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Metrowest Nutrition

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New Ideas to Avoid the Post-Lunch Energy Crash

Monday, April 14, 2014

Has post-lunch lethargy got you and your kids sleeping on the job?

In a recent article from Dr. Sears, it’s suggested to be mindful of the types of protein and the amount of carbohydrates we eat at lunch to keep our minds stimulated.  When it comes to kids lunches, Dr. Sears recommends packing protein foods that are high in the amino acid tyrosine such as seafood, turkey, tofu, legumes and tuna, to perk up the brain. Along with this he recommends that keeping the calories appropriate (for children 600-800 calories, for most adults 400-600 calories), keeping to 1-2 servings of a complex carbohydrate (such as quinoa, wheat bread or fruit), including to 1-2 servings of a healthy fat and aiming to eat the protein first, followed by the carbohydrates is the perfect recipe for a brain-stimulating lunch.  Foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that sedates the brain, include eggs, milk, bananas, dairy, sunflower seeds and meat. These tryptophan-rich foods paired with a large amount of carbohydrates as part of a higher calorie lunch can lead to a sluggish child after lunch as tryptophan is able to get into the brain at a high rate with this combination according to Dr. Sears.   As all children, and adults, are different, use these recommendations only if you see an improvement in your child’s attentiveness/behavior.

For more tips on keeping your energy up throughout the day, contact Ashley Bade Cronin at or 617-332-2282 and make an appointment at one of our offices in Northborough, Framingham or Newton.

NEW location - Northborough

Saturday, April 05, 2014

We're very excited to announce our new office location at the Barrett Family Wellness Center in Northborough, MA.  Barrett is committed to providing a full spectrum of wellness services children, adults and families.  They specialize in pediatric occupational and speech therapy and we look forward to complimenting these services with nutrition counseling.

Our  pediatric dietitian, Ashley Bade Cronin will be at Barrett Family Wellness on Fridays starting April 4th.  We will open up more hours as needed.  It may be possible to set up a tele-counseling appointment if you aren't able to come in person.  Call us to find out more and to set up an appointment 617-332-2282.  Or, email Ashley directly at

Our services at Barrett are eligible for insurance reimbursement.   We accept most major plans including BlueCross BlueShield, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts, Aetna, United and Cigna.  Nutrition coverage varies depending on your plan but we can provide guidance on how to determine if your session(s) will be covered.

You do not need to be a current client of Barrett Family Wellness Center to see us at this location.  If you haven't already visited the center, it's a great set up for kids.  There are plenty of toys and books in the waiting room and even more options for entertainment inside the center.  We will be seeing adults here as well so if childcare has been a barrier in the past, hopefully this will help! 

We look forward to seeing you at our new location soon!

Have a Picky Eater? Join us for Lunch!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Do you have picky eaters in your family? Are you concerned about their health but are unsure how to manage it? 

Join Ashley Bade, RD, LDN, CNSD of Metrowest Nutrition, and Healthy Habits Kitchen, creators of ready-to-cook, nutritionally-balanced meal kits, to learn how you can ensure your picky eater is getting the right nutrition by establishing a meal and snack routine, providing balance and variety, setting expectations and much more.

Plus, you’ll sample kid-friendly HHK dishes and learn how MetroWest Nutrition’s new food delivery service can help you save time and achieve your goals.


This is a FREE event and will be held on Thursday, May 30th from 11:30-1pm.  Feel free to come for the whole time or just drop in!  Please register below so we know how much food to have available.

Eventbrite - Managing a Picky Eater

Join us for Lunch!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Please join us for lunch THIS THURSDAY, May 23rd from 11:30-1 in our Newton Center office.  Learn how understanding the Glycemic Index can help boost metabolism, increase energy and manage weight.  Registered Dietitian, Amy Gardner will lead an active discussion on this topic and provide ample time for questions.

Healthy Habits Kitchen will provide samples of their meals and talk about a new program allowing clients to pick up meals at Metrowest Nutrition for a discounted rate. 

This is a FREE event and we would love to have you there!  Please contact Amy Gardner with any questions


Eventbrite - Lunch & Learn Event:  Understanding the Glycemic Index

Good Food Gone Bad

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Here in the land of plenty, we have come to assume that nutritional deficiencies are a thing of the past.  True, we aren't lacking macronutrients; we get plenty of carbohydrate, protein and fat.  However, that doesn't ensure we aren't falling short in some other areas. 

Our grocery aisles are lined with man-made, highly processed "food-like substances" as Michael Pollan would say; foods that have been stripped of most nutrition.  Food companies will often enhance these same foods with labratory-produced nutrients but it's like replacing a hundred dollar bill with monopoly money; it may appear more or less the same but it's just not worth as much.  In addition to being void of some critical nutrition, most of the foods in the typical American diet are high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3's, a combination known to aggrevate inflammation and possibly impact neurological function.  Of course, what foods do most kids whose brains are still developing live on?   Yup, you guessed it, those delicious, factory-produced foods loaded with artificial ingredients, corn products and soybean oil.

Last week, I attended a great seminar by well-known registered dietitian, Elizabeth Strickland, MS, RD who specializes in nutrition for autism.  She makes a great case for how nutrition plays a large role in the cause and treatment of this growing epidemic.  1 in 88 kids (54 boys) is diagnosed with autism.  There are a number of nutritional factors that likely play into this.  Basicly, the combination of artificial foods, lack of essential nutrients, pesticides and other environmental toxins are wrecking havoc on our kids brains.  All these artificial ingredients coupled with lack of protective nutrition create the perfect neurological storm.  And what foods our kids get at school?  Foods that are subsidized and approved by the USDA, the same organization that regulates the industry that produces the majority of our food-like substances.

Working with eating disorders, I've always aired on the side of liberal eating; incorporating ALL foods into the diet.  I've informed clients that there are no "bad foods" and that everything fits.  I've lived this way myself, in fact.  In effort to help my kids shape a healthy, positive relationship with food and encourage them to take part in our social customs that revolve around food, I've been fairly permissive with (non)food.  In fact, I will confess, a popular donut joint was a morning ritual during our kitchen renovation.  To the point where we were all in withdrawal once the project was complete!  I'm sure if you asked my son what his favorite foods are, he would answer donuts, cupcakes and pizza without hesitation.  And who can blame him?  They taste good.  As humans, we're programmed to like foods that are high in fat, sugar and calories because they yield more energy, hence survival.   

On the flip side, I've also heard my toddler refer to grapes as treats and watched him beg for an apple or carrot stick. When offered the choice, many kids will opt for a healthier option, especially if it's presented in an appealing way.  Fruits and veggies are colorful and fun to eat and entirely worth the effort in preparation.  Granted, there are kids out there who are pickier than most and they may need a more intensive intervention.  A registered dietitian can certainly help with that.

Personally, I will continue to grapple with balancing my nutrition knowledge with the desire to maintain a flexible, enjoyable and inclusive relationship with food for myself and my family.  I have no desire to uphold rigid "food rules" but also feel that no momentary pleasure from food is worth sacrificing my kids' neurological function and the joys in life that come from that.  Hopefully, I can help my kids and my clients navigate this tricky line as well. 

Earthly Delights

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jackie Ballou, MS, RD

To my delight, my boyfriend’s mother recently made me up a bag of fresh vegetables to take home.  The delectable leaves, roots and flowers inside were anything but ordinary. 

She told me one of the vibrant looking leaves was an herb called amaranth.  I was surprised, for I knew amaranth to be a gluten-free, nutrition powerhouse of a grain (technically speaking, a seed), containing protein and fiber.  What I was not aware of was the nutritional value and versatility of the leaves of this same plant, which produces the seeds I am more familiar with.

Upon doing a bit of research, I found out that amaranth leaves are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K and are also a good source of the minerals, calcium and manganese.  The leaves of this plant can be used as a substitute for spinach.  The more mature leaves should be cooked (stir frying or sautéing with a olive oil and some garlic works well) while the younger, more delicate leaves may be used raw in salads.  Similar to kale, it can also be added to soups and stews.

In admiring, learning about and tasting amaranth leaves, I got to thinking about the abundance of exotic plant foods found at farms and farmers’ markets.   And furthermore, what an opportunity lies in exploring these treasure troves with kids.  I can’t think of a better way for children to explore a new food in its entirety than picking out a new fruit or vegetable, taking it home, preparing it, and sampling it. 
To plan your next fruit and veggie treasure hunt, find the closest farmers market or pick your own farm at


Cranberry Couscous Salad

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Looking for a tasty and healthy dish for the summer?  Try this versatile cranberry couscous salad.  It's a great side dish but also complete enough to be a meal itself.  This low glycemic salad is nutrient-packed with lots of fiber, protein, B6, folate, vitamin E and healthy mono-unsaturated fats.  It's delicious hot or cold which makes it great for dinner parties or cookouts.  You can also substitute other grains for the couscous; Quinoa is particularly good and packs in more protein as well.  Enjoy! 

Cranberry Couscous Salad

Eat Healthy in No (or Little) Time

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Want to eat healthy but short on time?  Here are a few tips to streamline healthy eating for you and your family.

1.  Plan Ahead

Planning is key to eating healthy with limited time.  Invest 15-30 minutes a week into planning meals and your grocery list.  Think of 2-3 breakfast and lunch options and 3-5 dinners.  After you decide what's on the menu, make up a grocery list.  If you have a smartphone, keep a list of items you need each week and add or subtract as needed.  Many grocery stores offer delivery for a small additional fee of $5-10 (or free if you have a coupon).  Use the time you would have spent at the store for planning. 

2.  Stretch Foods

Choose foods that you can use over multiple meals.  For example, a rotisserie chicken can be dinner tonight and chicken salad to top your greens for lunch tomorrow.  Side dishes such as the edamame succotash recipe on our site (Edamame Succotash) are great for leftovers.

3.  Modify Convenience Foods

Prepared foods are typically high in fat, calories and sodium and low in fiber and nutrients despite their convenience and palatability.  Nonetheless, when pinched for time, they can make good starters for a healthier dish  Adding veggies, lean proteins and/or grains to convenience foods helps boost their nutritional quality without a lot of prep time.  Veggies like cooked spinach and broccoli make great additions to prepared pasta sauces and macaroni & cheese.  Or, take store-bought potato salad, typically loaded with mayo and give it a healthy and  appetizing  makeover  by adding a couple additional skin-on potatoes (5 minutes in the microwave) and/or some peas along with a little extra seasoning.  The same can be done with pasta salad; add some whole wheat pasta, beans and a cut-up red pepper and you've substantially improved a nutritionally blah food. 

4.  Plan For and Utilize Leftovers

Buy extra meat, fish, poultry or veggies when grilling and find recipes to use the leftovers in.  Grill up some grass-fed beef and use the extra for steak & cheese subs the next day; use a whole wheat baguette with some leftover grilled veggies and a little cheese and you have a well-balanced and delicious meal.  For another idea, use grilled chicken in a pasta recipe like this one from Pioneer Woman (one of my favorite sites for recipes by the way) Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta.

5.  Simple Salads

Keep ingredients for easy-to-make salads on hand.  For a base, use pre-washed, bagged greens or wash your greens right when you get them home so they're ready to go when you need them.  Add some grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, beans, edamame, olives, sliced beets and/or some nuts and you'll have a salad with absolutely no slicing or dicing.  For added protein, boil some eggs and store them in the fridge.  That extra grilled meat comes in handy for this too.  Berries, mango and avocado are great additions to summer salads too but may require a little extra work.  Having all the ingredients ready to go and visible increasese the chance you will use them. 



What's For Dinner?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Jackie Ballou, MS, RD

Eating dinner as a family holds benefits that go beyond nutrition.  Kids who eat more family meals at home are more apt to have better quality diets than those who eat more meals out.  Research shows that teens eating regular family meals at home are less likely to use drugs, experience better mental health and eat more fruits and vegetables overall.  Studies indicate that television-free family meal times are opportunity areas for bonding and teaching kids about nutrition.

But, what about lacrosse practice, homework, and starving kids?

As a pediatric dietitian, I work with many families who are strapped for time.  Parents often tell me how difficult it is to manage cooking healthy dinners amongst all the other priorities of a busy family.  
Here are some tips along with some of my favorite resources.

Planning Ahead is Key
Create a weekly menu of dinners, and include the kids in the planning.  That way, everyone has a “say” in what’s for dinner.  Get ingredients for the week to make things easy when the dinner hour arrives.  Need some inspiration?  The Dinner Daily ( is a one-stop site dedicated to helping families with meal planning.  For $5 per month, subscribers receive a week’s worth of kid-friendly, nutritious meal recipes, along with corresponding food shopping lists and a list of available savings and coupons at your local grocery stores. 

Mix it Up
Invariably, it is easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to changing up the dinner menu.  But, trying new recipes is a chance to expand the family’s taste preferences and offer different nutrients.  For a wealth of easy and nutritious recipes developed by dietitians for families, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Kids Eat Right website:

Use Technology to Your Advantage
You may be familiar with Real Simple Magazine, but did you know they have an app called “No Time To Cook”for the IPhone, IPad and Android?  The app allows users to select ingredients they have on hand (poultry, beef or lamb, pork, seafood, pasta or vegetarian) as well as the time they have available for meal preparation (20, 30 or 40 minutes).  The search compiles a list of several delicious recipes that meet the criteria entered.  If desired, you can also filter the search further to suit your needs (“low calorie” and “family friendly” are a few examples).  Food shopping lists are available for each recipe, and can either be texted or emailed.  For more information go to:

Good News for Coffee Lovers

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Most Americans can’t imagine facing the day without their morning cup of Joe and new research is showing that coffee may be better for us than we thought.  Coffee is a great pick-me-up to help you power through the day.  There are some other perks too.  For example, the antioxidants found in coffee help lower type 2 diabetes risk, although the direct process is not fully understood. Java can also help lower your risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.  On the flip side, too much caffeine can make you anxious and jittery.  So, if you’re looking for a pick me up with less caffeine and maximum health benefits, try reaching for a cup of green tea.  Many studies have found various health benefits related to the antioxidants found in green tea.  And unfortunately, decaffeinating the tea causes it to lose some of these benefits.

Read more about how coffee is good for you here. 

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