No Boring Salads Here & Kid’s Deconstructed Salad

You might think this is boring, but I love salads in the summer.  Sure I am a Health Coach, and you would assume that I love all things healthy.  However, my family would tell you I have a deep love for Cool Ranch Doritos and Crunchy Cheetos.  In fact, a few days ago, Mary and I took a date day and went out to the lake to enjoy these treats on the dock.  It was a special moment for this mom!

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Back to the salads.  As soon as the warm weather arrives, I crave a fresh pile of greens and toppings.  Over the years, I have learned there are so many ways to spice up a simple salad and save a ton of time in the kitchen, leaving you more time to play outside with your family.  Even better, most of the simple ingredients you use, can be plated for kids (or salad hating adults) to enjoy as their meal.

Grab a few ingredients, and you can easily switch things up throughout the week for a different dinner every night.  You can also throw leftovers together for lunch the next day.

It’s all about the base.  These days, there are so many types of pre-washed greens.  You can buy these by the bag or container.  You can also buy salad kits.  I discovered last year that my 2 year old loved Caesar Salad kits and now she loves the kale and Brussels sprout with poppyseed dressing.  The cool thing about kits is that you can use the fixings, or skip their dressing and add your own favorites.  I personally love the kale kit, but usually just use the greens and then make my own creation.

Veggies are great, but think beyond the produce section.  Sure, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and carrots are great.  But don’t forget about canned and frozen veggies.  Canned black beans, corn, and chickpeas can easily be rinsed and thrown into the mix.  They are also budget friendly!

Frozen veggies are picked at their ripest and flash frozen.  You can often find them in steam packets that go directly into the microwave.  Warm them up and then pop some onto your plate.

It’s okay to add a touch of carbs to the mix.  One of my favorite meals is the Caesar salad from a place called The Noodle.  As you might guess, they are known for their homemade fresh pasta and even the salad comes topped with noodles.  It is a delicious addition.

Orzo is easy to make and let cool off in a colander.  Rice packets are another great addition.  Toast some day old bread and break into croutons.  

You can always add dairy.  Add this for some extra flavor and protein.  There are so many delicious options from shredded cheddar and parmesan, to bleu cheese, feta, and crumbled goat cheese.

Maybe you protein.  Maybe you don’t.  I do love meat, but I have been making a conscious effort to eat more plant based meals.  By adding a bunch of other flavors and textures to my plate, I don’t always need meat.  But when I do, I sometimes think beyond the traditional chicken, steak, or salmon.  You can find tuna packets, which are a lower calorie protein with high Omega 3 healthy fats.

Morning Star farms offers traditional black bean and Mediterranean chickpea burgers.  I also really like their veggie “chicken” patties.  Boca Burgers have a surprisingly great texture and taste pretty darn similar to a regular burger.

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Meat free “chicken” patties with BBQ and ranch.  So good!

 

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The girls had a taco.

Deconstruct your salad and please even the pickiest eaters.  Before I go further, I urge you not to underestimate your kids.  I never thought my oldest would love Caesar salads at 2 years old.  I didn’t know my one year old would beg for bites of cabbage.  Try adding a small salad to a plate.  Don’t make a big deal about it.  Don’t refer to it as “healthy.”  Just make it part of the meal.  If they decide they don’t like it, no big deal.

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Whatever “tools” you use to build your salad, plate them out on your kids’ dishes.  For example, if you decide to make a Mexican salad, add cheese, beans, meat, and peppers to your little ones’ plates.  Add some dip or salsa and a tortilla.  Let them roll theirs into a taco or burrito.

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I can’t pass on some Annie’s mac and cheese shells!

What I love about this approach is that you are never eating a salad while the rest of your family eats something different.  This isn’t about healthy vs. unhealthy or one person eating healthy while others are eating a different dinner.  You are eating together as a family.  When you put together ingredients for the week, you can easily whip up a meal in minutes for everyone.

What is your favorite way to eat a salad?

It’s Not Very Chilly-5 Minute Slow Cooker Chili

Apparently long weekends leave me a few days behind on catching up!  We had an awesome long weekend playing with family at Shanty Creek Resorts.  If you recall, we were there a few years ago when Mary just started crawling and we basically had the place to ourselves.  A year before that, we got married there in the summer.

Things have changed just a little bit!

This time, these non-skiers enjoyed a winter weekend playing in the snow.  Well Mary and Rock played in the snow and I sat at the Lakeview Restaurant and watched them tube down the runs.  They had a blast.  Lucy and I chowed down and had fun too.

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Just watching some Olympics.

We finished the weekend off by enjoying a delicious meal and flight of beers at Short’s Brewing Company.  I didn’t get any pics because I was fresh off of an 8 mile run and was both ravenous and seriously into my tasting of five delicious IPA’s.

Between our trip to humid Mexico, some dry and stuffy aired flights, and a chilly return to reality, my throat has been soar for a few days.  My tonsils are swollen and I am trying to remedy things with sweaty workouts, lots of hot and cold hydration, and some warm soothing meals.  While I have enjoyed a few meals that involved meat, I’ve stuck to my plant based eating most of the time.  It has been surprisingly easy.

I scoured a few websites to look at various planted based recipes and then decided to try my hand at making my own slow cooker meals.  Last night I made this Slow Cooker Lentil and Quinoa Chili.  I wasn’t certain how this would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised.  This meal cost around $10 to make and as the lentils and quinoa cooked up, the slow cooker was filled to the brim.  This will last us for several meals.  There’s no browning of meat or veggies.  Just dump the ingredients in and turn your crockpot on.

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Enjoying some chili with her post ballet Happy Meal

I missed the last episode of “This Is Us” when it aired after the Super Bowl.  So I don’t know how things ended up, but I did see the episode when the fire started and I do cringe a bit each time I turn my slow cooker on.  But give this one a try.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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Slow Cooker Lentil and Quinoa Chili:

Ingredients:

1 onion (chopped)

1 green bell pepper (chopped)

1 red bell pepper (chopped)

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can pinto beans (drained)

1 can black beans (drained)

1 can chili beans (drained)

1 can tomato sauce

4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups lentils

1/2 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

3 cloves minced garlic

Salt to taste

Directions:

Pour all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Top with your favorite fixings.  Enjoy!

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Check out my other chili recipes!

3 Cans And 6 Veggies Chili

Super Easy Turkey Chili

 

Which One? Healthy Eating Or Exercise?

The other day I was watching “The Doctors” and someone asked which was better: exercising or eating well?  Despite being an avid exerciser, I immediately shouted, “Eating well!”  As a certified health coach, personal trainer, and running coach, it has become increasingly clear over the years that what we put into our bodies is far more important than exercise.  Don’t get me wrong, exercise is essential to a healthy life.  But you can’t out exercise a poor diet, and you can’t outrun unhealthy eating.

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Sure, we have all put in an extra hour at the gym before, or run a few extra miles after a less than stellar day of eating.  And while that is a great way to bump things up when we fall behind, you certainly can’t rely on doing that every day.

Truth is, we need to eat well most of the time and exercise too.  There should also be some time for rest and relaxation, along with enjoying some indulgence as well.  I prefer the 80%/20% rule with this.  Keep it healthy 80% of the time and enjoy and indulge the other 20%.

When it comes to diet and exercise, what you put in is what you will get out.  If you eat poorly, you will get poor miles or poor results.  You can’t outrun a bad diet.

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This has been weighing on my mind a lot lately.  While I have been busy Netflixing, I spent a few hours watching documentaries.  Last year I had a client who told me she watched “Food Choices” and it changed her life.  She was focused on a plant based diet.  I watched the documentary and it hit me hard.  But it didn’t completely change my mind.

Earlier this fall I caught a bit of a segment on NPR where a doctor was discussing how Americans eat far too much meat.  He said that if you eat meat every day, you should work to go one day without meat each week.  If you eat meat once a week, you should aim for once a month….and so on.  Basically, he discussed how it causes inflammation in our bodies and Americans consume much more meat than most other countries.  I was intrigued, but still didn’t do much about this.

I don’t recall why, but I ended up watching “Forks Over Knives” on Netflix a few weeks ago.  This documentary emphasized again how we eat too much meat and showed a correlation between weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other issues.  As a health coach, I also know that if any diet can be recommended to clients, the Mediterranean Diet is the heart healthiest.

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DoctorOz.com

This information continues to show up and it was starting to make me consider what might happen if I adopted not a vegetarian lifestyle, but more of a plant based emphasis each day.  So while Rock was out of town for work last week, I set about finding recipes.

Here is what I found:  My grocery bill was so cheap!  I thought it would be much more expensive to just buy fresh fruits and veggies.  But the reality was, between produce and some canned and dried options, I was leaving the grocery store with a lot more money in my pockets.

While this wasn’t my main goal, I ended up dropping a few pounds almost immediately.  It was  a pleasant surprise.  One day I was walking by a mirror and noticed that my face looked a bit more thinned out and my muscles looked more noticeable.

A few days in, I was cruising along on the treadmill and found myself bumping the pace up because it felt good!  I was hesitant to run at this pace because I figured I would hit a wall.  However, I suddenly noticed that I was maintaining this pace and I wasn’t tired.  I really did just feel good.

It didn’t end there either.  I was watching the new season of “Grace and Frankie” and I was having such a fun time that I didn’t want to stop running.  My mileage soared and I felt so good, I didn’t even realize that I forgot to take a day off.  I ran eight days in a row and averaged 8-10 miles each day.  I didn’t have a super long run in there, but there was some really great mileage and my muscles weren’t complaining.  In fact, I made a mistake in an earlier post this week.  I actually ran 58 miles last week!

The Verdict:  I still love meat.  I’m still going to eat meat.  But we as a family have agreed that we are going to focus more on plant based meals.  My body felt good and I enjoyed what I was eating.  I made a delicious Indian curry that warmed my body and had some awesome anti-inflammatory spices added in.  The whole house smelled amazing!

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Chickpeas, Onions, Tomatoes, Spinach, and spices over rice.  So fast and so good!

Everyone needs to do what is best for their own lifestyles.  But there is a lot of evidence that adding more fruits and veggies and enjoying even a little bit less meat can make a big difference in your health.  I highly recommend checking out “Forks Over Knives” and “Food Choices” if you are curious about this.

Do you love a good burger like me?  Any thoughts on eating a little bit less meat?

Food Is Food, Sweat Is Sweat-Enough With The Guilt

I’ve noticed a lot of posts on social media lately encouraging people to work out so they don’t feel guilty about eating meals during the holidays.  I certainly admit that I ran a Turkey Trot last week, knowing that I was going to enjoy a big feast later in the day.  But I also told my husband that we don’t use exercise as a replacement for overeating.  The two shouldn’t be a means to balance each other out.  Sometimes it may seem that way, but it shouldn’t really be the case.

Of course, many of us exercise to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight, or even to lose weight at times.  But exercise isn’t just a form of diet.  It is a healthy activity that also releases endorphins and makes us feel good about life and ourselves.
On Thanksgiving there were a lot of #burntheturkey #earntheturkey and it was driving me crazy.  You don’t have to earn your turkey.  Thanksgiving is a holiday meant to be spent with friends and family.  The same goes for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years and other holidays.  Exercise isn’t the ticket that allows you to enjoy turkey or any other meal.  You don’t have to earn that food through exercise, at any time.
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When we say that we earned a meal, it makes it seem like under other circumstances, we shouldn’t eat or enjoy such foods.  That is totally unfair!  Food is not only an essential part of life, but also a very important part of socializing and our cultures.
We should of course aim for a balance in our lives and strive to eat healthy most of the time.  We should also have times where we enjoy a little indulgence.  Dessert is delicious and so are hamburgers, french fries, or whatever your pleasure might be.  When we don’t allow ourselves to eat these things, we deprive our wants, and often go overboard when we have the opportunity.
Exercise on the other hand, shouldn’t be a punishment.  Sweat is not your fat crying.  That statement drives me nuts.  Enough with the fat nonsense!  Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle and sweat is the output from your effort.  Nothing is crying.  Your body, in fact, is likely rejoicing.
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Aim for balance this holiday season.  Eat mostly healthy.  Watch your portions.  And exercise when you can because it is good for you.  But please don’t punish yourself because you overdo it at a meal.  Go ahead and enjoy some holiday appetizers, desserts, or drinks.
Pick an exercise that you enjoy.  Carve out time most days to get a workout in and enjoy that sweat.  Then take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and smile!

What I Am Loving Right Now

Happy Friday!  For some reason, this week flew by.  We started with fabulous weather, got really chilly in the middle, and are just hanging on for the weekend now.

Today I thought it would be fun to share some of my recent favorites.  Spring is in the air and it has me feeling all sorts of fabulous.

Pinkberry Meyer Lemon

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If you live anywhere near a Pinkberry, run there now and try the new lemon flavor.  I know the frozen yogurt craze has been done and most of it is just okay.  But Pinkberry is the real deal.  They only have a few flavors at a time, with their original tart being the standout, in my opinion.  Real, fresh, tart yogurt without all of the sugary extras, it leaves you feeling far less guilty about this delicious splurge.

Lemon is the perfect spring-like flavor.  I tried it once with fruit on top and fell in love.  In fact, I skipped dinner the next night, ran six miles instead, and ended up at Pinkberry for a delicious serving of……well calcium. Right?!

Knockaround Sunglasses

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I lost my Oakley running sunglasses during our move.  Major bummer.  I know they are around, but I couldn’t find them in time for our trip to Florida.  I figured I would be fine without them, but the first time I tried running on the beach, I knew I had made a big mistake.  The glare off of the sun and sand was not a good combo on my eyes.  All of us runners should practice proper sun care and that includes wearing shades.

Rock loaned me his Knockaround’s and it was love at first run.  Most of these glasses will cost you about $20 and are polarized.  They are light, fit comfortably, and don’t bounce around when you run.  One of my biggest pet peeves with shades is if they fall off when you lean over or place them on top of your head.  These stay put but are light enough that you won’t even notice they are there.  At $20 a pair, you can afford a pair, or maybe even two!

Just Salad

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When the weather gets warm, I crave salad. During pregnancy I try to make sure that I eat a big bowl of veggies at least once each day.  Just Salad is my daily go-to place in NYC.  I love going down the line and picking different combos.  I also really like that they use as many local ingredients as possible from organic kale to fresh made bread, and cheeses.

Decent Fitting (Non-Mom) Maternity Jeans

H&MWhat is it with ugly maternity clothes?  Just because we are pregnant doesn’t mean we need to wear a box or a bag over our growing bellies.  I have been having serious jeans envy as I wander NYC.  Can’t an expecting mom get a decent pair of denim without breaking the bank?

I happened to check out H&M’s maternity section and snagged a great pair of boyfriend jeans for under $40.  And can we talk about how awesome the elastic panels are on maternity jeans?!  I seriously think everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of a little elastic to hold them in!

Nice People

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It seems these days that everyone is in a rush and looking at their phones or worried about something else.  It can really start to get you down!

The other day I was running a loop of Central Park when a cyclist cut me off, and without looking crossed over into the pedestrian/running lane to stop.  I had to jump over their bike and just barely escaped an accident.  I was really annoyed and almost shouted at the person.  Instead, I hopped over the bike and tried to keep running.

A gentleman run up alongside me to check on me and we ended up having a really great conversation.  I had been struggling the last mile or so and was dreading a big hill that was coming up.  Instead, we chatted all the way up and I almost kept going with him.  To the minimalist runner from San Diego who was in town on business, thanks for reminding me that runners are a really great bunch!

What are your recent favorite things?  Does spring have you craving all sorts of new goodies?

Make Yourself An Informed Consumer

Over the past few months I have worked with many clients who are trying to live a healthier life.  One thing that has become increasingly common with food logs is the general misunderstand about what is “healthy” and “unhealthy.”   There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding diets and well being.

One of the best ways to ensure that you are an informed consumer and healthier eater is by looking at food labels.  These is a standard format for all of the foods we purchase and consume.  All food labels look alike and show you the same information.

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The first thing you will notice at the top of a food label is a description of what the serving size is and how many servings are in each package.  This information is extremely important.  Serving sizes are not determined by anyone other than the company who produces the food, meaning that each company can determine how large a serving size is.  Next you will want to know how many servings are in a package.  It is not uncommon for a small package to have multiple servings.  If you did not realize this you might think you are consuming far fewer calories than you actually are.

Next on a food label, you will see calorie and fat content, followed by the percentage of calories that come from fat.  This information is also very valuable.  A snack with less than 100 calories per serving is considered a low calorie food.  Any snack with 100-400 calories per serving is considered a moderate calorie food.  And a snack with over 400 calories per serving would be considered a high calorie food.

Below the breakdown of nutrients on each label, you will also find a full list of the ingredients.  These are listed in order of largest amount to smallest.  It is always recommended to look for ingredients at the top that you recognize.  If you find words that you cannot decipher or do not recognize, they are most likely preservatives.  Aim for eating more whole or recognizable foods in your diet.

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Do you recognize most of these ingredients from your pantry?

You will also see a list of potential allergens.  All allergens must be listed.  The most common that you will find are peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, and gluten.

Buyer Beware!

Please note that while the government does regulate food labels and most food claims, it does not regulate everything.  Just because you find “whole grains,” “organic,” or “healthy,” or “natural,” does not necessarily make them great choices.  Sugar laden cereals can also contain whole grains.  Organic food can also be full of added preservatives or sugars.

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All of these claims are legal to place on the cover of packaged food.

While a food label may make certain health claims, it doesn’t mean that it is completely healthy.  Before you assume that a food is good for you, read the label and check it’s serving size, calorie and fat content, amount of sugar, and ingredient list.  Compare food labels and always opt for the lowest sodium option between foods.

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I may have tried to convince my husband that these are “natural” but we both know it’s not completely true.

Serving sizes can be very misleading.  Some small bags that appear to be a single serving can actually hold two or three servings.  If you did not realize this you might think you are making a wise choice.  However, knowing just how much you are consuming might change your decision.  I recently came across a granola that was listed by the ounce.  Do you know how small an ounce is?  The granola had 40+ servings in a small bag.  That to me, is almost scandalous!

Be aware of certain foods that can appear to be healthy but labels might show otherwise:  Some of the leading culprits (but not all) are cereals, granolas, fat free candies/chips/crackers, energy bars, energy drinks, smoothies, juices, and trail mixes.

While reading food labels might seem tedious now, you will likely find it eye opening.  Once you get used to reading labels, you will soon find that you will naturally give it a quick scan and gravitate towards healthier choices.

What is your best recommendation for being an informed consumer?

Gingerbread Granola

I’m not walking away from the holidays without a fight.  We finally took our tree and decorations down last weekend.  I always love decorating for the holidays but it flies by and then its a little disappointing once it is over.

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is gingerbread.  I love gingerbread cookies.  I love the spicy flavor.  It evokes all of the aromas of the season for me.

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I could seriously eat this guy up!

I also love granola, but if you have ever looked at a nutrition label for most granolas you will find that they are loaded with fat and sugar.  Don’t get me wrong, fat isn’t the culprit we once accused it of being.  However, I don’t like starting the morning off with a cereal that is full of unnecessary fat and calories.  I like to eat mindfully.

So I set about to make a granola that tastes like gingerbread but is also full of healthy fats and far less sugar.  This recipe is full of fiber and antioxidant rich dried fruits.

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Ingredients:

3 cups oatmeal

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped)

1/2 cup dried cherries (chopped)

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon dark molasses

I tablespoon ginger

1 teaspoon clove

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250ºF.  Combine butter, syrup, and molasses in a small bowl.  Add oats to a large bowl and stir in the butter and syrup mixture.  Add in fruit and nuts.  Thoroughly stir in spices until well covered.

Place granola mix on a large baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to dry for at least one hour.

What is your favorite holiday flavor?  Do you like granola?

Body Reboost Salad

I don’t know about you but I had a wonderful holiday week.  Actually, it is going to continue a bit this weekend with a little New Year’s celebration.

Admittedly, I overindulged.  I knew what I was doing and I was okay with it at the time.  Generally speaking, I eat very well.  I enjoy eating healthy but also enjoy a little sweetness in my daily routine.  However, I ate a lot and I ate a lot of some not so healthy foods last week.  It was fun.  But now I feel a bit puffy and sluggish.

Nothing feels better after a little overindulging, than to get back on the healthy bandwagon.  One thing that is great for your body and belly is beans.  Beans are a powerhouse of nutritional goodness.

When we walked in the door from a week away, we had very few things in the refrigerator or cupboard.  However, anytime I got to the grocery store and they have a sale on canned goods, I stock up.  Mary loves chili and I love that she is a fan of beans.

I quickly went to town making this “salad.”  I knew she would gobble it up. I also knew that it would fill the rest of us up and leave our bellies feeling a little better.  One thing that happens when I eat a bit differently than normal is that I get horrible heart burn.  Giving your belly a little “reboost” can help to reset your body.

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This recipe is super simple and likely already in your kitchen.  Here are a few benefits of this fun “salad.”

Black beans: are packed full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6 and folate.  They are low in cholesterol and heart healthy.

Garbanzo beans:  are high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and iron.  They are low in fat and calories and again are really great for your heart healthy lifestyle.

Kidney beans: are high in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, maganese, Vitamin B1, and folate.

Corn: is also high in fiber, and a wonderful antioxidant.  Antioxidants help repair damage from cancer causing agents in our bodies.  Chemicals in this vegetable also help improve vision.

Red onions: continue on our healthy eating plan by packing in calcium, folate, thiamine, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamins C, K  and B6.

Our bodies rely on a variety of these minerals and vitamins.  Getting an abundance helps to ensure that we keep our bodies functioning and healthy.

So how do we make this super simple salad?  

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, drained

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1 can red kidney beans, drained

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions:

Drain all of the canned vegetables and rinse in a colander.  Chop the red onion and add all ingredients to a bowl.  Toss with EVOO.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add a little balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar to give a little kick.

I love adding this on top of my green salads.  It also tastes delicious with a little salsa and a dash of cheese.  This is a great one to make a big batch and add to other dishes throughout the week.

Holiday Party Survival

Tomorrow is a big day in the United States.  Whether you are from the U.S. or elsewhere, there are likely to be a lot of holiday events for you over the next few weeks.  From family dinners to office parties, there is really no way to escape it.

Holidays and parties are some of the biggest causes of stress and weight gain concern.  They can certainly pull us off of our plans.  But if you have a strategy going in, you can still enjoy some indulgence and fun.

  • Have a game plan:  Are you going to a cocktail party?  Is this an appetizer party?  Know what is going on before you walk in the door.  Map it out in your head.  “I will have one cocktail and one small plate.”  By deciding before you go in, you are much more likely to stick to your wellness plan.holidays1
  • Call ahead:  Are you going out to dinner?  Look up where you are going.  Call and ask about specials.  Look at the menu ahead of time.   Go in knowing what would work with your plan and already set to choose your meal.  If you go in with an idea, it is much easier to avoid wavering on decisions.  This can be especially difficult when you hear other people’s orders and start to think that if they can do it, you should too.  While you might feel like you are short changing yourself at the time, once you have eaten, you will feel satisfied and not leave feeling guilty about your decisions.
  • Don’t Assume.  Bring Something.  This is a great plan for Thanksgiving and other get togethers.  Don’t assume that you will get there and see things that work with your healthy living.  Consider making a veggie platter and a large salad for the dinner portion.  Fill your appetizer platter with veggies and load your dinner plate with salad and  you will fill your belly without the guilt.ThanksgivingSurvival3
  • You can have a little bit of everything but not all of everything.  Sometimes when we look at a buffet and consider all of the things we can’t have, we get overwhelmed and then eat everything in epic proportions.  Instead, take one dinner plate and fill it with small helpings off each side and entree that you like.  Don’t go overboard.  Several bites of each delicious treat will leave you satisfied more than you realize.
  • Stick to a one plate rule:  During holiday dinners and meals plan on sticking to one plate.  Pick what you would like but leave the buffet knowing that this is your meal.  Don’t go back for seconds.

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    Sometimes this is how I want to approach the holiday buffet!

  • Avoid loading up on bread:  Bread always looks so tasty.  Restaurants often offer bread in “all you can eat” occasions because they know it will fill you up.  If you can skip the additional carbs, you can allow yourself to enjoy the other options.  If you do decide to opt for bread, take a bite and savor it. 
  • Take a moment to consider how it tastes.  Is it an incredibly delicious dinner roll that you get to enjoy on a rare occasion?  Then go for it. Is it similar to bread that you eat for lunch?  Toss it to the side and opt for something you don’t get to eat very often.holidays4
  • Load up on veggies:  You would be surprised to see that there are really so many healthy options on holiday menus.  Sweat potatoes, corn, and beans are all loaded with vitamins and fiber.  Skip the gravies and extra sauces.  Avoid veggies that are laden with fat like green bean casseroles.  Load your plate with veggies and then add in the extras.
  • Before you get too excited decide if it is a rare treat.:  Sometimes we go to a party and see pizza and feel like we “have to have it.”  But the reality is, you can order pizza anytime you want.  If you see a special item on the menu that someone made just for the occasion, that is a much better option.  Analyze your options, decide what is truly special and worth it and then determine a healthy portion.  Once you do, don’t go back.
  • Do dessert but pick one and don’t go crazy.:  Odds are that if you just ate at a holiday party, you had a nice filling meal.  It’s still okay to have dessert.  But scour the dessert options.  Pick the one that is speaking to you the most and then try a half slice or portion.  Take your time, savor the flavors, and then walk away satisfied with your full meal.

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    My goal this year is to avoid this feeling.

  • Plan your day out:  If you know that you are going to a holiday party later in the night, plan out how you will approach it.  This could start with a light breakfast and then a walk to work.  If you see donuts in the conference room, remind yourself that they are there all the time, but holiday parties come once a year.  Skip the afternoon treats and enjoy the party later.  Don’t forget to load up on plenty of water during the day.
  • Make time for activities:  Do a turkey trot, go for a family walk, play catch in the back yard.  Remember that any activity is better than none.  Exercise doesn’t need to be intentional.  Move throughout the day. Organize a quick walk after your meal.  The more you move, the better!

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    Not going to lie.  I have used this mindset before!

  • Always remember that a lapse is not a relapse:  Messing up once doesn’t mean your whole day, week, or month is over.  No one eats perfectly and there is no perfect way to eat.  Food is a very important part of our lives.  It is a social, cultural, and wonderful thing.  Have fun and enjoy yourself.  If you overindulge, it does not mean you are a failure.  You are human and tomorrow is another day!

How do you best prepare for holiday parties and get togethers?  Do you have one thing that really messes up your healthy plan?

Cooking Inspiration and Recipe Revamp

Happy Friday!  The weekend is almost upon us and it might just snow here tomorrow.   While I am not ready for that, I do love cooking and baking when the cold weather rolls around.

Fall and winter inspire me to turn on the oven and start trying out new recipes.  Today I want to share a few of my favorite websites to visit for recipe inspirations:

Cooking Light:  I have been a subscriber of Cooking Light since I was in high school.  I even recall having all of my friends come over for lunch one day and try out a loaded potato soup that I made.  Even back then, I loved finding healthier versions of my favorite foods.  This site is easy to search.

This Brownie Cheesecake Torte from a 1997 issue is still one of my favorite treats to make!

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Six Sisters Stuff:  This is my absolute favorite website for searching recipes.  I honestly have never had a failed recipe from these ladies.  I love their slow cooker options and this is the first place I go to when I want to try a new soup.  Perfect place to visit for winter weather!

Their Nacho Grande Soup is a huge hit with our family and friends.  You can make it in the slow cooker or on the stove.  I make it with either beef or turkey and it always comes out just right.  I like to add a can of kidney beans and black beans to give it a bit more substance.

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Skinny Taste:  This is a great resource for healthy eating.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert ideas can all be found here.  I love being able to search the under 30 minute meals.  Having access to quick dinners keeps the excuses for takeout away.

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Foot Network:  Another magazine that I love to subscribe to is Food Network.  I love the variety of chefs and great ideas that come out of this magazine.  When I am not sure what to make for a party or special dinner, I turn to this site.  There are so many different types of recipes, you are bound to find something you like.

For the holidays, I love making these Peppermint Cream’s.  They are so simple and delicious.  These are the perfect gifts to share with family and friends.

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Finally, I love searching my favorite blogger’s sites for their shared inspiration.  I follow such an awesome variety of people, that my blogroll is full of great ideas.

I wanted to share my newish concoction with you.  These may not qualify as healthy, but they are the perfect occasional splurge.  These Pudgies showed up on my site several years ago.  I have since found a wonderful new twist for this fall season.  Jello-O makes Pumpkin Spice pudding mixes.  Swap the Banana Cream out for Pumpkin Spice and add a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to your dry ingredients and you will have an incredibly delicious treat on your hands!  The flavor and consistency of this treat is a favorite around here.

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What is your go-to site for finding delicious recipes?  Do you have a favorite recipe that can’t be missed?