How to Eat Healthy When Traveling & On The Go

Maintaining a healthy routine while traveling and on-the-go can be a challenge. This past month I was activated in the Air National Guard to provide assistance in the fight against COVID-19. During this one month period I lived out of a hotel room, which hosted only a mini fridge and microwave. While many of the other military men and women I was working with lived off fast food and donations of chips, pop, and canned tuna, I was fortunate to be able to maintain an eating lifestyle similar to what I live at home. This is how I did it.

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Why to Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

It is pretty clear that sugar is not healthy. Many swap sugar with artificial sweeteners but this is not likely the answer either. While I do try to limit my added sugar intake, I avoid artificial sweeteners altogether.

What are artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners, or non-nutritive sweeteners, are synthetic products used to sweeten food in place of sugar or other nutritive sweeteners. They have gained tremendous popularity due to their low- or zero-calorie content.

The FDA has approved 5 artificial sweeteners: acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharine, and Sucralose. They are found in processed and packaged foods, predominantly items advertised as “diet”, “low sugar” or “no added sugar”. This includes foods such as diet pop, desserts, protein powders, and breakfast bars). They are promoted as a safe method to assist with weight loss and control blood sugar levels. However, over the years many studies have demonstrated otherwise.

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Ways to Upgrade Your Breakfast & 6 Healthy Recipes

Walking through the breakfast isle in the store, I can’t help but think, this is what America is serving our youth…breakfast cereals laden with sugar, artificial flavors and colors, and highly processed white flour with virtually no nutritional value aside from the vitamins and minerals added back in after the fact. Unfortunately even those are minimally beneficial as fortified vitamins and minerals are rarely added in a form our body can easily digest.

Granola bars, toaster waffles, brown sugar and cinnamon instant oatmeal — these are all in the same category. They are highly processed “franken-foods” (thanks Dr. Mark Hyman) with little to no fiber, healthy fats, or protein. When protein, fat and fiber is removed, foods become less filling, resulting in a higher than desirable intake. This process also increases the speed of digestion, resulting in higher blood glucose levels.

Growing up I would live off these foods for breakfast (though add toaster strudel into the mix). Now, with the obesity rates rising and over 52% of the U.S. adult population having either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, I am here to provide you some better options!

I will start off with some things to keep in mind.

Choose Protein

Starting your day off with a healthy source of protein will help balance your blood sugar right off the bat and keep you full though the morning. Eggs are an obvious and nutrient dense choice; if able, choose organic pastured eggs for the highest quality. Full-fat cottage cheese and plain yogurt are also great options if you tolerate dairy.

Add Healthy Fats

Like protein, fats are very filling so will help keep you full until lunch. Also, fat will not impact your blood sugar at all, so replacing a portion of your carbohydrates with healthy fats will greatly lower the overall impact on your blood sugar. Grass-fed butter, olive oil, avocados and nuts are some of my favorite options.

Ditch the Sugar

Has anyone noticed how after you eat a big bowl of cereal you are starving an hour later? That is likely either 1.) Your body telling you you need actual nutrition because your Cocoa Puffs aren’t cutting it OR 2.) Your body telling you to eat something because your blood sugar is tanking. Replacing sugar with whole grains will help prevent both of these issues. Whole grains are minimally process and higher in fiber and nutritional value. Steel cut or rolled oats are a great example of this. Quinoa is a wonderful high protein option to make into a breakfast bowl. You can even roast some sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon as a healthier alternative to fried hash browns.

Recipes!

Now on to the exciting part…recipes! Here are some of my favorites:

I call this “veggies with fried egg”

This is so simple and probably what I eat most often. I also like to do this when I have left over vegetables that I need to use up before they go bad because you can literally put anything in there. Some of my favorite vegetables to eat with eggs are: spinach, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, onions, kale, and asparagus. I also like to buy that huge box of organic mixed greens from Aldi — I’ll put an over easy egg on top with 1/4 to 1/2 avocado, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and Everything But The Bagel seasoning. Is your mouth watering yet?

2 ingredient banana pancakes

This is another favorite of mine. Just like typical pancakes, they are very diverse. All you need for the base is 2 eggs and 1 ripe banana (I make this when our bananas are about to go bad)! From there, you can add anything from cinnamon to cacao, berries to coconut flakes. I also love to top them with a scoop of peanut butter. Check out my 2 Ingredient Banana Pancakes blog post for the full recipe!

overnight oats

This is a great grab-and-go option for busy mornings. Prep 2-3 servings Sunday evening to save you time during the week. This is also extremely versatile. Just start with this simple base: 1/2 cup dairy-free milk + 1/2 cup rolled oats + 3/4 Tbs chia seeds. Mix in your jar of choice — wide mouth mason jars work great for this.

From there you can go wild! Some personal favorites are frozen berries, cocoa and cinnamon. Or, if you prefer, just keep it simple. Let the mixture sit overnight and vua-la! Breakfast! For a protein boost, add a scoop of peanut butter or top some nuts in the morning. It can be served cold or you can feel free to heat it up to enjoy warm.

chia seed pudding

For all you low carb lovers, this is a tasty and filling option that also works best when prepared the night before. Chia seeds are a good source of essential fatty acids, fiber, and protein as well!

ingredients
  • 2 cups nut milk
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
instructions
  1. Add milk, chia seeds, vanilla extract and maple syrup (if using) to a jar. Mix well.
  2. Let sit for 15 minutes and stir again to prevent seeds from settling at the bottom.
  3. Store in refrigerator for at least an hour.
  4. Before serving, stir yet again and then top with berries!

Note: Makes 2 servings

zucchini and tomato fritata

This is a kid friendly, figure-food option to help sneak in some extra veggies! Check out the recipe here!

JJ Virgin Breakfast smoothie

I absolutely love this smoothie! I first found it in JJ Virgin’s book The Virgin Diet. If I make a smoothie in the morning, this is what I make because it is filling, get’s things moving (if you know what I mean), and is quick to throw together. Plus it has a full cup of dark leafy greens to get those veggies in first thing. Greens help with detoxification and are loaded with folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K. Spinach and kale are great options because you will barely notice the taste! Often times individuals will load smoothies with multiple servings of fruit which can cause blood sugar spikes. Berries are low in sugar and loaded with antioxidants.

ingredients
  • 1-2 scoops protein powder**
  • 1-2 Tbs fiber (fiber blend, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds)
  • 1/2-1 cup organic* frozen berries
  • 1 cup liquid (unsweetened almond or coconut milk)
  • 1/2-1 cup organic* leafy greens
instructions
  1. Add liquid of your choice, followed by choice of fiber, berries, and protein powder.
  2. Add choice of leafy greens.
  3. Blend.
  4. Top with some cinnamon and serve!

*Choosing organic leafy greens and berries when able is important because both foods are listed on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of most highly sprayed items.

**Many protein powders are low quality and sneak in unhealthy ingredients. Avoid types with fructose and other sugars, maltodextrin (corn), artificial sweeteners and artificial flavoring. Optimal vegan sources are pea, chia, brown rice or chlorella. Sunwarrior is a high-quality brand that tastes great. If you opt for a paleo option, the protein should be organic and 100% grass-fed. Both Vital Proteins and Ancient Nutrition make excellent protein and collagen powders.

Do you struggle with eating a healthy breakfast? If so, what can you improve? If you have any healthy breakfast go-to’s, tell me about them below!

5 Shocking Facts About Coffee

For many, coffee is the elixir of life every morning, and rightfully so! It’s caffeine kick makes it a desirable beverage in the American fast-paced lifestyle, and it has been long promoted for its nutritional value (when not doused in sugar). In fact, coffee is actually the highest source of antioxidants in the Standard American Diet.

A Little About Coffee

Coffee beans are the seeds of a fruit called a coffee cherry. The fruit itself is also extremely high in nutritional value, higher than blueberries in fact. With this in mind, food manufacturers have started to find ways to incorporate it into the food system. For those of you that have heard of Bai Antioxidant Beverages, this red pulp is the main ingredient!

However, like any other food, quality and processing methods are a huge determinate of the actual nutritional value. The popularity of coffee has resulted in poor production practices which can compromise health attributes of coffee at nearly every step of the coffee making process.

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Double Chocolate Muffins

Friends. I discovered something amazing! So, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and my self-compromise is to only eat “sweets” that are somewhat healthy and homemade. I have a particular preference for baked goods like brownies, cupcakes and banana bread, and I have a few select blogs (I’ll share these at the bottom) that are my go-to’s for finding healthy alternatives for these treats. The other day I was browsing through one of said blogs, and I stumbled upon this awesome recipe!

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My Top Tips and Supplements to Boost Your Immunity Naturally

With cold and flu season still upon us and COVID-19 starting to really fire up, maintaining a top notch immune system is important for protecting not only ourselves, but our family and friends as well. While maintaining good hygiene (i.e. hand washing) is very important, developing and sustaining healthy lifestyle practices is vital for optimizing your immune system so it is strong when times such as this should occur. Below are some of the top ways I have managed to stay healthy and avoid both the cold and flu for TWO years straight (knock on wood)!

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Meal Planning 101 for Diabetics

A new diagnosis of diabetes can be scary. Individuals often leave their doctors office knowing little to nothing about the disease, feeling completely overwhelmed, and provided only a few words along the lines of “your blood sugar is abnormally high so now you need to check it on a regular basis”. You may be experiencing crazy symptoms like excessive thirst and hunger, fatigue, frequent urination, and maybe even blurry vision. You might be told you need to improve your diet, exercise, and lose weight, but are not explained even the slightest how.

Who can relate to this? Over the years I have dealt with numerous patients who have stepped into my office knowing nothing about their disease or how to control it. Well today I am going to help solve that issue and discuss diabetes meal prep basics.

“What the heck can I eat?”

Whether you’re a new diabetic or have had diabetes for 30 years, it is important to understand how foods will affect your body and impact your blood sugar. Let me introduce you to the diabetes plate method. This is a way of helping you to control your portions of starchy, carbohydrate containing foods. It also will help you be more mindful of what you are putting on your plate.

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3 Things You Need to Know About Buying Oil

Fats and oils are a huge part of a healthy diet and should be included at every meal. Optimizing your choice of oils is essential in preserving cognitive function, reducing inflammation, and creating hormones. Unfortunately, understanding what types of fats to eat and avoid has been a huge source of confusion, and as more options become available, I feel the confusion has only increased. This article will serve as your shopping guide on what to use and when to use them.

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Top 10 Heart Healthy Foods

Did you know February is Heart Health Month, hosted by the American Heart Association?! Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. It is an “umbrella” term that includes a number of conditions such as coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), heart valve disease, heart attack, and heart failure.

Conditions such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol often lead to heart disease so dealing with (or avoiding!) these risk factors early on is crucial. Aside for a few uncontrollable factors such as age, race, and genetics, the majority of causes are modifiable and, as expected, include poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity. Other factors such as stress and smoking may also contribute.

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Time to Up Your Fiber Intake: 4 Benefits You Never Realized

Although fiber is most well-known for keeping your digestive system rolling smooth, the benefits don’t stop there! Additional benefits include:

  • Slows stomach emptying: This suppresses a hormone called ghrelin — a hormones that triggers hunger — resulting in you maintaining a sense of fullness for longer
  • Balances blood sugar: Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate, meaning it slows down the breakdown of foods into glucose. Balanced blood sugar not only means fewer high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) but also fewer lows (hypoglycmeia)
  • Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol: Since fiber is not broken down in the intestine, a specific type of fiber, called soluble fiber (well get more into this) can bind to LDL cholesterol and remove it from the body. In addition, this study found that an intake of 30 grams or more per day may be helpful in increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Promotes healthy gut microbiome: Did you know that fiber is the food for our gut microbiome?! Without not only enough fiber, but a variety of different fiberous foods, our microbes will not have sufficient nutrients to thrive, resulting in “a loss of species reliant on these substrates”. This disruption could lead to a host of diseases. In fact, long-term studies consistently show an inverse relationship between dietary fiber intake and all-cause mortality!
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