Pass the bread; I’m not a glutard.

{Skip the foreplay and head straight to the black bean-sweet potato soup recipe that pairs oh-so-well with a crusty piece of glutenous bread.}

My college swim coach was always encouraging our team to go see a sports nutritionist.  He knew that nutrition was a critical element in our training.  Brief pause right here: HE WAS SO RIGHT.  I don’t generally like to play the what if game because I find it gets me into trouble, but the more I learn, the more I can’t help but wonder what if.  What if  I had realized the importance of nutrition and had made sure that I was properly fueled when I was swimming?  How much faster could I have been?  Would I have been able to recover in between workouts and after meets faster?  Would I have felt better?  Been stronger?  If you’re reading this and training for anything I STRONGLY urge you to consider the role nutrition could play in your performance.

But to continue my glutard story: In the Fall of 2011 I went to see a dietitian who specialized in sports nutrition.  The appointment was similar to going to the doctor–I filled out a form with my medical history and checked boxes next to symptoms I was currently experiencing.  But, instead of taking my weight and height (actually she never even measured me, just asked me how tall I was), the registered dietitian determined my body composition with a Bod Pod and measured my metabolic rate with a Medgem indirect calorimeter. She also had me tell her what I typically ate in a day.  The big take-away she gave me from my appointment was that I likely had celiac disease or a wheat intolerance and should stop eating gluten for 6 weeks to see if I felt any better.  She said that if I was going to see a difference, I would see it in 4 -6 weeks.  Not really sure how to avoid gluten because, as she told me, it’s in practically everything I was eating, I pony-uped the extra hundred and something dollars (okay, my parents did) for her personalized meal plan….which, I was very disappointed to find, ended up not being very personalized.  After following it for two days, I couldn’t deal.  I went online.  My mom went online. And we figured out what I needed to avoid and what foods I could have, and how I was realistically going to do this.

The first week was really hard.  I was kind of scared to eat and was extremely cautious about what went into my mouth.  Even so, I sometimes slipped up and would realize after I had eaten something, that it actually had wheat in it.  Did I need to avoid food that didn’t contain gluten itself but was manufactured in a place that also made food that did contain gluten?  How big a deal was this cross-contamination thing? Did I need to stop sharing peanut butter with my roommates because the knife they used to scoop out the peanut butter might have also touched a piece of bread?  It was SO confusing.  I ended up just avoiding most processed  and shared food.  I began baking gluten-free bread.  Which is not the same thing.  At all.  But can be tasty, as long as you don’t think of it as bread.

My roommates were incredibly supportive and nice as I went through this process.  I don’t think I ever thanked them.  But, if you’re reading now, thanks guys!  You really were so great.  One of the most difficult parts about not eating gluten is dealing with social situations and you guys helped alleviate a lot of that stress for me by being so accommodating and supportive.  My now brother-and-law, on the other hand, called me a glutard.  My sister scolded him.  I wanted to be offended, but I was laughing, so that just wouldn’t have come across very genuinely… Continue reading “Pass the bread; I’m not a glutard.”


Super bowl….of soup!!!

{skip the foreplay and head straight to the roasted butternut squash soup recipe}

As we all prepare for this upcoming Sunday evening with Tom Brady, I want to encourage you to think about serving this truly SUPER BOWL of soup during the game! Delicious sunshine in a bowl, this soup only has 1 gram of saturated fat and less than 200 calories per serving**, but that’s not the only reason why it’s perfect for the game:

IMG_2345Vitamin A

Why it’s important: Eyesight (particularly night vision), immune function, gene expression, fetal development, red blood cell production

How much we need per day* (males/females): 900 µg/700 µg

Amount in a serving of this soup**: 1052 µg

(Some other good sources: Sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe, spinach, kale, collard greens)

bottom line: you’ll still be able to see Tom–even if the lights go out

Vitamin C

Why it’s important: Wound healing, resistance to infection, antioxidant

How much we need per day* (males/females): 90 mg/75 mg

Amount in a serving of this soup**: 35 mg

(Some other good sources: Citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, tomatoes, sweet red peppers, broccoli)

bottom line: you can offer Tom a bowl if he gets scraped up during the game



Why it’s important: Oxygen transport, infection resistance, DNA synthesis

How much we need per day* (males/females): 8 mg/18mg***

Amount in a serving of this soup**: 2 mg

(Some other good sources: Oysters, beef, lentils, tofu, chicken, kidney beans, potatoes with skin)

Eating vitamin C with iron helps increase the bioavailability of iron, or how well the body is able to actually use the iron that is taken in. Oh, and look at that; this SUPER BOWL of soup has both!

bottom line: Tom is hot.  Iron will help you catch your breath.


Why it’s important: Nerve impulse transmission & muscle contractions, energy production, DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis

How much we need per day* (males/females): 420 mg/320 mg

Amount in a serving of this soup**: 59 mg

(Some other good sources: Brown rice, spinach, almonds, lima beans, peanuts, swiss chard)

bottom line: you need your heart to be able to contract when it drops every time Tom is on the field

Here’s to hoping the Patriots are on offense most of the game! Happy Super Bowl everyone!


Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

  • Servings: 5 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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roughly 24 oz prepackaged butternut squash cubes or a 1.5-2 lb whole squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced (~1 clove)
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small apple, peeled and chopped OR 1/3 cup applesauce
2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons ground ginger
32 fl oz box chicken or vegetable stock (~4 cups)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Roast the Squash:
–Preheat oven to 400°F.
–Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

If you bought a whole butternut squash:
a. Wash squash.
b. Cut squash in half and remove seeds and stringy bits (you can save the seeds to roast later if you’d like or just toss)
c. On the inside, flesh side of each half of squash, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Rub olive oil and s&p into the squash a little, making sure the oil covers all of the squash.
d. Place on baking sheet inside/flesh side down and place in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes or until the squash is soft. (you can put the squash in before the oven is preheated)
e.  Allow the squash to cool until you can touch it and scoop the flesh out of the squash and into your soup pot and mix.

If you used pre-packaged squash:
a. Place on prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix, so all sides of the squash cubes are coated.
b. Roast for 30 minutes or until the squash cubes are soft and slightly browned. (you don’t have to wait until your oven is preheated to start roasting)
c. Add roasted squash to your soup pot and mix.

2. While the squash is roasting, chop the rest of the ingredients.  Add the olive oil to large soup pot and heat on medium-high.  Add garlic, onion, carrots, and if using apple (not applesauce) add apple.  Cook until the onion is translucent.
3. Add chicken stock, thyme, and applesauce if you used that instead of the apple.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, continuing to cook until carrots are soft and your squash is roasted.
4. Once squash is roasted and mixed with the rest of the soup, use either an immersion blender to blend the soup right there in the pot, or divide the soup into batches and use a blender.
5. TASTE!  Add salt and pepper as you’d like…I ended up adding probably a teaspoon or so of each.
6. Garnish with toasted almonds and extra fresh thyme.  Enjoy!

*These amounts are the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). This is the average daily dietary intake amount of a particular nutrient recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (in 2001) to ensure adequate stores of the nutrient for proper body function in a healthy person. (see a full RDA chart here)
**Recipe nutrition facts from USDA (
***18 mg for pre-menopausal women is recommended and 8 mg for post-menopausal women is recommended.

Source: Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute (