How to Maintain Your Weight During the Holidays

I was so excited last week to be asked to be on a very popular radio station in Birmingham, WMJJ Magic 96.5, and do a show on “Tips for Eating healthy during the holidays”. Before I went on the air, I thought about what I do personally, and I asked some of my friends on Facebook and Twitter for their input. The thing to remember is to eat everything in moderation. Also, make good food choices (such as my favorite Winter Radicchio Salad with Pomegranates). The radio show was so popular that I will be doing a monthly radio show with them, and I am so excited about that!

Here’s my list of Top 10 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips:

1. Exercise during the holidays.

2. Before you leave your house, eat a small snack and eat small meals throughout the day so you’re not binging at night

3. Eat breakfast on Thanksgiving and Xmas morning

4. Eat only what you love at the holiday table

5. Don’t rush to eat. Socialize as much as you can, but do it away from the holiday table.

6. If you’re drinking alchohol, drink a nonalcoholic version first

7. Drink a lot of water that day so it makes you feel full

8. Eat veggies everywhere you can, and fill your plate up with a lot of them

9. If there are 2 plate sizes, put your meal on a salad or dessert plate

10. When you’re done eating, wait and don’t go back for more.

How to Store & Freeze Basil & Gluten-Free Recipes

Basil is a wonderful herb to use year-round, but its growth season is during the summer months. Here are some tips on how to store it for later use. Storing basil in the refrigerator isn’t a long-term solution, but it works great for short term. Just place it in a glass of water and change the water daily. Freezing is a popular method of storing basil. Place 1 tablespoon basil in an ice cube with water and freeze. When you’re ready to use it, just take out an ice cube, and use it in your recipe. Another way is to place the leaves in a food processor with a little oil, and then place it in an airtight container. See my friend, Kalyn, from Kalyn’s Kitchen for more great information on this tutorial. You can freeze basil for up to 6 months if you use a properly sealed container. Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free recipes using basil such as Quinoa with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

Kaniwa with Lemon, Basil and Tomatoes

Game Day Basil Bloody Marys

Halloween Candy 100 Calories or Less

Happy Halloween everyone! Halloween is such a fun holiday whether you have kids or not. One thing I try not to do, but always seem to, is to indulge in the candy. It’s only once a year, right?  This year, I thought I would take a different approach. I didn’t purchase my Halloween candy until the very last minute so it wouldn’t be sitting around for my kids or me to be tempted. Also, I did a little research to find out which types of candy have 100 calories or less. While doing research, I found such cute candy merchandise such as this adorable M & M’s Dispenser.

100 Calorie or Less Halloween Candy:

Miniature Reese’s cup 40 calories

Fun size bar Snickers bar 63 calories

3 strawberry Twizzler twists: 100 calories

Fun size Milky Way Bar 80 calories

Fun size 3 Musketeers 63 calories

Fun size Kit Kat Bar 70 calories

Fun size pack Reese’s pieces 67 calories

Fun size pack Starbursts 40 calories

Fun size Almond Joy 80 calories

Fun size Hershey Bar 77 calories

Fun Size Tootsie Roll 50 calories

Small packet plain M’M’s 73 calories

Small packet peanut M’M’s 90 calories

Bistro Pasta Salad

As you know, for the past month I have been working with CanolaInfo on its World Heart Day 2011 campaign. To help encourage families to take their health into their own hands, I developed the “Home is Where the Heart Is” Recipe Collection, which is filled with delicious, healthy and easy-to-prepare recipes that both kids and parents will enjoy.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the U.S for men and women as well as something that has affected my family directly. Unfortunately, childhood obesity has continued to grow at an alarming rate. The reason this is so disturbing is because research has shown that children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. Obesity is a huge risk factor for CVD but one that is preventable with diet and exercise. That is why teaching my children healthy eating habits is so important to me – and something that can start right here at home.

As a mother of three, I wholly understand the challenges of being a busy, working mom and getting healthy meals on the table – not to mention making something the kids will eat! When developing this recipe collection, I really tried to consider what would be fast, economical, healthy and delicious for the entire family, and I think I accomplished just that.

As a common ingredient in all these recipes, I chose to use canola oil. It has the least amount of saturated fat and most omega-3 fat of all cooking oils. Its versatility in cooking and baking simplify my life even more, and it’s inexpensive! This coming Thursday, Sept. 29, is World Heart Day. To celebrate, I will be hosting a Facebook Party on CanolaInfo’s Facebook page from 7-8 PM CST! I will be discussing ways to be heart-smart at home by getting your whole family involved. I hope you will share your own tips and stories as well. Ten of you will be chosen at random to receive a CanolaInfo Heart Health Toolkit. You can RSVP here.

Home is Where the Heart is for World Heart Day! Quick Dark Chocolate Brownies

I am so excited to announce my partnership with CanolaInfo for their 2011 World Heart Day campaign. As part of my work with them, I created the “Home is Where the Heart is” Recipe Collection, which includes six simple, family-friendly, and heart-healthy recipes (such as these brownies above).

 

World Heart Day, observed on Sept. 29, was created by the World Heart Federation to encourage heart-healthy habits from regular exercise to nutritious eating. Heart disease remains the world’s number one killer and the World Heart Federation is dedicated to leading the fight against it along with stroke. Together with the World Heart Federation, CanolaInfo is helping to inform the public on ways to prevent this disease by providing heart-healthy tips, recipes, publications and more.

 

Besides the recipe collection, I am working with CanolaInfo on some social media events over the next month. On Sept. 1 from 12-1 PM CST, I will be participating in my first ever “Twitterview!” The folks at @CanolaInfo will be interviewing me (@alisonlewis) about my new recipe collection and ways I keep my family healthy and active. You can ask your own questions as well, just use #CanolaInfo. In addition, 10 lucky participants will be chosen at random to receive a free cookbook! You can RSVP for the here for the Twitterview.

 

In addition, on World Heart Day (Sept. 29) from 7-8 PM CST, I will host a discussion on ways to be heart smart at home from CanolaInfo’s Facebook page. I hope you will come and share your own tips and stories as well. To top it all off, 10 more of you will be chosen at random to receive a CanolaInfo Heart Health Toolkit! You can RSVP here for Canolainfo Facebook Party.

 

I am honored to be a part of this project. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my recipes from the “Home is Where the Heart Is” campaign – all of which include canola oil.  Meanwhile, for more information about this healthy oil, go to www.canolainfo.org.

 

P.S. On Sept. 1, CanolaInfo is launching an interactive Facebook game that features my recipes! You become the chef and try to beat the clock! Check it out at Facebook.com/CanolaInfo.

 

Greek Yogurt 101 and Recipes

Not only is yogurt great for a nutritious snack or breakfast, researchers are finding that eating yogurt can help fight infections, aid in weight loss, boost the immune system, fight osteoporosis, reduce high blood pressure, aid in digestive problems and even add years to your life. Yogurt is also a great source of protein, calcium, zinc, B12, magnesium and even potassium. Not a day goes by that I don’t eat it (honest). My favorite, by far, is the nonfat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt. One (6-ounce) container of nonfat Greek yogurt contains 100 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrates and 18 grams of protein with no fat and only 65 mg of sodium.

How to choose yogurt

-Choose low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt for best nutritional results. I prefer nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt because it is very high in protein and low in fat, carbohydrates and sodium.

-Look at the ingredient list for added sweeteners and artificial colors.

-Check the calories and carbohydrates on the label to find the ones with the least amount of sweetener.

-Look for the words “live culture”, “active culture” or “live active culture” on the label. This type of yogurt contains probiotic cultures that help regulate your digestive system.

-Be sure to check the date of expiration before you consume it.

How to store yogurt:

-Refrigerate yogurt as soon as you purchase it. Store it on your cooler shelves in the refrigerator.

-Be sure the yogurt is tightly sealed

-Once opened, be sure to seal it properly and store in the refrigerator.

-If you buy the freshest yogurt, it can usually be stored for up to 2 weeks depending on the date of the package. Your best bet is to use it as soon as you can after purchase.

-Do not freeze yogurt. This will affect he quality, texture and flavor.

I took a poll on Facebook, and here are some of my facebook friends’ and my favorite ways to use yogurt:

-Use in smoothies and shakes

-Eat for breakfast with almonds and blueberries

-Stir in bananas and walnuts

-Stir in granola cereal and fresh peaches or strawberries

-Use on top of baked potatoes instead of sour cream

-Use instead of mayonnaise in tuna salad

-Use on tacos or taco salad

-Use in layered dips or vegetable dips instead of sour cream

-Use in a tzatziki sauce, white barbecue sauce or tartar sauce recipe

-Stir in homemade jams

-Drain the excess water from Greek yogurt and use in coffee like creme fraiche

For a few of my favorite recipes (photos above), check out the following links:

Banana Bread with Yogurt

Banana Dark Chocolate Muffins with Greek Yogurt

Apricot and Almond Coffee Cake

Easy Pork Fajitas

Saucepan Popcorn Recipe & Healthy Back to School Snack Ideas

Since school just started back, I am trying to start the year off right. I try to be creative and point my kids in the right direction when it comes to packing healthy lunches and providing after-school snacks that are good for them. My three children love this recipe for Saucepan Popcorn which is so easy and healthier than the other popcorn alternatives. Here are some other quick ideas for when you are in a hurry that have a nice balance of protein, fiber and carbohydrates:

Healthy Snacks Ideas for Kids:

Trail Mix

Homemade Smoothies

Homemade Granola

Healthier Banana Bread

Other Ideas:

Reduced Sodium Cottage Cheese with fruit

Whole grain crackers with cheese

Greek yogurt with honey and fruit

Apple and Skim Milk

Almond or Peanut Butter and Banana

Hummus with carrots and celery Nut Butter on graham crackers

Hard boiled eggs

Top 10 Health Benefits of Cherries: A True Superfruit

Cherries are a nutritional powerhouse fruit with so many incredible health benefits. One cup of raw cherries has 87 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Enjoy them now while they are at their peak because their season is way too short.  Read on for some of the great health benefits of eating cherries.

 

Ten Great Health Benefits of Eating Cherries

1. Cherries, known as a “super-fruit”, are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins which aid in the reduction of heart disease and cancer.

2. Cherries are one of the few food sources that contain melatonin, an antioxidant that helps regulate heart rhythms and the body’s sleep cycles.

3. Cherries are an excellent source of beta carotene (vitamin A). In fact they contain 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries and strawberries.

4. Cherries are rich in vitamins C, E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber.

5. Cherries are referred to as “brain food”, aiding in brain health and in the prevention of memory loss.

6. Because cherries contain anthocyanins, they can reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis and gout.

7. Eating cherries reduces the risk of diabetes.

8. Cherries are a good source of fiber which is important for digestive health.

9. Cherries are a great snack or dessert choice important for weight-maintenance.

10. Because of their powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, cherries are said to reduce pain and joint soreness for runners and athletes after workouts.