A Foam Roller: The New Household Essential

Do you ever find your self massaging out your neck when you are feeling over-stressed? Myofascial release is the act of applying external pressure on the muscle and fascia to override the body’s protective mechanisms that create tension. Although the tension is the body’s way of protecting itself throughout the injury cycle, it can lead to dysfunction. After injury, inflammation occurs; the muscles spasm and adhesion will form. These adhesions are also known as trigger points. There are receptors throughout our muscular system that do NOT respond to stretching but do respond to pressure. The pressure applied should be deep and continuous to decrease trigger point activity.

While hand-massage therapy is a common method, self-myofascial release has become very popular over the past decade. It is cost friendly and can be done just about anywhere. The effective method depends on the area in need. A foam roller is good for the large muscle groups such as quadriceps, iliotibial band, hamstrings, and calves. For smaller groups other tools can be use such as a rolling pin, medicine ball, lacrosse ball, or golf ball. 

No single session will completely decrease the over-activity of the muscle. These exercises need to be practiced on a consistent basis to create lasting results. The following muscles are common points of tension: Gastroc Nemius & Soleus, Quadriceps, Tensor Fascia Late & Ililotibial Band, Piriformis, Latissimus Dorsi, Upper Trapezius, Rotator Cuff, and Pectorals. Slowly and with control, roll through the entire targeted muscle group. Spend 5-10 seconds over the most sensitive areas trying to completely relax. Move on to the next muscle group. 

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Spring Super Food Salad

This simple, seasonal salad is a must try. Perfectly balanced with plant-based protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates, it’s a crowd pleasing favorite for meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

Blueberry & Quinoa Arugula Spring Salad: 


  • 1 cup cooked red quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 6 cups arugula
  • 1/2-1 whole avocado (sliced)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1teaspoon salt and pepper

Bring 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa and 1 cup water to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, mix lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper together. Add to cooked quinoa, along with remaining ingredients (except avocado), and stir. Top with sliced avocado and enjoy.

Makes 2-4 Servings.



Authority Nutrition



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April is National Grilled Cheese Month!

Did you know the grilled cheese first appeared on the scene in the 1920s?  Originally made with Wonder bread and American cheese, today our grilled cheeses are somewhat of a masterpiece.  From the countless bread options to the large selection of cheese, this sandwich can range from plain jane to gourmet!  However, with all those new options also comes a potential nutrition disaster.  It’s estimated that a typical grilled cheese could easily contain 670 calories and 46 grams of fat!  So, we must be mindful when creating our grilled cheese masterpiece.

To avoid a nutrition disaster, here are a few simple tips to keep your grilled cheese on the healthier side:

  1. Choose Whole Grain Bread.
    • Whole grains contain phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) and essential minerals such as magnesium, selenium and copper, which may protect against some cancers.
    • Eating whole grains instead of refined grains substantially lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels.
    • Research has shown that an extra 2 servings of whole grains a day may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent.
  1. Choose a Cheese with Big Flavor.
  • American cheese is traditionally used, however because of its mild flavor you may use a larger quantity – leading to an increase in consumption of saturated fat and calories.
  • American cheese contains added ingredients such as stabilizers, emulsifiers, and flavor enhancers, making this cheese a less desirable choice.
  • Try a cheese full of flavor such as Gouda, Cheddar, Jack, Mozzarella or Provolone. Because these cheese options have big flavor, you will use less – saving you fat and calories.
  1. Add A Little Extra.
    • Try adding spinach for an extra boast of iron.
    • Add tomato for lycopene.
    • Mix in some avocado for heart healthy (mono and polyunsaturated) fats.
    • Try some banana and mango for potassium (see recipe below).
  1. Use A Non Stick Skillet Or Panini Maker.
    • Use a non-stick skillet or Panini maker to reduce the amount of fat needed for grilling.
    • Instead of butter, add a little olive or canola oil to the skillet.
    • Slowly grill to allow the cheese to melt evenly and the bread to become golden brown.
  1. Add Some Tomato Soup.
  • If using a store bought soup, check the sodium content and choose the lower sodium product.
  • If preparing soup from scratch, choose unsalted stock instead of broth for a richer flavor. You can add salt as needed.

 Jessica Dean, RD, CDN

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Recipes:

Grilled Banana and Mango with Feta

Summer Tomato, Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Grilled Ham, Muenster, and Spinach Grilled Cheese

Tasty Tomato Soup





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Spring Clean Your Wellness Routine

Winter months are full of holiday parties, family gatherings, and cozy nights spent next to the fire. For many, it’s easy to fall off the wellness wagon during this time of year. Not to worry. Spring has finally arrived, and with it the opportunity to freshen up your wellness routine with these simple “spring cleaning” tips.

  1. Get Cooking – Dining out is a common social event, especially during the winter months when many try to avoid the cold slap in the face that becomes the great outdoors. But restaurant dining and take-out can easily add inches to your waistline. Spring is the perfect time to get back in the kitchen and create balanced meals that support your health and wellness goals. If you need a little help to get started, sign up for a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh, or consider trying out a new cooking class.


  1. Stock up on Seasonal Produce – Choose local, seasonal spring produce like broccoli, asparagus, scallions, and baby bok choy. Local produce is bursting with flavor and also supports farmers and protects the environment from long distance delivery systems. Consider signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to gain exposure to new vegetables and cooking methods while reaping health benefits from ultra-fresh farm foods.


  1. Don’t Stress: Getting back on track with diet and exercise after a week vacation seems challenging, let alone an entire season. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Remember to load up on lean protein, low-fat dairy, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut back on added sugars from processed foods, sugary beverages, and desserts; and opt for whole grains vs. refined carbohydrates from white flour. Stick with plant based fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil and get moving. Now is the perfect time to try out tennis, take a jog outside, or plan an afternoon bike ride. On extra nice days, plan a picnic and go for a long hike.






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Step into Spring with a New Fitness Tracker

Spring is finally here and with summer just around the corner it’s a good time to ramp up your steps to feel your best for all the fun in the sun! Do you know how many steps are recommended per day? If you said 10,000, you are correct! 10,000 steps is the recommended amount of steps to improve your health and prevent chronic diseases.

Have you heard the phrases “sitting is the new smoking,” or “sitting is going to kill you?” Unfortunately there is some truth behind these phrases.  A recent study put out by the Center for Disease Control reminds us that prolonged sitting may increase your risk of premature death, may compromise metabolic health, and may have associations with other various health problems. By increasing your walking time daily, you can reduce your risk for developing chronic diseases including breast and colon cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Think about it for a minute…how many hours do you spend a day sitting? Whether it’s your commute to work, sitting behind a desk all day, time spent eating meals, surfing the internet, watching tv, bingeing on Netflix, or sitting there reading this blog. It adds up!

There are many tracking devices on the market made for tracking your activity throughout the day. See the article below which describes the best fitness trackers in 2017. This will help you find the right tool that works for you!


Having some type of tracking device is a great awareness tool to see how much movement you’ve gotten throughout the day. Set a goal to get up every hour, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Sometimes it even helps to set an alarm!

“But do I have to get some sort of wrist tracker??” – The answer – No! Try downloading an app on your phone! There are plenty of free apps including; Maipo, Stepz, Simple Steps, Map my Walk and many more!

Little bouts of movement add up a lot! Below are tips to help increase your step count.

  • Park your car in a further parking space from work, the grocery store, etc.
  • Stand when you’re on the phone
  • Stand or try some dynamic movements during commercials such as drop squats, walking lunges, high knees, butt kicks, etc.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

If you are new to the tracking device world, start slow! Put on your tracker and track how many steps you typically get for a couple days, then set a goal of 200-500 more steps for the next day. If you are averaging 3500 steps per day, I don’t expect you to hit 10,000 steps right away. Set small goals with the ultimate goal being 10,000.

Now get out there and get stepping!

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Are you bored with your workouts?

Exercise is the first thing we all push aside when we have a busy schedule.  As you leave work at the end of the day, do you find yourself making excuses to why you shouldn’t go to the gym? As the day progresses on, we think “I’ll just go to the gym tomorrow” or “I’ll just start next Monday.”  Did you ever stop and wonder why you dread going to the gym so much? Well, maybe you’re just doing the wrong workout!

It’s important to do what you enjoy to keep your workouts interesting. If you were excited about your workout, do you think you would adhere to your program more regularly?

Maybe it’s time to look into some new options such as meeting a friend after work to hold you accountable or trying a new class like Pilates, Boxing, Barre, SoulCycle or Tabata! There are so many other ways to get your exercise for the day other than just the monotonous gym routine.  Most gyms offer a wide variety of classes; check out what your local gym has available.

So what are these classes all about?

  • Pilates: A training method that focuses on strengthening your core. Pilates elongates and strengthens, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility.
  • Boxing: Not only will you get a great workout, it’s a great stress reliever too! Benefits to boxing include enhanced cardiovascular health, improved strength, decreased stress, and improved body composition. Don’t have time to go to a boxing club? Try theboxmethod.com, you can do a virtual boxing class right at home!
  • Barre: A total body workout that utilizes the ballet barre. By performing small, isometric movements you really sculpt those muscles! Look for a Pure Barre club near you. They have 375 studios across the country!
  • SoulCycle: An indoor cycling class that incorporates free weights and core work to give you a great workout in just 45 minutes! SoulCycle has become a popular form of exercise since 2006; they now have 74 clubs across 9 states.
  • Tabata: Workouts that include intervals for 4 minutes of high-intensity training, alternating between 20 seconds of your max effort followed by a 10 second rest for a total of 8 rounds. With these fast-paced, fun workouts you’ll burn a ton of calories!

There are so many new classes offered out there! Also, some of the local gyms now have a cardio cinema too! You can get your heart rate up doing your aerobic exercise while watching a new movie-it sure makes cardio much more enjoyable!

Click on the link below for a variety of other classes that will increase your heart rate and focus on your health without dreading the daily gym routine.


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Family Meal Time: Mastering the Art of Feeding the Family Jessica Dean, RD, CDN


Does Eating As A Family Really Make A Difference In Your Family’s Health?

Did you know? – children who enjoy family mealtime are:

  • 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating
  • 24% more likely to eat healthier
  • 12% less likely to be overweight

As a mom of 3 active children, I understand family meals can feel downright impossible! However, knowing the benefits of eating together at home, I make it a priority as much as possible.

Think about it – meals away from home are more likely to be energy-dense (meaning calorie-filled) foods.  These foods typically have added extra fat, sugar, and calories that you wouldn’t typically add to a home-cooked meal.  When you make a meal for your family at home, you know exactly what is going into that meal.  The meal tends to be higher quality, and low in sugar.

So what can you do to make family meal time more realistic? 

  1. Plan Meals A Week Or Two In Advance

Preparation is the key.  Pick a weekend night to sit and write out a weekly game plan.  This will help avoid the last minute take-out or “what’s for dinner?” dilemmas.  Be sure to think ahead and plan easy dinners on your most busy nights.  Soccer night = stir-fry night!  Use this fun meal planning chart and sample weekly meal planner.  Also look for recipes that are simple and require only a handful of ingredients.  Try these blogs for recipe ideas: 10 Minute Meal Ideas and Recipes Kids Can Make.

  1. Get The Kids Involved In Picking Out Recipes And Preparing Meals

Research suggests that the more kids are involved in the planning and preparation of a meal, the more likely mealtime will be a success and be enjoyed!  My kids love picking and planning their day.  Your kids will get a chance to “flex” their nutrition muscles while you get an opportunity to spend quality time with them and maybe learn something new?!  Giving kids a “theme” is a great way to provide some guidance while allowing them to still call the shots.  Some popular themes include Mexican Night, Make your own Pizza Night and Italian night.  Remember, it doesn’t have to be gourmet – just together.  Follow this link for more tips on getting kids in the kitchen.

  1. Shop Outside The Box

With the boom in home grocery delivery services, we have multiple options for shopping without even stepping foot inside the grocery store.  Once you make your meal plan, set aside 20 minutes to order your groceries online.  Most stores have a mobile app so ordering can be done while waiting in the pick-up line for your kids, or when sitting in the doctor’s office.  Amazon Fresh, Peapod, and ShopRite from Home are all great options.  Not only will these services save you time, but save you money as well.  Here is a link to help you avoid online ordering mistakes.

  1. Decorate The Table

Depending on the age of your kids, you can set the table to match the theme of the meal. For older kids who may be unimpressed by fun table decor, delegate tasks such as filling the glasses or setting the table to help meal time run smoothly.  There is nothing worse than having dinner ready but the silverware is not on the table!

  1. Make It Fun!

Turn TV and cellphones off!  Use these conversation starters to keep kids engaged and at the table longer.  Mealtime is a time to catch up on latest events and connect for a bit.  Having a fun dinnertime routine will help create memories and positive associations with food and family that will last a lifetime.

In closing, research shows that family meals 3 or more days per week will yield the most positive benefits for children.  It’s also important to note that if family dinner is not possible, sharing breakfast, lunch, or evening snack (or any similar activity that allows your family to gather more regularly) has also shown positive benefits in a child’s outcome.  As tempting as it may be to go swing through a drive through, a family meal generates feelings of closeness, comfort and stability.  With a little planning, you can provide these benefits – along with a better quality, nutrition-filled meal – that will satisfy the needs of your growing child.



USDA The Food Environment, Eating Out, and Body Weight: A Review of the Evidence

Cornell University College of Human Ecology: Parenting In Context. Do Family Meals Really Make A Difference?


Jessica Dean, RD, CDN

Registered Dietitian

Princeton Longevity Center: Shelton Office

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