Photos by Collin Richie

Nutrition coach Kylee Arnold shares her go-to tips for a healthier life

Lots of us make New Year’s resolutions. Most of us don’t actually maintain these promises beyond the first few weeks of the year. As February comes knocking, it’s not too late for a fresh start. With the top three resolutions for 2022 landing in the self-care category—lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more—nutrition coach Kylee Arnold of Arnold Nutrition Coaching has a simple three-step solution to facilitate these essential lifestyle changes and help sharpen our minds and bodies: Get seven to eight hours of quality sleep. Eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Incorporate movement.

“I know—nothing earth-shattering, shocking or complicated,” Arnold says. “If you do those three things consistently, you’ll feel much differently in a few weeks. Even though they seem like really simple things, it can be hard for most in today’s society where it is more normal to live a stressful, inactive life filled with processed foods.”

The how-to is Arnold’s area of expertise. She helps her clients implement changes in an approachable, sustainable fashion, analyzing their meal preferences and doing weekly check-ins to monitor their progress and keep them accountable. She points out that shutting down work and social media earlier are critical for a good night’s sleep. “My hope is that we can change the norm and create environments where healthy living is easier and normal,” she says. 

When we first met over the phone, I asked, “What would you say if I told you I’m having two Thin Mint cookies with my morning coffee?” 

Her answer: “Two? Go for it! They are one of my favorite treats. Whatever you want, we can incorporate. Let’s add some protein and a vegetable to make it a meal.” Restructuring rather than restricting seems like an attainable strategy.

The approach works wonders for client Kara Gaskin, who happens to be Arnold’s sister. Before hiring Arnold as her nutrition coach, Gaskin was determined to lose weight through exercise alone. “I thought working out would make me feel better, but I was so tired and drained and my muscles were sore. I lost 12 pounds in six months without changing what I was eating or drinking. That wasn’t enough.” When she enlisted her sister’s professional guidance, Gaskin shed an additional 20 pounds in two months, then, at a slower pace, lost 10 more.

“Kylee had me share pictures of my favorite meals. When I sent her my pizza, she said, ‘Have one slice instead of two and add a salad or roasted vegetables.’ This works for me. I trained myself to have a taste and that was satisfying, and to eat something from the earth with every meal. It makes you feel so good!” 

With infectious enthusiasm, Gaskin notes that consistency is key. “Stick with what the expert tells you. Nothing happens overnight. I was miserable and now I feel awesome. I carry myself differently. I wanted to see my muscles and now I can. I have even maintained through the holidays.”

Practicing what she preaches, Arnold’s refrigerator shows off how she is able to feed her family healthful meals in short order. “Bulk meal prep and you can mix and match throughout the week,” she says. “I spend an hour to an hour and a half meal prepping on Sundays, then I have what we need for the first half of the week.” 

To avoid food waste, Arnold relies on frozen vegetables that are a prep timesaver. “Most things stay in my freezer. I cut bananas in spears and freeze them.” Her 1-year-old daughter loves these for teething; Arnold likes them for dessert. “I used to buy so many fresh things, but this way I have it and it’s ready to go. It’s such a timesaver for a busy mom.”

Knowing the challenges that people face when the marketing of processed food is a constant, Arnold shares grocery guides for local stores and quick recipes on her blog. “I want to have a healthy impact on my community,” she says. “When you eat bad, you feel bad. It becomes a vicious cycle. I like to say, ‘Nourish to flourish.’ That’s truly what we try to do here.”

Kylee’s Secret Ingredient Breakfast Casserole

Full disclosure: Until this moment, my refrigerator did not contain any bottled salad dressings. I found this “secret ingredient” dressing (in the grocer’s refrigerator salad section) and might be hooked! It seasons this delicious breakfast/brunch dish perfectly. Kylee recommends serving with a carb like fruit or toast to balance the nutrition. Additional veggies can be added to the mix.

8 oz. frozen leaf spinach
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp. each salt and pepper
8 whole eggs
12 oz. egg whites
½ bottle Cleveland Kitchen Fermented Garlic Italian Dressing and Marinade
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put frozen spinach and sliced mushrooms in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook in oven until mushrooms are tender, about 25 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, crack eggs into a large bowl, and whisk in egg whites and salad dressing. Pour egg mixture over cooked vegetables, and cook casserole until center is set, about 25 minutes. Let cool before cutting into 5 or 6 servings. Enjoy warm or wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 5 days.

White Bean and Chicken Chili

This recipe makes a lot, so it’s perfect for sharing, or it can easily be made in a half batch. Kylee told me, “My neighbors were sick so I made a big batch, put it in Ziploc bags and froze it. I told them, ‘It’s here when you need it.’” I followed her lead and shared the bounty with a handwritten note: Garnish as desired with cilantro, avocado, green onion, jalapeño slices and a squeeze of lime.

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lb. raw chicken breast, cut into bite-size cubes
2 (26-oz.) cans Blue Runner Creole Cream Navy Beans Original*
2 (26-oz.) cans Blue Runner Creole Cream Navy Beans Creole Mirepoix*
1 cup chicken broth
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 (4- to 7-oz.) can diced green chiles
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until just tender, then add garlic and cubed chicken and cook just to slightly brown the chicken. Add beans, broth, cream cheese and chiles, and stir to blend in cream cheese and incorporate the creamy beans. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garnishes as desired.
Makes 12 generous servings. 
*The same quantity of unseasoned navy beans can be substituted; adjust the seasoning to taste.