Loving Your Food Choices.

What if I told you there IS such a thing as eating what you love and while maintaining a healthy weight? I get asked quite often, “what do you eat?”, and anytime I am at an event with clients or even a big family gathering where I am with people that don’t see me all that often, people are always SHOCKED to see that I pick up dessert. They can’t believe this REGISTERED DIETITIAN eats “bad food”???!!!

Let’s start there.  I hate the terms “good food, bad food”.  Anytime we label a food as “bad”, we automatically set ourselves up for putting ourselves down if we ever eat said food. Not cool. We are humans and we have taste buds that enjoy certain foods for a reason. Foods are meant to be enjoyed. And I absolutely enjoy dessert. Especially in chocolate form 🙂

That said, it always hurts me a little to see or hear people that think they need to eat “diet food” or “rabbit food” in order to lose weight. I’m sorry, but diet food doesn’t make sense and rabbit food sounds disgusting.  Part of the problem is that people throw around the word “diet” as an adjective (diet food) or a verb – “I am dieting” or “I need to go on a diet”, when we should really see it more as a noun. We all have diets. Your diet is simply the kind of food that you consume. The second you start throwing it around as something you “must do”, it becomes daunting. It becomes negative.

If weight loss or weight management is your goal, more than likely you will need to adjust your diet. The best thing to do is to start small. If someone currently consume zero vegetables, eats mostly fried foods and drinks little to no water (just an example), he/she probably shouldn’t take on a plant based diet where everything is steamed and he/she can only drink water. I mean, in all honestly, that sounds like a great way to eat, but it would not be practical for someone to make all of those drastic changes at once. Those changes MAY last a couple of weeks, IF THAT. That person will quickly begin to despise steamed and plant based foods and possibly even hate water, because they will miss what they used to eat so badly, they will throw the whole thing out the window and end up right back where they started. Not helpful.

Starting small is always key in anything we wish to change long-term. We must slowly build new habits, rather than trying to find quick-fixes or a way to change overnight. The most promising way to establish better habits is to take it one thing at a time. With that, it is also important to consider what you actually enjoy. In an attempt to change your diet, you certainly don’t want to force feed yourself something you hate. That will NEVER STICK. In trying to change behavior, we must enjoy the process.  If you know you want to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, but you hate salads, don’t eat salad. Simple as that. Find ways to prepare different vegetables in a way that you enjoy eating them. This could be in a stir-fry, mixed into soup, spiraled and turned into “noodles” or even just eating them raw with a light dip. Same with trying to stop a certain behavior. Find ways to gradually decrease the behavior you wish to stop. For example, if you are a soda drinker and wish to cut back, start by removing a couple sodas a week and replacing them with sparkling water. As you become comfortable with the cut back, cut back a little more. Always remember, those sodas will always be there if you REALLY want one, and you should never feel as though you cannot have them. The way you view the behavior change (and food!) will make all the difference.  As I mentioned previously, we want to make sure we aren’t labeling our foods as “good” or “bad”, but simply finding ways to enjoy food that will also nourish our bodies, and possibly, get us closer to our health and wellness goals.

I’m going to assume most people can relate to having told themselves they are not having sugar (or sodas, or fast food, or alcohol, etc.) for a predetermined amount of time. What did you wake up wanting? THAT EXACT FOOD….Right?? The moment we consider something off-limits, we crave it. It’s annoying, but it’s true  🙂  (Same with viewing a food as “diet food” or something similar. By labeling it as a something negative, you are setting yourself up to hate it.) You may very well wish to cut something cold turkey and be done, but that may not be the best route to take if you are wanting to make a long-term change. Instead, try assuring yourself that you can, in fact have that food/drink anytime you really want it. It will always be available.  If you are able to really listen to your body and focus on finding ways to enjoy food that also nourishes your body and leads you closer to your goals, you may realize you don’t crave those unhealthier items as much anyways.

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-Kristen

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Easy Peasy Stuffed Bell Peppers!

Happy Monday Y’all!

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted, but I’m working on a new post as we speak (type?).  Hopefully I will have it up for you all in the next day or two, but for now I wanted to share my dinner recipe from tonight! I just LOVE these stuffed peppers. So quick, easy and healthy. Hope you enjoy! I’ve included these in the Recipes section as well 🙂

 

Stuffed Chicken and Rice Bell Peppers

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Ingredients:

  • 4 large red bell peppers
  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Wash bell peppers, cut off the top and and clean out the insides. Set in a baking dish.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the ground chicken in the same skillet and brown.
  5. Add tomatoes, dried spices, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for additional 5 minutes.
  6. Add cookd rice and 1/4 cup cheese to chicken mixture and blend together.
  7. Stuff the mixture into each bell pepper – pack tightly.  Top each with remaining cheese.
  8. Bake the peppers for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Staying Motivated to Reach Your Goals

If you are the kind of person that sets a goal and accomplishes it no problem – no setbacks, obstacles, frustrations, doubt, etc. then you can stop reading now. However, if you have ever struggled to reach a goal you have set for yourself, then welcome. This post is for you. And you are not alone.

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I’m definitely the kind of person that likes goals. I like having something to work toward. (Yes – that means I’m also that girl that creates a to-do list that includes things I have already accomplished, just so that I can cross it off and feel good about myself). If you’ve never done that, I highly recommend it. #confidencebooster

I think setting goals is really important, because without them, we have nothing to strive for. I imagine life would be pretty dull if we never worked towards anything. I would bet that if you sat and thought about it for a minute, you could think of at least a few goals that you currently have somewhere in your mind. Goals you hope to achieve at some point in the future. The thing with goals is that, often times, people never reach them. Sometimes our goals overwhelm us. Sometimes we think of more as pipe dreams. And sometimes, I think we set goals because we know we are capable of so much more, yet we are scared to put in the actual work – for fear that we might fail. What a waste of time and energy that would be, right? (wrong)

I get it. I don’t like to fail either. Plus, not reaching a goal after putting so much time and energy towards it can be completely devastating and can suck all of the motivation out of you so that you have no self-confidence left.

Let’s discuss a new approach to setting goals so that we can increase our chances of achieving them.

First step after setting a new goal – Get Specific. Simply saying, “I want a new job” or “I want to lose weight” or “I want to run a 5k” isn’t specific enough. When a goal is that vague, it can be overwhelming to think about and it can leave you feeling like you have no idea how or where to even start. You need to get specific so you have ways to measure success along the way.

Let’s use the 5k as an example. In an attempt to get more specific, you might ask yourself, when do I wish to run this 5k? Is there a community event I will sign up for? Will I run this alone or with a friend? Do I plan on walking or running? Both? How far can I currently run? Do I have a finishing time I would like to achieve?  Answering these kind of questions will allow you to better map out a strategy for working towards this goal.

Second step – Break it Down. This is VERY important! Without breaking our ultimate goal down, we can feel that we have so much work ahead of us and can get easily frustrated with our progress or lack thereof, along the way. By breaking your goal down into smaller, bite-sized pieces that you know can handle, you are setting yourself up for success. I usually suggest setting goals that you know you can achieve in a week’s time (if not sooner). This is important because it allows us to celebrate small wins (or successes) along the way. This will keep our motivation up and help us remain confident in ourselves.

In terms of the 5k example, maybe we set a goal that we will run 3 times each week for the first month. Then break that down. The first week, we will focus on running for 20 minutes 3 times that week.  At the end of that week, assess how that went, and build upon it (or repeat that goal if necessary!) for the next week.  If the first week went well, maybe you bump up the length of your run by 5 minutes for each of the 3 runs. The key here is to just make sure you are setting smaller, easier goals that you know you can accomplish and build upon to ultimately be able to reach your end goal.

As I said, having goals is important, but can certainly be scary. Next time you set out to accomplish something, get specific with yourself, and then break it down so that you can celebrate small wins along the way. Set yourself up for success and celebrate each step! Celebrating your wins and building your self-confidence is a huge factor in being able to achieve great things!

 

I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your most recent goals?

 

-Kristen

 

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Healthy Chicken Enchiladas

Weekends are for dreaming about new dinner recipes to try throughout the week and then resorting to your usual, go-to recipes anyways. Well, usually….BUT NOT THIS WEEK! For the first time, maybe ever, I have 3 new recipes lined up for this week! WHOOP! One of which was already made and consumed and It. Was. A. SUCCESS. Too good not to share. 🙂 If you like Mexican food, you will LOVE the enchilada recipe below. They are SUPER easy and totally yummy (I’m all about easy dinners!)  I love enchiladas but I haven’t actually eaten them in years because if you order them at restaurants they are drowning in heavy sauces, cheese, oil and cream and they seemed to difficult to make at home.  I’m serious when I say I want EASY.  The tortillas I used for these I happened to stumble across in our grocery store – so hopefully you can find them (or something very similar!) as the nutrition fiber and protein content is fantastic and they tasted amazing. And only 90 calories for each MASSIVE tortilla! They are literally the size of my entire face. How do they do it?!

In addition to the winner winner chicken enchilada dinner I made tonight, I also would like to brag about the fact that I walked out of the grocery store with NOTHING more than what we needed for the next few days of lunches and dinners. This never happens, people!! Ok, I did buy ONE donut for Jackson only because if he isn’t occupied with stuffing his face full of sugar while I shop, then I wouldn’t ever make it home with anything other than probably a few bottles of wine. #dropthegrocerycartandsurrender am I right? Jackson had about 2 weeks of his life a while back where he was happy sitting in the cart. Not no mo.

ANYWAYS….

Most of my recipes are inspired by ones I find on Pinterest and then I just modify them as necessary to make them as healthy and tasty as possible 🙂 Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!!

 

Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans salsa verde
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro (plus a little extra for serving)
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (today I used pre-shredded seasoned chicken because I was feeling lazy)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 6 tortillas (I used low-carb, whole wheat tortillas – see below)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil and garlic in skillet on medium heat for about 1 minute. Stir in salsa verde and cook for another minute, until heated through.
  2. Remove skillet from heat and stir in sour cream and cilantro. Taste – add more sour cream or salt/pepper to taste. Set aside 1 cup of the sauce.
  3. Stir the shredded chicken and half of the cheese (1/2 cup) into the sauce in the skillet.
  4. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and spread a small amount of the reserved sauce on the bottom of the dish. Add about 1/3 cup of the chicken filling to the middle of each tortilla and roll up into an enchilada. Set inside the baking dish and repeat for all 6 enchiladas, setting them side by side (seam-side down) in the dish.
  5. Top with remaining sauce and cheese. Cover in foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  6. Top with fresh cilantro (optional) and serve!!

 

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-Kristen

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Why I Stopped Counting Calories

Calorie Counting.

I used to be a religious calorie counter. I counted every calorie that I put into my body. If I didn’t know how many calories were in it, I wouldn’t eat it. I guess that’s the result of studying dietetics for 6 years. Dietitians are trained to count calories. For years, I learned to count every gram of protein, carbohydrate and fat in any given meal.  There are, of course, benefits to being able to understand how many calories you are consuming, and for some people it is necessary to do so in order to attain certain health goals. But for now, I’ve kicked calorie counting to the curb.

So why did I stop counting? Don’t I care about what I’m putting in my body? Of course I do. For me, though, calorie counting consumed me. For years, I wasn’t able to go out to dinner and actually enjoy my meals. I was too concerned with trying to determine what meal I could order that would be “within a decent calorie count”. While everyone else was ordering based on what sounded good to them, I was ordering based on the caloric density. Again, this is not necessarily a BAD thing, but I cared ONLY about the total number of calories (and grams of fat) and not at all about how that food would taste to me. Not exactly a fun way to live life, but as a dietitian it was just engrained in my brain. Numbers. Calories. Grams.

While counting calories is not something I do much anymore, I do still recommend it for some.  Everyone is in a different place in his or her journey to health and everyone’s destination is different. If you are someone that has never paid attention to calories in your life and you are needing to make some significant dietary changes, I may recommend tracking your intake for a few days simply to get an idea of where your intake stands compared to where it should be. Alternatively, if you are someone that is already pretty lean, but are looking to lean out a little bit more, or chase some specific fitness goals, again, I might recommend tracking your intake, as the ratio of your macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) might need some modification. Whether or not I recommend calorie counting also depends on the personality type of a person. If you are the type of person that might become consumed by hitting every certain number right on the head, I’d steer clear from this. Calorie counting can lead to obsessive behavior and that’s not a path we want to head down.

As mentioned, I do still pay attention to the food I am eating. Now, however, I pay attention to the full nutritional value as well as how I will feel when I am eating it. Will I enjoy it, or will I resent it for not being a cheeseburger if that’s what I really want? Will I be satisfied after I eat it, or will I still be searching for something to curb my actual craving? It is important to me that I choose my meals based on the fact that it will meet all of my needs – it will fuel my body with lots of healthy nutrients, it will work with my metabolism and immune system and not against it, and I will enjoy it. If it checks all 3 boxes, it’s a winner.

 

Additional reasons NOT to focus on counting every calorie:

  • Labels can be WRONG.

Did you know that nutrition labels are legally allowed to have a 20% margin for error?! So, what you thought was 200 calories could actually be 240! YIKES! That can add up quickly!

 

  • Not all calories are created equally.

America is a nation of compulsive dieters, yet we are known for being FAT. If we are always dieting, then what is going wrong? We are focused on quantity rather than quality. Newsflash – you can’t actually eat 1200 calories worth of Twinkies and think you #nailedit because you hit your calorie count for the day. #don’tkillthemessenger. You would be missing out on key nutrients that are crucial for keeping a healthy metabolism.

The composition of your diet actually impacts the amount of calories you burn! Also, if you are counting calories and trying keep those as low as possible, you are probably cutting out fat (since fat comes in at 9 calories per gram vs protein and carbohydrates which are only 4 calories per gram). Cutting out fat means you are consuming more carbs and guess what? Too many carbs leads to stored fat. Have mercy.

 

  • Focusing on calories means we might be depriving ourselves of essential nutrients.

As mentioned above, fat is much more calorie-dense than its friends, carbs and protein. Because of this, when people start counting calories, their fat intake drops super low because they see how quickly their calories add up when they eat it. Low-fat diets are essential for some people, and may even be part of a heart healthy lifestyle, but only when the fats that ARE consumed are the heart healthy kind 😉  We cannot deprive our hearts and our brains of the essential fats and expect to live a long, healthy life.

 

  • Time consuming.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of extra time in my days to spend on punching in numbers to determine whether or not I have enough calories in my “bank”. My days are busy enough, thank you! Counting calories definitely takes time, and although it does get easier the more time you spend doing it (aka. You start to memorize certain calorie counts for certain foods), I personally prefer to use that time to spend enjoying life rather than stressing out over number crunching J

 

So – spend less time doing math and more time enjoying good food that fuels your body and soul. 🙂 🙂  Here’s to a new week of good health!

 

Some of my most recent meals… (you might notice I ❤ tacos and burgers) 🙂

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Chicken Tacos
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Taco Salad
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Ground Chicken Cheeseburger, Cabbage Steak and Roasted Cauliflower Rice
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Roasted Chicken and Veggies
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Ground Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers
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Lettuce-Wrapped Chicken Cheeseburger and Broccoli Tots

 

-Kristen

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#1 Diva.

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written.  Just been busy, I guess. I’ve done a lot of *thinking* about writing up a new post – does that count for anything? Since I last posted, I ran the Diva Half Marathon, which if there are any runners/walkers out there – you MUST run one of these races. They host both the 5k and half marathon and they are just so much fun!  As the name suggests, it’s full of “diva”-ness. Upon picking up your race bib, you get a pink tutu (I never wear this, but of course I take it…).  Then, as you are finishing the race, someone throws a pink boa around your neck and puts a tiara on your head (so you look pretty for your finish line pic) and then a (shirtless) firefighter is at the finish line to greet you with some champs and your medal (also a tiara theme).  PRETTY. FREAKING. FABULOUS.

My ultimate goal for this race was to PR with a 1:35 (my best half marathon time was 1:38), and to try to come in first place overall. It’s a smaller race so I thought if I really worked on my speed I could MAYBE pull it off. Breaking the tape is what runners dream about J I had some knee issues pop up in January and it put a damper on my training for this race.  I didn’t get to run as much as I had planned for and when I did run, I really couldn’t push my pace or it irritated my knee more. Going into this race, I just wanted to be able to finish it and be healthy. WOMP.

Fast forward to race day, and I’ve got a respiratory infection of some sort, a cold front has come in and is blowing 30 mph cold winds and I have no idea how my knee will respond to what I’m about to put it through. At the start of the race, I took off and told myself I would just give it my all for as long as I could and just see what happens.  If my knee got angry I would just listen to my body and do what I needed to do to not end up crippled at the end of the day.  Naturally, my pace started out faster than I had planned but it felt good so I just went with it.  I followed the motorcycle cop the whole way. Those winds were brutal and not at all fun but I didn’t feel any pain in my knee and I told myself if I was going to win a race, it had to be this one. I had been in first the whole way (until a random DUDE passed me up around mile 9, which caught me off guard, because this is a DIVA race…?). Note – this race DOES allow everyone (and everything?) to run this race, as this is 2017 and nobody dares to exclude anyone from anything for any reason whatsoever. What they do dare to do, however, is exclude “male divas” from winning any awards, so it’s like he wasn’t even there. 🙂 🙂 🙂 #sorrynotsorry.  I fought every step of that race, against the winds, and through some serious coughing that made me feel like I was going to throw up and  yet, somehow, I WON THE RACE!!! WINNER WINNER CHICKEN (SOUP) DINNER! (Remember, that dude didn’t exist in this race’s books) #notmad.

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Since this race, I keep getting emails about the Houston Marathon and I have to say it’s making me question my decision not to sign up for 2018.  Not having a marathon to train for soon is quite confusing. #idontknowwhattodowithmyhands (#orlegsrather)  I have until the end of this month to use my time for guaranteed entry… Stay tuned. :/

Hope you enjoyed a nice little race recap – all typed while I sit here in the airport on a delay out of Houston to get to San Francisco! We should be leaving here at some point tonight 😉

My next post will be a little more educational!  I plan to write about why counting calories may not be your best strategy for losing weight 🙂

-Kristen

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Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Hi Guys!! Hope you had a blessed Easter!

As of today (day after Easter), my husband and I are trying to clean up our diet a little bit more.  Nutritionally speaking, the craziness of life has gotten the best of us a little bit. I had actually noticed that I had let full days go by where I had eaten very few, if any, fruits or vegetables and my protein intake consisted mostly of protein bars (YIKES!). Yes, this happens to dietitians! BUT, I have realized it and now my husband and I are making the conscious effort to CLEAN IT UP. WOOT! For the next 3 weeks, we have actually challenged ourselves to cut out wheat, dairy and refined sugar to ensure we are consuming the most nutrients and decreasing inflammation in our bodies. Our diet will include lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein.

Tonight, I modified a recipe for Chicken Soup I found and it was DELICIOUS! I had to share!! This can also be found in the Recipes Section! Bon Apetite!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/5 pounds rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli
  • 2 ½ cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas
  • ¼ cups chopped parsley
  • 4-5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Complete Seasoning
  • Salt, pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, sauté olive oil, garlic, onion and celery until softened.
  2. Add chicken broth, carrots, crushed red pepper and tsp of salt. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add peas, broccoli, Complete Seasoning and parsley. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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ENJOY!

-Kristen

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