Eating Tips During the Holidays (Recipe: Pizza Bianca)

Many runners, including myself, have a love-hate relationship with the holidays.  I love the time spent with family and friends and the holiday parties; however, this time of the year throws off routines, changes eating habits and often leaves you with less time to run.

BUT according to some research, if you enter the season with a few weight management strategies in mind, you are less likely to go overboard on the cookies and eggnog.

First, set a goal for the season.  “Goal setting is one of the most effective ways to stay on track,” says Melissa Grindle , a registered dietitian and health coach in the Washington D.C. area.  The goal can be anything from running at least three days a week to only trying one dessert at your holiday potluck.  Research suggests that setting one or multiple goals ahead of time can help you regulate yourself despite the “peer pressure” of sugar cookies and drinks.

Furthermore, since the holidays often coincide with the off-season for many runners (although, not for me this year with a January marathon on the schedule), New York City-based registered dietitian Kim Hoban suggests identifying multiple goals to work toward, whether that be getting on the elliptical every day while you are at your parents house or a more nutrition-oriented objective. She says, “Keep in mind, goals should always be measurable, so rather than saying ‘I want to limit sweets over the holidays,’ set a goal to reduce desserts to only twice per week.”

Second, keep track of your weight.  It’s easy to just say you will weigh yourself after the holidays are over, but the damage is harder to reconcile by then.  A study out of UNC Chapel Hill compared two groups of overweight adults. One group monitored weight once a day, while the other weighed themselves once a week. At the end of the six-month study, those who weighed themselves daily lost an average of 6.55% and those who weighed themselves less often lost just 0.35%.  Grindle, however, warns that this can also lead to unnecessary stress regarding weight. “Most of us fluctuate within a five-pound range daily based on what we eat and if we’re hydrated,” Grindle says.  If you have some anxiety when it comes to the scale, she suggests simply paying attention to the way your clothes fit.

Third, recruit family and friends for social support.  Support will help you stick to your plan.  A recent study found that we are often influenced by what the people around us are eating, suggesting that we definitely feed off each other (pun intended!).  “If you want to remain healthy over the holidays, let your family and friends know,” says Grindle.

Fourth, remember portion control.  Don’t find yourself mindlessly eating on endless snacks or rationalizing a bigger dinner because the holidays only come around once a year.  Research has shown that the larger the portion on your plate, the more food you’re likely to eat. The solution is to put a smaller portion on your plate in the first place.  Hoban says, “Your best bet is to reach for the protein and vegetables first so you’ll have less room for everything else.”  Grindle says, “I subscribe to the love it or leave it mentality during the holidays.  If there is a certain food or dish that you absolutely love and have been waiting for all year—go for it! If you’re not crazy about it, but find yourself just eating it because it’s there, leave it off your plate.”

Last weekend was gorgeous in Madison.  Knowing it would be one of the last warm weekends we had until spring, I decided to take the girls on a hike.  They LOVED it.  And this wasn’t even really what I consider “hiking”.  One of the things I miss the most about living in VA is the easy access I had to the AT (Appalachian Trail).  Callie loved going on hikes there.  But this will have to do for now. 🙂

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Quote of the Day:

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” -Fred DeVito

Last week (actually the night we made gingerbread houses!), I made this Pizza Bianca recipe.  It was tasty, but I still like my recipe for pizza dough better.  It didn’t initially call for Parmesan, but cheese makes everything better, right??

Pizza Bianca DSC_4462

Pizza Bianca


  • 3 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 1 2/3 cups water, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary


1. Mix flour, water, and table salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until no patches of dry flour remain, 3 to 4 minutes, occasionally scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Turn off mixer and let dough rest 20 minutes.

2. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over dough. Knead on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, occasionally scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Increase mixer speed to high and knead until dough is glossy, smooth, and pulls away from sides of bowl, 6 to 10 minutes. (Dough will only pull away from sides while mixer is on. When mixer is off, dough will fall back to sides.)

3. Coat large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Transfer dough to bowl and pour 1 tablespoon oil over top. Flip dough over once so it is well coated with oil; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until nearly tripled in volume and large bubbles have formed, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

4. One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to middle position, place pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees.

5. Coat rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil. Turn dough out onto baking sheet along with any oil in bowl. Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan, taking care not to tear it. (Dough will not fit snugly into corners. If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying to stretch again.) Let dough rest in pan until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 30 to 40 times and sprinkle with kosher salt and Parmesan.

6. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes, sprinkling rosemary over top and rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Using metal spatula, transfer pizza to cutting board. Brush dough lightly with remaining tablespoon oil. Slice and serve immediately.

Courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated

This entry was posted in Callie!, Envy, Nutrition, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

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