Tag Archives: Healthy Living

6 Small Meals vs. 3 Regular Meals – Which is the Healthier Diet?

Recently, I was talking to one of my friends who is trying to lose weight. She was telling me that she regularly only eats 2 big meals every day and usually skips breakfast. My immediate thought was: She needs to eat more frequently! Most people think that if they want to lose weight, they should just eat less and the weight will come off. That’s not exactly true.

The weight will likely come off, but it won’t stay off because the only reason you’ve lost weight is because you’ve severely limited your calories. As soon as you start eating normally again, you’ll gain the weight back, and on top of that, your body will begin to store that extra meal as fat fearing that you might decide to cut out that meal again in the future.

The reason for this is, when you start consuming drastically less calories, or have long gaps between meals (e.g. one meal at 12pm and one at 8pm with nothing else in between), your body goes into starvation mode. What does that mean? Basically, when there are long gaps between meals, your body moves from a fat burning mode to a fat preservation mode. That means that your body will start burning muscle instead of fat. This eventually causes a decrease in your lean muscle mass, which actually slows down your metabolism, and makes your body fat percentage goes up.

Also, when you eat only a couple meals a day, your blood sugar levels fluctuate wildly. Those blood sugar fluctuations are often the culprit for the crazy cravings we’ll get once we’re so hungry that any food – 5 chocolate chip cookies, 2 bags of chips, 1 whole pizza – will do. So even when you do eat your meals, you’ll end up overeating and canceling out any calorie restriction gains you accomplished during the day.

So does that mean that eating 6 meals a day is healthier than eating 3 meals a day? Not necessarily. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that. Because the other part of weight loss that’s important is a simple math equation (my husband would love that I’m incorporating math into this post by the way!). So here’s the equation: Calories in – Calories out < 0.

Or, in other words, the calories you’re consuming must be less than the calories you expend throughout the day. That doesn’t mean that you have to burn 1600 calories at the gym alone – this includes calories you burn just being you – I mean technically, we’re burning calories even while we’re sleeping! Here’s a link to an awesome tool that will help you determine your your BMR – that’s your basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories you burn doing no activity whatsoever.

But I digress 🙂 So back to the question – is eating 6 small meals a day healthier than eating 3 regular meals? Sort of. It’s only healthier if you aren’t consuming more calories as a result of eating more meals. So the key is – 6 small meals. That means that each mini-meal should be about 200-300 calories max – which puts you at a 1200-1800 calorie range per day – which is perfect.

The benefits of 6 small meals a day are:

  1. Keeps your metabolism going at a steady rate which allows you to burn calories efficiently
  2. Helps you maintain hunger cravings and random food binges – keeps your blood sugar steady which helps prevent hunger attacks
  3. Keeps your energy up!

The pitfalls of 6 small meals a day are:

  1. Overeating! Small means small! 1 slice of whole wheat toast with a slice of low fat cheese; or a handful of almonds with an apple count as mini-meals so be careful!
  2. Takes effort to plan out. If you’re doing well with 3 meals a day and you don’t tend to overeat in between meals, then this might not be the best plan for you.
  3. Many experts feel that trying to spread out the day’s calories rather than sitting down to regular meals may throw off the body’s internal clock making it forget how to recognize hunger and satiety cues to the point when you no longer understand what it’s like to be hungry but also never quite feel full. This is not a good thing.

So what’s the bottom line? If you’re the type of person who has the discipline and the patience to eat six small portions every day, can count calories, and you’re also the type of person to binge when you feel hungry – this could be the right fit for you. If you’re the type of person who enjoys sitting down to a regular sized meal and doesn’t have a tendency to overeat, then sticking to the traditional breakfast, lunch, dinner and one small snack is probably the best approach. Either way – the total calories you’re consuming must equal (or if you’re trying to lose weight, be less than) the calories you’re expending. And you should always be eating at least 3 balanced meals a day – don’t ever skip breakfast! 🙂

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Healthy Snacks Part 2: How to avoid reaching for the junk food!

So – it’s 4pm, or midnight, or 10am … or whatever your usual snacking time is, and that usual craving comes upon you. I really want… chocolate… cookies… chips…. candy….soda. Sound familiar? 🙂

When I wrote my last post – My Top 10 Healthy Snacks – I got a great comment from Marisa on being “guilty” of reaching for the “bad stuff” instead. She brought up a good point – it’s much easier to know what’s healthy to eat than to actually eat it! She inspired me to write this post – here are a few of my tips on how to avoid reaching for the “bad stuff” and make it more of a habit to reach for the good stuff!

1) Distract yourself. Go for a short walk, take a bathroom break, pick up the phone and call a friend, or start talking to a coworker. If you really aren’t hungry and were just bored – this will take care of the need to snack!

2) Only keep healthy snacks near you. Laziness can be quite a powerful tool when it comes to avoiding unhealthy food. If the cookies (or other unhealthy snacks) aren’t at your desk, but an apple is – you’re more likely to reach for the apple than to go looking for the cookies. Extend this principle to your home – avoid keeping junk food in your house – and don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry! You’ll be much less likely to make bad choices if you aren’t hungry when you’re shopping for food.

3) Chew Gum (or a mint). Chewing gum will make you feel like you’re snacking when you really aren’t, and the mint taste will leave your mouth feeling refreshed and you’ll be less likely to want to chow down right after (think about it – right after you brush your teeth, do you feel like eating?)

4) Drink water or tea. A lot of times, people mistake hunger for thirst. A rule of thumb should be – when you feel the need to snack, drink a glass of water instead. If you’re still hungry 5-10 min later, try to reach for a healthy snack!

5) Allow yourself to indulge once in a while. Cutting out junk food altogether is not the answer. Everything in moderation! Also – if you let yourself indulge in small portions occasionally, then you won’t feel totally deprived of junk food and will be less likely to binge on it later.

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Items for a Healthy Pantry!

Hi Everyone! So this weekend, while I was looking for some healthy 4th of July meals to prepare, I came across this article on the Food Network’s Website. The article was entitled “The Healthy Pantry” – and I thought it was super helpful in outlining those staples that are “must haves” when creating a healthy meal. The full list is here – and my favorites / additions / modifications (and little explanations of why they’re good items to have) are below. Enjoy!

1) Oils, Vinegars & Condiments


  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Adds great flavor for cooking, perfect for salad dressing, and has tons of healthy fats and antioxidants)
  • Butter made with healthy Omega 3s (e.g. Smart Balance)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (the link has a full list of other vinegars that are good for cooking)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Ketchup (A great low cal way to spice up burgers and sandwiches)
  • Barbecue sauce (Make sure you get one that is super low in sugar – around 45 calories for 2 Tbsp)
  • Reduced-fat / fat-free mayonnaise (Trader Joe’s has a great “vegan mayo” that’s made from healthy oils instead of eggs. It tastes great – really close to regular mayo – and is way better for you!)
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • Prepared pesto (This is an item on the Food Network list that I would actually suggest not having. Prepared pesto is often very high in fat and preservatives. I’d suggest making your own or buying it fresh from a store like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)
  • Salsa (Pace Picante or fresh pico de gallo is my favorite)
  • Hot sauce
  • If you’re into salad dressings – make sure to get fat free / low calorie versions of the original – e.g. Kraft Light or Hidden Valley Fat Free)
  • Real maple syrup (Be sure to avoid the sugary syrups like Mrs. Butterworth’s “syrup” that you can find at your local grocery store – those don’t provide any of the antioxidant health benefits that real maple syrup has, and they are often super high in sugar)
  • Fresh fruit preserves (Better than Smucker’s Jelly because they contain real fruit!)
  • Pizza Sauce (Make sure you get one that is low in sugar – Trader Joe’s has a great organic pizza sauce that’s super flavorful and low in calories/sugar)

2) Seasonings


  • Salt (Sea salt is better than regular salt because it’s less refined and has more minerals – but it is also less salty so you have to account for that in recipes)
  • Black pepper (Freshly ground is my favorite)
  • Dried herbs and spices: ground cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper, rosemary, thyme leaves, oregano, Italian seasoning blend, tarragon leaves, ground cinnamon, ground ginger
  • Vanilla extract

3) Canned Goods & Bottle Items


  • Canned tomatoes (crushed with italian seasonings are great for sauces), tomato paste
  • Reduced-sodium broths
  • Canned beans: cannellini, kidney, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) — I’d also add black beans and pinto beans to the list!
  • Canned lentils
  • Low calorie canned soups: Amy’s has a great variety of soups; also Trader Joe’s has a few that I love: Organic Tomato Bisque; Split Pea; Black Bean — tons of fiber, great tasting and high in protein
  • Fat free refried beans (Look for the vegetarian versions – I like refried black beans from Rosarita the best)
  • Chunk light tuna and salmon

4) Grains & Legumes


  • Assorted whole-wheat pasta
  • Regular and instant brown rice
  • Whole-wheat couscous
  • Quinoa – this isn’t on the Food Network list but I’d strongly recommend it – the only grain that’s a complete protein
  • Regular and quick-cooking barley
  • Bulgur
  • Rolled oats – steel cut oats are also great.
  • Dried lentils
  • For breads, I like Orowheat’s Double Fiber bread for sandwiches; Orowheat 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns for burgers; Thomas’ Whole wheat bagel thins; Thomas’ Light english muffins, High fiber whole wheat pita bread; Mission carb balance tortillas  – all of these can be frozen if you don’t use them up right away – they freeze really well and taste exactly the same after being heated in a toaster oven!

5) Baking Products


  • Whole-wheat flour and whole-wheat pastry flour. (Store in the refrigerator or freezer.)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Unprocessed wheat bran
  • Quick-rising yeast
  • Cornstarch
  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar – I like the organic cane sugar from Trader Joe’s
  • Honey
  • Splenda or Stevia (if you’re into artificial sweeteners, these are the best)

6) Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit


  • Walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, almonds – I’d also add cashews and sunflower seeds if you like them – they are a great source of vitamins and you can also use cashews as a substitute for cream in many dishes!
  • Dried apricots, dates, cranberries, raisins
  • Peanut butter (natural) – the only ingredient should be ground peanuts

7) Refrigerator Basics


  • 1% or skim milk
  • Reduced-fat sour cream (I’d go with fat free here – you can’t taste the difference!)
  • Fruit juice – make sure you don’t get juice that’s mostly sugar
  • Large eggs – Organic, free range eggs are the best – and if you can find omega 3 yolks that’s even better! Try using only egg whites in your omelettes/fritattas/etc – you’ll get all of the protein with none of the fat
  • Cheese: sharp Cheddar, feta, Parmesan, mozzarella (fat free feta crumbles are super low calorie and taste great… but for the other cheeses I’d go with the full fat versions)
  • For cream cheese – I’d suggest using Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges – much lower in calories and still has the great creamy taste
  • Nonfat or light vanilla yogurt – Greek yogurt is your best option here – nonfat version is still super creamy and packs up to 15g of protein!

8 ) Freezer Basics


  • Frozen fruit — frozen berries are the best – super high in fiber, and freeze really well
  • Frozen vegetables: edamame (soybeans), broccoli, corn, bell pepper-and-onion mix, peas, spinach
  • Low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt and/or sorbet (should be around 100-120 calories per half cup)
  • Frozen cheese ravioli or tortellini — this is ok – but if you have time to get the fresh versions and freeze them I’d suggest doing that instead

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The 6 Best Foods for Runners! (and good for everyone else too!)

Recently, I came across an article on Self.com which outlined the six best foods for runners. I sent it to my husband and he thought it was super helpful, and I actually think all the foods listed should be a part of everyone’s diets (whether you’re a runner or not!) They are all super healthy and provide tons of fiber, protein and antioxidants. The six foods are below and can also be found at this link on Self.com, where you can read about the runner-specific benefits. Thanks Self for a great article!!

Almonds are a great source of Vitamin E, Fiber and Protein. Be careful with portions though because they are still high in fat & calories!

Eggs are a GREAT source of protein, most of which is in the whites - so make yourself an egg-white omelette with tons of veggies for a great meal!

Leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc) should be a staple in everyone's diet. Tons of antioxidants and fiber in these healthy veggies!

Oranges: Vitamin C, Fiber, and a yummy sweet/tart taste. Need I say more?

Quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids! It also has tons of fiber and is a great substitute for rice.

Sweet potatoes have protein, fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and A. Definitely a nutritional powerhouse!


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Healthy Veggie Eats in Portugal and Spain!

Hi Everyone! I know it’s been a long time since I last posted – and that’s because I was traveling throughout Spain & Portugal for most of June! It was an amazing vacation in two beautiful countries. One of the things I was actually a little concerned about when we left was whether we’d find enough vegetarian and healthy food options on our trip. Now – I am all about indulging when you’re on vacation – but I like indulging in really flavorful, wholesome (and obviously vegetarian) food 🙂 This post is about our 16 day journey, and all the wonderful vegetarian and healthy eats we found along the way. Hope you enjoy and hope it’s helpful for any vegetarians traveling to Spain & Portugal (or non-vegetarians who are interested in some healthy options!)

Day 1: Heathrow Airport & Lisbon

Eating healthy is always a challenge, but even more so when you’re traveling internationally. On the way to Portugal, we had a layover in Heathrow. Airport food options are never great, especially when you have TGI Fridays at one end of the airport and random pre-made food options at the other end. But in Heathrow, they have a surprisingly good amount of healthy food options! I ended up getting my lunch at a place called “EAT” – which has freshly prepared salads & sandwiches, as well as a number of other healthy snacks (yogurt, fruit, etc). I picked up an edamame, sugar snap peas, green beans and spinach salad; and a cup of greek yogurt with just a small sprinkling of granola on top. Super healthy, filling and tasty! It took a little bit of scoping out the airport to find, but once I did it was well worth it!

Our first day in Lisbon was a similar food adventure. Luckily, breakfast was provided at the hotel – fresh fruit, all bran cereal, whole wheat toast with a bit of cheese & jam – great way to start the day! Since we’re vegetarian & also looking for healthy options, Lisbon was a bit of a challenge (as most restaurants are primarily meat with few veggie, let alone healthy options!). We were walking around for an hour, starving, when we came upon Ristorante Momenti Italiani Pizzeria (address: Bairro Alto, Rua Da Misericordia – 93, Lisbon). This was a great find, and had tons of veggie options! We had the minestrone soup (low in fat, lots of veggies); a side salad (again, fresh veggies to add to the meal), and shared a margherita pizza (super thin crust, little oil, and the cheese was a great way to add protein to our meal). We also shared a bottle of green wine – really refreshing and interesting (since it looks like white wine!). All in all, a great lunch. For dinner, we found this fantastic little 100% vegetarian restaurant – Jardim doSentidos. The food was GREAT! And the ambiance was awesome – we sat outside in a little courtyard – had a nice warm breeze in the evening – very relaxing! We ordered veggie kabobs and tofu steaks served with grilled vegetables. Wonderfully tasty and healthy! Then for dessert, we splurged on a banana split and red tea 🙂 All in all – a great first day finding healthy veggie eats in Lisbon!

Day 2 – Lisbon

Again, breakfast at the hotel – you really can’t go wrong – same as Day 1.

Lunch ended up being more like coffee, tea and pastries at this wonderful pastry shop in Belem, called Café Pastéis de Belém. I know, not the healthiest lunch – but definitely an experience and a wonderful find! And this place is famous for its pastries – so definitely worth trying 🙂

For dinner, we went to Terra Restaurante Natural – another all veggie restaurant in Lisbon – what are the odds!! It basically feels like eating an all veggie potluck at someone’s house – the restaurant is set up with seating in a beautiful garden out back; while inside is the all veggie buffet laid out in a kitchen like setting. We had amazing dishes like veggie chili, seasoned corn, veggie couscous with almonds, raisins, peppers and corn, veggie meatballs with sauce & spaghetti, veggie gourmet pizza, a bunch of different salads, falafel balls, and lots of other great dishes! Truly a find in Lisbon.

Day 3 – Porto

Veggie dishes in Porto were a bit more of a challenge to find than Lisbon, but we actually ended up coming across some good restaurants that had some decent veggie options for us. Our first day in Porto we ended up eating pizza at Casal – a very hip, trendy restaurant in the main part of town, with amazing desserts & crepes too! Dinner was at a restaurant called Giroflee – sort of an Italian / fusion type place. We had a really yummy cheese plate, a great Syrah wine, Mushroom ravioli in a cheese sauce, and a tofu steak marinated in an asian influenced, sesame sauce with roasted vegetables. It was a really great meal, but the portions were pretty small so we were still hungry after!

Day 4 – Porto

Today for lunch we ended up at Café Majestic. No doubt a touristy spot, but really good food nonetheless. I had a great sandwich – just typical vegetarian – multi grain bread, an amazing thinly sliced cheese, tomato, lettuce and shredded carrots. It felt really good to eat something nice and “normal” for lunch. My husband ordered a tomato & cheese omelette – which was pretty good but take note – the eggs in Portugal don’t taste like the eggs in the US – they actually look different too – the yolks are much more yellow – almost like a mustard color vs. the yolks in the US.

For dinner, we had two great veggie options – Sitar – an Indian restaurant across the river with the typical Indian fare – channa masala, veggie samosas, mixed veggie curry, saag paneer, etc. The second was a Thai place – Real Thai – with over 10 different vegetarian dishes – all good!  We chose Sitar for dinner, and kept Real Thai for lunch the next day. The food at Sitar was very tasty – but very very oily! However, at that point I was craving something other than bread and cheese so I didn’t mind it as much, and just tried to temper my portions accordingly.

We also did wine tasting at Sandman and Calem – amazing port wines (they don’t serve food but definitely check out the Port tasting at these two wineries!)

Day 5 – Porto & Barcelona

We started our day with lunch at Real Thai – I had a tofu & veggie stir fry and my husband had a veggie / tofu curry. Both were really good – not too spicy and TONS of veggies! It was a really well balanced meal and a good way to start the day. Then we visited

Then we visited Vinologia – a wonderful port wine tasting shop in the heart of Porto. The cool thing about this place is they serve you various dried fruits and chocolates to pair with the wines which makes the experience a lot more fun!

We headed to Barcelona in the evening, and while searching for a vegetarian restaurant, we came across The BioCenter. This place was AMAZING. It’s an organic, all vegetarian restaurant where the menu changes daily. The prix fixe on Fri & Sat is only 15 euros per person and includes 4 very filling, amazing courses! We had a pureed vegetable soup – very flavorful and warming; a seaweed, spinach, sunflower seeds, cucumber, carrot, and pepper salad with a mustard vinagarette; tofu and squash “balls” – baked in the oven and served with couscous & a curry sauce; and a seitan steak which my husband loved. For dessert, we had a baked apple and a vegan chocolate cake – delicious! They also make fresh juices here – which I’d highly recommend trying!

Day 6 – Barcelona

For lunch, we headed to this organic bakery called Artesia. We each had a freshly prepared sandwich with inventive ingredients – for me: a nut & raisin bread sandwich with tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives, fresh sheep cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette. For him: a nut & raisin bread sandwich with goat cheese, spinach, caramelized onions and honey. Both were grilled in a Panini press and served hot – so good!

For dinner, we visited L’Hortet – another all vegetarian restaurant near our hotel. However, this place didn’t seem very tourist friendly – both of our waitresses got irritated with us for not being able to speak Spanish, and one ended up just refusing to serve us at the end because we weren’t Spanish. This was definitely more of a “local” veggie joint – and while the food was pretty good: We had a margherita pizza with a whole wheat crust, a wonderfully fresh salad with lots of veggies, and a tofu noodle stir fry; the service (or lack thereof) left us feeling dissatisfied with this restaurant. It was good in terms of getting veggie food, but if you care about ambiance, service and a general feeling of being welcome in a restaurant – I definitely wouldn’t recommend this place.

For dessert, we found a great gelato place – one of hundreds that line the streets of Barcelona. So good and refreshing on a hot summer night!

Day 7 – Barcelona

Today we went to the Picasso museum – and on the way back stumbled across a fresh, mostly vegetarian buffet called Fresc Co. It was an all you can eat salad bar that also had soups, pizzas, pastas and prepared dishes; along with free drinks, fresh fruit, dessert and tea/coffee! It was a great find and made for a healthy and light lunch.

For dinner we went to Bar Lobo – amazing tapas place with tons of veggie options! The ambiance in this restaurant is also amazing – it feels like someone’s loft but also has an upscale/elegant vibe. We had pita & hummus (which was freshly made with olive oil), patas bravas (potatoes sautéed with a yummy sauce), a veggie stir fry, and a flatbread with tomatoes, walnuts and cheese. They also had great wines, and served a house bread complementary that was whole grain, freshly baked, and really good!

Day 8 – Barcelona

Lunch today was on the go – we were doing a walking tour of the Gaudi sights, so we didn’t have time to find a good place to sit down and eat. We ended up at a Panini place and had asparagus, caramelized onions and manchego cheese paninis, which actually turned out to be really good!

For dinner, we visited our staple – The BioCenter – had their veggie soup again (which tasted different because each day the veggies they use are different!), a carrot and lemon smoothie, a tofu stir fry with whole grain cous cous, and a raw veggie lasagna – all really good!

Day 9 – Barcelona & Granada

Lunch in Barcelona at Artesia again – I had the 9 grain bread with sheep cheese, onions and honey – definitely good. One thing we learned is when we found a few restaurants that worked for us – we’d just go back and order something different on the menu. This is obviously not necessary if you’re not vegetarian but it really helped us!

Dinner in Granada – was more of a sustenance dinner… we were starving and it was 10pm – so we went to one of the more touristy eateries near our hotel. The dinner did turn out to be pretty good though – vegetable paella with lots of different veggies and a veggie pizza. Not the best, but I had stopped by the market and gotten an apple and cherries so that balanced our meal a little more.

Day 10 – Granada

Today we found a tiny smoothie & sandwich shop called Greens & Berries – we had a wonderful lunch there. I had a smoothie made with just berries, apples and bananas; my husband had one made with pineapples, oranges, coconut and banana – both were excellent. We also had sandwiches made fresh on whole grain bread, with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and arugula. Really tasty, healthy and filling!

For dinner, we went to Chile Grande Cantina Mexicana – probably the only Mexican restaurant in all of Granada – and happened to be SUPER veggie friendly! Their veggie “filling” is very hearty – a combination of pinto beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, peppers, bean sprouts and carrots. This is what came as the filling in the veggie enchiladas and soft tacos we ordered. Additionally, both dishes were served with vegetarian refried beans, lettuce, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, sautéed corn and cheese. It ended up being a very healthy meal and a nice change from all the bread & cheese we’d been eating! This restaurant also has a great veggie burger that is made onsite – from beans and other veggie ingredients.

Day 11 – Granada

For lunch we just stopped by a cafe and ordered a small sandwich and tea. We walked around the town and found two other good vegetarian options: Raices – which is an all vegetarian restaurant and Restaurant Meknes – a Moroccan restaurant with tons of veggie options and wonderful teas! We wanted to go to Raices for dinner, but when we got there at 7:30 we found out they didn’t open until 9pm! (Take note – this happens a lot in Spain – restaurants will close from 4pm-8pm or 9pm and most grocery stores may be closed during this time too!) So since our Mexican restaurant was near Raices, we just ended up eating there instead because we were too hungry to wait until 9pm for dinner 🙂

Day 12 – Seville

For lunch we stopped by a roadside café, to just get something small to hold us over – we ended up sharing a vegetarian tortellini which (surprisingly) was very tasty! For dinner, we went to Habanita – a tapas style restaurant with a full vegetarian menu. We ordered a black bean, cheese and plantain dip, veggie nuggets with an interesting dipping sauce, and ratatouille. Overall it was a pretty good dinner.

Day 13 – Seville

After a walk through the city, Centro Ecologico Gaia was where we ended up for lunch. This place was also amazing and rivaled the Bio Center from Barcelona! We had a cream of vegetables soup (which was actually pureed vegetables – no cream added) and a tofu “steak” with two types of tofu and sautéed vegetables. We also had sweet veggie croquettes (walnuts, oats, cinnamon, etc) tasted kind of like churros / cinnamon sticks. Great wine, TONS of veggie options – it was hard to choose! They give a wonderful bread basket with whole grain breads to start. Everything is organic & locally sourced; they also have a huge health food store next door with lots of yummy eats. Open for lunch & dinner except Sundays.

Dinner was at Aladdin – a Mediterranean restaurant on Santa Maria Blanca. Their falafel is AMAZING, probably the best I’ve ever tasted. They also have a great Mediterranean style salad called the Aladdin (tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, olives & herbs with freshly cut cheese – into mini cubes – on top). No dressing, served with salt pepper & olive oil on the side. The owner is also really nice and they’re open on Sundays which is very helpful (because many restaurants are closed on Sundays too!).

Day 14 – Seville

We had lunch at this Italian place on Santa Maria Blanca called Ristorante Pizzeria Mario – they had tons of veggie options, it was all Italian which looked great. We ordered a margherita pizza and spinach/cheese ravioli. The food would have been excellent, but when it came out it looked like they dumped a cup of olive oil over both the pizza and the pasta! Needless to say, I didn’t eat much, it was just way too oily – kind of a disappointment especially since the food would have been really tasty without the oil.

Dinner was lower key, at Aladdin. Ordered falafel again – so good!

Day 15 – Madrid

Lunch at La Galette – super cute restaurant with a French vibe, the wait staff doesn’t speak English but the owner came out to serve us and take our order himself! He was AWESOME – super nice and friendly and not at all hostile to foreigners. The menu at La Galette is very inventive – they have a huge vegetarian menu – we ordered the lentil soup (amazing), apple croquettes – also very good but more like dessert, and a veggie “burger” which turned out to be very creative – a bundle of rice, lentils, shredded carrots, and zucchini, wrapped in a cooked large leaf of chard, and topped with melted cheese. It was actually very tasty and flavorful – served like two “patties” with no bun. Really creative! The sangria there was also really good – light and retained the flavor of the wine it was made with. They also serve you carrot sticks with a wonderful cream cheese blend and bread as a starter – overall it was an excellent meal.

Dinner at Yerba Buena – definitely the most “high flown” veg food we had the entire trip – dishes with paragraph descriptions, very creative, excellent presentation. We had jalapeno “poppers” and a vegetable puree soup to start which were both amazing. The restaurant also presented us with an “aperitif” – homemade guac & a green shot – I think it was made from spinach. Both were really tasty and very good. Our entrees weren’t as good as our appetizers. I ordered a wheat tortilla stuffed with veggies in a rice & cheese sauce, and my husband ordered a seitan / tofu curry – which ended up being more like  tofu pork chop. Both the entrees were ok but were extremely large portions and super filling (without being amazingly tasty). For dessert, we ordered a chocolate cup & digestive tea – both were excellent. With the check, we were served a box of candies/mints. All in all a pretty satisfying meal – I would recommend focusing on their appetizers and other small plates vs. the entrees.

Day 16 – Heathrow Airport (again)

On the trip back, I had a HUGE delay at Heathrow airport – I was sitting there for over 5 hours. In that time, I decided to stock up on a bunch of healthy eats before I boarded the plane – so I wouldn’t be left hungry and have to resort to plane food / plane snacks which are pretty high in calories & fat. I visited EAT again and picked up two small salads, a fruit cup, a vegetarian sandwich with cheese on whole wheat bread, and a greek yogurt. I also ordered tea to hold me over while I waited. The snacks / food worked wonderfully on the plane as a few small meals until I landed in SFO.

And that’s it! Now I’m back and will be blogging a lot more frequently than before 🙂 I wanted to share a couple of final tips before I end this post on how to eat healthily when you’re traveling:

  • Find a market that has fresh fruits and veggies. We found tons all across Spain & Portugal – they had these open air markets that were just amazing. We picked up fresh fruits there daily, and always had them on hand for a healthy snack or to add some extra fiber into our diet (if we happened to eat a little less “healthy” that day)
  • Walk! If you’re in a city where it’s easy to travel on foot – take advantage of it. You’ll burn off anything “extra” you eat and that’ll also allow you to indulge in the local delicacies more! It’s also a lot more fun to see foreign cities on foot – we had an awesome time exploring and really felt like we got the “feel” for each city we were in because we just walked everywhere.
  • Take a few energy bars and high fiber cereal to snack on – these make for great portable snacks and work as a meal replacement if you’re stuck somewhere and the only thing to eat is oily pizza or fast food.

With these tips, you’ll be all set for a trip with wonderful food, lots of activity and feeling great when you return (instead of feeling like you have to lose the 20 lbs you gained while you were on vacation!) I had an amazing time on my trip, and I hope these tips and suggestions were helpful to any of you traveling to the same cities! Happy eating 🙂

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Super Healthy Kale Chips!

A couple of days ago, my dad sent me this recipe he found online for Kale Chips. Kale is one of those “powerhouse” foods that is always talked about, but isn’t a “staple” in our diets. This recipe makes it a lot easier to eat Kale on a regular basis! Below is the recipe, and some additional info about the health benefits of Kale 🙂 Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of kale
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (I’d start with one and add more if needed)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced (I love garlic so I’d probably add more here!)
  • Sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Rinse kale in a salad spinner
  3. Remove dark ribs and chop kale roughly
  4. Put leaves in a big bowl, toss with olive oil, garlic and salt
  5. Spread leaves on a one large rimmed baking sheet. Kale does not need to be in a single layer,as it will shrink in volume as it cooks.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice while it’s cooking, and until leaves are tender, crisp on edges and slightly browned
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving

Health benefits of Kale

  • High in fiber
  • Excellent source of vitamin A, K, C and calcium
  • Low in calories
  • Cancer-fighting antioxidants
  • Aids in heart and cardiovascular health
  • Vitamin E rich leafy greens slow loss of mental function, prevent dementia
  • Protection against arthritis
  • And much more! Read more about kale here

Enjoy!

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Misleading “Diet” Foods!

Happy new year everyone! With the new year comes lots of new resolutions to get healthier, lose weight, eat better, etc. – which is great! Unfortunately, a lot of people get misled by unfair marketing from food companies – promoting their products as super healthy when they actually aren’t! So what’s a health-conscious consumer to do?

I came across an article this morning from Fitness Magazine that’s actually really helpful in debunking the “myths” behind certain diet foods. The original article is here – and my summary is below. Hope this is helpful in allowing you to be successful for your new years health goals!

10 Diet Foods that aren’t actually healthy!

  1. Flavored Yogurt (e.g. Yoplait Original Flavored Yogurt): Flavored yogurt has over 30g of sugar per serving! Not to mention, about 200 calories. Opt for non-fat Greek Yogurt and stir in a Tbsp of honey, maple syrup, etc.
  2. Sugar-free Cookies: the sad thing here is, when they take out the sugar, they add more fat to make up for it! Sugar free does not mean “calorie-free” – and many times the sugar-free versions have as many calories as their full-sugar counterparts! Instead, have a 100 calorie pack, or just ONE regular small cookie (moderation is better than eating fake food!)
  3. Trail Mix: The unfortunate thing here is, food companies ruin the nutritional value of trail mix by deep frying the banana chips and covering raisins, almonds, etc with partially hydrogenated oils! (basically, adding trans fats). When you look at the ingredients on a trail mix package, “oil” should not be one of them. Fortunately, stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods offer very healthy packaged trail mixes, or you can make your own by buying roasted almonds, raisins, other nuts, etc and mixing your own. Keep in mind though, that nuts still contain a lot of calories and fats (even if it’s good calories/fats) – so stick to a 1/2 cup serving at most when you eat it!
  4. Veggie Chips: Chips are chips – no matter whether they were once a healthy veggie, once they end up in that plastic, sealed bag, they have been deep fried and have lost most of their nutritional value. Veggie chips are basically potato chips in disguise. Instead, opt for baked potato chips or tortilla chips – and stick to only a handful as a serving!
  5. Granola: The word “granola” automatically seems healthy, doesn’t it? Sadly, it isn’t. Granola usually has tons of added sugars and fats (the oats are usually tossed with a sugary syrup before they are baked to give them a sweet flavor). One cup can have up to 560 calories and 28g of fat (without milk!). My rule for granola is – stay away from it. Eat high fiber tasty cereals instead. And if you really love granola so much that you can’t give it up, sprinkle only ONE Tbsp of it over yogurt or oatmeal.
  6. Sushi: Regular sushi with the basics (fish, rice, seaweed, veggies) is usually a good choice. However, many restaurants have tempura sushi – which is basically battered, deep fried meat or veggies wrapped in seaweed. Stay away from that! Instead opt for nigiri, sashimi or cucumber/veggie rolls.
  7. Smoothies: Ah, Jamba Juice. Juice seems so healthy right?? Wrong. Juice oftentimes can have as much sugar as soda! And smoothies that are made with ice cream, frozen yogurt, syrups, granola, etc can pack 500-1000 calories per drink! If you love smoothies, make your own at home with frozen berries, a banana, 1/2 cup low fat milk or soy milk, and 2 tsp honey. That way you’ll get your full serving of fruit without the extra calories!
  8. Diet Drinks: For some reason, diet drinks have been linked to obesity. Studies show that people who consume diet drinks are more likely to gain weight than people who don’t. I don’t quite understand this connection, but there are tons of articles out there about it. Opt for a drink with 3 parts sparkling water and 1 part juice instead.
  9. Fat Free Salad Dressing: From a calories standpoint, this isn’t a bad option (usually these types of dressings are low in calories and have a similar taste to their full fat counterparts – which should definitely be avoided!) The issue is, that without healthy oils in your salad, you won’t be able to absorb the nutrients from it! You can make your own dressing with heart healthy olive oil (2 tsp olive oil, 1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegarette, minced garlic to taste)
  10. Ground Turkey/Chicken: I basically stay away from meat, but if you do like meat – don’t eat ground turkey or chicken – which often contain fat & skin! The key here is to look at labels and make sure that the meat you’re buying has only 1g fat and no saturated fat per serving.

Hope this info is helpful! Thanks Fitness Magazine for the great article!

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