How I Started My Nutrition Private Practice

How I Started My Nutrition Private Practice

Hi there! I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you are interested in starting your own nutrition private practice. The thought alone is exciting, but the extensive research and preparation that goes into starting your own business (and properly) is no joke, costly, and downright overwhelming. I am not here to sugar coat things, nor will I deter you from taking this route. I am simply providing you with the steps and resources I used to get started in the hopes of helping a fellow peer out. You can take it from here, and you best bet you’ll have my support and encouragement along the way too. 😉 Please keep in mind that I am not a business pro, so all of the information below are things I came across on the interweb.

1.Decide on your business structure: a sole proprietorship vs LLC.

A sole proprietorship is any business where the owner is fully liable for their business. The business does not have to be registered by the state, and you are responsible for all facets (including absorbing business taxes along with personal ones). An LLC stands for Limited Liability Company, which partially protects the owner and their personal assets should bankruptcy occur. In addition, you are officially recognized as a business by your state, and taxes are filed separately from your personal ones. You can learn more about these frameworks here.

2. Reserve a business name or file for your sole proprietorship or LLC.

You can simply reserve a business name through your Secretary of State’s Office or file for a sole proprietorship or LLC here. To be honest, coming up with a business name was the most challenging part for me! Whichever you decide, I recommend doing more research to do determine which business framework is best for you, your business, your goals, and your situation. I personally filed for an LLC because I wanted to be officially recognized as a business from the get go, but this is a bit pricey up front. Filing took 2 1/2 weeks, but it can take up upwards of 4-6 weeks. This waiting period is good to be aware of since you want to wait for filing to be approved before taking on paying clients (for payment tracking and tax purposes).

3. Protect yourself with health professional insurance.

This component is also pricey, especially upfront, but you can also pay monthly with interest. Getting insured was an important and crucial step for me to protect myself as a health professional. After 4 years of working towards my credential, I refuse to put myself in any situation that someone can take it away from me. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to jeopardize your license either. You never know, so be smart and get insurance! I was set up via phone with HPSO.

4. Decide on a HIPPA-compliant platform if you plan on virtually counseling.

After weighing the pro’s and con’s of a few online platforms, I landed on Practice Better as a user friendly portal to communicate with my clients on and store their personal health information (PHI). Video chat is an option on here, so I didn’t have to pay extra for Zoom’s Healthcare Plan.

5. Set up a checking business account to properly track your earnings, expenses, and overall income.

I set my business account up through Bank of America, and then I linked that account to Stripe so I had a payment processor on Practice Better for clients to pay through.

6. Gather legal client forms and contracts (usually provided when you register your business) to have future clients sign before working together.

GovDoc provided these for me, but I also created a contract for clients to sign stating they would be obligated to pay the entire fee they signed up for, and prior to sessions. In addition, I created a 10-page comprehensive new client form on jotform.com.

7. Determine how you will track your finances.

I will be using Quickbooks to properly organize my income and have records for tax purposes. My brother-in-law (who is both an accountant and lawyer) and other business owners I’ve spoken with say this is the go-to service for this- as user-friendly as it gets.

8. Figure out how you are going to gain clients and market yourself.

I was already on Instagram and under the name Feed.Me.Happy on my WordPress blog here. While I was never consistent with posting due to school, my internship, and life in general, I still had a presence and reach to promote to. Figure out how you want to market yourself, and aim at being consistent! Streamlining your messaging and areas of specialties can also help attract your ideal clientele.

Okay, friends. That’s all I have for now. I hope this brief overview on how I started my very new business helped a bit. If you have further questions, I recommend doing your own research or consulting with a business coach or professional, even a lawyer for some parts.

Thank you for your understanding in me providing information this way. My time and energy is precious to me, especially with 3 jobs now, so it was easier to streamline this info here. Take care, and good luck if you choose to pursue this entrepreneurial route! And speaking of, join the Nutrition Entrepreneurs (NE) DPG group through the Academy for more valuable content and resources too!

Clinicals: Week 5

Clinicals: Week 5

I’m posting this a little later than I normally would because girlfriend needed a break from thinking about the hospital for a sec. I cried this past week…twice. I’m not sharing this for sympathy, but more of a heads up…You see, I have heard that interns cry at any given point during their clinical rotation. Whether it’s harsh preceptors, the environment, the pressure, stress, or all of the above- it seems to get you at some point. I stayed strong until week 5. I think I held out this long because I love the hospital and dietitian team I work with. What got me to crack was the pressure of trying to execute charting when I’m still learning how to chart certain things. It’s frustrating being a type A, perfectionist who cannot write a note without a correction, but that’s the learning process!

I realize these moments of pressure, stress, and being uncomfortable/unsure are catalysts for growth, so I’m embracing them. I tried my best to suppress my tears, but my sweet preceptor noticed I was being quiet on Wednesday and asked if I was okay. We all know too well that when we’re asked that question when already on the verge of tears, the floodgates open (and that’s just what happened). Luckily and thankfully, she waited until we were alone in the office. She heard me out and listened to what was plaguing me, and I swallowed my pride and moved on with the day, which included presenting RIGHT AFTER balling my eyes out lol.

I presented on this article titled the Association of DHA Concentration in Human Breast Milk with Maternal Diet and Use of Supplements: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Data from the Japanese Human Milk Study Cohort. Check it out if you’re interested. I plan on presenting my findings in an Instagram Live this upcoming Sunday at 3pm CST. This is the handout I created to showcase the content of breastmilk and how it varies based on time of feed (beginning vs end), etc.

So Wednesday’s cry happened, I presented, and I thought I’d move on with my head held high with 2 more days to go before Christmas break. Nope. Friday I teared up again after I had multiple corrections on my notes. PEERS, repeat after me. “IT IS OKAY IF I MAKE MISTAKES IN MY INTERNSHIP. THIS IS A LEARNING PROCESS AND THIS IS THE TIME TO MISTAKES AND LEARN FROM THEM”. Give yourself grace in knowing that mistakes are how we learn! I will also say that all dietitians have their own charting/note-taking styles, so be patient in knowing that you may have to adjust accordingly without the expectation of being able to mind read how to match your next dietitian’s notes. This can be very annoying, but stay patient with this.

Aside from me crying, things worth mentioning were my cases with hyperemesis gravidarum and my pt who had an ileostomy. My pt with hyperemesis was young female who was newly pregnant (1 month) and was experiencing hypemesis (severe and frequent vomiting). She was dehydrated, depleted in sodium, and could not keep any food or water down, so she was a candidate for TPN. This wasn’t the only interesting part. The addition of cannabis use and suspected cannabis hyperemesis syndrome was also at play and could have been a factor of her chronic emesis.

The ileostomy pt was very interesting. He was a senior with current rectal cancer. He had his colon removed and an ileostomy (stoma, or hole, made through his abdomen into the ileum portion of his small intestine). He showed me his ileostomy bag filled with his excrements, so that was interesting. Surprisingly enough, these things don’t make me squeamish. I educated him on how to proceed with his diet post-op, including avoiding carbonated beverages, focusing on extra water and electrolytes, and slowly increasing fiber starting at 5-10g. These simple guidelines will help reduce stress on his GI tract while adjusting to his new norm of digestion and excretion. His water and electrolyte needs increased because the colon was removed, where most water and electrolytes are normally reabsorbed.

A little less than half my patients were PUIs or COVID+, so that was nice to see less cases for now…Swedish also started vaccinating on Friday! Heres the room set-up for vaccine screenings.

To end the week, the director of our department came by like Santa with gifts for all of us. This was very sweet of her to think of everyone, especially being a single mom with 4 kids! Impressive in my book. The rest of my learnings was first-hand, in-person experience, which I’m sorry, but real life experience cannot be replaced in the clinical context. I highly recommend getting most of your clinical hours done in person if possible. You’ll get way more out of it, even if it is more stressful.

And here are the terms and abbreviations I learned this week.

Terms

  • Spondylosis: degenerative and age-related spine osteoporosis
  • Capsulotomy: eye surgery with incision made on capsule on lens
  • High output ileostomy: fecal matter and excrements exceed >1500ml post-op ileostomy. This makes pt at-risk for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  • myeloma: cancerous plasma cells that accumulate in the bone marrow

Abbreviations

  • AAA: abdominal aortic aneurysm

*Notice the list getting shorter! 🙂

What questions or comments do you have? 5 weeks left of clinical until I complete my supervised practicum hours and head to Big Sky, MT to study in a winter wonderland!

Clinicals: Week 3

3 weeks down. 7 weeks to go! This week’s triumphs revolved around still improving with Swedish’s EMR system, further educating myself on refeeding syndrome and nutrition therapy for enteral and parenteral nutrition, and staying calm amid the increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations. I also plan on sharing my inspiration to learn a new language (or at least advance to conversational Spanish), some clinical attire I recommend (with the links to these items), and I’ll wrap up with more terms and abbreviations I picked up this week.

Okay, so EMR systems and charting can be extensive. I learned the basics pretty quickly in the first 2 weeks, but advancing to detailed charting is a little trickier. It takes time, patience, and proper navigation. What I mean by this is that you have to know where to look to retrieve pertinent information to determine the best clinical course of action for that patient. There are probably 15-20 main tabs to choose from, but then those tabs branch into past history and sub-tabs. 🤪 It’s a lot, but the advice I have for you is to be as attentive as possible when being trained. Remain patient, and simply do the best you can when trying to tackle this for the first several times. Give yourself grace. You’re learning, after all, and you won’t know how to execute charting perfectly at first.

As many of you know, knowledge is power. This is especially true in the nutrition and dietetics field. Studies are constantly being published, and this means we need to keep up with the latest evidence-based research. I’m lucky enough to have preceptors that supply me with applicable studies. If you’re interested, here are the ones I read this week.

Nutrition Therapy & Critical Illness: Practical Guidelines for the ICU

ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery): A Review

I also read 3 articles on enteral nutrition (EN) and watched an inservice webinar on parenteral nutrition (PN), which was very interesting (especially with adaptations for COVID patients). You see, COVID patients usually require BiPap, a pressurized oxygen mask used to force the delivery of oxygen into the lungs. With this positive pressure, comes an increased risk for aspiration. Therefore, EN might not be feasible or recommended when a COVID pt requires continuous Bipap. In addition, COVID pmts have a lower threshold for PN due to increased risk of infection. This puts medical professionals in a tough spot. Intermittent Bipap with EN is the goal, should PO (oral) intake not be an option. Remember, we always want our patients to eat orally first if possible, then continue to use the gut with EN if that’s not possible. TPN is the last resort, but it’s necessary in some patients.

Speaking of COVID, we (hospital staff) were aware that it would probably take about 2 weeks to see the aftermath of Thanksgiving get togethers. The load at the beginning of the week seemed pretty consistent with how it’s been the last 2 weeks, but Wed-Fri started increasing day by day. By Friday, the ICU floor was at capacity and we received an email that other floors would see an overflow of patients and COVID+ cases. This was evident in the workload the dietitian had that even bleed to us interns. The team was stressed, but not nearly as stressed as what we witnessed not he floors among the nurses and doctors all suited up in full-on PPE wear (gowns, gloves, double masks *surgical + N95*, and face shields). The energy was palpable. I teared up once on Thursday and once on Friday.

I’m not sharing this for you to pity me. I’m sharing to be transparent that this is exactly what’s going on in hospitals right now. it’s real, just as they report it and you hear on the news and from medical personnel. I watched Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday. It was the 1st episode of this most recent season about COVID. It depicted EXACTLY how it’s like in the hospital right now, so if you want a visual, watch that episode. I say this not to scare you either. I’m actually not scared, just sad. I’m sad for patients fighting for and losing their lives. I’m sad they have to do this alone. I’m sad for the family members that can’t be with them. I’m sad for the medical staff that are so stressed and overwhelmed but remain dedicated to saving lives and doing the best they can. I hope this wave ends soon.

On a lighter note, I witnessed my preceptor speak conversational Spanish to several patients. This re-inspired me to pick up Spanish as my second language. I would love to utilize this skill in both my professional and personal life, as I find it important to be able to communicate in various ways with others. I got to use the translation service too to communicate with a Japanese patient. That was fun! I received important information from him that I would have otherwise not known to improve his intake for MNT and recovery.

Okay! So I purchased these stretchy yoga-like (but not quite) pants that look like business pants. OMG they are SO comfortable! I’ll link both pair below. Very affordable too.

The grey, patterned pants above can be found here.

And then I purchased black ones with pockets, found here.

I’ve been alternating shoes, between booties, my Sperry boots, and these Sketcher’s glitter sneaks. Love them all, but the last two are the most comfortable for being on your feet.

Last but not least, here are the terms and abbreviations I learned this week that may be helpful for you to learn or add to your vocabulary in preparation for clinicals.

Terminology

  • stoma: opening in the abdomen
  • ileus: the inability for the intestine to contract (can lead to obstruction)
  • midline PN is peripheral, not a central PICC (confusing, right?)
  • trophic feed: progressive, incremental increases to ease into feeding and maintenance to avoid referring and overfeeding while achieving tolerance and goal

Abbreviations

  • SBO: small bowel obstruction
  • PE: pulmonary embolism
  • TTP: thrombotic thrombocytopenia purport
  • HFpEF: heart failure with preserved ejection fraction
  • TIA: transient ischaemic attack
  • DVT: deep vein thrombosis
  • PCI: percutaneous coronary intervention
  • CP: community pneumonia
  • NST: nutrition support team
  • SVT: supraventricular tachycardia
  • BNP: brain natriuretic peptide
  • PICS: post-intensive care syndrome
  • IMN: immunonutrition
  • OA: osteoarthritis
  • OSA: obstructive sleep apnea

Did this help? Let me know! Hopefully I can play catch up with my Feed Me Happy and Fuel Her Up content soon. I have a plan for 2021. 🙂 Stay tuned!

Cranberry Apple Chutney

Cranberry Apple Chutney

Cranberry sauce- people love it or hate it.. I personally do not like the overly sweet goop you find at the store, but that’s just me. I grew up with my family making cranberry relish, which is basically minced fresh cranberries, orange peels, and sugar. I adjusted this recipe to use less sugar over the years, and even substituted the cane sugar with honey (still sugar btw, just a different taste). I knew there was an opportunity to really elevate this side dish, so I took advantage this year to brainstorm on what that could be and look like. I came to the conclusion that cranberry chutney would offer complex flavors with less sugar while also remaining simple to whip up. It also highlights a cultural staple from India, but obviously utilizes different fruits, spices, etc. It’s always fun to infuse traditional American dishes with other ethnic foods. 🙂

Here’s the recipe for those interested in trying it out this holiday season!

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Serving size: 1/3 cup Serves: 4 (Adjust ingredient measurements accordingly to serve more people)

Ingredients

  • 1 small shallot or 1/2 med-large
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 green apples
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 2 tsp ACV (apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water (you can start with 1/2 and add more later if you need it)
  • 2 Tbsp grated orange rind

Directions

  1. Mince shallot. Add 1/2 Tbsp olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté for 2 minutes.
  2. Add whole fresh cranberries and diced green apples.
  3. Add all spices, honey, orange juice, ACV, and water.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until most of the water evaporates and a sauce like consistency is formed.
  5. Cool before serving, which may be done the day of or stored in the refrigerator and served cold at a later time. It’s really personal preference.
  6. Upon serving, grate 2 Tbsp fresh orange peel/rind on top.

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Protein Pumpkin Mug Cake

Protein Pumpkin Mug Cake

This recipe can be used as a snack, post-workout meal, or dessert. It contains fat, protein and carbs and surprisingly contains no added sugars. 🤯 Although, if you like sweeter things, I recommend adding 2 tsp maple syrup.

Dry Ingredients
🔸1/4 cup almond flour
🔸1 scoop vanilla protein powder
🔸1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking soda
🔸1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
🔸pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients
🔸1/8 cup whole fat Greek yogurt
(organic and grass-fed if possible, but not required)
🔸1/4 cup pumpkin puree
🔸1/8 tsp vanilla
🔸Optional: 2 tsp maple syrup for sweetness

Directions
1. Use a 10oz coffee mug.
2. Add dry ingredients, and mix well.
3. Add wet ingredients. Mix extra well, checking bottom of mug for hidden dry ingredients that haven’t been incorporated yet.
4. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stick knife in center. If no batter comes off, it’s done. If it does, microwave for 30 more seconds.

Top with Greek yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream and sprinkle with pumpkin spice. Eat up, mug cup!

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

This is my all-time favorite fall recipe, as it’s a twist on a classic and serves as delicious comfort food. I used this original recipe from Larissa Another Day blog and put my own twist on it (along with J.P.’s influence). I’ve been making it every fall, at least 2-3 times per season, for the last 6 years now. The pumpkin puree and spices are very subtle, so they don’t alter the traditional chili flavor profile too much. If anything, they ADD creaminess and warmth to the dish. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Servings: 4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 70 minutes

Total time: 75 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, goat cheese (or another variety), chopped jalapeños, cilantro, green onions

Instructions

  1. Warm a large stock pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, followed by the chopped yellow onion. Toss to coat and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey and spices. Cook for 6 more minutes, or until turkey is nearly cooked (but not all the way). Occasionally break up and stir.
  3. Add halved grape tomatoes (or can of diced tomatoes). Cook for 2 minutes, stirring as needed.
  4. Add the bone broth, kidney beans, pumpkin puree, and hot sauce. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil then simmer, covered, for 60 minutes.
  5. Serve 1 cup with toppings of choice (goat cheese is incredible!), then sprinkle with black pepper.
  6. Cozy up, put on a fall flick, and enjoy every bite!

Let me know what you think please! I value your feedback on my work and recipes, as I want to grow and adapt as needed. Thank you for the follow and read!

All my best, ❤ Danielle

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

You know those meals that just taste like the season you’re in? Well, I know this dish doesn’t contain the popular kids at the moment (apples or pumpkins), but this Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash absolutely oozes autumnal flavors! The cranberries, sage and maple infuses the quinoa mixture that you then stuff the roasted acorn squash with- just heavenly! Did I mention I added cumin spiced ground turkey as a protein? Oh ya! This is optional, of course. I will definitely be making this again before fall is over, and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do!

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (any color- I used tricolor)
  • 1/4 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Fresh sage (about 10 leaves)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp vegan chicken-less seasoning from TJs (or a blend of sea salt, onion and garlic powder, turmeric, celery seed, ginger powder, and pepper)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with oil.. Cut the very ends of each squash, but not too deep. This is meant to stabilize the squash to sit upright in the oven. Continue by cutting the squash in half, parallel to the cut you just made. Scoop out the middle with seeds- enough to stuff but not too much so you have enough squash to dig into!
  2. Brush the squash liberally with olive oil, then season with a few pinches of salt and grinds of black pepper.
  3. Roast for 40 minutes, or until a fork easily breaks the meat.
  4. While that’s cooking, bring a medium sized pot with 2 3/4 cups water to a boil. Rinse 1 cup quinoa then add to boiling water. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or whatever the package instructions reads. Once done, drain in colander and transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Warm 1 large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil. When warmed, add the sliced onions. Cook for 3-4 minute before adding the ground turkey, followed by the cumin, chicken-less seasoning (or alternative), and cinnamon. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 minutes (or when turkey is nearly cooked but not completely), stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the sliced (chiffonade) sage, cranberries and garlic. Let cook for 2-3 minutes longer.
  7. Add this turkey mixture in the quinoa, along with 2 tsp maple syrup. Mix well.
  8. When the acorn squash is done. Remove from the oven. Stuff each squash with quinoa mix. Crumble feta on top of each before serving (I also added a few pieces of fresh sage for an elevated kick!), and you’ve got yourself an amazing fall dish!

*NOTE* Acorn squash vary in size, and the room you have for the quinoa mixture also depends on the hole you scooped. If the well is smaller then you’d like, add some quinoa mixture on the side for more bites! Omgosh it’s soooo good. Bon Appetit!

Caramel Apple Muffins

Caramel Apple Muffins

Caramel apples are so nostalgic for me, as I’m sure they are for many of you. As a kid, I remember the air start to cool. When that happened, those caramel apples in the plastic containers would start lining the produce stands at the grocery store. Man, I loved those things- with peanuts and without.

Well, it’s fall again, and just because we’re no longer those kids begging our parents for that caramel treat, you can get whip up these delicious muffins that deliver the same flavor profile. And guess what? They are healthy! These babies contain only natural sugars provided by the dates and apples in them. There are a few prep steps, so I hope you don’t mind and love these fall babes as much as I do!

Yields: 12

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed medjool dates, about 13-15 depending not the size (instructions on how to make the date syrup below, or you can buy date syrup instead!)
  • 1/4 cup date water (if you use date syrup, just add regular ‘ole water)
  • 1/4 cup ghee (or butter, but I used ghee, and YUM!)
  • 3 eggs

Other

  • 2 medium apples
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. If using walnuts, toast for 10 minutes then let cool.
  2. Next, remove the pits from the medjool dates. Boil water and pour over dates to soak for 20 minutes.
  3. While those are soaking, add the oats to a blender or food processor and pulse until a flour forms (should be only 15-30 seconds).
  4. Add all of the dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk until mixed well.
  5. Add the eggs to a separate smaller bowl and whisk. Add the ghee and 1/4 cup of the water the dates were soaking in. Stir then pour on top the dry ingredients.
  6. Use a rubber spatula to mix until all of the dry ingredients combine with the wet ingredients (double check the bottom, where the extra flour tends to hide).
  7. If the dates are ready, blend only the dates in a blender. Add 1/8 cup of the date water and blend until it forms a caramel.
  8. Put aside. Heat up a sauté pan over medium heat . Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, add diced (small) apples, and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Stir, cover and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally or as needed.
  9. Now you can add the walnuts (if you used), apples, and date caramel to the mix! Fold in well with rubber spatula- the date is where the sweetness comes from, so you want it to be evenly distributed.
  10. Oil or line the muffin tin. Use 1/3 measuring cup to add batter in wells. Level out the top of each and bake for 30 minutes.
  11. Cool for 15 minutes, and you have yourself some caramel apple muffins!

Fun tip! You can just make the date caramel to dip apples in as a healthy alternative snack snack!

Dry ingredients

Dry Ingredients

Apple Pie Granola

Apple Pie Granola

I developed a version of this recipe in my undergrad program as an exercise to share with children and their parents. What better time than fall to reintroduce an improved version of this apple pie granola?! It honestly tastes like fall and wafts cinnamon throughout your house- amazing and the perfect cozy breakfast or treat! Did I mention it only requires 6 simple & affordable ingredients?!

Ingredients
🔸2 red apples, cubed (size of die)
🔸1 cup rolled oats
🔸1-2 tsp cinnamon
🔸1/4 tsp fine sea salt
🔸1 1/2 Tbsp honey (or agave/maple syrup)
🔸1 tsp olive oil

🔸Optional: add raw almonds or pecans for a crunch factor midway through baking!! And top your choice of yogurt to make a parfait!

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add all 6 ingredients in 1 bowl. Mix well (especially so salt doesn’t clump in one area!)
3. Place mix spread out on lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring midway through.
5. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
6. Enjoy as is or make an Apple Pie Sundae with yogurt!

P.S. Refrigerate if you don’t eat immediately to save safely for later.

Please let me know what you think. Enjoy! Happy fall, y’all!

5 Nutrients That Support Your Menstrual Phase

5 Nutrients That Support Your Menstrual Phase

Let me be clear. All nutrients are beneficial and serve their purpose at different times. I am also a big proponent of individualized nutrition based on what a person’s specific needs are. With that said, these 5 nutrients are my personal findings and round up of what can help most women with various symptoms during their menstrual phase.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that has been shown to reduce symptoms for both PMS and menopause. During your luteal and menstrual phases, a magnesium supplement, foods rich in magnesium, and even magnesium oil or lotion can help relax the smooth muscles of your uterus, decrease inflammatory prostaglandins (the hormone-like lipids that cause contractions and cramps), reduce headaches and breast tenderness, and even help curb sugar cravings.

In terms of hormonal balance, magnesium is needed for the production of TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, which is responsible for your body’s metabolism. In addition, it aids in blood sugar balance and estrogen detoxification. Women with PCOS are 19 times more likely to be magnesium-deficient, and those with diabetes or an autoimmune disease are also at high risk for deficiency.

Women want to aim for 400mg of magnesium per day.

Here are some food sources rich in magnesium: 

  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • soymilk
  • black beans
  • edamame
  • dark chocolate

As for supplements, magnesium in the forms of aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride are more bioavailable and readily absorbed than magnesium oxide and sulfate. I was just recommended magnesium oil from Ancient Minerals and will report back after a few months of using it.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with bloating, uterine inflammation, migraines, and even mood swings. In a study of women with polycystic ovary syndrome and irregular periods, an omega 3 supplement was given at 3g/day for 8 weeks. This resulted in decreased elevated testosterone and androgen levels with a regulation of menses in the omega 3 group.

In another study, women took 1,000mg of fish oil/day. The experimental group reported less menstrual pain than the comparative group who took the pain reliever, ibuprofen.

Here are some food sources rich in omega-3s: 

  • fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel)
  • nuts and seeds
  • fortified foods (I have been using this Silk oat, almond, and pea milk blend infused with DHA omega-3s!)

Zinc

Supplementing with 30mg of zinc 1-3x daily during your luteal and menstrual phases can significantly reduce (if not manage or eradicate dysmenorrhea- period pain!). Zinc can also block androgen production, such as testosterone, which helps in treating acne and reducing excess facial hair.

Here are some food sources rich in zinc: 

  • oysters
  • shellfish (crab and lobster)
  • red meat (I recommend organic, grass fed and pasture-raised)
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds- especially pumpkin seeds!
  • eggs
  • whole grains

B vitamins, specifically B6 and B12

It’s a toss up between which B vitamin is more important to focus on. Both B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin) can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, which as we know can be rampant during our luteal and menstrual phases. Here are the main contributors of each.

B6 can help regulate periods, so if your cycle is irregular, I would recommend incorporating foods that contain more of this B vitamin. B6 also helps minimize bloating and has the ability to produce amino acids, which is needed more during your bleed for replenishment and to avoid muscle catabolism.

Here are some food sources rich in B6: 

  • pork.
  • poultry, such as chicken or turkey
  • some fish (cod, salmon, halibut, trout, tuna and snapper)
  • peanuts
  • soy beans
  • wheatgerm
  • oats
  • bananas

B12 largely contributes to red blood cell formation, which is also crucial during this time.Since we are losing blood and iron, new red blood cells are needed to help carry oxygen throughout the body and keep energy levels high.

Here are some food sources rich in B12: 

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • eggs milk

Iron

Last but not least is iron. About 70% of our body’s iron is found in red blood cells. When we bleed during menses, we lose blood and, therefore, red blood cells and iron. It is important to replenish this mineral, as to avoid iron depletion or anemia. Women need approximately 1.8 mg of iron/day. If you donate blood, you lose about 200 mg of iron, and those breastfeeding and postpartum can lose up to 700 mg. Breastfeeding mamas need to increase their iron intake by 0.5-1mg/day.

P.S. Iron is better absorbed in the company of vitamin C, so add peppers, citrus juice, broccoli or tomatoes to your meals with iron-containing foods. Using iron pots can also increase iron levels! We only absorbed 10-30% of iron, so keep that in mind when measuring and accounting for your food. 

Here are some food sources rich in iron: 

  • lean beef
  • veal
  • poultry
  • pork
  • lamb
  • liver
  • fish and shellfish
  • greens
  • tofu
  • lima beans
  • legumes and lentils

Summary

Upping your nutrient consumption game is a great strategy in preventing or treating PMS and menstrual symptoms. From the abundance of research I’ve been doing lately on women’s health (specifically nutrition and phases of the cycle), I found magnesium, omega 3s, zinc, B vitamins (B6 + B12), and iron to be some of the most crucial in alleviating unwanted cramps, headaches, lethargy, acne and more while also replenishing the body with the fuel it needs to process and recover best.

If you have basic nutrition questions, I can answer those for you, but hang on tight for when I become licensed in February to better serve your personal needs. Xo Danielle

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