Mexican Lasagna

I’m always up for trying delicious new recipes, especially if they are easy to make. Behold this Mexican Lasagna!

IMG_8145When you’re in a cooking rut or don’t have time to make regular Lasagna, this alternate is a great option! Filled with chicken, cheese, beans, salsa and Greek yogurt, this dish is hearty and a good balance of essential nutrients. The creator of this dish uses Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and I used reduced fat cheddar cheese to amp the nutrition. You could also make this vegetarian by omitting the chicken.

My favorite part of this dish is how easy it was! You’ll notice that I say that about a lot of the recipes I make because that is definitely a priority to me. To make this super simple, I boiled the chicken in water for several minutes before shredding it. Then all you do is layer the ingredients, bake and voila! A delicious meal in minutes.

IMG_8144

To get the full recipe, visit this page and continue reading fANNEtastic Food. She is a great resource for all things healthy and nutrition related. Enjoy!

 

A Beautiful Weekend

Spring has sprung my friends!

IMG_8397It’s Cherry Blossom season here in DC and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful weekend! Temps were in the 70′s and 80′s and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I was extra thankful for the great weather because this weekend I ran the GW Parkway Classic 5k! But first a look at Saturday.

One of the great things about living in DC is that friends and family will often be visiting here for trips. This weekend I was so happy to hear that my cousin Stefanie and her wonderful fam would be here for Spring Break. We had a fun trip to the zoo

IMG_8409

IMG_8403Followed by a delicious dinner in Cleveland Park. Such a great time catching up with them! I love when family visits.

On Sunday it was race day! We woke up first thing in the morning to get ready. The race featured a 10 miler or a 5k option and we signed up for the 5k.

IMG_8410The race was a scenic course along the Potomac River ending in Old Town, Alexandria. I heard the course would be pretty and the views of the water did not disappoint! Even better was the amazing weather that we had. The race started at 8:00am and once we got going the temperature was perfect. Some of the best running weather I’ve had during a race.

Even more exciting was that it was friend Jen’s first race!! She did so awesome and I was so excited for her!

Some before shots:

IMG_8414IMG_8412And after:

IMG_8417IMG_8418With the perfect temps and great energy I set a new PR running this race in 26:45! The last 1/2 mile was rough but my running partner helped me stay motivated (thanks Frank!).

As we were running I smelled some delicious breakfast foods being cooked. The scent was coming from Union Street Public House so we stopped there to refuel after the race. I was so hungry that I forgot to snap pics of my meal but got some shots of the impressive coffee offerings

IMG_8423IMG_8422I got the Farmer’s Omelet full of veggies and deliciousness. It hit the spot!

The rest of the day was spent reading, soaking up the sun and a batch of my favorite Polenta Tamale Pie.

IMG_8424Hope everyone had a great weekend!

 

Coconut Oil: Good or Bad?

Any coconut lovers out there? I loove coconut. I love it so much that during my dietetic internship I created a fake research project showing the benefits of coconut, wishing that one day it would be true!

fresh_coconut-1536x864(Source)

 And according to many, that day has come! Or has it? All over the healthy eating world coconut oil has made its way to the forefront. Touted as being a “super food” critics are saying that coconut oil is a healthy fat replacement and has many medicinal properties.

With the thousands of recipes that are now using coconut oil in place of butter and other oils, many are jumping on this bandwagon. Before we do that let’s check the facts:

  • Coconut is a saturated fat, also known as an “unhealthy” fat. These are the fats that increase your risk for heart disease, whether they come from a plant or an animal.
  • There is limited research showing the health benefits of coconut oil. While some smaller research results are positive, researchers are still waiting for larger studies and more concrete evidence.
  • Coconut oil is better than fats such as butter or trans fat, since it does not contain any cholesterol. It is not recommended over liquid vegetable oils though, such as olive oil, canola or soybean.
  • Like other fats, it is recommended to eat coconut oil in moderation.

So what to do?

Until more extensive research is done on Coconut Oil, it should be treated it as a saturated fat. There may be a day when we find concrete evidence that the saturated fat from coconut oil is better than saturated fat from animal products, but until then use it in moderation. If you want to add fat to meals, try peanut butter, avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil which are all monounsaturated (healthy) fats.

That being said, coconut oil might be a better option than butter or trans fats since it does not have cholesterol. Coconut oil might be a good option for baking in place of butter or lard, while adding a different flavor to your favorite foods. Just as you would eat baked goods with butter in moderation, the same should be done with coconut oil. Like the other coconut lovers out there, I will be enjoying this product on special occasion. I’m looking at you Coconut Cookies

 

The Best Oatmeal You’ve Ever Had

Spring is “here” but I am cold! Not to fret though, it only leaves more time to eat my Fall and Winter favorites. One of my favorite warm breakfasts is Oatmeal. You might think “boring!”, but hopefully I will change your mind. Oatmeal, like other grains, is a good staple because there are many ways to change it up and make it interesting. You can add so many different mix-ins you’ll never get bored! Once you find your favorite though, you will most likely crave it on the daily, which is what has happened here.

DSCN3608The key to making a delicious and healthful oatmeal is to keep added sugar OUT. You can make oatmeal that is just as delicious by following one simple rule: cooking your oats with ripe bananas.

Adding bananas to the cooking process allows them to release their natural sugar, making the oatmeal deliciously sweet in a natural way. No processed products or strange ingredients needed! Just make sure that your banana is slightly browned for best taste.

DSCN3601The method to making this is simple:

  • Add 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 sliced banana and 1 cup of skim or soy milk to bowl of choice
  • Microwave for 3 minutes, checking to make sure that your oatmeal doesn’t overflow!
  • Once done, give it a good stir. Add in a sprinkling of raisins, 1 tbsp of chia or flax seeds, 1 tsp of cinnamon and a dallop of peanut butter.
  • Stir it all up and eat! I know you’ll be dying to take your first bite but make sure it’s cooled first.

DSCN3609If you are looking to spice things up try any of the following mix-ins and come up with your favorite!

  • Shredded coconut
  • Vanilla extract
  • Chopped nuts
  • Cocoa
  • Dried cranberries
  • Flax, chia or hemp seeds
  • Almond or cashew butter
  • Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin or apple butter
  • Spices such as nutmeg, cloves, etc.

Enjoy!

 

 

What I’m Reading Now

Happy Friday all! The weather is getting slightly warmer in DC making life a little bit happier :)

I’m reading a lot of interesting things both for work and play and wanted to share with you all.

For Work

A lot of my counseling centers around Intuitive Eating, listening to your body and being realistic in your goals. This is a great article about perfectionism and how to use this trait to fuel positive thoughts around your body image and health rather than negative. Perfectionism-Its Joys and Perils

Is your job affecting your health? Sitting for long hours each day and working in hostile work environments can contribute to overweight and obesity. This article finds certain jobs that may be more likely to have this effect. Ironically health care work is one of the highest ranked! Certain Jobs have Stronger Link to Obesity

More reasons to eat your fruits and veggies! Studies have always shown that the rate of mortality decreases as fruit and vegetable intake increases. This recent study shows that eating 6-7 servings of fruits and vegetables helps lower your risk of death. Lowering Risk of Death with Fruits and Vegetables

If you really want to know what a dietitian eat, read this article. This dietitian nailed it! What a Dietitian Eats

Favorite Blogs

I have several go-to food and nutrition blogs that I read on the daily. Below are my favorites for good recipes, healthy living and nutrition facts. You’ll see many of the recipes on here coming from their sites.

Daily Garnish

Kath Eats

Eat Live Run

fAnnetastic Food

For Play

Currently, I am reading The Light Between Oceans, which has been recommended by many. I am not too far in but can already tell it’s going to be good!

light between oceans

My past two reads were The Fault in Our Stars and Where We Belong. I highly recommend both of these books. Great story line and fast reads. You won’t be able to put them down!

If you are reading anything interesting, please share! Have a great weekend!

 

Get Your Sleep On

When I am counseling students or clients the main focus is food, so people are sometimes caught off guard when I ask them about their sleep schedule. What would this have to do with healthy eating?

sleep(Source)

The answer: A lot! We know that lack of sleep is linked to low energy, decreased concentration and alertness, and low productivity. What you may not know are the health implications associated with sleep. Research shows that not getting enough sleep is linked to overweight and obesity, causing several health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Do you notice that when you are tired it is harder to make healthier food choices? When we don’t get enough sleep we interfere with our hunger and fullness hormones (ghrelin and leptin), which can lead to an increased appetite. Lack of sleep also effects how insulin works in your body, which can result in higher blood sugars throughout the day, leading to diabetes.

Lack of sleep not only affects your food choices, but your mental status as well. Short sleep duration is linked to depression and other psychiatric conditions that can affect your mood.

How much sleep do we need?

The recommendation for adults 18 years or older is 7-9 hours of sleep, while for teenagers it is 8.5-9.5 hours per night. If you are getting less than this, it is time to make a change! Here are a few ways to improve your sleeping habits:

  • Come up with a schedule. Choose a time for bed and a time to rise and try to stick to that schedule, even on the weekends
  • Create a bedtime routine to get you ready for bed. Turn off the TV and computer and start this routine an hour before you sleep. Read a book, take a bath, listen to soft music-whatever works for you.
  • Use your bed for sleep only.
  • Exercise throughout the day. This helps you burn energy to help you sleep more soundly.
  • Try to eat 2-3 hours before going to sleep. Food gives you energy, which makes you more likely to stay awake. If you are hungry have a light snack before bed, but not too much more.
  • Reduce coffee, soda and alcohol intake, especially around bedtime. Even having a cup of tea or coffee around 4pm can affect your slumber.

Getting enough sleep has many benefits, both for your health and overall quality of life. Sleep improves your memory, reduces risk of mortality, curbs inflammation, improves concentration and creativity, helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduces stress and more!The key is to make sleep a priority in your life. It is essential to your overall health and therefore should be something you schedule in just like anything else. If you have trouble sleeping throughout the night or think you have a sleep disorder speak to your doctor.

 

 

Homemade Hippie Bowl

Look no further for your next Sunday dinner, friends.

IMG_5824This dish is easy to make, healthy, vegan, gluten free and very very tasty. It doesn’t get much better than that!

We call this delicious pile of nutrients the Hippie Bowl. I have seen this dish in restaurants and one of my favorite bloggers decided to recreate it herself and share the recipe with the world. I thank her for that.

The ingredient list is short & sweet. It includes:

  • Quinoa
  • Carrots
  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Hummus
  • Homemade peanut dressing

All you do to make this dish is cook up the quinoa, shred the carrots and assemble. So easy!

This dish fits almost everyone’s dietary needs. The only allergen it contains is nuts. It is perfect for vegans and vegetarians but meat eaters will love it too! A good amount of protein comes from the Quinoa as well as the nuts & peanut dressing.

Want to try it out? You can find the recipe here. I hope you like it as much as I do!