What A Nutritionist Eats in a Day | Alyssa O'Brien, RD, LD

By Jackie Cartier
April 7, 2016


I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of Dishing Up Nutrition is when the nutritionists share dishes they’ve thrown together for a balanced meal. The meals always sound so delicious and doable that they inspire me to get back in the kitchen and prep for the week ahead. With that in mind, I asked Alyssa, our newest Nutritional Weight & Wellness nutritionist, to share a day of her meals and answer questions about how she cooks. Without further ado, here’s what Alyssa had to share.

Do you have any tips or tricks that make meal prep easier?

At our house, we almost always double recipes to have options to pack for meals or snacks throughout the week. As you’ll see in my meals, we often incorporate last night’s leftovers into breakfast to balance a new meal the next day. Another tip is to use your unexpected “free time” to get some prep done. For instance, often while I’m cooking or while we’re eating dinner, I will roast a bunch of veggies or bake a bunch of sweet potatoes  to have on hand for later meals.

What staples do you keep on hand for a good standby?

When we’re grocery shopping, we almost always come home with some type of ground meat to make into patties or add to meals. Same goes for greens, whether kale or spinach, we always have some in the refrigerator to use in salads or sauté. Okay, this list is longer than I thought! We also always have eggs, canned coconut milk and a supply of nuts that I can bag up for my purse if I’m in a pinch for time.

We’ve seen this question floating around the blogosphere and thought it’d be fun to ask: What are the top five most-used items in your kitchen?

Only five? Off the top of my head, our food processor, garlic press, Himalayan salt, cumin and extracts—vanilla, almond, and lemon extracts are my favorites. I love extracts. Can they count as one item? And for one bonus item, I have to say lemons; I can’t live without them either! I use them on dressings, in my water, and in cooking.



Leftover salmon, with sautéed kale and an over-easy egg, sprinkled with smoked paprika + a side of frozen raspberries.

I generally aim for 4 oz. of protein per meal, and one egg isn’t enough, so for this breakfast I added leftover salmon from the night before to get enough protein. In addition to the protein, I try to eat at least a cup of veggies in the morning, whatever I have on hand, greens, broccoli, etc. Breakfast makes for easy clean up because I sauté everything in the same pan. First I’ll cook the veggies in olive oil, butter or bacon grease for my fat. Once those are out, I’ll add more fat and make my eggs. To top it off, I frequently add smoked paprika to an egg at breakfast; it gives it a smoky, almost bacon flavor, which I love. I’d say this was a pretty typical breakfast. I added the side of raspberries for a bit more carb since kale is non-starchy vegetable. When I have fruit or a starchy veggie for breakfast, like these raspberries or half a sweet potato, I notice a little more energy and feel a little bit fuller.

Beyond what you see here, I often take a bifidobacteria probiotic before breakfast.


Bratwurst with sautéed asparagus and fresh papaya.

This lunch was pretty much what was available. We had leftover brats, and asparagus was fresh and on sale, so I grabbed it earlier that week. I try to go for seasonal produce like that. I generally don’t have much fruit on hand, but while shopping I saw papaya and knew that it would be a good source of vitamin A and enzymes that aid with digestion.


Deli meat, mixed nuts and a clementine.

This was pretty much a grab-and-go afternoon snack to bring to work. I always have a baggie of mixed nuts on hand, and I occasionally have quick, easy fruits as well. Last week I had kiwis, and sometimes I bring veggies like carrots.

To save time, another thing I do is build a big lunch and have a little of that for my afternoon snack.   


Seafood stew made with chicken thighs and chorizo, topped over brown rice. Side of arugula and spinach salad with lemon vinaigrette.

This was a fun seafood stew—is it jambalaya or gumbo? I can never remember which is which! It had chorizo for the base flavor, chicken thighs (bone-in) and seafood, whatever was on sale. We recreated this based off a friend’s dish that I loved.  The whole thing is cooked in a fish stock and served over ½ cup of brown rice, with a salad on the side.

My husband and I like to do more involved, bigger dinners like this on weekends or when we entertain. These meals are also great for leftovers. On weekdays, our cooking is pretty functional, as you’ve seen.

We’ll share another day of Alyssa’s meals next week! If you want to get that delivered to your inbox, sign up here for our newsletter.

About the author

Jackie Cartier is Content Strategy Manager for Nutritional Weight & Wellness. She was once a client, seeking natural solutions to her achy runner knees and hormonal imbalances. From then she was hooked and eventually ended up on their team, spreading the real food message on the blog and through social media. 

View all posts by Jackie Cartier


Cheryl Dickson
The Seafood stew looks delicious! I'm having a hard time finding wild caught shrimp - is farm raised okay or should I substitute wild caught scallops for the shrimp? Another fish? Thanks for sharing!
May 17, 2017 at 2:52 pm


That substitute would be delicious, really any fish would be tasty! We encourage the wild caught whenever possible. Enjoy! 

I love the food photos! What's the secret on taking such clean photos? Would love to print the egg photo for my kitchen and blog about it!!
July 15, 2017 at 3:44 pm


Thanks, Emily! You can print the photo if you'd like. Alyssa had a nice camera which helped, adequate lighting and got in close enough to see the meals. 

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