How to Make Health and Wellness a Priority at an Office Job

Do you have a sedentary job? Did you know that not meeting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer? Many are unaware that it can also impact your mental health. Living a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to anxiety and depression. Below are some tips to prioritize your mental and physical health on the job.

Ways to Prioritize Mental Health:

  • Get a full 8 hours of sleep.
  • Meditate, do a little yoga, or some deep breathing.
  • Start your day off by listening to a podcast on your morning commute.
  • Don’t skip breakfast: It jumpstarts your metabolism and provides energy so you perform your best at work! 
  • Set boundaries between your work and home life.

Ways to Prioritize Physical Health:

  • Park farther away and walk.
  • Get up every hour: Walk to the bathroom, get a drink, go to the printer or chat with a coworker.
  • On your lunch break, take a walk around the building, climb a couple flights of stairs or hit the gym for a quick workout.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated: It can be easy to get busy and forget about your daily water intake.
  • Bring food from home: It is healthier and gives you time to do other things on your break!
  • If possible, get a standing desk or a mini foot cycler that fits under your desk.

Being active is important to ensure your overall health and quality of life. Try to incorporate some of these tips into your life and see how much better you feel mentally and physically!


Caprese Salad

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Caprese Salad


Caprese Salad or Insalata Caprese – 

My favorite summer entree salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. It is quick, easy, healthy and very satisfying.

This salad was created in Italy in the early 1920s. It is a patriotic reflection that visually incorporates the tricolors of the Italian flag red, green and white.


Fresh mozzarella: I like to buy the pre-sliced to make the assembly go faster.

Extra virgin olive oil: Make certain your olive oil says “extra virgin” which will be less processed with more flavor.

Fresh tomatoes: Garden grown tomatoes are the best.

Balsamic vinegar:  Place full bottle of vinegar into a pan, heat on low 15-20 min. to reduce it  down and it becomes thickened. I keep the extra balsamic glaze in my refrigerator to have ready for my next salad.

Salt and pepper:  add to taste to bring out and compliment the flavors of the dish.


Assemble salad:  Layer tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic glaze and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Why is Breakfast So Important?

Eating in the morning is beneficial because it affects important processes within your body, including:

  • Metabolism: Eating breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism, helpingyour body burn calories.
  • Adequate Nutrient Intake: When you skip breakfast, that’s one less meal to contribute to necessary daily nutrients. 
  • Concentration/Alertness: Eating breakfast stabilizes blood sugar, which helps improve your memory, cognitive ability, and attention span.
  • Mood: Eating breakfast can improve mood by providing glucose to your famished brain. No one likes to be “hangry”!

Eating breakfast also prevents unhealthy eating later in the day: When you are hungry because you skipped breakfast, you are more likely to binge eat or consume convenient, unhealthy foods.  People who eat breakfast tend to be healthier and have fewer weight problems and associated issues like diabetes. 

To ensure you have time for breakfast, think “Plan & Prep”:

  • Plan: Plan your meals for the week ahead of time so you are not scrabbling for something as you run out the door.
  • Prep: Put everything in containers the night before so there is no hassle in the morning.

Not a breakfast person? It helps if you plan meals you actually enjoy eating. Try some overnight oats topped with fruit or make a breakfast bowl with turkey bacon, eggs, a little cheese, and maybe some veggies. Or break away from traditional breakfast foods altogether: Can you eat soup for breakfast? Of course! Spring rolls? Go for it! The important thing is . . . when you wake up, eat up!


Feeling Stressed? We’re Here to Help!

Today’s society is fast-paced: We go, go, go! It’s exhausting, and it can seem impossible to juggle work, home life, and everyday stressors. Stress can impact every aspect of our lives and be detrimental to our health, so it’s important to find ways to alleviate it — like exercise, meditation, getting 8 hours of sleep, and eating “smart.” Exercise is the best form of stress relief because it causes the brain to release more endorphins, which cause you to feel happier and more relaxed. If you prefer something more mellow, try meditation or yoga; they allow the body and mind to experience deep relaxation.

Foods that can help relieve stress:

  • Avocado: Packed with potassium, avocados help regulate blood pressure.
  • Swiss Chard: Swiss chard and other green leafy veggies contain magnesium which helps balance cortisol levels and reduce the activity of neurons in the brain.
  • Fatty Fish: Tuna, salmon and other fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can help regulate adrenaline levels, reducing anxiety symptoms.
  • Whole Grains: Whole grains contain fiber that helps you feel full. They also contain complex carbohydrates that help regulate blood sugar and trigger the brain to release serotonin.
  • Nuts: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios contain Vitamin B which helps replenish energy levels. Nuts also contain antioxidants, other vitamins, and zinc, which help reduce symptoms of anxiety.
  • Dark Chocolate: 70% cocoa or higher reduces cortisol and other stress hormones. 

Combining these foods with regular physical activity and adequate sleep will be your best bet for keeping stress to a minimum. Finally, don’t skip meals or go too long without eating. This can cause a drop in blood sugar which can worsen stress and anxiety symptoms. Movement + Smart Foods + Sleep = A Mellower You!


Are Meal Kits A Good Fit For You?

Do you find yourself struggling when it comes to planning and prepping meals? If you do then meal kits may be beneficial in your home!

Meal kits are becoming increasingly popular among individuals and families, especially those with busy schedules or special dietary needs. On one hand, they can be convenient by making cooking much less time-consuming and may even help with budgeting. On the other hand, finding the right one to fit your needs can be challenging. There are several popular versions of meal kits from those you can select online and have delivered to your door, to those you can find in your local grocery store. Below are a few common brands along with a little bit more information to help you choose the best option that is right for you!


HelloFresh is one of the most popular meal kit services on the market right now. In fact, they are currently the largest meal kit provider in the United States. HelloFresh allows you to select from options that reflect what diet you typically eat. These options range from classic meat and veggies to family friendly, quick and easy, vegetarian, calorie smart and pescatarian. They are fantastic because you can customize what you get by selecting how many people you will be feeding and how many servings you want to make. All the ingredients are pre-washed, pre-packaged, and many ingredients are even pre-chopped. Last but not least, they are sent right to your door along with step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the meal. It can’t get much easier than that, can it? According to a consumer report review of HelloFresh, this meal kit service was ranked lowest in fat content, calories, and sodium among the 5 meal kit services they tested.¹ However, the nutrition facts vary from meal to meal and they did note that some meals were absent of whole grain and others fell short on their servings of veggies. Most meals are typically between 500 and 800 calories and cost between $7.00 and $10.00 per meal depending on which meal plan you choose. 

Good and Gather – Target

As I was strolling through Target the other day I happened to see an end aisle full of various meal kits. They were organized in small plastic bags with all the ingredients for a quick, easy meal. A few of the options that caught my eye were pepperoni pizza, sesame teriyaki chicken stir fry, southwest chicken tacos, and chicken burrito bowls. While these meal kits are better than eating out,  they are pricier than some other meal kits, starting at $13.99. It is also important to keep in mind that the proteins (such as chicken) are precooked and prepackaged and therefore are not as fresh as what may come in other meal kits. This should be kept in mind when considering preservatives and sodium content. Some of the condiments, such as soy sauce, are not organic as in other meal services, so if that is important to you, this may not be the meal kit service for you. Because these meal kits are not designed by chefs and dieticians, the serving sizes tend to vary more as well. The packages say that they will serve 3 people but many customers disagreed. So, if you have a large family, you may need more than one meal kit. These meal kits are still a great option if you are in a time crunch, but they might require some sprucing up by adding your own veggies and whole grains.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron is an online meal kit service similar to HelloFresh. In addition to letting you handpick your meal choices, they also have diabetes-friendly and allergy-friendly options. If cutting down on food waste is important to you, Blue Apron lets you choose the amount of servings you need similar to HelloFresh. The great thing about Blue Apron and HelloFresh is that if you decide you don’t want to purchase any meals that week, you can opt out or cancel. Another positive factor is that all the ingredients come prepared. According to a consumer report review of Blue Apron, nutritionally, the meals were ranked in the middle of the 5 meal kit services they tested.² This was because 2 of the 6 meals tested had a high sodium content. However, the meals did have relatively low calories and were nutritionally sound.  The meals from Blue Apron typically contained between 500 to 700 calories and the cost per meal was between $7.00 and $10.00 depending on which meal plan you choose. 

While all meal kit services have their pros and cons, they are a hit with many busy people and can make cooking nutritious meals a breeze! If you are busy and don’t have the time to plan out a grocery list, meal kits may be a solution. Just be sure to consider the nutrition facts to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck!



  1. Lee, J. (2016, August 24). Consumer Reports Reviews HelloFresh. Consumer Reports.
  2. Lee, J. (2016, August 24). Consumer Reports Reviews Blue Apron. Consumer Reports.




Searching for the Healthiest Cereal Option

There are so many choices in the cereal aisle it is very difficult to narrow it down to one or two healthy options.  In 1970 there were approximately 160 different types of breakfast cereal.  Today there are over 4500 different cereals to choose from.  It can be very overwhelming to select the healthiest option. Price is also an important factor because cereal can be expensive, especially if your portion size is actually considered two servings.

What are you looking for on the cereal box to help you make the best decision?

  • Whole grain: Preferably the first two ingredients are a whole grain or bran such as whole wheat, oats or barley. Whole grains are higher in fiber, protein and nutrients like iron, magnesium and B-vitamins.
  • High fiber: 4-5 gm of total fiber per serving 
  • Look for unprocessed fiber vs. processed, such as inulin, chicory root fiber, soluble corn or wheat flour.  Processed fiber may not provide the same benefits to your GI system as unprocessed fiber. Unprocessed fiber is wheat bran, whole grain wheat and oats.
  • Low sugar: Less than 5-7 gm total sugar per serving
  • Higher protein which helps you stay full longer. Sweet cereals may have 1-2 gm of protein; healthier options will have 5-10 gm of protein per serving.
  • Low sodium: Preferably less than 140 mg sodium per serving
  • Saturated fat: Less than 2.5 gm saturated fat per serving. A few granolas may have enough chocolate or coconut to hit 3-6 gm!
  • Serving sizes can vary from 1/4 – 1/2 cup, so pay attention to the actual amount of cereal you are consuming.








Consider healthy toppings to add to your cereal to increase the nutritional content and taste satisfaction. Suggestions include slivered almonds, crushed walnuts, hemp seeds for protein, and flax seeds for omega 3s. Finally, fresh fruit is always better than dried fruit because it has less sugar.

Cereal can be a healthy breakfast option or between-meal snack if you have spent some time studying the label to identify key nutritional contributions, plus you are consuming the recommended portion size. 


Food Waste & You!

Three Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste and Improve Nutrition


Between National Arbor Day and National Gardening Day, April is a month of celebration for all that our beautiful earth provides. This, of course, includes one of the most precious resources that we happen to enjoy every day – food! Try the 3 strategies below to power the planet and your body at the same time.


Number 1:   Shop Smart

One of the biggest mistakes we make when it comes to food waste and good nutrition is buying more than we can use in one week. When planning ahead, a practical approach is to plan one week at a time, with an emphasis on seasonal, local options. Keep in mind that fresh produce and meat stay fresh for about 3-5 days on average. Knowing this, a good strategy is to be sure to include a mix of fresh, frozen, and, believe it or not, even canned goods in your meal plan. Next time you are planning, try this –

  • Focus on 2-3 fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables each week and try to think of ways to include these in multiple recipes. Oh, and avoid shopping on an empty stomach!
  • Contribute to a greener and healthier environment over time by reducing your carbon footprint. When we buy locally we are reducing the travel time for those wonderful fruits, vegetables, dairy, and even meat that often comes from across state lines. By doing this, we are enjoying fresh, crisp goods while reducing CO2 emissions which in turn helps support a healthy food supply for decades to come.
  • When it comes to health and packaged goods is to always look for items that are low in added sugar and salt. This small change can help those managing their cardiovascular health, diabetes, high blood pressure, bone health, and much more and still feel good about their environmental impact. On the flip side, make sure to recycle aluminum and glass when you can to help reduce the impact on our landfills and ecosystem.
  • Like our canned goods, when it comes to frozen foods we want to look for items that are not pre-seasoned or flavored. Seasonings and flavors tell us that there has likely been salt, sugar or even preservatives added. By doing this, we can then add unique flavors to make it work with whatever dish is on the menu. Way more fun!
  • Bonus – frozen goods are great for those cooking for one because you can easily get one serving out and then pop the rest back in the freezer for next time.

The truth is, there are many healthy options when it comes to packaged and fresh foods – and staying informed is one way to help meet your health and environmental goals.

Number 2:   Proper Food Storage

Americans discard more food than any other country, nearly 40 million tons — or 30-40 percent of the entire US food supply. So what can you do?

  • Follow FIFO! If this term is new to you, it stands for “First-In, First-Out” and refers to a food storage method that is used for both sanitation purposes and food waste reduction. What it means is that as you are putting away the groceries make sure to put them away in an order that allows you to use the oldest items first. For example, yogurt in the refrigerator is one of those that inevitably end up spoiled in the back of the fridge. If we are intentional in placing the newest yogurt behind the old one, it will remind us to use the oldest first. I know it’s tempting to grab the freshest one however when it comes to food waste we’re doing ourselves a disservice for minimal flavor difference.
  • Preserve foods by keeping your leafy green in an airtight container with a dry paper towel. This will help absorb the moisture and keep the item fresher longer.
  • Another idea is to keep items like celery in the refrigerator with a small amount of water around the root which will keep the leaves thriving and fresh longer.
  • When it comes to fruit, try not to cut this too far in advance which will help it from turning mushy before you’re ready to enjoy it.
  • Use eco-friendly glass, plastic and other items like re-usable storage bags for both improved freshness, financial savings, and concerning nutrition – reduced intake of potential carcinogens.
  • Use reusable drink holders more often and reduce bottle water intake. This will help to make keeping up with daily water intake fun and even motivating.

Number 3:   Use EVERYTHING!

For many, the idea of eating leftovers is nothing short of boring. However, we know that with a high rate of food waste here in the United States an easy change like including 1 to 2 leftover meals per week can have a big impact. But who wants to eat the same thing twice in a row? Me either! Instead, try “re-inventing” it into something completely new and exciting!

  • Keep leftover meat and vegetables for a quick stew or chili.
  • If vegetables like corn, peas, and beans are leftover, try adding to a cold salad the next day for added flavor and texture.
  • If you happen to be among those that enjoy leftovers, refrigerating and freezing leftovers in individual serving sizes is one of the best ways to help ensure that always have something nutritious available for those crazy days when cooking goes out the window.
  • When it comes to peels and scraps from items like oranges, lemons, limes, try saving for everything from dried seasoning and rubs, salad dressing, vinaigrettes and jam – bring on the phytonutrients!

It is encouraging to know that small changes each day with food purchasing, storage, and enjoyment can work together to support our health and environmental goals. On behalf of Banister Nutrition, thank you for all you are doing to support a healthy, happy world for yourself and others. ~AS


“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi 

Starting Your Backyard Vegetable Garden

Springtime is here and it is time to plant your summer garden. Planting a backyard garden might sound a little daunting, but it is easier than you think it might be. Even if you don’t have enough space in your backyard, you can plant plants like tomatoes or herbs in containers on your deck or patio. Other than it is a great hobby, there are lots of reasons why you should have a backyard garden even if it is a couple of plants. Fresh, ripe produce is right at your own convenience. You are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables because you investing time and energy into your garden. And most importantly of all, home-grown produce tastes so much better than what you can get at the grocery store!

Pick Your Plants

Depending on where you live in the States, certain fruits and vegetables grow better on the climate and time of the year. In Oklahoma, we have a climate where we can grow a large variety of produce. Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that thrive in this climate.

Vegetables and Fruits to Plant in the Spring/Summer

  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Herbs
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Zucchini
  • Radishes
  • Green Beans
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Okra
  • Summer Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries

Pick The Right Area

When picking a location, it is important to keep in mind two things: sunlight and water access. Most vegetables and fruits need about 6-8 hours of sunshine a day while some only need 3-6 hours. Depending on what fruits and vegetables you choose to plant, it will dictate where you should grow your garden.

Prep Your Soil

You may not think that prepping soil is important for growing a garden, but the soil is where plants get most of their nutrients. To prep soil for gardening, organic fertilizers like compost are the best to incorporate.

  1. Add an organic fertilizer like compost.
  2. Mix compost into the soil at least 2 inches deep. This will aerate the soil making it easier for vegetables and fruits to grow.
  3. While you are mixing the soil, pick out any rocks, large twigs, and other objects. These items can inhibit the growth of root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes.
  4. Once you have finished prepping your soil, you are ready to plant your seeds or seedlings!

Watering Your Plants

Watering your plants is crucial especially in the hot Oklahoman summer heat. One way to sure your garden is getting enough water is to water it in the morning before the sun fully rises. This way the plants can absorb water more efficiently and you will use less water. If you are using containers instead of planting your plants in the ground, make sure your pots and containers have drainage holes so excess water can be drained from the plant.

Now you are set to plant your seeds or seedlings! Hopefully with our gardening tips, your garden will flourish this summer. Comment below on what you are planning to grow this year! AN

Food Hiding – Helpful or Harmful?

Elusive Blood Sugar Management

Do you ever feel like regardless of what you do, your blood sugar is still all over the board?

Once you received the diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you should have been told to check your blood sugar several times each day to prevent complications that can develop from elevated blood sugar over a long time. Striving for normal blood sugar readings can feel extremely elusive and frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be. Checking your blood sugar level is like checking the speedometer on your car. It gives you information and tells you if you need to make adjustments. Blood sugar levels do not reflect personal character or intelligence.

There are many factors that affect your blood sugar.  What you do or don’t eat has a huge impact on your blood sugar level, but it is not the only factor involved. Here are some other factors that can affect your blood sugar.


We may not be attacked by predators nowadays, but we seem to be under constant lifestyle attack. Stress produced by a lion or your lifestyle will cause an increase in the hormones glucagon and cortisol, which increases blood sugar.  Sleep deprivation also causes stress and increases cortisol levels. The good news is exercise, relaxation, meditation, and adequate sleep can reduce stress and lower blood sugar levels.


Insulin sensitivity is increased with exercise, which means your cells are better able to use the sugar in your bloodstream. Thus lowering your blood sugar level.  Is your blood sugar high? Vacuum the floor, mow the lawn, clean out the garage, wash the windows, go for a walk or bike ride – these are all free, effective treatments to lower blood sugar.


Are you tired of hearing the long litany of foods you shouldn’t eat because you have diabetes? Are there foods you might want to eat more of to improve your health and lower your blood sugar?

Carbohydrates (“carbs”) are to be managed, not eliminated. Your body breaks down carbs into sugars (mostly glucose) and then insulin helps your body use the sugar for energy. When you eat too many carbs or have insulin-function problems, this process fails and blood glucose levels can rise. A dietitian can assist you in identifying the appropriate amount, distribution, and type of carbs to manage your blood glucose. You need complex carbs at least for a third of your carb intake. If you are taking insulin, your dietitian can also calculate the appropriate carb-to-insulin ratio so you can be pro-active and determine how much insulin to take based on how many carb grams you ate at your meal.

Fiber, specifically soluble fiber, has been shown to improve blood sugar management. Fiber slows carb digestion and sugar absorption.  Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are a great source of soluble fiber. Incorporating these foods in your diet would be very beneficial and effective for your blood sugar management. It is a balancing act to determine the appropriate amount because each of these foods also contributes to carbs.

Consult a dietitian who is also a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) to find the answers tailored to your specific health needs and goals. CB