Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Menu round ???

Another day another meal.  Another week another menu.  Each time I cook for my clients I not only decrease how long it actually takes me to cook but my productivity increases! For instance, I even make  food for myself! Crazy idea, I know!  Due to deadlines and work, and life happening I tend to stay very busy with only a few days that are my cooking days.  I cook for hours on end. Every pot, every pan, every tupperware container is used.  Every knife, fork and spoon are also used....partly for taste testing of course.  Due to tasting some of my meals, especially the ones that I am newly creating, I am always tasting them to make sure its just right. Due to cooking and tasting my desire to cook for myself goes down.  Even though I may not always make the meals shown below for myself I never sacrifice having a good, healthy meal at the end of eat day and neither should you.

Latest Dishes

Tortilla Soups

Grilled Southwest Pasta Salad

Chicken Breast with Spicy Peach Glaze and Garlic Rosemary Potatoes 

Vegetable Lasagna

Spicy Turkey Burger with Grilled Vegetable Medley 


Friday, July 12, 2013

The "SKINNY" on FAT!


Overweight and obesity = Unhealthy 

Normal body weight = Healthy 

However, research in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)has shown that an individual can be overweight and fit or thin and fat.  What this means is that an individual who caries more weight around their mid section but workouts out regularly may actually have a higher percentage of muscle mass and lower percentage of fat mass compared to an individual who is by definition, normal body weight per body mass index (weight in kilograms over heigh in inches squared)  of <24.9.

The medical term for being "skinny fat" --under lean but over fat -- is called Metabolically Obese Normal Weight (MONW).  Thereby, research has found that it is actually better to be fat and fit than thin and out of shape.

As for 2012, 68% of the American population is overweight where most have pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes already. It is also known that nearly 1 in 4 skinny people also have pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.  The problem with being "Skinny Fat" is that once a skinny person becomes diagnosed with diabetes, they have twice the risk of death than if they were overweight when diagnosed with diabetes. In the study published in JAMA it was shown that those individuals who were diagnosed as "Skinny Fat" had a higher mortality rate for cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular deaths.   The thought is that individuals who are overweight have a greater percentage of muscle mass even if they do not regularly workout as the muscle mass they have to help carry their extra pounds may actually have a protective effect.

Signs of pre-diabetes include:  
  •      High Blood Pressure
  •      High Blood Sugar
  •      High Cholesterol

Insulin is also a main factor when learning if someone is diabetic or not.  Insulin is a fat storage hormone where it stores belly fat and leads to hormonal and metabolic changes that cause muscle loss and inflammation. 
So now what? 
Now it is time start preventing yourself from becoming "Skinny Fat".  To begin, start by seeing your doctor and asking for a blood test to test:
  • Fasting blood sugar (normal less than 90 mg/dl)
  • Triglycerides (normal less than 100 mg/dl)
  • HDL (good cholesterol (normal >60mg/dl))
  • Blood Pressure (normal less than 120/80)
  • Insulin Response Test (needs to be requested) 

What YOU can do....TODAY? 

 1) Make 1/2 your carbohydrates Whole Wheat --> Whole wheat should be the first ingredient listed on the nutritional facts label

2) Power up with Protein --> Make sure each meal and snack has a source of protein such as nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, etc. 

3)  Don't drink your calories --> Avoid juices, sodas, and only occasional alcohol. 

4) Avoid added sugars --> Start reading the nutrition facts label to see if and where sugar is added to a product. If sugar is listed toward the top in the list of ingredients, it is made with a lot of added sugar and should be put back on the shelf.

5) Avoid highly processed foods --> Highly processed foods are high in fat, sodium, and sugar and should be avoided when at all possible. 

6) Eat an array of colors from fruits and vegetables --> Colorful fruits and vegetables provide an array of needed vitamins and minerals. 

7) Include omega-3's --> Consume oily fish such as Salmon, walnut, and olive oil. 

8) Start moving --> Start a workout plan that not only includes cardio but weights as well to help increase muscle mass. 

9) Take supplements --> Take a multivitamin to help maintain proper nutrition as nobody eats the same and receives all their daily requirements of vitamins and minerals every day. 

10)  Sleep --> Sleeping 7-8 hours per night can help people lose weight as it restores your metabolism by decreasing cravings for carbohydrates.

Huffington Post

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

To salt or not to salt....that is the question!

High salt (sodium) diets have been linked to a number of health risks, such as hypertension. 

However, individuals who are avid exercisers that not only exercise at a high intensity but also in the heat may actually need salt in their diet.  Heavy sweating during exercise combined with heat exposure commonly produces fluid deficits corresponding to 1-8% loss in body mass. 

Two things can happen to athletes under such conditions of high heat and heavy sweating. 
    1) Hyponatremia (decreased sodium in the blood)
    2) Lack of proper hydration

Over the last 20 years, it was recommended for endurance athletes to consume as much fluid as possible before, during, and after exercise.  Unfortunately, these recommendations caused many athletes to become hyponatremic.  Hyponatremia is caused when individuals over-ingest water during exercise lasting more than 4 hours. It is not likely to be a major risk factor for the general population.  However, precaution should be taken for those individuals that are ultra-endurance athletes, people with occupational physically active jobs, and prolonged heat exposure while being physically active. 

The thought use to be that exercise leads to sodium losses and heat cramps.  Research, however, refuted this argument to find that the main nutrient lost during heavy sweating is WATER.  Sweating during high intensity athletic events may cause an individual to lose up to 3 liters per hour under hot and humid conditions. In knowing this, recent studies have shown that when water is consumed, the volume ingested needs to exceed the fluid deficit by approximately 150%. This means an individual needs to drink 4.5 liters of water per hour of exercise done needs to help compensate for sweat and uninary losses.  

When it comes to the consumption of Sports Drinks, its best to avoid when exercise lasts less than an hour and is not continuous exercise in a hot and humid environment.  Reason for this is that nobody needs the extra calories from the sugar put into these drinks.  Additionally, if an individual consumes a well balanced diet, the added electrolytes may not entirely help you but rather, you will dispose of the electrolytes through your urine.

However, inclusion of sodium and other electrolytes in the form of sports drink, may be consumed when an individual is doing continuous, high intense exercise for over an hour.  The purpose of Sports Drinks are to help rehydrate an individuals body quickly and help to improve performance and productivity.  This is accomplished through a well balanced mix of water, sugar (carbohydrates), and salts (electrolytes). 

To recap: Drink water first, and sports drinks second!  

Sodium-Salt-Needed for Ultra-Endurance Athletes
By Elizabeth Quinn

Role of Sodium in Fluid Homeostasis 
By: Rick L. Sharp
J Am Coll Nutrvol. 25 no. suppl 3 231S-239S

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Baby, Lets Move!

Put your feet up, relax, don't move a muscle.  No, not you........ but rather, the one who is "eating for two."

"Eating for two" and not being physically active while pregnant is a thing of the past.  New research has shown that exercising is healthy and benefitical to both the mother and the child, especially when it come to cardiovascular health.

During pregnancy, exercise can:
     -Ease or prevent back pain and other discomforts
     -Boost your energy level
     -Prevent excess weight gain
     -Reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure and postpartum
     -Increase stamina and muscle strength, which helps prepare for labor
     -Increase cardiovascular health in both baby and mother by having a lower heart rate

What exercises should and can be done: 
     -30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week
     -Walking (beginners)
     -Jogging (if already a runner)
     -Weight training as along as heavy lifting is avoided


Myth: Never Get your heart rate above 130 beats per minute. 
Fact: There is no target heart rate for women while pregnant. Best way to determine if you are working too hard or not hard enough is that you should be able to talk while exercising.  If you can't make a full sentence without catching your breath, its okay as long as you are not over exerting yourself.

Myth: It is not safe to do abdominal work while pregnant. 
Fact: Working your abdominals may actually help strengthen the pelvic floor but also help with the pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery. However, exercises on your back should be avoided after the first trimester.

Myth: Pregnancy can make you more prone to injury. 
Fact: During pregnancy the body produces a hormone called relaxin which is made to lubricate joints.  Therefore, it is best to avoid deep muscle or joint movements such as: heavy lunges and squats.

Myth: If you exercises too much during pregnancy, it will pull nutrients from the baby. 
Fact: The reality is that the baby is going to get what it needs.  When exercising hard you will dip into your own nutrients stores without hurting the babies growth. Rather, babies of mothers who exercise during pregnancy are born learner with a better cardiovascular system.

Myth: If you have never exercises before, now is not the time to start. 
Fact: It is better to start now than to never start at all.  Start exercising by doing something small, 10 minutes a day, such as going on a walk.  Once you build up your stamina you can start walking for longer durations at a higher intensity and frequency. By exercising it will not only help combat fatigue of pregnancy but it will also help you sleep better at time.

In the end, get moving and stay moving.....your body, baby and husband will thank you! 

Dedicated to my clients who are expecting their first child!  Congratulations L.O. and K.M.! 

   The New York Times

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Menu design is hard.  Our nature is to eat the same thing most days of the week.
My menu tends to include:

Breakfast: Greek Yogurt, Berries, Granola
Snack: Apple with PB2 peanut butter
Lunch: Tuna or Turkey Sandwich with raw veggies
Dinner: Fish taco's or Salmon Salad

One of the hardest things I have learned from being a personal chef is how to make different dishes or creative ways to make an ordinary dish into something new. On my quest to recipe perfection, here are my latest creations.

Grilled Curry Shrimp with Mango Couscous

Pan Seared Scallops with Cucumber Salad

Pork Chili with Red Garlic Potatoes

Panko Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Rice Pilaf

 Tikka Masala with Rice

Enjoy and feel free to share other recipes or ideas that you, your friends, and your family enjoy!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Inflamed about Inflammation?

Darn knife.  Cut me as I was trying to cut a tomato that slipped out from underneath me.

If you're anything like me you cut yourself often; sometimes without even know it.  Since I do not want to draw attention to myself, especially in public,  I tend to play it off as if nothing happened.  Next thing I know, my cut becomes red, warm, swollen, and painful.  These symptoms are associated with inflammation, the body's response to injury and infection.  Since I am healthy my body responds to inflammation well and my cut was healed within a few days.

However, have you ever had a cut or a bruise that lasted a lot longer than usual? If so, there could be a long list of reasons as to why the cut or bruise cant or wont heal.  One of those reasons could be due to something called Chronic Inflammation. 

What about the inflammation that we cant see?  How does our body respond and heal? 

When your body is in a constant state of inflammation its termed, Chronic Inflammation.  The cause of chronic inflammation varies from person to person, but includes:
    -Being overweight
    -Experiencing high levels of stress
    -Lack of exercise
    -Lack of sleep
    -Sedentary lifestyle

When the immune response is never "shut off" due to these causes, there is a constant production of immune cells that can lead to permanent damage such as:
    -Heart Disease

Don't fret, however! Just because we have days where we are stressed to the max, don't sleep, or have the energy to exercise does not mean we are going to develop a chronic disease.  Rather, we have the ability to help protect our bodies to help heal quicker from some such incidences.

The foods we choose to eat -- or not to eat -- is the key! 

Consuming a fair share of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and omega-3 fatty acids have been suggested to have anti-inflammatory properties.  The association between food and inflammation is still being studied but here is a list of foods to avoid to keep inflammation and illness at bay.

     1) Trans Fats
           -Can induce inflammation by damaging the cells in the lining of blood vessels.
     2) Sugar
           -Too much sugar can alter the body to send out extra immunity messengers, called cytokines.
     3) White Bread
           -White bread and pasta breaks down quickly into sugar, and it turn leads to inflammation.
           -Diets high in refined grains lead to a greater concentration of a certain inflammation marker in
             the blood.
    4) Red Meat
           - Animal fat has been linked to inflammation as saturated fat creates inflammation naturally
                through arachidonic acid.
    5) Alcohol
           - Alcohol naturally irritates our insides by allowing bacteria to pass easily through the intestinal
    6) Omega-6 Fatty Acids
           - Greater amount of omega-6's to omega-3's can lead to inflammation.
    7) Milk
           - Low-fat dairy can guard against inflammation, however whole milk is still high in saturated fat
               and thereby can trigger an inflammatory reaction.
    8) MSG: Monosodium Glutamate 
           -Is a preservative & flavor enhancer that is still being researched for its inflammatory properties.
    9) Gluten
           - People who are not diagnosed with Celiac Disease report feeling better after eliminating
               Gluten from their diet.  Possible reasons for this is due to Gluten's ability to cause bloating
               which is an inflammatory response.
   10) Cooking Oils
           - Safflower, soy, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed oils may promote inflammation as they may
               be made with cheaper ingredients.

     1) Wild Alaskan Salmon
            -Contains omega-3's.  Try to consume oily fish twice weekly.
     2) Kelp
            -High in fiber that helps control liver and lunge cancer.
     3) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
            - This oil provides a healthy dose of fat that fights inflammation.
     4) Cruciferous Vegetables
            -Broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower are loaded with antioxidants.
     5) Blueberries
            -Not only reduce inflammation, but they can protect the brain from again and prevent diseases.
     6) Tumeric
            -Is a powerful Asian spice that contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound, cur cumin.
     7) Ginger
           -Helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar.
     8) Garlic
           -May help reduce inflammation, regulate glucose and help your body fight infection.
     9) Green Tea
           -Contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
   10) Sweet Potato
          -Great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, beta-carotene, manganese, and vitamin B6 and C.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Finding someone who is Vegan is no longer far and few between.  However, being vegan is more than just abstaining from the use of animal products by way of consumption and product use.  Some vegans also abstain from consuming eggs and dairy products as they come from animals.  Vegan diets tend to be high in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, and plant based sources of iron.  The diet tends to also be low in saturated fat, cholesterol, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and B vitamins.  However, being vegan does not necessarily mean that your diet will be low in calories. 

Currently, one of my clients is a Raw Vegan. What that means is that the diet combines the concepts of being a vegan in addition to a raw foodism. By being a Raw Vegan, all foods and products of animal origin or foods that have been cooked at a temperature above 104 degrees fahrenheit are eliminated from the diet. Rather, foods are eaten fresh, dehydrated and with low heat or fermentation. The thought is that by heating foods it diminishes its nutrients, makes the food toxic and is therefore less digestible. 

Misconceptions about being Raw Vegan include:

1) Cooking Destroys Nutrients

Cooking food does not destroy nutrients but rather can help release nutrients that would otherwise be unavailable by being in the raw state.  For example, by cooking tomatoes it increases the absorption of the antioxidant lycopene by five-folds.  Similarly, when carrots are cooked the beta-carotene, Vitamin A, is more available for the body to absorb.  In addition, cooking vegetables can reduce certain chemicals in vegetables that inhibit the absorption of mineral such as zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.  Admittedly, some nutrients are lost in cooking but this is minimal in comparison to how many nutrients are in fruits and vegetables.  

2) Cooking Destroys Enzymes

Yes, heat destroys enzymes.  However, humans make their own digestive enzymes to break food down into smaller and more digestible components.  Additionally, most plant enzymes in raw foods become destroyed due to the acid in the gut. Plants also have their own set of enzymes which causes enzymatic browning of fruit as shown below. 

3) Raw Foods are Detoxifying

Detoxing is an alternative medicine concept where the idea is that the liver and colon carry toxins.  In actuality, the colon is relatively low in toxins as is the liver.  One of the liver's jobs is to process chemicals where is breaks down toxins as they are passed through this organ. Therefore, a detox may not be doing what you think and/or want it to do. But instead, deplete nutrients in the body and enzymatic activity. 

4) Raw Veganisim is Healthy

From a clinical standpoint, the most dangerous part of being a raw vegan is having nutritional deficiencies, particularly vitamin B12, D, selenium, wind, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. To be a raw vegan it is recommended that supplements of these nutrients, through a multivitamin and an additional B complex, be taken on a regular basis.   Another consideration when being a raw vegan is tooth decay.  When consuming an extremely high volume of fruit, teeth can erode due to the acids and the sugar in the fruit.  

To recap: Nutritional Deficiencies are of a concern when following a Raw Vegan diet.  The nutrient to be most aware of is vitamin B12 as raw vegans can become deficient, which can lead to anemia and neurodegenerative diseases.  Therefore, if you decide to become or already are a raw vegan, make sure you do your research and fortify your diet with protein powders, nuts, nut butters (as B12 is naturally occurring in protein sources such as shellfish), a multivitamin and a vitamin B12 complex.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Homemade Chef

Flour fights in the kitchen while the parents are away?
Eating batter by the spoonfuls out of the bowl? 
Taste testing every dish before it hits the table?

Sound familiar?  

It does to me as this is how I began my cooking and baking adventure back in elementary and middle school.  Easy Bake Oven step aside, I wanted the real thing...the stove/oven!

Cooking and baking goods for others to enjoy has long been a passion of mine.  It all started in the kitchen as a child as my mother would tell me stories of how her and her mother used to make certain dishes together such as Zwieback, a German Sweet Bread.  I would see my mothers face light up when she would recall the memories she had cooking and eating what her now departed mother used to make.  As a child, I sensed that there was some kind of connection my mother had with not only her mother but the food her mother made.  Since then,  I wanted to be like my mother when she was a child.  I wanted those found memories of creating and making great tasting recipes in the kitchen along side the one who knows it best, my mother. As a child I was lucky as the majority of our produce and meat came from my parents garden and my uncles cow's, pigs, chickens, etc.  I didn't know processed foods or the norm of eating out several times a week.  Rather, I knew what mother taught me, how to make and eat wholesome food from scratch.

After many belly aches and splatter burns, I believe I have a pretty decent handle on how to make healthier food taste delicious. Without further a duo, here are some of the dishes I have made clients as a Homemade Personal Chef.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Turkey Quinoa and Red Pepper Aioli 

Turkey Fried Rice

Crab Salad with Tomatoes

Spicy Shrimp and Rice Soup

Baked French Toast with Cinnamon Streusel 

Recipes to come but first, I need to write them down myself!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hard Work = Big Rewards

3.1, 6.2, 13.1....17? 

If you are a runner you already know what I am talking about when you see: 3.1 (5K), 6.2 (10K), and 13.1 (half marathon).  But 17?  How does 17 fit into the picture?  Well, 17 is my current milage for the Chicago Marathon training this October.  As anyone who has ever ran or trained for a marathon would say, why are you running 17 miles when the marathon is months away? My answer would be, I am listening to my body and training for me while still being able to enjoy the summer.  A couple years ago I was training for a marathon and I was over training by running 5 days a week. In addition,  I tended to increased my milage by over 10% a week which is NOT recommended.  Not only did this regiment make training difficult (personally, socially, mentally, and physically) but it also landed me in physical therapy by the end of it all.  Now that I am back at the training game I have learned to not only listen to my body but to maintain a balance between my training schedule and my social life.  I now increase my milage every other week for my long runs.  This way I can not only have a day or two off during the week but a weekend off where the pressure of having a "long run" subsides.

Sunday mornings = long run and mine began at 5am.  I made myself a peanut butter sandwich, stretched, and gathered my essentials...Water and GU!

On this particular run I searched high and low for my "runners high" and could not find it.  It was a struggle.  I knew physically I could run the 17 miles but on this particular day it just didn't click.  Even though it was not my best run I am proud that I didn't stop and finished what I set out to do.

The best part about running the 17 miles, no matter how horrible it went, was the aftermath of a well deserved BRUNCH at LuLuBells Pancake House on Southport.

Brunch began with:

Biscuits N' Gravy

Followed by Corned Beef Hash

French Toast

Nutella Banana Crepe

Fruity Fit Crepe

And finally, the Farmer Omelet.

All this food was not just for me!  I had a partner in crime.  That partner in crime knew the owner of LuLuBells who then just kept brining us food "just to try".  To say the least, I did not leave there hungry and was able to take plenty of the food home!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Due to the number of services I provide the price range varies.

1) Nutrition Evaluation
     -Initial Nutrition Consult: $100

2) Nutrition Planning and Advice:
     -Hour long Nutrition Consultation: $75
     -Half and Hour Nutrition Consult: $50
     -Package deals are available at a discount rate depending upon number of sessions requested.

3) Personal Chef:  Cost may vary depending upon cost of food
     -3 meals per day starts at:  $50+ per day
     -2 meals per day starts at:  $40+ per day
     -1 meal per day starts at:   $30+ per day

4) Personal Training Session:
    -$50 per session
    -Group rates available on request

5) Individual workout plans:
    -These are written out plans based on goals without actual training sessions

6) Running Coach:
    -Includes Heart Rate Zone analysis and range recommendations
    -5k personalized plan: $20
    -Half and Full Marathon plan: $30
    -Running and nutritional plan: prices vary depending on extent of planning

Email: for more information and inquires.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Who doesn't love chocolate? I know I do. And who wants a nutritionist that tells you all you can eat is carrots and kale? Not me! But finding the right balance can be tricky....and that's where I come in. I can help you find the right balance of foods for your lifestyle without sacrificing the things you love.

But food isnt't all I do. In addition to being a registered dietitian, I'm a personal trainer, too. Whether you're new to working out or a professional athelete, I can help you plan workouts and make sure you are doing the right things nutritionally to support your level of activitiy. 

I combine nutrion and fitness and throw in a healthy dose of fun to help you meet your wellnes goals. Come EVOLVE with me!