Eat Only Foods That Will Eventually Rot!

I am loving Michael Pollan’s book, “Food Rules – an Eater’s Manual!” If you have not read it, I can’t recommend it enough. He is a man after my own heart – searching for ways to make nutrition simple, he tells it like it is, and weeds through all of the bologna. In case you have not heard of the Happy Meal Experiment, I have done it. I have a Happy Meal that I bought back in October 2009. That means it’s coming up on it’s 3rd birthday! The thing looks just like this picture (which happens to be of a fresh one). Nothing’s grown on it, the meat didn’t rot, the bread didn’t mold… there’s something really wrong with that! Your food should not outlive you! In fact, I had to place it in a box because the bag it came in deteriorated thanks to the oil.

A big complaint I get from people is that they hate buying fruits and vegetables because they always go bad. To them I say YES!! Celebrate that and go buy more. Because as myself and Michael Pollan say, “Eat Only Foods That Will Eventually Rot!”

Do you have any foods in your pantry right now that are way past the expiration date, but look pretty much the same as you bought them? Please share! Let’s get a support group going. My name is Jamie Leff and I have a Happy Meal from 2009…

Do you know mom’s that are a slave to the drive through? Please share!


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Are You Struggling With Your Habits?

It is easier to add a good habit to one’s life than to discontinue a bad one.
– Mama Gena

I just love this! How many times do you try to break a bad habit, only to fail? Think about it… take a moment to write down all of your bad habits you are trying to break to reach your health goals.

Here are some examples:

  • stop eating dessert
  • give up read meat
  • avoid dairy
  • stop watching tv instead of exercising
  • give up chocolate

Ok, already this list depresses me. If I woke up every day telling myself, “Ok, today is the day I’m going to give up chocolate,” I would not want to get out of bed. Instead, start making a list of all of the good habits you can add. If you’re goal is to get more fiber, what’s one food you can add today to get more fiber. If you’re goal is to exercise more, what’s one activity you can do today. Don’t worry about the rest of the week. Take it day by day and focus on today! I wake up every morning and say, “Today I’m going to move my butt!” And then I get out of bed and I do some stretches, maybe some sit-ups if I have the time, or some calf raises in the kitchen while I’m cooking breakfast. It takes about 10 minutes, but I feel good knowing that at least I moved somewhat today! And more often than not, it motivates me to want to move more. I find myself looking for ways to move throughout the day: I park farther away, I take the stairs, I even carve out a half hour on my way home from work to go to the gym!

The moral of the story is, don’t focus so much on the things you shouldn’t do. Instead, focus on what you CAN do! It’s much more empowering.

What’s one good habit you can add today? Share below. You might inspire someone!


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How Old Are You, Really?

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Have you heard people say, “getting old sucks!” How does that make you feel? Like there’s no hope? That aging is what it is and that there’s nothing you can do about it? I know when I hear that, it bums me out! Especially in my profession, I come across people in their 50’s and 60’s who are so sick, bed ridden, or just overall have a poor quality of life. But just when I start to buy into that idea (which is a dumb idea by the way), I meet someone who inspires me. Someone who brings me back to reality and all that I believe in, which is this, “AGE IS JUST A NUMBER PEOPLE!” Lie about it if it makes you feel better, check a different box on a survey, do whatever you have to do to stop allowing these meaningless characters to have so much power over you!

I had the pleasure today of meeting an incredible man. For his privacy, we will call him Howard. I met Howard in the hospital. Howard is 85 years old. Let me tell you a little bit about this remarkable man. Howard was in the hospital because he broke his leg. He got hit by a car, riding his bike. You see, he rides his bike regularly for exercise. He also runs and swims! He told me he started when he was 39. He and his wife went on a ski trip with a few other couples, most of them were in their 20’s. Howard said they could hardly keep up. It was in that moment that he decided he needed to start exercising, and he’s been doing it almost everyday, ever since. By the way, a little background on Howard… he doesn’t take a single medication, doesn’t have any current conditions (other than his new broken leg), and no health history. When I asked him what his secret was, he just simply shrugged and said, “I’ve always done it. I started at 39 and never stopped!” When I asked him about his diet and his weight, he told me, he weighs the same as he did when he was 39 (which is a very healthy weight for him), and he “eats a pretty healthy diet. I’m not a fanatic about it or anything, but I do pretty good.”

This man has inspired me to paint a new picture for myself of what aging looks like and proves it does not have to suck! My ultimate goal: to be running marathons when I’m 85! (Just like the man in the picture above. You can read his story here.

Now that you’ve read Howard’s story, I’d like to ask you, what’s your ultimate goal with regards to your health? How do you see yourself when you’re 85? It’s never too late!

(This was not a rhetorical question by the way! I’d love for you to share your thoughts, inspirations and goals below.)



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How to Navigate the Gluten-Free Maze

Thank you Chef Janet for this wonderful guest blog, cleaning up the gluten-free confusion! Please check out her website at: She is a wonderful resource for those of you wanting or needing to go gluten-free!

Gluten-Free Grains?

If you’ve just transitioned to a gluten-free diet you probably know that wheat, rye and barley are the grains to stay away from. But go to your local natural foods market  . . . and total confusion. FDA labeling now requires the clear statement of wheat as an ingredient but gluten comes in many forms. What about spelt, kamut and triticale? Is buckwheat gluten-free? What are ancient grains? Are oats gluten-free?

I’ll try to clear up all this confusion by listing as many of these mysterious grains as possible with a little information about each one.

Grains WITH Gluten

Wheat – For many years, with mass production and corporate agriculture, one type of wheat has come to dominate the market. This variety of wheat was chosen due to its shorter maturation time and its higher gluten content. But more recently there has been a trend back to “ancient grains.” Many are simply different varieties of wheat and others are unrelated to wheat. Some are gluten-free and some are not.

Barley – A grain used in beer and malt beverages. Also found in malt vinegar, “malt flavoring” and other additives.

Bulgur Wheat – a cracked wheat used in tabouli.

Durum Wheat – A high protein wheat mostly used to make semolina flour which is used in pasta.

Einkorn – An ancient form of wheat believed to be the earliest cultivated variety of wheat.

Farro – A species of wheat.

Kamut – An ancient grain found in 3000 year old Egyptian tombs. It is believed to be related to durum wheat and is also used in breads.

Rye – Rye has a lower gluten content and is sometimes tolerated by those with mild gluten sensitivity but definitely not for people with Celiac disease.

Spelt – An ancient form of wheat grown in Iran as early as 6000 BC. It can be substituted for modern day wheat and is used in breads.

Triticale – a hybrid of wheat and rye.

Gluten-Free Grains

Oats – Oats, on their own are gluten-free. However in farming, oat crops are often rotated with wheat and barley and are processed in the same mills. As a result, bits of wheat, rye or barley can cross-contaminate. Fortunately, there are now gluten-free oats that are grown in fields dedicated to gluten-free grains and are processed in gluten-free mills. When you buy oats or oat flour, be sure the package is labeled gluten-free and shows a gluten-free certification badge. This certification badge will assure you that the oats have been tested to be gluten free.

Unfortunately still, some people with Celiac disease cannot tolerate even gluten-free oats. So just be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding oats.

Amaranth – An ancient grain used by the Aztecs.

Buckwheat – Despite its name buckwheat is gluten-free. It is a higher protein, high fiber grain that is in a completely different family as wheat.  Perhaps you’ve heard of buckwheat groats? This is buckwheat without its hull. When groats are toasted they are called kasha. 

Millet – Millet is an ancient grain used in Asia as early as 8300 BC and was even more prevalent than rice. Its protein content is comparable to that of wheat so millet flour makes a nice substitute in gluten-free breads. Great in gluten-free pizza crust.

Quinoa – An ancient grain used by the Incas. The best thing about quinoa is that it is a complete protein meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids we need. It is a great substitute in recipes that require cous cous or tabouli. I love this grain!

Rice – Completely gluten-free whether it’s brown, white, basmati, jasmine or arborio rice! Brown rice flour combined with some starches makes a great all-round substitution for wheat flour.

Sorghum – Sorghum is used widely in Africa and dates back to ancient Egypt. It has a nice neutral flavor so sorghum flour can work well in cakes and other baked goods. You’ll see many gluten-free beers made with sorghum.

Teff – An ancient grain believed to have originated in Ethiopia. It is higher in protein and fiber and teff flour is wonderful for gluten-free breads.

I hope this has helped you to feel more confident when trying to make a choice in the market. Don’t be afraid to experiment with some of these unfamiliar grains. You might be pleasantly surprised.


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Recipe of the week…

I know as a dietitian I’m supposed to like Kale, but let me be frank with you… I don’t really like Kale! I know it’s really good for you, one of the number one super foods, rich in antioxidants and fiber, etc. Occasionally I’ll add it to a smoothie because my Vitamix has the ability to blend it so that I can’t taste it. I’ve made Kale chips, and those are pretty good. I just can’t seem to get on board with raw Kale… until last night. I had the most amazing salad and it was so simple.  I’m sorry, I don’t know the exact amounts of each ingredient, but lets just assume everything is to taste.  All that was in it was kale, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh ground pepper, sea salt, walnuts, avocado, and fresh strawberries. It was the perfect combination of fresh, tangy, salty, savory and sweet.

I’ll admit, after awhile I got tired of chewing Kale, so I would probably serve this as a side dish instead of a main dish, but to each their own!  My advice to all of you who are as weary of Kale as I am, try it.  You might be surprised!


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Make Your Own Rules

I had the pleasure of working with Juliann Stitick of Wardrobe Rx, who is an amazing fashion consultant. When it comes to fashion, I’m a bit of a mess! I can never seem to get all of the rules straight… don’t where black with blue, gold with silver, actually don’t ever where gold because it’s not your color. It was driving me crazy! The best advice she ever gave me – “Make your own rules!” Her point was for me to wear whatever felt good to me, whatever I felt beautiful in. Then she sent me this card, that hangs on my mirror everyday to remind me that I make the rules of my life. 

This is something important to remember, because this doesn’t just apply to fashion. It can be applied to your diet and exercise routine. Now, obviously if you decide one of your rules is to sit on the couch and eat a cheeseburger everyday, you’re probably not going to accomplish your goals and most likely won’t feel very good! What I mean is, you decide what diet is right for you. I often get asked, “should I go vegan, eat only raw? What about high protein, low carb?” My answer is yes! Pick what makes you feel the healthiest and can work with your lifestyle. That’s what is most important. My goal for my clients is to feel the best they can at any age.  TOGETHER, we figure out to get there.

So go make your own rules!


Filed under Daily Tip, Motivation


My name is Jamie Leff. I’m a registered dietitian, and I LOVE food!  People always ask me what I eat, and are often surprised when they find out I don’t live on salads and tofu (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and that I don’t spend hours in the kitchen making gourmet meals with 20 healthy ingredients (I actually hate to cook.) Another common comment I get is “Oh no, there’s a dietitian at the table!” No one wants to sit next to me at the dinner table! Or I’ll have a bite of cake or a slice of pizza and someone will point out, “Aren’t you a dietitian? Don’t you know better?” The honest truth is that I’m human… I have a sweet tooth, I’ve been known to go on an emotional binge once or twice, and my social schedule often frightens people. I am always going to dinners, parties, showers, weddings and I love to travel! So how do I stay thin, fit and healthy? I’ve learned how to balance it out!

That is how I’ve developed my philosophy over the years and how I work with clients.  I don’t believe in the “One Diet Fit’s All approach.” In fact, I’ve probably tried every diet out there and will continue to try every diet as my clients ask me about them. I love trying new programs. It’s part of why I became a dietitian. What I do is work with people where they are at, combine different ideas and approaches and see what sticks! The truth is, I would rather live to be 85 having enjoyed every ounce of my life, than to live to be 100, having never “tasted” life.

My goal is to share with you what I do, inspire you to live the healthiest life you can (whatever that looks like for you) and to teach you that it can be fun and enjoyable. It’s not easy. It takes effort… old habits are hard to break. But go easy on yourself. If I beat myself up every time I had a chocolate chip cookie, I’d be black and blue!

So enjoy and welcome!

My name is Jamie Leff, I’m a registered dietitian, I love food, and yes, “I know better!”

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