How to eat well while traveling? A permission slip to be picky

How to eat well while traveling? A permission slip to be picky

Did you know approximately 1 in 5 of American’s have IBS and 40% of the population is living with a chronic condition?
This is a good reason to be nice to ourselves and nice to others because we don’t know what they are going through. It can be especially challenging to know how to eat well while traveling.

In January, Kristen and I went on our first international Well Balanced adventure to Costa Rica! It was an incredible trip coordinated by our new friend, Amanda Chay, with Wonderment. Needless to say, we had a lot of new experiences such as repelling down the side of the canyon into surprisingly cold water and discovering my new obsession with papaya!

As many of you know, I (Lucy), have been managing and coping with IBS for several years now. Click here to learn more. Anyway, whenever I travel, I get a little extra anxious around the lack of control regarding my food choices. In our small group of seven, we had 80% of the meals preplanned and catered to us. Normally, this sounds like a dream come true! However, when you have food sensitivities it can be more like a nightmare.

How I stay routine and regular

On our first morning in San Jose, Costa Rica, while I scooped up a small bowl of oatmeal my fiancé told our tour guide leader, Amanda, that oatmeal is a daily ritual of mine. She laughed and said, “well you can enjoy a break from that because I don’t have oatmeal on the menu for our breakfasts this week.” I laughed, I looked at Andrew and said, “isn’t she so funny?“ What Amanda did not know is I had packed six portable oatmeal packets and mini almond and peanut butter packets in order to continue my routine, which helps keep other things routine (*wink *wink).

So often, while talking about setting up healthy habits and sticking with them I hear clients say “but I don’t want to be picky or difficult.” For instance, if someone has a digestive and sinus issues they may greatly benefit by going dairy-free; however, when going to a friends house or out to eat they decide to just be polite and eat all the things despite knowing the negative effects of eating dairy products.

Change takes effort at first

Two years ago, when I did the big IBS elimination diet, I found my brain consumed thinking about “what am I going to eat at my next meal??” We’ve learned between 80 to 95% of everything we do is subconscious – think about last time you took a shower… did you think about every move you made? It takes time and energy to make conscious changes to our dietary choices, but it is possible. First, we must become aware of what and why we want to change. Then, we can make a plan and take action.

It doesn’t take that long to start feeling a little better and for your brain to pick up on new habits if you stay consistent. Some people will tell you it’s only 21 days; however, we learned from the book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin that on average new habits take about 66 days.

Your permission slip…

If you’re in the midst of making dietary and lifestyle changes or you already know what works for you, remember it’s OK to be picky and know that on occasion we might slip up and put cheese on the salad with ranch dressing because after all, we are human.

If you’re ready to feel better and determine which foods may be triggering inflammation and pain in your body, let’s chat.

Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups

Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups


Until recently, I have been eating upside down. No, not eating while standing on my head – that would be an interesting site. Ha.

I was starting my day off with too little calories and eating most of my calories toward the end of the day. That’s a bit upside down considering we need good fuel during the day when we are moving, thinking, working, walking, and doing all the things and at night we tend to slow down, relax and unwind – things that don’t require as much fuel.

When you are busy, it can feel hard to give breakfast the attention it deserves. For a while, it was the last thing on my mind in the morning (even though I was fixing my kids a good breakfast). I was just grabbing something small that would satisfy me for the moment. As Lucy explained a few weeks ago, eating too little early in the day can easily lead to overcompensating in the evening. This was definitely true in my case. I was feeling hungry and deprived by the afternoon. Then, my belly would start hurting. I’d eat too quickly at dinner time and then my belly would hurt even more. Ugh. It was not a good cycle. Can you relate?

Is breakfast that important?

In general, eating breakfast has been associated with lower body weight. Seventy-eight percent of those who have lost weight and kept it off for a year or longer are regular breakfast eaters. Breakfast has also been shown to increase fullness while reducing appetite, food cravings, and brain signals that regulate reward-driven eating behavior. Furthermore, studies show that eating a high-quality, high-protein breakfast decreases late-night snacking of foods high in sugar and fat.

So, if food cravings and late night snacking are things you struggle with, I highly recommend focusing on your breakfast. Perhaps you are eating upside down, too? Try a high-quality, high-protein breakfast.

What is a high-quality, high-protein breakfast?

Well, first, your breakfast should be made of real food. I know it’s super tempting to just grab a protein bar or granola bar on your way out the door, but those protein and granola bars often include a lot of artificial ingredients and added sugars and is far from what nature intended. This is not to say it’s never okay to have them. They should just be a backup breakfast instead of a go-to breakfast.

Secondly, you want to aim for a breakfast that contains between 20 and 30 grams of protein. Here are some examples of what that might look like:

  • Two Egg Omelet with leftover veggies, 1 oz of beef and cheese = 29 grams protein
  • Egg and Canadian Bacon Breakfast Sandwich on English Muffin = 26 grams protein
  • 8 oz Greek Yogurt with 1 oz Nuts = 26 grams protein
  • Peanut Butter Quinoa = 31 grams protein
  • Easy Morning, Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups with fruit and yogurt = 30 grams protein

If you are like me and have busy mornings that can feel rushed, you may like this make-ahead option that works for me.

Easy Morning Egg, Potato and Zucchini Cups

These can make your morning easy-peasy and delicious! Make them on the weekend and reheat them each day. They go great with yogurt and fruit or avocado and fruit.

  • 1 medium zucchini (grated)
  • 1 cup frozen hashbrowns
  • 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1-2 teaspoon Savory All-Purpose Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease an extra large muffin tin with oil.
  3. Evenly distribute the hash-browns in each cup. Then the shredded zucchini and cheese.
  4. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and add in salt, pepper, turmeric and a savory all purpose blend (or use your favorite blend).
  5. Pour egg mixture into each cup Give each cup a little stir and bake for 20-25 minutes.

To reheat: Place on microwave safe plate and heat for 1 minute 15 seconds on 50% power. Add 10-15 more seconds as needed.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 312, Protein 16g, Carbohydrate 14 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g,
Total Sugars 2g, Total Fat 21g, Saturated Fat 7g, Monounsaturated Fat 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat 3g


Food for thought: Let me know if you try these and what you think! Or share with us your favorite make-ahead high-quality protein-packed breakfast.

Protein-Rich Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

Protein-Rich Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

I love eggs for breakfast. With just the right amount of protein and fat, they are satisfying and delicious until… the burnout. Have you ever grown tired of eggs? What about your family? Maybe you make a not-so-great batch of eggs one morning and your 4-year-old then declares that she no longer likes eggs. Sigh. Only later in the week to request that I make eggs like Denny’s does. Haha. Denny’s eggs coming right up! Okay, so maybe that only happens to me…

Anyhow, burnout happens. I hear from the tribe that you need more ideas. Great news! I’ve got the perfect alternative. These protein-rich pumpkin cookies have 8g of protein, 4g of fiber and only 2g of added sugar. They are made from real food ingredients and do not contain gluten, artificial sweeteners or protein powder. You can’t beat that. See complete NUTRITION FACTS here.

  • Great for little kids. Just one cookie will meet nearly the entire day’s worth of protein needs for your little one (based on myplate servings). It is also extremely rich in iron, an important nutrient for this age group.  Not to mention you’re squeezing in a tiny serving of vegetables without them noticing. Blending the pumpkin seeds and the oats really helps make these a kid-friendly texture.
  • Great for big kids. This can be an on-the-go breakfast or after school snack. Would also be great for replenishing after a sports game or practice.
  • Great for adults. Use it as an afternoon pick-me up, a breakfast paired with fruit, or a post-workout snack when you have a really strenuous session.

They are light, fluffy and will resemble more of a muffin top than a cookie. I’ve been enjoying them with my morning coffee and they hold me over very well.  How will you enjoy them? As a breakfast or a snack? Both?

Protein-Rich Pumpkin Cookies

These cookies pack in protein, iron, vitamin A and fiber – all from real, natural foods! Enjoy for breakfast or snack.

  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (natural)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (processed into a powder)
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (to make throw old fashioned oats into the food processor)
  • 1/4 cup Raisins
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  1. In a small bowl, beat the pumpkin and almond butter using a hand-held mixer until smooth. Add eggs and mix well. Mix in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and chia seeds. Add baking soda, oat flour and pumpkin seed powder mix until combine. Fold in raisins.
  2. Scoop onto lined cookie sheet making 12 large cookies.
  3. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

You can leave pumpkin seeds whole or blend them in a blender or food processor to form a flour.
To make oat flour: blend old fashioned oats in a blender or food processor until a flour consistency is reached.

This recipe was modified from a recipe by The Lean Green Bean.

3 steps to flip upside down eating

3 steps to flip upside down eating

Monday, March 20, 2017

It’s Monday morning, you’ve decided this is the week, “I’m going to be healthy and lose weight!”

You start with a fruit and vegetable smoothie, a handful of 7 almonds for a mid-morning, a tossed salad with grilled chicken and light dressing at lunch, and a piece of fruit in the afternoon.

Then you arrive home, it’s 5:30 PM, what’s your first stop? Straight to the pantry… because you’re starving!! 

  • Handful of pretzels, check
  • A bag of snack size Doritos (bought for the kid’s lunches), check
  • Leftover cookie from the weekend, check

Now it’s time to cook dinner. Still trying to eat right, you prepare broiled salmon with asparagus and brown rice. Feeling hungry and unsatisfied at the end of the night you find yourself back in the pantry for couple more handfuls of this and that and you’re finally done. 

You ask yourself, “What happened?? Today was supposed to be different!” This is what I call upside down eating as shown in the inverted pyramid.

When we start the day trying so hard to be good we typically deny our body calories.

What is a calorie? More specifically, what does a calorie give you?


When we deny our bodies the energy they require to do life we end up getting hungry signals from our body to make up for the calorie deficit at the end of the day. 

Flip your pyramid upside down

  1. Eat more energy in the morning. Yes, that means breakfast. Some find benefit by eating breakfast like a king but for people that are not hungry I recommend breakfast 1 and breakfast 2 – these include light options such as yogurt, a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, whole-grain crackers with peanut butter, or oatmeal.
  2. Eat when you’re hungry. The first step, identify what hunger feels like in your body. If you just ate, it might just be thirst. I recommend having 16 oz of water and reevaluating after 15 minutes. For the mid-afternoon crash, have high protein non-trigger foods such as unsalted nuts, cheese stick, or low-sodium deli meat. Drinking coffee or tea to postpone eating will likely lead to overeating later.
  3. Become more mindful. If you’re standing at the desk, answering emails, taking phone calls, or rushing to a meeting you are likely not in tune with the calories you are consuming. Can you take 30-60 seconds to pause before inhaling the food to thank your body and the creator for providing this nourishment? 

Food for thought: 

As a non-breakfast eater for 3 years I know this can be a challenging concept. For me, it was all about starting small – that’s where breakfast 1 and 2 helped! 

When are you eating the most energy (calories)?

When do you need more energy?

Tell us in the comments below what you’ll do to flip your pyramid this week!

Delicious ways to indulge your sweet tooth AND nourish your body

Delicious ways to indulge your sweet tooth AND nourish your body

It’s rare that I meet someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth. Some of us struggle more than others with sweet cravings. How do we indulge our sweet tooth in a healthy way? Here are some thoughts.

Mindful Pause

First, we must take a mindful pause before we eat. Until we are fully aware of our emotions, senses, and actions, we can not get a true sense of our needs. Sometimes we are hungry and we need to eat. Other times we may be frustrated, tired or bored and looking for an escape from those uncomfortable feelings. Obviously, food will only solve the first problem and we all know that uncomfortable feelings won’t go away by eating chocolate (although, that would be awesome!).  So, the next time you get a craving for something sweet, take a mindful pause to assess your needs.

Indulge When It’s a Worthy Experience

Next, ask yourself is it worth it? A well-balanced diet has room for treats. Some treats are delicious AND nutritious and some are less healthy. When you want to indulge in a less healthy treat it should be special and worth every bite. It should be an experience that makes you want to close your eyes and simultaneously say, “mmmmm.” The candy from a jar at work… although delicious, probably not very special. You just throw it in your mouth and go about your day. Those calories don’t really seem worth it. But a melt-in-your-mouth s’more when you are on a family camping trip or a decadent homemade pie you only get once a year around the holidays… those are the kind of treats that might be worth it. It’s your decision to make.  When you decide it’s totally worth it, go ahead and take it all in and bask in each and every sensation.

Fruit, Vegetables and Chocolate 

Third, incorporate some delicious AND nutritious treats in your routine for a more satisfying daily diet. Dietitians really have a knack for combining healthier ingredients like fruits and vegetables with their chocolate! So in honor of #NationalNutritionMonth, here I highlight some tasty treats packed with healthy perks from real, quality food ingredients including my own recipe for Chocolate Banana Nut Muffins.


Ellie Krieger’s Dark Chocolate Covered Banana Pops – 

Fun for kids and a great way to treat yourself on a sunny day!













Chocolate Chia Avocado Mousse by Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE

Check out this decadent, vegan mousse. Go ahead, whip up a creamy bowl of happiness, as Rachael says!














Sweet Potato Avocado Muffins by The Real Food Dietitians

“An ooey-gooey fudgy brownie bite filled with healthy fats and chocolaty goodness.”




























And here is my latest creation. I had bananas that were past their prime so I baked these chocolate muffins. They aren’t overly sweet so they made a good breakfast or snack. But if you wanted to dial up the sweetness a notch, just add your favorite chocolate chips and/or try adding some whipped cream cheese icing and voila! Your muffin is more like a cupcake!


Chocolate Banana Nut Muffins

These muffins are a delicious for breakfast, snack or dessert. Each muffin has 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Add healthy fats with optional walnuts or bump up the fun factor with some dark chocolate chips.

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2-3 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or dark chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fill a muffin tin with liners and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa powder.
  4. In separate bowl mash bananas. Add vanilla, egg, and melted butter.
  5. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth.
  6. (Optional) Fold in walnuts or dark chocolate chips
  7. Scoop into muffin pans.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.