13 Healthy snack ideas for weight loss

Friday, September 30, 2011 6:22
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To help you stay within your weight loss goals we have gathered 13 healthy snacks for weight loss you can safely try out without the risk of gaining extra weight. The usual source of those extra and often unhealthy calories is the ‘snack time’. I like to say that healthy or not if you can avoid snacks then do avoid them all together. If you are following a healthy balanced diet plan then you don’t need to snack; you are providing your body with enough calories and food to take you through the day.

However, I must admit that it is not always that simple. I am the first to put my hand up and say that I forever struggle to have nice, easy, healthy snacks which will not topple my calorie counter.

After long planning, I have collected 13 healthy snacks for weight loss to try out. I am employing a ‘kiss’, ‘marry’ ‘avoid’ system. I am actually stealing this phrase from a British TV series but I think it works great when it comes to choosing foods. So for my version of choosing snacks ‘kiss’ means eat in moderation; it could be that they are either high in calories or may not be as good if consumed in large amounts. ‘Marry’ as much as you like and it is for life (these are the best snacks for weight loss) and ‘avoid’ I think is self-explanatory.

Healthy snack foods for weight loss

1. Vegetables. (Marry)

Vegetables can make a great snack. They are low in fat and depending how you have them they can be very low in calories. There is a huge variety of vegetables and there are numerous different ways in having them as a snack which means that they can cover most tastes. You can eat them raw, cut them into sticks or as part of a small salad or grill them, boil them and so on.

Above all most vegetables are full of fibre, minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and so on. In simple words they can be all around rich in nutrients and can be very beneficial to health.

Why Not…cut carrots, celery cucumber and peppers into strips and have them with homemade salsa (pre-prepared dips can be high in sugars and preservatives).

Why Not… slice courgettes (zucchini) aubergine and peppers and grill them. You can eat them on their own or with some low fat cheese.     

2. A bag of salad (Marry)

Ok technically it is the same as vegetables. This snack is for those who pick and are likely to go for a packet for crisps. Someone will argue that picking on a bag of salad is not the same as picking on a bag of crisps. Well no it is not, salad is healthy, very low in calories, contains water which help you keep hydrated, does not contain massive amounts of trans fats, or salt. I can go on and on… I personally think is tasty as well.

3. Dried mixed nuts (Kiss)

Another healthy snack for weight loss, which can be nutrient rich, is easy and can make you feel full. However, dried nuts can be rich in fat and calories, so do eat them in moderation. For example 187g of mixed nuts can contain 800kcal, which could be half of your daily calorie needs and can contain 70g of fat, so aim for just a handful. In addition, many of the mixed nuts sold in shops may be roasted in vegetable oils, which can increase trans-fat content, or contain large amounts of salt. Read the label and try to aim for the dry roasted, without added salt or uncooked.

Nutritional values, as well as calorie content will depend on the type of nuts you choose and how they have been prepared. The below table includes an example of some of the nutritional information for dry roasted mixed nuts with no added salt.

Nutrition data for dry roasted mixed nuts, no added salt. (187g serving)
Calories 814kcal
Total Fat 70g Of which saturated 9g
Total carbohydrate 35g
Fiber 12g
Protein 24 g
Folate 68.5mcg
Calcium 95.9mg
Iron 5.1mg
Magnesium 308mg
Zinc 5.2mg
Phosphorus 596mg
Potassium 818mg
Sodium 16.4mg

Nutrient data taken from out diet and exercise planner

4. Fruit (Kiss)

You must have heard from just about everywhere how important it is to eat loads of fruit and veg. so it may come as a surprise that I actually say in moderation instead of eat ample. Fruit are packed with nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants and minerals and undoubtedly there should be part of a healthy balanced diet. My ‘in moderation’ does not mean now and then and if you can have a fruit a day please do.

The only issue with fruits is that they can contain quite a lot of sugars. Sugar content as well as nutrient content will depend on the kind of fruit. Do include them in your daily diet having a large variety, and do have them as a snack, however, do not base your diet in large amount of fruit as you may find yourself consuming quite a lot of sugar.

Moreover, be aware that just because a food item contains a fruit is not always a healthy option. For example an apple pie is not a fruit or a healthy weight loss snack.

Why Not…Have a bowl of fruit salad. Try avoiding adding sugar or fruit juice from a carton or bottle. Use the juices of the fruit or squeeze an orange. You can sprinkle a few seeds and/or dried nuts (remember in moderation).

 Why Not…Freeze fruit and use them to blend them into a refreshing smoothie or to replace an ice cream craving. 

5. Olives (Marry)

I must say that olives are my favourite and I can eat the whole big jar in one sitting. If you do eat them to that extend they can add up to a lot of calories but if you just have them as a snack or to complement a salad then they are great. Olives is a main element of a Mediterranean type of diet and they are in general low in carbohydrate content and a source of monosaturated fats. Olives also contain a variety of different nutrients and they do come in a large variety of sizes, and kinds which means you have different tastes to choose from.

Why Not…enhance the taste of olives and make them more interesting. Keep them in a jar with olive oil and add garlic and herbs, or vinegar or even chilli (allow a couple of days the different tastes to blend).    

6. Cheese (Kiss)

Again with cheese you have loads of variety and tastes so you can find what rocks your taste buds. It can be high in saturated fats and calories depending on the type of cheese. As a general rule white cheeses tend to be lower in fat. That does not mean that you cannot enjoy the rest just keep it in moderation. In addition, be aware that some blue cheeses may have a strong smell and may not be the best snack choice in a working environment.

In general, be aware of the fat content and how much cheese you consume. You can combine cheese with some rye crackers or olives or a piece of ham and it will make a good healthy and easy snack.

7. Yogurt (Kiss)

Similarly to cheese be aware that it can be high in saturated fat content but can get the low fat versions. Go for natural yogurts and try to avoid the fruity or the ones which come in different tastes (i.e. toffee, vanilla etc) as in general they tend to have preservatives and sugars and do try adding loads of sugar in it or different fruit sauces, marmalade and so on.

Yogurt can be an easy and versatile healthy snack solution.

Why Not…Make your own fruit yogurt by adding fresh fruit.

Why Not… freeze mixed yogurt with fruit and have it instead of a sweet snack or on a hot summer’s day. 

8. Fizzy zero (Kiss)

By fizzy zero I mean all the fizzy drinks which have zero sugar. You may not necessarily want something to eat but do want something to taste. Moreover, thirst can sometimes be mistaken with hunger and is good to have a drink first before attacking the snacks. Ideally is best to have water but I totally understand that some people like to have a tastier drink. If you are a fan of fizzy drinks the ones in the zero or diet category usually contain miniscule amount of calories.

Do not go overboard with them as they do contain sweeteners and there has been quite a lot of controversy regarding their safety in terms of health. But do keep well hydrated through the day and don’t wait until you are thirsty to have a drink. My first recommendation again will be water and do keep fizzy drinks at bay.

9. Freshly squeezed juice (Marry)

I had a friend who used to substitute her breakfast and snacks with a freshly squeezed juice. I wouldn’t recommend going as far as that but you can definitely use it as a snack. As mentioned above is important to keep hydrated and thirst can be mistaken with hunger.

Try to avoid pre-packed juices as they are high in sugars and preservatives and quite honest fruit have lost most of their nutrients by the time it reached your glass.

Try mix mixing fruit and veg. together for less sugar content instead of just fruit. You can get a juicing book or even just search through the internet and you’ll see there is a plethora of different recipes.

10. Rye crackers (Kiss)

I call rye crackers my saviours and they are a sort of a lifeline for me. I always carry a few in my bag and I snack on them through the day. I spend most of my working day in my car and don’t always have time for lunch so rye crackers are there for all day snacking, stomach settling, boredom munching and so on.

However, they can contain a lot of carbohydrates although it is less than a slice of bread and they tend to have low GL (glycemic index). You can combine them with a piece of cheese or ham or olives for a nice easy snack but try not to consume them in large amounts.

11. Eggs (Marry)

Eggs are not something which is often seen as a snack but more like a meal. Eggs are high in protein and can keep you full for longer. They are fussier to prepare and is not the sort of snack you just pick and go. However, you know you are likely to have a snack in work or through the day you can get them ready in the morning and take them with you. Hard boiled eggs can be a fast and filling snack.

Why Not…Have an ‘eggy’. This is my favourite egg snack and my grandmother used to make for me when I was a child. Part boil (leave the yolk runny)2 eggs. Rough cut them in a bowl and mix with a piece of toast or 2 rye crackers. Add salt & pepper to taste and 1tsp of olive oil. Mix it all up.

It doesn’t look as good but it tastes divine. Be aware it can be high in calories. 

12. Ham (Kiss)

A packet of ham can provide an easy and quick high protein snack. Different types can be processed and high in fat. Try to opt for fresher types, lean and maybe roasted or boiled. In general if it comes out of a tin tends to be processed, with added sugars and preservatives. Use ham in moderation.


13. Bread free sandwich (for desperate times)

This is actually a trick I tend to do when I am desperate for something to eat. There are many of times where I find myself in the middle of a village with just a convenient store in site and I need to get a snack which I can eat while driving. If my only option is a sandwich I tend to get something which is easy to eat, like chicken salad, chicken and bacon, I remove the bread and eat only the filling.

Is not the best snack option and pre-packed sandwiches from shops may contain sauces such as mayonnaise, sugars, salt etc. Not the healthiest of all, and not the most economical, but this is a desperate solution. If you can’t find anything else and you are desperate try that trick and you will be improving the carbohydrate and calorie profile of a sandwich.

The above 13 healthy snack ideas for weight loss are only a suggestion and you are always advised to consult a medical professional before making dietary changes if you have any health issues or concerns.

Q & A with our Resident Chef : Homemade Mayo

Friday, September 9, 2011 15:40
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Recent question from our “Ask Chef Silvia” feature:

Name: tom
Message: My mayo won’t emulsify. Any thoughts? I’m using a blender.
State: FL
Submitted On: 2011-09-06 15:00:13

Hi Tom,
Yes. Usually when something won’t emulsify it’s because you are adding the oil too quickly. Try adding the oil in drips, especially in the beginning. You can quicken the drip into a steady stream once the mayo begins to thicken.

Thanks for asking,

Chef Silvia

5 Best weight loss programs for women

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 13:23
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Wondering which are the best weight loss programs for women? Which diets or weight loss solutions can generate the best, the healthiest, the safest and the faster results?  The majority of our readers are women and very often we get comments asking the same questions. For the last couple of weeks we started a research project to find out which are the top 5 ways for women to lose weight. There are a plethora of weight loss programs, diets, supplements and weight loss pills circulating the market and we have selected the top 5 that meet our criteria (see below) and that are best suited for women. We have many times provided weight loss tips for women to help them lose weight without engaging into any weight loss program but in this post we are going to examine in detail the weight loss programs that are worth considering.

Our Criteria for choosing the best weight loss program for women

To compile our criteria for choosing the best program we have considered the following:

The dietary guidelines for Americans – The US government department of health published in 2010 the dietary guidelines for Americans. The guide provides advice on the different aspects of weight loss including diet, recommended calorie intake and exercise. The weight loss programs selected below adhere to these standards.

Healthy and safe weight loss: We have said many times that our goal is to help you lose weight in a healthy and safe way. We do not like crash diets, fad diets, suspicious products or anything that does not promote healthy and permanent weight loss.

A program that works and can be followed by the majority of women:  Many weight loss solutions can generate results but not for the average women. They can work for celebrities or fit women but not for women of all ages and body type. Our goal was to present you with programs that you can follow and above all programs that will generate the results YOU want. Both men and women have weight problems but in general women are more anxious to lose weight. We wanted the programs to be ‘women friendly’ and take into account the different life stages that a woman has to undergo in her life (period, wedding, pregnancy, and menopause).

Recommended calorie intake for women

Before getting into the details of each weight loss program is it worth noting the recommended calorie intake for women as well as the distribution between the 3 main food groups. The recommendations are provided by the dietary guidelines for Americans.

Daily calorie intake

Women between the ages of 21-25: 2,000 calories

Women between the ages of 26-50: 1,800 calories

Women over 50: 1,600 calories

Food group distribution

Fat: 20%-35%

Carbohydrates: 45%-65%

Protein: 10%-35%

5 Top weight loss programs for women

In order of importance, these are the top 5 weight loss programs for women that in our opinion are worth considering.

1. Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is not just another commercial diet but it is a lifestyle that promotes healthy eating and healthy living. It is a natural weight loss program that was nominated by UNESCO as the world’s healthiest diet. The Mediterranean diet is a mixture of the cultures and dietary preferences of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean basin and hence this is from where it got its name.

Adherence of the Mediterranean diet to the dietary guidelines for Americans

The Mediterranean diet is a balanced diet and it is in accordance with the dietary guidelines. In fact most of the guidelines suggested are based on Mediterranean diet principles and the majority of the recommended foods are taken from the Mediterranean diet food pyramid. The endorsed distribution of fat, protein and carbohydrates for a healthy diet is:

Fat: 20 -35 %

Protein: 10- 35 %

Carbohydrates: 50 %

The Mediterranean diet adheres perfectly to these standards and the food components that make up med diet make it a heart friendly diet.

Healthy and safe

The Mediterranean diet is above all a healthy and safe diet. It is a statistical fact that people who live in the Mediterranean basin (Greeks, Italians etc.) live longer and have less incidents of cancer and cardiovascular diseases than Americans. It is not a restrictive diet and can be safely followed by men and women of all ages.

A program that works and can be followed by the majority of women:

The vast selection of food choices available in med diet makes it a perfect choice for women. Med diet gives more emphasis to fruits and vegetables, olive oil, legumes, fish, whole grains and less emphasis to red meat, processed food and other fatty and non- natural products. Since our goal is weight loss we should take into account that to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than what you need. The Mediterranean diet does a good job in this aspect as well since the average calories in each meal are around 1500 (of course this depends on the foods selected but as a rule of thumb the average is around this number) . The recommended daily intake for women between 20-25 years is 2000 calories, for women between 26-50 years is 1800 calories and for women over 50 is 1600 calories. So, a daily intake of around 1500 calories will create a calorie deficit that will gradually lead to weight loss in a natural way.

2. 17 day diet

Unlike the Mediterranean diet, the 17 day diet is not a natural diet but a commercial diet. This means that the sole purpose of the 17 day diet is to help you lose weight. It is not a lifestyle but it has a beginning and an end.  This weight loss program consists of 4 phases, with each phase lasting 17 days.

The main concept behind this program is calorie cycling. Dr Moreno, the diet author, suggests that with calorie cycling you aid your metabolism and keep away boredom while dieting.

In brief the different phases of the 17 day diet program are:

Phase 1 – “The accelerate cycle”: At the first stage you are allowed to consume protein type foods in unlimited quantities and small amounts of fat provided that you daily calorie intake is around 1200 calories. This is the stage where you will experience fast weight loss.

Phase 2 – “The activate cycle”: You decrease the amount of fat and increase the amount of carbs. Typical calorie intake is 1500 calories per day.

Phase 3- “The achieve cycle”: You are allowed to eat almost any type of food but in moderation

Phase 4-“The arrive cycle”: This is the maintenance part where you are supposed to watch your weight and follow phases 1-3 when in problem.

Adherence of the 17 day diet to the dietary guidelines for Americans

The 17 diet is not a bad diet. Phases 1 and 2 are not according to standards but phase 3 is a rather balanced phase. We have selected this diet to be part of our best weight loss programs for women because many women want fast results in a short period of time and phases 1 and 2 can give you the results you want in 34 days. The tricky part is to keep the weight off when you are entering phases 3 and 4 and this is where you need discipline.

The 1200 calorie diet plan introduced in phase 1 is the minimum you can go and since it is only for 2 weeks there are no serious implications. We have also presented our 1200 calorie diet for women in the past.

Healthy and safe

Although going as low as 1200 calories per day may not be suitable for some people we believe that for the average woman it should not create any problems (provided of course that you are not pregnant or suffering from any disease or disorder). Phases 2 and 3 are according to safety guidelines and the overall instructions provided in the 17 day diet book do not engage any health risks. The calorie cycling is indeed a way to kick start your metabolism and since each phase is only 17 days it does not create any other side effects.

A program that works and can be followed by the majority of women:

You can get results by following this program provided that you do it correctly and by the book. What many women like about this diet is the fact that is has a clear start and end points. You know from advance that you will enter a diet for 68 days. After that period you evaluate your results and decide the way forward. We did research into various forums and read the experiences of people who followed this diet and most of them did manage to lose weight and most importantly they manage to keep the weight off. Those that failed to do so did not follow the complete set of instructions but they tried a hybrid diet which at the end made them fail.

3. Dukan Diet

We first came across the Dukan Diet right after the media around the world ‘announced’ that this was the diet followed by Kate Middleton before the Royal wedding. This world’s interest drove our curiosity to find out more about the Dukan diet and we decided to include it as one of the top 5 weight loss programs for women.

The Dukan diet is a ‘phase diet’ similar to Atkins and 17 day diet but it’s main idea is to take care of what you eat rather than the quantity of the food you eat.  For this purpose the diet has a long list of foods you are allowed to consume at each stage. It is not an open diet where you choose what to eat (provided that you are within a certain calorie range) but it is a ‘closed diet’ in the sense that you are given a list of the foods to eat. In brief the 4 stages of the Dukan Diet are:

Preparation Phase – get ready by eating only protein type foods.

Weight Loss Phase – eat protein and fiber and lose weight.

Protective Phase – start eating foods from carbs, fats and protein and watch your weight

Maintenance phase – Eat healthy foods from all food groups.

The 2nd phase does not have a specific timeframe but it all depends on the amount of weight you want to lose.

Adherence of the Dukan diet to the dietary guidelines for Americans

As with the 17 day diet the first 2 phases of the Dukan Diet do not fully comply with the suggested standards because they restrict certain food items from your daily diet and promote low calorie meals which are sometimes below the average. The 3rd and 4th stage though is according to standards and best practices. The list of healthy foods suggested by the Dukan Diet has the same characteristics as the foods suggested in the dietary guidelines.

Healthy and safe

It can become unhealthy if you over do it. Restricting food groups from your diet for a long time is not healthy or recommended. If on the other hand you follow phase 1 and 2 for a reasonable amount of time (a couple of weeks) then you minimize the possible dangers.

A program that works and can be followed by the majority of women:

The Dukan Diet worked for Kate Middleton and many other celebrities and it can work for you as well. It needs some preparation work to ensure that you have in stock the foods items you are allowed to eat but if you are really determined to lose weight using the Dukan diet then certainly you can do it.

4. Slim-fast weight loss program

The slim-fast diet is something like an ‘out of the box’ weight loss solution in the sense that it comes with ready made products (snack bars, shakes, meal bars) that can be used to replace 2 of your main meals (breakfast-lunch) and snacks. This gives you the opportunity to consume up to 500 calories in a meal of your choice for dinner. It is based on a 1200 calorie diet and is best suited for people who need to lose more than 20 pounds.

Adherence of the slim-fast diet to the dietary guidelines for Americans

Since most of the meals and snacks are ready made products by slim-fast, they ensured that the daily intake of fats, protein and carbs is in accordance to the dietary guidelines. In numbers the distribution of fats, protein and carbs from slim-fast products is 20%, 30%, 50%. Their products also provide satisfactory doses of minerals and vitamins.

Healthy and safe

It is a healthy and safe diet to follow. Their products are not considered as supplements but as balanced food items which are both healthy and safe to consume. There are also associated with positive effects on insulin and blood sugar levels.

A program that works and can be followed by the majority of women:

If you follow the slim-fast program by the book it will work. There is no way out since the major meals are composed of slim-fast products that guarantee the amount of calories you consume. Now, there are both advantages and disadvantages to this approach. First it is costly because you will have to order all those slim-fast products and second there is a chance that you will get bored quickly and quit. On the other hand it is a perfect solution for the working woman who does not have the time to cook or organize her meals in advance. If you want a quick solution that is healthy and can generate good results then the slim-fast solution is for you.

5. DASH Diet

Last but certainly not least we have the DASH Diet. The DASH diet is a balanced diet similar to the Mediterranean diet. It is the result of research carried out in 4 medical centers and sponsored by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The main purpose of this diet is to help you lower your high blood pressure through healthy eating practices and lifestyle changes. By eating healthy food and following an active lifestyle you also promote weight loss. It is a diet that can be really helpful especially for women over 40 and 50. The basic principle of the DASH diet for losing weight is the following:  first you need to calculate how many calories you need per day and then you must adjust the calories you consume and the calories you burn so that you constantly create a calorie deficit or ensure that you are not creating a calorie surplus. In other words you need to consume fewer calories than what you burn.

Adherence of the DASH diet to the dietary guidelines for Americans

The DASH diet adheres perfectly to the dietary guidelines.  It is a balanced diet which gives more emphasis on fruits and vegetables and less to fats (saturated), sugars and salt. It is a heart-friendly diet which is proven to lower blood sugar levels and bad cholesterol.

Healthy and safe

Together with the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet is probably among the safest and healthiest diets in the World. People suffering from heart related diseases or hypertension are ‘forced’ to follow the DASH diet for health and weight loss.

A program that works and can be followed by the majority of women:

We already mentioned above that this diet is perfect for women over 40 and it is a very good choice for women of all ages. It is not very difficult to follow as it does not restrict any food groups from your daily meals. All it takes it to be selective on what you eat and in what quantities. You do not need any special preparations on food other than remembering to minimize the consumption of red meat, fats, sugars and salt.


At the time of publishing this post, these are the 5 weight loss programs we believe are more suited to women. For sure there are many other diets and programs that are suitable for women but based on our experience, research and criteria these can produce immediate results. You can also read a previous post on the most popular weight loss diets to get a better view on what is available in the market. What is important is to select a program or diet and stick to it for a number of weeks and then evaluate the results and consider if the particular program can work for you or not. Do not let the fancy marketing advertisements of weight loss products take you over but base your decision on healthy standards and practices.

Our beloved Tomato!

Thursday, August 18, 2011 21:55
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One of our monthly emails a few years ago was all about the tomato (click here to read) – while it was very informative, our resident Chef (Silvia) has a way of expressing her feelings about foods that is quite unique. Here our her thoughts on our beloved tomato…..and a few recipes!

“I think there’s nothing more delicious than a tomato picked at the height of its flavor, and perfectly prepared into one simple, exquisite dish. For me, no ingredient is better equipped for this culinary challenge than a tomato, plucked from its vine just when its juices threaten to burst through the skin forming a crack, as if in testament to its efforts.

Now is the time to celebrate the tomato in all its varieties. Every year at this time I’m so thrilled a tomato actually tastes like a tomato that I go a little crazy, but I just can’t help myself. It’s tomato season in the Northeast and for the next several weeks as they begin to ripen on local vines, I intend to eat as many as I can because – unless I move to a warmer climate – I won’t have this particular pleasure again until next year, so I get a little greedy.

I start my feast by preparing a variety of simple dishes that require little or no cooking. I want to eat them raw, cut in thick slices, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. And when I want something different from this simple preparation, I can add other ingredients that complement – without masking – its starring role; thinly sliced red onions, finely minced garlic, slivered basil, chopped parsley or oregano, bits of kalamata olives, filets of roasted bell peppers or anchovies, sliced raw jalapeños or fried hot peppers, and of course fresh mozzarella.

Besides its obvious culinary delights, the tomato is a divine elixir, a gift from the gods, rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals before they cause damage, thus warding off everything from wrinkles to heart attacks. Who needs to bother with skin care and heart pills when we could just eat tomatoes?

My love affair with this tasty and medicinal fruit has emotional and philosophical benefits for me as well, making it necessary to have at least one vine – even if it’s in single pot on the porch – to care for. Every touch releases the aroma that instantly conjures up the memory of my childhood garden, where I walked between rows and rows of tall vines tied to heavy wood stakes making me feel like I was on a farm instead of wandering in a suburban backyard. And I get a clear picture of my father on his knees, bending over, tenderly caring for them; tying loose branches heavy with ripening fruit, removing yellow leaves, nurturing their growth, and so I can get nostalgic…even a bit melancholy.

Or possibly I’m smitten because whenever I look at a snarly tomato – the ones the market labels “ugly” and charges extra for – I’m reminded that it’s the imperfect tomatoes that taste the best. It helps me accept my own imperfections. Or maybe I’m just being Italian, with a cultural habit of thinking too much.

Whatever the reason for my fascination with tomatoes, right now I plan to indulge in a feast devoted to them. Hope you do too.
Chef Silvia

Simple Tomato Salads
The summer salad we served most often from my childhood garden was randomly diced tomatoes (core and imperfections removed – bite sized pieces) mixed with thinly sliced red onions and basil, seasoned and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. We ate it along with a hunk of rustic bread to lap up the juices. It’s still my favorite. However, after eating tomatoes this way a few times, I decided to add a few things. I had a container of red and yellow bell peppers I roasted the other day so I pulled out a few filets of yellow peppers along with a few kalamata olives that I tore in small bits as well as a thinly sliced raw jalapeno. I mixed all this together, let them mingle a bit while I poured myself a glass of shiraz and sliced a hunk of fresh bread, which is a treat in itself but mandatory as an accompaniment to a tomato salad.

Warm Penne Salad
This flavorful dish was a customer favorite at my former Connecticut restaurant, Biscotti. The reason it tasted so good was because it married two classic dishes, pasta with butter and cheese and a brushetta topping, melding the heat of one with the coolness of the other. For this dish, opposites do attract. You can customize it to your liking but this is how I make it.

For the Topping
3 – 4 “ugly tomatoes” (depending on size)

½ cup seedless kalamata olives – cut in half

1 cup diced fresh mozzarella (medium dice)

4 – 6 large fresh basil leaves – slivered

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (about ¼ cup or to taste)

Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Pasta
1 lb penne (use small shapes like a mini penne or other small cut so the pasta doesn’t overwhelm the “sauce”)

¼ cup olive oil + 1 stick butter

1 clove fresh garlic – finely chopped

Freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese (to taste)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

In the meantime, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil and garlic. Sauté for a few moments until the garlic begins to turn golden. Add the cold butter in pats (this will prevent the garlic from burning and ruining the sauce). Once the butter has melted remove from the heat, and mix with the penne. You can add the pasta to the pan if it’s large enough (this is best) or pour the sauce over the pasta in a separate bowl. Add in freshly grated cheese according to taste, finish with fresh chopped parsley if you like, toss and spoon onto individual plates. Top with the tomato mixture and


Easy tips to cut 200 calories per day from your diet

Sunday, August 14, 2011 14:53
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There is often a misconception that if someone wants to lose weight they have to go on a diet. This usually translates in people’s minds with following a specific popular weight loss diet regime, usually a quite rigid one. It does kind of make sense as it is the way people eat which is most likely the reason they put on weight. I will always preach in favour of following a healthy balanced diet, however, you don’t always need to ‘go’ on a diet or follow a specific diet, or even radically change all your eating habits.

There are loads of little ways by which people can cut the calories down without a radical diet makeover and still lose weight. Read on these weight loss tips on how this is possible.

1. Tackle the portion size.

The simplest way to cut down on the calories is to reduce the size of the meal portion. What the meal contains will make a difference for both health and weight; however if your diet is more or less healthy and balanced or if you are really determined that you don’t want to change what you eat, then go for portion size. This does not mean starve yourself by all means or skip meals. If you were going to have a burger and chips have a small burger and half of the amount of chips you would usually eat.

A personal friend who tends to follow this tip always suggests using smaller size dinner plates and only just about fill them, without going for multiple layers. Well think about the psychological aspect:

a)      If you have an extra large plate and ½ of it is empty you may process this as not enough food or be tempted to fill it.

b)      If you have a medium sized dinner plate and is full psychologically you could think that this is enough food.

Often when we feel hungry we can overload our plates and eat beyond the point of satiety. Think how many calories you can save if you cut the portion size of every meal…

2.  Cut down on fizzy and sugary drinks

Calories from fizzy and sugary drinks are the one’s which tend to go unaccounted for. Possibly because people don’t tend to think that a glass or two of fizz could tip the scales over.

Well a small size cup (16 fl oz/ 345 g) of the classic coca cola* from burger king contains as much as 150 kcal. The glass that you may consume at home is not that far off on the calories. How many of those do you usually consume per day? Do the maths to see how many calories you could avoid. Stick to only 1 or 2 glasses a day or opt for sugar free or low calorie ones. However, be aware that some artificial sweeteners commonly used in fizzy drinks have been questioned regarding the health risks they may carry if over consumed.

Like the fizzy drinks, a lot of the pre-packed fruit juices and fruit drinks can also be as calorific. For example 1 can (12 fl oz / 436 g) of breakfast type orange drink with juice can contain as much as 665 kcal. Having second thoughts about that glass you had for breakfast?

You can use our free calorie counter to track down the calories each food, drink and activity has.

 3. Skip sugary snacks, biscuits and crisps 

Offices, schools, and workplaces in general tend to house a biscuit tin in the kitchen or common area, or a snacks vendor. The same way dampness breads bacteria, offices bread calories. If you add the couple of biscuits with the packet of crisps and the energy bar you had you will probably find that you had an extra meal. Always carry some healthy snacks like a fruit or a handful of nuts to cover you if you get a craving or the munches and try to say no to the very tempting box of chocolates.    

4. Skip cereals and cereal bars

Ok maybe I should rephrase this in skip some cereals, but I must admit I am not part of the cereal fun club all together. Breakfast is an important meal so treat it with respect. Why should you avoid the most popular breakfast and snack? There are 2 ways that you could potentially be saving yourself from extra calories.

a)      A lot of the advertised as ‘healthy’ cereals contain enough sugar to cover the needs of the whole neighbourhood. Apart from the fact that too much sugar is not good for the body, they can also contain a lot of calories. I would first suggest to replace your cereal breakfast with a protein based one such as boiled eggs. However, if you have to have cereal it helps to read the labels and chose the lowest in sugars and calories.

b)      I have spoken about the sugar – insulin vicious cycle in previous articles. Basically you if you have loads of carbs for breakfast you are likely to get hunger cravings half way through the day and end up with a snack. On the other hand with a protein based breakfast you are more likely to feel full for longer and thus not need a snack before lunch.

Cereal bars play on a similar tune; too many calories and too much sugar.

5. Don’t fry. Go for grilling, roasting, boiling

The way in which food is prepared can change the amount of calories it contains. It can also change the amount of trans fats it contains and frying is definitely guilty for doing both. See bellow the values for 100g of chicken (without the skin and bones) if fried, roast or stewed:

100g chicken = 288 kcal fried

100g chicken = 239 kcal roast

100g chicken = 209 kcal stewed

If you do the maths is pretty obvious that stewed will have the least calories, however, if not to your taste you can still roast or grill food and be as tasty. If you skip frying for majority of ingredients/meals then you could be well on your way of cutting 200 kcal daily (if not more).

6.  Opt for fresh food instead of processed food

Freshly prepared foods tend to be less calorific than processed foods. One main reason is that they usually contain loads of carbs and sugars, especially if they are in a sauce. Replace the frozen chicken nuggets with fresh chicken pieces. Ideally you want to skip the breadcrumbs as well but if you have too… Don’t forget to avoid deep frying it as well (see above).

7. Remove the skin of the chicken and the fat from meat

Chicken skin and fat in your steak can add extra calories. Yes it can be really tasty sometimes when all crispy but it will not do any favours to your waistline or your health. Try to buy lean meats or cuts where the fat is visible and remove majority of it. Do the same with bacon as well. It is a fair amount of calories there.

How to prepare your healthy weight loss plan

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 13:56
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Pre-designed diet regimes do not suit everybody. In addition, not every diet circulating in the market is healthy or returns weight loss results. Understandably many people just want to follow a simple healthy balanced diet which will help them lose weight. This is what most experts profess anyway, as the right way forward.

At the same time most people don’t know where to start. What is healthy, how do you go about it, what is balanced and how much are you meant to be eating to lose weight? All these are common questions people ask and in this article I will try to provide some tips on how to prepare a healthy weight loss plan.

Before you even think about food

A weight loss plan is not just about food but all the other steps you need to make to set up. These steps can help you with any weight loss regime you may want to do.

First: Weigh yourself and decide how much weight you need or want to lose. This way you can plan on how long it will take you to lose the weight, how many calories should you be eating and most of all you can have a clear goal of what you want to achieve. For your weight loss is always recommended not to exceed 1 – 1.5 kg per week.

Second: Keep a foods and drinks diary for a week. I have mentioned the importance and role of food diaries in a number of previous articles such asHow to control your desire for food’ and ‘Weight loss: An introduction to a healthier life style. What, when and why you eat what you eat can play a role in how you plan your meals and your weight loss plan.

Third: Make a list of the reasons why you want to lose weight and what it means to you. Also make a list of coping strategies for the times you may struggle. Use the lists to remind yourself why you are following a healthy weight loss plan in the times you want to give up or give in to that pizza.

Food planning

Before you attack the super market for food shopping you should have an idea of what ‘healthy’ is. This part could be the most complicated. There is a plethora of foods which do claim to be a ‘healthier’ option however the reality may be different. For example a lot of oily sprays which derive from vegetable oils and margarines may advertise that they are healthier as they contain less saturated fats. However, they tend to contain a high amount of trans fats which may be more harmful.

1. Do some research on which foods are best to avoid. There is a lot of information available. You don’t have to study for a PhD in Nutrition or spend hours on the internet. Make a small list with some basic foods, containing for example trans fats, soy and processed foods and try to avoid including them in your shopping list.

2. Stick with simple and natural foods but do have a variety. Include foods from all 3 categories, which are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. In simple words include meats, vegetables, and fruits. When it comes to more processed carbohydrates such as pasta and bread aim for wholemeal and less refined options. Aim for ‘good’ fats such as the Omega fats and avoid trans fats.

3. Do try to avoid sugars as much as you can. It is quite well known that the cookies, cakes, and sweets don’t help with losing weight. But apart from the obvious sweets can you cut down on the sugar you add in your coffee, or the sugary drinks and fruit juices you drink? You will be pleasantly surprised how many calories and sugars you can avoid consuming in a day. If you have to have a drink or have to have a sweet try to replace them with healthier and less calorific options. For example have a green tea or a fruit tea (no sugar) instead of a fruit juice, or have a fruit instead of a cookie or even a spoonful of yogurt with a tiny amount of honey instead of a cake.

4. Replace and don’t exclude. Healthy food doesn’t have to be rabbit bland food. As I have already mentioned apart from some exceptions, a healthy weight loss plan is not about restricting yourself with food. It is important to have variety of nutrients. So when you plan your diet replace those foods which may be harmful or calorific. Replace vegetable oils and margarines with olive oil, a cereal bar with a fruit, chips with mash potatoes or even better with a big salad, fruit juice with fruit tea (no sugar), mayonnaise with vinaigrette and so on.

5. On that same note replace the ways by which you cook food. It is not just the ingredients that make a meal healthy or calorific but the preparation of them as well. For example don’t fry the food but grill or roast it, don’t add loads of vegetable oil but only a tablespoon of olive oil and so on. You can find loads of fun, tasty recipes which include healthier cooking options and fresh ingredients. Make a collection of recipes or cooking ideas beforehand so if you are stuck for ideas or not sure how to do it you can use them.

6. Know your maths and calories. Calories are not the end to all means in a weight loss plan; nevertheless, if you only need 2000 kcal per day and consume 3000 kcal of salad you will still put weight on. In addition you are likely to have some serious wind issues. Don’t get obsessed with calorie counting but have an idea how many calories each meal worth.

On average women require 1500 – 2000 kcal per day and men require 2000 – 2500 kcal per day. In simple math’s terms 1lb of fat translates to 3500kcal. So in order to lose 1lb of fat per week you need to eat 500kcal less than you need.

You can find charts which calculate the basal metabolic rate (amount of calories used just to be alive) and charts which calculate calories according to different activities. All these charts will not give 100% accurate calculations but you can use them as a guide.

7. Read the labels. It is always good to have a look at the labels of the food you buy. Look for sugar, carbohydrate and salt content. It is very rarely that trans fat content is actually included in the labels, however, avoid a product if it contains hydrogenated oils or cooked in hydrogenated/ vegetable oils. You don’t have to become obsessed, but is worth check what you eat. As I mentioned earlier a lot of ‘healthy’ products may actually have more risks for health than the benefits they may provide.

Moreover, food can have an accumulative effect. What that means is that the 2 grams of sugar in a sandwich may not tip the scale. However, by the time you add all the things you have consumed in a day the result may be high amounts of sugars, salt etc.

The rest

8. Exercise. Last but not least, include exercise in your weight loss plan. The benefits of exercise are not just limited to increasing weight loss but extend in most areas of life. But to keep it to the point, what can exercise do for your healthy weight loss plan apart from being healthy?

Exercise helps with increasing the amount of calories you burn not only while you exercise but also when you are resting. The more muscle you have the more your metabolic rate increases. Well that doesn’t mean that you have to kill yourself in the gym. In any way you can increase your physical activity will help. In addition, with exercise you do get fitter and you behind does look better in that dress.

9. Do consult the appropriate medical and/or fitness professionals before making changes to your diet and/or physical activity especially if you have any pre-existing health complaints or concerns. The above are only some suggestions and you should only follow what suits your individual needs.

The Scents of Summer (& recipes!) by Chef Silvia

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 2:05
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The scents of summer are all around…in full bloom, ready to greet me: the smell of freshly cut grass or sliced watermelon; smoke from the barbeque or nearby fireworks; Coppertone and salt air; strawberries and peaches; tomato plants and roses. These are the smells of my childhood and they’re still with me. All summer long familiar whiffs are everywhere; in the garden, the beach, the local fair, or on city streets, and for a moment I am a child again. After years of noticing the beneficial effects of indulging my youthful memories, it has become a part of my daily routine…if I remember. And nothing else can trigger my memory as quickly as a comforting smell…yummm.

I carry that small capsule of bliss inside me, its content spilling out when I least expect it. In the kitchen I become an alchemist mixing a sprinkle or two in with the mayonnaise for the potato salad. Or sometimes a dusting gets into the Vidalia onions I’m sautéing for an omelet. Somehow the marinara sauce for tonight’s dinner tastes that much sweeter if I can take in and appreciate how the sun felt on my face that afternoon. And how can I not feel joy when the kitchen fills with the aroma of blueberries and apples from the cobbler baking in the oven and my friends are standing around ready to top it with ice cream?

I’m in heaven and I want to feed it to everyone at the table. I know the food I prepare doesn’t have to be fancy to be memorable. Some of the best meals I’ve served have been the simplest. I think it has something to do with the purity of the dish. It’s savored but doesn’t get in the way of the conversation. The food is fine with knowing it plays a supporting role to the diners. I think – and this is funny coming from a chef – that an unforgetable meal is not primarily about the food, but rather the company.

The memory of good food stays with me but the scent of a shared summer meal lingers longer. Who remembers what they ate at an exquisitely prepared banquet if everyone was fighting at the table? But who wouldn’t be nourished by a simple slice of warm, freshly baked bread if it was prepared and offered with love…just when you needed it?

For me the scents of summer are most potent when I snip the stalks of basil growing in my garden and slice it in ribbons, topping the pasta at the last minute before serving. Or when I take a bite of a ripe tomato plucked from the plant and the fragrance of its leaves lingers on my hands. I can practically smell the sun. So I take the feeling with me and spread it around.

It doesn’t matter that this summer – the first time in years – I don’t have a vegetable garden and I have to buy most of my produce from the supermarket…I can still enjoy the shopping and dream of a time when I will have a garden again. In the meantime I can boost the nutrients in the lettuce simply by having fun making the salad. My joy gets tossed along with the greens then makes its way to the risotto I’m still stirring on the stove until it’s ready to blend with the fragrant summer pesto I made from the basil, parsley and arugula growing in pots on my deck. Aha….the smells of summer…

Spaghetti Marinara with Arugula Pesto and Goat Cheese
This recipe is a reworking of one of my favorite sauces, tomato pesto. Here however I don’t mix the pesto with the tomato sauce but rather top it with dollops of it. Then when you twirl the pasta with your fork it gathers a small burst of fragrant herbs mixed with oil, parmesan and nuts. Add to that the dollops of goat cheese, melting over the warm pasta and you have a truly memorable and amazing dish.

1 lb spaghetti or linguine
2 cups marinara sauce (recipe below)
1 cup pesto (recipe below)
¼ cup goat cheese

Cook linguine according to package directions, making sure it is al dente (cooked but still firm). Drain pasta and toss with half the sauce. Divide pasta onto individual plates. Top with additional sauce, and dollops of the pesto. Finnish with sprinkled goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Marinara Sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes (with no added puree – look for brands that use only vine ripened tomatoes) ?
2 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to just cover the bottom of the pan
1 clove fresh garlic–finely chopped?
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes?
1/4 chicken broth? (this is optional, however it adds flavor and liquid to a sauce that may be too thick.
1 sprig of fresh basil (stem attached)?
Salt and pepper to taste??

In a medium saucepan over medium heat add oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds or until golden. Follow quickly with the tomatoes. Add the basil, lower the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes until the sauce is cooked (no raw tomato taste) and sweet.

Arugula Pesto
You can make a pesto with almost any herb, not just basil. In fact I feel using basil alone makes it too intense so I usually use basil and parsley for a basic pesto. Using arugula gives this pesto the richly aromatic peppery flavor that is distinctive.

2 cups baby arugula
1 cup basil (stems removed)
1 cup flat leaf Italian parsley (stems removed)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
2 medium cloves garlic
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the basil, parsley, pine nuts, and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor and process until it becomes a paste. Add the oil slowly and process until incorporated. Pour the sauce into a bowl, stir in the cheese, and season.

Thanks Chef Silvia, we love your “notes from the chef” and of course your wonderful recipes!!

1200 calorie diet for women

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 20:51
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Dieting is one of the ways to lose weight but from the questions we get from our readers it seems that many people do not know where to start. This is normal since the word ‘diet’ has been associated with deprivation and this keeps people away from even trying to control what they eat. As a result their weight is increasing and the problem becomes even more difficult to handle.

Our goal with this article is to give you an idea of a diet you can follow to lose weight quickly but at the same time healthy and without restricting any food group from your meals. The diet is easy to follow and will give you about 1200 calories per day. See below some common questions/answers about this diet.

How many pounds can you lose by following a 1200 calorie diet? This depends on your BMR and your daily calorie requirements. If for example you need 1500 calories per day to maintain your normal weight then by following this diet correctly for 1 month you can lose up to 2 ½ pounds. The logic is the following: You need 45,000 calories per month (1500 calories per day x 30 days) to maintain your normal weight. If you consume 36000 calories per month (1200 calories per day x 30 days) then you will save 9000 calories per month (45000 – 36000). Taking into account that 1 pound = 3500 calories, this means you will lose about 2 ½ pounds per month.

Is it safe? As a general rule you should always consult your doctor before making drastic changes to your diet. The average woman needs about 1500-1800 calories per day to maintain normal weight. The suggested diet is for about 1200 calories per day which is just 300 calories less than the average. You can also read how to lose 5 pounds quickly for more information on quick weight loss and calorie burning.

For how long should I follow this diet? A month is the shortest period you can follow this diet if you want to get fast results. Depending on your results you can choose to stay within the 1200 calories per day or gradually increase it to 1500 and 1800. This of course depends on your activity level, age and exercise.

Do I have to exercise? Yes. Dieting alone cannot help you lose weight and keep it off. We mentioned above that dieting is one of the ways to lose weight but you also need to exercise regularly in order to increase your metabolism, accelerate the fat burning process and convert the fat tissues into muscles. Cardio exercises for 3-4 times per week are sufficient for beginners.

How to you call this diet? This is an example of a balanced diet where you get to eat all kinds of foods but in moderate quantities. More attention is given to carbohydrates and protein and less to fat (but it is not eliminated completely).

What do I need to get started? You should first download and print the diet and read it carefully. Take note of the items that you do not have available and create your shopping list. Have a look at the recipes and make sure that you can prepare those meals using the correct ingredients in the proper portions. Once you have everything ready take a note of your weight (early in the morning) and start with the diet. Make sure that you do not break the diet rules very often and once per week take note of your weight and mark your progress.

Is this diet for women only? No. Both men and women can follow this diet but it will be easier for women to adjust to the proposed meals because it is closer to the recommended amount of calories they consume per day.

I still have questions, who can I contact? If you still have questions about the diet you can contact our team of experts at [email protected]

1200 calorie diet for women ( download as PDF )

Day 1


Breakfast: whole grain bar with yogurt and fruit

1 wholemeal cereal bar

1 / 2 yogurt, (Low fat 0% -2%)

1 fruit of your choice (apple, orange etc.)


Snack: Croissant with butter and honey or jam

1 / 2 butter croissants

1 teaspoon honey or jam

Lunch: Spaghetti with tomato sauce with peppers and mushrooms and salad

1 cup cooked pasta

3 tablespoons tomato sauce with peppers and mushrooms

2 cups salad of your choice

Snack: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey), cream cheese, tomato and lettuce

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1-2 slices tomato

1 leaf lettuce


Dinner: Peas with cheese, salad and bread

1 / 2 cup cooked peas

1 piece (30 g) cheese (feta cheese or yellow cheese, low fat or 2 tablespoons of cream cheese)

1 cup salad of your choice

1 slice whole wheat bread

DAY 1 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 224 137 371 137 323 1192
Protein (g) 10.31 2.36 10.72 7.11 11.39 41.89
Total Fat (g) 4.03 5.99 13.24 5.13 18.8 47.19
Saturated (g) 0.38 3.32 1.92 2.36 6.11 14.09
Carbohydrates (g) 39.03 18.82 53.58 16.61 29.98 158.02
Sugars (g) 19.96 8.95 7.45 3.01 10.46 49.83
Vitamin C (mg) 83.74 0.09 53.64 7.42 33.63 178.52


Day 2


Breakfast: whole grain cereals with fruit and milk, bread, margarine and honey or jam

1 / 2 cup whole grain cereal with fruit

1 / 2 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 teaspoon margarine

1 teaspoon honey or jam


Snack: Half a sandwich with whole wheat bread, smoked salmon and cream cheese

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 thin slice (30gr.) smoked salmon

1 tablespoon cream cheese

Freshly ground pepper


Lunch: Chicken soup with cheese and salad

1 cup of chicken soup

1 piece (30 g) cheese (feta cheese or yellow cheese and low fat)

1 cup salad of your choice


Snack: Cookie with yogurt

1 cookie

1 / 2 yogurt (0% -2%)


Dinner: Omelet with vegetables and ham and salad

1 egg

2 egg whites

1 / 2 cup vegetables of your choice

1 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup salad of your choice

DAY 2 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 223 137 337 137 298 1132
Protein (g) 8.8 9.49 19.81 8.95 20.27 67.32
Total Fat (g) 5.35 5.04 21.22 5.14 19.21 55.96
Saturated (g) 1.55 2.18 6.56 1.29 4.18 15.76
Carbohydrates (g) 37.25 13.96 16.5 14.29 12.32 94.32
Sugars (g) 18.64 1.59 3.87 2.04 6.68 32.82
Vitamin C (mg) 10.53 0 19.14 1 88.71 119.38



Day 3


Breakfast: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey) and cottage cheese and milk

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

2 tablespoons cottage cheese

1 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)


Snack: Fruit

2 fruit of your choice


Lunch: Artichokes with potato, cheese and salad

3 / 4 cup artichokes

1 piece (30 g) cheese (feta cheese or yellow cheese and low fat)

1 cup salad of your choice

1 small boiled potato (125gr.)


Snack: Cream crackers with ham

2 cream Crackers

1 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet


Dinner: Fish soup (with rice) and bread

1 cup of soup (with rice)

2 slices whole wheat bread

DAY 3 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 223 137 407 136 350 1253
Protein (g) 16.79 2.55 11.92 7.19 19.85 58.3
Total Fat (g) 6.02 0.42 21.22 5.13 12.38 45.17
Saturated (g) 3.02 0.05 6.38 1.76 1.98 13.19
Carbohydrates (g) 26.38 35.11 47.39 14.81 41.09 164.78
Sugars (g) 14.33 23.8 7.37 0.86 4.9 51.26
Vitamin C (mg) 0.56 165.48 42.23 1.12 2.65 212.04


Day 4


Breakfast: Cereal maize (corn flakes) with milk and fruit

1 / 2 cup corn cereal (corn flakes)

1 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)

1 fruit of your choice


Snack: Croissant with butter and honey or jam

1 / 2 butter croissants

1 teaspoon honey or jam


Lunch: Fish soup (with rice) with bread and mayonnaise

1 cup of soup (with rice)

1 slice whole wheat bread

2 tablespoons light mayonnaise


Snack: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey), cream cheese, tomato and lettuce

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1-2 slices tomato

1 leaf lettuce


Dinner: Risotto with prawns and salad

1 / 2 cup cooked rice (3 tablespoons uncooked)

5 shrimp (large)

1 teaspoon olive oil

Fresh chives, parsley

2 cups salad of your choice

DAY 4 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 222 137 378 137 320 1194
Protein (g) 10.42 2.36 17.39 7.11 10.38 47.66
Total Fat (g) 2.66 5.99 21.13 5.13 14.34 49.25
Saturated (g) 1.59 3.32 3.28 2.36 2.06 12.61
Carbohydrates (g) 41.93 18.82 30.64 16.61 38.05 146.05
Sugars (g) 26.06 8.95 4.64 3.01 5.41 48.07
Vitamin C (mg) 85.82 0.09 2.65 7.42 38.88 134.86


Day 5


Breakfast: whole grain cereals with fruit and milk, bread, margarine and honey or jam

1 / 2 cup whole grain cereal with fruit

1 / 2 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 teaspoon margarine

1 teaspoon honey or jam


Snack: Breadsticks with ham

2 breadsticks

1 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet


Lunch: salad with Giants

1 cup cooked beans

1 cup salad of your choice


Snack: Half a sandwich with whole wheat bread, smoked salmon and cream cheese

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 thin slice (30gr.) smoked salmon

1 tablespoon cream cheese

Freshly ground pepper


Dinner: Salad with pasta, tuna and mayonnaise

1 / 2 cup pasta (cooked)

1 / 2 cup chopped tomato

1 / 2 cup chopped bell peppers

80g. tuna in water

1 tablespoon light mayonnaise

1 teaspoon of mustard or ketchup

Fresh chives, basil

DAY 5 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 223 136 331 137 298 1125
Protein (g) 8.8 7.25 10.76 9.49 24.45 60.75
Total Fat (g) 5.35 6.21 18.62 5.04 8.3 43.52
Saturated (g) 1.55 2.36 2.62 2.18 1.62 10.33
Carbohydrates (g) 37.25 12.37 33.5 13.96 31.07 128.15
Sugars (g) 18.64 2 7.13 1.59 6.34 35.7
Vitamin C (mg) 10.53 1.12 56.38 0 72.08 140.11


Day 6


Breakfast: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey) and cottage cheese and milk

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

2 tablespoons cottage cheese

1 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)


Snack: Yogurt with fruit

1 / 2 yogurt (0% -2%)

1 fruit of your choice


Lunch: Fried Prawns with salad

10 shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 / 3 cup tomato juice

45gr. slice

1 cup salad of your choice


Snack: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey), cream cheese, tomato and lettuce

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1-2 slices tomato

1 leaf lettuce


Dinner: Pizza cheese and salad

1 slice of pizza with cheese

1 cup salad of your choice

DAY 6 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 223 135 373 137 320 1188
Protein (g) 16.79 9.27 19.88 7.11 12.27 65.32
Total Fat (g) 6.02 2.21 27.9 5.13 16.18 57.44
Saturated (g) 3.02 0.02 9.05 2.36 6.51 20.96
Carbohydrates (g) 26.38 21.56 12.9 16.61 32.09 109.54
Sugars (g) 14.33 11.9 10.21 3.01 7.41 46.86
Vitamin C (mg) 0.56 83.74 49.97 7.42 21.4 163.09


Day 7


Breakfast: Cereal maize (corn flakes) with milk and fruit

1 / 2 cup corn cereal (corn flakes)

1 cup low-fat milk (1% -1.5%)

1 fruit of your choice


Snack: Breadsticks

3 breadsticks


Lunch: Meat soups with bread and salad

1 cup consommé

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 cup salad of your choice


Snack: Croissant with butter and honey or jam

1 / 2 butter croissants

1 teaspoon honey or jam


Dinner: Half a sandwich with wholemeal bread, ham (pork or turkey), egg and cream cheese and salad

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 / 2 slice of ham or ham turkey fillet

1 egg (boiled or scrambled eggs without oil)

1 tablespoon cream cheese

2 cups salad of your choice

DAY 7 Breakfast Snack Lunch Dinner Snack Total
Energy (kcal) 222 135 378 137 325 1197
Protein (g) 10.42 3.9 19.79 2.36 15.13 51.6
Total Fat (g) 2.66 5.7 18.87 5.99 19.67 52.89
Saturated (g) 1.59 2.31 3.66 3.32 5.28 16.16
Carbohydrates (g) 41.93 16.95 33.94 18.82 23.65 135.29
Sugars (g) 26.06 3 6.57 8.95 7.56 52.14
Vitamin C (mg) 85.82 0 25.62 0.09 38.84 150.37


How to lose 5 pounds quickly?

Sunday, July 10, 2011 15:04
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Fast weight loss is always a very popular subject among people who want to lose weight for a special occasion. Last week we got a simple but yet very interesting question from a reader that ended: How can I lose 5 pounds quickly? The full question was the following:

I don’t normally have an issue with my weight, i am slightly overweight but not by much, i am still happy with the way i look. i need to know how to lose about 5 pounds fast, i bought my graduation dress two months ago and when i put it on today it was too small, my graduation is in  week and a half, how can i lose five pounds that quickly?

Here is the reply from our team of weight loss experts.

The graduation day fast approaching, you bought the dress a few months ago but when you do a trial before the big day is too small. That is a very familiar picture for a number of people; it may not be a graduation but it may be a wedding or a special occasion. Time left to fit in the dress? 1 ½ weeks. What do you do to lose those extra 5 pounds?

Well to be very honest there is no way you can actually lose 5 pounds of fat in 1½ weeks. It could appear like to do lose 5 pounds in that time scale but it would mainly be water. Some people will argue that it is good enough to just fit in the dress whether it is water or fat they lost.

Safer diets

Now that we have made it clear that you will not be losing 5lbs worth fat, one could say that it doesn’t matter which diet you follow. All fast diets will bring the same result. As tempting as it is to follow a fad, fast style diet try not to. All of these fad style, 7-10 day diets have been criticized about their safety and the strain they place on the body. In addition, chances are that you will not do it just once but most probably every time an outfit doesn’t fit. Yo-yo style dieting can have negative health effects. Below are some suggestions.


Calories do matter. Even if you do follow a healthy balanced diet, if you consume more calories than you use then you will store them as fat. It is harder to do so with a healthier diet as this kind of diets consist of a high amount of foods which are low in calories, such as vegetables. Think about it, how much salad would you need to consume in a day to reach 3000kcal? Moreover, you are likely to suffer from gastrointestinal complaints after all that green, with the most common being the ‘embracing wind’.

To stir back to the main point now; and that is calories. If you want to lose weight you need to create a negative calorie balance. This means consume fewer calories than you need. By how much should you cut? Some authors suggest that 1 lb of fat translates to 3.500kcal. Therefore, if you want to lose 1lb of fat you need to use 3.500kcal. It sounds a lot? It is. So if you were to lose 5lbs of fat in a week you would need to burn:

3.500kcal x 5lbs = 17.500 kcal per week

If you divide this number by 7 days in a week then:

17.500 kcal / 7days = 2500 kcal per day

Let me thing, does that mean you will have to starve yourself completely?

A point to make

In reality all these calorie calculations do not work to the letter. The business of losing weight and dieting is a lot more complicated than simple numerical calculations.

The calculations assume that people burn calories at a constant rate and it is all of it fat. However, in reality metabolism can slow down as part of energy/calorie restriction and also the body will be losing glycogen, water and protein as well. Use them as a guide only

Apart from some very few exceptions (severe illness being one of them) the task of losing 5 lbs of fat in 1 week or even 10 days is more like mission impossible. So concentrate in lowering calorie intake within safe and healthy ranges. The average recommended calorie intake for women is approximately 1500 – 2000kcal and for men and young adults is 2000 – 2500 kcal. The amount of calories used everyday depends on many factors such as body size, age, and physical activity.

In general, if you are consuming astronomical numbers of calories then try to lower it down to the recommended values and do account for factors which may influence calorie usage. For an average calorie intake aim for about 500 kcal reduction and is recommended not to go bellow 1200kcal intake per day.

What will you get with a 500kcal reduction? If we go back to the calculations you have:

500kcal x 7 days = 3.500kcal in a week which is about 1 lb of fat.


Exercise will increase the amount of calories you burn, simple. If you lower your food intake by 500kcal you burn 1lb of fat so if you use 500kcal through exercise you just increased your fat burning potential. As mentioned above in reality it doesn’t work like that; however the truth is that you will increase the amount of calories you use and increase your weight loss with exercise. See 10 fitness tips for women for more details.

Be aware: It does make sense that the more you exercise the more calories you will burn. However, it may be tempting but do not take on a really heavy and intense workout 2 hrs a week for a week in order to maximize weight loss. If new to exercise you will get DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which means that every muscle you worked will hurt. You don’t want to be the girl/guy in the party who ‘looks really good in that outfit but what is it all about with the Robocop movements?’

Aim for 1 hour a day. Start with light exercises or a run. Maybe try adding exercises from Pilates which can help you cheat a bit with a flat stomach effect. Do consult a medical professional and a fitness professional to make sure is safe and appropriate before taking on any exercise.

Be strict but choose healthy

You only have 7 – 10 days to lose the extra pounds. It will require being strict with food intake. However, do be healthy and do make healthy food choices. Consuming 1200kcal from McDonalds is not healthy and the pickles do not count towards your 5 a day regardless what the advert said. Follow a balanced diet such as a modified Mediterranean, the zone diet, the new Atkins diet etc. Some diets are more general some can be more specific with meal plans. Choose what suits you as an individual. In general aim for loads of vegetables and fruit, a moderate amount of protein and a low amount of carbohydrates and sugars. I would say if you can avoid any refined sugars is the best. See some of my other articles for more details on healthy diets such as Diet Tips: The role of proteins in weight loss and Weight loss: an introduction to a healthier life.

Some easy ways to cut down calories is to avoid alcohol, refined sugars, fizzy drinks, milkshakes, snacks such as energy or cereal bars and finally hot drinks such as sugary coffees, and rich hot chocolate. Coffee is actually considered by some researchers as a way to increase metabolism and fat burning. However, too much coffee is not good for your nervous system and can give you palpitations, increased heart rate and can make you feel anxious and restless. You don’t want that so don’t drink yourself senseless with coffee.


There are small little things you can do to cheat your way to the outfit without necessarily losing all the weight.

1. Avoid foods that can make you bloat. A large amount of vegetables, especially if eaten raw can make you feel bloated and as mentioned above can give you gastrointestinal complaints. It may contradict previous advice of adding fruit and veg in your diet. Well you can do both. In moderation is the answer. Maybe steam your veg especially carrots which can be hard to digest, and have a mixture of raw salads and cooked vegetables instead of just salads.

Breads and refined carbs can also make you feel bloated. As I have mentioned above try to avoid them.

2. If there is still an inch left, then try some of the control underwear. This is not a weight loss tip and most definitely will not help you lose weight; however some of the control underwear can help shave an inch from the body. Don’t go for the really tight, I can’t breathe type, just normal control.

For future reference

It may be too late now but you will find that for the future this is a very valuable point. Allow more time for losing the extra pounds. Make it a rule that you will try the outfit at least 2 weeks before the big event. What can you do in 2 weeks? A lot more and you have a lot more chances in actually losing 5 lbs in 2 weeks. You may still have to be strict with your diet and all the above but you will get better results with less heartache.

Make long term changes

Eating healthier and exercising is best kept for long term. Why only use them as a remedy for emergencies and not adapt our lifestyle to a healthier option? It doesn’t have to be a forever dieting and exercising life or even be massively dissatisfied about your weight. Make small changes in your diet and add 30min of exercise is good enough. This way you will be able to control your weight better and also lose weight easier for when you need to.

How to Lose 5 pounds summary

1. You will most probably not lose 5lbs of fat in 7 – 10 days. Even if you lose 5lbs it will be some fat but mainly glycogen, water and some protein.

2. It is best to follow a healthy diet combined with exercise and do not lower your calorie intake to much. It is not good and you will not lose more fat.

3. Do little things which can help you cheat your way in the outfit.

The above are only weight loss tips. It is always recommended to consult the appropriate health professionals before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle.


Raw food diet voted second best weight loss diet

Sunday, July 3, 2011 16:41
Comments Off on Raw food diet voted second best weight loss diet

The raw food diet was voted second best weight loss diet according to a diet ranking contest performed by usnews.com health department. The diets were rated by a group of 22 experts that included nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, health professionals and weight loss researches. The study took about 6 months and examined 20 diets on how effective they are in losing weight in the short term, how easy they are to follow, how safe they are and how they can help you maintain your weight in the long term.

What is the raw food diet?

The raw food diet is similar to vegetarian diet and its roots go back to 1800 when a doctor with the name Maximillian Benner invented the first form of a raw diet. Since then it has evolved but the main idea of the raw food diet is that you consume mainly plant based foods and foods that are not processed, cooked or genetically altered. By adopting the raw food diet you can expect to eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, virgin olive oil and other natural and organic foods. There are more food choices and recipes than you can initially think that fall into the category of raw food and in accordance with this diet. It takes more time to prepare your raw food meals but once you get used to the habit of eating raw or nearly raw food you can speed up the process and invent your own ways to cook.

Can you lose weight with raw food diet?

Yes you can. If you follow the raw food diet for a couple of weeks or more you will lose weight because you will eat mainly fruits, vegetables and other items that are high in fibre and protein. These 2 components can generate fast weight loss results mainly because they can keep the feeling of fuller longer.

Is the raw food diet suitable for everyone?

We always encourage our readers to consult their doctor before engaging in drastic weight loss diets or techniques. The raw food diet restricts certain food items from your diet and this can generate adverse effects to people who are suffering from various diseases. The American Diabetic Association has also rated the raw food diet as inappropriate for infants and children.

The available research about the raw food diet does not expose any side effects but on the contrary it suggests that people who have followed the raw food diet successfully have managed to lose weight. It is no secret that a lot of celebrities are using the raw food diet to get fit before their appearances or get ready for their new movies. It should be noted though that it is not an easy diet to follow especially if you are new to dieting.

A final word

The raw food diet was voted among the best weight loss diets because it is guaranteed that you can lose weight. It can generate both short-term and long term results and it is safe to use provided that your doctor approves. On the negative side it is not easy to follow and you need to spend some time learning about what to eat and how to prepare your meals. If you are anxious to lose weight fast then you can try it out and come back to share your opinion and experience with our readers.