Dec 30 2013

Health Concepts Nutrition Maintain Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge Week Seven: Have a Happy Healthy New Year!

     The New Year is almost here! If you have been working towards the holiday weight challenge, how have you been doing? If you have not taken part, consider weighing in on January 1st or 2nd and determine if there is change that you want to work towards. I wanted to share a few things about alcohol in this post and also include a few websites with some recipes for New Year’s Evenappetizers and New Year’s Day Celebration Menus.

     When most of us think about New Year’s Eve celebrations, we think of alcohol. Alcohol in moderation may work for some of us. If you are having alcohol in your celebration, remember to have plenty of interesting beverages that are non-alcoholic for the designated drivers, children and for people who want an alcohol-free evening. Health recommendations suggest no more than one drink for women and two for men. Alcohol is also a big source of calories. Here is a great slideshow from Web MD on lower calorie alcohol drinks:

Here are some non-alcohol drink alternatives to make the evening festive:

New Year’s Eve is often an evening of appetizers and snacks. Here are some healthy ideas that will taste wonderful and no one will know that you skimped on the fat and calories!

New Year’s Day is a time for reflection and setting goals for the New Year. Many people hope to make their year a lucky one by the foods that they serve. Black eyed peas, pork, greens and sweet potatoes are often served. Here are a few healthy New Year’s Day Menus that will bring you lots of luck and health in the New Year:

Here’s to a Healthy, Happy New Year!


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Dec 22 2013

Week 6: Health Concepts Holiday Maintain Don’t Gain Challenge: Don’t Stress Eat Over the Holidays

By the time that you read this post, I will be on a fourteen hour car ride to the Midwest to spend the holidays with our families. The trip itself is stressful and then dividing time between homes and being out of own space also adds to it. Then there are different personalities and “issues”.  Add poor weather conditions that made driving difficult and keep us cooped inside and feels like a set up for a week of overeating. I think most of us can relate to holiday stress. We can control some of the stress in our life but some stress is beyond our control. We will always have stress in our lives so learning healthy coping mechanisms is a good tool to have. Here are a few ideas to deal with the extra stress over the holidays and ways to comfort yourself without food.

1. Much of the stress that we feel over the holidays is the fact that we are trying to do too much with too little time. For example, one thing that I streamlined my holiday card list so I sent about half of the cards by e-mail. It was wonderful to get an e-mail back from my friends and family. It saved a lot of time also!

2. Simplify! Why do we have to make things so complicated? As I was unpacking holiday decorations, I only got out some of the decorations and just focused on the ones that really make me happy. It keeps the house less cluttered so there is less to dust and take down later. I went in the yard and cut evergreen branches to add some scent and  color.

3. Don’t get involved in the family drama. If someone knows how to push your buttons, don’t feel that you have to react how they want. Think ahead of time how you can respond in a positive way to deflect any tension so you can have the maximum amount of enjoyment this season.

4. Use healthy coping skills. Instead of eating or drinking your cares away, do something productive. Take a walk, call a friend that you have not talked to in awhile, bring some holiday joy by volunteering or doing something extra special for someone you love. Listen to relaxing music or read a book. I love to do a handy craft.

5. If you feel that you still have a need for some munchies, make them healthy, crunchy and bulky. Think salad, a fruit or veggie tray. You don’t have to order one from the deli, make your own on a favorite holiday platter. The more veggies you fix, the more that you eat and the fuller you will feel.

6. Keeping track of your weight for the holiday challenge can help you feel successful in some areas of life when others feel out of control. You can do it! We are almost there. Stay tuned next week as we plan a few snacks for the new year, meal ideas for a lucky New Years celebration and a few ideas on alcohol consumption.

Hope the remaining days of your holidays are heart warming and healthy!



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Dec 18 2013

Week Five Health Concepts Holiday Maintain Don’t Gain Challenge: Healthy Holiday Sweets

We are now at Week Five with just a few more weeks to go. You can do it! I have to confess, I love handmade holiday desserts. Last year I told myself that I would stop making holiday cookies for family and friends when someone very special to me said how much she loved the cookies I made. I decided that the cookie ritual is one that I could continue and still keep my holidays healthy. One cookie a day is something I can work in the season for a week. Here are some ideas to work them and other holiday goodies in a healthy meal plan:

1. Keep track of the calories from your treats and keep them small portions.

2. Carve out some calories elsewhere in your day to work them in.

3. Step up the exercise to burn up the sweets.

4. Prioritize and budget extra calories for the special foods at celebration times. For instance if you are going to a holiday dinner and know that you plan to indulge, cut back a few days to work the items.

5. Two things that help me when I make the cookies is to freeze them in the holiday tins, that way it is a reminder for me that they aren’t for me to eat.

I am sharing a few resources for cookies that you can work into your holiday season.

Here are some cookies my mom made specially for me!

Here are some cookies my mom made specially for me!

Stay tuned for the next week to learn more about how stress affects eating choices over the holidays!



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Dec 11 2013

Week Four Health Concepts Holiday Maintain Don’t Gain Challenge: Exercise Your Right to Health

Life gets hectic during the holidays! We try to squeeze in extra tasks into our already busy schedules even when we try to simplify.  Making or buying gifts, wrapping, buying and decorating a tree, sending holiday cards, making treats and attending festivities all add up. One healthy habit that I try to maintain over the holidays that helps me stay on track is my exercise routine. I have a wonderful Zumba class that I include in my schedule weekly and my older dog needs walked to help ease his arthritis pain. I have an exercise video that I can do when the weather is cold and rainy even when it’s dark outside. My husband is my exercise buddy and goes to the gym with me and takes me on mountain hikes. Each morning one of us asks “Are we going to the gym tonight”? I set behavioral goals each week for my exercise, sometimes I am successful but at times I am not. Exercise reduces stress and elevates our mood, these are important tools during the holiday season as the days become shorter. How do you stay on track with your exercise routine? If you are falling short this holiday season, think of ways to help you get back on track. For many of us, when we exercise, we pay more attention to what we eat which can be a great tool to maintain weight.  Some great holiday gifts that you can suggest to your family and friends might include new exercise clothes, a pedometer, hand weights, new athletic shoes, an exercise tape or a jogging stroller if you have a little one. Exercise is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself this holiday season! We are almost halfway through the season, keep working at it! The most tempting part of the season is coming up for me! Stay tuned next week when I share some tips for surviving those holiday sweets!


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Dec 02 2013

Health Concepts Nutrition Holiday Challenge Week Three: Surviving the Holiday Party!

You made it through Thanksgiving and only five weeks until the new year. Today is the day to recommit to your holiday weight maintenance goal. You have heard when the “going gets tough, the tough get going”. Now is the time to get tough. The parties begin in the weeks ahead. If you are a guest there are several things that you can do to prevent over-eating. Here are a few ideas:
-Use small party plate if it is appetizer only. Smaller dinner plate if it is dinner.
-Be selective & prioritize, only pick the most special, seasonal items.
-When you fill your plate, make sure that none of your food is touching.
-Only go through the line once, unless you want dessert & pick one small piece.
-Keep a focus on fruits and veggies.
-Stay away from the table.
-Keep your focus on the reason for the celebration, not the food.
If you are hosting your own holiday party. Here are some great theme ideas for your party that are easy, fun, tasty and healthy.
For dessert? We will talk about desserts in the coming weeks but fruit cut and displayed beautifully makes a healthy choice. Or how about just a few tiny cookies or a few pieces of chocolate in a beautiful dish. Just enough for a serving for everyone. Have a healthy week and stayed tuned!

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Nov 25 2013

Health Concepts Holiday Challenge Week Two: Mindful Holiday Eating

Mindful Holiday Eating

If you are weighing in for the Holiday Challenge, weigh in today and this number will challenge you to maintain your weight next week. By now, your Thanksgiving Menu is probably written and you have already gone to the grocery store. If you aren’t cooking dinner, you probably know where you are eating and what you are having! Last week, I suggested deciding ahead of time how much to eat. For most of us, we eat until we are uncomfortable on Thanksgiving. This year I encourage you to feel just right after your meal. You can do this using a tool called Mindful Eating. Being mindful is staying in the present and paying attention to how you feel and determining if your body feels full or hungry. You can pay attention if you are comfortably full or overly full. Living in the moment and enjoying your family and friends and savoring each bite of food, really tasting it will help you eat less. When people say, “chew your food 30 times” what I am suggesting instead is to taste each bite 30 times more! To eat less you can also drink plenty of water or hot tea before you meal and have a salad or light soup. Check out these really great mindful eating tools on Susan Alber’s website at : Have a great Thanksgiving! Stay tuned next week for more ideas on eating healthy for the holidays!

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Nov 20 2013

Health Concepts Holiday Challenge Week One

I can’t believe that next week is already Thanksgiving! Now is the time to plan ahead to make our menus and start our shopping or decide where we are going to eat. Thinking ahead about what you are going to eat and how big a portion you will eat can be a great strategy to prevent over eating. A typical Thanksgiving dinner is around 2500 calories and that is just one serving of each item. This is more calories than most of us need to maintain our weight for a day. Although, Thanksgiving dinner is only one meal, it often becomes the “kick off” to overeating for the entire weekend which leads to overeating the next five weeks. Thanksgiving plans may cause us to eat leftovers all weekend or begin a holiday overeating mindset that lasts until the New Year. Eating healthy is a challenge for most of us this time of year but here are a few pre-Thanksgiving Health Tips that you may find helpful:
1. Plan ahead: Project your meal ahead of time whether you prepare the meal or eat someone else’s cooking and select lighter foods between now and then. Thanksgiving is only one day, how can you get back on track to be a winner the rest of the weekend?

2. Don’t Get Side Lined: A few things have worked well for my husband and me over the years to eat less over Thanksgiving. We prepare less side-dishes so we have fewer options to put on our plate. We start out with a salad so we have less room to fill up on other things. We also fix smaller amounts of each dish so we don’t have as many leftovers.

3. Get Up and Move: A great holiday tradition that our family has started is a walk around the neighborhood or a hike after our meal. This keeps us from getting too stuffed and also burns off some extra calories and takes the focus off the meal.

4. Be Selective: Focus on the foods that are only available this time of year and leave the high calorie foods that are available all year long alone! Choose low calorie beverages. Eat a small serving one your very favorite dessert or tablespoons of several. Focus on the reason for the celebration which includes our gratitude for life, family and friends. Enjoy the holidays with a fresh, new perspective on healthy! Enjoy!

Here is my Festive Holiday Salad for Thanksgiving!

Festive Holiday Salad (Using as Many Local Ingredients as I can Find)

Spinach (from my garden)one cup per person
Red onion (choose from the Farmer’s Market) slice a few rings per person
Dried Cranberries (or if you prefer local, try dried figs)
Sliced local apples or cubed to toss in with the greens, one half cup
Local Goat Cheese, one tablespoon per person
Roasted Walnuts, one tablespoon per person
Low Fat Balsamic dressing (you can make your own, I also like Ken’s)

To prepare, determine how many people you are making salad for and make sure each serving has one cup of greens, a few slices of red onion, half cup of apples, one tablespoon cranberries, one tablespoon of nuts and a sprinkle of goat cheese. Add one tablespoon of dressing and toss.

Increase it by the amount of guests that you have!

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Nov 20 2013

2013 Health Concepts Maintain Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge

Stay Tuned for Holiday Tips and Support Beginning November 20!

Check it out at:


Ready to maintain your weight this holiday season?

The holidays may a tough time for major lifestyle changes but you can prevent holiday pounds from sneaking on. For weekly inspiration, check out my blog to receive holiday recipes, behavioral tips and other helpful information.

Many of us gain an average of five pounds or more during the holiday season which never really comes off after the New Year.. Most of this weight does not come off after the holidays and several years later can contribute to a gradual weight gain of 10-20 pounds or more. This holiday season may not be the time to go on a weight loss plan that requires big changes in your lifestyle leaving you feeling deprived but you can be successful if you are able to maintain. The 2013 Maintain Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge can help you achieve your goal!

 Below is a weekly holiday weight log that you can print to track your weekly progress on your own over the next weeks.

Look Forward to Helping You Succeed with Your Health Goals!


Holiday Survival Eating Challenge

Weigh-In Log Sheet












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Oct 30 2013

Eating Local at the Apple Orchard

I took some time off from writing the past few weeks but I wanted to share with you the wonderful time that I had at Justus Orchard when I volunteered with ASAP’s annual farm tour. This beautiful place is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Hendersonville. Once you get there, be prepared to relax and enjoy yourself because there is a lot to do and see. In September, U pick was in full swing but right now the apples are only available already picked. They will be open for about another week. Check out what is still available:
I walked alongside the beautiful orchard and stopped to take a few pictures. There were a series of “cow cars” that are pulled by the tractor that look like a lot of fun for children. There is also a bakery featuring apple pie, cider donuts, apple cider, caramel apples and apple bread for a little treat. If you are in need of a meal, there was also boiled peanuts and barbeque for sale. You will feel very welcomed by the family in addition to having a wonderful time and some delicious apples.
Local apples are rich in Vitamin C, quercetin, a plant chemical beneficial to health and the soluble fiber pectin. Some of my favorite ways to eat apples are with a little peanut butter, “sautéed with some cabbage” or try my very favorite way a fall apple crisp

If you miss out on the apples this year, be sure to put it on your itinerary for next fall for something fun to do. You can also visit to stop by for blackberries July-August and Peaches August-September. You can check out their website for availability or call at 243-2420 or 243-7235.
My daughter-in-law, Victoria, son, Noah and grandchildren Sparrow and Wiley were also on the farm tour that weekend. Victoria was one of the winners of the ASAP Farm Tour photo contest:
Here is Sparrow in the “Down the Row” photo:
Congratulations Victoria! I am so lucky to have a wonderful and talented daughter-in-law like you!

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Sep 12 2013

Local produce Main Ingredient for Katuah

This week I spoke with John Swann, owner of the Katuah Market in Asheville which will open in November. Katuah, the Cherokee name for the Southern Appalachian Mountains, will focus on local foods made with high quality ingredients. Some of the features of the market include a deli, hot and cold food bars, grab and go food section from foods all made from scratch. There will also be local dry goods, Appalachian grown produce and meat and other wonderful surprises. When I asked why we should support local farms, John shared with that when we buy locally grown foods it’s eleven times more efficient in stimulating a local economy. In addition, foods grown in our own community are grown more sustainable and taste fresher. Katuah’s motto is “Local by Nature” and I look forward to visiting soon. If you would like to find out more about Katuah Market and upcoming events, follow them on face book at:

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