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Healthy Start

Posted on Dec 23, 2019 in , Susan Benton , food , Healthy Eating , January–February 2020 , smoothie recipe

Prepping your meals in advance helps resist the fast food temptation. Photos by Susan Benton

A new year can be an exciting time for some, brimming with possibility and the promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. A new year offers the opportunity to reconnect with your health and your well-being too.

If you’re reading this article while in Seaside, you are already off to a good start, as there is nothing comparable to the joy of being surrounded by the good food, people and the good times that the New Urbanism town offers. The mesmerizing white sand beaches showcasing the turquoise Gulf waters doesn’t hurt either.

For some however, life gets in the way of what was fresh determination, making it difficult to stick to resolutions made. Luckily for us, attainable and sustainable resolutions do exist, and can be the foundation for a long, healthy and fulfilling life. Below are a few ideas to get you started.

First, if you are a cigarette smoker, quit. It will be difficult, but it is the best thing you can do for your own health and for those around you. Seek medical advice to make it happen.

Next, get at least seven hours of sleep a night. I am a four- to five-hour a night sleeper, so I get those who find it an effort to sleep seven. I invested in a couple of sleep apps, and I turn off all of my electronic devises an hour prior to heading to bed. I also set my phone alarm to alert me to do so, reinforcing my decision. I can honestly say that it has helped, and I do wake up more refreshed.

Last, focus on changes in your diet without actually going on a diet. For instance, hydrating is essential, especially when you are traveling, exercising, or in the sun. Hydrating your body aids in digestion and makes it less likely to mistake thirst for hunger. If drinking eight or more glasses of water isn’t for you, turn to water-packed fruits and vegetables and add water to your soups, stews, juices and smoothies.

Meal prepping is the perfect way to crush the siren song of fast food during a hectic week, and to make sure you are getting enough of your macro nutrients (protein, carbs, fats). I also prep prior to dining out, by perusing menus online and finding dishes that I know will satisfy me like those found at Chef Jim Shirley’s newest venture, Ji•Shi Ki•chn, located in the town center. The Coop Protein Stack topped with local organic chicken over collard greens with sweet potatoes, avocado, and boiled eggs is my go-to. It’s tough, but I do pass on the pimento cheese cornbread, which my husband quickly snaps up.

Whether you are on vacation or at home in your own kitchen, think about starting the day with a smoothie. Though I own a Vitamix, the Nutri Bullet was the best investment for our morning power routine. I hide veggies in my family’s fruit smoothies along with two scoops of protein powder, and feel good about sending them on their way for the day.

My mother always said, “Where there is a will, there is a way,” and I promise, with baby steps, if you stick to making small changes, it will go a long way in the future of your health.

Susan Benton is a food and travel journalist with published articles and photography in many local, regional and national publications. Her website is, where she writes about the secrets of Gulf Coast food.

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Healthy Start

Ji•Shi Ki•chn’s Coop Protien Stack is one of hundreds of healthy meals in Seaside.

Susan’s Smoothie

A creamy, sweet vegan green smoothie with banana, peanut butter, spinach, protein powder, berries and almond milk. The perfect healthy breakfast or afternoon snack.


1 medium banana (previously peeled, frozen and quartered)

1/2 cup mixed frozen berries

2 scoops of your favorite protein powder

1 heaping tbsp. natural, salted peanut butter

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

2 cups fresh spinach


Place all ingredients in a blender, Vitamix or Nutri Bullet and blend until creamy, adding more almond milk or frozen berries (or bananas) to thin/thicken, respectively. Serve immediately.

Healthy Start