Fruits of Labor


In majority of the families that live in Romania, the older generation still lives in the country side, where as the younger, prefer the convenience of the city life.  Luckily for my husband’s family they have the luxury of having both.   We were lucky enough to arrive in Romania just in time to pick the season’s end of the fall harvest, at my father in law’s county home in Ghiorac, only a hour’s drive from the city.  It was a beautiful sight of dozens of plants still full of life to give.  We were able to harvest:  apples, green beans, carrots, green onions, grapes (for wine and to eat), walnuts, parsley, peppers (of many variety), just to name a few.  Leela absolutely loved it! She understood right away, anything we picked we could eat and she wanted to taste everything!! It was so awesome to taste fruit right from the limb/vine, knowing that we didn’t have to worry about scary pesticides, since Ioanchy only uses natural fertilizers and no pesticides.  My husband told me, it had become a fad for people to only by the “pretty fruit” from the farmer’s markets.  However, now people realize you want the fruits/vegetables that have been picked on by pests, since that means no pesticides were used vs no markings would mean the pests would not eat it, if it had been treated…A good note to think about.   Eat the ugly fruit!!


Each season the crops are rotated so that the soil is rich with nutrients from the previous harvest.  This is where big agriculture has been getting it wrong in order to produce food on a large scale, growing the same crops on the same fields.  But is it worth it if the food we believe to be nourishing our bodies with doesnt really provide any nourishment at all??  Then adding in the herbicides and pesticides along with it, no wonder cancer is on the rise, so people who try to eat right and by physcially active are still getting cancer.  This is why it is so important to know where your food is coming from and to buy local as much as possible to keep sustainability alive!  You can even try small and grow a few of your own plants, it can be fun for the whole family.


Off to Romania!


To all of my followers and fellow bloggers, my family and I have decided to take a trip to Romania to have an extended visit with my husband’s family.  We will be there for 6 months and then will see where life takes us after that.  Our plan for now, is to return to Lafayette, La but who knows!  Life is what happens while your busy making other plans.  So expect to see some exciting food from other cultures, I know I am!!




Comfort food!

While eating intuitively our body can ask for various different types of food.  Fat being one of them!!! My go to comfort food is “Cajun chicken alfredo” 🤤.  Packed with butter, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese, yes please! Now also we also mindfully eat, by eating according to hunger and don’t typically over eat, so this one high fat meal will not cause you to gain weight.  Now, you may want to keep eating just because it tastes soooo good! But just put the fork down once you’re satisfied.  I add a bit of green in mine to make it at least, a little healthy 😉.   Also I don’t like when people feel guilty over eating a high fat meal.  Our bodies need fat, our brains are made up of it and it’s one of our macronutrients (protein, fat & carbohydrate), these are essential for our bodies to function properly.  Nutrition experts recommend more monounsaturated fats(plant based) over saturated(animal fats) but everything in moderation and you’ll be fine. 

Here’s the recipe 

Ingredients: 1 pack of organic chicken thighs, 150g of shredded Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 stick of butter, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 3/4 lb of bow tie pasta, salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning (I use my mom’s, she makes her own). 


I cook my chicken breast before making my sauce so I can just throw in the chicken at the end. The sauce is temperamental, if you over heat it, it will start to break up. Season chicken with salt and Cajun seasoning, pan fry, cut up and set aside. 

Alfredo sauce: On medium heat, melt butter with heavy whipping cream, sauté for about 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add in minced garlic, sauté for a few minutes not to brown, constantly stirring.  Add in Parmesan cheese, stir until melted throughly.  Add in cooked pasta and chicken, stir all together.  I also steam broccoli and add in at the end as well.  Enjoy!!!  
To enjoy your leftovers, heat up a little heavy cream in a pan and add in the dish, this will help keep the fat from breaking up and you can enjoy it all over again!


Color me happy!!


I’m sure you’ve heard the term “eating the rainbow”.  The reason nutrition experts try to encourage this is because the more colorful your plate, typically the more nutritious it is as well.  We encourage you to eat at least half your plate of fruits and vegetables, a quarter of it protein and the other quarter carbohydrate and fat. The key here is to note that certain colors of food indicate an abundance of specific nutrients. For example, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (citrus fruits) are abundant in vitamins C and A. Green fruits and veggies (kale, spinach, asparagus, avocado) are high in vitamins K, B, and E. Purple produce on the other hand (eggplant, red cabbage, grapes) are high in vitamins C and K.

The majority of Americans tend to think the more protein “the better,” and will have the opposite plate with half the plate protein, a quarter veggie and a quarter carbohydrate.  The more veggies the better! Vegetables are low in calories but high in nutrients and seeing the variety of colors on our plate makes us happy!  There are actually a variety of plants that are great sources of protein, such as broccoli, a typical bunch, has about 17g of protein.  Proteins do not have to come from animal sources, plant-based sources are easier for humans to digest and better for over all health, while offering antioxidants and phytonutrients that help fight off cancerous cells.  Animal based proteins have been linked to increased cancer rates, type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.  So I dare you to try gain weight by eating mostly veggies…I bet you can’t do it:  all the while feeling better and happier.


This picture is from our grill, that we ate on for about 3 days! Mmmm


Achieving Umami

All great chefs aspire to achieve umami.  In order to achieve umami, we first need to know what it is.  The umami tastes has been around forever:

“It’s actually one of the five basic tastes, as are sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The umami taste is savory and is most often associated with meats such as cured ham, seafood including anchovies and dried bonito as well as tomatoes, mushrooms, and some cheeses. Would you know it if you tasted it, or would you just think that the dish had that “extra something”?  Literally translated, the Japanese word umami means “delicious taste” or “pleasant savory taste” and was coined by Professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908 when he discovered that monosodium glutamate, naturally present in some foods, reacts synergistically with some ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate. That sounds really scientific but what it basically means is that chemicals in some foods interact in a special way to really impress your taste buds. Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste difficult to describe. If a flavor had to be assigned to the term umami, it would be meaty and brothy with a tongue-coating savoriness that causes salivation.

Any cook or chef can achieve umami.  My husband and I believe I have achieved umami with my Mushroom Orzo Risotto dish. We literally had to stop ourselves from eating the whole thing, it was that good.  It is another dish of mine that I have altered from another recipe and made it my own:  Quick, easy, delicious and healthy.


Ingredients:  2 cups dried Orzo pasta, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 12oz sliced mushrooms, 1 medium onion, chopped, 4 cups of vegetable broth, 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, optional chopped parsley.

Directions:  Over medium heat in a large frying pan, add 2tbsp of olive oil with mushrooms, cook mushrooms at least 5 minutes then add in onion, stirring often, cook until onions become translucent but do not brown, season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat, add in one more tablespoon of olive oil and the 2 cups of dried orzo pasta.  Lightly cook, stirring often until pasta is light golden, about 2 minutes.  Slowly add in the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, continue to stir, add more broth when absorbed into pasta, simmer until pasta is tender to bite.  If mixture becomes too thick before pasta is done, add in a little more broth.  Stir in 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese, add more salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon risotto into wide bowls, sprinkle on top optional chopped parsley and more parmesan cheese to taste.  Devour!!!!



So…What do Dietitians eat?

It seems like clock work, every time I tell someone I am a Registered Dietitian, they ask, “So I bet you eat like really healthy huh”.  And my answer is, well most of the time but not always.  Most dietitians you meet are not perfect eaters.  We truly believe in everything in moderation.  I believe in intuitive eating, meaning eating what your body is telling you it needs, also when its hungry, not letting the clock tell you when its time to eat.  I also try to be a mindful eater, turning off all distractions, such as the TV, computer and putting away the cell phone.  We need to smell and taste our food slowly while enjoying every flavor.  When we do this, we are more in tune with our bodies, telling us when we have had enough.  We tend to be such in a rush to do everything, we scarf down our food, not giving it a chance to start digesting and tend to over eat because of it.

I am not a perfect eater but I aim to eat well at least 85% of the time.  I do not keep junk food in my house, such as chips, ice cream or sweets (exception being my husband’s chocolate).  I save those items if I am eating out, so that I have to go out and get them while not being easily accessed.  I choose to eat more vegetarian, my body likes it better that way.  The human body functions better with whole foods and a plant based diet.  This is easier to do than most people think it is, we just need a little guidance to get there sometimes.


This is one of my weekly dishes:  its low calorie,  fast, easy and delicious!  The recipe calls for 1 can of diced tomatoes, olive oil, crushed red pepper/salt, fresh minced garlic cloves, white wine and long pasta.  Directions:  On medium heat: 1 tbsp of olive oil with diced tomatoes.  Sauté until tomatoes start to crush, season with crushed red pepper and salt (to taste).  Add in minced garlic, sauté, stirring frequently, not to let the garlic brown (that will cause an unwanted nutty flavor).  Add in about 2oz of white wine, let it cook out while stirring frequently.  Add in cooked pasta of your choice, I prefer linguine or thin spaghetti with this dish, stir and serve hot!  Turn off all devices and enjoy with your friends or family.

It’s one of her favorites!



Yoga…My Zen


In this fast past world we live in, we need to take the time and slooowww down…We try to do so much, our minds become overwhelmed and have a hard time stopping, effecting our sleep and in time our health.  There is overwhelming evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of yoga and meditation.

“Recent studies in people with chronic low-back pain suggest that a carefully adapted set of yoga poses may help reduce pain and improve function (the ability to walk and move). Studies also suggest that practicing yoga (as well as other forms of regular exercise) might have other health benefits such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure, and may also help relieve anxiety and depression.

I have practiced yoga for several years but I have really noticed its effects of dealing with stress and anxiety during the past couple of months.  I had some recent life changes such as, becoming a stay at home mom and no longer having control over my household income.  Pretty stressful, when you have worked your whole life and have always been financially independent.   The stress was causing severe neck pain ( a common place where we carry stress) and I was having headaches almost daily.  I literally felt the pain disappear after one yoga session.  I have tried hot yoga before; I liked it because it allowed me to get a deeper stretch, however I’m not a fan of being that sweaty and having to lay in my own sweat…yuck!.  I have found a yoga series a really like through Amazon Prime Video. I also have a Rodney Yee-Am/PM yoga DVD.  There a literally thousands of free videos and apps out there for you to choose from, along with ones for purchase.  So you have no excuse, not to free your mind and start meditating, even if only for 5 minutes a day.


A little insight into intuitive/mindful eating

Shared from a fellow blogger


Intuitive eating is a philosophy that allows you to trust your own body and its hunger signals. It promotes a healthy attitude toward food and your body image. As children, we eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full.  At some point in our lives, we are drawn away from the natural way of eating. We start following fad diets and restrict ourselves from certain foods or food groups. This changes the way we look at food. We don’t instinctively eat when we are hungry; we eat when we are sad, bored or when something looks appetizing. Intuitive eating teaches us to trust ourselves and our choices.  It teaches us to eat when we are physically hungry, not when we emotionally crave something.

It may be hard to re-teach yourself to eat intuitively. An important factor is to implement mindfulness when you are eating and when you are not. This will help you avoid eating food emotionally. You should eat food when you need it.

Before you eat you should think to yourself, do you need food right now? Or are you eating to distract yourself from your work, errands, etc? If you are using food to distract yourself, you can just go for a short walk or drink some water instead. It helps to acknowledge your feelings, rather than mindlessly eating food.

If you are actually hungry, think about what you want. It is important not to get too hungry since it makes it harder to make rational decisions. You may end up over eating. When you are eating, stay mindful.  Make sure you stop when you are full, not when the plate is finished. Experience your food and enjoy it. To stay mindful, it may help to turn off the tv or computer and eat with no distractions.

There are ten key principles of the philosophy:

  1. Reject the diet mentality
    Diets give you false hope of losing weight. They put restrictions on your diet, which may cause you to end up eating more later in the day. More importantly, you may end up gaining the weight back once you finish the diet.
  2. Honor your hunger
    Respond to your hunger. Eat when you’re hungry and satisfy yourself! You do not have to go hungry. Going hungry can cause you to over eat. Eating when you are first hungry can help you build trust with your body. Your body knows when it needs energy!
  3. Make peace with food
    All food is good. Give yourself permission to eat!
  4. Challenge the food police
    Don’t be so hard on yourself if you have eaten too much. Your body will even itself and tell you when need the energy. Don’t restrict yourself from eating calories and skip meals.
  5. Respect your fullness
    When you are eating, listen to your hunger signals. If you are full stop eating!
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
    If you make your eating experience enjoyable, in a calm, inviting room with good food, you will find that you will not need as much food to be full. Enjoy the experience and discover what you need to be full.
  7. Honor your feelings without using food
    emotional eating is very common! Many people eat when they are lonely, sad or anxious. Learn to think about your feelings and find ways to ease these feelings without eating food. You can go for a job, meditate or call a friend.
  8. Respect your body
    Learn to love your body for what it is. No one is perfect. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
  9. Exercise
    Find ways to exercise that you enjoy! I love running; it clears my mind and makes me happy. It distracts me from real life and helps me focus on what is important.
  10. Honor your health
    you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. A sweet snack or one greasy meal won’t ruin your health!

Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Enjoy the moment and the food that you eat. Be more respectful of your emotions, food can’t solve all your problems.


via Intuitive Eating — The Nutritious Noodle


Exercise=Food for the mind, body and soul

I have always been into some type of sport, pretty much my whole life but after having a kid it makes a bit more challenging. There is always something “more important” to take care of or your just plain exhausted to get up off the coach.  But after realizing how much better I felt just by taking the little one for a walk to the park, I knew it was something I needed in my life for me to  keep my sanity! Any type of exercise is good for you, wether you walk, run, lift weights, do yoga, play a sport, remember your doing yourself and those around you a favor 😉


First blog

Hello out there!!!

My name is Lauren Vardai a Registered Dietitian, practicing private nutrition consulting in the region of Northwest Florida.  I am passionate about intuitive/mindful eating and nutrition, family meals, disease prevention and rehabilitation through food, along with support/promotion of breastfeeding, I have a 22 month old myself whom I am still breastfeeding and plan on it until she deems necessary.  I consider myself a foodie, as I love all types of food and wine parings, trying new/exotic foods, I would love to be a food critic but they get bad raps, I just love food and sharing it with others.  I truly believe that “Food should be thy medicine and medicine thy food”.


I invite you to explore my website and find out more about me and my services.  Check back here weekly for more nutrition fun about recipes, local restaurant critiques, fad diets, nutritional tips for all ages/stages and more!!