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April 30, 2015

Skinny Recipe Round Up: Plan a Healthy Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

Chicken Fajitas

While it may not be an official American holiday, Cinco de Mayo is certainly celebrated every 5th of May with “mucho” enthusiasm for Mexican inspired food. Unfortunately, a lot of those dishes can run high in calories and sodium –making quite a dent in your pre-summer diet plans.

My friend Lauren from the blog Stevia Benefits, pulled together some healthy guilt-free  remakes of classic Cinco de Mayo party foods for you to serve at your fiesta. I hope you enjoy these recipe round ups! Share your favorite Cinco de Mayo recipe in the comments.

Crockpot Lime Chicken Fajitas

fajitasTypical fajitas can be well over 1,000 calories, depending on how you top them off. Try this recipe adapted from DashingDish to cut down on oil, sugar, and fat. It’s so light, flavorful and easy to make, you’ll want to make it year round! (Recipe and Image via DashingDish)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa or pico de gallo
  • 1.5 lb (or about 4-5) Chicken breasts
  • 1 pkt of sweetener of choice (optional)
  • 2 tbs Fajita seasoning 1
  • 2 tbs Lime juice
  • 3 Bell peppers (color of choice)
  • 1 medium Onion

Optional:

  • 4 Low carb flour or corn tortillas OR lettuce wraps.
  • Diced tomatoes, green onions, low fat Greek yogurt, shredded lettuce for topping

Cooking instructions

6dd4d1d48b4604c086add6703686d52950635109Skinny Margarita

Try our skinny Ruby ‘Rita for a twist on the traditional lime-based margarita. Save the calories and sugar – this margarita is fresh, homemade, and much skinnier than its original counterpart.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Raspberry Zinger tea
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 packet Stevia In The Raw®
  • 2 teaspoon Triple Sec, Cointreau or other citrus liqueur
  • 1 ½ ounces Blue Agave tequila
  • Chilled martini glass, optionally salt-rimmed
  • 1 thin lime slice, for garnish, optional

Mixing Instructions and Nutritional Information

There are lots of “skinny” variations you can do one your own like blackberry and blue margaritas. You can’t go wrong!

Baked Tortilla Chips

Oh those delicious crispy triangles –how we all love them with salsa, guacamole, and queso. But the kinds that you get at the store or at the restaurant are both really full of fat and salt. Make these yourself and enjoy with less guilt –even less if you skip the salt. Recipe via EatingWell.

Ingredients

  • 8, 5- to 6-inch corn tortillas
  • Canola oil cooking spray

*Optional:1/4 teaspoon cracked sea salt

Cooking Instructions

Other Lighter Tex-Mex Inspired Recipes:

Salsa Fresca
Mini Mexican Pizzas
Quick and Healthy Black Beans & Rice
Avocado-Free Guacamole
Baked Churros

And don’t forget to plan some outdoor activities to burn some calories while having fun!

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April 29, 2015

Making Sense Out of Sugars

Making Sense Out of Sugars

Sugar- Free? Are You Sure about That?

Cruising the internet the other day, I ran across a recipe for “Sugar-Free Apple Pie Filling.” I was instantly suspicious.  The recipe’s ingredients listed no white sugar, but did include a can of 100% pure unsweetened apple juice concentrate.  Apple juice is naturally loaded with sugar.  So, the pie recipe was not even close to sugar-free.  In fact, the pie filling had more sugar in it than if it had been sweetened with 2/3 cup white sugar instead of the apple juice concentrate.

I’m sure the person who posted the recipe wasn’t trying to be misleading.  It’s just that sorting out labels like sugar-free, natural sugar, and added sugars can be a sticky business.

So, without any sugar-coating, here’s a look at what sugars are … and what they’re not.

The Basics

The sugars that we tend to hear about most often include glucose, fructose, sucrose, and lactose.  Glucose and fructose are the simplest forms of sugar and are found in equal parts in sucrose (usually consumed as table sugar).   Lactose is milk sugar and contains glucose.

Sugar isn’t Fat

All sugars are classified as carbohydrates — a nutrient category that includes starches and fiber.  High sugar foods like candy, cakes, pies, and cookies are often labeled fattening which means high in calories.  But, fattening should not be confused with fat.  Chemically, sugar is not a fat anymore than an orange is a stick of butter.

Some people insist that even though sugar isn’t a fat, it automatically turns to fat once it is inside your body. That’s simply not true.  It is true that if you overconsume calories in the form of sugar, you can end up storing those excess calories as fat, but the same thing goes for overconsuming calories from foods that are high in protein, starch, or fat.

What Qualifies as Sugar-Free?

The FDA defines sugar-free as having 0.5 grams sugar or less per serving. Fruits  and vegetables naturally contain glucose, fructose, and sucrose.  This means that it isn’t possible for a fruit pie filling, like apple, to be sugar-free even if no sweeteners are added. If a standard apple pie were cut into 8 slices, the apples  alone would contribute about 8 grams sugar per serving .

Natural Sugars

Natural sugars are found in many forms including honey, brown sugar, raw sugar, molasses, sucrose, fructose, natural maple syrup, and 100% fruit juice. From a nutrition standpoint, there’s no one sugar that’s better than another. Your body doesn’t care that honey was made by bees or that the maple syrup came from a tree.  Your body simply reacts to the sugars that are present.

Added Sugars

When any sugars are added to a food, even when they are natural sugars, they are counted as added sugars because they have been put in a food to enhance sweetness. Nutrition experts recommend limiting added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men. An excellent way to do this is to choose low or no-calorie sweeteners.  These sweeteners are not only sugar-free, but can be used for everything from sweetening beverages to baking.

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April 28, 2015

Quick Tip: Choose Healthy Protein

Pick healthy protein sources like fish and beans, not burgers and hot dogs. Eating fish, chicken, beans, or nuts in place of red meat and processed meat can lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. So limit red meat—beef, pork, or lamb—to twice a week or less. Avoid processed meat—bacon, cold cuts, hot dogs, and the like—since it strongly raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer.

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