Under 200 calories per serving and a good source of fiber, these filling muffins make a great on-the-go breakfast. This recipe uses fresh, sweet dates and shredded carrots to cut down on the amount of added sugar. Unsweetened applesauce eliminates the need for oil while keeping them tender and delicious.
Tips for the cook: The coconut topping goes well with the carrot, but it is optional. You can bake the muffins with no topping at all, or substitute the coconut with heart-healthy walnuts or sunflower seeds for crunch.
Yield: 6 muffins
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
10 fresh dates (such as Medjool dates)
1 cup shredded carrot (about 2 small carrots)
¼ cup raw sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
2 tbsp raw sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 6-muffin baking pan, or half of a 12-muffin pan with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray.
Add the dates to a small food processor and pulse until finely chopped. You can also chop them finely with a knife. Add the dates to a large mixing bowl.
To the mixing bowl, add the carrots and the raw sugar. Stir the mixture, breaking up the dates so that they are evenly distributed throughout the shredded carrot. Stir in the egg and applesauce, mix well. Add the vanilla.
Next, stir in the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt until the ingredients are combined. Slowly stir in the flour, just until all the ingredients are incorporated.
Transfer the batter to the prepared muffin pan. Fill each of 6 muffin slots with about ½ cup of the batter.
In a small bowl, stir together the coconut, sugar, and cinnamon. Top each muffin with about 2 teaspoons of the mixture. Gently press it into the batter so that it sticks to the muffin top as it bakes.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. If necessary, slide a knife gently around the outside edge of each muffin to loosen it, and then remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition information for 1 muffin: Calories 197; Total Fat 2.7 g; Saturated Fat 1.2 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 60 mg; Sodium 301 mg; Carbohydrate 39.2 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 22.8 g; Protein 5.3 g
Trans fatty acids are formed when oils are exposed to high heat and high pressure in the presence of hydrogen gas, a process called hydrogenation. This makes an unsaturated fat more solid at room temperature, which extends its shelf life and improves texture in processed foods.
Are trans fatty acids unhealthy?
It was once thought that these fats were better than saturated fats because they were unsaturated. We now know that trans fats increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and they decrease HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), a dangerous combination that increases risk for heart disease.
What foods contain trans fatty acids?
Trans fat can be identified in foods as partially hydrogenated oils. Any product that lists partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredients list will contain trans fatty acids. The good news is that due to increased awareness and nutrition labeling laws, fewer foods contain trans fat, and intake has decreased in recent years.
Fried foods (French fries, fish sticks, fried chicken)
Margarine and vegetable shortenings
Chips and crackers
Small amounts of trans fat occur naturally in meat and dairy products. According to The Mayo Clinic, the trans fats in processed food formed through hydrogenation appear to be more harmful than the small amounts of naturally occurring trans fat.
How much trans fat can I eat?
The Institute of Medicine recommends that trans fat intake be as low as possible. The American Heart Association recommends that trans fat be 1% or less of your total daily calorie intake.
Should I rely on food labels for trans fat information?
Since 2006, the Food and Drug Administration has required food manufacturers to list trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label. Unfortunately, if the food contains fewer than 0.5 grams per serving, the FDA allows manufacturers to say that the item contains 0 grams of trans fat. These small amounts that slip through the cracks add up. The only way to play it safe is to read the ingredients and exclude foods that contain hydrogenated oils. Better yet, choose minimally processed foods for the bulk of your diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and cereals, beans and legumes, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and nuts and seeds.
The direct link between water intake and weight loss is a topic of debate. While past beliefs that water flushes fat from the body lack scientific support, some studies do show that water can influence your weight in other ways. These are a few things we know about water, hydration, health, and weight loss.
About 55-60% of your body weight is water, which helps with temperature regulation, cardiovascular function, waste removal, and metabolism. To function at its best, the body needs to be well-hydrated.
Due to water loss through sweat, dehydration can quickly set in during exercise – especially in hot and humid weather. Dehydration leads to fatigue and poor exercise performance. This reduces the amount of time and the intensity at which you can exercise, decreasing overall calorie burn.
Drinking large amounts of water can result in hyponatremia (low sodium). When drinking too much plain water, electrolytes (especially sodium) are transported from the blood and tissues into the small intestine, resulting in a dangerous electrolyte imbalance.
One small study showed that following water intake, metabolic rate increases and remains elevated for over an hour. One reason for this increased calorie burn is thought to be the energy needed for the body to heat the water.
Another study, published in the journal Obesity, found that increased water intake was linked to decreased weight, waist circumference, and body fat in overweight women who were on a weight loss plan.
Thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. Water may help reduce hunger, which can reduce overall calorie intake.
Sipping water provides a distraction to reduce mindless snacking.
Replacing beverages that contain calories with water will lower total calorie intake.
Peas are a source for plant-based omega-3 fatty acids as well as manganese, folic acid, fiber, and vitamin B6. In this recipe, fresh peas are quickly blanched to retain their crisp texture, and then mixed with a seasonal pesto made with basil, green onions, and walnuts.
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
20 large, fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green onions, white and green portions chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups fresh spring peas
In a small food processor, add the basil, garlic, onions, walnuts, and cheese. Pulse four to five times, until the basil and vegetables are chopped. Pour in the olive oil, and add the salt and pepper. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and resemble a spread. Set aside.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan. Meanwhile, prepare a medium-sized bowl with 3 cups of ice water. Once the water in the saucepan boils, add the peas and cook for 60 seconds.
Remove the peas from heat, and drain them through a colander. Transfer the peas quickly to the cold water for 30 seconds. Pour the peas back into the colander to drain the cold water.
Transfer the peas to a medium bowl and add the pesto. Stir to coat the peas in the pesto. This dish can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.
Nutrition information for one serving (1/2 cup): Calories 178; Total Fat 12.2 g; Saturated Fat 2.9 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 2 mg; Sodium 112 mg; Carbohydrate 12.2 g; Fiber 4.2 g; Sugar 3.8 g; Protein 6.3 g
Do you think you need a diet pill to lose weight? Here are seven reasons why the dangers of diet pills far outweigh the benefit of any potential weight loss.
There is no guarantee.
Dietary supplements do not require approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being sold to the public. With so many companies and products, it is easy for unsafe ingredients to find their way into popular diet pills, going unnoticed until adverse reactions are reported to the FDA.
They can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
The main ingredient in many diet pills are stimulants that have been found to increase risk for heart attack and stroke. Often these stimulants are prescription level drugs that have been banned from the market, but they illegally make their way back into these pills due to poor regulation of dietary supplements.
You can become addicted.
Diet pills often contain amphetamines, anti-anxiety drugs, and antidepressants. Not only is this a dangerous mix, but these drugs are also highly addictive.
You may experience multiple side effects.
Some diet pills contain fat blockers that decrease nutrient absorption and cause stomach upset. Other reported side effects of diet pills include constipation, headaches, and mood swings.
Labels are full of false claims.
Don’t believe every claim you read on the labels of dietary supplements. In a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an analysis of 127 dietary supplements (including weight loss pills) found that 20 percent made illegal claims on the labels stating that the product cured or treated disease.
They are ineffective.
Many diet pills are simply a combination of caffeine and other diuretics, which cause water loss. Initially this results in a lower number on the scale, but this is not true fat loss and the water weight will return. Additionally, extreme water loss due to diet pills can cause dangerous dehydration.
You won’t change your habits.
Long term weight loss requires a change in your eating and exercise habits to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Taking a pill as a quick-fix method does not encourage you to gain a better understanding of how foods and exercise affect your weight. You are less likely to check food labels, record your food intake, and fit in your exercise if you think a pill is going to do the work for you. Taking pills forever is not sustainable and once you stop, you’ll be back to your poor habits and initial weight.