Friday, November 29, 2013

What to do with Turkey Day leftovers

Looking for a way to spice up Thanksgiving Day leftovers?  Try this warm-you-up dish with yesterday's turkey:

Roasted Poblano & Turkey Tortilla Soup

3 large Poblano peppers, seeded and halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons canola oil
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ground chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 cups water
3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium organic chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can golden hominy, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can Stewed Tomatoes, undrained (Mexican Style, if available)
4 cups leftover shredded cooked turkey breast
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup roasted unsalted pumpkinseed kernels
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cup crushed tortilla chips (I used blue corn)
1 sliced avocado (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

Preheat broiler.  Place pepper halves, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 6 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag, and fold to close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes. Peel and chop; set aside.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add chili powder and oregano; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 4 cups water, broth, tomatoes, and hominy; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir in peppers and turkey; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt; cook 3 minutes.

Ladle about 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon pumpkinseed kernels, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve with lime wedges and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

Nutrition Information: Serves 8 (1 1/3 cup each)
Calories: 213; Fat: 6.8 g; Carbohydrate: 13.8 g; Fiber: 3.2 g; Protein: 25.4 g

What’s your favorite leftover turkey dish to make?

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

Today it seems we are so focused on our own lives, that it takes the holidays to bring us back to the reality of the world in which we live.  So often we take for granted that we have family to spend time with, food on our table, a home to live in and friends to enjoy.  What are we doing to help teach our children that though they may not get everything they want, they have so much?  I am challenging us all on this Thanksgiving day to help us show our love and thankfulness.  

Here are a few tips to help your children learn how to give back during Thanksgiving and Christmas:

•    Help serve meals to those in need on Thanksgiving Day.
•    Donate food items to help local food pantries.
•    Talk about what you are thankful for:  family, friends, church, jobs, homes, food, etc.
•    Pack a shoebox to send across the world to help a less fortunate child enjoy Christmas.  Learn more at
•    Adopt an Angel to help benefit a child or family in your community.
•    Spend time with your family and tell each person what is so special about him/her.  Everyone needs to hear how special he/she is to your family. 

Feel free to share your ideas and what you enjoy most about this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Julie Swink works in Brand Management & Promotions for Texas Health Resources and is a Mom of two.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Taste of Home for the Holidays

I’ll never forget the first time I heard my husband talk about his beloved holiday Green Jello Dish.

He and his sister used to make two batches, he’d said – one to share for the family holiday celebration on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and one they could secretly hoard away to gobble up just the two of them. I’ve never seen him talk about food more passionately than when he talks about that Green Jello Dish.   

I’ll be honest – to me the ingredients in this concoction sounded barf-tastic. Lime Jello…cream cheese…those sickly-sweet jarred cherries…really? Of all the pumpkin pie, frosted cookie, chocolate cheesecake options in the holiday sugar-fest cornucopia, this dessert is his number one pick?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Eat This, Not That: Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner

Did you know the average person gains seven pounds throughout the holidays?

From Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas baking to New Year’s cocktails, it’s easy to add a few pounds. Check out how you can avoid common nutrition holiday pitfalls this season–starting with the meal that typically leaves you stuffed and on the couch watching football all afternoon.

There are a variety of Thanksgiving dishes that are scrumptious, but lower in calories. Take a look at how you can “fine-tune” your indulging, making it easy to treat yourself without killing your waistline:

Have a Happy Holiday!

Monday, November 25, 2013


This week every year I really look and realize everything I have to be thankful for.

Yes, I am thankful all year long and try not to take things for granted. But with Thanksgiving this week I am thinking more and more about the things I am thankful for.

A few years back, I took a lot of things for granted and really just lived day to day. It took just a quick turn in my life to really sit down and realize all that I have been blessed with. Wow, God really has blessed my family, friends and me more than I could ever have imagined. I love more than anything that I am able to serve my family each and every day. Even just in the small things like listening to them tell a story about something that happened to them during the day. My husband and two daughters put a smile on my face and fill my heart.

I challenge you this week and every week throughout the year to look through the small window of life and see what God is doing for you and through you each and every day.  I can promise you even in the hardest days, God has a plan for you and your life.

Be Blessed this Thanksgiving!

Stephanie Abernathy is a Mom of two in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who works at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. She is wife to Clint Abernathy, administrative director of business optimization and ancillary services at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance

Friday, November 22, 2013

Love conquers all

I believe that three of the most powerful words in the English language are “I love you.”

When I was a kid, my parents worked all sorts of odd jobs and had odd hours. I could always count on my dad leaving a note on the counter with instructions and an “I love you” written on it. My parents taught us that we should always end every conversation with those words.

Fast forward to today, and we still keep that habit. I model it for my children. I tell them and my husband that I love them at random times. And apparently they’re noticing.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ten Tips for Turkey Day

We’re just one week away from pumpkin pie, turkey with cranberry and sweet potato casserole! Are you hosting Thanksgiving at your home this year? Follow these tips for a safe and happy holiday for your family this turkey day:
  • Thaw safely. Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator at 40 degrees for 24 hours for every four or five pounds before cooking it.
  • Wash your hands! Use warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food.
  • Don’t rinse the bird. Rinsing raw meat and poultry before cooking can spread bacteria to areas around the sink and countertops.
  • Double up on cutting boards. Consider using one cutting board only for raw meat and poultry and another one for things like raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Check your food temps. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165°F. If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165°F.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Our journey of adopting has led us down a path that my husband and I never could have dreamed. When we started a few years ago, we both had a very unreasonable and dreamy vision of being able to adopt rather quickly.  

We submitted our home study seventeen times with our placement agency to various agencies in our region.  We were in the middle of an emotional tug of war that was starting to wear upon me. While I tried my best to stop thinking about each child’s biography and photo that was shared with us as a possible adoption, their biographies and their faces are etched in my memory still to this day.  

I started to give up hope that we would ever adopt. It had gotten to the point my husband and I started thinking this wasn’t meant to be.  As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I started believing it myself.  We both agreed that when we returned from our family vacation we would make a decision if we should continue trying to adopt.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fall Recipe: Mexican Chicken Tamale Casserole

Try out this simple, delish casserole dish the whole family will enjoy!

Mexican Chicken Tamale Casserole

2 boneless, skinless chicken     
   breasts, cooked and shredded 
2 (10.5oz) cans 98% fat free
   cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups fat free plain Greek
1 packet low sodium taco seasoning mix
1 packet ranch dressing mix
2 (10oz) cans RoTel, drained
1 (15oz) can no added salt black beans, rinsed and
1 (15oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and  
1 (11oz) can Mexicorn, drained
18 corn tortillas
3 cups 2% shredded cheese (cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cream of chicken soup, Greek yogurt, and seasoning packets. Stir in chicken and remaining ingredients, except the tortillas and cheese.

Lightly spray a 9x13 casserole dish cooking spray.

Layer 6 tortillas in the bottom of the dish. Pour half of the chicken mixture over top. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layers, starting with tortillas, then remaining chicken mixture and 1/3 of cheese. Top with remaining tortillas and sprinkle with last 1/3 of cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Optional: Top finished casserole with chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, avocado, and sliced black olives.

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Delay of Game

It’s as if overnight our sweet, compliant child has decided that he is a card-carrying adult member of our household. He takes this new status seriously, letting us know his opinion on everything, from what we eat, watch or read to where we go, and he even chimes in on directions while we are on the way.

It amazes me how much this little guy notices at the young age of 2 ½. A couple of weeks ago, on our usual route to school, I had to make a quick stop to drive through a restaurant. This caused me to turn left instead of right leaving our neighborhood. As soon as the car started to turn left, I hear from the back seat, “Don’t go that way, Daddy.” It was funny at first, but about 10 minutes later, as I was still trying to explain to him that I did in fact know exactly what I was doing, it had passed from being cute to just annoying.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mom of two: 'My pulmonary embolism was an eye-opener'

Gracie Galindo knew the dizzy spells she’d been experiencing for weeks were not normal.

At first, the busy attorney and Mom of two from Azle, TX thought it was just stress and told herself she’d rest more.

"I was too busy taking care of my family to realize something bad was happening," 42-year-old Gracie said.

Then the shoulder pains began. She thought she’d pulled a muscle, but the pain kept getting worse until she began having trouble breathing.

“I kept thinking, I am not having a heart attack,” she said. “Something about the pain just didn’t seem to fit with a heart attack.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

'I’m not a baby, I’m a Nandi'

As I look at my firstborn continue to mature before my eyes, a famous quote by James Baldwin comes to mind: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

Little Nandi lives up to Baldwin’s quote on a daily basis. And she’s quick to remind me that she’s a growing girl. I love wrapping her up in my arms and smothering her with kisses. I’ll then ask her if she’s my baby. Her response: “No, mama. I’m not a baby. I’m a Nandi!” Then she’ll run off, far away from me, to occupy her time doing more important things, I guess.

One of her pastimes is driving her car. Nandi’s car, mind you, is her bright red tricycle. She has her very own keychain, full of whistles and mini-flashlights, which she calls her keys. She’ll grab her “keys” and hop onto her “car” peddling as fast as her little legs can go, riding all over the house. As an afterthought, she’ll stop and say, “Bye! I gotta go shopping!”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

11-12-13: A Memorable Birth Day

What was the first thing Laine Moses did after she scheduled her C-section for 11-12-13? Text the mom of her kids' cousin born on 10-11-12 last year.

"I just thought, 'that would be a cool birthday to have,'" she said. "It was just one of those coincidences, things just lined up that way."

For health reasons Laine needed to schedule a C-section delivery with Dr. Bannie Tabor, maternal-fetal medicine specialist, during the 37th week of pregnancy -- and that week happened to include 11-12-13. So she excitedly picked that date for her special delivery. The next sequential date is next year, 12/13/14, and after that there will not be another sequential date for another century.

Dorothy Elaine Moses was born at 7:54 a.m. yesterday weighing 7 lbs, 8 oz, healthy and happy. She was delivered via gentle C-section at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, a somewhat new method that involves immediate skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby in the operating room.

"As soon as they put her on my chest, she stopped crying," Laine said. "It was cool to have that instant bonding experience so many moms miss out on with (traditional) C-sections. The doctors and nurses made it so easy and were really supportive."

Congratulations to Laine and her family!

Laine Moses is a stay-at-home-Mom to Henry, Lucy and now Dorothy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Recipe: Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Need an easy-peasy dinner idea for tonight? Try out this Chicken Spaghetti Casserole dish. Enjoy it tonight or freeze it for another day.

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I use rotisserie chicken)
2 cups uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces (about 7 ounces)
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices celery
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (10.75-ounce) cans condensed 30% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine broth, salt, pepper, and soup in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Add soup mixture to chicken mixture; toss.

Layer mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over casserole. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. 

You can freeze this casserole and from frozen, bake at 350 covered for 55 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until bubbly. 

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Exercise during pregnancy may help baby's brain

Here's another reason to get moving while pregnant: a new study found that as little as 20 minutes of exercise three times per week can help boost baby's brain.

Researchers at the University of Montreal found that the babies of mothers in the study who exercised had brains that were more fully developed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bucket list adventure: Traveling across country by train

Getting on the train, I knew we made the right choice. When we first decided to take a train to visit my husband’s family this past summer, I was excited but nervous. I hadn’t been on a train longer than an hour before, so 24 hours seemed a bit daunting. Had we packed well? Were the pillows and blankets we brought going to be sufficient?

I’m a nervous flyer and I find traveling by car can get stressful. So this seemed like a great solution. Our kids are finally old enough to be helpful when we travel, so off we went.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Leighton's Gift

My husband, Chris, and I were married on July 23, 2005.  We knew right away that we wanted to become parents, but like many people, our journey to having children was a long one. 

After years of tests, treatments, and failed domestic and international adoption applications, we were blessed to become pregnant with twins. We knew they were our miracle babies and could not wait to meet them. 

When I was a cheerleader and gymnast, my small size was an asset, but when I am pregnant, being only 4’10” becomes an issue. There just isn’t as much room – even breathing is difficult.  We both knew that carrying twins would be a hard pregnancy for me, and expected bed rest and maybe time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fall Recipe: Slow Cooker Corn and Sausage Chowder

Craving something warm on this chilly fall afternoon? Try out this healthy, easy-to-make corn and sausage chowder recipe:

Slow Cooker Corn and Sausage Chowder

1 pound of chicken or turkey sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 oz) package of frozen corn
3 red skinned or new potatoes, chopped (you don't need to peel these types of potatoes)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk (I used 1% or 2%)
Salt and Pepper

In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown up your sausage until it's cooked through and crumbly.

In your slow cooker, layer your cooked sausage, onion, corn, potatoes and stock.  Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours or on high 3 hours.

Right before you're ready to serve your soup, stir in your milk and let it sit about 5 minutes or so.

Ladle soup into bowls and enjoy!

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The ‘poor second child’ syndrome

To say that I documented each of my first son’s milestones would be an understatement.

I took an embarrassing number of pictures of Max, scrapbooked, had cards made on Shutterfly and completed (almost) every part of his baby book. But you know how every parent tells you that the second child never gets the same amount of attention? Well, they’re right – sort of.

Case in point: the first haircut. For Max, his first haircut was planned. It was a Saturday morning and my husband and I both giddily took Max in the backyard, explained what we were doing as we snapped ‘before’ pictures and then painstakingly used the special ‘children’s haircut scissors’ to cut his little blonde hairs. Then we took several after pictures (I didn’t save the hairs – I’m just not a fan of storing hair in a box as a keepsake) and, of course, I scrapbooked about it.

And then there was Jack.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ain’t No Party Like a Pinterest Party

So the day finally came; our little pumpkin’s 1st birthday party!  Since the day I picked my C-section date I have been anticipating this day.  My mom, sister, and cousin already planned to fly in two days before the party to help me out.  Little did we know how much work we would be doing.

Since my son is older, his birthday parties are done outside of the home, and now I remember why.  Let me first say the party was a success, and I would have never been able to do it without the help of my family. 

This is where the hours upon hours I have spent on Pinterest are going to help out. For a year, I have been pinning ideas for Halloween parties, food, decorations, you name it!! Now it was time to put these ideas into action. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The ABC’s of getting some Z’s

It’s time to "fall back" again and get that extra hour of sleep this weekend. Dr. Sonya Merrill, medical director of the Sleep Medicine Institute at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, says it’s also a good time to look at your current sleep routine to make sure you’re getting enough rest.

“Remember, most adults require 8 hours of sleep to function at their best, though there is some variability from person to person,” Dr. Merrill said.

A recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that the average American receives far less than eight hours of sleep, usually just over six hours on work nights. More than 50 percent of those surveyed stated they were getting less sleep than they needed on work nights, although 75 percent admitted that their schedules allowed for adequate sleep.