My 5 Tips for a Healthier, Happier You in 2015

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Making a resolution to improve your health this year?  Avoid fad diets and follow my top 5 tips for a healthier year ahead.  Counting calories is not a sustainable way to stay healthy.  I recommend the principles below to any client, regardless if they are at a healthy body weight or not.

1. Eliminate all sugar sweetened beverages from your diet.

Did you know that 8 oz of orange juice has as much sugar as 8 oz of coke?  Although the sugar from orange juice is naturally occurring, it still has the same impact on weight gain and blood sugar as a soda.  Instead of drinking juice, try having a glass of water and eating a piece of fruit.  As far as  sports drinks are concerned, they are not needed unless you are engaging in greater than 1 hr of cardiovascular activity.  Most of us don’t realize that we are drinking 500-1000 calories daily.  We also don’t realize that sugar, more so than fat consumption, plays a significant role in raising our blood triglyceride levels. When I counsel a client on weight loss, this is the first tip I give.  Given that 500 additional calories daily amounts to an additional pound of weight gain per week, make the decision to kick your sugary drink habit.  By the way, claims such as “all natural”, “organic” and “no sugar added” do not necessarily mean healthy.

Don’t feel like drinking water all the time?  Check out some easy substitutes for your favorite sugary drinks:

Soda or Pop

  • ZeviaTry one sweetened with a natural sugar free sweetener, Stevia.  Try Zevia, which comes in all of your favorite flavors.
  • Don’t need the sweetness but craving the bubbles? Try carbonated flavored water such as La Croix or Dasani Sparklers

Sports Drinks

  • Try Nuun tablets- these are portable tablets that you can carry with you and drop into a bottle of water anywhere, anytime.  Plus, you get all the electrolytes without the added sugar.

Juice

Infused WaterTry water infused with one of these delicious combinations below:

  • citrus (lemon, lime, orange or a combination)
  • mint & cucumber for a refreshing twist
  • an herbal tea bag such as Passion by Tazo

2. Make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables.

 By filling your plate with vegetables, you leave less room for more calorically dense starches and proteins.  Don’t get me wrong, I want you to include some starch and protein, as these are important for satiety- BUT- in the appropriate portion sizes.  As a rule of thvegetablesumb, your portion of starch should be the size of your fist.  And avoid having a second helping; however, if you’re still hungry, you can always have more non-starchy vegetables.  Try tossing green vegetables such as broccoli or asparagus in a small amount of olive oil, minced garlic and a light sprinkling of seasoning.  Roast in the oven for a crispy (and more delicious version) of your classic steamed (and mushy) vegetable.

3. Listen to your body.

Many of us mistake the desire for the taste of food with true hunger.  A large portion of us turn to food when we are stressed, emotional or bored.  Ask yourself when you feel the desire to eat: “Is this mouth (desire for taste), heart (emotional coping), or stomach hunger (true hunger)?”  If the answer is not stomach hunger, go for a walk, phone a friend, or take a bath to put the craving at bay.

4. Stick to set meal and snack times.

I think some of us (myself included) once got a little carried away with the idea that it is beneficial to have smaller, more frequent meals.  However, there is a difference between having set snack times and grazing.  I recommend setting 3 meal and 2-3 snack times throughout the day.  By snack time, I mean sitting down at a table, distraction free (that means electronics off), and enjoying your food.  In the “in between” times, avoid having that cracker or cookie that tempts you when you walk by your pantry every 15 minutes.  Many of us forget about the “nibbles” throughout the day, yet wonder why we can’t lose weight.  The nibbles add up.

5. Include 30 minutes of activity daily.

I always tell my clients that 30 minutes of activity does not necessarily mean going for a run.  More vigorous activity is important here and there, but meeting a friend for a walk, bike ride or swim does play a role in weight maintenance.  A word of caution- many of us over estimate our energy expenditure and therefore feel we can “splurge” on days we are active.  This is not the case.  Find an activity that you don’t dread doing.  My favorite this year has been Barre 3– it’s a mix of pilates, yoga and ballet (don’t get scared off by the ballet, I really have no artistic talent).  I love it, and so does my mind and body!  Most importantly, I look forward to it at the end of my work day.  If you are looking for online workouts that you can do just about anywhere, they have that option available too.

Most importantly, set some goals to be healthy for you, and your health, not just to look great in your jeans.  

Here’s to a healthier you!  Happy New Year!

– Lauren

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Christmas in Canada

Christmas  Celebrations

Someone special making his entrance on Christmas morning. Neil Diamond’s Christmas album had to be playing, by request.

 

 

I hope all of you had a lovely holiday.  As this week was a little different, I decided to share some moments from my holiday with you, and a few recipes that we enjoyed along the way.  It was such a treat to spend the week with my family- it was definitely the greatest gift this year!  Continue reading

Raspberry Almond Muffins

Raspberry Almond Muffins

I recently joined a group of nutrition-focused bloggers, the Recipe Redux.  Each month we are challenged to create a healthy recipe that fits within the theme.  This month’s theme, “Grab a Book and Cook,” challenged us to open one of our cookbooks to either page 42 or 142, and makeover the recipe.  Since it’s the holidays, I opened my Butter Baked Goods Cookbook by Rosie Daykin and found a delicious (but, definitely butter packed, hence the title of the book) rhubard almond muffin recipe. Continue reading

December 14-20

Happy Holidays!  This week was somewhat hectic getting ready to travel back up North for Christmas.  Doug and I will be spending Christmas with my family in Vancouver, ANDFish Tacos I am SO excited to see them.  Typically on Christmas, my aunt, uncle and cousins from Victoria spend Christmas with us.  We take turns each year as to which family travels to the other’s house.  As little kids, we always wanted to experience Christmas morning at our own houses, and therefore left the travel to Christmas Day.  This usually involved rushing to a ferry and overall was not the most pleasant experience.

Now in our twenties, we decided we could handle Christmas morning at a house other than our own.  For the first year, we will be getting together on Christmas Eve.  With my two cousins also being medical students, and me living in New Orleans, our visits are less frequent.  I am so looking forward to seeing them!

One of my favorite things to do is spend time in the kitchen with my Mom and prepare a feast for Christmas Dinner.  I’m hoping to snap a few photos along the way to share with you later.

I wanted to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Your support for this little blogging endeavor has been the best gift- thank you!

 

 

SundayQuinoa Gratin

  • Quinoa Gratin (LG Original)This recipe is a little more exciting (and sorry, I’m biased) than your typical preparation of quinoa as a salad.  If you haven’t tried quinoa yet, give this one a try.  This recipe has been adored by foodies and picky eaters alike. 

Monday

  • Repeat Quinoa Gratin (LG Original)- I will be honest, I actually ate this for lunch 3 days paired with a basic green salad.

Fish Tacos

 

Tuesday

  • Fish Tacos (LG Original)Doug and I love to try tacos at all different restaurants, and, especially from food trucks.  Our favorite places to get a taco in New Orleans are Taceaux Loceaux and the Rum House.  It always amazes me how many unique variations can be made from the basic taco.  This recipe is on the healthier side, but full of flavor.  This is a great idea fordinner parties, as it’s always fun to lay out all of the toppings and have guests build a taco suited to their taste.   

 

 

 

Wednesday

  • Taco Mac n CheeseOne Pot Cheesy Turkey Taco Chili Mac (Skinnytaste)Another winner from Skinnytaste.  This was absolutely delicious, healthy, so easy. and only dirtied one pot.  Does it get any better?  This served us for 2 lunches and 2 dinners.  Make it tonight.


Thursday

  • Repeat One Pot Cheesy Turkey Taco Chili Mac (Skinnytaste)

Marilea’s Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamonrolls

When I spent Christmas with Doug’s family a couple years ago, I woke up to the aroma of his mom’s cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.  These cinnamon rolls are a crucial part to their Christmas traditions.  Last year, Marilea shared the recipe with me and I was able to share them with my family.  Of course, my family loved them as well.  I plan to make them for Christmas morning this year, but I wanted to share the recipe with you in advance so you may be able to enjoy them as well! Continue reading

December 7-13

Individual Chicken Pot PieThis week is all about keeping it simple- and healthy.  With the holidays around the corner, heavy lunches, treats and adult beverages are in abundance- so- I decided to keep all of my meals this week on the healthier side.  Don’t worry, there will definitely be some indulgences along the way, which I will tell you all about later 🙂

I have included two recipes that I have made over and over again (Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust & Southwest Chowder),  as well as a new recipe (Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad) which will definitely be making many more appearances in the future.  The best part of this week is that it’s easy.  You’ll notice I purchase a rotisserie chicken and use it for two dishes that span across 3 nights of meals.

Look for my next post, coming soon, that will include my favorite Christmas dessert recipes.  I have been responsible for the desserts at Christmas dinner for 10+ years, so these are tried, tested, and devoured recipes.

Sunday

  • Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust (Oprah)– Looking for some delicious comfort food without the guilt?  I have been making this recipe for years.  The cornbread topping is a nice twist to the classic pie crust.  I actually made and baked this right in my dutch oven, which makes it a one pot meal!  To do so, prepare the filing in the dutch oven (as outlined to do in a saucepan) and when finished, spread the cornbread batter on top.  If you don’t have a dutch oven, transfer the mixture from the sauce pan to the casserole dish, as outlined in the recipe.  Buy a rotisserie chicken to save on time (and prep).  You’ll even have leftover chicken to add to your salad on Tuesday.

Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust  Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread

Monday

  • Repeat Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust- This actually fed us both for dinner the next day, as well as Doug for lunch (and breakfast).  

Tuesday

  • Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad with Bacon and Pecorino (Sugar & Grace)Yum.  This is my new favorite salad recipe.  I used a hand mandolin to shave the brussels sprouts
    which looks something like this.  However, if you have a full-sized food processor (on my Christmas wish list), try using the thin slicing disc to expedite the process!  We added the remaining rotisserie chicken we had purchased for the pot pie to amp up the protein and make it a meal.

Kale & Shaved Brussels Salad

Wednesday

  • Southwest Chowder (AG – that’s my Mom- original) + Leftover Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad- My Mom came up with this soup recipe by making several changes to anoriginal published several years ago in her hometown’s local paper.  Originally known as “Yam Soup,” my Mom re-named it “Southwest Chowder” to entice my brother and his friends (who were tweens at the time) to eat it.  A couple bowls each later, my Mom was set on the name.  For parents out there, this soup is a great way to incorporate vegetables in your children’s diets (maybe minus the jalepeno).  

IMG_2142
Thursday

  • Repeat Southwest Chowder & Whole Wheat English Muffins (Double Thyme) with Avocado & Sambal Oelek- Ok- so you don’t have to make the english muffins from scratch- but- if you have some time- I dare you to.  I eat an english muffin every morning for breakfast and started to notice that most of the store bought versions are dry and lacking in flavor.  Once you try this homemade version, you will not go back.  I keep making batches (it makes about 16), pre-slicing them and freezing them.  This makes it that much easier to pop them into the toaster in the morning (with my fav, almond butter, or on weekends, made into an egg, sharp cheddar & arugula sandwich).  If I just made your mouth water, add an egg (cooked your favorite way), some cheddar and arugula to your avocado & sambal oelek english muffin to pair with this soup for dinner.  
  • If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, use the top of a pint glass (like I did, here)

The Grocery List (For the Complete Week’s Recipes minus the English Muffins)

Produce

  • onion (1)
  • potato (1)

    Doug Eating

    Caught red handed! This is what happens when I try to start making soup after work- he just couldn’t wait. I want to tell you about my most favorite cheese- Saint-Andre- seen here. If you are a fan of brie, this takes it to a whole new level. Doug has caught on and now pulls out the fig jam with it- I’d say his taste buds are becoming more sophisticated (which is good when he’s my official taste tester)

  • carrots (about 4)
  • 1 lemon (for 2 Tbsp of juice)
  • shallot (1)
  • garlic
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts
  • red bell pepper (1)
  • parsley
  • yams (enough for 3 cups)

Non-Perishables

  • chicken stock (2 cups for the pot pie and 6 cups for the soup*)
  • tabasco sauce or other hot sauce (I used sriracha)
  • yellow cornmeal
  • baking powder
  • sugar
  • salt
  • dijon mustard
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almonds (I used sliced)
  • dried oregano
  • cumin
  • wild rice (I use Lundberg Wild Rice Blend)

Dairy

  • milk (about 3/4 cup)
  • pecorino or parmesan chcese

Meat & Poultry

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • egg (1)
  • 4 slices of bacon

Other

  • frozen peas
  • frozen corn

* Use vegetable stock for the soup if you want to keep it vegetarian

Neapolitan Squares

Thank you for sharing the blog love the past week- I really appreciate it!  The winners of my giveaway are Steffanie W. & Maricel P. Congrats!

Neapolitan Squares

This square recipe has made many appearances on our Christmas cookie platter for many years.  I love this recipe because it is so different from the typical offerings on a Christmas cookie platter, and is very eye-catching.  This square would also be very pretty at a baby shower or birthday party.  The recipe comes from an old family friend.

Ingredients

Neapolitan SquaresCrust

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour

Filling

  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk

Whipped Butter Icing

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup icing (powdered) sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. half and half
  • red food coloring

Method

1. Whisk together graham crumbs, brown sugar and flour.  Add melted butter and stir to combine.

Neapolitan Squares

2. Press into an 8 x 8″ greased and parchment lined baking pan.

Neapolitan Squares

3. Bake crust at 350°F for 10 minutes.

4. Combine filling ingredients and spread over baked crust.

Neapolitan Squares

Neapolitan Squares

5. Bake at 350°F for an additional 20 minutes.  Cool completely.

Neapolitan Squares

6. To prepare the icing, beat butter using an electric mixer for 2 minutes.

7. Add icing sugar and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

8. Add half and half and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

9. Add a couple drops of food coloring until desired color is reached.  Spread icing on top of filling.

Neapolitan Squares

10.  Chill.  Cut into small squares or triangles.

Neapolitan Squares


Lauren Gibson, RD

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Filling

    • 2 cups flaked coconut
    • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk

    Whipped Butter Icing

    • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup icing (powdered) sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. half and half
    • red food coloring

    Method

    1. Whisk together graham crumbs, brown sugar and flour.  Add melted butter and stir to combine.
    2. Press into an 8 x 8″ greased and parchment lined baking pan.
    3. Bake crust at 350°F for 10 minutes.
    4. Combine filling ingredients and spread over baked crust.
    5. Bake at 350°F for an additional 20 minutes.  Cool completely.
    6. To prepare the icing, beat butter using an electric mixer for 2 minutes.
    7. Add icing sugar and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
    8. Add half and half and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
    9. Add a couple drops of food coloring until desired color is reached.  Spread icing on top of filling.
    10.  Chill.  Cut into small squares or triangles.

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