Festive St. Patrick’s Day Fitness Recipes

I wrote this post for original publication on March 15, 2017 on the Newtown Athletic Club blog.

While many of you may have started celebrating this past weekend, St. Patrick’s Day is officially two days away and you can keep your celebrations lean, green and delicious without the fake food dyes, extra saturated fat, and sugar-filled boozy beverages. Continue reading

2017 Eat More Not Less Produce Challenge


Whenever I am asked my opinions on My Fitness Pal type tracking apps, counting calories, using Weight Watchers and using a food scale to measure each gram of what you’re eating each day, my response is always the same. Do you want to be putting effort into those things for the rest of your life? Because that is the habit you build by engaging in those behaviors.  Continue reading

Winter Nutrition Tips

Happy first day of winter! To celebrate the chilly season, I thought I would make my blog a vlog and share a video on the topic recorded for the Newtown Athletic Club last year.

What is your favorite winter food? I’d love to hear below! I love soup and chili packed with immune boosting garlic & onions… and no I don’t care about the garlic breath!

Giving Tuesday 2016

I have the same perspective the Tuesday after Thanksgiving this year as I did last year. We have taken an extended weekend to indulge, give thanks, celebrate life with our loved ones and, for many spend a lot of money on luxury items from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Now, it’s time to balance it all out and give to those who are just hoping to have dinner tonight and gloves to put on when the weather gets even colder.

Before looking at my favorite charities to donate to below, please take some time to read through the infographic and increase your knowledge on hunger in the world. While it is a resource for nutrition and dietetics professionals, I think the information is simple enough for everyone to digest. Continue reading

FNCE 2016 Recap

Happy Halloween! I already posted some tips on Saturday morning since a lot of the Halloween indulgences and planning occur the weekend before but, here’s a distraction if you’re all Halloween-ed out already or if you need a mental break before trick or treating with your kids later!

This FNCE was one for the books! I am finally feeling back on track at home over 10 days after returning from the conference, but all of the extra work I had to do when I got back, and all of the sleep I lost was absolutely worth it! In this post, I’ll cover the events I attended, a few of my favorite research discoveries/sessions, and chat about what was trending on the expo floor.

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Mustard Greens Fall Power Bowl with Cranberry Dressing

Plant-based protein bowls are part of my diet multiple times per week, especially in the fall so, seeing this theme for The Recipe Redux made me very excited.

“Packed with protein, fiber and color, plant power bowls are trendy and delicious.
Show us the healthy recipe that’s in your bowl.”

Plant-based proteins are not just attractive and delicious. They also provide anti-inflammatory benefits that are great for athletes, particularly those who have joint pain or slow recovery.

It is important to understand that animal proteins do not need to be a part of every meal or even every day in your life. While I follow a very plant-based diet, including eggs and fish, I realize that there is no one diet for everyone and the inclusion of animal products in other’s diets is a personal choice. You need to eat what works for your body. Having said that, research shows that everyone can benefit from more plant-based meals since fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds all promote longevity. Continue reading

Sweet Earth Bowls Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: This post and giveaway are sponsored by Sweet Earth. I received Sweet Earth meals and product coupons. All opinions stated are my own.

As I mentioned in my last Sweet Earth review post, I am so happy I stumbled upon this company at Expo East – and hope to see them there again next month! I am also lucky to have been able to try so many of their products. I think the veggie burgers are still my favorite, and I do recommend a few of their wraps, too. Tim still likes to get a dose of protein from the grounds to mix with a veggie and grain for a meal, especially the chipotle flavor. We were both thrilled with the new Artisan Bowls though, too! We got to try the Kyoto Stir Fry, Borderless Enchilada, and Enchilada Suiza but, my favorite (out of the two dairy free ones) was the Lentils Provencal. Tim really enjoyed the mushroom ravioli and he doesn’t even like mushrooms!

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I had never advocated for frozen, quick fix meals, mostly because of the nutritional content. It may look like veggies and chicken, or even grab your attention since its a “vegetarian burrito” but what else is lurking in that container? In addition to more sodium than you need in a whole day, check out the other garbage in your ingredient list. Sweet Earth has proved me wrong though with real ingredients, a sustainable perspective, enough protein, and lower sodium. If their motto being “Honor and Sustain the Land” isn’t enough for you to see how they align with my values, look at their mission and “eco-clock”!

 

First let’s look at Tim’s review. God bless my food blogger/instagram husband for helping out with these reviews and taking pictures at his desk at work for me! We do, however, need to work on lighting. Tim, I expect you to walk over to Washington Square Park at lunch with Independence Hall in the background for your next product review. Thanks.

As I mentioned above, Tim doesn’t like mushrooms. He thinks they are slimy and even if he doesn’t notice the texture, usually complains about the flavor (unless we are at Sprig and Vine). Here is a direct quote that he sent me after eating it:

“This was really good. Super creamy but the mushrooms didn’t seem as slimy for some reason. The veggie grounds in the ravioli were very flavorful–tasted a lot like meat! I guarantee that people would eat it and think it was a standard meat ravioli.”

sweet earth mushroom ravioli

Sign him up to be a Chopped judge!

Okay, now for my lentil review. Since this meal is lower in calories and protein than most other sweet earth meals, I cooked an egg up quickly (pasture raised and Certified Humane, of course) to pair with and balance out the meal. To make this an easier at work meal, add a hard boiled egg or some pre-cooked tofu and you’ll be good to go.

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I was pleasantly surprised by how fresh and flavorful this was. The herbs still really stood out after being frozen, the lentils were great and most importantly, the texture and color of the green beans were maintained even after microwaving!

And with this one I snapped a pic so you can more easily check the ingredients, which are all available on their site too. At 22% of your minimum need for the day, 340 mg of sodium fits perfectly into a healthy lifestyle! Athletes, you can feel free to salt the egg (or two) that you pair with the meal.

Here is a store locator for where you can find Sweet Earth. I am having a tough time finding the veggie burgers at our local Whole Foods (even though the locator lists them) but, you bet I have bugged the stores and requested they get the product in. Some Sweet Earth Foods products are also at Organnons for any Bucks County folk. The best selection I have seen in a store yet is from Target though! I know, right? You’d never expect that. I didn’t at least. But one day I was curious and strolled down the frozen aisle while there to get laundry detergent or something and there was a massive section with every Sweet Earth product – except the veggie burgers of course.

So, who wants to win some free Sweet Earth food and swag?!

By meeting the entry requirements below, you’re in the running to win:

  • 3 Free product coupons
  • A Sweet Earth t-shirt and swag bag

To enter you must do both of the following:

  1. Follow Sweet Earth and EatRealLiveWell on Twitter
  2. Comment below or on my Facebook page letting us know why you want to try Sweet Earth Foods plant-based meals!

A winner will be chosen at random on Wellness Wednesday, August 23 (my first day back teaching at Bucks for the school year  )– Good luck!

Stress Management Monday – 6th Edition – Emotional Eating Part 2

Hopefully last week’s post was able to shed some light on under- and over-eating issues that many of you have on a daily basis. My goal was for you to see how your daily dietary decisions impact your daily emotions. This week though, I am going to touch on the emotional eating that is more obvious to you.

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As discussed last week, an increase in blood sugar also results in an increase of the feel-good hormone dopamine. Many other things release dopamine too, though. Exercise is one, for example. That’s why exercise can be so great for stress management (my number one reason to move)! Holidays, personal achievements, time spent with family and friends, and positive experiences all release feel-good hormones, too. This is where we really confuse our bodies and minds though. If you think back to childhood (or maybe even this past weekend), positive experiences often involve food and usually not those foods that super nutrient rich. Holidays are known as times to indulge… and often over-indulge. I am sure many of you also celebrate achievements, whether work or life related, with food and drinks too. Again, during those celebrations, it is not usually nutrient-dense foods that we have around. This is okay, so long as we are truly enjoying the taste of these treats with recognition of when we are full and should stop, and so long as we still feel good later on. Unfortunately, that is not how most people engage in these experiences. Even worse than expecting over-indulgence with social functions and holidays, many of you may have grown up with food as a reward for your accomplishments! It could be a reward for a good report card, for success in a sport, for helping with chores and – how crazy is this – a reward for eating healthy. What? Now, in the social world we live in, we celebrate everything! Two weekends ago we paid off my husbands grad-school loans and my first thought was “champagne!” – I am not telling you never to celebrate with food or drinks but, do start to pay attention to the frequency and your actual enjoyment of those things in the moment…

Now, as adults, we see these life experiences not only as excuses to eat excessive amounts of “junk food” but, even worse, are often ignorant to the fact that we are eating foods we may not even enjoy that much. How many of you have eaten a piece of cake or had a drink just because it was there at a party? It may have never occurred to you that you didn’t need to have it since you didn’t really enjoy it. Maybe you weren’t paying attention when you were eating it but, because you were laughing with your cousin or catching up with an old friend, you were releasing feel-good hormones when eating that piece of cake so now your body is associating it with happiness rather than just your positive experience with those people. The same thing can happen with savory foods too, not just sweets. Think back to your childhood. Is there a meal that you love now, such as mac and cheese, or a heavy family recipe? Is it possible that you only love it as much as you do because your grandmother would always make it for you or that you usually enjoyed it at big family dinners? Thinking about those times makes you happy and that food just happened to be there when you were having fun or feeling loved.

If you aren’t yet seeing how this connects to emotional eating, think about the foods you might reach for when you are stressed, depressed, anxious, sad, or any other unhappy emotion. There is a good chance that food is connected to a positive experience you’ve have and in your time of stress or sadness, your mind is taken back to that experience. It can’t recreate the experience for you but, what it can do is bring back a smell or a taste. And now when you’re sad, fettuccine alfredo is your go-to. It may not taste as good as when Grandma made it but in the moment, the processed carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar paired with the thoughts of your childhood release a surge of dopamine and serotonin that makes you feel, for a few minutes, a little bit of comfort. The problem is, as I mentioned last week, that comfort is short-lived and soon your blood sugar is on the floor asking for more food as you feel even more stressed, depressed or anxious.

How can we deal with all of this? Well I have a few tips:

  1. Try to connect the foods you eat emotionally to other experiences they were present during. Next time you are feeling unhappy or stressed, look at a picture from that happy experience or to make you feel good instead of going out for ice cream. If you’re stressed a lot, keep those pictures where you’ll see them often! Save the ice cream for when you can really enjoy a small portion of it and not use it as a coping tool.
  2. Eat more mindfully. If you pay attention to the true enjoyment a food gives you, you’ll realize what you actually need and want to be eating and what you don’t. I am a huge foodie. I don’t continue with bites of foods that I don’t find delicious and, if I am upset or stressed, food never tastes all that good anyway. I already have a blog post on eating more mindfully with a great psychologist as a resource.
  3. Find more nutrient dense alternatives for your comfort foods so that you can enjoy them without the negative blood sugar and hormone responses! Luckily there are plenty of dietitians doing what I do and creating these recipes for you. Head over to my Pinterest Page or the Nutrition Blog Network.
  4. Don’t reward your kids with food. Will this help you? Not directly (unless you tend to get some of that reward when they do). It will help you have piece of mind that you aided in your child having a better relationship with food than you may. I was told growing up by my grandmother to be a member of the clean-the-plate-club. God bless her, I loved her to death but it still haunts me as I must carefully select smaller plates to eat from in every situation I am in!

I hope everyone has a little bit of a better understanding of why they may crave certain foods and a couple of tips on how to manage those cravings too! If you need more personalized help (and most people do) search here to meet with an RD near you!

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Distillery Run and Nourishment Events 

February has been a fun month so far, coming off of a fantastic January, too. I had a couple of speaking events in the past two weeks that were open to the public that I thought I would review since they were so much fun and at such great venues.

The first event on February 6 was the Distillery Run, held in conjunction with the Oddyssey Half Marathon. Their founder and race director is heavily involved in the Philly running community and has seasonal running series and events that support local running charities. This run supported Open Streets PHL.  Carl also directs the Great American Brewery Run series in the greater Philadelphia area. They sound fun too! As long as you enjoy your brews in moderation, of course 🙂

For this event, runners (and myself & another speaker) ran about 3 miles together from the Art Museum steps to New Liberty Distillery. Upon arrival everyone was greeted with a new Philly runner glass on the first floor. We then moved to the second floor, which still has a lot of its old architecture. There, I presented information on nutrition for training, Dr. Michael Ross from the Rothman Institute spoke on injury prevention, and David Wisniewsi from Philadelphia Running Concepts spoke about training for races. The distillery, which used to be horse stables, was such a fun venue due to its ambiance and simple barrel decor! The upstairs, which we spent time in after the presentation portion has a bar and is decorated to enhance its rustic feel. I am not a huge fan of whiskey but enjoyed the tastings. They also have vodka and mixed drinks at the bar if you aren’t a whiskey fan too. I hope to bring other group events here in the future!


Below is first a pic pre-presentation showing off the barrels. Old horse stable doors were still up, too! Next is a shot from my presentation. I think I was talking about medjool dates here!

A special thanks to Siggi’s for donating yogurt for every runner at the event. We had a little leftover which I was able to give away 2 days later at my nutrition for hair, nails & skin event. From a running perspective, yogurt is a great post-workout snack for recovery since it contains quality proteins and carbohydrates that work together to repair and re-energize your muscles. Even though I am allergic to dairy, and I believe more people are than think they are, if you can tolerate it, dairy can be a good source of protein and nutrients for athletes. Siggi’s is a good option because it has such a low amount of added sugar but (per all of my client’s feedback) has great flavor. Another thanks to Energy Bits for 25% off bags of bits for attendees.


My event the following Monday was held at Urban Allure Salon and Spa in Newtown, PA. It was outside the norm but a lot of fun! I educated the group on how to eat to support your hair skin and nail health while hearing best practices for external care from the experts at the salon! I covered the nutrients most essential for skin health, including but not limited to fatty nutrients and water. I also spoke about the benefits of foods over supplements, and how your GI health is related to your biotin status. Below are some foods I was showing off on the left and on the right are some Kneipp natural products.

  

The salon staff popped in here and there to relate my nutrition topics to services provided including massage, scalp treatments, and nail treatments. Jason from CryoSource hopped in to chat about the benefits of cryotherapy (cold therapy) for anti-inflammatory effects since inflammation can impact your skin health. Finally, the seminar ended with a rep from Kneipp products who spoke about the over 100 year old company’s Ayurvedic and natural ingredients that support your skin. From hand lotions to facial masks to bath salts, she had me sold really quickly! Since dryness in my hands seems to be my worst winter issue, I booked a hot oil manicure that night that was SO nice right before my trip to Austin. More on that Saturday!


Above you can see attendees were offered a discount on services and the NAC Cafe also whipped up some Kelly Approved smoothie samples that will be on the menu soon.

In case you missed it, I shared a couple of tips for winter skin in the latest #AskKellyRD nutrition video. Check it out here.