Blog: Yoga, Nutrition & More

Winter blahs

March 23rd, 2014

Tea timeI have a confession to make. I’m over winter. Done. Kaput. Finished. New England winter has been belligerent and very slow in saying ‘bah-bye.’ Don’t get me wrong, I adore cold, crisp, white air winter. Just not THIS long.

My purple tea kettle and fancy tea cup called out. Really, I was procrastinating a writing assignment I’d been dreading for weeks and today it’s due.

Peeled and sliced ginger, a teaspoon each black peppercorns, coriander, fennel, cumin, and several cardamom pods steeped in boiling water. Spice tea heals a host of boogers – boredom!, inflammation, dehydration, lethargy, and mixed with a bit of maple syrup, the soul.

The simple act of boiling water and mindfully measuring out spices not only calmed but invigorated.  Tea is finished






So much so, a photo shoot was born. Creative juices flowed from this steaming cup of energy. Tea is poured

The tea is drunk. The article written. (And pans washed, kitchen scrubbed, office dusted.) Submitted. Waiting for edits from my editor – blah! The cycle continues. Guess it’s time for more tea!

Psssst…….truth is, add ice and this is a refreshing summer drink. It’s not just for winter anymore.




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Perfect portions, please

February 26th, 2014

Butterflied Chicken BreastDisgusting. Overbearing. Way too large. Yes, restaurant portions is what’s got my dander up. This Butterflied Chicken Breast from the Cheesecake Factory is about 4-6 ounces too many for one meal.

Too much protein for one meal. A body can only process about 28 grams protein at one sitting. That’s a 4 ounce chicken breast, not this one weighing in at 8-10 grams. A woman who is an average fitness enthusiast strives for about 55 grams protein all day long. This butterflied chicken breast just gave her that yet half of it will be wasted in metabolism.

What else is wrong with this picture?

Brown. White. Boring.

Remember those 11 servings of fruits and vegetables I mentioned in the last couple of blogs? Where are they here? Oh, wait, is that parsley?


Chicken Broccoli DinnerNow, this is more like it. Notice how half the plate is broccoli and oranges. The chicken breast is a modest and appropriate 4 ounces. The whole grain roll fills one-quarter of the plate perfectly.

Barbara Rolls, Phd, RD (author of Volumetrics) researched how much people eat depending on how large a portion they are served because she knew food portion size affects energy intake.  In this study, young adult men and women were served four different portions of macaroni and cheese for lunch on different days, and were allowed to consume as much food as they liked.  The data demonstrated a linear relationship between portion size served and intake. In other words, increasing the amount of macaroni and cheese served increased the amount that was consumed.

Why do portions matter to protect the health of your heart? A) big portions = big bodies. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and stroke. B) Most protein we eat is animal-derived meaning it has a  higher saturated fat content. For 70 years, we’ve scientifically noted saturated fat has a damaging effect on our blood vessels.

Bottom line? Cut out high-fat, big portioned beef, pork, and poultry and substitute smaller portions of white meats and fish. Even better? Cut these out altogether and eat a plant-based diet filled with legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, veggies and fruits. Vegans have the best anti-heart disease diet of all.

True dat.

Remember, small changes = big results. Even if being a vegan isn’t in your future, eating more plants can be.



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Smoothie your way to a healthy heart

February 19th, 2014

Blueberry Green SmoothieIf you read my blog a couple of weeks ago, you noted fruit and vegetables are the mainstay of a heart healthy diet, to the tune of 11 servings a day. Gasp! is right! That seems like a lot for those of us addicted to the comfort of meat protein, dairy, starches and grains.

Smoothies are a dietitian’s secret to getting to the top of the serving chart fast. One large banana = 2 fruit servings. Two handfuls of baby spinach or kale = 2 veg servings. Add a small apple = 1 serving, 1 cup mango = 2 servings, 1 large carrot = 2 servings. Nine servings in one smoothie is hard to believe but it’s true.

A few months ago, this You Tube video was taped. This is just one magnificent smoothie recipe I created for The Overnight Diet book. Take a peek at the video, replicate this smoothie, then get inventive and make your own versions.

Bon appétit!


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H.E.A.R.T.Y. ways to Heart Health

February 12th, 2014

Halt the Salt!

Halt the Salt!

H: High blood pressure is a major risk factor of heart disease. Approximately 1 in 3 people who develop high blood pressure can blame a high sodium (salt) diet. For some, excess sodium causes the body to hold onto extra fluid and that puts a burden on the heart. Sadly, about 97% of our children and adolescents eat too much salt and that puts them at an increased risk of developing heart disease as they get older.


Eggscellent news!

Eggscellent news!

E: Eggs have gotten a bad rap. They are an eggscellent lean protein choice. It’s the saturated fat content of foods (1 eggs has 1.6 g sat fat), not the cholesterol they contain, that has the greatest impact on our cholesterol levels. Even with high cholesterol, enjoy up to 7 eggs per week without guilt – include those in baked goods and combination foods, like meat loaf and casseroles.




Add fber!

A: Add fiber! Americans with the highest fiber intake have significantly lower estimated lifetime risk of heart disease. That’s great news. A high fiber diet can be a critical change toward long-term protection!

To increase your soluble fiber, try substituting quinoa (‘keen-wah’), barley  or farro for refined grains like white rice and pasta.

Ground flaxseeds are rich in fiber and omega-3 fats and should be ground or they’ll pass through the GI tract undigested.

Rich in veggies and fruit!R: Think Rainbow Colors – red, orange, yellow, green, and purple. They have more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are beneficial to heart health. Bonus! They are high in fiber, too.



Think about fat.T: Think about fat! There are unhealthy fats and healthy fats. Some may contribute to heart disease and other fats may help to prevent it! Lose animal fat and saturated fats in coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil. Gain mono- and polyunsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, olive and canola oils.

Keep in mind that all fat has 9 calories per teaspoon so it can add up quickly. If weight management is an issue, consider reducing your total fat intake, even good fats.


Say YES to planningY: Say yes to planning. Planning, as in meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking modifications can go a long way in helping you stick to your heart-healthy goals. In the beginning especially, it takes a little time to get used to planning a weekly menu, but soon it will be a breeze. Use menu plans you might find online or start with what you’re used to eating, foods you really like. Then think of new ideas, perhaps from recipes in cookbooks or magazines. Write down 4-5 dinner plans. In time, you may even begin to modify favorite family recipes using a substitutions chart to help you know what are the most optimal ingredients. Use the MyPlate method in planning meals: one-half the plate filled with colorful fruits and veggies, one-quarter with lean protein and the other quarter with a starch or whole grain. Don’t forget the low-fat dairy.

Next, write your grocery list. There are great online grocery list sites and apps that can make this a breeze – there’s a pen and paper, too! Make sure to include breakfast, lunch, and healthy snack items on your grocery list, as well as staples that align with your new eating style. Then, list all the ingredients you need for the dinners and you’re all set.

Happy Heart Health month!


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Get on track to heart health

February 5th, 2014

Chopping VegetablesFebruary is the heart-shaped holder of Valentine’s Day. It’s also National Heart Month. Can’t have a loving heart unless it’s healthy. So let’s talk about disease and death first. Then, the good stuff, and no, that’s not chocolate

About 600,000 Americans die each year because of heart disease. That’s 1 in 4 people! More than half of these are men.

Every year, 715,000 people have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 190,000 happen in those who have already had a heart attack.

Heart disease knows no favorites and strikes almost equally in whites, Hispanics, American Indians, Asians and blacks.

49% of those with heart disease have the top 3 risk factors:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. High LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol)
  3. Smoking.

Other medical conditions and lifestyle choices contribute to heart disease like diabetes, being overweight, eating poorly, being sedentary, and a little too much drinking at the bar.

Can I now say that it’s damn hard to do all the right things all the time? Give yourself a pat on the back if you:

  • Are anywhere close to a perfect clean and green diet
  • Exercise half an hour a day most days of the week, bigger pat if that’s an hour a day
  • Meditate, do yoga and get regular massages to reduce stress
  • Sleep 8-9 hours a night
  • Enjoy only a modest glass of wine or two nightly
  • Have a happy family dynamic filled with acceptance, love and appreciation


As a dietitian and nutrition therapist, my recommendations are to start small to build big long-term positive habits. Begin with one of those bullets.

Say, the diet bullet.

Analyze your intake – is there a lot of color on your plate? If not, start there. Add a vegetable and fruit serving per day until you’re at 11 servings a day. Gasp! That’s 1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw – it’s easier than you think. Oh, by the way, fruits and vegetables are carbs!

Next, check out your grain intake, like bread, bagels, crackers, cereals, rice, pasta. Reduce this category to 4 a day – get most of your carbs from those 11 servings of vegetables and fruits.

Low-fat dairy, legumes (beans and peas), poultry, fish and lean meat round out the rest of your day’s meals.

Now, for fun, have 2 small sweets per day (1 small cookie, a teaspoon of sugar) and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds) so you don’t feel deprived.

More coming this month on healthy eating, upping the ante on activity, stress management, and oh, yeah, that loving family.

Of important note, while there are some important numbers to know, like total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides, your doctor will be following new guidelines released in November 2013 by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. These guidelines show less focus on cholesterol numbers and more on overall cardiovascular risk. You can calculate your own risk by going to the AHA website and clicking Prevention Guideline Tools, Cardiovascular Risk Calculator.

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