Pack Zespri, It Packs a Punch

Team Zespri

Team Zespri

I recently participated the #PackZespri kiwifruit event in NYC that showcased kiwifruit as part of our vibrant food culture. This year I am the official spokesperson for Zespri Kiwifruit North America. For those of you who are new to Zespri Kiwifruit, they are the company which exports the world’s premium kiwifruit grown by more the 2,400 kiwifruit growers, who collectively produce more than 86 million trays of fruit each year!

The night was full of kiwifruit inspired food and cocktails and showcased the new kiwifruit variety, the SunGold.

Throughout the evening I inspired guests with my favorite ways to pack a punch of nutrition with kiwifruit as part of a healthy diet. Kiwifruits are loaded with nutritional benefits and the versatility of this fruit is endless.

Enjoying a Kiwi Mojito with Team Zespri

Tip: Pack a food bag for a busy work week.

Pack a Punch With Kiwifruit

  • Kiwifruits have more vitamin C than an orange, which helps with immunity and maintaining collagen for healthy looking skin.
  • They have just as much potassium as a banana, helping muscle contraction and maintaining healthy blood pressure.
  • Zespri kiwifruit helps promote digestion. Kiwifruit contains a digestive enzyme, known as actinidin that aids in the digestion and absorption of protein.
Enjoying a SunGold Kiwifruit on my Amtrak ride to the event. Just cut, scoop and enjoy!

Just cut, scoop and enjoy–even on an Amtrak!

Add Kiwifruit Anytime For a Boost of Flavor and Nutrition

  • Add kiwifruit as your “pop” of color and fruit serving to your lunch.
  • Just cut, scoop and enjoy. It’s a great choice on its own for a snack.
  • Cool off with a homemade kiwifruit popsicles. Puree kiwifruit with lemonade, and freeze in small cups for a popsicle treat. Or, freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker for a simple sorbet.
  • Kiwifruit Mojito

    Kiwifruit puree for cocktails and mocktails

    Put kiwifruit in a healthy wrap or pita with your favorite protein and other fresh vegetable fillings or include kiwifruit in your favorite salad, like this Roasted Corn and Zesty Kiwifruit Salad.

What are your favorite ways to pack a punch with kiwifruit? I’d love to hear your ideas! Please share your ideas and comments below. For more delicious recipes and information about the health benefits of kiwifruit visit Zespri Kiwifruit. You can also follow Team Zespri on Twitter @ZESPRIKiwifruit  and don’t forget to visit their Facebook page .

 

Healthy Entertaining Ideas for the Fourth of July!

Nothing says 4th of July like watching fireworks and getting together with family and friends for a delicious barbecue!  I recently appeared on Let’s Talk Live with fun and healthy food ideas to make your Fourth of July celebration taste great. Read on to learn how to flavor up your celebration the healthy way with quality foods and ingredients, or watch the full clip below.

Surprise Your Guests with an Unexpected Burger

Did you know that over 90% of American households have a jar of peanut butter? Peanuts and peanut butter do more than just add fabulous flavor to our favorite snacks and meals — they also add nutrition to any dish.  Peanuts contain over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients. Combined with the fact that they have more protein than any other nut, peanuts are truly a superfood!turkeyburger

They’re also extremely versatile. Peanuts and peanut butter are a great addition to marinades, sauces or a nice crunchy topping for any side dish or salad you’re serving this summer! We all love using it for our PB&J sandwiches, or as a nice spread for some fruits and veggies, but have you ever thought of using it for your BBQ dish? You can actually add peanuts INSIDE your burger.  Try a “Better Burger” like this peanut teriyaki turkey burger that’s made with turkey, peanuts, mushrooms and teriyaki sauce. Find this recipe and many more at NationalPeanutBoard.Org.

Add A Twist to the Traditional BBQ Sauce

Another way to surprise your guests with taste AND nutrition is to add cranberries to your summer dishes. We tend to think of cranberries as a holiday food, but they’re good for us all year round! Did you know that cranberry products contain antioxidants called Flavanoids? A specific type of these that are unique to cranberries actually prevents bacteria from sticking to cell walls – for example, they prevent E. coli from sticking to the walls of the bladder to help prevent urinary tract infections. The international journal, Advances in Nutrition, did a review of the research and they found that the bioactive compounds in cranberries not only help reduce the incidence of certain infections and maintain a healthy urinary tract,but they also improve heart health by improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and improving inflammation.  Add cranberries to your fourth of July celebration by trying this Cranberry Chipotle BBQ sauce recipe. It’s a simple homemade recipe with a blend of tart and smoky flavors that would be a great compliment to chicken or pork. Perfect for any BBQ spread!  For more info about cranberries visit http://www.cranberryinstitute.org/.

Elevate your snacks 

Everyone’s going to look for something crunchy to munch on at a party.  Snacks are perfect to have while waiting for the main dish to be ready! What could be easier than putting out a bowl of chips? Try these veggie chips by The Real Deal Natural Snacks. They have 80% less fat than potato chips, are made with real green peas, corn and rice and there’s a serving and a half of vegetables in each ounce! They come in 2 great-tasting varieties: original and sriracha – a spicy flavor kick! They’re all natural, gluten free, vegan, and kosher. You can find these snacks at your local Whole Foods and Wegmans.

THoney Smoked BBQ (72 bars)ry Interesting Pairings 

Another easy summer entertaining idea is pairing up your favorite snacks. I love KIND bars because they are made from ingredients you can see and pronounce. Various cheeses taste great when paired with KIND.  The new STRONG & KIND bars offer savory flavors and 10 grams of protein per bar from almonds, seeds, and pea protein. These don’t contain soy or whey protein.

There are five bold flavors to choose from, like Honey Mustard, which I’ve paired with creamy goat cheese, Thai Sweet Chili paired with Monterey Jack (for those who like their “spice”) and Hickory Smoked paired with Manchego (which together offer a nutty, smoky flavor). You can also try the Roasted Jalapeno and Honey Smoked BBQ flavors with your favorite cheese.

People will love that you gave them something new and fun to try while hanging out and it couldn’t be easier to pull together — just cut the bars and cheese into bite size pieces, and you’re ready to party! Visit www.kindsnacks.com for more information.

Serve Crowd Pleasing Sides

It’s not easy to find side dishes that can please a crowd, especially for the kids at the celebration. I found an option that kids will love and parents can feel good about. It’s new Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese!

This is a great choice for families looking to upgrade their mac-n-cheese, because Pirate’s Booty mac-n-cheese offers quality ingredients like:

  • Organic wheat pasta
  • Real cheese
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

They’re a good source of calcium, offering 10% of the daily value AND 9-10g of protein per serving. You can get Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese in four varieties – my favorites are the shells with aged white cheddar, and the traditional elbows with mild cheddar! Look for them at your local grocery store, or visit www.piratebrands.com for more information.

Hydrate with Citrus Beverages

Sunkist Grapefruit Honey Ginger Fizz Recipe ImageAdding citrus to summer beverages is a healthy and refreshing way to beat the heat! Sunkist offers more than 40 varieties of premium quality, fresh citrus year-round including oranges, lemons, grapefruit, specialties and organics. Rather than provide pre-made lemonade at your party, which often includes added sugars and artificial ingredients, give fresh-squeezed lemonade a try. Or try Sunkist’s delicious, lemony twist on iced tea.

For the adults, serve up their Grapefruit Honey Ginger Fizz.  The honey and ginger compliment the tangy, fresh grapefruit in this refreshing cocktail. I like to add a big wedge of Sunkist grapefruit for a garnish that doubles as a superfood snack packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Visit Sunkist.com for these recipes and more!

Thanks for checking out my favorite healthy ideas for the fourth of July! I’d love to hear some of your favorite ideas that make your fourth of July celebration full of flavor and nutrition!

Disclaimer: I was compensated by  KIND Snacks, Pirate’s Booty, Real Deal Natural Snacks, and Sunkist to do the tv segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

 

 

 

5 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruit and Veggies

We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables! Did you know over 2/3rds of Americans don’t meet the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake?!  We typically throw away spoil fruits and vegetable two times a week on average, which translates into about $42 a week!
I am not saying you need to sacrificing taste or flavor or have to eat salads at every meal, I’m here to say “you can’t mess it up”!  Just add in fruits and vegetables to any dish you’re making. No matter what the recipes says, you can always add fruits and vegetables to any dish to help bump up the nutrition. Include a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies in your meals. They tend to cost less and since they’re at their peak they tend to be more flavorful and nutrient-rich. Below are some simple ways to help bulk up your diet with more fruits and veggies.

1. Blend meat with mushrooms. The trend is to blend!  Blend finely chopped mushrooms into any of your favorite ground meat dishes, like meatballs or meatloaf (I like to do about 50% meat 50% mushrooms).  You’ll increase the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your meal while decreasing fat and calories.  The finely chopped mushrooms blend so well with the ground meat that you’ll barely notice the difference. In fact, I think the mushrooms add moisture and flavor – mushrooms have umami flavor just like meat. Plus, substituting mushrooms for meat is a smart choice for your wallet, too!

Learn more about “blendability” from my friends at The Mushroom Council and try some fabulous recipes like these delicious looking Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes. Grainfree-Enchiladas

Chicken And Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes
Chicken And Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes

2. Bust out the slow cooker

General Tsos

This image was reprinted with permission from http://mealmakeovermoms.com/ and http://healthyaperture.com

You really can’t beat a meal that cooks itself. The basic ingredients are protein (whatever kinds your family loves) and vegetables. Use water and herbs to add tons of flavor without a lot of sodium. Find an easy, delicious recipe you can follow like my General Tso’s Slow Cooker Chicken. The cost of making it at home is a fraction of what it costs to order take-out. My version costs about $13.00 and feeds 4 people whereas you’d pay that much for 1 entrée at a restaurant/for take out. Not only that, but you get to control the quality of ingredients that are used to prepare it. It’s a win-win!

Photo From: ohsheglows.com

Photo From: ohsheglows.com

3. Add veggies to a DIY smoothie

If you’re not crazy about eating your greens, incorporating them into your smoothies is a great way to disguise them!  It might sound weird, but you can use green vegetables like spinach, celery, and even kale and it can taste good! When you pair it with fruit like green apple or green grapes, it provide sweetness and I promise it does not taste like you are drinking veggies. This Peppermint Green Patty Green Monster Smoothie is kid-friendly and packed to the brim with deliciously minty and chocolatey flavor, with the added bonus of masking the spinach, you’re family will never know what hit them!

4. Go meatless burger

Black Bean Veggie BurgersDon’t think you can have a meatless BBQ?   Think again! Grilling isn’t just about meat, try adding something new to your barbecue spread. Veggie burgers can be made with chickpeas, black beans, white beans, potatoes, lentils, and pretty much any other vegetable that can be mashed and formed into a patty. Try this delicious Vegetarian Black Bean Burger recipe that’s perfect for your next gathering.  This veggie burger is a crowd-pleaser that even your carnivore friends will love.

5. Pack in the Fruit 

Fruit is an essential part of a healthy diet, delivering many essential vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates for energy and fiber for a healthy digestive tract. It makes for a smart snack, easy to drop in lunch bags or grab when on-the-go.

Take a break for some “afternoon energy” with portable good-for-you snacks, like blueberries! What’s easier than picking them up from the store and eating them right out of the container? Or you can make a portable snack ahead of time and bring it with you to work, like this Gluten-Free Spicy Blueberry trail mix.blueberry trail mix

Stay cool with this healthy and  fun kiwifruit pops dessert to make with your kids. They are so simple and really something the whole family will love. It’s just diced kiwifruit and 100% pineapple juice. This cold snack is so much healthier for you than your typical summer frozen treat.

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks to eating more fruit and veggies! Feel free to share your comments and favorite recipes below!

Spring into Health

Now that spring is in the air it’s time to turn over a new leaf and shake off those winter blues! Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with CNN’s Karin Caifa to share my ideas on how to make some healthier switches as spring approaches – switches that won’t be too drastic, dramatic or too easy to abandon! Watch the clip below or read on to learn about my tips.

The key to succeeding when making a change is to start small and start simple. The most important thing is being consistent. The more you are consistent these new behaviors they will eventually become habits (good ones). Here are a few tips to help freshen up your eating this spring.

  • Add any fresh produce to your menu. You can’t mess it up. Spring is a great time of year for fresh apricots, cherries, kiwi, grapefruit, swiss chard, green beans and all types of lettuces.
  • Add herbs and spices to help make healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains more flavorful without adding salt, sugar, or fat.
  • As the weather gets warmer, eat more cold foods like salads with fresh fruits, lean meats or tofu, and beans. Make your own dressing with herbs and spices, olive oil, and vinegar.
  • It’s not too early to fire up your grill for a flavor boost without added salt and fat. Grill vegetables and lean meats like fish, chicken, or beef seasoned with herbs and spices. Check out these delicious grilling recipes: Asian Turkey Burgers or Grilled Tofu with Ratatouille Vegetables 

Don’t forget about Spring Cleaning!

  • The first thing you should do to eat healthier is “spring clean your kitchen” to make cooking easier.
  • Make room in your refrigerator for new fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods you can make ahead of time.
  • Refresh your pantry by stocking up on herbs and spices that will allow you to flavor your foods without adding extra salt, sugar, and fat.
  • Add some nutritious canned foods like beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, and canned tuna and salmon to help you get healthy meals on the table quickly.
  • Simplify cooking. You don’t need to prepare a 3 course meal every night! Try this easy and healthy Lemon-Parmesan Broccoli as a delicious side dish.

What should we spring clean out of our diets?

  •  Reduce your intake of “empty calorie” foods and beverages, such as desserts, sugary drinks, and alcoholic beverages.
  •  Swap fresh fruits like citrus and berries, which are in season for desserts. I love freezing sliced bananas or a handful of grapes for a sorbet or ice cream substitute.
  • Drink water or sparkling water infused with mint, fresh cucumber, or lemon instead of caloric beverages.
  • Cut back on sodium by preparing your meal at home and checking food labels for hidden sources of salt.
  • Sauces, seasonings, and marinades can be high in sodium. Try making your own with herbs, spices, citrus, vinegar, and healthy oils.
  • Avoid higher calorie fried foods and rich foods, which tend to be difficult to digest and make you feel sluggish. Instead, grill your vegetables and lean proteins, which will add flavor.

What are some of your favorite spring time foods and activities?

Leave a comment below and share your spring time tips with us! Happy Spring!

 

 

Produce of the Day: Citrus

All this month I’m making it fun to eat better with my 30-Day Challenge “Half Plate Produce” in the spirit of National Nutrition Month’s theme “Enjoy the taste of eating right!”

Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

Feature Produce of the Day: Citrus

Nothing brightens up a dreary March day like a pop of vibrant citrus – its bright color and fresh flavor help remedy most cases of late-winter funk.  One bite of a juicy tangerine immediately gets me dreaming of sunshine and citrus groves, which is just what I need when there is still snow on the ground!

Image Source: White on Rice

Image Source: whiteonricecouple.com

One of the things that I love about citrus is that there are so many varieties – each one has its own unique flavor and appearance.  What they do have in common is their nutritional profile; citrus is a healthy choice no matter which variety you pick.

Here are some health benefits associated with all citrus fruits:

Vitamin C

Image Source: http://www.thejournal.ie

Image Source: thejournal.ie

We all know that oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C, but what does that really mean?  Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, so it helps protect our cells from damaging free radicals.  Free radicals can alter our cells’ structure and even their DNA, which could lead to inflammation or cancer.  Protecting our cells with antioxidants like Vitamin C is key in keeping them healthy.

Vitamin C also contributes to a healthy immune system and strong bones and muscles.  Additionally, Vitamin C can improve iron absorption, so it’s vital for anyone with an iron deficiency.  One serving of citrus provides at least 100% of the daily recommendation for Vitamin C.

Heart Health

A diet rich in citrus fruits has been shown to offer protection against cardiovascular disease.  Citrus contains:

  • Folate, a B Vitamin found lower risk of heart disease.
  • Potassium, which lowers blood pressure and helps prevent stroke.
  • Flavonoids and carotenes, phytonutrients shown to improve cardiovascular health
  • Fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol

Citrus has also been linked to the prevention of arthritis, improved blood glucose control, reduced risk of kidney stones, and many other positive health benefits.

Source: www.eatingwell.com

Source: eatingwell.com

With so many citrus fruits available, you’ll never get bored!  Here’s low down on a few options and a few tips to use them to make half your plate produce:

Oranges

Oranges are one of the most popular fruits in the world.  They’re great fresh out of hand, added to salads, or as part of a fresh salsa. You can also:

  • Snack on them after a workout  to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes (anyone remember orange slices after soccer practice?)
  • Try orange segments instead of juice with breakfast; when you juice you lose all the heart-healthy fiber and some nutrients.
  • Serve these Snow Peas with Orange and Jicama as a side dish with your favorite protein.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit’s Latin name is Citrus paradisi, a fitting name given that its taste, aroma, and gem-like fruit conjure pictures of paradise.  Red and pink grapefruits are rich in lycopene, a phytonutrient that is shown to protect against the formation of tumors.

Grapefruit “brulee” makes a fabulous dessert or breakfast.  To make, just slice in half and sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Let the sugar caramelize under the broiler for a seemingly decadent treat.

Tangerine

I love how portable tangerines are; they come in their own natural wrapper!  I like to keep some handy in my purse in case my one-year old or I get hungry while we’re on-the-go.  They have a looser peel than most other citrus, so they’re ideal in a pinch.

Tangerines are also great in recipes. I like this Warm Chicken Salad with Tangerine, Tarragon, and Arugula for lunch or a light supper.

Image Source: www.sunkist.com

Image Source: Sunkist.com

Lemons

These bright yellow fruits add loads of tangy flavor with very few calories.  I recommend that my clients try seasoning with lemons instead of salt to reduce their sodium intakes.

Add their zest to steamed veggies, use their juice in salad dressing, or even just throw them in your water to give it some zing.  Meyer lemons are an interesting variety of lemon with beautiful floral undertones that are wonderful in desserts.

Limes

You know the term, “limey”?  It actually comes from British sailors in the 1800s who added lime juice to their rum while they were at sea to prevent scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency).

I like to add lime juice to marinades, guacamole, and dressings. It also adds zippy flavor to roasted veggies – just roast them in the oven and add fresh lime juice and zest.  Makes a great side dish or salad addition.

Kumquats

These little guys are known as the, “little gold gems” of the citrus family.  What make them so interesting is that, unlike most citrus, their rinds are sweet while the flesh is very tart.  Slice them up (skin and all) and toss them in a salad or try them in this Citrus Habenero Salsa with fish or chicken.

Image Source: http://blog.needsupply.com

Image Source: blog.needsupply.com

Learn More about Citrus

If you want more citrus info, Sunkist is a great resource. Check out their website and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Your Turn to Share

I’ve shared my tips and now I want to hear yours!  What are some of your fave ways to add citrus into your diet? Did I miss any of your favorite varieties? Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this blog post.)

Add Flavor to Your Holiday Foods

The holiday season is a time for giving, sharing, being with loved ones, and —celebrating!  If you’re like me, your schedule is probably filled with holiday parties and get-togethers right now.  My first response to a party invite is always, “What can I bring?”  We all want to bring a dish that’s the hit of the party, and I’ve got good news for you – you don’t need a culinary degree to make a flavorful, nutritious dish.  All you need is a little know-how, and you can blend appealing textures and flavors to create delicious foods that will please every crowd.

This past week I appeared on WBAL NBC TV 11 to share some of my favorite holiday entertaining tips.   I demonstrated how to use sweet, savory, tart, crunchy and smooth foods to make dishes that stand out and taste wonderful.

Check out the full video below or keep reading to see the recipes I featured on the show.

 Sweet and Tart

Everyone loves sweet, but instead of “sugar overload” from cookies and cakes, try using fruit to add sweet and tart flavors to your dishes in a more nutritious way.

Blueberry-Butternut-Squash-Cous-Cous-saladBlueberries are one of my favorite fruits, because they’re both sweet and tart – a flavor combination that everyone loves, even kids.  Fresh blueberries are now available year-round, which makes them as accessible as your typical apples, bananas, and grapes. And the best thing about the berries is that they’re incredibly nutritious: one cup of blueberries has only 80 calories, and they’re a good source of fiber and vitamin C.

For the WBAL segment I made this yummy Blueberry Couscous Salad IMAGE that’s full of good stuff like butternut squash, arugula, feta cheese, and, of course, blueberries.  It’s a quick salad with lots of flavor that you can make ahead of time, which makes it a great dish for holiday gatherings.  Find this recipe and others at blueberrycouncil dot Org.

Quick and Crunchy

If you’re looking for a super-short cut for a party, you can’t go wrong with crunchy snacks that everyone can munch on.  I love the delicious baked New York Style snack varieties like New York Style Bagel Crisps and Pita Chips – they have half the fat and fewer calories than regular fried potato chips, so they’re great healthier alternatives.  They’re perfect on their own or paired with toppings, dips and cheeses for a delectable holiday appetizer that’s ready in a minute flat.  You can buy ready-to-eat dips like hummus, salsa and bean dip at the grocery store to keep the snack quick and simple.

Some people are nervous about serving or eating beans at holiday parties – you know, because they’re the “musical fruit”.  But that’s why you have Beano!  Beano® contains a natural enzyme that works with your body’s digestion to break down complex carbohydrates found in gassy foods, like beans, helping to prevent gas before it starts.  With Beano, you can comfortably enjoy nutritious foods that are an essential part of a healthy diet without worrying about any unpleasant “digestive side effects”.  Take Beano before your first bite. Try the Beano® Tablets, Beano® Meltaways and Beano® To Go.Sweet Swirls Cinnabon

New York Style also just launched Sweet Swirls – these sweet treats pack the great flavors of Cinnabon® cinnamon rolls or chocolate into small, crunchy bites.  They really satisfy that sweet craving at only 130 calories per serving.   Try serving them with a dip of whipped cream cheese, cinnamon, and fresh blueberries for a crave-able sweet and crunchy snack.

Savory

A lot of our favorite holiday foods are sweets, but you don’t want to neglect savory dishes at your next party.  I love peanuts and peanut butter, and both can be a great addition to any holiday dish.   Peanuts also make an easy and satisfying snack to keep you going amidst all the holiday excitement.

At 7 grams of protein per serving, peanuts have more protein than ANY other nut.   We consider them “superfoods” because they contain more than 30 essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.  And they’re super-affordable, too, which makes them a double winner in my book.

This Zesty Chili Peanut Popcorn  makes a perfect holiday snack or even a gift. It comes together in less than 30 minutes and serves a crowd, making it a great party nibble.

Chili Popcorn-large

Or if you want to offer some more substance, you can’t go wrong with these Festive Beef Bites with Peanut Sauce.   They’re just skewered steak (or chicken), cooked to your liking and topped with a creamy peanut butter sauce made with apple cider and soy sauce.  They’re festive, have tons of flavor, and are sure to be a party hit.  You can get both these recipes and more at National Peanut Board dot Org.

What are your favorite holiday entertaining tips and recipes?  Leave a comment below to share – I love hearing everyone’s ideas.

Disclaimer: I was compensated by US Highbush Blueberry Council, New York Style chips, Beano, and National Peanut Board to do the tv segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

Fall Comfort Foods You Can Feel Good About

Fall is in the air – it’s a time when many of us start craving our favorite comfort foods like casseroles, soups, and stews.   I love comfort foods like soups, chilis, and casseroles – they’re easy to prepare and can be full of nutrients if you choose the right ingredients.  Recently I appeared on Let’s Talk Live DC to discuss my favorite tips for a healthy fall.

Check out the video below or read on for some highlights:

Eggs Are Back for Breakfastvegetable__egg_and_cheddar_strata_475x387_72_RGB

I love egg dishes for a warm comforting breakfast that’s full of nutrients.  Eggs had a bad rap for a while, but research now shows that egg consumption does not contribute to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  I created this savory egg strata recipe for Cabot using their seriously sharp cheddar; it’s perfect for weekend entertaining because I can prepare it ahead of time, so that all I have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven.  Any leftovers make a wonderful lunch or light dinner.

12915 VF MV, Cal, Vit D FP Ad Boomer(2)Cover your Bases with a Multivitamin

During cold and flu season I take extra steps to keep my family healthy – not only do we get flu shots, but I also make sure that we take multivitamins to reduce our risks of getting sick.  Gummy vitamins are one my favorites because they’re delicious and convenient. I prefer Vitafusion MultiVites because they’re made in the USA, contain only natural colors and flavors, and just two gummies are a complete vitamin and mineral supplement.  MultiVites are made for adults, and there is also a kid version, L’il Critters Gummy Vites, for the younger set.

Fall for Chili

walmart-logoChili is always a crowd-pleaser, and I love that you can’t mess it up!  You can use any combination of beans and vegetables to create a nutritious, warming meal.  I used fresh celery, carrot, and onion and canned Great Value tomatoes, corn, and beans from Walmart in this Easy Chickpea, Turkey, and Bean Chili, which is full of lean protein and filling, heart-healthy fiber.  I love shopping at Walmart for fresh produce because they have incredible prices and offer 100% money back guarantee.

Snack Smartkind_bar_darkchocolatecinnamonpecan_2

Snacks are everywhere, but how do you know which ones to pick?  A lot of snack bars look healthy, but are actually loaded with sugar, fat, and suspicious artificial ingredients.

I always recommend that my clients read labels to choose real foods that are nutritionally balanced.  KIND is my favorite brand of on-the-go snack.  KIND bars are absolutely delicious, and they’re made with ingredients you can actually see and pronounce. You should not need a chemistry degree to understand what you are eating.

I’m currently crunching on their “nuts and spices” line of bars. They have only 5 grams of sugar or less per bar.  I go between the Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan and Madagascar Vanilla. Not only are they delicious on-the-go, but they make a great topping for yogurt and oatmeal.

 What are your favorite tips for staying healthy as the weather gets cooler? Leave a comment below and share your ideas!

 

Disclosure: I worked with Walmart, Vitafusion, and KIND for the TV segment, but did not receive compensation for writing this blog post.

 

#MushroomHealth Summit Day 2 Recap: Blendability, Research Tidbits, and “Green” Mushrooms

Missing the Mushroom Health Summit? Be sure to read my Day 1 RecapDisclosure: I’m working with the Mushroom Council to share information from the summit.

Mushroom Health Summit logo

Before we kicked off day 2, I visited the mushROOM to learn more about the growing process for specialty mushroom. I’ve heard of oyster and shiitake mushrooms, but this was the first time I saw pom pom, maitake, and King oyster. Take a look. They are so interesting!

Video Growing Specialty Mushrooms

Mouth Watering Already?

Be sure to check out these fabulous mushroom recipes on Pinterest and Mushroom Council’s website. You can also “like” Mushroom Council on Facebook.

Interesting Tidbits from Morning Sessions

There was so much information, I can’t summarize the entire day in one blog. I picked my favorite a-ha’s I thought you would like.

  • Mushrooms are the leading source of selenium, a powerful antioxidant being studied for its anticancer and immunity properties.
  • Mushrooms are high in “Ergo” (ergothioneine), a naturally occurring antioxidant found in red blood cells that may help protect the body’s cells. A lack of “ergo” may be related to development of chronic inflammatory disease. See: Grigat et al., 2007, Biochem Pharm. 74:309-316 (2007)
  • Digestive health is all the rage when it comes to “hot nutrition topics”. We are just now beginning to understand the “microbiotic community” living deep in our gut. Mushrooms are high in betaglucan, which is considered a prebiotic “food” we can’t digest, but the microbes in our gut much on in order to keep a healthy GI environment. This is crucial for our helathy immune system.

Find more research studies on mushrooms, antioxidants, inflammation, and immunity.

Lunch Demo – The Trend to Blend

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RD, Senior Director of Programs and Culinary Nutrition for Culinary Institute of America did an awesome job showing us how mushrooms can improve nutrition and consumer appeal of popular meat-based dishes.

Take a look at this story in pictures!

Three samples of mushroom blendability study.

Three samples of mushroom blendability study.

Sample 2 was my favorite 50/50 blend of mushrooms and meat

Sample 2 was my favorite 50/50 blend of mushrooms and meat

We were given 3 samples and asked to taste and rate each. Then the identity of each sample was revealed. We gave characteristics of sensory and flavors, both positive and negative. I liked all three.

The first one I could tell was 100% meat based on color and lack of mushroom taste. Between the second and third sample, it’s clear to see I liked the second sample best. This was a 50/50 mixture of mushrooms to meat with seasoning that amounted to about 320 mg sodium per 2 oz portion.

The third sample had about 100 mg less sodium, but I noticed a taste difference. I also felt the second sample was the most moist of the three. I think my favorite would work as long as the portion of meat/mushroom stuck to 1-3 oz per serving and the rest of the dish, more veggies etc. was minimal in sodium.

Another potential bonus for blendability is cost savings. Who doesn’t want to stretch their dollar? Basically 50/50 is less expensive than 100% meat and the more mushroom % in your blendability ratio, the greater the savings. That’s food for thought.

Be on the lookout for more studies and press about “blendability” of mushrooms in the near future. One of the study journal submissions was recently accepted.

Lunch Demo – Release the Umami, a Chemistry & Culinary Experiment

We also learned that it’s a culinary strategy to maximize the umami (savory) flavor from mushrooms. This is one of the key factorsphoto-18 that allow mushrooms to be blendable with traditional meat based dishes. Umami provides a satisfying sense of deep, complete flavor, balancing savory flavors and full-bodied taste with distinctive qualities of aroma and mouthfeel.

I haven’t discussed the “Maillard reaction” since my dietetic internship (and I won’t tell you how long that has been!) If you have heard of “caramelization”, “browning”, or “searing” then you know what I’m talking about. Caramelizing the mushroom releases more umami flavor than sautéing.

What’s the difference between browning/caramelizing and sautéing? You need high temperature DRY heat for caramelization. You need to use a little oil and give mushrooms space. Use too many in the pan and they will steam (wet cooking method). If you give them room, they will cook to brown color with crispy bits and deliver more of a nutty flavor.

Find more research on umami and sodium.

Mushrooms, Known as “White” are Really “Green”!

I thoroughly enjoyed the talk from the mushroom farmer at Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc.

He drove home the sustainability opportunities of mushrooms. Boiling it down in simple terms, growing mushrooms uses agricultural waste (yay recycling), grows in a matter of days on small plots of soil (yay), and uses minimal water and chemical additives.

When you eat mushrooms, you are eating a sustainable, nutritious food. Mushrooms are good for you and good for the planet. With the blendability concept, you don’t have to become a vegetarian to eat less meat, but you can easily add mushrooms to your traditional meat based recipes without sacrificing taste and flavor.

I had a fabulous time at the conference and I hope you enjoyed my summaries. To catch up on the chatter, you can visit the Twitter #MushroomHealth stream.

Foods to Help Keep Kids Energized and Focused at School

Schools are back in session. Busy parents don’t need any more complication to get through the school year. So I found some cool healthy snacks and lunch ideas for the kiddies! We all know the kids still want flavor while you want some cost-effective and healthy for them.  Together we can find a great solution satisfying both parents and kids. Simple and easy are keys to success.

My latest segments on ABC News Channel 8 “Let’s Talk Live” and NBC’s WBAL TV 11 in Baltimore reveal tips and recipe ideas for school lunches, at-home snacks, and dinner ideas that give them high marks throughout the day because they are fueled, focused and sharp.

A simple way to get your kids and family to eat healthier and snack smarter is to start with familiar foods and add in nutrition wherever you can. I have lots of ideas below. Most importantly in the midst of your busy week, take time to eat together. Families who eat together are happier and healthier.

Diclosure: I worked with KIND snacks, Lil’ Critters, Walmart, Turbana, Pirate’s Booty and Nature Box on these TV segments. I did not receive compensation for mentioning Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.

Start your day with a balanced breakfast!

KIND Grains

Brain foods are all the rage and a great way to fuel your school kids. For a balanced breakfast try making a parfait with granola from KIND “healthy grains,” with plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. This meal will provide the balanced of lean protein, whole grains and fruit.

Why KIND? Because it’s packed with super foods like chia and flax seeds to boost super brainpower! For gluten-free kids, no worries needed when trying this parfait-on-the-go recipe with a dose of KINDness. Better yet you get about half your daily whole grain needs with each KIND serving. What a bonus!

Ask your grocer to carry KIND if you don’t see it on the shelves. Check out #KINDawesome inspirations on Twitter

Cover Your Bases with a Delicious Gummy Vitamin

Moms I talk to like having a peace of mind that no matter what the crazy day brings, their kids are getting what they need. Not all multivitamins are created equal. Click to visit websiteL’il Critters GummyVites have naturally sourced flavors and colors and are made in the USA. That’s important to me in making a recommendation.

Plus with a L’il Critters multivitamin and multimineral complete supplement, no water is needed. It’s super convenient and easy to take.
Learn more about L’il Critters on their website.

Shop Walmart for Fresh In-Season Produce at Incredible Prices

I got some amazing produce on my recent trip to Walmart and I used it to make a superfood tuna salad and fresh fruit for the lunch box. walmart-wbal

Get your power brain sandwich filled with omega-3 rich tuna. To increase protein and decrease fat, swap out the mayo for hummus when making your tuna on whole grain bread. You will be surprised how tasty and nutritious this sandwich upgrade will be.

I always find a way to pack veggies into a whole wheat tuna sandwich. Chopped spinach, celery, diced cherry tomatoes, and avocado make for a nice addition in your reinvented meal. For low prices, check out your local Walmart.

Fruit skewers are an easy and fun idea for lunch or an after-school snack. tame your inner sweet tooth. Try strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, and bananas on the skewers. Blend 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt with 2 TBSP creamy peanut butter for a delicious and nutritious dip.

Follow all the chatter on Twitter with Walmart at #WMTfresh

Try a Twist on Your Banana, It’s A-Peel-Ing

I couldn’t help myself :)

Have you heard of “baby bananas”? For a perfect kid-size fruit snack I found the baby bananas to be the best choice. The TurbanaManzano Bananas baby bananas are a third the size of a regular banana. Pop two into their lunch bag and for after school. You can tell they are ripe with their golden yellowish skin and they are the sweetest when brown spotting is visible.

Also try manzanos, which taste like a cross between an apple and a banana. How cool is that? Keep up with Turbana on Twitter! They have some cool hashes #LoveYourselfABunch – for the choices you make and #LoveYouBunches – for gratitude for a shared commitment to social good. (More or Turbana’s social good below).

A Crunchy, Healthier Alternative for the Lunch Box

Pirates Booty

Instead of greasy chips, pack a healthier snack option—Pirate’s Booty. Whether you are packing lunch for your kids or yourself, this baked, all-natural snack has half the fat and fewer calories than regular fried chips. And it’s delicious!!!

With only 65 calories in each half ounce bag, Pirate’s Booty is win for any lunchbox. Plus for it’s safe for kids with common food allergies like tree nut, gluten or peanut allergies. Everything in moderation is the name of the game and I’m a huge fan of

Move More Veggies to School Lunches

saladbars2schools_2

Did you have a salad bar in school? First Lady Michelle Obama is reviving the bar nostalgia with some public support. The First Lady kicked off “Let’s Move Salad Bars 2 Schools.”

This public-private initiative increases children’s fruit and vegetable intake at lunch time with salad bars to meet NEW nutrition standards. With salad bars, kids get exposure to a variety of foods, they can try new fruits and veggies and choose their favorites.

Right now in the District of Columbia, 95 schools are waiting for salad bars. That’s why partners like Turbana are so important. With their US initiatives, Turbana is donating salad bars through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools program. Learn how you can support your school district.

So far more than 2500 salad bars have been donated, but we have a long way to go.

Simplifying Snacks Front Door Delivery

When the kids get home for school, ready-to-eat snacks can be a nutritious bridge to curb hunger between meals. That’s why I really love Nature Box, which has over 120 nutritionist approved snack choices delivered to your door starting $19.95 a month. You can pick everything from dried fruits, trail mixes, flavored seeds and nuts, Pistachio Power Clusters to Masa Crisps just to name a few.NatureBox_snacks_and_box

Made from wholesome ingredients, which are minimally processed, the snacks have no high fructose corn syrup, no trans fats or hydrogenated oils, no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors!

NatureBox is available in three box sizes: Deluxe, Family and Smart Snacker options. Among the three box sizes, I find the Family Snacker as a real winner for the average family which includes 10 full-sized bags.

Check out all their goodies on the website. I personally love the dried pineapple! MMMmmm…

Dinner Surprise – Something Different, Healthy and Quick

yucca-peeledAre you ready for new foodie adventure for your kids? Then take them on a trip to the local Latin market or the ethnic foods section of your favorite store. There you can discover a new world of side dishes to upgrade your everyday meals.

For instance, instead of the traditional potato, pick up Turbana Latin American roots like yucca or eddoes. You can use them in any recipe that calls for potatoes. Or try them Peruvian style. Done in 20 minutes, boil them and add a sauce of olive oil, garlic, onion, lime juice and cumin. Check out the recipe. Take “short cuts” for the rest of the meal. You can do a quick side salad or green veggie and for the protein, think about already cooked shrimp you can warm up or even a rotisserie chicken from the store.  turbana_laptops

You can feel good about supporting Turbana with your dollar. For 40 years, Turbana has been supporting community projects in its growing regions in Columbia. Turbana gives back to the community by funding laptops to children in need through their One Laptop Per Child to donate computers to less privileged children.               

Disclosure: I worked with Wal-Mart, KIND, Pirate’s Booty, Tubrana, and Gummy Vites for the TV segment, but did not receive compensation for writing this blog post or for mentioning Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.

 

Healthy Eating for a Summer on the Move

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors — whether you’re headed to the beach, the pool, a long bike ride or a picnic in the park.  When its hot out, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to spend too many hours sweating in the kitchen, but still want to eat healthy, delicious food.  During my recent segment on Let’s Talk Live DC, I shared some summertime tips for eating well.

Check out my fun, healthy ideas for grilling, simple breakfasts, and quality snacks.  You can watch the full video here or check out highlights from my segment below.

Tip #1 Fire up the Grill!

Not only is grilling the most popular way to cook in the summertime, it is also easy, fast and healthy.  You can grill Mazola+Corn+Oil+40+oz+Imagealmost anywhere—by the side of the lake or in your backyard.

I love using heart healthy Mazola Corn Oil for grilling. It provides 4 times more of the cholesterol blocking plant sterols than olive oil and 40% more than canola oil.  It also very heat stable, making it a great choice for a hot grill.

Try grilling fresh fish (check out a delicious tilapia recipe here)—it cooks in under 10 minutes and can easily be paired with summer vegetables like squash, onions, peppers & tomatoes.  Tip: wrap the fish and veggies in foil pockets for easy clean up!

Think beyond meats– you can grill almost anything!  Some fun recipes from the Mazola website include grilled guacamole, grilled banana splits or grilled bloody mary’s! For great recipes like these just visit www.mazola.com.

Tip #2 Try Versatile Lamb

f31ec1d9187b98ee64441b2433264e83Getting bored with BBQ chicken or burgers?  Give lamb a try!  I love using lamb because it is lean, packed with flavor and adds a novel twist to summer BBQs.  In addition, you might be surprised to hear how versatile it is—lamb is great ground into burgers or cubed to stick on kebabs between vegetables (try these balsamic and rosemary kabobs).

Stuck with leftovers?  Transform lamb and vegetables from last night’s kabobs into a healthy, scrumptious Mediterranean salad– Just add arugula (or any green), feta, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, some mint and red wine vinegar, mix in a big bowl and enjoy!

For more recipe ideas like these visit www.leanonlamb.com.

Tip #3 Simplify Breakfast

59995-GreatGrainsCinnamonHazelnut1-mdEven when you’re eager to hit the road and get to the beach, don’t make the common mistake of skipping breakfast! Breakfast gives your body the fuel it needs to play hard! Breakfast is also a great opportunity to get in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and fiber, not to mention for preventing an emergency fast food stop 30 miles down the road.

Great Grains by Post is a great option for a nutritious cereal.  Made with less processed ingredients such as whole grain flakes from actual wheat berries, real fruit and nuts, just add milk or greek yogurt for a complete breakfast.  Their “Protein Blend” cereals have 8 grams of protein per serving and come in delicious new flavors such as Honey, Oats & Seeds or Cinnamon Hazelnut.

Want to prepare a treat to take with? Try this banana nut chocolate chip crumb cake recipe from www.greatgrains.com.  Using the Banana Nut Crunch cereal as a base, along with low-fat yogurt, bananas and chocolate chips, it is healthy with a delicious crunch!

Tip #4 Snack on Whole Foods:

It is normal to feel hungry every 3-5 hours, depending on the size of your last meal.  When out and about and there’s no time to stop for a meal, snacks provide a great bridge to the quiet those stomach gurgles.  Snack smart by choosing whole foods such as fruits, nuts & seeds that are nutrient dense and satisfying.

nuts-spices-mixed-casep-mainThere are a lot of packaged snacks out there, but some are higher quality than others.  KIND bars is one of my favorites for “on the go” energy. With simple ingredients that you can pronounce and only 5 grams of sugar, they also come in fun flavors.  Try their new “nuts and spices” line including Dark Chocolate Chili Almond (has a little bite to it!) or their Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt with an awesome sweet & salty combo.

Craving dessert?  Try crumbling a chocolate KIND bar on natural vanilla ice cream—YUM!

What are you favorite summertime recipes?

I love adding to my recipe collection — leave a comment below and share your favorite summer recipes!

Disclosure: I worked with Mazola, the Tri-Lamb Group, Post, and Kind Snacks for the TV segment, but did not receive compensation for writing this blog post.

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