Tips for Healthy Snacking

Your little ones love sugary cookies, while you just can’t resist a savory snack every now and then. If you’re looking for healthier snacks for the whole family that still tasty and satisfying, these tips from the NIH can help you find them.

  • Create healthier versions of your favorite snacks. Instead of your usual cheese and crackers, substitute low-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers. Instead of buttery, salty movie theater popcorn, make some fat-free or low-fat popcorn.
  • Make healthier dessert choices. Instead of your usual homemade milkshake, blend a banana, ice and low-fat chocolate milk for a chocolate smoothie that’s still delicious.
  • Choose smarter condiments. Sauces and other toppings can add fat and empty calories to an otherwise healthy snack. Instead of cheese, choose salsa, and instead of regular ranch dressing opt for a fat-free variety.

For more healthy snacking tips, visit the NIH website.

Keep Track of the Foods You Eat with The USDA SuperTracker

Beginning dieters always start off with the best intentions, but it can be difficult to stay on track with your meal plan when you’re unsure of what to eat. The USDA website’s SuperTracker tool allows you to create a personalized nutrition plan, keep track of the foods you eat, and even get tips for making healthier choices in the future.

Look Up Nutrition Facts with the Food-A-Pedia
This helpful tool allows you to search for a food that you’re planning on eating from categories like vegetables, pasta and rice, and desserts, and it will tell you the number of calories, saturated fats, added sugars, and more.

Track the Foods You Eat
Keeping track of the foods you eat throughout the day keeps you honest and ensures that you don’t overdo it in one food group and miss out on another. With graphs, daily limits, and food group targets, this tool does all the work to analyze your foods so all you have to do is eat.

Track Your Activity
The amount of exercise you get is just as important as the foods you eat, and this part of the SuperTracker compares your physical activity to the foods you’ve eaten. You may be nearing your calorie limit for the day, but that hour of cardio can cut your calories down to size.

If you want to lose a few pounds but you’re nervous about the process, the SuperTracker will make things easy, convenient, and personalized just for you.

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What To Do First: Stretching or Exercise?

By now, we all know that that stretching is an essential part of our fitness regimen. But one thing that's not clear is whether to stretch before or after your workout. Many people disagree about when it's best to stretch, so check out the info below that will help you make up your mind.

There is a common belief that stretching before exercise helps reduce the risk of injury, but this statement has never been proven to be true. In general, it's believed that it's best to perform dynamic stretching, such as high kicks and arm circles, before your workout. Then post-workout, you should work into some static stretching—forward bends, hamstring stretches, quad openers, and the like—should be performed after your workout for best results. Remember to hold static stretches for 30 seconds, and don't hold your breath while you stretch. Instead, breathe deeply and feed your muscles with oxygen.

No Meat Required: Five Hearty Vegetarian Dinners

There’s a stereotype towards vegetarian food that holds that it can’t be filling. In truth, meat-free dinners can be just as hearty as carnivorous ones, and these five recipes will have everybody eating their fill at the table:

  • Make a tarragon-based pesto with pine nuts for a zesty, unique flavor. Steam a mixture of sliced asparagus, green beans, and zucchini cut into batons and serve with the pesto – it’s a low-carb pasta substitute that packs a huge nutritional payload and will fill you up fast.
  • Instead of using wheat-based pasta for your lasagna, get a large squash and cut it thinly into sheets instead. They will bake to perfection in the lasagna pan and provide significantly more nutrients to the meal.
  • Tofu gets a bum rap among meat-eaters, but it can actually be quite delicious. Quickly pan-fry cubes of tofu and serve with a sweet and sour sauce made from pineapple, sugar, cornstarch, and vinegar over steamed brown rice. Brown rice is inexpensive and very filling.
  • Throw out the flavor packets from your ramen and serve it in a broth made from vegetarian “No-Chicken” stock cooked with lots of ginger and garlic, sweet potatoes, kale, and edamame soybeans.
  • A surprisingly tasty alternative to the traditional meatloaf is to substitute steamed lentils instead – as it bakes in the oven, they will take on a delicious, crispy consistency that will satisfy even the hungriest eater.

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