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bigstock-Food-Nutrition-Facts-69428542by Angela Aladjem RD, LD

Every March, we celebrate National Nutrition Month. This is a monthlong educational campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The theme for this year is “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle.” This encourages everyone to adopt eating and exercise plans that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making good, informed food choices, and getting in daily physical activity in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, which also reduces the risk of chronic disease while promoting overall health.

What exactly does that mean? There are some key factors that play into your daily food consumption.

Know your needs: Age, gender, body type, and activity level, health concerns all factor into what food choices you should be making each day. Talk with A Dietitian or work with an online platform such as www.sparkpeople.com to help you figure out how much you should be eating and what are the best and worst foods for you and your needs.

Read the facts: The nutrition facts label can be very telling about what a product contains and whether or not it is good for you or not. Often times, the healthiest foods, like an apple (or other produce) do not come in a package, and therefore have no nutrition facts. However, if you pick up a packaged food, focus not only on the nutrition facts panel, but make sure you glance at ingredients as well. The order the ingredients are listed can be telling. The first ingredient, is the primary ingredient, while the last would be the least in the product. So if sugar is first, it is likely something you should think twice about. And ask yourself how you feel about eating ingredients you aren’t familiar with or can’t pronounce. The closer to natural, the better the food.

Get moving: Even taking 3, 10 minute walks a day, away from your desk, can help get you closer to your 150 minute per week goal. Try not to sit for longer than one hour at a time, as studies have shown that this can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Try wearing an activity tracker, even if just a simple pedometer to help you track your activity and set new goals.

Taking a Bite out of a healthy lifestyle, in the end, means choosing small steps over time to get you toward a healthier, happier you. Keep checking back monthly for new tips to help you on your path!

 

In health, Angela

 

bigstock-Vegetable-and-beans-stew-66530068by Angela Aladjem RD, LD

This year, the Department of Health and Human Services will reissue some dietary guidelines for Americans. The last time they ruled out advice, the pyramid changed to the plate. You may not realize it, but the guidelines that are issued can affect a number of things, including the school lunch program and food labeling.

Some of the changes to be expected are recommendations on limiting added sugar in order to reduce empty calories, reducing salt intake to below current recommendations to protect heart health, limiting caffeine during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage, and finally, to reduce red and processed meat consumption.

This time of year with cooler weather and the Superbowl; chili can be a warming, comforting, crowd-pleasing dish. There are a ton of variations out there, both using meat or vegetarian. With the new guidelines coming down the pike, I thought I would share a meatless version to give you a headstart on implementing the guidelines into your diet. The benefits to going with the vegetarian version are an increase in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while decreasing the fat and cholesterol.

This recipe is adapted from RachaelRay.com. It is easy to throw together and requires little time hands-on. The leftovers will also freeze well. She recommends using roasted tomatoes to add depth and a smoky flavor. You can either serve this as is or over rice. I would definitely have shredded cheese and/or avocado slices to add flavor.

Vegetarian Crockpot Chili

Ingredients:

3 stalks of celery, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of cannellini beans, drained
1 can of kidney beans, drained
1 teaspoon of cumin Salt and pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
1, 15 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups of water

Directions:
Place the veggies, beans, tomatoes, cumin, tomato paste, salt, and pepper in the crockpot. Add in the water and bay leaves. Stir. Cook on High for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Remove the bay leaves to serve. Serve warm and garnish as desired. Enjoy!


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My Plate

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