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Wawa Trip

Going to Wawa is fun and a must-do experience for all people when they visit the Mid-Atlantic region. I love Wawa and look forward to going. However, it is usually a treat since I rarely eat out (because, really, I could make a much cheaper sandwich at home). Wawa in theory doesn’t sound like it would be hard to find healthy foods… but it is (mostly due to the high sodium content of foods).¬†

Kelly’s Guide to Healthier Eating at WAWA:

HOAGIES: Hoagies or sandwiches on 100% whole wheat bread can be a healthy choice if you choose correctly (ie: eliminate cheese, choose lean meats, and eliminate fancy sauces) except for the high sodium content. Ask for low-sodium items and eliminate mustard if you are watching your salt intake:

Meat Turkey, Ham, or Roast Beef 120-135 kcal
Roll Whole Wheat Shorti 220 kcal
Toppings Lettuce, Tomato, Onion 20 kcal
Sauce Spicy Mustard, Yellow Mustard, or Oil & Vinegar 30 kcal, 50 kcal (oil)
NUTRITION TOTALS Calories: 390-405, Fat (g): 5.5-7 (add 5 if oil), Sat Fat (g): 0-1.5 (ham), Sodium (mg): 1680-2320 (mustard), Carb (g): 50, Fiber (g): 5, Protein (g): 28-32

 SOUPS: Soups can be a very healthy option in terms of calories, fat, and vegetable content. Again, the only problem with Wawa Soups is the extremely high sodium content. Always choose a size small:

SOUP NAME Calories Fat (SFA) (g) Carb (Fiber) (g) Sodium (mg) Protein (g)
Chicken Noodle 100 2 (0.5) 15 (1) 820 5
Maryland Crab 70 0.5 (0) 13 (1) 860 4
Minestrone 90 2.5 (0) 14 (3) 670 4
Santa Fe Chicken 100 4 (1.5) 11 (3) 830 5


COFFEE: If you have read my blog, you know that I believe coffee is a healthy beverage, if not consumed in extremely large quantities. At Wawa, stay away from the cappuccinos and fancy coffee-house drinks (even if they say ‚Äúlow fat‚ÄĚ). These products are loaded with sugar, fake additives, and sometimes heavy cream. If you have to have that cappuccino flavor, add a very small amount (1/4-1/2 cup) and fill the rest with black coffee. Add skim milk and a max of¬† 2 sugar packets to your black coffee (I recommend caffeinated or ¬Ĺ decaf and ¬Ĺ regular).¬†

BAGELS, PASTRIES, BREAKFAST FOODS: I do not advise eating the whole bagel, even if it is 100% whole grain. Eat only ¬ľ to ¬Ĺ of the bagel with your meal, and be sure to add in some fruit and protein. Obviously I do not recommend any pastries or muffins, even if they are ‚Äúlow-fat.‚ÄĚ I also do not advise eating any sausage and cheese product, even if it is Turkey Sausage- this is still high in sodium and preservatives and not the best choice (but better than regular!)¬†

HEALTHY SNACKS & MEALS: As far as salads, choose the Garden with low-fat dressing, or eliminate the croutons, cheese, and bacon found in others. Stay away from wraps, they are loaded with calories and are not much lower in carbs than the hoagies. I recommend the fruit bowls, light yogurt, cottage cheese, pita & hummus, or protein pack (fruit & cheese is okay if you can limit the amount of cheese you consume.)


Source of nutrition info: Wawa Website “Meal Builder”

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Soda Tax: Sin Tax or Super Tax?

You may have heard a lot about the so called¬†“soda tax” (Sugar Sweetened Beverage (SSB) Tax) over the past year and be a little unclear as to the meaning of it. Well, the soda tax varies greatly depending on the specific legislation in a community, if they even have it. In general, the soda tax would tax a small charge on each soda, fruit drink, sports drink, and other SSBs. SSBs are the target because they have been identified as the largest contributor of excess (discretionary) calories and one of the main factors in the development of obesity. They contribute no nutritional value except for calories. But, to be clear: the main goal of this tax is to raise money, obesity prevention is a small and unlikely benefit politicians are hoping for (and they do know that this tax will most likely not prevent obesity).

According to Michael Jacobson from the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI):¬†“Beverage companies market more than 14 billion gallons of calorie-laden soft drinks annually. That is equivalent to about 506 12-oz. servings per year, or 1.4 servings per day, for every man, woman, and child.” Just a one cent tax on a 12-oz soda would generate an estimated $1.5 billion annually. Higher taxes would generate more revenue and be more likely to decrease soda consumption (since most people would not decrease their spending if a Coke costs $1.50 instead of $1.49).

A recent study out of Duke University found that a 20% increase on SSB sales tax would result in a daily consumption of 6.9 fewer calories, and 0.7 lbs/yr per person. A 40% tax would generate weight loss up to 1.3 lbs/yr/person. However, the study found that middle income families would see the most benefit from this tax (by benefit I mean weight loss), as high income households are likely to be unaffected by increased prices and low-income groups would wait for sales to purchase or buy generic brands (although I am unsure as to why generic brands would avoid the tax?).

The debate surrounding this topic is prevalent…. some think the government is taking too much control, and where will the taxing stop? You can’t tax every food that “might” contribute to weight gain, and also, who determines which foods are “bad”?? Another argument, which I think is less impressive, is the notion that this tax “disproportionately affects the poor (b/c they buy more SSBs¬†than the¬†higher class). I disagree, only because no one is forcing lower income¬†households to purchase SSBs (and they can purchase Diet soda for a cheaper price if they are really craving soda, or drink free tap water!).

The other argument is that this is one way to generate a ton of revenue and help get our country out of a financial crisis. If obesity is a secondary effect of the tax, fabulous! Then we can save even more money from the healthcare bills associated with obesity. Other pro-arguments say that a 1-2 cent tax really won’t make a difference for people buying soda…… and they shouldn’t be buying it in quantities that would make those 1-2 cents add up to a significant amount. Oh, another thing: most states already have soda and candy taxes, people are just unaware of it. Pennsylvania already has a 6% tax on soda¬†(and some for chips/pretzels) from grocery stores and vending machines. See:¬†to check out your state.

So, it is up to you to decide your stance on the soda tax. I just gave you a small summary of the debate, so I hope you take the time to look into the research for yourself… instead of making hasty decisions or agreeing with your favorite political news correspondent.

Take this poll to express your opinion:


  1. Eric A. Finkelstein, Chen Zhen, James Nonnemaker, Jessica E. Todd. Impact of Targeted Beverage Taxes on Higher- and Lower-Income Households. Arch Intern Med., 2010;170(22):2028-2034. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.449
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Breast Milk is the Best Milk (for babies)

My mother was the President of Wayne-Paoli Nursing mothers way back when my brothers and I were infants. Consequently, I have been brought up thinking that breastfeeding is what I must do when I have children (because my mom nags… I mean encourages…¬†every mother-to-be or¬†new mother about the topic). However, it was only the past few years that I have learned about¬†all the benefits associated with breastfeeding, especially with regards to health and development,¬†and¬†my feelings about breastfeeding intensified.¬†Question: Why am I writing about this in a nutrition blog? Answer: Breastmilk is a major source of nutrition during a critical developmental period

Anyway, at Penn State I was able to take a breastfeeding (BF= breastfeeding, not boyfriend or best friend) lecture series through one of my courses, and then during the dietetic internship we had opportunities to learn about the benefits. Also, I try to keep up on my BF research because it is always a topic of conversation with my older friends and cousins who are having babies.

Here are the basic facts showing why BF is a good choice:

  • On average, women will burn an extra 350-500 calories/day during lactation, and therefore, it is an easy way to help get rid of the extra “baby weight”
  • BF¬†is cheap. If you don’t need to lose weight, the extra 400 calories/day can be supplemented by 4 tbsp of peanut butter, which ends up costing about $0.33/day(assuming 15 tbsp/container, $2.50/container) versus on average $5.00/day for formula (see¬†for a more detailed analysis of all products needed for both options).
  • BF forms a bond between mother and child
  • Many other reasons not really related to nutrition…..

Now, for the nutrition and health-related reasons:

  • Breastmilk contains anti-bodies that formula cannot provide allowing the infant’s immune system to gain strength
  • A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that children (especially boys)¬†that were breastfed for >6 months performed better academically after 10 years than those who were not.¬†Another study also found that children breastfed for >8 months performed higher on verbal and performance IQ tests at ages 7 and 8. (3,4)
  • The previously mentioned study findings could be attributed to the long chain fatty acids that are found in breastmilk (formula cannot mimic) which are critical to brain development
  • Adults who were breastfed have a lower risk of countless diseases and health disorders (gastric cancer, peptic ulcer disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and others).

Because of all the benefits associated with breastfeeding, the World Health Organization recommends that all mothers breastfeed for at least 6 months. If you are unable to breastfeed, do not worry, your child will most likely turn out fine. However, do not discount breastfeeding if you haven’t tried. For more information about breastfeeding, visit La Leche League Int’l:

A final quote to leave you with from the World Health Organization:

“Lack of breastfeeding ‚Äď and especially lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first half-year of life ‚Äď are important risk factors for infant and childhood morbidity and mortality that are only compounded by inappropriate complementary feeding. The life-long impact includes poor school performance, reduced productivity, and impaired intellectual and social development.” (6)


1. Breastfeeding Facts:

2. La Leche League International Facts:

3. Dewey, K.G. Is breastfeeding protective against child obesity? J Human Lact 2003; 19 (1) 9-18.

4. Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-3489

5. Horwood, L. J. et al. Breast milk feedings and cognitive ability at 7-8 years. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2001:84:423-27.

6. World Health Organization. Global strategy on infant and young child feeding. 2002-4;13.10.

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I surprise most people when I say that I am a big advocate of coffee. For some reason, most people I come across are afraid to tell me that they drink coffee and believe I will tell them it is bad for them. Quite the contrary! Personally, I really like coffee and probably drink 12-16 oz each day. While I advocate coffee, I do not advocate drinking copious amounts (more than 3 cups/day) because doing so can stress the heart.

Here are my reasons why coffee is healthy:

  • If it’s black, it is a very low-calorie beverage choice
  • The caffeine in it can actually aid in weight loss and boost the metabolism
  • Studies have shown that heavy coffee drinkers are at significantly lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes than non-coffee drinkers (possibly linked to the increase in metabolism) (2)
  • In men, coffee is shown to be protective against Parkinson’s disease
  • Though still controversial, coffee may be protective against certain cancers possibly due to the high level of antioxidants (and protective against colon cancer because it keeps things “moving” through the digestive tract)
  • Drinking tea and coffee during midlife may help protect against Alzheimer’s and Dementia later in life (3)
  • Coffee helps prevent constipation and keeps¬†waste moving through your system (see colon cancer bullet) which helps keep your digestive system clear

 The caffeine content of coffee varies on the brew style and type of bean, but is generally safe unless consumed in high quantities or consumed by people with pre-existing heart condtions or other illnesses where coffee is not recommended. Research is still inconclusive, but seems to support that coffee consumption does not increase blood pressure long-term. Below is the average caffeine content of coffee beverages (4):

  • brewed: 1 cup (7 oz, 207 ml) = 80‚Äď135¬†mg.
  • drip: 1 cup (7 oz, 207 ml) = 115‚Äď175¬†mg.
  • espresso: 1 shot (1.5‚Äď2 oz, 45‚Äď60 ml) = 100¬†mg

Negative side effects of coffee consumption:

  • Inhibits the absorption of iron (and other nutrients), which can lead to iron deficiency anemia
  • Caffeine in coffee may aggravate pre-existing conditions such as GERD and heart arrhythmias and may lead to dependency
  • In one study, there were thousands of chemicals found in roasted coffee, and 19/28 were rodent carcinogens. However, humans have many protective enzymes against these carcinogens and they may not be harmful (5).¬†

My recommendation:

Enjoy your daily cup of coffee (or two) but do not add excessive amounts of sweetener or half-and-half. Sure, you can use it if you watch the rest of your diet… just don’t be like Manny on Modern Family who adds several sugar packets to one ounce of expresso. Also, be wary of flavored creamers which often contain Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (trans fat)- even if they say they are fat free!!! They also probably contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, so just read the label.


1. ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ Coffee Health Benefits: Coffee may protect against disease. February 2006.¬† Harvard Health Letter. ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ

2. ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ¬†Pereira, Mark A; Parker, Emily D; Folsom, Aaron R (2006). “Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: an 11-year prospective study of 28 812 postmenopausal women”. Archives of Internal Medicine 166 (12): 1311‚Äď6. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.12.1311. PMID¬†16801515.

3. “Midlife Coffee And Tea Drinking May Protect Against Late-life Dementia”. ScienceDaily. January 15, 2009. Retrieved December 20, 2010.

4. Bunker, ML; McWilliams, M (January 1979). “Caffeine content of common beverages”. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 74 (1): 28‚Äď32.

5. Ames, Bruce N; Gold, Lois Swirsky (1998). “The causes and prevention of cancer: the role of environment”. Biotherapy 11 (2‚Äď3): 205‚Äď20. doi:10.1023/A:1007971204469

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Vitamin Supplements

I get a lot of questions about whether you should take vitamin supplements. People are bombarded by the media, friends, holistic counselors, personal trainers, etc. telling them which vitamin or mineral is hot right now and will keep you young looking, prevent disease, help you lose fat, and work other miracles. I’m not saying there isn’t any truth to some of these claims, there is a lot of solid research out there on specific vitamins and minerals being good for certain things. However, the majority of the most compelling research usually compares the difference between people who are deficient (or in the lowest quintile) of vitamin status versus those in the highest quintile. For example, a study might suggest that Vitamin D protects against breast cancer, but that is when comparing women with the lowest vitamin D plasma levels versus those women with the highest. Also, you have to keep in mind that plenty of studies show a world of difference¬†in benefits when comparing a vitamin/mineral in supplement form versus IV infusion (ex: Vitamin C studies), or for Vitamin D, most studies show the greatest benefit through UV ray exposure. Generally, more benefit is seen through high doses via IV or (Vitamin D) UV rays.

So, do I recommend taking vitamin/mineral supplements? The answer¬†depends on each and every person. I can’t categorize all women over the age of 50 and say they all need to take¬†calcium (Reason: Imagine that¬†one lady eats¬†4 yogurts/day,¬†2 glasses of milk, 1 glass kefir, and eats a can of sardines with the bones- she most likely doesn’t need to take excess calcium!)¬†

What I do recommend is having your diet analyzed to determine if you are at risk for being deficient in any vitamins or minerals, and determine if you can easily fix that through diet. If not, taking a supplement may be warranted. Or, if your diet is terrible and you¬† have no plans for changing this (which obviously I don’t advocate and don’t know who would want to keep a terrible diet), a multi-vitamin might be okay once every few days.

Keep in mind taking in high levels of vitamins and minerals can harm you, especially minerals. Some build up in your system and can be toxic and fatal (eg: iron), or taking high doses of one can inhibit the absorption of another (eg: iron and calcium). So, before you start taking 800 mg of folate, speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian to see if there will be any negative reprocussions. You can look to my previous posts about my thoughts on Vitamin C and fish oil supplementation. So that’s my point of view on vitamin and mineral supplementation…. my recommendation (and the recommendation of most RDs): get it through food and save yourself the money!

If you have any questions, would like me to conduct a 3-day diet analysis or to schedule an appointment, please contact me at:

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Everywhere you turn you see them. Everybody gives them to you. You can’t help but make them and get everything dirty while doing so. They make you happy. They are sweet and colorful. Some like them gooey, some like them crunchy. Some like them warm, some like them dipped¬†in milk. There are hundreds of varieties from all different ethnic backgrounds. Your grandmother made them the best, but you’re not so bad at it yourself.

What am I talking about? COOKIES!!!!!!!! (of course!). We are in the midst of Christmas (or “Holiday”) cookie season! In the next week I will be trekking to my Aunt Alice’s in Hellertown, PA¬†for our annual Christmas cookie bake-a-thon. This entails one full day (formerly an entire weekend) where my cousins, aunt, brothers, and I go through over 25 lbs of flour and make hundreds of cookies¬†in over a dozen varieties. So, I know something about being tempted to eat cookies (and especially the batter!).¬†Instead of writing a detailed analysis of the different types of cookies or¬†“healthy” cookies you can make, I think it will just be more informative to put the nutrition information for various cookies¬†in front of you. Because seriously, I don’t know anyone in my family who looks favorably upon a “healthified” cookie (sometimes I do sneak in some whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour without anyone noticing… shhh). Anyway, see my previous post on mindful eating to remind you not to eat too many. But here it is, the hard facts:

Cookie Name
Serving Size
 (cookie- diameter)
Fat (g)
Saturated Fat (g)
Total Carb (g)
Fiber (g)
Sugar (g)
Protein (g)
Chocolate Chip
Sugar cut-out
Oatmeal Raisin
4 ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ
Peanut Butter
White Choc Macadamia Nut
Peanut Butter Kiss
Snicker- doodle
2 ¬ĺ‚ÄĚ
Gingerbread Man
3‚ÄĚ tall
Russian Tea Cake
1‚ÄĚ ball
Chocolate Crinkle
Frosted Bon Bon
1‚ÄĚ ball
Almond Meringue
Molasses Sugar
Lindzer Tart (raspberry)

*Serving size is the diameter of the cookie (usually 1/4″ thick), unless otherwise specified

Sources: USDA Food & Nutrient Database and

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Mindful Eating

Do you eat to live… or do you live to eat? This is a question my brother brought to my attention during one of our many discussions relating to food and nutrition and I think it’s a great one. I think¬†my siblings and I¬†primarily eat to live, rather than live to eat.¬†A lot of our relatives and friends don’t understand this way of life and often respond with: “How can you not gorge yourself with lasagna and homemade cookies when they are right there and are¬†so delicious?!”¬† Personally, I like food, but I have learned to really like healthy foods (ie: I¬†honestly enjoy them- I prefer grilled vegetables over any cut of meat, pasta, mashed potatoes, french fries, etc. I don’t eat them just because they are healthy- I sincerely prefer the taste). I also know that I will have other opportunities in my life to eat cookies, so I don’t need to load up at that particular time. I do like unhealthy foods too… I enjoy cookies, pumpkin pie, ice cream, candy, etc. So, I do eat those unhealthy foods in moderation. I’m lucky that I’m not the type of person that craves junk food and can’t stop eating, but I also know that eating more of anything won’t make me feel any better and doesn’t do anything for me, so what’s the point? Living at college also taught me to buy food on a budget… so I think that really helped me out in the long run. When I grocery shop I don’t usually buy cookies or candy because I see it as just throwing my money away. I could use that $2.50 I would have spent on junk food and use it to buy my favorite Trader Joe’s hummus, or an exotic piece of fruit I haven’t had before. I believe that anyone can train themselves to think this way….. I didn’t do it purposely, but taking nutrition classes and living on a budget really made me think about where I spent my food dollars.

Anyway, back to mindless eating: During our whole existance, humans have always relied on food for survival. It is only recently that food is plentiful, and calorie-dense food is the norm, so most Americans do not have to binge on food when it becomes available…. because it is almost always around. What I just said partially explains the obesity epidemic. Our bodies are built for survival, and our bodies have evolved over the centuries to have a liking for fat and sugar (calorie dense= more energy, more insulation= better chance of surviving) which explains why people can’t turn away cookies, cakes, lasagna, french fries, hamburgers, deep-fried twinkies, etc. There is also research out there showing that humans innately love salt + fat, and salt + sugar (so salt + fat + sugar= a recipe for deliciousness¬†coupled with¬†overeating). This is probably the reason why I love a recipe my friend’s mom made for a dinner party- dark chocolate with dried fruit, pistachios, and Fleur de Sel (Flower of salt= French Sea Salt)- it has all three components.¬†I think she learned¬†how to make this¬†at a William Sonoma cooking class, look it up- it’s always a classy dessert and crowd pleaser.

Again, back to mindful eating… Google “mindful eating” and you will come across dozens of websites and even institutes based on mindful eating. My simplified version of mindful eating encompasses the following principles:

  • Be conscious of what you are putting in your mouth
  • Realize that food is supposed to be nutritious. That is, you should only eat to derive necessary nutrients (fat, carb, protein, vitamins, minerals, etc.). Think of your body as a car, and food and drinks as fuel. You would never pour soda (ie: high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, and acid) into your gas tank, so why the heck would you put it in your body?
  • Food that is healthy and you like the taste of is out there, trust me. You just need to find it. Also, your taste buds adapt, so try eating a lower-sodium diet and you will find that things you once enjoyed¬†¬†(eg: frozen pot pie meals) now taste too salty, same thing with sugar. Also, you will learn to really enjoy eating vegetables if you cook them right and eat them frequently. Anyone who says they don’t like vegetables just hasn’t had them made the right way.
  • Before you pick up that cookie or piece of candy, think: “Is this really going to make me feel better, or is it going to provide me with good nutrition?” The answer is probably no. In fact, after you eat it, you might even regret it and then feel worse than you did¬†before you ate it. If you ask yourself this question before you reach for extra snacks or that second serving of mashed potatoes, you will no longer be “mindlessly eating”, you will now be “mindfully eating”! If you think about it, you’re now using your mind.

The point to this blog is to¬†reinforce the fact¬†that (hopefully) food will always be available to you and you will never need to binge for survival. Understand that eating’s primary job is to provide you with nutrition, but it should be enjoyable at the same time. Be conscious of the food you are putting into your body and ask yourself these questions before you eat something:

1) Am I hungry or will I go several  hours without eating?

2) Is this food I’m about to eat going to provide me with proper nutrition?

3) Do I need to eat a lot of this food to obtain any benefits (eg: Eat a lot of veggies at one sitting to get your servings in for the day- a rare example of when eating a few servings may be okay)? 

4) Will eating this piece of junk food really make me happier and/or feel better than if I don’t eat it? Will I regret eating it after?

5) Do I eat to live or live to eat? How can I change my way of thinking?

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Vitamin C

I find it surprising that so many people still spend lots of money on Vitamin C supplements, because most of these people also drink fruit juice and eat at least one fruit/day. Out of all supplements, I think Vitamin C supplementation is one of the silliest to spend your money on. These are my reasons:

1.¬†¬†¬† If you consume more than the recommended level, you are just going to get rid of it in your urine (kind of like excess protein… to be discussed at a later date).

2.¬†¬†¬†Most¬†people I know taking¬†Vitamin C supplements consume a glass of orange juice, or cranberry juice, or even Hi-C, which are all fortified with 100% your daily value… so taking anything over that will be considered excess by your body. And again, if you eat fruit, it is not worth it.

 3.   Vitamin C is one of the easiest vitamins to get through food sources- even if you eat half of the recommendation for fruit and no vegetables- you are still likely to meet your RDA.

4.¬†¬†¬† There is very little evidence to support the idea that Vitamin C helps to reduce the length and symptoms of the common cold, or prevent it. Using results from a large meta-analysis, researchers¬†determined¬†the only populations where there was a possible therapeutic benefit with Vitamin C supplementation were those¬†people¬†who experience great physical¬†stress on a regular basis¬†(ie: marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers training in the arctic). However, these groups are constantly under lots of oxidative damage and generally benefit from increased levels of antioxidants (Vitamin C is an antioxidant)….. that thought brings me to my next point: don’t be fooled by new products labeled “now with antioxidants!” They probably just fortified the product with Vitamin C. They could label your favorite Hi-C or Fruit punch “Contains antioxidants!” and the label wouldn’t be lying.

5.    Research surrounding other benefits of high-dose Vitamin C are conflicting and not generally supported by experts (regarding cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, etc.). Many of the studies showing possible benefit have confounding factors; for example, people eating lots of fruits and vegetables are at a lower risk of cancer. Is it just because of the Vitamin C, or is it the hundreds of phytonutrients, other vitamins and minerals, fiber, etc???

6.¬†¬† Your body doesn’t need a lot of Vitamin C each day, and many of the supplements contain many times more than you need. See your recommendations below (smokers need more because of the oxidative damage associated with smoking… again, Vitamin C is an antioxidant).

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C
Life Stage Age Males (mg/day) Females (mg/day)
Infants 0-6 months 40 (AI) 40 (AI)
Infants 7-12 months 50 (AI) 50 (AI)
Children 1-3 years 15 15
Children 4-8 years 25 25
Children 9-13 years 45 45
Adolescents 14-18 years 75 65
Adults 19 years and older 90 75
Smokers 19 years and older 125 110
Pregnancy 18 years and younger 80
Pregnancy    19 years and older 85
Breast-feeding     18 years and younger 115
Breast-feeding 19 years and older 120

My recommendation: Obtain Vitamin C through FOOD sources (not fruit juice) and skip the supplements!

Food sources (and juice for comparison) of Vitamin C:

Food Serving Vitamin C (mg)
Orange juice ¬ĺ cup (6 ounces) 62-93
Grapefruit juice ¬ĺ cup (6 ounces) 62-70
Orange 1 medium 70
Grapefruit ¬Ĺ medium 38
Strawberries 1 cup, whole 85
Tomato 1 medium 16
Sweet red pepper ¬Ĺ cup, raw chopped 95
Broccoli ¬Ĺ cup, cooked 51
Potato 1 medium, baked 17

*Red indicates a great source of Vitamin C!

Reference and source of charts:

Higdon, Jane. “Micronutrient Information Center: Vitamin C.” Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Jan. 2006. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.>.
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Beer is high in carbs, right?

There is a lot of talk out there about beer being high in carbs. Please refer to my previous post about my feeling on carbs (they are not the cause of weight gain… but you should focus on eating all natural¬†carbs- fruit, veg, whole grains, and not too many). But that being said, the majority of calories in beer do not come from the carbs, they come from the alcohol! Alcohol contains 7 calories/gram. To compare:

  • Carb= 4 cal/g
  • Protein= 4 cal/g
  • Ethanol (alcohol)= 7 cal/g
  • Fat= 9 cal/g

 So, alcohol is closer to fat in terms of calorie density than carbs or protein. That is why one shot (1.5 oz) of 80 proof Vodka will run you almost 100 calories. Pretty comparable to drinking a shot of vegetable oil!

The carbs in beer are derived from whatever cereal the beer is made of (malted barley, wheat, corn, or sometimes, rice). In general, most beers have fewer carbs per 12 oz. than a glass of milk. The lower the carbs in a beer, the less flavor the beer will have (hence the reason why a lot of people compare drinking light beer to drinking water). But there is a certain point where they cannot decrease the calories in a beer anymore, without eliminating all the alcohol. Here is a brief list of the calorie, carb, and alcohol content of a select few beers: BEER CONTENT BASED ON 12 FL OZ.:

Beer name Calories Carb (g) Alcohol (%)
Budweiser 145 10.6 5
Bud Light 110 6.5 4.1
Michelob Ultra 95 2.6 4.1
Sam Adams Boston Lager 160 18 4.75
Yuengling Lager 135 12 4.4

Source: USDA Nutrient Database,

If you want to know how to calculate calories in your beer, you have to be pretty math-savvy, and need to know the following:

  • mL of alcohol (mL of beer x % alcohol)
  • # mL of alcohol x 1 g alcohol/1 mL alcohol
  • # g alcohol x 7 calories/gram= ________ calories

Example: 12 oz beer= ~355 mL x¬†0.045 (4.5%)¬†alcohol= ~16 g alcohol, 16 g x 7 kcal/g= 112 calories just from alcohol…….. and then you need to add additional calories for carbs (on average, say 10 g carb/beer= 40 extra calories)= 152 kcals in this example beer!

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My favorites at: TRADER JOE’s

Another new blog category came to mind today… I’m calling it “My favorites at: ______”. For this I will list my favorite food items you can buy at a particular store, restaurant, or point of interest (Ball Park, street, town, mall, etc.). So, for my¬†first post in this category, I am writing about my favorite grocery store: Trader Joe’s.

Oat Bran:

For <$2.75 you get a bag of TJ’s brand oatbran that lasts weeks (for one person). This is super cheap compared to other packaged oatbran products and very high quality. Throughout my blogs, you will notice I am a big advocate of Oat Bran (so look for future postings with recipes).

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I keep this frozen in 2 oz. portions so I can just de-thaw, then whenever I am using the oven, I roll this out to make a whole wheat flatbread. Bake for ~8 minutes in a 375 degree oven… and now you have a healthy whole-grain¬†side to any meal! Sooo doughy and delicious.


Seriously, Trader Joe’s has the creamiest and most delicious hummus I have ever tasted- their Original Hummus. This is a great alternative to a dip at parties. Lots of people think hummus is bad for you because it is thought to be high in calories. However, as I try to remind people, calories aren’t the determining factor in what is “healthy”, and hummus is lower in calories than most dips you will have at a cocktail party.¬†TJ’s hummus contains only 80 calories and 5 grams of healthy fat in 2 tbsp.

High Fiber Cereal

TJ’s brand cereal is very cheap compared to other commercial brands, and in general, usually natural and healthy. My favorite are their “High Fiber” varieties- the original is the best to mix into your other cereals to get that added fiber in your morning meal…. but the High Fiber with fruit & nuts also works well on it’s own- it tastes good and is good for you! (~90 calories for 2/3 cup).

Unsalted Peanut Butter (Natural)

Just peanuts. This PB gets some taking used to, but once you try it, you will be hooked. It is very liquidy, but that makes it easier to spread (and use less if on a diet). This is my favorite peanut butter because it has no hydrogenated oil, no added sugar, and no added salt- all natural, all peanuts!

Frozen Unshelled Edamame

Just boil these babies for a few minutes and you have an incredibly healthy snack or addition to any meal. Also known as soybeans, Edamame is very high in healthy fat, fiber, folate, thiamin,¬†Vitamin K,¬† and protein. TJ’s gets it right when judging price, prep, and taste of the product.

Dark Chocolate

I don’t advocate eating lots of dark chocolate, but for those of you that want¬†something sweet after a meal, this is for you. TJ’s has numerous varieties of dark chocolate, and they even sell one bar for less than 30 cents! Their chocolate is high quality and pretty cheap.

These are just a select few of the items on my shopping list when I go to TJ’s (usually weekly). There are dozens of other products I buy there,¬†because TJ’s has fair prices and they offer many healthy products.¬†If you haven’t visited a Trader Joe’s, I highly recommend it- it is quite the experience. Be sure to bring you re-usable bag and stop by the back to try a free sample of coffee and food of the day!


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Vegan Protein Sources Everyone Should Try

Clarification: VEGAN means no animal products are in the food (that is, no dairy, no fish, chicken, pork, beef, gelatin, and in some strict vegans, no honey).¬† The definition of VEGETARIAN varies greatly depending on if one is¬†¬†lacto-ovo-vegetarian (eats dairy and eggs), pescatarian (eats fish products), or flexitarian (a¬†new term that doesn’t mean much-¬†surveys show that most Americans believe they are flexitarian, or¬†¬†“occasionally eat meat”- but it still means you are a carnivore). Flexitarian is usually defined as a mostly vegetarian diet, but you can consume chicken, fish, or other lean meats occasionally. This is a good goal for people to strive for, although, I do recommend that people eat fish a few times each week.

I would call myself “flexitarian” if I wanted to be trendy and label my eating style.¬†When I was at school I was¬†pesca-lacto-ovo-vegetarian except for the few weekends I woud be at home where my parents cooked meat. So, during college and grad school I became very familiar with cheap vegan food items (since I was on a limited budget and didn’t¬†feel like¬†buying raw meat and cooking it just for myself). Thus I learned to cook unique vegan protein sources and use them in recipes. Below are a list of a few that I used regularly to add protein and nutrition to meals, along with helpful websites to find out more info on the products.

TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)

A very cheap dried form of soy protein. Rehydrate and add to any meal without adding flavor.

Seitan or Wheat Gluten

Dr. Blair at Penn State introduced me to this during my Global Foods Class. You can find these prepackaged at Whole Foods or any healthfood store. However, I recommend making your own with wheat gluten flour, chicken broth, garlic, and any other spices. Follow the recipe listed here: then use just as you would beef (bake, stir fry, grill, etc.). Very high in protein, but for all you gluten-phobes, you may want to stay away.


Tempeh is higher in fat than tofu, but even more delicious and nutritious ( It is fermented soybeans, but don’t let that dissuade you. You can find pre-packaged in the refrigerator sections of most healthfood stores.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a wonderful product because it is an excellent source of B12 for vegetarians. Vegetarians often become deficient in Vitamin B12 b/c it is mostly found in animal products. You can add this to popcorn to make it taste cheesey, add a little butter to make a cheesy tasting sauce, or add to anything to add a spicy and cheesy flavor. (


Of course I have to write about Tofu! This food product is made from soybeans. Firm varieties make a great addition to stir fries, or you can marinate in BBQ sauce and grill. Be sure to press out all the excess moisture before cooking. Use silken tofu in smoothies or to reduce the fat content in dips and cheesey recipes. (


An ancient grain that is high in fiber, protein*, and other essential nutrients. It is kind of like cous cous but way more nutritious. *See my note below

Quinoa and Soybeans offer a complete protein– many people I come across don’t believe that vegetarians can get enough protein or any¬†high quality protein in their diets.¬†Well, if you plan on becoming vegetarian, I recommend researching complementary proteins and making sure you eat enough of each type throughout the day (contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to eat rice and beans at the same meal). Also, eating quinoa and soy is very similar in protein quality to meat and contain all the essential amino acids that make up a “complete protein.”

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Fish oil, worth the hype?

Over the past two years everyone has been bombarded with hearing “fish oil” and “omega-3’s”. So, why all the hype?

Fish oil contains 2 omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA) that your body cannot make on it’s own. The body can only make these important fatty acids from ALA, which is found in foods like flaxseed and nuts. However, the % conversion of ALA->EPA->DHA is limited. EPA & DHA are incredibly important to your body because they are integral in the makeup of the brain, the retina of the eye, regulating cell & cardiovascular function, growth & development, etc. So… if you are deficient in these important omega-3’s, you may suffer serious consequences.

Most people think fish oil is just beneficial for those with cardiovascular disease. While most of the evidence points to this relationship, there are numerous other uses for fish oil. In many studies, taking fish oil has shown to lower triglycerides, improve cardiac function and reduce risk of sudden death, improve brain function (eg: dementia, alzheimer’s), help improve depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, RA, protect the kidneys, preventing visual decline related with age, along with other benefits.

The bottom line is that most studies point to fish oil being beneficial for the body. Even though I am young and healthy, I still take one fish oil tablet each day for all the benefits associated. I¬†do¬†consume a generally¬†healthy diet, but there are¬†some weeks I don’t consume enough servings of fish (or¬†ALA)¬†to get the recommended amounts of DHA & EPA. I always advise getting nutrition from food instead of supplements, but when it comes to the omega-3’s, it can be quite the challenge even for the healthiest of eaters¬†(and cost $$).

DOSAGE: For people with CVD, fish oil dosage can be upwards from 1-6 grams a day. The recommendation is to consume 500 mg of EPA & DHA/day, which can be met by 2 servings of salmon/week or 3 servings of rainbow trout. The content of omega-3’s in fish can vary greatly (15-20%), so my recommendation is to try to consume at least 2 servings/week of fatty fish.

If you can’t consume the recommended amount of fish each week, I recommend you speak with your doctor to decide whether you should start taking a¬†supplement, and if so, how much. Be aware that there are negative side effects with taking fish oil as it can interact with other meds, and too much can cause excessive bleeding and even increase the risk of stroke.

NOTE: Be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any new supplements.


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A blurb on eating and exercise

Many people work out most days of the week but never lose a pound. One reason could be because you are replacing fat with muscle (muscle weighs more than fat). Another plausible reason is that you think you burn more calories than you actually do and are overcompensating by eating too much.

If¬†you just hop on an elliptical for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity, chances are you don’t need your pre- and post- workout meals or sports drinks. Sure, you shouldn’t exercise in the afternoon after not having eaten all day…. but you certainly don’t need to fuel up and re-fuel after as if you ran 15 miles.


  • If you are on a calorie-restricted diet, consume carbs before a workout to spare your body from breaking down muscle for energy.
  • Drink water during workouts lasting <90 minutes (unless you sweat excessively or the workout is extremely intense- then sports drinks may be appropriate)
  • After an long and intense workout with resistance training, consume a carb-protein snack/meal in a 3:1 ratio (Whole wheat sandwich with 2 tbsp peanut butter)
  • If you are exercising everyday and still gaining unwanted weight, re-evaluate how many calories you are ingesting

You may need to work with a dietitian if you are still unable to estimate your calorie needs, calorie intake,¬†and daily energy expenditure. I do not recommend following the “rules of thumb” calorie estimates, such as “100 calories burned for every mile run” or “600 calories burned for every hour of spin.” These estimates are usually based on a 150-lb person and the calories vary significantly depending on the intensity of the exercise (eg: running at 8 mph vs. 4 mph). So, if you are 5’1″ and weigh 105 lbs, you most likely do not burn anywhere near the estimated calories for these activities. Then again, if you are 6’0″ and 300 pounds and go all-out during an hour of spinning you could be burning close to 1,000 calories in an hour.

If you are interested in learning about your specific needs, please contact me and we can set up an appointment where I can tell you your average daily intake of calories, the calories you burn each day, and how many calories you need (+ meal ideas) to reach your weight goals.

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Sweet Potatoes

I decided to start a new category called “Fruit or Veggie of the Week.” The reason for this is to get everyone educated about all the fruits and vegetables available to consumers, inspire you to try something new, and perhaps find a new favorite recipe. I highly recommend stopping by Gentiles Farmer’s Market in Newtown Square, PA to see the wide variety of unique and interesting produce. Everytime I go there I try to find something I’ve never had before and then research ways to eat it.

For my first post, I have to focus on my all-time favorite food: Sweet Potatoes. I don’t just like these root crops because they are nutritional powerhouses, but I have liked them since I was a kid for their sweet and delicious flavor.

ABOUT: Sweet potatoes come in all sorts of colors and varieties (over 400!) from purple, beige, to the most common orange and brown fleshed. They are loaded with antioxidants (beta-carotene), phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory agents, and are excellent for blood-glucose control in diabetics.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SWEET POTATO AND A YAM? Sweet potatoes are often incorrectly labeled “yams.” Yams are very starchy, dry, and¬†not very sweet root crops native to Africa and can grow to enormous sizes…¬†not commonly sold in the US. Most likely you’ve¬†eaten sweet potatoes and not yams.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE: 1 small potato, baked w/ skin (77 g):  95 calories, 0 g fat, 22 g carb, 3 g fiber (1 g soluble, 1.5 g insoluble), 2 g protein, 262% (DV) Vit A, 4% Thiamin, 5% Riboflavin, 12.5% B6, 28% Vitamin C, 4% Folate, 13% Copper, 26% Manganese, 9% potassium

KELLY’S FAVORITE COOKING METHOD: Wash and scrub sweet potato, prick a few times with knife or fork. Wrap in tin foil, and put on baking sheet (potato will leak syrup). Bake in a 350-400 degree (I usually just throw in whenever I am baking something else, to be more energy efficient), and bake for 1 1/4- 2 hours until super soft and syrupy. These will be so sweet when baked you don’t need to add any sugar or anything. You can add cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice… and pecans if you like. Make sure you have some fat (>5 grams- preferably mono-unsaturated) with your meal for optimal absorption of vitamins!


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