kNOw Fad Nutrition


As quoted by Michael Pollan, bestselling author and huge source of influence in the world of health and food, we are living in the “the age of nutritionism”.  There is a recent preoccupation with only eating food for it’s specific nutritional properties, function, or health claim – rather than simply just eating real food.

With the uprising epidemic of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc., it is perfectly understandable why this diet mentality shift is taking place. People are beginning to realize that the food they are consuming is making them sick instead of giving them life.

The food and diet industries have taken advantage of this and have flooded the markets with books and products promoting weight loss and health claims, many of which are not founded by scientific evidence. It is easy to get lost in all the craze with so many different fad diets being introduced… paleo, low-carb, vegan, atkins, plant-based, ketogenic, gluten-free, carnivore, raw, the list goes on.

I am not here to tell you that these diets are good or bad. I’m here to de-clutter your brain, to give you the unbiased evidence-based facts, and to make things a little more simple when it comes to eating FOOD.

Create energy balance. Eat whole foods. Eat your veggies.

Simple, right? Not so much, let’s dig a little deeper into what this means.

Energy balance is achieved when the number of calories eaten is equal to the number of calories burned. Calories IN = Calories OUT. The time of day, type of food, or even nutritional properties do not affect your weight. Whatever “diet” you embark on, it will always come down to energy balance. Want to lose weight? Create a calorie deficit. This means burning more calories than you consume. Want to gain weight? Consume more calories than you use.

Eat whole foods. The more refined and processed a food is, the further it is from it’s natural state. Nature has a magical way of creating the perfect food. When you take away parts of it or change its composition, you are taking away from its perfect balance.

Eat your veggies. We all know this one. The USDA has been providing research founded, evidence based dietary guidance for over 100 years now, and even though much has changed over the years and new conflicting research surfaces constantly, one thing has not changed; vegetables are good for you. The USDA recommends eating AT LEAST 5 servings of vegetables per day.

These three facts are timeless. Take this bit of information and use it as your new platform to educate yourself on the facts, not the fads.

And one last tip from me, enjoy the foods you eat.

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”- Michael Pollan

Samira Dilles, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

Our kNOw Fad Nutrition course which goes more in depth about the above principles runs from February 11-April 1, 2019. Contact our nutrition team at 775.770.3632  or to learn more or to sign up!


Winter Kohlrabi Salad

Winter Kohlrabi Salad

Try this delicious and healthy seasonal salad with all the crunch and flavor you’re craving!


  • 1 medium purple or white kohlrabi
  • 1 bunch lacinato (Tuscan) kale
  • ¼ head red cabbage
  • ½ cup chopped raw almonds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • juice of half an orange
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey or agave (optional)
  • salt to taste


Shred or julienne kohlrabi, the skin can be eaten! Add thinly sliced kale, cabbage, almonds, and sesame seeds. In a small blender, add all dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour over veggies and massage the dressing into the veggies for a few minutes. Allow salad to marinate for at least 1 hour for best flavor. Salad stores really well in the fridge for 2-3 days!

*Not sure what kohlrabi is? Kohlrabi is a vegetable in the brassica family, meaning it is related to broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Brassicas are cruciferous vegetables that are known for their protective qualities against cancer.

The vegetable looks like a root but it actually grows above the ground. Its flavor and texture are very similar to broccoli stalks. This vegetable is very hardy and can be grown in Reno winters. It actually prefers cold weather! Check out this picture of a freshly harvested purple kohlrabi from my 2018 winter garden.


Recipes developed by Samira Dilles, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. For more information on nutrition, recipes, or meal prep, please contact our Nutrition team at 775.770.3632.

Good-For-Your-Gut Hot Cocoa


The snow has hit the valley floor! Let’s welcome the season with a cup of hot cocoa that has a gut-healthy twist! Hot cocoa tends to have quite a bit of sugar and a whole lot of calories. This hot cocoa is low in calories and high in protein, so get your blender and whip up this frothy cup of comfort in less than 10 minutes!

Makes 2 servings


  • 1 tbsp collagen or unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar or ¼ tsp stevia (for no sugar)
  • 2 cups hot but not boiling almond milk or water



Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds. The proteins in the collagen/gelatin mixed with the healthy fats of the almond butter will make a wonderful foam that will have you skipping the whipped cream on top!

Recipes developed by Samira Dilles, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. For more information on nutrition, recipes, and meal prep, please contact our Nutrition team at 775.770.3632.

Creamy One-Pot Squash Sweet Potato Soup


The cold weather has arrived and what better way to warm yourself up than with this fall-themed soup. A perfect blend of seasonal herbs and veggies to hit all the right spots! This is a perfectly light soup to make after a weekend of feasting!

Creamy One-Pot Squash Sweet Potato Soup

(serves 2)


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups cubed squash (butternut, acorn, or kabocha)
  • 1 cups cubed sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pumpkin seeds for topping (optional)



In a medium sized pot, preheat oil with whole garlic cloves on medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add squash and sweet potato and sauté for another 3-5 minutes.

Add broth or water, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth (can also be done in a blender).

Serve warm, topped with pumpkin seeds and more parmesan if desired.

Recipes – Eggplant Pie

Eggplant Pie

Cooler weather has us reaching for comfort food, and this lightened up lower-carb version of Eggplant Parmesan (or Eggplant Pie as Samira calls it) has us ready to go home and cook!

Don’t worry, this isn’t some weird way of sneaking vegetables into your dessert. This eggplant pie is a perfect side dish. Warm, savory, and full of nutrients!

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium/large eggplants, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into rounds
  • cheese for topping (mozzarella)

Preheat oil in a small pan. Saute onion and garlic on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Set aside. In a large pot, cover egg plant with water, only covering half-way. Bring to a boil and simmer until all water is evaporated. Using a potato masher, mash egg plant until creamy. Add sauteed onions and garlic, basil, and Parmesan. Mix well and remove from heat. Mix in one raw egg.

In a 10-inch pie dish, spoon egg plant mixture and smooth the top. Top with tomato slices and cheese. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy with your favorite protein and a side salad. Yum!

Recipes developed by Samira Dilles, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. For more information on meal prep, please contact our Nutrition team at 775.770.3632.

Dance 4 Life 2018 – Who Do You Dance For?


October 3, 2018 may have been a normal Wednesday for most, but for my family (shown above at the 1st Dance 4 Life Event 3 years ago) this marked the ten-year anniversary of my sister Amy’s passing. Over time the pain of losing her has lessened, but the pain caused from a suicide loss can never be completely healed.

My family was left with many unanswered questions. Was there was something we could have done? How could we have not seen the warning signs? Did we see the warning signs and choose to ignore them? The answers to all these questions will go unanswered, and we now know what happened was out of our control. What we do get to control is how we choose to remember her. Do we remember her as someone we lost to suicide? Or, do we remember the person she was at her best?

For many years we chose the first option. We mourned her loss at her birthday and at the anniversary of her suicide. We spoke of how she died often, and spent too much time trying to figure out “what went wrong”. Three years ago I decided something had to change. Enough time had passed that we needed to start processing the pain in a new, healthy way, for where we were in the grieving process. This was the start of our annual Dance for Life event

To hear my full story, and more details about how Dance for Life was created, read this post from 2016:

Our third annual Dance for Life event will be held on November 20, 2018 from 8:30am to 12pm at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center. This year’s event will be a $5-10 suggested donation and it will benefit the Crisis Call Center.

The schedule is as follows:
8:30 am: Welcome & Refreshments
9 am: Cardio Dance with John
10 am: Barre Basics with Stacey
11 am: Yoga with Eren

I would like to invite anyone who has lost someone to suicide to come, dance, and celebrate the lives of those we loved and lost. This year, ten years after my sisters passing, I will dance for Amy. A kind soul who touched everyone she met. Who will you dance for?

By: Eren Sanborn, Group Exercise Supervisor, Saint Mary’s Fitness Center

5 Tips for Mindful Eating During the Holidays


With the holidays approaching, now is a good time to begin thinking about how you’ll stay on track with your fitness and nutrition goals this season. Many of us treat the holidays as a free for all vowing to enjoy now and recommit January 1st.

But January 1st usually rolls around and you don’t feel great after the added holiday calories and less time spent being active. And, with the added sweets, chances are you are craving sugar more than ever. Here are our 5 top tips for avoiding these holiday eating pitfalls without completely avoiding all the fun too.

  1. Control portions of richer foods and fill up on extra veggies. A good motto to follow is “veggies most.” The more veggies you add to your plate, the less likely you’ll be to overeat the calorie dense stuff. Serve yourself a small portion of these yummy rich foods, and allow yourself to enjoy them. Just don’t overdo it.
  2. Only eat when you are hungry. One of the biggest problems people have during the holidays is all of the “treat” food that is around all of the time! Extra food and treats at work, parties with tons of sweets, and days spent cozy at home with friends and family. Mindless eating during these times can get you in trouble. If you allow yourself the occasional treat, that’s one thing, but daily overeating of these foods just because they are present all the time is what can get you in trouble.
  3. Plan ahead. Bring healthier snacks to work so you can avoid the stuff in the break room. Bring a healthy version of your favorite holiday dish to the potluck. Just serve one or two of your favorite high-calorie dishes at holiday dinner and opt for more veggie sides this year. There are lots of ways you can cut back if you plan ahead and commit to your plan.
  4. Make substitutions & track your eating. If you know you are going to a party for dinner, have a salad for lunch instead with a lighter dressing. If you know you want to have that cookie from the break room, give up dessert later that night. One of the best ways to stay on top of this is to use a food tracker app or keep a food diary. That way you have to record everything you eat and you have a visual reminder and can plan and adjust accordingly.
  5. Slow it down. Eating more slowly and taking frequent sips of water between bites can help give your brain enough time to send a message to your stomach that you are full. This will help avoid overeating and keep you from heading back for seconds.

And…even if you aren’t getting to the gym as much this time of year, find ways to stay active between holiday celebrations. Get the whole family out for a walk after a big meal, go outside and play a game of touch football, or a fun winter activity like snowshoeing, ice skating, or skiing. Any amount of exercise you can squeeze in during the holidays will help you get back on track in a routine come January.

If you have any other tips and tricks to share, please do so in the comments. In the meantime, we hope these will help you have a fun (and much lighter!) holiday season!