Nutrition Tips to Get You on the Right Path

There is no shortage of information when it comes to nutrition. And unfortunately there isn’t a universal method or diet that will work for everyone either.

You hear about diets like Paleo, Atkins, The Zone Diet, eating for your blood type, etc. Each author will make a sound argument for the benefits of that approach, touting it as the “holy grail” of all diets, while critics will quickly line up to point out all of its pitfalls.

Now I’m not here to decipher or break down the pros and cons of each. Most plans are effective in helping the dieter to consume fewer calories than they burn, resulting in weight loss. But many other factors like genetics, environment, food allergies and daily energy demands will influence how an individual responds to dietary intake.

For example, a weekend warrior training for a triathlon will naturally have a higher need for carbohydrates and overall calorie intake compared to an office worker who hasn’t been physically active for five years. But regardless of individual differences and nutritional needs, the commonalities all people need is consistency, behavior change and an environment for success.

Let’s face it: Change is hard. Especially when it comes to nutrition. But if we start by implementing the right strategies first and foremost, our likelihood of success can only increase. Outlined in this article are three areas to begin with to get you on the right path and on your way to better nutritional wellness.

Weekly Prep

The majority of us have busy lifestyles and need to hit the ground running first thing in the morning each week. This means that gaining control over our food consumption will require setting aside a few hours or so weekly (usually on a Saturday or Sunday) to write out a menu and then shop for and prepare our meals for the week. The idea is to simply make the rest of your week easier by doing a little work in advance. The process goes like this:

▪ Sit down and come up with a meal plan, ideas and needs for the week.

▪ Decide roughly how much of each food you’ll need for the week and generate a shopping list.

▪ Hit the grocery store and, once you’re home, start cooking for the week. Cook the meat/beans, chop the veggies, set up snacks, etc.

You can either choose to prepare all the meals for the week or figure out which meals will be easy to cook just prior to meal time and save them for later. Typically, preparing meals that will need to be eaten during work hours or during busy times of the day when food prep becomes difficult is best done in advance. This usually consists of lunches and two or three daytime snacks.

Initially, this process will take some getting used to, but with time and practice it will become second nature and make a world of difference in terms of your consistency and success.

Create mindless eating solutions

In his book “Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life,” Brian Wansink gives powerful solutions to healthier eating just by making simple tweaks in your home.

A 2015 Syracuse University study in which 230 homes were visited uncovered some interesting statistics based on what was visible on the kitchen counter:

▪ Participants weighed anywhere between 9 and 29 pounds more when they had items like cookies, crackers/chips, breakfast cereal and regular or diet soda on the counter compared to those who didn’t.

▪ Participants who had only fruit on the counter weighed 7 pounds less on average.

Also, how you serve dinner in your home can have an influence on the amount of food consumed. When serving food from the stove or counter, people ate 19 percent less food compared to those who served food “family style” directly from the table. Having to get up and walk is just enough for people to question if they are really that hungry.

Below is a checklist of ways to set up your kitchen and meals for better success. The goal is to achieve at least seven or more.

▪ Salad and vegetables are served before the entrée and starches are brought to the table.

▪ The main dish is pre-plated and served from the stove or counter.

▪ Your dinner plates are 9-10 inches wide.

▪ You eat sitting at the table with the TV turned off.

▪ There are two or fewer cans of soft drinks in your refrigerator at any one time.

▪ Your kitchen counters are organized (not messy).

▪ Pre-cut fruits and veggies are on your middle refrigerator shelf.

▪ At least six single servings of protein are in your fridge: eggs, yogurt, string cheese, tofu, etc.

▪ Your snacks are kept in one conveniently placed cupboard.

▪ The only food on your kitchen counter is a fruit bowl.

These are just a few of the countless ideas that Wansink provides in his insightful book. You can learn more by visiting

Kitchen Makeover

There is a saying: “If a food is in your possession or located in your residence, you will eventually eat it.”

So if you wish to become leaner and healthier, you must remove or minimize foods that aren’t part of a healthy eating program and replace them with a variety of better choices. Here are some examples of what to have and what to eliminate:

Foods to have in

your pantry

Foods to have in your fridge/freezer Foods to eliminate or minimize
  • Whole oats
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Mixed nuts
  • Canned or bagged beans
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Green tea
  • Extra-lean beef
  • Chicken breasts
  • Salmon
  • Omega-3 eggs
  • Real cheese
  • At least four varieties of fruit
  • At least five varieties of veggies
  • Flax seed oil
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Potato or corn chips
  • Fruit or granola bars
  • Regular or low-fat cookies
  • Crackers
  • Chocolate or candy
  • Soft drinks
  • Regular peanut butter
  • More than three types of alcohol
  • Instant foods like cake mixes and mashed potatoes

Source: “The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition” by John Berardi and Ryan Andrews

Minestrone Soup

I was fortunate enough to receive the official cookbook of Thug Kitchen from a friend of mine a few weeks ago. For those of you who aren’t familiar…Thug Kitchen’s philosophy is “Verbally abusing everyone into a healthier diet” or in simpler terms “Eat like you give a f***.”  Whether you find their approach comedic genius or juvenile is beside the point of me sharing.  They simply produce amazing recipes that are primarily vegetable based that will absolutely blow you away!  My first taste was their minestrone soup.  Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of minestrone which made it even that more surprising when I continually went back for bowl after delicious bowl.  And with the weather quickly dropping to bone chilling temperatures, now is a perfect time for you to try it for yourself.  Below is the “PG” rated version in case any of you are offended by “colorful” language…but if not, you’ll want to get a feel for the swagger and attitude they put into their passion. Check them out on Facebook or go directly to their website and get signed up.

Either way try it for yourself…you won’t regret it!

Minestrone Soup – by Thug Kitchen
Serves: 4 to 6


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced into half moons
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large potato or turnip, cut into dice-size pieces
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 can (14.5 ounces) low-salt diced tomatoes
½ cup dried black lentils
7 cups vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup small pasta shapes, like shells or stars or whatever
5 cups shredded green cabbage or kale
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup minced fresh basil
Ground Pepper


  1. Grab a large soup pot and heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until the oninon starts to look golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the potato, rosemary, garlic, pepper flakes, and bay leaf.  Cook for another 30 minutes to get the garlic going.  Add the diced tomatoes and lentils and give it another 30 seconds.
  2. Now, pour in all the broth and let it come to a simmer.  Reduce the heat and let that go at a gentle pace until the lentils are almost cooked but the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.  Next, add the salt, pasta, and cabbage (if you are using kale, don’t add it yet) and keep the pot gently simmering until the pasta is cooked all the way, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your pasta.  (If you are using kale, fold it into the pot after the pasta is all cooked and let that pot simmer for 2 more minutes).
  3. Add the vinegar and lemon juice, stir well, and remove from the heat.  Fold in the parsley and basil and let the pot sit for a minute or two.  Taste to see whatever else it might need, like pepper or rosemary to taste.  Pull out the bay leaf and serve right away.

Sweet Potato Pot Pie


Sweet Potato Pot Pie

Great vegan recipe!  Polenta on the bottom, curried lentils in the middle, and yams on top.  If you’re preparing this recipe in advance to serve latter, try to stagger the steps enough to let the bottom two layers cool fully before you top them with the yams.  Cooling each layer separately will keep the dish from getting soggy from condensation.


6 yams

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


6 cups water

2 cups lentils

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or tomato puree

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon sea salt


3 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup polenta

To make the yams, preheat the oven to 400˚ F, then bake the yams for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until they’re very soft.  When the yams are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into the bowl, sprinkle the salt over them and mash until smooth.  Set aside.

To make the lentils, bring the water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat, then stir in the lentils, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and salt. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are soft and start to break down.  Turn off the heat and set the lentils aside.

To make the polenta, combine the water, oil, and salt in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat to medium-low and slowly pour in the polenta, stirring all the while to prevent lumps.  Simmer, stirring almost constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, until it thickens to the consistency of split pea soup.  Pour the polenta into a large casserole pan and smooth it into an even layer if need be.  Let it set for at least 10 minutes, until almost firm to the touch.

Preheat the over to 350˚ F.  Pour the lentils over the polenta and, if the lentils are hot, let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.  Spoon the mashed yams over the lentils in evenly spaced dollops then gently spread them with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 15 minutes, until heated through.  If the layers are at room temperature before baking, it may take 20 minutes; if you’ve prepared the dish in advance and they’re chilled, it could take as long as 30-40 minutes.

Courtesy of “The Accidental Vegan” – Devra Gartstein

Marinated Tuna Steak

The wife and I had these the other night and they were absolutely amazing!  My five year old daughter thought we were eating steak.  I have to agree they taste very close to it, but much healthier!

Summer is almost over so get these babies on the grill while there’s still time.

(Recipe from





  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 (4 ounce) tuna steaks


  1. In a large non-reactive dish, mix together the orange juice, soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, oregano, and pepper.  Place the tuna steaks in the marinade and turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat grill for high heat
  3. Lightly oil grill grate.  Cook the tuna steaks for 5 to 6 minutes, and baste with the marinade.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or to desired doneness.  Discard any remaining marinade.
  4. Devour!

For the side dish…


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart (sure she’s a convicted felon…by man this is tasty!)


  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 2 spring onions, greens only (reserve the whites) thinly sliced
  • 1 granny smith apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted
  • handful fresh mint, finely chopped

Curry Lemon Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • white parts of spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, black pepper to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add quinoa, return to a boil.  Stir with a fork, reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 – 15 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, curry powder, finely chopped spring onions, lemon and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine cooked quinoa with apples, toasted almonds, spring onions, mint and currants.
  4. Serve cold or at room temperature.  Flavors become more enhanced overnight in the refrigerator.