Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Chocoholics Excuse To Eat Chocolate – It’s Healthy?

OK, there are some caveats to the whole “chocolate is healthy” comment, but in fact it’s true.

We’re talking dark chocolate here (not milk or white), and from what I’ve read the chocolate should have a minimum of 70% cacao content, and in several readings I’ve seen this number be even higher.

Back in 2003, WebMD had an article relating to the health benefits of dark chocolate: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-chocolate. Here’s just another example of an article highlighting dark chocolate’s benefits: http://dralexrinehart.com/nutrition-benefits/health-benefits-of-dark-chocolate/. Daily calorie intake needs to be considered, and also it’s not a license to “pig out”. Moderation is the key with any food, more so with sweets/chocolate. If you eat too much, you won’t leave room for more healthier and nutritious snacks such as fruits and vegetables.

Some of the benefits of dark chocolate I’ve run across as mentioned in these and other articles: controls blood sugar, full of antioxidants, high in vitamins & minerals (such as iron, potassium, copper, magnesium) which can help prevent cardiovascular ailments such as a stroke, helps stop food cravings, been shown to reduce stress, good for the brain….the list goes on. The key element in dark chocolate is flavonoids, but because it’s bitter, what you find on store shelves is usually processed to reduce the bitterness. For my daily snack/meal replacement shake (Shakeology), I add one tablespoon of natural unsweetened cacao powder to further accent the chocolate shake a little more. The higher the % of cacao content, the lower the amount of sugar.

Here’s a story about chocolate:http://www.thestoryofchocolate.com/index.cfm .

So this is why I always keep dark chocolate in the house. Sure I sometimes I have to fight the urge to over-indulge, but I have a small amount almost everyday to satisfy my sweet tooth, and reap the benefits dark chocolate has to offer. It’s a win-win in my book.

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Grilling – Summertime, Anytime

I enjoy grilling, and I do it year round. I use a gas grill, and have not used charcoal for a long time (mostly due to clean up and ease of use – call me lazy ūüôā ). I’m not the most sophisticated cook, but even with my simpleton ways I am fairly happy with how my meals come out. Tonight’s dinner was made entirely on the grill, and from prep time to table took less than 1/2 hour.

The main dish was thick cut center cut pork chops. I find the thicker chops don’t dry out as much, and once you sear them they stay juicy. I used a little bit of Worcestershire sauce, some pepper and onion powder, topped with¬† 2 tablespoons of sweet & sour sauce from my local Chinese restaurant. I cut up one very large sweet potato into wedges, sprayed with some olive oil, and lightly seasoned them with pepper and onion powder before grilling for 5+ minutes (no prepping – just put raw wedges onto the grill). The veggies, which were squash & zucchini,¬†were grilled for slightly less time than the potatoes¬†(I bought them already cut up at a farm stand which also included fresh basil, but it would take a couple of minutes to cut up your own). I also sprayed them with a little olive oil.

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In addition to pork chops the grill is¬†great for¬†fish, chicken, and of course steak. You can grill corn on the cob and many other veggies too. I personally choose not to eat¬†some of the “staple” foods that end up on a grill just because I’ve taken them out of my “foods that I eat” list¬†– for instance hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausage. Yes, there are compromises when you choose to eat healthy, and although I used to love those foods I’ve learned to live without them.

Use your imagination. The grill produces some very flavorful dishes, as the grilling alone adds an extra flavor on top of what ever seasonings and other toppings you use, more so than the oven or stove. If you don’t have access to a grill, there are pans that simulate grilling. I’ve used those with success also. A healthy grilled meal is a very satisfying one.

It’s Not All About Fitness And Nutrition

The focus on living a healthy lifestyle is generally on fitness and nutrition. But probably the most important aspect is the mind. Waking up refreshed (sleep is important), and having an overall positive attitude (regardless of the crap life slings at you) is the best medicine to staying on the healthy lifestyle path.

Having an escape/outlet from your normal daily routine is a great way to recharge. I think exercise is a great outlet, but¬†I’m excluding that in this discussion.¬†For some people taking a vacation is that outlet, or maybe just taking a drive. Going to the movies or a drive-in, or spending a day at the beach. Stop by your local museum or art gallery, or for some even shopping does the trick (I love shopping).

My wife and I bought a camping trailer a few years ago. We both grew up camping, and now with our children out of the house we wanted camping to be our escape. It takes us to new locations where we can explore. We can relax around a campfire.¬†We sit in the trailer at night and talk or watch TV or play a game. As much as we like to travel and stay in hotels, nothing beats our camper because it’s ours and it feels like home.

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If you don’t have an escape/outlet, and feel “trapped” in that thing they call a rut, go out and find something you will do and enjoy on a regular basis. It will refresh you, and then you’ll be better armed to faced that upcoming dreaded work week (unless you’re retired).

Snacks – Look For Healthier Alternatives

I am always on the lookout for new snack items. I randomly browse supermarket shelves and other stores for something different. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of snacks I’ve found. Fruits and vegetables are always good for snacking, but variation is the best to keep your daily nutrition “exciting”. Eating the same foods over and over again can get boring, and there’s always the risk that boredom may push you towards something “not so good”. These healthier sort of snacks are my daily choices, and IF the occasion arises I may have a “forbidden” snack, but in all honestly very rarely.

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It does take time and determination to change eating habits. Experiment with new foods/snacks and give them a couple of tries. Food is an acquired taste, and something you may not like on the first try might strike a chord on the second pass.

My Fitness and Nutrition Journey

My personal journey officially started when I was 27 years old. The journey¬†included many pieces of fitness equipment over the years, constantly changing how and what I ate. Changes I made after I reached the age of 50 made me the fittest I’ve ever been. For me, it was the combination of at home workout programs from Beachbody, and truly learning what clean eating meant.

Here’s a 4-minute look into my journey: