Vegetable Soup As An Appetizer – An Easy Way to Eat Fewer Calories and Get Your Veggies In!

Vegetable Soup.

If you are like most people in the US, you aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet. The recommended daily serving is at least five! With the hustle and bustle of busy lives and access to so much fast food and convenience foods, it’s no wonder people aren’t eating enough of them. But that’s no excuse. You should still make a conscious decision to do what you can to ensure that you’re eating more fruits and vegetables.

Another reason so many people don’t eat more vegetables is because they don’t like eating them plain. Whether it’s the texture or the taste, plain vegetables just aren’t an option for some so instead they skip them altogether. That’s the great thing about vegetable soup, though – it makes eating vegetables easier because they’re combined with a broth and plenty of seasonings.

Not only is starting your meal with vegetable soup a good way to eat more vegetables, it also prevents you from over indulging on higher calorie foods when the main meal is served because the liquid (broth) and fiber-rich vegetables make you feel full quicker. Research has even shown that those who start a meal by eating soup first, actually consume 20% less calories than those who don’t!

Below is a quick and easy, very basic vegetable soup that is packed full of flavor and only takes about 30 minutes to cook.

Easy Vegetable Soup Recipe

1 cup whole kernel corn
14 ounces veggie broth or chicken broth
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
1 cup green beans
11.5 ounces tomato vegetable juice
1 cup water
1 diced potato
2 diced celery stalks
2 sliced carrots
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

The great thing about vegetable soup is you can add as many or as few vegetables as you like. Of course if the idea is to eat more vegetables, then you’ll obviously want to go with adding more instead of less.

If you want an easy way to not only add more vegetables to your diet, but to also help prevent overindulging on higher calorie foods, try starting your meal off with a bowl of hearty vegetable soup. You might just find you come to enjoy the added dose of goodness!

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7 Ways to Help Your Overweight Child Lose Weight Safely

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If you’re trying to help your overweight child lose weight safely, begin by making gradual lifestyle changes and avoid the popular fad diets. Changes to diet and lifestyle will take time and patience, so take it one step at a time and get the whole family involved in making healthier choices.  Also, you should first talk to your child’s physician or see a nutritionist to obtain guidance or goals on a target weight.

Here is a quick list of 7 healthy suggestions to help your family conquer obesity:

  1. Be a healthy role model. Children will generally pay closer attention to your actions rather than your words, so the very best thing you can do is set a good example by practicing healthy lifestyle habits yourself. Your health and weight directly affect your child’s health and weight. In fact, according to Stanford News, if both parents are overweight the risk of becoming an overweight adult jumps to nearly 50 percent. You can set your kids up for success by lining your refrigerator and pantry with plenty of quick and easy healthy snacks, such as whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese; apple wedges with yogurt; high-fiber granola bars with oats, nuts & seeds; carrots and celery with peanut butter and raisins.
  1. Keep it positive. No one enjoys receiving negative feedback. Talk to your child with compassion and encouragement. Avoid saying negative phrases like ‘you need to lose weight’. Instead, say ‘Let’s be healthy and start taking care of our bodies’. Focus on the foods you can eat, not the foods you should be limiting or cutting out. Avoid saying, ‘don’t eat that.’ Instead, use positive language by saying something like ‘Let’s go pick out fruits and make a fruit salad, and then we can go for a family bike ride.’ This way you are making healthy eating and exercise something that is fun to do.
  1. Make healthy eating a family affair. Try to schedule at least one meal a day that is unhurried and involves the whole family. Don’t make a special ‘diet’ meal for the person who is overweight. Everyone in the family can benefit from eating healthy meals, regardless of weight, and a family that eats together, eats better, according to a recent study in the journal Archives of Family Medicine. Children who report having regular family dinners have healthier diets than their peers who don’t, the study showed.
  1. Eat a well-balanced breakfast. A healthy breakfast should include a carbohydrate, a protein and a little fat, which will keep your children more alert during school. Carbs provide immediate energy, whereas protein and fat help you feel fuller, longer. So, instead of choosing sugary cereals and pastries, have a bowl of high-fiber oatmeal with blueberries & almonds (or almond milk), or whip up some scrambled eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast. If you’re really running late, grab a yogurt or a bagel with peanut butter or low fat cream cheese. Do not skip breakfast. Studies have shown that weight loss is much more difficult in people who skip breakfast.
  1. Make time for physical activity. Make physical activity a family event. Every night after dinner in the summer, go for a half-hour walk or bike ride, and make it an activity that kids look forward to. If you can afford it, enroll your kids in their favorite dancing or sporting activity. Make exercise fun, not a chore or something they HAVE to do. If your kids are young, they may enjoy hide-and-seek or hopscotch. Kick a soccer ball or play some football with older children.
  1. Watch your portions.  When serving the food, try to portion out meals on dishes and avoid buffet-type or family-style eating. Resist the first temptation to have seconds, then check in with yourself to see if you are really hungry. ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great resource for learning more about portion control for kids.
  1. Don’t say diet. If you put your child on any diet, you might be setting them up for an eating disorder – whether binge eating or closet eating or another type of disorder. Instead, focus on forming healthy lifestyle habits that will eventually result in long-term weight loss and better overall health.

 

 

Best Foods for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss

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Trying to figure out which foods are best for losing weight can be a bit overwhelming. To keep it simple, try to select nutrient-dense foods whenever possible to help you feel more satiated, so you don’t get those unhealthy cravings throughout the day. Making healthy lifestyle changes takes time and patience, so don’t give up. Stay focused on your goals, and the reasons why you are making these changes in the first place. The best foods for weight loss listed below will give you a clearer picture as to the kinds of foods you should be eating on a regular basis to help you achieve lasting weight loss and better overall health.

Vegetables

Eating plenty of vegetables is absolutely essential for long-term weight loss. They are low in calories and fat, abundant in disease-fighting antioxidants, high in fiber, and contain many other essential vitamins and minerals that your body craves. Choose from a colorful array of veggies every day, such as spinach, cauliflower, kale, carrots and broccoli. Vegetables make a great snack, too. Before the hunger pangs strike, put together a variety of fresh cut veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, celery, red peppers and a homemade ranch dip. This way you’ll have a healthy and filling snack readily available. Another delicious, low-calorie veggie snack are baked kale chips. They are salty, crispy and make a great pre-dinner snack for the whole family. And baked zucchini chips are yummy too! Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and try something new. You can find many vegetable recipes on the Internet, such as allrecipes.com, eatingwell.com, foodnetwork.com, myrecipes.com, and cookinglight.com.

Eggs

Eggs provide a rich source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids, which offers satiety and keeps you feeling full. Another big plus is that eggs are low in calories. For instance, one hard-boiled egg contains only 78 calories and about 6g of protein, but keep in mind that frying or scrambling eggs increases the calorie content because of the extra butter or oil used for cooking. For additional appetite control, add your favorite high-fiber fruit or whole-wheat toast.

Fruit

Fruits are tasty and chock-full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, and they don’t require preparation. Include a colorful variety of fruits so you get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, but don’t overdo it. Even though fruit is very good for you, portion size and calories still count. The amount of fruit you need to eat depends on age, sex, and the amount of exercise you get on a daily basis. Fruits that are abundant in soluble fiber, such as berries, apricots and apples, make an ideal choice for appetite control. Soluble fiber helps to attract water and slow digestion, so not only does it make you feel full, but also has a cleansing effect on the body and keeps blood-sugar levels in check by delaying the absorption of sugar.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is an excellent weight loss food, because it’s low-fat, low-calorie and loaded with soluble fiber to help control your appetite by making you feel full longer. One serving of oatmeal contains only 150 calories, so as long as you don’t add things like cinnamon sugar or butter, it’s the perfect low-calorie breakfast. For a nutritional boost, add a chopped apple and pinch of ground cinnamon that tastes like apple crisp on a chilly morning, or add a handful of blueberries for extra fiber, antioxidants and brain power.

Nuts and Seeds

Even though nuts and seeds are energy dense and rich in fats, eating nuts is associated with lower body weight, improved insulin sensitivity and better health. Both of these foods are high in protein and fiber, making them a nutritious and filling snack option. For weight loss purposes, it’s best to choose raw, unsalted nuts. Almonds, cashews and pistachios are the lowest in calories, roughly 160 calories per ounce. Sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain about 150 to 180 calories per ounce. Some of the healthiest nuts and seeds include cashews, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds. All of these contain healthy fats, including anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and other important vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. Just remember that nuts are high in calories and can easily wreck a weight loss plan if you don’t stick to the proper portion size, which is a small handful per day for most people.

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Health Benefits of Breakfast: 3 Reasons Not To Skip Your Morning Meal

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How many times have you woke up in a hurry, got ready, and rushed out the door without a second thought to eating breakfast? We’ve all been there and have suffered the consequences when mid-morning hits and we are starving and ready to eat the first unhealthy thing we come across. Avoiding this trap and making breakfast a part of your daily routine can not only add to the success and productivity of your day, but also begin your path to a healthier lifestyle. Here are just a few benefits of this important daily meal.

Increased energy level – You will find that by eating a healthy breakfast your energy level is much higher throughout the day. You will be more productive and less inclined to eat that unhealthy bag of chips calling your name. Breakfast provides the right kind of nutrients our body needs to get through the day and be the best version of ourselves. We will be much more likely to focus on productivity when we routinely give our bodies the fuel it needs to carry on.

Weight Control – It’s been said that those who tend to eat breakfast in the mornings are more likely to lose weight or simply not weigh as much. That being said, it makes sense because we don’t find ourselves bogged down with those nasty cravings that come with not eating anything in the morning. We tend to make healthier choices throughout the day when we aren’t starving and looking for anything to satisfy us. You need breakfast to get give your metabolism a boost so you can burn more calories throughout the day.

Happier and Healthier – Eating breakfast routinely every morning will not only start you on the path to a healthier life but also cause you to have a better, happier attitude. We are mentally and physically able to focus on things that matter when we give our bodies the right kind of nutrition. This means staying away from sugar and caffeine and consuming more whole grains, dairy, and fruit. Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast tend to be grouchier throughout the day. When you deprive your body of the fuel it needs, it affects all aspects of your life.

There are huge benefits to getting into a routine each morning and eating a healthy breakfast. This one meal sets the tone for the entire day and our mood and physical well-being is affected by it. You will not only be more productive but your overall health will improve by just making a few changes to your daily routine. Rather than rushing through those early morning hours give yourself a little more time in the morning to plan a healthy meal. The success of your day depends on how you start it out.

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Feel Full and Lose Weight with these Five Natural Foods

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Weight loss is a multi-billion dollar a year industry in the United States. There are pills, potions, mixtures and lotions. You can even find vibrating belts and fat melting shakes. Some of these weight loss aids are gimmicks and some might actually help you lose weight in the short-term, but usually you gain the weight back in a few weeks. For long-lasting, permanent weight loss you have to eat right and exercise. The right foods combined with exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off while providing your body with essential nutrients and elements necessary for good health. Natural foods help stimulate your metabolism, boost your energy and make you feel good.

A delicious way to get your daily fruit and veggie fix is to enjoy a cool, crisp salad. Salads with light green, dark green, orange, red and yellow vegetables will provide color, aroma and flavor to any ordinary salad. Vegetables are fat free, loaded with fiber and full of nutrients your body needs. The fiber will fill you up and keep you feeling fuller longer. Vegetables are naturally low in calories, but salad dressings can be high in both fat and calories. Choose no salad dressing or a low-fat dressing. Chop up and dice some fresh fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth or to get an extra boost of energy in the late afternoon between meals. Try some fresh fruit mixed with low-fat yogurt for a delicious pick-me-up loaded with nutrients and healthy carbohydrates.

What’s not to love about chicken soup? It’s good for the soul and the perfect food to comfort your body when you have a cold. Chicken soup not only boosts your immune system, it also helps you lose weight. A bowl of chicken soup with a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, celery and yellow squash, is rich in nutrients and fiber to help you feel full and satisfied for hours. Vegetables in chicken soup contain antioxidants to help stave off cell damage. The bits of white meat chicken are low in fat and high in protein. Enjoy a bowl of chicken soup to feel full, while adding important nutrients to your diet without adding calories.

Lean beef is a good choice to help promote weight loss by adding fiber and protein to your diet. You should not sacrifice muscle mass when trying to lose fat. Lean beef and other protein-rich foods combined with regular exercise can help maintain muscle mass while burning fat. Amino acids found in lean beef are necessary to the production of muscle cells. You can also add cooked lean beef to other healthy meals, such as salads.

Whole grains, including oats and wheat and wild rice, are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. A small serving of whole grains helps you feel fuller faster so that you eat less than you normally would eat. Choose grains that have not been processed for maximum benefit. Warm oatmeal with low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast will stimulate your metabolism for fat burning all morning long. Beans, rice, lentils and peas are also a good source of fiber and nutrients. You can eat beans or lentils and wild rice as a side dish or combine them with other foods, such as soups and stews, for flavor and fiber.

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5 Fitness Motivators

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You need to exercise. You want to exercise. You lack motivation. It’s hard to do something if you aren’t excited about it. Exercise doesn’t have to be drudgery. It can be fun, exciting and rewarding. By exercising regularly and watching your diet, you will improve your health and your appearance. Improved health and appearance can also improve your self-image and self-esteem. If you are experiencing a lack of motivation, there are things you can do to get up and get going.

Change your mind about exercise. Some people view exercise as a chore, something that must be done to maintain health and lose weight. Stop thinking about exercise as a job and think of it as a fun activity that takes you away from the drudgery of your every day routine. Your attitude will help determine your level of success in nearly every endeavor. You have to expect to have fun if you are to truly enjoy your workout. Try a brisk 25-minute walk during your lunch hour instead of thirty boring minutes on the treadmill after work. Getting out of the office for a brisk walk can help clear your mind as you exercise your body. You will return to work feeling energized and more motivated. Reward yourself with a facial after work. Associate positive benefits with your workout to create a positive attitude about working out.

Learn to visualize your success. If you need to lose 10 pounds, visualize yourself 10 pounds lighter and wearing that dress or those pants that have been hanging in your closet for months because you can’t close the zipper. Visualize yourself on the beach for your next vacation showing off your new 6-pack. See yourself successful and you will become successful.

Find a friend to exercise with you. A workout pal can be just the motivation you need to keep going. You and your exercise mate can motivate each other to push yourselves to succeed. Make it a weekly or every-other-day date to exercise together. Exercising with a friend helps to pass the time as well as keeping you motivated. Enjoy a light snack together after your workout. You will soon find that you look forward to your workout dates with your exercise pal.

Involve family members in your exercise program. Instead of sitting on the sidelines watching your kids play soccer or baseball, load the bikes up and go for a ride in the park followed by a light lunch under a shade tree. Your children will enjoy the time spent with you, and you will enjoy time with your kids as you lose weight and get healthy. Saturday mornings can be spent playing games with the whole family. Whether you play badminton in the back yard or basketball in the driveway, the whole family is sure to have fun and get a great workout, too.

Workout when you feel sad or blue. Have you noticed that when you work out you feel better afterward? Exercise stimulates your brain to release hormones called endorphins, which are responsible for the sense of well-being that you feel when you finish a vigorous workout. Exercise when you are feeling a little down by going for a long walk, riding a bike, or hitting the treadmill. Stimulating your brain to produce endorphins can help you feel happier and help you lose weight as you get healthier.

So, get moving next time you are down in the dumps. You will actually be able to turn something negative into something positive.

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Add More Whole Foods to Your Diet

Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia CommonsThe phrase “whole foods” refers to foods that are raw, unprocessed or as close to nature as possible. Whole foods include whole grains, whole raw fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed chicken and meats. It is easier to improve your diet by replacing processed foods with natural, whole foods than you might think. Whole foods are generally lower in calories and carbohydrates than highly processed foods such as frozen dinners and fast food. Switching from processed to whole foods means meal preparation will take a little more planning, but your health and your waist line will thank you.

Add more whole foods to your regular diet by replacing highly processed white flour with whole grains. Instead of white bread, choose whole wheat, oat and bran breads. Opt for fresh or frozen whole fruits and vegetables instead of canned. The canning process includes cooking and adding preservatives. Many canned fruits and vegetables have added sugar or sodium. The canning process also removes beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that your body needs for good health. Buy fresh or frozen as opposed to canned vegetables and fruits, so that you can enjoy all the benefits of eating vegetables.

Pass by the convenience foods, such as frozen macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and frozen meatloaf in the freezer section. These foods are usually high in calories, carbohydrates and are loaded with sodium and preservatives. Fresh, skinless chicken breasts baked or grilled with whole wheat rolls, fresh vegetables or a salad makes an excellent whole food dinner. Forget the instant mashed potatoes that are loaded with preservatives and other chemicals. Choosing long grain and wild rice as a side dish is another way to add whole foods to your diet.

Beans, rice and legumes can replace high-calorie side dishes, such as macaroni and cheese and instant mashed potatoes. As for potatoes, they are an excellent whole food. If you don’t have time to peel, cook and whip your own potatoes, a baked (sweet) potato is just as delicious and takes less preparation time. Top your baked potato with low-fat sour cream and some fresh chopped green onions for delicious side dish. Many supermarkets offer fresh fish and other seafood. Select local fish or fish that is flown in daily. Fresh fish can be a little more expensive than the fish in the freezer, but one taste of fresh grilled perch or shrimp will convince you it’s worth the price. A salad with a mixture of lettuces, spinach, radishes, carrots, bell peppers and tomatoes is the perfect way to start any whole foods meal.

Many of the preservatives we consume come from snack foods and sodas. Rather than potato chips and snack crackers, satisfy your snack urge with fresh sliced apples, bananas, grapes and berries. You can also enjoy raisins, nuts and other dried fruits. Keep some banana and apple chips in your desk for a quick, naturally sweet snack. Blend up a berry smoothie with fresh berries, ice and 100 percent fruit juice for a refreshing whole foods treat. Keep a bowl of fresh apples, oranges, and bananas on the counter for a healthy, quick after work or after school snack. Tea, especially green tea, is a refreshing alternative to sugary soda. Toss the cold breakfast cereals and fill your pantry with whole grain cereals instead. Whole oats, wheat germ and quinoa are healthy, whole food breakfast choices. Add fresh fruit for extra flavor and nutrients. Avoid using processed sugar. Sweeten your morning oats with honey or natural maple syrup.

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