5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Fruits and Vegetables Fresher Longer

Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh Longer

Disclaimer: I was provided with a Fridge Fresh Unit from Berry Breeze at no cost to try out in my own home kitchen. This product is mentioned in the following blog post. 

Most people recognize the value of fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet many Americans struggle to consistently incorporate these foods into their day at the level recommended for optimal health.

Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh Longer

One potential reason people shy away from these foods? They go bad too quickly. Or they are forgotten about until they go bad and then need to be disposed of instead of being enjoyed.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to extend the life of your fruits and vegetables so that you can actually eat them as intended. Not only will this benefit your health, but it will also benefit your wallet and the environment. Now that’s what I call a win-win situation.

Buy only what you need. Sometimes we get a little overzealous in the produce section. Our excitement over embracing more nutrient-rich foods can sometimes result in buying more than we need. If you are one of the Americans who tend to eat too little from the produce section, keep in mind that even small increases make a big difference. As you get more comfortable adding in fresh produce to your regular meal plan, you may find that you need to increase the amount of produce you buy. But it is okay to start small and work your way up. Buy one or two potatoes instead of an entire bag. Buy one stalk of broccoli instead of an entire head. Buy bulk spinach instead of a whole bag. You get the idea…

Have a (back up) plan for your produce. Eating with intention is key. Although you may have one or two recipes that you specifically bought certain produce for, odds are that you will have some fruits and vegetables left over. For these fruits and veggies, consider prepping them right along with those the recipe calls for and then storing in your fridge. This way, you can easily add them to other recipes you enjoy throughout the week.

And PS – I don’t know if I’ve met a recipe yet that isn’t made better by adding extra veggies or fruits to the mix.

Prepare as much of your fruits and vegetables as you can in advance. Whether you prep all your veggies at meal time or do so right after you get home from the grocery store, prepared fruits and vegetables are way more likely to get eaten. Prep them so that they are easy to grab and eat or can be easily incorporated into meals you enjoy throughout the week. When the week is over, you should find yourself without any produce-gone-bad left for you to clean up.

Store your fruits and vegetables correctly. Did you know that how you store fruits and vegetables also matters? I tend to store my fruits and vegetables in the way in which I found them at the grocery store, but this helpful guide from Fruits and Veggies More Matters provides more detail on how and where to store produce for long life and best flavor.

Keep the air in your fridge fresh. And if you are looking for another no-fuss way to increase the life of your fresh produce, there are actually products out there that can help you with that. The Fridge Fresh unit from Berry Breeze is one such gadget. According to the Berry Breeze website, it can keep foods fresh up to three times longer than normal, keep your fridge smelling clean, and also eliminate microbes and odor-producing bacteria.

How? Through the timed release of activated oxygen, also known as 03, which neutralizes common bacteria, mold, ethylene gas, and other microbes that can cause foods to ripen and decay quickly.

I’m still testing mine out, but I love the concept. A fresher fridge and longer-lasting produce? Yes, please.

Fruits and vegetables can benefit your health, but only if you are able to eat them. Hopefully, these tips will help you maximize the life of your produce so that you can enjoy more of them day in and day out.

31 Daily Challenges to Eat Your Best This Year

31 Daily Challenges to Eat Your Best

Did you know that “get healthy” was the most searched for new year’s resolution last year? So of course, I had to type it in.  And guess what I discovered? Over 521,000,000 clickable resources to choose from. That’s a WHOLE lot of information!! Some of it is probably great, a lot of it is probably junk, but either way, none of it will impact you either way if you don’t decide to take action.

Becoming a healthier person sounds pretty good, but it can mean so many different things. If getting healthier is truly what you want to do, then it’s incredibly important to get more specific with what you hope to do and why. You may find that it doesn’t even require an entire year of different – but instead one or two small changes you can implement each and every day. Tackling health this way will allow your goals to be more specific and give you more opportunity to see successes or make changes to your plan if needed.

31 Daily Challenges to Eat Your Best

Unlike broad, long-term goals, daily challenges are much more likely to be achieved and, BONUS, will still get you to where you want to be – overall healthier! Not sure what daily challenge you should take on? Here are 31 different ideas to actually “get healthy” this year.

Challenge #1: Make a list of your favorite nourishing foods. The foods you eat should be satisfying, but sometimes we look at a list of foods that are good for us thinking we have to select ONLY the ones that we’ve heard are “super” or we think we HAVE to eat. Wrong! Nourishing foods should be those that offer up nutrition AND enjoyment. So make a list. Once you’ve identified what nutrient-rich foods work for you, look for ways to incorporate them into your meals and snacks regularly to promote good health.

Not quite sure where to start? Check out my food list starter – it’s got some of my favorite nourishing foods on it and you may enjoy them too. PS – if you find it difficult to identify foods that offer up nutrition and enjoyment, it may be time to start experimenting with foods in the kitchen. Different prep and cooking methods may change the way you think about certain foods you’ve snubbed in the past.

Challenge #2: Keep a journal for food thoughts. Unlike other food journals, this one is less about how much you eat and more about why you eat. Write down food thoughts that occur throughout the day and see if you can learn anything about your current food habits through this practice.

Challenge #3: Stock your pantry with herbs and spices. If you want to add flavor to your dishes, herbs and spices are a must. They often have their own added health benefits too, so its a win-win in your kitchen. Consider adding just one a week and experiment with it at meals.

Challenge #4: Find a new recipe to try. To prevent your healthy eating plan from becoming stale, don’t forget to keep things interesting. Find a recipe that looks appealing and give it a whirl. Try to find a recipe with at least one ingredient you don’t use on a regular basis. I have a lot of great recipes for you to choose from if you need a little help getting started.

Challenge #5: Go grocery shopping with a list. Before you can eat well, you have to stock your pantry well. Make a list and head to the grocery store. Think through what meals you want to make and get the necessary ingredients.

Challenge #6: Swap out your large dinner plate for a smaller salad plate. No matter what you eat, portion sizes can help keep your foods in proportion. Smaller plates also allow you to check in on hunger cues sooner since most of us eat until our plate is cleared. Smaller plate, less food, earlier hunger cue check-in time.

Challenge #7: Switch out high-calorie beverages for lower-calorie ones. Soda, sweetened tea, and flavored coffee drinks are notorious for being high in non-satisfying calories. Don’t drink your daily energy needs through beverages alone. Instead, add just a splash of milk to coffee, drink your tea unsweetened, or add a little flavor to your water by adding your favorite frozen fruits or vegetables to the glass.

Challenge #8: Recreate your favorite restaurant dish at home. Instead of dining out, try to recreate your favorite restaurant meal at home. Odds are you’ll consume a more nourishing dish and you’ll have another opportunity to get more comfortable combining different foods and ingredients in your kitchen.

Challenge #9. Try to get 3-4 food groups in at each meal. Once of the best ways to make a meal more flavorful, interesting, and exciting is to use a variety of ingredients. To make sure your meal is nutritionally adequate, focusing on inclusion of 3-4 food groups can be a great way to diversify your meal and feel more satisfaction from it afterwards.

Challenge #10. Create an emergency snack pack. Hunger can strike anytime and often it’s when we are least prepared. To ensure better eating throughout the day, create an emergency snack pack and store it at work, in your car, in your bag, or in your purse. Fill it with foods that will provide you with fiber, protein, and fat.

Challenge #11. Make a meal plan. If you’ve never made a meal plan before, you may find it to be a helpful tool in ensuring you always have the right ingredients on hand. Plan for a day, a week, or a month – whichever works best for you and your schedule.

Curious what my meal plan routine looks like? I share it with you here.

Challenge #12. Eat breakfast daily. If you aren’t a breakfast eater already, make an attempt to incorporate this meal into your day. It’s super important and can be a great way to jump start your morning.  Worried because you don’t like the taste of breakfast food? Think beyond eggs and cereal – rice, beans, and even pizza can all be deliciously nutritious breakfast options.

Challenge #13. Try to honor your hunger. Can you tell when your body is hungry? Those internal signals can be hard to hear, so with this challenge, try to pay special attention. The key to managing weight is identifying hunger as soon as it strikes so you can fuel your body appropriately. Waiting too long can often result in overeating.

Challenge #14. Try to honor your fullness. Eat slowly at meals and try to identify when you are comfortably satisfied, not overly full. When you feel satisfied, stop eating. Remember, you can always have a snack later on if hunger strikes again.

Challenge #15. Try a new food. Go to the grocery store and choose one new-to-you food to try. Figure out how to incorporate it into a recipe and see if you can discover what sort of benefits it offers your meal plan.

Challenge #16. Plan a meat-free meal. Lean meats offer a lot nutritionally, but often we forget about many of the plant-based sources of protein and miss out on the benefits they too provide. By planning a meat-free meal, you’ll have to get a little creative and incorporate ingredients that may often get left out.

Challenge #17. Visit a local establishment that’s doing interesting things with nutrient-rich foods. Whether its a co-op or a restaurant featuring farm to table cuisine, see what your community has to offer in the world of food. Often these places offer a unique experience that can make eating well feel special, not like a punishment.

Challenge #18. Invite friends over for a meal. If you want your eating habits to stick, you have to make them the new normal. Consider hosting dinner at your house and make something nutritious and delicious. Your friends will probably love the opportunity to try something new.

Challenge #19. Create a more nutrient-rich dessert and share it with your neighbors. Baking cookies can be a lot of fun and is a tradition for many, but who says you can’t improve upon an old recipe? Make cookies with better-for-you ingredients and then share them with a neighbor. You’ll have fun baking and make someone’s day by bringing them delicious treats.

Challenge #20. Set and Share Your Goals. If you want change to occur, you have to know why you want change to begin with. Set realistic and specific goals for yourself and share them with others. I always enjoy hearing about the successes my readers have, so feel free to share your story with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Challenge #21. Let go of certain foods. If you are sick and tired of bananas, stop eating bananas. Yes, they do offer you quality nutrition, BUT why not give them up to make room for other fruits to try during this season? Make a list of foods you are tired off and take a break from them. Make room for more new-to-you foods.

Challenge #22. Create an “eating-only” zone. It’s hard to focus on things like hunger and fullness cues if you have multiple distractions pulling you in all different directions. Eat intentionally by creating zones where you can focus on the process of eating. The dining room table is a common zone, but at work it could be a table in your break-room, a seat by a window, or a bench in the hallway. Anywhere that you won’t be distracted by work, television, computers, or your cell phone.

Challenge #23. Rethink a favorite meal. You don’t have to start from scratch when it comes to eating more nutritiously. Many of your favorite meals may already offer a lot from a nutritional perspective and you already know that you enjoy them. Write down ways that you could make your favorite meal even better for you. Maybe its revamping the ingredient list or adding a vegetable or fruit based side.

Challenge #24. Make family time, cooking time. Just like having a family game night, an evening in the kitchen is a great way to spend time together. Choose a recipe or host your own family version of Chopped with whatever ingredients you have on hand. See who can come up with the most creative dish using the most nutrient-rich ingredients. Who knows? You may even develop a new family favorite.

Challenge #25. Try a new grain. Wheat isn’t the only nutrient-rich grain on the block anymore. Quinoa, oats, bulgur, brown rice, barley, rye, and buckwheat are just a few more unique grain varieties. They all offer a lot nutritionally and can add a little depth and creativity to your current meal plan.

Challenge #26. Take the fiber challenge. Only 1 out of 10 Americans get enough fiber on a daily basis, which is unfortunate because many fiber-rich foods offer a variety of other important nutrients. too. If you are a woman, try to get 25 grams of fiber daily. For men, aim for 38 grams. Incorporating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes can all help you achieve that goal.

Challenge #27. Pack a lunch. If you want to eat well and keep your portions in check, you may find packing lunch to be extremely helpful. Take the opportunity to pack a well-balance meal (3-4 food groups) and foods you love.

Challenge #28. Attend a cooking class or follow one online. If you aren’t sure how to get started in the kitchen, consider taking a class or two. Find one locally or search for one online that you can do in your own kitchen. Again, the more comfortable you get with the process and various ingredients, the easier it will be to whip up a variety of tasty options.

Challenge #29. Prep meals in advance. If you want to eat more nourishing meals, but don’t feel like you have the time to create something at home each night, consider prepping some of your meals or at least some of the ingredients in advance. Set a date and time and stick to it.

Challenge #30. Buy a new cookbook. Exploring new cuisines can be as easy as picking up a new cookbook from a local bookstore or off of Amazon. Make a plan to try the recipes throughout the book on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule.

Challenge #31. Get creative with juice. For an extra kick of flavor, consider adding your favorite 100% juice to your foods. Grape juice with red meat or orange juice with chicken. Citrus juice can also add a lot of flavor to your favorite veggies or salad.

5 Ways to Tackle Stress in the New Year

tackle stress in the new year

Let’s face it. The new year ahead can be intimidating… especially if the year before it was down right lousy. But the unknown doesn’t have to stress you out. And less stress means you can approach life and food with a little more confidence and a lot less fear.

tackle stress in the new year

I want 2017 to be your best year yet, so I asked my friend and colleague Lisa Carpenter, M.A., L.P.C., founder of Center of Hope Counseling, to share her top tips for reducing stress. Here’s her go-to’s for stress relief:

Yoga. Psychology Today suggests that, “yoga, meditation, and other mind-body practices train your body and mind to be able to cope with stress better and improve overall health and well-being.”

Laugh it off. Laughter releases endorphins which make your body go into “happy” mode, it also decreases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Listen to music. Listening to calm or upbeat music can quickly change your mood. Calm music can reduce cortisol and upbeat music will tempt you to dance, also a way to reduce stress.

Go outside. The University of Minnesota suggests that being in nature or even viewing scenes of nature can help reduce stress and contribute to overall health and well-being. It also claims that, “Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.”

Connect with a friend. Going out for a quick coffee or tea or even just having a conversation on the phone with a friend can help reduce stress and distract you from the triggering stressful event.

If you are feeling stressed out now or at any point in the future, consider giving one of these stress reducing techniques a try.

I work with Lisa out of her office space in downtown Mt. Pleasant and I would love it if you visited her Facebook page and gave it a like. Thanks guys – you’re the best! 


What Does Eating in Moderation Mean Anyway?


Moderation is an important concept to grasp when it comes to eating well, but understanding what it means can prove to be a challenge. It’s one of those words, one of those concepts, that just doesn’t have a clear definition making it easy for us as individuals to fill in the blanks as we see fit.


Since this is a word I use frequently in conversation and part of that whole “all foods can fit” mentality that I enjoy, it’s important we are all on the same page and you understand what I mean. Since definitions can vary widely, it is possible that certain interpretations of “eating in moderation” could make it more difficult to eat well or to achieve and maintain an appropriate weight.

So before we start identifying what moderate eating looks like in everyday life, let’s define it. According to most nutrition textbooks and as highlighted by fellow registered dietitian Toby Amidor, RDN, in a US News and World Report post,  a moderate meal plan is typically one that “avoids excessive amounts of calories or any particular food or nutrient.”  In other words, moderate eating is about avoiding the extremes.

Let’s take our definition one step further. Green Mountain at Fox Run, a weight loss retreat center for women, defines moderate eating as “embracing an all-foods-fit mindset and not depriving yourself of any food that provides you true pleasure.”  By the way, I LOVE that definition. It still takes into account the balance moderate eating should provide while also strongly emphasizing the importance of food enjoyment.

So how do you determine how foods fit into you meal plan in a way that will promote wellness?

Were you asking this question after reading through the definitions? It’s a good question to ask because on their own, these definitions are still pretty subjective. Even though I really like Green Mountain at Fox Run’s take on this term, it may not seem easily applicable or like it will move your eating habits in the right direction.

For me, the all-foods-fit mindset only works when you keep the following factors in mind:

Recognize that you do need a certain amount of energy and nutrients to function each day. Take a look at those definitions again – both only work if you have something to measure your extremes against. For each of us, that may differ because we all have unique requirements we need to meet each day for our body to work as it should. If you don’t know what that amount is, it is impossible to know whether you are eating too little or too much of something. The USDA has a great calculator to help you determine daily needs. This is a great benchmark to build your meals and snacks around.

Make sure your basic food groups are the base of each meal and snack. Moderation isn’t about incorporating all foods evenly. Foods rich in nutrients should always be front and center of your meal plan, getting more face time with you then other foods might. An easy way to keep these foods in focus is to plan out meals with basic food groups in mind.

Determine what each food you want eat will add to your overall wellness plan AND how much of each food you need to actually feel satisfied. Enjoying your food is important – especially when it comes to eating in a way that nourishes you for a lifetime. If you don’t like what you eat, chances are high that you won’t eat it for very long. Instead, think about the foods you want to eat and consider what value they add to your plan. You may want to think about short term benefits, like feeling full or satisfied after eating and how the food tastes, but don’t forget about the long-term benefits too. Food enjoyment isn’t just about how you feel now, but also how you will feel in the future.

Many nutrient-rich foods may not necessarily provide the same immediate pleasure as sweets or salty snacks do, BUT they can support a more enjoyed life. By eating well, you can feel your best each and every day.

And for those foods that do provide more immediate pleasure – take time to think about how much of these foods you actually need to fully enjoy them. In most instances, you may find that you don’t need to eat as much as you think you do – especially if you are eating well throughout the day consistently.

Become more aware of what your body is trying to tell you. We often fail to listen to what our body is telling us, but becoming mindful of what our body is communicating can help us naturally eat in more moderate ways. The more in tune we become, the more likely we are to naturally eat in proper proportions and amounts that work for us. To put this into practice, consider using this awareness checklist from Dr. Susan Albers, founder of EatMindfully.com, at meal times.

Remember, “eating in moderation” isn’t the same as “eating everything in equal proportions.” This is worth repeating because I think this is where the confusion often lies. Eating in moderation doesn’t mean all foods have equal value. They just don’t. All foods can fit and no food is bad, BUT foods are not all the same. Choose foods that are worthy of you and enjoy them. That’s the type of moderate eating I’m equipping people for.


5 Easy Ways to Spot a Useful Cookbook

5 ways to spot a useful cookbook

Call me old-fashioned, but I love to hold a good cookbook in my hands. A collection of an authors best efforts in the kitchen all in one place, bound together by pages full of story, direction, and beautiful images that inspire and spark courage in the reader to join the author in the kitchen.

5 ways to spot a useful cookbook


Recipes found in cookbooks often tell a collaborative story, strung together by the creative wisdom of the author. With each cookbook comes passion, pride, and vulnerability as the cook pulls back the curtain on their own habits, techniques, and style in order to equip you to try something new.

Enter to Win a Copy of the Nourish: Whole Food Recipes Featuring Seeds, Nuts & Beans Cookbook!

Cookbooks can be a great asset to you as a home cook. Not only do they highlight recipes that will hopefully give you more at-home meals to try, but they can shed light on technique and empower you with a little nutrition knowledge to ensure you make the most out of each meal you make.

But not all cookbooks are going to be in your best interest though. To help you quickly identify which cookbooks you should buy, here’s a quick 5 point checklist to keep in mind:

The majority of ingredients are somewhat familiar. Although cookbooks can serve as great inspiration for out-of-the-norm meals, if the cookbook only contains foods you don’t use on a regular basis, they probably won’t make it into your regular rotation. Hopefully, when you crack open your cookbook, you’ll see plenty of ingredients already on your basic food list. Or, if you are just beginning to eat healthier, look for foods that are simple and easy to find in your grocery store.

Most of the recipes match your skill-level. Recipes can range from the ridiculously simple to extremely difficult depending on the cook behind them and the audience they are aiming to reach. Before you purchase a cookbook, take a quick look at a few of the recipes. How many ingredients are listed and how many steps each recipe takes to create are good indicators of complexity. I find that for real-life cooking, the simpler the better. That means short ingredient lists and relatively short directions. Also look to see if techniques are explained throughout the book – this can also be a good indicator as to which skill level the book is geared towards.

Nutritious ingredients are often incorporated. You know when it comes to making meals at home, I’m going to want you to incorporate as many nutritious ingredients as possible! This means fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy. Yep, those pesky basics. Nutrition information may also be listed in the cookbook and that is another great way to see what sort of added value the meals are providing when you add them to your day.

There are lots of “extras” included. Take a look to see what additional tips, resources, or advice are given in the book. To me, this is really where the true benefit of purchasing a cookbook lies. Are there shopping lists? Tips about eating right? Recipe notes that help you make the most of each meal or explanations of the unique techniques used? These are great ways to maximize your cookbook and take full advantage of the cook who put those recipes together for you.

A registered dietitian was involved. If a registered dietitian helped create the cookbook in your hand or contributed to it in some way, you know that it was created with nutrition in mind. This means the meals you create aren’t just delicious, but designed to positively impact your health and well-being. Keep an eye out for those credentials because its an easy way to know nutrition is an essential factor.

My colleague Cara Rosenbloom, RD just teamed up with Nettie Cronish to develop a cookbook that meets all these criteria. It’s called Nourish: Whole Food Recipes Featuring Seeds, Nuts & Beans and it’s an excellent resource for your home kitchen. And guess what!?!

You can even win a copy of your very own!

I love that the Nourish: Whole Food Recipes Featuring Seeds, Nuts & Beans cookbook features its own basic food list and provides great insight into how to build meals that make a lasting, positive impact. The recipes are creative yet simple, varied enough to help you incorporate new meals and snacks into various parts of your day, and provide a good mix of familiar ingredients with a few lesser utilized ones. The entire book is dedicated to seeds, nuts and beans – foods that offer major nutritional value but are often under-utilized in American kitchens.

I gave the Butternut Squash with Dried Cherry and Mint a try and it was a wonderful twist on a roasted veggie favorite of mine. The other recipes are similar, all featuring creative flavorful blends and deliciously simple foods.

Butternut squash with dried cherries and mint

Want to see what other people think of this cookbook? Check out the reviews on Amazon.

Disclaimer/disclosure: I was sent a free copy of the Nourish cookbook to review. The thoughts and views expressed here are mine alone. I was not compensated for my time or for writing this post.