Country superstar Carrie Underwood, who released a new album in May, has been a vegetarian for seven years and recently told Self magazine, "I'll never eat meat again, because I look and feel better without it."
The slim singer recently graced the cover of Self, where she discussed diet, exercise and her marriage to professional hockey player Mike Fisher. She also gave readers the inside scoop on some of her favorite meals.
We asked registered dietitian Vandana Sheth, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to comment on the star's food choices. And as a bonus, we'll include the creative workout routine that she shared with "Self". (Warning: It's not for wimps.)
Underwood: "A vanilla smoothie with pea protein powder, half a banana, a cup of berries, almond milk and ice. Or I'll make a tofu scramble with whatever I've got in the fridge, like spinach, onions and peppers, with salsa on top. If I'm working out in the morning, I'll also have an orange or a grapefruit. And black coffee. I like a little caffeine boost!"
What Sheth says: "A good breakfast meal is one which includes whole grains, lean protein and fruits/vegetables. Both of Carrie's breakfast options sound healthy, nutritious and delicious. I would, however, suggest adding a whole grain tortilla/pita bread or toast to the tofu scramble option to provide adequate carbs."
Underwood: "I do a stir-fry with precut veggies. I like broccoli, carrots, broccoli slaw, fake chicken (such as Quorn or Gardein chick'n) and onions. I eat it with brown rice and season it with Bragg Liquid Aminos. Then I'm good to go. It's a lot of food but not a lot of fat or calories."
What Sheth says: "Carrie's lunch is perfectly balanced, colorful and nutrient-rich. It provides whole grains (brown rice), lots of veggies (broccoli, carrots, broccoli slaw, onions), lean protein (Quorn/Gardein chick'n) and is low sodium (Bragg Liquid Aminos). I would, however, suggest substituting the lean protein (Quorn/Gardein chick'n) with one that is not processed such as beans, lentils, tofu, edamame. Another option is to substitute quinoa for brown rice and enhance the nutritional quality of the meal."
Underwood: "I'll always be a fan of veggie burgers!"
What Sheth says: "When it comes to veggie burgers currently available in the market, they vary a lot in terms of nutritional quality. Overall, veggie burgers can be a healthy option for dinner along with a whole grain bun or wrapped in a whole-grain tortilla/flat bread, accompanied by a salad and fruit. However, if you have the time, there is nothing like making your own veggie burger with beans, herbs and spices."
Underwood's secret workout, as told to Self
"I have a game I love for when I'm working out on my own, without a trainer. I take a deck of cards and assign each suit a body area -- say, diamonds for arms, hearts for legs, spades for core and clubs for cardio. I split the deck in half and write down exercises for each suit, a different one for each half."
"So, if I flip over the six of hearts, I'll do six squats. If the next card is ace of diamonds, that's 14 push-ups. Sometimes I'll make spades boxing and beat the crap out of the bag for however many punches the number on the card says."
"Having different exercises for each half of the deck keeps me from getting bored. I make sure there's a joker in each half -- that's a mile run on the treadmill. Then I go through the whole deck. With a 15-minute warm-up on the elliptical, it takes about an hour and a half total, but it's fun because you've designed the workout yourself."
What we say: Beats the heck out of the "crunch on potato chips and swig a beer" workout that usually accompanies a deck of cards. You go, girl.