Thanksgiving Y’all!

Friends and Family,
 I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday! I felt so blessed to share it with some great people yesterday! Seriously, I haven’t eaten that much in one sitting in years. Thanksgiving is the one day a year where I don’t necessarily “practice what I preach” as a dietitian! Ha. Since we were all Memphis transplants from across the US and abroad, the table conversation was so entertaining! There was definitely some time spent defining the terms “hot mess”, “djeetyet” (did you eat yet?),  “bless her heart”, and the many meanings behind “mmhmm” (it’s all about inflection!). Geneveive and Stanton were such gracious hosts. I had a wonderful time!

The Menu…
The table is set!
My favorite part of any meal… dessert!

I do need to brag on Will. He made traditional roasted red pepper chile sauce for the turkey which everyone just raved about! It complemented the smoked turkey perfectly. (That’s right, I ate a little turkey this year – I can have one cheat day. Plus I had never had smoked turkey before… it was delicious!) Hope you all had a tasty Thanksgiving!

Current Obsession: Winter Squash and Kale

Have you all been enjoying this glorious Fall weather as much as I have? I hope so! Do you know what else is glorious? Farmers market fresh kale and winter squash of course! I can’t even recall how many people I have seen blog about the versatility and wholesomeness of kale. No wonder, it is quite a nutrition powerhouse packed full of fiber and vitamins A, C, and K! I picked up a huge bunch of it at the market this past weekend and immediately made a “massaged kale salad” inspired by this “Go-To Kale Salad” by Oh She Glows. It turned out really well! I “massaged” about half of the bunch of kale I bought and kept it in the fridge in my salad spinner. Whenever I wanted another salad, I just added toppings to that kale base. Yum!

Massaged Kale Salad
– 1 Large bunch kale, rinsed and patted dry
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 1 apple, chopped
– 5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1/4 cucumber, chopped
– 1 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed
– 1/4 cup chopped pecans
– Pepper to taste
1. Chop the kale and toss with olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Rub the oil into the leaves a bit with your hands.
2. Take out a handful of the kale and toss with the other ingredients. Serve!
3. Store the rest of the massaged kale in the fridge; lasts about 2-3 days.

Sunday, I was in the mood to finally tackle the chopping and roasting of all of the winter squash I had. Again, I was inspired by the Oh She Glows blog to try out this squash called, delicata. Apparently you can eat the skin on these ones because it softens so much when you cook them. What?! I had to try them, so I was excited to see that they had them at the farmers market on Saturday. Yipee! I’m totally going back this week to buy at least 5 more. Haha.

From front to back: Delicata squash, acorn squash, and butternut squash!
Roasted and ready to eat!!!

These roasted squash were so simple and delicious! My will-power was sure tested as I tried not to eat the entire plate at one sitting! The butternut squash isn’t in this pile because I cubed it and roasted it separately to add to some lentils I made later. However, you could have used the same method to prep it as the others.

Roasted Winter Squash
-1 Delicata squash, seeds removed and sliced
-1 Acorn squash, seeds removed and sliced
-1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
-Salt to season
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Toss squash, oil and syrup in large bowl. Once sqaush covered well in olive oil, spread in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until squash is soft and starting to brown around the edges. Serve warm as is or chilled and tossed onto a salad.

I’ve begun to really enjoy baking and prepping lots of big dishes on Sunday afternoon so I have food to easily just heat and eat or pack in my lunch the rest of the week. Now, go out and get yourself some kale and winter squash!

Healthy Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! I know I’m looking forward to it. ๐Ÿ™‚ In order to get yourself ready for the holiday eating frenzy, I thought I would share this helpful little article I wrote up for a work newsletter!

Photo courtesy of

“Just imagine, the dining table is set with the best china and the tastiest dishes of the season.  The turkey is roasted to perfection and flanked by creamy mashed potatoes and green bean casserole;  crunchy, sweet potato casserole sits beside the cranberry sauce; homemade pies like pumpkin, apple, and decadent pecan are all piled high with clouds of creamy whipped topping. Are you drooling yet? The holidays are such a wonderful time of the year! With so much delicious food around, it is no wonder weight loss is at the top of everyone’s New Year’s resolutions. Is it possible to enjoy all of our favorite, festive holiday foods without adding inches to our waists? YES! Here is a guide on how to savor the flavors of the season without falling off the diet band hay wagon.

  • Before heading to the table to “dig in”, drink a glass of water. Drinking a full glass of water can make you feel less hungry at the start, so you keep your portions in control.
  • Try starting your meal with a large salad. Filling up on low calorie vegetables means you are less likely to overeat the rich foods at the rest of the meal.
  • Control your portions! By serving yourself appropriate portions of your favorite dinner dishes, you can save yourself a lot of calories. Try using a smaller plate so it looks full without distorting portion sizes.
  • Make only one trip to the dinner table. Fill your plate with all of your holiday favorites. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite.
  • Skip the dinner roll! You will save yourself up to 150 Calories (roll + butter) by doing just that. Just think, to burn that extra 150 Calories youโ€™d have to walk at a brisk pace for at least 35 minutes!
  • Bring your own healthier versions of side dishes to share. For example, a cup of steamed green beans seasoned with garlic and pepper have only 44 Calories and no fat. Compared that to the 110 Calories and 8 grams of fat in only 2/3 cup of green bean casserole.
  • For dessert, go ahead and enjoy a slice your most favorite homemade pie. However, just limit yourself to one slice. The one pie to watch out for? Pecan! One slice (1/8 of a 9″ pie) contains 503 Calories and 27 grams of fat compared to the 316 Calories and 14 grams of fat in a piece of pumpkin. You can save almost 200 calories by choosing the pumpkin!
Now, here’s an example of how to implement these tips for the actual Thanksgiving day meal.

The Usual
The Improved Healthy Twist
6 oz. Roasted Turkey = 230 kcals, 1.2 g fat
1 cup Mashed Potatoes = 237 kcals, 8.8 g fat
2/3 cup Green Bean Casserole = 110 kcals, 8 g fat
ยผ cup Cranberry Sauce = 110 kcals, 0 g fat
ยฝ cup Turkey Gravy = 125 kcals, 5.7 g fat
2 oz. Stuffing = 320 kcals, 2 g fat
1 cup Sweet Potato Casserole = 235 kcals, 11 g fat
1 Dinner roll = 84 kcals, 2 g fat
2 pats butter = 72 kcals, 8.1 g fat
1 ยฝ cup tossed salad = 33 kcals, 0 g fat
2 tbsp Italian dressing = 86 kcals, 8.3 g fat
3 oz. Roasted Turkey = 115 kcals, 0.6 g fat
ยผ cup Cranberry Sauce = 110 kcals, 0 g fat
ยฝ cup Green Bean Casserole = 57 kcals, 4.2 g fat
ยฝ cup Sweet Potato Casserole = 117 kcals, 5.5 g fat
ยฝ cup mashed potatoes = 119 kcals, 4.4 g fat
1 oz. Stuffing = 160 kcals, 2.9 g fat
ยฝ cup Turkey Gravy = 125 kcals, 5.7 g fat
Grand total for meal = 1523 kcals, 46.8 g fat
Grand total for meal = 922 kcals, 31.6 g fat

 As you can see, starting your meal with a large salad  will help you eat less of the more rich dishes in the meal without feeling deprived. In the end, you can eat up to 600 calories less at the meal; that’s equal to a double bacon cheeseburger!
One more thing to keep in mind? Donโ€™t let all this calorie counting get you down. Remember, the real reason for the season is to enjoy quality time with family and friends and reflect on the things in your life that you are truly thankful for; not worrying about every calorie that you eat. :-)”

Views from the Weekend

I was happy to have a long weekend – many, many thanks to my friends, family, coworkers, and patients who are Veterans! The weather was just gorgeous this weekend here in Memphis so, I made sure to enjoy it as much as possible! Lots of running and bike riding for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ Our bike ride on Sunday with our friend, Geneveive, turned into quite an adventure when a rain storm popped up! I was happy to be home again in warm clothes for my introduction to Battlestar Galactica. I can’t say that I’m hooked yet… but maybe in a few more episodes I will be!

Downtown Dining Week at South of Beale – Apple Cobbler with
Jack Daniels sauce. Yum!
Biking through Overton Park to the Victorian Village event!

Classic Souther Picnic Foods at the Victorian Village!
Catfish, hush puppies, coleslaw, potato salad and
The Main Event – Newly Remodeled!
It’s gorgeous!

Fall truly is my favorite time of year! I’ve been so happy to finally welcome skinny jeans, hot oatmeal, chai tea, and scarves back in to my life. That’s not to say I haven’t learned to love summery dresses since I’ve moved down South! (Which I seem to have started to accumulate more of than anything else in my wardrobe – haha!)
The work week has started off well so far with a fun Memphis Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics meeting on Social Media this morning and a baby shower for my coworker Jackie this afternoon. I tried my hand at making buckeyes for the first time for the shower. Gosh, I had forgetten that they are so delicious!!

Photo compliments of:

Marathon Time: 19 Days and Counting

The great thing about long races? Even if you’re not a winner, you still get a

Last year at this time, I was so impressed with the Star Runners marathon group. I kept saying that I don’t think I could ever run a marathon. Winter and Spring passed and then… I had a change of heart. With some encouragement from friends, I decided to sign up for the full St. Jude training this year! There have been so many runs during this training that I would never have imagined I could ever accomplish. 15 miles? 17 miles? 22 miles?! What?! But I did it. ๐Ÿ™‚ The fun part was that almost every weekend I would break my last “longest run ever” goal as I worked up to our longest run – 22 miles! Pretty much every Saturday I had a reason to celebrate. Hehe. This weekend marks the end of our hard-core training and the beginning of our taper season. (Ie. time to take it easy until race day!) I seriously thought this day would never come! Now, I am totally starting to freak out about race day. What if after all this training I don’t make it to the finish line? I pray that no injuries come my way in the next few weeks! I haven’t really talked a whole lot about the whole experience on here, so today I thought I would share a few things I have learned along the way…
1. Good-fitting shoes/proper inserts are super, super important!! I think part of the reason I struggled with runner’s knee right before the St. Jude half last year was that I hadn’t been fitted for a good pair of shoes or invested inserts for my high arches.
2. Find a routine that works well for you. Do some experimenting to figure out what breakfast sits best with your stomach, what food to eat the night before to give you energy the next morning, and how to fuel during the run. There was quite a bit of trial and error along the way for me!
3. Try lots of different mid-run fueling options (and don’t invest in a whole box unless you’ve tried it first!). I got tired of going to Outdoors Inc every week just to pick up a few packets of Gu. So, I tried to buy the strawberry flavored Honey-Stinger brand gels in a box. Unfortunately, I got honey! Ew. I did my best to get through the majority of the box, but it was no fun cringing every time I had to refuel. Moral of the story? Double check what flavor you are really buying when shopping on Amazon. Haha.
4. You will likely have to stop to use the restroom. The first time I had to do this on one of the longer Saturday runs it seemed so strange! Never had I not been able to wait until I was done running. But, when your run will take you 3+ hours, it’s almost unavoidable. It’s funny how quickly you learn where you can stop around the city!
5. Post-run chocolate milk is the best!
6. Invest in a Garmin. Will gave me a Garmin for my birthday this past year and I was so happy he did! It has been so useful on runs to make sure we are hitting our goal pace or distance if I was running on my own. I’d be so lost without it.
7. Don’t underestimate the power of cross-training. I learned this the hard way when training for the St. Jude Half Marathon last year. So, this time, I made sure to cross train a lot more! Most of the time it involved biking or a yoga video at home.
8. Eat well… all the time, not just the night before long runs! Of course I’d say this… I’m a dietitian! It’s true though. If you want to perform well, you really do need to eat right.
9. Find friends to run with you. I would not be running a marathon in less than a month if it were not for my running friends! They made the miles go by fast as we shared stories along the way.
10. Invest in a coach to train you for your first marathon. I am so thankful I decided to invest in Star as a coach! I’d have no idea what I was doing if I tried to train for a marathon on my own. Plus, I met so many great people by joining a group! Worth every penny!
11. You will be hungry all the time. No joke. I have to pack snacks for work because I feel I am going to die of starvation if I don’t eat every few hours. You burn a lot of calories running that many miles!
12. Coffee will become one of your best friends. It’s true.
13. Don’t resist the Saturday nap. ๐Ÿ™‚ I never used to nap much, but every Saturday afternoon after a long run, I begin to feel super drowsy. I feel so much better the rest of the day if I get one in! Even though it does makes me feel a little bit like a toddler… Haha.

Here’s to the beginning of taper season! Only 19 days till race time!

On Being Productive

     April showers may bring in May flowers, but Fall’s chill brings in warm casseroles! At least, that is certainly what I have been craving… I was happy to have the day off yesterday since I worked last weekend. Originally, I had planned to take Friday off but had to switch. It was actually kind of fun to randomly take a day off mid-week! Instead of just lounging around like I do most weekends, I decided to try to make the most of my day and be productive. So, I did a bunch of cleaning, cooking and yoga!

    First off, can I just say, I’ll never be that flexible! I went to the noon Vinyasa class at Midtown Yoga since it was a cross-training day on my marathon training plan and I never get to go to mid-day classes on a normal basis! All this marathon training has really given me some tight leg muscles. (Surprise, surprise. Ha.) This class was just what I needed to get a good stretch! There were many poses where I think the instructor could have just said, “Fold your limbs up until you resemble a pretzel and breathe”. Yeah, no problem. Lol. Despite leaving the class feeling like I just had a good stretch, I am very sore today! Guess I must have worked more muscles than I realized. ๐Ÿ™‚
     That afternoon I was really craving this roasted root vegetable casserole that Charis and I used to make all the time in Cleveland. Before we experimented with that dish, I don’t think I had ever cooked or eaten parsnips or rutabaga! I didn’t realize how badly I was missing out. They are delish! I found a recipe similar to the one we had been using (which was on a WIC calendar – haha!). I must say, this Harvest Vegetable Bake recipe from turned out just as well! I followed the original recipe pretty closely, except that I omitted the nutmeg and breadcrumbs and added some poblano pepper and sage to the cheese sauce. Yum!
Just as tasty as I remembered!
I also baked these Trail Mix Cookies! I realized I had all these bags and containers of about 1/2 cup of random nuts and dried fruits hiding out in my cabinets. So, I combined them all into a cookie! I feel like these will be a handy little snack. They are chock full of oats, craisins, currants, sesame seeds and finely shredded coconut. Pairs well with coffee or tea!
Hope you are all having a fabulous week! The weekend is almost here!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Vegan Week: Wrap-Up

As my vegan week progressed, it seemed to get a little easier and easier – a good thing! However, I know now that it is definitely not a sustainable diet for me. I missed cheese, yogurt, milk, and ice cream too much! This challenge gave me an excuse to finally go to Imagine Vegan Cafe. I was seriously surprised that the turkey cutlets we ordered were actually pretty tasty! We also ordered a sampler platter with buffalo chicken strips, pigs in a blanket, chicken nuggets and cheese sticks all totally vegan. The pigs in a blanket were a little weird… but when you take a gross hot dog and make it vegan, it can only get worse! Haha.

Sampler Platter Munchies
Fake-turkey cutlets!
After dinner we headed to our first flick at the Indie Memphis Film Fest, The Comedy which was nothing like what I was expecting! It starred Tim Heideker, one of the funny guys from the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job but apparently the title was ironic because this one was not really a comedy. Ha. Regardless, it was fun to see something unexpected! 
Saturday, I was really missing my chocolate milk fix after the 16-miler with my fellow Star Runners! Instead, I picked up a cinnamon dolce soy latte from Starbucks (once I learned that the majority of their latte syrups are vegan!). It hit the spot. I think I might actually prefer the soy milk. ๐Ÿ™‚
That evening, we went to Fuel for dinner. The vegan-friendly dishes were more limited than I had thought. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ In the end, I got a salad and bowl of their vegan chili. I shared this with Will and he split his veggie burger with me. That veggie burger was actually one of the best I have ever had! BTW – the sour cream and cheese on the chili are both vegan – not sure what they are made of but they weren’t bad!
After dinner, we headed back to the film fest, this time for Richard’s Wedding. This was such a delightfully different rom-com. ๐Ÿ™‚
Sunday I had to work. :-/ Luckily, I had the Memphis Farmers Market’s Harvest Celebration to look forward to all day long! So much fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ This year we just went for the food and the company, since we were too late for the silent auction. (We had picked up some fun things last year!) I decided to break my vegan diet for the celebration – there was no way I could turn down those delicious dishes! I figured I’d made it – I was only one meal away from an entire week.
Chillin’ at the Harvest Celebration! (Should have
turned the flash on. Grr.)
I’m loving this new dress and boots – compliments
of Will! ๐Ÿ™‚