Monday, August 30, 2010

Weigh In #2: Keeping Hope Alive

Well, here we are again. Another week gone by, and now it's time for me to announce my progress to the Garden Lites community. No pressure, right? Let me start by saying it helps to know I'm not alone in this. I am hearing from readers who are taking part in whatever ways they can, my colleague Peg and I share encouraging words throughout the week, and even my mother has hopped aboard the "Get Real" Challenge! To all of you, thanks for the support and keep up the good work!

I made progress this week by starting to workout every other morning. It's been tough to change my routine, but on days I jog in the morning I feel much better throughout the whole day. The biggest challenge was combating the extra hunger I got after working out. That was my downfall. When you work out your body craves more calories and it's a challenge to make those healthy calories. I am trying to break the cycle of rewarding myself with food. I've looked up lots of articles on how to reward yourself without Peanut Butter M&Ms but so far I am unconvinced. Hehe.

I heard through the grapevine that Peg has done pretty well this week; once I get her official number in I'll post it! No matter the number, good job to her especially since she is on the road quite a bit and it takes a big commitment to follow the "get real" mentality especially when it's not the easiest route.

This week I only lost 1 pound. I blame my love of chocolate. Before I got too down on myself for not having as dramatic results as last week I took a moment to think about it. One pound is an achievement! That means I've lost a total of 5 pounds in only 2 weeks. Looking at it that way I was pretty proud of myself. It's hard for me to see where the weight is coming from, but I can definitely feel what it's done for me. The healthier lifestyle I've taken on (even with my moments of weakness) has really improved my digestion. With all the vegetables I'm eating now, and the smaller portions of meals, I am not lethargic after meals, I don't get bloated and gassy, I feel full but still light after a meal instead of weighted down.

So onward and downward (in weight) for this coming week! With that 1 pound under my belt (actually not anymore!) I am motivated that this week I will do better. I am keeping a realistic goal and just hoping for another 1 pound this week. Anything more would be great, anything less I'll chalk up to muscle mass gained. :)

Please fan us on Facebook and share your progress! Also, if you need help stocking your freezer, look for our COSTCO pack in the NY area [this post has all the locations]. The Grilled Zucchini Souffle is a delicious new flavor that's doing really well at COSTCO!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recipe Box: Homemade Veggie Burgers

It's been a while since we've shared a good recipe to pair with one of our Garden Lites dishes. Today, I've found a great homemade veggie burger recipe that, when topped with feta cheese and paired with our Spinach Souffle, is a delicious combination of health and flavors!

I chose this dish because I live with a vegetarian. It has been a challenge to adjust my cooking style, but just like all challenges, all it took was some mental adjusting. You can find protein in more than just chicken. This Black Bean Veggie Burger has 11.2g of protein per serving! Combine with the 9g in the Spinach Souffle and you've got yourself 40% of the average 50g of protein recommended per day. (USDA Charts)

Today's recipe is from which I use often when looking for different healthy homecooked meal ideas. (Photo courtesy of cook Baskerville_gal)

[Get Real Note: Be sure to swap out healthier ingredients when necessary. Low sodium beans would cut back a lot of the sodium in the recipe. Simple exchanges can help big changes in the long run!]

Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

Yields: 4 Patties

Nutritional Information
Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Servings Per Recipe: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 198
Total Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 53mg
Sodium: 607mg
Total Carbs: 33.1g
Dietary Fiber: 9.8g
Protein: 11.2g

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Take the time to Meet the Team!

Click over to our "Get Real" Challenge tab and learn more about myself and my fellow Garden Lites Gal, Peg!

While you're there, learn about the challenge and then email us your methods to getting and staying real about how you eat.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mini-Milestone Day!

"Stop talking. Start walking." -L.M. Heroux

A dear friend of mine sent me an email yesterday in which he encouraged me to begin my relationship with my treadmill. While to some that may seem like something you don't tell a woman, I really appreciated his advice. He too had set forth to get real about his diet and exercise some time ago and has done exceptionally well. While the advice he gave wasn't revolutionary, it was sensible; and it made me see that nothing but my laziness was holding me back from starting to exercise. Here was my "aha" moment:

"Most of all: find what works for you! If something doesn't work for you, then you will try to avoid it." -J.H.

I had kept telling myself I would get on my treadmill after work each day, completely ignoring the reality that I am always too tired to follow through. If I wanted to get real about moving, I had to focus more on what works for me. So before bed I set out my workout clothes, even untied my shoelaces, set my asthma inhaler and favorite magazine on the railing, and bottle of water within reach. I was taking away the hurdles for myself. I even took the time to adjust the incline on the treadmill beforehand so I couldn't lazy out of just leaving it at the lowest setting.

And it worked! This morning I got up and got moving! I was so surprised that it really wasn't as bad as I had made it out to be in my head. Even the cat was surprised that the giant clothes hanger moved!

Now I am not going to fold it up when I am done, and will leave it ready to go for tomorrow. Once I make this part of my routine, maybe I won't even need to set everything out for myself. But until then, I'll be untying my laces in the evening and maybe leaving myself encouraging notes to find in the morning.

Today's mini-milestone: Walked 1 mile at the highest incline (10) in 20 minutes.
Next challenge: Repeat tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weigh In #1: Old Me vs. New Me

No matter what the numbers show after the first week of the "Get Real" Challenge, I want to highlight all the great changes that have occurred in my daily life. I have a long ways to go, and a treadmill to still dust off, but by taking on one aspect at a time, I think I'm building better long term success.

This first week was spent becoming more aware of my food choices. Next week I will start incorporating more exercise.

Much like the old Highlights magazine characters Goofus and Gallant, I enjoy comparing my "before" mentality to my "after."

Old Me... would binge in the evenings on sweets and salty treats.
New Me... waits 30 minutes if a craving hits and then only has a morsel.

Old Me... would drive around a parking lot twice to find the closest spot possible.
New Me... designates a far away spot as my "reserved" parking.

Old Me... went shopping based on routine and pretty packaging.
New Me... takes the time to read nutrition labels before purchasing products.

Old Me... would go camping and bring chips and cookies for food.
New Me... packs veggie sticks, apples and bananas as healthy snacks.

Old Me... would have to worry about what to cook for dinner.
New Me... doesn't stress since it's so easy to pop a Garden Lites into the microwave or oven.

Old Me... did dishes.
New Me... recycles my empty Garden Lites bowl.

So either way, loss or not, I have made great improvements!

Okay, enough stalling. Time to get the scale.

Drumroll please.............

4 pounds lost!

Awesome! I can't wait to see how I do once I start incorporating the next step in the challenge - moving more!

Hope you guys are just as excited with your first week results, feel free to share your losses here or on our Facebook page!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pep Talk for the Weekend

Getting real is not about deprivation, it's about moderation.

As we approach the weekend, keep in mind that you CAN have that little treat if you have it in small amounts. Whenever beginning a new lifestyle change, often we police ourselves so strictly we set unrealistic expectations. If you cut yourself off of your favorite unhealthy foods cold turkey, you are setting yourself up to fail. Pace yourself, keep in mind our tips to eat smaller portions, and you'll do fine.

Read labels this weekend and we'll see you for weigh in on Monday!

Worried you missed the point to join in the "Get Real" Challenge? It's never too late! What we have started is an ongoing effort to eat healthier and raise awareness of the good food choices you have available to you. Hop aboard and start to assess your current eating habits. Where can you improve? One easy way to start is to begin eating Garden Lites souffles! With great health benefits like high protein, low fat and dietary fiber in a single serving packed with vegetables, you'll be feeling better before you know it.

Share your story with us on our Facebook page!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Truth About Serving Sizes

GL Focus: Portion Control

Today I researched "cheating." No, things aren't rocky at home. But I have had trouble with my wandering stomach. My diet before consisted of so many sweets in such large quantities that to re-train it to be healthy has been an uphill battle.

The one Garden Lites a day is going really well and I think that's giving me a big boost, but I still am trying to figure out how to curb my sweet tooth. I once met an elderly woman who, when asked how she has stayed in good health all her life, replied "If I crave something, I wait a month and if I'm still craving it after a month, then I allow myself a little bit of it." A month?! With me, I'm lucky if I last a minute. With those words of wisdom/insanity in the back of my mind, I have increased my wait time from one minute to thirty and I've decreased my portion size from as much as I can inhale to what is specified as one serving.

Have you noticed how out of control our portions have gotten? We are so used to eating such giant amounts of food whether at restaurants or at home, that to sit down and eat only 4 chips as a snack seems criminal. I've also found that people (me included) look at food labels to determine what is a healthy choice based on the nutritional facts, but then eat multiple servings worth and are still confused why they aren't as healthy as the label says they should be. That's one of the great things about the Garden Lites souffles, you don't have to police yourself on how much to have before you stop. Which, for people like me who have very bad will power, is a great thing.

This Good Morning America segment on ABC drives home the point that our views on what a serving size is are way off. [Posted above]

Who's to blame for America getting fat? Instead of giving blame, I think it's time to take responsibility and not only read those labels, but try to abide by them. 2 Tablespoons of dip? Okay. Half of a 16oz. beverage as a drink? Alright. Just because the whole thing is in front of you doesn't mean you need to eat it all.

Try to eat off of a plate or in a bowl instead of out of the bag. Use smaller plates to trick your eye into thinking there's more food. Savor bites instead of wolfing them down. They say only the first few bites of something are what gives you the great taste, after that you're just going through the motions. So enjoy those moments and slow down. If you're going out to eat ask for the waiter to bring a container for your leftovers before the meal so you can portion off how much you'd like to eat in that sitting.

These simple steps can help you control your eating and get real about how much you're supposed to consume. Starting with a Garden Lites can be a great way to train yourself to eat less but eat better. You don't need mass quantities of food in order to get all the nutrients your body needs. Our 7 oz. souffle packs a mean punch with 2 full servings of vegetables, a good dose of dietary fiber, and significant levels of protein. Can your 4 chips give you that? Didn't think so!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Get Real Challenge: Day 2 - Julie

It's funny how your mindset can change once you feel like you're trying to challenge yourself. If you had asked me a week ago if I would pass up on a Chewy Chips Ahoy in exchange for my water with lime... I would have thought you were crazy. Turns out I'm the one who's crazy!

Yesterday we saw what this challenge means for Peg, so I thought I'd share what it means for me. For me, getting real is not a diet, it's a mentality. Thinking more is actually the biggest difference. In the past I wouldn't take a moment to think about the consequences of my eating actions (Will this still feel like a good choice in an hour? Will this make my body feel sluggish? Am I really hungry or just bored?), but now... I am a new woman!

Okay, it's only Day Two. Let's be honest. But here are my Mini-Milestones:
  • My desk is right near the kitchen. Everytime someone passes, they offer me some of whatever they made. I have said no every time today, where in the past I would have said yes to be polite.
  • Cookies were brought into the office, I am pretending they don't exist. If I get enticed to eat them, I will first read the nutrition facts and then ask myself if it's really a good choice. It might be yes, but at least it will be an informed yes.
  • I parked twice as far away in the office parking lot. It felt like no difference at all, but it is a small step I can take to take more steps.
That, and I had a Roasted Vegetable Souffle for dinner last night! I don't know whether it's in my head or not, but I felt better than I normally do after dinner. No gurgling tummy, no heavy stomach loaded with breads and cheeses. We could be onto something...

Target Weight Loss: 20lb
Next Mini-Goal: Get on my treadmill.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Get Real Challenge: Day 1 - Peg

There are 4 of us here at Garden Lites participating in the "Get Real" Challenge. Each one of us will check in periodically and write about our experience.

Here's a little bit from Peg....

What does the "Get Real" Challenge mean for you?

To "get real" means to be realistic and understand what's going on… for me that is why I am joining the Get Real Challenge. This challenge will be different for each person, but the most important thing is to be realistic with your goals. You may want to minimize preservatives & processed foods in your diet by eating “Real Food” with more vegetables, or perhaps it is about weight loss. Whatever the reason, today is the day to SEIZE the moment! I invite you to join in the journey to a healthier YOU and lets have some fun along the way in sharing our stories- All the Best!


Exercise: My Love/Hate Relationship

I live upstairs from a personal trainer. It has always been my hope that, through osmosis, after living above him and his lovely fiance for a little bit that I too would be toned and svelte and perky. Because in my head, perkiness comes with six pack abs. Like a side effect.

But alas, it has not helped. Apparently you still have to work out to be toned. It doesn't flow through the hallway the same way the smell of our super's freshly baked bread has a habit of doing.

I was reading this Weight Watcher's article Learning to Love Exercise and I realized that I am in an emotionally abusive relationship with exercise. I think exercise is great on paper, it has all the qualities I like in an activity, but I tend to make excuses for it quite a bit...

Exercise makes me feel guilty when I haven't hung out with it in a while.
Exercise never calls to me, it just looms over me waiting for me to make the first move.
Exercise always leaves me in pain since I haven't done it in so long.
Exercise never loves me back, it just wants more of my time.
Exercise makes me jealous when other people are in love with it and I am not.

Enough! I have had negative feelings towards exercise for most of my adult life and it's time to take the power back. Since "moving more" is a key aspect of the "Get Real" Challenge, I am making a promise to myself (and you) to create a healthier relationship with exercise. It reminds me of our cross country slogan back in middle school "Pain is temporary, pride is forever." If I can just make it past that first round of aches, then I can be prideful that I am on the right track. Who knows? Exercise and I might even be friends by the end of this. After all...

Exercise makes me more energized for my day.
Exercise helps me sleep better at night.
Exercise lets me not feel bad about that dessert I had.
Exercise means much more than just running.
Exercise is always there when I need it.
Exercise helps me feel and look great!

Keep movin' everyone!


Friday, August 13, 2010

We're now in NY COSTCOs!

Starting this weekend, Garden Lites will be available in 15 different New York area COSTCOs!

We will only be available for a limited time, so take the opportunity to pick up your 6-pack Garden Lites Grilled Zucchini Souffle now!

The Grilled Zucchini Souffle has all the great nutrition you love about our other products:
  • All Natural, Gluten Free & Kosher
  • 2 full servings of vegetables per Soufflé
  • 140 calories per Soufflé
  • 9 grams of protein per Soufflé
The COSTCO pack includes six 7 oz. souffles and will be available at the following COSTCOs:

#226 – Westbury
#231 – Hackensack
#244 – East Hanover
#305 – Nanuet
#306 – Clifton
#308 – Waltham
#310 – Lawrence
#316 – Staten Island
#318 – Brooklyn
#319 – Dedham
#320 – Union
#323 – Edison
#329 – Ocean Township
#739 – Brick
#1062 – Manhattan

We hope you enjoy and that it helps you stock up for our "Get Real" Challenge!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

GL Focus: Clean Food Label

Which one of the following ingredients is NOT found in Garden Lites Roasted Vegetable Souffle...
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Egg Whites
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Autolyzed Yeast Extract
  • Broccoli
  • Red Peppers
  • Onions
  • Whole Eggs
  • Brown Sugar
  • Rice Flour
  • Sea Salt
  • Salt
  • Spices

You may have guessed that one of those ingredients stands out like a sore thumb - Autolyzed Yeast Extract. It just doesn't sound natural... and it's not! But it can be found in one of our competitor's souffles. (Who shall remain nameless and teaches you to READ YOUR LABELS!)

That additive is classified as a "Flavor Enhancer" according to the FDA. It's made in a lab by taking a processed yeast product and extracting the cell contents. Yum!

By not using any additives or unnatural ingredients, Garden Lites has a "Clean Food Label" and can feel confident that we only make healthy, natural food. You can pronounce all of our ingredients, you know what they are, they occur naturally in the world and are most likely sitting in your pantry. If you're working with great food from the beginning, you don't need a chemistry lab to add flavor, it's already there.

Check the labels of foods you normally eat. Is there something listed that you don't know what it means? Look it up! It might surprise you what you've been consuming. The cleaner the label, the better you can feel - inside, and out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Challenge Prep

The buzz is going around the office about our "Get Real" Challenge, affectionately called the "Double Chin Challenge" by some. Everyone is anxious to start and what began as just Peg and me wanting to prove a point that we have a great product has become the whole company wanting to be healthier.

You'd think working at a food company would be awesome, but it comes at a *hefty* price! People come into our main offices (where I am) each week trying to get their foods added to our product lines. While they don't all get picked, their food does. Pizzas, pretzels, falafel, challah, it's a carb-tastic adventure being here. Our company prides itself on having the best that the kosher market has to offer and is quite healthy in its offerings... Just not at the quantity I tend to consume. It's far too easy to grab a brick of pizza and eat the whole thing in one sitting. This is my chance to stop and rethink how I'm eating.

I've used the past couple weeks as a "last hurrah" for calories, eating that extra dish of ice cream, that additional slice of pizza, all in the name of "greater results" in the end. But what it has taught me is that I am ready to feel better about myself, inside and out. I have been lazy about my eating habits and I need to be proactive before it catches up to me more than it already has.

My first step yesterday was to get a water bottle to inspire me. It's worked so far. I'm more hydrated than ever before. Surprising Bonus - I get to take added breaks from my desk since I've consumed so much water (if you know what I mean)!!

Today, I bought a scale. Scary, right? Don't worry, I'm not going to get on it yet. Just let it decorate my cubicle. We'll let the suspense hover as to what my starting weight is until it's actual "get real time."

If you want to take part in our challenge too, just replace one meal a day with a Garden Lites souffle or dish, "get real" about your food intake, and find ways to work a bit more movement into your life. Oh, and track your results! We'd love to see before and afters and hear how you are getting real and inspiring others!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

5 Easy Steps to Begin Eating Healthier

I'm getting really excited about our upcoming Get Real Challenge and I want to make sure the steps I take aren't just "diet" steps, but true lifestyle changes that I can stick with. In addition to replacing one meal a day with a Garden Lites, we are going to incorporate other healthy ways to be more aware of what's going into our bodies.

After all, your body is your temple, right?

Here's what I'm starting with but I'd love to hear more ideas from you!

#1. Drink more water.

Get one of those BPA water canteens and set a daily goal of how much water to drink. I've tried the CamelBak in the past, but find I'm too lazy to take it all apart and clean out the pieces. This one from Target has all the health and safety qualities I need (BPA Free and not too huge) and it's metal so it keeps the water extra cool. Plus it's a pretty blue! If I fill it up twice a day, then I'll have 50 of my 64 suggested ounces of daily water intake.

#2. Read nutrition labels.

The other day I tossed one of those "ready in 10 minutes in a skillet" meals together and two of us shared it. While it had flavor and convenience, I missed a key fact. EACH SERVING contained 38g of fat. 38?! If I had just taken the time to look at the nutritional facts I would have avoided post-dinner guilt (and a massive stomachache).

#3. Pronounce all of your ingredients.

In the biz we call it a "Clean Food Label". Basically, are you eating something you can pronounce? Sure, a product can say "All Natural" but that is not a government regulated term the same way "Organic" is. Garden Lites is not only all natural, but every single ingredient listed is something you could pick up at your local grocery store. No more of these 12 syllable "hexa-hydro-beta-zia-expialadosious" ingredients cooked up in a lab instead of a kitchen!

#4. Eat mini-meals.

Eating several meals a day helps you control your cravings and take in healthier calories. This article is really helpful in how it lays out the plan. Planning ahead is key, as is stocking your kitchen with good options, instead of unhealthy treats that are "convenient" but costly when it comes to your waistline.

#5. Start by having breakfast.

It sounds counter intuitive to suggest a way to eat less is to start each day by eating. Lots of people believe if they skip meals here or there that they will lose weight, but it's exactly the opposite. As the mini-meal article states, your metabolism needs food to keep going. And to kick off your metabolism each morning you need to eat. Have an egg white omlette rich in protein or oatmeal with heart healthy oats. Try to avoid high carb items which will bring energy levels down instead of boosting them up. Just starting your day fed instead of with a growling stomach, you will see dramatic improvements right away!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thinking Lite

The key to weight loss is burn more calories than you consume.

Simple enough. But surprisingly difficult to do. First you must consume healthy calories, ones that help your body work better, smarter and happier. Then you want to figure out a way to burn those calories that works with your lifestyle. On average, each Garden Lites contains only 140 calories. These calories are packed with vegetables, nutrients, muscle-building protein and other great benefits for you. And they aren’t hard to shed!

As I hang my clothes on my treadmill each day I think “Maybe tomorrow I’ll use you.” hoping one of these times I actually mean it. I’d like to think of my exercise approach as “Glass Half Full.” I’m optimistic that I’ll one day maybe try to exercise. Whereas others remain “Glass Half Empty” folks, coming to terms that they have a very expensive clothes rack. The point I’m trying to make is no matter which glass you are, you have other ways to lose weight every day that you don’t even need to think about.


-The average weight of a woman in the U.S. is about 160 pounds.

-If she consumes 3 meals a day (and 2 snacks), the average meal size should be 500 calories. (with a 2000 calorie diet)

-Garden Lites is a great meal replacer, at only 140 calories you’re already ahead of the game.

Now set aside 30 minutes in your day. Is that laughing I hear? Okay, maybe everyone doesn’t have the luxury to just set aside time for themselves. (And I don’t really count working up a sweat to be “me time” anyway) So let’s see what you would normally do in a day anyway…

  • 30 minutes walking around the supermarket burns 154 calories.
  • 30 minutes mowing the lawn with a power mower burns 173 calories.
  • 30 minutes playing with your kid burns 192 calories.
  • 30 minutes cleaning up around the house burns 134 calories.
  • 30 minutes gardening burns 173 calories.

Courtesy of Internet Fitness.

What is great about these numbers is… you already do them! So any additional exercise on top of them will only increase your burned calories. Walk around the neighborhood after dinner, do an extra loop around the mall, shoot hoops with your kid. No gym membership necessary, no workout equipment, no special outfits needed to begin. Changing one meal a day is a manageable way to start your healthier lifestyle.

Get real about what “working out” means for you and your lifestyle today!