Melissa Rudy

A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into the online content field in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.


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Why Breakfast for Dinner Is Always a Good Idea

The workday ended up turning into more of a work-all-day, you haven’t had a chance to hit the grocery store yet this week and the pantry isn’t looking too promising—but you’ve got a houseful of hungry people wondering what’s for dinner. Before surrendering to the DoorDash app, take another look at your inventory and consider bending the mealtime rules a bit. You might not have the makings of a traditional dinner on hand, but you probably have the ingredients to whip together one of the most magical concepts in meal planning history: breakfast for dinner.

In addition to the high deliciousness factor, enjoying a morning meal in the evening also can be a real time-saver. Many breakfast foods can be whipped together in just 10 to 15 minutes, notes Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., FAND, nutrition expert and author of "The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook."

“Having breakfast for dinner helps break up the monotony of dinner and also makes eating fun,” she notes. “You can find breakfast recipes to enjoy for dinner that are quick and easy. You can even meal-prep some recipes like a vegetable quiche or a Mexican egg wrap.”

Health coach Liza Baker adds that having breakfast for dinner can be a great way to use up any leftovers you might have on hand. “If you consistently make extra of everything you cook, you'll end up with a plethora of ingredients you can call on to whip up breakfast for dinner at least one night a week,” she says.

11 Nutrient-Rich Breakfast Choices


Of course, not all breakfast items make wise dinner choices. Registered dietitian Summer Yule recommends skipping the foods that are highest in refined flour and added sugar, such as many cold cereals, muffins and toaster pastries. 
Instead, opt for these healthier, nutrient-rich options:
  1. Eggs are packed with filling protein and contain very few calories (only 70 per large egg). “Making an omelet with cheese and veggies covers additional food groups and could not be easier,” Yule says. “And if you use chopped, frozen veggies to make your omelet, you don't even have to do any cutting.”
  2. Yule likes to think of plain, unsweetened oatmeal as a canvas for nutrient-rich fruits, nuts and seeds. “Plain, unsweetened oatmeal is one of the best cereal options, since it is a whole grain with no added sugar,” she points out. Plus, it contains soluble fiber that promotes healthy cholesterol levels.
  3. Yule says that plain (unsweetened) Greek yogurt is packed with protein, calcium and beneficial probiotics. “If you don't like plain yogurt, try the lower-sugar varieties (Chobani is one brand that offers lower sugar yogurt),” she suggests. And Amidor recommends topping Greek yogurt with nuts and fruit.
  4. Baker recommends cooking up a healthy hash for dinner. In a skillet with butter or olive oil, sauté finely chopped onions, peppers and any other raw veggies you like. Add leftover cooked potatoes, a cooked protein and cooked veggies. Stir until heated through, add salt and pepper to taste and serve with eggs any style (or not).
  5. Smoked salmon is one of Yule’s favorite ways to get some important omega-3s. She recommends preparing a whole-grain bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, which covers several food groups. “Consider adding some slices of tomato, cucumber or roasted red pepper to get some produce into the mix,” she suggests.
  6. Regardless of what you’re preparing, Baker says it’s always good to include some type of veggie or fruit. “Most American breakfast foods provide plenty (or too much) protein, fat and carbs,” she warned. “Your goal is to include some micronutrients from fruits and veggies to help those macronutrients do their best work in your body.”
  7. Protein shakes and smoothies can work well as a dinner option, especially if you’re looking for something light, slightly sweet and different, notes registered dietitian Ilana Muhlstein.
  8. Prepare a crustless quiche (or frittata) using any veggies, meats, beans, cheese and herbs you have on hand, Baker suggests. “Leftovers go in easily!”
  9. Fritters are another of Baker’s breakfast-for-dinner go-tos. To make them, combine two cups of cooked, leftover grains and finely chopped vegetables with one egg and one to two tablespoons of flour, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook as you would pancakes on a griddle with a little olive oil, butter, ghee or coconut oil. Serve with eggs any style or with apple (or other fruit) sauce or a little sour cream.
  10. Amidor loves to prepare shakshuka for dinner, which can be ready in less than 30 minutes. She serves it with her Israeli style salad and crusty whole-grain bread.
  11. Not only are breakfast foods quick, easy and budget-friendly, they can also be filling and nutritious when you choose the right foods.

Posted 8/19/2019  2:00:00 PM By: Melissa Rudy : 116 comments   60,849 views

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10 Ways to Spring Clean Your Life

When you hear the term “spring cleaning,” you might think of finally tackling that overflowing junk drawer, purging the pantry of anything past its prime or spending some quality time with the neglected baseboards. But the season of renewal doesn’t have to be limited to conquering clutter and fighting filth. It’s also an opportune time to refresh any daily routines, habits or choices that might not be benefiting your physical, mental or emotional wellness.

Not sure where to start? Here are just some of the ways you might be able to purge stressful or toxic elements from your life for a healthier, happier and more productive spring.

  • Streamline your subscriptions. In our automated world, it’s easy for subscriptions to pile up, often without us even knowing about it. Unsubscribe from any emails, physical catalogs, digital content or anything else that you no longer find relevant, useful or enjoyable.
  • Clean your social media house. Take some time to go through your friends or followers on your social media accounts, and remove, hide or unfollow any that seem to foster negativity or that don’t inform, entertain or inspire you.
  • Check your attitude barometer. A few times a day, check in with yourself—perhaps first thing in the morning, at the mid-day mark and in the evening—and evaluate the attitude you are embracing. If it’s drifting toward negativity, make a conscious choice to shift to a more positive outlook.
  • De-clutter your digital life. It might not be visible like physical dirt and debris, but clutter on your computer, smartphone or other devices can still weigh you down. Lighten your virtual load by purging and reorganizing your hard drive or cloud storage.
  • Set a new fitness challenge. Even if exercise is already part of your daily life, it’s a good idea to shake up your routine now and then to force yourself out of your comfort zone. Maybe that means registering for a race, pushing for a longer distance or faster speed, or enrolling in a class you’ve been wanting to try.
  • Do a good, old-fashioned closet purge. Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the past year—including any clothes you’ve been clinging to for way too long in hopes that you’ll be able to wear them again. Keep only those items that are comfortable and flattering.
  • Fix it or forget it. You know those broken items you've been hanging onto with the best of repair intentions? From flat bicycle tires to busted lamps to wobbly tables, phsyical disrepair can trigger feelings of stress and anxiety. Take steps to restore the items or release them from your life so you can start fresh.
  • Find your inner zen. While it’s not possible to remove all sources of stress, healthy coping mechanisms can make it easier to manage. Try introducing meditation, mindfulness, yoga, stretching, relaxing bubble baths or whatever practice brings more calm and serenity to your life.
  • Embrace a new hobby. Whatever it is you’ve been wanting to try—pottery-making, aerial yoga, poetry writing, bouquet-making—take the first step toward giving it a go. You just might discover a new passion in life, which can also serve as a major de-stressor and source of motivation.
  • Do a diet analysis. What are you eating that fuels and nourishes you? Conversely, what poor choices are having no benefit (or detracting from your health)? It might be a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist who can evaluate your food intake and recommend a varied meal plan with the right mix of nutrients.

Posted 5/30/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 274 comments   53,368 views

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13 Easy Ways to Add Moments of Joy to Your Day

While happiness means different things to different people, it’s probably safe to say that we all want more of it in our lives. For some, joy seems to come more easily, either due to natural optimism, an intentionally positive mindset or just a stroke of good luck. For others who might struggle with health issues, depression or personal challenges, happiness might seem more elusive.
 
There’s no such thing as a perfect life, and everyone has their own struggles and setbacks. It’s not possible--or even healthy--to pretend everything is hunky-dory or try to block out all negativity. But pursuing more moments of happiness throughout the day can help you lead a healthier, more productive life.

Posted 5/16/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 102 comments   42,310 views

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8 Gym Bag Essentials for 9-to-5'ers

The foundation for a successful workout is laid well before breaking a sweat. Half the battle is the prep, which is why fitness experts recommend setting out all your clothes and gear ahead of time. You’re much more likely to make it to an early spin class if you have everything set out the night before, and trading happy hour for power hour is much easier when your gym bag is already packed and waiting for you in the car after work.

Posted 5/14/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 96 comments   68,089 views

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10 Things to Keep at Your Desk for a Healthier Workday

Dr. James Levine is known for saying, “Sitting is the new smoking.” While you've probably heard this before, know that it’s more than just a catchy buzzphrase—his words hold some truth. According to studies, spending six hours or more per day in a seated position can increase the risk of diabetes, depression, obesity, high blood pressure and some types of cancer.

Posted 4/24/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 74 comments   24,190 views

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How to Make Exercising in Glasses Less of an Annoyance

Workout clothes? Check. Running shoes? Got 'em. Water bottle? Filled and ready to hydrate.

And if you need a little help in the vision department, eyeglasses might also be on your gym bag checklist. But while they might make it easier to see the treadmill monitor or your Zumba instructor's demonstrations, frames and lenses aren't exactly conducive to a hard-core sweat session.

Posted 4/16/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 63 comments   23,194 views

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Brighten Your Brunch With 20 Rejuvenating Recipes

Most people are raised on the traditional “three square meals” philosophy of eating. There’s breakfast, lunch and dinner—in that order, and each at its own fairly fixed time. But some people—particularly those who are not typically hungry right when they wake up, who are practicing intermittent fasting or simply don’t have time to eat in the mornings—prefer to eat their first meal a little later than most. And, of course, there are those lovely weekend mornings when you have the luxury of sleeping in and then enjoying a leisurely meal somewhere in that relaxed, slow-paced window between breakfast and lunch.
 
Which brings us to brunch.

Posted 4/8/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 70 comments   73,598 views

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20 Weeknight Meals That Are Ready in 20 Minutes or Less

“I have a bunch of extra time today, so maybe I’ll spend a couple of hours in the kitchen,”
said no busy person ever.
 
There are plenty of excuses for not cooking at home, but topping the list is lack of time. Between earning a paycheck, tackling the never-ending laundry, driving the non-drivers to wherever they need to be and tending to the constantly unfurling list of to-dos, finding a window in which you can shop for, prep, cook and serve a healthy meal that everyone will actually eat can seem like a recipe for frustration. Time is precious, so might as well order takeout, right?
 
But wait! What if we told you there are plenty of easy, hassle-free weeknight meals that can go from the pantry to the table in less time than it would take for the Uber Eats driver to reach your door?
 
Still skeptical? These 20 simple, speedy recipes come together beautifully (and deliciously) in 20 minutes or less.

Posted 4/3/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 83 comments   40,193 views

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Why EMOM Workouts Are Perfect for Anyone Short on Time

Every minute counts. It’s a philosophy that can be applied to all areas of life—particularly to exercise and fitness. Whether you have 10 minutes or a full hour to devote to physical activity, making the most of that time is essential to achieving the results you want and staying motivated along the way.
 
Of course, how you choose to spend those minutes will also determine how enjoyable (or grueling) they feel. If you hate the treadmill, half an hour will feel like half a day. Similarly, doing the same exercise for an entire workout, day in and day out, could be a recipe for burnout (not to mention the fact that it's an ineffective way to work your body).
 
Enter the EMOM workout. Short for “Every Minute on the Minute,” EMOM essentially involves doing a fixed number of reps of one exercise for a 60-second period, then moving on to the next exercise. If the reps are completed in less than a minute, the remaining time can be used for rest.

Posted 3/28/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 71 comments   26,665 views

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9 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump That Have Nothing to Do with Coffee

You woke up fairly bright-eyed, fueled up with a healthy breakfast, maybe squeezed in an energizing workout and then cruised through the morning with a decent amount of energy to spare.
 
Then came lunch.
 
There's something about the mid-day meal that seems to drain the energy reserves, leaving you feeling sluggish and sleepy. You might notice your productivity slowing down or screeching to a halt, maybe taking your motivation along with it. As the clock crawls toward 2 or 3 p.m., it could even become a struggle to keep your eyes open. But whether you're juggling work tasks, demanding kiddos or other responsibilities, you probably don't have the luxury of calling a "time-out" on life and crawling into bed for a nap.
 
Time for a trip to the coffee machine? Not necessarily. While it's fine to enjoy an occasional mug of that magical bean-derived elixir, there are other, healthier ways to pull yourself out of the afternoon slump.

Posted 3/26/2019  12:00:00 PM By: Melissa Rudy : 89 comments   155,938 views

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20 Meat-Free Recipes That Wonít Leave You Feeling Hungry

According to a recent poll, around 5 percent of Americans are vegetarian and 3 percent are vegan. But you don’t have to fall into one of those categories to enjoy the benefits of the occasional meatless meal. Including more plant-based foods in your diet can help to reduce your cholesterol and saturated fat intake, improve heart health, elevate energy levels and reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. Plus, studies show that plant-based diets are more conducive to weight loss, as meatless meals usually contain fewer calories.

Posted 3/19/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 62 comments   57,249 views

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8 Challenging Bodyweight Exercises for When You Canít Hit the Gym

Many people love going to the gym, spending hours each week making use of the abundant collection of weights and equipment. Others prefer to build their own fully equipped gyms, investing in dumbbells and other gear to replicate the experience at home.

But those aren’t your only options.

If your membership has grown dusty with neglect (or never existed to begin with), and you don’t have the extra money or time to purchase your own fitness equipment, you have everything you need to get a full-body workout in the comfort and privacy of home—and you’re already carrying it everywhere you go.

Posted 3/8/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 65 comments   29,053 views

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25 Healthy Recipes Absolutely Anyone Can Cook

“I don’t have time to cook.”
 
“Recipes are too complicated to follow.”
 
“Meal prep takes way too long.”
 
“I’m afraid I’ll mess something up.”
 
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Most people who eschew cooking do so because they assume it’s too difficult or too time-consuming. Maybe they peruse a few recipes with the best of cooking intentions, only to be scared off by complicated lists of ingredients and instructions.
 
But we’ve got some good news: You don’t have to choose between mastering culinary rocket science and waving the white flag for pizza delivery. There is a middle ground, and it’s home to plenty of nutritious and delicious recipes that require little to no kitchen expertise.
 
Still skeptical? Take a spin through some of our favorite easy-peasy, hassle-free, virtually failproof meals that you can whip together without breaking a sweat (or a dish).

Posted 3/5/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 77 comments   49,728 views

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20 Satisfying Slow Cooker Recipes

Slow cookers are the busy home chef’s secret weapon when it comes to streamlining meal prep. When life feels like a nonstop race against the clock, simply toss a few ingredients into this versatile countertop appliance on your way out the door. You'll be grateful dinner is already done when you come home to a simmering, savory, ready-to-eat meal.

Posted 2/27/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 47 comments   602,795 views

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This 30-Day Challenge Is All About Improving Workplace Wellness

You know what they say about "all work and no play." As it turns out, "all work and no wellness" might be the bigger culprit. Are you too busy at the office (or wherever your job takes you) to invest in the movement and meal planning your health deserves?

Posted 2/22/2019  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 69 comments   31,197 views

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