Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nutrition Education: BMI



Guess what day it is?!

Today I am going to be starting a new segment called "Nutrition Education". I am going to be explaining topics such as Carbohydrates, BMI, My Plate, Fats, and more.

Today I will be focusing on BMI and how this applies to your life and how it will help you make decisions to better your health.



So what in the world is a BMI?

BMI stands for body mass index and it is calculated by your weight, height, age and sex. Using this information, it will put you in a category:

Underweight: BMI is less than 18.5                          
Normal: 18.5- 24.9                                              
Overweight: 25-29.9
Obese: 30+
Extremely Overweight: 40+


Here is a diagram that gives a visual about what you may look like at different levels of BMI:



So you may be asking yourself...how do I calculate these numbers for myself??

There are formulas, but for now it will probably be easiest to do it online.

I really like this calculator because not only does it give you your BMI, but it also gives you tips for maintaining/changing your BMI if necessary.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/bmi-calculator/itt-20084938 

So why am I telling you all of this?

BMI is more than just a simple formula, it can be a tremendous wake up call. Realizing that from a medical source that you are considered underweight or obese can be a life-saving tool that could keep you from being under serious medical attention down the road.

Tips:

  • If you have excess weight from muscles (ex: body builder) you may be considered overweight--don't let that scare you because the chart assumes that the excess weight is fat.
  • If you find that you are overweight or underweight--play around with the BMI calculator and see how far you are from reaching your weight goal. From there you may take steps such as changing your diet/ exercise plan (which we will talk about at a later time). 
  • Use this as encouragement if you like your results! If you don't like them, use it as motivation!


Thanks for Reading!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chipotle Chow Down



It sure has been a crazy Memorial Day weekend and I hope that you all got to enjoy it with your friends and family. (:

Today I will be talking about Chipotle and how to make smart decisions when choosing between all of the delicious foods there.


Okay, so pretty much any of my friends know that I have a slight obsession with this place. It is seriously just so good. It also has very high quality standards for how they obtain their products which is appreciative.

Find more information about how Chipotle raises their animals, gets their produce, and more here:
 http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/fwi/fwi.aspx

When you walk into Chipotle you will come up to something that looks a little like a salad bar. The worker will begin to ask you what type of meal you would like to build.

Your Choices Include:

  • Burrito
  • Burrito Bowl
  • Tacos
  • Salad
Plain and simple right?! A girl can dream.

You have to be a wee bit more specific with these people because there are so many options (which isn't always a bad thing). 

Meats
Beans
Rice
Toppings
Chicken
Steak
Sofritas 
Barbacoa
Carnitas
Vegetarian- Fajita Veggies
Black Beans
Pinto Beans
White Rice
Brown Rice
Fresh Tomato Salsa
Roasted-Chili Corn Salsa
Tomatillo Green Chili Salsa
Sour Cream
Cheese
Guacamole
Romaine Lettuce


First, let's talk protein:
  • You can get major protein from any of the meats (except vegetarian option) and the beans. 
  • Sofritas is a type of tofu served
  • Barbacoa is a type of shredded beef
  • Carnitas is a type of pork


Calories
Fat
Carbs
Protein
Chicken
180
7
0
32
Steak
190
6.5
2
30
Sofritas
145
10
9
8
Barbacoas
165
7
2
24
Carnitas
220
13
0.5
26
Black Beans
120
1
22
7
Pinto Beans
115
1
21
6
Fajita Veggies
20
0.5
4
1

***veggies are listed because it can be substituted for meat

Looking at this list it is hard to pick clear cut winners for the healthiest choices. All of the meats are high protein and not too high in fat or calories. Beans are a great way to add more protein to your dish as well.

Next up is rice,

The question is--- white or brown?!

Personally, I choose brown because it has more fiber, however white rice has a little less calories and fat. Both rices are pretty similar in nutritional values and according to www.eatright.org all types of rice are good sources of carbohydrates, protein, and have little fat or sodium.

As far as toppings go, I am just going to go ahead and say that salsas are fair game. The corn salsa has 1.5 g of fat and 80 calories. The rest of them have less than 25 calories and 1 g of fat.

I will also go ahead and say romaine lettuce is fair game ;)
(shocker?!)

Here are the rest:

Calories
Fat
Carbs
Protein
Cheese
115
9.5
1
2
Sour Cream
100
7.5
1
6
Guacamole
200
19
7
2

So here is the confusing part. Cheese and sour cream are both dairy sources which is necessary to have--however, they are high in fat and calories.
With this, I am just going to give my personal opinion:

make your own guacamole!
http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/menu/fresh_cooking/fresh_cooking.aspx 
- I have to have sour cream because the food is so spicy I need to load up my burrito bowl with sour cream and lettuce to make it how I like it.
-Honestly, I don't really taste cheese that much when I add it, so if I have to eliminate something--it's usually the cheese.
-Holy Guacamole! Guac is high in calories and fat, but that fat is a really good fat--so if your diet allows you to have some that day--go for it!


Bonus Tips:

  • All of the ingredients that Chipotle has to offer makes it easy to load up on calories FAST. Make sure to watch how many things you are adding.
  • I like to stick to the burrito bowl because the tortilla from the burrito adds another 300 calories.
  • If you want a salad-- go with the burrito bowl and add extra lettuce. The dressing that is given to you is 270 calories and 25 grams of fat. 
  • Portions are HUGE---do not hesitate to take some to go!!!


Thanks for Reading!

Find more information at:

http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/menu/nutrition_calculator/nutrition_calculator.aspx 



Friday, May 23, 2014

Build-A-Pasta Workshop: Fazoli's Edition

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

I hope that you readers are enjoying the beginning to your Memorial Day Weekend and I hope that it will be filled with family and honoring those who have served!

Today I will be talking about Fazoli's Restaurant and how to choose the healthiest pasta options there. I'm pretty sure Fazoli's is just a Michigander/ Midwest thing-- but this advice will go for all pasta in general (specific nutrition information may vary).

I am going to talk about the build-your-own pasta option because once the basics are understood it is easier to build off of that and learn what other dishes the restaurant offers are healthiest.

First off, we will start with the base of the dish---pasta!
Pasta is a great carb--especially if it is whole grain.

*all 10oz.
Calories
Fat
Carbs
Protein
Fiber
Spaghetti, Fettuccine or Penne
510
7
91
16
4
Ravioli
625
25
66
34
3.5
Whole Wheat Penne
510
7
89
18
11
** Ravioli is usually served in 5.6 oz servings

These are the choices that you are given for pastas. I added a new category that I usually don't to this table which is fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that helps your body process food better (metabolize) and is very important in keeping your body running efficiently! I wanted to emphasize this because if you look at the fiber values it shows how much more fiber is in a serving for whole wheat penne than regular penne. We've all seen those Fiber One commercials where the guy is joking that he would rather eat a paper bag for fiber than foods with fiber because sometimes they just don't taste the best. Well, if you don't want to eat the chocolate bars (or a paper bag) you can definitely go for some whole wheat pasta! This is no joke people, whole wheat pasta is seriously so much better for you than white pasta. 



Next up is the sauces,

*9 oz. servings
Calories
Fat
Carbs
Protein
Marinara
111
0
22
3
Meat Sauce
210
9
21
12
Alfredo
355
25.5
20
8
Creamy Basil
410
32
20
8

Choosing the sauce is what ties together your entire dish. Personally, I like to stick to a tomato based sauce because it is lower in fat and calories. 

Last but not least are the toppings and meats,


*ounces vary
Calories
Fat
Carbs
Protein
Roasted Chicken
110
2.5
1
19
Broccoli
60
4.5
3
2
Asiago Mushrooms
120
11
3
4
Italian Meatballs
250
18
6
13
Italian Sausage
200
16
3
10

The portions of the meats vary because they all have different serving sizes. All of nutrients listed for the toppings are for their standard serving sizes.

What shocked me the most here was the amount of fat in the mushrooms and broccoli. Obviously, they are putting something in these vegetables than just the vegetable and that is not always okay. However, if you want the veggies I would still get them because they are still a good source of fiber and vitamins. 

As far as the meat goes, the best option is the roasted chicken because it is lower in calories and extremely lower in fat. It is also the highest in protein. 

So here are a few extra tips/ main points that I picked up through looking at this:
  • Always go with whole wheat pasta when possible.
  • Tomato based sauces are lower in calories and fat and higher in vitamins and antioxidant values.
  • Pick a protein that suits you best. If you like chicken in your pasta than definitely go for the chicken. The sausages and meatballs will be higher in fat, but they are rich in iron-- just limit how much of these you have. 
  • The best option for having red meat (meatballs/sausages)  in your pasta is to go with the meat sauce because it still gives you 12g of protein and it is lower in fat and calories than if you chose marinara with meatballs or italian sausage. 
  • If you want to have veggies on your pasta than go for it-- just remember that they are a little higher in fat than you may think. A side salad is also a good option if you are looking for some greens in your meal. 
Thanks for Reading!

Feel free to comment on what you would like to see next or just tell me what you think so far. :) 


You can find more information at: 





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cracker Barrel Side Choices (and making the best of them!)

Happy Thursday!

Today I will be talking about how to choose sides at Cracker Barrel that will give you the most benefit. This post will be near and dear to my heart because I have worked at the Cracker Barrel for about a year and a half now, so I have spent more time with these side dishes than I probably should admit.

With that being said, Cracker Barrel has TONS and TONS of options on their menu. I'm pretty sure someone could argue the menu to be a short novel if they really wanted to.

If you have never been to Cracker Barrel before I will give you the low down on how it works. There are about 25 main dishes you may choose from and most meals come with a choice of 2-3 sides (depending on how fancy you want to get). Since there are so many main dish options, I am just going to focus on the sides.

When I ask people at my tables what sides they want I often receive a baffled look because they cannot make up their mind so they just choose whatever sounds good. Since there are about 20 side choices it saddens me when I get people ordering fries, hash brown casserole, and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy as their three sides. There really is so much potential to have a healthy meal here and there should be more of an emphasis on getting people to take advantage of that.

Unfortunately, Cracker Barrel does not offer their nutritional values on their website so it is hard to decipher exactly what the calorie/fat/protein counts are from web research alone. The only thing that the restaurant offers on its website (which is what I will trust) is the calorie count of their "Wholesome Fixins" menu.

Wholesome Fixins is a section of the menu that promotes healthier eating and allows people to see how many calories they are consuming.

These are the sides that they offer on this menu:
  • Mixed Seasonal Vegetables- 50 calories
  • Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad- 40 calories
  • Sweet Whole Baby Carrots- 80 calories
  • Mixed Green Side Salad with Country Pepper Vinaigrette Dressing-120 calories
  • Baked Sweet Potato-190 calories
  • Brown Rice Pilaf-170 calories
  • Fresh Apple Slices-70 calories
  • Fresh Seasonal Fruit-50 calories
  • Fresh Steamed Broccoli-30 calories
  • Country Green Beans- 60 calories
  • Cheese Grits- 150 calories
  • Whole Kernel Corn- 180 calories
Here are the additional sides that did not make it on to the list:
  • Low-fat Vanilla Yogurt
  •  Hash brown Casserole
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Fried Apples
  • Steak Fries
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Breaded Fried Okra
  • Cole Slaw
  • Dumplings
  • Turnip Greens
  • Pinto Beans

Here I have given my own opinion on the nutritional quality of each side dish offered at Cracker Barrel.

Gold
Silver
Bronze
Mixed Vegetables
Brown Rice Pilaf
Fresh Sliced Apples
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Fresh Steamed Broccoli
Cucumber, Tomato, n’ Onion Salad
Low-fat Vanilla Yogurt
Baked Sweet Potato
Coleslaw
Pinto Beans
Turnip Greens
Whole Kernel Corn
Sweet Whole Baby Carrots
Country Green Beans
Hashbrown Casserole
Macaroni n’ Cheese
Fried Apples
Steak Fries
Mashed Potatoes
Breaded Fried Okra
Dumplings
Cheese Grits




Most of these you probably could have figured out for yourself, but you may be wondering why I put some of these in certain categories.


  1. Baked sweet potatoes are served with a cinnamon brown sugar and butter- if you choose to eat this with a smaller amount of these add-ins then you may proudly move it up to the gold category.
  2. Fried Apples are a fruit, yes, however they are fried with butter, flour, sugar, etc. So they are more of an indulgence than a fruit per say.
  3. Green beans, carrots, and corn are healthy, however I have seen how they are made at the store and they are dowsed in butter and are not to their full potential. I would stick with the steamed broccoli or mixed seasonal vegetables if you are looking to get the most fiber and nutrients out of your veggies!
To sum it all up, it is definitely possible to eat at Cracker Barrel and have a decently healthy meal! Look for key words such as "fresh" and "steamed", and avoid words such as "fried". Just be conscious of what you are choosing and look for the best options for you and your body.



Here are some additional resources you may look at with nutritional info on Cracker Barrel foods:
www.myfitnesspal.com
http://www.crackerbarrel.com/wholesome-fixins/
http://www.shapefit.com/restaurants/cracker-barrel-calories.html