Darrens Dieting News & Blog

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Good Food Made Simple: Healthy Frozen Food?

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good-food-made-simple.jpgOur supermarket's frozen food section is filled with frozen foods that are marketed as "healthy" options, but they are usually filled with sodium and preservatives.

Good Food Made Simple recently sent me some samples of their frozen food line. They claim to use all natural, simple ingredients just like someone would make the foods at home.

But, are they really as wholesome as they claim?

goog-food-made-simple-oatmeal.jpgThey offer three varieties of steel cut oatmeal and since this is one of my usual breakfast choices, I was happy to see how they compared to my homemade version.

Fruit and Berry Oatmeal

Serving Size: 8oz (227g)

Ingredients: Filtered water, steel cut oats, sweetened cranberries, sweetened blueberries, currents, sweetened cherries, vermont maple syrup, brown sugar, sea salt.

2.5 minutes in the microwave and the oatmeal was hot and ready to serve. It was creamy, tasty and I loved the berry combination. As for the ingredients, it is just like I would make it at home minus the vermont maple syrup. However, I use fresh fruit or non-sweetened dried fruit. 15 grams of sugar isn't bad, but I would suggest that if they would use non-sweetened fruit, they could get this number down a tad more.

Vermont Maple Syrup Oatmeal

Serving Size: 8oz (227g)

Ingredients: Filtered water, steel cut oats, vermont maple syrup, brown sugar, sea salt.

Again, same as above and great tasting. I could have still enjoyed it a little less sweet. Perhaps they could eliminate the brown sugar and just use the maple syrup. 10 grams of sugar isn't bad though.

Plain Oatmeal

Serving Size: 8oz (227g)

Ingredients: Filtered water, steel cut oats, sea salt.

If you want to add your own amounts sugar, stevia, or berries, then this plain oatmeal variety is perfect. I would probably pick this one because I like to add frozen blueberries to my oatmeal and just a pinch of brown sugar.

good-food-made-simple-egg-patties.jpgGood Food Made Simple has two types of frozen egg patties available.

Whole Egg Patties

Serving size: 2oz (57g)

Ingredients: Whole eggs, egg whites, whole milk, cornstarch, sea salt, pepper

These took about a minute to heat in the microwave and are just like I would make eggs at home except for the cornstarch. I tried them plain and with some cheese. Even plain, they had a good taste, but the texture was a tad rubbery although impressive for a frozen egg product.

Egg White Patties

Serving size: 2oz (57g)

Ingredients: egg whites, whole milk, cornstarch, sea salt, pepper

For those on a low cholesterol diet, these are perfect. Again, they are a little rubbery, but still tasty even by themselves. I would question 0 grams of fat since whole milk is used. They probably have less than 1 gram so it's not required to be listed.

Good Food Made Simple lives up to their claims as far as I'm concerned with only natural, wholesome ingredients and their products were easy to eat. Should someone with time to make their own oatmeal and eggs at home choose this product? Well, only if you have extra money to burn because making your own is way more inexpensive.

However, for busy people on the go, Good Food Made Simple provides some nice healthy, frozen breakfast options.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Dried Fruit: Health Food or Sugary Treat?

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pitted_prunes.jpgDried fruit is still fruit. The main difference is that there is a very low moisture content resulting in a fruit with a longer shelf life.

Since this fruit is now shrunken to at least half the size, this makes dried fruit a more nutrient dense and higher calorie food.

Does this also mean there will be more antioxidants per serving? Is dried fruit worth eating even though it contains high amounts of sugar?

There are over 300 calories and about 65 grams of sugar in one cup of dried fruit while your average fresh fruit contains about 60 to 80 calories and about 15 grams of sugar. Dried fruit contains similar amounts of vitamin A and C, but other vitamins such as thiamine are lost when the sulfur dioxide (a preservative) is added.Dried fruit has a higher fiber content than most fresh fruits, and most are a good source of B vitamins, rich in potassium, copper, iron, and manganese. Dried fruit has similar antioxidant levels to some fresh fruits. Prunes (dried plums) have the highest antioxidant levels which are about equivalent to fresh berries. A few prunes per day will keep the doctor away! Fresh blueberries, however, still reign supreme with the highest levels.

If your goal is weight loss, I would recommend limiting your intake of dried fruit. A good serving size is about 2 tablespoons. Be careful not to just snack on dried fruit because that is when it can quickly deliver the calories. Try to only use dried fruit as a topping to your food. I like to add a sprinkle to oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or on top of a salad. Or, I like to think of it as an alternative to gummy bears!

Since dried fruit contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals, it can be a great way to get a lot of your nutrition in a few small bites. Just remember that it is not quite as filling as fresh fruits and does have a much higher calorie count. But, for some with specific diet needs, dried fruit is a great choice. If possible, look for dried fruit that doesn't have extra sugar added and that's preservative free.

Do you eat dried fruit? If so, do you add it to other foods or eat it as a snack by itself?

Monday, 26 September 2011

6 Healthy appetizer Dips

chips_and_salsa.jpgIt is the start of football season here in the US and we really like our chips and salsa, as well as other dips while watching football.

What should we do as most of these starters are loaded with calories? Even if you're not a football fan, or a chips and dip food person, I'm sure you can take advantage of healthy snack optionshaving more.

So, I have compiled a list of my top healthy dips and a few Starter recipe ideas.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: This is a classic that we all love. Your average spinach artichoke dip is about 150 calories for 2 tablespoons. This can increase the calories because a typical serving of several tablespoons is quickly! Try this instead: make your own with fat free yogurt, fat-free sour cream, fat reduced reduced fat cheese and cream cheese instead of the full fat ingredients and mayonnaise. Salsa: This is your best choice in the category dips because it all vegetables and herbs. Although salsa your lowest calorie choice is, go easy on the chips and try to get some fried chips to your next meeting.
Another variation on traditional salsa is a chunky salsa with corn, peppers, black beans, coriander and lemon juice. Bean Dips: You can get really creative with bean dips because each race of beans has a different flavor. One of my favorites is a white bean dip with basil, pine nuts, white beans, garlic and a touch of olive oil. Pick up a beet hummus on your local supermarket (or try making your own).
Sliced vegetables go well with bean dips, and this makes Bean dips one of the healthiest and most nutritious options.Guacamole: Think of all the healthy monounsaturated fats that you are consuming when you eat guacamole. However, it is still important for portion control this heart healthy dive as it can quickly calorie.Salmon dive: With each dive seafood would be best to make your own so that you can use lighter ingredients such as the reduction of fat cream cheese. Try adding extra celery and green onions for taste and less of the room-based ingredients. Ranch Dip: This is another great vegetable dip. But, try making your own Greek yogurt free with a bold and numerous herbs and spices. This will save you at least 100 calories, and 5 grams of fat per serving!

I hope this has you some ideas for your next football match or together. What are some of your favorite healthy dips or snacks?

7 Rules For Hiring a Personal Trainer

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hiring-good-personal-trainer.jpgA personal trainer can be a fantastic way to help guide you towards your fitness and/or weight loss goals.

The problem is that there are hundreds to choose from in some places.

Here are some things to look for when hiring a personal trainer.

Above knowledge and experience, a true desire to help others must be alive and well in your prospective trainer. This will be evident from the get-go and should permeate in the sessions. Like any other professional, you want somebody who is genuinely interested in helping you achieve your goals.

Personal training is a largely unregulated industry. Virtually anybody can call themselves a "Personal Trainer" and not have to answer to any governing body as would a doctor, registered dietician or physiotherapist. Ask for qualifications. A degree/diploma in a health-related field such as kinesiology or exercise science is always a plus. Additionally, look for your trainer to be certified by a reputable organization such as ACSM, ACE, ISSA, NSCA, NASM or a recognized state or provincial (in Canada) body.

This is what will separate a so-so trainer from an excellent trainer. While a University education and certifications are great, it should be merely the beginning of a never-ending educational journey. Be sure whomever you choose is well-versed in the latest research on exercise and nutrition. You want somebody who is dedicated to constant improvement - especially in an industry that is ever-changing.

Look for a trainer with a minimum of 1-2 year of training experience under their belt. More experience is better, but also look for someone whose experience is applicable to your circumstances. If you have injuries for example, be sure your prospective trainer is well-versed in post-rehab exercise.

Do they offer a complementary session to meet/set goals?Do they perform an assessment? Ask specifically if your trainer performs a postural assessment and movement screen as a minimum. The trainer should know to use the data to put together a program.What will a typical session look like?What kind of plan will I be on?What is the cancellation policy?

Costs for personal training vary greatly. Look to spend anywhere from $50-$85/hr. If they charge less than this, you need to wonder why - it may be a red flag. Conversely, charging over $90/session is outrageous and in almost all cases unjustifiable. "Because that's what people will pay" is not reason enough to charge that much.

This is important and can be overlooked. Even if your trainer is highly educated, experienced, and effective - some personalities simply do not mesh. Look for someone you connect well with and whose style works well with your personality. Some people like the task master/drill sergeant while others prefer a more gentle approach.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Eat The Foods You Love Diet

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eating_chocolate.jpgHave you ever thought about eating everything that you want to and still being able lose weight?

I am sure many of us have, but we all know what we need to do. For weight loss, we need to focus on fruits and vegetables and limit our overall calorie intake.

But, what if you could still shed some pounds while eating foods you enjoy?

A diet-blog reader commented on a post saying he eats what he loves and he has never had a weight problem. This struck me as a key idea that we all need to remember. Long term success of maintaining a healthy weight is often due to having a healthy relationship with food, enjoying what you eat, but not overdoing it either.

This is a hard concept to grasp for many people because food is tied to emotion, mood, stress, a person's schedule, and habits. But, I believe that everyone can get to a point where you enjoy food and do not have to worry about weight gain.

80% of the time it is important to eat clean and healthy. The other 20% of the time, it is OK to feel as if you are indulging.Research has shown that some of the best long term weight loss comes from cutting only 200 calories from your diet per day. This is low enough to trick the brain into still feeling satisfied while it is just enough to cause gradual weight loss.Portion size is crucial for long term success. Re-evaluate your mealtime and snack-time portions. Even if you have chosen a richer food, focus on keeping your portion of that food smaller in comparison to other foods on your plate. The first few bites of any food are going to be the best tasting bites. Only put a few spoonfuls of the higher calorie foods on your plate to help keep yourself satisfied without loading up on calories.Learn to love your fruits and vegetables. Sometimes we get stuck in a boring routine of cooking the same vegetables and fruits. Shop in season and be open to trying new produce. This will help keep those nutritious and waistline friendly foods delicious and exciting. Do you have any tips you have found helpful in achieving long term success maintaining a healthy weight while still eating your favorite foods?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Grape Seed Oil: Healthy or Just Hype?

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pouring_oil.jpgOver the last few years, grape seed oil has become popular as a dietary supplement and for its use in cooking.

Grape seed oil is perhaps even more popular for use in cosmetics! But, for dietary purposes it is considered a healthy unsaturated fat.

Is grape seed oil really worth all the hype?

1 Tbsp. of Grape Seed Oil:

120 Calories
13.6 g Fat
1.3 g Saturated Fat
9.5 g Polyunsaturated Fat
2.2 g Monounsaturated Fat
3.9 mg Vitamin E (19% of your Daily Value)
24.3 mg Phytosterols

Grape seed oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats--mainly, the omega-6 fatty acids called linoleic acid. Grape seed oil contains plenty of antioxidants. However, the antioxidants are not stable, and are fewer upon consumption. Grape seed oil is unique in that it contains phytosterols which can significantly help to reduce cholesterol. Overall, grape seed oil is considered a healthy fat because it is plant-based and contains plenty of unsaturated fats.

Grapeseed oil is an excellent frying or sautéing oil since it can be heated to high heat without smoking. The oil is very mild and lightly flavored so it works well in most dishes.

However, many people like to get their nutritional benefits in a pill form rather than adding to foods. Grape seed extract is very concentrated so the pill form is high in vitamin E, omega-6 oils, and antioxidants. This is one case where the supplement may provide more benefits than the actual oil.

Who knew the tiny seed of the grape had all this nutrition! However, I will personally stick to my omega-3 fish oil supplements and olive oil for my fat choices in my diet. I prefer to get more of the omega-3 than omega-6. We still need more research to prove that grape seed oil can outshine or at least match the benefits of those omega-3's.

How about you, have you tried grape seed oil?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Simple steps to grab a healthy Lunch

brown_lunch_bag.jpgWe all know that a lunch every day bring us will save money and calories, but it's all about sticking to it and to make healthy choices.

You must plan ahead, spend an extra five to ten minutes and then the packed lunch packaging, safe transport.

Lunch to work I spend my almost every day, so I will share with you some quick tips that I have learned.

Decide what you will eat for lunch. A few of my favorite lunches garbanzo beans are: salad with tuna and a light vinaigrette dressing or High fibre wrap with hummus and vegetablesLeftovers of dinner in a reheatable container or leftovers placed on top of salad or soup/greensHomemade stewSandwich thins whole wheat bread with a thin spread of Turkey and pesto nitrite freeInterchange your snacks or sides. Try Greek yogurt, fruit, small handful of nuts, baby carrots/raw vegetables, beet hummus, whole grain crackers, reduced fat cottage cheese and low fat string cheese.Creating a laundry list of items that you need for your lunch. Per on your shopping trip, make sure to obtain the necessary objects.Pack your lunch the night before. You will much more likely to stick to the packing of your lunch, you do not have to do it during the morning rush.Use a lunch bag that is isolated and always grab a ice pack. Food will remain safe for up to four hours left in the temperature danger zones. Using an ice pack and insulated lunch bag will help to extend this time somewhat. I use a collapsible lunch bag that I can fold up and put in my wallet for convenience.

These are just the basics. The hardest part is changing your habits and behaviour. Please bear in mind that there is a greater payoff for the setting up your lunch to work is every day. If your goal is weight loss, can give you a few hundred calories, resulting in lost a pound by the end of the week. If your goal is to pack a lunch to eat healthy, can help to increase your fruit and vegetable intake.

You pack a lunch, and if you do, do you have any idea of the lunch for the rest of us?