Maintaining A Healthy Diet On Vacation

Italy is a beautiful country, and you want to take in all the sites and visit the museums, but you have to admit, when it comes to the attractions, food is probably at the top of your list. You’ve heard about the midday Italian soprano; the heaping mounds of spaghetti, the Sicilian pizzas, the succulent meals and tangy cheeses, the rich sauces mopped up with huge hunks of garlic bread, the decadent tiramisu cakes, the thick espresso; you’re already imagining the pictures you’re going to post on Instagram. What you’re not looking forward to is getting back into your skinny jeans when you get home. Here are a few ways of enjoying your vacation without blowing your diet.

Resist the Urge
A study led by Linda H. Clemens of the Consumer Science and Education Department found that women splurge when they eat out and eat normal amounts of other meals during the day. This means they end up taking in many more calories and fat than they need. Clemens advises women to stop thinking of eating out as a special treat which gives us a license to overindulge. She explains, “Many of us grew up thinking of eating out as an event that didn’t happen too often.” However, these days, eating out is much more common. Clemens and other researchers found out that the more women ate out, the higher their total calories, fat, and sodium levels were.

Researchers speculate that there are three main factors contributing to this caloric overabundance from restaurant meals;

  • We choose higher fat and higher calorie menu selections.
  •  Restaurants serve large portions.
  •  We eat all of it.

Melanie Polk, RD, recommends exercising portion control. She says, “Some Americans are now ordering half sized portions, sharing entrees, taking home leftovers, and ordering appetizers as meals,” she says.

Order Meals Your Way
Another thing customers can do to lower their calorie and fat intake while dining out is asking restaurants to customize menu items. According to a National Restaurant Association report, this is happening at 80% of restaurants with meals averaging $25 per person or over and 70% of restaurants with meals averaging under $25 per person. Customer are interesting items prepared in ways other than those that are listed on the menu, are requesting a range of portion sizes, and many are asking to have food “doggy bagged.”

Everything in Moderation
You don’t have to deprive yourself of food, just try to keep it in moderation. Try to sample foods, rather than feast on them.

Walk
While eating is a big part of the vacation, so is walking. Get in some sightseeing, take a stroll after dinner, swim in the hotel pool, or wake up for an early morning hike to burn some of those mealtime calories.

Make Better Choices
Make healthful choices when you find something that appeals to you. Don’t deprive yourself and then resent it. Swap out small things, that you don’t mind sacrificing, such as condiments, sauces, and dressings. Choose Dijon mustard rather than mayonnaise, or marinara instead of white sauce.

How did you do on your vacation calorie count this year? Let us know how you made better choices and came home at the same weight you were when you left.

Turkey and wine

Best Wines to Pair With Turkey

Thanksgiving is all about coming together with friends and family to give thanks and show appreciation for all of the blessings in your life, and if you’re like us, one of those blessings is an incredible glass of wine. Your turkey dinner is an amazing time to sit and truly enjoy some great wine pairings. Ultimately, wine pairing is a matter of personal preference. While it’s great to try new things, if you know you absolutely hate a Zinfandel, try the less intense Pinot Noir instead. The only real rule to wine pairing is to do what makes you, and your palate, happy. That being said, we’ve got some guidelines as to where you might want to begin your search for the perfect wine/turkey pairings.

Champagne/ Sparkling Wines/ Rose
If you want a super simple pairing that will work with everything served from appetizers to dessert, look to Champagne, Rose and other sparkling wines. Sparkling wines have an acidity level that makes them easy to pair with dishes filled with herbs, cranberries and turkey. The effervescent quality of Champagne and sparkling wines help them to cut through truly rich foods like that gorgeous pecan pie.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is perhaps the most traditional red wine pairing when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. It has a lighter body than red wines like Cabernet and is softer on the palate than a Merlot. Pinot Noir typically features lush, berry fruits with an earthy undertone that pairs well with everything from the turkey to the cranberry sauce.

Zinfandel
Nicknamed the All-American grape, Zinfandel is another versatile red that pairs well with not just your turkey, but other trimmings on the table. Zinfandel is fuller in body than Pinot Noir and has a more intense flavor profile. As with Pinot Noir, Zinfandel has impressive fruit notes and it also features a bit of spice, both of which make it an excellent accompaniment to herb-laden dressings and both white and dark meat turkey.

Chardonnay
Another traditional Thanksgiving wine, Chardonnay is a pretty standard white at the table. An oaked Chardonnay has a round mouthfeel and is usually a bit creamy. The toasty oak flavors combine well with holiday classics like mashed potatoes and gravy and of course, your turkey. If you aren’t a fan of oaked Chardonnay, an un-oaked version of this white wine features more crisp citrus and apple flavors.

Riesling
Depending upon the Riesling, you may find that it is quite sweet or very dry, but the flavor profile of Riesling’s make them an excellent white wine choice for Thanksgiving dinner. Fruits such as apricots and apples and hints of delicious honey make this wine a great pairing for your sweet potato casserole as well as your turkey.

Remember that when it comes to wine, your tastes and preferences are more important than sticking to traditional wines that you don’t enjoy. If you feel adventurous, try pairing a few wines with your meal. Serve rose with appetizers, Pinot Noir or Riesling for dinner and finish with a sparkling wine. Savor your wine and your time with family and friends by picking a wine pairing that is meant for turkey.

Thanksgiving recipe.

Eat Well: Our Favorite Simple Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is as much about the food and flavors as it is about giving thanks and practicing gratitude. Your table is likely full of dishes and recipes that have been passed down or are traditionally served for this holiday, but this year you may want to consider trying something new. Our super simple Thanksgiving recipes are quick and easy to make and are sure to please everyone gathered together. We’ve included a breakfast, appetizer, side dish and dessert so you can enjoy new flavors at any meal.

Pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin Muffins
Thanksgiving dinner steals the show this holiday, but you still need to eat breakfast to get your body going so you can make all the delicious dishes to fill your table. Start your morning with these super easy and festive pumpkin muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 18.5 oz box yellow cake mix
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease muffin tin (or line with muffin paper liners). Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl and spoon equal amounts of batter into muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

Fresh Cranberry Salsa
Say goodbye to the can of cranberry sauce and hello to the taste of fresh cranberries. This easy cranberry salsa makes a great Thanksgiving appetizer served with cocktails.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions cut to 3 inches in length
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
  • 2 limes juiced
  • ¼ to ½ cup white sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese

Add cranberries, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno, lime juice, sugar and salt to the bowl of your food processor. Chop to a medium consistency and refrigerate. For best flavor, allow the salsa to refrigerate for 24 hours prior to serving. To serve pour salsa over softened cream cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

Roasted red potatoes

Honey Mustard Roasted Red Potatoes
Who says you have to eat mashed potatoes? If you feel like switching things up at the table a bit this year, try this delicious take on roasted red potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon rosemary
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 red potatoes quartered or cut into 1 inch pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add all ingredients to a large bowl except the potatoes. Whisk the olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper together. Add potatoes and toss to make sure all potatoes are coated. Roast in preheated oven, turning occasionally, until tender. Depending on your oven this may take anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes, potatoes are done when a fork easily slides into potatoes.

Chocolate rum balls.

Chocolate Rum Balls
Traditional desserts like pumpkin and pecan pie are definitely a tasty treat, but sometimes you’re a bit too full after dinner to enjoy a slice. These simple, bite-size desserts are made a few days in advance (to allow for best flavor) so they won’t take any time out of your holiday.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
  • ⅓ cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup spiced rum
  • 1 gallon plastic zip bag
  • Additional confectioners sugar

In a large bowl, mix vanilla wafers, confectioners sugar, unsweetened cocoa and nuts. Once well mixed, blend in honey and spiced rum. Refrigerate for one hour. Shape rum ball dough into one-inch pieces. In a gallon sized plastic bag, add some additional confectioners sugar. Pour confectioners sugar into bag, add rum balls and shake well. Once coated with confectioners sugar, set aside in an airtight container for a few days to develop flavor.

Our favorite simple Thanksgiving recipes don’t require much time to prepare but they sure taste like they did. Wow your crowd with some new flavors by whipping up one of these tasty recipes. Start a new tradition this year with our favorite simple Thanksgiving recipes that your friends and family are sure to look forward to all year.

Woman reading while on a vacation.

Don't Skip Good Habits on Vacation

You pay good attention to your health by eating well, exercising and taking great care of your skin. However, once you are taken out of your normal environment and are free of rigid schedules while on vacation, it can be so difficult to maintain your good habits. The following tips will help you stay on track during your vacation.

Woman jogging in a beach.

Live Well
Exercise may be the very last thing that you want to do but if you continue to exercise while on vacation, it makes getting back to your regular routine so much easier. If you have an entire gym routine that relies on equipment, you may find that you have to wait until you get back home to do everything you normally do. The great thing about vacation is that you likely are excited to spend time exploring your destination. Rather than hopping on a bus or into a cab, walk as much as possible. This benefits you in two ways; you are maintaining regular exercise and you will almost certainly find shops or eateries that you would otherwise miss and pass right by. Additionally, if you end up making purchases, carrying your items home can count as a bit of strength training. Another way to add a bit of movement into your day is to always opt for taking the stairs. Elevators and escalators are so tempting, but walking up and down stairs will burn calories and help you stay fit. If you feel really motivated to workout, you can always look up hotels with fitness equipment and stay there or search for a local place to workout such as a yoga studio.

Dishes served in a fine dining restaurant.

Eat Well
One of life’s greatest pleasures is eating and going to a new place is often culinary bliss. You should definitely be looking for food and drinks that are unique to the region you are in, but be careful not to overindulge. Rather than ordering full sizes of rich and heavy dishes, order a half size or try several small plates of appetizers. Same goes for dessert, when possible of course. Sampling allows you to try all of the local flavors without feeling super guilty and making it hard to go back to a healthy diet at home. However, in the event that you do indulge your food cravings (new foods are so fun and exciting!) you can always put in a little bit of extra walking.

Woman sunbathing in a beach

Look Well 
Taking good care of your skin is extra important on vacation as methods of travel can remove moisture from your skin (specifically airplane travel) and new environmental concerns may upset your skin as well. The first thing you need to remember is to always apply your sunscreen. Not only are UV rays incredibly harmful to your health, but getting a bad sunburn on vacation is never fun. Next, keep your skin care routine as close to normal as possible. Take travel sizes of your normal cleanser, toner, exfoliant and moisturizer. Never go to bed with your makeup on and add in a bit of extra moisturizer.

Vacation definitely is a time to let loose and enjoy yourself, but you also should practice your good habits while having fun. Remember to always stay well hydrated, particularly in the heat and don’t forget the sunscreen. Have a great time relaxing and enjoying new experiences while sticking with your good habits.

Stressed woman at work.

How to Get Back to Work After Vacation

You have looked forward to your vacation for what feels like forever, yet it feels like as soon as you’ve left you have to prepare to go back to work. And the thought of going back to work is beyond overwhelming. Think of all of the voicemails, the memos and, of course, the many e-mails that are sure to await you when you get back. Doing a bit of work before you leave can help your return to work easier and a bit more pleasant.

Woman working on her laptop.

Write a Great Away Message
To avoid going back to work with an inordinate amount of work waiting you, you need to write a well thought out “away” message. Skip the “family vacation” or “much needed vacay” and instead be a bit more professional. Simply say you are out of the office from your departure date until the day you plan to return to work. Include directions for what is to be done in the event that immediate action is needed and leave contact information so that people are still able to get the information they need. It is also a good idea to ask that the person e-mailing you follow-up upon your return because e-mails can get lost in a crowded inbox (which you are sure to have after a vacation).

Woman working on her tablet in the airport.

Plan for Your Return Before you Depart
Getting everything ready before your departure for vacation is a completely overwhelming task. There’s packing, making last minute changes to your schedule and wrapping up work before you go. With all of this the thought of adding more to-dos before you go may stress you out completely. However, if you actively plan for your return to work instead of merely focusing on leaving work, it can make going back to the office much easier. Having a clear idea of what you will need to do immediately upon your return helps make you more productive when you actually do get back to work. Plan to spend your first day back checking and answering e-mails and leave important meetings until a day or two after you return to make sure that you are back in the swing of things.

Woman with her luggage on an escalator.

Return Earlier
Most people plan vacations with the day of return being Sunday. Bad idea. So many things can go wrong from layovers to cancelled flights, your day of traveling home is stressful enough without having to worry about work. Delay in travel makes having to return to work bright and early on Monday morning that much more undesirable. Instead of planning to head back to work the day after you get home, consider returning on a Friday or Saturday. This gives you a great buffer day in which you can adjust to being home, unpack and mentally prepare yourself for the return to work. Do laundry, read, spend time with the pets you missed, do whatever you need to do in order to get yourself ready for your return to work.

Very few people get excited about going back to work after vacation, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Give yourself plenty of time to travel and ideally some time to relax before heading back to work and once you are back, take it easy for a day or two and spend time returning messages. And of course, do not let the inevitable return to work stop you from enjoying your time spent on vacation.

Couple having lunch in a restaurant.

Eat Well While on Vacation

When vacation time finally rolls around one of the greatest pleasures is spending time indulging in new experiences. One way to fully experience your destination is to sample the local culture gastronomically. Eating well on vacation requires a bit of sleuthing work prior to departure, but the time you spend researching eateries will be well worth it when you get a taste of what your vacation destination has to offer.

Read Blogs
You probably already follow some blogs, and you may even have a few you go to for travel tips, tricks and ideas. To eat well on vacation, look for food blogs that either are written by locals in the area you are traveling to, or by bloggers who travel and sample foods from these same destinations. Not only do these food blogs give you a bit of an idea of what to expect, but they can also shed some light on hidden gem restaurants that you might otherwise miss completely.

Woman asking for directions.

Ask the Right Questions
One common mistake people make when vacationing is to ask locals where “the best place to eat” is located. That’s a totally fair question, but is pretty open to personal interpretation. Often, locals interpret this question as “where is the nicest, fanciest place to eat,” and that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting a taste of local flavors. Instead of asking where is the “best” place, ask questions such as:

  • Where do you eat regularly?
  • What is the one dish (and where can you get it) that captures the spirit of this location?

Asking specific questions helps the person you are asking think more about the food than the reputation of the restaurant.

Use Review Sites Sparsely
The internet is a wonderful way to experience and learn about things that are far removed from where you are. However, there are some things you need to consider when using web-based research for eating while on vacation. Sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp can be incredibly useful, but be wary. Reviews are written by people and people aren’t always the most trusted sources of information. The first thing you want to do is scan for thoroughly detailed reviews that mention what the person ate, a rough idea of cost and other details about the dining experience. Next, check out the commenter’s profile and avoid those who have only reviewed one or two restaurants. Also avoid comments that either love everything or hate everything about the experience. Sure, it may have been a once in a lifetime perfect dining experience, but it could also be a server at the restaurant trying to drum up business.

Woman sampling a dish

Sample, Don’t Splurge
Eating well isn’t just about finding the tastiest thing you can while on vacation, it also includes feeding your body foods that provide nourishment. You don’t have to stick to a rigid diet when traveling, but be sure to sample local in-season fruits and vegetables. Visit a farmer’s market to get the freshest produce possible. A trip to the farmer’s market can also help you find great local eateries; simply ask the vendors if they provide their produce and meats to any local restaurants. When it comes to extravagant dishes or delicious desserts, go ahead and sample those that look particularly tasty to you. Sampling items gives you a bit of indulgence while not going overboard and upsetting your normal diet (or waistline).

Vacation really is a special occasion that should be enjoyed. Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures and trying new, exotic foods is something you shouldn’t deprive yourself of. Doing a bit of research and practicing just a bit of restraint can help you eat well while on vacation.