September 30-Day Challenge: Take Care of Your Heart

heart

I love the heart. For one, we all need our hearts to live and we need our hearts to love.

If you know me, you know I’m all about self-care and self-love. Most of my clients, family, and friends are so good at taking care of others, yet many of them struggle with taking care of themselves – yours truly included (hello, mom of two fabulous and energy-draining girls under two years old.)

We obviously need a healthy heart to live a long, happy life and enjoy the ride. Six years ago my mom suffered a near fatal heart attack. She’s had two more minor ones since then and quadruple bypass surgery. While she has heart disease, she has been able to quit smoking and she enjoys water walking.

As you can imagine, healthy hearts are personal to me. When it came time to come up with a new monthly challenge for September and I realized it was National Cholesterol Education Month, I decided to honor hearts everywhere – my mom’s, mine, and yours!

The focus of this month’s 30-Day Challenge is THREE SIMPLE WAYS you can take care of your heart (yes, only three!) and help keep your cholesterol in a healthy range. And maybe even more importantly keep your heart healthy for years, and years, and YEARS of love.

So What IS Cholesterol?

Our bodies actually need cholesterol in order to make vitamin D and hormones like estrogen and testosterone. We get some from out diet, but most of it is made in our liver. HDL (“good” cholesterol), is the kind that helps to protect our heart and carries cholesterol to our liver for our bodies to get rid of it. This is the one where a higher number is a good thing.  LDL (“bad cholesterol”) is the kind that carries cholesterol from the liver to other parts of the body. The problem is that when your LDL cholesterol gets too high it can end up accumulating in your arteries which can lead to serious issues like heart attacks and strokes. The goal is to have a low LDL and a high HDL to help keep your heart healthy.

What Are Some Ways I Can Take Care of My Heart?

The good news is that there are things each of us can do every day to help bring our cholesterol into a healthy range. 3 things you can do EVERY DAY are:

  1. Eat well — this means eating a balanced and varied diet full of color and wholesome, nourishing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean proteins. Emphasizing heart healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, canola oil and nuts and seeds is important too. Cooking at home lets you control the ingredients of your meals, so set a goal to get in the kitchen more — even have your kids help out! Check out this list of 10 foods to break your low cholesterol diet rut to help keep your meals exciting and prevent boredom. The American Heart Association has a great collection of heart healthy recipes if you need some ideas to get you started.
  2. Exercise regularly — exercise has been shown to help improve your cardiovascular function, and it can help lower your cholesterol. Choose whatever kind of movement feels fun and makes your body feel good (yoga, hula hooping, walking your dog, playing outside with your kids, a dance class, etc.) and aim for 30 minutes per day (about 2.5 hours per week).
  3. Not smoke — smoking is the number one cause of heart disease and heart attack. Your body gets healthier even within 24 hours of quitting, so why not choose today to quit? For resources and support for how to quit, you can visit http://smokefree.gov.

I want to hear how YOU take care of your heart!

  • Share your heart healthy recipes, favorite workouts, and other inspiration with me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll also be posting motivations, tips, and responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  • If you have a blog, write about your experience and share those links.
  • I’m using the hashtag #heartsmart

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.

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