Nutrition Blog

Welcome to my Nutrition Blog!

Laura Frese, MMS, PA-C, RD received her bachelor’s degree in science nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University in St. Louis. She then finished her physician assistant studies and master’s degree in medical science at Northwestern University in Chicago.

She is a certified physician assistant and registered dietitian who is trained to provide low risk obstetric and gynecological services including prenatal care, pap smears, contraceptive counseling, and STD prevention and treatment.

Laura is uniquely trained to help teach, mentor, and advise women on nutrition and overall health. We are excited to have Laura head up a program where our patients will get more than just the general, “one-size-fits-all” nutritional counseling. For prenatal nutrition, general health, or weight loss, she is an excellent guide for counseling of effective nutritional and lifestyle habits that will assist patients throughout their lives.

She is an active member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

August is National Breastfeeding Month

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a great time to talk about nutrition for new moms and their babies! Human breast milk is the perfect nutrition source for an infant. It strikes a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, water and nutrients. It’s easily digested and absorbed, and its composition naturally changes as a baby’s developmental needs change.

For optimal nutrition for your infant, the U.S. Surgeon General and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months to provide optimal nutrition and health protection. Breast milk’s unique antibodies help protect infants from numerous illnesses and diseases, including ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and childhood obesity. Breastfeeding also helps reduce a nursing mother’s risk of diabetes and may aid in postpartum weight loss.

In addition to providing the best nutrition, breastfeeding provides a unique and emotional connection between mother and baby. While breastfeeding isn’t always possible for every mother and baby, the potential benefits make it worth discussing with your health care provider

For our mothers-to-be, the third trimester of pregnancy is a great time to learn about breastfeeding, so you can be informed and confident when the baby comes.

  •  Take a breastfeeding class. Check availability of the excellent course at Prentice Women’s Hospital. We hope to offer an additional course for our patients at WGON in the future – so stay tuned! Also take the time to learn about community resources such as lactation consultants, so you’ll know whom to call with questions or concerns.
  •  Read about it. Check out books and pamphlets from the clinic, hospital or library. The more you know, the more relaxed you’ll be in your new role as a breast-feeding mom.
  •  Prepare your home. Find a comfortable chair with good arm and back support. If you are comfortable and well supported, it will be easier to hold and nurse your baby.
  • Healthy newborns know how to find the breast and how to suckle. They just need plenty of snuggle time with mom to practice latching and help mom build up a good milk supply.
  •  Start nursing as soon after delivery as possible. The best time to start is within 20 to 30 minutes after your baby is born, perhaps right in the delivery room. The first feeding will be short, about 10 minutes.
  •  Room-in. Having your baby with you, instead of in the nursery, allows you to respond to your baby’s hunger cues immediately and can make your first days of nursing more successful.
  •  Nurse on demand. Signs such as increased alertness or activity, rooting toward your breast or mouthing all are signs that your baby is hungry. Typically, crying is a late signal of hunger. The more milk your baby removes from your breasts, the more milk you will make. Your breasts likely will make enough milk in response to your baby’s growing needs. Most infants will need several feedings through the day and night, especially during the first few weeks — about eight to twelves times every 24 hours. That’s because a newborn’s stomach is small and because nutrient needs are exceptionally high during this time of rapid growth and development. Frequent nursing helps establish your milk supply and keeps your breasts from becoming hard and swollen.
  • Ask for help. Prentice Women’s Hospital has nurses who can help with breastfeeding education and support, and there are also certified lactation consultants available to see you during your stay. Many community lactation consultants offer home visits to provide additional support once you’ve transitioned home.
  •  Relax and make yourself comfortable. Find a comfortable position in a supportive chair and you won’t feel much tension in your neck, back and shoulders. Or lie down with pillows strategically positioned to help you support your baby.
  •  Take care of yourself. Breast-feeding moms need plenty of nutrient-rich foods and lots of fluids to maintain their stamina while producing milk. Continue your prenatal vitamin as long as you nurse or pump. Make sure to get enough rest. Many moms take a nap while their babies sleep.
  •  Turn to resources for support. While breast-feeding is nature’s way of providing ideal nutrition for infants, the “art” of breast-feeding might not come as naturally. Like learning any new skill, the keys to success are knowledge, practice and the support of family, friends, and perhaps coworkers and employers. If you need help figuring out how to breastfeed, check with your pediatrician, a lactation specialist or one of The Women’s Group providers.
  • Optimal nutrition is important for ensuring your baby grows healthfully, while also keeping new mama healthy and helping her achieve post-baby weight loss goals. Here are some basic nutrition tips to keep in mind while nursing:
  • Eat a variety of foods from all five food groups. Visit to get a personalized eating plan for breast-feeding women.
  • For protein, choose lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds. Eat no more than 12 ounces per week of fish and shellfish, and no more than 6 ounces per week of albacore tuna, halibut and mahi mahi. Avoid fish with high mercury levels, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
  • Eat colorful fruits and vegetables. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit at lunch and dinner, and include fruit and vegetables in snacks.
  • Include three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese each day. If you don’t think you can tolerate milk, try lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified soy milk.
  • Choose whole-wheat bread, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta more often than refined grains.
  • Use healthful oils, such as olive and canola oil, but in small amounts since they can amount to extra calories.
  • Drink enough water and decaffeinated unsweetened beverages to quench your thirst. While you are breast-feeding, your need for fluids increases. Limit caffeine-containing beverages — including coffee, tea and soft drinks — to one or two 8-ounce cups a day.
  • Make smart food choices that are low in “empty calories.” Empty calories are found in foods high in added sugars and fats including soft drinks, desserts, fried foods and fatty meats.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (

 I Scream, You Scream,

We All Scream


So… is anyone else crazy about ice cream?! It’s one of my favorite sweet treats, especially in the summer time.

BUT – look at this nutrition label. This is Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream:

YIKES – almost 300 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 25 grams of sugar. And that’s just in a half-cup serving.  Eat the whole pint, and you’ve eaten your ENTIRE day’s worth of fat in one sitting — and twice as much unhealthy saturated fat as you should get in a day.

I never say any foods are off-limits, but this type of real deal, full-fat, full-sugar ice cream really should be saved for special occasions.

So what if you’re like me and crave ice cream every day…?! NICE CREAM to the rescue!!

Turns out, when you put frozen bananas in a blender or food processor, they give you a smooth and creamy soft-serve like consistency — which is the perfect base to make your favorite ice cream flavor.

  • Chocolate fan? Blend 1 frozen banana with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder.
  • Peanut butter your weakness? 2 frozen bananas and 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter makes the dessert of your dreams.
  • Fruity desserts more your style? Blend 2 cups of frozen pineapple, 1 frozen banana, and 2 tablespoons of milk.
  • Want to mix the chocolate and the fruit? Then go with 2 cups of frozen pitted cherries, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 cup almond milk, and 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips.


Now, I’m not going to try to tell you these taste like Ben & Jerry’s.. but I think they’ll hit the spot, satisfy your sweet tooth.. and add a little extra nutrition to your day too! Most of these are so healthy, you could even eat them for breakfast!


Find some more tasty recipes for “nice cream” and “smoothie bowls” at the following links:

Nice Cream Recipes | POPSUGAR Fitness

What’s not to love about nice cream? At its simplest, nice cream is frozen bananas blended up into soft serve, here are a couple links for you to check out:

Ten different flavor options of creamy vegan banana ice cream you can make at home, with just a few ingredients and a blender!

Smothie Bowls – BuzzFeed

Blend the strawberries, yogurt, 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup, and the vanilla until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and top with the cornflakes, strawberries …

How to Make a Healthy Smoothie Bowl for Breakfast – Bon …

If you’re drinking your morning smoothie out of a glass, you’re doing it wrong.

Enjoy! Laura

Cook Once, Eat All Week!

When thinking about healthy eating and weight loss, the easiest way to sabotage yourself is by going into a week without a plan. When you think ahead, plan your meals and snacks, and schedule your exercise in advance, your chances of success are far higher.

Oftentimes cooking at home is a much healthier (and cheaper!) option than dining out or grabbing takeout… but it also takes a lot of time. Meal planning and doing food preparation in advance can be a huge lifesaver!

It is possible to cook once and be fairly well set for the entire week! The secret is finding a few hours to set aside over the weekend or on your day off, where you can dedicate to planning and prepping. Then once it’s done, you don’t have to think again for a week!

I like to take time on Saturday to think about what I’m in the mood to eat this week. I often scour Pinterest for recipe ideas, looking for things that seem quick, healthy, and that would either freeze or reheat well. Then on Sundays I do my shopping and get right to the kitchen, where I chop, cook, package, and store my week’s worth of food away.

Here are some recipe ideas that are quick, healthy, and keep well for the week. Pick a few to try for the week ahead!

  • Overnight Oats — If you’re a Pinterest fan, you’ve likely seen recipes for this trendy breakfast pop up on your feed before. Overnight oats mix oatmeal, milk, yogurt, and fruits or other flavors together. The oats then soak overnight, and become smooth and creamy – without ever being heated or cooked. There are a million flavor combinations. Look through this list for something that sounds tasty to you, then try whipping up a batch and stocking the fridge with breakfast for the whole week:
  • Egg Sandwiches — Like a more savory breakfast? Egg sandwiches actually freeze well! You can either scramble the eggs, or bake them in muffin tins. Top with reduced-fat cheese, add a slice of low-fat deli ham or Canadian bacon if desired, place on a whole grain English muffin, and freeze! Zap in the microwave just a minute or so in the AM for a quick hearty breakfast:
  • Grab-n-Go Salads — Many salads will do well for the most of the week in the fridge.. The secret is picking the right ingredients, layering them in the right order, and waiting to put the dressing on until right when you eat it. This will help keep the veggies crisp and fresh! Salads are my go-to lunch most week days, and I prep them all on Sunday. My toppings of choice are tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumbers, beans, and reduced-fat cheese. Check here for more yummy combo ideas:
  • Grilled Bowls — If you’re not a lettuce lover, you can make a similar bowl that features grilled or steamed veggies instead. Bake or grill your protein over the weekend, chop up, add steamed veggies and cooked grains, and you’re all set!
  • Soups and Stews — A classic make-ahead meal, soups and stews often even get better as the week goes on and the flavors have more chance to meld! They can also usually be made in a crockpot, saving you even more meal prep time. Even though the weather is heating up, soup can still be a part of your meal rotation. Try this heart-healthy chicken chili:
  • Enchiladas — Make Mexican night quicker and easier with these make-ahead enchiladas. You can freeze the whole pan to feed the family, or freeze individually to reheat and eat with your lunch.


Hope these ideas get your meal planning brain ticking.. and hope you save time (and cut calories!) this week 🙂



The Holiday Season is here!

I have a turkey in my freezer, white lights and stockings hanging in my living room, and am starting to dream up my Christmas wish list — this can all only mean one thing:  the holiday season is here!

Did you know the average American gains one to two pounds each holiday season? This doesn’t sound like much – but the more startling statistic is that these couple of pounds tend to stick around, meaning after 5 years, you’re carrying an additional 10 pounds you hadn’t been previously.

Let’s all make it a goal this year to avoid the extra holiday gain, starting with Thanksgiving! I promise it is possible, with just a few simple strategies:

  1.  Do not skip meals. Too many of us now think of Thanksgiving as a day to eat until we are more stuffed than the turkey – but this is usually not that enjoyable, and it certainly isn’t healthy. Try treating Thanksgiving Day and other holiday meals as any other day – just with more fun seasonal foods! When you think of Thanksgiving Dinner as just “dinner,” one of three healthy meals in your day, it can really help overeating.  Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Including high-fiber foods (like fresh fruits and oatmeal) and protein (like Greek yogurt or eggs) will make a satisfying, healthy meal that will help keep you full. Then when you approach the Thanksgiving buffet later, you won’t be ravenous – and will be in the right mindset to make healthy choices.
  2.  Use a smaller plate. Many studies have concluded that people tend to underestimate their portion sizes when eating off larger plates or bowls. To help keep your serving sizes in check, choose a smaller plate, such as a salad plate, if it’s available.
  3.  Keep MyPlate in mind. Remember the “MyPlate” method I had sent out several months ago? Half the plate is fruits and veggies, 1/4 is protein and 1/4 is carbohydrate. Aim to keep this same breakdown going on Thanksgiving Day. And start by eating the veggie side first. Research shows that eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall.
  4.  Stay mindful. Eat slowly and savor every bite. Research has proven that when people eat slowly, truly taste their food, and pause between bites, they tend to eat less. This is typically because we realize we are satisfied before that point of “so stuffed I need to unbutton the pants” hits. Before going back for seconds, wait for 10 minutes as your food settles to see if you really are still hungry. If you’re feeling full or even satisfied, focus on enjoying the company of those around you — another wonderful part of Thanksgiving is time spent with those we love! You can always take some leftovers home to enjoy another day.
  5.  Remember – turkey and potatoes are available every day of the year.  A common thought process on Thanksgiving only comes once a year, so we have to go all in. Try counteracting those thoughts by reminding yourself that you can get turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, and other common holiday dishes literally any other day of the year. Pick and choose which of the indulgent items you really want on your plate. If Grandma’s homemade stuffing really is a once-a-year item, then enjoy every bite — but maybe skip the store-bought dinner roll or candied yams that you don’t really love all that much (for example).
  6.  Stay active. You’ll likely feel less guilty and less miserable after a Thanksgiving feast if you’ve kept up with your physical activity routine throughout the season. Sign up for a Turkey Trot in your neighborhood, or get your family involved together to go for a walk or start up a game of flag football.
  7.  Remember the “reason for the season.” The reason for Thanksgiving is right in the word itself — a time to be thankful, and a time to give. Challenge your family to take attention away from the giant feast, and make Thanksgiving about something more. Spend time sharing gratitude for all the wonderful things in your life, or find a local charity that you can volunteer or donate to.

Get Moving!

First tip is that people need to just move, get out walk, run, bike, or roller blade.   The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that

adults engage in 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes 5 times a week, of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking, to help improve overall health

and fitness and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases. Also recommended, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise getting your heart rate up to 60 to

90% of maximum heart rate, such as running, biking, stair master, elliptical or HIIT (high intensity interval training).

To learn more about Paul and his training services, please visit:







Guest Blogger – Paul Roberts, CPT-CES-WES,
National Academy of Sports Medicine, certified personal trainer.

Fueling your fitness

When it comes to fueling your fitness, you’ve probably heard a lot of conflicting tips. Should you exercise on an empty stomach, or have a snack before? Is protein or carb better for pre- and post-workout snacks? Does eating after the gym undo everything you just did during your workout?

To help set the record straight, I’ve pulled some tips and tricks from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics website, to give you the dietitian’s point of view on proper fuel for your fitness goals.

We will cover the following topics on my blog:

Is it best to work out on an empty stomach?

Are sports drinks and energy gels helpful for maximizing workouts?

What are good snacks to eat before or after a workout?

Will increasing my protein intake help make my muscles grow? 

If I exercise regularly, that means I can eat whatever I want and stay the same weight -right?

Is it best to work out on an empty stomach?

Since our bodies need fuel to function, it’s important not to exercise on a completely empty stomach. If you’re asking your body to run, jump, swim or lift weights, having a snack or light meal before exercise will help improve your exercise performance by giving you the energy your cells need to keep pushing. It will also help keep your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Don’t forget to hydrate before, during and after you exercise as well!


Are sports drinks and energy gels helpful for maximizing workouts?

To be honest, there’s nothing special about the many sports drinks, gels, and energy supplements on the market. Replacing the fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates lost during a sweaty workout is very important for your health, but doing so doesn’t require special products. Real food and water can provide the same benefits, when you’re making the right choices. (More below!)


What are good snacks to eat before or after a workout?

Before exercise, it’s helpful to have a light, carbohydrate-rich snack to give your body the quick energy it will need to fuel muscle activity for the 30-60 minutes ahead. If possible, aim to get 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates in about an hour before your workout. This can be as simple as a handful of dry cereal, a slice of toast, or a small smoothie.

After a workout, it’s important to reload your muscles and give your body the fluid and electrolytes it lost through sweating. Because we are now focusing on repairing, restoring and replenishing, it’s helpful to have both protein and carbohydrates together, ideally within 15 minutes to an hour after your workout. If you won’t be having a regular meal anytime soon, try a light snack such as: 8 ounces of low-fat chocolate milk; 1/4 cup of trail mix; 1/2 PB&J sandwich; handful of pretzels with 2 tbsp hummus.  Make sure you’re measuring out your portions so that your food truly is a replenishing snack, not a feast that undoes your workout.


Will increasing my protein intake help make my muscles grow? 

While protein is definitely an important part of a balanced diet, unfortunately eating extra protein will not magically result in more muscle mass. The only way to truly grow muscles is to put them to work! Carbohydrates are actually the best fuel for working muscles. Protein is important for muscle recovery, but having too much protein can be hard on your diet.  Having 3-4 ounces of protein per meal should adequately meet your needs.


If I exercise regularly, that means I can eat whatever I want and stay the same weight -right?

I wish! Unfortunately, this is wrong. It’s not that easy. Working out does not give you a free pass to forget about portion sizes and healthy eating guidelines we’ve been discussing all year. It’s easy to overestimate the number of calories you burn when working out, and most fitness equipment miscalculates calorie burn as well.

Athletes who are engaging in serious endurance training likely need to adjust their calorie intake to accommodate their workouts and focus hard on recovery nutrition. But for the rest of us, who exercise an hour or less each day, simply continuing to follow a healthy, balanced, portion-controlled diet is most important.


I hope this was helpful! To learn more, check out:

Fueling Your Workout – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Eating right on game day is your secret weapon for top-notch performance, whatever your sport. Get a nutrition game plan with these nutrition tips. Whether you’re a …

 August is Kids Eat Right month.

I know not all of us are mothers to young children, but even if you are a big sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a babysitter.. you still have an impact on the health and nutrition of children around you!

A recent study from Denmark found that when children have an elevated body mass index (BMI) during childhood, their risk of having strokes early in adulthood increases. This study is just one among many that show us that lifelong health really does begin in childhood.

The best thing we can do for the children in our lives is to be an example of healthy living. When we choose fresh fruits and vegetables, limit our junk food intake, keep an open mind for trying new things, and exercise regularly, we show our kids how to live a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.

Getting kids involved in food shopping and meal preparation also helps engage them in healthy living. When kids have the opportunity to help build a meal, they are more likely to take ownership of it and be excited about trying the new dish. Make sure to pick tasks that are age-appropriate – whether that is measuring an ingredient, stirring, or chopping things for the older young adults.


If you are a mom with kids at home, here are a few great articles for this crazy busy back-to-school time. Read more for fun breakfast ideas and ways to make sure your kids stay active throughout the year ahead:

Best Breakfasts for Your School Crew

What is the best breakfast for kids this school year? It’s the breakfast they will eat, whether than means cereal, eggs or toast, or leftovers, a quesadilla or cheese … click on the list above to read more.

Back to School: Keep Exercise at the Front of the Class

As school returns to session and the days get shorter, it can be more challenging to ensure that your child is engaging in enough daily activity… click on the list above to read more.

For additional information visit:



Breakfast of Champions!

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times… “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” There is a lot of truth to that statement!

Breakfast boasts lots of benefits! It…

  • kick-starts your metabolism every morning so your body can be a calorie-burning machine all day.
  • gives you a boost of energy so you feel sharper and ready to take on the day.
  • helps nix the morning grumpiness and grogginess you might otherwise feel.
  • adds in important nutrients you might miss completely if you skipped the AM meal.
  • can help you lose weight and maintain that weight loss over the long-run.

Many nutritionists even believe that we should make breakfast not only the most important meal of our day, but the biggest meal too! The saying goes, “Eat like a queen at breakfast, a princess at lunch, and a peasant at dinner.” By eating our biggest meal in the morning, we give our bodies time to really use that fuel and burn those calories throughout the day…which we don’t do when we eat a big dinner at 7 p.m. and go to sleep a few hours later!


Even if you’re not ready to make breakfast your feast meal, try starting your day with SOMETHING in your stomach. A perfect breakfast combines fiber, protein and a little simple carbohydrate. This winning combo will give you a little quick energy (from the simple carb) that also has lasting power (from the protein + fiber) that will help power you through to lunchtime.


Here’s a few great ideas that are quick, easy, well-balanced and tasty too!

  • 1 slice of whole grain bread + 1 tbsp. peanut butter + 1/2 sliced banana
  • smoothie made with 4 oz. greek yogurt, 1 c. berries, 1 tbsp. flax seed
  • overnight oats made with 1/2 c. oatmeal, 1/2 c. yogurt, 1/2 c. almond milk, 1/2 c. berries
  • 1 slice of sprouted grain bread + 1/4 mashed avocado + 1 poached egg
  • grab-n-go egg muffins (scramble raw eggs and bake in muffin tins with veggies and low-fat cheese)
  • breakfast burrito, made with whole grain tortilla, 1 scrambled egg, 2 tbsp. salsa, 1/4 c. chopped pepper, 1/4 avocado

And these websites have a lot more yummy ideas to try!


Happy breakfasting!


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