Tag Archives: granola bars

Spring Sports & Nutrition Month!

The daffodils are beginning to bloom and trees about to bud here in Atlanta. 
Spring arrives mid-March, right after St. Patrick’s Day. 
Green is a good thing. Even if it’s not a four leaf clover. 

But the whole month is a celebration for eating right because March is  National Nutrition Month!!!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics serves up heaping helpings of advice on food, nutrition and cuisine. This year’s theme is Eat Your Way, Every Day!

It’s all about you!

A personalized approach to nutrition advice is the most successful plan. Take snacking, for instance.
Snacking between meals, whether it’s mid-morining or mid-afternoon is a way of life in the USA. As dietitians we like to say, “Make your snack count!” Choose healthy snacks that serve up good taste and good nutrition.

A lot of families are ramping up their snack attack because Spring sports are starting!

He’s safe! Because his parents packed  healthy snacks in his sports bag. 

If your kids need to snack after school on their way to sports practice or after practice to tide them over  until dinner – then you might need a bit of coaching to help choose the healthiest snacks.

Snacks can help fill in nutrient gaps when you choose foods rich in calcium, fiber, potassium and vitamin A.
That’s easy if you like granola bars with a carton of milk. Or baby carrots in a plastic bag to go.

I’m thrilled to be working with Sunbelt Bakery to get the good word out on healthy snacking for families. The best news is that the right snack can not only be good for you – it tastes good and is ready to be on the go with your busy schedule. The granola bars in the photo below are one of my faves- chocolate chip! At only 140 calories each, they’re just the right portion size too. Their whole grain goodness comes from whole grain oats. Pair with a cup of low fat or fat free milk and you’ll add 8 grams of high quality protein to your snack break, too.

Meanwhile, back at Spring training…….kids are on the move and need fuel and fluids to keep them going.  Water is great of course but  fruits and vegetables provide good hydration, too.

Think of snacks as mini-meals with what I call a “Tasty Snack Trio” including:

Protein foods (cheese, milk, yogurt, hard boiled egg, slice of turkey or ham)
Whole Grain foods (whole wheat crackers, granola cereal on yogurt, granola bars )
Garden foods ( fruits, vegetables) TIP: always cut up fruit so it’s easier to eat. Apple slices will disappear while the whole apple may go uneaten. I love those pre-cut carrot chips in the supermarket produce section too!

Carrot chips and a 1/4 cup portion of hummus is perfect on the go sports snack for kids.
Tasty Snack Trio: protein in hummus, whole grain crackers and veggies.

So how much is enough for a snack? Well, it depends on the age of the child and how active they are. Generally, I like to recommend about 150 calories for snack occasion. That places granola bars right in the sweet spot! Add a handful of grapes or easy-to-peel clementine orange ( which are in season right now! ) and you’re good to go.  Game on!

Healthy snacks help kids win by fueling their bodies with good nutrition and energy they need.

Portable Nutrition 
Dietitians and Moms, Liz and Janice have lots of sporty ideas for good nutrition!

Meals on the Move is the name of the game for smart snacking for game or practice for the Meal Makeover Moms- registered dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Bissex. 
They Say:
       Get kids hydrated before they head out the door by whipping up a naturally delicious fruit smoothie. Blend together 100% fruit juice, fresh and/or frozen fruit, and low-fat yogurt. For added protein, opt for Greek yogurt.

       On-the-go snacks can include:

     Homemade trail mix with granola cereal, nuts, whole grain pretzels, dried fruit, and  maybe a few dark chocolate chips tossed in!l
   
      Low-fat cheese sticks, squeeze yogurts (go for Greek squeeze yogurts for more protein), mini fruit cups packed in juice or applesauce, hummus with pretzels or baby carrots for dipping, popcorn (it’s a whole grain!)

       Pack along a homemade “sport” drink by combining your child’s favorite fruit juice with water and a few ice cubes.

Note on sports drinks: Make sure to read the nutrition facts label. They can contain just as many calories as a soft drink. They are not for guzzling. One cup ( 8 ounces ) is enough to replace electrolytes in young athletes who are practicing or competing rigorously. Still thirsty? Drink some more water.  Carolyn O’Neil 


The Home Team 
Make ahead to makeover easy sports night dinners!

Having meals at the ready when you get home from a practice or game is ideal when both parents are at the side line … and not minding the kitchen stove.  Fast ideas from Liz and Janice, The Meal Makeover Moms include …
       Omelet made with sauteed veggies and low-fat cheese. Eggs are rich in protein and cook up in minutes.
       Slow cooker: Load the slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready when you get home!
       Keep a well stocked pantry to make quick-assembly meals possible. One of our favorite fast meals – Drain and rinse a can of black beans, thaw some frozen corn kernels, chop up some leftover roasted chicken, and you’ve got the makings of a quesadilla. Top a flour tortilla with beans, corn, leftover chicken, shredded low-fat cheese, and BBQ sauce, fold in half, heat some canola oil in a skillet, and sautee  about three minutes per side.

Liz Weiss, MS, RD and Janice Bissex, MS, RD are the dietitian duo behind the popular website,MealMakeoverMoms.com and authors of, No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (M3 Press, 2011)

What about Dessert Mom?!

Crunchy Granola Fruit Bake is an EZ dessert for a busy school plus sports night. Place frozen blueberries ( you can use fresh but frozen are nutritious and ready when you are) in a baking dish, top with Sunbelt granola cereal and bake for 20 minutes. Top with frozen yogurt.  Yum!


Go Team!

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Splurge a Little

Want to know the best way to “cheat” on your diet?  The secret is realizing that cheating is OK because everyone needs a little splurge every once in a while.


Nobody’s perfect and that’s especially true when it comes to eating a healthy well balanced diet.

Nutrition experts say you have to plan for occasional splurges as part of the long-term plan. Atlanta personal fitness trainer, Beth Lewis, offers empowering psychological advice to her clients who need a boost, “Don’t mistake set backs with failure.”

Success in meeting your fitness and nutrition goals means allowing yourself to skip an exercise class or eat a few too many potato chips and then get back on track. Being a goody-toe-shoes all of the time is just so boring. 

So, since February is National Heart Health Month with Valentine’s Day chocolates still hanging around (and Lent for a lot of folks!) , I thought we should give ourselves a little love and understanding when it comes to setting and keeping goals to live a healthier lifestyle. 

Choose dessert first

Yes, that’s right. Life is uncertain so think of dessert first. I didn’t say eat dessert first! This strategy helps you plan the rest of your meal around the rich dessert you really crave.  
At a restaurant, the waiter may think you’re weird asking to see the dessert menu first, but you need information on your destination before you can map out the meal. You’ve got to have a destination in life; you’ve got to know where you’re going. 
Best shared with three friends.
So, if you know you’ve just got to have the chocolate cheese cake or coconut cake with pineapple ice cream then you will make sure not to start with the fried calamari appetizer or the creamy New England Clam chowder!

At home you may have your eye on a slice of  chocolate cake or bowl of caramel crunch ice cream, or both.  So plan for it and skip the cheese and crackers before dinner and forgo the extra ladle of gravy. Save yourself for your true love, dessert!

Maybe you crave the savory, not the sweet. You still have to plan for a splurge. 
Picture This

A food diary or journal can help you keep track of your intake, so you won’t be caught going over your daily calorie limit. Research shows the most successful dieters do it and do it daily. 
If you bite it, write it….down. 
Your journal notes don’t have to be super detailed, but do include the types of foods, estimate amounts and write down where you were and perhaps how you felt. This will give you an insightful snapshot of your relationship with the foods you love. No place or no time to write it down?

Text yourself a message or easier yet, take a photo of your meal with your phone’s camera. Registered Dietitian and nutrition researcher, Rebecca Reeves, of Baylor University’s Diet Modification Clinic says even the simplest notes scrawled on the back of an envelope are often enough to boost self awareness of diet habits and support successful weight loss.  Keeping track of what you’re eating will help prevent the mindless munching on chips while driving or gobbling candies while at your desk. Now you’ve got room for the treats you’re really craving.      

 

Accessorize Sensibly

As fashionistas know, accessories can make or break a look; too many baubles, bangles and beads can ruin an outfit. 
Less is more when it comes to adding rich accessories. Thank you Audrey and Lauren. 

The same goes for smartly dressing your dinner plate. For instance, think of blue cheese and bacon crumbles as accessories. They add flavor and flare to a dish, but too much just piles on unnecessary fat and calories. So, it’s not necessary to totally avoid the butter, gravy, cheese sauce and full fat salad dressings; just learn to accessorize sensibly. (Especially if you want to wear those skinny jeans.) For a sweet dessert or snack, add the nutty crunch of granola cereal as a topping for yogurt and fresh fruit.
Seek Thindulgences

If it’s a punch of flavor you’re looking for to liven up a salad or grilled chicken and fish; learn to identify very low calorie ingredients, sauces and sides that perk things up (such as salsas, hot sauce, steak sauce, citrus, vinegar, herbs, spices) while keeping calorie counts down

Accessorize a bowl of strawberries for dessert? Did you know chocolate syrup has only 15 calories per teaspoon? 

And why not seek out delicious foods that just happen to be nutritious? Chewy and crunchy granola bars are a great choice. Choose granola bars that are portion controlled and serve up healthy whole grains. Sunbelt Bakery’s tasty granola bars are made with whole grain oats and most varieties are less than 140 calories. They’re all made without preservatives or high fructose corn syrup so you can feel good about splurging on these sweet treats.  

My favorite flavors include Chocolate Chip (140 calories each)  and Oats & Honey (120 calories each)
Savor Flavors

If you’re going to splurge you should enjoy it! Choose really fine chocolates so you only need a few decadent bites. It’s quality, not quantity that counts. SunbeltBakery’s granola bars, granola cereals and fruit and grain bars are delivered to communities each week so you can savor their bakery-fresh taste.

A diet study conducted at the University of Rhode Island found that women consumed fewer calories and were more satisfied when they ate at a slower pace. Nutrition researchers theorize that it takes time for your body to process fullness signals so slower eating may allow time for fullness to register in the brain before you’ve eaten too much. Bottom line: By eating more slowly the women ate 70 calories less and said they enjoyed the meal more.  Whether your meal is a race or a ritual is just one facet of eating behavior that might impact food consumption.

So, slow down and let your body and soul appreciate small portions of big tastes.

Now go ahead and find your favorite splurge food and work it into your plan for a healthy lifestyle.

 

Disclosure for this post: I am thrilled to serve as the official Registered Dietitian for Sunbelt Bakery. Though I am compensated, all views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and are based on my knowledge and experience as a Registered Dietitian. 


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Eat the Whole Thing!

Whole Lot of Flavor: My recipe for Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa
with yellow squash, zucchini and carrots!
Recipe Below

Whether it’s snacking on a granola bar made with whole grain oats, ordering a whole-wheat hamburger bun or choosing the sushi made with brown rice, it’s getting easier to enjoy healthy whole grains in your favorite foods. Chefs and home cooks are giving side dishes a whole grain makeover too as mashed potatoes and egg noodles get pushed aside in favor of couscous, quinoa and whole-wheat pastas.
See the Grains section of My Plate? Make half your grains whole grains for good health.
That’s a good thing since U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that  all Americans eat at least half their grains as whole grains–that’s at least 3 to 5 sixteen-gram servings a day for most of us. Nutrition advice to eat the “whole” thing is based on evidence that diets that are rich in whole grains and low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol can help promote proper digestion and reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.  Whole grains may also play a role in insulin management and weight control when eaten as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. So, whole grains have a whole lot to offer!
Had Whole Grains Today?

So, have you had your whole grain breakfast granola cereal today? How about a slice of pizza on a whole-wheat crust? If your answer is “yes”, then you’re doing pretty well – since according to The Whole Grains Council most folks consume only one serving of whole grain per day and over 40 % of Americans never eat whole grains at all!

But, that may be changing as whole grain options move to center stage for delicious meals and satisfying snacks. For example, all of Sunbelt Bakery’s tasty granola and fruit & grain bars have at least 4 grams of whole grains. Some have as many as 9 grams.    

Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bar with whole grain oats
from Sunbelt Bakery with a glass of fat free milk.

 

Also, all Sunbelt Bakery products are made without any preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. Their fun flavor varieties include chocolate chip and banana, and their Family Pack bars are just the right size for portion control. And because they are delivered to communities each week, Sunbelt Bakery’s snacks and cereals have a bakery-fresh taste. It’s great to feel good about this win-win for taste and nutrition!

What’s a Whole Grain?

Whole grains, or foods made from them, contain all of the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.  A whole grain is made up of three layers–the bran, the germ and the endosperm. If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled or milled into flour and the proportions of the three layers remain the same, then it contains the same balance of nutrients found in the original grain seed.

Add a sprinkling of crunchy whole grains for fitness, fiber and fun.
Greek yogurt “parfait” with berries and Sunbelt Bakery granola cereal
 What Counts as Whole Grain?

Some examples of whole-grain ingredients include buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, brown or wild rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and whole wheat. That’s a whole LOT of choices. And remember you can mix things up. Try half white rice and half brown rice or other rice and grain blends. 

All Sunbelt Bakery bars, for instance, are made with whole grain oats or whole grain wheat.  One my favorites is Sunbelt Bakery’s Golden Almond Chewy Granola Bar. They’re only 130 calories and contain 6 grams of whole grains per bar.

Disclosure for this post: I am thrilled to serve as the official Registered Dietitian for Sunbelt Bakery. Though I am compensated, all views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and are based on my knowledge and experience as a Registered Dietitian. 


RECIPE: 
Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa

Quinoa is a delicious gluten-free grain that cooks up light and fluffy like rice but contains more protein. This super side dish recipe featuring confetti colored sprinklings of orange, green and yellow veggies is flavored with garlic and rosemary. Crunchy Georgia pecans add even more great taste and nutrition because pecans are a super source of heart healthy fats and antioxidants. 

By Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD co-author The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

Yield: 6 half-cup servings 

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ cup diced carrots

½ cup diced zucchini squash

½ cup diced yellow squash

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups cooked quinoa (prepared to package directions)

¼ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

¼ cup toasted pecan halves or pieces (reserve 2 Tablespoons for garnish) 

Preparation:

Heat oil in large skillet and add carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and garlic. Cook until crisp tender. Fold in the cooked quinoa, rosemary and pecans. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Present quinoa on a large platter and garnish with additional toasted pecans.




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Healthy Holiday Snacking


Carolyn with Tracye Hutchins of CBS Better Morning Atlanta 


Ok, so the online power shopping you did this week was more fingertip than physical so you’re burning fewer calories than battling crowds at the mall.  Stressful hours spent in airports or on the highway often mean grabbing fast food on the fly or snacking in the car to keep boredom at bay. The holiday season is here and presents many challenges to eat right and stay fit. So, this may not seem like the most ideal time to start a healthier eating plan- but it can be.
Ask yourself, “Is it really any different from the rest of the year?” Every
season brings its own temptations from Super Bowl Sunday’s nachos and beer to Fourth of July’s fried chicken and ribs. The best time to learn slimming strategies is when the landscape is fat with indulgent food choices.
Every Day’s a Holiday
Research shows that the most successful dieters — those who lose weight and
keep it off for the long haul — practice healthy eating and exercise habits all
year long. They don’t make big New Year’s diet resolutions. Instead, set
a time limit or portion limit. “I’ll eat fries only once a month.” Or
“I’ll eat ice cream in a small bowl.” Or a holiday version, “I’ll enjoy a big dinner out with the relatives, but I’ll have a bowl of soup for lunch.” 

Healthy snacks are a Tasty Trio: protein, whole grains and fruit or vegetable


Healthy Holidays
There’s no time like the present to begin new healthier eating habits even if you’re headed to a party tonight.  Help your hips survive the holidays.

 Parties Galore and what they wore! Carolyn and her Atlanta gal pals ring in the holiday season. 



 1. Freshen up your food life. Keep fresh fruit and other healthy snacks such as whole-grain crackers, granola bars, nuts and fresh veggies on hand. 

Sunbelt Bakery chocolate chip granola bars are only 140 calories – perfect portion size! 



A handful of pecans or almonds before heading out to a party or dinner can calm your appetite so you don’t dive in the minute you arrive. Look for healthier options on restaurant menus. While a friend chowed down on the bone marrow topped with quail eggs at The Spence the other night; I was delighted with a lighter plate of ravioli stuffed with wild greens and served with a small amount of pulled pork.

2. Recognize barriers. It’s going to be tough to say no to holiday favorites
like chocolate fudge and that creamy cheesy hot artichoke dip. Know your
splurge foods and resolve to enjoy them in small quantities. Use a small plate
to serve yourself. Research shows that your mind will think it looks like a lot
more food than the same amount on a large plate. 

Martini glasses are the perfect size for a perfect portion of yogurt topped with granola and fresh berries.


3. Enjoy the taste of eating right.Deviled eggs, steamed shrimp, roast beef and chicken on skewers often served at holiday dinner parties are all diet-friendly, lean protein choices. Feel free to add low-cal flavor with mustards, horseradish, cocktail sauce and salsas. Look for lighter versions of holiday faves such as low fat eggnog. 

 4. Start new habits. Keep a list of what you’re eating and drinking for a few
days. Be as specific as possible on types of foods and amounts. This snapshot will help you keep track of overeating. Write down your physical activity. Did you take the stairs instead of the escalator at the mall? That counts, too!

5. Have a plan. Eat breakfast. Schedule time to take a walk or go to yoga
class. If you’re going to a potluck, bring the salad or vegetable side dish. If it’s a three-hour car ride to Grandma’s, pack fresh fruit and a
turkey sandwich so you don’t have to stop at a fast food joint.
Save the calories to enjoy holiday treats when you get to Grandma’s. Successful
long-term weight control is a balancing act.

Keep in mind that most people gain about one pound over the holidays. 
That doesn’t sound like much, but if you don’t lose it, 
after 10 years that’s 10 pounds.
My Christmas Wish: to work out with Richard Simmons again!!

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