Green Veggie Orzo Salad

Not only is this pasta salad delicious, it’s rich in nutrients and will keep you satisfied for hours! (makes 8 servings)

recipe inspired by and adapted from Gimme Some Oven blog recipe: Herb-Lovers Lemony Orzo Salad (Link: )


  • 1 12 oz box whole wheat orzo (can also use other types of pasta or lentil/chick pea pasta)
  • 1 bunch fresh broccoli, rinsed and chopped into little stalks
  • 1/2 bunch fresh asparagus (I used about 15 stalks)
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber diced
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice (or the juice of 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup basil and 1 cup mint, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 red onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook whole wheat orzo (other other type of pasta) al dente per directions on the box. 3-4 minutes before the pasta is done, toss asparagus in the pot with the pasta to blanch.
  2. Take asparagus out with tongs and toss in ice bath, removing after a minute or so.
  3. Strain and rinse pasta, allowing to cool.
  4. In a large frying pan, saute broccoli with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for roughly 5-7 minutes (should still be relatively firm).
  5. Toss together ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 405

Carbohydrates: 51g

Protein: 15g

Fat: 9g

Please, Don’t Call Me “Trainer”: Understanding Credentials in the Fitness Industry

By: Jeremiah Rowe, BS, CSCS, CPPS

I’m not writing this article to bash personal trainers out there. There are a lot who know their craft extremely well and offer incredible training. I have immense respect for anyone who goes above and beyond the minimal requirements to make sure he or she is offering a quality service. I do, however, want to differentiate between personal trainers (certified or not) and strength and conditioning coaches. Let me explain.

Personal training is currently not guided by any standards. I can think of 10+ organizations that offer their own personal training certification. Some of these are very high-quality programs that require months of preparation and background knowledge. Some offer an online course that you can read up on for a few hours and take an open book test and get your certificate in the mail a week or 2 later. Then you can go down to your local commercial gym, show them your piece of paper, and be on your way to training clients. The latter is the path taken by a vast majority of the personal trainers that I see.

Now, these trainers can give you a workout. They can make you sweat and maybe even throw up! Maybe you see some fat loss or muscle gain with them, and that’s great! However, are they able to walk you through an assessment that reveals physical limitations or areas of weakness? Can they modify exercises to work around injuries or joint disorders such as osteoarthritis? In most cases, I’d confidently say no. I’ve seen people who live rather unhealthy lives suddenly get interested in exercise, lose some weight over the course of a few months, and suddenly they’re a personal trainer taking clients. They know only what they learned for their own successes and use that as their only guide for training clients. A lot of this can be blamed on the rise of social media; online access has given under qualified people a voice that they probably shouldn’t have, and that’s scary when it comes to exercise.

Now, Let’s talk strength and conditioning. It would be irresponsible for me to ignore the fact that there are still several organizations that certify strength coaches. There will always be competition in that area. And I’m not saying that certifications are the end-all, be-all of athletic performance, either, as experience holds the most value. I’ll review my own experience with getting certified to set an example. Most would consider the “gold standard” certification of strength and conditioning to be the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. (NSCA). This is the route that I took when selecting a certification. Why? For one, it’s the most widely recognized by any hiring organization that cares. Everywhere you look for a job in the field, you can bet that this will be a minimum requirement for the position. Second, gaining your CSCS has certain prerequisites, like a bachelor’s degree. The standard for this is currently any bachelor’s degree (which is changing to only a strength coaching-related degree from an accredited college as of 2030). Third, it’s HARD TO GET. It took me 3-4 times starting to study, stopping, starting again, and over a year of dedicated studying before I was able to read/outline/study the entire 500+ page textbook and take my test. The result is me having that piece of paper (and a sticker!!!) that tells people I’m qualified. Rewarding; but still not enough to convince me that anyone who passes this can be a qualified coach.

That leads me into my third point, and what I feel is the most important differentiation between a personal trainer and a strength and conditioning coach. I’ve found over time in the strength and conditioning field that it’s highly intertwined with sports medicine. Many of the top strength coaches in the industry were previously physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, or follow and absorb information from top PTs like a sponge. I love the idea of creating a training environment that helps correct aches, pains, and injuries, while building muscle and gaining strength. It’s not rare to eliminate an issue that a client may assume will be with them for life in a few short weeks/months of intelligently programmed strength training. I’ve had clients show up to me with arthritic knees, herniated disks, low back pain, etc., and after a few weeks of training they tell me that their pain is completely (or mostly) gone. I LOVE that. After all, this industry exists to help people improve their quality and longevity of life. Having a client tell you what you’ve been doing with them is making drastic changes is incredibly rewarding. It is also a good opportunity to remind the client that THEY are the one putting in the work and fixing the problem. I’m just here to guide them. That is an empowering feeling for a client; finding out that they can take control of their life and minimize their chronic pain.

The problem is that, quite frankly, the vast majority of personal trainers don’t have the depth of knowledge to begin making those kinds of changes. It takes years of learning, practicing on yourself, and continuing education to get to a level of professional competence like that. It’s a never-ending learning process, and one that, even after my own 13 years of training, I’m still just beginning to grasp. A good coach will actively pursue furthering his or her education, always trying to learn new techniques, and give clients the best opportunity to improve, and learn. In my opinion, any less effort and self-discipline than that is simply unacceptable. So please, don’t call me a trainer. I’m a coach.

Jeremiah is the Lead Personal Trainer and Head Fitness Coach of Case Specific Wellness

Trying to Lose 10 Pounds by Memorial Day? Let’s Stop Right There.

Written By: Devon Kroesche, CSN Social Media Intern

Written By: Devon Kroesche, CSN Social Media Intern


Memorial Day Weekend is less than a week away, and many of us are packing our bags and headed to the beach for the first time in quite a while. Others may have plans for a backyard BBQ and pool party with friends. This unearths a wave of mixed emotions: the obvious excitement for a weekend getaway from the daily grind, and perhaps some lingering anxiety about donning a swimsuit and revealing your “beach body”. (more…)

Sleep and Your Waistline


Why adopting an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality is negatively affecting your weight (and a bunch of other things).

We’ve all heard about the importance of diet and exercise on health and performance, but did you realize sleep is just as important? With schedules that are packed with work, school, social and family obligations, (the list goes on), sleep often feels like an afterthought. You know, that thing you get to when everything else on the checklist gets done? But having good sleep habits allows our bodies to recover, promotes hormonal balance, results in improved focus and increased ability to handle stress (both mental and physical). Poor sleep habits, on the other hand, can result in fatigue, reduced performance, higher body fat percentage (2), hormonal imbalance (12,13) and increased risk for illness and injury (1).  According to the CDC, over 1/3 of American adults sleep less than 6 hours a night on average (the recommended minimum is 7 hours per night to keep potential health problems in check.) Recently, a major review found that shortened sleep (less than 6 hours per night) resulted in an increased likelihood of obesity in both children (89%) and adults (55%). Another study found that when restricted to 5 hours of sleep for 5 nights, participants gained an average of 1.8 pounds (4). Now imagine if that happens more than just five nights out of the year.

How can it have such an impact?


Tired of yo-yo dieting? Let’s try something new… This might be tough to hear, but diets don’t work.

As you may be aware, increased body weight is associated with an increased risk for many diseases, however, there is no well-established proof that higher body weights cause diseases.

In fact, weight cycling (often seen with dieting/yo-yo dietiting) may more likely be a causative factor in the development of diseases (insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia) than weight or BMI alone.

Research suggests that behavior change may play a greater role in health improvement in the absence of weight loss.

Not only can taking the focus off of weight feel empowering, but it has also been shown to significantly improve psychological & behavioral outcomes, particularly in improvements in self-esteem & eating behaviors. Health indicators such as blood pressure & cholesterol levels have also shown improvements with behavior changes regardless of weight loss.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at one of the largest & longest dietary intervention clinical trials– The Women’s Health Initiative. In this clinical trial, 20,000 women maintained a low-fat, reduced calorie diet & increased their activity levels, however after almost 8 years, there was no significant change in weight from the starting point. In fact, abdominal fat (measured by waist circumference) slightly increased.

We do not fail diets. Diets fail us.

Along with lowering our self-esteem, dieting may increase the risk of:

  • Weight gain / regain
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Osteoporosis
  • Decreased muscle mass / metabolism
  • Stress, anxiety & depression
  • Body dissatisfaction & preoccupation
  • Disordered eating / eating disorder behaviors
  • Social isolation
  • Devaluing of health promoting behaviors

You have the power to achieve health & well being independent of your weight.

I challenge you to re-think dieting this year and instead put your energy toward developing self-care & pro-health behaviors that leave you feeling good about yourself & your body!

At Case Specific Nutrition, we pride ourselves on offering individualized care to each of our clients. Are you ready to take a new approach? Email me at to set up a consultation!



“Weight science: evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift” by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

“The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss” by Tracy Tylka, Rachel Annunziato, Deb Bungard,


Ditch the Detox Diet!

With the coming New Year, you’re probably thinking about what diet & exercise resolutions to make this year. You are also sure to see countless “detox” diets & cleanses popping up all over the internet.

This year, instead of opting for a restrictive, potentially counterproductive “detox diet” support your body’s natural detoxification pathways via liver, kidneys & digestive tract with the following tips from a dietitian:

Include more plant based foods:

These foods contain antioxidants, B-vitamins & fiber help support our body’s natural detoxification processes.

  • Antioxidant rich foods: Berries, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, orange veggies, coffee, tea, dark chocolate & spices such as cinnamon
  • B-Vitamin rich foods: Whole grains, beans, fruits & veggies
  • Fiber rich foods: Beans, legumes & cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, cabbage)

Aim for ½ of your plate to be filled with a variety of veggies. Add fruit to breakfast, a snack or dessert – 1-2 servings per day is a good goal.

Build a wholesome plate:

Including veggies, protein, complex carbs & healthy fats at meal times will help promote satiety & energy levels that keep you going until your next meal!

Drink more water:

Staying properly hydrated allows your kidneys to remove waste products from your body via urine

Fluid recommendations vary from person to person- in general, you can estimate by dividing your body weight by 2.

Moderate alcohol intake:

Excessive alcohol intake can be taxing and damaging on your liver & kidneys. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women & up to 2 drinks per day for men. A note on red wine: Red wine contains polyphenols (antioxidants that help prevent cellular damage which can lead to heart disease & cancer.) If you choose to consume alcohol, including a 5 oz glass of red wine with dinner may have some protective effects.

Get enough sleep:

Sleep is the time for our body’s to rest, repair & recover. Adequate sleep promotes cardiovascular, kidney health, immune health & healthy weight (by balancing our hunger hormones ghrelin & leptin) as well as our insulin levels (the hormone responsible for healthy blood sugar levels.) Adults over the age of 18 require 7-9 hrs of sleep per night.

Move your body:

Not only can regular physical activity help support cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, bone health, mental function & sense of wellbeing, but it is also essential for regular bowel movements (one of our bodies detox methods!) Adults should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. 

Clean up your social media:

Although social media does not directly impact our physical health, it can have an impact on our self-esteem, mood & overall sense of well-being. If you’re currently following accounts that make you feel less-than or poorly about your self & self-image, it may be time to replace those accounts with ones that bring you joy & enhance your life!


Healthy Holiday Guide: A Realistic Approach To Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Student Spotlight by Therezia Alchoufete 

  1. Make Realistic Goals
  • Eat in moderation – recognize foods high in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium and avoid over-eating.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of family favorites – enjoy treats, but watch portion sizes.
  1. Find Time For Exercise
  • Incorporate physical activity into holiday chores – running the vacuum burns calories!
  • Take a walk daily – even if that means walking around the mall as you finish your gift shopping.
  1. Plan For Parties
  • Try to eat a healthy snack prior to going to the party to avoid over-eating
  • Avoid items that are high in salt or sugar, such as cheese dip and cocktails – liquid calories do count!
  1. Treat Yourself
  • Make time for sleep, family and friends – this will decrease stress and keep your metabolism going strong.
  • Avoid over-booking your schedule – the holidays can be busy, but leave free time for relaxation.
  1. Create Healthy Traditions
  • Cook with the family and let everyone choose a favorite recipe.
  • Modify recipe ingredients to choose low fat & low sodium options when possible.
  • Don’t change family favorites – instead, use portion control to eat in moderation.

Pumpkin Muffin


3 cups old fashioned oats
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. dark chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a non-stick muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients (oats–salt).
3. In another bowl whisk together all wet ingredients (egg–applesauce).
4. Add dry ingredients slowly into wet ingredients, whisking to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Transfer batter into muffin tins (about 1/4 c. per slot).
6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until tops are slightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Facts (per muffin):
Yield- 9 muffins
Calories: 186 kcal
Carbohydrates: 33g
Protein: 3g
Fat: 6g

Do This Form of “Cardio” For The Best Results

A very common question I get – “How much cardio are you going to make me do?”

Well, it depends…

First off, most people need to understand their ultimate goal. If it’s fat loss, then you will be using cardio as a tool to burn more calories. If you’re an athlete, you’re going to use cardio as a way to enhance your performance. Having coached competitive swimming now for 10 years, I understand there’s a clear cut difference between peaking someone for a long distance swim, and peaking someone for a 5-10lb fat loss goal.

Second, you need to take a look at your daily activity, not just what you do in the gym. Do you work a desk job? Are you a construction worker? Are you a stay home mom constantly running around chasing your child? Each one of these questions will have a different approach when it comes to cardio – why add more cardio to your day when you’re already running around like a crazy person?

In terms of burning calories and having a short-term goal of shedding unwanted body fat, cardio is a simple as placing your left foot in front of your right. Over and over again.

WalkingSo yes, walking counts. Even simpler, think movement – cleaning your house, chasing your kids, taking your dog out for a walk, etc. You name it, it counts as “cardio.”

If you work a desk job, and want to lose an extra 10-20lbs, think about what has changed over the last few years. On second thought, let me take a stab at it…your eating habits haven’t been the greatest and you sit way more these days, meaning you move less. Am I right?

Okay, Eddie, so what are you saying?

Keep things simple and don’t kill yourself in the gym with 5-7 days worth of cardio – I know I don’t and neither to any of my clients. Plus, is that even sustainable? Before you decide to add more to your already busy schedule, see where you are first. And how you do that is simple, invest in some sort of step tracking device (Apple Watch, FitBit, etc.) Track your steps for a week to gather initial data, and adjust from there.

Here’s my rule of thumb if your goal is to lose unwanted weight/body fat – assuming you have sound lifting program and you are eating according to your goals

• Gather a baseline with your steps, what’s your weekly average? I like to work all my Fit Bitclients up to ~70,000 steps per week

• If you are hitting 3,000 steps, or less, per day, aim to hit 5,000-7,500 steps per day for 1-2 weeks

• If you are hitting 5,000-7,500 steps per day, aim to hit 10,000-12,500 steps per day (on average, 10,000 steps will burn 500 calories).

• Find activities you ENJOY to increase your step count (walk your dog, play more with your kids, clean your house more often, park further away when you go to the grocery store, etc.)

The key, like anything else, is to have a plan, be consistent, and have patience. Now get up and move more!

-Eddie Larios

Founder/Coach for AMP Fitness

Click HERE to learn about my Women’s 6 Week Challenge

Don’t take my word for it, click HERE to get Melissa’s point of view!