Office Lunch Club: Salad

September 19th, 2017 Posted by Advice 0 thoughts on “Office Lunch Club: Salad”

Lunch can be one of the biggest challenges to maintaining a nourishing lifestyle at work. Bringing your lunch from home is probably the wisest choice, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t always happen. This is the perfect opportunity to set up some structure around lunchtime by including your coworkers.

6 Water Bottles You’ll Want on Your Desk

September 18th, 2017 Posted by Lifestyle 0 thoughts on “6 Water Bottles You’ll Want on Your Desk”

Maintaining good hydration may be as simple as trading in your plastic water bottle for something a bit more inspiring. Take a peek at these beauties to see it they might just do the tricks

What’s Going on in Wellness: August 2017

September 17th, 2017 Posted by Advice 0 thoughts on “What’s Going on in Wellness: August 2017”

This month: Hydration is key during the summer, and the Environmental Working Group has your tap water questions covered. We’re also defining “natural flavors” and “plant based diets”, finding old axioms on weight loss to still be true, and the conversation continues about coconut oil.

5 No-Kill Desk Plants

September 6th, 2017 Posted by Lifestyle 0 thoughts on “5 No-Kill Desk Plants”

A little green life on your desk can really help brighten your day – and you don’t have to take our word for it. Recent research has found that offices with plants make staff happier and more productive than ‘lean’ designs stripped of greenery. And it’s not just aesthetics. Through a process called photoremediation, plants can mitigate indoor pollution.

Workout Nutrition: Pre-Workout Snack

June 21st, 2017 Posted by Nutrition 0 thoughts on “Workout Nutrition: Pre-Workout Snack”

As you may know, I’m a big fan of keeping your energy level and blood sugar stable all day long. I encourage people to do this by eating balanced meals and snacks and by not going too long without food. Somewhere during this conversation with my clients, I always get asked “how do I eat around my workout schedule?”

What Works: April 2016

April 1st, 2016 Posted by Drew Approved 0 thoughts on “What Works: April 2016”

What works: April 2016

7 THINGS THAT WORK THIS MONTH:

  1. 5 Kitchen Must-Haves // Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Joe asked this question: “what are five things in your kitchen you’d never be without?” I found this question both fun and perplexing – I had no problem coming up with my kitchen must-haves, but felt tortured to narrow my list to only five. I ended up with: eggs, butter, navy beans, parsley, and hot sauce. What would be on your list? [A Cup of Joe]
  2. Spring Vegetable Tart // I made this asparagus and goat cheese tart/quiche for an Easter brunch and it was a hit. It would be the perfect thing to make on a weekend and eat a slice for breakfast each day of the week. If you’re looking for a good quiche crust recipe, I like this one from Urban Poser. [Bon Appetit]
  3. Helping Others Change Habits // It’s great that you want to help others develop more sustainable habits, but are you making a classic mistake? There’s one damning phrase that we tend to say when we’re trying to push our own habits and personalities on someone else. [Gretchen Rubin]
  4. Smoothies // So many of my clients find themselves subconsciously avoiding their beloved morning smoothies during the winter because it’s just too cold. With the onset of spring and sunnier mornings, I’ve found myself embracing the morning smoothie once again. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can find my favorite recipes on Pinterest.
  5. Regulations for Ultra-Processed Food // The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization has released nutritional profile standards that help governments distinguish fresh or minimally processed foods from ultra processed foods. There’s a lot of work to be done, but these guidelines can eventually help regulate food marketing to children as well as food served in schools, inform warning labels, assess government subsidies, and a lot more. [Food Politics]
  6. Closed-Loop Cooking // Have you ever considered the amount of waste we produce when cooking? One woman’s story about reducing waste and eating well may inspire you to survey your trash. [Grist]
  7. Cooking Tips from Thomas Keller // Thomas Keller is the famed chef of The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Ad Hoc and he shares three simple tips for the home cook. Hint: it’s always about salt and heat. [Splendid Table]

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

How to Read Nutrition Labels

March 30th, 2016 Posted by Nutrition 101 0 thoughts on “How to Read Nutrition Labels”

I get questions all the time about which convenient, snack-type foods I recommend. While I’m always happy to share my favorites, it’s obviously not possible for me to review every product or know what you have access to in your local stores. So…I’m sharing with you the six things I look at on nutrition labels to determine whether or not a food provides good nutritional value.

Now, most of my recommendations for a nutritious diet include foods that don’t have nutrition labels at all – things like vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, whole grains, and so forth. But we all have at least an occasional need for convenient, packaged items and need to know how to decipher the information on the back of the box. Here’s what to pay attention to next time you’re at the grocery store.

HOW TO READ NUTRITION LABELS-2

1.

Ingredients

This is the first place I look when I’m analyzing a food label. Really, the ingredients should tell us almost everything we need to know when deciding whether or not to buy a product. Unfortunately, many of the ingredient names are unfamiliar to us and we need to rely on some of the other facts to make a decision. Ideally, the ingredient list won’t be very long (5-10 items or less) and you can recognize everything on the list. Imagine that you were going to make this item at home – is this how you would make it? Any packaged foods are going to have added preservatives and stabilizers to make them shelf-stable, so there will likely be at least one or two things you’re not sure about. The most important things to avoid are: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, MSG, aspartame, added sugars, and artificial sweeteners.

2.

Sugars

If you recognized added sweeteners on the ingredient list, it’s probably best to avoid the product. If you’re not sure if a product contains added sugars, look at the sugar value. Sugars are part of the overall carbohydrate count of a food. Grams of sugar can come from added sweeteners, fruit, fruit juice, dairy, and carbohydrate foods like beans and grains. It’s best to choose items with very low sugar values (ideally under 5 grams of sugar per serving), but the value on the nutrition label sometimes doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, a fruit-heavy product will likely have a higher sugar value even if there is no added sweetener. Some companies are tricky in that they reduce the serving size of an item so that it appears to contain zero grams of sugar. If a food contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving, it can be listed as containing 0 grams of sugar. Pay attention to the serving size to see if it’s realistic for you to follow. For example, if there are 4 servings per container, but you plan to eat the whole bag, it’s possible you’re eating up to 2 grams of sugar. The best way to understand sugars is to know how to recognize them in the ingredients. There are TONS of names for sugar, and other than looking for anything ending in -ose, here are some names of added sweeteners:

agave nectar – barbados sugar – barley malt – beet sugar – blackstrap molasses – brown rice syrup – brown sugar – buttered syrup – cane juice crystals – cane sugar – caramel – carob syrup – castor sugar – confectioner’s sugar – corn syrup – corn syrup solids – crystalline fructose

date sugar – demerara sugar – dextran – dextrose – diastatic malt – diatase – ethyl maltol – evaporated cane juice – florida crystals – fructose – fruit juice – fruit juice concentrate – galactose – glucose – glucose solids – golden sugar – golden syrup – grape sugar

high fructose corn syrup – honey – icing sugar – invert sugar – lactose – malt syrup – maltose – maple syrup – molasses – muscovado sugar – organic raw sugar – panocha – raw sugar – refiner’s syrup – rice syrup – sorghum syrup – sucrose – sugar – treacle – turbinado sugar – yellow sugar

3.

Sodium

I’m actually a fan of salt, but too much sodium can certainly be a problem because it can impair kidney function, lead to high blood pressure, and increase risk of osteoporosis and stomach cancer. The majority of our sodium intake comes from packaged foods, rather than from food we make ourselves at home because salt acts as a preservative, making packaged foods more shelf-stable. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that individuals consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, and that certain groups limit their intake to 1,500 mg per day. At these values, it’s wise to aim for less than 500 mg of sodium at each meal. When you analyze the sodium content of your food item, be sure to consider the sodium content of your entire meal or snack – it may need to contain less than 500 mg in order to keep you under the recommended limit.

4.

Fats

Fats are an important part of a balanced diet, so it’s not necessarily beneficial to look for foods with low fat content. The trick here is to pay attention to the types of fats the food contains. Aim to avoid trans fats completely. You’ll see these listed in the ingredients as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The nutrition facts section calls out trans fats as well – how helpful! But again, food companies can be sneaky. The FDA allows companies to list 0 grams on the label even if it contains up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Like in the sugar example, if you plan to eat 4 servings of an item, you could be consuming up to 2 grams of trans fat, which has been found harmful even at low levels. The FDA is working to remove trans fats from the food supply completely, but until that happens, be aware that cookies and crackers are the most likely to still contain oils with trans fats. Fat is important for satiety, brain health, nutrient absorption, and so many other things! If your food contains less than 3 grams of fat, it’s considered a low-fat food and it would be wise to add some nourishing fats to your meal or snack like avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, oils, or whole dairy.

5.

Protein

A balanced diet contains some protein, which can help curb sugar cravings and fuel your brain on a busy workday. If you’re looking to balance each meal and snack, aim for about 7-14 grams of protein per snack and 21-28 grams of protein per meal. If your food item doesn’t contain enough protein, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should skip it – it just means that you might want to add something to it to make a complete meal or snack.

6.

Serving Size

As I mentioned in some of the points above, it’s important to note the recommended serving size as you’re analyzing each part of the nutrition label. Compare the serving size to your intended portion size to calculate the actual amount of nutrients you will consume. It’s not necessary to limit yourself to the serving size listed unless the multiplied nutrient amounts will put you over your desired intake.

As I’m sure you noticed, there’s a lot I left out of my analysis, i.e. calories, cholesterol, vitamins, etc. These facts can provide good information, but they’re not the first things I look at when analyzing a product. Ultimately, my goal is to help you discern a nutritious food on your own – so let me know in the comments what additional questions you have about nutrition labels and ingredients for me to address in another post!

Reverse Meal Planning

March 8th, 2016 Posted by Food for Thought 0 thoughts on “Reverse Meal Planning”

Reverse meal planning (aka keeping a meal diary)

During the month of February I kept a meal diary of every dinner I ate. It was quite a valuable experience – so much so that I think you should try it too.

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about journaling your meals in order to make sure you’re sticking to a specific dietary regime. Not that I’m knocking that – keeping a diet journal has an appropriate time and place and can be a very effective tool. It’s just not what this is about.

I’m talking about an easier way to meal plan. It’s often easier to make meals at home when we’ve planned ahead, gone grocery shopping for everything we need, and worked up our appetite as we look forward to a specific meal at the end of the day. However, sitting down to make the initial plan is a hard thing to do.

Enter reverse meal planning.

Reverse meal planning (aka keeping a meal diary)

Reverse meal planning is simply writing down what you’re already doing and using this diary as a meal plan in the future. This means that it won’t be ready to use for a few weeks, but it won’t take any extra thought from you in the meantime.

Now, without an intentional weekly plan, your meal diary may not reflect quite the diet you aspire to, but don’t let that stop you. Use your diary to assess (without judgment) patterns around how often you actually eat at home, how many times you eat leftovers of a certain dish, or if you consistently can’t make it home to cook on a certain night due to a busy schedule. Also, it’s helpful to take notes on any ideas that come to mind that could improve the experience of a certain dish or how to use leftovers in the future. After doing this regularly, you will build up a nice collection of meal plans without doing much extra work.

What a nutritionist eats in a month (how do you like the 13th?)

HOW TO REVERSE MEAL PLAN:

  1. Keep a record in one place. This may seem obvious, but keeping notes on your phone, a spiral-bound notebook, AND scribbled on the back of your child’s homework is not the type of organization that will make meal planning easier for you in the long run. Choose one place to keep your diary and resolve to record your meals each night before bed. I used a yearly journal with a built-in calendar, but you should feel free to use whatever would be most comfortable for you.
  2. Choose which meals you’re going to record. In my case, I only recorded dinners because I don’t need a lot of variety at breakfast and I tend to eat leftovers for lunch. If your breakfasts, lunches, and snacks require more planning, you might want to include those in your diary as well.
  3. Write it down. It’s surprisingly easy to forget what you’ve eaten recently, so be sure to write down your meals ASAP. Include everything from leftovers to eating out and even skipped meals so you have an accurate picture of your schedule. It may provide insight into why you’re always over-buying or under-buying food, and how realistic your meal planning goals really are.
  4. Take notes for next time. Did you try a new recipe that you might adjust next time? Would you double the amount you make so you can have leftovers? Take notes so you can improve upon new recipes and make a more efficient plan. Think of creative ways to use leftovers from each meal and take notes so you can be prepared and have everything on hand next time.
  5. Store up 1-2 months worth of entries. Once you have 4-8 weeks of entries, you should have plenty of meals to choose from as you begin to look ahead. The simplest way to use your meal diary is to copy exactly what you did one or two months ago. If you’ve taken good notes about any changes you would make in the future, this should require no extra time on your part. If you want to shake things up a bit more, you can mix and match the weeks to create some variety.
  6. Aim to keep up with your meal diary for 1 year. Available foods and our preferences change with the weather, so keeping a meal diary across all 12 months will ensure that you take advantage of everything each season has to offer – think fresh fruit and salads in the summer, and soups and stews in the winter. How amazing would it be if you had a meal plan for each month from now until forever? Trust me, repeating the same monthly meal plan each year won’t be too much. Most people have a rotation of only 10-15 meals that they cook on a regular basis.

How to meal plan like a nutritionist

Ultimately, keeping a meal diary for one month ended up being an enlightening experience for me that should help me make better plans in the future. My obsessive nature showed through and I found that if I made a meal I enjoyed I would eat it multiple times. Even the leftovers I stored in the freezer for later got eaten within a week or two. I was confronted with how often I eat with friends, either out at a restaurant or in their homes, which encouraged me to aim for more home-cooked meals when it’s just my husband and I.

Have you ever kept a meal diary? What stands out most to you when you track your meal habits?

What Works: March 2016

March 1st, 2016 Posted by Drew Approved 0 thoughts on “What Works: March 2016”

7 Nutrition tips for March 2016

7 THINGS THAT WORK THIS MONTH:

  1. A Clean Kitchen // Apparently messy kitchens, rooms, and desks can cause us to eat more, particularly more sweet foods. Based on this research, an interesting resolution would be to focus more on keeping a clean kitchen than on a specific dietary regime. [NPR]
  2. Cold Pans // I tend to operate with the assumption that, when cooking, I should start with a hot pan. This isn’t always the case and Bon Appetit breaks down when it’s best to start cold. [Bon Appetit]
  3. Collagen // We tend to focus on muscle meats which contain all the essential amino acids, but apparently the non-essential aminos may be important too. Here are 10 reasons to eat more collagen-containing foods like bone broth, skin, shanks, ribs, and powdered gelatin. [Mark’s Daily Apple]
  4. Bare Bones Broth // Speaking of collagen, bone broth is a great source of collagen and glycine and is one of my favorite, nutrient-dense, secret ingredients. I aim to drink 1 cup per day and it’s hard to always have homemade stock on hand. I’ve been enjoying ordering from Bare Bones Broth – they make “sippable” broths combined with either rosemary + garlic or tomato + clove. They’re delicious and my freezer is full of them.
  5. The Language of Food: A linguist reads the menu // I’ve been listening to this fascinating book (I downloaded the audio version to play while I cook) by Dan Jurafsky about the words we use to describe food and its associated flavors. From marketing tactics to the evolution of recipes, looking at food from the mind of a linguist illuminates an often surprising history.
  6. Oatmeal Cookies // They’re free of white sugar and processed flour, meaning they’re perfect for breakfast. I’ve been using this recipe, but switching out the chocolate chips for dried apricots, walnuts, and ginger.
  7. Still Not Working: Plastics // Many manufacturers have stopped using Bisphenol A (BPA) to strengthen plastic after animal studies linked it to early puberty and a rise in breast and prostate cancers. Many companies are now replacing BPA with BPS in their “BPA-free” products, which may not be safer. New research suggests it’s still best to stick with glass, wood, or stainless steel products. [Science Daily]

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Radishes with Whipped Anchovy Butter

February 26th, 2016 Posted by Farm to Table 0 thoughts on “Radishes with Whipped Anchovy Butter”

Radishes with Anchovy Butter

So I’ve taken up vegetable gardening and recently harvested my first crop of radishes. I’ve been slicing them thin and throwing them in salads and sandwiches, shredding them to sprinkle on tacos and bean dip, and enjoying them dunked in all sorts of mixtures.

One of my favorites has been a very French snack using butter, anchovies, lemon, and parsley.

I know, I know – anchovies may not be your favorite, but let me politely suggest you give them a second try. First of all, they impart more of a salty flavor than a fishy flavor (and if you REALLY won’t try anchovies you can still make this recipe – just use salt instead!) and a small portion is all you need for just the right taste. If you need more convincing, here are some reasons why anchovies are nutritionally awesome.

ANCHOVY NUTRITION HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Fats: Anchovies count as “oily” fish which are fish that are especially high in Omega-3 fatty acids. If you’ve been paying attention to dietary recommendations for heart health, oily fish is at the top of the list.
  • Low mercury: The National Resources Defense Council categorizes anchovies in the lowest mercury category and considers them safe to consume.
  • Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous: Anchovy filets contain tiny bones that are so soft you don’t even notice you’re eating them. The benefit of these bones is that they are full of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous which help you build strong bones and teeth.
  • Sodium concerns: The easiest way to buy anchovies is in cans or jars, which means they are packed in oil or water and preserved with salt. This is nice because they’ll last a long time in your cabinet or fridge, but can be a problem for people watching their sodium intake. This recipe uses 2 anchovy fillets, which equals about 300mg of sodium in the full recipe. The RDA for sodium is 1,500mg. You can get rid of some of the excess salt by rinsing the filets or soaking them in cold water for 30 minutes.

Freshly picked radishes

For some of you, anchovies aren’t your beef with this recipe – its’ the radishes.

Many people I speak with aren’t sure about radishes. The taste is peppery, which often reads as spicy making them hard to enjoy on their own. But when paired with the salty, savory flavors in anchovy butter, they’re just perfect.

WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN TO LIKE RADISHES:

Radishes are members of the Brassica or Cruciferous vegetable family along with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Vegetables in this family contain unique, cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates give radishes their pungent flavor due to the oils released when the plant is chewed or cut. These natural chemicals are thought to contribute to plant deference against pests and diseases and may help protect humans from disease as well.

In addition to cancer-fighting compounds, radishes are also a great source of vitamin C, which helps maintain heart health, strengthens blood vessels, and supports a healthy metabolism. High in fiber, radishes can support healthy digestion and promote satiety.

As you can see, this seemingly simple snack is packed with nutrition. Choose a good quality, grass-fed butter and you can’t go wrong!

Radishes with Whipped Anchovy Butter
Ingredients
  • 4 Tbsp. (half stick) of grass-fed butter
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley
  • 12 radishes, halved
Instructions
  1. Blend butter, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley in a food processor until smooth. Taste and season with salt or lemon juice.
  2. Serve as a dip for radishes.

 

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