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.

Real Food Convenience Snacks

Life is busy for most of us which can lead many people to make excuses for their nutrition. You need good food to fuel that active life of yours, though! When you are getting the proper calories and nutrients, you will feel more energetic and therefore be more productive each day as you check everything off on your work and life to-do lists. Here are my (current) favorite convenience snacks made with real ingredients for healthy fuel! IMG_7091   Just WOW. That is all I can say about flackers. Believe it or not, I found these wonderful flax crackers for the first time at HOME GOODS. Can you believe that? I had one bite and have been hooked ever since. Now the only place I can find them is Whole Foods, so I try to stock up whenever I am there. Flackers have so much natural flavor that you don’t even think about dipping them into hummus or any other dip. Every time I buy them and eat one I think “these are even better than I remembered!”. They all are made of flax seeds, apple cider vinegar, Braggs liquid aminos, and spices. As the box shows you, the 6 filling crackers pack 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and 4.5 grams of omega-3 fats into just 100 calories. Snack WIN right here.   IMG_7090   Peanuts are excellent because they have slightly more protein than tree nuts, which helps keep you feeling full. A handful of them plus a small piece of fruit can be very substantial. Roasted soynuts are even higher in protein, but lower in calories, with 12 grams and 130 respectively per 1/3 of a cup. They also have a few grams of fiber and lots of potassium which most Americans don’t get enough of. Also in this picture are my go-to packaged bars. The KIT’s Clif bars are similar to Larabars, but they are certified organic which puts them a step ahead. Cashew is my favorite flavor and contains only cashews, dates, almonds and sea salt. If I am craving chocolate I typically go for the dark chocolate almond coconut. Yum! This one has dates, almonds, unsweetened dark chocolate, coconut, coconut oil and sea salt. The nuts and dates in KIT’s bars are an excellent source of potassium, too! IMG_7152   Next is my new KIT’s bar find… Dark Chocolate Chili Almond. OMG this thing is good! I found it at Organnons late last week and had to try it. It has a little more sugar (naturally from the dates) than the other KITs bars, so it is best pre-workout or when you really want a treat. Ingredients include: dates, almonds, unsweetened dark chocolate, sea salt, cinnamon, vanilla bean and cayenne pepper. Again, all organic.

Below is another yummy, organic snack choice with one pure simple ingredient per bag! Bare dried fruit snacks have been hanging around our house and my office lately. I have an apple almost every day, but why not have a baked, crunchy one to change it up once in a while? The mango is great too but like any dried mango, it is chewy not crunchy. Dried fruits can be a great snack but always check the ingredient list before purchasing. You don’t want to see added sugar of any form or sulfites! The bare chips are literally just “organic fuji apples” and “organic mango”. Can’t ask for better than that!

IMG_7092  IMG_7154

New Beginnings and Best Nutritionist Nomination

I have waited way too long for my first post of 2015! In my defense, I have already had a busy month. My husband and I bought and moved into our first home, and have been decorating and painting up a storm. I can’t wait to whip up some new recipes in our new kitchen! I also co-ran an advising institute at Bucks for new faculty advisors, and have had several new work opportunities too. Since it is MLK Jr. day, I thought I would share a quote that drives my career and personality on a daily basis:

photo 1 (1)I am in the field of nutrition not only because I enjoy eating healthy food and staying active. I am always promoting real food and good health because I want everyone to have an understanding of how the daily choices they make impact not only their own health, but also the health of others, food production and cost, and the environment. Ignorance is not bliss. Lack of knowledge, whether intentional or not, will often come back to someone, making them wish they had made changes sooner to prevent the consequences of their actions. No matter how old we are, we should never stop learning or stop evolving our knowledge, beliefs and actions! I hope in 2015 to be able to educate more individuals than ever before so they can make the best decisions for themselves, their families, communities, and our world.

2015, as I mentioned above, is off to a busy, but great, start. I have several new clients and am getting ready for another semester of teaching (which starts Wednesday) at Bucks County Community College. While my best work friend has taken a position at Temple University, and I will miss him dearly, the Exercise Science program we created is really kicking off this semester and I can’t wait to see students benefit from it. I am most excited however, for a new opportunity that begins next week at the Newtown Athletic Club. I have been a member at the NAC for several years now and am thrilled to join their team part time to provide free nutrition seminars to members and other inspiring health programs in the near future. What I love about the NAC is that membership is all inclusive (spinning, group ex, yoga, pilates, pools, etc) and that the owner really wants the nutrition information provided to members to be of no added cost. While I have been reaching and educating community college students and local athletes for over four years now in Bucks County, I am ready to reach another group in the community!


That brings me to another honor/opportunity. I have been nominated for Best Nutritionist in the Bucks Happening 2015 competition. Thanks to anyone who nominated me to get into the contest, I am flattered! I am in the running with some other well established local RD’s such as Kristie Finnan of Eat Right Bucks and Jennifer Lynn Pullman of Nourished Simply. A couple of younger RD’s working under Kristie in Doylestown have been nominated too, including Heather Pavlik. I would love your support in the contest! While I wish I could encourage you to vote daily for me like some contests allow, your email address is able to be used for only one vote, which I suppose is much more fair! You can vote here whether you live in Bucks County or are being counseled or following my blog from afar:

I know it has been a while since I have gotten a recipe up here, so once we are more settled in the new house, I promise something new and exciting will be up!

Forget the Resolutions and Set Some GOALS!

Lists are a big part of my life that help me stay on track with my goals. They help me on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to get everything I need done, done. My “results & meeting daily and weekly planner” called “Action Day” helps with this tremendously. I found it at staples early in 2014 and while I am big on not wasting paper and keeping things electronic, this was a huge piece to my organizational puzzle. I take the lists and tasks from my amazing planner and each Sunday write important points/events on another weekly list (that I purchased at target) that merges with my husband’s important to-do’s. This way we are always on the same page. In anyone’s life this can reduce a conflict that may occur if one forgets something big the other had going on or if one may forget to tell the other.

Action Day 2015 - Best Planner Ever!  Weekly To-Do's   .

Regardless of how you decide to come up with goals, the most important thing is to always write them down! A goal is just an idea until it is on paper; then it is a commitment. I know in our technology driven world a pen and paper sounds like ancient history, but it is much more meaningful to physically write down a goal that to have it/them in a computer file or in your phone’s notepad. It also enables you to put the goal(s) in a place you will see it/them daily. My husband and I chose to keep our 2014 goals on our refrigerator this past year so we could not avoid them.

Before I get to my method of goal setting for the New Year (or at literally any time), I want to highlight that goals are easier to attain when they are SMART:

Here are examples of common goals one might set for nutrition versus ones that are SMART and well thought out:

smart goals

Sample Goal: Lose weight.
Sample Unrealistic Goal: Lose 10 pounds this month.
SMART GOAL: Lose 3 inches off of my waist circumference by July 1.

I I have one tip for everyone related to the above examples: STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE. Don’t let it define you. In the US we easily let pounds on the scale and BMI define us, when in reality those number often don’t correlate with health.

Many times the “realistic” is the part we forget when setting well thought out goals. Last year my husband had a goal to “always pack lunch for work”. This was completely unrealistic since he has many lunch based meetings and he therefore did not accomplish it. “Bringing lunch to work 4 days per week” is likely a more attainable goal.

Now for my approach to goal setting…

After reading a bit, attending a conference session, and listening to a great RD role model Chere Bork in 2013, I had a discussion with my husband and we decided to take a new approach to the whole “New Years Resolution” thing for 2014. I am ecstatic to say we reached almost all of our goals. The only mutual goal we did not meet was making it to church every single Sunday. The only personal goals I did not achieve were doing my physical therapy exercises twice each week (for my hip and knee from running), and making it to yoga twice every week. I could easily look at this and say I failed at those goals. However, it is much better to focus on what we DO not what we don’t. Looking back, I am able to say we made it to church very frequently and never skipped just to sit around, I ran a half marathon injury free this year (first time in 4 years) and I made yoga a priority any time I was feeling stressed or out of balance. I’d say those are all positives!

Hopefully you are getting motivated to set your own goals. Here is how Tim and I create ours. First, we have determined that we will always set goals together. These goals are for our home, time together, faith, travel, and time for family and friends (you can set others too!). We then set our own personal goals. I believe, at minimum, personal goals should cover the following areas:

-Personal Growth
-Spirituality or Religion
-Home/physical environment (can even be your office!)
-Family and friends (including significant other)
-Fun and stress relief

As one of the songs in the movie “Frozen” tells kids (love that movie), we too as adults should remember that we are all a “fixer-upper”. No one is perfect and will always have something to work towards. Just because you don’t want a new job or you think you are as healthy as can be does not mean there is nothing to work on. For example here are a couple of goals in these areas for 2014 and this coming year:

Example 2014 Goals

-Finalize and have the exercise science POS approved
-Help students start a nutrition club (spring semester)
-Complete my 3rd half marathon (fall 2014)
-Go to yoga classes twice each week

Example 2015 Goals

-Reach out to local colleges to research a new nutrition program for Bucks (Spring 2015)
-Volunteer in the area of kid’s health and food insecurity (once/month)
-Complete an olympic distance triathlon (by august 2015)
-Eat my lunch without distractions, away from computer/work (daily)

For those of you who have struggled with the same goals in the past, ask yourself why. Maybe losing weight hasn’t happened for you because you keep going on fad diets or skipping meals. Maybe a better approach is to have small action plans each month that support healthier habits. In January you can eat breakfast every day. In February drink an extra glass of water a half hour before each meal. In March, add a serving of vegetables to your lunch and dinner. If time management is a constant struggle, you may be trying to multi-task too much. The planner I mentioned above may help with that but maybe you also need to find ways to manage stress, prepare meals for the week, or to sleep more. Another tool I recently learned about is found at The program allows the user to create categories and priorities, set reminders, share lists, and set recurring dates.

No matter what approach you decide to take in order to become the best version of you, remember that achieving goals and building new habits will always take time. Finally, stay positive – it makes everything easier!

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