Karen and MaryMy favorite season of the year is just around the corner! Kids are going back to school, the temperatures will be dropping, leaves will begin to turn and we can enjoy long walks around Radnor Lake and our beautiful parks.  I love fall!

For the long, beautiful walks I love to pack something fun to munch.  Snacks are a big part of active lives, they bring comfort, high energy and nutrition to our bodies–if we do it right!  But many people do snacking the wrong way? Tennessee ranks at the top of the list for obesity within the United States. Where does your state rank? The old concept that weight loss is simply a matter of calories in and calories out are wrong. We must learn that the quality of the food we choose is more important than the amount we eat.

Eat more, weigh less: Eat real food

Unfortunately most of us have been brainwashed to believe that weight loss is simple a function of doing the math. Burn more than you eat and you will lose weight.  Not true.  In fact, you can eat much more food and still lose weight, but there’s a catch! You have to eat real food. Just imagine what your great-great-grandmother had to eat. Everything came from a farmer’s field and not a food chemist’s laboratory. Nothing was homogenized, refined or processed. There was no need for labels and fine print informing you of the amount of fat and salt, chemicals and preservatives.

If you never ate food with a label again, you’re likely wondering what you’d eat. It’s simple: real food.  Eating only whole, fresh, unprocessed food completely eliminates the need for calorie counting, or measuring fat grams or counting carbs. This works for one simple reason — you eat not only calories but also dietary information that your body recognizes. Eat the wrong information and you give your genes instructions to make you fat. Eat the right information and you give your genes instructions to lose weight. This is based on an exciting new understanding of how food talks to your genes called nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is the study of molecular relationships between nutrition and the response of genes.

Throughout the 20th century, nutritional science focused on identifying vitamins and minerals to use in preventing deficiency diseases.  Today, nutrition related health problems have shifted to overnutrition, resulting in obesity and type two diabetes.

I challenge you to begin eating real food and see how wonderful you will feel. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains (remember white flour in a bag has label!), poultry, fish and eggs. That’s it!  No counting calories, carbs or fat grams! Eat as much as you want and enjoy the results.

If you or your family suffers from allergies you will probably notice an ease in your discomfort.  Adults and children complain about puffy eyes, puffy ankles, puffy hands — and puffy bellies! Much of this type of discomfort is related to allergies.

This is not about pollen or dust allergies, nor am I talking about serious life-threatening food allergies from peanuts or shellfish. Rather I am referring to low-grade, delayed reactions to food, that until recently have been completely ignored by conventional medicine.

A recent study broke incredible ground in understanding the obesity epidemic. Researchers examined two groups of children — obese and normal weight. They found that the obese children had three problems (all related) that the thin children didn’t have.

First they were much more inflamed (as measured through a special blood test called C-reactive protein). Second, they had the beginnings of cholesterol plaques in their arteries. And third, they had two and a half times the level of food allergies. Anything that causes inflammation interferes with your metabolism, leading to weight gain, according to the Center for Disease Control.

A dear friend was not feeling well, was overweight, felt sluggish, exhausted a lot and had a constant cough.  She had recently lost her husband and decided that it was time for her to make major changes relative to food. So she took the plunge.  Stopped eating anything white, smaller portions, protein at every meal and low carbohydrates.  In a few months time she lost weight, felt wonderful (especially when she was dropping off her clothes at Goodwill) and realized that the debilitating cough that she had endured for almost 20 years is now GONE!  Now she feels like a million bucks!

What do we do about the cravings for the wrong foods?  If you balance the cravings you balance the blood sugar. There are many reasons for cravings. The main reason is that your blood sugar is swinging up and down, putting you on a seesaw of hunger and craving. We are genetically programmed to eat sugar (and anything that quickly turns to sugar, like white flour, white rice and white starchy potatoes).  Keep that in mind when you are craving something white, change the color and you will start the process of reversing a bad food habit!

So here are some rules to live better by;

Better Breakfast

It is important to eat protein every morning and with every meal.  In the morning I make a protein shake from 100% whey protein powder that is vanilla flavored.  It is wheat and gluten free, fat free and lactose free.  In a blender add two scoops of protein powder, 1 cup almond milk (found in the health food section), skim milk or rice milk and 1/2 cup fresh berries or banana.  Blend with a few ice cubes and you have a delicious breakfast smoothie that is filling and over 20 grams of protein.

Smarter Snacks

Remember, protein can also be found in nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, omega-3 eggs, wild fish and lean poultry… Being smart in choosing the right snacks is half the battle.  Here are a few reminders to help you cut cravings:

Snacks should be planned events, just like regular meals.  Gather the family together over the weekend to prepare a list of possible snack items. Asking children to participate in the decision process regarding meals encourages them to try new foods. While walking the aisles of the produce section, think fresh, low-sodium options. Allow youngsters to reach for different, bright colored vegetables that catch their attention. Talk about color, shape, texture, size and recipes to prepare different types of snacks. At home, allow children to help in the kitchen, even simple tasks like washing fruit or placing ready-to-eat cereal in bowls.

Focus on finger foods for child-friendly snacks. For calcium to build strong bones, try string cheese, pudding, plain yogurt, yogurt mixed with fresh fruit or cranberries, or cottage cheese on freshly sliced peaches. If grains are missing from the diet, serve dried cereal or cereal mixed with milk, rice cakes or sliced bread with cheese, peanut butter, air-popped popcorn or lightly-salted pretzels.

Rather than considering them as “extras,” choose snacks that contribute to your calorie and nutrient needs. Snack on foods that compliment your meals and add variety to your diet. For instance, if you mainly eat meats and starch at meals, snack on fruits, vegetables, and milk, cheese, or yogurt. If your goal is weight loss, you may want to consume nutrient dense snacks that are between 100-200 calories. If you are a physically active person, however, or a person looking to gain weight, you may need to consume nutrient dense snacks that contain between 200-400 calories.

Keep a variety of tasty, nutritious, ready-to-eat snacks on hand at home, work, or wherever you need a light bite to take the edge off hunger. That way you won’t be limited to snacks from vending machines, fast-food restaurants, or convenience stores. Prepare for unscheduled meetings and deadlines by stashing nutritious snacks in your office or workplace: instant soup, pretzels dipped in mustard, whole-grain cereal, mini cans of water-packed tuna, boxes of raisins, dried fruit, single serve fruit cups, and whole-wheat crackers or bagel chips.

Avoid pigging out.

Eating every two hours is a secret of many who have lost weight and are successful at keeping it off. Some people don’t eat all day and then pig out at night. It slows down your metabolism.  As soon as you get up, don’t wait two hours before you eat. Rev up your metabolism and get your systems working.  Make that protein shake and drink it on the way to work.

We must take action by making better food choices when it comes to snacking.  I hope and pray we all take notice and begin to take the steps needed to become healthier and make wiser decisions.  Start today by driving past the drive-thru lane.   Spend time creating a plan and setting goals for yourself and your family to live healthier.

The way we have eaten in the past century has put us into the fast lane of health decline according to Don Colbert, MD.  In 1910, the United States was classified as the healthiest nation in the world among one hundred nations studied.  By 1920, we had dropped to second place.  By 1950, we were in third place.  By 1970, we were in forty-first place.  And, in 1981 we had dropped all the way to ninety-fifth place.  How does a nation go from being in forty-first place in the area of good health to being in ninety-fifth place in only eleven years?  And from first place to ninety-fifth place in just one century!  The answer can be summed up in two words: fast food.

Enjoying smart snacks in between meals can keep blood sugar levels balanced and provide maximum energy throughout the day.

To a healthier and happier you.

Culinary blessings,

Chef Mary



Image from www.pexels.com, courtesy of veeterzy
Image from www.pexels.com, courtesy of veeterzy

1/2 cup blueberries

1 banana (can be frozen)

1 cup kale

1 cup pomegranate juice

1 cup ice

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder


Place everything in blender and blend until smooth and creamy. If to thick add additional juice or almond milk. Enjoy immediately or place in the fridge for a snack later.  This smoothie will keep one day in the refrigerator. Feel free to substitute raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or peaches for the blueberries.

Bon appétit!