May is National Egg Month!

3 05 2018

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Are you confused by eggs? You go to the store and you see farm fresh eggs, all natural eggs, free range/cage free eggs. Egg lingo can be very hard to understand. Then you get to the cooking and eating part. Are you supposed to cook the whole egg or just the whites? Let’s help you become fluent in “egg language” and give you some nutrition facts.

Eggs aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be, so let’s start with defining the different types of eggs we see at the grocery store:

Farm Fresh Eggs

You might think this term means that a local farmer just went to his coop and gathered the eggs to bring to your grocery store that afternoon, BUT that is not exactly the case. The term “farm fresh” means absolutely nothing and is not a regulated term according to the FDA. Those are just words to help create that nice fuzzy picture in your mind in hopes that you will be more likely to purchase them.

All Natural Eggs

When you see “all natural” on the label you may assume those eggs came from a hen free from all harmful things. BUT, just as before, “all natural” has no legal definition and is not regulated. Almost 95% of eggs in the United States come from chickens that are raised in cages in long rows, inside huge barns that give each bird approximately 67 square inches of space. To give you an idea of what that amounts to, 67 square inches is roughly the size of an iPad. According to commercial egg producers, using this process of production is safe, cost-effective and helps in keeping egg prices down.

Free Range/Cage Free Eggs

We grouped these two terms together because they basically mean the same thing. When you read the terms “cage free” or “free range” what do you think of? You might think of happy hens free from cages, with lots of room to wander all over the farm or pasture. This is exactly what the producer wants you think…. Cage free actually means exactly what it says, which is that the hens do not live in cages. But, they don’t necessarily live in mansion-size barns and get to roam wherever they please either. They do get to walk around and spread their wings and do normal “chicken things”, but space is still an issue. Free range is not a regulated term and means basically the same thing as cage free. Most of the time the hens that live on “free range” farms don’t even have access to the outdoors, because the definition is not specific as to where the chickens have free range. The only specification is that they cannot be in cages. The farms usually have industrial fans that remove ammonia from the buildings and create strong winds through the small doorway. Unfortunately, the hens don’t really want to walk through that to get outdoors!

You may also see “No Hormones” on the packaging. This is misleading because it is illegal to give hormones to poultry, so subsequently eggs are not going to contain added hormones.

“No Antibiotics is another term you might see, which can also be misleading. Though antibiotics may be used to treat hens, FDA regulations assure that antibiotic residues do not occur in the egg itself. Only a very small percentage of laying hens ever receive antibiotics, and only for treating illness. There are companies like Perdue or Tyson that are making progress in eliminating the use of antibiotics in their chickens altogether.

So what eggs should you buy?

Well, our suggestion would be to buy directly from your local farmer if possible! Talk to the farmer and ask how the hens are raised and get the facts. Most areas around WV will have a local egg farmer, so ask around or go to your local farmers market and you’ll surely find one!

 

Now, let’s get to the cooking and eating part!

Egg white vs whole egg.

Here are the facts:

One egg yolk has about 200mg of dietary cholesterol and 5g of fat. Most of that fat is healthy fat, being that it is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are heart healthy and can help reduce cholesterol and risk for heart disease. It’s important to distinguish between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in blood. Blood cholesterol is the cholesterol that is found in your bloodstream. Our bodies manufacture all the cholesterol we need, but the amount of blood cholesterol we have can be influenced by the foods and beverages we consume. Dietary cholesterol is found in foods and beverages of animal origin, but surprisingly does not have much effect on our blood cholesterol level. Dietary fats like trans-fat and saturated fats actually have more of an impact, therefore, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have removed the previous recommendation of limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day. Research on moderate egg consumption has shown that up to one egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease risk. With that being said, when you remove the yolk you are removing key nutrients like protein, vitamin A, D, E, B12, K, riboflavin, folate and iron. Those nutrients can help with your immune system, bone strength, and aid many more functions your body does every day. We know most people do not eat just one egg for a meal, so we would recommend trying one whole egg with one egg white so that you get your vitamins and minerals but not too much saturated fat.

There are lots of different ways to incorporate eggs in cooking, so follow this link for 50 egg ideas:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-egg-ideas

Want to learn more about eggs and health? https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/

Have an egg-cellent day!

Brittany

Author of the blog today is Brittany Powell, a Dietetic Intern from Marshall University working with Cathy Shaw, RDN, LD of the PEIA Weight Management Program

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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!

https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/slow-cooker-butternut-squash-soup-recipe/

 

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!

http://www.parents.com/recipe/kale-salad-with-pumpkin-vinaigrette/

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.

http://www.happilyunprocessed.com/2014/04/29/stuffed-acorn-squash-apple-cranberry-sausage-stuffing/

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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…

https://www.realmomnutrition.com/roasted-sweet-potato-salad/

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…

http://cookbookfundraiser.com/recipe/2468458/balsamic-green-beans—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!

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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





Do You “Break” the Fast?

9 02 2017

 

Have you heard the saying, “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”?  If you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…but why?

 

Breakfast provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast.  Without fuel, you are essentially running on empty.  Think of it this way.  You wake up in the morning and need to drive your car to get to work.  Your gas tank is empty.  How far are you going to get?  The same goes for our bodies.  Without providing our bodies the proper energy needed to jump start our day, we won’t get far.  In fact, research shows that breakfast improves memory, concentration, and focus throughout the day.

 

Breakfast is also an opportunity to feed your body good energy and sources of calcium, iron, B vitamins, protein, and fiber.  Research shows that if these nutrients are missed at breakfast, we’re less likely to meet our need for these on that day.  People who skip breakfast are also more likely to grab a mid-morning snack that’s high in fat and added sugar.

 

Kick-starting your morning with a meal can be good for the waistline too.  Research shows that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than those who do not eat breakfast.  Better yet, breakfast has also been shown to decrease the risk for hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

 

Follow these tips to get the most bang for your buck in breakfast:

 

  1. Don’t skimp on the protein. Protein increases satiety and may result in less total calories eaten in a day.  Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cow’s milk, soy milk, eggs, oats, and quinoa are excellent sources of protein!

 

  1. Add fiber. High fiber foods takes a long time to digest, keeping you fuller for a longer period of time.  Aim to choose a food that has at least 3 g of fiber per serving.  Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as whole grain bread, bran cereal, oatmeal, unsweetened granola, and shredded wheat.

 

  1. Try to eat within the first hour of waking up. No appetite?  Try drinking a liquid breakfast such as a homemade smoothie or instant breakfast beverage that has less than 10 g of sugar per serving.

 

Feeling like there’s no time to eat breakfast in the morning?

We often put effort into packing a nutritious lunch or preparing a healthy dinner yet somehow we tend to let breakfast slip through the cracks.  The good news is breakfast doesn’t have to be an elaborate meal that we sit down to eat.  It can be a meal that we eat on the go or even at the office.  So if you find that your mornings are a rat race just to get out the door and get to work on time, know that there are ways to fit breakfast into your busy schedule.

 

Grab N’ Go Ideas:

  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich + fruit + milk
  • Whole grain bagel with egg and avocado + milk
  • Greek yogurt + fruit
  • Cottage cheese + fruit
  • Smoothie made with Greek yogurt, banana, berries, and low-fat milk
  • Hardboiled egg + fruit + milk
  • Oatmeal mixed with milk and topped with fresh fruit and nuts

 

Recipes:

Honey Lime Quinoa Fruit Salad by The Recipe Critic

http://therecipecritic.com/2015/06/honey-lime-quinoa-fruit-salad/

 

Blueberry Bliss Breakfast Bars by Inspired Edibles

http://www.inspirededibles.ca/2013/05/blueberry-bliss-breakfast-bars-raw.html

 

Sunbutter (or Peanut Butter), Banana, and Chia Seed Toast by Skinny Fork

http://theskinnyfork.com/blog/sunbutter-toast

 

Author of the blog today is Cassie Raugh, a Dietetic Intern with WVU Hospitals, Inc. working with Cathy Shaw RDN, LD of the PEIA Weight Management Program

cassie





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:

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/kale-salad-warm-cranberry-vinaigrette-recipe/

Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/roasted-asparagus-wrapped-in-prosciutto-recipe.html

Grapes, Goat Cheese, and Nuts: 

http://inspiredrd.com/2014/11/easy-party-appetizer-nuts-with-goat-cheese-and-grapes/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+inspiredrd/EjAy+(Inspired+RD)

Spiced Hot Fruit Bake:

http://www.cottercrunch.com/gluten-free-spiced-hot-fruit-bake/

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pecans:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/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





Back to School Meal Planning Blues? Never fear, We Are Here!

26 08 2016

Back to school means back to reality for every teacher, child and parent. The days become Cathy head shotpacked with bus schedules, homework, and after school sports. Our lives have changed a bit this year with our oldest going off to college. Now I don’t have to prepare his meals, I just worry about what he is choosing to eat away from home! I found myself in my kitchen last night doing another evening of meal prep for this week thinking, “Yep, school starts tomorrow! The fun has just begun!” This week has brought the challenge of my crazy “back to school” life front and center! I have had to change my meal planning routine to accommodate the needs of my family, and making sure everyone has nourishing, tasty meals that fit our schedule is a big part of the challenge.

Planning healthy meals and snacks for three people seems a little less daunting since we no longer have to worry about 2 children playing sports, but it can still be like choreographing a Broadway show. My daughter has thankfully learned how to pack her own lunch, so that helps a lot. She is very active in sports,  so packs healthy, energizing snacks as well. Depending on work and evening events, my husband and I figure out some way get a healthy meal on the table, or pack food to take with us to sporting events. Among all of this, he and I pack our own lunches and snacks for our work day, and squeeze in some exercise for ourselves.

It sounds like a big job, but being organized and planning ahead can take the pressure off having to make spontaneous and often unwise decisions. Relying on fast food and take out can be unhealthy and expensive. So instead, have a solid plan of quick and easy healthy meals and snacks ready to tackle the week.

6 Tips to Tackle Your Week:

  • Check your family’s schedule! Start with plotting where family members need to be and when, so that you can decide how to tackle meals and snacks for the week. Think about how many meals you need to plan for, and how much time you will have each day. Are you a working parent? Do your children have after school activities? Do you travel for work? All of these factor in.
  • Plan the basics:

Breakfast: Many people eat the same breakfast most days of the week. Are the choices you are making healthy ones? What small change could you make to improve them? Make sure you plan to keep breakfast staples on hand at all times. Are you in a hurry? Try prepping grab and go items like a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat, or a make ahead smoothie in a to-go cup.

Lunch: If you work, do you pack a lunch or succumb to take out because you didn’t have time to pack? Do your kids or spouse need to pack? Plan to keep lunch staples on hand, or to take leftovers from dinner. That is a great way to use up the healthy foods you have taken the time to make. When packing lunches, do it the night before to save you from the morning rush. If you are taking leftovers, put them into to-go containers as you are putting foods away to save time.

Snacks: Plan ahead for healthy snacks for your kids AND yourself. In a slump at 4pm and starving when you get home? A healthy snack with some protein and carbohydrate can bridge the gap. Kids will always need after school, pre-game/pre-practice snacks, so plan what you need to keep on hand (think apples and peanut butter, string cheese and whole grain crackers, low sugar whole grain cereal and low fat milk or yogurt, etc.)

Dinner: Keep a running list of family staple recipes. Store them however you like, but keep the ones you are using for the week at arms-length (Pinterest is a great way to search, organize and access recipes). Are they made from healthy ingredients, or are there easy ways to make 1 or 2 of them more nutritious this week? Try to choose a new recipe at least every couple of weeks to keep variety in your diet. Pick recipes with ingredients that may overlap to keep your shopping list concise. Don’t let recipes overwhelm you with too many ingredients. Plan on making enough to have some leftovers for lunch, or to create another meal. For example, prepare extra chicken and vegetables that can be used for a stir fry or soup on another night! Use My Plate http://goo.gl/MPJsw to help you focus on planning a balanced meal. Can you check off at least 4 food groups for your meal? Using the premise that half of your plate should be vegetables and fruit will start you off on the right foot.

  • Check your pantry! Keeping a well-stocked pantry is key to successful meal planning for busy families. Get some great ideas here for some basic kitchen staples and kid friendly pantry items: The Good Pantry  A Kid Friendly Pantry Make sure you have what you need for meals and snacks you have planned. What you don’t have on hand, write on your grocery list for the week. Remember to write down the quantities of things you need, otherwise you may come up empty handed. Also, keep a running list of things you need during the week, so you don’t forget anything when you go to the store.
  • Time to shop! Plan adequate time to shop for what you need. Shop from your list to keep impulse spending down. If there are specialty items you need, make sure your grocer carries them, or you may need to find a substitute.
  • Prep it up! It always helps to prep up some of your foods ahead of time to make things flow smoothly during the week. Check your meal plan and figure out what you are going to need for the at least next few days. Some great ways to get started….

*Wash and chop/cut veggies and fruit for recipes and snacks as needed

*Precook meat for things like tacos, casseroles and soups, and drain and rinse beans.      These can be used any meal.

*Get out food prep items you might need like the slow cooker, pots/pans the night before.

  • Get cooking! If you have planned things out pretty well, evening meal prep should be a breeze! Use some great tools to your advantage like the crock pot, pressure cooker, grill, and microwave. Remember to keep it simple, healthy and tasty, and the stress of meal prep will be kept to a minimum

To hit the ground running start out with some healthy breakfast ideas for busy mornings! Check out the great ideas here from http://www.Eatright.org:

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/breakfast-on-the-go

Want to pack your own 5 Star lunch box? Get some great tips here:

https://healthperformance.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/who-said-lunchboxes-are-just-for-kids/

http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2015/01/over-50-healthy-work-lunchbox-ideas.html

Eatright.org also has some great tips for planning healthy family dinners! Check out these ideas, and this great summer recipe!

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/delicious-family-dinners-for-weeknights

Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/AYlxcm643jTc6HlvNYvXux5aHqM3FRhaCDRVYxrXt3vZj8rQ1WdNxLg/





Instead of Resolutions, Let’s Make a Fresh New Start

15 01 2016

Well, we are 2 weeks into January 2016, and how many of you have already ditched your New Year’s resolutions? Or didn’t make any at all because you knew they would never last? January offers us a fresh new month in a fresh new year. Instead of harping on resolutions, why not focus on a fresh new start!

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind of parties, shopping, family gatherings, and often overindulgence. The new year offers us the chance to look at things in a different light; a chance to start anew. A chance to take a deep breath and move forward. So what can you do to make a fresh new start? Try some of these fresh ideas!

Make it a fresh healthy start every day by having a nourishing breakfast. Try a bowl of warm oats with sliced bananas, chopped pecans and a drizzle of honey, greek yogurt with whole grain granola, or cottage cheese with fresh fruit. It starts your day off on the right foot, and gives you the energy your body needs to tackle the day. Want something different to try? Check out a mango vanilla smoothie, or even rice pudding for breakfast!

Each week, pick out a fresh new recipe to make, made with as many whole, fresh foods as possible (think veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, etc). This adds excitement and variety to your meal planning, and can be a lot of fun! Make it a game by putting recipe names on pieces of paper or popsicle sticks and place them in a jar. Have a family member draw out a new one every week. Have your kids help you shop for and prepare your new recipe for your family. Remember, every trip to the grocery and every meal made in your kitchen can be an opportunity to grow a healthy eater!

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family/raise-healthy-eaters-in-the-new-year

Get some fresh air. Yes, winter has set in, but that doesn’t mean the air isn’t just as sweet! The crisp, cold winter air is invigorating, and getting some sunshine on a cold winter day does the body good. That sunshine can help your body make its own Vitamin D, something many people are deficient in during long winter months spent indoors. Don’t like the cold? That is what they make cold weather gear for. Layer up, butter cup! Get some great tips here!

http://www.activelynorthwest.com/fitness/dos-donts-layering-for-winter/

Take up a fresh new winter activity. Learning to do something new is always great no matter how old you are! I grew up ice skating on our neighbor’s pond and skiing in the Pocono Mountains with all of my friends. When I was able to take ice skating and skiing back up when my children were old enough to learn, it was so exciting! If these aren’t for you, try things like snow shoeing and hiking on the rail trails (be sure to wear insulated shoes with good tread, or get yourself some Yak Trax), cross country skiing (WV has some great trails!), or challenge yourself to a winter 5K. Play with your children and grandchildren outside. Try sledding, tubing, building snowmen, and making snow angels. Feel like a kid again!

BusyBeesBenefits_com Family Playing in the Snow
Try a fresh new way to focus on the “good stuff”. Start a Gratitude Jar. Every time you or someone in your family experiences something good, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a big jar. Keep this up throughout the year, and on New Year’s Day, pull out and read all of the “good stuff”. What a great way to remember and reflect on all of our blessings!

gratitude jar

 

So instead of wasting time on resolutions that you know aren’t going to last, tell us, what will you do to make a fresh new start?

…Cathy Shaw, RD, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian with the PEIA Weight Management Program





Hot Tips for a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving

20 11 2015

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, without a doubt. I love it Cathy head shotbecause there’s really no nonsense….no perfect presents to buy and wrap, no costumes to make, no begging for candy, and no rabbits delivering baskets. It’s all about family, friends, love and traditions. It is a time of reflection, to remember what we are thankful for. It is a time when we can gather around the table to share great food, great stories, and to recall how precious our time together really is. In my family, food is a very big part of our celebration of thanks, as I am sure it is for many of you.

You may be starting to worry about how your healthy habits are going to fare over the holiday. There is so much good food to choose from! And face it, much of it is not the healthiest…multiple “casseroles”, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, pies, etc. I know that every blogger and “healthy lifestyles” web site is cramming in their tricks of the trade this week leading up to Thanksgiving. So I don’t miss the boat here, I am going to give you my strategies to make it through unscathed this Thanksgiving:

1. Recognize that this day is going to be different. This is a special occasion, and you WILL eat differently than you do on a typical Thursday. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you will say “no” to all of your favorite foods. Think about it, digest it and prepare yourself.

2. Start planning. If you have a say in the menu, choose to offer at least 2 vegetables that are really healthy options (marinated carrots, roasted asparagus or Brussels sprouts, a green salad, baked sweet potatoes). This way you can be sure to have some healthy options to choose from in addition to your turkey. Put a serving of these on your plate first.

3. Portion control! Those traditional foods that are laden with calories and fat….pick only what you can’t live without, and take a small spoonful or piece. And I mean the things you ONLY have for holidays (stuffing, corn pudding, pumpkin pie), not store bought rolls with butter. Things that are special. Stick to one serving.

4. If you enjoy cooking, experiment with your recipes. There is always some tweaking you can do to make traditional recipes just a bit healthier, like cutting back on the sugar and butter in your sweet potato casserole, and using evaporated skim or 2% milk in your pumpkin pie.

5. Go easy on the alcohol. Remember that 5oz of wine, a 12oz beer and a shot (1-1/2 oz) of liquor is a serving and all have about 100-150 calories each. Not only will several drinks break your calorie bank, they will also decrease your inhibitions. It is very hard to make smart food choices when you have had more than your fair share to drink. Stick to one drink.

6. Be mindful. Eat slowly. Savor each bite of food. Be engaged. Enjoy the conversation and fellowship at the table. Recognize when you are full, and don’t be afraid to leave some food on your plate.

7. Exercise! You know you will be eating differently, so plan on getting more physical activity! Take a long walk on Thanksgiving morning, sign the family up for a turkey trot, play some football, go for a bike ride, walk the dog. Get out and get some fresh air! Some gyms even offer specials the day after Thanksgiving, such as free admission if you bring in canned foods for the food pantry. Take advantage and get moving!

8. Make the holiday one day, not the first step down a slippery slope. Get right back into routine the next day….your body will thank you.

Let us know how you plan to handle the holiday!

*Here are a few great recipes to lighten up your holiday, but still wow your guests:

Cranberry Apple Stuffing: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=827873
For this recipe, feel free to use already prepared turkey stock or broth, or even chicken or vegetable stock/broth.

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes: https://audreysapron.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/roasted-spiced-sweet-potatoes/

Roasted Asparagus: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1537736

Crustless Pumpkin Pie: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=2623141

Follow this link to view the video “How to Cook Turkey for Thanksgiving”. Simply click on “See our tips for preparing turkey”. Great recipe and advice on bringing your best bird to the table!
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/thanksgiving_collection_1

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