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8 Facts about Alcohol and Fertility

Reducing alcohol intake for potential mama’s and dad’s can be tricky. I don’t know about you but I find that most social events I go to involve some form of alcoholic beverage, which can make it very difficult to avoid alcohol or avoid attention for NOT drinking. Because there in lies the next question, “OMG you’re not drinking, are you pregnant?” This specific question is especially uncomfortable when you are trying to conceive but have not yet had success.

I’m going to be perfectly honest, I enjoy drinking alcohol! Wine, tequila, white claws, and high noon exactly in that order…not on the same night of course 😉 I have no shame! I am human just like the rest of us. Therefore, reducing alcohol intake for me is a purposeful action and takes some work. This may not be the case for everyone, but for me, it is. For this reason, it can be a huge challenge to be socially happy while trying to reduce your alcohol intake to promote optimal fertility, which led me to ask myself, does reducing or avoiding alcohol entirely really help with fertility? I decided to dive into the evidence and see what the science says.


Here are the 8 facts about alcohol, fertility, and managing PCOS.

  1. Alcohol intake can affect your quality of sleep, which can ultimately alter your cortisol and melatonin levels making your PCOS worse.
  2. Studies related to alcohol intake and fertility are limited and not always reliable due to the unethical issues with testing this and the retrospective nature of many studies.
  3. Moderate intake of alcohol has not shown negative impacts on semen quality and in some cases, moderate alcohol consumption has shown positive health effects due to the antioxidant content found in red wine. However, excess alcohol intake (>14 servings) has been correlated with decreased fertility.
  4. Excess alcohol intake can increase inflammation in the body. This inflammation can cause worsening gut health and central obesity.
  5. Alcohol intake causes a burden on the liver. If the liver is sluggish due to frequently detoxing alcohol intake, it may not be as efficient at clearing estrogen levels, causing hormonal imbalance.
  6. Many alcoholic beverages are high in sugar due to the simple syrups, sodas, and juices used for mixing. Excess sugar intake can lead to worsening abdominal obesity, which can further deteriorate your insulin resistance. Women with PCOS are also more likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease even without alcohol intake! Drinking alcohol on top of this disease can further worsen your liver function.
  7. Because of the high sugar nature of some mixed drinks, your blood sugar will spike quickly and drop rapidly. This can lead to increased hunger and binge-eating late at night or in the morning.
  8. Limiting or keeping your alcohol intake within the recommended levels is safe. For women, this includes 1 alcoholic beverage daily and for men, 2 drinks or less.

Lime cocktail

What to do with this information?

  • If you like to drink alcohol, drink in moderation! And that includes your partner 😉 If you’re not a drinker, don’t start drinking now.
  • Plan to have your drinks with a meal to avoid low drops in blood sugar.
  • Include high fiber foods in your diet regularly to keep your estrogen levels at normal levels.
  • Avoid cocktails with high amounts of added sugar from juice, soda, or syrups. Utilize diet sodas or flavored water to mix with your alcohol instead.
  • Keep a water bottle or glass of water near you while you drink. This is a good reminder to keep yourself hydrated while you drink.
  • Enjoy a mocktail! A little bit of fresh lime juice with your favorite zero-calorie flavored water and a few sprigs of fresh mint…yes please! Just as refreshing as a regular cocktail.
  • Similar to caffeine, start cutting back on your alcohol intake slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day! This will improve efficacy for longer term behavior change as well. If you normally drink 2 drinks at night, try to set a time limit on when you can allow yourself a drink or have your favorite zero-calorie flavored water on hand to substitute that other drink.
  • Don’t use alcohol as a social crutch. You are more than capable of having a good time with or without the use of alcohol. Don’t depend on alcohol to make you more social or outgoing. Be yourself!


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Top 10 PCOS-friendly snacks

Hey cysters! This past weekend, my husband went on a wonderful long weekend getaway to northern Michigan for our 1-year wedding anniversary. Travel can sometimes stress me out with all the planning, packing, and prepping, but one of the many things I’ve learned from my lovely husbands’ type A personality is that planning ahead does pay off.

Having certain things, such as healthy snacks and my supplements from home keep me on track and honestly allow me to have a better time on vacation. When I plan to have my favorite healthy snacks available to me, I don’t stress about when and where I’m going to find healthy snacks if I get hungry between meals or if we have to hit the road around mealtimes.

Although my cravings and insulin resistance have improved, I still am a cyster who generally needs a snack or mini-meal every 2-3 hours. For me, I’ve found that if the right snacks are in my purview, I tend to do a better job with making sure my snacks are PCOS-friendly and overall healthy. Noshindietitian-20

Now what does it mean when I say “PCOS-friendly” snacks? This means I try to keep the snacks high in protein or as a kick-ass combo of nutrients. The best option is to pair complex carbohydrates with protein or fat. This combo allows for a slower rise in blood sugar and ultimately better insulin control. Not to mention, these snack combinations generally keep you full for longer and helps avoid overeating or binge-eating at your next meal. Trail mix

Here are some of my favorite PCOS-friendly snacks!

  1. Fresh fruit (apples or bananas) with individual nut butter packets. If you’re traveling by car, you can also pack your own nut butter of choice in a small tupperware if you don’t have the individual packets.
  2. Trail mix with dark chocolate (I like mixing dark chocolate with cashews and pumpkin seeds)
  3. Biena dry roasted chickpeas
  4. Chomps or other grass-fed beef jerky
  5. Hummus with veggies (broccoli, carrots, cucumbers) or whole grain crackers
  6. Half PB sandwich with sliced bananas on whole grain bread
  7. Seapoint Farms dry roasted edamame
  8. Individual (low-added sugar) yogurt topped with pumpkin seeds and cocoa nibs
  9. Hard-boiled egg with handful of pistachios
  10. Protein bars, such as Kind bars or RX bars, or homemade energy bites (check out my Matcha energy bites or pumpkin carrot energy bites!)

Be sure to comment below with some of your favorites!


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Kombucha How-To Guide

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know about my love for kombucha. I started my journey of brewing my own earlier this summer and never looked back! Since investing in my home brewing kit, I have not consumed any store bought kombucha (unless of course I’m out of town or something). I really love it and I hope you try it too! Be sure to scroll down to read the “Kombucha Q & A” for common questions and concerns with kombucha and get my Pumpkin Spice Kombucha recipe. I linked as much as I could so you can easily pick up the items below. Let’s jump into it!

Equipment/ingredients needed:

  1. 1 gallon glass (no plastic!) jar
  2. 1 SCOBY
  3. 12 Black tea bags
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. Tea kettle
  6. Cheese cloth
  7. Rubber band
  8. 16 oz glass bottles or re-used kombucha bottles
  9. 1 gallon distilled water
  10. 1 cup regular kombucha
  11. Plastic funnel
  12. Flavorings of your choice (i.e. blueberries, mango, black cherries, ginger, lemons, etc.)

Kombucha 12.jpg

The Brewing Process

Step 1: Wash the glass jar, dry, and set aside.

Step 2: Boil 8 cups of distilled water then let the 12 tea bags brew for about 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags.

Step 3: While water is coming to a boil, pour 8 cups of distilled water into the glass jar. Add 1 cup sugar.

Step 4: Once the tea is done brewing, add the tea to the glass jar and stir to combine. Let cool for about an hour or so until the temperature comes down to 70-80 degrees. Kombucha 6.jpg

Step 5: Add the SCOBY and 1 cup of regular kombucha.

Step 6: Cut cheese cloth to cover the top of the glass jar and hold in place using a rubber band around the top of the jug. Kombucha 8

Step 7: Store in a dry, warm (ideally between 70-80 degrees) room away from light for about 7-14 days.*

*The kombucha can sit for up to a month like this. The longer you let it ferment, the more vinegary and acidic it becomes. It totally depends on your preference of flavor for the kombucha.


The Flavoring Process

Step 1: Add fruit, herbs, spices, or other ingredients of your choice to fill about 20% of the 12-oz bottles. Don’t overthink this part. Just throw in a little bit of this and that especially when using fresh fruit.

Step 2: Using the funnel, pour the kombucha into each 12-oz bottle leaving about an inch from the top. Kombucha 3

Step 3: Put the tops on and store in a dry, warm (ideally between 70-80 degrees) room away from light for about 4 days.

*Step 4: Each day the kombucha will carbonate more and more so you’ll want to burp (or open) the bottle once a day to let the air out. It is very important not to forget this step! If you forget, the potential of a Mount Vesuvius explosion is possible. I’m warning you from a place of personal experience lol. I recommend doing this in the sink of the kitchen to help avoid a sticky mess. For me, every kombucha batch has been a little different and it definitely depends on the type of ingredients you add. For example, fruit is a sugar so it tends to ferment and create more gas to let off.

Step 5: After 4 days (and burping each day), place your kombucha in the refrigerator and enjoy at any point! Kombucha 10.jpg


Kombucha Q & A

WTF is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea that is often considered a functional food due to its proposed health benefits. Its origins are relatively unknown but it’s said to have started in China, Russia, Europe, and eventually the United States.

What is a SCOBY?

A SCOBY stands for a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Gross right? WRONG. It’s science and this little “mother” of weirdness works kombucha magic. The yeast and bacteria in the SCOBY ferment with the sugary tea resulting in a liquid containing vinegar, B vitamins, and other chemical compounds depending on the variations in preparation. The SCOBY can be reused for multiple batches and should produce more SCOBY’s as you continue to brew.

How do I know if my SCOBY has gone bad?

I get this question a lot because in general SCOBY’s are ugly, yet magnificent creatures. If your SCOBY is actively growing mold on the top of it or has fuzzy white, red, green, or any odd color to it, it’s time to ditch the batch and order yourself a new SCOBY.

How can I preserve or store my SCOBY long-term if I’m not brewing another batch of kombucha?

For 3 months or less, you can store it in a glass jar with enough regular kombucha to cover the SCOBY. Put the top on the jar and store in the refrigerator. For 3 months or more, you can make a SCOBY hotel by taking another 2L glass jar, stack your SCOBY’s on top of each other, and pour 50% kombucha and 50% newly brewed tea mixed with sugar (cooled to room temperature) over the SCOBY’s. To make the tea mixture, brew about 3 cups of black tea and combine with ½ cup sugar. Every so often, pour more kombucha in to keep the SCOBY’s covered and provide more food (aka sugar) for the SCOBY’s. Cover with cheese cloth and store at room temperature in a dry location out of direct sunlight.

What are the potential health benefits of kombucha?

The proposed health benefits of kombucha include reducing inflammation and improving gut health and digestion due to the healthy bacteria or probiotics found in kombucha.

Does Kombucha have alcohol in it?

Yes. Kombucha has about 1% or less alcohol content depending on the duration of the fermentation process.

What’s your favorite thing about brewing kombucha?

I really enjoy the process of trialing different flavor combinations. As the seasons change and different ingredients come into season, I’m enjoying it more and more. With fresh fruit, it’s truly hard to go wrong with flavor combinations. The only flavor addition I didn’t love was grapefruit, but I’m already not a big grapefruit lover so I think I’m just bias. 😉

Now, it’s time for my favorite flavor combination, Pumpkin Spice Kombucha! I hope you guys enjoy and feel free to leave comments with any additional questions. -EAB

Pumpkin Spice Kombucha

Course Drinks
Keyword kombucha
Servings 1 16-oz bottle
Author Liz Bissell


  • 1 heaping tbsp 100% Pumpkin puree
  • 1 heaping tsp Pumpkin pie spice
  • 16 ounces Homemade Kombucha
  • 1 16-ounce glass bottle


  1. Using the funnel, add the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to the bottle.

  2. Next, fill the bottle with homemade kombucha. Store the bottle in a dry place out of direct sunlight.

  3. For 4 days, burb (or crack the lid to let air out) the bottle once a day (ideally over the sink). After the 4 days, refrigerate the kombucha and enjoy once chilled. Keep refrigerated.

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Cucumber and Avocado Gazpacho

If you’ve been following me over on Instagram, you know I’ve had a plethora of cucumbers this season from my garden. I’m not complaining! BUT it has been a little challenging keeping up with consuming them and avoiding waste. So I had to get a little creative. I mean don’t get me wrong I can munch on raw cucumbers but a girl can only eat so many salads and snack so often.

I already pickled a crap ton of them for standard pickles and different condiments so I opted for a cold cucumber soup. A nice little cucumber gazpacho on a hot September afternoon hhhmmmmmmm yes. Please and thanks. This cold soup also makes for a nice little appetizer for a summer dinner party.

I had to test it a couple times to get it just right and I encourage you to adjust as needed to your flavor preference because when you make it, it’s YOUR dish 🙂 What I really love about this soup is how easy it is. You don’t have to peel the cucumbers. Let me repeat, do NOT peel the cucumbers. I did so on my first go-around and ended with beige-colored soup and despite it tasting good, I just couldn’t get over the color. So wash the outside of the cucumbers, chop, and you’re good!

Cucumber gazpacho 2.jpg

Another bonus of not having to peel the cucumbers (outside of the saving time), is the extra fiber boost! My husband doesn’t love the texture of the skins of cucumbers so this was a great way to utilize the skins and sneak in a bunch of extra fiber! Skins of any fruit or vegetable is where the money is. Americans in general struggle to get adequate daily fiber in due to the processed nature of American westernized food. Fiber is commonly found in plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds, and also whole grains.

What is the daily goal for fiber intake you may be asking yourself?

Women should shoot for 25 grams per day, while men should aim for 38 grams per day. To provide you with an example for comparison, one large pear with skin provides about 7 grams of fiber. Many Americans only get about 15 grams in per day. Fiber is so important for so many reasons!

  1. Helps keep us all regular! I ain’t ashamed to have the poop talk!
  2. Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease due to it’s potential to lower blood cholesterol.
  3. Keeps us satiated between meals and helps avoid overeating, which in turn helps us maintain a healthy weight.

The health benefits of this gazpacho alone should be reason enough to try this recipe. Did I mention, you put all the ingredients in a blender and that’s it? Oh yes, that’s it. Refrigerate and voila, you’re good to go. Hope you guys enjoy!


Cucumber and Avocado Gazpacho

Course Appetizer, Soup
Author Liz Bissell


  • 6-8 small cucumbers (or 2-3 large English cucumbers), washed and diced
  • 2-3 tbsp red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 avocado
  • 3-4 slices day-old bread, cubed (crust removed)
  • tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp sherry vinegar


  1. Crust and cube the bread and place in a medium bowl. Pour water over and let it soak for 10-15 minutes.

  2. Chop the red onion, garlic, shallot, bell pepper, salt, cucumber, and 2 Tbsp of olive oil and stir to combine in a medium bowl. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.

  3. Squeeze the water out of the bread and add the bread to the vegetable mixture. Stir to combine.

  4. In a large blender or food processor, add the bread-vegetable mixture in parts. While blending, add the avocado, sherry vinegar, and the last 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add salt and additional vinegar as needed. Blend until smooth.

  5. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. Serve chilled.

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3 Healthy Ways to Survive Wedding Season

There’s nothing better than celebrating the love between two people you care about. It always brings so much joy and I always feel so grateful that those two individuals want me there to celebrate with them. What I DON’T love is the unnecessary stress I sometimes feel leading up to, during, and after a wedding.

“Did I eat enough to hold me over?”

“Did I eat too much?”

Or “I should not have ate that!”

None of these lead to a positive or healthy experience.

With a healthy lifestyle, we should be able to bob and weave. Meaning life is going to throw us curveballs and we need to equip ourselves with the skills to adjust as needed while maintaining our physical and mental health. It’s a fine line. Sometimes what makes my heart happy, doesn’t always equate to optimal food choices. Sometimes I like a good ole’ bowl of regular cookie dough ice cream, but that doesn’t always make my waistline happy. Finding the balance between both is what living a healthy lifestyle means and that is different for every single person.

Wedding photo 2

These are 3 tips that I have found helpful during wedding season, but you may need to tweak as needed to fit your lifestyle and that’s perfectly fine!

1. Don’t skip meals. I know, I know. You think it’s necessary to skip breakfast or lunch leading up to a big event where you’re likely to consume more calories than your normal dinner. However, skipping meals will only lead to binging and overeating. In addition, your body’s metabolism slows down when you skip meals and rob it of the essential nutrients it needs for daily activities, especially when you skip breakfast.

2. Bring a snack. The anxiety that starts to creep in if you don’t see food for a couple hours…oh wait, that’s just me? Oh well. But seriously, if you’re worried about how long it might be before you eat dinner, pack a snack, such as a granola bar or ziplock of mixed nuts, to hold you over. There’s no shame in knowing your body…only you can know what it needs! Plus it’s always good to be prepared when your Chardonnay-sloshed body needs that snack after hitting the dance floor all night.

3. Eat the cake. Those who avoid, obsess. Girl, if you want to eat the cake, eat the damn cake! Trying to avoid it will only lead to the cake being on your mind for far too long. This extra time spent perseverating about whether you should eat the cake or not would be better spent dancing the night away with your significant other or catching up with old friends that you haven’t seen in eons.

Yep, that’s me…eating cake because it’s damn delicious!

Although this isn’t included in the 3 tips, the last takeaway is just to move on the next day. Relish in the fact that you had a great time! Remind yourself that when Monday rolls around, you are headed back into your healthy lifestyle again, or maybe not, maybe that’s for Tuesday. Either way is A-OK! Living a healthy lifestyle is a give and take.


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3 ways to reduce post-vacation anxiety

It’s a Sunday night, you’re sun-kissed from vacation, and have just landed at Gerald R. Ford Grand Rapids airport. You’re waiting at baggage claim and as you wait for the carousel to beep and start circling, a creeping anxiety starts to build in your mind then your thoughts start to overwhelm. “What kind of food do I have in the fridge at home? What am I going to eat this week for lunch? Oh no, the gym. Are my pants feeling a little tight? Why didn’t I workout more while I was on vacation? I shouldn’t have drank all those piña coladas!”


We all know the feeling. The post-vacation, Sunday scaries. They often seem unavoidable, especially after a long, gluttonous vacation. I recently came back from a nice trip to Florida and these exact thoughts started swarming my mind. Before allowing my heart to start racing with anxiety, I took a deep breath and remembered why I went on this vacation in the first place…reset my mindset. Although these negative thoughts started rushing in, I was able to cut the thoughts at their roots before they had a chance to start growing into an actual thought process that wouldn’t lead to anything productive.

Often in the past I’d go into the work week working out harder and longer to try and make up for the lack of time I had spent in the gym on my vacation, cut back on my portion sizes, or eat a ton of salads for lunch and/or dinner to try and bounce back. Although my heart was in the right place, this type of behavior did not lead to anything healthy, whether that be mental health, physical fitness, or weight goals. dumbbells.jpg

It generally led to obsessive thoughts about food and my body, overeating due to restraining myself, and overall exhaustion from not meeting my “goals” for the week. Over the last few years, I’ve finally been able to ease back into my normal, healthy lifestyle by doing just three simple things.

  1. Ease yourself back into your routine organically. Do what feels right. For example, skipping the gym a few more days than normal or going on a walk instead of a run to allow your body to adapt to being back on a structured routine (both work and fitness-wise) is A-OK. Going out to eat or happy hour even though you know you don’t need those extra calories post-vacation. Skipping the salad at lunch and eating a sandwich instead because you’re feeling really hungry. These are just some of the many examples.
  2. Follow a few shortcuts when it comes to getting back to eating healthy. No time? No problem. Sometimes the whole planning all your meals for the week, grocery shopping for all the food items, and THEN having to meal prep it all can be a little daunting, especially when you also have a large stack of laundry to do. When you’re short on time, it’s best to get by with a little help from our friends. You know what I’m saying? Here are some examples.
    1. Use pre-baked rotisserie chicken to shred and apply to salads, sandwiches, or use with dinners throughout the week instead of having to make your own.
    2. Utilize pre-cut fruit and vegetables from the grocery store. They may be a little more expensive, but for the week you’re trying to ease yourself back into a schedule, this will save you a ton of time and headache.
    3. Lean on healthy, pre-packaged meals to limp you along 😉 Examples include Nourish bowls, Daily Harvest smoothies, salad kits, salmon or tuna salad pouches, Greek yogurt kits, Blue Apron meals, etc.
  3. Listen to and trust your body. Avoid being too hard on yourself. Allow yourself some grace when it comes to getting back on a schedule after being on a vacation. It’s easy to let those anxious thoughts to invade your mind, but it’s not always easy to stop and remind yourself that a little relaxation was what your body and mind needed. Remember health is not just physical, but also mental. The beauty of following a healthy lifestyle is there will be times, days, or weeks where you get off track but ebbs and flows are what make it a lifestyle, not a diet. Therefore, you shouldn’t ever feel down on yourself for eating the pizza or taking the vacation. yoga.jpg

I hope you find this helpful! Feel free to comment with strategies that have worked well for you when transitioning from vacation mode back into everyday life.


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Best questions to ask at the farmer’s market

Who doesn’t love going to a farmer’s market on a Saturday morning and coming home with a plethora of beautiful local fruits and vegetables? But are you sure they are local? Are you sure you got the best bang for your buck as far as cost and what produce will taste the best? I know I’ve gone to the farmers market countless times only to come back spending more money than I wanted to and finding out little about the actual food.

There is no better way to find out everything you need to know about the produce (or meat) you are buying at the farmer’s market than from the mouth of the farmer. Don’t be shy! Ask the farmer or vendor at the farmer’s market some of these helpful questions to guide you to the best purchases of fruits and vegetables. By asking these questions, you enrich your own farmer’s market experience by learning more about your food and the farming involved with producing it.

What is selling for the best price?

I think it’s fair to say, we have all come home from a farmer’s market with far too much produce and spent more money than we intended too. But the produce is all so beautiful, right? Right. If you are working on a budget, ask the vendor which produce is selling for the best price. They are running a business too so they should give a you straight shot answer.

When was the fruit or vegetable picked?
No one wants to go home with fruits or vegetables that start rotting the next day. We want the freshest of the fresh depending on how we plan to consume the produce. If it was harvested over >48 hours ago, you may want to shop around and ask other farmers if they have harvested within the last 24 hours.

What produce are you spraying with pesticides or chemicals? Is it organic?
If pesticides and/or chemicals are a big concern for you, don’t be afraid to ask the vendor or farmer which produce do they spray or are they certified organic? This may help guide which produce you purchase. For example, you may gear more towards fruits or vegetables that don’t have edible skin if standard pesticides are used (i.e. bananas or oranges).

How can I cook this?
Variety in consumption of fruits and vegetables is key to great health. But often we are too scared to try something new or have no idea how to cook or prepare it. If you’re looking to try a new fruit or vegetable from the farmer’s market, the farmer is likely the best person to ask what it’s best served with or how to prepare it. Ask if you can try a sample!

Where is your farm located or are you a wholesale market?
Many of us shop at farmer’s markets because we love the idea of supporting local farmers and businesses. However, just because someone is standing behind a table selling produce, doesn’t always mean they are a local farmer. Vendors can be just as knowledgeable, but some travel for larger wholesale companies selling other people’s produce, which does not equate to supporting local business.

Do you need an extra hand?
If you are really eager to find out more about farming or how their farming is done, ask them if they need a free hand sometime. This may be an invaluable experience for truly understanding farm-to-table in West Michigan.


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Blogging: Easier or more challenging than a healthy lifestyle?

For some, blogging and writing comes easy to them. For others (i.e. me), writing can be quite challenging. In particular, I find it difficult to get my personality to translate into writing. The more I have been writing, the easier it has gotten however.

The saying “write drunk, edit sober” could not be more true. Some of the best writing I have done was after a couple glasses of wine 😉 Seriously though. Writing off the cuff without allowing your brain to wander and think about how people might construe what you say in a million different ways leaving you dazed and confused. Meanwhile, my computer screen is now on my screen saver because I’ve been daydreaming too long. This can be my biggest pitfall when trying to write for my blog. I’d like to think I’m a fairly confident person but my writing is something I am not overly confident about (at least not yet).

Other barriers that often impede my blog writing:

  • It takes too long to write a blog post
  • I think a blog post has to be “x” words or paragraphs long to be considered a “successful” post
  • I forgot to take enough “quality” pictures for the post
  • I don’t have time to edit my photos today
  • And so on and so forth

See how this can easily spiral out of control and ultimately leading to no writing at all? The mind can truly f*** you some times.

As I was discussing this issue with my cousin over the phone, she bluntly pointed out, “this must be what your clients feel when it comes to eating better or participating in physical activity”. She hit the nail on the head. As an athlete growing up and having a mother who showed us the importance of cooking from scratch (most of the time), eating healthy and staying active has come relatively natural to me. Don’t get me wrong, as I age, it’s not always as easy, but nonetheless I have never really felt like exercise or eating fruits and vegetables was some unfathomable feat. I have always been that person who really can’t go more than 2-3 days without exercise mainly for my mental health.


However, my cousin is right. I often find that my clients and patients are so overwhelmed by all the nutrition and exercise information in the media and not quite sure how or where to start, let alone stay consistent with it. My cousin worked me through my struggle with blogging how I often work my patients through improving their diet or lifestyle. She asked me relatively simple questions to reflect on…

  • What are your goals for blogging?
  • Are your goals/expectations reasonable and attainable?
  • What do you think is feasible to do on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis to get closer to your goals?
  • What are some strategies to keep yourself accountable?
  • How do you get back on track if you’ve fallen off the bandwagon?

After asking myself these questions and answering them truthfully, I was able to set more reasonable goals for myself. All these questions above apply to cultivating a healthy lifestyle as well, whether your focus is on diet or exercise. Although writing and blogging continues to be a work in progress for me, starting by setting SMART goals and remembering why I started blogging in the first place made all the difference. And at the end of the day, it’s truly about the content and making sure all of you get evidence-based nutrition information. Now let’s really quickly review what those SMART goals are. You have heard me talk about these types of goals before and trust me, you’ll hear it again! 😉

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable
  • A: Attainable
  • R: Reasonable
  • T: Timely


In other words, start by figuring out what your goals are for improving your healthy lifestyle, whether that be diet or exercise-focused. Be reasonable about how you can achieve or get closer to attaining those goals on a day-to-day, weekly, or hell even a monthly basis. We all have different starting and end points so stop comparing yourself to others and JUST GET STARTED.

I often find we are our own personal mind blocks. Many of my patients don’t participate in regular physical activity because they can’t afford gym memberships or they don’t have 60 minutes of time to dedicate (who are we kidding, even 30 minutes!). I try to remind clients that different strokes for different folks, meaning find what’s going to work for you. Even finding time for 2-3 ten-minute time periods to do exercise throughout the day 2-3x/week is better than doing anything at all. The same goes for cooking healthy meals…start by focusing on 1, 2, or even 3 nights a week, build your confidence, and adjust from there. I personally find that healthy meal planning for 3 nights a week works well for my life right now…one day of leftovers, weekend night of eating out, variable eating schedule on the weekend, you get the picture.

It’s easy to constantly get down on yourself when you see fit individuals appearing to eat these beautiful, amazing meals EVERY meal. But keep in mind, things aren’t always what they seem on social media and people have different levels of what they are willing to sacrifice or change for their desired quality of life. Therefore, any small step towards a healthy lifestyle is an important and good accomplishment that should celebrated, especially if you find it’s something that you know will be sustainable for YOUR life. So do you!



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TOFU: Everything you need to know

When the word tofu gets mentioned, I often get a bewildered look from my patients as if I am asking them to try astronaut ice cream or alien food. Tofu is commonly used in Asian cuisine. It is made into a bean curd by coagulating soy milk and pressing the milk curds into a soft, white block.

Unfortunately, tofu often gets a bad rap for being tasteless or a “health” food. However, people often knock it before trying it or don’t prepare it correctly, resulting in an adverse flavor or texture. However, tofu has some really important health benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Not to mention, tofu can really take on some amazing flavor if prepared correctly.IMG_1778

Tofu is incredibly versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is low in calories and cholesterol, high in protein and a good source of isoflavones, phosphorus, iron, calcium, manganese, copper and selenium. Tofu is particularly useful for anyone trying to find ways to increase their protein intake without the risks of raising bad cholesterol. Now let’s talk about the need-to-know information on preparing and cooking tofu.

Watch my WZZM 13 segment here!


  • Eat raw: any tofu can be eaten raw, but most often silken or soft tofu is used for eating raw.
  • Draining and Pressing: With any tofu, be sure to drain off the water from the package before using. Tofu contains quite a bit of water, so it’s also important apply pressure to the whole block or slices of tofu to extract additional water. Place the tofu on a paper towel-covered plate with another paper towel on top of the block tofu. Next, place a canned good or baking sheet to apply more pressure. Allow about 5-10 minutes for the excess water to drain off.IMG_1772
  • Freezing: Freezing tofu is a great way to pull a good majority of the water from tofu. It is recommended to drain and press the tofu block before freezing. Similar to meat, it can be defrosted in the refrigerator or microwave.
  • Marinating and Glazing: Tofu is a great vehicle for flavor, just like any meat. Therefore, marinating it overnight (after pressing!) or even for 15-30 minutes prior to cooking will help when it comes to adding flavor. If baking, the key is to save some of the marinade for after the tofu is done cooking and brush the tofu with the remaining marinade right before serving. If pan-frying firm tofu with or without oil (canola, peanut, or extra-virgin olive oil), glaze the tofu pieces with the marinade throughout the cooking process. As the tofu continues to fry, re-glaze the tofu until it turns into a syrupy mix that clings to the tofu. This will lock in the marinade and flavor. Whether you are baking, broiling, pan-frying, or grilling, cooking time for tofu generally ranges between 20-30 minutes (flipping halfway through).

Types of tofu:

  • Firm or extra firm: this tofu can take on quite a bit of flavor and is perfect for pan-frying, sautéing, grilling, or roasting.
  • Medium: this tofu still can fall apart on you pretty easily. It is best added to soups or salads depending on your taste preference.
  • Soft/silken: Soft tofu is best eaten raw, lightly fried, or blended and added to recipes, such as a creamy savory sauce or fruit smoothie. Do not press soft tofu due to the soft texture and likelihood of it falling apart on you.



Vanilla Banana-Nut SmoothieIMG_1770

Servings: 3-4 servings (1 cup each)


  • 2 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cubed soft silken tofu
  • 1 1/2 banana, ripe or frozen
  • 2 tbsp. 100% natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately or freeze for later use.


Pineapple Stir Fry with Baked Tofu (courtesy of Veggie Inspired!)

Servings: 5



  • 1 lb firm tofu , drained, pressed*, and cubed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos or tamari for a gluten free version)
  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger , peeled

Stir Fry

  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
  • 3/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup halved snow peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 3 scallions (sliced)
  • 2 cups cubed pineapple
  • about 1/2 cup water or broth for sautéing

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water

Garnish, optional

  • sliced green onion
  • Sesame seeds
  • drizzle of sesame oil

Serve with your choice of brown or white rice.


  1. Press the tofu if you haven’t already — see note below. Cut it into cubes.
  2. Pour the marinade into a plastic Ziploc bag: 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp pineapple juice and 1/2 inch of fresh peeled ginger. Add the cubed tofu and mix around so it’s all covered with marinade. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. When the tofu is done marinating, remove the tofu and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping each piece half way through the cooking time.
  5. In the meantime, whisk together the stir fry sauce: tomato paste, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp pineapple juice, maple syrup, and vinegar. Mix together the cornstarch and water and add to the sauce. Whisk well and set aside.
  6. Heat a large skillet with 2 tbsp water (or broth) over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the carrots and 1/4 cup water (or broth), cover and let cook about 5-7 minutes. Check every few minutes and add more water/broth if the pan is getting dry. Add the snow peas, water chestnuts, scallions and pineapple chunks and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add the stir fry sauce and mix well. Add the baked tofu and mix again.
  9. Serve over rice and garnish with sliced green onions, sesame seeds and a sprinkle of sesame oil, if desired.

Recipe Notes:

*To press tofu – place paper towels or a clean dishcloth on a plate and place block of drained tofu on top. Cover with more paper towels or another clean dishcloth, add another plate on top, and weigh it down with whatever you have. I used bags of dried beans or grains.

*To save time, chop your veggies while the tofu is marinating. You can make the stir fry sauce at this time too.

*The stir fry comes together quickly if you have everything prepped ahead of time. Don’t start your stir fry until you have about 15 minutes left for baking the tofu. That way everything will be ready at the same time.




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Enhancing Flavor Without the Salt

February was National Heart Health Month but just because it’s March doesn’t mean it’s still not a great time to reflect on our dietary choices that may affect our heart health. March is National Nutrition Month after all. Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, the number one killer worldwide. High blood pressure is considered the “silent killer” because most individuals do not show symptoms or feel any differently. However, one-third of Americans either have high blood pressure or 90% are expected to develop it over their lifetimes.


Excessive sodium intake is one of the main contributors to high blood pressure. Foods that are generally high in salt are pre-packaged or processed foods, salty snacks, canned soups, lunch meat, and frozen dinners.

So how much is too much sodium intake? The American Heart Association recommends an ideal sodium intake as 1500 milligrams per day with a limit of 2,300 mg per day (~1 teaspoon). Let’s talk about some ways to flavor foods without using too much salt.

Top 3 Tips:

  1. Increase acidity by using different vinegars or use bold herbs, roots, and seasonings. Instead of adding more salt, first start by adding acidity or tartness.IMG_7180.JPG
    • Vinegars: apple cider, balsamic, wine (red, white, and sherry), rice wine, malt, etc.
      • Balsamic and wine vinegars often used in Mediterranean and Israeli dishes
      • Malt vinegar is often used in fish and chip dishes in Canada and the United Kingdom
      • Rice wine vinegar is generally used in Asian-based cuisines or salad dressings
    • Lemon juice: this citrus pairs well with Italian dishes, such as shrimp scampi, vinaigrettes, grain-based salads, or vegetables, such as carrots, asparagus, or broccoli.
    • Lime juice: lime juice really elevates the flavor of Mexican dishes. Add to your guacamole, tacos, or top your margarita with a slice 😉 IMG_7192.JPG
    • Ginger, turmeric, horseradish
      • Ginger: a sweet, yet spicy bite that is commonly used in Asian cuisine, but can also be pickled for depth of flavor or paired with fresh fruit.
      • Turmeric: a little goes a long way with this earthy root that provides a bitter touch to Indian or Thai dishes. This root can also be used as a natural food coloring (hint, hint: Easter is coming!). For both ginger and turmeric, peel with a vegetable peeler or use a spoon to easily peel back the skin.IMG_7159.JPG
      • Horseradish: this root vegetable can be bought fresh or pre-prepared in a jar. Trying mixing with Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream to create a delicious sauce to pair with a juicy steak.
    • Nutritional yeast as a healthy cheese substitute: this interesting little powder is jam-packed with B-vitamins, protein, fiber, and folate.
    • Fresh, dried, or canned peppers (poblano, chipotle, chili, etc.) to really add a kick!
  1. Marinate and infuse dishes with pureed fruits/vegetables.
    1. Marinate your proteins (fish, chicken, pork, beef, tofu, etc.) to avoid adding extra salt or seasoning after cooking.
    2. Infuse savory sauces with pureed butternut squash or cauliflower instead of extra salt or chicken broth for flavor dimension.
  2. Create sauces to top dishes with heart-healthy fats.
    1. Salads or vegetable sides:
      1. Avocado Crema using Greek yogurt (I love to pair this with sweet potato fries!)
      2. Chipotle Cashew Aioli
    2. Meats or Starches: Chimichurri (also one of my favorite sauces for huevos rancheros)
    3. Anything: Basil Walnut Pesto

**Be cautious with using a “Salt Replacement” for flavor enhancement if you take diuretics or have heart and/or kidney problems.




Avocado Crema

Avocado Crema.jpg


  • 2 avocados, pitted
  • ½ cup, plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened soy milk (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Place the avocado, yogurt, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Pulse until evenly combined.
  2. Add a tablespoon of soy milk until desired consistency achieved.
  3. Fold in the cilantro or top as a garnish.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1-2 days in an air-tight container.


5-Ingredient Chipotle Cashew Aioli

Cashew Sauce.jpg

Recipe by: The Minimalist Baker


  • 3/4 cup (90 g) raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water (or unsweetened plain almond milk for creamier sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp maple syrup or agave nectar (or sub organic cane sugar or stevia to taste)
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce + 1 tsp adobo sauce (more or less to taste)
  • optional: 1-2 Tbsp avocado, grape seed, canola or other neutral oil (for creaminess)
  • optional: pinch smoked paprika


  1. Add raw cashews to a mixing bowl (or a high-speed blender) and cover with boiling hot water. Let rest for 1 hour (uncovered). Then drain thoroughly.
  2. Add soaked, drained cashews to a high-speed blender with 1/2 cup water (or almond milk), lemon juice, sea salt, maple syrup, pepper + adobo sauce.
  3. Blend on high until creamy and smooth, adding more water or almond milk as needed to encourage blending. Scrape down sides as needed.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, lemon for acidity, maple syrup for sweetness, or adobo sauce for heat. I added more salt and another 2 chipotle peppers. Adding a little oil is optional and adds extra creaminess. Smoked paprika is also optional and adds a sweet smokiness to the sauce.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days.


Jalapeno Lime Chimichurri

Jalapeno Lime Chimichurri.jpg


  • ¾ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup (or a small bunch) fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.


Basil Walnut Pesto

Basil Walnut Pesto.jpg


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  • dash of salt and pepper


  1. Add the walnuts to medium-size frying pan. Toast the walnuts evenly over medium heat until lightly browned (~3-4 minutes).
  2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Refrigerate in a mason jar or an air-tight container for 5-7 days.