What are your plans for winter break? I’m sure it has a lot to do with eating your favorite holiday foods, going shopping and sleeping. Everyone needs a break after finals, but if you are thinking about being healthy in 2017, you should make a plan over winter break so you can succeed in the upcoming year.

There are a few ways to plan for your 2017 health plan. Here are a few ways:

  • Have a starting date for your diet.
  • Download a health app.
  • Do Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide.

If you do three things together or just do one of them to ease into it, you are off to a great start.

Have a starting date for your diet.

Setting a starting date for your diet is always helpful and gives you a time to prepare. So eat all the holiday cookies and hot chocolate that you want because once that date comes around, around the New Year, you are eating clean.

My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal is a health and fitness app. I have used this app to kick start my diet. It has more than 6 million foods on it that make it easy for you to track your diet and the calories you are taking in everyday. You can set the app to make a meal plan for you or you can just log the food you eat to keep track of your calories. You can also log your workouts to see how many calories you are burning and the app then adjusts your calorie intake to your workouts. I highly recommend getting this app to get you in the mindset of your new, healthy lifestyle.

Bikini Body Guide

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide is one guide that I have used that has worked for me. Being in my third year of college, I have struggled to find an even balance between my time spent in the library and my time spent in the gym. I tend to not have time for the gym because of my class workload. But Bikini Body Guide has helped me find that balance. I can have a balanced diet, while being able to get in a good workout and go to the library to get all my work done. The workouts require no or minimal equipment. I can workout at home or at the gym. The workout sessions can be as little as 29 minutes long. Bikini Body Guide also provides you with 5 new recipes each day and gives you standard, vegetarian or vegan meal options. And these meal plans also give you options to tailor your meals.

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I hope that you consider doing at least one of these things to start off 2017 healthy and happy.

JMtakecareofU wishes you good luck on finals and a Happy Holidays.

Peace, Love and DDP,



Simple & Cheap: 3 Course Meal

We had an awesome time last night learning how to cook new concoctions on a budget. We had over 20 people come with us to learn easy, effective ways to incorporate healthy ingredients into some of our favorite dishes. If you came and enjoyed the class or want to know what you missed out on, keep reading.

classssAs the class started we got to choose our seats surrounding the demonstration area. We were all welcomed to help with the process and take a closer look at the appliances they used. We began using healthy ingredients right away.  

Starting with a sweet potato hummus, the ingredients in the picture were an combined in the food processor to make a sweet and spicy hummus spread.  This is perfect for an easy appetizer that you can feel good about.

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Below is one large, cooked sweet potato, 2 cups canned chickpeas, and a little bit of tahini, olive oil minced garlic, cumin, sriracha, lemon to squeeze, and then alt and pepper added to taste. Combining these items into the food processor is the key to the quick and easy hummus.


Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Continuing with the Simple and Quick 3 course meal, we moved on to the main entree. This portion of the class was particularly interesting to me because of how informative it was. Because so many people are adapting to different diets, it is always fun to try some of the alternatives to the typical recipes we are accustomed to.  For instance, we made vegan Parmesan cheese spread instead of the typical cheese we used on pasta and in salads.  This cheese was easy and fast to throw together with minimal effort. To make vegan Parmesan cheese, just combine 3/4 cup of raw cashews, 3 tbsp nutritional yeast, 3/4 tsp sea salt and a little garlic powder in a food processor and process until the texture of it mocks regular Parmesan cheese.


Of course, some of us were not used to the taste and stuck to regular grated cheese, but the vegan cheese held its own.  It still had a similar texture and the nutritional yeast did an amazing job making the cashews extra savory and even healthier.

Spaghetti Squash with Pasta Sauces

Since we were making a healthy version of a pasta dish, we needed some tomato sauce. We had a great time learning how to make delicious veggie pasta sauce and tomato sauce with lean beef!  Instead of using the food processor for this component of our meal, they instructed us to stick with the stove top for both sauces. This gives it a better consistency and takes little time. If you are making sauce with ground beef, fully cook the meat before mixing the ingredients in.

Lastly, for the actually pasta, we feasted on both regular pasta and spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is a smart way to decrease how much carbohydrates you are consuming, without sacrificing the flavor.  Mixing the two is a good way to get your veggies in and still enjoy your noodles.


To the right is a picture of the spaghetti squash right after cooking it. You can either make spaghetti squash in an oven with some salt, pepper and olive oil or opt for the microwave squash.  Using the microwave definitely saves a significant amount of time, it depends which you prefer. Be sure to remove all the seeds after carefully cutting the squash in half. After about 50 minutes in the oven or 7 minutes in the microwave, the squash should be ready to serve. Our instructor used a fork to remove the inside of the squash. Then mix it in with your pasta that you prepared on the stove top.

After enjoying our pasta, we moved on to the most important part; dessert. Using simple ingredients, we made S’mores pizza. This surpassed most pizzas because it was covered in chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows.

S’mores Pizza

The only other thinfileg you need to make this pizza is a refrigerated pizza crust in a can. There are many options at every grocery store that would work well with this recipe. As if that sounds too simple, the cooking part is even easier.

While you are heating up your dough in the oven, for about five minutes, prep your toppings. This pizza had 6 crushed graham crackers, 6 Hershey chocolate bars and a bag of marshmallows. Once your dough is ready, assort your toppings and place it back in the oven until the top of the marshmallows are a light brown.

Overall, this class reminded us how easy it can be to make dfile-1elicious food without breaking the bank or consuming precious study time. We hope you learned something from the demonstration and you give some of these recipes a try.


Peace, love & 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,


How To Get Through Finals Week Like A Pro

With Thanksgiving break coming up, it is almost that time of year to start thinking about finals! Finals week is probably one of the most dreaded weeks of every semester. Some students are too hyped up on coffee the whole week that sleep is the last thing on their minds. There are a ton of ways to mentally prepare for this week and stay on top of your work without stressing the heck out! About 1 in 10 college students are stressed out often, and 1 and 4 students are stressed out on a daily basis. According to Bryce Goldsen at CNN, “most stress comes from the pressure to perform well day in and day out.”

Have no fear, I am here to help you mentally prepare for those extra stressful weeks here at JMU. Not only can being stressed out all the time be physically draining, but it can also increase levels of stress and can even lead to anxiety or depression. Some things that you can do to reduce these harsh symptoms is squeeze time in for yourself.  This may include getting your nails done, taking a yoga class at UREC, watching an episode of your favorite show or maybe just listening to music. If you take no breaks while trying to prepare for exams it can actually effect your grade in the long run.

My top tips for mentally preparing for an exam:

  • Don’t cram: study in intervals of 20-50 minutes. I like to do this and then walk around the library a little bit, maybe hike up and down ECL a couple times to get my blood flowing.
  • Eat superfoods: try to fill your diet with the best types of foods that will fill you up and keep you motivated. For breakfast try eating oatmeal with chia seeds for an extra fiber boost that will keep you full and focused the whole day.
  • Alternate study spots. Don’t keep going back to the same seat on the 4th floor of ECl because you will learn to dread it more and more each time you start to approach it. JMU has a wide range of study spots to choose from to change the scenery up.  Last year I spent most of the week studying in the small library in Memorial Hall. Not many people know about it, so it was extremely quiet and was way less depressing than carrier.
  • Avoid all nighters at all costs. This is my biggest tip. I am the type of person that if I am studying past 1 am, it is a huge waste of time. My body can barely function and retain any information that I am trying to memorize.  I recommend going to bed earlier and waking up early with a clear fresh mind.  Some mornings I even wake up at 5am to study for a 11am test and feel so confident because all of the information is fresh in my mind.

Pro Tip: Review the toughest material right before going to bed the night before the test. It makes it easier to recall the material later.

Finals week is not all that bad though. Here are some benefits of finals that will definitely make you smile:

  1. Falling asleep on a carrier couch is totally acceptable
  2. The perfect excuse to eat comfort food
  3. You have the motivation of going home for a month of relaxation and Christmas!
  4. It will be the last time you see that professor you cannot stand
  5. You can wear the comfiest, slouchy clothes you own and no one will judge you
  6. You do not have to worry about squeezing time in for the gym
  7. When you are reaching your maximum stressed out levels, the person right next to you at ECL is probably in the same boat
  8. No classes
  9. And last but not least, acing that test you stayed up all night for will feel better than you can possibly imagine

Finals week is hard, but don’t let it defeat you!