Seven Foods to cheat your way to the Perfect Summer Body

Summer is the time of cookouts and BBQ’s, and there always seems to be big temptations in the food department staring us in the face. However, you can eat and enjoy the season while keeping a fit body. People will marvel at how you are always eating and still look fabulous. No need to tell them your secrets! Here are seven foods to cheat your way to the perfect summer body.

summer body diet

  1. Avocado: This dense fruit is amazingly good for you. Avocados are full of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids actually reduce belly fat, so keep a few on hand for a quick snack or make a homemade avocado spread to replace mayonnaise on your favorite sandwich.
  2. Greek yogurt: Substitute regular yogurt for Greek yogurt. They have less sugar and more protein as well as probiotics which help the digestive system. Add your own berries or other fruits and forgo the “fruited” versions which have more calories and sugar.
  3. Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a great summer time breakfast. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat breakfast don’t gain as much weight over time. Oatmeal is chock full of fiber and protein. Eating oatmeal for breakfast will help you feel full and satisfied.
  4. Eggs: Contrary to everything we have been told, eggs are not bad for you! Eggs are full of protein and help us build muscle and burn fat. In moderation, eggs can be a healthy part of your diet. If cholesterol is an issue, use mostly the whites and keep the yolk from only one egg.
  5. Leafy greens: Pack your salads and sandwiches with more leafy greens than anything else. Leafy greens are filling and full of antioxidants and vitamins. Use a spring mix for salads or mix your iceberg lettuce with spinach leaves to get the dark green veggies. Forgo the high calorie, sugary salad dressings and your salad becomes super healthy. A good substitute for salad dressing is red wine or balsamic vinegar with very little or no oil added.
  6. Berries: Berries are full of antioxidants that improve blood flow in the body which can make your work outs more efficient. Substituting just one snack that is high is carbs and sugar with berries can have tremendous health benefits. Yes, berries do have natural sugar, but they are much better for you than candy or chips! For a great summer snack, freeze a variety of fresh berries and bag them up for a refreshing, cool snack on the go.
  7. Nuts: Nuts are full of protein and good fats. They are a great mid-afternoon snack when you feel drained or a great addition to that leafy green salad above. Nuts will help you feel fuller, longer than a sugary snack. If you are trying to lose weight, reach for unsalted almonds or walnuts for optimal benefits.

These seven foods to cheat your way to the perfect summer body will help you stay on track with your fitness goals while letting you enjoy great summer snacks without guilt!

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The Ultimate Protein Smoothie Recipes

Oatmeal and eggs may be great breakfast foods, but there's no better way to start your day than a great protein-packed smoothie. It boosts energy, aids in critical thinking, and keeps you full until your lunch break. You can include fruits and vegetables in there to get your daily nutrients. Whether you're trying to build muscle or lose weight, protein is a great way to help you get in shape.

An ideal way to make a protein smoothie is to use fruits, vegetables, soy or almond milk, and a little scoop of protein powder if you want. You can get protein powder at your local grocery store or pharmacy. If you're not into using a powder, the smoothies themselves provide a good amount of protein from the soy and almond milk alone.

 

Sarah's Protein Smoothie

This is the ultimate breakfast protein smoothie. You're getting over ten grams of protein plus two servings of fruits and vegetables. You can also add in protein powder for a little extra boost; the soy milk and ice cubes keep it from getting that grainy texture. Blend and enjoy!

  • Toss a handful of spinach, two cups of soy milk, and a banana into the blender. Blend for a minute.
  • Add ice cubes to cool it down and put it on the "crush" setting for a minute. If you don't have an "ice crush" setting, just blend for an additional few minutes.
  • You can add protein powder in here for a little extra kick.

 

Blueberry and Kale Protein Smoothie

Blueberry

This combines the protein of almond milk plus the nutrients and antioxidants found in berries and kale.

  • Blend a cup of frozen blueberries, a cup of kale, and two cups of soy milk or almond milk.
  • Add two ice cubes if it's not cool enough, but the blueberries should cool it down pretty effectively.

 

Strawberry and Egg White Protein Smoothie

Egg whites are another great way to get more protein into your diet. If you don't have the time every morning to make an egg white omelet, you can always throw some egg whites into your smoothie.

  • Blend 2/3 cup egg whites, one and a half cups of strawberries, a cup of ice cubes, and a few teaspoons of mint or fresh basil.
  • If it's not sweet enough, you can always add organic honey or maybe even a little bit of brown sugar.

 

Greek Yogurt Protein Smoothie

We all know the benefits of Greek yogurt: it's a high-protein, low-fat food loaded with helpful probiotics for digestion. You can also use it in smoothies as a replacement for soy milk or almond milk.

  • Combine a cup and a half of Greek yogurt with two cups of fresh or frozen fruit. Blend on high.
  • Add ice cubes if you're using fresh fruit.

 

You can also customize these recipes for your taste to make the ultimate protein smoothies for you and your family. If blueberries are in season, you can substitute them for strawberries or another ingredient. It's fun to experiment with protein smoothies for a healthy breakfast.

 

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Morning Oatmeal Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffin Topped With Granola

If you’re a busy parent looking for a quick, nutritional and tasty morning snack that everyone will enjoy, consider these fantastic oatmeal muffins. Besides being a breeze to prepare, these tantalizing and filling muffins freeze well and thaw out quickly, so they are readily available whenever you need them.

Since this particular recipe yields 8 large or 16 small muffins, consider doubling this recipe to keep plenty on hand. If you don’t, you may regret it! You can make your muffins even more exciting by adding optional ingredients such as nuts and dried or fresh fruit. So say goodbye to expensive granola bars, donuts and other sugary breakfast foods that don’t give your children the energy they need, and show them you care with these fun and delicious treats. You’ll be glad you gave these morning oatmeal muffins a try.

Morning Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (this can also be made by adding 1 tablespoon vinegar to regular milk)
1 cup quick oats or old fashioned uncooked oats
¼ cup sugar
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
3 Tablespoons melted shortening
¾ cup raisins, cranberries or other dried fruit (optional)
¼ cup nuts, such as chopped pecans or sliced almonds (optional)
1 cup chopped fruit, such as apples or peaches (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease muffin tins or use parchment backing cups. Pour buttermilk over rolled oats and let stand a few minutes.

In the meantime, sift together the dry ingredients and add to the rolled oats mixture with the optional ingredients such as the raisins, nuts and/or other dried fruit.

Then add in the beaten egg, stirring lightly and fold into melted shortening.

Fill the greased muffin pans 2/3 full (or use paper liners) and put in the preheated oven for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the muffins. Top with additional chopped nuts, oats and/or fruit, if desired.

To save the leftover muffins for the week, you can store them in a sealed container on the countertop or in the refrigerator. To freeze, place them into separate freezer bags or containers, and keep in the freezer for up to three months. To thaw frozen muffins, just reheat each one individually for about 20 seconds in the microwave, or simply let them sit out overnight on the counter top or in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

Breakfast in Advance

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3 Breakfasts That Can Be Made Ahead of Time

Busy moms sometimes don't have time to prepare healthy breakfasts for their kids, or themselves. But you don't want to have to buy pre-made items from the store, either. There are meals you can make ahead of time that you can freeze or keep for a long time in the refrigerator.

1.  Granola Bars

Granola bars use oatmeal, butter, sugar and fruit to combine and make a bar that you can freeze to keep ready for a long time. Recipes can be found all over the Internet for homemade granola bars. Mix in some flax seeds or wheat germ for an extra punch.The ingredients you need to keep on hand to make granola bars are items you would keep on hand anyway. They are oatmeal, rice cereal, some kind of chopped nuts, some dried fruit, a sweet syrup such as honey, sugar, and some flavoring like vanilla, salt or cinnamon. The process usually involves mixing the dry ingredients, warming up the sweet ingredients, then mixing the two and placing them in a pan to bake.

2.  Trail Mixes

Trail mixes are incredibly easy to make and use some of the same ingredients as the granola bars. This won't add much to your pantry and will allow you to create quick breakfasts to send your kids out with that they will find fun.

Trail mixes usually start with some kind of cereal. Things like Chex or Life make great additions to trail mix. Then add some of your children's favorite nuts and fruit. Our family favorites include dried pineapple, yogurt raisins, peanuts and almonds. If you want to go savory, add come Cheez-it crackers or pieces of pretzels. To sweeten up the mix a little, add some M&Ms or chocolate covered peanuts. You can also make it ahead and keep it in a large container so it can be scooped into sandwich or snack sized bags to eat on the go.

3.  Sausage and Egg Biscuits

My family's favorite breakfast is sausage and eggs biscuits. But we don't like the store bought kind. Usually I will make my grandmother's recipe of buttermilk biscuits on the weekend. I will buy some sausage from the store. And then I make my own version of scrambled eggs that my family loves. I put it all together, add a little cheese, and then stick them in the smallest zip-top bags I can find. I make sure to get rid of as much air as possible and then I put them in the freezer. It only takes about one to two minutes in the microwave to have a scrumptious breakfast in the mornings. You can obviously replace the sausage with ham or other protein your family prefers.

These three meals will have you looking like "Super Mom" every morning.

Freeze Your Oatmeal

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Oatmeal is an excellent breakfast for both kids and adults. It’s nutritious, provides an entire morning's worth of energy and has amazing flavor. Instant oatmeal is quick, but low on the nutrition scale, however steel cut oats might take 45 minutes to prepare. How can you fit the nutritional benefits of oats into an already-packed early morning schedule? Make it ahead in a large batch and freeze it!

Here’s how to cook and freeze a large quantity of steel cut oats. This recipe can easily be doubled for larger families.

You’ll need:
3 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
Pinch of salt

In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in oats. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Shorter cooking times will result in crunchier oats. When done, remove oatmeal from the stove and let cool.

You can also use these same proportions and cook the oats overnight. Bring water, salt and oats to a boil in a large pot. Let boil on high for one to two minutes. Leave your pot on the burner, but turn off the heat. Cover. In the morning the oats should be perfectly cooked. For those of you at higher altitudes, cook on medium-high for five minutes before turning off the burner.

Steel cut oats are also great when cooked in the crock pot. With this make ahead method, you'll want to use a little more water, maybe 3 1/2 to four cups. Cook overnight for yummy, ready to eat oatmeal in the morning.

Freezing oatmeal is easy. For individual portions you can freeze oatmeal in ice cube trays, small silicone muffin baking cups or any other freezer container. Lightly grease the trays or cups, fill with oatmeal and freeze for four to five hours. When frozen, pop the oatmeal out of the container and store in freezer bags. These make ahead bags will keep for two to three months. For adults, about three-fourths to one cup is a good portion size. Young children will enjoy about a half cup portion and just a few tablespoons will suffice toddlers. You can remove as many portions as you need when you are ready for a healthy, quick breakfast. Get out your measuring cup to test your tray/cups in advance to determine how many cubes or portions will be the right amount.

Adding all sorts of ingredients to the oatmeal before freezing will give you variety and interesting flavors. Some ideas to try include brown sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut or finely ground or chopped nuts. Fruit also works well. Add finely chopped apples, dried or fresh banana, blueberries, chopped dates, raisins, craisins and dried apricots or cranberries. Try some wheat germ or flax seeds for a boost of nutrition and fiber.

Frozen oatmeal thaws well in the microwave. Or, use the energy saving method of setting out the amount you'll need for breakfast the night before. It’ll be thawed enough for a quick reheat in the morning.