A New Nutrition Label

Happy National Nutrition Month!  All March long, the spotlight is on finding new, healthy  foods and flavors to enjoy.   To help consumers do this a bit better, the Food and Drug Administration proposed changes to the food label, including moving the percent Daily Value column to the left side of the label, enlarging the calorie count and including added sugars.  To read more and download a great activity about the new food labels for your classroom or family, visit Learning Zone Express .

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Peanut Butter with Breakfast

PB&J for breakfast?  A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that women who ate 3 tablespoons of peanut butter with their breakfast were less hungry and had lower blood glucose levels later in the day, even after eating a high-carbohydrate lunch.  The researchers suggested that the combination of protein, heart-healthy fats and fiber may contribute to feelings of satiety while keeping blood sugar in check.  Read more here, and visit the Peanut Institute for healthy peanut and peanut butter recipes.

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Quick Fish

Need dinner ideas in a hurry?  I first shared a variation of this recipe while teaching a nutrition and exercise class for diabetics as a staff nutritionist for the Y, and it quickly became a favorite.  It has all the goodness of fried fish without the extra calories.  The dressing and fish itself provide heart-healthy fats, and herbs give great flavor.  As an added bonus, it’s ready in 20 minutes or less!

Quick Baked Fish Sandwich (Serves 4)


4 flounder filets

¼ teaspoon dried dill

¼ teaspoon dried parsley

¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 toasted, lower-sodium sandwich thins or rolls (split)

1 cup bagged greens with shredded carrots and cabbage

1/8 cup golden raisins

Oil and vinegar

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place filets on foil-lined sheet.  Combine dill, parsley, lemon and pepper, and sprinkle over fish.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until fish reaches an internal temperature of 140°F.  Place one filet on each sandwich thin or roll, and top each with ¼ cup of bagged greens and a few raisins.  Drizzle greens with oil and vinegar, and serve sandwich warm.

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Top Diet Picks for the New Year

Once again, U.S. News and World Report has ranked the D.A.S.H. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, developed by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, as the Best Diet Overall and Best Diet for Healthy Eating in its annual rating and review of diet plans.  Second place honors went to the TLC Diet, (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet), developed by the American Heart Association to help lower cholesterol.  Not surprisingly, these “diets” are really more of a lifestyle plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains paired with physical activity.  It’s nothing new but a reminder that a simple, doable and lasting plans have long-term effectiveness over a fad.  If establishing healthful eating habits is one of your resolutions for the new year, start with a small change, like cooking dinner at home more often.  Check out Snapfish for free, printable grocery and meal planning lists to get started, or visit Taste of Home’s Healthy Eating page for a variety of quick recipes that make healthy eating fun.

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Merry Morning Breakfast Mix

Nuts are back in the news, this time after a recent report from the Harvard Medical School found children whose mothers consumed nuts5 times each week or more during pregnancy had a lowered risk of developing nut allergies.  Chock full of protein, fiber, minerals and other nutrients, a handful of nuts makes a great on-the-go snack or quick add-in to holiday dishes that’s perfect for this busy time of year.   And, for an easy, healthy, last minute gift, toss toasted nuts into the breakfast cereal mix below!

Merry Morning Breakfast Mix:

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup Rice Chex cereal, 2 T gold or red raisins, 1 Tsp mini chocolate chips, 1 Tsp toasted sunflower seeds, 1 T toasted nuts and 1 Tsp shredded coconut.  Sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon, and stir to combine.  Pour mix into an empty, cleaned jelly jar.  Cover lid with a scrap of fabric, and secure fabric to lid with a rubber band and ribbon.   Print and cut out the label below, and tape to the front of the jar with double sided tape.  Merry Christmas!

Label (print, cut and tape onto jar):

Merry Morning Breakfast Mix

Ingredients:  Rice Chex, raisins, Enjoy Life

chocolate chips, sunflower seeds,

coconut, cinnamon




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Easy Spiced Pecans

Seeking an alternative to the fall candy appearing in stores?  These toasted pecans provide just a hint of sweetness but are packed with nutrients.  Tuck them into an orange treat sack for a fun party favor.

These sweet pumpkins make a perfectly healthy treat that's sure to bring a smile.  For an easy party favor craft, have guests assemble the pumpkins.

These sweet pumpkins make a perfectly healthy treat that’s sure to bring a smile. For an easy party favor craft, have guests assemble the pumpkins.

Bootiful Pecan Pumpkins (Makes 1 treat bag with 8 servings per bag)


1 cup pecans

1 tablespoon extra light olive oil

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon apple juice

1 teaspoon brown sugar

¼ teaspoon apple pie spice

¼ cup dried apple bits, optional


1 fold and close sandwich bag with twist tie

1 small orange cellophane treat sac


Green chenille stem

Black cardstock

Double sided tape


Preheat the oven to 400 °F.  Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the nut mixture onto the paper.  Bake the nuts for 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, and cool.  Stir in the apple bits.

Place the cooled pecans into the sandwich bag, and close the bag with the twist tie.  Place the bag inside the orange treat sac to make a “pumpkin,” and tie it shut with raffia.  Wrap the chenille stem around the bag’s top several times, and curl ends around a pencil to make a stem and tendrils.  Cut a pumpkin face out of black cardstock, and adhere it to the bag with double sided tape.

If desired, include a tag with serving suggestions, such as topping low fat frozen yogurt or salads with the nuts.

Per Serving: 114 Cal (86% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 10% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 12 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 7 g Mono Fat; 3 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 2 g Sugar; 11 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 0 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol


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An Oven-Free Summer

Thought temperatures may warm again before summer ends, it’s easy to beat the heat without hitting the drive through!

Think produce mixed with beans or precooked chicken and nestled in a wrap as a main dish salad.

Stuff a pita with veggies, low-fat cheese and a drizzle of vinegar.

Cool down with gazpacho or a fruit soup.

Plug in the slow cooker, and make a hearty meal without heating the kitchen.

Fire up the grill, or use the microwave.  To keep the menu fresh, try a new marinade or swap some of the meat for seasonal vegetables.

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