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Holiday Weekend: 5 Tips for a Healthier BBQ

Fourth of July already? That explains why I’ve had songs from the musical 1776 stuck in my head this week. For many of us in the U.S. of A, that means a long weekend. Since this is the first July Fourth weekend I’m not working in a few years, I’m planning to visit my parents and spend a little quality time with the folks and the pups on Saturday. I’m especially excited to see this little dude. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I brought him home! Where does the time go? Jess and Eli

My mom is planning a cookout with some family and friends, so we’ll be joining in the great tradition of boozing and BBQ-ing it up to celebrate our independence. That said, holiday festivities don’t have to be dietary disasters. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy yourself and still feel confident in your bathing suit the next day.

Prioritize. Scope out the offerings before diving in. If you’re dying for a bun on your burger, skip the chips and potato salad. If the ribs are calling your name (or mine), take it easy on the higher-fat stuff (cheese, mayo-based dips and dressings, fries) and sugary condiments like ketchup since most barbecue sauce packs in a lot of sugar. Sauce on the side so you can dip instead of slathering your burger or dog with the stuff is a great way to keep the sodium and sugar intake down. If you know you’re going to want dessert, say “no thanks” to that Limoncello-vodka drink—or share with a friend. burger

But don’t starve yourself all day beforehand to “save” calories. You’re more likely to overdo it if you show up hangry. Have some protein at breakfast like eggs, Greek yogurt, or toast with nut butter to stay satisfied and clear-headed.

Keep the 80/20 rule in mind. 80% healthy stuff/20% whatever the f*** you want.

Fill up on veggies. I know I’ve rolled my eyes at MyPlate before, BUT, I do support the part that recommends you fill half the plate with veggies. Have you ever tried a burger over salad? It’s really tasty. Some other options: grilled asparagus, peppers, onions. During the cocktail hour/appetizer afternoon, enjoy raw veggies dipped in salsa.

Hydrate. Drinking water is the easiest way to stay hydrated, which is especially important if you’re outside on a hot day. Watermelon, papaya, cucumber, tomato, and lettuce are some foods that pack in a lot of water, so pile your plate high. A few favorite ideas: grilled watermelon salad (like so) or a salad of watermelon, cucumber, and feta with mint.

Added bonus: Cucumber, watermelon, and papaya are great bloat-fighting foods, if you wake up feeling a little less than awesome.

What are your favorite summer BBQ foods? 

Thinking Out Loud: Music and a New Yoga Playlist

Happy Thursday. Let’s do the weekly random thing, shall we? First things first, though. What are you having for breakfast? I have savory oats on the menu. I made a double-batch of this recipe the other day—makes my life so much easier on busy mornings! All I have to do is reheat in the glass pyrex container I stored it in and then pour into a bowl and top with whatever I’m in the mood for. It (almost) keeps me full until lunch. The concept of getting from breakfast to lunch on a hospital-shift day without a little hangry episode is completely foreign to me. For better or worse, I’m one of those people who’s really hungry at breakfast and lunch but doesn’t need a huge dinner to feel satisfied.  savory oats

Anyway. Though I could talk about Fourth of July happenings, I honestly have no idea if I’m doing anything festive yet, and since I haven’t blabbed about music in a while, I thought I’d share some recent musical obsessions.

*Rilo Kiley’s “Let Me Back In.” I even had a dream about singing this in a friend’s dark kitchen recently as part of some DIY karaoke party my subconscious was having.

*The other ones are Conor Oberst’s “Time Forgot”

and “Double Life.”

My favorite recordings of both are actually from this NPR Tiny Desk Concert.

*I’ve been making my “Reign of Cancer” playlist for this year. Yes, all my Spotify playlists have a little something to do with astrology. If the shoe fits. This one is a little watery (half-weary, half-hopeful?) and weird and a little bit folksy. Or a lot bit folksy. This time of year, I’m embarrassingly in touch with my 18, 19-year-old self, who was all about the 1960’s and 70’s. Who am I kidding? Not like much has changed there. I was going to say this would be great for a yoga flow, but maybe it’s better for a therapeutic cleaning session. Please tell me I’m not not the only one who grabs a mop and a bunch of rags and Windex when things get stormy in the ol’ brain.

Do you make playlists? Any music obsessions lately? 

This post has been part of another Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.

What I Ate Wednesday #221

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. It’s that point in the week where we play a little dietary “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Since I’ve been sharing a lot of weekends recently, I thought I’d change things up this week and give a glimpse at  last Thursday, when I was working at the hospital. I’m still in training, which is basically the most humbling thing ever, but I know I’m in capable hands and am just trying to take things one day at a time as I assimilate all the new information. There’s been a lot of running around, which I’m starting to get used to. The intensity is exciting to me, weird as that sounds. I will admit that I went out and bought a few pairs of flats, though. In the first week, I nearly wore a hole through the bottoms of my go-to wedge heels. Whoops.

Another thing that’s been interesting to navigate is the hospital cafeteria. Dietitians get a $6.25 meal credit each day, and though the offerings are decent, it’s not the same as homemade. If I worked there full time, I’d probably pack my lunch a lot, but a few days a week, it’s been kind of nice not to have to bring a heavy lunch bag with me on my commute or worry about keeping anything cold.

Anyway, without further ado…

Breakfast: Savory oats topped with some leftover veggies, goat cheese, and tahini

savory oats
Lunch: Salad that came with grilled chicken, half a boiled egg, tomato, and cucumber on it. I added a packet of hummus that I’d brought in my purse. These tetra packs aren’t the best in the world, but I prefer them to most of the salad dressings available in the cafeteria.


Snacks: An apple and dry-roasted edamame at the hospital; Greek yogurt with coconut flour & cocoa powder before after-work yoga. I forgot to take pictures because it was just one of those days.

Dinner: Baked salmon over a mix of arugula, cauliflower rice, and a bunch of leftover veggies. Salad twice in one day is not ideal, but I was too tired to do any real cooking. Sometimes you have to cut yourself some slack. I also had a glass of red wine.

salmon and arugula

I had a piece of dark chocolate for dessert and then it was bedtime.

Does your work (or school) provide meals? Do ever bring condiments or snacks in your bag to dress up foods you buy outside the home?  

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

What’s in Season?

salmon avocado toast and saladI always look forward to summer produce. Granted, I have favorites for every season, but there’s something I love about the simplicity of summer food. I can get all Alice Waters-romantic over a freaking arugula salad, and I am not in the least bit ashamed. Recently, I wrote an article for YouBeauty on some of my favorite seasonal superfoods that are at their peak right now.

I am all about the leafy greens and berries, and as a Jersey girl, I love my Jersey fresh tomatoes. Summer is also prime time for zucchinis, which I love raw (zoodles, anyone?), roasted, or grated and cooked into bread or even oatmeal (sweet or savory). Check out the article for more ideas of how to make the most of this season’s abundance of fruit & veggie goodness!

What are your favorite summer fruits and vegetables? Or any season, for that matter! 

Tropical Chex Mix (Gluten-Free)

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I went to a July Fourth potluck brunch at a childhood friend’s home. Almost everybody had brought something with blueberries in it: Fresh berries, blueberry sauce, blueberry juice, blueberry filling…the only thing without blueberries were plain hard-boiled eggs!

On that note, I thought that for this Fourth of July, I’d give you a recipe without a lick of red or blue in it. This Chex mix features tropical flavors that will be a hit on any holiday snack table. You can pack up any leftovers come Monday in your bag for work or as a snack for the kids. Enjoy!Tropical Chex Mix


  • 6 cups Rice Chex
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 cup Dried Mango, cut intro strips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup Banana Chips
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flakes

Tropical Chex Ingredients


  1. Pour coconut oil over Chex. Mix well and set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Add mango, banana chips, coconut flakes, and nuts (if using) to Chex.
  3. Pour Chex with mix-ins into a large Ziploc bag and shake well to mix.
  4. Allow to cool on wax paper.

(Makes 16 ½ -cup servings)

Variations: For extra protein, add 1 cup macadamia nuts.

What are your favorite summer desserts? 

A Small Collection of Joyous Things

follow your dreamsHappy Sunday! Hope you’re having a great weekend. Here’s my weekly gratitude list of little things that made me happy.

*Today is the 3-year anniversary of my moving into my current apartment. This is officially the longest I’ve lived anywhere. That explains the wanderlust, I suppose…Unless this is like junior year of high school and wanted to switch schools or that time I almost dropped out of college to become a yoga instructor (glad I didn’t because I still can’t do a handstand), or that time I almost switched from clinical nutrition to public health or an MA in grad school at the 3-year mark.

*Summer is finally here! I know this happened a week ago, but it finally hit me yesterday that I made it through winter and survived the spring.

*Peaches are in season, finally. My favorite way to eat them is grilled with plain Greek yogurt and cinnamon.

*I loved this post on 10 habits of successful introverts.

*I tore through Joshua Gaylord’s When We Were Animals in just a few days. I totally found myself reading late into the night despite wanting to savor it—easily my favorite of the year so far.

*This Eating Bird Food post on creating a fulfilling career in health and wellness gave me hope on a day when my head was swimming with self-doubt and

Mindy Kaling’s 7 Secrets to Success. I wonder if it freaks her out how many strangers out there want to be her BFF.

*Had dinner with a friend last night at a place in my old neighborhood. Hells Kitchen still has some of the best hole-in-the-wall spots in NYC. We had drinks, an assortment of small plates, and grilled octopus and somehow only managed to spent $30 each.  I don’t miss living there (so noisy) but love having reasons to go back.

What’s made you smile this week? 


What to make this weekend: Breakfast!

overnight oats Fage 2%Happy Friday! Looking forward to the weekend? I’m working Sunday for a bit but am looking forward to a little pampering with a haircut and a massage on the agenda as well as catching up with some lady friends.

I always like to take a few minutes over the weekend to think about what meals to prep for, based on what the calendar has in store. My hours have had me eating breakfast at home s little more often, but having stuff ready to go makes it easier in the morning so I can focus instead on a workout and to-do list stuff.

I recently wrote an article for YouBeauty with some quick & easy healthy breakfast ideas. A lot of them can be made ahead of thrown together quickly. Enjoy!

Thinking Out Loud

half and half cerealHappy Thursday! Hope you’re having an awesome week. If you’ve been reading/following (someone help me out with the proper terminology!) my blog awhile, you may recall I’ve done a few collaborations with General Mills and even took a trip out to their headquarters in Minneapolis last month, where I talked some cereal shop with members of the team and several other bloggers (like Lisa—aka Snack Girl). The last day of the trip involved some top-secret super-awesome news I’m excited to finally be able to share with you guys.

In a press release Monday, the company announced, “General Mills Cereals has committed to removing artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources from the rest of its cereals in response to consumers’ changing preferences.”

Though the company has been gradually decreasing sugar content over the past few years, these ingredients were at the top of the list of what customers wanted to see removed from ingredients lists.

Trix and Reese’s Puffs will be among the first cereals to change. How? The General Mills stated that “Trix will now use ingredients like fruit and vegetable juices and spice extracts such as turmeric and annatto to achieve the fun red, yellow, orange and purple colors. Reese’s Puffs will continue to use peanut butter and cocoa and incorporate natural vanilla flavor to achieve the same great taste that adults and children have always enjoyed.”

This first wave of products is expected to hit shelves this winter. The company plans to have “more than 90 percent of the portfolio free of artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources by the end of 2016″ and to have all General Mills Cereals free from artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources by 2017.

Though this doesn’t automatically make these products Health Food (as a dietitian, I see sugary cereals as a once-in-a-while type of food), I’m still excited to see General Mills joining the growing number of companies making changes to lessen to the amount of crap consumers cram into their mouths on a daily basis.

What was your favorite cereal growing up? 

This post has been part of another Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.



What I Ate Wednesday #220

Another busy week, another What I Ate Wednesday. Hope your day is off to a good start. For this week’s link-up party, I decided to share a look at what I ate on Saturday, which I spent on writing projects and to-do list items. I also needed a little time to just decompress after a full week of training at the new job. Even though it’s a part-time position, my training schedule has been a bit more intensive so I can get in the swing of things with learning all the policies and procedures.

So Saturday was also a relaxing day, where I made time for yoga and a concert in the evening. In the past I might have felt guilty about not getting around to cleaning, but now I feel like if I do some spot-cleaning throughout the week, it’s okay because sometimes life happens, and it’s not always realistic to tackle the whole apartment in one go.

Anyway, here’s the “what I ate” part of the day…

Breakfast: PB&J oatmeal (same as last weekend) online dating article and oatmeal

Lunch: leftover polenta & veggies with a poached egg polenta and salad

Snack: yogurt with coconut flour & cocoa powder, topped with roasted figs and a sprinkling of dark chocolate chips chocolate yogurt and figs

Dinner: slow-cooker teriyaki chicken (cook on low for 5 hours with teriyaki sauce—very lazy) with broccoli & mushrooms; a glass of red wine & a square of dark chocolate chicken teriyaki

Before-Bed Snack: I had a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt left in the container, so I mixed in cocoa powder and some PB2 and added sliced banana on top banana with PB2 yogurt sauce

I slept really, really well that night.

What was the best thing you ate last weekend? 

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

Snack Girl’s Tuna Avocado Dip

Another dip recipe, I know. I’m just going to go with it, though. I think my current crazy schedule has me extra-enthusiastic about easy-t0-make everyday foods you can use in a variety of ways. Today’s recipe comes from Lisa Cain, founder. I had to pleasure of meeting Lisa while in Minneapolis last month. After watching her in action (gotta love a lady who says what’s on her mind), I couldn’t wait to read her book. I spend a lot of time in a nutritionist bubble where everything is talked about in terms of macronutrients and calorie balance and grams and percentages and whatnot. This was a fun change of pace—super-approachable and really entertaining, while still being informative. Her recipes are easy to follow, feature ingredients you can get at any grocery store, and are delicious.

tuna avocado dipI couldn’t wait to try this avocado tuna dip. I left out the horseradish the original recipe calls for because I’m not the biggest fan, but if you want that extra kick, leave it in. You can totally serve this with sliced veggies and crackers, but I found it’s also great as a sandwich filling or salad topping—perfect for a summer night when you get home too exhausted to cook.

Tuna Avocado Dip

(Serves 4)


  • 1 medium ripe avocado
  • 1 -5ounce can tuna, packed in water, drained
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish (optional for me)


  1. Mash avocado in small bowl, mix in other ingredients.
  2. Serve with sliced veggies and crackers or use as a sandwich filling or salad topping.

(Reprinted with permission from Snack Girl to the Rescue!)

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