A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Prepare A Filling Healthy Meal Plan

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Meal Plan Image Design 1 - A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Prepare A Filling Healthy Meal PlanThere are many diets and food lifestyles out there. While many people look for a quick fix, there are now many people looking for a sustainable lifestyle that helps them lose weight and keep it off in the long term. They want more than just a way to get rid of the flab and want a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re on a diet.

Therefore many dieters and healthy eating plans focus on filling and healthy foods. If you followed one of the old Weight Watchers diets, you’ve likely heard of the “filling and healthy” plan. This was full of food that was designed to make you feel fuller quicker and keep you feeling full for longer. The food was also healthy, offering a range of nutrients rather than empty calories.

Whatever type of diet you follow, you want to create a filling and healthy meal plan. In fact, you can do this without following a specific type of diet. Focusing on foods that are good for you and will make you feel satisfied sooner and for longer will help you eat fewer calories and lose more weight.

But how do you create a filling and healthy meal plan? Just where do you start and what do you need? This is your step-by-step guide to prepare and create your filling and healthy meal plan. We’ll start from the very beginning.

What Is a Filling and Healthy Meal?

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Before we look at planning, let’s take a look at the idea of filling and healthy meals. What makes a meal both filling and healthy?

Think about your current meals. Do you find that after a few hours you feel hungry, or you don’t have much energy? This is likely because you’re eating the wrong mixture of nutrients—or you’re not getting any nutrients at all.

You could end up with too many carbs and not enough fiber or protein. Sure, carbs are important, but your meal shouldn’t be completely made up of them. You’ll need to make sure you get a good mixture of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. And you’ll want to get the right types of carbs; the ones with the fiber.

Proteins, fiber, and healthy fats break down slowly in the body. They help to avoid sugars metabolizing quickly, so the energy is released throughout the space of the day. You’ll feel more satisfied throughout the day because of this. This can mean you eat fewer calories throughout the day, although you will have to think about your portion sizes.

It is possible to lose weight without calorie counting. You focus more on the type of food you’re eating, naturally making you eat less.

Filling and healthy foods include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean meals
  • Olive and coconut oil
  • Whole grains
  • Whole wheat bread, pasta, and rice
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Now that you know more about the filling and healthy foods, it’s time to create your filling and healthy meal plan.

Step 1: Make Sure You Have a Book or Planner

Let’s start with something to create your meal plan. It can be in a notebook or a planner for the wall. You just need somewhere that you can look at to know what you will be making on the day or the meal that you’ll pull out of the freezer. We’ll move on the freezer element later!

There are meal planners available in most craft stores now. You can also get a white board that you put up in the kitchen. You simply mark out a table for the week with sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Make sure you have enough space to write in each section. Your snack section can be smaller than other sections.

You may want to have a wall planner just for dinners, as they may be the only meals that your family will eat together. The other meals can be planned separately in a book. It’s also possible to use different colored pens for individual people in the house. This can be a good way to manage certain types of meals, such as gluten-free or dairy free diets.

Some people have taken to bullet journaling for meal planning. They have a small notebook that they use for all types of planning and organizing.

Step 2: Plan Out All Meals and Snacks

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Some people will only plan out one meal a day. They forget about the other two meals. Those that plan out all three meals will often forget about the snacks. It’s important to plan out all your meals.

You will also want to plan out the timings of your meals. This is important to help keep your energy leveled throughout the day.

When your main meals are four hours apart, you’ll find you need fewer snacks and can cut down to just one. Alternatively, you can opt for smaller meals spaced out three hours throughout the day. You get a constant stream of energy that breaks down and is used up slowly throughout the day.

Any more than four hours between meals and you will start feeling hungry. This is because your body will use up the energy that you’ve provided it. If you eat the wrong types of foods, you’ll feel hungrier at earlier points in the day. Feeling hungry can make your body going into a panic mode. While it seems silly, your body doesn’t exactly know when you’re going to get your next meal. It starts making you crave the instant rushes of energy to sustain it.

You want to focus on the smaller meals throughout the day, rather than two big meals and a couple of snacks. This helps you stick to your filling and healthy meal plan.

Step 3: Have a List of Low GI Foods

Remember when I said you needed to focus on the right carbs? Well, you want to focus more on the low GI carbs. These are those that don’t release as many sugars directly into the bloodstream. They don’t cause a large insulin response and are healthier for you, especially if you have diabetes.

That doesn’t mean all high GI foods are off limits. Surprisingly some fruits are considered high GI foods. You just must be aware that these foods aren’t as good for your health or your hunger levels. They can metabolize quicker than other foods, leaving you feeling hungry throughout the day.

Make a list of all the low GI foods that you can eat. This will help you decide whether a recipe is good for your filling and healthy diet. Consult the list for any new recipe that you find, especially if it claims to be filling and healthy. One or two ingredients on the recipe list can be high GI, but you want most them to be low.

Step 4: Spend Time Looking for Recipe Ideas

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While you will have some staples for your meal plan, you’ll want to add some new recipes to your weekly plan. This helps to avoid getting bored. You’ll find it much easier to stick to this healthy lifestyle.

Spend time each week looking for some new recipes to try. Don’t just pick up cookbooks. You can check out blogs, websites, and even Pinterest for some ideas. Speaking of Pinterest, set up a board for all your recipes. Quickly repin all the ones that look interesting to you and then you have them for easier grabbing.

You don’t need to add a new recipe to every single day of the week. Opt for a new and fun recipe once or twice. Get the kids involved in this process and find out what they would like. You can offer a couple of choices to choose from, so they feel like they have total control, but you’ve still made sure the meals are filling and healthy.

Plan strategic places for putting them into your meal plan. Think about the days that you have more time to cook and those when you’re not going to resent spending time at the stove. This means it will be less likely that you will switch the plan and opt for something that isn’t filling and healthy.

Don’t forget to plan in some desserts. These will become part of your meals. Dessert with your evening meal is the most common.

Step 5: Make Sure You Have Some Family Friendly Staples

You won’t want to spend all your time cooking something new. There will be times that you just want to grab ingredients and create a meal. Therefore you’ll need some staple meals that your whole family will love. These could also be meals that your guests are guaranteed to love, instead of risking trying something new.

Set up a recipe folder or a Pinterest board full of the family-friendly recipes. This will make it easier to pull them out when you want to make them.

You may not have the recipes. After a while, the staples will be ones that you make off the top of your head.

Step 6: Don’t Be Afraid to Bulk Cook

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I mentioned that you could grab some meals from the freezer. I wasn’t talking about processed meals that you can get from the grocery store. This comment was about bulk cooking one day of the week.

This can be an excellent way to stick to your filling and healthy meal plan during a busy week. Opt for a day off work when you make a range of meals throughout the week. You can have Bolognese sauces, marinades, and soups. You can even pre-prepare some of your vegetables and salads to make it easier to grab and go.

You don’t have to prepare every single element of your meal. Simply have the elements that usually take the longest to make, so you can reheat while your pasta or meat is cooking. You’ll find it is much easier to grab a meal after a long day at work. You won’t think about the takeaways that just aren’t filling and healthy.

Step 7: Try Out Themed Nights

“Meatless Monday” is a popular hashtag on Twitter. You could opt for Soup Saturday or Pizza Friday. There are all sorts of themes that you can have.

Yes, they will help with creating the meal plan for your filling and healthy lifestyle. Each day of the week has a designated theme. This is your theme throughout a month or a few months; then you can always change them up if you want to try something else.

Each meal of the day will work with your designated theme. You will find that coming up with ideas is much easier. You just must search for recipes that work with the theme or adapt your favorite meals to work with the theme.

All you have to do is make sure that the recipes are still filling and healthy.

Step 8: Create a Shopping List of Necessary Foods

Once you’ve created your weekly meal plan, create a list of foods that you will need to buy. Some meals will use the same ingredients, so you’ll need to make sure you stock up on plenty for your needs.

Don’t worry if you do run out. You can always go to the shop on the way home. However, having everything ready will help to limit the frustration of running out of a particular ingredient.

When you are out of a staple ingredient, make sure you put it on the shopping list. This will avoid forgetting about it when it comes to creating your next shopping list.

Step 9: Don’t Be Afraid to Be Relaxed

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It will be tempting to stick with your filling and healthy meal plan strictly. This isn’t necessary. Your meal plan needs to be fun. Eating with your friends and family should be enjoyable, as well as healthy and good for your energy levels.

It’s important to create a meal plan that is relaxed and works for you. If you decide you want to switch the meals for Friday and Saturday around, don’t be afraid to do it. If your kids decide that they want Wednesday’s planned dinner for Monday, go with the flow. A simple swap is not going to affect your diet or your meal plan!

However, you only really want to do swaps. If you are going to opt for alternatives, make sure they are still filling and healthy recipes. You don’t want to swap out the Friday filling and healthy fish dish for a takeaway pizza!

Are You Ready for a Filling and Healthy Meal Plan?

It’s time to stock up on filling and healthy ingredients. Look out for foods that work great for recipes but also for good snacks throughout the day.

A filling and healthy meal plan will be fun to create. There is lots of inspiration on the likes of Pinterest or in cookbooks. Just make sure you have your calendar or planner and create a meal plan that works for everyone in the house. You’ll soon have a list of staples and wonder what the panic or confusion was all about.

Pumpkin Health Benefits (And Ways to Prepare It)

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Every year, my co-worker would enter the local pumpkin-growing contest. They would load up their pumpkin into a trailer and drive to the zoo to have it weighed. The first year I went to witness this, my co-worker won. Some of those pumpkins weighed over 500 pounds! I had never seen pumpkins that size before. My favorite part of the event, however, was feeding the pumpkins to the elephants at the zoo. Watching them play and smash the pumpkins to get a tasty treat is one of my favorite holiday memories.

With pumpkin growing contests, pumpkin carvings, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin spice everything, it’s no wonder pumpkin is so popular. Not only is it festive and fun, but it’s also seasonal and yummy! While you might feel tempted to only buy seasonal pumpkin treats, like Starbucks’ infamous PSL, pumpkin by itself is a healthier option. Pumpkin is not only rich in vital antioxidants and vitamins, but has few calories, lots of Vitamin A, lutein, xanthin, and carotenes! Some even consider pumpkin a super food.

So, what other health benefits can you get from a pumpkin?

Let’s explore.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

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1. Keeps your vision healthy. A single cup of pumpkin contains about 197% of your daily vitamin An intake. Vitamin A plays an important role in keeping your vision healthy by protecting the surface of your eye. Vitamin A can also help decrease your risk of macular degeneration keeps your skin healthy and promotes bone health.

2. Helps you sleep. Pumpkin contains an amino acid called tryptophan. This is the same amino acid found in Turkey so it will help induce sleepiness.

3. May lower blood pressure. One study found that individuals on a high-fiber diet experienced a drop in blood pressure and pulse pressure. So in addition to helping your cholesterol levels (see next!), the pumpkin will also help keep your blood pressure levels in check.

4. Keeps your heart healthy. All the fiber that is found in pumpkin can also help keep your heart healthy. Fiber can reduce both “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and overall cholesterol. Scientists believe this is because it binds with cholesterol particles and then removes them from the body through the digestive system before it’s absorbed.

5. The pumpkin keeps you full. Including pumpkin in your diet may help you lose weight. Pumpkin contains fiber which also helps promote fullness and staves off hunger.

6. Mood booster. Pumpkin contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps the body produces Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for influencing things like mood, sleep, and even memory. Also known as the “feel good” chemical, when you have more serotonin, it’s likely that your mood will improve!

7. Antioxidants in abundance. Remember how much Vitamin A pumpkin has? It’s a powerful antioxidant that some research says it helps fend off cancer. Beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A, helps protect our cells and boosts immune system function.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

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1. Fiber. Pumpkin seeds contain around 1.7g of fiber per serving! As we’ve discussed before, fiber will help you feel fuller longer and has to heart healthy benefits.

2. Magnesium. Pumpkin seeds contain half of your recommended daily amount of magnesium. Magnesium helps promote healthy heart function, bone health, and bowel function.

3. Prostate health. Pumpkin seeds contain nutrients that help promote prostate health. Containing high levels of zinc and natural pumpkin seed oils may help block unhealthy prostate growth and maintain healthy testosterone levels.

4. Promotes better sleep. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in tryptophan which will help you get a good night’s rest.

Now that we know some health benefits of pumpkins and pumpkin seeds, let’s chat about the different kinds of pumpkin you can buy, and how to prepare them.

Fresh, Canned, or Pie Filling?

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When you go out to buy a pumpkin, it can be a little overwhelming to see all the different kinds! You might wonder – is it better to use fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin?

And when you wander over to the canned aisle, you have a couple of different canned pumpkin options staring back at you…purée pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling.

You also notice fresh pumpkin when you browse the produce aisle. So which one do you buy? Don’t worry, I’ve done the research for you, and this should make it easy!

Canned Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is simply just pumpkin that has been cooked and puréed. It doesn’t contain any additional spices and is typically used for making dishes like soup or even pasta.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

This version of canned pumpkin is what it says – pumpkin pie filling. It’s cooked and puréed pumpkin that has spices varying from cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice or ginger and is sweetened. It’s an efficient, time-saving way to make baked goods like pumpkin pie or pumpkin cookies!

Fresh Pumpkin

The large pumpkins you buy for jack-o-lantern carving are not the pumpkins you’ll buy for pies, soups, muffins, or bread! In this instance, smaller is better.

How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin

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1. My first tip, and most important, is to choose smaller pumpkins! The large ones that we typically use for carving are not the ones that work best in recipes. You can, however, keep their seeds (more on this later)! For the smaller pumpkins, there are many flavorful varieties to pick from.

2. Decide how you’re going to prepare your pumpkin – will you use the baking method, boiling method, or microwave method? This article from AllRecipes.com has excellent instructions on all three (as well as Ausmed)

a. Baking Method

i. Cut the pumpkin in half, discard the stem, and remove seeds and pulp. This is an important first step – if you don’t do this, the bottom of your pumpkin could burn, and it may fall apart.

ii. In a baking dish, place the two halves face down, cover with foil.

iii. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender.

iv. Once the pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and purée.

b. Boiling Method

i. Cut the pumpkin in half, discard the stem, and remove seeds and pulp.

ii. Peel the pumpkin – I’ve read that microwaving the pumpkin for a few minutes can make the skin easier to peel.

iii. Place in a saucepan, cover with water.

iv. Bring to a boil, cook until pumpkin is tender.

v. Once the chunks have cooled, purée in a food processor or mash with a potato masher.

c. Microwave Method

i. Cut the pumpkin in half, discard stringy insides and seeds

ii. Microwave on high for seven minutes per pound.

iii. Turn pieces every few minutes so that it cooks evenly.

iv. Purée or mash

How to Prepare Pumpkin Seeds

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Pumpkin seeds are not only a great source of magnesium; they also contain around 1.7g of fiber per serving. I’m going to share with you a basic way to prepare fresh pumpkin seeds.

1. Preheat Oven. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Wash the seeds. Separate the pumpkin seeds from the pulp, and rinse them in a colander under cold water. Once they’re clean, shake dry. If you blot them with a paper towel to dry, the seeds will stick.

3. Dry the seeds. Take an oiled baking sheet and spread your pumpkin seeds out in a single layer. Place into the oven and roast for 30 minutes to remove moisture.

4. Spice it up. Take the pumpkin seeds out of the oven. Toss them with some olive oil, salt, and whatever spices you like. I like to toss them in some cinnamon and some brown sugar. Feel free to try out different combinations depending on what you’d like.

Easy Ways to Incorporate Pumpkin into your Diet

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There are multiple ways to incorporate pumpkin into your diet. My favorite is preparing pumpkin soup, or simply roasting diced pumpkin with other seasonal vegetables like Brussel sprouts and carrots. Try adding some pumpkin into a smoothie or making a breakfast parfait with puréed pumpkin, granola, and cinnamon.

Pumpkin is an amazing way to get important nutrients into your diet. Roasting pumpkin seeds makes for a delicious and easy on-the-go snack with multiple spice combinations making it a kid-friendly option, too.

While pumpkin may not seem like an immediate choice of seasonal vegetable to include in your diet, I hope this article has inspired you to give it a try.

When you’re out looking at pre-made pumpkin pies or delicious pumpkin treats this holiday season, why not try branching out and creating something from scratch.

Using seasonal fruits and vegetables in your cooking is not only a great way to increase variety in your diet, but It may help save some money, too. Since pumpkin is not a very common dish, use it to surprise and delight your dinner guests at your next event!

With the various health benefits of pumpkin and its’ seeds, as well as the multiple ways you can prepare it, why not try? You may notice an improved mood and some weight loss!

About the Author

This article was contributed by Samantha Thayer. She is the online outreach and education specialist over at What’s Up, USANA?. Follow her on Twitter @USANA_Samantha!

6 Easy Hacks to Help Prepare Healthy Meals In a Rush

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Healthy Meals Image Design 1 1024x562 - 6 Easy Hacks to Help Prepare Healthy Meals In a RushIn one of my cookbooks, written by an acclaimed Chinese chef, he writes about his confusion about how Western children can be fussy when it comes to eating vegetables. All his mother had to do, he explains, was to sprinkle sesame seeds over them, and he and his sister would clean their plates every time.

The basic characteristics of a good diet are that it contains no more calories than you need, offers those calories in a healthy way, is high in necessary nutrients (fiber, protein, unsaturated fats, and much more) and finally, tastes good enough to eat every day. It’s no use eating breakfast and lunch that’s good for you but bores you to tears, then ordering a pizza for dinner each night. That having been said, many dietitians recommend that you eat whatever you want one or two days a week – it will help keep life interesting, and the effect on your body is really not that bad, as long as you watch what you eat the rest of the time.

Cooking healthily is like repairing a diesel engine or steering a sailboat, impossible until you understand the principles and know how to apply the techniques. With this knowledge and a little practice, you will be on your way in no time.


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Half of learning how to cook is really learning how to taste. Sample everything you make, and learn to adjust the balance of salt, sweet, and sour until the result is to your liking. Following a recipe is a good start, but differences in regional ingredients and individual tastes mean that the best final product will always be the one tweaked to your preference.

Too much sodium (meaning salt) is not very good for you. One way to use less of it is to buy kosher salt, which tastes saltier than the table variety. Another way is to make food interesting by imparting big, bold flavors that don’t need salt to shine through. Mastering this skill will allow you to prepare quick, simple vegetable dishes instead of wasting time on complicated courses that rely on cheese, meat or fat for their flavor.

The easiest way to start doing this is to experiment with lemon juice. Regardless of whether you’re grilling a steak, sautéing a chicken breast or stir-frying vegetables, just a few drops of lemon juice brings out the flavor while using no more than a few pinches of salt.

Understanding what seasonings are available and how they work will also allow you to prepare tasty vegetable dishes that both save time in the kitchen and augment the quality of your nutrition. Eating more vegetables, and a greater variety of them will never be unhealthy. Try the following simple recipe to see what herbs and spices can do for you:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large zucchini, 2 tomatoes, 1 large red onion, one yellow pepper, all cut into largish chunks
  • half a teaspoon each of salt, black pepper, cardamom seeds, chili powder, dry ginger and ground cumin

Cleaning and slicing the vegetables should take the average cook no more than two to three minutes. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan, fry the spices for a few seconds to release their flavor, and just dump in the vegetables. Keep frying on high heat, occasionally stirring, until the zucchini slices are cooked but still firm. If you had been cooking a chicken breast or piece of fish in another pan while doing this, and perhaps had some new potatoes getting ready in the microwave, you would have taken less than a quarter of an hour to prepare a full, balanced, hearty meal.

Serious Salads

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Salads are some of the simplest dishes to prepare and can either form a meal on their own or complement a more robust main course. Most of the work involves cutting the ingredients; if you buy them already sliced, it’s mainly a question of tossing everything together.

Vegetables such as celery, spinach, carrots, and lettuce contain almost no calories but are extremely high in valuable nutrients. If you want to eat the salad as a full meal, you can add some protein in the form of cheese, chicken or tuna fish. There’s no rule stating that all salads have to be based on leaves of some sort: try using cooked lentils as a base, or simply leave out the lettuce. Some mixed steamed or quickly boiled vegetables can be a wonderful salad, whether served warm or cold.

Textures, and mixing them, is an important part of cooking and doubly so when trying to make the perfect salad. Adding a few chewy nuts or crunchy croutons can make all the difference. If you find that your salads always turn out bland, there are some hacks to work around the problem. The first thing to try is to add one or two ingredients to serve as a highlight for the others, such as crumbling in a small amount of bacon or adding a protein like smoked turkey breast. Often, however, an uninteresting salad is the result of being too timid with the dressing.

Firstly, the dressing can magnify the impact of the different flavors, or just leave them dull and disappointing. Any salad dressing that you buy in a bottle, no matter how fancy the name sounds, is likely to contain a great deal of sugar, salt, and saturated fat, so it’s better to avoid these. Learning how to make a few delicious dressings will improve your salads a hundredfold.

The first trick is simply to use enough dressing! An overdressed salad is an astringent monstrosity, but one with hardly any sauce at all is just a collection of raw vegetables. The second important point is to invest in a shaker, or at least a glass jar with a lid that seals tightly. Shaking your dressing (as opposed to stirring it with a spoon) breaks up the oil into tiny droplets that can mix with the other ingredients, called homogenization, while other ways of mixing leave them separate.

Basic Vinaigrette: 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, ½ tsp salt, some pepper, 1/3 cup olive oil and 2 tsp good quality mustard. Feel free to add some dried or chopped herbs of your choice.

Ranch Dressing: 1 cup Greek yogurt, ½ cup buttermilk, 1 tbsp dried parsley, 1 tbsp dried thyme, 1 clove garlic and 1 tiny onion chopped as finely as you can, 2 tsp mustard, 1 tsp salt, black pepper to taste and the juice of half a lemon.

Honey Mustard Dressing: 2 tsp honey, the same amount of Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice, ½ cup vegetable oil, a pinch of salt and 2 tsp dried thyme.

Oriental-Style Dressing: 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp sesame seed oil, ¼ cup vinegar, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp dry ginger, 2 tbsp soy sauce, and 1 tbsp honey.

There are many other types of dressing you can try, but having a repertoire of three or four will enable you to vary flavors from day to day. All of them are as simple as dumping a few ingredients into the shaker and shaking them together, and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Learn How to Present Food

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Our first impression of a plate of food is almost always visual. If it looks pretty, we will convince ourselves that it tastes better than it really does, and if it looks like boiled sludge…well, you get the idea.

Take a moment to imagine some green beans cooked in water until their color has just turned a deep and vibrant shade, leaving them tender but still crispy, served with chunks of feta cheese. Served this way, it’s a nice side dish. However, if you mix in a few strips of red bell pepper and toss with just a little-melted butter to make the surface glossy, you have something you would happily pay for in a restaurant.

Arranging food on a plate or serving dish in the most attractive way requires some artistic talent, but making any effort whatsoever will reap benefits. Here are a few tips on getting started:

Combine Different Colors

Aim for some height. You could, for instance, arrange stir-fried vegetables into a little dome, and then let that be the support for a pork chop pointing up at a 45° angle. This is not only more visually appealing than everything lying flat side by side but makes the portion seem larger.

Use garnishes. You don’t need to go overboard and spend ten minutes arranging each plate, but dropping a lemon wedge next to a piece of fish and a sprig of parsley over it takes no time at all while enhancing the dining experience significantly.

Decorate the table. There’s a Swedish proverb along the lines of “flowers go onto the table before food” which bears some thinking about. If the environment in which we eat were not important, half the restaurants in the world would go out of business tomorrow.

Broaden Your Ingredient Horizons

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You may just not like kale or be able to spell quinoa, but part of healthy eating is to adopt the habit of variety in your food. Carrots and spinach are both healthy, but if those are the only vegetables you eat because you’ve never learned to cook anything else, you won’t be ingesting the full range of nutrition your body requires.

Beans, especially dark beans, are a wonderful source of fiber, plant protein and some important nutrients. They also cost next to nothing, especially in dried form. It really is a pity that many people don’t like them just because they’ve never tasted them cooked properly. This is in no way difficult and requires little work – you don’t have to stand there watching them while they soak or simmer, after all.

Animal fat isn’t all that good for you, but of course, the fattier cuts of red meat are the easiest to cook with. Learn a few tricks to prepare leaner cuts more quickly without sacrificing taste, figure out a few time-saving dishes with skinless chicken, and definitely learn how to prepare fish.

Most importantly, learn how to use vegetables. This food group is perhaps the key to healthy eating, and how to prepare them quickly and correctly remains a total mystery to many people. Some, like spinach and beet leaves, don’t need to be cooked at all, while others, like cauliflower and artichokes, require special attention and aren’t the best options for when you’re rushed.

Learn Substitutions

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Plenty of less healthy ingredients you’ll see listed in recipes can be replaced by something that’s better for you.

Lard, Margarine and commercial mayonnaise are things you should really never eat. Use vegetable oil, butter, and sour cream instead. If a recipe calls for fresh cream in a sauce, try using milk and flour to thicken it instead: 4 teaspoons of flour dissolved in each cup of milk. Heat it on the stove, frequently stirring, until it thickens.

Many deep-fried foods have a near equivalent that can be done in the oven with half the calories, for example, potato wedges in place of french fries or baked breaded chicken that doesn’t need to be drowned in oil.

There are few recipes that call for white flour that can’t be made with wholewheat instead, which is no more effort but much, much healthier.


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Soups and stews can be both healthy and delectable, and making a gallon is not really more work than making a cupful. So, when you do have time to cook, make a large amount and freeze what you don’t use right away in portion packets. You’ll be very glad you did the next time you come home late, and you can always vary the impact by throwing together a side salad or quickly grilling some veggies.

For most of us, learning how to cook will be a lifelong journey. If we accept the additional requirements of serving the healthiest food we can, on a budget and without having to spend an hour in the kitchen each weeknight, the learning curve becomes even more difficult, but the rewards even greater. Every new trick we learn extends our grasp and makes our next kitchen adventure easier and more interesting.

15 Delicious Mediterranean Dessert You Can Prepare at Home

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Mediterranean Dessert Image Design 1 - 15 Delicious Mediterranean Dessert You Can Prepare at HomeMany of us want to get a taste of the Med in our own homes. Mediterranean main meals and canapés are relatively easy to make and find. However, what about when it comes to desserts? You want to continue that style and taste.

The great news is you can get a range of ideas. Some of the countries these desserts come from you wouldn’t even consider being Mediterranean. We get stuck with the idea of Italy and Greece, but what about the south of France? There’s Spain, Portugal, and so much more.

It’s time to bring the different delicacies in one place. Here are 15 Mediterranean desserts hat are extremely delicious. You can make them all from the comfort of your own home. All that will be missing is the actual backdrop of the beautiful countries.

Almond Pistachio Baklava

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Let’s start with a Greek recipe since this is one of the countries that we commonly think about when it comes to the Med. This is an extremely easy recipe to make, and you may have a lot of the ingredients already in your cupboards.


  • 3-4 cups of sugar, divided
  • 2 cups of water
  • ¾ cup of honey
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 cups of pistachios (unsalted, preferably)
  • 3 cups of almonds (unblanched)
  • 1 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 ¾ cups of butter, melted
  • 3 packs of filo pastry, thawed if frozen


  • Add the water, 2-3 cups of sugar, honey, and lemon to a saucepan and bring to the boil, before reducing the heat and simmering for 5 minutes
  • Put the liquid to one side and allow to cool
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Place the nuts in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped, and then place in a bowl
  • Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and rest of the sugar into the nuts and combine fully, before putting to one side
  • Brush a baking pan with some butter and then unroll the filo pastry
  • Chop into a rectangle, slightly smaller than the pan, repeating to use up as much of the pastry as possible
  • Line two sheets of pastry along the bottom, allowing them to overlap, and brush with some butter
  • Repeat with the pastry 14 times and then sprinkle with about a third of the nuts
  • Repeat with another 14 layers and sprinkle another third, until the nuts have finished
  • Cut into diamond shapes and bake for 35-40 minutes until brown
  • Allow cooling on a wire rack
  • Pour the sugar liquid over the top and stand overnight, covered

It’s a delicious recipe, although not necessarily the healthiest. It’s just something for a little fun and works perfectly when you have guests over, and you’re not sure how much they will eat!

Nested Berries

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This is another Greek recipe that is a lot healthier than the one above. You’ll need filo pastry again for the creation of the nests.


  • 4 cups of strawberries, halved
  • 1 cup of blackberries
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 3tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2tsp black pepper
  • For the filo nests
  • 8 filo pastry sheets
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
  • Cooking spray


  • Mix the berries together in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar, tossing to coat
  • Allow the berries to stand for 20 minutes and then pour the vinegar over and sprinkle with pepper, tossing gently to coat again
  • Put the berries in the fridge for at least 2 hours
  • Coat a muffin tray with cooking spray and put to one side
  • Preheat the oven to 375F
  • Unroll the filo pastry and remove a sheet, cutting in half one way and thirds another way
  • Stack three of the sections and place in a muffin cup, and then spray with cooking spray
  • Place the other three in another cup; the stacks will make a star shape over the cups
  • Combine the sugar and cinnamon together and then sprinkle a quarter of a tsp of the dough
  • Repeat the filo steps with the rest of the sheets
  • Bake until golden brown and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  • Carefully remove and place on a wire rack

To serve, place a nest on a plate or in a bowl and top with three-quarters of a cup of the berries and drizzle with a little of the berry juice. This is best served immediately.


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A Tiramisu is a traditional Italian dessert and one of the most popular around the world. It’s a deliciously creamy, coffee mixture that is soft and melts in the mouth. Don’t just have it when you go out to dinner. Try it in your own home.


  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ¾ cup of whole milk
  • 4 containers of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 ½ cups of strong coffee, such as espresso
  • ½ cup of brandy (or similar)
  • 30-32 Italian ladyfingers
  • ¼ cup of cocoa powder
  • Bittersweet chocolate


  • Line a baking dish with plastic wrap, allowing 3 inches to overhang on all sides
  • Fill the plastic wrap with ice water
  • In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together and place over a saucepan of simmering water, until the sugar dissolves
  • Whisk in the milk slowly and cook, whisking continuously to create a light custard
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and place in the ice water, whisking until cool
  • Place the mascarpone in a separate large bowl and fold in the custard until just combined, and then whisk until smooth
  • In another bowl, combine the coffee and brandy and then dip the ladyfingers in one at a time until soaked but not too soggy
  • Place the biscuits into the baking dish (water discarded but plastic wrap still there) arranging across the bottom
  • Spread a third of the custard over the top and then repeat with another layer of ladyfingers, in the opposite direction
  • Top with a third of the custard and repeat with the ladyfingers in the same direction as the bottom layer; repeating this until your ladyfingers and mixture are finished
  • Finish with the custard and dust with the cocoa powder
  • Wrap up with the plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 4+ hours

Serve with some chocolate shavings over the top. This is the perfect way to top off your Italian-inspired evening!

White Chocolate Cups with Dark Chocolate and Mascarpone

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This is another traditional Italian recipe that isn’t as popular as tiramisu. If you’re looking for something different, this is certainly one that you want to try. It’s perfectly easy for the home, and the kids will love to get involved in the cooking.


  • 8oz of white chocolate, chopped
  • 4oz of dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • 3tbsp sugar
  • 8oz of mascarpone cheese
  • 1tsp orange peel, grated
  • 1/4tsp vanilla extract
  • Extra white chocolate for garnishing


  • Place paper liners in 8 muffin cups
  • Melt your white chocolate (over the stove or in the microwave) until smooth
  • Place a tbsp. of melted chocolate into each paper liner and coat along the bottom evenly
  • Place in the freezer for 30 minutes
  • Remelt the chocolate in the bowl and repeat in the paper liners, this time brushing the chocolate up the sides of the liners
  • Freeze for an hour
  • Melt the dark chocolate (over the stove or in the microwave) until smooth and place to one side to cool
  • Whisk the cream and sugar together in a large bowl, until soft peaks form and then set to one side
  • Beat the mascarpone in a bowl with the melted dark chocolate, vanilla extract, and orange peel until smooth
  • Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone in two batches and then place in a pastry bag with star tip
  • Pipe the mousse into the which chocolate cups and sprinkle some white chocolate over the top

This is best served immediately. If you’re going to wait, make sure you keep the dessert covered and place in the fridge. Allow standing for an hour at room temperature before serving for the best results.


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We’re a third way through the list and have another delicious Italian dessert that you may never have heard of. This is a nutty dessert that can be created and served later.


  • 1 and ¾ cups of almonds, blanched and sliced
  • 3tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 orange, zest finely grated
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • 2tbsp heavy cream
  • 2tbsp corn syrup
  • 5tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4oz of dark chocolate, chopped (optional for serving)


  • Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking tray with parchment paper
  • Place the almonds in a blender and pulse until they are finely chopped
  • Stir the nuts, salt, flour, and zest together in a bowl
  • In a saucepan, place the sugar, corn syrup, cream, and butter together over medium heat, cooking slowly and stirring now and then; the sugar will dissolve
  • Boil for a minute and then remove from the heat, stirring in the vanilla extract
  • Pour the cream into the almond mixture and stir until it all starts to combine, and then place to one side for 30 minutes
  • Once you can handle the creamy batter, make balls out of them and place on the baking sheet, allowing 3-4in of space between as they spread out while cooking; don’t worry if you don’t have space for all the mixture, as you can bake in batches
  • Bake until the cookies are thin and even, rotating the pan halfway through the 10-11-minute cooking time
  • Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack, while you bake the rest of your batter
  • If you’re using the chocolate, melt it; you can do this either in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water
  • Place the chocolate on the flat side of one cookie and then sandwich together with a second cookie, returning to the rack to let the chocolate set (you can also place in the fridge for a few minutes
  • If you don’t want to sandwich, place the cookies on a plate and drizzle the chocolate over the top

You can store the cookies in an airtight container for up to three days after making them. Make sure you store them away from any moist cakes, as the cookies taste better when they have a crunch to them.

Homemade Rice Pudding

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As I said, Greece and Italy are the first places you’ll think about when it comes to a taste of the Med. But what about the Spanish? The country sits on the sea and is full of warmth and local delicacies that you can make at home. This first is a rice pudding with a Spanish twist and is one of the healthiest desserts on the menu.


  • 1 cup of white rice, long grain like Basmati
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 can have condensed milk
  • 1 can have evaporated milk
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • Ground cinnamon for serving


  • Place the water, cinnamon sticks, and rice together in a heavy saucepan and place over a medium heat
  • Allow the mixture to boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes, until the rice completely cooks
  • Strain out the liquid and remove the cinnamon sticks, before returning the rice to the saucepan
  • In a separate saucepan, pour in the three kinds of milk and bring the liquid to a boil
  • Pour the milk into the rice and cook for another 15-18 minutes, constantly stirring to create a thick mixture
  • Add in the raisins and stir to combine

Serve with a dusting of cinnamon.

You can also cook this in the slow cooker. Put all the ingredients in, except for the raisins and cook for 3 hours on a high heat (double the time for a low heat). Add the raisins in at the very end and then serve.

The rice will keep absorbing liquid, even after it is cooked, so don’t worry about getting rid of all the milk.

Spanish Apple Pie

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Another delicious Spanish dessert is this take on the traditional apple pie. Who doesn’t love pie for dessert? You’ll make your crust with this recipe, and the kids will beg to join in.

Ingredients for the Crust:

  • 60g of butter
  • 125g of caster sugar
  • 25g of almonds, ground
  • 4g of baking powder
  • 125g all-purpose flour
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 2tbsp dark rum

Ingredients for the Apple Middle:

  • 500g red apples, preferably Cox, peeled and cubed
  • 50g of caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod

Ingredients for the Pastry Cream:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 35g of corn flour
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 500ml of whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod


Start with the crust:

  • Mix the sugar and butter in a bowl until pale and smooth
  • In a separate bowl, mix the almonds with the flour and baking powder until combined and then add the buttered cream slowly
  • Beat the mixture until it’s course
  • Remove the seeds from the pod and add to the bowl, with the rum and yolk
  • Mix just to combine everything and then wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 12 hours

Move onto the apple filling:

  • Place the apples into a pan and just cover with some water
  • Stir in the vanilla pod and sugar and allow the water to simmer, until the fruit becomes tender; it should take 5-7 minutes
  • Remove the apples and put to one side and continue to cook the liquid until it is like a syrup (for the pastry crust)

Now create the cream:

  • Mix the yolks together with the sugar and cornflour in a bowl
  • Place the milk and vanilla pod in a pan and bring to the boil
  • Gradually add the egg mixture in and cook while stirring continuously for 5 minutes, until the custard thickens
  • Remove from the heat and place to one side, leaving the vanilla pod in until you’re ready to serve

Finish off the pie:

  • Preheat the oven to 325F
  • Place the apples along the bottom of a pie dish and then pour the custard over the top
  • Roll out your pastry and place over the top of the custard
  • Create holes on the top of the pastry to allow the heat to release
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and then remove from the oven
  • Brush the sugar syrup over the top (the liquid from the apples) and stand for 5 minutes

This is delicious when served with a bit of vanilla cream on the side or some vanilla custard over the top. Because the pastry only tops the pie, this is a relative weight loss friendly dessert.

Easy French Crepes

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It’s time to take a trip north to France. This is a country commonly overlooked as a Mediterranean country since some of the countries is around the North Sea. However, the southern parts are on the Med, and there are some delicious desserts to try.


  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of whole milk
  • 1tbsp butter
  • Fresh fruit and icing sugar for serving


  • Mix the flour, salt, and sugar together with a whisk in a bowl
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating to combine
  • Add in the milk and beat to combine
  • Allow the batter to stand for 15-20 minutes at room temperature
  • Over medium heat, place a small skillet and add some butter to melt
  • Drop the batter into the pan, swirling to coat evenly
  • Cook for 2 minutes and then flip the mixture and cook for another minute
  • Repeat with the rest of the batter
  • Serve with the fresh fruit and sugar over the top

It’s almost like a pancake, and cooking the crepes is certainly very similar. You’ll know the crepes are ready for flipping, as some bubbles will start to appear over the top. Start by flipping with a spatula, but you can move onto freehand as you gain in confidence.

Chocolate and Banana Crepes

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It’s time to take the recipe above and add a little more flavor to it. These banana chocolate crepes are fun for the whole family and are among the healthiest of all recipes on this list. They aren’t just desserts but make perfect snacks throughout the day.

You can melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water. If you have access to a microwave, melting it in there for 30-50 seconds is quicker and easier.


  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup of butter, melted
  • 2 bananas, chopped
  • ½ cup of chocolate, melted


  • Combine the milk, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, butter, and eggs together in a blender, pulsing until smooth and foamy
  • Allow the batter to sit for 15 minutes; you can also place it in the fridge overnight
  • Place a skillet over medium heat, coating lightly with oil or better
  • Add some of the batters to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes, until bubbles start to form
  • Flip it over and cook for another minute
  • Repeat with the rest of the batter and place all the crepes on a plate
  • Fold the crepes into quarters and top with the banana slices
  • Drizzle with the melted chocolate and serve

You can mash the bananas and add them to the batter mixture if you’d like. This will create a thicker mixture, so the crepes look a little more like pancakes instead.

Homemade Crepe Cake

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It’s time to take the crepes and make a cake instead. This is another delicious French recipe that you’ll be able to enjoy with the family or with friends.


  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 5tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 cups of chocolate pudding
  • 1tsp icing sugar


  • Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and combine
  • Add the eggs and whisk until combined
  • Pour in the milk slowly and whisk fully
  • Add in the butter and mix until the batter is smooth
  • Put to one side and allow to rest for 20 minutes
  • Over medium heat, place a skillet with a bit of oil or butter to avoid sticking
  • Add some batter to cover the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds, flipping and cooking the other side for another 15 seconds
  • Transfer the crepe to a plate and cover with some wax paper, and then repeat with the rest of the batter; make 24 crepes
  • Place a crepe on a serving plate and add two tbsp. of chocolate pudding, spreading it across the crepe
  • Top with another crepe and repeat with the chocolate pudding until all the crepes are used (no pudding on that top layer)
  • Sprinkle with icing sugar

Serve this right away for best results. It can be put in the fridge for up to two hours but will need to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.

You can serve this on its own, or you can add some fresh fruit and whipped cream on the side. It’s completely up to you!

Pan Roasted Almonds with Honey

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Let’s go back to Greece for a few more Mediterranean-friendly recipes. This mixture is simple and affordable for all families, and deliciously and naturally sweet.


  • 1 pot of water, enough so that the almonds are covered
  • ¼ cup of almonds
  • 3-4tbsp honey, plus more for serving if you’d like


Start by blanching the almonds if you didn’t get blanched ones:

  • Boil a pot of water and add in the almonds, boiling for 60 seconds
  • Drain the water over a strainer to catch the almonds and rinse under cold water to cool quickly
  • Remove the almonds out of the skin by pinching the ends
  • Dry with a paper towel as much as possible

Now make your dessert:

  • Place the almonds and honey into a saucepan and place over a medium to low heat
  • Cook until the almonds are slightly golden and then remove from the heat
  • Pour the honey and almond mixture into bowls and finish off with the rest of the honey if you’d like
  • Allow coolingfully before you serve

It’s an extremely minimal dessert.  This will be perfect when you want something to serve to friends after a delicious Mediterranean meal.

Lemon Sponge Cake—a Pantespani

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This Greek dish is known as a Pantespani to the local people. It’s a lemon sponge cake and extremely easy to make. Your kids will want to lick the batter out of the bowl once you’ve finished with it!

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • 5 eggs, eggs and yolks separated
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tbsp brandy

Ingredients for the Syrup:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon


  • Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a cake pan
  • Add all the syrup ingredients to a pot and place over medium heat, cooking until the sugar completely dissolves
  • Bring to a simmer, leaving for 6 minutes and then remove from the heat and set aside to cool
  • Place the egg yolks in a bowl and add in the sugar, beating and then putting to one side
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and yolk mixture together and mix completely
  • Add in the brandy and vanilla mix, combining well
  • Now add in the egg whites and mix until it all forms a batter
  • Pour into your greased pan and bake for 45-55 minutes; a toothpick will be clean when placed in once cooked
  • Remove from the oven and pour the syrup over the top right away, so the cake can absorb it for 10 minutes
  • Allow the cake to cool and then serve

You can reduce the lemon amounts if you prefer to keep the taste minimal. You can also add more if you find that the cake isn’t lemony enough. This can also work with orange zest and juice instead.

Honey Donuts—Loukoumades

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Loukoumades are a popular Greek donut-like dessert. They’re covered in honey, giving a naturally sweet taste that will have you craving more!

Ingredients for the Donuts:

  • 3 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 pack of yeast
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1tsp salt
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 320z of safflower oil
  • Ground cinnamon for the top
  • Favorite nuts to top

Ingredients for the Syrup:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 12 tbsp honey, plus extra if you’d like


  • Mix the flour, water, and yeast together in a bowl
  • Add the sugar, milk, salt, and eggs and combine into a batter
  • Cover and allow to sit for 60 minutes
  • After 40 minutes, continue with the rest, combining the honey and water in a pot and simmering for 5 minutes
  • Remove the honey from the heat and place into a large bowl
  • Place the safflower oil in a soup pot and heat over a medium to high heat
  • Take a tbsp. of the batter and create a bowl, dropping it carefully into the hot oil
  • Fry for 3-4 minutes on both sides, until golden
  • Remove and put on a plate with paper towels to absorb extra oil
  • Repeat until all the batter is used
  • Once the oil has drained, place the donuts into the syrup and coat

Place your donuts onto a plate and coat with the nuts and cinnamon. You can also top with extra honey if you’d like. Place the plate in the middle of the table or on a table full of finger foods and allow everyone to dive right in.

Mozaik Pastasi (a Mosaic Cake)

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Let’s leave Greece again and this time take a trip to Turkey. It’s another commonly overlooked Mediterranean country, but is the home of the Mosaic Cake, locally known as the Mozaik Pastasi.


  • 1lb petit beurre biscuits, broken into squares and put aside
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of cocoa powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of butter, melted
  • 3oz of dark chocolate, melted


  • Combine the butter and chocolate
  • IN a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract together and then add to the butter and chocolate mixture, combining well
  • Add the eggs into the mixture and whisk to thicken and combine
  • In another bowl, add the broken biscuits and then pour the chocolate mixture in gently, making sure each cracker has some chocolate
  • Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and fill with the biscuit mixture
  • Pack the mixture down with the back of a spoon and wrap the plastic wrap edges over the top
  • Place in the fridge for 3+ hours (preferably overnight) to allow it all to set

You’ll be able to slice the cake to serve. Don’t discard the plastic wrap, as you’ll want to keep the cake covered until you’re ready for another slice. It will all keep in the fridge for a few days.

Moroccan Orange Cake

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Finally, it’s time for a trip south of Europe and into Africa. Morocco tends to be left out, despite it having a home comfortable on the warm Med. You want to try out this delicious orange cake.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • ½ cup of orange juice
  • 2tbsp orange zest
  • 1tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and flour your tube pan
  • Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl, until thick
  • Beat in the oil gradually
  • Add the flour, salt, and baking powder, stirring in to combine
  • Add the orange juice and beat until it’s all smooth
  • Finally, add in the vanilla and zest, stirring to combine
  • Pour the batter into your pan and then bake for 40 minutes
  • Allow the cake to cool for 7-10 minutes and then place on a wire rack to finishing cooling

You’ll know the cake is ready because a toothpick will come out completely clean.

Enjoy your taste of the Mediterranean with these delicious desserts. They’re not all the healthiest options, but a little in moderation isn’t going to do you that much harm. Your kids will enjoy making the recipes together, and they’ll want to lick out the bowl with some of the cakes and batters.

These are recipes that you can make for the family or put out with a buffer when throwing a Mediterranean party. Just make sure you’re ready for answers when people ask you for the recipes.

How to Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery

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bigstock Doctor Examining Male Patient 41853457 300x200 - How to Prepare for Hip Replacement SurgeryHip replacement surgery has become an increasingly popular orthopedic procedure as the Baby Boomer generation ages. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, there are more than 320,000 hip replacement surgeries performed each year. Total hip replacement surgeries are considered one of the most effective procedures in medicine, resulting in quick, reliable relief from hip pain and increased mobility.

Prepping for Hip Replacement Surgery

Once you’ve made the decision that hip replacement surgery is the best option for you, you’ll undoubtedly have a few questions for your doctor or surgeon. In order to prepare for hip replacement surgery effectively, there are a few steps to consider before the day of your surgery:

  • Write down your questions. Before heading into a pre-op appointment with your doctor, take a few moments to write down the questions you may have about your surgery and the rehabilitation process. This will ensure that you won’t forget any questions and that you’ll be well-prepared for your appointment.
  • Make decisions about post-surgery care. If you have friends or family nearby who can stay over, enlist their help for your recovery. Or, consider a stay in a short-term rehabilitation facility to ensure you’re getting the post-operative care you’ll need.
  • Prepare your home. If you’ll be recovering in your home, you’ll have to make a few changes so you will have an easier time when you return from the hospital. If the bedroom is on the second floor, for example, be prepared to utilize the couch or favorite recliner in the living room as your bed. Also, remember to remove potential tripping hazards like throw rugs or cords and wires so you have a clear path.
  • Meet with a physical therapy team. Before surgery, it’s helpful to meet with the team or professional who will be providing physical therapy after your surgery. If you take the time to learn some of the hip replacement exercises beforehand, you will have an easier time completing them post-surgery.
  • Learn about possible complications. While complications only arise in around one percent of hip replacement surgeries, it’s still important to educate yourself about them. There may be side effects from anesthesia, infection, blood clots or blood vessel injury, etc. Find out what measures are taken to prevent such complications.
  • Strengthen and tone your body. If you’re slightly overweight, work on losing some of those extra pounds before your surgery. Building up strength and toning your muscles will make it less difficult to get around using crutches, a cane or a walker.

Adding Exercises for Hip Pain to Your Routine

Even if you’ve been slightly less active due to the hip pain you’ve been experiencing, it’s important to incorporate some daily exercises to prepare for hip replacement surgery. Starting exercises for hip pain now will help aid in your recovery time, too. In fact, exercise is actually one of the best things you can do for your hips, as it helps maintain range of motion and strengthen supporting muscles.

Along with relieving pain, hip replacement exercises are designed to help add strength and flexibility. Many of these exercises can be done on the floor, the bed, or a chair. For instance, you can lie in bed and work on rolling your ankles both clockwise and counterclockwise, keeping toes pointed toward the ceiling. Or, do some leg slides, where while lying down, you slide one leg out, keeping the knee pointed up and return to starting position, repeating on the other leg.

To strengthen your arms a bit in preparation of using crutches or a walker, sit on a sturdy chair, grasping the arms and pushing up, straightening your arms as you lift yourself off the chair. Repeat this five times at first, adding five more repetitions as the exercise becomes easier.

Your physical therapist can also advise on what types of exercises for hip pain and hip replacement surgery you can start doing in advance of your surgery date.


How to Prepare for a Long-Term Power Outage

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The recent natural disasters in the Gulf of Mexico (and beyond) have raised several concerns about how we, as people, prepare for these events and how we take care of people afterwards. There are certainly steps governments and NGOs can take to be better prepared. On a smaller scale, however, there are steps that we as individuals and families can take before disaster strikes so the effects of said disasters are minimized. Follow these tips so that your family is ready to take on power outages that can accompany these large events.

1) Have an emergency preparedness kit ready to go

Before any type of outage or disaster strikes, it’s essential for households to have their own emergency preparedness kit and plan ready to grab at a moment’s notice. This kit should include the basics for getting through an outage: drinking water, non-perishable food, batteries, cash, a first aid kit, as well as other recommended supplies. Ready.gov has printable lists to help prepare for special members of your family, such as children, elderly family members and pets.

2) Unplug appliances and electronics

To avoid any damage caused by power surges, turn off and unplug sensitive electronics and larger appliances (like your fridge or stove) after you notice the power go out. Keep one light switched on so you know when the power returns.

3) Make sure your food is safely contained

Refrain from opening your fridge if you suspect a power outage is going to be short-lived. Once the hours roll by and it’s clear the outage will last much longer, then is the time to assess the safety of the food in the house.

If any food has been over 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) for over two hours—especially meat, eggs, poultry, fish, etc—dispose of it. Don’t run the risk of getting sick! You can prepare a cooler by always keeping locking freezer bags filled with drinking water in the freezer. The ice will keep foods stored in a cooler chilled and you can drink the water after it thaws, as well.

Related: Food Safety During a Power Outage

4) Fill up your bathtub

In case your city’s water system goes to the wayside, use duct tape to create a tighter seal around your bathtub drain and fill the tub up with water. This can be used for everyday use, including flushing the toilet. It’s essential to also fill up bottles and jugs with water for drinking.

5) Charge your essential electronics

It’s a good idea to have external batteries around for cell phones, and to keep them fully charged in the case of a power outage. Keep your phone powered off or in airplane mode as much as you can stand it to conserve power.


5 Tips To Prepare Your Liver For The Holidays

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Here are my top 5 ways to prepare your liver for the upcoming holiday season so you can crush the Holiday social scene like the life of the party that you are!!!

If you haven’t already read the article I wrote yesterday, “How Getting Serious About Liver Health Helped Me Become Become A Better Socializer” I would also suggest giving that a read too!

I recommend giving yourself at least 14 days to detoxify your body before the holiday shenanigans begin (which means you should start today!).

#1: Eliminate the offenders. Practice saying no to wine, baileys, pumpkin ale or whatever your drink of choice is at this time. Avoiding alcohol (even tobacco and caffeine) gives your liver the ability to focus on detoxifying harmful substances produced on the daily through normal metabolism and other bodily processes. It’s just 2 weeks. Try drinking Kombucha, tea, or fruit infused water instead. You can do this!

#2: Maximize your Antioxidant status and take supportive supplements! Antioxidants help to reduce the damage done by free radicals in our body. If you think of free radicals like Borat in the antique shop, creating a path of destruction without apologizing, then antioxidants are like Borus, Borats manager who grabs him pulls him out of the shop before her can do any more damage. My faves are N-acetylcysteine (NAC), Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium & Zinc, and Milk Thistle (which actually helps your liver to regenerate) and Glutamine (which aids in gut healing and cell regrowth).

#3: Do detoxifying exercises everyday. Motion is lotion people! Exercises can consist or gentle yoga practices, deep breathing or meditation, skin brushing, sauna, massage, and even detoxifying your mind by letting go of the things that no longer serve you. Try to avoid heavy sweat sessions during this time, because although you are sweating out toxins, you are stealing healing energy needed for your liver to repair your muscles.

#4: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! We need proper hydration to help flush toxins out of our systems, maintain our energy, regulate our body temperature, dissolve minerals, act as a lubricant for joints, and regulate our bowel movements and so much more! Clean, room temp filtered water is the best. Try flavouring it with lemon juice, cucumber slices and mint, and drinking herbal tea if you aren’t a huge fan of plain water.

#5: Add these foods to your diet: seeds like sesame and pumpkin, greens like kale and spinach, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts, sulphur containing foods like onions and garlic, and super fruits full of antioxidants like blueberries, and pomegranate.

If improving your liver health, and overall health interests you before the holidays kick in, try the 14 day Liver Reset program that we designed here at Refresh Natural Health.

It has all the tips and tools (plus so much more) bundled into a neat little package designed to properly support phase I & II of liver detoxification and supercharge your body with antioxidants and healthy healing foods. Plus it has been designed by nutrition experts, alongside Naturopathic doctors and a colon hydrotherapist so it takes the guessing out of your healing regimen.

Prepare for a successful school year

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As summer is winding down, you and your family may be looking ahead to the start of school. The anticipation of new classes, teachers and experiences can often trigger a mix of excitement and anxiety for kids, especially if they’ll be going to a new school. Even if they are remaining at the same school, getting back into the rhythm of the weekly school routine can be a challenge after a freewheeling summer schedule.  Without advanced preparation, the first weeks can be chaotic and add to stress.

Here are tips to help you prepare for a rewarding school year.

Return to routines. Slowly ease your children back into set bedtimes and breakfast and dinner routines. Start limiting TV time. This can help them be ready for the structure of school.

Get your child comfortable with what’s ahead. Discuss what the upcoming year in a new grade might look like, what great new things they’ll learn, and activities to try out. If your child is anxious about attending a different school, call before school starts to see if you both can meet the teacher and take a tour of the school.

Get a calendar that everyone can see.  And be sure to schedule in blocks of time for family time and unstructured play activities. Overscheduling kids with too many planned lessons and sports leaves little room to recharge, create, bond with others, and just “be” without performing.

Give everyone a bin near the front door. This “landing strip” can eliminate hunting for backpacks, keys, and important papers in the morning rush.

Make sure they have information they need to be safe. Discuss the transportation to and from school and after-school care or activities. Be sure kids and caregivers have your schedule and contact numbers of people to call in an emergency.

Budget for supplies. The cost of books, notebooks, clothes, uniforms and other school supplies can be overwhelming! Search for sales, or used laptops and other supplies. Start shopping early to reduce last-minute financial stress.

Encourage your kids to reconnect with classmates. It’s easy to lose touch with friends throughout summer due to family activities. If you have young children, try to schedule play dates with classmates. Talk to your teens and older children about setting up time to see some of their friends.

Practice positive reinforcement. Recognize their academic, creative and athletic accomplishments throughout the year. This helps them build self-esteem, sense of worth and instills a life-long desire to learn and grow.

Look for signs of an unhealthy adjustment. If your child develops aches or pains, is moody, withdrawn or uncommunicative, it could be a sign that he or she is feeling overwhelmed, threatened, can’t see the blackboard, or is afraid of speaking up in class. Calmly ask questions about your child’s day, listen attentively and offer reassurance. If you sense a bigger issue, consider talking to the teacher or guidance counselor.

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program, call us today to connect with a Licensed Professional Counselor who can help you and your family prepare for a successful school year. You’ll receive support and tips to reduce stress, communicate effectively, manage your time and find resources for at-risk youth and other needs. And if you have access to our advocacy services, our Personal Health Advocates are happy to help you resolve your healthcare and insurance-related issues and questions, such as locating in-network providers, researching treatment options, resolving billing and claims issues, and more. We’re always at your side—and always grateful for the opportunity to help you.

Prepare Now For Successful New Year’s Resolutions

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Source: Ondrejk/Wikimedia Commons, open content license

Nothing will work unless you do. ~Maya Angelou

Studies show, New Year’s resolutions do indeed help us make life changes…sometimes. If we learn how to make them correctly. But therein lies the problem. A few minutes of attempting to sift through all the self-help suggestions and contradicting how-to articles, one would be tempted to give up before the ball drops! So we’ve compiled a list of some of the best advice when it comes to making resolutions…on New Year’s Eve or otherwise.

There is a ton of information out there on how we can change our behaviors and succeed at goals. Let’s focus on picking a few success habits that sound realistic and attainable. After all, there isn’t one right way or singular rule for making resolutions succeed.…except that you have to work hard and you have to start somewhere.

So that brings us to the start: The significance of New Year’s as a start date for a behavior change. It is a commonly accepted myth that January 1st is the perfect starting point for a resolution. For the most part, it’s bunk. Yet, for some people, it works. If January 1st feels like a great starting point and you’re truly prepared to start on that day, then by all means do it. But why wait until January 1st to treat yourself to changes that make you happier and healthier? Why not December 18th or June 2nd? If you are someone who takes pleasure in celebrating significant dates and anniversaries, consider starting your resolution on a day that’s important to you and has a permanent positive association—like the day you got accepted into college or the day you were born.

It’s healthy to conduct regular assessments of our behaviors, habits, and choices. That way if something’s not working we can address problems as they arise rather than dismissing them with an attitude of, “Well, this year’s shot anyway; guess I’ll screw around for a few months and then start over next New Year’s.” That’s a doomsday attitude that associates New Year’s with the end of all things fun and the beginning of a year of drudgery.

One of the biggest problems with starting a resolution on January 1st is that most of us don’t prepare properly ahead of that day. According to the authors of Changing for Good, ‘Preparation’ is an essential stage for succeeding with our change goals. Even though one might look in the mirror today and feel motivated to start a diet immediately, has the necessary preparation been conducted? Do we have the tools, knowledge, success plan, and support team in place?

Here are some strategies for preparing for your next successful resolution:

Pull A Weed By Its Roots. Stopping a bad habit? It is essential that you understand the root cause of the behavior. If you don’t address the psychological attachment to the problem, any behavior changes will be short lived because the psychological need will still be there waiting to be fulfilled. Pull the problem by the roots and fill the hole with a healthier alternative.

Prepare Now, Commit When Truly Ready. This part is tricky because you don’t want to get stuck in preparation mode and procrastinate on starting your resolution. Yet when you have the information, resources, tools, plans, backup plans, and support systems in place you’ll be better equipped to handle challenges that arise along the way. Make a plan that gives yourself time to prepare, yet also challenges you to have your preparations completed by a meaningful start date.

Visualize Success AND Failure. Do you see yourself sticking to your new habit or will it probably taper off after a few weeks? Visualize how this could potentially play out so that you can make contingency plans in advance. How about scheduling a resolution re-commitment ceremony in your calendar 3 weeks from your start date?

The Snowball Effect. It helps immensely when we can see the fruits of our labors early on. So start off with smaller and more manageable goals, rather than overwhelming yourself with huge commitments. For example, start by making a goal that you can achieve within the next two or three weeks. By resolving to reach smaller goals, you’ll sooner see successes. Experiencing successes keeps you motivated to add more goals…resulting in more successes. You get the picture.

Is Your Resolution SMART? Your goals should be specific and measurable. It’s not very effective to say, “I want to lose weight this year so I’ll start going to the gym more.”  Try writing your first weight loss target in your wellness journal or calendar: “My goal is to lose 4 pounds in February, which breaks down to one pound a week. Starting today I am going to the gym every Monday and Thursday after work at 6:00pm. Right now I am going to put my gym bag in the trunk of my car.” When Thursday arrives, this specific plan is already in place, the preparations have been made, and the routine has been automated. Now, enlist a workout buddy to hold you accountable and you’re well on your way.

Which days of the week and time of day do you have peak energy and willpower? Schedule your resolution actions for then. Don’t go to the gym after work if that’s when you feel most depleted. You’ll associate the gym with being tired, hungry, and cranky.

Reward success. Reward the successes you’ve achieved through hard work rather than punishing yourself for setbacks and missed goals. Guilt, regret, and punishment may get your butt out the door for the first couple weeks but they aren’t great motivators over the long term. We inevitably feel bad from constantly beating ourselves up and call the whole thing off. As you prepare for your resolution, figure out what your rewards will be. The key here is that the rewards must be intrinsically meaningful to you.

A good friend of mine uses a unique reverse-psychology reward. If she misses her scheduled day at the gym, she has to donate $10 to the political campaign of a politician she dislikes. It’s both a punishment and a reward and it works!

While positive reinforcement is usually the focus with this kind of advice, a healthy dose of reality can be as or more motivating. Ask yourself, what is the consequence of not changing my habits? How would NOT changing impact my body, my lifespan, my loved ones, my career? Write an impactful letter to yourself containing all of these factors and read it whenever your motivation is low.

Reframe Setbacks. The moment you realize you hit a setback is the moment you can recommit to your original goal. Acknowledge how you could have done things differently and then move on from it. Immediately. The setback is now in the past so don’t dwell on it. Reframe it as a growth opportunity.

Reframe Mindset. Speaking of reframing, you might just need to reframe your mindset at the onset of this process. Do you have a fixed or growth mindset? If you want to grow as a person but have a history of having an inflexible fixed mindset and struggle with life change, resolutions could prove very challenging. Consider reading the book Mindset by Carol Dweck.

Enlist Help. If you’re not good at praising, rewarding, and reminding yourself, enlist a resolution buddy (or buddies). Eh hem, your favorite career-life coach, perhaps? Set up a check-in system where they email, text, and call you periodically. This keeps you accountable to someone and that’s helpful when you’re tempted to slack off.

Tell your accountability partner in advance all of your favorite go-to excuses so they can call you out on them!

Some advice givers tell us to take make our resolutions public, like an announcement on Facebook. Others say that can set us up for feeling shame if we don’t reach the goals we announced. This one’s your call. Would an announcement keep you motivated because you don’t want to fail publicly? Or will your goals be kept between you and a supporter or two?

Refill Your Will. Renowned psychologist Roy Baumeister warns, “Each person’s supply of willpower is limited. And, as the “power” aspect of willpower implies, it’s a form of energy. It gets depleted when you use it.” Starting a new behavior or quitting an old one takes willpower, of which, according to Baumeister, we have a limited supply. If we establish too many goals requiring willpower, we’ll become mentally and physically exhausted. We’ll fail. Remember, start with one manageable piece and add more later. Again, seeing success will help refill your will [i.e. the snowball effect].

Refill Your Cup. Know what fills up your resilience cup so that you have an ample supply of mental, physical, and spiritual energy to drink from. Resilience helps you bounce back from setbacks and clear hurdles. Check out my Psychology Today article on the 10 Traits of Emotionally Resilient People and by my colleague, author Karen Horneffer-Ginter, 25 Ways To Boost Resilience.

Sound like a lot of work? Let’s not sugarcoat it, success in all forms takes a lot of work and willpower. As psychologist John Norcross says, “Take resolutions seriously or don’t take them at all.” 

[This article was adapted from an interview with the author published at Textbooks.com]


Sources and Suggested Reading:

Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions by John Norcross

Willpower, Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister

Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward by Prochaska et. al.

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath





New Years Resolution Statistics


Brad Waters, MSW specializes in working with non-traditional career seekers, entrepreneurs, creatives, introverts, Millennials, and corporate career changers. Brad helps people clarify their career direction and take action on life transitions. Request a free consultation call at BradWatersCoaching.com

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Copyright, 2015 Brad Waters. This article may not be reproduced or published without permission from the author. If you share it, please give author credit and do not remove embedded links.

Help Your Child With Psychiatric Needs Prepare for College

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Congratulations, parents, on your high school senior’s upcoming graduation.  By now, your child has received her college acceptances, and by early May she will have made her decision. Your child’s hard work has paid off. Now a different kind of work begins – the preparation for starting college. You and your child will receive several checklists over the next few months:  Sign up for orientation. Check. Choose fall classes. Check. Pay the dorm deposit. Check.

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Source: Matthewreid/Flickr

If you have a child who takes medication for Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety, depression or any other mental health issue, you need an additional checklist, maybe your most important one. Let’s call it the college mental health checklist. This checklist will ensure your child has accessible and comprehensive health care from the time she sets foot on campus.

Left untreated, mental health issues can derail a student’s academic career. In fact, students report stress, anxiety, sleep difficulties and depression are the top four issues that have negatively impacted their academic performance. Some students develop mental health problems in college, while others enter school with these issues. One out of three students who come to a college counseling center report prior treatment with psychiatric medication. If your child comes to school already taking these medications, follow these steps to facilitate effective treatment.

1.      Encourage your child to continue medication. Many students are tempted to stop medication the summer before college, feeling they can make a fresh start their freshman year. They also worry about the stigma associated with taking medication. But transitions are the worst time to stop medication, as stress levels can be high. I’m not saying a person needs to continue on medication indefinitely. Rather, a student should work closely with a psychiatrist to choose the best time to taper off medication.  Medication should never be stopped abruptly. Stopping antidepressants abruptly, for example, can precipitate depressive symptoms as well as physical discomfort.

2.      Keep in touch with your child that first semester with phone calls and visits. A faculty person or dorm adviser may not see your child often enough to know if your child is having a problem, whereas you will know by your child’s voice whether something is off.  If your son is interrupting you in conversation or his thoughts are all over the place, he may have stopped his ADD medication. You can give him feedback and encourage him to restart medication.

3.      Help your child find a psychiatrist on or near campus. Often, students will continue to receive their prescriptions from their home psychiatrist, but it is usually better to transition to a local psychiatrist who can intervene in case a problem or crisis arises. Some colleges will provide ongoing outpatient psychiatric treatment, but other colleges have few or no psychiatrists and will refer students to the community. Some schools may have restrictions regarding the prescription of stimulants, so if your child takes stimulants for ADD, she may need to see a psychiatrist off campus. Review treatment options listed on the websites of the college counseling center and student health care center, and call to obtain referrals if needed.

4.      Find individual or group therapy on or near campus. For many students, medication alone is not enough to address their depression or anxiety. If your child is currently seeing a therapist, continuing treatment during the transition could be helpful. Some students will Skype with a therapist from home. A student could also seek individual therapy at the campus counseling center, but parents should be aware that usually this therapy is short term. If you feel your child needs weekly individual therapy for an extended period of time, you can contact the counseling center for an off campus referral. For students who might benefit from group therapy, counseling centers often have support groups or psychoeducation groups that teach ways to manage anxiety or depression.

5.      Explore your campus disability resource center. Most campuses have a center where students can meet with a counselor or coach who can help create accommodations to promote learning. For example, a student with ADD might be able to take tests at the disability resource center in a quiet room with extended time. A student with depression might be able to take a reduced course load one semester while he adjusts to a new medication. Students might hesitate to ask for help, so encourage your student to pursue accommodations that will enhance his college experience while allowing him to take care of his mental health.

As the race car driver Bobby Unser once famously said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Prepare your college student for success by making a mental health checklist. Having ADD, depression, or anxiety don’t have to be roadblocks for attending college and achieving health and happiness in the college years.

©2016 Marcia Morris, All Rights Reserved

Details have been altered to protect patient privacy.

If you’re interested in reading about a particular topic regarding college wellness and your child’s mental health, please email me at marciamorrismd@gmail.com