Category Archives: nutrition

Food synergy: Why whole foods are better than processed

Egg and veggies

Nutrition is not a vacuum. Just as we are more than a combination of hair and eyes and feelings and job titles, a nut is more than a fat source and some fiber. An apple has calories and anthocyanins, this is true, but it is also made up of a sort of magic that nutrition scientists are yet to understand. Over and over again researchers confirm that there is more benefit to eating whole foods than what can be explained by their constituent parts. Eating whole foods in their original form provides a unique benefit that factories simply can’t duplicate. No matter how good their marketing team is.

Food synergy: Looking at whole foods rather that individual nutrients or relying on processed foods

A few examples of marketing tricks to distract us from just eating real food:

  1. Processed cold cereals  that are “now high in protein”
  2. Anything made from “enriched white flour” which adds back less than 1/4 of the original nutritional value
  3. Fiber bars with added supplemental fiber like chicory root that doesn’t actually have the same effects as dietary fiber
  4. Low carb snacks or diet drinks that are either full of extra fat to make up for being low in sugar or brimming with chemical artificial sweeteners that aren’t inert in biological affects

I’ve work with gastric bypass patients several years after their surgery. It concerns me when we review their meal plan and it continues to consist of protein bars and processed energy shakes. Right after surgery, shakes and bars can be a very simple way to ensure portion control and manage a queasy stomach. Using these highly processed items indefinitely, however, is depriving them of much needed whole food healing powers. Over use of supplements also doesn’t help us learn how to cook or encourage us to find whole food snack options. There is a reason Irma S. Rombauer wrote The Joy of Cooking instead of the less-sought after The Joy of Tearing Open a Cliff Bar– learning how to cook with whole foods is also vital energy for our soul.

I have also counseled athletes and Crossfit goers who seek weight loss and muscle gain. A Crossfit enthusiast is no fool- they are typically educated, knowledgeable about nutrition, and a badass in their own right. It isn’t easy to haul 100 plus pounds straight over head ad infinitum or, more likely, ad exhaustion. A boost in protein using a whey or soy shake after a workout is fine fodder for the muscle-seeking Crossfit dynamo due to their increased protein needs. But I was shocked to discover just how many people are reliant on multiple supplements while still lacking basic cooking skills. What I am not flabbergasted to learn is that supplement overuse seldom helps to shed that nagging layer of fat that hangs on for dear life despite intense workouts and calorie deprivation. What is missing is the little bit of synergistic magic from whole foods.

Nutrition science is still in its infancy. When modern medicine was a toddler in the 18th century, the pseudo-scientific idea of phrenology was all the rage. By now we understand that the shape of our noggins has little to do with our intellectual abilities. This is to say, we can’t always believe everything we hear about nutrition in the news right now. We are still making discoveries and unlearning “facts” that didn’t quite pan out. For example, the Dietary Guidelines now recognizes dietary cholesterol as a more minor offender than previously thought. Oops.

But as far as I’m concerned, one thing we know for certain is the synergy of food provides a certain power processed food could never contain. It is easier on our blood sugar, fights inflammation, protects our brains from free radical damage, keeps our blood vessels flexible and healthy, and is overall useful in decreasing chronic disease risk. By eating foods in their unadulterated form, by snacking on the banana and ounce of nuts over a peanut butter flavored food product, you’ll also be consuming less preservatives, chemicals, and toxins. Our bodies will certainly better respond to our pleas for vitality.

After all, synergy is life.

Ideas to increase whole-foods in our diets:

1.Make your own granola bars

2. Choose a whole grain, oatmeal, or barley hot cereal instead of a processed cold cereal

3. Increase the nutrient density of any salad, soup, or cereal by adding fresh seeds, nuts, bran or wheat germ, or fresh berries

4. Choose to snack on hummus and fresh fruit or veggies over ranch dip and crackers

5. Learn to cook basic and easy meals from scratch

6, Look at ingredient labels- almond butter can be just almonds and sea salt or it can include hydrogenated oils. Choose foods with fewer ingredients- always

7. Toss fresh cut peppers, cucumbers, or a handful of spinach to ready-made meals to add nutrient density

8. Snack on fruit and Greek yogurt instead of Skinny Cows

9.  Cook one ancient grain in bulk every week and include 3/4 cup with meals

10. Make smoothies with fresh greens and frozen fruit

xoxo Joanna

Awesome and healthy, high protein pancakes

I voted today!

This morning at 6:55 am to be precise. Dr. P announced last night that he would be slithering out of bed at 5:45 to make it to the polls when they opened.

I am not an early riser, and I figured Lady and I would just stay in bed until 7:30, my usual time, and hit up the polls after work. No worries, extra time to sleep…

I mean, who wouldn’t want to just keep snugglin’ with this Lady Bird if they could?

Lady Bird

But then the alarm went off. Dr. P slid out, Lady squirmed and barked, and my eyes excitedly popped open.

It’s voting day, baby. I had underestimated my enthusiasm to see this election come to a (successful) close. I couldn’t resist throwing on my beanie, boots and new Chinese Laundry puffy coat and joining my man for our civic duty. Walking up, we took wagers on how long it would take to get through the line. I said an hour, and Dr. P guessed “just around the corner”. Here’s the scene as we approached the local firehouse polling station: Continue reading Awesome and healthy, high protein pancakes

Quick Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Looking for a terrific add-on to your typical lunch options?

I’m obsessed with the one I scarfed down today. It had everything I look for in a quick lunch:

  1. Delicious
  2. Healthy
  3. Fast
  4. Did I say delicious?

I was in between walking the dog, making patient calls, and mentally prepping for my friend’s birthday party tonight when the clock struck noon.

My stomach growled. My dog stared at me.

I’ve barely been to the grocery. We spent last week in New York and the weekend before that in Baltimore. And there was an event almost every night this week…What is a girl to do when there’s no obvious lunch choice?

Luckily, I opened my fridge, and this is what I saw: Red Pepper Sauce ingredients

I can work with this, I thought. There is no ailment a good sauce can’t cure!

And this was certainly no schlep of a sauce- it was delicious! Sometimes we surprise ourselves.

It’s also low sodium and high in protein. Double win.

The tomato and red pepper also packs a good amount of lycopene- a strong antioxidant- so this is one healthy sauce. No need to heat it, either, which means the miconutrient content will be well preserved.

It blended up in a minute, and I poured it over leftover quinoa, precut broccoli, carrot/cabbage slaw, and kimchi that I mixed and quickly heated up on the stove beforehand.

I topped it with slivered almonds and enjoyed while typing patient notes and making my dog insanely jealous.


Other ideas for use: Add to pasta, use as salad dressing, use as a dip for crackers or fresh veggies, top baked fish and rice…endless options.

This stuff rocks.

Easy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Prep Time: PT2 M

Total Time: 2 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Easy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce


  • 2 heaping tbsp. Greek or Siggi's yogurt
  • One ginormous or two regular sized store-bought Roasted Red Peppers
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce (I used sriacha but use based on preference)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil


  • Add all ingredients to blender. Press button. Rock on.
  • No need to heat it up! But you can if you like. I ate it raw over hot quinoa, kimchi and veggies, and it BLEW MY MIND.
  • Enjoy!



8 ways to improve our diet…today

Hiii! Happy hump day! Wednesday, guys!

Which means we’re another day closer to the Suicide Squad release. Yes! This weekend also happens to be my 32nd birthday- how’d that happen?

To ensure another 32+ years of health for all of us, I wanted to share some quick tips on how to promptly improve our diets. This is a visual I put together for a lunch and learn talk with my Aunt’s company. I’ll let it speak for itself.


Continue reading 8 ways to improve our diet…today

Chickpeas + Fiber Highlight

Chickpeas- aka garbanzo beans- are finally getting some credit. With hummus making a dash from the foodie to the mainstream scene, more and more of us are dippin’ and divin’ into chickpea bliss.

But these magic little beans are still underrated. We could use them way more than we do to add protein and fiber to dishes  or healthy snacking. They are vitality dynamos and so super easy to use!

They are also delicate on our bank account. Buy them canned and pre-cooked for less than $1, and dried beans are the cheapest form of protein per ounce.


Bodacious Tip: Buy a bunch of cans when they are on sale. Make them a kitchen staple and a great last minute meal protein option.

In addition to being inexpensive, they also rule because they are loaded with fiber, potassium, and iron. Many of us occasionally have trouble taking a poo. Admit it. There are days we are like, What is going on down there? This clog is worse than DC traffic!

Inadequate fiber and water at play here? I think yes, sir.

Continue reading Chickpeas + Fiber Highlight

Nutrition highlight: Kiwi and food waste talk

The kiwi is one pretty fruit. It photographs so well!

Would be aesthetic addition to a potluck dish!

It also reminds me of the rad neon green eyeliner I thought was all the rage in high school (srrrrsly, not good judgment there!).

So I bought a whole bucket of kiwi last week, and I needed to get creative in order to use it all up.  Food waste has become a big issue in this country, so I didn’t want to contribute to this stinky problem. According to a report by UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI), 30-40% of the food in America’s food supply is just dumped into landfills yearly. That is ~1 in 3 calories!

Continue reading Nutrition highlight: Kiwi and food waste talk

What an RD eats in a day

Healthy-LunchRachel from Accidental Athlete is a sweetheart. I met her walking to the metro one windy weekday morning. She was on her way to do a corporate wellness presentation and her sunny disposition was immediately contagious. She handed me her card, and I made sure to follow up with her and connect. Love chance meetings!

Her own personal health journey is inspirational, with some ups and downs, and she is now a pillar of strength and femininity. I was complimented and more than happy to oblige her when she asked me to do a guest post on her blog. It was super fun and one of the reasons I decided to start writing more often! Special thanks to Rachel for letting me take up a bit of space on her online home, if only for a brief moment in time.

Check out the guest post here.  Nom noms!

Bodacious Take Away: There is no one right way to eat- vitality has many faces. Find what works for you.