Post Pregnancy weight loss: realistically, nutritiously, and successfully – all while breastfeeding

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January is normally hard for me after the holidays.

There’s no more “best time of the year”- feeling, no more Christmas music, no more relaxing, casual, festive atmosphere, and no more long vacation time- at least not for a while.

But 2 years ago the best gift I’ve could have been given was born and has forever changed my perspective on January.

As a dietitian I’ve loved being on this journey as a mother so I can relate to other moms wanting to improve their own nutrition and that of their families.

This month in Health and Fitness Magazine I’m sharing my recommendations on how to lose that baby weight realistically and successfully while trying to breastfeed and nourish that beautiful and growing baby.

You can read the full article here.

xo,

Becca

 

Protein Rich Kale, Spinach, Leek & Artichoke Dip

I once had a nutrition professor to challenged me to add more veggies to a homemade budget-friendly pizza..

I was thinking it was good enough to have vegetables present at all, but she really wanted me to pile them on.

Ask my husband, to this day, I now have a salad on top of my pizza.

Anyone can make a healthier spinach and artichoke dip by trimming out the fat and using reduced fat cheese and increasing the protein by substituting in plain Greek yogurt.

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But why not do all that and then some but not only adding more veggies but adding more flavors and more nutrients.

Hence my spinach and artichoke dip turned higher protein + less fat and twisted even more with the addition of kale & leaks.

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Kale, Spinach, Leek & Artichoke Dip

Serves: 12

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 leek, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup frozen artichoke hearts

1 cup frozen spinach leaves

2 kale leaves, julienne

8 ounces Kite Hill Plain Cream Cheese-Style Spread

8 ounces 2% plain Greek Yogurt

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Spray a 8×8 baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the leek and garlic until softened (about 3-5 minutes).

Add the spinach, kale, and artichokes and toss to combine.

Stir in the cream cheese and Greek yogurt.

Layer the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the cheese is golden and the mixture is bubbling hot.

Serve with whole wheat pita or veggie-“crackers” like endive leaves or cucumber slices as examples.

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**For a shortcut, omit the oil and grate the garlic. In a large glass (microwave safe bowl), add the garlic, leeks, artichokes, spinach, kale, cream cheese, and Greek yogurt. Microwave everything in 1 minute increments (a total of about 3 minutes) until everything is softened and hot. Stirring in between to combine all the ingredients. Sprinkle on the parmesan and stir one last time. Serve warm!**

Per serving: 90 calories, 5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 170 mg sodium, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugar, 5 grams protein.

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This recipe is perfect for post holiday, higher protein snack options. It’s also great to bring to Mardi Gras parties & parades and even Superbowl parties!

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Just remember to be careful when you first take it out of the oven. Lillian is kindly reminding you, “It’s hot!”

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Nothing you can’t cool off though!

xo

from me and my birthday girl!

 

7 steps to a better you in 2017

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

I am not one to make New Years resolutions!

I doubt anyone will debate that the holiday season can be stressful. Of course it’s a wonderful time, and I’m truly sad when it’s over, but there can be so much to do in so little time!

The work hustle and bustle tends to slow down a bit for me during the holidays {lets just say not too many people want to come in and meet with a dietitian…}. Nevertheless, I tend to overwrite my personal to do list. Add that with packing for vacation while gathering presents for everyone and trying to attend holiday festivities – it can be downright mentally {& physically} draining!

So when New Years comes around I tend to give myself a break and not add one more thing to my to do list.

And who says you have to wait ’til New Years to make changes for yourself anyways? You have all year to keep improving on whatever it is your goals might be. And shouldn’t we always be striving to better our selves?

So I say decrease the stress on yourself this year to make one big resolution and resolve to make small gradual changes throughout the year. Of course this doesn’t have to be nutrition or food-related, but that is my specialty after all.

If you’ve always wanted to improve your habits and behaviors, especially around food, here are my 7 recommendations for small steps to a better you in 2017:

  1. start with a good nights sleep
  2. eat a light, but protein-rich breakfast
  3. space snacks in between meals
  4. think protein and veggies for meals
  5. keep it simple
  6. make exercise enjoyable
  7.  give yourself something to look forward to each week

Sleep:

It may not sound nutrition-related, but if you do not get enough sleep each night to allow your body to perform essential functions (like regulate hormones, including ones that affect energy & appetite) it will make it hard to 1. make smart food choices, 2. have energy to exercise 3. have energy to prepare healthful home-cooked meals 4. pack snacks, workout clothes, etc for the next day.  Your individual sleep needs may vary, I prefer 9 hours. My hubby can function well (so he says) off of 7 hours. The recommendation is between 7-9 hours each night.

This sounds pretty basic, but if you work shift work or nights, you need to treat sleep schedule like everyone else, it’s just in reverse. Sorry, no 3 or 4 hour naps during the day and playing catch up on your off days will do.

If you have interrupted sleep because of babies or young tots, just cut your losses and do the best you can. *speaking from personal experience here*

Breakfast: 

Breakfast doesn’t have to be a big heavy rich breakfast. However, you should have something to start your day, kickstart your energy and metabolism, and get your blood sugars regulated. Keep it focused on protein as this will last you longer in terms of energy and satiety.

My favorites for fast mornings:

Kashi 7 Grain Waffle + Whole Foods 365 unsweetened unsalted peanut butter + Polaner all fruit spread

Old fashioned oats + 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar + cinnamon

100% whole wheat English muffin + smear of Land O’Lakes Whipped Butter + Polaner spread with 1 egg mixed with 1/2 cup egg whites nuked in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

snacks: 

Healthful snack choices and timing are key to energy maintenance, appetite control, lean muscle maintenance. This doesn’t mean you need to eat every hour or even every two hours.

My rule of thumb: ff meals are 5 or more hours apart, cut that time in half with a snack. This would leave with you 3 meals per day with 1-2 snacks depending on what your day looks like.

My favorite snack is some sort of fresh fruit with either a small amount of nuts, a low fat string cheese, plain Greek yogurt, or a spoon of nut butter.

meals:

Focus meals around lean protein options paired with non-starchy vegetables. If you skip the pasta, rice, bread, you’ll rid the chance of not choosing a 100% whole grain option and  you’ll also save on sodium intake from some of these processed foods that albeit can still be healthy options. Instead stay full and satisfied with a healthy 6 ounce protein of lean meat and lots of veggies. Save yourself time and energy and prepare enough portions to eat leftovers for lunch. Then when you clean up dinner you can just pack up your lunch at the same time. If you’re a vegetarian focus on beans, tofu, eggs, as your protein options and we all should strive for a vegetarian meal at least once per week.

some of my favorite simple go-to dinners include:

lemon seared chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts

lettuce wrap grilled fish tacos with a zesty citrus coleslaw

meatballs & salad (the hubby can easily boil pasta for himself)

baked salmon with steamed snap beans

keep it simple:

Meal planning is key to having healthy options available at home. Pick a time once a week to plan out the whole week’s menu. Friday afternoon right before you head home, or Saturday morning while your relaxing and enjoying a cup of coffee can be good times as you’re likely to head to the grocery store sometime over the weekend.

Using some of the snack & meal ideas shared above means you can skip the aisles full of processed foods (and while I do have an arsenal of healthier more convenient foods I often recommend, keeping a plan full of whole foods of fruits, veggies, lean protein, is always best and will likely you help reach your goals more easily.  If you’re watching your sodium intake chips, crackers, breads, rice mixes, etc can all be full of hidden, but added sodium. Not to mention they can be marketed pretty deceivingly to look like fiberous 100% whole grains, but in reality they are a mix of some whole grains blended with wheat flours which are still enriched, processed flours

exercise:

Daily exercise for 45-60 minutes is key to not only keeping your weight down, but also keeping your mood and energy up. It may be hard to find the time and energy some days to fit it in, but you’ll feel better afterwards. Guaranteed.

Find things you enjoy and stick with it. A variety of activity is always best, but just get moving. There’s loads of pinterest graphics, online videos, apps, gym classes, in-home equipment, etc.

treat:

Give yourself something to look forward to each week whether that’s a reward for sticking to your meal plan goals or it’s just a healthy event you plan on doing with friends or maybe it’s getting the night off from cooking.

Once a week, usually on a night I know I’m coming home later or that I’ll be tired, we get take out. And while, I usually don’t like food to be used as a reward, let’s face it- food is so much a part of our lives.

Other favorites of mine include:

getting a mani/pedi

walking with friends in the park (followed by beignets anyone?)

buying a new piece of workout gear

movie date night

So there you have it: my 7 keys to a well balanced life that you can start making small steps towards this year!

I truly hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! We sure did!

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xo,

Becca

 

 

 

Banana Nut Gingerbread Protein Muffins

I am home for the holidays!

And loving every minute.

I’ve been doing nothing for the past 4 days other than relaxing, watching movies, hanging with the fam, playing with the daughter, and lots of cooking and baking!

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It’s actually time for our monthly #reciperedux and for December we are grabbing a cookbook and picking any recipe on a page with some number in “2016.”

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Since I’m home in Illinois,  I raided my mother’s cookbook shelf and pulled out all of our Barefoot Contessas for some inspiration! Ina’s chunky banana bran muffins sounded just comforting and easy enough to twist to enjoy while in this winter tundra for Christmas!

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Ina’s muffins are already slightly healthier as they contain bran for added fiber, but it still consists of enriched flour and refined sugar. My twists include using whole grain flour, less sugar and a combo of Greek yogurt and coconut oil.

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I also threw in a couple scoops of low sugar chocolate protein powder which provide powerful muscle-building benefits but also satiety and fullness. Not to mention that darker, richer color.

And for that festive, gingerbread flavor, I added classic gingerbread spice and {if available} crystalized ginger.

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Banana Nut Gingerbread Protein Muffins

Makes: 12

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 scoops chocolate (low sugar) protein powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup maple syrup

3 large ripe bananas, diced

1/4 cup chopped, pecans

1/4 cup chopped, crystalized ginger

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients {flour to nutmeg}. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients {eggs to syrup}.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Combine with a spatula, but be careful not to overmix – a little flour unmixed is ok!

Add the chopped bananas and stir gently a couple of times.

Portion into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle with pecans and ginger.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition facts: 180 calories, 6 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams monounsaturated fat, 180 milligrams sodium, 27 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 11 grams sugar, 8 grams protein.

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These muffins are a perfect and truly healthier muffin to enjoy during the holidays. The gingerbread flavor give that perfect Christmas spice, and the banana nut flavors make you feel like you’re indulging even though you can comfortably enjoy this guilt free.

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These muffins are even tested and approved by the little darlin’ in my house!

If you’re like us, you can enjoy them with your favorite cup of coffee or tea for breakfast or a snack!

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We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours!

xo

Becca

—–

P.S. you can see what my fellow Recipe Redux Community Members have come up with:

 

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Homemade and Health-Conscious Holiday Gifts

I think I’m one of those people that go over the top for Christmas.

Well, I know, I am.  The first step is admitting it, right?

Not only do I have my hubby and child to get for, but of course, our two pups, who also have birthdays in December. The hubby’s birthday is also in December, and the baby {or should I say, almost 2 year old} is just a couple weeks away in January. Goodness, I’m exhausted already just with these 4.

Then we have our parents, siblings, Christmas cards to send. Oh and friends, of course!

And, we’re not done! Co workers and, now we’ve even added teachers to the list!

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I’m not kidding when I say I started thinking about all of this in October. No wonder I was in the mood for Christmas even before Thanksgiving, which as much as I love Christmas, that was unusual for me.

And when I tell you I started planning in October, it hasn’t helped reduce my stress and to-do list in these last few days!

I’m sure I’ll get better as the years go on. Maybe I need to plan in Sept, but actually start ordering and prepping in October… hmmm! Light bulb.

shoot, while I’m at it, I might as well start planning in January for next year! After the baby’s birthday, of course!

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Maybe things wouldn’t feel so stressful if I didn’t want to make handmade gifts for so many.

It just seems so much more personal. More thoughtful. More meaningful.

Perhaps, more budget-friendly. But definitely not necessarily time-friendly.

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I try to keep gifts health-conscious {with the occasional splurge on a Christmas cookie or two} – as I would hope those that I’m counseling and educating to do the same!

This year I am newly into Essential Oils by Young Living so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to spread the love and gratitude with some handmade gifts that incorporate my new appreciation of oils!

For teachers I made rollers for Immunity support. Thieves is great for helping you boost your immunity so I thought for teachers who have to deal with grabby, sticky, germy hands all day, this would be perfect!

I plan on pairing these rollers with some tea for the antioxidant benefits from green tea, some zero calorie hydration from La Croix, and a cutie or two for each teacher. Now when you count there are 2 teachers per room, LEM’s room is split so there are actually 4 teachers plus misc aides, the kitchen staff of two, the two administrators who’ve helped us throughout the year, our loving teachers from last year in the baby room, sheesh y’all that’s at least 12 people!

So I’m prioritizing. This bundle is for our everyday teachers this year and then we are giving a big bag of cuties and a big tin filled with packets of Emergen C, Green tea, and Crystal Light Pure to the admin office with a note to share with other staff and teachers. That way we feel we’ve covered everyone and no one feels left out. Plus if someone doesn’t like La Croix { I know, they are nuts], but they’ll have other beverage options to pick from. And the staff can pick and choose from this all year long!

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I did also say I have coworkers planned for as well.

This year they are getting some much-needed stress relief with relaxing lavender bath salts.

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These would be great for teachers too! Or if you’re like me, you can mix and match if you know that a coworker tends to get sick often or tends not to take baths, then give him/her the immunity roller and give a teacher the reminder to take time to relax and unwind.

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Honestly, these can be given to friends, hostess gifts, neighbors who did something nice for you, even family members, because we know how hard it can be to get a nice gift for anyone!

Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Becca

Pear Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad with a Dijon Honey Vinegrette

This time of year always brings up “holiday survival tips” to prevent that “inevitable” 5 or so pound weight gain around the holidays.

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While there are definitely some strategies to help you stay on track without giving up your favorites: my favorite tip is to bring a dish to pass that you love, that’s healthier, and that you think others will love, too!

{My other favorite go-to recommendation is to exercise, even if it’s just for a walk. It will help to keep those excess calories in check}.

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It can be tricky to twist a beloved family dish. Often times you can wind up changing the dish completely and it won’t be the same dish you remembered.

That’s why coming up with something new, starting a new tradition- if you will! It will be more likely to win your family over and you can save those cherished once-a-year recipes and just have a little bit, without any guilt!

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This pear, pecan, and blue cheese salad is a perfect option to provide a healthier option on your holiday table. It has unique and holiday-inspired flavors built in that will make you feel festive and indulgent at the same time, but without the guilt! You get greens, fiber, healthy fats, a little natural sweetness all in one delicious dish!

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Pear Pecan & Blue Cheese Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
4 ounces kale
4 ounces fresh spinach
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1-2 fresh pears, sliced {reserve until right before serving or sprinkle with lemon juice}

For the dressing:
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Make the dressing and then drizzle a little bit of it into the bottom of your serving bowl. Layer on the greens along with the blue cheese and pecans. Just before serving, toss the salad and the dressing to coat the lettuce. Finally, layer on the pears and serve.

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This salad will carry you through Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas. Maybe even New Years.

Maybe even well into your New Years Resolutions!

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This recipe has become a tradition in my family, and at my in-laws Thanksgiving table as well.  It’s from my blog’s archives and it is inspired by my mom’s longtime childhood friend, Sue.

We call her Crazy Aunt Sue as she lives in New York City with her son and has always had a dreamy lifestyle for this modest Midwestern girl. She used to be a chef. Then she turned fancy sock designer. Regardless, we love her, and her recipes. This isn’t her exact recipe, but the ingredients are reminiscent of what she made for us when she came to visit one year and made Thanksgiving dinner. Our fancy, formal Chef-inspired, Thanksgiving dinner.

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What good memories!

That’s what the holidays are all about.

I hope this recipe becomes a beloved new tradition in your family!

 

Merry Christmas!

Becca

 

Chocolate Protein Muffins

Chocolate. Muffins. Need I say more?

Maybe, chocolate protein muffins? Delicious flavor from chocolate. Muffin-like treats, but filling, satisfying, and protein-rich?

This is one of my all time favorite recommendations for clients that need an easy and make-ahead recipe that satisfies their sweet tooth!

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I originally posted it hereit’s such a classic go -to for me and my family and now even my clients love it! 

It’s a simple recipe to make in a blender or food processor, double the batch, freeze the extras and warm them in the microwave when needed!

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I’ll even be sharing + making (and sampling) the recipe next week at our monthly Whole Foods Market | Eat Fit cooking class!

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Chocolate Protein Muffins

Makes: 12

 

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 
½ cup stevia 

2 scoops chocolate protein powder

1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 cup liquid egg whites

½ nonfat plain Greek Yogurt

Cooking Spray


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.

In a blender, grind the oats to a flour-like consistency. Place in a mixing bowl.

Whisk together the ground oats, stevia, protein powder, instant coffee, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add in the extract, egg whites, and Greek yogurt. Blend until smooth. 

Divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until ‘toothpick test’ comes out clean.

Per muffin: 70 calories, 1 gram fat, 200 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugar, 8 grams protein

 

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It’s actually okay if you have two of these babies in one sitting! Especially as a snack! As a dessert, you can keep it to just one.

You might find that these muffins “deflate” or the tops flatten as they cool. And that’s ok, it won’t affect the flavor or texture! But if you want to prevent that, make sure to not over cook them {my oven only needed 15 minutes}. And try to remove them to a wire rack relatively soon after removing from the oven.

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Oh, and what do you know, it looks like my behind-the-scenes helper is going to grab one for herself!

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They’re so tempting that even the little hands in my house can’t get enough!

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Just kidding!

She just didn’t like that I had stacked them, and she wanted to put them “back in their place.”

You think she watches me clean + pick up the house and fuss at the hubby for not picking up after himself.

#proudmommy

 

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! They are a great snack or dessert for you, but they make great gifts too!

Enjoy!

Becca