Razzle Dazzle Your Main Dish

Recently someone shared with me a new way to grill chicken. She had experimented with some spices and found a combination or two in her cupboard that were fantastic on her dinner that night.

It got me to thinking, because I love to make things simple but I also like to liven up my meals. I’ve experimented with a few seasonings in my kitchen and found a winning recipe (yes, I always win 🙂 ).

I just thought I’d share both of them with you. It is soon grilling season, so now is the time to “razzle-dazzle” your family with these two rubs.

Spices are a fantastic way to make your meal shine without adding any extra calories. In fact, many spices and herbs have health benefits, too.

Did you know paprika is an anti- inflammatory agent, while ginger can help prevent motion sickness? Garlic is one of the most helpful spices for the digestive tract. Adding these tasty spices to our foods can actually help keep from reaching for the Pepto-Bismol – who knew?

Got any great combos you would like to share? Put them in the comment section below and let us try your favorites, too.

Becky's Chicken Rub

  • 2½ teaspoons McCormick Garlic Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Mix both together and use as a rub on 4-5 chicken breasts an hour before grilling.

Ragin' Cajun Dry Rub

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme

Mix all of these and add to fish, chicken, or pork. Can be used as a rub or marinade. I use this on fish before making fish tacos – yummy. It is also fantastic on chicken. Pork ribs, need I say more?

Share your favorite dry rub or marinade with us. We’ve got plenty of grilling time ahead.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

You Are a Fathead

Yes, you are, and no, I am not insulting you.

Your brain is comprised of approximately 60% lipids (aka fat), and our cell membranes are fat based as well. According to Dr. Ryan Andrews the fat we eat literally becomes part of our cells, and has a huge impact on if our nervous system communicates properly. I was amazed to learn that a properly balanced fat intake can affect how my entire body functions, from our brain power all the way through. You really are what you eat!

What are healthy fats so important?

  • Fats exert powerful effects within the body and healthy fats have been shown to offer the following benefits
  • Cardiovascular protection (though there is less evidence for protecting against heart failure)
  • Improve body composition
  • Alleviate depression
  • Prevent cancers
  • Preserve memory
  • Preserve eye health
  • Reduce incidence of aggressive behavior
  • Reduce ADHD and ADD symptoms

When it comes to healthy fat, intake amount is important. People are often concerned about eating too much fat, but not getting enough fat may also be the underlying cause of health problems.

We need adequate fat to support metabolism, cell signaling, healthy body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients (such as vitamins A and D). Having enough fat will also help keep you feeling full between meals. So what the good doctor is saying is that we need healthy fats – to be healthy!

You can read more about Super Omega-3 in this article: 5 Fast Facts for Fish Oil.

You have been lied to.

Low fat diets stink. You aren’t getting the health benefits outlined above, but that is not all. Healthy fats cause satiety, or the feeling of being full longer, more than protein and certainly more than carbohydrates. You know it’s true. You can blast through 2 or 3 donuts and be hungry an hour later. Try eating a couple eggs and an avocado and see what happens – I can guarantee you will be fuller longer. Part of the reason is that it takes fat a lot longer to digest than carbohydrate, so it doesn’t empty from your stomach and travel through the digestive system as fast.

But won't all that fat go right to my waistline?

Au’ contraire, mon ami!

Eating fat does not “make you fat”. Eating excess of anything will cause it to be stored as excess energy (fat). And an argument can (and is) being made because it is easier to overeat carbohydrate than it is fat or protein, increasing your fat intake is a good nutrition strategy when looking for overall calorie reduction. It helps keep you full longer and also avoid the huge blood sugar crashes that can accompany carbohydrate intake, particularly from simple carbs.

Here’s a partial list of healthy fats that you should add to your eating plan:

  • Avocado
  • Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, herring, tuna, mackerel)
  • Macadamia
  • Nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Flax seed oil
  • Fish oil
  • Omega-3 eggs

Healthy fats. Every day. No excuses.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

I’m the Leader of My Pack

I often refer to myself as a mother duck with her chicks. My chicks are you, those that I coach either in nutrition or on the gym floor.

Like a mother duck, I lead the pack. I swim in the front. I walk in the front of the line. When some people walk in the front of the line, they want to be seen. They want the attention. They are there because they are the biggest, bad-est dude out there. If they were talking, they would be heard to say, “Watch out cuz here I come!” That’s not why I am up front.

I’m up front to show you the way. I’m leading those that have asked for a bit of help to get to their goals. That’s my job, I have the knowledge to help you get from here to there.

I’ve run into a mother duck with her chicks before. At the first sign of danger those chicks run for hiding. They hide under her wings. She is there to protect them. I am a mom by nature and a mom is a mom. I will protect those that are in my care at all costs. Please do not test me on this. Don’t mess with anyone in my pack. But that also means my little ducklings don’t get to pick on each other or themselves. Each person is unique. They have their own special qualities. I rarely hear adults belittling other adults. We’re just too cool for that. But tearing down our own selves is the easiest thing we can do. I won’t let you do that either. So while I will protect you with all my energy, I will use some of that energy to keep yourself from tearing down your own personhood.

Mother ducks swim up front. She is actually taking some of the wake off of her chicks by bracing them from the wind and waves. I want to do that for you. That is why often in my nutrition coaching I give you guidelines. I know these guidelines work. I’ve taken the edge off of your work by doing the swimming ahead of you.

But I am swimming. I am working too. I have to be out in the gym doing physical things, and I have to be in my kitchen getting good food for myself to eat. I’m still a duck that needs to eat to live.

Mother ducks are a great picture of myself to my coaching students. If you are swimming out there alone and need a bit of guidance, or someone to stay behind in the battles of life, or maybe just someone who’s been there and done that to follow. Check out some of the coaching services at The Grateful Plate.

I'm here for you.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Super Salad Dressings

Make one for dinner tonight!

Salad dressing are super easy to make. Since you don’t use large amounts, you don’t have to make it every day.

The easiest is to slice a lemon in wedges and squeeze one slice on your salad. Great flavor!

Or, you can try one of these more traditional salad dressings.

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (for a real garlic flavor – 2 garlic cloves, minced)

Combine all ingredients, shake together, and voilà!

If you have more time...

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 entire bulb of garlic (roast in the oven for an hour and cool, then squish the contents into your salad dressing container)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Mix everything together - super yummy!

Caesar Dressing

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine everything, shake well, and serve.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Food Journaling Tweaks

A food journal is a quick way to assess your current eating habits. It has been proven that keeping a record of what you eat on a regular basis leads to quicker fat loss and helps you keep it off. When you don’t journal, you don’t get an accurate picture of the quantity or quality of your nutrition. We are very good at fooling ourselves into thinking we eat less calories and have made better choices than we really do!

There are some common themes I have evaluated in food logs.

Here are my “Top 5 Tweaks” to help skyrocket your progress:

Tweak #1: Eat like you want your child to eat. Coffee is not breakfast. Two crackers for a meal is not a meal. If you have kids, take your own advice and sit down and eat some real food.

Tweak #2: Eat protein. It helps keep you full longer, it helps keep your blood sugar stable, and you are probably just not eating enough.

Tweak #3: Peanut butter is not an ideal source of protein. Yes, peanut butter has protein, but it comes at a high calorie cost. A serving of natural peanut butter (2 Tbsp) has 210 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of protein. That translates to about 144 calories from fat, 24 from carbs and 32 from protein. That means there are 4.5 times more calories from fat than protein – once again not ideal. I love peanut butter as much as the next, I just need to be careful not to depend on it!

Tweak #4: Where's the green? There is some serious vegetable-phobia out there in food log land. There were many times a 3 day food journal had nothing green on it at all! More veggies is a sure way to get that weight loss moving in the right direction.

Tweak #5: Late calories. If you must eat after dinner, default to more protein/veggies. Your body can use some more protein to repair while sleeping. That bowl of ice cream (or even fruit) will spike your blood sugar/insulin response right before bed – right when you don’t want it. Your body is not going to use that energy while you sleep, so it’s going to store it – ouch!

I bet you there is one simple change you can make this week.

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy


Calories, today it’s THE word in weight loss. When it comes to calories I picture in my mind these little white things called calories literally ‘burning’ off of my body and me becoming thinner by the second. I was wrong.

In 1824, Clement created the concept of the ‘Calorie’. He used it to measure steam energy. Now it’s, “Eat this many, burn that many.” I overhear women talking about calories like I overhear men talking about football. We are the most nutritionally educated country in the world yet considered the most obese. Hmmmm…. This makes me wonder.

Calories are simply a measurement. A number that we often focus on because we have been told if we eat more than we need…we gain weight. On the flipside if we use more than we eat and we lose weight.

I’ve worked with a lot of people. That experience has shown me that counting calories is one of the reasons America has become obese. But not in the conventional way most people think.

Let’s look at a real example…a very real example that every woman reading this can probably relate to…I will use ‘Sara’ as our illustration.

Sunday morning rolls around and Sara decides she is going on a diet. She tells her family and they quiver when they hear the ‘D’ word. They know the routine and what is about to occur (seriously ladies, notice when you say the ‘D’ word around your husband, he mysteriously has to work long hours that week). Sara wakes up Monday morning and decides she will eat no more than 1200 calories a day. She just saw an ‘expert’ on the Today Show who recommends 1200 calories a day… so this sounds like a great number. It also means she can eat 400 calories per meal. Sara is excited and determined that ‘this time will be different’. So she decides to ‘be strong’ and kick some caloric butt. She decides she is going to eat only 600 calories her first day! To get a headstart on this diet. She figures if she eats 600 calories when her plan is 1200 calories she will lose weight that much faster.

So the diet day begins. Sara nibbles on a carrot for breakfast. Then she eats a low calorie meatball for lunch, then one almond for a snack. Sara’s hungry but determined. Her family is avoiding her because they know what’s about to happen. By 3pm Sara is tired, hungry and she’s lost 3lbs. She’s already picked out her size 2 mini skirt and new heels.

For seven days in a row, Sara sticks to her plan. At night she adds up her calories consumed for the day and eats anything in site as long as it keeps her under 1200 calories. She does this for all week noticing she’s not losing any more weight.

Now Sara is real tired and her family is real scared. Sara wakes up on day 8 decides she’s just meant to be a size 12 and that she will try again next spring when some new rocket science diet is out on the market.

Next year, Sara does it again and the results are the same. Each year becomes harder. Each year she becomes a little heavier and little more frustrated. Then it happens. She gives up for good. She’s defeated and then the weight really begins to pile on. A few years later she is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Weight loss is no longer a concern, now it’s life or death.

Folks, this has occurred in America for the past 40 years. We focus on ‘calories’. The end result, we are calorie counting experts. We have done what we were told to do…count calories, eat low calorie, burn calories, avoid bad calories but eat good calories, etc. As I’ve heard said by a few old timers; “It ain’t workin’“.

Something to think about…Growing up in the 60’s, my mother NEVER said ‘Don’t’ eat that! It has too many calories’. We did not know what a calorie was in 1965 yet America was not obese. Japan does not count calories and yet they have no obesity issues. So simply put…calories don’t count. Say it again…”Calories don’t Count”.

There I said it. Label me a quack or a renegade. Calories fool people into believing if they focus on a number then they will lose or gain weight. I wish it were that simple but it’s not.

I do not believe in labeling anything good or bad in terms of food. However, there are foods I know that will help me or hinder me from making progress toward my goal. To make things more confusing Dean has different foods that hinder or stop his progress toward his goal. While learning more and more about health and nutrition we clued into our own bodies’ needs. It takes time. It actually is a work still in progress as we refine our plan and as we add more time to our lives (that was a nice way to say: we’re getting older and things change because of it).

I am all about eating real food, food that satisfies. I don’t want eating to be a chore or food to become a naughty word. One of the best tools I’ve used is ProCoach. I won’t say much more than it has tuned my thoughts and aligned them with my body’s needs. Its put my mind in the right place. I’m not sure if its right for you at this time, but there is only one way to find out. Check out ProCoach.

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy

Jash Browns

Rock star Jennifer from Epsom sent this recipe along to me and I love it! Its a great, healthier spin on regular hash browns and you still get the same crisp and crunch. Here is the recipe from Jennifer...

Jash Browns

  • Butter or ghee
  • Jicama, peeled and grated
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 eggs

Heat a dollop of butter or ghee in a skillet on medium high heat until it starts to brown. Add as much grated jicama as you want, spreading it out into a thin layer. Let the jicama fry uncovered so the moisture can escape. Fry for several minutes, flipping once in a while. As the jicama loses its moisture, it will start to get brown. When your jash browns have enough of a sear for your liking, season them liberally with salt and pepper and set them aside to keep warm.

Fry two eggs in some butter in your skillet, season them with salt & pepper, and serve them over the jashbrowns.

*Jennifer's notes: Very easy, I modified it from a cookbook called “Necessary Food”. Since the amount of jicama differs depending on the size, it’s hard to make an exact recipe. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to doing it. Like I said, very easy! I was surprised at how easily jicama shredded and how much there is in one small one! I shredded the whole jicama. Since I didn’t want to eat it all today, I froze the rest. I also added garlic salt to the jicama along with the salt and pepper before freezing. Jashbrowns are very interesting, with a crunchy texture and just a little hint of sweetness. I can’t wait to serve this again.

Three Rules for Eating on Vacation

Here are my three rules to easy eating while on vacation (thank you Michael Pollan for the fantastic ideas in your book “Food Rules”- great read for anyone!):

1. Eat foods that you can visualize in their raw state. If I’m not able to identify where a particular food came from, I’m going to avoid it. At restaurants that means avoiding foods covered in goop and sauces. Where does that cheese like substance come from anyway? Fried food? Not happening. I don’t know what is in the coating or what they fry it in (not to mention the fat and calories). That leaves me with very few choices, so I’ll probably starve, right? No way! Think of all the grilled items, vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs and more that I can have. There are thousands of varieties of vegetables and fruit alone. Open your mind and mouth to new possibilities!

2. Eat foods that spoil quickly. If a food like substance can stay on the shelf for years, it is probably very low in nutrients. If a rodent will not even go after it, do we really want to put it in our mouth?

3. Eat foods your grandmother (or great-grandmother?) would recognize. I love my grandmother; she was a wonderful cook. But I’m sure if she looked at a Go-Gurt, she’d have no idea what to do with it. What about Spam, Velveeta, or powdered drink mixes? She did her cooking with items readily found in her area, that she grew herself, or that my grandfather fished or hunted. She didn’t have a whole lot shipped from other countries, or items found out of season in her area. I’m going to imagine sitting at her table each time I eat.

So that’s my plan. I’m going to eat fresh foods that are easy to recognize (before and after they are cooked) that my grandmother would enjoy.

That's not so hard, is it?

Ask me how I did when I get back!

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy

We All Have Habits

There are things we do the same, every time we do them. We drive to work, put the toothpaste on the brush, and put the pillow under our head - the same way, every time.

When it comes to the way we eat, we have built habits as well. We like certain foods in certain ways. We like to eat at certain times. We plan and prepare our food or we don't. We have a set point at which we are full. We salt our food without tasting it first (guilty!). We may grab a glass of wine after dinner. We may eat dessert. These things are all habits.

Food has so much power over our lives. We have to eat to survive. But eating is also enjoyable. There are so many wonderful tastes, textures, colors and smells. The problem is when we let food overpower us and control us to the point our health suffers.

The good news is that habits can be built, and habits can be broken. The Grateful Plate is all about building habits that support good health. It is these habits that we turn into powerful skills.

There are replacements, however.

We replace poor habits with better ones. We control our food, we don't let it control us. We take one day at a time, doing specific things that will help us replace our poor nutrition habits with ones that will support our goals of losing fat, getting lean, and looking and feeling great.

Over the years we have been consistent with these habits. There is nothing magical here. We are making a conscious decision every meal to do what it takes to build good health habits.

Let's get started!

Here's a handy dandy chart to help you get pointed in the right direction in meal planning and preparation.

Quality Protein with Fantastic Carbohydrate Compliments

The possibilities are endless, so get out of the drive through, put on that chef's hat and Make It Happen!

To Your Best Health,
Coach Nancy

Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Dressing

This salad will get you ready for the warmer weather. It's the perfect dish for a summer barbecue. It's excellent with grilled shrimp or chicken, and you can also place this salad on top of lettuce greens.

Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Dressing

by Coach Nancy

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spread two-thirds of the watermelon on a serving platter. Top with red onion and mint, then season with pepper. Pour dressing over salad and garnish with remaining watermelon cubes.