When the Holiday Frenzy Forces you to Order Fast Food



The holiday season can be a hectic time for us between making a presence at friends, relatives, and colleagues’ holiday parties, shopping for gifts and get-together meals, and keeping up with a healthy lifestyle. There are times when we are out and about and may feel ravenous. I like to carry healthy snacks in my purse, but during the holiday season, it’s not uncommon for that to slip my mind.

So what do I do when fast food seems to be my only option? Overall, I try to:

  • choose baked, boiled, or steamed instead of fried, sautéed & Au gratin.
  • keep my eye on portion size (there is no reason whatsoever to Supersize my meal).
  • pay attention to the descriptions on the menu.
  • be careful when it comes to condiments and dressings
  • always choose water for my drink.
  • pass on the French fries and try to pick semi-healthy sides.
  • skip the bacon (As if the burger alone isn’t unhealthy as it is, why make it worse)?

So let’s look at some sample fast-food places and I’ll provide you with a couple of recommendations.

If I’m at a BURGER PLACE, I stick to a single patty and say no to special sauces, bacon, cheese, etc. I skip the fries, and find out if there is yogurt or sliced apples or something like that that they give with kid meals and ask if I can buy something like that—they usually give them to me at no charge. And I ask for a cup of ice water.

At CHICKEN-THEMED PLACES, I find that they often offer grilled chicken, so that’s what I order. If they have sides, I make sure that they are just steamed and not slathered in fattening sauces or butter. And again, I ask for a cup of ice water.

At MEXICAN PLACES, I opt for brown rice. Swap sour cream for guacamole. I hold the cheese and always order the vegetarian options. And yes, I ask for a cup of ice water.

At ASIAN PLACES, I again choose brown rice and order any of their steamed dishes and ask for them to either hold the sauce or put it on the side. It’s way better to drizzle a tiny bit of sauce for flavor than to have your meal drowning in sauce. I ask for either ice water to drink or green tea, which is often offered.

At SUBS and DELIS, I always ask for whole grain bread and choose lean meats like turkey. I go easy on the condiments and have my sandwich loaded with veggies. And yes, I order ice water for my drink.

Though PIZZA is a guilty pleasure, I always go with the thinnest crust possible, and load my pizza with lots of veggie toppings.

If you are frazzled this holiday season and have no choice but to order some fast food, I hope these tips come in handy for you!






Cranberries for Breakfast



In my last blog, I wrote about how I learned so much from cranberries last month at the Cranberry Institute. You better believe I’ve been trying to incorporate amazing, high-in-antioxidant cranberries in a lot of my meals. I came up with this recipe for breakfast! I have oatmeal most days, especially in the winter. This has the same warming effect as oatmeal and it’s absolutely delicious!

Cranberry Orange Breakfast Millet


  • ½ cup millet
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • Drizzle of honey or maple syrup (optional)

Directions: Toast dry millet and walnuts in a pot over low heat for 3-5 minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add all other ingredients and reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes and you have a delicious breakfast! Drizzle with honey or maple syrup for some sweetness.

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Why you should be as Obsessed with Cranberries as I am



If you have been following my blog for a while now, you know I’m obsessed with cranberries! I even found delicious ways to enjoy cranberries in summer recipes. Last month, I had the most amazing opportunity to visit cranberry bogs in New Jersey….and now I am even MORE obsessed.

I’ve shared before the many benefits of cranberries. Bioactive compounds found in cranberries help maintain a healthy heart by improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress. And cranberries have been used for centuries to help prevent UTIs.

During my visit to Pine Barrens Native Fruits, hosted by The Cranberry Institute, I learned that these heart-healthy gems are one of the oldest native fruits in the United States, along with blueberries and concord grapes. In fact, because of their vitamin C content, cranberries were used to prevent scurvy in the 1600s.

Let me tell you how cranberries grow-it was so cool to see! The farm I visited was a seventh-generation farm in the pine barrens in New Jersey; this is land along the coast with sandy soil that allows cranberries to grow because unlike most plants you would use in a garden, cranberries thrive in the low-pH environment of sandy soil.

Cranberries are grown on vines in bogs by the millions. I was able to walk in these bogs, surrounded by my favorite fruit! Cranberries are perennial, surviving year after year. The farmers flood the cranberries with water during harvest, and also to protect the fruit during the harsh winter months. This makes it look like the cranberries are growing in water, but they actually grow on low-lying vines on dry land.

On some farms, the fruit is harvested with floating harvesters that literally rake up the cranberries from the water. A job that used to take 600 people to harvest is done so much more efficiently now with this technology.

Another cool fact about cranberries is that honey bees help pollinate the cranberries. This farm partners with bee farmers. The bees make honey and simultaneously help with the cranberry production!

After learning all of this about cranberries, I know I am going to be eating this fruit so much more often. It’s so healthy and grown close to home (in the U.S.!), which makes me confident that all those amazing nutrients are intact unlike many fruits that have to travel for thousands of miles to get to my local grocery store.

Do you know that 1/5 of the cranberries consumed in the United States are consumed around one day—Thanksgiving? While I love that people are consuming this healthy, disease-fighting fruit on Thanksgiving, it makes me sad that this superstar fruit isn’t consumed more often. It has so many amazing antioxidants! It’s one of the healthiest fruits you can consume!

I challenge you to find a way to incorporate cranberries in your diet every week. They truly are versatile. Try them as:

  • Cranberry salsa or jam.
  • Toss dried cranberries in your salad!
  • They go great in chilis or with other main meals (I did this with ham recently and it was so delicious!)
  • A “PB&C” – spread cranberry sauce and peanut butter for a quick, tasty sandwich

Go crazy for cranberries with me!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Delicious Plant-based Products for Fall



What a busy October I had! I had so much fun at FNCE and learned so much about all the plant-based offers Daiya has to offer.

It amazes me that Daiya is able to make nutritious foods that are rich in protein and are completely free of allergens. Do you know how difficult that is? For example, cashews would be an easy answer to make their products creamy and rich in protein and healthy fats, but they use no nuts of any kind!

How do they make dozens upon dozens of products that are delicious, healthy and meet your protein needs? One way is that they add pea protein to many products. They are able to do this in such a way that you can’t even taste the pea flavor at all!

It’s also so hard to find plant-based options that are convenient, but Daiya offers different renditions of cheese, sauces, dressings, yogurt and more. They make it so easy to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet throughout the day, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert

If I am rushing to get breakfast ready—no problem. I can prepare what Daiya prepared at FNCE, a yogurt parfait with their delicious Greek-style, coconut milk-based yogurts that come in plain, vanilla and a variety of fruit flavors , a handful of granola and plenty of berries. That will give all members of my family energy to last through lunchtime for sure, because each touts 6-9 grams of plant-based protein. They also make a delicious dairy-free cream cheeze spread that’s perfect for bagel lovers.

Now on to lunch and dinner, I’m going to let you in on a little secret—I LOVE pizza. I dream about it. Pizza is how I first learned about Daiya! I saw them at another trade show a while back and was immediately drawn to the fun and vibrant nature of their booth, similar to what I experienced last week at FNCE. But this time they were sampling warm, mouth-watering margarita pizza. As I savored this fantastic sample, whoa was I impressed.Seriously, this pizza competed with pizza I’ve had in Italy. And then I looked at Daiya’s tagline: deliciously dairy-free; I could not believe my eyes! It’s  a great lunch or dinner option for a busy night. A pizza and a quick tossed salad, and voila-quite a healthy option!

Another quick dinner option is to toss = whole wheat pasta , peas and carrots in their new Alfredo Cheeze Sauce! And when I want to add more cheezy, plant-based goodness to a salad, tacos or morning eggs my go-to is Daiya’s new Cutting Board Collection Shreds.

Finally, for the grand finale: dessert! You know that delicious dairy-free cream cheese spread that’s a must have for bagel lovers? Well it’s also perfect for bakers because it can be used as an alternative for cheesecakes or carrot cake frosting. A must try recipe for fall is this No Bake Pumpkin Cheezecake. But if you don’t have time to bake a cheesecake, Daiya has you covered there too! At FNCE I sampled their new limited edition Pumpkin Spice Cheezecake that’s as rich and creamy as any dairy cheesecake I’ve ever had.

Give Daiya a try—you’ll be so happy you did! Their products are available more than 25,000 grocery stores across the US and Canada, including Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway and Publix.

For more information about Daiya, please visit www.daiyafoods.com, become a fan on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.






Beat the Candy Attack with Your Own Healthy Trail Mix



It happens every year; your kids go trick or treating; your office mates’ kids go trick or treating and candy dishes abound everywhere! Your candy of choice calls out your name. For some its peanut butter cups, for others its Smarties or tootsie rolls. Whatever candy it is, it’s going to sabotage your nutrition goals! Fear not because I have a sweet, healthy and delicious solution for you! Make your own trail mix!

Common Components you can use in your Trail Mix:


These nutritional dynamos are loaded with healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, and other essential vitamins and minerals. These should be the base of your trail mix.

Whether they’re raw or roasted, go for unsalted, unsweetened nuts to keep sugar and sodium under control.

Some of my favorites are: almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts.


For those with nut allergies (or just looking to mix things up), seeds provide many of the same nutritional benefits as nuts. Hemp seeds, and Chia seeds for example, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, gamma linolenic acid, protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Sprinkle a handful of pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, or hemp seeds in trail mix for an extra boost of nutrients.


Add some complex carbohydrates to your custom blend for extra fiber, which boosts overall energy and helps to keep you full .

Choose whole grains whenever possible and avoid highly processed cereals that add unnecessary sugar and sodium.

Shredded wheat cereal, pretzels, whole-grain cereals like cheerios or chex, bran flakes, whole-wheat crackers, granola, toasted oats, puffed rice cereal, and air-popped popcorn can all add a little bit of crunch.

Something Sweet:

Lastly, t’s totally acceptable to have a little something sweet in your trail mix. This will help deter you from the candy bowl.

Dried fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Look for dried fruit options with as little added sugar and preservatives as possible.

Dried apples, cherries, cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, raisins, banana chips, figs, pineapple chunks, mango, and dates.

Dark chocolate chips are a good source of antioxidants.

And once in a while, don’t fret adding a little bit of M&Ms.

Some of My Favorite Combos:

Hiking Power:


Peanut Butter Lovers:


Movie Night:

  • M&MS

Try some of these combos and make some unique signature recipes. You have so many options! It’s a great way to defeat the candy bowl and also the holiday sweets that are around the corner. I suggest making little baggies of them to bring to work, carry in your purse, etc. It is possible to overindulge so be careful not to do that. Depending on the ingredients< I recommend ½ cup to ¾ cup serving.






Plant-based Finds at FNCE



As a Registered Dietitian, there are times when I get REALLY excited about food. It’s so fun to learn about foods that are healthy and delicious. And when I learn, my favorite thing to do is to educate! One of my latest favorite food lines is Daiya Foods—their products are deliciously dairy and allergen free!

This is why I will be available to chat all things plant-basedat the Daiya Foods booth (#955) at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Chicago Oct. 21-24. Daiya makes deliciously dairy-free foods and plant-based alternatives that are free of dairy, gluten and soy. And all of their products are free of the common allergens I mentioned above. So for those of you who are vegan, vegetarian, annoyed with food allergies, or are simply looking to eat more plant-based foods, I highly recommend Daiya.

While I am not a vegetarian or vegan, I am a big-time promoter of a plant-based diet. Hundreds of peer-reviewed, published studies have proven the incredible benefits of eating a plant-based diet from boosting your immune system to reducing your risk of heart disease and even preventing cancer.

Plant-based food is my go-to for energy and for protection from diseases. For example, when you eat more plant-based food, you are more likely to have a healthy blood-pressure and a healthier cholesterol level (your LDL and triglycerides will lower an your healthy HDL cholesterol will rise making your overall cholesterol ratio way better)! And a healthy blood pressure and remarkable cholesterol level reduces my risk of heart-disease, which is the number-one cause of death for women in the United States.

Also, did you know that plant-based food is so good for your gut? Meat-based protein takes forever to digest, but plant-based protein digests easier with the help of the fiber it contains! Also, too much meat can actually disrupt the healthy gut flora in your digestive system, which could lead to big problems down the road, including an increased risk of colon cancer. Dairy-free is actually great for your gut too because many people are sensitive to the lactose contained in dairy products.

I must also say that my skin glows from my plant-based diet. This has been true for many of my clients who have started their journey on more of a plant-based diet.  Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins such as A, C, E, and K. They also contain tons of antioxidants and phytochemicals that have been shown to be beneficial for skin health. And trust me, it shows!

If you’re attending the conference this weekend, two awesome offerings at this booth that you will NOT want to miss are their Yogurt Parfait Bar on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 from 9-10 a.m. and their Happy Hour from 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23. Daiya’s Yogurt Parfait Bar includes their smooth amazing coconut-based Greek Yogurt with fruit and granola and their Happy Hour includes champagne served with their Smoked Gouda and Jalapeno-Havarti blocks…AND  a heavenly  pumpkin spice cheesecake made with their dairy-free cream cheese.  Dairy Free never tasted so delicious!

So give Daiya a try—you’ll be so happy you did! If you aren’t attending FNCE this weekend you can still find their products are available more than 25,000 grocery stores across the US and Canada, including Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway and Publix.

For more information about Daiya, please visit www.daiyafoods.com, become a fan on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.


Almondmilk rocks beyond the glass


I love almondmilk—it has a nutty sweetness that satisfies my palate and makes me happy because it is low in calories and high in calcium. It is one of my favorite nutritious, guilt-free indulgences!almondbreeze

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze is my go-to almondmilk brand—I use it in everything but have found that most people don’t know how many uses it has! To showcase the versatility of almondmilk, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze developed the Homegrown Goodness Tour, a multi-city tour which visits food events around the country and recreates famous local dishes using almondmilk. More than a dozen recipes were specifically created to encourage consumers to cook with almondmilk in unexpectedly delicious ways – from Key Lime Pie to Tomato Polenta Bites to Chicken Sliders – each having a unique Almond Breeze take on iconic dishes inspired by their respective hometowns.

This weekend Almond Breeze attended New York City’s Wine & Food Festival and demoed two New York inspired recipes, giving consumers a tasty balance of savory and sweet with Tomato Arancini and New York Cheesecake – both made with an Almond Breeze almondmilk twist.

Those who visited Almond Breeze’s beautiful almond orchard kitchen at the New York City Wine and Food Festival experienced a hands-on cooking demo with a phenomenal west coast food expert, Patty Mastracco, who shared the many ways you can easily integrate almondmilk into your everyday cooking.

For example, at breakfast, you can go far beyond smoothies and use Blue Diamond Almond Breeze to make fluffy, delicious waffles or chia seed pudding. For lunch, you can use almondmilk to thicken any dressing or sauce and for dinner, you can add Almond Breeze to your chili or tomato bisque soup for a hearty masterpiece to impress your family and guests!

For more information about the versatility of Almond Breeze, visit www.bluediamond.com.