Handling the Holidays- The Appetizers

We're kicking off our Thanksgiving suggestions very fittingly -- with the dish people think of first, appetizers.

As if Thanksgiving doesn't have enough calories associated with the dinner alone, we always start it off with hors d'oeuvres or what my friend’s toddler calls, HAPPYtizers.

Now these can play a critical role, especially if there are hours between when your guests first arrive and when the REAL meal is served. But the calories can also quickly add up, particularly if you are snacking mindlessly.

So here are my strategies for handling appetizers, food and drink that is tempting, and that will be around for a good bit pre-meal. Note: these strategies are good for later that evening with dinner and dessert as well.

  • Survey your options before eating. Eye everything down first without a plate and determine what you will eat.
  • Skip any food that you can get anytime. A bowl full of M&M's? Who needs them? Not when you can drive past any gas station later that evening and pick some up (That is if you decide your Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without them. And I’m betting that won't happen.)
  • Fill up on low-calorie options like veggies (watch the dip) or salads (careful on the dressing). Then, look at the entire selection and determine what you'd REALLY like to enjoy. Allow yourself to have some of that -- enjoy it and move on.
  • Don't hang out next to food. C'mon that's just asking for trouble. Once you've enjoyed some appetizers, put your plate away and situate yourself away from the food.
  • Bring your own HAPPYtizers if you're a guest (ones that won't wreck your diet) and if you are hosting, fool the crowd with some of these lower calorie/lower fat options that AREN'T low on taste!

 Stuffed Mushrooms

1 small white onion

4 portabella mushrooms

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, fine diced

1 pinch nutmeg

1 pinch black pepper

1/2 cup sherry

¼ cup Vegetable stock

1 cup feta cheese

parmesan cheese

Chop onion with 1/8 dice, remove ribbing in mushrooms, cut ribbing and stems of mushrooms. Add oil to a sauté pan. Sauté onions, diced mushrooms and nutmeg through veggie stock, then add garlic until aromatic. Add the feta cheese and stir to combine. Stuff mushrooms with mixture, sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cut each portabella mushroom into quarters to serve.

Antipasto Sausage Skewers

12 ounces fully cooked Italian-style poultry sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil

1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces if large

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage; cook, turning 2 or 3 times, until warmed through and browned, about 8 minutes. Thread 1 small or 1/2 large basil leaf onto a small wooden skewer. Add a piece of roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato, artichoke and sausage, arranging them on the skewer so that it can stand up on the sausage end. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make about two-dozen skewers.

Green Goddess Dip (great with veggies) 

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and peeled

2 scallions, green and white parts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup fresh tarragon

1/4 cup fresh parsley

3 Tablespoons white vinegar

3/4 cup buttermilk

Salt

Vegetable sticks, for dipping

Place the avocado, scallions, tarragon, parsley, vinegar, buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender; puree until smooth.


Enjoy your Holidays. 

To your Best Health,

Coach Nancy

P.S. If you need some help handling the holiday stress click here!


Handling the Holidays – The Stress

On Thanksgiving, do you eat and eat and eat and eat, because it is there? Do you leave the meal feeling stuffed and guilty for overindulging again?

Or

On Thanksgiving, do you feel deprived, hungry, pick at only a few food items, watch as everyone else gets to eat what they want? Are these your only options?

This Thanksgiving, put a plan in place. Enjoy the special meal, choose small portions of those food items that aren’t typically on your menu plan. Don’t go at it with a buffet line mentality, but as someone with a treasured meal mentality that allows you to look forward to a meal that has finally arrived.

With the holidays here in full effect, I thought I’d cover some common struggles over the next few weeks we all face during this time of year.

And that leads me to our first one. LACK OF SLEEP.

It's true when we're rushing to fit it all in, sleep is the very first to go. We stay up later than we should knowing that we "just need to get through the next couple of days...week or month." And yet, even though we may finish a project or task by staying up later, that sleep decrement bleeds into the next day. Lack of sleep is more than just self-imposed 'punishment' for not being able to get everything done.

It can lead to weight gain, difficulty concentrating, and can flat out ruin your holidays.

So if you're already putting sleep on the back burner to start crossing things off your holiday to-do list, take a moment and consider what really needs to get done.

Ask yourself, what do you want to create the most this holiday season? Instead of telling yourself you need to have a perfectly decorated house, home made goodies for every acquaintance you can possibly think of, the ideal Christmas present for everyone on your list, in addition to being perfectly dressed, coiffed and manicured, maybe you pick a 'theme' for the season.

Focus on ONE thing and let go or delegate the rest. I know it sounds easier said than done...but how many years have you tried to pack everything in and watched the month vanish at a blink of an eye....with no real meaningful memories in it's place?

Here are just a few trade-offs to consider so that you may go to bed earlier each night.

  • Purchase gift cards instead of presents for people on your list. Easy one stop shopping and little gift wrapping involved. Plus, as a friend always says - it's 2 gifts in one...now you have a reason to go shopping too!
  • Hire someone to clean your house.
  • Pick one or two key rooms to decorate and let go of the rest.
  • Shop at stores that offer gift wrapping with purchase.
  • Having a party? Have it catered and/or hire a bartender and enjoy the opportunity to visit with family and friends rather than spending your time in the kitchen.
  • Shop online.

And yes, I know, sometimes you DO NEED to stay up later than you'd like. Here's your recipe for the next day.

Take a nap if you can. 15-20 minutes. No more or else you'll end up creating a cycle that could make falling to sleep at night harder.

Lay off the caffeine. I know, sounds like it's impossible...but it's not. Suffer through the sleep deprivation for the day, and sleep more soundly the next night.

Don't skip your workouts. The exercise will help to make you feel energized. At the least, get outside for a quick 15-20 minute walk in the brisk air. Invigorating.

Bottom line, ask yourself is staying up late to do whatever you need to do, really worth it? Are these expectations you have of yourself necessary or even important to you? If not, it's time to let go.

To your Best Health (and next time),

Coach Nancy

Calories count, but counting calories? Part 1 [Infographic]

Part 1: Calories In

Compiled by Dean Carlson, Pn2. Infographic created by John Berardi Ph.D. and Helen Kollias Ph.D.


Most of us go down the "calorie counting" path at least once in our efforts to lose weight. After all, everybody knows "calories in - calories out" is the key to weight loss success, right? But is it that simple? This article and accompanying infographic outlines 5 reasons why all those food calculators may not be as helpful as we thought.


Actually the principle of energy balance does work:

Take in more calories/energy than you burn, you gain weight. Take in fewer calories/energy than you expend and you will lost weight.

It's not the principle that is flawed, it's the counting that is so hard to actually do correctly and accurately enough to make it worth while. 

There are so many factors working against you, on both ends of the energy equation - in and out.  Part 1 highlights the problems with "calories in".

Download your own printer friendly copy of the infographic right here.

25% Margin of Error?

That would make a very significant difference when trying to figure out while all those calories counting apps aren't really helping, wouldn't it?

Now I am not saying you have to never track your calories, but here are my recommendations if you do.

Understand the limitations of the methodology. If you are not seeing the results you expect, take another look at the infographic for potential reasons why. The important thing is results, not the actual number of calories the tracker says you are eating. If you are working on losing body fat, and it ain't happening, it doesn't matter how many calories the tracker says you are eating, you need to eat less.

There are times that I track calories, usually as a "sanity check". In other words I am not seeing the results I want, and when I track for a couple weeks it is easy to see why. I am usually eating a lot more food or a lot more times than I think I am. But even I don't want to reduce the enjoyment of eating to a math problem all the time. That's just no fun!

There is a better way, and it doesn't involve calculators and fitness apps. It's portable, reusable, and effective. It's the Calorie Control Cheat Sheet.

Stayed tuned for Part 2: Calories Out, coming up in a couple weeks!

The untapped fat loss secret: Sleep [Infographic]


by Dean Carlson, Pn2


You are exercising regularly, your nutrition habits are improving, but you STILL aren't making the progress you think you should be. So frustrating! Here's a question that might clue us in. How is your sleep? If you aren't sleeping well or enough, we might be on to something. Here's how to tap into the power of sleep and make rest a top priority.

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Struggling with fat loss? Just not feeling it, during workouts or in general? Sluggish and tired more than you think you should be? Unfortunately for many of us this is very common, and poor nutrition is not always to blame.

Good quality sleep is really important. Our ability to think clearly, make good decisions, perform at a high level, and even digest our food efficiently depends on it.

It probably won't surprise you that fewer than 1 in 3 adults get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, which is the minimum needed to keep your risk of health problems low.

The sad part of that statistic is how many of us actually overestimate how much sleep we are really getting; studies have shown that number to be in the millions.

This infographic shows you how to monitor if you are getting enough rest before it's too late. Follow the tips to build your sleep habit, which actually starts first thing in the morning!

Download the infographic for your tablet or to print out, and keep it as a hand reminder to prioritize your best sleep, every day.

There you have it! Why sleep is so important, how to tell if you are not getting enough, and how to set yourself up for sleep success!

Print out or download this infographic as a reminder to practice, practice, practice the skill of getting enough sleep. And be kind - share it with a friend who might benefit from it. Thanks!

The real cost of getting and staying lean [Infographic]


Is It Worth The Trade-Off? It's Your Choice.

by Dean Carlson, Pn2


We have a picture in our head of the "ideal body". But are the pictures in the magazines a realistic picture of what is achievable? Do you have to look like superman or a supermodel to be healthy? And at what cost?

Regardless of your goals, there is going to be work - hard work - to lose fat and get leaner. And there are amazing health benefits to doing do. But there are trade-offs, particularly as you get leaner and leaner. This infographic outlines them and shows you what's involved. We'll take a look at the extremes on both sides, and then have you consider what's healthy and achievable.

Click Here for a fully printable version of this Infographic.

For a complete explanation of the infographic, including a review of the research by our friends at Precision Nutrition, check out the accompanying article: The cost of getting lean: Is it really worth the trade off?

Shut the Negative Out

"I can't lose weight."

"I can't find the time to plan my meals."

"I can't find the energy to get to training."

Our minds are powerful. Your internal dialog sets the tone for what you believe is true about yourself. If you keep telling yourself “I can’t lose any pounds off the scale” or “I can’t find the motivation” then you WON’T! You need to start BELIEVING you CAN!!! Can’t is a four letter word that we want to banish from our internal self.​

Somewhere between being perfect and giving up, there’s BETTER.

Many of us strive for perfection, especially on the journey of weight loss. When things don’t go as planned you might say “Forget it, I will start again tomorrow” and tomorrow turns into Monday and so on. Then that voice inside your head might tell you, you failed again so why bother trying any more. You need to SILENCE that voice and get back on track! Every day (even every minute) is an opportunity to get better and closer to our goals!

We must choose to be positive and shut the negative out! There is so much negative going on in the world it is hard not to be brought down by it. Be grateful. Write down something positive about each day and see the difference it makes. Small shifts like this can make a big difference in yourself. I wouldn’t doubt that soon gratitude will be overflowing to others.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Cauliflower and Sausage Hash

We're continuing with my favorite cauliflower recipes! This one can be a side dish for any meal, or you can add a few eggs to it and make it your breakfast.

  • Ground sausage, browned
  • 3/4 lb. cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, fried (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the sausage in a skillet over a medium-high heat until crispy (about 10 minutes). Remove from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, add the cauliflower, garlic, and onion. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until it starts to golden. Add the smoked paprika and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the water. Cover the skillet and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes. Return the sausage to the skillet. Add the lemon juice and cook for another 2 minutes; then remove from the heat and sprinkle fresh parsley on top. Serve with eggs, or as a side for any meal.

A Work in Progress

Today is THE day.

Have you been perfect? No? Well, that's a GOOD thing!

Because we are looking for progress, not perfection.​

Coach Vince Gabriel put it this way, “When you get half-way up the mountain you can look at how far you have to go or you can focus on how far you have come.”

We humans can be such difficult creatures to get along with.

“I only lost 2 pounds of fat last month!!!” and frustration sets it.

I bet if you lose 24 pounds of fat this year you would be pretty happy about it though. You will need a whole new wardrobe, and you know how much you love to shop.

You can’t lose the 24 without losing the 2.

So stop trying to be perfect all the time and be happy when you take that next step, when you make just a little more progress.

Progress might look like:

  • I went shopping for the week
  • I ate vegetables this morning 
  • My meal plan is done…for today
  • I only had two cookies last night 
  • I walked a different route so I wouldn’t be tempted to snatch candy from the office jar
  • I did something good for myself today

Progress, not perfection.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy​

Time Outs Have Rules, Too

One of the best ways to relieve stress is to give yourself a time out. As a parent, I have often taken a few deep breaths before talking to my child about a situation that has emotions high. When my kids were little I would help them to calm down and ‘think’ about an issue by having them sit in a time out. That small amount of time gave them a chance to avoid more aggravation by taking time just to be alone. Time outs are valuable for adults too.

5 reasons why adults should have timeouts:

  1. Stress. Being an adult is tough work. While we might want to do one thing, we realize we have obligations and other people who are relying on us. Daily pressures add up to a mountain of stress.
  2. Sleep. If only we could take our own advice and get to bed when we need it, it seems like there is always one more thing we have to do. Then on top of that, we don’t sleep like soundly like we once did.
  3. Work. This might be the cause of our stress but often it just adds to the stress we place on ourselves.
  4. Nutrition. I don’t know about you but there is always room for improvement when it comes to my eating. I get a bit anxious when I think about the possibilities I could have if only I could eat better.
  5. Physical training. While this is fantastically wonderful for you, training is self imposed stressed on our bodies. With proper sleep, great nutrition and plenty of water that stress is negated by all the goodness of training. But see above if you have any doubt there might be an issue.

Ahhh a time out, a place to gather focus. A time to energize and feel like a human again. A time out is a place to get better. As a child we had time outs in order to calm us, help us to regain focus, energize ourselves so we could rejoin the group. As grown ups we can gain all those benefits again.

Here is what you do for an adult time out:

  1. Lie flat on your back with a small pillow under your head to keep your spine in total alignment. Breath. Deep inhales with your exhale becoming like a relaxing sigh. Putting your thoughts into alignment with your breathing. Think about your breathing. Listen to the sound of the air traveling in and out. Notice what happens to your shoulders and your toes. This is not an opportunity to work out your next list of things to do or think about the meat you forgot to take out of the freezer.
  2. If taking time to lie down in the middle of your office floor is not a good idea to keep normal in other people’s mind, the next best place to do a 5 minute time out, at your desk with your head back on the head rest and eyes closed. Set a timer so you don't fall asleep. Again focus on your breathing. Notice and feel what how your body is responding. While in your time out, consider it your time.

Time outs are an effective way to manage your stress but also become a better version of you.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Cauliflower Rice

Here is another of my favorite cauliflower recipes! This is a great side dish that is super easy to make and will go great with any meal.

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, grated (I run it through a food processor)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large pan and start to sauté the grated cauliflower over medium heat. Add the chicken stock. Continue sautéing, stirring, until the cauliflower is al dente. Don’t cook it too long or it will turn to mush. I estimate this takes 5-7 minutes, but just taste it as you go and pull it off the heat when it’s done.

Stay tuned for more cauliflower recipes!

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