Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Three Tips for Successful SMART Goals

Today's the last day of 2013! Are you ready for a new year full of health and happiness? If you answered 'Yes!" I trust that's because you've already given some thought to how you'll make it happen. If you haven't, then now's the time to translate your hopes for the new year into SMART goals that will help you make those dreams into reality.

Three Tips for Successful SMART Goals

1.  SMART goals need to be based on behavior change. Goals like, "I want to lose 10% of my current weight," or "I want to get back into a size 30 waist," are terrific starting points for developing a SMART goal. To make these goals specific, though, you'll need to focus on your behavior -- and if you intend to maintain your new weight, you'll need to focus on behavior changes you can maintain for a lifetime.

I encourage you to consider developing goals based on small-but-meaningful changes. Zero in on an aspect of weight management you can control: Change up your eating habits, be more active, drink more water, get more rest, manage stress, take care of your health. (Feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry! We'll be looking at ways to be successful with each of these aspects of weight management in 2014.)

2.  Make sure your goals have a time frame. Perhaps one of the most common mistakes people make when they begin developing weight management goals is failing to include an end date. At first glance, it makes sense: If you're going to make behavior change for a lifetime, who needs end dates, right? Wrong. In fact, the opposite is true. Because you're making behavior change for a lifetime, it's crucial that you develop some short-term goals. Without short-term goals, weight management becomes a grueling, never-ending experience.

As you're thinking about a time frame, I urge you to consider goals that sound like, "I will track my water intake for 14 days," rather than, "I will track my water intake for two weeks." That way, if you miss a day or two in two weeks -- and chances are extremely good you won't do things perfectly -- you don't need to start over again. Instead, you just get back on track with your goal.

This truth leads to Tip #3, which is...

3.  Consider building a reward into your goal. Rewards make the journey fun. If your goal is "I will walk during my lunch break for 14 days," but going for a walk isn't your favorite thing, then planning ahead for a reward after you've been successful will benefit you in two ways. First, it'll give you something to look forward to as you're out walking. And second, if you choose a tangible, non-food reward, you'll have something to remind you of your success.

For example, I once worked with a client who bought herself a charm bracelet, and every time she reached a goal, she bought herself a charm for the bracelet. After a year of reaching goals, she had a gorgeous bracelet laden with charms, each one representing a success. You don't need to buy a charm bracelet, of course. You might buy yourself a new workout shirt or a new yoga mat. Or, treat yourself to a new album for your MP3 player.

We'll get back to work next Tuesday. Until then, I wish you and yours much health and happiness in the new year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Top Five Tips for Handling the Holidays

Christmas is almost here, and New Year's Eve is fast approaching! As we head into these final weeks of the year, losing -- or even maintaining -- weight can be a real challenge. So, let's take a look at...

Donna's Top Five Tips for Handling the Holidays

1. Stay active. This is not the time of year to worry over whether you're logging enough time in the gym, or getting enough steps on your pedometer. All that matters in these last two weeks of December is whether you are moving around as often as you can. Organize a family walk, have a dance party, go caroling, or start a tennis or bowling championship with friends and family using your gaming system. If all you can manage is a ten-minute walk, don't sweat it. Get up and get walking!

2. Plan ahead for balance. There's no better time than the holidays to think about what really matters, and make sure your actions are in line with your beliefs. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to do everything perfectly, attend every party, or drink eggnog and eat fruitcake. You do have to set limits, though, so you can actually enjoy the activities that matter most to you.

3. Manage stress. The holidays, for all their joy and wonder, can also be a difficult time. The general hustle and bustle, societal expectations, loneliness and loss, financial worries, and many other concerns can ramp up in December. Break out your assertive communication skills. Take time for yourself. Ask for help when you need it.

4. Up your water intake. It's one of the simplest things you can do during the holiday season, but it's often overlooked. Staying hydrated is good for your mood, helps you avoid headaches, and does wonders for dry skin. Drinking water also gives you something to do with your hands, instead of eating or drinking at get-togethers. In addition, all that extra water gives you an excuse to head to the restroom, where you can take a short sanity break!

5. Write it down. Whether we're talking about a food record, physical activity, or any other aspect of weight management, you'll find it easier to focus on -- and reach -- your goals if you keep track. Write down your goals, and keep them where you'll see them throughout the day. Keep track of how it goes as the day progresses. Don't worry about being perfect. Learn from what happens, and build on your successes.

My family and I will be celebrating Christmas next week, so I won't be back until the last week of December. We'll talk then about how to up your odds of weight management success in the new year (and no, it won't involve the cabbage soup diet!). Regardless of what holidays you may be celebrating this time of year, I wish you and yours all the best, and hope you enjoy a happy, healthy December! :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Focus on Maintaining, Not Losing

For many people, December isn't just the holiday season. It's also a time when weight loss is a real challenge. Chances are, you're busier than usual, which makes physical activity and adequate rest less likely. You'll probably face both more frequent and higher-calorie temptations, food-wise. And the holidays tend to bring a mix of both positive and negative stresses, on top of the ordinary stress and anxiety we face every day.

That said, I have a novel proposition for those of you who are working on weight loss: Why not consider maintaining, instead of losing, weight this year? The challenges of the holiday season make  maintaining weight a more realistic goal -- even if you're enjoying success with weight loss. Maintaining weight means you'll need to keep doing what you're doing, of course. But, just as with weight loss, you don't need to do weight maintenance perfectly to do it well!

With maintenance, you have a little more leeway than you do with weight loss. It's okay to stay up late a few nights, enjoy a half-cup or two of eggnog, have a few candy canes, and cut back on your workouts a little (or even skip a few). You won't lose weight, because you're not keeping up with the behaviors that lead to weight loss. But as long as you don't get too carried away, you won't gain weight, either.

That said, I want to point out that the holidays tend to encourage getting carried away, whether the topic is shopping for gifts, partying, or food choices. And, of course, that's why so many people gain weight during the holiday season.

So, this holiday season, I encourage you to consider how you can change what you're doing a little bit. Not a lot, just a little -- just enough to give you some leeway to enjoy the holiday season, without crossing the line to abandon. It's crucial to give it some thought now, and to plan ahead for the challenges you're likely to face. That way, you can relax, enjoy the holiday season, and maintain your weight. So, when January arrives, you're ready to get back on track with your weight loss behaviors that will keep you on the path to health and happiness.

If you're already maintaining your weight, then spending some time thinking about how you'll maintain is even more important. Whatever you're doing on a regular basis is just enough to keep you where you are, so any indulgences you enjoy put you at risk for weight gain. That means it's especially important to think ahead to how you'll create a balance between the things you do that allow you to maintain your weight, and the things you'll do differently during the holiday season.

We'll continue talking about handling the holidays next week. Until then, post and let us know what challenge you face this holiday season, and how you plan to tackle it. See you next Tuesday! :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recipe: Tofu Sweet Potato Pie

Tofu Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet potato pie has long been one of my favorite desserts. I wanted to develop a tofu-based version, to up the protein content and reduce fat. To reduce the carbohydrate content, I replaced brown sugar with agave and molasses, and replaced eggs with egg substitute. I've called for crumb crust, rather than pastry crust, to reduce the fat content still further.


1 (29-ounce) can sweet potatoes, well-drained
1 (12-ounce) package Mori-Nu tofu
1/2 cup agave nectar
¾ cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons molasses
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 (9”) crumb pie crusts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine sweet potatoes, tofu, agave, egg substitute, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in blender and puree until combined, stopping blender and scraping down sides of blender once. Pour into crusts and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 – 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let's Talk (Thanksgiving) Turkey!

Are you feeling thankful? Or are you worrying about how you'll stay on track with your weight management goals next week? If you're leaning toward the latter, you're in good company. Thanksgiving is a challenging holiday, whether you're looking to lose weight or just maintain. After all, the day itself is focused on food! Happily, the day doesn't need to do damage to your weight management goals. Take a look at my top five tips for successfully managing Thanksgiving:
Donna's Top Five Thanksgiving Tips

  1. Write it down. Writing down what you're eating is the best way to stay on track with your weight management goals. If you're not in the habit of writing down what you're eating, consider focusing on a specific challenge area. For example, if you tend to overdo appetizers, write them down. If dessert or drinks are your downfall, write them down. Amping up your eating awareness, even if you're only paying attention for some of the day, is better than blindly noshing and munching your way through the day.
  2. Have a plan for stress management. For some, Thanksgiving is a relaxing, enjoyable day with no work and no worries. But for many of us, it's a day fraught with both work and worry. If you use food to help you cope with feelings, give some thought to how you'll manage your feelings. Thanksgiving is a perfect day to practice reasonable expectations for yourself and others, work on controlled breathing, explore aromatherapy, and put your assertive communication skills to work!
  3. Think about physical activity. The idea isn't to burn off the calories you're eating. Instead, focus on finding a balance between on food and Thanksgiving Day. For example, challenge family and friends to a game of tennis or bowling on your gaming system, go outside and toss around a football, or put on some favorite music and dance. Or, maybe you'd benefit from a quiet walk around the neighborhood. Either way, moving your body helps you stay in touch with how your body feels and needs.
  4. Be thankful. As simple and obvious as it sounds, taking the time to really feel thankful is something that's often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the day. Write down one thing you're thankful for, and post your note where you will see it often as the day progresses. Make a list of your blessings, and share it with others. Give of your time, talent, or treasure to others, or make plan to do so during the holiday season or next year. Enjoy the gifts and blessings you've received this year! 
  5. Keep your goals reasonable. If you usually eat 3 pieces of pie loaded with ice cream and whipped topping, cutting back to no dessert may start off well enough. Often, though, it morphs into an evening of, "Well, I'll just have a bite of yours..." "Well, I didn't have dessert, so eating my kid's leftover pie crust should be okay..." "Well, I haven't really had a plate of my own, so a little sliver won't do me any harm..." We all know how this game ends! It's more reasonable to plan ahead for one piece of pie, with a small scoop of ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream. 
Now it's your turn...How do you successfully navigate the Thanksgiving holiday? Share your tips and tricks with us! Next week, we'll take a look at a recipe for a sugar-free, lowered-fat, tofu-based sweet potato pie -- and yes, it tastes just as good as the usual sugar-laden, high-fat recipe. :) See you then!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recipe: Vietnamese Swai

This recipe is a melding of two Vietnamese favorites: Ca Chien Sot Ca Chua is a recipe for fried fish, which is then simmered in a seasoned tomato sauce. Nuoc Cham is a popular Vietnamese condiment. To save time and healthy up the recipe, here swai is poached in a tomato-based broth seasoned with made-from-scratch nuoc cham. The end result is a flavorful fish dish that, in typical Asian style, melds sweet, spicy, savory, salty, and sour flavors.

If you can't find Vietnamese fish sauce (widely available at Asian markets), any fish sauce (or even soy sauce) can be used to replace it, but it won't have quite the same authenticity. I serve this dish with orzo, but you can serve it as-is, with noodles, or with rice, as desired. I like it served in a bowl with orzo; it turns out like a thick stew. I like to think of it as comfort food, Vietnamese-style!


2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
4 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground peppercorn mix
1 pound swai
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


Combine tomatoes, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, and peppercorn mix in a large skillet. Add swai and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until fish flakes easily. Add green onions and cilantro, and stir to combine, breaking up fish into bite-sized pieces.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Recipe: Greek Salmon with Orzo

I've tweaked this recipe a little since I posted it back in 2009. I amped up the dressing with lemon juice, ground cayenne, and peppercorn mix to give it a bit more zip. Opa!

Greek Salmon with Orzo

I developed this recipe when experimenting with orzo for the first time. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta associated with Greece, so I used seasonings and ingredients reminiscent of a Greek flavor profile. It was an immediate hit with my family, and continues to be a family favorite. The recipe makes about 10 cups, so if you're cooking for 1 or 2, you may wish to halve the recipe.


1 (1-pound) package orzo
1 pound salmon fillets
Water (about 4 cups)
½ cup bottled minced garlic (or 6 cloves garlic, minced)
2 tablespoons basil flakes
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
2 teaspoons oregano flakes
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 large tomatoes, diced (or 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained)
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 (6-ounce) can black olives, halved or sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
2 dashes ground cayenne
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground peppercorn mix


Prepare orzo, following manufacturer’s instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, place salmon in large skillet. Add enough water to just cover. Add garlic, parsley, basil flakes, oregano, and rosemary to water, and gently stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until salmon is cooked through. Drain and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, drain out garlic and other seasonings, and reserve with salmon.

In a small measuring cup, combine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, water, cayenne, and peppercorn mix. Mix with a fork or whisk to combine.

To prepare, combine orzo, salmon and seasonings, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, fresh basil, and vinegar mixture in large bowl, breaking up salmon into bite-sized chunks and mixing well to combine.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mayday! Mayday! Mother's Day Is Around the Corner!

I recently received an e-mail from a vendor that contained a variety of gift suggestions for Mother's Day. While I loved the idea of getting a jump-start on Mother's Day shopping, I was alarmed by how many of the gift possibilities would hinder, rather than help, with weight management. That's unfortunate! So, whether you're a mom, or you're thinking about a gift for your mom, now's the perfect time to start gift-shopping...or start gift-hinting!

You don't need to settle for a bouquet of flowers or set Mom's weight management efforts back by taking her out to brunch. Instead, consider a gift grounded in the basics of successful weight management -- healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, hydration, and adequate sleep. Instead of setting her back, these outside-the-box gift ideas will give Mom a weight loss or weight maintenance boost:
  • Consider color therapy (also known as chromotherapy): At the top of my Mother's Day gift list is this LED color-changing light. I'm already thinking about how I'll enjoy a lavender-scented bath with a violet light. Want to learn more about chromotherapy? Check out Color Therapy Association's Web site at this link.
  • Experiment with aromatherapy: Did you know peppermint is associated with weight loss? Treat Mom to peppermint tea, peppermint incense (http://www.gonesh.net/ offers a peppermint-pine incense intended for the holidays, but it's delish all year long), or a peppermint-scented aromatherapy candle. If Mom can't stand peppermint, consider aromatherapy as part of her bedtime routine, or part of a stress management plan. I think it's odd, but
  • Give Mom a back rub. One of my favorite Mother's Day gifts was a massage mat for the car. I'm grateful for it every time I get in the van!
  • Help Mom enjoy a good night's sleep. If Mom has sinus issues, a wedge pillow can make sleeping through the night considerably easier. Or, spring for a wonderful new set of sheets, pillows, or another item that will enhance Mom's time in bed. 
  • Pay for a class. Pick up the tab for a fun new exercise class, like kickboxing, bikram yoga, belly dance, or Zumba. Or, maybe Mom's into a self-nurturing activity like painting, perfumery, or gardening. Get her a gift certificate to her favorite craft store or nursery. Many craft stores and nurseries also offer classes.
  • Pick up the tab for a special treat. Treat Mom to a massage, a hair appointment, a spa day, or a mani-pedi. Consider a gift certificate to her favorite store, or donate to her favorite cause.
  • Pick up the tab for new equipment. I'm almost reluctant to include this, because giving one of these gifts can easily be misconstrued. That said, a cool new water bottle, a gift certificate for those expensive workout shoes Mom's coveting, a gorgeous new yoga outfit, a pedometer, or a fancy new scale can give the mom who's serious about weight management a terrific boost. (But don't even think about giving Mom one of these gifts unless she's asked!)
  • Expand Mom's healthy eating horizons. Treat Mom to a meal at a healthy eatery, spend a leisurely afternoon at a farmer's market, or make Mom a healthy meal you know she'll love. Make Mom a basket filled with her favorite treats from Trader Joe's.
Now, a question for moms: What's the best Mother's Day gift you've received? Let us know below!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Make Your Meals HAPI...

...HAPIfork, that is. I recently ran across this story on www.myfoxny.com's Web site about a fork that vibrates when you eat too fast, and I just had to do some digging.

That led me to HAPIfork's Web site, www.hapilabs.com, where I learned more about their electronic fork specifically designed to track eating speed. The fork not only tracks how many times you bring your fork to your mouth; it also monitors how long it takes you to pick up your fork and put it down, as well as when you stop and start eating, and how long your meal lasts.

In addition, your eating information can be uploaded to the 'net (including iPhones, Android phones, and Windows mobile), so you can share the information with others. hapilabs.com suggests sharing the information with your "coach," which can "download his feedback alarm."

If you're interested, you can pre-order a HAPIfork for $99. The forks are attractive, and come in black, chrome, blue, pink, and green. Personally, I'd love to invest $300 to become a beta tester. Alas, my budget won't allow for it at this time. I'll have to be happy with my small fork, and continue to put it down after each bite. If you spring for a HAPIfork, please let us know how it goes!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Ten Tips" for Physical (Family) Activity

If you've taken either of my online classes, you already know I'm a big fan of MyPlate, which replaced the Food Guide Pyramid in 2011. But you may not be aware that on the MyPlate Web site (at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov) you can find a variety of resources for healthy living -- which, as we know, translates to successful long-term weight management.

One of MyPlate's resources is the "10 Tips Nutrition Education Series," a collection of gorgeous full-color handouts that offer practical ways to eat healthfully and increase physical activity. MyPlate recently released several new 10 Tips handouts, including Be Active Adults and Be An Active Family.

The tips and ideas in "Be Active Adults" are the same as those in my online class "Lose Weight," but it never hurts to pause a moment, reflect on what you're doing well, and consider what you might do differently to improve. (If you don't need to change anything, take the opportunity to appreciate all your hard work!) The "Be An Active Family" handout offers useful suggestions for encouraging physical activity in the family setting. It's geared for parents and kids, but it could easily be adapted for a household of adults.

If physical activity isn't a challenge for you and your household, or if you're curious about the other handouts available, click here for a link to the 10 Tips. My favorite is Eat Seafood Twice a Week, but with handouts ranging from healthy eating for children to budgeting to vegetarianism, there's something for everyone!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Hydrating, Better Teeth, and Fewer Calories, Too?!

Many of my students in "Lose Weight" decide to drink a glass of water before eating. Most of them find that it works well. There's a fair amount of research out there which suggests a glass of water (or a bowl of broth-based soup) before meals dulls appetite. This makes it easier to eat more slowly, eat less, and generally stay on track with weight management goals.

Personally, I've never found this tip useful. If I drink a glass of water before meals, I find myself thinking, "I'm not that full...after all, I had that big glass of water beforehand. I'm really just bloated, and if I don't eat a little more, I'll be hungry later."

Happily, my new dentist shared with me that although drinking 3 liters of water a day is good for dental health, drinking a glass of water after meals helps rinse out the mouth and protect the teeth. After trying it out, I was surprised to notice that, after eating a meal and drinking a glass of water, I felt satisfied without having dessert. I have a serious sweet tooth, so I was delighted to pass on dessert on more than one occasion, without feeling at all deprived.

So, if you're struggling to get in all the water you need, drinking a glass of water before and after your meals and snacks may benefit you. If you drink 8 ounces of water before and after three meals a day, that's 48 ounces of water...almost effortlessly. If you have a snack or two, that's another 16 to 32 ounces of water. In addition to all the inherent benefits of adequate hydration, you'll also eat more slowly or cut back on calories, again almost effortlessly. In addition, you'll be giving your teeth a boost, by "cleaning" them with a water rinse after eating. With all that good news, you'll have plenty to smile about!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Into Summer!

It may not be unseasonably warm in your part of the world, but summer's still on its way! As we look forward to longer days and warmer weather, many people find that maintaining or losing weight is easier. That said, spring and summer pose their own hazards to successful weight management.

For many people, springtime seems to herald a less hectic season, because "the holidays" are behind us until fall. In fact, there are a host of celebrations in the spring and summer -- Memorial Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Fourth of July.

And, of course, spring and summer bring graduations, weddings, baby showers, birthdays, and other parties and celebrations. Each of these celebrations doesn't have to revolve around food, but they typically do. When there's food involved, it doesn't have to wreak havoc on your weight management plans, but it often does. Summer, in particular, lulls people into a false sense of security: It's the time of year for traveling or hosting visitors (or both!), and that means it's all-too-easy for healthy habits to fall by the wayside.

So, before it gets any warmer, let's take a look at what you can do to stay on track with weight management...or get a jump on losing a few pounds before the weather warms up!

Top 5 Tips for Springing Into Summer

1. Take time for body pride. Spring and summer mean the arrival of warmer weather...and less clothing. Whether you're headed for the beach or not, spring is the time of year when both men and women shed their warm-weather clothes...and begin berating themselves about how horrible their bodies look. Don't fall into that trap! Remember to talk to yourself about your body the exact same way you'd talk to your nearest and dearest friends and family members.

This is also the time of year to plan ahead for maintaining healthy body pride through the summer season. How, you ask? Here are some suggestions: Buy a bathing suit, new summer blouse, or a pair of shorts you love that flatter your body right now. Up your swag factor in a cool new hat, or invest in some gorgeous summer jewelry. Decide ahead of time what assertive communication tools you'll need to successfully navigate family or social situations. Develop a new affirmation that supports body pride.

2.  Amp up lifestyle activity. Chances are good that, no matter how carefully you plan ahead for physical activity, you'll have days and times when your plans fall through. Spring and summer also bring a host of possible changes in eating habits, too -- and it's not all fresh fruits and veggies! Weddings, showers, graduations, and birthday parties all mean cake, while barbeques and beach parties invariably include alcohol, chips and dips, and so on. Before summer's over, you'll be glad you got up and shot a few hoops with the kids, swam a few extra laps, danced at a wedding, or went for a walk on the beach under the moonlight. Every little bit of activity helps, so don't turn down an opportunity to get up and move your body!

3. Keep an eye on portion size. One beautiful thing about summer -- fresh fruits and veggies are in season! Although fruit is a wonderfully healthy food choice, it still contains calories. Fruit smoothies, in particular, can be a high-calorie option. Non-starchy veggies are a terrific option, but keep an eye on portion sizes if you use high-calorie additions like cheese or butter.

4.  Drink water. Between warmer, more humid weather, and more lifestyle activity, you probably need more water. Many people are tempted to drink sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages that seem more refreshing, but in the long run, don't meet your hydration needs. Most people need at least 2 liters of water a day, and aiming for 3 liters, or even 4 liters, can making losing weight or keeping it off easier. (Check with your doctor if you're not sure how much water is right for you.) So, keep your water bottle handy, and make sure you stay on track with hydration.

5.  Get enough rest.  There are so many fun things to do in the summertime! It's easy for sleep to get short-changed, especially as the days lengthen and the lure of staying up late to enjoy outdoor activities with family and friends beckons. Plan ahead to get caught up on your sleep the next day by planning for a restful day, or taking a nap. If that doesn't work for you, then plan ahead for ways to handle the hunger that's due to fatigue.

Now it's your turn! How do you plan ahead for the warm-weather months? What helps you lose weight, or maintain your weight, during the summer months? Let us know! :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Hop Past Easter Candy

Given the chilly weather, it may be hard to believe, but...The Easter Bunny will be hopping your way this Sunday! (I'm assuming that on the East Coast, he'll be recruiting snowshoe hares to help him out.)

Happily, this is the last big candy day of the holiday season. Soon, the weather will warm up, the days will get longer, and the focus will naturally turn from candy to fresh fruit.

Until then, here's a short-but-sweet list of tips to help you handle the Easter candy deluge:

Top Five Tips for Hopping Past Easter Candy
  1. If you're not keeping a food record, start one! If you're skilled with eating awareness, you may benefit from keeping a sweets record. Write down (or take a picture with your cell phone) every sweet treat you eat. If you're drinking more soda, wine, or other beverages, make a note of that, too.
  2. Remember that Easter, like other holidays, will come around again next year. If you don't eat a crème-filled egg, it's okay. You can enjoy one next year.
  3. Don't fall into the trap of thinking, "I won't see Peeps for a year...I better eat a bunch now!" Eating a dozen Peeps won't keep you from craving them in July.
  4. Consider balancing candy with non-food treats. This year, my son wants a hoodie he can tie-dye himself, my older daughter wants potted hyacinths, and my younger daughter wants a hydroponic tomato plant kit. I'm also going to fill plastic eggs with candy and hide them around the house and in the yard, but it's the big gifts that they look forward to receiving. You can use this tip to make it easier to bypass Easter candy, too.
  5. If you don't already have a personal or family tradition that includes physical activity, this is the year to begin one! Go to the park, take a walk, toss around a football or Frisbee with the kids, get everyone dancing on the Wii. Create your own March Madness challenge, and compete with friends or family!
Now it's your turn! What do you do to keep the number on the scale from hopping around during the Easter season? Let us know! :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Recipe: Salmon in Pineapple Curry

I get a kick out of finding intriguing recipes, then changing them up to make them either healthier, quicker and easier to prepare, or both. In this particular recipe, I changed up a recipe for Pineapple Curry Tofu, which I found in a "Las Vegas Chefs Healthy Recipe Book," and made it quicker and easier to prepare.

I've also changed up the seasonings a little, as the original recipe called for tofu, which I replaced it with salmon. Because salmon has a more assertive flavor, I amped up the other flavors in the dish, too.

When I made this recipe last week, I served it on egg noodles, and its overall appearance worked well. If you prefer to serve it on brown rice, spaghetti, or just by itself on the plate, I suggest switching out the crushed pineapple for chunk or sliced pineapple (choose a sugar-free pineapple so you can use the juice). Or, omit the canned pineapple altogether, and replace it with pineapple juice.

Salmon in Pineapple Curry


8 ounces egg noodles (optional)
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
1 pound salmon
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro, minced


If using, prepare egg noodles according to manufacturer's directions. Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, combine pineapple, tomatoes, coconut milk, onion, bell pepper, garlic, curry, and Sriracha in large skillet. Add salmon. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and cook until salmon is cooked through.

If desired, break up salmon. Add lime juice and cilantro and stir well to combine. Or, leave salmon intact. Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with cilantro as a garnish.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Recipe: Madras Tomato Cream Soup

I just developed this recipe last week, but I've already fallen hard for it. You'll love it, too: It's creamy, spicy, and flavorful, and takes less than 20 minutes to prepare. I've replaced the usual milk and cream with tofu, which bumps up the protein content while lowering fat and calories. It makes a perfect lunch served with naan bread. Or, for a casual supper, pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich.

You'll find whole cumin seeds and garam masala at most larger supermarkets, but you'll probably need to visit your local ethnic market for black mustard seeds. While you're there, stock up on bottled minced ginger and garlic, and look for any other spices or ingredients you need. Ethnic markets are typically considerably less expensive! I shop at my local Rani's because I absolutely love their garam masala; no other brand will do, as far as I'm concerned. Rani's also carries a huge range of Indian and ethnic products at fantastic prices. No Rani's in your neighborhood? No problem! Shop online at www.ranisworldfoods.com.

Madras Tomato Cream Soup


2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 (12-ounce) package Mori-Nu tofu
1/4 cup milk (I use plain soy milk)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon Indian chili powder
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute, or until seeds are fragrant. (Be careful not to burn the seeds.) Remove pan from heat.

Puree tomatoes and onions in blender or food processor until just smooth. Carefully add tomato mixture to saucepan (it may bubble or even splatter vigorously when the hot oil and cold tomatoes interact). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 -15 minutes, or until onion is cooked.

Meanwhile, puree tofu and milk until smooth. Set aside.

When onion is cooked, remove soup from heat. Add tofu mixture, garam masala, and chili powder, and stir to combine. Cook on low heat until just heated through (do not allow soup to boil). Just before serving, add cilantro and stir to combine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recipe: Habas Grandes con Chorizo (Giant Limas with Chorizo)

Today's recipe isn't just a vegetarian recipe, nor just a uniquely delightful one-dish meal that will transport you to the Iberian peninsula. It's something a little different altogether than what I've done before here on my blog, or what I provide in my online class "Luscious, Low-fat, Lightning-Quick Meals."

Have I peaked your curiosity? I purchased a new pressure cooker last summer, and since then, I've been exploring the delights of making meals that would typically take hours--but, thanks to the pressure cooker, can be served up in under two hours. This particular recipe takes about an hour to prepare and cook, and for the majority of that time, the pressure cooker does the work.

In addition to being a quick and easy pressure cooker recipe, it's an excellent addition to any collection of vegetarian recipes, whether you're giving up meat for Lent, aiming for Meatless Mondays, or just want to enjoy the occasional meatless meal. Thanks to the use of giant lima beans, it's also loaded with fiber and phytochemicals. Vegetarian chorizo, thyme, onion, and garlic give this recipe a spicy Spanish flavor that contrasts wonderfully with the creamy, meaty lima beans. As they say in Spain, !Buen provecho!

Habas Grandes con Chorizo (Giant Limas with Chorizo)


12 ounces vegetarian (soy-based) chorizo
1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry (cooking sherry is fine)
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound giant lima beans
6 cups water


Cook chorizo, onion, sherry, garlic, and thyme in pressure cooker on pressure cooker's SAUTE setting until chorizo is cooked and onions are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans and water, and stir to combine. Pressure cook on HIGH setting for 40 minutes.

Cook's Notes: These instructions are based on my pressure cooker's standards (i.e., I used SAUTE, 1 pound beans:6 cups water, 40 minutes on HIGH to cook 1 pound lima beans, etc.). Double-check your pressure cooker directions for safety and to ensure proper cooking.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Recipe: Slow Cooker Bouillabaisse

Next Tuesday is Mardi Gras, French for "Fat Tuesday." That means Lent is right around the corner! If you take advantage of the Lenten season to explore vegan or fish-based recipes, you're in luck. I'll be devoting several blog posts to recipes that are perfect for Lent, beginning with the beloved French dish bouillabaise.

Because bouillabaise is a classic, there are many opinions and variations. Some chefs prefer a mixture of fish and seafood; others believe white wine is a necessary ingredient; still others add a touch of orange zest or bay leaf.

I've tried all of these variations, and my original, simple version is still my favorite. I add orzo, and the end result is hearty, flavorful, and slightly soupy--the ultimate Lenten comfort food!

Slow Cooker Bouillabaise


1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground peppercorn mix
1 pound mild-flavored white fish (I prefer swai)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)


Combine onion, garlic, tomatoes, fennel seeds, and peppercorn mix in slow cooker. Add fish and cook on LOW 4 - 6 hours, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Add saffron threads, if using, and mix well, breaking up fish into small pieces.

Shortly before serving, prepare orzo according to manufacturer's directions. Drain well. Add orzo to slow cooker and mix well.

Cook's Notes: If you have a mortar and pestle, or a spice grinder, that's the easiest way to crush fennel seeds. But you can put them in a plastic bag and crush them with the back of a spoon instead.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year...New You?

It's the time of year when my blog post topics turn to thoughts of explaining how it's better to develop SMART goals, instead of resolutions. However, my thoughts have been hijacked this January, after a cluster of seemingly unrelated situations occurred. Although there was no relationship between the events, all of the events had one thing in common. That thing happens to be closely related to SMART goals, so although this is a different take on January, I hope pondering this thought briefly will be as useful to you as it's been to me lately.

One of the things that happened led me to pay closer attention to how automatic my thoughts are in certain situations. When I've been conscious of my thoughts, and deliberately chosen to reframe my thoughts as necessary, it's almost overwhelming how successful my efforts have been.

My reframing efforts have highlighted one critical truth: If you can't figure out what your part in something is, you've got trouble. It's only when we can identify what we're doing wrong that we can take steps to do it right. If you're in the habit of finger-pointing elsewhere, then you're at the mercy of those at whom you point.

This is a basic life truth with myriad applications, but when it comes to weight management, it's especially true. If you can't follow through on physical activity, healthy eating, sleep, or any other element of weight management because someone else is keeping you from doing what you need to do, you're stuck. It's only when you assume responsibility for things that you have any real power to do things differently.

As you contemplate your goals for this new year, I encourage you to keep these thoughts in mind. Tackling those areas where you tend to blame others for how things are going, and finding your part in those situations or relationships, can go a long way toward helping you reach your weight management goals!

Can you relate? Whether you're struggling to find your part in a particular challenge, or if you've overcome an obstacle by taking responsibility for your part in it, let us know by posting your perspective.