Tag Archives: healthy

Protein and You

The last few weeks have been crazy around my house, people visiting from out of town, and a little bit of travel ourselves. With summer winding down, we have one last big trip coming up at the end of September and then hockey season starts!

I wanted to focus on protein this month. As the building block for muscle and tissue, it’s important that we consume enough, but too much can also be problematic. As an advocate of consuming a large variety of foods, I try to consume protein from both plant based sources, as well as animal sources. It can be difficult to get enough protein if your focus is only on plant based sources, and you may want to consider supplementing with a protein powder.

How much protein do I need?

Our lifestyle, age, gender, weight and choice of work outs influence how much protein we need. The average adult should make sure that at least 10 to 30 percent of their daily calories are coming from protein (protein is 4 calories per gram). You can calculate this yourself by taking your total caloric intake and multiply it by .10; this is the least amount of calories of protein the average person requires. Multiply your total caloric intake by .30 gives you the maximum amount of calories from protein you should consume each day.

Another measurement is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This formula is reliant on your body weight and is used most often by nutritional professional, as it is flexible to take into consideration your lifestyle. For example, those who engage in a lot of strength training need to consume between 1.2 and up to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. Endurance athletes need less (only 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram) since their muscles need more carbohydrates for fuel. To calculate your daily requirement simply multiply your weight in kilograms by the corresponding number, based on your activity, in the chart below.






Strength training






Team Sport



Coming up this month: we’ll talk about some of the sources of protein (from both animal and plants), and I’ll give you my personal review of several protein bars (great pre-workout, especially when you are crunched for time).

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or want to learn more!!

Eat well.




Smoothie versus Juicing

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of juicing. For starters, I can’t get over the fact that most juices are green, and I really prefer to eat my vegetables. That being said, even smoothies have some issues, as far as nutritionally.

The biggest issue I have with juices is that by only consuming the juice of the produce you are missing out on a host of nutrition including fiber. The second issue I have is that you need way more of the produce to get enough juice to actually drink; who eats 2 oranges at a time? But yet it takes 2 oranges to create 4 ounces of juice. So in the end juices provide more sugar and potentially more vitamins with none of the fiber to help moderate the digestion. There is a potential to intake too much of certain vitamins and minerals which carry long term health risks, especially with fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K.

Heres a side by side comparison of 4 ounces of orange juice versus 2 oranges. As you can see you get WAY more vitamins and minerals, as well as the fiber by eating the fruit instead of drinking it.

IMG_0033 IMG_0034

Smoothies on the other hand, retain the fiber because you are consuming the entire fruit. Fiber is so not only beneficial to maintaining a healthy digestive tract, but it also slows down the digestion process so that your body can extract all the good stuff it needs and slows down the absorption of the natural occurring sugars. Be cautious when buying commercially prepared smoothies, since many contain added sugars.

Smoothies also do not really require any expensive kitchen gadgets, you really only need a good blender (I have a ninja and I love it). I like to buy my produce in season and freeze it, then create frozen smoothie packets. All I have to do is add some plain yogurt, a little almond milk and maybe a scoop of protein powder and I am good to go in less than 5 minutes. (special diet note: If I have a smoothie for breakfast, I will refrain from eating any other fruit for the day, or anything else super sugary). Here’s my basic recipe for smoothies. Let me know if you have any questions or if there is any subject you are looking for information on and I will try to tackle it soon!

Basic Acai Smoothie (with protein)

1/2 banana, frozen

1/2 cup frozen fruit (see below for suggestions)

1 packet frozen Acai (I prefer the Acai Roots brand)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup plain almond milk

1 scoop Isopure unflavored whey protein powder (optional)

Frozen Fruit options (choose one or mix and match)


How keeping a food diary helps you lose weight

Hope everyone had a happy July Fourth weekend! A friend asked me over the weekend what my number 1 nutrition tip was for someone trying to lose weight and I said, hands down, without a doubt, keeping a food diary, closely followed by meal planning. Any registered dietitian or nutrition professional will emphasis the importance of tracking your food intake on a daily basis. Most nutrition experts will ask you to track your intake for several days prior to consultations, and then ask you to maintain the diary while under their care. There are several ways that keeping a food diary helps you manage your weight. Heres a list why you should do it:

  1. Simply writing down the things you consume, including drinks and snacks, helps hold you accountable. There are several apps for smart phones that make this process so easy and convenient; Myfitnesspal or fooducate ; both are free to sign up. If you don’t have access to a smart phone, using a small notebook to jot down everything and look up the nutritional information on the internet later.
  2. Sometimes just seeing the amount of food you have consumed is enough of a surprise to inspire change. Then looking up the nutritional content, or lack thereof, can have a sobering effect.
  3. If you suspect a food allergy, or suffer food borne illness, keeping a food diary can act as guide to decipher which foods may be the culprits.
  4. For those of us who are emotional eaters (I tend to eat when I am bored), keeping track of when we eat, what we ate and how we felt when we ate it helps us self-monitor our feelings and instigate behavioral changes.
  5. Keeping track of your daily nutritional intake can help you make sure you are consuming enough vitamin, minerals and fiber to keep your body healthy and free from deficiencies. And if you do have deficiencies, it’s almost always better to get added vitamins/minerals from your diet as opposed to supplements (food products are easier for your body to utilize)
  6. When you log your daily nutrition often enough, you start to learn which food choices are better, or worse, for your diet.

Some tips to help you keep a better diary:

  1. for the first 5 days, do not alter your eating habits. During the initial phase you are tracking your diet so that you can go back and look for trends and patterns. This helps you develop behavior modifications that are appropriate for your habits.
  2. track EVERYTHING! Every drink, a piece of gum, a half a chicken nugget, 4 french fries, everything gets counted.

I keep a diary all the time because I track my macros (especially when I am training for a race or doing a lot of strength training) and I want to make sure I am getting enough fiber (25 grams a day for women, 30 grams for men). Having IBS, getting enough fiber, as well as avoiding certain food triggers, helps keep it under control without using medication.

Here’s some fourth of July goodies I served up this weekend:

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Grillable Veggie Burgers – Minimalist Baker

Quick Pickled Vegetables

I made this dish for a friends fourth of July party and it was a huge hit!! I had several people request the recipe, so I thought it would be great to share here as well. I was amazed at how easy this was to do. I have never pickled anything before, and this was a breeze. I can’t wait to try it with other veggies!!

Pickled Vegetables


Quick Pickled Vegetables


2 cups distilled white vinegar

1 T kosher salt

1 T sugar

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 jalapeno, halved and seeded

1 T caraway seed

1 T fennel

4-5 mini cucumbers or 2 Kirby cucumbers, quartered

4-5 small carrots or 3 medium carrots, quartered

1 bunch radishes, quartered or halved


  1. bring vinegar, salt, sugar, garlic, jalapeno, caraway seed and fennel to a boil in a medium saucepan; simmer until salt and sugar dissolves (approximately 1 minute). Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. pour vinegar mixture over prepared vegetables in a large bowl. Cool completely, stirring occasionally. Let sit for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Remove vegetables from brining liquid.

**liquid can be reused to make a second batch by simply adding additional vegetable to liquid and let them marinate overnight.

**You can try this brining solution with other vegetables as well. Try it with red onions, red cabbage, green beans, asparagus, beets.

Vegetables can be stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to a week.

Vegetarian Taco Salad


1 recipe roasted chickpeas click here

1 recipe cilantro lime vinaigrette click here

2 cups Iceberg lettuce, chopped

2 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped

1 cup red cabbage

1 cup grape tomatoes (or diced beefsteak)

1 cup fresh corn kernels (1-2 ears)

1 large avacado, pitted and sliced

1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 medium red onion, diced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained

  1. equally distribute lettuce into bowls, and top with remaining ingredients, roasted chickpeas and drizzle with vinaigrette. serve immediately.

*makes 4-6 servings*

recipe adapted from two peas and their pod

Rules for Eating Healthy



Here’s some quick tips to keep in mind to help you eat healthier:

  • avoid foods that are fried, sauteed, and/or breaded; instead choose foods that are baked, steamed or grilled
  • avoid fake foods like margarine or non-diary creamers; instead choose real butter, milk, etc. in moderate amounts
  • replace meats with other plant based sources of protein like beans, oatmeal, quinoa
  • if you choose meats, make sure they are lean cuts like filet, loins, or breasts.
  • when choosing ground meats, make sure they are 92% or higher fat-free (including ground poultry)
  • a serving of meat is 4-6 ounces; that is approximately the size of your palm.
  • eat more fish. Keep in mind shellfish are low in fat, but may contain cholesterol, so consume in moderation.
  • produce like fruit and vegetables should make up 3/4 of your plate.
  • avoid creamy salad dressings like caeser and ranch; instead opt for vinegar based dressing
  • when eating out, order a salad instead of fries with your meal, and ask for the vinaigrette on the side
  • skip croutons, cheese and any salad topping listed as “crispy’
  • smoothies are better than juicing; they retain the fiber found naturally in the fruit which helps to slow down the absorption of the naturally occurring sugar in the fruit.
  • if you choose to have a smoothie, try to avoid consuming any more fruit that day, stick to vegetables
  • choose brown foods over white foods; brown rice/bread contain the outer bran which adds fiber and other healthy vitamins and minerals that are stripped away when creating white flour and/or rice.
  • white potatoes are still good for you and are a good source of potassium; eat the skin to get all the benefits!
  • artificial sweeteners are still sweeteners, treat them as you would any other added sugar
  • Added sugar is added sugar, agave nectar, honey, sugar in the raw, they are all added sweeteners. try to avoid, but if you must, consume infreuently


Butternut squash and Black bean Enchiladas

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Makes 6 enchiladas


2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed

1 small butternut squash, seeded, peeled and diced into bite sized pieces

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

4 t cumin, divided

2 t paprika, divided

1 T chili powder

6 Large whole grain flour tortillas

½ recipe enchilada sauce

2 cups Mexican blend cheese

  1. Roast butternut squash: Toss butternut squash with 2t cumin, 2t paprika, salt, pepper and enough olive oil to coat; place on foil lined cookie sheet; roast at 400 degrees for 20 min or until soft and slightly browned tossing every 10 min
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic, onion and peppers until soft (8 min); once soft add the rest of the cumin, paprika and all the chili powder. Stir in tomatoes, black beans and roasted butternut squash. Remove from heat.
  4. Prepare 9×13 baking dish by covering the bottom with a light layer of enchilada sauce.
  5. Place filing in tortillas, roll up and place in pan seam side down
  6. Top with enchilada sauce to cover the tortillas, and then top with cheese
  7. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees
  8. Top with sour cream and guacamole
  • Add summer squash to the onions and peppers, in addition to or as replacement to the butternut squash
  • Make this an enchilada bowl by skipping the tortillas, adding the enchilada sauce directly to the filling in the pan in step 3 and heating through. Serve on top of brown rice, topped with cheese, sour cream and guacamole.


Enchilada Sauce (adapted from skinnytaste.com)


2 cloves garlic, minced

1T chipotle chilis in adobo sauce

15 ounces diced tomato (canned)

1 t chili powder

1 t cumin

1C vegetable stock



  1. In medium sauce pan, over medium high heat sauté garlic in ½ T olive oil for 30 seconds, add chipotle peppers, chili powder, cumin, stock, and tomatoes.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Set aside until ready for use

Can be stored in airtight container in fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for 1 year.

Saying No to Say Yes

I’m a little overwhelmed this week, with hockey games literally every other day and trying to prepare for my back surgery, and the 2-4 weeks of activity restrictions. I had a few social invitations as well, and even though I really wanted to go and visit with some friends, I had to decline a few so that I wouldn’t overwhelm myself even further. I am a little anxious about having this surgery to begin with, at the end of the day, although the visit would be pleasurable, I could see the stress that would be created down the road so I chose to attend to the things I need to get done.

I have been saying no to alcohol, with a few exceptions, since my diagnosis. anti-inflammatory medication like Naproxen can cause stomach and esophageal bleeding, and that risk is exasperated with alcohol. Also, I’ve been having a hard time finding a pain medication that doesn’t make me nauseous, and i can’t see how drinking on top of the medication can make that better. I figure my body has enough to deal with, why add another substance to the complicated mix.

Kinda like my diet in the weeks post surgery. My husband isn’t known for his cooking skills, let alone his healthy meal choices, so I really need to do some planning. I would love to just let him handle it, but that would mean burgers, steaks and potatoes for a veggie; it wouldn’t help my body heal itself or my waistline. He also would go out to eat every night. Either would create more stress for me in the long run, so I have to sacrifice my time now in order to make in less stressful for me later.

The problem with getting take out or going out to eat is we always treat it as a “special event”, so we tend to indulge ourselves. We’ll order the burger or high calorie alcoholic cocktail, how often do we get the opportunity to go out to eat? Realistically, for our family, some weeks we eat out 4-5 nights of the week. Was Wednesday a ‘special occasion’? no. I am not sure what was so special about Friday (other than it was Friday, and aren’t all Fridays special?). I won’t be choosing restaurants that I know have limited options for me to make good, healthy choices. And I won’t be ordering the fries (I almost always get the side salad with dressing on the side. But I may steal a few fries from my husband).

Knowing that the next two weeks will consist of plenty of Netflix and couch time, and the boredom munchies that will accompany that time, I’ll be making sure i have healthy, low calorie/nutritionally dense snacks on hand. Some things i’ll be saying yes to, the many scrumptious fruits and veggies coming into season.

Fruits: Apricots, berries, cherries, dewberries, grapefruit, melons, peaches, plums, lemons

Veggies: artichokes, asparagus, avocados, leeks, lettuce, wild greens, spinach, spring onions, radishes, mushrooms

I also anticipate several cups of air popped popcorn in my future (yeah for fiber)! I plan on utilizing the Whole Foods prepared food section, as well as Flower Child and Grabba Green, for the first few days of recovery to make things easier for everyone. I’ll post links to their sites and let you all know what we liked, or didn’t like.

I’ve been processing a lot these last few weeks. Always listen to your body and mind. Practicing mindfulness helps me determine when I need some down time to recharge my batteries, both mentally as well as physically. In hindsight, I should have either said no to more events leading up to the race, or have said no to the race. Trying to train and be socially active, lead to me skimping on the training portion, which meant i wasn’t physically prepared to run, which lead to my injury. Taking care of yourself should be your priority; if you are not taken care of how can you take care of others? Every one suffers. I’m learning that lesson every day.

If you’d like to follow my nutrition inputs and see which foods I say YES to, I use myfitnesspal, user name: DawnLawson30

Eat well!