I Want You! … To Give Me Your Healthy Tips

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Hi, everyone! Thanks to all of you who offered your thoughts about my apple recipes from last week: it appears that many of you have strong opinions about cooking in a microwave! πŸ˜‰

Sometimes I do use the microwave when I’m in a rush. Even for things like oatmeal. While I prefer to make it on the stove, sometimes the microwave is just so much more time-effective!! (Lauren)

Microwave for cooking? No. Never. Reheating, always. (Valerie)

Microwave? No, everything cooked in a microwave sounds plain cheap to me. I even re-heat my food in the oven or stove. Takes longer, but I feel it tastes much better too!! (Christa)

For the most part, I prefer to use a stove or oven for cooking and re-heating (unless I’m running short on time!), but I do have a few select recipes for the microwave. In one of my food science classes, we experimented with cooking meat and veggies by various methods, including baking, frying, steaming, and microwaving. The result? The microwaving method turned out the poorest product by far. The veggies were limp and the meat was greyish – not the most attractive food for any picky eaters.Β  Microwaved apples, on the other hand, are pretty tasty πŸ™‚Β  Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

Next up: remember when Peter built his sous-vide cooking device and I asked for suggestions on what we should cook sous-vide next? We’d like to try all your suggestions eventually, but in the meantime, we both wanted to try Denise‘s idea:

Sous vide??! I’m impressed….. and a bit scared LOL How about sous viding *grin* ribs??

Great idea, Denise!

With Maddie's watchful eye.

Peter picked up four ENORMOUS short ribs at Stew Leonard‘s, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, then cooked them in the sous-vide device for 36 hours!!!! Hey, if you want to get it done right, you have to be patient πŸ™‚

How did they turn out?

Served with a side of sauteed kale, Peter-made picked cucumber, and whole grain bread (unpictured), these short ribs were tender and somehow more flavorful than braised short ribs, even without sauce. Yep, I’m a sous-vide convert πŸ™‚ I’m looking forward to trying more of your suggestions!


On an unrelated matter, my friend Tanya recently had this request:

Maybe you can write a post or give me some advice on this– I know a decent amount about nutrition, but my husband (weird!!!) doesn’t and is just starting to get interested in learning. Because it’s so intuitive to me at this point, it’s difficult for me to teach him in any sort of methodical or useful way. I assume you have some suggestions? (P.S. last month he tried to tell me that his enormous chocolate chip muffin bought at a street cart was (a) healthyish and (b) ~300 calories. So we’re starting at that super-basic level.

Great question, Tanya! As someone who studying to be a registered dietitian, I sometimes forget that not everyone has had the privilege of learning about nutrition in classes and in practice. Before delving into this fascinating topic, I want to emphasize a couple of things: first, nutrition is not JUST about food – the field of nutrition encompasses anatomy, physiology, psychology, genetics, environmental and social influences, and much, much more. Complicated. Suggestions that I offer will not work for everyone, but having good, solid guidelines can be helpful when individual counseling is not possible. Second, I am not attempting to help anyone lose or gain weight. If you are looking to do either, STOP! Meet with your friendly local RD so that she or he can help you come up with a healthy eating plan.

Finally, these tips are NOT designed to restrict your diet; instead, they are for readers who are interested in a few, general tips for healthy living. I offer this information to give you knowledge – I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be informed when I make healthy living choices πŸ™‚ These tips may seem intuitive, or you may know them already. Nevertheless, I believe that reading a short list of the most important healthy changes you can make may help some people take that extra step and try them.

Here they be:
(1) Eat a lot of WHOLE vegetables and fruits in as many colors as possible.
(2) Choose WHOLE GRAINS.
(3) Follow the New American Plate.
(4) Move.

Let’s go into a little more detail:

(1) Eat a lot of WHOLE vegetables and fruits in as many colors as possible.

Why “whole”? Whole produce gives you fiber and many micronutrients in the skin – much more than any juice or soft drink. Fiber keeps you full for a longer time. Ever notice that a glass of apple juice doesn’t keep you as full as an apple? Studies show that people who drink juices and soda eat just as much at meals as those who choose a non-caloric beverage instead. Over time, those liquid calories add up.

Why “colorful”? Fruit and veggies of various colors have different phytochemicals that do wonderful things for your body! For example, tomatoes have lycopene, a phytochemical that has the potential to protect against some cancers. (For a more complete list, check here.) So, as we say in our nutrition classes, “Eat the Rainbow!

How many servings? As many as you can eat (comfortably). These servings include fresh, frozen, canned (watch the salt!), and dried (no sugar added, smaller portions).

(2) Choose WHOLE GRAINS.

I go into more detail about how to find whole grains in this post. This tip is tricky because manufacturers know that people are looking for whole grain products, so they disguise their refined-grain product as healthy. The low-down:

* Look at the ingredient label. Is EVERY grain listed proceeded by the world “whole”? No whole, no go! That “15 Grain” bread?Β  Chances are the bread contains no whole grains.
* If you are buying an item with no nutrition label (like a muffin at a coffee shop), ask someone behind the counter or (if you are able) check the shop’s website. Many restaurants are posting ingredients and nutrition info. online.
* It’s A-Ok to eat refined flour products (like that chocolate muffin) – just make sure they are a “sometimes” food, rather than an “always” food. Moderation, people, moderation.

(3) Follow the New American Plate.

The basics: Look at your 9-inch plate: to enjoy a healthy plate, fill half of the plate with non-starchy veggies and fruit (that would be your lettuce, carrots, broccoli, peppers, etc.), one-fourth with starch (brown rice, whole grain pasta/bread, potato, starchy veggies like corn, peas, etc.), and one-fourth with lean protein (chicken, lean beef, pork, fish, tofu, etc.). This setup will maximize your veggies and fruits, while minimizing animal protein. ( … I realize by writing that last bit about meat, I will incite indignation from some people. While meat can be a part of any healthy diet, smaller portions will maximize your health – and allow more room for fruits and veggies! Also, I realize that the short rib in my sous-vide photo is enormous! Peter put the whole rib on my plate for photography purposes – I later removed some rib for a more appropriate portion πŸ˜‰ )

(4) Move.

Last note: Knowledge of portion sizes is an essential part of any nutrition education. Instead of offering confusing info. about portions, I’m going to defer to this excellent site, where you can play a game that teaches you all about portion sizes: Portion Distortion.

Please feel free to ask me any questions about these four tips πŸ™‚ Now, to turn the tables on you: it’s been a while since I’ve gathered YOUR tips for healthy living (check out the “Reader Tips” tab on the top menu bar for previous lists: “Healthy Snacks” and “How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep” ). So, tell me:

Q: What is/are YOUR simple tip(s) for healthy living? What guideline(s) do YOU follow?


What do you do to motivate yourself for exercise? Whenever I don’t feel like exercising, I tell myself that I only need to start exercising. I find that once I start, I want to keep going!


  1. Portion control. Portion control. Portion control. and Protion control. In my opinion the most important part of any nutritional program apart from excersise. Those are two things anyone can implement right away and get results with.

    Getting enough sleep is also important fo’ sho’.

    I miss Gangsta Jessie!

  2. Damn I mangled the last portion. Even I can practice what I preach! One too many.

  3. My tips are:
    -flavor dishes w/ garlic and herbs over salt and seasoning mixes/packets
    -moderation, moderation, moderation!!!

    Jessie I know I’ve told you before but I simply adore that photo of you running with your dog! LOVE IT!!

  4. Great post jessie! First of all that sous vide rib looks amazing. One of these days I’ll get around to making my own sous vide machine (hah).

    Okay healthy living tips. One thing that’s really helped me in my busy schedule is to turn exercising into a schedule. By which I mean, I go to the gym at 6PM. I go at that time basically every time. It’s become ingrained in me that that is gym time and so it becomes more non-negotiable.

    Another thing I like to do is use smaller plates. A lot of satisfaction is about perception rather than actually feeling full. When I look at a smaller plate and see that it is totally full of food and that I get to eat the whole thing, it’s much more satisfying than seeing that same portion on a larger plate with lots of empty space around it.

  5. first of all, holy moley, what a kick arse post Jessie! this was like 3 posts in one. you gave us such useful information and links. i’m sooo bookmarking this page!

    ok now let the dorky side in me come out. is it really bad that on such an awesome health post i immediately thought of skittles when you said “eat the rainbow”? can we still be friends? i swear, it didn’t just go through one ear and out the other :-D. everything you said made perfect sense and has stuck in me. lots of diff colours of fruits and veggies, whole grains, the new American plate, and move. by the way, super cute moving pics…teehee.

    36 hours to cook those ribs? i’ll take your word for it that it WAS mighty tasty. after reading all the posts that Valerie had on the sous vide, i can definitely believe that. you and Peter have the coolest kitchen gadgets! oh by the way, hubby is super jealous of that big green egg you guys have. anyways, i didn’t think your portion of the rib was too big at all. i was actually going to comment on how i liked that your portion of the greens were much more than your portion of the ribs.

    hmmm…tips for healthy living? the only thing that comes to mind right now is my kiddies and how i feed them. i want them to be well rounded eaters so even if i myself don’t eat something or the hubby doesn’t eat something (i know, do as i say, not as i do) we both still encourage the kids to eat EVERYTHING. and of course, exercise. before i didn’t have kids, i honestly ate anything i wanted (yup, lotsa junk…bad LeeQs) and still maintained the same weight throughout highschool cause i was so involved in sports. and i totally agree with you on getting motivated to exercise. it’s so true…once you start, you don’t want to stop. you feel like if you stop, everything you worked for has gone to waste. ok i should end this essay now. great post, Jessie!!! hope you have a great rest of the week πŸ˜€

    1. Skittles?? Oh, LeeQs, there’s definitely no one like you πŸ˜‰

      I know I’ve said this before, but I admire the way you’re setting up healthy, well-rounded eaters in K and L. What an important skill for any little one to learn!

      Have a great day, LeQuan! πŸ˜€

  6. Great Post!

    My tip is out of sight, out of mind when it comes to indulgences that should be a “sometimes” food rather than an “all the time” food. Keeping unhealthy food within reach and easy to eat makes me eat it much more.

  7. Isn’t LeQuan priceless! Skittles!
    I love the Eat a rainbow! There is passion in your post as well as so much information – and then the invitation to share! WoW. love the final pic of you, too!
    For food: buy food in its most natural form, cook from scratch, simple is best
    For body: get out and do something physical every day, even if it is small; commune with nature
    For the mind and soul: commune with nature; grow your own food, surround yourself with good people; give more than you ever expect to get; paste a smile on your face on your most glum days and last
    MAKE IT HAPPEN (my life’s motto)

  8. When eating at a salad bar, stick to veggies, and if you just have to have creamy dressing, put a spoonful or two of cottage cheese on your salad, then one spoonful of the dressing you love. You’ll barely notice the difference and the cottage cheese is a good addition anyway.

    Love you Jessie!

  9. Your sous vide is so interesting! 36 hours for ribs? Wow! And better than braised? So intrigued!

    I love your first piece of advice. I just wrote an email this week to someone who wanted to become an RD because they liked food and fitness. I was like, ohhh no, no, no. Nutrition professionals are also MEDICAL professionals and there’s a lot that goes into that. Just like you said, physiology, biology, biochemistry. The FUN stuff, haha! πŸ™‚

  10. Great post, and great tips, Jessie! One of the main things I do is always plate my meals on appetizer-sized plates. (Have you noticed how regular dinner plates are now the size of serving platters! Aaahhh! When did that happen?!)

    1. Yeah, no kidding! Not to mention the ballooning portions! :O

      Have a great day, Faith!

  11. Great tips! You covered the basics for sure!
    The biggest thing I see with my patients is the portions are so much larger than they need to be. That is always a big one I cover.

    When it comes to exercise, I am the same way. I just need to get going and then I am good. It sounds silly but after my long runs on the weekends, I tell myself I can go get a Starbucks after. Starbucks is my favorite treat and I have cut way down. Here I am, the dietitian, giving herself food as a reward. haha.

  12. Whao. I feel like I missed tons of your posts Jessie! Sorry πŸ™ I just got back from vacation. Hmm..portion control sounds good but it’s hard to do sometimes especially when you get to eat delicious food! πŸ˜€

    I try to eat slowly. When you eat slowly and take time to enjoy the food, you get full faster.

    Exercise? Dang. Guess what, my husband just canceled my gym membership! I told him cooking and cleaning are a good work-out haha.

  13. I love the portion distortion quiz and have used it at health fairs. I think you have some great tips and I like the inclusion of the New American Plate. The idea is balance and learning what we get from each food and food group to understand how to build our meals to maximize what we get out of them. While we like how food tastes, we often forget that the food is intended for our cells (ok our bodies, but cells at the smallest level).

    Nice work on this whole sous vide thing.

  14. Wow cooking meat for 36 hours? Good Heavens! As an engineer I have wondered about how the sous-vide device works (and btw does sous-vide mean anything close to under void or vacuum or is my French too rusty?) ever since I saw it, but only now I remembered to ask *blush*

    I agree with all 4 of your tips and I am sort of following most of them, though the variety of veggies I eat is not that large (I prefer fruit to vegetables and carbohydrates like potatoes to leafy greens) and I still cannot switch to whole grain everything.

    My very Greek tips are:
    1. If you use oil make it (extra virgin) olive oil. It’s pricier but oh so much healthier, and you usually need less than other oils. And it’s dead tasty! When I first heard that people in other countries fried eggs in butter and not olive oil I was shocked! πŸ˜€

    2. Try to eat fresh things. I know it’s terribly hard, but a fresh fish tastes completely different than a deep frozen fish. Even if you buy fresh and freeze at home, it’s still better than to just buy frozen.

    3. The one thing I learned from my visits to a diaetician was that the mood we have when we eat greatly affects how our body absorbs nutrients. So always try to feel happy and relaxed when eating, never in front of the tv or computer screen, never doing other things at the same time, and try to make it with company rather than alone.

    As always, wonderful post Jesiie dear!! πŸ™‚

  15. These are all such good tips! I definitely think that making sure to move around AND exercise is important. Just getting in an hour in the morning doesn’t give a person license to sit around the rest of the day!

    And eat things as near to their original state as possible. Nothing from a box and especially nothing with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

  16. thanks for your comment-Upstairs on the Square was so delicious and delightful! And to exercise, I also use the same conversational motivation…getting started is the biggest hurdle indeed!

  17. I LIKE healthy living. I love to move about, I actually LOVE veggies and fruits. So I thank God for that.

    Jessie, I’m in love with that last pic of you running with the dog. That is such an epic pic. And also, I’m mighty jealous of that sous-vide meal!

  18. What a wonderful post…you did such a great job at presenting a simple, guideline for healthy eating. I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve found that eating as many fruit and veggies as possible has done wonders for me…I don’t want to eat the less healthy, more processed food when I can enjoy the wonders of nature. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Your sous-vide rib meal is incredibly impressive!! I can’t believe you cooked it for 36 hours, but I’m happy it came out so well that it was worth the wait.

    Thanks for the wealth of info in this post! I think these are great tips, and are simple enough that people can incorporate them into their daily lives. One change that I’ve made really within the past year is to focus on eating more real, whole foods — whole grains, minimally processed, and no crazy ingredients I can’t pronounce. I’ve been eating a vegetarian diet (and so of course eating lots of veggies) for a long time, so always thought I was healthy. But it took putting some conscious effort into eating more natural foods for me to realize that a lot of stuff I was eating actually wasn’t really all that good for me (there’s a lot of junk food vegetarians can eat!!). Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up junk food altogether (I think being able to treat yourself is another big part of healthy living!), but I’ve definitely noticed a difference in how I feel since I’ve made more of an effort.

  20. 36 hrs????? wow. I’m glad the ribs were delicious because otherwise 36 hrs of waiting for food seems… a lot πŸ˜€ can you tell I’m a very very very impatient person? πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for the great tips! I’m thinking about printing them and putting them on the fridge door for MY bf πŸ˜€

  21. Great tips! One that I always try to follow is to not let myself get to a point of feeling starved. If I’m starving when I sit down to eat I’ll eat and eat and eat. If I make sure to eat 5-6 smaller meal throughout the day I’m much more likely to listen to when I’m actually full and stop.

  22. What a fabulous post here Jessie!! I love your 4 simple pieces of advice. To be honest, those are the things I always tell people (mainly though, the whole grains and plenty of fruits and veggies).

    I also use a microwave all the time, by the way, and have no problems with it at all!! I mean, if I can use the stove top I will, but if I’m short on time, why not the microwave?!

    Thanks for your suggestion about the rice milk yogurt. I have never seen that in any stores near here, but I will look out for it. I only have about 2 more days of this diet so I think I’ll be ok with my almond milk and LOTS of kale for calcium. I steam my kale, but I see you guys sauteed yours. I love that idea! Beats the microwave πŸ˜‰

  23. OMG!!! You guys actually did the ribs?!?! I’m so tickled and pleased as punch that you took my suggestion seriously ROFL I bet they tasted amazing – I mean 36 hours of TLSV (tender loving sous viding hee hee)

    I haven’t exercised in a shamefully long, long,long time, but my 16 year old told me just two days ago that I was “getting fat” *grrr* always tough to hear, but sometimes we really need a nudge I guess *blush* So TOMORROW I’m going to start brisk walking in the morning and eventually work up to running 5 days a week like I used to and maybe get back to practicing tae kwan do like I used to as well…

    In the meantime I’ll continue my habits of never drinking soda at home, drinking only a glass of red wine almost everyday, eating more colourful veggies and legumes that anything else (though I do eat a little meat now and then) and drinking lots of plain water. Need to get more sleep and stress less too, somehow πŸ˜‰

  24. Wow, 36 hours…that’s slow food for sure :
    Great post Jessie!
    I thing sleep is a big one, and usually one of the hardest to achieve.
    Next, I think that foods with the least amount of initial processing are the number one for me. Fresh and real food!
    Balance is the key I think…and flavor, seems that many people assume that bland means healthy?!
    Hope you have a great weekend πŸ™‚

  25. kk i’ll try to think of a few:

    1. spice it up- go to the spice pantry and start finding tasty combos. spices, especially oregano, cayenne, ginger and turmeric all have medicinal and health benefits. they can lower the risk of many diseases and diet-caused health issues.

    2. laugh- reduces cortisol to help burn belly fat

    3. if u love coffee, drink up. its amazing for improving circulation, reducing water retention, revving metabolism, and its one of the highest forms of drinkable antioxidants!

    4. Have dessert, but treat it like breakfast! many times when the word dessert is brought up, it comes with a negative connotation.. implying that maybe its something we dont need, or shouldnt have, or something will power can help us avoid. but if u treat ur body with treats in the same way u would treat ur body with breakfast, the dessert is ‘no big deal’ and when u have it, u dont think about wanting more and more and more..and u dont feel guilty either. helps build a stronger relationship to what it means to nourish both the mind along with the body <3

  26. in terms of exercise, i tell myself (if i dont want to run/move) just to walk..around the block..30 min. and sometimes i may get a burst of energy and start running! i let it happen naturally..that way i never feel like “UGH! EXERCISE?? WHYYYYYYYYYYY!!” lol

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