Dec 102012

I have struggled with my weight for 10+ years and have been on many diets and programs, none of which were successful in the long term.  I decided in January to make big lifestyle changes.  I have changed the way I think about food and am much more active.  In less than a year, I have lost 38 pounds, lowered my heart rate, lowered my cholesterol, lessened  my fatigue, improved my GI issues and improved my overall health greatly!

Why have I seen more success this time?  Instead of making an  empty plan to lose weight, I made a resolution to the Lord to get healthier and take better care of myself.  I could not do this on my own, He has kept me strong through it all.  I still have a long road ahead of me, but I am well on my way to making myself the “temple” that I believe God has called me to be!  It is not about being skinny or perfect, it is about being all that you can be so that you can do what God is calling you to do!

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 I am committed to staying successful with my lifestyle changes during the month of December, my biggest struggle when it comes to weight loss.  What can I say, I love Christmas cookies!  But I love the Lord more and I want to share some of my ideas for eating healthy during the holidays for anyone else looking to improve or maintain their health.   Let me put a disclaimer out there that I am not a weight loss or health expert.  I am just a wife and mom who has struggled with weight and I want to share my ideas and strategies with you.

Prayer is the most important thing. When temptations get strong and you think you “need” that extra piece of pie…get on your knees and pray!  Prayer has gotten me through many cravings and temptations over the last year.   You will be amazed at how quickly God can refocus you and remind you of your priorities.

Do NOT deny yourself an occasional treat! If you have a favorite cookie or food that you can’t imagine Christmas without, then indulge, a little!  As long as you don’t splurge and only occasionally indulge, you can enjoy your favorites.  If you don’t allow yourself an occasional treat, you are setting yourself up to fail.

Learn to use substitutes while baking/cooking.  Some of my favorites are:

  • Use egg whites as a whole egg substitute if possible.  This works for many of my recipes.  You may also consider using an egg substitute in your recipes.  I made egg salad this week using only the egg whites and it was delicious!
  • Use applesauce instead of oil in your baking.  This cuts out much of the fat.  The result is a more cake-like brownie.  If you like a fudgy brownies, here is a great recipe for brownies that are made with black beans.  It may not sound good, but the brownies are delicious and healthy!
  • Instead of cream to thicken, use pureed potatoes.
  • Use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips.
  • Instead of sugary frosting, top it with fresh fruit and a little powdered sugar.

As you are baking or cooking, chew gum. This will help you resist the temptation to snack while you are busy in the kitchen.  Many times we don’t even realize we are snacking and can take in hundreds of calories just “tasting” things.  If you are chewing gum, you will avoid this.

Roast a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey.

When having a meal, be careful of all of the trimmings. Things like gravy, whipped topping, nuts, cheese, butter, etc. can add extra calories without filling you up.  You want to be satisfied when you leave the dinner party, not stuffed!  My mom makes a delicious sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner, but the topping is loaded with nuts and butter!  I just scooped my serving underneath the nuts and I was able to enjoy the sweet potatoes without all of the extra fat!  And of course, there is always someone willing to take the topping you left behind!

When you go to a Christmas dinner, wear snug-fitting clothes, not those pants you wore to Thanksgiving dinner because you know they will stretch as you fill your tummy.  If you are wearing something a little more fitted, you will be more aware of how much you are eating.  Trust me, this works!  Also, be picky about what you eat.  If it is not something you love, don’t eat it!  Save your calories for foods you love.

A good way to stay active and moving during the holidays, park at the back of the mall parking lot. This will have you taking some extra steps and it also reduces the stress of trying to find a perfect parking spot.  Do not use the escalators or elevators, take the stairs!  You will be amazed at how less crowded the stairs are in the mall this time of year. You will burn a few extra calories and by the time you would have gotten on the elevator, you are already at your next stop!

And if you feel like you just can’t fit your exercise routine in during the holidays, don’t stress, be encouraged…30 minutes of gift wrapping burns approximately 45 calories and 1 hour of light baking burns over 150 calories!

What are some of your favorite strategies to healthy eating and staying active during the holidays?

~ by Heidi, Heidi’s Miscellany

The Great Christmas Breakfast Debate

 Posted by on December 4, 2012  12 Responses »
Dec 042012

When I was a kid, every Christmas morning my mom would make a huge batch of hot cocoa and a towering pile of buttered toast. And that was breakfast. Cocoa and toast. Simple, but I loved it. I still do. But when I got married, that was one of the first Christmas traditions to go out the window. See, my husband tolerates hot chocolate and considers toast an accompaniment to breakfast, not the main course. So, while a cup of hot cocoa and a couple slices of toast might do for an average Tuesday morning, it certainly wouldn’t do for Christmas breakfast.

As much as I loved my mom’s Christmas breakfast tradition, I have to say I agree that it should be something a little more special. Now 13 years and four children later, we still haven’t settled on that one perfect breakfast. Here are a few of the options we’ve tried.

Candidate #1: Pioneer Woman’s Baked Cinnamon French Toast

I loved this one. But even after baking it for longer than the recommended time, it was still too much like bread pudding for most of my texture-sensitive crew.

Candidate #2: Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake

Everybody loves this one. I’ve made it several times now. The only think keeping this not-too-sweet breakfast cake from rocketing to the top of the list is the fact that fresh blueberries are hard to find in December. I’ve made it with frozen blueberries and it works, but it isn’t as good. The frozen blueberries don’t mix well into the batter without turning the whole thing purple and the frozen berries are more tart, so they don’t work as well in the lightly sweetened cake. Still on the list though, because it is a family favorite.

Candidate #3:  Cinnamon Scones

I don’t have a photo of these one because I haven’t made them in a while. I use the Simple Scones recipe from Allrecipes and modify it a little bit. I leave out the raisins and add a teaspoon of vanilla and a half teaspoon of cinnamon. Then instead of plain sugar on the top, I sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. Pioneer Woman also has a recipe for cinnamon scones that sounds good, but very sweet.

Candidate #4: Mimi’s Christmas Breakfast

This is the photo from Confessions of a Former Couch Potato, the source of the recipe. Mine didn’t look anything like that. I know I did a couple different things wrong. First, I forgot to put the bacon on top til after it was baked. Second, I baked it too long. But see how she hers has this nice bread layer on the bottom and then a cheesy gooey layer on top? Mine didn’t work like that. The bread floated to the top and the eggs went to the bottom, and the cheese just cooked on top of the bread. I don’t know what happened. I’m still drooling over her photo though, so I think I’m going to have to try it again.

So friends, what are your favorite Christmas breakfasts?


10 Thanksgiving Habits

 Posted by on October 30, 2012  No Responses »
Oct 302012

Do you have Thanksgiving traditions, habits you turn to? We do and we’re sharing them today. We hope you will find some here to be thankful for as well.

1. Kendra’s Thankfulness Tree is a memory-making treasure for every year.

2. Kendra’s Note to Self makes such great sense. Adopt this habit this Thanksgiving and save yourself so much time in years to come. “In five minutes, without any brain-strain whatsoever, I was able to review and update what we did last year from what we ate to the centerpieces on the table to which bowls/platters/pots & pans I used to prepare and serve each item.”

3. There is just enough time to download and print the Thanksgiving Thankful Countdown Jar! A little something to pull out of a jar for every day leading up to Thanksgiving!

4. Little Sanctuary’s Yam Casserole is a classic holiday recipe.

5. Thanksgiving Tips I’m Thankful For from rinsing potatoes in the dishwasher to making dressing in the slow cooker. Hooray for practical!

6. The Habit of Tradition by Sherri. “Traditions are there if you look for them.”

7. Thanksgiving Homeschool Celebration at Heart of the Matter. “Each year at this time we share what we call a unit celebration of our homeschool. Basically, we show off the best of our school work and projects while the side dishes are still warming in the oven.”

8. Eight Free Printables for Thanksgiving from place mats to color to dinner conversation starters.

9. Fun ideas for the Kids Table at Skip to My Lou. So many cute printables for coloring and decorating.

10. Worksheets and Printables for Fall and Thanksgiving at Mama’s Learning Corner. A wonderful list of match games, journal pages, writing/grateful printables. You will want to pin this for printing!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Habits for a Happy Home! (And we’ve got Christmas habits too!)

We invite you to subscribe so you won’t miss any Habits for a Happy Home.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

~ by Tricia at Hodgepodge

10 Practical Christmas Habits

 Posted by on October 23, 2012  No Responses »
Oct 232012

When it comes to the holidays, I prefer simple and practical. So today I’ve gathered the same for you. I hope you find encouragement as well as something that will bless your home this time of year…

1. Christmas Budget Dwindling? by Trisha. Salt dough ornaments, a room redo, dress up clothes and more frugal gift-giving ideas.

2. Planning and Goal Setting for the Holidays – what about starting now with just one thing a day in preparation for Christmas?

3. Three Gifts for Christmas – the simple guideline. Three gifts for each of our children just as the wise men brought three gifts to Jesus.

4. Holidays and Breaking the Rules – send Thanksgiving cards, give teacher gifts in November and more habits to break the rules and calm December flurry.

5. Christmas Resources – from littlesanctuary “some resources we have used or come across over the years that have helped us as a family focus on the true meaning of season.”

6. Christmas…how we celebrate – Angie builds such beautiful memories each year in simple ways.

7. Fun, Frugal, Easy Gift Ideas Plus Tips – those meaningful, practical gifts we’ve given in years past.

I normally use a traditional trifle dish, but this one was going to an office function where there was limited refrigerator space.

8.  Kerri’s Brownie Triffle – the beautiful and delicious go-to holiday recipe for all gatherings!

9. Give a Little Love – Light ‘Em Up – Last year Kendra’s family ministered with simple acts of kindness. I love her take on this. “The idea is to do one random act of kindness each day until Christmas. If you have an advent calendar that you use already, you can tuck one of these ideas in there for each day (that’s what we did).”

10. I’m Bored – Christmas Edition – hard to believe but most of us will hear these words from our children. So you’re prepared.


We’ll be back with Thanksgiving habits before long! We invite you to subscribe so you won’t miss any Habits for a Happy Home.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

How about you. What are your favorite Christmas habits? Do you have tips to share for planning? Click here to comment…

~ by Tricia, Hodgepodge

Pinterest Party

 Posted by on February 1, 2012  No Responses »
Feb 012012

I feel like Pinterest is a party. See, I can breeze by all this visual inspiration and plan. I can scan through my Google Reader and pin ideas from posts. But Pinterest is a party because Pinterest is fun! Here’s how I use this virtual bulletin board.

1. Party Planning. Pinterest sure makes it easy to get ready for a party. And I love simple, few ingredient recipes.
With the Super Bowl coming up Pinterest offers appetizers galore! Spinach and artichoke bites from Household Ways, above.

These chocolate peanut butter Ritz? We just substitute the peanut butter for SunButter and make sure we use some allergy-friendly chocolate.

2. Freedom in allergy-friendliness. If you have allergies to deal with, Pinterest is a wealth of information. I’ve found I can substitute one ingredient and have a new and safe treat that is allergy friendly. I’ve created a whole board for such inspiration!

Cake decorating party, above.

3. For holidays and birthdays, of course!  all sorts of inspiration at your fingertips. So creative! Continue reading »