Go Ahead, Eat Dessert First

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I love a good dessert, and I am all about indulging now and then. But, I recently came across some new information about desserts that has radically changed things for me as a woman and a mom. I bet you are going to feel the same way.

Have you ever found yourself forcing your way through a meal just because you are anxious to get to the dessert? Have you ever told your kid they had to eat all that is on their plate before they get dessert? Have you ever treated dessert like a prize?

Guess what? When you view dessert this way, you run the risk over actually overeating (or making your kids overeat). When you stop forcing yourself to say “no” to sweets, you will be surprised to find you don’t binge eat the way you did before. It’s true!

Eat Like a European

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Did you know that it is common to start your meal with a pastry or tart in European countries? Since Europeans are not quite as obese as Americans, this is an interesting tidbit. They treat desserts differently than we do.

Stop Treating Dessert Like a Reward

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What would happen if you stopped treated dessert like a reward and treated it more like a normal part of a balanced diet? When we treat desserts like an indulgence, it makes it easier to overindulge. Think about it. We always want more of the things we aren’t supposed to have. If we took the danger out of desserts, maybe we wouldn’t allow them to put us in the danger zone.

Even Science Agrees

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The American Psychological Association has studied it, and even they say eat dessert first! In their report aptly titled If I Indulge First, I Will Eat Less Overall: The Unexpected Interaction Effect of Indulgence and Presentation Order on Consumption, they found that individuals who started their meal with their highest-calorie dish first tend to eat less calories overall.

From the report: “The results of four experiments consistently showed that when the first item in a sequence is indulgent, individuals subsequently choose healthier foods and consume fewer calories.” It makes sense to me. If I choose to begin with a dessert, I will likely not stuff myself with other high-calorie foods after.

Moderation is Key

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” - Charles M. Schulz

Like all things in life, moderation is key. While Europeans and scientists may agree that dessert comes first, I don’t think it means dessert comes first at every meal. Or that every dessert should be super indulgent. Some desserts are better than others.

Ultimately, the key is to let go of dessert guilt. When you eat what you want when you want it, you are less likely to overindulge. By taking away the prize of dessert and treating it like a regular part of a balanced diet, we are less likely to feel like we “need” a dessert to satisfy us.

What do you think? Are desserts worth it?

 

These Small Changes Changed Everything About the Way I Eat

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At the start of a new year, there is always so much pressure to lose more weight and get healthier. For most women, this turns into a cycle of dieting where we lose weight, gain weight, and feel less than. I’m over it.

Being healthy matters. But eating well and living a life you enjoy matters just as much. If we are not careful, we can develop a negative attitude towards food, which will make life harder and less enjoyable. This is why it is so important to have a positive attitude toward food.

Today, I’m sharing some of the small changes I made regarding the way I view food and dieting. These small changes have made such a big difference in my life. I bet you’ll notice a positive change when you change your attitude about food, too.

Dieting for the Sake of Dieting – No Thank You!

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If you are dieting to get healthy, good for you! If you are dieting simply because everyone around you is dieting, just stop. While it is important to eat healthy, there is no reason to go overboard with juice cleanses and diets.

Let Go of Food Guilt

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Please, once and for all, can we get over food guilt? There is already so much pressure on women to look the right way that we don’t need to feel pressure to eat the right way all the time. If you eat something not on the health menu, don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is a new day.

Stop Saying Never – Eat Some Treats!

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Along with the above attitude, stop telling yourself you can “never” eat certain things. This will only make you want them more. It is perfectly fine to indulge in the occasional treats. Many nutritionists recommend following the 80/20 rule – try to eat healthy 80% of the time with a 20% cushion.

Eat When You are Hungry – Not for the Sake of Staying Busy

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Many women fall into the habit of eating just to stay busy. Women get bored, and it feels better to be doing something – even something as simple as snacking. Instead, aim to eat when you are hungry. Before you pull a snack out of the pantry, ask yourself if you are actually hungry.

Enjoy Eating and Engage Your Senses

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The more you enjoy eating, the better your relationship with food will become. For instance, take time to taste your food rather than rushing through a meal. Engage your senses. Notice the aromas and taste the different flavors. Marvel at the beautiful display on the plate before you at the restaurant – isn’t that half the pics on Insta? We love looking at beautiful food. Now, take the time to enjoy eating it!

Be a Positive Food Role Model

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As a mom, it is important that I am a positive food role model for my daughters. Bad food habits can cause big problems like obesity and eating disorders. That’s why I believe it is important to teach them to eat well and enjoy every bite.

Better-for-You Holiday Entertaining Tips and Recipes with Almond Breeze

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The holidays are coming! Are you ready?

I feel more prepared than ever before thanks to a special event I recently attended sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze – the Blue Diamond Holiday House. With Thanksgiving fast approaching and Christmas right around the corner, I was delighted to attend an event designed to help attendees plan festive, merry, and better-for-you holiday events themselves. And, they succeeded!

I left the Blue Diamond Holiday House with tons of Thanksgiving and Christmas entertaining tips and plenty of inspiration for insta-worthy memories. As we look towards the upcoming holiday rush, I am here today to share all the holiday entertaining tips I gleaned from Blue Diamond that you can easily incorporate into your holiday meals and parties.

My Visit to the Festive Blue Diamond Holiday House

Walking into the Blue Diamond Holiday House thrust me headfirst into the merriment of this special time of year. The event space was beautifully decorated with multiple Christmas trees, and simple but elegant décor. The tablescapes were to die for. The food spreads were elaborate and tasty. And, the Almond Breeze Almondmilk beverages added to the holiday cheer.

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What’s not to love? Blue Diamond did a fabulous job of showing how to create festive meals using their almond-based products. But, unlike some events I attend where it is just pretty to look at and something I would not dream of recreating, this was different. I left feeling inspired and ready to create beautiful and better-for-you holiday memories with my family.

Why This Event Has Me Ready to Ring in the Most Wonderful Time of Year

The Blue Diamond Holiday House nailed it when it comes to entertaining inspiration. The various tablescapes were beautiful, and ones that would be relatively easy to recreate. Ultimately, when it comes to holiday meal planning, a big part of what makes the meal from different from every other meal you eat around the table is the décor. The event showed how to pull it all together. Plus, as an Instagram-lover, I could envision insta-worthy shots in my own home using their tablescape inspiration.

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Plus, I learned that I can plan a holiday meal that is both tasty and better-for-you. With family and friends who have dietary restrictions and unique food preferences, it can be challenging to design a menu that will make everyone happy. This event showed me this is not the case! By using Almond Breeze Almondmilk, I can plan a menu that everyone can eat and enjoy.

How I am Using Almond Breeze to Create Better-for-You Holiday Memories

While I certainly walked away from this special event with loads of entertaining tips, I am most delighted to share all the things I learned about how to use Almond Breeze Almondmilk to create better-for-you holiday memories.

We all know the holidays involve a lot of socializing and eating. However, most of that eating is not so good for you. Between the desserts and drinks, it is no surprise that many people pack on the pounds over the holidays. But the holidays are a time when we should get to indulge a little bit! That’s why I was so happy to discover I can use Almond Breeze Almondmilk and enjoy the same tasty holiday treats without the guilt.

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First things first, I plan to stock my pantry with Blue Diamond shelf-stable Almond Breeze Almondmilk. This means that not only will I have what I need on hand whenever the mood for a holiday treat crosses my mind, but I will also be prepared if a holiday visitor with dietary restrictions joins us for a meal.

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Next, I plan on eating and drinking all the holiday treats I usually feel guilty for indulging in without the guilt! By substituting Almond Breeze Almondmilk, I can indulge without fear. My belly won’t bloat, and my scale won’t start to tip. Even better, I can rest easy knowing I am making better-for-you choices for my family as we gather around the table.

And, gather around the table is just what I plan to do! The holidays are best spent with the ones you love, sharing food, and making memories. I can’t wait to bake holiday cookies with my daughters and eat them together around a table as we ring in the holiday season and the new year.

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Ways to Use Almond Breeze to Make Delicious Better-for-You Holiday Treats

While Almond Breeze Almondmilk can be used to make a ton of delicious treats, I am just going to share with you some of my favorite ways to use it. By playing it smart with Almond Breeze Almondmilk, I can enjoy all these treats guilt-free (and so can you!).

Eggnog Made with Almond Breeze Almondmilk

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 Eggnog is one of my family’s favorite holiday indulgences, but it is not the lowest calorie drink to guzzle. A better option is to make eggnog using almond milk. This recipe has been adapted from Dave Zinczenko at ABC News.

Ingredients:

  • 40 fl oz Almond Breeze Almondmilk

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  • Crack and open 6 eggs. Place in a bowl.

  • Whisk together almond milk and spices in a medium-sized saucepan.

  • Heat the liquid over medium-high heat for approximately five minutes or until steam appears. Whisk occasionally.

  • Slowly (very slowly) pour ½ cup increments of the heated liquid into the egg bowl. Do not pour it too fast or it will cook the eggs rather than combining. Whisk to combine.

NOTE: If you are in a rush, Blue Diamond also makes Almond Breeze Almondmilk Nog. Hooray!

Holiday Sugar Cookies with Almond Breeze Almondmilk

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Holiday sugar cookies are the best! Not only are they tasty, but it is also a fun tradition to make them with my kids. Fortunately, by using Almond Breeze Almondmilk, I don’t have to worry about my family eating too many over the holiday season. This recipe comes from Blue Diamond.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening

  • 1½ cups sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • ½ tsp. baking powder

  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar

  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. Almond Breeze Original Almondmilk; divided

  • Decorator sugar or sprinkles

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. Almond Breeze Vanilla Almondmilk

  • Food coloring

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheets with wax paper.

  • In a large bowl, beat 1 cup shortening, sugar, egg and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, scraping sides of bowl if necessary. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and cream of tartar. Mix on low speed until well mixed. Add 2 tablespoons of the almond milk and beat until smooth.

  • Form into 1¼” balls, using rounded tablespoonfuls of dough. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Spray flat bottom of measuring cup or drinking glass with cooking spray; dip in sugar. Press each cookie flat, dipping into sugar every other time.

  • If desired, lightly brush tops of cookies with remaining almond milk and sprinkle with colored decorator sugar or sprinkles or leave plain and frost when cooled.

  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges start to brown. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Remove to cooling racks.

  • In a large bowl, beat powdered sugar, ¾ cup shortening, vanilla and 3 tablespoons of the almond milk with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, adding almond milk for desired spreading consistency. Tint as desired with food coloring.

Plus, it is a better-for-you option alongside that morning coffee

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Finally, I have discovered the joy of using Almond Breeze Almondmilk instead of creamer for my coffee. During the busy holiday season, I need all the coffee I can get. Now, I can still enjoy a rich and delicious coffee without all the dairy creamer I usually add. Now I wish that Almond Breeze would come out with a coffee creamer that would be the perfect complement to my morning cup.

Stock your pantry with Blue Diamond products to prepare for a merry and festive holiday season!

School Lunch Packing Tips for Busy Working Moms

Back to School

Mornings are stressful. Between waking up and rushing around to get myself ready for work, I also must make sure my girls are up and ready to go to school. Between making sure the girls are dressed, fed, and have their teeth brushed, I also have to be sure they have a healthy lunch packed for school.

As most working moms have learned, packing school lunches can be the one thing that sends out mornings into complete chaos. If you don’t have a plan, you will be scrambling to throw something into your child’s lunchbox and rushing to get out the door on time. And, the scrambling usually doesn’t lead to a very healthy lunch for your kid or a healthy start to your day.

Since mornings are not my favorite, I need to have time to wake up without feeling rushed. A chaotic morning is the worst! One way to avoid the morning chaos is to have some solid school lunch packing plans.

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For other NYC working moms, here are some of the tips I have picked up that make mornings and lunches healthier for my girls and myself.

Make Time in Your Schedule

You are already busy, but I promise if you plan time to prepare and pack school lunches, your mornings will be so much better. Instead of rushing around throwing anything into your kid’s lunchbox, just schedule time to make it happen. For instance, some moms schedule an hour on Sunday evenings to prep school lunches for the week. If you don’t like that idea, then set the alarm for ten minutes earlier to schedule time for school lunch packing.

But, you should also have a plan for when we lose track of time. I make sure we have Little Bites on hand for mornings when things don’t go quite as planned. These packaged muffins really save the morning when we are rushing out the door.

Little Bites

 

Have Set Rules for What Goes In and What Stays Out                     

It won’t be nearly as hard to pack a school lunch if your family has a clear rule for what goes in a lunchbox and what does not. This makes both grocery shopping for school lunches and packing school lunches much easier. For example, many moms follow the “one of” rule – one of each of the following: protein, dairy, carb, fruit, and veggie. And, don’t forget to pack something to drink! In our house, I always make sure my girls leave for school with a bottle of water.

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Let Your Kids Help

There is no reason you should have to do everything (especially when you are doing so much already!). School lunch packing is not difficult – it is simply time-consuming. Instead, let your kids help. If they know what things should go in their lunchbox, it will make this much easier! Also, it is a good idea to have school lunch items in places they can reach. For example, use the lower shelves of the refrigerator or the pantry for school lunch items only.

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Bonus – take your kids grocery shopping with you! Grocery shopping for school lunches is full of teachable moments. You can point out healthy foods they can buy for their lunches and teach math skills. Plus, they are more likely to be excited to help pack their lunches if they have chosen what will go inside their lunchboxes.

Stock Up on Storage Solutions

All moms have their own ways of packing their kids’ school lunches. No matter if you want to use Bento boxes or Ziploc bags, you want to be sure you always have enough storage solutions on hand.

Do Your Prep Work

Like scheduling time to pack lunches, your mornings will be much smoother if you have done some prep work ahead of time. If you have leftovers, go ahead and store them in the containers you use for school lunches. Also, cutting fruits and veggies ahead of time will help out tons in the rush of the morning.

Don’t Forget Before and After School

Finally, don’t forget to make sure your kids take their vitamins in the morning before they go to school. While we can’t make sure they eat what is in their lunchbox, we can make sure they take their Zarbees vitamin.

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Additionally, it’s a good idea to have after school snacks ready. This doesn’t mean you have to bake cookies or anything – simply have an after-school basket full of snacks ready for them.