Brown vs White. The Rice Debate


So, which one should you eat? Brown or white rice? The quick and dirty answer? Whichever one you prefer the taste of and it works best for you. Seriously.  There are pros and cons to both of them.


Brown or White? Which is the better choice?

I can hear the protesting now. But wait a hot second! Isn’t brown rice healthier?! No way, white is healthier, brown rice has arsenic! Hold on, white rice causes diabetes! But brown rice pokes holes in your intestines!

If you want the more in depth answer, then keep on reading.

But wait a second, brown rice is the healthier choice. Right?

Brown rice is a whole grain. With white rice the bran and germ have been removed.  Many nutrients are found in the bran and the germ (other things are also found in the bran and germ, but we’ll get to that in a bit).  When you line them up side by side, brown rice does have a smidge more macronutrients then white. However, white rice is higher in some micronutrients too.

Brown Rice Vs White Rice

based of info from

Brown rice is higher in niacin, B6, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. While white rice has more thiamin, folate and iron. Brown rice also has a more fiber and a bit more fat then white.

Hold up! But I read that brown rice has arsenic in it!

Sadly, yes. In 2010 and then again in 2014, consumer reports tested 60 different varieties of rice and rice based products.  They found measurable levels of inorganic arsenic in almost everything they tested (To read their original report go here)

Arsenic is a heavy metal that is toxic. Long term exposure may increase risk for chronic diseases.  Regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic increase your risk for multiple different cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  While arsenic is naturally occurring in nature, it is believed that we are seeing an increase in our food supply due to pollution.

Not all rice is the same. Brown rice has 80% more inorganic arsenic then white rice. While white basmati and white sushi rice have the lowest amounts.  Interestingly, white rice from California, India or Pakistan is the lowest, with 38% less arsenic then the same type grown elsewhere.  Any type of rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana or Texas has the highest amounts of arsenic.

If you are eating rice often, are pregnant or are feeding a small child, this is something to keep in mind. (FYI, babies should not eat more than 1 serving rice cereal per day and children under 5 should not drink rice milks instead of dairy milk due to the unsafe amounts of arsenic. Just one rice cake, has a child’s weekly limit of arsenic in it).

If you are just consuming white Basmati or sushi rice, you are safe to eat one serving per day. However, keep in mind if you also consume any  rice based pastas, rice cakes, rice cereals and rice based baking mixes as those contain arsenic, too.

The good news is, they have found that rinsing the rice very thoroughly before cooking it, and cooking it with a much higher water to rice ratio helps to reduce the amount of arsenic. (The recommended amount is 6 cups water to 1 cup rice, and draining the excess water off once the rice is cooked)

But doesn’t white rice cause diabetes?

There is a study that found those who eat 5 or more servings white rice a week may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. [1] Keep in mind that is 5 or more servings a week, and these studies did not account for lifestyle or other food choices. Over consuming any carbohydrate will increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. 

The same study also noted that people who consumed white rice were more likely to have a family history of diabetes and those who consumed more brown rice were more likely to live a healthier lifestyle.

Doesn’t white rice cause your insulin to spike?

Some foods can cause our blood sugar to rise very fast.  This is measured by the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a number, from 0 to 100, and it is based on how fast that food will raise your blood sugar after eating. The higher the number the faster it will cause your blood sugar to rise.  Brown rice has a glycemic index of 50 while white has one of 72.

The glycemic index is not a marker of how healthy a food is, just is effects on blood sugar.  For example, pizza has a very low index number, but that does not automatically make it a healthy food choice. When you also consume fat or protein along with the rice, that will lower the GI index slightly.

The glycemic index can be important tool not only for those who are trying to control their blood sugar but also for those who are very serious about their workout nutrition.  It can be, slightly, more advantageous to consume high glycemic index carbs in the 2 hours following a strenuous workout.  The high GI carbs cause a spike in insulin which both decreases muscle breakdown and increases protein synthesis.  This is why many tout white rice a a perfect after workout carb source.

White Rice

White rice does have a high glycemic index, which can make is a great post workout carb source.

I read on the internet that brown rice is bad for you because it pokes holes in your gut and causes all kind of diseases??

Well, yes, no and maybe. First quick background.  Our intestines are supposed to have some permeability.  That way nutrients can pass to our blood supply.  Sometimes things go wrong and our gut allows things that it supposed to be keeping out cross. You’ll hear this referred to as leaky guy or increased gut permeability or intestinal hyperpermeabilty.

Leaky gut has been linked to food sensitivities, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, autism, skin conditions, and thyroid problems.  Leaky gut is not an official medical diagnosis.  They are only starting to study it and understand it. However, just because there is lack of research and evidence does not mean it does not exist.

Back to brown rice. Brown rice contains lectins. Lectins are a type of protein that we are unable to digest.  Since we cannot digest them, they damage the lining of our GI tract as they pass through.  Now keep in mind all food damages our GI tract as it passes.  Normally our bodies repair the damage fairly quickly.  With lectins, however, this process may be slowed.

With repeated over exposure (key words here repeated over exposure!) many believe this can lead to increased permeability.

Keep in mind lectins are also found in many other foods like dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shell fish.  The good news is the effects of these lectins on our GI tract lasts only as long as they are in the body.

In the end, really only people with autoimmune issues or digestive issues really need to be concerned with the amount of lectins they are consuming.

Rice can be part of a healthy diet.  Special populations may need to choose wisely though.

  • Those who consume a lot of rice based products (like rice based pastas, cereal and baking mixes) should look into white basmati and sushi rice grown in California.
  • Those who are at risk of developing type II diabetes or attempting to lose weight would do best to limit their carbohydrate intake all together and choose brown rice when acceptable.
  • Those hoping to gain muscle mass with no other health issues, can choose as they wish.
  • Those with autoimmune conditions or GI disease may need to limit their intake of brown rice.

For everyone else, weigh your options and pick as you wish.




A., P. (1993, Oct). Dietary lectins are metabolic signals for the gut and modulate immune and hormone functions. Eur j Clin Nutr. , 47(10), 691-9.

Dr. Qi Sun, M. S. (2010, Jun). White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women. Arch Intern Med., 961-969.

Vasconcelos IM, O. J. (2004, Sept). Antinutritional properties of plant lectins. Toxicon, 44(4), 385-403.



Is This Food a Carb, a Protein or a Fat?

How to tell what the major macronutrient of a food is.

Eat more carbs in the morning. Eat more protein. Eat less fat after a workout.  How many times have you heard dietary advice like that?  The problem is when you do not know which foods are high in carbs, protein or fat.

Knowing which macronutrient is the main constituent of a food is imperative when trying to follow dietary advice. (A macronutrient, also referred to as macro, is either fat, carbohydrate or protein)

You may think you know the answers, but what about foods like nuts, beans and even eggs?  Would you say they are a high protein food?  Here’s the thing, they are not.


Salty crunchy roasted garbanzo beans are a legume, but are the considered a high protein food?

The first step to figuring the main macronutrient of a food is to read the label. Or if it doesn’t have a label, look it up online. This is my favorite site here.  Whatever the highest macronutrient is your answer.   This tip will work majority of the time, but not all the time.  There are some foods that need to be considered “mixed”.

To better understand what I am talking about here is a very brief lessons carbohydrate, fat and protein. I’ll break down each one, tell what their serving size is and give an example of some common foods that fit into each category.


Every gram of fat provides 9 calories. Each molecule of fat is made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms, joined together in long chain.  There are 3 main different types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.  There is more information on fat in this article. One serving of a fat is generally 1-2 Tb or 1-2 thumb sized servings.

Typical Fat foods:
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Oils
  • Avocado
  • Olives

Each gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. Carbs are made up of a carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecule.  Structurally there are 2 types, simple and complex.  Simple carbs are smaller, made up of only 1 or 2 sugar molecules.  Complex carbs are more than 2 sugar molecules.  While each type has a different effect on the body, ALL CARBS we eat are digested into simple sugars.  A typical serving size of carb food varies from one cupped hand (approximately ½ cup) to 2 fists (2 cups) depending on the person and the type of carb.

Typical carb foods
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Pastas/bread
  • Barley
  • Amaranth
  • corn
  • Starchy vegetables: yams, sweet potatoes, white potatoes
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Pancakes
  • Cereal
  • Crackers/pretzels
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit drinks/Soda

Protein is a molecule made up of amino acids. Think of amino acids as the building blocks for our body. There are 2 types of amino essential and nonessential.  Essential aminos our body cannot make and we must get them from the diet.  Nonessential aminos our body can make. To learn more about protein including how much you need go here.  Each gram of protein provides 4 calories (just like carbs).  A general serving size is 1-2 palm sized servings or 4-6 oz.

Typical protein foods:
  • Lean meats
  • Dairy products
  • Fish/shell fish
  • Deli meats
  • Egg whites
  • Powdered protein supplement (Read the label! A lot of these can contain A LOT of carbs and or fat)

But what about those nuts, beans and eggs?  Aren’t they good sources of protein?


Delicious and tasty almonds. Are they a good source of protein?

Awe Nuts.

Everyone wants to consider nuts a high protein food.  One ounce of mixed nuts contains 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein.  Nuts are a high fat food.  Yes, they do contain protein, but most of their calories come from fat. 77% of their calories come from fat.

Beans, beans…

You often hear that beans are a great source of protein.  1 cup of black beans contains 41 grams of carbohydrate and 15 grams of protein.  While they do contain protein, but they contain substantially more carbs then protein. With 72% of their calories come from carbs while 26% comes from fat. If you do not consume any animal products, then yes they are a decent source of protein.  If you do eat animal products (dairy, leans meats, etc.) then it is most beneficial to think of beans as a carb source.


Yes, yes. Eggs are still an excellent source of protein.  Keep in mind however, one large egg as 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.  That is 24 calories from protein and 45 calories from fat.  34% of their calories come from protein and 63% comes from fat. I find it best to think of them as a fat and protein food.  It will be hard to eat your needed amount of protein without over doing it on fat if you are consuming whole eggs.  It can help to cut your it with another lean protein source (either egg whites or a lean meat like turkey or ham).


Eggs.  Eggs are usually one of the holy grails of high protein foods, but over 63% of their calories come from fat.

Understand that not all foods will fit into these nice neat little boxes.  This whole article is an overgeneralization. There are a lot of foods (like eggs and higher fat meats) that need to be consider mixed macros.  However, classifying foods this way this is a great starting point. It can help you follow dietary advice.




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) is the most accurate nutrition data bank.  I personally use MyFitnessPal to log and track, but then I double check my entries against (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.

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.


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.

Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Turkey

The standard rice in this dish is replaced with the superfood quinoa.  While we eat quinoa like a grain it really is a seed. It is closely related to beets and spinach. Keep in mind it is covered in a bitter substance called saponins, so when you prep it make sure when you give a good rinse it first. Quinoa is naturally gluten free and decent source of protein, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron and vitamin E, hence why it gets to be called a superfood.


Superfood Quinoa

By dicing the veggies small they are less likely to be picked out or noticed by the pickier eaters.  Keep in mind, though, bell peppers are a strong flavor and young palates may not eat them.  But that is ok, there are still 2 servings of vegetables hiding on the inside.  If you or any of your eater do not like feta you can leave it out completely, or just sprinkle it on top of some of the peppers.

You can make this dish any time of year, but it is fun to turn them into pepper-o-lanterns around Halloween! If you do carve them, do it before you stuff them and keep the oepenings small.  You may want to plan some extra time to make this; it takes about 30 minutes to prep and then another 30 in the oven.  (You can prep it ahead of time, and throw it in the oven at later point.  Just note it may need a little extra cook time if the peppers are cold from the refrigerator.)


Stuffed Pepper-O-Lantern!

Stuffed peppers with Turkey and Quinoa

½ cup quinoa

1 cup chicken broth

6 bell peppers (any color you prefer)

1 Tb olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, diced

1 lb ground turkey.

2 tb Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

1 Tb fresh oregano chopped

3 oz feta crumbled

Heat oven to 350. Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 15 minutes.  Quinoa is cooked once all the liquid is absorbed and they looked unwound.

Cut the tops of the peppers and set them aside. Remove the seeds and any white ribbing inside (If you are carving them, do that now.  Keep the openings small, you don’t want all the insides to fall out when cooking). Place peppers in a baking dish.  Discard the stems from the peppers tops and dice.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add garlic, onion chopped pepper tops, and zucchini. Cook till soft about 10 minutes.

Add turkey, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is browned, about 8 minutes.  Add tomatoes and oregano.  Stir in quinoa and half the feta (if mixing inside the peppers.  If you have picky eaters, skip this and just top some of the peppers with it)

Fill peppers with meat mixture, and top with feta.  Cook for 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings.


Nutrition for one pepper: 291 calories, 12 grams fat, 24 carbs, 21 protein






Meal Planning 101

What if I told you there is one very simple thing you can do that can help you stick to a healthier lifestyle? And it also saves money and time? There is, and it’s the act of planning out your meals for the week or any given period of time. I personally meal plan for Monday through Thursday and then again later in the week for Friday through Sunday.


When you take the time to sit down and plan out your menu for the week, you are less likely to make last minute unhealthy choices.  It can also help with those impulse buys.  The sweets or salty treats are less likely to find their way into your cart when they are not on the list.  Also, by having your dinners planned out for the week, you are less likely to find yourself ordering pizza at the last minute because “OMG its 6 and what are we going to have for dinner?!” (Yes we have ALL been there! But the end goal is to limit the amount of times that has to happen).  Incorporating variety is easier when you’ve planned the meals out in advance. There is nothing worse than eating chicken breast for 5 days straight.  Blah!


Where to begin:

  • First, pour yourself your favorite hot beverage (ok not a necessity but helpful and delicious).  Also if meal planning is something you dread, it can help to pair it with something you enjoy (for me that is a perfect cup of hot coffee, or maybe a matcha latte.)
  • Grab your favorite pen, notebook and planner (if you are old school like me and still use a paper planner).
  • Next, you need to take stock of your kitchen.  I like to sit at my kitchen table when I plan. It helps to be close to the fridge and pantry for easy double checking on ingredients.
  • Find your inspiration. Grab your favorite cookbooks and open your browser to some cooking websites.  Great ones are Skinnytaste (her new cookbook, Fast and Slow, is pretty great), Clean Eating Magazine (and their website, however their website tends to be glitchy for me) and Cooking Light (both magazine and website).
  • Eating healthy can get expensive. Pull up your grocery stores sales flier online and check if there are any great sales (For example my store happened to have some good bargains on meat this week, so I planned my meals around them).
  • Pick your proteins.  It is helpful to first pick out your proteins and then plan your meals around them.  I usually like to try have 2-3 poultry based meals, 1 red meat, 1 pork, 1 fish/shellfish and 1 meatless.  That way we get a variety, no one gets bored and everyone’s favorite gets served.
  • If you load your carbohydrates around your workouts, it’s a good idea to figure out in advance what days you plan to work out so you can plan your carb heavy meals accordingly.
  • After you’ve picked out your recipes and meals, make a list of what you need and head off to the store.  I find it helpful when I write my list to keep everything in categories.  Since the produce section is the first section I hit, all the fruits and veggies are first.  Then it’s the meat counter, dairy section and anything I might need in the aisles.  That way I am not roaming up and down every aisle being tempted by the all the goodies.

Do you meal plan in advance? Any favorite tips of tricks?  If you are still confused, and don’t know what type of recipes to be looking for what you should be putting in your cart fill out a contact form and we can start working together.








Chicken with strawberries, basil and goat cheese.

This protein packed recipe is  great when you are short on time. It is also family friendly.  My littles (age 5 and 2 love it).  The whole recipe takes only 30 minutes to throw together.  The combination of the strawberries, goat cheese and basil go really well together.  It’s easily adaptable to different family member’s tastes. For example, I leave the balsamic off my 2-year old’s plate, and I don’t add the goat cheese to the 5-year old’s.

Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C, A and K.  Make sure you choose berries that are dry and firm.  Smaller berries tend to have more flavor then the larger ones. Typically, the larger berries contain more water so, their flavor is diluted.


While boneless skinless chicken breasts are a great lean protein source they can be tough to cook.  They easily become chewy or dry.  This is a quick cooking method, so there is less time for them to dry out. Make sure you do not use more than 1 tablespoon of oil when cooking them though.  It just needs to be enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. We are pan frying these guys, not deep frying! The easiest and cleanest way to pound the chicken is to place it in a gallon zip lock, and smack the crap out of it with a heavy skillet or pan.  Great way to get your aggressions out and the ziplock keeps all the chicken germs from flying around your kitchen.


The Ingredients

4 Chicken breast, boneless skinless.

1 Tb cooking oil. (I like coconut oil)

Salt and pepper

2 Lbs green beans, washed and trimmed

1 Tb oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

kosher salt

black pepper

16 strawberries, washed hulled and chopped

2 Tb basil, chopped

2 oz goat cheese crumbles (feta would be great here too)

Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400. Trim the green beans.  Toss with oil and salt. Place on a cookie sheet/pan. (Make sure they are dry 1st).  Roast for 20-25 mins, shaking the pan every 10-15 mins.  They are done when wrinkly and brown in spots.

Meanwhile, pound the chicken thin.  You’ll want them to be uniform in thickness.  Heat oil in skillet to medium high.  Season chicken with salt and pepper. Once oil is hot, place chicken in skillet and cooked undisturbed for 3- 5 mins per side.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  (If you are making all 4 breasts, you may need to cook 2 at a time.  Do not crowd them in the pan)

To serve: Place chicken breast on top of 1.5 cups green beans and top with ½ cup chopped strawberries, ½ oz crumbled goat cheese, a sprinkle of basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


Nutrition (with 1.5 cups green beans, 4 oz chicken and ½ oz goat cheese):

Calories:377 carbs:16  fat:14  protien:41

Fat is good


It is not secret around here that I am a huge nut butter fan.  Addict even.  Weekly my kids and I make homemade nut butters.  Peanut butter, almond butter (a chocolate coconut by my gal, Emma, over at Better With Cake is my all-time favorite!).  I am big fan of other fats too.  Avocados. Eggs. Coconut. Lard (Yes lard! Have you ever had potatoes roasted in duck fat? No? you haven’t lived till you have roasted potatoes in lard!)

Fats are good for you. Great even. Fats have gotten bit a bad rap.  Yes, there can be too much of a good thing (that applies to most things in life!) and some fats are better than others. Fats support your metabolism, hormone production, immunity and the absorption of other nutrients. Our brains, nervous system and cell membranes are all made up of fat.  In fact, our brain is actually 60% fat!

More important than your total intake of fats is the balance between the different types of fats, like polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats.  In today’s average diet, it is easy for our fats to be out of balance. Typical diets tend to be very high in saturated and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and low in monounsaturated and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat.

The Different Types of Fats


Monounsaturated fats are found in macadamias, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, sesame seeds olives, olive oil, pumpkin seeds and avocados.


Polyunsaturated fats are found in fish oil, hemp seeds, algae oils, safflower oil, peanuts, canola, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds.  There are 2 main types of polyunsaturated, omega-3 and omega-6.  Both are essential fatty acids, meaning our bodies cannot produce them. Generally, we get plenty of omega-6 in our diets but are lacking in Omega-3.  Omega-3s can be found in fish and algae oils and plant based sources like flax, hemp and chia. We typically cannot get all the benefits from the plant sources, so it is best to get it from marine sources. Typical diets tend to be very low in omega-3s, hence why hear a lot about supplementing with fish oil.  I am not a huge advocate for supplements, EXCEPT when it comes to fish oil.


Even Saturated fats are not completely bad.  However, in the typical American diet (a diet high in processed foods and animal fat) we tend to get too much saturated fat in relation to the other fats. Saturated fat is found in animal fats (butter, meat) and tropical oils (coconut). We can make these fats healthier by choosing pasture raised meats, dairy and eggs. Newer research shows that saturated fat alone is not bad for our health, but it is when diets high in fat are combined with diets high in refined carbohydrates that there are problems.  [1] [2]

The only truly ugly fat, trans-fat

Trans-fat is found in margarine, fast foods, coffee creamers, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza and commercially baked goods.  Trans fat is made when a liquid fat is turned into a solid.  Like with margarine. These fats can raise our LDL (bad cholesterol) while lowering the HDL (good cholesterol), increase inflammation, contribute to insulin resistance. Research for the Harvard School of Health found that for “every 2% of calories from trans fats, their risk of heart disease rises by 23%” [3]

The great news is, we are aware of how bad trans fats are and they are being phased out of most of our foods.  However, until they are gone, we still need to keep an eye out for them.  The nutrition label may not state if a product contains trans-fat if it has less then 0.5 grams per serving, so look for the phrase “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredient list.

So what a guy or gal to do?

Don’t over think it. Remember keep it simple. Work on getting a balance of each type of fat.  Include nuts, seeds, fatty fish and pasture raised meats and eggs in your diet.  Avoid the processed fats typically found in fried foods, snack foods, chips etc.   Take a fish or algae oil supplement. Optimally you would want 1/3 of fat intake to come from each category saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (with most of that coming from omega 3s).  Right now there is a study for and against every type of fat.  Until more research is done, there is no need to avoid any one type (except for trans-fat) and just work on getting a balance of the different types.


[1]Volek J., Forsythe C. The case for not restricting saturated fat on a low carbohydrate diet. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2005; 2: 21. Published online 2005 Aug 31.

[2]Siri-Torino P, Sun Q,  Hu F, and Krauss R. Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar; 91(3): 502–509.

[3]Mozaffarian D, Katan MB, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 2006 Apr 13;354(15):1601-13.