There are 22.6 million posts on Instagram using the hashtag #plantbased. And millions more if you combine other hashtags for plant-based food (i.e. #plantbaseddiet #plantbasedmeal #plantbasedrecipe…you get the point). At my grocery store, shelves seem to be transforming weekly with new plant-based choices that didn’t used to exist.
I say “Bravo!” to more plant-based options because you all know by now (as I’ve said it before), we as a population aren’t getting enough fruits and veggies in our diet. BUT fruits and veggies aren’t the only thing we aren’t getting enough of. Dairy products are on that list too (milk, cheese and yogurt), which puts us in quite the conundrum. With new plant-based dairy options in the marketplace, right beside those familiar foods we are used to seeing, is it common knowledge that they are nutritionally different?
Here's why I ask. The perfect example fell right into my lap a couple of weeks ago, or rather right into my grocery cart. My online grocery order came with a substitution for the yogurt I normally purchase. I ordered a whole-milk vanilla yogurt. And the substitution that was chosen for me was a vanilla almond milk yogurt. A vegan, dairy-free, gluten free, soy free “milk yogurt”, according to the package.
I could have turned down the substitution when I picked up my groceries, but I was so intrigued by it (Why would they give me a dairy free sub for a dairy item? Do they not know the difference?), and I was too lazy to go in and pick something different if we are being real, that I opted to accept the sub, compare the nutrition, and give it a try.
You are on the edge of your seat awaiting my thoughts. I can tell.
Let’s talk nutrition facts first. I’ll let you have a look at the differences here:
Siggi's Whole Milk Vanilla Yogurt (serving size 1 container 125g):
Cal: 130, Total Fat 4.5g, Sat Fat 3g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 20g, Sodium 60mg, Total Carb 11g, Fiber 0g, Sugars 8g, Protein 12g, Vit A 4%, Vit C 0%, Calcium 10%, Iron 0%
Kite Hill Almond Yogurt (serving size 1 container 150g):
Cal: 160, Total Fat 10g, Sat Fat 0.5g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0g, Sodium 10mg, Total Carb 22g, Fiber 2g, Sugars 18g, Protein 3g, Vit A 0%, Vit C 0%, Calcium 4%, Iron 2%.
While there are several differences in the nutrients, personally the three that impact my purchase decision the most are these: sugar, protein, and calcium. While Siggi’s is lower in sugar, high in protein, and a good source of calcium, the plant-based option disappoints on all of these. In a slightly larger container, the almond based version is over twice the sugar, one quarter the protein, less than half the calcium.
That makes this plant-based substitution very different from a nutrition perspective. And nowhere near an adequate substitution for me personally.
One thumb down from me for nutrition.
I know what you’re thinking. Maybe what it’s lacking nutritionally, it will make up for in taste! I’m sorry to say that’s not the case either.
Make that two thumbs down.
With sugar as the second ingredient (and coming in at 18 grams per serving), it was too sweet for me. I did like the vanilla flavor, but the sweetness was too overpowering…and then there was texture. It was runny, kind of like a melting milkshake and my banana slices sank right to the bottom. For comparison, my spoon will stand straight up in my favorite yogurt. I am giving it the benefit of the doubt that it could make a great smoothie ingredient given the texture and sweetness.
At the end of this experiment, my takeaway is this: All yogurt is not created equal.
Items placed side by side on shelf, doesn’t make them equal. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that “Other products sold as “milks” but made from plants (e.g., almond, rice, coconut, and hemp “milks”) may contain calcium and be consumed as a source of calcium, but they are not included as part of the dairy group because their overall nutritional content is not similar to dairy milk and fortified soy beverages (soymilk).”
Did you hear that? Their overall nutrition content is not similar to dairy. While some substitutions may be a better fit for your diet or lifestyle, make sure you know what nutrients you’re looking for, not what hashtag they fit into.
My tips for you this week: read package ingredient statements, use the nutrition facts panels to look at nutrient content, and don’t allow substitutions for your favorite yogurt when you order groceries online (ha ha!)! You never know what might end up in your cart!
Thanks for stopping by! While we’re on the subject, what’s your favorite yogurt? I’m a Siggi’s #fangirl myself and they’re not paying me to say that. It's just that delicious in my book.
You need to know this about me, if my birthday falls on any day besides the weekend, I’m a “birthday week” kind of girl. (Birthday month, is a little too extra for me, just so we are clear on where I stand.) In my opinion, you can’t truly celebrate your birthday on a Wednesday. It’s just not fair. It’s a work day. And it’s a bit boring.
So, this past weekend I kicked off my birthday week. Saturday evening, I had friends over to watch the Razorbacks play baseball, eat barbecue, and really just hang. We watched our kids play. We ate chips and dip. Talked. Caught up. Had birthday cake! It was all so nice (except the part where we lost the game). But nice enough to make me think, “Dang, we don’t do this enough.” And then wonder why. “Why don’t we do this enough?”
The next day, Father’s Day, was a break in my birthday week. You other mid-June babies know what it’s like, having to share your birthday week with a Dad or husband. So, anyway, it wasn’t my day. It was his and I let him have it. Sort of.
What I actually did on Father’s Day was say “yes” a lot. “Sure, that sounds great.” “Yes, let’s do that.” But I also said yes to myself. At lunch, I said “yes” to a mimosa and a brownie sundae (#birthdayweek)! After lunch, I said “yes” to a nap on the couch. And then a movie after the nap. After dinner, I said “also yes” to leftover birthday cake. You guys, it felt amazing and a little weird because I don’t say “yes” as often as I should. Especially to myself.
I decided a few months ago to approach this birthday the way I approach life in general. With a list. On this list, you’ll find things like “take a girls' trip" and "have more 'yes' days” because, in the words of one of my favorite artists, “you just get so many trips 'round the sun, yeah, you only, only live once.” Thank you, Kacey Musgraves.
This list is about growing, learning, connecting, having fun, and knowing that life is short, y'all. Who is going to push me to do more and be more if I don’t push myself?
So here it is. In no order. My 40 things…before I turn 40!
I am looking forward to this year and forty more if I am so lucky. I’ll leave you with this quote that I am in love with right now: “When you’re on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.” - Paulo Coelho
Cheers to my birthday, more "yes" days, and finding your path!
If you asked my friends to describe me, I can guarantee the word “festive” would come up. It’s my second favorite F-word. (Fun is the first, come on.) Every holiday and every season is clearly labeled inside a Rubbermaid tub in my attic. Except for Christmas. That one is clearly labeled in about 12 Rubbermaid tubs in the attic and three tubs in the guest room closet because I am just that extra. In addition to holidays, I love themes, birthdays and truly any excuse to celebrate! And by celebrate, I mean decorate or travel. Those easily give me #allthefeels.
Another word that would probably come up is “organized”, and if you asked my best friends, sister, or husband I wouldn’t be surprised at all if “easily overwhelmed” made the list.
These traits that make me, well…me - came in super handy for our latest vacation. Take festive, fun, and the need for organization, shake it all around in a Yahtzee cup and pour it out into a single trip. Add one birthday, some matching t-shirts, and a sprinkle of magic dust. And, Ta-Da! You’ve got yourself a trip to Disney World. Sign. Me. Up! And pass me some Mickey Mouse ears while I plan it!
Only here’s the thing. I had never been. Neither had my husband. Cue overwhelmed feeling. Where exactly do I start?
Luckily, we have friends who have been and there’s also this thing called the internet where about one million blog posts and articles exist for planning such a trip. You can find pack lists, tips and tricks, and more than you really care to know about planning a trip to the happiest place on earth.
If you’re a hands-on learner like myself, a lot of the advice, tips, and blogs likely won’t mean much until you experience them for yourself. But I’ll take a chance that you’ll keep reading in hopes that I can explain it in a helpful way. Here are my top 10 rules to help you with planning your next Disney World vacation:
That’s it. Follow these rules and you’ll be in a great spot. At the end of the day, the fun outweighs the lines. If you are an old lady about theme park rides, like me, the joy outweighs the fear.
The walking overrides the calories (Disney calories don't count)!
And the pictures and memories, those are priceless.
Have a magical vacation! Thanks for stopping by!
My husband laughs at me for always grabbing what I call a “snack for the road” as we head out the door. Maybe it is a little bit funny but it’s also practical. Part of my obsession with having snacks at my fingertips comes from knowing how I act and feel when and if I get too hungry. “Hanger” is real. The other part I would say is a “Mom thing.” When kids are little, their little bodies need to eat more frequently (with their small tummies), so I ALWAYS made sure I had snacks with me when our daughter was little! I remember cups of cheerios in the diaper bag, a squeeze pack of applesauce in my purse, crackers in the car and honestly, I’m still that way today. At this moment, I have a package of pistachios in my purse and a package of almonds and some crackers in the glove compartment of car. My desk at work – same. Oatmeal, nuts, peanut butter…and my favorite spare can of Diet Dr. Pepper. All there if I need them.
I know I’m not alone. According to the International Food and Information Council’s (IFIC) most recent survey, most consumers are snacking at least twice a day. Government data, looking specifically at teens, shows this age group is getting 24% of their calories from snacks (up from 14% in 1978). We are snacking, our kids are snacking, we’re replacing meals with snacks…it’s a whole thing.
Data available from NHANES supports American’s increased snacking habits.
There is even data on what we are snacking on. According to NHANES data, the majority of our snacks come from the following categories: alcoholic beverages, sugar-sweetened beverages, savory snacks, candies, cakes/pastries/pies, fruit and fruit juices, dairy desserts, nuts/seeds, cookies, and milk/milk drinks. I see room for improvement here!
If you peek into my pantry right this minute, what you’ll find is most likely several items that fit precisely into the categories mentioned above. You might also find it’s a bit of a mess. A few times a year, (Spring is perfect), I take everything out and toss things that are expired or stale and organize it by shelf. I am always up for cleaning and organizing, and it is the perfect opportunity to look at what I’m buying, what my family is eating (or not eating), and where we can adjust – for health, budget, and food waste prevention.
Here are things I think about when buying snacks or snack supplies:
If it’s time for you to Spring clean your pantry, those are my questions that may be helpful for you. Can you focus on fruits and veggies, watch out for added sugars, and find foods your family will enjoy! Don't be afraid to try something new!
If you need some inspiration, try these simple swap ideas.
There are so many simple swaps we could talk about! I would suggest to take it one snack at a time. Find some swaps that work for you and focus on foods that you love to provide the nutrients your body needs.
As always, thanks for stopping by! Happy Spring (almost summer) cleaning!
I have a terrible memory. It’s on the list of things I wish I could change about myself…BUT I’ve figured out how to make do with this brain that I’ve got. For me, writing things down (especially stories) really helps my memory…and maybe that’s one of the reasons I love writing so much.
After my Mom passed away, I found a scrapbook she made showcasing my elementary school accomplishments. Taped inside to one of the yellowing pages was a handwritten note that said this, “MOM I CAN’T HELP IT BUT I LOVE YOU”. It was written in all caps without any punctuation on what used to be my favorite stationary that my grandmother had given me.
I am not sure if my love of writing started with that blue and black cat stationary or if it just correlated with learning to write, but either way, my first profound quote as a writer came in first grade. “MOM I CAN’T HELP IT BUT I LOVE YOU”. I don’t remember writing that sweet note to my Mom. I don’t remember if I wrote it for Mother’s Day. Or wrote it just because. Or maybe I wrote it because I was grounded and stuck in my room with nothing to do but write? But what I do know is this. No matter the relationship we have with our mothers, we love them. It’s beautiful. And summed up adorably by a first grader, we can’t help it, it’s the way things are supposed to be.
Even though it’s been almost ten years since I heard her voice, I can recognize and appreciate some of her strengths that I truly couldn’t see before I became a Mom. I am grateful for the lessons she taught me then and the new things she is even teaching me now.
She always used to tell me, “everything happens for a reason”. This was her “go-to” phrase when I came to her with a problem and often times, even when I didn’t. During my parents’ divorce, I heard this phrase. As a tearful teen with a broken heart and through harder times as an adult, these were always her words. This phrase that’s followed me my whole life. I see it now as wisdom.
I recognize now what she was saying all along. You have to have faith, sweet girl. No, life isn’t fair. No, life isn’t always kind. For the negative experiences life brings your way, there are 100 positive ones. Without challenges, how do we build character? Can you know what true love is without feeling what true love isn’t? For all the pain and suffering and sadness you will experience there’s usually another season right around the corner filled with smiles and laughter and if you are so lucky, a cup of coffee on a back-porch swing on a Saturday morning with your Mom.
As I encounter new challenges that I don’t understand, her words ring loud in my ear. Everything happens for a reason. Have faith.
And I do.
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite Mother’s Day quotes and my favorite verse on faith.
Happy Mother’s Day! I hope it's filled with joy and laughter and a day of celebration for that Mom you can't help but love.
Dear eighteen-year-old me,
Congratulations. You’re an adult! And adulting is so. much. F.U.N! You can vote. Make your own decisions! (And your own mistakes…so, careful.) You’re about to go to college, travel, meet a billion new people, and get a little homesick at times. It’s all a blast; so, do the thing. Be young. And take it all in.
We’ll talk more about the fun stuff later, but for now, I’m going to bring it down a notch. I know your brain is still developing and your capabilities to plan and process long term goals is limited, but I need to tell you something super important (and a little depressing #sorrynotsorry).
Your body won’t be its best self forever. SO not fair, I know! You are predisposed to bad joints and heart disease. (Didn’t you hear me say it was depressing.) You will develop osteoarthritis before you’re even 40. You will start to lose muscle in your early thirties. (Not just you, though…it’s a fun perk of aging for everyone.) You will throw your back out one Christmas Eve, just trying to take off your pants; see previous sentence about muscle loss for explanation.
Your body though. It’s the only one you’ve got. Love it. Treat it kindly. Celebrate it. Use it. Move it daily. And know this: The BEST exercise - is the one you will do.
You will try (and despise) the following things: Billy Blanks Tae Bo on VHS, Zumba, tennis, regular yoga, Ariel yoga, and running. All these things hurt your knees (see bad joints above). Oh, and climbing/repelling. That one doesn’t end well, since apparently you are afraid of heights.
You will meet people who introduce you to hiking and canoeing, and you will fall in love with those things (and those people). The outdoors is your happy place. Go outside a lot. Walk in the sunshine (but wear sunscreen). Smell the flowers, see the sights, and know that some of your best memories will be places your feet will take you that a car never could.
You will one day figure out that if exercise is not fun, you’re not doing it right. It should not feel like punishment. And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it. It’s ok to find something different, try something new, and to keep trying until you find the thing you love. Because it is out there.
It should make you feel strong, healthy, and you should look forward to it - daily.
A more mature version of yourself
What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Self-care is just the tip of the iceberg of things I would talk about to a younger me. In a semi-related rant, I might tell her that comparison is the thief of all joy. The things that your body is capable of is different than your neighbors. I would share some wise words that I learned from my friend (ok, she’s a famous author, not a friend) Jen Hatmaker: “Run your race.”
This could be literal. As I actually tried running races. And it was not a good fit for my body. But mostly it would be figurative. And I would preach to a younger me that what’s most important is what’s most enjoyable for you.
It took me a long time to find ways to stay active that I love. Some days that looks like walking around the block with my daughter, husband and our golden retriever or walking by myself with a podcast plugged into my ears. When the weather is nice, it looks like a planned hike or bike ride. But most days it is scheduled time at a local Barre studio. I love how every class is different. I love how every instructor is different. But most of all, I love how I feel after each class (endorphins!). I am truly enjoying being kind to my body, taking care of my body, and I love how strong I am.
One of my goals as a Mom is to teach my daughter that exercise is about taking care of your body because it’s the only one you’ve got. It’s not punishment for food intake. It’s not to penalize yourself for the way your clothes fit.
It’s really to celebrate what your body is capable of.
Research says that exercise can protect your heart and improve your health. But what research doesn’t say is what the best exercise is? I don’t think we need research to tell us that the BEST exercise, it’s the one that we will do.
This week, I challenge you to do something kind to your body. Enjoy your workouts. Celebrate what your body is capable of. And if you haven’t found something that you enjoy, keep looking. It’s there. Find what motivates you. Not your neighbor. Any movement is better than none.
As always, thanks for stopping by.
Breakfast for breakfast. Breakfast for brunch. Breakfast for lunch. Breakfast for dinner. We eat breakfast any time at my house. One of my favorite recipes that’s easy, simple, and delicious is one that can be done several ways! What started out as my mother-in-law’s quiche recipe has become my favorite frittata recipe.
Depending on what sounds the most delicious to you, try my Vegetarian Frittatas any way you like:
Nutrition callouts – these are an “egg”cellent source of protein and choline! And a good source of calcium!
Expecting mothers, did you know that choline plays a role in brain development during pregnancy and infancy? And according to recent research, 90% of expecting mothers aren’t getting enough choline! In 2017, the American Medical Association recommended choline be added to prenatal vitamins. Head over to the Egg Nutrition Center for more information on choline and cognition.
Link over to the recipe section of my website for this delicious recipe here!
Thanks for stopping by!
"Alexa, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?”
“Alexa, set a timer for 35 minutes.”
“Alexa, find a recipe for stuffed bell peppers.”
“Alexa, remind me to order groceries online, Thursday evening.”
If someone had told me 10 years ago, that I would be using a speaker in my kitchen as a personal assistant, controlling my crock pot from a phone application, and ordering groceries from my phone and having them delivered to my house, I would most likely have laughed and asked what color my flying car might be and if the dishwasher could put away the dishes too?!
While we’re still a long way from flying cars and dishwashers smart enough to unload themselves (I guess that would be robot?), I am pleased with the technology available in today’s kitchen. One of my new year’s resolutions was to “Be more tech savvy.” My tech accomplishments thus far include the following:
I’m averaging one new technical accomplishment a month and it's only April!
I will admit that online grocery shopping has grown on me. While I have encountered a few challenges, there are several things I love about it. If you’re on the fence about trying it out or if you’re interested in learning more because it’s coming to your area soon, I will happily share my “Yays and Yucks” from my personal online grocery shopping and delivery experiences.
I have truthfully had more “Yays” than “Yucks” and am looking forward to the rest of year and honestly what the next 10 years of technology will bring -- not only to my kitchen but to my online shopping experience. If you have any tech savvy tips, please send them my way!
For your reading pleasure this week:
I’m a rule follower. For me, life runs more smoothly when I have routine and rules.
If you’re a fan of the show Friends, you should know that Monica Geller is my spirit animal. One of my favorite Monica quotes is “Rules are good! Rules help control the fun!” I am here for this statement. As a rule-follower by nature, I tend to put rules in place; sometimes to help control the fun but honestly for me, they help control all the things. Maybe it’s just a “Monica” thing?
When it comes to meal planning, I have a few rules that work for my family. According to Hartman, four in ten consumers don’t look forward to deciding what’s for dinner. With a few rules and a simple formula, meal planning for me is a little easier and a lot more enjoyable. If you’re like Monica and you like rules too, read on for my top three!
My “go-to” sides are these:
Carbs or Starchy Veggies
Now that you have my secret formula, feel free to share it and personalize it. I do add in dairy and fruit as it fits with the meal or recipe and I love to experiment with new recipes on the weekend when I have more time.
So, there you have it. Simple, balanced, and convenient for the win.
See, rules do help control the fun! The fun of meal planning, that is.
Thanks for stopping by!
Disclosure: I'm a registered dietitian for Tyson Foods, Inc. but the opinions I share on this blog are my own.
What’s your earliest memory for learning an important number? Mine is Kindergarten when I proudly brought home two perfect cutouts: a house and rotary phone, proving to my parents, that I had memorized our home phone number and address! As a matter of fact, I still have those cutouts in a scrapbook AND for the record, still know both those numbers by heart! (and I haven’t lived in that house since 1989!)
I have always liked numbers. Maybe I had great math teachers or maybe it’s how I’m wired, but I love the problem solving aspect of numbers. My favorite thing to do when I worked in a clinical setting, included calculating tube feedings and TPN (total parenteral nutrition - a fancy acronym for IV nutrition) for patients. On any given day at my current job, you can guarantee my calculator is within reach.
Whether you like numbers or not, we start early in life learning important ones. Even if you’re not a math person, there are plenty of numbers you need to know. Here are a few I would like to share, and BONUS: there’s not a math test at the end, but there is a call to action.
1. My first number. Did you know heart disease is currently the #1 cause of death for both men and women in our country? NUMBER ONE. That is so powerful. And so close to home for me.
120/80. I bet you guessed this one. It’s the normal range for blood pressure. The upper number (systolic) should be less than 120 mm Hg, while the lower number (diastolic) should be less than 80 mm Hg. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure and many don’t know because a lot of the time people aren’t showing any symptoms. If left untreated, high blood pressure (hypertension) can damage your arteries, heart, brain and kidneys.
100. That’s my next number. Any guesses on what that is? Less than 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) is the “optimal” level for LDL in healthy people. What is LDL? Is that the good type of cholesterol or the bad one? LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol and stands for low density lipoprotein. HDL (high density lipoprotein) is considered the “good” type of cholesterol and ideally, you want this number high. An easy way to remember LDL versus HDL is L=lousy for bad cholesterol and H= happy for HDL.
58. My final number. This is the age of my mother when she passed away from a massive heart attack, almost ten years ago. Fifty-eight is shockingly young and devastatingly sad.
Knowing my family history, especially my Mom’s story, along with my training as a dietitian has encouraged me to know these numbers by heart and focus on things that I can control, like diet and exercise. Annually, I have my blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked and I listen to my body and see a doctor when I know something isn’t right. Numbers are only a part of the puzzle and can change over time as we age. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle including eating a healthy diet and staying active are just pieces of the puzzle.
In October of 2018, cholesterol guidelines were updated by a working group composed of several experts in the field of cardiology. While the previous recommendations focused on very specific ranges for cholesterol numbers (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides), this updated set of guidelines focuses on “bad” cholesterol levels with an emphasis on keeping LDL as low as possible AND a review of overall lifestyle exposure including risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. These updated guidelines are meant to help doctors personalize your care.
If you’re concerned about your heart health, my tips around this topic are in sync with the newest recommendations:
The numbers that I am focusing on this week involves dollars for fundraising. On Saturday, my family and I will walk in the AHA Heart Walk to remember my Mom. Every year, I raise money to support this organization and most importantly to support research that’s needed to change these numbers. Walking in the heart walk has become a part of the healing process for me and a way for me to make a difference in my Mom’s honor and in her memory.
If you want to know your personal risks, follow up with your doctor. If you’re looking for additional resources, try some of these:
My call to action is this: I challenge you today to get to know your numbers and your risks by heart (pun intended). If you already know them, can you do something new this week to change them for the better?
As always, thanks for stopping by.
Take care of yourself; it’s the only self you’ve got.