Stress Management Monday: Week 1

stress management monday 1

I’m sure you’ve heard the term before “stress kills”. Each semester I will have students (before they go through my class, of course) tell me that they think stress is the #1 cause of heart attacks. While stress plays a large role in health, I always respond that it isn’t the stress itself that causes problems in people’s lives, but the things that cause our stress and how we respond to and manage them. On the other hand, many people think extremely high stress is “normal” in our American lifestyle and with this viewpoint, we tend not to acknowledge when it becomes problematic. Many will say, and truly believe, “I just have a type A personality and like to be busy; someone like me just can’t relax and that’s okay”… a little while ago that included me!

While my career title may be registered dietitian, counseling is a big part of my job. Aiding my clients in identifying what causes their stress and how they respond from a lifestyle perspective is where we start. Then (in short) we eventually move on to how they can change habits with exercise, environmental changes, diet, breathing, positive self-talk etc.

While I help people with these things on a daily basis, I also deal with a lot of stress myself. I do a really good job keeping it under wraps at work and have had people ask how I am able to keep it together so well when something crazy happens. While I have many techniques that I have learned work for me, there are times when its hard for me to manage too. As my career has been busier (which I view as positive), my stress has increased and so has general anxiety. I am on a continued journey to find better ways to manage this and want to be transparent about it… so I am making a commitment to a blog series I am calling “Stress Management Monday”. I know it will help me stay on track in keeping balance in my own life while making me a better health professional so I can help my clients as best as possible. I also hope that with the series readers can identify they are stressed and find ways to better identify the cause and how to manage it. If you are ever prompted to let situations, people, or just emotions cause you to over eat, under eat, skip exercise, over exercise, feel depressed, lash out at others, ride the negativity wave or just feel lack of self control, join the journey!

So, now that I have introduced my motivation for Stress Management Monday, I have my first tip. For all you type A’s out there (or type B’s and those that can’t identify as either)… try yoga.

Going to one class, not being able to relax and getting frustrated that you aren’t the best one there does not give you the right to say “I tried yoga, it wasn’t for me”. I have been active my entire life as an athlete and 4 years ago, when my ITBS was so bad I could barely walk, my anxiety hit an all time high. I realized then that exercise was the daily stress management that I never knew I had! I thought hitting a high intensity was the only way to help myself but decided I would try yoga. I didn’t love my first class. Maybe hated it. My balance was off, it was really quiet, I didn’t sweat a ton, and the whole relax and lay down for 5 minutes at the end thing? Not for me. But I told myself I had to go back because I felt maybe 3% better after (no research or documentation to confirm this #) and because cardio wasn’t an option and I couldn’t just lift weights for my arms everyday. Next time I tried a different class with a different instructor. I found some things I liked a little more, and others less. Light bulb moment: there is a yoga instructor and class out there for me.

Is there another way to keep calm?
After a good couple of months, I found two instructors I liked (then loved) at the Newtown Athletic Club, one of which is still there, and not only was my running injury improving but so were all of my yoga skills. Oh yeah, and the most important thing, my stress and anxiety were super low! Four years later, I love a variety of classes (though I am still picky about instructors), Shavasanah (that 5 minutes of laying there thing I mentioned) is something I crave now at the end of a class, and if I start to get irritable my husband is asking “when is the last time you went to yoga?”. In most of those cases, its been too long. The great thing is, I have learned to incorporate it in day to day life without a class. I can do a forward fold and just stretch out and stop thinking, I can do one sun salute to realign my back and my mind, or I can just let out a cleansing breath (or 10).

Don’t feel comfortable going to a class with other people in a tight space? I’ve heard that excuse too. Use your cable service’s on demand fitness classes, check out the Huffington Post’s 9 great Yoga YouTube Channels, or do my favorite “morning yoga sequence” that I found on none other than Pinterest a few years ago! I opt for a sun salute between each. If you don’t know what that means, BuzzFeed has your back.

good morning yoga

We all experience stress in our life, and at times everyone experiences anxiety too. While not all stress is bad, and it is normal to experience from time to time, honor the signals your body sends you to relax and take your stress levels down a notch. I hope many of you will take this stress management ride with me. Your body and mind will thank you!

Need more help? Check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Purple Power Smoothie

Shhhhh, don’t tell your kids… There’s a full serving of mixed greens in this post-exercise purple powerhouse!

Or you can tell them after. I’m not usually into “hiding” veggies and healthy ingredients in dishes because I want kids to learn to enjoy and want the healthy food. However, if you are trying to take control and get your children off of a cycle of picky eating, hiding first and then telling them once they love it is the next best option!

We have had a few hot days in the Northeast and I was just craving something cold yesterday after spin and yoga. We had some local mixed lettuces, looking pretty in purple & green, but a salad just sounded awful ( <– extremely abnormal feeling for this girl). So I put the greens to good use with some organic frozen fruit, almond milk and garden of life raw protein. Don’t worry if you don’t have the latter on hand though, because this will work with some yogurt and vanilla extract too. See both options below!

Purple Power Smoothie (GF, V & DF option)


1/2 C cascadian farm frozen cherries (found in bulk at BJ’s)
1/2 C frozen wild organic blueberries
1/2 C frozen sliced organic peaches (can sub mango)
1 C mixed greens (preferably organic or local)
1 C unsweetened vanilla silk almond milk & 1 scoop garden of life raw protein or
1 C siggi’s, plain yogurt or plain greek yogurt & 1 tsp vanilla extract + milk or water as needed for blending

Add all ingredients to whatever blending tool you have whether it be a fancy vitamix, kitchen aid blender or tiny magic bullet.
Tip: If using bullet type blenders, for best consistency and easiest blend, I recommend putting fruit in first, topped with yogurt or protein, then greens and milk/liquid.

Pulse until smooth and enjoy!

This is a great post-workout blend of carbs & healthy protein. If you’d like to turn it into a meal, I recommend adding a tablespoon of chia or hempseeds and using an extra total 1/2 C of fruit, 1 C of greens and 1/4-1/2 extra scoop or protein or extra 1/2 serving of yogurt.

Nutrition Information Per Serving
(for garden of life & almond milk option)

Calories: 230
Total Fat: 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: .5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 35 g
Fiber: 9 g
Sugar: 20 g (all from fruit, none added)
Protein: 20 g

Sodium: 195 mg 13 % Potassium: 330 mg 7 %

Vitamin A: 17%       Riboflavin: 39 %    Niacin: 20 %
Vitamin B6: 21 %    Vitamin B12: 125%
Vitamin C: 89 %      Vitamin D: 30%
Calcium: 48 %         Iron: 32 %             Zinc: 11 %
Magnesium: 4 %

**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more
than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concern


Wellness Wednesday – Is Apple Cider Vinegar Really Good for me?

*Also posted to the Newtown Athletic Club blog.

You may have heard of or read about the many health benefits of apple cider vinegar. While claims are sometimes outlandish and misleading there are definitely medicinal properties internally and externally. This wellness Wednesday we are setting the record straight!
First, not all apple cider vinegar is created equal. If purchasing, choose unfiltered and unpasteurized brands such as Bragg’s or Trader Joe’s. Being unfiltered, the vinegar still contains pre-biotic fiber and without pasteurization, a high heating process, it contains beneficial bacteria and maintains a higher nutrient content.
Next let’s talk about internal health benefits. Apple cider vinegar has the ability to improve gut health with it’s prebiotic fiber and helpful bacteria. This can improve pH level in the stomach to combat heartburn and bloating. It can also balance intestinal bacteria which research is finding promotes not only gut health but also immunity and mental health. A healthier gut is correlated with a healthier body weight which is where some of the weight loss claims from cider vinegar stem. Mixing a tablespoon with a glass of water should do the trick for the above.
Another area of internal benefits is in mouth, throat and sinus health. This may be more helpful during the winter months but if you feel a sore throat coming on, gargling with apple cider vinegar can keep this discomfort from moving to an infection. Want to kick it up a notch? Try Fire Cider, found locally at Organnon’s, which also contains lemon, garlic, honey, horseradish, habanero and turmeric, all major immune boosters. It may not be proven yet to increase energy levels but in my personal experience, it definitely gets blood pumping and makes more alert!
Fire Cider
Finally, there are some external benefits. Many claims state a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water can calm down the scalp and provide relief from itchy feelings and dandruff. Some will use apple cider vinegar as a natural toner after they cleanse their face and before applying moisturizer. Others claim it improves acne since it can dry out blemishes, kill bacteria and potentially reduce inflammation. More importantly in the summer, if your prone to getting excessive mosquito bites like me, apple cider vinegar is a great topical solution to reduce itchiness.
Natural remedies always trump medication, using products with chemicals or feeling lousy, so give it a try!

Simple Home and Work Changes to Improve Health!

This was written by me and originally posted on the Newtown Athletic Club blog.

March is National Nutrition Month! The campaign theme this year, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”. Proper nutrition, fitness, and a healthy mind are crucial to maximizing physical and mental health each day. While the NAC is a great place to learn to balance these three areas of life, most people find it harder at home and work where one is spending most of their time. The way your environment is set up alone can promote changes in diet and activity whether good or bad. Here I want to highlight some simple changes that can boost nutrition, fitness and health around the clock!

At home:

Start at the grocery store: write a list of the foods you need for the week and stick to it. If they aren’t in the house, you aren’t going to eat them.

Prep healthy snacks: Even if you aren’t a food prep expert, chopping carrots and peppers ahead of time increases your chances of eating them. Any food that takes work is going to sound less desirable at the end your day. Similarly, prep big salads. If there is a big bowl with washed lettuce and chopped veggies, it’s easier to have before dinner. Just cover with a paper towel and press n’ seal wrap so it doesn’t spoil.

Relocate snack foods: look around your kitchen or other dining areas – do you see snack foods right away? Bread on the counter? Put these foods away and replace them with healthier options that you want to see! If they are in front of you, you’ll choose them over the snacks in the pantry. Ideas like keeping fruit on the counter or kitchen island and putting trail mix in candy bowls are helpful.

Relocate produce: While bowl of fruit on the counter helps, many people tell me they will only eat cold fruit. If this is you, put the fruit at eye level in the fridge! Many people go to the refrigerator when bored and what one sees first is more likely to be eaten. Also rearrange vegetable storage. Put meats and cheeses in drawers and keep vegetables in front of you so they stay on your mind. This is also shown in research to reduce food waste!

Stop eating family style: Leave food on the stove or counter and plate it before sitting down. When food is in front of you, you’re more likely to take seconds. Know someone will still be hungry? Put only vegetables on the table so the extra helping is of a nutrient dense food.

Eat without distractions: Make a rule in your home that there is no eating with the TV on, and no smart phones or magazines are allowed at the table. When we eat with distractions, we are less satisfied from meals because we barely notice, or taste, what we have taken in!

Only wear workout clothes to workout: As Americans we are now conditioned in 2015 to wear yoga pants and Lululemon tops all day long. Make a rule that if you put them on, you have to exercise!

At work:

Store “emergency snacks”: For those weeks that you didn’t food prep, days you left lunch on the counter, and meetings that last too long, emergency snacks are key! Here are some of my top recommendations: flax crackers w/ jar of PB & fruit preserves, plain instant oat packets, nuts, trail mixes, roasted soynuts or chickpeas, unsweetened dried fruit, bars like KIT’s, Larabar, KIND, ProBar.

trail mix

Keep a reusable water bottle: People complain when I tell them how much water they should drink and then say how they drink 4 cups of coffee a day at work. Water boosts metabolism and productivity while decreasing appetite. Having a reusable bottle or cup with goals of how many to drink can increase intake and energy levels. Try the Aqua Tally cup which tracks cups per day. You can get it at and use discount code Tally16 for 25% off.

aqua tally

Don’t eat at your desk: This is my biggest goal right now, so I know it is a hard one! Being away from your computer and work increases mindfulness while eating. This means you’ll be more satisfied with your meal or snack, and therefore less likely to want to eat soon after.

Stand up once an hour: Just getting up to stretch once an hour improves not only metabolism but also mental clarity and productivity.

Walk to the furthest bathroom: Every step counts! If you walk further to the bathroom you get to clear your mind a little more and keep your body moving longer.

Sit on a balance ball: Hunched over at your desk all day long? Me too unless I am sitting on a balance ball. It is hard to have bad posture when on it and it also engages your core.

balance ball chairs

Want to learn more to save time, stress, money and benefit your health? NAC members can come to this month’s special nutrition seminar which will cover Food Planning and Preparation. They’ll be held Thursday March 12 and Thursday March 26 at 7 PM. Sign up by emailing me at or Hope to see you there!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Oats

Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. But most products and recipes are loaded with tons of sugar, meaning you feel you can’t have this pair any old day. Not with this recipe! Nutritious, delicious and super filling, this oatmeal has no added sugar with all the flavor :) And let me tell you, it was perfect this morning to warm me up on a snow day! As most people know, I am not a big supplement fan but the Garden of Life brand Raw protein is an excellent option every so often when you need a little boost in a carbohydrate dense meal for balance or after a workout. Another great protein is Manitoba Harvest Brand’s new Hemp Pro protein powders. Enjoy this healthy breakfast that seems like a treat :) – there is even a slow cooker option if you think you don’t have the time!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Oatmeal (V, GF, DF)

Ingredients for 1 serving:

Just double, triple, quadruple as needed!

1/2 cup oats (40 g)
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 scoop Garden of Life Raw protein (original)
1.5 tsp cacao powder
Optional: 1/2 tsp maca root powder
Optional: 1.5 tsp unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 banana, sliced

-In a small saucepan, boil 6-7 ounces water (or non dairy milk)
-Add the oats and chia seeds at once and reduce heat to simmer
-Stir frequently to prevent sticking – quick oats should thicken within 2 minutes and rolled oats within 5
-Add the protein, cacao, maca, vanilla and stir well
-Pour into serving bowl and top with peanut butter, sliced banana, and coconut
Slow Cooker Version:
-Quadruple above recipe
-Use steel cut oats instead of rolled or quick oats
-Add all ingredients except banana and coconut to glass bowl that will fit into slow cooker basin
-Place bowl in slow cooker, fill slow cooker with water up to 1 inch below top of bowl
-Set on low for 6-8 hours, wake up and enjoy!

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 395
Total Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 49 g
Fiber: 11 g
Sugar: 9 g
Protein: 24 g

Sodium: 76 mg 5 % Potassium: 375 mg 8 %

Thiamin: 4 %         Riboflavin: 6 %    Niacin: 20 %
Vitamin B6: 21 %    Folate: 7 %
Vitamin C: 7 %        Vitamin E: 10 %    Vitamin A: 1%
Calcium: 4 %         Iron: 37 %             Zinc: 12 %
Magnesium: 21 %   Phosphorus: 18 %

Omega 3: .65 grams (recommended intakes 1.1-1.6g/day)

**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more
than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns

Sprig and Vine Restaurant – Winter Dinner

Tim and I absolutely love Sprig and Vine in New Hope, PA. We have been dining there regularly this fall and winter, but if it was right here in Newtown, it would be difficult to keep from eating there less than once a week! The all vegan restaurant will blow any carnivore out of the water with each dish’s amazing creativity, flavor and presentation. Not only is everything vegan, but most of their ingredients are local, even in the winter! You can always see the list of farm’s that ingredients have been sourced from that week when you walk in.

To prove this place isn’t just for those on plant based diets, I have my husband. While Tim enjoys eating the vegetarian meals I cook all week, he may order a grass fed burger or filet on a rare occasion while out. Still, he will always be just as excited as me (if not more) about a meal any night at Sprig and Vine, Vedge or Charlie was a Sinner, all completely vegan restaurants. On Valentine’s Day this year, we had two reservations, one at a restaurant in Princeton that serves local humane meats (along with veg options), and one at Sprig and Vine. He made the final decision to go to Sprig and Vine!

At sprig we love to share some small plates, but usually get an entree each too, and I bring half home for the next day. Here is a sampling of one of our most recent visits to Sprig and Vine where we even splurged on dessert. (This happens to often because just like you, we convince ourselves its “healthy” in the moment since its vegan).

Their soups are to die for and change every time we are in. Tonight there were two options but with how much Tim loves any food with a Mexican flare, once he heard “black bean” the decision was made. Here is the black bean & butternut soup with jalapeno cashew cream and cilantro. Flavors really popped by themselves but also worked together extremely well. We could have ordered seconds of this for our dinner and been happy!


On the side we decided to order the baked garlic cashew kale chips. Brad’s Raw, sorry but you have nothing on these! I loved that they were 3 different local kale varieties/colors and Tim liked dipping them in the soup!IMG_7102

Yes, we got another appetizer to share. Couldn’t help it. Black eyed pea sweet potato griddle cakes with smoked paprika aioli. How can I describe its taste any further when the title is that complex? Well like all of the dishes here, the flavor is always balance perfectly, here with sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the spicy paprika aioli, there is the tart from the apple & winter radish salsa. So pretty too!!


Tim’s dinner, not pictured, was the Cauliflower and Fingerling Potato Curry: black quinoa with butternut and chickpea, coconut-curry sauce, fennel-root vegetable slaw, cashew and cilantro. It was delicious, especially the cauliflower, but more importantly my meal!

For years, I swore off tofu. It had a weird texture to me but I have realized that really, I never prepared it well or went to a restaurant that did. Just 6 or so months ago, Charlie was a Sinner in Philly changed my mind about tofu when we accidentally ordered it, and now I have been more open minded trying it at all our fave vegan restaurants! So, on this occasion at Sprig I was extra open minded ordering this dish since I typically don’t love fennel either. Fennel Seed-Seared Tofu: butternut squash caponata, saffron cauliflower puree, sauteed swiss chard, chickpea and fennel, pine nut. The crusted tofu had a perfect texture, and the creamy cauliflower puree balanced out the texture. Swiss chard is hiding under the tofu in the picture but it was a perfect dose of greens! Best part, having half saved for lunch the next day :)


For dessert we picked the Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake: Ginger Snap Crust, Cranberry Red Wine Caramel, Cinnamon-Apple Cider Ice Cream, Miso Candied Walnut. Tim apparently never even liked regular cheesecake and loved this one. I used to ask for cheesecake for my birthday instead of regular cake as a kid, so now being dairy free, having a good “cheese”cake is awesome – this was beyond good and honestly better than I remember dairy filled cheesecake to be. Any and all of the ice “cream” they make to garnish desserts is ridiculously good. Whether a simple vanilla, this cinnamon apple cider one, or the black pepper strawberry sorbet, you’ll never be disappointed with what is on your plate. And who would ever think to elevate this type of dessert with miso candied walnuts?! Thankfully the chef at sprig and vine did!!

IMG_7105So if you’re ever headed to Philly and have the time, venture about 45 minutes north to New Hope, PA. If you’re in NYC and want to get out for a day, the historic town of New Hope on the DE river has a lot to offer on top of this amazing restaurant, and its just a little over an hour away from the city!

If you have any vegan restaurant suggestions for me, local or in other cities, let me know! Meals are the first thing we tend to plan when we travel :)

Easy, Creamy, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus has been super popular for years and I don’t see it going away anytime soon! While it is a healthful snack or spread, you are spending way too much money on it! This recipe can give you 4 times what you’ll get in a store bought container for a lower cost and with a better, fresher taste. Even if you think you can’t cook, it is so easy that I promise you can do this! Since red pepper is one of the most popular flavors, I figured it was a perfect one to post.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (GF, V, DF)

Ingredients :

2/3 C Roasted red peppers (I buy organic jarred or roast my own!)
1.5 cans or 3 cups soaked garbanzo beans
1.5 tablespoons tahini
3 cloves garlic
Black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup warm water

*Purchasing tip: If I do purchase canned, I buy beans at Trader Joe’s because they do not contain BPA. A risk of using canned foods is that the cans are lined with the carcinogenic chemical BPA. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, click here for brands that are BPA free.

-Add all ingredients except the water to your food processor.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus //

-Pulse for 30-60 seconds. If the mixture is very thick and difficult to blend, add 1/8 cup of water. If you use canned beans, you are less likely to need to add the water. Pulse for another 30-60 seconds and then gauge if you think you need the remainder of the water.
-Pulse an additional minute or until mixture is very creamy.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus //
-Add to a serving dish or pour into a storage container and enjoy within a week!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus // Eatreallivewell.comShown above on the right with black bean dip on the top and cashew cheese dip on the bottom. Who doesn’t love a variety of dips for your veggies?! Looking for another fun dip? Try my spicy sweet potato hummus or my dairy free creamy spinach & artichoke dip.

Since my home only consists of myself and my husband, I sometimes will freeze half for next week if we won’t be having anyone over. Just throw it in the fridge a day before you want to eat it :)

Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Garbanzo Beans, aka “chickpeas”, contain protein, fiber, manganese, folate and even some iron.

Tahini which is a paste made from sesame seeds, is an ingredient in the hummus you buy at the grocery store that you maybe never knew was in there. It provides great flavor but also gives you some protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and plant sterols. Vitamins and minerals in tahini include thiamin (a B vitamin), vitamin E, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc.

Red Bell Peppers provide you with tons of Vitamin C (even more per serving than citrus!), lots of Vitamin A and fiber as well as Vitamin E, B6 and potassium. Phytochemicals include lycopene (associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer & heart disease) and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for eye and cardiovascular health.

Garlic provides the phytochemical allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health and act as antibacterial agents.