Essential Sports Nutrition


National Nutrition Month & a day I'll never forget

What a great message for the 2013 National Nutrition Month theme: "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day." According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the theme "encourages personalized healthy eating styles* and recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all impact individual food choices. Registered dietitians play a critical role in helping people eat right, their way, every day."

Forget about diet fads, food trends and extreme dietary modifications. This is the month that you can start learning about your own needs and making changes that make YOUR body happy.

If you are new to my blog, you may not know that I have only been a RD since June 2011. It was a loooooonngggg journey of becoming a RD and I have many of blogs to remind me of the dedication and time (and money) that was required to earn my RD credential. Prior to my RD journey, I was enjoying life as a post-graduate student, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology. In May of this year, I will be submitting my CEU's for the state of Florida to maintain my license status as a RD. It has been an enjoyable journey over the past 5 years or so as I have learned so much about the human body as well as helping others reach personal goals.

In honor of National Nutrition Month, here are a few blogs that I did as dietetic student, dietetic intern and as a RD. The passion never went away (it only grew stronger), however, my knowledge as a nutrition "professional" has grown tremendously and I am absolutely loving my credential and all the information I have learned along the way.

March 2011
March 2009

I wanted to share one blog that has really stayed with me over the years. I believe that in life, we are constanly challenged by society. Often times, we feel pressure to fit in and doing the "right" thing can be confusing. Food can be very a tough issue for so many people and as a RD, there is a constant pressure to give a quick fix to make someone happy or to follow the masses and to not be an outcast. There can also be pressure to be extreme, to stand-out and to break the mold. Lastly, there is pressure to give people what they want, even if it compromises your own beliefs, thoughts and philosophy. 

Seeing that the theme of NNM this year is "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day", it seemed appropriate for me to share this story with everyone again as one day I'll never forget......a day that I was hoping would inspire and motivate others


You aren't eating celery???

Celery isn't the most cravable food. There are those who love celery and those who - well, hate it. Their words, not mine as I am a lover of celery.
I suppose there isn't much to hate about it as it doesn't provide many calories and it is quite tasteless but for some reason, celery isn't the choice when it comes to needing something to snack on throughout the day.

In my recent article for, in my new column "The Triathlete's Kitchen" I choose celery for the reason that it may be neglected in the athlete's/fitness enthusiasts diet. I find celery to be a remarkable food for what it offers the body and the creation I made (Celery, Apple and Strawberry Salad with Coconut Yogurt) is so delicious that you don't need to be sold on the health benefits of celery to add this veggie to your daily diet.

Here's the article and recipe:


Also - I just finished a 4-month journey with News Anchor Melanie Lawson-Minor. If you are someone who feels stuck and needs some motivation in changing body composition, getting fitter and improving the diet, check out Melanie's story. I had a great time working with Melanie as she was part of the Baptist Heartwise for Women program which involved getting herself screened for her cardiovascular health, taking part in regular exercise and learning more about nutrition. I was not alone in her journey as there are several of us (RDs, RN's, MD's) that are dedicated to changing the lives of women in the Jacksonville community.

Here are the most recent TV segments:
Big reveal: Part 1
Big reveal: Part 2



Mediterranean eating - it's not about off-limit food

A big thanks to the Today Show for sharing the recent significant research on adopting a more plant strong diet! I really like that the focus was on addressing what "we" should be eating more of rather than talking about bad or off-limit foods. This makes it easier to change eating habits without feeling like you are sticking to a food-controlled diet. Hopefully there will be a follow-up study on adopting a more Mediterranean lifestyle which includes finding the right balance between work, sleep, exercise, food and friends/family. It’s about slowing down at meal times, not rushing life, staying active (moving the body) and enjoying it all through fresh, wholesome foods, enjoyed with family and friends.

Today show segment

For dinner last night I took use of a few spices in my kitchen. This is just a few of the many herbs and spices that I use with my meals - from morning to night. If you aren't adding herbs and spices to your daily diet, watch this video and you will be convinced.
I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Greger speak at the 2012 Florida Dietetic Association conference and I was blown away by his knowledge and passion for whole foods. 

I hope you enjoy my plant-strong creation that was enjoyed by Karel and myself last night. We both YUMMMMM'd our way through dinner as it was packed with flavor!

Best part about this don't have to "cook". Allow 10 minutes of prep and 45-50 minutes of cooking (use your time by catching up on emails, laundry or stretch your tight hip flexors) and you will have a delicious dinner that is perfect to keep your heart and tummy happy.

Feel free to use your own choice of protein.

Fresh garlic (chopped)
Lentil and bean mix
Wild rice
Olive oil
Tumeric, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion flakes, pepper

1. On stove top, cook lentil and bean mix according to package (allow around an hour for this). I used a baggy of raw lentils/beans and prepared 1/2 bag.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Wash and chop head of cauliflower.
4. Chop off stems (about 1 inch) of asparagus, wash and steam in microwave in shallow dish w/ a little water (I set on vegetable setting).
5. Chop garlic and slice tempeh into 1 inch strips.
6. Cook rice according to package (I used boxed wild rice w/ seasoning packet and only used 1/4 package of seasoning) - allow 8-10 minutes for cooking.
6. Place chopped cauliflower (in large pieces) on baking dish and toss in a few tsp of olive oil. Season with spices to your liking (I used tumeric, garlic powder, pepper, red pepper flakes)
7. On separate baking dish place asparagus and tempeh. Drizzle asparagus with a little olive oil (then toss) and sprinkle chopped garlic (about 2-3 cloves). Season with onion flakes.
8. Bake for 40-50 minutes for cauliflower to turn soft and slightly golden. Asparagus will be done around 35-40 minutes (should be soft and tempeh should be firm and golden brown).

9. Assemble your plant strong plate - add more seasonings to your liking and yum away!


Move outside of the diet comfort zone

I absolutely love this quote. I think we are all guilty of feeling comfortable in our comfort zone. Although we don't recognize the need to change right at this moment, it isn't until we are open to the idea of change (whether it is necessary or not) that we find it easier to learn more about what we are capable of achieving. Although not everything works out perfectly when you try something new, it is the ability to not fear change that is so very powerful.

Over the past few years, I have worked with athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all ages, levels of fitness and with all types of personal health, fitness and diet goals. I love my job in that no two individuals are alike. 

One thing I have learned is that a small change can make a big effect on how a person lives, makes choices and acts. To not approach training or the diet as "black or white" or all-or-none can be hard as everyone wants a quick fix. However, I believe in making small changes and not changing everything at once. In reviewing the many success stories of athletes and fitness enthusiasts that I have worked with, it has been small, consistent changes that have allowed individuals to move closer to reaching their personal goals.

I have seen a lot of different styles of eating and training and of course, my first thought is "a lot needs to be changed". But that is not my approach to helping a person change their lifestyle. If a lot needs to be changed, I start with a few small changes that are practical, realistic and meaningful. Changes that can be felt and acknowledged. Changes that can impact how a person feels so they are more inclined to keep that change and to want to make other changes to feel just as good.

Here are a few easy, simple changes that you may want to try in your daily routine. These are changes that I have helped others with and they have noticed dramatic results in how they live, eat and train/exercise.

-Instead of pre-packaged flavored oatmeal, use 1/2 cup plain oatmeal and add your own berries, healthy fat (ex. PB, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, oil, nuts, seeds) and your choice of protein (powder, milk, yogurt).
-Add a salad to your lunch meal. If you currently eat a salad for lunch, be sure it is a satisfying "meal".
-Add intervals into your exercise/training routine.
-Ask yourself how much time you have a day to train for an athletic event after you factor in meal prep, work, sleep, commuting, family/friends time, etc. There is no "perfect" number of hours/miles you need to train per week.
-Train for time, not miles.
-Aim for 20-30g of protein per meal.
-Don't forget to include a healthy fat in your meal to help keep you satisfied.
-Honor your hunger, don't watch the clock.
-Fuel frequently during workouts and recognize when your body needs fuel (be proactive) instead of waiting until x-minutes or x-miles passing by.
-If your spouse/significant other doesn't understand your active lifestyle, keep in mind that we can have similar lifestyles but different passions. Not everyone has to be a triathlete, runner, etc.
-Don't lecture others about food. Inspire with your choices and actions.
-Set goals for yourself in the areas of life, exercise and diet.
-Add variety with your meal choices every 2-3 days.
-Add more color to your diet.
-Replace, not eliminate. Focus on more nutrient-dense, whole foods.
-Enjoy your occasional treats - make them count and feel better after you eat them than before.
-Don't be afraid to cook.
-Make time for meal-prep.
-If it isn't in the house you can't eat it (this goes for cookies and for dark leafy greens)