Tag: diet

Healthy New Year! Top Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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Holiday weight gain is a widely accepted fact of life, causing many to hopelessly give up and give in to the temptation of high-calorie treats that seem to lurk around every festive corner. But accepting rather than fighting poor habits throughout the holidays can set anyone on the path to dietary disruption and bad health.

As we get older, every ounce of weight gain matters, and can seem impossible to lose, making it especially important to keep a close eye on calories. Luckily, there are many easy ways to prevent the sabotage of all your fitness plan progress.

Below are some top tips to help anyone avoid the trap of holiday weight gain.

 

1. Retain the Routine—

Yes, you’re on vacation. No, this doesn’t have to mean you should take a break from the gym, yoga classes or whatever form of exercise you generally work into every week.

Sticking with your workout regimen can keep your metabolism moving and help you burn extra calories; something you might really appreciate later when faced with a plate of holiday cookies.

And don’t be afraid to go heavier on exercises that burn more calories during the holidays to offset the extra intake.

 

2. Step Away from the Buffet—

When hanging out at social events, it’s easy to get caught in a conversation while standing near the buffet table if you’re grazing randomly, so purposefully grab a plate, make your selections, and move away from the food area.

This will help you be aware of exactly how much you eat, while removing the temptation to have “just one more” cookie or chip with dip as you stand mindlessly chatting and nibbling.

 

3. Make Friends with the Vegetables—

At every holiday party, there is a generally a plethora of sugary baked goods and salty snacks, with a sad, neglected vegetable tray sitting alone and ignored somewhere on the table.

Find that lonely tray of vegetables and load up your plate with these fiber and nutrition-packed beauties, because they’re going to fill you up without a lot of calories while fueling your body with vitamins and minerals.

Remember to go easy on the dip, and eat all of the veggies before moving on to the more calorie-dense foods.

 

4. Protein is Your Pal—

In addition to vegetables, lean protein in its various forms is a great way to fill up and stay full without fattening carbohydrates.

Look for shrimp, chicken or any other versions of protein that aren’t covered in heavy sauce, and add these to your vegetable bounty for a healthy holiday meal.

 

5. More Sleep, Less Stress—

Lack of sleep has been shown to increase the body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases weight gain, especially around the middle. It can be difficult when you feel like you have one million things to do, but making sleep a priority is definitely worth it.

Cortisol is also known for breaking down muscle, and muscle loss lowers metabolism, making it especially important to get the sleep you need during the food-filled holidays.

 

6. Wonderful Water—

Feelings of dehydration can mimic hunger, making it important to remain hydrated at all times to prevent pointless snacking.

Dehydration can also lower the metabolism and increase inflammation levels in the body, both of which lead to weight gain. Some experts recommend alternating a glass of water between every adult beverage to prevent the dehydrating diuretic effects of alcohol.

Drinking water before meals has also been shown to create a feeling of fullness that can help promote weight loss, so before you head out to that holiday party: drink up!

 

7. Do the Shopping Shuffle—

Buying gifts online can be more convenient, but if you want to sneak in a little extra exercise while you take care of holiday-related errands, go to the actual stores and walk around.

Worried about missing an online deal? Many stores will match online competitor prices, so be sure to take a device with you that allows Internet access, or print out the best price you can find to show store employees.

 

8. Saving Calories is Sabotage—

Don’t make the mistake of trying to starve yourself all day to “save calories” for the holiday party later. This will only drop your metabolism down into starvation mode, and set you up to overeat late in the day, which is the worst time to overindulge if you’re trying to stay trim.

Instead of starving, eat healthy, well-balanced meals, and if the party you’ll be attending isn’t a dinner party, consider eating your final meal of the day before you go to keep the snacking to a minimum.

 

Focusing on the humanity, kindness and goodwill of the season (rather than trying to figure out how much food you can stuff into your face in a few weeks) is also a helpful way to avoid holiday weight gain. The holidays may involve a lot of food, but they really aren’t ultimately about food at all, are they? If you can keep this philosophy in mind, and use the smart tips above, you can keep your diet and fitness program on track to have a healthy New Year!

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Give Peas a Chance: 5 Fast Ways to Help Kids Learn to Love Vegetables

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Maybe it’s because they have so many more meal options than we did growing up, or maybe they’re just being kids, but it seems like many children today have a very limited list of foods they’re willing to eat. Not only can this be frustrating for parents, it can be unhealthy for growing kids who need a variety of vitamins and minerals to grow.

While parents know we’re supposed to get a certain amount of healthy foods into our kids every day, it can be hard for vegetables to compete with comfort food favorites like chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese. Luckily, there are things we can do to make the vegetables more kid-friendly, and we’re going to discuss them below.

Here are 5 easy ways to get kids to try (and maybe even enjoy) healthy foods:

 

1. Quietly Cauliflower—

The secret undercover agent of the vegetable world, cauliflower can be cooked, mashed and blended with butter or cheese to resemble and taste very similar to mashed potatoes.

Adults on low-carb diets already know about this amazing substitution for the starchier dish it so closely resembles, but children are used to seeing cauliflower on veggie trays in its raw and somewhat pungent-smelling form.

If your children are extremely particular, you can try blending mashed cauliflower half and half with potatoes to gradually get them used to the flavor. And don’t forget that this vegetable can be added to casseroles, or covered with cheese and baked to create a delicious cauliflower gratin.

 

2. Marinara is Magnificent—

With a strong tomato base to hide other flavors, shredded or pureed carrots, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, zucchini, peas, mushrooms, or any other vegetable that sounds good can be added to this popular red sauce (especially if it has ground turkey or beef added as well to hide the texture).

Pasta primavera is another tried and tested way to get children to enjoy vegetables, so don’t forget that a good, creamy butter sauce can also convince a picky kid to give veggies a chance.

 

3. Macaroni and More—

Macaroni and cheese sits firmly at the top of many people’s favorite food lists, but the deliciousness of this dish doesn’t have to stop with cheese, and neither does the nutrition.

This is because it’s easy to add finely chopped broccoli, steamed spinach, diced tomatoes, or any other vegetables you’d like, thanks to the strong cheese flavor that both covers and compliments pretty much anything you add to it.

Experts have discovered it can take more than 10 times of tasting a food to decide whether or not we like it, making macaroni and cheese a great way to help a child develop an appreciation for nutritious foods without even realizing it.

 

4. Meat You in the Garden—

Unless you’re a vegetarian, meat can be a great way to work vegetables into your diet via meatloaf, meatballs, and meat sauces.

Veggie burgers, either made entirely from vegetarian sources, or meat with pureed and finely diced vegetables mixed into the patties is another method used by resourceful parents to encourage kids to eat healthily.

The addition of a hamburger bun and condiments further serves to add to the illusion of an all-meat burger, allowing families to add baked fries and skip the fast food for a healthier homemade alternative.

 

5. The Secret Baker—

Everybody loves zucchini bread, right?  And carrot cake is a classic favorite dessert. So what’s weird about adding pureed cauliflower, carrots or spinach to chocolate cake or spice muffins?

Cauliflower is bland, carrots are a surprisingly sweet vegetable, and spinach has a mellow taste that goes unnoticed when paired with stronger flavors. Give it a try, get creative, and never fear: It can be a little secret between you and us, and we promise we’ll never tell.

Be sure to blend all well-cooked vegetables you’re adding to a baked good into a smooth paste to avoid textural discovery of your well-hidden nutrition, and nobody will ever know the difference.

 

The above tips are ways to disguise the flavor of vegetables and conceal them within foods kids already love in hopes that children will eventually grow to enjoy the flavors they’re subconsciously tasting.

But the best way to help kids learn to love vegetables is to lead by example; by eating them with meals openly and positively. By using the tips above, and making a point of enjoying them in front of your children, you can take the mystery out of these nutritional superfoods to help your children learn to love vegetables.

Weight Loss Plateau? Oh, No! 5 Tips to Get the Scale Moving

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When you’re watching what you eat, exercising regularly, and doing all of the things that are supposed to promote weight loss, but the scale won’t seem to move, you may have reached what fitness experts call a weight loss plateau.

This frustrating phenomenon can demotivate even the most disciplined person, because when we feel like nothing we try matters, it’s natural to stop caring about what we do. What’s the point of all the work if you have nothing to show for it, right?

But before you throw in the towel, head for the couch, and grab the Ben & Jerry’s, you might try some of the techniques recommended to move past a weight loss plateau. With a little patience and determination, there are ways to move past this annoying phase of weight loss limbo — and working out consistently is still good for your health, regardless of what the scale says.

Read about 5 ways to move past a weight loss plateau below:

 

1. Strength Training to Boost Metabolism—

Lifting weights, using weight machines, resistance bands and other forms of exercise that get you out of your comfort zone are great ways to build muscle mass, and muscle mass burns more calories.

This means that even in a state of rest, your body will be using more calories than before, and this might be just the push you need to get the scale moving again.

If you’re already incorporating strength training into your workout, consider increasing the weight and or/reps you’ve been doing. You may have fallen into a weightlifting routine rut that no longer stresses muscle fibers enough to build mass, holding you steady at your current weight.

 

2. Check Your Chewing—

If you don’t keep a food diary, this might be a good time to start. Information is the first step in solving most problems, and if you’re going to get your weight loss program back on track, you’ll need to know exactly what’s going on.

It’s very common for people to forget what they’ve eaten in a day, or to discount the little things, but the little things add up. Record every liquid, snack, dressing and bite that goes into your mouth for a week to see if you might be forgetting about some sneaky saboteur somewhere in your daily diet.

Also: If you’ve lost a decent amount of weight, your daily caloric requirements might have lessened with your body fat content, so you may need to adjust accordingly.

 

3. What You Eat Matters—

While you’re recording your diet, pay attention to the types of foods you prefer, because even though caloric intake versus what you burn in a day is the most important factor for weight loss, there are foods you can eat to speed up the process.

Refined sugars and simple carbs, for example, are highly conducive to weight gain and don’t offer the body much in the way of nutrition. But healthier choices like whole grains and vegetables will fill you up with less calories, thanks to their high fiber content.

Also consider increasing your daily protein intake, as this is needed to build the metabolism-boosting muscle mentioned above, and will keep you feeling satisfied for a longer time than carbohydrates.

 

4. Many Mini-Meals—

Because jobs and life can make it difficult to eat often, most people have the standard 3 squares a day with occasional snacks in-between. But if you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau, a great way to “shock” your system back into losing weight is to switch to 6 mini-meals a day.

It requires more forethought and planning, and you’ll need to make sure your required caloric intake stays the same, but this method of eating has helped many lose weight.

Another benefit of multiple small meals throughout the day is that it curbs appetite, as the body receives small amounts of food before hunger has time to set in.

 

5. Change or Challenge Your Routine—

Sometimes we get set in our comfortable exercise regimens, as we hop on our favorite cardio machine, or do the same type of exercise for every workout. While this can be comforting psychologically, the body can also lapse into a comfort zone that slows fitness progress.

The answer to this, of course, is to mix it up. If you consistently do a certain form of cardio, for example, try a different type. If you are a leisurely trail or treadmill jogger, consider adding sprints to push the metabolism into high-gear.

Or take a completely different approach, slow down and try a more relaxing, enjoyable form of exercise, like yoga, hiking or swimming. Sometimes change of any kind can shake the body out of a plateau and back into progress.

 

Be sure to get enough sleep, stay hydrated, keep stress levels low, and be patient with yourself. Everyone experiences occasional setbacks and slowdowns with their weight loss programs, so try some of the tips above and stick with it: you’ll be back on track in no time!

 

Dinosaur Dinners: What to Know Before You Go Paleo

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The Paleo diet is a growing trend in the world of fitness, with many athletes promoting its propensity for building muscle and increasing energy, thanks to high protein and clean eating.

“Paleo” is short for “Paleolithic” because the premise is that cavemen didn’t have to worry about modern health issues like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure — and we’re hoping that by eating as our ancestors did, we might also avoid these problems.

Back before industrialized farming, people had to hunt and gather for meals, which means there were no legumes, grains or dairy products, eliminating these choices from the Paleo diet (along with sugar, alcohol, starchy vegetables, salty, or processed foods). Whole, natural foods such as vegetables, nuts, fruits, fish, lean meats, seafood, healthy fats and eggs are allowed.

If you are considering going Paleo to see if you feel better, stronger and more energetic, you should know the pros and cons of adopting this diet. Below, the positives and negatives are listed to help you decide if eating like a caveman is right for you.

 

The Pros of Paleo:

1. Real Food is Best—

Eliminating processed foods full of chemicals, dyes, additives and preservatives from our diet is always a good thing, no matter what.

Many people have food allergies and negative reactions to the extras added to processed foods without even realizing the cause — and it can be hard to pinpoint which chemical is causing the problem when you’re eating entire lists of them.

By choosing foods in their natural, simple state, you will eliminate the risk of ingesting carcinogens, allergens, gluten, or otherwise inflammatory response-inducing substances.

2. Less Carbs, Lower Blood Sugar—

Without grains and starchy vegetables, which can elevate glucose levels, the Paleo diet is great for people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes who are trying to control their blood sugar to avoid medication/insulin therapy.

Protein is a large part of this caveman style of eating, with meat, eggs and nuts being a primary source of calories. Protein is a highly recommended food option for diabetics because it has a lower glycemic index and takes longer to burn, providing steady energy without blood sugar spikes.

One study found that participants following the Paleo diet showed improved glucose tolerance, increased insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity compared to the group eating carbohydrates. (Source: The Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.)

3. Vegetables are Healthy—

Unlike the Atkins/high-protein diet craze, the Paleo diet recommends that followers eat plenty of vegetables.

If leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are included, the calcium in these will help make up for the calcium sources formerly provided by dairy.

Eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables will also provide the body with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and the fiber needed to keep the digestive system moving smoothly, avoiding the constipation sometimes caused by eating too much meat.

 

The Cons of Paleo:  

1. Modern Meat is Fatty—

The animals our ancestors hunted ran free and were naturally lean, unlike the animals of today’s industrialized farming system with no room to exercise, crowded into pens, and overfed on purpose.

This means today’s meat is not as healthy as Paleolithic era meat would have been, making it important to buy free-range, grass-fed and antibiotic-free meat whenever possible.

Saturated fats can lead to high cholesterol, kidney problems and inflammation, so most nutritionists recommend Paleo participants choose fish, nuts, seeds and lean protein sources while eating plenty of vegetables on this diet, rather than using the plan as an excuse to overindulge in steaks and burgers.

2. Not Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly—

If you eschew meat or all animal products, this may not be the diet for you, as eliminating starchy vegetables, legumes and all grains will leave you with less food options than you already have.

For example: Beans and rice combined create a complete protein to replace meat, but neither food is allowed on this diet.

Vegetarians will still be able to use eggs as a source for protein, but vegans will be left with mainly nuts, avocados and seeds. Vegetables do contain a surprising amount of protein, however, so if careful food choices are made, a vegan can go Paleo.

3. Time and Money Consuming—

Because of the limited nature of the Paleo diet, those who follow it must plan weekly menus extremely well to include a variety of foods, or nutritional deficits may form quickly.

If plenty of different vegetables are consumed, this will greatly increase the chances of meeting vitamin and mineral needs, especially if plenty of calcium-rich greens are included in the diet.

Another caveat: Grass-fed, lean, free-range meat and organic, fresh vegetables can be expensive, so this diet may also be expensive to maintain.

 

The Paleo diet has plenty of positives to offer, such as whole, natural foods and fresh vegetables. With more people than ever before becoming gluten intolerant, this grain-free way of eating may be very appealing. But vegetarians, those with kidney problems, cardiovascular issues, or trouble digesting meat will find the caveman life intolerable.

Read the pros and cons above before you go Paleo to decide if it’s the right dietary plan for you.

 

 

The Good, the Bad and the Healthy: 5 Ways to Cut Calories with Creative Cooking

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In order to maintain or lose weight, we can’t eat too many calories every day. Adding exercise can help us reach fitness goals faster, but if excessive amounts of fattening foods are being consumed, we will still gain unwanted pounds.

The good news is that there are many ways to cut calories and fat from our favorite dishes without losing the flavor. By making smart food choices and using cooking techniques that promote lean, healthy meals, it’s easy to create a nutritious, low-calorie menu the whole family can enjoy.

Below are 5 easy ways anyone can reduce the fat or calorie content of favorite foods without losing the taste:

 

1. Use Reduced Fat Dairy Products—

Many low-fat products replace the missing fat with sugar, which is naturally fat-free, but quickly processed into fat by the body, nullifying the point. But dairy products like light sour cream, skim milk and reduced fat cheese are usually processed without extras.

There will be a change in richness and texture, such as the difference between skim versus whole milk, but at least you’re not drinking additives. Pay special attention to what is added to coffee as well, because rich, high-calorie creamer every morning can add up.

One exception: Many yogurt makers add artificial sweeteners to reduced fat yogurt products. These unnatural chemicals aren’t good for anyone, and most nutritionists will tell you it’s better to eat the full-fat yogurt with wholesome ingredients than to swallow dyes, additives or fake sweeteners in the name of fewer calories.

 

2. Add Vegetables Whenever Possible—

In addition to being full of vitamins, vegetables are a great way to add fiber and satiety to any meal without high calories.

If you’re making an omelet, add diced vegetables like grilled onions, tomatoes or peppers. If you’re making meatloaf, load it up with mushrooms, finely diced zucchini or beans. Turn the chicken breasts and rice you were planning into a delicious, veggie-filled stir-fry.

By replacing fattening foods with filling, low-calorie vegetables whenever you can, you will automatically lessen your daily caloric intake.

 

3. Use Lean Cooking Methods—

Obviously fried foods are not on the daily menu for anyone who’s trying to maintain a healthy weight, but there are other ways to prepare food that will make it taste great while still being healthful.

By taking the skin off lean meats and marinating them before cooking to maintain tenderness, you can drastically reduce fat content. Broiling, grilling and baking meat dishes rather than cooking with oil and rich sauces can save calories as well.

Stir-frying or sautéing in a pan or wok works great if minimal oil is used, and steaming vegetables is an extremely low-calorie way to prepare vegetables. This can be done via microwave or saucepan, but a vegetable steamer is a wonderful investment for any kitchen that takes all of the work out of this cooking technique.

 

4. The Spice of Life—

Adding extra herbs, spices and flavorful vegetables used to season meals such as pepper, paprika, dill, shallots and garlic can really boost low-calorie foods, making up for the missing fat with intense flavor.

Savory seasoning can also help convince family members who are reluctant to make the switch to healthier versions of their favorites (such as exchanging ground beef for leaner ground turkey).

Cooking with basil, garlic and oregano can give a meal a delightful Italian edge. Spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric can add an exotic Middle-Eastern flair to a meal, along with beneficial antioxidants. And don’t forget that while they aren’t officially spices, vinegar and lemon juice can really brighten up a dish.

 

5. Remove the Visible Fat—

In addition to removing skin from poultry, be sure to trim the fat off the edges of every cut of meat you prepare, and drain the grease or extra oil from anything cooked in a pan before using.

Always select the leanest cuts of meat, and choose ground meats like turkey and beef with the lowest fat ratio available.

If something is grilled or broiled, yet still greasy, use paper towels to gently blot excess oil from the surface before serving. This may seem like a small thing to do, but small things add up to big calorie savings over time.

 

In addition to helping with weight maintenance, eating less fat can add up to major health benefits like reducing risk for: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Use the low-calorie cooking tips above to help your family stay healthy and happy, while still enjoying all the foods you love to eat.

The Washboard Diet: Foods to Eat for Flat, Fab Abs

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In addition to making our pants feel uncomfortably tight around the waistline, excess belly fat can be a sign we’re living an unhealthy lifestyle. The stress hormone cortisol causes fat to build up around the midsection, surrounding the organs and making it harder for the body to function properly. For this reason, controlling stress levels is the most important step we can take to flatten our stomachs.

Exercise also helps to tone the abs, so we train our muscles and try to build core strength with consistent workouts. But every fitness trainer in the world will tell you that exercise is only half of the picture: the other part is diet. This means you can do all of the sit-ups you want, but if you’re eating too much or consuming the wrong foods, you’re still going to have belly fat.

In addition to avoiding sugar, which is stored as fat when eaten in excess, there are foods everyone can choose to promote abdominal weight loss.

Below are some favorite foods recommended by fitness and nutrition experts for reducing belly fat:

 

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids—

It seems counterintuitive for weight loss to eat many of the foods that are high in omega-3s, as they are often high in fat. But these fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body, which helps with the cardiovascular system, metabolism and the processing of food.

Avocados, olive oil, walnuts, flaxseed meal/oil, and salmon are all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and the good fat in them increases feelings of fullness, which can control hunger, leading to less overall calories.

 

2. Lean Protein—

Protein is well known among athletes for building muscles, and the more muscle mass we have, the higher the resting metabolic rate— so it makes sense to include low-fat protein every day. Most trainers recommend multiple small meals with protein included for the best results.

Skinless chicken breasts, tuna in water, lean ground turkey and grilled fish are all great sources for this—or a light protein shake if you don’t have time to cook. Eggs are also beneficial, and vegetarians/vegans can enjoy tofu for animal-free protein.

 

3. Oatmeal—

Loaded with quick energy-giving carbohydrates, oatmeal is a very satisfying way to keep the stomach feeling full until lunch without a lot of calories.

The high fiber content of oatmeal provides satiety and promotes good digestion, which can eliminate constipation and bloating, both enemies of flat abs.

Chromium and magnesium have both been shown to reduce levels of certain hormones that encourage weight gain around the waistline, and oatmeal is also loaded with these nutrients.

 

4. Beans—

A favorite of those who don’t eat meat, beans provide filling fiber and satisfying, muscle-building protein without a lot of fat or calories.

Beans can be mixed into salads or just about anything to up the protein content, and are full of iron as well. Be sure to rinse canned beans and soak dried beans overnight to lessen the bloating effect they can have when improperly prepared.

 

5. Leafy Greens—

Spinach and kale are highly recommended for weight loss because of their exceptionally high nutrient and fiber content with minimal calories.

The fiber aids in digestion to allow abs to remain flatter, and the large amounts of calcium and vitamins K, A, D and E will boost metabolism by improving overall health.

 

6. Whole Foods—

Less is more when it comes to food choices, so skip the processed, packaged foods with long lists of ingredients and stick with simple, real fare.

When you fill yourself with chemicals, dyes, preservatives and additives, it taxes the entire system and increases inflammation, as the organs try to cleanse themselves of these toxins.

If the body has to focus all of its energy on clean-up and detoxification, the metabolism and every other process will suffer, leading to weight gain and poor health.

 

7. Probiotics—

Foods with healthy bacterial flora that promote good digestion and boost the immune system can help bust belly fat by keeping things properly moving through the gastrointestinal tract, and helping to prevent workout routine-ruining illnesses.

There are many yogurts enhanced with probiotics, as well as kefir, a probiotic-laden yogurt drink, but if you’re not a fan of dairy, probiotic supplements can be taken that work just as well.

 

Alcohol, salty foods and carbonated beverages are belly-bloating enemies of washboard fans, so avoid these to keep the stomach slim. Drink plenty of water to help burn fat faster, and try to eat some of the waistline-reducing foods above every day to have the flat, fab abs you’re hoping to achieve.

No Food Left Behind: Money-Saving Tips to Give Leftovers New Life

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Throwing away uneaten food is like throwing away money, and none of us can really afford to do that; yet leftover foods often languish in the refrigerator, slowly moving past the point of edible. This is generally because nobody wants to eat the same meal over and over again. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Fortunately for frugally-minded moms and dime-pinching dads, there are plenty of tricks to turn leftover food into completely different meals, reducing waste and saving money. Below is a list of 8 tips recommended by smart cooks who know how to keep the food budget low and the flavor factor high.

 

Top Tips to Give Leftovers a New Life: 

 

1. Consider a Casserole—

If your meal last night involved separate meat and vegetable dishes, don’t be afraid to combine them into a casserole by chopping them up, and then adding cheese, bread crumbs, eggs or whatever else sounds like it might work.

Some of the best recipes your family will love come from impromptu experiments such as these, so don’t be afraid to get creative. And if it works well, quickly write down the ingredients so you can recreate the magic again another time.

 

2. Contemplate a Quiche—

Extra veggies leftover, such as broccoli or cauliflower? A vegetable and cheese quiche is a great way to get healthy food into your family while using up side dishes that might have been thrown away.

As eggs are the main ingredient, a quiche offers plenty of protein, but if you want to include meat, such as bacon or diced ham, this will only enhance the cheesy deliciousness of your fluffy fare, so add ingredients freely.

 

3. Super Sandwiches—

To give last night’s meat dish a new life, dice it into small pieces or use a food processor if desired, add mayonnaise and seasonings, and… voila! You now have chicken or turkey salad, or perhaps even a fancy version of tuna salad featuring salmon or tilapia.

Hardboiled eggs, pickles, olives, celery or even capers can be added to give new life to meat-salad sandwiches, and don’t forget that lettuce and tomato can add a nice, fresh element.

 

4. Bring Back the Bread—

Breathe new life into stale bread by using it to make French toast: extra can even be refrigerated or frozen for later breakfasts.

When seasoned, cubed and toasted in the oven, bread you might have fed to the birds can now be added to salads for crunch and flavor.

Bread can also be dried, blended into crumbs and saved to use for coating chicken and fish. Making kids homemade chicken nuggets with your leftover breadcrumbs is an excellent way to not only save money, but feed them a healthier version this usually-processed favorite.

And don’t forget bread pudding, the old-fashioned dessert created expressly to use up bread before it expires. There are plenty of modern versions of this recipe out there—or you can always make up your own awesome new one.

 

5. Tortillas to the Rescue—

Whether you’re making wraps, fajitas or burritos, tortillas can serve as a wonderful way to present last night’s leftovers in an entirely original manner.

Adding salsa, cheese, avocadoes, tomatoes, lettuce, or sour cream to diced pieces of steak or chicken can turn baked, boring cuts of last night’s meat into a fun family fiesta!

Also: If you’ve turned leftover meat into a chicken, turkey or tuna salad, layer it with lettuce and tomatoes to make a fresh, healthy lunch wrap.

 

6. Pass the Pasta—

By keeping spare jars of marinara and Alfredo in the pantry, you can dice up last night’s dinner meat and vegetables and add them to a red or cream sauce. Feel free to throw in the mushrooms that need to be used before they go bad, or any other soon-expiring vegetables in your crisper to prevent waste.

By serving your saucy creation over good old affordable pasta, you’ll give your family a nutritious Italian-style meal that tastes nothing like last night’s dinner.

 

8. Bring It to Breakfast—

Scrambled or in an omelet, plenty of dinner items like cooked vegetables and diced meats can make a hearty and satisfying breakfast for the whole family.

Baked or grilled potatoes from last night’s dinner can be cut up, then fried or baked to create hash-browns or diced breakfast potatoes that go great with eggs, bacon, or biscuits and gravy.

 

With a creative mind and some crafty culinary moves, it’s easy to use up leftover food that might have been thrown away. Save money and eliminate pointless food waste with the helpful tips above to give leftovers a chance to become a new meal.

Diet Riot: 5 Healthy Habits to Help Kick Extra Weight to the Curb

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Trying to lose weight can sometimes feel like a Sisyphean exercise in futility: We finally manage to push the scale down a few numbers, only to watch it slowly crawl back up. Occasionally we know exactly where the wrong dietary or lifestyle turn was taken, but often there seems to be no rhyme or reason.

Luckily, there are many ways to replace bad habits with healthier ones, keep track of what made the scale move up, and other things everyone can do to ensure that our best-laid exercise and diet plans yield great results.

Below are 5 tips to help keep weight loss efforts moving up the mountain of motivation without the frustration of backsliding down: 

 

1. Don’t Torture Yourself—

If you buy the junk food and salty snacks, you will eat them. You know this, and are only self-sabotaging if you buy them as an “occasional treat.”

We’ve all done this, fully aware that the many servings we’re visualizing that bag of chips providing will most likely end with an empty bag of chips eaten in one sitting, and a lot of self-loathing. Don’t do this to yourself. Why make it harder?

By keeping the empty calories out of the house and making it a major effort to acquire them, you’ll reduce your occasional treats to what they’re supposed to be, rather than an excuse to binge.

And if you’re absolutely dying for that chocolate bar, consider walking or biking to the nearest store for your craving to help burn off some of the calories before you even ingest them.

 

2. Become a Writer—

It can be painful to see it on paper, but it really helps to write down your current weight, weight loss goals and fitness plans in a journal; perhaps the one you use to document your daily caloric intake.

There’s something about writing things down that makes them feel tangible and official, creating accountability while motivating us to solve the problem.

Looking ahead to the weight and fitness finish line can also help you visualize yourself achieving goals, keeping you on-track during the process.

 

3. Do the Math—

It’s really important to figure out how many calories a person at your height and age should be eating to lose weight, because simply cutting down may not be enough.

Once you’ve figured out your daily caloric target (there are multiple websites online for this), your food journal will let you know if you need to make changes.

Many dieters become afraid to eat once they start to see results because they’re so excited about the weight loss. But eating too few calories per day slows down the metabolism, creating a demotivating plateau when the scale stops moving, so be sure to eat enough to keep your body burning fuel.

So remember that food is your friend, not the enemy. You can always fuel up on fiber-rich and naturally low-calorie foods like vegetables to make sure your metabolism keeps running at top speed.

 

4. Aim High with Exercise Goals—

No matter what your fitness level, you can find some form of exercise to start out with, such as walking, swimming or riding a stationary bike. Start slowly to work up without injury, and progress consistently.

But rather than setting a goal to exercise 4 times a week, why not aim higher and try to push yourself instead? Set that goal for 6 workouts a week, and really try to achieve it.

Not only will this make you more likely to exercise at least 4 times a week as originally planned, you might surprise yourself and do 6 workouts a week, with even faster fitness results. Bonus!

 

5. Gather your Group—

Get the people in your life that you trust to help you accomplish your fitness goals, and ask for their support, or even include them in your workout and diet regimen.

One of the main reasons professional weight loss companies succeed is because they gather like-minded people together to unite in a common goal, hold each other accountable, and motivate the group.

By creating your own group of friends to start a morning before-work boot camp, an after-work session at the gym, a running group, or any way you choose to exercise together, you will eliminate many of the days you might have decided you were too tired to work out.

Nobody wants to be the weakest link, and this healthy competition can really give your weight loss a push in the right direction. For example: Take a timer (or cell phone/app) with you and see who can do the most sit-ups before the alarm goes off. Or try to burn the most treadmill calories in the same amount of time. These kinds of friendly contests can make working out fun and more effective at the same time.

 

Be sure to get plenty of sleep and drink extra water, because both of these things can lead to a false sense of hunger, and use the 5 tips above to keep your fitness and weight loss program moving forward.

Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself if you have a setback, because one bad moment doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it simply means you’re human. Forgive yourself and keep going knowing that you can achieve your fitness and weight loss goals.