Happy Thanksgiving! Tis the season to overindulge in our favorite foods we wait all year to eat!

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie…OH, MY! I can already feel my waistline expanding. This year, though…I don’t want just my waistline to expand—I want my heart to expand by remembering the real meaning of Thanksgiving—the art of gratitude.

With our busy lifestyles, endless to-do lists, and the challenge of living a healthy lifestyle (eating healthy foods, trying to find time to work out and spend enough time with my family), it is easy to feel overwhelmed. There are some days I can’t help but feel disappointed in my lack of superwoman abilities to do it all.

When I feel inadequate, overwhelmed and stressed, I find it challenging to make good health choices.

This is where gratitude comes in! Gratitude gives me perspective, making it a key to living a healthy lifestyle. Gratitude pulls me out of the any “stinking thinking” and helps me see what is really important. By focusing on what is truly important, I start to feel good about life, which leads me to make better health choices.

Exactly, what is gratitude?

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.—Harvard Health Publications

Researchers have found that gratitude has potential health benefits:

Brighter outlook on life
Better sleep
Stronger relationships
Better heart health
A healthier immune system
The attitude of gratitude is an important healthy lifestyle habit and Thanksgiving is the perfect day to start! Here are a few of our favorite family Thanksgiving gratitude traditions to get you started:

Thankful tree: When my children were younger, I would make a big tree out of paper and hang it on the patio door. I also cut out leaves from construction paper. Throughout the month of November, every evening each child would write something they were thankful for and place their leaf on our “Thanksgiving” tree. By the time the actual holiday arrived, our tree was full of colorful leaves.

It’s not too late to create a thankful tree—create your tree, hang it up, cut out your leaves and when guests arrive—have them write on a leaf what they are thankful for and then hang up the leaf on the tree.

Thanksgiving Book: Create a Thanksgiving book that grows with each passing year. Every family member creates a page of gratitude each year—it could be a drawing, a poem, or simply a list of things they are grateful for. Be sure to write the date on it and then place it in a binder. It’s fun to place the Thanksgiving book on a coffee table during the month of November to allow your family and guests to reflect on the gratitude and gifts of years past and present.

Thankful Tablecloth: Find a large plain, light colored sheet or tablecloth to use for the Thanksgiving table. Provide markers in a variety of autumn colors. At Thanksgiving dinner, have each person add his/her mark to the tablecloth. Guests might choose to write their name, draw a picture, write something they are grateful for, trace their hands, or find any way to leave a mark that says, “I was here.” Save the tablecloth and add to it each year. It’s fun to read the tablecloth at Thanksgiving dinner each year and remember Thanksgivings of years past. (Some people take the time to embroider over the writing each year after Thanksgiving, but permanent marker works just as well!)

Thankful Leaves: Place blank leaves at each place setting when you set the Thanksgiving table. As guests arrive, instruct them to take time to visit the table and write something on each person’s leaf. It might be a compliment or something they are grateful for about that person. When guests arrive at the table for dinner, they’ll be greeted by a “warm fuzzy” on their plate.

Do you have a family Thanksgiving gratitude tradition? Please leave a comment below and share with us. The Be Well South Dakota team wishes you a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite ideas. A new tradition we started is trying a healthier version of one of our favorite dishes. This year, we are excited to try out this new dish:
  • 2  sweet potatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 small red or yellow potato
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme, roughly chopped (fresh or dried)
  • 3/4-1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter or lightly oil a baking dish. (or cast iron skillet)
  3. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the thyme and half of the cheese and toss together.
  4. Transfer to the baking dish and pour milk over the potato mixture. It should just cover the potatoes.
  5. Bake 30 minutes, remove from oven and carefully drain off a bit of the liquid (about 1/3 cup). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and return to the oven.
  6. Bake another 45-50 minutes, until the milk is absorbed, the potatoes are soft and the top and edges are golden and around the edges. (Optional: drain off a bit more of the liquid as using low-fat milk instead cream can result in a bit of wateriness.)
  7. Let rest at least 20 minutes before serving so the juices can redistribute.
  8. Can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave or oven for serving.

Recipe Source: Minimalist Baker

Here it comes…

November 17th, 2016 | Posted by Kimberly Vanderpoel in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Well, it looks like our luck has held off long enough and Mr. Winter is knocking at our door. Soon, we will have cold temperatures, wind, and snow. These three forces of nature tempt us to put on our fuzzy slipper and sip hot cocoa in front of the fireplace. While as tempting as this is, please remember “Bears Hibernate, Humans Don’t.”

When it comes to physical activity, there is NO season pass. Keeping active is just as important in the winter as it is spring, summer or fall. Personally, I find being active in the winter is a great stress reducer during the busy holiday season and helps with my mood due to the shortened daylight hours.

Unless you’re an outdoor enthusiast, exercising in the winter can be a challenge, however with a little bit of planning–it’s very doable.

Here are some of my favorite winter physical activity tips and resources:

Develop a Plan: Schedule exercise times in your calendar. With the busy holiday season, exercise is often the first to go. On Sunday’s look at your day planner for the upcoming week. After you have written in your holiday events for the week, schedule in your physical activity. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. If your evenings are full, consider exercising over the lunch hour? Or in the morning? Or perhaps during this season, you can do an at-home yoga routine before bed. Your goal should be some physical activity at 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.

Make it FUN!: When choosing your physical activity–choose something you love. Do you like to dance? Find a DVD or online program that has great music and dancing moves, or try out Zumba at the local gym. Do you like a variety of exercise movements? Try out an exercise app or online programs like 7 Minute Work Out, SWORKIT, Dashing Dish, or Spark People TV. Do you have children? Find an activity you can participate in as a family. Your local community education often has a good selection of choices.

Embrace Winter: Winter is only a few short months, so I say let’s embrace it. With the proper winter clothing, outdoor activities can be a lot of fun! This winter try a new winter sport such as cross-country or downhill skiing, ice skating, building a snowman, sledding, tubing or snowshoeing. Just remember to dress in layers, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help:

Control your weight
Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
Reduce your risk of some cancers
Strengthen your bones and muscles
Improve your mental health and mood
Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
Increase your chances of living longer

If you’re not sure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you’re afraid of getting hurt, the good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity is generally safe for most people.

Start slowly. Cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are rare during physical activity. But the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you don’t usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, like shoveling snow. That’s why it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.

If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor to find out if your condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. Then, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum Guidelines, try to do as much as you can. What’s important is that you avoid being inactive. Even 60 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is good for you.

The bottom line is – the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt.

What’s your favorite way to stay active in the winter?

 Here’s a quick and delicious supper for your evening meal.


  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. mustard
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 c. baby red potatoes, quartered or halved depending on size
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 rosemary sprigs, for skillet


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine balsamic, honey, mustard, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until combined. Add chicken thighs and toss until fully coated, then transfer to the fridge to marinate at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, prep potatoes: In a medium bowl, add potatoes and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining tablespoon oil. Add chicken and marinade and sear, skin side down, 2 minutes, then flip and sear 2 minutes more. Add potatoes to skillet, nestling them between chicken, and rosemary sprigs.
  4. Transfer to the oven and bake until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through, 20 minutes. (If potatoes need longer to cook, transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest and continue cooking until tender.)
  5. Serve chicken and potatoes with pan drippings.

Recipe And Video Source: Delish

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away? Personally, I can hardly wait. This year will be extra special as we will be celebrating my grandma’s 90th birthday. One thing I plan to do at our family gathering is to record our family  health history. When I was a nurse in an Internal Medicine clinic it amazed me at how few people knew their family health history. Knowing your family health history can help your health care provider provide better care and make more informed decisions. On today’s Wellness Wednesday we are exploring a bit more about family health histories:

What is family health history?

Family health history is a record of the diseases and health conditions in your family. You and your family members share genes. You may also have behaviors in common, such as exercise habits and what you like to eat. You may live in the same area and come into contact with similar things in the environment. Family history includes all of these factors, any of which can affect your health.

How can I collect my family health history?

You may know a lot about your family health history or only a little. To get the complete picture, use family gatherings as a time to talk about health history. If possible, look at death certificates and family medical records. Collect information about your parents, sisters, brothers, half-sisters, half-brothers, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Include information on major medical conditions, causes of death, age at disease diagnosis, age at death, and ethnic background. Be sure to update the information regularly and share what you’ve learned with your family and with your doctor. You can use the Surgeon General’s web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait to keep track of the information.

Family Health History Tips for Adoption and Sperm and Egg Donation.

Why is family health history important for my health?

Most people have a family health history of at least one chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. If you have a close family member with a chronic disease, you may be more likely to develop that disease yourself, especially if more than one close relative has (or had) the disease or a family member got the disease at a younger age than usual.

Collect your family health history information before visiting the doctor, and take it with you. Even if you don’t know all of your family health history information, share what you do know. Family health history information, even if incomplete, can help your doctor decide which screening tests you need and when those tests should start.

How can I use my family health history to improve my health?

You can’t change your genes, but you can change unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not exercising or being active, and poor eating habits. If you have a family health history of disease, you may have the most to gain from lifestyle changes and screening tests. In many cases, adopting a healthier lifestyle can reduce your risk for diseases that run in your family. Screening tests, such as diabetes screening, mammograms, and colorectal cancer screening, help find early signs of disease. Finding disease early can often mean better health in the long run.

Knowing is not enough—act on your family health history!

  • Has your mother or sister had breast cancer? Talk with your doctor about whether having a mammogram earlier is right for you.
  • Does your mom, dad, sister, or brother have diabetes? Ask your doctor how early you should be screened for diabetes.
  • Did your mom, dad, brother, or sister get colorectal (colon) cancer before age 50? Talk with your doctor about whether you should start getting colonoscopies earlier or have them done more often.

Source: CDC