Mashed Garnet Yam Recipe

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year on Thanksgiving at tables throughout the country sits a dish with sweet potatoes.  This staple item is simply a must when cooking up a “traditional” Thanksgiving feast.  Most of the time you will see candied yams or sweet potatoes doused in maple syrup and marshmallows.  Doesn’t take a genius to spot where these can easily add insult to injury!

Sweet potatoes happen to be the dish I’ve been assigned for Thanksgiving, at least for the last 5 years.  My take has always been, since there is so many other items on the table for the holiday and many of those items are rich,flavorful and loaded with calories why does one more dish need to pack the weight?  I am by no means against indulging in a hearty family meal but since these are under my control I try to lessen the insult and create a healthier dish.

The great thing about working with sweet potatoes are they are so easy to make, super flavorful, and pack with antioxidants.  I did find a gold mine in Whole Foods under the name “garnet yam”.  These yams are bright orange and way more tasty than the regular sweet potato.  Below is my recipe for the staple dish.  Enjoy!

Mashed Garnet Yams (Serves approx. 15)

Ingredients: 8 Garnet Yams, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Cinnamon


  1. Scrub clean yams
  2. Boil the potatoes in large pot 20-30 minutes or until soft and outside skin starts to fall off
  3. Let cool, then slide off peels (or leave them in for added nutritional value)
  4. Using a hand mixer or potato masher knead potatoes into a mashed texture
  5. Mix in butter and milk
  6. Add 1/8 tsp cinnamon and dash of pumpkin pie spice
  7. Enjoy!

What dish do you bring to your Thanksgiving celebration?  If you make sweet potatoes or yams as well and have a unique recipe share it with us!  Never hurts to try something new.


4 Ways to keep your sanity on Black Friday

Thanksgiving is just days away.  As the doors close in on this family tradition I know that lurking just a day passed is one of my favorite days of the year… Black Friday!   I have loved Black Friday ever since my old school retail management days at a Toy shop.  True we had to be in by 4am and yes crazy parents already were lined up in the outdoor mall all for their kids burning passion for Tickle me Elmo’s and Lightsabers.  But the rush you feel as an employee or as a shopper is amazing!  There is this crazed burst of energy that gives anyone the incredible power to be like the Incredible Hulk and toss piles of heavy boxes aside all to see if there might be one Christmas Edition Thomas Engine left.

There is no amount enough of caffeine that can prepare us for this day.  Once that adrenaline burst crashes so do we. Leaving us irritable, tired and just downright angry at everyone and everything around us.  There are better ways to do this and enjoy the day without coming home to sleep the straight through or knocking over at the mall everyone and everything in your way.

Here’s 4 useful tips if you plan on surviving Black Friday:

1. Eat breakfast – Even if your breakfast is mini Thanksgiving round 2 something is better than nothing.  To ideally set your self up for success a big bowl of oatmeal with nuts/fruit, egg white omelet with spinach and feta over paired with a high fiber english muffin, or a cup of greek yogurt and multi-grain toast should set you up to survive.

2. Gear Up – Make sure you are well prepared for whatever elements you might encounter this day.  This means dress appropriately.  If you know you’re going to be standing outside or that you will be burning up trying to hurry through the stores put on good gym shoes, enough of the right layers so body temp doesn’t throw your mood for a curveball, and downsize that coach shoulder bag for a smaller crossover purse or pockets with just the bare essentials.

3. Strategize – Come up with your plan of attack BEFORE you leave the house.  Where are you going first?  What items are you targeting and which are the most important.  Also do some research before heading out.  There’s nothing worse than standing in a two-hour long line for a gift that turns out is the same sales price….everyday.

4. Pace yourself – Keep in mind Black Friday is just ONE day.  You’ll still have Cyber Monday or any of the other odd days to Christmas to hit up some good if not better deals.  Don’t burn yourself out or worse end up on TV like Frankie from the Middle in last week’s Thanksgiving show.

I realize these tips might not be new but applying them is the biggest catch of all.  The best perk of going through all that fuss is seeing joy on your family and friends faces at that totally awesome present you got them.  You can rest knowing that it was worth it and hell you even had a chance to burn off some of the calories from Thanksgiving.

Do you go out for Black Friday?  Any successful tips that you’d add to this list?  Let us know!

What Does Your Body Shape Say About You?

Written by Kimberly Hale

Four body shapes of females.

Four body shapes of females. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Body type can play a huge role in maintaining a healthy life and healthy weight.  Do you know if you are apple or pear shaped? How about Banana bodied or the envied Hourglass?   Knowing this information can give us a lot of insight into what types of nutrition and exercise our body needs to perform at its best and it also tells us how our bodies are “pre-programmed” to distribute fat.

Below will help you figure out your body type as well as the health risks.  I’ve also included overall nutrition and fitness recommendations to perform at your best. Because I’m queen of workout dvd’s I also included recommendations for anyone looking something new to try within their body type.  All are great for anyone though…

Apple Shaped:   Broad shoulders, small hips, and a thicker waist- athletic builds fall into this category too.  This shape has to be particularly careful due to how they store fat.  This puts them automatically at a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.

  • Nutrition Tips: Eating a well balanced diet is key.  Try and avoiding large amounts of carbs, saturated fat, and sugar.  These three items are huge contributors in fat storage and reducing consumption is advised.
  • Exercise Tips:  cardio and interval training will do the trick here.  Strengthening your core with planks is excellent too.  Just remember, fat cannot be spot treated, solely focusing on crunches or planks will give you rock solid abs hidden under a layer of stomach fat!  You have to remove that layer if you want to see results. (DVD Recommendation: Jillian Michaels 6 Week 6 pack or Killer Abs)

Pear Shaped – Those having a pear shape tend to store all their fat around the hips, butt, and thighs (Heelloooo Kim Kardashian!). 

  • Nutrition Tips:  This body type has an increased challenge with their metabolic rates.  An overall healthy diet is the key to success here as well as eating those foods that keep your metabolism going and strong.  Try eating smaller portions and more frequently throughout the day.  This will keep you full and your metabolism firing.
  • Exercise Tips:  Aside from a healthy exercise routine, lunges and kicks can be your best friend.  Focus on exercise to build muscle and reduce fat on your hips, thighs, and butt.  (DVD recommendations: Jeanette Jenkins kickboxing dvd, or Bob Harper’s Ultimate Cardio Body)

Banana Shaped – These bodies are long and lean with no distinct differences in waist, bust, or hip ratios.

  • Nutrition Tips:  Eating a high protein filled diet will help with building muscle definition that this body type is so often challenged with.
  • Exercise Tips:  Because this body type is so long and lean, one of the biggest challenges they face is building muscle tone. Working on toning, building muscles in the legs, arms, and back should help overall strengthen this figure.  (DVD recommendations: Pure Barre dvd’s,  Jackie Warner’s Power Circuit Training)

Hourglass Shaped
 –  big shoulders/bust, big hips, and a tiny waist.  (Think Marilyn Monroe)

  • Nutrition Tips:  Eating a well balanced diet is the best recommendation here.  Hourglass shapes can also follow recommendations for pear shaped as they both share in common larger hips compared to banana or apple shapes.
  • Exercise Tips:  further defining shoulders and legs would be a great suggestion here and paying attention to toning tummies/back muscles to further highlight that so coveted hourglass.   (DVD recommendations: Bob Harper’s Yoga Meltdown, The Firm’s Get Chisled.)

These are just a few suggestions/recommendations for the different body types.  Did you find your type?  Once you know your body type you can further customize how to approach nutrition and fitness so that you can maintain your best form.  I’ve tried to just give you a guideline and insight into how much of a customizable nutrition/fitness program you can make to target specifically what your body needs.  Afterall there is no “one size fits all”.  What shape are you?  What is or isn’t working for you?  Let us know!


3 Easy Ways to Exercise Everday

Window shopping at Simpsons department store. ...

Fitting in a solid exercise routine is not easy. For the greater majority of us the thought of waking up and going to the gym or class or going for a run seem less and less appealing as the week goes on.  Believe it or not there’s a reason for that too.  Most people start their week off physically and mentally strong but as the weight of the world, lack of sleep, and busy daily schedules add up day after day after day you soon see exercise is not the problem but everything else is!

American Heart Association, lists a minimum requirement for daily exercise as 150 minutes a week or roughly 30 minutes a day 5 days a week.  Other recommendations will tell you to aim for about 10,000 steps daily or just under 5 miles.

How much of that requirement do you meet on a daily basis?  No matter if you’ve got the insane drive it takes to stay on your daily program rain or shine or if you happen to fall off the weekly wagon, shit happens sometimes.  Simply put, that darn thing called life gets in the way leading to even the best intentions falling to the wayside.  We’ve all been there and may currently be there while reading this post thinking, “shit I knew I should have set my alarm earlier this morning.”  Which is why we have to account for that and we have to get creative in the way we approach being active so make the most of our time.

Here are 3 ways you can reap the benefits of the exercise when the practicality of a busy life takes over:

1. Do your chores: Have laundry to do?  How about vacuuming or sweeping the floor?  If you’ve let those chores slip what a great easy way to knock two birds off with one stone!  Gardening is another one of those tedious but necessary things to maintain.  Weed away to torch calories and work on your arm muscles! Through doing these easy weekly tasks you are exercising your body which counts.  (Extra Tip: Feeling extra ambitious?  Wash the floors that will get you feeling refreshed (or sweaty) and your house looking in tip-top shape.)

2. Go shopping: Holiday shopping can never start too soon. Go to your local mall and walk, even if it is just to browse. Bonus points if its nice out and the mall is outdoors! All those window shopping steps add up.

3. Park and walk: this one applies no matter where you are. If you are capable of walking make it a point wherever you go during the day to not park right up front. Park down the block or at the end of the parking lot and walk. Even better if its close enough ditch the car altogether! Less wasted gas + less pollution + health benefits from exercise = 1 pretty sweet deal. (That means cabs and public transit too… get out a block earlier or if feasible a stop early)

Hopefully these ideas will help you see there are lots of things you can do that can fall under the “exercise umbrella”.  Just keep in mind that a true exercise schedule is still king.  A solid exercise routine can be difficult with the amount of dedication, focus and determination that it requires to keep on a schedule no matter rain or shine. These ideas will help you patch the rough spots/days of the week where you just can’t get the motivation, energy or time to stick to your routine.

Ultimately, exercising makes you feel better.  It lifts your spirits, is great for your health and makes you say, “damn this shirt looks good on me.”  So do yourself a favor and carve away some time even if it’s through the three ways mentioned above.

How do you incorporate exercise when a busy life gets in the way?  Share your method with us so we can all learn and walk away with a pointer or two!

Written by Kimberly Hale