Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yes, I’m Alive

I am fully aware I went MIA this marathon training season.  I don’t have an excuse, but I’ll tell you right now I’m planning a blog comeback.  So, stay tuned.  For now, wish me luck, as I tackle marathon #4 this weekend.  I’m a mix of emotions, but mostly excited.  I’m planning to recap the race here on the blog Monday so stay tuned. 🙂

Why Having a Workout Buddy is Almost as Important as Working Out

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Posing pre-marathon with two of my favorite workout buddies!

As a registered dietitian and fitness enthusiast, I frequently find my peers and patients asking me how I stay motivated and inspired to fit in physical activity.  The truth is, it’s always a challenge because some days, you just don’t feel like it.  Just because I am well educated on the reasons I should be working out, doesn’t mean it’s easy to push myself to work out every day.  Want to learn how I find accountability with my fitness routine?  Head over to my blogger friend Jess’s blog, Dietitian Jess, where I’ve shared a guest post on this very topic.

Happy rainy Thursday everyone… it’s almost Friday!

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Yelp’s Cincy Made and Taste of the NFL

So last week was probably the week I ate everything.  Seriously.  All the events centered around food seemed to take place all at one time.  I wanted to pop in and share some of the bites I tasted with you all.  But first, let’s remember balance.  Because last week I ate a lot of foods I don’t normally eat all the time.  But this week isn’t centered around food-focused events and I’m balancing out last weeks indulgences with lots of fresh, lighter fare in exchange for the pastries, donuts, and fried treats.

Yelp’s Cincy Made at Urbana Cafe


I was such a fan of this event.  This was a new to me coffee shop downtown and boy am I glad this event helped me discover it.  Yelp’s Cincy Made events are free to individuals with Yelp accounts and designed so you can get an inside look at all aspects of some really cool local businesses.  The space itself was really inviting but modern, and the exposed brick on the wall really added to the ambiance.


The coffee was amazing.  My espresso was bold and flavorful; not bitter but definitely strong.  The food here is the star of the show though.  It’s not just your average chocolate cookies and brownies at this coffee shop.  Pastry Chef Stephanie is formally trained and prior to joining team Urbana, she worked as a pastry chef in fine dining establishments.  This has led her to create some delicious and absolutely beautiful treats.  Let’s talk toast bar–probably one of the most unique things I tried at Urbana was the toast.  Stephanie comes up with different toast creations are they are as beautiful as they are tasty.  A close second to the toast for me was Stephanie’s chocolate lemon scone.  SO GOOD.

The Freestore Foodbank’s Taste of the NFL

 

Taste of the NFL is hands down my favorite volunteer event with the Freestore Foodbank (FSFB) every year.  Since I used to work at the FSFB, I always get invited to help with this high profile event.  The Cincinnati Bengals team up with local eateries for one giant fundraiser where attendees can get autographs from their favorite players and taste some of Cincinnati’s best dishes.  This year, per usual, was incredible.  Because I could spend days typing reviews of every single bite I tasted, I’ll share some highlights with you below.

Holtman’s 

Always a favorite of mine.  I’ve been obsessing over the simplicity of just a solid sprinkled donut recently.  Always hits the spot.

 Taste of Belgium
This fun play on chicken and waffles was the best thing I ate.  It was a deliciously dense waffle topped with pulled pork and mango chutney.

This short rib and bacon dish.  So good.
This bacon and pea dish wins the creativity award.  I have never tasted anything quite like it.
The Phoenix
I’ve never eaten anything catered by the Phoenix, but was super impressed with their lobster corn dog.  Nice and crisp outside and moist inside.

 Tom + Chee
You may know this local establishment from shark tank.  I know them for the grilled cheese donut.  It’s as heavenly as it sounds.

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5 Things Friday!

TGIF, Friends!  This week has been incredibly busy between deadlines at work, and evening commitments after work.  Some highlights for the week include Yelp’s Cincy Made at Urbana Cafe and volunteering (then indulging later) at my favorite Cincinnati fundraiser, Taste of the NFL.  I’ll have full recaps on both those events coming at ya next week but I thought I’d share 5 food and fitness tidbits from my week so you can get a glimpse of how I’ve managed to find balance amidst the chaos!

  1.  I made it two times to P/E class at the Blue Ash Recreation Center.  Every time I go, I realize how much I miss having the time to attend all 5 early AM classes.  Per usual, Andrew designed some killer workouts, and my hamstrings definitely felt it yesterday when I tried to run.   
  2. Taste of the NFL!  I love that I’m on the volunteer list for this event.  Not only do I get to support a great cause, but I get to taste some of Cincy’s best eats.  I think the last time I felt that full was Thanksgiving dinner.  Standouts for me were obviously the dishes that included donuts, but more to come on that next week 🙂   
  3. Yelp’s Cincy Made at Urbana Cafe was a winner in my book.  I love supporting local business, especially those with coffee, so learning the history behind the business and getting to taste some of their menu offerings was a real treat. 
  4. After a week of indulging, I was in major need of something green.  It’s rare that I crave kale–those who know me best know it’s not a favorite food of mine–but when I saw the kale salad in the cafe at work today, I knew it would hit the spot.  Paired this salad up with some hummus and wheat crackers.  Perfect satisfying, healthy lunch. 
  5. A patient told me yesterday, “God gave us taste buds for a reason.”  Couldn’t agree more.  Food is meant to be enjoyed and every now and then, we may have a week where we overindulge, but finding balance and getting back on track is the real key to staying on the healthy lifestyle wagon.

What are your taste buds planning to enjoy this weekend?  A new recipe?  A new restaurant?  A favorite food? 

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The New Nutrition Facts Label

Hi Friends!  Happy Monday.  I recently wrote an article that is soon to be featured in a professional newsletter, but I thought I should share some key highlights from the article with all of you.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released it’s final rules for it’s overhaul of the nutrition facts label and food manufacturers with more than $10 million in annual food sales are expected to transition to the new labeling format by July 26, 2018.  So, what does this mean for you, the consumer?  Detailed below are what I consider to be some of the most relevant and significant changes to the new food labels.  Let’s take a look:

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  1. Updated Design
    While the classic look of the label will remain, many updates have been made to ensure consumers have access to the information they need for making informed dietary decisions:

    • Increasing font size for “calories,” “servings per container,” and “serving size.”
    • Bolding the “number of calories,” “servings per container,” and “serving size.”
    • The footnote section on the label will better explain what the percent daily value actually means to you, the consumer
  2. Up-To-Date Nutrition Science
    The new label will feature the addition of “added sugars,” in grams and percent daily.  It’s no secret that added sugars are detrimental to our health.  Scientific data has demonstrated a positive association with weight gain and obesity in children and adults.  In addition, added sugars have been linked to a variety of other health conditions including heart disease.  Research has also demonstrated that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if more than 10% of total daily calories consumed come from added sugars.

    Another scientifically relevant update comes with the removal of “calories from fat.”  Current research demonstrates that the type of fat consumed is more significant than the amount consumed.

  3. Serving Size Makeover
    Serving sizes must now reflect amounts of food and beverage that people actually consume, not what they should be consuming.  Over the years, how much individuals eat and drink has drastically changed since the previous portion size requirements were published back in 1993.  Here’s an example of what I mean:  The reference amount for a scoop of ice cream was previously 1/2 cup of ice cream per serving.  The new nutrition label will reference a 2/3 cup serving of ice cream.  While I find it a major bummer that the new label will not reflect the modest portion sizes we should be eating, I think it’s important for consumers to have easy access to accurate information about their food, and this change in serving sizes will allow consumers to make realistic and informed decisions.
  4. New Labeling Requirements For Certain Package Sizes
    Package sizes that are between one and two servings (like a 20 ounce soda bottle) will now be labeled as one serving.  This is to reflect the idea that most consumers are not just drinking half of a 20 ounce soda bottle, they are most likely drinking the entire thing.  For products that are larger than a single serving but could be consumed in one sitting, manufacturers will be required to provide “dual column” labels to identify the amount of calories and nutrients on a “per serving” and “per package” basis.  An example of this new requirement would apply to a pint of ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekdays Can Be Weekends Too

Happy Wednesday aka hump day, friends!  For me, Wednesdays are hands down the longest day of the week for me to power through, so I always love starting it out with a solid workout.  Per my usual Wednesday morning routine, I hit up Andrew’s P/E (power and endurance) class at the Blue Ash Recreation Center.  While it’s slightly out of the way for me now, this class is hands down one of my favorites and a great value at $6 dollars for a drop-in fee.  Plus, I used to be a regular back in 2014, where I attended 4-5 mornings a week!  So, it’s always a good time seeing some familiar faces :).  Andrew organized a killer workout this morning.  I think the hardest part was the third tabata we did–instead of the traditional 10 seconds of rest between rounds, we did wall sits.  Ooof!  Super challenging.  As always, loved the puns on the workout board and the high energy of class.  Can’t wait until next Wednesday!

  
I wanted to pop in today to tell you why I think treating your weekdays like weekends is a good thing.  That’s right.  The world we live in is incredibly fast paced, over-scheduled, and full of constant, non-stop activity.  My life is no exception to this.  Sometimes, this can lead our weekends to feel just as busy as weekdays and no time for relaxation with loved ones.  In an effort to try and be a more positive thinker, I’ve come to the realization that slowing down can be a good thing.  I read this post a few weeks back and realized what a great concept it described:  Making our weekdays feel more like the weekend.

  
I spend every day of my workweek looking forward to Saturday, my one guaranteed day off each week.  I look forward to taking my time in the morning, getting in a great workout, enjoying a delicious breakfast or brunch I might not normally indulge in (or have time for) during the week, and in general, moving slower.  Weekends are also great because they involve more mental relaxation and time spent with friends.  Weekends are also great for downtime.  I read this article from Scientific American recently, that describes why our brains need more downtime.  “Research reveals how mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories, and encourage creativity.”  Mental breaks can look different for everyone.  For me sometimes it’s curling up with a good book.  Sometimes it’s eating a delicious meal outside and just enjoying the quiet and peacefulness.  Sometimes a mental break is a walk to grab coffee with a friend.  These mental breaks can lend towards productivity in the workplace, but can also allow us to have a clear head and positive attitude when it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices too.

  
While I can’t say I’ve discovered a true love for meditation, what I have found is that slowing down and allowing myself to enjoy activities I traditionally save for weekends has allowed me to think more clearly, positively and remain more productive and motivated to accomplish goals during the workweek–work goals, fitness goals and even health & nutrition goals.  I gave this idea a shot on Monday, because we all know Mondays can be tough, and it worked out really great.  From moving just a touch slower and making a real effort to incorporate things into my day that provided mental breaks from my work tasks, I was really able to end the day feeling positive and refreshed, even though I spent 9 of those hours at work.

  
In an effort to move slower, Monday started out sleeping in an extra 15 minutes until 5:30 AM.  While it seems silly, allowing myself the extra 15 minutes made a huge difference!  After waking up and enjoying my coffee with a dose of NBC news on the side, I did a 25 minute circuit in my apartment.  Normally, I wouldn’t have time for this, but I knew that working out helps me to clear my head and start the day on a positive foot, so I was happy to make time for some movement.  I did a few tabatas and EMOMs (every minute on the minute) and then made breakfast.  I have been craving bacon for weeks now, and it’s typically a weekend food for me, but since I was trying to have a “weekend” kinda mindset, I went with it.  Breakfast was soaked oats, fruit and extra crispy bacon.  This meal left me so, so happy.

  
Later that day, I decided to take a work break and squeeze in a walk + coffee date with a friend instead of my traditional lunch break where I snack at my desk.  The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze.  It felt absolutely incredible to grab an iced latte and breathe in some fresh air.  It made all the difference in my day.  After work, I went straight to the park to meet up with my friend Mary for a run.  Normally, I probably wouldn’t go to a park on a weeknight, just for sake of time, but in an effort to incorporate more interesting and exciting activities into my day, I was excited to go see how the development of Summit Park was going.  We did 4 easy miles on the loop that surrounds the park before our good form running clinic that was meeting at the park later that evening.  Wandering and exploring the park prior to the clinic was a fun way to slow things down too!

 

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 The day ended with the Bachelorette  premier + pizza with Mary.  Pizza is normally a weekend food for me, but in honor of treating Monday like the weekend, and JoJo, why not?

  
What did I learn from slowing down my Monday?  Well it didn’t impact my productivity negatively, and I ended the day feeling more refreshed, less stressed, and overall more positive about my week.  While slowing down every day isn’t a realistic goal for me, I will be making a more conscious effort to incorporate more positive activities into my days to make them more interesting and exciting.

  
Your turn, how would you make a Monday feel like the weekend?  What are your tips and tricks for slowing down?

 

 

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Missouri Weekend

Hi friends.  Happy Tuesday.  Just popping in here on this dreary Tuesday morning (so sick of the rain…who else is with me?!) to share some snapshots of my quick, weekend trip to Columbia, Missouri.  Myself and some of the fam went to see my younger brother graduate before he moves to Seattle.  Exciting stuff!

The drive from Cincinnati to the Columbia area took almost 9 hours.  I blame rush hour traffic in the St. Louis area.  Is St. Louis rush hour always the worst?!  The drive included plenty of packed road snacks (almonds, fruit + iced lattes) and a Panera stop for lunch.  Upon arrival to Columbia, it was dinner time.  Off to one of our favorites in Columbia, Broadway Brewery!  Broadway Brewery is located in the basement of a building so it’s very dark inside so unfortunately, no photos.  While I was 100% underwhelmed by their pre-selected graduation menu and did not enjoy my meal Friday, from a previous experience, I can report that their burgers are top notch and you can’t beat the beer.  I like their honey wheat.  Instead of food photos, here’s an attractive family photo at the restaurant.

  
The next day was a late wake up call.  After a morning workout and hotel breakfast, it was off to explore Columbia.  Coffee, scones and donuts?  Yes, please.  I was sad sour cream dunkers were the only type of donut Harold’s had left, but just goes to show in a college town, the hangover can motivate students to buy all the donuts at a local donut shop before lunch.

   
 Next up, a very early (like 3:30pm) dinner at Sophia’s before the graduation ceremony.  Sophia’s was good, not great.  In true Kaplan family fashion, we tried a bunch of stuff.  Started with an antipasti plate.  It had pita, cheese, fruit, and meat.  So tasty.

  
The ahi tuna pita flatbread was just okay.  The horseradish mayo was way too overwhelming for my taste buds.

  
My favorite was the pasta carbonara.

  

I was most confused by the grilled romaine.  Why is that a thing?

  
After or dinner (or linner–lunch + dinner, is that a real phrase?) we wandered the Mizzou campus for pre graduation photos.  Then, much needed coffee.  Then, a boring graduation ceremony.

  
The drive home was long so immediately after returning to Cincinnati, a run was in order.  5 miles with my friend Maria in the books.

  
Congrats to the grad!

Who else is traveling to graduation ceremonies this month?  Any healthy traveling tips you swear by?  Does anyone actually like grilled romaine salads?

 

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OAND Pre-Conference: Your State, Your Plate!

Hi Friends!  Happy Monday.  Posts were few and far between last week, but for good reason!  On Thursday I was up in Columbus for the day to participate in the Ohio Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics (OAND) annual pre-conference event.  I have always wanted to attend the actual conference however, I had plans to travel to Missouri with family Friday and Saturday.  So, when I saw this pre-conference meeting was an option, I jumped right on it.

    
The day was planned and organized by the American Dairy Association Mideast, with help from the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Poultry Association, and Ohio Cattleman’s Association in partnership with the Ohio State University Extension Center.  The goal for the meeting was for participants to get a firsthand look at how our foods are produced.  We got to chat with farmers and speak with food production experts to learn exactly how different foods end up on our plate.  Awesome!

  
First tour?  OSU’s dairy farm.  Before heading over to the actual farm, we had to put on some super attractive foot covers (pictured above) to prevent bringing contaminants on site.  Clearly they take great care of their cows.  I think for starters, it was incredibly surprising to find that right in the dead center of an urban campus, there is a fully functioning 167 acre dairy farm featuring over 100 Jersey cows.  While the main focus of this dairy farm is obviously to benefit the university (research, education, student employment), they do sell their milk to Smith’s Dairy and these profits help support the mission of the farm.

  
Now, let’s talk milk!  What I found most interesting about the dairy industry was that there is typically a turnaround of no more than 48 hours from milking the cow, to the milk appearing on supermarket shelves.  Crazy to think that milk from the grocery store is literally as fresh as it could be.  What I found to be slightly more shocking though, was how little farmers earn off each gallon of milk sold at the grocery:  only 65 cents to a dollar.  This amounts to around a $40,000 / year salary for a farmer with 100 cows.  I would have guessed they earn more considering how hard the farmers work.  It’s a 24/7 job!

   
   
Next stop was OSU’s Garden of Hope.  This garden is a unique set up designed specifically for local cancer patients.  The farm is used as a means for educating patients, survivors and family members on healthy dietary patters, specifically with cancer in mind.  These individuals also have the unique opportunity to come harvest their own produce from this ENORMOUS garden.  A lot of thought and consideration went into developing this project, including pesticide use.  They do not use pesticides or herbicides because most of the people picking the produce are immunosuppressed cancer patients.  In addition, this farm cannot be considered organic due to use of synthetic fertilizer.  Again, due minimizing risk for the cancer patients, the decision was made to prevent exposing them to the organic fertilizer, which typically is made with manure.

   
 
During lunch, we skyped a pork farmer, and he introduced us to his pigs, and explained the process of raising pigs.  Unfortunately, the skype connection was not the best and it was very difficult to hear what the farmer had to say.  However, I was very impressed with how clean the facility was and how well managed it appeared.

After lunch, we were off to the OSU Beef Facility.  Here we got to speak with the farmers and student interns who manage and maintain the cattle.  Fun fact:  did you know there is a beef farm in every Ohio county?  What was also interesting to learn was that all the cattle are artificially inseminated in order to synchronize the breeding.  This allows for all cows to be on a similar schedule, making animal management much less cumbersome.  While this farm functions just like any other beef facility might, the primary purpose here is for research and education.  Any beef left over is sold at a university meat market at a discount price (aka perfect for struggling college students!).

   
   
After the long day of farm tours, it was time to head home to Cincinnati.  Such an interesting way to spend a day–while I don’t do any farming for my work, I deal with individuals who are constantly asking questions about food and where it comes from.  This meeting provided me with new facts and perspective on what it takes to get food from farm to plate.

 

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Thursday Thoughts

Why did I just discover that my local Whole Foods has the 7.99 “Meatless Monday” special?  I filled that plate to the max with veggies, tofu and other vegetarian staples and got a Monday dinner + Tuesday lunch out of it.  Such a mega bargain.  I’ll be back.

  
I’m becoming marathon obsessed.  I thought I was hasty signing up for my second marathon 2 weeks after my first, but I broke a new record Monday.  I signed up for marathon #4 just 2 days after my less than desired experience at marathon #3.  Redemption + a new PR?  Yes please!

  
I’m traveling to Redondo Beach, California for a work conference in September.  It ends Friday but I’m not flying back until Sunday.  I need ALL THE SUGGESTIONS for food, fitness and travel activities I should experience.  Should I rent a car?  Where should I go?  What should I do?  Where should I stay?  I’ll be traveling solo.  Help!!!

  
Looking for a good cookie recipe.  I’ve recently made this one about a dozen and a half times (totally exaggerating but still).  Cookie requirements:  must have a chewy center and crisp exterior.

  
I’m pedal wagoning this weekend.  I’ve never done it.  I’m excited.

  
Happy Cinco De Mayo!  To celebrate, I’m going on my first post marathon run.  Hope the ankle holds up.  TBD.  If it doesn’t, there will certainly be a margarita in my future.

  
I take beautiful race photos.  Case and point below.  

  

What are you guys doing to celebrate Cinco De Mayo?

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Louisville, Kentucky Eats + Activities

Happy Hump Day, friends!  Hard to believe that it’s already Wednesday and that I’m officially a 3x marathoner.  The more time I’ve had to sit and reflect on Saturday’s race, the more content I have become with how things shook out.  26.2 is such an unpredictable distance and many seasoned marathoners will likely agree with me here, that anything beyond mile 18 is going to be a mystery.  There is no way I could have anticipated the issue I encountered with my ankle, so the fact I still beat an old time to earn a shiny new PR is nothing short of wonderful.  Even if this PR does not reflect my current level of fitness, I beat my previous time and that’s what counts.  Plus, in other ankle related news… Guys!  It’s officially not swollen and completely pain free.  I’m still taking care of it, but I don’t think it’s going to take me out of commission.  It might force me to ease back in incredibly slow, but who said that’s a bad thing 🙂


So while the main purpose of our trip was obviously to run, we did do our best to sample some of Louisville’s best eats and activities.  First on the agenda Saturday after a nice post-race nap?  Pizza!  Right next to our Airbnb was this nifty place called Garage Bar.  It was raining, so we ordered our pizza to go.  However, this place sticks out due to the garage like patio set-up it has.  While we waited for our order, we sat at the bar and enjoyed some local craft beers before taking the pizza back to the apartment.  It was AMAZING pizza.  We got a sweet corn and bacon, as well as a brussels sprouts pizza.  I wolfed down 5 slices so fast I forgot to take a picture.  .  Running 26.2 miles will do that to ya 🙂

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Next on the agenda was another nap.  We were wiped.  After that, time for dinner!  We heard about a BBQ joint / Brewery called Against The Grain and knew that would be the perfect spot to continue the post marathon celebration.  Obviously we all sampled some of the beers (my favorite was their pilsner) and of course the BBQ nachos.  For dinner, we split a few different items including a beer can chicken, brisket, and a ton of sides.  The chicken was moist and delicious.  Unfortunately, the sides were a major bummer.  I felt like they came from a deli counter at Kroger opposed to a nice restaurant.  For a sweet bite after dinner, we obviously tried the bacon donut.  It was good, but not my favorite donut.


 Post dinner included checking out Louisville night life for drinks on 4th Street.  If it wasn’t for my swollen ankle, this might have been more enjoyable.  Always fun to explore though!

Sunday morning we slept in.  First on the agenda was coffee and Louisville’s best chocolate chip cookie at Please and Thank You.  This place was absolutely adorable.  I could spend a lot of money here.



Our early morning snack was followed by brunch at Wild Eggs.  I felt the need for some veggie action so I got a veggie hash with fried eggs on top.  Hit the spot.  And a celebratory bloody mary–because marathon weekend 🙂


Last stop?  A mandatory visit to a location on the Bourbon Trail.  The Bulleit Bourbon Tour was a blast.  The property was very beautiful and well maintained plus, our tour guide was passionate and had a sense of humor.  He was also incredibly knowledgeable.  I learned that my favorite bourbons have a higher ratio of corn than barley or rye which is what makes them sweeter.  Cool!




I’ll also mention that our Airbnb was in a really cool part of town called “NuLu.”  It’s a very trendy area that’s really turning around.  The streets were so beautiful too–Market Street specifically was lined with cute shops and restaurants.

Who’s been to Louisville?  Favorite spots?  Favorite post marathon meal?

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