Many of us fear the “holiday weight gain” due to all of the holiday parties, festivities, and dining out filled with friends and family and oftentimes centered around FOOD!! The food preparation is oftentimes “out of your hands,” which makes it hard to monitor calorie and fat intake (when you don’t know what’s in it!). Now that Halloween has passed and the “one day candy high” is over, it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving—the food preparation, meal planning and strategies to fight the weight gain!

Here are a few tips and lifestyle changes to fight the holiday weight gain:

  • Plan ahead and “budget your calorie intake” during the day, if you know you will be eating more at an evening event or party that night
  • Get moving! Exercise is key to keeping your metabolism up and weight maintenance. Choose a physical activity that you can do with a friend or family member and hold yourself accountable (at least 30 minutes a day!).
    • Ideas for staying active: take a walk or swim (if you have access to a heated pool) or play a sport of choice (tennis, golf, basketball, throw the baseball or football around with a friend or family member).
  • Bring a veggie side dish or salad (that way you can be 100% sure there will be something healthy at the party!)
    • “Courtney’s recommendation: Your best bet”: a serving of raw or blanched veggies with a low-calorie dip, hummus, or yogurt chive dip (Trader Joe’s) and a few small pieces of low-fat cheese. Don’t indulge on high-calorie or fried appetizers, on top of a heavy Thanksgiving dinner, which will make your blood sugar sky rocket!
  • Pay attention to your portions! Remember that even a “healthy” food can cause weight gain if you have 2-3+ portions of it in one sitting.
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February is American Heart Month! I hope you all had a HAPPY Valentine’s Day and celebrated with a special someone! Valentine’s Day is usually filled with flowers and chocolates or your favorite chocolate covered fruit or candy (mine being– chocolate covered strawberries…YUM!). I am here to reveal the benefits of chocolate—dark chocolate that is! However, chocolate is still rich in calories, sugar, and fat so MODERATION is key to prevent weight gain.

Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, as well as some magnesium. These nutrients may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke (focusing again on heart month) and help to lower your blood pressure.

Dark chocolate (containing 70% cacao or cocoa) is the most nutritious form of chocolate because it contains more than double the amount of heart-healthy flavonoids than milk chocolate. In addition, the added milk in the chocolate may decrease the body’s ability to absorb the heart healthy flavonoids. The best dark-chocolate varieties contain only one type of fat (cocoa butter) and do NOT contain added palm oil, coconut oil, or milk fat. Cocoa butter has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels, therefore it will not raise your cholesterol (specifically your LDL “bad cholesterol”) the way that saturated fat does.

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The holidays are a busy and fun time of year…  filled with parties, family gatherings and celebrations, delicious food, sweet and treats… and YES, more sweets!! (haha).

January is the most popular month for the majority of people to focus on improving their health, nutrition and fitness; which are often one of the top 10 “New Year’s Resolutions,” on most people’s lists.

Many people are aware of the fact that some of their habits are unhealthy and should be changed. They resolve to live a healthier life at the beginning of the New Year with resolutions that last all of a few weeks, before giving up. One of the main reasons that people give up too soon, is that they try to make extremely drastic changes in their lives, which are oftentimes too difficult to implement.  With Nutrition For Body And Mind, it is all about finding your life balance and setting small goals that are realistic and attainable to suite your lifestyle. Once you reach one goal, you can focus on your next, and so on and so forth. The key is to set your dreams high, but take baby steps to get there and stay focused! Make copies of your goal sheet to post on your refrigerator, bathroom cabinet, and to keep in your wallet as a “reminder” to keep you on track!

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“Tis’ the season… to be Jolly!”

The holidays are a time of joy and happiness to be spent with family, friends or your significant other. It is a time to enjoy some much needed R&R (rest and relaxation), reflect on all that you are thankful for and celebrate in the spirit of giving! With all of the holiday parties, shopping and gift wrapping, it can seem a bit chaotic, but you just need to take a step back and look at the big picture of what’s important to you. Your health should be at the top of your list, along with your family and loved ones.

Many people put their health on the “back burner” during this season. For example, by not getting enough sleep or exercise combined with eating unhealthy foods and letting your stress “take over” can do much more harm than you think. You will have a weakened immune system and be more at risk of getting sick (which no one wants during the holidays) when you do not get adequate nutrition. You will be less efficient and energized when you do not get enough rest or physical activity. Lastly, you will feel like your life is “spinning out of control” if you don’t have a grip on your stress. So, I am here to help you find your life balance with Nutrition For Body And Mind!

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Sweets and treats are the center of many festivities and parties during the holidays!

You might get a box of See’s chocolates from a friend or homemade baked brownies or cookies from your dearest neighbor. In the spirit of Christmas, one of the most popular is the Christmas cookie exchange! I am here to give you a few fun cookie recipes that can be healthy and delicious at the same time!

Below are a few healthy cookie recipes with 100 calories or less to prepare for the holiday or your cookie exchange! YUM…Enjoy!!

1.) Holiday Cookie Cutouts

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup low-fat firm silken tofu, (see Ingredient note)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon-Sugar Topping or Decorator Icing

Preparation:

  1. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Puree tofu in a food processor. Add egg, sugar, oil, butter and vanilla; process until smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Add the dry ingredients and pulse several times just until dough clumps together.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead several times. Divide in half and press each piece into a disk. Dust disks with flour and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.
  5. Working with one piece at a time, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough slightly less than 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Gather scraps and re-roll. Place cookies about 1/2-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. If using Cinnamon-Sugar Topping, add it now.
  6. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until light golden around the edges, 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  7. If using Decorator Icing, decorate cookies as desired. Let stand until frosting has set, 30 to 45 minutes.

Nutrition: Per cookie (undecorated): 67 calories; 2 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 6 mg cholestel; 11 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 0 g fiber; 25 mg sodium; 23 mg potassium.

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How was the feast?? I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday this year and enjoyed some time with your family and friends. I have put together a few ideas on some tasty Thanksgiving leftover concoctions that you can make at home…

  • Deli Style Turkey Cranberry Sandwich: choose 2 slices of bread (preferably whole grain or with >3 grams of fiber per serving). Spread a light, softened cream cheese of one side of the bread. Spread cranberry sauce on the other side of the bread. Fill your sandwich with shaved turkey slices, lettuce, sprouts, cucumbers, tomato slices and red onion. YUM!
  • Hot Turkey Sandwich: Arrange two slices of lightly toasted whole grain bread with a touch of olive oil (open face) with sliced turkey breast. Heat gravy in a small saucepan and spread over the top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce if desired for additional flavor.
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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I know people start to salivate by just the thought of all the tasty treats this holiday has to offer! I’m sure you thought the same thing just looking at this plate of food on my blog. This year, lets make it a goal to “enjoy the feast, without turning into a beast!”

Portion control is the biggest problem on this holiday. Many people skip breakfast and “fast” all day, so that they will be sooo hungry for the Turkey feast and much more likely to overeat later. When I say, “overeat,” I mean eating the equivalent of 3-4 meals in one sitting. This is the wrong approach and let me tell you why…

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