Add this to your “Honey dew” list

Study after study shows that people basically eat three pounds of food a day, regardless whether the food is high calorie or low calorie. Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a nutrition research at Pennsylvania State University, has conducted a ton of research on appetite and has found time and time again that people feel just as full after a low-calorie meal vs. a high-calorie meal, provided that both meals contain the same volume of food.  

So what does this mean? Foods with high volume and low calories are a dieter’s best friend. Watermelon, honeydew and soup all have one thing in common: they are full of water and fiber and low in calories. Basically, you will feel more full and satisfied from a cup of melon than a slice of cheesecake.

Honeydew is a great high volume food because about 90 percent of the melon is water.  Research shows that water in foods, such as melon and soup, do a better job of appetite control than solid food plus a glass of water, although no one knows why. The Volumetrics Diet explains this in more detail and is a great everyday diet solution.

Honeydew is not only great because it is low-calorie, it also is full of potassium, vitamin A, calcium and magnesium. One cup of honeydew has a whopping 404 mg of potassium! Potassium can lower rates of heart disease and stroke and is a key component of healthy blood pressure.  One study found that people with high blood pressure who ate potassium-rich foods lowered their risk of fatal stroke by 40 percent.

Honeydew and other melons are a great choice for keeping kids hydrated during the hot days of summer and satisfying the entire family’s appetite between meals.

Now that summer is approaching, melons, such as honeydew and watermelon are in season. So add honeydew to your “honey do” list and pick one up for your family.

I personally prefer to eat melon plain and I am not a fan of it in soup or smoothie’s, but I found a great recipe on Epicurious for a honeydew-lime Popsicle that I wanted to share with you. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Do you like honeydew? What do you think about the study that high-volume foods are the key to weight loss? I’d love to hear from you!

Honeydew Lime Popsicles


  • 1/4 cup superfine or regular granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 (3 1/2-lb) ripe honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (4 cups)
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice


  • Dissolve sugar in water by stirring if using superfine or by heating in a small heavy saucepan if using regular granulated (then cool).
  • Blend half of melon and half of lime juice in a blender until smooth. Add syrup and remaining melon and lime juice and purée until smooth. Force purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart glass measure or bowl, pressing on solids and then discarding them.
  • Pour mixture into molds and freeze until slushy, about 2 hours.
  • Insert sticks, and then freeze Popsicles until completely hardened, at least 6 hours.

Are Fries Healthy?

I was thrilled when Hungry Girl released her first cookbook with tons of butternut squash recipes. My favorite is the butternut squash fries. Yum! My kids don’t like butternut squash, but they LOVE butternut squash fries. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t fooled into thinking they are “French fries,” but any recipe that gets my kids eating a new vegetable is a winner in my eyes. Butternut squash fries are simple to make. Just peel and cut the butternut squash into strips, coat with non-stick cooking spray, sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Squash is on the list as one of the 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. One of my favorite vegetables is butternut squash. It brings back memories of my Mom’s Thanksgiving dinner, as she would make it every year, alongside the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. I carry on the same tradition, but my family doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the bright orange vegetable. At press time, I’m the only one that enjoys the veggie (more for me!) but that doesn’t stop me from trying!

I am a runner, training for my first marathon at Disney World in January 2011, so I try to eat a diet high in potassium to keep running cramps at bay. So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that acorn squash is a potassium powerhouse. Did you know that one cup of acorn squash has almost twice the amount of potassium as a banana, topping the charts with 896 milligrams? Compare this to 451 grams of potassium in one banana or 348 grams in one cup of milk and you will see why these stats are so impressive. Potassium isn’t only for runners though, it is a crucial mineral for preventing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis and cancer.

Acorn squash is also a fiber heavy-weight, proving a whopping nine grams in every cup, with only 115 calories. I’ve blogged previously about my enthusiasm for fiber as a weight loss tool, but I’ll say it again, I think that increased fiber intake is one of the most important factors in keeping hunger at bay and keeping weight off. Not only does a high-fiber diet contribute to weight loss, but it also can lower the risk of developing many diseases, including: heart disease, cancer, diabetes and kidney stones.

Speaking of weight loss, squash is an excellent food choice for dieters because it has high water content. Dr.  Barbara Rolls at Pennsylvania State University conducted research that showed foods that are “high-volume,” meaning that they have a lot of bulk for little calories, are integral for a successful weight loss program. I blogged about the benefits of the Volumetrics diet in a previous post and I am a huge proponent of high-volume foods for weight loss. I love to eat, so I’m a huge fan of any food that allows me to eat a lot for little calories (popcorn, squash, watermelon and soup.)

Butternut squash is a vitamin A superstar, proving an astonishing 22,868 IUs per cup! Vitamin A is crucial in eye health, especially helping with night vision. I read an interesting study recently about the health benefits of Vitamin A and beta-carotene (in which is butternut squash is also high.) This study published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology, Volume 45, Issue 10, pages 2201-2007, October 2010, evaluated the bioaccessibility of vitamin A and beta-carotene in cooking of yellow-orange vegetables. This study actually found that stir-frying in the presence of a small quantity of oil, brought an enormous increase in the bioaccessibility of beta-carotene and vitamin A. This is most likely due to the fact that fats, such as oil, help the body better absorb vitamins and minerals. This presents an interesting new concept that fats are not evil. The next time you prepare winter squash or sweet potatoes, think about cooking them with a little olive oil to increase your body’s absorption of the vitamins and minerals.

I want to hear what you think – how do you feel about this new study that finds cooking oil increases the bioaccessibility of vitamin A in yellow-orange vegetables? Will this new research change the way you prepare your foods?

Try out this recipe to reap the health benefits of squash and reap the benefits found from this new study.

Butternut Squash Stir-fry


  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup asparagus
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds


Combine lemon juice and honey, set aside. Heat coconut oil on high in a skillet or wok. Sautee garlic for a few minutes and then add squash. Add asparagus and stir-fry for three minutes. Remove from heat and toss with honey mixture. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

Day 52: Wonderful Watermelon

Watermelon has three key elements that create a “perfect storm” for making it one of the healthiest foods on the planet: high water content, high levels of lycopene and high levels of vitamin A.

Let’s start with the high water content. Study after study shows that high volume foods are one of your best allies for weight loss. The reason why is that water, as a part of food, has a very satisfying and filling effect. The fascinating thing is that these studies show that food with water incorporated in them, such as vegetable soup, watermelon (92% water) and cucumbers (97% water), are even more satisfying than eating the same amount of food with a glass of water. So, a bowl of vegetable soup will fill you up more than eating a bowl of broccoli and downing a big glass of water. When water is bound to food it slows down the absorption and lasts longer in your tummy. Read more about foods with high water content and how they can contribute to weight loss.

But the benefits don’t stop there. The lycopene in watermelon (also in tomatoes) has been shown to lower the rate of prostate, lung and stomach cancer. Another fascinating fact is that lycopene supplements have not shown that same benefit, there is something about consuming the lycopene in their natural surroundings with other food ingredients that results in the health benefits.

To top it off, the vitamin A in watermelon is great for your eyes and has outstanding antioxidant properties.

For me the best benefit of watermelon is the taste! The flavor screams summer and I know that the lazy days of summer have arrived when I first bite into a juicy slice of watermelon. Memorial Day weekend just passed and I had watermelon every single day! It is a perfect food to serve at a cookout or when you have company because you can just slice it up and everyone can munch on it while waiting for the burgers to come off of the grill.

I personally like watermelon just as it is without any adornment, but I did find a great site with tons of Watermelon recipes. One in particular that I thought was great for kids is watermelon skewers. I don’t know about you, but my kids are more willing to try something new if it’s on a stick!

Watermelon Skewers


  • Watermelon
  • Cubes of turkey breast
  • Cubes of light Swiss cheese


  • Alternate the watermelon, turkey and cheese on a wooden skewer or plastic straw. It’s a complete meal on a stick!

Do you like watermelon? How do you enjoy it? Have you ever made a watermelon salsa?

Day 39: You can't-a-have-a de Mango!

I don’t know about you, but Mango from Saturday Night Live gave me the creeps. I think Chris Kattan is funny, but I preferred him in The Roxbury Guys to his Mango character. Known for his line “You can’t-a-have-a de Mango!” Chris Kattan was wrong because we should indeed “have-a-de Mango!” 

Mangoes are known as the “king of fruit” (just like Michael Jackson was the King of Pop?) Mangoes have been growing in Southeast Asia for more than 4,000 years! In India mango trees are the symbol of love and some even believe that the tree can grant wishes.

Mangoes are great for dieters because they are a high volume food, which I’ve touted before as an excellent way to lose weight (think Volumetrics diet.) An entire mango only has 135 calories, 3 ½ grams of fiber and is loaded with potassium, vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. 

This morning I made a mango, banana, pineapple and protein smoothie. I used unflavored whey protein powder made by Unjury, so I could savor the tropical flavors. It was delish! I actually bought my mango last week and tried to eat it fresh, but I had a heck of a time cutting into it and cutting the flesh away from the huge pit inside. I ended up mangling the beautiful fruit and freezing the little pieces that I managed to cut off. I also had several overripe bananas earlier in the week, so I froze them as well and used them in my smoothie this morning. What a great way to have a refreshing breakfast with fruit that otherwise would have gone to waste!

I should have paid more attention to how to tell if a mango is ripe because I would have had more luck cutting into that sucker. You can tell if a mango is ripe if it is slightly soft to the touch and yields under gentle pressure. You can also quicken the ripening process by placing the mango in a brown paper bag with an apple.

 Have you ever had a mango? Do you like them?