Reducing Holiday Stress

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The holidays are among us – a time of year that’s known for its busy nature that can be quite stressful. After all, you likely have several invitations to gatherings collecting on your counter, a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to, and the daunting task of braving the shopping mall crowds to find the gifts for your loved ones. All of this on top of your normal everyday life can be overwhelming, to say the least.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ways to navigate this busy, stressful time of year and make this season a lot more enjoyable, less stressful and a time you will remember with fond memories.

The stress-free guidance I'd love to share include…

After wrapping presents be present: It can be difficult, I understand. It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook or email when we have a free moment – do you do the same? One way I like to dodge this is to leave my electronics in another room. Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from communicating with your gathered love ones. When I’m feeling particularly scatter-brained, what really helps ground me is focusing on my senses. What do I smell? What do I hear? What do I feel? Stopping and thinking through what’s going on around you at that very moment really brings you into the present moment unlike anything else. It’s a wonderful tool to use to dial in and be present – and is a great tool to use year-round, not just during the holidays!

Let go of expectations: A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be perfect. That’d be lovely, of course, but putting your entire extended family in one house is bound to have something go awry. Therefore, dropping the expectations of perfection will allow you to be prepared for when something may spring up. There is joy to be found in each situation, so even when things don’t go exactly as planned, spend your energy finding gratitude in your circumstances and enjoying as much of your time as you possibly can. Tis the season!

Move your body: It’s incredibly important to keep movement in your schedule, no matter how busy you may feel. Even if it’s just a brisk walk after waking up or after lunch or dinner. Make it a habit to bundle up in your favorite scarf and winter coat to go for a walk alone to clear your mind, or go with someone you enjoy being around. Be sure that you are getting your time outside in nature, breathing in fresh air, while burning off some calories and keeping your heart rate up.

What are your favorite ways to get some movement in during the cold months? My favorite way to stay moving during the cold season is yoga. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. You can choose a vinyasa flow to build heat and sweat off your holiday dinners or take it slow in a gentle or restorative yoga postures to relax and renew your body, mind, and spirit.

The holidays are a time for fun and love. You can stop stress in its tracks by following the above tips and actually enjoy this jolly season.

4 Ways to Sneak Healthy Foods into Your Holiday Dishes

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The holidays are here, and it is time to savor all the joy they bring -- friends, family, meals together, giving & gratitude. Of course, along with them are hearty dishes and sweets that can certainly wreak havoc on our bodies. Casseroles laden with cream, sugary cakes and cookies, and other tempting empty calorie bombs will adorn the dining tables we surround. Unless we do something about it, that is!

But how can you make healthy decisions during the season of eating, especially without anyone noticing? Well, I have a few of my favorite tricks to share with you that I use each season, and the best part is, everybody loves it.

My favorite ways to sneak more nourishment into my holiday meals are...

Toss beans into your salads soups, or casseroles

Beans are so full of fiber they might just help you and your family from eating thirds at Christmas dinner because they are full and satiated. Legumes are a powerhouse of nutrients that include meat-free protein, zinc, folate, antioxidants and more. Adding beans to your soups and pureeing the soup give a nice velvety smooth texture too. These gems are very versatile and can replace meat in many dishes for any vegans you have visiting.

Add turmeric to your dishes

Make some of your food a pretty orange color by adding turmeric. It’s a natural, powerful anti-inflammatory that is filled with antioxidants. It is related to ginger and looks quite similar to a ginger root, and is most easily consumed in dried form. You can sneak it into dishes by sprinkling it in and enjoy the benefits it brings. Add just a little bit to your soups, sweet potatoes, salad dressings, and dips. Go easy on it since the flavor can be strong to those that aren’t used to it.

Use alternative sweeteners for your sweet treats

Don't worry -- I'm not suggesting you do away with your dessert table altogether, but those unrefined sugars are what we are trying to avoid. If you swap out the unhealthy stuff for a natural sweetener that is a better option, you’ll still get the sweet tastes everyone loves without the slew of chemicals. Try raw organic honey. Local honey is best which can typically be found at your local health food store. You can also look for coconut sugar or coconut syrup, or even use dates, which is my favorite sweetener.

Utilize fresh herbs for flavor and health benefits

Fresh herbs add a new dimension of taste to your dishes without adding fat and calories. Plus, they naturally have their own benefits from adding more antioxidants to reducing inflammation. Experiment with your favorite ones to add more zing to your mashed potatoes or liven up your veggies.

The holidays don’t have to be so heavy on the unhealthy items, particularly when you use these simple tricks for making your favorite holiday dishes healthier. Happy Holidays!

How To Stop Stress Eating This Holiday Season. You Have The Power.

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The holidays can be a great time of joy for many. But for others, this is a time filled with anxiety and stress. Sometimes, even for those that love the family get-togethers, the stress of holiday shopping, finances, and hosting relatives can tear them apart. When stress hits at this time of year, it’s easy to turn to that tray of Christmas cookies for moral support. After all, cookies won’t criticize you for your life choices the way your family will.

But that’s not healthy and you know it. Plus, you’ll feel even less joy when you realize you’ve undone the whole year’s worth of fitness you’ve worked so hard for. If you find the holidays cause you to gobble down more than you should as a way to cope with the stress, I present to you these 5 ways to stop the stress eating before the first tray of cookies is hurried out to the company break room.

Meditate

Meditation is a tool that will help you handle any stress that you have to face. Sitting still, in silence for 5,10,or 20 minutes is the one spiritual practice I never stop. If you commit to meditating just 10 minutes a day, your outlook, reactions, and over all wellness will change for the better. Meditating is stress-reduction superstar.

Activity

When your boss announces there are no bonus checks this Christmas or your running behind on shopping for your Christmas list, instead of reaching for the holiday goodies, get outside in the fresh air for a walk, hit the gym, take a yoga class, or just do something physical that appeals to you. You’ll release the stress and the exercise will help release the proper chemicals in your brain to make you feel better.

Stimulate your brain

The brain needs exercise too. Instead of letting it harp on the negative things that cause you to stress-eat, give it something constructive to do. Take 10 to 20 minutes to yourself to read something you want to read, work on a crossword puzzle, participate on a ballroom dance class or do something else that stimulates your mind in an enjoyable way. It will help you feel refreshed.

Focus on healthy eating

It’s true the holidays are certainly a time for more indulgent meals. When you focus on healthy eating on a daily basis, prior to the big family dinners, it won’t be such a shock to your waistline. Make sure you’re eating meals as you would normally without skipping them. If you starve yourself all day because you get busy with your job, family and gift shopping, you’re more prone to stuffing yourself at dinner with things that aren’t very healthful. Don’t fall into this eating trap because if you do the only thing you’ll feel is stuffed, bloated and regret.

Practice mindful moderation

To be honest, I believe eating in moderation can send you into an eating nightmare. During the holiday, eating in moderation can become more ‘frequent eating” with all the holiday events so one must be careful in deciding what to eat. Yes, there are certainly foods we only get to enjoy during this time of year like holiday cookies and cakes. But again, eating all of them isn’t going to do any good. So indulge mindfully and moderately. If you always look forward to your sister’s famous pecan pie, then focus on eating that when the time comes and say no to treats that aren’t as delicious like boxed cookies that you can get any time of the year.

Darling, forgive yourself

No one is perfect so if you find you caved into peer pressure at work and ate holiday treats you promised yourself you wouldn’t, forgive yourself and move on. The next moment is different and you can choose to stop eating the snacks and sip tea instead. Make the next thing you eat healthy and get moving on your exercise. But above all, keep your head up because that is the key to getting through the stress of the holiday season.

I personally love the holiday season…the crowded lines at the airport and shopping list that goes on forever. I find this time of the year to be magical and full of love. Yes, things don’t always go as planned but the way I handle the stress during the holidays is by chanting this a mantra in my head:

I got this

Or ask yourself this question:

What would love do?

I’ve given you many ways to help you handle the holiday stress but here’s the kicker: You create your own stress. I know, nobody wants to take responsibility for their own stress. It’s much easier to blame on a boss, family member or horrible customer service agent. Stress is not a real tangible thing. It’s your reaction to things. Our reaction can be stressful or calmer. You choose.

Let me know how you handle stressful moments by leaving a comment below.

Holiday Season Eating Tips: Quick, Healthy And On A Budget

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The holidays are a wonderful time of the year to for parties, gift giving, stuffing stockings and tree lightings. Most likely all your time and money are being spent on family and friends leaving you low on funds, little time to cook and a hungry tummy. I’m here to help you get through the holidays on a budget while eating healthy foods that can be made fast.

I wish I had a present for how many times I've heard the sentence "I can't afford to eat healthy foods." FYI, this couldn't be further from the truth -- there are so many ways to enjoy healthy foods without breaking the bank. In fact, the pre-packaged, processed foods that aren't improving your health are more expensive. They cost more per serving, and they certainly cost more in the long run if we're factoring in your long-term health and doctor bills. The good news though is with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can eat healthy and for much less than you think.

Here are 6 tips that will have you eating healthier without straining your budget...

Dust off your slow cooker. A crockpot is like having a personal chef cooking for you. All you have to do is chop some veggies of choice such as onions, carrots, garlic and butternut squash. Add some BPA free canned beans, (lentils, maybe?) low sodium vegetable stock turn the cooker on for a 4 to 6-hour slow simmer. Wa-la, you have a homemade vegetable soup that is nutritious and didn’t take any time to prepare.

Buy frozen berries.This is my personal favorite tool in my kitchen toolbox (or should I say icebox?). Berries are notoriously expensive, even when they’re in season. With the frozen ones, the nutrients are locked in at the peak of freshness. They don’t spoil, and you can toss them in with spinach and fresh bananas for a simple smoothie. I also like to put frozen berries in my hot oatmeal. They defrost quickly and add nutrients to morning hot cereal.

Quick oats for on-the-go. Morning breakfast can still be fast without those pre-packaged oatmeal packs which have additives and sweeteners. If you have to get out the door quickly, pour boiling water on your quick oats and breakfast is done. You can also toss in some of those frozen berries for good measure. Steel cut oats have more nutrients but I’d rather you eat quick oats than a donut.

Make use of kale. Kale is s superfood that is delicious and easy to use. Most people only use lettuce to make salads and those same people, despite their best intentions, become tired of those salads a few days into the week. Instead, buy kale, which is less expensive and more nutrient dense. You can make it into salads, bake it into chips for a fantastic snack, or even sauté it like spinach. I like to throw kale in a soup that has been simmering in a crock-pot the last 5 minutes to let it wilt then serve dinner.

Fresh from the farmers market. Check out the produce from your local farmer’s market. Often, the fruits and vegetables you’ll find there are considerably less than those you’ll get at the supermarket and much fresher too. Plus, many local growers will discount bruised produce even further. Don’t be afraid to check it out and score an even better deal.

Meal planning is not a dirty word. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re not planning your meals for the week, then you’re going to be throwing money away. Take the time to sit down and get organized for the holidays, prepare for leftovers to be incorporated and stick to the plan. You’ll find you’re saving a lot more if you do!

Include seasonal items. One area where you can and should be flexible is with incorporating seasonal items. If a recipe includes asparagus, but it’s not in season or costs too much, replace it with something that is in season and costs less like greens, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, broccoli or beets.

If you look around your kitchen, you’ll likely find even more ways you can save on eating healthy the next time you go grocery shopping. Try out these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to a holiday gathering!

Do you have any more tricks up your sleeve that I didn’t mention here? Hit reply and let me know, I’d love to add any tips to my list.

Fun Halloween Foods That Aren't So Scary

Halloween and an absurd amount of processed sugar seem to go hand-in-hand. With all of the parties and trick-or-treating in the very near future, you may be scrambling to find some healthier versions of fun & festive Halloween foods and treats. Here are some of my favorite healthy versions of Halloween foods that will look great on your food table for that Halloween party that’s around the corner. Enjoy!

Tangerine Pumpkins

Simple, healthy and fun — drawing faces on your tangerines is a great addition to your fruit bowl this season. You can use any fruit with a rind on it for this: oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, even miniature pumpkins.

 

Halloween Fruit

Creating an entire plate of Halloween goodies is as simple as peeling some fruit. Cut small pieces of celery stalk, peel a tangerine, and insert the celery piece into the top as a stem. Peel banana, cut in half and stand each piece up on your plate. Create a simple ghoul face out of melted dark chocolate. Guilt-free and festive!

 

Pumpkin Peppers

The great thing about Pumpkin Peppers is you can add anything you want for the stuffing. I’ve seen them stuffed with mini-salads, rice and beans, roasted veggies, or anything you desire. Cut the top of the pepper off and remove insides, carve your pumpkin face with a knife, and stuff with your desired toppings.

 

Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin hummus is a fun, festive and healthy addition to your table spread this season. It’s also incredibly simple to create! 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed; 1/2 cup pumpkin puree; 1 tablespoon minced garlic; 1/3 cup tahini; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 teaspoon cumin; add fresh cracked pepper and cayenne pepper if desired. Mix all ingredients in food processor, blend until smooth and desired consistency.

 

Candy Corn Fruit Cup

Using mason jars as your fruit cup holder, layer pieces of pineapple and orange slices to create a “candy corn” look. Top with a coconut whipped cream — my favorite — if you desire. These are great for parties and best of all, they’re healthy!

 

Pumpkin Bowl/Dip

It’s up to you what you’d like to put inside of it, but using a pumpkin as a bowl is as festive as you can get. These are perfect for parties — just put your dips inside of a sliced, hollowed pumpkin, and you’ll have a crowd pleaser on your hands.

 

Do you have unique and creative ideas to have a healthy Halloween? Leave a comment below and share your not-so spooky treats.

 

 

Roasted Chickpeas- A Great Snack for Your Summer Travels

Roasted Chickpeas I’ve talked many times about how I love snacks on my blog. My favorite snack is fruit, which is so good for you! Plus, it’s so easy to take a banana, apple or orange on the road with you.

Many people have asked what I snack on besides fruit so I wanted to share my favorite, easy to travel with and high fiber snack…Roasted Chickpeas.

When you roast chickpeas, they become a crispy, crunchy treat that you can eat by the handful (or on a salad if there are any left). This savory snack helps you keep your healthy lifestyle while you are on the go and can easily be carried in your purse or bag. These slightly addictive roasted chickpeas are low calorie and perfect for your fit figure and weight loss goals

Fair warning- be careful not to eat the whole batch in one sitting or you’ll be a little too gassy for you’re the other travelers around you!

Roasted Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix until chickpeas are well coated. Spread the chickpeas onto a baking sheet. Roast until slightly crisp, about 45 minutes. Store in a baggie for travel or store in a glass mason jar for home.

Do you have a go-to travel snack that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below and share.

 

Healthy additions to your holiday Meal

christmas-meal Drum roll please…The holidays are here – a magical time of year filled with sparkling lights, homemade treats, loved ones and holiday feasts. Although there is much more to this season than these large meals, the festivities most certainly can become centered around the dinner table.

Many give up on their health goals during this time of year, planning on picking back up where they left off in the New Year. I’ve been there done that thinking my New Years resolution will help me lose the weight I gained at the holidays. It can sometimes feel like a lost cause even attempting, but I have some good news for you! You do not have to compromise your health goals this season, and better yet, you also don’t have to compromise missing out on your favorite holiday meals. With a few healthy tips you can implement this season and beyond, you can add some healthy additions to your meals without anyone noticing.

A few of my favorite healthy tips are…

Ditch and Switch. Ditch the refined foods and switch them with healthier options. For example, instead of using refined white flour and/or sugar, use almond flour or coconut sugar (my fav) instead. There are many alternatives to choose from, and you can most definitely find one that you will love – and I bet you nobody will even notice! Aside from the sweets, you can also trade out white rice or mashed potatoes with creating cauliflower rice or mashed “potatoes” out of cauliflower. Get creative and create a new traditional food that your family will want year after year.

Fresh Herbs and Spices. You can really dress up a meal by adding fresh herbs and spices to it – I personally use them every time I cook. It’s incredibly affordable and simple to keep a small, fresh herb garden growing in your kitchen window, and you will always have direct access to fresh herbs. Even better, there are incredible health properties in many of the herbs and spices we use and love. Many of our favorite holiday spices are greatly beneficial for our health and a strong immune system, which is certainly helpful during cold and flu season. Cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, and nutmeg are a few of these popular holiday spices that you will reap healthy benefits from, so find a place for them in your recipes anywhere you can! Read my blog about holiday spices here.

Use Different Plates. This trick is fantastic. One of my favorite, most powerful tools to stay on track with my health goals is getting creative with portion control. Instead of using dinner-sized plates, which we tend to fill, use smaller plates. Use a mid-sized saucer or salad plate for your dinner plate, and then go back for seconds if needed. A lot of the overeating that we do is mindless, habitual eating because it’s in front of us and we were taught to clean our plates. Taking this temptation away helps tremendously, and you’ll very quickly learn how much you actually need to feel satisfied – I guarantee it is less than you are used to!

With these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to not entering January feeling bloated, discouraged and off track. A truly healthy life revolves around balance – and finding your own personal balance will take trial and error.

If you take the time now to set yourself up to stay healthy over the holidays, then I promise you, you will feel like a million bucks as the new year rolls around and your already in control of your weight, health and happiness.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy Life!

 

Wonderfully Beneficial Holiday Spices

spices-834114_1280 The holidays are a wonderful time for nostalgia and beautiful memories. I remember my grandmother’s favorite spice was nutmeg and she loved to use it in her holiday baking.

There are few things that can instantly remind you of the holidays, no matter what time of year it is – the scent of a pine tree, the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg – they instantly take you there. Holiday spices are incredibly inviting, comforting and most of all, very beneficial to your health.

These spices hold a purpose beyond their delicious taste that you may not have realized before. Your favorite holiday spices have wonderful health promoting properties that provide you with several health benefits to keep your immune system strong this season.

Benefits of your favorite Holiday spices…

Cinnamon. Arguably the most popular of the holiday spices and the most widely used year-round. Cinnamon provides a warming effect to your body in the cold months, boosts your immune system, stabilizes blood sugar and aids in digestion. I love to put cinnamon in my morning lemon water for the warming affects.

Nutmeg. Another favorite holiday spice, nutmeg, adds a punch of flavor with only a tiny amount needed, so use sparingly in small doses. Nutmeg stimulates your digestion, helps in detoxifying the body and promotes healthy circulation. Enjoy a dash in your morning oatmeal or homemade nut milk.

Cloves. Similar to cinnamon and nutmeg, cloves help promote healthy digestion, which is certainly helpful after those heavy holiday meals. Cloves are also beneficial for reducing phlegm, which is a common occurrence this time of year due to cold and flu season. I like to put cloves in a pan of boiling water, which fills my home with a beautiful aroma.

Rosemary. A favorite to add to your roasted veggies, rosemary is a popular Mediterranean herb that can be used sparsely to add a punch of flavor to your dish. Rosemary is helpful for natural stress relief, combatting inflammation, detoxifying the body and calming an upset stomach. Infuse you olive oil by adding springs of rosemary to your oil.

Peppermint. The perfect follow-up to your hearty meal, peppermint is wonderful for aiding in digestion, relaxing the stomach and enhancing your mood. Have yourself a cup of peppermint tea as a daily ritual during the cold months or to ease indigestion from heavier holiday foods.

Life is too short not to spice it up. As you can see, you have an array of health promoting herbs and spices to infuse into your kitchen this season. Whether it be adding a cup of peppermint tea to your post-dinner wind-down, a dash of cinnamon in your steel-cut oatmeal in the mornings, or sprinkling fresh rosemary on your roasted vegetables – take all the chances you can to enjoy these beneficial spices this season.

Leave a comment below and share with me your favorite spice and how you use the spice in your life.

 

 

 

Creating a Stress Free Holiday

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The holidays are among us – a time of year that’s known for busyness, which can lead to stress. After all, you likely have several invitations to gatherings collecting on your counter, a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to, and the daunting task of braving the shopping mall crowds to find gifts for your loved ones. All of this on top of your normal everyday responsibilities can be overwhelming to say the least.

I want to share with you some of my favorite ways to navigate this busy, stressful time of year and make this season more enjoyable, less stressful and a time you will remember with fond memories.

These secret weapons of mine include…

Put forth great effort to be present. It can be difficult, I understand. It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook or our email when we have a free moment – do you do the same? One way I like to dodge this is to leave my electronics in another room. Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from communicating with your gathered love ones. When I’m feeling particularly scatter-brained, what really helps ground me is focusing on my senses. What do I smell? What do I hear? What do I feel? Stopping and thinking through what’s going on around you at that very moment really brings you into the present moment unlike anything else. It’s a wonderful tool to use to dial in and be present – and is a great tool to use year-round, not just during the holidays!

Give up those expectations. A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be perfect. That’d be lovely, of course, but putting your entire extended family and friends in one house is bound to cause something go awry. Dropping the expectations of perfection will allow you to be prepared for when something may pop up. There is joy to be found in each situation, so even when things don’t go exactly as planned – spend your energy finding gratitude in your circumstances and enjoying as much of your time as you possibly can. Tis the season!

Find time to move. It’s incredibly important to keep movement in your schedule, no matter how busy you may feel. Even if it’s just a brisk walk after lunch or dinner – make it a habit to bundle up in your favorite scarf and winter coat to go for a walk alone to clear your mind or with someone you enjoy being around. Be sure that you are getting your time outside in nature, breathing in fresh air, while burning off some calories and keeping your heart rate up.

What are your favorite ways to get some movement in during the cold months? As you all may know, my favorite way is to get movements in the cold winter months is practicing yoga. You don’t need anything except a mat and the strength, stretch and relaxation you feel form yoga is worth every breath you take on your mat. (yoga video made just for you are on the plan for early 2017).

Stay tuned…I’ll be offering you a winter detox to kickstart 2017. It’s a toxin release party (and weight release) that’s tasty and without deprivation.

Living stress free!