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

The 50 Percent Rule: An Easy Way to Make Every Meal Healthier

There are many great tools available that make healthy eating and weight loss more manageable. Calorie counting apps, measuring cups, and activity trackers are some great examples. While each tool or method may not be a perfect fit for everyone, there is one simple strategy that you can use anyplace anytime. The 50 percent rule is where you aim to fill up half of your plate with veggies.

The 50 percent rule is easier than counting calories, because you don’t have to worry about the exact number of calories or macro nutrients you’re consuming. Instead you bring more balance to your meals by upping your intake of healthier, more nutrient dense foods.

Most people know or believe that vegetables are good for you. There are many health benefits that go along with eating a diet rich in veggies. Vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Dietary fiber can help with lowering cholesterol and is linked to lower rates of obesity and heart disease. Fiber can also give you more fullness (satiety) with your meals which can be helpful with portion control and overeating. Studies have also found that higher intake of dark leafy green vegetables lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet for cancer protection. Not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are the two most important things you can do to lower your risk of cancer and eating more vegetables in your diet is a great way to help maintain a healthy weight.

Not all vegetables are created equal. They each provide different nutrients, so variety is key. Aim to fill up half of your plate with non starchy vegetables. Grains or starchier vegetables like corn, potatoes, and peas should instead comprise a smaller portion of your plate, just 25%, while the remaining 25% of your plate should be protein.

Non starchy vegetables

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Jicama
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts

This week I challenge you to put the 50% rule to practice. All you need to do is literally eyeball your plate and make sure that half of it is covered with non starchy veggies. If you don’t eat a lot of vegetables normally, you can ease your way in by just applying the 50% rule to one meal a day. Be bold and adventurous by trying new vegetables and recipes that you haven’t before. Until next time.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Tasty Snack Ideas

I’m hoping you enjoyed last week’s healthy snack recipe: BBQ Roasted Chickpeas. This week, I wanted to continue with the same theme and provide some additional healthy snack options for you to try.

My biggest tip for choosing healthy snacks is to think of snacks as mini meals and focus on choosing foods rich in nutrition.

The table below lists a table of different snack options. The snacks are broken down into three categories: fruit, veggies, and grains, depending on which food group you are wanting to emphasize.

Healthy Snack Ideas

Fruits

Veggies

Grains

String cheese and 1 small fruit

Tomatoes, bell peppers, and snap peas with hummus

Slice of whole grain toast with spread avocado

Apple and peanut butter

“Ants on a log”- celery with peanut butter and raisins

Mini quesadilla: 6 inch whole corn tortilla, low fat cheese, and salsa

Cottage cheese and fresh berries

Carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower with Ranch dressing

½ Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with spinach and tomato

Low fat yogurt with fruit and low fat granola

Whole wheat tortilla melt with low fat cheese and veggies

1 ounce of low fat cheese with whole grain crackers

Fruit smoothie made with frozen berries, low fat milk, and ice

1 Cup of low sodium vegetable or tomato soup with whole grain crackers

Homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, whole grain pretzels, and low sugar dry cereal

½ Banana with peanut butter

Microwave a small baked potato and top with low fat cheese and salsa

1/2 Peanut butter or nut butter sandwich

 

Fresh fruit kebabs

Mini “pizza”: ½ Whole wheat English muffin topped  marinara sauce, low fat cheese, and veggies

1 Cup of low fat popcorn sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese

½ Whole wheat bagel with low fat cream cheese and strawberry slices

Mini whole wheat pita bread spread with hummus and topped with your choice of vegetables

Pita chips and hummus

If you’re like me and have a sweet tooth every once and a while, below are a couple of healthier “sweet treats” you can try.

  • Rocky road: Break up a graham cracker and add to low fat chocolate pudding, top with a few mini marshmallows
  • Fill a waffle cone with cut up fruit and low fat vanilla yogurt

I hope I’ve given you a few new healthy snacks to try over the upcoming weekend. Let me know which healthy snacks you enjoy the most by commenting and liking below.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Keto Craze: 5 Things You Should Know About The Popular Ketogenic Diet

Would you like to be able to lose weight and still be able to eat things like butter, bacon, meat, cheese, and heavy cream? It may sound crazy, but there is actually a diet out there where you can freely eat those foods and still lose weight. The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is one of the most currently talked about diets.This weeks post will give you a little insight into this diet to help you decide whether or not it is the right fit for you.  

 

1. The keto diet has been around for almost a century

Many of you have probably heard about the ketogenic diet as a popular new approach for weight loss. Even though this diet has grown in trendiness and buzz over the past few years, the ketogenic diet has actually been around for decades, initially being introduced back in 1920.

2. The keto diet is used for the management of epilepsy

One of the medical applications of the ketogenic diet is as nutrition therapy for the management of epilepsy. Seizure control has been shown to improve after 2 to 3 days of fasting and the ketogenic diet offers an approach that yields the effects of starvation in the body without causing malnutrition.

3.  On the keto diet your body burns fat for energy

Carbohydrates traditionally function as the body’s main source of energy. On the ketogenic diet however because your intake of carbohydrates is so low (typically less than 20 grams per day) your body is forced to use fat instead (in the form of ketone bodies) as its main energy source. The keto diet typically aims to provide anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of total calories from fat, 6 to 15 percent from protein, and 2 to 10 percent from carbohydrate depending on which  ketogenic diet ratio is being followed (for example, 4 grams of calories from fat to every 1 gram of calories from carbohydrate and protein combined (4:1 ratio), versus the 3:1 and 2:1 ratios).

Ketogenic Diet

Starchy vegetables and sweeter vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas, and carrots (to name a few), are not allowed on the diet in order to successfully keep the carbohydrate intake low enough to induce ketosis. You can also say goodbye to other tasty carbohydrate rich foods like pasta, bread, fruit, cereal, rice, ice cream, and chocolate. One of the drawbacks of restrictive diets that cut out entire food groups, is that when you cut out those specific groups of foods, you’re also losing out on the healthy nutrients they provide. Fruits and whole grains for example, which are not allowed on the keto diet, are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.

 

4. The keto diet is high in saturated fat

One of the primary concerns of dietitians, nutritionists, and other health professionals when it comes to the keto diet is whether or not the higher intake of fat will negatively affect cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health. Saturated and trans fats are known to increase your bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol) which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Saturated fats are primarily found in meats and high fat animal and dairy products, which as we discussed earlier many of those foods can be eaten in large quantities on the keto diet.

After looking into some of the research on the ketogenic diet’s effect on cholesterol levels I found mixed reviews.  If you decide to give the keto diet a try, my personal recommendation would be to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels, especially if you already have a history of hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). Also aim to choose more heart healthy unsaturated sources of fat, such as avocados, walnuts, almonds, and olive oil.

5. The Ketogenic diet can help suppress your appetite

One of the positive side effects of the keto diet, is having a decreased appetite which can be a helpful factor in weight loss success. Lower appetite is achieved with the higher fat and moderate protein content of the keto diet which offers more satiety (fullness) with meals. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when the body was in ketosis, there was a decrease in the body’s hunger hormone ghrelin and an increase in the hormone leptin which tells our bodies when we are full. These hormonal changes can make it easier for you to avoid overeating and promote weight loss.

Is it possible to lose weight on the keto diet? Yes it is. Research shows it is possible, and I personally know people who have. I think the real question is, will the keto diet be a practical longer term solution for you? Will you be able to cut out major carbohydrate players like fruit, bread, pasta, rice, cereal, ice cream, and chocolate? If like me, your answer to this is no, then this diet is probably not a practical long term approach for you and could potentially just lead you back on the path of yo-yo dieting.

It is always important to consult your physician prior to beginning any new diet or exercise program and it’s wise to remember that we all have different medical histories to consider when determining which diet and lifestyle approach is best for you. I hope this week’s post gave you a little more understanding of the ketogenic diet. Stay tuned for next week’s post with more diet and fitness tips to help you Royally Rock Your Diet.

Royally yours, 

The Diet Duchess

Meal Prep Mastery: 5 Easy Steps to Plan Healthier Meals

Imagine, it’s the middle of the work week and you are completely spent after a long and tiring day at work. All you want to do is relax at home but you still have a laundry list of things to do including picking up your kids and figuring out what to do for dinner. You want to have something healthy, but you can’t bring yourself to cook a homemade meal after the day you’ve had. So, because of the convenience and your physical exhaustion, you decide to hit up the drive through of a fast food restaurant……..does any of this sound familiar? We’ve all been there at some point. Let’s be real, it’s hard to work a full day and then still have the energy to come home and put together a healthy dinner. So more often than not, convenience wins out.

One of the best ways to eat healthy and save money and time throughout the week is with meal prepping. Meal planning and prep involves preparing food up to 3-4 days in advance. The beauty of this strategy is that when you come home exhausted from work, you already have a healthy dinner that’s either fully or almost completely prepared. On average it is almost 5 times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than it is to cook at home.

Another benefit of cooking at home is you can control how much salt, sugar, and fat is being added to your food, which is something we have little control over when eating out. This is especially helpful for pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  

To help get you started, here are five easy tips to help you become a master of meal prep.

1. Choose recipes or meals that you want to have throughout the week

You can further save money and stay within your budget by trying to plan meals or recipes around ingredients you already have at home. Start with simple dishes that are easy to cook to further simplify the process. For recipe ideas you can check out some of the recipes on The Diet Duchess Pinterest page.

   2. Create a grocery list

Make a list of the grocery items you need for your chosen dishes and recipes. Having focus and a grocery list can help you choose healthier options when going to the grocery store, will limit impulse buys, and can help keep you in budget financially.

3. Pick a day to prepare meals

Ideally you want to choose a day that you don’t have to work and can dedicate some time in the kitchen preparing and cooking your food for the week.

4. Multi-task with meal prep

Cooking multiple dishes at a time on your meal prep day can help reduce the overall amount of time you need to spend cooking. For example- something can be cooking in the crock pot, while another dish bakes in the oven, and you assemble and pack salads or cold lunches for the week. The more prep you accomplish on your meal prep day, the less work you will need to do throughout the week.

5. Wash, cut, and prepare fruits and vegetables

Have fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables ready to enjoy as a snack or add to one of your meals for a boost of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To save further time, you can even buy produce that is already washed, cut, and ready to cook or eat. Line containers with paper towels to absorb moisture and help prevent fresh fruits and veggies from spoiling sooner.

Another option that you have at your disposal is to use one of The Diet Duchess 7 day meal plans that are officially being launched today. They can be found in the Products section of the website. Meal plans are $29.99 and can simplify your meal prep even further by already having healthy meals and recipes selected for you. The meal plans have different calorie levels so that you can choose the calorie level best fit for you for either weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. The meal plans are also suitable for people with diabetes. 

To determine what calorie level is best for you, visit the following calorie calculator from the American Council of Exercise. It will take into account your age, gender, height, weight, and physical activity level. The calculator will estimate how many calories you need daily to maintain your weight. If your goal is to lose weight, you can either:

  • Option 1: subtract 500 calories from this daily amount (this will allow you to achieve 1 pound of weight loss per week)

or

  •  Option 2: subtract 1000 calories from this daily amount (this will allow you to achieve 2 pounds of weight loss per week)

Healthy, natural weight loss is right around 1-2 pounds a week so I would not suggest subtracting more calories than suggested above. Eating too little calories can also be an inhibitor to weight loss.

I hope you enjoy The Diet Duchess 7 day meal plans and that they get you one step closer to Royally Rocking Your Diet. If you have any questions about them or have questions about what calorie level to choose, feel free to shoot me an email in the Contact section of the website.

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

Weight Worry: Who’s Really Benefiting from Regular Weigh-ins?

Let’s face it, one of the most notoriously dreaded parts of tracking weight loss progress for many people is stepping onto the scale. It’s a truth tell all moment where you get to see if all your hard work to lose weight is starting to pay off. I’ve had so many clients report in my office that they’re weighing themselves daily or even multiple times a day in the hope that they will see their weight moving in the downward progression. The real question though is, how often should we be weighing ourselves?

Don’t panic if you step on the scale twice in one day and notice the numbers don’t match

The first most important truth to realize is that our weight changes throughout the day. We do not weigh the same in the morning as we do later on in the day. There are many things that affect the number on the scale as the day progresses such as the foods we eat and our hydration status (for example, how much water or fluids we are drinking and whether or not we have recently gone to the bathroom or lost fluids through sweat). So don’t panic if you step on the scale twice in one day and notice the numbers don’t match.

Not all scales are created

Another important truth to realize is that not all scales are created equal. You can weigh something completely different at the doctor’s office than you do at home. Your best bet is to track your progress on the same scale for better accuracy. Additionally you want to avoid weighing yourself on carpet because it can give you an incorrect reading. Always make sure your scale is on a flat hard surface and that your weight is evenly distributed.  My general rule of thumb and recommendation is to check your weight once a week. Aim to check your weight the same day of the week, at the same time (in the morning when you first wake up after using the bathroom is best), and try to wear the same clothing (if any at all). Following these guidelines can help give  you a more accurate picture of what your weight is and which way it is trending.

Now you may be thinking, let’s just avoid the scale completely. I never want to weigh myself again! Before you make that decision, it’s important to know what some of the research says. A study done by the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2012 found that people who lost weight were more likely to keep it off if they weighed themselves regularly. In addition the National Weight Loss Registry found that 75 percent of people who lost weight and successfully kept it off were weighing themselves at least once a week. Using the scale as a tool for weight loss and weight management therefore has the ability to help keep you on track.

Say goodbye to scale anxiety

There may be a group of us though that have had some negative experiences with stepping on the scale and may actually have serious anxiety at the thought of even doing it. If you fall into this category, and the number on the scale has the ability to drastically change your mood or the way you feel about yourself, then consistent weigh-ins may not be your friend and can potentially cause more harm than good. I myself fell into this category and gave up routine weight checks years ago. Instead I keep my focus on staying active, eating right, and the way I feel. It’s important to remember that the number on the scale is just that, a number. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t define who you are.

Alternatives to stepping on the scale

If you decide that routine trips to the scale aren’t for you but you want other methods to track your progress, I have a couple of suggestions for you:

  1. Measure your weight loss in inchesUse a measuring tape to track the inches you lose (for example measure your waistline, chest, hips, thighs, and arms and re-measure every three to four weeks to track your progress )
  2. Track your body fat percentageUse a handheld body fat analyzer to observe the trend of your weight loss and fitness level through your body fat percentage. Many body fat analyzers can be bought online for under forty dollars.
  3. Monitor your weight loss by clothing sizeSize unfortunately is not standardized, so I would recommend picking one brand of clothing that you already wear and celebrate when you achieve the victory of making it down to a smaller size.

I hope this week’s post answered some of your questions on weigh ins and weight loss, and how often (if at all for some of us) we should be stepping up onto that scale.  I encourage you to consider yourself and whether or not a weekly weigh-in or one of the alternatives I suggested will be the most productive tool for you in your weight loss and weight management journey. Make the decision and start implementing whatever is going to work best for you.

Until next week,

The Diet Duchess