Author: Marie Sullivan

Recipe: Chicken Breast Zucchini Pappardelle

If you want something light and refreshing to eat for dinner then you’ve got to give this a try.  I made it last night…its amazing and very easy!

Serves 2

Start to finish- 25 minutes


  • 1/2 lb zucchini
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • Accompaniment: Lemon Wedges

Directions: Shave zucchini lengthwise with carrot peeler or slicer and put in a large bowl.  Thinly slice garlic and reserve separately.  Pat chicken dry, then cut crosswise into thirds.  Season chicken all over with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Saute chicken until golden brown about 8-14 minutes.  Add chicken to the bowl of zucchini.  Then add garlic to skillet and cook until pale golden, about 1 minute.  Add the 1 Tbsp water to skillet and scrape up any brown bits, then drizzle over chicken and zucchini.  Add basil and 1/8 tsp salt to bowl and toss until zucchini wilts slightly.  Season with salt and pepper.


Categories: Blogging Eating Strategies

Are Chia Seeds Good For You?

I’ll admit that I quickly became excited about chia seeds when they first entered my world. I did a bit of research after reading about them in Born To Run, and got excited about this newly discovered supposedly excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

I ordered a big bag off and started incorporating some into smoothies and otherwise eating them by the spoonful. Recommending them to family and friends, I was a major chia fan to say the very least.

If you’ve never heard of chia seeds, here is a quick rundown:

  • They were a major food source of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations
  • They ARE the same seeds that grow chia pets (just don’t eat these ones, they’re processed differently)
  • They are very high in Omega 3 fatty acids (even higher than flax seeds)
  • They are becoming BIG TIME popular with a mention on Oprah by Dr. Oz
  • Hold approx. 12 times their weight in water, and thereby aid in hydration
  • High in antioxidants

A one ounce serving contains approximately:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids:  5g
  • Omega-6 fatty acids:  1.6g
  • Fiber:  11g  (primarily soluble) – total carbs 12g
  • Protein:  4g
  • Calories:  137
  • Calcium:  180 mg

Pretty good stats right?

These stats are great for such an inexpensive food, but they don’t form the complete picture.  Much like flaxseeds, the Omega-3 fatty acids contained in chia seeds are in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) form. Herein lies the problem. The main benefits of Omega-3 ALA consumption is to try and get our bodies to convert it into EPA/DHA fatty acids (the kind found in fish oil), but in most cases our bodies just don’t seem to be efficient at making the conversion (sources: 1,2,3). ALA bio-conversion to EPA is very limited and conversion to the even more important DHA is practically absent. I said “in most cases” because there has been some evidence of the conversion rate being higher in vegans and EPA conversion higher in chronically-ill African-Americans (sources: 1,2).

To put all this more simply: most of the Omega-3’s we get from chia seeds get wasted.

Getting enough of the right (EPA/DHA) Omega-3 fatty acids is extremely important for overall good health – one of the most important dietary things you can do in my opinion. In order to reduce chronic inflammation, we should try to get closer to a 1:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. This is vitally important. Most of us get far too much Omega-6 fatty acids, with the typical American’s ratio more around 30:1.

What does all this mean for you?

Most people should be supplementing with Omega’s 3’s to get the O6 to O3 ratio closer to 1:1. And as long as your not vegetarian/vegan, you probably should be taking fish-oil instead of relying on chia seeds. Chia seeds (or flax seeds) just can’t give you the proper Omega-3 benefits.

That being said, I’m going to recommend you still eat them, but for different reasons than you’ve previously heard. Chia seeds are mainly a good food option for their high content of soluble fiber and antioxidants as well as their hydrating properties (when prepared as a gel). So yeah…don’t give up on them just yet!

Categories: Blogging Eating Strategies

Egg Connoisseur

Ever since my husband started the SCDiet, our egg consumption has skyrocketed!

Before Eggs didn’t consume our lives, we were purchasing them from Kroger’s………blah.

But once I found the secret egg man, things changed.  Read more to find out how I met this crazy man.

One rainy morning my sister had me over for breakfast.  And yes, we had
Eggs…Scrambled eggs!  The first thing I noticed about her eggs was the shell color.
They were not just white or brown, but they were green, blue, and yellow!  I screamed, “where did you get these eggs!”
She replied “my friend Seth, he raises his own chicks just down the road”.  As excited as I was about the different colors, she had me hooked when she cracked the first egg open and plopped it into the mixing bowl.  I felt my mouth drop, my eyes widen, and a little drool drip from my lip. These eggs were not only good lookin on the outside but beautiful on the inside too.
The yolk was so vibrant that it nearly blinded me. I was able to finally use my food chemistry knowledge about the anatomy of eggs and point out to her the albumin, and inner/outer membrane. Kroger eggs don’t even compare to these eggs.  It was at this point I decided I would never eat another Kroger egg again!
So I bet you are wondering about the crazy egg man.
After consuming the rich and delicious scrambled eggs with some piping hot coffee I stated to my sister “I’ve gotta get me some of these”. The next week my sister introduced me to Mr. Crazy Egg Man (AKA Seth).  He gave me four cartons of eggs for the week (remember eggs consume our life now). He said “Here ya go mam, can I get you some goose eggs, ostrich eggs, duck eggs, or quail eggs to go along with those chicken eggs.  I didn’t know what to say…so I stuttered and spit out the words “You are a crazy egg man!”  So that’s the story of the crazy egg man.

Since eggs became a major staple of our diet. I decided to research them a little bit more and share some knowledge with you that I stumbled upon.

When shopping for eggs, its best to buy pastured eggs (and local if possible).  Pastured eggs are more nutritious than factory eggs.

Pastured eggs contain:

more Omega-3’s
10% less fat
40% more Vitamin A
34% less cholesterol
5 times more Vitamin D
3 times more Vitamin E
8 times more beta carotene

Pastured eggs are not only healthier for your body but for the hen too.

Pastured hens get to roam around outside and soak up the sun, while factory hens are forced to live indoors in crowded cages.  Since factory hens are not able to roam free on pasture and have to live in their own feces they get sick easier and have to be pumped full of antibiotics. Pastured eggs do not contain traces of added hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs.  And they get to live a stress free wonderful life.

Diet of:

Pastured Hens Vs.       Factory Hens

Bugs                                   Grain based

Earthworms                    Antibiotics

Grass                                  Feces

other critters

So pasture eggs are not only good for you but are delicious too!!
Try this recipe with the first batch of pastured eggs you buy.  You will be obsessed!

Categories: Blogging Eating Strategies

6 Lightning Fast Mini Dinners

Warning:  this strategy might not work so well if you have kids or a grumpy spouse

I don’t know about you, but when summer comes around, I’m not big on slaving away for hours over a hot stove. I like to enjoy some free time outdoors. You know – get outside and really experience life.

I’m not against cooking nice filling dinners in the summer, but doing it every night is a real time drain. I’d rather be hiking around a neat park or reading on a blanket in the shade. I’d rather be playing tennis and taking the dogs to play at the dog park. You with me?

When you don’t get home from work until 6 or 7pm, spending an hour or more on dinner is a good way to drain the rest of your energy while simultaneously killing your good mood.

photo by Antikris
photo by Antikris

As long as you get an adequate breakfast and nutritious lunch (lots of veggies), there’s no need to go overboard with big dinners all the time – especially if you’ve packed on some winter pounds.

Here are some ideas for tiny snack-like dinners that you can prepare and eat in just a few minutes. They all have enough protein to give you some energy to go out and explore the world.  And you could always toss them in a cooler with some wine and go for a picnic in the park.  (Tip: If you get hungry again close to bed, sip on some warm milk with cinnamon and nutmeg.)

1.  Banana w/ nut butter and granola. Grab and partially peel a banana. Use a knife to spread a blob of your favorite nut butter on the next bite of banana. Dip it into a bowl or bag of granola to coat.  Eat and repeat.

2.  Tuna in a pouch. (made using the solid-white albacore tuna in air-tight pouches)  Cut open the tuna pouch and throw in a small forkful of mayo (or avocado instead) and some random stuff from the fridge. Maybe toss in some grapes or nuts or a little lettuce and some radish. Eat straight up with a fork or on crackers (my favorite crackers are Wasa).

3.  Fresh mozzy’s. Cut up a fresh mozzarella ball and put on toasted bread, crackers, or in a wrap with fresh basil and tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and enjoy.

4.  Simple  salad. Grab a handful of spinach or micro-greens and throw on a hard-boiled egg  (precooked earlier in the week) or goat cheese. Add a couple other veggies of your choosing (onion, radish, broccoli, etc) and drizzle with a quick dressing (whip together extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fancy brown mustard). You can crumble some cracker on top if your feelin’ it.

5.  Cottage cheese with strawberries. Pretty simple stuff here, just slice strawberries on some cottage cheese (or yogurt if you’d rather) and eat with a fork or wrap in lettuce and eat with your fingers.

6.  Yogurt dipped veggies. Combine just a little bit (to suit your taste) of a ranch seasoning packet with some plain yogurt. Serve with raw veggies of your choosing.

So, there you go. I’m giving you permission to eat small for dinner once and a while. Permission to get out of the kitchen and out enjoying the world.

Do you have any idea’s of your own?? Leave them in the comments.


Categories: Eating Strategies Food Rules

Food Rule: Born From Love?

Here it is folks, I’ve come up with a simple rule to help you choose foods that will keep you on the path of health.

As a Dietitian, I am constantly asked ” What should I do to lose weight?”.   I’d always relay to them the simple message from author Michael Pollen “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  Its a practical statement ringing with truth and clarity and shifts the focus on health instead of the guilt that arises from weight issues.  If only I’d thought of it myself.

I figured it’s about time for a Dietitian to come up with a statement of simplicity for our community.  We can’t let the journalists take over all our authority.   I’m here today to reveal my food mantra and explain the meaning behind it.  Here it is:

If you think about where your food comes from, there are two general paths.  Either it comes from loving situations or non-loving situations.  And there are two ways in which food is consumed – loving and non-loving.

Non-Loving Situations

by lu_lu
by lu_lu

Non-loving situations lack care for the environment and care for the consumer.  These are the factory farms, the dirty feed lots, the crowded dark hen house, the fast food restaurants , and the chemically showered fields.   These are the animals injected with growth hormones and antibiotics to the point they can no longer stand on two feet.  The plants and animals that don’t receive the love and respect that human interactions demand.

And the consumer loses.

Our health declines and disease become more common even in the midst of scientific breakthroughs.   We might save a couple bucks at the grocery store, but we end up spending it on material items that clog our life and mask happiness.   The burden on our health and the health of the environment is  shifted from producer to the consumer or government.

It’s also possible that we are not consuming our food in a loving manner.   To me, love is about pleasure and acting with care.  It’s a feeling thats hard to describe and easy to debate.   One thing I do know:  Scarfing down a plate of food in less than five minutes is not love.   Making no attempt at tasting the individual ingredients is not love.   And stuffing yourself until you feel sick is not a loving situation.

Loving Situations

Many of us choose to nourish our bodies with  food that is born of love.   Vegetables fertilized with healthy compost and handled with care come from love.   Animals given room to run and fresh air to breath are loved.   Cows and pigs raised primarily on grass and allowed to naturally come to maturity are living a life of love.   Chefs who prepare our food with pride and attention are dishing out the love – and the really great ones always use the freshest local foods when possible.

Wild antelopes running through the prairie breeze feel the love.  Farmers that return waste to the very soil the animals graze on instead of  letting it pool and leach into our precious water supplies are showing love for the environment.   And growing our own food is the ultimate gift of love – its like getting to raise quiet, happy children year after year.

And the consumer wins.

Eating food from our garden is a magical, appreciative experience.  Meat from pastured or wild animals is lower in total fats (especially the saturated kind),  lower in calories, and two to four times higher in omega-3 fatty acids.  It’s higher in vitamins and minerals, and bigger on flavor.

Pastured meats are more expensive, and its a good thing.  Farmer’s undertake preventative measures for the health of the environment and our government’s liability is reduced.  They understand that we want to pay more for our meat because we know it’s healthier and that our investment will pay dividends down the road in the form of reduced medical expenses.

When we choose to only eat meats raised with love, we afford less and will gradually shift our dietary reliance to heart-healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains.  These fruits and vegetables should be free of the chemicals that can negatively affect our reproductive systems and brain function.  This will probably result in less calories consumed and a gradual return to a healthy, maintainable weight.

We should be consuming our food with more love.

Take some time to consider where it came from as you sit at the dinner table.  Taste the different flavor sensations – the bitter, sour, and sweet.  Try to decode the individual ingredients and notice how they play off each other.  Notice how the acid from our wine perfectly cuts through the sweetness of our roasted carrots.   Put down the fork for a minute and engage in conversation with your friends and family.  Appreciate how it nourishes our bodies.  Smell your food!  Chew your food!  Love your food!

Categories: Food Rules Health & fitness

4 Unconventional Tips for Healthier Eating

We’ve been told a million times to eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce processed carbs and sugars. Oftentimes, healthy eating advice can be boring and ineffective. What follows are four actionable ideas that are not conventionally preached as eating advice. Some may even help you save a buck.

1. Get Smaller Plates

The main reason people gain weight is by simply eating too much. We forget to watch our portion size. Although I definitely don’t advocate fast food, an interesting video documentary by James Painter called Portion Size Me proved that even a 30 day diet of nothing but fast food can make you lose weight and lower cholesterol. The key is proper portions.

Want to automatically trick yourself into eating less food? Get smaller plates. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, refers to studies that show you eat less food with smaller plates. The average plate size in America has been steadily increasing since the early 80’s, resulting in national weight gain.

To get back to the way things should be, get yourself some nice 8-10 inch diameter dinner plates and donate the big ones in your cupboard to your local charity or throw them off train tracks (I’m kidding, I swear!).

2. Start Gardening

Most everything that comes out of a garden is healthy and delicious. You will be eating the freshest food on the planet resulting in a maximum amount of nutrients.

And BONUS- you will be saving money! According to Vegetable Gardening for Dummies, a garden that is 20 feet by 30 feet requires an initial investment of $70 for things like seeds and soil, and produces more than $600 worth of vegetables over the course of a season.

There are several ways to get started depending on your situation. You can start small by potting plants in containers on your porch or just growing herbs from your kitchen window. Take it up a notch by creating raised beds in your backyard or at a friend’s house. You might also look into joining a community garden, where you’re sure to get expert advice and meet friendly neighbors. You can find more tips and links in my article “How to Start Gardening“.

3. (Beef Eaters) Organize a Cow Share

If you’re a beef eater who has seen documentaries such as Food, Inc that expose the horrors of factory farming, you’re probably interested in getting more of your beef from local farms raising animals on fresh pasture. You may also have noticed that grass-fed beef is more expensive.

For some, the high price of grass-fed can be beneficial by causing you to rely more on fruits and vegetables. For many people however, it’s a deterrent which causes them instead to choose factory farmed beef that’s higher in saturated fat and lower in good fats and omega-3s. To make the switch to grass-fed without killing your wallet, buy in bulk.

Get a few friends together who prefer grass-fed and go in on a whole or half cow from a local farm and store it in your freezer. With whole butchered cows typically selling for less than $3.00 a pound, you can stand to save a lot of money over time. Visit to find an ethical farming operation in your area.

4. Read a Compelling Book

Sometimes, a well-written compelling story is needed to drive a point home and solidify it in our minds. Over time, these ideas can turn into habits that shape our actions. I think one easy way to eat better is to read about healthy food and the surrounding industries. Here are 4 books you might consider to get started:

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. Great information! If you haven’t already, check out Darya’s thorough review of this life changing book.
The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan. One of the most talked about food books of the last few years and for good reason. A beautifully written book that is part policy and all heart.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan. This is a great follow up to The Omnivores Dilemma, loaded with fascinating information I hadn’t a clue about.
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink, Ph.D. It shows why you might not realize how much you’re eating, what you’re eating, or even why you’re eating.

6 Ways To Naturally Speed Up Metabolism

We have all heard that the metabolism is the rate at which our body burns calories and converts fuel into energy, but also affects how easily we will be able to part with the excess weight. Metabolism can be fast or slow and it depends not only on heredity, age or sex, but still largely on our lifestyle. Change your lifestyle, you can literally speed up the process of learning materials and, as a result, lose weight.
It is important to note that the metabolism cannot be solely responsible for the weight gain or loss – someone with a super-fast metabolism can remain slim, if not follow the diet and not doing, and people with a slow metabolism does not automatically doom to being overweight.
Even tiny adjustments human metabolism may provide significant health benefits over time. These six ways to give your metabolism a natural boost.

1. Turn on the pace

Sleep in a cool room in the body helps to increase the percentage of brown fat – a type of fat that acts more like a muscle, helping burn fat and the other increases the metabolic rate. This was confirmed by recent studies, so you try to lower the temperature in the bedroom nice and lose weight!

2. Drink a cup of coffee

Several small studies have shown that there is a link between caffeine consumption and increasing metabolism, as well as reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This may be because it helps the body to break down fats. But do not overdo it: too many drinks with caffeine may cause nervousness, nausea and insomnia, and some coffee drinks are also high in fat and sugar.

3. Keep your stress level low

Even if stressful situations do not cause your cravings for fatty foods, your body may require more time to process all the calories that you eat. Each stress pushes you to the desired result, and if you look over a long period, you will only gain weight, but not cleared. So this is another reason to try not to succumb to stress and to eat properly and regularly.

4. Adequate sleep

Sleep is desirable not only in the cool room, but also a fair amount of time. It has been shown that the lack of sleep slow metabolism in both women and men.

5. Strength training

Any type of physical activity – even just walking for 30 minutes – can help speed up the metabolism. But the best option is to weight training, which helps to burn and increase muscle mass, as it is known, spends calories even at rest. Try adding 2-3 weight training a week to improve metabolism and beautiful sports figure.

6. Snack something spicy foods

As has been proven, spicy foods also helps to speed up metabolism and burn fat faster, even though only temporarily, and only a small percentage. Such chemicals called isothiocyanates, is present in foods such as spicy mustard, horseradish, and can help to activate brown fat and speed up the metabolic rate.

Categories: Blogging Health & fitness

The Minimalist’s Guide to Eating

There’s more to life than food. I mean gosh, we spend a hell of a lot of time in the kitchen and thinking about what we’ll eat. We all have those day’s were we wish we could just inject ourselves with a liquidy goo of calories.

Well, I think adopting the minimalist approach to eating could save you some serious time.

You don’t have to own less than 50 items or live in a mini-house to adopt aspects of the minimalist way of life. We’re just talking about keeping it simple. Pair down your routine and you will be released from the constant struggle of decision.

And it’s healthy!
Freaking healthy as can be! Yeah, that’s right – healthy AND easy. It’s probably the last bit of diet advice you’ll ever need. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if you subscribed to this blog and kept hanging out and talking healthy with me- but it’s probably not necessary. This is a philosophy you could adopt and use for the rest of your life. You’d probably live longer and feel better.

I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore minimalist, but I do have tendencies. I’m fine living in a little apartment and keeping few possessions. Nate and I have moved twice in the last two years so we’ve kind of been forced into this lifestyle. After selling some of the larger things (couch, bed, etc), we have been able to fit all of our possessions in a subaru forester!!

We appreciate the sense of freedom from living a minimalist lifestyle and have begun to look for other ways to simplify our lives. We paired down our meal-plans and grocery lists and are really enjoying it. We still give ourselves a couple meals per week where we make fun recipes, but more often our meals are really basic. Today, I’m excited as heck to share our ideas with you! Here they are:

photo by ARG
photo by ARG

1) Buy Less Ingredients
Go to the grocery store or farmer’s market with a simple plan. Stick to fresh veggies, fruit, milk, yogurt, eggs, nuts, grains, legumes, and maybe one or two others. Buy essentials such as tamari, hot sauce, spices, herbs, and oil in large quantities when its on sale so you don’t typically run out (maybe check on prices if getting low). Bake your bread and get your meat locally. Vegetarians and vegans can simplify further.

2) Prepare Simply
Cook your foods only a few ways. No elaborate sauces or extensive preparations. A sprinkle of fresh herbs, dash of salt and pepper, or spritz of lemon can go a long way. Here are some examples:

Slice hearty veggies and roast in the oven with fresh herbs for around 45 minutes, putting a meat in halfway or so
Steam fish, rice, and veggies all at once
Sauté tofu and tender veggies in butter and olive oil and serve with brown rice
Cut up tons of raw veggies and fruit for a large salad and maybe throw in a protein (chicken, tofu, beans, quinoa, hard-boiled egg, etc). Toss with olive oil and balsamic or red-wine vinegar.
Throw leftovers between two pieces of bread with cheese.
You can try using a 5 or less ingredient rule (besides seasoning & oil) – which shouldn’t be too hard. Examples: breakfast – oatmeal, nuts, fruit. Lunch – (sandwich) bread, goat cheese, lettuce, tomato, sprouts. Dinner – black beans, onion, tomatoes, cilantro, corn tortillas.

3) Eat Less
Down a large glass of water as you begin to prepare a meal. Use the smaller 8-inch diameter salad plates for all your meals and try to fill them halfway with veggies. This just leaves room enough for a small amount of protein and whole grain or vegetable starch.

Do like one of the oldest living populations on the planet – the Okinawans, and only eat until your %80 full. Don’t clean your plate completely and never go back for seconds. Leftovers become new meals or a quick snack for later saving you even more time.

Simplify your diet and you’ll simplify your life. Feel the weight lift and the stress melt.

Anyone have any ideas for simplifying further?

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Categories: Eating Strategies