A few weeks ago, I got the pleasure of being interviewed by a very special, local Mommy blogger. We chatted about life, mama stuff, kiddos, and her journey as a young breast cancer survivor.
Kimberly Chacon is a graduate of New York University. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, she taught English for ten years in New York City. When she's not running after her 18 month old twins and eight month old baby, she blogs about kids, food, and motherhood at partyoffiveblog.com.
Thanks for taking the time to write this, Kimberly! Here's the article and a quick picture we managed to sneak in (Kimberly, Magnolia, Jagger, and I):
I don't know about you, but winter always starts out great. I love the chill in the air and the approaching holidays, goodies, and gatherings. Then, I inevitably eat too many cookies at EVERY celebration and I fall into the "I'll get healthy in January" mindset. This year is different. I've been working hard to lose the baby weight and I don't want to go backwards. In addition to weight loss, it is also about keeping my energy up and staying healthy. So, I spoke with an expert to help me figure it out.
I sat down with Tara Allen to discuss health and winter woes. Her credentials include Registered Nurse, Certified Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer and mom. But I want you to know something else: when you meet Tara she glows with good nutrition. Clear skin, lots of energy, and just "something"that tells you she's healthy. Additionally, I got to meet her darling kids, Jagger and Magnolia. As soon as Magnolia, three years old, sat down with her crayons she wanted to write a grocery list that included Brussel sprouts and green beans. Yes, that happened. At that moment I knew that Tara was the real deal, not just talking the talk, but walking the walk! Surrounded by kids and coffee we had a great chat.
K: Tara! Save me from myself this holiday season. I love ALL THE TREATS. I inevitably eat too many cookies and goodies at every celebration. Help!
T: Don't show up to a holiday party starving. Just don't do it. Eat a light meal before and then think carefully about your choices. Choose which treat you are going to have and really savor it. If you love pumpkin pie, then wait until you have the best quality, most delicious pumpkin pie and enjoy it! Don't deprive yourself from all the treats or that will backfire. Also, always be prepared. If you know you are going out for a long day of holiday shopping, make sure to have trail mix or a fruit packed in your purse. This will help you avoid eating junk while you are out.
K: Ok, what about this dilemma? My main exercise has been walking, but now it's getting colder and it gets dark at 4 p.m. What workouts do you recommend for winter?
T: You can do workouts at home! Try this while the kids are playing: 10 push ups, 10 squats, walking lunges while wearing or holding your baby, then run up and down the stairs. Repeat this a few times during the day. There is always a way to work it in! Alternate HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) with long walks and yoga. Also, look on Youtube for free workout videos that you can do in your living room. (Addendum: After our interview, I made it a point to try and work in these kinds of exercises and it is possible, but you have to put your mind to it. The neighbors probably thought I was crazy, but I did squats while holding the baby in the backyard and ab twists using the pumpkins after Halloween. (Tara made a video showing this on her website and I was inspired to recycle my decorations. The pumpkin workout is no joke.)
K: I am trying really hard to avoid that winter "blah" feeling this year. What are some of the things you do to stay healthy during this season?
T: The first thing is that you should eat warming foods at this time of year. I am constantly roasting vegetables during winter. These are easy to pop on a baking sheet and into the oven to eat throughout the week. I choose one temperature (usually 400 degrees F) and stagger cooking times as needed for each vegetable. In particular, I find myself making a variety of squash, most notably spaghetti and butternut squash.
My second recommendation is take more vitamin D. I love that you wrote a whole blog article about it and women need to know how important it is to their health. One source of vitamin D that people may not be aware of is pastured eggs. These are eggs from chickens that roam free. Their diet is better and makes them a great vitamin source. Also, find a great supplement that works for you. I take up to an extra 1,000 IUs daily during the winter. This helps to build your vitamin D stores when we have less access to sunlight.
K: Do you have any tips for implementing healthy holiday traditions for kids?
T: Actually, yes! My family has a strong tradition of making my grandmother's delicious recipes for Christmas goodies, but as you can imagine, those recipes are laden with shortening and white sugar. But, they are part of our family tradition, so here's what we do: we choose ONE of my grandmother's recipes to make and then make two healthy treats. We use the combination of traditional and healthy treats as gifts for friends and neighbors. This is my most popular "treat" recipe: Healthy Holiday Fudge (scroll down for recipe).
K: You write a lot about kids eating vegetables and I literally just heard your daughter ask for Brussel sprouts. How do you do it?
T: I have tried to make a practice that she eats a vegetable at every meal. I let her choose between two, so her voice is heard, but we eat them together and she loves them. She also helps me with writing grocery lists and meal planning. If you are struggling to get your little ones to eat vegetables, try my recipe for Butternut Squash Apple soup (see below). I suggest starting with it very sweet (more apples at first), then adjusting it to lessen the sweetness over time. It works!
Thank you for all of these great tips!
Healthy Holiday Fudge
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup cacao powder
- 2 T honey or maple syrup
1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Pour into silicone molds or spread evenly in pan.
3. Place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours (or overnight).
4. Pop out of molds or cut into squares and place in an air-tight container.
5. Serve right out of refrigerator, as they will melt if kept at room temperature.
Butternut Squash Apple Soup
- 1 Butternut squash, raw - peeled and chopped
- 2 apples, any kind, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 3 T coconut oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp turmeric
- salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, melt coconut oil. Sautee onion for 3-5 minutes, until translucent.
2. Add broth, water, squash, and apples.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 35 minutes.
5. Use an immersion blender or transfer batches of soup into a blender / food processor until it is a pureed consistency.
6. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and salt and pepper.
7. Garnish with pumpkin seeds or fresh herbs.