Winter is here, and baby, it’s cold outside! Everyone enjoys a cup of something warm but you know the drill–most of the time, these things are calorie bombs in a cup! So how do we navigate this desire for warm beverages vs. the stuff out there that will pack on the pounds and make your thighs expand?
Let’s start with some tea, shall we? Is anyone out there a tea drinker? I have English bones, and was raised in a regular tea-sipping home. The only challenge with tea is that it’s hard to break the English tea habit of adding milk or sugar. But I’ve come across a tea that doesn’t need a thing. Good Earth is the brand and the tea that I especially love is the original Sweet and Spicy. It’s a deep red color, with a rich cinnamon taste with sweet tones, leaving the drinker’s tongue infatuated with flavor and subtle sweetness. Give it a try, it’s low in the calorie department and tastes like Christmas in a cup!
For an occasional treat, like after you go cross country skiing or other winter sport (think TREAT!) you can make your own drinks that you would usually buy mixes for: hot chocolate for example.
Hot chocolate is especially easy to make. All you need is unsweetened cocoa baking powder, sugar to taste (be mindful or use a little xylitol insted), a splash of vanilla extract, and a cup of hot milk. In measuring out your own ingredients you don’t have to worry as much about any mysterious additives that tend to increase that calorie count we’re all so cautious of.
Or you can use this Paleo Hot Chocolate recipe, but remember this is a TREAT, not something to drink all the time:
Paleo Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 to 3 tablespoons raw honey (to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat almond milk over medium high heat. Remove from heat before milk boils. Whisk remaining ingredients together with milk and voila! Add a dash of cinnamon if you’re an adventurous cocoa consumer 😉
For More Fun Winter Sips, try these:
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Anti-Inflammatory Magical Midas Milk
Paleo Cocoa and Coconut Whipped Cream
Paleo Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Is it just me or is it easier to remember to drink your water in the summer?
Just because the temperatures have dropped, doesn’t mean your water intake can take a dip, too. Our hydration needs don’t change much in the winter months–our body functions still need water to make it function optimally.
In warm or cold weather, your body loses water the same way– through sweating, breathing and urinating. Whether you’re inside or outside, summer or winter, you’re losing water the same way and you need to hydrate the same way by making sure you’re drinking water. Exercise is an important way to not only stay fit, but detoxify your body though sweating. Replenishing your body with water after a workout is essential to restoring balance.
We are all different and have different activity levels, so the best real gauge of your own hydration status is your individual output. Hold on to your water here… this might get gross, but it’s important to know.
When you go to the bathroom, yellow urine means you need to drink more water, whereas clear or light yellow urine means you are well hydrated. Signs of dehydration are pretty easy to identify. Be aware of your body and catch them quickly. If you feel thirsty, have dry mouth, are light-headed, can’t focus well, feel tired or notice your skin is dry, then you need to drink more water.
Today we’re not talking about food. Don’t worry— as we approach the holidays, there’s going to be plenty of food talk. But, there’s more to the holidays than food . . . like the decorations! And I don’t know about you, but factory-made plastic doesn’t really say Christmas to me.
Now, we all have our favorite holiday ornaments and trinkets that we take out every year, but it’s also nice to get outside and forage for beautiful (free) stuff to decorate with. This is a great thing to do with kids, by the way! Much nicer to take them outside to scavenge for decorations than to haul them through crazy lineups at those big-box stores for more stuff that’s going to eventually end up in a landfill.
If you haven’t foraged for holiday decorations before, you’re going to love this. No matter where you live, I’m sure you’ll be able to find some great free stuff right outside your front door (or at least not too far away!).
The following are some decorative items you may have right outside your home that won’t cost you a penny:
1. Pine cones. Pine cones look perfectly festive without any adornment at all, though some enjoy dipping them in glitter or spraying them with fake snow. Tie them from the Christmas tree or use as a centerpiece. Use your imagination!
2. Fresh tree boughs. Take some branches from the cedar, pine, or fir trees growing in your yard. This is the time to bring them inside so they’re fresh for Christmas. You can use these for garlands, wreaths, swags . . . whatever you like! Pound the cut ends with a hammer—they’ll absorb more water this way. Then, soak them overnight in the tub to allow them to become as hydrated as possible.
3. Twigs. Twigs and boughs look beautiful with cut flowers, so look around for a perfect collection of twigs and slender branches. Again, you can keep them au natural or dip them in glitter.
4. Bark and moss. Birch bark is gorgeous, and I’m sure you’ll find a use for it. If you can find some moss, bring it in and use it to top the soil in your potted plants. This will make them look all dressed up for the holidays.
Look around and see if there are some dried flowers in the yard. If you dried your hydrangeas this fall, now would be the time to take them out and put them on display!
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a holly bush in the garden! Or some bayberry bushes—those will smell wonderful in the house! Search for items that look and smell beautiful and haul them inside. (Caution: Do be careful with bringing berries inside if you have pets—some varieties of berries (including holly) are poisonous to dogs and cats.)
Dust off your large garden urns and start putting some arrangements together! If you have no urns, buckets wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine will do just fine.
Safety tip: No candles in the twigs and bark, okay? If you want to add lights to your fresh greens, use LED—they’re not as hot as the older style lights.
Looking for homemade holiday meal and gift ideas? Check out our Holiday Bundle featuring our Home-Baked Holiday Mailer, Holiday Gift Giving Jars, The 12 Cookies of Christmas, and Holiday Treats!
Cookies, cocktails, cheese and hors d’oeuvres. There’s temptation at every turn during the holidays, but even though it’s tough to stay on track, it’s certainly not impossible.
As far as I’m concerned, the toughest part of the holidays when you’re trying to stay healthy and trim is all those potlucks and Christmas parties.
I find one of the best ways to avoid eating all of those rich foods is to bring my own lighter options along with me. Whether it’s a cocktail party or a big family potluck, I bring dishes that fit my own personal lifestyle so that I know there will be something there I can eat. It also helps to encourage nutrition among fellow party-goers. And really, it’s helpful for other guests who are in the same healthy eating boat.
Now, use your own common sense here, folks. If you’re invited to a business function or a more formal event where bringing along food would be considered uncouth, then stick to the lighter options and indulge in one or two dishes that you REALLY feel will be worth the calorie splurge.
But, if it’s a casual family get-together or a house party, the host or hostess will probably appreciate your contribution.
Here are some great healthy ideas to bring to a potluck or cocktail party:
- Fruit tray
- Veggie tray
- Shrimp ring
- Meat and cheese platter
- Deviled eggs
- Bacon-wrapped dates
- Bacon-wrapped scallops
- Bacon-wrapped anything!
- Chicken wings
- Roasted chickpeas
- Stuffed mushroom caps
The holidays are bearing down on us, and while this is a wonderful time of year for a good segment of the population, there are a lot of folks who find it difficult to cope with the hustle and bustle.
During the month of December, many people run around trying to do too much, spending more money than they should. The stress can start to take its toll!
For a lot of people, depression creeps in around the same time as the holidays. Maybe because of the stress of the holidays, maybe because the holidays aren’t particularly joyous for some reason or other or maybe because there isn’t as much sunlight as we need to get our feel good hormones. (This lack of sunlight leads to something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and affects roughly 5% of Americans.)
Now, if you’re feeling depressed, I would suggest you make an appointment with your doctor. Depending on the state of mind you’re in, you may be prescribed vitamin therapy, counseling and/or some sort of pharmaceuticals to help you out a bit.
When you’re feeling sad, it’s natural to reach for sugary foods that tell our brains we’re happy, but of course that’s not a great strategy, because once that “sugar rush” wears off, you end up feeling worse than you did before.
There are some foods you can start adding to your diet in the meantime that are known for their feel good effect on the body. Heck, whether you’re feeling blue or not, we could all use a pick-me-up, am I right?
The following tips may help you feel a little bit happier:
- Ensure every meal contains complex carb-rich foods. Complex carbs perk up your brain’s energy center. Reach for healthy sources of carbs like squash, dark leafy greens, blueberries and dark-colored fruits. Make sure every meal has extra servings of these good sources of carbs.
- Increase your intake of Vitamin B6. Low levels of Vitamin B6 may cause mild depression. Eat lots of fish, bananas, chicken, dark green veggies, and avocado to boost up your intake.
- Eat two servings of folic-acid rich foods per day. Folate (folic acid) is also important to get more of when you’re feeling blue. Pile your plate high with broccoli, spinach or chard.
- Eat fish. Mackerel contains fabulous acids that can elevate your mood.
- Add Greek yogurt to your daily diet. The amino acids in yogurt help to regulate your stress hormones. But don’t eat the sweetened stuff! Plain only!
In addition to these dietary suggestions, you might also want to add some exercise to your daily routine. The world always looks a little bit better after a walk in the fresh air.
Can you feel the crispness in the fall air? The leaves are changing. The nights are colder. It’s sweater weather. It’s harvest time. I love this time of year. It’s finally cool enough to do some serious cooking without worrying about heating up your kitchen and the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables has never been better.
Let’s focus a bit on those fruits. Although they are great to eat just as Mother Nature created them, there are lots we can do to add some kick to our traditional meals as well. Have you ever tried chicken with apricots? How about pork chops with honey and apples? And adding an assortment of berries when roasting meats is simply divine!
Try baking up some of those apples. Just remove the core then add some raisins, a little honey and cinnamon in the empty space. Bake for thirty minutes at 350 degrees. YUM! And just think of all the calories you just saved yourself by skipping the traditional apple pie (save that for Thanksgiving).
Another fun way to serve up your fruitful bounty is in a Fall Fruit Salad. I’ve included a recipe for you below but feel free to get creative with this one. Add or subtract fruits to your heart’s content. For a flavor that is more tart try adding some dried cranberries. You can add some extra crunch with a few almonds or even chopped celery. There’s no limit to the fun you can have with your fall fruit.
Fall Fruit Salad
In a large bowl, combine the apple, pear, peach and grapes.
Toss with yogurt and chill.
Stir in the walnuts just before serving so the walnuts will maintain their crunch. You can also garnish this with mint if desired.