Food for thought during every walk of life

Children (1-10):

As summer winds down and children are back in school, you may think the hassle of stocking up on snacks, introducing new foods and sneaking veggies into favorite meals is over—well, think again. According to studies, the nutritional habits of school-aged children are defined during this crucial time because of growth requirements and physical activity.

Although amounts vary, children and adults require the same daily nutrients. And because children are rapidly growing, it is important to plan meals and snacks that provide the recommended amount of servings each day. A variety of vitamins and minerals support growth and development during the childhood years. Children tend to eat what’s available. Unfortunately, a lot of kid-friendly snacks are packed full of sugar, artificial ingredients and chemical fillers.

To keep your children satisfied nutritionally, here are ten healthy snack ideas:

  • Homemade tortilla chips with salsa
  • Flavored rice cakes (low sodium) with nut butter
  • Homemade fruit roll-up
  • Low-fat cheese stick
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Fruit smoothies with spinach, berries, skim milk and/or banana
  • Homemade trail mix—with raisins, nuts, dried fruit
  • DIY ice pops—with coconut water and fruit
  • Low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese topped with fruit
  • Veggies with hummus or low-fat dips
  • index

    Teenagers (11-19):

    Teenagers are a unique breed. Curious, but stubborn, many teens choose comfort and convenience before nutrition and benefits. By introducing healthy, whole foods early on, studies show the habits will stick with them for life. Slowly but surely, start buying less and less processed food, junk food, soda and refined food and replace them with their alternatives (see my post on health substitutions here). If it’s there, they will eat it, so make sure what is available is nutritious and filling.

    Encouraging rebellious teens to eat healthy, organic foods can be exhausting, but laying it out in tangible terms seems to be effective. Demonstrate what processed foods are made of by doing experiments like this one here, talk about the costs of healthcare and how whole foods are helping counteract diseases/illness or even do a family challenge to cut one unhealthy item a week and share the struggles and how you all feel afterwards.

    Here are ten tips to help teens discover the importance of real food:

    • Introduce them to the kitchen early. Show them how to use the oven to bake/cook their own food instead of relying on the microwave to heat up frozen meals.
    • Explain to them the difference of sauteing, steaming, baking or grilling your food instead of frying, smothering and breading (and how to order healthier foods in restaurants by avoiding terms like battered, crispy and creamy).
    • Talk about portion control! A common way many teens put on weight in their high-school/college years is by simply eating too much for their daily consumption needs.
    • Share the differences between whole foods versus processed foods. Instead of them grabbing an applesauce pouch and a bag of chips, explain to them that a whole apple and a bag of freshly cut veggies will not only be more nutritionally satisfying, but also keeps them fuller longer.
    • Instead of buying sugary juices and sports drinks, show your teen how to make delicious smoothies/juices. Experimenting with smoothies/juices is not only fun for curious teens, but also helps teach them the importance of getting the recommended amount of veggies/fruits.
    • Whether it is pizza, nachos, pasta or chicken tenders, put a homemade and healthy spin on teen favorites to show them how easy and fun it is to make it their own way. They may not want to go back to the greasy, high-fat versions.
    • Make a family challenge to cut out one unhealthy food a week and replace it with a healthier version (ie: white pasta for quinoa, processed peanut butter for whole almonds or cow’s milk for almond/coconut milk) and see what the consensus is.
    • Try at least one new food a month. Branch out and try something as a family that no one has tried before whether it be an ethnic dish, a super-food or a new kind of meat, it will be fun sharing the experience together.
    • Toppings like full-fat cheese, bacon, croutons, butter and salad dressings are not only full of extra fat/sugar/salt, but also add almost no nutritional value to meals. Instead encourage your teen to choose toppings that are flavorful and pack a healthy punch like avocado, nuts/seeds, veggies, extra virgin olive oil/coconut oil, organic mustard and salsa.
    • Explain ingredient labels and nutritional facts to teens. Many times drinks like Powerade, Snapple and Arizona Teas or frozen foods like pizza rolls, chicken wings or burritos are 2-3 servings each—deceiving to a teen who thinks there is only 60 calories in the entire bottle/package.

    Young Adults (20-35):

    Young adults are always on the go. Whether hurrying to class, preparing for a wedding or welcoming a baby into this world, nutrition often times takes a back burner. Although many young adults know what is healthy and what isn’t, many on their own simply cannot afford healthy choices or simply aren’t aware there are alternative options. Good news is that there are staples that can be purchased in bulk (see my list of must-haves for clean eaters), saving weekly trips to the grocery store, time cooking meals every night and most importantly—money.

    Browsing through Pinterest boards, I’m finding a lot of young adults are also looking for convenience and getting the most bang for their buck. Crockpot meals, bulk frozen meals and prepping weekly meals/snacks are some of the most commonly searched topics as well as trendy diets/fads like wheat-free, dairy-free and meat-free entrees.

    Here are ten wonderfully easy, cheap and healthy recipes (most are kid-friendly!):

    And for those who don’t have access to an oven, grill, stove or crockpot (I’m talking to you college kids), here is a list of healthy microwavable recipes (please, for the love of God, stay away from Ramen, Kraft Mac ‘N’ Cheese bowls and frozen dinners).


    Middle-Aged Adults (40-60):

    Nutritional needs of middle-aged adults differ greatly from those of children and young adults. At this age, older adults are mostly done growing and developing meaning maintaining healthy and active lifestyle becomes a main priority. By staying fit and meeting nutritional needs, older adults lower the risk of developing age and weight related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

    Dietary needs should also be established during this stage of adult life. Although well-educated about nutrition, many adults are consuming too much of the wrong things like saturated and trans fats, sugar, salt and artificial ingredients because it is what they were brought up on. Adults wanting to achieve a healthier lifestyle need to makeover their staple foods and tune into their knowledge of food, nutrition and exercise to help meet their goals.

    Here is list of ten food no-no’s (and their healthy alternatives):

    • Ice cream—loaded with fat, sugar and calories (try dairy-free ice cream or frozen Greek yogurt)
    • Condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce and sweet-and-sour sauce—loaded with sugar (try mustard, horseradish, salsa, hummus or lemon juice)
    • Creamy salad dressings like ranch and Caesar—loaded with fat and calories (try balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil and vinegar, or lemon juice)
    • Restaurant-style French fries—loaded with fat, simple carbs and salt (try homemade sweet potato fries or mashed redskin potatoes)
    • White pasta—loaded with simple carbs and calories (try quinoa, brown rice, wild rice or orzo)
    • Soda and sugary juices—loaded with empty calories and sugar (try flavored waters or sugar-free/calorie-free natural soda or homemade juice)
    • Spreads like butter/margarine or mayonnaise—loaded with fat, salt and calories (try healthy-fat spreads like avocado, hummus or Greek yogurt)
    • White bread—loaded with simple carbs and fat (try sprouted grain bread, whole wheat or oat-based breads)
    • Table sugar and salt—loaded with artificial chemicals (try stevia or pure honey for sugar and use kosher sea salt, Himalayan pink salt or salt-free herbs for table salt)
    • Coffee-based drinks and store-bought smoothies—loaded with sugar and fat (try black coffee, hot tea or homemade smoothies with fresh berries, greens and almond milk)

    Remember talk with your doctor to see if taking a multivitamin and/or supplements like omega-3, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin C for heart health, strong bones and a healthy immune system works with your diet.


    Elderly (65+):

    Elderly adults’ diets are often times not well-balanced. Along with getting the recommended amount of veggies, fruits, grains and protein, many older adults should incorporate supplements and vitamins to boost overall health. While some elderly adults live in assisted living homes, many are home-bound and are conflicted with incorrect nutrition information. It’s important at this age to schedule regular doctor’s visits and and establish your personal needs, proper nutrition and any health risks that come with aging.

    Here are 10 tips to maintain and improve senior citizen health:

    • Talk with your doctor about taking supplements such as calcium, omega-3 and vitamin D which reduce heart disease, cancer, arthritis and preserve bone health to ensure a well-balanced diet.
    • By limiting sodium intake, you reduce hypertension/high blood pressure, a common ailment of the elderly. Avoid processed or frozen food as well as restaurant food and incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet.
    • As you age, you become less thirsty. It’s important to hydrate your body with the proper amount of water (6-8 8 oz. cups a day).
    • Incorporate changes gradually if there is a sudden medical condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes with the proper nutrition.
    • Be creative with meals by making smoothies to ensure you’re consuming the necessary nutrients. Make sure you don’t do this for all meals or it could cause malnutrition or diarrhea.
    • Get enough sleep each night. Elderly adults should be getting around 7-8 hours of sleep a night. As you age, you may have trouble sleeping. Talk with your doctor about an over-the-counter natural sleep aid or a special pre-bedtime diet.
    • Although you may not feel hungry during mealtime, it’s important to consume the necessary nutrients otherwise malnutrition can set in. Try eating with others, talking with your doctor about medication side effects and establishing an eating schedule to follow.
    • Even if you currently don’t have any medical conditions, it’s important to speak with a nutritionist or doctor about nutrition information for the elderly.
    • To reduce uncomfortable bloating and constipation, eat plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are whole grains, flax seed, beans, popcorn, oats, nuts and vegetables.
    • If you are not able to prepare your own meals, call for help! Many programs like Meals on Wheels deliver food for home-bound adults. Programs like these prepare healthy and fresh dishes that conform to the NIH guidelines and typically store in the freezer.




The power of food

Hello readers!

It has certainly been some time since I have posted! After two summer vacations and a trip to Tennessee, we’ve been so busy! After splurging during the holiday season and eating out almost every day on our trip, my body was craving some healthy food. I don’t know about you, but when I drink booze, I don’t crave a Big Mac in the morning, I crave a smoothie full of nutrients. It’s amazing the power good food has on our body. After watching a documentary called “Food Matters”, it astounded me the attitude doctors and big business have about our health. Sure, being healthy is wonderful, but it doesn’t make money! All the pills, creams, powders and surgeries are doing is reducing the size of our wallets. It doesn’t cure our ailment, but masks it. What did our ancestors do back in the day? The answer: good food. Food is medicine. Bottom line is what you are what you eat. Eat good, healthy food and you lessen your chance of getting sick, becoming obese and being reliant on pills.

Every cell in our body feeds on the food we eat. As I mentioned before, our bodies are starving nutritionally. The abundance of processed foods makes it difficult and expensive to eat raw foods. But, our body needs it. Did you know food can make you not only look better, but feel better? So next time you’re shopping, turn your grocery list into an Rx for what ails you. Check out this list of super foods that heal:

1. Painful heartburn? Try foods with insoluble fiber like fresh veggies as well as replacing refined grains like white rice and pasta with their whole-wheat counterparts. The more fiber your body consumes, the less time food spends in the stomach, which helps keep acid from coming back up.

2. Got the sniffles? Eat foods with selenium like tuna and halibut. Selenium helps build up white blood cells—particularly those responsible for killing bacteria and viruses, even the flu! Head to the nearest fish market and chow down on some fish this winter. If you’re not a fish person, try eating foods with probiotics like kefir, yogurt, kimchi and tempeh to also keep your immune system strong.

3. Muscle or joint pain? The omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon and sardines can help relieve muscle and joint pain. You can also try adding in tart cherries to your diet because they have anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Allergies got you down? Try munching on nuts and seeds like almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds (and even some vegetables) that are chock-full of vitamin E, which may help reduce the allergic response. Apples, onions and berries are also considered an “allergy drug” as they prevent immune cells from releasing the histamines that cause those symptoms.

5. Battling a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)? Studies suggest drinking parsley tea. It has been shown to be an antibacterial force against the germs that cause urinary tract infections—even some of those that may be resistant to antibiotics. You can also try cranberry juice which is found to keep bacteria from attaching to bladder cells and causing infection.

6. Experiencing moodiness or dementia? Lean meat, beans and broccoli are all dishes that are rich in folic aid as well as vitamin B12. These vitamins help prevent disorders of the central nervous system, mood disorders, and dementia.

7. Reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and respiratory disease. Adding kiwis to your diet adds an astonishing amount of vitamin C as well as offers natural blood-thinning properties, reducing the formation of blood clots and lowering LDL cholesterol.

8. Prevent eye disease and vision loss. Spinach is a power food full of nutrients like vitamin K, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and iron. The green leafy vegetable is not only great for improving eye sight, but also good for brain function, guards against colon, prostate, and breast cancers; and lowers risk for heart disease, stroke, and dementia!

9. Kidney and liver disorders.The pesky weed that we all try to rid our lawns of is actually very nutritious. Dandelions provide our bodies with vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A. It’s also one of the best sources of beta-carotene. Dandelion has been used for years to treat hepatitis, kidney stones, jaundice, and cirrhosis. It’s routinely prescribed as a natural treatment for anemia and liver detoxification.

10. Diarrhea, ear infections, coughs and constipation. Carrots contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin C, and an incredible amount of vitamin A. The alpha-carotene in carrots has been shown to cease tumor growth. Carrots also  promote eye health and prevent cataracts. Carrots are also used to treat rheumatism, kidney stones, tumors, indigestion, diarrhea, night blindness, ear infections, earaches, skin lesions, coughs, and constipation.

As you can see, food is the most powerful medicine on this planet. Without these super foods, our body cannot perform to its full potential. And the best part: adding these foods to your diet doesn’t have to be boring or expensive.

As promised, here are a few clean recipes that utilize some of these super foods.


Pumpkin Oat Cookies:

2 cup oats

1/4 cup pumpkin (not pumpkin pie puree)

2 Tb. unsweetened coconut

2 tsp. chia seeds

1 medium banana

Add all ingredient together in bowl. Mash up banana and ensure mixture sticks together. Place on baking sheet at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Add cinnamon on top for added flavor.


Eggplant Mini Pizzas:

1 eggplant

2 pieces of string cheese

1 can tomato sauce (no salt added)

Oregano and basil

Cut eggplant into 1 inch piece. Lay on paper towel to dry (pieces will begin to turn a yellowy color). Add tomato sauce, oregano, basil and sprinkle low-fat cheese on top. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese melts. Serve immediately.


Sweet Potato Sliders:

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 cup spinach

2 pieces of cooked salmon

1 avocado

1 cup Greek yogurt (or kefir)

Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes (until tender). Slice into 1 inch pieces. While potatoes cook, bake salmon in oven on 375 for 15 minutes until pink. Cut into 4 pieces and serve on sweet potato pieces. Add yogurt and avocado in blender until smooth. Add a dollop of avocado “sauce” on slider. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Add Spinach once cooked.


Buffalo Chicken Wontons:

Low sodium hot sauce

2 cups of cooked chicken (skinless)

1 package of wontons

1 cup of low-fat cheddar cheese

1 package of low-fat cream cheese

This isn’t technically clean, but an easy (and protein-filled) recipe to bring to any party! Add wonton wrappers to muffin tins (I laid two in different directions). Cook chicken and add warm cream cheese. Mix mixture together. Place into the wonton “cups” and sprinkle cheese. Bake in oven on 350 until cheese melts and wontons are crisp (15 minutes).

How to chow on the holidays

What comes to mind when you think of the holidays? If you said food, you are correct. No matter the holiday, people find reasons to overeat. Turkey, ham, burgers, pecan pie and cookies galore. In fact, according to national studies, holiday eating results in a 1-2 pound weight gain per year. With the aromas of delicious food and the pressure from Aunt Sue to eat the last wing, it’s hard to maintain your figure, let alone lose weight during the holidays. Fear not! There are ways you can control the amount and kinds of food you eat. By following the ten tips I’ve provided, you can stay healthy through each holiday season.


1. Make time for aerobic activity! Working out can help rid yourself of holiday stresses and prevent the weight from piling on. Try just a 15-minute walk or run once a day.

2. Don’t skip meals. Before you leave the house, nibble on some veggies and hummus or a handful of almonds to keep hunger at bay and you won’t be as tempted to over-indulge on junk food.

3. Eat until you are satisfied, not when you are in a food coma. Eat slowly and eat small portions.

4. Watch your drinks! Alcohol induces overeating and some drinks have as many as 500 calories per glass. Non-alcoholic beverages can also be full of calories and sugar.

5. If you overeat at one meal go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal consumption to gain one pound.

6. Stop focusing on food. Make cookie making time into making crafts with family, playing cards and stay away from the kitchen/grill!.

7. Cook your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering. That way you know at least one food item you know is healthy.

8. Do some research on how to prepare holiday dishes lower in fat and calories. Substitute these ingredients in for the traditional ones to make them healthier.

9. Fill up your plate with mostly fruit, veggies, fresh greens and lean protein and limit mashed potatoes, breading, processed meats (like brats, hotdogs and deli meats) and anything fried.

10. Don’t restrict yourself too much. It’s ok to have your favorite treats, but just find a smaller piece or stop at one plate instead of getting seconds.


Go ahead and follow these tips–what do you have to lose?…except the food baby bloat


That being said, everyone have a safe and happy Fourth of July and make good healthy, choices!


Why diets don’t work

Hello my lovely readers,

Today is day 3 of my 5 day juice cleanse. I know what some of you are thinking; cleanses don’t work because the body naturally detoxes and it’s not permanent weight loss. Well, I’m not doing this to lose 6 pounds in 3 days or permanently remove a major food group out of my diet. Truthfully, I needed to up my veggie intake and I wanted to see how the power of juicing veggies/fruit has on the body. After the half way point, I feel more alert, less bloated, more energetic and I have even lost 1.5 pounds (which is huge because I’ve been plateauing lately). I simply juice twice a day using fresh produce like spinach, kale, ginger root, apples, lemons, mangoes, carrot and cucumbers and then I eat a bowl of homemade mixed veggie soup with spicy tomato sauce. I also throw in beans, nuts and a little yogurt to keep me from becoming ravenous during the day and also replenishes my protein. I am eating the same amount of calories in a day as I did before–no, I am not starving myself, just experimenting with more nutrient-dense food.

I got to thinking today that there are SO many diets, cleanses and fad detoxes out there. People want a quick fix and they don’t want to work hard for it. So yes, cutting out an entire food group like carbohydrates, protein or fat will most likely lead to initial weight loss. What people don’t know is that that most of that weight is water weight and that 10 pounds they magically lost in a week will come back–and in some cases are accompanied by even more.


Many of today’s popular diets are too low in fat, which leaves people hungry right after eating. These kinds of diets don’t work because you eventually overeat to keep from feeling like you’re starving. Same goes for diets limiting carbs– these usually can’t be maintained for long because our bodies need a certain amount of carbohydrates to function properly. Diets limiting carbohydrates leave your body feeling fatigued and usually puts you in a bad mood. This is because carbs are the body’s main form of fuel needed for energy.


Another reason diets fail is because they’re way too low in calories. Your body needs a certain number of calories each day just to maintain normal day-to-day functioning. Diets that drastically cut calories puts the body in starvation mode by downgrading how many calories it needs at rest because it’s trying to conserve energy. The pounds people lose from cutting calories are most likely lean muscle mass rather than fat because muscle burns more calories so your body wants to rid itself of that and hold onto fat for energy. Then, when people return to their old habits, their weight skyrockets and piles back on plus some.


Although all food groups are essential for well-being, some foods are more important that others. This doesn’t mean you need to completely remove it from your diet, just keep that food item as more of an occasional treat. Red meat, eggs, sugar, good fats (oil, avocado, nuts) and wheat are just a few examples of items that are fine every once in a while. Just because it’s a good fat or natural sugar doesn’t mean you can eat twice as much–sugar is still sugar and fat is still fat–just remember moderation is key.

Simply put, a diet or fad detox doesn’t work long term and neither do magic shakes or weight loss pills. Losing weight should never be advertised as an immediate result. If so, run far, far away–it’s a scam! Weight loss takes time and patience. Fat in your body didn’t accumulate overnight, so you can’t expect to lose it overnight. Eating clean and committing to your lifestyle will give you the results you are looking for if you stick to it and follow it truthfully.

Here are 5 ways to embark on a lifestyle change (instead of a diet):

1. Start a food journal. Be honest. What you eat in private shows in public.

2. Find an accountability partner. Friends, partner, family–doesn’t matter–just make sure you keep each other on the bandwagon.

3. Plot out your goals and envision your success. Make short-term goals and reward yourself with items other than food like a massage, new shirt, shoes or a weekend away.

4. Don’t get too down on yourself. We all fall sometimes, we’re only human. Getting back in the game makes you stronger and you will be happy you didn’t throw in the towel

5. Be your own cheerleader, but share your journey with others. Don’t expect others to motivate you, but who knows, maybe some day you will be the one motivating others.

I hope this helps answer questions about the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change. Anyone can go on a temporary diet, but it take guts and willpower to pursue a lifestyle change and I’m here to tell you–YOU have what it takes, don’t give up on yourself!


Get in my belly!

Hello readers,

I’ve done a lot of talking about clean eating and how to go about it, but I have neglected to post some of my favorites recipes as well as give you some ideas to make your favorite foods healthier ones. You can make ANY recipe a healthier substitute–that is the good news! Bad news is, if you are not a good cook, you may want to brush up on your skills!

I was strictly a microwave and ‘just add water’ kind of cook for most of my college career. Once I started my new lifestyle, I learned more about ways to cook my food in a more healthy way and how I can make fresh, healthy meals while I’m on the go. Don’t fall in the fast-food trap! Fail to plan, plan to fail!

I started food prepping in January and it’s been a godsend! I no longer have to rush home at 5 o’clock and be a slave to the oven for two hours+. Food prepping saves me time, money AND helps us measure portions. 

I usually use different kinds of lean meat like extra lean ground turkey, chicken breast, salmon and tilapia (cook them by baking or grilling) and I pair them with an assortment of frozen mixed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, corn and carrots and sometimes I add black beans, kidney beans, mushrooms, spinach, quinoa or brown rice. With those ingredients, the possibilities are virtually endless. I prep all my meals on Sunday nights for the week. I measure them and put everything into Tupperware containers, put half in the fridge and mark their dates. The ingredients usually last at least a week and a half, so I try to put some in the freezer if there are extras. 

Buying a huge pack of chicken, fish or veggies saves so much money because 1. things don’t spoil as fast and 2. fewer trips to the store (less gas!) and 3. buying in bulk actually is cheaper!


Using the list of foods I mentioned in my last post give so you many options for meals. You can put your twist on anything! Here are some of my favorites that I have made:

Quinoa and turkey stuffed peppers:


I used red/orange peppers for this delicious and filling dinner! I carve out the insides of the peppers and stuff it with cooked quinoa, ground turkey, mushrooms or beans and top it off with slices of string cheese. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes on 380 and voila!

Pineapple and turkey pizza:


This is so easy and tastes delicious! For the crust, I use rolled oats, greek yogurt and 1 egg. I mix them all together until it is a dough-like consistency. I spread it onto a baking sheet and then pile on the low-sodium tomato sauce, pineapple, slices of organic turkey (or turkey bacon) and I grate some almond cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes on 380 and you have yourself a healthy, low fat pizza!

Protein pancakes:

Normal pancakes are so carb-filled and unhealthy. These bad boys have 3 ingredients and are just as easy to make!

For 4 pancakes: Mix 2 eggs, 2 egg whites and banana in a blender or Magic Bullet until all chunks are mixed up. You can add peanut butter or protein powder if you would like a different flavor. Pour onto skillet and cook just like normal pancakes. Usually 1-2 minutes per side. Add Walden Farms syrup and you’ve got yourself a healthy, filling breakfast!

As you can tell, I am all about easy and simple. My recipes aren’t fancy and are totally do-able and affordable…and they work (cue Pinterest ‘nailed it’ posts)! I’ll be posting more later this week.

Next week, my husband and I start our juice cleanse so I will be sure to blog about our experiences with that. We will be juicing twice a day and eating homemade veggie soup for our healthy meal. We don’t get nearly as many vegetables as we should, so this will be a great experiment! Super excited!

Have a great week, you all!