15 Self-Improvement Tips for a Successful September

15 Self-Improvement Tips for a Successful September

September is all about new beginnings. It’s a new season and many people begin new routines that will carry them through the rest of the year. Plus, September has been officially designated as Self-Improvement Month. We can’t think of a better time to start anew and better yourself! It’s time to think of every day as an opportunity to take simple steps that will help you look, feel and live better. To get you started, we”;ve gathered this list of hints that you can use to build a happier and healthier you this September.

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Here are 15 self-improvement tips for a successful September:
1. Reset your habits.


We make lots of choices every day. However, we also do many things without thinking, simply because they”;ve become habits. The good news is that not all habits are harmful. There are many healthy habits that can turn your September into a successful start to a new season. Even better, research shows that it can take as little as 66 days to build a new habit that”;s good for you, says University College London. This can include drinking more water, starting a new exercise routine, getting more sleep or even cutting down on screen time.

Not sure where to start? Check out these 10 workday habits of healthy people! >

2. Practice positivity.


You have more control of your inner dialogue than you realize. By making a concentrated effort to think positive thoughts, you can improve your mood and your health. “;People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook,”; says Johns Hopkins Medicine. They also explain that smiling reduces heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations, even if it’s a fake smile. You really can fake it ’til you make it!

3. Give yourself goals.


Every achievement, big or small, starts with a goal. The goals you are most likely to reach are specific and attainable. Simply saying you want to lose weight or stay in touch with old friends, for example, makes it easy to keep putting those things off. Instead, define your goals as “;fitting into my favorite dress for a wedding”; or “;calling one friend every week.”; Click the link below for tips on writing your own goals!

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4. Accept setbacks.


No matter how motivated and focused we are, sometimes forces beyond our control prevent us from reaching our goals. Too often, that makes us feel like giving up, as if we”;ll never succeed. However, progress rarely goes in a straight line. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that even when we go two steps forward and one step back, we have moved closer to our goal.

5. Try mentoring.


People with experience in careers, parenting and life skills have invaluable knowledge to share with those just starting out. Mentoring can be rewarding for both sides–;mature people get to pass along their well-earned wisdom and younger folks get help in overcoming obstacles. Plus, when one teaches, two learn! Check out The National Mentoring Partnership: They have a “;connector”; database that matches mentors with people who want to be mentored.

6. Widen your circle.


If you have a few close friends, you are fortunate. However, regular contact with a broader range of people is also good for your mental health as you get older. According to research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, “;The midlife wellbeing of both men and women seems to depend on having a wide circle of friends whom they see regularly,”; says ScienceDaily.

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7. Make time to read.


We all spend more time than ever looking at the screens of electronics. It’s time to put down your smart phone and pick up a good old book! Taking time to read books helps both our bodies and our minds: Research shows that reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68 percent, says the University of Minnesota. Whether you enjoy inspirational self-help, biographies or fantasy fiction, there’s a book out there for everyone. Audio books are also a great option when you”;re on the go! Listen to them on your commute, your daily jog or while you’re cooking up a healthy meal.

8. Try new apps.

new apps

Our phones and tablets bring the world to our fingertips and can make our lives easier. You can try apps that help you work on your memory skills, learn new vocabulary, pursue creative ideas, manage your finances, try new workouts and so much more. Want to lose weight this September? Check out the FREE NuMi app from Nutrisystem, available for both Apple and Android devices! It’s the ultimate app for weight loss because it makes it easy for you to track your progress and provides daily information and inspiration. Learn more here! >

9. Learn a second language.


Being able to speak two languages not only allows us to communicate with a wider variety of people but it”;s also good for our brains. According to Annual Review of Linguistics, “research in recent decades has demonstrated that experience with two (or more) languages confers a bilingual advantage in executive functions and may delay the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.” You can learn a new language using one of the many online courses or apps. Solidify your skills by practicing with native speakers whenever possible.

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10. Fix your posture.


Sitting all day and staring at a screen can cause poor posture. This can damage your spine, cause neck and back pain, decrease flexibility and impact breathing, says MedlinePlus. You can avoid these problems by bearing in mind the basics of good posture throughout the day: Harvard Health Publishing recommends keeping your chin parallel to the floor and your shoulders even. You should have a “neutral spine” with your arms at your sides. Be sure to keep your hips level, knees and feet pointing forward and your body weight distributed evenly. Run down that list when you”;re sitting and standing to re-balance yourself and prevent the slumping that pushes us out of alignment.

11. Meditate daily.


Taking a little time each day to clear your mind of your daily cares and concerns can help you enjoy a stress-free September. According to Mayo Clinic, meditation has been shown to decrease the symptoms of high-blood pressure, chronic pain, anxiety, headaches, sleep problems and more. You can find many apps and online videos to help you get started. However, the basics are simple: sit in a comfortable position in a location that”;s free from distractions. Focus on the rhythm of your breathing and let any thoughts or worries that enter your mind drift away. All you need is 10 minutes to get the benefits of this little break from the rush of daily life.

12. Cook often.

healthy cooking

When you prepare your own food, you pay attention to the ingredients and can avoid unhealthy additives like salt and sweeteners. If you don”;t have much experience cooking, start off simple and practice your skills before you take on more elaborate dishes. Don”;t know where to begin? Check out The Leaf Weight Loss Blog for thousands of easy and delicious recipes that fit into your healthy diet! You can also pick up a copy of the book How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. It covers all the basics and shares the little tips and secrets that great home cooks learn after years in the kitchen.

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13. Sleep more.


You might not think of sleeping as a way to improve your life. However, so many of us are chronically tired that it actually harms our mental and physical health. Lack of sleep even increases our chances of overeating and makes it harder for us to lose excess weight, says Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. Try your best to stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule. If you find yourself tired in the middle of the day, taking a 20-minute nap can refresh you without disrupting your night-time sleep.

Learn more about the importance of getting good sleep! >

14. Lose weight.

weight loss

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, being overweight or obese can lead to a wide range of health concerns, such as diabetes and heart disease. Losing the excess weight can reduce your risk of these problems, as well as promote positive feelings, a sense of accomplishment and better self-image. To help you reach a healthy weight, consider trying a convenient meal delivery service that fits into your new September schedule. The all-new Nutrisystem program provides you with a personalized weight loss experience and perfectly portioned meals delivered to your door. You take a quiz and we provide you with a plan that’s tailored to you. Click here to learn more! >

15. Be grateful, be happy.


Simply being thankful for the most basic things that we have in our lives–;food and shelter, health and safety, family and friends–;improves our sense of well-being. Practicing gratitude is associated with “greater life satisfaction,” according to research, published in the medical journal Psychiatry. What better way to improve ourselves this September than to be happier about all the good things we have? Try starting a gratitude journal and reflect on what you’re thankful for throughout the month. It’s a great way to start your day with a positive mind.

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The post 15 Self-Improvement Tips for a Successful September appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

Superfood Saturday: Peaches

Superfood Saturday: Peaches

August is National Peach Month, making it a great time to indulge in this sweet, juicy, nutritious and low-calorie fruit. Peaches are rich in vitamins A and C and also deliver niacin, folate, iron, potassium and manganese, among other vitamins and minerals. One fresh peach is approximately 60 calories and has two grams of fiber.

You might be surprised to learn that the peach tree is actually part of the rose family (as are plums and apricots). It”;s believed that the peach tree originated in China and spread westward. The first peach orchard in the United States was actually in Florida, though Georgia seems to get the most credit for their peach crops and is widely known as the “;Peach State”; due to the quantity they produce. While peaches are available year-round in the United States, they generally taste best and are more affordable during the summer months. Click here to learn how to know when fruits are in season >

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The United States has more than 300 varieties of peaches. Peaches are either yellow- or white-fleshed, though the vast majority in the U.S. are yellow. Peaches grown in Asia are typically white-fleshed.

When shopping for peaches, choose those that are firm to somewhat soft and free of bruises. The best indicator that a peach is ripe is the fruit”;s undertone, also known as its “;ground color.”; This should be dark yellow or golden. The red top color comes from sun exposure and isn”;t a ripeness indicator. A ripe peach also gives off that classic sweet peach smell.

There are many ways to eat a peach. Aside from eating them whole, peaches are also a great add-in for smoothies, salads or yogurt. They are also a great fruit to bake into recipes like waffles, pancakes or muffins.

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Here are three recipes where you can be creative with peaches and still enjoy all of their health benefits:
1. Grilled Peaches

If you”;ve never had a grilled peach, you”;re missing out! Grilling fruit, in general, caramelizes their sugar making the flavor even sweeter. Peach halves can be grilled for a delicious side or dessert. Click here to see the recipe! >

2. Peachy Green Ginger Smoothie

peaches recipe: peachy green ginger smoothie

A delicious blend of peach, banana and spinach make this a nutritious smoothie that”;s also packed with flavor. Combined with almond milk and fresh grated ginger, this peach-based smoothie is ultra-creamy. Click here to see the recipe! >

3. Blackberry Peach Upside Down Muffin-Cakes

peaches recipe: blackberry peach upside down cake

Is it a breakfast or a dessert? This light-and-airy muffin recipe combining blackberries and peaches is reminiscent of a cake but without all the butter or excess sugar. It makes a delicious morning sweet treat or can definitely be served as a healthy dessert. Click here to see the recipe! >

Safe Storage:

When it comes to storing peaches, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends keeping whole peaches in the refrigerator for up to five days after they ripen. Cooked peaches should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator to keep fresh.

If peaches are too hard and still need to ripen, the USDA recommends placing them loosely in a closed paper bag at room temperature. Check daily until they are soft and sweet–;and ready to eat. For tips on how to keep all of your produce fresh, click here. >

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The post Superfood Saturday: Peaches appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

It’s Simple: Eat These 5 Foods, Lose Weight

It’s Simple: Eat These 5 Foods, Lose Weight

You probably think it”;s what you don”;t eat that helps you lose weight. And for the most part, that”;s true. You do have to scale back the amount you eat, but simple weight loss is mainly achieved by adding certain foods to your diet. There are, in fact, a variety of foods to lose weight with.

Their secret? In scientific speak, it”;s satiety. In layman”;s terms, these foods promote a feeling of fullness, which can prevent you from having seconds (and sometimes even finishing firsts, never mind reaching for dessert). This is the key to losing weight fast.

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Simple weight loss starts with adding these secret ingredients to your daily diet plan:
1. Protein

Eggs for breakfast, beans at lunch, lean meat for dinner equals less hunger. Studies have found that adding more protein to the weight loss diet makes people feel fuller and less likely to overindulge. And now we know why. Researchers at several university centers in England and Australia, who published their findings in the journal Cell Biology in 2014, found that increasing protein in the diet food you eat can increase the amount of a hunger-fighting protein called peptide YY (PYY) in the body. When people were given an injection of PYY, they automatically reduced their food intake by a third. Your body takes a longer time to process protein than it does to absorb carbohydrates, which may account for some of its appetite-suppressing effects. Also, a 2015 study in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that l-cysteine, an amino acid found in protein, may be driving appetite control by suppressing ghrelin, the so-called “;hunger hormone,”; In the body.

So how do you work more protein into your weight loss diet plan? If you’re on the Nutrisystem weight loss program, make sure you’re not skimping on your PowerFuels each day. Sure, lean fish and poultry are great sources of protein, but they aren’t the only options (Don’t believe us? Click here for a list of 7 High Protein Foods That Aren’t Chicken >).

Eggs are a great option for PowerFuels since they’re packed with protein and other nutrients, but they won’t break the calorie bank. Click here for 8 Easy Egg Recipes You’re Sure to Love >

Greek yogurt is another great protein option. Click here for our popular Berry Delight Yogurt Parfait recipe >

For additional help incorporating more protein into your diet plan, click here for an entire article on the topic > And, for more surprising sources of this important nutrient, click here >

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2. Soup

Studies done at Penn State University have found that having a low-calorie soup course before the main event can help reduce your subsequent calorie intake by as much as 20 percent! In these studies, the soups, which were broth-based with plenty of vegetables, only added about 100 to 150 calories but plenty of belly-filling fiber. Other studies by Penn State researchers found that a pre-meal salad is also a good choice, as long as it”;s not loaded with fatty ingredients like cheese and meat and drenched in high-fat dressing. While the fatty additions should slow you down-fat promotes fullness, too–;the Penn State studies found that people who chose them didn”;t compensate for the extra calories at their meals.

Click here for 16 plan-friendly soup recipes the whole family will love >

3. Nuts

Because they”;re high in fat and calorie-dense, nuts used to be on every diet food no-no list. Not anymore. They”;re high in protein and dietary fiber, two key appetite-tamping ingredients. They also contain healthy monounsaturated fat. Penn State researchers found that dieters who were allowed to eat nuts while losing weight stayed on their eating plan longer because they didn”;t feel like they were dieting. A study from Harvard recommended nuts as a healthful replacement for other snacks because in their studies, people who ate them regularly weighed less, lost weight faster, and had a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than people who ate them infrequently or not at all.

Or, check out some of our nut-filled favorites, like the Sweet and Salty Snack Mix > or the Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Nut Bar >

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4. Beans

A meta-analysis of all the clinical studies done on eating beans published in 2014 in the journal Obesity found that just one serving of beans, peas, lentils or chickpeas left people feeling 31 percent fuller that those who didn”;t eat these high-fiber foods. As a bonus, regularly eating beans can lower cholesterol by about five percent.

Click here for our bean-packed Chunky Veggie Chili Recipe > Or, click here to check out our Black Bean & Quinoa Pumpkin Soup > Sick of soup? Try this Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad recipe > Or these Veggie & Rice Stuffed Peppers >

5. Spinach

The thick stems of spinach and other similar leafy greens contains class of chemicals called thylakoids, which are being studied for their appetite-curbing effects. In one multi-center study, 60 overweight or obese people who were given an extract of this spinach ingredient experienced reduced appetite and hunger for more than two hours. It may work by slowing the digestion of fat in the diet and by suppressing ghrelin in the stomach. So if you”;re having a pre-meal salad, it”;s a good idea to make it spinach.

Ready to pump up the spinach in your weight loss diet plan? We’ve got plenty of healthy recipes for you, including:

Strawberry Feta Spinach Salad >
Easy, Cheesy Spinach Cups >
Skinny Spinach Dip >
Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Chicken >
Spinach Stuffed Mussels and Shrimp >

And don’t forget to try our healthy salad dressing recipes >

The post It”;s Simple: Eat These 5 Foods, Lose Weight appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

Eco-Friendly: Go Green With Our New Biodegradable Boxes

Eco-Friendly: Go Green With Our New Biodegradable Boxes

You know that eating healthy and losing excess weight are good for your well-being. But did you also know that your healthy diet happens to be the eco-friendly choice?

That”;s right–;your Nutrisystem weight loss plan can help to conserve our natural resources and protect our planet. From properly portioned meals and home delivery to our new and improved “fresh frozen” coolers, our program is a great start to a sustainable lifestyle. We’re taking a big step to help you go green and do even more to help the environment. There”;s only one earth and it”;s up to us to take care of it. We’re all in this together!

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Go green with Nutrisystem! Here are seven ways you can live more sustainably on our program:
1. New Biodegradable Boxes


Packaging and containers accounted for more than 80 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2017, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This was about 30 percent of the trash that ended up in landfills.


Nutrisystem is committed to reducing the environmental impact of our products so that we can help to decrease this shocking percentage. That’s why we’ve developed new biodegradable boxes that are more sustainable than ever!

Designed to reduce the impact of your daily diet on the waste stream, these new “;fresh frozen”; coolers still bring your favorite Nutrisystem foods directly to your door in a strong, secure package. Groundbreaking technology allowed us to create an eco-friendly cooler with the same look, feel and functionality you”;ve come to know and trust from Nutrisystem.


The boxes are made with thermally robust and environmentally-friendly materials, making them great to reuse and repurpose. Use them for storage, gardening or fishing gear. Take them on beach trips, picnics and sports games for your cold foods and beverages. Many places also accept them as donations, such as animal shelters, churches, local shelters and food banks.


These biodegradable boxes are also recyclable, if that”;s the better choice where you live. You can recycle them with polystyrene products at your local recycling plant.

If you don’t have a need for these coolers in your home, you can also dispose of them worry-free. Our new eco-friendly containers are also biodegradable,* so you have the option to put them in the regular trash can and nature will safely break them down at the landfill.

We want you feel good about choosing Nutrisystem for your weight loss goals. Our new eco-friendly “fresh frozen” coolers can help you decrease your waste and live sustainably. Help the planet become a healthier place while you become a healthier you!


2. Home Delivery


Shopping online for at-home delivery of your food rather than driving to the grocery store can help reduce pollution and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The EPA estimates that weekly trips to the grocery store generate 17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the environment. Efficient delivery routes can cut emissions dramatically, the agency reports.

Stocking up on meals and snacks from Nutrisystem will save you many trips to the store while simultaneously decreasing your carbon footprint. We make healthier versions of all your favorite foods, including pasta, burgers, grilled chicken and even pizza. You can also skip that late-night snack run, as we offer plenty of snack options to satisfy your midnight cravings. From our sweet cookies and cupcakes to our popcorn and cheese puffs, you’re sure to find a new favorite treat!

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3. Seasonal Shopping


Supermarket produce shelves are loaded with a staggering variety of choices all year long. However, many items are transported thousands of miles before they get to the store, says the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. When you pick fruits and vegetables that are in season in your region, they don”;t have to travel as far before you eat them, saving resources and protecting the environment. Even better, produce harvested closer to home tends to be fresher, tastier and more nutritious than items that were picked weeks before they to get to you.

You’ll be eating at least four servings of non-starchy vegetables each day on Nutrisystem. You can also add in fresh fruit as your fiber-rich SmartCarbs! Don”;t know what”;s in season where you are? Check out this article for some shopping tips! SeasonalFoodGuide.org also has state-by-state listings so you can find out what to buy in your region at any time of the year.

4. Easy Meal Planning

meal planning

Thinking ahead about what you want to eat each week is a smart weight loss strategy. Meal planning helps you avoid impulsive decisions to eat unhealthy food when you”;re famished and you don”;t have good choices available to you. It”;s also an eco-friendly way to eat: Just like a home delivery, planning and stocking up on the supplies you need reduces the number of trips you make to the grocery store each week.

With your Nutrisystem program, we send you a simple and easy-to-follow meal plan to refer too. This meal plan will lay out what a typical day looks like and provides a detailed view of what you will need to pick up for the week. You can stock up on pantry and freezer staples that you know you will always go back to, such as frozen or canned produce, nuts, beans and more. Print out our comprehensive Grocery Guide and highlight your top picks to streamline your shopping trip. Make sure to also download NuMi, our FREE online tracking app that makes meal planning a breeze.

5. Eat Greener


With your Nutrisystem weight loss plan, you”;re enjoying lots of vegetables and fruits, beans and legumes, nuts and whole grains. You should be adding in at least four servings of non-starchy vegetables each day. These ingredients are naturally high in nutrients but low in calories and saturated fats. They are also packed with fiber, making them a satisfying choice when you’re feeling hungry. Add unlimited quantities of to your Nutrisystem meals, eat them as snacks and enjoy unlimited fresh salads and steamed veggies as side dishes.

In addition to being nutritious and delicious, plant-based foods like vegetables are also the most eco-friendly ingredients on your plate. By making plants like non-starchy veggies the bulk of your dish, your meal will be a more sustainable choice: They require less water, land and energy to produce and transport than meat and dairy products.

For tons of tempting plant-based recipes filled with fresh fruits and veggies, check out the Recipe section right here on The Leaf Weight Loss Blog! Nutrisystem even has a Vegetarian program that’s filled with delicious meatless meals.

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6. Portion Control


Between 30 to 40 percent of the United States food supply goes to waste, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration. That”;s more than 40 million tons of food that ends up in the trash each year, along with all of the resources that went into producing and delivering it.

Planning your meals with just the right portions for you can help you cut down on your food waste and be more eco-friendly. Managing your own portion sizes is also one of the smartest strategies for cutting down on your own waist; that”;s a win-win for you and the environment! Nutrisystem sends you perfectly portioned versions of your favorite meals and snacks. We also teach you how to build your own healthy Flex meals using proper portion sizes.

7. Look for Local

shop local

On Nutrisystem, you will add in some groceries like fresh veggies, fruits, eggs and beans. You can reduce your “;food miles”; even further and help preserve farmland and other open spaces in your area by purchasing these grocery additions from local growers. Buying directly from farmers is an eco-friendly choice, helping them to keep their land in productive use and protecting it from development. “Shopping at the farmers market, maintaining a home garden, or participating in a CSA are wonderful ways to support a local food system,” says the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.

Whether you shop at a farmer”;s market or a roadside stand at an individual farm, you also can ask questions and get recipe ideas about the items you”;re buying from the growers who know their products best. Of course, the fresh-picked food from farms will be at its peak of flavor and nutrition. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a listing of farmer”;s markets you can search by zip code on their website.

Lose weight, reduce your waste and make the world a better place! Learn more about Nutrisystem programs >

*Foam breaks down up to 92% in four years.

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The post Eco-Friendly: Go Green With Our New Biodegradable Boxes appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

20 Zucchini Recipes to Celebrate Summer Squash Season

20 Zucchini Recipes to Celebrate Summer Squash Season

Summer is peak season for zucchini recipes. This tender green summer squash has a delicate, mild flavor that’s delicious in any form, both cooked and raw. It”;s the perfect veggie for a healthy diet because it blends so well with many other foods. Zucchini is loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, making it the perfect low-calorie ingredient for your weight loss plan. Plus, zucchini is considered a non-starchy vegetable on the Nutrisystem program, so you can eat as much of it as you’d like without worry.

These days, many people are trying zucchini noodles in their recipes, which you can easily make yourself with a handy spiralizer tool. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can also pick them up in the produce or frozen food sections of many grocery stores. “;Zoodles”; make an ideal substitute for standard pasta, which tends to be loaded with unwelcome carbs. This veggielicious alternative to pasta has the same texture and satisfying slurp-ability as other noodles.

To inspire you to take advantage of summer”;s bounty of green squash, we put together this list of our favorite recipes that feature zucchini. It includes whole meals, sides and snacks that are easy to make and just right for hot-weather eating.

Celebrate summer squash season with these 20 healthy zucchini recipes:
1. 3-Step Chicken Zucchini Nuggets >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 1 PowerFuel, ½ Vegetable and ½ Extra

These easy-to-prepare chicken bites are crispy on the outside yet tender and juicy on the inside. They come with a half-serving of vegetables that”;s good for everyone at the table. Don”;t be surprised if these nuggets become a new family favorite!

2. Vegetarian Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 1 PowerFuel, 1 SmartCarb, 2 Vegetables and 1 Extra

Whether you”;d rather not eat meat or just want a meal that”;s filling but won”;t weigh you down, vegetarian meatballs are easy to make and delicious. Pair them with quick-cooking zucchini noodles and you”;ve got a hearty meal that will satisfy the biggest appetite.

3. Zoodle Mac and Cheese with Roasted Veggies >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 1 PowerFuel, 1 Extra and 1 Vegetable

Mac and cheese can be a part of your healthy eating plan when you make it with zucchini noodles and low-fat cheese. We added some flavor and texture variety by tossing in roasted broccoli, onions and sweet potato cubes, but you can make it with any non-starchy veggies you like.

4. Carrot and Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 2 PowerFuels, 2 Vegetables and 2 Extras

Pad Thai may sound exotic, but it”;s a simple dish made with lots of veggies, juicy shrimp, crunchy peanuts and sauce that”;s sweet and as spicy as you like it. To cut down on the calories and excess carbs you get in the takeout variety, we used zoodles, which you can enjoy to your appetite”;s content.

5. Rainbow Vegetable Skewers >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 1 PowerFuel and 1 Extra

Fire up the grill and let the flames bring out the flavors of tender chicken breast and your choice of fresh summer vegetables, including zucchini, onions and potatoes. We gave this dish a tropical flair by including chunks of sweet and juicy pineapple.

6. Italian Lovers Zucchini Boats >

zucchini boats

Counts as: 1 PowerFuel, 1 Extra and 1 Vegetable

Zucchini boat recipes are another popular way to enjoy this non-starchy veggie. Sausage, marinara sauce and ricotta cheese are the makings of a classic Italian dish. Mix them up along with peppers, onions and fragrant seasonings, then load them into zucchini boats for a simple but filling meal.

7. Easy Zucchini Bread >

zucchini bread

Counts as: 1 SmartCarb and 1 Extra

Zucchini bread recipes are a popular way to sneak some veggies into your diet. So many people love this sweet summer classic, so we had to come up with a simpler and healthier way to make it. This version has all the tastes you love–;including honey, cinnamon and nutmeg–;plus applesauce and an egg to ensure it comes out of the oven moist and scrumptious every time.

8. Mega Marinated Roasted Veggies >

roasted veggies

Counts as: 1 Vegetable and 1 Extra

Load up a serving of summer veggies with flavor but not excess calories. Start with coins of zucchini, broccoli florets, chunks of peppers, onions and cherry tomatoes. Marinate them in a simple dressing, then grill or roast them until they begin to brown at the edges and become as sweet as can be.

9. Zucchini Fritters with Soy Dipping Sauce >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 1 Vegetable and 2 Extras

These fritters are like crispy and savory pancakes, only with a healthy serving of vegetables baked right in. Dip them in a quick-and-easy sauce that hits all the flavor buttons, from sweet to salty.

10. Mexican Zucchini Boats >

low carb

Counts as: 1 SmartCarb, 1 PowerFuel and 1 Vegetable

With this one-dish meal, you can enjoy the zesty flavors of Tex-Mex cuisine without all the fats and excess calories. We scooped out whole zucchini and refilled them with a spicy mixture made with beans, jalapenos, salsa and shredded cheese. Heat them to melt the cheese and tenderize the zucchini, then serve with all the extra salsa you want (it”;s a Free Food).

11. Zucchini Noodles with Roasted Vegetables and Pesto >


Counts as: 1 SmartCarb, 1 PowerFuel and 1 Vegetable

Pesto is easy to make but packs a powerful punch of flavor. We whip it up using farm-fresh basil, protein-rich pistachios and plenty of Parmesan cheese. Toss it with roasted veggies like sweet peppers, artichoke hearts and a hearty serving of zoodles.

12. Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Pasta >

shrimp scampi

Counts as: 1 SmartCarb, 2 PowerFuels and 1 Vegetable

Start with succulent shrimp seasoned with garlic and red pepper flakes to your taste. Add fresh veggies of your choice and serve atop of a steaming serving of tender zucchini noodles ready for twirling. Now you”;ve got a restaurant-worthy meal you can enjoy at home.

13. Air Fryer Sausage, Potatoes and Veggies >

air fryer

Counts as: 1 SmartCarb, 1 PowerFuel, 1 Extra and 1 Vegetable

The air fryer lets you turn raw ingredients into rich, flavorful meals in minutes. You can forget about piling on extra fats and cleaning up a messy kitchen. This one-dish recipe makes a satisfying breakfast or dinner any day of the week.

14. Zucchini Noodles and Meatballs >


Counts as: 1 Nutrisystem Dinner and 2 Vegetables

Are the Meatballs in Marina Sauce from Nutrisystem on your list of favorite meals? Take these protein-rich meatballs to the next level by serving them with a bowl of tender zoodles coated in our savory sauce. “;Spaghetti Night”; has never been so good and good for you.

15. Zucchini Noodles with Chicken and Cheese >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 1 PowerFuel and 3 Vegetables

If you like Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken, you”;re going to love this lighter version. You get plenty of cheese, a serving of protein-packed chicken breast and a pile of zucchini noodles for only 386 calories per serving.

16. Napa Mint Slaw >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: ½ SmartCarb, 1 Vegetable and 1 Extra

Instead of the usual fat-laden summer sides, try this crunchy slaw flavored with a sweet-and-tangy dressing and a spark of fresh mint. It”;s made with napa cabbage, often stocked with the Asian vegetables in supermarkets.

17. Simple Shrimp and Veggies Foil Packet >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 1 SmartCarb, 1 PowerFuel, 1 Vegetable and 2 Extras

Get a taste of a beach vacation in your own kitchen with this easy “;seafood bake.”; Just toss together fresh shrimp, potatoes, zucchini, onions and your favorite herbs. Heat and eat inside crimped and folded foil. Summer eating made easy!

18. Green Zucchini Muffins >

zucchini recipes

Counts as: 1 SmartCarb

Yes, you can enjoy homemade muffins and stay on track with your weight loss plan. These lean, green muffins are moist and lightly sweet but packed with nutrition, featuring applesauce, cinnamon and bananas.

19. 4-Ingredient Stuffed Zucchini Buffalo Boats >

zucchini boats

Counts as: 2 PowerFuels, 2 Vegetables and 1 Extra

Zesty buffalo sauce and the gooey goodness of melted cheese transform simple ground turkey and fresh zucchini into a flavorful meal. It”;s loaded with protein and fiber yet low in calories, so you stay full for hours after you finish.

20. Shrimp and Scallop Kebabs >

zucchini recipes

On Nutrisystem, Count As: 1 PowerFuel, ½ Extra and 1 Vegetable

Nothing says summer like summer squash! Throw that summer squash on a kebab and you’ve got the perfect seasonal dish for warm weather and sunshine. These Shrimp and Scallop kebabs pack in the lean protein and fiber-rich veggies for a nutritious dish that satisfies.

The post 20 Zucchini Recipes to Celebrate Summer Squash Season appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

11 Sneaky Sources of Added Sugar

11 Sneaky Sources of Added Sugar

We”;re sorry to say it but taste aside, there”;s nothing sweet about added sugar. In fact, sugars of this kind are something of a silent killer. There are many sneaky sources of added sugar in your average grocery store. Consider this: According to a 2014 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, consuming 17 to 21 percent of daily calories from added sugars increased heart disease-related death risk by 38 percent.

That doesn”;t mean you can”;t eat added sugars at all: The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 100 calories per day of added sugar for women–;roughly 24 grams, and 150 per day for men–;about 36 grams. Luckily, it”;s about to get easier to determine how many added sugars you”;re consuming. That”;s because the “;Nutrition Facts”; label on packaged foods will soon be updated to include the added sugar content.

Until those changes are made, it”;s important to be informed of food sources that contain added sugar. Since this sneaky ingredient finds its way into more than just desserts, we”;ve pulled together a list of 11 sneaky sources of added sugar you may want to avoid (or at least compare options).

7 “;Healthy” Foods with More Sugar Than a Snickers

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1. Barbecue Sauce

Until the Nutrition Facts label is updated, the back of the bottle will just list “;sugars,”; but even that will shock you when it comes to barbecue sauce: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture”;s nutrient database, just two tablespoons of one leading brand”;s sauce has nearly 12 grams of hidden sugar.

The key to finding sources of added sugar is to look at the ingredients list: Words like high fructose corn syrup, honey, cane sugar, brown sugar, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, syrup, molasses, evaporated cane juice, glucose, fruit juice concentrates, or agave nectar are code for added sugar. And on barbecue sauces, the first ingredient–;and thus, the ingredient with more weight in the product than any other–;is often high fructose corn syrup.

The latest nutrition label news

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2. Spaghetti Sauce

One half-cup of one of the leading jarred pasta sauces contains 10 grams of sugar, according to the USDA. And, in another popular brand, the fourth ingredient listed is simply “;sugar”;–;there”;s more of the sweet stuff than there is onions!

The biggest brands now offer a “;no sugar added”; variety–;grab a jar of that and add some flavor with extra black pepper, a sprinkle of dried oregano or some sliced basil leaves on top.

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3. Tonic Water

You may not notice because of the gin and the lime, but tonic water is more like tonic soda pop: One 11-ounce bottle can dish out nearly 30 grams of sugar, according to the USDA”;s nutrient database. Many popular brands list high fructose corn syrup early on in the Ingredients list, which explains the surge of sugar. Opt instead for plain water with a squeeze of lemon and lime or, if it”;s bubbles you”;re after, check out a sparkling or seltzer water.

It”;s Simple: Drink Water, Lose Weight

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4. Flavored Applesauce

It”;s fruit, right? Only kind of: Those blue- or orange-tinted cups of apple sauce that have magically been turned into blueberry- or mango-flavored treats aren”;t actually made by magic–;they”;re made by adding sugar. They want you to think it”;s a natural source of sugar. One popular brand does list mango and peach purees among the ingredients, but only after high fructose corn syrup and plain old sugar. No wonder a serving has 22 grams of sugars.

The “;natural”; healthy applesauce varieties get their 11 or so grams of sugar from apples–;grab a cup of that and stash some cinnamon in your desk drawer. Sprinkle it on top to give the cup of fruit some extra zing without the extra sugar.

5. Dried Fruit

Many dried fruits are covered in sugar or honey both as a preservative and to make them even sweeter–;so you keep grabbing them until the bag is gone. Banana chips are a great example: 225 grams of raw banana (equal to about 2 medium bananas) has 27.5 grams of natural sugar. But a 100-gram serving of banana chips has 35 grams of sugar …; and those extra grams came from somewhere besides a banana tree.

But the most egregious adding of sugar to fruit might be in dried cranberries. Cranberries are not sweet, but these bags of cran-raisins are sweet enough to pop as a snack–;probably because a quarter-cup serving has a whopping 29 grams of sugar. They”;re injected with sugar to make those tart berries turn sweet. Have regular–;unsweetened–;raisins instead.

How to Make Dried Fruit without a Dehydrator

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6. Almond, Cashew and Other Non-Dairy Milks

These milks seem healthy, and most do have fewer calories than traditional cow”;s milk. But they don”;t get so sweet and vanilla-flavored just from the almonds: According to the USDA, a one-cup serving of one of the leading brand”;s vanilla-flavored almond milk has 15 grams of sugar thanks to the second ingredient listed–;cane sugar.

The fix is easy: You can still have the vanilla flavor from the “;unsweetened vanilla”; varieties–;you”;ll save all 15 grams of sugar, plus enjoy the milk for nearly 60 fewer calories per cup.

How to Know Which Milk to Buy

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7. Flavored Yogurts

Many of the major yogurt brands are advertising that they now have less sugar–;but there”;s still plenty inside the sweet, candy colored fruit flavored varieties. One major brand”;s blueberry flavor has 18 grams in the tiny little cup, and lists “;sugar”; before “;blueberries”; on its ingredients list!

Mix in your own fruit: Bring a quarter-cup of blueberries and mix it in with nonfat, plain yogurt. A five-ounce serving of nonfat Greek yogurt has more protein than those sugary cups, and just four grams of natural sugar from the milk inside.

8. Granola

Granola might be the unhealthiest “;health food”; ever created. A holdover from the days of the Food Pyramid–;when the government recommended a whopping 12 servings of grains per day–;just a half-cup of even the “;low fat”; varieties can have 14 grams of sugar, according to the USDA. That”;s because to make all those clusters of rice, whole wheat and oats stick together, you need sticky stuff–;usually molasses, but also corn syrup, sugar and honey.

Do yourself a solid and skip the sugary stuff and opt for nuts and seeds instead.

9. Sports Drinks

The label of the leading sports drink reads like this: Water, sugar, dextrose. Since dextrose is a code word for added sugar–;it”;s a form of glucose–;the second and third ingredients on the list are plain old sugar. That”;s why if you drink the whole bottle, you”;ll down 30 grams of sugar, according to the USDA database.

Sure, you burn some calories when you exercise, but a 20-ounce bottle of sports drink has nearly 160 calories–;a little less than you burn on a two-mile run. Wouldn”;t you rather refuel later with actual food? Sip some water while you work, and save your calories–;and sugar–;for solid food later.

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10. Instant Oatmeal

If you”;ve ever tasted an instant oatmeal packet before adding water, you know it”;s more sugar than oatmeal. But the total amount may still shock you: The USDA database indicates that one leading brand”;s apple cinnamon flavor as contains 12 grams of sugar, and lists “;sugar”; before “;dehydrated apples”; on the label.

5 Boosts For a Better Bowl of Oatmeal

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11. Baked Beans

A half-cup serving of a leading baked beans brand”;s “;original”; flavor has more than 10 grams of sugar, says the USDA. And it”;s not likely that you”;re eating just half a cup! After beans and water, the label on one popular product lists brown sugar and sugar–;so the added sugar is hardly a secret.

Eliminate sneaky sources of added sugar from your diet! These seven simple tips can help. >

Ready to get started on the path to a healthier you? Check out our meal plans today! >

*Nutritional information taken from the USDA nutrient database and individual product sites as of 5/27/2016.

The post 11 Sneaky Sources of Added Sugar appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com