How to Choose the Healthiest Peanut Butter

Hi everyone and Happy Friday!

Today we are going to talk about a very important topic: How to pick out the healthiest peanut butter on the market. Sounds easy right? Nuts are considered healthy fats, so it would make sense to think that any brand of peanut butter would be healthy.

But not so fast! While nuts do provide heart healthy fats, manufacturing and processing of nuts often includes adding in unwanted ingredients. Let’s take a look:

Here are examples of peanut butter companies doing it right. You will see that the only ingredient is what you came for: nuts!

TJ's PB peanut butter ingredients

This brand contains salt, which I will often get, adding a nominal amount to your daily intake:

Wegmans PB

Now here is where things start to get a little crazy…

Giant Brand

First there is added sugars and oils, and notice the word “hydrogenated”. This is an important word to look for. What this means is that manufacturers have added hydrogen atoms to unsaturated (healthy) fats to turn them into saturated or trans (unhealthy) fats. In this example, hydrogen atoms were added to the cottonseed and rapeseed oils to turn them into a saturated fat.

You may be asking yourself why would they do this? Great question! You will notice near the bottom of the container that it says “no refrigeration required.” While this may seem like a great perk, the reason this is possible is because of the hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenation increases stability and shelf life, making it appealing to consumers, but the risks associated outweigh the benefits. While shelf life has increased, nutrients have decreased and intake of saturated and trans fats have possibly increased.

PB Co Pumpkin

This example is of a new pumpkin peanut butter product that I found. While hydrogenated ingredients are not included, palm fruit oil is added. Palm oil is a saturated fat that helps increase shelf life in peanut butters, which is why you will again see that this product does not require refrigeration.

So where can you find peanut butter that only includes nuts? The following options are all natural, providing the heart healthy qualities of nuts that we came for in the first place. Try one of these out and taste the natural flavor of peanut butter. You won’t miss the extra ingredients!

Wegmans Natural Peanut Butter

Trader Joes Peanut Butter

Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter

Another simple option for eating healthy peanut butter? Make your own!


This literally consisted of dumping a jar of dry roasted peanuts into my blender and blending it. I have a vitamix, which is built for crushing peanuts, but a food processor should have the same effect. Get creative and add different ingredients for a customized version of your favorite PB.

Feel free to apply this information to any nut butters you enjoy, whether it be almond or sunflower. Remember that less is more!

My New Favorite Cookbook

When was the last time you used a cookbook? For me, although I have tons of them lining my shelves, I have more recently been depending on the ease of online recipes. Have you seen my Pinterest lately?!

I was starting to wonder why my cookbooks were sitting there gathering dust. Was it me? Had I become one of those people that relies solely on the internet for everything? It’s possible that sadly the answer was becoming yes.

Luckily something happened. For Christmas last year I received a cookbook that I had seen in the book store and openly gawked over. I realized when I got it that it was the first time in a while that I had sat down and looked through every recipe and tabbed different items I wanted to make, excited to try everything.

The Skinnytaste Cookbook- Light on Calories, Big on Flavor(Source)

Behold the Skinnytaste Cookbook. Now, I know many of you have tried her recipes before and perhaps this book is old news. But to those who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Every person’s dream (especially dietitians!) is to find healthy foods that taste just as good as the original, and she has found the way to do it. From poultry, to fish, steak and desserts, there is something for everyone and the recipes do not disappoint.


Though my online recipe days are far from over, it has been nice to sit down with my cookbook, flip through the pages, and then get different ingredients all over it while I’m cooking (better that than my computer!).

While there are many tasty and healthy recipes available on-line, this cookbook was created with a Dietitian to ensure that the healthiest ingredients are being used and that nutrition information is accurate, which unfortunately isn’t always the case with online information.

coconut chicken

I wanted to share this book with you all since I will often recommend it to my clients regardless of their health and wellness goals. The recipes are easy, delicious and healthy which is a winning combo. Let me know if you’ve tried her recipes before or if you end up buying the book. If you want to try out a delicious recipe before making the commitment of buying the book you can head over to her blog and test something out! Enjoy!

Chobani Flips & Winner of Activite Pop Activewear

The winner of the Silver Withings Activite Pop is Kelly!

Withings Silver

Congrats! Message me with your address and you’ll receive a brand new Activity Tracker at your door. I hope you like it :)

If you missed my last post about this awesome product, check it out.

Another new product I’ve been trying out lately and enjoying for dessert are Chobani Flips.

Chobani Flip

While a bit decadent for my taste as a snack, this has made a great dessert option when I’m craving something sweet that won’t completely break the calorie bank. Tis the season for pumpkin, so this has been a favorite lately, but they have a few other flavors including Salted Caramel Crunch, Almond Coco Loco, Nutty for Nana and more. I like to alternate between this and homemade banana soft serv.

What dessert alternatives do you enjoy??

I leave you with a few pictures from this past weekend exploring the DC area. A little cloudy but still fun!

Gravelly Point near Reagan Airport:

Gravelly 2 Gravelly 3 Gravelly 4

Deleplane, Virginia

Barrel Oak

Have a great hump day and rest of your week!

Activite Pop Activewear Review and Giveaway

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great summer and are enjoying this beautiful first day of Fall. The city is active this week with the Pope’s visit and things have been better than ever!

First, I changed jobs and am now working full time as a Lecturer at American University. I am back at my old stomping grounds as a grad student and am loving every minute of it.


I also took on a position at Capital Center for Psychotherapy & Wellness, a wellness group in Downtown DC that offers psychotherapy, acupuncture, massage therapy and nutrition (me!). It is a great team there and I have enjoyed working with everyone and counseling people in a beautiful & relaxing office space.

cap center

cap center 2

In other recent news, an old friend from High School reached out regarding her company’s newest tech gadgets for health and wellness. The company, Withings, offers tech-savvy health gear to help keep you on track such as scales, activity trackers, blood pressure monitors and more.

activity tracker


Not only is the gear helpful for maintaining your health, but you look cool doing it. Their activite pop that I am using looks like a regular watch, but offers so much more. It tracks steps, sleep and heart rate while also acting as an alarm clock and time. Now you can get away with wearing a tracking device while staying professional at your day job.

withings watch


One lucky reader will get a chance to win their own silver activite tracker. Just leave a comment by midnight on Friday September 25th and the winner will be chosen by random. Good luck!

Allison Marco Nutrition Consulting

Hi all! Things have been quiet on the blog front these past few months as I have been prepping for something very exciting.logo

I am so happy to announce the launch of my business, Allison Marco Nutrition Consulting. I am now seeing clients face-to-face in the DC Metro Area and offering Skype and phone sessions for clients nation-wide. This has been a dream of mine for years and I am thrilled to finally be able to make it a reality!

I am currently offering one-on-one nutrition counseling, nutrition presentations, worksite wellness, lunch and learns, grocery store tours and more. Over the past few years I have worked with a range of clients with a variety of health needs and am looking forward to sharing my knowledge with you all. Feel free to contact me to set up an appointment or to learn more about the services that I offer!

For more information visit my website at Also follow me on twitter @AllisonMarco or like my Facebook Page to stay up to date with everything health and nutrition-related!

A huge thank you to Emilie Udell & Frank Tepper for their amazing graphic design, website and photography services. I couldn’t have done it without you both!

Acai Bowls

A few months ago I went to Ocean City, MD as a new-ish annual trip to get some beach and sun! If you’ve ever been to the Ocean City boardwalk you will know it’s not one of the healthiest spots. Think boardwalk fries, frozen drinks, ice cream, fried oreos- you name it. So think of my excitement when I discovered a little spot of heaven called A Latte Enjoy. Originally we went for the coffee, but ended up staying for an amazing blend of delicious fruit known as the Hippie Bowl. IMG_8816This bad boy was the Dragon Hippie Bowl made with blended dragon fruit, banana and berries and layered with granola, coconut and heaven. Yes please! I was so happy with the find that we went back each morning and I made a mental note to make it at home.

A long time ago I made an Acai bowl and posted about it.


Do you know I haven’t made one since? I couldn’t believe it either! I have been on such a smoothie kick that Acai bowls were a thing of the past, but it was time to bring it back. To make an Acai bowl all you need are the following:

  • Acai Packs
  • Fresh or frozen banana
  • Fresh or frozen berries (optional)
  • Splash of milk of choice

I made my most recent one after a run so I also added a small amount of protein powder to balance it out.


DSCN1805IMG_9514This was so refreshing! Always hits the spot. What’s great about these bowls are that you can add any ingredients or toppings that you please. Blend in flax seed, chia seed, frozen fruits and more. Top with coconut, granola, nuts, seeds, almond butter-anything goes! For a step-by-step tutorial and lots of delicious flavor combinations check out this post on How-to Make Acai Bowls. Enjoy!

Things I’m Loving Now

Can you believe how this summer has flown? It seems like just yesterday school was letting out for summer and here we are back in September. August had some great times and I am looking forward to squeezing in the last bit of beach and sun that I can before the summer ends.

This month I tried out some new products and recipes and couldn’t get enough! Some of my favorite products from the past few weeks are below.


1.  Chickpea Lentil Quinoa Stew



 Although this would make a great winter soup, I couldn’t wait to make it after I saw it! Don’t let the super healthy ingredient list scare you, with the Indian spices and fresh ingredients, this soup was a definite win. Served with either naan or fresh rolls, this soup made a great dinner and a good meal to pack for lunch too. I will definitely be making this again!

2. Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars



 Simple, healthy and affordable granola bars can be hard to find sometimes. As much as I love some of the brands out there, it’s sometimes nice to have a home-made alternative. These bars are great because they take minutes to make, taste awesome and keep you feeling satisfied. Highly recommended for snacks or breakfast on the go.

3. Brooks Ravenna 5


These Brooks have changed my life! I bought my first pair of Brooks running sneakers a few years back and loved them. Since then they have been my go-to purchase for running. They are stable and lightweight and I haven’t experienced any injuries since I started using them. And the bold, fun colors are a plus!

4. Fresh Ginger

I used fresh ginger in the soup mentioned above and experimented with it in other ways, including putting it in my smoothies! My favorite combo was a kale, ginger, banana, mango, flax, protein powder & soy milk smoothie.

Ginger is high in vitamins and nutrients and has been found to help with inflammation and aiding in digestion. A little goes a long way with ginger, so start with small amounts if you add it to soups or smoothies.

5. Cava


I just wrote a post on Cava products so I won’t bombard you with more Cava talk, but their food is SO good. I have been eating it for days.

6. Chobani Indulgent

Looking for a dessert that won’t weigh you down? Chobani has come out with an indulgent line that includes dessert-like yogurts made with whole milk. I enjoy these because they are small portions but satisfy that sweet tooth with a more nutrient dense option than other desserts. There are a few flavors and I’m hoping to try them all out soon! My first purchase was the Banana and Dark Chocolate and it didn’t disappoint.