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conscious eating

How Much Do You Know About Your Cup Of Joe?


How Much Do You Know About Your Cup Of Joe?

As a Registered Dietitian, one of the questions I get regularly is surrounding the topic of coffee and whether or not it is healthy or harmful. The answer, unfortunately (like everything regarding nutrition) is not black or white.

The average person in the US consumes about 3 cups of coffee per day. I’ve heard everything from people being “addicted to coffee” to “plugging their nose while downing an espresso shot” purely to reap the benefits of the caffeine. However, the majority of people I talk to genuinely enjoy the taste of their morning brew as well as their morning ritual of having their cup of coffee to start the day (myself included)!

In recent years, there have been numerous studies that indicate coffee delivers more health benefits than risk.  Coffee is one of the largest sources of antioxidants in the western culture diet.  Moderate consumption has been shown to lower cancer risk, decrease risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, help to control insulin levels and decrease risk for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.  Coffee is also believed to increase cognitive function and athletic performance.

With these benefits – it seems like drinking coffee is a no brainer right? So what are the potential problems with coffee?

The first problem is what you put into your coffee.  The average Starbucks order is 300-400 calories.  This is like a dessert for breakfast.  Made with love, but also a whole lot of extra fat and calories.

Solution - Switch to a non-fat milk latte and try to decrease the sugar you add in (yes – honey, agave, and Sugar in the Raw is still sugar). Try jazzing up your coffee with cinnamon or vanilla powder (for more antioxidants and polyphenols). My favorite substitution when brewing my own coffee at home is using organic unsweetened Silk soy milk.  It provides a creamy/vanilla flavor while saving money!

Short on time in the morning? Easy! I set my coffee pot the night before! Oh, technology these days!

So how MUCH coffee should I drink?

Experts recommend 3 cups (8 ounces each) is “moderate consumption”.

Who should limit coffee/caffeine intake?

If you have hypertension, are elderly, are pregnant or breastfeeding it is suggested to limit intake to about 200mg of caffeine per day.

How to choose the best coffee?

Look at the quality and how it was grown. Fairtrade and organic ensure high quality coffee beans. Coffee is a heavily sprayed crop with pesticides so it is important to look into where your beans are coming from.

Does coffee affect hormones?

Caffeine has been found to exacerbate stress and increase cortisol levels (cortisol is your body's stress hormone that increases when your body is under physical/mental/emotional stress). If you are someone with an increased sensitivity or have thyroid issues, you may want to be mindful of your caffeine consumption.

When is the best time to drink coffee?

It is important to listen to your body and know how caffeine affects you.  For many people with sleep issues – caffeine is often a contributor.  I recommend drinking your coffee earlier in the day and limit it in the afternoon to avoid sleep disturbance.

The verdict?

Coffee is a win! The latest research is that coffee is not “bad” for you and can offer many health benefits. However, like all things in life, moderation is key and it is important to be mindful of how much you are drinking, what time of day, and those little additions (big calories) that you are putting into your coffee!

Image Source : Chevanon


Grocery Shopping With Coach Amber!


Grocery Shopping With Coach Amber!

Do you find yourself eating take out more often than you would like? Or do you find yourself never having food in the fridge?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, keep reading!

With everyone’s busy schedules, it's hard to make time to make a home-cooked meal. Most of people don’t even cook on a daily basis, which is something I struggle with as well. It’s much easier and more time-efficient to go out and order food everyday, but the downside is that you don’t always know what goes into your food. The benefits of having home-cooked meals are significant: you are able to choose what you fuel your body with, you save money, and you get the satisfaction of being your own chef! Don’t know where to start?

Here are some tips:

1. Don’t go shopping hungry.

This is probably the last thing you want to do. When you are hungry, there is more of a chance that you will buy more food than you need and in turn, settle for more unhealthy foods.

2. Make a list!

Make a list and stick to it. This way, your grocery shopping time is cut down in half because you won’t be walking up and down aisles searching for the items that you want to get.

3. Avoid prime times!

AKA Weekdays after work 4pm-6pm

Sunday at ALL TIMES, unless you try to go when they first open.

4. Lastly, purchase simple food.

If you find yourself struggling to make a meal at home, don’t go and buy lavish ingredients that only serve one purpose. Purchase ingredients that can be used for multiple dishes that way nothing is going to waste.

Here’s an example of a week's worth of simple ingredients for easy-to-prepare meals at home. If you are cinched for time and really don’t have the time to go shopping on your own, you can try productivity apps and services such as Instacart, AmazonFresh, and CurbSpace that allow you to choose your groceries and have them available for pickup/delivery to save time! Listed below is a solid, go-to shopping list as well as a few recipes that can be easily made with those ingredients.

Sample grocery list: Eggs, milk, yogurt, berries, banana, onion, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, chicken/other protein, grain (brown rice), avocado, garlic , tortilla (corn), black beans, lemon/lime


Here are some example recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!


Veggie Omelette

Prep time: 5 minutes. Total cook time, 10 minutes. Serving size 1


2 eggs

2 Tbs chopped onion (yellow)

1 clove garlic minced

3 cherry tomatoes chopped

2 mushrooms chopped

Handful of spinach

¼ avocado

1 Tbs olive oil ( other cooking oil)

Salt and pepper to taste.


Heat up pan to medium heat. Add olive oil. Chop up onion and garlic. Add to heated pan. Stir until soft and brown, about 2 minutes.  Keep stirring so that you don’t burn the garlic. Then add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Saute for 1 min. While you wait, crack the 2 eggs into a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whip with fork so that the yolk and white come together. Add the handful of spinach into the pan and stir for about 30 seconds, or until wilted slightly. Finally add the eggs. Carefully stir the egg and veggie mixture until it starts to come together. Once cooked thoroughly on one side, flip over with spatula. Once flipped, then add ¼ of the avocado slices to one side of the omelette. After 1 minute or the other side of the omelette is cooked to your liking, fold in half and serve! Enjoy!

Quick Breakfast Smoothie 


½ cup yogurt

¼ cup berries (fresh or frozen)

Handful spinach

¼ cup milk (almond, soy, coconut)

Handful of ice


Put everything in your blender of choice and blend until smooth.


Wannabe Chipotle Burrito Bowl

I love chipotle just as much as the next person, but with all of the controversy regarding the health of their restaurant I don’t want to take any chances. This would be a great recipe for date night in! Or to double up for a lunch and dinner!

Prep time: 10 minutes. Total cook time: 20 minutes. Serving size 2.


6 oz chicken, preferably tenders because they are easier to cook evenly ( fresh or frozen)

3 TBS onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

4 mushrooms chopped

6 cherry tomatoes chopped

½ zucchini chopped in small squares

½ avocado

½ can of black beans, drained and rinsed

4 tortillas (corn or flour)

1 cup uncooked rice

Cayenne, paprika, cumin to taste.


Chicken prep: Time to season!  Add 1-2 TBS of each seasoning: cayenne pepper, paprika, and cumin as well as salt and pepper to taste.

While your chicken is absorbing all of the good flavors. Start chopping up your veggies and put to the side as well as draining and rinsing your black beans.

Now you're ready to cook!

Start the rice next!

Add 1 cup of uncooked rice into a sauce pan. Turn on heat, then add 2 cups of warm water. Bring rice to a boil, then simmer (low heat) with lid until rice is cooked through and no more water is left in the pan. Check occasionally and stir.

Time for veggies!

Turn on pan to medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Then add the onion and garlic. Stir until brown and onions are translucent. Next add the tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini. After 2 minutes, or veggies are soft but not mushy add black beans and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then remove from heat and place aside.

In separate pan, time to cook the chicken! Turn on pan to medium heat. Add 1 TBS olive oil. Then add seasoned chicken to pan. Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of the tender. Once cooked through, remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before you cut into bite sized pieces.

Time to assemble!

In a bowl, add ½ cup of cooked rice, ¼ cup of the veggie mixture, and ½ cup of the diced chicken. Top with sliced avocado. Feel free to enjoy with a tortilla, a squeeze of lime, or a dollop of plain greek yogurt for a healthier version of sour cream! Enjoy!

Now that you have some easy staple meals, there are no excuses! These recipes use up all the groceries I listed above, which saves you a ton of money and nothing goes to waste!



Learn more about Coach Amber here