How Do Biggest Losers Shop? Cheryl’s Shopping Tips
It all begins in your cart…………
Though the Biggest Loser cast have groceries provided for them in the ranch kitchen, at the beginning of each season, I take the entire cast on a grocery store tour to introduce them to a new (to them) list of ingredients, because any one of them could go home each week, and we want them to be prepared to do well on their own at home. In terms of ingredient choices, it’s a no-brainer to say that organic is better, but I know not everyone can afford that option. If you can, great. If not, just be sure to shop to suit your budget. One thing you’ll learn as you become more comfortable in the kitchen is that the quality of the food you prepare is a function of the quality of its ingredients. Buy the freshest and best-quality ingredients you can afford. If you’ve been a hardcore fast food and processed food eater, switching over to a healthy eating plan (and exercising) will really make a difference in how you taste and appreciate food. When you swap out salty, sugary, fried and processed foods for clean foods made from fresh ingredients, your palate will notice the difference. You’ll spend more time reading food labels and assessing produce at the grocery store than you ever did looking at a drive-thru menu! I’m always adding to my repertoire of ingredients, and always looking for new products for my pantry.
Ingredient and Shopping Tips:
- Buy less, waste less. If you’re buying more fresh produce than you used to (and you probably will be), you may find it beneficial to tack on an extra trip to the market each week to be sure that you use up your purchases instead of stocking up and allowing some of them to go to waste. This is particularly true when you’re getting started and aren’t quite sure how long all those fresh veggies will last.
- If your store doesn’t carry everything you need (such as fat-free Greek-style yogurt, fat-free ricotta cheese, and low sodium sliced turkey breast), be sure to ask your grocer to order it. These days all stores want to retain their loyal customers, and if you’re looking for a particular ingredient, chances are that other customers are, too - just ask!
- Shop with a list and stick to it! It curbs impulsive purchases and cuts down grocery bills.
- Avoid foods that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- When possible, try to use fresh herbs instead of dried - the flavor is much more robust. That said, dried herbs do last longer. If dried herbs are your only option, remember that 1 teaspoon of dried herbs equals approximately 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
Tips for Food Groups:
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: Choose produce that looks fresh and in season when possible. Buying seasonal and local produce will help ensure better value as well as better flavor. Aim for four cups a day - in a variety of colors. The different pigments in vegetables (and fruit) represent the variety of vitamins and plant chemicals they contain. Fresh and local is optimal; frozen is okay.
The Power of Protein: Protein comes in three different groups: animal protein, low-fat or fat-free dairy protein, and vegetable protein.
Animal protein: Red Meat - choose lean cuts of meat, such as tenderloin, round, chuck or sirloin. USDA Choice or USDA Select grades of beef usually have lower fat content. Try to find ground meat that is at least 95 percent lean. Poultry - the leanest poultry is the skinless white meat from the breast of chicken or turkey. Seafood - Select fish and seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, sardines (water packed), herring, mackerel, trout and tuna.
Dairy Protein: Choose fat-free (skim) milk or 1% (low-fat) milk, and plain fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese. And while fat-free cheeses are very low in cals, low-fat and reduced fat cheeses have more flavor and better texture and “meltability.” The latter do have more calories and fat grams so you’ll have to decide where your preferences lie. If dairy intolerant, select soy products that are fortified with calcium. Egg whites are also an excellent fat-free source of protein.
Vegetable Protein: Excellent sources include beans (no salt), other legumes and traditional soy foods, such as tofu and edamame.Many of these foods are loaded with fiber, too.
Don’t Go Against the Grain: Choose whole-wheat bread and pastas, brown rice, grain mixes, quinoa, bulgur, and barley. When choosing bread products and cereals, read the label, aim for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, and the less sugar, the better. In the ingredient list, the first item should read “whole wheat” or “whole grain” instead of “enriched.” If you’re going gluten-free, you need to avoid all wheat, rye and barley and choose oats that are gluten-free.
Don’t go no-fat, go good fat: There are four major types of fats: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats. In general, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health. Saturated and trans fats are known as the “bad fats” because they increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol. Choose good fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in foods like nuts, seeds, olives, olive oils and avocados.
Eat, Don’t Drink, Your Calories: Skip sweet beverages, including fruit juice, sugar-laced sports drinks and soda. Instead choose beverages such as milk, water and green tea.
Condiments and Sweet Stuff and Extras: Try to allocate a small number of calories (100 to 150) for extras. Choose sugar-free or reduced sugar sweets or desserts and low-sugar and low-sodium condiments. Take advantage of herbs and spices to add flavor to your foods.
Next week - I’ll cover the really fun part - cooking!
Recipe of the week:
Frosty Pumpkin Smoothie Like pumpkin pie in a glass!
132.7 Calories, 24.6g Sugar, 2.5mg Cholesterol, 75.6mg Sodium, 6.1g Protein, .3g Fat
Yield: Serves 2
• 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
• 1/2 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt and extra for garnish
• 1/2 cup fat-free milk
• 2 tablespoons agave nectar
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 5 ice cubes
• A pinch of ground nutmeg
1. Combine the pumpkin, yogurt, milk, nectar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and ice in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the smoothie into a chilled glass and garnish with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Cheryl Forberg, RD is a James Beard award-winning chef and nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” A NYT bestselling author, her latest book is “Flavor First” (Rodale). She lives on a farm in Napa, California.
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