Beauty Foods

Eating a healthful diet is important not only for maintaining a healthy weight and increasing your body’s energy and vitality, but also for enhancing your natural beauty. You don’t have to buy expensive lotions and creams that promise beauty and a better life in a bottle; all you have to do is open your fridge!

Eating foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E are essential to maintaining a healthy complexion, shiny hair, and strong nails.

  • Antioxidants “remove the free radicals from your skin and body that cause you to age prematurely.” Simply put, they protect cells from damage and heal damaged cells. There are many types of antioxidants, and they all serve a specific purpose. For example, lycopene, which can be found in brightly colored red and orange foods, protects the skin from UV rays that “causes sunspots, dryness and wrinkles.” Pink grapefruits, cooked tomatoes, and watermelon are all excellent sources of lycopene. Other foods rich in antioxidants include berries, prunes, artichokes, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cooked spinach, legumes, nuts, green tea, and even red wine! The darker the food’s pigment, the higher the amount of nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Vitamin A “helps revitalize skin by increasing cell turnover and encouraging new skin cell growth” by eliminating dry, scaly, rough skin. Vitamin A can be found in bright yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, but are highest in sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens (like kale and spinach), carrots, butternut squash, and apricots.
  • Vitamin C is a powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidant that “boosts collagen production to smooth skin.” It helps firm the skin and improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration. Foods rich in Vitamin C are often red, orange, or green. Guava, red bell peppers, kale, broccoli, papaya, kiwi, and strawberries are all excellent sources of Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E keeps skin soft and moisturized by “promoting oil production.” This vitamin can be found in: seeds (especially sunflower seeds), nuts (such as almonds, pine nuts, and peanuts), plant oils like safflower oil, wheat germ, and avocados.

Consuming plenty of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and water also play a key role in maintaining a youthful, healthy appearance. A healthy, happy digestive system = a healthy, glowing complexion.

  • Fiber detoxifies the body regularly. Without a strong digestive system, the body isn’t able to absorb essential nutrients and properly eliminate waste, resulting in breakouts and a dull complexion.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, chia and flaxseeds, and nuts) act as a natural moisturizer for dry skin and help brighten the complexion, reducing wrinkles and acne. They also promote growth and shine in hair and nails.
  • Water keeps the skin hydrated with a youthful appearance by maintaining the skin’s elasticity.

Here’s a bonus: No matter what you eat or drink, you won’t fully reap the benefits unless you’re getting adequate sleep (7-8 hours daily) to refuel and rejuvenate the body. So rest up and be ready to wake up to healthier, glowing skin. Hey, they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing! ;)

Anneris

Source: Doctor Oz

More Than Just a Food Blog

I had a difficult time deciding whether to relaunch this blog or start something brand new; something that incorporates more of who I am: an artist, a social entrepreneur, an advocate for women, a compulsive [insert anything that needs planning] planner – you get the picture. Coincidentally, during a recent OCD organizing fit, I came across all my old emails from the era when I was better known as “Ms. Healthy Weight Loss.” That’s when I realized this was more than just a food blog…

Before starting this blog, I lost 45lbs by eating better quality food and exercising regularly. Having grown tired of giving my long-winded speech when friends, family, and complete strangers asked me how I did it, I wrote it all down (with the help of my brilliant younger sister) and sent it around. It contained basic health guidelines, healthy living tips, and sample meals I loved. This soon grew into an e-mail list, which served as an online support network and resource for those interested in living healthier lives.

Eventually Fit Foods For Thought came about because, even through all of those channels, I still had way too much to say about food! It was a huge undertaking: writing weekly blog posts, keeping up with food news, tweeting, being everyone’s “it girl” for healthy living, and basically trying to save the world one conventionally grown apple at a time. Nonetheless, it was rewarding – in and of itself – to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with an audience I built during my weight loss transformation and with everyone out there in cyber land who evidently wanted to hear what I had to say (yes, that’s you!).

I am back here today, nearly three years later, still filled with so much gratitude but more importantly insight on what really matters in my life: food matters. I am happy to relaunch my blog and I am excited for what’s in store for all of us in this journey. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve this time around but for now I’ll leave you with these inspiring words taken from an old blog post…

I do what I do because I want to help people. I want everyone to have the opportunity to make the best choices in order to live their best lives. It is truly reassuring to know that my words do touch people and that I do motivate people because it makes me feel one step closer to impacting the world at large.

Sasha

Tip Tuesday: Stick to a Schedule

The real “magic” of sustainable weight management is eating every 3-4 hours (give or take 30 minutes), 5-6 times per day. This set schedule in conjunction with eating smaller portions enables your body to process food quickly and appropriately, which in turn helps you naturally lose weight. There is a technical explanation behind this but I will spare you the boring details!

If you are lucky enough to have a flexible work/school schedule, plan your day around your mealtimes (not the other way around) so that you can ensure proper nutrition daily. If your schedule is a bit more stringent, try your best to fit in all of your meals even if it means you must have a working lunch. Eating while you work is not usually recommended because it may cause you to eat too much or not eat enough and may aggravate your digestive process (i.e., indigestion). However, if this is your only option, it is better to eat than not eat at all.

Your eating schedule is very personal to you. It should start as soon as you wake up (give or take 30 minutes) and end two hours before you go to sleep. Food is energy. You need energy to do even the simplest of tasks like getting ready in the morning and commuting to work. Similarly, you need energy at the end of your day to do whatever it is that is keeping you up. As long as you stick to your schedule, allow two hours before bedtime for your body to digest food properly, and get adequate amount of sleep (ideally 7-8 hours) you can eat as late as you need to.

I have provided eating schedules  below for four different scenarios. Keep in mind these are guidelines that may need to be adjusted to reflect your personal schedule.

  • Early to Rise, Early to Bed.
    6:00AM – Breakfast
    9:00AM – Snack
    12:00PM – Lunch
    3:00PM – Snack
    6:00PM – Dinner
  • Early to Rise, Late to Bed.
    6:00AM – Breakfast
    9:00AM – Snack
    12:00PM – Lunch
    3:00PM – Snack
    6:00PM – Dinner
    9:00PM – Snack
  • Late to Rise, Early to Bed.
    10:00AM – Breakfast
    1:00PM – Lunch
    4:00PM – Snack
    7:00PM – Dinner
  • Late to Rise, Late to Bed.
    10:00AM – Breakfast
    1:00PM – Snack
    4:00PM – Lunch
    7:00PM – Snack
    10:00PM – Dinner

The key is making sure your work/life schedule fits into your eating schedule and vice versa. When you achieve this, it will be easy for you to follow and adapt your eating schedule as your life changes. Ergo, sustainable weight management!

Sasha

Thanksgiving

Amidst this festive occasion, I am elated to have received this message from a past colleague:

I lost a massive amount of weight. I was 235lbs now I’m 190lbs. I’m still working on going a little lower. However, I’m looking to tone up. I know we only spoke a few times but I just want to thank you. I took a lot of the information you gave me and put it to work.

Congratulations and you are very welcome! :-D

Sasha

Healthy Living Saves Money

One of the most common arguments against healthy eating is that it is too expensive but the hard, cold facts below prove otherwise. While reading through budgeting tips on LearnVest, I was not surprised to find that four out of six ways listed for saving money were also healthy living strategies.

Drink more water. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American spends $944 per year on beverages. Drinking anything other than water can really add up. Skip your soda and switch to water. You and your wallet will feel better.
Eat at home. Perhaps it seems obvious that eating in will save you money, but to put it in terms of dollars, the average person spends $2,668 per year on food outside of the home, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number goes way up if you live in a metropolitan city.
Make a shopping list and stick to it. Know what you need before you go to the store (any store!). Don’t stray from the list or be tempted by things that catch your eye.
Always opt to walk. Avoid using your car and even public transportation, as both will cost you a lot. If you can, you should always choose to walk. The average person spends $2,384 per year on gas, and $538 per year on public transportation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The lesson to be learned in that you have to be smart about eating and living smart. If you put some extra thought into your lifestyle choices and revamp them in a smart, healthy way you can keep costs low. So make the conscious effort to eat and live healthfully and don’t worry about breaking the piggy bank!

Sasha

Tip Tuesday: Make It Yourself

In the age of instant gratification and industrialized food systems, we have truly lost the value in cooking and preparing our own meals. True, eating out is inevitable but have we really come so far from the natural world to not recognize the correlation between fast food (of even the healthiest kind) and weight gain, illness, or disease?

Whether your goal is to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, you should limit the amount of times you eat out or order food. The purpose of this is not to torture or restrict you but rather to allow you to have a better grasp and control over the exact ingredients, portions, calories, and quality of the food you put into your body.

There are several benefits associated with preparing your own meals. For the purpose of keeping this post short, simple, and sweet I have only outlined three.

  • Personal. You will simply feel better. Eating good quality meals that you prepare yourself will give you natural energy and will make you look and feel younger!
  • Health. Food directly affects your health. When you make things yourself you have all the power – that is, if you have taken the time to read Nutrition Facts labels and have brought only the best quality food into your kitchen. Making good food choices reduces health risks and promotes proper bodily function.
  • Economical. If you tend to eat out often, a month’s worth of healthy groceries will be less expensive, especially because you are now able to stretch food out for a longer period of time since you are eating smaller portions.

So next time you find yourself reaching over for the takeout menu, think twice for a better quality life!

Sasha

RUN, Don’t Walk

Last night I went running around my neighborhood for the first time. I do realize that to the average person this does not sound very special or interesting. However, coming from someone who has always hated running, it is quite an accomplishment!

People often ask me to tell them the “secrets” to weight loss and expect me to respond with an extensive workout routine consisting mostly of running. I can only laugh because my weight loss journey cannot be credited at all to running! In fact, the few times I attempted to run during my journey I felt as though I would keel over and die. I did not become remotely open to running until after I lost weight and became more physically fit but even then I would run on the treadmill for no more than 3 minutes while holding on for dear life.

About two months ago I felt ambitious enough on the treadmill to run for 3 minutes but this time without holding on. It felt good but I never tried it again. For the past few days, however, I found myself having that same ambitious urge to run so I finally decided to test the waters in the comfort of my own neighborhood.

It was my first running experience in nature and – more importantly – lasting longer than 3 minutes. I ran a few laps around the block for almost half an hour. Though I took a few breaks I felt great and was really proud of myself in the end. Having had such a positive experience, I plan on incorporating running into my routine more regularly. To think I used to hate running; really, who would have thought?

Sasha

Food Review Friday: Chips

Yes, you read correctly: the infamous bag-o’-chips. I often find myself gravitating towards these salty treats during snack time or when I feel like eating a little something extra after a meal. As much as I would love to make my own, these days I simply do not have the time.

Enter: vegetable chips. They are crispy, crunchy, and healthier to boot! But I do not mean the pseudo vegetable chips that come in carrot, spinach, and tomato flavor. These chips are much more exciting – exotic, to be exact. The product I will be reviewing today are Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips. Below are the nutrition facts for the Original flavor.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving / Serving Size = 14 chips)
Calories 150
Calories from Fat 80
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 50mg
Total Carbohydrates 16g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugar 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A 8%
Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 2%
Iron 2%
Ingredients:  Seasonal mix of root vegetables (sweet potato, parsnip, batata, taro, yuca), canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil, beet juice concentrate (for color), salt.

Trade those boring, greasy chips for Terra Chips at your next get-together. These colorful chips add a festive adornment to any party tray. Their appearance will definitely give your guests something to talk about unless of course their flavor leaves them speechless! Terra chips are thin, crunchy, but not at all greasy; mildly salted with a hint of sweetness; very light but full of flavor.

At first I thought the assortment of root vegetables would taste as weird as it sounds – especially all in one bag – but, as the bag states, there is something quite exotic in flavor that makes these chips so deliciously addicting. Plus, how often do you eat taro or parsnip or yuca or batata? Probably not very often. Each vegetable adds a distinct flavor that blends well together to form a rockin’ party in your mouth!

Besides the flavor and unique assortment of vegetables used, these chips contain more than half as much sodium as your average traditional potato chip and three times more fiber! The downfall – and it is a major downfall – is that they are not baked. Thus, although a bit healthier than traditional potato chips, they are not entirely healthy.

For this unfortunate reason, I rate this product 3 cupcakes. :-( To turn my frown upside-down Terra should create a baked variety of these chips, although they probably will not taste nearly as good. Nonetheless, every once in a while you will find me munching on a bag of these, which will be my guilty pleasure until I find the time to make my own exotic vegetable chips or at least a healthier pre-made option. Any suggestions?

Fit Foods Rating: 3 cupcakes

Sasha

Restaurant Review: Slice West Village

Looking for somewhere new to eat in New York City this weekend? Grab a slice at Slice located in the Upper East Side and in the West Village in Manhattan.

I first heard about Slice around the time of its Grand Opening in December 2009. Created by a fellow Cornellian, Slice caught my eye not only because I looove pizza but also because I had been looking for a pizza shop that was healthy yet affordable. I went to Slice West Village for the first time in May but it was so good that I had to go back. That, and the fact that they recently obtained a sidewalk seating permit. I went for the second time last Friday evening. Though I did not get to sit outside I was quite satisfied sitting right at the window. Before discussing my experience I will first provide you with a bit of background about the restaurant.

Slice, The Perfect Food is a pizza shop that specializes in fresh pizza made to order using organic and all-natural ingredients. They also cater to special dietary needs and food allergies by having gluten-free, lactose-free, and wheat-free options available. But wait, there is more! Slice currently has a “Pay It Forward with Slice” Program in which they partner with schools and companies to provide free pizza parties and health seminars that aim to teach children in less fortunate schools about health and wellness. In the inventors’ own words: “We look forward to putting a smile on all kids faces, one pizza at a time.” How’s that for social responsibility? ;-)

Ambience. The restaurant is cozy and earthy yet polished enough so as to not make you feel as though you are in a forest. It has natural elements like bamboo table tops, natural/dim lighting, and earthy decor (use of wood and even a mini vase of fresh flowers at each table). At the same time it has a modern element as it is very clean-cut and simple. This juxtaposition of contrasting elements works beautifully and makes the space quite inviting. [Don't mind the elaborate description; I majored in Interior Design after all. :-P]

Menu. One of my favorite things about this restaurant, besides the food of course, is its nerdy menu. It has a quirky feel that takes me back to Cornell – my home away from home. The menu is set up so that the appetizer section is labeled “Prerequisites,” the entrée section is labeled “Core Curriculum,” and the drink section is labeled “Extracurricular.” This is a very unique feature that ties in with their logo of a perfectly sliced pizza (which by the way carries into the way they cut their slices into four equilateral triangles) and of course their name. Call me a nerd, but it works for me!

Food. I started with their bruschetta composed of tomatoes, red onions, basil, sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil served with honey whole wheat pita bread triangles. This tasted pretty good considering the fact that I do not care too much for red onions (next time I will remember to order without). I liked that it was not heavily dressed with oil and vinegar; it was just right. The pita triangles were very tasty as well; they were lightly toasted, which added some warmth to the dish. I tried the “Novice Pesto” slice this time (the first time I had the “Intermediate Goat Cheese” slice which was good). It had vegan basil pesto, part-skim organic mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil on a thin herb crust. Delicious is not even the word to describe it. I loved the crispy thin crust, the great combination of wholesome ingredients, and the richness in flavor. It was really good! So good that writing about it makes me crave another slice.

I really enjoyed my experience at Slice. Everything – from the ambience down to the food itself – came together harmoniously. What’s more is that I was able to enjoy this filling and very satisfying dinner for roughly $10, which in the healthy food realm is quite a bargain. My only issues are with signage and service. The current signage – or lack thereof – makes Slice easy to miss so pay close attention because you are liable to walk right by it. Also, the service was a bit slow considering the little amount of people in the restaurant at the time. I did not mind it though because I was in no hurry. However, I cannot imagine how much slower it would be at its busiest. But I guess that’s the small price to pay for great quality food.

Buon Appetito!

Sasha

Food Review Friday: Whole Grain Crackers

Crackers are not only a great snack but a popular choice for hors d’oeuvres at parties and get-togethers. Health conscious hosts have traded their Club and Saltine crackers for whole wheat varieties. But is what you are serving really whole grain?

Put down the Wheat Thins and check out the product I will be reviewing today: Kashi Heart to Heart Whole Grain Crackers. Below are the nutrition facts for the Original flavor.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving / Serving Size = 7 crackers)
Calories 120
Calories from Fat 30
Total Fat 3.5g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 85mg
Total Carbohydrate 22g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A 25%
Vitamin C 25%
Vitamin E 25%
Vitamin B6 25%
Vitamin B12 25%
Iron 10%
Folic Acid 25%
Ingredients: Whole Grain Wheat, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Plant Sterols, Sea Salt, Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract, Decaffeinated White Tea Extract, Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Grape Seed Extract, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Natural Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness, Beta Carotene (A Source of Vitamin A), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12, Folic Acid.

This product is great not only because it is actually composed of whole grain wheat (unlike many impostors) but also because it is low fat and contains no saturated or trans fat. Compared to similar products like Triscuit Crackers, these whole grain crackers contain less fat, more fiber, more vitamins and minerals, and half the sodium! Apart from their wholesome ingredients, these crackers taste so good! I love the Roasted Garlic flavor the best. They are so crunchy and flavorful that I use them in place of croutons in my salads.

These crackers will potentially pose a problem for those used to eating refined crackers or sensitive to certain tastes because the flavor and texture may take a little getting used to. But once that passes, you will surely be hooked! I rate Kashi Heart to Heart Whole Grain Crackers 4.8 cupcakes.

BONUS: Allergic to wheat or gluten? Try Mary’s Gone Crackers Original Seed Cracker made from brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds, and sesame seeds. These tasty crackers are an awesome wheat-free and gluten-free option.

Fit Foods Rating: 4.8 cupcakes :-)

Sasha