Mother Knows Best

Today my mom turns another year older, and therefore, another year wiser.  I feel like it’s only appropriate to pass on some of my favorite advice my mom has given me throughout the years.

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Top 3 Lessons I Learned from My Mother

  1. Family meals are a must, even if you choose not to eatFamily dinners every night (no TVs allowed!) and pancake breakfasts every Sunday were a staple at my house growing up.  Around junior high I decided that I’d prefer to eat “better” food at my friends’ houses, so I would sit through family dinner without eating, do the dishes when everyone was finished, and then go to a friend’s house to eat.  As a nutritionist now, I’m very aware of the importance of family dinners and the difference they make on healthy eating and open communication.
  2. Air is not the friend of cheeseThis may not sound like an important lesson, but after one too many blocks of fancy cheese growing mold before it’s “time,” my mom laid down the law for my sister and I.  You will never see cheese go wasted in my kitchen due to improper storage.  I’ve also grown incredibly aware that air is not the friend of homemade cookies either.
  3. Work hard, play hardMy mom is all about well deserved rewards.  After a long day at work, she is happiest relaxing with a glass of wine.  Vacations are a MUST for this lady.  Even shopping trips (which are torture for her) are usually rewarded with a cookie.  She makes it very clear that hard work is important, but so is stopping every once in a while and realizing that you’ve done a good job, and now, it’s time to play.
What a gem!

What a gem!

I would love to hear about one of your favorite lessons from your mom.

My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Yard

spinach smoothie

Well, that may be a slight exaggeration…but this magical concoction does rock MY world on a (nearly) daily basis.

Smoothie Ingredients

1 small banana + 2 Tbsp peanut butter (I prefer chocolate PB2) + 1/2 – 1 cup milk (I usually use unsweetened almond milk) + 1/2 cucumber + 2-3 cups spinach = yum!

– Note: while this may actually “bring the boys to the yard,” when I had my boy try it out, his reaction was more along the lines of “it wasn’t terrible”…



Spinach vs. Wheatgrass

spinach wheatgrass

Confession – I have a love hate relationship with salads.  And by that, I mean, I hate them. FYI: I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like: brussel sprouts, bring it! spaghetti squash, yes please! carrots, hand ’em over!

…but salads…No thank you. I’ll pass. And bytheway, where’s the bread?

So as you can imagine, it’s time to get creative.  Which brings us to – Spinach vs. Wheatgrass


Spinach is a dark leafy green that’s great fresh, sauteed, or even canned (shout-out to Popeye!).  Three cups of this fresh green (about one cup when cooked) contains about 20 kcals, 13% DV of potassium, 2g protein, 510% DV of vit K, 160% DV of vit A, 40% DV of folate, 15% DV of iron, and more.

Even Michelangelo didn't like it...

Even Michelangelo didn’t like it…

Wheatgrass is the green leafy sprouted part of the wheat plant and is usually consumed as a powder or juice.  This “miracle” food is an extremely popular add-on in smoothie and juice bars because it provides concentrated amounts of nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, chlorophyll, and vitamins A, C, and E.

My winner: SPINACH
While I’m not ready to ditch my wheatgrass shots completely, if I have to choose between the two, spinach is much easier to incorporate into my everyday life.  I can throw it in a peanut butter and banana smoothie in the morning, saute it with chopped onions in the afternoon, or eat it raw when I’m feeling extra healthy.  Also spinach takes on the flavors of whatever you season it with, and wheatgrass pretty much always tastes like dirt.

Celebrate Change

This weekend I (FINALLY) completed my Masters of Clinical Nutrition degree.  Yipee!!! After a weekend of celebrations with family and friends, feelings of relief and accomplishment, and coming to terms with a few underlying fears (e.g. WhereTheHeckAmIGoingToWork?) I started reminiscing on the differences between the person I was before I started this journey over two years ago, and the person I’ve become.

Sure, I still enjoy a good hotdog now and then, my addiction to updating my bedding has (if possible) gotten even more intense than before, and I feel extremely lucky that the same girls that I called as soon as I got accepted into grad school in 2012 are the ones I celebrated with this weekend (plus a couple new bonus friends)!

Other things, however, have changed…


Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

If you asked me a few years ago what I wanted for breakfast, the answer was ALWAYS – bagels and cream cheese.  Today, 9 times out of 10, the food I want to start my day out with is Greek yogurt and blueberries.  Not only does this breakfast provide a tad more nutrition than the prior, but I feel like I could go for a run after eating versus hopping on the couch for a post-breakfast nap.


Yoga in the park

Yoga in the park

My favorite weekend hobby of all time used to be…wait for it…brunch!  For those of you who think brunch is a meal and not a hobby, you are just not brunching properly.  Brunch for me was a combination of rallying friends, picking a hotspot with a great atmosphere AND cheap mimosas, and spending my afternoon soaking in every wonder brunch had to offer.

Nowadays I prefer a quick trip to the coffee shop, a morning yoga class, and an afternoon paddle boarding.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a brunch every once in a while, but I’ve found that I feel like a whole new person when I start my week with a little exercise and some time outdoors.



So fresh and so clean

Products for me used to consist of makeup and perfume. Period.  It was always a matter of improving (aka covering up) what I had going on.  Today my bathroom is filled with products like Nude skin serum, organic soaps, and face moisturizers with SPF.  The older I get, the more thankful (and protective of) I am for the skin and body I have.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Good Food, Bad Food

Ever have that moment when you’re ordering food at a restaurant and your heart is DYING for that juicy cheeseburger with fries, but your brain is standing strong with a salad?  You know the salad is good for you and the burger is bad for you. Right?? WRONG.


My favorite El Diablo burger from Hopdoddy – yum!

Here’s a little food myth that I would love to attempt to clear up [aka scramble all those thoughts about good vs. bad foods]
Myth: There are “good” foods like raw vegetables, lean meats, fresh fruits, etc.
The are “bad” foods like cookies, macaroni & cheese, and chicken strips, etc.

Truth: All foods fuel your body in some way.  Your body doesn’t recognize foods as good or bad fuel, it just breaks them all down to the same things – the most basic forms of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

If I just blew your mind a little, HOORAY FOR YOU!  That means that you are already conscious about what types of foods you put into your body and probably try to make smart food choices most of the time.  It’s true, mashed potatoes are often loaded with extra calories like fat or cheese, but they provide starch just like if you were eating a plain baked potato.  Mashed potatoes aren’t “bad”, they just require more play time to keep your energy balance in check.

Advertising and fad diets have taught us to feel guilty about eating so called BAD foods and while there ARE some foods that need to be limited in the diet, foods should not, I REPEAT, SHOULD NOT!! coincide with feelings of guilt.  This is a concept I learned from Mrs. Smarty Pants herself, Amy Culp, RD (University of Texas Sports dietitian).


Homemade peanut butter and (gasp)  bacon cookies – FUN food!

Instead of thinking of junk foods, or higher fat foods, or yummy baked treats as BAD, let’s think of them as FUN!  In the same way that you work hard at your grown-up job most days so that you can afford to play on the weekends or a special vacation, you should make smart food choices most of the time and enjoy your FUN foods without any feelings of regret.

The only foods you should never fit into your diet are those that are rotten or poisonous.  We have a taste buds for a reason – one of them is to avoid the aforementioned foods, and the other is to enjoy the flavors of foods.  YIPEE!

So the next time you decide to splurge on a triple scoop ice cream cone with hot fudge, slow down!  This is a FUN food that you worked hard for and now you get to take your sweet sweet time to savor!  Enjoy!


Breakfast Break-Down

As a future dietitian I get asked A LOT of questions…

One topic that seems to always come up is breakfast – is it really necessary? what should it include? what if I’m not hungry? and so on.

So let’s break it down.  Breakfast is literally breaking the fast that you’ve had all night while you were catching zzzz’s.  It is the first step to starting your metabolism for the day and notifying your body that it will not be in starvation mode (aka storing fat)!  So yes, you need to eat at some point relatively close to when you wake up.  That being said, there are days that I roll out of bed and it feels like I slept in the kitchen because I’m in there so quickly.  However, there are other days when I want to do a short or easy workout (e.g. 2 mile run, yoga) before I get in my first bite.
*Important note: your body will not perform as efficiently when it hasn’t been fueled.  If this morning workout is going to be your only physical activity for the day, please eat a little something first so that you can kick butt.

So on to the good stuff – your first meal of the day should for sure contain protein.  Eggs, milk, yogurt, peanut butter…something to keep you full past the time you’re done swallowing.  If you stick with just that one rule, it’s pretty easy to create a balanced and delicious meal.


This morning I did old fashioned oatmeal and added PB2 (chocolate flavor) and strawberries.  Top it off with a glass of skim milk and I’m set with my protein, fiber, whole grains, a serving of fruit, shall I continue?

However, sometimes I like to challenge myself and get veggies at EVERY MEAL OF THE DAY!!!  Breakfast used to be a vegetable free zone, but now it’s one of my favorite places to incorporate the greens.
-Veggie omelets are a fabulous way to kick start your morning.  Spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapenos, squash (you name  it, I’ve probably put it in an omelet).
– Green smoothies (fruit of choice, low-fat milk, ice, and lots of greens) make you feel super energized and refreshed.  You can also throw in protein powder or Greek yogurt to give it a little more power.

For breakfast out-the-door, try a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana, or a cup of low-fat plain Greek yogurt with blueberries and a pinch of granola.

Have fun at breakfast and think of it as your first healthy move of the day.  Enjoy!


Pretty Plate

I had the opportunity during the past month to work with the extremely talented sports dietitian, Amy Culp, RD, CSSD, LD. Amy is the staff dietitian for the University of Texas (Hook ‘Em!) and works with all of the Longhorn athletes.  One of her (MANY) roles is to spend time with the UT football players at team dinner each night.  This provides a chance for Amy to educate the players about the role of food as fuel for their training.

Oftentimes I would hear Amy describe the athletes’ selected food as PRETTY.  Watching these huge guys get excited about choosing PRETTY food choices was amusing, but also impressive.  They understand that what they eat during the day affects how they play and train for the next day.  Who would have guessed….?

A PRETTY plate consists of colorful and nutritious foods that provide carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  Although everyone has different food preferences, anyone can create their own personal version of a pretty plate.


This probably looks a little different than what you may normally eat for lunch, but for an injured football player working towards recovery, this is just right, and of course…PRETTY.

Coffee vs. Juice

photo (1) It’s a rainy morning here in Dallas and normally I would roll out of bed, walk across the street to Starbucks, and grab a coffee to get my day started, but today I decided to try something new.  I recently watched the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross and it inspired me to try out this juicing craze that people seem to be so into these days.  Since I wasn’t ready to commit to purchasing a (very expensive) juicer yet, I used one my grandma gave me…from the 50’s by the look of it.
photo (3)This is the legit instruction manual…

So I followed the Mean Green recipe from good old Joe Cross and gave that vintage juicer a run for it’s money.
photo (2)There was QUITE the struggle and I imagine many of my neighbors have filed noise complaints. I gave up after about 3/4 of the ingredients made it through and am now enjoying my semi Mean Green juice instead of coffee.  Bottoms up!
photoDo you have any good juicing tips or recipes?  I could use all the help I can get.


A Fresh Start

Skinny pancakes from


Welcome to Playing For Eats!  I decided to create this blog to showcase everything that inspires me on a day-to-day basis centered around healthy tips, travel, fashion, playtime, yummy treats (like these hubba hubba skinny pancakes from and beyond.  I’m on a mission to live by the motto “What ever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.”  I hope you’ll do the same!