I’m baaaack! It’s been a while and life has been hectic, but I’ve got some fun posts in our future. Wanted to send this one out, as found in Daniel Island Park Living magazine (soon to be Daniel Island Life magazine!). I’m the resident nutrition writer, and am having a blast doing it! 8 Tips […]Read More
I love stuffed mushrooms! They make for an amazing appetizer or main dish. My recipe also makes for a great Meatless Monday or other meat-free main dish menu item. You can play around with the stuffing ingredients any way you wish. I love the combination of feta, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes; and the arugula […]Read More
I am a lover of all things pumpkin, so this morning I whipped up a batch of pumpkin “pie” oatmeal. Because I used steel-cut oats it took about 30 minutes to prepare; but you could easily make this with Old Fashioned or Quick Cooking oats. Oatmeal is a fabulous way to start to the day: […]Read More
We had a dinner party a few week’s ago and I served these beautiful Turkish and Black Mission figs with cheese as an appetizer. Problem is, I bought way too many figs from the bulk section at Whole Foods and needed to do something with them. Since I’m always looking for a quick and easy […]Read More
Great link to an article on dairy-free, gluten-free lunch ideas! Enjoy!Read More
I’m baaaack! It’s been a while and life has been hectic, but I’ve got some fun posts in our future. Wanted to send this one out, as found in Daniel Island Park Living magazine (soon to be Daniel Island Life magazine!). I’m the resident nutrition writer, and am having a blast doing it!
8 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years is a time to enjoy, reflect on our blessings, and create lasting memories with our loved ones. The reality, however, is that this time of year is often the most stressful. Normal holiday-preparation stress aside, it’s tough to manage ones weight when you’re surrounded by desserts, chocolates, candy, alcohol and an endless invitation list of buffet-style parties. How can you maintain (or even lose) weight during such a tempting time? Here are eight tips that I believe are a sure-fire way to enjoy the holidays this year without packing on the pounds.
(1) Keep your exercise routine consistent.
One of the most effective ways to maintain or lose body weight is to engage in regular, sustained physical activity*. This time of year, being consistent with your routine is going to be key. Incorporate moderate intensity activity (e.g., jogging, brisk walking, swimming, cycling) on most days of the week. Balance this with weight-bearing exercises and stretching. While the gold standard for exercise is between 150 and 200 minutes per week, any length of time is still better than no time at all! Just try your best to keep it consistent.
* If you haven’t exercised in the last 6-months, check with your doctor first.
(2.) Choose 5 before you imbibe (or eat holiday fare).
Gram for gram, fresh fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories (and more nutrients) than most other foods. Research has shown that fruits and veggies fill you up quickly and help prevent overeating. Plus, they won’t give you the roller coaster blood sugar response that most holiday junk foods do. So keep fresh fruits and cut-up vegetables within arm’s reach – and aim to eat at least 5 cups worth before you even consider that glass of wine or slice of pecan pie. Odds are if you’ve eaten 5 to 9 servings of produce before that, there’s not much room left in your belly for junk.
(3) Control the risk for temptation.
Controlling even the slightest chance of coming in contact with ‘tempting’ foods is one way to effectively reduce your intake. While you won’t be able to control all situations, focus on the many ones you can. For example, do you keep candy or cookies at your desk or workspace? Are your holiday cookies sitting on the counter calling your name?
Make a mental note of tempting places and try to control them. Negotiate with co-workers that goodies will be kept solely in the break room, not at the front desk or sprinkled all over the halls. Store your cookies out of sight in a tightly sealed container or freezer and only go near them when you are ready to take them out for a party or give as gifts.
Mentally plan out how you will avoid tempting situations. If you can’t avoid them entirely, see number 4.
(4) Limit to one-a-day.
When all seems lost and you just want to dive into those Christmas cookies, try the one-a-day method. Allow yourself one small serving of a dessert or high-calorie food each day during the holiday season. If alcohol is the culprit, limit your drink to one serving (e.g., 1.5 oz spirits, 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine). Remember that you may have to compensate for the extra calories by cutting back somewhere else, or burning a few more calories exercising. If you aren’t confronted with holiday foods that day, just skip your one-a-day, but don’t compensate and double-up on your serving the next.
(5) Never go to a party hungry.
One of the worst things you can do is skip eating all day to ‘save up’ for a binge-eating episode at a party. Have a nutritious snack like a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, cut-up vegetables, low-fat yogurt, whole grain crackers with peanut butter or even a glass of skim milk before the party. This way you’ll be satisfied when you arrive at the party and increase the odds that you will not overeat.
(6) Bring a healthy dish and/or “scan and plan”.
Offer to bring a healthy, low-calorie dish with you to a holiday party. At least you’ll know you have at least one good dish to choose from!
If bringing a dish isn’t an option, choose the “scan and plan” method. Before the party, see if you can find out what is being served. Scan the menu before you go and make your healthy choices ahead of time. If you aren’t privy to what is being offered, scan the buffet table when you arrive. Make a mental note of healthy dishes, such as a fruit or vegetable platter, lean meats without cream sauces, or broth-based soups. Plan to fill your plate with these foods first and then (if there’s room on the plate) sample a few of the other high calorie dishes. Once you fill your plate, walk away, sit down and enjoy the food. Wait twenty to thirty minutes before going for seconds. If you still feel hungry after that, go back and enjoy a second helping of a low calorie dish. Planning what you will eat and how much you’ll eat ahead of time is a great way to cut back on calories while still enjoying the event.
(7) Say No Politely.
Many times you feel forced to eat foods because people keep putting it in front of you. Learn to say no politely, such as “No thank you, I’ve had enough. Everything was delicious”, or “I couldn’t eat another bite. Everything tasted wonderful”. You’ll find saying no isn’t so hard to do after all.
(8) Focus on socializing.
Don’t stand around the food table when you are at a party – focus your energy on making conversation with others instead of eyeballing the food. Conversation is, after all, calorie-free.
Remember, the holidays are meant to celebrate good times with family and friends. Enjoy the holidays and plan effective strategies to help you achieve your weight loss goals. Achieving what you sought out for will give you one more good reason for holiday cheer! Happy Holidays!
I love stuffed mushrooms! They make for an amazing appetizer or main dish. My recipe also makes for a great Meatless Monday or other meat-free main dish menu item.
You can play around with the stuffing ingredients any way you wish. I love the combination of feta, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes; and the arugula gives this just the flavor kick it needs to make it fabulous.
Serve as a main dish with a side salad or stuff into baby bella mushrooms for a great appetizer!
Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
4 large portobello mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup artichoke quarters (from drained can or frozen), chopped coarsely.
2 cups arugula, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted in water
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Clean portobellos with a paper towel and remove any dirt. Turn mushrooms over and remove stem and, using a spoon, scrape off gils until you’ve formed a “bowl” on the underside.
3. Heat a large cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet over medium high. Place portobellos on skillet and cook three minutes on each side. Season mushrooms with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Remove from skillet and set aside.
2. In the same skillet add olive oil and onions, sautéing until translucent. Toss in garlic, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. After heating through (about 3 minutes) add the arugula, heating until slightly wilted. Transfer ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Add the panko and feta cheese to the mixture and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Stuff mushrooms with the mixture. Place on a cookie sheet and let bake for 5-7 minutes to set the flavors and melt the cheese. Serve immediately.
I am a lover of all things pumpkin, so this morning I whipped up a batch of pumpkin “pie” oatmeal. Because I used steel-cut oats it took about 30 minutes to prepare; but you could easily make this with Old Fashioned or Quick Cooking oats.
Oatmeal is a fabulous way to start to the day: it’s chock full of cholesterol-lowering fiber, phytonutrients and b-vitamins. Oatmeal is also filling – which means I won’t be searching for anything to snack on before lunchtime. The pumpkin is loaded with antioxidant-rich carotenoids and fiber too. But what I love most about this breakfast is that it reminds me of walking through leaf-covered trails on brisk, cool mornings back in Michigan and Ohio… When snow strikes those regions from mid-November through March though I am quickly reminded just why living in the Lowcountry is so wonderful
Enjoy this warm bowl of yumminess soon!
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
4 cups water
1 cup Steel Cut Oats
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Chopped nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), optional
Dried cherries, cranberries or raisins, optional
Nonfat greek yogurt or skim milk, optional
1. Heat water over medium high in a large pot. Bring water to a boil and slowly add oats. Let come to a boil and then turn to low and let oatmeal simmer for about 25 minutes.
2. For the last five minutes of cooking add the pumpkin puree, pie spice and maple syrup. Cook until heated through.
3. Remove from heat and serve immediately – topping with your favorite nuts and dried fruit. Enjoy!
We had a dinner party a few week’s ago and I served these beautiful Turkish and Black Mission figs with cheese as an appetizer. Problem is, I bought way too many figs from the bulk section at Whole Foods and needed to do something with them. Since I’m always looking for a quick and easy breakfast or snack to serve the kids, muffins were on my mind!
These muffins incorporate whole wheat flour, fiber and potassium-rich figs, lemon zest, reduced fat sour cream (to cut the fat but keep them moist), and warming cinnamon (which has been found to help with blood sugar control and have anti-microbial properties).
Whole Wheat Fig Muffins
Makes 18 muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup packed chopped Black Mission figs and/or Turkish figs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk (I made my own: 1 1/4 cups skim milk mixed with 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar)
2 large organic cage free eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract (I suggest Nielsen-Massey)
zest of 1/2 lemon
optional: 1/2 cup chopped pecans or hazelnuts
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Whisk first 7 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar through zest.
4. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet and whisk together.
5. Spray cooking spray into 18 muffin wells, or line muffin wells with paper. Scoop mixture into muffin wells and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden in color and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes clean.
These muffins are light, moist, and slightly sweet. I love the crunch the seeds from the figs lend. Great served warm and spread with almond butter
Great link to an article on dairy-free, gluten-free lunch ideas! Enjoy!