All-Inclusive Vacations

I’m back!  Sorry for the delay in postings.  My husband and I were off on a little babymoon, one last vacation before she arrives!  We went to Florida for a few days to visit his family and my grandma and then to Mexico for some relaxation!

We stayed at the beautiful Royal Hideaway in Playa Del Carmen, and we couldn’t have been happier with our decision.  It was an all-inclusive resort, with fantastic food, great service, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

On vacation, I think it’s important to relax and do things you wouldn’t normally do, however, I think it’s important to keep some of your priorities in mind.  For example, it’s ok to splurge a little more than you wouldn’t normally, but if you eat too much at each meal you will start to feel lethargic and not enjoy yourself as much as you could.  Therefore, maintaining a balance is key.  Here’s how I did it.

Exercise: Even though it’s vacation, I think it’s important to continue being active, especially if you’ll be eating more than you normally do.  Dan and I went on daily walks on the beach (1-2 hours each), which I think is one of the best forms of exercise on a beach vacation!  I hit the gym two times.  The resort offered a 30 minute daily yoga or pilates (it switched every day) which I fit in three days.  They also had a daily pool aerobics class that I took one day, which was fun but I was shivering the whole time (the pool was too cold for me!) so I didn’t take it again.

Food: All-inclusives can be challenging, ours was not as hard as some, since the only buffet meal was breakfast.  Here’s how I handled it:

Breakfast: Everyday I had a bowl of muesli (oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds) mixed with plain yogurt and fat free milk plus a large bowl of fruit (honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, watermelon, grapes, and kiwi).  On the first two days I also took some eggs, but realized it was too much food!  The muesli was incredibly filling, and very tasty.

Lunch: I started out each meal with a salad of some sort, each restaurant had different options.  If it came with cheese and/or avocado, I tried to leave most of it since it was just my appetizer and I don’t normally eat multiple courses for lunch!  But it was a nice way to get in extra veggies.

Three out of the five days I had chicken fajitas.  I ordered them the first day and loved them so much that they become a staple!  The chicken wasn’t greasy at all and it was served with their delicious guacamole.  They were served with three flour tortillas (whole grains at lunch were not an option), some days I ate two some days all three.  Here’s a photo:

One of the other days I went with plain grilled chicken, vegetables and corn.  And one day I had a personal pizza, it was small about the size of a pita bread topped with lots of vegetables and mozzarella cheese, not the best pizza, but it hit the spot!  Even though dessert was an option with lunch (and free!) we never had any, because we knew we would be getting some with dinner.  Again it’s all about balance.

Afternoon Snacks: We actually didn’t snack much, I think it was because our lunches were larger than normal.  But if I did it was usually on fruit (they stocked our rooms with lots of fresh fruit) or nuts (which I found readily available throughout the resort).

Dinner: This was a really fun part of the vacation because we ate at a different restaurant nightly and they were all delicious!  Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures – but what I can say is that I almost always ordered a salad for an appetizer, then for my main dish I had beef tenderloin two times, sea bass once, and a combo of salmon/chicken one night.  We enjoyed dessert but thankfully the portions were tiny – for example 1 Tablespoon of ice cream on top of a 1″ square slice of cake.  They had an asian restaurant with a hibachi grill that made for a really fun night since we sat at a table for 8 people!  That’s the night that I got the combo of salmon and chicken.  We went to a dinner theater one night and the options were fish or beef, so I got the beef since I had already had fish two times (I limit it since I’m pregnant), and the beef was incredibly tasty.

Even though we ate 3 courses every night, I never felt stuffed because the portions were small.  Here’s an example of an appetizer I got the first night – I thought it was going to be more vegetable heavy, but again it wasn’t an issue since there was maybe 1/4 cup of pasta!  This was sliced portobello mushrooms, linguine with a light pesto and shrimp, it was so delicious!

Alcohol: Obviously I did not partake in the alcohol part of the all-inclusive but it’s possible to drink as much as you like!  Alcohol can leave you dehydrated, tired, and more likely to overeat.  I took advantage of their free bottled water, and guzzled it all day long.  When drinking alcohol, stick with light beer and wine, since the mixed drinks can add hundreds of extra calories.  Balance out the drinking with water, and limit how much you have during the day.  Remember, even though it’s all-inclusive you don’t need to go crazy!

So it’s possible to splurge a little but still feel good about yourself.  I left feeling like I handled the all-inclusive aspect very well, indulging here and there but not leaving stuffed.

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Never Skip Breakfast Again!

Breakfast is such an important meal of the day for so many reasons, including:

  • Jump starting your metabolism
  • Providing your body with energy for the day
  • Providing important nutrients (if a healthy one is chosen – such as fiber and calcium)
  • Helping to prevent overeating later on in the day

A common complaint I hear from clients is “I don’t have time!”

Well yesterday, I decided to take advantage of Jamba Juice’s Special $1 Oatmeal on Wednesdays and I was very pleasantly surprised.  They serve delicious steel cut oats that are made in soymilk, and you have your choice of fruit topping and brown sugar.   I got the fresh banana oatmeal since I love bananas in oatmeal, and I added about half the brown sugar.

The steel cut oats (made with soy milk) contain: 220 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 44 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 12 grams sugar and 8 grams protein.  The various fruit toppings and brown sugar will add 40-70 calories each.

With options such as these around, there’s no reason to skip breakfast!   You can also get oatmeal from Starbucks, but I much prefer the steel cut oats that are cooked in a slightly sweet soymilk than plain instant oats.    And you can’t beat the $1 price tag on Wednesdays!

Have you tried Jamba Juice’s Oatmeal?

Sushi while Pregnant

Today is pregnancy talk 🙂  There are a lot of forbidden foods when pregnant.  Last week I told you about deli meats and today it’s sushi.  Sushi is not allowed since raw fish can carry a lot of bacteria causing mom to become sick. While it’s possible that it will not harm your baby, the last thing you want is food poisoning while pregnant!  I’ve written about sushi before, so if you want the low down on calories and nutrition and what to order when eating sushi when not pregnant read this post called “The Inside Scoop on Sushi.”

But don’t fret – you can eat sushi, just not the raw stuff.  You can eat anything with cooked fish and vegetables.  I love sushi, and while I miss eating raw tuna and salmon, I can still satisfy my sushi craving with other alternatives.  Above is a photo of sushi I ate this week from Whole Foods.  It was a brown rice shrimp california roll and totally satisfied my craving.  I ate it with a big bowl of bok choy and an apple for dessert.

Here’s what you can eat:

  • California Rolls
  • Shrimp Rolls
  • Eel Rolls
  • Cooked salmon (i’m seeing this on more menus)
  • Vegetable Rolls
  • Tempura Rolls (shrimp, crab, vegetable – while not the healthiest it’s always fully cooked)

You can order any of these cooked fish varieties as sushi or sashimi.  I love to get an order of edamame and seaweed salad to enjoy with my roll.  I currently alternate between shrimp rolls and eel rolls.

On a personal note pregnancy has been progressing well this week.  The only complaint I have is sleep!  For some reason I have so much trouble sleeping on my side which makes it very hard to sleep at night.  I bought one of those huge body pillows, which helped quite a bit, but I still find myself waking up many times throughout the night.  But I’m happy to say last night’s sleep was infinitely better than the prior few nights, so hopefully tonight will be too!  Other than that I’m feeling great!

I’m now 23 weeks along, I can’t believe how quickly it’s progressing!  My appetite has definitely been increasing, and I’m listening to my body as closely as possible.  As a result I’m eating more during the day (larger snacks and lunch) but then I’m not as hungry at dinnertime.  I prefer eating like this anyway to fuel my activity for the day, and to minimize heartburn (common symptom during pregnancy) when lying in bed at night.

As for my weight, I’m exactly 9 pounds heavier than I was at the start of my 2nd trimester (13 weeks), however 7.5 pounds heavier than I was at the start of pregnancy, not sure exactly why I lost 1.5 pounds from the 6th-13th week.  I weigh myself periodically at home on Fridays, since I find it to be more accurate than at the doctor’s office.  At the doctor’s office I’m wearing all my clothing (and in the winter that’s a lot!) and I go at different times (always after meals), so the fluctuation may not be as true as if I do it on my own at home in the morning before eating or drinking.


Fighting the Winter Cold with Soup

Temperatures are dropping and as a result we’re turning to warm, comforting foods.  Before you turn to foods loaded with cheese, pasta and high fat meats, you may want to think again.  These traditional comfort foods are loaded with calories, fat and refined carbohydrates.  Instead, why not try some soup?!  Soup is warm, filling and quite comforting.

Basic Soup Guidelines

  • Avoid any soups with cream, instead go with a broth-based soup
  • Choose vegetable, chicken or bean based soups rather than cheese or red meat (beef, meatball, pork, sausage) based soups
  • Limit sodium – choose low sodium whenever given an option
  • Read labels – watch out for monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Choose a soup with less saturated fat (if you avoid cream, milk and red meat this shouldn’t be hard!)

Some of my Favorites

Make your Own!

  • Soup is so easy to make, and freezes incredibly well.
  • I love using my immersion blender for pureed soups that seem creamy without any cream!  (ie: butternut squash, parsnip, asparagus, and leek).  You’d be surprised how many vegetables puree up into a beautiful bowl of soup.
  • You don’t need to follow a recipe; just sauté vegetables in a little olive oil (season with salt, pepper, herbs and spices) add low sodium vegetable or chicken broth.  You can add in beans, whole wheat pasta, chicken, whatever you have in your fridge or pantry!
  • Some of my favorite soups to make are lentil, butternut squash, vegetable, white bean and vegetarian chili.

Make it a Meal

  • If it’s a mostly vegetable soup you will want to add some sort of protein to it.  One of my favorite go to additions is a “healthy” grilled cheese.  Take 2 slices of whole wheat bread and add 1 or 2 slices of low-fat cheese, place on a skillet coated with cooking spray and you have a delicious warm and filling lunch.
  • If it’s a bean or chicken based soup then you most likely have enough protein.  You can a side salad and some whole grain crackers for crunch.
  • If you’re out to eat – pairing a cup of soup with a 1/2 sandwich is a great option too!

What is your favorite soup?

FNCE Day #4

Monday morning I woke up with some extra time to spare before heading to the conference.  So I decided to make my breakfast out of the swag I got at the conference the day before:

Breakfast

I had a chocolate vitamuffin topped with a packet of Barney Butter (almond butter) and a packet of dried plums (4 in the packet).  While the breakfast tasted good, it was a bit too sweet for me and would have been better as an afternoon snack.  When I left the hotel I got a medium soy latte to pump up the protein content of my meal:

Latte

I covered all the nutritional components: fiber (vitamuffin & dried fruit), protein (soy milk & almond butter), and healthy fat (almond butter).

The breakfast held me over really well.  Lunch was eaten again at the expo 🙂  I tried to have different foods than the day before – it’s always fun trying new food products!!  And there were tons to try.

In the afternoon I went to two fantastic sessions, the first was blogging & beyond and the second was treatment techniques for eating disorder patients.  I learned a lot during these two sessions.

After these sessions I went to more NE specialty group meetings.  The first was the Author’s meeting and the second was the Internet & Business Technology meeting.  These were some of the most useful sessions.

After the sessions, I met up with my roommate Pam, her brother, and his girlfriend for dinner.  We were staying with them that evening, and leaving the next morning.  The group chose the steakhouse: Capital Grille.  They all love the calamari there so that was the appetizer for the table.  It had spicy peppers in it, and was really delicious!

Here’s my portion, plus I took a little more 🙂

calamari

For my entree, I decided to have steak, especially since I had fish the last few nights and we were at a steakhouse.  However, I was disappointed they didn’t have a petite filet on the menu.  The normal filet mignon was 10 ounces, I asked Pam if she wanted to share and she was very pleased to do so.  The table also ordered steamed asparagus and mashed potatoes.  Here’s my plate:Dinner

We decided to order 2 desserts to take home: cheescake and coconut pie.  I had a small sliver of each when we got back to their house (sorry forgot the photo!).

I felt good about my choices on this day, obviously it’s a little different than I eat normally.  But I made good decisions, and enjoyed all my food!

Nutrition Tidbit:  Steakhouses

  • Start with a house salad, with the dressing on the side to take the edge off your hunger.
  • Choose one thing to splurge on: fried calamari, mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, bacon or creamed spinach.  If you are having more than one, make sure to keep portions small.
  • The portions of meat are too large, opt for a lean cut such as a filet mignon and share with a friend!
  • Aim for 4-6 ounces during the meal.
  • Load up on a healthy green vegetable such as steamed asparagus or spinach to bulk up the meal.

FNCE Day #3

Sunday was the first actual day of FNCE.  The conferences go on for 3 days (Sunday, Monday & Tuesday).  The first lecture was at 8am, so I woke up early to get ready and head out.  The walk from my hotel to the conference center was about 8-10 blocks, and I asked my hotel if there was somewhere to get breakfast on the way, they suggested Caribou Coffee.  I thought the options would be similar to Starbucks, but all they had were pastries.  So I walked out and figured I would find something on my way!  I saw a 7 Eleven, and decided it was probably one of my only choices, so I went in.

7 Elevent

I was pleased to see lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.  By the checkout they also had whole apples and bananas.  Then I spotted some hard-boiled eggs!

Eggs

I was pleased with my overall healthy breakfast choice from 7 Eleven: 2 hard-boiled eggs, yogurt parfait, and a banana.

Breakfast

The yogurt parfait had real blueberries and strawberries in it, the yogurt was vanilla flavored (they didn’t have any plain) and there was a little granola on top.  It clocked in at 210 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 5 grams fiber, 27 grams sugar, 7 grams of protein and 25% calcium.   Not bad for a prepackaged parfait.  With the yogurt I had 1 whole hard-boiled egg and 1 egg white.  Afterwards, I was full so I saved my banana for mid-morning which I enjoyed between sessions.

I first went to a session on Organics which was quite interesting, and then on to a session about Prebiotics and Probiotics.  After the two sessions, I went to the NE booth to help market our fantastic DPG.  I stayed there until my stomach was growling, at which point I headed to the Expo for lunch!!  Since there are so many food samples you can make a meal out of it.  In past years I had lunch first and then went, and didn’t have room to try much.  Amy’s had delicious pizzas plus mac & cheese and tamales.  I tried a few types of new healthier chips, some soups & chili, cheese, strawberries, and kiwis.  Lean Cuisine had a lot of food to sample – 2 types of their frozen dinners in addition to Bertolli ravioli, so I had a plate of their food too.   I ended with an oatmeal cookie made with Promise spread.  Overall I covered all my basis – had some fruits & vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.  There was a lot of delicious food to sample, and I was very full by the time I walked out of the expo!

The afternoon session I attended was called “Child Care Provider’s Role in Preventing Obesity.”  I loved this session!  It’s not an area I work on, but I do love kids and was interested in hearing what the experts had to say.   This session ended at 4:30 and then I went to on of our NE (Nutrition Entrepreneurs) meeting about Private Practice.  A cool thing about NE is that they have 6 specialty groups since people in the group work in many different areas.  The groups are: private practice, authors, speakers, coaches, corporate health & internet/business technology.  The private practice meeting was very inspiring.  At this point my roommate, Pam and I went back to our hotel to get in more comfortable clothes and head to dinner.

We went to a restaurant called: Vesta Dipping Grill, which was recommended by a local herself.  All the food comes with 3 dipping sauces, sounded like a fun concept!  I actually wasn’t starving by the time we got there, I guess I ate more at the expo than I realized?!  I decided to order 2 appetizers when the waiter told me the entrees were “generously sized.”

First, they put delicious bread on the table with roasted garlic!  Yum – I had 1 slice.

Bread

Then the waiter gave us an amuse bouche: southwestern soup

amuse bouch

It was about the size of a shot glass, delicious way to start the meal.

For my 1st appetizer I ordered:  Red and Yellow Beets with humboldt fog goat cheese, sage tempura, candied walnuts, and pumpkin vinaigrette.

Beets

This was amazing!  Beets and goat cheese are two of my favorite foods, but the quality of the goat cheese put it above most I’ve had and the beets were roasted to perfection.  Definitely goes down as one of my favorite beet & goat cheese salads!

Next up: Golden Ponzu Shrimp with soy butter, jalapeno ponzu and sambal (the 3 dipping sauces).

Shrimp

I was a surprised when this dish came out deep-fried!  But it was my fault since I didn’t ask – something I tell all my clients to do.  But after the first bite, I wasn’t really disappointed.  It was incredibly delicious.  If I had known it was fried, I wouldn’t have ordered a salad with cheese since both are high in fat – but once in a while it’s no big deal.  I ate every bite of both appetizers and enjoyed the dinner immensely.

My friend Pam ordered: coconut masala grilled tofu steak with pistachio-apricot rice, roasted-tomato spinach salad (I’m not sure which sauces she got).  But here’s a photo:

tofu

She loved it – and said she had never had a “tofu steak” before!

All in all it was a great day.  We crashed that evening, and knew we had another big one ahead of us.

Nutrition Tidbit:

  • Even when you are confident that you know how a restaurant dish is prepared – still ask!
  • Just say “can you describe how this dish is prepared?”
  • Then there will be no mistakes of what you will get.

FNCE Day #2

Saturday morning I woke up after a very restful night sleep, bright and early to head to our Nutrition Entrepreneurs board meeting.  Our room was reserved from 7:30 – 3:30, where we would have breakfast & lunch and go through all our agenda items.

I walked in to this spread:

Breakfast

Juice, Bagels with cream cheese, jam & jelly

Breakfast

Yogurt (yoplait sweetened), dried fruit, milk, cereal (cheerios, multigrain cheerios, total, wheaties) and fruit (berries, honeydew, cantaloupe & watermelon)

Here’s my plate:

My Breakfast

I decided to go with a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with 1/3 less fat cream cheese (I was surprised to see that as an option!); plenty of fruit, and a glass of skim milk (for protein).

My colleagues either went for cereal bowls or bagels.   I knew a simple bowl of cereal, would not fill me up, and I was hungry!

Mid-morning I snacked on a little more fruit.

Around 12pm, our lunches were delivered.  We had ordered ahead of time, and I got a veggie sandwich.  Here was the box:

Lunch

My sandwich included: grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomato and boursin cheese on focaccia bread.  The bread was huge!! I think it was close to 4 ounces.  I immediately got rid of the top half of the bread, and ate the sandwich open faced:

Sandwich

The veggies were surprisingly not very oily, and I loved the combination with the boursin cheese.  I ate the apple with the sandwich.  I tried the pasta salad, but did not like it.

Throughout the afternoon I snacked on the chips (not typical for me to eat regular chips, but they were yummy!) and the cookie.  Definitely some boredom eating…but I didn’t feel bad about it.  Sometimes chips & cookies are fine, if you normally eat healthy foods.  And if you were wondering if the others ate the chips & cookies – well I didn’t stare and analyze what others ate but I’d say a good majority had at least one of the treats, if not both!

The meeting wrapped up around 4pm, and we headed directly to the opening session where both the ADA President and Suze Orman spoke.  Wow – Suze Orman was inspiring to listen to!  I think tons of dietitians were taking notes on how they can have more money 🙂 The opening session finished at 6pm, and we had to go directly to a networking event that our group (Nutrition Entrepreneurs) was hosting with another DPG (dietetic practice group) called DBC (Dietitians in Business & Communication).  We hosted a joint networking social, and it was a blast!  There were 300 people at the cocktail party and there was tons of food!  I took photos for you to see.

Chicken Skewers

Great presentation, right?  Sesame crusted chicken skewers with asian coleslaw.

Chicken Skewer

I had one, and ate all of the coleslaw which was light & refreshing.  I had one piece of chicken which was good, but there were too many sesame seeds and it was a tad on the dry side.

bruschetta

Assorted Bruschetta

Cheese

Cheese

Vegetables

Vegetables

Mashed Potato Topping Bar

Mashed Potato Topping Bar.  They had mashed yukon gold potatoes, purple potatoes, and yams that they put in a martini glass and you added your own toppings.  Loved this idea!  I was full after my first plate of food though, so I didn’t have any.

There were some other things I didn’t get photos of: more cheese with crackers, smoked salmon appetizer, 3 types of dips with pita, cajun chicken skewers and probably a few other things!

Here’s my plate of food:

My Plate

I had 2 triangles of pita with some hummus (the hummus was one of the best parts, not sure what they put in it!), 1 cajun chicken skewer (I did not like this at all, and left it), vegetables (grilled asparagus, white asparagus, zucchini, pepper, a few pieces of cheese (pecorini & cheddar), bean bruschetta, and fruit.  It doesn’t seem like a lot but with the chicken skewer and coleslaw from earlier I was full and knew I wanted to save room for dessert!

Dessert

They had a lot of mini desserts to choose from plus fruit.  The berries were so delicious!  I also chose the mini chocolate chip cheesecake and a chocolate mousse.  Both were fantastic, I finished the event full but satisfied and not overly stuffed.

Just to let you know I did not drink this weekend.  Being 1 mile in the sky, you are already prone to dehydration and some “icky” feelings; I didn’t want to add to that!