Nutrition 101 for Life Series

The featured photo of the article.

This series is created to help you understand the science behind food in a way that you can use. Hopefully, it will dispel some myths and take some of the guesswork out of making healthy choices, just like using Guiding Stars does! I’d like to start with describing calories. Then I’ll follow with the macronutrients that give us the calories that fuel our bodies…

Continue reading »

Grilled Tuna with Fire and Ice Salsa

The featured photo of the article.

I left my home in northern Maine about a week after high school graduation and wound up in Portland, ME. My first job was at a country club as a waitress, and it was a seminal culinary experience for me. Having grown up in potato country, we enjoyed a healthy and varied but quite plain diet; so, when I arrived fresh-faced and innocent at the country club, with its sushi extravaganzas and raw bars and Asian nights, I was understandably blown away.

I had always had an interest in cooking and in food in general, and it felt like I had landed in Panacea. Many of the chefs were very kind and excited to teach an interested girl about food, and we had many conversations about pairing ingredients and techniques when I was picking up food or delivering orders. It was a great time. One of the chefs even ordered me my first chef knife, which I still own today.

Out of all of the exciting food discoveries I made at my first real food job, the one I remember best was my first exposure to the pairing of protein and fruit. That concept was just so foreign to me as a 17 year-old; after all, where I came from, fruit was for breakfast, and a lot of time it was called “cocktail” and was mixed with whipped topping. But the chefs at the country club were serving it with meat and fish and duck, and it was all so delicious and interesting.

The dish that stands out most in my mind from the country club was the Grilled Swordfish with Fire and Ice Salsa, and that’s where the inspiration for my new recipe comes from. I’m choosing instead to use tuna, since in about two weeks the tuna will be running here in Maine, and I enjoy this dish best with the texture of medium-rare to medium tuna rather than a fully-cooked swordfish.

The smooth texture of the tuna is so delicious when paired with a tart, sweet, and crunchy salsa made from pineapple and watermelon. The best part of this dish is that the Fire and Ice Salsa starts out cool and juicy in your mouth, owing to the fruit and lime, and then suddenly becomes warm from the jalapeno and cilantro. It’s a lot of fun.

This recipe will work well with any firm-textured and neutral-tasting steak fish such as swordfish or halibut. In terms of doneness, the old technique of cooking fish until it flakes really produces a product that’s overdone; since fish continues to cook after it’s removed from the heat, by the time the carry-over cooking is finished, your fish will be…

Continue reading »

Using the Internet to Find Healthy New Recipes

The featured photo of the article.

One of my biggest hurdles in eating healthy is I feel that I run out of recipes I can make on a regular basis. I feel as though I eat the same few healthy things over and over and my taste buds get tired so I find myself returning to not-so-healthy options.

Lately I have been leaning on a few great websites to help me cure my taste bud exhaustion by giving me good, easy recipes, with ingredients I already have that are also good for me. Some let you choose by ingredients, some give you creative way to prepare your regular shopping items in not such a ‘regular’ way and others are just plain fun to try out.

Real Simple has a great menu suggestion tool that lets you choose by ingredient, convenience, course or keyword. All the recipes we have used have been…

Continue reading »

5 Reasons Having a Dog Will Keep You Healthy

The featured photo of the article.

Man’s best friend is well known for being a great companion, but did you know he/she could make you healthier too?


It’s been proven owning a dog actually makes you happier – you could even get a discount on your life insurance! Bonus: being happier makes you healthier.


Dogs need exercise, just like us. Having to walk or run them for a half hour every day will help you drop pounds on the scale, too.


I’m a certified lifeguard and swim instructor, but my 1 year old lab could still easily outswim me – but then, that’s what he’s bred for. As hot as it’s been this summer already, how about taking your four-legged friend for a dip? It will be a treat for him and you!


Running around and playing with your dog burns calories, just like playing with your kids. So let the child in you out and play some tug o’ war.

A little weight lifting

It’s a little outside-the-box, but you can get your weight lifting time in with a dog. My dog is scared of stairs and at 60 pounds, I can’t afford for him to be afraid of them for much longer. But, lucky for me, I’ve noticed as he’s gotten bigger, I’ve gotten stronger…

Continue reading »

The Busy Bee

The featured photo of the article.

Like a beehive, a college campus is a small city of residents with wildly different roles and needs. You’ve got your workers, your studying drones, your drama queens – some need just enough energy to hold a book up, others to run a marathon.

Each month, my blog will track down one type of student trying to find his or her way through a maze of dietary options. I will get to know them, discuss their food choices, and make an interesting “Guiding Stars inspired” meal suggestion for them to try. I begin here with my first summer voyage to Holloway Commons, the main dining hall at UNH:

For the first time since freshman year, I felt lost in the dining hall. I scanned through a sea of prospective students and UNH Wildcat campers. Although I seemed not to fit in, I felt entitled to be there, a dining hall “veteran” – like a worn crayon thrown into a box of crayons fresh off the press. Just when I was about to give up on my search for a college student, a gray UNH t-shirt caught my eye. I approached her carefully as if she was a mirage but quickly recognized her authenticity. After getting her permission to feature her in my first blog, we sat down to talk food.

Erin is a senior at UNH studying Athletic Training. When she graduates, she plans to get her certification, go to grad school, and eventually become a physician’s assistant. She is spending her summer working at the UNH sports camps. Erin explained that if she had free time she would spend it at the mall, hanging out downtown with friends, or enjoying Portsmouth, NH.

This busy-bee is highly active and needs to feed on some serious (yet quick) grub. She meant business this day with a green plate filled with several delicious 2 and 3 star choices. She chose stir-fry—one of her dining hall favorites—with snow peas, carrots, broccoli, and chicken. We both agreed that stir-fry is an easy way to get a well-balanced meal: whole grains, lots of fiber, various vitamins and nutrients, and lean protein. This meal is healthy, filling, and will sustain a girl like Erin throughout a hectic afternoon…

Continue reading »

A New Cook in the Kitchen

The featured photo of the article.

It’s no secret that I have hesitated to let my two children “help” me in the kitchen. It has always seemed like more trouble than it’s worth, with poorly measured ingredients, big spills, and squabbles about who gets to do what.

Today, however, something magical happened: I changed my mind. I realized that in order to survive this long summer at home with my four-year old and six-year old, I’m going to have to give them jobs beyond setting the table and feeding the dog. And, who knows? They just might be ready to handle it.

This afternoon, after having her hose off our very sandy beach shoes, I let my six-year old help put away the groceries. Grace did this very well, and she felt proud. Buoyed by a surge of self-confidence, she then decided to fix herself a snack.

First, she put yogurt in a carefully chosen bowl (she spilled some, but cleaned it up without any prompting), and spooned some granola over the top.

Then, she asked me…

Continue reading »

A Cookout Doesn’t Have To Be A Calorie Blowout

The featured photo of the article.

The summer season is upon us and that means a summer full of cookouts celebrating everything from Memorial Day to Fourth of July, graduations, birthdays and family reunions. And, with all these cookouts come a lot of high-calorie and high-fat foods and drinks like chips, beer, soda and desserts.

As I find I’m still trying to shed both holiday and ‘owning my own business’ weight, my goal this summer is to try to demonstrate some discipline. Instead of grabbing soda, my plan is to ask for water or bring my own reusable vessel. Portion control is another obvious goal and as a guest I plan to bring my own low calorie/low fat recipe offering a healthy choice for myself as well as others.

Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow recently had a great blog post about Greek Yogurt. I have started using it in some of my own recipes lately and I find it to be a great alternative to higher fat ingredients like butter. For example, this summer I plan to try this low fat potato salad recipe:

Continue reading »

Weighing In On Their Future

The featured photo of the article.

We’ve all heard about the youth obesity epidemic, but sometimes I wonder if people grasp how serious it is.

Did you know that 20% of four-year-olds in the US are obese? 1 in 5 four-year-olds!

Now you may say that it’s just baby fat and that they’ll grow out of it, but here are some things you should know:

  • 10% of non-obese children become obese adults
  • 40%-50% of obese children become obese adults
  • 70% of obese adolescents become obese adults
  • 80% of obese adolescents become obese adults if one parent is obese

In addition to their weight itself, most obese children have at least one other major cardiovascular risk factor, (i.e. high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high insulin or high blood pressure). These risk factors were previously thought of as adult conditions, not ones you’d find in kids. Our children’s generation could be the first generation where the parents live longer than the kids do.

So who’s to blame? In my opinion, we all are. Parents, schools, the community, and society all carry the burden of what’s happening to our kids. We all need to step up and do our part to help overcome it.

What Parents Can Do

I’m a father myself (I have two boys, ages 9 and 11) and as parents, we make choices for our kids every day that influence how they will live their lives. Here are some suggestions for what I believe we, as parents, can do to keep our kids on the right path:

Continue reading »