Monthly Archives: February 2012

Nutrition Investments: Spend Wisely!

I would say I am pretty good when it comes to saving and spending my money. I spend only money I have and try to invest in quality products. I think of what is going to be the return on investment this item is going to give me prior to making purchases and investments. For example, spending money on an education program that will develop my career or investing in a great pair of jeans that will last forever.

This concept can be applied to nutrition in two ways. 

1. Spend your money on quality foods. Don’t buy something just because it is on sale! (You do not need 10 boxes of cake mix just cause you get them free if you buy 15.)

2. Spend your calorie allotment on foods that will help your body function to it’s highest potential. Invest in foods that are nutritionally dense versus calorically dense.

If you want to enjoy a food that is indulgent such as a brownie. Save your calories that day for the special treat, and buy the best brownie you can find. Eat it. Cherish it.

I like to think of spending my calorie allotment on foods like I would spend my money on shoes. Would you spend your money on 10 pairs of shoes for $10 that are made cheap and are uncomfortable, or would you spend $100 on a pair of perfect shoes that are exactly what you want and will last a long time? I am hoping you said the latter option.

In regards to point number 1, you may ask. “Well Gabriella, I just do not have the money to go and shop at Whole Foods everyday for all my meals!” I totally understand, but with some helpful planning and tips you can buy quality food and still stay in budget.

My Tips on Saving Money while Shopping:

1. Be creative with produce. Use what is on special to look for new varieties of fruits and vegetables to try. Look for also what is in season.

2. If possible: Investigate community shared agriculture boxes that you can pick up from local farms or organic boxes that can be sent to your front door. They usually are very affordable and you receive great fresh produce. If you live in Portland check out, Organics to You, this was my favorite last year!

3. Utilize the bulk section in your local market or Whole Foods. This usually saves you a lot of money on items such as beans, legumes, four, sugar, dried fruit, and nuts.

4. Look for coupons on whole foods that you plan on using. I like to check out the weekly flyer at Whole Foods to see if there are any coupons on foods such as tofu, chicken, fruit/vegetables, cereal and cereal bars.

Those are just a few tips, and I hope you all will share with us how you save money on healthy groceries.

Now you know that spending your money wisely on food and calories are both important for both financial and functional health.

So say No to : 

And Yes to this:

You will start to see that spending your money and calories on fresh, nutritious food will not only be great for your body but also your bank account!

To a Happy, Healthy (Money-Savvy) New-U! 


Gotta Love It! Vegan Chocolate Pie with Love Crunch Crust

I love chocolate. If I want to have a sweet dessert, I usually go for something chocolatey versus any other sweet. Whether it is a dark chocolate cupcake at Sprinkles or a homemade chocolate chip cookie, I enjoy having a delightful chocolatey treat once and a while.

When I saw the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux post, I was very excited. It was CHOCOLATE. I then thought to myself, how do I make chocolate healthy?

Chocolate itself is a healthy food because it has a high amount of antioxidants which reduces free radicals in our body which helps strengthen our immune system and decrease risk for cancer. Chocolate in small doses has also been seen to help in heart health, which goes along with this month’s National Heart Health Month theme. This post calls for me to use chocolate as an ingredient in a recipe, so I started to think of all the chocolate dishes I love that I can remake.

A couple weeks ago on my birthday, I decided to have a dessert the Italian restaurant called the Budino (Italian for pudding). They made a vegan dark chocolate budino with orange glaze on top that was out of this world. It was so creamy, you had to think their was dairy in this dessert, but there wasn’t!

For this months recipe, I made a vegan chocolate pie that has been adapted from Alton Brown’s Moo-less Chocolate Pie but with my own spin and changes.

Gotta Love It! Vegan Chocolate Pie with Love Crunch Crust

Pie Filling:

-12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

-2 tablespoons honey

-1 lb silken tofu

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1 tsp coffee flavoring (do not need, but we had on hand)

-orange zest to taste


-1 box Nature’s Path Organic Love Crunch cereal (had organic oats, freeze dried raspberries, strawberries, and small amounts of chocolate)

-1/3 cup melted coconut oil

-2 tbsp flour

To make crust:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Place granola in plastic bag, and crush with a meat tenderizers until somewhat ground but still has some texture.

-In a large bowl, mix crushed granola, flour, and coconut oil.

-Place mixture in a glass pie dish and cook until golden brown about 10 minutes.

-Let cool before placing pie filling.

To make pie filling: 

-Melt chocolate chip under a double boiler or in the microwave like I did! Place about 3-4 ounces at a time, and heat the chocolate chips for about 30-35 seconds at a time. Add 3-4 ounces and continue the 30-35 second interval until all chocolate chips are melted. Add vanilla extract.

-In a large blender, place tofu, chocolate mixture, and honey. Blend until combined. Remember to scrape down the chocolate on the sides so everything is completely combined.

-Add orange zest and mix by hand.

To assemble: 

-Place chocolate pudding mix on top of the granola crust.

-Optional: Cut fresh strawberries and place on top with a decorative design.

-Garnish with orange zest.

-Refrigerate for about 3 hours.


To a Happy, Healthy, New-U!


PS: If this wasn’t enough chocolate for you, click the link below for all the tasty chocolate recipes made from the other dietitians!

Hot off the Press! Organic Brown Rice Syrup is Toxic?

There has been a lot of hype lately concerning certain food items that contain the compound arsenic that has been linked to cancer, and developmental effects especially in children.  Today while watching the news I saw a new research study that actually alarmed me because high levels of the compound was found in foods I may consume, that my sister consumes every morning before her run, and infants everyday!

From Today “High levels of arsenic, a chemical linked to cancer, chronic diseases and developmental effects, have been found in foods that list organic brown rice syrup as a primary ingredient, according to a new study from Dartmouth University.”

It seems as if we are dealing with two devils now. Organic brown rice syrup has been the main substitute for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Health nuts everywhere looked to items with organic brown rice syrup instead of HFCS in food items such a cereal bars, muffins, and even gels and blocks that are used by long distance runners. Organic brown rice syrup is also found in baby formula which is causing most of the scare now because that is a important time for development.

“One of the infant formulas tested contained twice the inorganic arsenic allowed in drinking water, according to Environmental Protection Agency standards. One cereal bar contained 12 times the legal limit for drinking water of 10 parts per billion (ppb). High-energy foods tested had 8 to 17 times the limit.”

This is shocking because all this time we thought we were doing something great for our bodies by choosing a more natural source of glucose, but now should we be scared?

I went home to look at the Cliff Blocks that my sister eats every morning before her run which releases a quick source of glucose; a product the study claimed to have the compound. What did I find?

The first ingredient on the list was organic brown rice syrup!


Okay, let’s be honest, no she hasn’t. It has been seen that inorganic arsenic has been linked to cancer, but experts are split on whether organic arsenic has the same effect. Also, the lead author of the study, Brian Jackson, is more concerned about the compound in infant formula versus the cereal bars and energy gels/blocks.

“When it comes to the energy shots and cereal bars, ‘I don’t think there’s a real immediate danger,’ said Jackson, a research associate professor. ‘The only comparison is drinking water and the risk factors are based on lifetime exposure.’ Infant formulas with high arsenic levels are more of a concern. ‘It’s probably not a good thing for an infant to be exposed to those levels of arsenic,’ Jackson said. “We don’t know the effects of long-term exposure.”

I think that the real concern here is whether or not organic brown rice syrup should really be in infant formula. This is the main source of their nutrition and their metabolism and way infants excrete toxins is far different than an adult.

Main message: Parents should consider whether or not they want to continue using a formula with organic brown rice syrup. For adults, I would consider making your own cereal bars with real organic cane sugar or agave. If you are a runner you can make the decision on whether to continue to use blocks or an alternate source of quick glucose. 

Don’t be SCARED, but be well informed. That is why I am here to inform you.

To a Happy, Healthy New-U!

Listen Up Body Buffs! We Are Talking About Protein


Lately, it has been hard to be a dietitian while at the gym. I hear trainers, gym go-ers, and instructors everywhere talk about nutrition and sometimes lets just’s not pretty. I can’t help to listen and sometimes get frustrated. When I hear a trainer talk to a person about diet (which is unethical if they do not have their RD certification btw), I can’t help but want to scream. At the end of the day, I am just a gym-goer there along with everyone else and just need to let it go. I have noticed though( it has inspired me to write about certain topics people bring up. One of the most popular? Anything to do with protein. 
Overheard statements: 
“I am trying to lose weight, so I am not eating carbs and I am just eating protein.”
“What kind of protein powder do you use?”
“I do not think vegetarians can get the recommended amount of protein.”
“Soy protein causes thyroid disease, so I would suggest you not eat soy products.”
Just to name a few.
Let’s get the facts straight. 
What role does protein play?
Protein is a very important nutrient in our diet, but eliminating fat and carbohydrates is just darn right foolish. The primary energy sources fueling exercise are carbohydrate and fat, not protein. Protein has a critical role in the health and performance of athletes though. Protein serves as building materials for bone, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and organs. They serve as enzymes that facilitate reactions associated with energy production and fuel utilization, as well as the building and repair of body tissues, especially muscle. They serve as hormones that are involved in energy metabolism. These are just a few important roles protein plays in our body, read a book to learn more. 🙂
Can vegetarians get enough protein?
YES, if done correctly.
The biggest case against vegetarians not getting enough protein is the case of protein quality. Protein quality is determined by both amino acid content and digestibility of the protein. Protein derived from plant foods are approximately 85% digestible versus those of mixed diets of meat and grains that are 95% digestible. Based on these differences, it is recommended that people who eat no flesh or dairy products consume 10% more protein daily (.9 gm/kg body weight per day versus the normal .8 gm/kg). Considering most people who eat a balanced diet eat enough or more than the recommended amount of protein, this can be done. Those who are vegetarian and vegan should be smart about variety in their diet, so that they are not just eating fruits and vegetables. This would cause improper protein intake. The focus should be on eggs, and milk (if lacto-0vo vegetarian) and nuts, legumes, beans, and soy for vegans.
What is the best protein supplement to use? 
I say find one that is less processed and that you can tolerate. I prefer vegan sources of protein products such as Arbonne because it does not cause stomach irritability and all ingredients are natural. Many people are fond of protein powders with casein and whey for the best protein digestibility and utilization, but be careful-some people do not tolerate casein or whey well.
Does soy cause thyroid problems? 
This issue is very controversial, but I would say that it does not, if you are not already susceptible to thyroid disease.
“A recent review of 14 clinical trials with healthy men and women concluded that consuming soyfoods or isoflavones had either no effects or only very modest changes within normal range of thyroid function. Participants in these trials consumed adequate amounts of iodine common in the American diet. In animal studies linking soy or isoflavone consumption to developing goiter, iodine deficiencies were present.”
There are still some groups that believe eating fermented soy products or overly processed soy products are the culprits for thyroid issues. To be safe, consume non-GMO sources of soy and choose more natural sources such as edamame, tempeh, and organic soy milk.
How much protein should you be getting as an athlete?
  • People who regularly engage in endurance activities need dietary  protein intake of .55 to .64 gm/lb body weight per day (1.2-1.4 gm/kg). 
  • People who regularly engage in strength exercise need dietary protein intake of 0.73 to 0.77 g/lb body weight per day (1.6-1.7 gm/kg body weight per day). 
(Per-Sport Nutrition for Health and Performance: Manore, Meyer and Thompson)
That is what I have to say about protein for today. I would suggest if you feel you are having trouble incorporating protein into your diet or need extra help designing a diet plan. Make an appointment with a dietitian. We are here to help.

P.S. This is what I look like when I am at the gym. Amazing, I know. ; )

To a Happy, Healthy, New-U!

Indulge this Valentine’s Day..Without Calories!

For many people, thinking of how they want to celebrate Valentine’s Day usually involves indulging with a dinner out with the hunny at a famous steakhouse, making heart shaped cookies for friends, or even eating a whole box of chocolates on the couch watching Pretty Women (wishing all men were like Richard Gere). For so many of us, when we think of pleasure or indulgence, we immediately think of food. This does not have to be the case.

Here are my top five ways to indulge today without the calories!

1. Get pampered at a salon. 

This is something everyone can do, whether you want to get a couples massage with your significant other, or go get a pedicure on your lunch break. Many of us live busy lifestyles and we begin to neglect our bodies. Taking a day to relax and get pampered is the perfect way to love yourself on this Valentine’s Day.

2. Take a bubble bath. 

My favorite thing to do at the end of a rough day is take a long, hot bubble bath. It is a perfect way to just relax and not think about anything in the world. If you are spending the night with your significant other, think about maybe asking he or she to join you. I bet he or she wouldn’t mind. 🙂

3. Go shopping. 

Okay, this might be only one for the ladies because I do not know many men that like to shop. This is a great way to indulge, because not only will you get some exercise while walking in the mall, but you can also walk out with some killer new heels to wear on your hot date tonight or a night out with the girls.

4. Plan a date that is other than the normal dinner and dessert. 

Be creative this year and plan a night out that is other than dinner and dessert. Possibly make a healthy meal together at home, and then maybe go see a movie, go dancing, or even check out a local concert. You both will still feel great at the end of the date instead of uncomfortably full from eating such a large meal. Trust me, you will want to feel nice and skinny later that night..

5. Call or write anyone you love. 

Many people are so busy with work, school, kids, and just life in general that we do not have the time to just sit and talk or even write a letter to the people we love the most. Take some time out today to reach out to whoever you love whether it is your best friend, mom, or grandma. You will feel great after you do.

Have a great Valentine’s Day! I will be celebrating my love for my friends and family.

To a Happy, Healthy, LOVING New-U! 


Turn Up the Beat for a Healthy Heart

I love exercise. I probably would rather go on a run than watch an amazing movie, but I know for a fact that most people don’t quite feel the same way. Thanks to another one of my loves, people can bear the sweat and tears during their workout by listening to music! Nothing makes a spin class or a run more awesome than listening to great music.

I have developed a workout play list for you that has songs that will make you move just like you are in the club on the weekend, or in your room getting ready for work (I know there is someone out there like me).

WARNING: Not everyone may have my taste in music, so no country music will be on this playlist.

Gabriella’s Workout Playlist 

Stretching/Warm-up: Take Care-Rihanna and Drake (4:37)

1. Turn Me On-David Guetta and Nicki Minaj (3:20)

2. Midnight City-M83 (4:04)

3. The Matrix-Bassnectar (4:25)

4. Lonely Boy-The Black Keys (3:13)

5. Sexy and I Know It-LMFAO (3:19) (I had to!)

6. Get Some-Lykki Li (3:09)

7. Paris-Kanye and Jay-Z (3:39)

8. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites-Skrillex (4:03)

9. Helena Beat-Foster the People (4:36)

10. Alive-Kid Cudi and Ratatat (4:07)

Cool Down/Stretch- Paradise-Coldplay (4:38)

Turn up the beat, and get your heart rate going. The important thing is to do what you can to make exercise fun!

To a Happy, Heart-Healthy New-U!

Fitness and Weight Maintenance BOTH Matter to the Heart

It sounds silly for me to say  that keeping up with a fitness regime and preventing excess weight gain (healthy diet) over time can help protect yourself from cardiovascular disease, but I have met some people that are not sold on the concept. Some people believe that if they maintain a healthy weight and are “skinny”, that they do not need to exercise. A study published Monday proves my statement that a proper diet and exercise regime are both very important to maintain a healthy ticker.

“U.S. researchers found that of more than 3,100 healthy adults they followed, those who improved — or simply maintained — their fitness levels were less likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other well-established heart disease risk factors.” 

Those who maintained a healthy weight overtime also saw less red flags on their doctor checkups than those who gained weight overtime.

These statements do not seem novel, I know, but the purpose of the study is to show that changes in fitness and “fatness” are both equally important on their own for cardiovascular health. 

“In general, people who kept their fitness levels over time seemed to counter some of the ill effects of weight gain. And dips in fitness levels weren’t as bad if a person lost some excess body fat.”

That statement proved to me how the relationship between diet and fitness is more important than most think. It is far more effective to keep a fitness regime as well as eat a healthy diet than just focusing on one or the other. 

What you can take from this study:

-Those who are sedentary, yet have a healthy weight, try to incorporate some type of exercise every week.  The exercise can be light like brisk walking, or taking the stairs everywhere at work.

-Those who exercise often, yet are not seeing changes in weight. Consider seeing a dietitian to assess your diet. There may be certain issues with how you are eating that is preventing weight loss. The dietitian can also suggest the best foods to eat that actually help improve your lipid profile and blood pressure.

-Those who exercise often but are not seeing changes in their endurance. You might want to assess your heart rate and effort in your current exercise routine. I like to tell people, most of your workout you should breathing so hard that you cannot sing a lyric and even sometimes say a full sentence.

To all the rock stars out their maintaining a healthy weight over time and exercising at least 4-5 times a week, keep it up! You will be healthier and happier in the long run.

To a Happy, HEART Healthy, New-U! 

What was on my cup while writing this post. Pretty cute.

** -post based on “Fitness and “fatness” both matter to the heart”