DIY Starbucks Shaken Iced Tea

In college I was first introduced to Starbucks and fell in love with many of their non-coffee drinks. I remember budgeting $20/wk for this just to survive those long nights of studying. When I moved back home there was no Starbucks and I was bummed out that I couldn’t find the drinks that I loved so much. A couple of months after college I found that Starbucks sold their teas in tea bags at Wegmans for only $3. Needless to say now a couple years later I regularly make my favorite drink the “Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade” for a quarter of the price I paid before.

What do you need to buy upfront?

2 Quart Glass Pitcher (Target) $6.00

1 Liter Electric Tea Kettle (we got ours at Marshalls) $10.00

1 12-16 ounce Clear Glass Tumbler with Straw (got mine at Five Below) $3.00

1 Box of Tazo Tea, Iced Passion or Green (includes 6 steeping bags that make 64 ounces) $3.00

32 ounces of Water or Lemonade $0-4

Torani cane sugar syrup $5.00

Total upfront cost: $27.00 made with water or $39.00 made with lemonade

(lemonade is usually sold in 64 ounce containers so you would need 3 bottles of lemonade total to prepare all tea bags following the recipe below)

How to make:

At night fill electric kettle to 1 liter with water and heat water. Pour hot water into 2 quart glass jar and throw in 1 tea bag and let steep for 5 minutes. Pull out tea bag and fill remaining jar with 32 ounces of water or lemonade.  Cool off in fridge for at least 5 hours. In the morning pour into glass tumbler with 4-5 ice cubes and add 1 tsp of simple syrup. Mix together and put on top.

One tea bag makes 64 ounces of tea so you could have four 16 ounce drinks per week for the first 6 weeks for $39.00 this comes out to $1.65/drink and then in the future without the other costs it would cost $15 for 6 weeks of drinks and that comes out to .63 cents a drink.

A size grande(16 ounces) Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade is $3.00. If you bought the same amount of drinks per week for 6 weeks at Starbucks it would come to $72.00.

I could not believe the cost savings when I did the math! I can’t believe I ever paid as much for these drinks before. While I wish I had done this during college I am happy now that I can enjoy a cool refreshing drink and have more money in my wallet.

Feel free to share your copycat drink recipes that you love below!




Composting 101

With Spring upon us I’ve been getting more excited to finally put our compost pile to good use. Since we have been composting for almost six months I wanted to share my experience and hopefully debunk the theory that composting is difficult! Like most people composting always scared me because I just assumed it was hard but come to find out its actually super easy. Cost wise it is very inexpensive and saves money down the road because you don’t need to buy fertilizer for your garden. Composting also lowers your carbon footprint which is good for mother natures sake.

How we got started –

$20 Compost Bin (Aldi) with lid

$0 old plastic cereal container

Surprised? So was I. Now mind you I have been tempted to buy the cool looking composting bins for your kitchen a million times but alas this is really all you need.  What we found to be the most essential is to have a top for our compost bin to keep away pests. Unfortunately, we live in a suburb and there are a million rabbits so we needed something to keep them out. We also wanted a covered container in the kitchen to stop any foul smells from leaking out.

What do we do-

Basically what we do is collect scraps of fruits, vegetables, egg shells, and coffee in our cereal bin throughout the week and then dump it in the compost bin at the end of the week. As simple as that! If you fill it up sooner then you just dump it sooner. [Hint: Don’t put any meats or dairy into your compost pile or animal poop for that matter]. Egg shells are important because they provide calcium for the soil and coffee grounds are important because they provide nitrogen to the soil. Both of these nutrients fertilize your garden! Once a week we also have a pitch fork and toss whats in the bin. In the fall we even added our yard leaves into the mix. Be patient it does take a while to start to fill your bin. It has taken us about six months to fill our bin halfway.

Using the compost-

We start our garden after Memorial Day weekend so at the end of February we will stop adding any new scraps from our kitchen and turn the compost more frequently. One month before we will add earth worms to help speed up the process if needed. In the meantime we will continue composting by buying another bin and using that one to throw out our leftover scraps from the kitchen.

So thats it. If you have any cool scraps you gather from your kitchen that add life to your compost pile feel free to share below. Happy spring gardening!


Pretty in Pink on Valentines Day

My favorite things for this February happen to be pink and are perfect to wear for your Valentines Day date! I’m obsessed with the color of all these products because they are the perfect colored blush pink and so affordable.


1.Cold Shoulder Sparkle Top from Old Navy $8.50

I could not find online the color blush that I found this top in but it is so cute and such a steal. Usually cold shoulder tops look terrible on me since I have a bigger bust but this one lays flat!

2. Essie Nail Polish in color “Not Just a Pretty Face” from Marshalls $4

I can not paint my nails for the life of me and Essie is the only nail polish that actually works for me but they are so expensive. I have been racking up colors by shopping at Marshalls or TJMaxx because they are always 3-4 dollars. I absolutely adore this color.

3.Rose Gold Choker from Franchescas $20

I actually bought this for a holiday party and loved it! Its dainty yet still a statement piece.

4.Strapless Bra from Third Love $66

I have needed a new strapless bra for forever but just have been putting it off. Now I found myself in a predicament because I bought the cold shoulder top but had no strapless bra for Valentines Day. I’d heard of Third Love and honestly thought oh com’n whats all the hype about. While it is more pricey than bras I’ve bought before the reviews were amazing and you can return the bra in 30 days so I thought ehhh just do it!  I’m so glad I took the plunge and tried it because it fits perfect and doesn’t budge even when I jump up and down. Now I’ve never had a bra do that, especially not a strapless. The best part is not only does it fit well but it lays perfectly with the cold shoulder top!

5. BareMinerals Pressed Ready Blush in color “The Indecent Proposal” $20

Getting that perfect mauve color on my cheeks is difficult. Every time I’m at makeup stores and the color looks perfect on the shelf but when I try it on my skin it looks way to pink. I had the girl at BareMinerals put basically every color blush on my face until we found this one. She was so surprised because she had never used this color before on anyone. Moral of the story try them all.

6. BareMinerals loose powder All Over Face Color in color “clear radiance” $21

I actually got this color for free with a kit I bought from BareMinerals and its the perfect everyday eyeshadow. It’s subtle and matches perfectly with the blush.

7. BareMinerals Matte Liquid Lip Color in color of “Swag” $19

I have Matte in Boss which is a great work color and fall color but I love swag. It’s that perfect mauve pink that completes the look. Now normally I do prefer a lip pencil but this matte lipstick does not come off and it is fiance approved. I’ve worn this lip color everyday since I bought it.

8. Piccadilly D30 slim protective phone case in the color “Rose” $21

Well long story short my phone was lost this week and I had to buy a new one. While that was a bummer, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. While shopping for phone I found this phone case. It’s super cute, durable, and affordable and of course has that pop of pink on the side. I’m obsessed!

Hope you love these finds and have a glamorous Valentines Day! Feel free to share your any pretty in pink finds you’ll be wearing the 14th!


My Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe

I am not a morning person so breakfast can be really tough for me. Over the past year I’ve been making a smoothie almost every morning just because of the convenience factor. At first I stayed with the most familiar smoothie I could make, strawberry banana. As I started to get sick of the same smoothie I started to think about what I could do to add more fiber and include vegetables without sacrificing taste. This is by far my best creation and just happens to come out green which scares a lot of people off but it’s actually delicious!

I have learned a couple of tips since I’ve started making smoothies that I think are really useful when getting creative with your smoothies.

  1. Plain yogurt tastes exactly the same as vanilla yogurt when added to a smoothie so skip out on the sugar and stick with the plain.
  2. While greek yogurt is enticing it only have a little bit of water content so unless you have a straw your smoothie is not going to move – stick with the regular yogurt.
  3. Kale > Spinach. Spinach does not chop up as smooth and has a more earthy taste that most people don’t prefer while Kale tends to be sweet and almost undetectable if the color wasn’t so obvious.
  4. Unless you have too don’t buy the fruit fresh. Number one it is very expensive to do that and actually during certain parts of the year when your fruit is out of season the frozen fruit has a higher nutritional content. That is because frozen fruit are typically flash frozen at peak season. Using frozen fruits will also keep your smoothie cold so you don’t have to add ice.
  5. Coconut milk > Cows Milk when it comes to taste. They are not equivalent in Calcium and Vitamin D however so if you’re looking to add those nutrients to your diet this is a not an equivalent switch. However, coconut milk seems to blend better with the fruit flavor and adds a nice sweetness that is not overpowering.
  6. A regular blender works to make smoothies so you don’t need anything fancy. If you go to cheap though they typically don’t last. I learned that the hard way….

So now onto  how to make the “Green Smoothie”


  • 1/4 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 frozen banana (un peel and put in freezer the night before)
  • 1/4 cup frozen kale
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed


Hope you enjoy! Share below your favorite smoothies you like to make at home!

Turn Your Living Room Into a Personal Gym

I know I usually post about food and nutrition but with the New Year and along with my upcoming wedding I’ve really been thinking about getting back in shape. Now usually I sign myself up for a race, lace my sneakers up and hit the pavement. However, January in NY is like the frozen tundra and the last place I want to find myself is outside. I thought about joining the gym too (which I might still sign up for…) but in the past it’s been to hard working two jobs, feeding myself, and finding time to take care of my rambunctious dog to actually hold myself accountable. So this year I thought I’d try a new angle for exercise – “could I workout at home?”. The answer is a hands down, YES! After five minutes of searching I found some pretty kick ass chicks on Youtube that have amazing workout channels that are FREE (which blows my mind)!

The best part about working out at home is you don’t need much and you don’t need to worry about people staring at you sweating or grimacing too. I do however use a yoga mat at home because we have hard flooring but if you have carpet you probably wouldn’t need one. I got mine from Target for $35 total but honestly the store FiveBelow has so many fitness gadgets that are so inexpensive it’s hard to beat their pricing when you’re on a budget.

YouTube Channels I’m obsessed with currently are …..

  1. Yoga With Adriene. Her channel is the bomb! I used to pay big bucks to go with my mom to this fancy studio when I was in grad school and these videos are right on par with instruction and somehow still FREE. She also has this 30-day challenge up for this year that is so motivating, relaxing, and is just the perfect combination of moves.
  2. PopSugar Fitness has a variety of videos with the end label of “class FitSugar” that are the perfect at home cardio workouts. They walk you through 30 minute routines that kick your butt, literally. I love that all the women in the videos just also seem like they are strong, confident women and they definitely keep you motivated throughout each video. Also as someone who used to do intense athletic training daily I can honestly say these workouts are top notch.
  3. Blogilates  is all about that core and who doesn’t love a good core workout! Cassie Ho is so upbeat and the videos are quick – ranging from 5-20 minutes. This is so great for depending on what mood I’m in or how much time I have. Not only does she talk about core she also dives into videos on improving posture! Posture and back pain are both things I really struggle with I think she’s got some great videos on this topic too.


Hopefully in the New Year you can explore a new workout channel and find one you love! Feel free to share below what channels on YouTube are your favorite!

2018 New Years Resolutions

So if you are starting your year off with a goal to lose weight you’ve come to the right place! As a nutritionist I love when people are motivated to change and the new year is a great place to start fresh. Weight loss can be beneficial to your health because is has been shown in research to improve health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, etc. However, losing weight is difficult and when starting out it is kind of like saying “I’m going to build a house but I’m not a carpenter”. That is why, I and other nutritionists, are here to help lay the plan out for you to make it easier and to help you achieve your health goals this year.

Before I get into any specifics I want to take a moment to talk about my own journey with weight and why I feel that is so important.

I can tell you from my own experience that I struggled with weight since I hit puberty. I went from being 105 pounds as a young elite athlete to quickly 120 pounds to then 135 pounds. Throughout high school I fluctuated weight and picked up eating disorder habits to lose weight which I brought with me to college. In college I was able to break that cycle but I stayed at my highest weight around 140 pounds. While I had broken the eating disorder habits I was still eating poorly overall and believed many food myths. I relied heavily on the idea of  the superfood mentality and I would eat one healthy food over and over again with very little thought of diet as a whole. I also was a big binge eater because I exercised 3 hours a day and basically never ate a cookie until I ate a cookie but it wasn’t just a cookie, it was the whole box. Among many other bad habits like sleep deprivation, stress, neglecting my hunger and satiety, and of course drinking in college I look back and think well of course thats why you were overweight. However, that’s so much easier said than done. When I talk to people and as I am writing to you I hope you can also think about your eating habits over time. How have they changed? Have you made healthy steps already?  Taking a look at where you are currently will help you understand how weight gain happened over time and what is holding you back from weight loss presently.

So how did I break the cycle. Well I learned a lot about nutrition and took those easy things that I learned and made lifestyle changes in my real life. Will I ever be 105 pounds again? No, but I’m happy with where I am now.

So why don’t diets work? Most are to restrictive and involve too many changes at one time. While many diets like low carb or high protein our popular and have significant weight loss results at 6 months the long term results are varied. Most find at 1-2 years out most people regain weight lost and no significant differences in weight loss between diets. If you are looking to follow any diet this year I would challenge you to go out of your comfort zone and try MyPlate.

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So if diets don’t work, what does? There is a lot of research on lifestyle changes, as I mentioned above, that improve your chances at long term success at keeping the weight off. Lifestyle Changes are basically goals that cause a long term change in eating habits that then cause changes in overall health outcomes over time. Your goal should be to make one change at a time so you know what works for you and make your goals SMART.

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Here are my top ten ideas that have been shown to help aid in weight loss and improve health.

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  1. Add a vegetable at every meal. We know from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that Americans eat less than 1 serving a day of vegetables when we should be eating 2-3 servings per day. We also know that vegetables are low in calories and sugar, and full of antioxidants that help us fight off cancer! Along with those properties they are also full of fiber which we also do not eat enough of according to Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Fiber helps us feel more full, keeps are bowel movements regular, prevents colon cancer, and keeps your gastrointestinal tract full of good bacteria which more research has come out to say may be influencing our weight too.
  2. While exercise hasn’t been shown to aid in weight loss it is one of the contributing factors for keeping weight off. Essentially those who are active are the most successful in long term weight loss. Even if exercise does not affect your weight it surely improves your cardiovascular system, lung capacity, muscular strength and improves bone health. Start out small! Remember you can’t help yourself if you’re injured and make sure to contact your doctor before exercising if you have an underlying medical condition.
  3. PACK YOUR LUNCH. Since I’ve started working in the workplace I can’t believe how often people eat out. Unless you have healthy options available packing your lunch can save you money and extra calories. When they’ve looked at diet quality of packed lunches versus lunches eaten out, packed lunches have a much higher diet quality overall. Therefore if you eat out often, this may be a good place to start.
  4. Drink more water. Sugar sweetened beverages are one of the biggest contributors of extra calories in our diets. Remember four grams of sugar equals 16 calories and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Added sugars will also soon be part of the nutrition facts label because it is a nutrient that we need to lower in our diets according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Less than 10% of our calories per day (approximately 200 calories) should be from added sugar. If you drink soda, gatorade, lemonade, flavored water, energy drinks check out the sugar on the back and do some math. If you drink one gatorade four times a week thats 600 calories extra per week with an extra intake of 140 grams of sugar, approximately 35 teaspoons of added sugar total! In one month thats 2400 calories right there cut out by switching to water.
  5. Measure out your portions. I mentioned in my journey above that binge eating was a real issue for me and I believe there are also many other people struggling with this too. Start out small by measuring portions when you are at home and compare them between what the recommendations are for portion sizes. Be prepared to fin that some food groups might be too big, some might be much smaller than initially thought. Even nutritionists can not eyeball this! Cornell University has done extensive research on this concept but summed up in a nutshell – our plate sizes and glasses can have a big difference on how much we eat. Therefore, measuring out can help some people have a more objective view on how much they are actually eating. I bought tupperware containers that have the amounts on them and that has been a quick easy way to “measure” without actually measuring.
  6. Make healthy food easy to grab! Cornell University also says this is a huge contributor to what we eat. Putting fruit out on the table increases our fruit consumption. Hiding or putting not as healthy foods in an opaque container decreases our consumption. Basically the easier it is to grab the more likely we are to eat it! Check out Dr. Brian Wansink’s Website Slim By Design to makeover your kitchen.
  7. Start weight bearing exercise. Most people pick up cardio to lose weight but forget about weight bearing exercises. Your metabolism is based on muscle mass so if you increase muscle mass your calorie intake needs increase. That is why men have a much easier time losing weight because they have a much higher natural muscle mass. So split some of the cardio off and add in some weights to your exercise routine.
  8. Meal planning can not only help your weight but your budget too. Meal planning dinners can help balance meals and make cooking easier. It also makes it less tempting to eat out if you already have dinner prepared. It has similar benefits to packing your lunch in that diet quality is higher when preparing a meal at home.
  9. Don’t deprive yourself. Let yourself have a little. My biggest downfall growing up was this. There is so much research on mindful eating it’s benefits for overall health and increasing diet quality. We often forget how important it is to just ask our body – am I hungry and what do I want? I really encourage you if you have binge eating habits to read books like Eating Mindfully or Intuitive Eating. There are also so many other great books and authors in this field so you are bound to find other great reads along with these.
  10. Carbohydrates are not the enemy! I say this in a loving manner but I know so many people that believe this to their core due to the Gluten free, Paleo, and other diets out their that may mislead with their beliefs. Research however shows that contrary to belief there are healthy options to eat that will also help with your waist line. Low carbohydrate diets have also been found in research to be one the hardest to follow. Therefore, I see most people giving up with these diets within two weeks because it’s just too hard. My advice, is to stock up on whole grains – they are full of fiber and protein that help keep you full and have other vitamins that white breads are stripped of. Of course use portion control too. Refer to MyPlate! Great options are buckwheat, oatmeal, quinoa, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, etc.


Hopefully, there is something here you can put into play this year. Feel free to share your experiences with lifestyle changes you have tried in the comments. I hope you have a very health filled 2018!


Kitchen Gifts That Keep on Giving

I really wanted to share my christmas list of things I absolutely can not live without in my kitchen. Many of them have to do with my last years New Years Resolution to use less plastic. I am really passionate about lowering my food waste and my impact on the food system so this decision was easy for me. However, it was also hard to navigate through at first. That is why I am really excited to share the things I found the most useful and also give ideas about the best cookware on the market that doesn’t pose risks to your health with contaminants.

If you want to learn about how plastic recycles into our food system I would highly recommend the Zooey Deschanel series “The Farm Project“. There are tons of short slips about our food system and she has a great clip on plastic and how that affects the environment and the fish we eat.

So here is my list of my top ten things I use in my kitchen daily. Descriptions are all below :).

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  1. Reusable Sandwich Bags. There are so many of these now on the market. I actually put more of these on my list this year because I currently only have two and wash them daily. We use significantly less plastic bags because of this but if I had more I wouldn’t buy any more sandwich plastic bags. Brands I love are Bee’s WrapLunch Skins(re)zip, and there are so many more. Cost wise you are looking at buying 2-3 bags for $15-20.
  2. Zwillings Chef’s Knife. My sister actually bought this for me as a housewarming gift and to be honest I was like “umm but I already have knifes”… but I was so horribly wrong. This is literally the only knife we use and we use it everyday. Best gift ever! They are costly for one knife but so worth it. Cost wise you are looking at around $70 for the Chef’s Knife.
  3. Glass Tupperware. Although I do own some plastic tupperware we really only use the glassware tupperware. I just don’t feel that overtime whether its tupperware or water bottles that chemicals don’t start to leech out so we made the switch to glassware mainly. At the time I just shopped around at TJ Maxx for deals but there are tons of great brands. I personally love the Life Factory Brand if you have kids it’s pretty kid proof but plain Pyrex are great too.
  4. Hard Anodized Non-Stick Pan. Somehow Kevin and I have made our way through multiple expensive non-stick pans because they always scratch and wear to the point where you don’t feel comfortable eating off of them anymore. Lots of people don’t realize too that as soon as a pan or skillet starts to wear it should be thrown out. While stainless steel is always a good option it is harder to clean and takes up more time so I have been looking for the best option and hard anodized is the way to go. I choose All-Clad as the way to go as a nutritionist it is known as typically the gold standard for brands but is definitely pricey. That being said I probably go through a pan every 1-2 years and these pans last a lifetime. Cost wise you are usually looking at $120 for two frying pans  but at Macy’s right now you can get two for $60.00.
  5. Norwex. I love this cleaning brand. This cloth is as easy as wash, rub together, rinse, and repeat. This one purchase has cut down so much on our paper towel use it’s unreal. The brand in general has so much to offer too for reusable cleaning products that are amazing. Cost wise for just $14 you can’t go wrong.
  6. Reusable Lunch Pals. I have three to be exact. You can never have enough in my opinion. I love the brand SoYoung because they have the cutest bags and they are made from recycled products themselves. The bag also is insulated and very high quality compared to other brands I’ve gotten.
  7. Yeti coffee mug. I actually won this mug about three years ago and I remember thinking really a mug. At the time it was like $75 for a mug and I was so confused by it. It was just a mug…… nope wrong! I bring this everywhere and even have it filled instead of getting the cups at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. It keeps my coffee or tea hot all day or my water cold all day. I use this everyday and it is life changing. Cost wise you are looking at $25 for your new favorite coffee mug!
  8. Stop using plastic bags! They are everywhere and there’s just no reason for it. Once I stopped using them I became more aware of how often they are given. I do still get them from time to time when I forget a bag but I make a point to recycle them at our local grocery store. The best thing you can do to stop using plastic bags is to stock up on reusable bags at your local grocery store and keep them in your car. I have about 10. I also have stocked up on produce bags from Norwex since I use those often too. Cost wise you could spend $20 dollars and have more bags then you need.
  9. Le Creuset Stoneware Cookware is the best! I think my mom has every kind of dish they make and it’s because they are really nice and last forever. It’s always nice to have a casserole dish that you can count on and they come in cute colors. Cost wise they are about $100 but you can also find them at TJMax for about half the price.
  10. Ninja Pro Blender. While having a big blender is nice. We’ve found that just the individual pro is great for everyday use. We’ve been making a smoothie every morning over the past year and it’s worked out just as well as my parents Vitamix. Cost wise you can get one for $60-80. (We’ve gotten a cheaper one from Walmart and that lasted for about 6 months so I would recommend against that.)

Well I hope these gifts help you pick out that perfect gift for that nutritionist or foodie lover in your life. Feel free to share your favorite gifts you given or received for the use in the kitchen!