Q&A

This Physician Assistant Begins Each Morning Feeding Her Chickens

When Jessica DeLuise isn't tending to her five chickens or working at AFC Urgent Care, she's whipping up healthy recipes as The Wellness Kitchenista.


Jessica DeLuise (@thewellnesskitchenista) tends to her five chickens every morning. | Photo courtesy of Jessica DeLuise.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email [email protected] 

Who I am: Jessica DeLuise (@thewellnesskitchenista)

Where I live: Conshohocken

What I do: I’m a physician assistant with over ten years of clinical experience. I’m currently practicing at American Family Care in Conshohocken. I’m certified as a culinary medicine specialist and am passionate about sharing practice and easy tips for using food as medicine. I am an on-air wellness and lifestyle expert, as well as the on-air expert for Calphalon on QVC. You can follow my lifestyle and wellness blog, The Wellness Kitchenista. I’m also the host of  “Eat Your Way to Wellness,” a food and lifestyle program streaming on Amazon.

What role healthy living plays in my life: Every roll! I get multiples chances every day to take control and ownership of my life and my wellness. I have had periods of my life when I didn’t feel my best, having had episodes of fainting, IBS symptoms, reflux, and even esophageal ulcers. Once I began to seek out a preventative lifestyle, I finally understood how refreshed, strong, and empowered I could actually feel. If anyone reads this, and  feels like they have no idea where to start, just start. Don’t wait until ‘Monday,’ or ‘ the beginning of the month,’ or ‘ January 1st’, because you will just keep pushing your health backward. There will always be a reason or excuse for not making the changes you want or need to make. My advice is to choose one small thing. When you feel like you have a good handle on that, then add something else. It isn’t a competitive race and you will never be perfect — no one is! Give yourself grace and be patient.

Health memberships: Gym for $21.99 per month. 

Jessica DeLuise (@thewellnesskitchenista) currently practices at American Family Care in Conshohocken. | Photo courtesy of Jessica DeLuise.

Monday

6:15 a.m. — The alarm rings and I take a deep breath in. It finally feels like fall! Does anyone else know the smell I am referring to? The air has shifted as Mother Nature takes us into the new season. I love it!

6:30a.m. — My first order of business in the morning is letting my five chickens out of their coop. When I walk up to the door, they’re so excited! They are flapping around and ready to get into their pasture to find worms or grubs from overnight. I also brought them some scraps from yesterday’s cooking. Romaine lettuce ends, brussels sprout leaves, cucumber peels, red onion peels, and carrot tops.

7:00 a.m. — Hot water with lemon and ginger root. I love to start my morning with hydration ($.50.) Especially as the week fills up with emails, meetings, and phone calls, it can be hard to keep up with my water intake. I aim for half of my weight in ounces every day. Tip: Herbal tea counts!

7:15 a.m. — Daily prayer and gratitude. One thing you may not know about me at first glance is that in 2015, when my husband and I bought our home, we had a contractor that took a huge chunk of renovation dollars and left the home uninhabitable. We have worked hard to finish the renovations and remedy the damages and legal fees. It was truly one of the worst experiences of our lives. In the middle of the pandemic and being quarantined to our home, I am reminded everyday how grateful I am to have it.

7:30 a.m. — Coffee at home with my Mooala Creamer. One big food trap I see with many non-dairy milks and coffee creamers are the copious amounts of artificial colors, flavorings, and sugars added to the products. This is deceiving because many consumers view non-dairy options as a healthier alternative. It’ so important to read labels! ($.25)

7:45 a.m. — Lifting weights at the gym. I try to alternate cardio with resistance training. Especially for women, resistance training is important to build bone density for later in life. Today, I did bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, overhead press, chest press, shoulder abduction, and lateral rows.

8:30 a.m. — Breakfast collagen, turmeric and peach smoothie bowl (Recipe: one yellow peach + one cup plain Lavva yogurt + one tsp cinnamon + one tbsp fresh turmeric root + one scoop collagen protein + one scoop of a greens powder + one tbsp hemp seeds sprinkled on top) ($4.85)

9:00 a.m. — Bike ride for about four miles total. I rode my bike around town to some local giveaway winners! I wanted to create some fun and happiness on my social media  so I have been hosting a giveaway each week, the Wednesday Want! This has been a fun way to share and collaborate with my favorite local and national brands. I plan to continue the giveaway through the end of 2020. I have been trying to find any excuse to move in the fresh air so a functional, double-duty bike ride was perfect!

11:00 a.m. — Poured a huge glass of water and answered emails that came in over the weekend.

1:00 p.m. — Lunch! The power of meal prep is real.  Yesterday, I made a one pan meal for dinner and for lunch today repurposed leftovers into a salad. I topped romaine lettuce with chicken thighs, roasted potatoes, carrots, red onions, and brussels sprouts. Then I dressed with homemade honey mustard vinaigrette. Recipe for meal and dressing is posted on my TikTok page. ($1)

3:00 p.m. — Appointment at StarkMD Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Center office for some self-care. I won a free procedure at the office because I was an essential healthcare worker. Thank you, Dr. Stark! I was super excited for the HALO, which is a laser used to improve color, texture, and complexion. It isn’t something that I would have even known to seek out on my own, but I am happy to have learned about it! I have sun damage and some pigment changes on my face. This visit opened up a really fantastic conversation with Dr. Stark about prevention of further damage and skin cancer risk in the future. Even as practitioners, we are always learning!

5:30 p.m. —Prep dinner: Meatless Monday dinner is a vegan broccoli alfredo with spaghetti squash and lentil noodles, topped with toasted almonds. Each week, my husband and I focus on getting veggies and legumes into an entire meal. This sets the bar for the rest of the week, fuels our body with fiber, vitamin C, and folate for proper detoxification and immune support.  (The full alfredo recipe is on my TikTok account.)

6:00 p.m. —While the squash cooks, I check in with my husband who’s working from home. We went for a 15 minute walk around the block. I, of course, donned a wide brim beach hat to protect my face after the HALO. It’s been really fun to have some extra time with my husband during the pandemic.

8:00 p.m. —The chickens walk up into their coop at night for sleep, and we close the door behind them for protection from predators overnight. It’s the cutest thing!

8:15 p.m. — Watching some TV and having a small snack. ¼ cup walnuts ($.27) with about two tbsp Lily’s dark chocolate chips ($.10)

10:00 p.m. — Bedtime!

Daily Total: $5.38

Jessica DeLuise (@thewellnesskitchenista) tends to her chickens every morning. | Photo courtesy of Jessica DeLuise.

Tuesday

06:15 a.m. — Alarm! Let the chickens out into the pasture!

7:00 a.m. — Hot water with lemon and ginger root. I peeled extra ginger yesterday and stored it in the fridge to make it easier this morning. ($.50)

7:15 a.m. —  Daily prayer and gratitude affirmations! Today I am thankful for a really great night of sleep last night. I feel energetic and refreshed this morning. Don’t forget to acknowledge and be grateful for the little things! It has been a game changer for my mindset and perspective.

7:30 a.m. — Coffee at home with my Mooala Creamer. Sip, sip, sip! Energy, energy, energy! ($.25.) I use Purity Coffee. The taste is amazing and they have a 5 pound bag of whole bean coffee that keeps me stocked up for a long time.

8:00 a.m. — Virtual total body workout. What has been really neat is that in quarantine, I have had to seek out virtual exercise classes and have found some exceptional and motivational classes! Got a great sweat today! Since it was a cool morning, I did this workout outside on my patio.

9:15 a.m. — Hydrate! Hydration needs to increase with exercise. I add 20 oz water to my baseline intake for every 30 minutes of exercise. I added one lemon and some cucumber slices for flavor, and had a breakfast yogurt parfait. (Recipe for Yogurt Parfait: one six ounce cup Lavva blueberry + one cup fresh pineapple chunks + three tbsp unsweetened coconut + two tbsp hemp seeds + one tbsp chia seeds) ($4.19)

10:00 a.m. — Virtual meeting to discuss potential sponsorship with a local marketing advisor for a season two of my cooking and lifestyle show. The first season of Eat Your Way to Wellness is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

12 p.m. — Lunch: Bell pepper halves with egg salad and sliced apples and almond butter and a few Flackers crackers. Three eggs hard boiled from my backyard chickens. (Recipe: two tbsp avocado mayo + ¼ cup chopped cucumber + one tsp apple cider vinegar + two tsp dijon mustard + two tbsp minced red onion. + one bell pepper. Then mix, fill, and eat! Apple + two tbsp Almond butter + five Flackers.) ($3.92)

1 p.m. —Record a podcast with FitFam Conshy. This was a fun and relaxed local, new podcast! I was so honored that Jennifer invited me to be a guest.  After the podcast, Jen and I had a one-on-one connect about ways to support one another and promote one another. One of the most fun things about putting myself ‘out there’ is getting to meet unique people that I otherwise would have never been able to!

3 p.m. — Dandelion chai tea and 1 tsp local honey from Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. My throat was a little sore after the podcast! Dandelion has potential benefits for gut health and is a natural diuretic for any excess fluid retention. Honey has been shown to be effective for mild sore throat symptoms. I like the Traditional Medicinals brand. ($.27) The honey was free from Harriton House. They keep bees and provide community education. See more about Harriton House in my “Eat Your Way to Wellness” episode 9 on seasonal allergies on Amazon Prime.

5 p.m. —Dinner! Curry Butternut Squash Soup with Middle Eastern inspired meatballs topped with plain yogurt & fennel seeds on top.  The butternut squash was from our garden this year and stays fresh and ready to eat on the counter for one to two months. (This recipe makes 4 servings: one medium butternut squash (free) + one small, yellow onion + three cloves garlic + one tbsp curry powder + one eight ounce packet of The Balanced Bee Chicken Broth + two tbsp yogurt on top + ½ tsp fennel seeds on top) ($2.51 per serving) (Mediterranean Inspired Meatballs recipe makes 16 meatballs: one lb grass fed and finished beef from Beaver Brook Ranch, a local cattle farm ) + 1 tbsp cumin) + 1 tbsp ground fennel  + 1 tbsp garlic powder  + one bsp onion powder + one tbsp Himalyan salt  + two eggs + one cup chickpea flour) (.63 per meatball)

Daily Total: $29.25

DeLuise tries to make sure it’s easy to eat healthy throughout the week with items like a peach smoothie bowl. | Photograph courtesy Jessica DeLuise

Wednesday

06:15 a.m. — Alarm! Chickens! Do you sense a pattern by now?

7:30 a.m. — Exercise: Yoga and stretching. I have a monthly membership to Edge Fitness Clubs but have been unable to attend classes in person so I have followed along online.

8:30 a.m. — Breakfast: Egg quiche muffins with six eggs (Free! Thank you, to my pretty little ladies out back) (Recipe: 1 bell pepper, chopped + 1 cup broccoli slaw + 1 small onion, chopped + 4 oz shredded aged cheddar.)  I ate 3 this morning, 3 for tomorrow. My hubby ate the others. (1.80 for 12 muffins)

11:00 a.m. — Two mile bike ride to check on the American Family Care new building in Conshohocken. I am so excited to start working there in October when it opens. I have already been spreading the work to my local community.  It’s been fun to watch the building progress.

12 p.m. — Lunch is a quinoa and black bean Tex Mex bowl. (Recipe: 2 cups romaine + ½ cup cucumbers + cooked quinoa, ½ corn (from the cob)  + ¼ cup black beans + ¼ cup organic salsa  + oil and vinegar) ($2.85)

1 p.m. — QVC Call. I am the on-air expert for Calphalon Cookware on QVC. I have used the cookware for years so when the opportunity arose to share it on-air, it was truly an honor! Having quality tools in the kitchen can make cooking meals more time efficient and enjoyable.

2 p.m. — DIY Filming. One of my favorite things to do is share information on social media about how food, what certain label jargon means, and research about certain ingredients and nutrients and how they may affect wellness. Food is such an influential part of our daily life so understanding how those choices affect us can have a huge impact on our ability to take a proactive approach toward wellness. Today, I filmed three videos as part of a series on food deceiving food labels for TikTok.

6 p.m. —Dinner tonight is to take out sushi. My husband and I have been trying to support local restaurants one to two times per week. Tonight we got sushi from our favorite local spot. If I had to choose a meal to eat everyday for the rest of my life, I think this would be the one! A few quick sushi tips we employ to make it as healthful as possible are: We avoid tempura (deep fried); I use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce as it has a fraction of the sodium, which means less possible fluid retention; I always eat a side salad with carrot ginger dressing to add veggies to balance my plate and add more water and fiber content. ($47)

8 p.m. —Nighttime snack. I was craving something sweet so I made sweet and salty banana bites. (Recipe: one banana + two tbsp almond butter  +two tbsp Lily’s chocolate chips on top.) ($.69)

Daily Total: $52.34

Jessica DeLuise enjoys some delicious salmon sushi. | Photograph courtesy Jessica DeLuise

Thursday

06:15a.m. — Alarm! Chickens!

7:00 a.m. — Exercise: I do cardio for 30 minutes on the stair stepper machine at Edge Fitness and then core and crunch exercises. I do three sets of each of the following: 30 second planks, 20 bicycle crunches, flutter kicks, 15 side crunches on each side, 25 sit-ups, and 15 reverse crunches.

8:30 a.m. —Breakfast: Egg muffin leftovers from yesterday! I believed in preparation but not full day meal prep. Cook once, eat twice works really well for me. I think that sometimes we get so stressed about planning an entire day for meal prepping, when planning a few meals at a time is so much more manageable and achievable! Three egg muffins cost $.45 total! Can’t beat that price!

11:30 a.m. — I attend a Virtual Small Business Networking Meeting. It’s so important to continue to connect with the community, socialize and collaborate. I also find meetings like this very enriching as I grow and learn about entrepreneurship. This month, an attorney spoke about different aspects of creating a business entity, intellectual property, and a few other educational points.

12 noon: Lunchtime! I ate lunch during the networking meeting, so unfortunately not too exciting! But, that’s okay! Not every meal can be fancy or gourmet, especially with a full schedule and trying my best to make positive choices. Today was a few pickles from local Fishtown Pickle Project, ¼ cup almonds, two large carrots, sliced and from the garden, a quarter cup of red pepper hummus, one hard boiled egg, and about fifteen Kalamata olives. This is a similar plate to something I may have eaten in Italy for lunch — a little bit of everything! ($3.63)

1:30 p.m. —Walk with my husband around the block. After the networking meeting, I was feeling a little stiff so needed to get my blood pumping for 15 minutes. It’s so important to listen to your body’s cues!

2:00 p.m. —Social media meeting. I have a virtual admin who’s been super helpful with organization of social media posts, the weekly social media giveaways, and posting recipes and scheduling virtual wellness-inspired cooking classes, which have been my lighthearted and fun to approach home cooking.

5 p.m. —Dinner is BBQ chicken breasts with cole slaw and corn on the cob.  ($3.05)

7:30 p.m. — I join a TikTok Creative Learning Fund Zoom meeting. I was invited to join the TikTook CLF, an initiative to support creators who share educational content on the TikTok app. This meeting reviewed how to best use social media hashtags to direct viewers toward our educational content. As social media continues to grow in popularity, it has been a tremendous way to educate and enrich my community with fact, not fad, based information!

10:00 p.m. —Bedtime! It’s been a long week so far. I’m so thankful tomorrow is Friday.

Daily Total: $8.03

DeLuise whips ups an egg dish, thanks to her backyard chickens. | Photograph courtesy Jessica DeLuise

Friday

06:15 a.m. —Alarm! Chickens!

7:30 a.m. — Exercise today is resistance training at the gym. I do lower body so it’s leg presses, hip abduction, hip abduction, calf raises, hip extension, quad extension, and curtsy lunges.

8 a.m — Pumpkin waffles! Oh my goodness they were so good! A tip for pancakes or waffles is to double the batch, then freeze separated by parchment paper. Then you can pop them into the toaster oven for a quick on-the-go breakfast. I mixed all of the ingredients in my food processor until smooth. The recipe yields eight pancakes. (Recipe: one cup chickpea flour + one egg (free) + ¼ cup dates + one cup organic pumpkin puree + one mashed banana + two tsp baking soda + ½ tsp sea salt + one tbsp pumpkin pie spice  + ½ cup water + one tbsp of avocado or coconut oil for pan) + chopped walnuts for topping.) ($2.57)

10:00 a.m. —Training day at American Family Care with my attending physician. As I anticipate starting at the new Conshohocken location, I am training to learn the workflow and computer system. It was fun to meet the staff and new colleagues. I already feel like part of the team!

1 p.m. — Lunch is leftover BBQ chicken, coleslaw, and corn-on-the-cob over greens ($3.55)

7 p.m. — Dinner tonight is shredded beef taco nachos. I am a firm believer in not limiting my dietary choices, but rather, trying to elevate ingredients to a higher quality so I can enjoy my favorite foods, and so will my body! Who doesn’t love loaded tacos on a Friday night? This recipe was made easily and quickly in my pressure cooker. (Recipe: two pounds grass-fed beef chuck from Beaver Brook Ranch  + 2 bell peppers, sliced + one onion sliced + 2 tbsp homemade taco seasoning. Then I loaded about 10 organic corn tortillas with the four ounces of shredded beef, ¼ avocado, ¼ cup organic salsa, two tbsp plain yogurt instead of sour cream, shredded lettuce, and grass-fed cheese.) The beef was eight to ten servings so after I shredded it, I froze half of it. ($3.60 per serving)

8:30 p.m. —Wine time. It’s been a long week. This week I received an order of wine from one of my favorite companies, Scout and Cellar. My friend, Amanda is a wine consultant for them and has been teaching me so much about wine. This company has no added sugar, sulfites, or dye, which is phenomenal. One thing that I didn’t know about wine is that even the organic options at the store may have these ingredients added. Organic just means that the grapes were organic.

Daily Total: $42.12

 

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WEEKLY TOTALS:

Money spent: $137.12
Chickens fed: 5
Recipes created: Countless!

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