Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My kids devoured this, not even knowing it was squash and spinach.

Once you have the sauce prepared, it comes together quickly. You can make a large batch of the Butternut Garlic Sauce and freeze for future use.

Spinach Butternut Squash Lasagna

(Serves about 10-12)


Olive oil for drizzling
1 ¼ lb ground turkey or lean ground beef
½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tsp chopped, fresh sage leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
12 whole grain lasagna noodles, cooked
4 cups fresh, baby spinach leaves chopped
3-4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


-Preheat the oven to 350 and have a 12”x 10”x 2” (roughly) baking dish on hand.

-Place a large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat, add 2 Tbsp oil, add the meat into the pan next, add in the Italian seasoning, the salt, pepper and the garlic and stir to incorporate. Cook meat for a few minutes until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh sage. Set aside to cool.

-To assemble the lasagna, add about 1 cup of the Butternut Sauce (recipe below) to the bottom of the baking dish. Next, add a row of cooked lasagna noodles over the sauce and then add another 1 cup of the sauce over top of the noodles. Next, add about half of the cooked meat, followed by 2 cups of the baby spinach leaves. Then sprinkle over about 1 cup worth of the mozzarella cheese, repeat the layering process. Finish the lasagna by adding the remaining lasagna noodles and the remaining sauce over top. Next, smooth sauce over the noodles and finish by sprinkling the remaining 1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese over the top. Add the remaining ½ tsp of Italian seasoning over the cheese. Place the lasagna into the oven and bake for roughy 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly golden. Serve while hot!

Creamy, Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Sauce


(Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated and/or frozen)

Olive oil for drizzling
3 heads garlic roasted
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
4 lbs butternut squash
1 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
1 ½ cups low sodium chicken stock, warm
1 ½ cups low fat milk, warm
4 ounces low fat cream cheese, warm
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese


-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

-Slice butternut squash in half, remove seeds and baste with olive oil and pinch of salt. Turn face down on baking sheet. Toss garlic heads in oil, pinch of salt, then wrap in foil and place along side butternut squash. Roast along side for about 30-35 minutes or until a fork can be inserted into the squash. Remove from the oven and allow squash and garlic to cool slightly. Peel skin from squash and discard skin. Place 1/3 of squash and 1/3 of garlic into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Place puree into a large pot. Repeat steps with remaining squash and garlic. *Note- you may need to add 1/2 cup of chicken stock to blender if puree is too thick.

-Place the pot with the puree on low heat, add in (remaining) chicken stock and milk, stir to incorporate. Next, add cream cheese, parmesan, the remaining 1 tsp of salt and stir to combine until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Use immediately or refrigerate/freeze.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

“Save your pennies” was a phrase commonly heard in my house growing up. “If you want it badly enough, you’ll need to use YOUR money.” It made me stop and think how long it would take to earn that money or is the wanted item/s really what I wanted.

Whether on the radio, watching TV or on the Internet, we are inundated with advertisements for things we just have to have: the newest electronics, the latest fashions and coolest toys.

It is hard to push aside the common desire for immediate gratification and pleasing others through “things”. In an era of credit cards, we don’t often “feel it” until the bill comes. When we give into impulse spending and overspending, what message are we giving our children and reinforcing in ourselves?

“The worst aspect of overspending at Christmas is that it can educate children to expect funding from their parents, at the cost of real love. There is a term in psychology about creating 'hungry children'. The child says: 'Can I have...?' and you give them what they ask for. But, instead of satisfying them, you create a hunger in them. You can't feed them enough." Dr. Michael Carroll: Bristol University.

I get excited when I see a good deal. I love finding a great bargain, paired with a coupon, and a rebate (utilize rebate and coupon apps!). How much do I really need? Ask yourself, “do I/they really NEED it?”

Making an impulse purchase is like taking a bite of a favorite food. We indulge and savor the flavors, but when the excitement is over, we look for something else to bring back the “high”. Repeated spending doesn’t bring lasting happiness, just a cycle that potentially leads to unwanted debt and stress.

Here are 5 ways to make healthy spending choices during the holidays:

1. Set a realistic budget and keep a finance sheet: Don’t try to “keep up with the Jones”. Try a cash only budget vs. using a card. Track all purchases so you can monitor your spending.

2. Service project or donate gifts: Choose to donate some of your budget to buying gifts or doing service for others. This turns the focus from “what do I get” to “what can I give”.

3. Make your gifts: The internet is full of $10 and under DIY gifts. We love giving “service” coupons in my family (i.e. “coupon–good for a foot massage.”).

4. Clean house and avoid impulse buys: For each item you plan to purchase or bring home, donate two items to charity. Don’t bring it home just because it’s a good deal.

5. Make a list of needs vs. wants: Make lists with your children with wants and needs, then, as a parent, decide the number of gifts each will receive.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Whether it is decorating the tree, caroling, snow shoeing or preparing delectable truffles, ‘tis the season of traditions.

Take a minute and think of your fondest memories of the holidays. How many are connected with food? You will likely have one column that’s food related and one for “other”.  I would dare guess the majority of our holiday traditions and memories fall under the “food” column.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just might explain the average American’s holiday weight gain of 5-10 pounds.

The holidays typically combine meals with family & friends. However, there are many traditions unrelated to food that can bring together your loved ones. I love warm apple pie with ice cream as much as the next, but I really don’t want my holidays to be all about food. There needs to be a balance.

My family is still fairly young (kids ranging from 1 to 8 years old). I have a friend, in a similar season of life, ask me what traditions we have as a family. I had to stop and think. During Halloween, we carve pumpkins. When it’s Thanksgiving season, we have a “Thankful Tree” (write notes, with things we are thankful for, and tie them on a tree/house plant). Our Christmas includes sledding, seeing Christmas lights downtown and the 12 days of Christmas for a neighbor.  I then thought back to what my family did growing up. One of my fondest memories was serving Thanksgiving to the homeless. My mom has the tradition, when grandkids sleep over, she reads stories to them while having a “campout” by the Christmas tree.

I set a goal to increase healthy yet memorable traditions. I look at it as recreating tradition. The Internet is full of ideas simple to ornate. I did not want this to be a “mom is making us” type of activity.  I pulled a few ideas that would fit our budget, age range and abilities, then let the kids vote. It’s amazing how quickly kids get on board when they feel it was their idea.

Here are some possible ideas:

o   Cut down your own Christmas tree.
o   Make homemade ornaments.
o   Go caroling.
o   Volunteer at a charity, nursing home, hospital or shelter.
o   Sign the family up for a holiday 5-K walk/run.

I would love to hear what other non-food holiday traditions you have with your family. Please share in the comment section below.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Last post we talked about how to control the “Candy Monsters” leading up to and on Halloween.  We know we would be better off without the sweet treats.  I’ll be the first to confess, it’s a hard thing to limit. 

Now that Halloween is over…... 

Here are 5 ways to help you and your kids get rid of Halloween candy:
1.    “Halloween Candy buy back”- find a dentist in your area who takes it off your hands or some organizations will ship it to troops overseas.
2.    Donate the candy to your local food bank or nonprofit organizations.
3.    Create some candy crafts like gluing candy corns on a frame or wreath. I dare say that once it has glue on it, it’s not so tempting.
4.    Save the candy for Santa trains or gingerbread houses. We have a tradition in our family to make Santa trains. The candy bars are the train cars, licorice for the tracks and lifesavers for wheels.  It becomes a great neighbor gift. We leave the candy wrapped (if the candy will tempt you, hide out of site until ready to use).
5.    If you’re still worried about a possible meltdown with the little ones,     here’s an idea created by a mom for her daughter. (By Jana S.
The Switch Witch
Have you heard of the Switch Witch
who loves Halloween?
She comes for the leftover candy
after trick-or-treating!

She's the nicest - but sneakiest -
witch of her kind,
she swipes up candies and sweets
and leaves presents behind!

She swoops from doorstep to doorstep
on a long violet broom -
her black cat rides on the back
since there's plenty of room.

She keeps all her magic
in her tall skinny hat.
She trades you - and then - she flies off!
Just like that!

So take your leftover candy
- set it out by the door
and in the morning you'll find
what she traded you for!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

Orriant Mommy Blogger guarantees a happy family with this recipe........

1 medium onion, diced (any color)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bell pepper, diced
1-2 jalapenos, minced
20 ounces ground turkey breast
8 ounces mushrooms, minced (about 2 heaping cups)
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes (yams work too)
1 28 ounce can tomatoes (not drained)
2 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
32 ounces beef broth (one box/carton)
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and jalapenos. Saute for about 5 minutes, until veggies are tender and fragrant. Add to large soup pot or slow cooker

In same skillet, heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Add turkey and mushrooms and stir to combine. Sprinkle in cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, chili powder and smoked paprika. (note: the meat will taste very seasoned when done. Keep in mind these seasonings are not to flavor just the meat, they will season the entire pot of chili, so they are intentionally strong!) Add turkey mixture to slow cooker/soup pot

Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans, broth, pumpkin, cinnamon, and cocoa powder to pot and stir until combined. Place lid on pot and cook for 4-6 hours on high, or 8-10 on low. The important thing to note is if the sweet potatoes are tender, then the soup should be done.

When done, turn off heat and let chili sit with lid off for 10-15 minutes to thicken. Season with additional salt to taste before serving. If desired, serve with sour cream, sliced avocados, and a small squirt of fresh lime juice, and any other toppings desired.

Yields: About 4 quarts (16 cups)

Nutritional Information (per 1 cup plain chili): calories: 160, protein: 14 grams, carb: 25 grams, fat 1.5 grams. Add 2 tablespoons light sour cream and 2 slices avocado for an additional 80 calories.

(Adapted from Recipe by Our Best Bites)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Did you know Halloween originally did not include candy?  Candy didn’t become part of the Halloween tradition until the late 1950’s. In the 1940’s, Halloween took on popularity when parents started dressing up their children as “little monsters” and ringing doorbells. Initially, fruit, coins and even toys were the treasures handed to little hands. As time passed, candy companies saw the opportunity to market their candy for the spooky holiday.

An estimated 600 million pounds of Halloween candy is purchased in the U.S. each year – that's an average of about two pounds of candy per person. (

Starting as early as August, stores seem to magically fill with bags and bags of the gooey chocolates or slobbery suckers. Each direction we look we see colorful bags of the sweet treats. Some are easy to stroll past, others catch us in our step and our thoughts become preoccupied on the flavor or salivate over the thought of indulging. Why is it that some are easy to pass up, and others cause a “hunger monster” to growl within us?

To find some answers, we can look at the effect that sugar has on our brains. When sugar is combined with fat, it can release “feel-good hormones” and actually stimulates areas of the brain, also affected by addictive drugs. We also see patterns, do to habit. After all, it’s Halloween, candy and the holiday go hand in hand, so we must eat. This holiday only comes once a year. To those habits, I say let’s create new habits, new traditions, a healthier focus.

This Halloween, you may be trying to fight the candy craving monster inside of you. Here are some tips to control the Candy Monsters in us all:

1.    Healthy in sight - Keep fresh produce on the counter. Focus each day on what you want to include more of rather than not eating candy, especially more fruits and vegetables. Often when we focus on NOT having something, we want it more.
2.    Salads - Try to consume at least 2 dark leafy salads a day. This will help provide the most protein per calorie and give nutrients that fight off the “withdrawl” symptoms of not having sugary and packaged foods.
3.    Procrastinate buying - If you are going to purchase candy, wait until the day before Halloween and buy a kind you don’t like.
4.    Keep the candy in an inconvenient place – Try the garage, a basement closet! Somewhere you have to go out of your way to access it.
5.    Do the math - How much money do you spend on candy? What other area of finances could that be better utilized?
6.    Plan ahead - If you’re headed out with the little monsters, pack a healthy snack like trail mix or an apple in your pocket. If you feel the “monster” trying to escape, eat up!
7.    Try something new and hand out non-candy treats.
a.    Pencils, erasers, spider rings, glow sticks, bouncy balls, etc. Dollar and discount stores can be a great place to find these items.
b.    Some grocery stores will let you buy “coupons” (using candy as money) for donuts.  At a later date, your child can go to the store and redeem their coupon.
c.    Clementine pumpkins - Draw jack-o-lantern faces on clementine oranges.

My kids are still little and need a bit of help in moderating their candy intake. I let my children eat what they want while out trick or treating. Often they are too busy running to think about stopping to eat the treat. Then when we get home, they get to choose 1 candy to eat. At that point, the remaining candy goes into a community pot and placed out of sight.
But what do you do if your kids are used to consuming the candy all in one night, or week?

1.    Talk to your kids before Halloween and make a plan. Talk about the pros and cons of the candy and let them be part of the candy rules.
2.    Make sure to have a healthy snack/meal before heading out to trick or treat.
3.    Take healthy snacks so if hunger presents itself, they have a healthier choice.
4.    Offer to buy the candy from your kids. It’s amazing how they may prefer cash over candy.
5.    Let your kids “trade in” the candy for a book or toy.

Whether young or old, the sugar “addiction” in the brain can be very real. Begin now, don’t wait until the candy is upon you and the signs of the monster are near.  Make a “plan of attack” to keep those monster appetites at bay. Decide NOW how much candy you’ll allow yourself and your kids to consume. Decide NOW to have healthy food options on the counter, in the fridge. Establish the right mindset that will keep those Candy Monsters from invading your home this Halloween.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fun Ways To Teach Your Kids About Healthy Eating

What memories do you have of helping in the kitchen? Perhaps baking fresh bread, soaking beans, canning, making cookies or even licking cake batter off the beaters. With hectic schedules and what seem to be busier lives, some of those memories might seem too hard to recreate. Don’t give up on making those memories! With the right planning, it can happen.

As we embark on a new school year, I’d like to finish out the Summer with 10 tips to involve children in the kitchen. With the goal to help them better understand healthy food choices and get involved in the decision process.

Here are some ideas on how to draw our children into the kitchen for learning and participation in their own nutritional health. The key is “hands on” experience!

1. Eat meals with your children. Even a few meals a week.

“When families dine together, they tend to eat more vegetables and fruits -- and fewer fried foods, soda, and foods with trans fats, research shows. When younger kids frequently eat dinner with their families, they are less likely to be overweight than other children.” (

2. Let each child choose a dinner meal for the week. If possible, let them grocery shop with you for the needed ingredients.

3. Assign meal preparation to those old enough, anything from the side dish to the main course. Keep a list of meals and assignments on a white board or paper where everyone can see it.

4. Make healthy snacks, make-ahead dinners and breakfasts together. If you need lunches for on the go, pack and plan the lunches together. Think outside the “box”, something different from the traditional sandwich.

5. Assign a child to be in charge of keeping the fruit bowl stocked and accessible on the counter.

6. Find fun science experiments that involve food: growing avocados, onions, and sprouts in a cup.

7. Each week or month, set a family goal for improving eating habits during that time. Make it a challenge and have a prize for the winner.

8. Place a fact sheet about fruits and vegetables on the fridge or kitchen door. It helps kids learn the nutrition facts about the foods they are eating.

9. Assign children to set and clear the table. As they see the healthy foods placed on the table, they learn how to create a balanced meal.

10. Grow a garden! Let children be responsible for planting, watering and harvesting the produce. It is exciting to eat something you have worked hard for and watched grow.

“If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food.”
Erick McAdams

Friday, August 1, 2014

Healthy, Mouth Watering Egg Salad

Orriant Mommy Blogger, Emily, shares her favorite, healthy egg salad recipe:

2 large eggs, hard boiled, chopped fine
1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
1 dill pickle spear, chopped fine
1 tsp. yellow mustard
Salt, pepper, paprika, or other seasonings to taste
Any other veggies you want (onion, cabbage, etc.) chopped fine

Stir together all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Serve on a slice of whole wheat bread or use a spinach tortilla to make a wrap. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 88 calories, 2g carbs, 5g fat, 9g protein

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Perfectionism is your “Frenemy”

Here are 5 ways to best utilize your perfectionism:

A Critical Eye
Perfectionists are known for being aware of every tiny detail, including every little mistake. While this can lead to feelings of failure and disappointment, use this to be aware of ways to improve. As you continue to work toward your goals, you will always be aware of the next step, in order to continue seeing progress and achievement. With a little patience, you will more easily see how to continue moving forward.

Pulled Toward Goals
If you are a perfectionist, it is likely you are very self-motivated toward your goals. You are pulled to them rather than pushed. Once you have decided to achieve something, you do not need someone telling you to do it. This is not a common characteristic, so use this momentum to your advantage.  Choose goals that are truly important and you will find you are more likely to achieve them.

High Standards and Expectations
Some may say perfectionists set impractical standards and expectations for themselves, which can lead (again) to feelings of disappointment and frustration. Do not be afraid to set high goals – as long as you are aware of what is truly realistic. It may take more time, energy and dedication but if you are willing to put in the work, you will reach the objective.

Focus on the End Goal
Perfectionists tend to be so wrapped up in where they are going, that it does not matter what happens in the process. If they do not see the finish line coming closer, they tend to give up, not realizing the lessons to be learned along the way. Maybe you did not lose 8 pounds this month, but you did lose 3 pounds, and you learned how to eat a little bit better with new recipes. Learn to take in the small victories as you continue working toward your great achievement.

All or Nothing
As previously mentioned, perfectionists are easily discouraged by unmet goals. If their ultimate goal is not within reach, all efforts are often thrown to the dogs and failure is declared. Perfectionists are their own harshest critics, so learn to be kind to you. Practice positive self-talk, and surround yourself with a support system that will help you pick yourself up, dust off and continue working. This is not an all or nothing game. There will be set backs but there will also be successes. 

There is a lot of strength and potential in being a perfectionist. Learn to harness those skills readily available to you, and your goals will become that much more obtainable. Now go get 'em! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Go On Vacation And Bring Back Memories, Not LBS.

Summer time is perfect for those family vacations and weekend get-aways with friends. However, these trips can be the culprit of some unwanted weight gain that is avoidable. Try these 5 ways to keep from packing on the LBS and still enjoy your vacation:

1. Make Smarter Meal Choices - One of the biggest problems vacation-goers stumble upon is eating out every day. In many cases this is unavoidable, but that does not mean you are completely at a loss when it comes to your nutrition. Consider making healthier selections while eating out, such as ordering a side salad, instead of fries. You can also split meals, which will save dollars, as well as calories. If you do have access to a fridge or kitchen, consider having at least one meal per day in your hotel room. Find a convenience store and fill your fridge with nutrient dense foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grain snacks.

2. Carry Water – If you are being more active (as tourists tend to be), you will want to make sure you always have a water bottle. This will help you stay well hydrated and stave off those hunger pains that are really your body just begging for water. Not only will this help cut down on excess calories, but you will also have more energy to keep up on fun adventures.

3. Make Alternative Transportation Choices - One great way to get in a lot of extra activity, as well as explore in a way you would not otherwise, is to avoid taking cabs or public transportation. Often times, large cities are pedestrian friendly and many have bicycles available for rent, at hourly fees. Plan your activities for the day based on what is close to one another, so you can easily travel without requiring an automobile.

4. Take Advantage of Amenities - Many hotels and resorts have on-site exercise rooms with at least a couple of exercise machines. Take advantage of them! Make the time to get in a quick workout before you leave for the day. Just because you are on vacation does not mean you need to skip a beat on your workout regimen.

5. Plan an Active Vacation - This seems like the simplest answer, right? If you want to make sure you avoid weight gain on vacation, plan accordingly. Design trips that require you to do a lot of walking, offer activities such as hiking, skiing, camping, swimming, or even scuba diving. While relaxing vacations do have their time and place, you can recharge your batteries by planning a vacation that lets you experience activities, not available in your home town.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Make Summer Treats Tasty And Nutritious

My last post was about how to instill in your kids the importance of eating healthy for health, not appearance. Since it is Summer time, I have a great way to introduce kids to a variety of fruit and vegetable flavors. Help them to see that eating healthy is CREATIVE and FUN!

You have probably made fruit smoothies as a quick to go breakfast option. Have you ever thought about pouring that into some popsicle molds for a refreshing treat?

I found my popsicle molds at a discount store, online and in the seasonal aisle at the grocery store. They come in all shapes and sizes. Recently, I discovered some silicone molds that act like "push pops" and reusable BPA free zip pouches (like "Otter Pops").  If you don't want to invest in molds, you can use ice cube trays and insert traditional popsicle sticks.

I typically just add a little of this, a little of that to our smoothies, including spinach, kale, various fruits, and sometimes a little plain yogurt for a creamier treat. When our produce is just about to turn, or showing signs of "hurry eat me before I'm too old", I'll cut them up and put them in freezer bags. Then, they are ready to toss into the blender.

My kids have fun pouring the mixture into the molds, then even more excited a couple hours later when they can enjoy the treat. I feel a lot better knowing they are getting quality nutrients versus the high sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients of the store bought popsicles.
Here is a recipe I found to utilize the fruit and vegetable combination:
Strawberry Spinach Pops
Ingredients (Makes 6, five inch long popsicles):
·      1 ½  cups of spinach
·      1 kiwi
·      2 ½ cups of frozen strawberries
·      1 frozen ripe banana
·      ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
·      ½ cup water
Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and let set in the freezer for 3 hours. Insert popsicle sticks into each mold, and let set for an additional 4 hours, or until completely frozen. Take one on the next sunny day, and enjoy this sweet treat!

Nutritional information, per 1 popsicle:
55 calories, .4 g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 18 mg sodium, 14g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 7g sugar, 1g protein

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Honey, I'm headed to the gym (aka the living room)."

Whether you love it or hate it, the gym is a great place to get in a good sweat session and burn some calories. Although, the expense and travel time required to use a gym may be reasons keeping you from getting in your workout.

 Here are 5 fun ways to turn regular household objects into your own personal gym equipment.

Chairs: These can used to help maintain balance while doing squats, leg swings or lunges. They can also be used to hold onto for tricep dips. Be careful not to dip below a 90 degree angle for joint safety.

Cans of food, bottles of water, milk/juice jugs: All of these can serve as free weights! The best part is, you most likely have a few of these items already, giving you a range of weights. If you need more of a challenge, try filling an empty bottle or jug with sand for added weight. A gallon jug of sand weighs about 30 lbs.

Tables/Counters: Depending on the height of the table, these can also be used for tricep dips. Regardless of the height, tables and counters work great for push-ups. Make sure you keep your abdominals tight and your belly button pulled back toward your spine throughout the move.

Towels: While holding one end of a towel in each hand, put your arms over your head and pull as hard as you can in opposite directions and hold it. Maintain for several seconds and repeat. This will help build muscles in your arms and shoulders. Towels can also be used to help you stretch at the end of your workout - wrap them around your calf, ankle or foot, and pull toward you for a deeper stretch.

Walls, Stairs and Door Frames: Don’t forget the house itself! You can do wall sits, and walk or hop up and down stairs to work your lower body. Also, try standing in the center of a door frame, place your hands on either side of you, pushing on the frame. Push and hold at intervals for an upper body workout. Make your house work for you!

Getting in a great workout does not have to be time consuming or expensive. Get creative and look for ways you can turn everyday household items into your new favorite workout equipment. These tips also come in handy if you are traveling and want to get in a workout, without leaving your hotel room.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The secret of change....

What can you do to make change a reality?

- Start Small: The worst thing you can do when trying to make a big change in your life is biting off more than you can chew. This can lead to feelings of failure, disappointment and a lack of motivation to persist.

- Write Down Your Motivations: If you know why you are making a change, it is a lot easier to do the hard work to see the results. These can also serve as reminders when it gets tough to continue (because it will!) and help you to persevere.

- Pick Milestones: By picking smaller goals, you can make incremental progress and see how you are moving towards your ultimate achievement. Before you know it, you are well on our way to seeing the big change become a reality.

- Be Consistent: It is often said it takes 21 days to create a new habit or to break a bad one. Pack Your Persistence! As you power through and dedicate your efforts to making changes, that are important to you, you will find they become habit, even second nature. The longer you are consistent, the easier it will be to sustain.

- Be Patient with Yourself: Nobody has ever said change is easy, and if they did, they are lying. It is possible making a new change will be something you have to work at, so don’t be hard on yourself when progress does not come at the pace you have envisioned. If you fall short, keep going! As long as you are striving to move forward, progress will happen.

Change may be difficult, challenging and even scary. However, you have it within you to achieve the impossible. In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “Nothing is impossible.  The word says I’m possible.”

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Your Vitamin Dictionary

Which vitamins do what? What foods can you eat that have those important nutrients? Here is a breakdown of common vitamins and their food sources:

Vitamin A: This is essential for healthy eyes, skin and immune system.
Sources: Sweet potatoes, carrots, liver, eggs, milk, cantaloupe, peppers, herring, mangoes, broccoli.

Vitamin B-1 (Thiamin): This assists with converting carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy sources. B-1 is also necessary for healthy heart and nervous system.
Sources: Lean meats, whole grains, oysters, green peas, broccoli, soy foods.       

Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin): This is important for growth development, producing red blood cells, and also breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Sources: Meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, dairy products, green veggies - asparagus and spinach.   

Vitamin B-3 (Niacin): This is necessary for the release of energy from carbohydrates. Niacin is also needed for healthy skin, creation of red blood cells and some hormones.
Sources: Meat, poultry and fish.

Vitamin B-6: This is required for proper brain and nervous system functions. It assists in breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats. B-6 helps to break down amino acids - the building blocks of proteins.
Sources: Potatoes, bananas, beans, seeds, nuts, red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, spinach, pork, oats, whole wheat products.

Vitamin B-9 (Folate): This is needed to make DNA and produce blood cells. Also, B-9 is essential for healthy pregnancies.
            Sources: Liver, yeast, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, orange juice and legumes.

Vitamin B-12: This is helpful with processing of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is also necessary for nervous system health.
Sources: Meat, poultry, fish, milk, dairy products and eggs.

Vitamin C: This is well known for being essential for healthy bones, teeth and gums. Also, it helps with the production of collagen in cells, wound healing, brain function and healthy blood vessels.
Sources: Citrus fruits and juices like oranges, papaya, honeydew, guava, pomelo, and broccoli, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, snow peas, cauliflower, leafy greens such spinach, kai lan, chye sim, bok choy.

Vitamin D: This assists the body to absorb calcium to create strong bones.
Sources: Sunlight! Your body is able to manufacture Vitamin D on its own. Food sources include fortified milk, margarine, eggs and butter.

Vitamin E: This helps to protect the cells and Vitamin A in the body from damage. Also, it is necessary for healthy red blood cells.
Sources: Vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, avocados, wheat germ, and  whole grains.

Vitamin K: Helps to regulate blood clotting.
            Sources: Sunlight, fortified milk, margarine, eggs and butter.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Who is right…TV, Social Media, or Mom?

 Orriant Mommy Blogger, Emily, talks about communicating with your kids, who are being attacked by society’s mixed messages.

I have been pondering a lot lately about communication between my children and me. I joke that, as parents, we can't wait for them to talk, then wish they would give a few minutes of silence, then once teenagers, we are back to wishing they would talk to us again.

Although my children are still young, I worry what messages I send them through my words. Am I encouraging? Do I help them to see their potential and instill confidence? Am I teaching them, not just by words, but by what they see me do? I don't think most parents purposefully say things to hurt a child. We ultimately want what is best for them.

How do we balance what we say against the influence that society provides? Especially, it's perspective of body image, comparisons, purpose for eating healthy, exercise, or “fad” diets.  Society focuses on size, popularity, so called beauty, and success. But really isn't it about quality of life and taking care of what we are lucky to have? How do you most effectively teach the concept of eating healthy and exercise for health, not size or appearance?

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in adolescents in the United States, over the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This has had a profound effect on children’s health.  Conditions formerly only seen in adults, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, are now being diagnosed in children (

My daughter is 8 years old. She is by no means overweight, she is just a tall 8 year old. She is over a head taller than all the girls on her soccer team. Her dad is 6'2” and I am 5'9”, so her tall height is expected. I remember as an 8 year old in ballet class feeling bigger than the other girls, but thankfully my mom helped me to find ways to celebrate it. I could run faster on the soccer field or leap further across the stage. But I still felt the influence from other girls, and emotionally struggled. I felt bigger and often less attractive. During the off season in college, I found myself extreme in my eating and exercise. Not to be fit, but to try to align my skewed image of myself with society’s reality. How easily reality can become distorted. I don't want to pass that sort of conflict on to my children. We come in all shapes and sizes. That's something to be celebrated!

I want to instill in my children to love their bodies, take pride in their appearance, and keep focused on their abilities. To appreciate what they can do and their potential. I find myself saying, “Make sure you are eating so your body can grow healthy.  Listen to when your body says it's had enough.” Or, “Don't just eat because it tastes good, you can have more later, if you're still hungry.” Tell your children that fruits and vegetables will help them to be healthy and strong, and not connect them with size or weight loss.  For many, this is a new perspective. Growing up I often heard the phrase, “You need to finish the food on your plate. There are starving children in the world who would be grateful for that food.” I even catch myself saying that at times. Why not just put less on their plate to begin with? By clearing our plates, we train our minds to ignore our bodily cues. We lose the ability to recognize the “full” sensation and eat based on emotion, rather than with the purpose of fueling and providing nutrients.

Dr. Ronald Feinstein, an adolescent medicine specialist at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York said, "We need to focus on healthy lifestyle, and parents need to lead by example.” This includes appropriate meal planning and having healthy food available. "Set an example and avoid putting kids in a position where they have to make poor choices." (Source:

It can be hard to find just the right words and ways to teach this message. I don't want my children to feel I'm nagging, or keeping them from “enjoying” life. Leading by example is the most powerful way to influence your children. 

I've found some creative ways to start and continue our children on a healthy path.  I plan to share my ideas in future weeks, so keep following this blog.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dip into the BEST Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Orriant Mommy Blogger, Emily, shares her favorite recipe to celebrate your holiday weekend.

Black Bean and Avocado Salsa
1 can/soaked black beans rinsed
1 can/soaked black eyed peas rinsed
1 can/frozen/fresh corn rinsed
1 avocado diced
1 tomato diced
1/2 green pepper diced
1/2 yellow pepper diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 red onion diced
1 Jalapeno seeded and diced

Mix the following:
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Poor dressing over vegetables and toss until coated. Chill and serve with pita chips or whole grain tortilla chips.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"The energy in the starting corrals was electric." Orriant Blogger, Ron Fehr, talks about the Boston Marathon 2014.

The first day in Boston was spent at the athlete's race expo, picking up gear bags, checking into the race, meeting other racers and enjoying the pre-race, carb-load pasta dinner.  I tried to get as much rest as possible the night before the race, which is difficult to do for a race that is surrounded by so much hype. 

Race morning was slow moving and essentially stress free, making it to the subway and getting on the buses that had to transport nearly 33,000 runners to the small town of Hopkinton.  Being in the first wave, I made it to the start with plenty of time to rest and get comfortable before the ¾ mile walk to the start. 

The energy in the starting corrals was electric, with the race director interviewing past race winners and introducing the “elite field” (athletes who have won more than 80 global marathons).  As the clock started ticking closer to 10:00am, you could feel the runners inch forward, and hear the spectators reach a fevered pitch.  I felt very good, but with a little worry due to my heel injury suffered a week before the race. 

The gun went off, and I was on my way.  The first 2 miles went well and I was right on my goal pace.  However, my heel started to cause me some discomfort, and I had to slightly alter my stride.  Even though the adjustment was miniscule, my muscles were not used to running that way and by mile 8, my leg muscles (all of them) started to hurt tremendously.  Between miles 10-12, I knew that my sub-3 hour goal was shot, and I now had to focus on just finishing the race.  After the half-way point, my joints started to lock up.  I couldn't get my legs to complete a smooth stride, which only continued to cause my leg muscles even more pain. 

Despite the bodily discomfort, I had an incredible time on the course.  The race is organized very well, and the spectators are beyond description, displaying unlimited enthusiasm.  I received many nicknames during the race due to my hair, but more people called me 'Wheeler', which was great to hear (notice my shirt in the picture).  I don't think I would have been able to run this race without the sponsorship of my company, Wheeler.  I am very grateful for that opportunity. 

After finishing the race in 3:27:55, I nearly collapsed due to my legs forgetting how to walk.  Fortunately a med-tech was there to catch me.  After finding my way to the water station, I was feeling better and am happy with the result.  It almost seemed surreal that it was over after so much time spent preparing.  Despite not meeting my sub-3 hour goal, I couldn't have asked for a better race day, and experience.  If anyone reading this is a runner, I would recommend putting this race on your bucket list.  It deserves all the hype, and is well worth it. 

Again, I am grateful to Wheeler for sponsoring me and helping me fulfill this goal.  I am also grateful for Orriant, letting me post my thoughts and supporting me along the way.  The list is long of those who deserve my gratitude, including my lovely wife, family, co-workers, and great friends. 

My future goals (after taking a few weeks to relax, of course) are the Missoula Marathon in July, and perhaps a triathlon here and there, if I remember how to ride my bike.

Thank you all so much for the support, I can't tell you how much it helped me train for, and achieve this goal.  Until next time, live health, and happy!

Friday, May 2, 2014

How to have a "cheat meal" without going overboard

Eating a healthy diet does not mean you have to say goodbye to your favorite foods for good. In fact, incorporating your favorite foods is a great way to stay motivated with healthy eating. We often refer to this as a ‘cheat day’ or a ‘cheat meal’: a day or a meal where you indulge in foods that you do not normally eat throughout the week. Many dietary professionals recommend implementing a cheat day or meal, especially if the individual is on a strict eating plan. This can promote a more sustainable and realistic way of eating. It is important to be cautious and not go overboard. Here are a few things to keep in mind on your cheat days:

Have a plan. It might be tempting to let loose and eat everything in sight on your cheat days. After all, you’ve been so good all week! But adding more structure to your splurging can go a long way to preventing you from overindulging. Planning out what you are going to eat allows you to indulge, without over doing it.

Eat just your favorite foods. If you are going to “cheat”, then make sure you do it only on your favorite foods. Avoid eating something just because it is there, like a stale cookie at a party you will likely not even enjoy.

Focus on portion control. Even your cheat days need to have some boundaries. The best way to do this is with portion control. If ice cream is one of your favorite foods, then have one scoop to satisfy that craving, rather than a whole pint.

Turn off the TV. Studies show we tend to eat greater quantities when we are distracted by the television. Set time aside to mindfully enjoy what you are eating, without distractions.

Get back on track. If you are more thoughtful about your cheat days, then there should be no feelings of guilt afterward. Accept that you allowed yourself to reasonably indulge, and get right back on track with your healthy eating habits.