five tips for staying balanced this season.

by Janetha on December 12, 2011

in recipes,tips

hey guys! how was your monday? mine was pretty productive.  i worked for 8 hours, completed a livefit lower body workout, and grocery shopped my heart out for two hours.  i didn’t get to grocery shop yesterday (sunday is my usual shopping day) because i was busy living life, so i did that after my workout today.

it was so nice to restock the kitchen! we were running low on everything.. even the staples like eggs, dishwasher detergent, dog bones, mustard, applesauce, and cocoa powder. yes, cocoa powder is a staple around here! speaking of cocoa.. today is national cocoa day! how appropriate.

i used my replenished grocery stash to make a tasty dinner of mexican manicotti.


oh man. photos can’t do this recipe justice. it was SO good. marshall went back for seconds and told me he gets the leftovers. surely a good sign.

mexican manicotti
makes 4 two noodle servings, adapted from this recipe


  • 8 whole wheat manicotti noodles
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) medium red onion, diced
  • 8 oz lean ground meat (turkey, chicken, or beef)
  • 2-3 tsp taco seasoning
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) nonfat plain greek yogurt (i used chobani)
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 oz oz colby jack cheese, grated and divided in two
  • 2 oz (1/8 cup) + 8 oz (1 cup) enchilada sauce (red or green)
  • optional garnish: greek yogurt, avocado, cilantro


  1. cook noodles according to package directions. set aside.
  2. sauté onion in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. add meat and taco seasoning, sauté until meat is cooked through.
  4. remove from heat and stir in 2 oz of enchilada sauce, chiles, yogurt, and 2 oz of cheese.
  5. pour 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce in an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 baking dish.
  6. fill manicotti noodles with mixture and place in the baking dish.
  7. sprinkle manicotti with cilantro, top with remaining enchilada sauce and remaining 2 oz of cheese.
  8. cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until warmed through—about 20 minutes.
  9. remove cover and set oven to broil for 3-4 minutes until cheese is nice and bubbly.
  10. remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then serve with greek yogurt (or sour cream), avocado, and cilantro.


one serving is two stuffed noodles. nutrition info per serving, using chicken breast and red enchilada sauce, pre-garnish:


pretty stellar stats! and, like i said, the photos don’t do the recipe justice. it was REALLY good.. try it and see for yourself!

balancing food, fitness, and fun this holiday season!

as you may know, i am a fitfluential ambassador. fitfluential is a network of fitness enthusiasts who share a passion for living a healthy life. one of my assignments as an ambassador is to share some tips with you for juggling a healthy habits and holiday fun—all at the same time.

there’s no denying it: the holiday season is in full swing. i went to a christmas party last weekend and am hosting my own party this saturday. there are hors d’oeuvres, cookies and booze EVERYWHERE, people. let’s talk about how to have fun AND stay accountable during this festive, fun time of year.

tip 1: don’t go to an event on an empty stomach!


this is assuming it’s not a dinner party, of course. but then again, even if it IS a dinner party, you never know what the options will be! i like to make sure i get a sufficient amount of protein in my meals, so if i am going to be heading to a holiday party, i will typically have a protein shake beforehand.  most things served at holiday parties consist of carbs and fat.. hey, it’s true. if you head to a party with an empty stomach, you’re more likely to overeat. having a 250 calorie protein shake beforehand will fill you up and balance out all the carbs and fat consumed at the party.

tip 2: plan your exercise schedule around the event!


if you plan on drinking at a holiday event, chances are you might be nursing a hangover the next day. if that’s the case, plan your exercise rest day for the day after the event! make sure you get a heart-pumping workout in earlier in the day, before the event, and then you can take the next day off without exercise guilt.

tip 3: survey all the food options and pick one of a few, not a few of each one!


the downfall of overeating comes when there are lots of choices. people like choices! and people like sampling all of the choices. at 100-250 calories per item, those samples can add up quick.  instead of trying the “i’ll just have one of each” approach, commit to only consuming the foods that look best.  check out your options before filling your plate. for example, i love stuffed mushrooms and bacon wrapped dates.. so i would rather have two of those (each) instead of a stuffed mushroom, a bacon wrapped date, a fried mozzarella stick, a pig in a blanket, a potsticker, a teriyaki chicken skewer, a meatball, and a crab cake. the same goes for desserts. you don’t have to have a gingerbread man, a cake pop, a mini cheesecake, a slice of pie, and a cup of chocolate mousse. i promise, there will be dessert tomorrow. and the next day. just select one sweet ending.. not seven.

tip 4: alternate caloric beverage with water!


going to a party where everyone is drinking and saying “don’t drink!” is sabotage. instead, alternate your caloric beverages (wine, cocktails, beer, egg nog) with water. this will really reduce your initial calorie intake. furthermore, the less intoxicated you are, the less chance you will have of developing the drunchies (drunk munchies) which will prevent even more calorie intake. i know you always want to have a beverage in hand at a party, and it feels strange to be empty handed.. but that glass doesn’t always have to be full of a calorie-laden beverage.

tip 5: don’t forget to have a good time!


the holiday season comes once a year. restricting to no end may make you look back and resent the holiday season. now is the time to enjoy yourself, let loose, and have a great time with family and friends. you don’t have to go wild and crazy with the indulgences, but you also don’t have to be a stick in the mud. enjoy yourself and don’t be afraid to give in to a few of those holiday treats. after all, it’s like voltaire said: "i have decided to be happy because it’s good for my health."

those are my tips for balancing food, fitness, and fun this season.. but if all else fails and you get totally hammered, eat an entire sheet of brownies, and wake up with a hangover from hell.. just sleep it off and get back on the wagon as soon as you can walk straight. and don’t beat yourself up over it.. life WILL go on.

before i go, a couple things:

  • dedicated december is still going strong! this week’s prize (for all entries logged december 11-17) is a box of the simply bar protein bars, flavor is winner’s choice. make sure you log those workouts!
  • chobani is hosting a twitter chat this thursday! join #ChobaniKitchen on 12/15 @ 8PM EST for the chance to win the ultimate holiday gift: membership to the Chobani of the Month Club!


do you have any tips for balancing health & the holidays?

xo. janetha g.

*images for the healthy tips were taken from

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lindsay December 12, 2011 at 9:49 pm

girl we are on the same page today. I just posted mine too! and i was clueless. I should have bugged you for advice first.

glidingcalm December 12, 2011 at 9:52 pm

you were made to be a healthy living blogger. I love your blog. so real, such good advice, and hilarious. Thanks Janetha for the always AMAZING BLOG posts. This is great advice for the holidays.

Tiffany @ Snack Snark Bark December 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Love love love the mexican manicotti! I’ve planning on making a mexican lasagne or italian themed enchiladas one of these days but just havent gotten to it yet.

dana @ my little celebration December 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Yummy dinner! I’ll have to give that a try on Mexican night instead of tacos : )

Kat @ Balance & Spice December 12, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Thanks so much for the great tips. These will be very helpful! Also, the Mexican manicotti looks so delish. Gotta find GF manicotti!

Nicole @Sugar Coated Sisters December 13, 2011 at 12:13 am

Tip #3 is such a good one! I always just grab a plate and start filling ‘er up… I have to remember to check out the options first though.

My tip: After a big meal (Thanksgiving–> Christmas Dinner) I try and convince members of family to go on a walk with me. Or, I do the dishes. Halfway because I get a good stand-up digestion session, and I just love doing dishes (I’m weird…)

Betty December 13, 2011 at 3:02 am

Yay! Saw your pin last night and told Barbara how good that sounded and we WILL be having it this weekend!

The way I try to balance my holidays is just give myself some me time to just relax. Between draining my bank account on gifts and trenching through the crowds, I get pretty stressed out.. My body craves carbs for stress relieving. I just try to focus and let myself know the holidays should be a happy time, and now happy for my means eating clean! (I feel so much better when I do!)

Hopefully I can make it through! :)

melissanibbles December 13, 2011 at 3:27 am

My tip is have fun and stop worrying about your weight.

Erica December 13, 2011 at 4:11 am

Great tips! I like to splurge on unique food items that only come once a year and stick to the healthy stuff at the parties otherwise! You make the best mexican dishes…drooling over here

Lauren December 13, 2011 at 4:57 am

This recipe looks fantastic! What a great take on manicotti! Love the tips as well. I need to remember to survey all the food before I start digging in. That’s my vice when it comes to parties.

Emily December 13, 2011 at 5:48 am

I definitely just added this entry to my “faves” – for the recipe as well as the tips. Thanks!

Heather (Heather's Dish) December 13, 2011 at 5:48 am

even though i can’t drink right now, alternating water and the other beverages is HUGE…i hate drinking my calories and would typically rather have water anyway!

Hope @ With A Side Of Hope December 13, 2011 at 6:13 am

These are great tips! I love that Mexican manicotti! Mexican and Italian put together sound delicious :)

Heather (Where's the Beach) December 13, 2011 at 6:22 am

Oh wow, Mexican Manicotti? Awesome. I haven’t made manicotti since I catered my own wedding 11 years ago LOL. Great tips – especially not going on an empty stomach. Makes mindless grazing way too easy.

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning December 13, 2011 at 6:24 am

I agree with all of your tips and try to put each of them into practice! I think the big thing for me is to try to keep on a schedule and maintain my normal healthy-eating/workout routine.
And if you do indulge a bit, or even overdo it, get right back on track the next day, rather than just thinking that you’ve “blown it” and falling off the wagon. One day of bad eating won’t break you- unless you let it!
And also- I have to remember, that working out more is NOT an excuse to go nuts on the sugar! It does NOT balance out.

Lindsay @ Lindsay's List December 13, 2011 at 6:46 am

What a good wife you are – giving Marshall all the leftovers! Please come cook for me!

Stephanie @cookinfanatic December 13, 2011 at 6:50 am

Mexican manicotti?!?! How have I never had this before, it looks so good. I love all your Mexican themed recipes, so many fabulous ideas! Can’t wait to try thisssss :)

momma b. December 13, 2011 at 7:14 am

Love the tips! Sure hope I don’t end up hammered and eating a whole sheet if brownies :)

This is a weird tip but I have realize sometimes just being able to smell some of those less healthy choices is all I need (I know you’re imagining me with my nose stuck to the table). Not so I mean like the aroma of chocolate or pizza in the air…..lame tip huh?!?

Love ya sweetie!


Amy December 13, 2011 at 8:01 am

YUM!!!! That Mexican Manicotti looks AMAZING!! I think I’ll have to try it out tonight (with seitan instead of meat though). The stats are stellar too!

StoriesAndSweetPotatoes December 13, 2011 at 8:03 am

Whoa that recipe looks amazing! How unique. I think the best tip for the holidays is to NOT deprive yourself. People try to “diet” and end up throwing off their natural rhythm and hunger cues which probably would serve them just fine. Lovely, healthy tips you have here!

Tiff December 13, 2011 at 8:22 am

Great tips! I have to admit, I’ll never forget that last one. ;)

I know you said the pics of dinner didn’t do it justice, but they make it look pretty amazing to me!

Bonnie December 13, 2011 at 8:31 am

Great tips, Janetha! Well written, to the point, and something for everyone. I totally agree!

Eizabeth @ reads recipes runs December 13, 2011 at 9:24 am

This recipe looks AMAZING! I might have to make it while the inlaws are here next week for the holidays.

Annette@EnjoyYourHealthyLife December 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

oh that dinner looks awesome!! I love Mexican anything –if it is homemade and smothered in salsa and Greek yogurt. Hah ;)

Love your tips. These are great-and so true. I NEVER go to a party without eating an apple, almonds, and some yogurt. Works like a charm!

RunEatRepeat December 13, 2011 at 10:03 am

I say get super wasted so you don’t care if you eat everything from the buffet table. Guilt has 5,000 calories.

Krissie J @ A Philly Nerd Girl December 13, 2011 at 10:22 am

I can’t really add anything to your list since you’ve pretty much hit the biggest points I could make! The only thing I can say is if you want to force yourself to not booze, offer to be the DD. I plan to do the same for my bf’s work party this Sat (plus since it’s HIS party, he should be allowed to have the fun).

That recipe looks amazing!

Christin@purplebirdblog December 13, 2011 at 11:00 am

For me, if I eat before the party, I will have eaten before the party and STILL will eat what’s at the party, so for me skipping the before party snack is better. I like to indulge in the holiday offerings, and I’ve just been upping my workouts to balance it out (yay dedicated december!) :)

Brooke December 13, 2011 at 11:09 am

When you started Jaime Eason’s training program did you follow every move and not do cardio like she says or did you add to it?

Janetha December 13, 2011 at 11:14 am

I sprinted the steps between sets the first two weeks, but then I read that I wasn’t supposed to do that and I needed to let my muscles properly rest between sets.. so I stopped. I didn’t do cardio–I did do a mud run race but that wasn’t really cardio.. more like a good time.

I promise, phases 2 and 3 make up for it in the cardio department. I am in the gym for an hour and a half these days.. the cardio is so intense for phase 3, I am glad I got to slack in phase 1!

Tina @ Best Body Fitness December 13, 2011 at 11:40 am

Gah! I feel like its been forever and a day since I have had time to comment. Still been reading though. I hate how busy this time of year is!

Anyways – love your tips. Especially the one about choose one of a few instead of a few of each one.

Cat @Breakfast to Bed December 13, 2011 at 11:41 am

I might add don’t xerox your ass at the holiday party, but I think that goes without saying.

Kristi @ lifesprinkles December 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Great tips! I have a holiday party this weekend and definitely plan on having a protein rich meal beforehand – and keeping it light on the drinks. I definitely like to indulge but not being totally out of commission the following day definitely has it’s perks too! ;)

Jen@FoodFamilyFitness December 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Mexican Manicotti is brilliant!!!! I always think of dishes like that with cheese and tomato sauce, it would never even cross my mind to do a mexican version and that’s why you rock!!! Can’t wait to try these :)

Kiah December 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Great tips, Janetha! I’m currently searching for a race in January, so I have motivation to keep moving through the holiday season.

LauraJayne December 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Great tips – especially about picking the few things that you want to consume instead of eating a little of everything! That always leads to trouble for me because I can’t stop – I’m overloading my taste buds!

Parita @ myinnershakti December 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Great tips! I think one that I always have to remember is that it’s ok to say NO…I don’t HAVE to eat everything!

Pure2raw twins December 13, 2011 at 7:32 pm

great tips! and love drunchies, haha, I just might have to steal that

Sara @my less serious life December 13, 2011 at 7:48 pm

fantastic tips! thanks!!!

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) December 14, 2011 at 8:40 am

Drunchies are the most devastating to the caloric bottom line. When I was eating on a more ‘normal’ schedule I found that I needed to curb my appetite before going out to eat or I’d be too hungry and eat too much at the party/restaurant, and sometimes I still do that if I’m just famished (not often now). Lately, I prefer to arrive just a little bit hungry (as I don’t get overly hungry now anyway), so that I can enjoy what’s on offer. And I get in lots of veggies too, so that I feel that at least I did my body good by getting them in.

Also, making exercise a huge priority keeps me straight during busy times.

My mom used to make mexican lasagne- I wish had gotten the recipe from her. Perhaps I have never seen a manicoti because in comparison to the avocado it looks huge- almost like a noodle burrito!?!?! yum.

Allison December 15, 2011 at 10:43 am

This dish is def going on my “to-make” list!!!

Jessica @ Healthy Dairyland December 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Those manicotti looks great! I think I will have to make them for my sister. She loves both Italian and Mexican food so it’s perfect!

melissa@the hungry artist December 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Oh my gosh, that Mexican Manicotti looks heavenly!!

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