Pasta Primavera

Do you want to go wheat-free but don’t want to give up your favorite pasta dish? Rice pasta is a great alternative! Try my favorite Pasta Primavera — a healthy, gluten-free option that can easily be added to your dinner rotation!

Pasta Primavera (made with brown rice pasta)
Servings
4
Servings
4
Pasta Primavera (made with brown rice pasta)
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Prepare the pasta according to package directions.
  2. In a large saucepan with steamer basket, bring 1" of water to a boil. Steam the broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, and yellow squash in the basket for 5 minutes, or until tender. (The time depends on the individual vegetables. The mushrooms will be tender before the squash, for instance.) Transfer to a colander to drain. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Cook the tomato and garlic (if desired), stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the steamed vegetables, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for 1 minute. Place the pasta in a serving bowl and top with the vegetable mixture.
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Can chewing sugar-free gum help you lose weight?

There have been several studies on both sides of this debate. On the pro gum side, studies show that chewing gum can help reduce your daily calorie consumption by as much as 50 calories a day.

IMG_3237  photo

Chewing gum when you’re most likely to snack on unhealthy foods can act as a deterrent.  For example, when the mid-afternoon lull hits we tend to crave a sweet or salty snack. Instead of hustling to the nearest vending machine for a treat, a piece of gum may just ward off your cravings.

However, on the other side of the debate, studies have shown that although gum chewers may eat fewer meals or snacks, they tend to consume more when they do eat. The larger meals counteracted any benefit they received from eating fewer meals.

This side of the debate also warns about the negative effects sugar-free gum can have on your health like bloating, jaw muscle imbalances, overproduction of stomach acid and dental erosion.

Although I believe chewing sugar-free gum can help deter you from mindless eating, I believe you can get the same results in other, less controversial and healthier, ways.

Here are 3 ways to cut back on calories and lose weight without chewing gum:

Consume More Water: When the urge hits for an unhealthy snack, grab a big glass of water. Tell yourself you can have the snack after you finish the entire glass of water. You may be surprised to find that you no longer feel hungry or have the same cravings.

Keep Healthy Snacks at Hand: Keep healthy snacks with you at all times. Snacking isn’t necessarily bad for the scale, it’s what you snack on that can affect your weight positively or negatively.

Drink Herbal Tea. I find a warm cup of tea works just as well at curbing my snacking as chewing gum and herbal tea is not only good for you, but also has zero calories!

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If you do choose to chew sugar-free gum as a means of controlling your appetite and aiding your weight loss, don’t go overboard. Keep your gum chewing to one or two pieces a day.

Do you use sugar-free gum as a weight loss tool? Does it work for you? What do you do to help reduce calories, cut unhealthy snacking and eliminate mindless eating?

Healthy Bread or Caramel Coloring?

Super Green Juice

I love my morning juice! This is the perfect way to start the day (and on your way to the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day).

Super Green Juice
Servings
1
Servings
1
Super Green Juice
Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a juicer, juice the kale, apple, celery, cucumber, and lemon. Serve in a tall glass. If you enjoy your juice really cold, pour it over ice.
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Tips for Going Organic

Organic foods have been increasing in popularity and many grocery stores are now carrying more organic options. Some stores even have entire sections dedicated to organics.

Organic Section_Rollin Oats_Instagram

Section dedicated to organics at Rollin’ Oats market in St. Petersburg, FL.

So what exactly is organic?  Organic means that the food is free from hormones, antibiotics, chemicals and pesticides.

By eating organic you limit your exposure to these toxic chemicals.  Organic foods typically have more vitamins, minerals and nutrients and many say that organic foods have more flavor and taste better.

So how do you increase the amount of organic foods in your diet? Start with replacing the foods that tend to have highest levels of hormones, chemical or pesticides like fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy.

Remember to look for foods that are certified organic and not foods that say made with or contains organic ingredients as these foods may only have a small number of organic ingredients.  Remember that a label saying natural, whole or healthy doesn’t necessarily mean organic.

Look for products with an organic label like the official USDA Certified Organic label:

Organic Carrots Organic Tomatos USDA Organic Label

Although eating organic is growing in popularity, many people are still unsure about the benefits or simply don’t consider making it a part of their daily diet. Some advantages to eating organic include:

  • Offers more nutrients than non-organic foods
  • Includes no toxic chemicals
  • Contains more flavor and taste
  • Reduces ingestion of pesticides

If you have ever browsed an organic food section, you may notice that eating organic will cost you more than eating non-organic.  If your budget doesn’t allow for always buying organic, you can still limit your exposure to pesticides by washing your fruits and vegetables with a special produce cleanser (found in your local health food and grocery stores). If you don’t have a special cleaner you can also use baking soda and water.

Produce Cleaner 

Here are a few additional tips to help reduce toxins:

  • Clean your produce
  • Limit your consumption of artificial sweeteners
  • Store leftovers in glass, not plastic.

Since making an effort to eating more organic foods I have noticed a difference in my health and wellness and encourage others to eat organic whenever possible.

Do you eat organic? Have you noticed that organic foods taste better than non-organic? Do you think that it has made a difference in your health?

Hydration for Health & Weight Loss

The Worst Weight Loss Advice I Ever Received (and Sadly Followed)!

Last year my sister and I both purchased Girl Scout cookies. My box of Thin Mints didn’t even make it until the next day while my sister still had most of her box in her freezer 6 months later.

You may be thinking that my sister has a lot more willpower than I do. But if you took the same scenario and replaced the Thin Mint cookies for a bag of salty potato chips, my sister would have eaten the entire bag in one sitting and my bag could have easily remained in my pantry until the expiration date.

We all have foods that trigger us to overindulge. For many, it’s either chocolate or potato chips but it can be anything from cheese to pizza or beer.  These trigger foods can wreak havoc on our weight loss goals.

I struggled for years to figure out how to manage my trigger foods—anything with chocolate or icing! So you can imagine how excited I was when I read an article that promised to once and for all rid me of my overeating on sweets. The article stated that the best way to regain control over certain foods (i.e. my trigger foods) was to keep an abundance in the house.

The theory claimed that if you had several packages readily available and didn’t declare any food forbidden, then you wouldn’t feel like you had to eat the entire portion in one sitting (since there would be more at your disposal to eat an any time). So I decided to give it a try.

The concept seemed to make sense, and the article touched precisely on the reason I often consumed an entire box at once. I always planned to forbid myself to eat the unhealthy food “tomorrow,” so I thought I had to overindulge before enforcing those limitations.  To test the theory, I went out and bought three boxes of Double Stuf Oreos®.

Oreo CookiesThat night I enjoyed a few cookies before putting the first package back in the cupboard next to the other two. Immediately I thought, “Wow, this really works.” Yet a few minutes later, I retuned to the cupboard for a couple of cookies and then again for a few more. Before I knew it, I had finished the first bag and gotten into the next. I felt sick and utterly disgusted with myself. So much for their theory, I thought; it may work for some, but it definitely didn’t work for me. Over the years, I’ve tried this system several more times—each with a different trigger food—and I always end up regretting the decision.

My philosophy on trigger foods is the following: if they’re around, you’re going to eat them. If they’re not around, you won’t. Keeping an adundance in the house just means I’m going to overindulge.

Follow these 4 simple tips to help manage your trigger foods and keep overeating to a minimum:

1)   Identify your trigger foods.  The first step in managing the foods that cause you to overindulge is to know which foods tempt you the most. Make a list of your trigger foods. My list would look like this: cookies, cake, chocolate and mint chip ice cream (I can keep a pint of most any other flavor in the freezer for months but I’ll eat the entire pint of mint chip in one sitting).

2)   Keep your trigger foods out of the house. If your trigger foods aren’t readily available, you’re not likely to overindulge. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t ever enjoy your favorite foods, it just means that you may want to keep them for special occasions or make a special outing to get them. For example, when I’m craving mint chip ice cream, I will make a special outing with the kids to our favorite ice cream shop. I may eat a scoop or two of ice cream, but I know I won’t eat the entire carton.

3)   Don’t make anything forbidden. Labeling a food as forbidden just makes that food even more appealing. If you’ve ever told a child not to do something or not to go somewhere, you’ll notice that they tend to focus almost solely on what they’ve been asked not to do. As adults, we have these same tendencies. Tell me I can’t have it, and all I can think about is how much I want it!

4)   Slow down and enjoy your food. I know this sounds like common sense but we tend to eat our trigger foods unconsciously.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone through four or five cookies and didn’t even taste them. By slowing down and enjoying not only the taste of the food but the whole process of eating your favorite foods will better allow you to control your portions.

These tips have helped me learn to manage my trigger foods.  I can indulge on occasion, maintain a healthy weight and no longer overeat on my not-so-healthy trigger foods.  Unfortunately the advice I received from that long ago magazine article was the farthest thing from good advice for me.

What’s the worst weight loss advice you’ve ever received?  Have another tip on how to manage trigger foods? I’d love you to share them below!

Dawna’s Reel