As I mentioned a few weeks back, I am competing in my first powerlifting meet tomorrow. I am nervous but also looking forward to it. I’ve spent this week training pretty light, stretching a lot, and trying to get as much sleep as possible so I can go in with lots of energy and minimal anxiety.

I decided to compete in this meet about two months ago and since then I’ve made some adjustments to the way I eat, especially when it comes to my protein intake. Protein is always important, but perhaps even more so when you strength train with heavy weights. I work particularly hard to make sure I am eating enough of this macronutrient.

High Protein Oatmeal | Healthy Green Kitchen

Though I previously wasn’t that big a fan of protein powders, I have found them to be nothing short of essential as of late: without supplementing with some protein powder on a daily basis, I simply don’t eat enough protein to meet my current needs. Right now I am eating about 110 grams of protein a day (this is 1 gram or protein per pound of my body weight).

Does this mean I think everyone should be supplementing with protein powder? No, not at all. While protein at or near the amount I am consuming may be useful to you, the amount of protein you need and whether or not protein powder is right for you depend on the context of your lifestyle and activity level, not mine.

{Ah, context. Such an important concept when it comes to matters of nutrition. We don’t all inhabit the same body nor do we live the same life (obviously!), so “one size fits all” nutritional recommendations really don’t make sense, do they?}

I like this recipe because I can quickly mix up 4 individual servings. Then I can grab one from the fridge in the morning and add a little more milk and maybe some fresh fruit (in these photos I’ve used pomegranate arils) before I head out to the gym. The lid makes tucking one into my purse super easy.

I don’t usually put my recipes through a nutritional calculator but just for kicks I decided to do it this time. The calorie and macronutrient breakdown of this overnight high protein oatmeal recipe (without any fruit or anything else added on top) comes out as follows:

For each serving (presuming 4 servings), approximately:
300 calories
10 grams fat
34 grams carbs
24 grams protein

I think this is great because there’s almost 1/4 of my protein requirement right there.

This recipe was inspired by Refrigerator Oatmeal from The Yummy Life. I used short 1 cup glass canning jars with plastic lids to make this recipe.
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cinnamon rolls in pan | healthy green kitchen

On the weekends, my husband and I try to take our dogs for a long walk on both Saturday and Sunday. Last Saturday was really rainy so there was no walking or much of anything else (we stayed home and watched 3 movies instead!), but on Sunday we were excited to hit our favorite trail. It was a gorgeous day with an decidely fall-ish chill in the air; the foliage is pretty spectacular this time of year so it was great to be outside in the midst of it.

hike with dogs

hike with dogs

hike with dogs

Before we left, I made some cinnamon rolls for us to eat on the way and for my kids to munch on once they got up (there seems to be no convincing our teenagers to join us on our weekend walks these days as they’d rather sleep in…surprise, surprise). I wasn’t really looking for gooey, super sweet cinnamon rolls; rather, I wanted something satisfying, but not too decadent. These honey and greek yogurt glazed cinnamon rolls were perfect.

I used Jovial Organic Einkorn Flour in the dough, and added honey both to the dough and the glaze.

flour and honey

The dough mixes up quickly…

dough and toes | healthy green kitchen

and doesn’t need any time to rise since there is no yeast.

dough on counter | healthy green kitchen

The brown sugar filling can be doubled if you are looking for a sweeter treat.

dough and filling
dough and filling cut | healthy green kitchen

(This recipe was inspired by three sources: Quick Cinnamon Rolls from Once Upon a Chef, Vegan Cinnamon Buns with Chocolate and Figs from Laura Wright for Baked The Blog, and Honey Buns from Martha Stewart. If you want to make a slightly different quick cinnamon roll that’s also gluten free, try my buckwheat cinnamon roll recipe.)
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It’s been a few months since I published a Friday Shares post, but I have lots to tell you about today, so let’s get right to it.

1. I wrote an eBook! It’s a mini cookbook called Fresh and Flavorful: Sauces, and I had great fun putting it together. You can find out more about the book and buy it here.

2. I had my first print article published! It’s an editorial called Changing Perspectives and it appears in the Fall issue of Edible Hudson Valley Magazine. You can read it here.

3. I am training for my first powerlifting meet! I have been strength training for exactly 2 years and while competing is not something I ever thought would happen, I signed myself up for a meet that will take place two weeks from tomorrow. Wish me luck :)

deadlifting550
Photo by Kelli Nielson

4. I am enrolled in a professional sports and exercise nutrition certification program. As some of you know, I have a degree in naturopathic medicine, but I have not worked with private clients in some time. When I am finished with this certification, I plan to start working with clients again as a nutrition coach: I am really excited about this. I may also get certified as a strength coach in the not-too-distant future :)

Ok, that’s enough about me and what I am up to. Here are some links to other “stuff” I think you should know about:

Miscellaneous:

Learning to Love Criticm (The New York Time)

Are Anti-Vaccinators Stupid or Disingenuous? (Gawker)

Why I Hope to Die at 75 (The Atlantic)

Why I Stayed, Why I Left (Smith Bites)

Here Are 4 Problems that GMO Labeling Won’t Solve (Grist)

The Problem with Home-Cooked Meals (Vox)

Recipes I want to make:

Cauliflower Kale Chickpea Curry Pot (The First Mess)

Masala Chai (A Brown Table)

Apple, Rosemary, and Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (Adventures in Cooking)

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Skillet Brownie (Country Cleaver)

Of note for those who are gluten free:

The Gluten-Free Girl Flour Blends Campaign on Kickstarter

Let Us All Eat Cake: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Cakes (I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher and it’s beautiful!)

Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed (This is a cookbook by my friend Silvana Nardone which I’ll be posting about soon.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kraft. I am being compensated to share my experiences with their product; all opinions are 100% my own.

chicken raspberry salad 2

I adore salads and while I eat them just about every day, I rarely make the same salad twice. There are so many options when it comes to nutritious salads! In this post, I want to show you how you, too, can be creative with salads, and how you can make a salad substantial enough to be a meal. I also want to tell you about a new favorite salad that I “discovered” this summer.

When you make a salad as a main course, you’ll generally want to start with some sort of greens. One to two cups per person is a good amount to shoot for, though of course you may use more. Depending on the season and what looks good in the garden/at the market, here are some ideas:

Red or green leaf lettuce
Arugula
Watercress
Romaine
Endive
Frisee
Radicchio
Escarole
Mixed (mesclun) greens
Spinach
Beet greens
Kale (remove tough stems)
Collard Greens
Napa cabbage

Chopped herbs such as cilantro, parsley, mint and basil can also be added, as can wild greens (aka “weeds”) such as chickweed, purslane, and dandelion greens. Occasionally I use these instead of using any of the greens in the list above. (Greens should be very fresh. It’s best to rinse them in a bowl full of cool water, swishing around to remove dirt and other debris. Repeat with fresh water if necessary. Dry in a salad spinner or rolled in a kitchen towel to remove all moisture, then chop or tear and place in your salad bowl.)

Next, add 1-2 cups of any combination of the following, chopped into bite-sized pieces, or any other raw or cooked vegetable that’s not on this list that you like (roasted vegetables are terrific in salads).

Broccoli
Cauliflower
Celery
Cucumber
Tomato
Carrot
Radishes
Summer Squash
Winter Squash
Beets
Jicama
Fennel
Sprouts
Mushrooms

Next, I add smaller amounts of one or more of the following:

Chopped avocado
Olives
Raw or toasted nuts/seeds (some of my favorites are almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews)
Chopped apples, pears, sliced stone fruit, and/or whole or sliced berries
Raisins or other dried fruit, chopped or sliced if necessary
¼ – ½ cup cooked rice, quinoa, millet, or another grain

If the salad is indeed going to be the main part of your meal, definitely add some protein* which could be:

Cooked tofu or tempeh
Cooked beans
Chopped soft or hard boiled/poached eggs
Sliced cooked grass-fed meat, poultry, or wild fish
Cubed or crumbled cheese (some of my favorites are cheddar, feta, Fontina, and goat cheese)

*People’s protein needs do vary based on their size and activity level. I try to eat quite a lot of protein because I work out with weights and I am training for a competition right now, so I really load my salads with the high quality protein sources I mentioned above. I suggest becoming familiar with the amount of protein that you need each day: this will help you add the appropriate amount of protein to your salad.

Dress the salad with 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing per person. I generally use olive oil and some balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to dress my salads, but sometimes I prefer something different. In that case, I may venture into homemade creamy dressing land (I enjoy buttermilk and yogurt-based dressings). Or I may reach for one of the bottled dressings I keep in the refrigerator when I want to change things up in a pinch. Though I used to stay away from bottled dressings as a rule, this is something I have relaxed about lately because I enjoy some of them and they make up a very small part of my diet.

I made the grilled chickensalad you see in these photos with organic Romaine lettuce (2+ cups), 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/4 cup raisins, 1 chopped grilled chicken breast, 4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, and 4 tablespoons chopped raw pecans. I dressed it with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing. It was so tasty!

Change up your dinner routine with Kraft. Visit KraftRecipes.com for great recipes and meal ideas, featuring Kraft. Because food deserves delicious.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kraft. The opinions and text are all mine.

When the folks from Silk asked me to write a post about a healthy living topic, it didn’t take long for me to figure out what I wanted to say. I’ve had the most wonderful summer, you see, and that’s due in part to a healthy habit I’ve been building. So I want to tell you about that habit, and talk about building healthy habits in general.

Are you dying to know what the habit is? Do you think it’s perhaps something super special or extraordinary? Honestly, it’s not: the habit is taking my dogs for a walk everyday. So simple, but for me, it’s been really powerful and transformative. That’s the beauty of healthy habits: they can be small, but life changing.

I’ve always loved walking. And by always, I really do mean always: growing up in New York City, walking around different neighborhoods was one of my favorite things to do. As I got older, and traveled and moved around to different places, I continued to “pound the pavement” as often as possible in order to learn about the areas in which I was spending my time. And in my twenties I also did a lot of hiking and backpacking: I discovered that I adored exploring nature on foot.

Thinking back, I believe I was still walking quite regularly until about 5 years ago, then things started to change. I had two really big dogs at the time who got plenty of exercise running around our yard. And I had two kids who kept me busy doing what young kids do. So the walks became less frequent…much less frequent…and soon they weren’t happening much at all.

Enter Ozzie, the puppy we brought home this Spring. The girl’s got some serious energy! No matter how much we play in the yard, no matter how much she runs around with my older dog Jake, she’s still got tons of gas in her tank. For a while, I was at my wits end with how hyper she was…until it dawned on me. We needed to start going for walks! And sure enough, I’ve found that getting her out for a good long walk really helps to calm her down, and it’s been a great way for us to bond.

But the walks aren’t just good for Ozzie…turns out Jake loves them, too. He’s nearly 10, but all I have to do is say the word “walk” and he runs out to the car, eager to get going. He had gotten a little overweight in the past few years, and especially since his buddy/my dog Jezebel died last summer, but walking everyday has really slimmed him down.

And then there’s the way I feel about the walks: I LOVE them. At first we started walking for 15 minutes just a few times a week, but then on the days I wasn’t walking, I felt like something was missing. So the walks became an everyday thing, and they go longer, and now I can’t imagine it any other way. I love being outside, moving, for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2+ hours (the 2+ hour walks happen on the weekends, when my husband joins us). I love having time to think without other distractions. Sometimes we walk in our neighborhood, but more often we hit one of our favorite trails within 15 minutes driving from our house. And I didn’t set out to do it, but I’ve lost a bit of weight- about 5 pounds- from all this walking, too.

Lake Minnewaska- pictured in these photos- is one of my favorite places to go. It’s not too far from my house and while I am sort of embarrassed to say that I’d only been there a handful of times before this summer, I’ve made up for that now- I think I’ve been there more than 20 times in the past 2 months! There’s a trail around the lake that takes us about an hour and I try to take the dogs there a few times a week. I like going there in the evenings when it’s cool and there aren’t too many other people….it’s really beautiful and I enjoy feeling as if we have the whole place to ourselves.

So…how did I go from not walking much at all to walking every day for a minimum of 30 minutes, and sometimes much more? How did I build this healthy habit? I focused on the following:

1. I started small, by walking down my block a few times a week. It’s best to to start building a habit by making a tiny change, one that requires very little motivation.

2. I took note of the positive things that resulted from our walks, and these were incentive for me to go more often, for longer. Focusing on the benefits you receive as you build a habit, no matter how small, can help you stay motivated.

3. I ditched the all or nothing mentality: I know that a 10 minute walk is better than no walk, and that no walk isn’t the end of the world. Aim for consistency, not perfection..

4. I am preparing for setbacks. I know that when it’s no longer summer (when my schedule will be more full and the weather may not be cooperative), I may not want to walk as often. When setbacks happen, don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge that you’ve taken a step backward, then keep moving forward.

Thank you to Silk for giving me the opportunity to reflect on how I’ve built a new healthy habit. I hope this post inspires you to create a new habit, whether it’s related to eating, exercise, or some other aspect of your lifestyle, too: healthy habits are absolutely essential to a healthy life.

Related reading:

Healthy Green Kitchen: Small Steps

Zen Habits: The Four Habits that Build Habits

Lifehack: 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.