Weight Loss in 2019…..Resolutions for the New Year

The year is coming to a close, and 2019 is just around the corner…..which means New Year’s resolutions aren’t far off. You may have already thought of the list of things that you want to work on in the new year, or maybe you haven’t given it any thought yet.

What I like about creating resolutions is the fact that you are working to better yourself, whether it’s with healthier eating, time management, traveling, weight loss, or anything else in between. Two of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more. If you have one of these goals for the new year, one of the best ways to be successful with them is to make sure you’re making SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For example, your SMART goal for the new year could be:

Within six months I will be consistently exercising at least three times a week for 30-45 minutes.

This goal meets all five criterion and is a lot more specific than if you just said your goal in the new year was to exercise more. Being SMART with your goals will help you to be more successful at reaching them. Below I’ve shared with you some dietitian approved tips to be successful with your exercise and weight loss goals in the new year.

Ways to be successful with exercise:

  1. Start small and gradually increase your workout routine. Even 10-15 minute increments of exercise add up and make a difference.
  2. Find something that you love to do. It can be kickboxing, swimming, Zumba, yoga or anything really……. the key is finding something you enjoy. Try a new class or activity if you don’t know what you like. The fact is, if you like your workouts you are more likely to stick with them long-term.
  3. Use the buddy system. Whether you have plans to meet up with a friend to work out, or incorporate physical activity as a part of your family’s lifestyle, there is strength in numbers and accountability in working out with others.
  4. Include both cardio and weight training (for example weight lifting or exercises that use your body weight such as push ups, lunges, and squats) in your workout routine. Both types of exercise are important and offer your body different benefits.

Ways to be successful with weight loss:

  1. Focus on building a healthier lifestyle instead of trying to follow a temporary fad diet. These diets are often very restrictive and practically impossible to maintain long-term. Aim to have your weight loss be healthy and natural.
  2. Try to include veggies and a lean protein such as eggs, tofu, chicken, fish, or turkey with most meals.
  3. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day and can be counterproductive to weight loss.
  4. Limit your intake of sugary drinks such as soda, juice, Gatorade, vitamin water, sweetened iced teas, etc. They are limited in nutrients and high in sugar and excess calories and can easily contribute to extra weight gain.
  5. Allow yourself to have a treat every once in a while. It will satisfy your craving and help you keep on track with your healthy eating by not depriving you. Telling yourself you can never eat your favorite food (for example- ice cream, french fries, or pasta) anymore can be a way to set yourself up for failure.  

There you have it. I hope you found my tips to get you started with your goals in the new year helpful. Like and comment below…..and if you’re feeling really bold, share what some of your resolutions for 2019 are. 

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

Homemade hot cocoa for Christmas

One of my favorite treats around this time of year is a warm cup of hot cocoa. With Christmas just one day away, I thought I would share this tasty homemade hot cocoa recipe with you so you can enjoy it just in time for the holidays. Whether you live somewhere cold, or are somewhere warm like sunny Southern California, this is a tasty and festive treat for all.

Now let me disclose that this homemade hot cocoa recipe is not healthy or modified in any way to be healthier. Following a healthy balanced diet means sometimes enjoying a treat every once in a while, whether that’s french fries, ice cream, or even hot chocolate. The key is eating these less healthy foods that are higher in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium less often and making sure that when you do have them, you keep your portions in check 😉

This was actually my first time making homemade hot cocoa, as I grew up on the instant packets, but like most foods and beverages, I can attest that homemade is definitely better. The recipe is super simple and only took a few minutes to make.

Creamy Hot Cocoa

Christmas cocoa - Edited

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups of milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half and half cream

Directions:

  1.  Add the cocoa, sugar, and pinch of salt to a saucepan.
  2. Blend in the boiling water and bring the mixture to a boil while you stir (watch to make sure it doesn’t scorch).
  3.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes while stirring.
  4. Add in the milk and heat until very hot but not boiling.
  5. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  6. Divide the cocoa between 4 mugs and add the cream equally between them.
  7. Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles as desired and enjoy.
Plain hot cocoa close up - Edited
Plain Hot Cocoa
Marshmallow hot cocoa - Edited
Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows
Whipped cream hot cocoa - Edited
Hot Cocoa with Whipped Cream

 

Hot cocoa aerial view - Edited
Hot Cocoa with All the Fixings

I hope you enjoy this homemade hot cocoa with your loved ones, and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

A Healthy Spin on the Infamous Egg McMuffin

Have you ever felt guilty after leaving the Mc Donald’s drive through? If so, then you’re not alone. We all have probably been there at some point. Mc Donald’s is quick, convenient, and practically everywhere.

A familiar quick and ready to grab breakfast choice for many Americans is the ever popular Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s. A warm toasted English muffin with a fresh egg, lean Canadian bacon, American cheese, and melted butter…….do I have your mouth watering yet? This classic and tasty breakfast option is simple to make and easy to enjoy.

McDonald’s has a reputation of being notoriously unhealthy, so this week, I’d like to give you some ideas for a healthier spin on the classic Egg McMuffin and how you can make this refreshing breakfast sandwich from home…and best of all, guilt free.

Tip #1 Switch to whole grain

A simple and easy modification that you can make is switching out the white English muffin to a whole wheat one. The whole grain version will offer you more fiber and can help you to stay full longer in between meals. The USDA My Plate model recommends that we make half of our grains whole grains as a part of a healthy diet and to help lower the risk of chronic disease.

Egg Mc Muffin close up - Edited

Tip #2 Add in your favorite veggies

Veggies are an important part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Adding a serving of veggies to most of your meals is a good way to boost your intake of vitamins and minerals, and keep your calories low. You can simply add spinach to your breakfast sandwich or sauté some of your favorite vegetables. I chose to saute mushrooms and bell peppers, but the sky’s the limit.

Open faced Egg Mc Muffin - Edited (1)

Tip #3 Switch out the American cheese

Processed cheese such as American cheese has twice the amount of sodium as natural cheese, and generally contains additional additives and preservatives. Processed cheese also is usually only made up of around 50 percent real cheese. For a healthier choice than American singles, go with a regular cheese (for example regular low fat cheddar) for a more natural option.

Ok, it’s official, now that you have my 3 tips to making a healthier egg McMuffin, you are ready to start enjoying “Mc Donald’s” right from your house. Give it a try and let me know how it goes by commenting on the post below.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Bake like a boss this holiday season

One of my favorite childhood memories at Christmas is making homemade sugar and gingerbread cookies with my mom and sister each year. The house would be filled with this heavenly aroma of sugary sweetness, and my sister and I would get to apply our inner art skills with joy and grace to every cookie we decorated. Not only do you get to create memories that can last a lifetime when doing your holiday baking, you also get to enjoy the deliciousness that each cookie has to offer. The only downside, there’s a reason why Santa’s waistband is so grandiose. You can’t eat copious amounts of cookies without adding a little extra junk to your trunk.

That’s why this weeks post will give you some ideas on how to bake like a boss this holiday season by cutting the calories in your cookies and other baked goods without compromising their taste.

Christmas baking

Tip 1: Better your brownies

Brownies

Try substituting tofu for half of the fat in your brownie recipe. Now I know many people recoil at the word tofu, but tofu has a neutral taste that is overpowered by the delicious chocolate flavor. In fact, a study done at Idaho State University found that 8 in 10 people liked fudge made with tofu in place of butter. Try substituting pureed silken or soft tofu for half of the fat your brownie recipe calls for. This will cut calories and boost the protein and calcium in your brownies.

You can also reduce the amount of sugar in your brownies by ¼ cup by substituting ⅔ cup of  finely grated fresh beet as recommended by pastry chef Marisa Churchill. The beets will add moisture, natural sweetness, and gives you the opportunity to sneak a little veggie into your brownies.

Tip #2: Keep your cookie portions in check

Cookies

Cookies in sleigh

Cookies up close - EditedUse a smaller portion for your cookies. It may be shocking, but most chocolate chip cookies are 7 times larger than what the USDA recommends for a healthy portion. Making your cookies smaller can help keep your portions in check by reminding you of the appropriate cookie size (use 1 tablespoon to measure out your dough).

Cookie dough

You can also try using 1 cup of mini chocolate chips in exchange for 2 cups of regular chocolate chips. This will cut back  1120 calories and 64 grams of fat but still offer chocolate chips in every bite.

Tip #3 General baking substitutions

White Whole Wheat Flour

A few additional substitutions you can try include substituting all purpose flour for white whole wheat flour. You can substitute the entire flour measurement or even just try half, if you’d like to ease yourself in. White whole wheat flour is lighter than regular whole wheat flour and has a taste that is comparable to all purpose flour. It is a healthier choice because it is a whole grain and will give more fiber to your baked goods.

Applesauce

applesauce - Edited

Using applesauce as a substitution for fat is another great option. Cut the butter in your baking recipe by half and substitute the remainder with  unsweetened applesauce. This will cut the total amount of calories and saturated fat in your recipe, but still keep your baked good tasting delicious.

butter and applesauce

Reduce Sugar

The final general substitution you can make is reducing the sugar in the recipe by 25%. You can generally cut down the sugar by this amount without compromising or changing the taste of your dish. For example if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you can try cutting it down to ¾ C instead.  

I hope these baking tips and substitutions have given you some new inspiration and healthier (but still tasty) alternatives to your holiday baking this year. Comment and like below and don’t forget to share what substitutions you try and which ones work best for you.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

All Hail Kale: 4 Ways This Popular Super Food Can Benefit Your Health

Kale has been a popular topic over the past few years, and for good reason. This leafy green vegetable is jam packed with nutrients and has a handful of health benefits.

Unfortunately kale is not always an instant palate pleaser to everyone. You may have tried it before and felt like Loretta Devine on the Carmichael Show who described kale in the following words, “it’s nasty, that tastes like Christmas tree”. Not to worry. In addition to reviewing some of the great health benefits of kale in this week’s post, I’ll also provide some suggestions on different ways you can include kale in your diet in a tasty way.

First let’s run through some of the health benefits of kale so that you will have some motivation to try it (or for some of you, try it again).

  1. Improved Eyesight

Kale contains the following nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin which can protect your eyes from sunlight damage and can lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Kale is also rich in vitamins A, K, C, and the mineral manganese.

  1. Weight Management

One cup of raw kale contains just 8 calories. This nutrient rich low calorie vegetable can be helpful with weight management and glycemic control. Kale is also a good source of fiber which can aid your body in digestion and give you more satiety with your meals.

Protection Against Disease

  1. Antioxidants

Kale is also rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants work to protect our bodies by fighting free radicals that are known to damage cells and cause diseases such as cancer. Carotenoids, vitamin A, and vitamin C are the main antioxidants found in kale that are fighting to protect your body.

  1. Anti-inflammatory

In addition to functioning as antioxidants, some of these valuable vitamins and nutrients found in kale also offer an anti-inflammatory effect (vitamin C and polyphenols), defending the body against inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods may be beneficial in the management of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Tasty Ways to Enjoy Kale

There are many different ways you can enjoy this nutritious vegetable. Here are some examples to help get you started.

Saute kale in a little olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper to taste

  • Mixed in a salad

Eating raw kale will not be appealing to everyone. I therefore suggest using baby kale or lacinato kale due to the softer leaves and milder taste. Additionally, you can try mixing the kale with other greens and lettuce that you are more accustomed to such as spinach or butter lettuce (Do Not eat romaine lettuce right now because of the recall for E.coli) . Due to the bitter flavor of kale, you may also find it helpful to add something sweet to your salad to balance the flavor such as carrots, fresh strawberries, or dried fruit.  

IMG_0084 (1)
Strawberry kale salad

 

  • Cooked in a soup or casserole

Often times non starchy vegetables are limited or completely missing in many soup and casserole dishes. This is a great way to add this healthful green to your favorite dish.

Kale Quiche
Kale and onion quiche
  • Blended in a smoothie

Try adding a few leaves of kale into your favorite fruit smoothie. The natural sweetness of the fruit will help even your kids forget that there is a vegetable in their drink.

Kale Smoothie
Fruit smoothie with kale
  • Baked as kale chips

Toss 1 bunch of chopped kale leaves with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt to taste, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes until the edges of the kale leaves are browned.

Kale chips
Kale chips

There are so many different ways to try and enjoy kale. I hope this week’s post has given you a deeper look into the nutritional value of kale, but more importantly has given you some practical ways to experience the benefits to your health first hand.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess