Want to lose weight? When money’s on the line, you will look fine!

dietbetAfter having a wonderful kid-less long weekend in Boston with my hubby, I returned refreshed, rejuvenated and 10 lbs. heavier. What in the world? How can that happen in only a few days? Sure, I indulged a bit, but we walked a lot and I tried to have healthy breakfast and lunch to make up for my indulgences. How can a few pastries, crab and lobster ravioli and pasta dishes derail me that much?

Well, it’s time to get back on the stick, so when I got home and saw the message from Cassey with Blogilates on her #blogilatesbet challenge on DietBet, I was in!  Dietbet is an online social diet challenge game. It is really simple. You can choose an amount of money to bet on your weight loss and you have 4 weeks to lose 4% of your bodyweight. You play with friends and after 4 weeks, if you meet your goal, you can spilt the pot with the other winners. Why do this? Research shows that dieters are more likely to lose weight when money is on the line.

I’ve really tightened the belt on my diet this week and kept up with my already rigorous exercise schedule. I’ve planned out my meals for the week which include several mini meals throughout the day that include a lot of protein, fresh veggies, some fruit and grains. I made some delish healthy crab cakes tonight that were completely guilt-free. They tasted so good, it’s hard to believe they were healthy. I’ll share the recipe with you tomorrow.

Do you want to join me in the #blogilatesbet challenge? If so, comment on this post and provide your name as it appears on Facebook. I’ll send you the special link through Facebook so you can get in on our challenge. The best part is that since it is with the blogilates group, our pot is huge and growing larger by the day! Right now there is $141, 425 in the pot!

I’d love for you to join me! I will share my meal plans, exercise schedule and recipes, as well as my progress on Five a Day the Fun Way. I’ve only been following my plan for two days and I’ve already dropped some weight, my hunger has decreased and I feel great.

So if you’ve been looking to drop a few, come join me in the challenge! We can do this together!

Kale, White Bean, Apple Sausage and Zucchini Ragout Recipe


Looking for a way to eat your greens that not only pleases your palate, but satisfies even the pickiest of eaters? Look no further than this delish ragout that is chock full of healthy vegetables, tasty sausage and creamy fiber-filled beans.

I recently signed up for Backyard Produce, which is a weekly service that delivers fresh, local, organic produce straight to your door. You can either customize your basket by selecting each food your receive or select the variety basket which is full of that week’s best selections.

This week I chose kale, tomatoes, zucchini because I’m trying to eat more organic produce. When I came home and saw my box of fresh veggies on my porch, I was as excited as if it was my birthday! But then I quickly began racking my brain at how I could use up this produce in a way that was tasty and would lure my kids into eating it too.

Imagine my elation when I saw this recipe on Cooking Light for a Kale, white bean, zucchini, tomato and apple sausage ragout. It was chock-full of veggies and I had every ingredient in my pantry – score!

It was super simple to make and the flavors married beautifully. I was concerned because my past experiences with kale haven’t been great. Aside from kale chips, I don’t really like the flavor of kale. It is a bit too tough for a salad, too bitter to eat raw and doesn’t blend well in pasta or casseroles.

But kale is truly a super food and definitely worth giving another try. Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has 0 grams of fat. It is high in iron, vitamin K, A, C and calcium. It’s also brimming with antioxidants. I tweaked the Cooking Light recipe a bit to meet my needs, such as using minced garlic instead of whole, eliminating the olive oil and onion and adding fresh tomato instead of canned.

Kale, White Bean, Apple Sausage and Zucchini Ragout

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (4-ounce) links chicken sausage, cut into (1/2-inch) slices – I used Thin n Trim Apple Cinnamon Sausage
  • 1 zucchini, quartered and cut into (1/2-inch) slices (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 cups chopped trimmed kale (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Brown sausage in a large saute pan and add garlic. Add zucchini and kale; cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

The secret for creating a delicious low-calorie dessert

What if I told you that you could eat a decadent tasting pie that was not only low in calories, but loaded with fiber, antioxidants, potassium and folate?


It may sound too good to be true, but the butternut squash pie that I made this week was delicious and healthy. I was craving something sweet and the Girl Scout cookies I had in my pantry were calling my name. As much as I would like to sit down and eat the entire box of Samoas, bathing suit season is coming up.


I scavenged my pantry, looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth to no avail. I did however see a box of Fiber One Caramel Squares cereal and a frozen block of butternut squash, so I decided to get creative. The secret to losing weight and keeping it off is to create delicious, decadent foods that satisfy you without making you feel deprived. No one can stick to a diet if they feel deprived.


Butternut squash is a staple in my house. After reading every Hungry Girl book, I’m no stranger to the miracle of butternut squash.


Butternut squash has 10,630 IU vitamin A per 100 grams, which is 354 percent of our recommended daily value (RDA.) Butternut squash is also filled with poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds, which are powerful antioxidants. Butternut squash is also loaded with vitamin C, E, K, B6, folate and thiamin. Even though butternut squash as no fat, it has more than 30 micrograms of omega-3 fatty acids and over 22 mcg of omega-6 fatty acids. Butternut squash is an excellent weight loss food because of the high fiber content and low calories.


I used frozen Bird’s Eye Butternut Squash in this recipe, which is great because it is available year-round and it is already pureed for you. Simply heat it up in the microwave for five minutes and you have the perfectlyu pureed butternut squash. Try out this healthy butternut squash pie recipe that I made up and let me know what you think.


Stacy’s Healthy Butternut Squash Pie


Filling Ingredients

  • One 12-ounce box Birds Eye Cooked Winter Squash
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ¾ cup Splenda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. salt


Crust Ingredients



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine cereal, butter, applesauce and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until combined.


Spray 9-inch pie pan with nonfat cooking spray and press crust mixture in pan.


Combine filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Pour into pie crust and bake for 45 minutes. Allow pie to cool completely and refrigerate for several hours. Serve with a dollop of fat-free whipped topping.


Let me know if you try out the recipe! For more low-calorie recipes, check out my new book Culinary Duct Tape: Greek Yogurt: Just as versatile, not as tacky, available now on Amazon!

Warning: Don’t eat the office lunch

Welcome to week two of the “Weight Loss Wednesdays” edition of Five a Day the Fun Way.

This Wednesday I’m exploring how you can keep your weight in check when you are bombarded by unhealthy foods and you have no control over the choices available to you. I was in an all-day offsite for work yesterday and our food was catered in. Pastries filled with cream cheese and jam for breakfast, fried chicken parmesan and cheesy pasta for lunch and popcorn, brownies and cookies for an afternoon snack.

What is a girl to do?

Check out my latest post on Working Mother magazine, “Warning: Don’t Eat the Office Lunch” for three easy tips.

I’d also love to hear from you! What do you do when faced with unhealthy choices? How do you avoid the break-room sugar haven?

Say “yes” to lose more

I’m an immediate gratification pleasure-seeker and I love saying yes to everything that makes me feel good.

But everywhere I turn in seeking advice for reaching my goals in the New Year focus on saying “no.” Say “no” to sugar to lose weight. Save time by telling others “no.” “NO” carbs, soda, coffee, ack!

Focusing on the negative will not help us achieve our goals. Instead it focuses our energy on what we can’t have, rather than what we can.

It’s much more liberating to focus on the abundance of food and options that you do have, rather than what you don’t.

Try something new this year and trying saying yes to losing weight for good.

Say yes to:


  • Drinking at least 8 cups of water a day
  • Eating lots of fruits and veggies
  • Focusing on yourself for at least an hour of day doing exercise you love, whether it’s running, swimming, cycling, dancing or lifting weights
  • Sleeping at least 8 hours a night
  • Decompressing everyday with mediation or yoga to de-stress the mind and body
  • Indulging in a treat that you really crave
  • Eating a wide range of food and not making any food off-limits
  • Playing with your kids
  • Doing something you love each and every day!


The power of positive thinking will seep into every aspect of your life and bring you success in your health, happiness and family.

What are your goals for 2012? Do you tend to focus on saying “yes” or “no?” I’d love to hear from you!

<a href=”http://pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fpinterest.com%2Fstacia222%2Ffive-a-day-the-fun-way%2F&media=http%3A%2F%2Ffiveadaythefunway.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2011%2F12%2F5adaylogo200.jpg&description=Five%20a%20Day%20the%20Fun%20Way!” class=”pin-it-button” count-layout=”vertical”>Pin It</a>
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js”></script>


7 tips for losing weight on your Disney World vacation (While eating whatever you want)

I lost five pounds while on my Walt Disney World vacation, where indulged in candy-covered rice Krispy treats, Dole Pineapple Floats, fudge, brownies, cookies, pizza, burgers, steak, mushroom risotto, butter beer and more! How did I lose five pounds while eating whatever I wanted you may ask? Read on for my top seven tips for losing weight while on vacation:


  1. 1.    Taste everything, finish nothing


My favorite part of visiting Walt Disney World is sampling their delicious food. Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches, Soft Pretzels, Mickey Mouse shaped Rice Krispy Treats, oh my! My tummy is rumbling just thinking about it! The key word is “sample.” I would order a meal or snack and spilt it with my hubby or kids. I would inhale the lovely scent of the huge chocolate chip filled brownie from Main Street Bakery, sit down with a mug of hot coffee, close my eyes and take a few mouth-watering bites, enjoying every second of my treat. Then I would share the rest with my family. This allowed me to eat whatever I wanted, just in smaller portions.

2.    Don’t eat salad


I heard so many people order Caesar Salad in the parks and explain that they are watching their calories. I know that it feels virtuous to order a salad instead of a burger, but the typical grilled chicken Caesar salad has more calories than a burger! The typical grilled chicken has 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat! Compare that to the average fast-food hamburger, which has 250 calories and 9 grams of fat. Disney World doesn’t provide nutritional information on the food in their parks, but if you compare the average calories from fast-food equivalents, the answer is clear on which item to choose. Not only does a hamburger have fewer calories, but it also has hunger-satisfying protein to keep your hunger at bay. Most Disney quick-service locations will allow you to substitute apple slices or grapes for French fries, making your meal a well-rounded choice. My favorite place to get a burger at WDW is at Pecos Bills in the Magic Kingdom! I order the burger and only eat half of the bun and make my own salad with the lettuce shreds and salsa at the burger bar. I eat grapes instead of French fries and have yogurt for dessert. Yummy!


3.    Pay attention to your hunger scale


Visiting WDW requires a lot of walking, so make sure to match your eating to your hunger scale. You may try to cut calories by skipping meals or eating light, but then your hunger will attack, causing you to fill up on snacks and junk instead. You are burning a lot of calories by walking, so make sure to refuel your energy with healthy meals. However, on the flip side, don’t feel that you need to eat just because it’s mealtime. Some of the Disney portions are huge, so a big lunch may fill you up so much that you only need a light dinner. Just pay attention to your body and eat according to your hunger, not the clock.

4.    Pack healthy snacks


Disney allows you to bring snacks into the park, so take advantage of this benefit by packing apples, trail mix, nuts, dried fruit and protein bars. Having your own healthy snacks will help when hunger attacks and the only options around are high-calorie ice cream and pretzels. Not only does packing your own snacks save you calories, it saves you money and time also!

5.    Search for fruit


If you don’t like toting around a bag, don’t despair. Disney has several fruit carts with fresh apples, oranges and bananas around the park. You may have to hunt for them a bit, but healthy options are available. Here is a breakdown of where the fruit vendors are located:


Magic Kingdom: Liberty Square Market and Main Street Bakery (If you can avoid the allure of the decadent desserts in the display case)


Epcot: The Land Pavilion.


Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Sunset Ranch Market and ABC Commissary


Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Harambe Fruit Market

6.    Be a Camel


I use my Camelback to carry my water, keys and credit card. I fill it up with water before I hit the parks and refill it at the quick service stands. The quick service restaurants will provide you with a cup of ice water if you ask, so I keep my bag filled all day without spending a dime. This keeps me hydrated, which helps keep my hunger at bay.

7.    Stay active


Walking around at the parks burns a ton of calories, but don’t forget to continue with your exercise routine while you are on vacation. Staying consistent with exercise not only will prevent you from sliding in performance while you are on vacation, but it will help you burn those extra calories from indulgences as well. When visiting Epcot, it is not uncommon to walk up to 8 miles while touring World Showcase Lagoon! Partner all of that walking with your morning exercise routine, and you’ll be burning calories all day. We stayed at Coronado Springs Resort, which is perfect for those who want to stay active while on vacation. There is a 1-mile jogging trail that encircles Lago Dorado. I ran my 14-mile long run on that trail while watching the sunrise over the shimmering lake. There is also a lap pool, which I took advantage of for swimming laps. I also lifted weights, ran on the treadmill, biked and did the elliptical in their onsite Health Club, La Vida. Given that Disney hosts several marathons throughout the year, which can be found at runDisney. I the Walt Disney World Marathon last year and it was so much fun! If you are looking to run a marathon, I highly recommend the WDW Disney Marathon or Princess Half Marathon.


It can be hard to stay motivated, but staying active will give you the energy to tour the parks all-day and excuse to indulge in the pretzel at Biegarten guilt-free!


Do you have any tips for staying active while on vacation? Where is your favorite vacation destination? Do you usually lose or gain weight while on vacation? I’d love to hear from you!


Healthy Road Trip Snacks

I love going on vacation, but I don’t love being away from my healthy fridge stocked with fruits, veggies and lean protein. Being stuck in the car for hours on end usually means resorting to greasy fast food, chips and soda to satisfy hunger while trying to reach the destination in a reasonable time. But, given that I’ve taken two long road trips in the past month, I have a few tips for packing healthy snacks for the road to keep your hunger satisfied without packing on the pounds.

Check out my latest article, Healthy Road Trip Snacks, on Modern Parent for the tips and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you!


Five A Day The Make-Ahead Way

I am excited to announce our guest post today is from Devon, the founder of Eastside Make-Ahead Mamas.  Devon is a mom who works full-time and needed a way to prepare healthy meals for

her family even on those busy weeknights. She started Eastside Make-Ahead Mamas, a group of moms who get together once a month to prepare make-ahead meals in “swap” style for their families.  She also runs the Eastside Make-Ahead Mamas Blog, where she shares recipes, tips, and tricks for preparing healthy, time-saving, make-ahead meals.  Follow her on Twitter at @MamasMakeAhead. Visit the Eastside Make-Ahead Mamas Blog for more great make-ahead recipes and tips!

As a reader of Five a Day the Fun Way, there’s no doubt you already know the benefits of eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  But let’s face it: while the theory is sound, the concept often fails in the execution stages.  If you’re like me, you’ve discovered that providing fresh fruit and veggies for your family often means going to the grocery store more than once each week, planning and organizing meals and snacks ahead of time (and before the grocery store trip!), and then taking time to prepare all of those fresh foods can be a challenge. Here are just a few ways that you can use make-ahead cooking techniques to work more fruits and veggies into you and your family’s everyday meals.

Breakfast. The smartest meal of the day!  Here are a few ways to make it even smarter:

  • Dice onions and bell peppers of all flavors. Pack (densely) into an ice cube tray, and top off with chicken broth.   Sautee one “veggie cube” in your omelet or breakfast burrito each morning.
  • Chop and then “flash freeze” fruit by arranging it on a cookie sheet in the freezer, all in one layer.  Leave for a few hours, and once hard (but not necessarily frozen through), divide into individual portions in freezer bags.  Pull them out to top your cereal or oatmeal, or simply eat as finger food during the commute.


Morning Snack. This meal was a hurdle for me, as my default for years was a sugar-packed latte.  Now, I skip the latte and opt for one of these:

  • Try a fresh fruit smoothie. Puree one cup frozen fruit in a blender with some agave nectar or fruit juice for sweetener.  Add milk for some protein.
  • Pack some fruit on a stick; because everything is better on a stick!


Lunch. Making your lunch ahead is a great way to save time in your morning routine!

  • If you have access to a microwave at work, re-heating leftovers from your favorite veggie-packed make-ahead dinners is a great start to eating a healthy lunch.
  • Most kids at school don’t have access to a microwave, so we pack cold lunches for them.  Check out these five tips for a nutritious make-ahead lunch from Five A Day the Fun Way.
  • Add guacamole (a fruit!) to your child’s sandwich instead of mayonnaise.  To keep it healthy, don’t mix in sour cream or mayo to make your guac; avocados and a few spices are all it takes

Afternoon Snack. A carb-rich afternoon snack can exacerbate most people’s natural tendency to get sleepy in the afternoons.  These protein-packed veggies can help boost your energy during that afternoon slump:

  • A handful of peanuts, tree nuts, or sunflower seeds.  (Vacuum seal them, such as with a FoodSaver – they’ll keep for months or more on your shelf!)
  • Corn tortilla chips with hummus.  (Yes, you can freeze hummus and guacamole.  They will just need a good stir once they thaw.)
  • Cold quinoa salad, topped with diced red bell peppers and black beans.



Dinner. I never miss this opportunity to load up on the veggies.  Here are some ways to make sure you never miss them in your dinner, even when you miss your trip to the store:

  • Keep an extra bag of frozen southwest vegetable blend or mixed vegetables in your freezer.  Mix them in with your starch (such as rice, quinoa, or even pasta or mashed potatoes).  When it comes to simple veggies for dinner, bags of frozen veggies can’t be beat.
  • Make ahead one-pot meals.  These not only minimize the dishes that need to be cleaned at the end of the meal, but they also are a great way to sneak vegetables (and colors!) into your meals.
  • Skip buttering your bread, and roast garlic instead!  It spreads on just like butter, but provides numerous health benefits; and yes, it’s a vegetable!

Dessert. Don’t think dessert is a great opportunity to get your five a day?  Think again!

  • Again, commercially frozen bags are your friend.  Peaches, strawberries, tropical blend; you name it, you can keep it ready and on-hand!
  • Thaw frozen fruit and serve alone.  Add a tablespoon of agave nectar for an extra sweet treat.
  • Remember the fruit puree for smoothies above?  Freeze it on a stick, and you have homemade popsicles

There’s no limit to the ways you can make-ahead fruits and vegetables to work in your five a day, even on a busy schedule.  For more healthy make-ahead ideas for getting in your five a day, visit Devon’s blog, the Eastside Make Ahead Mamas Blog.  How do you make ahead your five a day?  Let us know!

Have Sex – Lose Weight


Research shows that having frequent sex (safe sex in a committed relationship of course) offers many health benefits including weight loss, improved mood and a closer relationship. Sex burns approximately 150-200 calories per half hour. Given the recent research that shows exercise is equally beneficial done in 15-20 minute bursts throughout the day, use sex as part of your overall daily exercise routine. Just think….you can shave 15-20 minutes off of your morning exercise routine if you plan a romp in the sack that night with your man.

Kerry McCloskey found the benefits of frequent sex first hand. When she was engaged and in the throws of newlywed passion, she was having sex three times a week and lost 23 pounds in six months! She wrote a book, The Ultimate Sex Diet, to help other women acheive the same success.

Frequent sex not only improves the waistline, but it does wonders for a marriage. The highly talented author, Alisa Bowman, wrote the BEST marriage advice book I’ve ever read: Project Happily Ever After available on Amazon. Alisa’s marriage was falling apart, to the point that she was fantasizing about her husband’s funeral. She made one last-ditch effort to save her marriage and called it Project: Happily Ever After. She made sex a priority, opened up the lines of communication and made her own happily ever after. I highly recommend this book! I read it in only two days on my Kindle and was laughing and crying right there with Alisa along her journey.

Even if your marriage doesn’t need repair, make sex with your spouse a priority and reap the rewards! If you need more convincing, a healthy sex life:

1. Relieves stress

2. Boosts immunity

3. Burns calories

4. Improves cardiovascular health

5. Boosts self-esteem

6. Creates feeling of closeness & genorosity

7. Reduces pain

8. Strengthens pelvic floor muscles

9. Results in improved sleep patterns

10. Reduces prostate cancer risk

What do you think? How do you balance making the time for sex with your spouse, while balancing the demands of work, kids, chores and hobbies? As always, would love to hear from you!

Why I refuse to deprive myself

Image by zirconicusso via freedigitalphotos.net

I tried to completely cut out sugar a couple of months ago. The result: I gained eight pounds. How? Because when I suddenly focused on what I couldn’t have instead of what I could have, I craved sugar even more than usual.

I lost the eight pounds, but I gained wisdom into what works for me, and more importantly, what doesn’t. My entire blog and diet strategy is based on focusing on what you can eat and not what you can’t. That is why I created Five a Day the Fun Way. I want to help others discover all of the delicious, fulfilling and fun ways to eat foods that our good for our body, mind and soul without depriving ourselves.

Multiple studies support the theory that food deprivation causes craving and overeating. One study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders reported that when individuals were deprived chocolate, they not only experienced more food cravings, but they also consumed more chocolate than the unrestrained eaters.

Another study, Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we diet: Effects of anticipated deprivation on food intake in restrained and unrestrained eaters, published in the American Psychological Association, found that merely planning to go on a diet can trigger overeating.

The same healthy-eating strategy applies to kids. When helping your kids make healthier eating choices, don’t tell them that there are “good foods” and “bad foods” or that they can never eat French fries or cookies. Everything is OK in moderation. Focus on making 80 percent of their diet full of nutritious, healthy foods and know that the occasional Oreo is fine. That is exactly why I will no longer take my son to his current pediatrician who made him when she told him, “No more French fries!” Know of a good pediatrician in the area?

Have you ever experienced deprivation backfire? How do you help your kids have a healthy relationship with food? I’d love to hear from you!