New Year, Same You

ANEWtrition isn’t about quick fixes and magic bullets. Your long-term health and well-being deserve more. It’s time to make your New Year authentic and most of all, fulfilling.
— Allison Knott, MS, RDN, LDN

It all started with my email. An undercurrent of frustration with constant New Year resolution conversation reached its boiling point while staring at my inbox. It's full of New Year’s attempts to inspire me to do things differently starting January 1st. From starting the year with a new diet to changing my budgeting habits, the subject lines simultaneously bring me a feeling of hope in a “new me!” and guilt in that “wow, maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong for an entire year or worse, a lifetime.” (Cue the total meltdown) I know I’m not alone in this. I hear it every day – “I will start my new diet in the new year” or “I’m joining a gym in the new year” or “I’ll change my spending habits and learn to save….in the new year.” January 1st brings a feeling of starting fresh, being different, and invokes the idea that we can suddenly be an improved version of ourselves. The feeling is so powerful that we continue to hold on to it year after year despite knowing through our own, personal research, that resolutions fail. And the guilt sets in when we realize that not only do we have personal challenges, but we are being reminded of them in full force this season - as if we haven’t been trying to face those challenges head-on for the last 365 days(!).

Let's be real. January 1, 2017 will be a New Year, but you will be the same you. The same you that worked every day in 2016 to be a better version of yourself. The same you that wakes up with the urging desire to maintain your mental and physical health. The same you that has the ability to transform in a second or the option to take your time in growth and transformation over months or years. The same you that will acknowledge the New Year on January 1st with excitement in knowing that every day brings the opportunity to grow. Embrace the same you. 

Starting today, ditch the idea that you’ll suddenly become a different person with a new relationship to food or a new acceptance of your body on January 1st and instead, realize that every day is your opportunity to take steps in the direction you want to go. Don’t fall into the trap of unsustainable diet extremes or drastic cleanses. You have the wisdom to know that dieting extremes ultimately lead to guilt, deprivation, or a feeling of failure. Own the fact that you didn't fail, but the diet failed you. Own the reality that January 1st isn't any more magical than this very moment. Own the fact that because you aren't making an extreme change or committing to a resolution doesn't mean that you're giving up or are resigning to be stagnant. 

Positive change doesn't happen at the stroke midnight. It happens when you give yourself permission to learn while understanding that you may stumble in the process. Be so humble that when you fall, you pick yourself up and move forward yet again. This New Year, discover your same you. Reacquaint yourself with what makes you feel your best.

Eliminate the negative, outside voices telling you what you should be, should do, or should look like and start with these three, simple steps to get back you in touch with your same you

1.       Unsubscribe and delete emails touting diet transformations, cleanses, or those sneaky new year, new you claims that make you feel like total shit. Am I right? 

2.       Unfollow toxic, unrealistic brands and people on all social media. You wouldn’t hang a before and after weight loss photo of a stranger on your bathroom mirror, would you? Don’t let those images hang in your memory day after day either. We're all different - we look completely different and we have our own ways of accomplishing our goals.  

3.       Write down one goal to begin working toward – today. Not the “lose weight because I think I should" kind of goal. I’m talking about those goals that are what you truly desire. You know, the kind that make you feel great inside and out. Now break it down into multiple, manageable goals and make them specific. Write one of them down and hang it in a place where you’ll see it every day.  


Peanut Butter, Chocolate Granola Bars with Miso

Miso? Like the fermented soybean paste? Yes, the fermented soybean paste. Trust me here. I've ignored this ingredient long enough for the both of us, so it's time to grab a tub of it and make these delicious granola bars. I picked up the traditional red miso by Miso Master at Whole Foods. There are other varieties including mellow and sweet which are exactly as they sound. In general, miso has an umami taste meaning it's savory or sometimes also described as meaty. The sweet/salty combo is what I was aiming for here and it's spot on. 


1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/4 cup almond flour (can substitute for whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 tbsp miso paste
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, chocolate chips, and flaxseed. Set aside. In a small, microwaveable bowl, add peanut butter, miso paste, and butter. Microwave on high until butter just begins to melt. Add honey and stir well. Combine peanut butter and miso mixture with dry ingredients. Mix well.

Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper. Add granola mixture to pan and spread evenly. Press firmly into the pan using a flat surface such as the bottom of a drinking glass or a measuring cup. You should have an even layer of bars for baking. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and press into pan again using a flat surface. When the bars have cooled completely, use a sharp knife to cut into bars. Note: I cut into 18 bars - 3 rows and 6 columns, but any size will work. 

Turmeric Banana and Kale Smoothie

Colder weather usually means warmer, comforting foods, not chilly smoothies. But you won't notice the cold when enjoying this 5-ingredient smoothie featuring warming turmeric. If you're unfamiliar with turmeric then this is a perfect way to start your new relationship. Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, contains a powerful antioxidant, curcumin, and may have play a role in the fight against cancer. Better yet, it tastes great and is incredibly versatile. 


1 banana, frozen or fresh
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup plain soy milk (or milk of your choice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 cup kale

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
Note: This smoothie doesn't contain ice, so if you're looking for something that's icy cold then use a frozen banana.

Looking for more ways to use turmeric? Check out this recipe round-up from The Kitchn.

5 Tips for Choosing a Healthy Snack Bar

Something as easy as a snack bar shouldn't be complicated, but the rows and varieties of options available tells a different story. Just take a look at this photo from my local grocery store: 

Overwhelmed yet? Yeah, me too. I've listed the top five tips for choosing a snack bar, so the next time you're in the store use this list to find your go-to options. 

Number 1: Narrow Your Category - Meal or Snack?
There're two categories of bars - meal bars and snack bars. Meal bars are those with 300 - 400+ calories. If you're looking for a meal bar then this list isn't for you. And if your meal consists of just a bar then let's chat (where are your veggies??). Also of note: this list is for the average person - not the professional athlete, body builder, or others requiring more calories than the average population. For the rest of us though, a bar of more than 300 - 400 calories is closer to a meal than it is a snack.  Looking for a snack bar? Proceed to number 2.

Number 2: Added Sugar
Bars coated in yogurt flavoring or chocolate are pretty standard on store shelves. It gets even more confusing when those same bars are boasting “protein plus!” or “antioxidant rich!” on the label. Ignore the front of the box and flip straight to the back where the good stuff is – the nutrition facts panel and the ingredient list. You’ll use these two resources for the rest of your steps, so get familiar with them. First, check the grams of sugar. A good rule of thumb is 10g or less for the entire bar, not half, so check the serving size. Another important consideration is where that sugar is coming from. Is it added sugar in the form of brown rice syrup (a standard in snack bars) or is it sugar from fruit such as dates? There is a difference! Added sugars like brown rice syrup are unfortunately plentiful in the American diet. Women should have no more than 6 tsp of added sugar per day and men no more than 9 tsp. That’s 24g for women and 36g for men (1 tsp sugar = 4g). Until the updates to the Nutrition Facts Panel are put into play then determining the grams of added sugar will continue to require a closer look at the ingredients list. Consider where the sugar is coming from, even within that 10g limit.

Number 3: Keep an Eye on Saturated Fat
Can of worms – officially opened. Is saturated fat as detrimental to your health as once thought? No. Is it something you should eat in excess? Nope. However, what's more important is that saturated fat isn't replaced with refined carbohydrates (read: added sugars), so see number 2. There is still a limit to how much saturated fat is considered healthy for the average person and making sure you’re not going overboard in your post-workout bar or snack is an important consideration. Limit saturated fat in a snack bar to 5g or less. I’m not saying less is better here either. Fat is known to aid in satiety and most likely, a bar with some fat probably tastes better. Don’t let the total fat category freak you out either. Total fat is encompassing of all fats in the food, so not just saturated fat. It includes mono- and polyunsaturated fats as well which are considered heart-healthy fats. Some sources, like nuts and seeds, are a standard in bars which is why the total fat can sometimes be 10g or more. Just keep that saturated fat in check. Read more here.

Number 4: Know Your Ingredients
There really is no number you can put on an ingredient list to call a bar better-for-you. As with any packaged food, ingredients vary and one brand may have 25 ingredients that are all wholesome, familiar, whole foods while another may have 5 ingredients all consisting of things you’d rather not eat. I encourage you to check the ingredient list and make sure you know what you’re eating. Does the bar have additives to modify the color? What about added sugar as we talked about earlier? Are there partially hydrogenated oils in the bar (trans fat)? Take a closer look and know what you’re eating.

Number 5: Love the Taste!
Bars are convenient snacks for the car, gym bar, purse, desk drawer, etc., making them ideal for preventing ravenous hunger, but what’s the point in choking down a bar just because it has your 20g of post-workout protein if you hate the taste? Eat a turkey sandwich or a greek yogurt if that’s the case. Choose a bar that you enjoy eating and one that makes you feel great after you eat it. Realize that some days you may need a bar that’s higher in calories because you’re hungry after a workout or you know you’ll have a later lunch and need a substantial snack in the morning. Other days you may want something lighter or sometimes you’ll only want half of the bar. There are no hard and fast rules here, but the truth is you have to enjoy what you’re eating.

ANEWtrition Favorites

Curate Salted Decadence Bars – the taste is incredible (as in I would eat these all day if I could) and they’re still only 10g sugar
Thrive GoMacro Bars – yum, yum, yum! And all are under 10g sugar
KIND Nuts & Spices – delicious flavor combinations and all around 5g sugar

Spicy Brown Rice and Veggie Bowl with Tempeh

Any food that includes sriracha is a win in my book. If you haven't tried it yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle today. You won't be disappointed! This rice and veggie bowl is a go-to dinner in my house. There's flexibility with the vegetables and grains, so consider it a way to use up what you have in the fridge. For this version I added baby bok choy, carrots, and kale. I've also made it with spinach, mushrooms, and bean sprouts - seriously anything that is a vegetable would taste good in this bowl. Same goes for the grains. No brown rice? No problem, sub quinoa, farro, or even oats. The result? A fiber-packed bowl with at least two servings of nutrient-dense vegetables. 


1 block tempeh
1 bunch baby bok choy, washed and separated
1 bunch kale, washed and stems removed
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup dry brown rice (I used a quick cooking rice)
1 tsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp olive oil

For the marinade
2 tbsp grain mustard
2 tbsp sriracha
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Cook rice and set aside. Slice tempeh (or your choice of protein). Mix grain mustard, sriracha, and soy sauce in a bowl. Add tempeh and mix well. Set aside. Prepare kale and bok choy. Grate carrot. In a wok or sauce pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and ginger. Saute until ginger is fragrant and soft. Add tempeh and cook until brown. Remove tempeh from pan. Add kale and saute until wilted. Remove from pan and add 1 tbsp olive oil and saute bok choy until wilted.

To build the bowl: split rice between two bowls. Split remainder of ingredients between two bowls. Top with sriracha and sesame seeds. Optional: 1 over medium egg. 

Shredded Brussels Sprouts, Radicchio, and Watermelon Radish Salad

Bitter, spicy, crunchy, colorful. This salad is a simple, back to basics recipe (#btobrecipes on Instagram), and a tasty addition to your holiday table. It's perfect for winter featuring three seasonal vegetables: brussels sprouts, radicchio, and watermelon radish. You'll need a cutting board, knife, and food processor. Optional is the mandolin, a useful, but not necessary kitchen gadget used to thinly slice produce. Note: always use a guard. I can speak from experience, a mandolin and the tops of your fingers don't mix!


1 bag of brussels sprouts or about 3 cups
1 medium head of radicchio
1 medium watermelon radish
ANEWtrition Dijon Vinaigrette with Shallots 

Wash brussels sprouts and trim ends. Wash radicchio, trim end, and cut into quarters. Wash watermelon radish and set aside. Assemble food processor with blade in place to slice vegetables. Add brussels sprouts and radicchio to slice/shred. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to thinly slice watermelon radish. Toss all ingredients in a bowl, add vinaigrette and mix well. Hold in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours prior to serving. 

Dijon Vinaigrette with Shallots

It wasn't until I found myself in graduate school in Boston that I truly learned how to be comfortable in the kitchen. At that point I had been immersed in the nutrition field for over 5 years and had been a registered dietitian for 2 of the 5 years. My signature response when someone asked how it was possible that I could be an RD and not know how to cook was: "I can tell you everything about the nutrients in the food, but I can't tell you how to put it together." I honestly felt like my lack of culinary of skills was justified because I didn't go to culinary school. Another post for another day, but boy was I wrong. 

Is culinary school necessary to prepare delicious meals? Nope. I did what I call, learn on the job, but I have to give credit where it's due. For this one, a dressing I've modified over the years, I give credit to a brilliant fellow student at Tufts University whom I had the privilege of living with for a few years. She was a master in the kitchen and could almost create something out of nothing. The basics of this simple dressing came from watching her make it over and over in our tiny Boston apartment. That experience proved to me that something like a salad dressing isn't daunting and has a much superior taste than many store-bought varieties. 


1 lemon
1 medium shallot, diced
2 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cut lemon and squeeze juice through a strainer (to catch seeds) and into a bowl. Dice shallot and add to bowl along with mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, and cracked black pepper. Mix well. Slowly add olive oil while whisking to blend. 

Dressing can be held in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Butternut Squash, Cranberry, Farro Salad

I've talked to multiple clients who are intimidated by whole grains. Quinoa and rice? We seem to get that, but when you introduce kamut, amaranth, or farro, then I'm typically met with a blank stare. Think of it like this: whole grains are your blank canvas. You start with a whole grain base (most of which are interchangeable) and you build flavor from there.

Confidence with whole grains is important. Research shows that diets consisting of at least half of the grains as whole grains are shown to be protective against certain cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. Also, whole grains are a good source of fiber which contributes to satiety and they're a great source of many antioxidants. 

I made a simple, back to basics recipe (#btobrecipes) using farro, an ancient wheat that's a good source of fiber and protein - both at about 8g per cup, cooked. Plus, the seasonal flavors of butternut squash and cranberries makes for an easy side dish for your Thanksgiving celebration.


1 medium butternut squash
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup dry farro plus 1 cup water for cooking
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme
(optional: 1 tbsp pure maple syrup)

Cook farro according to package directions. (I used Bob's Red Mill) Typical cooking instructions for farro: Rinse 1 cup farro and add to a saucepan with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until cooked, about 30 minutes. 

Makes 4-6 servings


While farro is cooking, preheat oven to 375F. Wash and peel butternut squash. Tip: Be sure your vegetable peeler is sharp. The skin on butternut squash is thick and tough. Cut squash and remove seeds. Dice and toss with cranberries and olive oil. Place mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 30 - 40 minutes. Squash should be soft enough to put a fork through, but not mushy. 

Drain excess water from farro and toss with squash mixture in a large bowl. Add thyme. Maple syrup is optional. This salad is best served warm or at room temperature.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with White Beans and Chard

Spaghetti squash is a versatile vegetable that makes its debut in the fall and winter months. It's a good source of fiber, is low in calories, and has a mild flavor making it an ideal substitute for pasta.

This recipe may seem overwhelming considering it takes over an hour to prepare, but before you move on to find something to make in a shorter amount of time then consider that the majority of this cook time is due to the time it takes to bake the squash. As soon as you walk in the door do this: preheat the oven, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and put in the oven to bake. Go about your evening for the next 45 minutes. Once cooked then the rest of the recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes. Sold?


1 medium spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 box crushed tomatoes
1 can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed
4 large leaves of swiss chard (about half a bunch), chopped
1 bunch basil, chopped
1 cup mozzarella
2 tbsp shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side up into a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until you can use a fork to scrape the spaghetti into noodles. Set noodles aside.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add shallot and saute until translucent. Add swiss chard and beans. Saute until chard wilts. Add tomatoes and spaghetti noodles. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. While filling is simmering, finely chop one bunch of basil.  

Add 1/3 of filling to the bottom of the baking dish surrounding the spaghetti boats. Split the remainder of the chard and bean filling between the two boats. Top with mozzarella, parmesan, and 1/2 chopped basil. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining half of the basil on top of the boats. 

Back to basics tip: opt for a jar of tomato basil marinara and eliminate the crushed tomatoes, shallot, and basil. 

Cranberry, Blueberry Granola with Coconut

In recognition of this little event called Election Day, I've created a red, white, and blue granola featuring cranberries, coconut, and blueberries. This is the order of your day - vote first, make this granola second. Got it? 

Cranberries are bitter, so they're usually prepared with loads of added sugar (cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table, for example). In an effort to limit added sugar, I've combined cranberries with a sweeter blueberry and added banana over sugar for a lightly sweet granola which makes for a great topping to smoothies or yogurt.

Cranberries are in season, so purchasing fresh this time of year makes sense. However, I used frozen wild blueberries since berry season is long gone and frozen berries are picked at their peak of freshness before freezing which preserves the nutrients.  

Cranberries and blueberries are both rich in antioxidants, some of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanin, the phytochemical that gives cranberries and blueberries their bright color, has been linked to cardiovascular protection and also has potential anti-carcinogenic properties. Plus, they taste great, so eat up! 


1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen wild blueberries)
3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 ripe banana
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a food processor, blend banana, cranberries, and blueberries. Add coconut and vanilla and pulse until combined. Remove blade and add oats. Stir with a spoon. Spread mixture onto a baking sheet and bake in a 350F oven for 40 minutes. Important: stir mixture every 10 minutes to prevent from burning.