Healthy Holiday Food Hacks and Facts

As I stated in my last post, the average Thanksgiving Day dinner intake, according to The Calorie Control Council, is around 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat. And that doesn’t include our drinks, appetizers or leftovers, or our sampling of food. That’s SO much food! (If you missed my crazy Thanksgiving food video, watch it HERE) While Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and I believe whole heartedly in enjoying everything in moderation, I thought I’d use this week’s post to provide some healthier alternatives to the typical fare served at this American feast. Whether you pick just a few to give your holiday meal a healthier and lighter edge or use these to give your everyday meals a healthier kick is completely up to you. It’s always nice to know some simple tricks to change up your meals to get less fat and more nutrition.

Turkey is a staple of many Thanksgiving dinners, and it’s a healthy choice! 4 oz of turkey has 120 calories, a whooping 24 grams of protein and is very low in fat. It’s high in vitamins B3, B6, B12, magnesium and potassium. If you are a fan of dark cuts of turkey, or the skin of the turkey you will eating a bit more fat.

Use turkey leftovers in salads, soups, curries, and sandwiches for healthy meals in the days following the holiday for extra protein packed meals.

Potatoes are my absolute favorite holiday food, and I’m pretty famous for mine! Potatoes are loaded with nutrients like fiber, vitamins C and B, potassium, magnesium, niacin, and folate when eaten with the skin. Peeling potatoes reduces the nutritional value. Potatoes are also rich in antioxidants, and colored potatoes (red or purple) offer even more nutritional value.

I don’t cut any corners with my mashed potatoes on holidays because we eat them so rarely. If you’d like to cut down on the amount of fat in your mashed potatoes, try using less butter, and either skim milk or chicken broth instead of full fat milk or cream. If you’d like to get that extra punch of nutrition, consider mashing your potatoes with the skins still on them. And be sure to go easy on adding gravy!

Sweet potatoes Are known to be superfoods! However, adding all the sugar, butter, and marshmallows can turn this holiday dish into a dessert food rather quickly.  Sweet potatoes provide 400% of daily vitamin A, and provide high amounts of B, C and D.  This antioxidant food boosts brain, heart, and even reproductive health, and can help control blood sugar levels. If you want to make delicious sweet potatoes without all the sugar and unhealthy fats, consider replacing the butter with coconut oil, and using unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar. Walnuts or almonds can be used in place of pecans for a healthier nut choice.

Squash is super healthy, with butternut being the best. This low-calorie superfood is packed with vitamins A, C, E, B1, B3, B6, and tons of minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and folate. Great for bone health, eye health, immune function, and tissue repair. Try adding some squash to your plate this holiday season for a colorful and healthy change.

Greens make a super healthy addition to any meal. Kale, collards, spinach, cabbage, beet greens, watercress, turnip greens are all fantastic choices. Greens are super super low in calories, high in vitamin A, C, K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

Cranberries are low in calories, and a superfood with vitamin C, E, K1, and many minerals. They are 90% water when served fresh, but when canned add another 24 grams of sugar to your meal. To make cranberry sauce without the added sugar, try using stevia and orange juice to sweeten your berries.

Grain bread with olive oil dip and seasonings I love bread and staying away from the rolls is a huge feat for me at most holiday meals. To add a little health to your holiday breadbasket, consider using a chewy whole grain bread with a side of olive oil for dipping. Add seasonings to your oil and heat briefly to get the infused flavors in each bite. The whole grains will up your vitamin B, and olive oil is one of the most nutritious fats, as well as having anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Brussel sprouts are low in calories and high in anti-inflammatory properties. They also offer vitamin k for bone and blood health and contain healthy fatty acids which boost brain health.

Green peas contain almost every vitamin and mineral! They are high in fiber and antioxidants and help regulate blood sugar as well as aid in digestive health and immune function. Be sure to get these green jewels on your plate this holiday!

Sauerkraut  was a huge family favorite when I was growing up in Maryland. This food made from fermented cabbage is a probiotic that aids in digestion and improves gut health. For the healthiest version of this tangy dish, avoid canned versions as they are super high in sodium. 

Pomegranates are considered one of the most nutritious fruits on earth – and they are sweet and delicious. Pomegranates are high in fiber, offer protein, and are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium. They have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. The juice may cut your risk of heart disease.

Pomegranates also help lower blood pressure, can ease arthritis pain, and are great for brain function. They can also help with workout/athletic performance and fatigue.

Nuts although high in fat, 1oz of most nuts contains 170 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams of fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse can reduce free radicals that cause cell damage and can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce inflammation. When choosing nuts, keep in mind that a serving is only 1 ounce, and for most nuts that is less than a palmful.

Cocoa for a hot holiday drink consider a cup of real cocoa! The properties in cocoa aid in maintaining blood sugar, can reduce bad cholesterol, support brain and heart health, and   can even aid with depression. Look for cocoa made with dark chocolate with 70%cocoa solids and little added sugars. To give your cocoa a holiday flair, consider adding some peppermint.

Peppermint Mint adds holiday flavor to many of our treats, and it’s super soothing to our stomachs! Mints, like peppermint, can help relive headaches, can boost energy and concentration, and have even been known to relieve symptoms of allergies. Mint provides antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.

 Pumpkin is a super popular holiday flavor that seems to show up EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING! When choosing pumpkin for your recipes, be sure to purchase plain pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin is super filling and low in calories while high in vitamins A, C, B2, and E. Pumpkin also offers minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and copper. It’s great for vision, lungs, heart, skin, and can help lower blood pressure.

I’ve added an amazing Pumpkin Cake recipe (below) for you to try and enjoy this holiday season!  Only 5 healthy ingredients and super easy! Enjoy!

I hope that you got some great nutritional info, as well as tips to get you in a healthy state of mind for the holiday season. For more great tips on surviving the holidays and staying in great health, download my free Holiday Guide! And, if you find yourself nervous about how you will approach and navigate your health during this holiday season or are looking forward to making awesome changes in the wonderful new year of 2022, I SO encourage you to get in touch with me and invest in your health and well-being NOW. As a coach, I can motivate you, keep you goal oriented, develop strategies to get through tough situations, help with managing stress, controlling sugar cravings, balancing hormones, finding the right exercise and eating plan, and guide you as you invest in the most important asset you have-YOUR HEALTH.  Let me, help you, be the BEST you, and live your BEST life! I look forward to hearing from you! Contact me!

Easy, Tasty, Healthy Pumpkin Cake

Serves: 8.

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 50 mi

Ingredients:

3 eggs

¾ cup (150g) coconut sugar

1 cup (230g) pumpkin puree

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup (125g) self-rising flour

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar.

Beat with a hand mixer for 5 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and has tripled in volume.

Add the pumpkin puree and cinnamon and beat until everything is well-combined.

Sift the flour into the egg mixture and very gently fold, making sure that you do not deflate the eggs.

Grease an 8-inch (20cm) diameter cake pan and pour the batter into it.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool, then slice and serve. Store this cake in an airtight container.

Nutritional Info

154 kcal   2g Fats   34g Carbs  3g Protein

Let’s Have Some Food Fun! Thanksgiving Edition!

The average Thanksgiving Day Dinner intake, according The Calorie Control Council, averages 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat. And that doesn’t include our drinks, appetizers or leftovers, or our sampling of food. I thought we’d have some fun and see what that actually looks like!

Watch below! And, as this was originally recorded in 2020-I need to edit a bit and say Happy New Years 2022 in advance! Enjoy!

Looking for guidance in you health and wellness journey?? Need help with habits, mindset, nutrition, motivation, or stress relief? Let’s chat! Also, be sure to get you awesome 22 page Holiday Survival Guide for FREE right HERE!

Enjoy my video:)

Some fun Thanksgiving food facts! Eat mindfully!

Gift Yourself a Healthy Holiday

It’s that time of the year again! In keeping with my current holiday theme, I’d like to address some of the habits that seem to fall by the wayside for many of us each year during this time. For many, it’s the comfort food, sedentary behavior, extended darkness, and cold weather that tend to affect our health goals just as much as parties and social events. My goal, as a health coach, is to make people aware of the habits and hidden traps that can lead people into the land of temptation and help them create tactics and plans to avoid those added pounds and that sense of exhaustion we often feel around this time of year.

Many factors play into us losing sight of our healthy plan during this busy, and usually stressful, time of year. Aside from the parties, dinners, and social events that fill our schedule, we also may find that our time for movement is cut short. Cold weather and long dark nights may keep us indoors, therefore limiting our time spent getting exercise outdoors, and keep us from getting the fresh air and sunshine that keeps our bodies happy and healthy. Daily walks are cancelled due to inclement weather, and most outdoor physical activities like gardening, tennis, and running are impossible in most areas. It’s important to take some time to evaluate how you used the outdoors in your exercise plan and come up with a replacement that can be easily done indoors. Yoga, treadmills, dancing, and streamed workouts are a fantastic way to bring your movement into warmer settings. It is important to continue to get some fresh air each day, and a bit of sunshine to boost our vitamin D and prevent depression and seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder, or “winter blues”, leads to symptoms of depression in healthy people due to a reduction of daily sunlight. Symptoms include depression, lack of energy, loss of interest in things that bring us joy, issues with concentration, and sleep disorders. Spending a small amount of time each day in the sunshine can alleviate these issues, even if you spend it sitting inside a window basked in sunshine.

Holiday parties and dinners often include decadent foods, adult beverages, and lots of treats we wouldn’t otherwise have in our health plans. The important thing to remember is to ENJOY without OVER-INDULGING! It’s absolutely fine to enjoy a few “only baked once a year” cookies, just remember-it’s about TASTING them and ENJOYING them! It’s not about eating the entire plate of them!! Enjoy your favorite foods and treats in small amounts and move on to the main focus of the holidays-making memories with family and friends, enjoying those around us, and appreciating the time we have together.

When planning your meals during the busy holiday season, be sure to focus on quality over quantity; Eat foods with BALANCE in mind. Consider eating a small healthy snack before heading to parties or big dinners to calm your hunger. Fill your plate with healthy filling foods to begin your meal, and then have small bites of more decadent fare. If you are asked to bring a dish, consider a dish that is veggie based so that you know for sure that you will be getting those healthy bites in. ALL foods are fine in MODERATION! Take small bites, be mindful in enjoying the taste, and enjoy!

Most families have what I call a “food pusher”. It could be your mom, your aunt, or a friend that simply gets her holiday joy from watching people eat ALL her treats. You know who these people are, and you need to have a plan to deal with them in advance-they generally do NOT take “no” for an answer. There’s lots of ways to say no politely, after trying a small sample, of course, but these people usually don’t settle for a simple “No thank you!” Have a plan of action going into this situation and be strong about it. Some people think they must announce their health goals, diet plans…But that often leads to too much attention and discomfort from the food pusher. Always remember, “NO.” Is a complete sentence, and that food pusher will likely move on to a new hungry victim quickly! 

I’ve put together a pretty little resource for surviving the holidays, and it’s free to you HERE. You’ll find great tips for self-care, healthy holiday travel, getting exercise during busy holiday weeks, optional food choices for meals, and a few tracker templates to print out to help get you organized and motivated. I hope you will grab yourself a copy and make your holiday season a little healthier and happier.

New Years is coming up super soon, and with it comes the blessing and promise of a brand new year! If you’re looking for a great way to start your year off with health goals in mind, consider booking free chat with me to discuss putting together the perfect, personalized plan focused on YOU and YOUR goals. Whether it’s getting your nutrition in order, finding time in your schedule for building healthier habits, dropping a few pounds, or finding ways to relieve stress, focus more on self-care, and gaining the energy you crave in life-I can guide you to your goals and keep you motivated for success. Learn more about health and wellness coaching HERE. Find out more about me and my passion for great health, and feel free to drop me a message here to start a conversation about YOU!

Here Come the Holidays!!

And just like that…What seemed more like an endless 2020 than a new 2021 is suddenly drawing to a close. I personally have no idea where the last 11 months went; They seriously flew right on by in a blur. But now, with Halloween happening this weekend, we are headed into the frenzy of holidays bringing us to the end of another year. With that comes the endless amount of busy schedules, family occasions, parties, and food. It can be a tough time for anyone that tries to eat well, exercise, and stay with a wellness routine.

While many people have been told that the average person gains 5-15 pounds during the holidays, that is simply not statistically true. The average weight gain is 1 pound!! However, studies have also shown that that one pound is often not lost, and over a period of years, adds to unwanted weight. What I find most generally with my friends and clients is the end feeling of overdoing it too often, whether it be with food or alcohol, or the feeling of simply not feeling our best due to too many indulgences during the holiday season. It’s easy to get off schedule with movement, to eat or drink too much, or to allow ourselves to be stressed out for too long. So, I’d like to touch on some important ways to avoid some of the holiday health traps and give some tips on staying on track with your goals this season.

Because it’s Halloween, I’ll start with the obvious first obstacle-candy! If you have children in your life or enjoy treating the neighborhood kids to some trick or treating fun, it’s likely that you will face a large amount of candy at some point this week. It can be HARD having all that candy around and not overindulging. To avoid this, try planning to treat yourself to a small amount of your favorite treats, and find a time to absolutely enjoy them! Eat mindfully, focus on the taste and texture, do nothing else but enjoy. Give into a small amount of deliciousness, enjoy, and move on. If you find that you are simply weak when it comes to sugar (it’s ok, there are many!!) Try to put off buying your Halloween candy until the last minute and give it ALL away-even if this means dumpling all of it into the bags of your last few trick or treaters. Another way to deal successfully with Halloween candy is to only buy candy you do NOT enjoy. Until 2 years ago, my family home was a Halloween destination with a huge, haunted yard. We went very big and had hundreds of people show up. We handed out over 30 pounds of candy in a few hours with none left at the end of the night. My husband, however, would order the candy weeks ahead of time, and I quickly learned to remind him to leave the candy at his office, or hide it in our garage in unopened boxes. It was just too much temptation!

Halloween is just the kickoff to the holiday season, which, honestly, in my family, goes all the way to Super Bowl Sunday. Thanksgiving can present a whole new set of issues for people because it’s literally a holiday focused on eating! One of the biggest concerns I hear from clients is about “food pushers”. It seems that everyone has a friend or family member that takes a “No thank you” to food personally. Generally, this person seems to be a grandma or aunt, and they simply will not accept a “no” to their meatballs/cake/pie/cookies/casserole, nor will they accept that a small taste is “enough”. In my family, it was an aunt that would pout if you wouldn’t take a second or third helping. I can remember leaving Thanksgiving feeling sick because she’d sit next to me as a child and make sure I shoveled every bite in. I like to remind people that “NO” is a complete sentence, and a small taste IS enough to enjoy and give praise to our food pushers. Accept a small amount, enjoy it mindfully, say “no” to seconds, and change the subject or move away from the situation. It’s important to remember that holidays are about family and friends-focus on the social aspect of the holiday, and the food aspect will be much easier to navigate.

Alcohol consumption is another holiday concern for many. These drinks are often full of empty calories, they dehydrate our body, and as we drink, we lose touch with our mindset and goals, and often end up not feeling so great in the days that follow. Alcohol often leads to unplanned eating, tired days, and missed exercise. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that the sugar content of my drinks literally gives me a hangover. I call it the sugar overload hangover. If I do indulge, I find that sticking to vodka with a sugar free mixer saves me from the terrible, exhausting, headachy days that often follow just drinking a glass or two of wine. To avoid feeling crummy after having a few drinks, be sure to cut down on the sugary mixes, drink a glass of water to match each libation, and don’t drink on an empty stomach. If wine is your choice this holiday season, consider mixing it with a sugar free flavored seltzer water for tasty, less alcoholic alternative. Again, focus on the social aspect of your events, and you will find that you not only have more fun, but you will be feeling more like yourself on the days that follow.

The holiday season can be very stressful, so be sure to schedule some time for self-care to avoid burn out and exhaustion. Find some time to sneak in some quiet time to refresh your mind and find ways to stay active as the days get shorter, darker, and colder. Take a long walk and enjoy the decorations in your neighborhood or plan some recreation time with family and friends to get everyone moving. If you find that stress is creeping into your daily life, try a little meditation, or simply sit in silence for a few moments to regain your clarity and energy. Focus on basic clean nutrition to feel your best, and on days in which you plan to indulge in holiday treats, eat small, balanced meals to keep your belly full and your energy level balanced.

As our year comes to a quick, busy end, be sure to take some time to focus on YOU. Give yourself a break, acknowledge all that you’ve accomplished this year, and give yourself some praise. As we look towards 2022, start thinking about how you want to embrace that new beginning. I always like to find a word that I want to focus on as each new year begins to get my mindset in order and truly start the year with a clear sense of where I am, and where I want to be,

Have a great Halloween, go easy on the sugar, and get some self-love into your life! If you’re looking for a great FREEBIE to guide you through the holiday season, be sure to grab my 22 page Healthy Holiday Survival Guide! This beautiful guide is chockfull of tips and hacks to get you through just about any holiday wellness situations and concerns. And, if you DO find yourself indulging in too much sugar this Halloween, be sure to watch my blog, and IG, for my new 10 Day Sugar Detox program.

If you’re looking for personal guidance and accountability to motivate you through this season, consider a free chat with me to discuss your goals and needs, and see how wellness coaching might work for you. Be sure-I’ve got your back this holiday season!

Healthy Holiday Habits

IMG_9628.pngThe Holidays are upon us, and with them comes parties, dinners, baking, busy schedules, and all the general “cheery” chaos that can knock our fitness and nutrition plans right out of whack. This year, instead of giving up, or giving in, and thinking, “Hey, I’ll start back after New Years…” Let’s make a solid plan for success!  After all, different studies have shown that the average person can gain 5-10 pounds during this festive season-and who want’s that???

*SCHEDULE and PLAN! Holidays get our routines out of whack, so your current routine may be completely impossible right now. Take a few minutes-right now-to look at how your schedule is going, and how you can better plan your exercise, water, and meals. Schedule those needed changes! Put it on your calendar or reminders!

*Be prepared for those big dinners and social events.

**Here’s a crazy fact:
The Calorie Control Council says you may consume up to 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat in total during any one of your holiday gatherings. While the majority of this comes from the meal itself, you can expect to eat nearly 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks! Don’t find yourself in a situation where the food and environment send you into a nutritional spiral-have a plan of action!

*Don’t skip meals thinking it will help in your calorie intake; this can easily backfire and leave you starving and unable to control your appetite. Instead, focus on small meals and snacks of lean protein and fruits and veggies. Eating a small, healthy snack before your event can help you avoid overindulging.

*Many people ask their guests to “bring something” to a holiday event. Instead of baking a huge tray of grandmas famous butter cookies, or dumping some marshmallows into those healthy sweet potatoes and delivering it to the table, take something you can add that you KNOW can fill your belly without, well, “adding to your belly”
For me, this is a beautifully done platter of fresh cut veggies and fruit. I like to fill my belly with THAT, and then sample small amounts of the other foods-while making my protein the base of the meal. And a big glass of water before joining the table!

*Choose you splurges carefully. Look over the offered foods and plan your plate. Sample small amounts of your holiday favorites instead of filling up on foods you eat year round. Enjoy your splurge foods, eat slowly and taste them. Prepare yourself for “food pushers”! Food pushers are thse loving friends and family member that don’t take “No” for an answer. It may be your grandmother with her famous pie, or your best friend with a bottle or two of wine. I’ve seen lots of ways to “explain” the WHY behind saying “No thank you!” to the food pushers…cute ways to inform people that you are dieting-“no thank you, I’m allergic, if I eat that my thighs will break out…” or putting the responsibility on your doctor or nutritionist-“My doctor says I can’t have….” Personally, I find that just saying, “That looks truly delicious, but no thank you” works nicely Stand firm, and don’t feel the need to explain yourself. The last thing anyone wants to do at a gathering is spend time explaining your food choices, whether it be for diet reasons, allergies, or otherwise; not to mention, all of the opinions that will surely follow. *As always-enjoy the people and social aspect of your event. Have a few great conversation starters to keep your socializing active, and try to be social away from buffet and snack tables. And hav

* Exercise during the holidays can be super difficult. For some, the weather is nasty, there’s lots of travel, busy schedules, and guests. This can make sticking to an exercise schedule HARD!
Again, it’s all in the planning. Think “family fun” and schedule in some family activity: Ice skating, skiing, hikes, walks. Enjoy some social time while getting some movement. Consider wearing your exercise footwear while cleaning, cooking, shopping-and take small breaks to march-or even dance-for short bursts of calorie burn. If doing some crazy Black Friday shopping, take a few laps around the mall. If you find yourself traveling, walk the airport while waiting for flights. If driving, stop for small breaks and take a few laps around a gas station or convenience store parking lot.
 If you are staying in a hotel or with friends, ask about exercise equipment that might be available. Or, pack some resistance bands or your yoga mat to get a short workout in.

*Set up your current environment for success! If you are visiting family, or traveling, or just running around getting things done-make your surroundings successful. Keep a cooler of water and healthy snacks in your car, or in the room where you might be visiting. Throw your sneakers in the car and get some extra steps in the parking lot of the mall. Take a break from decorating, wrapping, or cooking, and march for 10 minutes.

*Practice SELF CARE! (So hard this time of year!) take a minute before meals to breathe and set yourself up for mindful eating, get the rest that you need, take some times for yourself each day to look around, breathe, look at the beauty of your family and friends, and take in the lights, decorations and music of the season. All of this will help avoid stress.

*FIND SUPPORT! Find an accountability partner; ask a friend or family member to join you on your journey

*If you do succumb to a bad day, or even week, pull your self together! Do not feel guilty! We are all human, and this happens! Feeling guilty can lead to even worse behavior-so pick your self up and brush yourself off! Plan to make your next meals balanced! Check your portion sizes, focus on lean proteins, and lots of fiber filled veggies. Avoid those processed foods, drink that water, and get up and get some movement in.