When is it right to add a protein supplement?

Joshua Steckler, owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition recently shared in the Daily Herald’s Health and Fitness section that to ensure a variety of dietary nutrients, we recommend eating a combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Many clients come to us eating too many carbohydrates and not enough protein. Not that protein is more important than carbohydrates, or fat for that matter, but if you lack quality protein, you’ll have a hard time maintaining healthy body composition.

Protein is essential for preserving and building muscle, and its consumption helps reduce hunger while stabilizing blood sugar levels — all of which help you burn fat while supporting overall health.

We always preach the importance of building your diet on a foundation of natural and wholesome foods, especially protein-dense foods such as beef, chicken, fish, and eggs. Additionally, having a whole food alternative like a protein powder is a great option for a pre- and post-workout shake or convenient snack options.

So how much protein do you really need? The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that those individuals who are strength training regularly need 0.5 — 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. You may need more or less depending on your body composition and individual goals, but this is a good rule of thumb.

We recommend the following protein powder supplements if you aren’t getting enough protein from whole foods.

• Whey Protein Powder. Whey is a type of protein derived from dairy products. It contains all the essential amino acids our body must obtain from food, so it’s a top choice of many athletes or those wanting to maintain and build muscle. Whey should be avoided by those with lactose issues or those who may have an intolerance to dairy.

• Egg Protein Powder. Egg protein is generally a powdered version of egg whites. It contains all the essential amino acids and many vitamins and minerals, so it’s also a great source for muscle-building proteins. Egg protein is lactose-free, so it may be a good option for individuals who can’t do whey protein.

• Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein Powder. Collagen protein powder is made from the connective tissue, skin, and bones of animals. It might not sound appealing, but hydrolyzed collagen is similar to bone broth or gelatin used for cooking and it contains a substantial amount of protein. Collagen has a slightly different amino acid profile than whey or egg, but it can still help repair and build muscle, while supporting bones and connective tissue. A good-quality collagen supplement may be an option for someone with both dairy and egg allergies.

• Plant-based Protein Powders. Vegetarians as well as those wanting to get more plants in their diet may benefit from a plant-based protein supplement. A combination of rice, pea, and hemp protein will give you a dose of all the essential amino acids and adds the benefit of phytonutrients as well.

With any supplement, it’s important to understand that its safety and efficacy will be dependent on the ingredients. Is the source grass-fed or raised on factory farms? Are the animals treated with hormones or antibiotics? Were chemical pesticides or artificial sweeteners used? Was the protein powder heated during processing or chemically treated? These are all important questions that should be answered before you make your purchase.

So ensure a balanced diet by eating quality protein from whole foods often, and supplementing when needed.

Most kids rely on french fries as their vegetable

Recently, the Daily Herld Newspaper reported that most children go days without eating any greens, a new study reveals.

For 90 percent of kids, potatoes — in the form of french fries — are their only constant vegetable, the Daily Mail reports.

And more than half of babies aren’t getting any breast milk.

The bleak figures, reported in the journal Pediatrics, have been held up as concrete evidence that America needs to do more to improve children’s nutrition.

“We knew from previous studies that more work was needed to improve feeding habits in this age group,” said study co-author Gandarvaka Miles, a public health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We observed many of the same trends in our study: a substantial proportion of American infants are not breast-fed, vegetable consumption is lower than desired, and consumption of sweetened beverages and sugary snacks is prevalent.”

From 2005 to 2008 and again from 2009 to 2012, researchers surveyed parents about infant and toddler eating habits. For the new study, they compared data collected from a total of 2,359 participants.

With the older children in the study, researchers found toddlers were more likely to consume fried white potatoes than green vegetables.

Consumption of green veggies fell by half during the study to only about 8 percent of toddlers by the end.

5 Juices and Smoothies Your Kids Will Love

Guest Blogger Cathy White asks, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your kids ate all of their vegetables and fruits with a smile?” Getting picky eaters to consume the 5 daily recommended servings is not that easy.

As more families are adopting healthier lifestyles and eating habits, it can be frustrating when all your kids want to eat is junk food. If you are at your wits end with trying to find produce your children will eat—try juices and smoothies!

Even if they don’t like kale, you can make delicious treats that incorporate greens without them even knowing it. When you juice fruits with vegetables, the sweetness of the fruit masks any “green” taste. Your little ones get all of the vitamins, minerals, and probiotics in a luscious drink they will love.

They may even ask for more! Hopefully, they will share with their siblings. Plug in your juicer or blender and try some of these scrumptiously nutritious juices and smoothies:

  1. Froggy Power Juice

This gloriously green drink will have your kids hopping with energy! They will never guess the secret ingredient.


  • 1 cup of kale (wash and remove stalks first)
  • ½ of a peeled lemon (Myers are nice for this drink)
  • ¼ cup of your favorite mint (optional)
  • 2 whole apples (Try Granny Smith)
  • 1 small piece of peeled ginger (optional)


  • Following your manufacturer’s instructions, place ingredients one at a time into juicer.
  • Make sure that all juice is extracted.
  • Pour juice into a tall glass and stir until blended.
  • Serve immediately.

This recipe makes one 8 oz. serving. Repeat process to make more juice.

  1. Over The Rainbow Smoothie

You do not have to visit the Emerald City to enjoy these fruity concoctions. There’s no place like home to find a nutritious smoothie!


  • 2 small kiwi-cut into chunks
  • 1 small mango or papaya, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup fresh strawberries, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries, mashed
  • ½ cucumber, cut into chunks
  • Organic pineapple juice
  • Blender and 2 juice glasses


Prepare and wash each fruit, then cut into chunks. For now, leave the blueberries whole. Separate fruit junks on a cookie sheet and freeze for a couple of hours.

Put the strawberries in your blender and add a little pineapple juice until it makes a thick smoothie. Using a small spatula, fill the glasses about a quarter full. Next, make a smoothie from the blueberries and a little pineapple juice until it has a smoothie consistency.

Layer it over the strawberry smoothie. Repeat the process with the mango and the kiwi fruit/cucumber. Let the glasses sit in the freezer for a half hour to set. Enjoy!

  1. Sunshine Smoothie

Get the benefits and Vitamin A and C with this bright carrot/orange smoothie:


  • 6-8 fresh carrots-tops removed
  • 1 whole large orange
  • 1 small piece of fresh peeled ginger (optional)
  • Makes two glasses


  • Follow your juicer’s manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Juice the carrots, orange, and ginger-Pour into two glasses.
  • Serve immediately.
  1. Purple Passion Smoothie

Put all of the ingredients to this fabulous smoothie in individual freezer bags. Anytime you are ready to blend up a special treat, just grab a bag from the freezer and voila!


Each freezer bag of ingredients will make two servings:

  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup raspberries (or strawberries)
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 1 small banana (peeled)
  • ½ cup skim milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey (or another natural sweetener)
  • 2 tablespoons of old-fashioned oats (not the instant kind)

Make as many freezer bags as you need for the week. There is no need to thaw them.


  • Add frozen contents of bag to a blender and blend to a smooth consistency. Garnish with a dash of oats and fresh blueberries, if you wish. Serve immediately.

Morning Cocoa Bliss

Chocolate for breakfast? Of course—when it is part of this decadent smoothie! Only you know that it also contains heart-healthy avocado.


  • 2 squares of your favorite dark chocolate (grated)
  • 1 ripe avocado, scooped out
  • 1 teaspoon of honey or guava
  • 1 avocado – super-ripe, stone removed, scooped out
  • 1 tablespoon of flax or chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of old-fashioned oats (not the quick kind)
  • 2 cups of warm skim milk (or almond milk)


• Put all ingredients in blender one at a time, and blend until smooth. Slowly add the milk to the mixture. Pour into

What’s Cooking at MyPlate2Yours

Salmon with Mango Salsa

Lynn Dugan  at  MyPlate2Yours  shared that this 30-minute start-to-finish recipe looks and tastes like you ordered it at a fancy restaurant!

NUTRITION TIP:  Fish is a great source of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Health experts recognize that the US diet does not include enough omega-3. Since our bodies cannot produce these fatty acids, we need them in the foods we eat (other good sources include flaxseed, walnuts and soybeans). Salmon is rich in omega-3 and Salmon with Mango Salsa  is delicious!

(serves 4)


4, 6 ounce salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1/2 cup diced mango (1 small)

1/2 cup diced kiwi (2 whole)

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

  •  Mix honey, soy sauce, oil and pepper in a ziplock bag. Add fish. Marinade for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix salsa ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt, to taste.  Refrigerate.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high. Cook fish, 5 minutes and flip for an additional 5 minutes, until fish is cooked through.
  •  Serve salmon with salsa on top of each filet. Enjoy!

Cut out sugar

Assurance shared that the average American sugar intake is about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Since it is the #1 food additive in the foods we consume, it can often be overlooked. However, cutting down on sugar in your diet may be one of the biggest ways you can improve your health and manage your weight.

Here are steps you can take to cut down on the amount of sugar you intake:

1. Cut it out gradually: Research has shown that sugar is addictive. Use a step-by-step process so your body can adapt to the change.

2. Ask yourself: When do you consume sugar the most? Once you know what to cut down, make a plan. For example, if you normally put sugar in your coffee, gradually reduce the amount you usually add over the next couple weeks.

3. Try cooking: By cooking your own food, you will greatly reduce the amount of sugar you intake. Processed foods are full of hidden sugars and artificial sweeteners even if they are marked as “low-fat” or “no fat” foods.

4. Sleeping helps: Studies have found a relationship between sleep deprivation and junk food cravings. By getting enough sleep, you will set yourself up to avoid those sugar cravings and stay on track with your diet.

Ways to Eat More Veggies for People Who Hate Vegetables

Child and fresh vegetables

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDNis a board certified sports dietitian located in Orlando, Florida where she specializes in intuitive and mindful eating. She is the author of the food and nutrition blog, Love & Zest where she shares {mostly} healthy recipes with simple ingredients that are meant for real life.

Kristina shared that you know how great vegetables are for you. You’ve heard all about the fiber that keeps your cardiovascular and digestive systems healthy. You know they’re a great source of antioxidants, which help prevent disease from the inside out. And you know they’re an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, all of which are necessary for a balanced diet. Blah blah blah … but knowing the benefits isn’t making you like them any more. You’ve accepted it — you hate vegetables and there’s nothing you can do to change that fact. WRONG! Here are five ways to slowly but surely work more veggies into your diet and maybe even learn to love them:


Raw vegetables aren’t nearly as satisfying as their cooked counterparts. Raw Brussels sprouts can be pretty unappealing to plenty of palates. But slice them, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 425°F for 30 minutes and you’ve achieved a total transformation. They’ve gone from bitter to sweet. Even humble romaine lettuce, often served on a sandwich or in a salad, gets new life when cut in half lengthwise, drizzled with oil and balsamic vinegar and popped it on the grill for 5-10 minutes. If you prefer vegetables bear no resemblance to their natural form, pureeing is the way to go. Roast butternut squash in the oven, scoop the insides into a blender and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth to make a delicious winter squash soup or better yet … stir the purée into mac-n-cheese.


Most food needs seasoning. Rosemary and lemon are a match made in seasoning heaven, and are the perfect combo to add to potatoes, carrots and onions. For those of you who like a little heat, use chili powder, cumin and paprika for a warm flavor. Toss diced sweet potatoes with a blend of these spices and then sauté to make a breakfast hash, or coat an ear of corn with the mixture and throw it on the grill. And don’t forget cheese — it can more or less mask other flavors. Try cheddar cheese melted over steamed broccoli or grated Parmesan atop grilled asparagus.


With a little creativity, veggies can be hidden in some of your favorite dishes. Start by choosing those with a subtle flavor that are similar in color to what you’re making. An easy trick is to add finely chopped onions, carrots and red bell peppers to tomato sauce, or roasted and pureed squash to a cream sauce on a pasta dish. As your tolerance increases, you can get more daring. Grated zucchini and carrots can be mixed into muffins, while beets can be stirred into chocolate cake, brownie batter or blended into a smoothie with citrus and banana. Speaking of smoothies, try blending spinach into your next creation — it may add a green tint to your drink, but bananas and berries easily cover up its mild flavor. Read more

Misty Copeland’s Pasta-Free Zoodles Primavera

My Fitness Pal shared that in her book, “Ballerina Body,” Misty Copeland, the first African-American female principal dancer for American Ballet Theater, knows that you don’t have to sacrifice taste for health. Living her passion, she approaches her daily meals just like she approaches dancing. In the chapter entitled “Meal Choreography,” she breaks down meal-planning suggestions for 21 days. The noodles in this recipe, made entirely of zucchini, are just one way Misty manages to pack ample servings of veggies into her meals everyday.


This dish allows you to satisfy your pasta cravings but substitutes delicious vegetables — zucchini, spinach and broccoli — for the pasta. With the addition of Italian seasoning, garlic and Parmesan cheese, I don’t think you’ll miss the spaghetti!


  • 4 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 cups spinach, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian spices (typically a medley of basil, oregano, rosemary, onion powder and garlic powder — available in a jar)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Special equipment: Spiralizer


To create the “zoodles,” insert the zucchini into the spiralizer, one at a time, much like you’d sharpen a pencil. (Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions.) Set aside the vegetable noodles.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and bell pepper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on medium, stirring frequently, for 5–7 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender.

Add the spiralized zucchini and dried Italian spices. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Top with the cheese and serve.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 4 |  Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe  

Per serving: Calories: 232; Total Fat: 19g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 11g; Cholesterol: 11mg; Sodium: 225mg; Carbohydrate: 11g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 8g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 715mg; Iron: 7%; Vitamin A: 41%; Vitamin C: 93%; Calcium: 20%

So Your Teenager is Going Vegetarian

Close-up of pretty girl eating fresh vegetable salad

Lindsay Hutton shared her thoughts in Green Living about how to come to terms with the decision that your teen plans to go vegan—and how keep them healthy. She empathized that your little darling has emerged into the rollicking years of adolescence. The hormones are raging, piercings and odd haircuts materialize, and her ears are forever glued to a cell phone or an iPod. For better and for worse, your teenager is beginning to become an autonomous, free-thinking individual.

Then, just as you think you couldn’t find one more thing to fret over, she announces she is going vegan or vegetarian. Shiver.

“I didn’t know what to do,” says Patty, a Hamilton-based musician and mother of a 14-year-old daughter who went veggie four years ago. “Holly announced that she didn’t want to eat animals anymore, that it was cruel and bad for the environment.” Read more

Red Flags to Red Meat

College of DuPage Nursing Student  Zach Striplin writes that in most suburbs in America, burgers and hot dogs are readily available. In my neighborhood alone, I can count 10 fast food joints within a 5-minute car ride. America is the largest consumer of red meat, and more likely than not, if you have had a cheeseburger in the last week, according to U.S Department of Agriculture the average American eats about 71 pounds of red meat a year.

Although, certain red meats, such as beef, pork and goat can be cheaper and even considered delicious, they are not the healthiest choices to have on your plate. Eating red meat regularly causes an increased incidence of hypertension, stroke, diabetes and certain forms of cancer such as colon cancer, but I am sure most of you have heard that before.

A study that was conducted by a team at Harvard School of Public Health observed a correlation between red meat consumption and increased mortality rates over the course of 36 years in approximately 120,000 individuals. The NIH states, “one additional serving per day of unprocessed red meat over the course of the study raised the risk of total mortality by 13%. An extra serving of processed red meat (such as bacon, hotdogs, sausage and salami) raised the risk by 20%”.

Now, if you are frequent red meat eater there is time for change and it is not necessary and nearly impossible to cut out red meat from your diet altogether. Red meat is a great source of protein and iron in our diet but protein should be a relatively smaller portion of our plates compared to fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy.

An 8oz. steak has roughly 78 grams of protein and the recommended daily value is around 56 grams! One average sized steak puts a person over the daily threshold of what is recommended. Healthier alternatives or methods should be used to reduce the risk of potential health problems attributed to red meat. One method is reduction. Some alternatives for protein to replace your red meat intake would include poultry (chicken or turkey), eggs, peanuts or peanut butter and fish. Beef can also be purchased, but it is best to purchase lean meat rather than fat. Lastly, although bacon and many processed red meats are delicious and trendy, if not avoided, they should be eaten rarely or treated like a sugary snack.

There is nothing more American then going to Cubs game in the summer and having a ballpark frank, but instead lets make the conscious decision to settle with the peanuts.

Rooted in Benefits: Ginger

College of DuPage Nursing Student Ellis Quinn asks you to think of the last meal you made. Did the ingredients include ginger? The answer is most likely no, like many other Americans. Ginger is not a commonly used spice in the American diet.

Zingiber officinale, better known of as ginger, is a widely used spice in many Southern Asian countries. Cooking with ginger can add a distinguished spicy sweet flavor to many types of food. It is often used for baked goods in America, but it can be added to many other dishes such as chicken stir fry or fresh salads.

Why would you want to add ginger into your foods though? Ginger doesn’t only add delicious flavor to meals, but it also can have many health benefits. Ginger has been used in for thousand of years in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions. The Chinese would use ginger for multiple health reasons. They believed it to aid in digestion, as well as help treat upset stomach, nausea, and flatulence. Besides digestive health, ginger was used to help treat arthritis, painful menstruation periods, and even the common cold. (Better Nutrition)

The research done on the health benefits of ginger is very slim as with many herbal medicines. That being said, many health care providers see patients who report beneficial outcomes from drinking and eating ginger. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there is evidence that indicates ginger may help relieve pregnancy-related and chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting.

You do not have to be an amazing chef to add ginger into your diet. The simplest way for you to increase your intake of ginger would be to drink it. Ginger tea is very easy to prepare.

Ginger Tea

  1. Peel and finely dice a knuckle size piece of ginger
  2. Place in a strainer inside a mug
  3. Add boiling hot water to mug
  4. Let steep for 5-8 minutes
  5. Add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten


Ginger is a relatively safe spice to add to any foods. Certain people may have some mild side effects that cause gastric upset. Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider to check for interactions with any medications you may be taking.


Ginger [Fact sheet]. (2016, September). Retrieved March 26, 2017, from National

Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website:



Smith, M. D. (2014, October). Medicinal foods: Garlic and ginger. Better

Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.betternutrition.com/