Tell Us About yourself, Certifications, (where you are from, etc)
I am originally from Missouri but now reside in Florida. I am a professor at a Florida University and give nutrition and healthy living advice on the life insurance comparison and education site, EffortlessInsurance.com. I am a certified exercise physiologist by the American College of Sports Medicine and certified sports nutritionist by the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
How did you become passionate about healthy eating?
I’ve always been passionate about health, but my passion for healthy eating started when I was in graduate school. I realized the difference in how I looked and how I felt when I was eating healthier vs. when I was not. I also recognized how important nutrition education was for everyone, no matter your age, socioeconomic status, color, or gender.
If you could persuade people to change three things about their diet during these challenging times, what would they be?
Fruits and vegetables are your friends. That includes fresh, frozen, and canned options.
Be kind to yourself. We are living through a very challenging time and we may stray from our healthy eating habits some, but don’t beat yourself up about it.
The less junk you keep in your house, the less likely you are to eat it. It’s ok to have some treats, but if you don’t buy them, you won’t eat them.
Most of the world is practicing social distancing and working from home, how important is it to hydrate while doing so?
Hydration is always important no matter if you work from home or not. My secret tip is to drink a full glass of water when you wake up even before you drink your coffee. This gets you started on the right foot.
What are 3 at-home x kitchen must haves for people practicing social distancing?
I love an Instant Pot for the variety of things you can cook and there are so many recipes available. I also love my Le Creuset dutch oven and KitchenAid mixer. All three of those products make food preparation and cooking at home easy and fun.
What are 5 ‘must stock’ foods each of our readers should stock up on from the grocery store during social distancing?
Canned beans, canned tomatoes, tuna in cans or packages, instant brown rice, and quinoa or your pantry. All of these options are convenient, healthy, and inexpensive. Obviously you should have fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein options in your refrigerator and freezer.
What are some ways to boost your immunity amid the coronavirus outbreak?
Fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C like tomatoes, citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries. Physical activity also helps boost your immune system.
Any at-home detox recipes or secrets?
You really don’t need to do any type of detox. Your body is actually really good at detoxifying itself. However, fiber is important for keeping things moving through your digestive tract and keeping us regular.
What is your favorite quarantine snack?
I have to admit, my quarantine snacks have not been great, so that’s something I could work on. My favorite snack in general is homemade peanut butter energy balls.
What’s one simple plant-based dish our readers can recreate at home, less than 30 minutes and eat multiple times throughout the week?
I have been eating tempeh more lately. It’s a soy product, can be cooked multiple ways, and takes on the flavor of whatever you marinade it in or whatever sauce you use. Pair that with some frozen vegetables, baked potato, brown rice, and/or quinoa and you’ve got a great and easy meal.
Plant based living is becoming more and more popular. When eating a mostly plant based / vegetarian diet, are there certain foods to focus on to make sure we’re getting enough nutrients and protein?
Protein is a big one for vegetarians, so the soy protein options are great for this. I am really loving tempeh right now. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy to prepare, and takes on the flavor of whatever you are cooking.
Do you have any plant-based nutrition tips to fight coronavirus?
You can’t really fight coronavirus with nutrition unfortunately. You can boost your immune system by eating fruits and vegetables and exercising, but that won’t fight a virus.
Speaking of plant based, what are some of the benefits of drinking chlorophyll water / benefits of liquid chlorophyll?
It has been used as an internal deodorant and for wound healing for a number of years. There is some evidence that it might also be beneficial as an antioxidant and may block carcinogenic effects, but more research is needed to be sure of these benefits.
What’s one of your favorite organic/natural supplements or vitamins you recommended?
Vitamin D during the winter months if you don’t live in the southern United States and fish oil if you don’t eat at least two servings of fish a week.
What are three things you are most grateful for during these uncertain times?
Technology that has allowed many of us to continue with work and socializing, just in a different way than we are used to.
Exercise and physical activity for stress management and to get myself out of the house for some fresh air.
A good support system of friends and family that helps me remember what’s important in life.
During these uncertain times how do you stay positive? What’s your secret?
I don’t think it’s a secret, but we should also try to think about what we are grateful for and what we are thankful for. Sometimes it’s very difficult during tough times, but there is always something to be happy about, even if it’s something small.
Any self-care, self-care or self-development tips for our readers?
I think physical activity is a great form of self-care, whether it’s just a simple walk around the block or a yoga video on YouTube.
Any favorite health / nutrition podcasts or books you recommend to our readers?
I’m not big on podcasts, but I love the book Run Fast, Eat Slow by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. I am definitely not a fast runner myself, but I enjoyed the book and the recipes.
Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Facebook, etc)
IG - azdmelissa
Anything else you want to add? Any other health, wellness or nutrition tips?
If nothing else, hopefully we have all learned how important washing our hands is now. Not only to prevent COVID-19, but also to prevent many other illnesses.