Category Archives: Thursday Tips

Eat by Stars: Five Examples

On Tuesday I broke down my simply system for rating what foods are healthy.  Starting next week you’ll see one food ranked per day at the end of each post.  Here are five examples of what you’ll see.

Organic Spinach

Per 3 cups raw: calories 10, fat 0g, carbs 7g (0g sugar), protein 2g             

I’ve already waxed poetic about my love of spinach.  Chock full of vitamins, easy to prep, and tasty. I may consider it the perfect food.  Non-organic status knocks this powerhouse down to a  3 star.

Organic Peaches

Per 1 large: calories 68, fat 0.4g, carbs 16g (14g sugar), protein 1.6 g

Because of high sugar content I generally rank fruits 4 stars.  Please do not take this as a negative.  Four star foods can and should be eaten with daily regularity. And peaches are vastly superior to candy for your sweet tooth.  Like spinach, organic for peaches is a must.      


Per 2 slices: calories 80, fat 6g, carbs 0g, protein 5g, (290mg salt-12%DV)

Yup, bacon is a solid food choice.  Especially if you nuke it on a paper towel to absorb the fat.  Bacon adds tons of flavor and is relatively low in calories.  Plus, it’s minimally processed.  The salt content is a definite drawback.  Organic status doesn’t change this delightful food’s rank. 

Soft Tacos (flour shell)

Per 1 taco with beef, cheese, and lettuce: calories 257, fat 11.6g, carbs 23.6g (sugars 16g), protein 13.5g

I’m talking here about run of the mill, Ortega night, ground beef, make-at-home tacos.  There are obviously steps you can take to make this food healthier, which I’ll discuss later.  But, the refined flour tortilla sinks this meat boat.  Eat as a cheat meal.

Doritos (any flavor)

Per 1 Big Grab (2 ¼ oz): calories 310, fat 17g, carbs 37g (sugars 34g), protein 4g

It’s a shame, really.  I love Doritos.  But it’s mass produced junk food, pure and simple.  Little nutrition value means these guys are for the rare treat, not regular snacking.

For more in depth info click “Nutritional Info” link on right

Why Do You Exercise? Here’s My Top 5 Reasons

These may differ for you, but in descending order of importance, here’s why I work out.  Are yours terribly different?  Did I omit a biggie?  Is the order all wrong?  Let me know what you think!

  1. To Relieve Stress.  Life can get pretty stressful.  NOTHING comes close to the stress relief exercise brings.  I find there is no better way to turn off the cell phone beeping, horn honking, alarm ringing, baby crying, news channel yelling noise than a workout to my favorite tunes.
  2. To prepare my body for an active lifestyle.  I love being active.  Playing sports, running races, walking around town, doing housework.  Regular exercise keeps my body ready to move.  The energy boost from exercise is a huge bonus.
  3. To boost my confidence.  Overcoming obstacles in your exercise regimen is the easiest way to feel a sense of accomplishment.  Confidence gained from being able to run farther, lift more, or go faster will translate to other parts of your life.
  4. To burn calories.  The best way to maintain your weight is through diet, but a consistent exercise regimen keeps your body’s calorie-burning fires stoked.
  5. To look good naked.  A fashion designer once said “Don’t worry about what you look like naked, once you get to that point it doesn’t matter”.  Probably true, but studies show those who are the most comfortable with their bodies enjoy better sex.  Now THAT’s a reason to hit the gym.

I apologize I can’t remember the designer who I quoted in #5.  If anyone knows, please pass it along!

Nap Length: Helpful and Hurtful

Proper sleep habits are such an important part of being healthy.  Not enough sleep undermines our attempts at staying healthy.  Lots of folks compensate from missed sleep by taking an afternoon nap.  But how helpful is napping?

While reading my new issue of Men’s Health recently I happened across an article on healthful sleep.  A sidebar on nap length caught my eye.  I found it so informative, and know some regular nappers, ( cough, my wife), I had to pass it along.  I’ve directly copied it below.

10 Minutes: A Quick Fix.  Napping for 10 minutes immediately wards off fatigue and boosts brainpower for at least 2 ½ hours, and Australian study found.  A 5-minute nap? No help.

20 Minutes: Delayed Benefits.  Doubling down will improve your reaction time and performance on alphanumeric tasks.  But not right away-it takes at least 35 minutes to shake off the post-nap mental fog from “taking 20”.

30 Minutes: A Healthy Boost.  You’ll feel drowsy for about 5 minutes afterward, but then more alert and mentally fit for 90 minutes. Still, a 10-minute nap is better; you avoid the hangover effect of a deeper sleep.

45-90 Minutes: No Help.  During a 45-90 minute nap, you drift into deep sleep without completing a full sleep cycle.  “You’ll often feel worse after you wake up than before,” says sleep expert Christopher Winter, M.D.

90-110 Minutes: Signs of Trouble.  The average person’s sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes, the ideal duration for a longer snooze.  But habitual long napping may be a sign of a sleep disorder, Dr Winter says.

-Laura Roberson

Source: Men’s Health Magazine. May 2011. p 100.  

How to Ruin a Salad #1 (And how to fix it)

When you think salad, you probably think healthy.  Generally, salads ARE healthier than say, a burger and fries.  But we do things to salads that ruin the healthy status of our field of greens.  Lots of things. 

Well cover them one at a time, lest we get over whelmed.  Since they’re all bad, we’ll go in no particular order.   

The first way to ruin a salad: croutons.

They’re pretty good, aren’t they?  They add crunch to a salad.  Who doesn’t like crunch?  Sorry to say, though, these little guys are just refined, white bread baked until crunchy.

Refined white bread = Not so healthy.

A standard serving of croutons adds 180 calories (about 8-10% of your daily amount) to your salad.  Lots of those refined carbs in there too.  No matter how I could try to spin it, these little buggers aren’t good for you.  Well, compared to fries maybe, but you don’t put fries on a salad.  Please tell me you don’t put fries on a salad….

Fix It!

Nuts are a great alternative to keep the crunch in your salad and up the flavor and nutritional content.  At first the idea of nuts on a salad may seem strange, until you try it.  Salad still crunchy (check), more flavorful (check), and a boost of nutrients and heart healthy fats (check, check).  They’re also lower in calories (one tablespoon=40 calories).


I’d recommend starting with almonds. They go quite naturally with most any salad. These days they sell flavored sliced almonds in grocery stores called “Almond Accents”.  On the bag they’re pictured in a salad.  Pretty straightforward, methinks.

You can also try cashews, pecans, or, for an asian flair, peanuts.  Try it this week or next and tell me what you think!