Here’s a recipe to reduce the oil and calories from your diet. The popcorn comes out fresh and crunchy and it takes just two minutes to make.
Put 2 tablespoons popping kernels in a brown sandwich bag. Fold bag over in one-inch sections, four times. Place bag in microwave, right side up (so flat part is on the bottom and folded side is on the top).
Heat in microwave for 1.45 seconds. Watch microwave, as popcorn can burn easily, and since different microwaves are hotter than others.
Remove from microwave, open bag slowly, keeping your face away from the steam.
Add your favorite toppings to the top of the bag, close it and shake a few times. I use a combination of salt, cayenne pepper and coconut sugar.
Approximate calories: 125 carbs: 30 grams.
I love granola, but I don’t like all those calories and I try to limit sugar, so I make my own. Just toss the ingredients in a bag and shake!
I keep a zip lock bag of this granola in my purse, and another in my gym bag so I have something to snack on when I’m out and about, and hungry in between meals.
Hunza golden raisins cost a bit more, but you don’t need too many (you can always substitute dark chocolate chips), are a good source of healthy fast carbs, and have the added benefit of tasting like chewy, sweet gummy bears.
- ¼ cup sliced cashews, slivered almonds, or chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup toasted oats
- ¼ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
- ¼ cup Hunza golden raisins
Put all in a zip lock bag and shake. Serves 4.
Nutritional information Per serving: 152 calories gross carbs: 14 protein: 3 grams
Crispy, shredded, baked sweet potato with crunchy kale topped with fresh, red bell pepper, and drizzled with a sweet and nutty dressing makes this salad unique and absolutely delicious! I’ve been making it every week for over a month. This recipe has no oil either!
Sweet Potato Crisps with Kale Chips & Tahini Dressing
1 large sweet potato*
2 large shallots
1 large bunch of curly kale
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 T tahini
¼ cup coconut milk (any type)
1 T pure maple syrup
2 T golden raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and coarsely chop sweet potato into large chunks. Placed chopped sweet potato in a food processor select the shredding attachment. Shred sweet potato. Place shreds in a large glass of a baking dish, lined with parchment paper, and spread sweet potato shreds evenly in half the pan.
Wash kale and remove leaves from stems. Put kale in food processor and shred. Place the shredded kale in the other half of the baking dish. Slice shallots and place on top of the kale.
Bake in oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, keeping the kale separate from the sweet potatoes, until sweet potato and kale are crisp. While this is baking, make the dressing by combining the tahini, coconut milk, and maple syrup in a small food processor until incorporated.
When sweet potato and kale are cooked and crisp, remove from oven, and place ¾ cup of shredded sweet potato on a small plate. Top with the following ingredients in this order: kale, red bell pepper, raisins and dressing. It’s best eaten right away. You can add your favorite mild flavored protein such as tofu, grilled chicken, or tilapia. Drizzle dressing over protein too.
*Sweet potatoes are white. Yams are frequently mistitled as sweet potatoes, and they taste different. Yams are orange and yams don’t crisp up, so make sure you get white sweet potatoes and not orange yams.
When most people are in pain, they take an over-the-counter, non-prescription drug, such as Advil, Ibuprofen, or Tylenol. What’s not widely known is that these pain relievers increase the chances of a heart attack, stroke (1), liver damage (2), and interfere with muscle growth (3).
It’s not uncommon for people to take pain medication after being sore from a hard workout, so I was shocked to learn that pain relievers can hinder muscle gains. “Muscle injury is an important stimulator of muscle hypertrophy and increased strength. Suppressing muscle inflammation with over-the-counter drugs such as non-steroidal inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen or Motrin, aspirin, or Ascriptin, and naproxen or Aleve) after training can interfere with muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy” (4).
I’m not aware of any drug, that doesn’t have side effects. The bottom line is to only take drugs, when you absolutely have to.
3. Fahey, EdD, Thomas. Strength and Conditioning. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 95
4. AM J Physiol Cell Physiol 287: C475-483, 2004.
Caramel is typically made from sugar, dairy and vanilla, and contains a lot of calories. I found Sweet Drops, which is a zero calorie, zero carbohydrate sweetener, made from stevia, and have been adding this to my smoothies and oatmeal. I’ve tried vanilla too, and that’s also yummy. My husband adds a squeeze of the caramel to his coffee with a little bit of So Delicious coconut milk beverage.
If you’re looking to cut back on dairy, or eliminate it, want to reduce calories, and/or trim unhealthy foods, give this sweetener a try.
If you can’t find it at your local market, it’s available on Amazon. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/STEVIA-SWEET-DROP-CARAMEL-1-7OZ/dp/B01B0488QM?th=1
I was so excited when I found So Delicious brand frozen mousse in Sprouts so I bought four different flavors. What’s extra special about these is not just that they are vegan, they are low-calorie, at around 300 calories for the whole pint! Typical vegan ice cream is about 150 or more calories for just ½ cup, so if I devoured a pint of vegan full-fat ice cream, that would be over 600 calories! Since I have very little control when it comes to sweets, this is great for me.
I tried Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Lemon…all delicious. Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip are my favorites out of the four. The remaining flavors I haven’t tried yet are mango, salted caramel and cranberry. I’m hoping they come up with a raspberry/almond swirl.
These frozen desserts don’t have the richness of ice cream, it’s the consistency of whipped cream; which is not a bad thing; it’s just different.
Do I recommend these? You bet! Just buy one at a time. I ate the whole pint of each flavor, one day after the other.
Low-calorie vegan mousse: http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/product_groups/dairy-free-frozen-mousse
I was trying to create quick grab-and-go healthy nut bars, but I was pleasantly surprised that these taste like banana bread, but without any sugar (except for two tablespoons of honey in the entire batch). The sweetness and moisture (these are nice and moist) comes from ripe bananas. There’s no flour, butter, dairy, added fats, wheat or gluten. Don’t omit the quinoa, which adds a wonderful unique crunch. These are really easy to make too.
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 2 T brown flax seeds, whole
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 T honey (or maple syrup, if vegan)
- ¼ cup Hunza golden raisins (or mini, dark chocolate chips)
- ¼ cup quinoa
- ¼ cup almond butter, creamy, unsalted
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut parchment paper to line inside of an 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Pour quinoa in a small sauce pan, and cook on medium heat for 2 ½ minutes. Grind flax seeds in a coffee mill (or buy pre-ground. It’s fresher and less likely to get spoiled if you grind them yourself right before you use them).
While quinoa is toasting, put bananas, honey, ground flax, cinnamon, salt, and almond butter in a large mixing bowl and mix with a large spoon. Toss quinoa inside the sauce pan so the other side gets toasted, and continue heating (toasting) for another 2 ½ minutes. Add oats, quinoa, raisins or chocolate chips, and walnuts, and stir until incorporated. Spoon dough into the baking dish, and level out with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes in the oven. Let cool for 1 hour, then cut into 16 squares (4×4). Keep in refrigerator, covered.
makes 16 squares
1 square: 119 calories 16 gross carbs 5 grams fat 4 grams protein
The USDA recommends that everyone eat certain portions of all five food groups daily, but the government is highly influenced by large companies that give donations to help re-elect government officials, so, keep that in mind when taking their advice.
The five food groups the USDA categorizes are fruits, vegetables, protein (which they lump beans, eggs, soy, nuts and seeds [nuts and seeds have protein, but are mostly fats], grains (which do contain protein), and dairy (2).
While a lot of people are eliminating grains, even whole grains from their diets to lose bodyfat, this is not necessary. Grains should be limited, but not eliminated, unless you’re allergic to them, or they cause you inflammation.
The one food group that should be removed from the USDA’s list is dairy. Dairy is high calorie, high in salt (cheese), high in cholesterol (butter), high in sugar (lactose in milk), causes stomach distress (typically from lactose, or from whey protein), and is totally unnecessary. You don’t need to get your calcium from dairy products. Calcium is naturally occurring in other foods, like beans, figs, soy, fish, seeds and nuts (1).
If you need testimonials about how cutting dairy helps lower bodyfat, watch this YouTube video from bodybuilders, models and bikini competitors.
- 1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-calcium-rich-foods
- 2) https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods
While bulking is a tactic to increasing muscle size, adding extra calories adds fat too. Unless you’re underweight, it’s not necessary to increase calorie intake for the sole purpose of muscle gains. Not only does excess fat cause inflammation and increases estrogen, that extra fat reduces testosterone; “…low testosterone levels make it difficult to significantly increase muscle size” (1). If you want muscle gains, you’ll want your body fat in the teens to show off those muscles (otherwise they’ll be hidden under a layer of fat).
Even though you want to increase muscle size, don’t train at 100% all the time, or lift more than six days a week (four is typically plenty though); doing so will lead to overtraining. By overtraining, the immune system is suppressed and testosterone levels fall, “…making gains in muscle size impossible.”
Lift heavier, focus on form, and reduce reps to 12 (those last few reps should be challenging). Sets should range from 4-6, prioritize whole foods and complex carbs with the highest nutritional value over calories, vary training intensity, take rest days, and you’ll see improved strength with consistency.
Photo: Kasey Housmans, Fitness Trainer
(1) Source: Fahey, EdD, Thomas. Strength and Conditioning. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 90, 94.
Finding a good-tasting vegan protein powder that doesn’t have sugar, or a funky texture, is definitely a challenge. Target Stores sell Tone It Up Vegan protein powder in tubs. I bought the Coconut, and the Café Latte protein powder flavors for $22.99 each.
Unlike other Tone it up protein powders, these two aren’t very sweet, or very thick. The problem is that they needed extra sweetness, and a bit more thickness, so you may want to add honey or stevia, and your favorite vegan milk instead of water. They also have a chalky, grittiness I couldn’t get past.
The café latte flavor is on-point. I found that if I add 1 tablespoon of the café latte with my plain collagen protein powder by Great Lakes, it’s actually really good. The coconut flavor doesn’t taste like coconut, and I can’t even describe what it tastes like, other than bland.
The bottom line is that these flavored protein powders have an off-putting texture, and are not items I plan to purchase again.