25 Healthy Big Game Snacks

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It happens every year. Mere weeks after resolving to lose the love handles, we face a day devoted to sitting on the couch and filling our bellies with hot wings, nachos, and beer. Americans consume more calories on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year. The food, most of it smothered in cheese and dripping with fat, gets as much attention as the football game (and the commercials) and it’s easy to eat an entire day’s worth of calories by halftime.

We realize that this isn’t going to be your healthiest day of the year and that, more than likely, you’re going to indulge. We’re here to help you minimize the damage, and get through it without totally sacking your fitness goals. You don’t have to avoid every tempting platter of appetizers, but we’ve assembled 25 healthy recipes to give you an alternative to the unhealthy stuff.

Extra Points:

1. Don’t arrive for kick-off with an empty stomach. Drink Shakeology or eat a light meal with lean protein before game time. This will help curb junk food cravings.

2. The best seat in the house is not front-and-center if there is a table filled with food within arms reach. Stake out a seat near the game but away from the junk.

3. Watch the game (and the commercials!). Talk to your friends. Cheer for your team. Heckle the other team. The more involved you are in the real action, the less likely you’ll be to absentmindedly fill your face hole with Funyuns.

4. Beer will be flowing. Have a plan for how many you’re going to drink before you start. Slow your intake, and ward off a Monday morning hangover by drinking tall glass of water between each beer.

5. Participate in our Game Day Workout! Watch this space as we’ll soon have a fun workout you can do as you watch the game!

SNACKS

Sweet Potato Skins with Turkey Bacon
We replaced fried white potatoes with nutrient-packed, baked sweet potatoes in this light and healthy makeover of a popular bar snack. Instead of bacon and sour cream, our recipe uses turkey bacon and Greek yogurt. Get the recipe.

Sweet potato skins with turkey bacon

Sweet Potato Skins with Chicken and Spinach

Here’s another way to make sweet potato skins that are healthy enough to eat as a meal! These are topped with spinach, spiced chicken, and cilantro. Get the recipe.

Sweet potato skins with chicken and spinach

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

These tangy, spicy chicken tenders dipped in creamy blue cheese sauce are delicious enough to make you forget they’re only 158 calories per serving. Get the recipe.

Buffalo chicken tenders with celery and blue cheese sauce

Nachos

These nachos are made with freshly-baked tortilla chips are pretty addictive, but only 258 calories per serving! Get the recipe.

Healthy nachos with tomato, avocado, and cilantro

Almond Crusted Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

These chicken fingers are baked, not fried, and have a crunchy almond crust.  Get the recipe.

Almond crusted chicken fingers with honey mustard dipping sauce

Pita Pizza

Pitas make an ideal pizza crust! These pita pizzas are topped with basil, peppers, and onion. Create a pizza station and let people top their own pitas with a variety of vegetables or lean proteins. Get the recipe.

Pita pizza with yellow bell pepper and onion

 Habanero Chili

This hot, flavorful chili is tasty and filling. Get the recipe.

Habanero chili

 Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce

The foodies at your party will appreciate this Thai appetizer made coconut milk, honey, and a touch of spice. Get the recipe.

Chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce

Hummus-Filled Eggs

These can be made with homemade hummus recipe below. I’ll let you in on a little secret, when I photographed these eggs, the amount of hummus in the recipe didn’t quite fill the center of the egg white, so I dropped a single garbanzo bean into the center of each to take up space…and I loved the texture it added. Get the recipe.

Hummus filled eggs

 Bell Pepper and Cabbage Slaw

This tangy bell pepper and cabbage slaw takes minutes to make, and ensures that there is something healthy and light on the table that’s not technically a salad. Add even more color with red cabbage and shredded carrot. Get the recipe.

Cabbage and Bell Pepper Slaw

Shrimp Ceviche

This Baja California-style ceviche is made with shrimp, fresh lime juice, and refreshing cucumber. Make it as mild or spicy as you want by adjusting the chili peppers to your taste. Serving it in endive shells is a clever and crunchy alternative to tortilla chips. Keep your ceviche cool throughout a long football game by nesting your serving bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice. Get the recipe.

Shrimp ceviche with lime wedges

Teriyaki Salmon Bites

If you’re rooting for a certain team from Seattle, make a statement with this Northwest-inspired appetizer. Get the recipe.

Teriyaki salmon bites

DIPS

Healthier Seven-Layer Dip
What is a game day buffet table without a seven-layer dip? We created a lighter version that has all of the flavor and only 136 calories per serving. Get the recipe.

Healthier seven-layer dip

 French Onion Dip

When I was a kid, French onion dip was the go-to appetizer at every party. Back then, we made if from a powdered mix and sour cream. I experimented with a healthier way to create this favorite dip from scratch using caramelized onions and nonfat yogurt. The result? It’s even tastier than the original. Get the recipe.

French onion dip

 Chunky Salsa

Here’s a new recipe for America’s favorite condiment that gets extra crunch from bell pepper.  Get the recipe.

Chunky salsa

 Guacamole

According to Wikipedia, 8,000,000 pounds of guacamole is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. You might need to double this recipe! Get the recipe.

Guacamole

 Spinach Dip

We created a lighter version of the classic spinach dip. Ours has only 32 calories per serving. Eat it with raw veggies like carrots, celery sticks, radishes, or sliced bell peppers. For a spicy kick, sprinkle with red pepper flakes before serving. Get the recipe.

Spinach dip

Homemade Hummus

Whip up a batch of this homemade hummus in less than five minutes! Get the recipe.

Homemade hummus recipe

CHIPS, FRIES & NUTS

Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

These baked corn tortilla chips taste fresh and have a satisfying crunch you’ll love, without the guilt. Serve with our seven-layer dip or dress them up with a squeeze of fresh lime and a touch of salt. Get the recipe.

Baked corn tortilla chips

 Kale Chips

Kale chips? At a football party? Trust us, these will disappear fast. Get the recipe.

Kale chips

Tomato-Thyme Pita Crisps

With a light dusting of Parmesan cheese and baked-in herbs, these pita crisps are delicious on their own. Top them with a generous serving of chopped, fresh tomatoes and they become a great party appetizer. Get the recipe.

Tomato-thyme pita crisps

 Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Love sweet potato fries? Here’s a healthier way to enjoy them. Serve with homemade chipotle ketchupGet the recipe.

Spicy Sweet potato fries

 Zucchini Fries

This tasty snack has flavor and crunch. And, our zucchini fries have only 74 calories per serving! Get the recipe.

Zucchini fries

 Spiced Nuts

These cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne-spiced nuts are sweetened with a touch of honey. Just mind the mindless munching as the calories add up fast. Get the recipe.

Spiced nuts

SWEET

Flourless Brownie Muffins

These dark chocolate muffins are delicious and surprisingly healthy. Get the recipe.

Flourless brownie muffins



10 Ways to Ward Off Excess Holiday Pounds

10 Ways to Ward Off Excess Holiday Pounds

Do you find that the scale moves up a few pounds during this time of the year? During summertime, we’re focused on our bodies, given we know we’ll be wearing the revealing clothing that goes with that season, but when fall and winter come around, that mindset falls away like autumn leaves. Maybe it’s our primitive instinct to bulk up when the weather gets colder; it probably also has a lot to do with our busy holiday shopping and social schedules interfering with our regular workouts, and with all the tasty holiday treats lying in wait to tempt us everywhere we turn, regardless. But don’t let the layers of clothing become layers of fat. Follow these tips to stay healthier and fitter this holiday season.

1. Travel smart. Many people find themselves traveling during the holiday season, but that’s not an excuse to eat unhealthily and avoid exercise. Plan your meals in advance, and pack snacks when you are either on the road or in the air. Good travel snacks can include nuts or dried fruit. To help you be a happier traveler, get a good night sleep before you leave to increase your mood and alertness. Eating a heavy meal before traveling can make you sleepy, so eat a small, low-fat meal before you head out the door.

2. ZZZZZZZ. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and get a full night’s rest as often as you can. If you fail to get a good night sleep, it can affect your immune system and make you grumpy the next day. No one wants to travel with a grouchy person, so do everyone a favor and get some shut eye. Sleeping well can also help you reduce your calorie consumption, because it inhibits the release of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin while promoting the release of leptin, another hormone that limits hunger. And keeping that hunger in check is a good idea when you find yourself surrounded by holiday goodies.

3. Hydration station. Staying hydrated is important in our daily life and becomes even more important when you’re stressed, as can so often happen during the busy holiday season. Stress can have a negative effect on your immune system. Drinking plenty of water can help by flushing toxins out of your body. For that very reason, choosing water instead of holiday beverages like eggnog and hot spiced cider is especially important, even though it can be challenging.

4. Caution with cocktails. With the holidays comes the drinking of alcohol, so make sure you have at least one glass of water in between each drink. Remember that one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and yet it yields virtually no energy or health benefits. Calories from alcohol can add up quickly, so be mindful of how much you are drinking. If you do indulge in eggnog, which is super-high in calories in its traditional form, try making it with fat-free half-and-half substitute mixed with fat-free milk, and ditch the egg yolks for egg whites. Also, drinking may reduce inhibitions under the mistletoe, which is good, but it also reduces inhibition at the dessert buffet, which is bad.

5. Fighting temptation. The holidays are filled with temptation, and it’s your job to stop it in its tracks. Holiday parties can be troublesome with the surplus of fatty foods and beverages. You might be unaware of how much you are consuming and might eat because it is there, rather than eating because you are actually hungry. Eat a healthy meal before you go out, so you’re less tempted to munch on empty calories. Be aware of what you are putting into your body, whether it’s cocktails or shrimp cocktails. The office can also be a place where temptation lurks. Try to avoid going into the break room and grabbing those cakes, cookies, and other holiday dishes and treats people leave lying around at this time of year. Be the first in your office to bring in a fruit or veggie platter or other healthy choice to share. And if you are having a chocolate craving that just won’t go away, throw a banana in the blender with some Chocolate Shakeology®, nonfat milk, and ice, and you’ll be back on track.

6. ‘Tis the season for lots of television. Holiday movies, shows, and sporting events are in abundance during this time of the year. While you’re watching TV, make time during commercials to do some exercises that do not require any equipment. Remember some of the exercises you do from P90X® or any other Beachbody® workout program? Good. Apply those techniques and do some of those routines during the commercial breaks. Other options can range from standing up during some of the program to sitting on a stability ball (which uses more muscles than just sitting down on the couch) to doing jumping jacks, lunges, or ab work and beyond. Be creative and fight the flab that can come with being a couch potato.

7. Make recipes healthier. Most recipes can be made healthier without compromising the recipe. Think more whole grains—and less sugar, fats, and salt—while cooking, and make sure that there are mostly healthy dishes to outweigh the naughty ones. Use the half plate rule—half of your plate should be filled with veggies or fruit. Healthy food that’s good to incorporate into your meals includes: white meat turkey (limit the gravy), sweet potatoes, cranberries, pomegranates, pumpkin, pecans, collard greens (limit the fat), nutmeg, cinnamon, and red wine. These items can spice up any meal while making it healthier and more delicious. Please don’t fall into the mentality trap of thinking that if you exercise, that allows you to eat whatever you want. Try nutritious new recipes and be both creative and healthy with your culinary experiences. An example, you ask? How about two? Scroll down to see two holiday treats: Gingerbread Man Shakeology and Apple-Raisin Coffee Cake.

8. Out of sight, out of mind. When food is placed on the dining table, it’s much easier to grab a second helping. So make it harder: Keep the extra food away from the dining room. If you leave it in the kitchen, out of sight, it forces everyone to think about getting up to grab another helping. Here’s a tip: If you still feel hungry after your first plate, wait for 15 minutes and drink a full glass of water, then decide whether you want more food.

9. Eat smaller amounts more often. Instead of starving yourself all day so you can overindulge in that one, giant meal, have smaller meals throughout the day. I know that at family holiday gatherings in particular, it’s asking too much to resist the lavish aromas of the kitchen, so limiting your portion sizes is important. Have a little bit of everything while preparing the meal throughout the day, then eat a sensibly sized portion when dinner rolls around. If you’re still hungry after that, then eat more vegetables and fruit.

10. Stay active. Regular exercise can help with so many of the challenges you face during the holiday season. It helps you cope with the stress of traveling, because exercising releases endorphins that help boost your mood and energy. At the airport, if you have time, walk beside those moving sidewalks instead of standing and letting them carry you to your terminal. During your flight, walk up the aisles as much as possible without making the other passengers crazy, or do shoulder, abdominal, calf, ankle, or foot exercises while you’re seated. If you’re traveling by car, take frequent breaks, get out of the car, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you’re staying home for the holidays, get the family involved! Depending on the climate, go ice skating, hiking, sledding, skiing, biking, surfing, or walking the dog. And go for a walk together after your big meal—it’ll help you all digest better.

Now, I love the holidays as much as anyone, so I’m not asking you to deprive yourself of any holiday cheer. I’m just asking you to be aware of your body and the temptations and pitfalls it faces this season. Because the holidays have a way of testing your self-control, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place well in advance for dealing with them. That way, you’ll have a better chance of remaining on your regular regimen of exercise and dieting. You can even make it your New Year’s resolution to keep a healthy lifestyle and continue working toward your goals.


30 minutes. INSANE results.

 

5 Heart-Healthy Foods

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Your heart gets a lot of attention twice a year: once at Valentine’s Day and again when you go to the doctor and they read your blood pressure. But, it should get attention year round. After all, it’s what keeps you moving and exercising – and well, alive. So why not be good to it by eating the right foods?

In honor of World Heart Day, here are 5 heart-friendly foods that will help keep your heart going strong.

Oats

There’s a reason why you see a large heart on the Quaker Oats canisters. Scientific study after study has shown that oats help reduce the risk of heart disease. Oats, like some other whole grains, contain the fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown reduce LDL cholesterol, improve blood pressure, and prevent a spike in blood pressure after eating.

Oats also contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. These polyphenols are known to have anti-inflammatory properties, have been shown to protect against coronary heart disease, and can help with skin irritation. Oats also contain magnesium, a common mineral shared by all the foods on this list. Magnesium helps with nerve transmission, lowers your blood pressure, and may also help to reduce migraine headaches. It also can help help ward off cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

Even better, oats can be used for oatmeal, baking, or smoothies all year long! For starters, try this apple cinnamon oatmeal recipe for a nutritious and protein-filled breakfast.

Nuts and Peanuts

Back in 2004, the producers of walnuts, peanuts, and almonds were given the go-ahead to claim that eating 1.5 ounces of nuts a day could lower your risk of heart disease. That’s a big claim for something you’d find littered on the floor after a baseball game or in your stocking come Christmas. So instead of ordering a $10 hot dog, try getting a bag of peanuts at the ballpark and sharing with the group. You don’t even need a lot of them to get the benefits.

Many nuts are high in good fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids (something else you’ll see a lot on this list) and heart healthy monosaturated fats. Plus, they contain vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. They also have a high satiety factor, meaning you don’t have to eat a lot to satisfy your appetite. And, if you keep your hunger cravings to a minimum, you’ll be less likely to engage in unhealthy eating escapades.

The healthiest nuts are considered walnuts, almonds, and peanuts, though cashews also provide similar health benefits. Eating them raw is your best bet, except peanuts, which you probably want to eat dry roasted to avoid any potential aflatoxin issues. If you want more explanation of the health benefits of nuts, check out this article.

 

Spinach
Yes, the same green leafy thing you put in your smoothies, omelets, salads, and hamburgers, also happens to be great for your heart. In the World’s Healthiest Food, spinach received the highest health score for all vegetables and for good reason.

Spinach contains large amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A, which can help improve your cholesterol. Plus spinach contains folic acid (a B vitamin that helps create new cells) and magnesium. Spinach is available year-round, but will officially be in season soon, as it’s winter’s frost that gives it bolder flavor and better texture.

Salmon

As the only food on this list we don’t recommend for smoothies, salmon is known for being high in omega-3 fatty acids. The omega 3s can help keep a regular heart rhythm and defend against coronary heart disease. Salmon also provides plenty of vitamin B6 (helps create antibodies and breaks down protein), vitamin B12 (helps create new blood cells and contributes to central nervous system function), niacin, and magnesium.

If you are going to eat salmon this winter, it has been well documented that wild-caught salmon is better for you than farm-raised salmon. The farm-raised fish still contain omega-3s and protein, but you get more of both from wild-caught salmon and considerably less fat. However, farm-raised salmon often contain high levels of toxins, anitbiotics, and produce large amounts of waste in the surrounding area (you can read more about this process here). So if you can, it is always better to get wild salmon, but be careful because 75 percent of the salmon you find in the US in farm-raised.

Looking for a good salmon recipe that incorporates other foods on this list? Try these spinach-stuffed salmon fillets.

Kiwifruit

The kiwifruit or kiwi, is often associated to New Zealand, but they actually originated in China (where it was called the gooseberry). The fruit is still prevalent in China and carries the name “strange fruit.”

This “strange fruit” also happens to be great for your heart. It’s loaded with vitamin C (1 kiwi is nearly 100 percent of your daily requirement), so like spinach it protects against LDL cholesterol. Kiwis are also high in dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and even have phytonutrients that help protect our DNA.

Looking for other ways to enjoy kiwi than on their own? Try using it in a salad with salmon, almonds, and spinach, or you can even use it as a marinade (kiwi enzymes help tenderize meat).

 


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