel
It's important to get a good balance of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, healthy fats and protein.

Complex Carbohydrates are Best!
Think oatmeal, whole wheat breads and pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, high fiber breakfast cereals and beans and lentils.

Go Lean When It Comes to Protein!

Think chicken and turkey breast, tuna, tilapia, 90% lean ground beef, egg whites, beans and low-fat dairy.

Get Your Fats and Oils from Vegetables!

Think olive oil, canola oil, flax seed oil, nuts and avocados.

Foods to Avoid

Limit high fat foods.  Fat takes longer to digest and can leave you feeling sluggish and nauseated.

Coffee and Alcohol in moderation due to their dehydrating effects.

Careful with sugary foods before exercise.  Blood sugar will rise and then drop quickly causing light-headedness and quicker glycogen depletion.

Also, be conscious of portion size.  Eating too much can make for an uncomfortable run.

You are well of your way to a successful marathon completion!

Use online food calculators to look up nutritional information, create weekly meal plans to help you stay on track and focus on your personalized nutrient ratio!

See you at the finish line!

Friday, April 15, 2011

B. Bread

I have been through the ringer and back.  I feel torn down and beat up.  I woke up needing a little somethin' somethin' to get me through this day. I think that baked goods might do the trick.

I am naming this little treat B. Bread not just because it is made with delicious blueberries and bananas, but also because the boyfriend and I broke-up.  I've got the blues, but it's bittersweet, because his sister and brother-in-law had their beautiful baby girl last night. (Congratulations you two! She's perfect.)
A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on. -Carl Sandburg
Isn't this quote perfect for the occasion? So go on I must.  On to baking healthy and delicious B. Bread!

First, round up all your ingredients.
  • 2 C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 C Organic Raw Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt-Sense
  • 3/4 C Orange Juice
  • 1 Banana, mashed
  • 1 Tbs Ground Flax
  • 3 Tbs Water
  • 1 C Frozen Blueberries

As you can see, this is a Vegan Recipe - No need for Eggs or Butter!

Pre-heat your oven to 350 and prep your 9x5 Loaf Pan. Spray the pan with a little PAM and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom.  This allows the bread to release nice and easy once it's baked.

Next, in a large bowl combine your flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Turbinado Raw Sugar

Add your blueberries and toss gently to coat.

In a smaller bowl combine the ground flax and water and wisk until mixture becomes somewhat unified and gelatinous.  Add in the mashed banana and orange juice.

I like to make big messes when I bake. :)

Now take you orange juice mixture and add it to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Be careful not to overmix!

Mmmm! :)
The best part about Vegan baking is you can eat the dough without any worry of getting sick!

Spoon the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly.  

I sprinkled a little extra sugar on top, too!

Now comes the easy part: Pop it in the oven for 60 minutes.

Once your timer goes off, remove the pan from the oven and let set (in pan) for about 10 minutes.

Oooh, Ahhh! 
Looks pretty, doesn't it?

After 10 minutes, flip your loaf pan and the bread should easily slide out.  If you have any difficulty, place a plate over the top of the loaf pan, flip the entire thing as a unit, and tap the bottom of the loaf pan until the bread pops out. 

Let it cool completely before you dig in.  Trust me.  The longer you let quick breads set, the better.


A nice crispy crust and a delicious, dense, moist inside.  Just what the doctor ordered.

It seems like baking B. Bread has brightened my day.  I hope it does the same for you!

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Baked Kale Chips: Oil and Vinegar Style

    Annnddd...we're back. So sorry. I have just been running around, unfocused, with a million and one things to do, not accomplishing much... I like to call it spring-marathon-brain (only 19 days!). But now it seems like I'm back on track.

    So, what'd you miss when I was away?


    Woo-hoo! Oh yes. I jumped on the bandwagon and whipped up my own batch. Let me tell you, DE-LISH!

    Go on, get yourself a nice big bunch and preheat your oven to 375.

    First, you want to cut out the bitter stem.

    Then rip the kale leaves into chip size pieces.

    I decided to do a little oil and vinegar mix.

    Grab a big bowl and toss your kale in:
    • 1 Tbs Olive Oil
    • 1 Tbs Vinegar
    • 1 tsp Salt Sense

    Take you cookie sheet and lay down some parchment paper.

    Spread out your kale and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes.



    Ohhh, so light and crisp and and delicate and delicious. 

    I almost polished off the whole batch!

    More of these will definitely be in my future!

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Labeling Lingo (Part 2): Free, Low, or Reduced?

    In the last installment of Labeling Lingo, we discussed the difference between Nutrient Claims and Structure/Function Claims.  Before moving on, check that out here.

    We are going to dive in a little deeper to the world of Nutrient Claims.

    If you remember, Nutrient Claims must follow FDA guidelines.  Yay! That's good right?! While these claims can help guide you to choosing healthier options, it's important to always check the label!

    Sometimes these Nutrient Claims can trick consumers into thinking a product is better for you than it actually is, so here's the dirt:

    Less than 5 calories per serving
    40 calories or less per serving
    Meals or Main dishes: 120 calories per 100 g
    At least 25% fewer calories than the appropriate reference food

    Total Fat
    Less than 0.5 g per serving
    3 g or less, and not more than 30% of total calories from fat
    At least 25% less fat than the appropriate reference food

    Tricky, tricky:
    Remember these calorie-free butter sprays?

    Definitely NOT calorie- or fat-free.  The serving size (one squirt) is so small that it sneaks past the FDA definition. If you analyzed the entire bottle, you would find a total of 900 calories and 90 grams of fat. Shocking, isn't it?

    Saturated Fat
    Less than 0.5 g saturated fat and less than 0.5 g trans fat per serving
    1 g or less and 15%  or less of calories from saturated fat
    Meals or Main dishes: 1 g or less per 100 g and less than 10% from saturated fat
    At least 25% less saturated fat than the appropriate reference food

    This is where it gets really scary.  Notice the "less than 0.5 g trans fat per serving" part? Yikes! Not good!  No one needs to consume Trans Fat, EVER!  Ever heard of the phrase, "Hidden Trans Fat?" Well, this is exactly what they're talking about.

    Notice how they sneak in "Per Serving?" It doesn't mean that there isn't Trans Fat in the product.

    Check the ingredients list for partially hydrogenated oil, shortening, or margarine.

    Even "Reduced Fat" items may contain Trans Fat!  

    Also, compare the Total Fat with the Saturated Fats.  For instance, if a package reads 2 grams of Saturated Fat, but 5 grams of Total Fat, some of those unaccounted-for grams may come from Trans Fat.

    Be cautious when purchasing baked, processed or fried foods.

    Less than 2 mg per serving
    20 mg or less
    At least 25 % less cholesterol than the appropriate reference food 

    Very Low
    Less than 5 mg
    140 mg or less
    35 mg or less
    At least 25% less sodium than the appropriate reference food

    Sodium content can also get tricky.

    Remember this guy:

    "Reduced Sodium." Great, yes?  Well, first let's check out his brother, Hearty Tomato.

    The sodium content has been reduced from 690 mg in Hearty Tomato in one cup to 480 mg in Tomato Parmesan.

    But who really only has one little cup of soup? 

    Remember the New Dietary Guidelines?  Most Americans should aim to reduce their sodium intake to 1,500mg. 

    Add a few crackers on the side, and you've reached your sodium intake for the day!

    If you really want to reduce your sodium intake, look for Low or Very Low Sodium on the label.

    Less than 0.5 g per serving
    Not defined.  May not be used.
    At least 25% less sugars than the appropriate reference food

    Low sugar may not be used on labeling, but it's possible to find "Lower Sugar" which is synonymous with Reduced or Less.

    Also, be careful for "No Added Sugar" or "Unsweetened." These terms mean that no sweeteners or sugars were added during the processing of the food item.  It does not mean that there is no sugar in that product.

    Oh boy. That's enough for the ole' brain for tonight. Time to decompress.