National Nutrition Month: Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle

(Disclosure: Post Grape Nuts, KIND Snacks, Body Armor, National Frozen and Refrigerated Food Association, and Sunkist are TV clients of mine. I was not compensated to write this blog posts.)


March is National Nutrition Month which means it’s time to celebrate with the theme“bite into a healthy lifestyle”.  I’m thrilled to share these ideas — they’re easy, fun, and delicious and perfect for all occasions!

Check out my recent segment on Let’s Talk Live D.C. in the video clip and read on to get my tips and recipes you need to “bite into a healthy lifestyle” today!

Cook Once Eat All Week

Grape nuts crunchy oatmeal pancakes

Grape nuts crunchy oatmeal pancakes

Grape Nuts cereal has been nourishing us for over 100 years. A half-cup serving of Grape-Nuts cereal
is an excellent source of fiber, provides 100% of your day’s whole grains, and it’s high in iron. You know you can enjoy Grape Nuts with cold milk or warmed up – but did you know you can also cook with it?

Crunchy Oatmeal Grape Nuts pancakes are a huge hit with my family. I love making them once on the weekend and having left overs to enjoy during the busy week. There are lots of creative recipes for meals, appetizers, and snacks at GrapeNuts.com.

Brighten Meals With Citrus

Specialty citrus is in season right now through April. You can get lots of varieties like cara cara oranges, which offer 150% of your daily needs for vitamin C. Moro blood oranges have a beautiful distinctive red interior and hints of raspberry flavor, and Minneola Tangelo, which you can identify by the distinctive knob at the stemare an excellent source of both Vitamins C and Folate.

Sunkist minneola salsa over  grilled chicken thighs

Sunkist minneola salsa over grilled chicken thighs

If you’ve never had a Minneola tangelo, you’re in for a real treat. They are a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine, giving them a juicy, sweet and tangy flavor!

Try pairing fish, meats or grilled vegetables with minneola salsa – The salsa has oranges, roma tomatoes, onion and cilantro adding flavor and zest to ANY dish. I used grilled chicken thighs, but you could also use this salsa with fish or black beans and rice. Check out Sunkist.com for this recipe and more.

Make Your Homemade Meal Easy

Real food, frozen.

Real food, frozen.

We all know how hard it can be to get a wholesome, homemade meal on the table. When you’re in a dinner dilemma look in the frozen foods section where you’ll find REAL FOOD, frozen.

Butternut squash and sage ravioli from Evol, is prepared and FLASH frozen which locks in nutrients. Add color and nutrition with Green Giant Tuscan broccoli. These vegetables are picked at their peak ripeness and frozen, also locking in nutrients.

Real food, frozen

Real food, frozen

Let’s talk convenience. Start to finish, dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes and you don’t have to order take out, which can be pricey. Here you can be in charge of quality even if you don’t cook from scratch.

Frozen foods aisles have global flavors available too – lots of ethnic-inspired dishes for the types of cuisine your family enjoy. Visit EasyHomeMeals.com  to discover your next homemade favorite.

Do the KIND Thing

KIND healthy grains bars

KIND healthy grains bars

Try KIND Healthy Grains Bars. Granola bars made from ingredients you can see and pronounce.

With five super grains: Gluten Free Oats, Millet, Quinoa, Amaranth and Buckwheat,  KIND healthy grains granola bars have at least 18 grams of whole grains per bar, and a good source of fiber.

They have a chewy and crunchy texture for a satisfying snack morning or afternoon.

KIND is on a mission to inspire “KINDness” in our communities.You can go online and vote for your favorite socially impactful cause and KIND will give away $10,000 a month to the cause with the most votes. www.KINDsnacks.com

Upgrade Your Sports Drink

Spring sports have started (or will start soon). Parents will often ask me, what’s the best sports drink for my active child. If you are an athlete or have a very active child, you might benefit from more than just plain water during activity, especially if it’s over 60 minute

Potassium packed sports drink, no artificial ingredients.

Potassium packed sports drink, no artificial ingredients.

I recommend BodyArmor because it has no artificial ingredients and is low in sodium – unlike other sports drinks. BodyArmor has more potassium-packed electrolytes and vitamins that any other sports drink, and it’s made with coconut water.

Try 5 great tasting flavors like fruit punch, orange mango, grape, and strawberry banana. Pick it up at Target or retailers near you. www.DrinkBodyArmor.com


(Disclosure: Post Grape Nuts, KIND Snacks, Body Armor, National Frozen and Refrigerated Food Association, and Sunkist are TV clients of mine. I was not compensated to write this blog posts.)

 

 

 

The Secret to Happiness is…

“I don’t want to be happy,” said no one ever.

happy-47083_640Of course all of us want to be happy, right? If someone asked you today to rank your happiness from one to ten, where would you rank? My ranking, like most people I imagine, changes a bit with different events in my life. When I have a breakthrough session with a client? A 10! When I’m having “one of those days?” Maybe a 5. When my daughters were born? A 100. :)

I think it’s fair to say that no one can be happy 100% of the time. But everyone wants to feel happy with their lives generally. After all, what’s life without happiness?

Can You Be Kind Today?

So, how do we become happier? While that answer will vary from person to person, there is one simple thing we can all do to boost our happiness: be kind.

Studies have shown that people who are kind to others are more likely to experience happiness themselves. In fact, researchers have found that kindness and happiness create a “virtuous cycle” that can lead to long-term happiness.

You Can Do It: Do something nice for someone everyday for a full week, and see how you feel (and let me know about it in the comments)! If the research is right, I bet you’ll feel like a million bucks.

9 Easy Ways To Spread Kindness

  1. Say hello and smile at a stranger.
  2. Hold the door open for someone.
  3. Tell someone you appreciate them and why.
  4. Do a favor without being asked.
  5. Call your mom.
  6. Make a donation to a person or cause you care about.
  7. Write a letter, not an e-mail, use a stamp and everything!
  8. Cook a meal for someone.
  9. Go on a “walk and talk” with a friend.

Can You Add To My List?

Leave a comment on an easy way to spread kindness and improve your happiness.

Happiness is the kind of thing that feels elusive sometimes, I know. But let’s all try to get our virtuous cycles going, and get some more happiness by giving some more kindness – to others and ourselves.

Have a healthy, happy day!

Creating New Healthy Habits, Part 2

Change? Who has time for change?

iStock_000007370546XSmall

Now that we’re exiting February and approaching March, I have to ask, “how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along?” I’m sorry. I’m only half kidding…

We all have the best intentions when we create those resolutions, don’t we? Exercise more, eat less, sleep more, spend less, and the list goes on and on. The fact of the matter is that we are all want to do better! But so many of us just can’t seem to find the time or don’t know how to get started. (hint, the goals are way too unrealistic for your brain to go along for the ride).

So if you bagged on your resolutions already, that’s alright. You’re like the other 65% of Americans (probably higher than that). Now you are ready for the real change. Putting effort into habits that will stick with you.

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a podcast in which Dr. Christine Carter discusses eight steps to building healthy habits. If you haven’t read it yet, go back and read it. Do it now. I’ll wait.

In that blog, I covered Dr. Carter’s first four steps of her change process and also included a link to her second podcast, which includes the last four steps.

The more and more I thought about, though, I felt that just didn’t do the last four steps enough justice. So I’m going to discuss her last four steps here in more detail. Yeah, it’s THAT important!

So here they are: the last four steps in Part II of the podcast, Getting in Good Habits.

How to Change Your Habits (part 2)

 (5) Pick a super-easy first step. Now we aren’t talking about a goal like, “exercise more.” Because that is not only non-specific,  but it also can be super intimidating. So Dr. Carter suggests picking a teeny tiny first step, something that will literally take less than 30 seconds. And even if you’re tempted to jump to the next step immediately after this one, don’t!  Trust me – if you do this step over and over again, your brain will eventually recognize it as a new habit.

You can do it challenge: Decide what that “teeny tiny” first step will be. (and let me know about it in the comments) I challenge you to think what is the LEAST you can do to change the habit and work with that first then move on. 

For example, if you tend to eat when you aren’t hungry. Many of my clients deal with eating when bored, stressed, or feeling emotional on some level. Your first step should not be “stop emotional eating” (LOL!) If you knew how to do it, you would already be there. But the first step may be. Spend 30 seconds thinking about the choice, asking if I am hungry, bored, or just interested in eating. Asking would I eat this at a table with no TV or other distractions. Then, decide. Taking that crucial “pause” can be short – just 30 seconds – and even if you still want to eat something, maybe you do and maybe you don’t. But the point is, you started asking question. See what I mean?

(6)  Anchor your first step. Instead of creating a whole new schedule for your first step, try anchoring that step into an existing routine. Dr. Carter uses the example of flossing. If you’re already in the habit of brushing your teeth, maybe that teeny tiny first step is getting the floss out with your toothpaste.

I love that idea… again with the emotional eating example, you could start brushing your teeth immediately after dinner and getting water or herbal tea to give your hands something to do while you watch TV – and hey, it’s hydrating! Two-for-one. Another idea is to anchor getting a drink to walking into the kitchen and then taking your 30 second pause to figure out why you are there — physical hunger or emotional hunger?

(7) Visualize success. This might sound unnecessary, but believe me…it’s critical; the whole point of these steps is to rewire your brain into recognizing a new habit. So spend just a few minutes actually thinking about what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’ll feel once you reach your goal. It’s okay, you can revel a bit. :)

Also important in this step is thinking about what some potential obstacles are and how you’ll overcome them if they actually happen. For example, let’s say your goal is meditation. What will you do if the phone rings in the middle of your meditation time?

Obstacles are a big thing with emotional eating, I suggest anticipating the types of obstacles you face and plan a healthy and sustainable work around. (If you need help, see a therapist or RD like me who specializes in Intuitive Eating and/or disordered eating patterns.)

(8) Celebrate! Every single time you do this super-easy first step, it’s time to celebrate! You don’t literally need to throw yourself a party everyday, but giving yourself a mental high-five is a good practice to have; it reinforces your habit and goshdarnit, it feels good.

You can do it challenge: Decide what that teeny tiny first step will be. (and let me know about it in the comments)

So, it’s cold. You hate the gym. You’re busy. But you want to incorporate exercise into your life. Somehow. How do you get started? Well, what’s the tiniest step you can think of? Maybe that step is putting sneakers by the front door with your work shoes. Or maybe on your walk to lunch you add another 30 seconds by taking a slightly different route. Or maybe instead of changing into the usual casual outfit after work, you change into workout clothes instead. Or maybe it’s something else. But whatever it is, make sure it’s small, easily achievable, and something you can celebrate once it’s done (because let’s be honest, you’ve got this!).

Anyone can do something for 30 seconds, right? So, let’s start there. The only thing you have to remember is to start small and practice that ridiculously small step over and over again. After all, practice makes…perfect-ly healthy habits. :) If you follow these steps mindfully, your brain will join you in partnership…I promise!

You can do this!

What’s your habit goal and first step? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Recipes to Love Yourself on Valentine’s Day and All Month Long

(Disclosure: Post Shredded Wheat, Cans Get You Cooking, Mazola Corn Oil, Sabra, Wonderful Sweet Scarlett’s, KIND Snacks, Genova, and American Pistachios are TV clients of mine. I was not compensated to write this blog posts.) 

Give a piece of your heart this holiday season.

Give a piece of your heart through joyful eating.

Love is in the air! We’ve got Valentine’s Day coming up soon. It’s also national Heart Health Month, Canned Foods Month and Grapefruit Month (seriously!)

I’ve got some fabulous ideas that celebrate all February has to offer through food. You can crunch, munch, and sip your way to a healthier heart without wasting hours in the kitchen.

If fries, pizza, and soup sound like your top heart healthy menu…. come on over to my place! (I’m kidding!) You’re in luck… because I have baked zucchini fries, hummus pizza, and pasta e fagioli you can make in 20 minutes and much more!

Check out my recent segment on Let’s Talk Live D.C. in the video clip below and read on to hear what I’m loving and why. Plus, get the recipes you need to fill your belly with deliciousness.


Post Shredded Wheat, Recommended by Doctors

A national survey showed 9 of 10 doctors would recommend Post Shredded Wheat as part of a healthy eating plan to help prevent heart disease. Whole grains, fiber, no cholesterol or sodium.imagegen

Now, let’s talk taste. I love warming mine up with milk, cinnamon, and fruit in the chill of February. You can do lots with Post Shredded Wheat besides the cereal bowl, like DIY trail mix and in recipes where you need “crunch”.

Cans Get You Cooking All Week Long

Kelsey Nixon's Pasta e fagioli (for Cans Get You Cooking)

Kelsey Nixon’s Pasta e fagioli (for Cans Get You Cooking)

You know that feeling when you are short on menu ideas, you’re hungry and tired after a long day. You need to eat, you’d like it to be pretty healthy and easy. Take out would be easy… but you don’t have to if you have a well-stocked pantry (aka “cantry”) filled with canned foods you can use to make healthy homemade meals easy. Try this pasta e fagioli recipe with cannelini beans, fire roasted tomatoes, and chicken broth.

It’s national canned foods month – a great time to stock up on your favorites and pick up something new. I’ve been buying canned artichokes to go in pasta dishes and sauteed with chicken, spinach, and feta cheese. The can locks in flavor, freshness, and nutrition naturally when fruits and veggies are at their peak.

Baked Zucchini Fries and Lemon Pepper Chickpea Salad with Mazola Corn Oil

Big news, corn oil (like Mazola) was shown to help the body lower cholesterol better than extra virgin olive oil, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Lipidemiology. (that’s a tongue twister!) Here’s the gist, corn oil has naturally occurring compounds called plant sterols – more than any other oil – 40% more than canola oil and 4x’s more plant sterols than olive oil. These guys help block cholesterol absorption.

Lemon pepper chickpea salad

Lemon pepper chickpea salad courtesy of Mazola

You can use Mazola corn oil in baking, like these zucchini fries with a panko parmesan crust I made for Mazola.  A little creamy yogurt dip (or marinara) and you won’t believe vegetables could taste this good. I get no complaints when I serve these up.

Also try Mazola in a marinade like in this lemon pepper chickpea salad. Make it ahead and use it in recipes throughout the week.

Pizza Niiiiight – with Sabra Hummus

Yes, I’m serious… and don’t call me Shirley. Sabra makes the #1 selling hummus. It’s great as a dip and spread. But most people don’t know you can cook with Sabra hummus too.

Flatbread pizza with Sabra hummus

Flatbread pizza with Sabra hummus.

Enter “pizza night” reinvented for a love-your-heart twist. You will love how easy and delicious this is. Simply pick up some flatbread, smear it with Sabra hummus and lightly sauteed veggies (leftovers are great too! We had some grilled veggies from the weekend kabobs. I chopped up mushrooms, onions, and red and green peppers for mine.) I also used just a bit of feta cheese.

If you’re cooking for a clan, go ahead and do some with red pizza sauce ones too. Sabra also makes salsa and guacamole. Try mexican pizza with refried beans, salsa, veggies, and cheese, topped with guac before serving. This is an easy one to involve with kids. See what toppings they would like to have. They can help you with the cooking and hey, why not get them to help with clean up!

Wonderful Sweet Scarletts – The Sweetest Red Grapefruit Around

Grapefruit are in season (of course it is also national grapefruit month) and why not think outside the half grapefruit at breakfast box and do something unexpected like broil it. Yep, I said it. Broil that bad boy for a yummy caramelization that will make your salads pop with flavor.

Scarletts_8lb_box_hr_highresTry Wonderful Sweet Scarletts – the Texas Red Grapefruit – with 100% vitamin C, vitamin A and lycopene – a powerful antioxidant you can only find in the red variety.

After broiling for about 8 minutes with just a touch of sugar on top, you can add it to yogurt, oatmeal, or salads – just toss and dress with your favorite veggies and salad mix-ins.

I like to juice grapefruit and use it in marinades and very simple salad dressings. If you want to spruce up your water try some freshly squeezed juice with fizzy water for a refreshing drink.

Spread KINDness to Your Valentine

KIND snacks have the February heart health, Valentine’s Day, and happiness trifecta. They have nuts as a main ingredient, they have dark chocolate varieties (for your sweetie) and you can feel good about all the KINDness going around through #KINDawesome cards and KIND causes. kind_bar_darkchocolatecinnamonpecan_2

Allow me to explain: KIND will donate $10/month to the most popular cause at www.causes.KIND.com – and all you have to do is vote! You can get a natural feel good vibe off of a small act on your part to help those around you.

Getting a little more personal, get yourself a #KINDawesome card and give it away to someone you spot giving an act of KINDness. Then they can redeem the card for a KIND bar sample box with another #KINDawesome card. It’s like paying it forward over and over again.

Upgrade the Taste of Your Tuna with Genova

Chilled grilled vegetables with Genova tuna.

Chilled grilled vegetables with Genova tuna.

Genova is premium quality seafood with three simple ingredients – wild-caught Yellowfin tuna fillets, a touch of salt and just enough olive oil– simple ingredients that make Genova uniquely satisfying. Genova takes tuna to a whole new level of luxury.

Try chilled grilled vegetables with tuna or tuna with black lentils. These dishes are easy to prepare and offer rich, savory flavors you’ll crave.

American Pistachios Make a Smart Snack

American pistachios have the perfect heart health formula: Plant protein, mono and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Plus they have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show they may support heart health by reducing oxidative damage and improving cholesterol levels. You get 49 kernels, 160 calories and 1.5 grams saturated fat per serving. For recipes and tips visit Americanpistachios.org.


(Disclosure: Post Shredded Wheat, Cans Get You Cooking, Mazola Corn Oil, Sabra, Wonderful Sweet Scarlett’s, KIND Snacks, Genova, and American Pistachios are TV clients of mine. I was not compensated to write this blog posts.) 

Being OK with Being Imperfect

Perfection. It’s elusive. It’s enticing. And your quest for it just might be standing in the way of being your happiest, healthiest self.

perfectionist

Being perfect sounds, well, perfect, right?  Who wouldn’t want to put their “best” foot forward? Second place is the first loser. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all… RIGHT??? Wrong. Heeeeeelllll no.

You can do it challenge:  Work on being a little less perfect. 

I’m Human, You’re Human

The problem with striving for perfection is that, as perfectly imperfect humans, we often fall short of the ideal “expectation.”  And that’s where the trouble really starts.  While the initial drive may stem from a desire for self-improvement, we often end up judging ourselves, feeling guilty, and likely to hinder our own growth.

There Are No Special Rules For You

You know it’s impossible for other women to work out perfectly, eat a perfect diet, get perfect grades, and be a perfect wife and mom. But you… YOU CAN DO IT! You have some sort of genetic gift that allows you to create time, energy, desire, and willpower to do it all and nothing ever gets in your way. (Are you picking up what I’m putting down?) There are no special rules just for you that you would not expect of all women.

What “special rules” do you have that only seem to apply to you?

Try Rational Imperfection

If you have a “perfect” workout planned, and something comes up at home or work, what do you do?  Do you modify original plan for something shorter and less intense? Or would you rather do nothing at all than not exercise “perfectly” (if there even is such a thing)?

How about if you have a slice of pizza when you’re trying to “eat clean” (once again, if there even is such a thing…If there is, then I prefer to “eat dirty”) Do you say “screw it, since I’m breaking my rule, might as well go crazy” and just eat the whole thing?

This is exactly how perfectionism gets in the way of being happy and healthy.

Instead, what’s wrong with “good enough” or lowering the bar even further. I call it “what’s the LEAST effort I can put into this?” Be rationally imperfect. Tolerate the fact that you want to be doing more, but what you can do, you will do and that’s good enough for right now.

I kid you not, I have done 5 minute workouts and called that a success. When I eat pizza, I understand that I love it and I’m not going to eat on slice. I don’t need to binge on it. I could savor it. I could eat vegetables with it.

Perfectionists Never Reach Their Goal

Does it sound like a good time to have a destination in mind, but the directions keep you lost and you’re running in circles? That’s perfectionism. You’ll never get to where you want to go. Ever. Ever ever.

What are you really doing when you’re reaching for unattainable perfection? How is perfectionism getting in your way of living a full, happy life?  Is there a repetitive voice in your head telling you there’s no such thing as good enough?  Is it a judgmental voice (YOU SUCK!) or a gentle observation (I WISH I DID YOGA TODAY, BUT THE WALK WAS NICE AND IT FIT MY SCHEDULE).   If your thoughts make you feel inadequate, it’s not actually helping you.

Instead, engage with thought and see reality for what it is. Just because a workout is short, it doesn’t mean it’s not effective or somehow you are a “bad/unhealthy/lazy” person.  Think about how your actions really are beneficial to your health and well-being.  When all you have to offer is just a little bit, that’s still light-years better than nothing. Lots of “littles” add up. I feel like a broken record saying this, but it’s true! I’ll say it a million more times if that is what it takes.

Getting Vulnerable to Put Down the “Shield”

Brene Brown calls perfectionism a, “20-ton Shield” that we use to minimize our potential of being hurt. She says that perfectionism is always driven by shame and fear in the areas of our lives where we feel the most vulnerable.  We think that if we’re perfect, others won’t judge us.  And we use that perfectionism as a way to establish our own self-worth.

Sound familiar?  That description absolutely hits home for me.  Learn more about Brene Brown’s take on perfectionism here – it’s an excellent article and absolutely worth the read.

You can do it challenge:  Work on being a little less perfect. 

Take baby steps.  When you hear that internal voice saying you aren’t doing something well enough, challenge it. Here are more questions you can ask:

  • Is this really self-improvement driven or do I have rigid expectations?
  • Is this expectation making me happier or healthier?
  • Is this something I would teach my children or my best friend, or is it just my own emotional baggage?

Let yourself make mistakes.  And know that every once and a while, it’s actually OK to half-ass it. I put in 50% effort on a regular basis. And I’m less stressed, more positive, and happier person for it.

What about you? What’s your story of perfectionism?