Healthy Food Blog

I want you to live better. Blogging about how you can.

20 Creative Oatmeal Toppings!

You know how much I love oatmeal on the meal plans!

Some fan faves are the double chocolate oatmeal, apple pie oatmeal, and pumpkin oatmeal (mmm... mmm...)

Here are a few other delicious (but deceptively healthy!) ideas for your oats!

Pineapple (chunks, juice, and some coconut flakes if you're into coconut)

Pomegranate seeds


Shredded carrots (with raisins and walnuts! Think "carrot cake"!)

Ginger (esp. with pears!)


Peanut butter & jelly


Flavored jams!

Want more ideas? Here are my Top 12 BEST Low Calorie Oatmeal Toppings!

And check out this "oatmeal toppings bar" idea from Engine 2!

(Plus at least ONE, if not TWO new ways to eat oatmeal every week on the meal plans! Nom!)

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6 Foods To Buy On A Budget

Everyone loves saving money on groceries, that's what's so great about the included shopping list on the 7-day meal plans. You buy only what you need for the week!

But if you're on a really strict budget, there are items you can buy to ensure your pantry is stocked and you'll always have a nutritious meal.

The Daily Finance recently released a list of 7 Foods to Buy When You're Broke, and surprisingly a majority of the items were plant-based.

Beans & Rice You'll get a lot of bang for your buck when you buy dried beans in bulk. Twos cups can easily expand to 4-5 cups when cooked. Brown rice is also inexpensive, and when you pair them together you have yourself an easy, tasty and cheap meal!

Green Vegetables Stock up on your greens! Broccoli, spinach and kale are nutrient-rich and are great additions to any meal. If you're looking for a low-fat and inexpensive way to dress up your salads, try balsamic vinegar or my favorite, lemon juice.

Frozen Vegetables Fresh vegetables are great, but if you're on a budget, frozen veggies are a good alternative!

Potatoes It's amazing what you can do with a potato! A baked potato with a little bit of salsa makes a fantastic side. Eat it with a side of greens or veggies and you have an awesome meal.

Peanut Butter I usually advise to eat peanut butter sparingly (or skip it completely for a lower fat option). But if you're on a budget, I'd much rather someone eat a peanut butter sandwich than something incredibly unhealthy from a fast food chain!

For more ways to shrink your grocery bill read 10 Ways To Shrink Your Grocery Bill.

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Why Exercise Doesn't Help With Weight Loss

One of the most common questions I get asked from clients is why they aren't losing weight from exercise.

Here's the simple answer: diet (or WHAT you're eating) is far more important than exercising!

Don't get me wrong, I think exercise is important for overall health, but it's not required for weight loss. It also requires more of a juggling act than if you try to lose based on diet alone.

If you want to exercise, by all means do, but make sure you're eating enough and be careful not to deplete your glycogen. Also, workout machines and fitness apps aren't accurate! Don't eat additional calories because the elliptical said you burned 500 calories, most of the time it's not even close to that amount.

I also do not recommend daily exercise. Any trainer will tell you working out every day is too much unless it's light activity like walking or gentle yoga.

The 7-day meal plans take out all the guess work and I'm thrilled to have so many success stories.

For those looking to lose weight, stick to the meal plan as close as possible and choose the lower fat options!

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14 Healthy Valentine's Day Treats You'll Love!

Valentine's Day is just a week away! Rather than indulging in unhealthy sweets, here are some fun and healthy treats that everyone will love!

Who needs a bouquet of roses when you can eat these delicious strawberry roses? (Source)

Instead of handing out candy, why not give your Valentines fruit with a cute (and funny) tag? (Source)

Make heart-shaped Happy Herbivore cinnamon buns for breakfast! (Source)

Or get a little creative with vegan pancakes.

Use a marble to give your cupcakes a heart shape. (Source)

If roses aren't your thing, try making a veggie bouquet. (Source)

Oranges slices make a cute arrow through a watermelon heart. (Source)

These strawberry and grape skewers are super easy (and tasty!) (Source)

Who doesn't heart tomatoes?

Show your love for apples! (Source)

Oranges make the perfect "basket" to hold all the fruit you love. (Source)

Eat your heart out with a heart-shaped burger. (Try the Quick Burgers!)

And serve them with little heart-shaped potatoes! (Remember to ditch the oil!) (Source)

You can also make heart-shaped brown rice veggie sushi! (Source)

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Hit a Plateau? This Tiny Tweak Makes a Huge Difference

In response to my post, Why you can't lose weight from exercise combined with caloric restriction, Vangie sent in the following email:

"loved this post! I too stayed without change for an extended period, and was encouraged that the body also has a "memory" of weight, especially if you held that weight for a long time. My son (who is a runner) had suggested brisk walking.

Previously I biked, and stationary biked 4 or more times a week. I began walking 2 miles 4-5 times a week and within a month inches just began to drop! I have been in exercise and weight training for over 30 years, having used every form of fitness to stay fit, and I discovered a simple change to my routine, made a huge difference! Thanks for all your meal plans, helpful tips, and suggestions, I've been tapping into them!"

When I was a personal trainer, many of my clients came to me after they too had reached a plateau, despite being active, working out regularly, and eating right.

There are a few issues in play with plateaus. For one, calorie restriction for weight-loss only works when you eat right. I saw that time and time again with my clients. WHAT you're eating often matters more than how many calories. (This is why I love the meal plans so much. It takes the guess work out of eating right. AND the calories are already counted and balanced for you!)

Second, you can't do the same exercises indefinitely. You have to keep changing your workout strategy for weight-loss and improvement, though I generally tell my clients not to exercise until they have reached their weight goals.

Point is, you can get in a rut with your exercise regimen, just as you can get in a rut with your diet. Change it up. Try new forms of exercise. Take a new class. Explore. Get outside of your comfort zone but most importantly: eat right!

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How To Prevent Weight Gain This Winter (This Solution Will Shock You!)

Holiday feasts, candy all over the office, holiday parties, hot drinks to stay warm, and/or a gradual decrease in physical activity... there are just so many weight gain traps during the winter!

January, as you might expect, was always one of my busiest months as a personal trainer. (I always picked up a dozen or more New Years' resolutioners as clients). But the real busy time was just before Spring arrived.

Former clients came back needing help to shed their "winter weight" as they called it. Many of these return clients had worked with me to lose weight, but then as they kept it off, stopped using my services. Many went months and months without losing any of their progress... and then winter happened.

What was it about these cold months? They had no problem keeping the weight off every other season....

Logical explanations were the ones I first mentioned in the beginning of this post, but the real culprit (in my opinion) is clothing. Say no to baggy fits!

Roomy sweaters and sweat pants are comfy, but stretchy and loose-fitted clothes make you lose sight of the body underneath.

In fact, many of my return clients came back to me only when they realized all their Spring and Summer clothes fit a little too snug... or not at all. (That's why they weren't January resolutioners --- they didn't realize they'd gained).

Moral of the story? Include fitted attire in your winter wardrobe :)

Other tips:

Stay active -- layer up so you feel warm even if it's snowy. If you absolutely hate the cold, hit up a hot yoga session and sweat! Or try cycling, pilates, or another indoor class.

It's also okay if you want to take a break and rest this winter. However, if you DO decrease your activity level, make sure you adjust your calories and how much you're eating too!

Next, be weary of hot drinks. Cold hands around a warm cup is great... as long as it's herbal tea (unsweetened). Cafe shop coffees (and even some tea beverages, like Chai teas) are the nutritional (and caloric equivalent) of a small candy bar. Avoid all those empty calories.

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