Category Archives: Feed Your Family Well

Don’t Forget Chicken – the Most Versatile and Healthy Protein

Baked Marinated Chicken

Our bodies need protein and if you enjoy meat in your diet, chicken is an excellent choice. You may enjoy red meat as much as I do, but chicken is an equally good source of protein,  easier to digest, much lower in fat and calories, and typically has a short preparation time.

When you add in its versatility, you have a winner. There are so many main course dishes based on chicken, you will always have new ways to serve healthy, delicious meals to your family.

As an important part of your chicken cooking repertoire, we recommend the following methods to keep the calories at a minimum and contribute to a healthy heart.

Five Healthy Cooking Methods

Steamed Chicken                                         

You can have a flavorful, tender dinner in 20 minutes or less when you choose steaming. The prep time for this method is minimal and each serving is much lower in calories and fat because oil is not required.

White or dark meat? That is the question. White is healthier (and my favorite) with less fat and fewer calories, but many people prefer the richer, more moist dark meat. Whichever you choose, we recommend you use skinless, boneless pieces.

The secret to amazing flavors when steaming is seasoning.

You can layer the chicken with herbs and citrus slices for a tasty, tender meal. The acidity of citrus (lemons, limes, or oranges) will tenderize the chicken as it cooks.

Salt and pepper both sides of 2 medium chicken breasts, lay them in the steamer and sprinkle with 2 cloves minced garlic and a light dusting of chili flakes (optional). Top with the zest of a large lemon. Add the leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and steam until chicken is tender.

A mixture of paprika, crushed red pepper, and chili powder sprinkled over the chicken works wonders for those who enjoy spicy dishes.

Steaming chicken retains all the nutrients, so adding your favorite vegetables to the cooker creates a lovely nutritious meal.

NOTE: Be sure to use fresh, young chicken. Don’t skimp on cost and buy less than prime or your result may be tough and not-so-delectable.

Boiled Chicken

Boiled Chicken SaladThis is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken because it makes fall-off-the-bone chicken that can be used in so many ways – chicken salad, chicken tacos, nachos, quesadillas, chicken-topped pizza, sliced chicken sandwiches, shredded chicken sandwiches, and many other possibilities.

Use boneless or bone-in – white or dark meat, they all work. Place the children in a Dutch oven or heavy pot, add one onion (sliced), a large celery stalk with leaves (cut in 2” chunks), one bay leaf, salt and pepper, and a large garlic clove. (These are my choices – you will find your favorites when you realize how easy this is.)

Add just enough water to cover the chicken (this is critical), bring the water to a boil, cover, drop to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, just until chicken is tender. Most of the water will be absorbed into the chicken and vegetables.

Remove, drain, slice, and serve with a side of vegetables and a small portion of whole grain pasta (or shred and use in any way you choose).

AND . . . Don’t throw away the broth, it is perfect for chicken soup, which cures all ails.

Baked Chicken

This is one of the easiest ways to prepare chicken and can be extremely tasty.

It is best to use boneless/skinless equally-sized chicken breasts – but dark meat can also be used if you prefer. Place the chicken in a lightly-greased oven-proof baking pan, season with your favorite seasonings and bake at 375° F. until chicken is tender and no longer pink in the center (~15 to 20 minutes).

When done, it’s best to remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Small potatoes and carrot sticks placed around the chicken during baking will absorb all the juices and make a complete meal when served with a crisp green salad.

Experiment with marinating the chicken overnight to add wonderful flavors to the meat – see the information below  – Learn to Marinate.

Grilled Chicken

Grilling is a delicious, low-calorie traditional American method of Grilled Chickencooking chicken – especially during the summer months. It can be grilled in the oven (under the broiler) or on a BBQ grill on the back patio.

Brush lightly with melted butter (optional), sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, a light dusting of paprika and the juice of one lemon. Voila! You have a lovely meal when served with grilled potatoes and fresh asparagus. Don’t overcook.

little more preparation but is worth it. I use chicken tenders and cut them into small pieces, so they cook quickly. (Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if you like it hot)

Stir-Fried Chicken

This method takes a little more preparation but is worth it. I use chicken tenders and cut them into small pieces, so they cook quickly. (Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if you like it hot)

You will need a large cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven, or wok with a small amount of oil.

Cut up the chicken and vegetables of choice (broccoli, zucchini, green peppers, diced carrots, garlic, onions, etc.)

Add all the pieces to the hot cooking pan, season to taste – stir and cook until meat is no longer pink and veggies are tender. (Do not overcook!)

Serve immediately with steamed brown Basmati rice.

Learn to Marinate

Good marinade tenderizers the chicken, keeps it moist when cooking, and adds wonderful flavor without excess fat.

Tips for Marinating

  1. To keep the dish as low in calories as possible, use skinless chicken breasts – dark meat is higher in fat and calories.
  2. The skin adds 20% more fat. If you prefer the added flavor of cooking with the skin, remove it before eating.
  3. Marinating for suggested times below allows the juices to be fully absorbed and makes the chicken tender. Over-marinating can result in a less-then-desired outcome.

Time Chart for Marinating Chicken

  Source: https://www.eatbydate.com/long-marinate-chicken/ 

  1. Always discard the marinade once you have removed the chicken. DO NOT use it for anything else or you risk salmonella poisoning.

Tasty Marinades

    • Teriyaki Chicken Marinade: a simple sesame-ginger marinade
    • Chicken Enchilada Marinade: a no-cook version of my favorite enchilada sauce
    • Tandoori Chicken Marinade: a simple curry marinade that is big on flavor
    • Honey Mustard Marinade: always a classic for you mustard-lovers
    • Pesto Chicken Marinade: pesto sauce works just as well as a marinade!

After trying some of the above recipes or others that you can find on the internet, tap you’re your creativity and experiment – create your own recipes. There are many combinations of ingredients that make healthy, delicious chicken dishes.

Check out this article, How to Make Your Own Marinades from TheSpruceEats.com.

If you are pushed for time, use one of the gourmet bottled marinades from your local grocery store – read the labels carefully and avoid those filled with unnecessary additives.

Read this article in Prevention Magazine, Marinades: Your Meal’s Healthiest Friend for healthy bottled choices.

Happy Eating!

 

Related Articles: 

Chicken Salad – Cool and  Healthy

Why a Healthy Diet Should Be Your #1 Priority

Uncertainty, isolation (social distancing), working from home, fear of illness, etc. etc. It’s all too much!

Living in a world that changed overnight and having no idea what is coming is terrifying and stressful – at least it has been for me. My emotions are all over the place. I just want it to be over, so we can go back to some sense of normalcy.

But – what do we do in the meantime? 

We take care of our minds and bodies  so we can stay healthy. That is more important NOW than ever!

Take Care of Your Body and Mind with a Healthy Diet

Young woman  stress eating cake
Image by Massonforstock

In this world of convenience and flavor-enhanced foods, it is very easy to indulge in foods that taste great but provide little nutrition.

When we get stressed or worried, that tendency increases and we fill our bodies with “treats” that make us feel better for a minute or two.

As difficult as it is – when things get tough, we must double down and focus on eating good nutritious foods that will keep our minds and bodies strong to face whatever challenges lie ahead.

Worry and stress take a terrible toll on the body. The two things that are most important to minimize the toll are exercise and a healthy diet filled with nutritious food.  

There is no reason not to exercise since the majority of us are restricted to our homes – indoors or outdoor – just do it! At least 30 minutes each day and in the fresh air is preferable. 

The Link Between Diet and Depression

We are living in a strange new world of isolation – or social distancing in the current vernacular – but, we haven’t lost the ability to be smart about what we eat – unless we let our worry rule our senses.

Your daily food choices directly affect the way you feel mentally and physically. If you are using fear and discouragement as justification for stress eating – stuffing yourself with sweets with little thought about nutrition, you are hurting yourself far more than you think you are.

Many ongoing studies are finding the link between diet and mental health. 

People who eat a steady diet of processed foods, added sugars and white flour/sugar products are more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression. 

Those who consume natural foods including lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – limiting their intake of red meat enjoy stable moods and are not as likely to suffer from depression.

It is difficult to stay positive, keep yourself busy, and take care of your loved ones when you are feeling down.

A new study by the NIH (National Institute of Health) released May 16, 2019, finds that ultra-processed foods cause overeating, weight gain and an increased risk of depression.  Don’t let any of that happen to you. 

First and foremost . . .

Pay Attention to What You Are Eating

Nutrient-rich foods are necessary for good health and must be the bulk of your diet. Focus on eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible!

Junk foods, fast foods, and packaged processed foods are filled with added sugars and empty calories (little or no nutrient value). They may taste good, but when eaten as part of your regular diet, they cause weight gain and damage your body. They should be eliminated or eaten rarely in very small quantities.

Healthy Diet Foods in Fridge

Healthy Eating Guidelines

  1. PROTEIN – Be sure you eat enough protein. Eggs, beef, fish/shellfish, chicken, pork (including nitrate-free bacon, sausage, ham), lentils, beans, nuts, and some grains, i.e. quinoa.
  2.  DAIRY (Another good source of protein) –  Milk, cottage cheese, all varieties of cheese,  and non-fat Greek yogurt.
  3.  FRUITS & VEGETABLES –  You can eat unlimited amounts of vegetables and a generous amount of fruits every day – but be aware that some fruits are higher in calories than others.
  4. CARBOHYDRATES  – Provide necessary fuel for critical processes in your body – especially the central nervous system and brain; they also lower your risk for disease. It is never a good idea to stop eating healthy carbs.   Healthy Carbs – whole grains such as whole-wheat flour, quinoa, oatmeal; popcorn; nuts and seeds; beans and lentils; and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables such as berries, bananas, apples, pears, avocado, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, kale, sweet potatoes, and beets. Bad Carbs (avoid) – All processed and refined foods such as white flour, rice, pasta, bread, crackers, cereal, and refined sugars like table sugar and added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, etc.
  5. FATS  are necessary for vitamin and mineral absorption, blood clotting, building cells, and muscle movement. Healthy Fats (unsaturated) – These can be found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and vegetable oils (olive, avocado, and flaxseed). Unhealthy Fats (trans-fats – AVOID Completely)

Foods to Avoid (or Eliminate)

  1. SUGAR AND SUGAR PRODUCTS – These are empty calories; the refining process essentially removes all nutrients.  Includes most sweets, ice cream, candy, doughnuts, cookies, cake, pie, desserts.  Anything made with white flour, processed sugar, added sugars of any kind, and high fructose corn syrup, etc. If you enjoy desserts – make your own from scratch so you control the ingredients and avoid the additives.
  2. FAST FOODS – Avoid or. . . indulge RARELY and choose carefully from the menu.
  3.  JUNK FOOD – Snack foods made of white flour, added sugars, and high sodium content such as Pop-Tarts, chips, crackers, pretzels, Cheetos, Packaged Fruit Pies, Snack Cakes, donuts, chocolate, candy bars, etc.
  4. FLAVORED BEVERAGES – (AVOID or consume rarely) – Sodas, coffee, tea, energy drinks, processed fruit juice, hot chocolate, specialty beverages like lattes and Frappuccinos, etc.  Sugary drinks and energy drinks (high caffeine content) should be avoided completely. An occasional cup of coffee or herbal tea is acceptable, just don’t fall into the habit of drinking many cups of fully caffeinated coffee every day.
  5. PREPACKAGED/PROCESSED FOODS – (AVOID COMPLETELY) These are loaded with poison additives and added sugars. Don’t eat them.  More and more studies are finding that consumption of heavily processed foods contributes to heart disease and early death.   

Be Sure to Get Enough of the Following:

  1. WATER – Keep your body hydrated. Listen to your body, if you are thirsty  – DRINK water!  
  2. FIBER  – Vital for a healthy digestive tract and helps with weight loss (makes you feel full).  Fiber can be found in all types of fresh whole berries; dried fruits; fresh whole pears, apples, grapes; vegetables such as corn, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and zucchini; whole-grain bread, cereals, and pasta; seeds, all nuts (especially almonds),  and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, peas, and all types of beans).
  3. MINERALS – Necessary for regulating metabolism, staying hydrated, and building strong bones and teeth. If you eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables,  in most cases you will get all the minerals you need.

Eat Well and Stay Healthy!

The grocery stores are open! Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, etc. are available – so shop for the good stuff and eat right.

If you don’t want to go to the store – have it delivered, or order and pick up.  

If we take care of ourselves and each other, we will get through this!

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Healthy and Simple Mid-Morning Snacks

Five Simple Guidelines for a Healthy Diet 

7 Ways to Teach Your Children to Eat Healthy

Eat Healthy
Image by monkey_business

It is so frustrating.  I want my children to eat healthy, but the only vegetable Johnny will eat is raw carrots.

My youngest wants chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

I try to get my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, but it seems like an uphill battle.

I talk to them about eating right all the time, but they just don’t seem to listen.

Children are visual learners — they watch, they see, they do.

So . . . let them “DO.” Turn your kitchen into a “learning lab.”

Cooking with Mom or Dad can be one of the most fun and educational experiences possible for children. And . . . it will create memories that last a lifetime.

Once you get them started, my guess is they will want to do a lot of cooking on their own.

My mom was a great basic cook — and never used a recipe (at least not that I can remember). It was her ability to cook delicious meals so effortlessly that inspired me to develop my own skill set.

Her gift to me was free rein in the kitchen to experiment and cook as often as I wanted. That freedom developed my passion for the art and an appreciation of what it takes to create good meals for the family.

If you want your children to enjoy long, healthy lives that are sustained by healthy eating habits, now is the time to start them on the right path.

Seven Ways to Inspire Them

One-on-One Time

Work with one child at a time. Let him/her be your partner in planning a healthy balanced dinner. When you finish planning, make a list of the groceries needed and take him/her shopping with you.

Shopping provides a first-hand experience for buying healthy foods like organic produce, pastured eggs, and grain-fed beef. They can also learn how to read labels to avoid dangerous additives (If they don’t know what it means, or can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.)

Keep a Stool in the Kitchen

Invite the children to watch while you cook. In the beginning, you can explain what you are doing, why you chose the foods you are using for good nutrition and how the flavors and textures make more interesting meals. Make the explanations fun and interesting.

Let them help whenever possible — reading the recipe, helping you measure, mixing dry ingredients together, tossing the salad, etc.

Kids are also great taste testers, which is a smart way to get them to sample new foods.

Start Them Early

How early? As soon as they show interest. Many four-year-olds love being in the kitchen.

Start with fun, easy foods like healthy snacks, breakfast meals, and sandwiches. Making cookies was a family favorite for my kids. Even with desserts, you can impress on them the importance of making foods from scratch — so they have control over the ingredients.

Depending on age and ability when preparing full meals, let them do as much as possible. Teach them how to peel and cut up vegetables, break lettuce leaves for the salad, combine and toss the salad, place chopped veggies in the steamer, wash the potatoes for baking, layer the foods for a casserole, etc.

As early as possible, teach them how to use knives safely. The younger ones can use kitchen scissors. It is easy to teach kitchen safety when they are cooking with you.

Introduce them to healthy cooking techniques: steaming, sautéing with healthy oils, baking, roasting, and broiling.

Family Night Cook-Off

This can be a wonderful family activity. One night a week have everyone help prepare dinner.

Each week have a different family member (including mom and dad) plan the menu, which must include a main dish, a vegetable, and dessert.

There should be no restrictions as long as the dishes are made from scratch with healthy ingredients**.

Before you start preparation, be sure everyone is clear about his/her responsibility. (Don’t forget setting the table, and clean up.)

A Family that Eats Together . . .

Always sit down together for dinner (and for breakfast as often as possible) The old adage, “A family that eats together, stays together” is still very true.

Sitting down to a healthy, delicious family dinner every night to eat, talk, and laugh is a powerful glue for holding the family together.

This has never been more important than it is today. Unfortunately, eating together is becoming less and less common. Don’t let that happen to your family.

Be Subtle When Introducing Habit Change

We live in a world of “super-sized” everything and frequent mindless eating, which makes portion contol more difficult.

Over the years, the average size of a dinner plate has increased from seven or eight inches to 12 inches.

Rather than preaching portion control that may or may not work, buy and use smaller plates (nine inches max) for your meals so the plate looks full, with less food.

You will probably have to buy “lunch” plates in order to get a smaller size. They can be purchased on Amazon and Target.

It would be wise to fill the plates and serve (rather than having people serve themselves). Keep the serving sizes reasonable — leave a little white space around the portions — avoid stacking.

Also, discourage mindless munching of unhealthy snacks when sitting at the computer or while watching TV.

Always have healthy snacks available. For example, fresh fruit (washed and ready to eat), plain yogurt topped with fresh berries and drizzled with a little honey, or real cheese and 100% whole-grain crackers.

Create Eating Adventures

Introduce new foods often. Make it fun. This helps develop a willingness to try new foods.

If you have a picky eater, adding something new to the menu with foods they already like can increase their repertoire of nutritious foods.

The rule in our family was they must each one bite of everything served. It worked most of the time. As adults, three out of four of my children eat almost everything.

If over time there are foods that several family members really dislike, don’t worry about it. There are enough healthy foods available they can still maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

The habit of healthy eating begins early — at home. As a parent, it is important to take every opportunity to help your children develop a positive attitude toward healthy eating so they can live long, productive lives.

Final Factors to Consider

Are you setting the example you want your children to follow? What changes do you need to make?

By implementing any or all of the above suggestions, you will be helping you children to enjoy preparing and eating healthy foods. 

Adventures in the kitchen and eating well will become family traditions. 

**When you prepare meals from scratch, you have full control over the ingredients and you know that your family is getting the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.

We recommend TWEENS and TEENS, A Cookbook to Get You Started, as a useful tool to use with those just learning to cook.

Related Article:  Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Foods

5 Simple Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

How would you rate your eating habits?  Good? Bad? Or somewhere in the middle?

Are you willing to change your habits to ensure a healthy, nutritious way of eating?

If so, you are in luck – below are 5 simple guidelines for a healthy diet.

Rule #1

First and foremost . . .  buy all-natural, whole, unprocessed foods. Avoid packaged, prepared foods that are loaded with additives, fillers, and preservatives.

Guidelines for a Healthy Diet
Image by Tijana

Rule #2

Cook from scratch using high-quality, fresh ingredients. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on instant foods and packaged meals, learn to create dishes using fresh and healthy ingredients.

Prepare highly nutritious dishes without all the harmful additives, excessive sugars, and fats.

For example – Create casseroles using brown Basmati rice, low-fat milk, fresh vegetables, and lean meats or chicken. I guarantee there will be fewer calories (and no additives).

Yes – cooking from scratch takes more time to prepare and requires developing a rhythm for creating healthy dishes on a regular basis.

With practice, you will become more and more efficient and dinners will go together quickly.

You need to be on the lookout for tips and tricks on how to cook ahead (making a portion or all of the meal the night before – or cooking several meals on the weekend that you can freeze.

Then, you can have dinner on the table in under an hour. (A good place to start is with my book, Cook Ahead – Freezer to Table,)

Rule #3

Keep only healthy desserts and snacks in your pantry and fridge.

Children (and adults) love a tasty snack after school (or work).

  • Keep a freezer full of frozen snacks such as fruit juice popsicles and frozen fruit – blueberries and grapes are especially good.
  • Always have a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter (or in the fridge) – ready for kids to grab, peel and eat.
  • Place a bowl in the fridge of sliced fresh fruit or vegetables – with a dip. Low-fat sour cream and powdered sugar ready for sprinkling (or vanilla Greek yogurt) are great for fruit; and guacamole or hummus for the veggies.
  • Have cans or bags of nuts available for little hands to grab and eat.
  • Offer string cheese to nibble on. This provides quick protein for energy and calms the appetite until dinner.

Rule #4

Buy lean meats – Leaner cuts of meat are the best choice. Always cook a little more than your family will eat and use leftovers for healthier lunches and to create new dishes for an easy weekend meal.

Rule #5

Use healthier oils – My preference is olive oil, which is great for making salad dressings and also for cooking (but not for baking) – use pure canola oil for baking, when required.

If you are watching calories try scrambling eggs or sautéing foods, with cooking sprays. (My preference is PAM® Cooking Spray.) But, having said that, a little butter goes a long way and is much tastier.

There you have it – five simple guidelines for a healthy diet.

All you have to do is choose to follow them, and you will be on your way to a healthier, happier life.

You will look forward to each day with greater enthusiasm, you will have the energy to meet the demands of your busy life, and you will enjoy a wonderful sense of well-being.

The next post will include more specific suggestions on types of foods  to fill your pantry that will make eating healthy easier. 

 

Nine Healthy Drinks for a Successful Diet

There are plenty of lower calorie, healthy drinks that can satisfy your taste buds and battle the bulge.

Losing weight doesn’t mean you must sacrifice all beverage-based enjoyment. Even an occasional not-so-healthy favorite is acceptable, as long as it isn’t a frequent occurrence.

Low Calorie Drinks That Are Good for You

Green Tea

Green tea contains valuable antioxidants that supercharge weight loss benefits. Extract from green tea is one of the most common ingredients added to fat burning supplements. Tea leaves contain many antioxidants such as catechins, which may help decrease body weight.4

Matcha is a Japanese green tea with higher concentrations of catechins.6

Caffeine, also in many green teas, may help support weight loss, as well.7 In one study, people who consumed extra caffeine were able to more effectively maintain their weight loss.8

If you’re feeling “hangry,” brew yourself a cup of healthy green tea to keep you on track.

Black Tea

Black tea contains polyphenols, micronutrients from plant-based foods, which may help prevent obesity. The polyphenols in black tea promote weight loss through calorie reduction, increased fat breakdown, and increasing friendly gut bacteria.9

Who would have thought the humble cup of tea could be a health drink?

Coffee

When we think “coffee” we think “caffeine” – the most widely-used nootropic in the world. There are millions who use coffee to increase energy and productivity.

Perks of Drinking Coffee

Healthy drink - cup of coffee
Credit: amenic181@iStock

It was widely accepted for many years that coffee was a contributor to heart disease and high blood pressure. Today, there is some disagreement with that conclusion. Recent studies suggest that coffee may actually help prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and liver disease.10

Coffee help with weight loss because it can work as an appetite suppressant; plus, caffeine users are more successful at weight maintenance.8

Water

The body is 60% water and 71% of the Earth’s surface is water. Our lives depend on it.  And, yet, most people do not drink enough water to ensure a long, healthy life.

Staying well-hydrated is critical to your well-being . . . and it helps with weight loss.  While it seems counterintuitive, the body can retain water if not properly hydrated. The water weight can add extra pounds on the scale.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an average adequate daily fluid intake [for daily life (not on a diet)] is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

Specific water requirements for your body depend on many factors – body weight, activity level, health condition, age, climate in which you live, etc.

As a general rule – eight glasses of water daily is the minimum you should be drinking while dieting.

People often mistake thirst for hunger and eat when they should drink Healthy Drink - Bottled Waterwater.

A glass of water before each meal can help control the appetite. It was found that overweight adults who drank 17 ounces of water before a meal lost 44% more weight than the control group.13

Drinking water can also increase resting energy expenditure (REE) the amount of calories consumed at rest. A study of children showed an increase of REE up to 25% for 40 minutes after consumption.14  This seems to hold true for adults, as well.

I’ve heard people say, water is boring – although personally, I love it. There is nothing more refreshing. If you don’t enjoy water, maybe you should spice it up a bit. Add a slice of lemon to a glass of ice water. Or, add lemon juice or mint leaves to hot water for your morning wake-up drink.

Drinking water, especially warm water, first thing in the morning can flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body? Try it – it’s good for your health, and your diet.

Vegetable and Fruit Juices

Consuming whole vegetables maximizes nutrient intake; plus, they have a heavy water content. But, preparing vegetables takes time, which is a limited resource for many.

Eating enough greens can be challenging. You would have to be a rabbit to eat several cups of spinach, broccoli, carrots, and kale in one sitting. An easier option is to make green smoothies –or fruit and/or vegetable smoothies with added greens. All you need is a good blender or juicer.

Packaged fruit juice is not a good option. It is almost like flavored sugar-water – high in calories (because of the sugar content) and low in nutrients. Freshly-made fruit juice is the only option – or eat the whole fruit, which may be easier. The water content still counts.

Healthy Drink - Veg/Fruit Juice
Credit: pilipphoto@iStock

People tend to overcomplicate juicing recipes by requiring unusual ingredients. Use simple combinations like the following:

  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • Handful of kale
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • Lemon juice to taste

To make it easy on yourself, get my book, JUICING for LIFE on Amazon.  It will make healthy juicing a breeze.

You may also want to check out this excellent article 25 Green Smoothie Benefits You Can Never Ignore.  

Out of the Box Options

There are a few less common healthy drinks you can try that may help with weight loss. Water should be first on your list, but we wanted to be sure you were well-informed.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Many people have apple cider vinegar in their pantry, but should you drink it?  Recently there has been hype about it being helpful in weight loss.

It contains acetic acid, a compound linked to decreased belly fat and reduced accumulation of fat in the liver.

In a study performed on rats, apple cider vinegar helped prevent obesity in those with type 2 diabetes.15 In another animal study, it also reduced body weight in obese mice.16

The research on apple cider vinegar performed in humans is limited, but some research suggests it may improve metabolic health in humans.17,18 Consuming two tablespoons of ACV per day resulted in decreased body weight, waist circumference, and body fat compared to a control group.19

Some articles suggest that drinking apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach may help improve digestion; consuming it after meals may improve insulin sensitivity and help lower blood sugar levels.20  Does it work? There is no solid evidence that it does.

Electrolyte Drinks

Electrolytes are often referenced in connection with athletes, but everyone needs them to function properly. They are important for maintaining proper fluid balance in the body.

Electrolytes are lost in sweat during workouts. Sports drinks have added electrolytes to counteract the loss. The drinks may also have a high calorie count because of the sugar content.

Remember – every calorie counts on a diet. Be sure to read labels. Low-calorie electrolyte drinks can help maintain a proper electrolyte balance without the extra sugar.

Liquid Meal Replacements

These have been popular in America for decades. People like the convenience.

Meal replacements remove the hassle of meal preparation. You simply drink your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. These products usually have a well-rounded macronutrient profile and fewer calories than a normal meal.They may also be fortified with extra vitamins and minerals.

Word of cautionread the label. They may contain additives.

Meal replacements can keep the calorie-count low; but, they may not satisfy your hunger like solid food would. The average “shake” has ~200 calories and 20 grams of protein. A small chicken breast with a side of veggies would have a similar calorie count and be more filling.

We don’t recommend using meal replacements as substitutes for solid meals. Use them for emergencies.

Liquid Cleanses or Detox Diets

These are popular because of the promises of fast weight loss.

They deliver on the promise for two reasons.

  1. During the cleanse, your calorie intake is minimal – far below the daily recommended allowance, even for dieting. It is an extreme form of crash dieting and should never be used more than a few days. Follow the instructions carefully and let your physician know you are doing it.
  2. A cleanse diet has laxative powers, as the name implies. They are designed to make people lose water weight and gut fiber weight as opposed to true fat loss. The weight loss is short-term. The only time a cleanse diet should be used is to “kick-start” a healthier weight-loss diet.

Check out my book titled, DETOX, on Amazon. It will help you make an informed decision regarding a cleanse diet. Be sure to check with your physician, as well.

What kinds of beverages are you consuming each day? Are they helping you lose weight? Or, are they causing you to plateau, or even gain weight?

Answer the questions honestly and make the necessary adjustments. Choosing low-calorie, healthy drinks can make a significant difference in your diet results.

See you next time for Segment #3 – “Drinks You Should Avoid for a Successful Diet.”

Adapted with permission from the original article published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal.

Note:  This was a long article originally that I am posting in segments for easier reading. If you want more information on the research, click on the numbered links in the posting. They will take you to the references in the original article.