Imagine Balance

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Category Archives: Eating Right

Sweeter Than Sugar

(source)

Around five years ago I went on a really unhealthy and incredibly too low calorie diet. During that time period I switched from sugar to Splenda and never switched back. That is until recently. When I started eating healthier a few months ago, I started using honey and agave syrup. But I was still baking with Splenda.

I’ve heard all the talk about how toxic Splenda is for you and with my science background, I didn’t believe or worry about it. However, I wanted to do some research. After looking at articles by the FDA and Splenda and “medical” sites against it, I’m not worried about it being toxic.

Yes, Splenda has chlorine molecules in it. So does NaCl, or table salt. This chlorine is what changes sucrose (sugar) into sucralose. Sucralose is what most people worry about being toxic. Most of the research I found stated that it was not unhealthy in small doses, and there in a minimal amount in Splenda.

However, I also found out that the fillers in Splenda (dextrose and maltodextrin) contain calories that aren’t listed. Why? Because if the calories amount is less than a certain number per serving, they don’t have to list it (this also goes for trans fat in other food items – which I did not know about). They can call it zero calories if it is less than 5 calories.

Serving Size : 1 teaspoon = 0 calories (as stated on container) / 0 g carbs

Serving Size : 1 teaspoon = 2 calories (as stated on their website) / 0.5 g carbs

Serving Size : 1 tablespoon = 6 calories / 1.5 g carbs

Serving Size : 1 cup = 96 calories /24 g carbs

source

I know this isn’t a lot of calories and still a ton less than sugar (around 678 less per cup). But instead of adding a tablespoon of Splenda I can add a teaspoon of agave syrup (20 calories) and not feel as guilty 🙂

Hot Lemon H2O

(source : Se bas tiann)

I first came across the idea to drink hot lemon water each morning while doing Sadie Nardini’s Daily Ohm Course, 21 Day Yoga Body (which I loved and will be blogging about soon!). She suggested having an 8oz glass of warm water with half a lemon’s juice 20 minutes before breakfast to detox each day (you can also add a little honey or agave syrup to taste if it’s too tart for you).

I wanted to learn more about drinking this tart H2O every morning. If you search for “hot lemon water” you will come across a ton of sites talking about its benefits and even more trying to talk to you into using as a total detox or weight loss miracle. While lemon water is detoxifying and it can help you lose weight, I doubt it should not be the main component of your healthy diet and exercise plan. Below is info from one the best articles I came across in my search.

Top Benefits of Lemon Water (via LifeMojo.com)

  • Good for your stomach

Lemon can help relieve many digestion problems when mixed with hot water. These include nausea, heartburn and parasites. Due to the digestive qualities of lemon juice, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved. By drinking lemon juice regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently. Lemon acts as a blood purifier and as a cleansing agent. The intake of lemon juice can cure constipation. It is even known to help relieve hiccups when consumed as a juice. Lemon juice acts as a liver tonic and helps you digest your food by helping your liver produce more bile. It decreases the amount of phlegm produced by your body. It is also thought to help dissolve gallstones.

  • Excellent for skin care

Lemon, being a natural antiseptic medicine, can participate to cure problems related to skin. Lemon is a vitamin C rich citrus fruit that enhances your beauty, by rejuvenating skin from within and thus bringing a glow on your face. Daily consumption of lemon water can make a huge difference in the appearance of your skin. It acts as an anti-aging remedy and can remove wrinkles and blackheads.

  • Aids in dental care

Lemon water is used in dental care also. If fresh lemon juice is applied on the areas of toothache, it can assist in getting rid of the pain. The massages of lemon juice on gums can stop gum bleeding. It gives relief from bad smell and other problems related to gums.

HOWEVER, I read somewhere else about the damage the extra acid can cause to your enamel. So I picked up some Pronamel (the gentle whitening kind because I may or may not need the protection against wine stains as well…).

  • Cures throat infections

Lemon is an excellent fruit that aids in fighting problems related to throat infections, sore throat and tonsillitis as it has an antibacterial property. For sore throat, dilute one-half lemon juice with one-half water and gargle frequently.

  • Good for weight loss

One of the major health benefits of drinking lemon water is that it paves way for losing weight faster, thus acting as a great weight loss remedy. If a person takes lemon juice mixed with lukewarm water and honey, it can reduce the body weight as well.

* I believe some studies have shown that it helps increase metabolism!

  • Acts as a blood purifier

The diseases like cholera or malaria can be treated with lemon water as it can act as a blood purifier.

** read the rest of the article here and see more about the benefits like reducing fever, it treating Rheumatism, controlling high blood pressure, and assisting in respiratory diseases

I’ve been drinking a cup of hot lemon water about a half hour before breakfast (or while I check twitter and read A Year of Living Your Yoga each morning) for over a month and really do think it’s helped with my digestive system and skin. However, I’ve also been eating drastically healthier in the past few months which has made a big difference.

 

Mexican Tortilla Soup

This is probably our favorite at home dinner. It is insanely easy to make, delicious, and good for you. This is another recipe that I had posted once upon a time on my 101/1001 blog, but decided to repost here with some changes Shane and I have made over the past year.

ingrediants

we normally split this in 2 and maybe have a little left over

1 bag frozen pre-cooked shrimp (sometimes we use chicken)

1/2 white (or red) onion

1 can diced Rotel tomatoes (we use Mild)

1 tsp garlic

4 cups chicken broth

tortilla chips

cilantro

avocado

green onion

directions

  • Cook meat how desired and cut into bite sized pieces.
  • Simmer veggies (onion, tomatoes, garlic) in pot until soft
  • Add meat to pot.
  • Add chicken broth to pot.
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Garnish with crushed tortilla chips, green onion, cilantro, and avocado.

nutrition

(if split in half – including shrimp and 24 bite size Tostitos chips)

  • Calories: 426
  • Total Fat: 23.4 g (mostly from the avocado)
  • Total Carbs: 42.2 g
  • Protein: 16.8 g

Apple Lemon Muffins

Yes, I made another batch of muffins. I can only assume that this baking streak (and the cleaning of the kitchen as soon as I’m done) is some kind of odd side-effect of meditation. It’s possible I’ve been replaced by a pod person. If I start cleaning the rest of the house, have tests done. That being said, these muffins are freaking awesome. I asked Shane what kind he wanted next and he said “lemon”. I happen to LOVE  lemon. While I changed the original recipe a little to make it healthier (and because I wasn’t braving the snowstorm to get lemon juice), they still turned out really good. I kinda hope Shane doesn’t like them…

Ingredients

8 servings

    1 cup flour {I used whole wheat flour}
    2 tsp baking powder
    a pinch of salt
    a dash of cinnamon {optional – I did NOT use}
    2 tbsp Splenda Brown
    1 egg, beaten {I used two egg whites}
    5 tbsp apple sauce {I subbed unsweetened and added a little Splenda}
    0.5 tbsp lemon juice {I only had lemon extract in the house}
    0.5 cups milk {used skim}
    a dash of vanilla
    1 med. apple, peeled and diced {didn’t peal}

Directions

  • preheat oven to 425F, lightly grease muffin tin or line with papers
  • sift together dry ingredients, set aside
  • mix together splenda brown sugar, egg, apple sauce, and lemon juice {since I only had lemon extract, I put in around a 1/2 teaspoon – maybe a little more – and just tested for taste} then add milk and vanilla
  • add dry ingredients and mix until just moistened, being careful not to over mix; fold in apples; spoon into muffin tins
  • back 15 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean; cool 2-5 minutes in pan before removing to rack to cool completely

Nutrition

{following original instructions}

  • Total Calories : 101.5
  • Total Fat : 0.9 g
  • Total Carbs : 19.9 g
  • Protein : 2.9 g

{with my substitions}

  • Total Calories : 98
  • Total Fat : 0.3 g
  • Total Carbs : 19.7 g
  • Protein : 3.5 g

Wholly Guacamole!!

Two years ago my friend Alex made me try guacamole… Holy Sh!t I love the stuff! How did I live the first 24 years of my life without avocados?!

Problem: I can’t shouldn’t eat a whole batch of guac by myself and with the hubs working 12-hour night shifts, he’s not home to help. Also, guac looks gross if you leave it in the fridge overnight.

Solution: Wholly Guacamole!

These delicious 100-calorie packets are made with all natural ingredients (Hass Avocados, Jalapeno Puree (white vinegar, jalapeno peppers, salt) Dehydrated Onion, Salt, Granulated Garlic). I was a little worried about the Jalapeno Puree since I’m someone who cannot handle spicy food. However, the little kick is just enough (sometimes I do add cilantro to it for a little extra pop). These suckers are perfect for me. I can pull one out and it’s not only portion controlled, but I don’t have to worry about the rest of the box going bad overnight (I think the box I bought had 6 packets). Also, easy clean up 🙂

(1 packet Wholly Guac & 24 Tostitos bite-size chips = 240 cals)

Donut Muffins

Muffins seem to be a great snack to have around the house for us. I love to grab one for breakfast. He takes them for a snack at work. So I decided to try to turn one of my favorite muffin recipes healthy. I’m really, really happy with how they turned out!

ingredients

(I made 12, but I like smaller portions)

3/4 cup sugar (used Splenda)
2 egg whites
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

directions

  • Lightly grease a muffin tin with vegetable oil or spray.
  • In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg until light in color. Add applesauce, milk, and vanilla to sugar mixture and combine.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Then pour into liquid mixture and stir to combine.
  • Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

nutrition

(with my substitutions and 1 out of 12 servings)

  • Calories: 65
  • Total Fat: 0.3 g
  • Total Carbs: 12.3 g
  • Protein : 3.1 g

H2O Help

Prior to about a week ago I wasn’t even drinking a quarter of the amount of water I should consume in one day. However, in this past week I’ve had no problems getting in at least my 8 glasses and have probably been drinking more. I came across a similar article to one I’ll feature below and it completely changed the way I drink.

12 Tips to Drink 8 Cups a Day {SparkPeople} Read more of this post

Ricotta Cheese and Fruit?

(image source)

When my sister told me she was eating ricotta cheese with blueberries for breakfast, my first thought was “gross!”. Then my mom started eating healthier and told me she liked it too. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try… I actually love it! I had 1/2 cup of fat-free ricotta cheese topped with frozen blackberries (that I microwaved for a few seconds and blended). I did add a touch of Splenda because the fruit wasn’t very sweet. It was less than 100 calories, tasted good, and was surprisingly filling. I’m now starting to look for more dessert recipes that include ricotta. Have you used it for a sweet dish?

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

My mom came across this recipe via SparkPeople and after trying one of hers I had to make my own. These were fairly easy to make and are both tasty and filling!

Ingredients

12 servings

    1 cup old fashion rolled oats (not instant) {I used multi-grain oats}
    1 cup non-fat milk
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup brown sugar {I used 1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar}
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    2 egg whites
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp . baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1 tsp. sugar
    raisins or nuts (optional) {I did not add}

Directions

  • Soak the oats in milk for about one hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
  • Combine the oat mixture with the applesauce and egg whites, and mix until combined.
  • In a separate bowl measure and whisk the dry ingredients together.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. Add nuts or raisins if desired. Do not over mix the batter or the muffins will be tough.
  • Spoon muffin mixture into muffin pan.
  • Combine the cinnamon and sugar and top each muffin with some of the mixture.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.
  • Remove from pan, cool and enjoy.
  • These can be frozen and reheated in the microwave for a quick breakfast.

Nutritional Facts

(Without my substitutions)

  • Calories: 93.5
  • Total Fat: 0.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.4 mg
  • Sodium: 196.2 mg
  • Total Carbs: 20.5 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
  • Protein: 2.9 g

(With my substitutions)

  • Calories : 90
  • Total Fat : 0.3 g
  • Total Carbs: 17.8 g
  • Protein: 3.4 g

Larabar Minis

I recently ordered a box of Larabar Minis after hearing about them on TV. The bars are fruit, nuts, and spices and that’s it! Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan and kosher. Now when they say mini, they mean mini lol. Here is a pic of them in my hand (keep in mind I have small hands).

However, they are delicious and feel like a healthier snack than what I would normally grab. They are dense so if you eat slowly you really do get a lot out of the 100 calories. I tried the Cherry Pie, Cashew Cookie, and Apple Pie — all of which I really liked. I found out that the local (aka only) health food store has them in the large size so I’ll probably pick up some from there.

For more info go here.