Category Archives for "Take Action"

Your Restaurant Cheat Sheet Is Here!

Let's face it. Life is getting busier and busier, and sometimes something has just gotta give.

For many that "something" is time in the kitchen, cooking and eating. Whether it's late nights at the office or running the kids all over creation, more and more the choice is "eating out".

One of the problems this creates less control of portion sizes, and the vast array of choices makes it oh-so-easy to eat way more than is helpful for our health and fitness goals. The fact that so often we are stressed and rushed when we are doing makes it even more likely our choices will be, let's say, less than optimal.

But first let's get some perspective.

If you go out to eat once or twice a month, or less, indulging in something you enjoy is not going to set you back for very long, if at all. There is some amazing food out there to taste, and I enjoy it as much as the next person.

But I know people who eat out two, three or more times a week, either out of necessity or choice. And travel is a whole 'nother animal, right? 

When that's the case, we need a strategy to navigate through all those big portion sizes and calorie traps. It's a losing battle to eat out without one.

And that's what the Restaurant Cheat Sheet is all about. 

Actually I think "Cheat Sheet" is selling it short, as this 53 Page e-book offers nutritional guidance and menu ordering tips for:

  • 6 Coffee Shops
  • 10 Fast-Food Restaurants
  • 20 Sit -Down and Casual Dining Restaurants
  • and even 10 client recommended favorites in and around the Concord, NH area!

Get yours for absolutely free below, and let me know how it has helped you.

Enjoy!

Eating Healthy – It’s Not Magic

My kids are totally into Harry Potter. He waves his wand and BAM, magic happens. It would be so nice if real life was like that. For change to occur in real life you have to put in the work.

You see habits don't have a way of changing with a snap of your fingers, do they? We are not going to magically stop doing the things we have been doing for years because a there is a big black hat that rolls around. Habits are formed one small step at a time. We talk about breaking habits, when what we should talk about is replacing habits.

  • How do we replace sleeping in with getting up and going to the gym?
  • How do replace eating drive-thru instead of having something at the crock pot at home?
  • How do we replace getting 6 hours of sleep a night with 7 or 8?

One teensy-weensy step at a time.

You and I don't have forever on this earth. We owe it to ourselves to make every day count. Monday is just as good a day to start as any other. In fact it's better, because it's today, and today is always the day to start.

So what one small step can you take today to get better?

Here's some suggestions for you.

  • You could try replacing one processed food with an unprocessed one.
  • You could add a new veggie to expand your repertoire.
  • You could stop eating at “80% full” instead of “100% full, but at least I didn’t have dessert!”.

Nobody is going to come busting down your door and making demands.

But we do want to know if we can help you start taking those small steps.

Don't wait for  next Monday or next January 1st 

One teensy-weensy step at a time!

​To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy

Top 5 Things To Do Differently THIS Year

1. Don’t Starve Yourself- I’m speaking mostly to women here but really why do we try this one? We know we can’t keep it up forever. We know when we take that first bite of something yummy we won’t stop eating until it is all gone.

Let’s be sensible. A eating plan should be something we can stick with for a lifetime. Jutta Matta, PhD at Stanford University in CA, said, “A diet plan shouldn’t be done just to fit into a pair of jeans; it’s a healthy habit to manage or ward off chronic illness. You need to think of it as something you can do all your life.”

She also says, “If you believe a diet is complicated, that things are hard to calculate, chances are good you’ll quit the program before reaching your goal.”

My suggestion is to stick to getting in protein, produce, and water every meal. Be creative, call it the PPW plan. Say it with me PPW- protein, produce, water!

2. Don’t Go It Alone- Find a partner, write out your goals and share them with others. Support groups like AA are successful not only for the advice, but the emotional help from others who are going through or have conquered their addiction. Support is vital to reaching your goals quicker. It is easy to cheat on your eating plan, or skip your training session if no one knows about your doing it.

3. Don’t Buy Before You Try- Our two week free tryout to Get Fit NH Smart Group Training is for your benefit as much as ours. So many people in January with high enthusiasm sign up for a year at the local gym and buy an online meal plan without testing it out first. Two weeks into the year, they realize they dislike the food choices and the hours the gym offers, don’t match with their schedule. Feeling frustrated, they stop going to the gym and head to their local grocery store to stock up on cookies and donuts.

4. Don’t Make It Complicated- Save your sanity! When thinking of getting healthy, seek out the experts. Researching the latest fitness gadget or buying a fitness video is not the same as having the hands on benefit of a personal coach in the room who knows you. Although we might do research on the internet if we think we have a problem, we wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) rely on the information there to treat and cure us, we visit our personal physician. The same is true for nutrition, although magazines can list out foods to ‘trim the tummy’, they can’t see you and your individual needs. You need a coach to help you know what choices are right for you.

5. Don’t Quit- Our motto is Make It Happen. We strive to instill this in our training sessions because it affects our mental and physical state. There will be days when life gets in the way and fitting it all in becomes hard. We have to fight through it. As a mom I can describe it like this: you walk into your house exhausted. Its trashed. You have company coming and you only want to go to bed. What do you do? You can grumble and complain, yell and scream, cry and pout; but in the end you pick yourself up and do what it takes to make it happen. The cleaning might not be the best cleaning you’ve ever done and dinner for company might include easy to prepare dishes but in the end you do what it takes. You work through it all. You make it happen.

Yes, there will be days when it is more of a mental game than physically doing what it takes to get food on the table. Guess what? By overcoming the mental the physical gets done. It’s a double win, since the physical gets done the mental side gets a prize, a boost, a high five of sorts.

The flip side is true as well. When the mental side looses and physical side loses too. They bring each other down one more notch. Its like they are scolding each other and they both walk away pouting.

Dig down deep and Make it Happen!

The coaches at The Grateful Plate are trained to help you.  Our program is unique. You can not buy it anywhere else. But the biggest difference is that we truly have a passion to change the world. We know that by helping you get healthier, health and wellness will spread to those closest to you. From there it fans out like a beautiful spider web. Together lets make 2017 your year for a better healthier you.

To your best health,

Coach Nancy

Clean Up The Clutter

Its January already? Yes, I know it is the second week but that is the thought that went through my mind at the beginning of the year. Is there any one else like that?

I thought so.

Christmas and New Years are filled with fun, family, outings, shopping, and parties. Its crazy busy and all of a sudden January steps in. For most people life slows down just a bit but not for me. January is one of our busiest times of the year. Knowing this, Dean and I had to simplify life. Our menu plan had to be simplified. We didn’t want meals to creep up that we were not prepared for. If we did that our health gets pushed to the side.

With all the busyness we made that area simple for us. Our goal? Simple meals that we've eaten before. Nothing fancy but meals we knew we could count on. Meals our family already enjoyed.

What in the world does that have to do with you?

Well……. Are you busy? Is your plate full driving here and there with the kids? Getting to work? A Social life? Adding in time for the love of your life? Business meetings in the evenings? Saturday sports for the kids?

3 Strategies I Use to Get My Meals On the Table In January​

  1. Plan One week of meals: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is going to take some planning and organization. Figure out which nights you will be home to cook dinner and which nights you need a quicker option (a go-to meal or something from the freezer). Then plan what you will make for dinner the nights you are home. Make sure you will have some leftovers for breakfast and lunch. Also make a plan for some breakfast and lunch options that are quick and easy. This will make creating your grocery list very simple. I then repeat my meal plan the next week. 

  2. Grocery Shop: Stock your fridge with lean proteins, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Fill your pantry with cooking staples such as (coconut oil, almond meal, and a variety of spices).

  3. Establish “Go-To Meals”: Pick 2-3 meals that can be prepared in about 15 minutes on those nights that you get home late and don’t feel like cooking. Our favorite is breakfast for dinner, and the recipe I make most often is Carlson Breakfast Hash. Use Your crock pot as much as possible. One of our favorite meals is Chicken Enchilada Soup.  My last tip/suggestion here is to cook several meals on the weekend and freeze some. 

Our Family Favorite to Make Each Week

Carlson Family Secret Meatball Recipe

Coconut oil

1.5 pounds ground beef (we use a mixture of venison and beef)

½ yellow onion, diced

1 egg, whisked

¼ cup almond flour

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onions. Cook until onions are translucent. In a large bowl, add ground beef, onions, egg, almond flour, and seasonings. Mix thoroughly using your hands. Roll into little bite-sized balls and place on a parchment paper lines baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the meatballs. Serve with the tomato sauce recipe from below.

Secret Tomato Sauce to go with the Secret Meatball Recipe

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme)

½ medium carrot, finely shredded

2 28-ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand

Salt

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 more minutes, until the carrot is soft. Add the tomatoes and juices from tomato cans and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt. The sauce can be refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for 6 months.

The end result of getting your meal planning done ahead of time?

You can relax knowing your plan is thought out in advance. You have planned your meals and therefore have a shopping list to be prepared for those meals. Your time frees up as you've taken the few minutes to plan and now it is time to execute the plan. You reap a multitude of benefits the whole day long knowing your meals are going to be less stressful, more organized.

To your best health,

Coach Nancy

7 Tips to Turn Resolutions Into Results

 January first is right around the corner. Resolutions are being made. 

But how do you keep the focus and resolve you have on January 1st through the whole year?

 Here are some helpful tips to keep you on track. Remember most of our New Year’s Resolutions were not something we can attain quickly but over time. Lets keep on fighting for our dreams.

1. Get quality sleep

You’ve heard us say it many times but sleep is important. Getting 6-8 solid hours of sleep is essential for your body to rejuvenate, replenish, and repair itself. Your body is doing a lot while you sleep. Beyond the health benefits, think how much happier, smoother, and relaxed your day goes when you wake up ready to tackle the activities of your day.

2. Surround yourself with people that encourage you.

Most people are hard on themselves to begin with. We blast ourselves for not being perfect. Perfection in our diet, looks, actions, talk, relationships, and work will not happen. We need to be our best but don’t beat yourself up for a failure; learn from it and move on. The last thing we need to do is spend time with people that are critical toward us or people that are always bleak and downhearted. Spend time with people who see you and value you for who you are. They are the ones who make you feel like you can accomplish anything.

3. Exercise regularly

Exercise raises your serotonin levels. You know, the stuff that make you just feel good! The physical challenges you overcome in your training will boost your confidence outside of the gym as well. Exercise sends you a message that you are worth the time and effort you make for yourself.

4. Eat a clean healthy diet

Eating clean healthy food is another way of sending a message to yourself that you are worth it. You are worth the best foods, the time to plan your meals and prepare them. Avoid processed foods. Focus on foods fresh fruits and vegetables and a variety of protein. Remember a healthy diet keeps your hormones in balance, which helps activate the cycle of a happier, healthier you.

5. Finish what you Started

Something motivated you to start each and every action you do each day. A boss can motivate you to be on time each day to work, and your paycheck can be a motivation for you to show up to work at all. There are also motivations to do laundry, plan meals, and make training each time you are scheduled. Once you start something you will soon find there are often obstacles that get in our way. Laundry might be put on hold while dealing with a sibling dispute, dinner might be late on the table because an unexpected phone call interrupted your prep time. Each time you overcome an obstacle and succeed by finishing your task it adds to your sense of accomplishment. Taking the obstacles seriously will enable you to focus on it and then get back to your plan. It is a great feeling to start something and cross it off your daily list. It is even a bigger boost to cross things off your weekly or monthly to do list.

6. Eliminate “Can’t” and “But” from your vocabulary

Those obstacles that get in your way when working toward a goal will come. How we handle those obstacles define our success. When we start allowing those obstacles and life to get in our way we often start making excuses. You’ll start off by saying “ I can’t get the laundry done today because the kid were acting up.” “I didn’t eat to support my goals but I didn't eat the whole cake.” Those words are self-defeating. Turn those two little words into possibilities. You can do anything you truly set your mind to.

7. Focus on your strengths

All of us were created differently with special talents and abilities. They define us, they give us character and personality. We all have something we are really good at. Focus on those things. I’m not saying we shouldn’t stretch our selves in our weaker areas but comparing ourselves to others is unfair. You are unique. Enjoy that part of you that makes you special.

While we write our goals down on January 1st many of us will dream those dreams for a long time. The dream to be better/change is worth the fight. You have already encountered some challenges. When we look back over the first half of the year; our goals and dreams will still be blossoming and growing. Don't be in it for the sprint but for the marathon.

To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy

10 Holiday Strategies to Save You From Stretchy Pants

Nobody likes to be left out of the holiday fun, including all those holiday parties. Here’s some pointers that will allow you to be social and enjoy yourself without splitting your pants before the New Year:

1.) Train With High-Intensity Activity Before and/or After a Big Meal or Holiday Feast

I know, I know, tell it to the judge. I promised strategies, but I simply cannot go without recommending some activity. Your body is most receptive to higher carbs within 30 minutes before and within three hours following an intense workout. Ideally you would want to workout out before AND after a big meal, but if you can only do one, that will suffice. Don’t obsess over it – Even a 20-30 plus minute walk a few hours afterwards can help a little bit..

2.) Do NOT save up your calories for your Holiday Feast

Eat as you normally would on a good nutrition plan – At each meal, get in your protein and veggies. If you go into that huge meal in a fasted state, you are going to overeat, and because you are so hungry, your body will be craving all the high sugar and fat foods! You are just setting yourself up for a sugar crash and fat gain.

3.) Do NOT Gorge Yourself

Maintain your discipline, and eat until you are satisfied, not until you have to loosen your belt. Remember this: binge eating is not the habit of lean individuals. It is imperative to understand that that holiday meals are not a ticket to eat as much as you can in as little time as possible. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.

4.) Eat Healthy Fats and a Protein-Rich Meal An Hour Before the Big Party

This is another great way to help you from stuffing your face with sugar cookies. Healthy fats and protein are a powerful combination in helping you be full and satisfied. A great strategy is to have a protein shake adding in 2 Tablespoons of flaxseed. Nutritious, delicious, easy to prepare and it won’t go from your mouth to your hips.

5.) First Things First – Eat Your Vegetables

Just because it’s a holiday meal doesn’t mean you can’t eat any nutritious food. Head for the vegetable and meat tray and get something good in you. This will leave less room for the unhealthier, higher calorie treats.

6.) Water, Water, Everywhere

Water competes for space in your stomach and really does help keep you from overeating. For every plate of food you eat, drink a glass of water. After that second plate, when you have 1 full liter of water in your stomach, I bet you might just throw in the towel!

7.) Immediately Resume Your Normal Eating Schedule at the Next Meal

Ok, you had your fun, and what’s done is done. It’s time to get right back on the wagon, and back to normal, healthy eating habits. Don’t let one meal become one week and then turn into a month.

8.) Don’t Eat Junk Food at Breakfast or Bedtime

Eating a highly refined carbohydrate meal first thing in the morning will make your blood sugar levels go crazy for the rest of the day resulting in greater junk food cravings and uncontrollable hunger. On the other hand, eating a big meal before bed will result in a bunch of unused energy that will be stored as body fat and can cause trouble sleeping.

9.) Don’t Drink Your Calories

It is way too easy to get way too many calories in liquid form. One can easily consume over 1,000 calories per day from liquid calories alone. This means that in one week, you will gain 2 lbs of body fat from just fluids! Those holiday lattes ARE yummy, but the extra fat attached to your backside not so much! Also, sugar laden and alcoholic beverages tend to make you hungrier in general and often hungrier for junk food in particular. Furthermore, your body cannot burn fat until the alcohol is processed out of your body. It could be setting you back anywhere from a few days to as long as a full week!

10.) Avoid Eating Meals that are High in Carbohydrates Alone

The absolute worst thing that you can do is to eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates without balancing it out with some protein and healthy fats.  The high amount of carbs will lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels , which increases the potent fat-storing hormone Insulin. Good for a Sumo wrestler, bad for you.

Following the strategies outlined above will keep those stretchy pants at bay this holiday.

Don’t give into the mindset that holiday fat gain has to happen. Following these simple strategies will help you enter the new year better than ever!

To Your Best Health,

Nancy

Biggest Holiday Survival Tip

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

 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 and manicured, maybe it's time for a time out. 

A time out to 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 to get you into 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.
  • Shop at stores that offer gift wrapping with purchase.
  • Pick one or two key rooms to decorate and let go of the rest. ​
  • Having a party? Have it catered or make it a Potluck party. Now you'll have time to 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.

1.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.

2. 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.

3. Drink plenty of water and focus on protein and veggies. Avoid simple carbohydrates like processed foods such as cookies, cakes, candy, crackers, etc which is what your body will be craving.

4. Don't skip your time in the gym. The exercise will help to make you feel energized. 

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,

Coach Nancy​

Survive the Holiday Treats

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

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 an institution 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?

Today we tackle the home environment.

5 Tips  (Plus a bonus tip) Conquer Holiday Treats and Sweets

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?

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. I opt for making my own for a fraction of the price of store bought.

3. 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 meal. If you are baking after breakfast I suggest eating The Carlson Family Breakfast Hash . 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 Veggie Pad Thai Chicken. 

4. 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. Avoid the kitchen when you are bored or craving a little something. Out of sight, out of mind.

5. 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.

Bonus TIp. 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.

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

To your best health,

Coach Nancy

How to Survive the Office During the Holidays

Calories, calories, calories everywhere! But no where seems worse than the place we spend the majority of our day. The office.

 From Thanksgiving to Christmas its an endless stream of treats and goodies. Clients, reps, patients, students, co- workers and business associates send or bring in all sorts of temptations.

Staff parties, get togethers after work, the annual Christmas party, and giving home baked goodies or items from a specialty shop all mean more food. Food that might not be on your Top Ten healthy list. 

If you are like most, your co-workers might be the biggest culprits. 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.

5 Tips to Avoid a Food Disaster in the Office

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? 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, veggie sticks, beef jerky, and fresh fruit. Always aim to eat some lean protein, some healthy fats, 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, already had my lunch, limiting how many sweets I am eating this year, going to be eating in an hour and I'll have a little piece then, 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, " Thank you, first name, I appreciate the time and love you put into _______ BUT (repeat your rationale)." Leave it at that. It show them you care but you have put up some boundaries.

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.

5. Ask a few of your co- workers or Organize  a workplace lunch walk or other activity. What a great way to destress the office, get a bit of fresh air, and get those joints moving. On top of that it builds friendships without relying on food as the tool to bring you closer.   ​

Avoiding a disaster might not mean that you are perfect at all these tips all the time. But taking one or two of them and putting them into practice might help you keep the disaster at bay.

To your Health,

Coach Nancy

Holiday Survival Tips – Appetizers

Okay, now let's talk food. 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 appetizers. 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.

5 Tips when It comes to Appetizers

1.Survey your options before eating. Eye everything down first without a plate and determine what you will eat.

2. 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.) 

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Bring your own HAPPYtizers if you're a guest (ones that won't wreck your diet) and if you are hosting, keep the crowd happy with some of these options that AREN'T low on taste!

I'm a people person. One thing I love to do is to make people smile. These two recipes are sure to bring smiles to you and your guests.

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

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

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

​12 ounces fully cooked Italian- style sausage, cut in one inch pieces

1/2 cup ​Lightly packed fresh Basil leaves

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.

1 2 3 7