Healthy Homemade Spaghetti Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Marinara Sauce:
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed
tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato
paste
4 tablespoons chopped
fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black
pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup white wine

PREP TIME: 15-20 MINS
COOK TIME: 30-45 MINS
READY IN: 45-60 MINS

DIRECTIONS

1. In a food processor place Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
*Use less salt if you have high blood pressure for a healthier option.*Substitute salt free seasoning (for example Mrs. DASH) as desired.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat saute
the finely chopped onion in olive oil for 2
minutes (at this time you can add additional vegetables as desired, for example- bell peppers, mushrooms, celery). Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine.

3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring
occasionally.

4. In another pot (while sauce is cooking),
bring water to boil. Add spaghetti noodles
(use at least half whole wheat noodles for
more fiber) and cook for 6-8 minutes or
desired tenderness. Drain noodles and serve with homemade spaghetti sauce.

5. Spiralize zucchini and substitute for pasta for a lower carb option and better blood sugar control. Serve salad with spaghetti. Half of your plate should be vegetables.

6. Cook additional meat (for example-lean ground turkey) as desired and add
to the final spaghetti.

3 Keys To A Healthy Heart This Valentine’s Day: Key 3- Dark Chocolate Delight

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s officially here, the special holiday of celebrating the ones you love. Whether you’re planning to eat chocolate yourself or will be buying it for someone special, today’s final key to a healthy heart will speak to the health benefits found in dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids that are derived from the cocoa bean. Antioxidants protect the body by working to fight substances called free radicals whose main job is to damage healthy cells. Choose dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa to reap more of these antioxidant benefits.

There are some studies that suggest small portions of dark chocolate can support heart health and the health of your blood vessels. Flavanols in dark chocolate can increase nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and insulin sensitivity and lowers blood pressure.

Choosing dark chocolate and eating modest quantities can offer the best health benefits. Aim to pick 60-70% dark chocolate and limit your maximum portion to 1 oz per day (daily consumption of chocolate may not fit into a healthy eating plan for diabetes or kidney disease. Consult with your doctor and Registered Dietitian for an individualized recommendation if you have either of these conditions). Be careful not to overindulge in your chocolate intake because dark chocolate is high in calories and can contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.

To close, I’ll leave you with the memorable words of Charles M. Schulz, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

3 Keys To A Healthy Heart This Valentine’s Day: Key 2- Eat Healthy Fats

Dietary fat has this notoriously bad reputation. You hear the word fat and automatically think any food with fat is unhealthy or will make you gain weight. The shocking truth however is that fat is actually an important part of a healthy and balanced diet.

The second key to keeping your heart healthy is to include healthy fats in your diet. So which fats are considered the healthy ones? Fats that are rich in omega 3s and unsaturated fats can help raise your good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) and increase your protection from heart attack and stroke. Check out the examples below.

Omega 3 Fats:

  • Fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, lake trout, and Atlantic or Pacific mackerel
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hemp seeds

Monounsaturated fats:

  • Vegetable oils such as olive, grape seed oil, canola, and avocado oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts (stick to 1oz portion sizes and aim for unsalted)
  • Avocados

Including healthy fats in your lifestyle will also help you to have more satiety with your meals which can promote portion control and help prevent overeating.

Now that you know some healthier sources of dietary fat, swap them out for some of the less healthy ones (for example butter, lard, bacon, heavy cream, sausage, and processed meats).

This Valentine’s Day, give yourself and your loved ones the gift of a healthy heart. Keep an eye out for the next post that will feature the third and final key to a healthy heart.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

3 Keys To A Healthy Heart This Valentine’s Day: Key 1-Cut Back On Salt

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s only fitting to share some helpful tips on how to keep your heart healthy this month and throughout your lifetime. One of the key principles to a heart healthy diet is lowering your salt intake.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. When you eat too much salt in your diet, the extra water stored in your body can raise your blood pressure and put extra strain on your heart. Ninety percent of Americans are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes. So even if you don’t have high blood pressure now, it’s important to make preventative steps to avoid it in the future.

The salty 6, are the foods that most commonly add the most salt to the diet. These include: pizza, soup, cold cuts and cured meats, poultry, breads and rolls, and sandwiches. Other foods that typically have a lot of salt include frozen dinners, canned vegetables, instant or boxed meals, as well as processed and convenience foods. Read the nutrition label (low sodium is defined as 140mg or less per serving) and prepare foods from scratch at home to help limit your salt intake.

Bring flavor to your food without the excess salt. Try seasoning your food with natural herbs and spices, lemon, garlic, ginger, vinegar, and pepper (lemon pepper is not a good choice as it has a lot of salt), or try a salt free seasoning blend like Mrs.Dash or Lawry’s Salt Free 17.

This Valentine’s Day, give yourself and your loved ones the gift of a healthy heart. Keep an eye out for the next post that will feature the second key to a healthy heart.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Detox Diets Demystified: 6 Ways to Naturally Detox

Detox diets are an ever popular topic, especially this time of year as New Year’s resolutions abound. The general idea of detoxification is the process of removing toxins from the body.

There are two types of toxins that the body can be exposed to. First, are the toxins that are made in the body during metabolism (examples include urea and lactic acid). Second are external toxins which can be introduced into the body through eating, drinking, breathing, and absorption through the skin. Some examples of external toxins include pesticides, alcohol, mercury from certain seafood, chemicals in tobacco products, drugs, and lead from car exhaust and air pollution.

Detox diets and cleanses are usually pretty restrictive and limited to only a handful of items you can consume. The great thing is your body is already equipped with its own natural detoxification system.

Listed below are 6 simple ways to support your body’s natural detoxification process:

6 Ways to Naturally Detox

1. Stay hydrated with water

2. Eat 5 to 9 servings of vegetables and fruit per day

3. Eat dietary fiber daily from whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit to maintain regular bowel function.

4. Include cruciferous vegetables and other foods that support the body’s detoxification processes. Examples include: broccoli, onion, artichokes, garlic, green tea, leeks, berries, and Brussels sprouts.

5. Eat adequate amounts of lean protein which is important in maintaining optimum levels of the enzyme glutathione which plays a key role in the body’s detoxification process. Some examples of lean protein include: fish, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, tofu, eggs, and nut butters.

6. Consider taking a multivitamin/multi mineral to fill in the gaps of a healthy diet as certain vitamins and minerals help enable the body’s detoxification pathways.

Finally, help your body detox by limiting processed foods and sugar. Ultimately the best detox is an overall healthy diet and eating plan.

I hope this week’s post encourages you to find a more natural way to detox in 2020.

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

Day-After-Thanksgiving Salad Recipe

If you still have some Thanksgiving left overs and are looking for a recipe that’s a little on the lighter side, this day-after-Thanksgiving recipe is perfect. You can use your holiday left overs to make a leaner meal post holiday splurge. The salad will utilize some of your favorite Thanksgiving flavors without overdoing it in the calorie department.

Day-After- Thanksgiving Salad Recipe

Servings: 2 meal-sized salads

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons leftover cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon water to thin (if necessary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 6 ounces (1 to 1 1/2 cups) leftover turkey, diced or shredded
  • 4 cups mixed greens (lettuce, baby kale, spinach)
  • 1 cup leftover prepared vegetables (sweet potatoesbrussels sproutsgreen beans or a combination)
  • 1 medium apple or firm-fleshed pear, diced
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Directions

  1. Add all dressing ingredients — except for water, salt and pepper — to a blender. Blend until smooth, adding water a little bit at a time, if necessary, to make smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  2. Toss turkey, greens, vegetables, fruit and pepitas together in a large bowl.
  3. To serve, divide into 2 servings and drizzle each salad with 2 tablespoons of dressing (you will have dressing left over). Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 450
  • Total fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 60 mg
  • Sodium: 270 mg (does not include added salt)
  • Total carbohydrate: 30 g
  • Dietary fiber: 7 g
  • Sugars: 12 g
  • Protein: 37 g

Note: Nutrition information will vary depending on the mix of left over vegetables included in the salad.

Healthy holiday hacks: 5 tips to eat healthy this holiday season

The holidays are a joyous time of year filled with family gatherings, annual traditions, and let’s not forget the fabulous food!! I myself get excited every time the holidays roll around each year. 

Another less fortunate trend of the holiday season is found in expanding waistlines. The Calorie Control Council estimates the average holiday meal has 3,000 calories, and this is without even including the additional calories consumed in appetizers and drinks. On average Americans experience 1 to 2 pounds of uninvited weight gain during the holidays. That amount may seem pretty insignificant but when you have an extra pound or two creeping on each year and compounding year after year, before you know it you’re ten pounds heavier and can no longer fit into your favorite pair of jeans.

Not to worry, this week’s post will give you a few simple tips to keep you on track with your healthy eating during the holidays and still allow you to enjoy a little pie.

Holiday tip # 1 Don’t skip breakfast

I myself have been guilty of skipping breakfast on Thanksgiving in the past. I used to think that since I knew I would be eating a large feast later in the day I should skip my food intake in the morning. What can actually happen when we skip or miss meals though, is we end up overeating later on. Research even shows that people who eat breakfast actually eat fewer calories throughout the day. Therefore an easy way to reduce the amount of calories you eat at Thanksgiving is by making sure you include breakfast. It truly is important and can set the tone for your whole day. Eating breakfast has also been found to be a common denominator of people who have been able to successfully maintain their weight loss.

Holiday tip # 2 Downsize the carbs

Holiday feasts are usually full of carbs galore with everything from mashed potatoes, dressing, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, bread rolls, and macaroni and cheese to name a few. No wonder it’s easy to overdo it in the carbs department. Carbohydrates are not bad, it’s just when we eat them in excess that things become problematic. Aim to limit your portion of carbs and starches to just 1/4 of your plate. This will help you to get a more balanced meal and allow more room on your plate for non starchy vegetables. Try adding some of these tasty veggie dishes to your holiday spread:

Holiday tip # 3 Include activity in your family celebration

To help balance out some of the extra calories you’re bound to consume during the holiday season, make an effort to do something active the day of your family get together. You can try going for a morning hike, playing an afternoon game of football, or even have a dance battle on Nintendo Wii. The most important thing is to find a physical activity that you and your family can enjoy together.

Holiday tip # 4 Take leftovers to go

Remember that there are always ample leftovers at Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have heaping portions, or even a bite of every dish the day of. Stick to modest portion sizes knowing that you can have more at a later meal or even later on in the week.

Holiday tip # 5 Be mindful of your portions

Portions have drastically increased over the years which has contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Cut back on your portions to lower your overall calorie intake. Even a small sliver of pie can satisfy your craving for holiday sweets. Eat slowly and savor your bites so that you can enjoy the fall flavors of your meal. Choosing a smaller plate can also help you keep your portions in check.

Hopefully these 5 tips for healthy eating during the holidays help you to finish your holiday guilt free and thankful for finding the right balance in the most indulgent meal of the year.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

5 Ways to Lower Cancer Risk Through Diet and Lifestyle

Cancer is an all too common and devastating disease that affects millions of people each year. Chances are you know someone that has had cancer, or even you yourself have battled the disease. There are various factors that can increase your risk for cancer. Diet, physical activity, and body weight for example are significant risk factors for developing certain types of cancer.

The five following diet and lifestyle guidelines are recommended by the American Cancer Society to help fight your risk for cancer.

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity increases the risk for at least seven types of cancer including: colorectal, kidney, pancreatic, postmenopausal breast, endometrial, gallbladder, and a common variety of esophageal cancer called adenocarcinoma. Maintaining a healthy weight can be achieved by regular physical activity and following a healthy balanced diet. Even losing a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.

2. Limit Alcohol

It is recommended to drink no more than one drink a day for women and two per day for men.

3. Eat Fruits and Vegetables Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body’s cells from oxidative damage. The AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research) recommends eating 5 servings of non starchy vegetables and fruit per day. Examples of a serving = 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or a medium apple.

4. Eat Whole Grains and Beans

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans provide the body with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which can help the body to fight against cancer and other diseases. Phytochemicals have the ability to stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage that can lead to cancer, and slow the growth rate of cancer cells.

5. Limit Red and Processed Meats

Processed meats are linked to increased cancer risk. Processed meat is meat that has been salted, cured, smoked, or has chemical preservatives added to it. Examples of processed meats include: hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and corned beef. Because of their association with increased cancer risk, it is recommended to limit your intake of processed and red meats.

There you have it, the five diet and lifestyle related ways to lower your risk for cancer. It’s never too early to start taking steps to fight this disease.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

How to Make a Healthier Homemade Pumpkin Bread

One of my favorite parts of the fall is all things pumpkin. I love going to the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, roasting pumpkin seeds, and of course savoring all pumpkin flavored foods. Everything from pumpkin pie, to pumpkin ice cream, and pumpkin soup…..the list goes on and on.

One of my newfound fall favorites over the past couple years has been making homemade pumpkin bread. Pumpkins are rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins.

I modified the following low fat pumpkin bread recipe by Skinnytaste to include half white whole wheat flour and I reduced the added sugar by 1/3. These changes allowed the bread to be 50% whole grain and cut down the extra calories from added sugar (don’t worry the bread still tastes sweet enough). See the recipe below.

Homemade Low Fat Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C pumpkin puree, homemade or canned
  • 1 1/4 C flour (for a healthier spin, I recommend doing half white whole wheat flour and half white all purpose flour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (to reduce the sugar content, I recommend using just 1/2 C)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
  • baking spray

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with baking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix oil, egg whites, pumpkin puree and vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick.
  • Scrape down sides of the bowl.
  • Add flour mixture, then blend at low speed until combined. Do not over mix.
  • Pour batter into loaf pan and bake on the center rack for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let the pan cool at least 20 minutes, bread should be room temperature before slicing.

I hope you enjoy this fall favorite of mine with a healthier approach. Let me know how you enjoy the recipe by liking and commenting below.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess