Buffalo News Refresh Blog – February 2016

Sunday meal planning can make a week’s worth of healthy choices

by: Holly R. Layer

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

One of the biggest challenges to eating real, healthy food is a busy schedule. Unfortunately, we’re all busier than ever, and the healthy food in your fridge isn’t going to prep itself. If you’re hitting the drive-thru more often than you should, perhaps it’s time for you to embrace the art of meal planning.

Basically, meal planning is simply preparing your meals ahead of time, once a week. It can be as many meals as you want, as basic or as gourmet as you want. For example, if you work full-time outside the home, it might be helpful to prepare your breakfast, lunch, a snack and even some dinners. For others, it might just be packing all your lunches, or prepping all your dinners.

When I went back to school, I found I was spending almost an hour each night packing my breakfast, lunch and snacks for the next day. I finally started meal planning, and it’s relieved so much stress and given me back so much time. Instead of spending an hour each night, I spend a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon doing everything once. I still do it, even though I’m home more now.


First, meal planning begins with the PLAN. Plan out your meals. This could look like two egg muffins, toast and an orange for breakfast; a large salad for lunch; an apple and a cheese stick for a snack; and chili with salad and cornbread for dinner. Do that for every day. It’s helpful to repeat or alternate meals, to keep it simple. For example, you could have the same breakfast and snack every day, and alternate lunches. Consider using leftovers as part of your meal plan, as well. Be sure to ask yourself if the meal you’re planning matches where you’re going to eat it – you don’t want to get stuck eating cold lasagna in your car because you don’t have a microwave.

Next, decide what day works best for you to spend about three hours in the kitchen. Ideally, that would be Sunday afternoon or evening, if your meals are designed for Monday through Friday. Be sure to have gone to the grocery store and start with a clean kitchen with clean tools and lots of containers.

Finally, start with the recipe that takes the longest to prepare. Using the example above, get your egg muffins in the oven and the chili cooking on the stove first, and then gather your apples and cheese sticks together in the fridge for easy access. Wash your salad ingredients and chop veggies for the week and put in containers for lunches. Make sure you also have enough salad for dinner, as well. Once the egg muffins are done, pop in the cornbread. Peel all your oranges and put them in containers or baggies. Be sure to follow food safety rules and keep cold things in the fridge for as long as possible before taking them out, and chill items quickly.

Meal planning will relieve stress, save you time and money, and ensure you eat the healthy food you buy each week. Your meals can be as basic (simply assembling items like yogurts, fruit, veggies, nuts) or as gourmet (muffins, soups, stir-frys) as you’d like.

Now, eating healthy food is as easy opening the fridge each morning!

Holly R. Layer is a registered dietitian who lives in East Aurora. She provides nutritional counseling to students at SUNY Buffalo State, and teaches cycle and fitness classes at the Southtowns YMCA. She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related. An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy. Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive! In addition to writing for the Refresh Buffalo Blog, you can find her at thehealthypineapple.com.

Buffalo News Refresh Blog – January 2016

Want to keep that New Year’s Resolution? Find a buddy

by: Holly R. Layer

We’re three weeks into January and I wonder how many of us have kept up with all those resolutions to be healthier in the New Year?

Studies show 75 percent of people can keep up for a week (wow, a whopping seven days!), yet fewer than 50 percent are still on track in six months.

I even made a few of my own healthy resolutions this year, including wearing my Fitbit (username: hrlayer@gmail.com) again and tracking my calories in MyFitnessPal (username: hollylayer). If you’re part of those communities, feel free to friend me!

If you’re one of the many who resolved to make health a priority this year, kudos for taking charge! The single most important part of your “get healthy” plan doesn’t have anything to do with the food you eat or how many minutes you exercise – it’s ACCOUNTABILITY.


You need a friend! Whether it’s your spouse, your co-worker, someone at the gym or your running group, anyone can help keep you motivated and accountable to your plan. Find someone with whom you can share your goals and your plan, and ask them to cheer you on and ask you hard questions, like: “Did you meet your calorie goal yesterday?” or “How many days did you exercise last week?”

Ideally, this friend is someone who shares your health goals and is even someone you can meet up with regularly to motivate each other or workout together. Can’t think of anyone? Friend me! (See my Fitbit and MyFitnessPal usernames above.) Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is your best chance at success!

OK, that was me being your like-minded accountability partner and giving you a pep talk. Now, time to put it into practice! Find someone in your sphere and ask him or her to team up with you. And while you’re riding this motivational high, resolve to step away from the mac n’ cheese next time it’s offered. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean it’s OK to binge on comfort food 24/7. Instead, think of what your body needs right now: vitamins C and D.

Vitamin C

Stock your countertop fruit bowl with citrus, which is in season right now. Oranges and grapefruit are great sources of vitamin C, which has been proven to both shorten the duration and lessen the symptoms of the common cold. However, Vitamin C can be found in other fruits and vegetables as well. In fact, some of them contain more of the vitamin than oranges themselves! Here is a list of the best sources, starting with the highest: red bell peppers (190 mg), broccoli (132 mg), cauliflower (127mg), green bell peppers (120 mg), papaya (88 mg), kale (80 mg), Brussels sprouts (75 mg) and oranges (70 mg).

Vitamin D

Because we live in a northern climate, we spend more time indoors and get less sun this time of year. Vitamin D is produced in our bodies when we’re exposed to sunlight, and it plays a role in how our bodies use the calcium in our diets. In addition to being produced in the body, vitamin D can be found in some fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy and grain products, including cereals. However, those who don’t drink milk and vegans may be at risk for a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to rickets (a softening of the bones), as well as cardiovascular disease, severe asthma and even cancer. The easiest way to get more vitamin D is to take a daily multivitamin and – despite the cold –take a walk.

Holly R. Layer is a registered dietitian and provides nutritional counseling to students at SUNY Buffalo State. She teaches cycle and fitness classes at the Southtowns Family YMCA. She holds a bachelor’s in journalism from Penn State and a bachelor’s in nutrition and dietetics from Buffalo State. She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related. An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy. Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive! You can find more of her thoughts at thehealthypineapple.com.


I realize this might be a questionable blog topic, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

I love this underwear.


It’s one of those ‘one size fits all’ deals, and I’ll admit I was skeptical.  I may be fit, but I’m no size 2.  While I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort level, I’m not sure I agree with one size fitting ALL.  Or at least certainly not fitting all WELL.


Pretty sure I found them in a magazine, and after getting a coupon around Christmas time (this is a very belated post), I ordered a couple. I reserve them for when I’m working out and don’t want super visible panty lines, and I think they do a good job. The material is very thin with virtually no seams.

At $12 a pop online, they certainly aren’t cheap, but there are deals to be had.  I’m pretty sure I got 3 for $30 or something like that.


*Disclaimer: Under Armour doesn’t have the slightest idea I own these panties, or that I have a blog, or that I’m raving about them online.