Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Dinner time can be tough! Between getting home from work, helping with homework, cleaning up the house and a million other things, you want to prepare something healthy for your family. This Almond-Crusted Chicken is a tasty alternative to frozen, processed chicken tenders. Try them with a side of broccoli, sweet potatoes or on top of a salad. Enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

Canola oil cooking spray
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large egg whites
1 pound chicken tenders (see Cook’s Tip)

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 475F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.

Mix the almonds, flour, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt and pepper in a food processor until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout (about one minute). With the motor running, drizzle in oil; process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.

Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat. Transfer each tender to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side.

Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Do You Know Your Danger Zones?

You’ve been watching your weight and practicing portion control when all of a sudden you find yourself in troubled waters — your willpower tested! Whether you’re letting loose at your favorite all-you-can-eat buffet, snacking after a stressful day or indulging in your aunt’s macaroni casserole, it’s important to recognize your danger zones. Here are eight tips to get through them.

Here’s how to get through eight eating habits that can lead to weight gain.

1. Avoid watchin’ and grubbin’

Try not to munch while you’re watching TV. If you’re distracted by your favorite show, you might miss your belly’s cues that you’re full! If you plan to snack, bring a small portion (instead of the whole bag) to the couch.

2. Don’t go overboard at the buffet

Practice portion control by sticking to one plate with small portions. A good rule of thumb: Make your plate GO GREEN and load up on the veggies!

3. Play it safe on the weekend

You’ve stuck to a healthy eating plan all week. Now don’t let the weekend get you off track! Make time to exercise and plan healthy meals in advance.

4. Plan ahead when you dine out

Eating out at your favorite restaurant? Don’t leave the house without a plan. For starters, avoid ordering appetizers or bread, which often contain extra fat, calories and sodium. Choose broiled or baked over fried. And don’t be embarrassed to ask your waiter how things are prepared.

5. Don’t have fries with that!

Sometimes you just don’t have time to sit down for a meal. Avoid making a pit stop for fast food by packing a healthy meal before you go.

6. Listen to your heart before you eat

People often turn to food to deal with stress. Ask yourself first, “Am I really hungry?” Try another activity like talking with a friend or loved, taking a long walk or joining a fitness class.

7. Watch how you snack on the job

Some days it’s hard to peel yourself away from your desk for a nutritious meal. We tend to eat what’s quick and convenient but not healthy. Pack your lunch (and some healthy snacks) the night before to help control calories and portions. You’ll stay healthier and have more energy.

8. Sleep more to eat less

Being overtired can lead to weight gain. A recent study showed that people who were sleep deprived ate more than 500 additional calories a day! Make sure to get the rest your need – your body will thank you.

Healthy Breakfast Makeovers – Start Your Day Off Right

Mornings can be hectic, but starting the day with breakfast can help your metabolism, cut down on what you eat the rest of the day and boost your energy.

Learn how to make quick, healthy breakfast favorites with these tips:

1. Revamp the breakfast sandwich.

Fast-food breakfast sandwiches are high in fat and low in fiber. Make your own with a toasted whole-wheat English muffin, one egg white, lean meat such as turkey bacon and a slice of low-fat cheese. Make them ahead of time by baking the eggs in a muffin tin with the chunks of turkey bacon and cheese inside. Put the baked egg in the muffin, wrap individually and freeze for the week.

2. Stay full on the go

Grab some oatmeal and top with fresh sliced fruits and walnuts. Put it in a to-go bowl and you’re off. You’ll stay full for hours.

3. Top of your toast

Skip the butter and melt low-fat cheese on a slice of whole-wheat toast or try peanut butter and banana slices. Add some more fresh fruit and a glass of skim milk for a nutrient-packed meal.

4. Watch out for waffle toppings.

Waffles drenched in butter and syrup add unwanted calories and fat. Try whole-wheat waffles topped with fresh berries or peanut butter.

5. Add egg whites.

Make a heart-healthy omelet by skipping the yolk and adding extra egg whites and veggies.

6. Bundle your breakfast:

Wrap two egg whites in a whole-wheat tortilla and add green and red peppers. Top with a little salsa for a flavorful kick.

Make Your Produce Last Longer

Does it seem like your veggies go bad right after you buy them?

Here are some tips to keep them fresher longer:

Tip # 1

Remove pre-washed greens from their original container and toss any spoiled pieces. Dry off excess moisture and store in plastic bags with a layer of paper towels.

Tip # 2

Pat dry any wet vegetables such as carrots and place them in storage bags

Tip # 3

Store unwashed root vegetables like potatoes and onions in a cool, dark spot, like a pantry.

Tip # 4

Keep tomatoes at room temperature to maintain their flavor. Refrigeration can make them mushy. If you need them to ripen, place them in a brown paper bag at room temperature.

Tip # 5

Remove mushrooms from the original container, then dry and store in a brown paper bag. Put them in the fridge, but not the crisper section.

Read Labels, Stay Healthy

It’s a good idea to fill your cart with low-calorie, low-sodium and low-fat items, but with so much information on the label, it’s hard to know what to look for. Make healthier choices by learning how to read and understand the Nutrition Facts.

Start Here: Check the serving size and find out how many servings are in the package.

Check total calories per serving. Look at the serving size and how many servings you’re really consuming. Remember if you double the servings you eat, you double your calories and nutrients.

Limit these nutrients. Limit your total fat to no more than 56 – 78 grams a day. That’s no more than 16 grams of saturated fat, less than two grams of trans fat and less than 300 mg cholesterol.

Get enough of these nutrients. Make sure you get 100 percent of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

Quick guide to % DV. This is the percent of each nutrient in a single serving in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient, like saturated fat and cholesterol, choose foods with a lower % DV – 5 percent or less is low. If you want to consume more of a nutrient, like fiber, seek foods with a higher % DV – 20 percent or more is high.

*Remember that the information on these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more depending on your age, gender and activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator.

Make Your Meal Nutty

Adding almonds — the “super nut” — can pump up the flavor, crunch and nutrition of some of your favorite dishes.

Almonds have many health benefits — more than any other nut. They help increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce LDL (bad cholesterol). They also have antioxidants from Vitamin E and reduce artery inflammation by lowering C-reactive protein levels. And the folic acid helps reduce artery fatty plaque deposits. In addition, almond has potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure.

Jazz up your meals by sprinkling slivered almonds on vegetables or salads. Add ground almonds to a turkey meatloaf for a delicious nutty flavor. Dry-roast them first (recipe below) for the fullest flavor.

Dry-Roasted Almonds
You’ll need:
• Small to medium non-stick pan
• 1 cup raw sliced or slivered almonds

Place almonds in pan and turn heat on high. Gently move pan so that the almonds are moving and constantly getting even heat. (The oils will quickly burn, so give them your full attention while roasting.) The almonds will start releasing a great aroma, which means the oils are heating up. Once you see a golden color, turn off heat and continue moving the almonds until they form a deeper color.

Pour almonds into a heat-safe bowl and let them cool. You can store for future use. Sprinkle on your favorite green salad or quinoa salad for a great crunch. If you have a food processor, grind into a coarse or fine meal and add to turkey meatloaf or sprinkle on baked chicken.

Don’t Be Fooled by Food Labels

Nutrition labels can be confusing, but they’re very important. Whether you’re buying a can of vegetables or picking out yogurt, understanding nutrition labels helps you to make healthier choices.

The Good

Look for high amounts of protein, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, potassium, fiber, and vitamins.

The Bad

Look for low amounts of calories, calories from fat, total fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. Less than 10% would be low.

The Ugly

Avoid any foods with Trans Fat or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list. Trans Fats have been linked to heart disease and many chronic illnesses.

The Sweet Stuff

It’s important to note that while sugar is not desirable, artificial sweeteners are controversial. Sugar-free foods actually can leave you hungry and cause you to overeat. Try purchasing plain and unflavored products and add the flavor yourself. For example, buy plain oatmeal and add nuts and berries.

Tips & Tricks

One trick that food companies use is to adjust the serving size to make the numbers look better. All of the nutrition data on the label is based on one serving of the product. So if you have a candy bar and the label says that bar is actually 2 servings, all the nutrition information is actually only for half of the bar! You would have to double all the numbers in order to get the nutrition facts for the whole bar. Pay close attention to serving size and servings per container.

Be Sodium Smart

Sodium intake is hard to monitor and if you’re eating processed foods, it’s probably adding up quickly. A low-sodium food has less than 140mg per serving and the American Heart Association recommends 1500mg daily. Be mindful of sodium in order to avoid high blood pressure. Salt keeps excess fluid in your body, which can add to the burden on the heart.

Weight Loss With Low Carb Diets…

A client said, “I need to lose weight for my upcoming wedding. What’s the deal with low-carb diets?” If you eliminate or drastically limit carbohydrates, you’ll miss out on many vitamins, minerals and fiber — and your body will need to find energy elsewhere.

If your body is low on glucose, lean muscle mass is broken down to provide stored glycogen for energy. Stored glycogen contains water. Muscle breakdown and the water associated with it causes rapid weight loss, which can be unhealthy and lead to kidney damage.

Top 5 reasons to keep carbs in your diet:

  1. Energy
    Carbohydrate foods are your body’s best energy source.
  2. Saves muscle
    Adequate intake keeps lean tissue from being used as energy.
  3. Fiber
    Plant foods contain fiber, which decreases the risk of diseases and satisfies hunger.
  4. Low calorie
    Non-starchy vegetables have an average of 25 calories per serving.
  5. Nutritious
    A mix of carbohydrate foods can provide your daily requirement for vitamins and minerals.

For safe, effective weight loss you want to lose excess fat, not vital muscle tissue and water as caused with low carbohydrate diets. Excess calories from any source will cause weight gain. And remember: To lose weight you have to burn more calories than you take in.

Lower Your Sodium

Lowering your sodium to help lower you high blood pressure doesn’t have to mean bland food. In this webisode, our American Heart Association coaches surprise Doug at lunch to help him evaluate his diet and reduce sodium.

Four Tips to Cut the Salt

I was raised in a family where salt was a staple in the kitchen and at the dining room table. We added a dash while roasting a chicken, a sprinkle before taking a bite of mashed potatoes and a shake over freshly sliced tomatoes or melon to make it sweeter. Salt was a big part of our diet — and we never thought about how it could be affecting our health.

We now know that many Americans consume way beyond the recommended amount of sodium per day (less than 1500mg/or less than one teaspoon salt). Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, and increase your risk of stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and stroke is No. 5?

Most of us think that no salt equals no flavor, but it’s easier than you may think to cut back. Here’s how:

Roast your fruits and veggies.

Most of us don’t get nearly enough fruits and vegetables. Roasting is a tasty way to jazz up fruits and veggies, which are naturally low in fat and calories. Grab sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, beets or tomatoes. Toss them lightly with extra virgin olive oil, put them in the oven and sprinkle with fresh pepper, garlic or a dash of smoked paprika when finished. You can also cut an apple or pear in half, lightly drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with cinnamon and roast. Delicious — and no salt needed!

Make it a family affair.

Make a family goal to reduce your household’s sodium consumption by 50 percent in two months. Identify the areas where your family consumes the most sodium. Hint: There’s lots in packaged and processed foods. Explain why cutting back on salt is important to their health and give everyone a job. One person is in charge of clearing the salt shakers from the dinner table, another makes sure you choose low-sodium foods in the grocery store and another asks for low-sodium entrees when dining out or asks the chef to leave the salt out. Track your family progress and celebrate when you achieve your goals!

Get in the kitchen.

Dining out or ordering in is convenient but many meals are filled with sodium and can put you over the daily sodium recommendations. Pizza, Chinese food and hot wings are some of the biggest culprits. Start cooking at home using low- and no-sodium ingredients. If you’re pressed for time, cook larger meals and freeze half. Extra vegetables and beans can be used on a salad the next day. You’ll save money and decrease your salt intake.

Add a squeeze of citrus.

Like salt, lemon, lime and other citrus fruits can enhance the flavor of your food. Try a squeeze of lime and a dash of pepper in place of salt over roasted chicken. The next time you sauté green beans add lemon zest just before serving. Enjoy!