Sunday, September 6, 2015

Just because the 2015 Summer Fitness Challenge is over doesn't mean you should stop!  Talk to Stef or Aunty Jen to continue your membership at a reduced rate! or 480-755-3008

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Searching For Happiness? It's Official -- Toss Out The Junk Food

Any of us who have ever turned to junk food over a stretch of time came to realize it doesn't make us feel our best.

Whether our poison is salty potato chips or indulgent candy, cakes or other sugary desserts, we know it's not good for us physically. And we now know, too, that it's not good for us emotional and mental health either.

And now a new study from Columbia University that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows a link between eating junk food and depression.

Yes. Constantly munching on candy bars, drinking sugar-laden soda, and eating foods high in carbs can alter our moods without us even realizing it. This is in addition to fats and sugars causing cognitive impairment, which we learned from another study this week.

The Columbia study looked at post-menopausal woman, but James Gangwisch, an assistant professor at Columbia's department of psychiatry, says he always suspected that eating a lot of sugars affected men as well.

"We expected that people who are depressed are more likely to eat more sweets and are known to crave sweets, and we excluded all the people who are depressed already," Gangwisch says of the study. "We were looking at the relationship of the glycemic index of the diet to new cases of depression."

The index measures how much people's blood sugar is raised by the particular foods they eat.

Gangwisch's team took measurements from a food study of 70,000 women, none of whom were depressed at the start. It looked at their diets and levels of depression based on the questionnaire and then a three-year follow-up.

The results were clear that those who ate foods with a higher glycemic index were at risk of developing depression, and those who ate foods with lower levels of sugars had a lower rate of depression, Gangwisch says.

Lactose from dairy products has a low glycemic index and was associated with being protective against depression, he says. The biggest trigger was added sugars rather than just total sugars and carbs.

"Eating a higher fiber intake with fruits and whole foods, vegetables and grains were protective of developing against depression," Gangwisch says. "Refined grains increased the risk of developing depression."

What happens if you eat foods with a lot of sugar or drink a soft drink with a lot of sugar that will raise your blood sugar that prompts the body to release insulin to lower the level, Gangwisch says. The body releases counter measures to help increase the blood sugar, and if the sugar supply to the brain isn't enough, it can affect your mood.

Fruits have sugars but are low in the glycemic index. The fiber associated with it compared to fruit juices slows down the rate blood sugar is released in the blood stream. That keeps the blood sugar at an even keel and prevents spikes and troughs, he says.

"When people eat candy it leads to craving to more candy," Gangwisch says. "Your blood sugar can go out too high, and insulin is sent out. It can make you feel hungry once the blood sugar goes low again and lead to cravings for more. You end up on a rollercoaster."

Eating a bad diet high in sugars can also trigger cardiovascular disease that's linked to depression. That is also the cause for resistance to insulin.

So when it comes to your mood, leave out the candy bars, Danishes, cakes, and other foods that you can check on for their high glycemic index even though some studies have found benefits in chocolate regarding heart health.

As for those people who are already depressed and weren't part of a controlled study, Gangwisch says you can't draw the conclusion that the diet is definitely the cause. But when you see new cases added over time to those who became depressed from that junk food diet, it strengthens the argument that diet may be causing depression in people.

"There have been experimental studies that found that when given higher GI diets, it negatively affect mood pretty quickly," Gangwisch says. "There is a mouse model study that induced low blood sugar with insulin - the depression began in a few hours and lasted 24 to 48 hours."

Gangwisch says the advice we've gotten for years still holds true: Eat a healthy and balanced diet, and that not only leads to better physical health but mental health as well.

"Most any nutritionist will tell you avoid too many sweets and higher refined carbohydrates, and so the results of our study add to that," Gangwisch says. "We should have a good, balanced, and healthy diet with whole fruits and vegetables that are natural and seasonal."

Courtesy of:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Loaded Baked Sweet Potato “Healthified”
Servings: 4 • Size: 1 potato
Calories: 307 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 53 g • Fiber: 10.5 g • Protein: 15 g • Sugar: 1 g
Sodium: 312 mg  (without salt)


  • 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt (or light sour cream)
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1-1/3 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup mild or spicy salsa
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions or cilantro


Poke holes in the potato with a fork, cook on your microwave’s potato setting until potatoes are soft and cooked through (about 8-10 minutes on high for 4 potatoes). If you don't have a microwave, bake about 45 minutes at 400°F.

Combine yogurt and taco seasoning in a small bowl, mix well.

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add peppers, onions, chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt; cook until the onions have caramelized slightly, about 5 minutes. Add black beans, stir to combine and heat through (about another 5 minutes).

Slice the potato lengthwise down the middle or as I did in the photo, use a fork to pierce the top in an oval shape, then remove the top of each potato. Top with 2 tbsp shredded cheese, 1/3 cup of black bean mixture, 2 tbsp Greek yogurt mixture and 2 tbsp salsa of salsa. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

5 Tips to Help You Kick Sugar in a Week

Cutting refined sugar out of your diet can be one of toughest things to do. It's highly addictive so cravings can come on very strong and are often hard to ignore.

However, eliminating sugar from your diet can be done. If you do decide to go sugar-free, one of the best ways is to go cold turkey. Cut out sugar completely with these simple steps and you could be craving-free in a week.

Eat less salt: When you eat a lot of salt, your body naturally craves sugar to balance out the flavors. For example, if you add salt to a dish that's already salty, like eggs with cheese, chances are you'll be wishing you had a side of pancakes with syrup even though you're not hungry anymore. If you're trying to cut out sugar quickly, it's best to avoid overly salty food for at least a week. Once you no longer crave sugar, you can gradually add saltier foods back into your diet.

Eat sweet vegetables: Sweet vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes are great replacements for refined sugar. If you're really craving sugar, a beet salad or roasted, sweet root vegetables could be just what you need to get your fix.

Get more exercise: Working up a sweat helps take your mind off sugar. Exercise also helps balance out your body and brings it to a more alkaline state. By sweating out extra salt, your sugar craving is greatly reduced. Try to start your day off with a work out. If you do this, then you are more likely to make healthier choices when it comes to your food intake all day long.

Cut out processed food: Almost all processed foods are packed full of secret sugars that fuel your addiction. Just read the label of that cereal or yogurt in your kitchen! When you're trying to quit sugar, it's best to go back to the basics and eat only fresh foods. To eliminate processed food, try shopping just the perimeter of the grocery store where you can pick up fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and grains that are 100-percent free of hidden sugars that can sabotage your diet.

Find a buddy: As with any health and wellness goal, achieving a sugar-free lifestyle is always much easier when you have a partner. Set up a daily text message exchange with this person so you can offer words of support and encouragement when one of you is feeling tempted by the doughnuts in the break room at work. You might even consider swapping healthy recipes or making time to go to the gym together.

Courtesy of:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

EASY 5-Ingredient Nutella Almond Cookies
Servings: 12 • Size: 2 cookies
Calories: 158 • Fat: 10 g • Carb: 15 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 4 g • Sugar: 13 g
Cholesterol: 16 mg • Sodium: 43 mg


  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup chunky almond butter
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Spray two nonstick baking sheets lightly with cooking spray or use a silpat.

In a medium bowl, mix the nutella, almond butter, cocoa powder, sugar and egg until well combined with a spatula. Spoon 1 level tablespoon of the mixture about 1 inch apart onto baking sheets. Flatten the mounds with the tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern on the cookies.

Bake until golden around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes, switching the position of the sheets halfway through baking. Let cool before removing. If you don't use a silpat, it may change the baking time so I would keep an eye on them.

Makes 24 cookies.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

5 Ways to Outsmart the Supermarket and Lose Weight

Do candy bars have a tendency to jump off the shelves and into your cart when you're at the supermarket? You're not alone. From the weekly circulars to the cash register, the entire grocery-shopping experience is designed to ensure you spend as much time and money on junk food as possible.

But fear not! My book Eat It to Beat It! is full of easy tips that empower you, the consumer, to stand your ground against a food industry that wants to make you fat. Here are five ways you can outsmart the supermarket and keep those sneaky vice foods out of your cart.

1. Pay with cash.

Paper or plastic? When it comes to checking out at the supermarket, paper money may be your best bet.

A series of experiments by Cornell University looked at the effects of payment method on food choice. When participants used credit cards, they bought more unhealthful "vice" foods than they did "virtue" foods. Researchers suggest that you're more likely to think twice about an impulse to buy junk food if it means parting with a hundred dollar bill than swiping plastic.

2. Shop with a cart.

I know what you're thinking: A basket has to be better than a cart because it's smaller -- less room for bad decisions! In fact, a study in Journal of Marketing Research suggests the opposite may be true: Shoppers gathering groceries in baskets are more likely to reach for junk than cart pushers.

According to the study, shoppers are more apt to compensate for the tension and strain a basket puts on the arm with "vice products" such as candy and soda. In fact, the odds of purchasing junk food at the cash register for a basket shopper was 6.84 times that of someone shopping with a cart!

3. Pump up the jams.

Antisocial as it sounds, bringing headphones to the supermarket and rocking out to some iTunes while you shop may keep unwanted items out of your cart.

According to a well-cited study by Ronald Milliman in the Journal of Marketing, supermarkets intentionally play slow, calming music to reduce turnover. That translates to 38 percent more time in the store, and an additional 29 percent more food in your cart! Stay jazzed and focused with music that puts some pep in your step.

4. Have a snack before you shop.

If you're hungry, you're probably not going to reach for a bag of lettuce, which is why it's a bad idea to do your grocery shopping with a grumbling tummy.

In a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, participants who hadn't eaten all afternoon chose more high-calorie foods in a simulated supermarket than those who were given a snack beforehand. This was especially true in the hours leading up to dinnertime.

Try to schedule grocery runs early in the day, and try one of my favorite snacks under 100 calories before you head out the door.

5. Make a list before clipping coupons.

The weekly circular may help trim a few dollars from your bill, but it could also add a few pounds to your frame, a recent study suggests.

The study, printed in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, looked at more than 1,000 online coupons offered by six major grocery chains and found most of them were for processed food snacks and prepared meals. In contrast, only 3 percent of coupons provided savings on fresh, frozen or canned produce; and a tiny one percent trimmed the price of unprocessed meats.

Don't be swayed by deals on unhealthy items, and check out apps like Grocery IQ that will scan your (hopefully health-conscious) grocery list and zip code for relevant savings you can then print out.

Courtesy of:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps
Servings: 4 • Size: 2 lettuce wraps
Calories: 255 • Fat: 11 g • Carb: 6 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 30 g • Sugar: 2 g
Sodium: 849 mg • Cholesterol: 108 mg 


  • 1.3 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp bell pepper, minced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 oz can tomato sauce
  • 8 large lettuce leaves from Iceberg lettuce
  • (optional) 1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar - (7 pp)


Brown turkey in a large skillet breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. When no longer pink add dry seasoning and mix well. Add the onion, pepper, water and tomato sauce and cover. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

Wash and dry the lettuce. Divide the meat equally between the 8 leaves and place in the center of each leaf and top with your favorite taco fixins! With the cheese, 2 wraps are 7 pp (toppings extra).