Ask the Health Coach: What Should I Eat During Restaurant Week?

Maura recommends going for the red snapper veracruzana at El Vez.

Dear Maura,

Where should I eat during Restaurant Week that won’t completely derail my diet? Open to lunch and dinner options. Thanks!



Hi Kim,

I’m sure you’re not the only reader who’s dining out this week, so thanks for asking. Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to try new destinations and dishes without breaking the bank. With over 100 restaurants participating, the choices are vast, from lunch to dinner, appetizers to dessert.

Choices are great but can oftentimes overwhelm us, especially if our intention is to “stay on track,” diet-wise. But there are a few things going for you. First, all of the participating restaurants have listed their menus here, so you can do a little research to plan ahead. Second, lunch options tend to offer smaller portion sizes, a great way to indulge in a dish you might normally avoid. And let’s be honest: Most of the dishes during RW tend to be a little smaller, anyway, so portion control shouldn’t be a huge issue.

That being said, there are a few things I would look for if I was watching my waistline:

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Ask the Health Coach: What Should I Eat Before and After Workouts?

Dear Maura,

My new exercise routine has me starving 24/7. What should I snack on to fill me up without undoing all my hard work at the gym?

~ Erica


Hi Erica,

Thanks for the honest question—I’m sure you’re not alone in this! First things first: no starving. Not good. I’m going to try to answer this question as simply as possible without getting too technical.

Of course your feelings of being starved are a sign of hunger, but on a deeper level, don’t forget to remember that your body is perfect; if it’s telling you it’s hungry, it’s for a good reason. It needs fuel. And not just for more workouts, but also for functions that we have no control over like respiration, digestion, metabolism and muscle recovery. If you are starving and not feeding yourself correctly, your body gets the message that food isn’t coming and starts to go into survival mode—meaning you may not see your weight come down (if that’s a goal you’re trying to achieve) because it is holding on to any and every last calorie it has. Make sense?

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Ask the Health Coach: Are Juice Cleanses Safe?

Dear Maura,

What’s your take on juice cleanses? Is it ok to drink just juice for a period of time? If so, how long would you recommend is safe? And how often should a person do a juice detox?

Thanks for your help,


Hi Chrissie,

Thanks for writing in with this question. While I love juicing and green smoothies—heck, I did one earlier this year and blogged about it here on Be Well—I reached out to a local expert for this one. Joel Odhner, co-owner of Jar Bar (113 South 12th Street) and creator of Catalyst Cleanse juices, is a health-food guru and has worked with such celebrities as Dr. Oz. Here’s what he has to say about juice cleanses.
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Ask the Health Coach: How Should I Stretch in the Morning?

Dear Maura,

What’s the best stretch to do when you first wake up to get loose and ready to move through the day? Can you recommend a quick yoga/stretching routine to do in the AM?

Thanks for your help!

~ Sara S.


Hi Sara,

Thanks for writing in with your question. Many of us feel lethargic and stiff in the morning, so incorporating some stretching is a great idea. Not only will it wake you up naturally (who needs coffee?), it will also get those digestive juices flowing and kick start your metabolism. This quick routine will only take five minutes, and you can start it right in bed. Who could ask for anything more, right? Here are 10 stretches to get you going in the am.

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Ask the Health Coach: What Do You Eat?

Dear Maura,

Here’s a question for you: What do YOU eat? And you’ve referenced a few times that you “eat clean,” but what exactly does that mean? Can’t wait to read your answer!

~ Charlotte M.

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Ask the Health Coach: What Are Some Healthy Basil Recipes?

Dear Maura,

Is pesto healthy? Please say yes! I’m growing basil in my yard and have so much!

~ Erica P.


Hi Erica,

Perfect timing with this question. I finished my plot in Conshohocken’s community garden a little over two weeks ago, and I think it’s safe to say that everyone there is growing basil in their space. I have it on my porch, too. It’s definitely one of the easiest herbs to grow, maintain and enjoy!

To answer your question, I would say that pesto is definitely healthy. For starters, basil is green and green is always good when it comes to foods. Basil’s also an anti-inflammatory, fights free radicals (cancer cells) and supports cardiovascular health. The popular herb is also a good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C.

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Ask the Health Coach: What’s the Best Way to Meditate?

Dear Maura, I keep hearing tons of good things about meditation. Since you’re a yoga teacher, I was hoping you could speak about this. I’ve tried it a couple of times but I just can’t sit still! Do you have any tips on how to develop a regular practice? ~ Stephanie S.


Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for writing in, and being willing to give meditation another try. You’re right—sitting still is not easy. I’ve got a ton of energy and a ton of things to do, so I find it really challenging. That said, meditation has increasingly become an important part of my regular practice. (I also incorporate meditation into every yoga class I teach: yoga postures were traditionally practiced to prepare the body to be able to sit for longer periods of time, more comfortably in meditation, so it’s the perfect time/place to practice.) So, I’ll answer this question in two pieces. The first piece will provide information on benefits of meditations, for those readers new to the concept; and the second piece will lay out a simple 10-minute meditation for readers to try at home.

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