Back to the Beverage Basics

This week, I am going back to some basics. While I love writing about all the cool, new nutrition research I learn at work and at school, I sometimes forget that many people have a tough time making basic healthy choices – especially when it comes to what they are drinking.

In many of my rotations at the hospital, people overlook drinks as a source of nutrition. I have seen overweight patients who just can’t figure out why they aren’t losing weight while eating eggs for breakfast, a salad, for lunch, and grilled chicken for dinner. Guess what? These people also drink crazy chocolate-y, sugary Starbucks drinks, several glasses of orange juice per day, and bottle on bottles of pop/soda. I even had one patient who admitted to drinking over 2 liters of orange juice every day – that’s about 946 calories and 176 grams of sugar!! I know this is an extreme scenario, but it is so easy to lose sight of how easily those fluid calories can add up.

When I am working with patients who want to lose weight, my number one piece of advice is to switch to zero calorie beverages with no artificial sweeteners. Yes, diet coke is zero calories, but all the artificial sweeteners wreak havoc on your digestion and bacteria in your gut (more on this in a future post, but for now, avoid all artificial sweeteners).

So what type of beverages do I recommend?

Number 1 is always water! Hot, cold, with lemon, berries, or cucumbers…water is always the best option. I love mine ice cold with a wedge of lemon, of course!

If you aren’t a fan of water, try the unsweetened, flavored, sparking waters that are all over Instagram and Facebook, like LaCroix or Bubly. While these are all better options than pop or sugary drinks, I still encourage people to stick with fluids that aren’t sparkling. There is some newer research showing that all the carbonation can acid reflux and increase ghrelin levels (the hormone that makes you feel hungry).

You can also pick up a cup of coffee. No, not a double chocolate Frappuccino with umpteen pumps of flavor or even a cup with some Splenda…just a plain old cup of black coffee (maybe with a splash of milk). Two to three, 8 ounce cups of coffee per day has been found to decrease risk of many diseases and help you live longer. Unsweetened tea, hot or cold, is also a good option.

Ultimately, my top beverage recommendations are:
1. Water
2. Unsweetened tea
3. Black coffee
4. Zero-calorie flavored water
*1-2 glasses of milk each day (any variety) is also okay. There is lots of new and controversial research about milk, but I’ll save that topic for another day.

Stay away from:
1. Pop/Soda (diet and regular)
2. Juice (even the 100% natural kind)
3. Fancy, sugary coffee drink
4. Gatorade and other sports drinks (unless you are a competitive athlete)

I challenge you to cut out all fluid calories – that could add up to a few hundred calories per day or ½ pound per week!

 

Lemon Chia Muffins

Two years in the books! I am not quite sure what I expected when I started blogging, but I never imagined that I would keep it up for this long (I honestly thought it might be one of those novelties that is cool at first but wears off). Either way, I have really enjoyed writing about my food and nutrition experiences.

Just like last year, I thought I would share healthy and lemony recipe to celebrate: Lemon Chia Muffins. Testing out this recipe was just a little more exciting than any other recipe I’ve made. Why, you ask? Because it was the very first thing I ever cooked/baked in my very own apartment! Technically my Blogiversary is August 1, but I was a little busy moving back to Cleveland. There are lots of “firsts” for me this month: first apartment, first day of my Dietetic Internship, and first day of grad school so I am sure I will have lots to share.

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Anyways, back to the muffins. They are packed with tons of nutrients that you wouldn’t find in your typical sugar-filled muffins. The whole wheat flour provides more protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium than white flour. That being said, baking with whole wheat flour makes cakes and muffins a lot more dense and chewy (I thought these tasted great with this texture but it is not your typical crumbly muffin). The chia seeds also pack in some fiber and the Greek yogurt adds protein and calcium.

Each muffin comes in at about 140 calories, only 1g of fat, and 6g of protein (that’s the same as 1-2 egg whites- but tastes much better!).

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My First Blogiversary!

IMG_4328It’s hard for me to believe that one year ago today I made my first blog post on The Lemon Wedge. Over the past 12 months I have written 40 blog posts, received 221 “likes” on my posts, and gained 88 followers. To some that might not seem like much but I never thought anyone more than my family would be reading my posts. In high school I swore I would never write anything that wasn’t for school assignment. It is amazing how writing about something I love has turned my most hated school subject into a hobby. Over the next year I hope to write more, cook more, and learn more about food and nutrition that I can share with you.

Enough with my rambling and onto the celebration. Yes, my blogs 1st birthday calls for a celebration! In true Lemon Wedge fashion, I decided to conjure up a lemony and healthy dessert for the occasion. The result: Lemon Frozen Yogurt. It came out a little more frozen and icy rather than smooth and yogurty, but it still tasted great and made for a good celebration treat! I scooped it into a hollowed out lemon for this photo op, but if I make it again, I would definitely make it into popsicles to enjoy on a hot and humid summer day. The recipe is below so you can freeze it in whichever form suits your fancy.

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Thanks for reading my blogs over the past year and I hope you look forward to another year full of posts. What topics would you like me to write about over the next year?

Airport Snacking

Last Friday I packed my backpack and hopped on a plane to New Jersey to spend the weekend at a family gathering. My parents and brother were flying home 4 hours before my flight back to school so as I had a good chuck of time to wander the Newark airport. As I explored the terminal, I realized that an airport is pretty much one long hallway trying to give you a heart attack. No matter what airport you are at, or which terminal you are in, you probably won’t get to your gate before passing a McDonalds,Cinnabon, Burger King, or Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, (or all of the above!). It can be hard to avoid these cheap, unhealthy restaurants when so many hours are spent at airports just sitting around and waiting.

With all the hype of healthy eating recently, it is getting easier and easier to find healthy foods in the airport, but I personally like to pack my own snacks. Here are some of my flying favorites:

  1. Apples: I am kind of an apple-aholic so I usually have an apple with me wherever I go. Apples are easy to throw in your bag last minute and don’t require any utensils to eat.
  1. Red Peppers: Having sliced red peppers on hand is a great way to pack in some vitamin C while you are traveling. Planes are covered in germs so getting the extra immune boost will help prevent you from getting sick. Why red peppers? They actually have almost 3x the amount of vitamin C you would find in an orange!
  1. Yogurt: Yogurt is a good source of protein, which can keep you energized during those long hours in the air. Watch out though; I once got my yogurt confiscated at security because TSA said it was a liquid! Now I try to bring a small enough cup that it fits in my quart size liquids bag.
  1. Water: High altitudes can lead to dehydration so it is critical to drink lots of water while traveling. I hate using tiny airplane bathrooms so I try to drink lots of water before and after I land. And, of course, my water usually has a wedge of lemon in it for an extra vitamin C boost!

Did your flight get delayed and you need some more substantial food? Burger King has a grilled chicken sandwich, and most fast food places also have grilled chicken salads for a healthier option.

Also, don’t forget to stay active on travel days. Instead of sitting at your gate waiting to board, go for a walk through their airport. You are going to be sitting for the next several hours on the plane so you might as well keep yourself moving while you can!

When Life Hands You Lemons…

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I love water with lemon! Hot water, cold water, room temperature water: it’s always better with lemon. But, there is nothing I hate more than being handed a glass of water with a slice of lemon. Why? Because there is no good way to get the lemon juice into the water. Have you ever tried to squeeze a lemon slice? It is impossible! You end up with a mangled lemon and its juice all over your fingers. Wedges, on the other hand, make life so much easier. You can squeeze all of the juice into the cup, and they leave no sticky fingers.

So when life hands you lemons… hope they are cut into wedges so you can squeeze them!

At this point, I think you understand why my blog is called The Lemon Wedge. My future posts will probably having nothing to do with lemons, so get ready for all things food, travel, and college life. Grab a glass of water with lemon (a lemon wedge, of course) and enjoy!