Category Archives: Holidays

MySisterSaid Happy Chinese New Year Resolutions!

chinese_dragon_sculpture_01_hd_pictures_170896Between the polar vortex, a long visit with my mom as she recovered from a hip fracture, and the start of school, January passed by in a snowy haze.  Since I wasn’t too focused on the start of the new year, I decided to have a “do over” and consider Chinese New Year as my fresh start.  Kung Hei Fat Choy, everyone—Happy New Year!

Part of the tradition of the Chinese New Year is to give the house a thorough cleaning…a sweeping away of any misfortune or bad luck from the past year to make way for the incoming good luck and fortune that will surely arrive during the new year.  While I can’t say I gave the whole house a thorough cleaning, I did sweep and tidy up the front porch and landing, so I’m hoping for at least a little good fortune!

Along with new years come new resolutions. Did you make any this year, and have you kept them?  If so, way to go—double down on them and keep it going!  If not, then now’s the time.  They can be your Chinese New Year Resolutions…and no, I don’t mean resolve to eat more Cantonese and Shichuan food!

In essence, a resolution is just a big word for goal.  Goals should be attainable with a reasonable amount of work and discipline, and they should be measurable.  My main resolution involves a little gadget I gave myself for Christmas–a personal fitness tracker called the Jawbone Up. It tracks steps, food intake and sleep patterns. There are other trackers such as the FitBit and the Nike+ that are very similar.  I am aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day, and what I have found is that it definitely takes some planning and discipline to reach that goal.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Parking the car in the spot farthest from where you are headed really does make a difference in terms of getting those steps in
  • On days when I don’t do a workout I better get myself out there walking for at least 30-45 minutes if I’m going to meet my goal
  • Teaming up with a buddy is a good way to keep motivated–my device allows me to see my teammate’s activity and vice-versa so we push each other along
  • I plan to do laundry on a day when I don’t work out–doing 4 or 5 loads of laundry and going up and down stairs really adds up
  • Chester the wonder dog is the beneficiary of my new goal–at the end of the day if I don’t have enough steps we head out for a walk
  • I programmed my tracker to vibrate if I have been sedentary for 30 minutes–that prompts me to get up and get moving for a bit

Using the tracker has definitely motivated me to move more, but even an inexpensive pedometer would do the trick.  If you haven’t tried it before, you definitely should–just track your steps for a few days to see what you average, then start ramping up.  MySisterSaid we’ll be stepping our way into 2015 a little more fit and healthy!



MySisterSaid Do You Have a Holiday Game Plan?

Turkey-with-footballJust as football coaches this time of year are thinking about their game plans, I’ve been thinking a lot about my holiday game plan for eating healthfully and staying fit.  Every year, I read tips for maintaining my weight, and I try to be cognizant of them as I negotiate the field of dietary land mines I traverse from Thanksgiving through the New Year.  From buffets to candy dishes, to seasonal cocktails and pumpkin pie, the list is long!  I recently read two ideas that I hadn’t heard before, and I’m adding them to my holiday game plan:

Start early to fill up on fiber: Starting a few days before the holiday, eat a half-cup serving of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal just prior to two or three of your meals.  According to the latest Health and Nutrition Letter from Tufts University, this satiety-boost will make you feel more satisfied and in control, and that will help you want to eat less.

Gain control back quickly:  Once you’ve eaten that big meal, it’s easy to head down the slippery slope to one indulgence after another.  The experts at Tufts recommend immediately working towards recovering your satiety.  Starting with breakfast the next day, put yourself on a high-fiber regimen.  Incorporate high-fiber cereals, legumes, or low-carb high-fiber breads into each meal and snack.  Taking care of your satiety will help you lose the desire to overeat.

In addition to these two new tips, I also revisited some that are tried and true.  While these are recommendations most of us have heard, I find reading through and visualizing myself doing them yields better results:

Don’t go to a party hungry: Starving yourself all day in anticipation of eating more at a party tends to backfire and you end up hungry and out of control once you get there

Try to fit in an extra 15 minutes of exercise each day:  It will not only burn some calories, but will help keep you mindful of your body and how it feels

If you drink alcohol, be sure to alternate with water:  You’ll drink half as much alcohol, stay hydrated and make better choices

Move the candy dish as far away as possible:  Studies show that even moving it a few feet farther away can make a difference as to how much you consume

Volunteer to make a healthy dish to take to a social event:  Be sure to make something enticing and make that the first thing you put on your plate

Fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables:  Scope out the buffet table before you decide what to eat, then load up on the healthiest choices first

So whip out your turkey platter, and string up the sparkly lights, but find time to make your holiday game plan.  Think how much better you’ll feel about yourself heading into the new year knowing that you had a great time, and that you were in control!







MySisterSaid Lebanese Butternut Squash with Tahini Sauce is a Savory Side Dish

Lebanse Butternut Squash

Lebanese Butternut Squash is so hearty and tasty that it could serve as the basis for a Meatless Monday Meal!

On Sunday we made Roast Chicken and cooked enough for leftovers on a busy weekday evening. Tonight is the night. I’m serving the chicken with a healthy side dish I discovered in the Volkskeuken recipe section of my Dutch newspaper, the Volkskrant. Lebanese Butternut Squash is a perfect accompaniment for any roast meat and it cooks while I set the table and make a fruit salad for dessert. Lebanese Butternut Squash is so good, that I find myself walking around thinking of excuses to make it and eat it! Hmm…there’s a Thanksgiving meal on my horizon. This’ll be on the table.

Lebanese Butternut Squash & Tahini Sauce ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil (I use only enough to lightly coat the squash)
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 4 tablespoons/ ¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Here’s how to prepare the squash

Preheat your oven to 190˚C/375˚F. Wash the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. You don’t need to peel it. Scoop out the seeds and slice the squash into wedges. Put it in the roasting pan, drizzle it with up to 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and add the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Sprinkle with salt and chili flakes. Roast 40-45 minutes in the oven.

And here’s how to make the Tahini Sauce for your Lebanese Butternut Squash

Mix the tahini, garlic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 5 tablespoons of water in a bowl. Serve the Lebanese Butternut Squash with the Tahini Sauce and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite butternut squash recipe?


MySisterSaid There’s No Such Thing as a Diet Birthday Cake Recipe

Happy Birthday!

So today is Melinda’s birthday and she’s thousands of miles away. Didn’t stop me from wishing her the very best. And telling her to EAT CAKE! And then I didn’t know whether to feel guilty or not about telling someone I love to indulge in a tradition that has absolutely no redeeming nutritional value. But what My Sister Said is this:

‘Planned forays into the land of sweets are allowed. We have to eat what we love and love what we eat – in moderation.’

This is no diet birthday cake, but it is melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

And after all, it is a day for celebration.

Here’s a recipe we love for special occasions. It’s not a diet birthday cake recipe. It has sugar and cream, but it also has delicious fiber-rich fruits. And if you budget for the calories in this heavenly dessert, all will be fine: Pavlova to Die For

According to our calculations, a serving of Pavlova has about 180 calories, 2.4 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbohydrates and 2.4 grams of fiber. Not bad for something so divine!