Veg Out! 7 Meat-Free Protein Sources that Satisfy

myfitnesspal seitan with capers

Lorimer Street KitchenIf you’ve checked your Twitter feed in the last few hours, chances are #MeatlessMonday has popped up at least once. The goal of this trend is to kick-start your week with veggies, and become more aware of what you are eating in general, so you can make healthier choices all week. Why go meat-free for the day? Cutting back on your meat intake comes with tons of healthy benefits—to name a few: it decreases your chances of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

If the idea of avoiding meat, even just for one day, leaves you wondering, “How will I get enough protein?” You’re not alone—it’s a worry plenty of people have. But it turns out getting enough of this important nutrient is easier than it seems. There are plenty of plant-based sources of protein that are easy to cook and taste amazing, too.

Tofu & Tempeh Tofu is probably the first food that comes to mind when thinking of vegetarian meat substitutes, and for good reason! Tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans, and they’re incredible sources of protein. Tempeh contains 15 grams of protein per half cup, while tofu offers 20 grams! Both have unique textures that easily absorb the flavor of whatever you are cooking, making them ideal in stir-fries, or seasoned and baked.

Seitan While not as well known as tofu, seitan is a versatile meat substitute made from wheat gluten that packs tons of protein—32 grams per half cup! It’s a great replacement for poultry, and is very simple to cook.

Quinoa Most grains are low in protein, but quinoa has more than 8 grams per cup! Quinoa is delicious as a side dish (try it in place of rice), and works well as a hot or cold breakfast. You can also toss a handful of cooked quinoa into soup or chili to thicken things up.

Beans Beans are little powerhouses of nutrition. High in both protein and fiber, they keep you feeling full longer and provide your body with tons of energy. How much protein are we talking about? 1 cup of kidney beans is loaded with 15 grams of protein, and 1 cup of black beans contains 42 grams! Keep in mind: canned beans tend to be high in sodium, so be sure rinse them before using.

Nuts & Nut Butters Nuts get a bad rap for being fattening, but they are packed with both healthy fats and protein. Most varieties have 5 to 6 grams of protein per ounce, which means you don’t have to eat too many to get a protein boost. To maximize the health benefits, look for unsalted, raw, or roasted nuts, and opt for nut-butters made without any added sugars or oils.

Seeds Like their nutty counterparts, seeds, such as sunflower, sesame and poppy, are filled with protein and healthy fats. Sunflower seeds, for example, have almost 15 grams of protein per cup. They’re delicious toasted and sprinkled on top of a salad.

Greens While green vegetables may not be the protein powerhouses that beans, nuts, and seeds are, ounce for ounce, they still hold their own. Packed with fiber to keep you feeling full, 2 cups of spinach (easy side salad!) contains 2 grams of protein, and a cup of broccoli has 3 grams.

Need help planning a plant-based meal? Try this easy Lemon & White Wine Seitan with Quinoa and Broccolini dish that I created just for MyFitnessPal. (The recipe is in the database for easy logging!)

What do you think of #MeatlessMonday? Are you planning a meat-free meal today?


Jennifer Pantin HeadshotWriter, lawyer, and healthy-eating proponent, Jennifer Pantin loves experimenting with new, healthy recipes in her Brooklyn kitchen. Her blog, Lorimer Street Kitchen, is where she shares this passion for food and the belief that healthy recipes can be good for you and delicious, too. Connect with Jennifer and Lorimer Street Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

The Truth About Rice Cakes

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During the low-fat, high carbohydrate craze of the late 1980’s and 1990’s, rice cakes quickly became one of the ultimate diet foods. So we bought them in bulk thinking that, if we swapped our cookies and crackers for 70 calorie rice cakes, we’d lose weight and look great.

They may be low in calories, about 35 a pop, but when eaten alone they can actually sabotage weight loss. If you look at the Nutrition Facts Label on a package of rice cakes, you’ll see a whole lot of nothing. No fat, no fiber, minimal vitamins and minerals, and maybe 1 gram of protein–all important nutrients that nourish your body, improve satiety and actually keep your mind off of snacking.

The truth about rice cakes is this. Rice cakes are little more than refined carbohydrates (which are quickly digested and converted into sugar) that have been sprinkled with salt, and possibly sprayed with some artificial flavoring. Their glycemic index, an indicator of how a food affects blood sugar, ranks pretty high at 82 compared to pure sugar which tops out at 100. Instead of taking your mind off of food, snacking on rice cakes on an empty stomach can induce a spike in blood sugar that might just leave you feeling sluggish and craving, you got it, more rice cakes.

Instead of reaching for those rice cakes the next time hunger strikes, try choosing a nourishing snack with healthy fats, protein and fiber. Here are five quick and easy ideas:

  • A whole grain wrap with peanut butter and sliced banana
  • Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola and berries
  • Hummus with veggies and a serving of pita chips for dipping
  • A 1-ounce (28g) serving of almonds and a small piece of fruit
  • 100% whole grain toast with topped with a sliced hard boiled egg, avocado and a sprinkle of salt & pepper

And if you can’t entirely let go of rice cakes quite yet, fear not. Buy the plain variety and flavor them yourself with something nourishing, like a tablespoon of almond butter and fresh peach slices!

The 2 Running Workouts You Need to Drop Pounds Fast!

myfitnesspal 2 running workouts to lose weightPEAR Sports

Like most runners, I run first and foremost because I enjoy it, and only secondarily for the many health benefits that come with it. But those benefits are nothing to sneeze at. Running is proven to boost cardiovascular health, keep the brain youthful, and reduce the risk for chronic diseases, such as type-2 diabetes. Running also happens to be the most effective form of exercise for weight loss. Studies show men and women who run shed more pounds than those who spend an equal amount of time walking or swimming. Still, many runners don’t lose as much weight as they could because of one simple mistake: they’re not training at the right intensity. Fortunately, you can avoid this trap with heart-rate based workouts.

According to research, there are two types of runs that are especially effective for weight loss. The most powerful program is one that combines the two: fat-burning runs and high-intensity interval runs. Fat-burning runs are slow, steady runs undertaken at the intensity where the muscles rely most heavily on fat for fuel. This type of run torches more fat than any other type. High-intensity interval runs feature multiple short bursts of very fast running. These workouts promote weight loss by keeping the body’s metabolism elevated for hours afterward.

If you’re like most runners, you spend very little time running in either the low-intensity zone that maximizes fat burning or the high-intensity zone that boosts post-exercise metabolism. More than likely, you’re running between these zones, at a moderate intensity that is not as effective for weight loss. Why? It’s probably because most of us tend to run by feel, and it just so happens that the natural running pace for a majority of runners falls in the moderate-intensity range.

Heart-rate based workouts offer a way out of the moderate-intensity trap. With a heart-rate monitor, running in the maximum fat-burning zone or the high-intensity zone is as easy as targeting your correct heart-rate range. In the five-zone system I use as a coach, for example, the zones are based on lactate-threshold heart rate (not maximum heart-rate), and can be established by running a 30-minute time trial and noting your average heart rate during the last ten minutes, or by using the Pear mobile app. The zones break down like this:

Zone 1: 75-80% of lactate threshold (LT) heart rate (HR)—Very easy effort; use this for warming up.
Zone 2: 81-89% of LT HR—The fat burning zone! Comfortable enough to hold a conversation.
Zone 3: 96-100% of LT HR—“Hard-ish” effort; you can still speak in short sentences.
Zone 4: 102-105% of LT HR – Hard effort; the pace is sustainable, but talking is not.
Zone 5: 106%+ of LT HR—The high-intensity zone! This pace can only be kept for a few minutes.

Here are two simple workouts that tap into the power of heart-rate based training to add to your weekly routine:

Fat-Burning Run: Warm up with 5 minutes of easy jogging in Zone 1. Next, increase your effort slightly to Zone 2, which is where the maximum rate of fat burning occurs. Stay in Zone 2 for at least 20 minutes and then cool down for 5 minutes back in Zone 1

High-Intensity Interval Run: Warm up with 5 minutes of easy jogging followed by 5 minutes of comfortable running in Zone 2. Next, increase your effort to Zone 4. After 2 minutes, reduce your effort to Zone 1 and recover for 3 minutes. Repeat this pattern—2 minutes in Zone 4, and 3 minutes in Zone 1—four times. Finally, cool down with 5 minutes of easy jogging in Zone 1. [Note: Your heart rate will climb through at least the first half of each 2-minute interval, and it may not reach Zone 4 until near the end. Don’t try to run faster to get your heart rate into Zone 4 sooner. Instead, run at the slowest steady pace that is sufficient to elevate your heart rate into Zone 4 before each interval is complete. Likewise, your heart rate will steadily fall during each 3-minute recovery period. Don't worry if it doesn't get all the way to Zone 1 before the next Zone 4 interval starts. Just run slow enough so that your heart rate would reach Zone 1 eventually.]

What do you say, ready to try heart-rate based running? What’s your favorite running workout? 


Matt FitzgeraldMatt Fitzgerald is an award-winning endurance sports journalist and bestselling author of more than 20 books on running, triathlon, fitness, nutrition, and weight loss, including Brain Training for Runners and Racing Weight. His byline appears regularly in national publications including Men’s Journal, Outside, and Women’s Running. An experienced running and triathlon coach and certified sports nutritionist, Matt serves as a Training Intelligence Specialist for PEAR Sports. His FREE One-Week Weight-Loss plan is available on the PEAR Sports app in the Channels section. Get the PEAR Sports app on iTunes or Google Play

An Important Update About Your MyFitnessPal Account

Dear MyFitnessPal Users,

You might have heard about a widespread internet security vulnerability called Heartbleed, and you may be wondering whether it impacts MyFitnessPal. Heartbleed is a bug that security researchers recently discovered in a core encryption library that secures most internet sites.

This issue is projected to be impacting as many as two-thirds of sites across the web. Fortunately, we have no evidence that any of our users’ data has been breached. Nevertheless, as soon as this disclosure was made public, we immediately upgraded all of our systems to mitigate any potential issues.

(Update 4/11/2014: To be specific, we patched the vulnerability and updated our SSL certificate with new private [and corresponding public] keys. We have since also requested and deployed an entirely new SSL certificate and revoked our old certificate, to eliminate any confusion.)

Due to the potential severity of this bug we would like to suggest that you take two simple steps:

1. Change your MyFitnessPal password. Here’s how.

2. Disconnect and immediately reconnect your connected accounts (like Fitbit or Runtastic). This will refresh your authentication tokens and increase your security.

At MyFitnessPal, the security and privacy of your data is important to us. Again we have no reason to believe that any data was actually compromised. We will continue to monitor this threat and will keep you informed going forward.

Thank you,
Vijay Raghunathan
Vice President of Engineering, MyFitnessPal

10 Healthy Foods to Boost Your Fertility

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Ovia_fertility mobile app icon

In addition to regular exercise and other healthy-living behaviors, eating certain foods can greatly improve your chances of getting pregnant. Packing your (and your partner’s) diet with nutrients like folic acid and vitamin D can help improve the health of your eggs and prepare your body for pregnancy, ensuring the best nine months possible when you do conceive. Try adding these ten fertility superfoods to your pre-conception eating plan today!

1. Salmon Fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate your reproductive hormones and increase blood flow to reproductive organs. Salmon is an especially good source of omega-3s, and it’s easy to cook and put on a salad, or serve with a side of healthy veggies. If you don’t eat fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and supplements also contain omega-3s.

2. Raspberries Raspberries are bursting with antioxidants, molecules found in certain vitamins and nutrients that fight free radical damage within your body, and help support your fertility—and your partner’s by protecting his sperm from oxidative stress. Raspberries, and other berries, are also high in vitamin C and folate, both of which are essential to female fertility and early baby development.

3. Quinoa Quinoa is a complex, gluten-free carbohydrate with fertility-boosting folic acid, fiber, and zinc. Unlike refined carbs (think: processed flour, white bread, white rice, and sugary snacks), which can disturb your menstrual cycle and reproductive hormones, the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, like quinoa, keep blood sugar levels stable and help regulate ovulation. Bonus: Quinoa is known to support baby brain development, too.

4. Oranges Citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are a rich source of vitamin C, which helps stabilize your ovulation and encourages the release of an egg each month. They’re also rich in folate, a naturally occurring form of folic acid that is known to improve your chances of conception and reduce sperm abnormalities in men. You and your partner should aim to eat over 600mcg of folic acid daily.

5. Olive oil Olive oil is loaded with vitamin E, a nutrient naturally found in the fluid of the follicle that houses your eggs. It also contains healthy monounsaturated fats (the “good” kind) that help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, which in turn ups your chances of getting pregnant.

6. Whole milk Studies show regularly consuming high-fat dairy foods decreases the risk of infertility in women, while low-fat dairy products can actually increase this risk. High-fat dairy products have calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that are great for both bones and reproductive health. However, your body needs fat to fully absorb calcium in milk, so it’s important to stock up on “whole” dairy items, rather than “low-fat” or “non-fat.” Which means whole milk lattes and ice cream are totally cool—as long as you stick to ones made from natural ingredients and don’t overindulge.

7. Water Not technically a food, water makes this list because it’s critical to your overall health. Plus, consuming 8 or more glasses a day will also boost your baby-making chances. Water is essential for transporting hormones, and for producing the watery cervical mucus that appears during ovulation and makes it easier for sperm to travel to the egg. Try to drink before you feel thirsty—because by then you’re already dehydrated.

8. Kale Kale, along with its leafy green cousins, like spinach and Swiss chard, is a major fertility booster. Kale is high in folate, iron (which promotes healthy red bloods cells), calcium, and manganese (a mineral recognized to help women get pregnant faster). You’ll also find more than half of your daily vitamin A requirement in just one cup of the green stuff. Be sure to wash vegetables well before eating them, to remove any lingering pesticides used in the growing process.

9. Avocado Loaded with everything from folate and vitamin K, to Omega-3 fatty acids, avocado is a natural fertility booster. There are so many delicious ways to enjoy avocado—spread it on toast, toss it in a salad, serve it with scrambled eggs, make guacamole, and more. Despite being high in calories and fat, it’s okay to have about one avocado daily (as long as you’re keeping track of your overall calorie intake), because they contain healthy kinds of fats.

10. Eggs Packed with protein, vitamins B12 and E, and often enriched with monounsaturated fat, such as DHA, eggs are frequently cited as among the most effective foods for promoting your fertility. If you’re having trouble choosing eggs at the grocery store, look for a dozen that contain DHA or other Omega-3 fatty acids. And don’t toss out the yolk before cooking—that’s where you’ll find most of the fertility-boosting nutrients.

Are you trying to get pregnant? Which of these healthy foods are you planning to eat more often?


Sarah Downey Ovuline headshotSarah A. Downey is a writer at Ovuline, which makes the Ovia smartphone app to help women conceive faster and have healthier pregnancies. Over 60,000 couples have had babies using Ovia Fertility. Follow Sarah at @SarahADowney.