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There is something so renewing about the calendar striking January 1. I love to see the renewed interest around the gym filled with new people or just people that are more excited to work out again after the crazy of the holidays. The endcaps at the grocery stores clear of all the sugar, flour, baking chips, and syrups, while sparkling water, nuts, and healthy items take their place. The fit and healthy track is an easy one to jump and stay on for about 6-8 weeks  after the New Year. Why is it that after we attack the resolution of healthy with such zest, that we lose steam so soon after?

 

For the most part, people approach being healthier or losing weight with a little too much excitement. We pledge to never touch another sweet food or go to the gym for two hours a day six days a week. If you have been on a steady diet of holiday treats, pulling a 180 is going to be hard and leave you feeling deprived. And if you haven’t put on a tennis shoe since last February, your body is going to rebel in daily bootcamps. To be successful all year long, simplify. Adopt a new habit every week after you have successfully implemented another one. Here are a few things you can do to help make your first 10 weeks turn into the next ten months.

 

  1. Start small in fitness. Like I said earlier, if you haven’t worked out all year, or even for the past two months, let your body ease back in. Start with 30 minutes 3-4 days a week and build up from there to prevent injury so you can keep going.

  2. Pick an activity you like. This is said so often because it is so true. If you hate being outside and getting yelled at, outdoor bootcamp is probably not something you are going to drag yourself to often. Fitness should give you a good feeling, so find something you can look forward to everyday.

  3. Make ½ of your plate fruits or veggies. This is a simple way to eat less of what you shouldn’t and more of what you should. No measuring necessary!

  4. Make half of your grains whole grains. You don’t have to cut out carbs if you choose the right ones. Order a sandwich on multigrain bread, make brown or wild rice instead of white.

  5. Be on the sodium and sugar watch. Most processed foods can make life easy, but they add some unwanted things to the menu like extra salt and sugar. Be on the label lookout to make sure of the content.

  6. Up your H2O intake. Thirst and hunger cause the same feeling in your stomach. If you drink water, you aren’t drinking sugar-filled soda or juice. Keep a cup nearby all the time to help encourage you to consume it.

 

 

 

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Just like that, it is time to start thinking about the holidays. There will be parties, presents, and lots of food!  I am always looking to include something that is delicious and yet adds some sort of nutritional value to the table. Now that most of my gatherings include the children of loved ones, I also like to consider what a child would also be receptive to trying. There are so many variations on cereal based treats. They are easy to make, can incorporate many different flavors, and don’t require baking. Another plus is that you can actually involve kids in the process of creating by letting them measure ingredients, stir,  press them into a pan, or even form into shapes . This makes it perfect for getting family together for cookie baking and allowing everyone to take part.

 

This recipe uses nut butter and honey instead of marshmallows. You could easily use soynut or sunflower butter if you wanted them to be nut free. I used a brown rice cereal, similar to the popular crispy rice cereal we all know and love, but generally found in the “natural” section of the cereal aisle. Brown rice syrup could be used instead of honey if you need a vegan version.

 

Brown Rice Treats

 

Ingredients:

3 cups brown rice cereal

¼ cup no-stir peanut butter

1 tablespoon coconut oil

½ cup honey

1 tsp. Vanilla

 
  1. Line a 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper, letting some hang over the edge. This will help make removal super easy.

  2. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add the peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla, stirring until the peanut butter is melted and fully combined with the honey.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cereal until fully combined.

  4. Transfer the mixture to the lined pan and press with your hands (you can place another sheet of parchment over the mixture to keep your hands from getting sticky) to tightly pack the mixture into the pan.

  5. Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to cool before cutting and serving.

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe and your time with loved ones!

 

Happy ( Healthy) Holidays, Angela

 

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Ask people to choose a healthy breakfast, and, chances are, some are going to mention oatmeal. Oats are full of heart-healthy fiber which can help minimize our cholesterol and keep us fuller longer. High-fiber diets can also help reduce your risk of colon cancer. Obviously, we need to be reaching for this comforting grain in the morning, but, we need to take extra care when reading the labels of the most popular brands. One of the most popular choices is undoubtedly instant oat packets. They take just about a minute to cook up and usually come in flavors we love. But, the flavored packets undo all the health benefits of the grain by packing in salt, sugar, and, sometimes, artificial flavors. Most flavors have, on average, at least 3 teaspoons of added sugar!  

 Understandably, instant oats are the time-saver in the morning. But, instead of reaching for that box of packets at the store, get yourself a big container of old-fashioned or instant plain oats and make your own packets for the week. As a bonus, this can save you some money as well! All you have to do is put your ingredients in a sandwich bag, and when you want to use them, prepare as you would a store-bought packet: add water or milk and microwave for one minute (instant) to three minutes (for old-fashioned).

Here are a few combinations to try:

 

Apple-Cinnamon Oats:

½ cup oatmeal of choice

¼ tsp. cinnamon

2 tablespoons of chopped, dried apples

½ to 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional, and still less than the food companies are adding)

 

Cinnamon-Raisin Oats:

½ cup of oatmeal

¼ tsp. cinnamon

2 tablespoons of raisins

½ to 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional)

 

Banana-Nut Bread Oatmeal :

½ cup of oatmeal

¼ tsp cinnamon (can you tell , i love this spice)

2 tablespoons of chopped pecans or walnuts

2 tablespoons of dried banana chips

1 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional)

 

Elvis Oatmeal:

½ cup of oats

1 tablespoon of powdered peanut butter

2 tablespoons of dried banana chips

Optional teaspoon of sugar

 

I hope these serve as some breakfast inspiration!


In health, Angela

 

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Few things are as confusing as the research pertaining to our diet. Scientific evidence changes almost instantly it seems, leaving the general public constantly asking, “What should I eat?” It doesn’t help that the media gives too many “experts” a voice and opinions are so varied. In the past year, eggs have been a nutrition hot topic again. They say we can put them back on the table, but what does this mean and for whom? Eggs are indeed a high source of dietary cholesterol, but they are also a great source of protein, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin D (which are great for your health). Let’s examine some of the new evidence.

New research is suggesting (that is the key word) that it is not so much dietary cholesterol as much as the mix of fats that can raise your blood levels of cholesterol. In most healthy individuals, moderate egg consumption (an egg a day) can be part of your diet and have little effect. Bottom line: if you are healthy, have no issue with cholesterol or your blood sugar, or your weight, it is okay to consume eggs in moderation.

On the other hand, if you have issues controlling your LDL or have diagnosed diabetes, you may want to rethink a daily egg at breakfast. Research has demonstrated, consistently through the years, that heart disease was increased in people with diabetes that consume whole eggs. A whole egg will still have more fat and calories than an egg white or even two, so if you are watching your weight, be aware of the choice. If you have any of these issues, the guideline is still to limit your egg yolk consumption to no more than three a week.

All in all, moderate egg consumption is safe, but if you go beyond that, you may be at risk for heart failure later in life. Also, be aware of what you eat with your eggs. If you have bacon and fried potatoes, you are adding to the fat load of the meal. Pair eggs with healthy grains, vegetables, or fruit to make it a healthy, well-balanced meal.

I hope this clears some things up when it comes to eggs and your heart health.


Have a good month, Angela

 

 

 

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We all have familiar foods that we look forward to eating on special days of the year, such as on Thanksgiving. Your father may fry the turkey or your aunt may make a special green bean casserole. Many people balk at changing up tradition on these special days, but for the many of us that are now celebrating the holidays either away from our loved ones or with new families and friends, it can be worth looking for new ideas to mix up the line-up, especially if you are accommodating friends or relatives that have special dietary considerations such as a food allergy or are vegetarian.

I love suggesting adding flavorful vegetable side dishes to the table. They add key nutrition and can be easily made to fit different diet preferences. This dish is a nice, warm alternative to a salad, adds in a touch of sweet and is a little heartier than your average steamed vegetable side with the fruit and the nuts.  It is gluten free and vegan. You can make it with any leafy green, but I used swiss chard. If figs are not available, you could use raisins or currants.

Swiss Chard with Figs and Pine Nuts

Serves 4-6

2 pounds of swiss chard

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup of chopped, dried figs

¼ cup of pine nuts

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of salt

Black pepper, to taste

Wash the greens and cut off any tough stalks. Boil the greens in a saucepan of water until just tender. Drain thoroughly.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the figs and the pine nuts over moderate heat until the nuts are toasted and golden. Add the swiss chard and stir well. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat for another 3-4 minutes. Serve warm.

I hope you enjoy the kick off to the holiday season.

In health, Angela

 


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