Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What type of sugar is best for you?

Welcome back to "Thinking Tuesday".  
Food, diet, and nutrition has become a world of myths, misconceptions, and utter confusion.  Am I right?  One day it's good to eat something and another day its not.  It can be frustrating to put it mildly.  
Mom, I just don't know what to think anymore!
Sugar is one area where I get asked a lot of questions.  Some sugars are marketed as "healthier" than other sugars. Do I believe that to be true? No.

Sugar is sugar.  Once it inside your body it is primarily converted to glucose for metabolic fuel. End of story.  
Does a $8 bottle of agave nectar shave inches off your waist when used in your fave chocolate chip cookie recipe????  What do you think? It doesn't.
Here's the not so sweet truth:
  • Sugar has 16 calories per teaspoon. 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon. 
  • Eating sugar won't make you gain weight, provided you don't exceed the amount of calories you need daily 
  • Sugar does have some negative effects.  Too much sugar in your diet can elevate the levels of fat in your blood and lower your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  • Your taste buds can't distinguish between naturally occurring sugars (an orange) and added sugars (an orange soda)
But I didn't need to tell you that sugar wasn't a pillar of good health. I'm trying to help you weed through the mess of sugar stories out there and get the truth.
1. Is honey healthier than sugar?
          - Honey contains a negligible amount of potassium, but has more calories than sugar. (21 calories per teaspoon vs. 16 for sugar).
2. Is agave nectar healthier than sugar?
          - Agave nectar is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, however it still contains calories. Simply because it is "less processed" and from a plant doesn't make it less of a sweet mess.  Agave sugar does have a lower glycemic index than sugar. The glycemic index determines how quickly carbohydrates are digested in your body. The more quickly they're digested, the quicker they get into your bloodstream and deliver a sugar rush that affects your blood sugar level. While sugar has a high glycemic index, the agave nectar glycemic index is low, meaning it won't impact your blood sugar as much. This can be especially important to diabetics.
3. Is maple syrup healthier than sugar?
            - Maple syrup costs significantly more than sugar and has a high glycemic index.
4. Is brown rice syrup healthier than sugar?
             - Brown rice syrup has a low glycemic index but may still spike blood sugar due to maltose.
5. Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup healthier than sugar?
            - Well this one really depends on who you ask.  I'm not going to take on the HFCS machine.  I will say that I personally avoid HFCS at all costs simply because it's very processed and contains "high levels of fructose".
So what's the point??? I don't know!  I'm not the final authority on all things food related.  I'm just presenting facts.  Facts that might help you make a better food choice down the line.  Facts that might help you think twice when someone says their granola bar is "healthy" because it was made with honey.

For me personally I try to limit my added sugar intake and avoid high fructose corn syrup.

What's your take on this sweet situation?

Love and sweet tooths,
Carissa & Kyle

If you're new to Thinking Tuesday you can catch up here:week 1 hereweek 2 hereweek 3week 4week 5, week 6.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or an RD (yet). I'm simply presenting facts.  This research was from my Nutrition & Me book at I used in my Principles of Nutrition class.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Healthy Egg Muffins

Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day, right?
And it is often the meal given the least amount of attention on a busy weekday morning.

Don't skimp on the am meal friends!  Numerous studies have shown that those who eat a regular, 400 calorie ish breakfast lose more weight and keep it off compared to their breakfast skipping couterparts.
Your body has been fasting all day and you need nutrients (and a big glass of H2O) to get your metabolism back on track.
Ideally, breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day!  Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a queen, and dinner like a pauper.  
Kyle as the King- Halloween 2009
Morning's can be crazy so this week I whipped up these baked egg muffins for Kyle to grab on his way out the door.  We have been going smoothie crazy for breakfast lately..which is find...but I wanted a breakfast with less sugar and more biologically available protein.

Enter the baked egg muffin! Bake on Sunday night, portion, and enjoy throughout the week.  They will stay a week in the fridge and can be frozen too.  Microwave and munch!
This batch I made fairly basic.  There's no limit to the veggies, cheese, and meat you could add. Some of mine turned out "hollow" on the inside.  After I was done with the batter I added extra liquid egg whites and I think that was the culprit.  Stick to the ratios in the recipe for best results.
Creepy hollow egg.
Also I have heard that adding cayenne to eggs is a good thing.  It breaks down the mucus layer in the egg and makes it easier for your body to digest.  So don't be afraid to "spice it up!"
I used this base recipe I found at Kalyn's Kitchen.

Baked Egg Muffins:
12 eggs
3 green onions diced small.
Chopped veggies such as blanched broccoli, red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. (we used diced bell pepper)
Optional: diced Canadian bacon, lean ham, turkey bacon, or crumbled cooked turkey sausage
Optional: 1-2 cups grated low fat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Use regular or silicone muffin pan, 12 muffin size. If using silicone pan, spray with nonstick spray. If using regular muffin pan, put two paper liners into each slot, then spray liner with nonstick spray.

In the bottom of the muffin cups layer diced meat, if using, vegetables, if using, cheese and green onions. You want the muffin cups to be about 2/3 full, with just enough room to pour a little egg around the other ingredients. Break eggs into large measuring bowl with pour spout and beat well. Add 3T of nonfat milk and 1t cayenne pepper. Pour egg into each muffin cup until it is 3/4 full. Stir slightly with a fork. Bake 25-35 minutes until muffins have risen and are slightly browned and set.

Other great breakfast to-go options are smoothies, gluten free protein bars, overnight oats, or oatmeal blobs. (sharing that recipe SOON!)

What's your favorite fast breakfast option?

Love and scrambles,
Carissa & Kyle

What I Ate Wednesday v13.0- Diet Sabotage

Traitor! I call a saboteur!  Today was a full out assault!  A diet sabotage!
It is What I Ate Wednesday.  My favorite blogging day of the week and I will share with you the sad tale of diet sabotage that occurred against me today.
I realize that I do not need to go on a "diet"...HOWEVER...I have had my fair share of indulgences over the last 2 weeks. (anniversary, Magical dining month, Gator games). 
Plus the fall is the start of "fun" season; birthday, football, fall, thanksgiving, holiday.  It's all downhill from here folks.  I DO NOT want to buy new jeans,so today was my day to "eat clean" and watch my indulgences.
Welp, that didn't happen.  Epic fit blogger fail.  Here's my "fit blogger" journal.  Judge away.  Yes, I ate all this. On a Tuesday.

8am- woke up late.  Banana + soy milk + 1 scoop dessert protein
10am - Pumpkin Spice Cupcake
1130am - Cedar's chickpea mix, roasted veggies, 1/2 cup quinoa
130pm - Thai food with Amber. (love you girl!)  All the way to the Thai place I thought about "healthy" Thai options.
Stop taking blog pics! :)
 "Get the ginger chicken", I told myself.  
"What would you like?", asks the waitress.
"Red curry chicken. Medium", hangs head in shame.
My whole lunch.  JK.
I came home fully resolute to have a 100% healthy salad for dinner.

3pm- Grapefruit
Look how committed I was.  I was hungry, but I ate a grapefruit.  I blogged.  I did work...then came the phone call.
Husband, "I have to go to 'World of Beer' with my boss tonight.  It's his birthday."
Me - "ok"
Husband-"Do you want to go?"
Me - Silence.
Husband - "What if someone picks you up?"
Me - "I gotta go run."

So I ran a "swifty" 3 miles with 4 thirty second sprints in the last mile to boot.  8:45 average mile pace.

645pm - Post run Pumpkin spice cupcake.  I'm weak as they come.
7pm- Green Giant Healthy Weight frozen veggies - black beans, edamame, carrots. I was trying.
Welcome to World of Beer.  Where all your dreams come true and your jeans never fit.  They had PUMPKIN ALE! What creepy evil diet muse planned this?  I had been dreaming about pumpkin ale for a solid week...and that can feel like forever.
So I had my first pumpkin ale.  I'll have salad tomorrow right?
Hello gorgeous Pumpkin Ale. We meet at last.
It was awesome. My diet was sabotaged by the best friends....and I guess that's okay.  We all have days that life throws us off track.  My life isn't measured by what I weigh.  I work out hard, I run, I live.  Those are the things that matter. Right?
A tale of 2 Carissa's.
What do you do on days when you feel like you "eat bad"?

Love and social pumpkin ale drinking butterflies,
Carissa & Kyle

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Skinnytaste Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I just made the best cupcakes EVER!  True story.
It's fall so I am in love with cooking, baking, bathing....with pumpkin!
If I could wear pumpkin colored scrubs to school I would..just because it would make me happy!

As part of our anniversary dinner last night I wanted a tasty, healthy dessert.  Pumpkin spice cupcakes have been on my mind ever since Courtney at Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life whipped some up last week.

Gina at Skinnytaste stole my heart, however with these super easy, delicious healthy pumpkin spice cupcakes.  They took me 5 minutes to whip together and they tasted amazing!
To her recipe I added 2 scoops of Dessert Vanilla protein powder, 1T cinnamon, and a few grates of fresh nutmeg. She has a frosting recipe, but the cake was so good..almost muffin like...that I didn't want the extra calories.  Each cupcake has on 84 calories BTW! (without the protein powder)
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes:

  • 18.25 oz Betty Crocker Golden Vanilla Super Moist Cake Mix
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice + 1T cinnamon + fresh grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 scoops Lean Dessert protein powder vanilla (optional)
For the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz Philadelphia 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 tbsp packed brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers.

Combine cake mix and pumpkin spice in a large bowl. Add pumpkin puree and water, mix about 2 minutes. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake about 20 minutes.

Gina has some beautiful, festive pics of these cupcakes on her page so be sure to check them out!  I'm a good cook...average, lazy photographer!
Speaking of the great pumpkin here are some other fab pumpkin recipes:
- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- Pumpkin Overnight Oats
- Pumpkin oatmeal muffins

Love and great gourds,
Carissa & Kyle

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another Full Body Hotel Workout

Working out when traveling is hard.  It's hard to find motivation, it's hard to work with different equipment....well... GET OVER IT!  Nobody said being fit and healthy was easy! :)

I've written several posts on eating and staying fit while traveling.  Check out this one on healthy travel food.

This week I traveled with instant oatmeal, Mila, Goji berries, apples, a Go Picnic Gluten Free snack box, tuna, Think Thin protein bars, and chocolate soy milk.  Thank goodness I packed so much.  My company is AMAZING and feeds us well and frequent, however gluten free and clean eating choices are slim.  I'm happier with the healthy foods I usually eat.

I did enjoy an ice cream sundae tonight.  Oh man it was good!  Vanilla with hot fudge, oreos, and sprinkles.  See ya cake, I want a sundae on my birthday!
Between training and our team dinner tonight I got in a full body workout and a 1 mile jog.  Here's what it looked like:
SuperSet 1:

  • Leg extension 2x15
  • Heavy DB squat - 50lbs - 2x10
  • Stationary jump lunge 2x10 each leg
  • Straight arm pulldown on cable machine (for lats) - 2x18
SuperSet 2:
  • Standing heavy DB press 2x12
  • Split lunge with DB isometric hold overhead 2x12 each leg
  • Bicep cable straight bar curl 2x8
  • Burpees 2x8
SuperSet 3:
  • Plank hold with DB tricep extension 2x10 each arm
  • DB squat swing 2x10 each side
  • V-ups 2x15
1 mile run at 9min pace to burn a few extra calories.  It was hard on my tired legs!
A few other coworkers of mine hit the gym and one girl ran sprints up the parking garage which I thought was a good idea.  When traveling, you've got to be creative.

How do you stay fit when you travel?

Love and jet lag,
Carissa & Kyle

Saturday, September 10, 2011

12 minute home plyometric workout

Last night I needed a workout.  I also needed to cross about 50 other things off my to-do list. By the time I could actually workout I had 15 minutes before I needed to get in the shower.

I considered my options. I could run 1+ mile of sprints or I could do plyometrics in the house.
Plyo meant less sweating and a little more muscle burn. I went for it.
It may have only been 12 minutes, but it was tough.  Next time you're in a fitness crunch give this at home workout a try.

12 Minutes of Plyo

-30 seconds of burpees
-30 seconds of jump squats
-15 pushups
-15 split squat jumps with the right foot in front
-15 split squat jumps with the left foot in front
-30 seconds of high knees running in place
-30 seconds of mountain climbers
-15 plank to push-ups on each arm (get in a plank on your elbow.  Push up to a push-up position starting with your right arm.  Come back down to your elbows then repeat starting with your left arm.  That equals one rep. This one works the shoulders and core.)
-30 seconds of the best pull-up effort you can give! (I did 7 pull-ups.  Then I jumped up and did negative pullups.  You could also do a flexed arm hang).
-10 hanging knee raises. (My fave ab move! Hang from the pull-up bar and curl your knees up)

And REPEAT!  Please enjoy the out of breath feeling you'll have...I know I did! :)
Random cat photo to round out the post!
Love and feeling the burn,
Carissa & Kyle

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What is healthy living?

What is healthy living?  

My blogger friend Lindsey wrote a great post about that topic and I wanted to talk about it too for today's Thinking Tuesday post.  
If you're new to Thinking Tuesday you can catch up here:week 1 hereweek 2 hereweek 3week 4, week 5.

What does healthy living mean to you?
I think sometimes people, especially women, can fall into a trap of trying to be "healthy" only to be skinny.  Or thinking that skinny means healthy. To me healthy is so so so much more.

When I was younger I was "skinny" but I didn't feel healthy.  I was always tired and I had to drag myself to the gym to do a measly 30 minutes on the elliptical.  My bed time was 2am and I was lucky to be out of bed by noon. (I did go into work at 330pm so don't judge tooooo much)
When I ran my first half marathon I began to feel what healthy was.  I had a pride that came from something that I did simply for myself, because it felt good.
Muddy Buddy Atlanta
When I met Kyle and started seriously lifting weights, I felt what healthy was.  Healthy felt strong.  Healthy felt energetic.  Healthy felt empowering.
yup, that's a Christmas tree in the back
Then I started my journey to become a registered dietitian and learn the science of food. Then healthy became my passion.
Clean eating + being active = healthy

But that's just what it means to me.
It means clean dinners.
It means meal planning.
It means heavy weights.
It means long runs.
But it also means...
It means treating myself.
It means indulging.
It means living.

What does healthy living mean to you?

Love and loving yourself,
Carissa & Kyle

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Arm-ageddon - Biceps & Tricep Workout

Get prepared for ARM-ageddon!  No Ben Affleck will not be present, but you'll have sexy, star-worthy arms!  Score!
I love the look of strong, toned arms.  That's one of my favorite transformations in myself over the past 3 years of high intensity strength training.
Get your the gun show...
Working with weights will not bulk you arms into "guns".  Women, as I've said before, lack the hormones to put on serious muscular size.  Heavy weights won't do it either.  Using heavier weights as you train is good to keep progressively challenging your muscles and making them work harder.

Here's the first of our series of arm workouts to give you earth-shatteringly awesome arms.  It's ARM-mageddon time. Note- these exercises use mainly free-weights which can be tricky to learn.  If you're brand new to strength training staying with machines.  Try our beginner workout.

Beginner Bi's and Tri's:
Perform each exercise in the superset 2 times. So you'd do move "A" then move "B" then move "A" then move "B"
SuperSet #1:
- Close Grip Bench Chest Press - keep hands close together to engage triceps - 12-15 reps
       - Here's the deal with pull-ups.  They're hard. I can only do 5.  If you can do em, do as many as you can.  If you have an assisted machine then use that, but focus on the "negative" part.  When you're coming back down.  Come down very slow to a 10 second count.  If you just have a bar then very carefully jump (or step up) to a pull up position and lower yourself down.  Basically only doing the negative or last half of the pull-up.  Make sense?
SuperSet #2:
- Straight bar bicep curls - 10-15
- Single Arm DB tricep kickbacks - 15 each arm
SuperSet #3:
- Alternating DB hammer curls - hold the DB as if you were hammering something on the ground- To failure each arm
- Overhead tricep extension - hold a single DB overhead and lower behind neck- 12-failure
SuperSet #4- The BURNOUT!
- Arm DB Combo - Sit on a bench. Using a single arm do a bicep curl, rotate up to a shoulder press, and finish with a tricep extension.  See photos.  Your triceps may reach failure before you bi's and shoulders so stop that move when you can't do anymore and finish the set.  12 reps or failure
- Close grip pushups - to failure

What do you think?   I say it's time to look for a new a lifeguard...cuz the beach is over ------> there! :)

Love and sweat,
Carissa & Kyle

Workout Recap:
SS #1:
- Close grip chest press
- Pull-ups
SS #2:
- Straight bar biceps curl
- Tricep kickback
SS #3:
- Hammer curls
- Overhead triceps extension
SS #4:
- DB curl/shoulder press/extension combo
- Close grip pushups