Healthy Tips for Thanksgiving

Here at CHEAR, the topic of staying on track during the holidays comes up quite often around this time of year. We believe that you can stay on track with your healthy habits and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner! See below for some of our staff tips.

  1. “We use special smaller ‘Thanksgiving’ plates, have a family tradition to run or walk a 5k Turkey Trot race each year, and I help clean the dishes instead of sitting around after the meal!”-Melissa
  2. “Instead of using ice cream for dessert, we make fresh fruit sorbet or banana ice cream in our blender”-Ashley
  3. “Swap out the canned cranberry sauce (which can have up to 24 g. of sugar per serving) for fresh: simply boil a bag of cranberries with a little bit of agave nectar and a squeeze of fresh orange juice”-Ashley
  4. Use whole grain bread instead of white bread for stuffing.
  5. Serve fresh vegetables and butternut squash hummus for a nutrient dense appetizer!
    1. Try this recipe from Whole Foods:
  6. “Focus on spending quality time with family, friends, and/or yourself! Enjoy the food, do something to get outdoors and move a bit, and enjoy sleeping in!”-  Shari
  7. “You may not think it, but dinnerware affects how we much we eat! When you put food in a bigger plate, it tricks your brain into thinking you don’t have a lot of food on your plate. However, if you put food onto a smaller plate, your brain will thinking that you have a lot more food on your plate. This little trick of perception is called Delboeuf’s Illusion”-Jannet
  8. Schedule in physical activity throughout the day to avoid extra sedentary behavior. 
  9. “Do a turkey trot, take a walk, or plan to have the family play football in the yard or in a local park before dinner. Schedule something before dinner; make it part of family tradition and it will likely occur year after year!”- Dawn
  10. “Eat the vegetables first. Enjoy and chew each bite. If you overeat, don’t judge yourself. Just think about how you would tackle that situation next time. Without judgement, it could be a valuable exercise to pay attention to why you are eating things during the holidays. Is it because you are hungry, because of the taste, because of the stress of the holidays, because of the comfort (nostalgia, family, mother’s love)?”-Deepa
  11. “Drink water and eat the sweet potatoes/yams first! Low glycemic levels means sugar will be released into your blood slower = you will feel fuller longer. Avoid those sweat pants. Wear tighter pants to dinner.” –Sarah T.
  12. “Chew some gum or brush your teeth as soon as you are full. Won’t want to ruin minty breath.”-Sarah T.


Check out our Facebook page for more tips and videos starring the CHEAR staff!

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!


Summer Time Activities


It’s summer time! For some of you, that means spending time on vacation with the kids. Or maybe it means it’s time to get some much-needed time outdoors hiking or going to the beach. Here a few activities you can engage in during the summer that will help you on your way to a healthier lifestyle!

  • Hiking

Sometimes the outdoors is just what the doctor ordered. Hiking on your favorite trail can be a great time for bonding with the family or to find some quiet time in nature.   Going outdoors can help produce Vitamin D3, which is good for the bones and your immune system. But be careful not to get too much sun! With the increase in skin cancer, make sure to put on some sunblock to save yourself and your skin from too much sun damage. Look at our previous blog post for some fun places to hike in San Diego.

  • Scavenger Hunts

This is a great activity for kids that takes some preparation, but can be a world of fun for you and your little ones! Make sure to include some healthy tips and facts in the scavenger hunt so that your kids will not only have fun, but also learn important nutritional education. This activity can be done indoors or outdoors, so it’s a great idea no matter what weather you may be experiencing


  • Martial Arts

Learning a new form of martial arts can be fun and informative as well. It not only helps the body and mind, but can also have the added benefit of helping people with conflict resolution. Don’t get me wrong, martial arts are not aimed at teaching you how to fight, but a good teacher will teach you how to handle conflicts without fighting. It will also give you the self-confidence and self-respect to achieve any goals you may have in life.

  • Beach Activities

When people think of summer, many people in San Diego think about the beach. Whether you decide to go swimming, explore the tide pools, or going boogie boarding, there are a ton of activities to do at the beach. And you don’t have to break the bank to have fun at the beach. And don’t forget to use sunscreen to reapply every now and then according to directions on the label!


These are just a few activities you can do during the summer. Have a great summer, and make sure to have fun while staying healthy!

Healthy and fast meals!

You may have found yourself overwhelmed by the idea of making a healthy dinner when you get home, especially if adults and children are hungry! Check out these easy meals that are guaranteed to be healthy and fast!

five minute dinners


You may have heard or read to “aim for 5 fruits and vegetable servings a day” – but what does that really look like? The goal of 5 servings a day may be closer than you think!


Speaking of getting our fruit and veggie servings in each day, one of the easiest ways to do that is with a healthy no-sugar-added smoothie. Check out these easy recipes that can be made in bulk and frozen in your favorite to-go cup!

perfect smoothie

Other easy options for getting your daily fruit and vegetable intake include to-go salads that can be made and kept in the refrigerator for a day or two before being used. Make sure to add any dressing or “wet” ingredients at the bottom, and you’re good to go!



Healthy Ideas for Spring

CHEAR Spring 2015

Ahh, the nose-tingling, allergy-inducing scent of spring… it’s just around the corner!

As much as you may want to stay snuggled up inside your winter hibernation jammies, allergies are no excuse for you to miss out on the healthy, invigorating opportunities the spring season has to offer.

Did You Know?

Since there are multiple ways of delineating the seasons, spring is perceived to begin on different days all around the world. In the U.S., the official calendar first day of spring is March 20th.

produce           basket of veg

In-Season Produce

Head on over to your local farmer’s market now that the season for abundant produce is drawing closer. Spring is the best season to fully-fledgedly embark on that trip toward healthy eating!

Ever heard of a Cherimoya? What about purple asparagus? Did you think watercress was a just a weed or could only be used as a garnish? Let’s take a look at all of these wonderful ingredients and more. It’s time to get your fruit and veggie on!



Got some leftover cauliflower after trying out our delicious cauliflower-crust pizza recipe?

This warm and delicious watercress and cauliflower soup makes for a nice transition from winter to spring during those colder days:

Substitute the butter with a couple teaspoons of olive or canola oil and you have a healthy, spring-time appetizer. Slowly simmer any leftover soup with some cooked brown rice and chopped chicken breast on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes and you have a quick and easy makeshift risotto for dinner!

watercress soup

Snow Peas

snow peas

Don’t be fooled by their sneaky little name! Rather than being a winter vegetable, snow peas begin to reach the peak of yummy perfection around the months of March and April.


Here’s a quick and easy recipe for a warm chicken and snow pea salad:

snow peas dish

The trick is to remember not to overcook the snow peas once they are transferred to the pot.

Because the recipe calls for chopping them into slivers, they have the potential to easily be over-cooked and can turn mushy and brown as a result.

Keep a close eye on them when you place them into the pot and turn off the stove after a few minutes to maintain the crunchiness and naturally sweet flavor of the snow peas.

Healthy Cooking Tip

The key to healthy cooking is flavor, flavor, FLAVOR!

Low-fat and low-calorie options don’t necessary have to taste bland; when you substitute high-calorie ingredients with the low or fat-free, low-calorie options, you can amp up spices and background flavor profiles to maintain the tastiness of the recipe.

For example, when you take butter out of a savory recipe, you can replace it with olive oil as well as some minced garlic to satisfy your taste buds.

For desserts, if heavy cream is substituted with fat-free milk, try adding a few dashes of vanilla extract to evoke that creamy flavoring.

You can experiment with different flavors and see which ones work best for you!

White, Green, & Purple Asparagus

asparagus colors

Did you know that asparagus came in three different colors? Now’s the time to incorporate them into your colorful salads and stir-fries!



Also known as the “custard apple,” cherimoya have the unique taste of a banana and an apple combined. Each bite is composed of a fluffy, condensed sweetness that melts on your tongue. Pop a few in the freezer and eat with a spoon for an instant fruity ice cream!




Rhubarb is known to be one of the best weight-loss ingredients due to its extraordinarily low calorie content. It also packs a punch in nutrition with its high amounts of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, B complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, and much more. Known for its versatility, rhubarb can star in a bunch of dishes, both sweet and savory.

For dessert, forget the unhealthy rhubarb pies and cheesecakes—

Checkout this delightful strawberry rhubarb chia pudding recipe from Kitchen Konfidence!


strawberry-rhubarb chia pudding

Strawberry-Rhubarb Chia Pudding

Far from being unhealthy, this low-calorie dessert option is packed with wholesome ingredients and features pudding made from chia seeds, ubiquitous for their high fiber and protein content.

The ingredients promote heart health and aid in healthy weight loss, and is even filling enough to throw in your bag for a quick, yet hearty breakfast!


Click here for a comprehensive list of the in-season produce for the spring months:

Happy exploring!

Happy Trails

It’s almost spring, which means there’s no better time to get outside and get active!   San Diego has a variety of trails for hikers at all levels of experience.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

This network of trails offers sweeping views of the Pacific with easy access.   In the winter, you might catch a glimpse of California grey whales; in the spring, wildflowers. Try the Razor Point (1.3 miles) or Guy Fleming Trail (.7 miles) for a leisurely walk, or take the more popular and moderate Beach Trail (1.7 miles) with access to the sand.

Torrey Pines

For more information:

Iron Mountain Summit Trail

The Iron Mountain Trail is located in Poway.   This 6.4 mile boulder- lined trail begins somewhat flat, but soon ascends into a moderate climb to the summit, where you will be rewarded with a panoramic view.

For more information:

Iron Mountain

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

This array of trails near Julian has everything from waterfalls, wildflowers, oak woodland forests, meadows, creeks, and expansive views, and is located just an hour outside the city. Try the Azalea Glen Trail (3.6 miles), which follows a year-round stream, or take the 3.5 mile route on the Lookout Fire Road to Cuyamaca Peak, which has an exceptional 360 degree view of the desert, coast, and Salton Sea.

For more information:


Happy Trails!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

cauliflower pizza pic

Have you ever heard of cauliflower pizza crust before? It’s a great substitute for the regular pizza dough. Because of the properties of cauliflower, this recipe is lower in calories and carbohydrates, and is higher in fiber, folate and vitamin C.


  • 1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and broken into small florets
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Meyer lemons or 1 large regular lemon
  • 6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup green or black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil

Makes: 4 servings               Serving Size: 1 slice              Active Time: 40 minutes       Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes   Equipment: Parchment paper

basil olives  egg cheese

Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe by


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a pizza pan or rimless baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until reduced to rice-size crumbles. Transfer to a large nonstick skillet and add 1 tablespoon oil and salt. Heat over medium-high, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower begins to soften slightly (but don’t let it brown), 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool for at least 10 minutes. Squeeze all the excess moisture out by following the instructions on the next page.
  3. Meanwhile, with a sharp knife, remove the skin and white pith from the lemon(s) and discard. Working over a small bowl, cut the segments from the membranes, letting the segments drop into the bowl (remove seeds). Drain the juice from the segments (save for another use). Add tomatoes and olives to the lemon segments; toss to combine.
  4. Add egg, cheese and oregano to the cooled cauliflower; stir to combine. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, shaping into an even 10-inch round. Drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon oil over the top.
  5. Bake the pizza until the top begins to brown, 10 to 14 minutes. Scatter the lemon-olive mixture over the top, season with pepper, and continue to bake until nicely browned all over, 8 to 14 minutes more. Scatter basil over the top. Cut into wedges and serve

Don’t forget this important step!



  • Per serving: 200 calories
  • 14 g fat (4 g sat, 7 g mono)
  • 62 mg cholesterol
  • 9 g carbohydrates
  • 0 g added sugars
  • 2 g total sugars
  • 11 g protein
  • 3 g fiber
  • 475 mg sodium
  • 451 mg potassium
  • Vitamin C (94% of daily value)
  • Calcium (26% of daily value)
  • Folate (16% of daily value)

burned 1200 calories in oven

Cauliflower Fun Fact!

Did you know that cauliflower is grown between December and March?



Vitamins and Minerals: Part 1

Vitamins are important, but we can’t expect to get everything from a pill.  They should be used as a supplement to our food.  The best way to get all the nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and everything our body needs to survive is through a healthy diet.  Here are some helpful tips about vitamins when trying to increase the bioavailability within your food.  We’ll only touch a few vitamins and minerals this month, but come back to learn more about other vitamin and supplements!


There are two types of iron found in our food:  heme and non-heme iron.  Heme iron can be found in meat, fish, and poultry, while non-heme iron can be found generally in plants.  Have you tried to give blood, only to be denied since you didn’t have enough iron in your blood?  Women  usually have this problem.  You can double or triple your absorption of iron by introducing foods with Vitamin C in your diet!  Also keep in mind that calcium and iron can have an antagonistic effect to each other.  This mainly applies when you’re taking them as a supplement, so make sure to have them at different times during the day.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin.  It has many benefits to our body, such as protection from free radicals that can damage cell DNA.  It also helps strengthen your immune system, and can increase HDL cholesterol levels.  Vitamin C can be found easily in citrus fruits, strawberries, red and green peppers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, kale, and collard greens.


Calcium is important to bone health, but calcium ions are also used in muscle contractions, nerve signaling and the release of hormones.  If you don’t get enough, your body will take it from your bones, which can lead to osteoporosis.  Some sources of calcium are dairy products, legumes, almonds, salmon, sardines, blackstrap molasses and dark green, leafy vegetables.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential in calcium absorption.  It also has been known to help prevent cancer, type 1 diabetes, and other chronic illness.  On top of all that, it has been known to help boost the immune system in certain articles.  The best way to get Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight a few times per week, without sunscreen.  It can also be found in tuna and salmon, but you can also get it in fortified foods, like milk and cereal.  Remember that Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.  When taking fat soluble vitamins, try to eat foods rich in fiber later in the day.


The Many Benefits of Drinking Water

Sugar-sweetened beverages have received a lot of media attention lately. Several cities have proposed taxes on such drinks; with voters passing some and rejecting others. The reason behind the new “war on soda” is that research has shown a clear link between drinking these types of beverages and obesity. So, if sugar-sweetened beverages negatively impact your health, what are you supposed to drink? Water! Water has many health benefits including:

  • Drinking water helps you eat less calories
  • Drinking water helps burn fat
  • Drinking water is associated with weight loss in adults
  • Drinking water has been shown to prevent weight gain in children
  • Drinking water also helps your skin stay healthy

Here are some ways to increase your water intake

  • If your tap water at home has a metallic or other funny taste, get a home filter instead of buying bottled water (This will save you money and time!)
  • Bring a reusable bottle with you wherever you go. Filling it up at restaurants or public fountains is safe and free!
  • Set a goal to drink a certain amount of water every day and give yourself a little reward when you meet your goal



  1. Stookey, J. D. (2010). Drinking water and weight management. Nutrition Today,45(6), S7-S12.

All things Autumn!

Autumn is here, which often signals the start of the “everything pumpkin” season. While we encourage you to enjoy all your pumpkin fall favorites, remember there are lots of other fruits and vegetables in season this time of year. Take a look at the list below to find out what’s fresh at your local grocery or farmer’s market this fall. We’ve also included a few healthy recipe tips to incorporate the fresh produce to help you break out of the “everything pumpkin” rut.


  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Chicory
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Okra
  • Oranges
  • Parsnips
  • Pears (late season)
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • Quince
  • Shallots
  • Star fruit
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Watercress
  • Winter squash

Recipe Ideas:

 Sweet Potato Chips Oct Blog

Spiced Sweet Potato Chips (from Women’s Health)       

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled (12 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut the potato into very thin slices. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. Arrange the slices on the sheets in a single layer, and lightly coat the slices with cooking spray. Bake for 7 minutes, or until they’ve barely started to brown. Remove, turn them over, return to the oven, and bake 7 to 10 more minutes until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl, and repeat remaining potato slices.
  1. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cumin, sugar, chili powder, and salt. Pour over the chips, toss well, and serve.

Calories per serving: 138

Brussel Spout Oct Blog                                                                 

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts (from Whole Foods Market)

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  1. Toss Brussels sprouts with oil, salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, crisp outside and tender inside, 30 to 35 minutes. The leaves that are loose will be especially brown and crispy.
  1. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Nutritional Info Per Serving:110 calories (70 from fat), 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 320mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (4g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 4g protein

More Brussel Sprout Recipe Ideas: (Whole Foods Market)

Rosemary Parmesan Brussels Sprouts
Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary to Brussels sprouts before roasting. During the last 5 minutes of roasting, add 1/4 cup pine nuts. Stir well and continue roasting until Brussels sprouts are tender. Before serving, toss with 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese.

Cranberry Pecan Brussels Sprouts
During the last 5 minutes of roasting, add 1 cup dried cranberries and 1/4 cup pecan pieces. Stir well and continue roasting until Brussels sprouts are tender.

Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad
After roasting, allow Brussels sprouts to cool to room temperature. Toss with 4 cups baby kale mix, 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese and 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette.

 Cranberry Fig Relish

Cranberry Fig Relish (from Cooking Light)

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 4 oranges)
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 12-ounces of fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted


  1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Add sugars and cranberries. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until mixture is slightly thick and berries pop, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cool slightly. Stir in pecans.
  4. Cover and chill.

Nutrition Information: 128 calories per serving (serving size: ¼ cup)

Other tips: Add cranberry fig relish to turkey sandwiches for a pre-Thanksgiving treat!

Can’t get enough of that pumpkin goodness? Check out these 11 pumpkin-tanstic recipes from Cooking Light.

pumpkins oct blog

What’s for Dinner?

Ever come home from a long day at work and wonder “what on earth am I going to make for dinner?”. Or participate in a CSA box program and think “how am I supposed to use three pounds of beets?”. While the temptation to order take-out or dine out for dinner may be high, studies show that people consume 10% more calories when eating restaurant prepared food versus cooking at home. So how do you make a meal with a hodgepodge of ingredients that can be both healthy and fast? Try using a recipe generator online or in app form that can take the ingredients you already have in your home and kitchen and turn them into a delicious, healthy meal! Here are a few of our favorite places to enter ingredients and get new recipes.

NY Times Farmer’s Market Recipe Generator

This website lets you choose an ingredient, a cooking style, and an herb, then spits out a recipe using all three components. Delicious combinations like Strawberry-Orange soup and Cucumber Salad with Scallops can be found here. Feel like grilling tonight? Use that cooking style! Or have you been neglecting the oven for far too long? Just enter that into the combination and sit back, relax, and enjoy the recipe. With so many options, the possibilities are endless!

The advanced recipe generator at can tailor your weeknight dinner or weekend brunch to meet a range of dietary needs and restrictions. You can even limit the recipes by prep time and cooking style! Try it today!

Dinner in 15 Minutes Flat from Real Simple

In just two easy steps, this website provides recipes based on main ingredients and the type of dish you want to prepare. Just pick the pictures and you are one click away from a delicious meal in just 15 minutes! Or if you are feeling extra adventurous, choose the “surprise me” option for main dish and/or cooking style! A quick, easy dinner with the ingredients you already have? Who could say no to that?

Have you ever tried using a recipe generator in the past? How did the dish turn out? We’d love to hear from you! Post your stories and recipe ideas below! Happy creating!