Make Some New Traditions This Thanksgiving…

21 11 2017

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I enjoy looking for NEW traditions when it comes to recipes for the holidays. Green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, mashed potato casserole….yeah, I need a break from the “casserole” section of the cookbook! While I love our traditional family recipes (it would not be Thanksgiving without my mom’s stuffing!), I also enjoy trying new foods and preparing them in different ways. I guess it’s the “foodie” in me! I have been on the look out for some great fall recipes to spruce up your Thanksgiving table this year, and I think you’re gonna like them! I have personally made all of these dishes and found them to be healthy, flavorful, and totally delicious. They are a great way to change up your Thanksgiving menu, or at least add some really tasty vegetables to your plate!

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup: Literally one of the easiest soups I have ever made! This comes from Gimme Some Oven. Simply add the ingredients to the crock pot and 4 hours later, you have soup! Having an immersion blender is key….this little gadget makes blending in the crock pot a breeze (I use this to blend up my apples for apple butter too). It is super handy, small and inexpensive. Get one!


Kale Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette: They key to eating kale in a salad is massaging it with a little olive oil! Who knew you had to massage kale? The real deal of this recipe is the pumpkin vinaigrette. Literally one of the best dressings I have ever made! You could simply make the dressing and add it to any salad. This recipe comes from Parents Magazine. Feel free to substitute goat cheese for Feta if you have it on hand…it’s fabulous!

Stuffed Acorn Squash: This is something I had never made before. This squash is stuffed with a cranberry apple dressing that is to die for! I actually substituted sweet Italian turkey sausage for the pork sausage and it turned out great. This is so satisfying it could be used as a main dish if you like. Want it to be vegetarian? Omit the sausage or use vegan sausage. This recipe comes from Happily Unprocessed.



Wild Rice, Pear & Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Walnuts: Registered dietitian, Sally Kuzemchak of Real Mom Nutrition, does it again! I just love her recipes. They are simple, family friendly, and nutritious! I literally made this one night after working all day, and paired it with some all natural Al Fresco sweet apple chicken sausage for some extra protein. This dish was such a wide variety of flavors. Very pleasing to the palate! Give it a try…

Balsamic Green Beans: One of my tried and true recipes from Southern Living Magazine. This beats mushy canned green beans, hands down! The balsamic vinegar with a hint of  brown sugar really kick this up to the next level…—southern-living.html

So where did I get the motivation to try some of these new things? Well, the Shaw family joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) program through a local farm this year (Harmony Farm), and we were able to get our hands on lots of fresh produce! We got a wide assortment of local, seasonal produce weekly, which gave us a break from buying it at the store. My sister-in-law even referred to it as having Christmas every week! Recently, our haul included some beautiful acorn squash, kale, butternut squash, and green beans. Having great ingredients on hand always inspires me!

So from our family to yours, have a bountiful and blessed Thanksgiving holiday!


Cathy Shaw, RDN, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian for the WV PEIA Weight Management Program, and loves to be wild and wonderful in West Virginia…

Cathy head shot


Treasure the Moments This Holiday Season…

22 12 2016

Are you enjoying the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Or are social gatherings and christmas-tree-grape-and-cheese-trayholiday treats creating anxiety and worry about maintaining your healthy habits? Navigating the holiday season can certainly be a challenge, but don’t let stress take away your joy or treasured time spent with family and friends.

Savoring the holidays doesn’t mean that you have to overindulge in anything and everything that comes along. Remember that our holiday season, no matter what holiday you may celebrate, is a time to reflect and ponder the gifts we have been given in our lives, and a time to share joy and peace with others. Of course traditional foods are often part of this reflection (our house would not be the same without my grandmother’s pizzelles and her Italian wedding soup!), and it is a perfect time to share these traditions with those around us. But what you choose to share and savor is completely up to you!  I have heard people say that they are avoiding holiday gatherings, or are worried that there will be no “good” foods to choose from. To this I say, if food is bringing about feelings of fear and guilt, then we have some work to do! Here are some tips to help reduce your anxiety about holiday gatherings, and enjoy the taste of the season:


  1. Realize that this time of year is a little different. Foods are different, schedules are different, feelings are different. Be aware of your own needs. This can be as simple as eating regularly, staying hydrated, and getting some rest. If you tend to get stressed out over the holidays, find a way to relax for a few minutes daily. Try a hot bath, a stroll outside in the fresh air, a power nap (no more than 20 minutes!), or even meditation/deep breathing. Gather your thoughts and remember what the holidays are really about.


  1. Before you head out to socialize, remember to take the edge off. Never go to a party famished! Have a small snack before you leave the house to help control hunger. An apple and a small handful of nuts can do the trick.


  1. Before you eat, make sure you check out everything that is available. Be mindful. Make a conscious decision to choose only the foods that you really want to try, and make one plate to nosh from for the evening. This way you can savor what you really want, and you won’t have to worry about trying everything (and inevitably feel guilty later).


  1. Socialize! That’s what you’re there for, right? Conversation is calorie free! Choose to socialize away from the food table, catch up with old friends, and make new ones. Chances are, if you are talking, you aren’t eating (well, because talking with your mouth full is NOT good party manners!).


  1. Go easy on the alcohol. Calories from wine, beer, and cocktails can really rack up, so be mindful. If you do drink, do so in moderation (approximately 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men), and realize that the more you drink, the less you may be able to resist overeating.


  1. Bring something wonderful! Everyone is always worried that there will be no “healthy” food for them to eat. Simple solution: bring your own! A festive salad, a healthy appetizer, a pretty dessert. Most people love when guests bring gifts or things to share, so “wow” them with something healthy, pretty, and delicious! Here are some great ideas:

Kale Salad with Cranberry Almond Vinaigrette:

Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto:

Grapes, Goat Cheese, and Nuts:

Spiced Hot Fruit Bake:

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pecans:

  1. Be realistic. If you are on a weight loss journey, realize that losing weight over the holiday season may be a lofty goal. Focusing on weight maintenance, as well as mindfulness when it comes to food, may be better options. No one should feel anxious or guilty for enjoying time spent sharing holiday traditions with family and friends. Ditch the negative self-talk, cherish your time together, and know that your journey will continue well into the New Year.


Wishing you peace, love, and joy this season and always…

Cathy head shot     Cathy Shaw is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

for the WV PEIA Weight Management Program

This “Parrothead’s” View of Summertime Adventures

10 06 2016



Greetings summer! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Summer is quite honestly my favorite season of the year. If I could live somewhere tropical year round, I would. I love the sunshine, warm temperatures, long days, and moon lit nights. My favorite seasonal foods (you guessed it, fruits and veggies!) are fresh and abundant, and travel is always on the agenda.

If you are like me, you love to travel, whether it be weekend road trips to popular cities and close by mountain getaways, or long trips to the coast to enjoy the sand, surf, and your own little version of “Margaritaville”. In my world a “license to chill” is readily accepted and cherished.

But, that license to chill can also put a damper on your healthy lifestyle goals if you are not mindful. Most people give in to the fact that they are destined to gain weight instead of lose weight on vacation, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As a matter of fact, I encourage my clients to set a goal for maintaining their weight while out on their adventures. This is much more achievable, and won’t leave them disappointed and frustrated with themselves after their trip.

Keeping these few things in mind can keep you sailing in the right direction, instead of getting “stranded on a sandbar”:

  1. Ditch the “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and pack a cooler for road trips. Fill it with healthy snacks or even a picnic lunch. Depending on your destination, there may not be many options other than fast food and convenience stores on the road less traveled. Try packing chopped veggies, plenty of fresh fruit, nuts, popcorn, and string cheese. For a relaxing roadside picnic, pack a good ol’ PBJ sandwich on whole wheat, some yogurt, sweet potato chips, and, don’t forget the water! If you must stop to buy something to eat, choose the healthiest possible items (think more vegetables and fruit) and keep portions small or share with a travel buddy.
  2. Beware of the “Boat Drinks”. Hot summer days and cool, starry nights make those legal beverages way more appealing! Yes, it’s five o’ clock somewhere, and cold beer and frozen margaritas seem to go hand in hand with summer vacation. But, be mindful. A 12oz beer, a 5oz glass of wine (that’s right, I said 5oz), and a 1 ½ oz shot of liquor have about 150 calories each! Some craft beers can push 250 calories, and that mixer you just added to your tequila just robbed the sugar and calorie bank (an 8oz margarita on the rocks clocks in at 455 calories, while a 12oz can set you back 680). Try to stick to one drink, and if you can’t, try to trim back by drinking light beer, making a spritzer by adding seltzer or diet Sprite/7 Up to your white wine, and using sugar free mixers for your liquor. And remember to drink plenty of water, especially on hot days when alcohol can exacerbate dehydration.

Try this “Skinny” Coconut Margarita recipe…but remember, just 1!

3. Get on the “Coconut Telegraph” (i.e. Google) and map out a plan to enjoy the local fare. Are there farm markets or costal roadside stands brimming with local fruits, vegetables, and even seafood? Plan on eating in and savoring healthy, flavorful foods with friends. There’s nothing like a simple meal of grilled vegetables, broiled seafood (or my favorite, a bushel of Maryland blue crab with lots of Old Bay), and slices of juicy watermelon after a long day in the sun. Save restaurant trips for a special night to help keep a lid on overindulgence.

Try this recipe for a fresh shrimp and avocado salad:

4. Use that “Tin Cup Chalice” for water…lots of it! If you are spending the day in the heat, whether in the city or along the coast, dehydration is a serious risk. Drink plenty of water and don’t wait until you are thirsty to do so. Carry a bottle of water on sightseeing adventures and pack a cooler to take to the beach. Try water infused with fresh fruit for a great tasting twist, or freeze 100% juice for a great frozen treat.


Raspberry Greek Yogurt Popcicles:


  1. Get up and do the “Desperation Samba”. In other words, get moving! Now is your chance! Take advantage of beautiful weather and great outing opportunities to move and have fun. Take an early morning run on the beach, or a cool evening walk on the boardwalk with your sweetheart. Go hiking in the mountains or dance the night away to local music. Swim and snorkel with the fish and boogie board with your kids (didn’t know you could still do that, did you!). Fly kites, play wiffle ball, and do the limbo! That’s what vacation is for…you never know, you just might be a “Hula Girl at Heart”.


So remember, the next time you hit the road or fly the friendly skies, staying active, being mindful of choices and portions, and savoring fresh local flavors can be your ticket to a great holiday. Bon Voyage!


Cathy Shaw, RD, LD is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian for the WV PEIA Weight Management Program

Holiday exercise tips!

15 12 2015

During the holiday season there is more hustle and bustle. Decorating, baking, Christmas shopping, and holiday get-togethers often eat into the time we have placed aside for our workout routines. Jessica Smith on the myfitnesspal website has given 5 different ways to fit in some workouts during the holiday season:

  1. Make a master plan.

Take a few minutes to sit down and create a holiday schedule. Around the holidays, we tend to work different hours, spend more time running errands, and going to parties, so creating a personal plan can be a great way to eliminate some of the stress, chaos and wasted time that can keep you from exercising.

If, for example, you know you’ll be spending Wednesday traveling to your family’s house, you may want to schedule a trip to the gym the night before so when you need to start getting the kids ready and the bags packed to head out the door by 10 a.m Wednesday morning, you will have your workout done. Be sure to write down your exercise time and give it priority like an important appointment you can’t cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice (and if you do have to cancel, move it around so that you have another time to work out somewhere in your schedule).

  1. Create an arsenal of travel-friendly workouts.

Even if your holiday schedule is full of out-of-town trips, there are still plenty of great ways to get your sweat on away from home. Do you love going to the gym? Awesome! Use this opportunity to check out a new fitness center while you’re on the road. Head to the closest club and get a guest pass, or try out a new class or workout space to mix up your regular routine. Bonus tip: Some gyms, particularly boutique fitness studios, offer a free or discounted class to first-time visitors.

Prefer home workouts? There are plenty of ways to squeeze in a session with exercise videos or apps. You can even stream workouts on your iPad or tablet from YouTube or a wide variety of subscription-based fitness programs (check out GrokkerDaily Burn or Fitness Blender to get started).

  1. Get the family involved.

Spending quality time with the family doesn’t have to mean sitting around and eating all day (and night) long! Get the party started by suggesting a holiday-themed dance contest or an outdoor football game. Even a walk around the block to look at holiday decorations is a simple way to get everybody moving together.

  1. Multi-task.

Headed to the mall to do some holiday shopping? Squeeze in some extra steps while you are there by taking a few window-shopping laps before starting your mission. Cooking a big meal for a family gathering? Once your prep is done and everything is in the oven, set your timer and hit your garage or living room for a short workout session while you wait. Even just pumping out a few sets of squats or jumping jacks at various intervals throughout your day can make a difference. Remember, a little bit of something is always better than a big nothing.

  1. Aim to maintain.

Finally, don’t forget to cut yourself some slack. Sure, a hardcore session at the gym would be great if you can find the time to fit it in, but a walk around the neighborhood with your kids is also a win. Celebrate your small victories during this busy time to help you stay inspired to get back into the game again as soon as you can. Maybe you won’t be making major fitness gains during the holidays, but if you focus on maintaining, it will be much easier to pick up your regular routine (versus starting over) again in the new year.

Remember these are just some suggestions of ways to fit in workouts throughout the holiday season. If these don’t tickle your fancy the Weight Management Program has many different suggestions/tips to offer. The weekly challenges, Maintain Don’t Gain challenge, and monthly newsletters are just a few of the resources we have to help you find different ways to stay on track through the holidays. We (the health professionals within the Weight Management Program) are here to support and guide you along the way, so don’t hesitate to ask!

Happy Holidays!

Kelly Stubna MPH, Health Behavior Coach