Friday, 11 May 2007

Recipe Rehab: Salad Nicoise

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Our weekly feature, Recipe Rehab, takes a recipe -- sometimes basic, sometimes decadent and sometimes just plain unhealthy -- and turns it into a scrumptious and healthy dish, pumped up with nutrition. Sometimes all it takes is a few alterations to prepare a dish that would make even your nutritionist proud.

Salad is a word you would think is synonymous with healthy - except fatty toppings and dressing can really pack on the calories. This lightened version of a French classic is more in tune with what a salad should really be - without losing any of the taste.

Salad Niçoise

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper -- to taste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 small potatoes, boiled and cooled
6 cups mixed greens
6 tomatoes, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
12 ounces green beans, steamed
6 egg white, hardboiled and sliced
2 cans tuna in water
2 ounces niçoise olives

Blend together first five ingredients to make the dressing. Divide salad ingredients evenly between four plates and drizzle dressing over the top. Serve immediately.

Rehab Rundown

  • Water was substituted for most of the olive oil in the dressing
  • Additional greens were added to up the fiber and vitamins
  • The egg yolks were removed
  • Tuna packed in water was used instead of tuna packed in oil
  • The total amount of olives (8 calories each!) was cut in half

Rehab Reveal

Based on 1 serving - 1/4 recipe




444 (58.6% from fat)

225 (25.6% from fat(




Saturated Fat













220 mg


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Working in the Workouts: Next stop, yoga

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Owen and mommyEach week, Debbie will share her goals, challenges, successes and tips on how to fit in fitness when caring for a rambunctious toddler.

You know what? I feel great! I love that my new fitness regime is morphing into something that I enjoy, with lots of variety that somehow actually fits int o my lifestyle. I still find this mind-boggling, as I really didn't believe I could do much more than nothing with my hectic toddler-centric schedule.

It's OK with me that I dumped the loathed elliptical, because I have filled the time with something else that I actually like doing (30 minute walks).

It's OK with me that some day, and some weeks, I get more exercise than others, because that is just part of life, and in the big picture, I am doing lots of good fitness-type things.

It is not OK with me that I haven't been able to fit in yoga again . . .yet. So that is my next goal, and here is how I plan on sneaking in some yoga time . . .

Continue reading Working in the Workouts: Next stop, yoga

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Meet the Bloggers: Rigel Gregg

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For months now, you've read our thoughts about living fit. Don't you wish you knew more about the people behind the posts? Throughout May, we'll introduce you to our bloggers. We know you're dying to learn if we favor spandex over sweats, the craziest diets we've fallen for, what "forbidden foods" lurk in our pantries, and what motivates us to embrace each lunge after glorious lunge. So, read on. And if you feel like asking us a question we haven't posed for ourselves here, ask away!

Today we introduce Rigel Gregg, who helps you Jumpstart Your Fitness every Monday, pens Workplace Fitness on Wednesdays, and contributes her Daily Fit Tip on Fridays.

1. Who are you?

I'm Rigel Gregg, of course! :-)

2. Age you tell people you are.

29 (ha, I really am 29!)

3. Where you're from and where you live now.

I was born in Alaska, but have lived lots of places in my life. I consider myself "from" both Wisconsin and Nebraska, but I live in Iowa now.

4. Do you have a personal blog?

It's in the works.

5. What is your day job, or rather, what do you do when you're not fitness blogging?

I have all kinds of projects on the side -- I love anything creative like painting/drawing/writing, and love to be outdoors.

6. How long have you been blogging with That's Fit and what is your favorite post?

I've been writing for That's Fit since October of last year, and I love so many of the posts it's hard to pick a favorite! But I'd have to say the "How Many Calories?" series is really interesting for me.

7. Do you have a specific fitness background or are you a mere mortal who's just passionate about being healthy and fit -- and living to write about it?

Um, I do have a background in nursing, but I'd have to say the second option fits me better.

8. What's the worst fitness or diet idea you fell for?

Wow, I fall for almost everything so this could be a long list! The worst thing? It would have to be those metabolism-boosting supplements they sell all over the place. I've tried so many of them (and they're not cheap!) but they've never done anything other than turn my stomach.

9. What motivates you to exercise and stay healthy?

Feeling good and staying healthy mostly, but also trying to look my best!

10. Who's your favorite fitness role model?

I don't have anybody specific, really. I like anybody who manages to be healthy and fit without complaining all the time about dieting.

11. What's your exercise "M.O." -- Gym workouts or outdoor endeavors; team or solitary sports?

I love a little bit of everything, I like to switch things up quite a bit.

12. Choice of fitness gear: Baggy sweats or sultry spandex?

Baggy sweats (or yoga pants) all the way.

13. What's your favorite fitness activity?

I love power-walking outdoors with my dog.

14. Do you have any non-fitness-related, non-blogging hobbies?

Painting, drawing, container gardening, and I love music and movies (but who doesn't?).

15. Confession time! What nonhealthy food do you eat -- or what unhealthy habit do you indulge in -- that would get you banned from That's Fit? What's your excuse for doing so?

I love to eat and I'm a huge believer in allowing myself "cheat days" every once in awhile. And on a cheat day I eat whatever the heck I feel like, so you can imagine it gets pretty bad ...
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We love to gawk at fit celebs: Could Brit be working (it all) out?

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So she's digging her way through a rough patch. A very rough patch. One that includes some an awful collection of wigs and even worse PR handling. Not to mention the impact on her kids. Oh, the kids.

But at least she's back in the studio and on stage, working it all out with some new beats and good old-fashioned sweating. So it's in a Pussycat Doll-wannabe costume and is all kinds of lip-synced. At least she's working it out.

Take a look at this pic of Britney taking a break from her dance training with son Sean Preston this week in Hollywood and consider this: If she can focus on learning the choreography and channel her energy into work and her children, maybe she'll find her way out of this mess in better shape than we thought only weeks ago.

Everything I need to know about staying healthy through finals I learned in kindergarten

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Classrooms full of college students are getting very anxious to end their academic year. With the finals crunch on and sleep, eating and exercise habits tossed aside to make sure last-minute assignments are finished, test notes are highlighted and flash cards are memorized, it is also prime time for getting sick.

When I was in school, it never failed that I would get home after finals were done and catch a nasty cold or virus that would have me in bed for the first few days of break. I always blamed it on the let-down of all that stress and possibly post-test beer.

This college newspaper article also suggests that taking extra care with simple hygiene strategies will help students stay healthy. Sneezing into your elbow rather than your hand, making sure to wash hands before meals and after going to the bathroom, and using antibacterial lotion after spending time typing on computer lab keyboards will all help the collegiates counter germ spreading in small spaces like dorms and classrooms.

What's funny to me is that these are all healthy living tips my toddler's learning in preschool. I'm hoping that means he won't be a sicky boy after the stress of remembering all the verses to Wheels on the Bus at the end-of-year recital. And that maybe his good habits will carry him through classrooms with much bigger chairs.

Get in shape quickly with the "deadline diet"

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As spring turns to summer, the invitations start coming in the mail. Graduations, weddings, birthdays, BBQs, beach parties, vacations...summer is all about fun in the sun, which means bathing suits, bikinis, tank tops, and really a whole lot less clothing that we've been used to wearing all winter.

So what's a girl (or guy) to do when you've only got 1 week, 1 month, or 3 months to prepare for a big event? Crash dieting is dangerous and can actually wreck your event for you. Who wants to hang out and party with someone who's weak and shaky from lack of food, or who's spending all their time stalking the waiter because they've finally let themselves eat? Instead, take a look at The Deadline Diet. This program is heavy on strength training and exercise, but still moderate on calories to fuel your body, and promises to get you into shape just in time for your big event.

Curvy models all the rage in Africa

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Throughout much of history the standards of beauty have been determined strictly by economics; namely anything that signals wealth is equated with attractiveness. In the mid-to late-20th century, that ideal changed as more and more workers moved indoors. Having a tan meant that you had enough money to take time off and head outdoors for recreation.

Apparently a similar pattern can currently be illustrated by the types of models getting work with a modeling agency in Ghana. While naturally skinny girls are being sent to work on catwalks in Europe where being thin is a necessity for a successful career, they don't get work at home. The women strutting their stuff there boast some serious curves. In Africa, it's a sad fact that the vast majority of residents suffer from malnutrition and many are literally starving. Having some meat on your bones signifies that you've got enough money to eat well.

So maybe the next time you find yourself feeling envious of a beautiful but bony model (or actress) think about the reasons behind why ultra-thin it is in and decide whether or not it's worth buying into.

Put your "rear in gear" with these great exercises

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When it comes to muscle groups, the glutes are the largest and the strongest. They're also one of the most popular "problem areas" and people are often looking to reduce, enhance, or or tone to create a beautiful bottom.

The gold standard for working the backside has long been the squat, done in a standing position, bending knees like you were sitting in a chair. But the American Council on Exercise recently reviewed other exercises using EMG technology to measure muscle activity. They've identified four good alternatives to the squat:
  • quadruped hip extensions
  • step-ups
  • lunges
  • four way hip extensions
So now when you're working that butt, you've got plenty of choices! To read more about the study and to see the exercises in pictures, go here.

Getting -- and staying -- asleep when you're having trouble doing both

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It's inevitable. My work projects ramp up and I am up late meeting deadlines, my toddler son knocks a few hours off of his regular wake-up time and I get slapped by insomnia. No matter how tired I am in these moments, I can't seem to relax enough to fall asleep. As I lay there at 2:47 a.m., all I can think about is how many more minutes until the boy is ready to play and how desperately I want to sleep at least a little before then.

It is hard to think beyond the Why can't I fall asleep? Why am I not asleep? bombarding thoughts when you're suffering from a dose of insomnia, and it may not be any easier when you're groggy, crabby and exhausted the next morning. Although we might not be to blame or able to control the circumstances that lead to sleep deprivation, the Mayo Clinic has some tips to help prevent that late-night dread. A few of the highlights are:

* Avoid caffeine. It is so easy have a Diet Coke with dinner or a cup of tea before bed without admitting the impact any trace of caffeine can have on a tired body. Because the body takes so long to eliminate stimulants, the Mayo Clinic suggests going caffeine-free for eight hours before bed. For many of us, that means no late-afternoon latte pick-me-up (gulp).

* Exercise regularly.
Sometimes I hate to hear it, but I see over and over again how exercising even a few times a week impacts my restfulness. Now that I'm training for a walk, I notice that my body's fatigue overrides my reeling mind and that can be a very good thing.

* Use sleeping medication only as a last resort.
Check in with your doc to ensure that you don't have a bigger medical condition and to determine the kind of sleep aides and dosage you personally need. My doctor suggested an over-the-counter medication that induces drowsiness for those really awful periods of sleeplessness. The thought alone of having a just-in-case remedy has been calming enough to get me to a slumber without taking a thing.

Do you have any sleepy-time tips that work when stress makes it tough for you to get rest?

Can electric cigarettes help you quit?

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For those looking to quit smoking, there are a number of methods to help you kick the habit. Everything from pills, to patches, to hypnosis have been championed as ways to ease the painful withdrawal symptoms.

But what if there was a product that helped you stop smoking while actually giving you a real smoking experience?

It may seem counter-intuitive, but apparently that's what's possible with the new electronic cigarette, or "e-cigarettes." Building on previous products that offer nicotine replacements (like nicotine gum, for instance), the e-cigarette looks and feels like the real thing -- using a built-in microprocessor and atomizer that combine air intake with a small amount of nicotine, while also releasing a non-toxic vapor to simulate exhaled smoke.

The China-based company has received criticism from the local media, who note that one nicotine cartridge in an e-cigarette contains 18mg of nicotine, as compared with 1.2mg for a typical cigarette. However, the company says that 1 cartridge should last as long as 30 normal cigarettes, thus giving the user a much smaller amount of the drug during each individual use.

It seems like a could be a helpful way for people to beat both the physical addiction, and the psychological addiction associated with the habits and mannerisms of smoking. However, for $208 (the approximate price of the product), I'd want to be sure it worked.

Michael Moore's 'Sicko' tells of broken U.S. health industry

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Is the health care system in the U.S. substandard to a communist nation's health care system? controversial filmmaker Michael Moore will examine that question when hid "Sicko" film is released this year.

Moore took patients from the U.S. to Cuba (he's under investigation for that) to prove that they could receive better (and less expensive) health care outside the U.S. than inside it.

While I don't think any country's medical system is advanced as the one Americans enjoy, access to that system and the money needed to take advantage of it (when needed) is out of reach for millions of people. Due to that, I'll probably watch Moore's film with a scrutinizing eye but with an open mind as well. Will you?

Will smoking ban harm your pet?

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Earlier this year I was absolutely thrilled when the city I live in finally joined almost every other city in North America -- and some of Europe -- and banned smoking in public places including pubs, bars and nightclubs. As a non-smoker, not only did I hate breathing in toxins secondhand but I also couldn't stand coming home and having my clothes and hair reek of smoke. Even many of the people I know who do smoke supported the ban for similar reasons. It's one thing to smoke, but its another to be surrounded by it.

I thought the bans seemed like a positive move all around. However news out of the UK claims that one group could be seriously harmed by smoking bans -- namely the pets of smokers. Apparently dogs and cats suffer just as much from secondhand smoke as humans and can wind up with the same diseases. The worry is that since people can no longer smoke in public places, they'll get their fix at home much more often.

So for anyone out there who smokes and has a beloved pet, think about them before lighting up. If you refuse to smoke around your kids, why not treat your animals with the same respect. Or better yet, give quitting a try because in the end everyone will be better off!

iPods can make pacemakers malfunction?

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Every once in a while, a technical gadget will be seen as a threat to some established industry or product. This happened long ago in the aviation industry, as cellular phones were thought to possibly interfere with aircraft communication systems. Hence, they were banned from use on airplanes.

What about something as innocent as an iPod? Well, the most popular music gadget going right now is in hot water with some heart specialists, as they say the venerable music product may be interfering with the electromagnetic equipment monitoring the heart.

The problem comes down to electromagnetic interference from the device that could affect pacemakers when help close to the chest. Most likely, the interference was due to the hard drive inside the iPod (which uses a very strong magnet), but I doubt solid-state iPods like the nano and shuffle would cause anything. Of course, researchers did not distinguish between the different types of iPods at all.

Can being happy keep you healthy?

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Can happiness keep you healthy? A recent study suggests that may just be true. When study participants were infected with a cold or flu virus, researchers found that those who had been found to have positive emotional outlooks (on standardized personality tests) were less likely to be infected by the germs. When they did come down with the cold or flu, they also were less likely to report their symptoms as severe, even when they were as sick as "non-happy" participants.

Experts believe that general happiness may lead to improved immune function, and that being positive helped patients not focus on their symptoms. Want to learn more about how happiness and health go hand in hand? Check out this article that explains, in general, which groups of people are the happiest (it may not be who you think) and lists the 10 happiest countries.

Can whole body vibration shake up your workout?

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When I first read about whole body vibration machines as the answer to fitness and weight loss for those of us who have a hard time getting up from behind the laptop and actually moving our bodies, all I could think about was the old-time footage of big ladies being jiggled around by a big, shaking waist strap. What they actually are today is much different than that.

But the real question is: Is whole body vibration effective exercise?

Not at all, says this MD and rehabilitation specialist. While the claim is that your muscles are put to work by reacting to the vibration, the doctor says this "passive exercise" won't increase your strength, flexibility, endurance or stability, key fitness elements for most people. In fact, the doctor claims, the vibration may even be harmful for pregnant women and people with low back pain and other medical conditions.

While medical professionals say that there are indeed effective uses for whole body vibration within a fitness regimen, the cost alone may prevent most people from jumping on board. Priced from $400 up into the thousands, the doctor recommends instead investing in a good pair of walking shoes to get your exercise routine and your body moving in a healthier way.

Thyroid may be causing too much sleep in some

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Do you get tired easily or a lot? Some people I know get more sleep than they probably need and still almost fall asleep during boring meetings. What is the deal here? Ask your thyroid.

The thyroid disorder is known to be a genetic variation that occurs in some families. Do you know of anyone who has too easy of a time falling asleep? How about drifting off into sleep during the day when a full eight hours of sleep was had the night before?

The condition, known as hyperthyroidism, is more common in women but can be helped by medication. If you find yourself being tired too often or drifting off when you shouldn't be, you may want to visit your physician and see what the trouble could be. Perhaps hyperthyroidism runs in your family.

[correction noted]

Here's a day to celebrate: No Diet Day!

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Now here's a day I can celebrate: No diet day. It happens on May 7th (darn, I missed it) in a place called Timaru, New Zealand. The point of the day is to cease all dieting. That's not to say that you should head to the all-you-can-eat buffet and have a total pig-out, but rather for one day, don't spend any money , time or energy on the quest to be slim. People worldwide spend billions every year on diet products and yet we're still in the midst of an obesity crises. Dietitians in Timaru believe that diets are pointless, and rather people should invest in making healthy, long-term changes to their life. And you know what? I totally agree. I think every day should be no-diet day, but at the same time, we should make an effort to live our healthiest life every single day too.

What do you think?

Tasty and low-cal party dip idea

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I'm always looking for healthy items to serve when there's gatherings to be had or parties to attend. That's not an easy order, since most "party" items are full of fat and calories that I'd prefer to avoid if at all possible.

So when I find a recipe that looks both delicious and is ultra-healthy, I cling to it! Although smoky Eggplant Dip may sound gross to some people, this is one I've made before (slightly altered from the below) and it was incredible. Very good tasting and very decent on calories and bad nutritional content (very little except sugar).

Try this with pita chips (like Stacy's) and you'll be amazed at how good this stuff is - without packing a thousand calories into a single serving.
  • Vegetable spray to taste
  • 2 eggplants (about 1 lb/450 g each)
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 onion, peeled, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
See the source and entire directions on making this delicious dip here.

Computers take a toll on those eyes

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Work on a computer all day long? I do (at least for hours on end), and if you're like me, those eyes start glazing over after a few hours of staring at a screen filled with words. Long ago I realized this probably was not healthy and set up my workstation to be as ergonomic as possible. But, that's only part of the battle.

The best chair, keyboard and computer monitor are great starts to ensure you don't tire while computing. But, taking frequent breaks will let your eyes also get the exercise they need away from the computer screen.

If you spend many hours in front of a screen and still use a CRT-type display, the best move you can make is to use a high-quality LCD screen (which look so much better than the fuzzy images from a tube screen). Even with that move, breaks from incessant computer screen staring should become part of your routine.

The saucy way to lose weight

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As I lecture and train new clients, I discourage folks from using butter, oil and fat-laden creamy sauces. For people trying to lose weight, slathering or cooking their food in pure fat just seems silly to me. And yes......that counts for olive oil too. Most people get plenty of fat via meat, dairy, and treats, that I don't see great purpose in purposefully adding fat to a meal.

The question always comes, "then how do I add flavor to my food, Fitz?" I'll tell ya. First of all, you can use any seasoning in the world. Then we get to the sauces. Lots of people tell me they 'hate fat free sauces'. So we'll start there. Catchup and mustard are naturally fat-free. So are barbecue sauce, Teriyaki, soy, Worcestershire, A-1, all types of vinegar, jerk sauce, some wing sauces, many marinaras, jelly, jam, and preserves. That's just scratching the surface. Worried about your food sticking to the pan or grill? Try Teflon and use a cooking spray like Pam.

Hating fat free stuff is a weird thing that came about because ten years ago the market was full of new fat-free products which didn't match up to the taste or texture of each foods' original fatty version. What we fail to recognize is that most of the stuff we already love and own are naturally fat free. Who thinks of catsup as a fat-free food though?

Continue reading The saucy way to lose weight

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