Overnight Chia Seed Pudding, plus 4 flavor variations

My overnight oats happen to be one of my most popular recipes.  However, we don’t always need that high amount of carbs in the morning. I set out to create something similar with a lower carb content.  I realized there are lots of savory lower carb breakfast dishes out there, but not as many sweet ones.

Vanilla Almond Blueberry Overnight Chia seed pudding with a dollop of cashew cream

Now do not get me wrong, carbs are not bad. I am not low carb, anti carb or anything of the like.  (I actually love carbs, but that is another article for another time) Sometimes, however, we do need some lower carb choices. (FYI these are not LOW CARB recipes, just LOWER carb)

Here is an example of a handful of times when I might encourage lower carb meals:

  • During carb cycling. Carb cycling is when someone consumes a higher amount of carbs 2-3 days a week and a lower amount of carbs on the remaining days. (I personally carb cycle, and need a lower carb option for my low carb days.)
  • When stacking carbs around workouts: For many people consuming their vast amount of carbs either before or after their workouts is helpful from both a performance and aesthetic perspective.
  • Ladies in menopause/perimenopause.  Sorry ladies, but as we enter menopause we can no longer tolerate the same amount of carbohydrates due to dropping estrogen and its effects on insulin.
  • Carb back loading, that is when someone saves the majority of their carbs for later in the day.The belief by consuming in the evening hours you are more likely to store the carbohydrates as glycogen instead of fat. (This premise also requires evening workouts)
  • When people who have a lower threshold for carbs. We all have our own individual amount of carbs that we do best with.  (The trick is figuring out your own threshold. You really need to find the highest amount you can eat, without gaining fat mass)

The basis for these recipes is chia seeds. If you are not familiar with chia seeds, do you remember chia pets? Yep those hair like sprouts were growing from chia seeds.  When chia seeds are mixed with a liquid they form a gel like substance, which is what gives these puddings their pudding like consistency.  Chia seeds are very high in fiber, contain a decent amount of calcium and magnesium and provide some omega-3 ALA.  Due to their very high fiber content, they can help to keep you feeling full and stratified for a long period time, which is part of what makes them great for breakfast.


Chocolate Peanut butter Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

Since I needed different options for different people I came up with these sweet chia seed puddings.  These bad boys work much like my overnight oats. Put everything in a small mason jar, stir really good, and let it sit overnight (up to 5 days).  Save the toppings (especially the fruit) to throw on top right before you eat them.  I experimented with some cashew cream for the first time and it goes really (REALLY) well with some of the flavors, especially the vanilla-almond-blueberry.


Blackberry Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

I made these puddings with Fairlife* milk to help keep the protein content up, but they still need a little more protein with them if they are to be consumed with breakfast.  You can add a side of egg whites, lean breakfast sausage, Canadian bacon, ½ a protein shake or whatever your little heart desires (just keep it lean).

*Fairlife milk is un ultra-filtered dairy milk.  It contains 6 grams carbs 13 grams protein, instead of the 12 grams carbs and 8 grams protein found in standard skim dairy milk.  You can replace this with any milk of your choice, just note it will change the macros.  I highly recommend choosing something high in protein, like a ½ scoop protein powder

It almost feels wrong eating these for breakfast, since they are so decadent. If you are not a sweets for breakfast kind of person these also make a great mid-day snack or before bed sweet (yes you can eat before bed, and many actually would benefit from eating before bed).

Go ahead and make these delicious treats and let me know what you think.


Chocolate-Matcha Raspberry Overnight Chia seed Pudding

Chocolate-Matcha Raspberry

2 Tb Chia seeds

½ cup nonfat Fairlife milk

1 tsp maple syrup

1 Tb cacao or unsweetened dark cocoa powder

¼ tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp matcha



Place all ingredients, except for the toppers, in a mason jar and stir very well.  Making sure to incorporate all the chia seeds.  Place top on it, and store in fridge overnight and up to 5 days.  When planning to eat, give a good stir and add any desired toppers.

1 serving contains: 231 calories, 10 g fat, 26 g carbs, and 12 g protein



Blackberry Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

2 Tb Chia seeds

½ cup nonfat Fairlife milk

1 tsp honey

¼ tsp vanilla extract


1 Tb no sugar blackberry jam (like Simply Fruits)


Place all ingredients, except for the toppers, in a mason jar and stir very well.  Making sure to incorporate all the chia seeds.  Place top on it, and store in fridge overnight and up to 5 days.  When planning to eat, give a good stir and add any desired toppers.

1 serving contains 240 calories, 8 g fat, 30 g carbs, 11 g protein


Vanilla Almond Blueberry Overnight Chia seed pudding with a dollop of cashew cream

2 Tb Chia seeds

½ cup nonfat Fairlife milk

1 tsp maple syrup

¼ tsp vanilla extract


chopped almonds

dollop of cashew cream (see recipe below)


Place all ingredients, except for the toppers, in a mason jar and stir very well.  Making sure to incorporate all the chia seeds.  Place top on it, and store in fridge overnight and up to 5 days.  When planning to eat, give a good stir and add any desired toppers.

1 serving contains 286 calories, 15 g fat 25 g carb and 14 g protein

Chocolate Peanut Butter


Chocolate Peanut butter Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

2 Tb Chia seeds

½ cup nonfat Fairlife milk

1 tsp maple syrup

1 Tb cacao or unsweetened dark cocoa powder

¼ tsp vanilla extract


2 tb PB2 (or another defatted powdered peanut protein) mixed with 1 tb water

cacao nibs

Place all ingredients, except for the toppers, in a mason jar and stir very well.  Making sure to incorporate all the chia seeds.  Place top on it, and store in fridge overnight and up to 5 days.  When planning to eat, give a good stir and add any desired toppers.

1 serving contains 264 calories, 24 g of carbs, 12 g fat, and 16 g protein

Cashew cream

1 cup raw unsalted cashews

½ cup water

1 tb maple syrup (or honey)


Cover cashews in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse.  Place in blender with remaining ingredients and blend till smooth and creamy.  Store in fridge for up to 1 week.

1 serving is 1 Tablespoon and contains 53 calories, 4 g fat, 4 g carbs and 2 g protein


How to Manage Cravings

This is part one of a two part article on cravings and how to handle them.

Its important you know that you are not powerless to your cravings, but they can be major deterrents to reaching your goals. You need to learn how to manage your craving, from both a mental and physical standpoint. Keep in mind what works of one person may not work for you.  Also, what works for one craving may not work for all of them.

Before we start talking about controlling your cravings, first we need to talk about why you might be having these craving.  If you would describe your cravings as “out of control” or “very intense”, then it is possible your cravings are not just run of the mill cravings that can be handled with some lifestyle changes.  If your cravings are off the charts they might  being caused by your food intake being too restrictive, one of your macronutrients (carbs, fat, or protein) being too low or your stress levels being too high.   You can try the tips below but if your cravings are beyond the “I would really like to eat this” feeling, then they may not work for you and your will need to balance whatever the issue causing the intense cravings first.  You can do all the hacks and tips in the world, but until you get those things in balance, you will not be able to manage your cravings for the long term. (If you would like help in seeing if your diet is causing your cravings, contact me here, and we can go over your diet together.)

When handling our cravings, we need to handle them from a physical perspective and a mental perspective. In this article we will go over to types of food we commonly crave and how to handle them from a physical perspective.  In the second part of the article we will discuss how to mentally manage your cravings.


A square of dark chocolate can help to buffer cravings.

There are two categories for foods people commonly crave.  The first one, commonly referred to as buffer or barrier foods are ones that we can eat in moderation and they help us from over indulging. The other category, commonly called trigger foods, are the foods  we cannot control ourselves around and lead to over eating.

Buffer foods are foods that we can have a small amount and we feel satisfied after eating them. It can help to eat these in moderation throughout the week.  Maybe that means having a tiny square of dark chocolate after dinner every night.  (Notice I said tiny square and not the whole bar.) Or maybe it is half a glass of wine a couple times a week.  The problem with these foods is when we label them as bad or unclean and ban them completely from our diet. This is a major reason why super strict diets tend to fail. Buffer food help take the intensity out of our cravings, allowing us to feel content eating a healthier diet and helping us stay motivated for making changes.

It can help to pre measure these foods into single size portions (when you can).  When you get home from the grocery store, grab your measuring cups or scale and some small Ziplocs.  Open that bag of chips/popcorn/crackers and measure out individual portion sizes.  Now, when you do indulge in the craving, you are not sitting down with the entire bag, but just one portion.


Homemade tortilla chips. Less fat and carbs then store bought chips.

The other type of food we crave is referred as a “trigger” food. Trigger foods are foods we struggle to eat mindfully. For me, nuts and tortilla chips are the top of the list. When I start to eat them I struggle to realize when I have had enough. With trigger foods you may find that you are not overly hungry, but after a few bites, you feel hungry and want more.  Commonly, these foods will either be combinations of starch and salt or starch and fat.  (Chips? Desserts?).  You may notice after certain meals that are high in starch and salt or fat, you never find yourself feeling full or satisfied or are hungry again with in an hour.

If you are dealing with trigger foods, then having these foods in the house may not be a good idea for you. For example, tortilla chips are a trigger for me.  If the bag is here I will eat it, all of it.   So, instead of buying a bag of chips, I keep fresh corn tortillas in my fridge. When I need tortilla chips for a recipe or to have some guacamole with, I can make up just  one size serving.  Now that big bag of chips isn’t hanging in my pantry tempting me every time I walk by.

Another way to physically deal with these cravings is to try and find the healthiest options.  Maybe chocolate cookies are your thing.  You can try replacing them with a dark chocolate square, cocoa drink or try something like my chocolate brownie bites.  If you love chips, you can try swapping them for air popped popcorn.  Or switch from ice cream to a higher protein frozen yogurt (love the Stonyfield one, btw!).  Don’t ban the less healthy food, however, just don’t eat it every night.  That is where your healthier alternative comes in.


Occasional “half pours” (2.5 oz) of wine sometimes is all you need.

Remember, your cravings are neither good nor bad they are just there. A mistake many make is labeling their craving food as bad and banning it. Some attempt to ban it forever, while other might ban it for every day except one predetermined cheat day.  The problem with this, is when we label food we give it power.  There is no good or bad food, some food is just more nutritionally dense then others. The problem occurs when we deny ourselves, all week long. Telling ourselves we have these items on a predetermined day.  Then that day comes, and we have the scarcity mindset, (scarcity mindset is the fear that there will never be enough).  And so we binge, we over indulge. The cheat meal turns into a cheat day, which turns into a cheat weekend.

Cravings can be a sign of stress.  Maybe your life is crazy right now.  They can also be a sign your diet is too restrictive.  Reevaluate you diet. Are you eating enough? Are you getting enough protein/fat/carbs? Are you doing too much hard core exercise?  Once you have a dressed those things, then you can address handling the cravings.

If you fear your cravings might be due to your diet being too restrictive or one of  your macronutrients being too low, drop me a line and let’s chat.  I would love to help you manage your cravings by first addressing your diet.





Chicken, Bacon and Potato Soup

This is a perfectly warm and comforting soup, without all the carb and fat you usually get in a potato bacon soup. It’s is so light you probably will still be able to have some crusty bread with it (if you are into that sort of thing).   However, I felt the soup was plenty filling without the bread. The high protein content (35 grams per serving) helps keep you feeling full and satisfied while still being low in fat and carbs.


Comforting chicken, potato and bacon soup.

Make sure to use bone in chicken thighs.  The bone helps keep the meat tender and not dried out.  If you can’t find any bone in thighs with the skin already removed, just remove it yourself.  Slip you finger between the skin and the meat, and tear off.  It can be slippery; I find grabbing the skin with a paper towel helps.  Using kitchen shears, cut off any remaining hunks of skin or fat.  Before serving, you will gently remove the thighs with a slotted spoon.  They will start to fall apart so you have to be gently.  Remove the bones and any cartilages and return to the slow cooker.

The whole recipe only takes 4 hours in the slow cooker on low.   Unfortunately, you do need to tend to it after 2 hours (to throw the potatoes in). But it is a great meal to make when you are going to be busy in the house doing other things.


Chicken, Bacon and Potato Soup

4  bacon slices, chopped

2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, remove the skin.

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp oregano

½ kosher salt

2 large leeks, thinly sliced

4 carrots sliced

4 celery stalks, sliced

4 cups unsalted chicken stock

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 thyme sprigs

12 ounces baby potatoes

2 huge handfuls baby spinach


  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet, till nice and crispy.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Leave the bacon fat in the pan
  2. Season chicken thighs with seasonings (garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and salt) Place in skillet and brown.  Approximately 4 minutes per side. Remove and place in slow cooker.
  3. Add carrot, leek and celery to pan and sauté for 5 mins.  Then move to slow cooker.
  4. Add chicken stock and bacon to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.
  5. After 2 hours add potatoes and cook on low for another 2 hours.
  6. Remove chicken and pull meat from the bone.  Shred and put back in slow cooker.  Add spinach and salt and pepper to taste.




Nutrition Info for 1/6 the recipe: 256 calories 7 grams fat, 15 grams carbs, 35 grams protein


Inspired by a recipe in Cooking Light Magazine.

Brownie Balls (Vegan, Wheat Free and Paleo Friendly)

Chocolate can easily be part of a healthy diet. Also, regularly including some chocolate in your diet may help you from bingeing on it down the road. If you would like to learn more about chocolate, and how to include it in your healthy diet go check out this article here. Then make sure you come back and learn about how to make these decadent chocolatey brownie balls.

These vegan, wheat free, Paleo friendly brownie balls were quite the hit with my whole family.  They are rich enough, that one can satisfy a sweet tooth without completely ruining your calories or macros. Honestly, they taste like raw brownie dough, just without the whole raw egg thing.


Wheat free, vegan, paleo friendly Brownie Balls

While are delicious fresh, I like to keep mine in the freezer.  Not only do they keep longer this way, but also I am less likely to over indulge in them.  Out of sight, out of mind.

If you don’t want to make your own almond paste for this recipe, you could use pre-made almond butter.  I really recommend grinding up your own almond paste for this though, it tastes better and has a better consistency.  Plus, you’ll already be using your food processor.


Almond Paste. It is not processed all the way to butter consistency.

Brownie balls (Wheat Free, Vegan Paleo Friendly )

1.5 cups almonds, raw unsalted

½ cup hazelnuts

12 whole Medjool Dates

2 tsp vanilla extract

3-4 tb water

½ tsp kosher salt

½ cup cocoa powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lay almonds on one half of a tray and hazelnuts on the other half.  Do not mix them up. Roast in oven for 10 mins.  Keep a close eye on them.  The hazelnuts may be done before 10 mins is up.
  2. Once roasted, place hazelnuts in a kitchen towel. Rub them with the towel, using the friction to remove the skins.  Then place all but 20 hazelnuts in a food processor.  Pulse till coarsely chopped. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. While the almonds are still warm place in food processor, and process till it is almond paste. (not quite almond butter state).  It will still thick like paste, not thin and runny like almond butter.
  4. Add dates and pulse in food processor until paste like.
  5. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt and just 3 tablespoons water.  Process till combined, you may need to add an additional tablespoon of water to get it well combined.
  6. Using a melon baller or tablespoon, scoop out a portion, and roll it around one of the whole hazelnuts.  Then roll the ball in the chopped hazelnuts.
  7. They are perfect as they are or store them in the freezer.


Makes 20 balls.  Nutrition info for 1 ball:  127 calories, 7 grams fat, 15 grams carbohydrate and 3 grams protein.


Inspired by a recipe for Cooking Light Magazine and my gal Emma over at Betterwithcake.com




Chocolate Cravings

Did you know there is a physiological reason you may crave chocolate?  And that chocolate is not bad for you.  Actually, dark chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder is not only healthy but can also help to deal with food cravings.


My personal favorite dark chocolate, Divine Dark Chocolate with Pink Himalayan Salt

If chocolate is one of the foods you crave, find out why you crave it and how to include in your diet without blowing your calories/macros.

First off, not all chocolate is created equal. It runs the gamut from the chocolate in a snickers bar to the bitter baking chocolate. So, let’s break it down:

Milk chocolate:  The chocolate found in most candy bars.   Has the most sugar and milk fat and the least amount of actual cocoa. The least nutritious.

Bittersweet, semi or dark: Has no milk powder and dark must have at least 35% cocoa solids.

Unsweetened (Bakers) Chocolate: made from 100% cocoa liquor and very bitter.  (As every kid who has ever stolen a bite from a bar they found in mom’s pantry knows.)

Cocoa powder: the ground crushed solid left after the coco butter is removed from the chocolate liqueur. Most is unsweetened.


Cocoa Powder

Cacao powder: it is much like its cousin; cacao is just processed at a much lower temperature. Its low temperature processing allows it to still maintain all its enzymes, vitamins and nutrients.  Also it is more bitter then cocoa, so keep that in mind when substituting in a recipe.

(By the way, white chocolate: not really chocolate, at all. Sorry, white chocolate lovers.)

The higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the more benefits it has.  So dark chocolate, cocoa powder and cacao are your healthiest choices. This also correlates to the bitterness.  Usually the more bitter the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant amount.

Chocolate with a high % of cocoa has a higher antioxidant content.  Raw cocoa has the highest amount of antioxidants of any food! One tablespoon of cocoa powder gives you half the total antioxidants you need in one day.  Antioxidants in food are measured using an ORAC value.  The higher the ORAC, the higher the antioxidants.  100 grams of cocoa powder has an ORAC value of 28,000.  For comparison blueberries is 2,400 and kale is 1770.

The antioxidants in chocolate are known as flavonoids.  Flavonoids are very bitter (anyone who’s ever tasted plain cacao nibs knows what I am taking about). This is also why people will add fat and sugar to chocolate, to help reduce the bitterness.


Cacao Nibs

The flavonoids in cocoa have been shown to reduce blood pressure, raise HDL (the good cholesterol) and reduce platelet stickiness.

Chocolate also has been known to have positive effects on mood. A chemical in chocolate called phenyethlamine help to release endorphins (feel good chemical) and can increase our dopamine.  Hence, why we crave during times of emotional upset, and when women are experiencing PMS.

Now, this is not permission to go overboard on chocolate. Too much is not good and will negate any health benefits.

If chocolate is your craving food, you may benefit from regularly including some in your diet. By have a little bit of your craving food, periodically BEFORE a big craving hits, you are less likely to binge later on. If you are trying to come up with some healthier ways to include chocolate here are some ideas for you:

  • Have a square or two of dark chocolate.  Remember the darker the chocolate the more health benefits it has.  (look for ones that contains at least 85% cocoa)

Since cocoa (and cacao) have no fat or sugar added to them (as long as you buy unsweetened cocoa, and not that drink mix with the bunny on the front) they are excellent ways to incorporate chocolate into your diet.

  •  Drink it. Add 2 tablespoons to hot water with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cayenne and an either a tsp of sweetener or drop of stevia.  Or tablespoon thrown in your favorite smoothie.
  • Mix it in your oats.  (I like it in my overnight oats with some raspberries. Recipe here.)
  • Mix it in chia seed pudding.  (I have a chocolate overnight chia seed pudding recipe coming soon).

Wheat free, Vegan Brownie Bites


Nehlig, A. (2013, march). The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. Br J Clin Pharmacol., 716-727.


Calorie Counting. Is it the answer?

The pros and cons, how to do it and how to figure out how many calories you need.

In this article I am discussing calorie counting, however, when are talking calorie counting, what I really mean is tracking and logging your food intake.  I believe your macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein) are very important too.  I will discuss counting those at a later point. For now, let’s just start with tracking, logging and counting calories. What you learn here will carry over to counting macros. But before we get started I have just one important statement to make: calorie counting is not the end all be all.  There are other things we can do that do will have an impact. Also, less is not always more. DO NOT keep taking away calories if you are not seeing results.  There are other things that may need to be adjusted first)

Am I for or against calorie counting? Well, I don’t have a clear cut answer for you.  There are times when counting calories is beneficial, and then there are times when it is not. Nice huh? Calorie counting does have its purpose, but it can easily be misused. It can also be very inaccurate.

So when can it useful?

When you do not know how much you are consuming.  Some people do not have a reliable internal fullness meter.  They can eat and eat and don’t know when to stop until they start to feel physically uncomfortable, and by then is too late.  You need to stop eating right before you feel completely fully. Some have a hard time with this, maybe that is due to ignoring your body’s natural hunger and fullness signs, maybe you were taught to “clean your plate” as a child, or maybe you have a hormone issue like leptin resistance.  Calorie counting can help by giving you a clear amount that you should be eating.  Calorie counting, however, is not the only way to deal with these issues. It is just one. Other ways would be learning healthy habits, learning serving sizes and for those with leptin resistance balancing blood sugar and lowering triglycerides.

When you have no idea what a serving size is.

It can be hard to eat proper amounts when you don’t know what a serving size it.  You know the back of the cereal box says a serving size is 30 grams, but what does 30 grams look like? (Spoiler, probably a whole lot smaller then you thought, and definitely not the size of an average cereal bowl!) I find it very helpful, not just for my clients but also for myself, to occasionally count calories as a way to check my portions.  My recommendations vary by client, but generally an occasionally 2-4 week count can be very helpful. Some, however, will benefit from a longer stint of tracking.   When you start tacking your intake you may realize you are eating more (or less) then you thought you were.


Bowl on the left is one serving of cereal, at 30 grams. It has 100 calories. While the bowl on the right, is a a typical bowl of cereal. It has almost twice the amount calories.

Those Last 5 Pounds

Calorie counting can help with those “stubborn last 5 lbs.”.  When it comes to that stubborn fat or last few pounds, calorie counting can help (note, I said Help and not fix. Calorie counting is just one piece of the puzzle). Those last few pounds can be tricky, and it helps to have an idea of what you are eating, so we know where to make adjustments.  Maybe it is the calorie amount, maybe its macros or maybe is nutrient timing.  If you’ve been tracking it can give a nice picture to see where we can adjust next. (Remember less calories is not always the answer.   There are other things to look at to like macros, exercise, stress, sleep quality and even micronutrients.  Calories are just ONE piece of the puzzle)

Very Particular Goals

If you have a very intense physique or athletic goal. I’m talking someone who has to get to a certain body weight by set time, or someone who main focus is athletic performance.  If you have a very intense end goal, we need a good clear picture of your intake.   In these situations, the macronutrients (and micros for those whose goals require a very low calorie diet) are also important.

Under and Over Eating

Food tracking can also help with chronic under and over eaters.  A lot of under and over eaters do not even realize they are doing it.  By paying attention to the exact amounts they are (or are not) eating it can help them realize they need to eat more or less.  This also come back to knowing your serving sizes.   When many fist start logging their foods, they are surprised my what they actually are eating.

So what is wrong with calorie counting then?

It is not sustainable. I hate to say you can’t count calories forever (because you could) but do you WANT to be counting calories forever? Along with counting, I advocate learning healthy habits.  (In my coaching, I teach those healthy eating habits so you don’t have to count calories forever.) With healthy eating habits you are not stuck constantly measuring and logging your food. You also have a healthy eating system that is a little more portable then lugging a food scale around with you.

Calorie counting and food logging can be used as a crutch.

Sometimes, counting calories and logging our food can turn into a crutch.  The problem with this, is it tends to not contribute to long term success.  If you are JUST logging your food and not learning healthy habits at the same time, you are not likely to maintain your desired weight long term. You may be able to achieve it, but the tricky part will be then maintaining it. Instead of letting calorie counting (or macro counting) turn into a crutch for you, use it to learn from.  Learn your serving sizes, learn the breakdown in your favorite meals, and learn healthy eating habits that will teach you how to stop eating at 80% full.

It can be inaccurate.

Did you know what is on the label might not actually be what you are consuming? The FDA allows for a 20% range of error on food labels.  20%! So, that 200 calorie snack you just had could actually be 160-240 calories. There was a study[1] done where the researches went out and tested 10 low calorie frozen meals and 29 restaurants low calorie entrees to see what they really contained.  They found the frozen meals off by 10% and restaurants UNDER estimated their calories they listed on menu or website by 18%.  For example, Denny’s had their dry toast listed as 97 calories but after being tested it was really 283 calories!  Calorie counting can give an idea and be used as an estimate, but it shouldn’t be thought of as written in stone.

How to count and track calories.

You are going to need an accurate way to measure your food.  You can use standard measuring spoons and cups or a food scale.  Note of caution, it is very easy to mismeasure using a measuring spoons/cups.  Take a tablespoon of peanut butter for example:


A tablespoon of peanut butter has 105 calories and 8 grams of fat. I used my standard tablespoon and scooped out a delicious heaping tablespoon of peanut butter.  When I measured this same hunk of peanut butter with the food scale, it came out to 29 grams. Which is closer to 2 tablespoons. So while I might have though I was consuming 105 calories (and 8 grams of fat) I was really getting 190 calories and 14 grams of fat!


That heaping tablespoon of peanut butter was actually almost 2 tablespoons.

After measuring your food, you need to record it and analyze it. You can do it old school by hand or there are hundreds of apps and websites out there. MyFitnessPal, is one of the most popular.  It has thousands of foods, and it even has a barcode scanner.  The biggest downfall of MFP is it allows any person to input a food, there are a lot of erroneous entries in there (and hilarious ones too. Tears of my enemy anyone? Cat food?!) There are a lot of entries that people who just make up the nutritional info for food so it fits their personal needs (you’ll see this a lot with restaurant entries when people guestimate their entrees) Nutritiondata.self.com is the most accurate nutrition data bank.  I personally use MyFitnessPal to log and track, but then I double check my entries against nutritiondata.self.com. (A little trick, look for entries in MFP that say they are based on nutritiondata. They tend to be the more accurate ones.)

So now that you know why you should and shouldn’t count calories and you know how to track and log, but how much calories do you need?

Well… that can vary.  There are a handful of fancy equations out there, where you can input your height, weight, age into different equations and it spits out your BMR (or RMR).  There is Harris-Benedict, Mifflin-St Jeor, Schofield equations. These will tell you just your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) or RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate), which is JUST the number of calories you would need at complete rest, like a coma.  In order to calculate what you really need in a day you also have to take into account your TEA (the calories you burn exercising) TEF (the number of calories burned by eating food), and NEAT (the calories you burned in all activities other than planned exercise).  Then, once you have taken all that in to account you’ll get your TDEE, total daily energy expenditure, this is the most important number when trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. If you wanted to maintain, you would attempt to consume your TDEE, to lose weight you’ll need to consume less than your TDEE and to gain consume more than your TDEE.  Kind of complicated huh?

Good news there is an easier way. The easiest way, is to use a bodyweight multiplier.  For weight loss multiple your body weight (in pounds) by 12, for gain 18 or maintenance 14, and those would be your caloric need. Very, important: these are just starting off points.  There are many things the can influence this, including how active you are, how much you exercise, your lean body mass, your stress levels and sleep. As an example, I calculated out my TDEE using the above formulas, it came to 1708.  If I was to use the body weight multiplier, and multiplied my body weight by 14 (116 X 14) I get 1740. So, dang pretty close.   Of course there is huge variance for people, and this is only to be used as a starting point.

To recap

There are both pros and cons to counting calories, but in the short term, it can be very helpful in helping you learn how much you need to eat. However, calorie counting is not the only way. There are other things that need to be taken into account. It is imperative to learn healthy habits for long term sucess. Try and learn serving sizes as you go and don’t rely on it as a crutch. Using it as a crutch can lead to failure long term.  In order to count and log, you need to be able to measure and log your food. And there are tons of fancy equations you can use to figure out how much you need to eat, but the easiest way to multiple your weight (in lbs) by 14 for maintenance, by 12 for loss and 18 for gains.  Hit those numbers for 2 weeks, then adjust as needed.

If you would like more personalized help with this, just fill out the form HERE and we can get started working together. Also, feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.  If you have been counting calories and feel stuck, I can help you with that.  Also, if you despise counting calories, but want help reaching your goals I can help you with that also.  I believe calorie counting is not the only way to reach your goals. It is just one tool out of many, and learning healthy habits is necessary for long term success.



Flack KD, S. W. (2016, Sep). Cross-Validation of Resting Metabolic Rate Prediction. J Acad Nutr Diet, 116(9), 1413-22.

Urban LE, D. G. (2010). The accuracy of Stated energy Contents of Reduced-energy. Commercially Prepared Foods. J Am Diet Assoc, 116-123.

Quick and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

I don’t know about where you are, but it is FINALLY cold here in North Texas. Like cold enough it is snowing!  Ok they are just flurries. (I will always be a Midwesterner at heart).  Cold weather means soup time. This Chicken Tortilla soup one of my all-time favorite soup recipes.  Mainly for the fact it only takes 20 minutes while still being healthy and satisfying.


There are two time saving short cuts in this recipe. The first is, instead of baking up chicken to use, just grab a rotisserie from your local grocery store.  I liked to drain off all the extra fat when I get home and remove the skin.  If it’s cool enough, I remove all the meat.  For this recipe all you need is the breast meat (skin removed) so save the extra meat from the thigh, legs and wings for adding into salads.

The second time saver is using the blender instead of having it simmer all day long. Throwing it in the blender or using an immersion blender will give a a great texture without having to cook it for a long period of time.  Please note, if using a blender do not place the clear plastic filler cup on the lid.  Leave the middle hole open.  When you blend it, place a tea towel over the hole to let the steam escape.

Instead of using tortilla chips for the topping,  we are baking our own using fresh tortillas. Don’t worry it only takes 10 minutes and they are lower in fat and tastier too! I am big fan of baking up my own tortilla chips, that way I don’t have a big open bag laying around tempting me.  I just bake as many as needed.


Quick and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, NOT drained
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup Corn Meal
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp, chili powder.
  • 1 tsp, Ground Cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ garlic powder
  • 1 avocado
  • green onions
  • cilantro
  • 8 tortillas, Tortillas
  • Chicken breast from rotisserie chicken, skin removed. (approx. 12 oz)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut corn tortillas into ½ inch strips.  Light spritz with cooking spray and salt. Cook for 10 minutes till crispy but not burnt.
  2. In a large pot heat oil. Cook onion, green bell and carrots till starting to soften.  About 8 minutes.
  3. Dump in diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a bowl.
  4. Add in the corn meal and approx. ¼ of the crunchy corn tortillas.
  5. Add in salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano and garlic powder.
  6. Carefully pour entire soup pot into a blender or use an immersion blender. Blend till smooth. **If using a blender, when placing the top in the blender do not insert the plastic fill cup. Leave the hole open in the lid and hold a tea towel over the lid.  This is very important; it allows the steam to escape. Otherwise it will blow up on you and you will have a steamy hot mess! **
  7. Shred chicken breasts.
  8. Return to soup pot and add in chicken and frozen corn. Reheat till warm. And top individual bowls with diced avocado, crunchy tortilla strips, green onion and cilantro.
  9. Enjoy!


Makes approximately 6 servings.  Each serving is about 1 ½ cups and has:  278 calories, 9 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbohydrates and 22 grams protein.


Healthy Matcha Recipes

All you need for a incredibly healthy and benefical drink is water, maybe some honey and a teaspoon of matcha.  Matcha literally means powdered tea. It is the finely ground powder of green tea leaves.  Unlike typical tea made from leaves steeped in hot water, the powdered tea is dissolved in water (or milk).  Since the whole leaves are ingested, it is more potent than typical green tea.


Matcha Latte

Matcha is rich in an antioxidant called polyphenols.  Research has shown that polyphenols can help protect against heart disease and cancer and may help regulate blood sugar.  One study showed that rats fed high fat diets along with matcha, had lower total cholesterol levels, raised HDL levels (good cholesterol) with lowered LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and lower triglyceride levels then rats fed just the high fat diet without matcha.  Of course this study was done on rats, but is shows some promise especially for those concerned with their blood lipids. [1]

Many who consume matcha, claim it provides more calm energy then typical caffeinated drinks.  It is believed this is due to the high theanine content.   Theanine is a nondietary amino acid that can help with relaxation without causing sedation.  The theanine in the matcha helps to blunt the stimulating effects of the caffeine.

Below are a few Matcha recipes for you to try.  Personally I am a fan of matcha lattes.  Matcha can have a slightly grassy taste and the sweetness from the milk can help to balance it.

Copycat S-bucks Matcha Latte

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup milk of choice (I really like plain coconut milk or whole milk here, but any kind will do. Just note if your milk is sweetened use less honey.)
  • 1 tsp honey

Bring water to a boil and whisk in matcha powder. Pour into mug. In a small sauce pan heat up milk and honey.  Whisking the whole whole time. (or use a milk frother if you have one.) Once frothy slowly pour into the matcha mixture.


Collagen Matcha Latte

(Collagen is great for skin health and has some benefits to joints. However, it should not be taken in higher doses as a protein supplement due to it being  less effective than other protein sources)

  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tb collagen peptides
  • 1/8 vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp matcha
  • ¾ cup milk (I prefer coconut or whole milk here)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • pinch of cinnamon

Bring water to a boil and whisk in matcha powder and collagen. Pour into mug. In a small sauce pan heat up milk, honey and vanilla.  Whisking the whole time.  Once frothy slowly pour into the matcha mixture. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon


Iced Matcha

Iced  Matcha 

  • 2 teaspoons Japanese matcha green tea
  • 8 ounces cold water
  • 1 tsp of honey (totally optional, I prefer it without)

Shake in a shaker bottle with blender ball OR in a mason jar with a few ice cubes. Shake until nice and frothy.  If the taste is too grassy for you top with milk of choice and pinch of cinnamon.


Matcha protein smoothie

  • 1 cup milk of your choice
  • 2 tsp matcha
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • handful of greens (kale leaves torn from the stem or spinach)

Place in blender and blend till smooth.

If drinking teas isn’t your thing but you still want in on the health benefits of matcha you can:

  • Add 1 tsp to pancakes or muffins.
  • Mix in with yogurt
  • Add it your protein smoothie.
  • Mix it in your chia seed pudding (look for some recipes later this month, I am currently taste testing a few out now)
  • Add to overnight oats.


Are you a matcha fan? If so, how do you like to consume it?




[1] Xu P, Y. L. (2016, Jan). The effects of the aqueous extract and residue of Matcha on the antioxidant status and lipid and glucose levels in mice fed a high-fat diet. . Food Funct. , 294-300.