Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fun Saturday Night Snack

One of the best Christmas gifts we received this year was a Bella brand air-popped popcorn maker.  It is so easy to use and the kids think it is hilarious watching the popcorn fly out of the machine.  You can melt the butter or margarine on top while the popcorn is cooking.  I am so happy with the money we are saving too!  I bought a bag of white kernels for $1.39 at the store and can easily make 15 "bags" worth of popcorn with that.  Popcorn is a great snack, with only an average of 31 calories per cup of air-popped popcorn!  Thanks Russ & Cindy for the wonderful Christmas gift!  The family has enjoyed it so much and I would suggest this as a gift for anyone looking to get something fun or thoughtful for others!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Homemade Oven Sweet Potato Fries

I have been looking at 3 sweet potatoes in my kitchen for a few days.  Originally, I had planned to bake them whole, but then was inspired to try out some homemade sweet potato fries!  It was super easy to do and the entire family loved them.  Sweet Potatoes are high in Beta-Carotene, which can be converted to Vitamin A in your body & has shown to be protective against cancers, along with reducing the rate of heart disease.  Here is what I did:
  • I took my 3 sweet potatoes and cut them into strips.  I found that the more traditional "french fry" shape baked the best in the oven.  The thicker cut strips were borderline soggy.
  • I brushed the sweet potatoes with about 3 TBSP of an olive oil/canola oil blend.
  • I then added 1 TBSP of garlic salt, 2 TBSP of oregano, & shook it all up in this container:
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place your sweet potato fries evenly on a non-stick pan.
  • Cook for 15 minutes and flip them over.  Then, cook for 15 more minutes.
  • Take them out of the oven and enjoy them!  My 3 medium sweet potatoes could feed 4-6 people with no problem.  YUM!!!!

Badger Mountain Vineyards: No Sulfites Added Series Review

Did you know that potentially 1 out of 10 people have a sulfite allergy?  My great friend Michelle and I both suffer from migraines and know that sulfites can be triggers for migraines.  Aside from being a migraine sufferer, my pal Michelle also is very picky about what adult beverages she in...only drinks tequila or my secret family recipe for "Mollie B.'s Homemade Bailey's".  But, she tried the Badger Mountain Vineyard NSA (No Sulfite Added) Organic wine and was quite happy.  We shared some of the Chardonnay, which by the way, is the most delicious Chardonnay I have ever had.  And for only $10.00 a bottle, this is quite a steal too!  The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon were also delicious.  These wines are USDA Organic & although a natural amount of sulfites do exist in wine, these wines have no added sulfites which can really ease the mind of someone who is sensitive to sulfites.  The Badger Mountain Vineyard is based out of Washington State and they put a lot of passion into their wine, which is reflected in its quality and taste.  Please consider these wines when making your next purchase for a dinner party, romantic night in, or for a gift!  You will not be disappointed.  Thank you so much to Badger Mountain Vineyards for letting me try your wonderful wine! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Easy Banana Bites for Kids

My wonderful interns have been working on Healthy Kids Snacks this year.  I had the opportunity to see two of my interns make Banana Bites and was impressed by how simple the treat was to make, but also how perfect the snack is for teaching kids how to use utensils.  I admit that I don't let my kids use knives as much as I should, but making the Banana Bites gives them the opportunity to use a plastic knife and also gives me the opportunity to become a little more comfortable with it as well.  It is SO important to let your children become comfortable with making food by themselves and using utensils.  This is the perfect treat for them.

  • One half of a Banana
  • One graham cracker in a Ziplock bag
  • One plastic knife
Have the kids start by mashing the graham cracker in the Ziplock bag until the graham cracker is fine crumbs (they think that is really fun).  Then, have them use the plastic knife to cut the banana in to small slices.  Take the banana slices and drop them in the plastic bag & lightly shake the crumbs over the bananas.  Take them out of the bag and you have delicious Banana Bites!

A great way to make a fun snack, teaching skills, and making sure your kids are getting their fruit in!

Stash Tea Review & Giveaway

I am always on the lookout for a beverage that rocks my world.  I had the opportunity to try STASH Tea and was amazed at how bold and vibrant each of the flavors were!  The Chai tea was hands down the best Chai tea that I have ever tried.  The Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning are both incredible.  The Christmas Eve blend is caffeine-free with a mint & sweet spice flavor.  It is the perfect tea for a cool evening.  The Christmas Morning blend is a very rich and tasty black tea.  Don't let the names fool you, these teas are perfect for this time of year when the weather is chilly and we are winding down from the holidays.  STASH tea really has high quality teas.  I am a personal fan of their Orange Spice Black Tea which can really make your home smell incredible too.  Other things I like about STASH is that their products are readily available.  I can find them at most of the stores I shop at.  They are also extremely reasonably priced.  For a great quality tea, you do not overpay.  In fact, I would say that you underpay!  Their website is super fun, you can find teas by their flavor, region, type, or even by what kind of mood you're in.  If you are a tea drinker, give STASH a try!  If you are thinking of becoming a tea drinker, STASH is a great brand.  Thank you so much STASH for providing our readers a chance to win the Christmas Eve & Christmas Morning blends of tea!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

WOWBUTTER- A peanut butter replacement product

3 million Americans report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, or both.  We have all seen the horrible stories of children with peanut allergies having allergic reactions and losing their lives due to accidents involving exposure to peanuts.  People with severe peanut allergies can exhibit symptoms such as inflammation, itching, hives, swelling, and in some cases, anaphylaxis in which the air passages are blocked and the circulatory system can collapse leading to death if not treated immediately.  Some school systems have made peanut-free zones in their cafeterias, or have eliminated peanut products completely from their schools.  WOWBUTTER is a peanut free, gluten free, tree nut free, and dairy free product that is a peanut butter replacement product.  One of my co-workers son's (who is 3 years old) loves this product so much that he asks for a spoonful of it at night as a snack.  I do not have a peanut allergy and love traditional peanut butter, so it was difficult for me to have an unbiased opinion, but I thought it was just okay.  However, if  I had a peanut allergy or if my kid's schools were peanut-free zones, I do think this would be a decent alternative if placed on some bread with some jelly or banana slices.  It certainly maintained the smooth, creamy texture of regular peanut butter.  And from all of the sampling of the product, the kids who tried the WOWBUTTER were happy with it, but the adults were stuck in their ways of regular peanut butter.  The really cool thing is that on the website, you can request a free sample for your daycare, school, or camp.  There is also a lot of resources for speaking to school boards about peanut allergies and allergy facts in general.  Thank you WOWBUTTER for letting my review panel and I sample your products!  I am glad you are such a great advocate for people with peanut allergies!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Minestrone de la HonestRD

This is a delicious, low-calorie soup to make in your Crock Pot!  It makes 8-10 servings and is super tasty with a little garnish of shredded Romano cheese!  One cup of Minestrone de la HonestRD (without cheese) is 118 calories, 5.5 grams of protein, 18 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of fat.  The perfect side dish to warm you up and accompany a nice salad or sandwich!
  • 1 cup of diced red potatoes
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 32 ounces of beef broth
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes, undrained (14 1/2 ounces each)
  • 1 cup of chopped cabbage
  • 1 cup of sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup of fresh green beans
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed & drained (15 ounces)
1.  Combine all of the ingredients, except for the cannellini beans, in the Crock Pot & mix well.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours.
2.  Add the cannellini beans.  Cover & cook on LOW for 1 additional hour.
3.  Remove and discard the Bay Leaf.  Serve the soup with the shredded Romano cheese, if desired.

Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth without the calories? Try Arctic Zero products!

I really thought that these products were going to be too good to be true until I tasted them.  Arctic Zero is a brand that makes low-calorie sweet treats, including pints of delicious frozen goodness that are only 150 calories for the whole pint in flavors such as chocolate, cookies & cream, coffee, mint chocolate cookie, chocolate peanut butter, vanilla maple, and other seasonal flavors (such as pumpkin spice) that are sure to please.  Also, they have 85 calorie bars in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and orange cream.  Here's some additional information that makes these even more enticing:
  • Gluten Free
  • Fat Free
  • 14 grams of whey protein per pint
  • 8 grams of fiber per pint
  • Non-GMO
  • Natural or Organic Ingredients
  • No Sugar Alcohols
  • Bars & Pints are suitable for the lactose intolerant

So you are probably wondering what it is sweetened with?  Well, Arctic Zero uses monk fruit and organic cane sugar as the sweetener.  Now, when you take a bite of these desserts, do not expect it to taste like Ben & Jerry ice cream.  It tastes more like a frozen protein shake, but it does curb the desire for a sweet treat.  My kids LOVED the frozen bars, except the chocolate coating did break off quite easily, making a bit of a mess for us.  I personally fell in love with the coffee flavored pint.  I also enjoyed the cookies & cream and chocolate peanut butter flavors.  The best thing about it all was that I had absolutely no guilt eating it.  If you do have a sweet tooth and are looking to try an alternative to satisfy your cravings, give Arctic Zero a shot. Here is the link to their website:  Arctic Zero and I would encourage you to follow them on Facebook and Twitter as well!

What flavor would you like to try?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Healthy Airport Eating

I have to travel quite a bit for my job and it is always a very anxious experience finding food that is healthy in the airports.  The last thing I want to do is resolve to eat fast food and get an upset stomach or feel sluggish when I am on business trips.  I really paid attention to what was being offered in the airports I visited (Detroit, Boston, Tallahassee, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Atlanta, etc.) and was pleasantly surprised with what I found.  Charlotte International Airport by FAR had the best options available.  The picture above features a Goat Cheese Salad with Roasted Peppers and Pistachios with a delicious balsamic vinaigrette, as well as healthier options for chips and beverages.  It was delicious.  When you are traveling to the airport, here are some ideas to make your food choices healthier:
  • Pack some snacks if you have room:  It is okay to bring items such as trail mix or granola bars through security.
  • Several of the fast food companies are offering oatmeal as a breakfast option.  This is an excellent choice, full of fiber to keep you satisfied longer.
  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches over fried.
  • Look for fruit and yogurt parfaits, and I saw hummus and vegetable to-go items in almost every airport I was in.
  • When ordering a salad, make sure to have the dressing on the side.  Sometimes getting the dressing on a salad can provide more calories than a Big Mac!
  • Look for deli sandwiches that have whole wheat/whole grain bread options (such as Subway!)
  • If you can, get a Kids Meal for a more appropriate portion.
And most of all STAY HYDRATED!  Flying can dry you out and sometimes when people are thirsty, then can mistake thirst for hunger and eat too much food.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MojoMilk Probiotic Chocolate Milk Review

Kids are gross.  I love my own kids, but they are also pretty gross sometimes.  A lot of the "gross" comes from things that all kids should be doing:  sharing toys, playing outside, learning/exploring insects, etc.  But with the sharing and playing can come some sickness as well.  That is why I am always interested in learning more about products for children that contain probiotics.  When I came across MojoMilk, I had to have my kids try it.  Especially because it is a chocolate milk mix.  MojoMilk contains more than 10 times the amount of probiotics than most yogurts.  It also has 60% less calories than the leading chocolate milk mixes.  But most of all, it supports a healthy immune system and promotes a healthy digestive system.  If you go to, you can register for a free sample.  Four out of Six of the kids that tried MojoMilk really liked it and would have it again.  That's good for me!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Edward & Sons: Convenience Without Compromise featuring Rambutan

Edward & Sons are products that provide superior top quality organic foods to the world.  Their selection of packaged natural foods is impressive and exciting.  I was lucky enough to receive a sampling of some of the products they carry, including these crackers:  Onion & Garlic Rice Snax which did not last more than an hour in my office area.  Edward & Sons is a vegetarian company so their products are free of meat or fish.  They have a huge selection of gluten-free items, soy-free, and lactose-free products.  For someone who really enjoys food and tasting new foods, sampling the products that Edward & Sons sent me was like Christmas morning to me.  They also have an amazing selection of fruits and vegetables, including one I have never tried before:  Rambutan.

This tree fruit is native to Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippians, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia.  It is a tropical fruit that I can best describe as having the texture of a big grape and the taste of a pear.  It was pretty tasty!  I have been able to find several Edward & Sons products around town, but you can check for their products in your area using this Store Finder.  Thank you Edward & Sons for letting me sample your healthy and delicious products, as well as educating me on the Rambutan fruit!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Healing Juice with Genesis Today

I love a good juice.  I hardly ever buy juice though because very few have impressed me to the point to where I would keep it in my home.  Genesis Today sent me their Acai Berry & Pomegranate and Berries with Reservatrol juices to try and PRAISE BE!  These juices rocked my house's socks off.  Every one in my family loved these juices.  They taste the best, but also offer so many health benefits.  The Acai Berry juice is loaded with antioxidants and even has 1000% Daily Value of B12, which is great for us who don't eat a lot of meat.  Acai is called the "Beauty Berry" because of it's load of antioxidants and this juice is a perfect way to get those antioxidants.  The Pomegranate & Berries with Reservatrol juice was my very favorite.  And as I have mentioned before, Reservatrol is a very powerful anti-inflammatory and keeps your heart healthy by supporting your cardiovascular system.  This is one happy juice that loves your heart, so why not drink it?  Genesis Today has other products to encourage a healthy lifestyle.  I would HIGHLY recommend these juices when you are in the mood for a delicious glass of health.  Find out where you get get these products here.  Thank you so much to Genesis Today for letting me sample your delicious juices.  I will certainly be purchasing these for my family since they were such a big hit!  Yum!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A little GINGER Knowledge...not just for gingerbread!

Ginger is an herb that is used as a spice, as well as a medicine.  Ginger has been used for centuries to provide relief from various stomach issues, including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.  Described as having a flavor that is “fiery and pungent”, at one time in history, the spice Ginger was so popular in Europe that it was as common as salt and pepper on the dinner table with meals.  In the nineteenth century, English pubs would have people sprinkle ginger on the tops of their beers, which founded ginger ale (remember this fact people, it might give you a win in Trivia sometime!).  Fresh ginger is also essential to Asian and oriental cooking and is used as a flavoring agent in food and beverages in all areas of the world.  Try adding some ginger to your foods! My favorite is adding a little bit of ginger & honey to some carrots for a tasty dish!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Peter Rabbit Organics Review by Actual Children & Giveaway!

Working in a childhood & adolescent weight management center, I am always on the lookout for healthy snacks to recommend to families that actually taste good.  AND being someone who fancies a Starbucks every once in a while, I was curious about the Peter Rabbit Organic Products that I would see whenever I would go inside the coffee shop.  I was hesitant about trying these because after working as a clinical dietitian for so long, I was worried that anything "blended" would be...well...icky.  So, I decided the best way to test these treats was to give them to actual children.  I tested them on kids ages 4, 6, 6, and 10.  They tried the following flavors:

  • Strawberry and Banana
  • Apple and Grape
  • Mango, Banana and Orange
  • Sweet Potato, Corn and Apple
  • Carrot, Squash and Apple
  • Pea, Spinach and Apple

It turns out that all four kids thought that the flavors were awesome!  Except for one flavor (the sweet potato, corn, and apple):

The most raved about flavor was the Pea, Spinach, and Apple!  I was told to go and buy more of those pronto!  There are so many benefits to these snacks besides their kid-approved taste:
  • These products are ORGANIC
  • They are BPA-free & easy to transport, use, and cap for later use!  These snacks are a perfect addition to a day out, a long car ride, or school & sports team snacks.
  • There are 100% fruit and vegetable, with no added sugar or preservatives
  • They are high in Vitamin C, between 70-85 calories each (a perfect snack), 0 grams of fat, and between 1.5-2 grams of fiber!
  • You can find them all over the place:  Starbucks, Whole Foods, to name a few!!
And thanks so much to Peter Rabbit Organics, YOU have a chance to try them too by entering the giveaway! The grand prize winner will receive a 12-pack of these Peter Rabbit Organic treats in the six flavors mentioned above.  GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

True North Organic Skincare Products: Feel Good Products of 2012

I have enjoyed every minute of the True North Organic Skin Care Products!  The products feel good, but their scents are absolutely intoxicating.  I had the opportunity to review their shower gel in the Coconut Lime scent and each time I lather-up and get out of the shower, I feel so refreshed because I know I am walking around smelling good.  I found the shower gel to be one of my favorite skin care products so far, but it is followed by the close second of the Lil' Sprout Organic Body Butter.  Now, I know this is meant for kids, but with the cold and dry weather we have had lately, it's been a lifesaver to my legs- providing ultimate moisturizing and a gorgeous scent.  When I originally contacted True North Organics, I was also interested in their lotion stick, which they sent to me in the Raspberry Vanilla scent.  This is the perfect item to keep handy in your purse when you need some moisture!  I have found it to be a wonderful "after workout" product because it has an easy application, leaving my skin happy and leaving me (once again) smelling awesome. 

True North Organics are wonderful because not only are they USDA Organic approved, but a portion of their proceeds give back to support animal rescue groups.  They also have an organic pet care line.  Give them a "Like" on Facebook and try out some of their products!  It is so important to feel good not only about what you put in your body, but also what you put ON your body!  Thank you so much True North Organics for letting me review your products!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Health Benefits of Flaxseed

Here is a crunchy, tasty chicken breast with roasted flax seeds

Flaxseed is a very powerful plant food.  There is a lot of evidence out there that suggests that flaxseed can help reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.  Here are some reasons why flaxseeds are so great:
  • A great source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  Omega-3 Fatty Acids play a very important role in protecting against inflammation in the body (such as asthma, arthritis, etc.).  Our bodies need to maintain a good balance of Omega-6 Fatty Acids (found in foods such as corn and soy oils) to Omega-3 Fatty Acids (found in foods such as fish, flax, and walnuts), however most diets are rich in Omega-6 Fatty Acids and do not have enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids.  Adding foods that are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, such as flaxseed, are great ways to ensure your body is fighting inflammation appropriately.
  • Full of Fiber:  Flaxseeds have both insoluble and soluble fiber, which of course helps aid in regularity by keeping your gut happy.  Fiber also helps control blood sugar & can help to lower cholesterol.
  • Lignans:   Flaxseeds contain phytochemicals with antioxidants and plant estrogen qualities.  Research suggests that the plant estrogen may have health benefits such as the reduction of some peri-menopausal symptoms and increased fertility.
There are a lot of ways to get flaxseed, between ground or in an oil, but ground flaxseed is typically known as the way to go.  There is no set dosing for flaxseed, however experts say that in order to get the most of your flaxseed intake, to use 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax per day.  There are several ways to get your flaxseed in!  Companies such as Carrington Farms make products that are tasty and easy.  You can put ground flaxseeds, such as their Flax Packs into oatmeals, muffins, yogurt, smoothies, or other foods.  These Flax Packs do not need refrigeration and can be transported easily.  You can also use my personal favorite Roasted Flax in recipes, such as the one shown above, where I used the roasted flax seeds, Parmesan cheese, and Italian bread crumbs to make a crispy coat for some boneless chicken breasts.  These were a huge hit with the family!    Make sure to check the packaging to see how it should be stored.  Some flaxseed must be kept in a cool, dark place. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Heart Healthy Benefits of Wine with Paraducci

My lovely RD friend Lauren with the Sustainable she said "The best red I have ever tasted!"

 Happy New Year!  Many of you have started the New Year with lots of beautiful resolutions.  One of the best resolutions you can make if you are a fan of great wine, is to make your wine choice sustainable!  Paraducci Wine Cellars has some sustainable wine that is absolutely delicious!  I had the opportunity to taste the 2009 Paraducci Sustainable Red & White wines this holiday season and fell in love instantly.  The online retail price is $10.99 per bottle, which is a wonderful price for these wines.  They are perfect for gifts and to have on hand for hosting any gathering.  Paraducci is a "Family Farmed", locally owned and operated winery in California's Mendocino County.  This is their sustainable checklist for their wines:

  • Locally Owned & Operated
  • Grapes from Local Family Farms
  • 1st U.S. Carbon Neutral Winery
  • Sustainable Farming Practices
  • Earth-Friendly Packaging
  • 100% Green Power
  • Water Conservation & Recycling
I fully support drinking wine in moderation because there are so many health benefits associated with wine, particularly red wine.  The antioxidants in red wine may help prevent heart disease.  There is an antioxidant in red wine that is called the polyphenol reservatrol.  Reservatrol has been a hot topic in nutrition regarding it's potential to prevent damage to blood vessels and reducing the "bad" cholesterol in your system.  Other potential benefits include increasing your longevity, lowering your risk of stroke, reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and reducing your risk of colon cancer.  But remember, this is in moderation, which equals one 5 ounce glass of wine for women and two 5 ounce glasses for men.  Of course, if you do not drink, check with your physician before starting a wine regimen!  And if you are a wine drinker, make your wine sustainable and CHEERS to a new year!  Thanks to Paraducci for letting me sample your incredible wines!  They were a HUGE hit at my holiday party (the only two completely empty bottles of wine at the end of the evening)!  Follow Paraducci on Twitter and Facebook.