A New Celiac’s Fight for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving


By:  Joella Baker

This will be my first holiday going gluten-free.  I’m actually excited about the naturally gluten-free items that I plan to include in my Thanksgiving.  I love food and I love to eat and I especially love my Thanksgiving favorites. Just because now I’m gluten-free doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the holiday like everyone else.  I just may have to be a little more careful.  [Read more…]

Staying Fit when You’re Back in School 


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By:  Joella Baker


Staying active throughout the school year is tough for those kids who don’t participate in organized sports.  Summer is a great time to be out swimming, riding bikes and just being outside. [Read more…]

Exercise and Diet: Myths and Facts to Help You Succeed

By:  Joella Baker

I’m always hearing people talk about the different diets they are trying and ways they plan to lose weight, lose it fast and keep it off.    The truth is there is no easy way to do this.   If you really want to lose weight and have it last, it takes the following… [Read more…]

The Worst Holiday Foods to Eat

banner By:  Joella Baker

For most of us, food is one of the center points of the holiday season.  It’s so tough to have the willpower to say no.  Worst of all, we always think that we will just have a small piece and it won’t be too bad.  Unfortunately, the holiday favorites are by far the most calorie, fat and sugar packed foods we will have in front of us all year.  If you choose to indulge, then I recommend you have a solid exercise plan in place to burn the extra calories.

Ten common holiday foods you should eat or drink sparingly or try to avoid completely this holiday season: 

  1. Pecan pie:  One of the most fattening foods on our list. One slice is more than 500 calories, 37 grams of fat, and 26 grams of sugar. Try pumpkin pie instead, it is much lower in overall fat and calories, skip the whipped cream and it’s even lower. 
  2. Spinach and artichoke dip:  A staple at most holiday parties, has two very nutritious veggies, spinach and artichokes but also has mayonnaise, sour cream and cream cheese.  By making a few changes to the recipe, you can cut the calories by almost half.  Use low-fat cream cheese and skip the sour cream all together and add in some goat cheese. Use carrots and celery to dip and you have a great alternative. 
  3. Candied Yams:  Sweet potatoes are a superfood. Unfortunately, adding a couple cups of sugar to candy the yams and a ton of butter and you add over 400 calories to your plate. Trim down the sugar and butter by half.  You’ll still have a sweet treat and you can actually taste the sweet potato.
  4. Cheesecake:  Cheesecakes are a heart attack on a plate.  The average cheesecake has 700 calories and 29 grams of fat. You would need to hike vigorously for two hours or take a hard one-hour spin class to get rid of the calories in one slice.  Go back to the pumpkin pie or even apple pie. 
  5. Glazed ham:  Ham is a vitamin-rich lean meat. It’s also one of the most sodium-rich foods on a Christmas menu.  Six ounces of ham contains 1,760 milligrams of sodium and six grams of sugar.  Just take one slice instead of the 3 or 4 you typically put on your plate. 
  6. Sugar cookies:  You can’t have a Christmas without buttery sugar cookies.  They are Santa’s favorite and most kids favorites.  So adults, save the cookies for the kids and other adults and make another choice. Choose some fresh fruit and walk away from the cookies.
  7. Fruitcake:  A good fruitcake is an incredible treat, but extremely high in sugar.   Fruitcake can be very filling, so take a very small piece and enjoy every bite.  It will be tough not to go back for seconds, but that would require you to walk another hour to lose the calories. 
  8. Prime rib:  Unfortunately, it comes from the fattest part of the cow.  One piece of prime rib is around 750 calories and 45 grams of fat.  An eight-ounce serving also has 450 milligrams of cholesterol.  Opt for the beef tenderloin instead.  It’s leaner and lower in fat and just as good. 
  9. Green bean casserole with fried onions:  Green beans are great for you until you add cream of mushroom soup and those crunchy onion rings.  Once you do that, forget about the nutritional value.  One full batch has 785 calories and 4,128 milligrams of sodium.
  10. Dark-meat turkey with skin:  Turkey is usually a leaner and better choice than a lot of other meats.  Dark meat with skin has 70 more calories and three times more fat per serving than plain white meat without skin. The skin alone can hold up to 44 grams of total fat. So don’t eat the skin and eat the white meat instead. 

This holiday season, make sure every food you eat is worth the calories you’re ingesting.  If you really splurge, then make sure you’re exercising enough to burn off those extra calories.

Reference:  www.health.com and their 50 foods you shouldn’t eat over the holidays.

Summer, Time for Fun, Sun and Food

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 by:  Joella Baker

I love summer.  It’s easily my favorite time of the year.  Probably because it’s warm and I simply don’t enjoy being cold.  However, there are so many other reasons why I love this time of year.  I love being outside and I find it so much easier to be outside in the summer time.  If you simply walk out your front door, the opportunities to get fit and in shape are endless.  This summer, travel north a few miles and enjoy a few of my Butler County favorites. 

For me, summer is all about swimming, cycling, running, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, playing games with the kids and just hanging out.  There is so much to do throughout the summer and you don’t have to go far to do it.

My favorite summer hangouts include Moraine State Park.  You can do so much at this treasure of Butler County.  From hiking, the endless trails, to swimming in Lake Arthur, you have so many possibilities to get out and stay in shape this summer.  I love to bike at Moraine, on the trail with my son Zachary or on the roads with my friends for a more serious workout. 

Another favorite is Zelienople Community Park is just North of Cranberry Township, this small park also has hiking and running trails, a great community pool, tennis courts, basketball, new pickle ball courts and more.  It’s easy to have fun at this park and it’s so close.  They also host my favorite July 4th Celebration.  This year, you can enjoy a 5K Run and Walk at 8:00 AM, The Firecracker 5K.  Following the run, enjoy the 4th of July Parade, hosted by the Zelienople Rotary Club and then head to the Zelienople Community Park for music, food and fun activities.  All of this takes place on the 4th of July and at the end of the day, find any place in town to enjoy the great Fireworks display.

Speaking of great community events, one of my all-time favorites is Horse Trading Days in Zelienople.  This year Horse Trading Days is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.  Taking place July 18, 19 and 20, enjoy great music, food and sidewalk sales from local establishments, games and events for kids.  You don’t want to miss Horse Trading Days this year, so get out to Zelienople and celebrate.

When I think about summer food, I don’t think about the food you get from all the local fairs and events.  Instead I think about the fresh fruits and vegetables that abound.  One of my favorite things about summer is the Community Supported Agriculture Programs.  I belong to the program at Glade Run Gardens in Zelienople.  It’s great!  Every Thursday, I pick-up my fresh share of organically grown fruits and veggies.  They send out an email telling us what we’re getting that week and even share recipes about how to use some of those unique foods you may not have tried before.  However, I try not to read what I’m getting.  For me, part of the fun is the enjoying the surprise when I pick up the share and see what’s in it.  Best of all, it’s all fresh and so good for you.  With all of the incredible fresh fruits and veggies, how can you not get in shape and eat healthier in the summertime?  If you’re interested in a CSA, check out the one at Glade Run or one of the other programs located throughout the Pittsburgh Area.  You won’t be disappointed. 

This summer, get out and have fun.  There is so much to do and it’s not too far away.  I challenge you to try a new activity, hiking at Moraine State Park or McConnell’s Mills State Park.  Try biking, paddling or enjoy a day at the beach at Moraine.  Play a game of tennis or dip your toes in the pool at the Zelienople Community Park.  Visit a new community celebration in a small town you may not have visited before.  Choose to by fresh veggies from a local CSA or hit a local farmer’s market in your town or stop by a farm market like Deener’s on Route 19 in Cranberry and enjoy the bounty of summer.

Lastly, if you’re really looking for a fun challenge this summer, check out the Mighty Moraine Man Triathlon Festival.  If you are interested in trying a triathlon, this is the one for you.  With Olympic distance or Half Ironman distances available, you can challenge yourself by competing as an individual or getting your friends together to participate in a relay.  Visit www.mightymoraineman.com for more information on this new and exciting event I’m bringing to Butler County and Western Pennsylvania.

Whatever you choose to do, make this summer a healthy and happy one and remember, it’s as simple as walking out your front door.

For information on the Firecracker 5K in Zelie or the Mighty Moraine Man, please contact Joella Baker at 724-321-4265.