In a Nutshell: Living More On-Task, Reducing Food Waste, and Easy Ways to Cut Back on Sugar

In a Nutshell: Living More On-Task

Want to be better organized this year? From making and keeping appointments, to completing your to-do list, there’s no reason to get overwhelmed. Try these tips and tools for a more organized 2018, no matter how much chaos is thrown at you.

• Personalize it. The easiest way to stay organized is by having a planning system that reflects your personality. Watch yourself surpass your goals by using tools that fit your style, like color-coding, symbols or stickers. Remember that not all personalization has to be for efficiency purposes. Patterned tape, fun designs and motivating quotes can be a great way to keep you committed and make your planner a reflection of yourself.

• Double up. The best way to stay on top of important items is to double up — use digital technology in tandem with traditional paper to capture important notes, dates and more. Keep each book club meeting in your phone, but write down the actual books, the members’ names and your thoughts in your planner.

Paper-based planning can help keep you on track and allows you to easily reflect on your successes throughout the year. Check out the planners and calendars from AT-A-GLANCE. Their options make it easy to organize your life by day, week or month.

Be sure to mark each appointment and every coffee date in the daily section of your planner, while designating bigger events in your life, like weddings, travel or home renovation projects, in the monthly section as well.

• Celebrate successes. Take time to review your progress and see what you have accomplished. It will give you a sense of control and completion and can motivate you to keep going. Celebrate successes as they occur, but don’t get disheartened if something on your to-do list carries over to the next day, week or month. Staying motivated will help you be more productive and be a great reminder of how well your system is working!

• Check it off. There is nothing more satisfying than getting important things done — except when you physically cross it off your list. Be sure to give yourself some sort of visual satisfaction for completed tasks. This should be done on both your digitized and paper-based to-do lists.

• Categorize. Everyone has things that must get done to keep life running smoothly, as well as a list of what they would like to get done in their spare time. Categorize your lists so you can prioritize the must-do’s first, and then, when you’ve crossed out your urgent tasks, tackle those other to-dos. Categorizing will help you identify your busy times — as well as some extra space in your schedule — so you can plan accordingly.

More organization inspiration and planning item ideas can be found at

With some new habits, you can stay organized throughout 2018 and watch it do wonders for your personal and professional life. Article credit: StatePoint Media.


In a Nutshell: Reducing Food Waste

Nearly 50 percent of produce in the US is thrown away before it reaches your plate, according to USDA estimates. This waste not only affects the environment, it impacts shoppers’ wallets, as well. The average family of four discards $1,600 of food each year, according to a study published by the International Journal on Food System Dynamics.

How can you stop wasting and start saving? Follow these tips to ensure the produce you buy is used to its full potential.

Plan Purchases: Plan meals to create an ingredient shopping list comprised of everything you need for the week. Don’t stray at the store. Select items that can be used in multiple dishes. Be sure to also consider your dining out habits; if you typically grab a few meals away from home, consider picking up a mix of fresh and frozen items to leave some wiggle room in your seven-day plan.

Organize Produce: When it comes to using fresh items, your policy should be first in, first out. Organize produce in the order you purchased it. Keep items that need to be consumed first within eyesight and put the freshest goods in the back, moving food forward as you go. This will help ensure items don’t get forgotten in the back.

Re-use and Re-purpose: Today’s tomato slices can be tomorrow’s tomato soup. Simply place leftover tomatoes and a few other ingredients into the container of a high-powered blender. For example, with a Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series blender, you can create soup without the stovetop using the Hot Soup program setting to blend and heat ingredients.

Or, if you have potato, carrot or zucchini skins available, store them in a freezer bag to easily make homemade vegetable broth later. Add the veggies to boiling water and let it simmer on the stove. Drain, season and incorporate the versatile broth into recipes like risotto, curry and vegetable soup.

Making guacamole or avocado toast? Leftover avocado browns quickly, so it’s good to have a plan for how to use it immediately. Why not whip up a creamy green smoothie bowl? Or, if you’re not hungry, make a natural facial mask to tighten pores and firm skin.

Use leftover chicken to add some protein to a salad or stir-fry, or finely chop and crisp leftover beef to give texture and extra flavor to pasta and soup.

Get Tech Support: The latest smart kitchen gadgets can help you limit waste. Ask Amazon’s Alexa what you can make with key ingredients, or try a tool like the Vitamix Perfect Blend Smart Scale & Interactive Recipe App, which allows users to input items on hand and find blended recipes utilizing those specific ingredients. It can even scale any recipe to the exact amount of the least ingredient available.

Come Full Circle: Even after taking steps to reduce food waste, you’ll still likely have a few items that need to be discarded. Create a compost pile where you can toss old food scraps to give them new life as fertilizer for your garden. Article credit: StatePoint Media.


In a Nutshell: Easy Ways to Cut Back on Sugar

Nationwide, 30 million children and adults have diabetes, and 86 million are prediabetic, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). A leading risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is being overweight. But the good news is, according to the ADA, losing just seven percent of your body weight can decrease that risk by 58 percent.

One way to manage your weight is to cut back on sugar, which can often be a sneaky source of weight gain.

Before getting started, it’s important to remember that many healthy foods naturally contain sugar, a carbohydrate your body burns for energy. Processed sugars are different, adding calories that provide no other nutritional benefit, and at excessive levels, disrupting your metabolism, and potentially posing serious health risks.

The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend that added sugar account for less than ten percent of your daily calories — that’s a maximum of 50 grams a day for average women and 62.5 grams for men. To keep your sugar consumption in the healthy range, Courtney McCormick, Corporate Dietitian at Nutrisystem offers the following tips:

• Hold the Ketchup. You know baked goods and candy are loaded with added sugar, but so are many foods you may not think of as especially sweet. A tablespoon of ketchup, for instance, has four grams of sugar, more than some chocolate chip cookies. Salsa, barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce and even bread are hidden sources of sugar.

• Sweeten with Spices. Replace sugar from coffee, hot cereal and other foods with spices that have a naturally sweet taste, such as vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom, instead.

• Flavor Your Water. A 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 40 grams of added sugar. Skip the soda and drink water sweetened with fresh fruit and herbs, like strawberries and basil or lime and mint.

• Start with Plain. The fruit in the bottom of your yogurt can come with 25 or more grams of added sugar. Buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh or dried fruit.

• Snack on Fruit. One cup of blueberries, for example, has seven grams of natural sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth, but the fruit also comes with fiber to help you feel full and slow the breakdown of the sugars, so you don’t crave more calories soon after eating it.

• Bake with Applesauce. Eating fewer baked goods is sure to reduce your sugar intake, but when the occasion calls for you to make a cake, replace a third of the sugar in the recipe with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce. For a delicious no-sugar added applesauce recipe, visit

• Eat Right and Often. When you’re hungry, you crave calories and that too often leads to sugary snacking. Reduce between-meal munching by eating healthy, filling foods four to six times a day. Programs like Nutrisystem provide portion-controlled meals and snacks throughout the day giving you the structure you need to eat right.

To lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes, make small swaps to reduce your sugar intake and more easily manage your weight. Article credit: StatePoint Media.