Can You Make it Through the Holidays Without Weight Gain? Absolutely!

clipart-christmas-party-clipart-panda-free-clipart-images-xwc14l-clipartAnother holiday season is here!  You look forward to this wonderful time of year, but with a little trepidation. You love all the holiday parties and time spent with family and friends, but fear the consequence of overindulging. So how do you make it through the holidays without gaining weight? Is it even possible? Absolutely!

Below are some simple tips to help you survive the holidays without packing on the pounds.

  1. Do not arrive hungry.  Be sure and eat something filling before you go to the party. This way you are less likely over eat.
  2. Pay close attention to portion sizes. It would be impossible to calculate calories for dishes you did not prepare. So fill your plate with smaller portions and you can enjoy a variety of foods without going overboard.
  3. If you are attending a party with appetizers, be sure and grab a plate instead of standing at the table and grazing. This way you can visualize the foods and amounts you are consuming.
  4.  If you are still hungry after your first plate of food wait 15-20 minutes before going for seconds. Odds are you will decline.
  5. Move away from the food table. When you linger around the food you tend to mindlessly snack even when hunger is not an issue.
  6. Offer to bring a dish. The hostess will love the help and that way you know there are some healthy alternatives.
  7. Engage in conversation, preferably away from the food. If you are using your mouth to talk then you won’t be free to eat.
  8. Drink plenty of water before arriving at the party and while consuming your meal or appetizers. This will give you a feeling of fullness and will also quench your thirst, since we often mistake thirst for hunger.
  9. If you are drinking alcohol, beware of some of the fancy holiday cocktails. Some may have as many as 450 calories. Stick with wine or spirits mixed with soda water, diet tonic or just plain water with lemon or lime. You can also check out these holiday drink makeovers from self magazine that will help reduce empty calories.
  10. If  you plan to have cocktails, alternate one drink with one large glass of water. This will help with overconsumption. Alcohol stimulates the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is part of the brain that deals with sleep, hunger, rhythm and body temperature. Basically it makes us hungry when we shouldn’t be and in particular for unhealthy foods.
  11. Put these tips into action and enjoy the holidays without the guilt!

Need a quick and tasty appetizer for your holiday party? We love the recipe below (by Ree Drummond) for bacon wrapped dates, it’s a taste of sweet and savory in one delicious bite!  This recipe is quick to prepare, easy to transport, and everyone loves them.

Bacon Wrapped Dates


  • Ingredients
  • 35-40 pitted dates
  • 70-80 salted roasted almonds
  • 2 lbs thin bacon
  • Toothpicks


  • Heat oven to 425 degrees F. 
  • Stuff each date with 1 to 2 almonds.
  • Wrap each date with half a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  • Bake, turning the dates halfway through so the bacon is
    evenly cooked, 15 to 18 minutes.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.
  • Enjoy!                                                                                            

Have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season! 

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What the heck is gluten anyway?

gf-skeletonsSo the big buzz word lately is gluten. Unless you live under a rock, I am sure you have heard the word gluten. You can’t go to a grocery store, watch TV commercials, flip through a food magazine, or even go to most restaurants without seeing  a reference to gluten or gluten free. Is everyone going gluten free now? Is it in all foods?  Why all the sudden have people developed an intolerance? But most importantly, what the heck is it anyway?

Gluten is a protein (actually a combination of 2 proteins, gliadin and glutenin) found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten basically acts as a glue. It helps foods maintain their shape, holds them together and is also responsible for the chewy texture in baked goods.

So you ask, why is this a bad thing? Not everyone is sensitive to gluten, but when some people eat foods containing  gluten it causes their immune system to recognize it as a threat and react by attacking the tissue  lining of the small intestine.  The most severe result of these attacks is an autoimmune disorder called Celiac Disease.

  • According to the Celiac Disease Foundation. “These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body. The only treatment currently for celiac disease is a strict, gluten-free diet. Most patients report symptom improvement within a few weeks, although intestinal healing may take several years.”
  • If celiac disease is left untreated, a range of complications can occur from osteoporosis to iron deficiency, and even cancer. Over 3,000,000 Americans are living with celiac disease and 83% of these cases go undiagnosed.
  • Some people exhibit non-Celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. Both of which cause non-favorable reactions to gluten, but are less severe than Celiac Disease. Others choose to be gluten free as part of a lifestyle program, such as the Whole30, Paleo or other weight loss programs.
 Were you recently diagnosed with one of the above and thinking, ” I will never be able to eat my favorite foods again”. Don’t fret, there are several options to satisfy your cravings for pasta, pizza, bread, pastries and other whole grains products. If you have a craving for pasta , substitute spaghetti squash or try one of the many brands of rice pasta’s such as  Tinkyada . A hankering for pizza? Try Udi’s  gluten free pizza crust with your favorite topping (they also offer breads, cookies, rolls, muffins, etc.)  Need a night off from cooking, restaurants across the nation are now offering gluten free options. Be sure and check your local listings.
Below is a Portion Plate favorite for Chicken Piccata which can be adapted to gluten free.  Just substitute regular all-purpose flour for  GF all-purpose King Arthur flour or brand of your choice, we have even used GF Bisquick. You can also experiment with rice flour, coconut flour and others.
  • 1 pkg of thinly sliced chicken breasts (we like them really thin so we pound them out)
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • butter and/or olive oil (start with 2 Tbps. of each and add more as necessary to brown chicken)
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 jar of drained and rinsed capers
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley (optional)
  • parmesan cheese (optional) 
  • lemon slices (optional)

Mix together flour, salt and pepper and dredge chicken in the mixture. Heat olive oil and butter together in skillet on medium high heat.  Add about half of the chicken to the pan without crowding them. Brown approximately 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Continue until all chicken is cooked.

Leave drippings in skillet and add chicken broth, lemon and capers. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  Add chicken back to the pan and spoon liquid over chicken.  Optional: when serving top with any or all – lemon slices, parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

There you have it, we just took an italian classic and with one adjustment made it gluten free. Add a side of broccoli, green beans or a nice salad and maybe some rice pilaf or rice pasta and you are good to go!

Don’t forget if you have any comments or questions you would like us to answer email them to or post on our Facebook page.

Have a healthy day!



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For or Against the Grain?

for-or-againstThe ongoing grain debate is almost as controversial as the presidential election. Just as democrats and republicans have strong arguments to support their beliefs, so do defenders and opponents to grains. Some tout weight loss with the addition of grains, while others attribute them to weight gain. Another debate, along with may others, is their effect on blood sugar. So if you decide to include grains in your daily food consumption, let’s make sure you get the most nutritious bang for your buck! First let’s take a look at the 2 types of grains.

  • Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, including the bran, germ and endosperm.  They are a source of many nutrients including dietary fiber, several b vitamins, and essential minerals such as iron, magnesium and selenium.
  • Refined Grains have been milled and processed to remove the bran and germ. This is done to give them a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but at the same time, this process also strips them of dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Therefore, most refined grains are processed even further (i.e., enriched) to add vitamins and iron back. Fiber, however, is not added back to enriched grains.

Because of their lack of fiber, refined grains are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, this can cause blood sugar levels to spike and then quickly crash. These swings in blood sugar can drain your energy and leave you feeling tired and even moody. On the other hand whole grains are rich in fiber which slows the rate of digestion and causes a more gradual and lower rise in blood sugar. These effects will make you feel full longer and can also provide long-lasting energy.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains. The more of your grains that are whole grains, the better! Be sure when you read the ingredients list you look for the whole grains below.

                                                                                                                                                    * Whole Grains Council

With the Portion Plate we recommend that 1/4 of your plate be filled with whole grains or starchy vegetables. So if you do not eat grains, then why not try starchy vegetables. Although they are another highly contested food group, starchy vegetables contain healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Since they are higher in carbs and calories than other vegetables,  we recommend them as a substitute for whole grains (not in addition to). Some starchy vegetable options are beets, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and winter squash. So feel free to substitute a sweet potato or regular potato for rice.

Just to recap, when choosing to eat grains, go for the whole grains that are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber or substitute with starchy vegetables. Avoid processed grains that lack fiber and raise your blood sugar. Be sure and read your ingredient label.

Check out the butternut squash recipe below, it is just the right combination of sweet and spicy and it’s a great grain substitute! The Portion Plate gives it a thumbs up!

Balsamic Glazed Butternut Squash

  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika –
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on your spice tolerance)
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375.
  2. Prep the squash.  OK, you are going to need to mentally prepare for this as it is a serious arm workout.  Peel the squash (I recon this is equivalent to doing 100 kb swings), cut in half (also a feat of strength) and then cut into 1-2 inch cubes.
  3. Spread the squash out over a baking sheet.
  4. In a small bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Pour over the squash and mix around to spread evenly.
  5. Bake for about an hour.  My oven is not very fast, so yours may be completed sooner.  Check it every 20 minutes and toss it around to cook evenly.  It should be tender and easily forked when finished.
  6. Enjoy!!

Recipe from:

Don’t forget if you have any questions you would like us to answer email them to or post on our Facebook page.

Have a safe and healthy weekend!


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Questions, Questions, Questions?!

question-mark-wallpaper How many ounces of protein in a portion?  What are the best fruits to eat? Can I eat potatoes? Is an avocado a fruit or a vegetable? How high can I stack my plate? Do I have to eat vegetables for breakfast? These are just some of the questions we are asked everyday. So for the next several weeks we are going to answer your questions. If you would like to submit questions, please send them to or post on our Facebook page

We will explore each section of the plate:  fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and fats. Our blog will include subjects such as:

  • portion size
  • the best foods to eat in each food group
  • food prep tips and tricks
  • recipes (see below for a sample)

We will also touch on exercise, eating out and how to survive the holidays without packing on the pounds.

These next few months are going to be action packed with information!  Stay tuned and don’t forget to submit your questions!, Facebook page


  • Bacon and Egg Cups
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 pieces of Bacon (cooked)
  • Pan Spray
  • Salt and Pepper

Cook bacon per your usual method. (We suggest oven bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes on a foil lined pan.) Spray muffin tin with pan spray. Arrange 1 piece of bacon per muffin cup. Crack an egg in each with out scrambling so the yolk is still intact. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in 400° oven 10-12 minutes.

Tip:  We like to double the recipe and make ahead for the week. In the mornings just pop in the microwave and serve. If you like a runny yolk, you may need to experiment with the baking time and take into consideration the microwave reheat.

Bon Appétit!


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Surviving Holiday Parties

Here at beBetter we are halfway through our Season’s Eatings Challenge.  Season’s Eatings is a 6 week challenge that helps arm you with the survival skills and motivation to get through the holidays without gaining weight.

The average person gains 2-8 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.  And to make it worse, that weight tends to stay on. So, how can you beat the odds?

Here are some tips from our Seasons Eatings challenge on “How to Survive Holiday Parties”

surviving holiday parties

If you are a guest at a holiday party or meal:

  • Don’t deny yourself the traditional holiday foods you’ve enjoyed since childhood. Enjoy moderate portions of what is being offered. Concentrate on eating slowly and savoring the taste and companionship.
  • Don’t skip meals earlier in the day. You’ll set yourself up to overeat. Eat a small serving of protein before you go to a party so you don’t arrive hungry.
  • At buffets, give yourself permission to taste things that are new or holiday specific. No need to overindulge on everyday foods. (How many times have you tasted potato chips? If you pass, you won’t be missing out on any of the new taste sensations.)

If you are giving a party or hosting a meal:

  • Include foods with healthy fats. Healthy fats (like those found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts) help you feel satiated so you will get full quicker.
  • Incorporate protein-rich foods in your menu. Like healthy fats, protein is satiating. Eating protein also gives your body a bigger metabolic boost than eating carbohydrates because protein takes more energy to digest.
  • Send the leftovers home with your guests. You’ll have less temptation to splurge the following day.

Click here for easy and healthy recipes to serve or bring to your next party.

One final tip:  Enjoy the holiday season!  Remember it’s not about the food, it’s about family, friends, and fellowship!

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Nature’s “Spaghetti”

spaghetti-squash-pasta-e1346082784821-300x300Looking for a low carb, low calorie dish that is healthy and delicious?  Try spaghetti squash (nature’s spaghetti).  While weighing in at only 42 calories per cup, spaghetti squash packs a punch with an abundance of nutrients that include folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene.  You can add a variety of ingredients to the noodles and create a wonderful side dish or meal.

Spaghetti squash is available year around with the peak season being fall.

How to Prepare

  • Cut squash in half length wise. (If you place in microwave for approximately 5 minutes before slicing it is easier to cut)
  • Scoop out the seeds and fibrous strings
  • Place halves face down on a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
  • Roast at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Let squash cool so that you can handle it then take a fork and scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin. Presto…spaghetti noodles!

Serving Suggestions

  • You can add marinara sauce with or without meat.
  • You can add garlic, olive oil, seasonings and top with parmesan cheese for a basic, but tasty side.
  • You can add a variety of vegetables (onions, cabbage, spinach, kale, asparagus, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots…)
  • A portion plate favorite is to sauté garlic, olive oil, grape tomatoes and broccolini for a great side dish. Add chicken, shrimp, Italian (pork or turkey) sausage, ground beef, or any other protein and there you have it – a great meal!

The possibilities are endless!

No matter which program you follow, primal, paleo, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan or etc. you can add spaghetti squash to your diet.

Happy cooking!

Have any good recipes to share? Feel free to post them on our FB page

Or email us at and we will post them on our website.

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Tailgating and Portion Control?



With all the excitement and food at a tailgate is it possible to practice portion control?  As the saying goes “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”.  So plan your tailgate using these tips below:

  • Stock your cooler with plenty of water. Since we often mistake hunger for thirst, keeping hydrated will help you recognize when you are full.
  • You can have your chips and eat them too! Just be sure to bring the pre-portioned bags.
  • Veggies are a great vehicle for dip.  Try them with guacamole, salsa, hummus and other non mayo based dips.
  • Skewers are great for tailgates.  Load them up with your favorite meat, veggies, fruit or a combinations of the three.
  • Craving sweets? Bake mini muffins or cupcakes and make your cookies bite-sized.  Sometimes all you need is a few bites to satisfy your cravings.
  • Pack the paper plates! Make sure when snacking at a tailgate to use a plate. If you stay by the food table and pick without using a plate, you can’t visualize how much you have eaten. Studies show that you underestimate the calories consumed by mindless snacking.
  • Put the food on your plate and then walk away!

Now you are ready to pack your cooler, put your out your flag and cheer on your team! Be safe and have a healthy weekend!

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