Dr. Ryan’s Stay at Home Dinner Challenge #3!

Another one of my go-to stay at home meals is the Spanish Tortilla (or potato omelet). I love eating this with a piece of toast smeared with half of a really ripe tomato and sprinkled with a little salt. Having breakfast for dinner is one of my favorites!  Check out the recipe below.

Spanish Tortilla

Per person:

  • 1/2c shredded frozen hashbrowns
  • 1/4 of an onion, sliced thin(freeze what isn’t used whole to use later or make broth)
  • 2 eggs
  • nonstick cooking spray or 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper

In a nonstick skillet, heat oil or spray generously with cooking spray to coat.  Cook sliced onions on medium/low heat until softened, but not browning.  Add hash brown potatoes and stir to mix with the onions.  Spread in a layer on the bottom of the skillet and cook over medium heat until areas are crispy brown and the potato is get soft.  Use a spatula (the pancake-turner-kind) to flip over the hash brown so the crispy part stays stuck together.  Cook again until crispy.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs with a little salt an pepper until a little bubbly on the surface (use a fork or whisk).  Once hash browns are a beautiful crispy layer, pour eggs over the top.  The bottom will thicken and solidify and the top will be more gelatinous as it cooks; add a lid if you don’t like any runny in your eggs. peter_som_fashion_designer_nyc_home_kitchen_cooking_salmon_fillets_microgreen_salad_eye-swoon_athena_calderone_winnie_au_photography-5

Here’s the fun part: you can get really creative (and maybe make a mess) and try to flip the eggs entirely over, or you can just fold the eggs in half and let the center cook/solidify itself.

Serve once the center of the omelet has reached your desired solid-ness. Enjoy!

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All in a Day’s Work – Sneaking in Exercise when you are Busy

We all need to move more for the sake of our health, but our best intentions are easily thwarted when we’re busy. At times it can seem hard to fit in 30 minutes a week, let alone a half hour on most days. If you have a desk-bound job, you might feel there’s nothing you can do about it, but, in truth, there are plenty of ways you can get moving.

  • If you live close enough leave the car at home, pull on your athletic shoes and walk, or run or cycle to work. If it’s too far, take public transportation, but get off a few stops earlier and walk at least a quarter of the way. If you drive your car, park as far away as possible and walk to your office. Every bit of activity counts.
  • When you’re stuck in your seat, simple desk exercises are better than nothing. Try marching your legs under your desk, or do calf raises, leg extensions or buttock squeezes, holding for a count of 10.
  • Climbing three flights of stairs burns about 15 calories. Do that six times a day and you’ve worked off the calories in your mid-morning snack . Regular stair climbing also improves bone density, aerobic fitness, and levels of good cholesterol.
  • Skip the conference room for meetings, and invite colleagues for a stroll instead. You can record any notes on a smartphone.
  • Rather than emailing colleagues, walk to their desk to talk to them.
  • exercise at work pictureStand up when talking on the phone.

These are just a few ways to incorporate exercise into your work day. For more tips, visit: http://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/fitness-25-fast-and-easy-ways-fit-10-minutes-exercise

Dr. Ryan’s Stay at Home Dinner Challenge #2!

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Why dine out over the summer when you can stay home and enjoy all the delicious produce that this time of year has to offer! Staying home for dinner will insure fewer calories consumed while still making sure you have maximum satisfaction. This Italian chicken meal is low calorie and a cinch to make…

Take a bottle of italian salad dressing, then kind that separates into oil and flavorful goodness at the bottom. No, don’t shake it up to mix…now gently pour off the oil, right down the drain (or save it for later if you want to use it sparingly with vinegar on salad for a dressing). Take the pretty and flavorful goodness left in the bottle and poor it over 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can let marinate in the fridge for an hour or so, but usually I’m too impatient and just dump them into the skillet

Cook the chicken in a skillet over med/high heat until cook through and the juices run clear. Alternatively, the chicken can be cooked in a baking pan in the oven at 375 degrees for about an hour.

I recommend serving with a sliced tomato, cucumber and red onion salad dressed with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Leftover chicken can be throw on top of a salad from the previous post, frozen in strips to use later, or shredded and mixed with some low fat miracle whip and celery to make chicken salad.

Sound good to you?

Making Sense of Food Labels

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It seems as if every day a story is printed about some study or another with findings that sugar is the enemy, fat is the worst thing possible, certain fats are the best things ever, don’t eat this, do eat that. It’s all so confusing! Even if you can figure out what substances you should eat, how do you know what is actually in the foods you are buying?

Food labels are designed to help consumers make healthy food choices. In 1990, when the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act went into effect, the USDA and the FDA developed guidelines so that consumers would have access to useful nutritional information to help make smart choices. For example,

  • If you are concerned about your weight, you should compare products based on both calories and fat.
  • If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, you should focus on the amount of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Choose products containing less than 20% Daily Values for fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • If you have diabetes, you should pay attention to the amount of carbohydrate, sugar added, and fiber.

But how do you make sense of a food label?

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1 – Start with the serving information at the top of the label.
This will tell you the size of a single serving and the total number of servings per container.
2 – Next, check total calories per serving.
Pay attention to the calories per serving and how many servings you’re really consuming if you eat the whole package.
3 – Limit these nutrients. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 11-13 grams of saturated fat, as little trans fat as possible, and no more than 1,500 mg of sodium.
4 – Get enough of these nutrients – dietary fiber, protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.
5 – The % Daily Value (DV) tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount.
Food Labels and Nutrition Facts enable you to compare products based on key ingredients. When comparing products, if you know how to read the labels, you can focus on those nutrients that are important to you and fit into your healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Ryan’s Stay Home For Dinner Summer Challenge!

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One easy way to drop excess calories from my diet (and improve emotional wellbeing by spending time with family or friends) is to make meals at home. Logically when I know what I’m putting into my food I can better control what I eat.

One doesn’t have to be a gourmet chef to make healthy food (that tastes great!) at home.   Sometimes simpler is better, and learning new things can be fun! Eating three or four meals a week made at home with my family also provides some bonding time to ask, “how was your day,” keeps my mind young by teaching me new things, and provides some much needed stress relief.

One idea that I love is a summer salad bar (with an option for soup later)! Grab some of your favorite salad ingredients from the produce aisle, and spend about 20 minutes on a weekend night prepping them for a “build your own salad” bar. Cut carrots, celery, onion, cucumber, and tomato into dice size (small enough to eat in one bite with a little chewing). Or, buy cherry tomatoes and pre-diced veggies to cut time. Tear up lettuce (there are any number of varieties in the store, experiment!)

I always make it a rule that if I want to cheese on my salad I have to buy a block and grate the amount I want myself; this makes my effort deliberate and controls the amount I use; additionally it saves on wasted cheese that molds too fast in my small household. Small (1 ounce, or the size of a 9 volt battery) of cheese makes a healthy satisfying snack a few times a week too. And I get to try new varieties (most of which I can’t pronounce.)

If I want croutons, gotta make those myself, too! Take the heel of bread (you know, that bit no one wants?) and rub it with a clove of garlic, then cut it into medium size cubes. No garlic handy? No problem; just cut into cubes first, lay out on a baking sheet and spray generously with nonstick cooking spray. Then sprinkle with garlic salt or onion powder/salt or Italian seasoning/salt. Pop in the oven at 275F for about 45 (check to make sure not burning).

Lastly, either grab some precut precooked chicken breast strips from the freezer section, or make your own by cooking in a pan with a little olive oil and salt/pepper; if your feeling adventurous sprinkle almost fully cooked chicken breasts with some prepackaged taco seasoning, then cut into strips or diced. These can be tossed on top to add protein to your salad bar.

The good news is I can make three or four (varied) salad dinners by giving up an hour or so of prep time on a weekend night. This stuff is also pretty easy to pack up for lunch at work.

BONUS TIP***

Cut veggies starting to wilt? No worries; throw them in a zippered freezer bag into the freezer and save them up to make broth (stock). Same with chicken bones or cooked skin removed from chicken (you know that rotisserie kind that makes an easy and healthy instant dinner from the grocery store?) Once you have two cups or so of leftover veggies/herbs, throw them and any frozen leftover chicken scraps in a pot with a quart of water, some salt and pepper, and simmer about 20 minutes to make a healthy broth that can be frozen to make soup in the future.

Feeling like a chef now?

Stay True to the New, Healthier You Even on Vacation

Healthy vacation image

Establishing and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can be challenging enough, but add in being on vacation, and you might think all bets are off! It doesn’t have to be that way, though. In fact, by incorporating the following tips into your vacation plans, you will enhance your travel experience by tasting local delicacies, touring local sights, and trying new things. AND You can feel good about yourself while doing them.

All the excuses that are going through your mind right now – I just want to relax on vacations! I don’t want to think about everything I put in my mouth! I’ll be at the beach! I’ll be in the mountains! – Sorry. They don’t fly. With a little planning and a slight shift in perspective, your vacation can be everything you want it to be, with none of the guilty aftertaste.

  • Research area restaurants.
    • Look at menus online to know if they offer any options that go along with your lifestyle choices AND seem like a vacation treat.
      • fresh seafood
      • local in-season produce
      • specialty pastries or other sweet local treats (If you know where you want to spend your calories on something that you can’t get at home, you will be less apt to eat something that you don’t really need or want. For example, you might think, “I’m not going to eat that extra piece of bread with dinner tonight because later I’m splurging on crepes, or beignets, or funnel cake at the carnival!”)
      • Regional beverages
    • Plan activities that require walking or other physical movement.
      • Walking tours, hiking, swimming, surfing lessons, bike tours – the list is endless.
        • Be flexible about what you consider a workout. Just because you do a certain routine at home doesn’t mean that all of that movement at the beach/zoo/aquarium/antique shopping/hiking to see a view/etc. isn’t exercise! It counts and burns calories.
        • Even if your idea of vacation is to relax with a minimum of physical exertion, you can work small bits of exercise in without really feeling it.
          • Park a little further away.
          • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
          • Plan an activity that has you learning something new like zip lining, rappelling, hula dancing, etc. The physical and mental work of learning will burn calories and be lots of fun!

The bottom line is not to throw away all of your hard work to become healthy by blowing it while you are on vacation. Remember, you are not on a diet. You are living a healthy lifestyle. Keeping that in mind will help you to make better choices while away from home.

Dr. Ryan’s Simple Nutrition Tips for Boosting Energy

Morning Fitness

It’s no secret that regular exercise, stress management, and getting enough sleep are critical for combating fatigue. It also turns out that our eating habits directly affect our energy levels, and there are ways we can use nutrition to feel more energetic throughout the day.

As busy and productive people with over-scheduled, stressful lifestyles (sometimes combined with little quality sleep and poor eating habits), it is no wonder so many of us feel drained. Fatigue breaks us down physically and emotionally in addition to weakening the immune system, making us more susceptible to illness, depression, and even chronic conditions like heart disease. The good news is that we can take steps to naturally increase our energy through nutrition too.

  • Eat Breakfast.
    • You get energy from the first hour and you’ll be less hungry the rest of the day.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods.
    • Optimal energy metabolism requires an abundance of vitamins and minerals. If we don’t get enough nutrients from foods, we suffer from sub-optimal cellular energy metabolism, making us feel tired and sluggish.
    • Choose foods that have a lot of nutrition per calorie. These include:
      • vegetables
      • beans
      • nuts
      • seeds
      • fruits
      • whole grains
      • lean animal proteins.
    • Seek out foods high in antioxidants.
      • Antioxidants are the body’s scavengers of those damaging chemicals that tax our system and cause fatigue and lead to illness.
      • There are thousands of natural, protective antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods.

Good nutrition is one of the most important factors for good health. You can dramatically improve your health and energy levels by making simple adjustments to your eating habits. Seek out colorful, juicy fruits like berries and melons, and dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach, and you will be on your way to a healthier, more energetic you!