Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Celebrating Sue Wilsey – NutriFit’s January 2016 Client of the Month!”

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Sue Wilsey knew that it was time to make the move to get healthier. Lots riding on her “feeling” better in her skin, and of course, improving her overall health; her daughter’s upcoming wedding, plus a “milestone” birthday for Sue, herself.

Read on to be inspired by Sue’s commitment to getting back to fit, and how we at NutriFit are privileged to play a role!

SUE Client of the Month

  1. What is your favorite exercise and why?

So happy that Emily put those pink boxing gloves on me. Great way to sweat and blow off some steam.

 

  1. What is your least favorite exercise and why?

I have a nagging knee issue that hinders my success at balancing exercises. I’m not going to give up on those however.

 

  1. What fitness achievement are you most proud of?

Beginning this journey. For the first time in my almost 60 years on this planet, I actually look forward to my workouts and miss them on my days off.

 

  1. What goals or challenges do you have set for yourself now?

To add at least one day of doing strength exercises at home, now that I’m getting the hang of them. I also want to add a day or two of yoga and more walking!

 

  1. What do you like most about NutriFit Personal Training?

Cathy and Emily really care and it motivates me and makes me accountable.

 

  1. Do you have any advice for prospective NutriFit Personal Training clients?

Don’t waste any more money on joining gyms you never go to or buying DVDs you never watch. I’m approaching this as a very valuable fitness education, one that will remain a part of my life forever. What is a better investment than in a healthier you?

 

 

 

 

 

“3 Reasons to Elevate Your Health”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

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I’ve recently fallen in love with the word “elevate”.

Definition: “To lift up, to increase the level of, to make higher”.

It’s not that I just learned the word so it holds new-word novelty making me want to say it over and over and over; that word would be onomatopoeia, which I learned at a recent Toastmaster’s meeting and truly can’t stop saying.

It’s simply that I’ve realized how perfectly “elevate” fits with the work that I do – and it has me a little giddy.

I help people elevate their health.

Which isn’t as easy as it may sound. You see, people must be READY to want their health actually elevated. And that’s not always the case.

Some people need to be convinced that it’s a good idea to take care of themselves.

Those aren’t the clients I work with.

I’m known for saying, “I don’t want to convince you to look after your health – but I do want to help you once you’ve decided that you value your health AND that your health (and you) is worth valuing”.

That’s where the magic happens. When people come to the realization that their health IS PRECIOUS and they’re ready to do whatever it takes get and stay healthy – look. out.

So if you’re on the fence – not really sure if taking better care of yourself is worth it or not – here are 3 strongly compelling reasons why you may just want to say yes.

  1. You’ll stay out of health debt. We all know we must stay out of debt in order to stay financially fit. You know, money in the bank, zero balance on the credit cards, contribute to the retirement fund, spend less than we earn. All sound advice. And easily applicable to health. When you sock away health riches, you simply have a bigger reserve to draw from when (and believe me, we ALL have a when) you need it, thus keeping yourself out of health debt. Your energy, vitality, stamina, strength, reserve, and your ability to recover and withstand medical treatments all hinge on how nutritionally and physically healthy you are.
  • Tweak your diet to be sure you’re fueling versus filling.
  • Exercise weekly for at least the recommended 150 minutes.
  1. You’ll stop bouncing in and out of exercise and weight loss programs. When you do something drastic, such as an extreme (or even not-so-extreme) diet and fitness program, you will not be able to maintain that level of deprivation and restriction long-term. So you stop and then you start. Again. Over and over and over. If you’re not following a nutrition and fitness program that SUPPORTS vs. RULES your lifestyle, you’ll continue to yo-yo. And that means you won’t make progress, and you won’t keep yourself out of health debt.
  • Focus on what you can shave or swap from your current diet versus focusing on what you need to completely eliminate or avoid.
  • Find an exercise that you LOVE (yes, walking counts) and do THAT. Not a runner? Don’t run. Hate swimming? Don’t swim. Seriously.
  1. Your body will respond in kind. You know how when you forget to water your summer flower pots they seem to wilt before your eyes? The vibrancy of the petals is dulled, the leaves begin to crinkle, the stems lose their perk. What happens when you finally give them a big, healthy drink of water? They perk back up right before your eyes, gifting you with the joy of color, vibrancy and vitality. Same thing happens with your body. Give it what it needs on a regular basis and you will be rewarded with vibrancy and vitality – which makes you want to keep giving yourself what you actually need, which helps you stop bouncing in and out of extreme exercise and weight loss programs, which in turn feeds your health bank account and prevents health debt. See? Magic.
  • Remember to eat every 3-4 hours.
  • Move your body in physical activity every, single day.

“Herb-ucation”

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Guest post by Leah Freund

In my last guest blog, I decided to test my gardening skills and planted vegetable and herb seeds (if you missed that blog, check it out here). About four weeks later, they’re growing slowly but surely! Every pot of seeds has sprouted at least a couple plants, and green beans are winning the race. I have green beans, zucchini, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, dill, parsley, and basil on the way.

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While we’re still waiting for vegetables to pick, let’s take a closer look at why it’s a great idea to “add more plants to your plate.”

It’s a well-documented fact that fruits and vegetables have a very positive effect on one’s health. But what benefits do herbs provide? Every herb has its own useful properties, and I’ll use the herbs I’m growing as examples.

Basil

There are many varieties of basil including large-leaf Italian sweet, tiny-leaf bush, thai, lemon, and African blue. Basil contains antioxidants, flavonoids that protect cells from damage, and oils that have antibacterial properties. It is also used in numerous remedies including treating sore gums, earaches, hair loss, and indigestion.

Cilantro

Cilantro (coriander) is considered an herb and a spice because both the leaves and seeds are used. It has a number of compounds that are helpful in fighting cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It also contains iron, magnesium, and manganese. Iranian folk medicine uses cilantro to help anxiety and insomnia.

Parsley

The two most common forms of parsley are flat and curly leaf. Curly leaf is frequently used as a garnish, but that’s not all parsley does! It contains Vitamin C, iodine, iron, and other minerals. There are also a number of components that are considered cancer preventatives.

Next time you’re cooking, think about your ingredients and the benefits they provide. Even little guys like herbs can have a big impact!

“Salad Jar Daze”

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

You know it’s important to eat your veggies – a 3rd grader could tell you that.

Yet when most people think about adding more veggies to their day, bags of plain (boring) baby carrots and plates of (over) steamed broccoli often come to mind, squashing even the best of intentions. Even a devoted veggie lover like me can’t get excited about that.

If one of your goals is to “put more plants on your plate”, packing a salad (along with the dressing) in glass canning jars is a fun, creative, efficient way to make that happen.

Canning jars come in a variety of sizes, but the wide-mouth pint or quart sizes work well for this purpose. A pint jar holds two cups, perfect for a lunch or side salad, while a quart jar holds four cups – good for crowd or dinner size salads.

Simply pour salad dressing (1-4 tablespoons) into the bottom of the jar, then layer the veggies, starting with heavy, non-absorbent varieties like carrots, onions, cauliflower and cabbage, and ending with the lighter ingredients like spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc. on top.

Press down the veggies, screw on the lid, and that’s it! “Salad jars” keep will in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (yes!), making it super easy to have a ready-to-eat salad available at any time. When you’re ready to eat, just shake the jar to distribute the dressing, or simply pour the contents into a bowl and toss a bit with your fork.

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Have fun mixing and matching ingredients and dressings, and congratulations on accomplishing your goal!

“Adventures in Gardening.”

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Guest post by Leah Freund

A friend of mine recently inspired me to try something new…. start a garden. She is growing a couple herbs that she uses regularly for cooking, but I decided to take it a step further and try herbs and vegetables. While on a recent trip to Menards to grab supplies for the Mother’s Day gift I was going to make, I spotted seed kits and bought the vegetable and herb packs that contained the seeds pictured below.

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I have no gardening experience, and I wasn’t even sure which vegetables work in pots and which ones don’t. Due to space constraints and the lack of a real “garden”, they were all put in pots. I’ve planted the seeds, labeled the pots, the rain has taken care of any watering the past few days, and now we wait!

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So why grow your own food?

Convenience. Sometimes, food choices are made based on convenience. You don’t have time to run to the store so you make the quickest meal you can find, which might not be the healthiest option. What’s more convenient than your own back yard?! It doesn’t get easier than stepping right outside to grab that one ingredient you’re missing for your meal and saving a trip to the store.

Fresh tastes better. Many times with produce in stores, you’re not sure when it was picked and how far it had to travel to get to you. With your own garden, you get food at its freshest. Take green beans for example. You can taste a difference from canned to frozen, or frozen to garden-fresh. And fresh always wins (in my opinion).

Control. The beauty of growing your own plants is that you know exactly where they came from. If you’re the person controlling the day-to-day maintenance, you know there are no harmful chemicals or pesticides. You can even buy organic seeds.

Triumph! Imagine making a meal with ingredients that came from a seed YOU planted, watered, and took care of. What a sense of accomplishment! Personally, I’d just like to see some of the seeds turn into actual plants and I would consider it a win!

Stay tuned to see how (or if) my plants turn out!

“A Lunchtime Tale of Love, Hate, and Obsession”

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

It happens every, single, workday, Monday through Friday. LUNCH.

I LOVE lunch, especially the lunches I make for myself (nutritious, delicious, and FREE!). I’m definitely not a lunch skipper; I’ve got to be on top of my mental game for afternoon clients, meetings or speaking events. Low energy and blood sugar, and foggy, sluggish thinking don’t allow me to do my best work, and that’s a disservice to anyone who entrusts their health and wellbeing to me.

What I’m definitely NOT a fan of, however, is actually making my nutritious, delicious, free lunch every, single, day. Truth be told, I hate it. When I get home from my office, I only want to decompress, eat dinner, and spend a little time with my husband before heading off to my crazy-early bedtime. See? No space for lunch making.

With no private chef or housekeeper to make my noon meal, I had to get creative to solve my love/hate relationship with lunch. Here’s what I came up with; prep once, eat 5 times.

The solution is pure genius, and involves three of my obsessions. I’ve outlined my approach below – I’m certain it will work for you, too.

Obsession #1 – I’ve become obsessed with Snapware® http://snapware.com/, the GLASS version. I use two large rectangular containers,

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and on Sunday I pack them FULL of salad fixings. I haven’t measured the volume (the volume indicated on the bottom is in milliliters, which doesn’t translate well to cups of veggies), but I would say they easily hold 4-5 cups of chopped veggies. These two containers provide five generous salads, which means I only have to do all of that chopping ONCE!

Obsession #2 – A wide variety of fresh, “heavy-hitter” vegetables. I don’t want a salad that’s wimpy on quality nutrition, nor one that’s “just lettuce” – I’d be STARVING within 20 minutes of polishing it off!  Here’s a sample of what I typically include:

  • Carrots
  • Red or green onion
  • Fresh kale or spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Red cabbage

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I top each salad with a sprinkle of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and raisins. Heaven!

Obsession #3 – Homemade salad dressing, which is ALWAYS tastier (and better for you), than store-bought. I have a few I rotate through, but here’s my current fav; http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-miso-tahini-dressing-172942 (I use white miso). I make enough for the entire week – if there’s any left over, I take it home and use it up over the weekend.

What rounds out the meal is a good protein source, so I’ll add a week’s worth of hummus or bean-based soup. I also bring five pieces of fruit (typically oranges and apples), which serves as a sweet finish to my feast.

I also keep crackers and raw almonds stashed at the office; the crackers serve as a crunchy accompaniment to my salad, and the almonds are a satisfying side to my fruit.

Bring it ALL in on Monday, and essentially, you’re set for the week. So there you have it! My secret weapon in managing my love/hate lunch relationship. Pure genius.

“SNACK SMACK”

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

You know how sometimes your perception of what you see isn’t exactly what was INTENDED for you to see (or think. or believe.)? I find this to be particularly true in food marketing, where labelling language in the form of subtle wording slights, omissions or assumptions often purports an item to be “a healthier choice”, when in reality, it simply isn’t . Either that, or the actual food item is a far cry from what was insinuated on the packaging.

Case in point.

My nutrition clients are busy. They’re travelling, on the go, and don’t have much extra time, so we often brainstorm ideas for nutritious, delicious, energy-sustaining, pack-along snacks.

Recently, a client recounted a variety of snack choices consumed during a weekend of travelling, and one particular choice repeatedly popped up; “SkinnyPop”. SkinnyPop

I’ve had a number of clients rave about this popcorn treat, how it’s “healthy”, and a “better-choice snack”. They find the term “skinny” particularly appealing, and more than a few have mentioned that it’s “addictive, like crack”.

I had to learn exactly what about this treat was so darn “skinny”, and why it seemed to have such a hold on my clients.

After reading the “SkinnyPop”website, I literally sat shaking my head in wonder. The “skinny” in “SkinnyPop”? NOTHING to do with calories or fat, and EVERYTHING to do with ingredients.

From the website:

What makes SkinnyPop “skinny”? Do you remember old-fashioned, buttered popcorn? Like the popcorn you can still get at movie theatres? We do. In fact, we used to make it. It was heavy on buttery topping and other artificial flavors. Our fans asked us for something with less topping, but with that same great taste, and we came up with SkinnyPop – skinny on ingredients!

That’s it?? Fewer ingredients?

If I conducted a random poll on what comes to mind if I said “SkinnyPop”, I think LESS CALORIES | LESS FAT | NON-FATTENING | EAT WITH RECKLESS ABANDON is what most people would think, not “fewer ingredients”.

And the skinny ingredients in “SkinnyPop”? Popcorn, sunflower oil, salt.

Nothing special. Nothing surprising. Nothing you don’t have in your own kitchen.

Nutritional breakdown?

  • 1 cup “SkinnyPop” Original Flavor – 40 calories | 2.6 g fat | .8 g fiber
  • 1 cup popcorn popped in oil – 55 calories | 3 g fat | 1.1 g fiber

In terms of calories and fat, there is essentially no difference. “SkinnyPop” comes in 4 flavors; original, black pepper, white cheddar and naturally sweet. Serving size for original and black pepper is 3.75 cups, but 3.5 cups for white cheddar and naturally sweet. A smaller serving size yields a lower calorie and fat amount closer to the original/plain version – even with the addition of ingredients that bump up calories and fat.

Sneaky.

Personally, I’m a HUGE fan of popcorn. I like to pop my own on the stove top, in a combination of olive and coconut oils or plain canola oil, then sprinkle with sea salt, and if I’ve a taste for it, nutritional yeast.

Popcorn is a whole grain, naturally low in calories and fat, and high in fiber. There is one piece of literature that received quite a bit of press a number of years ago, suggesting that popcorn is high in polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2012/march/popcorn-the-snack-with-even-higher-antioxidants-levels-than-fruits-and-vegetables.html, yet a literature search in reliable, credible PubMed turned up no other such research.

Regardless, popcorn does have an overall healthy profile, and I definitely recommend it as a filling, nutritious snack; just remember to pay attention to the amount of butter, cheese, or caramel you douse it in – completely changes the landscape, if you know what I mean. And if you have diabetes, 3 cups of popcorn equals 1 carbohydrate serving (whether it’s “SkinnyPop” or not!).

If you choose to skip the oil, this looks like an interesting way to air-pop popcorn https://www.vat19.com/item/catamount-microwave-popcorn-popper. I advise you avoid microwave popcorn completely – neither the ingredients nor the packaging are good for your health.

The take-away? When it comes to food manufacturing and marketing, it pays to dig a little deeper to learn the true meaning behind the hype. And as for “addictive, like crack”? I’ve never tasted it, so I welcome your comments and experiences!

 

 

“Francene In The Kitchen!”

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

If you follow my NutriFit blogs and Facebook postings regularly, the declaration below will come as no surprise, as I unfailing lend my voice to the cause for cooking. For those of you new to my work, please join me in this most important cause!

“I believe everyone can benefit from preparing more home cooked meals and snacks.”

There, I said it.

And I said it knowing full well that:

  1. not everyone likes to cook
  2. not everyone knows HOW to cook
  3. not everyone is interested in learning to like or how to cook

Before you list all the reasons why more cooking will never happen in YOUR kitchen, let me clarify.

I’m not suggesting you spend ALL your time preparing home cooked meals, nor preparing every dish from scratch. I’m simply advocating for devoting MORE time to a practice that gives you more control over the nutritional content and overall healthfulness of the food you eat – two benefits that support efforts to eat better – and who doesn’t want THAT?

And while some of the latest “fad” recommendations for achieving a healthy lifestyle call for herculean efforts (often discouraging a person from even starting), a gentle nudge to spend a little more time in the kitchen feels attainable to the most rudimentary cooks.

To further encourage you, I’d like to share what one of my clients is discovering in her quest to cook at home more often.

First, a little background.

As a rule, Francene (permission granted to use her real name) and her husband eat their main meal at a restaurant – pretty much every, single day. Francene is a beginner cook, intimidated by meal preparation, and lacks confidence in her culinary skills – not the best skill set for retreating to the kitchen and whipping up a quick meal.

Through nutrition sessions based on education, encouragement and guidance to start small, Francene became determined to give cooking a try. As it turns out, she did more than merely try.

When we met following the Thanksgiving holiday, Francene shared the lineup of dishes she’d prepared over the long weekend, and completely blew me away. She prepared not one experimental dish – but five – and brought photos of her masterpieces to share (spaghetti photo missing, as is the cauliflower and sweet potato sides that accompanied the roasted chicken before it became soup).

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“Perky Salads!”

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“Pork Roast”

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“Roasted Veggies”

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“Chicken Noodle Soup”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Francene googled “beginner cook” recipes, and after finding several that looked appealing and called for familiar ingredients, she set to work simply following the directions – drawing on inspiration and encouragement provided during our nutrition sessions. How amazing is THAT?

At our meeting this week, Francene reported that she and her husband have eaten out only once in two weeks; which made me curious to learn what benefits she’s recognized from “eating in”.

  1. More time. It takes them ~2 hours to drive to a restaurant, order, wait for their food, eat, and drive home. That is NOT an unreasonable estimate, either.
  2. More energy. Says Francene, “It’s “tiring” to put the energy into going out; getting dressed and presentable,” vs. simply sitting down to the kitchen table.”

I hope Francene’s story has inspired you. Hopefully you see that home cooking doesn’t have to be elaborate, just simple, homey and nourishing – the best cooking there is.

So what are you waiting for? Get in that kitchen, and cook for a cause – your health. There’s none better!

 

2014 Holiday Season’s Eating & Exercise Challenge #1

Monday, December 1st, 2014

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I tend to think of Thanksgiving as eating and exercise preparedness for the remainder of the holiday season, which typically wraps up (or hits a fever pitch) somewhere around New Year’s Eve. In other words, it sets the tone for the next five weeks.

Yep, we’re five Monday’s and four weekends away from 2015, unless you push your requisite January resolution off to Monday the 5th (January 1 lands on a Thursday), in which case you just bought yourself an extra weekend.

How did you manage the long Thanksgiving holiday? Did you stick as closely as you could to your typical exercise routine, or abandon it completely? Did you enjoy your favorite holiday foods and bypass those that weren’t appealing, or eat anything and everything simply in the spirit of Thanksgiving excess?

There’s a saying I’m quite fond of, “How you do anything, is how you do everything”.

I think it’s especially spot on when you apply it to eating and exercise. Consider the following. . .

If, regardless of what’s happening in your life you consistently do everything you can to take care of yourself – eat well, exercise regularly, get adequate rest and manage your stress – you’re likely to follow those practices week in and week out. A holiday (or string of them), vacation, tight work deadlines, sick kids or parents will simply present themselves as slices of your day to schedule your self-care around.

Conversely, if you eat well and exercise only when you’re dieting, trying to be healthier, or your schedule allows, you’ll repeatedly drag yourself out of an extended food and inactivity coma and fail to reach the level of consistency that confers vibrant good health and a strong, fit body.

My challenge (the first of several) to you as the holiday season heats up? Identify one thing, nutrition or fitness-wise, that you can do every day for the next week – then do that one thing, every day for the next week.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Eat 2 cups of vegetables.
  2. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier.
  3. Do 10 minutes of stretching.
  4. Eat out one less day than usual.

 

“Turkey Trotting”

Monday, November 17th, 2014

TurkeyTrotI can’t help it.

The holiday season is bearing down on us, and I simply have to write about the importance of keeping fitness top of mind.

Since Thanksgiving is first up in the holiday queue, let’s talk turkey trots, shall we? Specifically, let’s dispel the myths surrounding turkey trot events.

Before we get started, let me clarify.

A turkey trot is not a dance, an alcoholic beverage (that would be turkey “shot”), or code for a gastrointestinal problem of the genus meleagris.

But you know this, right? A turkey trot is a Thanksgiving Day (or somewhere close to it) run/walk event of varying distance. Come on, you know you want to do one, so read on and let me encourage you to actually sign up.

MYTHS

  • You must be an expert runner to participate.
  • You must be in tip top shape to participate.
  • You must wear a turkey outfit in order to participate.
  • Participating in a turkey trot negates every bite you put in your mouth at Thanksgiving dinner.

I’ll dispel these one by one.

  1. It’s perfectly acceptable to WALK a turkey trot. In fact, many races have both runner and walker registration. Likewise, it’s just as acceptable to “sorta” run a turkey trot. You can be a beginner, a weekend warrior, a runner “wannabe”. Just listen to your body so you don’t overdo it and injure yourself. Spending Thanksgiving at the urgent care may cause you to miss the pumpkin pie – and that’s just wrong.
  2. If you’ve spent the majority of your time since mid-August on the sofa, of course you’re not going to be super fit, but you’re at least willing to participate – and that’s fabulous! However, you may want to keep your enthusiasm in check, because now isn’t the best time to get caught up in the crowd frenzy and go for a PR. You want to feel accomplished and energized when you cross the finish line, not beat up and defeated.
  3. For some, turkey trotting in a turkey outfit is de rigueur, but when making your own decision, here are a couple of things to consider. Turkey outfits look toasty warm – a plus if the temperature is sliding south, not so great if it’s a mild day. They also look really cumbersome, and personally, I like unencumbered running. A “beakless” hat (easier to shove in your pocket if you overheat), plenty of layers, and a pair of gloves are both warm and practical. But hey, who ever said this event is about practicality? It could be rather fun to dress like a turkey. Just remember to not ACT like one, okay?
  4. This is perhaps the BIGGEST myth of all. You would have to run a ridiculously long turkey trot in order to cancel out every calorie from your delicious, once-per-year special meal. And even considering doing so begs the question – why? Run the turkey trot because you want to have fun, get some exercise and fresh air, and start (or uphold) a holiday tradition. Then join friends and family, enjoy their company and the revelry, and count your blessings. The BEST part of Thanksgiving Day.

 

Plant Protein and Snacking – FNCE Trends.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

As I trolled the FNCE expo floor at the recent Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of consistent themes.

One major disappointment, my camera wasn’t working, so I was unable to capture photos of the food items I discuss. Regardless, keep your eyes open for these categories at your local grocery store – they’re popping up everywhere!

Plant-Protein

From beans (legumes) to soy to nuts to hemp, plant-based protein was HUGE!

Plant-based protein simply refers to “non-meat” protein options. When we look at foods that fill that category, beans, soy and nuts/seeds take center stage.

Legumes were ground into flour and used as the base for everything from chips to burgers. Legumes were left whole and combined with other ingredients to create delicious veggie burgers and meatballs. Legumes were folded into brownies, and baked to create a crunchy, delicious snack.

I tasted a brand of chips called “Beanitos”, tortilla chips made from beans. I’m a tortilla chip fan, so having a more nutritious option is a trend I can get on board with.

Snacks

People LOVE to snack. That’s a trend I have difficulty relating to, mainly because I’m not a snacker. But for those of you who are – snacks that taste great and are relatively nutritious is something that I spotted in every aisle.

Interesting dried fruit and nut combinations, baked crackers made with bean flours, and snack/meal replacement bars that were more than glorified candy bars were showcased.

My Take

Many of the food companies behind the truly healthier options were small and independent. To me, it seemed as if most of the large food manufacturers were simply trying to “healthy up” existing products, many of which weren’t that nutritious in the first place. I suppose I can give them credit for trying. In the end, consumers vote with their wallet – so I encourage you to support those small, independent companies doing amazing things with truly healthy ingredients!

“October Means Halloween & “Breast Cancer Awareness”. . .Coincidence?”

Monday, October 6th, 2014

October OFor me, the month of October has two highlights – my wedding anniversary and Halloween. Other than being great ammunition for bad jokes, they have absolutely nothing in common.

October is also breast cancer awareness month, which compared with Halloween has absolutely everything in common.

I don’t know a single woman, myself included, for whom simply the thought of a breast cancer diagnosis is not terrifying.

A little over a year ago, following news of a cancer diagnosis for two people very close to me, I titled my newsletter “Too Much Cancer, Dammit!”, and received more personal responses than I ever had before or since.

There IS too much cancer, damn it, so much in fact that I would argue that even without a month devoted to breast (or colon, or cervical, or liver, or brain, or ovarian, or prostate, etc.) cancer awareness, our collective awareness would remain steadfastly high.

We’re not winning the war on breast cancer. We may be winning the war on early detection, better screening, and treatment; death rates from breast cancer have fallen 1.9% per year since 2002, yet rates for new breast cancer cases have remained steady for the past 10 years. (1)

The theme of my aforementioned newsletter was prevention. I’ve devoted my career to educating on preventive lifestyle habits, primarily nutrition and fitness. The data is overwhelmingly strong – the choices we make on a daily basis directly influence our health. It’s what I advocate for, believe in, and strive to live in my own life.

Yet, regardless of how staunch my position on prevention and cancer, there is no guarantee; for anyone. In no way (and believe me, I could win a gold medal for trying) can we control every aspect of our environment – an environment that is toxic in so many ways. While we all carry cancer genes, some of us (yep, my maternal relatives) have the added risk factor of genetic pre-disposition. Sometimes the deck is simply stacked against us.

I occasionally wonder what would happen if I were diagnosed with cancer (my secret fear, by the way). I wonder if it would change your perspective on taking care of yourself, as in, “Well, if Cathy Leman has cancer, there’s no hope for anyone – I give up.”

If that were the case, it would make me really, really sad.

We can’t forget to pull back and consider the larger picture. Cancer doesn’t appear as the result of something unhealthy you did last week, it takes literally years to develop (for example, colorectal cancer begins with a single mutation to a gene, yet it takes on average 30 years from that point for the cells to acquire several other DNA mutations they need in order to spread and kill). (2)

If I were to be diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I haven’t lived my entire life with the attention to prevention that I have in the last couple of decades. I can assure you, in my early twenties, breast cancer prevention wasn’t even on my radar; many of my habits during that time weren’t exactly supportive of good health.

At the time of a cancer diagnosis, it’s only human to wonder “what caused it?”, yet other than testing positive for the breast cancer gene(s), it’s essentially impossible to know. Excess weight, smoking, inactivity, and too much alcohol have all been implicated in contributing to breast cancer, but so has exposure to chemicals in certain plastics (who hasn’t experienced THAT?), and a dizzying collection of toxicity we’ve not clearly identified, yet couldn’t avoid if we tried.

That said, I maintain that practicing preventive lifestyle habits puts us in a position to fight back hard at whatever health curveball life throws at us – even a ghoulish, macabre cancer diagnosis. A healthy, strong body stacks the deck in our favor, perhaps by slowing the rate of disease progression, having a less invasive form of the disease, or giving us the ability to withstand treatments with fewer side effects and stronger recovery.

During the month of October I encourage you to heed the recommendations for breast cancer awareness; know your risk factors, get screened, know what’s “normal” for you, and practice preventive lifestyle behaviors. . .like maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and limiting alcohol; then repeat – over and over and over.

(1) http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/breast.html

(2) Spotting Cancer In A Vial Of Blood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want To Reach Your Goal? ‘P’ On It.

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

2014 Half Mara1On September 7 I ran the Chicago Half Marathon, my fourth 13.1 mile race. In 2011 I ran my first Chicago half, and in 2013, due to an odd set of circumstances, I ran two; Chicago, as well as the Christie Clinic Half in Champaign, IL.

My hope is that in sharing a bit of my 2014 race journey here, you’ll find INSPIRATION to set and reach your own health goals – by ‘P’ing on them.

‘P’ersistence pays off, perfection doesn’t exist.

My goal – Three training runs per week; 3-5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, and a long run (distance determined by where I was in my training schedule) on Saturday or Sunday.

My reality – Some weeks those Tuesday and Thursday runs wouldn’t budge above 3 miles, as my work (or sleep) schedule left too little time to get in the full distance I aimed for.

‘P’ on it – Even on days when I knew my actual run would fall short of my goal, I ran. The P’ersistence and consistency of running week in and week out, regardless of the distance, is what continually moved me forward.

‘P’erspective determines outcome.

My goal – Head into each run feeling rested, strong and prepared to do the distance required.

My reality – On Sunday, July 6, 2014 my scheduled run was 9 miles. Two days earlier I’d run the Glen Ellyn “Freedom Four” 4 mile race – a hilly course that I look forward to every year. I ran it fast. Thanks to perfect weather and consistent training, I felt strong, the run felt effortless. Fast forward 48 hours to Sunday, where my run followed the beautiful Chicago lakefront. I HATED every, single, step. I never felt rested, I didn’t feel strong, and I slogged agonizingly through all 9 miles.

‘P’ on it – I could have quit, feeling like I wasn’t making progress, but that was simply my perspective, not the reality. In truth, I needed more recovery time, but I was tied to my training schedule and not listening to my body. Changing my ‘P’erspective reminded me there was a valid reason for my tortuous experience, which in the end I found strangely comforting.

Create “I’m ‘P’ossible” out of impossible.

My goal – Run 13.1 miles in under 2:20.

My reality – 13 miles is a LONG distance. The next time you drive 13 miles, pay attention to just how far it is! If before I signed up for my first half marathon I’d focused only on the total distance, I could easily have second guessed my ability. But I’d already run a 10 mile race that same year (what’s 3 more miles?!), and lots of people – including people I actually knew – ran 13 miles. Having a frame of reference helped.

‘P’ on it – I created “I’m ‘P’ossible” out of impossible. By taking an objective look, breaking the race down in my mind to one, single mile at a time, and consistently adding bit by bit each week, I knew I could do it – and that the timing would take care of itself.

 

 

 

“Travelling Without Unravelling Healthy Eating Habits”

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Out of all the reasons why I adore my clients, the fact that they are an adventurous bunch tops the list.

Whether for business or pleasure, they frequently hit the road chasing adventure and collecting new experiences. The downside? They’re inevitably thrown off their “healthy eating” game.

In my experience, there are three reasons for this:

  1. Limited access to healthier options.
  2. Out of their typical routine.
  3. Adopting an “I’m on vacation” or “What the he#%” mindset.

Being fresh off an end of summer get-away myself, I’ve shared a few of my away-from-home dining experiences, as well as tips for countering the issues listed above. Pack these ideas the next time you’re travelling – and wrap up your trip feeling as great as when you headed out.

Mine was absolutely a pleasure trip; destination, Breckenridge, CO. I was delighted to learn that locating restaurants with healthy options wasn’t nearly as challenging as I thought it might be, although my travelling companion and I had to be menu sleuths and actively seek them out. The operative word being “seek”, which leads me to my first tip.

___________________

Tip #1 – For options that fit your idea of healthy, you must do your homework. Read menus on-line, printed copies posted outside the actual restaurant, and peruse local restaurant guides for specific offerings. If you don’t see options that work with the way you want to eat, rather than compromise – keep looking!

Relish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first night in town, oxygen-deprived, peckish, and en route to an Asian restaurant, we stumbled upon “Relish” http://www.relishbreckenridge.com/, a local spot featuring Colorado inspired cuisine. The posted menu listed options too intriguing to pass up, so we scrapped the Asian plan. We will be forever grateful for that split-second decision.

Quinoa, marinated and grilled Portobello mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and yellow squash “pasta” atop an ample portion of garlicky chimichurri  – an Argentinian sauce – was not only an original blending of textures and flavor, but gorgeous to look at (we eat with our eyes first!).

Relish2

As for the starter, a salad of pea shoot leaves and tomatoes topped with fava bean puree, I couldn’t think of a better choice.

Paired with a spectacular glass of red wine, this was a very fine meal indeed with which to kick off our week – and it fit all of my specs for a healthy, “real-food” meal.

_________________________

Tip #2 – You’re already out of your typical routine, so if a “must-try” restaurant offers options that meet your food specs, but not your dining “clock-time” preferences, move them around! Confused? Read example below:

Warming Hut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Warming Hut” http://www.thewarminghutrestaurant.com/ completely warmed my heart (and palate). While we weren’t interested in the dinner menu options (reference Tip #2), the lunch menu, with its house-made Edamame and Quinoa Burger – sorry, forgot to snap a pic – got my attention. We visited this darling place at lunchtime on our last day, where upon our arrival we were met with such a packed restaurant, we decided to eat at the bar – always fun.

Not only was the burger delicious, the sweet potato fries accompanying it (of which I’m normally not a fan – not because they’re fried, rather, I prefer my fries “unsweet”) were impossible not to love – nor to stop eating until not a single one was left.

The best ending to this meal wasn’t even dessert, but the opportunity to meet and chat with the restaurant’s owner, Stacey – she warmed my heart, too.

______________________________

Tip #3 – Yes, you’re on vacation (or an expense account), but I’m pretty sure that it’s not as if you NEVER eat out. Eating out, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks is no longer an occasional indulgence, so treat vacation restaurant dining – and choices – like you would at home (except at home no one hands you a menu, I know). Be selective, make choices based on hunger level vs. your eyeballs, and save splurges (see “sweet potato fries” above) for a couple of occasions during your trip rather than daily – or more.

RootDown3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airports may be the last place where hungry, health-minded travelers can expect to get a decent meal, but Denver International, and “RootDown DIA” http://flydenver.com/fooddetails?URI=tcm:8-645in particular, is hell-bent on changing that.

I swear this restaurant was created with me in mind;At Root Down we pride ourselves on striving to solve the ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma.’ We have created a dining spot where all dietary needs will be accommodated, including vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten free. . .”

See what I mean? If you know me, you totally get it.

Spied by my trusty travelling companion on the return leg of our trip (hint: Concourse C), this island of culinary treasures was a jewel in a sea of the same old chain restaurants. We were promptly and oh-so-courteously seated by superbly-trained staff, just after returning our rental car. . .at 8:50 a.m.

Like my predilection for “un-sweet” fries, I’m not always in the mood for a sweet breakfast, so the edamame hummus platter simply screamed “Order ME!”  If this choice strikes you as odd, I can assure you, hummus for breakfast is absolutely delicious – smeared atop a whole wheat English muffin, it happens to be one of my standard at-home favs.

RootDown2

Paired with Medjool dates, real, not canned olives, nan bread, arugula salad that I swiped from my travelling companion, and a killer cup of coffee (with soy milk, no less) this meal made me happy, happy, happy.

 RootDown1

So there you have it – a handful of ideas to help prevent you from throwing in the healthy towel crying, “What the he#%, give me the _________________________” (fill in with your favorite less-healthy menu choice).

 

If you stay focused on your goal – to arrive home feeling as good as you did when you left (if not better!), it truly can happen. . .deliciously.

 

Wishing you happy, safe, delectable travels.

 

“Unbreak Your Heart”

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Heart

 

 

 

 

 

On any given day of the week diet and nutrition are HOT topics, but you know something really controversial, life-changing or ground-breaking is afoot when one or the other makes the front page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.

A recent issue featured the perfect example; an article advocating for the heart healthy benefits of a vegan diet.

Right in that front page space – albeit below the fold – the article highlighted enthusiastic support, as well as references to research data on vegan and vegetarian diets from Dr. Kim Williams, a Chicago cardiologist. Dr. Williams not only recommends plant-based diets to his patients, he actually eats a vegan diet, an eating plan long considered somewhat fringe, even a bit extreme.

It made my heart jump for joy.

Dr. Williams made the switch to a plant-based diet after a nuclear scan on a patient with severe heart disease showed startling improvement after the patient followed a vegan diet for 6 months. While surprised, the doctor was also intrigued, and after reviewing a number of published studies documenting similar outcomes decided to try it himself. Turns out that despite his deliberate effort to eat a “heart healthy” diet, his own LDL cholesterol (the “bad” one) had been creeping up.

A number of things from this article stood out for me, the least of which was the fact that an actual MEDICAL DOCTOR stood as such a strong advocate for a plant-based diet. Not just any medical doctor/cardiologist mind you, Dr. Williams is a nuclear cardiologist http://www.asnc.org/content_11495.cfm?navID=481, chief of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and the incoming president of the American College of Cardiology.

Having someone in Dr. Williams’ position support the heart healthy benefits of eating more plants and less meat – the opposite of what reams of research suggest contributes to heart disease – is like the president of ComEd suggesting we all work to get off the grid.

There are many healthy reasons to eat a diet based on plants, with vegetarian and vegan diets alike conferring benefits for those interested in using dietary changes to improve obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

And for those who continue to hold the belief that “meatless” diets can’t possibly provide adequate protein (that age-old and frankly, tired argument), consider The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper on vegetarian diets which states that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

The key is “appropriately planned”; eschewing meat without adding solid plant-based protein sources, nor including plenty of fruits and veggies is never a healthy, balanced approach. See the example below illustrating this concept.

I encourage you to give plant-based eating a try – even adding a “Meatless Monday” http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ to your week helps. If it’s good enough for a top cardiologist, perhaps you can make room on your plate for more plants!

Low-Nutrition Meatless Meal

Breakfast: Bagel with Nutella | Apple juice

Lunch: Slice of cheese pizza | Diet soda

Dinner: Bean burrito | Iced tea

High-Nutrition Meatless Meal

Breakfast: Whole-wheat bagel with nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.) | Fresh apple

Lunch: Slice of vegetable pizza (vegan option, no cheese) | Side salad with garbanzo beans | Water – OR – small fruit smoothie

Dinner: Bean and vegetable burrito | Guacamole | Unsweetened iced black or green tea – OR – water.

1. http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-met-vegan-cardiologist-20140817-story.html#page=1

 

 

“Irony Screaming in a Forest of Sugar-Sprinkled Trees”

Monday, July 28th, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-sugar-image18751962

 

Recently I attended an event where I chatted with a woman who (once she learned I was a dietitian) began lamenting the fact that she eats too much sugar, and sugar, as in “really, I should work on cutting it out of my diet”, became her sole conversational focus.

I could tell she was just getting warmed up when a distraction came along that abruptly ended her continuing to share how awful it (actually eating too much sugar) was for her, and I went on to mingle about elsewhere.

I’ve come to accept (and 100% expect) that once people learn what I do for a living – trust me, I’ve considered lying – the question inquiring which is the best diet, true confessions about junk food consumption, and general comments trending toward “I bet you never eat _____________ (fill in with your favorite demonized food)” are simply as common as conversations about the weather.

Now, I don’t doubt this woman truly believed she needed to pay more attention to her diet, surely she’s her own best monitoring system. And yet, I was absolutely incredulous when later I watched her LIGHT A CIGARETTE as she left the event.

Yep, you read that right. Not slurp from a 32 oz. “big gulp” soda or gnaw a chunk off a super-sized candy bar – but actually light up a cancer stick, I mean, cigarette.

When it comes to lifestyle behaviors, there’s not much that surprises me. I mean, I work with clients who have extremely unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. But the irony of this sight left me scratching my head.

I thought about it again this weekend, as I biked along the Illinois Prarie Path toward my favorite lake spot – cycling past streams and forests and trees. And while drinking in the view of those streams and forests and trees, here’s the conclusion I came to.

Without a doubt, this was your classic forest and trees experience.

Clearly this woman couldn’t see the forest for all of the sugary trees. And I desperately wished it had been appropriate to run after her and ask, ever so gently, “Um, the sugar you were telling me about? Do you think it would be possible to work on that later, after you’ve worked (really, really insanely, desperately, mind-crushingly hard) to stop smoking?”

But of course that wouldn’t have been appropriate. She wanted to know how to stop eating sugar – not stop smoking.

 

“Acting On Body Wisdom”

Monday, July 14th, 2014

If you’re familiar with the concept of mindfulness, you know that essentially it’s a commitment to paying attention; to our breathing, to our stress level, to our hunger and fullness cues, to the beauty that surrounds us – it’s a commitment to actually increasing our awareness of what’s happening in our own little world.

At its simplest, mindfulness is a way to “tune in”. And I’m all for it.

Many of my clients spend lots of time and energy actively ignoring the messages their body sends – or, tuning OUT. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a plea for more movement, less junk, or more solitude – their body’s honest wisdom is too honest, and they’re happy to dismiss it, thank you very much.

Yet, what happens when we do “tune in”, only to disregard the messages because they’re too real, too painful, too scary, too uncomfortable?

Sadly, what happens is more of the same.

The same unhealthy habits, unhealthy behaviors, and a dearth of self-care. We continue a slow, steady spiral into the abyss of unawareness, until our doctor, therapist, even a family member gently (or urgently) reminds us, “You need to take care of yourself”.

Given all of that, while I’m all for tuning in, I’m an even bigger fan of hearing, and then actually ACTING on those messages. That’s right. ACTING on them, not dismissing them.

For example, say your body sends a message that you’re “too” something; too tired, too stressed, too bored, too lonely.

When you ignore rather than act on that message, you become vulnerable, which in turn may lead you to engage in “too much” of exactly the things you’re trying to do less of; eat, drink, exercise (yes, too much is unhealthy), watch t.v., get drawn into Facebook drama.

How can you learn to tune in, and then make the move to ACT?

One way is to listen, really, really well, in order to get a crystal clear message.

Here’s one suggestion for practicing  just that. Recently, a friend recommended this book, “Listening Below The Noise” http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/listening-below-the-noise-anne-d-leclaire/1111740120?ean=9780061353369. The author, Anne LeClaire, declared two Mondays each month – for 17 years! – a day of silence.

Silence Book

I’m not suggesting you jump full-force into that practice, easing in is never a bad strategy, but I certainly think there’s merit in quieting our minds and our surroundings. We’re overdosing on noise and external stimulation, both of which make it close to impossible to listen, hear the message, then act.

Can you make a commitment to becoming more attuned to your body? If this book (which is on my summer travel reading list), or even this blog post help you head in that direction – I’m thrilled.

Shhhhh, what do you hear?

 

“Kissin’ Wears Out. Cookin’ Don’t.”

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Kissin Wears Out Cookin DontTo me, one of the most interesting finds in boxes of dusty old books are those small, plastic-spined cookbooks, compiled through contributions made from members of churches, groups and associations. Recently, while digging through a pile of those little cookbooks, this title, “Cook and Tell”. . .“Kissin’ Wears Out, Cookin’ Don’t” had me in stiches – once I got past the grammar, LOL!

What these compilations frequently lack in the way of “healthy” recipes, they more than make up for in their message and inspiration. Specifically, COOK.

Much to my consternation, but not surprise, way too many people (particularly those who are young), appear to have no idea how to feed themselves, outside of calling into service the microwave, drive through, or carry out.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. At a young age I learned from my mom and grandma not only how to cook, but bake (tricky!). That base education was furthered through four years of home economics classes, and while I took an extended hiatus from cooking when I moved out on my own, over the years I’ve brought it back with a vengeance.

The ability to feed yourself is the one reliable self-care effort you can always draw on. Like the cookbook title implies, certain things in life may lose their appeal – or breed contempt. But cooking is always new, interesting and fascinating – even on a small “grilled peanut butter sandwich” kind of scale. Now there. Doesn’t that just make you feel more self-sufficient?!

Or maybe look at it this way. If everything else falls apart, you can always make yourself a nice, big pot of soup. And some days, depending on your particular situation, soup may just win out over kissin’.

 

 

Divorcing Old Man Winter

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Dear Mother Nature,

Please divorce Old Man Winter.

I’m personally not a fan of divorce – believe me, I’ve witnessed the damage left in its wake.

Yet there is no question that some relationships become so toxic, anyone remotely connected to the couple can be damaged by the poison that escapes the immediate boundaries of their “love”.

I’m afraid it’s happening.

Those in your path have been suffering through weeks of relentlessly frosty days followed by dangerously chilly nights; enough to suck the life out of even the happy-go-luckiest person. Your relationship casts a gray gloom that leaves folks snappish, lethargic, and depleted, draining energy and triggering cravings for chocolate by the truckload; none of which supports good health, balance, or the ability to utter “Have a great day” without feeling like a fraud.

What started out as a harmonious pairing has turned frigid, icy and bitter to the core. I don’t fault your choice of partners – on the contrary, you’re certainly not the first woman to fall for a man with a bracingly strong personality. But the relentless intensity of your stormy relationship has pretty much lost its appeal. The first melt-down was tolerable, even expected, but now? We’re crying uncle.

Send him packing, yet don’t be cruel. Take the high road and give him this recipe for a soup guaranteed to thaw even the coldest of hearts – after all, a man’s gotta eat.

Crockpot White Bean Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

5 large carrots, chopped

1 pound dry navy beans

2 whole bay leaves

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon paprika

Freshly ground black papper

2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

6 cups water 

  1.  Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and carrots to the crockpot.
  2.  Sort through the beans and remove debris or stones, rinse them under cold water then add to the crockpot.
  3.  Add six cups of water and stir to combine the ingredients. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  4.  After 8 hours, stir soup and mash the beans slightly. Add ½ teaspoon Kosher salt at a time, until the flavor is to your liking.

Adapted from www.budgetbytes.com

A Hair-Raisingly Different Dietitian Perspective On Halloween

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Halloween Candy

 At our house, my husband typically purchases the Halloween candy. On Halloween. Here’s what he came home with today; not bad (except for those Nerds and other “kid candies” – no thanks).

I rarely think about it until the week of the big day, then on the ACTUAL day I’m at work, there’s no candy, and goblins are on their way. So husband goes to the store that morning, with a little guidance from me. But NOT the type of guidance you would expect, me being a dietitian and all.

My guidance is simply, “Just don’t buy too much”. He tends to buy LOTS, and inevitably by the end of the evening we’re shoveling it into the bags of the stragglers – or the following day giving it to the kids next door.

My personal (and professional) philosophy on Halloween is just that – it’s Halloween. It’s one day. Granted, the candy lingers for several, but most kids tire of it quickly. If they go candy-crazy when they come home with their spoils, that’s just part of the fun – and who of us didn’t do that ourselves, back in the day?

The idea of me handing out pencils, or organic, naturally-sweetened, real-fruit leather, or any number of sustainable, organic, “green” candy brands to kids who could care less feels like I’d have the same impact on their health and the obesity epidemic as if I were spitting into the ocean. They most likely wouldn’t even eat “unfamiliar” candy – they want Nerds for heavens sake.

And honestly, if I’m going to cough up $$$$ for the good stuff, you can be sure it will be me eating it, not random little goblins.

Happy Halloween everyone!