Thinking Out Loud: A blogpost in 13 minutes.

It’s late, for me. (….10:47 pm….)

Well, compared to my normal bedtime these days, it’s early. I’m laying here in bed and I have 13 minutes before I am forcing lights  out.  So I might as well write, right?  I don’t even know where to start!

First of all. Remember that post I tried to give some funny advice on picking your NCAA bracket? …yeah don’t follow it, I’m in the bottom 3 in all my brackets.  (WHOOPS).  But my Badgers are still hanging in there!  They play tonight and need all the love they can get!

Another professor went on maternity leave and I am covering her class and labs. To say these first couple days have been insane is an understatement.  I clear my desk, only to have papers/tests/quizzes pile up the next minute.  While this is going to look awesome on my file to say I took this on in my 1st year as a professor, I will now say it’s going to be a miracle if I make it through the next month without any gray hair or having an anxiety attack.

In addition to my work life taking over my life, coaching frisbee + trying to find a new place to live + trying to buy a road bike when I have no idea what I’m doing has been challenging.   For the record, I LOVE COACHING FRISBEE! It is the best 1.5 hours of my day…but it’s 1.5 hours of my day that I’m not working out and not catching up on life things.  I tell myself it’s all about choices, so I have no right to complain.  But is it too much to ask for more hours in a day?

Did anyone see the GIRLS season finale? It was my favorite of any of the season finales!  I was totally in love with this season…and not just because Hannah went to Iowa.  I loved seeing all four of them grow up and mature more so this season than any before.  Shosh is by far my fave.  Thoughts?

Um.  Greek Yogurt Alfredo Spaghetti Squash Bowls.  CAN WE SAY AMAZE? My friend Beth led me to the recipe and I altered it to fit my needs…recipe coming soon! (so like in 2 months).

A photo posted by Emily (@emhi10s) on

The best surprise of this semester is how much fun I’ve had teaching a nutrition class to non-majors.  Most of them are seniors, so the motivation can be lacking some days, but most days they have so many great questions! It’s a much more laid back atmosphere than teaching intro nutrition classes to nutrition majors where we have a very strict and robust curriculum to get through.  Although it’s been a lot of work, I’ve had fun with them this semester.  I’m still on the no-repeat outfit challenge and my sneaky office snapchat selfie game is as strong as eva.

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The fact that I actually did laundry and my dishes today is a miracle.  So I’m celebrating that…it’s the little things right?

I went on a date with a guy a couple weeks ago (yes, a real date with a real guy…WHAT UP 27).  But that’s not the real story here.  He asked me if I wanted kids.  Without thinking I said yes.. Followed by (still without thinking) “actually i have no idea. I thought I did, but now I don’t know”…he was confused, but I was crystal clear…..and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this convo.     I have been so focused on grad school/starting my career that thinking about finding someone + starting a family has been in the background.  Over the past few years I didn’t realize how much I had changed until that date with that guy when I got asked 1023 life questions and was surprised at more of my answers than just the kids one. :)  It was wierd, but a good wierd.

Still wanting to recap the Nashville trip I took with the sis a few weeks ago.

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I’m going to Boston, tomorrow!  RANDOM I KNOW.

Any advice on what to do and what to eat?

 

Ok so that blogpost took 21 minutes. Whoops! Tell me something about your life!

**Linking up with Thinking Out Loud/Amanda from Running With Spoons!

My advice for filling out your NCAA March Madness Bracket (and possibly win your pool)

My favorite time of the year (more like 3rd favorite if I’m being honest) is upon us.  MARCH MADNESS.  The NCAA Basketball Tourney picks 64 teams to compete for the national title, ranks them, and then they duke it out.   It has become a sport in itself for basketball fans to fill out their “bracket” and guess which teams will advance.   The good news is that the games start this morning at 11 am (Thursday March 19), so you still have time to get your picks in and join that office pool!

Being the deathly competitive person I am, I live for this time of year!  I also really like basketball and rooting for the underdog.   Out of the 20 pools I have been involved in during my lifetime, I can say I have only won 2 of them, which is a terrible record haha…but I have a good time doing it!   I should also note that I have seen people win March Madness Pools with absolutely NO interest in basketball…it’s a crapshoot!

So for those of you who may avoid your office pool in fear of embarrassment you’re in luck, I’ll give you my…interesting….guide to how I fill out my bracket.  You’ll see that there is no method to the madness and that bracketology is for everyone!

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Rules I live by when filling out my bracket every year:

1. Do I like the school  playing?  There are only 2 schools that fit this: Wisconsin and Iowa State. So they typically at least win one game in my bracket every year.  This year, I have them both going…far.  I typically follow logic, but this year having both my teams do so well I had to go with the heart. We’ll see how badly I lose.

2. Are there any other schools from my home state (IOWAAAA)?  This year there are.  Iowa (the hawkeyes)– I guess for the sake of unity in the state of Iowa, I’ll root for them to win one game, but that’s about it (I’m not a hawkeye fan if you can tell).  The University of Northern Iowa Panthers are also in this year– I’ll pull for ‘em!

3. Do I like the area where the school is?  Meaning, is it near a beach or the Pacific Northwest?…. I’ll probably pick that team.

4. Does my dad like their coach?  My dad has some crazy stories about running basketball camps with some coaches that went on to do badass things (think Bo Ryan, Coach K…yes, my dad has a story about Coach K).  Typically if Jer has said good things about them, I’ll give their team the W.

5. Have we ever been on a plane with the coach’s family?  One time Bill Self (Kansas) and his family were on our flight home from spring break.  My dad was in heaven.  I’ve rooted for them (as long as they weren’t playing Iowa State) ever since, but they have a habit of choking, FYI.

6.  Random Posts on msn.com about upsets in the tournament.  I’ll usually pick 1 or 2 of these

7.  Is anyone on their team cute? Pick  that one.

8. Is it a game with 5  seed vs. 12 seed or 7 seed vs. 10 seed? Pick the 12 or the 10 seed to pull off an upset, but not both of them, in each region –> I have tried to abide by this rule since high school and when I do, I swear I have ended up in the top 5 of every NCAA pool I’ve done it in.

9. Is their coach good looking?  Pick them.  Ummm, and can we also say HOW GOOD LOOKING IS THE MAYOR?!

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10.  For the final four/national championship/national champion.  Did Obama pick them?  Don’t pick them.  He hasn’t guessed a national champion correct since 2009** However, see 2015 guidelines below.

Other Guidelines:

When I’m in doubt on a game, go with the Big 10 conference team if they are playing.   There are some matchups with Big 10 Teams that I wouldn’t choose that team, but if I’m stuck, I’ll go with a team from the Big 10 conference.  I may be flushing my bracket down the toilet this year, but although Michigan State and Ohio State are ranked with lower seed in their games,  I still pick ‘em to win for the upset and advance at least 2 wins.

Go with emotion the first two rounds, then go with logic.

It’s honestly a crapshoot.  Remember when Warren Buffet offered  1 billion dollars to one person who picked a perfect bracket last year…and no one won it?

**2015 Special:

I will tell you now that Kentucky is undefeated.  Normally, I would say this would get them far in the tournament but not a championship (as history shows us).  However, I’ve watched some Kentucky bball this winter and they are damn good.  Not a bad overall winner.

And thats it!

So how many of you fill out brackets?  Who are YOUR favorite teams?

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The New 2015 Restaurant Labeling Laws (Did You Know? Friday Linkup)

HI FROM IOWA.  I’m on Spring Break this week and am here in Iowa for a hot second as a stopover from a roadtrip to Nashville with my sister. It was her birthday Tuesday (everyone give her a virtual birthday hug!) and we randomly had the same spring break, so we left last Saturday from our parents house and spent a few days in music city!  We had a great time and hopefully I’ll find some time this month to talk about it on the blog.

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Regardless, it’s the first Friday of march and you know what that means…DID YOU KNOW FRIDAY!  I have a cool topic this week for you.

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This topic was inspired by one of my senior capstone students who chose this for his capstone paper, so I decided to expand on it and do some of my own research and bring it to you on the blog today.

The overview:  By December 2015, all chain restaurants (more than 20 locations) will have to post calorie content on all menus and signs (even for buffets, etc.).

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Some restaurants, like Starbucks, already do post their calorie information.  Restaurants will also have to have other nutrient information (think fat, sodium, vitamins, minerals) on hand if a customer requests it.   The restaurant will also need to post a statement somewhere relating how calories fit into their daily life (think Recommended calories, etc.).   Employees will need to be trained on how to talk with guests about the nutrition information.  I pulled all of this directly from the FDA website here.

So implications of this would obviously be that menus will be changing and employees will need to have some short training on the nutrition information to answer questions.   I believe in the nutrition world knowledge is power, so I think holding restaurants accountable for providing as much information as possible is great.

However, there is a big question.

Will this make a difference in what people choose to consume?

Ehhhh, yes and no.  Pay attention closely.  Also please know that there is way more information out there than I could put in a blogpost, so this is just a snapshot. Some studies say calorie labeling on menu and restaurant signs doesn’t reduce calorie consumption, but others do.

Studies in both Philadelphia and New York City within the last 5 years found that calorie labeling did increased consumer/customer awareness of calories at fast food restaurants, but did not change the amount of calories consumed (Elbel et al., 2013 & Elbel et al., 2011).  A recent study, however, found that calorie consumption did decrease slightly in fast food and coffee chains, but it was too small to really make a notable difference (Krieger et al, 2013).  I think it’s important to remember that at most chain restaurants, the majority of the foods have a lot of calories and a lot of fat, so even if we post the calorie information, there may not always be a much better option.

I honestly think the key to helping us make healthier choices when eating out is a) awareness of the calorie content and b) the knowledge to know just how much those calories are worth (Example, do you really know what a 400 calorie dinner looks like?).   This is where I think we may be getting somwhere with the new labeling laws.  A recent study found that calorie labels on menu and signs did make consumers more aware of the calories in foods, helping them to more accurately guess the amount of calories they were consuming.  Before labeling, consumers inaccurately guessed how many calories they were consuming by underestimating, which is bad (thinking they only consume 300 instead of 600, for example).  After labeling, the odds of the consumer of accurately guessing calorie content within 100 calories increased.  Also to note, the more education the consumer had, the better they were at estimating.  (Taksler and Elbel, 2014).

So this leads me to the short and sweet bottom line:   A) There’s going to be more calorie information and nutrition information available at restaurants B) In order to take advantage, it will benefit consumers to have some idea of what “x amount of calories” looks like in order to decide what’s best.

Sources Used:

Taskler and Elbel Study (2014),  Vadiveloo et al., 2011, Elbel et al., 2013, FDA Regulations

Remember to go visit some of the other great posts and link up below!


My must-haves at Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s has been one of the best additions ever to my foodie-life.  Being from a small town in Iowa, I wasn’t exposed until moving to Madison.

And then a monster was born.  Once I tried out some of their stuff, I was hooked.  The prices and variety on my poor-kid grad school budget were absolutely clutch.  The town I live in now doesn’t have a Trader Joe’s, so I have to make sure and stock up whenever I am in the cities, about an hour away.  I typically make it there at least every other week, which has me on a good cycle!  I have about 10 “staples” that I buy each time I’m there, and then buy a few other things based on what I need or plan to make during the week.

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My Trader Joe’s Must Haves (literally, must have every visit).

  • Carrots and green beans…they are so cheap, and I love that their beans are washed and trimmed already!
  • White Cheddar Popcorn
  • Pizza Al Pollo Asado…this is one of my favorite things to bring for lunch.  The crust is corn meal and the toppings of chicken, peppers, and beans make it a tasty lunch!
  • Chocolate covered sunflower seeds. Treat yo’self.
  • Dark Chocolate Almond Bark. People, this is what crack in food form looks like.
  • Bananas and apples. Convenience is key, so i try to pick these up while I’m there.
  •  Turkey Burgers.  These are great for when I need a quick dinner.
  •  Edamame Crackers.  I like that these crackers are smaller and have a little different flavor than typical crackers.  They also go great with the hummus!
  • And lastly, my favorite…Hummus!!  If I could only eat one item from TJ’s for the rest of my life, it would be their hummus. Case in point- buying 3 containers. 116

So there you have it, my must-haves every time I’m at Trader Joe’s.  Obviously, My grocery-buying and diet consist of more than this with area grocery stores, but they just don’t compare to TJ’s!

What about you? What are your Trader Joe’s must haves?

This is 27: Eel Pouts and Hipster Blends

I am 15 days into being 27 and so far, I have no complaints.

True to my 2015 resolution, I’m working on a) life balance and b) trying to actually like living in Minnesota.

Some days, I feel like I’m majorly failing at both.  This weekend though, I did not.

Saturday some friends and I ventured up north to for the Eel Pout Festival on Leech Lake.  Think hundreds of ice fishermen, small town MN, and a heated beer tent with a bar made out of ice. There was a polar plunge going on, some other winter activities, and my favorite– Eel Pout Ice Curling!

163 153 So yeah, that’s a frozen eel pout fish in an ice block…and basically, like curling, you push it along the ice to try and hit the target!  It was fun but hard because I kept slipping on the ice (see above).

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Despite the 3 degree temps, we were toasty warm in the beer tent (which, we did have to pay $20 to enter) and enjoyed many a miller lite and people watching.  Very, very entertaining.   I’d also like to thank my Northface long johns (clearance from REI Outlet) who were da real MVP allowing me to feel my legs by the end of the day.

Saturday night I caught up on some grading and grey’s anatomy (nothing says 27 by being exhausted by 8 pm and having sincere excitement to sit on your couch and just veg).  Speaking of grey’s…i think its time to be done.   Or bring back McDreamy.  Your thoughts?

Sunday started out with a selfie.  Because although I am 27, I still am shameless and felt the need to document my semi-hipster look I had going on (if only my half combat boots were included in this pic).

167 I was super pumped about this  blogging t-shirt that said “I’m not a player, I just blog a lot” that Abhay got me for my birthday from Raygun.  Raygun is this awesome store that started in Iowa (HOLLA) and has sarcastic tshirts.  They’re brilliant.

 

I spent the afternoon with a couple of blends (blend = blogging friends), Kim and Amanda.  They are fantastic, it is so nice to have female friends outside of work!  Don’t get me wrong, I love, love my group of friends I’ve made through work…but it’s also nice to have other friends who have similar hobbies (like blogging, running, etc.,) that you can indulge about those activities with! 180

Naturally, being the good bloggers we are we documented our hang with some amazing natural light.  I am so looking forward to hanging out with blends more as I journey on making a life in this state!

 

Also on my mind this week:

Watching the Oscars now and can I just say A-TO THE-MEN to Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech speaking up for equality for women?

The Bachelor.  OBVI, I’m invested because Chris Soules is a fellow Iowan and lives an hour from where my grandparents lived (so basically, we’re soules mates. Baha.).  I picked Whitney in my Bachelor Bracket League (1. yes there are such things 2. surprisingly, one of my good guy friends is in charge of it) and i am still stickin to it!  Girl just has got it going on…successful, sweet, down to earth.  I also love Kaitlyn and would give anything to be as funny as her.

Grading. SERIOUSLY DOES IT EVER STOP.

 

….what about you? what did you do this weekend?

Read it: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Whenever I get the chance to read anything written by female comedians, I do. I believe they are great role models for women, encouraging self confidence, hard work, and staying true to what you believe in.

I often associate Amy Poehler and Tina Fey together due to their time on SNL, movies, and phenomenal hosting of awards shows.  I read Tina’s memoir Bossy Pants last year and loved it, so I was thrilled to read what Amy had written.  My mom bought the book for the girls in our family to share, and I was the first to devour it over Christmas break.

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I loved parts of the book and was a little bored with other parts.  Amy’s outlook on life based on her hard work and experiences are genuine and real.  My favorite quote of the whole book was on a chapter she wrote about having a baby and motherhood…and how different it is for everyone.  Regarding advice, etc., from others she says:

“Good for you, but not for me”.

And i was like, A-TO THE-MEN, Amy Poehler.

It is hard for me at times to accept choices and actions of others that I don’t agree with.  I also find it hard to tolerate others when they don’t accept or understand my choices.  The more independent I’ve become in the past couple years, the more I’ve really had to work on this concept and Amy just hits the nail right on the head.  I posted this quote above my desk and refer to it often.

Amy talks extensively about her rise through the ranks of comedy…at times, I found this a little long, but I was still really impressed by her guts and hard work.  She writes about the highs and the lows, and how they made her stronger.   Her humor is, as expected, brilliant.  Clear, real, and confident.

Read it.  It’s a good one.

27 thoughts on my 27th birthday

It is the early morning hours of my 27th birthday.  When I say 27 out loud, it sounds a lot like adult.  This is the first birthday where I feel like an adult.  I ache from yoga and a broomball tournament yesterday, I wake up at 7 am regardless of how exhausted I am, last night I stopped at 2 drinks because I wanted to actually feel ok for today.

So here are 27 random thoughts I have been thinking lately, as I make to another year here on this earth:

The big questions I’ve been asking myself lately:

`1. How will 27 ever compare to 26, the best year of my life so far?

2.  What do I need to do to make it even better than 26?

Places I’m looking forward to traveling while 27

3, Boston!

4, Nashville!

5. 2 National Parks west of Colorado….now that I have a job with minimal summer requirement, I want to spend that time outdoors exploring!

Minnesota Life Thoughts

6.  It is no lie that I love, love my job, but on the contrary am not a huge fan of the area I live in (that is the really nice way of putting it).

7.  Over the past few weeks I’ve come to realize that maybe it’s not the area I don’t like, it’s just the loneliness I don’t like.  My first year in Madison was rough and looking back, the challenges I felt there stemmed from loneliness.

8. Cannot wait for summer in Minnesota: Triathlons and lake time at our cabin up north!

9.  My favorite thing…..my faveeeeeorite thing about where I live, is that I have tons of extended family in this area of MN that I never knew very well growing up.  I don’t see that them that often, but honestly, the conversations and seeing them is my favorite thing ever right now, and definitely helps with the loneliness.

Things I’m looking forward to while being 27:

10. Training with a local triathlon club

11. Seeing my mom go tubing for the first time (!!!!!!). :)

12. Having more chill weekends…not always traveling, being on the go.

Goals for 27

13. Start my research program (this is a must)

14, Find a place to volunteer

15. Become a consistently good water skiier.

16, Keep traveling and staying true to my goals/dreams!

Other thoughts (very random):

17. Katie Looking Forward is my favorite Minnesotan.  I also refer to her as my “spirit guide”, because she has become one of my main lifelines when I need life decision (or clothing decision too) advice.  I am so lucky to have her ridiculous honesty and motivation in my life..I always think God must have known we were meant to be friends by helping me move closer to her!

18. turning one year old ALSO separates me as one year older than my students!  Hopefully it will be less intriguing for them when I say I’m 27, instead of 26.  Ive never had an issue with age, as I teach primarily freshmen, but I did have some seniors this year and it is a little wierd at times being the authority over seniors (22 years old) who are so close in age.

19.The older I get, the more my signature looks like my moms and the older i get the more I become like my dad.

20. Grading papers puts me to sleep.  Not because the paper is boring, but I’ve found that after I’ve read 3 in a row I am sleepy.  I think I may try grading while walking on the treadmill for the rest of the semester.

21. I also hope grading doesn’t give me any gray hairs.

22. I have thought about scratching my blog multiple times over the past few months.  It has been hard to maintain with my job and although I love it, I sometimes wonder if it’s actually serving it’s purpose.

23. I have thought about starting a new blog dedicated to 20-something women who are young professionals.  In my job, I learn something new everyday and I think it would be beneficial to have a commonplace for women to talk about their work, their dreams, their fears in their careers.

24.  My beloved hair dryer, which I have had since I was 8 and was a gift from our nanny, Jean, started smoking last week.  Call it wierd, but I’ve always felt that the “hair dryer that lived” was a sign that she is always with me and has been since she died.  Here’s to better luck this week with it!

25.  In the past year, I’ve become more of a feminist than I ever would have bargained for. And I like who I’ve become.

Two books I hope to read while 27.

26. Not That Kind of Girl– Lena Dunham

27. GAME OF THRONES!!!!!

Lastly. ….Here, have a picture with my new glasses.

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Anyway, I’m off to brunch…does a birthday start any better than that?

 

Did You Know? Friday: An easy intro to alternative sweeteners

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Hello hello!  This week’s Did You Know? Friday topic came from a topic in one of my classes last week that had a lot of questions!  We were talking about hot topics in carbohydrates: high fructose corn syrup, whole grains, annnnnnd alternative sweeteners.   So today, I decided to write about alternative sweeteners because I know there is a lot of misinformation out there about them. Also, don’t forget, if you have been talking about nutrition or health on your blog lately, share the wealth with the linkup below so we can all learn from you!

Ok, back to sugar talk.

Background things to know:

Simple sugars (such as glucose) are carbohydrates.  Glucose, in particular, is directly related to blood glucose.  Alternative sweeteners are not table sugar and do not contain glucose (hence the name, alternative).

Alternative Sweeteners Today:

So, alternative sweeteners have made headlines in the past few years regarding their safety.  However, many of those headlines are not backed up by solid science and a large percentage of consumers don’t know what they are.

Alternative sweeteners are alternatives to sugar, in particular, table sugar…the stuff you put in your coffee, breads, cookies.  Alternative sweeteners are chemically synthesized from amino acids, other molecules with nitrogen, or are extracted from plants.  Because they do not contain sugar or glucose, they are commonly recommended to diabetics

Also, because alternative sweeteners do not contain sugar, they contain little to no calories…which has made them very popular over the past 10-15 years for many consumers wanting to lose weight.

Here are a few fun facts about some common alternative sweeteners:

Saccharin (sweet n’ low)

  • First alternative sweetener developed
  • 300 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose)
  • Will have a bitter taste if heated too long

Aspartame (Equal)

  • Receives the most flack from media and consumers, as negative effects have been reported after consumption.
  • Synthesized from the amino acid phenylalanine.

Sucralose (Splenda)

  • 600 times sweeter than sugar
  • Doesn’t breakdown due to heat, so is optimal for baking.

Stevia

  • Extracted from plants, originated in Japan
  • Added to beverages (mainly soda) and also sold alone.

I know what a lot of you are probably asking…sooo, thanks for the info Em, but are these safe?

As all good topics in nutrition, my answer is:  it depends.

Both the FDA and the ADA (American Dietetic Association) have reviewed scientific, peer reviewed (AKA highly controlled) studies done on consumption of artificial sweeteners and have found no alarming detrimental effects for the general population consuming the recommended amount. (KEY WORD: LESS THAN OR EQUAL TO RECOMMENDED AMOUNT).  Each alternative sweetener has a recommended amount, which can be found on the FDA’s website here.

However, there have been reported symptoms such as headaches and nausea, in response to Aspartame consumption reported to the FDA.  But these have not been confirmed in scientific studies.  There also was a study in the 1970’s where rats consuming saccharin developed bladder cancer.  But honestly, that was all i found and I have spent a lot of time researching it.

Thee safety of alternative sweeteners  is an issue of moderation.  If you chronically consume over the recommended amount of alternative sweeteners, you probably are going to have some negative side effects!  Just like if you consumer over the recommended amount for vitamins and minerals…there are limits for a reason.

I also think that, like a lot of foods and additives that were introduced to our food system only in the past 20-30 years, that the long term effects can’t fully be known at this moment, it hasn’t been long enough.  Diseases and conditions sometimes take years to develop from intake, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we found out new information regarding this subject in the next 5-10 years.

If you are looking for a sweetener that isn’t table sugar, you can get it from another food source that is not an alternative sweetener that was synthesized in a lab or extracted from something else.  Foods like honey (high in fructose) and agave nectar can serve as alternative sweeteners.

My two cents: my students asked me last week if I would choose regular soda over diet soda in regards to alternative sweeteners.  My answer was this:  1) I hate the way pop (yes I call it pop) tastes 2) I would only drink pop/soda if it has real sugar in it…so that means no diet pop with artificial sweeteners, no high fructose corn syrup.  Yes, I know the research has shown consuming a small amount of alternative sweeteners is safe (so far), however, I just firmly believe in consuming foods with as minimal processing and synthesizing as possible. As always, I try really hard to give you guys the unbiased facts here on the ol’ blog, but I think it’s important for me to share my opinion’s at times given all of the blood, sweat, and tears, I put into studying the great topic of nutrition. :)

Happy Friday!  Next time I blog, I’ll be a year older!

**Sources used for this post are found in the hyperlinks!  For a few of the studies I mentioned, I could only link up with one study, but if you are interested in more good, quality sources please email me and I’d love to send the links to you!  Remember if you are linking up to use credible sources!


Game Changing Snacks: Smokehouse Almond Chicken Bites with Blue Diamond Almonds

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. For more Game Changing Snacks, visit Blue Diamond Almonds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Blue Diamond sent me complimentary almonds in exchange for a recipe and post.  I was not compensated in any other way.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Happy Thursday!  With life whizzing by me at every opportunity, I am super excited this weekend to chill out and watch some football with friends!  My beloved Packers aren’t playing, but I’m ready for one more dose of football until its gone for spring and summer.

Whenever I host a get-together for the big game, I think the food is just as important as the football!  It’s easiest to have finger-foods, but finding healthy and quality finger foods can be a challenge.  So I created these almond-coated chicken bites in a pinch, which would be perfect with any dipping sauce for the big game!  Quick preparation, easy to eat, minimal clean up, and lots of time left to focus on the football.   The smokehouse almond adds a nice little kick of flavor to the bites, definitely a game changer from your typical frozen chicken nuggets (that have added preservatives, etc).

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So without further ado, here is the easy recipe!

Smokehouse Almond Chicken Bites

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces.

1 egg

1 small container of Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place almonds in a food processor (I used a smaller 2 cup food processor) and process for 2-3 min, until almonds are a little thicker than bread crumbs.  Be careful not to blend too long, or you’ll have almond butter!

Dip chicken bites into egg (so the almonds stick) and then coat in almonds.

Place onto a baking sheet w/ foil (much easier clean up).  No need to grease the foil, as that leads to soggy chicken bites!  Bake bites for 15 minutes, then flip over with tongs/spatula, and bake for 10 more minutes or until crispy.  Let cool for 4-5 minutes and enjoy!

Thanks again to Blue Diamond for opportunity to try out their products for the big game!

What Germ? Kretschmer Wheat Germ! Enhancing Your Overnight Oats

Disclaimer: Kretschmer provided me with a free jar of their wheat germ in exchange for a review and recipe creation.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.

I’ve said it before on here, but I’ll say it again. Bloggers get a lot of cool opportunities to review products.  Due to my posting schedule and career, I don’t get to seek out as many opportunities as I would like, but when the right one comes along, I love taking part.  I also am very selective in what I choose, to stay true to what I believe in nutrition and food-wise.    Kretschmer offered to send me a free sample of their wheat germ to review and incorporate into a recipe a couple months ago and to be honest, I had heard of wheat germ but wasn’t exactly sure why it was becoming popular.  So being the good nutritionist I try to be, I researched it, said yes, and was excited to try it!

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First of all…germ? and wheat?  what the heck am I even talking about?  Here’s  some background info.

What is it? Wheat germ is the small seedling on the inside of a grain of wheat that can then grow into another wheat plant.  You can extract the wheat germ during milling

What nutrients does wheat germ have?  It’s especially high in folate, thiamin, vitamin E, and zinc.   Basically its a concentrated source of many vitamins and minerals.

What the heck do I do with it?  Wheat germ can be added to several food items: smoothies, casseroles, grain products (breads, muffins, etc.,) to enhance the nutrient density of the food.

I took the opportunity to also try another new recipe with my wheat germ: overnight oats! 

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Here is what I added:

1 cup quick oats

3/4/ cup milk

1/2 small container of greek yogurt (single serving size)

1/2 tsp. wheat germ

2 tbsp. peanut butter

1/2 banana, sliced

I mixed it all together, left it overnight in the fridge, and then enjoyed grabbing it to go and having breakfast at my desk the next day.

I was instantly a fan!  And as for the wheat germ?  I honestly couldn’t taste the difference, which I think is a good thing!  Knowing that I was getting more vitamins and minerals was definitely a plus.

So what about you– Did you know what wheat germ was before reading this?  And…best combo’s for overnight oats?  :)

Thanks to Kretschmer for allowing me to test out your products!