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Eat Like a Greek, Feel Like a God!

Practical Nutrition would like to introduce Joe Stapleton! 

Hey there everyone! My name is Joe Stapleton. I’ve been working with Practical Nutrition for a couple of weeks now and am exited to be able to contribute my first blog post! So to keep things official, I’ll start with a little about me: I’m a Master’s Student and RD to be (both to be completed in June, yippee!) with a B.S. in Nutritional Science. I’m also a NSCA certified personal trainer and love absolutely everything about health and wellness! My love of nutrition and fitness spawned from my own personal experiences in the Marine Corps, in which I learned through the rigors of military life (sometimes the hard way) just how important it is to keep our bodies functioning at an optimal level, because you never know just what life is going throw at you!

Enough about me though. Without further ado, here is some information that will hopefully help YOUR journey to optimal health  and wellness…enjoy!

One of the diets generating a lot of buzz around both the scientific and the foodie communities lately is the Mediterranean diet. Don’t let the word diet fool you though, this is no fad. The Mediterranean diet sprang from the observation that mimicking the typical diet consumed in the Mediterranean area led to a reduction in incidence of heart disease and obesity, despite the macros of the diet being high in fat and accepting of moderate alcohol (red wine in particular). Essentially, the diet consists of eating mostly plant-based foods, with the majority of grains being whole. While high in fat, the fat comes mostly from oils and nuts. Fish and poultry are emphasized over red meat, and herbs and spices are used much more significantly to flavor dishes rather than salt. The ‘Mediterranean diet Pyramid’ is shown below to give a visual representation of the relative proportions.

The one thing about this diet that we would tweak here at Practical Nutrition though would be the significance of protein. As longtime readers/clients already know, over here at Practical Nutrition we like to skew our intake a little more in the direction of lean, organically sourced (if possible) protein. Increasing the proportion of lean protein in the diet has shown benefits for the athletic population (more efficient muscle recovery), the elderly (staving off sarcopenia and bone loss), and those looking to lose or maintain their weight (through extending the period of satiety before feeling hungry again). So we love the idea of the Mediterranean diet, and the data looks great regarding its effect on many chronic diseases, but don’t forget to keep up your intake of lean protein! 

So to celebrate this fantastically simple way of looking our food, today we’re providing a recipe for a delicious chicken, green bean, corn, and farro salad with goat cheese. With the relative proportions of ingredients, the use of the ancient Tuscan grain farro, and the inclusion of goat cheese, this makes for a decidedly Mediterranean dish. Just a little aside on farro by the way: this grain reportedly was what kept the Roman Legion’s bellies full during their long marches whilst conquering southern Europe (Spartan Race fuel, anyone?), is quick to cook, and each serving provides both 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, wow! It is wheat derived, but has decidedly less gluten than other wheat products, so those that are gluten conscious shouldn’t worry (for those readers that are gluten-free or Celiac, simply swap out the farro in the recipe for brown rice, still delicious!).


Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad with Goat Cheese
Recipe Type: Lunch/dinner
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Joe Stapleton
Serves: serves 4
  • 1/2 cup semi-pearled farro
  • 12 oz skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 12 oz green beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups yellow corn kernals
  • 3/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Boil farro in a medium saucepan until just tender (about 20 minutes). Drain, set aside to cool.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in skillet until golden brown, roughly 8 minutes each side. Allow to cool and cut into 3/4 inch cubes.
  3. Cook green beans in a saucepan of boiling water until crisp-tender (about 4 minutes). Drain and rinse.
  4. Mix chicken, farro, and green beans in a large bowl. Add corn and green onions.,
  5. Combine 2 tbsp oil, marjoram, and sea salt in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, and mustard. Pour over salad, toss to coat.
  6. Sprinkle with goat cheese just prior to serving. (this recipe is great chilled or room temperature!)
  7. To really capture that Mediterranean vibe, serve with red wine. Cheers!


PN News Segment on Better Connecticut: Healthy Summer Condiments

Hello everyone!

It’s finally summer and the weather is beautiful! This means a lot of fun weekends spent outdoors and a lot of cookouts! If you have been eating the Practical Nutrition way throughout the year, focusing on eating foods in their most natural form in a balanced state throughout the day, then you may feel that common summer condiments cannot be included in your daily diet. This is true for many of the common brands found at the grocery store that contain inflammatory ingredients such as vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup, however, you can look out for good ingredients and even make your own at home with 5 ingredients or less! Ana and I discussed healthy summer condiments on Better Connecticut. Watch the 5 minute segment to learn more about what ingredients to avoid and healthy alternatives you can make yourself at home. And don’t forget to scroll down for 3 marinade/dressing recipes with 3-5 ingredients each!

WFSB 3 Connecticut


Take Away Points Video:

  • When reading a nutrition label for condiments, dressings, and marinades avoid the following: vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar/cane sugar, artificial colors/flavors/additives. These ingredients all contribute to inflammation, sugar cravings, weight gain, headaches, and fatigue.
  • When trying to find a healthy option for condiments/dressings/marinades look for the following beneficial ingredients: olive oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, organic honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, lemon juice, balsamic/apple cider vinegar, and herbs.


Maple Pepper Marinade
Recipe Type: Marinade
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Total time:
  • 1/4 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add your favorite protein: chicken, fish, or beef. This recipe has been tested on all types of chicken, fish and beef and everything tastes great! Get creative and add more ingredients if you want or keep it simple and use this easy marinade to flavor your meals all summer long!


Homemade Creamy Ranch Dressing
Recipe Type: Dressing
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Total time:
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Dill
  • 1 Tbsp Apple Cider or White Vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend for 30 seconds.
  2. Store in glass air tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week .


Homemade Balsamic Dressing
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Total time:
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Italian Seasonings
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend for 30-60 seconds until mixture has emulsified.
  2. Store in a glass, air tight container on the counter or in fridge for up to 2 weeks.


Classic Cobb Salad (with a PN twist!)

Cobb salads are delicious and full of high protein, healthy ingredients! However, they are one of those foods you don’t really want to order at a restaurant. It’s hard to know that you’re getting  healthfully sourced ingredients, such an unprocessed, uncured bacon from humanely raised pigs, a dressing made without any vegetable/canola oil or fake mayo, and free range, organic eggs and chicken! Finding a restaurant that values the integrity of all of the main ingredients of a Cobb salad is tough- that’s why I love making these at home! The dressing is my favorite part…check out the recipe and let us know what you think!


Classic Cobb Salad (with a PN twist!)
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Cook time:
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Serves: 2
  • 4 cups organic mixed greens
  • 4 slices all natural, uncured bacon (cooked crispy and crumbled into bits)
  • 2 organic hardboiled eggs (sliced into pieces)
  • 1 medium organic roma tomato
  • 1 medium organic chicken breast (you will need 1 TBLS coconut oil, 2 TBLS coconut flour, 4 TBLS coconut flakes, and 1 egg if you’re not using leftover chicken)
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 carrots (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 4 TBLS fresh dill (finely chopped)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  1. First cook your chicken breast, or slice some leftover chicken you have into strips. I like to cut mine into strips, batter it with 1 egg and 2 TBLS coconut flour and then sauté lightly in 1/2 TBLS coconut oil in a pan in coconut oil for about 4-5 minutes, or until brown. I then place the strips on a baking sheet on the other 1/2 TBLS coconut oil and top with coconut flakes and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees (no longer because you don’t want the chicken to dry out). If you don’t like coconut chicken you can do this same process with olive oil and sea salt/pepper.
  2. Next, place the mixed greens on your plates and top with all of your vegetables, crumbled bacon, and sliced egg. I like to do it in rows, but you can do different style of layer depending on your visual preference.
  3. Lastly, to make the dressing simply mix all of the remaining ingredients together until well combined. Add a touch more oil and lemon juice if you like it thinner. When the chicken is done, place the strips on your salad while still warm, put the dressing on the side in a small bowl, and enjoy!
  4. PN RX (per salad): 4 free veggies, 1.5 protein, 3 fats

Homemade Zesty Herb Dressing



Store bought dressings often contain inflammatory vegetable oils that can harm our bodies. It is very difficult to find dressings actually made with olive oil and that do not have offending ingredients. Many people will just use oil and vinegar but that can get boring. Making your own dressing is VERY easy! You just need olive oil, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, some herbs and a blender. Using a blender allows the mixture to emulsify and not separate.

Homemade dressings are also a great way to incorporate more unfiltered apple cider vinegar into your diet. To learn more about apple cider vinegar check out our blog post on it here.


Homemade Zesty Herb Dressing
Recipe Type: Dressing
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Total time:
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Oregano, dried
  • 2 tsp Parsley, dried
  • 1 tsp Thyme, dried
  • 2 tsp Basil, dried
  • 1/4 tsp Local Maple Syrup or Stevia
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for 2 minutes.
  2. Store in a glass container. Does not need to be refrigerated.
Serving size: 1 Tbsp Calories: 63 Fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 0 Protein: 0

Apple Cider Vinegar: Why It’s Good and How to Use It!

photo (15)

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) isn’t as “far out” as it sounds- it’s simply made by taking the juice of fresh apples and allowing the process of fermentation (by adding bacteria and yeast) to turn the sugar from the apple juice into alcohol. After a bit more fermentation time the alcohol is turned into an acidic, sour tasting vinegar full of beneficial health properties (letting nature take its course always has healthy results!)  It’s something that is inexpensive, easy to find, and can make a huge difference in overall health (a somewhat rare combination of attributes!). Its unique flavor can add some variety to using the usual balsamic or red wine vinegar in a dish or salad dressing. Including about 2 TBLS of ACV per day can benefit your body in many ways:

  • Assists our body to detox (much needed after the holidays!)
  • Prevents indigestion
  • Helps reduce sugar/carb cravings
  • May help improve a bacterial related tummy ache (or reduce discomfort after eating a large meal!)
  • Helps to combat fatigue (rich in minerals our body may be missing such as magnesium and potassium)
  • Makes your hair shine and teeth whiter- use ~1 TBLS of ACV in cold water a few times a week after shampooing and then rinse your mouth with a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar- who would have thought?!

There are many ways to use ACV- drink 1 TBLS in warm water with lemon and honey as a detoxifying way to start the day, or use on vegetables or salads for a nutrient dense condiment. I always buy mine raw and organic, I like the brand Eden Organics, but any high quality brand will do and last for a while! The dressing in the recipe below is one of my favorites, but definitely experiment with different herbs, 1 part olive oil, and 3 parts ACV for a delicious and health conscious dressing that will keep in the fridge for weeks!

Until next time, stay well, eat well, and have a beautiful week!

Lemon Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing!
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 3 Parts Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Part Olive Oil
  • 3 TBLS Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped
  • Sea Salt to Taste
  • Juice of 1 Fresh Lemon
  1. Whisk all ingredients together and store in fridge for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy on salads, cooked vegetables, or anything else you would need a delicious dressing for!
** PN Rx: 2 tsp oil=1 fat



Pomegranate Salad!

Sweet, salty, crunchy, savory, refreshing, and disease preventing all in one…how can you go wrong?! The health benefits of pomegranates are endless! As we know they are full of antioxidants– they are one of the highest foods on the ORAC list. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity…the effectiveness of a food to fight off free radicals in your body, helping to keep your cells healthy and happy. Www.oracvalues.com will show you other foods to consume more of to boost antioxidant action in your body. Pomegranates are also are full of fiber, immune boosting vitamins and minerals, hydration, and help to curb sugar cravings. I had an extra pomegranate laying around from a lecture antioxidants I did last week, so figured I would get creative with a colorful and flavorful salad. After a bit of scrounging around in the kitchen to make something out of nothing, heres what I came up with. Not bad for on a whim…this will definitely be a staple for me as a beautiful side salad around the holidays.

Pomegranate Salad!
Recipe Type: Side Salad
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • Seeds and juice of 1 pomegranate (split in half and carefully scrape out seeds, seperating seeds from the fibrous rind)
  • 4 cups organic baby spinach
  • 2 TBLS sesame oil
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 4 TBLS toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 TBLS raw honey
  • 2 TBLS crushed walnuts
  1. Separate out 2 TBLS of pomegranate seeds for garnish. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, putting dry ingredients in first and topping with oils and honey. Gently shake until spinach is well coated and sesame seeds are evenly dispersed. Dish out onto 4 plates and garnish with extra pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!
  2. PN Rx: 1 cup of salad= 2 free veggies and 2 fats

Get Out Of Your Salad Rut!

fall salad

If you’re not careful salads can get boring really quick. Sadly, this causes you to miss out on their tastiness and health benefits…salads  are undeniably one of the healthiest meal choices there are (assuming you make a “clean” salad, aka not a leaning tower of creamy dressing/cheese/bacon/croutons). What helps me not get sick of having a salad almost everyday for lunch is making sure I have “go to” seasonal ingredients for my salads. Try some of these this week to get your green lunch’s rolling again!

  • Apple Slices- I always forget that adding an in season fruit to a salad gives it a nice twist- apples add a sweet and refreshing crunch
  • Sweet Potato Croutons- make some extra of these, you will thank me later…preheat your oven to 400*. Thinly slice 2 raw sweet potatoes into rounds; in a separate bowl mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp sea salt. Lightly coat the sweet potato in the oil mixture and spread onto a pan. Bake for about 25 minutes until crispy. Layer these on your salad to add a crispy and savory bite to your greens
  • Pumpkin Dressing! Click Here for the recipe! You can make a batch of this goodness and keep it in the fridge for a few days- it really ties everything in a fall salad together…it will all make sense after you try this dressing!
  • Cinnamon- Don’t forget that a small amount of a spice or herb can go a long way! Dust off a fall salad with a pinch of cinnamon and enjoy its blood sugar stabilizing qualities. Consider even trying a pinch of turmeric, nutmeg, thyme, basil, or rosemary to switch things up even more!
  • Pumpkin Seeds- Be careful not to throw away the “guts” of your jack o lanterns this year- save the seeds and toss them in olive oil and sea salt; put them in a preheated oven at 375* for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle them on your salad for a boost of minerals, fiber, and antioxidants too!
  • Avocado- Well, its not really a “fall food” but I can’t leave out my favorite “out of your salad rut” ingredient! No matter what avocados take a salad to a whole new level adding a boost of healthy fat that leaves your full and satisfied for hours! Slice them, dice them, put them in whole…however you can get them into the salad go for it!

The more you satisfy your taste buds with different flavors and textures of whole, unprocessed foods, the less you will crave foods that are damaging to your body (processed sugar, refined carbohydrates, packaged foods, sugary drinks, etc).

I took myself out of my “salad rut”  this saturday afternoon…the combination of the flavors, textures, and colors of the salad definitely did not let me down! The second I ate this salad my already elevated mood from this beautiful fall weekend was increased even more knowing the high quality fuel I was putting into my body. We enjoyed the salad with a side of sauteed almonds/scallions/sweet potatoes mixed into wild rice, and a glass of home brewed chai spice tea!

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As always, stay well, eat well, and have a beautiful week! 

Ana Elisabeth

Everyday Green Lunch!

Everyday Green Lunch!

Recipe Type: Lunch
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
Its always good to have a “go to” salad. Keep your salads flavorful and exciting by trying new herbs, veggies, and spices each time, but use this recipe as a salad “foundation” to get you started each time.
  • 2-3 cups Organic Mixed Greens (I like Olivias brand “Mixed Greens with Herbs”
  • 1 cup of [url href=”http://practicalnutrition.com/on-tv/food-prep-for-weight-loss/” target=”_blank”]Roasted Veggies [/url]
  • 1 hardboiled egg or 4 oz of other [url href=”http://practicalnutrition.com/on-tv/food-prep-for-weight-loss/” target=”_blank”]Lean Protein[/url]
  • 1 Tbsp. Basic Dressing
  • 1/4 cup Cooked Quinoa
  1. Start with a bed of organic mixed greens. Add 1 cup of roasted veggies and top with a hardboiled egg. Drizzle with dressing, and add sea salt and pepper to taste. Top with ¼ cup of quinoa. Jazz up with other veggies, herbs, and seasonings as desired (the picture shown has brussel sprouts, onions, and a tomato/basil seasoning mix!)<a href=”http://practicalnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/green-lunch.jpg” data-mce-href=”http://practicalnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/green-lunch.jpg”><img class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-910″ title=”green lunch” src=”http://practicalnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/green-lunch-300×225.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ data-mce-src=”http://practicalnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/green-lunch-300×225.jpg”></a><a href=”http://practicalnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/green-lunch.jpg” data-mce-href=”http://practicalnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/green-lunch.jpg”><br> </a>