5 Easy Meal Prep Ideas

Are you looking for some easy meal prep recipe ideas that can help you stop eating out for lunch everyday? How about eating something different every day instead of prepping the same meal everyday? There is nothing worse than eating the same lunch everyday. Here are 5 easy meal prep recipes!

Where to Start

When you think about meal prep ideas, it can be difficult to think about what you want to eat every day for lunch and/or dinner. I know that when it’s the weekend I start dreading the idea of having to pack my lunch for work. What am I going to eat? How am I going to prepare this? What if I get bored with my food this week?

Fear not! I have 5 easy meal prep ideas that will be sure to help you with your meals for the week. The first thing that you want to think about is what meat / protein source you want to eat. For example – do you want chicken, beef, seafood, or beans / lentils? This is going to help you determine what you want with the rest of your meal. If you would start with your side first – your meal prep idea might not taste very good.

The next thing you want to choose is your grain item. If you chose grilled chicken as your protein source – what do you like to eat with that? Do you want rice, pasta, or bread? There are many other choices that you can make for this as well.

Then choose your veggie and/or fruit. You always want to choose variety on the vegetables and fruit that you are eating. Your meal prep ideas won’t last very long if you don’t choose vegetables and fruit that you like but also that are different.

Now that you know where to start, let’s talk about how you put all of this together to create some easy meal prep ideas!

Meal Prep Idea #1 – Red Beans & Rice

The easiest meal to cook is red beans and rice with spinach or collard greens on the side. As a person in South Louisiana – beans and rice are just meant for Mondays. If you are a person that likes to try “meatless Mondays” then beans is rice is perfect for you. While I like to cook mine from scratch, I know that can take a lot of time. Thankfully we have pressure cookers and crockpots now that you can cook that when you’re gone. What’s the protein here? Red beans. Your grains is the rice. Your vegetable is the spinach or collard greens. If you absolutely can’t stand cooked spinach or collard greens, you can always substitute this with green beans.

Meal Prep Idea #2 – Taco Tuesday

Another easy meal prep idea is tacos with a side of salad. If we follow the order of days here – this would even fall on Taco Tuesday! What’s not to like about this? You can choose a variety of tacos. One week choose shredded chicken tacos and the next week you can do ground beef tacos. How does this follow the easy meal prep idea flow? Your protein is chicken or beef. Your grain is the tortilla shell. The vegetables is coming from the salad. You can even keep up with the theme of Taco Tuesday by using salsa as your dressing.

Meal Prep Idea #3 – Spaghetti & Meat Sauce

One of my favorite meals to create for the week is spaghetti with meat sauce and a side of steamed mixed vegetables. It is an easy meal prep idea that goes a long way for a relatively cheap price. How do you prep this as your meal? Your meat – ground meat or meatballs depending on what you prefer in a tomato sauce. Your grain is pasta. I prefer to use angel hair pasta for spaghetti. For your vegetables, you are getting a big side of steamed mixed vegetables. You have a complete meal that is so easy to make.

Meal Prep Idea #4 – Chicken Salad Sandwiches

How much easier can you get than chicken salad sandwiches? If you want to make this an easy meal prep idea – buy either frozen grilled chicken and cook it or a rotisserie chicken and then shred it. To make your chicken salad have more nutrients – add some chopped up celery, tomatoes, and onions into your chicken salad. If you’re looking for my recipe for chicken salad look no further! You can pair a salad with this. What is your protein? Chicken. Your grain is bread and your vegetables is the salad.

Meal Prep Idea #5 – Oven “Fried” Fish or Shrimp

I like making meals quick and easy, because most of us have busy lives between work and children. Oven “fried” fish or shrimp with a baked potato and a side of carrots and sweet peas. Normally you see fried fish or shrimp with French fries and a roll but I like to make my easy meal prep ideas on the more nutritious side. If you do not own an air fryer – the old fashioned oven is an “air fryer” that can give you the same results.

More Information:

If you’re wanting more advice on how to eat healthy and meal prep – purchase my “Guide to Healthy Eating – Cooking at Home.”

This is a full color e-book with a meal plan to help you earn how to eat healthier! This e-book was designed to help YOU learn how to portion the food you cook at home so that you can not only feel better, but also learn what you should be eating at each meal!

To view all meal plans and e-books, go to my SHOP.

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What is Diet Culture?

If you survived life through the early 90’s – 2000’s then you are aware of how bad magazines and TV stressed eating barely anything and being a size 000. The covers of those magazines showed super skinny models and showed you how to develop an eating disorder with food. This all revolves around the term diet culture.

7 low calorie foods that fill you up

7 Low Calorie Foods That Fill You Up!

These 7 low calorie foods will help you know what foods to eat that will stop you from feeling hungry! They are low in calories and will help keep you fuller longer!

What is Diet Culture?

If you survived life through the early 90’s – 2000’s then you are aware of how bad magazines and TV stressed eating barely anything and being a size 000. The covers of those magazines showed super skinny models and showed you how to develop an eating disorder with food. This all revolves around the term diet culture.

Diet Culture Definition

Diet culture by definition is valuing someone’s body size and appearance for their health status. Diet culture glorifies being thin and associates that with optimum health. In addition to this, people are taught that you have to follow crowds and the latest and greatest diet trends.

I’m sure you’ve seen it – but no overweight / obese body can be healthy. As in – your body size is the only thing that matters to people in diet culture. The worst thing that I’ve seen is healthcare professionals idealizing those that remain thin and think that overweight / obese individuals are lazy and have no willpower to be thin.

From my experience, it’s not that people that are overweight lack any willpower or are lazy – it’s that diet culture is tough to follow. How can you expect someone to follow such a rigorous diet that eliminates entire food groups and glorifies being thin over being healthy? In order to be part of diet culture – you typically follow the 5 steps of The Diet Cycle.

The Diet Cycle

  • Step 1 – Start Diet
    • You want to lose weight so you are searching for the newest weight loss trend out there. You know you want to lose weight so you look for the one that has the quickest weight loss.
  • Step 2 – Restriction
    • Now you are following whatever new diet has been created by influencers out there to “help” you lose weight. It’s going to have a lot of strict rules and foods that you have to avoid in order to be on the diet.
    • This usually lasts anywhere from 10 – 14 days. After that 10-14 day period of restricting, you find it very difficult to actually stick to the weight loss diet. You do see weight loss because you’re not consuming as many calories as your body is burning. Moving on to step 3.
  • Step 3 – Frustration
    • You are now frustrated with your diet plan. You are stressed more because you are consumed with thinking about what foods you cannot have and can have. You are obviously hungry because these diet plans are only 800 – 1200 calories a day. This is not enough to keep you full in a day, which leads you to being frustrated on the food that you’re eating.
  • Step 4 – Give in
    • The inevitable will happen at some point – even if you outlast the 14 days of frustration. It could be a month, maybe two, but eventually you give in. You lose control over your diet and break down. You start eating normal food again. You find you are overindulging on your favorite foods because you haven’t had them in so long. Now you want to eat all the food and snacks you’ve missed out on.
  • Step 5 – Guilt
    • Once you break your diet, you feel guilty about giving in. This is the part that no one usually talks about. You don’t like yourself for breaking your diet but can’t stop eating the foods that you really enjoy. The guilt lasts as you see your weight go back up to your pre-diet weight. Then you start the cycle over and over again.

How to Spot Diet Culture?

There are some pretty big red flags when you think about diet culture, which makes it easy to spot once you know what to look for. You can avoid the diet cycle by looking for the red flags of diet culture.

Rule #1 – Strict Rules

The first red flag for diet culture is the use of very strict rules. I.E. – you have to avoid entire food groups like carbs or fruit (because that is the most common). If you don’t follow these set of rules you are a terrible person that doesn’t know how to follow a diet that works for everybody else. The people giving you these diets tell you that only certain things are allowed and it usually involves avoiding foods that you like.

Rule #2 – Weight Lost Matters

The total amount of body weight that you lost is the single most important aspect. It doesn’t matter if you lost 2 # of fat or 2# of muscle – the only thing that matters is that you lost 15# total. When you lose a lot of weight on these diets, you are not just losing fat mass. In fact, you are typically losing a lot of water and muscle weight.

Rule #3 – Failure is Not Allowed

You cannot fail. It’s that simple. If you do – it looks bad on the diet and on the people selling the diet to you. Diet culture is successful by using people that actually lose weight. You have to provide before and after photos as well.

How to Break Away from Diet Culture

  • Do not follow people on social media promoting diet culture and the diet cycle.
  • Focus on eating more foods that have lots of vitamins and minerals rather than restricting your food.
  • Keep a journal on how you feel when you start taking care of your whole self rather than thinking only of dieting and losing weight.

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What Is Collagen Made Of?

Collagen is a popular supplement in the health industry, but do you know what collagen is and what is does? If you have no idea what collagen is made of and if you should buy these supplements, keep reading on to find out what collagen actually does for you body.

7 low calorie foods that fill you up

7 Low Calorie Foods That Fill You Up

These 7 low calorie foods will help you know what foods to eat that will stop you from feeling hungry! They are low in calories and will help keep you fuller longer!

How To Become A Dietitian

how to become a dietitian

Have you heard about the career path called – dietitian? Have you ever thought “How do I become a dietitian?” or “How to Become A Dietitian?” Well look no further! Here are your answers for how you become a dietitian! Cheat sheet included!

I remember when I was in college for what I thought was going to be my degree – the ever present nursing degree as all parents like to push their kids into that field because it is needed desperately across the globe. My mom was ever persistent in the fact that nurses only worked 3-4 days a week and made really good money. So as most kids do, I followed my mom’s advice – nursing school it was.

I never imagined that on my first day of clinicals, two years into college, that I would never want to complete the course work. 2 years of hard earned work, accepted into clinicals, and in the field practicing. I knew that first day at the hospital that it was not my calling. I knew that I was never going to be a nurse. I had never heard of a dietitian until the semester I started clinicals when I took, surprisingly, a communications course. Everyone had to talk about their majors and what they wanted to do with their lives in the future. Out of a class of 20, the lone girl talked about becoming a dietitian. It was a shocker for me because I had never heard of this – not in high school and not in my first year or so in college. We asked questions about how you would become a dietitian, what you could do, etc.

It was a real eye opener to know that you could do other things in health care besides becoming a physician and becoming a nurse. Did this deter me from my *then* future career? Heck no. I was on the path to become a nurse until that dreadful day in the NICU, Labor and delivery, and Postpartum. My 19 year old self was traumatized. *ha ha* I was just a baby trying to learn my first semester in a university medical center.

When that semester ended, I knew two things: I had to transfer to another program and my credits needed to transfer because I wasn’t willing to spend more money than I had to. During that summer semester, I took a dietetics course – intro to nutrition and also spoke with an advisor at a different college about dietetics.

Maybe it was the idea that I could finish on time or maybe it was the passion that my future professor had for the field of dietetics, but whatever the case. I was a new career path as a dietitian. I remember the conversion like it was yesterday. I had to finish in two years to keep my grants and TOPS and she said lets do it. How many hours you want to take? 21 hours a semester for 2 years and I was able to obtain my Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics. Now, they don’t even let you take those many hours in one semester because it is draining and boy, was it draining. It was brutal to the fullest possible extent.

So in May 2013 I got my bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Nicholls State University. I couldn’t have worked harder, especially having a baby between my last two semesters. Ya’ll – when they tell you that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it, I can attest to that. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Once you complete your bachelor’s degree, you are given a verification statement stating that you have completed all of the prerequisites to apply for internships.

To become a dietitian, you have to complete a 1200 hour internship once you finish your bachelors. I didn’t do that right away. Instead, I went on to work in a nursing home as a dietary manager doing both food service and clinical aspects without holding that registered dietitian title. I knew that I wanted more out of life than to be stuck as a dietary manager and started applying for internships. This is crucial because you only have 5 years from the time you graduate to applying for internships for your verification statement to be valid. If you go beyond that point, you have to retake classes. Between that and another child, I got accepted into the University of Houston’s distance dietetic internship – one of the fastest internships out there – 6 months.

With two kids under 2 and a full time job, there was little time to play around, much less move to another state for an internship so I had to use the resources around me. I got approved for food service management credit because of my job of 2 years and only had to complete community and clinical. In a separate post, I’ll talk about distance internships and what they mean to you or potentially could mean. You are on your own – from finding preceptors to going to your rotations and keeping your documents.

During the normal work week, I was in my internship and on the nights and weekends I was working my dietary manager job. 90-hours plus a week for 4 months. I cannot begin to tell you the exhaustion that caused me. The thought of nothing else except having that credential behind me name. Registered Dietitian.

Once you complete your 1200 hour internship, you move on to take the registered dietitian exam through the Commission on Dietetic Registration, which holds the national exam for all dietitians. This requires a lot of studying because it covers general food information on why breads rise, food service management with formulas that you have to memorize to medical nutrition therapy that you have to know about. It is a lot of information!

Alas, I passed the exam the first try and had that credential I worked so hard for – registered dietitian. The good news for those that are in the process of becoming a dietitian is that they do not have to go on and get a master’s degree. By 2024, the new standards are that anyone that sits for the registered dietitian exam will have to have a master’s degree. Of course, those that are already dietitians will be grandfathered in. So if you are considering this as your future career path, just know that you will have to obtain a master’s degree.

As far as licensing goes, some states require licensing and some do not. This is up to state law to determine the licensing laws.

Cheat Sheet on becoming a dietitian:

  • You need to get a bachelor’s degree in dietetics
  • If you already have a degree, you can just take the didactic courses in dietetics to get the needed classes without having to retake all of your classes
  • You will have to get a verification statement to apply to dietetic internships. Visit: Eatright.org for accredited universities and programs!
  • Apply to dietetic internships based on your timeframe for completing it and location
  • Sit for the registered dietitian exam
  • Pass the exam!

***2024 standards – have a master’s degree and then pass the RD exam!***

What Are Good Carbs?

What are good carbs?

When you hear the term carbohydrates or carbs, what comes to mind? Is it the endless amount of potatoes and bread that everyone says causes weight gain? Is the weight gain that you fear? Here is your guide to what carbs are, how many calories carbs contain, and what is a ‘good’ carb.

I remember reading magazine articles when I was younger that would talk about bad carbs and good carbs and typically you never heard of a “good carb.” Instead, they were voo doo, bad, terrible for you, or would make you pack on those extra pounds. Still to this day you see magazine articles talking about cutting carbs to shred pounds or avoiding fruit on certain diets because all forms of sugar are bad for you.

So lets talk about what carbohydrates actually are. They are a carbon based molecule – made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. There are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

The three smallest forms of carbohydrate are glucose, fructose, and galactose. These are called monosaccharides. These three simple sugars then combine together to form disaccharides. If you haven’t taken a basic chemistry course, di- means two. So disaccharides are two monosaccharides that chemically joined together. For example, table sugar (sucrose) is a disaccharide made up of glucose and fructose.

This continues on to oligosaccharides, which are three to ten monosaccharides chemically joined together. Once a strand has more than 10 monosaccharides linked together, they are called polysaccharides or complex carbohydrates. Foods that have complex carbohydrates include: potatoes, beans, grains, and corn. But remember that all carbohydrates get broken down into monosaccharides once it is digested in your body. In fact, all sugars are converted into glucose at some point in time!

GOOD CARBS

Now that you know what makes up carbohydrates, you can learn about good carbs and bad carbs. In an ideal diet, there is no such thing as good carbs and bad carbs. In fact, there should be no foods that you should avoid because they are labeled “bad.” The exception to this rule is for food that you are allergic to. Never consume food that you are allergic to.

However, there is a difference between refined carbohydrates and whole grains. Whole grains have had no part of the wheat removed like the bran and the germ so these grains have more vitamins and minerals compared to refined grains like white bread and white pasta. When companies refine grains, they remove the parts of the wheat that contain the vitamins and minerals and leave only the endosperm, which doesn’t contain many nutritional benefits.

That being said, some better carbohydrates are whole wheat breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta compared to white bread, white rice, and white pasta. If you want to consume more vitamins and minerals from potatoes, choosing sweet potatoes over white potatoes will give you more bang for your buck. The whole grain carbohydrates also contain fiber, which helps your microbiota (the bacteria in your gut that you need) function normally! But listen, you do not need to avoid all of the white carbohydrates because they are ‘bad’ for you.

Another good carbohydrate for you is fruit (and some vegetables). They have so many vitamins and minerals that contribute to your immune system that you shouldn’t avoid fruit. It doesn’t matter what diet out there that tells you that fruit is bad for you – that is simply not true.

The overall point here is that there aren’t bad and good carbs. You shouldn’t be avoiding certain food groups because they are labeled as bad and good. Sure, the whole grains will give you more vitamins and minerals, but typically (in the United States) we enrich our grains to contain certain minerals so that the population doesn’t develop deficiencies of these important vitamins and minerals.

LET’S TALK CALORIES

ALL, and I do mean ALL digestible carbohydrates have 4 kcal/gram. The digestive carbohydrates are fruit, breads, beans, rice, pasta, crackers, cakes, etc. have 4 kcal/gram. What typically turns our good and nutritious carbohydrates bad is when we add fat to them.

Let’s picture a plain, medium-sized baked potato – it’s somewhere around 150 calories but when we start adding butter and cheese and bacon – all sources of saturated fat, which is terrible for you – you are packing on another 150 – 200 calories, easily. This is where are good carbohydrates get their bad name. It’s the added fat that is turning your nutritious food into a calorie extravaganza.

We can also take our potato and slice it up and form the infamous french fries that we love to get at fast food restaurants. If you take that same medium-sized baked potato that is 150 calories and fry it in pure oil, which has 100 calories per 2 tablespoons, you’ve once again added more calories from FAT.

FIBER – THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

We’ve talked about complex carbohydrates, and one form of complex carbohydrates is fiber. This is another vital part of our good carbs that are whole grains. Our body cannot digest fiber so it does not provide calories. There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber are not fibrous and form gels when combined with water. You can find soluble fiber in oats (oatmeal), fruit, and dried beans. These are crucial for diabetics because it slows down the rate that glucose is absorbed into your body. This prevents someone that has a typically high blood glucose level, which is typical of diabetics, from having a sudden spike and drop in their glucose levels.

Insoluble fiber do not combine with water, but instead help prevent constipation by increasing stool bulk. You can find insoluble fiber in oat and wheat bran. This is also part of the peeling of fruit and vegetables. For the longest time when I was doing weight loss counseling, I would recommend that my patients not peel away all the white on oranges because of the insoluble fiber located on the orange peel. The same goes for cucumbers, zucchini, squash, apples. You name the fruit or vegetable and I can tell you that it has both insoluble and soluble fiber. The soluble fiber is in the pulp for fruits.

As far as the ugly goes for fiber, here it is. Excessive gas. Yes, I said it and unfortunately it is something that you have to watch for. When you increase your fiber intake, the consequence of that is gas. You can prevent that from happening by drinking plenty of water when increasing your fiber intake. Also, you never want to jump up from no fiber to tons of fiber. This will also give you the ugly gas side effect.

1

What is Collagen Made Of?

what is collagen made of

Collagen is a popular supplement in the health industry, but do you know what collagen is and what is does? If you have no idea what collagen is made of and if you should buy these supplements, keep reading on to find out what collagen actually does for you body.

When you hear the term collagen, I’m sure you think of supplements and powders that are all over Walmart, Amazon, and that crazy thing Facebook has going on where you think of something and the advertisers suddenly put it all over your timeline.

It has taken a spike in shampoos, body lotions, and anything that you put on your skin. Plus, the supplement industry has really focused on getting collagen out on shelves.

But when you actually look up collagen you find out that it is a protein in the body and that you do in fact need it. I’m going to lay out exactly what collagen is and what collagen is made of for you and what research is showing about supplementing with collagen.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the major protein that holds different structures together in your entire body. It forms the basic shape of bone in your body. They help make up the connective tissues in your body (tendons and ligaments).

Collagen isn’t just one type of protein either. In fact, there are 28 types of collagen that have been discovered. The most common types in your body are Types I-V, with type I collagen being the most predominant.

Each type of collagen serves its own purpose and has its own function as all proteins do.

All collagen is shaped the same in that they have three-stranded helical segments that have a similar collagen structure.

The Different Collagen Types:

Type I

This type of collagen is long and thin in structure and accounts for about 90% of your body’s collagen. It also provides structure to tendons, ligaments, skin, bones, and connective tissue.

Type II

Type 2 collagen is found in your cartilage, which helps to cushion joints.

Type III

This type of collagen is found in your skin and blood vessels.

Type IV

This type of collagen is found in your basal membrane. The basal membrane is what surrounds all of your muscle cells, fat cells, and peripheral nerves. Type IV collagen is essential for the structural maintenance for your basal membrane.

How Is Collagen Formed?

You can now see that collagen is essential in most parts of your body, but it is really important for keeping your skin from aging.

After age 50 the amount of collagen in your skin declines and continues to decline at least until age 80, which is where researchers have stopped evaluating the amount of collagen in your body.

Before your body can form collagen, it starts off as procollagen. To put a long story short and spare you the chemistry of this process, your body has a series of reactions to form the different types of collagen.

The three most concentrated amino acids that are in collagen are: Glycine, Proline, and hydroxyproline. There are other amino acids, but these three amino acids are the most frequently occurring in collagen.

Amino acids are the smallest building block of protein. When you consume protein, your body breaks it down into individual amino acids and then those amino acids are used within your body to form different things.

The Need For Vitamin C

To form the correct shape, which will affect the collagen’s structure, Vitamin C is needed.

Vitamin C converts the amino acids proline and lysine to form hydroxyproline (found in collagen) and hydroxylysine. These two amino acids are what help stabilize the structure of collagen.

Without the Vitamin C, one of the main amino acids – hydroxyproline – would not be able to be formed and would make the collagen weak.

This would make all your connective tissue weaker than it should be and then could possibly cause you to have an injury.

Collagen Rich Foods

Vitamin C – the richest sources are green vegetables and citrus fruits such as these:

  • Guava
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries
  • Papaya
  • Oranges / Orange Juice
  • Red peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts

Proline – You can find this amino acid highest in the following foods:

  • Gelatins
  • Collage cheese
  • Beef
  • Cheese
  • Soy
  • Cabbage
  • Chicken
  • Egg whites
  • Dairy products
  • Pork

Glycine – You can find this amino acid highest in the following foods:

  • Gelatins
  • Pork *particularly the skin*
  • Chicken *particularly the skin*
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Crawfish
  • Lobster

While all of these foods are great to get the amino acids needed to create collagen, you also need to consume high biological value proteins.

A high biological value protein is a protein that is efficiently absorbed in the body and converted to protein in your body.

The highest biological value food protein is egg whites. Other high biological value proteins are meat, poultry (chicken & turkey), seafood (crabs, shrimp, crawfish, lobster), legumes (beans), and tofu.

Should I Take A Collagen Supplement?

Collagen supplements are very popular right now and like I’ve said before – we add collagen to practically all beauty products.

The most popular types of collagen sold are hydrolyzed collagen. But are collagen supplements worth spending money on?

Here is some of the most recent studies that have researched the effects of collagen.

  • A study completed in 2018 found that participants that consumed a mixture of hydrolyzed collagen, vitamins, and antioxidants had improved skin texture. These participants also had improved their skin elasticity and their joint health. The actual collagen fiber in the skin was improved from taking an oral supplement of hydrolyzed collagen.
  • Another study completed in 2020 found that oral consumption of hydrolyzed collagen was able to accelerate wound healing in humans.
  • Another study completed in May 2020 found that hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract, which contains hydrolyzed type II collagen peptides reduces signs of aging due to ultraviolet radiation after 14 weeks. This type of collagen was also found to improve skin elasticity.

With these studies and the many other studies that have looked at the effect of hydrolyzed collagen on skin elasticity, there is some evidence to show that hydrolyzed collagen may improve your skin texture, skin elasticity, joint health, and healing wounds quicker.

What Kind of Supplements Should I Take?

While consuming collagen and all of your nutrients are best coming from actual food sources, if you do not eat some of these food products and want to give supplements a try – here are the things you should know:

You can find collagen in many different forms – in pills or powders. Hydrolyzed collagen supplements that are in the powder form do not gel, so you can add them to anything.

You can add your collagen powder to smoothies, tea, coffee, or even soups without worrying about the texture changing.

Before purchasing a supplement, do you research! You want a high quality hydrolyzed collagen supplement.

If you choose to supplement with hydrolyzed collagen, make sure you look for the three amino acids – proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine. You can also find marine collagen as well.

Questions? Post them in the comments section below!

Low-Carb Diet: Does It Help You Lose Weight?

low carb diet

Low-carb diets are all the rage right now and have been for quite a while. The ultimate question most people have is if following a low-carb diet can help you with your weight loss goals?

To fully understand how weight loss happens when you follow a low-carb diet, you need to know what carbs are and what they do in your body.

TYPES OF CARBOHYDRATES

There are three forms of carbohydrates: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are both called “simple sugars.” Polysaccharides are made up of large amounts of monosaccharides.

There are three types of monosaccharides:

  • Glucose – This is the most important carbohydrate for fueling your body!
  • Galactose – This is typically found with disaccharides in milk!
  • Fructose – This monosaccharide is sweeter than glucose and found in fruit and vegetables.

There are three types of disaccharides:

  • Maltose – This has two glucose molecules!
  • Sucrose – This is made of glucose and fructose molecules! This is table sugar.
  • Lactose – This is made of glucose and galactose molecules! This is found in cow’s milk.

THE ROLE OF CARBS IN YOUR BODY

Carbohydrates, known as carbs, are responsible for supplying your body with glucose for energy. The most important role that glucose has is providing energy to your brain and nervous system.

Glucose is stored in your body as glycogen, which is what helps provide energy to your body when you don’t eat enough carbs.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EAT A LOW-CARB DIET?

Even when you follow a low-carb diet, your body has get glucose somehow. The first step is using the glucose stored in your body as glycogen. When you are not eating a lot of carbs, your body will use protein to create glucose.

This means that your muscle will be broken down to create an energy source! A side effect of using protein for energy is ketone bodies being released into your blood.

The production of ketones occurs during starvation and when you are eating a diet low in carbohydrates. After about three days, your brain will adapt to using ketones as an energy source in addition to your heart and muscles.

DO CARBS MAKE YOU FAT?

The simple answer to this would be no, carbs do not make you fat. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. To put this in perspective, fat is 9 calories per gram. It’s not eating carbs that “make you fat,” but eating large amounts of the wrong types of carbs can cause issues with your weight loss goals.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A NORMAL DIET VS LOW-CARB

The recommended amount of carbs for a normal diet is 45-65% of your calories. For a 2000 calorie diet, this means 225-325 grams of carbs. This means eating more whole grains, fruit, milk, and beans.

While there are no specific guidelines for a low-carb diet, any diet that has less than 225 grams of carbs is a low carb diet. A very-low carb diet is one that has 130 grams of carbs per day.

WEIGHT LOSS WITH LOW-CARB DIETS

This is the part you’ve been waiting for, right? Does following a low-carb diet help with weight loss? What causes you to actually lose weight when you follow a low-carb diet? Is it because carbs cause weight gain and all the problems you have been having?

No! The thing that you don’t want to hear is that when you follow a low-carb diet, you are losing those glycogen stores in your body, which is also held with A LOT of water! When your body starts using those stores because you are following a low-carb diet, you are losing a lot of water weight and muscle.

The ketones you are producing, causes you to lose MORE WATER WEIGHT because they are removed with urine. Now, if you do follow a low-carb diet long-term, you will more-than-likely keep losing weight because you have cut your calories.

Diets that are high in protein also cause you to feel fuller longer, so you won’t be as hungry, which means you’ll be eating less. A low-carb diet has shown to be effective with weight loss and lowering your blood pressure.

SIDE EFFECTS OF A LOW-CARB DIET

As with any diet, you may experience some side effects. Low-carb diets have been associated with the following side effects. For people following a very-low carb diet (keto), these side effects may be worse.

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Odd-smelling breath

While low-carb diets can help you with your weight loss goals, they do come with some side effects.

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Fruit Salsa

Fruit salsa and cinnamon chips

This fruit salsa recipe is so easy to make and healthy for you too! Serve this with homemade cinnamon chips and it’s sure to be your favorite way to eat fruit!

This fruit salsa recipe is so easy to make! It takes 15 minutes total from cutting your fresh fruit to making the homemade cinnamon chips. This fruit salsa uses fresh blueberries, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries with apricot preserves for a delicious appetizer or dessert!

If you are tired of eating fruit by itself and not having variety, this is the perfect recipe for you!

INGREDIENTS – FRUIT SALSA

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup kiwi
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp Apricot Preserves

MAKING FRUIT SALSA

  1. Cut the blueberries in half.
  2. Cut the raspberries and blackberries into quarters.
  3. Dice the strawberries and kiwi.
  4. Once all of the fruit has been cut, simply add it to a bowl and mix in the apricot preserves. Your fruit salsa is done!

INGREDIENTS – CINNAMON CHIPS

  • 4 – 6″ whole wheat tortilla chips
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Swerve sweetener
  • Olive Oil Spray

MAKING THE CINNAMON CHIPS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Take the tortillas and sprinkle the ground cinnamon and Swerve sweetener evenly on both sides of the tortillas.
  4. Use a pizza cutter and slice each tortilla in half. Then slice each half into half again. Slice each piece on more time to make 8 tortilla chips from each tortilla.
  5. Place tortillas on the parchment paper and spray with olive oil spray.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Serve with fruit salsa and enjoy!

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Gentilly Cake Parfait

This recipe for Gentilly Cake Parfait is so easy to make and a low calorie version of your favorite dessert with the same flavor!

Gentilly Cake Parfait

GENTILLY CAKE

If you are from South Louisiana, then I’m sure you’ve heard of a Gentilly cake. It’s loaded with lots of fresh fruit, light and airy cake, and this delicious cream cheese icing.

Whole Foods has a very similar cake called the Chantilly Cake. It’s equally as delicious. While having all of those delicious berries in these cakes is better for you than not having them, Gentilly and Chantilly cakes have a lot of calories from the icing and the three layers of cake.

mixed berries

HOW THIS DELICIOUS GENTILLY CAKE PARFAIT IS HEALTHIER

So I’ve already said that the icing has lot of calories and so does the cake. This recipe uses whipped vanilla cake flavored yogurt and only 1/2 cup of cake in each jar. The yogurt is only 100 calories in each container.

Each jar of Gentilly cake parfait has 1 cup of yogurt, 1 cup of mixed berries, and 1/2 cup of cubed angel food cake.

The yogurt needs to be this specific flavor of Whipped Vanilla Cupcake Yogurt because the icing in a Gentilly cake is very light.

HOW TO MAKE THIS CHEAPER

Alright, all of these berries can start to get expensive when they aren’t in season and you can’t find them on sale. I’m sure you know just how expensive fresh fruit can run when you go in the middle of December to buy them.

Gentilly cake parfait

Right now we are in Spring, which means that all of the berries are in season and cheaper than normal! Strawberries are generally the cheapest out of all the other berries, but you can find great deals at your grocery stores and find fruit on sale for cheap! I found Louisiana strawberries on sale for $2.99 and blackberries on sale for 2/$3!

If you can’t afford all of the berries in this recipe, you can use just strawberries to make it cheaper!

Gentilly cake parfait

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box angel food cake
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 4 containers Vanilla Cupcake yogurt
  • Mason Jars

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make the angel food cake according to package instructions.
  2. Let the angel food cake cool and cube the cake.
  3. Layer 1/4 cup of cubed angel food cake, then 1/2 cup of yogurt, and 1/2 cup of mixed berries in a mason jar.
  4. Repeat the layering and cover with the lid.
  5. Store in fridge and enjoy!

Air Fryer Crispy Fried Chicken Legs

air fried crispy fried chicken legs

These easy to make air fried chicken legs are so crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, you will question if it wasn’t really fried!

Ya’ll, I love fried chicken, especially Popeye’s fried chicken. I don’t think you can be from South Louisiana and not dream of their fried chicken legs. You know what I don’t dream of? The sheer amount of fat and calories in those same chicken legs.

My favorite part of any fried chicken – the skin. Mmmm. Fried chicken skin. It’s drool-worthy in my opinion. As much as I dream about having that same fried chicken, I never go get it. It’s just not worth it.

This is why having an air fryer comes in handy. My recipe for air fryer crispy fried chicken legs will have you questioning if you didn’t actually fry chicken. In only 23 minutes, you’ll have this delicious dinner done for you and your family!

BUT I DON’T HAVE AN AIR FRYER

While some of you may have an air fryer, a lot of you may not. I actually only got mine a few months ago. While I love having my air fryer, it is not necessary to have this piece of equipment to make this recipe for air fried chicken legs.

Before I had an air fryer, I had to use my oven to “fry” everything. The only issue I ever had was that big pieces of chicken take longer to cook to be done and turn out as crispy.

You can definitely use your oven to “fry” these delicious and crispy chicken legs or use your air fryer if you have one!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs of chicken legs
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp No salt Tony’s (for batter)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp No salt Tony’s (for flour mixture)
  • Olive Oil Spray

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat the 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk and 1 tsp of No salt Tony’s together in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and 1 Tbsp No Salt Tony’s together until thoroughly combined.
  3. Dip each chicken leg first into the flour mixture, then into the egg batter, and then finally back into the flour mixture.
  4. Shake off any extra flour.
  5. Spray with olive oil spray until flour is coated with the spray.
  6. Put the chicken legs into the air fryer and bake at 390 degrees F for 23 minutes. Flip the chicken halfway through.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

hot spinach and artichoke dip

This hot spinach and artichoke dip is not only delicious, but it is also healthy for you too! This dip is packed with spinach, artichokes, and low fat cheese!

Healthy spinach and artichoke dip

Ya’ll, I love spinach and artichoke dip, especially a steaming hot bowl of spinach and artichoke dip. When I go out to a restaurant, it is my appetizer of choice. I could literally eat the entire thing by myself as a meal.

hot spinach artichoke dip

The issue with most hot spinach and artichoke recipes is that they are high in calories and high in fat. You’d think that because it has a lot of spinach and artichokes that it wouldn’t be so bad for you!

If you go look at the nutrition facts of most restaurant’s spinach and artichoke dip recipes, you’d see just how many calories are in it!

This recipe for a hot spinach and artichoke dip is not only delicious, but it is low in fat and low in calories! At 230 calories per serving, this is sure to be your go-to hot spinach and artichoke dip recipe!

MAKING THE HOT SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP

hot spinach artichoke dip

All you need to make this recipe is:

  • 8 oz fat free cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 1/2 cup Fage 0% fat yogurt
  • 1 cup low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar (6 oz) artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp no salt Tony’s
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

You need to make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature so it will mix evenly with the other ingredients.

You also need to defrost your frozen spinach and strain all the excess water out so that your hot spinach and artichoke dip is not too watery.

Mix all of the ingredients, except for the paprika, together in a bowl and then add to an oven safe bowl. Top with the paprika

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes.

MAKING THE HOMEMADE AIR FRIED PITA BREAD CHIPS

homemade pita bread chips

While your hot spinach and artichoke dip is baking, we are going to make homemade pita bread chips!

All you need for to make your homemade pita bread chips is 1 bag of whole wheat pita bread, olive oil cooking spray, and some salt.

I used an air fryer to make my homemade pita bread chips, but you can also bake them in the oven if you do not have an air fryer.

Instructions for homemade pita bread chips:

  • Take each whole wheat pita bread and evenly cut into 8 pieces. I used a pizza cutter for this!
  • Place in the air fryer and quickly spray with olive oil spray.
  • Lightly sprinkle salt on top.
  • Air fry at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes or until crispy.
  • Serve with hot spinach and artichoke dip

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