Nutrition Labels 101

One of the biggest questions I get from people trying to change their eating habits is about food labels and food packaging. Whether you are trying to eat healthier, lose or gain weight, or just get the highest quality food for your dollar, reading food labels is an important part of the process. Although the labels have gotten a bit easier to read in recent years, they can still be a bit confusing, and the way products are designed and marketed on the shelves can be even more confusing. Knowing how to read these labels can make eating, and grocery shopping, much simpler, as well as healthier.

When we are selecting our groceries, the very first thing we see is the packaging. Food companies know this, and they try all sorts of tactics to make you think you are getting the best product as well as the best value-whether it’s true or not. Using “healthy claims” on packaging is a huge trend, and many of these claims are completely misleading. “Organic” or “pure cane sugar” is, after all, still just sugar; It’s not any healthier, and it doesn’t make the product better for you. Advertising “made with whole grains” on a box of sugary cereal is often found to be just a sprinkling of grains mixed into bleached white flour. If you look at a box of gummy fruit snacks, you will often see “made with real fruit” on the packaging, when in reality 40% of the product is corn syrup, and there may be 4 other types of sugar added before the tiniest bit of fruit enters the product. Being aware of these sneaky practices can help make your choices much easier.

Servings and Serving Sizes:

One of the biggest lessons in nutrition label is SERVING SIZE! This is without a doubt the most enlightening thing for many people to realize! A popular example: a serving of soda is 12oz and 150 calories-not 150 calories per 22oz bottle! An average small bag of chips grabbed with your lunch may say “160 calories per serving” but, in reality that bag may have 3 or more servings in it! Serving sizes are usually LESS that the average person expects! Always check the serving sizes before calculating your intake or calories and nutrients. If you consume the entire product, be sure to multiply ALL the calories and nutrition by the number of servings in the package.

The Ingredients:

Ingredients are found at the bottom of the nutrition label, and they are listed in order of quantity. The first few ingredients tell you the bulk of what the food is made of. If those first few ingredients include things like sugars (corn syrup is just highly process sugar!), refined grains, or hydrogenated oils-it is not a healthy food! If the product has several lines of ingredients, or many ingredients that are just long scientific words that you don’t know as “food”, you may want to choose another food option. Healthy whole ingredients give us the heathiest food-it’s that simple!

Reading Nutritional Percent Values:

All the nutrients including vitamins and minerals are listed with Daily Value percentages. These numbers are based on a total of 2000 calories a day. If your normal calorie intake in higher or lower than 2000 calories, by sure to adjust your intake accordingly. These values are based on a daily consumption-not each meal. If you track your nutrients carefully, be sure to take notice of this.

Sugars:

If eating less sugar is one of your nutrition goals, checking the ingredients is super important. Food companies know that many are trying to reduce sugar intake-so they use many forms of sugar to sweeten their products and these ingredients will be listed with different names, often in large quantities: high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, lactose, dextrose, oat syrup, agave necter, ethyl malto, glucose, maltodextrin, and fruit juice concentrate are just a few of the many words that mean just one thing-SUGAR. It is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to keep added sugars to less than 10% of your calorie intake for each day. If you are trying to eliminate or lessen the amount of sugar in your diet, check out my guide to Sugar for free HERE.

Fats:

Look for foods with low amounts of saturated fats, and no trans fats. These types of fats are linked to obesity and heart disease. On the flip side, look for foods that have unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat can actually lower the risks of disease! These fats include olive oils, nuts, seeds, and fish. These are heathy fats that are good for the heart, lowering cholesterol, and keeping the skin, joints, and overall health in check.

Best Advice!:

Shopping the perimeters of the grocery store and buying WHOLE foods is your best bet for a healthy diet. Fill your cart with an abundance of colorful fruits and veggies in the produce department, look for lean sources of protein in your seafood and meat department, and choose health dairy products to round out your cart. When venturing into the aisles of the store, be sure to choose whole grains packaged with little processing like whole grain breads, brown rice, and grain pastas.

If you are interested in learning more about healthy eating, check out my free guide to Clean Eating, and/or this blog post on the beginner’s guide to healthy eating!

If you are focused on changing your health habits to build a better YOU-consider one on one coaching! I’m educated, trained, and certified in nutrition, wellness, motivation, and fitness to guide you on your entire health journey! I look forward to chatting with you on a free call to discuss your personal health and wellness plan-reach out to me here.

Reposted from my business site BeeWell.com

Amazing Almonds

Almonds are crunchy, tasty, filling, and absolutely packed with superfood benefits! I keep individual serving packs of almonds in my pantry for a grab and go snack on busy days, or for when I just need a little protein boost before or after Pilates class. Just a single 1 ounce serving satiates my hunger and fulfills my need to crunch on something while providing me with so many great nutrients. How can you beat that???

The most popular form of almonds is unshelled, and either raw or roasted, salted or unsalted. We can also find almonds used in SO many products in our grocery stores like almond milks, almond butter, and almond flour, with each of these products offering their own healthy benefits and many uses.

Considered a superfood, these yummy nuts are an antioxidant-which means they can protect your cells from damage that leads to disease and aging of the body. These amazing nuts also help with lowering blood sugar, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels! A single serving of almonds contains 6 grams of energy producing protein, 3.5 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of fat-9 of which are heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Almonds also contain a high amount of vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, and a good amount of cooper, phosphorus, and vitamin B2. That’s a LOT of GREAT nutrition coming from a small handful of food! Bonus-if you’re concerned about your calorie intake, it’s important to note: 10-15% of the calories in almonds is NOT absorbed by the body! And the protein and fiber content in almonds has been known to keep you feeling full for longer periods of time-therefore capable of helping you reduce your calorie intake!

There are so many ways to add this incredible power food to your diet. Consider sprinkling slivered almonds into your cereals, yogurts, salads, or oatmeal. When baking, use slivered almonds in muffins, breads, cakes, cookies and brownies. When preparing meals, add slivered almonds to rice pilafs and omelets. Using almond milk and almond flour in place of cow’s milk and wheat flour in your recipes will add protein and nutrients to everything you prepare, and almond flour is gluten free! *If using almond flour to replace wheat flour in your favorite recipes, start with a 1:1 ratio and know that because almond flour contains a bit more moisture, you made need to add more to get the right consistency for your recipe. When I use almond flour and almond milk in my recipes, I find that my foods are a bit more moist, and have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. One of my absolute favorite go to recipes is my low carb pancakes-and the recipe is below. I prepare these weekly, keep them in my fridge, and simply heat and eat. They are SO SO good!!! 

A fun fact about almonds: 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California! Other countries that produce almonds are Spain, Iran, and Morocco-but Cali wins as the biggest producer in the world with over 500 miles of farms-mostly family owned!

Be sure to keep some almonds around for a healthy heart boosting snack-even better-grab some almonds dipped in dark chocolate and get even MORE healthy benefits from your snack! If you’re looking for a yummy way to add these nutrient packed nuts into your diet, give my favorite recipe a try:

Low Carb “Pancakes”

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup almond milk

6 tablespoons melted butter (must be cooled)

3  1/3 cups almond flour

6 tbsp Swerve Sweetener or Monk fruit sweetener

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease 11X17 inch baking pan-or muffin pan (I use the “all edges” brownie pan from Pampered Chef) *Makes 12 servings.

Combine eggs, almond milk, cooled melted butter, and vanilla extract in a blender and blend until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine almond flour, sweetener, baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the blender, blending and scraping sides of blender until all ingredients are well blended. Let batter sit briefly until thickened.

Pour batter into greased baking dish and spread evenly, or scoop by 1/3 cup each into muffin tin. (I use the Pampered Chef brownie pan with the 12 individual cups)

Bake 13-17 minutes until edges are golden brown and centers are firm to the touch. Carefully remove from pan and allow to cool. If using a baking dish, cut into 12 even pieces.

These can be refrigerated for up to a week in a Ziploc bag. Simply heat for 30 seconds in the microwave and serve.

Serve with butter and your fav low carb syrup, or with berries. *My son eats them with peanut butter.

Nutrition:

Cals.  130

Fat 11 grams  Sat 4.5 grams

Carbs 8 grams  Fiber 1 gram

Protein   5 grams

Superfood Super Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and in my family-that means HOLIDAY! As a child this was always one of the biggest days of the year in my house as we also celebrated my football obsessed dad’s birthday on the same day. The amount of food bought and consumed was ridiculous! We usually started off the day with a huge breakfast, and about 2 hours later the table and countertops in the kitchen would be completely covered with lunchmeats, chips, cookies, various chips, potato salad, macaroni salad, and brownies. My father would cook his yearly kielbasa sausage and sauerkraut in the crockpot, and the stove top would be covered in hotdogs, chili, and all the fixens. Beer, wine, and mixed drink rounded it out for this all day feast-which also ended with birthday cake. Needless to say, many people left our house with tummy aches over the years, but they always returned for another crazy football feast.

Super Bowl Sunday is thought to be the second highest food consumption day of the year, right after Thanksgiving. Some online articles suggest that the average viewer eats almost 11000 calories on that day, with the most popular foods being pizza, wings, chips and dips, deviled eggs, chili, and hotdogs. Men’s Fitness magazine stated that American’s drink 345 million gallons of beer each Super Bowl Sunday! This is, of course, considered a holiday for many, and it’s perfectly ok to splurge on occasion, but if you are thinking about keeping focused on your health goals while enjoying this year’s big game (or any big event with food!) this article is for you!

Consider this average list of consumption during a regular sports party:

2 slices of pepperoni pizza

6 wings

Nachos with cheese and toppings

Endless amounts various chips (but let’s say 2 servings)

4 cookies

2 beers (only 2!)

2 sodas

Does that sound about right? Have you found yourself eating this way? I know this happens in my house!

This, my friend, is 2800 calories worth of food-with a whopping 100 grams of FAT. Add a loss by your favorite team, and you might find you had a really bad day! (I can attest to this…I once threw a vacuum cleaner off an upstairs balcony after a loss-and my dad was famous for breaking doors after bad games….mediation has helped!:))

Having a great time and enjoying great food while ALSO sticking to your health goals is completely possible. It can easily be done by making a plan, sticking to a few guidelines, and having a few good recipes for tasty, healthy party food.

When I approach a day that revolves around food, I like to go in with a plan. I start my day with a super healthy, filling, but light breakfast like oatmeal and fruit. I focus on getting my exercise for the day in before game time, and drink as much of my water as possible. It’s important to get something healthy and nutritious into your stomach BEFORE showing up where there is lots of party food!

The guidelines I follow and lay out for my clients in any situation that involves an “all day” food situation are as follows.

-Stay hydrated! Keep drinking that water. If you chose to drink alcohol, match each drink with an equal amount of water. This will flush your system, as well as help avoid overindulging and getting a hangover.

-scan the food offerings and make a plan: what will you enjoy as your actual meal? What will you snack on? What will you indulge in for dessert? When will you eat these foods?

-remember portion control! Take small amounts of the foods you want to enjoy and be sure to put them on a plate and actually take time to enjoy them. And, to remind you and ME-potato chips DO fit on a plate and it’s a great way to eat only a serving size! (I’m a chip girl-just don’t let me stand by the bowl!)

~always have healthy options available. Veggie and fruit trays with hummus or lower fat dip are a great start.

~choose mustard over mayo on your sandwich or hotdog and consider skipping the cheese.

~cheese or veggie pizza instead of pepperoni or fatty meats and stick to one slice for a very healthy change.

~use a smaller plate for your choices, eat slowly, and don’t eat out of giant bowls or packages.

~make the decision to only eat at a certain point of the day perhaps at halftime.

~instead of pizza, hotdogs or hamburgers, try some grilled kebabs with lean meats, veggies and fruits.

~do a search for some healthy game day snack recipes (there are TONS) and try a new one out each week. And check out the recipes that follow this article!

Now, to add some fun to your day! Let’s get up and move and get everyone involved with fun and exercise!

~make some bets with your family and friends, with crazy exercise as the consequence. Your team scores-they have to do pushups, their team scores-you have to do jumping jacks. This can be done with all aspect of the game, even down to ref calls and uniform choices!

~get up and move during commercial breaks, long replay decisions, and halftime. March around the house, step outside for some fresh air and take a quick walk around the yard. And don’t forget to get up and dance during that old school halftime show!

~have a themed “party game” available during game breaks-shoot hoops into a wastepaper basket, throw the ball around in the front yard, be creative and have some fun with it!

 Above all, remember that this time is for having fun, relaxing with family and friends, and socializing. The food and drinks are just an added attraction to the day and partaking in a huge feast of food is not a requirement or expectation. Focus on your family and friends, and your team, and have a great and healthy time.

GO TEAM!

Check out some of these healthier choice recipes for your game day, and be sure to check out these awesome DIP recipes as well!

Healthy Deviled Eggs

Make your deviled eggs with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and turn your deviled eggs into a superfood explosion! These are packed with protein and super yummy!

 Ingredients:

Hard boiled eggs, cooking the yolks well (leave in hot water for 13 minutes)

Plain whole milk Greek yogurt

Dijon Mustard or your other favorite spiced mustard

Salt and pepper

Favorite spices-paprika, cayenne pepper, or try a Maryland favorite-Old Bay for a yummy twist

 Directions:

Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Scoop yolks into a small bowl. Place egg whites on a serving dish.

Mash egg yolks with a fork and add the rest of the ingredients until it is smooth and to your tasting and texture.  

Spoon mixture into egg whites, or for a fancy decorative look, use an icing bag with a tip and squeeze into whites.

Sprinkle with paprika or old bay, or use another topping as desired-bacon bits, relish, hot peppers. 

Keep chilled until ready to serve and enjoy!

Zucchini Fries

Ingredients:

1 lb.  zucchini

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 egg

1 tsp.  milk

4 tbsp. breadcrumbs

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

3 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 430°F . Cut zucchini into fry-like pieces. 

Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with the milk. Season with salt, pepper, add the crushed garlic, oregano, and thyme. Mix well.

On a separate plate, have your breadcrumbs ready. 

Grease a large baking tray with 1 tbsp. of olive oil. 

Dip the zucchini in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs and place on the baking tray. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the fries 2-3 times during this time, drizzling them with the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil. 

Season with salt and serve.

Nutrition per serving: Serves 4

177 cal     12g Fat. 14g Carbs   5g Protein

Veggie Chili Salad

Ingredients:

14 oz. can black beans, rinsed, drained

7 oz. can sweet corn, rinsed, drained

1 red bell pepper, sliced

bunch coriander, chopped

5 oz.  hot salsa

Directions:

Rinse the black beans and corn under cold running water, rinse thoroughly and drain well. Slice the pepper into small strips. Chop the coriander coarsely.

Mix the beans, corn, pepper and coriander with the salsa in a medium bowl. This salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Serving suggestions:

Guacamole Baked Tortilla chips Veggies

Nutrition per serving: 4 servings

 144 cal    2g Fats 28g Carbs     8g Protein

Getting Over an Overdone Holiday

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I’m going to be the first to say-I may have overdone it! It’s not that I ate too much, drank too much, or dropped out of my regular daily exercise, but I DID eat and drink some things that left me feeling less than great! I followed my own advice when sampling the foods, being social instead of food focused, drinking plenty of water, and getting out for some long walks each day, but I enjoyed some foods that don’t always agree with me, and had some wine (the sugar in wine gives me more of a hangover than the alcohol!) So, by Sunday morning, I just felt so ICK! My body was sluggish, I was fatigued, my brain seemed fuzzy, and my joints yelled out that they were definitely dealing with inflammation. UGH! I know I’m not the only one, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to get over the holiday that was overdone. As I write this, I am on day 2 of a detoxing fast of sorts to rid myself of the holiday funk and do a little “tune up” healing for my gut and feeling better already. It was a GREAT holiday-I hope it was for you as well!

If you’re feeling like you overdid it, whether it be eating too much, eating foods you don’t generally eat, indulging in alcohol, or leaving your self-care or exercise in the dust, you CAN get yourself back to feeling more like yourself quickly by just following a few great tips. Give yourself a few days to try these out, and I’m sure you’ll be feeling great!

Get Rid of Holiday Treats

This is the first step in the process! And, by “get rid”, I don’t mean eat them!! Give them away, throw them out, freeze them for the next holiday, but remove them from your house! Grandma’s leftover pie, Aunt Jane’s mashed potatoes, leftover summer sausage and crackers-whatever it is, get rid of it! It will no longer be a temptation, and you will be so much happier with it GONE!

Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Foods

That’s right-more grocery shopping! Stock up on the healthy food that you enjoy: fresh veggies, fruit, lean meats, and whole grain foods. Do a little meal planning and prep so that you have easy, ready-made, healthy choices available at all times. Be sure to pick up some healthy snacks as well like nuts, hummus, hardboiled eggs and yogurt. Keeping healthy food available will make mealtime so much easier during this busy time of year.

Eat Small Balanced Meals

Don’t try to “fix” your holiday overindulgence by cutting out meals; this will only set you up for cravings and possible binging. Instead, focus on small, balanced meals scheduled throughout the day. Focus on lean proteins like chicken, healthy fats like nut butters, high fiber foods like whole grains, and plenty of fresh veggies and fruit. If you need a little help figuring out the best choices, check out this article on basic nutrition.

Flush it All Out

Water is your best friend when it comes to getting over any period of overindulgence! It literally flushes the body clean, helps with digestion, removes bloating, and rehydrates the body. Alcohol and foods heavy in salt can dehydrate the body and make us feel sluggish, heavy, tired and even brain fogged. This dehydration can also show up in our skin, causing dryness, wrinkles, and an uneven complexion. Aim for 6-8 glass of water each day. To make this easier, try drinking a glass upon waking, before each meal, after any exercise, and a short time before retiring for the night. Getting the water in can be the quickest way to feel better!

Try Soups!

Get your balanced nutrition AND your water in at the same time with delicious broth based soups! Throw some broth into a pot, add your leftover turkey or another lean protein, and throw in some veggies and seasonings and let it simmer for an hour or so for a tasty, light, healthy, quick meal choice. For a great soup recipe with a big vitamin pack, try this Kale recipe that can easily be made with turkey instead of chicken.

Cut the Alcohol

Whether or not you indulged in too much alcohol this holiday season, try to cut it from your diet for a few days. Alcohol wreaks havoc on our body systems and makes every part of our body work harder. It dehydrates us, causes fatigue, slows the metabolism, and causes all kinds of unpleasant reactions.

Show Yourself Some Love

Going a little easy on yourself is always crucial to your health and well-being, but especially after overdoing it. Get a little extra rest, spend a little time being quiet and still, and see how it affects your stress levels. You may want to spend a little time in simple meditation, or just sitting in silence to regain your peace of mind and re-energize. The holidays can be an incredibly stressful time, so be sure to schedule time to just rest. If journaling is your thing-or you’d like to try it, consider thinking into the New Year and coming up with a “word” to define your future.  

Consider a Sugar Detox

If you truly want to feel and see a huge change in your health rather quickly, consider doing a sugar detox. Sugar is in SO many foods, and we eat so much of it without even realizing. Sugar intake has a massive effect on the body, our hormones, our skin, our brain, our weight, and our emotions. Many people are addicted to sugar! To learn more about sugar addiction and see if sugar might be an issue in your diet, check out my latest freebie! It’s an eye opener on all things sugar related, and even includes a sugar addiction checklist. Giving up added sugar was the BEST thing I ever did for my health!

Find Support

If you are struggling to get back on track after the holiday, and worried about the holidays ahead, consider finding someone to support you. A friend, a relative, an online group, whomever it might be. Sharing support and encouragement while holding each other accountable and offering motivation can make all the difference. If you need a strong support system and personal guidance, inspiration and tools, consider speaking to a health coach. This can be a life changing decision! Setting up goals and plans that are JUST FOR YOU can make all the difference! If you’d like to chat about how this might work for you, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation-no hard sales, no pushing, no pestering-just conversation about YOU and what you need to feel and be your best!

I hope this holiday season brings you many blessings, an abundance of joy, and great health and wellness! Happy Holidays from Sami Bee at BeeWell!

Healthy Holiday Food Hacks and Facts

As I stated in my last post, the average Thanksgiving Day dinner intake, according to The Calorie Control Council, is around 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat. And that doesn’t include our drinks, appetizers or leftovers, or our sampling of food. That’s SO much food! (If you missed my crazy Thanksgiving food video, watch it HERE) While Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and I believe whole heartedly in enjoying everything in moderation, I thought I’d use this week’s post to provide some healthier alternatives to the typical fare served at this American feast. Whether you pick just a few to give your holiday meal a healthier and lighter edge or use these to give your everyday meals a healthier kick is completely up to you. It’s always nice to know some simple tricks to change up your meals to get less fat and more nutrition.

Turkey is a staple of many Thanksgiving dinners, and it’s a healthy choice! 4 oz of turkey has 120 calories, a whooping 24 grams of protein and is very low in fat. It’s high in vitamins B3, B6, B12, magnesium and potassium. If you are a fan of dark cuts of turkey, or the skin of the turkey you will eating a bit more fat.

Use turkey leftovers in salads, soups, curries, and sandwiches for healthy meals in the days following the holiday for extra protein packed meals.

Potatoes are my absolute favorite holiday food, and I’m pretty famous for mine! Potatoes are loaded with nutrients like fiber, vitamins C and B, potassium, magnesium, niacin, and folate when eaten with the skin. Peeling potatoes reduces the nutritional value. Potatoes are also rich in antioxidants, and colored potatoes (red or purple) offer even more nutritional value.

I don’t cut any corners with my mashed potatoes on holidays because we eat them so rarely. If you’d like to cut down on the amount of fat in your mashed potatoes, try using less butter, and either skim milk or chicken broth instead of full fat milk or cream. If you’d like to get that extra punch of nutrition, consider mashing your potatoes with the skins still on them. And be sure to go easy on adding gravy!

Sweet potatoes Are known to be superfoods! However, adding all the sugar, butter, and marshmallows can turn this holiday dish into a dessert food rather quickly.  Sweet potatoes provide 400% of daily vitamin A, and provide high amounts of B, C and D.  This antioxidant food boosts brain, heart, and even reproductive health, and can help control blood sugar levels. If you want to make delicious sweet potatoes without all the sugar and unhealthy fats, consider replacing the butter with coconut oil, and using unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar. Walnuts or almonds can be used in place of pecans for a healthier nut choice.

Squash is super healthy, with butternut being the best. This low-calorie superfood is packed with vitamins A, C, E, B1, B3, B6, and tons of minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and folate. Great for bone health, eye health, immune function, and tissue repair. Try adding some squash to your plate this holiday season for a colorful and healthy change.

Greens make a super healthy addition to any meal. Kale, collards, spinach, cabbage, beet greens, watercress, turnip greens are all fantastic choices. Greens are super super low in calories, high in vitamin A, C, K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

Cranberries are low in calories, and a superfood with vitamin C, E, K1, and many minerals. They are 90% water when served fresh, but when canned add another 24 grams of sugar to your meal. To make cranberry sauce without the added sugar, try using stevia and orange juice to sweeten your berries.

Grain bread with olive oil dip and seasonings I love bread and staying away from the rolls is a huge feat for me at most holiday meals. To add a little health to your holiday breadbasket, consider using a chewy whole grain bread with a side of olive oil for dipping. Add seasonings to your oil and heat briefly to get the infused flavors in each bite. The whole grains will up your vitamin B, and olive oil is one of the most nutritious fats, as well as having anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Brussel sprouts are low in calories and high in anti-inflammatory properties. They also offer vitamin k for bone and blood health and contain healthy fatty acids which boost brain health.

Green peas contain almost every vitamin and mineral! They are high in fiber and antioxidants and help regulate blood sugar as well as aid in digestive health and immune function. Be sure to get these green jewels on your plate this holiday!

Sauerkraut  was a huge family favorite when I was growing up in Maryland. This food made from fermented cabbage is a probiotic that aids in digestion and improves gut health. For the healthiest version of this tangy dish, avoid canned versions as they are super high in sodium. 

Pomegranates are considered one of the most nutritious fruits on earth – and they are sweet and delicious. Pomegranates are high in fiber, offer protein, and are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium. They have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. The juice may cut your risk of heart disease.

Pomegranates also help lower blood pressure, can ease arthritis pain, and are great for brain function. They can also help with workout/athletic performance and fatigue.

Nuts although high in fat, 1oz of most nuts contains 170 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams of fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse can reduce free radicals that cause cell damage and can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce inflammation. When choosing nuts, keep in mind that a serving is only 1 ounce, and for most nuts that is less than a palmful.

Cocoa for a hot holiday drink consider a cup of real cocoa! The properties in cocoa aid in maintaining blood sugar, can reduce bad cholesterol, support brain and heart health, and   can even aid with depression. Look for cocoa made with dark chocolate with 70%cocoa solids and little added sugars. To give your cocoa a holiday flair, consider adding some peppermint.

Peppermint Mint adds holiday flavor to many of our treats, and it’s super soothing to our stomachs! Mints, like peppermint, can help relive headaches, can boost energy and concentration, and have even been known to relieve symptoms of allergies. Mint provides antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.

 Pumpkin is a super popular holiday flavor that seems to show up EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING! When choosing pumpkin for your recipes, be sure to purchase plain pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin is super filling and low in calories while high in vitamins A, C, B2, and E. Pumpkin also offers minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and copper. It’s great for vision, lungs, heart, skin, and can help lower blood pressure.

I’ve added an amazing Pumpkin Cake recipe (below) for you to try and enjoy this holiday season!  Only 5 healthy ingredients and super easy! Enjoy!

I hope that you got some great nutritional info, as well as tips to get you in a healthy state of mind for the holiday season. For more great tips on surviving the holidays and staying in great health, download my free Holiday Guide! And, if you find yourself nervous about how you will approach and navigate your health during this holiday season or are looking forward to making awesome changes in the wonderful new year of 2022, I SO encourage you to get in touch with me and invest in your health and well-being NOW. As a coach, I can motivate you, keep you goal oriented, develop strategies to get through tough situations, help with managing stress, controlling sugar cravings, balancing hormones, finding the right exercise and eating plan, and guide you as you invest in the most important asset you have-YOUR HEALTH.  Let me, help you, be the BEST you, and live your BEST life! I look forward to hearing from you! Contact me!

Easy, Tasty, Healthy Pumpkin Cake

Serves: 8.

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 50 mi

Ingredients:

3 eggs

¾ cup (150g) coconut sugar

1 cup (230g) pumpkin puree

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup (125g) self-rising flour

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar.

Beat with a hand mixer for 5 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and has tripled in volume.

Add the pumpkin puree and cinnamon and beat until everything is well-combined.

Sift the flour into the egg mixture and very gently fold, making sure that you do not deflate the eggs.

Grease an 8-inch (20cm) diameter cake pan and pour the batter into it.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool, then slice and serve. Store this cake in an airtight container.

Nutritional Info

154 kcal   2g Fats   34g Carbs  3g Protein

Let’s Have Some Food Fun! Thanksgiving Edition!

The average Thanksgiving Day Dinner intake, according The Calorie Control Council, averages 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat. And that doesn’t include our drinks, appetizers or leftovers, or our sampling of food. I thought we’d have some fun and see what that actually looks like!

Watch below! And, as this was originally recorded in 2020-I need to edit a bit and say Happy New Years 2022 in advance! Enjoy!

Looking for guidance in you health and wellness journey?? Need help with habits, mindset, nutrition, motivation, or stress relief? Let’s chat! Also, be sure to get you awesome 22 page Holiday Survival Guide for FREE right HERE!

Enjoy my video:)

Some fun Thanksgiving food facts! Eat mindfully!

Gift Yourself a Healthy Holiday

It’s that time of the year again! In keeping with my current holiday theme, I’d like to address some of the habits that seem to fall by the wayside for many of us each year during this time. For many, it’s the comfort food, sedentary behavior, extended darkness, and cold weather that tend to affect our health goals just as much as parties and social events. My goal, as a health coach, is to make people aware of the habits and hidden traps that can lead people into the land of temptation and help them create tactics and plans to avoid those added pounds and that sense of exhaustion we often feel around this time of year.

Many factors play into us losing sight of our healthy plan during this busy, and usually stressful, time of year. Aside from the parties, dinners, and social events that fill our schedule, we also may find that our time for movement is cut short. Cold weather and long dark nights may keep us indoors, therefore limiting our time spent getting exercise outdoors, and keep us from getting the fresh air and sunshine that keeps our bodies happy and healthy. Daily walks are cancelled due to inclement weather, and most outdoor physical activities like gardening, tennis, and running are impossible in most areas. It’s important to take some time to evaluate how you used the outdoors in your exercise plan and come up with a replacement that can be easily done indoors. Yoga, treadmills, dancing, and streamed workouts are a fantastic way to bring your movement into warmer settings. It is important to continue to get some fresh air each day, and a bit of sunshine to boost our vitamin D and prevent depression and seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder, or “winter blues”, leads to symptoms of depression in healthy people due to a reduction of daily sunlight. Symptoms include depression, lack of energy, loss of interest in things that bring us joy, issues with concentration, and sleep disorders. Spending a small amount of time each day in the sunshine can alleviate these issues, even if you spend it sitting inside a window basked in sunshine.

Holiday parties and dinners often include decadent foods, adult beverages, and lots of treats we wouldn’t otherwise have in our health plans. The important thing to remember is to ENJOY without OVER-INDULGING! It’s absolutely fine to enjoy a few “only baked once a year” cookies, just remember-it’s about TASTING them and ENJOYING them! It’s not about eating the entire plate of them!! Enjoy your favorite foods and treats in small amounts and move on to the main focus of the holidays-making memories with family and friends, enjoying those around us, and appreciating the time we have together.

When planning your meals during the busy holiday season, be sure to focus on quality over quantity; Eat foods with BALANCE in mind. Consider eating a small healthy snack before heading to parties or big dinners to calm your hunger. Fill your plate with healthy filling foods to begin your meal, and then have small bites of more decadent fare. If you are asked to bring a dish, consider a dish that is veggie based so that you know for sure that you will be getting those healthy bites in. ALL foods are fine in MODERATION! Take small bites, be mindful in enjoying the taste, and enjoy!

Most families have what I call a “food pusher”. It could be your mom, your aunt, or a friend that simply gets her holiday joy from watching people eat ALL her treats. You know who these people are, and you need to have a plan to deal with them in advance-they generally do NOT take “no” for an answer. There’s lots of ways to say no politely, after trying a small sample, of course, but these people usually don’t settle for a simple “No thank you!” Have a plan of action going into this situation and be strong about it. Some people think they must announce their health goals, diet plans…But that often leads to too much attention and discomfort from the food pusher. Always remember, “NO.” Is a complete sentence, and that food pusher will likely move on to a new hungry victim quickly! 

I’ve put together a pretty little resource for surviving the holidays, and it’s free to you HERE. You’ll find great tips for self-care, healthy holiday travel, getting exercise during busy holiday weeks, optional food choices for meals, and a few tracker templates to print out to help get you organized and motivated. I hope you will grab yourself a copy and make your holiday season a little healthier and happier.

New Years is coming up super soon, and with it comes the blessing and promise of a brand new year! If you’re looking for a great way to start your year off with health goals in mind, consider booking free chat with me to discuss putting together the perfect, personalized plan focused on YOU and YOUR goals. Whether it’s getting your nutrition in order, finding time in your schedule for building healthier habits, dropping a few pounds, or finding ways to relieve stress, focus more on self-care, and gaining the energy you crave in life-I can guide you to your goals and keep you motivated for success. Learn more about health and wellness coaching HERE. Find out more about me and my passion for great health, and feel free to drop me a message here to start a conversation about YOU!

Take a Bite into Great Health with Apples!

For many of us, it’s fall, which means apple season! As I packed my pantry bag this week to travel to Monday Night Football in Baltimore (GO RAVENS!) I was sure to throw in a few apples. Apples are truly one of the healthiest and easiest foods to keep on hand-no matter where you are or what you are doing! We’ve all heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and there is some real science behind the saying!

No matter what type of apple you eat (there are over 7500 varieties, 2500 different types of apples are found in the US alone!!) you will get some excellent nutritional benefits along with a sweet, juicy, crunchy, treat. There are SO many different types of apples you could eat one a day for 20 years and never eat the same kind twice! Because they are so portable, and don’t require refrigeration or preparation, they are perfect for traveling and busy lifestyles.

As I did a little research on this popular fall fruit, I learned some interesting facts. Did you know????

~The apple is a member of the rose family

~it takes the energy of 50 leaves to produce one apple

~apples range in size from as small as a cherry to the size of a grapefruit

~the largest apple ever produced was over 3 pounds

~in Chinese culture the word for apple is “ping” which also stands for peace.

~the average apple has 10 seeds

~top producers of apples are China, US, Turkey, Poland, and Italy.

~Apples were planted by Pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

~apple juice is one of the most popular juices in the US

Apples are truly a nutritional marvel, with so many benefits for the body. Here’s just a few facts to get you thinking about grabbing an apple as you go about your awesome busy life!

Packed with nutrition!

The average apple is about 100 calories, and is full of great vitamins like C, K, A, E B1, B2, and B6. Eaten with the skin on, the apple gives us a great amount of fiber as well. Because apples are small, fresh, and portable, this makes it the perfect healthy snack!

Good for elimination and bowel health

One apple with its skin contains 4 to 5 grams of fiber – the most important nutrient in keeping your bowels working like clockwork. Fiber helps with constipation, and an ingredient found in apples called pectin has a congealing effect to also help with diarrhea. Pectin is considered a prebiotic, which means it feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are a healthy gut food.

Keep your body young.

Apples contain polyphenois, which has an antioxidant effect on the body. Antioxidants help protect our bodies from aging, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. When scientists compared a 1,500-milligram vitamin C supplement to one small apple, the results were astounding – the antioxidant values were equal. That means a fresh apple has more than 15 times the antioxidant power of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. Apples also contain magnesium and potassium that help regulate your blood pressure and keep your heart beating steadily, and it’s the flavonoid quercetin, a naturally occurring antioxidant, that protects your artery walls from damage and keeps your blood flowing smoothly. Apples are also linked to better brain health and mental clarity.

Excellent For Weight Loss Efforts

Because apples are high in both fiber and water content, they are very filling. In studies, people that snacked on apple slices before meals ate fewer calories and felt fuller for longer periods of time!

Protects your Bones and Joints.

Eating fruit is a great way to maintain bone density and decrease the risk of arthritis. The high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in apples promote bone health, and the trace mineral boron found in apples aids in joint health.

Be sure to buy apples that are unbruised, firm, and have good color. Take them out of their plastic bag and store them in your refrigerator – loose in the produce bin or in a paper bag is best. And since they will absorb odors, keep them away from strong-smelling foods like garlic and onions. If you have an opportunity to visit an orchard and go apple picking, I highly recommend doing so-there is nothing like the taste of an apple pulled directly from the tree!

For a special treat, try baking apples for a healthy and incredible smelling dessert or snack. Just core your apples and place them in a greased baking dish. Add a bit of apple cider or juice to the dish, and sprinkle the apples with maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, or apple pie spice. You can also fill the hole of the apples with oats, nuts, or raisins. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, checking with a fork for softness. Top with a dash of yogurt or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

If you are looking for more easy superfood recipes, be sure to check out my 5 Ingredient Superfood Cookbook! It contains power food recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and snacks. Get yours free here!

I’d love to help you with your health and wellness journey! If you are interested in a 30 minute conversation about your goals, please reach out!

10 Ways to Sneak Fruits and Veggies into Your Family’s Diet

I think that just about everyone knows that we should be eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day-I’ve even heard small children remind their parents while ordering in restaurants. But having the knowledge, and actually following through are very different things! Many times, fruits and veggies are not easily available or convenient, sometimes they are more expensive than junk food, and often, we are just tempted to grab a less healthy food to snack on or add to our meals.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has SO many benefits! These foods are chock full of vitamins and minerals, and many also offer fiber and protein. Antioxidants provided by many fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation in the body that can cause arthritis, joint pain, brain fog, headaches, and muscle stiffness, just to name a few. Fruits and veggies fill us up and keep us full while providing power packed nutrients without a lot of calories and have no fat. Fruits and veggies offer us nutrients that are good for literally every part of the body-our skin, hair, nails, muscles, bones, and brain. These are absolute super foods!

When my family was young, nutrition was a huge focus in my parenting. Meals were planned in advance, and we often needed to eat while running with a busy schedule. Two of my four children were picky eaters; One of them wanted to exist on chicken tenders and peanut butter for the first 12 years of his life! While getting fruit into my family’s diet was never an issue, getting vegetables in was always a challenge, so I had to get super creative. Fortunately, as the years went on, my family developed a taste for most vegetables, and I’m always impressed when they make sure to fill their plates as young adults. If you are struggling to get fruits and veggies into your diet, or your family’s diet, I’d like to offer some creative tips!

1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. Simply throw some fruits, low-fat yogurt and ice in a blender. To round out a perfect meal in a cup, add a scoop of protein powder. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast. If you’d like to get super creative and mega nutritious, throw in a handful of spinach and a few ounces of carrot juice-it will add a powerful amount of nutrients while adding a bit of sweetness. Frozen fruits, like superfood blueberries, work fantastic in smoothies, and removes the need for ice. This is not only tasty and healthy, but portable and ready for an on the go lifestyle.

2. Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day. Add some small cartons of raisins to your lunch boxes, pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your briefcase and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking. You can also add dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning, or mix it with nuts, or into yogurts as an added treat. Dried fruit is a great item to keep in the car for long trips, or in a backpack for hikes or long walks.

3. Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches. You can add some banana, sliced apples or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey or chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, spinach….You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some favorite dressing and cheeses. Try over ripe banana on toast or switch up iceberg lettuce with spinach or kale to add more nutrition to your sandwiches.

4. Have a salad bar at dinner. This is always a fun way to get those veggies in! Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce or other greens and let everybody create their own perfect salad. Add some fruit choices as well, and they will surely fill their plates.

5. Find creative ways to sneak veggies to your family meals by adding veggies to sauces pasta dishes, and broths. Blended veggies add a thickness to pasta sauces, soup broths, and even gravies. Try adding colorful veggies to homemade pizza-when my kids were small, broccoli was considered a pizza topping, and no one ever complained! Add several veggies like zucchini or sweet peppers to lasagnas, or even try replacing your pasta and rice with veggies versions like cauliflower rice or spinach based spaghetti.

6. Tip for a super yummy dessert. Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit. This is not only a winner, but super tasty and refreshing on a hot day. Seasonal fruits make this a real treat!

7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks. You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with ranch dip. And don’t forget “ants on a log”. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it (wow, fruit and vegetable in one snack).

8. Try some new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.

9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat. These can be great comfort food especially as the weather gets cooler.

10. Start “Veggie Day”. Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried each vegetable the week before. This gives everyone a chance to try something new, without the pressures involved in usual mealtime “eat what is on your plate”.

Getting, and keeping, these super foods into your regular diet can be a game changer for both you and your loved ones. Keep in mind-tastes change-so even if you didn’t like a certain fruit or veggie when you were younger does not mean you won’t like it now. I did NOT like the taste of anything green as a child, but now love broccoli and kale. I also did not eat tomatoes until I was 20, and now they are one of my favorite foods! Keep trying new fruits and veggies, and new ways to prepare them, and soon you will be enjoying all the benefits to these amazing fresh foods!

If you’re looking for more info on cleaning up your diet, be sure to check out my newest freebie ebook, Learn How to Eat Clean and Feel Your BEST! Grab it here!

If your curious about what Health and Wellness coaches DO, and how it can change your life for the BEST, check out this article, or even better-shoot me an email! I’d love to chat about your health and wellness goals and get a plan started with you!

Find Endless Energy in Your Life!

This year(s) have been pretty exhausting. I hear it daily-people are so tired, and everyone seems to be looking for a boost of energy that doesn’t involve MORE coffee or energy drinks. Because of this, I decided to spend some time putting together a little guide on Canva (love Canva!) with all of my best tips and information on increasing energy levels while also changing the mindset for an all around boost of positive energy.

Included in this free to download ebook: wellness tips for all around health and happiness, food and supplements for more energy, tips on organizing your routine for optimal health, and daily trackers with affirmations to get you started on the right path.

If you’ve been dragging a bit, reaching for too much caffeine, or just not feeling like you have enough energy to do ALL of the fabulous things you want to do, this guide can help get you on track and feeling ready to create, enjoy, and live the life you deserve and desire-and you DO deserve it!!!

You can find the guide here (this is my main business website). I hope you enjoy it-and maybe take some time to look around while you are there-there’s lots of other freebies to find!

Bee Well,

Sami Bee