Chickpea Tomato Curry

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Chickpeas (low sodium)
  • 3/4 cup of Brown Basmati Rice
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 4 oz. Tomato Paste (low sodium)
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 4 cloves of Garlic chopped finely
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Fresh Ginger chopped finely
  • A few splashes of Lemon Juice
  • Cilantro
  • Curry Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder

*Makes 2 servings

Directions:

1. Cook rice as instructed.

2. Chops tomatoes and onions and heat in sauce pan with 1/2 cup of water.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the sauce and simmer until the rice is ready.

4. Combine rice and sauce.

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How I Beat My Sugar Cravings

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I love sugar. Especially chocolate. Very few things are as euphoric to me as eating sweet foods.  At my heaviest, I was drinking soda multiple times per day, dessert with every meal and more sugary treats with late night snacking. Here are some strategies I figured out to beat my cravings…

How I Reduce Sugar Cravings:

1. Eat More (Whole Food) Carbs. 

I’ve found that my sugar cravings are the worst when I’m eating lower carb/ higher fat. I have found that I don’t crave (processed) sugar at all when I get at least 60% of my calories from carbs. Although I start craving savory food if I go above 75%.

2. Eat Enough.

Oftentimes my sugar cravings occur at night when I haven’t eaten much earlier in the day. For me this is usually if I eat less than 1200 calories before dinner (I usually burn between 2300-2500 calories/day).

3. Sleep Enough.

When I don’t get enough sleep I often resort to sugar/ caffeine for quick energy.

How I Prevent Myself From Giving In:

1. Don’t Keep It In the House

If I have sugary treats in the house I will eat it. I make it so I have to walk to get it, and I only allow myself to buy single servings. I don’t do moderation when it comes to sugar.

2. Eat Fruit

Oftentimes if I am tempted to go get a sweet, I eat fruit. I have found that dates are the most effective in stopping me. Since they are a dried fruit, the sweetness is more intense and I usually only eat 2 before I’ve had enough (they are 70 calories each). Grapefruit also works really well for me.

3. Drink Tea

Drinking tea with a little bit of sugar helps with curbing my cravings. I get the taste of sugar, but for a lot less calories. (1 tsp of sugar has about 15 calories.)

The Easiest Changes You Can Make for Your Health

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1. Replace refined grains with whole grains.

While refined grains are problematic and linked to many diseases, whole grains are health promoting. Whole grains are a healthy source of carbs, protein, fiber and various vitamins and minerals. They are also relatively inexpensive and generally aren’t labor intensive.

2. Drink more water.

Water is one of the most basic of human needs. Drinking more water will likely reduce the amount of other beverages and keep you hydrated throughout the day.

3. Eat more fruit.

Fruit is one of the most health promoting foods you can eat. Eating more fruit will satisfy your sweet tooth, provide many nutritional benefits and help prevent going after unhealthy sweet foods like cookies and candy.

Try having your favorite fruit between each meal and every time you crave sugar.

4. Do physical activity you enjoy.

January tends to be a busy month for gyms everywhere. If going to the gym feels like a chore, then it is unlikely you will follow through with it. Try spending that time doing physical activity you like or at least don’t mind.

5. Eat vegetables with every meal.

Vegetables are probably the most health promoting food group. Unfortunately many people struggle to even meet the minimum recommendations, and the most popular vegetable is french fries. One of the easiest ways to upgrade your diet is by adding more veggies in. You can add spinach to your smoothie, sprouts to your sandwich and have some broccoli with dinner.

*French fries and pizza don’t count.

Strategies to Make Healthy Choices During the Holidays

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With all the sweets and rich foods around the holidays, it is easy to undo an entire years worth of good choices in the span of a couple of weeks. The social pressure from parties and tradition also add onto how easy it is to backslide.

1. Bring healthy foods to holiday parties.

This guarantees that you will at least have some healthy options to eat.

2. Keep the junk and rich foods for the holiday itself.

Indulging on Christmas won’t hurt. Indulging for the entire month of December and early January will.

3. Try to make the same foods in less processed, lighter forms.

This could mean reducing refined sugars, using less processed oils or using whole grains rather than refined. E.g. For stuffing you can use more veggies, less added fats and whole wheat rather than white bread. You can also make fruit based desserts instead of desserts that revolve around added fats/added sugars.

4. Find time to exercise.

With scrambling to fit in various holiday activities, it can be easy to miss a few workouts. At the very least try to do a quick at-home workout with your own body weight or run for 20 minutes. Otherwise the holidays can be a starting point for a fitness rut.

5. Go light with the alcoholic beverages. 

Liquid calories are one of the easiest ways to add on a few pounds during the holidays. Limit yourself to 2 drinks. Eggnog is probably the worst offender at around 350 calories per cup.

6. You don’t have to have every treat available.

Just because it only comes once per year does not mean you have to cram every option available while it lasts.

Nutritional Upgrade: Pumpkin Spice Latte

The Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks is one of my favorite fall treats. That said, a tall (12 oz.) latte has nearly as much sugar as a can of Coke. They also aren’t very transparent when it comes to their ingredient list. The Food Babe recently did an investigation on this issue.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Ingredients:

  • Coffee
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 2 tbsp Canned Pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk: Almond Milk (filtered water, almonds), Coconut Milk (filtered water, coconut cream [coconut extract, water, xanthan gum, carrageenan, guar gum]), Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Sunflower Lecithin, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, D-Alpha-Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E).
  • 2 tsp Coconut Palm Sugar

Directions:

  1. Mix cinnamon, ginger and cloves into coffee grounds.
  2. Brew Coffee.
  3. Mix milk and pumpkin.
  4. Add coffee to pumpkin & milk.
  5. Add sugar to your liking.
  6. Enjoy 🙂

Nutritional Upgrade: French Fries

Mcdonald’s French Fries

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Ingredients: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor [Wheat and Milk Derivatives]*, Citric Acid [Preservative]), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (Maintain Color), Salt. Prepared in Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid added to preserve freshness), Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

*The label says it contains 0g of trans fat, but the ingredients list has hydrogenated soybean oil on it. This means that it contains trans fat.

An interesting video on the decomposition of Mcdonald’s french fries.

Homemade Sweet Potato Fries

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Curry Powder
  • A few dashes of Sea Salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 F
  2. Cut sweet potato into fries shape.
  3. Put fries on pan and pour olive oil on it. Mix evenly.
  4. Sprinkle spices and salt onto fries and mix evenly.
  5. Bake in oven for about 18 minutes.
  6. Turn fries over to opposite side and bake for another 18 minutes.
  7. Eat and enjoy 🙂

Southwestern Stir Fry

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Quinoa (cooked)
  • 2 cups of Black Beans (cooked, no salt)
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Jalapeño Peppers
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • 2 tbsp BBQ Sauce
  • Cilantro
  • Juice of 2 Limes

*Makes 4 servings.

Directions:

  1. Cook black beans and quinoa as instructed on packaging.
  2. Chop veggies
  3. Fry onions and jalapeños in coconut oil.
  4. Add in black beans and quinoa once veggies are cooked.
  5. Add in seasonings, lime juice and BBQ sauce.
  6. Eat and enjoy 🙂

*Leave in jalapeño seeds if you want the heat. Otherwise, leave them out.