Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Myths about food when it comes to exercise

There are some myths that may be holding you back from exercising to your fullest potential. Eating smart can help improve your energy levels to an exponential amount! How does eating benefit you when exercising? You are going to be quite surprised by how much of a role eating actually has.
 One myth that is commonly mistaken for a fact is to only eat proteins after a workout. While people put a great emphasis on consuming proteins right after a workout, the job isn’t complete without healthy carbs.  Protein is vital for building and maintaining muscle, yes, but you also need those good carbohydrates.

Another myth to forget about: It’s better to exercise on an empty stomach. You can’t drive a car if its fuel tank is empty! You won’t have the desired effect if you work out on an empty stomach. To have plenty of energy to burn, eat a well-balanced meal three to four hours prior to exercising. But if you are running late and are in a rush, grab a sensible snack that you have time to digest.
 Myth to forget about: If you have to exercise early in the morning, skip breakfast. This is a humungous ‘NO!’ If your schedule prevents you from getting a workout in any time except for early in the mornings, grab something light like a banana or handfuls of dry cereal. That will be enough to give your metabolism a kick start and help you get a better work out compared to a workout after skipping breakfast.

Myth to forget about:  Drinking caffeine before your gym session will give you the energy boost you need! That is not the case. Don’t mistake that temporary burst of energy – that will most likely go away quickly- for fuel. The only energy that you can burn in a workout would come from food.
Myth to forget about: Drinking liquids has no effect on your energy level. It is actually quite the opposite! One of the leading causes of fatigue is not being hydrated properly. You can become dehydrated with even a moderate exercise routine if you do not drink enough fluid to replace what you lose on a daily basis. Take the necessary precautions to prevent dehydration by drinking fluids before, during, and after tiring activity.

Some people take these myths to be facts but what they don’t know is that these myths have consequences, unfortunate consequences.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

We all want things that are cheap

We all want foods that aren’t expensive. (Those of us that are on a budget that is.) When we think of cheap foods our minds automatically gravitate towards unhealthy foods. Usually when we see $2.70 in our wallet, we make our way over to a fast food restaurant. By heart we know exactly what that $2.70 entitles. Who is guilty of this? I know for a fact there are quite a few people out there that have this way of thinking!  So for those that are “balling on a budget”, here are some tips to eating healthy without wiping out your wallet.

Buy whole foods. Unprocessed foods are cheaper and way healthier than processed foods. For those of you who watch “Restaurant Impossible” we all now Chef Irving hates processed foods. He looks down upon restaurants that receive their ingredients out of a box. His praises go out to those who get their foods fresh.  Buying whole foods gives you total control over the ingredients you put in your meal.

Buy cheap proteins.  To build and maintain muscle, you need 1g protein per pound of body weight per day. Consuming a meal that has whole protein within helps fat loss seeing as protein has a high thermic effect compared to other foods. It’s recommended to keep the steak and salmon for special occasions and instead buy:

-Hormone free chicken
-Cottage cheese, etc.

Buy fruits and vegetables while they are in season. Buying fruits and vegetable in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness! “What if I don’t use them all right away?” If this is one of your concerns, buy some that still need time to ripen. They won’t go bad as quickly.

Stay away from convenience foods. Now by this I mean frozen dinner foods: vegetables that are pre-cut, grits, oatmeal, and instant rice. These foods will cost you more than if you were to make them from scratch! Bring out your inner chef and cook with fresh ingredients!  

When you are on a tight budget, preparing appetizing healthy meals might seem a bit daunting. You might shy away from making delicious and healthy foods due to the hole it’ll burn in your wallet. Being able to overcome the obstacle that is a budget depends on your shopping skills and access to different types of foods. Play with the idea of using coupons. Cooking on a budget is always easier with a little planning, creativity, and work. Just consider this: eating healthy comes with so many rewards- better health and more money. Come on now, we all want more money! Where there is more money there is certainly effort that is worth exercising! Eat healthy and save money; always a great combo.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Every Kid Needs Nutrients

Are school lunches stabbing you (the parent) in the back? You are trying so hard to get your child to eat right but once they go to school, the cafeteria ladies place junk onto their lunch tray and disintegrates all of your hard work in one slimy ‘splat!’

Your mindset needs to be: I’m in competition with my kid’s school lunch foods! How do I keep my kid eating healthy instead of the unhealthy processed foods they serve?

To those of you who don’t put that much of an emphasis on healthy foods where your children are concerned, consider this: Research suggests deficiencies in nutrition can be the cause of behavioral problems. I know some parent’s ears would perk up if they caught wind of this. I can hear them now! “Eating the right minerals and vitamins will improve his behavior? Which ones? I need to know!”
Deficiencies in nutrition can also lead to everything from asthma to attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.  There is a world of nutrients they might be missing.

“Nope, nope, nope. Spit out the mouth full of skittles you just put in!” You watch as your child’s filled cheeks deflate as they spit the candy into the trash. You make them open their mouth checking for any hidden treasures. Once you find none you reward them with four skittles .They aren’t too ecstatic but take an angry monstrous bite showing you how they feel about the wasted candy.  While giving your children the essential nutrients they need, banning sweets is unnecessary. But a less frequent intake is highly advisable.

Los Angeles-based dietitian Ashley Koff, co-author of Mom Energy (Hay House) states, “Any food found in nature will provide a healthier balance of nutrients than a processed, fortified ‘food product’ can.”

Magnesium serves a very important role that corresponds and works together with calcium. Calcium is a muscle contractor while Magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Does your child have restless leg syndrome, inability to settle down at night, muscle cramps, etc.? If so, your child is not receiving enough Magnesium.

•Ages 4-8 need 110 mg
•Ages 9-13 need 350 mg.
•Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables

Potassium: “If your child isn’t getting enough potassium, he may be dehydrated – even if he’s drinking plenty of water,” says Koff. Potassium ensures that muscles, the digestive tract, and the heart are functioning properly. It also keeps the body hydrated by drawing water into the cells. Lack of this mineral can cause weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps, and digestive problems.

•Ages 1 to 3 need 3,000 mg
•Ages 4 to 8 need 3,800 mg
•Ages 9-13 need 4,500 mg
•Potassium is found in colorful fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes and greens.

Vitamin D is essential to building strong bones and decreasing the risk of diabetes, asthma, allergies, and some autoimmune diseases. Studies have showed that low levels of vitamin D affect our mood. Although it’s labeled a vitamin, it’s actually a hormone that most foods don’t have. Children today don’t spend much time out in the sun which leads to the lack of vitamin D.  Sunlight exposure is the best source. Lack of this hormone leads to muscle pain, weak bones or teeth.

•Infants need 400 IU
•Children need 600 IU
•Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified milk or other “vitamin D fortified” foods.

Feed your child real foods.  Tell the school’s food for lunch (not the lunch lady, please) to take a step back and watch itself when dealing with your child! Your kid may feel extremely embarrassed when they see you smack talking their food; but it’s totally worth it when you see your child as healthy as can be.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Healthy Alternatives for Kids

There is always this constant struggle to feed your children healthy foods. In this day and age fast food restaurants are the more popular go-to food source and child obesity increases at an alarming rate. What many parents don’t consider (or even think about) are alternative food choices they can put in place of their child’s favorite junk food.  These healthier foods don’t necessarily have to be broccoli and carrots but instead just a healthier choice. This is what we call “starting off slow.”

Now don’t fret, I will provide you with just some of the healthier choices you can swap into your child’s daily routine:

“Mom can I have french fries on the side?” “Honey, we’re going to try baked fries tonight.”
Grill the baked fries in the oven and salted lightly. Or even better: baked sweet potato fries.

“Mom can we get ice cream?” “Tonight we’ll try low-fat yogurt.”
Other Alternates: Sorbet; Fresh Smoothies

“Mom can we have fried chicken tonight?” No, but we’ll have grilled chicken.”
Another option: Baked chicken

Following a healthier diet in the comfort of your home doesn’t always mean banning sweets entirely. Having a ‘no sweets’ rule may cause cravings and overindulgence the first second the sugary sweet comes in contact with their awaiting tongue after a long duration of abstinence. Looking at the overall picture, limits will be your best friend. There is no need to ban all of your child’s favorite foods but only limiting their consumption of said foods. Always turn to fruits. Fruits will be your most popular food to push out in front of their hungry eyes.

So drop the carrot and step away from your child. There are some more appealing foods to get through your children’s ‘no vegetable’ barrier. Having your kids eating healthy will surely put pep in their step and help you reduce the notorious worry lines. You can wipe the sweat off of your brow and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Healthy doesn’t always have to taste grotesque or bland. Healthy can be delicious!

Kid-friendly junk food alternatives
Instead of…
    French fries

    Ice cream
    Fried chicken
    Doughnuts or pastries

    Chocolate-chip cookies
    Potato chips


    Sugary Breakfast cereal

    Canned Soup

    Macaroni and cheese
(Very high in sodium and low in nutrients)
    “Baked fries” grilled in the oven and salted lightly or even better “Baked sweet potato fries”, they a are much healthier option.
    Low-fat frozen yogurt; sorbet; fresh fruit smoothies
    Baked or grilled chicken
    Try oatmeal (you can have it hot or cold and its tasty both ways)
    Bagels; homemade leather wraps
    Graham crackers, fig bars, vanilla wafers, fruit and caramel dip
    Kale chips, broccoli chips, Pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, baked potato chips
    Try making a fruit smoothie by using sparkling water. It will give it a twist.
    You can try quinoa, oat or millet as a hot cereal with some sprinkled cinnamon.
    Make your own stock (either veggie or chicken) you control the amount of salt.  Canned soup has added sodium.
    Make your own pasta, add a little olive oil and some Parmesan cheese.

Eating out with kids: fast food and restaurant nutrition for children
It might be challenging to persuade your youngster to order a salad instead of a cheeseburger, but you can steer them towards healthier options. Some important tips to remember about fast food and restaurant dining for kids:
-Avoid sodas – Kids should drink water.
-Avoid chicken nuggets – They are unhealthy imposters of real chicken.
-Skip the fries – Consider taking along a bag of mini carrots, grapes, or other fruits and    
 vegetables to have instead. This will add vitamins and fiber to the meal.
-Order the kid's meal with some substitutions – Children often love the kid's meal more  
 for the fun box and toys than for the food. Ask to substitute healthier choices for the
 soda and the fries if possible.

Opt for chicken and vegetables or spaghetti with tomato sauce in a sit-down restaurant, rather than a big plate of macaroni and cheese.

To do at home

Your home is where your child most likely eats the majority of his or her meals and snacks, so it is vital that your kitchen is stocked with healthy choices and treats.
Don’t ban sweets entirely. While many kids' sugar consumption exceeds healthy limits, having a no sweets rule is an invitation for cravings and overindulging when given the chance. Instead, limit the amount of cookies, candies, and baked goods your child eats and introduce fruit-based snacks and desserts instead.

-Limit juice and soda. Soft drinks are loaded with sugar—“empty” calories that don’t do anything healthy for your child’s growing body. Many juices aren’t any better nutritionally.Instead of soda, offer your child sparkling water with a twist of lime or a splash of fruit juice.

-Keep snacks small. Don’t turn snacks into a meal. Limit them to 100 to 150 calories. Focus on fruit. Keep a bowl of fruit out for your children to snack on. Offer fruit as a sweet treat. Kid-friendly favorites include frozen juice bars, fruit smoothies, frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and nuts, strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, fresh fruit added to plain yogurt, and sliced apples and peanut butter.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Grains Anatomy

Recently we have started to see and hear a lot of information of products that claim had been made with whole grains. But truthfully, how many of us actually know what a whole grain is?  Some products are presented as “whole wheat”, others as “multi grains” and others as “whole grains.”  Media and product marketing play a key role here and unfortunately, misleading advertisement is the strategy of some large corporations who wants to maintain presence in the marketplace.  Let’s try to clarify some concepts so we can make better choices when selecting our food.

A grain is considered “whole” or “complete” when it has the 100% of its original kernel, or in other words, it still contains all of its bran, germ and endosperm.  All these parts must be present for it to qualify as a whole grain.  For example:  When we eat corn (on-the-cob or just the grains) we are consuming a whole grain, because each individual grain is unpeeled (bran) and contains all its parts, endosperm (the “meat”) and the germ (you will recognize it).  In contrast, white rice although a grain is no longer a whole grain but somehow a partially refined product, because the bran has been removed after been harvested. Grain’s anatomy.

Below is a list of whole grains.  Some of them, identified with an asterisk, are not really grains but seeds.  They are categorized as grains because of their grain-like consistency and nutritional value, which is similar to or in some cases even superior to grains:

Amaranth (*)
Gluten free


Gluten free, including whole cornmeal and popcorn
Millet (*)
Gluten free
Oats, oatmeal
Gluten free (if processed in a gluten free environment)
Quinoa (*)
Gluten free
Both brown rice and colored rice   

Sorghum (also known as Milo)



Including varieties such as spelt, semolina, farro, durum, karmut, bulgur, cracked wheat and wheatberries
Wild Rice (*)
Gluten free

Now that we know what a whole grain is, and now that we are familiar with the names of several grains from the list above, it is easier to decipher the difference between “whole grain” and “whole wheat”:  Since wheat is just another grain, “whole wheat” then means that the product uses 100% of the wheat kernel.

But when a product says it has been made with “whole wheat”, don’t just trust what the marketing phrase says; it does not hurt to go ahead and check the ingredient list.  Verify that the main ingredient on the product is actually whole wheat. But do not stop there! For example:  When buying AP flour, always remember to prefer the unbleached type, staying away from the “enriched” and “fortified” varieties.  Flour is one of the most highly refined products in the market, and white flour obtains its color after being treated with whitening agents such as chlorines and peroxides. The bleaching process removes not only the natural color but also most of the essential nutrients, which are later “added” back in the form of additives and artificial ingredients. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

What goes in not always comes out

When was the last time you ate beets?  This naturally red and sweet root provides many benefits to your body.  It s loaded with anti oxidants (which help neutralize free radicals), vitamins and minerals such manganese, copper and potassium (which is particularly helpful to lower heart rate). Beets also helps with the absorption of iron, so beet juice is recommended for people with low hemoglobin and anemia, as it improves blood circulation and red blood cell count.  It helps lower blood pressure and prevents heart related problems.

When was the last time you tried some asparagus?  Besides being extremely tasty, asparagus are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, and chromium, which enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells (very helpful to fight diabetes).   It also has diuretic properties that will help the body release excess salts through urine, which is also very good for people suffering cardiovascular problems.

These two vegetables are just an example of products available on any grocery store that you can consciously add to your diet and thus, improve your health in a natural way.

When was the last time you or your family consumed some colorful cereal for breakfast or dinner?  How about some very red ketchup? Or perhaps that brightly yellow mustard accompanied by a juicy frank and fries?  

All these are examples of highly processed foods that do not add any nutritional value to our daily lives.  On the contrary, they deplete our immune system and contribute to heart problems, liver diseases, diabetes and high cholesterol.  The examples above also contain artificial coloring such as Red 40, Yellow 5 or Blue 2, just to mention a few.   

There is evidence that these artificial colors are linked to ADD, ADHD… And our children are the primarily target market (just think about those lollipops that would leave them with blue tongues)

You will remember you ate beets when you see “the evidence,” after using the restroom.  Why? Because the human body disposes of the waste naturally. When some natural color cannot be metabolized by the body, it simply goes “down the drain” to be eliminated.  You will remember you consumed asparagus the same way;  if you pay attention, your nose will recognize the strong scent impregnated in your urine. It may sound disgusting but this is a prime example of how the human body works.

But what happens when you drink a cola soda or consume some artificially colored food? All those artificial colors and additives are metabolized by your body too; they are broken down and some of them will be eliminated as waste, but some others will remain in your body stored in the colon tissue. Sometimes what goes in does not come out.

So, our recommendation is to avoid highly processed foods with artificial colors, flavors and preservatives as much as you can. Check the list of ingredients of the product and try to stay away from names such as "Allura Red" (Red # 40), "Tatrazine" (Yellow # 5) or "Indigotine" (Blue # 2).  Just by doing this, you  will improve the nutritional value of your family’s diet.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

You are what you eat

Being aware of the things you eat regularly is a good way to start implementing a series of changes in your life.  “You are what you eat” is a popular saying, and there is a great amount of truth on it, as it is a proven fact that frequent consumption of fast food increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. “Knowledge is power” is another saying and once again,  what we are trying to say is that by knowing what you eat, you will be able to understand the outcome of your choices, which ultimately will be reflected in your body and in  your long term health.

The refined sugars contained in sodas and other highly processed foods are one of the most important factors that create an unbalance in the pH levels of your body, turning it into acidic levels. Human body always keeps blood pH level at 6.5.  But what happens when your body is too acidic as a consequence of what you eat  or drink? Blood pH balance must be kept, so the body responds by drawing minerals and nutrients from other parts of the system, such as bones and tissues, in order to restore the natural pH balance of the blood.  When this happens, you start feeling tired, probably with aching muscles, headaches or perhaps suffering lack of concentration.  You tend to overlook the signals because you can quickly  remedy the situation by taking some over the counter pain relievers, which will make you feel better... And you will continue taking OTC medication as needed perpetuating the problem.  But it is very important to note that you are not addressing the root cause of the problem!  A few changes in your eating habits will help you feel better in a natural way.  Remember:  You are what you eat.  

Consciously modifying your eating habits, reducing the consumption of fast foods and highly processed products and at the same time incorporating more whole grains, green leaf vegetables and more fruits to your diet will have an immediate effect in your health.  Diseases develop faster in an acidic environments, but they cannot survive in an alkaline system. So if you start choosing alkaline foods when you eat, you are reinforcing your immune system, making it stronger.

So next time you go to a restaurant, do yourself a favor and skip the soda.   Iced tea is a much better choice, because tea contains antioxidants which are good to fight free radicals.  If you don’t like iced tea, just go ahead and add some lemon to regular tap water.  Lemon although acid per se, has alkalinizing properties when absorbed by the body (potassium, sodium and other minerals). Just by doing something as simple as drinking lemon water every day, you are helping maintain a healthy pH balance in your organism.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Power to choose

We live in a busy world and we are always on the rush.  Because of this we  frequently skip breakfast in the morning but then reward ourselves by super sizing the combo meal at lunch time. Several times a week we consume meals with enormous amounts of sugar, sodium, and trans fats. In addition our jobs require that we sit behind a desk all day long with little or no exercise at all.  But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. What is happening with our families?  Do you know what is inside your children lunch boxes or what kind of food is offered at the school cafeteria? Over time, these are some of the main causes of obesity and diseases such as diabetes, heart problems or even stroke. Did you know that diabetes is the number one disease here in El Paso affecting more than 85,000 people? (El Paso Diabetic Association, 2011). In a city of 830K people that is roughly almost 10% of the population.

Is there anything we can do to help revert this situation?  Absolutely.  We can start by bringing awareness. If you are reading this blog chances are that you are interested in being part of the solution, and for that we want to say thank you.

To more specific actions, let’s start with small goals which in time will let you accomplish bigger goals.  Last time we spoke about consciously changing our eating habits, so let’s apply what we’ve learned so far.  If you want to eat healthier and feel better about yourself please remember that you have the power to choose what you put into your body. You can decide what is good for you and what is not. So in a very simplistic way you can start by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Choose to eat your chicken grilled instead of deep-fried or ask for steamed veggies instead of the loaded baked potato.  Avoid diet soda, because artificial sweeteners cause more damage than good to your body (you are better off drinking iced tea with a couple spoons of real sugar than drinking any dietetic beverage).  Every time you make a decision at a conscious level you can be proud of yourself because that means that you are in total control of your actions. And this is valid even if for whatever reason you choose to eat junk food, because you are completely aware of the consequences of the choice you made... And that is OK, because perhaps you are already thinking in walking an extra mile to compensate for the poor choice.

If you can do something as simple as that, you already won your first victory. Now  pass the message to your loved ones. Let’s start changing El Paso.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Your body will thank you sooner than you think...

Okay, the first month of the year is officially gone.  Remember that a few weeks ago you made a series of promises to yourself?  Promises such as eating less junk food or exercising more to be able to lose some weight.  All of them very well intended and plausible intentions but... Where are you today in regards with your promises?  

We want to help you with your quest! Last time we talked about a couple of things we could do to start off the year in a good way and hopefully at this point you are already looking at things in a different way.  You know that it is healthier for you to choose meals with few ingredients (the fewer the better). We understand that there are occasions where eating fast food is unavoidable but if given a choice it is better to avoid fast food if possible because it usually contains a long list of components, most of which are highly processed and artificially created. 

Eating whole foods is a much better choice because this way you will put your body to work breaking down the components of the food you eat.  If you make a small change in your diet and you start consuming whole foods regularly, it will make a big difference to your body because it will help you change your metabolism: Did you know that eating whole foods forces your body to burn calories when it breaks down the food? And you get the benefits of the fiber, controlling cholesterol and improving your digestive system. But when you consume refined products the body does not have to work as much because most of the sugars are already processed and go directly to the blood stream; so instead of burning calories the response of the organism is to transform the excess sugar into fat. Let’s remember that 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat.

So, if we understand what we do, we are empowered to consciously change our eating habits, and because of that, we have a better chance of succeed in our intentions.  It is a good choice to choose to eat vegetables usually in a form of a salad, but we can make it a better choice - healthier and smarter- if we choose to eat a green leaf salad. Spinach or kale contains loads of iron and calcium which are good for you.  An iceberg lettuce salad is not a very good choice because  lettuce has a very low nutritional value (mostly composed of water).  Make it even better by seasoning it simply with oil and vinegar instead of a heavier blue cheese or ranch dressing.  Your body will thank you sooner than you think.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Better Living With The Green Ingredient Eatery

Greetings to all and happy New Year. I am very excited to launch this e- newsletter where I will share tips to help you gain confidence around healthy eating.
Congratulations on stepping into my hands-on, nutrition education where the skills you learn will open up your eyes on a better living for you and your family.

Two important points to start off your year is by:

1.- Enjoyment and not deprivation, is the best way to make a fresh start on a healthy you. When you deprive yourself of things you like, you end up eating more down the line. Learn to pass up overly processed foods and concentrate on simple foods and drinks as the New Year begins. Look at the ingredients on the label, if you can’t pronounce half of what it contains, guess what? It’s not really healthy.

2.- Balancing a meal: The easiest way to know if you are eating healthy is to look down at your plate and determine if it is balanced. Sometimes determining 'balance' can be tricky though! Divide your plate in HALF. Half number one should be fruits and veggies. Half number two should have grains
and protein. The same goes for your kids. Take a look at for more tips.

That’s it! If you can do these two things, then you can give yourself a big pat on the back.