virtual nutritionist

September Monthly Faves - 5 Things I'm Really Into Right Now...

As we wrap up September, I thought I'd share a few things I'm really into right now.

Some links happen to be Amazon affiliate links, so if you choose to purchase something, I receive a minimal kickback.

Some links happen to be Amazon affiliate links, so if you choose to purchase something, I receive a minimal kickback.

What are you loving right now?


1. 1915 Juice

I'm usually not a big juice drinker. I find that drinking doesn't have the same satisfying and satiating effect that eating does. I much prefer smoothies, because I can eat them as a meal or snack and they retain the fiber from the fruits and vegetables. But, like all foods, juice can have a place in a healthy diet.

Last week I over did it. I was busy, I was stressed, I was working late every night. I didn't take time for me or to take care of my body. Sure enough, I woke up with a cold Saturday morning and was exhausted and congested for the next few days. For the first day or two I couldn't breathe through my nose and all I wanted was juice. I thought I'd load up on Vitamin C and Zinc to help kick the cold. (While Vitamin C may not prevent the onset of a cold, it has been shown to shorten the duration of a cold).

I found this 1915 juice (made by Bolthouse farms) at the store and have loved every flavor I've tried (I went for the ones higher in Vitamin C). If you too are coming down with your change of seasons cold, I'd recommend giving it a try. When choosing juice, read the label to make sure it is 100% juice.

(If you'd rather pop pills this cold season, use my discount here :)- for this link I do get a small kickback as a thank you, but really you're the one that reaps the benefits).


2. Artisana Organics Nut Butter Packets

I'm the kind of person who always needs snacks on hand. I'm also the kind of person who goes through a jar of peanut butter every other week. These packs really are the perfect way to support my habits.

I've been loving these to-go packets to bring with me to work, on hikes, bike rides, or driving around town. I've tried the walnut butter, pecan butter, and almond butter and love them all. They have a nuttier, more earthy taste than my peanut butter go-to, but they taste just as good on apples, nectarines, strawberries, toast, or on their own.


3. 7 Sundays Muesli

I highly recommend this one!  Their blueberry chia muesli has been my go-to breakfast for the past few weeks. Lately I've been loving it cold with siggi's dairy plain drinkable yogurt, but I love it warm like oatmeal too. With fiber from the whole grain oats and protein from the chia seeds, it's totally satisfying and keeps me full till lunch. Plus it's lightly sweetened with honey and lower in sugar than most other brands.


4. Peanut Stir Fry Sauce

Last weekend I taught a meal prep workshop. It was a ton of fun. We learned how to make overnight oats, chia seed pudding, we made meal plans for the week, and made our own power bowls. I made this sauce and have been putting the leftovers on everything this week.
Here's how I made it:

1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp pure maple syrup
sriracha to taste


5. #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso

Not food related, but a good read nonetheless. I've been trying to read more, but for me, it has to be an easy read or a really good book to get me through it. This is both. I'd recommend it to any recent grad, 20-something, or driven young woman. Sophia Amoruso was a broke 21 year old, dumpster diving through San Francisco. She decided to start an ebay store to sell her thrift store finds. 7 years later that ebay store is now a multi billion dollar company. Her book is both funny and serious and is a reminder for young women to show up and give their best. She reminds me to slow down in business and that success doesn't happen overnight. What are you reading right now?

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My Pantry Essentials Checklist- check it out here.

21 Ways to Get in More Protein with Breakfast

21 Ways to Get in More Protein at Breakfast.png

Personally, I always try to include a source of protein at breakfast. I know when I start my day with cereal or zucchini bread I'm usually hungry pretty soon after or find myself snacking throughout the day. Besides building muscle, our bodies need protein for about a trillion other daily functions and processes. But did you know that starting your day with a good source of protein may even help you reach your weight loss goals?

More are more studies are coming out showing the benefits of starting your day with some protein. Having a protein rich meal for breakfast can help to keep you full longer, prevent snacking later in the day, and may even aid in weight loss and help to decrease fat mass. Protein is more satisfying and filling than a meal that is heavy in refined carbs because it takes longer to digest and helps control our blood sugars. Studies have shown, that those who start with protein at breakfast are less hungry and snack less throughout the day.

Our bodies can only digest up to about 30 grams of protein at a time, so anything over that is not necessary (check your protein shakes). To find out your daily protein needs you can use the following equation:

(weight in lbs / 2.2 = weight in kg)

weight in kg x 0.8

This equation gives you your minimum daily protein requirements. For those who are more active, are over 65, or are sick or injured I would multiply by 1.0 to 1.2.

One of the best things about being a dietitian is the dietitian community. It's seriously the best. Everyone is so supportive and wants to see each other succeed. I reached out to our wonderful community to compile the following list of healthy, higher in protein, breakfast recipes. Below are 21 healthy recipes to bulk up the protein in your morning meals to help you stay full longer, feel more satisfied, prevent snacking later in the day, and possibly help shed a few pounds. Let me know which ones you try!


Banana Dates & Tahini Smoothie

Dixya Bhattarai, RD

Banana Pear Shamrock Smoothie

Samara Abbott, RD

Shamrock Smoothie: 18 grams of protein

Kid-Approved Tropical Green Smoothie

Sarah Remmer, RD

Cherry Amaranth Almond Smoothie

Judy Barbe, RD


Power Pancakes

Ingrid Anderson, RD

Power Pancakes: 18 grams of protein (15-20 with Greek yogurt)

Flourless Chocolate Lentil Protein Muffins

Sarah Renner, RD

Banana Nut Eggy Oats

Kelsey Lorencz, RD

Sorghum Berry Breakfast Bowl

Sharon Palmer, RD

Breakfast Bowl: 11 grams of protein

Berry Cardamom Baked Oatmeal

Judy Barbe, RD

Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes

Brittany Poulson, RD

PB Pancakes: 13 grams of protein


5 Minute Egg Bake

Josten Fish, RD

Healthy Egg Muffins

Jenna Gorham, RD

Veggie Quiche Patties

Liz Weiss, RD

Veggie Quiche: 16 grams of protein (in 3 patties)

Mini Spinach & Sweet Potato Frittata

Jodi Danen, RD

Basic Vegetable Frittata Muffins

Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan

Frittata Muffins: 11 grams of protein (in 2 muffins)

Low Carb Egg Cups

Lara Clevenger, RD


Chocolate Peanut Butter High Protein Breakfast Sundae

E.a. Stewart, RD

2 Ingredient Egg White Pancake

Kelli Shallal, RD

2 Ingredient Pancakes: 21 grams of protein

8 High Protein Breakfasts

Jill Castle, RD

Black Forest Chia Pudding

Julie Harrington, RD

Greek Yogurt Parfait with Cereal and Pan-Roasted Grapes

Amy Gorin, RD

Parfait: 17 grams of protein

Should You Be Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar?

apple cider vinegar health benefits

I’ve been asked by multiple people lately my thoughts on apple cider vinegar – will it help me lose weight? Is it good for me? Do you drink it before meals? I tend to question food fads because no one food is a quick fix for all our ailments. I did a little research and here is what I found.

Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries dating back to the days of Hippocrates and Cleopatra. Back then they used it to treat infections, wounds, and dissolve rocks and minerals. However, as our culture and technology have advanced, most doctors and experts agree that other cleaning agents and wound treatments are safer and more effective at preventing disease and infection.

In regards to the various claims, here is what I think:

Weight Loss

One of the biggest purported claims is that drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before meals will aid in weight loss.

The largest and most cited study involved 175 Japanese, overweight, but otherwise healthy subjects. Over 12 weeks, the subjects drank a beverage with either 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. After 12-weeks, they lost an average of 3 pounds. Checking in with the subjects 4 weeks post-study, they had gained it back.

My Thoughts:

Like any diet, drinking apple cider vinegar for weight loss is not a sustainable weight loss method. The study showed that the subjects who drank apple cider vinegar lost some weight very slowly. If you are very patient and don’t mind drinking vinegar everyday for months this may be a great option for you. If you’re looking for either quicker or more sustainable weight loss, I’d suggest taking a look at your diet as a whole or working with a registered dietitian.


Blood Sugar Control

This claim seems to have the most research to support it. Multiple studies have shown that combining vinegar (any type) when eating a starch can lower blood sugar in diabetics. The vinegar seems to work by blocking the absorption of the starch.

My Thoughts: 

Yes, some studies do support this, however, this does not mean that apple cider vinegar can reverse diabetes. If you are taking any medication please consult your doctor as vinegar may interact.


Lowers Cholesterol

Most of these studies have been conducted in rats (note: rats are not people) and have shown mixed results. One study showed a relationship between apple cider vinegar consumption and raised HDL (good cholesterol) and lowered LDL (bad cholesterol), while another showed the opposite.

My Thoughts:

If you have high cholesterol, try emphasizing more plants in your diet or work with a registered dietitian for customized recommendations. It seems as though the research is not quite there yet, and I would not rely on this one ‘miracle’ food.


Arthritis and Inflammation

There appears to be just anecdotal reports of people claiming to feel better and having less pain from arthritis when drinking apple cider vinegar. Unfortunately, there are not currently any scientific reports supporting this claim. One very small study (30 participants) did measure C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) before and after apple cider vinegar consumption and did not find remarkable results.

My Thoughts: I have a hard time giving recommendations based on purely anecdotal evidence. If you think it works for you, I think that’s just great.


Teeth Whitening

Apple cider vinegar is an acid. Putting acid on your teeth will wear away at the enamel and protective layer, leaving them prone to cavities.

My thoughts: Not a good idea.


My Recommendation:

Overall, there has not been a significant amount of research done on the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar. Although some studies do suggest promising effects, many should be taken with a grain of salt. Many studies were small sample sizes or even done on rats. The good news is that there is not a huge risk factor of consuming a spoonful of apple cider vinegar, it even contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals (vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins). If you do choose to include apple cider vinegar in your diet I would recommend either including it in salad dressings, marinades, sauces, or baked goods, or dilute it in a glass of water – remember it is an acid and it may burn (and tasty pretty nasty) if you drink it by the spoonful.