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.


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!




Resumes: Get Help

In about two weeks, we will travel home for Thanksgiving break. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Between the food, football and time spent with friends and family, what’s there not to love? Well, every Thanksgiving I find myself answering the same questions that I most definitely do not love.

“How’s school going?”

“Do you know what you want to do after graduation?”

“How’s the internship/job hunt going?”

While I appreciate the concern and attention of my family and friends, sometimes these questions are overwhelming because sometimes I just do not know the answers. However, last Thanksgiving I felt more confident answering these questions because I finally had a resume. There was something about putting my accomplishments on paper that made me feel more prepared to face my relatives. If you do have a resume, good for you. If you do not, no worries. JMU offers many resources to help you develop the document.

Before you begin . . .

  • Before you begin, it is a good idea to attend a Resume Writing Workshop. This one-hour introduction to writing resumes will provide you with all the information you need to begin writing your own. No RSVP is required to attend the workshop. The next workshop will be held on November 30 at 1:30pm.

Once you’ve written your resume . . .

  • Walk-In Hours with Career Educators: Career Educators are a volunteer group of JMU students who can look over your resume once you have completed it. You can drop off your resume during walk-in hours or schedule an appointment with a Career Educator.
  • Resume Review: Walk-In Resume Reviews happen at various locations on JMU’s campus throughout the year. These involve a 10-15 minute meeting with a Career and Academic Planning adviser. Be sure to bring a copy of your resume with you to the meeting, and know that resumes are reviewed in the order they are received.
  • Resume Appointments: Schedule an appointment for a 30 minute individual meeting with a Career and Academic Planning adviser. Be sure to bring a copy of your resume with you.

Personally, I have taken advantage of two of these resources. As a freshman, I attended a resume workshop with my friend. It sparked my interest in writing a resume and taught me a lot about where to begin. Additionally, I scheduled an appointment with a Career and Academic Planning adviser for a 30 minute individual meeting last year. The adviser provided so much feedback on my resume. I took this feedback and revised my resume. This led to me getting two internships last summer. I promise these resources do work!

Take advantage of these resources so you can feel confident talking about school and the job hunt around the table this Thanksgiving. Good luck!

Peace, Love & DDP




Motivation and Willpower: Debunked

With so much to look forward to, staying motivated can seem impossible. Here are ways to make goals and reach them this semester. Today, we stress making goals and reaching them and it is that easy. 1+2=3. Except we are forgetting one thing. Studies show that today, millenials are faced with more reasons to be stressed and anxious than any other generation. Whether or not it is based on informational overload, social media expectations, or having to be accessible at all times varies from person to person. While some people assume our generation is lazy or over priviledged, the overload of expectations makes us think we can attain whatever we want, whenever we want. So if we don’t have it, why is that? Studies show that this kind of thinking is what causes stress, anxiety, and depression in college students.

Why Depending on Either of These Alone Does not Work

Motivation is the willingness to complete a task and willpower is the strength to not complete a task. No matter how big or small, why is this not enough? When one is motivated, they can accomplish anything and if someone masters willpower, they’ve got it made.

This is not enough because it leads to dissapointment. This disapointment is what leads to more anxiety and depression in college students, today. Rather than setting unattainable goals and watching yourself fail every single time. Studies have shown time and time again that rewiring the way you think about achieving goals is the recipe for success.

Based on conducted studies, I am going to break down the components to success goal-making that goes beyond motivation or willpower.

Willpower is different than Determination

Don’t be fooled by the common misconception. Many people generalize willpower as being the same or similar to determination. This is wrong. Many people can be determined, but lack willpower. Therefore, you do not need to have a strong will to be determined. Understanding these two concepts are entirely different can help you make peace with occasional complications.

Stay true to what keeps you grounded

Image.png.jpegYou will only be happy with your progress if it is coherent with your virtues and values. With this being said, do more of what makes you happy. Reminding yourself of why you are doing what you are doing is helpful too. Compose a list of the reasons you are setting goals to look at when you forget. Involving yourself in activities that

Campus Talk Blog suggests getting some air and enjoying nature to combat stress.

Set small goals

Rather than telling yourself you will get an A in a course or you will go to the gym everyday for the next three months, you are bound to let yourself down. Breaking your big goals into a couple smaller ones will make the task easier to face and will assist you with the planning process. Adapting a bullet-point goal planning incentive will not only remind you of what needs to get done, but what you have already accomplished. It is important to remember the little things you have accomplished on your journey to keep you motivated and put the steps into perspective. How much time will it take? How can I plan to deal with failure? What if I don’t meet my deadline? Make sure to set smart and small goals to make a big task more attainable. This will also prevent you from procrastinating on a huge project or putting off searching for internships.

Enjoy the now

Ditch thinking you will be happy once you reach your goal. If you have this mindset, you won’t be happy once you achieve it. Too many things get in the way to predict that something will make you happy five months from now and it sets your mind up for failure. Studies have linked these thoughts to anxiety. Which, as we know, is the last thing college students need. Try to focus on achieving your goals without assuming failure or success. Focus on what you can do in the present moment to make yourself proud.

Give some of these tips a try and give us feedback on your experience or if something else has worked for you.

The Seasonal Superfood: Pumpkin

Over the past couple months I have been enjoying baking a lot of food at once. I like doing this because I have food ready whenever I need it and because it saves time. Also, I hate cleaning up after every time I want to cook. With this being said, I have experimented a lot with recipes that are easy, fast and long-lasting. These recipes are my favorite for this time of year because their primary ingredients are healthy, in-season vegetables. I don’t always eat vegan, but I do think it is important to know how to. Vegan recipes tend to much easier to concoct, as they typically don’t require as many ingredients. The recipes I am going to share with you are ones that are vegan and that I actually enjoy more than the non-vegan versions. They tend to be more agreeable with people with an intolerance, but they don’t sacrifice the taste.

With early morning classes or a demanding schedule in the morning, making easy and healthy breakfasts to go is essential to optimizing how you spend your morning or jump-start your day. Thankfully, making smart decisions about eating for your brain have become much easier. Now we know there are many benefits to adapting to a vegan diet. Studies have shown that eating less meat and more vegetables. Most people believe this to be difficult, as you may not be getting the proper amount of protein or calcium. While I am not here to advocate everyone going on a vegan diet, I think knowing a couple recipes is useful. First of all, there are some staples useful to cooking vegan food. Some of them are unsatisfactory substitutes and others are actually really good. Also, most of the commonly used vegan substitutes are super healthy. For instance, mixing milled flax seed with water is a substitute for eggs usually used in baking. I was surprised when I tried this, baking for my friend, that it actually turned out the same way as with the eggs.

A good breakfast option for this time of year is anything involving cinnamon, in my opinion. One of my favorite vegan breakfast recipes is vegan pumpkin bread. My favorite thing about this pumpkin bread is you cannot even tell that it is vegan. The other awesome thing about this bread is you can make it in one bowl and throw it straight into the oven. Once it’s done, take it out and enjoy. If you are patient enough, it is smart to let it cool down.

Fall is the perfect time to take advantage of all the health benefits of pumpkin. Pumpkin is a great stable for vegan recipes. It provides a lot of flavor and can jazz up any recipe. Here are some of the benefits of pumpkin:

  1. Pumpkin helps you achieve or maintain a healthy weight
  2. Pumpkin’s vitamin D helps you build strong bones. Pumpkins are also dense in magnesium and calcium.
  3. Pumpkins help regulate blood pressure.
  4. Pumpkins reduce stress. No wonder college students are obsessed with pumpkin! It contains Tryptophan, an amino acid, also know as the “happy hormone” serotonin. Making a pumpkin dish may be your answer to reducing or managing stress and anxiety.
  5. Pumpkin is good for your digestive system. Not only does pumpkin have anti-inflammatory properties, it helps alkalize the body’s pH.

So maybe eating pumpkin bread is not the healthiest way to get your pumpkin fix in and reap all the wonderful benefits, but it is definitely worth it. Knowing the benefits of pumpkin should make you feel good about enjoying your favorite pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup.

Vegan Pumpkin Bread (Or Muffins)

Dry Ingredients

1 ½ cups coconut flourpumpkin

1 cup almond flour

¼ sugar or alternative sweetener

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

3 tsp or pumpkin pie spice (more if you like!)

Wet Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 TBSP coconut oil

2 TBSP maple syrup


In addition to these ingredients, feel free to mix in some chocolate chips or nuts. I like adding in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. I have been meaning to make the pumpkin bread with dried fruit, too. Luckily, this recipe does not need add-ins, but it is always fun to try new combinations!


Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. I never understood why people mix ingredients in different bowls, but I think it really incorporates all the flavors so every bite consists of all the ingredients. This time around, I decided to make the bread in muffin tins. Baking in muffin tins makes it easier to have the perfect portion size and use different ingredients for each muffin, if you choose. Keep in mind it takes less time to bake compared to baking in a loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. I like mine under-cooked, so I check on the progress after about 40 minutes.

If you are craving something savory, sweet potato soup can be made in bulk and stored to eat throughout the week as well. At first, I didn’t think the combination of sweet and savory would work well, but my friend made this for me after an operation and I ate the entire bowl in one sitting. It’s that addicting. Don’t be fooled by the name!

Vegan Sweet Potato Pumpkin Soup

3 sweet potatoes (medium)

½ cup pumpkin

1 can of coconut milk

Squeeze of lime juice

4 TBSP peanut butter

2 TBSP olive oil

Pinch of salt

1 onion

TSP Garlic

4 cups vegetable broth

First, cook the onion and garlic on a stove top with the olive oil until it softens. IN a separate pot (or in the microwave) soften the sweet potatoes. It usually takes about six minutes in the microwave, but that depends on the wattage of your microwave. After the ingredients are softened, combine them in a blender with the cold ingredients. Once it reaches a smooth consistency, you can place the entire recipe back into the pot and wait for it to warm up.

Both of these recipes are vegan and absolutely delicious. They incorporate the fall superfood that we all can’t get enough of while being easy to make and save the rest for later (or not!). Be sure to give these recipes a try and let us know what you think!


Peace, love and DDP,



Walk, Don’t Ride

On certain days of the week, you may find it is hard to make time to go to the gym. Between classes, extracurricular activities and homework, there are just not enough hours in the day to spend at UREC.

JMU is a big campus. Just imagine the distance between Forbes Performing Arts Center and Festival. A school such as JMU provides many opportunities for students to burn calories without ever stepping foot in the gym. On the flip side, a school such as JMU provides many opportunities for students to be lazy. Busses, powered by The Harrisonburg Department of Public Transportation, run throughout the day from one side of campus to the next. With many stops along the way, busses are a convenient way for students to travel on campus, and many students (myself included) prefer this method of transportation.

But, there is another way to get across campus. I like to call it the ‘Shoe Leather Express’. Our own two feet can get us anywhere we would like to go if we just put in the extra effort. The Duke Quest Walking Map details walking time and distance between areas on campus.

Photo Credit: James Madison University

Ultimately, the choice is yours. You can decide to jump on the bus, or walk to your destination. I encourage you to consider walking every now on then. This will prove especially helpful on days that you are unable to get to UREC.

JMU’s website details 25 Green Walking Tips. I picked out 10 of my favorites to share with you. Keep these in mind next time you want to step on the bus.

  1. Use a step counter to see how many steps you take in 15 minutes. If you do not have a step counter, 2,000 steps is about one mile. You can drive your car a mile and then walk that route to gauge your distance.
  2. Keep track of your total distance and time each day.
  3. The Surgeon General recommends walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day. Make that a goal to work up to in 3-4 weeks.
  4. If you walk or stroll at a steady pace, you will likely walk a mile in 20 minutes.
  5. Pick up the pace and trek to walk a 15-minute mile.
  6. Vary your routes. This benefits the brain as well as the body.
  7. Use your arms by bending your elbows at a right angle and swing them as you walk or use walking/hiking poles. You will burn more calories and strengthen your arms in the process.
  8. Take the hill. Going up hill helps with endurance.
  9. Going down hill can help with balance.
  10. Use the stairs for an added workout.

Clearly, walking is a benefit to your health. It also may be a benefit to your conscience next when you decide to walk so you don’t have to feel guilty missing gym time. Not to mention, we have a beautiful campus at JMU. It looks much better without a glass window blocking your vision. Let’s get to walking Dukes.

Peace, Love & DDP