Guest Blogger: Keeping a Healthy Mindset While on Vacation

Cole Millen is an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life’s best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate “experiences.”

Taking a much-needed vacation is one of the great pleasures of life. Time away from the stress of work and your regular routine is a good thing. However, that very break in your routine can present some pitfalls to be avoided. For example, you may find yourself eating unhealthy foods in large amounts. Let’s look at a few ways to eat healthy so that your vacation does not end up with you packing on the pounds.

Bring snacks

Bring your own snack on the plane or for that road trip. This makes it less likely you will stop at a convenience store or vending machine for unhealthy snacks. Some great choices for healthy snacks are trail mix, unbuttered popcorn, apples, hummus, granola, plums, and pears. You will want to eat fresh produce before traveling to an international destination to avoid running afoul of customs regulations.


Picking the Right Hotel

While it is often overlooked, picking the right hotel can be the most important aspect of remaining healthy on vacation. After all, you are living there during your stay. For this reason, make sure that the hotel you choose has all the appropriate amenities and offerings to ensure that you can maintain your lifestyle even while away. The best way to do this is to read reviews from other travelers regarding the different aspects of the hotel and area. On my recent trip to Sin City I found a great site that listed the reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding not only their amenities and services, but also the restaurants nearby along with things to do. This type of information from people that have experienced it first makes it so much easier to plan ahead and have an enjoyable vacation without having to stress about how to stay healthy.

Avoid splurging

It may sound obvious, but it can be easy to not pay attention to eating only when we are truly hungry. There are so many opportunities to eat during your vacation that you can get out of a healthy mindset very easily. Just try to notice when you are no longer hungry and stop eating at that point. But an occasional indulgence is just fine. It is a vacation after all.

Thinking of eating out as a special reward usually leads to overindulging. In turn, this gives you permission to eat too much. This attitude probably comes from the fact that eating out is relatively rare for many people.

One way to avoid this tendency is by eating smaller portions. You should also keep in mind that many restaurants give you generous portions. You can eat a good-sized meal at the restaurant and bring home what you don’t eat. Many hotels offer fridges where you can keep your extra food for lunch the following day. If not, just bring back items that will not spoil.

Food choices

Try and pick the healthy choices and avoid fried foods and foods with lots of carbs. These types of foods are calorie-dense and not good for your heart. If you are eating bread, go for the whole grain variety. This type of bread will prevent blood sugar spikes that lead to weight gain and increase your risk of developing diseases like diabetes. Make sure that you are going for choices like grilled chicken and salmon. These will provide you with a delicious meal while also nourishing your body with the right nutrients.

Walking is a great way to burn off calories from your meal. It is also something that fits right in with a vacation. You can scout out some sights that you might otherwise have missed, all while getting in some exercise. You can also burn extra calories by carrying your own luggage, taking the stairs instead of the elevator.


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Caramel Chews

Wow it has been a while since I have updated this blog! I have been a little busy between school and a new internship that I just started. I am interning with a non-profit organization teaching low-income housing families how to cook nutritious meals and live healthy lifestyles. We will also start gardening in the spring, which I am very excited for! Hopefully I can write about some stories from my internship.

Anyway, in my apartment we have a candy jar.



And since we usually buy candy to fill the jar (or pumpkin) I decided it would be fun to make candy!

My favorite caramel candy recipe is from Martha Stewart and can be found here.

Warning: This recipe makes a LOT of caramels, at least 100.

This is the recipe (from Martha Stewart Living, December 2012, with a few modifications)

Vegetable oil, for baking sheet

2 cups heavy cream

2 1/4 cups sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/4 cups light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



1. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking sheet or dish. It is important that it has a rim. Line bottom and sides with parchment and brush the parchment paper with oil.

2. Boil cream, sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally ONLY until the sugar dissolves. Then- no more stirring. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the caramel reaches 248 degrees on a candy thermometer.

photo 1

3. Immediately remove the caramel from the heat and quickly stir in salt and vanilla. Pour into the baking sheet and let stand for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until you can pick up the parchment out of the baking dish without the caramel bending and wrinkling.

photo 3

4. Transfer into a cutting board and with a large heavy knife, cut into 3/4 by 1 1/4 inch pieces. Wrap individually with wax paper.

photo 4

Some important tips for this recipe:

1. Make sure you don’t stir the caramel once the sugar is dissolved. As tempting as it is, it will cause crystallization of the caramel and you will not end up with a smooth caramel at the end.

2. Use a large pot. The cream mixture will bubble up a LOT in the beginning.

3. Watch the thermometer and make sure it does not go over 248 degrees. Work quickly once it does. Test your thermometer with boiling water to make sure it is accurate. Boiling water should be exactly 212 degrees.

4. Measure out your salt and vanilla BEFORE your caramel is boiling. This allows you to work quickly once your caramel reaches the correct temperature.

5. Be careful. The sugar will take a while to cool down and will definitely burn you if you touch it too soon.

6. If you read the original Martha Stewart recipe, you will notice that she recommends letting the caramel sit for at least eight hours before cutting it into pieces. I started cutting as soon as I could lift the caramel out of the baking dish without it bending and wrinkling and I found it to be very easy to cut. By the end of my cutting, the caramel had hardened and was very difficult to cut through. It turned out fine to start cutting early.

7. Cleaning up caramel is a pain. See my tip at the end of this post for how to clean it up easily.


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Happy fall!

Tip of the day: like any baked custard, if your pumpkin pie cracks it’s overcooked!



P.S. I will be receiving a SlimKicker fitness tracker in the mail in March or April that records my exercise and movements. I will write a review of it on this blog. For a sneak peak of what SlimKicker is all about, visit this website. Does anyone already use any kind of fitness tracker? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Chai Ice Cream

I recently moved into a new apartment and as a housewarming gift, my mother bought me the Kitchenaid ice cream maker attachment! I made coffee ice cream a few weeks ago, but today’s recipe is for chai tea ice cream. This recipe is adapted from the Institute of Culinary Education’s recipe book. I have so many great ice cream recipes from culinary school, eventually I’ll get around to making all of them at home. This recipe is for a custard based ice cream, so it melts very quickly once taken out of the freezer. But it tastes great!

1 quart whole milk

7 oz heavy cream

1 oz chai tea

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

10 egg yolks


1. Heat milk, heavy cream, and half of the sugar. Steep tea in milk mixture for five minutes. Strain and reheat. The sugar should be dissolved.

2. Beat together egg yolks and the other half of the sugar. Tip: make sure you don’t let the sugar rest on top of the egg yolks for any length of time before mixing them together, this will dry out the yolks!

3. Temper the eggs into the milks mixture. Heat on low, stirring constantly with a wooden or heat-resistant plastic spoon until it reaches creme anglaise-consistency. If you drop about half a teaspoon of the custard onto the counter and run your finger through it, the sides shouldn’t come together again right away.

4. Strain and transfer the custard to another container in an ice bath. You need to cool down the mixture as quickly as possible, so stirring while it is in the ice bath will help.

5. Let it rest in the fridge overnight. Be patient! This develops the flavor of the ice cream. Plus, the mixture needs to be really cold when you put it into an ice cream machine.

6. Day 2: Follow the directions on your ice cream maker to turn your batter into ice cream!

Pouring the batter into the ice cream mixer.

Almost done! The ice cream is done when it has expanded to fill the bowl and it has soft-serve consistency.

The ice cream is done! It melts very quickly, though. Now it needs to sit in the freezer for a few hours to harden. The ice cream maker makes about 2 quarts of ice cream per batch.

Finished product

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the ice cream maker, although once frozen the ice cream is a bit icy. I made all of these kinds of ice cream at school with a difference ice cream machine so it isn’t an issue with the batter. It works well enough for me though.


On another note, I have been receiving a decent number of e-mails about guest blogging ever since my last post, which was written by a guest author. I would just like to stress that I am happy to host guest articles if they are relevant to the subject of my blog. However, I am requesting that they are written exclusively for my blog only. I will not be re-publishing posts from other people’s blogs just to promote their site. Sorry I have to write this for everyone to see on my blog, but with the number of e-mails I have been getting, it has become a problem. Still, if you are interested in guest blogging or having me guest blog for your site, send me an e-mail or fill out my contact form here!

Thanks for reading!


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What a Healthy Diet Can Do for a Cancer Patient

I was recently contacted by Jillian, the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. She expressed interest in guest-writing for my blog. Here is her article, a brief introduction to the importance of proper nutrition for someone who is fighting cancer.

Proper nutrition can complement your cancer treatment in many different ways.  Many people already know that eating the right foods and living on a balanced diet are both helpful ways to be healthier overall.  For cancer patients, having the proper nutrition can help in the healing process and give the body vital nutrients that it craves.  You will first want to know what proper nutrition is and what it can do for the body in general.  From there, you will want to speak with your doctor to find out if you are able to make these types of changes to your diet.

Healthy foods contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that all aid the body and its healing process.  Vegetables and fruits that are fresh and organic can give you a nice boost of vitamins that your body needs.  As a cancer patient, you have a compromised immune system that causes you to get sick easier than someone without this medical ailment.  It only makes sense to provide the body with vitamins and nutrients that all help to build the immune system so that it has a fighting chance while you are seeking traditional radiation therapy with your doctor.

Along with an extra boost of vitamins, the proper diet can also give you increased energy as well as a greater sense of wellbeing.  When you are eating well, you normally will find that you feel good as well.  Fruits and vegetables are also very low in calories, which means that you can eat a lot of them to come up to the calorie amount that is recommended by your doctor.  The energy you get from these foods is also thanks to the vitamins and nutrients.  You will also find that your body heals quicker after you go for traditional treatment for your mesothelioma or other type of cancer.

You should definitely speak with your doctor first before you begin making major changes to your diet.  As a cancer patient, your body needs to get used to things first before making large changes.  You will want to talk to your doctor about incorporating healthier foods into your diet and what these foods can do for you.  Most medical professionals will put you on a relatively strict diet plan that may incorporate these types of foods.  It does not hurt to discuss your diet with your healthcare professional in the office.

Having a greater sense of wellbeing and increased energy throughout the day is key to conquering cancer.  Proper nutrition will not get rid of cancer or cure your body, but it can complement the routine treatment that you are seeking because nutrients help in the healing process.  Once you speak with your doctor, you will be able to figure out which foods are right for you and which ones to avoid if you are looking to become healthier and more vibrant.  There is nothing wrong with trying to have a more healthful diet that is good for you and the body.

Here is a link to more of Jillian’s articles, and click here to read her bio.

Thanks to Jillian for the article! if anyone else is interested in guest posting while I am a bit MIA (working about 11 hours per day with no time to write or experiment with recipes) click here to contact me!


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Grilled Beer BBQ Ribs

This weekend we finally had some great weather, so after coming back from the beach in Rhode Island, I grilled some beer barbecue ribs!

First, I marinated a full rack of ribs in beer, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper for 24 hours.

Then I boiled the ribs for half an hour in the marinade mixed with enough water to cover the meat.

Then they were sprinkled with salt and pepper, brushed with a little barbecue sauce, and grilled.

I hope you all got to enjoy the nice weather!

Emma from “Summer Nanny” has some great tips for grilling foods that kids will love. Click here to read her post!


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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 c powdered sugar

4 tbsp salted butter (or unsalted with a pinch of salt)

1/2 c brown sugar

1 c chocolate chips (or I used 1/2 cup peanut butter chips and 1/2 cup chocolate)

Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar in an electric mixer until combined.

Melt butter in a saucepan, add brown sugar and take off heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has cooled a bit. Pour slowly into cream cheese while mixer is on a low speed.

Mix until combined, add chocolate chips, mix until evenly distributed.

Keep refrigerated, but take it out of the fridge a few minutes before serving to let it soften a bit.

Serve with animal crackers, graham crackers, or pretzels.


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