Biggest Loser Cooking At Home

Looking for healthier options to serve your family each day? And what about your upcoming Thanksgiving table?

This fall, I’ve spent more time cooking with the cast than ever before and I will be sharing every tip and every recipe with you – right here. Though Thanksgiving is still weeks away, it is a special meal and requires extra shopping and preparation time. Here 

The staple ingredients of this holiday’s comfort food hold plenty of health promise. After all, most of the time the Thanksgiving spread features plenty of nutritious vegetables as side dishes, while turkey is low in both calories and fat and contains plenty of iron.

With a little culinary know-how, your Thanksgiving can be a guilt-free, healthful but still scrumptious feast. This entire menu is from Flavor First.

turk

Turkey Roulade
Serves 8

Ingredients
1/2 boneless, skinless turkey breast, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 1/2 cups Cornbread and Dried Fruit Dressing (recipe below)
Kitchen twine
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sage
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil

Special tools/equipment
Plastic wrap

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
2. Place large piece of plastic wrap on countertop. Place turkey breast half on plastic and cover. Cover with additional plastic wrap. Using meat mallet, pound turkey to rectangle about 9-10 X 6 inches, about 1/4-inch thick.
3. Remove plastic wrap from top of turkey and spread dressing evenly lengthwise over surface, almost to edge. Roll turkey lengthwise. With kitchen twine, tie roulade lengthwise once and in several places across turkey. Discard plastic wrap.
4. In small bowl, mix together spices. Rub grapeseed oil over all surfaces of roulade; rub spice blend evenly over roulade.
5. Place roulade in shallow roasting pan, then place in oven. Roast for 45-60 minutes or until internal temperature measured with an instant-read thermometer reads 155 °F.
6. Remove roulade from oven and let rest 15 minutes before carefully removing twine and slicing into 16 half-inch slices.

Nutrition per (4 ounce) serving
Calories 140
Total Fat 3.5 g
Saturated Fat < 1 g
Cholesterol 65 mg
Sodium 150 mg
Carbohydrate 5 g
Fiber 0 g
Sugars 1 g
Protein 22 g

Cornbread and Dried Fruit Dressing   – it’s gluten –free too!
Makes 6 cups (enough for Turkey Roulade) and 8 side dish servings

Ingredients
4 cups cornbread cubes, dried
4 ounces lean Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 cup chopped yellow or white onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1 small garlic clove, crushed
4 each dried apricots and pitted dried plums, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Grapeseed oil cooking spray
1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Place cornbread cubes in large bowl and set aside.
2. In small nonstick skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, crumbling and stirring until brown and cooked through. Drain well and set aside.
3. In large nonstick skillet, heat grapeseed oil over medium heat. Stir in onions, celery and carrot; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, but don’t allow garlic to brown. Stir in sausage, apricots, plums, thyme, sage, marjoram and 1/4 cup broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.
4. Remove from heat; pour vegetable mixture over cornbread. Add parsley and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. (Dressing may be prepared to this stage a day ahead and refrigerated, covered.)
5. Whisk together egg and remaining 3/4 cup broth and pour over cornbread mixture, tossing well. Spray 2-quart baking dish with grapeseed oil cooking spray (use larger baking dish if not reserving dressing for Turkey Roulade) and transfer all but 1 1/2 cups of dressing to baking dish. Cover dish with foil and set aside.
6. After Turkey Roulade has been in oven 30 minutes, place covered baking dish of dressing in oven. After 15 minutes (or when internal temperature of roulade, measured with instant-read thermometer, is 155 °F), remove roulade from oven and remove foil from baking dish with dressing. Continue baking dressing for about 15 minutes or until top begins to brown.

Nutrition per (1/2 cup) serving
Calories 100
Total Fat 3.5 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 30 mg
Sodium 310 mg
Carbohydrate 12 g
Fiber 1 g
Sugars 4 g
Protein 3 g

Porcini Mushroom Gravy
Serves 8

Ingredients
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
3/8 cup white whole-wheat flour
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

Directions
1. Soak mushrooms in warm water for 5 minutes.
2. In 2-quart saucepan, heat grapeseed oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour until blended and continue stirring until roux is lightly browned and develops nutty aroma.
3. Whisk in broth, optional salt and onion powder. Bring to a gentle boil until just thickened, stirring. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and season with pepper. Add softened mushrooms and any soaking liquid.
4. Purée gravy in food processor or food mill. Return mixture to saucepan. Heat just to a simmer.

Nutrition per (1/4 cup) serving
Calories 50
Total Fat 3 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 115 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugar 0 g
Protein 1 g

Holiday BroccoliSaute
Serves 8

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 bunches broccoli (or 3 bunches broccolini), about 3 1/4 pounds, rinsed, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
3 large garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups diced roasted red bell pepper, from one 12-ounce jar
3 Tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

Directions
1. Heat very large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add grapeseed oil to pan; add rapini, garlic and salt. Toss well, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or until rapini are tender, turning a few times while cooking.
2. Add roasted pepper and toasted almonds, toss and serve.
 
Nutrition per (1 cup) serving
Calories 110
Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 55 mg
Carbohydrate 11 g
Fiber <1 g
Sugar 3 g
Protein 7 g

Warm Apple and Cranberry Sauce
Serves 8

Ingredients
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
4 large Fuji apples, about 2 pounds, cored, quartered lengthwise and cut into half-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions
1. In large, heavy saucepan, heat grapeseed oil and add apples. Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until apples are lightly caramelized. Add water and lemon juice to pan, cook and stir briefly to deglaze pan.
2. Carefully transfer apples to bowl of food processor and pulse just a few times to chunky consistency. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon and cranberries. Serve warm.

Nutrition per (1/3 cup) serving
Calories 40
Total Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 9 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugars 6 g
Protein 0 g

Pumpkin Flan
Serves 8

Ingredients
Grapeseed oil cooking spray
3 eggs, omega-3-enriched if available
1 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
7 Tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) maple syrup
5 1/2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk, heated until very hot
Boiling water, about 1 quart
Ground nutmeg (garnish)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Adjust oven rack to center position. Coat eight 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins with grapeseed oil cooking spray and set them in 13 X 9-inch baking pan.
2. In large bowl, beat eggs slightly; add pumpkin purée, maple syrup, grapeseed oil, vanilla, spices and salt. Beat with mixer until blended thoroughly. Mix in hot milk until blended. There will be about 4 cups of liquid. Pour 1/2 cup flan mixture into each prepared ramekin.
3. Carefully pour boiling water into baking pan around ramekins. Water should come up to level of custard inside ramekins.
4. Bake 40-45 minutes or until set around the edges but still a little loose in center. When center of flan is just set, it will jiggle a little when shaken. Remove from oven and immediately remove ramekins from water bath; cool on wire rack until room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
5. Serve cold and garnish with ground nutmeg. This dessert can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Tip: Use leftover pumpkin purée in a smoothie with yogurt, milk, sweet spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves) and a drizzle of agave nectar, honey or maple syrup.

Nutrition per (1 flan) serving
Calories 190
Fat 7 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Cholesterol 110 mg
Sodium 220 mg
Carbohydrate 24 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugar 18 g
Protein 6 g

Easy Kid-Friendly Snacks for Busy Moms & Dads

The Holiday season is already upon us, and many of my wonderful fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter have been asking for simple tips and recipes for kids during the holidays that busy moms and dads can use to both entertain and inspire healthful snacking. Below I have included both a short list of quick and easy snack ideas that can also both be fun and healthy for parents and kids alike.  I have also included a delightful recipe from my forthcoming “Cooking with Quinoa for Dummies” book, set to be released early next month, for amazing Quinoa Breakfast Bars, full of fiber and flavor that are sure to impress.

  • Air popped popcorn – you can even string them up and use as a Christmas tree decoration!
  • Ants on a log – spread low fat cream cheese or peanut butter on a celery stalk and sprinkle on some raisins or dried cranberries, blueberries or cherries.
  • Fresh fruit kabobs – use what’s in season such as apples, and pears, bananas.
  • Apple smiles – slice up an apple and spread peanut butter on them and arrange on plate as smiley faces.
  • Fresh fruit smoothies – even using fresh frozen fruit for this fun treat is healthy. Add kefir or low fat yogurt with milk to boost the nutritional value and calcium for strong bones.
  • Yogurt and fruit layered parfaits – spruce up non-fat or low fat plain yogurt with cinnamon, a touch of agave nectar to add sweetness and a spoonful of granola for crunch.
  • Snowflakes – take a whole-wheat tortilla and spread a thin layer of low fat cream cheese over the surface. Then sprinkle with cinnamon. Fold tortilla in half and then in half again. After a few bites, you can open it up to seethe pretty snowflake pattern you made!

Quinoa Breakfast Bars [1]
Yield 24 bars

Ingredients

Cooking oil spray
2 ½ cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick)
½ cup quinoa flour
½ cup nonfat dry milk powder
½ cup unsweetened coconut
½ cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans
½ cup chopped dried apples or other dried fruit or berries
½ cup currants or raisins
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dark honey
½ cup natural almond butter or peanut butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions
1 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking oil spray.
2 In a large mixing bowl, measure the rolled oats, quinoa flour, milk powder, coconut, almonds, dried apples, currants, and salt. Stir well to combine and set aside.
3 In a small saucepan, warm the honey and nut butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until blended. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
4 Add the warm honey mixture to the dry ingredients and quickly stir the mixture until it’s well combined. The mixture will be sticky but not wet.
5 Pat the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press firmly with your hands to remove any air pockets.
6 Bake the bars until they just begin to brown on the edges, about 25 minutes.
7 Cool for 10 minutes then cut into 24 bars, each about 11⁄2 x 21⁄4 inches.
8 When the bars are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the pan to a cooling rack. When they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container. Keep them in the refrigerator for optimal freshness.

Per serving: Calories 161 (From Fat 56); Fat 6g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 61mg; Carbohydrate 25g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Protein 4g

[1] From Cooking with Quinoa For Dummies by, Cheryl Forberg (Wiley January 2013)

Top 3 Cooking Tips From 15 Seasons At The Ranch

In my 12 seasons as nutritionist on The Biggest Loser, interviewing and coaching each and every contestant, I learned a great deal about the most common mistakes people make around the kitchen that can lead to weight gain. I also spent a great deal of time working with the contestants and developed simple and easy-to-follow guidelines.

When the Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog asked me about some of my top cooking tips for weight loss, recently these are the three I thought of immediately:

  1. Put Flavor First! Steamed broccoli and grilled chicken may help you drop pounds but it’s not a sustainable eating plan — too boring! You have to put FLAVOR FIRST. Having the right condiments, dressings and sauces on hand can turn a ho-hum meal into an extraordinary culinary experience. My favorite store bought items to keep on hand include, salsa, capers, no-sugar fruit spreads, guacamole, horseradish, mustards galore, low-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and I’m the Queen of homemade dressings, sauces, dips and “mayos.”
  2. Make extras or big batches: Whenever you cook, freeze half in individual containers. When hunger strikes you’ll always have a cup of soup, a pasta dish or a scrumptious leftover to reheat in minutes or take with you. No excuses for visiting the drive thru!
  3. Always have a bowl of fresh fruit in sight: Keep containers in the fridge of freshly cut veggies to graze on or to quickly heat or sauté. Most of us eat mindlessly much more often than we realize. If you’re going to graze anyway, feel good about it!

Read the full interview on The Food Network’s Healthy Eats Blog. And learn more about putting Flavor First at FlavorFirst.com.

Biggest Loser Diet Tops U.S. News and World Report Best Diet Rankings

Diet co-authored by Cheryl Forberg, RD ranked No. 2 for weight loss, and No.1 for diabetics

badge.gif

U.S. News and World Report ranked The Biggest Loser Diet among the top diets for weight loss on its annual list of The Best Diets. The Biggest Loser Diet ranked No. 2 among all tested diets for weight loss, and was named the No. 1 diet for fighting and managing diabetes by the prestigious magazine.

Cheryl Forberg — a Registered Dietitian, James Beard award-winning chef, New York Times best-selling author, and Nutritionist for The Biggest Loser for 12 seasons, co-authored the diet and since the show’s debut in 2004 to season 12 2011, she individually counseled each of The Biggest Loser’s 250 contestants on how to transform their eating and cooking habits — consequently helping to change their lives.

Forberg has long touted The Biggest Loser Diet’s benefits to diabetics. In fact, one-in-four contestants have diabetes when they report The Ranch: But they all leave without it.

Conversion Table For Measuring Portion Sizes

Measuring portions is an essential element of my eating plan, and the one I’ve taught the Biggest Loser contestants for the past 15 seasons.

It’s important to be precise about amounts when food journaling. Serving size recommendations don’t always come in the measures with which we are most familiar, and if you don’t spend much time in the kitchen, you might be completely lost.  Please use the table below for reference whenever and wherever you are:
Teaspoon Tablespoon Cups Pints/quarts
gallons
Fluid ounce Milliliter
1/4 teaspoon 1 ml
1/2 teaspoon 2 ml
1 teaspoon 1/3 tablespoon 5 ml
3 teaspoons 1 tablespoon 1/16 cup 1/2 oz 15 ml
6 teaspoons 2 tablespoons 1/8 cup 1 oz 30 ml
12 teaspoons 4 tablespoons 1/4 cup 2 oz 60 ml
16 teaspoons 5 1/3 tablespoons 1/3 cup 2 1/2 oz 75 ml
24 teaspoons 8 tablespoons 1/2 cup 4 oz 125 ml
32 teaspoons 10 2/3 tablespoons 2/3 cup 5 oz 150 ml
36 teaspoons 12 tablespoons 3/4 cup 6 oz 175 ml
48 teaspoons 16 tablespoons 1 cup ½ pint 8 oz 237 ml
2 cups 1 pint 16 oz 473 ml
3 cups 24 oz 710 ml
4 cups 1 quart 32 oz 946 ml

Cheryl Chats With Biggest Loser Trainer Dolvett Quince

dnp6560The charismatic trainer Dolvett Quince joins The Biggest Loser this season, bringing years of expertise in, in his words, “body sculpting.” He keeps his clientele in shape and works with some to transform their bodies (one client lost 325 pounds) as founder of Atlanta, GA-based Body Sculptor fitness studios. In preparation for this season of BL, I had the chance to chat with Dolvett about fitness, training Atlanta’s celebs (Justin Beiber even brought him on tour), and his advice for the rest of us.

Cheryl: What is the number one mistake people make when starting a training program?
Dolvett: Getting started without stretching.

Cheryl: What do you say to someone who thinks they are too out of shape to start exercising?
Dolvett: How much more out of shape are you gonna get before you get started?

Cheryl: You own your own successful fitness studios and have trained everyone from Justin Beiber to Janet Jackson. Of your accomplishments as a trainer, which are you most proud of?
Dolvett: I’d have to say making it here on Biggest Loser, I can affect more people, and help change lives.

Cheryl: Any of your celeb training clients ever give you a hard time about working out?
Dolvett: Always. No one really loves working out until the compliments come in, so the hard work pays off.

Cheryl: Do you ever get starstruck?
Dolvett: Sure, Im a fan like anyone else, I admire anyone who is great at what they do…it motivates me.

Cheryl: What do you love to eat following an intense workout?
Dolvett: Chicken and spinach salad! Mmmmmmm yum!

Cheryl: What’s your food weakness or favorite indulgence?
Dolvett: I love, love sweets … lemon cake!

Cheryl: Is there anything that most people (even your friends!) don’t know about you?
Dolvett: I don’t take myself too seriously, so I’ve always had a dream of doing standup comedy, or singing the national anthem before a game!!

What’s Red All Over (Sometimes), But Always Good For You?

tomatoes

For the backyard gardener or farmers market forager, tomato season is one of the true joys of summer. They may not be around for long, but when they are  there is little you can put on your plate that so easily and simply (and healthily) packs so much flavor.

Some swear by the many, many interesting and wildly different heirloom varieties (in all sorts of colors and patterns). Others just as proudly show off the hybrids they grew in their backyards, passing out bags bursting with tomatoes to friends and neighbors when the bounty arrives. But either way, come August and September in most of the country those at the table are in for a delicious treat.

The tomato has long been a controversial fruit, er, vegetable, though. Did you know that on May 10, 1983 The U.S. Supreme Court officially declared the tomato a vegetable, based on the fact that they are generally served with dinner and not dessert? Botanists may argue the other way. Whichever side of the debate you fall on however, one thing is for sure: The tomato is a good for you food!

Tomatoes are not only extremely versatile and taste great; they also have many nutritional benefits. They are high lycopene. Lycopene is a phytochemical found in tomatoes (and fruit such as watermelon and pink grapefruit) that has potent antioxidant properties. Many studies have revealed evidence that lycopene may help decrease the risk of prostate cancer while working in concert with other nutrients.

Tomatoes are also high in vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. One medium tomato is approximately 95% water and has 22 calories. One cup of fresh tomatoes provides over 57% of the daily value for vitamin C, 22% of the daily value for vitamin A, and almost 8% of the daily value for fiber.

Sometimes it’s all we can do to wait to pop the deep red slices into our mouths as soon as the orbs are sliced. Others blanche and preserve their ruby treasures or boil them down into sauces so the late-summer treat can last months more.

But raw or cooked — which is better? Fat­soluble nutrients such as lycopene become more concentrated when tomatoes are cooked. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is more abundant in raw tomatoes. You’ll be happy to know that you should enjoy this anti-aging “fruit” both ways for optimal benefits.

Try this recipe I learned from a friend in Hawaii for a delicious tomato salad — you’ll find it at FlavorFirst.com.

Win a one-year membership to the Biggest Loser Club! Season 12 is just weeks away, but until the premiere we’ll be giving away a year-long membership to the Biggest Loser Club, a customized interactive diet and fitness program, every week. To enter for your chance to win sign up for my monthly newsletter of tips, recipes, news and advice. Sign up here.

How Many Calories Do You Need To Eat Per Day?

tread millThe first step in determining how many calories you need to consume each day isn’t just how many minutes you spent on the stair climber at the gym (though that does come into play), but rather what your metabolism is.

First of all, that word “metabolism” gets thrown around a lot, and many folks don’t really know what it means or how to understand it as it relates to their lives. What is metabolism exactly?

Well, the scientific explanation goes something like this: Metabolism is a set of chemical reactions that take place in living things to maintain life. It consists of catabolism (the breaking down of matter to create energy), and anabolism (using energy to build or construct the components of cells). Blah, blah, blah … make sense?

Simply put though, metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories.

Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the number of calories you need to fuel your body’s basic energy needs at rest. Depending on how active you are you will need 20-90% more calories than your calculated BMR. Here’s how to calculate your energy needs:

1. First, find your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by using this equation (or use the BMR calculator here):

  • Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches ) – (4.7 x age in years )
  • Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in year)

2. To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

  • If you are sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
  • If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
  • If you are very active: BMR x 1.725
  • If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.9

3. The number you get is the number of calories you need to eat in order to maintain your current weight. Decreasing that number by 500 calories per day is a good place to start if you want to lose about a pound per week.

If you want to do a quick estimate without a computer or calculator, a rule of thumb is that most people generally need a daily caloric range of somewhere between 7 and 10 calories per pound for long-term weight loss success, with a minimum of 1,200 calories per day.

Quick Tip: To make this complicated process easier, there are several reliable Web sites that have calorie need calculators. All you need to do is add in your age, gender, height and weight, and activity level. Online BMR calculators, such as the one from the Mayo Clinic I mentioned, will do the math for you! WebMD also has a fun tool that will calculate your BMI and provide additional information.

Snack Attack Solution

colorful rootsOne of the biggest mistakes we make when trying to lose weight is skipping meals. Skipping does not promote weight loss; it actually promotes weight gain. If you wait too long to eat, when you finally do eat you eat too much too fast and you chose the wrong things. Not only should you not skip meals, you SHOULD eat in between meals as well. So, now you are thinking, “OK, Cheryl, you are telling me to lose weight I should eat MORE, not less?” Well, exactly — though not larger amounts, just more often.

Snacking is integral to a healthy diet. So, what do we mean when we say that? It does not mean to rip into a bag of chips every time you get the urge. It does mean to keep lots of healthy snacks available, so when you open the refrigerator you have what you need to make the right choices.

One good strategy for doing this is keeping enough cut up or snack-ready fresh vegetables on hand to keep you satiated (or feeling full) throughout the day. When storing fresh vegetables you want to aim to keep you refrigerator temp between 34°-40°, low enough to kill much of the bacteria that causes food to spoil quickly, but high enough so your veggies are crisp, but not frozen.

Carrots are a wonderful option. They are very high in beta-carotene, a plant substance converted by the human body into Vitamin A, essential for normal growth and development, immune system function, and skin and vision health. Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant shown to help fight cancer and heart-disease, and something most people don’t get near enough of. You can buy a bag or two of those baby carrots and keep a it handy for snacking, or just slice some into spears (“baby” carrots is a misnomer and they are just larger carrots cut bite-size by machines anyway) and keep them in a sealed tupperware or plastic bag for up to two weeks. An entire cup of carrots has just 52 calories (plus nearly a day’s worth of vitamin C).

Cut Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers, and summer squash or whole green or wax beans are all fine options to keep on hand and will stay fresh for at least 3-5 days if properly stored in an airtight container or bag.

Fruits intended to ripen after picking (tomatoes included) should not be refrigerated at all, and are lovely to keep out in the open in a bowl. Consider keeping whole apples, pears, peaches and nectarines within arm’s reach at home or your office for between meal snacks.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthy and convenient whole fruits and vegetables you have at the ready. No matter, how you snack, whether it’s simply biting into an apple, or preparing more elaborate snacks, its important to remember how important these tiny but vital meals are to a successful weight loss program.

Mind Your Food (And Your Butt Will Follow)

thinker rodinIt sounds simple enough, right? Think about everything you put into your body. “Mindful eating” is something we should all practice, but all too often we, well, forget. And we forget to such an extent, according to a new study, that we sometimes don’t even remember eating.

The effects of an unmemorable meal reach well beyond a wasted lunch. In fact, with a good memory of what we ate we feel fuller longer. And when we don’t remember our meal, we tend to snack more or eat more calories at the next meal.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in England conducted a study on mindful eating to determine its possible effects. The researchers fed three groups of women identical lunches of ham sandwiches, chips, and water. While this was not the healthiest lunch they could have chosen (those researchers haven’t been reading this blog), it came in around a respectable 500 calories.

One group ate with nothing but their lunches to keep them occupied. A second group read a newspaper article on changes in chocolate bar sizes and soft drinks. The third group ate while listening to audio instructions on how to focus on the look, smell, flavors, and textures of their food.

 

After an hour had passed the researchers gave all the women plates of snacks of chocolate chip cookies and a sweet and crunchy British treat called chocolate fingers. The women in the group that listened to the audio instructions urging them to focus on their food ate 50 percent fewer cookies and 60 percent fewer chocolate fingers than those who read the newspaper or did nothing.What can take from this? The researchers concluded that those with the most vivid memory of their lunches ate less when the snacks were offered. It’s important to notice and appreciate your food to feel fuller longer, and make it easier to stick to your calorie budget.

One method I always recommend that will help you engage in this sort of mindful eating is food journaling, and, in fact, it is one of the first tasks I give all the Biggest Loser contestants. But even if you are not writing down everything you eat, stopping to appreciate each bite — how the flavors work together, what textures are at play, and even how your food looks — is important not just to your overall enjoyment of your meals but to your waistline, as well.

While the show is away on summer break, we’ll be giving away a year-long membership to The Biggest Loser Club, a customized interactive diet and fitness program, every week. This week, watch my Twitter feed @cherylforbergRD for your chances to win. If you don’t use Twitter, don’t worry: there’ll be a different way to enter next week.

© Cheryl Forberg 2016