December 27, 2012

5 Ways to Break Unhealthy Habits in the New Year

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As the new year approaches, many people are contemplating their new year's resolution, a tradition that has been practiced for generations. Breaking bad habits and leaving nonsensical hobbies are usually the focal point of such contemplation. Unfortunately, it is easier and simpler to start unhealthy habits than to actually end them, considering the fact that most habits are addictive, such as smoking and drinking.  It will take more than abstinence to permanently eliminate your unhealthy habits though. So, below are 5 ways that can help you do so in a safe manner. 

Accept the Facts
Most people who have unhealthy habits deny the reality of the situation. You may very well be addicted to drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, or even food. Not recognizing this fact deters you from accomplishing the goals they set out to do. Acknowledge your habits and own them. Denial won't do you any good. You are merely fooling yourself. Your family, friends, relatives, and, most importantly, you know that these habits exist, so own them. Once you've accepted this fact, it will start to lose its power over you. It is absolutely much better to acknowledge your unhealthy habits than ignore or hide them.

Determine the Source
Understand where your bad habits spawned. What situation in your life caused you to develop this unhealthy habit? What problems led you to drinking alcohol or eat too much? After identifying where the bad habits come from, they are much easier to solve, since you can likely figure out how to avoid lighting those fuses, or at least work at stemming the problem at the source.

Identify Your Reasons
How easy it is to break unhealthy habits relies on many different factors, one of which is the reason why you are breaking it. If you break a habit for the wrong reason, there is a good chance the habit will rebound sooner or later. Do you want to feel better about yourself? Do you want to gain more energy or time for your family or friends? Do you want to look and/or feel healthier? Perhaps you wish to live longer than the average smoker's lifespan? Once you determine your main reason for getting rid of these unhealthy and often life-compromising habits, it will be much simpler to search for the right motivation and strategies to accomplish your goals.

Join Support Groups
There are a number of public and private support groups legally operating in different communities all over the country for people who need to work on fixing their lives. There are groups focusing on cigarette smoking, drug abuse, dieting, exercise, positivity, gambling and more. If you can't find one in your community, you can likely find one online. 

Replace them With Good Habits
The bad habits you've flushed from your system should be replaced with good habits. For example, if you want to eliminate your habit of indulging in junk food and fast food, replace your diet with things that are both appealing to you and healthy. If you don't actively try to replace the unhealthy habit, it'll be much easier to fall back into it.

Janelle Harper writes about health, nutrition, addiction and mental health. Her most recent work has focused on the top schools for online counseling degrees.

December 25, 2012

From Our Family To Yours

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Husby and I find ourselves realizing how incredibly blessed we are. We will not get have a traditional first year of marriage or get to experience all the laughs and special moments together, but we have our family, our friends and our unconditional love for one other, and for that we are truly blessed. It’s my hope that everyone experiences these same feelings of merriment and joy, during this time of year.

This season is a time to open our hearts and find those special reasons to enjoy life’s little moments more fully.

Wherever you’ll be spending the season, I hope it’s Merry & Bright.

Cross your fingers our Connecticut Christmas is white!

See last years card HERE.

December 14, 2012

5 Ways to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays

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As the Christmas season approaches, people are getting much busier planning their holiday itineraries. Surrounded by such an electrifying hype, people easily forget to stay healthy over these festive weeks. From traveling to indulging in cholesterol-rich foods, the human body endures an awful lot of unhealthy or hard-to-deal-with things during Christmas holidays. For people who wish to step up their game and maintain optimal health over the holidays, below are 5 surefire ways to achieve their goals.

Get Involved

Rather than watching TV or eating all day, consider getting involved with the community. Volunteer here and there, and really stay on your feet and out of the kitchen. This way you're paying it forward, truly feeling the holiday spirit AND avoiding the excess calories that you'd consume just sitting around.

Food Fun

Even if you can't consume every confection on your Christmas table, help your family prepare for their feast. This way, you're not all by your lonesome. Furthermore, by involving yourself during the preparation, you can cite healthier alternatives for meal ingredients and suggest more nutritious dishes to make. Participate actively to bend decisions to the right curve. If your family members still insist on making decadent cake, suggest donating that dish to a local pantry in need of food for Christmas dinner.

Early Morning Jog

Early morning, between 4 to 6, is a great time to get in a quick workout. It isn't overcrowded with people or cars, despite being the holidays. Taking early morning jogs will help you stay fit, and you won't have to worry about leaving your loved ones behind while you sneak in some cardio. Though your calories burned will likely be replaced by your next meal, that's still ok. The key is to always stay dedicated to your long term wellness. A little indulgence here and there is perfectly acceptable, as long as your eye is always on the prize.

Holiday Parties

Christmas isn't complete if you can't celebrate it with family and friends, right? Though holiday parties are fun and exciting, it does leave you vulnerable to consuming too much food or drinking too much alcohol. A great way to keep your cravings and appetite under control is to eat a light meal prior going to the party. This way, you'll be satisfied with eating fruit platters or carrot sticks once you are actually at the party.


Most families and individuals spend their Christmas holidays out of town. During your stay at hotels or at your relative's house, make sure you keep an eye out for things that may compromise your health. For example, never drive under the influence, and be sure to keep an eye out for others who are less careful

In conclusion, staying healthy over the holidays is a great way to start the upcoming new year. However, you should aim to stay healthy and fit all the time, not just during holidays. A new year's resolution is only worth something if you stick with it!

Gregory Logan writes about health, nutrition and wellness. A nurse, he routinely writes for the Associates Degree in Nursing Guide.


December 12, 2012

Espresso Fudgy Walnut Pinwheel Cookies

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This year I had the pleasure of participating in the 2nd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. Food bloggers from around the world celebrate the holidays with all things sweet and scrumptious. Last year there was nearly 22,000 cookies sent around the world, how cool is that? 
I am involved with cookie swaps with friends and co-workers but this 'swap' is exciting because you are sending and receiving cookies from all around the world. The idea is that you are each given three secret senders to bake a dozen cookies for each and mail your goodies off by a certain date. At the same time, you would receive cookies from three different surprise bloggers and thus, the great food blogger cookie swap was created. 
This year was extra special and exciting because we were able to partner with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer so not only were we all able to make and share delicious cookies, but we're also supporting a great cause. Additionally, OXO® matched all our donations DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR!!! 

Baking for a cause is much more satisfying (and did I mention, it's calorie free too)!

The cookies I decided to make were a recipe I tried last year and they ended up being husby's favorite, followed of course by my nutella chocolate chip cookies. There were barely enough left to cover my decorative cookie platters for our holiday parties and swapping them was not even an option. With that kind of response I was sold that these would be a perfect choice for a cookie swap.
These easy, good looking cookies are one of my favorites for the holiday season because not only do they taste amazing but they really jazz up a holiday platter with it's beautiful swirls and little drops of walnuts. Plus, they have the convenience of making them ahead of time and once you are ready to cook simply take them out of the fridge, slice and bake. I know for me, anything that I can make ahead of time makes my life soooo much easier.

A decorative and delicious slice and bake cookie, what could be better than that?
The three lucky recipients of my swap were the beautiful...
Susan @ Mercer and Sage
Stephanie @ CopyKat Recipes
Jeanette @ SweetJeanette 

I hope you ladies all enjoyed each crumb just as I did (with all the added leftovers I made, yumm)!

Now that I have shared my favorite delicious cookie swap recipe with you all, I have three different batches of cookies that I received that are calling my name.

Happy swapping! 
Espresso Fudgy Walnut Pinwheel Cookies 
Prep: 25 min. + chilling
Yield: 30 Servings

1/3 cup canola oil
4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 cup finely chopped organic walnuts
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp instant espresso
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Roll out dough into a 12-in. x 10-in. rectangle between two sheets of waxed paper; transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening. Stir in the walnuts, milk and vanilla. Remove waxed paper from dough; spread with filling. Tightly roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Unwrap and cut into 1/4-in. slices. Place 2 in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks. Store in an airtight container. 
Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño