Green Pancakes

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a time when we get to celebrate leprechauns, the elusive pot of gold, and all things green.  This is the perfect day to embrace the health of benefits of green food and drinks (and no, I don’t mean green beer although if I didn’t have this bun in the oven I’m sure I would indulge in one or two).  I love using smoothies to sneak green vegetables into my diet and if you or your kids don’t particularly like the taste of green vegetables, mixing them into smoothies or even pancakes is a great way to make them more palatable. Green smoothies are saturating every blog and website so let’s skip those and let’s talk green pancakes instead! Yummy!

A couple of weeks ago I was skimming through a magazine (Good Houskeeeping) when I bumped into this spinach pancake recipe. Yes, these pancakes are packed full of healthy spinach, but taste like your favorite breakfast. Even your picky eaters, who hate veggies will love these.

Green Pancakes

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • PAM non stick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. In a blender, combine spinach, buttermilk, egg, and oil until smooth.
  2.  In a medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.
  3.  Heat and grease a large skillet and your pancake mold rings with PAM. I used molds but you can make them the old fashioned way.
  4. Pour the green batter into the pancake mold rings. After exactly two minutes or when the batter starts to bubble carefully remove the molds and flip. Cook for another two minutes. Spray the molds with PAM every time you make a new pancake.

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Green foods are a must for a healthy diet; they will lead you to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!  Hope you are filling this day with bright, green, whole foods that are full of delicious flavors and don’t pack on the pounds.

Be Pretty Nutritious,

Mariana

What are Healthy Eating Habits?

What comes to mind when you think about healthy eating habits?  8 glasses of water, salads, vegetables, fruits and grilled chicken are some of the first things that probably popped into your mind. I also suspect that 1000 calories popped up as the magic number various diets tout to achieve a healthy weight .  If you have ever come across the ChooseMyPlate.gov page  you may also even think that healthy eating habits consist of: 7 servings of cereals, 2 1/2 cups of fruits, 3 servings of dairy, etc. If these were the things that registered when you thought of healthy eating you are close but not quite there.  These traditional recommendations may be ” healthy” to some people…but they are only covering 2 aspects of the health spectrum.  The meaning of the word health according to the World Health Organization (WHO)  is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.  The above habits/recommendations may work in some cases and could possibly help you achieve physical health and prevent or manage disease, but most likely not.  When eating habits are very strict and dogmatic  two important components of health are being left out: mental and social.  I’m sorry but a “crazy skinny b%^tch”  is not my definition of healthy. Think of the above habits as a base… not the real recommendations.  Following strict guidelines like this is not realistic and at Pretty Nutritious we are bringing reality back into nutrition!

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I could write a book about what healthy eating habits are and maybe one day I will, but for now here are 3 important principles from which healthy eating habits develop.  I chose these 3  because a very long time ago, just like you, I was too focused on counting calories and diet advice based on nothing that deprived me of all the joy that should be found in food and life. By  adopting these 3 principles I was able to  transform my life, enjoy my food, and feel healthy in every sense of the word.

1) Stop counting calories. Counting calories feels like dieting and diets` don’t work!

Yes, you do need to know about calories to understand food but healthy eating habits do not necessarily involve meticulous counting of calories or points for that matter. Stop and think for one second. Do you really think you could enjoy food, healthy eating and just life in general if you had to be stressing out about calorie math? Of course not! It’s unsustainable and unrealistic to think we are going to count calories every time we eat and that will bring us weight loss.  The solution lies in quality…not quantity. Trust me! If you eat healthy, real and whole foods packed with the nutrients your body craves you will never have to think about calories again.  Not all calories are created equal.  Do you really think eating 100 calorie pack cookies is nourishing your body?!  What good is it to count calories if all you are eating is junk?

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It’s very easy to go overboard on chips, fries, cookies. It’s even easier to eat that whole mountain of pasta and finish that extra large fast-food burger and fries. When are you ever going to over do it with vegetable, fruits, healthy fats and lean protein? Never! Why, because healthy foods truly satisfy and heal you in every sense of the word. Fast and unhealthy food may be satisfying your taste buds but not your body.   This is why restaurants serve bread before the meal. It jump starts your appetite making it more likely for you to overeat and order more food than you need. Bottom line is,  eating clean will make you lean…not counting calories.

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2) Meal Frequency

The evidence out there is mixed. Some studies found that increased meal frequency did not lead to weight loss, others did. In my opinion both can be really healthy! This is totally up to you, your work, family schedule, etc.  Everybody is different! You may have hear or read that the key to weight loss is small frequent meals and  that in order to lose weight you have to  follow a strict meal plan of 5 meals a day, each spaced 3-4 hours apart.  While this might be the answer for some people it fails to consider your personal preferences and what works best for you.  There is no magic bullet that says in order to lose weight you must eat this many times per day.

Let me try and break this down for you. Total energy expenditure (TEE) is the energy your body needs to digest food, breath, circulate blood, exercise, etc.

TEE is affected by 4 factors:

  • metabolic rate (rate at which your body burns calories),
  • diet induced thermogenesis (calories burned from digesting food),
  • exercise thermogenesis (calories burned through exercise) and,
  • non-exercise activity thermogenesis (energy burned typing, fidgeting).

You don’t need to be a pro at biochemistry to know that eating 5 meals a day will not affect exercise thermogenesis or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Metabolic rate is also not affected by meal frequency. The driving force here is fat free mass. The energy you expend in a day will be dictated by how much clean and lean muscle you have in your body. Diet induced thermogenesis accounts for 10% of your energy expenditure. That means that if you are taking in 2,000 calories your body will burn 200 through digestion. Do you see where I’m going? Eating 2,000 calories in 3 meals vs 2,000 calories in 5 meals will still result in the burn of 200 calories as a result of digestion.

If eating 3 meals fosters feelings of hunger then 5 small meals a day is your best bet! Again, this is all about personal preference.

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3) Balance

Despite what you have heard and seen blasted all throughout the media, there are no evil food groups (except maybe sugar, but despite what your kids say sugar is not a food group).  If you are looking to achieve health and wellness you won’t get there by eliminating whole food groups (i.e. fats, carbs, protein).  Your body needs these building blocks of life to survive, thrive, and repair. Thus, you are destined for failure when you take on one of these diets.  In the end nature will win and you will end up breaking your diet. The key to remember is balance amongst macronutrients.

The other important side and meaning of balance has to do with letting go…but just a little! Cut yourself some slack every once in a while and indulge in whatever your guilty food pleasure is. I follow the 5:2 rule. Monday-Friday I eat healthy, whole foods, and homemade meals. Saturday and Sunday I treat myself.  Studies have shown over and over again that restricting yourself will not lead to weight maintenance. It may lead to weight loss short term, since strict diets are usually low calorie…but who wants to lose weight to then gain it back?

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Following a restrictive eating regimen will make you feel like you are dieting and by now you should know that diets don’t work!  Let’s get real…are you really going to avoid chocolate when you are PMSing? Prohibiting yourself from occasional, mindful and planned diet slips is a slippery slope that will only lead to a breaking point and lots of overeating. Demonizing a food item or entire food group will only lead you to want it more!  Think about it! I know you’ve been there. I’ve been there! You tried the carrots, celery, grapes and almonds to distract you from the cake that you have been dreaming about…but none of those worked and you ended up stuffing your face. Mindful and planned diet slips will keep you from having these binge and uncontrolled eating events. The difference between planned diet slips and “cake face stuffing” events is that that latter is usually followed by feelings of guilt and weakness. These feelings can hinder your motivation and make you think that eating healthy is not possible. Mindful and planned diet slips on the other hand will leave you feeling in control, satisfied and ready to resume your healthy eating habits!

Stick with these 3 principles and you will be well on your way to being Pretty Nutritious.

Mariana

Clean, Lean and Pretty Nutritious

Growing up in Monterrey, Mexico didn’t involve me doing any house cleaning, house chores or organizing. How bratty do I sound right now? Don’t judge me. If you grew up in Mexico you probably had a live-in cleaning lady that was in charge of making your bed, doing your laundry, cooking and cleaning . Of course there were days when my sisters and I did have to help my mom. Those days were usually Saturday and Sunday and they were full of complaints.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 11.45.49 AMIn 2009 my relaxing & non-cleaning days came to an end. I moved to NYC . I was now in charge of cleaning my own apartment, bathroom and cooking my own meals. No problem there. Cleaning wasn’t so bad after all. My apartment was tiny and my roommate and I had a cleaning schedule that worked for us. Things are a little bit different now. I just moved to suburbs! My husband and I bought a beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom house with a finished basement and attic. No more tiny, cramped and easy to clean spaces!

If you are like me life is better when everything is put away and you have freshly vacuumed and swiffered floors.

Benefits of getting down and dirty: 

1) An organized  and decluttered house will help you reduce and manage stress. Pair this up with 30 minutes of physical activity a day and say “adios &  hasta la vista baby ” to stress.

2) A sparkly kitchen will encourage you to make home cooked meals and save money! Every time you eat out you are adding 130-300 extra calories to you intake. Home cooked meals are the perfect start to your weight loss journey and Pretty Nutritious lifestyle.

3) Clean and lean! Cleaning burns calories! Add some sit-ups while doing laundry, calf raises while cleaning the mirror or doing dishes and butt kicks while cleaning sinks and countertops.

4) Clean house = organized house = organized mind! A neatly ordered house will avoid you the unnecessary distractions. An organized mind will help you be more productive and have a good night sleep.

Anyway, here is my Pretty Nutritious Cleaning Schedule! Hope it helps you tackle tasks that might seem impossible sometimes.

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Some cleaning and organizing tips that I absolutely loved!

1) Who would not want to clean with these beautiful and colorful DIY citrus vinegar cleaners.

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Ingredients and supplies:

  • Citrus peels
  • Glass gar
  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle

Instructions:

  1. Cut peel off of citrus fruit and place in jar.
  2. Cover with vinegar and allow to sit for two weeks.
  3. Remove peels and dilute vinegar 1:1 with water.
  4. Pour into spray bottle.
  5. Use as a cleaner for windows, glass, counters, and mopping floors.
  6. You can also mix the vinegar/water mixture with a little  baking soda for more cleaning power.

2) Lovely little teacups and saucers for jewelry! Brilliant, super cute idea and better looking than those jewelry drawer dividers. 

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3) Anthropology always has the best and prettiest notebooks/pads. Getting this one next time I take a ride to the mall. This little meal planner even serves as a reminder to eat fruits. 

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4) Perfect for small laundry rooms (like mine). Great way to do loads with style. 

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Being Pretty Nutritious is not only about being healthy and eating healthy. It’s about LOVING YOUR LIFE! Loving you and your body! It’s about feeling inspired, being productive, living in the present and being able to balance the big and little things in life!

Be Pretty Nutritious,

Mariana

G-Free: A Fad Food Trend

Just like in fashion, the food and nutrition world also has its trends. In my opinion fashion and food can be very similar. I wear clothes that fit and flatter my body type and make me feel beautiful and sexy. I eat foods that nourish my body, help me maintain weight and make me feel beautiful, healthy and sexy. Yes, food can make you feel beautiful and sexy! (Combine these two and you get Pretty Nutritious). Just like you should dress your body type you should also eat for your body type. When I say eat for you body type I am not suggesting you follow the Blood Type Diet or the Ayurvedic Diet. It’s much simpler than that. You should not be going gluten free just because it’s trendy, because Zooey Deschanel, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga follow a gluten free diet or because Ryan Gosling is hypnotizing you too.

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                                                                                       Dream on.

Let’s talk grain anatomy for a minute. 

All grains have 3 layers: bran (outer shell), endospern (middle layer), and germ (core). The bran is rich in fiber, B vitamins and minerals. The endosperm is where you find the proteins (gluten) and carbohydrates and the germ is rich in antioxidants, B vitamins and healthy fats. When you eat whole grains you eat all 3 layers, so it’s like the perfect bite…a little bit of everything. When you eat white/refined grains you are only eating the endosperm. The bran and germ are removed. Bye bye fiber, vitamins and healthy fats.

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What’s the big deal with gluten?

Gluten ingestion can trigger an immune mediated reaction in GENETICALLY PREDISPOSED individuals. This is called Celiac Disease (CD).  This is the part where I talk about all the boring stuff  but my goal with this blog post is not to educate you on the pathophysiology of CD. If you are interested in such holler back and I’ll be more than happy to elaborate.

My intentions? To prevent the unnecessary  Gluten Free Diet (GFD)  if you have not been diagnosed with full blown CD, Wheat Allergy (WA) or some sort of gluten sensitivity/intolerance. Celiac Disease and Wheat Allergy have been studied, are better defined and with serologic testing of specific antibodies and mucusal biopsies  a diagnosis can be confirmed. In these cases going “g-free” will come in handy. A properly done GFD can prevent many chronic nutrition issues and could be as healthy as a regular diet. Unfortunately there are no clear definitions, symptoms and  biochemical markers for gluten sensitive conditions. The only way to diagnose is if upon ingestion of gluten you develop adverse reactions and these subside with the elimination and exclusion of such. In these cases I also advocate for a GFD. I put my husband on one about 3 weeks ago. Not very successful because he was sneaking in beer, but we are giving it a second try. No beer this time.

Why going Gluten Free will not necessarily lead to weight loss. 

1) There are no good quality studies suggesting a GFD is appropriate for whittling your waistline.

2) Going “g-free” will force you to axe down processed and refined carbohydrates and replace them with whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. You’ll  obviously loose weight this way… it’s not the gluten part that is helping you shed the pounds.

3) A gluten free bread is still bread and it does not mean less  calories. It means less fiber and lack of essential nutrients.

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4) A gluten free cookie is still a cookie and it does not mean less calories, less carbs or less sugar. Get it? Trading in gluten containing products for gluten free food will not lead to less calorie or carbohydrate intake. This swap may even lead to weight gain!

5) I’d rather my bread be less processed and have less ingredients. Do not mistaken gluten free with CLEAN eating.

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So why are all these celebrities loosing weight and claiming the dull skin, fatigue and bloating went out the door the moment  broke up with  gluten?  Again, it has nothing to do with avoiding gluten. The moment you cut out highly processed and refined carbohydrates and replace them with minimally processed whole grains, vegetables and fruits you will improve your insulin resistance, which will lead to weight loss and improved energy. Simple!

Next time you are thinking of following a trendy fad diet think twice and ask yourself if you are really eating for your body type. Don’t be part of the crowd that makes nutrition unreal and confusing!

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A little note for Kendra.

You look AMAZING! Such a beautiful mommy-to-be but a GFD is not technically a synonym for a low carb or clean diet. Gluten free breads, pastas, cookies, etc are still a source of carbs and sugar. You might want to stick to non-gluten free varieties that are minimally processed and are made from whole & real ingredients. It has worked wonders for me during my pregnancy.

Be Pretty Nutritious,

Mariana

Homemade Blueberry Chia Compote

Have you ever gone overboard with your grocery shopping? Guilty! It happens all the time to me! I’ve followed the “don’t go grocery shopping while hungry” advice but it never works. I end up with more fruits and vegetables than I ever need.  It’s just so much fun! I truly enjoy my time at Whole Foods. That might be going out the window once I have the baby. 16 weeks left of coffee breaks while at Whole Foods.  A little bit weird? I know. Don’t judge me.  I LOVE my fridge stocked with vegetables and a heaping fruit basket… but I also hate to waste food. So yesterday to prevent my blueberries from going bad I made a delicious compote to avoid those addicting and delicious, but-oh-so loaded with refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup  jams. Sugar is evil! It  makes you gain weight, depressed, tired, will hijack your skin glow and may cause disease when consumed in excess amounts. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Did I mention it took me less than 20 minutes? Easy, healthy and homemade! Nothing can beat that.

Ingredients:

4 cups blueberries

4 teaspoons of lemon juice

1/2 tsp of stevia

2 teaspoons crushed chia seeds (I used a mortar & pestle)

Directions:

1. In a medium sauce pan combine the blueberries, stevia and lemon.

2. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently. Use a masher to smash the berries as you stir.

3. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in chia seeds. Let it cool slightly and serve warm. Can be stored up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

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Spread on your toast or english muffin! Drizzle over your waffles, pancakes, granola, yogurt and even over your once-a-week treat of ice cream or cake.

Be Pretty Nutritious,

Mariana

Guide to a Pretty Nutritious Nutrition Bar

Forget Cupcake Wars. There is nothing more competitive than the Nutrition Bar War going on right now: protein bars, energy bars, breakfast bars, meal replacement bars, diet bars and women’s bars (seriously). Just mentioning all the different types of this pocket-size snack  is making me dizzy. Once formulated for athletes this grab-and-go snack is now for everyone: recreational athletes like you and me, professional working 9-5, nurses working long night shifts, multitasking moms, and students. Unfortunately many contain a raft of belly fattening ingredients, have as much sugar as a candy bar, have hidden hydrogenated oils, and thus have little to no nutritional value. If chosen correctly, nutrition bars can be the perfect mini-meal  for those who race from sunset to sundown.

But fear no more! I’m here to save your day and prevent the dizzy spells triggered from trying to figure out which nutrition bar will give you the nutrition and energy boost you are looking. Before I start categorizing  let me start by explaining that nutrition bars can be rated/evaluated from different perspectives. Are you a marathon runner  looking to replenish lost glycogen stores? Are you looking for a meal replacement bar? Do you have long intense workouts and looking to rebuild muscle?  I did not focus on any of the above parameters. My quest was to find a simple and truly Pretty Nutritious mid-afternoon snack that will fill you up until your next meal without putting a dent on your daily calorie intake. Here is what you should look for to prevent from sabotage your efforts.

While no bar is perfect my picks were based on the following criteria:

  • has between 100 and 200 calories
  • simple ingredient list
  • made with whole foods (natural flavors is not a whole food)
  • is minimally processed
  • made with whole grains or no grains
  • has at least 4 grams of protein (because we are not dedicated athletes this should be enough..a true protein bar should contain at least 15 grams of protein)
  •  less than 15 grams of sugar…the lower the better (please no fructose** or artificial sweeteners)
  • 3-5 grams of fiber

** Fructose (Yes, fruit hast fructose and fruit is healthy but “in fruit, it serves as a marker for foods that are nutritionally rich… in soft drinks and other sweets, fructose serves to reward sweet taste that provides calories,  often without much else in the way of nutrition”. This sugar  is metabolized by the liver (glucose is handled by every cell in our body); give your liver too much and tiny droplets of fat will begin to accumulate around your liver. This is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver; obesity usually tags along.

I evaluated the following nutrition bars; the ones in bold met my criteria.

  • Clif – Contains 45 grams of carbohydrates and 25 grams of sugar! This could be a good option if you are going on a 150 mile bike ride.
  • Balance Bar – Sugar is listed as the second ingredient and some bars contain fructose.
  • Zing Nutrition Bar – Not a big fan of the Cranberry Orange flavor but we all have different taste buds and it meets the criteria.

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  • Luna Bar – All organic ingredients? Yes, but it’s quite a long  list.  Simple is better!
  • Pure Organics- Loved the story behind these bars. Didn’t expect them to be chewy but they are really good and filling.

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  • Larabar (Uber) –  I’m not bad at math! I did notice that these go over my calorie limit and below my fiber mark but I had to make an exception because they are truly made with whole foods.  Stick to the Uber line as they have a lower sugar content than the Larabar.

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  • Kind Bars – Some are kind. Some not so kind. Read nutrition label to stick to the ones that meet my criteria. Not a huge fan of “honey, sugar, non GMO glucose” but hey… I had to pick my battles.

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  • Special K Bars – Sugar is listed as 1st ingredient and they contain hydrogenated oils. Stay away!
  • Good Greens Wellness Bars – Not a huge fan of the Z52 powder (takes up 1/2 a page)  and the “natural flavors”.
  • Kashi Snack Bars – Long list of ingredients and no the best out there but better than Special K, Nature Valley and Fiber One.
  • Quest Protein Bars – Overall they sound/look good but I had to cross them out because of the “natural flavors”. If you are looking for a protein bar the amount of protein they contain (whooping 20 grams) may outweigh the natural flavor “issue”.
  • Pro Bars – Some are meal replacement bars (270-390 calories) and others have syrup listed as the 1st and/or 2nd ingredient. Remember that ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance!
  • Perfectly Simple – They contain “evaporated cane sugar”, which has been refined almost as much as white sugar.
  • 22 Days Nutrition – Even though Beyonce eats these I had to eliminate them because they are all >200 calories.
  • NuGo Slim – They look good until you get to “natural flavors”.
  • Two Degrees – Syrup is listed as the 1st ingredient and they also contain “natural flavors”.
  • Fiber One – Horrendous! That is all I’m saying.
  • Health Warrior Chia Bars- Texture can be a little bit strange but you’ll get used to it. They are super low in sugar (5 grams) and loaded with omega-3!

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Remember that whole foods are always the best option, but if sitting down to chow down a hard boiled egg is a luxury these nutrition bars will be better than reaching for the vending machine or the pastry basket.

Don’t be shy! Send my your questions, requests,  comments and love notes through the CONTACT ME tab in my website.  I would love to hear from you.

Be Pretty Nutritious,

Mariana (1)

Super Healthy Superbowl

The Superbowl is like the Thanksgiving of junk food. Even people who can’t tell the difference between a touchdown and a sack are going to house parties to “watch the game” (ahem eat). If you are trying to watch your weight and what you eat, take a SMALL break today, because lets be honest it’s not going to happen. I am certainly not recommending that you scarf up everything you see, but the answer to keeping cravings and temptations in check may be to give in to some — in moderation. Plus watching all your friends dig in and enjoy can be tough.

 “The problem is when we deprive ourselves of foods that we love, it makes us want them more. Then, when we finally do have them, we overeat them. We lose the ability to control how much we eat of those foods”.

Here are some tips to make this “all-day-couch, all-day-eat” waist friendlier.

1) Don’t skip the gym! This will help you maintain a balance and burn off those added calories.

2) Don’t skip breakfast or lunch. It’s a huge mistake to fast before a big meal at a party.  You don’t want to be ravenous when you get to your friends house. Eating a regular breakfast and lunch can help you reduce the likelihood of you going overboard.

As far as snacks go here are some quick tips on how to make some of those junk food classics a little bit healthier. Enjoy!

7 layer dip- That will not add 7 lays of fat rolls
  • Toss out: refried beans
  • Toss in:  low sodium canned black beans and puree them in a food processor
  • Toss out: sour cream
  • Toss in: low fat greek yogurt
  • Toss out: high sodium store bought salsa
  • Toss in: fresh homemade pico de gallo
  • Toss out: full fat cheese
  • Toss in: low fat cheese
  • Toss out: store bought guacamole
  • Toss in: homemade, delicious and Pretty Nutritious

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Chicken Wings- Don’t be a chicken and lighten them up!
  • Make your own instead of buying or ordering those deep fried and butter drenched options that can pack as much as 1260 calories and 74 grams of fat.
  • Bake or pan fry the wings with a little bit of EVOO and then coat with hot sauce. Restaurant or store bought chicken wings are tossed in “hot sauce”….it’s more like butter + dash of hot sauce.
  • Avoid those Asian style sauces that are loaded with sugar. I’ve said it before but I don’t mind saying it again. Sugar is toxic!

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Potato Chips – Skinny thighs of greasy potato chips?
  • Instead of digging in to those greasy and processed chips make your own spicy popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain!
  •  Toss out the microwave ready kind (loaded with butter, hydrogenate oils and additives) and pop your own kernels on the stove  or in the microwave using a paper brown bag and EVOO.
  • Once popped put in a ziplock bag along with spices of your choice (i.e. cayenne, garlic salt, paprika, chipotle, lemon pepper, old bay, etc.)

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Nachos- Oh, so delicious!
  • Make the most out of these crunchy munchies by checking ingredient labels for protein and omega-3 rich quinoa and flaxseed varieties. Even better? Make you own nachos by using  whole grain or corn tortillas, cut them into wedges, and spray with Pam and bake in the oven.
  • Use low sodium black beans instead of “frijoles con veneno” as they would call them in Mexico. Translation? “Beans with poison” but you probable know them as refried beans.
  • Load them with pico de gallo and shredded lettuce.
  • Skip the guacamole and instead used diced avocados. Even though guacamole is super healthy and good for you it is one of those things you can eat, and eat….and eat….and eat without keeping track.
  • Use low fat greek yogurt. You will never know the difference! It tastes just like sour cream…or even better.
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Enjoy the festivities and remember to practice moderation when sampling the array of snack that will inevitable end up in front of you.
Be Pretty Nutritious,
Mariana

A Healthier Grocery Shopping Cart

According to the Food Marketing Institute supermarkets today can carry up to 60,000 items! Colorful and fancy packaging, health claims, and hidden ingredients confuse even me…and I like to think of myself as a savvy shopper.  The dairy section baffles me. Every time I walk by they have a new Greek yogurt. The fridge with juices, smoothies, kombuchas, and flavored waters also stresses me out. Every Sunday (that’s when I do my shopping) a new concoction has hit the selves. Besides being bombarded with endless varieties and brands we also have to navigate through the marketing and deceiving health claims  (all-natural, less sugar, lower sodium, etc.), which are not currently regulated and can be misleading and confusing.  Next time you go to the supermarket practice these two tips: 1) NEVER go for whatever is printed on the front of the package and 2) ALWAYS read the nutrition label and ingredient list.

Not used to reading labels and doing so will make this next supermarket experience last 2 hours?  Who has time to dither over yogurt?!?! Don’t worry you can start here. I’ve summarized what to look for and how to read the nutrition labels of 3 products that always end up in my cart.

Yogurt- In cereal, fruit, smoothies, even tacos, tuna salad/sandwiches and chilly!

  • Regular vs. Greek? The low-fat and plain versions of either are great choices! But my Mediterranean’s friend thick consistency is due to extensive straining, which removes much of the liquid whey and lactose. For the same amount of calories Greek yogurt provides double the protein (8 vs. 15 grams) and half the sugar (12 vs. 7 grams). Because of the lower lactose/sugar content Greek yogurt is a great choice for low- carb dieters and those who are lactose intolerant.
  •  Leave fruit flavored behind and stick to plain.  Simple is better. Fruit flavored yogurt has a ton of added sugar because it is sweetened with more than just fruit (sugar, cane sugar, and juice concentrate).

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Peanut Butter – My mouth is watering just by typing this; my mid-afternoon snack might have to involve some PB! It’s hard not to love it! It’s been a childhood classic, but those old school brands our mothers bought (or still buy) are naughty. ‪Below are some tips to help you navigate the peanut butter aisle and identify the brands that are truly Pretty Nutritious.

  •  Avoid oils – Yes, you have to stir before spreading. Hydrogenated oils improve texture but also add trans fats. Wait, that’s not all. The so called “healthy” vegetable oils added to many of the PB’s out there should be on your “do not go near” list. Read my post “The Truth about Nuts and Omega-6″ to find out why.

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  • Avoid added sugar – It’s toxic! Dr. Hyman explained it brilliantly “it will hijack your taste buds, brain chemistry, hormones, and metabolism”.
  • Be ware of “Natural”- Remember, don’t go for what’s printed on the front of the package. Always read nutrition labels and ingredient lists.

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  • Go full fat- Those 190 calories are a good nutritional investment, plus sugar and starchy fillers replace the healthy fats that were removed.

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This is what you really want!

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Bread – Bringing home a loaf of bread requires patient, attention and reading glasses. A few shelves of loaves have turned into a full-length aisle of wrapped confusion.

  • 100% – Once more, look at the ingredient list—not the front of the package. “Whole wheat flour” or “100% whole wheat flour” should be the first ingredient and the only flour listed!  “Wheat flour,” “unbleached wheat flour,” “multigrain,” “enriched,” or “stone-ground wheat flour” are deceitful and sneaky ways of saying refined white flour.

Below is a list of good breads that are made with 100% whole-wheat flour, have no High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), have at least 3 grams of fiber and contain less than 200 mg of sodium. They however may have a big list of unrecognizable ingredients (preservatives and additives) and contain other forms of sweeteners.  One recommendation is to look for shorter ingredient lists and recognizable ingredients in general.

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If you want really good (organic, no sugar or other forms of sweeteners, no preservative and no additives) this is what you get: Good for Life Ezekiel Bread. Look for it in the freezer section.

 

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I’m sure you have plenty of other food staples that I didn’t mention! Send me your questions and I will be happy to help you find nutritious and delicious foods you should toss into your cart and which health-food impostors you should toss out.

Be Pretty Nutritious,

Mariana

Today’s Wish List

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1.Estee Lauder Limited Edition Makeup Compact, Clear by Derek Lam
2.DVF Pop Wrap Limited Edition Amelia Silk Wrap Dress In Spotted Cat Floral Lilac/ Yellow *
3. DVF Amelia Silk Combo Wrap Dress In Simple Stripe Combo *
Seriously in love!
Be Pretty Nutritious,
 Mariana

Wednesday Willpower

Wednesday Willpower

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