Workout Nutrition: Pre-Workout Snack

Workout Nutrition: Pre-Workout snacks

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?”

Ultimately, by eating a nutritious, well-balanced meal or snack 1-2 hours before exercise, and a nutritious, well-balanced meal or snack 1-2 hours after exercise, most people can meet their workout nutrition needs without much additional intentionality. If you are an average, healthy person who exercises regularly, you probably don’t need special workout nutrition strategies. If you are a professional athlete, bodybuilder, or are training for some type of fitness competition, you likely want to pursue specific nutrition to optimize your performance, but that’s another post for another day.

For the average exerciser however, workouts can sometimes derail our well-intentioned diets by causing strong cravings later in the day, hunger causing us to overeat, or creating too much stress on our bodies from not eating enough. In order to optimize your workout nutrition, we need to consider the type, duration, and intensity of your workout, as well as the time of day and which other meals you have already or are planning to consume that day.


Because each body is biochemically unique, the pre-workout snack that works for your friend may not be right for you and there may be a simple reason why the nutrition plan you followed from a magazine didn’t work. The truth is, your body is your best doctor when it comes to knowing which foods nourish you and which foods make you feel crummy. In order to decide if your diet is sufficiently supporting your workout routine, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How is my energy level before a workout?
  2. Do I feel tired during my workout?
  3. Do I feel like I can use proper technique or use more intensity during my workout when I eat (or don’t eat) certain foods?
  4. Am I able to maintain a balanced diet after my workout, or do I experience strong cravings or tend to overeat?
  5. Am I progressing toward my strength building or weight loss goals?

If you were able to answer positively to these questions, then congratulations! It appears that your diet and workout routines are sustainable; at least for now. If you feel like you could use some improvement in one or more of these areas, you may want to make some simple adjustments to provide better energy and strength for your workouts.


There are varying opinions about when, what, and how much to eat before a workout that can cause confusion for the average exerciser. The most important thing is that you eat something within 2-3 hours prior to your workout.

The most important reason for eating before your workout is to stabilize your blood sugar. Low blood sugar during your workout can make you feel dizzy and sluggish and may also work against your muscle building or weight loss goals. When there’s no sugar in your bloodstream, your body will convert your own muscle tissue into energy.

In addition to stabilizing your blood sugar, eating before your workout can help increase your intensity. Being able to exercise at a higher intensity will make your workouts more efficient and can help you reach your goals more quickly. Your goals for your pre-workout meal or snack should be to sustain energy, boost performance, hydrate, preserve muscle mass, and speed recovery.

The duration, intensity, and timing of your workout will determine your energy needs. For example, the closer you get to a workout, the more simple your meal should be. If you eat 2-3 hours before, you’ll have time for your food to digest and be absorbed from your GI tract into your blood. Within an hour of working out, however, you should eat something that will be digested and absorbed more quickly.

STRENGTH TRAINING: The more intense your efforts, the more protein you’ll need. Enjoy a protein- and complex carbohydrate-rich meal 1-2 hours before your workout.

  1. A palm-sized portion of protein: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, plain yogurt, protein powder (providing about 21g of protein)
  2. A fist-sized portion of vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, salad, spinach, summer squash, etc.
  3. A cupped handful of starches: Sweet potato, banana, rice, quinoa, oats
  4. 1 thumb of fats: Nuts, seeds, oil, salad dressing, avocado, coconut, nut butter

CARDIO: Enjoy more carbohydrates than protein about 30-60 minutes before beginning your workout.

  1. A thumb-sized portion of protein: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, plain yogurt, protein powder (providing about 10g of protein)
  2. A fist-sized portion of vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, salad, spinach, summer squash, etc.
  3. 1-2 cupped handfuls of starches: Sweet potato, banana, rice, quinoa, oats
  4. 1 thumb of fats: Nuts, seeds, oil, salad dressing, avocado, coconut, nut butter

CIRCUIT TRAINING: Have a protein- and complex carbohydrate-rich meal 2-3 hours before your workout and a carbohydrate-rich snack 30-60 minutes before your workout.

* A note about fats: While I’m typically a big advocate of including fat in a balanced diet, it takes a long time to digest (which is one of the reasons why I love it – it makes you feel full!). Because of this, it may feel heavy in your stomach or slow you down if you eat too much fat before your workout. Enjoy a small amount (1-2 Tbsp. or “thumbs”) and save the rest for after your workout.

Ultimately, you’ll want to eat whatever makes you feel light, energized, and keeps you feeling balanced all day long. Stay tuned for part 2 – what to eat after your workout! In the meantime, share some of your favorite pre-workout meals below.

What Works: April 2016

What works: April 2016


  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]


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.




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.



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



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.



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.



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.


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

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?)


  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

7 Nutrition tips for March 2016


  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]


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.


  • 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.


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
  • 4 Tbsp. (half stick) of grass-fed butter
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley
  • 12 radishes, halved
  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.


French Bistro Salad

Simple Green Salad Recipe

It doesn’t get any simpler than this green salad – or tastier, for that matter.

The French Bistro Salad basically looks like a serving of lettuce and it seems almost silly to share a precise recipe with you because it’s just so simple. But mastering the art of a simple green salad might be just the skill you need to provide a bright flavor to your plate and impress your friends.

Simple green salad with sherry vinaigrette recipeIs lettuce really worth it nutrition-wise?

Lettuce is well known for being a low calorie food and you’re probably wondering if there’s even enough nutritional value in lettuce to justify serving a salad composed of only leaves. While including additional vegetables in your meal will definitely round out your nutrient intake, don’t count lettuce out just yet – choose Romaine, Red Leaf, or Green Leaf lettuce for some awesome perks:

  • Water: Lettuce is a high water food (the crispier the better) hydrating you with every bite.
  • Vitamin A: This vitamin is required to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin, and is also essential for vision.
  • Vitamin K: Supports bone health by aiding the absorption of vitamin D. It also has an established role in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage to the brain.
  • Folate: Folates are co-factors in the enzyme metabolism required for DNA synthesis and play a vital role in prevention of neural tube defects during pregnancy.
  • Molybdenum: Molybdenum is a trace mineral that plays a role in many functions, including protection against cancer, enzyme production, and reducing inflammation.

Simple green salad with sherry vinaigrette recipe

The trick to this salad is in the lettuce. I know pre-washed, boxed salad greens are so easy, but a big, leafy head of fresh lettuce will make all the difference in this recipe. Look for a red or green-leaf lettuce with bright, crispy leaves. I don’t use a salad spinner (because there’s no extra space in my kitchen!) so I wash the leaves and lay them flat on a towel to dry while I prep the rest of my meal.

For the best texture, separate the leafy portions from the central rib and discard, keeping only the leafy parts for the salad. Tear the leafy parts into large, bite-sized pieces.

The salad dressing can be made in advance, but don’t dress the salad until the last minute to keep the leaves from wilting. This vinaigrette recipe can be adapted to your personal taste and ingredients. A little extra salt will cut the acid, honey will balance tartness, and olive oil will mellow the flavor. To sample the dressing, dip a leaf into the oil mixture to get the most accurate flavor.

Simple green salad with sherry vinaigrette recipe

I love serving this salad with roasts and cooked vegetables because it adds a bright, acidic flavor to the plate, breaking up savory or salty dishes without adding too many new flavors. It’s also delicious paired with eggs for a very French breakfast.

I always love seeing how you interpret recipes, so tag your posts with #parisinutrition to share your photos with me!

French Bistro Salad
  • 1 head of red or green leaf lettuce, washed
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. After lettuce is washed and dried, tear the leafy parts away from the central rib and place leaves in a salad bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar, shallot, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.
  3. Toss salad with dressing just before serving.


What Works: February 2016

Nourished Living in February 2016


  1. No food is healthy. Not even kale. // This article by Michael Ruhlman calls out the confusing nature of food claims, reminding us that food can be nutritious, but not healthy. Understanding this rhetoric can help us make wiser food choices and feel more comfortable in the gray area between “good” and “bad” foods.
  2. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work // I’ve been listening to this audiobook while I cook (see How to Enjoy Cooking Part 2 for why) and I’ve been fascinated by the wildly different daily rituals of prolific and esteemed creators and thinkers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by trying to make your routine as productive and “healthy” as possible, this book might give you the freedom you need to chart your own course.
  3. Instacart // If you’re one of my personal nutrition clients, you probably already know how much I love Instacart. Groceries delivered to my door within 2 hours? Yes, please! This is one of the tools that really keeps me on track with cooking meals consistently at home. If you’re lucky enough to live in an instacart delivery area, I encourage you to try it – it just might change your life. (Use this link for $10 off your groceries)
  4. Pressed Juicery’s Greens 1.5 // I don’t drink a lot of juice, but Pressed Juicery’s Greens 1.5 has been hitting the spot after my workouts. I specifically like Greens 1.5 because it’s full of low-glycemic vegetables and contains a pinch of sea salt to replenish electrolytes. It provides great hydration and holds me over until I can get home and eat a meal.
  5. Hot Yoga // I’ve never been one to commit to one exercise method as a lifestyle, preferring rather to jump around and do whatever feels best for my body at the time. That said, I’ve been enjoying hot yoga (Bikram) for some time now because it’s such a great way to do some good sweating. I go once every 1-2 weeks and am sure to drink tons of water starting the day before my class so I’m well hydrated. The hot room is beneficial for circulation and flexibility and sweating is actually great for your skin, as long as you shower it off right away. (For you locals, I recommend Yoga Source in Palo Alto)
  6. The Kinfolk Table // This cookbook was published in 2013, but I finally got my very own copy this past Christmas. Kinfolk is unique in that it profiles home cooks from all over the world and tells stories about what a meal shared with friends means to them. The recipes are special and the flavors span the globe. It’s a great resource for anyone looking for inspiration for small gatherings.
  7. Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Olives // I’ve been obsessed with this recipe for a couple of months now, making it pretty much every time I have guests over for dinner. It’s an easy recipe that can be put in the oven before guests arrive and the ingredients are perfect for winter. I serve it with a simple green salad and Forbidden Rice Pilaf.
  8. A Perfect Green Salad // I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to figure this out, but the trick to a perfect green salad is to remove the ribs from the lettuce, using just the light, fluffy leaves. It’s so easy to buy a box of pre-washed salad greens, but if you really want to impress your friends, buy a head of green or red-leaf lettuce, wash and dry each leaf, tear the leaves away from the ribs, and dress with a simple vinaigrette.


Forbidden Rice Pilaf

Forbidden Rice Pilaf

I’m going to go ahead and claim black rice as “the next quinoa.” With more protein than brown rice and more anthocyanins than blueberries, “black” or “forbidden” rice is the new nutrition darling and it looks great on your plate.

The black color actually comes from the same dark purple pigment that colors blueberries, acai berries, and eggplants. Dark red and purple colors signify a healthy antioxidant content and these beautiful foods are powerful free radical-fighters, lowering inflammation and disease risk.

Black rice can be used as a substitute for rice in most recipes as long as you don’t mind if it stains everything else purple (be careful with your clothes and rugs too). It’s cooked similarly to brown rice, following the general rule of 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of liquid. In this recipe I recommend using chicken broth not only for the added flavor, but also as an easy way to boost the nutritional value of your meal. If you’re feeling fancy, add a piece of kombu seaweed to the liquid as it cooks and remove it before serving to add an extra dose of minerals to your dish.

This simple pilaf recipe has a sweet, nutty flavor and is a great side dish for salmon, roasted chicken, or even tossed with greens and vegetables in a salad. Make a large batch and store it in your fridge for up to one week.

Black Rice is one of the most nutritious grains to eat

5.0 from 1 reviews
Forbidden Rice Pilaf
  • 1 cup black rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • ¼ cup coconut oil or ghee
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins
  • zest of 1 orange
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ⅓ cup toasted walnuts
  1. To prepare the rice, you can either soak it overnight in water and drain for optimal digestion, or you can simply rinse it 2-3 times and drain.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat coconut oil or ghee over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the orange zest and rice and stir to mix well.
  4. Once the rice has been coated in oil, add the broth and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer on low for 30-40 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid is evaporated. If you soaked your rice ahead of time, the cooking time will likely be reduced to 20-30 minutes.
  5. Toss in the raisins and walnuts and fluff with a fork before serving.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4


How to Enjoy Cooking (Part 2)

How to Enjoy Cooking

I’ve had some great conversations with my clients since my last post on How to Enjoy Cooking. They’ve brought up some barriers to cooking that weren’t addressed in Part 1 and I’m excited to share them here with you. Overall, it seems that many people don’t feel capable in the kitchen and either question their cooking skills or their ability to put together a balanced and nutritious meal. These feelings keep us from enjoying ourselves and from being proud of what we create. The truth is, it doesn’t take an extensive education in order to whip up an Instagrammable meal. You’d be surprised by how far you can get with a sharp knife, an organized process, and a colorful garnish.

How to Enjoy Cooking



Make it a social activity

Identifying more strongly with introversion, I’ve never considered cooking to be a lonely experience. However, many of my more extraverted clients associate the kitchen with boredom or isolation. If this is you, consider making cooking a social activity: schedule a weekly “cooking date” with a friend where you batch cook together for the week ahead, have a family member pull up a stool at the counter while you cook, or Skype a friend that loves to chat. If there’s no one around to keep you company, listen to an audiobook, podcast, or even watch a TV show (one that won’t distract you too much from the task at hand) to keep your mind stimulated.


Own a sharp knife and know how to use it

You don’t need a lot of fancy tools to be a good cook, but a sharp knife is essential. Trying to chop with a dull knife can slow the process and make you feel inept. A sharp knife does wonders for your confidence in the kitchen and makes the chopping process go much faster. The right knife will be unique to you, so if you’re in the market for a new tool, visit a cooking store that demos knives to find one with just the right grip and weight for your hand. Bonus points if you take a knife skills class at your local cooking school to learn to chop like a pro.


Try new recipes, or don’t

This one’s up to you. Some people thrive on change and would love to be able to cook a new dish every night of the week. If this is you, follow cooking blogs, pin recipes on Pinterest, and subscribe to cooking magazines in order to maintain a steady stream of inspiration. Instead of relying on leftovers, cook an extra serving of protein or grain one day so you can repurpose it in a new recipe the next and cut down on your cooking time.

On the other end of the spectrum, some people feel overwhelmed by so many new ideas and need permission to stick with some old standbys. Neither tendency is right or wrong, but it’s important to know if this issue is stressing you out and keeping you from cooking at all.


Practice mise en place

I’ve written more extensively on this here, and I think it’s important enough to repeat again. The practice of preparing all your ingredients before beginning to cook anything is the key to a smooth, stress-free process and will teach you how to become a better cook over time. If you’re a visual learner, the habit of laying out all your ingredients and tools will help you recognize patterns and techniques that you’ll be able to replicate in the future without having to refer to a recipe.


Pay attention to presentation

We eat first with our eyes, so how the food appears on the plate can be just as important as getting the spices right. A study done by Charles Spence at Oxford University found that thoughtful presentation meant diners found the food more flavorful. But you don’t need a closet full of food styling props in order to create an appealing dish. Here are some simple techniques to pretty your plate:

  • Use a nice plate – sometimes a simple, white plate is best
  • Wipe the edge of the plate or bowl clean of any smears or drips
  • Garnish with herbs or sauce – a bright or contrasting color will be most attractive; think parsley, cilantro, hot sauce, pistachios, white or black sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds, wedge of lemon, etc.
  • Pay attention to how things are chopped – cutting a fillet horizontally to show the inner color of the meat or slicing cucumbers thinly to layer on top of a salad can make dishes considerably more appetizing

How to enjoy cooking

Have you found any creative ways to overcome your barriers to cooking? I’d love for you to share below or tag your social media post with #parisinutrition!