Kathy LaBella RDN, CDN, CSSD, ACE-CMES/CPT      860-339-5493

Healthy Living

PART 3 Journey. On the Run! Great Food and Fun in the Hamptons, Montauk, and Old Saybrook!

Old Saybrook, CT – five houses from cottage rental

The first move was done, and it felt incredible! It was exciting to be back in Old Saybrook. The cottage rental turned out to be a comfortable pleasure only five houses from the water. The atmosphere was relaxing, dinners were delightful, and it was fun reconnecting with the farm stands I once frequented. I was running into old acquaintances everywhere I went. Though I could not get settled in too much knowing I had to move out for a few days, but being there was like a long overdue vacation, and the vacation was about to be extended.

Most of what I owned was moved to inaccessible closed storage, therefore it was only a matter of moving around 20 bins of office supplies and equipment, clothes, and exercise gear including dumbbells into a shed. The week of September 10th was a short week, only two days of outside consulting since my in-house private practice was temporarily closed, leaving me with few clients via phone or telehealth.

I knew in advance I needed a second rental from September 14-17, and although my face was still healing from the topical chemotherapy, I thought if I had to be put out by moving around it may as well be a getaway on the beach in Montauk, NY. I took a chance and called my friend Debbie who is married with a family, but surprisingly said she could break away to go. I booked the ferry and made a reservation at my favorite waterfront suite. We packed up the night before at the cottage on the 13th to allow others to move in, and off we went at 7:00 AM the next morning following a smoothie to catch our ferry from New London, CT to Orient Point, NY. The 80-minute ferry ride allowed us to grab a coffee and yogurt while relaxing on the upper deck.

Before heading into Montauk, we took time to make a few stops along the way including lunch at Claudio’s in Greenport on the harbor before taking the North Ferry to Shelter Island, then the South Ferry to Sag Harbor where we shopped around before heading to East Hampton and Montauk.

Montauk, NY

Debbie graciously put up with my many habits from NPR news she finds depressing to joining me in morning meditation she discovered she liked. And she put up with my music. I have a habit of playing certain music or artists depending on my activity such as baroque, particularly Vivaldi for stress reduction, jazz for relaxing evenings, or rock and blues other times. As for road trips, I listen to Richie Kotzen while driving because he is diverse and not too hard or soft. I shuffled over 100 of his songs, old and new, rock, funk, blues rock, and jazz, including many with relationship-break-up lyrics, Debbie had to listen to for two hours in the car when she finally made a comment about Kotzen’s lyrics being dispiriting and deep. I laughed and switched up the playlist. She likes pop music, but overall, she enjoyed the scenic ride and had fun! 

Arrived in Montauk – Debbie soaking up fresh air as she looks out over the water

From the moment we arrived the activity was abundant! It was Debbie’s first time in Montauk, she was amazed at the vast size of the waves. We took a walk on the beach and walked around town before checking into our room. It was a fun-filled four days away with beach running, hiking on the bluffs, swimming, yoga, shopping, great food to eat, and evening fires in the sand while listening to the waves crashing and watching the moon shine down glistening on the water.

Gig Shack – salad with almonds and beets, and crab cake

The food in Montauk– The first night we went to a restaurant I’ve been to a few times – the Gig Shack with healthy inexpensive food and good entertainment. There are too many restaurants to talk about, instead, I will leave you with many photos and names of the restaurants from delicious breakfast and lunch shops to fine dining on the water. With the exception, of one huge dessert we shared, most of what we ate was fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood. I also packed a cooler full of food for us that included cheese, yogurt, fruit, crackers, nuts, dried fruit, ready-made protein shakes for early morning, along with water, extra coffee, herb tea, wine, nice glasses, and of course cocktail napkins and plates. This way we did not have rush out first thing in the morning for breakfast, and we could also relax with appetizers before dinner, or grab a snack between meals.

Debbie and Kathy relaxing on the deck before dinner

There are many excellent restaurants I’ve been to in Montauk, but here are the main ones chosen from this trip, not including our stops along the way in and out of town.

Gig Shack above – offers plenty of seafood with local bands nightly.

View from the Inlet Seafood Restaurant

Inlet Seafood Restaurant – Owned by fishermen.

Harvest on Fort Pond – Tuscan-style Italian serving family-style.

Harvest on Fort Pond – Family style dessert we shared!

Naturally Good Foods and Café – Offers groceries and nice salads.

Peaceful evening with a fire on the beach

Joni’s Kitchen – My favorite for breakfast and lunch.

Joni’s Kitchen – Cali style breakfast egg-white veggie wrap
Looking out from our deck in Montauk the morning we were leaving.
Montauk Lighthouse

On our return trip, we took an extended route through East Hampton and Southampton and made a quick stop the radio station in Water Mill where I was promoting my Nutrition for Musicians video series and eBook. The final stop before heading back to the ferry was at Kontokosta Winery in Greenport wrapping up a fun-filled four-day weekend! Next, it was moving back into the cottage in Old Saybrook where I could unpack my 20 bins stored in the shed and settle in until November 8th

Back to business only to find my website went down, and it was my biggest day of advertising! I knew my business would be slow working remotely, what I did not realize until no emails were coming in, is my website went down, my site not only went down, it was not until days later I realized my old business number was not redirecting my calls to my cell phone. During this time, it happened to be the weekend of September 22, with the most advertising promoting both my business and my Nutrition for Musicians video series and eBook. I turned on the radio hearing WEHM Long Island Broadcasting personalities Anthony and Joann who were broadcasting live at Farm Aid in Hartford, CT talking about me and my nutrition business during commercial breaks. The entire time unknown to me, not one person listening could get onto my website, email me, or call me! This mess was eventually cleared up in days with a lot of time, phone calls, and hiring someone.

The weeks at the cottage overall remained a much-needed break. I consulted two days a week out of the area, continued phone consultations and saw a few clients at the cottage while rebuilding a new business. The upside was the ability to go for frequent beach runs, and I was able to work-out in the mornings before work without having to join a gym because I brought stackable dumbbells and a weight bench with me. 

Workout area at the cottage

The end was near, and finally, I found a house; my offer was accepted on October 3, and the closing was scheduled for October 31. 

NEXT UPPART 4, The Final Move: The last relaxing cottage days included cooking, and good friends, followed by the move. The filth, the nightmares, and the ugliest house in the world ready to undergo a transformation. How to survive and eat well without a kitchen.

Part Two: Six-Month Journey of Multiple Moves, Food, Activity, Lifestyle, & Renovations!

PART 2 – On the Move! How to eat well, stay calm, fit, and healthy while packing and putting your life belongings in storage! 

View from Kontokosta Winery

In the middle of this craziness having to find a new home, I had a couple of little breaks when I was working with Long Island Broadcasting radio stations WBAZ and WEHM in Water Mill, NY for advertising, consulting, and some live broadcasts. Although I was still red from the topical chemotherapy, I took the Cross Sound Ferry over from New London, CT to Long Island Orient Point, NY. An area I know well from Greenport to Shelter Island, and Sag Harbor through East Hampton to Southampton. The area has beautiful scenic views, and many great little food stores, shops, and restaurants to stop at while driving through! It felt great to break away for a day to be live on the BAZ show hosted by their broadcaster Jo. On-Air Joann Blog working with Kathy. The last stop recommended by Jo after the show before getting back onto the ferry was Kontokosta Winery in Greenport which is worth the trip alone for the gorgeous views! This was my first time at this winery, it was a fabulous way to end the day before the ferry trip back. More on the Hamptons, a long weekend in Montauk, and Kontakosta later. For now, it’s time to get back to the moving.

Kontokosta Winery
Patio of Kontostosta Winery

On August 25 I officially backed out of purchasing the house in Essex, Connecticut due to the bad inspection. The closing was supposed to be August 31 with my intentions to move the first week of September. My rental was being sold, but I was told at the time I could extend my lease until the end of September. Meanwhile, while searching for other homes to purchase thinking I had more time, I stopped packing and rescheduled my movers to a later date while I searched on for both short-term rental and a house to purchase. I was getting back to eating normal food and cooking and was able to place all emphasis on working with my clients for one month while giving notice to them about my relocation or agreeing to work virtually as needed. This suddenly changed three days later August 28 when my landlord asked me to move out on September seventh, three weeks earlier than anticipated, leaving 10 days to pack and move while working a full week! I quickly called my movers, they were booked the seventh, but able to accommodate me on the eighth of September and the date was agreed by my landlord. 

Pre-move indoor grilling swordfish and farm fresh vegetables

Now for the first move, the food, the eating out, where to live, and “how to stay fit and calm” starts, and what about business, and when to find time to work and pack in one week? For one, no more groceries except my staples that included milk, yogurt, fruit and a few items for salads. With no time for real cooking or grilling, I decided the old Cuisinart Griddler I once loved had seen its day and went to the recycle center. It was time for quick healthy fixes on the run! I kept my home gym intact since most of this would be carried off with the movers. Both meditation and working out early in the morning kept me calm and at ease. It is amazing what food and activity can do for the mind. I went for one last early morning beach run on September first, the rest of the days were simple workouts, work, and packing.

Quick fix pizza with tomato, Kalamata olives, spinach, and basil

I needed no mess easy clean up foods that included making mini veggie pizzas with store-bought whole grain pizza crust, organic pizza sauce, cut up broccoli, spinach, tomato, olives, onions, and whatever other veggies I had to use up along with shredded cheese mixed with 1% fat cottage cheese as toppings, and olive oil sprayed on top using my “Misto” spray pump. I then baked the pizza on foil for around 15-20 minutes and had it as a quick meal after work and in-between packing. Other fast meals were ready-made lobster cakes, ready cooked shrimp cocktail, and veggie burgers that were microwaved in 80 seconds. My breakfast and lunches were about the same as always as it is easy to make oatmeal, salads, wraps, and sandwiches. Most of my sandwiches are veggies that include spinach, tomato, Kalamata olives, red onion, cucumber, bell peppers, and cheese on whole grain bread, or when pressed for time I chose natural peanut butter with blueberry preserve with a glass of milk or organic soy milk, or kefir – all this works. As the last few days in my rental with most of the kitchen now packed, I only left out the minimal essentials to cook with, or I should say kitchens because of the second kitchen in my office. I purposely did not pack my blender to make my morning smoothies and left out one small frying pan for scrambled eggs I enjoy on the weekends and used foil for baking all other items. Everything else was packed except for my coffee maker, my favorite knives to take with me, and a few favorite dishes, glasses, and one cutting board. For anyone who likes to cook, a good knife is essential! 

Last beach run in Niantic before move
Last beach run in Niantic before move
Relaxing a moment on my last run before the move

I had a few sleepless nights while packing after work, but I knew this was temporary. Meanwhile, in-between work and packing I found two other homes, one in Essex that did not work out, the other one in Old Saybrook, Connecticut that needed a great deal of work and it was going to take 60 days to close on, but I was out of options within my budget so I made an offer. Now with less than one week to move, I continued searching everywhere for rentals from academic to bed and breakfast suites to Airbnb, and after a few applications explaining I only needed two months to rent, I found a beautifully furnished comfortable cottage in Old Saybrook, CT. The cottage was only five houses from the water, and I would be able to work out of it too! Only one glitch, I was told I could move in for the first five days, then I would have to move out for three or four days before returning as it was rented to someone else. Once returned I could stay until November eighth. I agreed to provide I could have a place to leave my large container plants and find a place to store over 20 bins filled with business machines, files, supplies, and personal belongings including clothes I would need in the cooler months to come. Fortunately for me, the woman who owned the cottage was delightful and accommodated me with an empty clean storage shed that was a former summer cottage for me to store all my belongings in. What a relief! From here, every day was a new adventure of the unknown, it was fast-paced, exhausting, and exciting at the same time! 

Packing

While finishing my final days with clients who came until three days before I moved, I could not start packing the office until the end as I wanted to continue a comfortable atmosphere for them and managed to pack up everything in the office in two days. 

My food choices came down to take out sandwiches, purchased store-bought smoothies, and NuGo Slim protein bars to get me through the final 48 hours including multiple carloads on moving day.

Less than 16 hours to go before the mover’s show, time was running out to pack! I never would have managed without the help of my friend Debbie who came to my rescue by driving ninety minutes the night before to help me to box up the final items for the movers arriving the next day! It was pizza delivery that last night and was great seeing Debbie who only recently relocated back to Connecticut with her husband from South Carolina a few weeks earlier. She too was exhausted and left late in the evening. As for me, I stayed up the night to make sure all was packed for the movers and finished loading my two cars with my bins and boxes. Come the morning of the eighth I grabbed one last smoothie before packing up my blender and made it just on time for the movers! I was moving less than 30 minutes away, but it took several car trips, and this time my realtor Deb, came to my rescue by helping me with the last loads of multiple large plants, and she drove me back to pick up my second car. I was now awake for a couple of days, it was already evening, it was dark out, and I was exhausted and hungry. My last stop was an eggplant sub, then to the cottage to unpack.

Cottage living in Old Saybrook, CT, five houses from Long Island Sound

Stay tuned for PART 3 On the run! Fun times in the Hamptons, Montauk, Old Saybrook, and lots of great dining and food!

To learn more about nutrition, download my free eBook and sign up for my newsletters here Free eBook Nutrition for Prevention, Activity, and Wellness.

Six-Month Journey of Multiple Moves, Food, Activity, Lifestyle, & Renovations!

PART 1 – Pre-Move – Staying Positive in Business, Health & Fitness During Unexpected Times.

The last run before treatment

It was the end of July 2018, what should have been a beautiful summer while living in a waterfront home on a private road with panoramic views of the Niantic River off Long Island Sound in Connecticut. A time not to be forgotten as I was finishing up topical chemotherapy treatment for pre-skin cancer on my face and hands, and one cancer spot on my foot. My face looked like a cooked lobster, only swollen, excoriated, my eyes were half shut, it was painfully excruciating, feeling like poison ivy on top of sunburn with no relief. I was unrecognizable to most people due to the red, raw skin.

Treatment was only twice a day for two weeks, then post-treatment for one week consisting of four treatments per day. During post-treatment, my skin became tight and cracked in areas, and every morning I awoke with blood spots over my entire face, but I had no complaints. I had no time for complaining, and my thoughts were this is temporary, many people have it much worse going through regular chemotherapy with a life-threatening diagnosis. Instead, I was too busy thinking about work to be on top of my game for clients, and I was thinking of food to heal myself. It’s my nature being a registered dietitian nutritionist and exercise specialist, I think about staying nourished, healthy and fit, therefore, I kept a positive attitude as I had to continue my life including not missing one day from work.

The last day outside included many berries, cherries, kefir smoothies, and plain yogurt!

The treatment meant, no make-up, I usually like wearing at least a little lipstick and mascara, and the treatment prevented me from wearing my hair down, therefore, it was tied back for six weeks, while wearing large rim-hats when going outside. I wore long sleeve fleece shirts and gloves during 90-degree weather with a huge sunscreen hat that looked hysterical when I mowed the yard at sunrise or sundown as I was not supposed to be outside during the day because sunscreen could not be worn with treatment, and fleece was the only material that did not hurt my hands. My appearance also made me laugh, though I tried hard not to because laughing made my face hurt!

A beautiful pre-sunrise run!

I had to remind myself what I tell my clients, one is there is always a solution to every problem, two is to look at the positives in your life. For me, it was a summer without kayaking mostly related to risking an infection, but I continued to maintain my lifestyle of health and fitness by managing some beach runs at 4:00 AM before the sun came up while wearing fluorescent green to be seen in the dark. A good walk or run is always uplifting especially along the shore, and four in the morning is not unusual for me, it is my normal time to work-out, and I continued my usual weekday weight training sessions in my home gym, along with daily meditation before work. On the weekends, I was able to relax on the patio overlooking the water and boats after sunset, therefore it was not all that bad. And, it was also a summer without the top down on my convertible until late summer when I would venture out for a night ride! 

Fortunately, I have very high pain tolerance, and toward the end of three weeks, I took a couple of Aleve to ease the pain due to the tightness and wounds. Eating was tough but manageable. As the treatment continued, I had to hold back further from smiling or laughing because the corners of my mouth were cracking open and I feared to open another wound and scarring. My main thought was healing, eating frequently with the necessary nutrients, and this meant days of a liquid diet consisting of smoothies loaded with fruit, veggies, and protein powder because I could no longer open my mouth to bite into anything. At this point I did not care what anything tasted like, my only concern was my caloric and dietary needs for healing to get back to normal eating, cooking, and shopping! Stop & Shop Peapod delivery for groceries came in very handy rather than expose me to sunlight from driving to the store. 

The food part – What to eat when you hurt too much to eat or open your mouth!

My go too food was my favorite unflavored whey protein isolate powder “Now Sports” mixed with fresh blueberries, raspberries, cherries, baby spinach, banana, cacao nibs, lactose-free non-fat milk, flax and chia seeds, or blended plain Greek yogurt and fruit all adding vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals into my diet – the recipe is at the end here. Other times were not so flavorful when I would blend up carrots, celery, peppers, and broccoli for added nutrients and fiber, and spices including turmeric and pepper for an extra little anti-inflammatory then added ice and whey protein. I also drank plain kefir or blended plain yogurt into drinks for the probiotics and protein, and added avocado for fat, and consumed organic unflavored unsweetened soy milk almost daily for additional nutrients including magnesium. It was too hot for soup; therefore, the cold smoothies were more comforting. I also chose tart cherry juice for vitamins A and C, and anti-inflammatory effects, along with beetroot juice that is naturally rich in nitrates improving aerobic capacity making it a great quick fix pre-run carb. And at times I opted for Bolthouse Farms high protein shakes, usually coffee flavor or chocolate on days I was away consulting until I was able to eat normally again.

Blended foods for smoothies

While this temporary way of living due to the topical chemotherapy was going on, little did I know at the time what was about to follow!

The great little waterfront home I was living in was a rental for a few years between home ownership that included an in-law apartment with a separate entrance I used for my office. It was a home I had the option to purchase, only it did not meet my personal needs, nor was the town of Waterford where I intended to settle down. I desired to move back to where I call home, that is either Essex or Old Saybrook, Connecticut where I previously owned houses. While actively looking for a home with my realtor, the house I was renting had a few open houses and multiple showings as soon as I was starting to heal, this meant once again quick food fixes and no messes in the kitchen, but at least I was able to eat solid food again. At his point, I opted for the indoor Cuisinart Griddler that I eventually wore out! What I loved about the grill is I could cook an entire meal of fish, veggies, sweet potato, or grilled sandwich, or any food in five to ten minutes including all the added fresh herbs, pepper, and lemon for flavor and seasoning. The best part was the easy clean-up since the grill plates could be removed to wash or put into the dishwasher. 

Indoor grilling with salmon, farm fresh vegetables, and garden herbs.

As for myself finding a house, I knew time was running out, therefore I soon made an offer on a home in Essex, and the offer was accepted! The same day I gave notice to my landlord he told me he sold the house I was renting, I thought great, a win-win situation. After agreeing on a date for me to move, the house I intended to purchase did not pass inspection, and now nowhere to go! A bit of a difficult situation because I had to move both my home and office, only with no place to go, no place to see clients, no business phone, and no time to find a home to close on a mortgage in time. But the good news was I was feeling well, still a bit red, but healing as it was now mid to late August. Here is where the journey begins! 

Stay tuned for – PART 2 on how to eat well and stay calm, fit, and healthy while packing and putting your life belongings in storage! Fun, food, activity and adventure in the Hamptons, NY and Old Saybrook, CT. 

Meanwhile, here is my recipe to my High Power Smoothie many of my clients know all too well because it can go anywhere you have access to a blender and refrigerator, and it can be reduced or increased in portions to adjust to your caloric and protein needs. For me, I break it up in half for a pre and post-workout. 

Making a smoothie for a 4:00 AM workout.

My Morning High Power Smoothie – Split in half for a for pre-and post-workout 

539 Calories, 46g Protein, 74g Carb

2 Cups (16 ounces)        Fat-free milk (I use lactose free)

1 scoop                           Whey protein isolate powder – unsweetened, unflavored preferred

2 tsp                               Cocoa nibs (unsweetened chocolate)

1-2 tsp                            Flaxseeds or mixed chia seeds

1 medium                      Banana

½ Cup                            Blueberries (or ¼ cup blueberries, ¼ cup cherries or berries)

½ Cup                            Baby Spinach 

Blend all ingredients above together

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Healthy Winter Habits To Transform Your Life

 Jennifer Scott, guest blogger

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Many people make New Year’s resolutions, aiming to make their lives better and improve their well-being over the next year. Sadly, most people give up on those goals within the first few weeks of the year. There’s no reason to wait until January 1st to start working towards your goals. In fact, winter provides ample opportunities to stick to your typical healthy routines while also developing new, healthy habits that will have you entering the New Year a healthier you.

Meditation

Meditation is a growing trend among people from all walks of life, from busy professionals to self-development gurus, and everyday people like us. When you examine the benefits of a few minutes of meditation each day, it’s easy to see why. Just 15 to 30 minutes of meditation each day can change the way you approach life, give you more balance, and actually cultivate the development of new, positive connections and neural pathways in the brain while breaking down existing and less-beneficial connections.

Commit to a daily meditation practice, and you’ll develop greater empathy, be better able to manage your emotional response to situations outside your control, have less anxiety, and overall become more centered and less easily influenced by other people and events.

Personal Development

Meditation is sometimes viewed as a subset of personal development. While meditation alone can be helpful, there are other aspects of personal development that are equally beneficial for furthering your goals. If winter for you means more downtime, more time spent curled up in a blanket to stay warm, more time spent in idle traffic during snowstorms, or less opportunity to enjoy your favorite outdoor summer pastimes, then there’s no better time to kick your personal development efforts up a notch.

Listen to a podcast in the car or on the train on your way to and from work each day. Choose a few personal development books to enjoy in front of the fireplace in addition to your favorite fiction novels this winter. Sign up to take an online course to further your career or explore something new.

Healthy Eating

Those comfy, bulky sweaters many people wear in the cooler months certainly help to keep you warm, but they also help to hide an extra inch or two around the waistline. If you’re normally a healthy eater, don’t sacrifice your usual habits just because it’s winter.

Think ahead to the goals you’ve set for the spring or summer. Planning on taking a cruise this spring? Heading to Jamaica in early summer? Keep these goals in mind through the winter, but don’t deny yourself the occasional indulgence.

If your diet hasn’t been quite up to par, use your downtime this winter to make some positive changes, develop some clean eating habits, and experiment with cooking some healthy alternatives to your usual not-so-healthy fare.

Volunteering

There’s truly no better time than to spend some time or resources giving back to your community or to a worthy cause than over the holiday season. When you’re taking time to think about the many things you’re thankful for, think about ways to help out those less fortunate.

From donating and wrapping gifts for children in need to raising funds, assembling care packages for military personnel serving overseas over the holidays, helping to prepare holiday meals for the homeless, donating ready-to-cook meals to families in need, and much more, there’s no shortage of possible ways you can contribute to the greater good this winter. Plus, you’ll get to experience the good vibes and positive energy that come from performing selfless acts.

Exercise

Winter makes it easy to skimp on your workouts. Shorter days mean less sunlight, thus less Vitamin D, and subsequently less energy (for many people). Plus, snow storms can put a bit of a damper on your plans to hit the gym.

You only need a few items to equip a home gym of your own and eliminate excuses that get in the way of reaching your goals. Buy a few dumbbells or kettlebells, resistance bands, a yoga mat, and perhaps a balance trainer and pull-up bar, and you have everything you need for a total body workout in the comfort of your home. There are even workouts that rely entirely on body-weight resistance, no equipment needed.

If you’ve been thinking of making some changes in your life, your season of renewal can begin today. There’s no need to wait for the New Year or for spring to start making a difference in your own life and in the lives of others. Start developing healthy habits that you’ll stick with all year long.

Image via Pixabay by langll

Jennifer Scott is an advocate of mental and overall health who has used her experience to inspire others that they too can maintain a healthy body and mind. More about Jennifer and her blog can be seen at Spirit Finder http://spiritfinder.org 


Summertime Tomato Bruschetta

As we near the end of summer, I’m still serving up my favorite summertime tomato bruschetta known to many of my friends for over twenty years. Simple, delicious, nutritious, and attractive with plenty of tomatoes, garlic, red onion, and fresh basil.

Tomato Bruschetta with fresh Russian pumpernickel bread.
Tomato Bruschetta with fresh Russian pumpernickel bread.

While many love the flavor and color, I like the fact one serving adds up to more than 10 percent of vitamin A, and 25 percent of vitamin C for the day. Vitamin A is essential for our vision, skin, bone formation, and immune function. Vitamin C is an antioxidant to protect body cells from damage, it is also involved with our collagen formation, nervous system, and it helps to enhance iron absorption into our bloodstream. In addition, this recipe contains eight percent of our iron needs, and the allyl sulfur compounds from the garlic and onion may help to protect against stomach and colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, and lycopene. Potassium is necessary for muscle contraction, and helps to reduce blood pressure. Lycopene, a carotenoid, is a phytochemical (natural plant chemical) that is known to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene is better absorbed when tomatoes are cooked, and this recipe can either be made with raw or cooked tomatoes depending on how you like your bruschetta to be served up. Either way, it’s always a perfect dish to have at your summer gathering, or to bring to your next party.

Tomato Bruschetta Recipe     Number of Servings: 10

6 Plum tomatoes, cut small

4 Medium vine ripe tomatoes or garden fresh, cut small

½ Cup red onion, chopped

2 Garlic cloves

½ Cup fresh basil, chopped

2 Ounces balsamic vinegar

1-1/2 Tsp olive oil

¼ Tsp fresh ground black garlic pepper (or regular pepper)

15 Slices of 100% whole grain bread or homemade grain bread

Chop tomatoes. Finely chop onion, garlic, and basil. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and pepper – add more for flavor.

Toast bread on one side under broiler, then cut the bread in half. Serve cold bruschetta on top. Serve on a platter or individual plates.

Options:IMG_0080

  1. Spray bread with a light coating of olive oil, rub with garlic, and broil tomato mixture with mozzarella cheese on top. Note this adds calories to the stated amount below.
  2. Use tortilla chips in place of bread, and use bruschetta topping as a dip in place of salsa.

Calories: 150-170 depending on the size of bread. Average Carbs: 28g, Protein 7g, Fat 4g, Fiber 7g

Vitamin A 10%, Vitamin C 25%, Iron 8% based on percent of daily values for a 2,000 calorie diet.

Kathy LaBella, RDN, CDN, CSSD, ACE-CMES/CPT


 

Appetizer Night – Fun With Food For Wellbeing!

IMG_5522Clients’ who work with me know there is not one food or one day of eating that can make it or break it. That is, if you are eating well most days of the week, and you are consistent with a healthy lifestyle five to six days a week, then there is no reason why you can’t have fun with food and enjoy a little extra pleasure; it’s the same as you do with taking a break from your exercise routine. Breaks are important from the mundane, especially if you are focusing on losing weight because you also have to realistic. Allowing yourself a bit of pleasure food is important to prevent you from “dieting” or becoming too strict where you eventually crash, give up, and then overindulge. Eating well and living life is not about becoming a fanatic who is too focused on trying to be perfect with everything you put into your mouth, or exercise to a point where you forget how to enjoy some of the simple pleasures of life that is essential for overall wellbeing.

One of my favorite things to do almost weekly is to have an appetizer night, wIMG_5501whether I’m out with friends in a restaurant, or dining at home alone. Appetizer night is way of having some of your favorite foods along with incorporating higher nutrient rich foods that include fruits,vegetables, and protein for the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Small plates or tapas are often less time consuming to make, yet more enjoyable to eat. If you work weekdays, opt for a Friday or Saturday evening for an appetizer night to help you wind down from the week while granting yourself the time to taste your food.

Some simple quick fixes can include a salad with shrimp cocktail, oysters, fruit, cheese and crackers, or a slice of bakery multi-grain bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Purchasing some pre roasted meats or fish can help as well with less cooking, or explore by making homemade mini pizza’s with fresh grated cheese and sliced veggies. Whatever it is you choose for appetizers, have fun with food for wellbeing by making the moment memorable and relaxing to rejuvenate.


March Is National Nutrition Month® Savor The Flavor Of Eating Right

“Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” is this year’s theme for National Nutrition Month® that is focusing on cooking at home, following your traditions, and expanding your tastes by trying new adventures with food.

 Eating Right with grilled scallops
Broiled scallops over grilled vegetable salad

Eating right and eating healthy can be made simple with a little planning, especially now that spring is here and local fruit and vegetables stands are opening up all over. Eating right can actually save time and money with simple quick meals made at home or packed daily for your lunch and snacks.

 

Fruits and Vegetables – I encourage many fruits and vegetables for their abundance of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, as well as the ability to be a quick fix we can grab on the run from bananas and apples, to berries and grapes, to carrots, celery and peppers to take on your way out the door. Whether you opt for weekly shopping or daily stops along small markets, adventure out to try something new by adding a variety to prevent boredom. While at home, bring on the flavor and add a little cinnamon or nutmeg to your cut up fruit. And be sure to enhance your vegetable dishes with sautéed or grilled garlic, onion and herbs!

Nuts and Grains – Incorporating nuts and seeds are easy to pack along in a small container, or spreading peanut butter on whole grain bread for the road is simple while providing protein, and fueling your body with carbohydrates and healthy fats for the energy to get you through a few hours. In the evening making long grain rice only takes 30 minutes while you prep the rest of your meal or cut vegetables. If you have no time for rice, try thinly slicing a sweet potato for indoor grilling combined with your other vegetables and sprinkled with pine nuts; it only takes about 10 minutes to grill up a healthy meal. Another simple quick fix is adding nuts and seeds to a salad mixed with fresh herbs for dinner, combining taste, color and nutrients.

Protein – There are many choices today for protein that you can add into your day from Greek yogurt or soy yogurt to protein packed smoothies for a quick nutritious breakfast or a snack while at work that will keep you full without all the calories. Pack lunch the night before by adding lean fish, poultry, or beans in with a salad for lunch consisting of dark greens such as spinach with cut up broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and a few olives topped off with a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or pack leftovers from your dinner to take to work or school the next day to ensure you’re eating well. Top off your meats and seafood with rosemary, oregano, pepper, fresh squeezed lemon or orange for flavor.

 Eating Right
Spinach, broccoli, tomato salad w/olives

Savoring the Flavor – Take the time to enjoy your meal! It does not take any more time to put your food onto a nice plate, add a little flavor with your favorite spices and herbs, and pour yourself a cold water in a nice glass with a lemon wedge, or add fresh chocolate mint leaves to green tea. Use a cloth napkin, light a candle, relax and enjoy your meal. It doesn’t have to take long, only long enough to enjoy and savor the flavor.


Building Confidence 101: Successful People Are Built From Within

successful peopleI recently read a headline ad about building confidence. At first I thought, oh how nice, a therapist must be giving a talk to people on how to build their confidence. Then I read on, no it wasn’t this at all. It was an ad for face lifts and cosmetic surgery for the body. I sighed, and thought to myself if you want to build confidence it has to start with inner peace.

Wrinkles or a few extra pounds are not necessarily high on the priority list of genuinely confident or successful people. If confident people were that fixated on changing their outer appearance they wouldn’t be as successful, focused, or as happy as they are today. Cosmetic surgery is not a solution to true inner confidence because the outer results often do not last.

My advice has always been if you want to change your looks start with treating your body well. As I’m known for saying if you want a bigger chest do some bench presses or push ups. Want a firmer butt? Try some squats or go for a walk. As for the face; hydration and a good moisturizer, sun screen, or an anti-wrinkle cream work well along with a healthy diet.

In a recent conversation with a male friend he said to me “I’m glad I’m not a woman so I don’t have to wear make-up”. My response back was “I don’t need make-up, I just like it”. He laughed, but he also knew where I was coming from having seen me comfortably walking around without make-up. There’s a difference, there’s nothing wrong in dressing up and having fun, but to permanently change your body or face thinking it would build confidence is not the real solution.

Real confidence is within, and if you want to build your confidence while reducing your waist size, and enhancing your appearance, start with proper nourishment for your brain and body. For a long term sustainable solution, begin with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) versus cosmetic surgery. Not only is it more cost affective and non-invasive, it’s feeding your body, and building your mind that boosts your inner feeling of well being, and confidence.

A registered dietitian nutritionist can’t take the place of a therapist; we do however council and often work in conjunction with a therapist for a client to receive better treatment for the mind, body, and self love. RDN counseling helps to change how you feel inside and out because improved nourishment fuels the mind, increases your energy that leads to a greater fitness level, decreases stress and disease risk and in turn leaves you truly feeling more confident on the outside, and most importantly peaceful and strong from within, and that’s a genuine and sustainable change that will last forever.


Part 1 Of 2: I Never Exercised A Day In My Life, But I’m More Fit Than Many Half My Age

I Never Exercised a Day in My Life, but I’m More Fit than Many Half My AgeI once heard Steve Vai say during an interview, “I never worked a day in my life”. Vai is a Grammy award winning guitarists and songwriter who has produced several albums and performs world tours that have ranged from playing with top rock bands to symphony orchestras, yet Vai says he has never worked a day in his life. That’s because Steve Vai is doing what he loves; it does not feel like work to him, it’s a passion that is clearly exuberated as he performs, a passion he only happens to make a living at it.

I can’t say I never worked a day in my life, but being a registered dietitian nutritionist and an advanced health and fitness specialist with American Council on Exercise, I can say I never exercised a day in my life! I may be affiliated with exercise, but yet I don’t feel I’ve ever done it. I say this because the word “exercise” sounds like work to me, it projects a negative connotation. Who wants to exercise? It’s like telling someone they have to do something and it’s saying you have to work at it. Adult physical activity guidelines indicate we need a minimum of 150 minutes of activity or exercise per week that include a combination of cardiorespiratory, resistance, flexibility, and neuromotor exercises such as balance. I agree we need to be active and I educate people on what the guidelines mean and how to achieve them, but the guidelines can be a little overwhelming if you’re not sure where to begin. I prefer to play, have fun and enjoy activities I choose to make part of my lifestyle. It only happens to be that I enjoy activities that keep my body and mind in motion and in return it keeps me more fit than many people who are half my age who choose to be inactive.

I grew up swimming, skiing, biking, dancing, walking and running through trails in the woods. This was never felt like exercise, it was fun; doing what I loved and trying new adventures as they came along. As children, we don’t think about the correlation of exercise and the prevention of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and bone density, or maintaining a waistline; children only think about the activities that are enjoyable to them. At the age of fourteen, I was introduced to weightlifting machines in gym class. It wasn’t exercising for me because it was too much fun! I was tall and I was much lighter in weight than other kids in my class due to my small bone structure, but I discovered I was one of the strongest of my female classmates. Therefore, I found something that was both fun and easy for me to do. That’s the key, enjoying what you’re doing. Weight training and feeling comfortable in the weight room only became a passion of mine once I entered into my twenties, a lifestyle I continue in my home gym today at least four days a week that begins at four in the morning following meditation and before my workday. But I never exercised. It is relaxation to me that ensures a happier day to follow, a ritual that’s only part of my life along with several other activities that became passions, but never exercise.

In college I remember classmates frantically studying for exams without taking a moment to relax. I would see their jaws drop at times when I would get up in the middle of studying to run to the gym for an hour. Some thought I didn’t care about my studies, but the reality was it was my way of regrouping, clearing my mind, relaxing my body, getting rid of any anxiety by doing what I enjoyed. What many didn’t realize is that a one hour break away to the gym helped me to perform better on exams.

Throughout most of my twenties, I taught at a modeling school and agency that included teaching group exercise classes in addition to the runway, communication, and media classes. It was the exercise classes that were my favorite to teach because to me it was fun, it was a pressure-free high energy class that felt more like dance and left everyone feeling good at the end. During my prior runway days, I was fortunate enough to have a group of close friends I worked with who truly loved going out dancing and not drinking. It was our way of socializing and having fun while staying fit.

In my mid to late thirties, while having a private practice as a sports nutritionist and consulting dietitian, I ventured out to try other activities. It went from golfing a few days a week to cycling long distances through the hill towns near surrounding Northampton, Massachusetts where I lived at the time, too long hikes through the mountains, to trying my hand at rock climbing and learning whitewater kayaking. I also skied at least one day a week in the winters. Much of it was part of my career at the time where I was affiliated with a fitness club where I had an office location, and I also lifted weights there, but never considered any of this to be a form of exercise.

Activity can change as we change and age, unexpected injuries or illness can occur, and there’s marriage, family, children, divorce, the death of a spouse, child, or parent, to the loss of a job and financial changes or moving away to new demographics. Staying active and finding new passions are all part of the change and I found it’s important not to let roadblocks get in the way. I’ve been through many of these changes, one event, in particular, was before moving away from Northampton, Massachusetts I had an automobile accident that caused a cervical spinal cord injury, a fluid-filled cavity in my spinal column referred to as Syringomyelia that caused inflammation and pinching of nerves along with numbness and excruciating headaches. Being intolerant to medication I opted for nothing or an occasional Aleve. I was told I would never lift weights again and told to never ski or run, and I was given a diagnosis with a possibility of being wheelchair bound before my fortieth birthday. I was thirty-eight years old at the time…

Part 2 Of 2: I Never Exercised A Day In My Life, But I’m More Fit Than Many Half My Age

Kathy LaBellaI was told I would never lift weights again and told to never ski or run, and I was given a diagnosis with a possibility of being wheelchair bound before my fortieth birthday. I was thirty-eight years old at the time.
To Be Continued…

Part Two
I immediately started thinking of things that I could do for work and activity if by chance I would lose much of my mobility, and at the same time being single and self-employed I had to keep going and couldn’t miss a day of work! I was accepting of what could be, but at the same time tenacious and determined to regain strength in my upper extremities by imagining holding invisible dumbbells, and soon started lifting actual weights at home until I moved onto five pounds and up. I eventually regained 75 percent of my strength and I skied cautiously as tolerated, and accepted not to do the activities that weren’t tolerated such as sea diving, whitewater kayaking, and at the time underwater swimming, in general, was painful.

In my early forties, I moved to Essex, CT located near the Connecticut shore at the mouth of the Connecticut River. It was a new lifestyle, and new activities to venture out to. I built a new home, office and nutrition and fitness practice where I had a large industrial home gym all in one location. Although I missed my old activities, I immediately wanted to emerge myself into this new area and explore new passions to be learned and I wanted to learn what my future clients might be doing for their activity. I took a few days of sailing lessons and later discovered many of the shoreline bike trails, but my real passion became sea and river kayaking without the Eskimo rolls; it was absolutely incredible! I found my new love! At the time, I was still having problems road running, although I did run one race and decided road races weren’t for me, just not all that fun to me. Instead, I learned of the many trails near where I lived and the softer ground was the way to go. Not only was I connecting with nature and animals, but it was easy on my neck, back, legs and feet. Trail runs and hikes were fun and stress relieving, not at all like exercise or work. After moving to Essex, I decided that driving to Vermont to ski on a regular basis was a bit too far at three hours away and opted for snowshoeing. It’s not quite the feel of downhill skiing, but it was a good compromise that gave me a challenge in the snow and it was free! Therefore, I accepted, adopted and loved the new activities brought into my new life. And then there was gardening… massive gardening in the new two plus acre house I built! It was another new discovery that was fun and active, but it wasn’t in anyway exercise.

Now in my fifties, I have moved onto Waterford, Connecticut, leaving many Essex adventures and my former practice behind, and while discovering new activities along with playing music again, I spent two years researching to form a new practice based on the special nutrition needs for musicians, particularly active and touring musicians. While living on the mouth of the Niantic River that opens up into Long Island Sound, it gives me the ability to paddle in my kayak frequently as the water’s edge is in front of my cottage. In the winter, I resort to using my indoor rower and I discovered beach running is more enjoyable than the wooded trails, yet soft on the spine. And this year I stopped using a landscaper to mow my yard and bought an electric push mover that’s become an enjoyable weekly ritual following a weekend beach run.

Music helps with activity along the way. I’m always plugged in and have portable speakers for the Kayak, and yes, sometimes Steve Vai is playing, along with my many other selections of music.

As for today, I will continue to kayak, beach run, meditate, and lift weights in my small cottage gym because it is not like work or exercise, it is only a way of life, and an extra forty to seventy minutes a day that takes the place of what could be wasted time otherwise. Being active at whatever it is you enjoy is important. It’s only a bonus that fun activity keeps your body and mind fit while staving off arthritis, preserving muscle mass, preventing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and increasing endorphins all while reducing stress, enhancing immunity, memory, and quality of life. Activity keeps you younger than your chronological years.

So as this evening falls when many people are sitting on their sofa watching their television and I’m a bit tired after a long day of activity and work, I turn off National Public Radio that’s playing in the background. I sit down in silence and at first, turn toward my piano but instead, I pick up my guitar to play before I go to bed, and then think Steve Vai has never worked a day in his life, and I an exercise specialist and dietitian nutritionist has never exercised a day in my life.

I encourage you to find your passion- a new activity, get out and play or learn a new musical instrument, and remember to eat well, stay healthy, happy, and active because the benefits have endless rewards!

Cheers!
Kathy LaBella, RDN, CDN