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  • How to Build a Better Breakfast: Part 3, Protein

    Do you feel like everyone is going crazy over protein lately? It seems like all the food blogs I follow are shouting this message: "YOU AREN'T EATING ENOUGH PROTEIN". And everyone wants to fix that problem by selling (really expensive) protein powder. I disagree. And I never buy protein powder. Why? I learned in my college nutrition classes that the ideal protein level for most adults is .8 grams per kg of body weight. I weigh 145 pounds, so my ideal protein intake is 52 grams per day. To find your own protein needs, multiply your weight (in pounds) by 0.358 Most adults need between 50 and 70 grams per day. It's really easy to get eat 50 grams protein. It's especially easy if you eat meat, which has about 20 grams protein per serving. Check out the protein content of foods I ate yesterday: breakfast: oats with berries total (22 grams protein): 7 grams = 1/4 cup almonds 8 grams = 1 cup milk 5 grams = 1/2 cup oats 2 grams = 1 cup berries lunch: green smoothie + tuna on crackers (45 grams protein): 8 grams = 1 cup milk 7 grams = 2 Tablespoons peanut butter 1.5 grams = 1 cup collard greens 1.5 grams = 1 banana 24 grams = 1 can tuna 3 grams = 6 triscuit crackers snack: raspberry smoothie (17 grams protein): 8 grams = 1/2 cup cottage cheese 8 grams = 1 cup milk 1 gram = 1/2 cup raspberries 1 gram = 1 banana dinner: soup + salad (28 grams protein): 8 grams = sausage kale soup 6 grams = whole wheat bread 14 grams = 1 cup beans 2 grams = green salad 0.5 grams = 1 apple My total protein intake for the day = 112 grams protein (which equates to 1.69 g/kg....double what I need for the day) See, it's really easy to get enough protein. It's also really easy for toddlers to get enough protein. Toddlers (age 1-3) only need 13 grams of protein each day. Here's an estimated 3 year old's daily intake: breakfast (10.5 grams protein) 8 grams = 1 cup milk 2.5 grams = 1/2 cup cheerios snack (9 grams protein) 7 grams = 1 cheese stick 2 grams = handful of crackers lunch (6 grams protein) 5 grams = 2 chicken nuggets 1 gram = 2 pieces of broccoli 0 grams = apple sauce snack (6 grams protein) 3 grams = 1 slice toast 3 grams = 1 Tablespoon peanut butter dinner (5 grams protein) 1.5 grams = 1/2 tortilla 3.5 grams = 1/2 oz cheese total for the day = 36 grams protein Remember, a toddler only needs 13 grams protein per day This is about 3 times what they need in a day. So if you feel like you aren't getting enough protein, don't worry. You probably are. And your toddler is too. That being said, it's important to eat protein at breakfast. Eating a good source of protein at breakfast keeps you (and your little people) full longer, so you don't have to worry about feeding people again for at least a few hours. Eating protein with breakfast also keeps your blood sugars from going up too fast, which can help you feel your best the rest of the day. While it's good to aim for about 15 grams of protein at each meal (for adults) and 5 grams (for kids age 1-3), I never count protein grams. In fact, I had to look up how much protein is in the foods I ate yesterday to make this post. I simply make sure to include at least 1 protein source in every meal + snack I eat, and by the end of the day I know it will add up to enough. So at breakfast, I usually eat one of the following high protein foods: milk nuts (or nut butter) eggs beans cottage cheese yogurt Things like bread and oatmeal have a little bit too, but not as much as animal foods and nuts. Here are a few of my favorite breakfasts and their protein content (which I had to look up). Eggs in a Mug (18 grams protein, 2 minutes to make) Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/4 cup cottage cheese Directions: wisk eggs + cheese in a mug. Microwave 1 minute, stir with a fork. Microwave 1 more minute. stir with a fork and eat. 2 Minute Microwave Oats (16 grams protein, 2 minutes to make) Ingredients: 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons peanut butter How: put all in bowl, microwave for 2 minutes, stir and eat Cottage Cheese Pancakes (20 grams for the entire batch, 6 minutes to make) Ingredients: 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 3/4 cup milk How: wisk all ingrdients in a bowl, cook in a skillet 2.5 minutes each side Raspberry Smoothie (21 grams protein, 2 minutes to make) Ingredients: 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, 1 frozen banana How: blend all ingredients in a blender Looking for more healthy breakfast ideas that don't include protein powder? Check out the breakfast section on my website: Thanks for reading! I'll be back in 2 weeks with a new nutrition topic! If you want to be sure to get all my blog posts to your email, click here to subscribe:

  • How to build a better breakfast: Part 2, SUGAR

    My favorite breakfast as child was deep pocketed Belgian waffles. I loved to fill every square to the top with maple syrup and watch it soak into the bread. Then I'd top the entire thing with whipped cream. Yum. As an adult, I still love a syrup soaked waffle covered in whipped cream. But I save that type of waffle for special occasions. Why? Eating too much sugar makes me feel yucky, especially at breakfast when the rush of sugar can give me a headache. I also know that eating too much sugar causes heart disease, cancer and diabetes, so I try to limit how much sugar I eat every day. Don't get me wrong, I still love sweet treats. But I treat them as just that: treats. Not something I eat every day for breakfast. The American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend limiting ADDED sugar to 25 grams/day for kids. Added sugars are listed on food labels as "added sugars." Natural sugars in milk and fruit are not "added sugars" and don't count toward the 25 grams. Don't limit the amount of fresh fruit your child eats! image source: It's important to pay attention to how much added sugar you have at breakfast so you can balance it out the rest of the day. So if you really love to eat a syrup soaked waffle for breakfast, you should probably avoid packing dessert in your lunch too. Here's a list of the added sugar content of common breakfast foods. Remember, the limit is 25 grams per day 2 Pop Tarts = 30 grams sugar 1 Blueberry muffin = 25 grams sugar 1 packet hot coco = 23 grams sugar 2 Tablespoons maple syrup = 22 grams sugar 1 Tablespoon Nutella = 19 grams sugar 1 cup chocolate milk = 16 grams sugar 1 glazed donut = 15 grams sugar 1 container strawberry yogurt (6oz) = 13 grams sugar 1 cup Lucky Charms = 12 grams sugar 1 cup Honey Nut Cherrios = 12 grams sugar 1 cup Frosted Flakes = 12 grams sugar 1 capri sun juice pouch = 12 grams sugar 1 Tablespoon grape jelly = 12 grams sugar 1 packet sweetened applesauce = 9 grams sugar 1 cup honey bunches of oats = 9 grams sugar 1 Tablespoon strawberry jam = 9 grams sugar rice chex, rice crispies, corn flakes = 2 grams sugar 1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter = 2 grams sugar Plain Cherrios = 1 gram sugar Eggs, plain milk, plain oatmeal, plain yogurt, fruit = 0 grams added sugar! My childhood waffle probably had at least 1/4 syrup, which equates to 60 grams of added sugar! Remember, the limit is 25 grams per day. See how easy it is to go overboard with sugar at breakfast? I really hate counting calories or sugar grams, but I do think it's important to be aware of what you are eating. I still buy syrup and jam, but I almost never buy pop tarts, boxed cereal, or chocolate milk. They are just too concentrated with sugar, so we save them for special treats. So if we don't we cold cereal for breakfast, what do we eat? Here are my top 4 family breakfasts: #1 Peanut Butter Oatmeal 2 grams added sugar from the peanut butter 2 minutes to make in the microwave #2 Green Smoothie 2g added sugar from the peanut butter 3 minutes to make in a blender #3 Raspberry Smoothie 0 grams added sugar 2 minutes in a blender #4 Scrambled Eggs 0 grams added sugar 5 minutes in a frying pan Want more healthy breakfast ideas? Join me for a virtual healthy breakfast cooking class next Tuesday March 26th @ 5:30. Send me an email ( if you want to join and I'll send you the shopping list. Thanks for reading, I'll be back next week to talk about more healthy breakfast ideas!

  • How to build a better breakfast Part 1

    Everyone needs something to get them out of bed in the morning: a job, a pet or maybe a beautiful baby to snuggle. The thing that gets me out of bed every morning is.....eating. Eating is my favorite. I love getting up and into the kitchen every morning to whip up something delicious to eat. But I'm also a Registered Dietitian. So when I say whip up something delicious, it's not donuts and cinnamon rolls. To me, something delicious must be: high in fiber low in added sugars high in vegetables or fruits high in protein I know that to most people, fiber and veggies don't actually sound delicious at all.😂 But I'm hoping to convince you otherwise. On the blog this month, I am going to share 4 better breakfast building tips along with recipes I make all the time. Let's start with FIBER. Why Fiber? keeps you regular (prevents constipation) keeps you full longer (so you don't overeat) feeds healthy bacteria in your gut (extremely important for overall health) prevents cancer (especially colon cancer) lowers cholesterol (thus preventing heart disease) controls blood sugars (thus preventing diabetes) How Much Fiber? Kids age 1-3 need 19 grams per day. Kids age 4-13 need 25 grams per day Kids and adults 14+ need between 30 and 40 grams of fiber every day, Fiber content of common breakfast foods (click links for recipes): Ways to increase fiber: Always use whole wheat flour for pancakes Look for recipes that use at least 1/2 whole grain, preferably 100% whole grain Eat more oatmeal! Add vegetables to eggs Only buy 100% whole wheat bread Use whole wheat tortillas for breakfast burritos add beans to breakfast burritos Add fruit and nuts to yogurt, granola and oatmeal Buy cereal that is high in fiber High Fiber Recipes I've made in the past week: Whole Wheat Waffles from King Arthur Flour (5 grams fiber per waffle) Peanut Butter Banana Cookies (2 grams per cookie) Berry Oatmeal (7 grams fiber & my son's favorite when he was a baby) Peanut Butter Oatmeal (6 grams fiber & our most eaten breakfast) Pumpkin Muffins (4g fiber, I cut the sugar down to 1/3 cup) Spinach Smoothie (5g fiber) My Favorite Blogs with High Fiber Breakfast Recipes: Eating Bird Food: Cookie and Kate: Real Mom Nutrition: Love and Lemons: I hope this gets you started on high fiber foods! Remember, kids need 19 grams of fiber every day, and adults need around 30 grams. Start comparing food labels and choosing higher fiber options today! Next time on the blog we will talk about lower sugar breakfast options.

  • How to not fail at the vegan diet

    I have experienced my "parent fails" in my years as a mother. That kid with the wonky DIY-haircut? That's my kid (and my lack of cutting skills) Those girls walking down the street in winter without shoes? Those are my girls (they own shoes, just choose not to wear them!) That boy on the hiking trail with a huge tear in the rear of his pants (and no underwear)? He's mine. My "parent fails" aren't a big deal most of the time. Just mistakes that teach me to do better next time. Hair grows back, feet warm up, and bare bums can be creatively covered with plastic bags and medical tape. However, some "parent fails" can cause lifelong damage to your child's health. One of those "permanent parent fails" is a poorly managed vegan diet. Without careful planning, vegan diets can put a child at risk of permanent nerve damage, developmental delays, weak bones, and poor immune systems. With careful planning, all of those problems can be avoided. Are you thinking about feeding your child a vegan diet? If so, keep reading to learn how to "not fail" at this way of eating. This article is not meant to be medical advice, but a basic guideline to help you plan. If you are thinking about starting a vegan diet, please talk with your medical doctor or pediatrician. In this blog post: Main takeaways Vitamin B12 Iron Zinc Calcium Vitamin D Foods Vegan Children should eat every day Example of a healthy vegan diet for toddlers The 5 main takeaways from this blog post: Here's basics: #1. Vegan diets contain no animal foods. Without meat, dairy, eggs and fish it is hard to get enough: Vitamin B12 Iron Zinc Calcium Vitamin D #2. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D are not found naturally in plant foods. To get enough B12 and vitamin D, Toddlers must: Eat/drink fortified foods OR Take a supplement (always ask your doctor for a recommendation) OR Get it from breastmilk. If your child is less than 1 year and breastfed, make sure the breastfeeding mother eats enough B12 and D #3. Plant sources of iron are not absorbed as well as meat sources. To get enough iron you should: Eat a source of iron at every meal (fortified and whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes and dried fruits) and Eat foods high in vitamin C (like fruits) with every meal (vitamin C helps absorb iron) Always talk to a doctor before taking iron supplements to avoid iron poisoning Start iron-fortified infant cereal at 6 months (breastmilk is low in iron) #4. The best sources of zinc and calcium are: beans nuts leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli) whole grains (like oatmeal) #5. Raw leafy greens, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of nutrition. They are also choking hazards until age 3. Here are two safe ways for toddlers to eat them: Blending greens, nuts and seeds into a green smoothie Blend beans, nuts and seeds into hummus Stir nut/seed butter into oatmeal Keep reading for more details about each of these topics! Vitamin B12 Why your child needs it: B12 is an important part of the brain and nervous system, which are developing rapidly during the first years of life. Not getting enough can cause brain damage. It's easy to get enough if you drink soymilk. Want more info on B12?: click here. Tips for getting enough: Offer B12 fortified soymilk and cereals. One cup of Silk Soymilk has 3x the amount of B12 your child needs in a day (see chart). Check food labels at the store for foods with B12 content. Notice how B12 content varies between brands. You must frequently check labels to ensure your child gets enough B12 from fortified food sources. Always ask your pediatrician for help before giving your baby a dietary supplement. If your child eats cereal and drinks soymilk, they probably get plenty. If you are breastfeeding, eat enough B12 so it will be present in your breastmilk (adults need 2.4 micrograms/day) Iron Why your child needs it: Iron is an essential part of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of your body. Iron is also vital for a baby’s nerve and brain development. Babies who do not get enough iron can have weakness, developmental delays and anemia. Want to learn more about iron: click here. Tips for getting enough It's easy to get enough iron if your baby eats fortified cereals. Without fortified foods, it takes planning to get enough iron from vegan food sources. Plant sources of iron are not well absorbed. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption. Eat foods high in vitamin C (oranges, kiwis, red bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli) with a source of iron (beans, nuts, cereals, whole grains) to help your body absorb iron. If your baby doesn’t get enough iron from food, ask your pediatrician for help choosing a dietary supplement. Supplements can cause iron poisoning, which can kill an infant, so always ask a physician for help. Zinc Why your child needs it: Zinc promotes a healthy immune system. It is an important part of your child’s growth and development. Without enough zinc, your baby might get sick more than usual and have developmental delays. Want to learn more: click here. Tips for getting enough: Oatmeal is a good source of zinc, providing 50% of a toddler's needs for the day. Blending nut butter or chia seeds into smoothies or oatmeal is an easy way to provide zinc to young children who cannot safely chew nuts and seeds. Breakfast cereals are sometimes fortified with zinc. Check labels to see how much zinc is in the cereal you regularly eat. If there is none, look into a different brand. The amount of zinc varies by brand and variety. Calcium Why your child needs it: Calcium builds baby’s bones. Without enough calcium, your child could develop weak bones. Want to learn more? Click here. Tips for getting enough: Serve 2 to 3 cups of soymilk every day. Offer green vegetables at least twice per day. Green smoothies are the easiest way to eat green leafy vegetables. Making a green smoothie with soy milk, greens and chia seeds is a great way to get enough calcium. I drink a green smoothie every day. Vitamin D Why your child needs it: Children who do not get enough vitamin D can develop rickets, which is softening of the bones. It is currently thought that getting enough vitamin D might help prevent heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and depression later in life. Tips for getting enough: Fortified milk, cereal and orange juice are the only vegan food sources of vitamin D. During summer months, the body makes vitamin D from sunlight. The body can't make vitamin D in Utah in winter because the angle of the sun is too low. Every brand has a different amount of vitamin D, you will have to check food labels to know if you are eating enough. Mushrooms sometimes have vitamin D, but only if specifically treated with UV light. Do not count on mushrooms as a reliable source of vitamin D. Ask your pediatrician for help choosing a vitamin D supplement if your child does not get at least 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day. Foods a vegan child should be offered at every meal: B12 and Vitamin D Fortified soymilk (1 cup, 3 times per day) Soymilk is better than almond milk. Almond milk is very low in protein! Kids need protein to grow. Almond milk is often not fortified with vitamin B12. A good source of iron (either iron-fortified cereal, beans or nut butter/ground nuts) Fruits (vitamin C in fruit helps with iron absorption) Vegetables (preferably a leafy green or cruciferous like broccoli - the vitamins and minerals are best absorbed from leafy greens + they have more calcium) Whole grains like cereal, bread, tortilla, oatmeal or other cooked grains Meal Ideas for a Vegan Toddler: These are simple meal ideas that come from the DDI Nutrition Recipe page. Most are recipes that have been used for our cooking class. Most recipes we make are vegan because vegan meals are actually less expensive than meals with meat and dairy products. Breakfast Ideas: #1 Cereal and milk 1 cup silk soymilk ½ to 1 cup iron and zinc fortified cereal (Great Value Toasted O’s are well fortified) ½ cup fruit (strawberries, applesauce, oranges, anything with vitamin C in it) #2 Oatmeal ½ cup oatmeal cooked in ½ cup soymilk Stir in 2 tablespoons nut butter ½ cup soymilk to drink 1/2 cup orange juice (for vitamin C to help with iron absorption) #3 Vegan smoothie 1 cup soymilk 2 tablespoons peanut butter 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup spinach 1 tablespoon chia seeds ½ frozen banana (blend on high speed) Snack Ideas: ½ slice of toast 1 tablespoon nut butter (almond butter has more zinc and calcium than peanut butter) fruit smoothie Lunch Ideas: tortilla stuffed with: hummus chopped spinach leaves chopped bell pepper fruit on the side OR Iron fortified noodles peanut sauce Baked tofu Cooked collard greens ½ cup fruit - in season OR LEFTOVERS breakfast foods dinner foods snack foods Snack Ideas: hummus lion: emotional toast (use hummus instead of cream cheese) Dinner Ideas: Vegan soup with beans, noodles and cooked greens (use veggie broth) Vegetarian Chili (no sour cream or cheese on top) Lentil Soup Buddha Bowls Burrito Bowls Garbanzo Bean Curry Lentil Curry Lentil Tacos Vegan black bean salad (skip the queso fresco) For more great recipes visit my recipe page: Be sure to include soymilk and fruit on the side of every meal! References Saunders AV, Craig WJ, Baines SK, Posen JS. Iron and vegetarian diets. Med J Aust. 2013;199(4 Suppl):S11-16. Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin D. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Linus Pauling Institute. Iron. Iron Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Zinc. Linus Pauling Institute. Eye on Nutrition, Zinc. WICworks. Zinc Fact Sheet for Health Professionals US Deptartment of Health and Human Services. 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Appendix E-3.1.A4. Nutritional goals for each age/sex group used in assessing adequacy of USDA Food Patterns at various calorie levels. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2003 Apr;49(2):81-6. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.49.81. Effect of soaking prior to cooking on the levels of phytate and tannin of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris, L.) and the protein value. Elizabete Helbig 1, Admar Costa de Oliveira, Keila da Silva Queiroz, Soely Marie Pissini Machado Reis Is iron and zinc a concern for young vegans? Hurrell RF. Phytic acid degradation as a means of improving iron absorption. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 2004;74:445–52. Iron absorption: factors, limitations and improvement factors Improving the bioavailability of iron:

  • 3 Easy Beet Recipes to try with your family

    Beets are the superfood you've been missing out on! Studies show that the nutrients in beets (especially the antioxidants and phytonutrients) can help prevent cancer and heart disease (1,2,3,4). One half cup of beets provides 50% of a toddler's folate needs for the day (1). Folate is important for healthy red blood cells and toddler growth and development. Beets are also a good source of magensium, B-6 and iron, which help with muscle and blood formation. Many people dislike beets. I often hear people say "this tastes like dirt," which makes me laugh. They do have a very earthy flavor, especially when freshly harvested! I really love the earthly beet flavor and because I've been serving my kids beets since they were babies, they also love beets. Start feeding your baby and toddler beets while they are young and they will love them too! Here's a photo of my daughter with fresh picked beets in our backyard. She's a teenager now but still likes beets. Here's 3 easy ways I feed beets to my family: #1 Canned Beets Canned beets are just so much easier than cooking raw beets. They are relatively inexpensive and make a fun addition to any lunch. Just open up a can and serve them up with your mac and cheese. (image credit: You can buy pickled beets or regular beets. If your family loves pickles, I'd start with pickled beets, the added sweetness might win your family over. If you are feeling creative you can easily cut them into shapes with cookie cutters. That's too much effort for me, I just open up a can and plop them in a bowl. People gobble them up as a side dish or on top of salads. Can you find the beets on this beautiful veggie plate? They look like canned beets to me. Another fun way to eat canned beets is to blend them into a smoothie. My kids don't even know they are there in this recipe from the Oregon State Extension: #2 Shredded Raw Beets I love to serve shredded beets on top of tacos. Raw beets are also delicious shredded into a green salad. They do taste a bit more "like dirt" if you eat them raw, so I wouldn't recommend raw beets for your first tasting if you don't like earthy flavors. #3 Roasted fresh beets. This is the most delicious way to serve beets. Hands down. Roasting them brings out their natural sweeten because as you heat them up, the sugars inside caramelize. Look at this beautiful roasted beet salad from (one of the best vegetarian blogs out there). I make roasted beets a lot in the fall after I harvest my beets. I always follow this recipe from cookie and kate: Check it out! That's the last red vegetable I'm highlighting for the month of February! I hope you were able to try red grapefruit, bell peppers and beets this month! Ninfali P, Antonini E, Frati A, Scarpa ES. C-Glycosyl Flavonoids from Beta vulgaris Cicla and Betalains from Beta vulgaris rubra: Antioxidant, Anticancer and Antiinflammatory Activities-A Review. Phytother Res. 2017 Jun;31(6):871-884. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5819. Epub 2017 May 2. PMID: 28464411. de Oliveira SPA, do Nascimento HMA, Sampaio KB, de Souza EL. A review on bioactive compounds of beet (Beta vulgaris L. subsp. vulgaris) with special emphasis on their beneficial effects on gut microbiota and gastrointestinal health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2021;61(12):2022-2033. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1768510. Epub 2020 May 25. PMID: 32449379. Silva DVTD, Baião DDS, Ferreira VF, Paschoalin VMF. Betanin as a multipath oxidative stress and inflammation modulator: a beetroot pigment with protective effects on cardiovascular disease pathogenesis. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2022;62(2):539-554. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1822277. Epub 2020 Sep 30. PMID: 32997545.

  • Mastering the Art of Cutting Grapefruit and Why it Should Be a Regular Part of Your Diet

    Pink grapefruit is the princess of winter fruits. It's sweet & pink, which makes it a perfect treat for the month of love. Like all citrus fruits, grapefruit is high in vitamin C. 1/2 cup of grapefruit = 42mg vitamin C (1). Toddlers age 1-3 need 15 mg per day (2). 1/2 cup grapefruit = 500% of what a toddler needs! Vitamin C is important for: healthy skin a robust immune system chronic disease prevention Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants get rid of bad chemicals (oxidants) that float around in your blood and cells (3). Vitamin C and other nutrients like furanocoumarins and lycopene in grapefruit are also thought to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes (4). Simply put: Grapefruit is good for you, eat it while it is in season!!! What's more important to me is that Grapefruit tastes good and looks pretty! My second grader loooooves grapefruit. He eats one in his lunch almost every day from December through March, and often has one for an after school snack too. I section grapefruit with a knife for him because the membrane between the juicy pulp is very tough and fibrous. It's very difficult to chew and can be a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. To solve that problem, I've become adept at sectioning grapefruit with a knife. I highly recommend practicing this skill if you love grapefruit and want your kids to love it too. Check out this video to see how: I don't have any recipes for grapefruit, usually we eat them up plain (usually before they can even be gathered up into a bowl). Enjoy this beautiful delicious fruit before they get expensive and dry. Grapefruit taste best and cost less when purchased between December and April. I'll be back next week with tips for eating one of my favorite red foods: beets! References: USDA Nutrient Database. FoodData Search. Grapefruit, raw, pink and red, florida. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Vitamins Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2000. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Hung WL, Suh JH, Wang Y. Chemistry and health effects of furanocoumarins in grapefruit. J Food Drug Anal. 2017 Jan;25(1):71-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jfda.2016.11.008. Epub 2016 Dec 6. PMID: 28911545; PMCID: PMC9333421.

  • Celebrate Valentines with Red and Pink Foods!

    I have never been out to dinner on Valentines day. We don't exchange romantic gifts or get "lovey-dovey" on February 14th. But we do still celebrate! We make food in the shape of hearts (toast, pancakes, pizza). We make heart shaped crafts. We talk about what we love about eachother. and We eat a lot of red, pink and purple foods throughout the month: Bell Peppers, Grapefruit, Beets, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Grapes, Cabbage and Radishes! On the blog this month, I'm going to highlight my favorite red and pink foods. Starting with BELL PEPPERS. I couldn't live without bell peppers. They are one of my top 10 favorite foods. Not only are they sweet and crunchy, but they are also super nutritious. One bell pepper has about 150mg vitamin C, which is 160% of your daily need for vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for you immune system, getting enough vitamin C can keep you healthy! Bell peppers are also loaded with antioxidants that help prevent chronic disease like cancer. Eating a diet full of vegetables like bell peppers can keep your body healthy! I'll often slice up a bell pepper and eat it raw. Bell peppers are sweet and crunchy, like apples, and make a perfect snack. Hummus, ranch or cream cheese dips go well with bell peppers. This video shows the fastest way to cut a bell pepper (and a fun way to cut them into hearts for valentines day). We usually eat bell peppers chopped up into salads. Bell peppers make a good substitution for raw tomatoes if you have tomato-haters at your house (my husband hates raw tomatoes). So when a recipe calls for tomatoes, I'll use bell peppers instead to make my family happy. Here are my favorite salad recipes that feature bell peppers: RICE AND BEAN SALAD BURRITO BOWLS GREEK SALAD PASTA SALAD Bell peppers also add a sweet flavor to a few of my favorite soups: CHILI CURRY If you happen to have a bell pepper that needs to be used, it's easy to add them into tacos, on top of pizza or in scrambled eggs. BAKED EGGS: Those are a few of my favorite bell pepper recipes. Do you have a favorite way to eat bell peppers? Send me an email and let me know!

  • Budget Friendly Cooking Class

    Feeding America reports that Americans waste 444 billion dollars of food every year ( The most important thing you can do to cut your grocery bill is prevent food waste!!! Here's one surefire way to prevent food waste: take a weekly inventory of what's in your fridge/pantry and plan meals using what you already have. I discussed this in my meal planning blog post a few weeks ago. But there's an even easier way to prevent food waste: Freeze old food BEFORE it goes bad. There are two foods that go bad very quickly: #1 bananas and #2 leafy greens Luckily, these foods also freeze extremely well. They also make the yummiest smoothie you've ever tasted when blended together with peanut butter and milk. On February 27 from 5:30-6:00 pm, I will be teaching a live zoom cooking class about green smoothies and how to use your freezer to prevent food waste. If you want to learn with me live on zoom, click this link to sign up (class is free): You can purchase ingredients and cook along with me, or you can just login & listen. Either way, you will learn tips and tricks for saving money while eating well. Can't join me for class? Here's a link to one of the recipes we will be making: Have great week! Wondering what I've planned to eat this week? Here's my menu (it's typed up this week because I'm going to be away from home all week, and I needed everything to be very organized for the babysitter):

  • How to make the most of your freezer to eat well and save money.

    The fridge was empty again. I spent 200$ at the grocery store just days earlier. Where did all the food go? Did we get robbed by hungry bandits in the night? Did someone have a party I didn't know about? Or did our growing kids just eat us out of house and home again? There were still things to eat in the pantry: noodles, canned beans, and that really good chocolate I keep hidden on the top shelf. But I was out of fresh produce to make a good meal with. Luckily I still had good healthy food in my freezer: fruits, vegetables, and meats! I strategically use my freezer as a “storage bin” for the foods we frequently eat. I buy in bulk when prices are good, and freeze the extra before it goes bad. My freezer helps me spend less money on healthy food. Do you want to spend less on healthy food too? Here's a list of money-saving freezer friendly foods: #1 Discounted Produce:  Smiths has a discount bin with fruits/vegetables for $1.00 in red mesh bags (see lemons + peppers in photo below). The produce is sometimes old or bruised. It's fine to use right away, but if you can't use it right away, freeze it! Below is a list of my favorite clearance items to freeze for later (and a link for the recipes I use them in) Lemons + limes: how: Freeze whole and then microwave for 30 seconds when ready to use, cost savings: 10/1$ on discount, normal price: $.75 each recipe: Peanut noodles, many recipes I find online often call for fresh lemon juice! Smoothies Homemade buttermilk Homemade salad dressings Peppers: how: Chop then freeze in a ziploc bag. Use in recipes that call for cooked peppers. cost savings: usually 3/1$ on discount, normal price: 1$ each recipes: Curry Chili Egg muffin cups Bananas: how: Peel and keep in a ziploc bag for about 1 month cost savings: Discounted ripe bananas are usually 1/2 the cost of regular bananas. Plus, you want ripe bananas for these recipes anyway! recipes: Easy oatmeal cookies Green smoothie (I make this everyday with frozen bananas and frozen spinach) Spinach muffins Quick oatmeal peanut butter cookies search bananas on this website for more ideas Spinach: how: Place an entire bag or container in your freezer for about 3 months. If you have spinach going bad in your fridge, put it in the freezer for smoothies! I always have a bag of spinach in my freezer. cost savings: Entire bags are sometimes on clearance for $1.00, normally a bag is $3.00. I often find the big bins for $2.50, they are about $6 regular price! recipes: green smoothie curry crustless quiche (use spinach instead of broccoli) green muffins spinach lasagna Squash and pumpkins: how: Roast squash in the shell, then scoop out the flesh and put in ziploc bags. Freeze extra canned pumpkin if a recipe doesn’t use the entire can. cost savings: pumpkins are often deeply discounted after Halloween. If you are willing to cook and freeze them, you can get a lot of pumpkin for about $1.00. recipes: Pumpkin lentil curry No flour pumpkin muffins Pumpkin cake Pumpkin black bean soup Chocolate bran muffins Berries how: Buy bags of frozen berries instead of fresh, defrost in the microwave cost savings: 6oz fresh berries = 2.99 (.50cent/oz), 48oz frozen berries = 10.99 (.22 cent/oz). Fresh berries are DOUBLE the cost of frozen berries. recipes: Pancake topping instead of syrup In oatmeal (I eat a bowl of oatmeal with frozen berries almost every morning) Inside crepes On top of yogurt Defrost and serve on the side of dinner or lunch Mangoes how: Buy frozen bags of mangoes instead of fresh, defrost in microwave cost savings: fresh = 1$/.5 cup, frozen = 1$/1 cup Prices vary, but usually frozen is more economical, and you don't have to bother with cutting them or worry about them going bad before you can eat them! recipes: smoothies (mango lassi) defrost and serve on the side of meals (I do this at least once per week) Broccoli + Cauliflower + Brussel Sprouts how: Buy frozen bags of broccoli and cauliflower, or if discounted, buy fresh and freeze in ziploc bags. cost savings: fresh = 1.99/lb, frozen = 1.66/lb + you don't have to bother with chopping, and packages stay good in your freezer for about 3 months recipes: One Pot Cauliflower Mac + Cheese Broccoli Cheese Soup Peanut Noodles Buddha Bowls Baked Eggs Broccoli Pesto Pasta Microwave and serve on the side of any meal! Fresh Ginger how: Buy fresh ginger and stick it in the freezer. It doesn't even need a bag on it. cost savings: No savings, other than having it on hand so you don't have to run to the store when making the recipes below recipes: Peanut Noodles Curry Buddha Bowls #2 Meat Dairy and Bread Discounted meat:  I don't eat a lot of meat. However, I know most people do! Meats are good past the expiration date if you put them in the freezer before they expire. I will buy discounted sausage and bacon that is about to expire and put it in my freezer for later (see bacon in photo above). It's still good if I use it within 1-2 months. I do make sure it hasn't already spoiled before I buy it! Bulk meat:  I like to keep bacon on hand to give flavor to recipes. It is much less expensive per ounce to buy bacon in bulk. The same is often true of chicken. I rarely buy meat but if I do, I buy it in bulk. Butter:  A few months ago my local smiths was discounting butter for $1.50 a pound. It's usually $4.00 per pound!! I bought 20 pounds for the freezer. The checker thought I was crazy. But I know that butter stays good in the freezer for a year or two and saved myself at least $50 in butter costs! Milk: Gallons of milk will often get marked down at my local Smiths. I will buy a few extra gallons and freeze them. Previously frozen milk does have a different texture, so I only use pre-frozen milk for cooking (pancakes, waffles, oatmeal). Other dairy products, like cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt and cottage cheese do not freeze well in my experience. Cheese: Cheese prices change a lot! One week 2 pounds will be $5, the next week it will be $8. When the prices are low, I buy several bags and freeze it for later. I find that shredded cheese freezes nicely, bricks of cheese do not freeze as well. #3 Bread fancy bread: Stores often discount baguettes and "fancy" sourdough loaves for less than 1$. They stay good in the freezer for about a month. I toast frozen bread before eating it. naan bread: I often serve stone fire naan bread with curry and hummus. If it's on clearance, I'll buy it and stick it in the freezer for future meals. bread loaves: When sandwich bread is priced well, I will buy a few loaves and freeze them. Then I always have bread for pbj's. I hope a few of these ideas will help you save money and eat healthier too! Remember that the key to saving money is to avoid throwing food away, so make sure you rotate through your freezer stash frequently. I always check what needs to be used in my freezer BEFORE I make my shopping list and go to the grocery store. Speaking of shopping lists, here's mine for the week (we cleaned out our parents freezer and are using up all the old meat we found - hence the corn beef and pork - I rarely cook meat).

  • Grocery shopping tips to help you save money and eat healthier

    Here's how to save money on groceries at the store: Make a grocery list Only buy things on your list Grocery stores are set up to make you want to buy things you don't need. They only make a little bit of money on each item sold, so stores try to trick you into buying more than you need so they can make a profit. Here's some tips to protect yourself from getting tricked at the grocery store: Tip #1: Make a meal plan and shop with a list If you go into the grocery store without a plan, you'll end up wandering around the isles picking up things that look good. Stores try to make the most expensive items look really good. Avoid getting tricked into buying the most expensive foods by going in with a plan. Making a menu and shopping for that menu also helps you make healthier choices!! If you have a plan for eating healthy, you are less likely to stock up on frozen pizza and chicken nuggets. Tip #2: Always compare unit costs. I always buy the items at the store that cost the least amount of money per ounce. Usually that means buying the store brand. Let's start by looking at cereal. The small number next to the bolded price is the unit cost, or cost per ounce. Great Value brand costs 13.9 cents per ounce, which is half the cost of regular cheerios which are 26.2 cents per ounce!!: If you look at canned beans at Smith's: S&W Brand: $1.00 Simple Truth Organic: $1.25 Goya: $1.99 Kroger Brand: $0.89 Every can has 15oz of beans, so Kroger brand beans are the least expensive, but it can be hard to find the best price when foods some in different sized packaging. For example: Look at the cheddar cheese choices from The little number next to the price shows you the cost per oz. The least expensive option per ounce is the 2 pound bag of Great Value shredded cheese (23.4 cents per ounce). The bag of Tillamook cheese costs less for the entire bag, but is actually double the price of the Walmart cheese at 49.8 cents per ounce! I always buy food that is the least cost per ounce. It might only save you a few cents per item, but over the long run, those cents make a big difference. For example, if you buy 2 pounds of the expensive cheese every week for 1 year (52 weeks), you'll spend $828 on cheese. If you bought 2 pounds of Great Vaule cheese every week for a year, you would only spend $389. Buying the cheese with the lowest cost per ounce could save you $439 per year just in cheese! Always buy the items that cost least per ounce. 3. Only buy in bulk if you eat in bulk. Sometimes stores have deals where you buy a certain amount to get a better price. They want you to buy in bulk so that they make more money. For example, if you buy 5 boxes of crackers, you can get them for $1.00 less per box. If you eat a lot of crackers this is a great idea! If you don't eat a lot of crackers, you won't end up saving any money because the crackers will go bad before you eat them. Also, you might end up eating more than you want if you buy too many. This especially applies to foods like chips and cookies. Avoid buying those foods in bulk! If it's an item like cheese, you can freeze the extra for future use. If it's a large box of oranges, there's a good chance you won't be able to eat them before they go moldy, and oranges do not freeze well. Only buy items in bulk if you have a plan to use them or freeze before they go bad. If you don't think you'll use it before it goes bad, you'll just end up throwing food away. Throwing food away = throwing money away. Don't get tricked into buying more than you want or need. Only buy in bulk if you eat in bulk. (and prevent yourself from eating junk food in bulk by never buying it in bulk!) Those are my top 3 tips for saving money at the grocery store: shop with a list, buy the least expensive item per unit cost and only buy in bulk if you know you will eat it before it goes bad. Next week I'll talk more about how to make the most of grocery store deals by using your freezer. See you next week! Until then, here is my meal plan for the week: Saturday: Veggie Noodle Soup for lunch, pomegranate + grapefruit Sunday: spaghetti with kale and meat sauce + green salad + roasted brussel sprouts + oranges Monday: South West Pasta Salad + frozen mangoes Tuesday: Antipasto Salad + Lasagna (using leftover meat sauce from sunday) + oranges Wednesday: Hashbrowns w/peppers + onions, Eggs, frozen berries Thursday: Lentil Soup + whole wheat bread + apple slices

  • The most important meal planning advice

    The most important meal planning advice is to Start where you are and use what you have. Take foods you already like, and write them out in a menu. When I provided weight loss counseling, people often wanted me to just give them a menu to follow. I would never give someone a menu to follow. Why? No one would actually follow it. To write a menu you would actually want to follow, I would have to know what you like, how much time you have to cook, how well you know how to cook, where you shop, what cultural limits you have and how much money you have to spend. You know all those things about yourself, so the best person to write out your menu is YOU. Ask yourself the following questions if you want to plan a menu that you will actually follow: #1. How much time do I realistically have/want to cook? Some people hate cooking and want to spend as little time as possible doing it. Some people love cooking and spend too much time doing it. The key to having a successful meal plan is to look at how much time you will honestly spend cooking. The time you have to cook will dictate what you can cook. Also think about cleanup time. If you only have 30 minutes, lasagna is not going to work, but there are sooo many easy healthy meals that can happen in 30 minutes. (see my recipe page) Every time I menu plan, I sit down and write what will be happening the next week so I know how much time I have to spend cooking each day. Here's what that looks like for me the next week: I have zero time to cook between 4:45 and 6:30 every day, so I either do something fast (like quesadillas), make ahead (like soup), or we eat early in the day (like 4pm). You might be working full time. You might have to pickup kids from daycare at 5, sit in traffic until 6, and then muster some real superhuman powers to make dinner while taking care of little kids. If this is you, fast easy meals that come together without much fuss are going to be required! Just do what you can with what you have and make a realistic eating plan based on your time restraints. #2 What do I already have that needs to be eaten? Always plan your menu around foods you already have lurking in the fridge and pantry. This will save you so. much. money. Before I plan my menu, I go through my fridge and figure out what needs to be used and write it on my menu plan somewhere (circled in the photo). I just do this on a piece of paper because I'm a paper and pencil person, but you could totally do this on your phone or with an app. #3 What do I feel like eating this week? Do you love mexican? Italian? Salads? The cook should cook what they feel like eating. I love greek food. I had leftover parsley in the fridge. So I put tabbouleh on the menu. I love soups in winter, I had leftover bacon, so we're having soup that calls for bacon. Will my kids complain? Maybe. That doesn't matter. I'm the adult, I'm the one who knows about nutrition, I'm the one who does the shopping, I'm the one who does the cooking (mostly) and I also need to eat, so I choose the menu. Kids can learn to eat what we eat (as long as they can safely chew and swallow it). You don't need to put chicken nuggets and mac+cheese on the menu just because you have kids. But if YOU like those foods, then go ahead! #3 What can I add to make my meals healthier? Every meal needs the following 4 things: Fruit Vegetable Whole Grain Protein After I've planned my menu, I go back and make sure each meal has all 4 parts. This usually means adding in a fruit and and a whole grain bread (see items circled below). I'm pretty savvy on what's in season. If you aren't sure what's in season, just look in the ads for whatever fruit is a good price/on sale and buy that. More on how to save money on produce in the next blog post. #4 What else do we need for breakfast/lunches etc? Once I've written down everything I need to make my planned dinners, I'll add on things I need to buy for lunches/breakfast. That's it! My menu is planned! Time to head for the store! How long does this whole process take? About 15 minutes. Sometimes 30 if I'm using a bunch of new recipes. Seems like a lot of time upfront, but it will save so much time later in the week when you don't have to go to the store a million times or dither about what you are making for dinner! The next step is to go to the store. I've got some tips on that in the next post. See you next week, happy menu planning!

  • The #1 most effective way to save money and eat healthy

    Happy New Year! If you are like half of all Americans, you probably made a 2024 New Years Resolution to 1) spend less money and 2) get healthy by exercising more and eating better In my 16 years as a dietitian, I've learned that the #1 most effective goal you can make to save money and eat better is to: Meal plan Kinda boring huh? If you..... Plan 5-7 days worth of meals (using some tips from a dietitian) Only buy the foods you need to make those meals Cook the meals you planned (don't go out to eat) You will eat healthy and save money. But if you...... Plan meals buy ice cream and soda in addition to what you need at the store go out to eat instead of cooking what's on your meal plan You won't save money or eat well The trick is to have self control at the following 2 points in time: #1 at the store (when you don't waste money on food you don't need) and #2 at home (when you actually cook what you planned to cook, and prepare lunches/snacks to take to work so you aren't tempted to eat out) Easier said than done right? The key to successful meal planning is to have a Registered Dietitian help you. If you are interested in meal planning ask your Family Advocate to schedule a free visit with the DDI Vantage Registered Dietitian. You can also Subscribe to this blog (hover on the word "blog" at the top of the page) to get an email every time I post a blog about meal planning. I plan to post about meal planning every Tuesday for the next 4 weeks in January 2024. Happy New Year! PS Here's my meal plan for the week. Saturday: taco soup for lunch, early new years party snacks for dinner Sunday: Big green salad with apples, pecans, sweet potatoes and homemade croutons Monday: cheese fondue with apple, mushroom, broccoli and whole wheat bread dippers Tuesday: elk stew + homemade whole wheat cornbread + orange slices Wednesday: spaghetti squash topped with ground elk goulash + orange slices Thursday: broccoli + walnut stir fry over brown rice + pineapple Friday: meal plan grocery shop I'll go through it piece by piece over the next 4 weeks to show you everything I think about when planning a menu so that I'll actually cook what's on it.

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