Category: "Convenience Foods"

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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11 ways to fit more veggies into your diet

January 24th, 2014 | no comments

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared with people who consume a diet with small amount of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts reduce their risks of chronic diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The likelihood of having a stroke is also reduced. In most cases, cancer and heart disease are preventable, and eating your fruits and veggies is a small step you can take every day to protect yourself. Aim for three cups of vegetables each day. Try one of these ideas:

  1. Add one cup of baby carrots to your smoothie and blend!
  2. Add two handfuls of spinach or kale to your smoothie and blend!
  3. Toss some peppers, mushrooms and onions into your morning omelet
  4. Eat a side salad with your lunch
  5. Pile your sandwich with spinach, alfalfa sprouts, shaved carrots and tomato slices
  6. Fill half of your dinner plate with two cups of steamed broccoli
  7. Whip up some pureed cauliflower and serve as a side dish
  8. Add extra veggies (chopped green beans, carrots, potatoes) to your soup
  9. Snack on cherry tomatoes and cauliflower florets with hummus or peanut butter dip!
  10. Drink eight ounces of low-sodium V8 juice for a snack
  11. Puree a cooked medium sweet potato and mix into your mac-n-cheese! (I did this the other day for dinner using the recipe below!)

Click here for the Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese recipe!

Nutrition Bonus per serving of Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese: Vitamin A (218% daily value), Calcium (45% dv), Magnesium (31% dv), Vitamin C & Zinc (22% dv), Iron & Potassium (18% dv), Folate (16% dv), B12 (15% dv)


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Why eat fruit every day?

August 23rd, 2013 | no comments

fruitOK, before you say it—“Duh Melanie…this is a no-brainer”let me just say that knowing and doing are two totally different animals. I know you know fruit is good for you, but do you know exactly why? And more importantly, are you eating a couple of pieces every day? If yes…congratulations! If not, you’re missing out on some pretty powerful stuff here!

Fruit is rich in potassium, fiber, folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A). Vitamin C and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants, natural substances in foods that clean up free radicals in your body. We all have free radicals floating around inside our bodies. They are formed as a byproduct of reactions in your cells and also come from cigarette smoke, air pollution and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. In toxic amounts, they cause damage to your body, loss of brain function over time and are believed to be a main contributor to heart disease, certain cancers and Parkinson’s disease. So it’s important to get rid of as many of them as possible. Your body does a pretty good job, but it can’t remove them all. That’s why you need to eat fruits and vegetables every day. Berries have the highest antioxidant power of any fruit, so choose them whenever possible.

How much?

Two cups of fresh or frozen fruit each day is what you should be shooting for. Dried fruit is OK too, but keep in mind that the portion size is smaller due to its higher sugar content and extra calories. One half cup of dried fruit is equivalent to one cup of fresh or frozen.

BEWARE! Banana chips (although yummy indeed!) don’t count as a fruit serving. They are typically deep-fried and coated in sugar or honey, packing a whopping 10 grams of fat (9 saturated) per half-cup serving. Eat a regular banana instead for 0 grams of fat.

5 easy ways to get your fruit!

  1. Make your own trail mix with your favorite dried fruit, nuts and cereal. Figs, apricots, raisins and prunes have the most potassium. Just keep your portions small.
  2. Top your morning bowl of oatmeal with fresh blueberries, blackberries, strawberries or raspberries! Heck, if I have all four on hand, I add a spoonful of each to my oatmeal!
  3. Eat a small banana with a smear of peanut butter for a snack.
  4. Blend your favorite frozen fruit with some plain Greek yogurt and a splash of milk for a refreshing breakfast smoothie! I’ve been adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to mine for extra fiber and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
  5. Pack a container of no-sugar-added applesauce in your lunch!

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5 Quick & Healthy Breakfast-To-Go Ideas

June 6th, 2013 | no comments

If you aren’t a breakfast eater and find that you aren’t hungry in the morning, that’s OK—eat something anyway. You’ve trained yourself to not be hungry and the only way to undo this is by eating. Your body likes consistency and loves to be fed, especially after an eight-hour sleeping fast! This is important on so many levels—especially weight control. If you’re struggling to lose weight and subscribe to the mentality that skipping meals saves calories and therefore aids in weight loss…you are dead wrong! In fact, skipping meals is the quickest way to hold on to excess fat.

Burn fat and feel energized by trying one of these quick and healthy Breakfast-To-Go ideas:

  1. ½ whole grain bagel topped with 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter (Smucker’s) + 1 extra small sliced banana + ½ Tablespoon milled flaxseed
  2. 1/2 cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt topped with 1/4 cup fresh blackberries + 2 Tablespoons of unsalted almonds. Drizzle with a touch of honey!
  3. 1 hard-boiled egg + 13 ‘Mary’s Gone Crackers‘ crackers + 1 small apple
  4. 1 Kashi Honey Almond Flax bar + 1 small cluster of grapes
  5. Homemade trail mix: 1/2 cup of whole grain cereal (Cheerios, Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls) + 2 Tablespoons raisins + 1/8 cup lightly salted peanuts

Remember…if you aren’t hungry in the morning, it’s because you’ve trained yourself to NOT feel hungry. So go ahead and jump on the breakfast bandwagon and jump start your metabolism!

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Sugar Shock!

May 17th, 2013 | no comments

Sugar, sugar everywhere! See just how much is in your favorite foods, along with healthier alternatives!


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I’m angry…and you should be too!

March 11th, 2013 | no comments

angryImagine your significant other, parent, friend, co-worker, boss, or a complete stranger, spending countless hours masterminding the most devious of schemes. The goal? To hypnotize you under their control. The stronger their hold, the more difficult it becomes to break away. They lie (very convincingly), leading you to believe they really care about you…and you in fact believe them because you are completely unaware of their manipulative powers. You become brainwashed. You find that you can’t live without them and become addicted to their power—addicted to them.

No one—and I mean NO ONE— likes to be manipulated. The only thing worse is being manipulated your entire life and not even realizing it. No…I take that back. There is something worse. Being manipulated your entire life and then blaming yourself for the person you’ve become.

Am I ruffling your feathers a bit? Are you hot and bothered at the mere thought of another person making it their life’s mission to dominate your mind and body…to literally wreck your well-being?

Are you angry? You should be. I am. In fact, I am furious!

The scenario I just painted is real my friends. You are being manipulated…by food.

I’m not talking apples, oatmeal and carrots here. I’m talking ooey-gooey, cheesy, salty, sugary, fried, flaky, crunchy, chocolatey processed foods. Foods coming not from the earth, but from a factory.

Did you know that food makers spend millions of dollars concocting specially formulated recipes that will stimulate your brain to want more and more of the yielded food? The main ingredients? Fat, sugar and salt. There’s even a name for the end result that is responsible for creating this out-of-control, eat-till-it’s-gone-and-you-feel-like-a-pig behavior. It’s called the “Bliss Point.” That precise point at which you derive the greatest pleasure from fat, sugar and salt. In other words, it’s that point which creates the greatest amount of CRAVE.

Are you angry? You should be.

Are you angry at yourself? Stop it! Stop blaming yourself for getting “drunk” on potato chips, doughnuts and chocolate chip cookies. This unstoppable force isn’t born out of a lack of willpower or self-control…it’s the food.

Real food (i.e. food from the earth/one-ingredient foods) doesn’t perpetuate binge-related behavior. It satisfies. It nourishes. It pleases the body, mind and soul. It eases (not causes) disease.

Be aware. Be angry, then proactive. Take control…because it’s YOUR body. I’m not suggesting you swear off your most treasured delectable treats. Just be aware and take caution. Know what they do to your brain and create a plan for portion-control.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and let anyone or anything (insert processed food here) control my health…unless it’s me. I’m worth more than that. YOU are worth more than that.

Are you angry? You should be.

Now go do something about it.

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Takin’ a trip? Snack on this!

July 24th, 2012 | no comments


You don’t have to fall off the “station wagon” of healthy eating just because you’re on vacation! Make it a point to stay on track— which also means fitting in your most treasured “Soul Food.”

Here is a list of healthy foods to pack for the road that you can feel good about!


-Bottled water
-Crackers: Triscuits, Kashi or Wheat Thins
-Fruit: apples, grapes, oranges, cherries, peaches, bananas, pears
-Greek yogurt cups*
-Hard-boiled eggs*
-Kashi granola bars
-Low sodium V8 juice
-Low sodium lite tuna (3 oz. cans)
-Peanut butter/almond butter sandwiches on whole wheat
-Raw veggies: baby carrots, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, sugar snap peas, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes
-String cheese*
-Unsalted nuts and seeds: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
                                                          *Requires cooler and ice packs

Leave the cookies, candies, juice boxes and Cheetos at home, otherwise you know what will happen:

            Boredom + Time + Travel = SNACKING + SNACKING + MORE SNACKING!

Better to snack on good-for-you foods that will nourish and energize your body. Happy travels!

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Are your cold cuts nitrite-free?

July 2nd, 2012 | no comments

From Boston to Beverly Hills, the beloved lunchmeat sandwich has graced the interior of lunchboxes and picnic baskets for decades. I can remember as a child, my mother would send me off to school with my little Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox filled with a bologna, cheese and mustard sandwich on Wonder Bread (what else?), a package of Ho-Ho’s (what was she thinking?!) and a perfectly sectioned orange. Although that was thirty years ago, cold cut sandwiches (and unfortunately Ho-Ho’s) are still mainstays. Sure they’re convenient…but are they the best choice? I’m afraid not.

Not only is it next to impossible to find a low sodium lunchmeat (some have upwards of 1000 milligrams per serving), in addition, many contain harmful substances— specifically sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites. Both are used as preservatives and add color and flavor to processed meats such as: Bacon, ham, hotdogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish and corned beef.

Why exactly are they so harmful?

Sodium nitrites and nitrates may cause certain cancers in children and adults. A more recent study uncovered the possibility that these preservatives could interact with medication to damage DNA (your genetic material) and increase cancer risk.

According to Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Martha Grogan, M.D., sodium nitrate may harm your heart. It’s thought that sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease. Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes.

Build a better sandwich:

  • Tuna salad: Mix together a 3 ounce can of low sodium light tuna, olive oil mayonnaise and black beans. Serve on whole grain bread
  • Egg salad: Mash 1 hard-boiled egg and mix with olive oil mayonnaise and 1/4 cup chopped red pepper. Serve on whole grain bread or whole wheat crackers.
  • Leftover chicken: Slice up 2-3 ounces of baked chicken from yesterday’s dinner and top with a couple slices of avocado, fresh spinach and hummus. Serve in a whole wheat pita.
  • Hummus and veggies: Line a whole what pita with two tablespoons of your favorite hummus. Stuff with sliced cucumbers, bell pepper strips and tomatoes, shaved carrots, alfalfa sprouts and a handful of mesclun salad greens.

On your next grocery trip, why not bypass the deli counter and head for the produce and fresh meat department instead? Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a dozen eggs on your way. Get creative! Be healthy! YOU are worth it.

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A simple solution to poor food choices

January 30th, 2012 | no comments

Cinnabons, oversized muffins and cookies, ice cream, pizza. Been to the airport lately? That’s exactly what you’ll find! Sure in the midst of unhealthy airport food, you’ll find the occasional over-priced fruit cup and predominantly iceberg lettuce-salad, but how often are you choosing one of those options? Skies aren’t any bluer once you board that flight either. In fact, now you’re like a prisoner trapped in a cell, waiting for the guard to bring you lunch. What’s on the menu today? More iceberg lettuce (with a cherry tomato if you’re lucky)?

 STOP! It’s time to reclaim control and quit being the victim! Let’s face it, whether you’re at the airport or in your car, when hunger strikes you’re at the mercy of the nearest fast food restaurant or food stand. Not anymore! Introducing the “Feed Bag”.

 Years ago I was packing my abnormally large lunch bag for work as I did every day, when my husband caught a glimpse of the contents: “That’s quite the Feed Bag you’ve got there Mel!” 

 You see, my bag was full of the traditional lunch fare—sandwich, apple and yogurt—but I certainly couldn’t neglect my mid-morning, afternoon and post-workout snack could I? My lunch bag became more than a lunch bag…it became my “Feed Bag”—a home for approximately a half-day’s worth of food. If I didn’t pack it, I’d be tempted to raid the office candy jar or zip through the nearest drive-thru window on the way to the gym. This way, I held the cards. I was in control!

 What’s in my “Feed Bag?” Glad you asked! First, I always think “Food Groups” and then pack something to fulfill each one:

  • Fruit: Apple, banana, pear, or grapes
  • Vegetable: A 3-cup food container full of raw veggies (cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, sliced cucumbers, etc.) or a can of low-sodium V8 Juice.
  • Milk: Cheese stick or Greek yogurt cup
  • Grain: A handful of Triscuit crackers, slice of whole grain bread or Kashi bar
  • Meat/Meat Substitute: Veggie burger patty (I like Morningstar), edamame, or hard-boiled egg
  • Healthy Fat: Small container of walnuts, peanuts or almonds

Just think, in less than 10-minutes you can set yourself up for a day full of more energy, better nutrition and a healthier body in the long run. So…what will you pack in your “Feed Bag” today?




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What’s the beef with cold cuts?

September 14th, 2011 | no comments

Cold Cuts

OK, let’s be honest- as a busy adult facing the demands of a full time job or college (or both), when it comes to grabbing a quick lunch or dinner, sooner or later you will be faced with sub-sandwiches piled high with cold cuts like salami, ham, and turkey.

Processed meats are those that are salted, smoked, cured or preserved with nitrates. They typically contain lots of salt and fat too and include hot dogs, sausage, salami, ham, bacon, deli cold cuts, pepperoni and other cured meats. Before you order that Spicy Italian sub from Subway, you might want to digest the following facts about processed meats:

  • According to a 2010 news release from the National Cancer Institute, researchers found an increased risk between eating high amounts of processed red meats and bladder cancer
  • Eating processed meats can raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes ( Source: Harvard School of Public Health: May 2010 study appearing in the journal “Circulation”)
  • Two ounces of processed meat can have as much as 700 mg of sodium! Remember, the recommendations are less than 2300 mg of sodium per day.

What should you do?

It’s OK to eat a lunch meat sandwich once in awhile, but be smart and choose fresh meat subs most often. You can find fresh meat subs (like the Oven Roasted Chicken sub) at sandwich shops like Subway, or save money and make your own using leftovers from last night’s turkey dinner! Here’s a good idea— be adventurous and try a meatless sandwich for a change of pace!


Make it an energizing day!



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