Budget Healthy Eating Hacks for Savvy Shoppers

Q: Eating well can get really expensive. Do you have any budget healthy eating hacks to share?

A: You’re not alone. Many people face this challenge when setting out to clean up their diets.

Some healthy foods will be more expensive than traditional grocery items you’re used to, like organic produce over conventional. (Trendy, high-quality superfoods like goji berries and coconut oil can also make your receipt total more difficult to swallow.)

However, there are plenty of ways to simply adjust your purchasing choices to make eating healthy less expensive. Try these smart, budget healthy eating hacks for a diet that’s good for your bod and wallet.

Budget Healthy Eating Hacks for Savvy Shoppers

1. Buy Frozen. Frozen fruits and veggies are often cheaper than fresh, especially when they’re out of season locally. Don’t worry, you won’t be sacrificing nutrients for a lower price tag. Foods are flash frozen at their peak ripeness, so they can actually be healthier than their fresh counterparts.

2. Cut the beef. It’s easy to spend a big chunk of change on meat. I recommend upping the quality of the meat you buy, but reducing the quantity. For example, buy grass-fed beef to enjoy once a week. Then, replace the protein you’re missing with lower cost items like (wild) canned salmon or tuna, beans, lentils, and eggs. You’ll be doing good by the environment with this swap, too.

3. Get smart about organic. If you’ve got the resources to buy all organic, go for it, but if not, use the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists as guides. They break down which foods are most likely to be covered in pesticide residue (buy those organic) and which are the least contaminated (save your money and buy conventional here). Another under-the-radar trick: if you frequent a farmers market, ask farmers about their practices. Many will tell you they don’t use harmful chemicals but aren’t certified organic, and their prices may be lower. Plus, you’ll be supporting the local food economy.

4. Plan ahead. I know, easier said than done, but eating healthy is much less expensive when you prioritize meal prep. By planning in advance, you can make multiple meals that utilize the same fresh produce before it goes bad, or use leftovers to make affordable lunches. For example, making chicken and broccoli for dinner? Use three ounces of leftover chicken and broccoli and mix with canned chickpeas and frozen mixed veggies for a complete lunch the next day.

5. Don’t shop when you’re starving. Fill your belly with protein before heading to the supermarket. Shopping when you’re hungry may lead to impulse purchases, like buying “healthy” packaged snacks and bars that cost more than whole foods. Making a detailed shopping list (and sticking to it) can help with this, too.


The Dos and Don’ts of Going Gluten-Free

by Christine Anenberg, NLC

Over the past several years, “gluten-free” went from a medical recommendation to a health fad to sometimes, a marketing ploy.

The truth is, whether going gluten-free is a good choice for you depends on factors like how your individual body digests gluten and your lifestyle.

Some people need to eliminate gluten to avoid serious negative health effects, while others try the strategy to improve GI health and reduce bloating, as a weight loss tool, or to up their energy.

If you’re in any of those groups (or might be at some point), here’s what you need to know.

gluten-freeWhat is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. It actually contains two proteins, glutenin and gliadin. During digestion, those proteins are broken down into peptides that some people’s bodies have difficulty breaking down.

Sometimes that’s because of a condition like Celiac disease, but some research has shown modern forms of wheat are more difficult for the body to digest than ancient forms such as Einkorn. Some studies have also shown that modern processing techniques can make gluten harder to digest. (For instance, isolating the proteins and adding them to products without the enzymes that naturally occur alongside them.)


So Who Should Go Gluten-Free?

Anyone With Celiac Disease. In people who have Celiac disease, ingesting gliadin (the protein in gluten) sets off an autoimmune response that causes damage to the small intestine, disrupting its ability to absorb vital nutrients. Symptoms of Celiac disease may include bloating, gas, diarrhea, unhealthy weight loss or gain, constant fatigue, depression, bone pain, and anemia. A diagnosis is made through a series of blood tests. The gluten-free diet was originally meant to combat this disease.

Anyone With a Gluten Intolerance or Allergy. It is possible for gluten to negatively affect those who don’t have Celiac disease. Some may have a wheat allergy, and others may just have trouble digesting gluten. They may experience fatigue, headaches, or bloating, especially right after consuming gluten.

Those Making Big Dietary Changes to Get Healthy.  Going gluten-free is one way to eliminate unhealthy carbs (buh-bye spaghetti, hello spaghetti squash!) and replace them with more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In this case, it’s not a necessary switch, but people may find it’s a helpful guideline to shift their diet towards whole, nutritious foods. For instance, many people who are experiencing health issues go gluten-free as part of an Elimination Diet to see what in their diet may be contributing to the issues, and then add gluten back in gradually to see if it’s a culprit.


The Dos and Don’ts of Going Gluten-Free

It’s important to remember that going gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean you’re eating a healthy diet. You need to find other healthy sources of carbs and fiber, for instance, and make sure your diet is balanced, overall.


Focus on smart swapping.  For your baked goods, choose gluten free flours that are high in protein and fiber.  My go-to healthy flour alternatives: almond flour, coconut flour, garbanzo flour, and quinoa flour. Almond meal is a great replacement for breadcrumbs and in dense baked goods.

Choose healthy pastas that are made with quinoa or brown rice flour. Better yet, get yourself a zoodle maker and spiralize ‘til your heart’s content.


Assume that if a label says gluten free, that food is healthy.  There are a TON of gluten-free junk foods out there!  Watch out for high sugar content and highly processed foods.

Hop on board the gluten-free train just to fit in. If you don’t have Celiac or an intolerance, it’s fine to stick to healthy sources of gluten. If you’re craving bread, find a healthy version such as a sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel or a fermented loaf like sourdough. If you focus on whole, clean foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole fibrous grains, there won’t be room for carbs to crowd your diet.


gluten-freeAbout Christine: Christine is a personal chef and health coach and a graduate of The Nutrition School. She has worked with tons of families and single folks all around Orange County for the past 4 years.  She grew up in the kitchen alongside her Italian mother who loved finding ways to incorporate a healthy twist to her Italian meals. Her goal is to give her clients the opportunity to come home to a fully stocked guilt-free fridge. Check out her website or find her on Instagram!


Photo Credits: Top: Leeroy via Stocksnap.io, Third: Flickr/Andrea_Nguyen

How to Deal With People Who Judge Your Food Choices

Healthy food choices can inspire all kinds of judge-y comments.

For instance, does this sound familiar? “Surprise, surprise! Keri’s eating kale again.” (Cue laughter.)

It can make family gatherings, dinners with friends, and especially potlucks, uncomfortable. You want to just relax and enjoy a great meal and pleasant conversation and yet your Uncle Bob needs to ask you how anyone could survive without meat and potatoes over and over and over. (If you’re a health or wellness professional like a nutritionist or trainer, this is likely an issue many of your clients will ask you about handling, too.)

But you don’t need to scrap all of your healthy eating habits in order to make the people around you happy. Try these five tips to manage the judgement with grace…and good food.

How to Deal with People Who Judge Your Food Choices

  1. Be firm, but don’t make a huge deal out of it. Grandstanding about being gluten-free isn’t going to help. Making a big announcement about what you will and won’t eat isn’t necessary and will provoke the judgment you’re trying to avoid. If you make your food choices without making a fuss, others may not even notice you’re cutting back on sugar, and you won’t offend a host who prepared food you’re going to pass on.
  2. Remember that it’s not about you. Why would anyone even care if you eat a carrot instead of a cookie? When people judge the way you eat, they’re projecting their own insecurities onto you. To avoid getting defensive, remind yourself it’s not really about you, and you’ll be able to react from a place of calm.
  3. Have a comeback ready. If you’re walking into a situation where you know judgement and comment are inevitable, have a go-to response ready in advance. Choose something that works for you in terms of deflecting the comment, whether that’s an expression of pride (“Yes, I’m feeling so great since I started eating healthy!”), a joke, or totally changing the subject.
  4. Think about if the situation were reversed. If you’re tempted to “just eat” something you really don’t want to just to make someone else happy, ask yourself if they’d do the same for you. Often, the people who are most judgemental are not the ones who’d graciously try your Sweet Potato Cupcakes if you were the one hosting. Eat for you, not for someone else.
  5. Tap into how good you feel eating good food. When you eat good food, you feel great because you’re treating yourself well. Harness that feeling and focus on healthy, happy vibes, which will counter the judge-y ones that threaten to ruin the gathering.

In the end, you don’t ever have to be rude or a stickler about food choices, but it’s not fair to feel like you have to totally change your diet to satisfy other people’s appetites, either.

Are Fortified Foods Actually Healthy?

By Jeanette Kimszal, RD, NLC

Have you picked up salt high in iodine or vitamin D-rich milk recently? These are both examples of fortified foods, AKA foods to which extra nutrients have been added.

And these pumped-up products are crazy common: think cereals and breakfast bars, milk and milk products, orange juice, tea, and infant formulas.

At first glance, they seem incredibly helpful. If you tend to be calcium-deficient, why not get an extra dose while sipping your morning OJ, right? Of course, it’s not that simple (sigh…).

Here are the facts you need to decide whether fortified foods are right for you and your family.

Fortified Foods vs. Enriched Foods

First, a distinction: fortification and enrichment are both processes that add nutrients to food, but they’re slightly different.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), fortification is when a nutrient is added to a food that never contained that nutrient. Adding vitamin D to orange juice or milk is a good example.

Enrichment, on the other hand, is when nutrients that are lost during processing are added back into a food. For instance, when whole wheat is processed into white flour, iron and B vitamins may be added back in a synthetic form.

Fortified Foods’ Potential Benefits

Government agencies and food policy advocates often use enrichment and fortification to decrease nutrient deficiencies in large populations, and this approach can be super effective.

In the 1920s, companies began adding iodine to table salt to combat a high incidence of goiters in the US, and in 1996 the FDA mandated adding synthetic folic acid to processed grains in order to combat high incidences of neural tube defects in newborn babies. These policies have helped prevent real public health problems.

The Problems with Fortified Foods

There are a few big issues with the average consumer eating fortified foods regularly.

Many experts argue that your body does not absorb individual nutrients added to foods in the same way that it absorbs nutrients that naturally occur in whole foods, consumed alongside all kinds of other complementary nutrients. A simple example is skim milk that is fortified with vitamin A and D. The milk has been processed to remove the fat, but A and D are fat-soluble vitamins. So if you eat them without a fat source, you may not benefit in the same way or to the same degree.

And most food companies are using synthetic versions of the micronutrients, which your body may process differently than the natural, food-based versions.

Finally, companies often add vitamins into these foods at incredibly high levels—up to 100 percent of the recommended daily amount into one serving of food. Since most people (probably like you!) don’t have severe deficiencies, eating a lot of foods that are enriched or fortified may cause you to exceed the recommended daily intake by a long shot. In severe (rare) cases, this can lead to toxicity overload, or it may mess with things like your digestion. Some individuals have troubling breaking down folic acid, for example, and eating enriched bread, pasta, and cereal regularly could cause blood concentrations to increase to a level that can decrease immunity or mask a vitamin B12 deficiency.

The Takeaway

Here’s the bottom line: you may have noticed something about the fortified foods mentioned here—they’re usually highly processed (AKA unhealthy!) to begin with.

So, while fortification can be a useful tool for delivering nutrients to at-risk populations, if you’re lucky enough to have the choice, it’s better to skip labels that say enriched or fortified and reach for naturally nutrient-rich whole foods.

fortified foodsAbout Jeanette: Jeanette Kimszal is a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and graduate of The Nutrition School. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies from Rutgers University and worked on the media side of advertising. During that time, she became health-conscious and decided to turn her nutrition hobby into a new career. She was accepted to Montclair State University and two years later obtained a certification in Nutrition, and then completed her dietetic internship with the ARAMARK Distance Learning Internship. She has experience working in clinical, community, and management settings and has counseled both in- and out-patients. She currently resides in New Jersey, and her passions include nutrition, health, wellness, writing, and music. She has a love for helping women attain healthy lifestyles through positive behavioral changes and teaching people how to add more nutrients into their diet through consumption of whole foods.

How to Handle Fussy Eaters

Fussy eaters tend to sound something like,

“I’m not eating that!!”



“I only want butter and pasta mom!”

Kids and their food can be tricky to navigate.

What to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, what’s acceptable junk, how much junk is too much, how few veggies are not life threatening… all these thoughts dominate many parents’ days as they try to feed their fussy eaters and navigate their likes and dislikes like a full time job.

Whether you’re a parent or not, most likely you’ve seen or been exposed to the spectrum of issues that arise when it comes to kids and their food.

Everything from overeating, to under-eating, to picky-eating, to straight up sugar fiends, to wondering what’s lurking in the store bought version of your homemade faves, it’s hard not to worry about whether your child is eating properly.

I’ve had many clients come to me with issues involving their fussy eaters liking “nothing” and refusing to eat, only to come back to me 5 years down the line concerned that their child is overweight, or is a junk food junkie, or is sneaking food.

So figuring out how to avoid this tug of war in the first place is key, and if you think you’ve lost the battle already I want to encourage you to keep at the good food fight.

There’s a whole spectrum of concerns and solutions and by no means is there one easy answer but the 5 tips I talk about in the below video are what I’ve found to be most helpful in getting your kids to eat healthy and most importantly develop a healthy relationship with food.

How to Handle Fussy Eaters


Should You Exercise With a Cold?

By Cassie Piasecki, NLC

You’ve been kicking booty at the gym and are finally in the habit of daily exercise when ka-BOOM, you wake up with a sore throat and a stuffy nose.  

You feel deflated because you were finally starting to see the results of your hard work. You sit on the edge of your bed, holding a box of tissues, thinking to yourself, “Should I exercise with a cold?”

The docs will tell you that if your symptoms are above the neck like a sore throat and a stuffy nose, it’s okay to workout. If your symptoms are below the neck, like a fever, a cough, body aches or worse, the docs want you to stay home and chill.

As a Pilates Instructor who has had plenty of clients show up for class with a cold, I have some added advice.  

When you have a cold, it’s a sign that your body is trying to cleanse itself. It’s looking for rest and rehab vs. the rigors of your usual workout. Does that mean that you need to sit at home?  No way.  

My favorite ways to exercise with a cold:

These low-intensity workouts will allow you to exercise with a cold while you body’s trying to recover. Do you notice what else these types of workouts have in common? They involve NOT going to the gym, the indoor cycling studio or the barre class.

That’s right! While rehabbing your body, you’re keeping your germs to yourself. And because not everyone has good manners like you do, here are my top ways to avoid catching a cold in the first place:

If you still feel like you’re dragging, and the above suggestions don’t feel right, it’s OK to give your body a few days off from all workouts. A short break won’t unravel all of your efforts.

You should feel empowered that you listened to your body and return to your usual plan with positive energy both mentally and physically when the time is right.


Cassie PiaseckiAbout Cassie: Cassie Piasecki, NLC is a Pilates Method Alliance, Certified Pilates Teacher, personal trainer, and Nutritious Life Certified Nutritionist based in Newport Beach, California. With over 24 years of experience, Cassie has taught fitness to over 10,000 people! She now connects with clients both in the studio and online via her website. Her favorite quote comes from Joseph Pilates, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”

How to Eat Healthier Every Single Day

If we all knew how to eat healthier, we’d all be doing it, right?


“I know I’m supposed to eat vegetables, but it’s just so hard to get them in.” I wish I had a penny for every time I heard a client or friend say this.


You may know vegetables are good for you but did you know that research shows that eating 7 or more servings of vegetables a day significantly reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke?


Yep, that’s right, vegetables can save your life.



Veggies are loaded with disease- and age- fighting antioxidants and fiber which promotes gut health and helps keep you full. They also have high water volume, which aids in hydration and keeps you feeling full long after you showed that zucchini the way to your belly.


You’re not alone if you’re still having trouble incorporating enough of them into your diet. So I’m going to teach you how to eat healthier by getting them in 5 times daily (which by the way, easily adds up to more than the recommended 7 servings!), without spending hours in the kitchen or having the skills of your fave Food Network star.


Check out the video above where I give you ways to get a veggie in at every meal, (plus two snacks!) starting with breakfast.


Why Sourdough Bread is Secretly Healthy

Q: Is sourdough bread good for you?

A: Though it’s comparable to a regular slice of white in the amount of calories, carbs, and fiber,  sourdough is lower in sugar and higher in protein, which gives it a leg up.

Traditional white bread is usually made with sugar, canola oil, and dried, preserved yeast to leaven the dough.

Sourdough bread is usually made with no sweeteners or oils. It contains mostly whole wheat flour and water, and its secret ingredient: live yeast cultures, which is the “thing” that gives it that well known tangy flavor.

Not only does using live instead of dried yeast change the flavor, but it also means it stays fresh after being baked much longer than factory baked bread and doesn’t require any extra preservatives to ward off mold.

But it gets better.

Similar to other fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, and kombucha, sourdough bread is fermented by using lactobacillus cultures (a probiotic, aka bacteria that benefits your gut).

The cultures don’t survive the baking process (bummer!), but lactic acid is created (bonus!), and that does the body a whole lot of good.

Lactic acid helps decrease the levels of phytic acid in bread (phytic acid interferes with the absorption of certain nutrients, which is a bad thing). This in turn, helps other nutrients become more readily available, digestible and absorbable. Teamwork makes the dream work.

However, before you run to the bakery, remember, sourdough bread is well…bread! I’m guessing you didn’t need me to tell you that.

So, as I like to remind all of my clients, too much of (almost) anything is never a good thing.

If you’re gonna eat a slice of bread with your next meal, consider making the switch from your sugary, preservativey, packaged version to tangy, crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside sourdough.
But, tear off that healthy halo and put it on your head after you eat just one slice.

2 Farro Salad Recipes You NEED in Your Life

Kale salad, check. Three berry fruit salad, check. Cucumber salad, check. Farro salad? Hmmmm.

You’re eating clean. Getting in those greens. Drinking your tea. And, chowing down on nuts and avocado. But, you still need a little substance.

Something solid as a side dish (or even a main meal) when salmon and spinach alone don’t do the trick.

Rice? Pasta? No thank you refined starchy evil doers.

Quinoa? Been there, done that for the past two years.

Enter your new friend farro, also known as emmer or “true” farro. Sometimes this ancient grain gets confused with spelt, worthy of praise too, but different in taste, texture and nutrients than the the real deal variety.

When you a need a hearty side dish that you can feel empowered eating, give this really retro grain a try. Farro is a whole grain loaded with vits and mins, fiber and a little protein. Its also your new grain friend-with-benefits: it’s lower in calories than brown rice and quinoa and higher in fiber. Queue the mic drop.

Here are two of my fave go to farro salad recipes for you to give a try:


Fresh Mozzarella Farro Salad – Get the Recipe!

fresh mozzerella farro salad


Asparagus Farro Salad – Get the Recipe!



2 Reasons to Have a Healthy Sex Life

Q: You’re a nutritionist. Why in the world do you talk about sex?

A: Having a healthy sex life means different things to different people. So when I ask my clients about theirs, I’ve seen more than a few jaws drop in my days. Why am I digging into this topic?

As part of a whole person and Nutritious Life approach to wellness and weight management, it’s important to look at what’s happening between my clients’ sheets. But the dirty deets aren’t what I’m after.

Scientists have linked feel good hormones with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. We all have stressors and stress hormones that build up in our systems and act like toxins in our bodies. But there are also hormones that do exactly the opposite – they make us feel good. These hormones deserve just as much attention, which is why I’m chatting it up about your sex life.


2 Reasons to Have a Healthy Sex Life


1. Oxytocin

Oxytocin is well studied for its calming effects. It’s released from the pituitary during orgasm, hugging, touching, breast feeding, bonding, and feel good moments. It floods the body with relaxation messages and lowers anxiety and the brain’s natural resistance responses. It’s also associated with increasing feelings of trust and generosity.

Why is this so important for anyone trying live a healthy life or eat a healthy diet? Because we all know there is so much research linking stress to weight gain. So if having a healthy sex life increases your oxytocin which lowers your stress, it can help you actually lose weight! Boom.


2. Endorphins

Endorphins are linked to feelings of well being. They are naturally released from the brain and spinal cord during sex, exercise, physical activity, positive thinking and emotional stimulus. They’re also associated with lessening feelings of pain and depression by triggering positive feelings and reducing feelings of stress.

Why is this so important for anyone trying live a healthy life and eat a balanced diet? Again, that stress and weight gain thing. Having a healthy sex life releases endorphins, which lowers stress, which helps you lose weight. Double boom.

So there you have it. Having a healthy sex life in this case has nothing to do with Rated R details. It has everything to do with hormones, and it’s one best ways to lose weight.

Oxytocin and endorphins stimulate a metabolic process to reduce the intake of calories, reduce hunger and slow the digestion of fat. The more you feel good, the greater your health, weight management and wellness benefit, the smaller your pant size, the more you want to have sex…it’s a cycle that just keeps on going! Now go get busy…