Lunch Hack

Almost every day I eat the exact same thing for lunch.  Bagged Salad.  They are so versatile and easy! They can be thrown together in under 5 mins and can easily be made ahead of time. I sometime make up 3 or 4 salads in mason jars to get me through the week.   I don’t always have time to prep some exotic exciting and nutritious lunch so I rely heavily on these salads.


The chopped variety are hands down my favorites.  I find they tend to hold up well when prepped ahead of time then the more delicate salad greens, and they offer different veggie combinations, instead of the standard romaine lettuce.  The sweet kale and Brussels sprouts variety is my absolute favorite.  It comes with chopped (actually it mostly shredded) kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage with a poppy dressing and dried cranberry and pumpkin seed topping.  The cruciferous veggies (kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) supply a healthy amount of vitamin a, c, k and folate.  Also, when eaten raw like in this salad, they are high in sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a potent phytochemical that research has shown to have a positive effect on cancer and certain neurodegenerative diseases.

I’ve been able to find these salads at my local grocery store, Target and Costco.  All different brands, but comparable in taste and nutritional breakdown. Obviously the Costco sized one is the largest, but I’ve never had a problem finishing it before it has gone bad.

I just add in my own protein and croutons (because a salad MUST have crunch). Most nights, when making dinner, I cook an extra serving of protein (chicken breast or thighs, pork chops, steaks, etc.) and then I use the left over protein for the next day’s salad.   When assembling the salads, I tend to use a higher veggie to dressing/topping ratio then the bag recommends. Helping keep the fat and sugar content lower.  So if the bag says it contains 4 servings, for me that is usually 2-3 servings of veggies, and I just save the dressing and toppings for another salad.


Mason jar salad for meal prep using bagged salad.

For meal prepping, layer these salads in a mason jar.  (Like I talked about here) First put the dressing in, then the salad mix (if using the hardier Brussel sprout and kale mix. If using more delicate greens, layer them last), next put in your protein, then top with the cranberries and seeds. Last but not least, put in whatever you need for crunch (I always add in 10 croutons).  Lunch is made! In under 5 minutes and if you meal prepped, it’s done for the week.




Holiday Survival

Here in the US, Thanksgiving is 3 days away and I have been hearing from a lot of people how nervous they are about this holiday season.  So, I thought I’d write up a quick post, with some tips on surviving the holiday season.



  • If you do over indulge.  It is ok. Seriously, it’s ok!  Tomorrow is a new day. If you do gain a couple pounds, so what.  It’s not permanent.  Is it optimal? No, but it is not a reason to let it completely derail your overall progress.  So, stop fixating on your mistakes.
  • Holidays are about enjoying time with the ones we love. You do not have to be the person who brings their own food to Grandma’s dinner.  You can do the best with what is offered.  Load up the majority of your plate with meat and vegetables. Struggling with portion sizes for starchy carbs?  Use your hands.  1 cupped hand is 1 serving size for most women, and 2 cupped hands is a serving size for most men.
  • Eat a little something before you go to your holiday feast.  Showing up starving is a recipe of disaster.  It is incredibly difficult to make healthy choices and determine healthy portion sizes when we are very hungry.
  • Pick your poison. If you plan to have alcohol, be responsible.  Wine and clear liquor are your best choices.  (Watch those mixers for the liquor, they can add up! Water, club soda, lime juice and diet sodas are the best choices.) As you know alcohol can impair judgments, but that also means it makes it harder to make good decisions around food.  People are more likely to binge eat when they have been drinking.
  • Pumpkin pie your thing? Or maybe is mashed taters? Or stuffing?  Cool! Make sure you have some.  Seriously.  Do not deprive yourself, that can lead to binges later on. So, have a small slice of pie or put some gravy on those mashed taters.  And truly enjoy them.
  • Easy come easy go. If you do happen to gain weight, its ok!  Don’t freak. And absolutely do not let that be the reason you quit your healthy lifestyle.  That is where the real damage happens.
  • Move your body.  If you can get to the gym, great.  If not, go for walks. Wrestle with your nephews.  Just move your body.  There also are a lot of bodyweight based exercises out there that you can do in your own home with minimal equipment.  Just remember exercise IS NOT a punishment for what you ate.  So do not think, I have to run X miles to burn off this pie. Not only does not work this way, it is a horribly unhealthy relationship to have with food and exercise.
  • Try eating a little something before you go to your holiday feast.  Showing up starving is a recipe of disaster.  It is incredibly difficult to make healthy choices and determine healthy portion sizes when we are very hungry.  Just make sure it has some protein in it.
  • Try to stop eating before you are full. I know, it’s incredibly difficult on a holiday that is centered around stuffing ourselves.  But here is the thing, it takes at least 20 minutes for the signals in our guts to tell our brains that we are full and need to stop. So, technically you were full 20 minutes before you actually felt full!  In order to do that, eat slowly, taste every bite.  Put the fork down between bites.  If you stop eating and 20 minutes go by and you still feel hungry, then have some seconds or hit up the desserts.

If you do over indulge.  It is ok.  Tomorrow is a new day.  And remember food isn’t the bad guy. Eat the turkey. Have some pie.  Most importantly, enjoy the time with your loved ones.

If you are still feeling nervous about the holidays, shoot me an email at and we can work through this together.  For a limited time, I am offering an email only support for surviving the holidays.  From now till January 2nd, you can have daily email access to me (Monday through Friday).  I will answer any nutrition or mindset related questions and provide accountability.  My highest tier nutrition coaching can run over $200 a month, but this Holiday Survival will be only $25.


Workout Nutrition

What to eat before, during and after a workout gets a lot of hype. It can also be very confusing. The great thing is, our bodies are a heck of a lot smarter then we give them credit for. If you are an average healthy individual, who is just trying to look and feel better, then a balanced meal 2 hours before and within 2 hours after is all you need. Yup that is it. It’s that simple.  A meal consisting of a lean protein, healthy carbohydrate and a small amount healthy fat is all you need.


This cherry-coconut smoothie topped with a little toasted coconut works well for a post or pre work out meal when strapped for time.

Now, if you are an athlete (either strength or endurance based), a very serious exerciser, a bodybuilder or you have a very specific physique goal then things will need to be a little more individualized. You will need a pre workout meal, a post workout meal and possibly a intra workout drink. The amount of carbs and protein in each would vary depending on your goals and body type, but generally you will need at least 20-30 grams of protein and 20-60 grams of carbs before and after.

What about the anabolic window all the broz at the gym talk about?  Don’t I have to slam a protein drink as soon as I finish my last exercise?! Recent research has shown that our bodies are smarter than that and the “window” is actually pretty big.  Again as long as we get protein and carbs in within 2 hours, we are good.  For an average person there is no reason to be slamming the protein shake as you walk out of the gym. A regular meal by the time you get home will suffice. Chicken and rice is one of my favorite post workout meals. (Or sushi, or fajitas. Sometimes tacos.)

Now, if you don’t have time to cook, or you don’t like eating a full meal after a workout out, a protein drink is perfect. Whey protein (from milk) tends to be the gold standard when it comes to powdered protein. There is also casein (another milk based protein), egg, and multiple different plant based ones (soy, pea, rice). There are even many different blends of all the different types. If you find one upsets your stomach, try a different one. It is not uncommon for some to be sensitive to certain types of powdered protein, but just because one bothers you doesn’t mean they all will.  When buying a protein powder make sure you keep an eye on the label, some brands have a lot of carbs or fat.  The additional carbs are not necessarily a problem; you just need to be aware so you know not to add in any more carbs.  I personally prefer low carb powders, that way I can add in my own carbs. I feel it gives me more flexibility.

What about fasting? Fasted cardio? Fasted strength training?

Now this one is VERY personal.  First, it comes down to do YOU like working out fasted? Most don’t, but if it works for you, then rock on with it.  I personally don’t recommend it, except as a last ditch measure used to get rid of those stubborn last pounds before an event.  Most people actually perform better in the gym when they are properly fueled before a workout, in turn they get a better workout.  This is, however, a very individualized thing.  There are a lot of things that should be addressed before you need to add in fasted workouts.  For example, how is your nutrition intake the rest of the day? How is your stress? What is your sleep like?  Only after all of those have been addressed should you even think about adding in fasted workouts.

The pre-workout meal is very similar to the post.  Optimally, 2-3 hours before your workout you should consume a regular balanced meal of carbs, proteins and a small amount of fat.  Now, what if you can’t eat that far in advance of your workout? Maybe you work out early in the AM or directly after work?  That’s fine.  If you have to eat less then 2 hours before your planned workout session, just reach for fast digesting foods.  By that I mean, keep the fat and the fiber content low.  The goal here is for the food to be easily digested and used for fuel instead of just sloshing around in your belly when you are working out. Smoothies work really well in this situation, or any lean meat and starchy carb.  Potatoes (sweet or white), rice, bread (if you eat it), rice cakes, ripe bananas are all examples of some quicker digesting carbohydrate choices.

Workout nutrition is not a one size fits all kind of thing.  It really depends on your goal and your nutritional intake the rest of the day. However, if your goal is to increase strength, enhance performance (this includes endurance sports), gain muscle mass (FYI if you want 6 pack abs or kick ass arms, then what you really want is more muscle) then work out nutrition is for you, but it doesn’t mean you have to drink a powdered protein supplement in the locker room.  For most, a regular balanced meals will suffice.  Just remember you have to feed the muscle to grow the muscle.




Aragon AA, S. B. (2013, Jan). Nutrient timing revisited:is there a post-excercise anabolic window? J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 10(1), 5.

Aragon AA, S. B. (2013, Dec 3). The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr., 10(1), 53.



Make Ahead Mason Jar Lunches

Healthy lunches are hard when you are busy or not at home during the day.  It’s just too easy to run to the café or a nearby restaurant to grab something quick. So this week I have been I I would experimenting with some healthy lunches that you can make ahead of time.


Mason Jar Cobb Salad

Food prep in mason jars has been all the rage lately.  My breakfast overnight oats in mason jars is one of my most popular recipes.  So I thought I would test some of these mason jar salads out and see if they held up to the hype.  Overall I was fairly impressed.   You can make a bunch on one day, vary the ingredients so you don’t get bored and they keep for a couple days in the fridge.

They last about 3-5 days in the fridge (to be honest, I feel 5 days is kind of stretching it. I would stick closer to 3.) The trick in making them is how you layer them. The order of ingredients is very important to keep everything delicious and not soggy.

Below are the basic instructions to making your own jars. By following these basic instructions, you can easily come up with your own versions. These are incredibly customizable and just like the overnight oats you can easily adjust for your own tastes.  I have also included a couple recipes I tested out below, a Cobb salad and a basic salad with quinoa.  (I am also testing out a zucchini noodle and quinoa salad.  If it is a success look for that recipe in a few days!)

You need wide mouth quart size mason jars. The pint size it just too small. The regular mouth could work, but it is just easier and less messy with the wide mouth.

  1. Dressing goes on the bottom. This helps keep the more delicate or absorbable ingredients from getting soggy.  Generally, I use 1-2 tablespoons.  But if you are dressing fanatic you can add more. Can adjust to your personal taste preferences.
  2. Layer the ingredients. After the dressing add the heaviest NON ABSORBANT ingredients, like carrots or cucumbers. Next add in any grains, beans or pasta. Then add in any cheese or protein. Next add in any soft veggies or fruit, like cut strawberries or avocado (if you are making these more than 24 hrs. ahead of time I would wait and add these the day of.) On top of these place any nuts, seeds or light grains (like quinoa! I layered the quinoa above the dressing in my recipe below and it ended up soaking up most of the dressing, so make sure you layer it up higher.) Last but not least, add the salad greens. When adding your greens, gently push everything down.  You want it fairly compacted to keep the layers mixing.
  3. Add perishables the day off. Things like avocado or fruit (or maybe hard boiled eggs) need to be added the day of (or at most the day before) I found in my experiments that anything more than 24 hrs. the avocado started to brown and the fruit started to break down.
  4. When it is time to eat: shake, shake, shake, shake it off. (sorry couldn’t help myself there). But seriously you need to really shake it up good.  Then pour onto a large plate or bowl and enjoy.  Technically you could eat it straight from the jar, but every time I did that I ended up making a huge mess. That might be my problem though.


After constructing the salads, tightly cap and store in the fridge.  When transporting them, try to keep them as up right as possible.  That will keep the dressing from mixing with the other ingredients.


Mason Jar Cobb Salad

Makes 2 quart jars

  • 2 Tb your favorite Ranch (I used Bolthouse)
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup grated carrots
  • ¼ cup sliced cucumber
  • 2 ounces avocado, diced
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • 4 ounces cooked or grilled chicken breast, diced
  • 1/2 ounce blue cheese
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce

Layer everything in the mason jar in the order listed above.  Pack it tightly and secure lid.  Will last 24 hrs. as is, if making ahead of time add the avocado and egg in no more than 24 hrs. in advance.  When it’s time to eat, shake it up really well and pour on to large plate.


calories: 357 fat:18 carbs:18 Protein: 30


Quinoa salad Jar

  • 1 Tb Vinaigrette*
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup garbanzo beans
  • 1.5 oz. grilled chicken breast
  • ¼ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
  • 1 oz. avocado
  • 2 cups salad greens

Layer everything in the mason jar in the order listed above.  Pack it tightly and secure lid.  Will last 24 hrs. as is, if making ahead of time add the avocado and egg in no more than 24 hrs. in advance.  When it’s time to eat, shake it up really well and pour on to large plate.

(In the pictures, you’ll notice I layered the quinoa right above the dressing.  I don’t recommend doing this.  The quinoa absorbed a lot of the dressing and got soggy.  By layering it up higher, it will stay dry and fluffy) *I used a basic homemade vinaigrette.


Calories: 380 Fat: 11 carbs:39 Protein: 32



Raising Healthy Eaters

Lately, I have been having a lot of people tell me that their children are the reason that they cannot eat healthy.  “I can’t eat that because my child won’t eat it” or “My children have to have the goldfish. And I just can’t control myself when those snacks are in the house”.  Part of our jobs as parents is to help our children become healthy eaters. Having two picky eaters myself, I know how unbelievably frustrating it can be to get them to eat healthy.  Now, while we cannot make our children be healthy eaters, but we can help them learn to make healthy decisions. Instead of letting our children keep the whole family from eating healthy, let’s make this a family affair and work on eating healthy together. Below are some tips for encouraging your kids to make better food choices and in turn eat better yourself.


No Clean Plate Club

First off, absolutely DO NOT make your children finish their plate. I know how tempting it is to tell them they need to eat all their food, especially when you just spent the last hour making it.    When we force a child to finish their plate, however, they do not learn proper self-restraint around food. Researchers found preschoolers, whose parents forced them to clean their plates, did not learn self-control of food amounts.  One study showed that children who had been made to clean their plate at home, would request twice the amount of food when away from home.[1]  Trying to use force to get kids to do things sets us up for a power struggle. The last thing you want is to be part of a bartering match at the dinner table.  Anyone who has attempted to barter with a child knows it’s hard to win.  Instead, ask them to check in with themselves while reminding them once this meal is over, there will not be food again till the next snack or meal time.  For a younger child you might ask “Check in with your tummy.  Is it full? Remember once breakfast is over, we won’t have food again till we get home from the library.” They may get it wrong sometimes and not eat enough, but that is ok. That is how they will learn their own internal fullness cues.

No Bribes.

Do not use food bribes to get your child to eat other food.  None of the “I’ll give you dessert/ fruit if you eat all your whatever it is that you clearly don’t want to eat.” Instead just encourage them to taste the offending food.  Explain they do not have to eat it; they just have to taste it.  For young children you can ask them to lick or kiss the broccoli (or whatever the offending object might be).  Generally, the sillier you make it, they more likely they will give it a go. The more exposure they get to different foods (even ones they do not like now) the more likely they are to eat them later on.

Things do taste different to them.

Ever wondered why things you hated as a kid you like now?  Things really do taste different to children.  Children can have up to two times more taste buds then adults. This makes food taste stronger to them. Keep this in mind when you are flabbergasted that they don’t like your delicious dinner.  So be respectful, encourage them to taste it and leave it at that. Just because they do not like something now, doesn’t mean they will always dislike it. Keep offering the offending foods and one day you may be surprised.

Offer something they do like.

When you plan dinner, make sure it has at least 1 thing that everyone likes.  Include one food option that you know each child will eat. That might mean there is chicken for Betty, sweet potatoes for Sam, and peas for George, or whatever the dynamic in your house is. In our house this means there is always sweet potato or white potato, plain meat, a bland veggie and plenty of ketchup. Worst case scenario, there is at least one thing for each of them and everyone will eat something even if it isn’t the balanced perfect meal you envisioned. Remember though, keep offering different foods.  If they hate broccoli now, do not quit offering broccoli.  A lot of children do not like to try new or unfamiliar foods.  (Which is good thing, anthropomorphically it kept us surviving as a species. Imagine if our early ancestors’ children ate anything and everything they came across? Poisonous berries or mushrooms? Uncooked meat?) Kid’s preferences can change.  Just because they don’t like something today doesn’t mean they will continue to dislike it down the road. My kids commonly go through an “only meat phase”, or the ever painful “it has to be orange phase”, but these phases pass and they move on (sometimes to an even more annoying phase).  Just no fuss when they do turn up their nose at something, which is difficult when you just spent all afternoon making what was once their favorite food.

The Snack time hold out.

Some kids will learn that they are given more exciting foods at snack time and will hold out for them.  Ever notice your kid is never hungry at mealtimes but when snack time come around they can pack it away? The easiest fix for this? Get rid of the snacks. This is especially key if your child’s snacks are a trigger food for you.  (A trigger food is a food that you have a hard time controlling yourself around.) For the snack time, you can try offering what was left over from the prior meal. When they don’t finish a meal wrap it up and put it aside.  When “snack time” rolls around, offer them the previous meal.  Only do this, however, if you know the meal offered was something they like. You don’t want to try and trick your kids into eating foods they don’t like.

Kids will not starve themselves.

Studies show anywhere for 10 to 50% of parents believe their child is a picky eater, however majority of those children continue to grow and mature at a normal rate.[2] If, however you are worried there are red flags, go meet with your pediatrician express your concerns and have them show you your child’s growth curve.  Most likely your Dr. will reassure you that your child is still growing ok.

Keep them involved


A brave shopping trip with my youngest and the “cart of doom”.

Let the kids help pick out the meals.  Ask them if they have any requests for meals. Then let them help make the meal.  They can assist you in finding the ingredients at the grocery store. I know, shopping with kids is a nightmare, so you might as well give them a job to do and keep them occupied. If you are feeling really patient, let they use those miniature kid carts (or as I call them the “the miniature carts of doom”) Also, let them assist in preparing the meal.  Depending on the age they can help up put together a salad, stir, add ingredients to a pan or bowl, or even start chopping food. Not only will they enjoy spending time with you, but they also are more likely to try the foods if they had a hand at helping to make them. Just stock up on a lot of paper towels and have the broom nearby.


My kids helping make a salad for dinner.  They didn’t eat it much of it, but they tasted it.

Don’t let them see you sweat.

While they can’t really smell fear (or can they? Mine seem like they pick up on my apprehension quickly) they are watching us like a hawk. Children learn from observing us. They learn how much to eat, what to eat, if they should try new foods, and how fast they should eat.  Make sure you are setting the best example you can.

Food is not love.

Feeding our children is nurturing act, and the line between food and love can get blurred.  Sometimes, parents give children extra food and treats in order to obtain affection.  You may also see this when extended relatives, like Grandparents, visit. This can lead to a very unhealthy relationship with food. Both the child and the parent can become dependent on this relationship of giving extra food and treats to get more affection. Love is love. Food is not. Use empathy and affection to show love, not food and treats.

Healthy eating is a lifestyle not a diet. By involving the whole family everyone is more likely to succeed in the long run. Not only will you raise healthy eaters but you will maintain your goal of living a healthier lifestyle.  Plus, you are setting up your child with important food skills that will last them a lifetime. By involving everyone in the planning and prep, by not pushing or bribing, by respecting taste differences and offering different foods you are setting your children up with a lifetime of healthy habits.  When the whole family is on a mission together everyone is more likely to succeed.  It won’t always be easy, but really what about parenting is easy?


[1] Brian Wansink, P., Collin Payne, P., & Carolina Werle, P. (2008). Consequences of Belonging to the “Clean Plate Club”. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med., 162(10):, 994-995.

Brown CL, P. M. (2016, Nov – Dec;). Maternal Concern for Child Undereating. Acad Pediatr., 777-782.

Christina Ong, K. Y. (2014, April). Managing the ‘picky eater’ dilemma. Singapore Med J.(55(4)), 184–190.

Robert A. Pretlow, R. J. (Br J Nutr., September). Similarities between obesity in pets and children: the addiction model. Br J Nutr., 116(5): , 944–949.

[2] Wright CM, P. K. (2007, october). How do toddler eating problems relate to their eating behavior, food preferences, and growth? 120(4, 1069-75.