Monday, November 21, 2011

Healthy Holiday Thanksgiving Tips

Hey, healthy people! It's that time of year again: THANKSGIVING!!! My favorite holiday out of the whole year. Time for family, friends, fun and best of all FOOD! Hey, just because I like to keep it healthy doesn't mean I don't like to eat! Lol! And there's no reason why you can't be healthy and have a great Thanksgiving, too! Keep reading to receive some healthy holiday tips which can not only be used for Thanksgiving but throughout the rest of the year. And just in case I don't get a chance to tell you:


Here are some of nutrition tips to help you enjoy the day without worrying about your waistline:
  1. Turkey is the centerpiece of the meal, and very healthy, being high in protein, B vitamins and iron. If you can, try to stay away from the dark meat, which is over 1/3 higher in fat and calories than white meat.
  2. Don't starve all day in order to stuff in the evening. Eat regularly throughout the day. Try to have some healthy snacks in the afternoon (try vegetables, crackers, or whole grain breads with a light dip). Consider having a vegetable salad, some type of broth soup or other snack an hour or so before dinner to take the edge off of your appetite.
  3. Plan something family related post dinner that includes physical movement. A walk with family or friends, ice skating, or a neighborhood stroll. Anything that will help you digest your meal comfortably and burn calories will make a difference.
  4. Eat your favorite things first, and start with a portion somewhat smaller than your eyes tell you they want. Have a glass of water in between courses. Get up and clear dishes. Talk. Just interrupt your eating pattern. You can always help yourself to another serving if you like.
  5. Be conscious of how you are eating. If you really want extra portions of a dish or dessert, have them. Just stop and make a choice before going for it. Sometimes if you wait 3-5 minutes before eating again, you will realize that you are full.
  6. Relax and eat slowly. You can devour a huge meal in 10-15 minutes but your brain doesn't get the "I'm full" message until 15 to 20 minutes. Take some time and talk to some family/friends between courses. You can always go back for seconds.
  7. Maybe, like me, you can't do without mashed potatoes. The best with gravy are loaded with fat and calories. Start with a small serving, and add your own gravy by hand, don't let anyone else portion it out for you.
  8. Yams and sweet potatoes are great sources of Vitamin A and fiber. One yam/sweet potato has about 85 calories and no fat. Candied versions are much higher in calories and fat (145 calories/3 grams of fat). Choose wisely.
  9. Cranberry sauce is fiber rich, and low in fat. Have some. It is also high in sugars so be reasonable.
  10. Drink the equivalent of two large glasses of water 10 minutes before eating.

BONUS Hungry Girl Tips:

If You're Hosting...
  • Keep guilt-free staples on hand. Click here to check out a few Hungry Girl ingredient essentials. 
  • Make sure you don't get SO distracted that you forget to eat during the day. It's easy to get caught up in all the prep work, but remember to sip lots of water and make time for lunch. 
  • Don't give in to the "tradition" of serving a fattening feast. Serve the classics without the calorie overload! You don't have to load up the mashed potatoes with butter and heavy cream or use Grandma's sugar-and-egg-laden pumpkin pie recipe. Check out Hungry Girl's sneaky swaps for holiday favorites -- totally suitable for the dinner table!

If You're a Guest...
  • Don't leave for the party hungry! You'll arrive and immediately start grazing on appetizers and then pounce once the meal is served. Have a snack with protein and drink some water before you head out. 
  • Bring a dish. Check in with the host/hostess ahead of time and find out what you can contribute; then whip up something guilt-free and delicious. Your host will appreciate the help, and you'll know that you have at least one option that you can really indulge in no matter what else is served. 
  • Get a little physical activity earlier in the day. If you're hosting, you'll likely be moving around all day, cooking and getting your home ready for guests. But if you're just attending the party, chances are you have the day off. So take a walk in the a.m., do some yoga... whatever! 

Either Way...
  • Don't go overboard with cocktails. The calories add up! And with a glorious feast ahead, who wants to drink a ton of calories? Plus, if you ingest a lot of alcohol, you'll be more likely to make foolish food decisions later. 
  • A substantial breakfast. A light lunch. Lots of water. A protein-packed snack. What are these? Our recommendations for what to eat and drink before the holiday dinner. Don't do the "I'm saving all my calories for the big meal" thing - it's a bad idea. If you're ravenous and dehydrated at dinnertime, you'll probably overdo it. 
  • Survey before you serve. Check out your options, and consider what's worth splurging on. Then fill your plate with lean meat (turkey breast) and veggies (ones that aren't loaded with cream sauce or butter) before you tackle the decadent stuff. Salad and broth-based soups are excellent starters, too. 
  • Eat your favorites! It is a special occasion, so don't deprive yourself! Just don't go crazy with the amounts. Once you have a good base of lighter stuff in front of you, add small servings of the seasonal goodies you love. Dig stuffing? Grab a scoop. Mashed potatoes? Add a dollop to your plate. And when it comes to dessert, have a small portion of your favorite with a cup of tea or coffee.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Hey fit people! This post will be short but sweet. The subject: PEER-PRESSURE. I know some only equate this to something pre-teens & teens go through, but peer-pressure exists in the adult world, too; you can be pressured by your peers at any age. I'm specifically referring to the peer-pressure a lot of us healthy eaters receive from others who haven't chosen the healthy route. For instance, have you ever been at a party and you're looked at as being "rude" because you choose not to eat the cake? Instead of everyone else taking the attitude of "no problem, more for the rest of us", or being applauding you for being so strong willed, or just simply accepting your decision not to eat cake as no big deal (it's your mouth and not a crime after all), you not eating a slick of cake is almost ridiculed! I've been in this situation more than a couple of times and to be honest it really annoys me. No one should ever be made to feel like an outsider, especially over something so ridiculous. And for some, this is too much to handle and they are peer-pressured into eating that slice of cake (or whatever unhealthy food that applies). Now I know you may be thinking, "it's only one slice of cake", and you're right. It is only a slick of cake, and if you had chosen to eat it of your own free will that would be fine, but being peer-pressured to do anything that you don't want to do, whether that be something really serious or something as simple as eating cake, is NOT HEALTHY. In life you are either a passenger or a pilot, it's your choice. Ever heard the saying "be a leader, not a follower"? As adults we often quote these type of words to the children in our lives, but why are we often criticized when we, as adults, actually put these words into action?

As I said before, this post was intended to be short but sweet, so I'll end with this, don't ever let anyone guilt or peer-pressure you into doing something you don't want to do. It won't be worth it and can actually result in negative consequences. Take for instance the analogy with the slice of cake. Let's say you eat that cake, knowing it wasn't good for you or your goals, but you eat it anyway. Then the next day you're peer-pressured into eating another slice. A couple of days later, it's cake time again! Before you know it, your diet is all screwed up. The weight on the scale that you were aiming for that was so close before is now pounds and pounds away. Things got out of control. And it all started with 1 slice of cake, that you never even wanted in the first place and was pressured into eating from people who don't and can't control or live your life. Was it worth it? Not by a long shot. Whether the situation be health related or not, be a pilot, not a passenger and NEVER BOW DOWN TO PEER-PRESSURE.

Friday, November 11, 2011

10 Healthy Cookie Recipes

Hey everyone! How's it going? With Fall officially here and Winter right around the corner, I thought I'd do a recipe post. I know with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the other holidays that are near, there will be lots of cooking going on, and while healthy eating is a must, I'm a big believer that healthy food can be tasty food, too! Just because you're eating healthy doesn't mean that all you're allowed are fruits & vegetables. Almost any dish can be turned into a healthier dish if the right adjustments are made. Desserts are allowed, too! And what are everyone's favorite, go-to desserts? COOKIES!!! So I give you...

10 Healthy Cookie Recipes
 for the Fall & Winter Seasons
Well-known cookies get a nutritious makeover with delicious results!

1. Molasses Cookies
Give molasses cookies a wholesome upgrade with this recipe. A combo of whole-wheat flour, spices and blackstrap molasses, a natural sweetener rich in iron, produces a soft, chewy cookie laced with ginger and cinnamon. 
2 tbsp. ground flax
1 egg white
1 banana
1 c. whole-wheat flour
1 c. oats (not instant)
1/2 c. blackstrap molasses
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flax and egg white in a bowl. Set aside. Using a fork, mash banana in a bowl. Add flour and oats. Mix well. Add flax mixture and molasses, mixing until everything is combined. Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well. Scoop out rounded spoonfuls of batter onto a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes.

Makes 20 cookies

2. 20-Minute Applesauce Cookies
These satisfying sugar-free treats are so packed with dried cherries and rolled oats that they taste more like delicious granola bars. As an added bonus, you can whip them up in less than half an hour. 
3 ripe bananas
2 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. ground flax
1/2 c. dried cherries 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a fork, mash the bananas in a bowl. Stir in oats, applesauce, dried cherries, flax and vanilla extract. Mix batter well. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

Makes 36 cookies

3. Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies
Greasy peanut butter cookies get a healthful twist! Commonly used in salads or entrĂ©es, nutrient-dense quinoa grains take center stage in this simple recipe. Quinoa gives the cookies a full nutty flavor, while natural peanut butter, raw honey and cocoa nibs promise a dessert that's still sweet. 
2 c. quinoa, cooked and cooled
1/2 c. natural salted peanut butter
1/3 c. raw honey
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 c. raw cocoa nibs 
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Flatten tablespoons of the mixture onto parchment paper and bake for approximately one hour.

Makes 24 cookies

4. Carrot Cake Cookies
You can skip the cream cheese glaze when it comes to these chunky carrot cake cookies. They’re tasty enough with a sweet, moist texture from crushed pineapple and juicy raisins. Plus, a cup of freshly grated carrots means these cookies are loaded with fiber. 
1 c. white whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 egg whites
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. pineapple, drained and crushed
1/2 c. fat-free milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. raisins
1 c. carrots, grated
1 tbsp. orange zest
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients, like flour, baking soda, oats, brown sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg, in one bowl. Add the wet ingredients, like egg whites, oil, pineapple, milk and vanilla, to the dry, stirring together. Stir in raisins, carrots and walnuts. Drop by tablespoonful onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes.

Makes 30 cookies

5. No-Bake Cocoa Cookies
No baking required for these delectable bite-sized morsels! This bare-bones recipe calls for commonplace ingredients like instant oats and milk, which, when combined, create a healthy low-fat cookie. 
1 banana, mashed
4 tbsp. butter
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. nonfat milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. instant oats
1/2 c. peanut butter 
Combine all the ingredients except vanilla and oats in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Let the mixture cool. Add vanilla and oats and continue to stir. Drop by teaspoonful onto waxed paper and allow to cool.

Makes 30 cookies

6. Pumpkin Protein Cookies
Fall just wouldn't be the same without an abundance of pumpkin-flavored treats, and this recipe allows you to indulge in them without feeling guilty. Made with vanilla protein powder, these spicy pumpkin cookies are perfect for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack. 
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. applesauce
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tbsp. molasses
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. raisins 
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine ingredients in a bowl, stirring until well combined. Drop cookies onto baking sheet and press down. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 12 cookies

7. Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Both vegans and non-vegans can help themselves to these chocolate chip cookies. Whole-wheat pastry flour, which still retains much of its natural vitamins & minerals, gives this classic recipe a nutritious—and yummy—spin.

7 tbsp. Earth Balance, plus 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. cane sugar
1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp. water)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. molasses (optional)
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together the flax egg and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the Earth Balance until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and cane sugar and beat for 1-2 minutes until creamy. Beat in the flax egg. Beat in the remaining ingredients and fold in the chocolate chips. Shape balls of dough and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes.

Makes 12-14 large cookies

8. Vegan Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies
Rich in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes reach their peak during the fall and winter seasons. Take advantage of this orange-fleshed root vegetable by baking it into a scrumptious cookie full of healthy whole grains.

2/3 c. sweet potato puree
2 tbsp. ground flax seed
1/4 c. almond milk
1/3 c. canola oil
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. spelt flour
1 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. toasted pecans, chopped
1 c. dried cranberries 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix together sweet potato puree, ground flax seed and almond milk. Add the remaining wet ingredients (oil, syrup and vanilla) and mix well. Sift in spelt flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, spices, soda and salt and stir until full incorporated. Fold in the oats, pecans and dried cranberries. Using a 1/4 c. measuring cup, scoop cookie dough and drop on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave 2" of space between each cookie. Press down the scoops to form a flat patty. Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies are a light golden brown.

Makes 20 cookies

9. Pumpkin-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies
Bite into this cookie to find a creamy pumpkin surprise nestled in the middle! This vegan-friendly confection serves up an explosion of chocolate and pumpkin flavors and costs you only 75 calories per cookie.  
3/4 c. white whole-wheat flour
6 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cocoa powder
Scant 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. maple syrup or agave
2 tbsp. nondairy milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. oil
3 tbsp. pureed pumpkin
3 tbsp. nut butter of choice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 packet stevia (or 1/2 tbsp. sugar)
1/8 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Combine the first 5 ingredients and mix very well. Add ingredients 6-9 and mix again to form dough. In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients to make the filling. Using about a heaping tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball and then flatten. Place a little scoop of the filling in the center and fold up the sides of the dough. Form into a ball. Bake for about 10 minutes. Cookies should be a little undercooked when you take them out. Let stand 10 minutes.

Makes 18-20 big cookies

10. Banana-Oatmeal Power Cookies
These fiber-rich banana-oatmeal cookies give you the energy to power through your day. With ingredients like raisins, dried cranberries, walnuts and flax seeds, this cookie is equal parts healthful and delicious, so dig in!  
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp. flax seeds
2 tbsp. sunflower seeds 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease one or two baking sheets. In a bowl, stir together the flour, coconut, oats, baking soda, flax seeds, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream the brown sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Add the banana and egg and beat with a fork until blended. Stir in the flour mixture, about 1/2 c. at a time, then stir in the raisins, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and walnuts. Spoon the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet(s), spacing the cookies about 2” apart. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, switching pan positions halfway through baking if two pans were used. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet(s) on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to the rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes about 12 cookies

So what do you think? These recipes look pretty good to me! I know I plan on trying a few! Let me know if and what you decide to try and how it turns out! Enjoy!


Friday, November 4, 2011

High Intensity vs. Low Intensity: Which Is Better?

Hey fitness peeps! How's it going? I hope everyone is happy & healthy! I know with the holidays coming up, this time of the year can often make for a stressful time, making it even harder to stay focused on your goals, but I encourage you to hang in there and keep on keeping on! The new year will be here before you know it and I want you to go into 2012 feeling good about yourself and your progress. I know a lot of people around this time of year make losing weight and getting fit & healthy their new year's resolution, but I for one am not fond of that. I'm a firm believer in the saying "why put off tomorrow what you can do today?" Won't you feel good entering 2012 already ahead of the game rather than just starting? So DON'T GIVE UP AND DON'T GIVE IN! 

Now that I've got my mini-motivational speech out of the way :), let's get to the subject of this post. I know some of you have been at this for awhile and even though you're eating healthy and in moderation, and exercising 4 to 5 times a week (maybe more), you're still not seeing the results you'd like to see. While before you were losing inches consistently and/or losing 1 to 2 pounds every week, the scale has stalled and the inches have stopped coming off. In other words, you've officially hit a plateau. I've been there and it's not fun, but there are ways you can try and fight it and get your metabolism revving again. One of those ways is by increasing the intensity of your workouts. Now you may be thinking, "Jonelle, I'm working out everyday! I don't understand, why would the intensity of my workouts matter?" What's the difference between high and low intensity? Which is better?  Let's discuss...

High Intensity Vs. Low Intensity
Let’s solve the debate on low intensity vs. high intensity workouts. There are many conflicting statements about how long and how hard you need to exercise in order to lose weight. A high intensity workout is defined as exercises which push your heart rate up to 75% of its maximum or more. High intensity workouts have been proven to increase metabolism and burn more calories. In fact, high intensity burns 9 times more fat per each calorie burn during exercise. The reality is that the activity that expends the greatest amount of total calories will lead to the most amount of fat burned. Best of all, the benefits become evident in a matter of weeks!

Low Intensity Workout vs. High Intensity Workouts 

Low Intensity Workout:
50% MHR = 7 calories per minute
90% of those calories are burning fat tissue

High Intensity Workout:
75% MHR = 14 calories per minute
60% of those calories are burning fat tissue

From the above figures, it appears that you burn more fat tissue when working at a lower intensity (90% vs. 60% from fat tissue), but these numbers are misleading.  Lets look at them another way:
Low Intensity Workout:
90% x 7 calories per minute = 6.30 fat calories burned per minute

High Intensity Workout:
60% x 14 calories per minute = 8.40 fat calories burned per minute

After you do the math, you can see that you burn a greater amount of fat tissue calories from a high intensity workout than a low intensity workout (8.4 vs. 6.3 calories burned per minute). 

So high intensity vs. low intensity, which one is better? The reality is that low intensity exercise burns fewer calories. To achieve the same benefits of a high intensity workout, you are going to have to exercise longer.

Now all of this is not to say that low intensity workouts are bad. Low intensity exercises are beneficial for warming up and cooling down, before and after high intensity phases. Low intensity exercises are also good for the elderly, anyone recovering from an illness or injury, someone who is significantly overweight and out of shape, or someone who is just beginning to workout.  An excellent approach to your training is to mix intensities. Sometimes you go easy and long, and other times you go hard and fast. I do this all the time. Just remember, high intensity exercise is NOT for beginners or those with certain health problems. Never workout more than you are in shape to do. Higher intensity workouts should be reserved for those who are already physically fit or have at least been exercising regularly for at least a few months.

To help you out here is a list of the top ten cardio exercises that burn the most calories in 30 minutes:

  1. Step aerobics – this type of exercise mainly targets your legs, hips and glutes, and can burn approx. 400 calories in 30 minutes (Believe me, I know! I just got into stepping around a month ago and it is NO JOKE! An oldie' but a goodie!)
  2. Bicycling – stationary or outdoors, this is a great cardio exercise. Depending on resistance and speed, bicycling can burn 250 to 500 calories in 30 minutes. 
  3. Swimming – the breaststroke can burn approx. 400 calories in 30 minutes. 
  4. Racquetball – the side-to-side sprinting makes this an excellent cardio workout. 
  5. Rock climbing – is not only a cardio exercise, but it also uses arm and leg strength.
  6. Cross-country skiing – is an unbelievable cardio exercise as it engages both upper and lower body, whether done on a machine or outdoors in snow. 
  7. Running – this is an outstanding cardio exercise because all you need is a pair of quality running shoes. 
  8. Rowing – gives your arms an incredible workout. 
  9. Elliptical trainer – a great way to build endurance. 
  10. Walking – a less strenuous form of cardio exercise.

source(s): and