Reading Labels

by: Santino Pasalano

            Reading labels is one of the most important and intimidating aspects of healthy eating. Many neglect reading the labels on foods they are buying because they do not know what to look for. There are only two portions of any label that you need to be concerned with: Nutrition facts and Ingredients. The rest of the label is usually filled with false advertisements and exaggerated claims made to grab your attention and convince buy their product. Instead of falling victim to these marketing scams, pick it up, turn it around and read the facts.

Lets start with the first thing you should be reading on any food product your about to purchase, the ingredients. I could write pages and pages on ingredients alone but ill try and keep it simple. The first thing you should know is that ingredients are listed in order of abundance beginning with the most abundant ingredient; Keep this in mind when reading a label. For example, if the first ingredient in the list is sugar, then that food is made mostly of sugar. Try to stay away from foods with heavily processed ingredients such as: refined grains (“enriched” wheat flour, white rice flour, corn meal, etc.) sugar, corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Also, stay away from foods laden with preservatives such as: sodium nitrate, potassium sorbate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and sodium benzoate. Avoid artificial colors and flavors as they are usually compromised of cheap chemicals used to mimic natural colors and flavors. Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame-k and sorbitol should also be avoided. A good rule of thumb is if you do not know what it is, don’t eat it. The only exception to this rule is when there are added vitamins. Many vitamins bare intimidating names but are usually followed by the vitamin name in parenthesis; an example would be pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) or Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). Try to select foods that only have all natural ingredients and are free of the aforementioned “bad” ingredients. Even this can pose a challenge as most companies attempt to cleverly disguise their ingredient names to sound healthier. An example of this is “evaporated cane syrup” which is really just sugar. Or “enriched wheat flour” which is really just heavily processed white four. These ingredients will be lurking in the most unlikely places so make sure you read every label!

Now onto the nutrition facts. These are pretty cut and dry; you have fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins. Some nutrition facts might go as far as including a fat breakdown specifying the types of fats in the product (see our section on fats to learn more), potassium, dietary fiber and additional nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Everyone has different dietary needs and therefore people will be looking at the nutrition facts for specific things. In my opinion, there is no one item listed in the nutrition facts that is more important than the other. You truly need to be conscience of everything that is in what your about to eat. In particular, try to avoid things that are loaded with saturated fat, sodium or sugar. You will find that many foods you love (especially the highly processed ones) are loaded with these things. Also be sure to check out the vitamins and mineral content of your food and try to choose foods with better vitamin and mineral profiles. As stated before, everyone has different dietary needs and some people will want to avoid certain things like carbs or cholesterol. The bottom line is to just read the facts, and understand how much of each nutrient you’re about to eat, and how much you should be eating. For more information on particular diets and recommended daily allowances visit our “Eating for weight loss” page.

Storing Fat

by: Santino Pasalano

            There are three main nutrients your body derives its energy from: Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins. Each of these 3 nutrients follow a different course of digestion and in turn, is utilized by the body in a different way. When food is eaten, enzymes are excreted by the body to break it down. There are many enzymes produced by the body but the three main ones for nutrient breakdown consist of: amylase, lipase, and protease. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, lipase breaks down fats into fatty acids and protease breaks down proteins into amino acids.

Once protein is broken down into amino acids your body will use these amino acids for various bodily functions. The main function being tissue repair. Aside from tissue repair you body uses amino acids for almost every function; from enzyme and hormone synthesis to serving as the precursors for neurotransmitters. Once your body has used up all of the protein it needs it will excrete some of the remainder through your urine and the rest will be burned as energy or stored as fat. Luckily most of the protein you consume will be utilized by your bodily functions and will not be stored as fat. Of the three main nutrients protein will be transformed into the least amount of fat. (reword?)

As previously mentioned carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. Glucose is your bodies main source of energy because it is the easiest to break down and use. Once carbs are broken down into glucose your body immediately puts them to work by excreting insulin from your pancreas. Think of insulin as the transporter of glucose to your body’s cells. Once the glucose reaches the bodies cells insulin signals them to open up and let the glucose in. Once inside the cell the cell will then utilize the glucose as energy. If there is a surplus of glucose (caused by eating too many carbs) your body will convert this surplus into fat.

Similar to carbohydrates; fats main function is to provide energy. Fatty acids are also used for a variety of different brain and bodily functions, but the amount allotted to such functions is negligible in overall calorie content. Once your body runs out of glucose to burn for energy it then turns to fatty acids. This is why it is important to regulate your carbohydrate intake and avoid a surplus of blood glucose.

Understanding how your body uses energy and stores fat is a fundamental aspect of eating healthy and losing weight. By understanding this concept you will be able to make smarter meal choices that are based upon your energy requirements for that day.

Ginger-Soy Grilled Tuna





1lb fresh Ahi Tuna (1-2 steaks)

2 cloves of garlic (fine chopped or use a garlic press)

1 inch cube of fresh ginger (fine chopped)

2 teaspoons of sesame oil

1 teaspoon of dried minced onion

1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (or more depending on desired heat)

3 tablespoons of Braggs Liquid Aminos

2 tablespoons of rice vinegar



1. combine all ingredients (excluding the tuna) into gallon sized ziplock bag.

2. zip the top and shake to mix ingredients

3. add tuna and move around to fully coat tuna steak


4. put in fridge and marinade for 1-2 hours

5. remove from fridge 30 minutes before cooking to allow tuna to come to room temp

6. take tuna right out of the bag and put directly on a hot grill.

7. for a 1 inch thick steak cook for 3 minutes on each side for medium rare.

8. serve this with some roasted veggies and mashed potatoes for a hearty, healthy meal.




Kale and Eggs “Santino’s Way”



This is one may look and sound weird but it is awesome. Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. This is a great meal for any time of day.



– 1 big kale leaf chopped into bite-sized pieces

– 3 free range, organic eggs

– 1 tablespoon of olive oil

– 1/4 of an avocado diced

– dinosaur barbecue sauce (or your favorite barbecue sauce)



1. heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat.

2. add chopped kale and sauté for two or three minutes to coat the kale in oil and slightly wilt down. be sure to keep stirring the kale to avoid it burning


3. crack in your 3 eggs



4. scramble until fully cooked. 1-2 minutes

5. transfer eggs to a plate and top with the chopped avocado and barbecue sauce.




Herb-Roasted Carrots

roasted carrots


This is one of my all time favorite ways to make carrots and its super easy.



– 8-10 full sized carrots

– 2 tablespoons of olive oil

– 1/2 teaspoon of salt

– 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

– 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary

– 1 teaspoon of tried thyme



1. Turn the oven on 400

2. Cut carrots in half length wise and then in half again to quarter them. Cut the quartered carrots into bit sized pieces.

3. Toss the carrots in a bowl with olive oil salt and pepper and herbs.

4. Transfer them to a sheet pan and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until fork tender.


Serves 4



5 Five-Minute Fat-Burning Workouts


Busy schedules can be stressful (I know first hand!) and many people (including myself at times…) use the excuse “I never have any time” to skip working out. However, even a five-minute workout is enough to torch fat and relieve stress! With 1,140 minutes in a day, a 5-minute workout doesn’t seem like too big of a sacrifice, right? Try one or a mix of these workouts whenever you can squeeze in a quick workout!

1. Jumping Rope

A jump rope is a very portable, lightweight piece of workout equipment. Waiting for your oil to be changed or your pot of water to boil? Jump rope at a moderate speed for 5 minutes and you will be burning calories all day!

2. Squats

No equipment required! Do as many squats as you can within 5 minutes and torch fat and tone your legs and butt. You can also “sit” against the wall as if there is a chair underneath you. Try doing this workout while you brush your teeth! For a more intense workout, you can hold anything from weights to gallons of water to add some resistance.

3. Yard Work or House Work

Regardless of where you live, there is always yardwork or housework to be done! Shovel snow, rake leaves, pull weeds, plant flowers, or powerwash. Vacuum, mop, dust, or re-arrange your furniture. All of these “chores” will raise your heart rate and get you moving!

4. Dance

Turn on your favorite music and bust a move! This can be fun whether you’re alone or with others. Five minutes of intense dancing will burn tons of calories! Try new moves that incorporate full body movements! For a more intense workout, try some dance video games or look up a local Zumba class!

5. Play

Challenge your significant other to a wrestling match. Play your children or friends in ping-pong or basketball. Have a hula-hoop contest. Judge each other on your dive-styles into the pool. Playing any sports and active games are great cardio workouts and will boost your mood!


Finding five minutes in your day to squeeze in a workout will not only benefit your physical health but also your mental health. You will feel energized and accomplished! Maybe trying one of these new exercises will inspire you to make more time to workout!

8 Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Love

Eight Healthy Foods Your Kids Will Love

By: Suzanne Jenkins


We know that if can be difficult to eat healthy if you are making unhealthy meals for your children. It is so important for your children to also eat healthy in order to have strong bodies and sharp brains. That is why we are giving you 8 tasty foods that you will enjoy and your kids will love!

1. Almond-Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers

Ditch the battered and fried chicken fingers! Dredge your sliced chicken breast in a mix of oat flour and crushed almonds and bake them in the oven for a delicious and nutritious spin on the classic chicken fingers. Try dipping them in a homemade honey-mustard sauce.

2. Oatmeal

Skip the sugary cereal aisle and buy some plain, old-fashioned quick-cook oats. There are so many ways to make this oatmeal interesting and delicious. Try chopping a fresh apple with some grade B maple syrup, ground flaxseeds and cinnamon for a sweet tasty breakfast. Peanut butter, sliced banana, and hemp hearts also make great toppings. Be creative and include your child’s favorite fruits and topping!

3. Sweet Potatoes

These anti-oxidant, vitamin-rich vegetables are a favorite among infants because of their bright color and natural sweet taste. For a side dish with dinner, try a baked potato with cinnamon and grade B maple syrup. Cinnamon applesauce and vanilla Greek yogurt also make great toppings.

4. Hummus

What kid doesn’t like their snacks in a delicious, creamy dip? Hummus comes in so many different flavors such as roasted red pepper, garlic, garden vegetable, and cilantro lime. You are sure to find one your child likes! Try serving their favorite flavor with fresh vegetables such as carrot sticks, broccoli, cucumbers, celery, and bell peppers. You can also use it as a spread on their favorite sandwich as a mayonnaise replacement!

5. Greek Yogurt

Yogurt is a protein-rich food that is so versatile. Serve it with fresh fruits and nuts as a refreshing snack or lunch, grade B maple syrup and cinnamon for a sweet and savory dessert, a dash of hot sauce with sliced fresh vegetables as a tangy, flavorful dip, or as a spread on your child’s favorite sandwich. However it is used, yogurt is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

6. Soups

Kids love to slurp soup with their favorite crackers in it. You can easily mask vitamin-rich vegetables for fussy eaters in homemade soups. Try pureed carrot, butternut squash, and tomato soups. If you want to try store-bought soup, be sure to look for a low-sodium option. Store bought soup tends to be very salty.

7. Avocado

This fruit, high in mono-unsaturated fats, which are extremely important in a child’s diet, is also a versatile food. Ripe avocados are easily mashable with a fork and can be used as a replacement for mayonnaise or cream cheese on a sandwich or wrap. Squeeze some fresh lime juice in a mashed avocado and add some chopped onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro, and serve a refreshing, flavorful guacamole with fresh sliced vegetables for a nutritious snack.

8. Tempeh

This vegetarian “meat” is made of fermented soybeans. It is an excellent source or protein and can be a delicious alternative to steak or chicken. To make this kid-friendly, try baking it with BBQ sauce or honey-mustard or creating a mock tuna salad using tempeh in place of tuna and avocado or yogurt in place of mayo. Throw in some chopped onions, celery, and pickles to add texture and flavor.


Finding healthy food that both your and your children enjoy can be challenging, but try experimenting with new ingredients, flavors, and textures and you will surely find some staple food choices for your whole family to enjoy!


What is Your Body Type?


Most women have been taught by the media, clothing designers and stylists to think of their bodies as pear-shaped, hourglass-shaped, etc. Men may describe themselves as having a skinny, fat or athletic body type. However, these descriptions are limited to physical attributes and shapes. By learning your body type based upon not only your shape, but also by specific attributes and the way your body operates, you allow yourself to better customize your diet and exercise plans.


Have you ever wondered why the diet and exercise regimen that your husband, wife, friend or co-worker is on works so well for them and does not yield any results for you? Think about his or her body type. Is it similar to yours? Probably not. Different body types react differently to specific exercises and meal choices. The first step in choosing the right workouts and diet plan is to identify your body type. The three basic body types are Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph. While some people can identify their bodies as one of these types, many people are a combination of two. Keep this in mind when trying to identify your body type.



An ectomorph is a person who can simply be described as “skinny”. Ectomorphs are your classic “hardgainers”. They tend to have long, thin limbs and lean, stringy muscles. They typically have small, narrow shoulders and hips. Ectomorphs have very fast metabolisms and are able to overeat while gaining very little, if any, weight. They usually have very low body fat. Ectomorphs naturally weigh less than the other body types and because of this, they will be at the low end of the BMI scale.

For a male, an ectomorph body type will typically mean a small frame, narrow shoulders, long, thin limbs, and small joints. For a female, this body type typically means a delicate bone structure, long, thin limbs, flat or small chest, and narrow hips.

Ectomorphs have trouble gaining weight. They have very fast metabolisms that use a lot of energy and burn up calories more quickly. They need to consume a lot of calories in order to gain weight. An ectomorph’s workouts should be intense but short. They should target big muscles groups in every workout. It is recommended that ectomorphs supplement pre- and post- workout and eat before they go to bed in order to prevent muscle catabolism (wasting of lean muscle tissue) during the night. It is very easy for ectomorphs to lose fat, making cutting very easy. However, an ectomorph is capable of bulking up their bodies if they are willing to put in some hard work.


*Some famous ectomorphs are: Lisa Kudrow, Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Seth Green, and Edward Norton.




An endomorph would typically be described as “soft”. They will typically have a more round body with much of their mass concentrated in their lower body. Endomorphs typically have a higher waist and shorter arms and legs. Their upper arms and legs are more developed than the lower portions. Their hands and feet may be comparatively smaller than those of an ectomorph or mesomorph. Those with endomorphic bodies may have a large head with a broad face. Soft, smooth skin and fine hair are also common traits of endomorphs.


Endomorphs have a slower metabolism when compared to ectomorphs and endomorphs and respectively gain weight more easily. This means they can bulk up quickly when working out. An endomorph will have large legs and will usually find that they are particularly strong in exercises such as squats. Supplementing pre- and post- working is not necessary for endomorphs as long as they can maintain a lean high-protein diet. Endomorphs must be sure to make cardiovascular exercise a large part of their workout routines to burn excess fat. Strength and Weight training are also important in order to maintain a better muscle to fat ratio.


A female endomorph will typically be very shapely with most of her weight being distributed in her hips, butt, legs, and lower abdomen. She will typically have wide shoulders and a large chest. A male endomorph will have a different weight-gaining pattern than a female. A male endomorph will usually carry his weight in his midsection and waist (the spare tire or love handle areas).


*Some famous endomorphs are: John Goodman, Roseanne, Oprah Winfrey, and Jack Black.




Mesomorphs are the classic “athletic” body type. They tend to have large, muscular chests and shoulders with big muscles. They typically have square, large heads. Mesomorphs have average to fast metabolisms and while they must watch what they eat, their muscle mass makes fat-burning easy. Mesomorphs usually have low body fat and will fall around the average range on the BMI scale.

For a male, a mesomorph body type will typically mean a v or rectangle shape. Male mesomorphs will have an average-size frame, broad shoulders and chest and muscular arms and legs. His shoulders will usually be wider than his hips. For a female, this body type typically means an “hourglass” shape. She may also have wider shoulders than hips. A female mesomorph will be naturally lean and muscular.

While mesomorphs may gain wait rather easily, their bodies respond well to exercise. Because more muscle burns more calories, losing fat comes easy for a mesomorph.  Building muscle also comes easy. Because a mesomorph’s body will constantly be burning calories, in order to keep on mass, a mesomorph must be sure to eat properly.  A mesomorph’s workout should consist greatly of cardio to keep body fat percentage low and some strength training to keep muscles lean and defined. It is recommended that ectomorphs supplement pre- and post- workout and eat before they go to bed in order to prevent muscle catabolism (wasting of lean muscle tissue) during the night. With intense weight training, mesomorphs can make very successful competitive body builders and fitness competitors.


*Some famous ectomorphs are: Janet Jackson, Halle Berry, Madonna, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Mark Wahlberg.


Remember, while your body may match one of these types exactly, many people are a mix of two body types. Once you identify your body type(s), you will be able to personalize your diet and workout routine to better suit you for faster, more desirable results.

10 Healthy Grocery Shopping tips

Have you ever heard the common saying, “Weight Loss starts in the kitchen”? This is a great quote to remember when creating a diet plan or trying to convert to a healthier lifestyle. However, before the kitchen comes the grocery store; This, in fact, is where weight loss starts. The idea is quite simple; If you avoid purchasing unhealthy foods and do not have them in your home, you cannot be tempted to eat them! It is helpful to familiarize yourself with the recommended amounts of specific foods before you go shopping. For example, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice per week. If you are familiar with these facts, you will be better and deciding how much of each product to purchase.


Below, you will find 10 helpful tips for more healthy trips to the grocery store.

  1. Plan your healthy meals ahead of time. This will help make grocery shopping easier and limit temptation toward bad foods. Make a list of all the items you will need prior to your trip. This will keep you focused in the store and will help you to avoid wandering the aisles and making poor choices
  2.  Sometimes convenience is worth the extra money. If you cannot make time to cut up fresh fruits and vegetables, most grocery stores sell pre-cut fruits and vegetables in 1 or 2 serving size portions. Buy a box of pre-portioned carrot sticks or apple slices to throw into your lunch bag before work.
  3.  Spend most of your time in the produce section. According the Harvard School of Public Health, the most recent Daily Recommended servings of fruits and vegetables is between five and thirteen servings depending on your caloric needs. The average American only consumes three servings. Choosing produce in a variety of colors will ensure that you are getting a wide range of necessary vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Aim to try a new fruit or vegetable every time you go to the grocery store. You may discover that you like something that you have never tried before!
  4. Shop around the perimeter of the store; This is where fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, and dairy products are found. Avoid the aisles where junk food lurks. Once you become accustomed to your grocery store, you will know which aisles you will need to visit to fulfill your needs. Avoid cracker, chip, cookie and baking needs aisles. The only times you should be in the aisles would be to get nut butters, olive oil, whole grains such as whole oats, quinoa, or brown rice, canned beans and soups (low sodium), and frozen fruits and vegetables.
  5.  Avoid foods with cartoon characters on the labels. This rule may seem silly to those who do not have children, but it is extremely important. Marketing companies design these labels to attract parents to their children’s favorite things. Unfortunately, most foods with cartoon characters on them are loaded with sugar, sodium, chemicals, and preservatives. If the junk food is not in the house, your children most likely will not ask for it.
  6.  Try to purchase foods with less than 5 ingredients. Aim to buy foods that are 100% natural with as little processing and as few additives as possible. Avoid artificial ingredients, preservatives, and ingredients you cannot pronounce. (For more help with this, check out our article “Reading Labels”.)
  7.  Avoid the drink aisle. Many marketing companies have gotten really good at selling their drinks by advertising them as “rich in vitamins” or “zero calories”. Water has zero calories and your diet should be rich in vitamins. Many drinks, such a flavored waters, sports drinks, and carbonated beverages contain extremely high amounts of sugar or sweeteners and are surprisingly high in calories. If you can simply cut these drinks out of your diet, you will be reducing your daily calorie intake greatly.
  8. Avoid buying snacks. If you do not buy snack foods such as pretzels, chips, trail mixes, and dried fruits, you will not be tempted to eat them. Instead, if you get the craving for a snack, you will be forced to snack on something healthy like fresh fruits or vegetables.
  9.  Eat before you go shopping! So many people make the mistake of going grocery shopping on an empty stomach and they wind up buying food that they may be craving at the moment. If you go to the store satiated, it will be easier to keep your focus on the things you should be buying.
  10.  Spend some time in the condiment aisle. Eating new foods should be exciting and what is more exciting then foods bursting with flavor? Using new spices and sauces will allow you to stray away from the less-healthy condiments such as mayo, butter, margarine, and creamy salad dressings. Experiment with new flavors. However, when trying new seasonings or sauces, be aware of the sugar and sodium contents. Many mixed spices contain high amounts of sodium. Look for a low-sodium or no salt added option if possible.


If you follow these ten rules, your trips to the grocery store will be quicker, healthier, and much more successful. It also may save you money!


For more information about making healthier choices, check out our articles on proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Protein Supplementation

by: Santino Pasalano



While protein is one of the most important aspects of your diet, it is also the hardest to fit in considering most of it has to be cooked. Thats where supplementation comes in. There are hundreds of protein supplements out there and choosing one can be very intimidating. Below is a list of all different protein supplement types, a brief description about them, and some of my personal favorites. This will help you to choose which supplement is best for you. Keep in mind when looking for a protein supplement, make sure you read the label and try to choose a protein that is free of artificial ingredients like sweeteners, preservatives or colors.



Whey Protein:

             Whey protein is by far the most popular of all the protein sources and it comes with great merit. Whey has one of the best amino acid complexes of all the proteins and is also easily digestable. Whey has one of the highest Biological Value (BV) ratings. Meaning that almost all of the protein consumed is utilized by the body. Whey’s BV rating is 96 out of 100, for reference beef is 74 and chicken is 65.There are two main types of whey protein on the market today. Whey protein concentrate, and Whey protein isolate. Whey protein concentrate is made by pushing the protein source (milk whey) through a filtration system catching almost everything but the protein. In this process a small amount of fat and cholesterol makes it through the filters and into the final product. Whey isolate is taken one step further and ran though another filtration system to strip away the remainder of the fat and cholesterol leaving you with nothing but pure whey protein. Since whey isolate is more pure than whey concentrate it will digest faster making it ideal for a post workout protein shake. Some of my favorite whey proteins are: Solgar chocolate flavored whey protein, BioChem Chocolate flavored whey protein isolate, Whey Factors Strawberry or vanilla and most of the Tera’s Whey protein are good as well if you like stevia.



Soy Protein:

            Soy protein is a great source of protein and is a great alternative to whey protein for vegetarians. One of the benefits of soy protein is its amino acid complex. Like whey, soy is considered a “complete” protein, meaning that is has the full range of amino acids that your body needs from protein. The downside to soy protein is that it tends to have a chalky consistency. For a good soy protein I recommend Now Foods chocolate Soy Protein.





Hemp Protein:

            While hemp protein is a great source of protein, it tends to be gritty and many people do not like the taste. I like to use hemp protein in smoothies or recipes requiring protein. I recommend Nutiva organic hemp protein.



Pea and other plant based proteins:

            Similar to soy pea and other plant proteins tend to be very chalky when mixed. I would only recommend using these kinds of protein if you are a vegetarian and can not use whey.