This Holiday Season, Eat Mindful, Not Mindless

The holidays coming up in late December are usually a time full of happiness and excitement.  However, sometimes holidays can be stressful. Knowing that it is likely for overeating and eating an excessive amount of unhealthy food can be worrisome.  I’m here to tell you that it is possible to enjoy the holidays and relax about eating healthy.  I have some tips that you and your family can incorporate into your holiday meals that should relive your stress about ruining your healthy eating habits.

Turkey is one food you must eat over the holidays. Try to eat pieces of turkey that are lighter meats, that means that there are fewer calories than dark meat. Another way to cut calories is to take off the skin of the meat you’re eating. Also, keep your serving size in mind. A serving size of meat is about 3 oz., which is the size of a deck of cards. Serving size is important so you can indulge on all the other food you want and not get too full on one food. Also turkey usually comes with gravy, if you can limit the amount of gravy you dump on your food you can limit the amount of fat and sodium you are putting in your mouth.

If you are in charge of bringing one dish there are a ton of ways to bring a tasty dish everyone will enjoy, and make it healthy.

Green Bean Salad:

My mother makes this almost every holiday season and there are never any leftovers. All its takes is:

1 pound of fresh green beans

1 bell pepper

1 small onion

1 ½ tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ tbsp. of thyme and parsley

½ tbsp. of honey

1 glove of garlic

¼ cup olive oil

Mix all these ingredients together for a taste meal that your whole family will enjoy. Offering to make meals to bring to Christmas dinner will reduce the stress of eating unhealthy.

Is sweet potato casserole one of your favorite meals during the holidays? Here is a healthier alternative.

40 oz. canned, chopped sweet potatoes in light syrup

1 ¼ tpsp. Pumpkin spice

1 tpsp. Vanilla extract

2 large eggs

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp. maple syrup

2 tbsp. flour

These ingredients have your casserole coming out to about 250 calories.


Christmas Cookies, Chanukah Cookies and More Cookies

When I think of the Holiday’s I think of all the delicious cookies I am going to bake. I usually deliver plates to my neighbors, cousins across town, my best friend and of course, to my brother in his room. For the past few years, I have been wondering ways to make the cookies still taste good but maybe a little healthier. Adding 4 sticks of butter to a cookie gets pretty disgusting after awhile of baking.

This year I will make my cookies healthier and have chosen the following 4 recipes that I will try. There are flavors and tastes for all so at least one should catch your sweet tooth.

  • Almond Coconut Macaroons
  • Vegan Thin Mints
  • Gingerbread Cookies
  • Thumbprint Cookies

Almond Coconut Macaroons

These cookies are the easiest to make out of the 4 and have a blast of coconut flavor. These are also a perfect dessert cookie for Passover.

What you need:

2/3 cup sugar

2 large egg whites

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

½ cups whole almonds

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (1 teaspoon lemon zest to make it kosher for Passover)

You can find the directions on how to make and bake the cookies here.

Vegan Thin Mints

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free. This cookie reminds me of Girl Scout Thin Mints but even better because gluten-free and vegans can enjoy them too.

What you need:

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour

1 cup vegan sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup arrowroot

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup melted refined coconut oil or canola oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 cup vegan gluten-free chocolate chips

3 tablespoons mint extract

You can find the directions on how to make and bake the cookies here.

Gingerbread Cookies

What are the holidays without gingerbread? This recipe has less butter, eggs and sugar than traditional gingerbread recipes.

What you need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1 cup granulated sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature

3/4 cup dark molasses

1 large egg, at room temperature

You can find the directions on how to make and bake the cookies here.

Thumbprint Cookies

These are my absolute favorite holiday cookies to make and I am excited that there is a healthier version especially knowing how much butter goes into them. This recipe is for vegan thumbprint cookies.

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What you need:

1 cup pecans

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup safflower or canola oil

1/2 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons fruit juice sweetened jam

You can find the directions on how to make and bake the cookies here.

I hope you have found at least one healthy cookie recipe in this list that you will bake this holiday season. Happy Holidays from JM(takecareof)U to you.

Peace, Love and DDP,


Boot Camp Ideas That Are Sure To Spread Holiday Cheer

This is it, 2016 has almost come to an end. As we approach December that also means we are approaching the holiday season which can mean binge eating endless carbs and baked goods. Working out is the last thing on your mind. It may not be fun for you or something that you look forward to. You would much rather be on the couch watching endless holiday movies. But, what if your workouts incorporated the holiday season? has five ideas to make your workouts holiday themed and something to look forward to during this time of the year. The best part about these boot camp style workout ideas is that you don’t have to do them alone, you’re actually encouraged to do this with others, these workouts are a great way to spend time with friends and family during the holiday season.

White Elephant Gift Exchange Workout

A traditional white elephant gift exchange with some fitness add-ons. Here’s how it works: everyone first completes a round of exercises, you all can choose what exercises you would like to do before the boot camp begins. After everyone completes the round you are all now on the “nice list” and may choose any wrapped gift. After everyone has chosen a gift you may steal anyone’s gift but you must complete two exercises from the “naughty list”. If your gift is stolen then you must complete two exercises from the nice list and to get a new wrapped gift. If the person whose gift has been stolen wants someone else’s gift they must complete two exercises off of the naughty list to steal the present. A gift may only be stolen three times before it is off limits. The “nice list” exercises should be fairly easy for each person to complete and the “naughty list” exercises should be on the more difficult side.

Santa’s Workshop Workout

This boot camp will take about 45 minutes and dumbbells, battle ropes and boxes are needed for these workouts so it will need to be completed at the gym. This workout is all about pretending you are assisting Santa in making his deliveries this Christmas so you will need to use a little imagination. For the warm-up each person picks an exercises to do for 10 reps, this should take anywhere from seven to 10 minutes. The first drill is known as “Santa’s Workshop” and is complied of two exercises and eight reps of each. First is the “toymaker” exercise that is actually known as man makers, this exercise is a “plank to push-up to one armed dumbbell row to squat to dumbbell overhead shoulder press” according to The second exercise is a squat jump. The second drill is “Santa’s Bag”, it is now time to load the sled by doing dumbbell suicides. Set up five comes 10 meters apart from one another. At the first cone carry the dumbbells to the second cone and set them down and run back to the first cone as fast as you can. Pick up the dumbbells and the second cone and carry them to the third cone then run back to the first cone. Repeat this exercise until three minutes have elapsed. The third drill you will pretend you are on the sleigh getting the reindeer to fly. This consists of two exercises repeated for eight reps, first is the battle rope slams and then plank up downs. The fourth drill is the “Rudolph Run” which is known as the Indian run in groups of five or six, and this exercise will be repeated until three minutes have elapsed. Drill five is “Down the Chimney” again two exercises for eight reps. First exercise will be “chimney jumps” aka box jumps and the second is walkout to push up. Finally drill six “Ho Ho HIIT” for four minutes with 20 seconds of work and ten seconds of rest repeated four times. The two exercises to be completed are “chimney climbers” which are mountain climbers and then star jumps.

12 Days of Christmas Workout

For this workout the participants are encouraged to dress in Christmas attire and to play Christmas music to get in the spirit. This is a perfect Christmas Eve workout and only takes 25 minutes to complete. Everyone participating will need a pair of dumbbells. The list of workouts will be accumulative just as the song “12 Days of Christmas” goes. Every new exercise you will complete the number said before it and then go back and do the preceding exercise with the number indicated. Here is a list of the exercises to complete thanks to, you may use these exercises or come up with your own.

  1. DB snatch (alternate arms each round)
  2. Burpees
  3. DB swing (like a kettle bell swing but with a dumbbell)
  4. Tricep dips
  5. Bicep curls
  6. Pushups
  7. Sea turtles
  8. Deadlifts
  9. Shoulder press
  10. Mountain climbers (each side)
  11. Wood chops (with weight)
  12. Box jumps (adv) or step-ups (beg/int.)

Christmas Tree Workout2014-12-08-05.27.56-e1418345095555.jpg

A pyramid style workout similar to the 12 days of Christmas workout, it will take about an hour to complete and dumbbells are needed. First to complete will be the base of the tree. Two round for 30 seconds each of glute bridge marches, scapula push-ups, stir the pot and then plank rocks. Next its time to complete the tree of exercises which includes five rounds and five exercises in each round. Round five: 10 reps each, push-ups, alternating bent over dumbbell row, dumbbell walking lunges, jump squats and side plank dumbbell raise. Round four: 20 reps each, push-ups, alternating bent over dumbbell row, dumbbell walking lunges and jump squats. Round three: 30 reps each, alternating bent over dumbbell row, dumbbell walking lunges and jump squats. Round two: 40 reps each, dumbbell walking lunges and jump squats. Round one: 50 reps of alternating bent over dumbbell row. The top of the tree is last with 100 dumbbell jumping jacks. Take a two-minute break and then do the workout again in reverse.

Kris Kringle Workout

The equipment needed for this workout is one Christmas bag and 10 Christmas bows or tags with exercise names written on them. To set up for this workout you need to attach a piece of paper with an exercise to your bow or tags and place it in your Christmas bag. The workout consists of ten different exercises that you may choose yourself. One person will go up to the bag and choose a “present” the exercise pulled out of the bag is then the exercise that everyone must complete. You may either put the present back in or have everyone pull out the different exercises and the workout can be complete when the bag is emptied.

This holiday season grab a few friends and try these different holiday boot camps. Dress up in your favorite ugly Christmas sweaters and blast some holiday music for added holiday cheer.

Peace, Love and DDP,


Another Holiday, Another Holiday Workout

Last time it was a workout to burn those Halloween candy calories and this time it’s a workout for your Thanksgiving Day feast. “The average American eats around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. Remember that number for a moment.”


To “undo” the damage of your Thanksgiving feast the average weight training circuit of 8 exercises completed in 8 minutes (when performed at a high-intensity with minimal rest) has the ability to burn approximately 150 to 200 calories.

Check out this article to find out how you can burn off those Thanksgiving Day calories.

Happy Thanksgiving from us to you.

Peace, Love and DDP,


Event with UREC!

Fellow Dukes,

The 6 ladies of JMtakecareofU, have put together an event with UREC for you! The event is  called Simple and Cheap Eats for the College Kid on 11/30 7-8pm.

Cooking nutritious yet filling foods can be difficult, expensive, and time consuming for the busy college student. By taking this class, you will be able to learn how to cook a handful of recipes and also improvise recipes with the foundational skills taught in the course. Versatility in the kitchen allows for more skill-building than perfecting a single dish.

This is a program that the student wellness instructors offer a few times throughout the semester.  All of the demonstration cooking classes are designed by students who are dietetics major to help college students become more comfortable in the kitchen especially when preparing healthy meals. There are enough spots for about 41 students, so be sure to register ASAP through the link below.

We hope to see you there!




Thanksgiving isn’t all about the turkey

It’s easy for us Dukes to get wrapped up in looking forward to fall break, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Years. But for me I am looking forward to my Friendsgiving on Wednesday night before I leave for fall break. With all of the holidays coming up it’s important to make every holiday event memorable and to express thanks.


I am going to start with Friendsgiving. Recent research has confirmed that finding room in your heart for gratitude is really good for your emotional health. There are hundreds of ways that people may express thanks, but here are five general categories that might be able to help you, your friends and family express thanks this Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving.

  1. Remembrance Items
  2. Holiday-Specific Activities
  3. Time Reserved for Sharing
  4. Ritual Expressions of Gratitude
  5. Special Foods

Remembrance Items

This one might be corny to you but some traditional remembrance items usually include pictures or an item that represents your family or that holiday that you bring out every year. You can even start a journal where everyone writes under that year why they are thankful. You can do this for your family Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving but maybe for Friendsgiving you would want to do something less serious. Maybe just get an item that reminds you all of JMU and bring it to every holiday you celebrate together. Use that item to remind you of each other and why you are thankful for each other.

Holiday-Specific Activities

A traditional holiday activity is one of my favorite ways to feel a sense of gratitude, make memories, but also have fun and laughter with my family and friends. With my family on Thanksgiving we have a flag football game since twenty of my cousins and I are together. My aunts and uncles and parents usually come out to the field at my uncle’s house and cheer us on but when it starts to get cold they migrate inside to prepare dessert. This year it will be our fifth time having our traditional flag football game on Thanksgiving. For Friendsgiving that my roommates and I are hosting at my house on Wednesday, I want to propose to my friends that we all play a fun game like Headbands. I know that my friends are too lazy to go outside and play flag football so I think that Headbands is something that all of us would get a good laugh at and form a tradition for our next Friendsgiving.

Time Reserved for Sharing

Make sure you catch up with all of your relatives on Thanksgiving. Catching up gives a time for you to fill in your cousins and aunts and uncles with what you have been up to since you last saw them and can strike story telling with one another. Sharing forms a sense of family unity. This sharing category goes for Friendsgiving as well. I think that with your friends it is about reminiscing about what you all have done together this past semester. Since you are probably with these people most of your days at school, they probably are up-to-date with your life so your sharing might be more natural and relaxed.

Ritual Expressions of Gratitude

This can be done for family Thanksgiving as well as Friendsgiving. Throughout the year, write things that happen to you that you are thankful for on a slip of paper. Make it a goal to write at least two things per month. For us Dukes, have one jar for your Friendsgiving and the other for your family Thanksgiving and you can bring your jar home and add it to the family jar over break. During your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, go around the table and pull out the slips of paper and read them aloud and reflect on those memories with one another.

Special Foods

This one is pretty relatable to anyone. I’m sure everyone has a family member that makes the pumpkin pie every year and one who makes those garlicky mashed potatoes that everyone loves. For your family Thanksgiving I’m sure those traditions will still stand. Maybe this year, volunteer yourself to make a dessert or side. For Friendsgiving, make those special foods a tradition starting this year to carry for the Friendsgiving’s to come.

As stated above, expressing thanks is really good for your emotional health. Hopefully you can try to incorporate these five general categories into your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving to show gratitude as well as help your emotional health in preparing you for the stressful finals week that is right around the corner after fall break.

Peace, Love and DDP,


Friendsgiving The Healthy Way

In five short days we will be heading home for the anticipated Thanksgiving break, nine days of relaxation, delicious food, family time and visiting friends from home. These last few days before break may be swamped but there is no better way to get your mind off of things and take a little break with food and friends. Friendsgiving is a fun way to celebrate with those you love here at school before we leave for the holiday break. Thanksgiving food is filling and delicious but not always healthy. Take this opportunity to celebrate in a healthier fashion with your friends before stuffing your face with the Thanksgiving comfort foods we know and love when you get home. Below are a few alternative options for those classic Thanksgiving dishes that you can try out and enjoy with the company of friends. Of course you don’t have to make your entire friendsgiving healthy, this is of course the time of year where it is fine to indulge in those unhealthy options, but switching a few dishes for the healthy version can help you from feeling so sluggish after eating. Cook these for your friends then show off your new skills and recipes at home on Thanksgiving for your families.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes with butter and garlic can be full of carbs and fat, an easy and delicious alternative you can use is cauliflower as your mashed potatoes. It will look almost identical so you can really trick your brain into thinking that you are eating the real thing. You can get the low carb “fauxtato” recipe here.


 Stuffing from a package or made from white bread can be full of processed ingredients that do nothing but bad things for your body. Opt for whole grain bread or for the gluten intolerant choose gluten free bread. This recipe uses many different fresh produce as ingredients for a tasty herb and apple stuffing. You can get the recipe here.

Rolls and Bread

 Croissants, rolls and biscuits whatever form it comes in bread is delicious, it is also chock full of carbs and lets face it, you are not skipping out on the butter either. An alternative to those filling breads can be flatbread. Flatbread is an even better alternative because it allows you to add more flavors to your meal by adding different spreads and dip including your choice of hummus or different salsas. Switching to flatbread is a win-win situation for your meal you get to cut calories while adding delectable and healthy dips.

Sweet Potato Casserole

 This might not be a universal Thanksgiving dish but those who eat it love it. Sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, butter and cinnamon it does not get much better than that and this is a dish with dinner not even the dessert. This dish is full of sugar, but a healthy alternative to this without losing the sweet flavors is this roasted sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon. Still just as delicious with less sugar and you can find this recipe here.

Green Bean Casserole

 Some love it; others hate it as for me it is what I look forward to most during Thanksgiving. Green beans in a creamy soup sauce with fried onions on top, delectable but not quite nutritious other than the green beans, but of course that all gets cancelled out by the cream and fried counterparts. For those that get as excited for this dish as I, do no fear, I have the healthy recipe here. Still creamy, crunchy and still flavorful thanks to using Greek yogurt and grilled shallots as a substitute for the fried onions and canned or packaged ingredients.


 Arguably the best part about the meal. Anything you do not like you can drown in gravy and it will taste good. It goes on just about every part of the meal except for the dessert. Unfortunately it is full of unhealthy fats. Check out this recipe for half the fat but all of the flavor for your gravy.

Pumpkin Pie

No matter how much you eat, you always have room for dessert. Nothing is wrong with treating yourself especially during this time of the year. But, to save calories and yourself from cursing the world on the couch because you ate so much, try out this recipe for pumpkin pie bites. These are a smaller version of the staple dessert dish of the season. Whether or not you stick to eating just one or two is up to you, but hey, at least you tried right?

Tis the season for friends, family and of course, food, try out one or all of these healthier versions of your favorite Thanksgiving food recipes for your friendsgiving before you go home for the break. Impress your family with your nutritious but delicious meals and who knows, your dish could become the next family favorite.


Peace, Love and DDP, from my friendsgiving family to yours,