home gardening

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love food. My love of eating and trying new foods, especially health-boosting plants, eventually led me to a love for cooking. These days, I love to have fun in the kitchen and create new combinations of my favorite foods, try spices I’ve never cooked with before and experiment with ways to “healthify” my recipes. That means reducing saturated fats, sodium and added sugars and using plenty of fruits, vegetables and herbs.

In recent years, I’ve been fortunate to learn more about how food goes from farm to table. I’ve met farmers and others in the food industry who play a role in delivering safe and delicious food. Something else unexpected happened: I got interested in growing food! No, I’ll never be a farmer, and I’ll probably never be able to prepare a meal entirely from food my family grows, but I do get a thrill from watching my small fig tree go from a bare stick to an actual tree that sprouts leaves in early spring and grows tiny brown fruit late in the summer. Maybe this will be the year of my tree’s young life that figs will grow big, juicy and plentiful. Also in my yard are tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, eggplants and herbs, herbs and more herbs. At various times, we’ve grown lettuce, peanuts, broccoli, sunflowers, peppers, pumpkin, cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries, summer squash and a few other summer vegetables.

For the Love of Gardening

In addition to nature’s bounty, there’s plenty to love about gardening, whether you choose to grow food or flowers.

  • You experience the joy of nurturing and creating. Putting your hands in the dirt and tending to something growing is calming, satisfying and, to many people, spiritual.
  • Gardening helps you unplug from a noisy, fast-paced world.
  • You can pick your crops at their peak of ripeness and when you’re ready to eat them. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide the most nutrition when they are eaten shortly after harvest. It is very rewarding to go out in my backyard just before dinner to pick a few asparagus and herbs and toss them lightly with oil before heating and then eating.
  • If you grow fruits and vegetables, you might eat more of them. And that’s critically important, as most Americans fall woefully short of the recommended servings of these disease-fighting foods.
  • Gardening gives you exercise with a purpose. Bending, stretching, digging, even pulling weeds count as light exercise. This is a terrific way to decrease our sedentary time. Too much sitting and too little activity are linked to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Even if you’re not ready to dig into the earth or if you don’t have a yard to dig, you can enjoy a small container garden. Visit a nursery to pick out a container and a few types of seeds or plants.

Serve Up Nature’s Bounty Deliciously

This is the most delightful time of year to bring a boatload of nutritious fruits and vegetables into your kitchen. The freshest produce burst with flavor and often need nothing more than a good rinse before serving. Enjoy tomatoes, cucumbers, berries and so many more spring and summer beauties straight out of hand. Try these simply prepared combinations too, all of which are made sweeter and more delicious with stevia extract. Interestingly, stevia is a plant related to a common flower that may be in your garden – chrysanthemum or mum, for short.

  • Place sliced fresh tomatoes and peaches on a plate. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves, and drizzle with a dressing of sherry vinegar, olive oil, stevia and salt and pepper.
  • Freeze your favorite combination of berries. Using a food processor, mix frozen berries, water and stevia until mostly smooth. Freeze the mixture in a popsicle mold or ice tray for a frozen treat.
  • Flavor iced tea with lemon or orange slices, stevia and either basil or mint leaves.

I hope you’ll get outside and grow something delicious!

 

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss – Week by Week and two upcoming books, The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition and 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and Your Heart. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the American Diabetes Association. Jill is a paid contributor to Sucralose.org. Follow Jill on Twitter @NutritionJill and find more at www.JillWeisenberger.com.

sweet tooth

When you’re a dietitian, the assumption is that eating healthy comes effortlessly to you. Believe me, that is not necessarily the case.  As a kid (and like many adults to this day), I turned up my nose at vegetables, preferred pizza to a healthy, home-cooked dinner and ate sugar like it was nobody’s business. However, as a teenage girl, I became concerned with my weight. Unfortunately, like a lot of girls do, I experimented with all sorts of diets (None of which stuck, of course.).  By the time I got to college, I was frustrated when failing at yet another fad diet quick fix for weight loss. I decided I wanted to know the healthy way to treat my body, which is how I found my calling as a Registered Dietitian.

That was just the beginning though. My diet has evolved over years from learning to actually like vegetables, teaching myself to cook, and my biggest challenge – taking control of my love of sweets. I’ve come to the realization that I am never going be able to cut all sugar from my diet; it just wouldn’t be sustainable. So I had to use a little ingenuity to develop strategies that would work for me. Ultimately, I learned how to control my sweet tooth by coming up with strategies that would allow me to indulge it in moderation. Here are some other things I learned:

I make sure good food comes first.

The purpose of eating is to provide your body the nutrients it needs to function. So I make it my priority to eat the healthy food I need before I dive into the treats.  Long story short – I have to eat my broccoli first if I am going to eat a cookie!

I learned to cook.

You do not have to be the next Top Chef, but learning to cook and bake opens so many doors when it comes to creating a menu that is both healthy and tasty. You have total control over what goes into your meal, and that can be very empowering. One tip I give my clients is that if you are really craving something you feel is unhealthy, find a healthy version recipe. Every time you eat is an opportunity for good nutrition.

I use stevia.

We do only need so many calories for the day so you do have to choose wisely on how you spend them. Stevia is a great low-calorie sugar alternative. I add it to my tea so my small cup of tea it does not become a calorie bomb. I use it in baking to make my recipes more waistline friendly. Stevia is my go-to for anytime I want some sweetness, but need to keep the calories and excess sugar in check. Check out steviabenefits.org recipes for ideas on how you can use stevia in your diet.

I prioritize sleep.

Fatigue is the arch nemesis of a healthy and balanced diet. Not getting enough sleep wreaks havoc on the hormones that regulate your hunger. You may find yourself snacking all day to try to boost your energy, and unfortunately, it tends to be the sweet stuff we go after. While it’s tempting to stay up and watch the end of that movie or do one last load of laundry….just GO TO BED!

I manage my stress.

Stress is a common reason for indulging a sweet tooth. For many of us, our first inclination is to run to the kitchen when we feel those stress levels building. To take control of your stress is to take control of your sweet tooth. Try replacing stress eating with a healthier coping technique, like reading, mediation, yoga, exercise, crafting, or any activity you find relaxing.

I am open minded when it comes to food.

I don’t discriminate when it comes to food. I love it all, the good, bad, and the ugly. This wasn’t always the case, but I found as I became more willing to try new foods, healthy eating started to feel less restrictive. The more healthy foods I discovered, the less I relied on sweets and junk food to get enjoyment from my meals. You don’t have to like everything, but you should be willing to try anything!

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

SONY DSC

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the most important steps to take in maintaining good health. However, it is not a surprise that this is where Americans tend to struggle the most in the quest for better health. As the seasons change and we go from the fall harvest to winter, many of our favorites disappear or become quite pricey.

And while it may seem like so much produce is out of season, there actually are some super tasty fruits and veggies that come into season during winter.  Here’s a rundown of seasonal winter produce that can help bolster your nutrition this winter.

Persimmon

There are two types of persimmons, the Hachiya (shaped like an acorn) and Fuyu (shaped like a squashed tomato.)  Persimmons are an excellent source of Vitamin A and fiber at only approximately 120 calories. A ripe persimmon has a rich and sweet flavor that make it great as a stand-alone snack or addition to recipe. Note: You want to be sure the persimmon is completely ripe otherwise it can taste bitter and starchy.  

Pomegranate

The pomegranate is a very sweet fruit made up of little seeds. The pomegranate is a great source of fiber, folate, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. It can be a bit labor intensive to pull the seeds from the pomegranate, but it is well worth the effort as you will end up with several servings of seeds. Sprinkle them on a salad or maybe try Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce this holiday season for a fun low-sugar twist on cranberry sauce.

Kiwi

This sweet little jewel of a fruit comes into season in the wintertime. The kiwi is a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, copper, fiber, and potassium. Easy to peel, they are a tasty and healthy snack at 42 calories.

Snow Peas

Snow peas are a rich in nutrition as a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic acid, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Fiber, Vitamins A, C, K, Thiamin, Folate, Iron, and Manganese. They are also very low in calories at approximately 35 calories for a 1 cup serving. They make a fantastic low-cal midday snack or can be used to add a fresh crunch to any dish or salad.

Parsnips

If you enjoy carrots, you will like the parsnips. While parsnips are lighter in color, they have a similar taste and texture to carrots. They are a good source of Potassium, Vitamin C, Folate, and Manganese. Use parsnips as a way to mix up your usual recipes and make fun, healthy winter recipes.

Winter Squash

The term winter squash encompasses several varieties of squash such as Butternut, Acorn, Delicata, and Spaghetti squash that are highly available in your local grocery in the winter months. While nutrition will vary between squash, they all are low in calories and high in fiber for a healthy winter veggie option. You can roast them or mash them, or even use them as a pasta alternative. Try this Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese replacing the sugar with stevia to keep it light. There are no limits to the ways you can prepare these winter veggies!

Check out the seasonal recipes section on www.steviabenefits.org for more recipes to keep you warm this winter.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

pumpkin

Some people cannot wait until the calendar turns from August to September, just so they can enjoy a variety of seasonal pumpkin food and drink offerings for the rest of the year!  Some folks don’t enjoy pumpkin-spice everything, but I, for one, am totally team pumpkin. I love the nostalgia related to the taste and smell of pumpkin. Even though the season is winding down, I still try to use pumpkin year round. Pumpkin is low in calories, but rich in fiber, vitamin A and other essential vitamins – making it a great addition to a healthy diet.

While the opportunity to try new pumpkin recipes is abundant this time of year, the down side is that many of these foods can be high in sugar, calories, and fat. But fear not pumpkin lovers – we can still evolve our recipes to enjoy healthier versions of the season’s favorites (And really, any time of year is the right time to take control of your diet and adapt recipes).

To celebrate the closing of pumpkin season, I have taken a popular pumpkin recipe to showcase how you can adapt recipes to fit into your healthy diet.

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

I love fruit and vegetable breads. They can be versatile as a dessert or as a quick breakfast – and they are easy to alter into healthier versions.  I decided to modify a recipe for pumpkin zucchini bread, which allows for bonus vegetables! The adapted recipe comes from Taste of Home’s Pumpkin Zucchini Bread.

My Adaptions to the Recipe:

  • I decided to add whole wheat flour to the recipe to add in more fiber and grains to the bread. I used 1.5 cups all-purpose flour and then 1.5 cups of whole white wheat flour.  (Note: You can completely substitute out the all-purpose flour for the wheat flour for a heartier, denser, and higher fiber bread.)
  • I also substituted ½ cup canola oil (with added omega-3) and ½ cup unsweetened applesauce for the 1 cup of butter. I love using unsweetened applesauce in breads as a partial fat substitute because not only does it cut fat and calories, but it adds in moisture for good texture.
  • The change that had the biggest impact was replacing the 1 cup of white sugar and  1 cup of brown sugar with 1 cup of stevia for baking.  Stevia for baking is not a zero calorie replacement, but a reduced calorie blend of cane sugar and stevia. This product facilitates the browning, taste, and texture which come from sugar in baking while significantly reducing the calories.

The Final Product

The final product was delicious! My adaptions resulted in a tasty, moist bread that I ate for breakfast the whole week. Nutritionally, the changes I made reduced the calories from 176 per slice down to 123 calories per slice, cut fat from 9g to 6.7g, and reduced sugar from 13g down to 3.9g per slice. That is a 9g reduction in sugar in just one slice!

This is just one example of how simple changes can be made to turn a typically high-calorie, high-fat and high-sugar food into something more nutritious. What is one of your favorite recipe adaptations?

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

 

 

ask the expert

The recommendations to decrease sugar in our diets are increasing. Thankfully, Stevia is here to help! Stevia is a low-calorie sweetener that is a great alternative to sugar for those looking to reduce sugar and calories in their diet. If you are new to using stevia, or have never tried it before, you may have some questions. Carolyn Reynaud, a registered dietitian, answers your stevia questions for you.

I have been drinking at least 3 cans of lemon< diet cola for at least 4 years. I heard last night that Stevia causes cancer. How should I proceed? I made an appointment with my doctor but that is a month away, I have thrown out the three cases I had at I am home. Are other products tainted? I have not seen Stevia printed on any other cartons. Please let me know as I am concerned. Does Stevia sweeteners cause cancer? My Wife said she heard it on TV.
Does the sweetener stevia have any chemicals in it?
I have read that low calorie sweeteners add to belly fat supposedly because they are not natural, the body does not process them like food, but stores them as fat. Is this true? I've been trying to get rid of belly fat for quite some time now. Unfortunately, I drink a lot of diet sodas. Also, I have read that Stevia, because it is a natural substance from a plant does not contribute to belly fat like the others do.
Does Stevia neutralize calcium intake?
I understand that some Stevia products have a bad taste or after taste. Which brands more palatable?
Are cookies made with stevia sold in stores? If so, what brand, and what stores sell them?
What is the difference between regular stevia and Stevia in the Raw?
Can stevia be used like sugar in retarding fruit spoilage? For instance -- cutting strawberries in half and sprinkling layers in a jar w/sugar will keep them in the fridge for longer than it ever takes my family to eat them! Will stevia work this way?
If I wanted to substitute Stevia for pure cane sugar in baking, what would the ratio of Stevia to sugar be?
I have started a ketogenic diet. I am also a restaurant owner. I’m loving the whole concept. I am trying to learn more about using stevia in some of my recipes. For example, I have a recipe that I use 3/4 cup of sugar in a sorbet. Can I use liquid stevia, stevia extract or a powder/granule style of stevia.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Composition with variety of raw vegetables. Vegetarian diet

Are you thinking of making Meatless Monday, every day? If you’re considering trying a vegetarian diet you should know that going to a plant-based diet can potentially reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

However, simply cutting meat from your diet does not always equate to a healthy diet. There are several variances to what is deemed a “vegetarian diet.” Here are some examples:

  • Lacto-vegetarian: Includes dairy products.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: Includes eggs.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Includes eggs and dairy.
  • Partial vegetarians: May include one meat source like fish or poultry.
  • Vegan: Excludes all animal products including meat, dairy, and eggs.

Be Mindful of These Nutrients

Unfortunately, the more restrictive the vegetarian diet, the more potential for nutritional deficiencies. A common mistake is relying too heavily on starches and processed foods in trying to replace meat in the diet. However, with knowledge and planning you can create a healthful vegetarian diet that meets all your nutritional needs.  If you are considering going veggie, here are some nutrients you need to be mindful of as you shift your diet:

  • ProteinProtein is an important part of a balanced and healthy diet. There are plenty of plant-based proteins that can help you to meet your daily requirements such as soy products, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Additionally, some grain products like quinoa and fortified cereals also qualify as a source of protein. If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian, eggs and dairy products are also an excellent source of protein.
  • Vitamin B-12: Vitamin B-12 is important in the creation of red blood cells and prevention of anemia that is only available through animal sources. If you do not include eggs and dairy in your diet you will want to take measures to supplement B-12 in your diet through supplements, fortified cereals, or fortified soy products.
  • Calcium and Vitamin DCalcium is readily available in dairy products. However, if you are avoiding or limiting dairy you can also get your calcium through plant foods such as dark leafy greens (kale, turnip greens, collards, and broccoli) or foods that have been fortified with calcium like orange juice, almond milk, cereals, and soy products. Vitamin D is also a nutrient that you may be at risk for deficiency on a vegetarian diet dependent on your food choices. Be sure to eat an adequate amount of fortified foods or add a supplement to get your daily Vitamin D.
  • Iron and zincIron and zinc are two nutrients that while available from plant foods, plant sources are not easily absorbed. You can find iron dried beans, lentils, dried fruit, dark leafy greens, and fortified cereals. Eating iron-rich foods with sources of vitamin C, like strawberries, citrus, tomatoes, etc. can help aid absorption.

Balance Your Plate

As mentioned, to have a healthy vegetarian diet you have to take steps beyond just avoiding meat. To create a healthy plate eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies; at least half your plate should be fruit and veggies at meals and snacks. Choose whole grain starches like whole grain pastas, rice, quinoa, couscous, breads and cereals. Include a serving of healthy vegetarian protein with each of your meals to round out your plate. To get started on your vegetarian adventure experiment with this tasty Southwestern Gazpacho Soup.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

news

Each month of the year has it’s own health observations to bring light to the wellness issues that impact our society.  With children going back to school, this September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Growing obesity rates affect not only adults, but children and adolescents, too. Currently one out every five children in the United States is obese, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately with increasing obesity rates we also see an increase in related health conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea among children. Not only are obese children at a higher risk to become obese adults; but the risk factors associated with weight are more likely to be severe.  These children also have a higher risk of being the target of bullying, having lower self-esteem and potential depression and behavioral issues.
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back to school and supplies on wood background

Heading back to school can be an exciting but stressful time. Good bye to the slow pace of summer and hello to early mornings, rushing out the door. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by a hectic schedule and start ditching healthy behaviors. Planning ahead and creating a healthy back-to-school routine can make for a smooth transition for you and your kiddos.

Here are some tips for a seamless (and healthy) back to school transition:

Start Early

Get ahead of the game by starting your bedtime routine a week BEFORE going back to school.  This way, those first mornings will run like clockwork. Make sure your kids are getting adequate sleep for their age. Kids that do not get enough sleep may be cranky, have trouble getting along with others, and have trouble paying attention.

Healthy Breakfast

Set your alarm to make time for a healthy breakfast before school. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is linked to better concentration, lower cholesterol, and a decrease risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in kids. Short on time in the morning? You can make and freeze these easy Healthy Breakfast Burritos for a grab-and-go breakfast, or whip up this delicious Blueberry Mango Smoothie

Balanced Lunch

A well-balanced lunch can help keep your kid’s energy levels up for the rest of the day. A balanced lunch contains whole grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy and a protein. For example, try a whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus, cucumber and tomatoes with a side of strawberries and a Greek yogurt. Use insulated lunch boxes and thermos to help keep cold food cold and warm food warm. For more lunch ideas check out the Back to School board on Pinterest.

Fit in Exercise

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that kids get in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.   After a long day of learning have your kids blow off steam by riding bikes, running, swimming, skating, or playing outside. Exercise can be a family affair, as well. Take a walk, play a sport or a bike ride as a family. This is a great way to spend time together and promote physical fitness for everyone.

Eat Together as a Family

Family dinner is a nice way to catch up on everyone’s day and teach your kids about healthy eating. Research indicates that when families eat together, kids are more likely to eat healthfully, do better in school and have higher self-esteem.  To get more buy-in from your kids, let them participate in preparing dinner. This helps them feel more invested in your meals, teaches them important cooking skills, and can eventually be a time saver for you.

Don’t Overschedule

You may want to introduce your kids to as many hobbies, sports, skills as possible, but kids can get overworked and stressed too.  Not only do kids experience stress, but they are effected by your stress level, as well. Be realistic about what fits into your family’s schedule. Make sure there is still room for play, relaxation, and family time.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Untitled design (20)

When I was in my 20’s, and even early 30’s, going to Sephora was like being at the playground.  There was always something new and shiny to try on.  It was exhilarating and fun.  The only downside?  Deciding which shade or hue was the most eye catching and would ultimately be your new found friend.

Fast forward a decade+  and now Sephora is like boot camp. Untitled design (19) Today, products have to be so much more than just pretty and I have to army crawl, rock climb and long jump my way to find them.  At almost 40, they have to de-wrinkle, de-puff, tighten, plump AND look good.  And, did I mention they have to have staying power?  As a mom of three, touch ups are not on the agenda and there’s no one more thankful for a multi-tasking beauty product than this momma.  Sunscreen, moisturizer and foundation in one?  Check.  If it can also tighten and de-wrinkle, that is what I call the Holy Grail.

But recently, in a People magazine interview, Jennifer Aniston noted the importance of what we put into our bodies.  According to the interview, Jennifer Aniston uses stevia in her morning coffee as well as in her morning protein shake, which reminded me that foods and beverages not only play a role in a healthy weight but also healthy skin. (Duh!) Our skin is the largest organ of the human body and we need to take care of it  — not just with topical creams and lotions but also with the fuel we intake on a daily basis!  One key way to do that is through hydration, which is important for great looking skin (so they tell me).  My only problem is that as much as I like water, I get bored of it… quickly.  Sometimes I want something with taste and flavor (but without the unwanted calories).  This is where a low-calorie sweetener like stevia can come into play.  And, it looks like I am in good company, or should I say beautiful company.

The article notes, “The star [Jennifer Aniston] says she now knows that beauty is really learning to love every single thing about yourself. And also realizing that it’s not just clothes and what’s happening [on the outside],” she adds.  “There’s so much more that’s beautiful in a human being.”  So cheers to Jennifer Aniston for reminding women that they are so much more than just their face and body and reminding us about some easy healthy ways to nourish ourselves.

But for those of us who still want de-puffed,  wrinkle free and glowing skin, try hydrating the inside (along with any miracle cream or potion you love – hey – I’m not above admitting I’ll take any and all help – on the inside and out).

Click here for some great hydrating, stevia filled recipes.  Enjoy! 

 

 

swimming pool under water ...

Do you find your activity level changes with the seasons? Exercise is an important part of weight management and overall health and it’s imperative to maintain an exercise routine year round. Summer heat can be particularly challenging for outdoor exercise. And while you can certainly exercise indoors, most of us want the fresh air and sunshine that we’ve missed while hibernating indoors during winter months.  So, rather than letting the summer heat make you give up your favorite outdoor activities take some simple precautions to keep moving.

Heat-Related Illness

Heat-related illness is our biggest concern when it comes to being active in the heat. Here’s a rundown of different potential illnesses that you should be aware of during exercise:

  • Heat cramps are muscle spasms that result from loss of a large amount of salt and water through exercise.
  • Heat syncope is a form heat illness that may cause lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating.
  • Heat stroke occurs due to the failure of the body’s temperature-regulating mechanism when exposed to prolonged heat exposure. Heat stroke is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

If you experience any of these illnesses you need to cool down fast. Take off any extra clothing, place cool wet towels or ice packs on forehead, neck, an under arms or take a cool bath if possible. Make sure to drink plenty of water. If your symptoms do not improve seek medical attention.

Safety First

Follow these simple guidelines to prevent heat illness and get the most from your workouts.

  • Pay attention to the heat index; both heat and humidity can affect your body’s ability to cool off.
  • Take time to acclimate to higher temperatures if you have been exercising in cooler temperatures until now. Exercise at a lower intensity until your body adjusts.
  • Avoid exercising in the middle of the day, when the temperature is the hottest. Try exercising in the morning or evening for cooler, more comfortable temperatures.
  • Wear light-colored, loose fitting, and breathable clothing.
  • Wear plenty of sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn
  • Exercise in the shade when possible.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Do not wait until you feel thirsty to drink.

Think Outside the Box

To get more out of your summer workouts, veer from your normal routine. Exercise in a pool or lake to keep cool. There are plenty of fun activities you can do in the water like swimming, water aerobics, kayaking, or paddle boarding. You can also hop on your bike or rollerblades to create your own cool breeze to keep you cool and active. Join an early morning or late evening exercise group for a good workout while enjoying some fun social time. There are plenty of ways to make summer work for you and take your exercise to a new level.

 

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Crowd of waving American flags.

Memorial Day signals the kick-off to the summer season; a time for backyard barbecues, picnics, bonfires and pool parties. Unfortunately, for the waistline this can mean an array of heavy pasta salads, decadent meats, sugary cocktails and indulgent desserts.

The truth is, warmer weather, birthdays, holidays – regardless of the time of year, there’s always going to be temptation that will lead the most disciplined eater to veer off the healthy path.

Living healthfully means that you have to learn to be able to navigate social situations without throwing healthy eating out the window. The good news is that you don’t have to be deprived of delicious food.  You can start this season right by skipping your typical calorie-laden fare and experimenting with new and healthy party foods that everyone will love. Let’s break it down by course.

Appetizers

The appetizer selection sets the mood for any party, but it can also be a minefield of calories. Select light and healthy appetizers that won’t fill you or your guests up before the main meal.

  • Shrimp Salsa: At only 26 calories per serving this light and refreshing dip packs a protein punch that would go perfect with homemade tortilla chips.
  • Spiced Sweet Red Roasted Pepper Hummus: Hummus is always a satisfying treat and this recipe takes it to a new level with and the addition of roasted red peppers and a kick of spice. Serve this dip with a veggie tray to add a bit of crunch.
  • Veggie and/or Fruit tray: It doesn’t get any easier than a veggie/fruit tray, this light and low calorie starter also doubles as dippers for other dishes.

The Grill

The grill is one of the simplest stages for healthy eating with limitless possibilities for delightful meals. Seriously, grilled food is the best and one of your healthiest avenues of cooking.  Tasty and full of flavor, it would be hard for anyone to say “no” to a meal fresh off grill.

  • Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce This tangy recipe would go great on grilled chicken breast or pork tenderloin medallions. The sugar is replaced with stevia extract to maintain that traditional sweetness without the extra calories of sugar.
  • Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Balsamic Veggies on the grill are fantastic and this is the perfect option for your veggie lover guests or those with a more adventurous palate. Portobello mushrooms are a hearty, tasty replacement for meat and is significantly lower in fat and calories.

The Sides

Side dishes are a great way to show off you culinary skills without too much effort. You can get creative or stay traditional and still keep it healthy.

  • Spicy Fiesta Slaw The spicy slaw keeps the calories low by using low-fat mayo and replacing the sugar with stevia. Not only that, but adding a good dose of spice to your food is a good way to keep your portion size moderate.
  • Summer Salad A refreshing salad filled to the brim with nutrients from tomato, avocado, fresh corn, and greens. Top this salad with homemade sesame dressing using stevia.

Wash it All Down

Beverages. Probably the most silent calorie monster of them all! Calories consumed in beverages easily go unnoticed, but add up very quickly. Here are some options so that you save your calories for the main event.

  • Strawberry Lemonade Nothing says summer like freshly squeezed lemonade. This recipe takes it up a notch by adding strawberries and cuts the sugar with stevia. You can make the virgin version or add a splash of vodka for an adult cocktail.
  • Mojito What would be a better use of mint from your herb garden than a delightful mojito? Also another low-sugar option for you and your guests.

The Grand Finale-Dessert

Since all the food choices have been light and healthy, there will be plenty of room for dessert.

  • Fruit Pizza Fruit Pizza is such a visually stunning dish. Its rainbow of fruits will certainly impress all your guests (and it’s only 120 calories per serving)!

That completes a lavish (and easy) party menu that won’t make you hesitant to step on the scale in the morning.  Now enjoy a guilt-free Memorial Day and summer eating season.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Multiethnic Group of People Smiling

Research on regular users of low-calorie sweeteners has found they have better diets than nonusers. If that isn’t incentive to use them, I don’t know what is! Of course, adding a low-calorie sweetener to your coffee isn’t all it takes to become healthy and thin, but studies show it can be part of a healthy lifestyle for many people and helps them reach their goals. And that’s exactly what the latest study by researchers Adam Drewnowski and Colin Rehm at the University of Washington found.

Since other research has reported an association between low-calorie sweeteners and obesity by simply looking at who was using them and their weight classification, Drewnowski and Rehm wanted to answer the question, “What came first, the weight gain or the use of low-calorie sweeteners?”

In their study, they went back 10 years to see peoples’ weight histories and their intent, or motivation, to lose weight during that time. What they found is the use of low-calorie sweeteners was common among people who were experiencing weight fluctuations and who were trying to return to a lower weight. In fact, nearly one-third of adults trying to lose or maintain weight used low-calorie sweetened products.

As anyone who has lost weight knows, it is easy to regain. When that starts to happen, there is a tendency to resume the weight loss strategies that helped in the past, like using low-calorie sweeteners. Even people experiencing weight gain for the first time and those with the early warning signs of diabetes may decide to use low-calorie sweeteners as a first step to reduce their caloric intake or added sugars in their diet. In both these examples, the low-calorie sweetener was selected after the problem of weight gain or prediabetes was identified, not the other way around.

Asking the Right Questions

Here’s how the study was done.

Information was collected from more than 22,000 adults about their use of low-calorie sweeteners in the past 24 hours, their intent to lose or maintain weight over the past 12 months and their 10-year weight history. Height and weight records were used to classify the participants as normal weight, overweight or obese during the period under investigation and a questionnaire was completed to determine if they had been diagnosed with diabetes.

Drawing the Right Conclusions

What the researchers found was the use of low-calorie sweeteners was associated with self-reported intention to lose weight during the previous 12 months, indicating it was a strategy being selected to help with weight loss.   They also found those who reported they were trying to lose or maintain weight during the past 12 months were much more likely to use low-calorie sweeteners, and  this was true for participants at any weight, not just those who were overweight or obese. This finding provides the strongest evidence yet that low-calorie sweeteners do not cause weight gain, but are chosen to help prevent it.

They also found those who reported they were trying to lose or maintain weight during the past 12 months were much more likely to use low-calorie sweeteners.

A final conclusion drawn from this research, based on the analysis of the 10-year weight change data, is that obese individuals may have switched to diet beverages made with low-calorie sweeteners after they gained weight.  This supports the possibility that use of low-calorie sweeteners may be a useful “marker” to identify people have experienced weight gain and are trying to reduce it.

What Does This Mean For You?

We now have better evidence than ever that low-calorie sweeteners are deliberately chosen by individuals as a weight management strategy and do not contribute to weight gain. Using low-calorie sweeteners in place of sugar is a simple step anyone can take to help reduce their caloric intake as part of a healthy lifestyle.

 


Robyn FlipseRobyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN
 is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

diabetes

According to the WHO, currently 422 million people in the world have diabetes. What’s more staggering is that the WHO projects that number is likely to double in the next 20 years. In 2012, official numbers from a WHO report suggested that 1.5 million deaths were directly related to diabetes.

Diabetes: The Basics

Diabetes is a disease that impairs the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates (or carbs).  Those who are currently living with this diagnosis can manage their condition with medication, diet and exercise. The diet for someone with diabetes involves focusing on managing carbs; choosing healthy, nutritious carbs in appropriate amounts.

Carbohydrates 101              

Carbs are starches, sugar, and fiber found in many of the foods we eat. You will commonly find carbs in food like grains (pasta, rice, and bread), beans, legumes, starchy vegetables, dairy and sweetened foods.  When you are managing diabetes your doctor or dietitian will usually recommend you limit your carbohydrates to a certain amount based on your calorie needs. To best manage your blood sugar you will want to fill those slots with the most nutritious carbs available.  Here are some healthy options:

Whole Grains

Grains are the starchy foods you may have in your diet like rice, pasta, bread, cereals and crackers. To get the most nutrients out of your grains always go with the whole grain variety. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, phytoestrogen and minerals. The benefits of choosing a high fiber food is that fiber slows the breakdown of starch into glucose to create a steady blood sugar level (whereas with processed starches you may experience more spikes in blood sugar). To make sure that you are getting whole grains, read the ingredient list and make sure the word “whole” prefaces the word grain.

Beans, Legumes and Starchy Vegetables

Beans and legumes are rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins and protein. Starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas and pumpkin are similarly a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Fruit

Fruit is an important part of a healthy diet. Eating a variety of fruit can provide you with numerous vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber.

Dairy

Dairy products like milk, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt are a good source of vitamin D, calcium and protein. Make sure you opt for low-fat dairy products to keep calories low.

Where Does Stevia Fit into Diabetes Management?

Sugar is probably the trickiest carbohydrate for those trying to manage their blood sugar. Sugar is found naturally in many healthy foods, but added sugars can add up quickly and have an  impact on blood sugar levels. People with diabetes have limited space in their diets for carbohydrates as it is; and when they opt for carbs, they should be filled with good nutritional value. But there are times where we need to indulge in a bit of sweetness. This is where stevia can fit into your diet and be a useful tool in controlling sugar levels. Leaving sweets out completely can make people with diabetes feel deprived; which can lead to making it harder to follow a moderate-carb lifestyle.

Stevia is a natural, no-calorie sweetener that has zero impact on blood glucose or insulin, making it safe and useful for diabetics.  For example, you save some carbohydrates for a healthy breakfast by replacing sugar in your coffee with stevia drops. Or, you can use stevia while baking to cut sugar and carbs in a homemade dessert.  Want more ideas for reduced sugar foods? Check out the recipe section to learn how to integrate stevia into your diet.

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

A detail image of washing tomatoes at home in the sink.

I have a lot of passion for nutrition, but one area I am especially fervent about is food safety. Anyone who has eaten with me might even venture to say I’m borderline obsessive about the issue (wink, wink.) I have lived dangerously; eaten pizza that was left out all night; allowed chicken to defrost on the counter. I’ve even played with fire by eating potato salad that had been out room temperature all day. (Note: At the time, I didn’t know the risk I was taking, flirting with the most miserable 24-48 hours one could spend – not to mention potentially ruining a craving for a food forever.)

While food poisoning is certainly no fun, for more vulnerable populations like the elderly, immune-compromised and pregnant women it can be very serious, possibly fatal. The good news is that there are steps you can take to keep your food safe and reduce your risk of getting food poisoning. Let’s run through these quick steps below.

Four Simple Steps

Foodsafety.gov recommends 4 easy steps to follow to keep your food safe; clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Keep It Clean

  • Cleanliness is the first important step in preparing your food. Be sure to wash your hands before handling food and also in between if handling raw meat or eggs. You should wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap under warm running water.
  • Rinse all fruits and vegetables, even if you plan to peel them. Fruits and vegetables can carry illness bearing bacteria which can also spread to the insides when cut.
  • All surfaces that come in contact with your food also have the potential to transfer bacteria. Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counter tops with each use.
  • You should skip washing your meats, as this can actually propagate the spread of bacteria.

Keep It Separate

  • Use separate cutting boards and plates for meats/poultry/seafood/eggs; as well as for ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables. This step will help you to avoid cross contamination.
  • The same principle goes for in your fridge or grocery cart. Ask your grocer for a plastic bag to cover raw meat. Juice may leak from raw meat packages onto foods that are ready to eat.

Cook

  • A very important aspect to preventing food-borne illness is to cook foods at the right temperature. Making sure you are cooking your meal at the right temperature for the right amount of time assures you will kill food-borne bacteria.
  • Not only is it important to cook food at the right temperature, but it must be kept at least 140 degrees after cooking to maintain a safe temperature. You can keep foods warm for serving using products like chafing dishes, slow cookers and warmers.
  • As food begins to cool, bacteria start to grow. The danger zone is between 40-140 degrees. (Personally, I am a big fan of using food thermometers to assure my meals are cooked to and kept at the right temperature.)

Chill

  • Bacteria starts growing in perishable foods within two hours, so it is important to either refrigerate food within two hours or keep cold foods between 32-40 degrees for serving.

One final note about serving food – I would like to highlight, once again, that if you are serving food for an extended period of time, hot food should be kept at 140 degrees or more and cold foods should be kept between 32-40 degrees; or it should all be refrigerated within two hours. Not meeting these guidelines is the most common food safety mistake that I see in my work as a dietician.

Ready to practice your new-found food safety skills? Try this Teriyaki Chicken Wing with Hot Mango Dipping Sauce recipe made with stevia!

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

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Everyone knows that losing weight means making changes in the way we eat and our level of activity. Eating less + moving more = losing weight. But we also need to hydrate. Many times, calories from beverages seem to escape our attention. A glass of wine here, a soda there, and a sweet tea for good measure… we consume calories mindlessly. Before you know it, you’ve drunk way more calories than intended and in turn have blown through your allotment for the day.

So, what kind of beverage choices can you make that taste great and allow you to stay on track? Well, water of course! It’s the obvious choice, right?  But let’s be honest – for some, water can be a bit boring. And when you are on a weight loss plan, getting bored with choices can lead you to a rut. Strictly sticking with water may be hard to sustain, making weight loss even more difficult.

The secret to long term success in weight management is the ability to marry a healthy diet with your favorite personal food preferences. Luckily we have products available, like stevia, that can help you find or create beverages that you enjoy while cutting calories.

There has been a lot of controversy about the impact of drinking diet beverages and weight loss. You may have seen news segments and articles on the internet claiming that diet drinks can cause you to crave sweets and worse – gain weight! However, you can’t always believe what you read and headlines can often be misleading. Frequently, these articles with eye-catching titles are more about internet “click bait” and less about the real story.

Click bait aside, the truth is that there is a significant amount of research supporting that diet drinks are in fact a tool in losing weight. One recent study published in the June 2014 issue of the Obesity, looked to assess the impact of diet beverages on weight loss. The 12-week clinical trial directly compared the effects of drinking diet drinks to drinking water alone while on a calorie controlled diet. Low and behold, at the conclusion of the study, not only did both groups lose weight – but the diet drinkers actually lost more! The diet drinkers lost an average of 13 pounds, while the water drinking group lost 9 pounds.

James O. Hill, Ph.D., executive director of the University of Colorado Anchutz Health and Wellness Center, and co-author of the study has commented that not only did the diet beverage drinkers lose more weight, but they also reported being significantly less hungry. So, if you have been struggling to increase your water intake and reduce your liquid calories; replacing caloric beverages with diet drinks can be a safe and effective way to help you bridge the gap and reduce calories to promote weight loss.

Here are some suggestions for using stevia to naturally sweeten your beverages.

  • Try adding a few drops of lemon stevia to a glass of sparkling water and drop in a few frozen raspberries to keep it cold. You will have a pretty and refreshing drink for the same amount of calories in a regular glass of water.
  • Sweet and Soothing. Do you crave something sweet after dinner? Combine a cup of skim milk with one tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and add a drop of vanilla stevia to taste. This is an excellent replacement of a high calorie dessert at only 90 calories, and milk provides a great source of calcium and protein.
  • Green Tea. Many of us look to soda or sugary coffee drinks to get through the midday slump. When that “3 p.m. feeling” comes on, try tea for a nutritious and healthy alternative. Try brewing a cup of jasmine green tea and adding a packet of stevia. This can give you the boost you need and save you calories!

 

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

 

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January 2016 was an exciting month in the world of nutrition, as it brought the highly-anticipated release of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The DGA is a resource that supports policy makers and health professionals in helping Americans make healthy choices. The DGA is released every five years to reflect changes based on the latest scientific evidence regarding nutrition.

New Guidelines Recommend Limiting Added Sugars

One of the most talked about changes in the updated DGA is the recommendation to limit added sugars to no more than ten percent of daily calories. While previous editions of the DGA recommend limiting added sugar – this is the first time an actual “upper” limit has been advised.

Note: This recommendation refers only to sugars added to food products; not naturally occurring sugars that you find in fruit and dairy.

How Do You Know if a Food Has Added Sugars? 

The best way to assess if sugar has been added to a food is to read the ingredient list. There are many different types and names for sugar. To help you in identifying sugars, here is a list from the USDA.

Quick tip:  The ingredient list is organized in order of weight, so therefore the higher sugar is on the list you can assume the higher the sugar content per serving.

What Does Ten Percent Look Like?

What does a ten percent of caloric intake look like in the real world? In an average 2000 calorie diet this would equate to about 200 calories per day. This means there’s not a lot of wiggle room for added sugar in your diet. So, what steps can you take to reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet to a more reasonable and moderate amount?

  1. Become Nutrition Label Literate. Read labels to be able to compare and choose products that have less, or no added sugar. The FDA has a handy guide on how to read nutrition labels.
  2. Beverage Choices. When you hydrate, choose water, unsweetened tea or coffee, low-fat milk, 100 percent juice, or other calorie-free drinks.
  3. Breakfast or PBJ? Whether you’re having waffles or making a PBJ, use low or no-added sugar jellies, jams and syrups.
  4. Sugar Alternative. Replace sugar with low-calorie or zero-calorie sweeteners such as stevia.

Looking For Ways to Reduce Added Sugar? Choose Stevia.

Let’s face facts, while many people desire to be healthier the taste of plain yogurt or unsweetened tea may not appeal to everyone. If you are looking to adapt your sugar intake to the DGA’s recommendations – stevia is a natural, zero-calorie sweetener that can help you enjoy the foods you love while decreasing your sugar intake. Not only is stevia zero calories, but it also does not impact blood sugar making it safe for  people with diabetes. It comes in both powder and liquid forms so that it can be used in a variety of foods, and it can even be used in baking.

Suggestions for Stevia

Stevia can really be used in any food or beverage as an alternative to sugar.  It makes it easy combine your personal food preferences with a diet that meets the new DGA guidelines. Here are some easy (and tasty) suggestions to begin using stevia in your diet.

  • Try a few drops of vanilla stevia in your afternoon chai tea for a virtually calorie-free pick me up.
  • Mix a ½ cup of low-fat cottage cheese with one packet stevia and a dash of cinnamon for a calcium rich, protein packed, low-cal snack.
  • Replace the sugar in a brownie recipe with stevia for a rich dessert lower in calories and sugar.

Check out the recipe section on Stevia Benefits to get more ideas on different ways you can use stevia.

Finally, the DGA made another big change in its latest edition – urging Americans to focus on making small changes to help transitioning to a healthier diet feel manageable and sustainable. A small change like switching from sugar to stevia is a perfect complement to this recommendation and reducing added sugar.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

 

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Super Bowl Sunday is for many the first test in your resolution for a healthier year. It’s day spent not only cheering for your favorite team, but indulging in a buffet of high-calorie snack foods and alcohol. Your average American will take in more than a day’s worth of calories just during the game. One trick of creating a healthier lifestyle is to find the middle ground between going overboard and feeling deprived. So, don’t get sidelined from your goals, you can enjoy a day of football, fun, and delicious foods and without ditching your healthy resolutions.

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip

Dips are a staple of any Super Bowl part but tend to be laden with high-fat ingredients. The delightful dip uses Greek yogurt and reduced fat cream cheese to cut calories without sacrificing taste.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings with Hot Mango Dipping Sauce

What Super Bowl party would be complete without wings?! Ditch the fryer and swap out the sugar for stevia for tasty guilt-free wings.

Chili

Chili is a quick and easy option to warm up your guests and it is simple to make it healthy.

Chocolate Chip Brownies

Got a sweet tooth? You don’t have to skip the dessert table with these lightened up brownies.

Veggie and Fruit Trays

Fruit and veggies make healthy and easy dippers that pair well with any dip. You can get creative and craft your own or save time and pick up pre-made trays at your local grocery store.

Pico De Gallo

This recipe is super low calorie! A refreshing mix of tomatoes, onion, cilantro and lime with a bit of jalapeno for bite that no one will be able to resist.

Pizza Nuts

Mixed nuts can be a great healthy snack, but it can be easy to go overboard if you are standing next to the snack table. Try these chick pea pizza nuts as a lower fat/lower calorie option to your usual bowl of nuts.

See! It is easy to have delicious spread that will not spread your waistline. Go Team!

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

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Stevia…what do you know about it?

Wondering if you should use it in your coffee or tea?

Perhaps you are seeing the big bag in your local grocery store next to the sugar and you are wondering if it would work in your morning muffin recipe?

One thing is certain, stevia is gaining popularity and we are happy about that! But, we want to make sure consumers know everything they need to know about stevia and how to use it and incorporate it into their everyday lives.

Make sure to read our Facts page to learn even more about stevia as well as our Safety page.  SteviaBenefits’ resident RD, Beth Hubrich, answered a few of the top questions consumers have.

What is stevia and is it safe?

Stevia, is a low-calorie sweetener made from the leaf of the stevia plant. Many people use it to sweeten their favorite foods and beverages instead of sugar to result in fewer calories. There are also many products in today’s marketplace that use stevia.

Does stevia have the same qualities when cooking and baking?

This is an important one to know with sweeteners. When cooking or baking with any low-calorie sweetener it is best to follow that manufacturers’ recipes and recommendations. Sugar provides more than just sweetness in recipes, it can also assist in browning, caramelizing, etc., so recipes will need to be adjusted accordingly. Furthermore, low-calorie sweeteners like stevia are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, so just a small amount of stevia is needed to get the same sweetness as sugar. For some great recipes on stevia, check out our official Pinterest page here to find all types of recipes that use stevia!

Is stevia safe for people with diabetes?

Stevia is safe for people with diabetes and for others who are looking to control calories, carbohydrate and sugar intake. Before a low-calorie sweetener is allowed on the market it must be studied and proven to be safe, especially for the most vulnerable populations including people with diabetes, the elderly and children.

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By this time, many people have made their resolutions and declared their intentions for 2016.  If you are like a lot of people out there (myself included), this could mean exercising more and losing weight.  The problem with this is that our resolutions can be very lofty and sometimes we set our expectations so high we are doomed to fail.  By the time Valentine’s Day rolls around we may be resolutely slamming ourselves for not reaching our goal – especially a weight loss goal.

But, it does not have to be that way.  As a dietitian and mom of three I am keenly aware that just because it is a new year, does not mean that I don’t face the same set of problems or obstacles I did last year.  For me, those obstacles include a lack of time and a “mom’s at the bottom of the list” kind of mentality.  But, with a few tweaks I am hoping to be more successful in actually sticking to my resolutions for 2016.  Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Set small, attainable goals. For example, if you want to lose a total of 40 pounds, start with 5 or 10 pounds first.  Once you have reached your first milestone, set another attainable goal.
  • Be specific about how you are going to accomplish your goals. Once you have set your (realistic) goal, determine how you are going to do it in a specific way.  Instead of saying “I will exercise every day”, really take a look at your calendar and see what is doable.  Perhaps a 30 minute walk at lunch is the best you can do with some added activity on the weekend.  Whatever it may be, determine exactly how you are going to accomplish your goals.
  • Plan accordingly. As a busy mom of three, I get into trouble when I don’t plan because I am much more likely to overeat or grab a less than healthy “on-the-go snack.”  To combat this, I find that grocery shopping on Sunday and having precut veggies and made ahead salads help me be prepared.  If I am already hungry and pressed for time, I am much more likely to grab what’s easy and handy….  So my healthier options need to be just that!
  • Be accountable. A study of thousands of people who have lost more than 30 pounds or more and kept it off for 5 years shows that a key factor in keeping weight gain at bay is a “food diary.” So find what works for you and keep a record.  This can be an online app, pre-portioned meals or any other tool that works for you.  By nature, we are likely to underestimate what we eat and overestimate how much we exercise (even dietitians do this).  So keeping a record helps you stay on track.
  • Thing long term. There is nothing worse than hitting your weight loss goal only to find the weight has come back six months later.  To combat this, make changes you can live with over the long term.  For me, I know I don’t drink as much water as I should (but setting a goal to drink a gallon of water every day is not realistic). To help increase my fluids, I look for something without calories but with taste.  (I think those stevia-sweetened flavor drops you can add to your water bottles are great!) Further, giving up all carbs may not be doable either.  So, if you want to cut out carbs, look for ways to cut back on refined carbs and include more fiber and whole grain carbs instead.
  • Be good to yourself. Not every day is going to be perfect.  Remember that you are human and there will always be highs and lows in your weight loss journey.  If you hit a bump, dust yourself off, re-evaluate your goals and the specific actions to accomplish those goals and start again.

 

bethjpgBeth Hubrich, MS, RD, LD Beth is well versed in clinical nutrition, food service, nutrition communications, and community and public health. She holds a B.S. in nutrition and food science from FSU and a Master’s in nutrition and food science from Texas Woman’s University. Beth has worked with CNN and has written forToday’s Dietitian and USA Today magazine.  She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), as well as a founding member of the Weight Management  and the Dietitians in Business and Communications dietetic practice groups.  Beth has served as a nutrition and food communications specialist for the Calorie Control Council for a number of years. She currently lives in the Southeast with her husband and three young children.

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That time of night is finally here, when you can sit and just relax after a hectic day. Then it hits you, that craving for a snack. You have done fantastic eating healthfully all day, and then it feels as if it just falls apart at night.  You are not alone. Late night snacking is one of the most common challenges when trying to lose weight. These simple tips can help you take control of your night snacking habit.

  • Eat balanced meals throughout the day. Eating balanced meals can help you to meet all your nutritional needs for optimal functioning and promote satiety.
  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals puts your body on high alert that it may not have the fuel it needs and can drive you to over eat later. This puts you at high risk for consuming large dinner portions or overindulging in late night snacks.
  • Don’t keep snack foods in the house. When your resistance is low it can be hard to pass up easy accessible snacks. Keeping temptations out of your home is a simple way to break your late night habit.
  • Keep your hands and mind busy. Try activities like knitting, crosswords, playing computer games, or board games with the family. Keeping busy can help keep you distracted and not thinking about food.
  • Get your exercise. Exercise is not only good for health and weight management, but mood management as well. Exercise can be a great way to blow off steam instead of turning to snack foods.
  • Plan ahead. You can still enjoy a nice treat at night if you plan ahead for a low calorie snack that fits into your caloric needs for the day. These Red Velvet Cupcakes come in at only 160 calories by using stevia to keep sugar and calories low.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

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The scariest part of Halloween can be dodging all those sweet treats and candies if you are trying to watch your diet. Halloween festivities do no need to haunt your waistline.  Here are some Halloween season survival tips for a tricky situation.

 

Don’t go hungry. Have healthy and balanced meals throughout the day can help you control your sweet tooth while still enjoying the festivities.

Set limits. Only allow yourself one piece of candy of that left over candy per day to keep the calories down.

Avoid post-holiday sales. It can be tough to pass up that 50% off price tag, but your waistline will thank you.

Stay active. Stick to your workouts, get active with your kiddos, and take all opportunities to move to help burn off excess calories.

Track your calories. Being surrounded by temptations can make it easy to go overboard. Tracking your calories can help you stay aware of your limits and help stop holiday weight gain.

Ditch the left overs. Try to limit the amount of candy that lingering after the holidays to reduce temptations.


And if you are hosting the holiday festivities this year? Throw a party stocked with these spookily healthy treats that adults and kids alike will love.

Jackson Pollock Candied Apples – Apples do not have to be doused in caramel to be delicious. These apples are drizzled with chocolate for a light and tasty treat.

Healthy Candy Corn Snacks – These quick and easy fruit cups are a snap to make and will be the hit of the party.

Skeleton Dip – A DIY veggie tray is a fun way to include nutrient-rich veggies into the festivities.

Deviled Spider Eggs – Devilish delicious eggs are fun source of protein to help you feel full

Sugar-free red velvet cupcakes – You don’t need to skip sweet treats on Halloween when you can use stevia to help cut the sugar. Let your creativity run wild decorating your cupcakes.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

fall, stevia

Autumn is a special time of year. The kids are back in school, football is in full swing and you can find PSL (pumpkin spice lattes) everywhere! All of these things and the upcoming holidays often center around the menu and typically as we start to feel cooler outside many begin bundling up and adding layers to their wardrobes. Heavier soups and comfort foods are often being made for dinner to keep us feeling cozy. Fall is the pre-party to the holiday season. Many times this means our healthier state of minds fall to sideline and sometimes add to our waistlines.

In an effort to sustain the healthy eating habits many have adapted for summer we have compiled some recipes on Pinterest to help you put together a menu for any of your fall festivities.

Tailgating and Game Watching – Football is equivalent to good finger foods that are not only easy to eat but easy to prepare that way you can enjoy the game too! Some delicious game day options are Teriyaki Chick Wings with Hot Mango Dipping Sauce, Skinny Cajun Shrimp Skewers and a slow cooker recipe for Pulled Pork.

PSL Please – Pumpkin Spice Lattes are everywhere and beyond a latte there are plenty of pumpkin spice whatever you like recipes from cakes to oatmeal to cocktails! Want to get that pumpkin spice coffee taste minus the long lines? Here’s a recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer, which is dairy free and sugar free as well as a Pumpkin Spice Latte here and here. There are plenty of uses for that pumpkin spice flavor such as this Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie, Hazelnut Coffee Crème Brulee, and of course the traditional Pumpkin Pie.

Be sure to visit Stevia on Pinterest for more recipes made with Stevia!

My plate portion control guide, top view

Nutrient dense. Before I became a dietitian I always found this to be a confusing term. What are nutrient dense foods? Why are these important in a healthy diet?

Simply put, what determines the nutrient density of food is the amount of nutrients you get for the amount of calories. A nutrient dense food has lots of nutrients for the little calories. You want to look for foods that are rich in vitamins, mineral, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. Choosing nutrient dense foods can help you pack in the most nutrition while staying with your calorie limits.

Let’s get a bit more specific on what constitutes a nutrient dense food.

Vegetables & Fruits

These the power houses of nutrient dense foods. Vegetables and fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and tend to be very low in calories.

Proteins

Lean meat cuts, seafood and poultry are excellent sources of protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Protein is an important nutrient for muscles and skin and also can help you feel satisfied and full. Keeping your meats lean helps to keep the calories low.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like fruits and vegetables provide a variety vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and are an excellent source of fiber. Choose products in which “whole” is one of the first words in ingredient list to get the most nutrition from your grains.

Nuts & Beans

These are great protein alternatives that are brimming with nutrition. Nuts are a great source for healthy fats and beans are a wealth of fiber.

Dairy

Low-fat dairy products provide calcium and Vitamin D for strong and healthy bones. They also a great source of potassium and protein as well.

 

Get started today and try this delicious fresh fruit oatmeal recipe that uses stevia to keep calories low in this nutrient dense breakfast.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

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So you’ve decided it’s time to make some changes in your diet, and the excess calories have got to go. You want to stick to a more natural diet, so you’re ready to give stevia a try. You add it to your tea…and now what? If you are anything like me, aside from using stevia in my coffee and tea, I had no idea how else to use it. Turns out there are endless ways you can include stevia in your diet! The first step is to figure out the stevia equivalent to the amount of sugar you are looking to replace. The manufacturer of the brand of stevia you use should have made conversion charts available on their website. If you are not comfortable replacing all the sugar in your recipe, using a combination of reduced sugar and stevia can still help reduce calories. So now you know how much stevia to use; but where can you use it? The simple answer is anywhere! I’ve found some tasty recipes that are great examples of how you can use stevia in anything from drinks to entrees.

Dips

Dips are a very popular side dish for parties and a kid-friendly favorite, but they can be loaded with calories. Try instead making a lighter dip like this Maple Cream Dip.

Baked Goods

Baked goodies do not have to be off-limits when you are trying to reduce calorie and sugars. Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that you can cook with as well. Check out these delicious recipes that can allow you to enjoy a treat while staying on track:  Peanut Butter Cookies and Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Breakfast Dishes

You may only think about desserts and candies when it comes to counting the sugar in your diet, but sugar can be found everywhere—even at the breakfast table. Here are some healthy breakfast items that have replaced sugar with stevia:  Whole Wheat Oat and Apple Cranberry Muffin or Fresh Fruit Oatmeal.

Side Dishes

Dress up any meal with easy and light side dishes. Cucumber Salad and Baked Beans are a great place to start.

Condiments, Dressings and Sauces

Sauces, dressings and condiments can be a sneaky source of calories that we tend to overlook. Making them at home allows you to experiment and create tasty new dishes while controlling the ingredients. Green Apple Salad  and Honey Aioli could inspire your palate.

Drinks and Cocktails/Mocktails

Drinks can rack up calories pretty quickly. These refreshing lower-cal options, Strawberry Lemonade and Mocha Soymilk Frappe, are just a couple of ways to kick back and relax after a hard day.

Now that you have an idea on different ways you can use stevia let your imagination run wild! Replacing sugar in the recipes can help you enjoy a variety of foods without the guilt!

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

leaves of stevia rebaudiana over a card where it is written the word stevia, white background

What exactly is stevia? Stevia is a South American plant, Stevia rebaudina, native to Paraguay that has been used as a natural sweetener for centuries. In Asia and South America, it has long been a common ingredient in products such as ice cream, breads, beverages and other tabletop products. China and Brazil are the countries where Stevia is primarily grown and harvested.

When shopping, you may see many products labeled “Stevia;” however, the word “stevia” actually refers to the stevia plant. The whole stevia plant is actually not sweet. Rather, it contains sweet components called steviol glycosides, which are extracted to create the Stevia-labeled products that you purchase. Steviol glycosides are approved for use in Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Paraguay and is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) in the US.

The benefit of stevia is that it is a naturally occurring sweetener that is between 250 and 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Since stevia is much sweeter than sugar, it requires a lot less of it to reach the same level of sweetness than sugar. Stevia also contains zero calories, making it a great option to sweeten foods and beverages with fewer calories. Furthermore, research has shown that stevia does not add calories or carbohydrates to the diet, nor does it affect blood glucose or insulin response. This makes it a great natural sugar alternative for diabetics or for those just looking to reduce extra sugar in their diet.

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

leaves of stevia rebaudiana over a card where it is written the word stevia, white background

Diet and exercise are important lines of defense when it comes to maintaining good health with diabetes. Making the needed changes to your diet can feel overwhelming when you first receive your diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes, and many people mistakenly believe they have to give up their favorite foods to maintain good blood sugar control. That is not necessarily the case—many can still eat the foods you love by following a balanced, carbohydrate-controlled diet.

I have to avoid sugar to control my diabetes” is a common misunderstanding for many who live with the condition when they begin making necessary changes in their diets. But controlling the total amount of carbohydrates is the truth of the matter. Sugar is just one source of carbohydrates, which are also in starchy foods, dairy, and even fruits. It is actually very important for people with diabetes to consume carbohydrates with every meal, but they need to be cognizant of the amount and control their portions. The doctor or registered dietitian working with a diabetes patient can help create a meal plan to map out the appropriate carbohydrate levels for that specific patient.

How can I eat the foods I love if I can’t have sweets?” is another common question. Luckily there are alternatives to sugar that offer the desired sweetness of certain foods without the excess sugar and calories—one of these being stevia. Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, which means you have to use very little of the sweetener to create the same level of sweetness.

Also, since stevia does not contain carbohydrates, it does not affect blood sugar or insulin levels, making it a great option for people with diabetes. There are many products available that contain stevia, including soft drinks, teas, yogurts, baked goods, cereals, and many more. You can also buy stevia individually in bags, packets and other forms in your local grocery store.

Want some ideas on how you can use stevia in your diet? Here are some recipes to appease your sweet tooth while taking charge of your health!

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Friends making barbecue and having lunch in the nature.

As a registered dietitian, I hear it all the time from clients ….”I was doing great until I went to a BBQ this weekend.” Summer barbecues do not have to mean taking a hiatus from healthy eating. Many of your traditional BBQ foods can be heavy and calorie laden, but with a few tricks and some creativity you can plan a delicious and healthy spread that will please everyone.

Switch Out the Full Fat Meats

Ribs, sausages and burgers are popular stars at any barbeque but are high in fat and calories. Try leaner fare like chicken, fish or turkey sausage. Try these marinades using stevia can help you cook a tender and tasty grilled chicken that everyone will love.

Give Your Side Dishes a Makeover

Simple substitutions can help make side dishes a lot easier on the waistline. Traditional baked beans get made over in this recipe by using stevia to replace the sugar.

Experiment with Veggies and Fruits

Meat is usually what comes to mind when you think BBQ, but veggies and fruit can really shine on the grill. No one can resist colorful veggies fresh off the grill. This delicious grilled veggie recipe will have you looking like a gourmet griller.

Enjoy Getting Creative with Drinks

It can be a nice to enjoy a cold and refreshing margarita or mojitio on a hot day, but these can add up the calories quickly. This margarita using Truvia comes in at only at 105 calories!

Get Moving

We tend to focus on the food when it comes to barbequing, but this is a great time to active with friends and family to burn off some of those calories. Go for a dip in the pool, play some ball, or dance the night away. Calories out for those calories in can help you survive a back yard BBQ with no weight gain.

Now go and enjoy a healthy, BBQ filled summer!

 

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Calories word cloud concept

So, what exactly is a calorie? A calorie is the amount of heat required to heat 1 liter of water by 1 degree; basically a measurement of energy. In reference to food, calories are the amount of energy that food will provide. For example an orange is 45 calories and therefore will provide you with 45 units of energy. We all need calories to fuel us for daily living, but calorie needs can vary based on the individual.

How do you determine your calorie needs? Calorie needs are affected by many factors such as height, weight, metabolism and activity level. There are many equations that can help you estimate your own individual calorie needs and the Mifflin St. Joer equation is commonly used by doctors and dietitians.

What does calories have to do with weight? The body is very effective at managing emergency situations that put your health at risk. If you consume too many calories the body will convert those extra calories into fat so that is can be stored away for future use. If you maintain a normal weight you probably fluctuate from overeating to under eating all the time; the body is continually using and restocking fat stores. However, the body has no limit on the amount of fat it will store away. Therefore, consistently exceeding your calorie needs are going to cause your weight to climb.

How to lose the weight? The trick is to start cutting calories slightly below what you need so that body will utilize your fat stores. It is recommended to determine your calorie needs and then reduce by 250-1000 calories to start losing weight. A safe rate of weight loss is about ½-2 lbs per week. It can be tempting to go very low in calories to lose weight quickly, but this very hard for people to maintain long enough to lose the weight. You also want to be eating enough calories so that your body can function at its full capacity as well. It recommended to not go below 1200 calories when trying to lose weight.

What are some ways to cut calories to lose or maintain weight? Try eating nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables. The foods pack a lot of nutrition for little calories to help you stay full while cutting calories. Reduce high fat foods which can cause your calories to add up quickly. You can also use sugar substitutes like Stevia, to cut out calories and extra sugar.

Get started reducing calories today and check out the low-cal/low-sugar recipes using Stevia, like this one for peanut butter cookies!

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Fresh vegetarian variety on white rustic wooden background, top view

The clock has sprung forward as the planet begins to wobble in the opposite direction and we will finally start to slowly gain those beloved extra hours of sunlight.  With this welcomed change the air starts to warm up bringing about the desire to start fresh and new. We start shaking off the last of the cabin fever and begin the Spring Clean. Usually not only can our homes use a nice spring clean, but our diets as well. After months of chili’s, stews and comfort foods it’s time to bring back lighter and refreshing fare. Here are some simple tips that will help you spring clean your diet.

Get Back to the Basics

Fruits and vegetables are the backbone of a healthy diet. Ideally half of your food consumption for the day should be produce. Luckily, the fruits and veggies available in season practically triples with the spring. This gives you plenty of options to deliciously boost your intake. Here is an extensive list of what is coming into season this spring. Do not be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Try this delightful Roasted Garlic Asparagus recipe, but maybe liven it up by using purple asparagus instead. This Sugar-Free Apricot Granita is a nice refreshing way to get a fruit serving and the Stevia aids in cutting down on added sugars and calories.

Lighten Up

The winter always brings about an array of chilis, stews, soups that bring us comfort as the cold sets in, but become heavy as spring makes its appearance. Lighten up by trading out thick gravies and broths for flavorful vinaigrettes and fresh sauces. Not only can this make your meals taste bright and refreshing, but it can help you cutting out some winter calories. Spinach Pesto and Pasta is a great recipe that incorporates that spring spinach in a light pasta dish. You could also whip up this lo-cal Blackberry Balsamic Salad Dressing using stevia for a flavorful spring veggie salad.

De-Clutter

In the colder months everything dish seems to require some type of bread for soaking, sopping, and dipping. While there is nothing wrong with a hearty, whole grain bread we can tend to get heavy handed with it in the winter. Cut calories and cut clutter by swapping out some of that bread for lighter alternatives. These recipes, Asian Chicken Skinny Lettuce and Tomato Avocado Burgers, are great examples on how you can substitute veggies for the starch.

Welcome back spring!

 

 

carolyn reynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Three young adult friends frying food in pan together. Ingredients for the meal are in front of them.

I love to cook…or to be more truthful, I love home cooked meals. As a dietitian, I feel that preparing a majority of my meals at home is a top “must do” to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, between the dog days of summer and my impeccable knack of picking out living establishments in which the kitchen seems to absorb heat, home cooked meals can become a daunting task.

So over the years I have experimented with different tricks of the trade to allow for my home “cooked” meals without sweating it out in the kitchen during the hotter months. Here are some fun tips to keep healthy this summer while staying cool.

Put It on a Grill

Ok, you’re still probably sweating outside, but you get to enjoy nature and avoid heating up the house with your oven. If you’re not a grillmaster, don’t let that stop you. Try this recipe for Spicy Grilled Peach and Chicken Kabobs.

Fill Up on Appetizers

This may sound strange at first because nutritionist usually say to avoid apps. But, I have on numerous occasions picked up a veggie tray, added some diced fruit, cubed cheese, and pecans or almonds and called it dinner. You can also experiment with some lighter dips like bean dip, hummus, or Baba Ganoush for a little pizzazz. I enjoy dinners like this because it’s easy to prepare and something out of the ordinary, but still provides a great amount of nutrition and variety.

Sass-up the Sammy

Sandwiches make a great no-cook dinner and with some creativity you don’t have to have the same-old boring lunch sandwich. Like this recipe for Asparagus Salmon Spring Rolls.

Dress Up Your Salad

Salads are fantastically refreshing and light on those hot summer nights. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Some of my favorites salads do not even include the traditional lettuce, like this  Chickpea, Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad. I add red onions to mine and have a whole-wheat pita on the side. Or you can try this Arugula, Italian Tuna, and White Bean Salad for something even heartier.

Make Your Side Dish the Star

You can make some delicious no cook sides instead of a time-intensive main course. This Strawberry, Cucumber, Basil Salad would pair perfectly with a a rotisserie chicken from the grocery (let them heat up the ovens while you stay cool at home). I replace the sugar with Stevia to reduce calories and I just like the taste.

Eat Out…At the Grocery Store!

Grocery stores have expanded their deli sections to provide more and more healthy, ready-to-eat options that you can take home on those hot or busy nights instead of fast food or restaurant foods.

Look for foods that are grilled, broiled or baked to keep calories in check and pair with an assortment of veggies. Don’t forget dessert- no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream and fruit is always a sweet surprise.

Choose Soup

Yep, I said soup. But I’m thinking chilled soups for summer. I used to turned my nose up at cold soup until I tried a cold peach soup and I was hooked. There are so many delicious options and combinations: Gazpacho, avocado and cucumber; it is endless. Instead of sugar, try a dash of Stevia in this delicious Watermelon Soup for a fresh summer meal without the extra calories.

Bonus recipe: Iced Sun Tea

Sun Tea was a staple in my childhood home and nothing is more thirst quenching on hot summer days than iced sun tea. I sweeten mine with a touch of Stevia to keep it calorie free and natural.

 

 

creynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Friends on the beach. Rear view of cheerful young people walking by the beach to the sea while two men carrying plastic cooler

July is a fantastic time of year for combing two of my favorite activities – enjoying the outdoors and… EATING!

It should come as no surprise that in the United States, July is National Hot Dog Month, National Blueberry Month, National Grilling Month and, of course, National Ice Cream Month. When you combine 4th of July celebrations plus the warm weather, you’ve got a month full of eating outdoors. But, warm summer temperatures can make eating out in nature a bit more risky. Here are some simple tips that you can use to enjoy your picnic without worry.

Keep it Clean

Bring soap, antibacterial lotion, or wipes to help prevent contamination to clean hands and utensils. Do not reuse plates or utensils that have come in contact with raw meats. Keep seafood, red meat, pork and chicken all separate so there’s no cross-contamination.

Food Prep

Defrost meats at home in the refrigerator before you pack them up for grilling and rinse fruits and vegetables before packing them up, so they’re already clean when you’re ready to eat.

Pack it Up and Pack it In

Separate raw and cooked foods in separate coolers- this is important! Be sure to pack raw meats in tightly sealed bags or containers.

Cooler 101

Be sure to get a well-insulated cooler that will keep food at 40 degrees and below. A well-stocked cooler will keep the temperature better so try to bring the right size for the amount of food you will be bringing. Hot food needs to be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit and above and cold foods need to be kept at 40 degrees and below.

Consider bringing multiple coolers, that way you can keep drinks in a separate cooler so that food/ice is not warmed up with frequent opening of the cooler. Replenish ice and drain off water used for food storage. Finally, make sure your cooler is sitting in a shaded area.

Pitch it

Throw out any perishable foods that have sat out for more than 2 hours or 1 hour when it is 90 degrees and above.

Take a Temp

Use a food thermometer to check if food is cooked to the appropriate temperature. Check out FoodSafety.org for a list of safe temperatures to remember.

Delicious Dishes Perfect For Sharing

Here are great picnic staples that have been altered to make them safe and healthy options – and delicious to boot!

  • OilVinegar Slaw. This recipe ditches the mayonnaise and uses Stevia to cut fat and calories. The vinegar base makes it very refreshing on a hot day and won’t turn as easily in the heat sans mayo. You could jazz this recipe up by adding dried cranberries for a new twist.
  • Red Sangria. This low-sugar spin on a refreshing cocktail use Stevia and diet soda to add sweetness without the add calories. Feel free to go heavy on the fruit is this delightful summer drink.
  • Cucumber Dill Salad. Cucumber salad is a family staple when it is too hot to stay in the kitchen for long. This recipe uses Stevia to cut sugar and calories.

 

creynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

a young couple buying fruits and vegetables in a market on a sunny morning, the young woman carries a basket

June is upon us and for those of you contemplating a healthier diet or even just looking to get re-inspired, there couldn’t be a better time to get started. Why is this such a great time to get started you ask?

The summer months are when the Farmers Markets come to life! You will get the greatest variety of delicious in-season foods to get your taste buds excited about healthy eating. I love Farmers Markets! The aroma of fresh roasted coffee, the smell of freshly made whole grain bread, and especially the feeling that any meal I make with those ingredients will be professional caliber. I find the Farmers Market really inspires me to want to fill my diet with healthy and whole foods and even gets me excited about being in the kitchen!

How can you use your local farmers markets to get inspired to eat healthy?

Push yourself to try a food you have never tried before.

The farmers market is how I began my love affair with pomegranates, persimmons, and spaghetti squash. If you are lucky enough to have an international market around you…even better! You can finda cache of delicious and exotic fruits and vegetables, like Spanish Lime– a soft, juicy fruit from South America that’s like a cross between a lychee and a lime.

Revisit foods you may not have liked in the past.

You may be surprised to find you can get a completely different flavor from local foods. I love tomatoes, but I have never run into a tomato that I could pop in my mouth like candy until I had them from our local market. I tried a new recipe once I decided to give Brussels sprouts another go after a checkered history. They are now one of my go-to veggies when they’re in season. This recipe uses lemon Stevia to give the Brussels sprouts a touch of sweetness.

Look for deals.

You can save a lot of money on foods that grow in abundance in your area. Locally sourced fruits, veggies, and other goods support your local community! Smart tip: hit up the farmers market in their last hour. Many farmers will negotiate on the price of leftover product, if they haven’t sold out already.

Have a few recipes in mind before you go.

This can help you to feel less overwhelmed. I recently made this recipe for no-sugar added blueberry crisp using fresh (and cheap!) berries from the market. I love using the Stevia to create a sweet treat without the added sugar so I can enjoy guilt-free.

Think outside the box.

There are even more options beyond your typical meat, veggie, fruit, etc. I will use fresh herbs from the market to create my own teas and spice mixes.

Have fun and do not be afraid to experiment.

This Southwest Gazpacho Soup is going to be my next adventure using Farmers Market finds.

Too busy to go the actual farmers market? Check out local food delivery businesses in which you can get farm fresh foods delivered to your door for a convenient farmers market experience. So, when you get a chance checkout your local farmers market and start a love affair with healthy and fresh foods!

 

creynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Wooden table with Stevia sweetener pills (selective focus; close-up shot)

So you’ve probably been hearing a lot about Stevia lately, a new zero calorie sweetener that’s becoming pretty popular. Earlier this month we talked about the difference between stevia extract and stevia whole leaves. But is it a safe alternative to other low-cal sweeteners?

The word “stevia” refers to the entire plant and its components, only some of which are sweet. The sweet tasting components of the stevia plant are called steviol glycosides or rebaudioside A.

Stevia has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years and it’s been widely used for decades as a sweetener in Japan and Paraguay . In the US, stevia sweeteners are primarily found in tabletop products and reduced calorie beverages.

Recent studies, including human studies on safety, metabolism and intake, have shown that stevia sweeteners are safe to use. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has conducted a thorough scientific review of the existing scientific data on steviol glycosides and concluded that they are safe for use in food and beverages.

Based on the wealth of published research, independent scientific experts in both the U.S. and globally have concluded that stevia sweeteners are safe for people of all ages and populations and an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of four mg/kg body weight (expressed as steviol) has been established. The estimated intake of steviol glycosides even among the highest consumers does not exceed the ADI.

Clinical studies have also shown that steviol glycosides, meeting purity criteria established by JECFA, have no effect on either blood pressure or blood glucose response, which means people with diabetes can use stevia. Another benefit of stevia sweeteners: there are no known allergies to stevia sweeteners.

As an all-natural sugar substitute with zero calories, stevia sweeteners can help reduce or replace calories in foods and beverages and offer low and no calorie alternatives for people looking to lose and control weight. Consuming beverages and foods with stevia sweeteners as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle, including regular physical activity, can assist with weight control and weight loss.

Fresh Stevia Rebaudiana and sugar in a spoon

For the past few years you haven’t been able to talk about dieting and healthy eating without hearing about stevia, natural sweetener that’s becoming popular in the United States. Stevia rebaudiana is a South American plant native to Paraguay that has traditionally been used to sweeten beverages and make tea. The word “stevia” refers to the entire plant and its components, only some of which are sweet. So what’s the difference between the whole stevia leaf and the stevia you end up putting in your coffee?

Whole leaf stevia has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years.  The stevia leaves were collected, dried and milled into a fine powder. Because whole leaf stevia contains both sweet and non-sweet components, it often has an licorice-like aftertaste.  Over the years new technology has made it possible to extract the naturally sweet components of stevia and minimize the aftertaste to provide the type of products that we see on grocery shelves today.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes stevia sweeteners, composed primarily of rebaudioside A and stevioside, as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use  in foods and beverages.  However, the FDA has not approved, nor accepted as  GRAS , the whole leaf stevia or the use of crude stevia extracts as sweeteners. Whole leaf and crude extracts of stevia remain under review because there is inadequate safety information.   Whole leaf and crude extracts of stevia, therefore, can only be sold as dietary supplements in the US.

As an all-natural sugar substitute with zero calories, stevia sweeteners can help reduce or replace calories in foods and beverages and offer low and no calorie alternatives for people looking to lose and control weight. Consuming beverages and foods with stevia sweeteners as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle, including regular physical activity, can assist with weight control and weight loss.