Category Archives: Holidays

Four simple food swaps that are easier than a menu makeover

Image result for healthy foodDiets don’t work. Repeat: Diets don’t work.

When you follow crazy fads or try to impose crazy restrictions on your food, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. And be honest – you know that’s true! Otherwise, you’d have stuck with the grapefruit diet or you’d still be eating cabbage soup.

But you know what else is equally as daunting? Immediately changing your entire diet to a healthier one.

So rather than going full-on low-carb or hopping into the Whole 30 method, a much more manageable approach is to start slow and swap. This way, you don’t lose any of your favorite foods, and you’ll be far more likely to make even more swaps as you get the hang of things.

Here’s our list of the simplest swaps to make for the new year.

Swap 1: Whole Grain for White

You don’t have to drop the gluten in order to be healthy, but you can change out your nutrition-free white bread for a heartier, whole-grain version and still enjoy your carbs.

“Whole-grain bread provides more essential nutrients and more health benefits than white bread because it is less refined and still contains the nutrient-rich bran and germ, both of which are removed when making white flour,” says Live Strong.

You’ll adjust to the flavor quicker than you think, and still be able to enjoy sandwiches and toast like always.

And there are so many versions of whole grain bread that have things like flax seed and sprouted wheat that add even more nutritional value to your diet.

Swap 2: Veggies for Chips

This might sound ridiculous – replacing your usual tortilla chips or crackers for cut veggies – but we promise, it works.

Chips and crackers can add a ton of sodium and saturated fat to your diet, and when you add your favorite dip to the mix, it can happen so quickly!

But rather than cut out your crunchy snack altogether, swapping the carbs for some veg has double benefits: You still get to enjoy hummus, salsa, even a cheese dip, while eating a serving or two of veggies that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Try English cucumbers (the kind in the wrapper), baby carrots, fresh green beans and bell pepper. This means satisfied cravings with tons of fiber and other nutrients. Win-win.

Swap 3: Non-Meat for Meat

Stay with us – we’re not saying you need to become a vegetarian overnight, but every once in a while, it can be really good for you.

And don’t think you have to eat soy alternatives or weird ingredients you can’t pronounce. A simple beans-instead-of-beef swap can make taco night super filling and healthy. Or some simple veggie burgers that come together in a snap with ingredients like sunflower seeds and sweet potatoes make a veggie option much tastier.

This will not only reduce your fat and sodium intake from beef, it’ll give you that extra boost of nutrients that plant-based proteins offer.

Swap 4: Fruit for Dessert

Don’t freak out just yet. We don’t mean you should be eating apples instead of cookies, but there are desserts out there that aren’t completely void of nutritional benefits.

Banana-coconut “nice cream” is a silky sweet alternative to your favorite dairy treat, and black bean brownies are so decadent and chocolatey, you won’t even believe they’re flour-free.

And if all else fails, the classic strawberries with whipped cream route is always a hit.

No matter what you swap or how successful you are, don’t stop trying! Every good decision you make should remind you that you care about yourself and the health of your family, so keep fighting the good fight.

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Bon Appétit! Three holiday brunch ideas that are comforting and healthy

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Your holiday brunch can be tasty, simple and healthy while still being fun and festive.

Our favorite time of year for food continues as the year-end holidays roll in. Potatoes, gravy, sugar and sweets, it’s all so good yet all so bad all at the same time. There are so many options for comforting holiday sides and snacks that won’t upset your stomach but won’t leave you wanting more.

We found three of them for you to enjoy this holiday season.

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower

If you’re one who doesn’t care much for cruciferous vegetables – kale, broccoli, cauliflower – this simple recipe might change your mind. When you roast cauliflower, it becomes sweet, meaty and wonderfully caramelized. Plus, you roast it with onions, fresh garlic and thyme, and finish the oven time with some salty, nutty Parmesan cheese. Perfect to pair with some egg sandwiches and fresh berries.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan

Just toss everything together but the cheese, roast at 425 for about 35 minutes, mix in the cheese, and roast for another ten minutes.

If you don’t like cauliflower or have another veggie on hand, you can swap it out. Carrots, broccoli or potatoes would all work well, but you’ll have to adjust the cooking time based on the size you cut the veggies.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Toasts

These bites are a little more work than the cauliflower, but the flavor is perfect for a holiday brunch on a cold winter morning. There are a lot of ingredients, but most of them are optional or swap-able. Use whatever fresh herbs you like or have in the fridge, and garnish with sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. Serve with a mimosa and you’ve got yourself a party.

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 12 oz.), peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 red Thai chile (optional), halved, some seeds removed
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 1 large head broccoli, stem removed, cut into large florets
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices ¾”-thick crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped raw pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, divided
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Boil the sweet potatoes to create the mash, roast the broccoli in the meantime, then assemble your toasts and garnish as you like.

Herb-Infused Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce

Seafood can be intimidating, but these instructions make poaching shrimp pretty straightforward. You add herbs, onion and lemon to water, bring to a boil, then add the shrimp. Then cool the little guys in an ice bath and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Ingredients

  • 1½ pound shell-on large shrimp
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • ½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • Cocktail sauce and lemon wedges

Short on time? Get de-veined, shell-off shrimp and you’ll cut your prep time in half.

Happy brunching!

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Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness 2016

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#IBDVisible 2016

This week, we celebrate Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness with the goal of making IBD more visible and less isolating for folks who live with it.

The tricky thing about Crohn’s, Colitis, and other forms of IBD, is that oftentimes, people who struggle with the digestive disorders seem ok on the outside. However, the symptoms take their toll internally, causing all sorts of fatigue, loss of appetite, cramping, and frequent bowel movements that can make it difficult to carry on with a normal day but aren’t always visible to folks on the outside.

This awareness week is meant to recognize folks who struggle with various forms of IBD, their caregivers and families, the healthcare professionals who provide care, and the researchers dedicated to finding more advanced treatments and eventually a cure.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America has several ways you can get involved or simply raise your awareness about IBD. There are chapters across the country that you can connect with through Facebook to keep up with local fundraising events. Have a look at Michigan’s to see what’s going on in your area. Then, you can read the stories of folks who live with a form of IBD, learn about donating or participating in an event, then read about recent research and the advances the medical community has made.

Beyond that, sharing articles, memes, infographics and even your personal story on social media can help raise awareness about IBD and the struggles these heroes face.

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Three tips to avoid a sour stomach this Thanksgiving

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You don’t have to sacrifice your tummy for your favorite eating day.

Thanksgiving is easily the most overindulgent holiday we experience. Gravy, taters, stuffing, oh my! But if you have a sensitive stomach, all that richness can send your insides into a tailspin.

Shape suggests a mindful eating approach:

“A recent report published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that paying attention to body signals—including taking a few minutes to assess hunger, making conscious food choices, and stopping when full—was just as effective for weight loss and blood-sugar regulation as a standard diabetes class.”

Mindful eating is all about staying present with your food, rather than mindlessly shoving your face full while talking to family or watching the game. While that’s a great (and effective!) method, it might not be so simple on a day that revolves around eating!

We came up with three other tips that might help you avoid a sour stomach on the big Day of Thanks.

Pick your favorite

We all have a favorite: squash, turkey, pie, perhaps? Choose what you really want or crave all year, and go with it. Keep the portions of your second favorites on the smaller side, and dig into your number one.

When you allow yourself to indulge in your favorite dish, you can still enjoy the other things without getting sick.

Eat before dinner

It sounds counter-intuitive, but don’t wait until dinner to eat. If you’re ravenous when you sit down, you’re bound to overeat, and if you have a sensitive stomach, you’re bound to feel sick.

“Don’t starve yourself during the early part of Thanksgiving Day, with the idea that you’re just ‘saving room’ for all the food, or that this will make it okay for you to overeat later,” says Live Science.

Take a quick walk after dinner

We know, the last thing you want to do after eating a huge meal is move. Give us some sweatpants and the couch, stat! But one of the best ways to prevent that tummy from souring is to walk for about 15 or 20 minutes. Grab the family dog, invite the relative you don’t see that often, and go a few blocks. It’ll be over before you know it, and your stomach will thank you. (And you might even be ready for that extra slice of pie earlier!)

We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Three light and simple Thanksgiving recipes

Image result for glamorous thanksgiving foodIt’s our favorite time of year for food – autumn! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which can very easily lead to an overindulgence and a sour stomach.

But with a few substitutions, you can have a slightly lighter holiday, potentially fewer tummy troubles, and more room for pie.

Sassy Holiday Wine Spritzer

Cocktails are a fun addition to Thanksgiving Day festivities. Fall is a great time to experiment with warmer flavors, such as cinnamon, maple syrup, and even pumpkin puree!

But alcohol has a lot of calories and it can be easy to overdo it. A wine spritzer lets you cut some of that excess and still have a fun fizzy drink to sip on.

Ingredients

  • 1cup ice cube
  • 6 – 8 ounces of your favorite blush wine
  • a maraschino cherry and juice
  • 6 -8 ounces carbonated lemon-lime beverage

Experiment with different fruits and juices. See how the pros do it.

Lightened Up Cranberry Sauce

Canned cranberry sauce has a lot of extra sugar and corn syrup added. Fresh is so much better! In this simple recipe, you substitute applesauce and honey for the traditional sugars.

  • 2 bags of fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup pineapple juice or orange juice
  • ½ cup of applesauce (no sugar added)
  • ½ cup of water
  • juice and zest of one orange
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of honey or to taste (optional)

Find the complete (and simple!) instructions here.

Simple and Satisfying Squash Soup

This super yummy and seasonally inspired recipe comes together pretty quickly for a great first course. Or you can make this the next day with the squash you have leftover. Try this with sweet potatoes for a great digestive aide.

  • 1 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

Garnish with some fresh parsley, toasted pumpkin seeds, or a dollop of Greek yogurt. Get the full list of instructions here.

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Three ways to stay healthy this holiday weekend

fruit-for-the-fourth-of-july

Staying healthy during summer parties can be tough.

The fourth of July is the quintessential summer holiday here in the U.S. Sun, fireworks and time with family and friends all add up to one thing: lots of good food.

The grills are plentiful and mayo-based salads runneth over on Independence Day. So how can you stay on track and not overindulge this weekend? Here are a few tips to help you out.

Hit the fruits and veggies first

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: we need to eat more fruits and veggies. But the one thing you can do to put the odds in your favor is to load your plate with those items first.

In one study, researchers “worked with preschoolers and found that if you feed them generous amounts of vegetables — in this case raw carrots — as their first course, they will eat more of them,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

We realize this was researched for children, but the same concept applies to adults. Have you ever noticed that you serve yourself the most of whatever you get to first? If you fill your plate with salads and the fruit bowl, maybe you’ll only have room for one hot dog instead of two.

Set yourself up for success

Heading to a barbecue? Eat something first. Think about the last time you went grocery shopping on an empty stomach and came home with a bag of chips and some cookies. That same concept applies when you’re heading out. Eat a snack or small meal that’s high in protein and fiber. Greek yogurt with berries or a couple tablespoons of hummus with carrots will help you make better decisions at the party.

And don’t depend on the hosts to have a healthy option. If you know you’ll be tempted by the potato salad and ice cream, bring your favorite lighter dish that you also can’t resist. You’ll be able to nip your cravings in the bud by filling up on what you know to be a healthy option.

Think before you drink

Lots of holiday parties involve alcohol. And while it’s fine to indulge in a few brewskies, it’s really important to alternate with water or iced tea. This has double benefits: it keeps your inhibitions in check so you don’t end up eating the whole pan of brownies; and it prevents you from mistaking the feeling of dehydration for hunger

Most importantly, if you overdo it with the treats this weekend, don’t be too hard on yourself. Get back on track on Sunday.

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Take back your 2015! Dedicate yourself to your New Year’s resolution

It's easy to brush off your resolution once February hits. Don't let it!

It’s never too late to get back to your New Year’s resolution.

The only thing more cliche than a New Year’s resolution is one that you don’t follow much past January. But don’t fret just yet. If you got off track, you’re only about a month into your resolution. Which means that time is on your side for 2015.

Back to smoking?

The Center for Disease Control estimates that about 70% of smokers want to quit. Yet it’s one of the most difficult habits to kick. QuitSmoking.com thinks “that most people just don’t know how to go about quitting.”

Here’s some of their best advice.

1. Believe that you have it in you to quit.

“Believing you can quit is so important because your belief will guide everything you do in your attempt to quit. The way you think, the research you do, the steps you take, the people you talk to, the help you seek—all these will be influenced by the belief you have in your ability to give up cigarettes.”

2. Set a date – and don’t go cold turkey!

“Quitting on a specific date is preferable to slowly reducing the number of cigarettes that you smoke. By going “cold turkey” you won’t have to keep track of how many cigarettes you smoked yesterday and how many you will smoke today. You will also remove the temptation to cheat and smoke too many.”

3. Don’t quit quitting!

“Many smokers who have successfully given up cigarettes have made several attempts to quit before they finally kicked the habit. You should know going in that quitting may be a lengthy, or even life-long, process.”

Off your diet plan?

Food is arguably one of the most difficult habits to quit. You have to have it to live, so you can’t just walk away from it. Plus bad food is so accessible and much easier to prepare than whole foods. That’s why so many people struggle with overeating and weight problems.

But like smoking, you shouldn’t throw in the towel just because you fell off the wagon (so many adages!). And also like smoking, eating right has to be a lifelong commitment. You will always need to eat; doing so properly in the age of convenience food is what’s difficult.

“If you want to improve on something, you need to track your progress, and the behaviors that cause progress,” says Evidence Mag. To improve health or lose weight, it’s vital that you understand your current behaviors. Sure, we hear, “lose weight and eat more vegetables” from every healthy lifestyle source. But shouldn’t you have more success if you understand why you eat, when you eat, and why you eat what you eat?

Tracking your food isn’t the end-all of weight loss, but it’s one of the most effective methods. When you put what you eat in words, you hold yourself accountable. That one bite of chocolate is a secret if no one sees it. When you put it on paper, it becomes real.

Weight Watchers is perhaps the most famous of all tracking programs. It also gives you point values for your food and a limit of the number you can eat each day. My Fitness Pal is another site that works to help you understand and track your food and exercise.

Feeling defeated?

Regardless of your resolution – saving more, learning something new, watching less TV – it’s never too late to hop back to it. It’s also important to remember that you’re not the only person who has faced this. There are support groups for everything, even online ones. It’s so helpful to recognize that you’re going to have setbacks, there are other people who have too, and that the only way you lose is if you quit trying.

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Four digestive resolutions: How to have a regular 2015

We've got a few resolutions for your digestive health.

Here’s to a happy a REGULAR new year!

We talked a lot this year about how to improve your digestion. So we started thinking: What should your digestive resolutions be for 2015?

Here’s a list of things you can do to easily improve your digestion in the new year.

  1. Learn how to ease constipation with certain foods. Even though food may not be everything, eating nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables with lots of fiber can help most of your bodily functions.
  2. Cut back on dairy to reduce digestive discomfort. Diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gas are just a few symptoms of lactose intolerance. If you have some of these symptoms but aren’t sure why, try cutting out dairy for a few days to see if that’s the culprit.
  3. Read about when you should take heartburn more seriously. While there are definitely some foods you can blame, there could be other things at work. “If you have heartburn every day you should seek medical care from a physician to identify the cause,” says Dr. Anezi Bakken.
  4. And perhaps most importantly, get a colonoscopy. Few things can detect colon cancer in its early stages like this simple procedure. As Dr. M. Emin Donat put it, “colonoscopies are easy, painless and can save your life.”

Here’s to a happy, healthy and regular new year!

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