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How to Combat Fatty Movie Theater Snacks

29 Jul
Take these low-calorie snacks

Don’t you wish you could actually buy these low-calorie snacks at a movie theater?

If you’ve sampled the fine cuisine of one movie theater snack bar, you’ve pretty dined at them all. Popcorn, soft pretzels, candy, and the inevitable $7.50 Pepsi. Total health food.

When we moved to LA, I thought movie theaters here would be stocked with low-calorie snacks. I expected tofu dogs, side salads, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, or at least Popchips, but no. So far we’ve been to two different movie theaters and each one had the standard fatty fare.

Now, I know you’re not supposed to bring your own snacks into a movie theater, but they really leave you no choice. When the “healthy” option is a 500 calorie soft pretzel, you have to take matters into your own hands…

Low-Calorie Snacks to Smuggle Into Movie Theaters

Okay, we’ve already covered that it’s wrong to bring your own food into movie theaters. It’s bad. Yeah yeah. We’re past that.

So, the next time you head out to a movie theater, stow some of these low-calorie snacks in your bag (or your pants, whatever works best for you):

  • Emerald 100 Calorie Pack Almonds
  • String Cheese
  • Snack-sized Popchips
  • Fresh cut fruit
  • Homemade Trail Mix
  • Pre-popped Popcorn
  • Granola Bars

Don’t forget to bring a mini bottle of water too, in case you get thirsty!

Moving? Tips for Eating Healthy in a New Town

9 Jul
Our moving caravan traveling through the Palm Desert.

Our moving caravan traveling through the Palm Desert.

My husband and I moved from Pittsburgh, PA to Los Angeles, CA last week! Little bit of a big change there, right? The entire process took a TON of work. From packing all of our belongings in moving boxes, to driving across the country in a Penske truck (one that I must add was pulling my sweet Mazda3), to moving ourselves into a shiny little third floor apartment, we had a pretty exhausting couple of weeks.

Thankfully now we’re all unpacked and settled into our new home in sunny LA, but it took nearly a week for us to get there. Between unpacking moving boxes and making frequent trips to Target, the last thing we wanted to do was stop everything and make dinner. Truthfully, our refrigerator had barely more than milk, a few containers of Greek yogurt, and some cottage cheese in it until yesterday.

Not only was cooking inconvenient, it was also the boring option. My husband and I are in full agreement that one of the most fun ways to explore our sunny new town is through our stomachs, like the little piggies that we are. As one can imagine, LA has ten of every type of restaurant you can imagine, and so many of them are actually healthy AND cheap! Too amazing for words. Finally though, yesterday, after five days of eating everywhere in LA, I made dinner in our new kitchen for the first time. And for the record, I did so again today. Oink on that!

Eating Healthy and Exploring Your New Town

If you’re also planning a move to a new town in the near future, or have already arrived at your destination, here’s a few tips for exploring the cuisine without expanding your waistline:

  • Walk to Your Destination: If you live in a pedestrian-friendly area, walk to dinner instead of driving. You’ll burn a few extra calories and get to see a little more of your new neighborhood.
  • Designate Dining Out Nights: At the beginning of the week decide how many times you’ll eat out that week. Then stick to it. If it helps, plan out where you’ll go in advance so you can look forward to it with hungry anticipation.
  • Incorporate Local Specialties: Eating in doesn’t need to mean you’re doomed to feast on Hamburger Helper and Spaghetti O’s. Learn what types of fresh food your town is known for producing and incorporate that into your menu. For example, if you’ve moved to a beach town, start cooking fresh fish. You’ll get a taste of your new town without having to leave your own kitchen.

Moving to a new town is exciting! Exploring new restaurants is personally one of my favorite things, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s encouraged! Just remember, moderation is the key to just about everything in life.

Eating Healthy and Exercising On-the-Go

10 Jun

It’s not always convenient to fit eating healthy and exercising into your day. Especially when you’re traveling or just really busy. When you’re short on time (and exhausted) it can be tempting to skip the gym and head to one of the closest fast food restaurants in the area for a quick and easy meal. Admittedly, sometimes this is the best option in a bind, but make a habit of it and your waistline is going to expand. And fast.

Personally, I’ve been pretty busy lately. We’ve been out-of-town the past three weekends, in addition to preparing for a cross-country move. A bit overwhelming at times! I can more than relate to just how difficult it can be to find the time to fit exercising into an already packed schedule. And to work up the energy to make a healthy lunch and dinner.

Here’s a few tips to keep eating healthy and exercising, even when it’s a whole lot easier not to:

  • Schedule Your Workouts: At the beginning of the week take note of the days you’re free to workout at your normal time. If your availability doesn’t equal an adequate amount of exercising time for the week, get creative! If you normally workout in the evenings, wake up early and go for a morning run. It’ll be rough rousing yourself out of bed early, but trust me, you won’t regret it.

  • Work Exercise Into Your Day: If crafty scheduling still isn’t cutting it to get your normal workouts in, you can always find fun little alternative ways to fit exercise into your day. Last weekend my husband and I were in NYC and instead of working out in the gym, we went for a bike ride around the perimeter of Central Park. So fun! I also love to go outside for lunchtime walks. Sure, it’s not the greatest calorie burner ever, but it’s something. And it pulls me away from the glare of my computer screen for awhile. Total bonus!

I hadn't been on a bike since I was about 11 or 12. The first few minutes of the ride were interesting, the rest were fun!

Biking in Central Park was  a great way to get our daily exercise in.

  • Prepare Healthy Food in Advance: Sometimes you really won’t have time to cook dinner or pack a healthy lunch for work. Combat this problem with a little advance planning. If you know you have a crazy week ahead of you, spend an hour on Sunday making dinner for the week, putting individual portions in freezable containers. Quick, easy, and healthy!

It can be tempting to opt for fast food restaurants and declare an exercising ban when you’re really super busy, but well, just don’t. Healthy food doesn’t typically come from restaurants where employees wear funny little hats. Eating healthy and working out shouldn’t be an option, it should be your way of life!

Mastering the Art of Eating Healthy on the Turnpike

3 Jun

Last weekend my husband and I took a trip across the great state of Pennsylvania to visit his family in Philly. The five hour trip itself isn’t terrible — especially when you’re not driving — but what is completely wretched about the journey is the food options available on the turnpike. Some awful “restaurant” called Roy Rogers dominates most service plazas, as well as Burger King and Sbarro. Yum. Keep eating healthy Pennsylvania.

Obviously eating anything purchased on the turnpike is simply not an option, so it’s up to us to come up with lots of car-friendly healthy snack ideas. Luckily I have an insulated cooler bag, so all I have to do is put a few ice packs in it and magically our healthy snack options are expanded. If you’ve ever tried eating healthy on a road trip, you know how hard it is to do so without a way to keep food cold!

wpid-2012-04-25_21-02-16_674.jpg

Bring these healthy snacks along for the ride.

Healthy Snack Ideas for Road Trips:

  • Popchips

  • Pre-cut fruit (strawberries, melons, pineapple, kiwi, mangoes)

  • Hummus and baby carrots

  • Emerald Almonds 100 Calorie Packs

  • Apples, peaches, and any other non-messy whole pieces of fruit

  • Protein bars

  • Low-fat string cheese

Eating Healthy on the Road

When our Philly road trips start bright and early in the morning we always make sure to eat a nice healthy breakfast before leaving Pittsburgh. Sometimes we head to a local breakfast place that opens bright and early with the roosters, but usually my husband heads to the kitchen and makes healthy breakfast magic happen himself. Being nice and full when we leave town is great, because we’re fine to just subsist on our healthy snacks until we make it to Philly.

When we know we’re going to be on the turnpike at lunchtime, we come prepared as eating at Roy Rogers is just not an option. Our favorite thing to do is to stop at Philly grocery store, Wegman’s, on the way out of town for some to-go food. They have the absolute BEST prepared food section ever. Ever. Ever. So good! One time we actually drove half an hour out of the way to find a Wegman’s, but that’s a story for a different day…

Moral of the Story: While I cannot speak for most other states, eating healthy at Pennsylvania Turnpike service centers is not an option. I cannot image the situation is much better in other states. Bring your own food or risk having to shove a Whopper or a piece of Roy Rogers chicken in your face. Yuck!

 

Our Quick & Easy Healthy Little Easter Dinner

1 Apr

My aunt and uncle always a big family Easter Sunday celebration at their farm, but this year we were out- of- town for a wedding the night before, so we spent the day on the road traveling home. Although we were sad to miss Easter dinner with the family, being the maid-of-honor at my best friend from high school’s wedding was probably a pretty good excuse!

Making the “scenic” five hour drive across the state of Pennsylvania kept us busy for a good part of the day, but I didn’t want to make us miss out on the entire holiday. Easter dinner can be fantastic whether you’re dining with 30 people or wellll…. two. In this case our holiday dinner party consisted of the two of us — my husband and I.

Though we spent most of the day traveling, I still wanted to make a delicious dinner, because who wants to eat Easter dinner takeout style? Also, even if we did want to make it easy and order in, most places are closed by Easter Sunday evening. We actually learned this the hard way one year when Easter dinner was served very early, and there wasn’t much of it. Finding any open establishments in our area proved to be quite tricky.

After riding in the car for five-plus hours knew I wasn’t going to want to make a whole huge spread, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Here’s the healthy, delicious, easy recipes I chose for our little Easter dinner for two:

Appetizer

Mmm delicious homemade pita chips...

Mmm delicious homemade pita chips…


I made this recipe for Thyme Pita Chips from The Divine Addiction last week and it was such a hit that I decided to do it again! You can’t beat dinner recipes that are both easy to make and delicious. The only modification I made was spraying the pita chips with olive oil, instead of drizzling them with the real thing, to cut down the fat.

I paired this with store-bought hummus, because honestly I made hummus once and it was disgusting. I’ll leave that one to the professionals.

Main Course
I ended up choosing Skinnytaste Zucchini Lasagna as our main course, because honestly I’d never noticed this recipe on the site before and it was insta-love! Hello low-carb lasagna! I actually made this little dish of culinary brilliance on Thursday evening and put it in the freezer, so all I had to do was take it out and deposit it in the oven.

Oh and I also made few slight modifications to it as well, mainly just swapping 99% fat-free ground turkey for the beef, using Kraft fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese instead of Parmigiano Reggiano, trading 1% cottage cheese for ricotta, and subbing olive oil spray in place of the real thing.

This turned out a little soupy, so I just made my husband dish it out. Haha.

This turned out a little soupy, so I just made my husband dish it out. Haha.

Side Dish
I thought I had my side dishes figured out, then I found this recipe for Skinnytaste Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles on Pinterest, and I knew I HAD to surprise my husband with it. The man LOVES his bacon! I just swapped Butterball low-sodium turkey bacon in place of the real thing to cut some of the fat out.

Green beans wrapped in turkey bacon - what's not to love?!

Green beans wrapped in turkey bacon – what’s not to love?!

To top it off, we stopped at a grocery store in Philly on our way home for a baguette. No guilt on that little splurge either, as most everything else is impressively lite on carbs, if I do say so myself.

These healthy, easy recipes allowed my husband and I to have a delicious little feast on Easter evening, without a whole lot of work!

Cut Calories & Plump Your Wallet by Bringing a Healthy Lunch to Work

25 Mar
My healthy lunch stockpile


My healthy lunch stockpile

I love a good healthy lunch. I do my best to follow a healthy diet most of the time, but I always feel better about dinner splurges when I know it’s my first diversion into fatland for the day. One of the main ways I always manage to find a healthy lunch in downtown Pittsburgh, is by making it in my own kitchen and toting it to work myself each day.

As someone who has been a devoted lunch packer my entire professional life, it seems crazy to me that many people eat out every single day. I mean, kudos to them for supporting the economy and all, but that seems a bit excessive.

Sure, I enjoy eating out at lunchtime every once in awhile with my dad (who also has the pleasure of working in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh), friends, or during the rare times that there just isn’t any suitable food in my house. This is an occasional gift to myself though, not part of my daily grind.

Not only does packing a healthy lunch allow me to avoid accidentally eating an unidentified fat bomb, it’s also one of the easiest ways to save money I can think of. If you think about it, the average lunch out probably costs about $10. Multiple that by five and you’ve spent $50 on lunch for ONE WEEK! That’s only ever-so-slightly less than I spend about that much on my entire weekly grocery bill!

I know a lot of people have grand intentions of making a healthy lunch in the morning, but then end up eating out because they run out of time to actually do it. Personally, I avoid this little snafu by making lunch at night. Actually, I do as much advance prep work as I can. For example, if I’m bringing strawberries to work that week, I put three days of them in containers at a time, so all I have to do is grab one and put it in my lunch bag. Voila!

So there you’ll have it — whether you’re looking for ways to save money, cut calories, or both, bringing a healthy lunch to work is the answer you’ve been looking for!

Making Eating Well Fun By Cooking Together

18 Mar

The weather is finally getting warmer! Okay, rephrase — about a week ago we had a really nice, warm, sunny day. Right now, that one day of warm sunshine is what those of us in Pittsburgh have to hold onto in hopes that someday spring will arrive. And stick around longer than two days…

Anyways, one of my husband and I’s favorite things to do on a nice, warm day is make dinner together. It’s the little things people! This is an especially great activity for a nice lazy Sunday.

Thankfully for us, the warm sunny day that graced over Pittsburgh last week was a Sunday, so we quickly sprung into action. We headed to our favorite place in town for super cheap produce and meat — otherwise known as the Strip District. Eating well doesn’t have to cost a fortune when you shop local. Farmer’s markets are amazing! Plus, it’s also great to support local small businesses whenever you can.

Divide and Conquer
My husband always cooks the meat. This is for many reasons including the fact that I’m afraid of the grill and just genuinely bad at cooking meat. And I don’t really have a desire to improve my meat cooking skills either, as he’s more than willing to hold that honor.

On the other hand, I’m very good at following other people’s recipes for fabulously easy appetizers and side dishes made with fresh produce. So I rock that out inside, while he’s grilling outside.

Last weekend he made us some barbeque chicken and the most delicious rosemary potatoes ever. Seriously, I had no idea I married a potato-baking genius. Now I’m going to annoyingly request these everytime we cook together.

How pretty! Getting ready to go in the oven.

How pretty! Getting ready to go in the oven.

As for my culinary contributions, I made one of my favorites, Skinnytaste Baked Eggplant Sticks and a new recipe I found for balsamic carrots. I got this recipe from Simply Divine, a book by Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump, and just made it a bit healthier.

Mmm delicious!

Mmm delicious!

Love this book!

Love this book!

So there you’ll have it, eating well doesn’t have to break the bank. You can even do it at home. And it can entertain you and your husband for hours. What’s not to love?