Tuesday, May 27, 2008

8 Ultimate Flat-Belly Summer Foods

As the summer inches closer and the siren call of weekends at the beach grows louder, we have plenty of reasons to slim down.

But with all of the neighborhood barbecues, pool parties, and vacations come a slew of dubious dietary intruders — it's like the world has become one big surf shack, and we're all grabbing the large fries to go with our crispy clam strips. (And oh, we'll have the small chocolate milk shake with that, to save room for a double scoop waffle cone later. Yes, with the crushed peanut butter cups on top!) Problem is, there couldn’t be a worse time to lose control of your diet; showing a little skin is one thing, turning into a jiggle juggernaut quite another.

To combat the nutritional chaos and the extra poundage that comes with the rising mercury, we’ve chosen the eight best foods to eat every day. Beyond being packed full of disease-fighting, life-extending nutrients, these foods will also help keep your belly full, because they’re loaded with fiber and protein, the sultans of satiety.

Find a way to work these potent superfoods into your diet every day, and you’ll curb cravings before they hit, crowding out much of the junk we turn to when hunger calls. The result? Well, it could mean saving 600 calories or more a day. Couple that with 30 minutes of moderate exercise, and you can shed as many as 12 pounds in six weeks — just in time to strut your stuff on the sand!

1. Spinach

It may be green and leafy, but spinach is no nutritional wallflower. This noted muscle-builder is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Bonus: Folate also increases blood flow to the nether regions, helping to protect you against age-related sexual issues. Aim for 1 cup fresh spinach or a half cup cooked per day.

SUBSTITUTES: Kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce

FIT IT IN: Make your salads with baby spinach; add spinach to scrambled eggs; drape it over pizza; mix it with marinara sauce and then microwave for an instant dip.

2. Yogurt

Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of reinforcements for the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body. That helps boost your immune system, provides protection against cancer, and even does duty as a cavity-fighter. Not all yogurts are created equal, though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” And watch out for high-fructose corn syrup; stealth sugars are worth avoiding in yogurt and everywhere else.

SUBSTITUTES: Kefir, cottage cheese

FIT IT IN: Yogurt topped with blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed, and honey is the ultimate breakfast — or dessert. Plain low-fat yogurt is also a perfect base for creamy salad dressings and dips.

3. Tomatoes

There are two things you need to know about tomatoes: Red are the best, because they’re packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene, and processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones, because it’s easier for the body to absorb the lycopene. Studies show that a diet rich in lycopene can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, breast, skin, and stomach cancers, as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Aim for 22 mg of lycopene a day, which is about eight red cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice. Plant some now for a health harvest in July and August.

SUBSTITUTES: Red watermelon, pink grapefruit, Japanese persimmon, papaya, guava

FIT IT IN: Dress sliced heirloom tomatoes with torn basil and olive oil; guzzle low-sodium V8 and gazpacho; roast cherry tomatoes and serve over grilled fish or chicken.

4. Carrots

Most red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits are spiked with carotenoids — fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as a reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis — but none of them is as easy to prepare, or have as low a caloric density, as carrots do. Aim for a half cup a day.

SUBSTITUTES: Sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow bell pepper, mango

FIT IT IN: Snack on baby carrots; grate raw carrots into salad; toss a carrot into a breakfast smoothie with frozen mango and OJ; roast carrot chunks with olive oil, salt and cumin.

5. Blueberries

Host to more antioxidants than any other North American fruit, blueberries help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes (hence the nickname “brain berry”). Studies show that blueberries, which are rich in fiber and vitamins A and C, also boost cardiovascular health. Aim for 1 cup fresh blueberries a day, or a half cup frozen or dried.

SUBSTITUTE: Açai, an Amazonian berry, has even more antioxidants than the blueberry. Mix 2 Tbsp. of açai powder into OJ or add 2 Tbsp of açai pulp to cereal, yogurt, or a smoothie.

FIT IT IN: Mix fresh blueberries into plain yogurt; blend with ice, yogurt, banana, and OJ for a 60-second smoothie; toss with baby spinach, red onions, goat cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette for a summer salad.

6. Black Beans

All beans are good for your heart, but none can boost your brain power like black beans. That’s because they’re full of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A daily half-cup serving provides 8 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber, and is low in calories and free of saturated fat.

SUBSTITUTES: Peas, lentils, and pinto, kidney, fava, and lima beans

FIT IT IN: Wrap black beans in a breakfast burrito; use both black beans and kidney beans in your chili; puree 1 cup black beans with 2 Tbsp olive oil and roasted garlic for a healthy dip; add favas, limas, or peas to pasta dishes.

7. Walnuts

Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken, the walnut just needs a cape and we could call it a superhero. Other nuts combine only one or two of these features, not all three. A serving of walnuts — about 1 ounce, or seven nuts — is good anytime, but especially as a postworkout recovery snack. Keep a can of Planters Nutrition Heart Healthy Mix in your desk drawer or glove compartment, and use them to lead you away from temptation.

SUBSTITUTES: Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts

FIT IT IN: Sprinkle on top of salads; chop and add to pancake batter; mix 1 cup walnuts with a half cup dried blueberries and a quarter cup of dark chocolate chunks.

8. Oats

The original wunderkind of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval. They are packed with soluble fiber, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Yes, oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by the fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they deliver steady muscle-friendly energy.

SUBSTITUTES: Quinoa, flaxseed, amaranth, pearly barley

FIT IT IN: Eat granolas and cereals that have a fiber content of at least 5 grams per serving; sprinkle 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed on cereals, salads, and yogurt; sub quinoa in for brown rice.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What can you do starting in APRIL in NC?


Yep, this is how we have spent our last few weekends! Although a little chilly the first week, we have already experienced one of our favorite things to do here that occurs from April-October! Yep, if you want a good lake season you should definitely move to NC! Almost 7 months of pure fun on the water! Although I am not currently able to wakeboard or tube, I enjoy taking videos and pics of my hot hubby who loves to terrify me with flips and 360's on the wakeboard! However, there is one thing I am great at while we are out -- and that is picking out our new house on the lake that hopefully someday we will own......just a few more years of long hours honey!!!

Our first outing when the water hadn't covered the sandbar and we could have a picnic on the mini-beach! Chip, Dejun, and Mark (our friends who own the boat)

Our future house -- isn't it gorgeous!!!

Getting excited for first ride of the season!

New board, a little tight, but it'll work!

Thought this was a cool pic!

Pretty good jump - nice form honey!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Yesterday was the big 27! And it started off bright and early at 5:45 when Chip got up to see me off to work and give me my birthday surprise!!! He had taken my present out of the box and placed it on the island wrapped solely by a towel sitting on top of it ---- pretty creative wrapping for this awkward-shaped gift i thought!

Anyhow, I pulled off the towel to find my very own SEWING MACHINE!!! WOW!! He was super sneaky about getting it, completely misled me about what he was going to do, researched it by talking to him mom (the super sewing lady) and my mom, and picked it out all by himself! I am SO excited to get going on all my projects I want to do. First on the list: BABY BEDDING- yeah that's right, I am designing my own stuff and will be making it myself! Next, pillows for our family room! Third, learning to sew dance dresses for my sister Kimmi that I have designed, and finally, learning how to alter clothes for my husband - who is constantly wanting things hemmed, taken in, more fitted, etc. etc. I think he will appreciate this gift in the future as much as I do now! Let the creativity begin!!!!

Little preview of the room colors and fabric for my first blanket!

Thanks honey for the great present!!! Also, for getting off work at an hour when I was still awake to spend a little time together on my birthday!

At work I got a birthday cake, card, and even sang to from my team. I thought I would post a few pics Taheera took so you could see the updated baby bump -- since I haven't taken any other pictures of myself! So here I am - 27 years old, 6.5 months prego, and happy as can be!!!

My catering skills came in great to cut this! Tasted Divine!

Here is the bump - growing every day!!!

Thanks to all the rest of you friends and family who called, texted, and sent birthday wishes as well! It was a day of many phone calls and catching up, and that made it even better!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


So today I had my 26 week checkup! I wasn't super excited since it was going to be my FIRST one that I didn't have an ultrasound at! In fact, I was dreading it because last time the Dr. told me I had already gained a lot of weight and I should take it easy. So all I had to look forward to was getting back on that scale and seeing how much the numbers went up this time.....................blah! HOWEVER, for the FIRST TIME EVER at the Dr. office I actually LOST weight! 5 lbs. to be exact!
Guess eating healthy and adding a little exercise back into my life really DOES make a difference! It is possible for a pregnant lady to lose weight! What a great day and early birthday present to myself......now tomorrow, bring on the birthday cake!!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


i love my mom! As I have been tagged many times recently and never actually responded, I decided I would do a Tag about my mom and do 29 reasons I love her (since she will always seem young to me)!!!

1- She always made breakfast for us every morning - pancakes, crepes, waffles, french toast, creamed eggs on toast (my personal favorite), etc. ---rarely did we ever have just cold cereal --- and boy do i miss those days of waking up and going upstairs to the breakfast feast!!!!

2- She can get more done in one day than most women do in a week!!!

3- She is my #1 fan - always supporting me in everything i wanted to try --- be it sports, dancing, or any other random hobby i would throw myself into!

4- When she sets her mind to something, nothing stops her (and she passed this gene onto me -thanks mom)

5- She is in PHENOMENAL shape! (125 lbs, no cellulite, great metabolism, and tons of energy!)

6- She is the ONLY person who can make me feel better when i am sick ---- even if i can only talk to her on the phone, she is still the only one i really want around!

7- She can throw a PHAT party and even get people who normally hate games to participate and have a fun time!

8- There is no one better at putting together a ward christmas party or leading the ward activities committee than my mamma! (remember the great band/her own lyrics to pop songs that incorporated EVERY SINGLE person in the ward, the year with Bishop King as Richard Simmons, or the bishopric in liederhosen in the silent movies.....for just a few)

9- She has the best recipes for healthy, and yet delicious food (daily she answers my questions on recipes and what i can cook for dinner)

10- She passed on to me her love and talent for the piano!

11- She helped make my wedding day PERFECT!!!!

12- She taught me to LOVE games from the time I was small.........and gave me a little bit of a competitive spirit (ok, a LOT of a competitive spirit -- the first fight Chip and I had was over a game of Hearts)

13- She is SO inspiring as to how dedicated she is in her church callings and is such a great/fun teacher!

14- She always sends the most random gifts that you would NEVER expect (such as the croquet set that came in the mail yesterday for Mother's Day)

15- If you ask any child in my family who is the favorite - all 6 will say their own name --- pretty impressive that she can make all of us feel that way! (Even Chip feels that way since she is always telling him he is her favorite son-in-law)

16- Although she doesn't get hooked on many tv shows ---- i was able to hook her into enjoying American Idol ---- and I love when she calls to ask what I thought of the show!

17- She is NOT afraid to voice her opinion about things she feels strongly about --- (once she asked the Victoria Secret people to take down a big poster they had displayed in the window since she didn't want her boys walking by and seeing the "pornographic images" -- and they did)

18- She tells me I have to approve the name of our little baby through her so she doesn't have to be EMBARRASSED telling her friends her grandson's name....as if we would pick a bad one?!!

19- She loves plays, and on one birthday invited 60 people to go with her to watch Aida, and had dinner at our house before for everyone!

20- She makes friends with everyone -- and yet was SO surprised when I threw a surprise party for her at how many people came to be there!!! (her face was priceless when she walked in the door)

21- She started a super fun tradition of "cousin's dinners" once a month for all relatives on her side who were up at school --- like mini-family renuions, with delicious food, and always a fun/funny game at the end!

22- She lost weight after every baby so she weighed less than before she got pregnant (man i HOPE i get this gene)

23- She loves to read and has shared her love of Mary Higgins Clark books with me! (and all other books)

24- She loves putting water on her icecream - just enough to get it so it is crunchy - and it is OH SO GOOD!

25- She has so much knowledge and always can answer any question I have!

26- She can be blunt........but yet always tactful!!!

27- I hear myself saying things sometimes and realize "that's what my mom would have said" .....i used to say I didn't want to be like her and wouldn't grow up to be like her.......and yet I find I am more like her every day, and truly hope that continues. (side note: chip told me before I got married that if I turned out to be half as good a mother as my mom was to me I would be a success -- SOO true)

28- She sends fun pictures, articles, and little gifts to the house and makes it fun for me to get the mail!

29- She loves my dad and is my biggest example of what the BESTEST Wife and Mother should be!

I love you mom so much, and hope today is a great day!!! Thanks for being the Best Mom Ever!

Tag: anyone else who wants to brag about their moms!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

April 26, 2006 vs. April 6, 2008

April 26, 2006: We were getting married in the SLC Temple. The grounds were Beautiful and we couldn't ask for better weather! Check out the blossoms and flowers!

April 26, 2008: We were in DC at the temple, once again enjoying the beautiful grounds and pretty flowers. (However, the humidity made the weather not quite as nice - altho pregnancy could be blamed for part of that too - it was 88 degrees and totally humid, even at 9 a.m.)

2 years have flown by, and yet so much has changed: We have graduated from college, moved across the country, bought a new house, bought a new car, got new jobs, got new church callings, and finally the biggest change - we are on our way to adding a new little guy to our family - which for me also accounts for the large change in my physique accounted for above in the photos!

With all these changes, I could NOT imagine sharing each milestone without my sweetheart! So Chip, thanks for a wonderful 2 years - I truly do find myself more in love with you each day! I can't wait for our even bigger adventure to come this summer when we will add a little spirit to our home! Being in the temple on our anniversary definitely made me reflect on our marriage, the convenants we made, and the wonderful promise of being able to live together for forever! I am SO grateful for Eternal Marriage, and the chance I have to not just have had these 2 years, but to spend eternity with you! Thanks for making this trip possible - it was a Great Anniversary!

We were actually able to go up Friday and stay with our friends the Stevensons (Sara is in the picture above with me - she is due a week before I am)! It was so good to hang out with them again - reminders of last summer in Charlotte when they lived by us! Then, we went out to dinner with some great friends to a FANTASTIC restaurant - Vapianos - which I fell in love with and have craved every day since then. However, there are only 14 of these restaurants in the world, and DC is the only place in the USA that has one - so if you go visit there then this restaurant is a MUST! Thanks Cady and Jeff for taking us there, and also for Dave and Becca for meeting us there! It was great to have a little reunion and see how everyone is doing!!!

So everyone has said I haven't gained weight in my face at all: this picture says otherwise -- holy fat face!!!

Then, to top off the weekend we went down to Richmond to attend one of my Best Friend's homecomings from her mission to Brazil! Jenny is the reason I graduated from the Macc. In fact, she was the BEST tutor ever, also was there the first night Chip and I hung out, was along for the ride with me as I fell in love with Chip, never stops smiling, and is a best friend to all she meets! It was SO great to see her and have her back (even if she is at BYU already for Spring)! I can't wait for her to come visit us this summer!

At Jenny's for a delicious Sunday dinner and visit after her awesome talk!