It's All About Balance - Tips for the Holiday Season

With Hallmark movies getting ready to air on TV and Halloween candy everywhere, here are some practical tips for balance with the influx of treats this holiday season.


It is a given that there will be more sweets around this time of year, come up with a plan to enjoy them. For example - have a sweet treat on a specific night per week. Having a plan can help to take it off of the mind knowing that on the specific day it will be time for something sweet. Plus it can help you from having to say no so often!



When thinking about excess, think about sugar in drinks too. For example a 20-fluid ounce bottle of regular soda has about 17 - 19 teaspoons of added sugar.

Instead of having a sugary drink with a meal - have a glass of water or milk instead to cut back on added sugar.



Send a gratitude package with some sweets to service menu through programs like Operation Gratitude, click here to learn more about the program OR Soldiers’ Angels, click here for more details.

Or look for other ways in your community to donate excess candy!



Serve up trays of creatively arranged or designed fruit. Pictured here - Mandarin orange ‘pumpkins’, apple monster mouths, strawberry mummies, ghost pumpkins, or monster kiwi. Fruit kebabs are are great way too to creatively display and serve fruit.

Wishing you a healthy holiday season ahead! Stay tuned for more tips and ideas!

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Snack Picks for Busy Days

Snacks can help to fuel the body on even the busiest of days! What you eat and do not eat, will make a difference in helping you power through the day. Here are some practical snack ideas to keep on hand.

Trail mix - a quick handful of trail mix can deliver a mix of healthy fats, some protein, and quality carbs. Opt for those that have mostly dried fruit and nuts.

Apple and Peanut Butter

Pair up apple slices with peanut butter or your favorite nut butter like almond butter for a perfect mix of energy.

On the go tip: Bring along single serve peanut butter cups (e.g. JIF Natural) or nut butter packs (e.g. RX Nut Butter or Justin’s Nut Butter) to go with apple slices.

Carrots and Hummus

Crunchy baby carrots and your favorite hummus is a delicious savory snack! There are so many great types of hummus now, mix up which one you choose to keep your taste buds interested.

On the go tip: Opt for single serving cups (e.g. Sabra) of hummus to go with the carrots!


Perhaps the best thing about pistachios is that 49 pistachios is a serving, which is more than compared to other nuts. Plus cracking pistachios takes a bit of time, which helps to make a serving of this snack last a little longer.

On the go tip: Buy single serving packs of pistachios (e.g. Wonderful Pistachios) that are already portioned out for you! Even switch it up with flavored pistachios like salt and pepper or sweet chili.


This whole grain snack is so tasty! Plus a serving of popcorn is adding in whole grains and fiber to your day. And for an added bonus, 3 cups of popcorn is a serving, which is much larger than a portion size of other crunchy snack foods (a serving of chips is only one handful). Opt for air popped popcorn at home or choose light versions of microwave popcorn or bags of popcorn.

On the go tip: Opt for individual serving bags of popcorn (e.g. Angie’s Boom ChickaPop or similar)!

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Holiday Survival Tips


As the holiday season is upon us and your schedule gets extra busy! Here are some tips to help you through the holiday whirlwind.

Holiday Preparation Burns Calories

Holiday Preparation Burns Calories

Schedule time and sneak in time to stay active throughout the holidays! Although, also embrace the other ways that you will burn calories during the holiday season preparing for gatherings. For example, one hour of wrapping presents burns about 90 calories, one hour of cleaning burns about 150+ calories, one hour of cooking burns about 240 calories.

Calorie counts based on 150-pound person. Click here for a calorie calculator.

Stock up on healthier snacks!

Stock up on healthier snacks!

Sure there will be extra snacks and treats around throughout the holidays. Also stock up on healthier staples like: almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, etc. They are perfect to put out at holiday gatherings or grab to take with you to keep your energy up while running errands.

Other quick and easy ideas to have on hand: clementines, bananas, fruit and nut bars (opt for lower sugar varieties), popcorn, whole grain fig bars

It’s all about balance!

It’s all about balance!

Holiday celebrations often come along with drinks! Balance out alcohol by mixing in a glass of water or club soda between drinks. It will help to keep your overall intake in check, hydrate you, and leave you feeling better the next day.

Plus remember the calorie count that comes along with drinks to help balance out your intake! For example: long island iced tea (8 ounces) 780 calories, eggnog with rum (8 ounces) 370 calories, gin and tonic (7 ounces) 200 calories, light beer (12 ounces) 95 - 135 calories, red or white wine (5 ounces) 120 calories,

If you are throwing a party, serve up a fun non-alcohol “mocktail” like a Sparkling Holiday Mule! See the recipe below.

Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Poland Springs Ginger Lime Mule Seltzer
Fresh Lime Slices
Whole Cranberries (for garnish)
Sprig of rosemary (for garnish)


  1. Muddle a lime slice in a copper mug (or other serving glass).

  2. Add ice and fill with ginger lime mule seltzer.

  3. Garnish with whole cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.


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Back to School Lunch Favorites

Packing lunches is back on the to do list of many people! Here are some tips and products to help keep school lunches interesting! 

Opt for Fun Lunch Boxes

yum box lunch.png

Lunch boxes like Yumbox (pictured here) are perfect, especially for little guys and girls. These would be best for ages K - 5 as far as portioning and the amount of food you can fit into the box. 

One of the best parts of this design is there is just one easy to use flap that they need to open to get into their meal! And the Yumbox is truly is leak proof; we have been using this style lunch box for two years without any leaking issue.

Check out the Yumbox site for different styles, colors, and designs, visit:

Wrap it Up

Wrap it Up!

Wraps for lunch are a great way to use up leftovers and have a lot of variation in a lunch. For example, grill extra chicken the night before, then cube that up for lunch the next day.

Opt for whole grain wraps and also load the wrap up with plenty of veggies for filling!

To make lunch preparation easier in the morning, start the week with a container of chopped wrap fillings like cucumbers, carrots, peppers, onion, and spinach. This will help lunch come together quickly in the morning. 

Pack a Parfait

Yogurt Parfait

A fruit and yogurt parfait can make a filling lunch or addition to a lunch! Fill reusable containers with layers of Greek or Icelandic yogurt (e.g. Chobani, Siggis), fruit, and granola (e.g. KIND Snacks Healthy Grain Clusters).  Even consider a drizzle of Barlean's Omega Swirl Oil for a boost of healthy fats. 

Try parfait combinations like:

Vanilla yogurt + blueberries + oats & honey granola
Vanilla yogurt + banana + peanut butter granola
Mango yogurt + diced mango + maple granola

On the Go Lunches

Fueling the Athlete

Creating a winning combination for lunch to fill and fuel up an athlete can be a challenge! Check out the Fuel2Win for On the Go lunch ideas! Click here to download the handout. 

Also check out delicious recipe ideas like PB Chip Energy Bites which could be a great addition to a lunch! 

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Caffeine, Children, and CAUTION

Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images

As a mom and dietitian, it is scary to me the amount of energy drinks and caffeine that young children are consuming! Caffeine is a stimulant and it is finding it's way into a lot of products and drinks, way beyond the traditional coffee or tea - from gums, chews, and energy drinks.

While children and teens may be intrigued by these products, they do not have a place in their routine, even for teen athletes. Additionally beyond the caffeine the other additives like: guarana (a plant-based stimulant) and taurine (an amino acid) are equally if not more concerning to me as they are not tested on children.

On a given day in the US research shows, about 73% of children and adolescents (ages 2 - 22) consume caffeine (Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014).  What was alarming to me is that caffeine intake was prevalent among all age groups in the study (Age ranges: 2 - 5, 6 - 11, 12 - 16, 17 - 18, and 19 - 22); while the intake amounts varied ranging from a low in the 2 - 5 year old age group of mean average intake of 15.9 mg of caffeine up to a high of 122.5 mg of caffeine per day in the oldest age group. Side effects from caffeine can range from insomnia to irritability to more serious health issues like irregular heart beats, blood pressure changes, and even death

If your child or teenager is interested in drinking energy drinks or other caffeinated products, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep. Two things we adults should remind ourselves of as well! 

Caffeine is not recommended for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents, age 12 to 18, should not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day. Additionally, adults are recommended to limit caffeine intake to 400 mg or less per day. Although, keep in mind, some people are very sensitive to caffeine or may not be able to have any due to underlying medical conditions.

A big watch out is how much caffeine is in products, as it can vary greatly from the low of 5 - 30 mg of caffeine in a decaf coffee to 300 - 400 mg in a large coffee or 160 - 300+ in an energy drink. Check out this chart by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on the caffeine content in popular drinks and products. 

When your teen is asking for energy drinks, try these energy boosting ideas instead:

- Have then sip water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels

- Snack on filling and energy boosting snacks like: fresh fruit & yogurt, banana and almond or peanut butter, whole grain crackers with sliced cheese & fruit, or baby carrots and dip

- Get plenty of sleep!

- For athletes: focus on working hard and training hard

And again, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep.


Caffeine Sources for Teens more Varied Than before, via, Accessed May 18, 2017

Branum, et al. Trends in Caffeine Intake Among US Children and Adolescents, Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014

Teen Dies from Too Much Caffeine, CNN, Accessed May 18, 2017

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Holiday Tips: Round-up

Today I'm bringing you a round-up of some of the great tips shared during the #HealthyHolidays Twitter chat last night!

Great quick tips from the chat included (& remember to check out some of these great people on twitter)! 

Healthy snack ideas that were shared to take on road trips included: turkey jerky, whole grain crackers & cheese, yogurt, bananas, Kind Snacks bars, nuts, homemade trail mix, or dried fruit.

@CuseSportsRD shared to check out the @greatlist #holidayfit challenge! Here's a link to the GreatList's web site for more information:

Both @bxtraining & @JWLevitt shared that trying new yoga places when they travel helps give them more challenging workouts! I have to say I love to try and do this as well.

@Tiffbachusfit shared: Give yourself a break. When the stress of the holidays have you ready to scream, give yourself a much needed timeout

A tip from @EWardRD was to enjoy your food! Here is a link to 20 healthy holiday recipes on Liz's blog, click here.

Above photo from Elizabeth Ward's blog, with permission

Above photo from Elizabeth Ward's blog, with permission

Another great post I found on twitter last night was from @Deb_Lowther it was her healthy chips post! Click here to check out Deb's blog post and recipes for healthier chips like: apple cinnamon chips, and more.

Then last but not least, it came up that apple pie is a holiday favorite for some! Here's myBaked Apple Pie Parfait recipe... a healthier twist on apple pie from my book Skinny-Size It!

Baked Apple Pie Parfaits

Yield: 2 servings


2 medium McIntosh, Golden Delicious (or other varieties good for baking) apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 ounces low fat vanilla yogurt

¼ cup KIND Healthy Grains Maple Walnut Clusters with Chia & Quinoa (or similar granola)

Directions 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 2. Place the apple slices in a small mixing bowl, add the agave nectar and cinnamon, and toss to coat. Transfer the apples to a baking sheet. 3. Bake the apples for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are tender. 4. Serve the baked apples over vanilla yogurt and garnish with the granola.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 230 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 65 milligrams sodium, 53 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 39 grams sugar, 5 grams protein 

Have you sign-up for my #HealthyHolidays challenge? If not, click here to sign-up today! 


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Holiday Tips: Survival & Challenge

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Holiday Tips: The Drinks

Another holiday tricky spot that came up was around alcohol and keeping drinks in check! Here's a holiday drinks tip sheet for you!! 

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Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season! 

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