Why you may be struggling with your weight

June 6th, 2014 | no comments

Have you tried and tried (and tried again) to control your weight but always wind up right back where you started? You start out following the meal plan down to the very last detail. You’re even exercising more than ever before. A couple of weeks go by and you notice that the excitement and motivation have fizzled out. Slowly you return back to your more “comfortable” lifestyle and go back to practicing the habits that are keeping you stuck (i.e. snacking a little too much; not making time for exercise; saying “what the hell…give me another glass of wine.”) 

So what’s the deal?

Is it that you aren’t motivated enough?


Is it that you just haven’t found the right meal plan?

I doubt it!

Is it that you are genetically screwed and destined to be out of shape for the rest of your life?

Nope…that’s not it either (even though I know many of you feel this way!)

Click on the video below to discover the real reason why you may be struggling to control your weight:

If you loved this week’s Food for Thought and think it can help someone else get unstuck and on the road to a healthier body… please share it!

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The biggest lie we tell ourselves

May 31st, 2014 | no comments

We tell ourselves this lie so often that we’re actually starting to believe it! Trust me, I’ve used this excuse myself…plenty of times!

Look, I know it’s not always easy to make yourself a priority— especially if you’re holding down a full-time job AND raising a family. BUT…that’s precisely the reason why you should prioritize YOU. It all goes back to the flight attendant’s message upon takeoff “be sure to secure your own mask before assisting others.” If you are not well, how do you expect to bring all of you to your family?

Are you lying to yourself? Watch my latest video to find out!

3 Quick & Healthy Breakfast Plans

Good Greens Smoothie

8 oz. plain skim, soy or almond milk

1 Tbsp. natural unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/2 scoop RAW protein powder or 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 of a ripe yet firm avocado
1 big handful of kale or spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries
Add milk, cocoa, chia seeds and protein powder to blender and blend. Add rest of ingredients and blend until smooth!

Peanut Butter & Banana Toast

2 slices Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread

1 Tbsp. natural peanut or almond butter (ingredients list should show only nuts and maybe salt)
1 large banana, sliced into coins
Toast bread and spread with nut butter. Top with banana coins.

Apple Pie Oatmeal Bowl

1/2 cup dry oats

6-8 oz. water (for thinner consistency, use more water)
1 small apple, diced with skins on
2 Tbsp. chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans
Dash cinnamon
Add oats, water and apple to microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 90 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir in nuts. Sprinkle with dash of cinnamon.

Tip: If you eat breakfast at work, assemble all ingredients in a ziplock bag then just dump in a bowl and microwave when you get there!

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Should you drink juice?

May 17th, 2014 | no comments

This is a question I get asked quite often. If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, you know my motto is: No Food Is Forbidden. I stand by this statement and live it every day of my life. It helps support a healthy life-balance and gives me the freedom to choose. It puts the ball in my court. So juice-drinkers, breathe a sigh of relief—I’m not going to suggest you give it up. Not even for a second! (-;

But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) there’s something you may not have considered about your favorite fruity beverage. While it’s true that 100% juice comes from fruit, contains no added sugar and offers up plenty of vitamin C, because it’s stripped of dietary fiber, juice does very little to count towards the f-factor of a meal. The f-factor is a term I use to describe a food’s ability to take hunger away for an extended period of time. This means if you drink a 16-ounce glass of apple juice with dinner, you’re downing about 240 calories and eating just as much food as you would’ve had you drank no juice. Why? Because liquid calories (as yummy as they are) do not satisfy like solid calories, so you won’t compensate by eating any less. Bummer!

Here’s what to do:

Think of the caloric-equivalent of that 16-ounce glass of juice and picture it as solid food sitting on your plate. For example, let’s say you’re sitting down to a dinner of grilled pork chops, seasoned rice and grilled veggies. The juice has about the same amount of calories as a 3-ounce pork chop. So it’s just like putting another pork chop on your plate! After this consideration, if you still decide to drink the juice, try shrinking the portion to make it fit. I recommend capping juice at four ounces a day. You still get to enjoy the deliciousness but with much less impact!

If you decide that it’s really not worth it, how about having a piece of fruit with that meal instead? Because it has a generous amount of dietary fiber, whole fruit (especially fruit eaten with the skin on, like apples and pears) really helps put a dent in the f-factor of the meal. Eat a sliced apple with the pork chop dinner and I guarantee you will feel the difference (and probably leave some food on your plate!)

Bottom Line: Liquid calories do not satisfy like solid ones. If you decide you can’t live without it, 100% juice can fit into a healthy meal plan! Just pay attention to portion size and you will be fine!

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Take the 14-Day Healthy YOU Challenge!

April 26th, 2014 | no comments

Are YOU Ready to Build the Healthy Body YOU Were Meant to Live In?

Friends, I am so over-the-moon excited to offer you my FREE gift of the 14-Day Healthy YOU Challenge.

So why am I doing this and what’s the catch? Have you ever felt an overpowering, strong sense that you had to do something, but you didn’t know why? You’re just sort of being “called” to do it? Well that’s how I’ve been feeling for a while now. I’ve been wanting to do something to help people take the confusion out of healthy eating and help them make healthier food choices–but to do it in a way where I am with them every step of the way (I’m a little selfish like that 😉 )

What’s the catch? I only want you to join if you are really serious about committing to yourself and your healthfor the fourteen days. I’m not asking you to be perfect (in fact, I highly discourage perfection), I’m asking you to be committed to YOU. That’s all.

What is the Challenge and what can I expect?

The 14- Day Healthy YOU Challenge is my way of helping you get a jump-start on a healthier life. Let’s face it—sometimes we can have the best intentions to eat better and exercise, but intention without action is worthless! You’ll never see results that way! I always like to say that intention without action is like filling your refrigerator with fruits and vegetables, yet eating Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s instead 😉

Over the fourteen days, I will challenge you to think about your body and food choices differently than you ever have before. Of course I’m also going to challenge you to eat—but eat in a way that will both fuel and energize your body without feeling deprived. Make no mistake—this is NOT a diet. It’s NOT a crazy detox cleanse. It’s simply a way to pull you out of the rut you’ve been stuck in for however long you’ve been stuck!

How does it work?

Each day you will receive one inspirational email from me full of everything you need to be successful, including:

  • A daily audio message (yes, you get to hear my voice every morning while you sip on your coffee! Yippee!)
  • Meal plans
  • Grocery lists
  • Tracking sheets
  • Food charts and more!

But don’t worry—you won’t feel overwhelmed. You will receive each of these gifts when it’s time to receive them.

When can I sign up Melanie??!!

The 14-Day Healthy YOU Challenge opens on Monday, May 5th (Cinco de Mayo!!!) You will receive an email invitation from me on May 5th at 5:00 a.m.

I simply cannot wait (in fact, I am ants-in-my-pants excited) to help you build the beautiful and healthy body YOU were meant to live in. Stay tuned friends!!

PS: If you are inspired by the 14-Day Healthy YOU Challenge and want that feeling to spread like wildfire…share it with those you love!

Much health and love,



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10 Blood Pressure-Lowering Tips

April 19th, 2014 | no comments


High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects 1 in 3 adults and is the most common cardiovascular disease.

Blood pressure actually refers to the force of your blood on your artery walls as it makes its way through your body. Just like too much air pressure damages a tire, if your blood pressure is too high, it can threaten the health of your arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

High blood pressure carries no symptoms. In fact, hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because it shows no early signs. The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to routinely have your blood pressure checked.

Here are ten steps you can take today to lower your blood pressure:

  1. Be informed! If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, make an appointment with your doctor.
    HINT: Aim for a blood pressure reading of below 120/80 mmHg
  2. Avoid the salt shaker. Herbs, salt-free spices, lemon juice, vinegar and salt substitutes can all be used in place of table salt to flavor your food without adding sodium.
    HINT: Salt substitutes labeled “sodium-free” most likely contain potassium chloride and contain no sodium. These substitutes may not be for everyone and can actually be dangerous for some people. If you have kidney problems or are on medication for your heart, kidneys or liver, it’s best to check with your doctor before using salt substitutes with potassium.
  3. Read it before you eat it! Read food labels for sodium and choose the lower sodium option of soups, snack foods and other processed foods.
    HINT: 140 mg of sodium or less per serving is considered “low sodium”
  4. Eat your fruits and veggies! They’re loaded with potassium, magnesium and fiber, which helps “blunt” the effects of sodium on your blood pressure.
    HINT: Bananas, broccoli, pinto beans and potatoes are all considered good sources of potassium!
  5. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned.
    HINT: Frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh. Just make sure they’re not covered in cheese sauce!
  6. Rinse. If you eat canned foods like beans, vegetables, or olives, rinse them under cold water in a strainer to remove some of the sodium.
    HINT: Rinsing removes up to 30% of the sodium.
  7. Get fresh. Eat less processed meats like deli meats, hot dogs and sausage and choose more fresh meats like chicken and fish.
    HINT: At Subway, aim for the 6″ Oven Roasted Chicken sub instead of the Cold Cut Combo and save 420 mg of sodium.
  8. Kick the habit. Smoking increases blood pressure, heart rate and blood clotting and decreases oxygen delivery to your heart. If you smoke cigarettes and have been thinking about quitting, ask for help! Remember, you are not alone.
    HINT: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers tons of support to quit smoking, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
  9. Chill out. Make time each morning to practice relaxation techniques. Five minutes is all it takes!
    HINT: I’m currently taking the “Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenge.” Check it out for free at: www.chopracentermeditation.com
  10. Get moving! Aerobic exercise reduces blood pressure in both hypertensive and non-hypertensive people, so there really is no good excuse to skip out on it. Find ways to sneak more movement into your day…you’re worth it!
    HINT: The recommendation is 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week…BUT you don’t have to do it all at one time. Three 10-minute sessions works just as well.

Make it happen! If you have high blood pressure (or want to prevent high blood pressure)- choose one tip from above to put into practice today and the rest of the week. You. Are. Worth. It.

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An Easter I Will NEVER Forget

April 12th, 2014 | no comments

Easter 1998 stands out for one reason—I was miserable. The first Easter with the man of my dreams and I wasn’t floating on a cloud? Let me explain. Wayne (my then-boyfriend-now-husband) made me a beautiful Easter basket to celebrate the occasion. I can still picture it vividly in my mind—an oversized brown wicker basket filled with green Easter grass. In the middle sat a solid milk chocolate bunny surrounded by Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs, jellybeans, purple marshmallow Peeps and Cadbury eggs. As if that wasn’t “Willie Wonka” enough, he managed to spiral a two-foot pink and yellow marshmallow rope around the handle of the basket. The gift of that Easter basket (as deliciously special as it was) was like wrapping up a bottle of whiskey and giving it to an alcoholic for Christmas. Poor Wayne…he didn’t know. In fact no one knew…that I was battling binge eating disorder and sugar was my “drug” of choice.

I can remember disappearing up to my bedroom several times throughout the day to sneak some candy. A couple of peanut butter eggs here, a few handfuls of jellybeans there. After about three trips, Wayne finally asked: “Mel…why do you keep going upstairs?” Of course I couldn’t tell him the real reason—that I was devouring my Easter basket like a pack of starving raccoons feasting on a post-picnic garbage can! I mean, how could I tell this wonderful guy that I am a junk food junkie in the middle of a completely out-of-control-sugar binge? Instead, I did what any woman would do when she’s trying to impress the man of her dreams…I told him my stomach was bothering me and I had to use the bathroom. Imagine me preferring that this devastatingly handsome guy picture me on the toilet rather than eating a Reese’s peanut butter egg! That’s how ashamed I was.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to know that no matter how out-of-control your eating habits are, there is hope. No matter how stuck in an unhealthy rut you are, there is hope. No matter how hopeless you feel, there is hope. And it starts by recognizing the almost magical power of your body to CRAVE what it is being fed. Put another way—what you feed your body most, it will crave.

When I ate nothing but crap, I craved nothing but crap! It wasn’t until I said a big SCREW YOU to the diet industry and their evil way of making me feel like a failure when I ate a piece of damn chocolate, that I was free. Free to choose a healthier life. Free to feed my body nutritious foods and yes…a little chocolate. Free to give my body the chance to CRAVE healthy food.

No matter what mile-marker you’re at on your road to a healthier body, you must understand that you absolutely have the power to crave healthy food. There’s only one rule—you must start eating healthy food.

Make It Happen:
Take out a piece of paper and write down all of the foods you crave on a daily basis. When your list is complete, study it. What foods are missing? Are there any veggies or fruits on your list? How about water? Think about all of the foods you would love to start craving. How can you begin to build them into your meal plan? Maybe you pack an apple in your lunch instead of visiting the vending machine for your daily potato chip-fix. Maybe you choose a nice hot cup of green tea instead of your usual morning sugar-bombed coffee drink. Choose one food to begin craving and find a way to feed it to your body today, tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that and……

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How to Make Smart Smoothies

April 7th, 2014 | no comments

Smoothies are my all-time favorite way to pack tons of nutrition into one meal. Think about it– how likely are you to sit down with a fork and eat a breakfast of kale, carrots, blueberries and peanut butter and then wash it down with a glass of milk? That’s what I thought! If you’re like most human beings walking the planet, you are crazy-busy and barely have time to squeeze in a shower before running out of the house in the morning. Imagine blending nutritious and delicious foods together and drinking them on your way to work! That’s what I call the best of both worlds– nutrition and convenience wrapped up into one! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive about the best ingredients for a healthy smoothie:

  1. Best liquid base: Milk or juice?
    I vote for milk! Whether it’s skim, soy or almond milk, you’re going to get a healthy dose of bone-building calcium and vitamin D– two nutrients often lacking in the typical American diet.
  2. Best protein source: Protein powder or yogurt?
    Protein powder– but ONLY if it contains no artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose (Splenda). My favorite brand of protein powder is RAW Protein. RAW offers up 17 grams of protein per scoop PLUS 100% of your vitamin D needs, 3 grams of dietary fiber and probiotics (“good bacteria” that keep your gastrointestinal tract nice and healthy). Can’t find a protein powder without artificial sweeteners? Use plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. A couple of heaping spoonfuls should do the trick!
  3. Best sweetener: Agave nectar, sugar, no-calorie sweetener, juice or frozen fruit?
    Go for the frozen fruit…especially berries! Not only does it make for a thicker smoothie, it also serves up a good dose of antioxidants– natural chemicals found in fruits and vegetables that help protect your body against diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  4. Best fiber source: Chia seeds, flaxseeds or oats?
    Ch Ch Ch Chia seeds win here. Per tablespoon, chia seeds have 5 grams of dietary fiber and contain a significant amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Enough said!
  5. True or False? Peanut butter has too many calories and fat grams and should not be added to your smoothie if you’re trying to watch your weight.
    That’s a big fat FALSE! Healthy dietary fat (found in nuts, nut butters, avocados and olive oil) serves a very important function– it helps to keep you full! Is it calorie-rich? Sure…but a small portion (1/2 tablespoon) is all you really need to reap the filling rewards. Trust me on this one! If I neglect to add peanut butter to my smoothie, my hunger most definitely returns much sooner…which means I’m usually digging around in the refrigerator for something else to eat! In the end you wind up eating less when you add small amounts of healthy fat to your meals.

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Plan Healthy Meals in 3 Easy Steps!

March 29th, 2014 | no comments

If you want to get healthy, the best place to start is with your plate! You won’t even believe how easy this is. Here is a simple 3-step process to build healthy meals (you’ll actually want to eat) with nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and Good-4-YOU Fats. In my Healthy YOU program, I walk you through this step-by-step process in greater detail, but for now, here’s what you need to know about healthy meal planning in a flash!

Step One: Choose 2-4 Servings of Good-4-YOU Carbs

They serve as the base of your meal, providing you with the energy you need to get through your day. They also contribute a load of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants-so don’t be shy! Load your plate with two to four servings of fruits, vegetables, beans, low-fat milk/yogurt or whole grains. Each icon above counts as one serving of Good-4-YOU Carbs.

Portion sizes:
1/2 cup cooked grain; 1 cup fruit or veggies; 8 ounces of milk or yogurt; 1/2 cup of beans

Step Two: Add 1-3 ounces of Good-4-YOU Protein

Choose from fish, poultry, lean beef or pork or go meatless with eggs, beans, soy (tofu, veggie burgers), nuts, nut butter, low-fat cottage cheese or reduced fat hard cheese. The icon above counts as one ounce of Good-4-YOU Protein.

Portion sizes: One ounce equals: 1 egg; 1/4 cup cottage cheese; 1/8 cup of nuts; 1 Tbsp peanut/almond butter; 1/4 cup beans; Three ounce portion of meat = size of deck of cards

Step Three: Round out your meal with 1-2 Servings of Good-4-YOU Fat

Whether it comes from the extra-virgin olive oil you use to stir-fry your veggies, the oil and vinegar you dress your salad with or the dab of peanut butter you smear on your whole-wheat toast, Good-4-YOU Fat is essential to help you feel satisfied. Keep in mind, if you’re eating a meal with cheese, fatty cuts of meat or other fats added during the cooking process (butter or high-fat dairy products like cream, 2% or whole milk), there’s no need to add extra fat. Remember, to build a healthy body, it’s best to choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products and add your own Good-4-YOU Fat during cooking or seasoning. This way you have control over what and how much fat you use. The icon above counts as one serving of Good-4-YOU Fat.

Portion sizes: 1 Tbsp. oil; 2 Tbsp salad dressing; 1/8 cup nuts; 1 Tbsp nut butter; 1/2 medium avocado or 1/4 cup guacamole.

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How much sugar is too much?

March 16th, 2014 | no comments

New draft guidelines from the World Health Organization propose that we slash our daily added sugar intake to less than 5% of our total calories. The average American consumes approximately 15% of their daily calories from added sugars, so we definitely have some work to do!

You don’t have to have a PhD in nutrition to know that eating too much sugar is unhealthy. Sure it threatens your dental health and can pile on unwanted pounds, but did you know that (according to a recent study) consuming too much added sugar also increases your risk of death from heart disease? Other research has tied a high intake of added sugars, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

I can hear you now “OK Melanie, enough of the science and mumbo jumbo! Tell us what “less than 5% of our total calories” from sugar looks like in the real world. You know…for us normal, non-dietitian people who don’t eat, breathe and sleep nutrition!” I just read your mind didn’t I? 😉

It equals out to no more than: 6 teaspoons of added sugar (25 grams) per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar for men.

Sugar grams can be easily found on any food label under Total Carbohydrate. As you scan more and more labels, you will quickly learn that added sugar is found in the most unlikely foods. For example:

  • Ketchup (1 tablespoon) = 4 grams of sugar
  • Marinara sauce (1/2 cup) = 8 grams of sugar
  • Barbecue sauce (1 tablespoon) = 6 grams of sugar
  • Quaker Peanut Butter Granola Bar = 10 grams of sugar
  • Whole wheat bread (1 slice) = 4 grams of sugar
  • Chobani Honey Greek Yogurt (6 oz) = 9 grams of sugar
  • Gatorade (32 oz) = 56 grams of sugar (YIKES!!!!)

Important NOTE: Natural sugar from fruit and milk are just that…natural! So when you spot “Sugar: 13 grams” on the nutrition facts label of a gallon of milk…don’t freak out! It’s actually natural milk sugar and does not pose the risks of added sugar. Unfortunately, current label laws do not require added sugars to be separated from natural sugars, so things can get confusing (even for us dietitians!) The good news is that proposed label changes are in the works to add a line for “added sugars.”

The bottom line: I don’t recommend removing all added sugar from your diet for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s next to impossible and 2. It’s NO FUN! I mean…what’s life without chocolate?! Instead, educate yourself by learning to read labels and become more aware of the sources of sugar in your everyday life. Then take steps to gradually reduce it and choose products with less sugar. For example, I refuse to give up strawberry jam. So rather than purchase a jar from the store (which contains more sugar than strawberries), I make my own jam in less than 15 minutes. Here’s the recipe I use:

Still Sweet Strawberry Jam
(Serving size: 1 tablespoon; Servings per recipe: 28)

1 quart hulled strawberries or other fresh fruit
1/4 cup sugar (most recipes call for 1-2 cups of sugar!)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a food processor, process strawberries until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large skillet and stir in sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium-high, stirring frequently, until jam is thickened and bubbles completely cover surface, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer jam to a jar and let cool to room temperature. (To store, seal jar and refrigerate, up to 10 days).

Added sugar per tablespoon: 2 grams (Yayyyy!)

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A 2-Step Plan to Defeat Your 2:00 Slump!

March 7th, 2014 | no comments


It’s 2:00 in the afternoon, you’re sitting at your desk and it feels like someone just attached a vacuum hose to the top of your head and sucked the energy right out of your body. You still have three more hours until quitting time and you can’t seem to get with it! Coffee doesn’t work, neither does candy or soda. Does this sound familiar? It’s 2:00 slump time! Follow my simple two-step plan below and no longer will you be the victim of an unfocused brain, heavy eyes and slouched shoulders. Bring on the energy!

Step One:  Move Your Body

When you move your body, your heart pumps more blood more efficiently. One major function of your blood is to deliver oxygen to all parts of your body—most notably your brain! When your brain receives oxygen, you feel more awake, alert and energized! Who couldn’t use that at 2:00?

Try this experiment right before you experience your slump: Stand up, push your chair in and march in place to the count of 20. That’s it! This simple step will literally nourish your brain with oxygen! To experience real results, get in the habit of moving your body like this everyday and you will feel a noticeable spark in your energy level.

Step Two:  Feed Your Body

Be sure that your lunch is a well balanced one. One built upon carbohydrates alone will surely make you feel sleepy by 2:00. Although carbohydrates are a necessary piece of the balanced diet puzzle, they digest rather quickly. Healthy carbohydrate-rich foods include: whole grain bread, crackers and pasta, brown rice, popcorn, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and beans (black beans, pinto beans, lentils, etc.) Combining carbohydrate-rich foods with a little bit of lean protein and healthy fat will do wonders for your energy level.

Here’s a quick, healthy, energy-packed lunch that is sure to keep you on your toes until quitting time.

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad:

3 cups fresh spinach (washed)
3 strawberries, sliced
¼ cup blueberries
¼ cup cannellini beans, drained
1 Tablespoon sliced almonds
¼ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
3 ounces water-packed canned light tuna, drained
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
1 small whole wheat pita (4” diameter)

Toss spinach, strawberries, blueberries, beans, and almonds together. Top with mozzarella cheese and tuna. Drizzle salad dressing on top and serve with pita on the side.

Nutrition Facts:  Calories-475, Carbohydrates-41 grams, Protein-39 grams, Fat-18 grams, Fiber-10 grams

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