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I’ve been complaining for QUITE some time now about the state of our mattress, and the state of my back.  I’m just way too young to be in so much pain every morning.  Unfortunately, my husband can sleep on just about any surface with no trouble at all, so my cries fell on deaf ears for months.  He told me in no uncertain terms that our seven-year-old mattress was ‘just fine’ and that any trouble I was having was clearly in my head.  Humph.

Well, one week ago, the man did the unthinkable: he bought a mattress.  After visiting only TWO stores on our first outing to try out mattresses.  SO out of character, right?! We’d gone to church, popped into a store, ran some errands, popped into another mattress store, and just when we should have turned right to go home, he turned LEFT!  When he looked at me and said, ‘Should we just go order it now?’ I thought I was hearing things.

 Turns out, I like super soft mattresses.  I want that ‘sink in’ feeling.  Our old mattress was ‘super firm, which we saw on the label after moving it off the bed.  Go figure.

Andrew came home to receive our new mattress just a few days after we ordered it, and decided to start enjoying it right away.

  It’s almost DOUBLE the height of our old mattress, which is taking some getting used to.  It comes to almost the top of our footboard and I have to hoist myself up each night, but it’s wonderful.  I feel like I have to pinch myself each night as I sink into the bed because it’s too good to be true.  I know my husband, and I thought this purchase was MONTHS away.

Of course, the man who bought a new mattress (relatively unexpectedly) couldn’t possibly pony up another $20 for the delivery guys to take our other one away…so it’s still sitting downstairs, providing hours of entertainment for the animals.

 Between locking the kitties out of the room when we sleep and the new mattress, I’ve been sleeping better than I have in what seems like years, and just in time for my Buffalo General rotation.  5:30 a.m. comes early, folks.

We were on campus again today, which marks the start of our FINAL rotations before we’re finished. T minus 38 days until graduation…it’s getting real, folks. Seriously.

I am, however, seriously dreading my 5:30 a.m. wake-up for the next 4.5 weeks to be at Buffalo General Hispital at 7, but at least it will be the warmest and brightest (well, if spring will ever arrive) of my rotations. 

I spent the last 5 weeks learning the ropes at a long-term care facility (a.k.a. nursing home), and doing what felt like never-ending projects. I researched freelance writing opportunities, wrote blog posts, got involved in the Western NY Dietetics Association, wrote a script for a couple food-related segments for the campus television station (we film next week), made a plan to revamp the blog (more on that later), and wrote a 23-page business plan. And I’m sure I’m forgetting some others. I also had a job at the campus health center and provided nutritional counseling to students on Wednesday afternoons; now that I’ll be at the hospital all day, another student is taking over. We got paid as ‘student assistants,’ but this could lead to an actual part-part time counseling position this fall when we’re actually RD’s. We’ll see.

I think my favorite project this past rotation was my business plan, despite it also having been the most work. I designed a business in which I provide nutritional counseling at a local wellness center and can accept insurance reimbursement. It’s something I could definitely see myself doing. Again, we’ll see.

Hittin’ the hay early tonight, 5:30 comes early…especially when you stayed up the night before watching the season finale of The Walking Dead!

So, this happened:

I was recently featured in the Buffalo News! Being a ‘reporter’ myself, it’s so fun to be on the other side of the interview every once in awhile.  I approached the BN Refresh (their Saturday Health and Wellness insert) editor, Scott Scanlon, awhile ago about contributing some guest blogs, and he offered to feature me in his ‘What Are You Eating?’ section. So far, I’ve contributed the National Nutrition Month blog and an ‘intro’ post on myself, which went live on the BN site yesterday.  I’ve also written a post on our recent Paleo experience, which I’ll send to Scott soon.  I’ll probably contribute a blog about once a month.

While I’m not getting paid for these pieces, I see this as a way to ‘break into’ the health/wellness/fitness/nutrition field.  Writing for the Advertiser is great, but I need to start preparing for what I want to do long-term: freelance writing about food and nutrition.  I’ve started researching writers’ guidelines for various publications and it’s overwhelming to say the least.  My dear friend, Emily (who I’m visiting this weekend), advised me to slow down and try to actually enjoy the process of ‘building my business’ (whatever that may be), instead of focusing on where I want to be and the fastest way to get there.  She’s a wise woman, that one.  It’s such a relief to know it’s OK to take it one day at a time, one pitch letter at a time, one article at a time.

For now, I’m still just plugging along at the projects I have to do this rotation–most of which ACTUALLY pertain to my future as a writer/nutrition counselor–and counting the days until graduation…55.

I realize I’m a little late in the game (like, 18 days late) for this, but it’s National Nutrition Month!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) celebrates NNM each March and uses it as a campaign to educate anyone who will listen about healthy eating.  For those who don’t know, it is AND (through their accrediting arm) that ‘registers’ dietitians.  I’m a member now as a student, and will be an RD in just a few short months!

I actually wrote a blog post for the Buffalo News Refresh section (spoiler alert–I was going to write a separate blog post about that–it will be forthcoming), which will go live tomorrow.  Again, better late than never.

Below is what I wrote, but be sure to check out the Buffalo News Refresh blog (toward the bottom) to see my post.  I’ll have more soon on my blogging opportunities as well.

Also, be sure to check out the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ first Public Service Announcement promoting Registered Dietitians here!

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle

Every March since 1973, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has dedicated time to increase awareness about making healthy choices and increasing physical activity. It began as a week-long campaign and lengthened to a month in 1980. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, also in March, recognizes RDNs as nutrition experts who are uniquely qualified to provide nutrition services to the public.

This year, National Nutrition Month’s theme is ‘Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,’ which encourages everyone to adopt eating and physical activity plans that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.’ Read on for easy, simple ways to incorporate healthier choices into your lifestyle!

Consume Fewer Calories

Weight gain, while influenced by multiple factors, does come down to simple math: if you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Prevent that by finding ways to decrease your calorie intake.

-Consider counting your calories. If you don’t know how much you’re eating, it’s easy to go overboard. Click here to access MyPlate’s Super Tracker.

-Decrease your portion sizes.

-Drink a glass of water before meals and snacks. Often, we think we’re hungry when we’re simply thirsty.

-Start meals with broth-based soups, salads or veggies so you’ll have less room for the higher-calorie options.

-Eat fruit for dessert and keep cut-up veggies in the fridge for snacking.

-Don’t drink your calories. Switch from whole to 1% or skim milk, cut out sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Opt for fruit instead of juice when possible.

Make Informed Food Choices

Knowledge is power. Take charge of your health by being proactive about what you eat.

-Read food labels. Note serving size, calories and fat in each, and limit yourself to that serving size.

-Go the extra mile and learn what carbohydrates, fats and proteins are. Go to ChooseMyPlate for more information about each nutrient and the amounts recommended for you.

-Prepare your meals and snacks in advance so that you’re never caught without a healthy option on-hand to grab when you’re in a rush.

-Look at online menus before going out to eat to find healthier options at your favorite restaurants.

Get Daily Exercise

It’s recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, and 60-90 minutes to prevent weight gain.

-Get a pedometer to track your steps; aim for 10,000 each day. For fun, team up with friends and compete to get the most steps.

-Have a dog? Get out and walk. Other good excuses to get outside include yard work and playing with your kids.

-Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

-Park your car at the far end of the parking lot to increase your steps each day.

-Find an activity you enjoy and do it. Not everyone enjoys running; your strength may be a Zumba class or spinning.

-Meet friends for a walk instead of coffee.

-Winter isn’t an excuse to stay inside—find an activity you enjoy. Snow shoeing, skiing, ice skating and even sledding burn calories, increase your heart rate and are fun ways to take advantage of the season.

For more information about National Nutrition Month, click here.  Interactive quizzes and games are available online here.

First of all, excuse the terrible photo.  I hadn’t intended to blog about these babies, so I didn’t take any photos of the process (I also made them on a Sunday afternoon I was also making a gazillion other things and it was a bit hectic in the kitchen) nor did I photo when they were finished.  It wasn’t until days later when I actually TRIED them for the first time, that I realized how good they were and that a blog post was in order.

I found the recipe for Kale & Quinoa Cakes in a recent issue of the Wegmans Menu Magazine.  I love kale and quinoa and they just looked so darn great in the picture.  Mine, unfortunately, did not come out as pretty, but whatever.  It’s one of those ‘I love to cook’ recipes, designated as such because it involved multiple steps. Before school, I didn’t bat an eye at page-long ingredient lists or elaborate recipes, but I tell you what–since I’ve been in school, any dish that takes more 30 minutes start to finish just makes me want to cry.  I can’t wait to have my life back.  Seriously. (Sixty-four days until graduation.  But I’m not counting or anything.)

But, I liked these so much I decided to take time during one of my Sunday afternoon prep sessions to whip them up.  The recipe isn’t complicated at all; it’s just one of those where you’re grabbing for bowls and spoons and the food processor and more bowls and once you’re finished you wonder, ‘Was that even worth it?’

I’ll be honest, I don’t know if it WAS worth it.  Don’t get me wrong, the flavor was great.  I’m thrilled that I have a whole bag of them in the freezer to have for months to come without any more work.  However, I could easily serve kale and quinoa at dinner and accomplish the dish in a similar fashion.  But, I’ll stop being a humbug and give some praise to the recipe.  It had great flavor and texture and it really wasn’t that hard.  I served the cakes with fish, but they would go equally well with salmon or pork or even eggs for breakfast.  Definitely don’t ignore the tip to serve with Roasted Red Pepper sauce–so good!

Recipe below and linked above.

2 cups  Wegmans Organic Vegetable Broth
1 cup (6.5 oz)  Wegmans Organic White Quinoa (Bulk Foods)
1 bag (16 oz)  Food You Feel Good About Cleaned & Cut Kale Greens
1 container (7 oz)  Food You Feel Good About Diced Mirepoix
1 medium (about 9 oz)  baking potato, peeled, chopped
Food You Feel Good About Large Eggs
2 Tbsp  Wegmans Basting Oil
1/2 Tbsp  Wegmans Sea Salt Fine Crystals
2 tsp  Food You Feel Good About Tuscan Seasoning Shak’r
Wegmans Nonstick Cooking Spray

You’ll Need: Food processor, muffin pans
Directions:

  1. Bring vegetable broth and quinoa to boil in pan on MED; stir. Reduce heat to LOW; cover with lid. Simmer 15 min.
  2. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 min to absorb liquid. Spread quinoa on large sheet pan to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blanch kale in large pot of boiling, salted water, 3-4 min. Transfer to bowl of ice water. Drain; squeeze dry.
  4. Pulse kale, mirepoix, and potato in batches in food processor until finely chopped. Whisk eggs, basting oil, salt, and seasoning together. Add kale-potato mixture and quinoa to eggs; mix until combined.
  5. Coat muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1/2 cup mixture in each section of muffin pans. Bake 35-40 min, until egg sets and tops are lightly browned. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool 10 min before removing cakes.
Chef Tip(s):
Try these cakes paired with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
Nutrition Info: Each serving (1 cake) contains 110 calories, 13 g carbohydrate, (2 g fiber), 5 g protein, 4 g fat, (1 g saturated fat), 55 mg cholesterol, and 300 mg sodium.
Calories: 110

I recently received an email from MyFitnessPal with a link to a stash of oatmeal-inspired recipes.  This immediately made me think of my friend, Stevie, who eats oatmeal just about every morning for breakfast, no matter the season.  The girl is an oatmeal fanatic.  Perhaps even more so than Kath, the RD whose blog inspired me to begin my own journey into the field of nutrition.  But I digress.

So as I perused the list of oatmeal recipe ideas, I came upon these Pomegranate-Oatmeal Snack Cups, for which I already has all the ingredients in the fridge.  It was fate.  I mean, how often does anyone really have pomegranate arils just lying around?

They don’t come out very sweet, which is just fine by me, and are fantastic topped with a little sunflower-seed butter.  These would be a great breakfast or pre-workout snack. Recipe is below and linked above.

Ingredients

Wet
Dry

Instructions

  1. First, preheat oven to 350ºF and spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Then, place banana in a medium size bowl and mash until smooth. Add the rest of the wet ingredients (minus the coconut oil, we will add that very last) and whisk until combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Finally add in coconut oil.
  4. Fill muffin tin about 1/3 to 1/2 way full. Sprinkle additional pomegranate arils (about 1/4 cup) on top.
  5. Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes.

Here’s the nutrition information for each serving (2 muffins):

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 200; Total Fat: 8g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 71mg; Sodium: 464mg; Carbohydrate: 26g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 6g

Adirondacks 

Andrew and I spent last weekend in Old Forge, NY, with some friends of ours.  Paola is a classmate of mine at Buffalo State in the Dietetics program, and she and Mark got married this past fall.  Mark grew up going to his family’s place, called ‘The Hut,’ in the Adirondacks.  Old Forge is about four hours from Buffalo and a destination in both the summer and winter months.  The Hut is on a lake, with a beautiful view from the living room.  It’s a cozy, homey-type place–a few bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen and living room and fireplace.  It’s decorated with very traditional ‘cabin’ decor–bears, ducks, pine trees, wood accents.

We started our trip with lunch at Betty’s, in downtown Buffalo.  So good.  Can’t wait to meet them there again soon!

We drove up on a Friday afternoon and got in just before dinner.  After unpacking and sitting for a bit, we went out for a nice dinner at one of their local favorite restaurants, where we enjoyed great service and great wine.  I had a truly fantastic dish, the ‘Brazilian Pork,’ which combined juicy pork medallions with a mix of black beans, onions, peppers and green chilies with sweet potato fries.  Very memorable.

The next morning, our only ‘activity’ was to go snow shoeing later on, so we hung around until about lunch time.  So nice to just relax in our jammies!

We ate brunch at a local diner, where Paola and I both ordered the buckwheat pancakes with blueberries and pecans.  Also very good.

Here we are, snow shoeing at a local golf course in about four feet of snow–SO MUCH harder than the snow we’re used to around here.  Talk about a work out!  All four of us were glad to be finished as we neared the parking lot.

We spent the rest of the afternoon either napping (the boys) or relaxing on the couch (the girls), channel surfing, reading and writing.  And snacking.  I wrote a blog about National Nutrition Month to be posted on the Buffalo News (more about that later), and Paola and I caught the end of a sappy rom-com once we relinquished control of the remote from Mark, who’d much rather watch golf.

We went out that night to another favorite spot for dinner, where a bunch of us shared some lobster mac and cheese as an appetizer.  I ordered the chili burger–why I don’t know–and ended up eating it with a fork.  The ceiling of the restaurant was covered with thousands of business cards, but we weren’t able to finds Mark’s dad’s, which he put up there years ago.

Throughout the weekend, snow mobiliers where EVERYWHERE.  It was so neat to see them whizzing across the lake, both day and night, and all the machines parked out in front of stores and bars and such.  I loved that even ‘nicer’ restaurants are very casual, especially this time of year, when pretty much the only appropriate footwear is snow boots.

We turned in early that night–must have been wiped out from the snow shoeing–and slept in the next morning.  With the time change as well, we weren’t all out of bed until well after 10 a.m.  After relaxing a bit, running the laundry and cleaning up, we stopped at another local diner on the way out of town for lunch.  My Rueben sandwich was fantastic, and Paola and I got some bread pudding to-go for the ride home.

We had a great weekend and were so thrilled to spend time with our friends in such a beautiful place.  Sometimes you really have to ‘get away from it all’ and just relax.  Between Andrew’s summer trips to Lake Tippecanoe in Indiana and this year-round getaway in the Adirondacks, it makes me want to have something like that for our kids one day.  Somewhere not too far away to call our own, to make memories, and to get away from it all.

One day.

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