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Happy Halloween!!!

31 Oct

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Asian Chicken (or Turkey) Lettuce Wraps

30 Oct

This is a dish we really enjoy, we hope you do too!

Keep in mind that our measurements are always approximate, we like to cook to taste! You can also add in more veggies or switch some if you want!

Ingredients

1 package of ground chicken or turkey

Iceberg lettuce

1 green pepper

1 yellow pepper

~ 1/2 cup grated carrots

~1/4 cup Green onions

~ 1/2 Mushrooms

~ 1 tbsp of garlic

~ 1 tsp of ginger (fresh or ground)

~ 1 tsp sesame seed oil

~ 1 ½ tbsp soya sauce (reduced sodium)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Chop up all your veggies (we try and chop them up pretty small)

2. Peel off layers of iceberg lettuce, wash and dry

3. Start cooking the meat on medium heat

4. When the meat is about half way done, add the garlic, ginger, sea salt and pepper

5. When the meat is almost done, add the peppers and onions

6. When the peppers and onions start to get soft, add the grated carrots and mushrooms

7. After a couple minutes add the soya sauce and sesame seed oil

8. Let it sit at a low heat for a few minutes so all the flavors can blend together

Serve with iceberg lettuce – you can either use the lettuce as a wrap, or break off pieces of the lettuce and use it to grab the chicken and veggie mix. Pre-warning, this is a messy dish to eat, but for us it’s well worth it!

How to read nutritional labels

29 Oct

How to Read Nutritional Labels

We have mentioned in past posts the importance of reading nutritional labels when buying packaged foods. Reading food labels is a good idea because it allows you to learn more about the ingredients and nutritional info in the foods you eat, it helps you compare products to make the healthier choice and it will help you increase or decrease the intake of any nutrient.

This is a longer post, but we decided it was important to dedicate a whole post about nutritional labels so that you know exactly what you are reading and what it means!

(Note: the info below is for Canada)

Food manufactures are required to put a list of ingredients and a nutritional facts table on all packaged foods. This is done to ensure that shoppers are well informed about the contents and nutrients of the products they are buying… that is if they read the label!

The ingredients section is a list of all the foods and additives that are found in the product. The first ingredient on the list is the one used the most and so on. So if you see sugar listed as the first ingredient, there is a lot of sugar in that item!

The nutritional table lists the calories* as well as 13 core nutrients. The calories will always be listed towards the top of the national table and they will be based on the serving size. That is why it is important to pay attention to the serving size. A lot of people see the calorie number and think “that’s not so bad” but don’t realize that it’s only the amount of calories for 19 crackers and not the whole box.

The percentage given for each nutrient is based on the daily value (%DV) that you should be having (based on a 2000 calorie diet). For example, if you see that Kraft Dinner has 4% fiber, then that means that source contains 4% of the amount you should be having in a day. A helpful hint when looking at the %DV is that 5% is considered low, and 15% is considered high.

So, let’s break it down. Below is a nutritional fact sheet for Kraft Dinner. We will go through each of the 13 core nutrients one at a time…

Before we begin, it’s important to note that these values are for 1 serving, which is 1/4 of the box – not the entire box!

Calories

One serving of prepared Kraft Dinner had about 240 calories – let’s see the quality of the calories by checking out the rest of the nutritional label.

Fat

Fat is an important nutrient and plays many roles in the body. For example, it gives you energy (calories) and it helps your body grow and develop. Having said that, there are different kinds of fats found in foods, and not all of them are “good fats” – so the type and the amount of fat you eat is important. On a nutritional label when you see “fat” it represents the total amount of fat in that item.

According to the Heart and Stroke foundation “A healthy eating pattern includes 20% to 35% of your calories from fat. For a woman, this means 45 g to 75 g of fat a day. For a man, this means about 60 g to 105 g per day”.

One serving of Kraft Dinner has 8% of the daily value, not including the fat from the milk and butter that is added.

Saturated Fat

This type of fat is very common in foods. Your body uses this fat to make cholesterol. It contributes to raised (bad) cholesterol levels and high cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease. Kraft Dinner has 1 gram of this bad fat.

Trans Fat

This type of fat is made when liquid is turned into a solid fat. It also contributes to high (bad) cholesterol levels which again can lead to heart disease or strokes. Limiting your intake of trans fats is very important. Many food manufacturers are eliminating trans fats from their products. Kraft Dinner is one of those products, as it has 0 grams of trans fats.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of fat made by your body; however it can also be present in foods. It only comes from animal based foods (ex: meat or cheese) which means it is not found in grains, fruits or veggies! So when you are reading a nutritional table, go for something with a very low percentage of this.

Because of the cheese, butter and milk that is used to make Kraft Dinner, is contains 5mg of Cholesterol – not very good.

Sodium

This is a mineral that is found in table salt, and foods. Canadians should only be having about 1500 mg of sodium per day (about 1 tsp.), however because it is added to most processed foods, people eat way more than they should be. We need some sodium to stay healthy, but too much can lead to high blood pressure which can lead to strokes, heart and kidney disease. When reading food labels, be sure to check not only the nutritional table for high sodium amounts, but also the calorie list for salt.

Kraft Dinner is a good example. One serving has nearly 1/5 of your sodium intake for the day… That’s a lot of sodium!

Carbohydrate

Carbs are compounds that are your body’s main source of energy. There are three main types of carbs: fibre, sugar and starch. The amount of fiber and sugar must me listed under carbohydrates; however starch is optional – so keep that in mind when reading the label! You want to choose foods with more fiber and less sugar.

Kraft Dinner is high in sugar and low in fiber. This is a TERRIBLE combination! This means your blood sugar levels will rise, then crash… and you’ll feel hungry again in no time at all.

Fibre

A higher %DV is something that you want to see next to fiber on a nutritional label. It can help regulate your bowl movements and lower blood cholesterol levels – it is an important part of a healthy diet. Although most people think of bread and grains when they hear the word fibre – a lot of fruits and vegetables contain fiber as well. Fiber fills you up – look for foods with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, you’ll feel full after eating foods that are high in fiber.

The 1 gram of fiber per serving in Kraft Dinner is not enough to fill you up… this explains why people eat the whole box!

Sugars

Sugars are a type of carb that are often used to add flavor and a sweet tastes to food. It is also used as preservatives in things such as fruit jams. Sugar adds a lot of calories and has no nutritional value, so it is not something you want to consume large quantities of. If you look on the nutritional factsheet we have provided above, you will notice there is no %DV beside it. Why is that? Well, it’s because there is no daily recommended amount of sugar as there really are no benefits to consuming it! Don’t forget to also check ingredient lists for added sugars.

Protein

Protein helps build and repair body tissue and is a great source of energy – it is an important nutrient to have! You will notice that there is no %DV for protein either, however in this case it is because most people (Canadians) get enough protein in a day.

As stated in earlier posts, protein is needed to repair tissue, give energy and build muscle. Kraft Dinner’s 7 grams of protein per serving isn’t too bad, but you should still aim for more protein in a meal.

Now, it’s the good stuff… After the macronutrients (fats, carbs and protein) come the vitamins and minerals. This is where you want to see high values – the more the value, the more nutritious!!!

Vitamin A

This is something you want to see more of on a nutritional table. It can help with your vision, bone growth and can also help keep your skin looking healthy!

One serving of Kraft Dinner had 6% of the daily value on vitamin A. This is minimal, especially when you compare it to spinach, which has 56% of your daily value per 30 gram serving.

Calcium

Calcium another nutrient you want more of as it is important for keeping your bones and teeth strong. Because of the milk that is added to Kraft Dinner, there is about 10% of Calcium per serving.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in many fruits and veggies, but it can also be found in other things – so if you see a higher percentage of it on a nutritional table, that is a good thing! It helps your body heal, absorb iron, and it is also an antioxidant*.

Kraft Dinner has no Vitamin C – not good!

Iron

Iron helps transport oxygen through your body – having said that, higher amounts of iron on food labels are a good thing.

Kraft Dinner has about 10% of the recommended daily iron intake.

Some of the other nutrients listed on a package change depending based on the food. In this case, nutrients that are present in the food are listed.

Remember, the values listed on a box of Kraft Dinner are based on ONE serving. There are 4 servings in a box of Kraft Dinner… and usually people don’t just have one serving… they have the whole box! To find out the nutritional information of the entire box, multiply the values for one serving by 4, and here’s what you get:

– 960 calories – depending on your caloric needs, this could be almost half your calories intake for the day!

– 32% of your daily fat, and 4 grams of saturated fat

– 20 milligrams of cholesterol

– 76% of your daily sodium intake

– 56% of your daily carbs (refined carbs with minimal fiber and lots of sugar)

So there you have it, a quick rundown on how to read nutritional labels. When we take the time to read labels, we find out the truths about our foods – sometimes the truths hurt – but it’s important information for us to have!

We hope this post helps you make the healthiest option possible the next time you are in the grocery store!

S & L

*Calories: they are the amount of energy in food. Your body uses this energy throughout the daily so it is important that we eat food to replenish the calories we use. However, if you eat more calories than your body needs, you may gain weight (the opposite is true as well). Nutrients that provide calories are carbs, fat and protein.

*Antioxidant: are dietary substances that can prevent damage to your body or repair damage that has already been done. 

Motivation

28 Oct

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The Difference Between Abs & Core

26 Oct

I think it’s safe to say that when people look at their bodies in the mirror, the first place they look is their stomach – people want a shredded mid-section – the coveted ‘six pack’. It’s kind of ironic when you think about it… the muscle that people care most about is the muscle that is almost always covered by clothing and that no one else really ever sees.

People put so much effort in trying to developing their abs (like doing tons of sit-ups), that they often neglect the other core muscles that are just as important. Developing your core muscles has many benefits, and should not be neglected. And, as we have found from experience, developing your core muscles helps to develop your abs.

What is the “core”?

The core muscles are actually a group of more than a couple dozen muscles in the lower back, stomach and hips. These muscles work together to keep the spine stabilized and to keep the body upright. These muscles are always working. They are critical for:  bending forward and backward, any rotational movements, and twisting from side to side. Basically, your core muscles work in every movement you do.

Benefits of working out the core

If your core works in every movement you do, then a stronger core means you’ll be able to move better. Day to day tasks will be easier and you’ll be less prone to injury.  Think of you core as your foundation. If a house is built on a solid foundation, it will be strong and more durable, where as a weak foundation house can be problematic.  A stronger core will also help you get stronger in other areas. The core muscles support the spine and if your spine is supported solidly, then you’ll be able to lift more weights and maintain proper form. A strong core can also lead to good posture, which means less back pain.

What are the muscles of the core?

As you can see from the chart above, there are many muscles that make up the core. Here is a brief description of some of the major core muscles, and what they do.

Rectus Abdominus

The rectus abdominus the outer stomach muscle – it is also known as the “six pack” muscle.

Tranverse Abdominus (TVA)

This is the deepest muscle of all the abdominal muscles. It pulls your stomach in when you suck in. Engaging this muscle is very important in many exercises including pushups.

Hip Flexors

This group of muscles can be found in the lower part of you core.  They play a major role in allowing the hips to flex. Having strong hip flexors will help when doing moves such as leg lowers.

Erector Spinae

The erector spinae sits in the lower back. It works with other muscles in the lower back to stabilize the spine and to allow the body to twist and bend backward.

Gluteus Maximus

This muscle is attached to the hip and is often at work in core movements
Strengthening these muscles will in turn strengthen all the muscles in your core.

External Abdominal Oblique

The obliques are abdominal muscles on each side of the body. These muscles help twist and rotate.

A lot of people think doing good old fashion sit-ups will get them their desired look, but unfortunately the chances are quite slim. If you focus on your entire core, you will start to develop abs.

Everyone wants to look good – that’s part of the reason why people work out. But it’s important to think about the muscles that you can’t see. Working the core muscles and building a strong foundation will help improve your strength, durability, posture and help make everyday tasks like putting a box on a shelf easier.

We’ve been incorporating more core exercises into our workouts lately, and not only do we feel stronger, but we’ve noticed more definition in our abdominal area.

Hopefully this post helped you learn about the importance of working out your core and not just your abs! Next week we will post some great exercises to help strengthen your core and add definition to you abs. In the meantime, when you are lifting weights or doing other movements, take a second to focus on your core, really flex it (as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach), and keep in engaged. You would be surprised on how many movements our core plays an important role in – but more on that later!

– S

Weight Loss Don’ts

25 Oct

It seems that for many people the primary fitness goal is to lose weight, however, not everyone goes about it in the right way. Before trying to achieve your goal and transform your body, it is important that you inform yourself on the proper ways to do. If you don’t, you may end up causing more harm than good. Here are our top 6 weight loss DONTS!

1.       Don’t skip meals

We already talked about the importance of eating breakfast in our Breaking the Fast post , but the truth is all your meals are important. A lot of people think that skipping meals and lowering their daily calorie intake will help them lose weight, this is false! If you are not eating enough throughout the day you are essentially starving your body of the nutrients it needs to function. As we mentioned in a previous post, your body uses calories for energy. If you are not giving your body enough calories, then you will not have enough energy. This is especially bad if you are working out, your body needs energy to have efficient and effective workouts – without proper fuel, you will ‘crash’ during exercise. If your body is searching for energy it will result to breaking down muscle tissue to get that energy, and that is not something you want happening. Another reason skipping meals is a bad idea is that if you are starving yourself during the day, you may end up binging on bad foods later because you are SO hungry that you are not as able to make healthy food choices! If you are eating healthy, quality foods, you will not have to worry so much about counting calories. So the next time you think that crackers and cheese for lunch will help you shed the pooch, think again! Try eating 3 main meals a day and 2-3 healthy snacks a day for better results.

2.       Don’t skip the weights

A lot of people trying to lose weight focus all their attention on cardio. This is not an effective way to lose weight. It may work initially but you will quickly hit a plateau and it will be hard to maintain your weight loss. Plus, if you do lose weight by only doing cardio, and never weights, you will have no muscle mass on your body to keep burn the fat. Incorporating weights into your workout routine is important because the more muscle mass your body has, the more calories it burns! When you are lifting weights, make sure to lift enough so you really feel a burn your last 3 reps. If you are lifting 10 pound weights for bicep curls but can easily do 20 reps, up your weigh and aim to do 8-12 reps!

3.       Don’t follow fad diets/quick fixes

We always say that losing weight and living a clean, healthy life is simple, but not easy. If it were easy to lose weight (and keep it off) then  there would be no overweight, out of shape people. There is no magic pill that you can take that will instantly shed off all your unwanted weight. It just doesn’t work that way. So if you think it does, you are fooling yourself. A lot of fad weight loss methods/diets (like Bernstein for example) promise quick results – sure people following these may lose weight quickly, at first, but how long can do they keep the weight off? Chances are they gain it all back and then some! Your body takes time to put weight on, and it takes time to get it off. In order to lose weight (in a healthy way) and keep the weight off you need to be doing things that you can sustain; eating well and exercising regularly.

 

4.       Don’t set unrealistic goals  

Like we mentioned in Don’t # 3, your body takes time to put weight on and time to take it off. You need to keep that in mind when you start on your weight loss journey, and set realistic goals for yourself. Saying you want to lose 30 pounds in 30 days is not a realistic goal. Instead we suggest setting a bunch of mini goals for yourself, not just how much weight you want to lose and when but what you want your body to be able to that it can’t at a heavier weight, or with little muscle mass. For example; after the first month you want to have lost 5-10 pounds and be able to do 8 burpess in less than 1 minute, with good form. If you set unrealistic goals, if/when you do not achieve them you will be disappointed, discouraged and may even revert back to your old ways. That or you will try another method that may get you quick results but isn’t healthy and won’t keep the weight off. Celebrate mini accomplishments along the way while still keeping your final goal in mind.

5.       Don’t eliminate carbs  

Low/no carb diets seem to be everywhere! Eliminating carbs all together from your diet is not a wise idea. As we have mentioned before your body uses carbohydrates for energy, and your body needs energy to function. So, if you eliminate all carbs from your diet, your body will need to look for other sources of energy. Your body may use protein from your muscles get energy, and, less muscle means your body is burning less fat – completely counterproductive! Studies have shown that your brain needs carbs too; people on low carbs diets tended to be in a bad mood and performed poorly on memory tasks.

Carbs are not the enemy, its just a matter of what type of carbs you consume. For instance, if you are eating a lot of white bread, switch to whole grain. When we hear the word “carb” we tend to think of bread, pasta and rice. But carbohydrates are also found in many veggies such as carrots.

6.       Don’t binge eat on the weekends

When trying to lose weight some people think that if they eat well during the week, they can eat whatever they want on the weekend. Although cheat meals are okay, cheat weekends are not a good idea. A lot of people use food as a reward, so as a reward to themselves for eating well all week, on the weekends they eat a lot of crap. Perhaps changing your reward system would be a good idea. So instead of rewarding yourself with half a pizza for dinner and a brownie for dessert, why not go to the movies, or get your nails done? It’s fine to allow yourself a cheat or two, but if you are binging on bad food over the weekend you are essentially un-doing all the hard work you put in during the week.

– L

Calorie Comparison of Halloween Treats

24 Oct

Halloween is quickly approaching and you know what that means…mini chocolate bars and candy! There’s nothing scary about the way they taste, however, these treats can have horrifying affects on your body.  We thought you may appreciate a quick breakdown of your favorite Halloween treats so that you can choose the best of the worst. Here is a list of classic Halloween treats, based on their calories.

The key is moderation – everyone likes to have treats on Halloween, but if you go in with a plan and use some self control, you’ll be able to enjoy your Halloween… and not feel like you have a 50 pound weight in your stomach…

What’s Halloween without those single Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Or the mini boxes of Smarties? Chocolate is the favorite Halloween treat for many people, so let’s start off with these delicious, not so nutritious treats!

#1 – Aero Bars – 40 calories

Because of the air in these bars, they are actually pretty low (comparatively speaking) in calories and fat. Also, Aero bars are just chocolate – no caramel, nuts, or toffee – all of which add extra fat and calories.

#2 – Smarties – 45 calories

Like Aero Bars, Smarties contain only chocolate. Because of this, they are also lower in calories compared to some other chocolates.

#3 – with 50 calories a… 5 way tie!!!!

Reese’s Pieces Candy  50 calories

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate – 50 calories

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almond

Caramilk

Twix

#4 – 60 calories is split between:

Wunderbar

Crispy Crunch

Mr. Big

Snickers

Mars

Milk Chocolate M & M’s

Coffee Crisp

Kit Kat

#5 – A couple bars have 70 calories:

Peanut M & M’s

Oh Henry

#6 Last, but definitely not least with 80 calories:

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (1 cup)

Next up is CANDY!!!!! These sugary treats are a Halloween classic, here’s how they stack up:

#1 – Rockets – 30 calories per roll

#2 – 40 calories:

Twizzlers

Starburst Original

Starburst FaveReds

#3 – 45 calories:

Sour Patch Kids

Fruit Mania

Swedish Berries

Fuzzy Peach

Nibs

#4 – 50 calories:

Nerds

Sweetarts

#5 – 60 calories:

Skittles Original

Skittles Sour

Large Tootsie Roll

#6 – 70 calories:

Laffy Taffy

Runts

There you have it, the calorie count for all the classic Halloween treats. So on Halloween before you chow down on an entire box of chocolate or candy, just keep in mind how many calories are in each little package!

 

– S & L