Kitchen Makeover

If a food is in your possession or located in your residence, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it. – John Berardi

What does that mean for you and I? This means that we should keep food on hand that we want to eat, or want our families to eat, to nourish our bodies and reach our goals whether that be fat loss, muscle gain, overall health and wellness, or anything between.

We make over 250 food decisions a day.  Most of them are automatic.  We don’t even think about it.  We just grab the food and eat.  It’s harder to make healthy decisions when we’re tired, hungry and don’t have the right tools.  If we’re walking past the break room and there’s a box of donuts we may just grab one, without much thought.  If we’re at the bar with friends and there is a big plate of nachos in the middle of the table, we’re probably going to mindlessly eat them.  If our fridge is stocked with pre-washed and chopped produce and lean protein it’s going to be easier to cook up a quick healthy dinner after a long day of work.

A kitchen makeover helps you do this.  It helps you get rid of food that has little nutritional value, food that triggers unhealthy eating habits, food that sabotages your goals.  A kitchen makeover helps you make better choices.  It helps teach you how to fill your kitchen with more nutritious foods to keep you feeling in control and on track.

A kitchen makeover consists of a few basic parts:

  • Get rid of low-quality foods and ingredients
  • Restock with higher quality foods and ingredients
  • Equip your kitchen with the right tools
  • Basic cooking and meal prep

A healthy kitchen is the start of a healthy home.  It may seem overwhelming at first and you may encounter some resistance from yourself and from your family.  Remember, healthy doesn’t have to mean boring or tasteless.  Make these changes as a family, as a lifestyle, and see how much better you feel!

DO you need help making over your kitchen?  Contact me for information on how I can help you!


Fun in the kitchen

This weekend was chilly so I decided to whip up a batch of chili for the week.  I have a recipe for turkey chili from an old Weight Watchers cookbook that I have been making for years and keep tweaking and modifying to fit my preferences. 20161031_150658

You’ll notice it is bean free.  I made it with beans for years until I discovered my body really doesn’t like legumes. The original recipe called for ground turkey.  Turkey is great in this but grass fed beef has so much more flavor so I’ve been switching it up. I also add carrots which seems random but they add a nice sweetness. I make my own spice blend with traditional chili, paprika and cumin but add some cinnamon and cocoa.  They add a depth of flavor that you can’t quite put your finger on but I think make this chili special.  I personally like my chili thick so I usually only add the tomatoes and a bit of sauce, if you like it thinner add some stock.

20161031_14464920161031_15003820161031_15020020161031_14575920161031_150635 Serve it with the toppings of your choice.  I like some fresh avocado and a few tortilla chips.  My mom likes to add rice,  wrap it up in corn tortillas and eat it like tacos.  My husband prefers cheese and uses  tortilla chip scoops to eat it with.  Feel free to get creative.  Here’s my latest incarnation let me know how you like it!




  • 1 pound grass fed ground beef  (you can use turkey, I just like beef better)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 1 cup frozen cut carrots (or cut up fresh, whatever is easier)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I use fire roasted, for more heat use diced with green chilies)
  • 1 – 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • garlic powder to taste


Heat dutch oven or stock pan on medium high, add oil, saute onion until soft, add beef and cook through, add spices, let combine and toast for a minute or two, add sauce and tomatoes, add pepper and carrots, if mixture is too thick add up to 1c chicken, beef or veggie stock. Simmer and enjoy.



The best laid plans

Sometimes things don’t go quite according to plan.  I’ve been training for the White Mountain Milers half marathon for the past few months. (Side note, this is a great race.  beautiful, well organized, nice shirts and medals)  Last year I ran this toward the end of my marathon training and PRd my half marathon by about 15 minutes.  Now, I’m not exactly fast, but it was still pretty exciting for me to take over a minute off my mile and really enjoy the race.  I had hopes of beating last year’s time, or at least matching it.  But then I got injured. And then I got sick.  For two weeks I didn’t run at all.  When it was time to head up north for the race Friday, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to run.  The race director was nice enough to allow me to switch into the half relay or the 5k.  On Saturday I decided I would try to run half of the half and my good friend and I swapped out our individual half marathon bibs for a relay team.  Sunday was cold and windy but the sky was blue and the sun was shining.

Starting line at Conway Scenic Railroad
And they’re off!

Michelle led off.  She ran a good pace and I was feeling ready when I took off.  Those first two miles were tough.  My lungs struggled to keep up and my legs were tired.  I was doubtful I was going to finish.  But as I ran through the pastures by farms and horses, I settled into a rhythm. The cobwebs cleared, my lungs opened up, and my sore hip stayed strong.

Leg 1 (photo credit Michelle Tortora)
Over the covered bridge on Leg 1 (photo credit Michelle Tortora)
Leg 2

I crossed the finish line just 3 minutes slower than last year despite all of the doubt, uncertainty and pain.  It wasn’t the race I planned, it wasn’t the race I trained for, but in the end I listened to my body and ran my best race.  I have no regrets about my decision to switch races. I was able to finish strong and not cause further injury and we’ve already got another race lined up for Spring to work toward.  So, something things don’t go quite according to plan, but they turn out just fine in the end.

Here I am crossing the finish line feeling good (photo credit Michelle Tortora)


5 Things You May Not Know About Me

I realized recently that a lot of people know me as a a social worker but not everyone knows me as a nutrition coach.  I’ve been a social worker a lot longer, but both are important to who I am and what I do.  Let me take a minute to tell you a few things about Kristen, the Nutrition Coach.

  1. By trade I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).  I have practiced Social Work since 2001 and have been in private practice since 2010.  As a social worker, I have worked with disordered eating; body image issues; overweight and obese clients; underweight clients; clients who cant eat or eat too much due to medical, psychological or medication issues; clients who emotionally eat; clients who have food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances; clients who have behavioral reactions to food; clients who have food phobias; and clients who just don’t know how to eat.  Suffice it to say I have spent a lot of clinical time talking about eating.  This was the number one reason I decided to become a Nutrition Coach.
  2. I am a Level 1 Certified Nutrition Coach through Precision Nutrition and am currently working on completing my Level 2 certification.  While this is a web based certification it is highly respected in the health and fitness world.  PN is a very science based program that teaches it’s coaches cutting edge information as well as how to coach the whole person. It has taught me a lot about how the human body works and has blended well with my social work background.
  3. I am an avid runner.  If I’m not running, I will likely be walking, lifting, hiking, working with my amazing personal trainer or taking a class at the gym.  I like to be active.  Because of this I have a special interest in sports nutrition.  This is the second reason I wanted to become a Nutrition Coach.  I was spending a lot of time teaching myself how to fuel myself, why not learn for others as well?
  4. I’m not perfect.  I lost 30 pounds with the help of my trainer.  I gained some of it back.  I don’t have the perfect body.  I don’t eat a perfect diet.  Sometimes I feel like that might make people think I can’t help them.  But, I think that means I am the best person to help you.  I get it.  I know what it’s like to work hard and have the scale not move.  And I know why it may not be moving.  I have the resources and tools to figure it out.
  5. I am passionate about nutrition.  Well I am passionate about all things related to food really.  I love to grocery shop, to cook, to eat, and to do so in a healthy but delicious way.  I love my work as a Social Worker but over the past decade I have become so passionate about health and wellness.  What we put in our bodies is so important. I want to help teach as many people as I can how to be healthy, eat well, and live their best life!

en bonne sante,


Rest days and Recipes

I haven’t been able to work out much this week.  I have some ongoing issues with my hips and glutes and they had been doing fine but after 2 weeks off from work my body was unhappy to be sitting down all day again.  By last Thursday my body was tight and unhappy.  After a 10 mile run Saturday, it was reallllllyyyyy unhappy.  My hip was killing.  Finally today I went to see my massage and body work guy.  Turns out my glute is misfiring. Some exercises plus some massage and I should be good as new.  He’s a magician.  If you learn one thing today, it should be to get yourself a good massage therapist.  If you’re active you’re going to need it.  So, long story short, I took a lot of rest days this week.  Never underestimate the importance of rest.

Just because I was resting doesn’t mean I wasn’t focusing on my health.  I still walked every day and whipped up some healthy and yummy recipes.  Sometimes I get creative and make my own recipes and other times I rely on one of my favorite cook books or blogs.  This week I made a few recipes from Juli Bauer over at  I don’t eat strictly Paleo, I actually don’t follow any specific way of eating, but, Juli has some of the most amazing recipes I have every made.  This week I made her 5 Ingredient Butternut Squash & Sage Breakfast Casserole.  Do yourself a favor and make this.  Now.  And don’t buy store bought sausage, use Juli’s recipe and make your own breakfast sausage.  It was crazy easy and amazingly delicious.  I can’t wait to eat it again.  To make it easier, I bought pre-cut squash.  It roasted like a dream.  I also chose to make my sausage with chicken because I just don’t like pork.  Again, it was amazing, and wicked easy.  Try it.  You’ll love it.

Hopefully in another day or two I’ll be back to working out, but in the meantime I’ll be in the kitchen or on the massage table.

Rainy Sunday in the Kitchen

Apparently it’s been 3 months since my last post. Wow. I guess I’ve been a little busy and distracted.  I got married two weeks ago and wedding planning took over all my free time the past couple of months!  But, it was worth it.  I really wanted to enjoy every minute of being engaged and planning my wedding and I definitely did.  As for the wedding itself, it  was perfect.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day and all my planning paid off.  Everything turned out how I planned and everyone had an amazing time.  At the end of the night my mom started to clean up and I was standing in the middle of the dance floor looking around, soaking it all in, I didn’t want it to end!  After unplugging in the mountains for a week and spending a week getting caught up, I’m back!





Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I really wanted to do with this blog and my website and my health coaching business as a whole.  Health, both physical and emotional, is something I am passionate about.  My hope is that I can give you a peek into my world, my meals, my workouts, my hobbies and how I try to live my best life every day.  I hope you enjoy and I hope I can inspire you to live your best life.

So, how am I going to give your this peek into my world?  I thought I’d start with some recipes!  I love to cook.  I especially love to cook in the fall when I can spend the day making warm and cozy meals.  When I woke up to the sound of pouring rain this morning it seemed like a great day for pot roast especially since I had heirloom rainbow carrots just waiting to be roasted!  What better way to brighten a cold grey day than with a rich warm roast filled with rainbow carrots and potatoes?  I love these easy one pot recipes.  All I had to clean up was a cutting board, a knife, a plate and the dutch oven.  I hate dishes.  You can easily adapt it to use other veggies like parsnips or turnips or regular carrots.  You can use whatever potatoes you like or none at all.  you can mash potatoes and serve them on the side.  You can vary the spices.  Go crazy.  Make it your own. I adapted my recipe from one I found from The Pioneer Woman years ago.  Here’s my take:

Pot Roast


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 bunch rainbow carrots
  • 1 pound baby potatoes
  • 3-4 cups unsalted beef stock, divided
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • herbs de provence
  • 2-3 pound spoon roast


Preheat oven to 275.  Quarter onion, wash but dont’t peel carrots, chop carrots in chunks, wash and cut potatoes in halves or quarters depending on size. Heat olive oil in dutch oven on medium.  When oil is hot add onion, once onion is browned remove, add carrots and brown for 1-2 minutes, remove, season beef generously with salt, pepper and seasonings of choice (I love herbs de provence) and brown on all sides, remove roast, pour in 1 c beef stock and deglaze pan making sure to scrape up all the good bits, return beef and veggies to the pan, add 1 – 2 cups of broth, cover, put in over for 2-3 hours depending on size.  With a spoon roast, meat should be tender enough to cut with a spoon.  This time I used chuck roast which was a bit fattier and tougher to cut but still delicious.  Delicious enough that i forgot to take a picture of the final product before we devoured it!


Social worker, nutrition coach, Arbonne consultant?

Network marketing, MLM, pyramid scheme, call it what you will but you all know what I’m talking about.  I bet several companies came to mind.  Maybe one you’re a part of.  Or your friend is.  Maybe it evoked a strong feeling, probably negative, bringing back memories of home parties at your Aunt’s house or that pushy girl from high school.  Or maybe that’s just how I always felt.  Except, I started using some products and started seeing a real connection between what this company was promoting and what I was promoting as a health and nutrition coach.  See, I’m a picky consumer.  I don’t like things that don’t taste good, don’t feel good, and don’t have some actual solid benefits with science backing them up.  I’ve documented my issues with food sensitivities and my subsequent need to eliminate dairy.  What I didn’t realize initially was that no dairy meant I had to give up my beloved whey protein.  I work out a lot.  Using  a protein supplement has been a big part of my fitness journey.  Once I gave up the whey (which is dairy based) I started sampling vegan protein.  Let me tell you, that was a shock to my picky system.  They taste chalky.  They are clumpy.  They smell like grass.  Finally I tried one that I loved.  It just so happened that it was from a network marketing company.  I loved the taste, the texture and the ingredients.  My cynical point of view of the MLM world started to waver.  I did some research and reading.  It wavered some more.  I tried a few more products.  I tried to stop using my new favorite protein and quickly went back. Finally, I listened to the recruitment pitch.  I was sold.  These women truly believe in the company.  This company truly has a passion for healthy living.  The research is solid.  The ingredients are high quality.  I feel good using them.  And most important to me, I love the taste.  So, here I am a brand new Arbonne consultant.  Don’t rule something out just because it comes from a big company or a home sales company or because your frenemy from high school is selling it.  Do your own research.  Read.  Try.  Find what you like and what works for you.  everyone is different.  I am happy that I found a product that I believe in that fits my health and nutrition needs.  Want more info or have any questions?  Email me at