Blog: News Bites and Feeds
August 6th, 2015 |

5 Ingredients For Athletes To Try & Why

I was recently asked by a popular magazine to list five ingredients that are particularly beneficial to athletes. While it was tough to narrow down, here are my picks:

1. Beets. Fresh beets are an athlete’s natural medicine, especially when juiced and consumed as a concentrated drink before exercise. Why? Beets are rich in nitrates. Beneficial bacteria in our saliva convert the nitrates to nitrite, and eventually on to nitric oxide elsewhere in the body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that helps protect the heart and may improve exercise capacity and efficiency. More power is produced with less energy expended, so beets are certainly worth a try.

Just avoid using a mouthwash before drinking beet juice; a strong mouthwash might reduce the beneficial bacteria in the mouth and could possibly lessen the conversion of nitrate to nitrate; a necessary step in the beet benefit process. Beets offer a strong flavor so finding flavor combos that please the palate is a key to regular compliance (investing in a high performance blender will also help). A glass of fresh beet juice a few hours before intense exercise is ideal. Skip the beet pills; they don’t have the same potential as the actual beet root. Concentrated beet powders (without added sugars and fillers) are a convenient and portable back up plan when traveling. These can be easily mixed with water and used about 30 minutes before exercise.

2. Red Lentils. Lentils come in many varieties and can be used interchangeably but red lentils are small, skinned and split so they cook down very rapidly and are quite useful for a time-pressed athlete. Unlike other legumes, lentils don’t need to be soaked for hours before cooking. Lentils are packed with protein, iron and B vitamins; all key nutrients for athletic performance and recovery. Lentils are also high in fiber and can help with satiety (fullness). This may influence sensible portions at mealtimes and less mindless munching between meals. They’re good for the environment, easy to find and very inexpensive. Great for salads and sides, lentils also can be used for soups and stews (especially if overcooked accidentally).

3. Lemons. We ofter overlook the full power of citrus. The vitamin C in citrus fruit may help reduce inflammation from the chronic stress of exercise. What’s more, Vitamin C increases the body’s ability to absorb iron found in plant-based foods such as beans, lentils and leafy greens. Don’t forget the extra protective benefit of the citrus peel when used to make colorful strips of zest. Citrus zest is rich in fiber and flavonoids that protect the heart by reducing harmful LDL cholesterol. You can add citrus zest (any citrus fruit will do) to warm cereal, salads, dressings, grains, shakes, yogurt, ice cubes and in your favorite dessert. Zest goes with everything and adds a bright pop of color.

4. Pepitas. Also know as pumpkin seeds, these nutrient-dense seeds provide a powerful mixture of antioxidants, minerals, healthy fat, fiber and protein. Raw, roasted or toasted, pepitas can be added to salads, shakes, trail mix or sprinkled on top of a sweet potato or a bowl of yogurt. They’re inexpensive, accessible, portable and can easily upgrade any athlete’s nutrition plan.

5. Turmeric. This golden root is part of the ginger family and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that have been used in India for thousands of years in Ayurvedic healing medicine. Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellowish hue due to compounds called curcuminoids, including curcumin, the main active antioxidant ingredient in turmeric. Oxidative damage to the body from chronic stress, environmental toxins and yes, intense exercise can be quieted by curcumin as it blocks free-radical damage and stimulates the body’s own antioxidant defense system. Turmeric is a bold flavor and often used as a powdered spice for curry dishes. Adding a small thumb-sized piece of turmeric root to the blender for juices, smoothies and soups is another way to include this powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized
July 23rd, 2015 |

Don’t Fear the Tempeh! Vegan or Not, Put Plant-Based Proteins on Your Radar

Protein. We need it. It’s builds cells and helps repair muscle tissue. Our bones, blood, organs, muscles and skin all need protein to function properly. It’s the building block of neurotransmitters, the messaging cells in our bodies that allow all of our systems to communicate with each other. It’s pretty important stuff.

A google-image search of ‘protein’ brings up glossy images of steak, seafood, eggs and designer whey protein powders. Only a few images include beans and nuts. It’s pretty clear. In the world of protein, many people think of animal sources or supplements.

I recommend plant-based protein sources to both herbivores and omnivores alike. No matter how you classify yourself on the eating spectrum, it’s becoming clear that eating more plant-based foods is a good idea for all of us. From hardcore vegan to hardcore meat lover, plant-based proteins can be beneficial to include daily as they are naturally cholesterol-free, low in saturated fats and also contain healthful antioxidants and fiber.

How much protein do really you need in a day? It depends on how active you are. Protein needs also vary for some specific medical issues so a registered dietitian may help you individualize your needs more specifically.

Basic protein needs: .36 grams per pound of body weight or ideal body weight. For example, 150 pound person would require 54 grams of protein per day.

Athletic protein needs: about .5-.6 grams per pound of body weight or ideal body weight (some extreme athletes may require more). For example, the 150 pound athlete would require 75-90 grams of protein per day.

Carnivore friends: Can you get in half of your protein from plant-based sources in a day? Maybe you’ll start by having a meatless meal, once a week. Perhaps a Meatless Monday lunch or dinner. If you eat snacks, go with nuts, nut butters or seeds with some fruit.

Herbivore friends: Can you meet your protein needs from a wider variety of plant-based sources? Can you try something new? Can you limit highly processed forms of protein powders and veggie burgers?

Here are a few of my favorite plant-based proteins. Give them a try!

Beans and Legumes: A 1-cup portion of most cooked beans and lentils offers about 15 grams of protein. Available both dried and canned, beans are a quick addition for soups, salads, sides and sandwiches. If using canned beans, rinse the beans under water to remove excess sodium. If using dried beans, you will need to rinse and soak the beans in cold water (1:3 ratio of beans to water) for 6 hours or longer before cooking. Dry beans will yield about three times their amount once cooked so they very economical if you set aside the time. If using lentils, no need to soak. Just rinse, add to boiling water and cook for 25-45 minutes, (refer to directions on the package). Red and yellow lentils cook quicker and may be ready in 10-15 minutes. Flavor beans and legumes once the cooking is done; salting the water or adding acidic ingredients before or during may affect the cooking process and texture.

Grains: A 3.5-ounce portion of cooked whole grains has anywhere between 3-13 grams of protein. Cook up a generous serving of your favorite grain. When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, cooked grains can last at least a week and make for quick meals when paired with spices, vegetables and beans or lentils. Often cooked like a grain (although it’s really a seed), quinoa contains 4 grams of protein for a 3.5-ounce serving. Maybe you’ll even consider trying amaranth, farro and freekeh; a few lesser known grains. A 3.5-ounce serving of freekeh has 13 grams of protein and about 15 grams of fiber! It’s worth an experiment.

Nuts and Seeds: An ounce serving of nuts has between 3-9 grams of protein for the perfect portable snack. Roasted pumpkin seeds have nearly 10 grams for the same serving size. Chia and hemp seeds are a bit more expensive but are worthwhile additions to salads, sides, smoothies and desserts.

Vegan milks: Of all dairy-free milks, unsweetened soy milk is richest in protein. An 8-ounce cup has about 7 grams. Unsweetened almond, coconut and hemp milks are great too but have less protein per serving so you’ll want to rely on protein from other sources.

Seitan: Raw seitan, often made from vital wheat gluten, is an efficient protein source: one 3.5-ounce serving contains about 16 ounces of protein. Seitan can be steamed, simmered on the stove top or in a slow cooker, baked in the oven; different methods result in different textures. Prepared seitan is usually available in the refrigerated section of natural food stores but making it homemade is easy (and much tastier).

Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame: Tofu, tempeh and edamame are all whole food forms of soy. Tofu is made from coagulated soymilk and is easy to find in most grocery stores. Just a half cup serving has 10 grams of protein. Extra-firm tofu will not need to be pressed before using, just quickly drained of any excess fluid. Tofu makes a great addition to stir-fries, soups or salads and will take on the flavor profile you choose. Tempeh is a fermented form of cracked, partially-cooked soybeans that are formed into solidified cakes. Just a 4-ounce serving of tempeh provides 21 grams of protein and like tofu, it will take on whatever flavor you give it. Try it covered with BBQ sauce and baked for 20 minutes paired with your favorite summer vegetables.

Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast so it won’t cause your foods to rise. It is packed with protein and B-vitamins; just 2 tablespoons has 8 grams of protein. The flavor is savory and slightly cheesy and it a great topping for vegetables, grains and popcorn. The flavor is strong so try a small amount at first.

Chlorella: Chlorella is a green algae that is very nutrient-dense and often used in powdered form as an addition to smoothies and juices. Look for brands that have cracked the outer cell wall for easier digestibility. Just one tablespoon of high quality chlorella powder contains 5 grams of protein along with Vitamin A, Iron, B Vitamins, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc. Green is good!


May 8th, 2015 |

Yoga, Wellness & Fantastic Food on Martha’s Vineyard? YES!

What are you doing in exactly a month? How about joining me in Martha’s Vineyard (before it gets too crowded) with two fantastic yoga teachers for a 4-day yoga and wellness retreat! Yes, that’s right. Just sign up.

I’m joining Amy Leydon and Emily Phillips from June 7th-10th for Reboot Camp Wellness Retreat at the Vineyard Arts Project in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard.

  • Luxurious accommodations with private bathrooms
  • Power Yoga, Barre, Meditation and Restorative Yoga classes throughout the day (all levels welcome)
  • Daily outdoor fitness excursions, including guided bike rides and beach workouts
  • Nutrition workshop with yours truly and private nutrition consultations also available
  • Local, organic, delicious cuisine prepared with love by head cheese maker Jacqueline Foster of Grey Barn Farm–ALL MEALS included

For more information and to register, visit


CATEGORIES: General, Nutrition
February 3rd, 2015 |

Less Lazy

Let’s start with a definition.

Laziness (also called indolence) is a disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to do so. It is often used as a pejorative; related terms for a person seen to be lazy include couch potato, slacker, and bludger.

Why do I care about laziness? Well, it’s because I hear about it all the time. People know what to do when it comes to nutrition and exercise but laziness gets in the way of taking sustainable action. They would change a behavior if they weren’t so lazy.

Laziness might truly exist but to me it’s just a word, a label and a convenient excuse that’s getting in the way. It’s time to move on. Laziness reminds me of stress. Sure it exists and it may not ever go away, but it’s all in how you handle it. It’s time to get a little less lazy.

I always say, “recognize the opportunity of inconvenience.” My clients look puzzled. I see the less lazy way as being a true gift to the natural couch potato. More movement, more confidence, more time in nature and a step away from the laziness label. Here are a few less lazy favorites. Do you have any?

  • Take the stairs. Pretend as if the elevator gets stuck or reeks of cheap cologne.
  • Walk or bike for errands when you’d usually drive or take public transportation. Or, try a partial walk, partial transport.
  • Park as if you own a Ferrari and don’t want it to get scratched in a crowded parking lot (this doesn’t mean taking up 2 spots).
  • Carry shopping bags in one at a time. It’s ok to make a few trips.
  • Stop overachieving with goal setting. Don’t set a goal of running your first a marathon in 3 months if you’re sedentary. Start with something that you’ll do, and with consistency. Walk 15 minutes a day. Take the mail to the post office. Do 5 push-ups. Make it achievable.
  • Earn your TV time. An hour of movement, an hour of TV.
  • Just move more. Who cares what it is, just move more.
  • Cook at home more often. Try to reduce your reliance on food from restaurants or take-out by 1 meal per week, to start.
  • Invest in snack-sized bags and pre-portion healthy snacks the night before (or on a lazy Sunday afternoon).
  • Bring a piece of fruit with you. How hard is that?

What will you do differently today to be a little less lazy?






CATEGORIES: Exercise, Motivation
November 19th, 2014 |

10 Holiday Eating Tips

1. Enjoy! The holidays are a great time to gather with family and friends and eat incredible foods. Don’t miss out!

2. Balance. Most people do eat more calories during the holiday stretch. Think about ways to increase your activity to balance out the excess calories. Walk more during your workday. Extend your walk or run by 5-10 minutes. Take the train or bus and get off a stop earlier.Take the stairs during your workday. Small increases in activity can make a big difference.

3. Think Mediterranean. Go for savory vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains, yogurt and olive oil whenever possible and use spices to help enhance flavor rather than an extra pat of butter or salt.

4. Focus on colorful vegetables. Most holiday meals are rich in vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, spinach, turnips and Brussels sprouts. These foods are an excellent way to include a good dose of protective antioxidants. Make your vegetable portions bigger than you normally do at holiday time. Fill your plate with color.

5. Drink sensibly. For those including alcohol, be sure to include a glass of water between drinks to avoid overdoing alcohol calories (and a horrible hangover).

6. Keep the ‘heavy hitters’ small in portion. Some foods are packed with calories (and taste).  Keep the portions of such foods small. Cheese, bread, nuts, olives, dried fruit, appetizers, rolls, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, alcohol and desserts.

7. Try healthier versions of a few of your favorite foods. Use olive oil instead of butter. Try fresh and dried spices instead of relying on salt and cheese.

8. Eat! Don’t skip eating the day of a holiday. Skipping meals to ‘save your calories’ will backfire and you’ll eat at least twice as much when you come to meal time. Eat as you normally would during the day (or slightly less) to avoid feeling overly hungry.

9. Exercise. You’ll feel better. Plain and simple. Get out and move. Sign up to walk or run a holiday road race.

10. Same as number 1. Enjoy. Be mindful of your eating but don’t obsess or worry about it. Food is one of the best gifts. Savor it.

CATEGORIES: Healthy Weight
October 6th, 2014 |

Butter Me Up?

I keep getting asked about saturated fat after several flashy media reports about sat fat not being the cause of heart disease. The answer isn’t so simple. To me, it begs for a heavy dose of simple common sense.

Here’s an email response to a friend about this topic over the summer. It summarizes my thoughts without getting into the nitty gritty of nutrition epidemiology. I thought it would be worth sharing. Here it is:

Hey, I’m in the Adirondacks with spotty cell service. I’m in Lake Placid right now doing a few errands & just peeking at this so I wanted to write back my quick thoughts.

I don’t think it’s as simple as saying that cutting out carbohydrates and replacing with sat fat will work for everyone. The data on Mediterranean Diet seems much more useful to me when we look beyond just body weight. How can people best protect themselves from chronic disease as they get to a healthier weight? How can they stay at a healthy weight for good? How can they decrease inflammation? How can learn to eat minimally processed foods? How the heck can they get in the kitchen and cook more? How can they feel better? To me, that’s what matters.

Refined carbohydrates are problematic. No denying that. Replacing refined carbs with small amounts of whole grains or gluten-free carbs for active people makes sense to me. The fiber in good carbs should help justify smaller carb portions. It’s also an opportunity to add some disease preventing nutrients.

Saturated fat should still be taken in smaller amounts than healthier monounsaturated and omega 3 fats. People unfortunately interpret ‘sat fat is good’ and the bacon, beef jerky and hamburgers (no bun) start becoming the norm. We KNOW that’s problematic for inflammation and cancer.

So, if we’re going to say that ‘sat fats not so bad’, I really think we need to highlight that people choose saturated fat sources in moderation from grass-fed beef or coconut oil whenever possible and NOT from nitrate-laden super processed forms. Also, we NEED to highlight that they need far more fruits and vegetables and plant-based foods too.

In short, most people need to eat less, move move, eat far more plants and fewer animals, sleep better, stress less, etc. And, they need to enjoy the outdoors more (best medicine).

I’m stealing wireless so my time is short. Back to Boston on Tuesday unless I just stay here forever. The Adirondacks are too beautiful for words (best medicine).



Thoughts? For more on this debate, read this piece in the fall 2014 Harvard School of Public Health magazine.
July 29th, 2014 |

Introducing Walking Wednesdays at Lown Cardiovascular Center

I’m always encouraging (ok, begging) my clients and patients to “keep it moving.” It’s no surprise that a commitment to regular exercise has many benefits, for both body and mind. What’s more, it’s fun with the support of others.

I’m now offering my follow-up office nutrition visits as outside walking visits. I also just started an evening walking wellness group at the Lown Cardiovascular Center in Brookline.

The “Walking Wednesdays” group meets from 5 – 6 pm every Wednesday. The walks will start and finish at Lown, 21 Longwood Avenue, Brookline MA. The walks are rain or shine.

The group is FREE. Participation is open to anyone wanting to exercise with the motivation of others. All levels of fitness are welcome. The walks can be adapted to your fitness level. Parking is available on a first come, first serve basis from 5-6 pm at Lown. Public transportation is only a block away with the MBTA Green Line C Train, Coolidge Corner stop. There is also a Hubway bike share stop in the Coolidge Corner area.

Wear your sneakers, bring a walking buddy and get ready to make new friends as you take steps to a healthier life!

Please plan to be at Lown and ready to go for a 5 pm start. Check in at the front desk once you arrive (must be before 5 pm). We’ll be back at 6 pm on the dot.

Call Lown 617.732.1318 if you have any questions about Walking Wednesdays. Please refer to the Lown website for directions.

Let’s build Walking Wednesdays together! All you have to do is show up and tell others.

May 18th, 2014 |

Fed Up: A Few Thoughts

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a special preview screening of Fed Up, the new food documentary at the Harvard School of Public Health. The screening was followed by a short panel Q&A with film producer Laurie David, ChopChop Magazine  founder Sally Sampson and Dr. Eric Rimm, nutrition epidemiologist at HSPH.

The film intends to piss people off about the state of food marketing and the inability of the government to make changes to protect our collective health, especially that of American children.

I came across my hand-scribbled notes I took while watching Fed Up and listening to the panel afterwards. I’ll share them here. In some cases, I wrote the author of the quote. If not, it is likely a quote or phrase from the movie’s narrator, Katie Couric. 

  • Plenty of people are non-obese but sick on the inside. This is everybody’s problem. It touches all of us.
  • A bowl of corn flakes, no added sugar. A bowl of sugar, no added cornflakes. It’s the same thing once it passes your palate.
  • Sugar is 8x more addictive than cocaine. Dr. Mark Hyman, founder and Medical Director of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA
  • Junk is still junk, even if it’s less junky. Dr. Mark Hyman
  • Schools have become 7-11s with books. Dr. Kelly Brownell, Dean of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy
  • 600,000 food products in grocery stores. 80% have added sugar.
  • If we have Meatless Mondays, we should have Sodaless Sundays.
  • Tomato paste is a good source of fiber. WHAT? Ketchup and tomato sauce count as vegetables. WHAT? (movie audience response)
  • Would LeBron James or Beyonce sell cigarettes? Laurie David on celebrity food endorsements (soda, Gatorade, etc.).
  • You can’t actually be on your cell phone and chop a carrot at the same time. Cooking helps us disconnect and connect with what’s important. Laurie David on the importance of cooking.
  • Eating junk isn’t effortless. Sally Sampson of ChopChop magazine on the argument that eating healthy foods costs more and takes more effort.
  • Start small, make a sandwich. It takes 3 minutes. Sally Sampson on ‘cooking’ at home.
  • Spend all the money on healthcare on teaching people how to cook. Dr. Eric Rimm of Harvard School of Public Health on shifting our priorities.
  • We have to have better spin than they do. Eric Rimm on how public health needs a public relations makeover to compete with food marketing campaigns.
  • The discussion needs to be about food. Not about weight. Sally Sampson on reframing the issue.

Go see this film and form your own opinions. Start a discussion with friends and colleagues. Rip the film apart. Compliment the parts you agree with. Get political.

As a nutrition professional, I completely agree with my fellow sports dietitian and diabetes educator Sally Hara on her recent post. Nutrition isn’t as  simple as pointing fingers. Helping change a massive system where the deck is really stacked against the good guys (public health & qualified nutrition professionals), isn’t easy. Placing blame, that’s easy.

Here’s my take away message: Don’t wait for the system to be fixed. It won’t be. Just try to make yourself better. Make a small but lasting change to your lifestyle. Motivate and engage those that you care for to do the same. That’s how you help yourself and your community.



March 27th, 2014 |

Who are you getting your nutrition information from?

Load Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any web site. Search for the nutrition topic of your choice. What will you find? Pages upon pages of information, meaning your simple nutrition question just became a million times more confusing.

So, how do you know what information to trust? One way is to look at the credentials of the writer.

Here is what some of the credentials of nutrition writers mean:

Registered Dietitian (also referred to as RD)

  • Registered Dietitians go through extensive schooling in nutrition and dietetics. They complete an internship (in the hospital, outpatient, and community setting) focusing on ways to counsel a wide variety of people on their diets.
  • Registered Dietitians must continue their education yearly. That helps them stay up-to-date on the current nutrition information and research.


  • No education or training is required to list this credential. Some nutritionists receive extensive schooling in nutrition. Other nutritionists are simply passionate about healthy eating. Check out a nutritionist’s resume and training to determine if she or he has received an education in nutrition.

Health Coach

  • Health coaches train to council clients on healthy behaviors. They take broad courses on nutrition, fitness, and health.

Yoga Instructor

  • Yoga instructors get credentialed to teach yoga. The technique focuses on the mind, body, and spirit. This training does not include nutrition education.

Fitness Enthusiast

  • You see them at the gym or posting about it every day. They clearly enjoy staying active. But they have zero nutrition education.


  • Baristas remember your “nonfat latte with sugar free vanilla syrup” order each morning. They make all milk and milk alternatives (nonfat, 1%, 2%, whole, or soy) available for you. As part of their job, they do not need to know anything about nutrition.

If you are seeking nutrition advice online, search for the credentials of your source. Be wary of information posted by those without an education in nutrition.

By Stephanie Snell, Guest Blogger, Master’s Candidate at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

February 27th, 2014 |

Coconut Water: Are you drinking the “right beverage” for your workout?

Many articles have been published on the importance of staying hydrated during physical activity. Markets have a wide array of beverages that promote “rehydration” benefits. But, how do you choose the best beverage for your workout?  Do you need Gatorade? Coconut water? Or plain water?

For the everyday exerciser, water is still the only recommended beverage within the scientific literature.

Researchers* have tested active adults’ and athletes’ hydration response to a generic sports drink, coconut water, and water after their exercise routine. All participants performed intense exercises that would dehydrate them. Following that exercise, participants consumed one of the three beverages. Their body weights were recorded prior to exercise, following exercise, and then in hourly intervals following the “rehydration beverage.” For a regular exercise regimen—less intense than an athlete—all beverages had the same effect on hydration.

Sports Drinks

Coconut Water


  • Sports drinks are better than water during intense exercise that an elite athlete would take part in.
  • Sports drinks contain enough sodium to activate the body’s response to drink more fluids.
  • Coconut water comes from the juice of the coconut: it is all natural and contains no artificial ingredients.
  • Coconut water taste different from water and sports drinks.


  • Sports drinks have only been proven beneficial in the elite athlete population, not for the average person going to the gym a few times a week. No evidence suggests sports drinks should be consumed for regular exercise.
  • Sport drinks have more calories than water. Watch the serving size because the calories add up quickly.
  • Coconut water can cause abdominal discomfort when it is used for rehydration.
  • Coconut water has no scientific evidence supporting it as a better rehydration beverage—the main claim of advertisements.

Whether or not you believe the hype about sports drinks and coconut water, the research states that the best beverage for your workout is still plain water. Drink water, stay hydrated.

*Research has been published in the Nutrition Journal, Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, and other peer-reviewed journals


By Stephanie Snell, guest blogger, Master’s Candidate in Nutrition at Tufts University