Monthly Archives: March 2011

Curious About Coconut Water?

I’ve had a lot of questions recently about Coconut water. What is it? Should I be drinking it? I don’t like it but I feel like I should; what do I do? I understand your confusion and anxiety! New drinks (and other products), marketed as the newest miracle in nutrition are popping up daily and it’s overwhelming! Coconut water was originally marketed as a sports drink, or “the ultimate hydration drink,”  but is now advertised as beneficial for the general public as well.

What is Coconut Water?

Coconut water comes from green, not fully developed, coconuts. Because of its “young age”, the coconut contains more water, less flesh, and no fat. Interestingly it is has been used intravenously in remote locations when rehydration fluids weren’t available during times of crisis. However, research on the benefits in this capacity is inconclusive.

What are the benefits?

It contains high levels of potassium (equal to about 1.5 medium bananas), sodium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. It provides greater levels of these electrolytes than many sports drinks and has about half the sugar and calories.

The high electrolyte content does make it a good option for replenishment but unless you’re a marathon runner, triathlete, or exercising several hours per day you just need water to rehydrate and don’t need the extra electrolytes.

It’s important to note, though, there is virtually no research to support health claims such as “better and faster at rehydrating than water” or that it can increase sports performance.   I also found an article in TIME claiming it to be a good hangover cure.  After trying it, I think it might make my hangover worse!

Should I drink Coconut Water?

If you like the taste of it, it’s certainly OK to drink in moderation. There isn’t anything outwardly wrong with it. It’s fairly low in calories (60 per 11-14 oz) compared to other sugar-sweetened beverages and sports drinks (with the exception of no-calorie beverages); however, it is not calorie-free so you shouldn’t drink several per day and it shouldn’t replace all regular water you drink.

With that said, I don’t see any reason to feel a need to drink it. To start, it’s quite expensive – $2.79-$3.00 per 14oz bottle.

Also, it doesn’t provide any nutrients that you can’t get from a well-rounded diet. Remember, there are no miracle or super foods out there – each food fills a different role in your overall diet, which is why it’s important to eat a diverse diet.

I personally tried two different brands and didn’t like either. I didn’t like the flavor or the texture. But, I’m also not a huge sweetened beverage drinker – I mostly prefer water and seltzer. I’m not a sports-drink fan either. I don’t feel any pressure to drink these drinks just because they are the latest trend.

I surveyed a few friends to see what other people thought and the general feedback I received was negative. But if you are one of the few lovers out there (I do have one friend who is an avid fan), go ahead and continue to drink it. Just remember, do so in moderation!

- your food and fitness friend

Life is too short not to eat well: A review of Eataly!

It’s spring break! Though, I have to say, spring break in grad school isn’t exactly what I remember it as when I was an undergrad….sunshine and cocktails on the beach? Not for this grad student. Since I couldn’t escape to somewhere exotic I decided to visit my old stomping grounds…NYC. And as such a food lover, of course my weekend was planned around where I would eat!

After living there for over thee years, I find it hard to not go back to my favorite neighborhood spots. But since I don’t get the opportunity to head back there often, I decided I should try some place new. I’ve been hearing the buzz about Mario Batali’s new venture, Eataly; I had to check it out.

Eataly is a new way of dining. Built on the idea of simple Italian cooking with few ingredients, the concept was devised by four partners, including Batali and Lidia Bastianich (of Lidia’s Italy), in conjunction with Slow Food. Eataly combines an Italian marketplace with 5 restaurants. Each restaurant is dedicated to a specific food: Verdure (vegetables), Pesce (fish), La Pizza, La Pasta, and Manzo (meat). There is also a café and espresso bar as well as a wine bar.

All of the restaurants are meant to showcase one specific food type using simple, fresh ingredients.

As we entered Eataly I was immediately overwhelmed, excited, and unsure where to begin! Luckily Allison, who was with me and had been here once before, was able to guide me through. She suggested checking out all the markets and menus before deciding where we’d eat. It was Saturday night at 8p so navigating the crowds proved a little difficult, but it added to the experience!

After quickly walking past all of the scrumptious looking pastries and gelato at the espresso bar, we came to the first restaurant: Manzo. An extensive menu, typical upscale Italian restaurant style with Antipasti, Primi, and Secondi. Entrees ranged from $18-$40 a plate.  There is also a $90 tasting menu.

We continued through the maze of people to the fish market and La Pesce; Allison had eaten here previously so we had already decided that we wouldn’t eat here, but I had to check out the menu.  If I get a chance to come back, I will eat here!

Next to La Pesce sits La Verdure along with a beautiful, colorful produce market. This menu had the fewest options, though everything sounded delicious.

Our final destination was La Pizza and La Pasta; the two restaurants share a dining space. How can you pass up Pizza and Pasta at an Italian restaurant? We couldn’t!  The prices were right as well – between $12-$19. Of course, everyone had the same idea so there was an hour wait. No problem – off the wine bar!

The wine bar, mindfully placed the center of all of the restaurants, features tall marble top tables (typical Batali style – reminded me of Otto in the west village) along with two small bars plus a cheese and meat shop.

I was impressed by the wine list, which featured over 20 wines by the glass. Prices range from $8-$25/glass with most between $9-$12. Additional bottles are also available. I am not terribly confident in my Italian wine ordering skills so I decided to ask the bartender for a recommendation (especially since my two go-to Italian grapes were not on the list!). After describing to him what I like he gave both Allison and I a taste of the Barolo, which was reasonably priced ($9), drinkable with pizza or pasta, and tasty. I always like when a bartender doesn’t try to automatically serve you the most expensive glass on the list. It shows me he’s really listening to what kind of wine I’m looking for.

Allison and I share a great love for red wine and good cheese. When we lived together (with our third roommate who also shared this love) I think we had the best-stocked cheese drawer of any Chelsea apartment! We often hosted wine and cheese parties on our rooftop so we couldn’t help but reminisce those great times over a cheese and charcuterie (meat) plate. We were promptly served perfectly crusty on the outside but soft in the middle Italian bread along with 5 cheeses (chef’s choice of the day) and several different salumi’s (Italian meats).  Lavender honey, apricot preserves, and fig jam were perfect accompaniments served on the side.

We couldn’t have been happier!

When it was time for dinner, we wandered back over to the bustling La Pizza/Pasta area. An adorable Italian waiter greeted us, shared a few specials, and even engaged in some short banter with Allison who was trying to practice her Italian. At 9p there was still a long list of people waiting to eat and he didn’t rush us one bit (nice surprise in NYC where servers are often trying to move as many people through as possible). Dinner was a tough decision but we both settled on Bucatini dishes. Mine with tomatoes, onions and guanciale and hers with olive oil, parmesan and black pepper; an Italian classic!

My pasta tasted like Italy. There is no other way to describe it but simple and delicious. It brought me back to the meals I ate on the Amalfi Coast several years ago.  This was worth the hour-long wait. They certainly lived up to their motto: Eataly is Italy!

As a note Eataly doesn’t take reservations but if there is a wait, there is plenty to keep you occupied if there is a wait!

- your food and fitness friend

Does it really cost more to eat a healthful diet?

This is huge topic of debate among my classmates and I. It’s definitely a complicated topic with many factors outside just the basic rules of supply and demand. For example, corn, soy, and grain subsidies affect the entire food system, not just the price or sale of these items. But I won’t bore you with a rant on the problems with our food system.

As a grad student, I’ve certainly had to learn how to eat on a budget – but I also won’t sacrifice nutritional value and have found a lot of ways to eat healthy on a budget!

Back in October, Kathleen Merrigan, the deputy secretary of the US department of agriculture, spoke at Tufts. One of the most memorable parts are her speech was her discussion of the uphill battle she is fighting when it comes to convincing people that you can eat a healthful diet on a limited budget. She talked about the cost of a cup of apples (21 cents), carrots (25 cents), and bananas (28 cents). For less than $1 you can get half the daily recommended serving of fruits and vegetables.

Now, this is just an average, and doesn’t mean that everyone has access to these foods or prices. But, the point she was trying to make is that the argument that healthy food costs too much is not a valid one.

A new study published in Public Health Nutrition, looked at this controversy a little more closely. The researches used two tools to evaluate the healthfulness of different foods at the grocery store: NuVal and Nutrition Detectives.

NuVal  is a nutrition ranking system that calculates a value between 1-100 (100 is the most nutritious) The system takes into account over 30 nutrients along with other nutrition factors (type of fat, amount of sugar, etc) and boils it down to one number. You may have seen this system, or another similar system, on the shelves at your grocery store. Though it hasn’t necessarily changed consumers purchasing habits, it was certainly helpful for this study.

Nutrition Detectives is a nutrition education program developed to, “teach kids to make healthy choices.” The program focuses on reading food labels, detecting marketing deceptions, and making good food choices.

David Katz, MD, primary investigator on this study, sent shoppers to the scour the shelves of the grocery store and purchase an equal number of foods that either met or did not meet the criteria. When the shoppers returned, they reviewed the nutrition content of each product, using the two systems above.

What did they find?

In general, nutritious foods did not cost anymore than the non-nutritious food.  The researchers found that outside the produce aisle, nutrition and price do not correlate in any way. As a note, this study only took into consideration prices at grocery stores across several markets. It did not factor in fast food prices or cost of foods at small corner or convenience stores.

We need to shift the way we think about the value of our food

When comparing foods calorie for calorie, less nutritious foods may cost less; however, are calories really the nutrient we want more of? In most cases, probably not. This study looks at which nutrients you are getting for your hard earned dollar. In my mind, this is the most important consideration when comparing prices of foods. In his review in the Huffington Post a few weeks ago, Katz sums this up well:

Throughout most of human history, calories were relatively scarce and hard to get. More calories per dollar was a logical metric for food value in such a world. But that is no longer our world. Ours is a world of epidemic obesity, and more calories per dollar simply means the chance to gain more weight at no extra charge. Many people are willing to spend a fortune to lose the pounds they gained for free! Perhaps it’s time to recognize that nutrition per dollar is the better measure of value.

Let’s compare a bag of chips to a bag of 8 oranges, which right now (since oranges are in season) cost about the same – $2.50 – $3.00. Calorie for calorie, the chips are better deal. However, what are you REALLY getting with those calories? Fat, salt, and sometimes chemicals to name a few things. The oranges, on the other hand, give you nearly a full daily dose of vitamin C along with several other nutrients. This doesn’t seem like a hard choice to me.


Eating a healthful, well-rounded diet can be more expensive if you don’t know what you’re looking for or how to evaluate healthfulness, which is a challenge many consumers face. But, if you choose your foods wisely and cook at home, you can eat a nutrient filled diet on a limited budget.

Here are a few of the money saving strategies I use when I grocery shop:

Eat in season: Eating in season not only saves money, but the food often tastes better too because the growing conditions are at their peak (have you tasted a tomato recently? They have NO flavor!). Most of the time, food that’s in season doesn’t have to travel very far to get to your grocery store, which cuts back on transportation costs and allows the food to be harvested when it’s ripe, not before. Also, there is a greater supply of the food, leading to reduced prices for the consumer. This may mean being a little more adventurous with your produce at certain times of year, particularly in the winter, but that adds some fun to cooking and eating!

A few of my favorite late winter/early spring foods: artichokes; leeks and potatoes (can I say potato leek soup? YUM); oranges and grapefruits; and leafy greens like chard, kale, and spinach.

Buy in bulk: when available and if you have the storage space, buying in bulk saves you in the long run. This strategy works best for foods you eat regularly. Also, pre-portioned foods (i.e. mini 100-calorie packs or pre-cut produce) cost more. Instead, portion it out at home.

Choose store brand over name brand: This requires a little label reading, but you are an expert now, if you read this post! Check labels to make sure the store brand contains the same nutrients and doesn’t include extra chemicals or additional fat, sugar, or sodium. It also requires a little experimentation and may not be the right choice for every food product you buy because sometimes the store brand doesn’t taste the same. Often though, it’s worth the savings!

Meal plan: this is a big one! Plan out your meals for the week, make a grocery list, and stick to the list when you get to the store. It’s easy to get distracted by enticing grocery store displays (they set up the food to look so attractive for a reason!), but if you have a list to stick to, you’ll be less likely to spend extra money on unnecessary items. This not only keeps your grocery bill in check, but will help you stick to your healthful eating plan as well!

Look for sales: ok, this probably seems obvious. But, keep an eye out for sales on foods you eat regularly and stock up when they’re on sale, even if you don’t need them that moment. It will save money in the long run.

Have other strategies for saving a few bucks at the grocery store? Please share them.

Don’t forget to email me with questions at

Happy deal hunting!

- your food and fitness friend.

The Meatless Man Lunch

Reader Question: As we enter the season of Lent some of us have chosen to give up certain foods as a sacrifice. Myself, I have given up all meat products between sunrise and sunset. This is going to be tough! I need my man substance, I need my fuel and protein is my main source. Additionally, I like to eat out for lunch. What are some good ideas for a man lunch?


First, I’d like to commend you for giving up meat for 2 meals of your day! You’re not only doing something good for your health but it’s also a sustainable choice! Much of the meat that we eat comes from industrial farms that contribute heavily to greenhouse gases, treat their animals poorly, and feed animals food filled with antibiotics and hormones.  So even reducing your meat intake by one meal per day is beneficial for your health and the environment.

So, let’s talk about some good fish or vegetarian lunch options that will fill you up. Your new friends will be fish, beans, and mushrooms.

Fish is an excellent source of lean-protein and many varieties provide a healthy dose of omega-3’s which most of us can benefit from more of.

Beans are protein packed, low-calorie, full of vitamins, and high in fiber.  As an added bonus they’re very inexpensive compared to meat.

Mushrooms are low-calorie, very filling, and nutrient dense. They pack in several B vitamins, selenium (an antioxidant), potassium, and copper.

When looking for foods other than meat to fill you up, remember that fiber is digested slowly and keeps you full for a long time. Making simple changes like eating whole wheat bread instead of white and adding veggies to your sandwich can make a big difference in how full you feel after eating. Instead of fries or chips on the side, try a small salad or piece of fruit.

You can find quite a lot of options eating out but bringing lunch will save you money, and a LOT of calories. I particularly like to make something big on Sunday that I can take for lunch for the week. Some of my go-to options are: eggplant parm (great recipe here); tofu and veggie stir-fry; or a batch of roasted veggies that I can add to salads, sandwiches, or eat as a side.

With that said, most of the options below can be made at home OR found at your typical lunch stops. Don’t be afraid to customize your order in ways to make your lunch more nutritious. For example, swapping out a big sub roll for a whole-wheat wrap makes a huge difference in the nutrient content and number of calories you’re eating.

Some great filling sandwiches:

-       Tuna salad on whole wheat bread. I recommend making your own because restaurants/delis tend to add more mayo than necessary, adding heavily to the fat content.

For an even better option: make tuna salad with 2 tbsp of plain yogurt or 1 tbsp yogurt and 1 tbsp mustard per 4 oz of tuna (one regular can). Add chopped red onion, celery, green pepper, or any other veggies you like! I like to add a little sprinkle of dried dill and fresh ground pepper for extra flavor.  Top the sandwich with veggies of your choice! 1 can of tuna should make 2 regular sandwiches or 1 “manwich”.

-       Hummus and veggies. Start with a whole-wheat wrap or bread, top with 2 tbsp hummus (Sabra is my favorite), veggies of your choice and 1 slice of cheese (low-fat preferably). The hummus and cheese give you the protein and the whole wheat bread adds fiber so this sandwich keeps you full for the afternoon!

-       Grilled Portobello. I love portobello mushrooms and they are SUPER filling. They are a fantastic meat substitute because, when cooked right, they are really juicy and meaty. To make at home toss the mushroom with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Add a little fresh pepper and pinch of salt if you like. You can also try it with Worcestershire sauce to emulate the burger flavor a little more.  Then either grill it or cook it on medium heat on the stove top for about 7 minutes or until you see the juices starting to come out of it.

Eat it whole between two slices of bread, sliced in a wrap or on top of a salad. Top with veggies of your choice (I like roasted red peppers and baby spinach) and a little cheese if you like (goat cheese is delicious). You can also add any condiments that you’d normally add to a burger.

-       Egg sandwich:  eggs are not only for breakfast! This is better for a weekend lunch when you can eat at home. Scramble up 1 egg and two egg whites, mix in any veggies you like and a slice of cheese (optional). Wrap it up in a whole-wheat wrap and top with hot sauce, salsa, ketchup, or enjoy plain.


-       Start with greens of your choice (preferably baby spinach, mixed greens, arugula, or a dark leafy lettuce)

-       Add veggies of your choice

-       Top with ½ cup beans (chickpeas, white beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc), ½ can chopped tuna, or 4 oz (about the size of a deck of cards) of grilled salmon

-       For added protein, toss 1-2 tbsp of chopped walnuts, shaved almonds, or pecans

Dressing: try to use vinaigrettes or just olive oil and vinegar or lemon. Stay away from creamy dressings, they really pack in the calories and fat.

Soups: soups fill you up because they provide a lot of volume due to the water content. Stick to tomato or broth based soups and avoid cream-based options (NE clam chowder, broccoli cheddar, etc). Vegetable soups with beans are one of your best options. Grab a small whole wheat roll for dipping or a side salad to round out your meal.


Another option when eating out is sushi. Many sushi places have lunch specials where you can get 2 rolls and a salad for under $10. Keep it simple with the rolls – nothing fried (tempura) or with sauces that include mayonnaise (spicy tuna rolls are the biggest mayo offenders).

As a side note, there is a non-profit organization called Meatless Monday that encourages people to give up meat once per week. They offer a ton of great resources and recipes if you’re interested!

Good luck with your meatless lunches and let me know if you have further questions!

- your food and fitness friend

Have a question? I have answers (or will find one)

I recently received a great question in response to my post on reading a food label so I thought I’d post my answer for everyone to see.

Question: the following is label information from a “hearty” bread. It doesn’t say whole grain, is it still OK?

Package info:

Ingredients: Unbleached flour, malted barley flour, water, cracked wheat, salt, and yeast.

Nutrition content per 1 slice of bread: 25g carbs, 1g dietary fiber, 3g protein, 1/2g fat (no trans or saturated fat).

Unfortunately, this bread, even though it may seem hearty and filling, is not whole grain. The first ingredient lists unbleached flour which most likely means white flour. You can double check this with the fiber content – only one gram of fiber also signals to me that it’s not whole grain.

The cracked wheat may throw you off a little. But, it’s low on the ingredient list so it’s not providing a significant amount of nutrients to the bread; though may be giving it the “hearty” texture. If you’re wondering what malted barley flour adds to the bread (I was and looked it up) – it adds moisture and a slight sweet flavor to the bread, but unfortunately no real nutrients. It also extends shelf life.

With that said, I like that this bread only has a few ingredients. It’s not overly processed or filled with chemicals, which is a good thing.

My recommendation? Don’t make it the primary bread/grain your eating, but I wouldn’t totally toss it. Try to strive for at least 1/2 of your grains to be whole (more is better!) and keep bread like this as a little treat (sounds like it might be delicious dipped in soup) if you really enjoy it!

More questions? email them to

- your food and fitness friend

Can exercise lead to a longer life?

Exercise is good for you; that’s pretty hard to dispute.  It promotes weight management, reduces stress, builds heart health, improves blood sugar levels in type II diabetics, and leads to stronger muscles and bones, which provides protection against osteoporosis among other health benefits. It’s even been tied to feeling and looking younger. Not enough to convince you to exercise? How about if it will help you live longer?

A recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides evidence that exercise can increase life expectancy and reduce morbidity (disease/illness) and mortality (death). Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada tested the effects of endurance exercise on mice that were genetically programmed to age at a faster pace than normal. They did this by modifying the mitochondrial repair system in these mice.

How does this work?

Mitochondria are the energy generators of cells – without them we could not function. Previous research has shown that as we age, mitochondria begin to mutate and then deteriorate, which leads to tissue and organ deterioration. Some studies have tied reduced mitochondrial quality to age-related conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, type II diabetes, and dementia and other neurological disorders.

Getting older sounds pretty unappealing, huh?

On a more positive note, endurance exercise has been shown to induce mitochondrial growth. In fact, one of the ways we build our endurance is through the generation of new mitochondria (and more efficient use of the current mitochondria).

Exercise can slow effects of aging!

All of the mice in the study faced the same inability to repair the mitochondria and they developed the mutations quite quickly – by 3 months of age. At that point, half the mice were put on an exercise regimen of wheel running for 45 minutes, 3 times per week. A report in the NY Times compared this to a human running about 6 miles in 50-55 minutes. The other half of the mice remained sedentary.

5 months later, the sedentary mice showed several signs of aging including grey/white hair, alopecia (balding), weight loss, muscle loss, and frailty.  In addition their brains had shrunk, hearts were enlarged, and gonads shriveled. All were dead by 1 year.

Their exercising friends showed none of these signs of aging and all were still living after 1 year. Interestingly, the exercising mice had more mitochondria overall and fewer mutations than their sedentary counterparts.

What does this mean for us?

This is one of the first studies to show such a comprehensive effect of exercise on health and aging. There’s evidence here that that exercise may not just make you feel better, but it can actually help you live longer. Principal investigator of the study, Mark Tarnopolsky, sums up the study well, “Many people falsely believe the benefits of exercise will be found in a pill, [but] we clearly have shown that there is no substitute for the ‘real thing’ when it comes to protection from aging.”

So, get off that couch, or out from behind that computer (yes, I’m telling you to stop reading my blog for just a few minutes!) and start moving. This doesn’t mean you have to run 6-miles, 3 times a week to see benefits. If you don’t exercise at all, start slow – with a 15 to 20-minute walk a few days a week. Instead of sitting in the cafeteria while eating your lunch, take a short walk with a coworker and then eat after. Or, instead of meeting friends for happy hour after work, drag those friends to a new class at the gym (try my favorite: spinning)! Don’t like the gym? Spring is upon us and going for a bike ride, run, or hike outside is a fantastic weekend afternoon activity. As I have said before, find something you enjoy doing and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

It’s never too late to start. Ida Keeling, a 95-year-old woman, just set the world record for running 60 meters in under 30seconds. She started running at age 67. If that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is.

-your food and fitness friend

Taste the Rainbow

No, I’m not talking about Skittles. March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is Eat Right with Color! I love this theme because it gives us a reason to experiment and add some fun to our eating experience. Adding color can appeal to both your eyes and your taste buds!

Color is a great indication of nutrient density and we don’t get enough of it! According to a study at Johns Hopkins University, only 11% of Americans eat the minimum recommended number fruits and vegetables per day. The general recommendation is to strive for 2 servings of fruit and 3 of vegetables per day but the latest message from the USDA is eat  more! This may be a rare case of “more is better.”

Each color adds different vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds called phytochemicals to your diet, which is one of the reasons variety is key! Eating a diet rich in these nutrients has been tied to reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and macular degeneration (loss of vision). They may also slow the process of aging (or help us age more gracefully).

Fruits and vegetables are also generally low in calories and high in fiber, which can help promote weight loss.

What does each color bring to the table?

Red: rich in lycopene, flavanols, and anthocyanins. Many red foods also have high levels of vitamin C, another antioxidant.

The best ones: red berries (strawberries, raspberries, cranberries), cherries  red peppers,  tomatoes, and beets.

Purple: pack in the resveratrol, anthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins, and flavanols.

Try some: purple (red) grapes, blueberries, blackberries, plums, eggplant, purple cauliflower, and purple cabbage.

Orange/Yellow: full of alpha and beta (vit A) carotene and flavanones. They also contain vitamin C.

Try out: oranges, mangos, canteloupe, yellow/orange peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash (or any other winter squash), and carrots.

Green: filled with corotenoids  lutein and zeaxanthin as well as other nutrients like indoles, and flavones; many also contain high amounts of vitamin K, calcium, and iron. Here, the darker the fruit/vegetable better!

Eat: leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard; brussel sprouts; broccoli; and zucchini.

One of the best parts of adding color to your diet is the experimentation with new foods and new combinations. Look at your food like and art project and see how many colors you can mix together!

Looking for suggestions? Here are a few simple ways I recommend adding color to your day…


Scramble up some eggs and veggies – sauteed spinach, red onion, mixed peppers and tomato make for a delicious, beautiful omelet or egg scramble.

Add berries (or any fruit!)  to your cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal


Try a new salad: last week I had leftover roasted butternut squash so I tossed it in a salad with baby spinach, roasted red peppers, a little goat cheese, dried bing cherries and some pecans. Amazing! And it was a gorgeous mix of colors. I will certainly be making it again. Experiment with different fruits (dried & fresh) or vegetables and you might even find yourself craving salad like me!

Mix up those sandwich toppings. Try avocado, roasted peppers, baby spinach, or grilled veggies instead of your usual lettuce and tomato. It can take a sandwich from boring to gourmet in just a few minutes!


Fill half your plate with fruits/vegetables.

Roasting vegetables on 425°F with a little olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper is easy and they taste great. Try different squashes, asparagus, brussel sprouts, or broccoli.


Snack on fresh fruits throughout the day – apples, oranges, bananas, and pears are super portable. Or make up a fruit salad on Sunday night so you have it on hand for the week.

Cut up veggies with hummus or low-fat dips are also great!

Kale chips: sprinkle kale with a little olive oil and salt. bake at 350 for 10 minutes (until crispy). Great salty, crunchy snack!

Other ideas? Tell me how YOU add color to your diet!

- your food and fitness friend