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Eat Great, Feel Great Event

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Tuesday night I gave a talk on foods to help you look at feel your best for the coming beach season at Athleta in Woodcliff Lake, NJ. We had a great group of people who came out in the rain for the event. Rather than just lecture the whole hour, I did a more informal  discussion with Q & A throughout. We talked about a whole bunch of foods that can help us feel in top physical form by fighting bloat and promoting weight loss/maintenance, but we also discussed foods that boost serotonin levels—great for helping to shake off any lingering winter blues. A few of the many foods we talked about:

  • Lemon: This powerful detoxifier works as a natural diuretic and gentle laxative. The scent of lemon has also been shown to ease anxiety and promote positive feeling.
  • Chicken/Turkey/Lean Beef: Poultry and meat are rich in amino acid tryptophan, which the body converts into serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with mood.
  • Fish/Seafood: Fatty fish are potent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Don’t like fish? Try a fish-oil supplement.
  • Avocado: The potassium fights bloat, while the healthy fats keep you satisfied while also working wonders for your hair, skin, and nails. An added bonus—the vitamin B6 helps enhance the rate at which our body converts tryptophan into serotonin.
  • Bananas: A great source of vitamin B-6, tryptophan, and bloat-banishing potassium.
  • Chia Seeds: Another great source of Omega-3s. They also contain 6 grams of fiber per tablespoon to promote satiety. They’re also thought to promote hydration—great for warm-weather workouts.
  • Yogurt: The probiotic bacteria in yogurt fight the good fight in the GI tract and help promote regularity. Since most of our serotonin is produced in the gut, a happy gut means a happier you.
  • Whole Grains: A great source of B-vitamins, whole grains also have more tryptophan than other, more refined sources of carbohydrates. The fiber also promotes healthy digestion.

Thank you to Athleta for being such a great host!

I also want to give a big thank-you to The Chia Co, General Mills, and Goodie Foodie NY for providing treats for our swag bags.

Also, thank you to my sister for taking some pics at the event.

What are some of your favorite feel-good foods? 


What I Ate Wednesday #158: Work-From-Home-Monday

Athleta April 15What I Ate Wednesday, we meet again. How’s your week going? I feel like I’m still coming down from the excitement preparing for last night’s event. One of my favorite things about being a dietitian is being able to do workshops and other healthy-eating events in the community. I want to give a big shout-out to the folks at Athleta for being so great to work with! Also, thank you to everyone who came out! I had so much fun! I’ll have a post about the event soon.

Monday, I was working from home, which was a great opportunity to tie up loose ends for Tuesday. I also had quite a mountain of emails to tend to after working at the hospital Saturday and spending most of Sunday in Queens catching up with friends. One of the things I underestimated when starting my own business was just how much time I would spend on it. It’s what I wake up thinking about in the morning, and it’s what’s on my mind when I go to bed. For better or worse, it doesn’t even feel like work because I’m doing something I’m passionate about that allows me to use my skills while also learning new ones. Turns out that “labor of love” cliche is true.

One thing I should admit, though, is that on my work-from-home days, my meals do not score very high on the “presentation” side. I see nothing wrong with eating salad right from the mixing bowl…

Things in BowlsHere’s what I ate this past Monday. I wasn’t planning to make it a meatless one, but that’s what happened:

  • Breakfast: A smoothie similar to this one, except with chocolate whey protein powder. Of all the protein powders I’ve tried, whey is still my favorite—love the texture! I also feel it keeps me full for much longer than other types, and I can practically feel my muscles saying, “Thank you” after a workout when I have this for breakfast after. An aside: it happens to make smoothies taste like a Wendy’s frosty. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but hey.
  • Lunch: Another giant salad, with butter beans and tons of roasted veggies, plus a little avocado. A little later, I had a single-serving bag of Trader Joe’s kettle corn. Totally forgot to take a picture, though. Whoops!
  • Snack: Plain Greek yogurt with flax, cinnamon, and a few blackberries, topped with a drizzle of the rosemary fig honey I’ve been enjoying lately.
  • Dinner: I was trying to use up some kale, so I added some Trader Joe’s falafel, roasted veggies, hummus, tahini, and goat cheese.
  • Snack: Another photo fail: a sliced banana with PB2.

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

How do your meals differ from when you’re at work vs home?  


Food and Mood

Irving Farm cappucinoTonight I’m giving a talk on what to eat to look and feel your best. What we eat can have a huge impact on how we feel, just as how we feel can effect what we eat. However, it doesn’t have to be a vicious cycle! Sometimes taking a few extra steps to nourish ourselves with good food can help us hit the reset button and get on track with enjoying making good choices.

In that vein, I wanted share this piece on Food and Mood from the Atlantic.

Happy full moon lunar eclipse Tuesday : )

What foods do you eat to feel good? What foods make you feel not-so-good? 

The ghost in the white noise machine

Alternate title: “Eclipse Weather.” Yep, we’ve got a full moon lunar eclipse tomorrow night, so aside from the usual crazy, we’ve got, like, mega-ultra full moon weirdness.

Great example: Saturday morning, my muscles were begging for yoga before my shift at the hospital, so I unrolled my mat, turned on some music, and hit the white noise machine by my bed. About fifteen minutes in, the machine turned off by itself, across the room. I’ve had the thing five years, and it’s never done that.

I joked, “Okay, ghost. Very funny. Can we do this after I finish yoga?” Guess someone was sick of hearing this song. I turned the machine back on and finished my solo vinyasa class.

Literally four minutes after I was done, the machine turned off again. I think it was more busted than haunted—it turned off again as I was trying to fall asleep. It was just the timing that amused me. Things always break for me during an eclipse, so go figure.

Speaking of broken, my big toenail on the other foot is not sure it still wants to be attached to me. I am giving it time to decide and being extra nice. We will see, but What. The. F.

shakshukaI was speaking with a client recently about how important it is to nurture ourselves during stressful or busy times when things are very much in flux. One of the most basic ways we can do that is by feeding ourselves balanced meals at regular intervals and not pushing ourselves too much. So, with that in mind, here are a few (or okay, a lot) of my favorite basic “healthy comfort foods”:

On another note, I re-watched 20 Feet from Stardom the other night while folding some brochure’s for tomorrow’s Athleta event, and just well, wow. Now all I want to listen to is David Bowie’s “Young Americans” and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” On repeat.

What are some of your comfort foods? 

And on the third day He rose…

…from a diabetic ketoacidotic coma.

image from

Just in time for Easter, Dunkin Donuts recently released its newest diabesity special, The Peeps Donut. Oh dear. Peepsonality, indeed.

What’s the most ridiculous holiday treat you’ve ever seen?


The Challenge Continues

Embarrassing but true:

The other day, I reached for my phone to take a picture of my sparkly new phone cover, completely forgetting this was not possible, as the cover was already on the phone. #firstworldproblems.



Totally rivals the time I was frantically looking for my glasses while wearing my glasses.

zucchini coinsAlso embarrassing: forgetting all about doing a recipe this week for the April Cookbook Challenge. Except! I remembered, just in time. Weeks like this are why I tend not to undertake lofty blog-related challenges. You’d think mercury was retrograde with all the schedule changes, tech issues (not to mention having to spend a few hours resetting All the Passwords), and general sense of omgtimeismovingsofast.

To the rescue: Mary Ann Esposito’s Ciao Italia: Five-Ingredient Favorites. This enabled me to stick to my challenge without having to overthink it or undertake a big kitchen experiment. Her recipe for Hot and Spicy Zucchini Coins (page 105) caught my eye immediately. I ended up making this with a bunch of little baby zucchinis since Trader Joe’s was out of regular ones, so Zucchini for Ants, it was. And it came out just beautifully. I didn’t have any parsley, so I used garlic because I like garlic, not because it’s a good substitute for parsley. Maybe I should say love because when I say I used garlic, I mean 4 cloves, minced into teeny-tiny pieces so as to be in basically every bite.

Also to the rescue: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.


This book is laugh-out-loud funny. I’m not kidding—I was cracking up behind my glasses as I read this in bed. I love when I manage to get on a roll with good books. Totally takes the sting out of being done with Harvard Square. For anyone who tried to read this on public transportation: you’ve been warned.

In other news, I don’t know what is up with my subconscious. I never dream about celebrities, but the other night, I dreamt David Bowie passed away and left me a painting and hand-drawn stock certificate for $17.18. Um, thanks?

Have you had any embarrassing moments lately? What have you been dreaming about? 

A Few Things for Friday

Good morning and happy Friday. How’s your week been? Not sure about you, but I feel like it’s flown by even more quickly than usual.

Here’s another set of things for Friday:

1.) I love that my phone recognizes “quinoa” as an autocorrect option, even if it does think “wino” is a close relative. One thing at a time…

Communal Kale Salad2.) Tuesday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with one of my lady friends who moved halfway across the country a few months ago. We went to newly-opened Communal on the Upper West Side, where I enjoyed the kale salad with some chicken. We spent the next few hours walking through the park, shopping, and indulging in scalp massages at my favorite Chinese bodywork place. It was like a mini-vacation!

3.) I’ve been adding cocoa powder to my chili for years, but this recipe (to which I was introduced via Hungry, Healthy Girl) takes the idea to another level. I really want to try this!

4.) Yesterday, another friend posted a link to  this guide to healthy eating during Passover.

5.) While we’re on the subject of what to eat during religious holidays, for anyone doing Meatless/Fish-Only Friday for Lent: The folks at Serious Eats taste-tested a bunch of frozen veggie burgers so you don’t have to.

6.) Good news for my fellow early risers/freaky morning people!

7.) Speaking of wake-up time, a few this past week, I found myself staying up to read Andre Aciman’s Harvard Square—loved it! I’m legitimately sad that I devoured it in 3 days and that it’s over. It also reminded me that I really need to make a summer trip to Boston. I don’t miss living there, but I’m now nursing a major case of nostalgia.

What’s on your  mind this Friday? What was the last book you read? 

#TBT—Anatomy of a Packed Lunch

Jess 2000ishAround age 13, I realized I just needed to embrace my nerdy side instead of trying to hide behind Abercrombie and Fitch sweatpants, which were totally the Thing circa 1999. I was not fooling anyone, least of all, myself.

I don’t have many pictures of myself around that age, but in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, here’s one in which I appear to be sporting a fuzzy hoodie and grown-out bob. I really hope I am not also wearing the camo cargo skirt and chunky black sandals I was oh-so fond of in 8th grade, but it’s totally possible, as I wore them basically every other day. Actually, sometimes I wish I still had them. I should not admit this to the internet but, well, I just did.

For grades K-6, I went to a school that had no kitchen, so packed lunch was a given during my formative years (thanks, Mom!). Going to middle school and trying to navigate a cafeteria full of unappetizing foreign things like tater tots while still wanting to buy lunch like the cool kids was…interesting. My default became a sesame seed bagel with peanut butter and a carton of milk.

It never occurred to me this was weird until one day someone asked, in only the way a 13-year-old can make the simplest question sound mean, “Why do you put peanut butter on your bagel?” Read More »

What I Ate Wednesday #157: Lamb-Talk

I love all the lamb-talk this time of year. So many wonderful recipes! Given that my dad is half-Greek, lamb has always been the default “celebration protein.” It’s a holiday, let’s gather around a hunk of meat! In my parents’ house: Lamb. Anyway.

Lamb is a fantastic source of protein, iron, and B-vitamins such as riboflavin, B-6, and B-12. If you choose a leaner cut, you can get all the good stuff without overdoing it on saturated fat and cholesterol. There are many symbolic (especially religious) reasons lamb is commonly eaten in spring, not least of all that nod to rebirth—the end of winter and beginning of spring. Read More »

What to Eat Before Brunch

My kind of brunch

My kind of brunch: Baked eggs in tomato sauce at the Penrose

I have a hard time with brunch. Don’t get me wrong—I love brunch food and am often the person who suggests getting together for this midday meal (usually around 12 or 1 pm). I consider eating “fancy” eggs one of life’s simple pleasures and will take basically any opportunity to do so. It’s just the “breakfast-lunch” concept I struggle with. Perhaps if I slept late enough to make it logical to combine my first two meals of the day into one I’d feel differently, but alas, I am a freaky morning person who not uncommonly wakes up at 6:30 without an alarm. 5-a.m. wake-ups on the days I work at the hospital don’t exactly tip the balance in the other direction either.

From a nutritional perspective, brunch can be what you a might call an alcohol-induced bad decision risk, especially if you opt for the bottomless drink option. Additionally, when we get into the mindset of thinking we need to eat two meals (breakfast and lunch) in one sitting, we may take in far more than we actually need. This can also happen if we show up ravenous because we feel like we’re not supposed to eat anything before brunch.

Here are a few ways to keep it real during brunch:

  1. Think of brunch as if it were breakfast or lunch—not both.
  2. Keep the booze to one drink max.
  3. Eat something before you show up, especially if you’re anticipating a wait at the restaurant.

So what should you eat before brunch? That depends on what time you wake up relative to what time brunch is.

Let’s say brunch is at 1 pm. Here’s what you should eat if you wake up at:

  • 6 am—Chances are you’ll have plenty of time to hit, the gym, do laundry, clean the bathroom, or whatever other random human things you need to do. You should also eat a real breakfast somewhere in there. If you find your stomach growling again at 11:45, have a small piece of fruit or sliced veggies with hummus to keep the hangry-ness at bay.
  • 9 am—If you wake up hungry, have a small breakfast like a smoothie or some yogurt with ground flax and berries.
  • 12 pm—Grab an apple for emergencies and get your ass out the door.

The other day, I had plans for 1:00-ish at Doma Na Rohu in the West Village. Naturally, my inner clock had me up and at ‘em before 7. After a sweaty workout, I made a bowl of savory oats. Then when I started feeling hungry again around 11, I had some non-fat ricotta (~1/4 cup) and strawberries with a little of the rosemary fig honey I bought at the  Tea and Coffee Festival:


The snack turned out to be a good thing, as our food didn’t arrive until close to 2:00. Speaking of the food, it was awesome! If you go to Doma, order the Strammer Max, which was two fried eggs and speck atop a slice of rye with a lovely green salad on the side. It paired perfectly with a big mug of black coffee. I was a happy camper. Now I just need an excuse to go back there…

What’s your favorite brunch food? 


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