Happy Halloween!

Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of year.  I remember growing up my dad would take me and a big group of all of my friends to different neighborhoods to trick-or -treat.  We would go door to door filling pillow cases (yes, pillow cases) full of candy.  One of my favorite costumes was when I dressed up as a sumo wrestler.  I brought home about 20 pounds of candy that year, which could have easily made me feel like a sumo wrestler the next morning if I would have eaten it all at once.

I am a big believer in enjoying holidays because of all the fun memories they bring, and Halloween is no different. However, there are ways to celebrate without making you feel like a sumo wrestler the next day.  Some people may tell you to hand out pencils or apples as an alternative to candy.  I don’t know about you, but I do not want my house tee-pee’d so I would recommend sticking to the candy.  Here are a few tips to prevent you (and your kids) from gorging and potentially throwing off all the hard work you have done to stay healthy.

candy gif

  • Before heading out for the evening, eat a hearty and nutrition packed meal. One of our favorites is Turkey Chili.  You can find our favorite recipe to use at the bottom of this post.  This recipe is packed with protein and fiber which are sure to fill you up.
  • Make sure to not have too much candy at your own house, that way you are not snacking before the big trick-or-treating festivities start.
  • When shopping for candy to hand out, try to get the fun size or snack size options.
  • Make the time after trick-or-treating just as exciting as all the candy the kids brought back. Plan to watch a movie or have a sleepover with friends.  That way there is more to focus on then just candy.
  • Have your little goblins pick out a few of their favorite pieces and lay the rest aside until a later time. Moderation, especially during Halloween, is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

Turkey Chili

Makes 8 servings


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large diced yellow onion
  • 2 diced fresh jalapenos (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of plain tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1- 2 cups of water to desired thickness
  • 2 TBSP chili powder (add more to taste)
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 TBSP paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)
  • 1 TSP oregano
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cheese for topping (if desired)


  • In a large soup pot, sweat onion, garlic, and jalapenos in 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Add ground turkey and brown
  • Add remaining ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes
  • To serve, top with cheese (if desired) and crackers

Have a fun and safe Halloween.



Work Out Like Nobody is Watching…

Today I taught nutrition education classes for K-4th grade.  One of my favorite things to ask is, “what is your favorite way to stay physically active?”  It is always so much fun to hear their answers.  A few said playing sports or running, but the majority said bike riding, jumping rope, dancing, skateboarding,swimming, etc.  When did working out become so uniform?  Do we hit a certain age where having fun while staying active is not possible?  I feel many of us (and myself included) fall into a routine of waking up, going to work, getting home, eating dinner, and then maybe motivating ourselves to run in circles (literally) or hit the sidewalk for a late night walk.  While it’s awesome that you can get yourself up and get moving, should we be dreading it that much?

My simple substitute for the day is to simply substitute the physical activity you despise doing for something you actually enjoy.  If you are one of the many that hate running, then don’t.  Just like different flavors of food, not every kind of exercise fits everyone.  If you hate the exercise you are gearing up to do, it’s more likely that you will skip doing it.  The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week.  However, they do not specify HOW you need to get that activity.  Physical activity can take many shapes so try some of the things you loved growing up – hula hooping, jump roping, riding a bike, and so forth.  These exercises can build great stamina and may actually get you thinking about other types of activity. Grab a friend or a loved one to join you when you can.  The motivation someone else can give you can go a long way to hitting your fitness goals.


Working in physical activity can boost energy, help you sleep better, and assist in concentration throughout the work day.  It’s time to lose the excuses because everyone benefits when you stay in shape.  Start exercising like nobody is watching and do something you enjoy!


Try it Tuesday

We love to try new things (some turn out much better than others) and smashed cauliflower is one of those keepers that will make it’s way back to our dinner table.  We made a simple substitution of using cauliflower mixed with potatoes to bulk up a dinner time classic with extra veggies.

Mashed Cauliflower with Parmesan Cheese:

Makes Approximately 4 servings


  • 2 small red potatoes
  • 2.5 cups raw washed cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp low-fat milk
  • 6 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a medium size pot, bring water to a boil. While the water is boiling, cube red potatoes (leaving the skin on, it’s an excellent source if fiber) in to small pieces, then chop the cauliflower in to similar size pieces. Drop both in to boiling water.  Boil for approximately 15 minutes (or until the cauliflower and potatoes are tender). Drain water off. Add butter and milk to the potato and cauliflower mixture. Mix with a hand blender or potato masher. Hand mix in the salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Serve.

Nutrition information: Calories per serving: 157, Fat: 5.5 grams, Sodium 155 mg, Fiber 3.5 grams, Protein 7.3 grams

Smashed cauliflower

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

How many food decisions do you think you make in a day?

According to a study done at Cornell University by Dr. Brian Wansink, the average American thinks that they make about 15 food choices a day, but in reality we are actually making more than 200 food choices every day.  Yes, 200+ food choices every single day!  According to Dr. Brian Wansink, “It’s the small things around us that influence the 200 plus food and beverage decisions we make every day.  It’s family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.”  Most of us do not overeat because we are hungry, we overeat because we are not listening to external cues telling us we are full.  For instance, overeating while in a social setting, say happy hour, is easier than overeating when sitting down at the dinner table at home.  Getting lost in a conversation, a television show, or work can distract you from listening to brain cues telling you that you’re full.  By paying attention to your surroundings and being AWARE of what you are eating can either make or break your pant size.  Here are a few simple substitutions to avoid filling up and overeating:

  • Change your everyday plate size.  Our everyday dinner plates look more like platters now and our salad plates are looking like a dinner plate should.  By changing the size of your plate, you can actually trick your brain in to thinking there is more food in front of you then there actually is, helping to keep portion sizes in check.  After you finish one plate, think about if you feel hungry before you go back for more. This way you are conscious of the amount of food you are consuming.
  • Set the fork down in between bites and drink water. Simply by extending the length of your meal time, you can consume fewer calories.  Setting the fork down and sipping water in between bites can lengthen the time of the meal and give your brain time to update your stomach that you are eating and send signals that you are filling up.
  • Ditch the TV at dinner time. As many of you know, A TON of eating can take place in front of the television. It’s extremely easy to lose track of how much food you have consumed when you’re staring blankly into a screen.  Whether you’re eating a snack or a meal, flip the TV or computer off and focus on what you are eating.


  • Cut the portion in half when out to dinner. If you go out to dinner with friends or family, think back to that salad side plate you have swapped to at home.  How much of that food you just ordered would fit on that plate at home?  Typically, it’s about half of what you ordered.  Get your mind set right before you make it to dinner and eat until your are comfortable.  Don’t get so full that it’s hard to get the seat belt on when you get in the car.  Keep the leftovers for lunch the next day and you just saved yourself calories and a few dollars.

Start simple with these few substitutions to make you aware of your settings and how much food you are actually eating.


Why Do We Eat?

Why do we eat?  That’s really a loaded question that everyone will have their own answers to.  Many of us eat the way we do to be social, to fit in, it is how you were raised, and the list goes on.  When you add in all of these factors, eating anymore isn’t just eating, it’s a conscious decision that you make every single day.  It’s estimated that there are 43,000 food items in your average grocery store and the average American makes 1.6 trips to the store a week (Food Marketing Institute).  That being said… NO KIDDING it’s so difficult to decide what to eat anymore!  There is always a new trend of dieting, a quick fix shake to help you lose 50 pounds in 50 minutes, or a miracle food that will lower your blood pressure by looking at it….  I hate to break it to you, but if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

It can be unbelievably stressful and discouraging when you start eating healthy, you start exercising and you don’t see the results you want right away.  We live in a society where everything is instant gratification, but anything that is worthwhile will take some time.  This is no different with leading a healthier lifestyle.  There is always something like a wedding that you sulk over because you had a slice of cake, or a Saturday morning of guilt because O’Fallon Brewery released their Pumpkin Beer and you know that the three you had was not the lowest calorie choice.  Many of us beat ourselves up to the point of deciding the infamous “Well, I ate bad yesterday so I may as well just keep it rolling and eat badly again today.”  It’s time to ditch that mentality because that’s the one that gets us in the most trouble.


So you had a bad food day?  We all do.  Now pick yourself back up, get back on track the next day, and forget about it.  One bad day does not need to throw you off for an entire week.  A Saturday night with friends, a Thursday happy hour, a birthday party… these are the things you need to ENJOY since they are the things in life that make it so great.  One bad day does not make you gain weight; it’s the decisions that are made the other six days a week that can lead to the unwanted pounds.

Let’s keep it simple and make substitutions to our everyday lives that keep us healthy but will still let us just eat for the enjoyment of eating!  Let’s EAT!