Thursday, July 23, 2015

Say NO to Hydrogenated Fats!

You may have heard a lot about good and bad fats. An oversimplification of good versus bad fats is unsaturated and saturated fats, respectively. Unsaturated fats are the fats like oils and things that are not solid at room temperature. These fats are found in nuts, fish, and other healthy foods. The bad fats, saturated and trans fats, are found in forms like butter. Saturated fats have an extra hydrogen atom bonded to carbon chains. Fats tend to be hydrogenated and turned into solids to avoid rancidity.

So why is saturated and trans fat bad? As Harvard Health Publications at Harvard Medical School puts it, "Trans fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions". Saturated fat is another diet criminal increasing your levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol which contributes to the clogging of arteries which prompts other health issues.

Why is unsaturated fat so much better? Unsaturated fats kind of do the opposite of their evil counterparts; eating more unsaturated fats can reduce your levels of bad cholesterol and therefore reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, etc. These fats are liquid at room temperature and can be found in foods like salmon, walnuts, etc.

It is still important to remember that any fats-good or bad-will be stored as extra fat on your body when consumed in excess. EVERYTHING IN MODERATION! But you should still try to replace good fats with hydrogenated fats whenever possible. One thing that I do to replace the bad with the good is to change up the peanut butter that I consume. Peanut butters like Jif and Skippy are extremely processed (hydrogenated and packed with sugar!). Opt for non-hydrogenated peanut butters easily found at your local grocery store for a delicious and easy way to help your heart and your waistline.

Below is a picture of the consistency of non-hydrogenated peanut butter (on the left) versus hydrogenated peanut butter (on the right).
Xoxo, Keely

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Juice and Sugar

Juice has two health connotations: On the one hand it has been preached as an easy way to get some fruits and/or vegetables into your diet. On the more truthful side, however, juices tend to contain an extremely excessive amount of sugar and what does sugar turn into when you consume it in excess? Fat.

So if you're a juice lover, what is a delicious way to cut the sugar without diluting your beverage? Here is a recipe for easy Strawberry Lemonade with less sugar:

  1. Add frozen strawberries to tumbler/cup-these will act as ice cubes that won't dilute your drink as they are cooling it, plus they will infuse into your lemonade to give it an added sweet strawberry flavor.
  2. Fill tumbler/cup 1/4 of the way with your favorite bottled lemonade or lemonade made from concentrate.
  3. Fill the rest of the tumbler/cup with cold water.
This is a delicious and refreshing beverage that I love to take to work or a day at the beach without feeling guilty about drinking too much sugar. Enjoy!

Xoxo, Keely

Monday, July 20, 2015

Big bad butter

It's not new news that butter is not a friend to your arteries or your thighs- but it's sooo good. It is hard to find substitutes for butter in recipes, but what about butter on toasts, bagels, and in grilled cheese? A healthy fat substitute for butter, cream cheese, etc. is avocados. Avocados are rich in healthy unsaturated fats and give an extra kick of flavor to toast and bagels. One of my favorite breakfasts/lunches is to toast half of a bagel, cut an avocado in half, and use a fork to "mush" up the avocado half onto my bagel. Add pepper and a side of your favorite fruit and you have the perfect balanced mix of carbs, protein, and HEALTHY fat! Enjoy :)
Xoxo, Keely 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sweet Breakfast

Yesterday I introduced a low-cal breakfast option. Today I made a delicious breakfast that wasn't high or low-cal, but was healthy and filling and a great way to start the day (especially for those who have a sweet tooth first thing in the morning!).

To create this 422 calorie breakfast that contains 13% of your daily serving of fruit, 17% of your daily serving of whole grains, and a whole 73% of your daily serving of milk and dairy (all figures based on an average 2,000 calorie diet), I did the following:
  1. Filled a coffee tumbler with ice, then filled it halfway with skim milk
  2. Brewed black hazelnut coffee in my keurig
  3. Toasted one piece of Whole Grain bread
  4. Placed one cup of Non-fat plain greek yogurt into a bowl with 1/2 cup frozen strawberries and 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  5. Spread a thin layer of butter on my toast and added a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of sugar.
  6. Poured cooled coffee in tumbler over ice and milk.
Enjoy this healthy, wholesome, and filling breakfast!
xoxo, Keely


A lot of people don't think about "coffee" when they consider their daily calorie intake. I say "coffee" because most people these days (at least in America) are drinking creamer and other sugary flavors with only a dash of real coffee. A mug of straight up black coffee is only around 2 calories. Add a dash of fat free milk and you will have a low cal healthy drink to wake you up and give you energy. For some, they prefer the sweet taste of drinks like the Starbucks Doubleshot Energy Vanilla drink which is a whopping 210 calories (Starbucks Menu). This drink will definitely give you energy, but it won't make you feel full or deter you from eating more later on. One of the biggest factors of obesity in America is people drinking their calories. We've known for a while now about the dangers of our obsession with soft drinks, but calling a fat-filled, sugary cup of cream cream with a pinch of coffee "healthy" can get you into a lot of trouble when trying to cut down on those calories. I'm one of the few who actually enjoy the taste of good black coffee, but I do get a sweet tooth now and again and I understand the desire for something more dessert-like, like a Starbucks S'mores Frappuccino (500 Calories!!). So here is a base recipe for all of you who love that coffee buzz but don't want all of the extra calories that go along with it:
Take a tumbler or other larger drinking container and fill it completely with ice. Brew coffee as per usual (Keurig, Coffee Press, etc.) in a separate mug. Fill tumbler about halfway (more or less as desired) with skim (fat free) milk. Pour brewed coffee over ice and milk. For a little bit of added flavor (and added calories...but not too much) drizzle in a tablespoon or less of sugar or, my favorite, maple syrup for a drink that is refreshing and sweet but extremely reduced in calories, fat, and sugar!

In terms of ordering coffee, a couple of things I do to reduce calories is to
  1. Ask for skim (non-fat) milk instead of cream
  2. Ask for less sugar (usually companies add 3 so ask for 2 or 1)
Drinking my calories feels like a waste, especially when it isn't going to fill me up and prevent me from eating more calories later. Do you guys have any tasty and "healthier" ways you drink your coffee? Let me know!
xoxo, Keely

Sunday, July 12, 2015


I am the first to admit I do not drink nearly enough water. This summer, however, I got a scare when my kidneys became inflamed after becoming dehydrated. I searched for easy and cheap ways to enjoy water and here are the three tips I've discovered to keep me hydrated in this sweltering heat:
1) Get a new water bottle- get a water bottle that is aesthetically pleasing to you and that will be convenient to take with you where you go. For some reason this will honestly motivate you to drink more H2O. 
2) Frozen Fruit- We have all heard of infused water, but infusing water with your favorite fresh fruits like strawberries or raspberries can be expensive. Opt instead for bags of frozen fruits; not only will frozen fruits chill your water like ice cubes, they infuse more than fresh fruit to give you an even more intense flavor and they are much more affordable. 
3) Cocktail-inspired- One of the most refreshing water infusions I've tried is a "virgin mojito". Take a water bottle to the beach filled with ice, a sliced up lime, a fair amount of mint leaves, and, of course, water! SO refreshing! 
As I said above, I know how hard it can be to stay hydrated, but water will help to cleanse your system of toxins, clear your skin, and genuinely make you feel more alert and healthy! I hope these tips helped! 
Xoxo, Keely 

Breakfast dilemma

You've probably heard/read all of the media claiming that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and that studies have shown eating breakfast can be linked to lower body weight. My view on breakfast is that you should wait to eat until you're hungry. If you're like me, you might not be hungry right when you get up in the morning so wait until you do feel like eating (If you have an important meeting or test in the morning, it is beneficial to eat something-anything-so that you have some sugar for your brain to run). On the weekends I like to make myself a nice breakfast. I'm no chef, but I do like to whip something up other than cereal or toast and peanut butter in the morning. A quick and delicious breakfast option is to cook an egg WHITE in a skillet with some cooking oil and when it's congealing toss a pinch or two of shredded Parmesan cheese or Cheddar cheese into the cooking egg, then flip it over and cook as usual. These strong cheeses will add flavor and texture to the bland egg white, but be careful as to how much you add because cheese is abundant in saturated fats. Next I diced up a thick slice of a steak tomato, threw it on top of the egg, and added some pepper! Finally I toasted a whole grain slice of bread and added a thin layer of butter on top. All of this added up to only 150 calories and contained whole grains, vegetables, dairy, and protein- four out of five food groups! Plus, the protein from the egg white will keep you satiated for longer than just grains from cereal or toast.

Feel free to add other ingredients you have on hand such as avocado for some extra unsaturated fat and flavor or onions and peppers. Better yet, add a side of fruit like peaches or an orange to accomplish including all five of the food groups! Just keep in mind that any added ingredients will add to the calorie count even if they are healthy ingredients or sides. You can track calories from meals you put together at this USDA website:
Thank you for reading, and if you would like more food recipe ideas from an amateur foodie who is all about nutrients let me know!
xoxo, Keely

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Smoothie Fad

If you could put all of the posts from health gurus who are on Instagram together, how many smoothie/protein shake pictures could we count? Smoothies and shakes are a health fad that can be good or extremely detrimental to your health. Here is the beginner's guide to what to watch out for when thinking about jumping on the smoothie/shake bandwagon:
  • SUGAR: so many packets of smoothie/shake mix contain gross amounts of sugar. Like every substance, if your body isn't burning enough calories that sugar will turn into fat. Artery clogging fat (even if the packet says it's been made with dehydrated strawberries). Fruits themselves already have a lot of natural sugars, so try REAL fruit concoctions to make a sweet and healthy treat.
  • PROTEIN: If you are a person who doesn't do a lot of weight training exercises, you probably shouldn't be drinking protein shakes. Protein shakes are meant to add EXTRA protein to those individuals who are trying to "bulk up" and build more muscle. Thinking that its a healthy addition to your diet can mean that you're still overloading on calories. As with sugar, any excess protein in your system will be turned into fat because that is how our body stores energy. Too bad you can't get away with that milkshake labeled "protein shake!" because it's still going to add a few extra pounds.
  • UPPER LIMITS: When it comes to vitamins, vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble. This means that they are going to be absorbed into your body and blood streams versus other vitamins (like C) which are water soluble and will essentially be peed out once our body has absorbed all that it wants. The problem with fat soluble vitamins is that we can reach toxicity levels if we eat too much of a food containing them. For example, one cup of kale contains well over 1,000% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K. While Kale is still considered one of the healthiest vegetables, to go overboard on those fun green kale smoothies (like three a day) can result in some health defects like GI distress.
So my advice to you when concocting your smoothies and shakes is to do your research and find ingredients that work for you. Maybe skip out on sugar-laden protein powders and stick to things like non hydrogenated peanut butter with simpler protein powders. Or, if you want to have a smoothie as a meal replacement for breakfast, try sweetening it up with real fruits like strawberries, peaches, mangoes, etc. and a little bit of whatever greens you have on hand. These treats will be lower in calories, and will truly be a healthy and guilt-free addition to your diet.

Today my breakfast smoothie consisted of the following ingredients:
Half of a Banana
Half of an Avocado
Four large Strawberries
One peach
Ice and Water

It truly was a delicious and filling breakfast- try it out!
xoxo, Keely

Motivation to be Active

As I have mentioned before, health is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Though exercise may be "less important" than the foods that we put into our bodies, it does still play a major role in forming muscle and lowering comorbidities such as heart disease.

Finding motivation to be active or work out can be hard. Some tips I have given in the past have been to make lifestyle changes that allow you to become more active everyday by taking the stairs or parking further away in the parking lot so you have to walk a little bit more. Another piece of advice I have given is to find something active that you enjoy doing that doesn't feel like strict exercise.

For me in the summer I do not have a lot of structured activity in my life; I'm not at school so I am not dancing and I most certainly am not walking the long distances that I used to walk to class. To be active without such structured activities, I need a little motivation. Did you know that running only 1 mile burns about 100 calories? If you can motivate yourself to get into the routine of running a mile every day or every other day you can burn extra calories, tone up your legs and core, and get your heart rate up making your heart healthier.

How do we become motivated? Here are a few things that you can consider:
  • Listen to music (buy yourself an arm band for a phone or ipod)
  • Run right when you get up in the morning-no second thoughts!
  • Find a running buddy- you can motivate each other
  • Buy yourself some new running sneakers! Especially if yours are old and don't have good support.
I have friends who run marathons (and enjoy it!) every few months, just because that is something they like to do. I am no marathon runner, but I will always feel better after a run-no matter how short-because I've increased my heart rate and I feel much better about myself.
(Also I just got some new kicks!)
xoxo, Keely