22 Nutrition Fun Facts: Volume II

In case you  missed it, here are the fun facts from Volume I!

1. Peas, corn and potatoes are considered starches, not vegetables.

2. 1 bagel = 4 slices of bread.

3. Whole grain means higher in nutrients, but not necessarily lower in calories.

4. Juice cleanses and detoxes are not necessary to be healthy. Our body naturally detoxes through the liver and kidneys. Juice cleanses can sometimes cause more harm than good.

5. Sugar is sugar. Brown sugar, molasses, honey, high fructose corn syrup and brown rice syrup all react the same in our bodies.

6. If a product says that it has 0g of trans fat, but has partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list, that means the product has trans fat in it. Companies do not have to label trans fat if there is less than 0.5g per serving. Make sure to check those ingredients!

7. Healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats found in avocados and olive oil and omega 3’s found in fish can help lower your cholesterol.

8.  The exercise recommendation for heart health is at least 3-5x per week of aerobic activity for 30 minutes.

9. The difference between Greek and regular yogurt is that Greek yogurt has more protein

10. Milk alternatives (almond, soy and rice milk) contain just as much calcium as regular milk. The difference is in protein levels. Regular milk and soy milk have about 7-8g per 1 cup, while almond and rice milk have 0-1g protein.

11. Foods that contain carbohydrates include: Starches (rice, pasta, grains), dairy and fruit.

12. If you eat only carbohydrates your blood sugar can spike, but pairing carbs with protein, fiber and/or fat will help bring them back to normal levels

13. You can substitute foods such as applesauce, avocado and pumpkin in place of butter during baking. Healthier and still tasty!

14. The recommendation for salt intake is 1500mg per day, or 1 tsp! The average daily intake for Americans is 3,436mg per day, which is more than double the recommendation.

15. In order to get the benefits from Dark Chocolate, the product needs to contain 70% or more Cacao, like this one.

16. You don’t need Vitamin B12 shots or pills unless you are a vegan. Adequate B12 is found in meat and dairy products.

17. Rice and beans are a complete protein.

18.  Cholesterol is only found in animal products. Plant products do not contain any cholesterol.

19. Vegans do not eat honey or any foods that contain it. A popular alternative is Agave nectar.

20. One pasta serving = 1/3 cup cooked pasta. At most restaurants you could be served up to 2 cups+. Be aware of portion sizes, especially when eating out.

21. Chicken and turkey are lean meats as long as they are skinless. Saturated (unhealthy) fat is found in the skin of these meats.

22. You can make a delicious ice cream alternative just by adding frozen bananas and cocoa powder to a food processor. This is known as banana soft serve.

101 Ways to Manage Stress

Upon arrival to my year-long dietetic internship they handed us a survival kit filled with little tips and tricks for getting through the program. For those that don’t know, after doing either your undergrad or grad courses in nutrition, you do an accredited internship before you can sit for the RD exam. This internship is an intense 10-12 month program and I welcomed a survival kit to prepare me for what was ahead!

One thing that stuck out was a list of 101 ways to manage stress that I wanted to reprint here. Some of these tips can be very helpful for reducing stress in your everyday life, which is important to your overall health. Stress can affect your mood, digestive health, immune system, sleep and eating habits, put you at risk for colds and infections, and increase your risk of developing serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. While severe stress is best handled through a team approach, everyday stress can be minimized with small changes that can make a big difference. You might not relate to all of the recommendations in this list, but choose 3-4 to start and see if you notice a difference after incorporating them into your day.

  • Take 10 deep breaths
  • Visualize a relaxing scene
  • Learn to say no
  • Stay clutter-free
  • Read good books
  • Stretch
  • Write in a journal
  • Try yoga
  • Laugh often
  • Watch clouds go by
  • Read a magazine
  • Believe in yourself
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Get some fresh air
  • Hug someone
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Watch a movie
  • Seek out positive people
  • Make to-do lists
  • Take a brisk walk
  • Stargaze
  • Make a cup of herbal tea
  • Put your feet up
  • Enjoy a hobby
  • Confront your feelings
  • Exercise
  • Plan ahead
  • Talk with a friend
  • Dance
  • Laugh at yourself
  • Count your blessings
  • Be silly
  • Set realistic goals
  • Sing
  • Think positively
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Eat right
  • Take a nap
  • Walk away
  • Vary your routine
  • Play with children
  • Get a massage
  • Ask for help
  • Find a quiet spot to relax
  • Take regular breaks
  • Listen to soothing music
  • See problems as challenges
  • Smile
  • Play a sport
  • Be faithful
  • Avoid caffeine and tobacco
  • Eat breakfast
  • Cry if necessary
  • Be flexible
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Wear earplugs when it is noisy
  • Buy fresh flowers
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Celebrate Life
  • Do one task at a time
  • Meditate
  • Plant a garden
  • Avoid distractions
  • Budget time and money
  • Share jokes
  • Play games with friends
  • Look at the big picture
  • Get up earlier
  • Set limits
  • Express your feelings
  • Treat yourself to a gift
  • Simplify your life
  • Reflect on your joys
  • Punch a pillow
  • Go out to lunch
  • Don’t dwell on the past
  • Play with a pet
  • Go to the park
  • Soak in the tub
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Forgive and forget
  • Delegate work
  • Love others
  • Have plants at work and home
  • Daydream
  • Bake a special treat
  • Savor meals
  • Look at old photos
  • Take a vacation
  • Fly a kite
  • Learn something new
  • Volunteer
  • Go out for frozen yogurt
  • Join a group
  • Rub your neck and shoulders
  • Take the bus or carpool
  • Have a picnic
  • Recognize beauty around you
  • Take it one day at a time
  • Make someone smile :)

How do you manage your stress?

Tour de PA

This summer has been flying by! Does anyone else feel that way? Guess that happens when you’re having a blast :)

The past 3 weekends have been spent in Pennsylvania for wedding-related events and some adventures on the side. This past weekend Danielle, the boys and I went up to celebrate the wedding of our favorite lil’ family! Sorry in advance for the blurry pictures but I had to share.

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me and reneeWe had a great time celebrating Renee, Dez and DeAngelo and danced the night away. Congrats friends!

Other adventures before the wedding included stops at Victory Brewing, Produce Junction and downtown West Chester.

The second portion of our trip included blueberry picking at Highland Orchards, a local Farmer’s Market right in West Chester. We spent some time picking delicious blueberries and enjoying the outdoors.

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bluberries

blubesAfter that we ventured off to a fun-filled day in Lancaster, PA! Fun times with some of my favorite people.

We left with a lot of produce including fresh veggies from Frank’s Mom’s garden which only meant one thing: Time to cook!

Baking utensils ready

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Blueberries made their way into a Blueberry Muffin Loaf inspired by this blog. When you don’t have muffin tins, a loaf is a perfectly fine alternative.

blueberry loafThis loaf came out soo good. Perfect taste and texture.

The second baking creation was a Zucchini Coconut Loaf using the fresh garden zucchini

IMG_9017IMG_9035IMG_9031I changed the recipe by using Coconut yogurt instead of plain yogurt. I also didn’t have any sugar so instead used Truvia and I do not recommend doing that. Otherwise it was very doughy and delicious and full of nutrients.

Leftover zucchini and a garden squash made its way into a Quinoa veggie bowl. Homegrown veggies taste the best!

IMG_9026Hope everyone is having a great week and a happy summer!

 

 

Downingtown 5k and a Wonderful Wedding

Happy Tuesday folks! I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.

This weekend I visited Pennsylvania for a fun-filled holiday including a very special wedding. But first a 5k!

Each year Frank’s fam runs the Good Neighbor Day 5k and throws an epic 4th of July party after. Luckily I have been able to partake the past few years! The 5k starts at Kerr Park in Downingtown and is a fun run through the neighborhood. Last year I couldn’t handle the heat and ran at my slowest pace ever and actually had to walk a little. So my goal this year was to do better. Easy enough!

IMG_8945Game faces on!

IMG_8946We started the run and it was an easy 3.1 miles through the town.  I didn’t want to have any issues with the heat like last year so I kept at a steady pace and felt great! The weather was warm but nowhere near last time, which made it much better.

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Race finishers!  I set a new 5k PR of 26:15 at a pace of 8:27 and was very happy!

The rest of the day was spent celebrating the 4th and then prepping for Frank’s sister’s wedding!

IMG_8943The day turned out beautifully and everything was perfect! There were some power outage issues due to a brief storm the day before, but it only made it more memorable.

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IMG_8982IMG_8987The reception and venue were gorgeous and so were the happy couple. So excited for them!

IMG_9003IMG_9005I was too busy dancing and having fun and forgot to take pics during the wedding. Always a good sign!!

Congrats Rita and Jason! Thank you for letting me share in your special day :)

 

What I learned from 6 months at STROGA

One of my favorite things about living in DC is the abundance of exercise options here, from Yoga and Barre studios to running clubs and more. For the past few years I dabbled in yoga, starting and stopping for different reasons. This year I was lucky enough to get passes as a gift to a local studio called STROGA, which I happily took advantage of. My first thought was “this will be fun!”, but the benefits I received were even better than expected. Not only did I have fun, but I learned some valuable and unexpected lessons along the way.

1. Practice, practice

If you were involved in something in high school or college, you were most likely practicing 5 days a week with performances and games on the weekends. These days while working full time and balancing all of life’s events, it is harder to hone in on something and make time for it. Lately I have felt like a jack of all trades dabbling here and there in things that I like, without reaching my full potential. While I am nowhere near close to perfecting yoga I have been amazed at what more consistency has allowed me to do. If you are dabbling in something but not noticing many benefits, try creating a schedule and doing it on a regular basis to maximize results.

2. You can still teach your body new things

Going to these classes taught me to face my fears and push myself to try new things. I surprised myself when I realized I was actually capable of doing it! You might see people doing crazy yoga poses or doing a spin class and think “no way”! But if you start small and work at it, you may surprise yourself as well.

3. Turning off brain chatter is hard work

Yoga is centered around mindfulness and meditation, focusing on your breath and being in the moment. While it may seem easy to do, it is extremely hard! Moments where I was able to clear my head were rare and required a lot of concentration, but I could notice the benefits immediately. Although it is challenging, like anything else the more you work at it the easier it will be. Try meditating for 5 minutes a day to start and work your way up as you get better. It may take time, but it is worth it!

4. You don’t have to be perfect

It can be hard not to compare yourself to others or try to be perfect, but it is best to turn that off when you get on the yoga mat. Yoga is about you and only you and where you are in your practice. Some people are pros and others are beginners but all are welcome at any level. Getting rid of comparisons or judgement is essential to maximizing your experience.

5. Actually, it is recommended that you make mistakes

One of the best things you can do in yoga is make a mistake and learn the difference in how it feels when you do it correctly. The main way I learned certain poses and postures was to do it completely wrong the first time or to fall over, and feel how it easy it was once I was doing it right. These were the times that helped me get to the next level.

6. Smile on a regular basis

People hold their stress in different areas and my spot is definitely my face and jaw. During class the yoga instructor would often recommend smiling and that instantly helped release tension and ease my mind. Even in normal life it can be helpful to take time to smile and notice how that releases some of the stress that you are feeling.

7. Don’t go at it alone

For a long time I thought that I knew enough about exercise to do it myself, but these last few months have shown me how wrong I am! There is no better way to  improve than to learn from the experts. Following videos can be helpful but learning the correct way to do something is essential in the beginning. This helps you build strength and prevent injury.

8. Regular exercise can change your life

Of course we all know the benefits of exercise–weight loss, increased strength, improved mood, etc. But sometimes these changes are subtle or you quit before you notice them. Taking classes for 6 months on a regular basis really allowed me to see the benefits. With exercise it is easy to start up and stop and continue that kind of cycle. A set schedule is best to get to your full potential and feel your best. You won’t regret it.

9. Patience is Key

This lesson came in two forms. The first was through learning new postures and getting better at the practice. It took me many months before I could get into a headstand, but with each class it got easier and easier. Learn to listen to your body and go at the pace that is right for you–results will come soon enough.

The instructors often mentioned patience in daily life as well as while in class. Yoga brings peace and calmness, which, in time, can be maintained in your personal life. While I am still working on this, it is an important lesson and goal to work towards. We live in a busy and hectic world and patience with yourself and others is essential.

There were many other things these past 6 months taught me but I could go on and on. Each person benefits differently from their exercise routines, but making one for yourself that you can stick to is key. Now that my passes are up, I plan to continue regular yoga by doing my 30-Day Yoga Challenge and staying consistent to continue learning and improving. Updates to come!

 

 

 

30-Day Yoga Challenge

Over the past 6 months I have gradually increased my yoga practice and am so thankful I did. Like many others, yoga has made a difference in the way I feel and think and I have definitely seen the benefits.

During busy times something that we forget to do and that I want to focus on is slowing down and being in the moment. With the bustle of the day it can be hard to take any time for yourself, which can lead to stress and anxiety. Summer months tend to be the busiest for me, and this one may hold a new record (in a good way :) ), making it even more important to continue practicing healthy habits. For me, exercise forces me to be present and sort through my thoughts, especially when there is a lot going on. That’s why I have decided to start a 30-Day Yoga challenge for the month of July. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, any time spent unwinding and being in the moment can have positive benefits.

strogaSo for the next 30 days I plan to do some form of yoga, whether it’s a 10 minute stretch or an hour-long power flow. I will be taking advantage of passes at local studios and also incorporating videos for days that I am traveling or can’t make it to a class. Below are a mix of videos that I plan to try at some point to keep things interesting. If anyone knows of a great video please send it my way!

45-Minute Power Yoga Flow with Katie Levans

Yoga Body Workout with Lesley Fightmaster (45 min)

Lulu Lemon Free Yoga Class with Lesley Fightmaster (45 min)

30 Minute Yoga Body Workout with Lesley Fightmaster

20 minute Weight Loss & Fatburning Yoga Workout with Sadie Nardini

10 minute yoga class with Daniela Martin

Have you ever done a 30-day yoga challenge?

5 Delicious Breakfast Ideas

It is no secret that I believe that breakfast is the most of important meal of the day. Research has continuously shown that eating breakfast has many health benefits, from helping  increase your metabolism to helping to prevent overeating later in the day. It can aid in concentration, improve energy, decrease daily calorie intake and more. Because of this I make it a point to eat a balanced breakfast each day, whether it’s something I can sit and relax with or a quick meal on the go. Below are 5 of my favorites and links to recipes and info.

1. Oatmeal

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With a 3-minute cook time, this is an easy first choice. Oatmeal is a great option because it is high in fiber and nutrients and low in sugar and added fats. The fiber in oats can help to lower cholesterol, help you stay regular and keep you feeling full and satisfied. Make this with skim milk, fruit and a touch of healthy fat for a well-balanced breakfast that will help you feel energized and ready for the day. There are many varieties of oatmeal that you can make so get creative!

2. Overnight Oats

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Overnight oats are the cold version of oatmeal and are easy and delicious. Chia seeds bind the oats together giving it a thick and smooth consistency and a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Add in fruit, nuts and other toppings and you have a balanced and tasty breakfast option. The best part of overnight oats are that you prepare them the night before, leaving you extra time in your morning routine. There are also many Overnight Oat recipes to try out to find your favorite flavor combination.

3. Green Smoothie

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It can be hard to get your vegetables in, but Green Smoothies help make it much easier. Adding some greens to your morning smoothie provides important nutrients and believe me when I say you can’t even taste them! Create your favorite smoothie and add about 1/4 cup frozen spinach or kale for a nutritional boost. Try it with frozen bananas, berries, flax seed and other add-ins.

4. Greek Yogurt

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When you are on the run Greek Yogurt is a great choice. Yogurt provides a good balance of protein and carbohydrates and important nutrients. Add some fruit, nuts, chia seeds and a sprinkle of granola or cereal for crunch and you have a nutritious breakfast. My go to is Greek yogurt with sliced banana, berries, chia seeds, raisins and a sprinkle of granola.

5. High Fiber Cereal

Cereal can be a healthy choice for breakfast as long as you choose the right types. Many cereals out there have little nutritional benefit and use enriched grains and added sugars. A good cereal option is one that is high in protein and fiber  and low in sugar to keep you feeling full and satisfied without spiking your blood sugars. Good options include Shredded Wheat, Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Erewhon Raisin Bran, Kashi cereals and more. Look for cereals with at least 3-5g of fiber and protein and pair with skim milk and sliced fruit for a satisfying and tasty breakfast.

Breakfast is a great way to start your day and get in important vitamins and nutrients. If you currently skip breakfast start small. Try a granola bar, glass of milk, fruit and nuts or even leftovers. Eating something is better than nothing. Enjoy!