Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Coldstone Ice Cream

I just want to start out by saying that I cannot believe summer is already halfway over. I got to enjoy a little time off of work to go camping this week though and I noticed that there were ice cream shops literally on every corner of the town I was in. To be honest, I feel like it's very hard to find a healthy option at an ice cream shop when everything is chocolate covered and dipped in artificial flavorings. But to be fair, there are some ways to make sure that you are not making the worst choice ever whenever you go to these places. I'm a huge fan of the fro-yo shops, however I'm going to focus on Coldstone's ice cream today.

Coldstone used to be a HUGE deal when I was younger. My family never really went to it, but sometimes we would go to it for field trips (I went to a very small school, okay?) and that was one of the highlights I remember.

One of the things that makes this place stand out is that you start out with a plain ice cream and then you pick what goes inside. They fold it right into the ice cream for you so you could make an Orange-Cow-Superman-Moosetrack-Surprise if you really wanted to, however I would not recommend that myself.

So first, let's talk ice cream. There's regular ice cream, sorbet, shakes, hot stone, frozen yogurt, etc. I'm only going to compare ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. I'm going to assume that we all know what ice cream is, sorbet is like a frozen juice, and frozen yogurt is just like ice cream, but contains less milk fat than regular ice cream does. It is also made with a cultured milk rather than cream.

Fro-yo Chooser=Bigger Success
The major difference between these products is the fat content. Ice cream has lots of fat, frozen yogurt has none to some, and sorbet does not have any fat. It is important to watch how much sugar is in all of these desserts though! Sorbet actually has a lot more sugar than the other two products do. So, if it were up to me--I'd say go for the frozen yogurt because it has less fat and sugar and you are also getting extra points for dairy (which has lots of calcium!).

Fun Fact: Ice cream has to have at least 10% milk fat to be considered ice cream, but can have up to 16% milk fat.

Sorry--I couldn't resist :')
One thing to also watch when picking out your ice cream is the SIZE. Coldstone is known for oversizing their portions and seriously-- do not get a Gotta have it because you are having a craving, you will probably feel sick after eating that much. Even though the little dishes look small, they pile on the ice cream (at least they have every time I've gone).

The next part is the fun part--toppings! Now this could go either way. I could load up my ice cream with tons of kitkats and the oh so glorious reese's, however there is a better way to do this. Add some peanut butter, nuts or granola for some protein and add fresh fruit (not pie filling or canned) for some extra energy and flavor. If you are like me, and ice cream just doesn't feel right without a little chocolate, then I would ask for just a little bit of the hot fudge. The candy is empty calories just like the fudge, but the fudge is pretty low cal compared to the candies and it is also fat-free.


1. Look for color...NATURAL color. The more fruits and natural toppings you have--the better!

2. Even if you feel like you gotta have it...your body probably does not.

3. Flavors of ice cream don't really matter as much as what type of dessert you are picking along with the kinds of toppings you get. Be smart about what you are putting into your body and don't let the labels fool you. (:

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Community College Transfer Advice!

As most of you know, I am a dietetics at CMU and I absolutely love it. What most of you might not know is that I just finished my first year there, but I only have 2 more years of school left. Today I'm going to take a little break from nutrition and am going to talk about my experience as a transfer student, dual enrolled student, and things I wish I did/ didn't do. After all, without all of these things, I would not be the student I am today! Hopefully it'll help all of you future/current students out in the process. (:

My Experience:

Honestly, when I was a senior in high school, I was pretty checked out of it and was ready for bigger and better things. I was already working a lot (Mickey D' the dream) and that was one of my only focuses. I talked to my counselor about what some of my options might be and she told me that I could do something called dual enrollment. For those of you who do not know, dual enrollment is when you replace some of your high school credits for college credit. At this point, I wanted to be a special education teacher so I signed up to take classes about that (you can't take your main core classes at this time because you can't take a course already provided through the high school). My schedule my senior year was pretty laid back. I only went to high school from about 9am-noon and then I had an online class and a night class once a week. Not only did this help me to learn how to manage my time more for when I was completely out of school, it helped me to get a head start on learning how to study for college classes, and just learning the campus in general.

Bonus: When you do actually start your freshman year, one of the biggest bonuses is that when your friends are lost on campus, you won't be!

At the end of my senior year, I already had 15 credits under my belt. I also changed my major again to elementary education!! One of the great things about dual enrollment is that your high school pays for the credits. So, I wasn't too upset when the classes I took didn't really count towards anything.

Once I started my real freshman year, I took mostly general education classes (math, English, etc.) and I continued to volunteer in classrooms and such trying to figure out if this is really what I wanted to do. Well, you probably guessed it, it wasn't. I changed my mind from being an education teacher to a dietitian.

Now that I knew what I wanted to do...I had to pick what college I wanted to go to. I looked at schools in Tennessee, Grand Valley, Michigan State, and Central Michigan.  I won't go into details about why I didn't choose the other schools. But I will say that I chose Central because it wasn't too far away from home, the campus is beautiful, and it offered all of the academic help I could ask for.

Things I wish I did/didn't do:

1. In a perfect world, I wish that I knew I wanted to be a dietetics major from the beginning. This would help a lot with what classes I took and knowing where to volunteer and such, but literally everyone changes their mind at some point or another so don't stress if this is you!

Well, I guess I am average
2. When I did decide to transfer to Central, I wish that I was given an exact copy of the classes I needed for my degree (which I probably could've gotten with some digging online) because I could've completed a lot more classes at LCC before transferring. If you are thinking of transferring to a university, please do this! You won't be sorry!

3. There is a program called Early College at Lansing Community College and you can get your associates degree by the time you graduate high school. I really really really wish that I did that because it is completely free!

4. Keep up on your paperwork and save everything. For some reason, I always had trouble getting my transcripts over to the university. I probably sent them about 6 times before it finally worked (talk about a pain in the butt!). Just stay calm and let the people in charge know what you need.


1. Most people recommend going to community college for 2 years and a university for 2 years. But honestly I am glad that I get 3 years at CMU because if I had 2 years, I feel like I would have a year to get to know everyone, and a year to say goodbye. I love having another year in between.

2. Make friends with your counselors and academic advisors. They can help you to find out what you need to do.

3. MACRAO is the greatest thing it. MACRAO is an agreement between community colleges and universities and you can pick what classes you take and instead of a getting a huge checklist of classes when you transfer, you get a stamp and you don't have to worry about anything after this point. (:

4. GET AN AUDIT DONE EARLY. I went and got an audit done about 3 months after starting Central and if I didn't do that, I would be freaking out when it came to be around graduation time. At an audit, they will tell you what classes you have/need to take to graduate on time.

5. Bottom line, I recommend going to a community college. I would not be anywhere near the student I am today if I didn't do that first. It prepares you better than high school does and its like a stepping stone so that you are not just thrown into the mix. (:

Fire up Chips!! Feel free to ask me any questions through my Facebook or Twitter Page (links found to the right).

Thanks for Reading!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wendy's Salads

So today has been a pretty unpredictable one. My windshield wipers decided to go out on a day where it poured and So props to my step-dad for driving my car across town with the vision of Velma with no glasses.

Anyways, I was on my way home from work a couple of nights ago and I stopped at Wendy's to get a quick bite to eat. I noticed that their salads actually looked really good, so I decided to go for it. I remembered reading in one of the nutrition magazines I'm subscribed to saying that the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad is actually a pretty healthy choice so I went for it.

Today, I am going to compare Wendy's salads and make sure that you know how to get the best choice available.

When you are choosing your salad, you can pick a half size or full size--I'm just going to compare the full size salads because if you are going there for a meal that's probably what you will get!

There are 5 choices available:

  • Strawberry Fields Chicken Salad
Bacon, Blue Cheese, Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds, Apple Balsamic Vinaigrette, Onions, Salad Blend and Grilled Chicken Breast

  • Asian Cashew Chicken Salad
Grilled Chicken Breast, Salad Blend, Edamame, Red Peppers, Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette, Spicy Roasted Cashews

  • BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
Fire roasted corn, Bacon, Grilled Chicken, Diced Tomatoes, Salad Blend, BBQ Ranch Dressing, Honey BBQ Glaze
  • Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
Apple Chunks, Dried Cranberries, Grilled Chicken, Blue 
Cheese, Pomegranate Vinaigrette

  • Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad 
Asiago Cheese, Grape Tomatoes, Spicy Chicken Breast, Gourmet Croutons, Lemon Garlic Caesar Dressing 

Here is a quick look at the calories, fat, and protein values:
Strawberry Fields Chicken
Asian Cashew Chicken
BBQ Ranch Chicken
Apple Pecan Chicken
Spicy Chicken Caesar

All of these salads are packed full of protein and most are fairly low in calories. The reason the Caesar salad is so full of calories is because they use a deep fried breast rather than a grilled. The truth is, most of these salads calories and fat come from the dressing. So, if you want to be super prepared-- bringing your own salad dressing would be the best option. However, I'm pretty sure most of us don't carry around a pack of dressing with us wherever we let's scratch that option. Some of the best options that Wendy's has to offer include Pomegranate Vinaigrette, Fat Free French, or the Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette. 

Another reason to love these salads is because they pack them with different types of protein including cashews, pecans, and grilled chicken. They also get creative with adding different veggies like edamame, green peppers, and others unlike what most other fast food joints might add. 

If I had to pick a winner for the healthiest salads I would give it to the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad and the Strawberry Fields Salad. Not only because they are the lowest in calories, but because they have lots of protien, are full of fruits and veggies, and provide lots of antioxidants and vitamins to keep your body going! 

Extra Tips:
  • Leave the croutons-- these are just white bread doused in butter and they will not add very much nutritional value to your salad. If you want an extra crunch try a pack of saltines.
  • Have your dressing on the side or add a little at a time. When it comes to salad dressing, it is better to have too little than too much. Dressing adds tons of flavor and helps us to consume more veggies, but it is also full of extra fat and oils that we only need so much of.
  • Always always always make sure that you get grilled chicken over fried.
  • Remember that fast food is not necessarily healthy food, however you can make the best of what they do have to offer.
Thanks for Reading!

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Nutrition Education: Calories

Do you ever see those people that constantly plan out what they eat and hit exactly what their calorie goal is almost every day? Well, it really is not as hard as it looks! The goal really is not to obsess over what you eat and be tedious in portion sizing and looking up ingredients--it's about being smart and conscious about what you are eating. 
First thing to become aware of is how many calories does your body need in a day to keep it running efficiently? 

What I use to figure out how many calories I need is through a formula called EER or Estimated Energy Requirement. This is the total amount of calories that your body on average will need per day based on your sex, height, weight, age and physical activity. 

The formulas listed are for men and women 19 years or older. 

Women: [(354 – (6.91 X age)] + PA* X [(9.36 X wt) + (726 X ht)] 

Men: [662 – (9.53 X age)] + PA* X [(15.91 X wt) + (539.6 X ht)] 

Ht= height 
Wt= Weight
PA= Physical Activity

Here is a general chart for finding out what your physical activity levels are. 

Physical Activity
Typical living activities
Low Active
Plus 30-60 minutes of moderate activity
Plus 60+ minutes of moderate activity
Very Active
60+ moderate and 60+ vigorous or over 120 minutes of moderate activity

How do I decide if my exercise is moderate or vigorous?
My rule of thumb is that if i'm sweating--its vigorous. However that could mean different things for different people. Examples of moderate exercise could be walking, casual bike rides, playing volleyball with a big group, etc. Vigorous exercise could be considered going on the elliptical, running, soccer, and more. 

Now here's the real question: what if I'm just terrible at math?!
Don't fret! Here is an online calculator that you can just type in your info and it will give you exactly how many calories you will need on average. 

So now that you now know how many calories you need in a day, it is time to figure out how to plan to eat that many!

1. Plan out your day! If you know that you will be on the go all day-- pack a lunch and snacks to go on the road with you. 

2. Don't skip breakfast!! It is crucial that you get your metabolism going because this will help your body process food more efficiently throughout the day. 

3. If you know how many meals you will eat throughout the day, then plan accordingly to split the calories up. For instance, I was allowed about 2100 if i'm going to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks I could save 300 calories for snacks (150 a piece) and 600 for each meal on average. 
Example of a Food Journal.

4. Track your calories! If you don't have time to manually calculate them, there are apps everywhere for that! My personal favorite is (also an app) because it is easy to use and you can even track your exercise. If you don't like this, than just keep a food journal. Write down what and about how much you ate of each item. Not only will this help you remember what you put into your body, it will encourage you to eat healthier!

5. Don't just count calories--make your calories count! Make sure that when you are counting calories you are making sure that those calories are coming from different food groups and have supporting vitamins and minerals in them to keep your body going.

6. If you like to create your own recipes you can calculate its calories by taking the known foods calorie amounts and adding them all up--don't forget to portion size!!
7. Exercise is your friend. Not only will it put you in a better mood, it also allows your body to use up that energy!

8. If you are looking to lose weight, it is recommended to lose about one pound per week depending on how much weight you want to lose. To do this, we are going to have to do just a little bit more math! There are 3500 calories in a pound. To lose this in one week, you will have to divide it by seven. This means that you need to lose about 500 calories per day between exercise and eating less calories (a mix of both is preferable). 

9. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't stress over this. It is to better your health, so if it is stressing you out take a deep breath and just start simple. Look up meals that you eat on a regular basis and make sure that you know the calorie amounts are in those meals... this will give you a better idea for the rest of your day without having to plan excessively.

Thanks for Reading!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Nutrition Education: Food Groups and My Plate

Today will be the second post on my new segment "Nutrition Education". There are so many new education tools out there for people to become more in tune with what their body needs. A tool that most people are familiar with is the food pyramid. You probably remember your elementary school having these pyramids posted all over the lunch rooms. This was created to show the major food groups and to show how much of each of those groups your body needs on a daily basis.

So, how do I use this tool to help my diet?

First of all, you will need to know what a serving looks like so that you can approximate how much you eat efficiently.

I like this chart a lot because it uses well known objects to compare with food sizes. It is much easier to tell you to find a vegetable that is about the size of a tennis ball rather than saying find one serving of veggies.

A very simple way to use this is to break down what you eat and put it into categories.

For oils, spreads, and dressings- you want to use these as little as possible. So keep that in mind when preparing your meal!

That leaves us with 5 main categories: Dairy, Vegetables, Fruit, Meat, and Grains.

In order to keep with these recommended values- separating them into each meal will give you a better idea of how to eat them consistently throughout the day.

For instance, meat and dairy are recommended to have 2-3 servings per day. If you eat three meals per day, this means that you could have a glass of milk and a serving of meat or eggs and you would meet the requirements for these. If you do not eat meat, some alternatives would be nuts, beans, or tofu.

Fruits and veggies want a little more attention in your diet than the animal-based products. It is recommended  to have 2-4 servings of fruit per day and 3-5 servings of vegetables per day. This means that you should have at least one serving of fruit and veggies at each meal. An easy way to add extra veggies in your day is to pack a bag of fresh vegetables to munch on during the day-- or you can add them to your pasta, smoothies, etc. for a hidden boost of nutrients.

Last but not least, are the grain products. Carbs are supposed to be about 60% of your total calorie intake every day. So it makes sense that it is recommended to have 6-11 servings of grains per day. This doesn't have to be just bread--it can be pasta, granola bars, pretzels, cereal and more. Snacking on granola bars and having whole grain toast in the morning will add more servings of grains without much extra effort!

The USDA has come out with a new visual called "My Plate" which helps you to visualize what your plate should look like at every meal. Now I realize that your plate may not like this at every  meal, especially at breakfast. But it is a good building block to start with.

At a dietetics conference I received a Tupperware container that split up the different sections of the plate to show exactly how much of each food group you should have on your plate.

There are tons of ways to incorporate every food group into your diet. Different types of foods such as stir fry, skillets, and sandwiches are great ways to get it all together.

Feel free to mix your foods together! My Plate is used as a guide, it is not something that you have to follow exactly. If you want to add cheese or yogurt to your meal instead of a glass of meal--go for it!

Try an egg skillet for breakfast! Mix together scrambled eggs, spinach, cheese, peppers, onions, or whatever vegetables your heart desires. Add a piece of whole wheat toast and a glass of juice or fresh fruit and you will have tons of energy for your morning!

Spruce up your salad by adding grilled chicken, fresh strawberries or any other fruit, croutons and a glass of milk for a light, well balanced lunch. 

Try a stir fry for dinner with rice, fresh grilled vegetables, a lean protein, and maybe some pineapple. Serve with a glass of milk and you will be all set!

If you eat meals like these while snacking on some fresh veggie sticks and whole grain crackers, granola bars, or other snacks like this your body will thank you because you are now providing lots of vitamins and good nutrients for it to work with!

Thanks for reading!

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