Cool Back-to-School Kitchen Tools

If Monday mornings find you scrambling to prepare yet another week’s worth of lunches, try these great back-to-school tips and tools from Cooking Light.  Check out their ideas for a healthier lunch box here, or find a new favorite snack mix recipe that’s just right for after school.   And if breakfast is usually an afterthought, they also have great recipes for quick and easy, make ahead options here.

They even have dinner covered with a weeknight meal planner for organizing a week’s worth of dinners and getting ideas for healthy, new recipes, as well.

Happy September!

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Dip, Dip, Hooray for Avocados!

Need a quick dip for those summer veggies that are beginning to appear in gardens and at farm stands?  Researchers at Ohio State reported that eating tomato sauce or raw carrots with avocado significantly increased absorption and conversion of pro-vitamin A carotenoids to their active form.  Read more, and download their dip recipe here.

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Red, White and Blue Sandwiches

Happy 4th of July!  If it’s too wet to grill, try an “indoor” picnic with this easy variation on PB&J.  White whole wheat, sunflower or almond butter and banana slices cut into stars would also work well.  (Slivered almonds were used for the stars in the picture below.)

Blueberry jam, peanut butter, dried cranberries and almond slivers make a perfect, "inside-out' peanut butter and jelly flag sandwich.

Blueberry jam, peanut butter, dried cranberries and almond slivers make a perfect, “inside-out’ peanut butter and jelly flag sandwich.

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Teacher Appreciation Week

May is a month of appreciating; teachers, moms and hard-working grads all deserve recognition!  I am enjoying these special certificates of appreciation from Learning Zone Express that use FoodScape designs (animals and objects build from fruits and vegetables and then photographed).  Check out all four certificates; they would be great paired with a fruit basket or other healthy treat!

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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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