Smart Nutrition

  • Register for January 2019 Classes:

    • Tuesday January 8, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.
           360 Colborne (Room J) - Register Here

    • Wednesday January 9, 2019 at 3:45 p.m. 
           Washington Tech (Room 1720) - Register Here
  • Foods to Improve Your Mental Clarity

    Posted by the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group on 1/15/2019

    Chef M.O.

    By the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group

    Tip: Give your brain a boost with foods that support mental clarity today and help prevent dementia as you age.

    Have you ever had one of those days when your brain just seems to be in a fog? You can’t remember where you put your car keys or you can’t focus on the task at hand? Do you look at the growing number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and wonder if that might be in your future? In this article, we highlight the ways smart nutrition not only stabilizes your mood and improves your mental clarity today but may also help stem development of dementia in your later years. Optimize your mind with smart nutrition, so you can think clearly, perform your best and get what you want out of life.

    Fuel Up for Your Day
    Breakfast is, quite literally, a breaking of the nighttime fast. You would never try to drive your car on an empty fuel tank – why start your day without fueling your body? The most important way to ensure mental clarity throughout your day is to begin it with a meal that provides protein and fiber for lasting energy. Chef Marshall’s Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash (see recipe below) is a delicious, hearty breakfast that provides ample protein to keep you well-fueled and focused until lunchtime.

    Feed Your Brain
    Load up on these foods that nourish your brain and support clear thinking:

         • Fruits and vegetables are loaded with polyphenols and other antioxidants, like beta-carotene and vitamins C, D, E and K, that improve cognitive performance, decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, and may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

         • Fatty fish, like salmon, herring, sardines and rainbow trout, provide omega-3 fatty acids that are linked with improved brain health and reduced cognitive decline. Fish is also a good source of vitamins B6 and B12, which show promise in maintaining mental clarity and warding off Alzheimer’s disease.

         • Spices have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce cell damage. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, is particularly effective at reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines, oxidative damage and cognitive deficits.

         • Water – Staying hydrated is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to maintain mental clarity. The symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, headache and lightheadedness, all of which make it difficult to think clearly.

    Stay off the Sugar Rollercoaster
    Foods high in processed carbohydrates or added sugars cause your blood sugar to spike then plummet, leaving you feeling sluggish and more likely to get ‘hangry’ (hungry/angry) before your next meal. Emphasize whole grains and complex carbohydrates, which deliver a steady
    stream of energy to your body and brain, and help you stay sharp throughout your day.

    Caffeine-Free Ways to Revitalize
    You may be inclined to reach for that cup of coffee when your energy and mental vigor dip following lunchtime, but caffeine puts you on its own energy rollercoaster. Pull yourself out of the mid-afternoon slump with these caffeine-free ideas:

         • Take a brisk walk outside.
         • Sip a cup of hot decaf or herbal tea.
         • Do some gentle stretching exercises at your desk.
         • Dab peppermint essential oil on your temples or the back of your neck.

    Give your Brain a Boost
    Eating the right foods improves your attention, mental clarity and mood. And when you eat mindfully, you transform meals into built-in periods of calm and mental rejuvenation in your busy day. Fuel up on a protein-packed breakfast, steer clear of sweets and excess caffeine, and load up on nourishing foods that feed not only your body, but also your mind.

    You will love the way you feel!

    Comments (-1)

    Posted by the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group on 1/2/2019

    Tip: The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t in the past year, create a plan, and take baby steps toward your healthiest, happiest self. Here are some helpful tips and an easy recipe to simplify your journey.

    You have emerged from the holiday season and begun a brand-new year. Are you happy with this past year’s journey? Like most of us, you probably feel good about some of your choices and would prefer to leave others behind. The good news is you are at the start of your new year’s journey. This time of new beginnings is ripe with the opportunity to take note of what worked and what didn’t in the past and formulate a plan to move forward into a year of wellness for you and your family.

    Take Inventory
    Sit down with a cup of tea and consider your nutritional successes and disappointments from the holiday season and the past year as a whole. Acknowledge and feel good about the choices you made that nourished your body. Make note of all you did well so you can carry these habits forward with you. Next, take a look at your disappointments and consider why you made less than ideal choices. How might you choose better when faced with similar circumstances in the future? Be objective: This is an opportunity for investigation, not a time for self-judgment.

    Create Your Plan
    We are most successful at making smart food choices when we have a plan to guide us. This does not mean you should adopt the latest fad diet - quite the contrary! Formulate your own eating plan, using what you learned while you were taking inventory. Your plan should contain specific, individualized goals and incorporate what worked for you in the past. Include the helpful solutions you brainstormed so you can avoid last year’s pitfalls. Do certain foods or environments trigger you to make poor choices? Be specific and address these in your plan.

    Make It Nutritious and Delicious
    You will be more likely to stick to your plan if it involves pleasure instead of restriction. Truly nourishing food is not just healthy - it is delicious! And it need not be difficult and time-consuming. Be on the lookout for recipes that are both nourishing and appealing to you. Keep them where you can easily reference them when planning your meals for the week. Start with our recipe for Quick Skillet Chicken and Veggies.  It makes use of rotisserie chicken if you don’t have time to cook it yourself and allows you to use whatever vegetables you have on hand—fresh or frozen. Very flexible!

    It’s All Baby Steps
    Above all, change happens in baby steps. Attempt too much at once and you will get
    discouraged and quit (remember last January?). Instead, make one change at a time and
    build on your successes. When you hit a bump in the road, don’t get discouraged - wake
    up the next day and get back on your plan. After a month of practicing your plan daily,
    even the most challenging changes will start to become habit.

    You will love the way you feel!

    Comments (-1)
  • Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash

    By the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group

    Use left-over turkey (or chicken) and roasted sweet potatoes to quickly create this flavorful and nourishing meal. This tasty hash makes a great one-dish breakfast or you can also serve it for dinner on those nights when you need a quick mealtime solution.

    4 Servings


    • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled (optional*) and diced (or dice left-over previously roasted sweet potatoes)
    • 1 pound cooked turkey or chicken, finely diced--left-overs work well
    • 1/2 cup yellow onions, diced
    • 5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
    • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, minced


    1.  Skip this step if using left-over roasted sweet potatoes: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in
    a large skillet on medium-high heat; add sweet potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally,
    until golden brown and soft, about 7-8 minutes. Remove potatoes and set aside.

    2.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet; add turkey and onions and cook until
    softened, stirring occasionally, about 4-6 minutes.

    3.  Add spinach, salt and thyme; cook until spinach is slightly wilted.

    4.  Add cooked sweet potatoes and heat through.

    5.  Combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin and parsley.

    6.  Garnish hash with a dollop of the herbed yogurt.

    *If leaving the skin on the sweet potatoes, scrub them well before preparing. They are as edible as regular potato skins.


    Question: What can I do to get my kids to eat more vegetables?

    Answer: Here are 5 things to look at in getting your kids to eat vegetables.

    1. It starts with you. Gen Z (your kids!) does not listen to what you say, they watch what
    you do. You must lead by example—so eat your veggies and let them see you
    enjoying them!

    2. With younger kids, it can be more about expressing their power and independence
    than about the vegetables. They are saying no to express their power, so learn to
    empower them to eat vegetables. See #4.

    3. Vegetables must look and taste good before anyone, kids included, will want to eat
    them. Use herbs and spices, roast instead of steaming for better texture and
    appearance, cut them in interesting shapes, garnish the bowl or the plate before
    serving. Talk about how green beans taste good and not that green beans are good
    for you. Those last two words change the entire meaning about the vegetable.

    4. Empower kids by making them part of the process. Take them to the grocery store
    and have them help you pick the vegetables that you will serve that week. If possible,
    have them help you prepare them. Find one they like and name it after them – Julie’s
    Special Broccoli Recipe.

    5. This is about baby steps so take your time in making this transition.




    During the winter in northern states, most of us are vitamin D deficient. That’s a problem
    because vitamin D is needed to help us absorb the calcium that keeps our bones strong and
    it helps us keep our immune system strong, too.

    Our bodies use sunshine to make vitamin D and at this time of year, we are not outside with
    exposed skin often enough to make enough vitamin D. Food sources include fatty fish like
    tuna, mackerel and salmon, along with vitamin D-fortified dairy products, but it’s difficult to
    get enough vitamin D from these sources.

    Talk to your health practitioner about whether you should take a supplement. It is possible
    to get too much vitamin D, but many dietitians recommend a supplement of 2000 IU daily
    during the winter.