Change, Role Modeling, Habits & Health

Happy Weekend All!

Before we head to the grocery store and back to prepping, I wanted to drop a little line about change and role modeling into our lives. This will be a part of any lifestyle habit journey!

Change is hard–until it becomes the new norm. One of our examples: dining out was our norm for years and now it is a part of our eating habits, but we plan it around our meals at home. Best benefits: we save money and it is healthier.¬†We also really enjoy cooking, so that really helped strenghten our ‘renewed’ habit.

Another side note, it is¬†amazing¬†how little you “need to go out” when you plan ahead.¬† We still obviously dine out and enjoy it. I do think with¬†Josh being in the restaurant/hospitality¬†world, it is normal for him¬†to want¬†go out more often.¬†After all, he wants to enjoy the dining experience¬†that he also provides to his guests (and he doesn’t really like to do dishes). On the other hand, with my job I am on the road often and forced to eat whatever is available. So while I love a great foodie¬†experience, I’d rather eat at home sometimes. We’ve worked hard to¬†create a habit that is sustainable for both of us.

As you embark on a pattern of healthy habits, food prep or others, there are going to be some definite adjustments and maybe even a little (ok sometimes a lot) of push-back. Hubby often says to me¬†“remember when we used to go to _____ and we really liked _____.”¬† The most recent one was “I wonder if they changed their menu with their remodel.”¬† My answer was go look online :).¬† I could continue with a long list of these, but this would become a very long (yet comical) post).

Think about the ultimate goal of good health and improving¬†habits.¬†Role modeling is your best bet for family health. Those of you with kids know how much pressure there is at mealtime (let alone other times).¬†Embrace¬†healthy eating habits¬†together and¬†get everyone¬†involved.¬†Make meal prep part of the habit (then you aren’t stuck doing all of the work either). Here are other tips and thoughts in¬†this great article about feeding children.

Getting yourself and your¬†family on board may take some time.¬†Sometimes one person in the family wants to make a change,¬†but others are not on board.¬†This can be a big challenge and¬†it can be¬†overwhelming having to¬†“fight” for better habits. Push ahead subtly and be the role model. You might try a “new recipe” or theme¬†dinner night to make¬†fun or sign everyone up for a¬†family 5k.¬†Eventually, others will jump on and you’ll all be on the track to good health.

Some of you have told me that you could never “prep food like I do” for a variety of reasons.¬†That is fine-¬†do something that works for you/your family. Maybe for you, it is crockpot¬†meals or using more no-cook items.¬†Create and continue¬†habits that work for you. Usually an all-or-nothing doesn’t work very well (think fad diets). Make small, reasonable changes.¬†It can be a simple start like eating ___ meals at home this week or another goal that makes sense for your situation.¬†When I post, I hope to empower you to think about what¬†you CAN do to better your health now and¬†for the future.

So, that’s my story for the week.

End of the Week? What’s Left- Cook It, Stuff It and Chop It

It is almost shopping and prepping time for the week ahead. That means taking an inventory of what is left and making a list of items needed. Before we head to the grocery store, I wanted to chat about how to use those items left over from the week. These are the ones that often get lost in the back of the fridge and when you find them again, it is terrifying!

The good news is that by having plenty of veggies on hand, it isn’t too hard to use the remaining items. My suggestion- be creative! When I have a¬†variety of items in the fridge I like to¬†stuff¬†them,¬†blend them¬†or mix them (i.e. stuffed tomatoes, scrambled eggs with veggies, soup and more).

Scrambled eggs with veggies, turkey bacon and goat cheese.

End-of-week scrambled eggs with veggies, turkey bacon and goat cheese

I’ll share the past two meals that¬†I have stuffed because these are fun!¬†I could just cook the random veggies and serve them on the side, but that is pretty boring. I already hear “I don’t want to eat___ again” coming from Josh.¬† Instead, do something different and make a¬†fun “holder” for the veggies and other foods.¬† It feels¬†like a whole¬†new meal (even if it includes leftovers).

Today we made stuffed tomatoes. Last summer I made a version of stuffed tomatoes found in this post and quinoa was the main ingredient with veggies mixed in. This time, I made it about the veggies!

Here is how to make it. Slice the top off a large tomato and scoop out the insides, set aside. Cut and sautee lots zucchini, mushrooms and onions (or other veggies of choice) and then add 2 chicken andouille sausages, (or other protein), a half cup of tri-color quinoa (or other grain) and herbs. Stuff the mixture inside the tomatoes.

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Put them on the grill-we used our fancy new gadget from Sur la table. The mixture took about 10 mintues to make and they grilled in about 8 minutes.grilling

I made goat cheese truffles with garlic chives, basil and pecans to eat with the tomatoes.¬†The “truffles” are easy to make too- just mix goat cheese with herbs, nuts or your favorite add ins. Roll in a ball and they are ready! Makes a great compliment to a meal or can be served as an appetizer.

grilled stuffed tomato

A couple of weeks back, I had bought poblano¬†peppers, but didn’t use them as planned. At the end of the week, I decided to make stuffed poblano¬†peppers with leftover(shredded)¬†chicken, leftover black beans, onions, peppers, mushrooms, spices and cotija cheese. I used this recipe¬†from Food Network to learn how to grill the peppers, but really used my own ingredients¬†we didn’t go heavy on the cheese like this recipe (although I am sure this one was tasty too). We had corn of the cob (with basil and chive¬†butter), avocado slices and a¬†beer for a nice summer Friday night dinner. I will say these were pretty time-consuming (with the peppers), but worth it.¬†poblano

You can also stuff zucchini, bell peppers and more!

So remember as you approach the end of the week, get creative with the foods that you have in the fridge and you can have a rocking meal!

Finding Your Fridge

Does food prep seem overwhelming? I’m starting a series of posts that will hopefully¬†make food prep seem more manageable and useful for you.¬†I’d love for people to start thinking of¬† the food in their fridge as “fast food”¬†or “grab-n-go”, instead of choosing the¬†drive-thru. My¬†friends and family (and strangers too) ofen say that they do want to make better choices, but don’t know where to start. My suggestion-take control and make it¬†easy and convenient.

Here are three steps to get you started.

Step 1: Start with a clean slate

  • Take some time¬†to clean out and organize the fridge. Look for expired items, doubles, etc.
  • Wipe and sanitize¬†all shelves and drawers.
  • Start to reorganize and make sure¬†the items that need to be used first are in the front.

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Step 2: Organize

  • Organize¬†the fridge in a manner that makes sense for you/your family.
  • My # 1 tip that works for my hubby is to make the foods readily available. Put the food where it will be eaten and make it easy and fast to grab.
  • Don’t stuff all the veggies and fruits into the crisper. Crispers might make food last a little longer, but they¬†are¬†not¬†useful if you forget or don’t eat the food.
  • Put items in glass or see through containers¬†to catch your¬†eye and gently remind you to eat these foods.
  • If you have kids that are old enough to start choosing snacks, use the bottom shelf for yogurt, cheese, fresh veggies, fruits and other kid-friendly snacks.
  • Put the “good stuff” in¬†front. You’ll¬†be more tempted to grab ___ if __ is hidden in the back (insert your choices).¬†You might even place treat items in the forgotten crisper bins- out of sight, out of mind :).
  • Take a couple of¬†foods¬†and prep them ahead. Prep something that you use often- maybe it is oatmeal-cook up a quick batch and place in small containers, hard-boiled eggs, cut up peppers or another veggie/fruits.¬†Your choice. Put these in the key places for use and see how it goes.

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Step 3: Inventory

  • Take an inventory of what you throw out each week. You may be over-buying, buying unnecessary items or¬†foods may be getting lost.¬†More on this later, but it gets you thinking.

Hope you’ll start your clean slate soon and follow along for other tips.

Cheers!

Bringing Flavor and Fun to Parties

Just a quick post after a busy weekend and Monday.

Saturday¬†we had a¬†first attempt at a block party and it was tons of fun!¬†Since we have the most yard space on our street, the party was right outside our house (nice and convenient). I always¬†like to bring fun and flavorful items to parties that are beyond the traditional lettuce salad or veggie tray. After all, I don’t want people to think that I am that boring dietitian ruining all the fun :).

First fun item:

I made a Shirazi Salad from Bon Appétit that used plenty of in-season tomatoes, cucumbers and a variety of herbs. Everyone asked for the recipe, so of course it made sense to share it here.  I did make slight modifications by adding basil in the mix of herbs and also used red onion. photo

I wanted to use my patriotic tray one more time so it is a busy photo, but¬†the colors stand out on a white tray. The first time I made this salad, I used less herbs so that I didn’t wipe out my herb garden.

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Now we have plenty!

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Next fun item:

In order for us to stay well-hydrated during our festivities, I also made water with fruit added and iced tea. It was even more fun because I was able to use my dandy holder that I ordered on Groupon awhile back. It is the simple things-people loved the naturally sweetened H2O! We went through 8 jars  of water throughout the night. Easy to make -add whatever fruit and herbs you want with water and ice. The flavor of the fruit/herbs infuses the water pretty quickly. Quite refreshing for any day.h2O

What fun things to do you bring to parties?

Burn It! Go! Vamos! Being Active in an Inactive Environment

I’ve been wearing my¬†activity tracker almost every day since February and earlier this week I had forgotten my FitBit on the charger¬†at home.¬†I felt a bit lost without it. Luckily, when I got home and put it on phrases like “Burn It!” “Go!” “Vamos!” (with my name after on each) kept popping up to encourage me to move.

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Josh’s FitBit¬†Flex and my FitBit One

Just a quick note on activity trackers: there multiple brands of activity trackers so find one that works for you. After some reviews Josh and I both decided on FitBit and find it helps to motivate us in different ways (NOTE: we are not paid by FitBit in any way, unless motivation counts).

The first few days I was mortified at how little I moved during the work day. I make an effort to move (or so I thought). I always take the stairs, go to restroom breaks on different floors to move more, go down the hall to talk to someone and more. During the work day I was only averaging about 1500 steps. Holy Moly! How is that possible? I realized that meetings, conference calls, projects and other work tasks have me sitting even more than I thought.

The bottom line (get it sitting on your bottom) is that we are inactive so much of the time that it impacts our overall health, regardless of the time spent in the gym or on other physical activity.¬†Here is a¬†report from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition that gives a great overview of the issue.

CORRECTION: I also found this JustStand¬†Infographic¬†created Ergotron/copyrighted by¬†Creative Commons. Don’t be a victim of sitting disease.

Question of the Day: What do we do about it?

Changes that I have personally made since getting my activity tracker:

  • take conference calls standing up and moving
  • walking meeting (when possible)
  • move more at lunch (even inside)
  • take small walking breaks to break up hours at the computer (this also helps clear the mind)

Here are 100 ways to add 2000 steps from America on the Move.

I do achieve +10,000 steps most days through my evening workouts and dog walks.  However, I keep in mind that many of my steps are usually during my workouts and that I am classified as sedentary much of the day.

  • Typical stats: about¬†1-1.5¬†hours¬†very active, 3 hours fairly active and 3¬†hours lightly active. I¬†still have about¬†another 8 hours of sedentary time¬†to get into the active zones and will continue to find ways to achieve this goal.
  • The days that¬†I move a lot I get motivational messages like “Way To Go!”¬†and¬†“You Rock!” to¬†let me know I am doing a good job.¬†The badges on the app are motivating and fun too! A couple of weeks ago I received my 750 mile badge.

What will motivate you to add more steps and move more for your health? 

Burn It!

Burn It!

Get Moving Friends!!

Inside the Fridge Guest and Quick and Easy Meal Prep

Hello Friends:
Apologies for my lack of posts. I’ve been a traveling lady since March. Luckily, I am home more now for a couple of months and hope to be able to¬†write more posts. Show me some love and tell me what you’d like to see me write about.

Those of you who are Facebook friends with me have seen my fridge photos with my food prepped each week. This was one of the only ways I could keep up with my bizarre schedule and eat well. Most evenings my meals are done in 20 minutes or less. Here are previous tips on prepping your food for easy and successful meals and snacks.

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I was recently a guest on RobinsBiteInside the Fridge“. I had a lot of fun talking about my buying and cooking habits. Check out her great tips-she is also on Twitter and shares accurate and valuable nutrition information on all of her sites.

That’s all for now. I figured tonight would be a good night to write this and inspire you to prep your way to a healthy (after 4th of July week).¬† Happy cutting!¬† veggie

Lots of Goodies for Foodie PenPals

Hi all:
I am going to combine this month and last month since I totally missed reveal day in March.

My package (or should I say in this case my hubby’s package) came from¬†Michelle and she sent a few of her favorite¬†foods items.¬†I¬†normally wouldn’t choose some of these items, so it was fun to¬†get this kind of package. I¬†received the package the day before I started traveling for work¬†and my¬†hubby¬†had eaten¬†most of the items before I got home.¬†So glad that¬†I ate that mini¬†Twix¬†and the few peanut butter pretzel bites when I did.¬† I did also drink the¬†almond milk¬†and eat the peanut butter (only things left for me upon my return).

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Josh enjoyed homemade trail mix with peanut butter and chocolate chips, almonds, Craisins and cereal.  He also enjoyed a variety of candy, popcorn, yogurt covered raisins and more.

Here are a couple more photos

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Brown rice crisps

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Whole grain peanut butter filled pretzels

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My goodies

My foodie penpal from March, Allison, read my blog and really matched a few of my preferences. It was definitely a fun splurge box!  She purchased some locally made granola, made homemade cookie bars (which Josh ate several of them while I was reading her letter) and a few other awesome items.

My March Goodies

My March Goodies-Local granola, dark chocolate pistachio toffee, salsa, multigrain and fruit bar, and homemade cookie bars

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Cookie bars- messy but so tasty! Exactly what she said in her letter.

What I love about the Foodie¬†PenPals is that the package inspired me to try to make my own fruit and nut bars.¬† I used the base recipe for the Gimme Some Oven No Bake Energy Bites, then I added 1/2 c almond butter, various dried fruits and nuts, as well as 2 cups cooked oats.¬† Mixed that all together and placed it in an 8 x 8 pan. I refrigerated the mixture for about 2 hrs¬†and cut them into individually wrapped bars.¬† I did refrigerate¬†some¬†and left some in the pantry. Both were good.¬† They were a little messy so I used the plastic wrap to hold it while eating. I’ll perfect the recipe and do another post, but this wasn’t so bad for my first try with no real recipe!547634_10151617610328973_971669906_nAnyway I am enjoying the #foodiepenpals experience and can’t wait for May’s package!

Dietetic Internship (DI) Match Day and Precepting Dietetic Interns

Match Day- the most dreaded and exciting day for students pursuing dietetic internships.

I want to give a¬†quick shout out and congratulations to those students who did match yesterday evening¬†and will be interns soon. Perhaps you’ll have a rotation with me :).¬†Get ready-it is a crazy ride.

Match Day on the Other Side

Every year, I think about how it felt on my first match night at midnight when I logged on and WAS NOT matched to an internship. It was DEVASTATING!  It felt like everything I had worked for over that past 4 years meant nothing. I put on a brave face and went to class (even though I wanted to curl up in my apartment and never leave again). It was a rough day and rest of the semester for sure.

As some of you know I worked my way through college, supporting myself, with sometimes up to 3 jobs at a time. I did the co-ed service fraternity to gain volunteer experience, took leadership roles student dietetic and FCS honors groups. My grades were average-but definitely not the 4.0. I didn’t really have the money to apply to many places, so my naive self had only applied to two internship locations.

  • I was angry, sad and disappointed with myself. I felt like a failure.

I got over the initial shock and began to think of Plan B.

  • I was not giving up!

I¬†decided to go to Illinois State¬†for¬†my MS¬†‚Äďat first I was thinking Health Sciences, but then I stayed in the nutrition world and decided on Family and Consumer Sciences. I was lucky enough to get a graduate assistantship (paid tuition) and worked under great mentors who provided me many opportunities. I also worked a few hours a week in the FCS office and then worked at Bath and Body Works as a shift supervisor, so I was able to save money for applying the next round, while still pulling off a 4.0 and completing my thesis. I was pretty focused on my endpoint while I was there, so the few friends that I made during that time understood; others probably still think I was antisocial!

  • It was an emotional two years for me and there were plenty of times that little voice in my head said ‚Äúyou‚Äôre not good enough‚ÄĚ, but don‚Äôt worry I squashed it.

Anyway, the second time around I applied to four locations. I was matched to my top choice- Hines VA Hospital.  I actually remember an interview from an internship (where I had actually applied and interviewed the first and second time) where the director asked me

  • ‚ÄúWhat will you do if you don‚Äôt match this time?‚ÄĚ ¬†I remember saying that I‚Äôd cross that bridge if that happened, but I was confident that I would match and be a great RD.¬† Sure enough, I did match (oh and I am pretty awesome too :)).

When I worked at WIC, I helped several previous staff members gain experience, tweak applications, and be a cheerleader to others who much like me didn’t match (and all who are now also successful RDNs).   Also, I have served on Loyola’s dietetic internship committee-although I had to miss it this year related to travel. I feel passionate about helping select interns and make sure to look at the whole package, not just part on a piece of paper. I have also been precepting dietetic interns for over six years-why do I do all of this?

  • To give back to my profession and help others the way I was helped (pay it forward).

Anyway, if you didn‚Äôt match ‚Äďdon‚Äôt give up. Pursue your dreams. Coming from first time non-matcher to Outstanding Dietitian of the Year in IL 2012, Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year 2009, Past President of the Illinois Dietetic Association, and achieving successes in the workplace and my personal life, I know it can happen. Even if you feel your world is falling apart right now, it will come back together.

  • Looking back, I should have figured out how to apply to more locations my first time.¬† However, if¬†I had been matched the first time,¬†I wouldn’t have had some of the wonderful experiences that made me the RDN that I am today. Things happen for a reason!

Sadly, right now in our profession there are many more dietetics students than spots in internships.  They are working on this at a national level and this is a call out to all Registered Dietitians Nutritionists-if you can be a preceptor, please consider it. It is rewarding and they often help me as much I am helping them. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is celebrating National Preceptor Month. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists be sure to check it out and see how you can contribute.

My First Foodie Penpal Experience

Did you ever have a penpal¬†when you were younger? I decided to join a fun and delicious spin on that childhood memory. This is my first month with Foodie¬†Penpals and I recommend it!¬† You can learn more about it here.¬†Today is called “reveal day” where we post what we received this month.

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I went shopping for my penpal and I really enjoyed it (half of the fun is picking out your penpal‚Äôs items). I went back and forth with a few items, but I decided to hit Penzey‚Äôs Spices and send the Kind Heart box with salt free spices for heart health. Ok yes the RD in me wanted to keep with the month’s theme-after all I had made heart-shaped dog treats, muffins, spinach cakes and molten chocolate-cake). Also you all know that believe that spices are an integral part of cooking! Love the flavors!!

Anyway, this post is about my box.  I was excited to get my box of goodies (as was my hubby)! Julie (who was a first timer too) reached out to me and said she had an Asian Grocery store next near her that she was going to check out and also asked if I liked chocolate-(why of course I do).

Here are my goodies

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  • Homemade white bean¬†cookies- a Korean treat made from white bean paste and almond flour
  • Green tea powder
  • Japanese candies which are pure milk and lollipops
  • Homemade truffles from a bakery by Julie‚Äôs house
  • Dark chocolate bar and a mint melt away bar

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What fun treats! The truffles have been my favorite and Josh really like the Japanese candies (they are chewy).  Also, the white bean cookies are tasty too.

I am excited for my second month of #FoodiePenPals.

Homemade Treats are “TeRUFFic”

This week’s post comes from our¬†4-legged furry¬†house members.¬†They were very excited to tell you about it.

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Last week at work someone had a copy of Clean Eating and¬†our mom¬†noticed there was a recipe for kritter treats! She (and we) really liked the ingredients in this recipe¬†for Reyna’s Chicken and Peanut Butter Biscuits.¬†It had lots of yummy and healthy stuff that we like¬†and we are so lucky she made them for us!

Shadow will tell the story from here. First, Alex and Brownie got put in the computer room when the cooking started cooking because they are bad. I almost had to go too because I got so excited that I was right under their feet-kind of like their shadow. My mom and dad decided that it would be best to double the chicken in the recipe because we are meat eaters and add some carrots because they are yummy.

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Mom put the stuff in the Cuisinart¬†and I could smell it.¬† Next, dad rolled the dough while mom found the cookie cutters.¬†She made heart-shaped ones since heart month is still here for a few more days and she loves us (also she made a few stars, but really like the hearts).¬†I could tell these weren’t human cookies!!!

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Anyway, the cookies went in the oven and I couldn’t wait!¬† I watched and watched.

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Finally, they came out and I had to wait so long while they cooled.¬†Mom said they weren’t crispy like some of my treats, but that may have been because of the extra chicken.IMG_1250

After I listened and did my¬†“leave it” command so they could take my picture, I got to enjoy my treat! YUM YUM!!!

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I could have eaten them all, but we practice moderation around here.  Also, Alex really liked them and I got a few extra pieces because I think it was too grainy for Brownie (she prefers veggies like mom).

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I told dad he could take a few to work for people who have dogs and my friend Elwood is coming to visit on Tuesday and I am going to share with him too. For now, they are being stored in the refrigerator.

I hope¬†we’ll be making these again soon- I bet we’ll have some soon and they’ll be in¬†Spring and Easter shapes next!