5 Things I Learned While Studying Nutrition

Just like that, a new school year in full swing. The funny thing is, I’m not a part of it. Every August or September for basically my whole life I’d be cracking open new books, ready to take on the world of academia, but not this year. It’s a strange feeling.

As I looked back on my time in college, I was able to pinpoint some things that shaped my perspective about nutrition and healthy eating. In the title, I say, “learned while studying nutrition” because many of these things were not stated out right. Some were implied and others are entirely my own inferences. Nonetheless, they are pillars of my food philosophy.

They may seem basic, but I still hope they will be helpful to you. Allowing myself to believe these things has helped shape my view of what healthy eating means. They gave me the courage to be gracious with myself when I didn’t eat a “healthy” meal.

So, let’s jump in!


Here are 5 thing I learned while studying nutrition:

1. There is and never will be a diet that is perfect for every single              human being.

I would so far as to say there is no need for diets at all!

Unless you have celiac disease, severe allergies, or another condition that requires a certain way of eating, restrictive diets are not necessary or even helpful. Research shows that diets do more harm than good. Sure, they may help you lose weight in the moment, but they create a mindset of limitation that often stretches beyond one’s relationship with food. People who follow restrictive diets bounce back and forth between achieving their goals and completely undoing them, sometimes dealing with debilitating disappointment. This yo-yoing tends to creep into other parts of our lives.

It is far easier to learn to eat intuitively.

Eating intuitively is about educating yourself. You need to know three things to be an intuitive eater: what nutrients your body needs, how much and how often your body needs them, and in which food the nutrients you need exist.

2. There are room for all foods. Praise the Lord and pass the chocolate           cake!

Sure, I could live off well-constructed salads for the rest of my life, but do you think I’d be happy about it? Not really. Despite my seriously intense love for salads, if they were the only thing I could eat, I would get tired of them. I would have to tell myself no every time I saw tabbouleh, bean burgers, and ravioli. That would be absolute misery!


So, guess what? I’m not going to tell myself no. I’m not going to restrict myself to healthy thing and reject all other foods. To those treats and less healthy foods, I will say yes sometimes. I won’t say yes at every meal or every day, but I don’t have to tell myself no all the time either.

I spent a recent holiday weekend with my family. One night we ate nothing but pizza and nachos for dinner. Yep! It’s true. I’m not ashamed or hesitant to admit it because they aren’t forbidden foods. They aren’t totally off-limits for me and I would encourage you to think about them this way. When I eat well and make conscious, healthy choices 90% of the time, I DO NOT feel bad about enjoying food and reasonably indulging.

Reasonably is the key word here. It’s easy to get carried away with your favorite ice cream flavor or the most crinkly, crispy French fries. This is where you have to learn what your body needs and listen when it is telling you something isn’t right. Three scoops of ice cream may be too many if you end up with a headache every time you eat that much. Maybe that extra handful of fries gives you a stomach ache. That is your body trying to tell you something. Know your body and listen to it.

 3. Even though recommendations are always changing, there are a       few things that never change.

What’s in one day seems to be out the next. Recommendations change literally all the time, sometimes overnight, or at least it seems that way. This expert says one thing and another says the exact opposite. I know… *sigh* It’s confusing. The good news is that there are a few things that are and have always been recommended:

  • More fruits
  • More vegetables
  • More whole grains
  • More lean & plant proteins

I’ve mentioned this point before, and I really believe it makes all the difference. I’m not saying we should ignore the latest food and nutrition research. Not in the least. What I am suggesting is that these four statements have been in every set of dietary recommendations in some form for the past few decades. No joke!


If you are looking to eat better, these four points are a great place to start.

4. Small changes are better than huge flying leaps.

People often fail when they try to change everything at once. It’s just part of being imperfect human beings. Think about goals you have tried to achieve. Which ones worked out and which ones didn’t? What are some of the reasons you weren’t able to complete or sustain them?

Ok, I have two scenarios. You decide who will likely be most successful.

  • Ava sets a goal to slowly increases her produce intake by 1 serving day and works up from there to meet her goal of 6 servings a day by week 7.
  • Liam reaches his goal of 6 servings of produce a day immediately sustains it for a short while. By week 3, he finds it too challenging and gives up completely.

The answer may seem obvious.

Ava will likely be more successful than Liam in reaching her goal. Why? Because Ava is starting small. She is making manageable changes and sticking to them. She is taking small sustainable steps toward reaching her goal each day. She is not taking one gigantic leap, feeling like she made a mistake, and abandoning all hope of change, like Liam did. Maybe one day Liam will try to increase his produce intake again, but do you think the thought of failing will ever leave him? Unfortunately, probably not.

5. Nutrition does NOT, I repeat, does NOT have to be rocket                      science.

It seems like it is must be of the time—*pouting face* all those big words you can’t pronounce. I have a degree in this stuff and still second guess myself. Nothing in this world is perfect, that includes nutrition and the science behind it. Who knows, fifty years from now healthy eating may look different than it does today. The fact of the matter is we are doing the best we can with the current information we have.

I am and you are, too!

You don’t have to eat perfectly at every single meal or day or week or month. Just make healthy, small changes where you can. If you continue doing that, you won’t be so intimidated by your nutrition goals.

So, don’t sweat the small stuff. If you and your kids ate tacos every night this week, oh well. If that’s what worked for you and your family than go with it. At least everyone ate something and hopefully had a few vegetables along the way.


Those are just a handful of things I’ve learned and they have truly shaped the way I eat and think about food.

Healthy eating is about food as much as it is about your attitude and the way you think about healthy vs. not as healthy. Do you think you’d allow yourself a handful of chocolate chips if you were deathly afraid that it would make you fat? No way. Will one handful of chocolate chips make you fat? I don’t think so. Maybe if that handful were one of six you ate every single day. If you love chocolate chips and you want a handful every couple days, then you get yourself that handful and ENJOY IT!

Don’t be afraid of food. Food is fuel. Food is nourishment. Food is your friend! ❤



6 Ways to Work Vegetables into Breakfast

Do you find it hard to get in veggies as you go about your day? I’m sure most people would answer “Yes”. It can be a struggle to get them all in. The reality of it is that we have a whole meal *ahem* breakfast that doesn’t usually get any veggie love. Here are six ways you can fit some vegetables into your breakfasts.

1. Eat leftovers for breakfast. Yes, leftovers. You say, “stir-fry”. I say, “Morning, sunshine”. If you have leftover roasted vegetables, eat them with toast and an egg. If you have leftover rice and sautéed veggies, heat them up. Leftover stew, soup or chili would be just as warm and cozy as a bowl of oatmeal. Just because it’s breakfast time doesn’t mean you’re limited to breakfast foods.

soup2. Make yourself a breakfast salad. Who says you can’t start your day with spinach? Not me! I feel like the salad queen over here. I eat salads every day and at any meal (even for snack)—no joke. Breakfast is a great time to eat a salad. Mix some shredded carrots with a bed of greens, add some cooked sweet potatoes, a little avocado, maybe a fried egg and you have yourself a complete breakfast.







3. Make a veggie-loaded quiche, egg bake, frittata, or scramble. The magic word here is “loaded” make sure your egg dish is not all eggs and sausage. Try making it with half the eggs you usually use and add in kale, spinach, chopped potatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, leeks and whatever else you like.





4. Try veggies and hummus along with toast and nut butter—seriously good. There are some days were I’m running late or just don’t want to cook. *gasp* What? Hayley, not wanting cook? Tell me it isn’t so. Well, let me assure you friends, it is. On those days I literally eat hummus, cold veggies, toast and nut butter. It’s delicious and provides a grain, a protein, and a vegetable.


5. Blend up some green smoothies. Kale, cucumber, spinach… the possibilities are endless. Green smoothies can be hard for people to get excited about. Sometimes they are a weird color, they smell funny or don’t taste good. If this is you, I would suggest starting out with something very simple. Try blending an overripe banana, 1-2 cups of spinach, 1 cup or so of nut milk and a handful of ice cubes. If you don’t like that switch to some other green vegetable or fruit.





6. Try your hand at homemade pancakes, waffles, or muffins with shredded carrots, beets, zucchini or your favorite veggie. Any baked good that has secret vegetables is     a winner in my book. There are so many ideas out there, you are bound to find one that works for you. Ideas like these are perfect for picky eaters.







Let’s Talk Kombucha

Kombucha, you probably know someone who swears by it. You hear good things about it, but aren’t sure what to believe. Is it a fad health drink or a helpful addition? Let’s find out.

I remember first trying kombucha. I thought to myself, “Okay, I think this is good.” Weeks later I decided, “Ooh, this is seriously delicious.” Then all of a sudden it was like *angel chorus*, “Where is can I get an IV of this stuff?”. Ok, I may be exaggerating, just a tad, but it is quite delightful.


Simply put, kombucha (kom-bo͞o-CHa) is fermented tea. It contains bacterial strains and yeast that promote healthy gut flora.

Bacteria…yum, yum, right? Don’t gag in disgust just yet.

Are the bacteria and yeast alive? YES. Are they something your body needs? YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT! Drinking this fizzy fermented tea is very much like eating yogurt or a taking probiotic supplement; they all contain similar organisms and benefits.

Is kombucha the ultimate, end-all source of probiotics? Nope. It doesn’t have super powers. No one food does. It’s important to consume a variety of fermented things because they all have distinct, useful types of bacteria in them.



It’s fizzy with a slight vinegar-y taste. The best thing I can (loosely) compare it to is hard cider. In case you were wondering, kombucha does contain some alcohol in trace amounts, about 0.5% when kept and stored correctly.

There are endless sweetened and flavored commercial kombuchas , but most have the same basic fizzy-vinegar trait. If you are brewing at home, the room temperature, light, and fermenting time all play a role in defining the exact taste. A shorter fermenting time will yield a sweeter, more mild beverage, and a longer one will create a stronger, more vinegar-y drink.


Today’s Dietitian outlines kombucha’s history for us. It likely got its name from the 3rd century Korean physician who brought it to Japan, although there is record of it being brewed around Asia some 600 years earlier. Over the next few hundred years, kombucha made its way around Asia, Europe, and  to the Americas much later. More recently, kombucha was and has been popular during the pre-World War II era, the 1990’s, and today.



Those tend to be debated. People cling to the lack of legitimate research that supports many of kombucha’s benefits. On the flip side, many people report better digestion, less constipation, stronger immunity, more efficient metabolic functions, supports organ health etc… while consuming kombucha.

So, the jury is still out on this one. It is ultimately up to you to decide. If you like it, want to drink it, and find it beneficial to you.


Again, this depends on who you talk to. The live cultures can cause issues for people with immune deficiencies and your stomach may regret being given an entire gallon. If you are brewing at home, you do have to know what mold looks like on your SCOBY. My what? Don’t worry. We will get to that in the next section.

As long as you drink it in reasonable amounts and look out for any possible negative side effects, kombucha is not thought to be harmful.


Why yes you can! This is where that SCOBY, or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, comes in. This growth sits on the top of your tea, lives off of the sugar, and produces the frenzy of bacteria, fizz, and vinegar that we call kombucha.

Let’s be real, it is not a pretty sight. It looks like a floating mass of soggy pancakes all layered on top of each other— just the new piece of décor you were looking for! The good news is that it brews best when undisturbed and stored in a dark place. So, back of the pantry…yeah, I think so, too.

You need four things to brew kombucha: tea (usually black, but I’ve seen recipes using green, white, and oolong), sugar, water, and a SCOBY. Once its finished, you can drink it plain or flavor with fruit juice or spices. There are plenty of great recipes out there.

The process is pretty simple.

  1. Heat your water to a boil (we do gallon batches). Turn off the burner once boiling.
  2. Stir in 1 cup of sugar until completely dissolved and add the tea bags. 
  3. Let cool COMPLETELY! This is a very important step. If the tea mixture is too hot, you’ll burn or kill the SCOBY and you won’t be enjoying any kombucha.
  4. Add the cooled tea mixture to a large glass container and place the SCOBY on top of it You can have someone you know split their SCOBY in half and use it or make you own–consult a reputable internet source for instructions.
  5. Cool in a dark place and let sit for about 7 days.


Kombucha can be part of a healthy diet. If you are buying it, buy it from a trusted brand. If you are brewing it at home, do your research and brew it safely. If you like it and see benefits when drinking it, then do it. I wouldn’t go crazy and drink gallons a day, but a glass here and there is perfectly fine. Don’t forget about yogurt and other fermented foods—they want to help your digestive system, too!

DISCLOSURE: Please note these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. I am not a doctor. I am simply sharing what I have learned.


Balanced Eating… When Recommendations Are Always Changing

“I am finding balance and joy in being flexible and adventurous in my eating habits.”

It’s right there in the description of what fuels A Nourished Life… but what does it even mean? Well, I am glad that you asked. People love to throw around the words “balance” and “moderation”. People love to talk about how they are finally achieving their nutritional and lifestyle goals using words like “flexible”. So, that’s great, but what does this mean to someone trying to maintain healthy eating habits?

Merriam Webster defines the word “balanced” as: being in a state of balance/having different parts or elements properly or effectively arranged, proportioned, regulated, considered, etc.

Ok, we are going to briefly remind ourselves about food groups, yes, food groups-plantplate.png elementary school flashbacks, any of you 90’s kids? I promise, this will be quick.

Food plate guides were created to make balancing food choices much easier. The plant-based food plate is a little different from the traditional food group plate and it should be.

Here are two visual examples if you’d like to take a look: Plant Plate (http://www.theveganrd.com/vegan-nutrition-101/food-guide-for-vegans/) and MyPlate (https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate).

I’m going to link a few helpful sites here so you can familiarize yourself with what portions look like: http://www.brendadavisrd.com/the-vegan-plate/ . Here is one more for you: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2013/02/22/portion-control-use-visual-cues-to-remember-serving-sizes/ . I encourage you to find your own resources, too. The internet is a full of them– just be sure they are from credible sources.

I have learned by experience that plant-based eating is relatively simple, but can sometimes take some thought and planning when you just start out.

Grains are easy: bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and the like. Fruits and vegetables are also pretty straightforward. We’ve already talked about protein (legumes, nuts, and seeds… etc.,) already. If you haven’t read it check it out here: https://anourishedlife.blog/2017/07/17/whats-the-deal-with-plant-protein/ .

Perfect. You found that you knew these already. SCORE!

A balanced meal will have these things in the proportions close to what is represented by the graphic. If you are an animal protein eater, it will look a little different, but you will still have the general macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fats) .

Now, what? The graphic above is a great launching pad. It is not the ultimate, perfect, I’m-finally-going-to-be-so-stinking-healthy model, though, and you’ll constantly find new and different recommendations.

Land in the happy middle. Find someplace in the middle of what everyone is recommending. Some suggest an iron or calcium supplement. Some experts suggest three servings of fruit, and some say four. You are going to have to do some of your own research to make the best decision for you. As long as you fall within the generally accepted ranges and your body will be happy.

One goal I have in sharing the with you is to increase plant food intake, not drive ourselves nuts (ha-ha, nuts are a plant protein- see what I did there) trying get in the perfect number of servings of everything. Why are we not trying to do that? Because you would EXHAUST yourself and NEVER EVER DO IT PERFECTLY.

I don’t mean to be a downer here, but you wouldn’t make it. I wouldn’t make it. Nutrition is always changing as new research is being published. The recommendations are always evolving, and it can be very frustrating. Just when you figure out your eating patterns some expert with a bunch of letters after their name has to come along and mess it all up!

So, what are regular people like you and I to do when this happens? I would accept the produce.jpgnew guidelines (I’m talking official, government issued guideline, here), do your best with them, and keep in mind what is always recommended even when others things change:

  • more fruits,
  • more veggies,
  • more lean meats,
  • more plant proteins,
  • more whole grains.

Ok, back to the word “balanced”. This is what balanced eating looks like for me. I am mainly a plant-eater. 85% of the time I run on plants. Sometimes I cook Thai peanut chicken and veggies: https://anourishedlife.blog/2016/12/29/slow-cooker-thai-peanut-chicken/. On occasion, I make my favorite salmon dish: https://anourishedlife.blog/2016/07/26/indian-spiced-salmon/ . I also enjoy ice cream from time to time. The biggest lesson I have learned is that balanced eating is a process. It’s about changing our perspective of what food is.

Food fuels our functions. If you are running a diesel engine, for instance, and you fill it up with regular old gasoline, well, you are going to have some problems. The same goes for our body, our engine, if you will. I know, totally lame analogy, but stay with me.  The more processed, high saturated fat, high salt foods we offer our body, the less efficiently it will function. WHY? These are not the best foods for our bodies nor are they being eaten in the proper amounts.

That is not to say that some saturated fat and some salt are not okay, even necessary. Of course they are! They are still food ingredients and are present in many things that we eat. It’s just that the general public eats far too much of these ingredients, and are, or will soon be, reaping the health consequences.

So why not educate ourselves? Why not learn to eat well, to eat mindfully, balanced and to enjoy certain things in moderation, if it means our years may be longer and less disease-ridden?

blueberries.jpgMy reason for plant-based, healthy, well-balanced, delicious dishes is to give my body more of the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that nutrition authorities have been suggesting for decades. That is my outlook. It doesn’t need to be yours. You can eat animal foods and lead a perfectly healthy life.

The real difference is made in how you balance all of it, how you balance all nutrients!

So, what can you do today to create balance eating habits:

  1. Familiarize yourself with MyPlate or the Plant Plate visual guides to eating linked above.
  2. Make sure you know your portion sizes and what your body needs every day also linked above.
  3. Think about how you can start incorporating more veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and plant protein in your daily life. And give it a try.
  4. Follow healthy blogs, or visit the library to find some healthy recipes—and get cooking in that kitchen!
  5. Have PATIENCE and GRACE with yourself. Yes, you can eat that double chocolate chip cookie. Yes, you can go to that potluck and not stress about the lack of vegetables. It’s hot outside, get yourself that scoop of ice cream you’ve been excited for. The important part is that you are making healthy choices MOST OF THE TIME. Your ultimate habit should be healthy food, snacks and meals. The cookies, ice cream, potato chips etc,… are the treats that are reasonably enjoyed, not the main habit or way of eating.


What are your balanced eating thoughts and tips???






What’s the Deal with Plant Protein?

With all the buzz around vegetarianism (no meat consumption with multiple variations), veganism (no meat/animal products; focus on animal welfare), flexitarianism (reduced meat/animal product consumption) and so on, it is important to get the facts straight.

How much protein do I need per day?

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, men over age 19 require 6 -7 oz. of protein per day. Women over age 19 need 5-6 ½ oz. per day.

Can you get enough protein from legumes and other plants?

YES! Yes, you can. Apart from fruits, all foods contain some amount of protein. The benefits of focusing on plant proteins are innumerable and include a higher fiber, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake, as well as a lower risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes when compared to the typical American diet. Some research suggests if you are consuming only plant proteins increasing your intake 10% above what is recommended may be beneficial.

Which plant foods are the best sources of protein?

Let’s explore, shall we.

Beans and Lentils are cost-effective and come in many forms. They can be purchased canned, frozen or dried. They are good sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein. For instance, ½ cup of cooked lentils contains 9g of protein, 8g of fiber and is very low in saturated fat. Lentils also contain a good amount of potassium, copper and folate. Black beans have     6 g of protein, 4 g of fiber and similar micronutrients as lentils per ½ cup.

Tofu and Tempeh are both soybean products. They are versatile and will soak up whatever flavors they are cooked with. Tofu (pictured) and tempeh can be stir-fried, made into soups, desserts, quinoa bowls, and many other dishes. Soy has been questioned as having negative health effects, but when consumed in moderation (not as sole source of protein) those negative effects are diminished or even disappear. A ½ cup of tofu contains 12g of protein and is often fortified with calcium. A ½ cup of tempeh offers 15g of protein, 4g of fiber, and a moderate amount of potassium and copper.

Nuts and Seeds are also good sources of protein, fiber, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, many vitamins and minerals, as well as components that lower cholesterol. Almonds in a 1 oz. portion contain 6g of protein and 3g of fiber. It is important to keep portion sizes in mind when consuming high fat nuts. It would not be wise to eat 3 cups of walnuts per day–stomach ache and you wouldn’t be diversifying your protein intake. Quinoa (yes, it’s a seed ☺ ) offers 4g of protein and 3g of fiber per ½ cup.

A quick note about nut milks…If you love these dairy free milk-like beverages, it is important to point out that although they are made from nuts, they do not naturally contain very much protein. This is due to the processing/the way they are made and applies to most nut milks. Always double check for your own sake. J Nut milks are a wonderful addition or alternative for any diet, just know that they shouldn’t be counted on for their protein content.

Grains, yes grains, naturally contain some protein. Protein can be hidden in unlikely places. For instance, 1 cup of brown rice holds 4g of protein, 3g of fiber and some folate, potassium and magnesium. Whole wheat pasta offers 9g of protein, 7g of fiber and is low in fat per ½ cup.

What are the best ways to maximize my protein intake from plants?

KNOW YOUR PORTION SIZES. You can certainly get enough protein from plant sources if you know what a serving looks like. 4 ounces is 1/2 cup (US) or about the size of a tennis ball. 3 ounces is a deck of cards. 2 ounces is a shot glass. There is no need to stress out and measure all your food. It is wise to become familiar with portion sizes and use them to ensure you are getting enough protein.

If you are going to try veggie burgers, consider finding a recipe and making them yourself. Many ready-to-eat versions are highly processed and are consequently high in salt and saturated fat.

Design your meal around vegetables and work in the protein sources. My favorite things
to make are dinner bowls. I pile on roasted veggies, onions and garlic then add seasoned beans, a bit of rice and top with herbs. Cold beans + veggies + fruit + herbs with vinaigrette dressings are oh so delicious!

Nutritional yeasts are a great addition to any meal if you are just starting to incorporate more plant proteins or are looking for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals. The Red Star Brand is fortified with vitamin B12, B6, folate, protein and fiber. It tastes similar to cheese, and can be shaken atop salads, soups, cooked beans etc…

If beans cause you GI distress, there is hope. You can take a supplement, like Beano, that helps break down the problematic components. Sprouting beans may also help. All you do is soak your dried beans overnight and  spread them out on baking sheets for about 12 hours. When sprouts can be seen cracking the shells of the beans in half, they are ready for consumption after about 45 minutes of boiling or until they are at the desired firmness. They can also be stored in the freezer after cooking for easy meal making.

Do you have any plant protein questions???                     What are your favorite plant protein recipes? 

*DISCLAIMER: I am in no way making any specific recommendations. I encourage you to do research and make decisions for yourself. I do have a bachelor’s degree in dietetics but am not your medical professional. I am just sharing what I have learned and enjoy!


http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/vegetarian-sources-of-protein    https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/#figure-2-3                                supertracker.usda.gov


Healthy Options- Eating Out

Looking over a restaurant menu can be overwhelming. You may not know what you want or which options meet your body’s nutrient needs in the best way possible. It is true that you can eat healthy foods while eating out. You just have to know how to choose the right options for your body.

Look for meals that contain all of the food groups (in the right proportions).


Find something that offers protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy. For example a healthy meal could be steak and a baked potato with green beans and a yogurt, fruit mix for desert. Fish/chicken and brown rice/pasta with a salad, orange, and glass of milk would also be a great option. Even a low-sugar fruit smoothie and a turkey-tomato-avocado-Swiss cheese sandwich with whole grain bread meets these goals. It can be more difficult to tell in what amounts each food group is present in dishes that are all mixed together. Just do you best and be satisfied in your selection or plan to fill in the gaps when you find yourself hungry later that evening.

Don’t drink unnecessary calories.

Choose water or milk as your beverage instead of soda or juice. Sodas and juices are calorie dense and do not offer many nutrients. More often than not, they can leave you feeling more thirsty than before because they do contain sugars, sweeteners, excess calories and the like. Drinking low-fat milk instead supplies your body with many nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and riboflavin that sodas and juices cannot.Water is one of the very best options. Water alone or water with lemon, berries, or herbs hydrates your body with no added sugar and is even easy on the wallet.

Restaurants often serve very large portions.

The National Institute of Health claims that restaurant portions have doubled, some have even tripled, over the last two decades. The Huffington Post reports that 96% of chain restaurants in the U.S. have entrées that exceed what the USDA recommends for fat, saturated fat and sodium intake. One of the best ways to curb the issue of overconsuming calories and feeling absolutely stuffed is to eat only half or three-quarters of what is served. The remaining portion can be taken home and eaten for lunch the next day. You can even plan to share an entree with someone else and, in addition, each order a side salad.

A few overall guidelines for choosing the best foods at restaurants:
  • Choose meats that are baked or grilled instead of fried or battered. If you do not know how the meat is cooked, just ask and request an alternative method if necessary.
  • Look for a French fry alternative that you enjoy. Baked, broiled, mashed, or herb roasted potatoes are all great choices. You could go a completely different route and replace French Fries with a whole grain (brown or wild rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, barley, oatmeal or popcorn).
  • For foods that are smothered in cheese or sauces, ask for the sauce on the side and use only a portion of it to top your dish.





Herb and Spice Guide

There are countless of herbs and spices out there, all with their own flavor profiles. Some
flavors pair well with specific types of foods. Here are some tips and tricks about purchasing, cooking, storing, and using herbs and spices in your favorite dishes.

There is a difference between herbs and spices. Herbs are the leaves of various shrubs and be used fresh or dried. Spices come from bark, roots, seeds, buds, berries, or fruits of shrubs and trees. Spices are usually used once they have been dried.


  1. When planning to use herbs, pick or purchase them on the day you intend to use IMG_9609them. This way their freshness and flavor will be at its best for your dish.
  2. It is helpful to store herbs inside a plastic bag with a few holes cut into it and
    wrapped in a damp paper towel. This allows the air to travel and keep the moisture from settling on your herbs. You could also place them in a glass of water and leave them on the kitchen counter.
  3. Wash all herbs before incorporating them into your recipe by running them under cool water. Gently shake off the excess water and pat with a paper towel.

A few insights:

  • If the recipe calls for a “sprig”, run your fingers up and down the stem and the leaf portion of the herb will fall away. These leaves are what you will use in your dish and the stem can be discarded.
  • When substituting fresh herbs for dry herbs, use up to three times the amount the recipe calls for.
  • Fresh herbs are usually added within a few minutes of finishing or at the very end of the recipe.

If your recipe doesn’t specify when to add herbs or you are unsure, sprinkle or mix them in just before serving.

          Popular Herb Pairings

Basil Chives Cilantro Dill Parsley Rosemary Thyme
Tomatoes Potatoes Salsa Carrots Salads Fish Eggs
Pesto Vegetable Dips Tomatoes Fish: tilapia, salmon, trout etc… Fish Poultry Lima beans
Zucchini Bean Dips Mexican dishes Green beans Rice dishes Lamb Summer Squash
Sauces Caribbean dishes Potatoes Soups and Stews Poultry


  1. Ground spices can be kept for 1 year. Whole spices will last a bit longer, up to 2 years.
    A great way to test if a ground spice is still good is to rub a pinch onto the palm of stock-photo-aromatic-spices-on-wooden-spoons-food-ingradients-285211709
    your hand. If the aroma is fresh, rich, and immediate, it is likely still fresh enough to flavor your dish. The same can be done to test a whole spice; you may need to crush it first before you are able to smell it well.
  2. Store spices in tightly covered containers away from sunlight exposure. Keep spices away from any moisture and heat, particularly any that might come from a dishwasher or oven.
  3. If the recipe does not specify how much of a spice to use, begin with ¼ tsp. for the following portions and add more to your liking: 4 servings, 1 pound of meat, and 1 pint of soup or stew. Use less than a ¼ tsp. to begin if the spice is cayenne pepper, garlic powder, or red pepper flakes.


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