Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Travels to Daytona Beach, FL

I have a lot of traveling to do with my job & in the beginning of November, I was able to take a journey to Daytona Beach, FL for the Certificate of Training in Childhood & Adolescent Weight Management which was probably the best conference I have ever attended.  The content was incredible, fun, and energizing.  I am sure my interns and I all walked out of there ready to battle the obesity epidemic.  And of course, since I had never been to Florida before, I wanted to take in the scenery as well to unwind from such intense training.  The training was held at The Shores Resort & Spa which I give a hearty 4.5 out of 5 stars.  The only reason why they did not get the entire 5 stars is because they have minimal privacy on the balconies.  I could see at least 9 different balconies from my balcony, which is not very romantic.  Even though I was by myself.  I would still consider taking my family here for vacation since the rooms are large, clean, and gorgeous.  The beach was wonderful and not too busy.  The on-site dining was fantastic, especially for the price.  Ask for the fish tacos and for a nightcap, ask the bartender for the hot chocolate with kahlua.  The hotel features smores kits and fire pits, which allowed for some peer bonding time.  It was lovely!

Here I am (on the right, on my knee) with my lovely LRU dietetic interns!
Some of the places we ate were the Ocean Deck Restaurant and Beach Club and Inlet Harbor Restaurant & Marina

The Ocean Deck is exactly what I wanted for a beach town.  It was well decorated, great food, and open seating.  Also, a great beer selection.  The Inlet Harbor Restaurant was fun.  I felt as though I was walking into a Jimmy Buffett tailgate when we entered the restaurant.  The waitstaff was wonderful and not too bad on the eyes...  I had their bacon-wrapped shrimp, tried alligator (yum!), and all in all thought the atmosphere, food, staff, and drinks were something to recommend!  My only complaint is that the lobby of the portion of the restaurant we ate in smelled like a dirty bathroom.  Toxic, dirty bathroom.  I'm sure they've taken care of that by now. 
Inlet Harbor Restaurant's Complimentary Hush Puppies
Passing through Daytona Beach and seeing the Daytona 500 is pretty cool.  Some of my interns drove to Disney (which apparently is only 1.5 hours away) after the conference for some international cuisine.  The airport was clean and easy to use.  And really, you can't help but love scenes like this after a long day of conferencing...
Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Java Planet Organic Coffee Review & Giveaway

For all of my fellow coffee drinkers...you know how good it is to have amazing coffee on hand during the holidays.  Whether it is that cup of coffee on Thanksgiving after your afternoon nap or during your dessert time...that cup of coffee to get you on your way while you head to see family during the break...or that beloved cup of coffee you have while you enjoy Christmas morning.  I had the opportunity to enjoy a few of those cups of coffee this Thanksgiving break with Java Planet Organic Coffee and folks, this coffee is definitely in my top favorite coffee's of all time.  I tried a few of their coffee types and have found my favorite:  the Ethiopian Harrar Organic coffee:  a medium roast, heavy body, rich aroma, graced with undertones of blue and blackberries.  This flavor is perfection.  I also made the Guatemalan Organic, which I have always been partial to Guatemalan coffee, and it has also exceeded my expectations on body, aroma, and flavor as well.

Java Planet is Tampa Bay's only organic coffee company, thanks to Mike & Jennifer Simmons!  Read their story here and learn about how much they love coffee & how their aspiration for quality and knowledge has reflected on their perfect products.

Java Planet has been gracious enough to provide a pound of both the Black & Tan Organic and Dominican Republic Organic coffee to one lucky winner of the Java Planet giveaway.  In addition to the giveaway, can also get 10% off of your Java Planet order with the coupon code:  Honest10 through December 31, 2011.  This coffee would be an amazing gift for anyone you might know who knows a great cup of coffee and really cares about Fair Trade, Organic products.  Support this business!  Check out their incredible coffee here and don't forget to enter the giveaway!  Thank you SO MUCH Java Planet for allowing me to review your amazing coffee & for providing your coffee for a giveaway to my readers at no-cost!  All opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bare Fruit Cinnamon Apple Chips

Every once in a while I have to travel from my forever home in North Carolina to my home state of Michigan, where most of my family & my husband's family still resides.  It is always difficult finding quick go-to snacks that I am comfortable with feeding my kids while we make the 14 hour drive up North.  Or shall I say...it was difficult until I was introduced to Bare Fruit Cinnamon Apple Chips!

These 100% Organic and Kosher apple chips are fat free and gluten free, with no added sugar, preservatives, or additives.  The BEST thing about the apple chips is that they taste incredible!  They are crunchy, filling, and delicious.  They also come in Granny Smith Apple Chips & Fuji Apple Chips.  You can throw them in salads, oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, pancakes, and so much more!  You can find these tasty chips in your area here.  I can sometimes find myself on long drives or flights, tempted to eat mindlessly.  These apple chips satisfied my hunger, preventing overeating, and were quite popular to every one that I had give them a try.  I highly recommend giving these chips a try yourself.  You will soon make them a go-to snack like I have!

Thank you SO MUCH Bare Fruit for letting me review your wonderful apple chips at no-cost for my review!  All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snacks for people with Food Allergies!

I absolutely needed to review Barry's Bakery  french twists because I have a niece who has an egg allergy. My sister-in-law has done an awesome job making baked goods for my niece without eggs, but it sure is nice to have delicious puff-pastries that are readily available with no eggs, no cholesterol, no butter, no yeast, or no dairy.  These french twists come in a variety of flavors, all of which are great:  original, chocolate, wild raspberry, maple french toast, and California almond.  My niece tried the wild raspberry and maple french toast and loved them!

Barry's Bakery is a tasty snack choice & low in calories.  They would be perfect for parties or as a gift for someone who has an egg allergy.  I found them to accompany an afternoon cup of coffee perfectly!  They are also Weight Watcher point approved for one point with one large french twist (60) calories, which is just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth!  Thanks to Barry's Bakery for allowing my niece and my family the opportunity to taste your french twists at no-cost for the review.  All opinions are 100% my own and we are big fans!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Organic Valley Product Review & Giveaway

I am a huge fan of Organic Valley products, mostly because I have made the choice to always pick organic dairy products (always organic milk!) and Organic Valley has reasonably priced products with exceptional taste & quality.  Organic Valley is a co-op that is owned and governed by family farmers.  They really do have happy cows who reside on organic pastures.  Organic Valley offers many products including organic milk, butter, eggs, cheese, juice, soy, and more!  I have tried several of their products, but here are a few of my favorites:  their fat-free organic milk, half & half (it is the best!!), cottage cheese (see my post on Spinach Lasagna using cottage cheese), and their low-fat chocolate & vanilla milks for the lunchbox!

Organic Valley's website has so many incredible resources why choosing organic products is so important to your health as well as some excellent recipes!  I honestly believe that there is a difference in taste between non-organic milk and organic milk.  You might argue with me, but in my opinion, the taste of organic milk is quite superior to the latter.  However, not all organic milks are created equal.  There are a couple of brands that my kids will not drink, but they LOVE Organic Valley.  And I have always had a soft-spot for chocolate milk and theirs is hands-down the BEST chocolate milk I have tasted thus far.  They even have an eggnog available for the holiday season!

Thank you Organic Valley for providing such wonderful products & for allowing me to share the love by giving my readers a chance to review your products through a giveaway!  This post is 100% my own opinions and the Organic Valley products were provided to me at my request at no-cost.

Spinach Lasagna featuring Organic Valley Cottage Cheese

Finally...a spinach lasagna that makes the kids ask for leftovers!  I substituted traditional ricotta cheese in the recipe for Organic Valley's cottage cheese because it provides a rich texture & creamy flavor and is a great substitute for ricotta cheese.  Not that I dislike ricotta cheese, but it is one of those items on my grocery list that I always seem to forget.  And since we always have cottage cheese in the house, this worked out perfect:


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar Pasta Sauce (I prefer the kinds without big chunks for this recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups Organic Valley lowfat cottage cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • In a medium pot over medium heat cook and stir spinach.  When the spinach has been thawed and cooked, drain excess water from spinach and place back into the pot adding the onion, oregano, basil and garlic in the olive oil.  In a large bowl mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and egg.  Cook lasagna noodles according to their package.
  • Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan. Place 4 cooked noodles on top of sauce and top with a layer of spinach mixture, followed by a layer of cheese mixture. Add 4 more noodles and layer with pasta sauce, spinach mixture, and cheese mixture and repeat until all is layered, finishing with sauce.  If desired, sprinkle some additional cheese on the top.
  • Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven for 55 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.  *helpful hint*  When spreading the mixtures on the lasagna, a rubber spatula seems to work the best. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Honey Wafer Baking Company

Have you ever tried the honey wafers from the Honey Wafer Baking Company?  If not, then you are truly missing out on one delicious treat.  These treats are two very thin wafers that are sandwiched with a honey filling.  They are only 90 calories (and a pretty perfect serving for that 90 calories!) and are 100% natural, Kosher certified, and made in the United States of America since 1925.  The original wafers were also named "The Official Honey Wafer of the Chicago Cubs" in 2001, which in Chicago...says a whole lot about the taste and quality.  They are sooooo good!  I know they are an instant household favorite when my kids ask for them specifically for snack time.  They also come in a chocolate wafer, which is tasty too.  Right now, you can get free holiday shipping & I would suggest them as an excellent addition to any holiday party or event you are hosting or attending.  Besides being flavorful all by themselves, the wafers can also be used in recipes.  We liked them as an addition to a small bowl of ice cream, but they can also be used in a variety of other recipes: taffy apple wafers, Polish wafer cake, and caramel apple pizzas to name a few.  You can find Honey Wafer Baking Company on Facebook for updates and additional information.  Thank you Honey Wafer Baking Company for allowing me to try your tasty treats at no-cost.  All opinions are 100% my own & 100% positive!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Go Green Lunch Box Review & Giveaway

I have never been excited to show off a lunch box before I received my "Prepster" lunch box from Go Green Lunch Box !  It is the Burberry of lunchboxes!  These lunchboxes come with a 5-compartment container that, after several shakes, does not leak.  This container allows for adequate portion control, which is essential for optimal nutrition.  It also contains a stainless steel water bottle & the lunch box is BPA-free.

 There are so many amazing options available for patterns!  I had so many compliments on the "Prepster" pattern.  It is a true fit for a lady who enjoys fashion.

The lunchboxes come with a Stainless Steel water bottle, but as you can see, other options can fit in the lunchbox as well!

The lunchboxes also come with a white dry-erase board, so you can leave messages for your kids, other loved ones, or for yourself.

This lunchbox is Eco-friendly & is a true money saver.  Making a lunch is a lot less expensive than eating out and it also enables you to ensure the choices are good for you & your loved ones.  Thank you so much to Go Green Lunch Box for allowing me to review your trendy & environmentally friendly lunchbox at no cost.  All opinions are 100% my own & thankfully, YOU have a chance to win one of these for yourself!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Maggie's Functional Organics Clothing

Feel Great on the Inside and Outside!!

Maggie's Functional Organics makes incredible apparel that is durable & affordable with environmentally sustainable materials.  I loved the items that they sent me for review so much that I had to share them with my wonderful friends!  

"After only one wear, I am a huge fan of Maggie's functional organic clothing -- specifically this black 3 quarter length tee! The shirt is soft, stretchy and form fitting. As a teacher I am always looking for clothes that can be both professional and casual and I think that this shirt fits both functions beautifully. Wearing it through an 8 hour day I noticed that it never seemed to lose its form while still staying comfortable, airy and light. I wish all shirts could be this multipurpose!"~Mollie

There are so many items that would be a perfect gift for the holidays!  One of the gift sets that I had the pleasure to review was the Scarf and Sock Gift Set which retails for $19.99.  As you can see below, my beautiful friend Annalisa is wearing the Olive Peace Extra-Long Scarf, which comes with the most comfortable tie-dye socks ever.  In fact, Maggie's socks ARE the most comfortable socks I have ever worn and they are made in the lovely state of North Carolina!

There are gift sets for youth and adults that include nightgowns and socks, as well as other fine items such as hoodies and wrap-tops to consider for either yourselves or a loved one.  Thank you so much to Maggie's Functional Organics for allowing me to review your fine apparel at no-cost.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Pirate's Booty Snacks

I am sure it is hard having a Dietitian as a Mom.  Although my kids stand up for their healthy lunches I pack for them, when other kids who eat Doritos and Oatmeal Pies every day in their lunches criticize them for having fruit and vegetables, I know that sometimes they want something a little extra special in their lunch.  So I enjoy packing them Pirate's Booty Aged White Cheddar Snacks.  In fact, Pirate's Booty has 12-pack half-ounce lunch packs that are perfect for lunches!  You can find them at Whole Foods and Target, but their popularity is spreading fast, since more and more people are seeing how tasty it is!

Here's why I like Pirate's Booty:
  • They are ALL NATURAL 
  • They are BAKED
  • Low-Calorie & Low-Fat

I find that Pirate's Booty makes a great addition to lunches, but also a great snack for the kid's sports teams.  I love introducing better snack options when I provide snacks to the kid's sports teams because the kids always love them.  In fact, this Halloween, they had the Pirate's Booty boxes to give out the snacks for treats (see above picture), but I bought a few boxes for soccer snacks...and for...my lunch.  When they say "Get Hooked!" on Pirate's Booty, they are right.  This stuff is good...really, really good.  Try it out on your kids and yourself and you will get hooked!  Thanks so much to Pirate's Booty for letting me review your products at no-cost.  All of my opinions are 100% my very own.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

David Grotto's 101 Optimal Life Foods Book

A Dietitian reviewing another Dietitian’s book…this should be interesting right? More like HiLaRiOuS!! I had the opportunity to meet David Grotto RD/LDN at a Food & Nutrition Conference in Boston a couple of years ago. Initially, I thought “any man who markets himself as ‘the Guyatitian’ has to know what he is talking about” and I was right. I soon started to follow @davidgrotto on Twitter and have laughed and learned a lot from him. I had to review his book: 101 Optimal Life Foods to see if his enthusiasm for nutrition and quirky sense of humor transpired into his written work. Oh and it does! David Grotto has written a book focusing on seven health issues:

• The Skin You’re In: Aging & Damaged Skin, Eczema, Psoriasis, & Acne
• Go With The Flow: Cold Feet (and Hands) & Leg Cramps
• House Of Pain: Migraine Headaches, Muscle Pains, & Nerve Pain
• It’s All About Performance
o Mental Performance: Cognitive Decline, Depression, Stress/Anxiety, & Insomnia
o Physical Performance: Fatigue
o Sexual/Reproductive Performance: Erectile Dysfunction, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Infertility, Female Libido, & Menopause
• Check Your Plumbing: Constipation/Diverticular Disease, Diarrhea, GERD, Halitosis (bad breath), Gas, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, & Urinary Tract Infections
• A Good Foundation: Osteoporosis/Osteopenia, Arthritis, & Degenerative Disc Disease
• Eyes On The Future: Age-Related Macular Degeneration

This is why I love this book: I have read and read and read a million “diet” books that have both angered me as a professional and make me laugh out loud at their ridiculous claims. David Grotto keeps it true to the core: nutrition is medicine and in order to heal yourself, you have to give your body the nutrition & fuel it needs for prevention and recovery. This book is insightful, providing explanations into the health issues, what you can do to heal your body using nutrition, and he provides 3-day sample menus of how to incorporate these foods into your diets. The recipes are delicious & two of my favorite recipes are the Quick Pumpkin Smoothie & Raspberry Yogurt Muffins. Everyone in my family enjoyed the smoothies & muffins, but I would suggest you take David’s advice and use a glaze of confectioners’ sugar mixed with lemon juice for a little added sweetness on the muffins!

This book would be a perfect gift for the Holidays for anyone who is looking for a guilt-free reference on how to make healthy choices in their diet. Wrap this book in some pretty ribbon along with a nice bamboo cutting board and you will be sure to please! Of course you must all know that I have my own copy of this book and was not compensated in any way for this review. This is my honest opinion as a Registered Dietitian that another Registered Dietitian has written an excellent book & please check out his website David Grotto's Nutrition Housecall because there is an awesome video of some hardcore accordion playing as well!