Wine or a Brownie?

As a Registered Dietitian I am constantly asked questions about nutrition and I think many of you probably share similar questions so here is the latest one: “What is a better cheat day choice? A glass of wine or a brownie?”


First things first, I don’t believe in cheat days. I think every day you should try your best to make a majority (about 80%) of your food choices healthy, but if I had to answer this is what I’d say:

You’ve been eating healthy, following a meal plan, exercising regularly, and feeling awesome but then… you go to a party and there is unlimited amounts of wine and brownies for dessert. So which do you choose? Which choice would be the somewhat better option for your cheat day? As a Registered Dietitian aware of the heart healthy benefits of a 5oz glass of wine per day, I would have to say that wine is a better choice. Of course like any decision it is most dependent on the person, but if the options truly are a 5oz glass of wine versus one brownie, then the answer is wine. Why? Brownies can be prepared in multiple different ways; was it made with sugar? how much butter? all purpose flour? All of these factors can vary the nutrition composition drastically. However, a glass of wine is just wine, so therefore it will be approximately 120 calories; where as a brownie can range anywhere from 150-400 calories dependent on the size and ingredients. Regardless, the most important question to ask yourself is this: Can you have just one? If one glass of wine makes your will power and self control go out the window then you may want to reconsider and choose the brownie.  

Hang tight for my post about the 80/20 rule when making the best food choices to help you stick to a healthy lifestyle rather than a diet plan.

*Post coming soon*

Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers



Makes 6 servings


  • 6 poblano peppers, washed, sliced in half (lengthwise), de-seeded
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium sized tomato, washed cut and chopped
  • 1 (15oz) can of corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15oz) can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp black ground pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Place vegetable broth in a medium sized sauce pan and bring to boil. Add rice, reduce to simmer for about 30 minutes (don’t cook all of the way because the moisture will get absorbed when baked in the oven.)
  3. Place 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat, saute garlic until fragrant, add chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 3 minutes then add corn and kidney beans. Cook for another 3 more minutes then turn off heat.
  4. When rice is done being cooked, add vegetable mix and remaining olive oil.
  5. Place pepper halves in a non-stick baking pan. Divide rice and vegetable mixture into each pepper, sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!


Getting Motivated & Staying Motivated in your Workout Routines!

Are you a gym rat one week and a couch potato the next? If so you are not alone. A lot of people who are new to exercise start out strong in the beginning and eventually work out less and less as time goes on. This usually happens due to a number of reasons:

  1. Sore muscles and fatigue. When your body is not used to moving and pushing so hard it will feel sore and achy. Without proper rest, nutrition, and hydration eventually your body quits because it has been pushed to its limit and has had enough!
  2. Boredom. If you’re wondering what to make for dinner or what you’re going to do after work in the middle of your workout then it may be time to switch up your routine.
  3. Not seeing results. The expectation to see a significant change in body weight in 2 weeks time is not realistic. Pay more attention to the way you feel and if the result is positive (like feeling energized and strong) then use that as a reason to continue.
  4. Life. Sometimes as much as we try to put ourselves first, work, family, and friends can stand in our way. Are the people you associate with supporting you or draining you? It may be time to move yourself up on the priority list because your health and happiness is just as important as theirs!

I could go on and on about the barriers to exercise, but instead of giving you more reasons why its hard to stick to an exercise plan, I rather give you 8 reasons about how you can:

  1. Make a date. Schedule your exercise times like you schedule going to school, work, or a doctor’s appointment. When you set the days and times for the week you are twice as likely to get there.
  2. Be realistic. With that being said (scheduling your workouts), be honest with yourself. If you know that you are not a morning person then don’t plan on taking the 5AM spin class. Instead look for times that work best for you. For example, if you get out of work at 5PM, then a 6PM spin class might be more achievable.
  3. Dress the part. Exercise is best in athletic clothing, socks, and sneakers. Oh and if you have long hair don’t forget your hair tie! Nothing is more annoying than sweaty hair dripping or slapping you in the face in the middle of burpees.
  4. Plan ahead. Going off of my tips about making a date, being realistic, and dressing the part; leave a spare gym bag in your car or locker so that you don’t have an excuse to stop home after work before your gym session. The chances of you wanting to go back out upon stoping hoping after work are slim to none so plan and prepare to go to the gym straight from work!
  5. Make an awesome playlist. It may be time to update your iTunes or Music library with whatever songs make you feel pumped up and energized. If you don’t download music try different Pandora stations or YouTube channels.
  6. Get a fitness app. Some people use a FitBit to track their steps or heart beat and others use smart phone apps like Pacer. Whatever you choose, having an app to track your progress can be a useful tool in motivating you to push a little harder than you usually do.
  7. Change up your routine. If you’re getting bored or not seeing results it’s time for you to seek guidance from someone or something new. Try taking a new workout class, look up some ideas on YouTube or schedule an appointment with a personal trainer. Even if the class or training sessions are not something you see yourself committing to, you may learn something that you can apply to your fitness regimen!


8. Be clear about your goals. We often “fall off” or “fall behind” because we have lost sight of why we started in the first place. Exercise is important and should be a part of most individuals lifestyle however the amount, time, and energy to put in is up to you. Are you trying to look good in your clothes? Are you trying to prevent or treat a chronic illness? Maybe you just like to feel good and exercising makes you happy. Whatever the reason is, it is important to define and get clear about WHY it is most important to you. When you know why, remind yourself of why. Why did you get started? Why do you want to continue? What will happen if you don’t? When you know why then update your goals and develop a appropriate plans and strategies about HOW you are going to get there.

The recap: If you are new to exercise start slow. There’s no need to push your body to the point of exhaustion. First, get into the habit of exercising consistently; i.e. going to the gym three times per week for about 3 weeks. Once you’ve mastered that task then begin to explore new routines or possibly add another day of exercise to your weekly schedule. Keep in mind that small progress is still progress and if anything sometimes the best progress! Committing to a healthy lifestyle can be challenging, but the benefits are outstanding and eventually those “challenges” become a part of the triumphant soldier that you are.


Beauty in Simplicity


In the era of the “foodie” we get caught up in eating the next blog worthy dish, however some of the most simple dishes provide the most nutrition. Take the picture above as an example: mini red and orange bell peppers. One ingredient, no additives, nothing artificial, just peppers. Although the description may sound boring this food is jam packed with excitement. One cup of red and orange bell peppers contains over 115mg of vitamin c; double the amount found in a small orange. When looking for a light, sweet, and crunchy snack or salad topper, add some sliced bell peppers!

Regardless of what you’re choosing to eat remember the ingredient list. Can you read it? Can you pronounce each word? Was the ingredient made in a lab? Today’s fast paced, world is all about eating quickly and on-the-go which makes it challenging to consume 100% fresh, no preservative ingredients. Although it is safe to consume small amounts of preservatives and additives it is important to ask yourself just how much of your diet is truly real food. When you stop and think back on your usual day-to-day, week-to-week diet and realize that more than 50% of what you eat comes in the form of processed foods your health might be in jeopardy. When at least 75% of the diet consists of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds, and whole grains, your risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cancer goes down significantly.

So the next time you are thinking of going out to eat or grabbing the complete dinner meal that looks and smells so good, stop and ask yourself if this is something you can prepare on your own. If the answer is yes then stop yourself from making that impulse decision and go home instead. When you get there have some fun and make a ton! Whatever you don’t eat place in a tightly sealed container, consume within 3 days or freeze for another week you find yourself with little time to prepare a meal. Cooking at home is a great way to control portion sizes, money spent, and most importantly the ingredient list.

Dining Smarter


Vegetable Fajita

When dining out to eat we are often tempted by the mouthwatering menu and are quick to make decisions with our eyes rather than our minds. The weekend might be a difficult time for you to stay on your diet plan. During the week we have a schedule, but on the weekend it’s fair game, anything goes…or so we think. Going off your healthy eating plan every weekend is what we call “Yo-Yo dieting”. Yo-Yo dieting can contribute to those awful feelings of disappointment, sluggishness, and self-doubt. In order to be successful in achieving your health goals  you need to be consistent and make healthy choices every day. We are not perfect however one mess up should not lead to another, in fact that little slip up should motivate you to get back on track.

So what do you do when your friends want to go out to eat at your favorite restaurant that you’re used to ordering that juicy bacon cheeseburger from?

You have two options, one, suggest another restaurant because even if you  plan on ordering something else the pure torture just isn’t worth it or two, commit to the challenge! Before you go to the restaurant review the menu and decide on a healthier choice. When you sit down to eat and the wait staff comes to take your order, order first before anybody has the chance to change your mind by requesting the meal you’ve been drooling for. I know what you’re thinking.. how boring! But the feeling you get when you finally get through the meal and realize that is wasn’t so bad is exactly the feeling you’ve been looking for. Eating healthy is not so much a choice but a learned behavior. Like all other habits, it takes time to break your negative tendencies and time to build the positive ones. Nothing can happen over night but with the right mind set you will be sure to reach your goals sooner rather than later!

Here are some other helpful tips for dining out to eat:

  • Skip the appetizer if you’re getting an entree/order from the appetizer list for your meal
  • Split your entree in half, share with someone/take half home for lunch the next day!
  • Say you’re too full to order dessert, order coffee/tea instead
  • Drink water. Limit sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages to 1 or none
  • Swap fries/unhealthy sides for a baked potato, steamed veggies, or lettuce and tomato



*If you are interested in one-on-one diet counseling and want a personalized meal plan to meet your needs, e-mail me at I would be happy to assist you!*



success quoe

How To Be Successful…A Little Insight

Toni A. Marinucci, MS, RDN

If you were to ask a group of people what their future goals are most would respond that they want to be successful in some way. The best way to predict those who will actually reach their goals versus not are those that have a plan: a plan that starts now. The quote posted above states it perfectly: “Success will never be a big step in the future; success is a small step taken just now.” It’s more simple than you think. The small steps we take day to day are what will predict our future. Do you get enough sleep at night? Do you spend most of your day being productive? Do you manage your stress in healthy ways? What are you doing today that is going to help make your dream a reality?

Regardless of your habits, keep in mind that the road to success is never a straight line. Be thankful for the struggle and challenges that stand in your way for they are meant to test you and push you to work harder. Sweat and tears throughout your journey are what make the feeling of accomplishment so triumphant, so worth it. Prioritize, focus, and don’t give up.

Each and every one of us is different and has the ability to be successful in our own way. There’s not one diet, one exercise program, or one piece of advice that is going to help you reach your goals. Just because something worked well for me does not mean it will work well for you. The advice and recipes that I post are not meant to be mirrored completely. They are simply my way of showing you what has been helpful to me with hopes that it will provide you with some suggestions and guidelines to better assist you. My vision is to inspire you, not control you.

Let me help you be successful. Let’s work together to develop a plan that works for YOU and only you and/or your family. For more information about how I can make your dream develop into a happy and healthy reality, fill out the contact form below or refer to my services tab. Thank you!

Thanksgiving: The Beginning


Don’t let this one day of drinking and eating fool you. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to start your diet or what I like to call, new lifestyle. Many of you are probably reading this and thinking, “is she crazy?”…but the truth is if you can be successful today then you will be successful any other day.

Although we all like to think Thanksgiving is just one day to indulge, the reality is that Thanksgiving is the kick off to the holiday season. This one day turns into multiple days of holiday parties surrounded by festive drinks and treats through January.

My only advice to you today is, be mindful. Mindful eating has shown to help people lose weight, prevent and better manage chronic diseases (Today’s Dietitian: Mindful Eating) . Many of us may know what to do but are not motivated to do it. Being mindful does not take much: all you need to do is choose the better choice when faced with a healthy vs less healthy decision. For example, today fill your plate with mostly vegetables, eat the white meat of the turkey instead of the dark meat, limit yourself to one plate, drink water, and try having fruit for dessert with maybe just a bite of your favorite pie.

Keep in mind the real meaning behind Thanksgiving: a time to pause and reflect on how much there is to be greatful for. Count your blessing and kick off the holiday season with the right mindset. Enjoy!