8 Ideas for a Healthier Easter Basket

Easter is just around the corner, and this week’s post is going to help you build a healthier Easter basket this year. As a major chocolate lover, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you have to eliminate the candy all together. Instead, take some of these suggestions to help build a basket with more balance to show your kids that healthy foods can also be a fun part of the holidays and your lifestyle.

In addition to including yours (or your kid’s) favorite candy, consider adding some of the suggested items below:

Dried Fruit with No Added Sugar

Dried fruit can be a good option, and even something that you can fit inside your plastic Easter eggs. Just be sure to look for dried fruit that has no added sugar because a lot of the dried fruit out there has as much added sugar as a candy bar. See a few examples below.

Annie’s Cheddar Bunny Crackers

My toddler loves these organic cheddar crackers. Their bunny shape will tie perfectly into the Easter theme of your basket. The crackers are made with real cheese and have all natural flavors and colors.

Natural Lollipops with No Added Sugar

We recently bought these for my toddler to enjoy during an international flight. They look just like regular suckers without all of the added sugar and artificial colors. My husband event thought they tasted fine, and he’s definitely a tougher critic on healthy foods than me lol.

Inedible Gift Basket Ideas

I know Easter baskets are typically overflowing with candy, but there are also some great non edible gift basket items you can include.

Books

Depending on the age of your child, you want to make sure you get a book that will be age appropriate. For my two year old, Easter themed books are a great option. Any book that you think your little one will enjoy reading will be perfect. Encouraging more reading can be a great educational way to decrease screen time (time on the phone, computer, TV or playing video games) for your little one.

Activity Book or Coloring Book

Another great option to include in your Easter basket is an age suitable coloring book or activity book for your child.

Games

Including a new game that your family can enjoy playing together is another great candy free Easter gift option (Bananagrams  game pictured below).

Music

Consider adding the new CD of your child’s favorite musical artist or singer. Or if you have a younger kid, look for a CD with fun children sing along songs to listen to in the car. If all else fails, you can always just keep things simple with an Itunes gift card.

Tickets

Give your Easter basket a little something special by including tickets for a fun family outing or activity. You can do something as simple as movie tickets, or even get a little more creative with tickets to the trampoline park, zoo, or aquarium.

I hope this week’s post gave you some new and healthy ideas for your family’s Easter baskets this year. Let me know which options you incorporate and  enjoy the most. Wishing you a happy and healthy Easter.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

6 Tips to Increase Your Water Intake

Water is the best way to quench your thirst without consuming an excess intake of sugar and added calories from popular sugary beverage choices like soda, juice, sweetened teas, sports drinks, aguas frescas, and vitamin water (to name a few). Sugar sweetened beverages are actually the leading source of added sugar in the American diet.

Many research studies have linked sugar sweetened beverages to obesity in both children and adults. Regularly drinking sugar sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, as well as tooth decay and cavities according to the CDC.

Bumping up your water intake and cutting back on sugary drinks can have many positive results including: saving money, lowering extra calorie intake from added sugars, promoting a healthier weight, and helping your muscles and brain stay hydrated for the best mental and physical performance.

Keeping all of that in mind, here are some helpful tips to increase your water intake.

6 Tips to Help Increase Your Water Intake

  1. When you are thirsty, try to drink water. It is the best way to quench your thirst.
  2. Serve water with meals instead of soft drinks.
  3. Cut down your intake of soda, juice, or other sugary drinks. Limit juice to no more than 4 to 6 oz a day.
  4. Fill your water bottle and keep it with you throughout the day.
  5. Use a water tracker app on your smart phone to track your daily water intake and set reminders to reach your water intake goals.
  6. Try infusing your water with lemon, lime, cucumbers, mint leaves, basil, or fresh berries for a little extra flavor.

I hope this week’s post motivates you to cut back on sugary drinks and fall back in love with the simplicity of water. In the words of W.H. Auden, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

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

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

Homemade Healthy Granola

It’s been a few weeks since I shared a recipe and thought it was time to give you guys a new healthy and tasty recipe to try. Granola is a great option for breakfast or a healthy snack. The only problem is most granola you buy at the grocery store has A LOT of ADDED SUGAR!! That kind of defeats the point of a healthy breakfast. So, with this homemade recipe you can cut down on the total sugar while still enjoying whole grains and healthy fats.

In this recipe you can customize your own homemade granola by picking your favorite nuts, grains, and dried fruit. The prep time should only take around 5-7 minutes, plus 30 minutes of baking, so it’s a pretty simple and easy recipe to execute.

Build Your Own Healthy Granola:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite spice
    • Ex- cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or cloves
  • 1 cup raw nuts/seeds
    • Ex-chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of coconut or more oats, quinoa, or nuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
    • Ex- cranberries, raisins, apricots, apple, or pineapple (*Dried fruit usually tends to have a lot of added sugar. To cut down on sugar look for a reduced sugar option of your dried fruit, or look for dried fruit with no added sugar.*)
  • 1 pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of oil
    • Ex-olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of honey or 100% pure maple syrup

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients
  • Spread ingredients onto a baking dish/baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown
Granola dry ingredients - Edited
Dry granola ingredients
Pan of granola - Edited
Granola ready for the oven
Granola up close
Finished granola

If you have diabetes, you can always use less honey or dried fruit for better blood sugar control and be sure to include some protein with your breakfast (for example eggs, peanut butter, or cottage cheese). Also, keep in mind that with granola you don’t need as large of a portion as your typical cereal. A single serving of granola is only ¼ Cup. This serving should be appropriate for a snack. For breakfast, ½ Cup, should be reasonable for most people, but this of course will depend on your individual daily calorie needs.

If you would like to recreate the granola I made that’s pictured in the post, you can find my chosen ingredients below (the combination came out delicious):

  • 4 C old fashioned oats
  • 1 Tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1 C raw chopped almonds
  • ½ C quinoa + ½ C unsweetened coconut flakes ( I added the coconut halfway through the baking process so that it wouldn’t brown too much)
  • ½ C reduced sugar dried cranberries and dried apricots with no added sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ¼ C of canola oil
  • 1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • ¼ C honey

You can try enjoying your granola solo, with milk, over plain unsweetened yogurt, or cottage cheese. I hope you find this week’s recipe as tasty as I did. Be sure to store your granola in an air tight container (I like to use a Mason jar) and it should last 1-2 weeks.

Like and comment below, letting me know how your granola came out. Also be sure to stay tuned for next week’s post that will feature the official launch of The Diet Duchess 7 day meal plans that will be available for sale in the Products 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 inches
    1. Use 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 percentage
    1. Use 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 size
    1. Size 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

Workout wisdom: A dietitian’s guide to healthy eating after workouts

Have you ever wondered what the best thing to eat or drink after a workout is? Have you ever thought ok, now that I’ve spent time at the gym I can go eat some junk food? Maybe you want to choose the right foods for yourself after your workout but just aren’t sure what to eat. Well, today I am going to give you the inside scoop on the three most important things your body needs after a workout.

The foods we eat and drink play an important role in giving our body the energy we need before a workout as well as the nutrition needed for recovery afterwards. Whether you train rigorously as an athlete, or do the occasional workout, this article will give you some helpful tips on what to choose for your post workout nutrition.

The first thing you want to make sure you do is replace fluids lost during exercise…..in other words hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is always a great option for staying hydrated and replacing the fluids you lose during a workout through sweat.

IMG_7240

Replace Fluids Lost

When you are doing a light or moderate exercise session, water alone can meet you re-hydration needs. The average person does not need more than this. Sports drinks such as Gatorade that have carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) are only indicated  for athletes doing vigorous and sustained physical activities lasting 90 minutes or more.

If you are exercising for general health and/or to lose weight or you are exercising for an hour or less sports drinks are not an appropriate option for you. In addition they are not a good choice as a day to day beverage because they provide an unneeded amount of sugar and sodium.

Consume Carbohydrates and Quality Protein

Glycogen is the energy stored in your muscles to help fuel your workouts. When you exercise, these stores are used and eventually depleted. Carbohydrates are therefore needed after a workout to help replenish the glycogen that was used. Some examples of carbohydrates include fruit, grains such as bread, rice, cereal, pasta, and milk.  

In addition to carbohydrates, you also want to consume a quality protein source to help repair and build muscle tissue after your workouts. Examples of a quality protein include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and soy. For adults, 10 to 35% of your daily calories should be made up of protein. After a workout, protein needs can be met by using the equation of 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight = your post workout protein needs

*Athletes and people at extreme ends of the weight spectrum may not fit this equation*

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert it into kilograms (150 lbs divided by 2.2 = 68.2 kilograms). Then multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.3 grams of protein to get the total grams of protein you need for your post workout recovery meal (68.2 kg x 0.3 grams of protein = 20 grams of protein).

Most people are able to get their protein needs from diet alone, but protein powders can be a good alternative when you aren’t able to prepare a balanced meal or snack after your workout.

IMG_7217

To help get you started, here are some ideas on what to eat after a workout.

Post workout nutrition examples:

  • Plain yogurt or low fat cottage cheese with berries
  • 1 cup of chocolate milk
  • A turkey or tuna sandwich wrap made with a whole wheat tortilla, cucumber, spinach, and tomato
  • A smoothie recovery shake made with low fat milk and frozen berries
  • Black bean, tofu, and vegetable chili with a slice of cornbread
  • Stir fry chicken with mixed vegetables and brown rice
Workout Recovery
Chocolate Milk

 

 

Vegetarian Chili and Cornbread
Vegetarian Chili with Cornbread

Timing Is Key

Try to get your post recovery nutrition, whether it is a meal or snack within 2 hours of your workout. If your goal is to build muscle and increase lean muscle mass, aim to have your post workout meal as soon as possible due to current studies suggesting protein consumption for the purpose of increasing muscle mass is greatest immediately after your workout. Keep in mind that higher intake of protein after workouts, for example, greater than 40 grams of dietary protein have not yet been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis.

The next time you workout, remember the three most important things you need afterwards: fluids (water), carbohydrates, and protein. Over the next week, I challenge you to try at least one of my post workout nutrition meals or snacks. Comment below and let me know which ones work best for you.

Until next week.

Royally Yours,

The Diet Duchess

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

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