As we say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016, this is a great time to set some new goals for yourself. No matter what your health and nutrition resolutions are this year, Family Food is here to help. Our team of nutrition experts can help give you the tools you need to succeed. You may be eligible for up to 6 nutrition counseling sessions for free! From in home, at work or even online, our team of dietitian nutritionists are qualified to help.

Take note that if you used our services last year, your sessions start off fresh as of January 1st. Most insurances are accepted. Contact us to find out more. Thanks for an amazing 2015 and best wishes to you all in this new year!

The new year usually marks a time for new goals and resolutions. Many resolutions tend to involve health such as exercise more, eating healthier or maybe quitting smoking. It is great to have an idea of your long term goals for the year, but what small steps can you take to get there? We have asked our Family Food dietitians for their advice on setting goals and meeting resolutions this year.

Make SMART goals for the New Year:

1. Specific. It is better to make specific goals versus general goals. An example of a general goal might be: “I want to eat healthier this year” or “I want to get in better shape.”
2. Measurable. Making measurable goals ensures you have specific criteria established for achieving the goal. Include a quantitative measurement when possible.
3. Attainable. The goal should challenge you a little without making you feel overwhelmed or being too difficult to achieve.
4. Realistic. Make goals realistic by setting an objective that you are capable of doing and willing to work towards!
5. Timely.  Provide a time frame to achieve the goal. Instead of “this year” or “someday” set a specific date such as by May 31st. This can also help you stay on track 🙂
SMART goal example: My goal is to join the gym this weekend and go three days a week to work out.

Stephanie Biggs, RD, LDN, CLC

I like to identify the overall long term goal, then develop short term goals to support it. For example, losing 20 lbs by the summer might be the overall goal and the short term goal to support it would be, exercising twice a week for 20 minutes over the next month. Starting off small and breaking these goals down into smaller “bites” can help to make things more manageable and realistic. Also, don’t get down on yourself if you don’t meet your goals. Just be sure to get back on track when possible. Remember that the journey is the reward.

Anthony Tassoni, RD, LDN

I also love the SMART goals approach and use that often with clients. I also like to mention to clients that lifestyle changes are not “all or nothing” things. Many people feel that if they do not go to the gym or do some other program for an hour every day, that it is not worth doing and therefore they never start. I talk to these clients about “exercise snacks” – and how fitting in 10 minutes here, 10 minutes later and then 10 minutes later still, adds up to 30 minutes at the end of the day and that still counts toward your goal.(It is also perhaps 30 minutes more than you did yesterday.) And as for nutrition goals, some clients feel that if they have gone off track at breakfast, then the whole day is off track. I always remind them that the beautiful thing about food is that we eat several times a day so that if breakfast goes off-track, we get to make a different choice and get back on track next time we eat.

Another great tip is that I like “tagging” for helping a new goal or lifestyle change stick. Think of the new behavior you would like to develop and “tag” it to something you already do. Such as, if my goal is to eat two pieces of fruit every day, place the fruit next to the coffee pot because I already drink coffee every morning – I grab my coffee and the fruit as I head out the door every day. Or, if I like to watch some news program or entertainment show every evening after work, I “tag” my goal to walk on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes to watching that show every night and I am meeting that goal while doing what I already like to do.

Stefanie Williams, RD, LDN

When creating SMART goals, constantly ask yourself questions (HOW? WHEN? HOW MANY DAYS PER WEEK, etc.) to make the goal as specific as you can so there is structure and no gray area.

Over the past month, I have heard many clients say “I might”, “If I have time I will”, “Maybe I will” start going to the gym after work or eating fruit after dinner instead of ice cream. I quickly respond with changing their statements to “You will”.

Start your statements with “I will” (Ex: I will eat a green vegetable every day, I will walk for 15 minutes during my lunch break) to commit to making healthy changes NOW rather than LATER. If you aren’t certain you will meet the goal then it is not an appropriate SMART goal for you. Makes goals that you will commit to, but at the same time are still a challenge and will help you reach your long term health goals.

In addition to SMART goals, I like doing trying at least 1 new thing every year to create variety in my exercise and diet. Ex: Take a barre method class for the first time, sign up for the zumba class everyone at the gym raves about, go for walk on a different trail than you usually do, make a smoothie with green leafy vegetables, order sushi with brown rice vs. white rice, buy low sodium soups and canned beans, make a batch of chicken noodle soup and freezing it into indv. containers instead of buying it, learn how to open a pomegranate.

Alyson Heller, MS, RDN, LDN, ACSM

In addition to regular follow ups with Family Food RD’s, I always encourage clients to utilize a tool that will help keep them accountable on a day to day basis. While this is different for everyone, many choose to keep a food journal (using an app such as My Fitness Pal, or just old fashioned pen and paper). It is important to reflect on each day to note what was done well, and what are areas for improvement for the next day. Another effective method is having a support system (a friend or a support group) with whom you share similar goals and can report to. Many people don’t realize how well they are doing with small changes until they hear themselves say it, or see it written down, and that is important for motivation to continue with healthy lifestyle changes!

Emma Donnelly, MA, RD, LDN

The much anticipated 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans has finally been released. These guidelines are designed to give Americans recommendations on making the best choices for their health. According to health.gov, “Every 5 years, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and of Agriculture (USDA) must jointly publish a report containing nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public…based on the preponderance of current scientific and medical knowledge.” Basically, the guidelines are updated every 5 years to give us the best recommendations based off of the latest scientific evidence.

There is a lot to digest in this latest update, but here are the Key Recommendations:

Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
    Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium

Key Recommendations that are quantitative are provided for several components of the diet that should be limited. These components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

You will notice a few changes from recent recommendations. First off, there is less of an emphasis on focusing on single nutrients and more of an emphasis on overall eating patterns. This makes a lot more sense because we typically eat an amalgamation of different foods, not just single nutrients.

Second, there is no recommendation on limiting dietary cholesterol. This represents a shift in science that dietary cholesterol may not be as big of a factor as we once though for preventing heart disease. Instead, we should be focusing on reducing refined carbohydrates and added sugars in our diet. The recommendation now is to consume less than 10 percent of calories from added sugars each day, which would be about 12.5 tsp or 200 calories worth of added sugars. The American Heart Association suggests stricter guidelines of less than 6 tsp for women (about 100 calories) and less than 9 tsp for men (about 150 calories). To put things in perspective, 1 teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to one packet of sugar and there are about 16 tsp of sugar in one 20oz bottle of coca cola, which is about 240 calories worth of pure sugar, well above the recommendations.

As dietitians and members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, we agree with these recommendations and feel that they are a good set of guidelines for Americans. Some other things to consider would be to include more plant based proteins in favor of animal proteins and choose more sustainably grown foods.

Have more questions? Feel like you can use these guidelines to start making changes, but need further advice? Contact Family Food and set up a free nutrition counseling session today!

You may be aware of the health benefits of butternut squash and pumpkin but have you ever had them together? Their flavors compliment each other nicely and together, they provide a powerful 1-2 punch of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

This Winter Squash Soup is a great recipe to make during the cold months. The pumpkin puree thickens up the soup nicely and adds a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. The original recipe called for a cup of half and half, but we swapped it out with low fat milk and didn’t notice much of a difference and still provided some body to the soup as well as a little creaminess. Feel free to use frozen chopped butternut squash to make this dish even easier. Enjoy this soup guilt free on its own or top with a splash of hot sauce, a couple of croutons or a shaving of cheese.

Winter Squash Soup


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 (15 – ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat milk

Heat the butter and oil in a large pot, add the onions, and cook over medium – low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the pumpkin puree, butternut squash, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium – low heat for about 20 minutes, until the butternut squash is very tender. Use an immersion stick blender and process soup into a puree, but BE CAREFUL! As soup will be very hot and content may splash. Turn down the heat and slowly add in milk. Serve with a little gruyere cheese or a handful of croutons on top and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from