Smart Snacking for a Healthy Lifestyle

shutterstock_413126401The human digestive system is designed for us to eat about every four hours to maintain our energy level.  So, it’s not unreasonable to get a little hungry between meals or before we go to bed.  Healthy snacking can fit into any eating plan and is important to everyone’s health.

Snacks can supply essential vitamins, minerals, and calories.

The key to healthful snacking is to choose healthful, high-fiber, nutrient-dense foods instead of snacks that add unhealthful fats and calories to the diet and little else in the way of nutrients.  A snack with a balance of carbohydrate, some fat, and some protein will satisfy hunger for a longer period of time than food with only carbohydrate or sugars.

How do you achieve this balance?  Choosing snacks that contain at least two food groups can provide yummy and healthful snack possibilities.

  • Low-fat yogurt with 1/2 cup cereal
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothies
  • 1-ounce serving trail mix (nuts, seeds, dried fruit)
  • 1 cup cereal with low-fat milk or soy milk
  • A small handful of tortilla chips with salsa or low-fat bean dip
  • Fruit and cheese:  apples or grapes with 1 ounce low-fat mozzarella string cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter on an apple, celery, or carrots

In addition, consider the following tips next time you’re in the mood to grab a snack:

  • Stock your refrigerator and kitchen cupboards with healthful foods like fruit juices, low-fat yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, plain popcorn, whole-grain crackers, and low-fat cheeses so that they are close at hand.
  • Carry fresh fruit and crackers and cheese in your backpack or book bag so you won’t have to resort to buying candy from a vending machines when you get the urge to munch.
  • Create your own snacks.  Mix together one cup each whole-grain cereal, almonds, raisins, and sunflower seeds to take with you on your next bicycle trip or hike.
  • Snack with a friend.  If you’re craving a candy bar or chips and nothing else will do, try splitting a bar or a bag with a friend. That way, you’ll satisfy your craving without going too far overboard on calories, fat or salt.
  • Try to brush your teeth — or at least rinse your mouth after snacking to prevent tooth decay.

Checkout these snacking recipes:

Chili Popcorn

Mexican Snack Pizzas

Source:  The Pursuit of a Healthy Diet


Chili Popcorn

Mix 1 quart popped popcorn with 1 tablespoon melted margarine.  In a separate bowl, mix 11/4 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, and a dash of garlic powder.  Sprinkle seasoning over popcorn and mix well.  Makes about four 1-cup servings, each of which contains approximately 50 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 42 milligrams of sodium.

Mexican Snack Pizzas

Split two whole-grain English Muffins and toast lightly.  Mix 1/4 cup tomato paste, 1/4 cup canned, drained, shopped kidney beans, 1 tablespoon each chopped onion and chopped green pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano.  Spread mixture on muffin halves.  Top with 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese and broil until cheese is broil until cheese is bubbly (about 2 minutes).  Garnish with 1/4 cup shredded lettuce.  Makes four servings, each of which contains 95 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 300 milligrams of sodium.

Eating properly can reverse and drastically reduce chronic inflammation

Inflammation is part of our normal immune response.  When the body is harmed, it sends lymph and white blood cells through the lymphatic system to flood the area of concern.  This fluid uses chemical reactions to separate and remove the harmful substances, restoring the cells back to their normal state.

While brief periods of inflammation, known as acute inflammation, work to heal the body, inflammation that extends for long periods of time, known as chronic inflammation, puts a strain on the circulatory and immune systems, damages body tissue, and destroys cells.  Chronic inflammation can be attributed to a diet high in processed foods and/or to food sensitivities and allergies. Chronic inflammation makes the body more prone to contracting other illnesses and may even cause autoimmune diseases, and other health problems that occur when the immune system attacks healthy tissues in the body.


Eating properly can reverse and drastically reduce chronic inflammation

Cancer occurs when mutated cells reproduce uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors that can invade and eventually take over other parts of the body.  There are over 100 types of cancer, and the disease can occur in virtually any body part.

The risk of developing cancer depends both on genetics and your surrounding environment.  Having a family history of the disease, smoking, being exposed to radiation, and eating a poor diet all increase a person’s cancer risk.  However, much evidence suggests that eating natural, highly nutritious foods can swing even the most at-risk individuals back to the other side of the spectrum.

Reprinted with permission from

The “It” List: Seasonal Produce That Is Packed With Nutrients!!

35b98__basket-of-fall-veggiesWith the first week of fall well underway, why not hit up the local farmer’s market to stock up on seasonal fall produce.  Not only is seasonal produce less expensive, it is also packed with plenty of nutrients since the produce has less travel time in between!!

Here is our list of the top produce picks for fall!

Apples: Crisp and delicious autumn apples don’t just make the perfect addition to most desserts, they are also high in antioxidants—specifically vitamin C, which helps strengthen the immune system and may even lower your risk of cancer. You can also turn picking apples into a physical activity by hitting up your local orchard and picking them yourself!

Pumpkins: Nothing boosts fall spirits like these orange gems. Pumpkins are an excellent source of vitamin A, which may improve your vision if you’re deficient. They are also full of phytosterols, which may decrease bad cholesterol, and beta-carotene, which helps protect against free radicals.

Brussels Sprouts: This green veggie may seem intimidating to cook and often gets a bad wrap but they make a great side dish and are easy to season! Brussels sprouts are a good source of iron, which helps your body form red blood cells, as well as vitamin K, which can boost bone health. The mini cabbages are also packed with vitamin C, a key nutrient for your immune system.

Figs: Figs are easy to cut up and travel well so make for the perfect on-the-go fall snack! This essential autumn fruit is a solid source of fiber, which may help decrease cholesterol, promote blood sugar control, prevent constipation, and keep you feeling full longer. Figs are also loaded with potassium, which keep your blood pressure controlled.

Cauliflower: This veggie is just as nutritious as those dark leafy greens so don’t let the color fool you! Cauliflower is full of vitamins C and K, which helps to regulate your inflammatory response. Cauliflower is also high in fiber and folate, which is crucial for any women thinking of conceiving since it helps prevent neural tube defects.

Beets: Delicious, warm, and colorful, roasted root veggies are a fall must. If there is one root veggie you do not skimp on, it’s beets. They contain a phytonutrient called betalains, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Beets are also a good source of folate, potassium, and manganese, which helps with calcium absorption and blood clotting so try tossing them in a salad or enjoying as a side!

Pears: Sliced, diced, or whole, pears can make any fall recipe more nutritious and delicious of course! Pears are a good source of fiber, which helps maintain blood sugar control and lower cholesterol. Pears also provide the antioxidant vitamin C, copper, and boron, a nutrient that helps the body retain calcium.


Source: Women’s Health

Things To Do When You Feel Like Cheating

wellnessWith any lifestyle change, there are times when you may lose confidence, feel defeated and just want to resort back to your old ways.  Instead of giving into these temptations, why not try to do things to help take your mind off of these feelings.  Here is a list of activities that you can do the next time you feel like giving up!

1. Watch a movie: Watch movies that you did when you were younger or a child to bring back those warm fuzzy memories. Pick movies that when you are watch them, they make you think of positive times you had with friends and family.  If you do this while following a new lifestyle change, you can spend time quoting the movie instead of watching the clock and seeing when the next time you get to eat or dwelling on foods you can no longer eat.

2. Go Shopping: You have been working hard on changing yourself from the inside out so why not treat yourself to a new pair of sneakers for the gym or that new sports watch you wanted!  Rewarding yourself for your progress will keep you motivated to keep going!

3. Reflect: Write down how you will FEEL when you have reached your goal weight.

4. Write down AT LEAST 20 things that you will enjoy doing more once you lose the weight, lower your cholesterol, are able to run that 5k.  Everyone has their own personal goals, so write down what YOU hope to gain out of this lifestyle change.

5.  Organize: Get around to organizing something you have been needing to do for a while, a closet, your desk, you e-mail inbox, your cabinets, etc. Not only can you start purging things that you no longer need, you will also be amazed by how fast time flies when you are not focused on food 24/7.

6. Be inspired: Watch an inspiring movie to get you mind, heart, and spirit engaged and shows the growth of characters!

7. Catch up with friends: send an e-mail, give them a call or pay them a visit.  Better yet, call them to schedule a day at the park.  What better way to catch up than when you can also work in some physical activity at the same time!

8. Finish those projects: Have you been putting off uploading those pictures from your phone or making those scrapbooks?  Instead of dwelling on food, try diving into a project to keep yourself busy while also being productive!

9. Get moving: Take the dog for a long walk, go for a hike, or dust off the bike for a quick ride around town!  Staying active not only helps reduce stress but will also help with your weight loss goals!

10. Read a book: Sometimes we all just need to unwind.  Reading is not only relaxing but also requires you to put your focus on what you are doing, so why not catch up on the books you have been meaning to read!


Walnuts, Cashews, and Almonds, Oh My! : Storage tips and serving sizes for your favorite nuts

Nuts are one of the healthiest sources of fat that you can eat, as long as they are consumed in moderation.  Keep in mind that while they may be small, they are calorie-dense so a small handful can have as many as 200 calories!  Here is a great chart to show the recommended serving sizes for popular nut varieties as well as tips on storage!


Ways to Correctly Store Nuts

Store Bulk NutsNuts are one of those wonder foods that are really tasty and really good for you. However, when buying bulk nuts, they can become rancid quickly by not storing them correctly. If stored properly, nuts can last up to a year. This is because of the high fat content, especially when exposed to heat.

Preparation of Nuts

Light and heat can increase the time it takes for nuts to spoil, so it’s important to make room for them in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Containers that have air-tight seals should be used when storing nuts such as glass jars, plastic containers, and freezer bags. When purchasing bulk nuts, allow yourself to have enough storing containers to ensure that you properly store all the nuts. Labels are essential by including the type of nut and the date purchased. Either make them up ahead of time or simply use masking tape and a marker.

Drying Option for Bulk Nuts

This step is not required, but will help keep your nuts fresher for longer period of time. Nuts still in their shell should be spread loosely on a tray or cookie sheet and placed next to your working furnace. The temperature should be lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and there should be air flow. Keep your nuts next to the furnace for two to three days and check them constantly, about every 8 to 10 hours. If the shells are cracking, that means the nuts are drying out too fast. The time it takes nuts to dry depends on what type of nut they are and how many you have to dry.

Storing Nuts

Before storing, nuts can be washed and it’s recommended that they are completely dry before placing in their containers. For short term storage, up to three months, storing in the pantry is fine and is the most commonly used form of storing. For storage up to six months, store in the refrigerator and keep away from onions and other strong-smelling foods as the nuts will pick up their smells. For longer term storage, the freezer will keep your nuts fresh up to a year. As the water content is low, freezing won’t affect the taste. Just make sure that you don’t forget to add the label.

Tips and Information

Unsalted nuts keep longer than salted ones.
Whole nuts keep better than chopped or ground ones.
Pecans, peanuts, and walnuts are more prone to spoiling.
Cashews and almonds are the least prone to spoiling.
Raw nuts spoil faster than roasted ones.
Always taste before using in cooking.
Nuts in shells keep longer than those without.

Source: Tropical Foods