Monday, February 24, 2014

Eating too much...kale?!

If you know anything about eating healthy, then you definitely know about kale.  It's the quintessential "health food," boasting high levels of calcium, vitamin C, and iron, and providing lots of fiber and cancer-fighting antioxidants.  As far as most people are concerned, it can do no wrong.  Or can it?
Kale has a dirty little secret...
I read an article recently about how eating too much kale can actually be bad for you, and I thought it was an excellent example of how too much of anything-- even kale, the holy grail of health foods!-- can be detrimental to your health.  The problem with kale, and other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy, is that it is goitrogenic, which basically means that consuming too much of it can lead to an enlarged thyroid, or goiter.  When eating normal amounts of these vegetables, especially when cooked, one is not likely to have any problems.  The issues arise when people regularly consume large amounts of these vegetables raw, such as when they are blended or juiced, which is becoming increasingly popular among well-meaning health junkies.

You may be thinking, "if kale isn't safe, then what the heck am I supposed to eat?!"  It sure does seem like every other day we're being told that something that was once touted as "good" for us is suddenly "bad!"  So, what to do?  The simple answer is variety.  Eating too much of anything-- whether it's cake or kale-- isn't a great idea.  If you pin all your hopes on one type of food making you healthy and base your entire diet on it, there's a decent chance you'll find out at some point that that food may not be as healthy as once thought-- maybe it'll be some trace chemical or pesticide they discover in it, or they'll link it to cancer or heart disease, who knows!-- but if you've only eaten moderate amounts of it, you'll likely be fine.  If you've been basing your entire diet on it, however, you may not be.  The better approach is to hedge your bets and eat moderate amounts of all kinds of foods (yes, even cake and cookies!).  Besides covering all your nutritional bases and providing more satisfaction in your eating, variety means that you're not eating massive amounts of any one food, and therefore don't have to worry about any detrimental effects associated with one type of food that may surface in the future.

And, just so you don't think I'm "anti-kale" or anything, I wanted to share one of my favorite kale recipes that has made it into the rotation here in my house.  It's fast and simple enough to make on a weeknight, and half the time I have most if not all of the ingredients already in my cupboard.  I usually serve myself a large portion and eat it as a main dish, but it can also be enjoyed as a side.  I hope you like it as much as I do!

One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf
Adapted from recipe found at Food52
Serves 2-4
I forgot to take a photo, so I stole this one from the Food52 site. Oops!

2 cups salted water
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped into 1" lengths
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 scallions (I have also used regular onions as a substitute)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (how to toast pine nuts)
1/4-1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (depending on how cheesy/creamy you like it)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot.  Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer.  Let simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover.  Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, and olive oil, pine nuts, and goat cheese.

3. Check the quinoa and kale when cooking time has completed-- the water should have absorbed, and the quinoa will be tender but firm, and the kale tender and bright green.  If the quinoa still had a hard white center, you can steam a bit longer (adding more water if needed).  When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf, and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients.  As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon it should smell lovely.  Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper, and the remaining lemon juice if needed. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Putting weight loss on the back burner

Many people start intuitive eating counseling at a time when they're uncomfortable with their current body shape.  Sure, they're pretty much convinced that diets don't work in the long term (since they've likely experienced this first hand), but they still really really want to lose weight.  So it can be discouraging to hear that the focus of intuitive eating isn't on weight...that they need to put weight loss on the back burner.  You might end up losing weight, especially if you've been eating in a way in which you are not honoring your hunger and satiety cues, or eating emotionally on a regular basis, but focussing on weight loss will distract from the process of becoming an intuitive eater, and ultimately sabotage you.

A recent study actually demonstrated this phenomenon.  In the study, a group of college-aged women read an article about how being overweight could affect their chances of employment, while another control group read an article about smoking and getting a job.  After reading the articles, and participating in a discussion, they were taken to a room for a break, and given access to candy and crackers.  Those women who were overweight and had read the article about weight and employment consumed significantly more calories than those who had read the article about smoking.  The researcher argues that these results "suggest that public-health messages need to emphasize the importance of health and exercise, and not focus on weight."  This is exactly what we do with intuitive eating, and I believe it's why we see improved health and psychological well-being, and, yes, even weight loss, in many of those who follow the philosophy.  It may seem counterintuitive that taking your focus off of your weight can result in weight loss, but it really does happen!  

The article also brings up the fact that in order to lose weight, you need to first stop blaming yourself for your weight problem, as this affects self-esteem.  Sure, you might not love the body you're currently in, but it's important to be gentle with yourself, and stop beating yourself up for having gained weight.  If you got where you are because of years of yo-yo dieting, recognize that you were doing what you thought was best for you and for your health, and now that you know that diets don't work, you're moving on and trying something different.  And if you're at your current weight because of emotional eating, give yourself credit that you've manage to make it through all the difficulties you've encountered in your life using perhaps the only coping mechanism you had available to you at the time.  Lots of super smart, extremely accomplished people come in larger bodies, so being something other than a so-called "ideal weight" doesn't indicate anything negative about you as a person.


So, try to be patient.  Eating intuitively isn't a quick fix like many diets, although unlike a diet, you will reap the benefits of following this philosophy for a lifetime.  When you focus on satisfaction, and eat based on hunger and satiety, your body will eventually normalize and you'll find yourself at your set point weight which, as I said earlier, may very well be lower than your current weight.  All of this takes time, though, so hang in there and focus on treating yourself and your body with the respect and love it deserves.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Respecting our post-baby bodies


"My body is full of life. 

My body is powerful. 
My body made me a mother."


I've been wanting to post something about accepting our post-baby bodies for a while now, but I couldn't find the words to express my feelings about it.  Recently, however, I stumbled upon this post from a blog called "We seek joy"  that words it perfectly.  The author writes about how people say that women's bodies are "ruined" by having babies, but that she can't possibly be ashamed of how her body has changed after witnessing the miraculous thing that it was able to do...create and sustain a LIFE!

I feel exactly the same way.  As a new member of this community of moms, I now regularly hear my peers talk about losing that post-baby weight, and lamenting the changes they've seen in their bodies since being pregnant.  First of all, taking care of a new baby takes unbelievable amounts of time and energy, so dedicating oneself to an intense exercise regime or perfect eating plan is next to impossible (if you've read my blog, you know that I believe neither of these two things is easy to achieve or maintain in the long term anyway, much less with a new child!).
Please don't compare yourself to celebrities...their transformations often aren't even real!
Like the author of that blog entry, I feel that the conversation needs to change from, "What can I do to get my pre-pregnancy body back?" to "How can I learn to accept and respect this new body I am in?"  Because the truth is that our bodies are not and should not be the same as before...they have just undergone the incredible process of creating life and then carrying it for 9 months...how can we expect them to be the same after doing something so unbelievably amazing?!

Don't get me wrong...I do believe it's important to take care of ourselves and eat balanced, nutritious food that tastes good and makes us feel good.  I also think exercise can be a great way to have a little "me time" and help us to feel more energized.  But instead of putting so much pressure on ourselves to do these things in order to look a certain way, I think we should instead respect our bodies and the process that led them to their current state.  
Our babies are watching us, and they are learning from the things we say and do.  Let's send the message that they didn't ruin our bodies, but rather transformed them in a way that only the incredible process of pregnancy and birth can, and we wouldn't change that for the world.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thinking outside the box: Simple and delicious homemade granola bars

I apologize for the long hiatus from blogging.  Since my last post, I've completed my thesis, so I now officially have my Master's degree in Nutritional Science!  My thesis project was designing a web-based intuitive eating course, so stay tuned for details on how you can enroll in the class once it launches.

As I've mentioned previously, I believe that a diet made up mostly of whole, minimally-processed foods is optimal, so with that in mind, I've been trying to slowly decrease the amount of packaged foods I regularly consume.  One item I've consistently eaten that comes from a package is granola bars.  They're a convenient food to throw in my purse (or, these days, my diaper bag!) and grab when I'm feeling a little hungry between meals.  I've thought about making my own for a while, but figured it would be too much work, and not worth the effort.  Boy, was I wrong!  Over the last few months, I've been experimenting with a couple recipes and tweaking them each time until I came up with the PERFECT homemade granola bar!  Yes, it's more effort than simply opening a box, but it's really pretty easy (takes about 30 minutes to make, and you've got at least a week's worth of granola bars to show for it) and they're DELICIOUS, so it's definitely worth the effort!  So, after much trial and error, here's my recipe for the perfect homemade granola bar:

Perfect Soft and Chewy Granola Bars

Adapted from Inspired Taste

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dried fruit (I've used cranberries, raisins, prunes, cherries, etc), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp mini chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Add oats and almonds to a baking sheet (I line mine with aluminum foil to make it easier to transfer it to a bowl afterwards) then bake 5 minutes, stir and bake another 3 to 5 minutes until lightly toasted.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add ground flaxseed and mix in with oats and almonds.

Combine coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.

Pour butter mixture into bowl with toasted oats and almonds.  Mix well.  Let cool about 5 minutes, then add cranberries, and 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips.  Stir to combine.  (The chocolate chips will most likely melt a little.  This is fine, they turn into glue and help to hold the bars together).  

Transfer oat mixture to an 8- or 9-inch square pan lined with parchment paper, and press mixture into the pan using a rubber spatula.  Then take another piece of parchment paper (or the foil you used to toast the almonds and oats), place on top, and push down HARD with your fingers.

Scatter remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips over pressed granola mixture, then press them into the top using your fingers over a piece of parchment paper (or foil).  Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Remove block of granola mixture from pan, then peel away from parchment paper.  Cut into 12-14 bars.  Store in refrigerator (because of flaxseed).
I'm telling you, these granola bars are seriously delicious!  And, while they do contain a fair amount of sugar, they are also packed with whole grains from the oats, fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids from the flaxseed, and flavonoids from the dark chocolate.  And at least you know exactly what's in them, and that they contain absolutely no preservatives, because you prepared them in your own kitchen. These are also very customizable, and you can really add whatever you want to them.  For example, I swapped out some of the oats from the original recipe in order to add in the flaxseed.  I've also used chopped up prunes instead of cranberries.  At some point I'd like to try using yogurt chips in place of chocolate chips.  Or maybe some chopped up dried mango instead of the cranberries.  The possibilities are endless!

Does this mean I'll never eat a packaged granola bar again?  No, absolutely not.  Some weeks I may not have enough time to make a batch of granola bars, and I'll have to rely on the pre-made ones instead.  Will I feel horribly guilty about it?  No way!  Eating intuitively means living in the gray, rather than prescribing to an all-or-nothing, black-or-white eating philosophy.  As much as possible, I try to make choices that honor my health while also providing satisfaction, but when I make choices for convenience or pure pleasure, that's okay too.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Meal plans vs. planning meals

I don't write meal plans.  Sure, you can find many a nutritionist who will gladly tell you what, when, and how much to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, but I'm not one of them.  I believe that prescribing meal plans violates personal boundaries, and while they may work to improve eating or promote weight loss in the short term, they are not sustainable, and inevitably lead to dieting backlash in the form of overeating.  Instead, I believe that people should eat when they are hungry, (rather than when a meal plan tells them to), stop when they are full (versus eating a prescribed portion size), and eat what is appealing and satisfying to them in that moment (as opposed to what someone else says you "should" be eating).

However, unless you have a personal chef at your disposal at all times to indulge your every whim (let's just think for a moment about how fantastic that would be...ahhh...okay, fantasy over), it's quite difficult to eat in a balanced and non-chaotic fashion without doing a little planning.  Which is why I think it's absolutely fine and healthy (both physically and psychologically) to do some pre-planning when it comes to meals and snacks.  When you find yourself feeling those first signs of hunger, having some options in mind beforehand will help you to eat in a more controlled, less chaotic manner, and will likely put your mind at ease as well.

I've also come to the conclusion that, after 2 years of advanced education in nutrition, the single-most valuable piece of advise I can give someone who is looking to improve their eating is this...(drum roll please)...cook for yourself as much as possible!  As I've mentioned before, eating packaged and processed foods is not optimal for your health, and constantly eating out isn't ideal either.  You have to remember that people in the restaurant business want to make their food taste as rich and decadent as possible to insure repeat customers, so they will invariably add more sugar, salt, and fat to the foods they prepare than you ever would if cooking for yourself.  Don't get me wrong...I love eating out just as much as the next person!  And I eat out probably at least once per week.  But, I also try to cook for myself as much as possible, and have ingredients available in my home that make last minute meal preparation do-able.  That way I don't find myself browsing through takeout menus when hunger strikes.

Lately I've discovered a fantastic and super simple way to have a key ingredient available to make various different delicious and healthful meals for me and my family: Crockpot Shredded Chicken. I prepare this chicken in the morning or afternoon, and it's ready for that night's dinner, with enough left over for at least another two meals afterwards.  Here's the recipe:


Crockpot Shredded Chicken

Found on mountainmamacooks.com

4 organic, boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup chicken broth (to make life easier, I freeze 1/2 cup portions so they're ready to go)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Place chicken in slow cooker.  Sprinkle chicken breasts with all the spices.  Add chicken broth.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Shred chicken with two forks.

The combo of the spices really gives a nice flavor to the chicken, and having this on hand in the refrigerator (or frozen, if you don't think you'll use it all within a few days) gives you lots of easy meal options-- sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, as well as many other recipes that call for shredded chicken.  I've made some seriously kick-ass salads with this chicken (and that's coming from someone who's not really a big salad fan!).  For the salads, I also buy pre-washed greens (lately I've been using a lot of arugula), some yummy nuts and dried cranberries as toppings, and I also pre-chop various veggies (cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, etc) and have them stored in glassware in the refrigerator, so I basically have a salad bar ready to go!

Below is one recipe I used the shredded chicken in the other night.  This is a bit more work than a salad, but it's not too bad, and it comes out really tasty.  It's actually a recipe I've made before, but had previously bought rotisserie chickens to do it, which are (a) hard to find organic (which is a priority to me, especially when purchasing meat and poultry), (b) more difficult to shred, because of those pesky bones, and (3) most definitely more expensive, since you're paying a premium for the service of having the store cook the chicken for you.  Anyway, here's the recipe:


Roasted Chicken-Artichoke Calzones

Found in Cooking Light magazine

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups thinly sliced fresh spinach leaves
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded sharp provolone (I used a shredded 4-cheese blend from Trader Joe's which consisted of parmesan, asiago, fontina, and provolone)
1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast (about 5 ounces)
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cornmeal
1 (13.8) oz can refrigerated pizza crust dough

1. Preheat over to 425.
2. Pat artichokes dry with paper towels (I skipped this step, and just strained them whole in a colander before chopping...didn't seem to be an issue at all).  Combine artichokes, salt, pepper, and garlic in a large bowl.  Add spinach, cheese, and chicken; toss gently to combine.
3. Brush oil over a baking sheet; sprinkle with cornmeal.  Unroll dough onto prepared baking sheet; cut into 6 equal portions. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.  Pat each portion into a 6 x 5-inch rectangle.  Spoon 2/3 cup spinach mixture into center of each dough portion.  Fold one corner of each dough portion over spinach mixture to form a triangle.  Press edges together with fingers to seal.  Bake at 425 for 12 minutes or until golden.

This recipe makes 6 servings, and can easily be reheated for lunch or dinner the next day (I put them in for 5 minutes at 450 and they reheated perfectly.  I chose to do this over the microwave because I didn't want them to get soggy).  We served them with marinara sauce for dipping, and a little side salad.  The folding of the dough can be a little annoying, but remember that the shape of the calzones doesn't have to be perfect...mine certainly weren't!

Anyone else have any tips for simplifying at-home meal preparation?  What ingredients do you always have on hand for last minute meals or snacks?  Please share below in the comments section.  I'm always looking for new ideas!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A whole lotta frittata

First, I must apologize for my extremely long hiatus from blogging.  The last couple months of pregnancy were pretty crazy, and then life got infinitely crazier once the baby arrived.  But our baby girl is here, and she's healthy, beautiful, amazing, and also a lot of work!
Our sweet girl
The first few weeks of motherhood were particularly challenging, and I found myself with absolutely no time to cook for myself.  Thankfully, we had frozen some meals weeks before, and we had some help from the grandparents (who flew in to meet their new granddaughter) as well as a postpartum doula, so our diet was pretty balanced as a result.  Once things settled down a bit and I found myself able to prepare food myself, however, I realized how much I truly missed cooking!  It's still not easy, though, and I've realized that some recipes are better suited than others for our new life.  I found, for instance, that meals that need to be prepared and eaten in the moment are not ideal, as the baby's temperament is not always predictable, meaning the food could be sitting in a skillet spoiling while we struggle to get her to sleep or be calm so that we have a moment to sit and eat.  Instead, I now tend to make dinners that can be eaten cold or at room temperature, or meals that I can prepare little by little as I find myself with a few spare moments to do so during the day.

One recipe I've made several times comes from a cookbook a vegetarian friend recommended to me and that I found online for literally a few dollars.  The cover is pretty hilarious-- straight out of the 80s!-- but there are some great recipes in there, including one I've grown to love and depend upon over the last few weeks: the Zucchini Frittata.

Doesn't look like much from the cover, but this little book has some great recipes!
Besides the fact that the finished product is extremely yummy (and it really is!), I also love that the Zucchini Frittata is quick and simple to make, it can be eaten at room temperature (meaning I can make it whenever I find myself with some time, like when she's napping), AND it's extremely versatile, as virtually any seasonal veggies can be used in place of the ones recommended in the recipe.

So here's the recipe:

Zucchini Frittata
reprinted from the Sunset Vegetarian Cooking cookbook

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 large Swiss chard leaves (including stems), coarsely chopped - I use pre-chopped bagged Swiss chard from Trader Joe's and just eyeball how much I want to add in
1 medium-size zucchini, coarsely chopped
6 eggs
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dry basil
1/4 tsp oregano leaves
1 cup (3 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat oil in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, chard, and zucchini; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Beat eggs lightly with pepper, basil, and oregano.  Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan (I used my GreenPan, which doesn't need to be greased at all...it literally slides right out onto a plate.  Love it!).  Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes or until puffed and browned.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Makes 6 servings (for us it was more like 4 servings, since we were eating it for dinner).

This frittata paired with a simple salad is a fantastic weeknight dinner that is both delicious and nutritious, and super quick and easy to make to boot!

So, yes, being a mother to a newborn can make eating balanced, tasty meals more of a challenge, but it's definitely not impossible.  With a little planning and special consideration for the types of meals that are easier to fit into our new life, I can still enjoy cooking for myself, and making foods that are truly satisfying, both to the palate and to my body.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

WDNE? (What Do Nutritionists Eat?)

I saw this article recently called 8 Top Meals from Nutritionists, revealing what nutrition professionals really eat, and thought it would be fun to share what I've been eating these days.  I feel like I already share some of my favorite dinner recipes, so I'll skip that one and just talk about what I like to eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and a veggie side dish I've been really into lately.  Here goes!:

Breakfast
Lately for breakfast, I've been thoroughly enjoying a bowl of Nature's Path Flax Plus flakes, which provides me with 5 g of fiber, a bit of protein, and (thanks to the flax seeds used in the flakes) Omega-3 fatty acids, the consumption of which has been shown to have many health benefits.  In addition, the 4 g of sugar per serving is considerably lower than your average cereal, and the Nature's Path brand voluntarily labels their foods as GMO free, which I love!  In order to add a little bit of sweetness, I mix in just a dash of Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Granola, but not too much because it has more added sugar than I would like to have first thing in the morning.  On top of all this, I sprinkle some crushed walnuts, which provide me with more Omega-3s, as well as some pomegranate seeds, which add additional fiber, vitamins C and B5, potassium, and several natural phenols, which appear to have antioxidant effects in humans.  I didn't used to be a huge fan of pomegranate seeds, because I thought they were too sour-tasting, but when mixed with the cereal, it really dilutes the sourness and all that's left is a burst of flavor with each bite...yum!  Getting the seeds out of the fruit can be a challenge (here's how I do it: How to cut open and remove pomegranate seeds), but once it's done, I just put all the seeds in a container and I don't have to do it again for a solid week!  Finally, I pour some almond milk over everything, which I prefer over milk because it's gentler on my stomach (but you can use regular skim milk if you prefer!).

Lunch
For lunch I've been using my brand new Breville panini press (a Christmas gift...thanks, Mom!) to make yummy grilled cheese sandwiches!  They vary depending on what I have on hand, but I always use my favorite bread-- Genesis 1:29.  I find it in the freezer section of my grocery store, and I highly recommend it as a healthy and tasty bread choice.  It's chock full of all kinds of whole grains, and is coated with crunchy seeds on the outside, which makes for a great textural experience.  Between the two slices, I'm provided with 8 g of protein, 6 g of fiber, and ZERO grams of sugar.  I coat the outsides of each slice (the sides that will be in contact with the grill) with a thin layer of Earth Balance Organic Whipped Spread, then I use 2 slices of whatever cheese I have on hand (recently I used a slice of light provolone and a slice of gouda...excellent!), add a generous handful of fresh spinach (rich in antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, folic acid, and vitamins C, E, K, and B2), and grill that sucker on the panini press for 5-7 minutes...so good and so simple!  And a great way to sneak in some veggies at lunch time!

Snack
There are lots of different foods I like to snack on, but one of my all time favorites is fruit, cheese, and crackers.  In the above photo, I have some manchego cheese, an apple, and Trader Joe's Rosemary Raisin Crisps.  I get some calcium and protein from the cheese, vitamins and fiber from the apple, and a yummy crunch from the rosemary raisin crisps (plus, they actually have some protein in them too!).  

Veggie Side Dish
As I said, I've already shared many of my favorite dinner recipes here on this blog (including the Swiss Cheese, Turkey Bacon, and Kale Quiche, the Tart with beets, figs, and chevre, and my simple stand-by, Blondie Pizza), so I'll just share a veggie side dish that I've been loving lately: Oven-roasted Brussel Sprouts.  I will admit...I was a little frightened by brussel sprouts, so I understand if you're hesitant to try these, but I assure you, they are fantastic!!  And the best part is that they require no recipe and very little preparation.  Just slice the brussel sprouts in half, toss in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper (use your judgement on how much of these to use!), then dump them onto a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 40 minutes, shaking the pan and/or turning the brussel sprouts every 10-15 minutes or so.  I'm telling you...these taste like candy when they're done cooking!!  I can't get enough of them!  And besides being delicious, these will provide you with fiber, tons of vitamin C, as well as sulforaphane, a compound thought to have anti-cancer properties.  

So that's a glimpse of what this nutritionist likes to eat these days.  To some of you, this might sound super healthy, while others of you might be thinking that my diet isn't healthy enough (I mean, grilled cheese for lunch?  Say what?!).  For those who think it sounds really healthy: Please keep in mind that I also enjoy chocolate, ice cream, cookies, and all that other yummy "play food" (a better word than "junk food" that describes food with little to no nutritional value) when I feel like it, but generally speaking, the bulk of my diet consists of foods that make me feel my best, while also satisfying my taste buds.  To those who think it's not healthy enough: You're right, I'm not perfect, but just like everyone else, I try my best. I realize that there is evidence that some of the stuff I eat may not be the best for my health (some people think dairy is the devil, for example, but I'd rather not live without cheese, thank you!), but I try not to stress about it and instead focus on eating a balanced diet using my intuition as my guide (which is driven not only by my taste buds, but also my whole body and how it feels in the hours and days after I eat).

How about you?  Do you have any simple, healthful meals you like to eat?  Please share below!