A new year, a new diet approach — make money from weight loss?

January is traditionally the biggest diet month of the year as people who stuffed themselves during the year-end holidays resolve to drop some pounds. I’m in that group this year and I found a new incentive to help — making some money.

Toward the end of last year, I received a press release from a website that runs weight-loss contests with cash prizes. I’d never heard of such a thing, so I immediately checked it out, it’s called HealthyWage.com.

HealthyWage offered $5,000 in prizes for a special free contest; the goal is to drop at least 6% of your weight by March 13.

I downloaded the app and did an official weigh-in which included having to photograph myself in a full-length mirror, not a pleasant task.

Continue reading “A new year, a new diet approach — make money from weight loss?”

The first food predictions for 2023: complex heat, comfort food, street food will be in next year

I just saw the first of many food predictions for 2023, this from The Food Institute, a food news site, which predicts that complex heat, comfort foods and street foods will be in next year.

When I go off my post-angioplasty diet, I want it to be for amazing treats I love. Nathan's hot dogs fit that bill.
Street food anyone? When I’m in New York, I always head to Nathan’s for hot dogs.

“Spicy food has been gaining popularity over the last decade, but today’s consumers crave more than just heat—they want to learn about different peppers and the complexity of their flavors,” the Institute reports, citing a survey by Spoonshot.com which I couldn’t access directly from the link provided. This flavor trewnd, like the others, is being driven by Covid and its aftermath.

There are also cuisines that are trending, as consumers seek new experiences through food, where spice levels are more complex and at higher levels than U.S. consumers are generally used to—Indian, West African, etc.” Robyn Carter, founder and CEO of Jump Rope Innovation told The Food Institute. “As those cuisines continue to go mainstream in 2023, we’ll see more complex heat ahead.”

Nostalgia and the desire for comfort food that reminds you of happier times is a trend that has been around and will continue next year.

And consumers looking for new food experiences while trying to hold down their food costs will turn to street food, which also carries an air of authenticity for Gen Z consumers, the Institute article notes.

What will you be eating in 2023? We’d love to know, leave your comments here to tell us.

Do you know what 2,000 calories look like? I’m guessing no, so read on

Everyone has likely seen it somewhere, either on a food label or on a restaurant nutrition page — portions and everything else to do with our daily nutritional intake are calculated on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. But I doubt most people realize just how few calories that is compared to what average Americans eat every day.

The FoodNetwork.com meal plan involves a lot of food in bowls, not sure why. Photo by Polina Tankilevitch:

So here’s a great piece to read from FoodNework.com, What Does 2,000 Calories Look Like? Use it as a companion piece to something I wrote, Picturing 1,500 calories a day; it’s not much. Generally, women are advised to eat 1,500 calories a day while men get 2,000.

The FoodNetwork.com piece has menus that will put you at the 2,000-calorie mark, whether you eat meat or not, which is handy if you cook for a family with members on different diets.

There’s a lot on these menus I wouldn’t touch, but hopefully you’ll find some items you like and can add to your recipe list.

Is hummus healthy? Depends on who is asking and how they define healthy

Hummus seems ubiquitous these days. Our local supermarket stocks multiple brands and anytime I eat with my grown children, we seem o end up at a Mideastern restaurant that has hummus on the menu. People certainly think it’s healthy, but it is? EatingWell.com tackles that question in this article.

The answer, like any question about “healthy”, depends on who is asking and why.

“Chickpeas (and thus hummus which is made from chickpeas) are not allowed on the Whole30 diet because they are a legume. For the same reason, hummus is not allowed on a paleo diet. Hummus can be keto friendly, if you eat it in limited amounts and allot carbohydrates in order to make room for it. (Many people count “net carbs” or total carbs minus grams of fiber. In this case, a serving of hummus has 3 net carbs.),” the article states.

So if you’re paleo or Whole30, it’s not. If you’re keto, some of it is ok.

What about those of us trying to cut salt, fat and sugar?

Continue reading “Is hummus healthy? Depends on who is asking and how they define healthy”

Diet trends to watch for in 2022 — know what ashwagandha is?

Cooking Light has out its look at which diets people are quitting in 2022 and what new food trends to expect. Keto is out. Intermittent fasting is in as is something called ashwagandha.

This is what ashwgandha looks like.

Why is keto out? “The diet’s restrictive nature is one reason we think interest is fading. Another reason is that consumers are realizing they can achieve desirable outcomes without eliminating carbs,” the article states.

And for that ashwagandha — “Ashwagandha grew slowly in popularity in 2020 and 2021, but it’s going to be bigger than ever in 2022 so get ready to see this adaptogen everywhere. Used in ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years, adaptogens improve the body’s physiological ability to cope with stress and include ashwagandha, turmeric, holy basil, goji berries, and others—but ashwagandha is one of the most studied.”

That explanation left me scratching my head, so I went to WebMD to find out what this stuff actually is. “Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in Asia and Africa. It is commonly used for stress. There is little evidence for its use as an “adaptogen.” Ashwagandha contains chemicals that might help calm the brain, reduce swelling, lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system. Since ashwagandha is traditionally used as an adaptogen, it is used for many conditions related to stress.” WebMD states.

So it could be another miracle ingredient that really isn;t much of miracle at all. Always beware of any claims that foods can do other than feed you.

Finding new meal ideas can be as close as your local supermarket

Remember when supermarkets put out cards with recipes on them? These used to be pretty common at fish counters especially. Well, that function has moved online — you may find it helpful when doing your own weekly meal planning.

I recently got an email from the Jewel supermarket chain (which is owned by Albertson’s) about a meal planning option in its app. My first reaction was that it would feature high-salt, high-fat, high-sugar processed ingredients. But I was pleasantly surprised.

The app let’s you begin by putting in your dietary restrictions. It doesn’t;t include low-salt as one, unfortunately, I put in carb-conscious instead. Other restrictions I included were dairy-free, no nuts, no soy sauce, no eggs and no sulfites.

Continue reading “Finding new meal ideas can be as close as your local supermarket”

Best diets for 2022? Back to basics

A larger dinner veggie plate, very Mediterranean.

Every year starts with a flurry of stories about diets and people making resolutions to lose weight. We’ve all gained Covid weight haven’t we, sitting around these past two years with no particular place to go?

I just wrote a post about the Mediterranean Diet, which constantly seems to rank at the top. So I wasn’t surprised to see this FoodNetwork.com piece rating it among the three top diets for 2022.

The D.A.S.H. Diet, a close cousin of the Mediterranean, is on here too. The third one is the Flexitarian Diet. This involves a “mix of mostly vegetarian foods, with the freedom to eat meat whenever you feel like it,” FoodNetwork.com reports. That sounds a lot like the first two to me. See what you think, just click here to see the complete article.

Christmas Gift Idea — The Everything Green Mediterranean Cookbook

Anyone with heart issues, or anyone who wants to eat healthy, should be familiar with the Mediterranean Diet, it consistently comes out on top in comparisons of popular diet trends, as I wrote here. So here’s a great holiday gift idea — The Everything Green Mediterranean Cookbook.

Author Peter Minaki put this together during the Pandemic to help people lose weight and get in shape after all the pandemic pounds they may have gained.

And while the name might lead you to think otherwise, there are fish and chicken recipes in here, just no red meat options. If you love artichokes like I do, you’ll find some interesting recipes for those, along with a variety of other options.

Each of the 200 recipes includes nutrition information so you can gauge salt, fat and sugar content and make ingredient substitutions as you like.

Amazon sells the book for $15.19 new, prices vary across various websites.

Cholesterol and Heart-Health: Not Nearly as Simple as We’d Like It To Be

Keep your cholesterol numbers down, particularly the “bad” cholesterol, and you’ll keep your heart healthy…at least that’s what we’d like to think. Sadly, Americans constant search for easy answers about eating and good health gravitate to simple solutions that, most of the time, are simply wrong.

That goes for cholesterol too, according to this article entitled What everyone gets wrong about cholesterol in food on Cnn.com.

The biggest issue, the article notes, “the amount of cholesterol in your food doesn’t necessarily translate to the amount of cholesterol in your blood vessels..”

To elaborate, the article goes on:

‘”Eating foods rich in cholesterol does increase blood cholesterol, usually by a small, but still significant amount,” explained Dr. Stephen Devries, a preventive cardiologist and executive director of the educational nonprofit Gaples Institute in Deerfield, Illinois. But the effect of eating foods that contain a lot of cholesterol “may not be as high as one might expect, because most of the cholesterol in blood actually comes from the body’s own production.” When you consume a bunch of cholesterol, your body will usually make less to compensate.’

Are eggs bad for us because of cholesterol? That’s a more complicated question than you might imagine.

So sorry, it’s not as simple as we’d like. Believe me, I know from first-hand experience. I’ve been on cholesterol-lowering medication since my first stent in 2012 but it didn’t prevent a second blockage in 2017 (and a second stent) and my blood pressure has been elevated recently, so a third blockage could be developing which may require a third angioplasty this summer.

Our bodies and their relationships with what with eat are still much more complex than we know, or would want them to be unfortunately.

Two weeks into my no-sugar challenge — and five pounds lighter

As the year started, my wife challenged me to go for the entire month of January without any added sugar treats. I made it official by blogging about it here. Like a lot of people, we had been eating treats during the pandemic that we normally would not have in the house, such as candy galore from Chicago candy icon Fannie May, or cakes from a local bakery, Tag’s.

The bakery started delivering during the pandemic, even small orders. How could we pass that up? Not well, and you can probably tell that, after 18 days without sugar, I’m now hallucinating about chocolate cake.

The good news, I’ve lost five pounds in the past two weeks or so. The bad news — I’m hungry all the time as I was when I first completely changed my eating habits after a first stent was put in back in 2012.

What would a celebrity trainer say about Drake's Yodels?
Favorites like these haven’t touched my lips yet this year!!!

I also find I’m substituting starchy things — like bagels, English muffins and even whole wheat bread. I had pretty much cut those from my diet in recent years but had some in the freezer this month and so have turned to them.

I did buy some price-reduced after-Christmas candy, M&Ms and chocolate to be specific, which are sitting in our pantry waiting for Feb. 1.

This experiment has reminded me that if you eat healthy, I mean really healthy which means cutting most salt, fat and sugar from your diet, weight loss becomes simple.

You cannot eat enough plain veggies to gain large amounts of weight. Believe me, you should see my broccoli portions these days!

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