5 host/hostess gift ideas to avoid holiday weight-gain

xmas picture

December is here, which means it’s time for family, friends, and holiday parties. With that comes host/hostest gifts. Candy, chocolate, cookies, desserts and alcohol are great, especially when they are served at the party; but, the host may end up with extra caloires hanging around the house once the party ends. Here are a few other gift ideas that may help prevent your friends from packing on the holiday pounds.

1) DIY gifts: homemade holiday-themed gifts, like a decorative stocking, a christmas tree skirt, placemats, or decorative pillows are great. Not a fan of sewing or making projects, contact me for information about purchasing my homemade items!

holiday plate
2) serving platter or decorative dish: if you are brining an appetizer or part of the meal, put it on a dish that you will gift to the host.

Bird salt and pepper shakerelephant salt and pepper shaker


Santa salt and pepper shakerWedding salt and pepper shaker
3) Salt and pepper shakers: there are so many adorable options, including holiday themed, animals, or even sports teams. Shop online, or one of my favorite spots for unique kitchen gadgets is Anthropologie. You can also find things like this at HomeGoods or Marshalls.

Xmas wine stoppertool wine markers
4) Wine stopper or identification tags for wine glasses:just becuase you dont bring the alcohol doesn’t mean it won’t be there (or that you can’t enjoy it in moderation!). Like the salt and pepper shakers, there are great options for anyone you might be gifting to!

Flavored oil
5) flavored olive oil: Make your own flavored oil and put it in a decorrative container or you can purchase these from specialty stores. This is a great way to season food without salt and they look pretty!

Holidays don’t have to be a time to “give up” on your healthy lifestyle. Contact me for help through your holiday season!


Healthy hosting for a weekend with friends

Friends-visitingMy husband’s college buddies are coming to visit this weekend, meaning that we will have an apartment full of hungry men. Being a dietitian, I am probably more concerned about what people are going to eat than most; but, come on, guys! SOMEONE has to think you will be hungry at some point during the weekend. Check out how this dietitian plans for a healthier weekend eating with friends

– Dinner: Crock pot Chili and jalapeno cornbread

– Breakfast: Make-ahead egg and veggie bake
– Lunch: POT LUCK TAILGATE here is what our crew is bringing: burgers, pasta salad, chicken wings, guacamole and chicken dip with tortilla chips and pretzels, swiss dip with veggies, cookies, and of course water bottles and plenty of other beverages.
– Dinner: no plan here, we will probably still be at the game and likely snack on anything left over from the tailgate as long as we can safely store everything in the coolers. Or, if the weather is bad and we leave the game early, we will end up watching it at a bar where we will find food.

– Breakfast: Pancakes
The rest of the day depends on how everyone is feeling and when everyone plans on hitting the road back to Michigan; so it will be more last-minute thinking.

We look forward to weekend visits so much; but, with full-time jobs and everything else going on before our friends get here, it’s easy to forget about meal planning and even easier to just say “oh well, we can just eat out”. Yes, it’s fun to bring everyone to our favorite restaurants; and we will still have the opportunity to do that. But, as a dietitian, no one is going unfed, no one is overpaying to eat high-sodium meals all weekend long, and everyone will get their share of fiber, lean protein, and veggies! Can’t wait to see you all and I hope you enjoy!

What’s Cooking?! Healthier Sausage and Peppers

Looking for a low maintenence meal with minimal prep work and clean up? Try these, low-sodium, no-carb, low-fat sausage and peppers! This is another recipe that is great for leftovers. Top a whole wheat hoagie for a fun sub sandwich, cook them into eggs for a high-protein, high-fiber omelet, or (my favorite) toss them on top of your favorite green with cold tomatoes, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar for a quick lunch salad.

– 1 lb low-sodium, low-fat chicken sausage (sliced)
– 1 red pepper (chopped in large pieces)
– 1 green pepper (chopped in large pieces)
– 1 yellow pepper (chopped in large pieces)
– 1 medium onion (chopped in large pieces)
– 2 tbl olive oil
– 2 tbl fresh basil (chopped)
– 1 tbl dried oregano
– 1/2 tbl garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit
– Brown sausage in a skillet (does not need to be fully cooked, just browned)
– Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to coat
– Spread mixture into a 9 X 13 baking dish
– Bake for 50 minutes and serve

Need a side dish? Try sautéed potatoes with spinach for complex carbohydrates and fiber without the salt!

Healthy appetizer for a potluck pig roast


My aunt grew up on a farm in Champagne, IL; and, every year her family drives up with a massive pig and a spit, cooks all day long, and invites friends and family over for a potluck dinner and outdoor hang-out: The Plaza Pig Roast! Well, the event was this past weekend and it was great, as usual. This year, to balance out all of the dessert and heavy side dishes that make their way to the pig roast buffet line, I brought carb-free, low-fat, low-calorie cucumber and humus bites I found on Pinterest. Continue reading

What’s Cooking?! Salt-free, high-fiber, low-fat chicken parmesan


Need a quick meal with leftovers that can be used in various ways to keep you from burn-out? My husband and I have a busy week, so we made baked chicken parm last night that we can reheat for either salads, sandwiches, or pasta dishes later in the week. Not only was the meal ready in about 30 minutes, but the recipe is heart healthy (salt free and low-fat) and easier on the blood sugar (higher in fiber and low sugar) than most fried chicken parmesan recipes.

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5 healthy date ideas for all ages and relationship statuses


Dating should never stop! A healthy life includes spending time with people you love, meeting new people, and doing fun, exciting, interesting and new things. Our most common dates; though, seem to have us in a fatty-food “rut”.

“Dating” is a time to learn about someone, find out what is important to him/her, and what he/she likes to do; but dates can be so generic! If we all go on the same dates, how do we find out who that person is?

Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to dinner/drinks, sporting event with a hot dog and cracker jacks/peanuts, state fairs/carnivals with ice cream or funnel cake, movies with a bucket of “movie theater popcorn” and a diet coke, etc.; but, since my husband and I try to do one date each week, these Calories (and costs!) add up.

Next time you plan a date, think about your hobbies and his/her hobbies. Here are 5 date ideas for different personalities that won’t send us on a Calorie guilt-trip:

1) For “Food Lovers”: Cook together! There is something special about a meal cooked together. Maybe it’s the sense of “team”, or the satisfaction of knowing that you created whatever ends up on the plate; but, either way, you know exactly what’s in your food. Try one of these recipes!
2) For “Sports Lovers”: Consider a high school game, especially if it’s a sport that you played or the school that you or your kids are going to/went to. You get a sense of “nostalgia” and may have stories or memories to share with your date. It’s also easier to avoid concessions, since there aren’t vendors walking up and down the stands.
3) For “Movie Lovers”: Find a drive-in. These are few and far-between, making it more special when you plan a trip to find one. You can watch classic movies that you probably haven’t seen in years; and, people don’t get upset if you lean over and whisper, making it easier to learn more about your date! Plus, you bring your own food/drink, allowing you to pack smart snacks.
4) For “Active” people: Go for a walk/bike ride, play tennis/golf, throw a football/baseball/frisbee, find a climbing wall, rent kayaks, etc. Not only are you avoiding empty Calories, but you’re burning them, strengthening your heart, and sending out “happy hormones”!
5) For “Givers”: Consider volunteering. Habitat for Humanity has local opportunities for you to use your hands, work together, and change lives; or, check out town hall for smaller project like: planting gardens, painting public areas/fences, fixing up public schools, etc. You can burn Calories and stay active together while doing something positive.

Doing the things you enjoy with people you enjoy creates a healthy lifestyle. Dating is a time to be yourself and find someone who likes the same things you do! Have fun and enjoy things that you don’t always have in your daily life; but be creative and find unique activities that encourage your healthy lifestyle. What are your favorite date nights or days?

What’s Cooking?! Chicken, Asparagus and Orzo

Summer is so much fun at the grocery store thanks to the variety of fruits and veggies on sale! This week, asparagus was my veg of choice. Full of antioxidants, high in fiber, low in Calories and carbohydrates, and yummy: asparagus is an easy crowd-pleaser that cooks in a flash. Pair it with a high-fiber starch for digestion and diabetes management and a low-fat protein for heart health to complete a healthy, well-rounded meal.

The tomatoes were sweet enough and the feta salty enough that seasoning was a breeze and didn’t require any salt or sauce. Check out what I put together last night:
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What’s Cooking?! Meatloaf

I wish the picture turned out better for this one, because the meal was delicious and I wish it looked as good as it tasted, but obviously my photography skills don’t match my cooking skills! Healthy meals can be easy and quick and can include our favorite foods! Take you favorite meatloaf recipe, and consider making the little changes explained below to add vitamins, minerals, fiber, and to limit fat, salt, and simple sugar:
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