Top 10 Holiday Tips and Tricks

1. Identify your non-negotiables
Figuring out what foods are absolutely necessary during a holiday is key to creating a good game plan. Identify the foods that you “need” to have to feel like you’re getting the most out of your holiday meal, and don’t guilt yourself for eating them. Enjoy them, don’t over-do it, and move on.

2. Keep Yourself in Check and Look Ahead
Remember that you are in control of what goes in your mouth. Keep away from the mindless snacking and it will greatly decrease the extra calories you’re likely to consume. Look ahead at the week you have and pinpoint any times that you think will be a challenge when it comes to eating right. Identify those road blocks and come up solutions that will keep you on track.

3. Survey the Buffet
Scope out your options first. Pick out the foods you absolutely have to try, and balance those out with healthier options. Once you’re done with your plate, get up and walk around after; distance yourself from the food table to limit temptation.

4. Follow the “half your plate” rule
Filling half of your plate with vegetables will dramatically decrease empty calories that are often so available at parties. Whether they’re raw, steamed, grilled, or baked, they’ll provide you will plenty of fiber and antioxidants which will leave you full and satisfied.

5. Pick your “cheat day”
Planning ahead goes along with picking the days in which you’ll allow yourself to indulge. If you know you have a party one day out of the week, pick that day to loosen up and let yourself enjoy that mac and cheese or pasta salad. Keeping yourself in check the rest of the week will help you find that healthy balance. Pick one day a week, and no more.

6. Focus on the holiday, not the food
We’re so accustomed to relating food to events; birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, showers, whatever the occasion. Focus on the people around you and enjoy the company you have rather than thinking about the food you’re going to eat. Keeping them the focus of the event helps put food to the side.

7. Drink before you drink
Alcohol can tack on calories very quickly at parties. Start by drinking 20oz of water, and another 20oz for every drink that you have. It will cut down on the risk of a hangover, as well as keeping calories low.

8. Check out the Menu
If you’re going out to a restaurant, always google the menu and nutrition facts so you have a game plan as to what options are healthier. Planning the choices you have will prevent the mind game of what to order, and you’ll have more time to focus on the company the surrounds you.

9. Avoid Store-Bought Anythings
Would you rather have homemade chocolate cake, or store bought brownies? There’s nothing special about store bought foods, you can get them at any time. Save the real indulgence for foods that are homemade with real ingredients and better taste.

10. Keep on Snacking
Keeping quick snacks in your car or in your purse is only going to help to make sure you don’t go more than 5 hours without eating. Always prevent yourself from getting too hungry, because that’s when we make bad choices. Lean on nuts, granola bars, or dried fruit to prevent that “hangry” urge.

Apple Cider Vinegar: the 4-1-1

The new superfood? The new weight loss fix? What is apple cider vinegar and why is everyone all about it?! I get a lot of questions from patients asking “If I drink apple cider vinegar, will it help me lose weight?” I always answer this question on the side of caution, only because it’s been shown to help people lose weight in studies, but isn’t really studied enough to say one or the other that it will do the trick. So if you want to know more about apple cider vinegar (what it is, why it’s useful and how to consume it), read on! I’ll be explaining all that and more to put the rumors to rest!

So first thing’s first; what the heck is apple cider vinegar? Vinegar is made by converting sugars to alcohol with yeast, and then converting the alcohol to acetic acid using bacteria. By bacteria, I mean the good, gut-health inducing bacteria. In addition to the good bacteria, the vinegar that’s made has high phenolic and flavonoid content which helps fight free radicals (lowers cancer risk). Just to show it’s age, apple cider vinegar was used as far back as 400BC as an antibiotic, a healing solution to treat scurvy and pneumonia, upset stomach, and wound healing. It’s got A LOT of health benefits, as long as you use it right!

Speaking of health benefits, why are people all of a sudden consuming apple cider vinegar? Well of course there’s health benefits, but what are they really? The first benefit is that it’s an antioxidant. Antioxidants help with many things, one of them being cancer. Apple cider vinegar contains phytochemicals, polyphenols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids which are all antioxidants. They can have positive affects on diseases such as cancer because they prevent free radical formation (the cancer-causing cells). Not only does apple cider vinegar provide you with great antioxidants, it can help with blood sugar as well.

In previous studies, consuming apple cider vinegar has been shown to lower blood sugar levels after eating because it blocks some of the starch digestion after a meal. Having less starch absorbed into the bloodstream will keep blood sugar levels lower and also improve insulin sensitivity in those with Diabetes. Not only does it help with blood sugar, but it’s also been shown to help with lowering total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), and your triglyceride levels. So not only can it help with blood sugar stability, but also with heart health as well.

While health is obviously important, a lot of people have been correlating apple cider vinegar to weight loss. I wasn’t sure why, so I did the research to see what the hype was all about. The reason apple cider vinegar has been linked with weight loss is because many people who would drink it daily would start to lose weight. The most common speculation as to why is because consuming it before a meal will promote satiety with meals and increase the acetic acid level in your body (causing you to get fuller quicker).

I have to say this with emphasis: There is NOT enough evidence out there to say that apple cider vinegar will make you lose weight!!

There has only been ONE study done in Japan to test this theory. Participants in this study were split up into two groups; one that would drink apple cider vinegar before each meal and the other group drank water before each meal. The group that was drinking the vinegar did indeed lose 1-3 pounds over the course of the study, but as soon as they stopped the study they gained their weight back. It did seem to help with fat utilization in the body which is why people were losing weight. However, even with this study in place, apple cider vinegar still isn’t the answer to weight loss. Is it beneficial? Absolutely. But it’s not an answer for weight loss without also increasing exercise and eating right in general.

Still interested in trying it out? I encourage you to! As I said, it’s not a weight loss method, but still has many health benefits. Something to consider is you want to make sure you’re getting the right type of apple cider vinegar. There are many forms out there and you want to make sure you’re using the right one. If you haven’t heard already, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is the most natural and best for you. It contains “the mother” which is a murky, cloudy blob that sits in the bottle. The “mother” is beneficial because it’s made up of strands of proteins, enzymes, probiotics and good bacteria for your gut health. It can also help with immune support and constipation. So when in doubt, always get an apple cider vinegar with “the mother” in it. Otherwise, you won’t be getting all the benefits from it!

So you found the right stuff, but how do you consume it how often? You need to be careful with apple cider vinegar because it’s extremely acidic. If you take a straight shot of it, you can really do damage to your esophagus and intestines. It can also break down the enamel on your teeth and lower potassium levels ultimately affecting bone mineral density. It’s also important to note that if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not recommended to take it only because there is not enough evidence to be deemed safe.

In order to ingest apple cider vinegar without compromising your insides, you always want to dilute it into water. You might have heard that people drink it with water, lemon, and cayenne or make their own cocktail every morning. You can make up whatever fancy cocktail you want, but for every ounce of apple cider vinegar, be sure to dilute it with 8oz water. Try this out 1-2x a day and see how you feel! Again, this may not be something you necessarily “feel” but it’s promoting heart health, blood sugar stability, lowering cancer risk, and satiety with meals which are all bonuses in my book!

As always, consult a doctor if you have any pre-existing medical condition and you’re not sure if this is something you may benefit from. While it may not be the new “superfood”, apple cider vinegar is definitely something that can help us with gut health, heart health, and overall health in general. Is it something I would suggest everyone do immediately? Not necessarily, but I also wouldn’t rule it out. Everyone benefits from things differently. My goal with this blog entry was to provide more information on this topic and hopefully get people more educated about it! I hope you enjoyed and now know more about apple cider vinegar than you did yesterday!

Chicken BLT Salad with Jalapeno-Ranch Dressing

Serves: about 6, serving size: 1.5-2 cups

2 bags or one head of romaine lettuce

½ lb low-sodium bacon

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced

1-2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced into bite-sized pieces

2-3 jalapenos

1/2c light ranch dressing

  1. Preheat oven to 425⁰ and place bacon on a lined baking pan. *The bacon will crisp up better if you place a cooling rack under the bacon so the fat can drip off while baking.
  2. While you’re waiting for the oven to heat, slice cherry tomatoes, and cut and de-vein the jalapenos. Slice the jalapenos into thirds and place into a small food processor.
  3. Add ranch dressing to the food processor and puree jalapenos and dressing until there are no more chunks.
  4. Cook bacon for 15 minutes, flip, and cook for another 8-10 minutes until bacon is cooked and crispy.
  5. Assemble your salad with romaine, tomatoes, chicken, bacon, and drizzle with jalapeno-ranch dressing.

185 Calories. Fat 11g. Protein 16g

KP’s Tip: Sprinkle with parmesan cheese for a little more flavor. You can also use turkey bacon to cut down on the sodium. This is also a great salad for lunches for the week! Easy to assemble, little ingredients, and SO delicious!

Honey Mustard Hummus

  • 1 1lb 13oz can of garbanzo beans (large can)
  • 1/4c honey
  • 1/4c spicy brown mustard
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 3-5 drops lemon juice
  1. Open garbanzo beans and rinse in colander.
  2. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth and no chunks or beans are left.
  3. Spoon into your serving bowl and enjoy with your favorite dipping food!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: 5
Serving size: 3 tbsp

Serves 8
Kcals: 90 calories, 4g fat, 3g protein

KP’s Tip: I used carrots, celery and pretzel thins to dip into the hummus. This was especially good with the pretzels; it’s like a honey-mustard pretzel!

Breakfast Egg Muffins

  • 1lb ground turkey sausage
  • 2 medium peppers (red, green or yellow)
  • ½ small onion, chopped (red or white)
  • 4 handfuls spinach, ripped into pieces
  • 1tbsp onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 32oz container liquid egg whites
  • Non-stick spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ and spray muffin tins with non-stick spray.
  2. Heat skillet to medium high heat and brown turkey sausage until cooked through, breaking up into small crumbles.
  3. Combine turkey sausage, peppers, onion, spinach, and spices in a mixing bowl.
  4. With a spoon, scoop turkey sausage mixture evenly into 24 muffin tins. *I only had one 12-cup muffin tin so I used half the mixture first, baked the eggs and then used the rest of the mixture.
  5. Pour egg whites on top of mixture, into muffin tins just below the rim of the pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until eggs no longer move when you wiggle the pan.
  7. Once they’re done, place on a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes and enjoy!

Serving size: 2 muffins
114 calories
3g carbs
18g protein

KP’s Tip: Make these ahead of time so you have them for the week. They make a great grab-and-go breakfast that’s still hot! You can also find pre-cooked turkey sausage crumbles to save time too.

Who said lifting was a man’s job?

I’ve heard over and over from many female clients of mine that they stay away from weight lifting in fear of getting bulky and not toned. Well, I’m here to clear up those rumors and tell you why 80% of my workouts involve ONLY lifting! Among many reasons, here are just five reasons why it’s important for women especially to include lifting in their workout routine.

Read more

Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

  • 2 large red peppers, raw
  • 1lb ground chicken
  • 1/3 c hot sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Non-stick spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰.
  2. Rinse and slice peppers in half lengthwise and then devein the peppers (cutting out all seeds and hollowing out pepper).
  3. Lines baking sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray. Place pepper on tray and set aside.
  4. Cook ground chicken in skillet on medium to medium high heat. Continue to stir until cooked.
  5. Add hot sauce to chicken and mix.
  6. Once sauce and chicken is combined, stuff into pepper halves. You should be able to stuff all the chicken into the peppers evenly.
  7. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  8. Place peppers in oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and peppers are cooked.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Kcals: 283, 15g fat, 29g protein

Serves 4, serving size: 1 pepper half

KP’s Tip: Pair with your favorite green vegetable or side salad for a colorful, low-carb and high protein meal!