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How to Survive and Thrive in the Black Friday Dash

Black Friday: a purchaser’s paradise and retailer’s reverie. The biggest shopping event of the year. Enticing sales begin on Thanksgiving at some stores creating a 4-day frenzy that can leave even the seasoned shopper faint of heart. In other words, what once was a sprint is now more like a marathon. What is vital to a marathoner’s performance? Nutrition of course! Channel your inner track champion with these nutrition tips from Food City’s very own registered dietitian to survive and thrive in the Black Friday dash:

1. Fuel Right. As most athletes will tell you, the hardest part of training is proper nutrition. This is also tricky for Black Friday shoppers who may be in a slight food coma from their Thanksgiving feasts. However, building endurance and stamina is easier than you may think. It is all about balance. A balanced eating pattern includes all the food groups: whole grains, lean protein, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy and a small amount of healthy fats. Each food group has a specific role in the body. When we eat them all, we get the maximum benefit from a variety of nutrients – that means improved and sustained energy.

How can you achieve balance on such a food-focused holiday? Try to include each food group in your meals and snacks: whole-wheat rolls, roasted turkey, fresh cranberry sauce, savory green beans, and classic sweet potato casserole topped with pecans. Remember portion sizes and listen to your body to know when to stop eating. It takes about twenty minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full. Eat slowly, enjoy the atmosphere, and remind yourself of the pay-off for your training – lasting energy to snag those doorbusters.

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2. Fuel Often. Your metabolism is like a fire. It needs consistent fuel in order to flourish. A healthy metabolism should nudge you to eat every 3 to 4 hours. Never skip meals and eat frequently to maintain muscle mass and prevent excess hunger between meals. Also, don’t forget snacks which can act as a bridge to the next eating opportunity. Include at least two food groups at each snack such as protein and high fiber carbohydrates.

As you probably guessed, balanced and frequent meals take planning. It’s Thanksgiving, so why not re-purpose leftovers for your Black Friday menu? For breakfast, try a cranberry smoothie with frozen yogurt and orange juice. For lunch or dinner, make a turkey wrap with cranberry sauce, toasted pecans and shredded greens on a whole-wheat tortilla or throw some greens in a mason jar with turkey or ham, celery, apples, and a light dressing. Remember not to skimp on snacks! Pack an apple with a handful of nuts, carrots and string cheese, or Greek yogurt and fresh berries.

Again, remember portion sizes. Eating enough, but not too much, helps to control cravings and reduces the risk of overeating. A good rule of thumb is if your meal sustains you for 5 to 6 hours without hunger pangs, you probably ate too much. Lighter meals and snacks also prevent you from getting too full and feeling sluggish.

3. Hydrate. Dehydration is the single largest contributor to fatigue during a race. While a short snooze on Thanksgiving is a common practice, we all know there is no time for napping on Black Friday. Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after your shopping exhibition. Skip the soda, sugary coffee, and energy drinks. These beverages actually dehydrate the body and contribute to lower energy levels. The caffeine may keep you lively for an hour or so, but the high sugar content will likely cause a crash later in the day. Stick with water or unsweetened tea. Excess sugar is not your friend when you have sales to find.

While these tips would help to boost energy any day, this Black Friday, stay focused by staying fueled. You will be rewarded with extra energy to keep you feeling great and checking items off your list. Happy shopping!

Elizabeth Hall, RDN, LDN
Registered Dietitian for Food City

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Gratitude Jars

A few years ago, I was trying to come up with a meaningful going-away present for a friend. We had so many funny memories and inside jokes, and I wanted her to be able to look back and remember (most of!) those. I decided to write each funny saying onto a piece of paper, tie it up with a pretty ribbon, and place them all into a cute glass jar. The Quote Jar had come to fruition.


As I’m gearing up towards the holidays, I thought about putting a new twist on my go-to going-away gift and turning the Quote Jar into something more. A way for me, my family, my kids, my friends to all put into words (short and sweet) how thankful we are. This year, I’ve set up a cute, decorative jar in the center of my dining room table, and I’ve set out slips of paper and pieces of ribbon (coordinating, of course!) and pens alongside it. I’m encouraging everyone over the next week to write something on a slip and tie it up—if the kids need help, they can just fold it in half and I’ll do the tying later!—and then place it in the bowl. Come Thanksgiving (or Christmas!) Day, we can all read our notes together and reflect back on how lucky we are to have such blessings in our lives. And knowing my family and friends, I’m pretty sure we’ll be sharing a few laughs in the process.

Feel free to share this idea with your friends and family…and enjoy this holiday season!


Chocolate Eclair Cake

THE Cake


I feel like we’ve gotten close. We’ve been seeing each other for a few months now—it’s starting to get serious. And that’s why I’ve decided to take our relationship to the next level.

I’m going to entrust you with one of my favorite recipes.

Wait for it…

Chocolate Éclair Cake.

This is The Cake. The Cake that my Mama would (and still does!) make for every birthday. The Cake that friends, new and old, associate with my dessert skills. You know you’re part of my nearest-and-dearest when I make this cake for you. (And you’ve achieved an even higher status if you get personalized pecan shapes on top. Like a checkerboard for my favorite UT fans, or a fleur de lis for those who like to yell “Who Dat” on Sundays during the fall. Oh yes, people—it can be done.)

I’m telling you. If you only take away one recipe from this entire blog, this should be the one. It never fails…!


Chocolate Éclair Cake

1 box of graham crackers

1 large box of instant vanilla pudding (which will require 3 cups of milk)

1 container of frozen whipped topping, thawed

1/3 c. cocoa powder

1 c. sugar

¼ c. evaporated milk (this finally comes in small cans so you don’t have to waste a large one!)

1 stick of butter

Chopped pecans


In a 9×13 glass dish, place graham crackers across the entire bottom. In a medium bowl, make the instant pudding according to the instructions on the box, using 3 cups of milk. Once it’s set, fold in the whipped topping. Pour half of the pudding mixture on top of the graham cracker layer. Place another layer of graham crackers on top of that, and then one more layer of graham crackers. In a small saucepan over medium heat, pour the cocoa, sugar and evaporated milk. *This is the most important part: stir CONSTANTLY until it is all melted together—if you don’t, it will burn.* Once it’s melted, place the stick of butter in the pan and stir until it’s completely melted. (*You can also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract at this point—if you want the sauce to have a little extra flavor!) When it’s all combined, pour over the top layer of graham crackers. You can use a flat rubber spatula to make sure the chocolate sauce covers the entire top. Sprinkle the pecans on the top (or get creative and make some designs!) and refrigerate overnight before serving if you can—if not, it’s still delicious right away!

Chocolate Eclair Cake

So, there you have it, folks. One of my most prized recipes…take good care of it…and I hope you enjoy!



Get Cheesy


Now, I know you can search online and find all these great ideas on how to host the most perfectly chic wine and cheese party, complete with little chalkboard signs and fancy displays…and if you’ve got time for that this time of year, then good for you! But for the rest of us who are dealing with class parties, holiday festivity preparations, Christmas shopping (it’s never too early to start that!) PLUS everything else we do on a daily basis…the struggle is real. However, I just might have a few hours between now and 2016 to have a few friends over, and there’s nothing as easy and elegant than uncorking a nice bottle of wine and serving it with some ‘fancy’ cheese. Here is a quick and easy way to figure out what to serve with different cheeses…and guess what. You can find ALL of these delicious cheeses at Food City!


Mozzarella pearls –> Sauvignon Blanc 
These tiny, bite-size balls of deliciousness are something that I keep on hand for many recipes—and if you have time, grab some grape tomatoes and basil leaves in the produce department, skewer them with some cute toothpicks, drizzle some balsamic vinegar over top and you’ve got a perfect little appetizer!

Brie –> Chardonnay 
I serve this as -is—just spread it on a cracker and pair it with some green apple slices or grapes! Another option is to wrap the wheel of brie in crescent roll dough, baste with a beaten egg and bake for about 20 minutes at 325˚!

BellaVitano –> Cabernet Sauvignon
I’m throwing this option in the mix because it’s AMAZING. It’s a combination of Cheddar and Parmesan, and you can get different flavors—the Merlot and Raspberry are my favorite, and they are SO good to just slice up and serve with some toasted walnuts, prosciutto or chocolate!