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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Small stuff counts

This weekend had me majorly spoiled

60 and sunny? I’ll take it, and 90+ more days just like it.

Today? It’s still mild out, but the rain has me feeling bleh. Mondays are tough enough to get in a workout.

It has me thinking about how easy it can be to *not* follow the advice I give patients allllll the tiiiiiime:

“Be ok with doing little things.”

What I mean by that is that it can be SO easy to be black-and-white, all-or-nothing when it comes to exercise. I chose to sleep in instead of go jogging. Fine- plan B: lunchtime workout. But then things got busy, and I contemplated not sticking with my plan B of going for a walk.

(Internal dialogue)
“Why bother going for a walk when it’s only 20 minutes?”
“Well you’ve got your sneakers ready and waiting, and you’ve got time…”
“Yeah but what is a little walk really going to accomplish?”

You get the gist of it, and are probably nodding your head ‘cause you’ve been there too. The bottom line is that any little bit counts. Am I going to be sporting six pack abs and a sub-7 minute mile because I ended up doing that 20 minute walk? Of course not. BUT what it does do is the whole MENTAL change. Any exercise gets you going with that dopamine- the happy hormone in your brain. I’d quote Elle Woods for you, but you don’t need me to.

If you sneak in a bit of exercise, you could be more likely to make a smart snack choice, followed by a smart meal choice. You would potentially sleep better at night and be able to wake up feeling refreshed, ready for an active day.

Ya get my drift?

I’ve never had a moment where I’ve thought to myself “Well THAT walk/run/bike ride/strength session was a waste of time.”

We regret the exercise we DON’T get.

Aim big, but don’t be afraid to do the little things. They count too!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Unnecessary apostrophe's and some pork

Did you all have a LOVEly Valentine’s Day?

Why does it look weird to have an apostrophe in “Valentine’s?”

That’s how I see it written everywhere…but is that correct? Like I suppose if you are someone’s Valentine, it’s possessively your day. But then on the other hand, if you’re getting those paper Valentines, it’d be like “The day of your Valentines” and not be possessive.


Merry Christmas is just soooooo much easier.

We did our usual V-Day Feast at home with steak and lobster and cheesy bread and cheesecake and it was high cholesterol and high carb and an awesome splurge.

Of course last night it was back to reality with a health minded meal. Not that it’s a chore though when it’s something as yummy as Schmipotle bowls. Not at allllllllll associated with the restaurant chain. Clearly.

Schmipotle Bowls
-16 oz cooked and shredded pork or chicken (see slow cooker pulled pork recipe below)
-2 cups fresh corn
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1/4 teaspoon chili powder
-2 cups cooked brown rice
-1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
-2 limes
-1 cup cilantro, loosely chopped
-1 cup your favorite salsa or pico
-2 ripe avocados, peeled and cut into thirds.

Easy Shredded Pork
-1 1 to 1.5 lb pork tenderloin
-2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I have ancho chili powder)

Spray the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place pork in the bottom. Whisk seasonings in with broth and pour over the pork. Cook on low for 7 hours. Remove pork loin and shred with a fork, then return to broth mixture until ready to serve.

If you wanted to get fancy you could toss in some peppers (fresh or canned) or even whole cloves of garlic.

Back to the bowls-
In a saute pan, heat up 2 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium high heat. Saute corn until the color is golden and it starts to make a popping sound. Remove from heat. Stir in pepper and chili powder.

This is an easy recipe because you’re pretty much serving yourself 1/3 cup of everything. I added the cilantro and lime to the rice itself (which, ahem, I'm still out of brown and used white), but you could definitely just sprinkle the entire top of the bowl with it instead.

Makes six servings.


Per serving: 404 calories, 54 g carbs, 11 g fat, 26 g protein

Oh, and happy belated day of the Valentine…s…to you.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Still not dead

Well the good news is that I’m still not dead. 

But that doesn’t mean I’m 100% alive either. I find myself crashing in bed as soon as the boys go to sleep. 

That would be, ahem, 7:45. I’ll eventually get better, right??

Thank goodness for easy slow cooker meals. This was a recipe I’d found a few months ago and just never got around to trying. I ended up really digging it, as did my husband and the boys, so I think this one will get in the rotation.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Stew
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced (or sub ½ teaspoon jarred minced garlic)
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into ~1/2 inch chunks
5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ~1/2 inch chunks
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs (no need to cut these- just put them in whole)
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (sounds weird, but do it!)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon salt

Dump all this stuff in the slow cooker and give it a good stir to combine. Set it on low for 7 hours.
I ended up making some basmati rice to go along with this, but it could definitely be hearty enough on its own. The combination of seasonings is unique but works well. This is awesome kid-friendly food too- great way to sneak in some veggies!

Makes six servings. Per serving: 304 calories, 33 g carbs, 2 g fat, 35 g protein. If served with ½ cup rice, add 100 kcal and 22 g carbs.

Now that I’ve shared this recipe with you, it’s 8pm, and high past my bedtime : )

Monday, February 6, 2017

Now that I'm *not* dead

I've had pneumonia for the past two weeks.

It has pretty much kicked my butt.

Thanks to hardcore antibiotics, I breathe...without horrendously coughing.

Before that hit, I had written a post about enchilada pizza. 'Cause...why not.

I totally get that there are tons of recipe websites and infinity food bloggers out there, but why am I always stumped for what to make for supper?

I mean, shoot- Google search “What’s for dinner tonight” and you literally get 28,300,000 results.

Man, what did people use for excuses before the internet?

On Sunday I did some powerhouse bulk cooking and one component was crock pot salsa chicken. I’ve posted this before but it’s worth reposting- such a simple recipe and it can be used in so many different ways.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
-1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed
-1 ~16 oz jar your favorite salsa

Place chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour salsa on top. Cook on low for ~6 hours, or until internal temp read at least 165 degrees. Shred with a fork. I like to package mine into two separate containers and freeze one.

I kept the fresh cooked chicken and ended up making a quick and easy fajita pizza.

Chicken Fajita Pizza
-1 premade thin whole wheat pizza crust (I like the kind that comes with the sauce packet)
-1 tbsp fajita seasoning (hint- you could have used the rest of the packet stirred into the salsa at the start of the slow cooker chicken if desired)
-1 ½ cups shredded chicken (or could do grilled- whatever!)
-2 cups sliced and seeded baby sweet pepper
-1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
-1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir fajita seasoning into sauce. Spread sauce over the crust.

Layer chicken, sweet peppers, and onions. Top with cheese.

Bake for ~20 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted and you can see the veggies starting to char.

Makes 6 servings. Per slice: 348 calories, 22 g carbs, 16 g fat, 25 g protein

Monday, January 23, 2017

Comfort Foods

Oh hey Monday.

I’m sitting here chugging a huge mug of coconut green tea. Over the weekend I developed a sore throat along with an annoying nagging cough, and truth be told I’m feeling a bit like that obnoxious coworker who’s too stingy to take PTO and go home sick.

You know what I ate for breakfast?


WHAT. Cold pudding is the perfect breakfast for a sore throat. Rice pudding to be specific. Brown rice pudding with chia seeds to be exact. Comfort food with a boost of nutrition.

Rice and Chia Pudding
1/2 cup uncooked instant brown rice
4 cups milk (I used 1%)
½ cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Hint- dig out your 4-cup Pyrex measuring bowl if you have one.

Cook rice according to package directions.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and sugar. Stir fairly often in order to prevent milk from scorching on the bottom of the pan.

Sneak away to whisk your 4 eggs in your Pyrex or another bowl.

When milk starts to boil, pour ~1/4 cup into your eggs and stir. This is called “tempering” the eggs. If you were to add the eggs to the milk mixture, the heat of the milk would instantly scramble them. Gradually warming up the eggs prevents this. Stir in another ¼ cup milk into the eggs, and continue this until you’ve added about half the milk mixture. Go ahead and then pour the egg mixture into your milk saucepan. Put back on medium heat and stir until this boils. It will begin to thicken at this point.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, rice, and chia seeds.

Pour into individual ramekins, or one large bowl if you’d like. Refrigerate overnight. The chia seeds will further thicken the pudding, so don’t be worried if it seems too liquidy when you’re pouring it. Not only do the chia seeds act as a thickener, but they also give the pudding a boost of omega-3 fatty acids (AKA heart healthy fats) as well as some fiber. Brown rice also helps in the fiber department.

Makes 8 servings of 2/3rds cups. Per serving: 175 calories, 4 g fat, 8 g protein, 28 g carbs.

If you fake a sore throat as an excuse to make this, I won’t tell. *Cough cough*

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Economics and chicken

I’ve mentioned this before, but my strategy with spending money is to think in terms of cost-per-use. A cute dress for $50 that you’ll probably only wear 2-3 times? Not good cost-per-use. A pair of shoes that you’ll wear multiple times a week for 6+ months? Better investment.

So my slower cooker. Cost per use for this baby is PENNIES. Though actually it was a gift, so it's been free all along, but shout out to my mother-in-law so she knows I’m using it!

I tried something new this past weekend. I did the whole roast-a-whole-chicken-in-the-slow-cooker thing.

I’m a BIG fan of oven roasting a whole chicken- you end up getting a good amount of meat to cut up and freeze for future use, plus you can add whatever seasonings and spices float your boat. That being said, I love the idea of toss it in a crockpot and let it do it’s thang for a few hours. The slow cooker chicken doesn’t get as pretty browned and roasty looking, but the overall flavor was close enough to the real thing that this is definitely something I’ll make again.

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken
-1 whole roast chicken (bag of guts removed), rinsed
-1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
-1 teaspoon ground pepper
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Using your fingers, dip them in the olive oil and rub around the bottom of the crock (to prevent chicken from sticking). Place chicken breast-side up. Rub with remaining oil, then sprinkle on seasonings.

The instructions I found online state you cook it on low for 2-8 hours. What an obnoxious range! I guess all slow cookers vary- mine took 5 hours to reach an internal temp of 165 degrees. In the future I’ll try letting it go all the way to 8 hours since that’d be more conducive to getting it going before work- I’ll see if it gets dried out or if it just improves the “roasted” flavor.

Remove chicken and place on a cutting board. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting- you don’t want all the juices to run away! Letting it sit allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat fibers.

I used the chicken breast parts to make my fave sweet potato salad. Speaking of that salad, I whipped up a SUPER EASY vinaigrette that I’ll share.

Step one- totally copy The Pioneer Woman and use a little Mason jar.
Step two- pour in a little bit too much red wine
Step three- sip it down to about half the jar.
Step four- add an equal amount of olive oil
Step five- add salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste (I used just a pinch of each)

Slap that lid on and shake it up! Such a pretty red color- the wine is definitely not too strong because the seasonings counteract the acid.

The trick for making salad leftovers easy and fresh is to layer in a large Mason jar- toppings on bottom, lettuce on top- then you just invert onto a plate and add your dressing. I bought my blue-topped silicone squeeze bottle at the dollar store.

Cost per use for that thing?! get the point. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Stereotypes do apply

There is justifiably a stigma that’s attached to being a dietitian. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but trust me- my coworkers scrutinize my meals and my food habits. I don’t mind though- it keeps me accountable! I do my best to work on the very things on which I counsel my patients.

To that extent, here’s a list of 5 non-food habits almost all dietitians have in common.

1.       Dietitians drink their water. And more water. And just a little bit more water. Yes, diet pop does not have calories, and you could make a coffee drink with fat free creamer and artificial sweetener, but what exactly then are we putting into our bodies? You’ve heard it before and yes it’s cliché- our blood volume is predominantly water- not diet Coke- so we need to supply our body with what it actually needs. Don’t force your gut and kidneys to filter out all the stuff we don’t need.

2.       Dietitians get in their steps. Did you know that your metabolism slows down after one hour of sitting? It can be so tempting to veg out and Netflix at night to relax, but be mindful of how much time you spend sitting. An activity tracker like FitBit can help you stay on top of how active you are in your day to day lifestyle. If you don’t have time to hit the gym, get in the habit of carving out pockets of your day to get in extra steps.

3.       Dietitians take their supplements. It’s important to work with your primary care provider about what supplements you truly need. For myself, I’m not much of a dairy consumer- I don’t drink milk or eat yogurt consistently, so I know I need additional calcium. If you live in a northern climate like I do, you may need extra vitamin D. Resist the urge to go too gung-ho with supplements- you don’t want to waste money on expensive things you may not even need. Just ask your doctor for some blood work to check what you need.

4.       Dietitians schedule schedule schedule. I would say the average dietitian is pretty type A, and I’m no exception, as evidence by me making a bulleted list. I explain this to my patients often- when you have a baby, toddler, or even a dog- you have them on a schedule. Humans naturally do well on schedules- mealtimes, sleep times, exercise times, etc. Yeah it might be fun if a happy hour invitation pops up, but knowing that you’ll ultimately feel better if you stick to the gym ‘n’ grocery shopping routine you have scheduled makes it worth declining.

5.       Dietitians get their sleep. Show me the person who makes smart food choices in the midst of sleep deprivation. I have worked with countless patients who are stuck in the rut of poor sleep-poor food choices- poor sleep. It’s a tough cycle. 7+ hours of sleep is not a luxury- it’s a necessity. If you are getting the right amount of sleep but aren’t feeling well rested, talk to your primary care about possible sleep disorders.  

There's obviously no such thing as perfect health, but it's a reminder that are so many things in addition to what you put in your body that can affect your overall well-being!