Category Archives: Nutrition

Healthy Vegetarian Protein Sources

The amount of quality protein that you consume is a key component to any healthy eating plan. In fact, Dr. Halton at the Harvard Medical School states that “Convincing evidence exists that protein exerts an increased thermic effect [calorie burning] effect when compared to fat and carbohydrate.” Protein helps you feel fuller for longer and on much fewer calories since the process of breaking down protein for energy alone burns calories! It also helps your muscles repair and recover, so if you are looking for ways to improve your body composition then increasing your protein consumption might be helpful.

Whether you’re a vegetarian looking to incorporate more protein into your diet, trying to practice ‘Meatless Mondays,’ or simply can’t find your normal protein sources on grocery stores shelves currently – incentaHEALTH is here to help!

Dairy Options

Eggs are a great and inexpensive option with 6 grams of protein per whole egg and almost 4 grams of protein in the egg white alone! Try adding a little egg white or a whole egg to any meal for a protein boost. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are two more fabulous options. Greek yogurt is a nutrient dense powerhouse, with 15- 20 grams per 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt and less than 10 grams of sugar. Then you have cottage cheese bringing in about 15 grams per ½ cup serving– think of the delicious snacks you can create!

eggs-in-bowl-sm

 

Nuts and Seeds

Depending on the type, nuts have about 3 to 7 grams of protein per 1/3-cup serving. If you need a mid-day boost then follow the incentaHEALTH meal plans and pair a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit for a quick, energized snack on the go. Seeds are also a great choice, highlighting pumpkin seeds with about 7 grams and hemp seeds with 6 grams per 1 oz serving.

Finally, my personal favorite indulgence, nut butters!  Two tablespoons of Peanut or Almond butter has about 7-8 grams protein. Here’s a little secret, pair your favorite nut butter with some plain low sugar Greek yogurt (Fage or Chobani) for a sweet and healthy snack.

nuts_seeds_variety_sm

 

Vegetables and Legumes

We recommend at every meal you fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables because the amount of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that you are consuming will help turn your body into a fat burning machine! Broccoli has it all and then some more– with 2.6 grams of fiber per half cup. It’s also a great source of protein with about 4 grams per cup. Peas have about 10 grams of protein per cup and edamame has a whopping 17 grams of protein per cup with under 200 calories!

If you are looking to add some flavor to your vegetables, then hummus would be a dazzling option providing a little over 1 gram per tablespoon.  To put it into perspective, that’s about 20 grams per cup! However, hummus is a healthy fat meaning it is calorie dense so we aren’t recommending using a full cup with your veggies.

Depending on the type, beans offer about 12-14 grams per cup of protein and lentils have an impressive 18 grams of protein per cup with only about 230 calories.

organic-orange-lentils-texture-1146967

 

Other Protein Options

I have to mention a few more meatless superstars before closing the red curtain and please feel free to comment below on any key players I didn’t highlight. Quinoa, often mistaken for a grain which makes it a great replacement, has about 9 grams per cup of protein. Seitan, also known as wheat meat, has about 21 grams per 3 oz serving and only about 120 calories. Tempeh, similar to a vegetarian burger patty, has an astonishing 31 grams of protein per cup.  Finally, we can’t forget tofu weighing in at about 10 grams per ½ cup serving. Protein powders, such as whey and casein, are also a great way to replenish the muscles after a workout and can be a great option for vegetarians.

Our program has vegetarian meal options as well. To switch to vegetarian or gluten-free meal ideas, simply update your ‘Program Settings’ under ‘Manage Profile’ or under ‘Settings’ in our app. Also, feel free to use these suggestions or alter any of the other meals with your preferred source of protein.

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10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas to Start Your Day

We all know that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day” but why? Not only does consuming a healthy breakfast give you energy to start your day, but breakfast is also linked to many other health benefits including: improved performance and concentration, lower cholesterol levels, more strength and endurance throughout the day, and even more success in weight loss!

Many studies suggest that those who consume a healthy breakfast each day tend to weigh less than those who skip breakfast. Why is this? One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast can reduce hunger throughout the day. For the breakfast skippers, usually they will find that they end up eating more food at later meals to compensate for their lack of calories early in the day. Another theory suggests that by starting your day out right with healthy decisions, this leads to other healthy decisions throughout the rest of the day. In order to get the most benefit out of your breakfast you are going to want to aim to fill your breakfast full of lean protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. So, what are some quick and easy, healthy breakfast ideas to get your day started right?

10 Healthy Ways to Start the Day

  1. Breakfast Parfait
    Mix you favorite fruit into unsweetened low fat or Greek yogurt and top with granola.
  2. Egg and Veggie Scramble
    Dice up some peppers, onions and spinach and scramble it together with two eggs. Top with your favorite salsa.
  3. Whole Grain Toast Topped with a Poached Egg
    Place the poached egg on top of a piece of whole grain toast and sprinkle with pepper.
  4. Berry Breakfast Wrap
    Combine peanut butter, sliced berries and a drizzle of honey in a whole wheat tortilla. Roll up and enjoy!
  5. Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
    Add chopped apples and a dash of cinnamon into cooked oatmeal. Let sit for a couple minutes to allow apples to soften and you’ve got your own healthy apple pie for breakfast!
  6. Breakfast Shake or Smoothie
    Combine 1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt, your favorite fruits and 1 cup of ice together in a blender. Add a handful of spinach for a “green smoothie!” You can also substitute the Greek yogurt with 1 cup of skim milk and a scoop of protein powder.
  7. Breakfast Burrito
    Cook your favorite lean meat, scramble 2 eggs, and chop up your choice of veggies. Add to a whole wheat tortilla and top with a light sprinkle of cheese and salsa. These burritos can also be frozen and reheated easily so feel free to make a bulk batch at the beginning of the week for an easy breakfast all week long!
  8. Whole Grain Toast with Peanut Butter and Bananas
    Spread peanut butter on a piece of whole grain toast (or waffle!) and top with sliced bananas. You can also experiment with a drizzle of honey or a dash of cinnamon for added flavor.
  9. Frozen Yogurt Breakfast Pop
    Great for a quick breakfast that’s ready to go in the morning. Combine unsweetened yogurt and sliced berries in a Popsicle mold the night before. In the morning, pop one out and enjoy!
  10. Ham and Egg Breakfast Cups
    Place a piece of sliced ham in a muffin tin. Fill with scrambled egg and add your choice of veggies. Top with a light sprinkle of cheese and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.

 

Woman buying at grocery store

Seclusion Sustenance

Walking through the grocery store these days can be frightening—barren shelves, shortages on a number of foods (unless you’re vegan—judging from the full stock of vegan products, they seem to be the only ones not in panic mode), and people fighting over Eggo Waffles. True story.

Our world became a different place almost overnight.

But don’t fret. Meal-prep during the quarantine doesn’t have to be canned beans and chili cooked over a camp stove. While it may take a little more creativity and preparation in the grocery store, it is still possible to eat healthy, nutritious meals while locked in the house for the untold future. And it’s more important than ever because a balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole grains is key for a strong immune system!

At the Store

Before going to the store, let go of expectations. As mentioned, there are empty shelves, and they may just be out of your favorite brand of milk. Now is not the time to yell at the stockers for something beyond their control. Breathe and be flexible.

Besides stocking up, the goal is not to hoard, but to minimize the trips you’ll need to take outside your home. Look into non-perishables like shelf-stable milks (they’ve come a long way since the 50s), bulk whole grains like couscous, farro, oats and buckwheat, frozen fruits, vegetables and seafood, nuts (get them in bulk and make your own nut butter), and maybe some pantry basics like pasta sauces, canned tomatoes, soups, tuna, oils and cereals. Long-life fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, cabbage, citrus fruits (for extra immunity), apples, bananas, avocados, tomatoes and carrots are great additions to the cart.

Avoid the sugary and over-salted snacks, but feel free to throw in some healthy options like popcorn kernels, dried fruits, dark chocolate, string cheese and applesauce.

With these in hand, you’ll be all set to survive the zombie apocalypse AND the Covid Quarantine.

At Home

First, wash your hands—seriously. Take the time to scrub your hands and clean off any jars/cans and fruits and vegetables. Do this first, and not only will you ensure you are protecting yourself and your loved ones, but your produce will last a lot longer.

Next, if you haven’t come up with a menu, take the time to write down your meals for the coming weeks. Invite the kids in on the process! They’ll love helping create the menu and will definitely love being a part of the cooking process. You aren’t the only one trapped at home—bringing the whole family into the meal prep creates a boredom-fighting activity that can be a pleasant distraction. And, it will ensure you don’t waste hours cooking something the rest of the family doesn’t want to eat. This is also a great opportunity to teach your kids about nutrition and healthy meals.

Once your menu is in place, it may make sense to go ahead and start cooking—a little prep in the beginning can go a long way during the days you are battling to keep your head above water with taking care of the kids, trying to work from home and keep your house clean. Carve out some time and make some large-pot meals, or meals that keep well: chili (not the canned variety), soups, lasagna, roasted vegetables, egg salad or tuna salad for lunches, the fixings for stuffed sweet potatoes—you name it. This activity is also something that can really help even when the quarantine is lifted and you are still trying to balance all the ‘things.’

When Boredom Strikes

Remember those popcorn kernels? Make cooking fun! Show the kids how to pop popcorn on the stovetop. Use this time to teach them to bake cookies. Let them dye the eggs you’ll use to make the egg salad. Be creative and remember to include the family.

And keep an eye on what goes into your mouth, too. Boredom often leads to snacking. Instead, make a list of fun activities, or even things that need to be done around the house (laundry, anyone?) Put the list on the fridge or the pantry—wherever you find yourself going more often than other places. Reach for the list instead of for the food.

Quarantine doesn’t have to be about gaining weight as you shove a bag of chips into your mouth. Boredom is the enemy of healthy eating so it is essential to not only not have the unhealthy foods in the house (remember that shopping trip? That’s the time to NOT pick up the sweet treats), but to make sure you have healthy options ready to go so you reach for the carrots instead of the brownies.

That being said, everything in moderation—even moderation. If you taught the kids how to make cookies, it’s ok to eat the cookies. Unless they used 1/4c of salt instead of 1/4tsp…been there. Don’t recommend.

Breathe through it. Let go of expectations. Plan and prep, and you’ll be good to go.

For a metabolism boost, try this spiced cabbage soup with lentils and sweet potatoes.

Is there such a thing as a ‘healthy Halloween’?

pumpkin

When you think of Halloween I doubt the  word ‘health’ comes to mind. I think of candy-corn, gummies, and the over-the-top neighbors that pass out king size candy bars. To my surprise there is a way to still have a good time but not completely derail your progress.


  1. 1. Eat before pulling out the candy dish.
    1. Whether you are heading out for trick-or-treating or are in charge of passing out candy, make sure to eat a substantial meal before the candy makes its way out. Our family tradition is Halloween homemade chili. It is a quick and healthy meal that is great for a chilly October night, even with doorbell interruptions (See the recipe here)
  2. 2. Don’t over buy or early buy the candy.
    1. Set yourself up for success by not getting too much candy or tempting yourself by keeping it in the house for too long before the 31st. If you still have a lot of leftover goodies and the trick-or-treaters are beginning to dwindle, be generous! Increase that one/two piece ratio to a handful. The kids will love it and you won’t be stuck with the Snickers.
  3. 3. Trick-or-treat with your kids, if you don’t have kids (or they are too cool for you) walk around to see the costumes and fall leaves.
    1. Trick-or-treaters can cover some serious ground. Throw on your tracking device and try to get a couple thousand steps in. You can even make this a competition among your family to see who can get the most steps.
  4. 4. Treat yourself!
    1. It is a holiday so don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick out two of your favorite candies (snack size) and don’t feel guilty letting yourself indulge.
  5. 5. Keep your water bottle close.
    1. Water intake is a great way to keep your sweet tooth at bay. Make a game of it; every time someone says, “trick-or-treat,” or “happy Halloween,” take a swig.

I would love to hear some tips and tricks you have used in the past or are planning to implement this year to have a “Happy Healthy Halloween!”

How to Avoid Added Sugar

Sugar has been getting a lot of negative attention in the media over the last few years. That’s because not only is it one of the main causes of our countries obesity epidemic, but it also can cause a lot of preventable diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and cavities just to name a few. Cutting sugar out completely can seem impossible but here are some simple things to look for to avoid consuming more added sugars.

Read the Labels: There are products that you know sugar is already in such as fruit juice, sweetened cereals and candy. The problem is, sugar is hidden in a lot of foods we typically wouldn’t expect. Everything from tomato sauce, to ketchup, to granola bars and even some spices contain sugar. Make sure to read the label fully and look for the amount of sugar per serving size. Ideally, you should aim for sugar to be no more than 48 grams. There are about 56 grams of sugar in a bottle of Gatorade… just to emphasize the importance of reading the labels first before consuming.

Buy Fresh Foods over Canned: It is recommended by the USDA food guidelines to aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and a colorful assortment of them. Although fruit does have sugar in it, these are natural sugars and not artificially added sugars like the ones we find in our foods. Canned foods, especially fruits, are swimming in syrupy sugar water in order to preserve their freshness and shelf life. Always choose fresh over canned and just shop for the amount of fresh produce that you’re actually going to eat that week, since it will go bad faster than the canned versions.

Try Healthy Substitutions: There are a number of baking substitutions you can use to reduce your sugar intake. Applesauce is a great natural sweetener to use in place of large amounts of sugar. You can also use extracts to bring sweetness to baked goods and cinnamon and nutmeg that can cut down on the added sugars in a dish. When you bake at home, you can even cut the sugar called in recipes down and not notice the difference in taste.

Make Your Own Food: The best way to make sure you don’t consume any extra sugars is to cook your own food at home. You get to choose the ingredients, you know exactly how much sugar does/doesn’t go into a recipe, and you can control your portion sizes. This is a great way to take control of your health and really give your family the best possible food and nutrition. If you need some inspiration on less sugar dishes, check out some of the healthy recipes below.

http://www.thelittleepicurean.com/2015/02/avocado-kale-smoothie.html?crlt.pid=camp.fBbHcF49nUqK

http://www.joyfulhealthyeats.com/cilantro-lime-chicken-with-avocado-salsa/

http://fitandhealthywithdebbie.blogspot.com/2012/10/banana-oatmeal-breakfast-muffins.html?m=1#.WNvQuvnytPZ

Healthy Memorial Day Tips & Tricks

Are you ready for the three-day weekend that marks the beginning of summer?  Whether you’re planning on gardening, playing a game outside or getting your grill on, here’s some healthy advice to making your Memorial Day the best for your healthy and active lifestyle!

Grill Without the Guilt

Add some more fruits and vegetables to the grill to get more antioxidants out of your typical barbeque meal. Try grilling zucchini, onions, bell peppers, pears and pineapples to add some unique and healthy flavors to your plain old burgers.

Choose leaner cuts of meat for grilling. Make sure excess fat is trimmed to reduce the amount of fat dripping onto the grill. Choose meats like skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey instead of ground beef, or even fresh fish

Marinade, marinade, marinade! This gives flavor to leaner cuts of meat without adding more fat. Choose healthier marinating options like the use of less sodium sauces, vinegars, or even fresh citrus juices like lemons, limes and oranges.

Get Active While Soakin’ Up Some Sun

Memorial Day weekend typically marks the opening of pools and water parks to help deal with the long and hot weather days. Take the time to go for a swim or even play around at a water park to increase your vitamin D intake.

Avoid the holiday weekend traffic by going for a bike ride instead. If avoiding the driving traffic is an option, try going for a walk or a bike ride somewhere instead of sitting in the hot car if at all possible. With bike riding becoming more and more popular,  bicycle friendly states are starting to help bikers out a bit when it comes to safety with improved road conditions and more signage for cars to share the road.

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Make the most out of the weekend by enjoying time together with friends and family. Whether it’s playing backyard games together, walking around at a festival or just enjoying the beautiful spring scenery, enjoy the time spent with each other and don’t make food the main focus of this special weekend.

Written by: Rachel Corcoran, Weigh and Win Health Coach

Staying Healthy at a Baseball Game

healthy at a baseball game

Happy Opening Day! In addition to the fresh air, cheering, and the excitement of the game – ballpark food and beer are a part of the experience. Just because you’re at a game doesn’t mean you have to toss your healthy habits aside nor does it mean you have to deny yourself a treat. Here are a few ways to make your next game a healthier experience.

  • Avoid the Nachos
    You’re looking at more than 1,200 plus calories! If it’s your favorite item, try sharing the order with a group of friends.
  • Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
    Buttery popcorn isn’t your best option.  Go for a box of Cracker Jacks, which has only about 120 calories compared to over 1,000 for popcorn.
  • Swap the Burger for Chicken
    Once you add the cheese and toppings, the calorie-count can sky-rocket. Opt for a leaner protein and eat the grilled chicken sandwich instead.
  • A Healthier Dog
    It’s the toppings that are a nutrition killer. I’m looking at you Bacon and Blue Dogs. Select a regular size hot dog and toppings like relish and onions. Ketchup can be high in sugar, so reach for the mustard instead.
  • Load Up On Vegetables
    There are plenty of vegetarian options throughout most baseball stadiums like wraps, sandwiches, salads, and veggie dogs and burgers.  Check out places that have a make your own salad option. Remember to skip the cheese and select a non-creamy dressing.
  • Limit Your Beverage Intake
    Whether it is beer or soda, try to limit yourself to only one or two beverages.
  • Pack a Lunch
    Did you know that most stadiums allow you to bring your own food? Pack a healthy picnic lunch or snack, plus bottles of water.


Add More Activity Into Your Game Day

  • Bike to the Game
    Avoid the parking hassle and burn extra calories by biking to the game. Utilize the bike lanes throughout the area if they are available and be prepared for the weather.
  • Take a Lap
    Don’t just walk to your seats, take a lap around the stadium in between innings.
  • 7thInning Stretch
    Avoid sitting the whole game and take your own 7th inning stretch by standing up, stretching and moving around. Walk up and down the stairs a few times to get some blood flowing to your legs.

Healthy Greens for St. Patrick’s Day

 

Are you ready to show your Irish pride on St. Patrick’s Day? What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland is now an all day festival celebrating Irish culture with extravagant parades and a whole lot of green. incentaHEALTH encourages you to continue to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with a whole lot of greens, but maybe a little less green beer and more green leafy veggies!

Leafy greens are one of the most hormonally healing foods in this world because they have the most nutrition per calorie, they keep you satisfied for longer, and the calories are much less likely to be stored as body fat. These foods are natural health boosting and fat burning medicines that you won’t need to purchase over the counter- unless it’s a grocery store counter!

Healthy-Greens-2Healthy Greens 1

Most nutrition per calorie

I hope we can all agree that 250 calories from Twinkies is not the same as 250 calories from Spinach. Calories are very different in foods when it comes to nutrition and keeping our body healthy long-term. The key is nutrition QUALITY. Quality is based on how much nutrition (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids) you get for the amount of calories you consume.

Keep you satisfied for longer

Leafy greens are packed with high amounts of water, fiber and protein. More water and fiber means bigger food, more stretch, and getting fuller and staying fuller for longer. That is why 200 calories of wet, fibrous celery is more filling then 200 calories of dry, fiber-free gummy bears. A calorie is not a calorie when it comes to filling us up and keeping us full throughout the day. For example, I bet a six-pack of green beer would make you want to grab a pizza later in the day.

Unaggressive in being stored as fat

Leafy greens produce a very small amount of glucose, which is the blood sugar released during digestion to bring energy to cells. Aggressive calories in certain starchy and sugary foods will cause too much insulin to be released. Body fat storage is triggered as a response to eating foods that causes more glucose in our blood stream then we need at one time.

Arugula, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Collards, Dandelion Greens, Kale, Leaf Amaranth, Leeks, Mixed greens, Mustard Greens, Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Turnip Greens…and the list goes on! Pick a few for dinner this week and celebrate good health and St. Patrick’s Day.


Written by:
Mallory McCormick,  Health Coach