Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Tips to Add More Greens into Your Smoothies


We believe smoothies should be easy-peasy, here in the H3 Healthy Kitchen! So we decided to share this  fool-proof formula for making a tasty nutrient-packed smoothie. Mix and match the ingredients within the categories and construct your perfect smoothie and prevent any smoothie bordem. (This formula makes 1-16 ounce smoothie.)


 Greens 1 cup of Liquid (unsweetened)  1 ½ Cups of Ripe  Fresh/Frozen Fruit  Extras
Spinach Coconut Water Banana  1-1/2 scoop Whey protein powder
Arugula Cold Tea Avocado  ½ tablespoon Flax seeds, ground
Romaine Almond Milk Mango  ½ tablespoon Chia seeds
Kale Water Apple  1 tablespoon Nut butter
Collard Greens Soy Milk Grapes 2 tablespoons Oats
Chard Coffee Cherries
Dandelion Greens Skim Milk Figs


  • First, blend greens and liquid in blender. (This trick will eliminate random green chunks in your drink.)
  • Next, add fruits to blender and blend until smooth.
  • Enjoy your new smoothie creation!

Share your smoothie combinations with us!



All You Need to Know about Caffeine

Caffeine Awareness Month

March is Caffeine Awareness Month, it is sponsored by the Caffeine Awareness Alliance, a group started in 2003 by Marina Kushner, an anti-caffeine activist. She is the author of a book entitled Life without Caffeine, where she writes about the dangers of caffeine consumption. But how bad is caffeine and does it really deserve its own month?

cup of coffee, caffeine

Just the facts.

First, a little background. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and has been used for thousands of years to ward off drowsiness and increase alertness. According to, caffeine is found in over 60 plants. Beverages containing caffeine like coffee and tea are by far the leading sources of caffeine but it is also found in soft drinks, energy drinks and over the counter pain relievers, cold medications and weight loss products.

Ninety percent of North Americans consume caffeine daily.

Since we get most of our caffeine from coffee or tea let’s take a look at the impact those beverages have on your health. Concerns about coffee go all the back to the 1500’s, reported that in 1511 the mayor of Mecca shut down coffeehouses because it’s patrons were more likely to gamble and “engage in criminally unorthodox sexual situations.” Ironically in the 1600’s, it was thought to cause impotence. In the 1800’s, some thought it was as bad as morphine, cocaine, nicotine or strychnine and could cause blindness. And as late as the 1970’s and 80’s, it was thought that coffee could be a major contributor to heart attacks.

Is a cup of joe or a spot of tea that bad?

Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy a cup or 2 of java a day the latest research is far more encouraging. In a study published in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation on November 16, 2015, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health reported that people who drink about 3 to 5 cups of either decaffeinated or caffeinated coffee had a lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes and suicide. Senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology commented, “this study provides further evidence that moderate consumption of coffee may confer health benefits in terms of reducing premature death due to several diseases.”

When it comes to tea, the news might even be better. Jeffery Bloomberg, director of the Antioxidant Research Center at Tufts’ University commented in 2013 that “If there is anything that can confidently be communicated to the public, it’s the strong association of tea drinking with a lower risk of chronic disease, particularly heart disease, and the demonstration of that benefit through clinical trial.” Tufts’ University Health and Nutrition Letter also reports that in addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, tea consumption may also help prevent: osteoporosis, improve digestion, lower the risk of some cancers and reduce the risk of functional disability.

One other persistent myth is that caffeine consumption can lead to dehydration. In fact, caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea contribute to meeting your hydration needs.

tea, caffeine

How much is enough?

While most of the concerns about caffeine consumption have been alleviated, there are some concerns associated with heavy consumption. The consensus is to limit your consumption to no more than 400 mg. per day, the equivalent of 4 8-ounce cups of coffee per day or 8 8-ounce cups of tea. Beyond that level, caffeine might contribute to feeling jittery, nervousness, and irritability. Because of its stimulating effect, it can contribute to insomnia if consumed within 6 hours of bed time and some highly sensitive individuals might need to cut it out for up to 14 hours prior to turning off the lights. The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women and nursing moms limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg per day. Adolescents should not exceed 100 mg/day, younger children should avoid caffeinated beverages. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teenagers eliminate high caffeine “energy drinks”. Finally, while it is rarely used this way, it is possible to purchase pure powdered caffeine on the internet. Pure caffeine powder has the equivalent of 28 cups of coffee in one teaspoon. It is a powerful stimulant in small amounts and has been implicated in the death of two young men. The FDA advises consumers to avoid pure powdered caffeine.

At this point, I think that the research is clear, while there are some concerns with exposure to high levels of caffeine and some groups of people have to be more aware or their intake than others, the major sources of caffeine in our diets, coffee and tea have a far more positive than negative effect on our health and wellbeing.

No more CAA.

Interestingly, the Associated Press reported in August 2014 that the  Caffeine Awareness Association, the group that sponsored Caffeine Awareness month, was ordered to disband when its founder plead guilty of operating a community service scam. Those needing to work off court ordered community service requirements could purchase an e-book about caffeine and could satisfy their requirement by answering a multiple choice quiz. Upon completing the quiz, the association offered letters certifying community service completion, charging fees based on the number of hours needed to be served.



To have Dairy or Not to have Dairy?

by Hilton Head Health Program Manager Felicia Hackett

milk, calcium, vitamin d

The Big Debate

The Healthy Eating Plate created by health experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School recommend only 1-2 servings of dairy per day. They even go as far as saying the word “limit” dairy. Their experts have found that more dairy is not necessarily good, that high intakes are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. Harvard says drink water and advocates for dairy at every meal. Regardless of which group you agree or disagree with, we can all agree that stong bones are integral to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Whether you have a love or hate relationship with milk, you can easily vary your Vitamin D and Calcium sources with healthy alternatives.

Whole Food Sources of Calcium

  • Calcium is found in dark leafy greens like collard greens and kale as well as broccoli.
  • Calcium is also fortified in soy, rice, and almond milk.
  • Calcium is found in are beans and tofu.

Non-Food Sources

  • Vitamin D by way of sun exposure builds strong bones.
  • If you live in an area with limited sun exposure, consider taking a multi-vitamin with 1,000 IU of Vitamin D.
  • Regular weight bearing exercises whether from resistance training or walking helps build strong bones.

A diet rich in non-starchy vegetables and unsweetened plant based milk alternatives are great ways to get adequate calcium without any added sugars or saturated fat. A healthy lifestyle with diet a diet rich in plants and regular exercise will help build and maintain strong bones.



3 Times You Should Hold the Olive Oil

Hilton Head Health Program Director, Felicia Hackett, RD

Olive oil has become more or less a table oil. We use it on many different foods to enhance that savory flavor. For cooking it can be used in many ways like roasting and sautéing. Nutrition wise, olive oil is fat and it should be used in moderation since it is an energy dense food. A little bit can go a long way.


Here at Hilton Head Health, we use 1/4 teaspoon to 1 cup of vegetables. Crazy! But it works. Times you should not use olive oil in your cooking are:

  • Skip out on adding oil in with the cooking of pasta. Also, when pasta is cooked and you want to keep the pasta from clumping, use extra pasta sauce instead of olive oil
  • Use yellow or Dijon mustard, a 0 calorie condiment, instead of oils when making sandwiches or subs at home
  • Pass on the olive oil dip and bread as an appetizer and instead fill up on more nutrient dense foods that are served in your meal like non-starchy vegetables

Olive oil makes food more palatable. Our goal in weight loss and management is to reach satiety. It definitely helps make food tasty but we do have to be cognizant of the amount we are using.




Foods that Optimize Your Fitness Performance

Whether you are a fitness novice or a pro, it’s great to know which foods can enhance your athletic performance and which foods can hinder performance. H3 Healthy Kitchen Chef and avid Crossfitter Karla Williams shares her list of foods that optimize fitness performance and foods that just don’t. Don’t be stingy with this list, be sure to share these tips with your workout buddies!

fitness, food for fitness

Best foods:

  • Nuts and Seeds

Wait a minute… how am I going to get swole eating like a bird?

Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients and omega 3 fatty acids which will fuel your recovery after an intense workout. Nuts and seeds are calorically dense, making them the perfect on the go snacks or add-in to a satisfying smoothie.

Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc…

  • Carbohydrates

I do Crossfit, should I have carbs? Yes! You belong together!

Whole grains are complex carbohydrates, meaning they digest slowly in your body allowing your body to absorb several nutrients. Simple carbohydrates; (candy, white rice, white bread) have been stripped of its nutrients during processing leaving your body with little nutrients to absorb. When carbohydrates are digested they are absorbed as glycogen that will replenish depleted muscular tissue after any extreme workout. The correct carbohydrate sources will provide athletes with ongoing energy and stamina to get every repetition they deserve. Don’t go all caveman on us, athletes need carbohydrates! Portion control carbohydrates and mostly consume whole grains, fruits, and vegetable carbohydrate sources.

Quinoa, barley, sweet potatoes, beets, beans, farro, etc…

  • Healthy Proteins  


No, bacon is not a healthy protein. Despite what that ripped athlete at your gym tells you, it’s not the best protein source to over consume. Protein is used for muscle repair and construction. If you are looking to add some pounds to your one rep max back squat, be sure you are consuming an adequate amount of protein. Our bodies need protein to build muscle meaning more strength.

Focus on consuming healthy proteins; salmon, eggs, chicken, pork tenderloin, beans, and quinoa for example.

Worst Foods

  • Alcohol

Nothing will slow you down quite like alcohol, it has lasting negative effects on fitness training and performance. Alcohol has no nutritional value, meaning it is just empty calories. Also, it has been shown to hinder recovery and disrupt sleep, two very important factors in any training program!

  • Processed Foods, i.e., granola bars, pastries, crackers

Processed foods are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. The sugar will increase your waistline making those pull-ups, push-ups, and handstand push-ups even more difficult. In addition, these processed treats do not provide the nutrient density that other whole foods deliver, leaving your body short of necessary nutrients to aid in recovery.

Need a recipe redo to replace an unhealthy favorites? Email us at and we can give you a healthy recipe alternative.



Guide to Smarter Snacking

by Hilton Head Health Registered Dietitian Felicia Hackett

Choosing delicious, healthy snacks can be very tricky in the “toxic” environment we live in. Plus, snack boredom can lead to choosing options that are both convenient and comforting – foods higher in added salt, sodium, and fat. H3 Registered Dietitian Felicia Hackett has some useful tips for snack choices and even some options you can find in your local grocery store or online.

healthy snacks, snack ideas, snacks

  1. You want to choose whole fruits and vegetables, first. If you pack them in your bag, eat them. They are great on-the-go foods.
  2. Any dried fruit is a good option. Since the water is taken out, you are left with energy dense pieces of fruit. Be wary of portion size. No sugar added dried fruit like: dried mango, plums (prunes), and grapes (raisins) are great fruit that dry into something tasty.
  3. The squeezeable apple sauce bags are great for on-the-go, too. A squeeze bag that has no added sugar would be best.
  4. No matter what the package says chips and pretzels are junk food. They add calories with no nutrition. Kale chips and fruit chips are the best options if you are in the mood for a healthy, crispy snack.
  5. Crackers are great vehicles for energy dense foods like cheese and jams. Nut Thins and Back to Nature are good brands to pick up.
  6. Unsalted raw or roasted nuts and seeds have the perfect crunch. Chia seeds and flaxseed are a great sources of Omega 3. Those seeds can be placed on oatmeal or in your favorite ancient grains.
  7.  Snack bars should act as a food that is eaten on occasion. KIND bars are a good choice because they are made from fruit and nuts. The binder is usually a sugar but on occasion this bar is a good choice for a mid-morning or midday pick me up.
  8. Trail Mix and snack mix. Dried fruit and nuts are nutrient dense but also energy dense. It’s beneficial for you to buy individual packs so that you have a cue to stop- when the bag is finished. Like the Orchard Valley Cranberry Almond Cashew Individual packs, for example.

Have snack or nutrition questions? Comment with your questions or email your questions to and our Nutrition experts will answer your question.



5 Healthy Tips for Your Super Bowl Party

Everyone is gearing up for Super Bowl 50! Whether you’re a devoted fan, love the game or  just love to socialize during the game, we’ve got 5 simple tips to help you stay mindful and make healthier choices without missing a second of the action.


Bring something healthy and simple.

That way you have at least one healthier option to turn to during the party. H3 Fitness Coach, Chris Varano makes a low fat spinach dip with some Greek yogurt and vegetable soup mix and spinach. It’s that simple and very yummy.

And if preparing something is a ‘foul on the play’ in your mind, H3 Registered Dietician Felicia Hackett suggests buying store bought hummus with pre-cut vegetable tray. Hummus is always a hit and it’s always great to sneak in as many veggies as you can.

Be a Mindful Host at Half-Time

Make smaller portions of dips and put out smaller portions of chips while putting out bigger platters of fruits and vegetables.

Edamame hummus

Be sure to put water bottles next to the beer and other beverages so everyone sees there’s water available. You can even hand out/offer a water bottle to every guest when they are getting settled. Our RD Felicia Hackett pulls out these healthy tricks to help guests make healthier decisions while still allowing them to enjoy a little indulgence.

Turn Commercial Breaks into Fit Breaks

To stay active without missing a play or a hilarious commercial, Fitness Coach David Chesworth chooses squat jumps as his go-to fitness move. From a seated position on their chairs/sofas they would stand up and clap their hands – those who want high impact could add a jump after they stand. They could do 10 squat jumps for each commercial that airs or do 10 every time their team scores.

We’ve given you the game plan and now, it’s time to use it. Enjoy Super Bowl 50, everyone.

We’d love to know what you’re doing to stay on track during your Super Bowl Party. Share your plans with us in the comments!



What myths do people believe are true when it comes to nutrition?

by Hilton Head Health Registered Dietitian, Felicia Hackett

“What is good for me and what is not? How many calories does this have? I heard this and my friend told me that. I saw on TV that…”


Nutrition confusion is common. We are bombarded with clever nutrient marketing. When we are unable to make sense of it we tend to turn to our old habits, habits that are not conducive to our health and lowering our risk for chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, and Cancer. Keep reading to demystify some common nutrition pitfalls.

Bananas give you belly fat.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial for weight loss and maintenance. Considering the highly packaged, processed food culture we live in, villainizing a piece of fruit is not logical. Foods that are packed with added sugar, salt, and fat are what create more belly fat than a banana. A 6” banana is packed with nutrients, providing not only fiber but a good source of potassium and Vitamin C.

One key recommendation from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for a healthy eating pattern includes incorporating a variety of fruits, especially whole fruits. Bottom line is that if you like bananas, eat bananas

Vegetarian and Vegan diets lack adequate amounts of protein.

When we think protein we tend to think of animal sources- meat, yogurt, and cheese. There are many other foods that provide an abundance of protein. The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. What are pulses? Pulses are crops like legumes, peas, beans, and chickpeas. Not only are they a good source of protein but they pack a punch with fiber. For example, a 1/2 cup of kidney beans packs 8g of protein and 6g of fiber. Other benefits of increasing pulse intake are that they are economically accessible and fosters sustainable agriculture. So, yes! Vegetarians and vegans eat adequate amounts of protein plus reap all the additional benefits of food cost and helping the earth.

Juicing is great!

Juicing is not a long term solution for maintaining weight loss. You may be getting vitamins and phytochemicals in your juice but you are lacking fiber. Fiber is beneficial for GI health, lowering LDL cholesterol and on top of that has anti-inflammatory effects. Juicing makes you miss out on an important part of our diet. If you do like drinking your fruits and vegetables, try a blender so that you are getting all the benefits of the whole food.


Back to the Basics

Get back to basics in 2016 and focus on foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans. Build your nutrition not on nutrients but on the colorful foods you see in the produce section. Focus first on eating plant-based foods and by default you will increase your fiber intake while decreasing added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.  Set an intention to make each and every eating occasion count. It does not take long before your body starts reacting positively to the changes you make. You may not be seeing it on the scale right away but internally your body is going to be thanking you.



7 Tricks to Ordering Take Out

by Hilton Head Health Registered Dietitian Felicia Hackett

When eating convenience foods we have to remember that those are the foods that tend to lack vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Because of that you have to purposefully choose foods that are going to help with weight loss and weight maintenance but more importantly living well.

restaurant, healthy food,

Look for entrees that have a vegetable in the name.

  • Eggplant parmesan, broccoli and chicken.

Ask for double vegetables.

  • Red curry with double vegetable or shrimp lo mein with double vegetables.

Have one starch.

  • Skip the side of bread and just have the rice or potatoes that come with the meal. Mexican takeout? Pass on the tortilla chips and salsa and have 3 small corn or flour tortilla tacos with a side salad. Instead of queso choose a small order of guac to go with your yummy tacos. Both are energy dense foods but guac has healthy fats and vitamins that cheese does not.

When you get a choice between a baguette, chips, or an apple,

Choose the apple and have it for dessert and if you are full from the meal stick it in your bag or car for a quick pick me up later in the day.

At ice cream shops have the smallest size they offer.

  • Sounds crazy but the “baby” size or dog friendly size would be a great portion.

strawberry ice cream, healthier option, small order

Take the food out of the takeout box and place it on your 9” plate.

  • Half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables. If you have a slice of pizza, size down the slice so that it does not overhang on the plate and then make sure there is room to fill half of your plate with those non-starchy vegetables.

Mini-size fast food options.

  • Stopping at fast food, have a kid size meal and if you feel hungry order a side salad

It is easier said than done but like anything else that we succeed in we have to practice. Convenience, quick-serve, and fast foods are in the world we live in. You have to make it work for you or it’s going to work you. Practice, practice, practice choosing better and soon enough it will become habit.



To Diet or not to Diet on Christmas

Hilton Head Health Registered Dietitian, Felicia Hackett

Christmas cookie,

The food is made with love and holiday cheer. Family and friends have finally arrived. Throughout the house, there are homemade sugar cookies and gingerbread men that are perfectly or not so perfectly frosted, tasty dill dip in a bowl made of rye bread, peppermint candy canes, yummy cheese and crackers, and red and green foiled candies. For dinner, the buffet is set with an attractive basted turkey or honey glazed ham, grandma’s stuffing, classic green bean casserole, buttered mashed potatoes, and candied yams. After dinner, the whipped heavy cream topping is placed next to the pecan and pumpkin pie signaling that dessert is ready.

How does that sound for a Christmas day spread?

Pause for a moment and think what Christmas means to you and your family. For me, it is about breaking bread; having a friendly and engaging meal in a comfortable, inviting environment with the people you hold dearly to your heart.

“Food for thought: have we been so engrained in our tradition that breaking bread has now become breaking habits, nutrition habits in this case?”

Intuitively, food that is familiar is food that we like.

Pump the breaks on holiday foods like the ones listed above and begin shifting your mindset to more nourishing foods. Experts agree that wholesome, healthful foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds are linked to positive health outcomes. This Christmas nourish yourself and choose not to diet. If we are in the dieting mentality we hold feelings of guilt and regret for enjoying foods that we have, over the years of dieting, labeled “bad”.

Feelings like these only damper the holiday spirit.

To Diet is the practice of eating food in a regulated and supervised fashion to decrease, maintain, or increase body weight. To Nourish is to provide food necessary for growth, health, and good condition. In contrast to dieting,  if we practice having a nourishing mentality we are expressing feelings of satisfaction and contentment. To keep on track this December, ask yourself a simple question before you eat, Is this food nourishing?

  • Create a menu that highlights steamed, baked, or sautéed vegetables with fresh herbs.
  • Decrease the amount of added sugars in your day by using half the sugar the recipe calls for in candied yams and like foods. And instead of honey glazed ham, try smoked ham; or just like salad dressing have the glaze on the side.
  • Add whole grains to the menu by making a whole wheat bread stuffing, a recipe right from our blog.
  • Cut down on dessert options, because having variety of desserts quickly becomes a tasting of the variety of desserts.

This Christmas, give yourself a gift by tossing out the dieting mentality and embracing the concept of “to nourish”.



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