A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Healthy Holiday Tip #12–Make resolutions you can keep
The coming new year sparks thoughts of new years resolutions, many of which involve dieting or exercising more. I think making a new years resolution is a great idea, as long as you make your goal an attainable one. Setting unrealistic goals only sets you up for disappointment when you end up not making is as far as you’d hoped. So, if you want to make a new years resolution to eat healthy, exercise more, or quit smoking, I have a few tips for you.

Tip #1– Make sure you’re ready to do whatever it is you’re setting out to do. If you aren’t ready to fully commit, then you’ll let yourself cheat and then fail. Then, the next time you think you’re ready to try again, you’ll only remind yourself that you failed the last time you tried. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with not being ready, but you have to realize that if you have some desire to make a change, whether it be adding something good or quitting a bad habit, that there is some part of you that realizes you need to do it. You just have to find the rest of the motivation you need to really push yourself into being ready. If you’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle or quit smoking, examine the pros and cons, if you’re truly logical about them, then the pros will well outweigh the cons. If you need help thinking of a few reasons, just ask me, I can give you tons!

Tip #2– Get a support system. Anytime you’re trying to make a big change in your life, it’s important to have the support of the people in your everyday life. You have to find the kind of support that will best help you though. If you need a partner to suffer through the hard parts with you, see if you can find a running partner, or someone to count calories with. If you just need some encouragement, let your friends and family know what you’re up to and let them know how they can help, and the best type of encouragement to give you. Doing things with help is always much easier than doing things alone.

Tip #3– Don’t give up. Changing habits is hard, and that’s what most new years resolutions are about. They can be especially hard if you want to lead a healthier lifestyle by eating healthy and being more active because you are making a change in your life. Realize that it can take time. Take things slowly at first and get used to a few changes at a time. Give yourself a little slack in the beginning, but don’t let it get out of control. Just keep reminding yourself of your goal, anyone can do it, you just have to do it on your own time. Be tough on yourself, but have fun every once in a while, but ultimately stick to the plan and everything will work out in the long run. You could even blog about it if you need to… Some people (myself included sometimes) think it’s silly that I blog, but sometimes it really is helpful to reflect and share what’s going on in your life. You don’t have to post it on the internet like me, especially not as a Facebook status, but find a way to keep up with your struggles and your achievements and share them if you like.

It’s finally one day until Christmas! I can hardly believe another year has flown by so fast. I only have one more semester of actual classes and one giant test to take before I’m doing rotations in the hospital with patients. I hope all of you have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, try to stay healthy!!


2 Turtle Doves

Healthy Holiday Tip #11– Be Secretly Active
So, I’ve already talked about trying to work out more over the holidays to help compensate for all the delicious treats that you’ll be tempted to eat. Then I realized you don’t always have to go to the gym or go running to be more conscious of your physical fitness. You can do simple things in your every day routine to help burn a few extra calories. I’ve mentioned a few things like this before, but I thought this might be a good time for a reminder. Since doing Pure Barre, I’ve been catching myself doing random things to try to help tone my muscles. I’ve been tensing my abs while I wash the dishes and doing weird leg lifts while I study instead of just siting. I know it sounds strange but, sometimes things like that can help. I think I’ll just list a few of my ideas here..

-Hand wash your dishes instead of putting them in the dish washer, it’s a pretty good arm workout and it’s a nice time to clear your head

-Take the stairs instead of the elevator

-Park at the back of the parking lot and walk

-Sit up straight, it uses more of your muscles (especially if you tense your abs)

-Do triceps dips or  some sit ups while you watch TV

-Do calf raises while you read the newspaper

I think you kind of get the drift of what I mean. There are probably a million other things that you could add into your daily routine to help tone your muscles. Try to be creative and come up with small things that will slowly add to your physical activity. Anything you can do at home while you watch TV is always a great idea, maybe lift a couple light weights, or my favorite, hula hoop! Only two more days until Christmas, hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.


4 Calling Birds and 3 French Hens

I finally let the exhaustion of my test block catch up with me yesterday. I was worn out and had to run all kinds of errands before coming home to Starkville, so I skipped a post. I’ll just give you two tips and a recipe to try, hopefully that will make up for it.

Healthy Holiday Tip #9– Use Small Plates
I think I’ve mentioned this tip before, but I think it can be especially useful around the holidays. Using a smaller plate for your meals and at parties can really help with your portion control. Just so long as you don’t go back for seconds! It is possible to control yourself though, trust me. You can still try all the great food you want, you just put a little less on your plate. Then, when you’ve finished, wait 10-20 minutes before you go back for seconds (if you must). I definitely understand the desire to head back for seconds, but if you use a smaller plate and wait a few extra minutes you’ll go back for that one thing you really want another bite of instead of going back for a little bit more of everything. I use small plates at home for every meal that I eat, and I try to use them as many other places as I can.

Healthy Holiday Tip #10– Fruits and Veggies
I’ve already mentioned trying to eat healthier snacks over the holidays to make up for the extra sweet and savory foods that you’ll undoubtedly encounter, but fruits and veggies in your meals are just as important. The holidays are a big time for tradition, I know I get upset if anyone tries to mess with my holiday routine, especially the meals. When you think about it though, we usually doctor everything up with a little extra butter and a little extra salt, which probably isn’t the best idea. We also tend to eat heavier sides, like mashed potatoes and rich casseroles. I know my family will probably have some of those options, but I might try to sneak in some good ole brussels sprouts or carrots (no salt no butter) to make things just a little better. So, give it a try, keep some of your traditional holiday foods but add in some fruits or vegetables without all the extra junk on them, many people forget how good they can be on their own.

photo-68Roasted Chicken with Apples
Speaking of brussels sprouts and fruit, I just recently made a dinner that has both! I was a little skeptical of combining apples and garlic like the recipe calls for, but as usual, it was delicious. It smelled awesome too! I followed everything in the recipe on this one except I left out the nutmeg (mainly because I just didn’t want to buy it). It sill tasted good to me. The chicken doesn’t have much on it but cooking it on top of the apples gave it enough flavor, I kind of liked the chicken being a little milder. I baked my brussels sprouts this time, just sprinkled them with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and some pepper and put them in with the chicken for about 20 minutes. They were delicious too, I really love brussels sprouts. Anyway, I don’t guess I really have much else to say about that meal, except that you should try it, it was very easy and didn’t take much time to prepare. Click here if you’d like to try it.

5 Golden Rings

Healthy Holiday Tip #8– Healthy Snacks
I’ve already mentioned a few similar tips, but healthy snacks are an important part of your diet and daily routine. Most people say it’s good for you to eat three appropriate sized meals with a snack in between every day. It keeps your metabolism going and keeps you from overeating at meal times. The thing about snacking is that it can be hard to stop sometimes. That’s why it’s important to pack a snack in the proper serving size and make it healthy. I try to eat fruit, vegetables or nuts. I’ve recently started eating rice cakes too; they make a good snack when you just want something to eat because they are light and don’t have many calories. The key is to find something that you like, but not something you like so much you’ll eat a whole box at once. It’s also a good idea to be more conscious of this during the holidays to avoid all the unhealthy snacks that pop up at the office Christmas party. Better yet, jump outside the box and make a healthy treat to take to the party. Also, my tests are done and I’m officially on break for two weeks! Not setting an alarm feels awesome. I’ll be trying some new recipes to share soon as well.

6 Geese a Laying

Healthy Holiday Tip #7– Extra Exercise
If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do in the winter, especially around the holidays, is exercise. I’m much more motivated to exercise when the weather is nice and don’t feel like hibernating on the couch with a big mug of hot chocolate. I think everyone kind of uses the winter and the holidays as an excuse to put on a couple extra pounds, but we shouldn’t let ourselves do that. If anything, we should be more motivated to exercise and stay in shape so we can enjoy all those yummy holiday treats. I’ve had to get a little more creative with my winter exercise routines, like I’ve told you a million times, running outside when it’s cold just isn’t an option for me. Last year, I used my Wii to do Zumba and Just Dance, which are actually pretty good cardio workouts. They get you’re whole body moving and they’re fun! This year, I’ve tried Pure Barre and I finally broke down and gave the treadmill a try. I’ve never liked the treadmill, it’s just soooo boring. BUT, I finally came up with the bright idea of catching up on my favorite TV shows while I ran. I could run all day on that thing if I’m engrossed in my favorite shows. I haven’t been able to exercise much this week, not only because I’ve been studying like crazy, but I’ve had a cold too. I know it’s going to be hard to get back to it once I’m feeling better and I’m less busy, but I’m going to make myself do it anyway. I know that I always feel better when I’m exercising, no matter if it’s running, walking, dancing, Pure Barring, or whatever else I decide to try next. So, try to make some time for exercising this holiday season, you’ll feel healthier and you can enjoy a few extra bites of dessert. You can do it!! My week is almost over, 4 tests done, 1 to go… that means you’ll be getting some more recipes soon.

7 Swans a Swimming

Healthy Holiday Tip #6–Pack a Lunch
With five tests in four days, I feel like I barely have time to shower (you’ll be happy to know that I have been). While you may not be quite as busy as I am this week, packing a lunch is always a good idea. It gives you control over what you eat, so that you can make healthy choices. Luckily Michael picked up some turkey for me at the grocery store since I didn’t have time to go. So, I’ve been having turkey sandwiches for lunch instead of my usual salad. It’s not my ideal lunch, but it’s better than breaking down and making a trip to a fast food place or eating something greasy from the cafeteria. Plus, packing a lunch will save you some money, which means you’ll have extra money to buy christmas presents for all your friends and family. Sorry I didn’t give you a recipe yesterday or today, but I’m a little too busy with school right now. I promise I’ll be posting some more before the holidays are over though.

8 Maids a Milking

milkHoliday Tip #5– Milk, to drink or not to drink?
Speaking of maids a milking, let’s talk about milk. It’s never been one of my favorite beverages. While I enjoy other dairy products like cheese and ice cream, I’ve had a bad taste in my mouth for milk since I can remember. I only use it in cereal (when I eat it) and now that I’m an avid coffee drinker, I tend to add a few tablespoons. Over the past few years, milk has been the center of a few controversial conversations. I’m not that knowledgable about them, but I’ll tell you what I do know.

Number one, milk is a natural necessity for many mammals, but only when they are growing. Humans are the only mammals that consume milk after being weened from their mothers. Soooo, do we really need it throughout our life? That’s the controversial topic. I’ve mentioned the documentary Forks Over Knives before and they have a segment that examines both sides of the argument. There is nutritional research that shows humans don’t need to consume milk past childhood and that it can actually pose some health risks, especially since it’s pumped full of growth hormones now. On the other hand, there’s research from the dairy world that indicates milk is beneficial throughout our lives. Let’s not get into that big can of political worms though (the milk industry has a large set of lobbyist in Washington, hence, the dairy inclusion in our Healthy Plate model). You can do some research on that if you’re interested.

Number two, if you’re going to drink milk, drink skim. If you decide to go with the real deal whole milk, it’s jam packed with sugar and fat. I don’t even think I’ve ever tasted whole milk, which is probably a good thing since I’ve heard it tastes good. If I’m making something that has milk in it, that means it’s probably not the healthiest thing to eat (this usually consist of brownies, cookies, pancakes, or some sort of rich meal). When I make things like that, I try to use skim so I can cut calories and fat in every way possible. I will admit that I’ve been using 2% in my coffee, which means I use it on my cereal too, since it’s what I keep in the fridge. However, I do measure out what I put in my cereal and only use 1/4 cup, which isn’t even a full serving size. I’ve been working on cutting back to 1%, but it does make a difference in how my coffee tastes, so it’s hard.

Number three, nerd alert! I just finished my first test of the week and it just so happened to be microbiology. Guess what we’ve been learning about?? Nasty bugs, parasites, worms, and bacteria that can cause really serious diseases or seriously not fun diarrhea (too much??). Anyway, my point is that organics and unprocessed foods are trending these days. Milk is NOT something you want to drink if it’s not pasteurized, so don’t jump on that band wagon. Unpasteurized milk can contain several scary organisms that are just better left outside your GI tract, that’s why someone invented pasteurization. Thanks for that, Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard!


Photo Credit

9 Ladies Dancing

Healthy Holiday Tip #4– Drink Healthy
The holiday season is full of yummy food that you only make or can only buy once a year. It’s full of special drinks too… hot chocolate, eggnog, apple cider, holiday lattes at your favorite coffee shop, and I’m sure people manage to come up with some fancy holiday cocktails as well. No matter what your favorite holiday drink is, I thought I’d see if I could come up with some useful tips to help you be a little healthier about them. Most people don’t realize how much drinks can contribute the amount of sugar and calories we take it. I quit drinking soft drinks when I was in high school and stuck to juice and water; now, I really only drink water, sparkling water, coffee, and wine. Many people even have success in losing weight after they stop drinking soft drinks. I don’t really remember if I lost weight, but I know I never crave soft drinks and if I do happen to have one randomly, I don’t like how it makes me feel.

Anyway, more about my holiday tips… Drink more water! Everyone knows water is good for you, you have to have it, there’s no way around it. The more water you drink, the better hydrated you are and the less you want to eat when you’re bored. Putting some water in your stomach is a great way to stave off hunger when you’re just sitting at work (or studying) and looking for a reason to take a little break. Sugar free options are a great way to cut out some of those unnecessary calories and decrease your risk for diabetes in the future. Hot chocolate and apple cider mixes have sugar free options, as do many coffee shops. Next time you’re in the market for a sweet drink, just give sugar free a try; it hardly makes a difference with most things. As for the eggnog, get the low fat or no fat options. Fancy holiday cocktails might be a little more difficult to work with. They definitely make sugar free mixers that you can use and several companies have come out with “skinny” lines of drinks that are pre-made. I’d say try to stick with wine though, I don’t know if it truly has a better health profile, but that seems to be the buzz. Good luck!!

IMG_0621My First Frittata
I’ve always wanted to try and make a frittata, just because the name sounded cool. I never knew what they were before I signed up to receive recipe emails. From what I understand, it’s an egg based dish, kind of like a quiche and kind of like an open face omelet. I’ve seen several different spins on them. This one consisted of linguine noodles, mushrooms, eggs, a few seasonings, milk and cheese. I think it may have also called for leeks, but somehow that got left off my grocery list. It was pretty simple to make, not the fastest dish I’ve made, but not difficult (I thought it would be). I think I cut the recipe in half, but followed the directions exactly from there. It was really good! I added a little too much cheese to the top, so it was kind of heavy, I don’t think I ate it with a salad or anything, because it was enough on its own. It may have called for some fresh herbs, but since they aren’t very fresh right now, I just used dried. Remember, when you use dried herbs, they tend to have stronger flavor, so you don’t need as much as the recipe calls for. Click here for the recipe.

10 Lords a Leaping

Healthy Holiday Tip #3– Make Meals Ahead
Making a few meals and freezing them is a great way to save time in our busy lives, especially around the holidays. I made a couple casseroles and some chili a couple weeks ago and froze them because I knew I would be super busy. I had the chili the other night when Michael was in town. It was so convenient because we just pulled it out and defrosted it in the microwave a few minutes, then heated it on the stove and dinner was done. I’m probably going to heat up one of my casseroles tonight, which will be convenient since I’m spending all day at school studying and I’ve got some kind of cold so I don’t feel much like cooking. Most people have a favorite soup or casserole that they like to make, so just make yours this weekend when you have a few spare moments at home and freeze them. Frozen casseroles also make great Christmas presents, especially if you feel like you need to take something to a party host or maybe a poor medical student.

photo-69Chicken Spectacular and Chili
So, here’s what I made for my make ahead meals, plus the leftovers from my dinner that night. I made one recipe of the casserole, but split it into two smaller pans since I’ll be the only one eating them and I can’t exactly eat an entire casserole alone. As for the chili, I made it when I was making a taco salad for dinner so I split my ground turkey. Half of it went to the chili and half went to the dinner I was making that night. I think I’ve put the recipe for the casserole on one of my previous posts. I’ve tried a couple different chili recipes, but for this one I just used ground turkey, one can of kidney beans, one can of tomatoes, and a chili seasoning packet to make things a little easier. Use a low sodium seasoning packet and canned items to cut down on your salt intake.

11 Pipers Piping

Healthy Holiday Tip #2– Share plates with your date
The holiday season is usually jam packed with fun christmas and new years parties to attend (maybe some bowl football parties too). I don’t have very many to attend, but most of you are probably more popular than I am, so you might have several soirées on your calendar. The staples of a good holiday party are good food and good drinks (at least in my opinion). I thought it might be helpful to come up with a couple tips on how to leave the party feeling satisfied instead of miserably full. Most holiday parties have heavy (and delicious) hors d’oeuvres that you could stand around and snack on until you pass out. Instead of standing and snacking periodically, fix a plate for yourself and have your date fix a plate, then share. If you don’t have a date, always take a wingman/woman and help each other out. By sharing a plate, you can try more of the delicious options and feel like you’ve eaten more. If you and your “date” get different things on your plate, you’ll be less likely to go back for  seconds to try something you might have missed on your first trip. If you don’t have a date to go with you, like the party I’m attending solo tonight, just try your best not to get seconds and fill your plate up with the healthier options (if they exist). Healthier options that you might find at a party are vegetables, fruit, or fish. Try not go go back for things like cheese, fried treats, and heavy dips. Now, how about those desserts? They are my weakness, especially when there are lots to choose from. I’d say to try and handle them the same way. Pick two desserts and split them between you and your date, that way you’re basically getting a 2 for 1 deal. Hope you give it a try!

IMG_0620Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Arugula Salad
Here I go with another salad… I just can’t get enough of them. Most of you can probably agree that salad dressings are what makes a salad good (fresh veggie toppings do too). Many people won’t even go near lettuce unless its drenched in ranch, but that’s not exactly your healthiest option. I use a light italian dressing on my everyday lunch salads and I try to stick to the serving size so I don’t overload on unnecessary calories.  When I make a dinner salad, I use a homemade greek or balsamic. This recipe called for balsamic, which I don’t usually make as much so I was glad to find one that called for it. I don’t add any extras when I make balsamic, just olive oil and balsamic vinegar in about a 1.5 to 1 ratio (usually 2 tbsp olive oil and 1.5 of balsamic for and individual salad). This salad was pretty simple, it called for several of my favorite salad toppings–feta, tomatoes and red onion. I didn’t grill the chicken since I was only making one piece, but I don’t think it made much difference in the final product. This was a great dinner salad for me, but would make a great lunch as well. Just make sure you try to stick to serving sizes with your dressing and cheese. Click here for the recipe and enjoy!