SEASONAL EATING: Don’t Get Tricked By Treats!

Isn’t October supposed to be sweater weather? I thought so! This year seems to be a little wonky with the weather but, “Hey, I’m not going to complain!” As of this moment while I am writing this blog the sun has been shining brightly all week long. And, I haven't had the heart to put my shorts and sandals away just yet either. I figure I’m going to hold out until the very bitter end of this weather! In fact for months I’ve been playing this little mind game with myself where I purposely look the other way of anything even hinting at “seasonal” decorations when I’m out and about. Which, I gotta tell ya is rather hard to do when the “stuff” starts hitting the shelves before July 4! (It’s not really happening if I don’t see it right?)

Sooner or later I’ll pull my head out of the sand and come to grips that its fall. Then I’ll buy a bag of Halloween candy— a small consolation to pacify me for awhile. WEATHER UPDATE: Since starting this blog the weather has finally caught up with the calendar and fall is definitely here! Okay, back to my blog.

As I was saying before the weather update, I’m slowly accepting that the season has shifted and Halloween is right around the corner. With that I have been pondering what all that entails. So I thought for this blog what better topic to talk about than what lies ahead for the next two to three months for us—At least gastronomically speaking that is!

Since I was a child I have always considered Halloween to be the official “kick off” of the holiday season. I’m thinking it had something to do with the yearly tradition of a bulging pillowcase full of candy I had all to myself. Sounds probable! Anyway, Halloween always brought excitement and anticipation knowing that the next month brought Thanksgiving and then the big one -- CHRISTMAS!

I also remember as the fall season rolled around my mom would switch up the daily menus somewhat. And with the cooler weather came more opportunities to enjoy the goodies from the oven, YUM! Although when I think back I don’t remember an over abundance of offerings and the recipes didn’t vary much either.

But, times are different today. Whereas my mom might have been privy to some new dishes to try that she saw in a monthly magazine, today, we are constantly being exposed to ever more appetizing (and typically high calorie) images of food thanks to food shows, Pinterest, newsfeed pop ups, etc. And should I even mention how the coffee shops like Starbucks or Biggby tempt us to drive thru and pick up their latest seasonal drink on our daily commute? Here’s a fun fact for ya, a grande Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks has 48 grams of sugar and that’s without the whipped cream! Now toss in a pumpkin muffin and a couple of candy bars throughout the day (that you bought for the trick or treaters, wink-wink) and the extra sugar and calories consumed by nightfall could be called downright spooky!

So, does that mean that we shouldn’t try new dishes or enjoy some fall goodies? NO WAY! But, we should keep in mind  just how easy it is to let those extra calories “creep” in. Especially if we don’t pick and choose wisely on which new recipes to try. Therefore, I thought it beneficial to share some tips that will hopefully help you to not “fall” in the fall:

Be mindful: Eating increases in the fall
We have a tendency to eat about 200 calories more per day during the fall. Maybe it’s a biological thing—putting on weight in preparation for the potential winter famine our ancestors faced. Or, could it simply be because fatty, high-calorie foods are more readily available during these months? Whatever the case, starting the season with a mindful approach will keep you a step ahead.

Eat The Autumn Colors
Autumn is the season of warm, earthy colors like deep green, dark yellows and brilliant oranges. Nurture yourself by eating fresh seasonal foods. They are typically packed with great nutrients, such as fiber, protein, beta carotene and vitamin C.

Set Goals And Limits
Remember to be realistic. Moderation is the key! If goals are too restrictive or vague, it will be much harder to rise to the challenge. Establish clear nutrition and health goals (dessert two times a week, one cookie instead of two, a thirty minute walk five times a week, etc.)

Pay Attention To Your Wardrobe
When your favorite pair of jeans start to feel a little too snug you will have your first clue that your goals and limits need a little tweaking!

LAST WEATHER UPDATE: As I was putting the finishing touches to this blog I kid you not I looked out my window and it was spitting SNOW! Ya gotta love Michigan! Sheesh! I’m going to go get another candy bar!

Okay, all jesting aside, I really do want to encourage you to be mindful in the months ahead of making good decisions regarding the celebrations. By all means celebrate to your hearts content. But I hope that by being mindful at the beginning of the season you won’t end the season with regret.

If you would like some assistance in helping you navigate this tricky season of treats please call me at (616) 516-1570 or click on the “Contact” tab to set up an appointment. Let the celebrations begin!

Celebrating Easter with Spring Flavors in a Healthy Way!

IT IS FINALLY SPRING! I do not know how to express to you how happy (and relieved) I am that at long last, the calendar has finally rolled around to this time of year. But you know you've had “Cabin fever” pretty bad when you feel like hugging all the robins that come flying into your yard like long lost friends. Okay, it was bad, but maybe not that bad!

Anyway, with Spring now here the official first holiday that will kick off the season will be Easter. And in fact it is only a couple of weeks of way, (STAY AWAY FROM THE PEEPS!) It’s a time where the temperatures start to warm up and we start switching out the winter wardrobe for more appropriate “Spring” type apparel. However, it’s not just the wardrobe we think about switching out—but also our menus we’ve been relying on to get us through the winter. Somehow that big pot of chili that sounded so good in November does not entice me at all come April. Ugh! I’m so over that! How about you?

So in honor of the first holiday of the season I am going to take a little break from my normal type of blog and I am going to share some recipes that I think sound good for Easter dinner. After all, holidays are for celebrating and I plan on doing just that. However, anyone who regularly reads my blogs knows that I don’t think it wise to throw all self control out the window and overindulge either.

Now, in my household Easter dinner wouldn’t be Easter if it didn’t involve a ham so I will share my favorite recipe that I found somewhere on the internet years ago that I like to use. Also, I will share a tasty and healthier version of Deviled eggs to help you use up those extra colored Easter eggs you might have left over from breakfast.


  • 15 lbs whole bone-in ham
  • 1 lb brown sugar (approx. 2 1/4 cp)
  • 1/2 cp yellow mustard
  • aluminum foil


  1. In a medium size bowl mix yellow mustard and brown sugar until it is a thick paste.
  2. Take all wrappers off of ham and trim away excess fat.
  3. Line baking pan with Aluminum foil for easier cleanup.
  4. Connect 3 large pieces of foil together securely along the long edge of each piece to make one very large sheet.
  5. Place ham on large sheet of foil and spread brown sugar/mustard paste on top. (Yes, it will seem like a lot of mixture.)
  6. Bring sides of foil up around ham and fold edges down and seal securely.
  7. Place ham in baking pan.
  8. Bake at 350° for 4 hours.
  9. Let ham set for about 1 hr. then carve. (DO NOT OPEN FOIL UNTIL AFTER 1 HR.)
  10. Enjoy one of the best tasting hams you have ever had.


  • 1 bunch thin asparagus spears, washed and trimmed.
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil. (or less according to diet)
  • sea salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. Place asparagus on baking sheet with sides
  3. Drizzle olive oil and toss to coat.
  4. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Bake 15 min. or until tender.

* This is a basic recipe. However, you can play around with it and add other seasonings such as pepper, garlic, Parmesan cheese, etc. I only use olive oil and salt because that’s the way my family likes it and we bake it longer also because we like the heads of the asparagus to be crispy.


  • 6 hard boiled eggs (peeled)
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 tsp. fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. minced red onion
  • 3 tsp. lime juice
  • pinch of salt/pepper
  • paprika


  1. Halve the eggs length-wise, remove the yolks and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mash the avocado and 3 whole egg yolks with a fork until desired consistency.
  3. Mix in lime juice, red onion, cilantro, salt and pepper according to taste and mix well.
  4. Spoon or pipe the mixture into the egg white halves.
  5. Sprinkle with dash of paprika for color.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*This also is a basic recipe so if you like to spice it up go ahead. Try adding some garlic, cumin, or even jalapeño.

Ingredients for salad

  • 1 bunch of spinach, rinsed, drained, chopped
  • 10 large strawberries, sliced
  • toasted pecans
  • red onion, slivered (amount depends on taste)
    Dressing (You will not use all of the dressing, remainder lasts 2 weeks in fridge)
  • 1/2 cp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 cp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

In a large bowl, mix salad ingredients. For the dressing: In a blender, place all dressing ingredients except the poppy seeds and blend until smooth and thick. Stir in the poppy seeds. Pour desired amount of dressing over salad.

*Just a friendly reminder to go easy on the dressing or it will quickly turn into a not so healthy salad.

And now, I am going to share a dessert that I have had for years that I believe was originally shared by somebody in Weight Watchers and is usually a big hit whenever I make it. I hope you will enjoy it too.


  • 16 graham cracker squares, finely crushed
  • 1 large (6-oz) pkg. sugar-free vanilla flavored instant pudding mix
  • 2 3/4 cps. milk
  • 4 bananas, sliced
  • 1 (8-oz) carton “lite” whipped frozen topping, thawed
  • 2 cps. sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 (8-oz) cans crushed pineapple
  • 4 oz. flaked coconut


  1. Spread cracker crumbs evenly in a 13 x 9 inch pan.
  2. In medium bowl, mix pudding with milk approx. 2 min.
  3. Pour mixed pudding over crumbs.
  4. Layer sliced bananas over pudding.
  5. Cover with whipped topping.
  6. Add layer of strawberries, then pineapple. Sprinkle with coconut.
  7. Refrigerate until serving time. (Tastes better when allowed to chill at least a couple of hours.)

Well, there you have it — An Easter dinner full of “Spring” flavor. And while it’s not all totally low-cal, there is an abundance of nutritious and healthy food for the choosing. By keeping in mind portion control and being wise with your other meals throughout the day you will be just fine enjoying these dishes. And, even more so if you incorporate a nice brisk walk into the days activities. So with that being said, I wish you a “Happy Spring and a Happy Easter!”

Eat Hearty but Healthy This Fall


Happy Fall Y’all! I can’t believe it's that time of year already, but alas, here it is. Now that we are pretty deep into the fall season, we find ourselves spending more time inside the house don't we? And when the time changes next month and we lose that precious hour of fading daylight it will be even more so.

Our daily habits are a lot of times related to the time of year it is and especially can be dictated by the weather outside. So as it gets colder and darkness comes earlier we find our evening routines changing dramatically. One thing that seems to change big time is the way we eat and even prepare dinner. I think you would agree with me that throwing some chicken on the grill for dinner sounds a lot more appealing when it’s 76 degrees and sunny than when it is 45 degrees and dark outside — and it’s only 6:00p.m.

So while there are brave souls out there who do not mind shivering around the grill waiting for the meat to get done, the majority of us tend to start turning to the oven or crockpot for dinner. And when the temperature drops we tend to turn to what we call comfort foods — foods that make us feel warm and cozy. Unfortunately, this usually means high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods like casseroles, mashed potatoes and gravy, stews, mac and cheese, etc. And unlike a hot summer day, we don’t give it a second thought to put the oven on to bake something sweet and you know what that means. Tempting cookies, cakes, brownies, and other warm desserts.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to some of these dishes from time to time, but if you can take a recipe and make it healthier I say, “Why not?” Taste of Home’s used to have a magazine called, “Light and Tasty” from which I found some recipes that have become favorites. So, in honor of the season that we now find ourselves in, I would like to share with you a couple of those “healthier” recipes that my family really enjoys. I hope you enjoy them too!

Chicken with Jalapeño Sauce - 4 servings (Sauce is very mild)
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz. each)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups hot cooked rice

Sprinkle chicken with salt. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown chicken in oil on both sides.
Add the onions, broth, jalapeños and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat: cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Remove chicken and keep warm.
Stir cream cheese and sour cream into onion mixture until blended. Stir in tomatoes; heat through.
Serve with chicken and rice.

Tomato Corn Toss - 3 - 3/4 cup servings
1 medium tomato, diced
1 - 2 banana peppers, seeded and chopped (banana peppers are not hot)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 tablespoon butter

In a 1-quart microwave-safe dish, combine the tomato, peppers, water and seasoning. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute: stir. Cook 1 minute longer.
Stir in corn and butter. Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until heated through and butter is melted.

Makeover White Texas Sheet Cake - 20 servings
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup reduced-fat butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted

In a large saucepan, bring butter and water just to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat; stir in the flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, applesauce, salt, baking powder, extract and baking soda until smooth.
Pour into a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
FOR FROSTING, in a small mixing bowl, beat butter ad extract until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Add milk; beat until smooth. Spread over warm cake; sprinkle with walnuts. Cool completely. (Tastes even better the next day.)

Now it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include a recipe that had pumpkin in it. Why? Because it seems like EVERYTHING right now is all about the pumpkin right? Fall = Pumpkin I do believe. So here’s a recipe that I am sure you will love.

Low-fat Pumpkin Muffins - makes 12 - 18 muffins
1 box Spice cake mix
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I like to add extra cinnamon)
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)

Combine dry cake mix with rest of ingredients. Mix with beaters for approximately 2 min. Batter will be really thick. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups. Scoop muffin mix into cups. Muffin cups will be almost full but they won’t overflow.
Bake at 350° for 15 - 18 min.

Well, if you try these recipes you will see (and taste) that healthier cooking can taste good too! If you have some favorite dishes that you like to make when the weather turns colder, take a look at them. Use your imagination and experiment to find ways to create a healthier version such as:

  • Reducing the amount of fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Eliminate or cut back on some of the not so healthy ingredients.
  • Find a healthy substitution.

So here’s to a happy and healthy fall season to you. Bundle up and take a walk outside amidst the beautiful fall colors. Eat some hearty but healthier foods.Your family won’t notice the difference but your health sure will!


Cooking Shows – Watch but don’t eat!


food showsI have a “friend” on Facebook that has recently taken up a new hobby which I suspect is to help her fill the void of not having any more kids at home seems as how her last one left for college last September. She was always a busy mom with kids in sports and so I’m sure it was a huge adjustment for her when all of a sudden those activities that took so much of her time just disappeared.

So the new hobby she started is cooking and then taking pictures of her makings and commenting on each dish. I have to tell you her pictures are beautifully done and quite impressive. Looking at the pictures being posted I have to admit she has made me hungry more than once. At first glance I was thinking, “Oh, how nice, she’s picked up a new hobby. Her work already looks so professional.”

I have been tempted a couple of times though to ask her just who is eating all of this food because I know she is a petite woman and avid runner and the food definitely does not look like lo-cal food. When I started paying more attention to her posts I noticed that she was getting a lot of her ideas for the dishes from cooking shows on tv.

Now I have watched those shows too and while the recipes always look delicious, I know if I ate that way all the time I would get into some serious trouble. So it got me to thinking of how many people watch these programs and do they have any effect on peoples health and or weight gain.

And what do people today do when they want to find out something quick? Yep! They google it!
After typing in “Watching cooking shows and weight gain,” a whopping 5,510,000 results popped up. Now, I didn’t go through all of the sites and I’m sure the message would have started straying off topic somewhat at some point but after perusing through quite a few of them I came to the conclusion that there was something to be said about the correlation between watching the shows and weight gain.

Lizzy Pope, a researcher in nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont and the
lead author of a study done on this topic came up with some interesting findings. The study consisted of a national panel survey of 501 females between the ages of 20-35 that assessed how the participants obtained information on new recipes and asked a series of questions about their cooking habits, their height and their weight.

With all the information they gathered, they then calculated the participants’ BMI (body mass index) and applied statistical analysis to determine if and what associations there was regarding how obtaining information about new foods, cooking from scratch, and the effect it may have on their BMI.

According to the study’s results, they found that the women who watched cooking shows and cooked frequently from scratch had a mean weight of 164 pounds. By comparison, women who watched the shows but didn’t cook much from scratch weighed, on average, about 153 pounds. They also noted that the same women who watch and then cooked the recipes had a higher BMI than the women who just watched but did not cook.

Another interesting finding was that when the women obtained their recipes and cooking advice from other sources such as magazines, online, or family and friends, the data did not show a significant association with BMI.

So what do we make of all this information? It seems we are always hearing about how eating out at restaurants all of the time is bad for your health so one would think that cooking at home is healthier right? But just because you are cooking at home does not automatically mean that you are cooking healthy dishes or that you will lose weight.

If your inspiration for cooking is mainly coming from TV where celebrity chefs entertain the audience with calorie laden, drenched in cream pasta and decadent desserts then you might as well eat out at a restaurant. Let’s face it, butter is butter whether it comes from your kitchen or on your plate at a restaurant.

It is important to keep in mind that for the most part these shows are for entertainment purposes only. And while there is nothing wrong with “watching” them occasionally to relax and maybe even getting a few ideas to try, you want to be mindful of how and what you cook and realize that the shows are not necessarily going to portray healthy recipes.

So once again it really boils down to one fact, and that is, we have to choose to eat smart. It always does doesn’t it? But in the society we live in and the availability of so many options coupled with the media be it tv food shows or social media with beautifully displayed pictures or videos popping up on our newsfeed constantly is it any wonder how easy it is to get “off track?”

So my fellow Americans I believe the take-home message for today is go ahead, watch a show or two for entertainment but when you go into your kitchen to cook for you and your family be sensible and pick from recipes that emphasize health and nutrition. And let the celebrity chefs give their dishes to feed the cameramen and the staff that produce the shows.

If I can be of any assistance to you whether it be providing education, strategies, or just support to encourage you to get back on and stay on the right track of healthy eating please feel free to contact me at (616) 516-1570. Bon-appétit!


Sugar, Sugar, EVERYWHERE!

sugar sugar everywhere

Well, we stepped over the first landmine (Halloween) just over a week ago. Did anybody get hurt out there? You know, as if having a bag of 150 candy bars and roughly only 45 trick or treater’s that came to your door wasn’t dangerous enough, I found it interesting to say the least that the next few days after, all the tv news shows and web articles were giving out “helpful” hints on how to use that leftover candy in a dessert. Apparently, a candy bar can’t stand on its own, you have to mix it with a cookie crust, brownies, ice cream, pudding and whipped cream to make it go away.

I guess that is one way to get rid of the extra candy— But are you really getting rid of it? You might get it off your counter but where do you think it will show up? YEP! You guessed it. Right around your waistline and clogging up your arteries!

If you did opt for this, I hope you will at least spread it out over time. Put the candy in the freezer and then pull it out and use it for special occasions and especially when you can take the dessert somewhere else where you will have lots of help eating it.

Or you could still just put it in the freezer and take one out here and there say after a walk around the block or after you bag that mountain of leaves that is in your yard right about now.

But please use some common sense when it comes to using the candy. I saw a recipe that was described as a giant chocolate chip cookie with tons of Halloween candy and lots of frosting. In the recipe itself it also called for cream cheese, marshmallow creme and caramel sauce. It was touted as a dessert that was sure to leave you in a sugar coma as if that was a good thing.

Really, why go through all the extra steps of making something like that up when you can just pop open a 5 lb. bag of sugar and pour it down your throat in one easy step? Of course I am being facetious in what I am saying but I am trying to get a point across. There is absolutely nothing redeeming nor remotely nutritious about a recipe like that. Why would we want to serve something like that to our family?

We are so accustomed to having sugar in our daily diet we don’t realize how much we are actually consuming. Naturally occurring sugar is the sugar found in whole, unprocessed foods, such as milk, fruit, vegetables, and some grains. What is unsettling is that the average American consumes around 156 pounds of added sugar per year or roughly 22 tsp. every day according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). And what is even more disturbing is that people are consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup. This is a highly processed form of sugar which is cheaper yet 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar. That’s why many food and beverage manufacturers decide to use it in their products.

The bad news is that the human body is not made to consume excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the form of fructose. Our body metabolizes fructose differently than sugar and can cause a whole host of problems that can have far reaching effects on your health, weight gain just being one of them.

You are probably thinking, “I don’t eat that much sugar.” But, if you are not in the regular habit of checking the labels on the foods you purchase, you would be surprised at how many foods contain added sugar. Over the course of a day with every thing you put in your mouth the grams of sugar you eat can really add up. Even foods such as spaghetti sauce, canned soup, and bread all contain added sugar. What is even more disheartening are the products with a healthy sounding name but with an ingredient list that is anything but healthy such as granola bars, yogurt and Green tea.

Just for kicks and giggles, the next time you go to the grocery store, take a little time and notice how many items make claims in eye catching large print such as, “More Protein,” “Made with Whole Grains,” or “Fat Free” which grabs your attention making you believe it is healthy but in reality has added ingredients such as added sugar, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup or some other form of sugar.

So, going back to that recipe I mentioned above, it really doesn’t sound like a good idea does it? I don’t like to be wasteful, but maybe all those leftover Snickers bars hanging out in your cupboard calling your name should just be given a permanent home at the local landfill instead of on your hips, just saying!

Sometimes navigating through the holidays can be quite a struggle  making wise choices. If you think you would benefit from someone holding you accountable and walking you through some new ways to think about food or help you with an exercise program to get you moving in the right direction, please call me at (616) 516-1570 or use the contact tab on the upper right hand corner of the screen and “Let’s talk!”

Recipe for Starting Day Off Right!

Combine the following to start your day off right:
5 mile stretch of road with very little cars and a lot of hills
1 gorgeous cloud-less 70 degree day
30 rock-n-roll songs from the 70’s (did we really listen to that - oh well, had a beat, kept me walkin’)
2 beautiful butterflies fluttering away in front of me
2 healthy legs
1 dose of healthy humor when garden snake crosses your path in front of you

So I had some time this morning and took a walk. Got me thinking, wishing, that every day could be like this.  It was just one of those splendid days in West Michigan where you think it can’t get any better.

If you don’t have the day off, take the time to “move along” in whatever capacity you can. I happen to work in a building with long hallways, and some days I have to consciously and purposely make myself take a walk.  Granted, it’s not as exciting as walking outside but if it’s too hot, humid, rainy, or you’re just stuck inside, take advantage of any little thing you can to get moving.

And then after work, get outside for 15, 30, 60 or however many minutes you can squeeze out and just enjoy THIS DAY.