22. October 2015 · Comments Off on Cooking at Home: A Beginner’s Guide · Categories: Healthy Eating

Man in kitchen cooking lunch - Focus on food

After working with clients over the past five years, one thing is apparent:  Many people lack confidence in the kitchen or the know-how.  They understand home-cooked meals are an important foundation for their health but they may lack the time, skills or motivation.  Instead of telling you all the benefits of cooking at home (because I am sure you have heard them all. Blah. Blah. Blah), today we are going to discuss how to actually get cooking!

Step 1- Set a Goal:  This first step is very critical and different for everyone. How many meals are you willing to cook this week? Be realistic.  If you rarely cook meals at home then it might not be realistic for you to begin cooking three meals a week.  Maybe just one meal a week would be a good start.  The purpose of this goal is to set an intention for the week ahead of you.  Lots of research supports that people are more likely to stick with their goals if they write them down.  So, WRITE IT DOWN!  Even if it is just on a sticky note. Then place it on your fridge.  An example might be, “I plan on cooking at least 2 meals at home this week.”

Step 2- Incorporate the Family:  If you have multiple family members in your house or roommates then get them in on the action!  Ask them what meals they would like to eat at home for the week.  Make it a family affair.  Eating healthy can be challenging if other members in the house are not on board.  By including them in the decision-making process they have more of a buy-in.  As an extra bonus, other family members may want to get involved with cooking the meals.  More hands = lighter work :)

Step 3- Look for Healthy Recipes: Sometimes this can be the most difficult task. What is healthy? As a general rule you want to stay away from recipes that are high in sugar or deep fried.  I know what you are thinking… Then where is all the flavor?  The flavor will be in the spices.  Look for recipes with a variety of spices.  It is okay if there is a some sugar or fat (1-2 tsp per serving).  In fact, including some fat in your meal helps you absorb the fat soluble nutrients such as A, D, E and K. If you are looking for healthy recipes I enjoy eatingwell.comvegetariantimes.com, or food52.com. There are lots of other great websites out there too.  Don’t always worry about choosing the healthiest recipe.  The most important thing is that you are starting to cook.

Step 5- Make a List & Check It Twice- This step is key!  Don’t just go to the grocery store and expect to know everything you need to buy.  After finding some recipes make sure to write down all the ingredients you need to buy.  Nothing is more frustrating than starting to prepare a meal and realizing you are forgetting a key ingredient.  By making a list it also helps set your intention that you want to prepare meals for the following week.

Step 6- Get the Right Tools- Every time my husband starts a new house project he tells me, “Every new project requires a new tool.”  Well I have latched on to that idea and now make sure I have the right “tools” for my cooking projects.  It is amazing how much easier and faster cooking becomes if you have the right tools and equipment.  Did I mention cooking can become more fun too?   I love  my mandolin, sharp knives, cast iron skillet, food processor and Vitamix just to name a few :)  I will make sure to write more on this in another blog soon :)

Step 7- Just Do It!-  When something is new to us it can be frightening and intimidating.  It is easy to come up with excuses and shy away from the unknown.  But once you get over this hurdle the cooking part will be easy.  Sometimes our biggest obstacle is ourselves.  You can do it! It may help to visualize yourself in the kitchen making a meal.  One of my favorite yoga teachers says, “Visualization is actualization.”  Athletes use this strategy all the time to see results.  Commit yourself to one meal and and then just do it!

Step 8- Try. Try Again- Remember how I just said that you should just do it?  Well sometimes the harsh truth is that it does not always work out :(  And that is okay!  Not every meal is going to be perfect.  In fact, not every meal will taste good.  The important thing is to try, try again.  As you continue to cook your skills and confidence will improve in the kitchen.  Cooking is like everything else.  It takes time, patience and trial and error to develop.  Trust that you will continue to improve.  On a side note, I was trying to make a liver meatloaf this last weekend.  One word: Disaster.  I was trying to expand my palate and….well…it did not work out.  But that’s okay.  I am still going to try and experiment with new recipes (maybe even liver, who knows? :) ).  That is how you grow your skills.

Now that you are ready to start cooking.  What meals would you like to start creating in your home?

22. September 2015 · Comments Off on Going Gluten Free? 5 Things to Consider First · Categories: Healthy Eating

a gluten free breads on wood background

When I was a nutrition student the gluten free diet trend was just starting.  To be honest, I had my hesitations.  Many health professionals were poo-pooing it and calling it the latest fad.  As with any fad the gluten free phase would soon fade away.  In the meantime I would continue to promote whole wheat products. Well guess what?  That was almost 10 years ago and gluten free is still here!  In fact, the gluten free market is still growing.

Gluten free products have become a multi-billion dollar industry.  Even mom & pop restaurants are offering gluten free options to their customers.  Most surprisingly to me, almost every pizza place offers gluten free pizza crust!  Pizza! My Italian grandmother must be rolling over in her grave. “That’s not real pizza,” I can hear her saying.  I wonder what the New Yorkers and Chicagoans think of gluten free pizza?

So, what does all of this mean?

Is the food industry taking advantage of unsuspecting customers?

Or is gluten a true enemy that should be avoided?

Since graduating college I have discovered the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  Yes, there are people who should ALWAYS avoid gluten. This group of people would include those diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy.   Most reports estimate that 1% of the US population have celiac disease and  about 2.5% have a wheat allergy.  There is also a group diagnosed with non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity (NCGS) which accounts for about 6% of the population. These people have GI symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation when wheat/gluten is ingested, but they lack biomarkers for celiac or wheat allergy  NSGC is less understood but is being more accepted in the medical community.  These people may be able to tolerate a small amount of gluten but larger amounts likely wreak havoc on their body.  This group of people should mostly avoid gluten products.

There are a variety of other claims out there reporting that elimination of gluten may alleviate symptoms associated with ADHD, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, infertility, migraines, skin issues, joint pain, Alzheimer’s, autism or schizophrenia.  But do they hold water?  Some preliminary research is suggesting YES!

Now, does this mean going gluten free is the answer for everyone?  

No, but it is worth looking into if you have ongoing health issues but no answer as to “why?”  If you have ailments that are affected by gluten, you should begin to see improvements in your health within 2-4 weeks once gluten is eliminated from your diet.  If no improvements are observed, then you likely do not need to continue to eliminate gluten (unless you have multiple food sensitivities with gluten being one of them).  When starting any elimination diet I always recommend consulting your physician or dietitian first to make sure you are executing an elimination diet in a safe manner.

If you do choose to embark on the gluten-free journey please consider the following.

  1. Rule out other causes first- I can’t stress this enough!  If you feel that something may be wrong with you then GO SEE A DOCTOR!   I understand it may be more tempting and easier to consult Dr. Google, but you may be ignoring something that is more serious than a gluten intolerance.  You might have a thyroid issue or  inflammatory bowel disease or ??.  If you are concerned you have a gluten intolerance make sure to get tested for celiac BEFORE you eliminate gluten.  Once you eliminate gluten from your diet, the test for celiac will no longer be accurate. Your test will come back “negative” for celiac disease when indeed you have it.  It is important for someone with celiac to avoid gluten forever, whereas someone with gluten intolerance may be able to tolerate gluten in small amounts.  You and your doctor will want to know the difference.  If you feel better removing gluten from your diet, would you really want to add it back in to test for celiac?  Probably not.
  2. Intention-  Why do you want to remove gluten from your diet?  If you want to feel better, improve your energy level or lose weight then it may not be necessary to remove gluten from your diet as a first step toward improved health.  I would recommend first to decrease the amount of processed food in your diet.  Many people feel better and lose weight while eating a gluten free diet, because they are also eliminating processed food and refined sugar.  If you are choosing  whole foods and still feel lousy, then consider eliminating gluten.
  3. Meeting Nutritional Needs–  Once you eliminate gluten from your diet you run the risk of nutritional deficiencies. In addition to the natural occurring nutrients in wheat products, many wheat products such as cereal and flours are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals to help the population meet their nutritional needs.  If gluten is removed from the diet you may not be getting enough fiber, biotin, B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium, and chromium.  The good news is that you can still get these nutrients from other food products such as beans, dark leafy greens, nutritional yeast, prunes, oranges, strawberries, meat proteins, and non-gluten containing grains (i.e., quinoa, buckwheat, rice).  The key message here is that you do not need wheat products in order to be healthy, but YOU DO NEED to get your nutrients from alternative sources
  4. Keep A Food Journal-  A good tool to use while eliminating gluten is a food journal.  This journal allows you to record the food you consume and your symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, headaches, insomnia, indigestion, and etc.  The purpose of the food journal is to help you identify a correlation between the food you are eating and negative symptoms that develop.  If your symptoms resolve on a gluten-free diet then you may benefit from continuing gluten free.  However, if your symptoms continue then you do not have a gluten sensitivity or there may be another food culprit.   For instance, you may notice that every time you eat chocolate you develop a headache six hours later.  If you believe you have multiple food sensitivities than I would recommend seeing a health professional.
  5. Keeping up with the Kardashians-  Eliminating gluten from your diet can be socially isolating.  Even though there are a lot more gluten free products out there, you may be limited on your food options when you go to parties or friend’s houses.  Is this a good enough reason not to try gluten free if you feel it may help?  No, of course not!  Your overall health is more of a priority!  However, I like to recommend to my clients to think ahead of time before embarking on the gluten free journey.  You need to be prepared to bring your own food sometimes to social gatherings.  It can be helpful to look at restaurant menus ahead of time or call ahead to a social gathering to see if there will be gluten free options.

Developing a healthy gluten free diet may take planning and dedication, but if you feel your health may improve on it then it is worth it!

Till next time,



IMG_0816The beginning of our Lost Coast Journey reminded me of a horror movie. No cell phone service. Sleepy coastal town. Dense fog. Solitude. Warnings of danger ahead.

As to be expected with any horror movie our shuttle never arrived to take us to the beginning of the north end of the trail. Being the persistent bunch that we are, we decided to pile six people ranging from 14 to 62 years old into an F150 extended cab pick-up. Not to mention we also had our two German Shepards plus luggage. The local General Store provided us with directions since we could not use our cell phones. Next, we headed down the windy, narrow, dirt road for 2 hours. Where were we??? The adventure began :)

Just to give you some background, my husband has been talking about backpacking The Lost Coast for years now. It is one area of the Northern California coastline that has been virtually untouched by human civilization. Due to difficult terrain and seismic activity, highways and roads have not been built in this area. The northern trail is about a 24 mile stretch along the coast. The terrain involves A LOT of sand and large rocks which can be difficult to maneuver with a 30-40 lb pack on your back. When we told our family about our upcoming trip many of them wanted to join in on the fun. That was how the clan of six was started (Eric, my brother, my dad, dad’s fiancé, fiancé’s daughter and of course, Yours Truly :) ). Did I mention none of us, except for Eric has done anything like this before?

1st night camping spot

Sunset first night

1st camping night spot

1st camping night spot

So what was I most afraid of in this horror movie setting? Bears? Being attacked by a sleeper wave? Drowning at sea? Breaking an ankle? Nope. My biggest fear was going hungry. My husband and I began preparing our food weeks ahead of time. Thats right…weeks! I knew we could purchase “freeze dried” meals but they were expensive and had lots of unknown ingredients in them. So I decided we were going to make our own dehydrated food! (Ok- truth. I just love new cooking experiments). For inspiration I viewed the flavors of popular “freeze dried” meals and browsed backpackingchef.com.   To make it easy on myself I mostly prepared pasta with meat sauce dishes and a quinoa black bean mixture.  The goal was to have adequate protein and carbs with each meal to help fuel our journey.  Here are some pictures of our dehydrated food.  I used a cheap dehydrator but if you want a nice one I have heard good things about the Excalibur.

Pasta with squash noodles and meat sauce.

Pasta with squash noodles and meat sauce.

In addition, we packed dried oatmeal for breakfast, protein bars, nuts, dried fruit, jerky (homemade elk jerky from my friend was a hit), and peanut butter Nutella sandwiches. We had  a lot of food and I think it is safe to say we did not go hungry :)  My food alone weighed 10 lbs!  Luckily we did not need to pack in water because there were plenty of  fresh water streams along the trail.

The most scary moment of our trip involved an impassable area at high tide.  Prior to starting our hike we were warned that we could not be on the beach at high tide or we would be swept away.   Many areas had high cliffs lining the beach and once high tide rolled in there was no escape.   The area we needed to pass was a little over 4 miles and involved sand and large black rocks. We were only averaging 1 mile/hr!  We read the tide charts ahead of time to determine when we needed to begin our hike on the second day.  For various reasons we were running a little bit behind schedule.  High tide was scheduled to be at 6:11 pm and it was only 2:10 pm but it was apparent the tide was coming in faster than expected.  We were not sure how much farther the stretch was before we reached high ground.  We kept hoping that high ground was around the corner but it was not. Tensions were high and feet got wet but we made it out safe and sound.  We later learned that you should not be on the beach once the tide reaches 3.5 ft and that was at 2:40 pm. We cut it close!

An area of impassable at high tide.

An impassable area at high tide

In life I have found the unknown to be scary and haunting at times.  But many times my fears and worries are worse than the reality of the situation.  Once the tensions of the high tides were behind us I began to embrace the majestic scenery around me and soak in the natural environment.  Wow.  It was truly beautiful.

The solid surface was a relief after miles of sand and boulders.

The solid surface was a relief after miles of sand and boulders.


A dead humpback whale washed up onto shore

A dead humpback whale washed up onto shore



Looks like our dog is missing a head. Lol. That is what happens with a panoramic :)


Bear prints along the beach

Bear prints along the beach

Along our journey down the coast we saw a variety of wildlife including deer, fawns, seals, bear prints, crabs, starfish, vultures, and pelicans (my personal favorite :) ).  We even saw two different whale carcasses  (Grey and Humpback) washed up onto beach.  The fragility of life was apparent. Burnt trees from a past a fire lined miles of the coastline, while other areas were lush green mountainous landscapes that kissed the shore.  Every couple of miles or so there were fresh water streams meeting up with ocean that provided a nice area to rest.

The hubby and me.

The hubby and me.

Otis with his booties on!

Otis with his booties on! Can you see the dead Grey Whale in the background?

Adam & Eric embracing the rain.

Adam & Eric embracing the rain.

We found a whale bone rib and hung it in the community camping site for all to enjoy.

We found a whale bone rib and hung it in the community camping site for all to enjoy.

Dad and the kids!

Dad and the kids!

The question is... How tall is Eric or how short are the rest of us?

The question is… How tall is Eric or how short are the rest of us?

The most special part about this trip was being able to spend it with my husband and family.  The four day trek provided us with lots of stories to tell around the Thanksgiving dinner table for years to come.  We worked together as a team and as my dad would say, “We got the job done.” :)  My horror movie setting ended up turning into a family classic!.  Maybe we can start thinking about the Pacific Coast Trail next????

Black Sands Beach. The home stretch

Black Sands Beach. The home stretch


19. July 2015 · Comments Off on Get Cultured: Homemade Yogurt · Categories: Healthy Eating

IMG_0497Yogurt has been a part of a variety of cultures including India, Greece and West Asia for centuries. I have always enjoyed eating the varieties of yogurt produced by the different regions bcuase each one has their own unique taste. The other day my friend asked me if I wanted to make homemade Greek Yogurt with her. Heck yeah I did.  I am always on the lookout for new recipes and different techniques to expand my cooking skills.  Plus, I really like Greek yogurt and it gets expensive.  Have you seen the prices lately?  Whole milk, organic Greek yogurt costs around $8 for 32 oz. A lot of mulah!

My friend purchased the Greek yogurt culture from Cultures For Health  (Caution: You will want to purchase everything on this website). The great thing about this culture is that it can be re-cultured indefinitely. In other words, you do not have to keep buying the culture. Once you make the first batch you can use the last 2 Tbsp to make another batch. Pretty cool, huh?

So why make your own yogurt?

First and foremost, it is fun!  Watching the little microbes multiply into a finished, yummy product is amazing.  It is like a science project you can eat :)

Second, you can save almost 50% of the money you spend on yogurt.  This can add up to a lot if you eat yogurt on a regular  basis.  For my yogurt I used a half gallon of organic whole milk from Costco. Total cost= $4.66 for 32 oz of finished organic yogurt product.  Not too shabby.

Third, you are getting a good dose of live cultures.  These bacteria have the potential to live in our gut and improve our immune system and keep our gut healthy.  These bacteria can even produce B vitamins, Vitamin K and short chain fatty acids as a by-product which our body can utilize.

So now that I have you inspired, lets get to cookin’.

What You Will Need

1/2 gallon of whole milk

Greek yogurt culture





Wooden spoon

Cheese Cloth


1. Turn crockpot onto warm setting (you will come back to it later)


2. Heat milk to 185 F in saucepan while stirring constantly.  Hold at at 185 for 10 minutes. It does not need to be exact, but within 5 degrees is desirable.


3. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 F. Once 110 F is reached stir in culture. Then transfer liquid to crockpot. Don’t stir culture in before this time or you may kill the culture.


4. Place lid on crockpot and turn off.  Then place towels around crockpot to help keep it insulated.  The goal is to keep the milk between 100-110F. If it is too hot then the cultures may die. If it is too low than the cultures may hibernate and not reproduce.


5. After about 3-4 hrs check temp of milk. If it is below 105 F, then turn crockpot back onto warm setting, and rewarm milk back up to 110 F. Then turn off and let sit another 3-5 hrs.

6. Wa lah!! Now you have yogurt. It will likely be watery.   I like mine thick so I strain it in a cheesecloth, or fine mesh material.


7. Now make sure to save 2 Tbsp of your yogurt in another container for your next batch.


Typically yogurt needs to be incubated over the course of 7-12 hrs.  The longer it incubates the more tangy it becomes.  If you do not have a crockpot there are other ways to incubate the yogurt. Check out this site for more ideas.

IMG_0498I enjoy my yogurt plain with berries in it, but if you want to sweeten it up you can also add jam or honey to give it more  flavor.  The best thing about making your own homemade yogurt is learning new skills and improving your confidence in the kitchen. Let me know how your yogurt turns out :)  Till next time, K




imageUnless you are a dietitian, I doubt you are aware that today is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day! In fact, the entire month of March is considered National Nutrition Month (R).  I know! Who would have thought, right?  There is never any publicity except for the occasional mention of it by a blogger (like Yours Truly :) )  or on the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND) website.  The theme this year is, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.”  BORINNNNNNG!!

With a theme like that, it is no wonder that National Donut Day gets more recognition (plus donuts are much more tastier to bite into).  So instead of discussing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle (which I am sure you know already), I wanted to focus on what being a dietitian really means and what we actually do.

So what exactly is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, other than just being a REALLY long title? 

An RDN must graduate from an accredited four year college with at least a BS in Nutrition Sciences.  Most people think the course work consists of home economy classes but in reality it involves a lot more science including organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and physiology.  Lots of fun stuff!  Not only are the classes challenging, but students need to receive at least a B+ if not an A in most of their classes in order to be accepted into an internship.

Now listen up because this internship stuff is crazy!  After graduating, if the student wants to become an RDN they must compete for a position in an accredited dietetic internship.  These internships provide the student with at least 1200 hrs of supervised practice and usually last for about a year.  These internships are REQUIRED to become an RDN.  Unfortunately, at this stage lots of students dreams are crushed because there is only about a 50% acceptance rate into these programs.  If a student is accepted they are only offered one program and may be required to move across the country for the coveted position.  Not only are these positions difficult to get into, but they are a huge financial commitment.  Most cost at least $5000 (Mine cost $8000 and now is $15300), which does not include cost of living.  Interns work their little butts off by putting in at least 45+ hrs/week if not 60-80 hrs depending on the internship.

Once the internship is completed, the student can qualify to take the Registered Dietitian National Exam.  And if they pass… Wha-Lah! They are an RDN!

But it doesn’t end there!  In order to keep their registration, RDN”s are required to have 75 hrs of continuing education every 5 years.  Not to mention about 50% of RDN’s have their Master’s degree.

Is a nutritionist the same thing as an RDN?

Nope. Believe it or not anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.  They do not even require a degree or any sort of certification.  This is why it is important for you to do your homework on someone who is calling themselves a nutritionist before seeing them.  There are lots of smart, well intentioned nutritionist out there, but there also a lot wackos. Take care of your health (and pocketbook) and do your research first.  If you find someone that is credentialed as an RDN then you can be assured they have had the proper training.

“What would you say you do here?” (<- Get it? Office Space, anyone?)

When you think of a dietitian’s job, what comes to mind?  Weight loss counseling, diabetes education, a glamourous blogger position?  Dietitians may perform these jobs (The blogger one probably least and far between 😉 ), but they do so much more.  In honor of Registered Dietitians Day I wanted to highlight the wide range of careers dietitians might embrace.

The most popular place for a dietitian to work is in the hospital.  You might believe that all they do is provide nutrition counseling, but this is actually a small part of their job.  They have a large role in the ICU, trauma and cancer units.  You know those TV shows where they portray people sleeping peacefully in a coma with no tubes?  Yeah… Not going to happen.  In real life many of these people require temporary tube feeding to meet their nutritional needs and this is where an RDN comes in.  An RDN will calculate their nutritional needs (calories/protein/fat/carbs) and recommend a tube feeding regimen.  If nutrition support is provided within 24-48 hrs to a critically ill patient it may improve their length of stay in the hospital and recovery time. If a patient does not have a functioning GI tract such as a with a small bowel obstruction they be required to be fed directly into their blood through an IV and bypass the GI tract altogether.  Interesting, huh? Once again, the RDN will calculate their nutritional needs and may even manage their electrolytes. I could write a whole book about what dietitians do in the hospital but for the sake of a shorter blog I will skip that!

Other dietitians may be specialized in very specific medical nutrition therapy. For instance, I know a dietitian who primarily works with children who have epilepsy.  To help prevent the onset of seizures, these children require a high fat, low carb diet .  She helps improve the quality of life of the child and their families.  Another dietitian I know worked as a oncology dietitian with stem cell transplant patients.  Talk about specialized!! Most of the time her patients GI tracts were not functional, and therefore, provided nutrition support directly into their blood vein.  It is a big responsibility. If electrolytes are managed improperly or if carbs are provided too fast then it may cause harm to the patient.

Dietitians may also work in food service such as in a school district.  They are given the challenge of providing healthful foods to our kids while balancing a strict budget.  It is a tough job!   You are the slave to two hands, the parents of the children demanding healthy food and the money gods of the government.

I am getting towards the end of my blog and there are so many dietitian jobs I have not mentioned yet but running out of time to do so. I will list other areas that RDN’s might work in.

  • Military
  • Sports– These RDN’s work with athletes at the amateur and professional level
  • Women Infants & Children (WIC)- A government program aimed at providing nutrition education and supplemental food to low income families with children < 5 yo old
  • Renal Dietitians- This is another form of specialized medical nutrition therapy.  Those with end stage kidney require a special diet to follow to avoid toxins building up in the body
  • Corporate Wellness Programs
  • Insurance companies
  • Food companies such as General Mills and McDonalds (yes, McDonalds!)
  • Pediatrics-  Even though there is growing number of obese children, these RDN’s also work with children with disabilities requiring nutrition support
  • Gyms
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Writers/Authors
  • Food Allergies & Intolerances
  • Women’s Health/Fertility
  • GI Health 
  • Eating Disorders

As you can see there are so many different areas that a dietitian may work in and each require a unique skill set.  While I do believe that  nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, I also want to point out that nutrition can be an important part of healing.   What sets an RDN apart from a “nutritionist” or “health coach” is that we have the knowledge and experience to help improve the quality of lives of those suffering from a chronic condition. Yes, we may be able to help someone lose weight, but most importantly we can help improve someone’s nutrition status while they go through cancer treatment, or help prevent muscle loss from your aging grandmother.  We can help provide nutrition support to a loved one after a suffering from a stroke or to a cerebral palsy child who cannot feed themselves.  As dietitians we want to be part of your health journey.

If you see a dietitian today please thank them for the work that they do.  Their boss may have bought them lunch or gave them a coffee mug today, but recognition from you will mean so much more. Till next- K


19. February 2015 · Comments Off on Love This New Food! · Categories: Healthy Eating

Food52Lately I have been eating this food on crackers, in salads, with pasta, on top of rice and by itself.  It is high in omega 3’s, contains 30% of my calcium needs, an excellent source of vitamin B12 and selenium, a natural source of vitamin D, and packed with protein.  Not to mention it is brown bag friendly and does not require refrigeration.  Can you guess what it is?


Wait Wait!  Don’t go yet. I know this salty protein may not be very popular, but it has loads of benefits and worth giving a chance.  And my philosophy is, “Don’t knock it , till you try it……maybe 10-15 times”  :)

If you are not used to eating a food it may take 10-15 times before you like it.  When trying something new your taste buds may need to acclimate to the new flavor.  The first time just take one bite, then the next time take just take two bites.  Don’t force yourself to continue eating something you do not like because you will likely develop an aversion to it.  Instead try preparing it in different ways and eventually you may develop a taste for it.

After learning about all the different health benefits of sardines and with the increasing price of wild salmon I had to give sardines a try.  My first plunge into sardines was straight out of the can.  Yep.  Hardcore.  I can’t say I would recommend this route.  They are quite fishy and visually unappealing.  But I did not give up hope.

I began searching out different brands of sardines.  Did you know they are prepared in a variety of ways?   You can find them packed in water, in virgin olive oil with lemon, in tomato sauce and even in cayenne pepper?  I am sure there are even more ways but that is how I found them.  My favorites were the ones packed in tomato sauce or in olive oil with lemon.

Next, I began looking for variety of preparation styles.  I first went back to my Italian roots and prepared it with a pasta.  It was a smart smart move.  I combined my comfort food (pasta)  with a food less familiar.  By doing this I began to enjoy the sardine flavor.  Even my husband liked it!   If you are interested I used a recipe from Food52 (The one featured in the picture).

Then I continued to try sardines in a variety of ways.  And you know what?  I eventually developed a liking for these salty little fish.  I even have a can of sardines in my desk at work (And yes, my co-workers think I am a little strange).

I have discovered my favorite way to eat  sardines is in a salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.  There is something about the balsamic flavor that brings out the best flavor in sardines.  Including avocados and red onions is also a good bet.

My sister-in-law enjoys sardines best over rice.  There are just so many ways to eat them :)

Now that I have you curious about sardines I also want to let you know they have very low mercury content compared to other fish because they are low on the food chain.  Plus Pacific Sardines are a sustainable source of protein according to the Seafood Watch Program.  It is a win-win.  They are good for your body & sustainable for the planet.  Plus,  if you are eliminating dairy from your diet, sardines are an great way to get your calcium and vitamin D in.   The next time you are in the grocery store give these little fish a try.  As a bonus they are also good on the pocket book :)




12. February 2015 · Comments Off on How My Habits Have Changed Since Becoming A Dietitian · Categories: About me, Healthy Eating, Intuitive Eating, Nutrition

DSC_1042In senior year of college, while pursuing a business degree, I enjoyed reading fitness magazines, juicing, working out, and counting calories (Yes, I liked counting calories). I began to shed an extra layer of fat and became fascinated with nutrition.  In fact, I loved nutrition so much that I decided to pursue a second degree in it and added 3 1/2 more years of school (not to mention school debt $$$) to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).  Over the years I have continued my love affair with nutrition and I am always on the hunt for the latest nutrition research.  As I gather new information I have noticed that my health habits have changed over the years.  Here is how being a dietitian has changed my health habits.

1. I No Longer Count Calories-  When I first started my nutrition endeavor I thought counting calories was a must.  How could you keep your weight under control if you did not know how many calories you were eating?  Well it is actually easier than I thought.  I realized that calorie counting did not always equate to good nutrition.  For instance, I would buy protein bars and packaged foods because there was a nutrition label on them.  I could easily add these foods towards my total daily calorie intake.  However, when I prepared my own foods from scratch it was much more difficult to count calories.   With apps such as myfitnesspal.com  it is possible to compute these equations but truly a pain in butt.  I stopped counting calories because it was not a way to live and I was discouraged from eating homemade real food.

2. I Buy Organic Whole Milk Products- I used to buy skim milk.  Why?  Because it is lower in calories.  Once again, calories were governing my food choices.  I have since switched to organic whole milk dairy products.  I know this is a debatable topic because there is lots of conflicting evidence out there on whole milk versus low-fat dairy.  We all tend to find evidence that supports what we want to believe.  For me, I believe in organic whole milk products! I tend to favor foods that come in their more natural form.  Some studies show that whole milk helps keep you lean  while other studies have suggested that low-fat dairy may affect a woman’s hormone levels (and not in a good way!).   Overall, I keep my dairy intake to 1-2 servings/day and I do not feel that the extra saturated fat and calories are harming my health.

3.  I Eat Local Eggs-  In college I used to shy away from eggs.  Why you ask? You guessed it!  Because of the extra calories and fat.  I would eat an egg white omelet to avoid all the extra fat and calories.  But the yolk is where is where all nutrients are like Vitamin E, Vitamin A and choline! Local eggs tend to be from chickens that graze on pasture as opposed to being grain feed.  These eggs have higher vitamin content and twice the amount of omega 3’s than store bought eggs.  I am fortunate enough to have 3 hens of my own and my sister-in-law gives us extra eggs when she can.  We are so egg-cited to have farm fresh eggs! 😉

4. I No Longer Juice-   While I was growing up my dad would pay me an allowance to juice for him in the morning.  I would put carrots, apples, celery and beets into the Champion Juicer and create delicious concoctions.   As I began focusing on my health during college I bought a Jack LaLanne Juicer.  I was stoked!  I put everything in it and loved the fresh tasting juice in the morning.  I thought it was a healthy option.  Then I realized I was putting a lot of apples and beets in it, which was essentially sugar without the fiber to fill me up.  Yes, it had vitamins and minerals in it, but I was missing a key opportunity to get more fiber into my diet.  Plus, juicing gets really expensive!  I chose to start eating my veggies more and when I did want to drink them I placed them into a Vitamix to help keep the fiber. To learn more about the benefits of fiber click here. Including vegetables at meal times also made me more satisfied with my meals and lowered the glycemic load.

5. I Eat Fish at Least Twice Weekly–  Other than the occasional tuna sandwich I never ate fish.  It was not because I didn’t like, it was because I did not think about it.  Then over the years I became aware of how important omega 3 fatty acids are for the body.  Our body does not produce its own omega 3’s and we must get them from our food sources. The best way to get these fatty acids is through cold water fatty fish like salmon, trout, tuna and sardines.  Albacore tuna contains higher levels of mercury so I tend to choose this option less frequently.  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on sardines :)

6. I Listen to My Body-  After reading books, such as Intuitive Eating and Am I Hungry?, I began developing a relationship with my body.  I ate when I was hungry and became more in tuned when I was full.  I  no longer feel the need to eat everything on my plate.  When I was counting calories, sometimes I would be starving but felt guilty about eating more because I was already at my maximum amount for the day.  On other days I would eat more even though I was not hungry because I had 200 more calories left that I could eat.  Our bodies need more calories some days than others. Listening to my body helps me regulate what I need when I need it.

7. I Don’t Exercise to Punish Myself-  This is a big one!  When I ate something that was not considered healthy, like a piece of cake, I would estimate how many calories were in it. Then I would tell myself that I was going to burn it off at the gym.  This way of thinking made exercise a chore!  Now I exercise for the many benefits including STRESS RELIEF!! Exercise has become a positive outlet for my well-being, instead of something “I have to do”  because I ate chocolate cake.  Moving my body has become a pleasant experience.

8. I Aim for Balance- As I am sure you can tell from my blog, I believe balance is key!  Each meal I aim to include a protein, a starchy food (carbs), vegetables and some healthy fat.  Including a variety of different foods makes it more likely I will meet my nutritional quota for the day.  The plate method is a useful tool to include balance and variety.  I also feel that nutrition is only one part of the health puzzle.  It is important to strive for balance in all areas of my life including relationships, work, and play time :) Developing balance in my life helps me fight off any unnecessary stress (which is terrible for my health).

9.  I Don’t Expect Perfection- It is easy for me to get caught up with rules and goals.  But I have realized there is no perfect diet and there is no perfect life.  I will continue to seek for balance, but I understand that sometimes it is okay to be off kilter.  This dance is what makes my life perfectly imperfectly balanced :)

There are actually many more habits I have changed over the years, but it is difficult to include them all.  Maybe in another blog :) Comment below on changes you have made in your life.  Till next time, K

11. December 2014 · Comments Off on The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself: Be Present · Categories: Healthy Eating, Intuitive Eating

Be present this Holiday Season!


With the holiday season in full effect it can become easy to wish yourself into the New Year.  The stress of buying gifts, preparing holiday meals and being in constant contact with endless arrays of cookies can leave some us feeling uneasy.  We often feel guilty and unable to enjoy the pleasures the holiday season brings.  This season give yourself the gift of being present (pun intended  😉 ).

The Situation: The Cocktail Party

You know how this goes.  You walk into the room and see a beautiful spread of appetizers and delicious desserts.  Your heart begins to flutter and anxiety begins to creep in.  How are you going to refuse all this yummy food?  You start with the veggies and dip, then dabble in some shrimp cocktail, and then grab a handful of nuts.  You are being good, right?  Then as you mingle with the guests you keep thinking about the cookie dough cheesecake.  In fact, you are not even paying attention to the conversation because you are thinking about the cheesecake.  Later in the evening you become tired of refusing and you decide to have  just a bite of cheesecake.  Then a bite turns into the whole thing, and now what?  That’s right! You figure you might as well eat more because you have already fallen of your diet. At the end of the night you feel stuffed and regretful.  Who wants that?  I have another method for you.

Be Present

Before you arrive to the party check in with yourself.  Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?”

How hungry are you?

What do you feel like eating?

Sweet? Salty?  Savory?

What do you want feel like when the party is over?

As you begin to scout the spread of food, pick out your favorite food items and place them on your plate.  It might be tempting to try everything at once but focus on your favorite ones.  Remember the rest will still be there later.

As you begin to eat your food, begin to savor the flavors.  What do the textures feel like?  Being present allows you to appreciate those salted caramel shortbread cookies.  Often times we rush through eating these “sinful” foods and don’t enjoy the experience.   What’s the fun in that?

Allowing yourself to enjoy the pleasure of the food will leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to over indulge.  Check in with your hunger scale as you are eating.  Do you still feel hungry?  If you are beginning to feel your stomach, then you have likely filled your biological hunger cues.   If you are continuing to feel hungry then honor your hunger and if you feel satisfied then respect your fullness.   By you using this approach you will not feel deprived or sick from over eating.

I know this method may be much easier said than done, but as with everything it becomes easier with practice.  I encourage you to try being more present at your next party and see what happens.

The Situation: All the Extra Sweets in the House

Cookies.  Brownies. Cupcakes. Oh my!  It seems like everyone is giving you gifts of food during the holidays.  You know they are well-intentioned, but it makes you uncomfortable having so many “decadent” foods around the house.  You end up eating the cookies on the counter as you pass through the kitchen without even noticing, or grab the bag of caramel popcorn as you watch your favorite Christmas movie (Home Alone anyone? :) ).  Sound familiar? You don’t even like sugar cookies but some how they disappear…. So what is the solution?

You guessed it!  Be Present!

Okay, so you have all this extra food in your house.  Once again pick out your favorite items.  You love the chocolate peanut butter balls, but those chocolate chip cookies are little on the too crunchy and flat side for your taste.   Keep what you love and get rid of what you don’t.  Maybe you could bring the cookies to work (Of course if a co-worker gave them to you it could be a little awkward :) ) or place them on the dessert table during a holiday party.  The point is you are not obligated to eat the food you do not love.

Next place all the food you love into a designated area.  It might help to put it out of view because we all know how the See Food Diet works.  This helps to prevent you from mindlessly eating, because you want to enjoy the food you love, right?  Then when the moment is right and you desire to have that homemade toffee you will be present to enjoy it.

It helps to turn off distractions while you enjoy the foods you love.  When the TV is on or you are playing on the computer it becomes much easier to not be present to the food you enjoy.   Once you become present you will begin to notice you may not eat as much as you usually do.  And of course periodically check in with your hunger scale to help be your guide.

Being present not only allows you eat the foods you love, but it also provides you with the opportunity to savor and remember this holiday season.  Really listen to the conversations you have, feel the music you hear, and embrace the ones you love.  Happy Holidays everyone!


Viral MarketingAre you confused about nutrition?  I understand why.  Every day it seems like there is a breaking news story telling you what you should or should not be eating.  It is so frustrating! They use a catchy title (like the one I used :) ) to get your attention and then they unload information that may or may not be true.  The media is sabotaging your diet because they tend to take one study about a food item or diet and promote it like it is the holy grail.

Take for instance the debate between low-fat/high carb versus low carb/high fat.  At one time low fat/high carb diets were all the craze and now low carb/high fat diets are the new thing.  The media is constantly vilifying one food item and glorifying another.  Living in these extremes can create a poor relationship with food.

Food is not the enemy!

Carbs are not the enemy!

Fat is not the enemy!

Even calories are not the enemy!

So what is the enemy?  Would I be too “Zen-like” if I said there is no enemy?  :)

A healthy, nourishing diet includes all the macronutrients- carbs, protein and fat.  Is there an optimum amount of each? Maybe.  It depends on activity level, individual metabolism and genetics. I encourage my clients to include a little fat, protein and carbs at each meal.  This will help prevent blood sugars from spiking and provide sustained energy throughout the day.

So what is important in a healthful diet?


Focusing on the quality of the diet will help you maintain your health and avoid unwanted weight gain.  Including more whole foods and eliminating processed foods tends to be a good bet.  For instance include lean proteins such as fish, chicken, and lean cuts of beef instead of more processed proteins such as sausage or pepperoni.  Include complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, and quinoa instead of refined carbs like white rice, white bread, pastries.  Focus on including more healthful fats such as olive oil, avocado or even butter instead of margarine or vegetable oil.  And of course make sure to include  fruits and veggies :) Even though the media likes to single out some of these as being a “superfood,” all fruits and vegetables carry some benefit.

Focusing only on macronutrients such as carbs, protein and fat can get you into trouble.   For instance, if you are on a low fat diet and replacing the fat calories with refined carbohydrates such as pretzels, crackers and sherbet then this might be detrimental your health in the long run.  If you are on a low carb diet and replacing the carbs with sausage, lard, and T-bone steaks then this could also have long-term consequences.

Focus on the quality of the diet and not the latest news story.<—Tweet this

There is always going to be the next superfood or new diet to try. But remember, sticking with whole foods and eating a variety of different nutrients never gets to be old news :)





06. November 2014 · Comments Off on Could you have PCOS and not know it? · Categories: Healthy Eating, Supplements

Interracial Group of Three Beautiful Women Friends SmilingThe answer is yes!  Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic disorder that affects 6-10% of women in the US and can often go undiagnosed or untreated.  If left unmanaged it can lead to diabetes, heart disease, endometrial cancer and/or reproductive issues such as irregular periods, infertility, and pregnancy loss.  Some bad stuff, huh?

So what exactly is it?

The exact mechanism is unknown but PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects your hormones. Typically your ovaries produce a small amount of testosterone and other androgens, but with PCOS they produce more than a normal amount and can cause extra hair on your body or acne. Due to the hormone imbalance many women with PCOS develop small cysts on their ovaries, hence the name “Polycystic” meaning “many cysts.”  Women with PCOS are also typically insulin resistant and do not metabolize carbohydrates efficiently .  Their blood sugars tend to be high and they crave carbohydrates.   Since about 50% of women with PCOS are obese, those women who are lean are often overlooked at having PCOS.

How do you know if you have it?

As with any diagnosis it requires a doctor to make the final confirmation.  However, if you have the following symptoms I encourage you to let your doctor know so he/she can run the proper tests.

  • Irregular (more than 40 days) or absent periods
  • Excess hair growth on face, chest, stomach
  • Acne
  • Infertility
  • Excessive abdominal weight
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Hair loss from head
  • Dark, dry patches of skin
  • Intense carbohydrate cravings

Is it treatable?

Yes, but first it must be diagnosed. The good news is PCOS can be managed with drugs and lifestyle changes. Many women are placed on Metformin or thiazolidinediones to help manage their insulin levels.  Diet and lifestyle changes can also have a big impact on blood sugar levels, heart health, weight loss and fertility.  Here are some ways to to help mange PCOS with diet and lifestyle:

  • Weight loss of 5-10% can improve fertility and blood sugar levels in those that are overweight/obese
  • Participate in 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week
  • Eat less refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, candy, cookies, and pastries
  • Eat more fiber containing carbohydrates such as 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice rice, whole grain pasta and fruit
  • Include lean proteins such as chicken, fish and turkey in your meals
  • Include healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil and peanut butter
  • Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov to learn about portion sizes
  • Certain supplements such as cinnamon may help manage blood sugars

Diet and lifestyle changes can be in integral part in managing PCOS. Such changes may be easier said than done. Working with a dietitian can help make the journey easier and provide you with the skills you need to succeed.  If you would like to learn more on your own I would recommend the PCOS Workbook by Angela Grassi.  Most importantly, if you feel you may have PCOS please see your doctor soon.