healthy eating

Top 10 FRESH Protein Foods {and How to Eat More!}

Why are proteins so important for your health?

Each cell in our body holds protein and we cannot live without it. Protein sustains our bodies by building and repairing tissues, and is an important part in the building of muscles and bones.

As Dr Mark Hyman explains - “Protein provides us with the building blocks of life—helping us make muscle, connective tissue, hair, blood, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and more. Clearly, it’s important that we’re eating enough of this essential macronutrient if we want to feel strong, energized, and healthy.”

OK, So how much should I be eating?

In recent years, an unbalanced view of protein has developed, partially due to the numerous fundamental diets that have risen in popularity, touting a diet of high protein as necessary for everything from bodybuilding to weight loss. It’s important to note in this article that here at FRESH Start, we are neither a diet nor a fundamental fitness plan - we believe in balance, individual intuition-led eating, and eating the amount of protein that YOU NEED for your particular goals and needs!

That said, there is a “suggested range” of daily protein intake that we need for just “normal living” …

- now, this is obviously for those who are either somewhat sedentary or not aggressively working out.

(So this would be different from someone who is bodybuilding, working out an hour or more daily, or even, like in my case, is deficient in protein due to a chronic illness, etc)

The general idea is that we need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

(Above paragraph taken from this article on Healthline. com)

No matter the amount you choose to eat for your needs, it is a good idea to eat it in small amounts throughout the day, as protein is a filling nutrient.

Combine Food Groups for better Results!

“Food combining,” or including some type of protein WITH healthy fibrous foods and a healthy fat with every meal or mini-meal is powerful for your nutritional needs. It’s been discovered that this helps the body to properly break down the food, and absorb more of the benefits, as well as stabilize our blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates from our foods provide the fuel and energy we need. Proteins are the building blocks of our cell structure. If carbohydrates are not available, the body will burn through the proteins and not ingest and put them to use properly.

The goal then, is to get more protein-rich foods in your body, more often, along with the other major food groups at the same time for optimal digestion!

Here’s a list of our top protein-rich foods, the nutritional benefits they contain, as well as ideas on how to eat more of them!

our top 10 FRESH proteins:

1. Chicken Breast

a 3.5 oz. chicken breast contains 30 grams protein - wow! - but they’re also full of phosphorus, an essential mineral that helps your teeth and bones, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system function

  • add grilled chicken to your salads

  • grill chicken and mangos for a yummy lettuce wrap

2. Salmon

high in essential fatty acids, and contains one of the highest protein loads in an animal protein - but also rich in B vitamins and selenium, 2 of the vitamins your body strongly needs for mental health

3. Eggs

versatile source of protein, rich in B-complex vitamin choline, which reduces inflammation

  • prepare a yummy omelet with veggies sauteed in a tsp of healthy fat, like olive or coconut oil for a power breakfast

  • keep a few boiled eggs in the refrigerator - add to salad or for a quick sandwich snack

4. Avocado

as well as lean protein, contain excess of 25 essential nutrients for your health, including vitamin A, B, C, E, & K, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium AND is a healthy fat!

  • add sliced avocado to any sandwich or salad

  • serve sliced avocado along-side scrambled eggs

5. Beans & Legumes

high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Helps with weight management and to decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease

  • Make homemade hummus out of chickpeas

  • Add to salads or toss with veggies

  • Add black beans to taco meat

6. Greek Yogurt

yogurt and chia and blueberries cropped.jpg

high in protein (2x as much as regular yogurt!) has less lactic acid than other dairy, which makes it easier to digest and truly absorb the nutritional benefits to your body. (People who can’t digest other dairy can often digest Greek Yogurt with no problem.)

Greek Yogurt contains live microorganisms, or probiotics, which are good bacteria that we’re often deficient in. They are healing to your gut lining and help improve your immune system, and even, help reduce side effects of antibiotic treatments!

  • add 1/2 cup greek yogurt to your morning smoothie for a balanced, whole-food protein boost instead of processed powder

  • stir 1 Tbsp chia seeds into 1/2 cup as an energy-giving power snack

7. Nuts and Seeds

(example: Almonds, Cashews, and Chia Seeds)

As tiny as these nutritional powerhouses are, they contain a large amount of vitamins, minerals and fats in addition to digestible protein for your body’s needs! The fats in them are the right kind (in moderation of course) and help keep down inflammation, maintaining the normal structure of every cell in your body.

  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseed over a yogurt parfait or in your daily smoothie for an energy boost!

  • Pre-portion 1 ounce of raw, lightly or unsalted nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts or cashews into little bags for quick grab and go power snacks!

8.Sirloin Steak

good source of protein and other vitamins and minerals such as  B12 and Zinc

  • serve in a quickie stir-fry with broccoli, green onion, soy sauce, & cooked brown rice

  • try it just seasoned and grilled with a baked sweet potato

9. Ground, Lean (93/7) Turkey and/or Beef

not only super high in hefty protein, but low on the “bad fats” and nutrient-packed with iron, other minerals, and vitamins B12 & D

  • grill patties and serve on a whole wheat bun or pita piled with veggies

  • make a low-sodium taco mix with black beans and sweet corn & serve in tacos al carbon (warmed, not fried) or over a lush green salad

10. Quinoa

Cilantro lemon  quinoa edited.jpg

contains all 9 essential amino acids (one of the only foods that does!) and is a great source of riboflavin

  • quinoa-stuffed vegetables

  • try it with maple syrup and nuts for a yummy breakfast or snack

  • spoon over a spinach salad for added crunchy, chewy vegetarian protein!

It just takes a little planning and creativity to include more of these lean proteins in your daily diet!

The possibilities are endless!

Share some of your favorite ideas and recipes for these foods by commenting on this post or visit us on our Facebook page to share!

Which Diet is Best? (Or How to Eat for Your Health!)

As a longtime health coach, I get asked a lot…

Is veganism or vegetarianism the BEST way to eat for good health? 

Is Paleo or Keto better? 

Is intermittent fasting the way to go? 

Would you suggest following the Whole 30?

What about Weight Watchers or South Beach or Nutrisystem or AIP or DASH?

(I know, there's a LOT of 'em...and I only JUST started naming diets from the looonnnggg list available!)

Here’s what we DO know about this…

… from years of research - both reading, studying and working with hundreds of people as a health coach! AND from our own tested and real-live experience...

The BEST way of eating FOR YOU is a way that is:


Meaning you can realistically continue to eat that way through all of life's crazy up's and down's! Following this one idea eliminates most strict diets that effectively "ban" one or more entire food groups (ie veganism or Keto)

...sustainable usually = well-balanced



…meaning eat the way that FEELS GOOD to your body and brain (ie you have increasingly more energy, lifted brain fog and your intuition agrees with it) 

One way to gauge this is to do an "elimination plan" for a few days...first, remove ANY commonly offensive foods like sugar, caffeine, meat, dairy, gluten etc... then, journal your body's reactions when you reintroduce each food group (be sure to re-intro one food at a time) 


…no matter which specific plan you choose to follow (or even if you are just following your own wisdom and intuition, which is often a powerful plan!) Please choose FRESH FOODS first! 


So even if you're cutting back on meat or even going towards a plant based diet, make sure to choose fresh foods.

If you are working to cut processed carbohydrates and even some of your grains out, make sure that the rest of your choices are as fresh and whole as possible. 

There's an interesting common denominator that I have found about these diet plans in my latest research for the new book I'm writing for you guys....and it's that although the diets are NOT found to be sustainable for a huge majority of participants, the CENTRAL ELEMENT that IS working within all these diets, is that people are more intentionally choosing fresh and whole foods, improving their health in the long run.

Interesting, right?!

Eating FRESH matters! And it's sustainable and balanced and easily customizable to your own intuitive wisdom and personal lifestyle needs!

Talk to me more about this either here in comments or in our warm, supportive community FRESH Start Club (there’s no cost to belong to the Club and we’d love to have you!)

For a quick-glance at an eating plan that is sustainable, personal and balanced for life - grab your copy of the FRESH Start Can-Eat List here or click on pic below!

What IS Healthy, Anyway? {Hint: It's FRESH Food!}

There is so much information available now on eating and foods in the “health industry,” but there are also many differing opinions. 

Even the “authorities” are at odds with each other, all taking different sides of the healthy eating fence. The conversation often goes like this: Eat less fat; hold on, eat more fats!  Eat meat; no wait, don’t eat meat!  Drink less caffeine; well actually, go ahead and drink it! 

It can be mentally exhausting and leaves us asking the big question, “OK, what really IS healthy?

It is common that everyone WILL have differences of opinions, beliefs, and ideas about what’s truly healthy – that’s what keeps us interesting! The problem is; it’s also quite confusing! 

Especially in this area: knowing what to eat and drink, and what NOT to consume for better health. 


With the ultimate goal of better health for you and your family, I’d like to give you just a few tips to help you figure out what eating healthy looks like specifically for your family, and your needs!

  1. Though opinions differ, some basic things remain the same!
    There are some things that we’ve been eating since the beginning of time, like whole, unprocessed grains, fruit, vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats – this hasn’t changed with culture, society, or fads! Be wary of the “latest and greatest” new product, “food” or drink. If they really are new, chances are, they’re also artificially developed or processed. An avocado has been an avocado since the Great Flood. It’s a good method to use as a measuring stick when deciding what’s “healthy” to eat or drink.
  2. Balance is ALWAYS healthy!
    Going off-balance for the long-term is NOT! The problem with an extreme diet, plan or product (especially one that eliminates a whole food group or two!) is that a deficiency is bound to occur. A lot of times, it’s just not immediately apparent. Our bodies were designed with a specific need for all the food groups – the process of building our cells, which is replenishing what “life” takes out of us, requires all the proteins, nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that those different foods (prepared different ways) can give us!
  3. Is someone trying to sell you something?
    This is NOT to knock those who charge for things (we all gotta make a living!) but rather to get you thinking and examining the motives behind a celebrity endorsement, “doctor recommended” claim, or other less than truthful methods used to get you to buy that product or quick fix. Just ask yourself these screening questions before you buy based on emotion: Is this another “quick fix” or a step towards a true lifestyle change?

The vast amount of information available on this topic can be a benefit, but also tends to bring mass confusion. Once you figure out your family’s basic guidelines for what you consider a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be able to sift quickly through that information without getting overwhelmed.

Here at FRESH Start, we follow a simple guideline for healthy eating: the Mediterranean-style Food Plan.

Why? Because it's the plan most aligned with our simple values of FRESH foods, and a balanced view that includes all major food groups.

We teach realistic, balanced small steps in healthier habits to build a lasting lifestyle of health. 

For a beautiful handout on What’s REALLY Healthy, click here!  

This quick, easy to read, 3-page handout will help you pinpoint what foods you can, and should, enjoy for improved health!

Here are a few other articles we think you'll enjoy on this topic:

Best Healthy Cooking Magazines

How to Eat Clean

Cooking with Herbs

Confessions of a Health Coach {Part One}

Can I get real with ya’ll for a minute?

Yes, I’m a Health Coach. NO, I’m not watching you through green-smoothie-colored glasses!

I’ve been a health coach for over 6 years now, and in this time, I have experienced a phenomenon. Sometimes, when people find out I’m a health coach, the interaction between us can become awkward with anything to do with food or exercise or anything “health.” I’m thinking it’s due to what is quite possibly preconceived notions - about what I actually care about in their life!

And I want to take a few minutes to clear this up! This will be fun...from my well-meaning heart to yours.

Confession #1: I'm NOT looking in your shopping cart! Or judging you for what’s in it.

Yes, that’s right! I actually DO NOT care what you’re putting in your cart.

And I'm certainly not criticizing what you do or do not provide for mealtime at your house!

I'm of the simple belief that we are all doing the best we can with what we know right now. And even if you're not, I'm not your mama and I'm pretty sure you're already aware of what you can do better (we're all adults here!) I'm only interested in holding myself accountable to my own goals and standards. Oh and of course, THOSE WHO HIRE ME to, I’ll keep them accountable too!

Full disclosure: I DO care (and deeply!) how you FEEL from what you eat every day - which is why I work so hard daily to do what I do. If this sounds contradictory, let me explain - I’m NOT interested in judging your choices, only in helping those who are ready with guidance in better eating! It’s WHY I spend hours researching natural healing, recipe testing, and creating resources and challenges and meal plans and programs to help those who are READY and want to make changes for the better in their eating.

Confession #2: I struggle too (with changing habits & making healthy lifestyle choices)

This is a lifelong struggle in a lot of ways for ALL OF US! I’d be lying if I acted like living like this (or teaching this lifestyle, for that matter!) is easy for anyone (especially when picky eaters, stubborn spouses, and multiple kids are in the mix!) I have noticed though, some things do get easier with time - and that’s a relief.

I struggle with the daily grind of the “extra work” that making better choices entails


I struggle with my weight within a 10-15 pound range (up and down, up and down UGH)


I struggle with OCD/anxiety tendencies - and all the “mind stuff” that it involves


I struggle with wondering if I’m being a “good enough” mom/wife/friend/daughter/caregiver/coach/sister/entrepreneur/Christian - can anyone relate? LOL


I struggle with LOVING sugar and anything made with sugar and anything you can add sugar to


I struggle with chronic pain (daily)


So yeah. I struggle too!

And if I’ve learned ANYTHING in my 6.5 years as a health coach - it’s that WE ARE ALL JUST DOING WHAT WE CAN. And we need to give OURSELVES and EACH OTHER waaaayyyy more grace than we do (I struggle with this too! haha)

Full disclosure: Some of my greatest personal struggles have been addictive behaviors.

I used to smoke cigarettes (been smoke-free since July 2009, praise God!) and was also addicted to the energy drinks and diet sodas that accompanied that habit.

I carried shame around that habit for the longest time...please find a way to dump that worthless shame if you are in the same cycle - it’s such a wasted a emotion (though a POWERFUL one!) and I wish someone would have said to me in 2009 what I’m saying to you now!


No matter what you are struggling with, leave those worthless emotions of guilt and shame behind and join me in the land of the redeemed and forgiven (Christ gives it freely, we just have to RECEIVE it!) You only get one life, let's make it AWESOME!


Confession #3: I don’t care what you’re making or picking up for dinner

Yes, this is similar to confession #1. But different, so I want to specifically discuss the “dinner dilemma” - because it’s a REAL thing for us! (Any moms out there with me on this?) By end of day, we’re DONE. Tired. Over it.

Last thing we want to do is spend ANOTHER 45 minutes on our hurting and tired feet cooking, then watch the family inhale in 5 minutes our loving gift that was created with expensive ingredients, and designed with the last bit of sanity that’s clinging to our frazzled brains! Then get right back up and spend the next 20-30 minutes cleaning up the mess everyone leaves behind...Seriously?

So. I. GET. IT.

And exactly why I don’t judge! If tonight is a drive-through-sanity-keeper-choice - then mama, YOU DO YOU and I got absolutely no malice for ya!

Full disclosure: All I care about when it comes to your dinner choices is that YOU are happy with them!

This is seriously what I care about - that YOU feel happy with your choices - and I want to help you change that in a REALISTIC, practical way if it’s something you are ready to tackle! The meal planning/shopping/chopping/cooking part of what I do is my FAVE because I’ve committed these last 6 + years to developing a system for keeping dinner HEALTHY and SIMPLE and that WORKS for the busy family/working mama/budget buyer!


Confession #4: My kids eat and drink junk food (and I do too)

Yup. We do.

Now, before you get too excited - let me explain. We eat a clean, veggie-based, lean meats, unprocessed, small-portioned type diet about 85% of the time. We drink a LOT of water. We drink homemade smoothies with veggies in them every day.

HOWEVER, we DO enjoy “junk food” like commercial, sugary coffee drinks or a small bowl of ice cream on our “treat day” every weekend. We enjoy candy or desserts during holidays, cake on birthdays and Abuelita’s amazing fried tacos and other traditional food when we visit her in Mexico. (We’re Mexican, ya’ll! Food is LIFE!) We enjoy a pastry or a bag of chips on occasion, too!

We believe in balance, and enjoying this life, and making merry with small servings, instead of overeating on the fun stuff! But we don’t believe in deprivation (we tried it and it didn’t work anyway) or a lot of NO NO NO’s. We believe in adding in the good stuff to squeeze out the not-so-good most of the time. And being ok with splurging the other times. It seems to be working, so it’s probably how we’ll continue this healthy living thing.

What about you, my friend? Do you see yourself in any of these confessions?

My heart as a health coach is to see you at peace with your choices, free of shame or guilt in them and making the BEST ONES YOU CAN with what you can afford/do/handle right now!

So I hope you let yourself off the hook of “attempted perfection” in this lifestyle, do what you can today (and celebrate that you did THAT!) and keep pursuing the BEST God has for you in your habits and choices and future! Because YOU DESERVE IT!

Come back to the blog Thursday, I’m publishing the second part of this fun post series! I’ll be confessing “why I don’t exercise” and “why I’m overwhelmed in this lifestyle too!” (gasp!)