Category Archives for "a dose of dean"

Yes, You can Eat Good at the Holidays

Christmas is a busy time of year. Don’t let it be an excuse to not eat healthy meals prepared at home. My favorite kitchen aid is my crock pot. It serves up delicious meals without a lot of fuss. Plus it makes the house smell good all day while it cooks. Here are three meals when served with a salad will keep you on track nutritionally.

Salsa Style Pork

  • 1 pound pork loin, cut into one inch cubes
  • 1- 20 ounce jar of salsa
  • 1- 4 ounce jar of diced green chilies, drained
  • 1- 15 ounce can of black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Combine pork loin, salsa, chilies, and black beans in crock pot and mix well. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low. Sprinkle cheese and cilantro over top and serve.

Herbed Turkey Breast

  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1- 4 pound boneless turkey breast
  • 1- 14 ounce can of chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place vegetables in the bottom of the crock pot. Top with turkey breast. Combine seasonings and chicken broth. Pour over the top. Cover and cook on low heat for 5-7 hours.

Sirloin Tip Roast with Horseradish

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼pound boneless beef sirloin tip roast, cut in half
  • ½ cup beef broth

Combine seasonings. Spread over roast halves. Place in slow cooker. Add broth. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Remove from cooker. Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing diagonally across the grain. Scoop juices from crock pot into gravy dish. Serve with horseradish if desired.

Enjoy,

Coach Nancy

Is it a good idea to exercise when sick? [Infographic]

​Good idea?  Bad idea? Can exercise actually help boost our immune system, even when we are sick?

​by Dean Carlson, Pn2


​It's not an uncommon question:

"Should I exercise when I am sick?"

Well, as with many things, it depends.

​If you are laid out in bed with the flu, the answer is obvious. But what about certain stages of a cold? While we don't want to share that joy with others, can getting some movement in be helpful?

Our friend at Precision Nutrition produced this excellent guide for sorting it all out.​

Print out this infographic for some very specific guidelines on exercise, and how it affects your immune system before, during, and after an illness.

​Reading that infographic makes me feel better already!

Want to share these tips with your friends, family and co-workers (especially the washing your hands part)? Click here for a fully printable version of this infographic.

​Here's to staying healthy!


A Christmas Poem

If I were an elf, I’d make a machine,
the kind that would make you fit, trim and lean.

It would make you have legs – strong, steady and stable,
Is such a machine just a fairy tale fable?

Your arms would be strong, no flab to be found.
Able to carry two zillion thousands of pounds.

You’d run, jump and leap – like when you were a child.
Wouldn’t such a machine be pretty darn wild?

It wouldn’t have gears, motors, whistles, or rings
Cause’ the machine I would build needs none of those things.

The machine I’d create would be made up of levers
That lift HEAVY things – wouldn’t that be real clever?

That awesome machine would twist, bend and reach
And hundreds of skills this machine you could teach

And where might you ask can such a contraption be found?
Well open your eyes and look all around!

The machine which I’d build is already done
And possessed by you all – yes each – every one!

Though different in shape, there’s none designed shoddy
The machine I would build is your very own body!

A Christmas Original by Coach Dean

Eating Tips Just Right for This Time of Year

My Father in Law has a slick sense of humor. It's like he waits for the perfect opportunity and then ZING lets you have it. When he told me he had some tips to help him eat better at Christmas I knew I was in for a treat.

So From our house to yours, Enjoy:

  • Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a Christmas buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit.. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
  • Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
  • If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
  • As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
  • Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
  • Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
  • If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.


  • Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
  • Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards. Unless it’s been soaked in rum for a year. (My mother’s recipe)

One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Thank you again Dad.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Coach Nancy

What should I eat when I am sick? [Infographic]


​Are there foods that help me fight bugs faster, or help me from getting sick at all? Let's find out!

​by ​Dean Carlson, Pn2


​It's true. What you eat can have a direct impact on how quickly you recover from a cold, flu or other yucky thing that can bring us down and make us feel like doing, well, nothing!

It all has to do with your gut health. What happens in your digestive tract plays a huge role in how well you can fight off germs, or whether you come down with something at all.

​This infographic has some great tips for boosting your immune system, as well as helping you feel better faster.

​The take home? Take care of your gut, and it will take care of you! 🙂

You wouldn't want to keep this great info to yourself, especially when the men you know get sick (yes, we are babies). Download a printable copy of this infographic to share, it's the nice thing to do!

Calories count, but counting calories? Part 2 [Infographic]

Part ​2: Calories ​Out

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


​In Part 1, we talked about how "calorie math" doesn't always add up. This article looks at why accurate counting can be so complicated, and gives 4 reasons why daily activity tracking and trying to count the calories we burn on a daily basis isn't as straightforward as it seems.


​It's a question I get asked a lot by clients in our gyms. "How many calories does an average workout burn?" 

​The reason for the query is they want to plug my answer into fitness tracker software, in order to calculate how many calories they are burning daily, and thus how many calories they should be eating.

If it were only that easy. There are SO many factors that go into determining energy expenditure accurately, and unless you are measuring factors such as carbon dioxide output for the duration of training, you just aren't going to get a reliable number.

​ In my experience, most of the clients that try to track calories eventually get tired of doing so, or frustrated because it's not "working".

​Fortunately you don't HAVE to measure calories in and out all the time, if at all. The infographic below tells you ​some of the challenges with counting calories, as well as an alternative method to energy balance that you carry with you all the time. Simple!

Download your own printer and tablet version friendly copy of the infographic to pass around or keep for reference.

​Ever wonder why you track so carefully but you STILL can't lose weight? No matter how good fitness trackers are, they can't compete with reality. The most important measurement is the outcome you are getting from your current plan. If the results you are getting are moving you in the direction of your goals, stick with it. If not, it's time to do something different.

​Want more nutrition know-how?

​As I am sure I don't have to remind you, nailing our nutrition down is not as easy as "experts on the interweb" want you to think.

At The Grateful Plate, we work closely with our coaching c​lients to help them understand what is holding them back, and guiding them to building great eating skills and the habits to get lean, once and for all. When you are ready to take the next step, please reach out and let's talk.

Handling the Holidays – At the Office

It's not the food that makes the holidays, it's the memories you make.

And those calories are coming from everywhere! But no where seems worse than the place we spend the majority of our day. The office.

There's clients, reps, patients, and business associates who send or bring in all sorts of goodies.

There's the staff office parties which typically means a catered lunch or... ten, depending on where you work.

And then there's your co-workers. The overachievers who want to show off all of their superb culinary skills by bringing everyone in the office high-calorie, delicious homemade goodness. And insist on watching you try "just one."

Add to all of that, the end of year work related stress that leaves you short-fused, and sleep deprived and you are primed for a sugar-laden calorie bomb before noon! Here's my top tips for handling this:

  1. Recognize that just because food is there, doesn't mean you have to eat it. Are you eating because you're hungry? Or because you're bored and you CAN? Before you indulge in anything at the office, take a moment and think about why you are eating. If it's a one of kind treat, offered only once a year, than maybe it's worth the calories. If it's something you could get again tomorrow, why bother?
  2. TAKE the time to prepare and bring your lunch every single day from now until the holiday craziness has passed. And not just any old lunch - think of some of your favorite, clean lunches and bring those, so you won't be tempted by the trays and trays of sub sandwiches in the break room. Pack snacks too. Things that are easy and portable are string cheese, raw nuts, fresh fruit. Always aim to eat some lean protein and fiber so you will stay full for a longer period of time.
  3. Handle the food-pushers assertively. When they offer you tempting goodies, look them directly in the eye and say "It looks wonderful and I'm sure it tastes fabulous, but I am (insert one of the following: full, limiting how many sweets I am eating this year, cutting back on in between meal snacks, etc). The key is to be appreciative, but also direct. If they persist, again, look them directly in the eye, and say, " Honestly, first name, I'm _______(repeat your rationale). Leave it at that.
  4. Lastly, the most simple and direct tip I can give you. Avoid the food. Don't hang out where food is stored or sitting out. You'll constantly have to tell yourself "no" and repeating "no" over and over doesn't actually increase your conviction, it weakens it. It's like exposure to a cold or illness. The greater (more frequent) the exposure, the greater the chance you will catch the bug and give in.

Do you need a make over to a Thanksgiving Favorite? 

Sweet Sweet Potato Casserole

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple, don’t drained

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square broiler-safe baking dish with coconut oil. Whisk whole eggs, cinnamon, oil, coconut milk, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Add the sweet potato; whisk until smooth. Stir in pineapple and its juice. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake the casserole until heated through and the edges are bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Set aside while you make the topping.


As the “biggest eating holiday” in the US, it’s an important time to maybe pull the reins back a bit.

Now, I’m not here to say live off celery and tofu for Thanksgiving.

But what about setting up a little challenge with yourself.

  • Skip the seconds on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Go to buffet line only once during the main course and once for the dessert line.
  • How about just one glass of that something something instead of a few?
  • Take a walk right after the meal instead of hitting the couch. 

Deal?

Most importantly, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy

If you still need some help to Handle the Holidays at Home check this out. 

Handling the Holidays- At Home

Sticking with our Handling the Holidays theme... I’m back at it with today’s topic: Too many calories.

I’ve heard more than one person complain of all the sweets and baked goods that are around this time of year.

And unless you plan on checking yourself into a spa for the next two weeks, it's hard to avoid. There's the food YOU make at home (for your family or other people), the food that people give TO YOU, and the food that's brought into the office.

And that's not counting office parties and holiday parties that take place in the last 2 weeks of the year, either.

What's a goal-oriented clean eater to do?

Since there's so much to discuss on this one, I'm breaking it down into separate newsletters.

Today we tackle the home environment.

  • Tip #1. Instead of baking cookies for others, consider other baked goods that you can give as WHOLE THINGS. For example, banana bread, pies, cakes. Most of these are less time-consuming to make than individual cookies, and you won't be tempted. I mean who's going to give a pie to someone with a piece cut out?
  • Tip#2. Consider GIVING away things other than baked goods. Fruit baskets are great choices and many people actually welcome them this time of year, when they've been inundated with other junk food. Make your own for a fraction of the price of store bought.
  • Tip#3. I know I'm going to get grief about that tip above. Too many of you have family and friends who EXPECT cookies and goodies at home and at the office. My best advice? Make healthier cookies. They will NEVER know.  Now remember, they aren't calorie free. But at least they will have fewer calories and better ingredients.
  • Tip#4. When you are baking at home, those little BLT's add up. Remember, BLT stands for Bite, Lick or Taste. Don't start cooking until after you've had a protein rich breakfast. My pick - veggie omelet with a side of turkey bacon, piece of fruit and 1/2 a sprouted grain english muffin. Your body will be busy digesting that breakfast for hours and you'll be less tempted to snack. If baking is an all day event, plan a decent lunch and take a break to eat. My pick would be a grilled veggie and hummus wrap with spinach and sliced avocado.
  • Tip#5. If you will be baking at home or you just have lots of goodies in the kitchen, brush and floss your teeth after every meal. A clean fresh mouth will make those treats less tempting. Consider chewing peppermint gum as well and if possible, avoid the kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Tip#6. Are you inundated with food related gifts from family and friends? I almost hate to say it, but re-gift. You can appreciate the thoughtfulness without having to "appreciate" it. Pass on the thoughtfulness to someone else.
  • Tip#7. What's your reason for NOT overindulging this season? If you don't have one, you need to come up with something that will make this a season that is defined by something other than the goodies you can indulge in. With no real reason for sticking to clean eating, you'll be much more likely to convince yourself a little bite here, and a little cookie there won't hurt.

The easiest place to control excess calories this holiday season is your own home. Watch what food you bring in, encourage company to take leftovers and goodies with them or give away what you can.

Remember it's not the food that makes the holidays, it's the memories you make.

To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy

P. S. Need Help Handling the Holidays with some great appetizers? Click here

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

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