My 10 Top Healthy Cooking Tips

I saw a friend at the ball park over the weekend, and she asked, “Alison, can you give me some tips for cooking healthier?” I said, sure. I’ll write a few down for you. So here goes… Some of these may come easy for some of you, but hopefully, I can lend some new ideas as well.

1. Use salt sparingly-You can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Most Americans consume more salt than they need. Salt can lead to higher blood pressure and bloating. Consuming foods high in salt becomes even much more noticeable as you get older. I can’t stand the feeling of waking up feeling puffy.

2. Grill more-Grilling is a great way to prepare healthy fish, chicken and meat as well as vegetables. What I really love about it is that my kids love to eat most anything grilled, and they are even more willing to try foods cooked on the grill.

3. Buy seasonal, buy local-Purchasing seasonal fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs and purchasing locally grown ingredients, will help you stay on track.

4. Simpler is always better-Starting with cooking with less ingredients, but fresh ones.

5. Choose Leaner and lower-fat ingredients-Choose leaner cuts of meats, lower fat milk, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat mayonnaise. Start with smaller steps to gain great strides. Also, don’t forget to trim fat from meats.

6. Broil, steam, roast and grill foods instead of frying– If you choose to fry foods, try oven frying instead.

7. Substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg when called for in recipes-This helps to to reduce fat content.

8. Read food labels-Be sure to choose foods with lower sodium, fat, sugar, carbohydrates and saturated fat.

9. Choose fresh-Use fresh juice from lemons, limes and oranges combined with fresh herbs and spice to season foods.

10. Cook with healthy oils such as Canola and olive oil-Also, try to cook with nonstick cookware more often to reduce the amount of oil needed.

Blueberry Spritzer

Blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse. Recently Tufts University conducted a study of 60 various fruits and vegetables and found that blueberries rated the highest for their antioxidant capabilities. They have been linked to great health benefits and are said to help prevent alzheimer’s, prevent urinary tractions, improve aging and eyesight and more. This refreshing summery beverage is a cinch to make with only 4 ingredients. It’s a hit with adults as well as the kids.

Smarter Healthy Beverage Choices

Did you know the average person consumes 400 calories in one day just on beverages they drink? It’s possible that if we make smarter beverage choices, we can really slim down faster as well as improve our health. Dehydration can lead to many things, but it slows down your fat burning abilities and decreases mental and physical energy. Here are the smartest beverage choices:

1. Water-Water will always help with hydration without adding excess pounds. Add fresh lemon, lime or orange to bump the flavor up a bit. Drink water often and before meals to curb appetite and cravings.

2. Green Tea-Recent Research regarding green tea’s health benefits have been astonishing. They include: preventing cancer and heart disease, lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing dementia and diabetes and more. Filled with antioxidants, green tea is also said, by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, to stimulate the metabolism and help burn fat.

3. Skim or soy milk-Milk is a great source of Vitamin D and calcium. Milk is high in protein and filled with health benefits including improved bone health, aiding in the immune system as well as helping prevent osteoporosis and respiratory problems.

4. Pomegranate juice-An antioxidant powerhouse, pomegranate juice is said to help the body guard itself against premature aging, heart disease, alzheimer’s, cancer and other diseases.

5. Concord Grape juice-If you choose the juice made from 100 grapes, concord grape juice is filled with antioxidants. It is said to have similar health benefits of red wine such as protection against heart disease and lowering chances of blood clots. I like to mix it in my water.

6. Blueberry Juice-High in fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C, blueberry juice is lower in calories than other juices. It is also said to help reduce aging, diabetes and urinary tract infections.

7. Orange juice-Drinking at least 2 glasses of orange juice a day increases the vitamin C concentration within the body which can protect against inflammation, improve diastolic blood pressure and decrease bad cholesterol.

 

Also I want to just mention coffee: Studies completed at the Mayo Clinic and the Harvard Health Letter suggest that coffee also contains antioxidants and can help prevent against liver cancer, Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes. Coffee also curbs the appetite, but it should be consumed in moderation.

Best Foods for Runners

I have been an avid runner since I was 16. I love it, and it’s definitely one of my passions. For years, friends have asked me to come up with recipes for runners. Instead, I thought I would research what are the best foods and write about it. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Wild Salmon-Wild salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids which boost heart health and nerve system functioning. Some doctors even say omega-3’s can help with post-run achy joints.

2. Almonds-High in antioxidants, protein and vitamin E, almonds are a wise choice for a runner’s snack helping to prevent achy muscles.

3. Quinoa-This complex carbohydrate (pronounced Keen-wah) is a great energy source filled with fiber, B vitamin, zinc and magnesium which are so helpful to runners. One-fourth cup of dry of quinoa has 172 calories, 6 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber, and it’s also gluten-free.

4. Kale-This member of the cabbage family has high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber. It is one of the most antioxidant filled vegetables.

5. Bananas-This great pre-workout or post-workout food is a great source of carbohydrates and potassium. That is why you will always find bananas offered at the end of races.

6. Eggs-Eating one egg offers a great source of vitamin K and protein which aid in promoting healthy bones and muscles. I like to purchase the organic omega-3 enhanced eggs.

7. Blueberries-Filled with vitamin C and potassium, these can help the body repair itself after long, hard runs.

8. Edamame-This great snack is filled with protein, fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin C. It’s a great snack option loaded with health benefits.

9. Yogurt-Low-fat yogurt has a good source of carbohydrates and protein, and Greek yogurt has less carbs and even more protein. Both are great sources of calcium which is important for runners to help prevent stress fractures and osteoporosis.

10. Oranges-High in vitamin C, oranges are great for healing and helping absorb iron in the body which can help prevent fatigue and increase energy levels.

How to Get Lean?

Everyone wants to have a lean body, but how do we achieve it? I did some research to figure out what I am personally doing right and wrong, and here’s what I’ve found. If you have any other tips to offer, please share in the comment area below.

1. Strength Training-Adding strength training to your exercise program will help build lean muscles. Whether you use free weights, machines, body weight, or resistance bands, you will increase lean muscle, reduce body fat and burn more calories efficiently.

2. Eat more protein-Eating protein will help create lean muscle. Create your meals around protein. Identify what protein you are going to have and work your meals around that.

3. Do more yoga-In yoga, muscles are strengthened and elongated so you will not bulk up as much, but get a tone and flexible body.

4. Front-load your carbohydrates-Reduce the number of carbohydrates you eat as the day goes on. Studies show that your body’s ability to metabolize carbs drops as the day goes on, so more can end up stored as fat. My trainer, Jeff Green, from Icon Performance, says “Cut out all carbs after 3 p.m.” Wow is that hard, but if you can do it, you will see a difference.

5. Limit sugar, white flour and alcohol-These foods are quickly digested which causes blood sugar to rise. This stimulates the release of the hormone insulin, which signals your body to stop burning fat (and storing it instead).

6. Eat more frequently and eat smart-Nutritionist and Fitness Expert Sandra Koulourides, of “Fuel Plus Fitness”, suggests eating lean protein, good fat, veggies and fruit. Also, eating more frequent smaller meals with help curb cravings and splurging

7. Drink more water-Staying hydrated with water will help your body stay energized as well as help you cut down on soft drinks and caffeine.

8. Cardio and Interval Training-Do at least 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 days a week and stay consistent. Mix this with interval training, and you’ll rev up your metabolism even more.

9. Get more sleep-Refueling and resting your body often helps muscles rebuild. Get at least 8 hours of sleep (and 9 if possible) and take a day or two off a week.

10. Read labels-Don’t just look at protein and carbs, but take note at fiber, sodium, fat and how much sugar is in what you’re eating.

10 Ways to Avoid Cravings

While I was out of town in Park City last week, I realized that I never craved or had one Diet Coke. I usually think of myself as pretty healthy, and a mostly “clean” eater, but over the past few months I have an off-and-on again relationship with Diet Coke. I am only talking about one a day, but still, I try to keep soft drinks at a distance. It really got me thinking about cravings. Now, you might think I’m being silly, but everyone does have their particular “vice” whether it’s candy, chocolate, chips, French fries or even soft drinks. To help you and me, I thought I would jot down some tips on how to avoid cravings:

1. Don’t give in– One of my friends once told me that the more sugar (or salt) you eat the more you crave it. This is so true. Once I start with Peanut M & M’s, I can’t stop, and I continue to crave them until they are completely out of my house. Don’t buy them, and you won’t be tempted as often.

2. Note your trigger foods– Take note by writing down what your “trigger” foods are. Then, stay away from them. Awareness will help you think twice when you crave your trigger foods. Keep your “trigger” foods at bay, and don’t bring them into your house or surroundings.

3. Stay in control– If you are surrounded by your trigger food at a party or at work, keep control.  For example, if it’s a doughnut, take a small bite or portion if you must, and push the plate away when you’re done.

4. Eat protein along with fat (healthy fats)– Eating snacks that contain protein along with fat will keep you satisfied longer. If you’re craving ice cream or sugary desserts, opt for Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, reduced-fat cottage cheese or fresh vegetables with hummus.

5. Bake something healthy– I love to bake homemade granola or mini muffins to have on hand. Homemade fresh baked goods are a wonderful substitute for junk food.

6. Stay on schedule– Try to eat 3 meals a day and two healthy snacks, so you don’t get overly hungry. Staying on a schedule will help curb cravings.

7.  Drink water and chew gum– A friend once told me this helped her stay away from eating while she was cooking. It helps when you have cravings too.

8. Make homemade smoothies– Use fresh fruit, fresh juice, Greek or low-fat yogurt to make fresh smoothies. These are a wonderful alternative to sugary desserts.

9. Drink green tea– Green tea is filled with so many healthy benefits. Substitute it for that afternoon soda, coffee or packaged snack (I need to do this more).

10. Don’t deprive yourself– Eat something healthy at the end of each meal or occasionally award yourself with a “splurge” meal. My friend, Sandra, brings dark chocolate to every lunch date we have. She eats it at the end of her meals so she satisfies her sweet tooth.

 

My Favorite Sport Water Bottles

I have to admit. I don’t have a sports water bottle. I have been looking for a new one, and I am always checking out what people are carrying around at the gym or in yoga. Here’s some really fun, cool ones that I am trying to decide between. Let me know if you have a favorite. I am in Park City this week, and yesterday I taught a Kid’s Cooking Class at the Park City Mountain Resort. I’ll tell you more about that when I get back in town. In the meantime, have a super weekend, Alison

Klean Kanteen made the first BPA free metal bottle. This “Klean Kanteen Reflect” water bottle is sleek and cool. It has no paint or plastic just sustainably harvested bamboo, food-grade silicone and stainless steel.

Lifefactory’s largest 22 ounce glass water bottle has a fun modern design with a wide mouth which makes adding ice cubes, fruit and tea bags easy. Shown here in light blue, these reusable beverage bottles are free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, polycarbonates, lead and latex. Check out all the other bright colors. (They also make baby bottles.)


Pie Day was earlier this week. If you are a lover like most people, this PI314 Reflected as Pie made by Sigg. It is BPA Free and has a lifetime warranty.

This 25 ounce sport bottle from Camelback, called “Podium Big Chill”, is BPA free and is said to keep water cold twice as long. It is also has a great seal eliminating any chance of spills and leaks.

Insulated Straw Bottle - 17 oz - Purple Glow

The 17-oz EcoVessel Insulated Straw Bottle shown in this great metallic purple is a great bottle for those constantly on the go. It will keep your beverages cold for hours.  The unique straw top makes drinking easier so you can drink from the bottle without unscrewing the cap.  And, the straw won’t open accidentally in your bag or car.

If you are a runner, how can you not love this Sigg Water bottle by Cafe Press? It’s made from a single piece of aluminum, so it’s lightweight and crack-resistant.

10 Ways to Keep Up Your Workout Routine

People always ask me, “How do you keep up with your workout routine?” It got me thinking…How do I? Here’s some of my favorite pointers.

1. Get up early-If you do it first thing in the morning, you will get it done. I do most of my workouts early during the week, and I always feel great afterwards. My friend, Caroline, once said, “If I get nothing else accomplished all day, at least I know I got my run in.”

2. Find a friend-I never want to let my friends down. Do you? Whether it’s a running partner or weight training partner, if you hold each other accountable, you’ll stick to it.

3. Pay it Forward-If you pay for it in advance, you will be more likely to keep it up. Invest in a trainer, join a gym or yoga studio or buy a DVD. When you put money down, you will want to make the most of it.

4. Log it. Whether you keep a fitness log, use an app or tweet it, keep a journal of your workouts on a daily basis. If you write it down, you’re more likely to keep it going when you have a visual to look back on. My favorite log apps are RunKeeper Pro and Livestrong Calorie Tracker

5. Get New Gear-Buy a new pair of running shoes, cycling shoes, shorts, workout pants, sports watch or anything relating to your sport. Dressing for success (even in sports) can only boost your workouts with confidence and make you feel good at the same time.

6. Treat Yourself-Start by setting goals. Then, when you achieve them, buy something new for yourself, treat yourself to a massage or spa appointment, or have a great splurge dinner or dessert.

7. New Tunes-Getting new music always keeps workouts fresh, new and interesting (I need to do a better job of this).

8. Eat & Drink Healthy-When you eat healthy on a regular basis (and drink a lot of water), you will want to keep your workouts up. Studies have shown that people who regularly exercise eat healthier.

9. Read-Purchase fitness magazines, health magazines or read fitness blogs for new ideas, trends, etc.

10. Events-Sign up for an event such as a race, charity cycle class, yoga seminar etc. This will keep things interesting and give you a goal to work toward.

Yoga Top by Prana

Cute T Shirt by Nike

Watch by Soleus from Road Runner Sports

Top Fitness Trends of 2011

I’m so excited to introduce a new addition to my site called “Lifestyle”. In this section, I will be writing about fitness, healthy living, health, nutrition and more. I am so excited about this opportunity as I will be taking my passion for a healthy lifestyle to a new level. This week my “Lifestyle” post is about fitness trends. I have been researching and talking to many fitness professionals to determine what I think are going to be the Top 10 Fitness Trends of 2011. Please let me know if you have some ideas of your own.


1. Yoga-Different styles of yoga are becoming mainstream, and more people are catching on to the physical and mental benefits of yoga. I personally love “Bikram” (hot yoga). See information on corporate yoga (below).

2. Strength Training-More and more data explains the importance of strength training. There’s a strong trend of sports specific training for kids, teens and adults. Group training is also even becoming more popular because of the reductions of personal training costs.

3. Core Workouts-Workouts focusing on the core are trending with ball workouts, plank workouts, water core workouts and horizontal workouts.

4. Spin Cycling classes-Indoor cycling classes are really taking off. You can ride at your own level, get a great workout and sweat, and do it even if it’s dark or rough weather. Warning, it really revs up the appetite.

5. Bootcamp Workouts-Personal trainers, as well as, gyms are having more group style mix-it-up workout classes that are tough challenges to the body.

6. Interval Training-High interval training classes (HIT) are becoming very popular this year as well as interval training in all sports such as running, cycling and swimming. You can burn a lot of fat in a short amount of time with this type of workout.

8. Yoga Spinning-This combines yoga and spinning in one workout. I’ve haven’t tried this, but I hear the two go together like a “yin and yang” combining stretching and strengthening all in one. It sounds fun to cycle to new age music.

9. Piloxing-This new celebrity craze combines the power, speed and agility of boxing with the sculpting of pilates. I can’t wait to try this.

10. Body Weight Workouts-Workouts using your body weight are becoming hot. My friend, Sandra, Owner of “Fuel Plus Fitness”, specializes and is the founder of “Horizontal Conditioning”. This is a challenging workout that creates a lean sculpted body. She has DVD’s of her workouts as well as ball videos.

Note: The photo above was taken by Joseph DeSciose of my friend, Jennifer Berman, Owner of Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga. Jennifer travels around with her mat in tow to business offices such as law firms and corporations. She brings a yoga mind and strong workout to the corporate world.

My Top 10 Favorite “Power” Foods

I get a lot of email, and I mean, a lot. So many people ask me cooking questions, nutrition questions, entrepreneur advice, blog advice, social media advice, have comments and more. Sometimes, I get the simple questions such as, “How do you keep so fit? “What do you eat all day?” etc. I thought I would share my top 10 favorite “power” foods. When I say “power”, I mean foods that I love, foods that I feel give me energy, keep me healthy and foods I can’t go without most every day.

1. Greek Yogurt-With 2.5 grams of protein per ounce and hardly any fat or carbs, what could be better? I stir honey into mine with blueberries or bananas, nuts or whole grain cereal, and I eat it for breakfast or an afternoon snack. It is so filling and tastes great (I use the nonfat or low-fat by the way). See Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

2. Blueberries-These have the highest antioxidant value of all fruit plus they have many vitamins: B, C, E, and they boost your immune system. We always have a bowl of fresh blueberries ready to grab. See  Blueberry Pancakes

3. Almonds or Walnuts-These are a great heart-healthy snack filled with protein, vitamins, minerals and good for your digestive system. I don’t go one day without a handful. See Chunky Granola

4. Acai or pomegranate juice-Acai has been said to have antioxidant benefits and anti-aging properties and omega fatty acids. I think it gives me energy as well. You can buy the frozen Sambazon smoothie packs at Whole Foods, in solid bars, or in a bottle (I like the 100% Genesis Today Acai juice).  See Cranberry Pomegranate Granita

5. Salmon-High in the health promoting fat, omega 3 fatty acids, high protein, and low in calories. I prefer Alaskan wild salmon. Salmon is one of my tried and true favorites. The best part of all is that my 3 kids love it too. See Salmon Burgers

6. Edamame-High in protein, fiber and calcium and low in calories and fat.  I can’t get enough of these. I purchase them already shelled in the frozen section and just thaw. They are great served in a salad, as a snack or as a topping. See Edamame Salsa

7. Gold Bars-These bars are my all-time favorite snack bars. With 11 grams of protein from soy, nuts and whole grains, these satisfy my hunger as well as sugar cravings. I love them in the morning with coffee or as a snack. See Grab the Gold Bar

8. Flaxseed-High in fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, I put ground flaxseed in everything from cereal, to yogurt, granola and even as a crust on salmon or chicken. See Flaxseed Crusted Salmon

9. Arugula-High in Vitamin C and K, I love arugula for it’s peppery taste and beautiful color. Try it with golden raisins, nuts and freshly shaved Parmesan or simply topped with grilled chicken or steamed shrimp. I’m a huge fan and can’t get enough of it. See Black Eyed Pea Salad over Arugula

10. Dark Chocolate-Dark Chocolate is said to contain flavonoids so it’s heart healthy, contains antioxidants and may even reduce aging. Try Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies