Family First » buffet Servings Families Online since 1998 Fri, 02 Oct 2015 20:25:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 9 Tips for Beating the Winter Work-Out Blahs Mon, 08 Nov 2010 15:10:23 +0000 post thumbnail

Ok, now it’s dark at 5:00 pm thanks to Daylight Savings Time expiring for most of the country. It’s getting cold and you are having some trouble finding the energy to get up and go for your workout routine.

No more bathing suits at the pool to keep you motivated. Now, you just want to stay covered up in bed and keep snoozing away. And the worst part – here come the holidays! The huge meals, the buffets, the parties, the drinking…

How are you going to stay motivated?

Psychologist Dr. Jim Taylor offers these nine pointers for you to keep moving (or get moving) even during the cold, dark days of winter.

Taylor is a specialist and consultant in many aspects of sports, from the recreational “jogger mom” to the world’s most elite athletes. He has written extensively about the psychology of sports, business and parenting.

Here are his tips:

  • Find something fun – since the sidewalks may be slushy and the gyms are full, find an activity you’ll enjoy like joining a sports league such as indoor soccer or volleyball. Join a class such as yoga, aerobics or a new kind of dance. Learn a new sport like squash or racquetball.
  • Find a friend – getting motivated as a team can be much more successful for both of you. You have someone to talk to while you work out, to keep you motivated or at the very least, Taylor says, to commiserate with about how cold and dark it really is. If you commit to a workout with someone else, it’s not as easy to hit the snooze button and skip the workout.
  • Set a goal – maybe it’s to lose weight, lift a heavier weight or compete in an up-coming event such as a race or a tournament.  Having something to work toward is a greater motivator. “You need a darned good reason to work out during the winter and ‘general health and fitness’ is perhaps too nebulous to get you going,” writes Taylor.
  • Get out of your head – Taylor says the hardest part of working out is actually the simple thought of doing it – as opposed to that activity itself. He says rarely is it as bad as you think it will be, but you can really hinder your motivation when all you think about is how sweaty and tired you’re going to feel. Instead, he says, think about how great you’ll feel when you’re finished, how much energy you’ll have and how you’re getting closer to that goal you set.
  • Stick to a schedule – You need to set a specific time to work out as opposed to trying to make it fit into your life, because it won’t.  Otherwise, you’ll find you are too tired, busy or stressed to find time. Taylor says to make sure you don’t over-schedule yourself and make sure it’s convenient – such as on the way home from work. Think about it like eating or showering – you’re not going to skip those, right?
  • Everything in moderation – and that’s not just for exercising. Taylor says during this season of parties, open bars, buffets and big meals, make sure you don’t over eat, drink too much or stay out too late because you will definitely be more likely to skip your workouts when you’re tired or hung over.  Restrain yourself at the buffet or bar – just because it’s free doesn’t mean you need to go crazy. Also, you don’t need to be the last one out the door of a party – have fun but get home in time to get a good night’s rest.
  • Setbacks happen – it’s not the end of the world if you decide to sleep in; just don’t let that ruin your motivation forever. One day is ok. Taylor says the most important thing is to be consistent and know it’s just one day – you’ll get back at it tomorrow. Recommit.
  • Exercise before and after you indulge – use the event to help motivate you to work out. Go before you attend so you can enjoy your time, knowing what you’ve already accomplished. Then work out afterwards (or the next morning) to make sure you stay on track.
  • It’s ok to live a little – it is the holidays, after all. Time with family and friends is also good for you. Just know you may exercise a little less and eat a little more but if you follow the other tips above, you’ll get right back at it soon enough.

Finally, Taylor points out feeling a little blue in the winter is very common. There is even a psychiatric designation called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) associated with these feelings.

Taylor says about half a million people a year are affected by SAD and the vast majority are women. Symptoms include lethargy, sleepiness, weight gain and craving comfort foods. The good news is that SAD only happens seasonally and goes away as soon as spring returns. If you cannot shake the feelings, though, Taylor recommends seeking professional help.

About Dr. Jim Taylor

(from his website) Dr. Jim Taylor is internationally recognized for his work in the psychology of performance in business, parenting, and sport.

Dr. Taylor is the author or lead editor of ten books, including Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child, Your Children are Under Attack: How Popular Culture is Destroying Your Kids’ Values, and How You Can Protect Them, The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training, and Applied Sport Psychology: Four Perspectives, the Prime Sport book series, Psychology of Dance, Psychological Approaches for Sports Injury Rehabilitation, and Comprehensive Sports Injury Management.

Learn more about Dr. Taylor and his work at

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17 Safe Food Tips to Keep Your Holidays Bright Tue, 02 Nov 2010 16:18:03 +0000 post thumbnail

The upcoming holidays can be crazy if you are hosting dinner.

A houseful of people, food, drinks, football, chaos.

How do you make sure you keep everything running smoothly and safely for everyone?

Safety expert Debra Holtzman gives us her tips for keeping your family and your guests safe with everything going on during holiday gathering.

Holtzman stresses that holidays are for being together as family and celebrating traditions.  She says these tips can help make your time together safe but enjoy your time. Don’t worry about calories – take a family walk together or shop it off on Black Friday!

  • Instead of cracking open the can of cranberry sauce (which has a shelf-life of 12-18 months), why not head to the farmer’s market and shop together for fresh cranberries? It makes a great family memory (and possibly the start of a tradition) and also uses fresh, locally-grown produce free of pesticides.
  • With that, Holtzman points out that “organic” simply means grown without synthetic pesticides – organic produce still needs to be washed as it can carry bacteria on the outside of the fruit or vegetable. She recommends scrubbing any produce with a brush under running water before cutting. If there is bacteria, such as Salmonella, on the outside, when you cut into the produce, you will bring the bacteria to the part you are going to eat, which can cause illness.
  • In order to prevent  cross-contamination from meat, poultry and seafood juices, Holtzman recommends using two different cutting boards – either plastic or wood – to keep fruit, vegetables and breads separate from any meats you need to cut up. She prefers cutting boards that can be put in the dishwasher for cleaning. If your boards have deep grooves in them, consider replacing them since the grooves can harbor harmful bacteria.
  • Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly between handling any food products, glasses or utensils. She recommends not just soap but also a nail brush to get under your fingernails and sing the alphabet song (A, B, C, D…) at least once to make sure you’ve scrubbed long enough.
  • For safe handling of your turkey, Holtzman recommends checking out the website for tips such as defrosting and safe stuffing in the bird. Cook the bird to 165°F throughout, which means you should use a meat thermometer all over the bird to test it.
  • If you decide to deep-fry your turkey this year, she recommends checking out the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for strict safety tips as having a large vat of hot oil is pretty dangerous…
  • She prefers cooking stuffing outside of the bird for safety reasons. If you do choose to put it in the bird, please measure the temperature of this also and make sure it reaches 165°F as well.
  • Always make sure your cider or juice has been pasteurized. If you are unsure, you can boil it for 1 minute and let it cool before serving.
  • If you are going to make your own eggnog, Holtzman recommends buying eggs that have been pasteurized in the shell, which means they have been heated high enough to kill bacteria but not cook the egg. You can tell if you eggs have been pasteurized if there is a P with a circle around it stamped on the egg. She prefers Davidson brand eggs for this. If you buy your eggnog from the store, it will be pasteurized already.
  • Use the “2-Hour Rule” for platters as any food left out over 2 hours can have a harmful amount of bacteria. Use chafing dishes, crock pots or warming trays for foods that need to stay warm. Use bowls nested in other bowls of ice for things that need to stay cool. Chips, crackers and popcorn don’t have the 2-hour rule as they are not perishable.
  • For other buffet safety tips, check out an earlier post about holiday food safety from Holtzman here.
  • If you know any of your guests have allergies, you can usually find special foods in your grocery store. Holtzman recommends speaking to the store manager if you can’t find a specific item and they will usually special order it for you. Make sure you take care of this in advance in case it takes a day or two to get the item.
  • For leftovers, refrigerate within 2 hours and if you know you won’t eat it soon, freeze the food in single-serve containers for easy defrosting and serving.  Remove the meat from the bird before storing. Anything you freeze should stay tasty for a couple of months.
  • In terms of clean up, make sure you replace your sponges frequently and wash any kitchen towels in hot water. When you are cleaning up from meat juices, use paper towels to prevent bacteria from getting spread around from your sponge or towel.
  • Don’t forget to wipe off the salt and pepper shakers especially if you are using them while cooking. Also, wipe off the lids of any jars you get out.
  • Your sink is the dirtiest place in the whole house – even dirtier than your bathroom. Make sure to clean your sink thoroughly with hot water and soap.  
  • Holtzman likes using vinegar and other green solutions for cleaning. She also recommends looking on the website for cleaning solutions, including diluted bleach for disinfecting.
  • Don’t use the phone when you are cooking as you can contaminate your phone with dirty hands – let it go to voicemail and call them back when you are finished touching food.

With these tips, your holidays can be fun and sickness-free. To check out her other safety tips for all over the house, please read Holtzman’s book The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living    (Sentient Publications, 2009) and her website at

About Debra Holtzman

Debra Holtzman has a law degree, an M.A. in occupational health and safety (OSHA) and is an award-winning parenting author and a mom. In addition to practicing law, Debra has worked as a safety and health consultant and has inspected numerous plants and factories for hazardous working conditions and practices. Debra also teaches infant and toddler safety and CPR at a regional hospital and is a certified child passenger safety technician.

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11 Food Safety Tips for the Holiday Entertaining Season Thu, 14 Oct 2010 13:44:51 +0000 post thumbnail

With just a little over two weeks until Halloween, the Fall party season is getting going. Time for costume parties and pumpkin carving, Thanksgiving get-togethers and Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s feasts!

Safety and health expert Debra Holtzmanoffers us these safe food tips to keep anyone from picking up some kind little bug and ruining their holiday. Holtzman is also the author of “The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living” (Sentient Publications, 2009).

According to her data, almost a quarter of the American population will suffer some form of food-borne illness in any year with approximately 5,000 people dying from their illness.

Here are her 11 tips to keep your entertaining fun and safe for friends, family and even your pets.

  • For baking pumpkins, keep them in a cool, dry spot until you are ready to use them. Once you have cut the shell, cover and refrigerate the pumpkin. Once you are ready to use the pumpkin, you can make soup, bake a pie or bake it like a vegetable. And don’t forget to roast those seeds – they’re healthy and make a tasty snack. (PS – don’t eat your jack o’lantern. Once you carve it, it becomes a powerhouse for bacteria. Throw it out as soon as possible after Halloween.)
  • Buy pasteurized cider or juice. The pasteurization process kills bacteria. If you don’t know if your cider or juice has been pasteurized, Holtzman suggests boiling it for a minute and let it cool before serving.
  • Always buy pasteurized eggs so then you can lick the spoon when you are making your batter. Eggs that are unpasteurized can contain Salmonella, one of the leading causes of food borne illness.
  • If your family makes a trip to the orchard, remember to pick the apples off the tree, not the ground. If they hit the ground, they can become contaminated. Remember to wash your produce with running water before you cut it, cook it or eat it.
  • If you offer platters of food at your parties, don’t let them sit out longer than 2 hours. Holtzman suggests using small platters and refilling them with fresh food often.
  • Keep hot dishes at 140°F or warmer by using slow cookers, warming trays or chafing dishes. For cold dishes, nest them in trays of ice to keep them 40°F or colder, and safe.
  • Don’t store custard pies at room temperature; put them in the refrigerator. Custard pies include pumpkin and lemon meringue, among others.
  • Don’t bake potatoes that have sprouted or are green. Holtzman says they contain solanine which can give you gastrointestinal problems. Also, refrigerate your baked potatoes once they are no longer hot to avoid botulism.
  • If you are serving anything chocolate, make sure your pet doesn’t get a hold of any of it. Chocolate can be fatal in high doses for animals. It contains theobromine, a substance similar to caffeine, which can also be toxic to pets. Baker’s chocolate is the most dangerous kind of chocolate. Other foods to avoid allowing your pets to have include garlic, avocado, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts and sugarless chewing gum or anything containing xylitol.
  • If you are serving alcoholic drinks, make sure to remove all the empty and partially empty cups as soon as you can. Spiked drinks and even the ice cubes can give a child or pet a dangerous amount of alcohol, even in very small amounts.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to a safe level. To find out about any food recalls or safety alerts, check out

About Debra Holtzman

Debra Holtzman has a law degree, an M.A. in occupational health and safety (OSHA) and is an award-winning parenting author and mom. In addition to practicing law, Debra has worked as a safety and health consultant and has inspected numerous plants and factories for hazardous working conditions and practices.

She has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, Weekend Today, Dateline, ABC News, Discovery Health Channel, and Martha Stewart Living Radio.  She was named an “Everyday Hero” by Reader’s Digest and a “Woman Making a Difference” by Family Circle Magazine . Her empowering new book, The Safe Baby: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living” (Sentient Publications, 2009) provides lots of money savings tips and easy-to-implement solutions to create a safe, healthy, and green-living lifestyle for children and pets. It also shows you how to get back to the basics of childrearing.

Debra also teaches infant and toddler safety and CPR at a regional hospital and is a certified child passenger safety technician. Visit her site at

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