Back to School Blog #1: Packing Healthy School Lunches even for Picky Eaters

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Do you believe school starts in just over a few weeks?  I’ve had so much fun with my girls this summer and I’m always a little sad to send them back to school come September. But each year it gets a little easier seeing them grow and turn into little ladies!

One thing I’ve been sure to teach both my girls growing up is the importance of nutrition. I always think that I’m so lucky my girls eat everything. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. But I think that this is because they’ve grown up eating this way. From the time they could eat solid foods, I started feeding them veggies, fruits, dairy, meats, and whole grains.

I’ve heard so many parents complain to me about their kids being picky eaters. So if you’ve got a little one coming, my best advice is to start them young! Start making sure that they’re exposed to all the food groups as soon as possible.

But for those of you with the picky eaters, don’t worry there’s still hope! Usually the complaint is that their kids won’t eat fruits and vegetables. Here are some steps to conquer this with your kids’ lunches.

Let’s start with slowly incorporating veggies into their lunch. A great way to do this is to add in more veggies to their sandwiches or wraps. Swap out mayo in a sandwich for hummus. .Hummus is made from chickpeas which is packed with plant-based protein. It’s an easy and delicious switch that your kids will barely notice. Other veggies to include in sandwiches can be spinach, lettuce, cucumbers (they provide a great crunch!), and peppers. Once your kids start getting used to this, I recommend adding in some fresh kid-friendly vegetables like carrots and celery with a dip of some kind as a snack.

Fruit tends to be a little bit easier. They’re naturally sweet so if your kid has a sweet tooth, this is a great way to curb that craving! If they don’t like to eat fruit by itself try pairing it with other food groups. If they love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, swap out the jelly for crushed fresh berries! Another recommendation I make here is to swap out  traditional white bread for a whole grain bread. This is loaded with nutrients and will help your kids stay fuller longer. Some fresh berries with yogurt and granola is also a great way for you kids to get in a fruit serving. My girls love this combo. Bonus: if you use Greek Yogurt, this gets your kiddos more than double the protein of traditional yogurt.

When it comes to packing kids lunches, you may be tempted to pick up some pre-packaged meals. But buyer beware–these tend to have a lot of added sugars and lack the nutrients your kids need. I always recommend making your own lunches for your kids. Doing this ensures you know what your kid is really eating. Just remember- always go back to the main food groups: fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy, and meat! Happy Back to School!

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Celebrate National Watermelon Day with Watermelon Pizza Cake

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Today is National Watermelon Day! I wrote earlier this summer about the many benefits of watermelon. Click here to read that blog. Made of almost 92% water, the fruit is full of Vitamins A, C, and antioxidants. In honor of this August 3 holiday, Kelly’s Choice intern Celina Rescott came up with this recipe. We’re calling it pizza cake because some of us liked eating it the way you would eat a slice of pizza and some of us used a fork, the way you would eat a piece of cake. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

WATERMELON PIZZA CAKE

SERVING SIZE: 1 slice
SERVINGS PER RECIPE: 6-8

INGREDIENTS

1                              Watermelon

1/2 cup                   Low Fat Greek Yogurt

1 tsp                       Vanilla

1 tbsp.                    Honey or Maple Syrup

¼ cup                     Strawberries sliced in half

¼ cup                     Blueberries

2 tbsp                     Granola of choice*

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut a slice of watermelon right out of the middle about 2-3 inches thick
  2. In a medium bowl combine Low-Fat Greek Yogurt, Vanilla, and Honey or Maple Syrup. Mix until well combined.
  3. Using a spatula, spread yogurt mixture on top of watermelon
  4. Arrange strawberries, blueberries, and granola over top the yogurt.
  5. Cut into 6-8 slices to serve cold!

 

*Choose a low sugar granola with minimal ingredients for the healthiest option!

 

 

 

 

 

Get your heart healthy with a smoothie bowl for breakfast

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February is Heart Health Month and I’m going to tell you about how eating a smoothie bowl for breakfast can help reduce your risk of heart disease! Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women in the United States, so give this smoothie bowl a try!

Now, you may be wondering, what is a smoothie bowl? Aren’t smoothies supposed to be drunk from a glass? Smoothie bowls are simply smoothies you can eat with a spoon with lots of delicious toppings!

This smoothie was made with mixed berries, a frozen banana, plain Greek yogurt, and unsweetened cashew milk. It was topped with oranges, hemp seeds, and pomegranate!

Berries, oranges, and pomegranate are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they are naturally low in calories and high in fiber and water! Fiber helps lower your cholesterol.

Bananas are a great source of potassium. Potassium can help manage high blood pressure by reducing the effects of excess sodium. When you eat more potassium, you lose more sodium in urine. Other foods rich in potassium are avocados, beans, potatoes, and more!

Greek yogurt and cashew milk are both fantastic sources of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that helps with muscle contraction!

And last but not least, hemp seeds are an excellent source of those healthy fats, omega-3 and rare omega-6 GLA. They are also packed with protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and riboflavin! It’s really important to limit saturated and trans fats as they can damage your arteries and lead to heart disease. Load up your diet with omega-3 rich foods like hemp seeds instead!

There are so many variations of smoothie bowls you can make, so I’m going to give you a base recipe and you can create your own!

Step 1: Choose your fruit. Frozen fruit works best in smoothies because it makes it nice and cold!

Step 2: Choose your yogurt. Any kind is fine, but if you want extra protein try Greek yogurt. Try to stay away from yogurts with a lot of added sugars to cut back on calories.

Step 3: Choose your milk. Any kind of milk is fine too! I always go for nut milk because it is a lot lower in calories. If you are trying nut milk, make sure it’s the unsweetened variety to decrease added sugars.

Step 4: Pick some optional add-ins: spinach, nuts, seeds, protein powders. Add-ins like spinach are very tasteless and give you an extra serving of vegetables!

Step 5: Pour into a bowl and load up with healthy toppings like sliced fruit, coconut flakes, granola, and extra dark chocolate!

Go to Kellyschoice.org to see this recipe and more that were created by Rosemary Squires.

 

Representing Daiya at FNCE

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I can’t even begin to explain how exciting and energizing the past few days have been! I have been happily busy at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Chicago. Every year, this is an opportunity for me to learn about everything cutting-edge when it comes to food and nutrition. And it’s my chance to connect with other awesome dietitians from all over the country! Basically, this is THE PLACE TO BE if you are a professional in the field of nutrition!

Saturday, I took a course on how genetics impacts nutritional recommendations revolved around mental health. Fascinating! The portion I really loved was about integrative and nutritional strategies for anxiety. This can be helpful to so many people I work with.

The most exhilarating part about my time at FNCE this year was working with Daiya. As a reminder, Daiya is the leading maker of delicious plant-based foods that are free of three of the top food allergens: dairy, gluten and soy . Click here to read why I am in love their products.

Being at the Daiya booth was so fun! Their unique booth was magnetic and word got around about how delicious the food samples were too!  The booth was nonstop busy as people dropped by to learn more. Everyone I spoke with was enthusiastic and so delighted to learn about the Daiya food line. Many were surprised by the variety of products that Daiya offers.

I was able to tell so many of my colleagues why I love Daiya so much and I was able to introduce them to new products, including the new Cutting Board Collection Shreds, IMG_3188that melt and stretch just like dairy-based cheese.

Gina said, “I absolutely love the flavor of the vanilla yogurt and the amazing protein content!”

 

Speaking of Daiya yogurt, I was able to attend Daiya’s Yogurt Parfait Bar this morning that featured their new Plain and Vanilla Greek Yogurts. They also offered a hopping mid-afternoon Happy Hour. While there I was able to help serve their new plant-based pumpkin cheesecake and Dairy-free Smoked Gouda and Jalapeno-Havarti blocks that my dietitian friends enjoyed with champagne.

Daiya will be hosting both of these events again tomorrow, the Yogurt Parfait  Bar from IMG_31879-10 a.m. and the Happy Hour from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. so be sure to stop by booth # 955 to say hi! Overall, my experience with Daiya made me fall in love with their products even more! And I’m so excited to have introduced these products to dozens of dietitians, who will be able to recommend a plant-based, dairy-free and allergen-free line of products to their clients whether they have specific diet preferences, are dealing with food allergies, or are simply interested in living a more plant-based lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

Simple Solutions for your Morning Workout Recovery

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I know, I know. Your workouts are crammed into your already hectic life. You have finally mastered the art of getting to bed early so that you can rise with the sun and squeeze in your daily workout. But once you finish, you don’t have time to prepare an elaborate breakfast; you have to shower, shave, dress, and look your best for the day ahead!

But listen to me, after a workout, your muscles are damaged and depleted. In order to build the strength that you are seeking, you need to feed those depleted muscles with glycogen. The best way to do this is to consume a breakfast that has a 2:1 carb to protein ratio. An ideal amount of protein is 10-18 grams. This will shuttle plenty of glycogen to your muscles and energize you for the day!

I hear ya! You don’t have time to calculate these numbers AND eat on top of it. That’s what you have me for! Here are my top-3, quick and easy breakfasts for workout recovery (and they’re a great way to start your day even if you don’t work out in the morning)

#1: Almond butter on whole grain toast with two types of fruit

A banana is one of my top choices and then for the second type of fruit, I usually choose something seasonal. In summer, berries are my favorite. Make sure your bread’s first ingredient is whole ground wheat or sprouted wheat; if it simply says wheat flour, it is not truly whole grain! And spread on that almond butter generously—think two tablespoons…that’s some yummy fiber, protein, and healthy fats for you!

#2: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup granola and a handful of fruit        

Nothing beats Greek yogurt with granola and blueberries! Watch out for sugar in both the yogurt and granola. I usually buy plain Greek yogurt to minimize the sugar and there are plenty of granola varieties with less than 10 grams of sugar. Muesli is a good option instead of granola as well.

#3: A Succulent smoothie

Mix 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup of frozen berries and a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder.

If you’re like me, you may not like messing with a blender in the morning, so make your smoothie the night before and store it in a mason jar of smoothie shaker cup and you can even have it on the go the next morning.

What’s the best part about these three recovery breakfast options? You can use mix and match the fruits to come up with entirely different choices every day

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Five Healthy Swaps for Summer

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Where I live, in the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York State, Memorial Day marks summer more so than the earth’s tilt toward the sun. With the summer season starting up this weekend, I have been thinking about my favorite summer swaps. Here we go!

Swap Fruit Juice and Seltzer for Soda. Did you know that 16 ounces of soda has more than 10 teaspoons of sugar? And diet soda isn’t the answer either; researchers have discovered that diet sodas though calorie-free can make you gain weight. I tell my clients to satisfy soda cravings by mixing a mere three ounces of fruit juice with 12 ounces of seltzer water.

Swap Grilled Portobello Mushrooms for Hamburgers. Red meat is okay to consume on occasion, but consuming it regularly can lead to high cholesterol, weight gain, and in the long-term, heart disease. A recent study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University found that replacing high-density foods like red meat with low density foods like mushrooms could fight obesity. Grilled Portobello mushrooms have a delicious meaty taste. If I can get my meat-loving clients to devour a Portobello burger, they must be scrumptious!

Swap Ice Cream for Banana Soft Serve. Summer for many means ice cream, especially on hot, humid days. Try to change it up sometimes with a healthier option: Banana Soft Serve. Chop and freeze several bananas. Whenever you get an ice cream craving, throw a handful of chopped frozen bananas in the food processor and blend them with some almond milk of coconut milk. Pineapple added in is a delicious treat as well!

Reduce the Mayo for Greek yogurt. Whether it’s potato salad or macaroni salad, most people I know make these popular summer salads with globs of mayo. Swap ¾ of the mayo with Greek yogurt—you will cut the calories yet boost the nutrition and keep the satisfying taste!

Go Mini with your Desserts. You don’t have to totally deny desserts! If you want to make cupcakes, make the mini ones and create a pact with yourself to only have one.  Cut your brownies very small and make the same pact. Really savor the sweetness!

I wish you all an awesome Memorial Day weekend! Let me know if these swaps helped you!

 

 

 

 

What to Do with the Leftover Easter Eggs

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eggsAfter tomorrow’s Easter egg hunt, what do you do with those leftover eggs? I am definitely a proponent of hard-boiled eggs as a delicious, protein-rich snack for my girls, but they can only have so many hard-boiled eggs before they get bored with them. Here are some more exciting dishes I create with those left-over eggs:

Cobb Salad:

Who doesn’t love a Cobb salad for a quick and easy week-night dinner? I use romaine lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, shredded carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, grilled chicken breast, and a tiny bit of crumbled blue cheese in my Cobb salads.

Breakfast for Dinner:

Chop those eggs and add them to small chopped roasted potatoes with onions and green and red bell peppers. Add a bit of hot sauce for adults or ketchup for kids. This is a favorite in my household!

Done-up Avocado Egg Salad:

You can go ahead and make egg salad, but try my healthy rendition. Mash two hard-boiled eggs with one avocado, and add 2 tablespoons of  Greek yogurt and a dash of lime juice and a small squeeze of mustard. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Pickled Eggs

I turned my girls onto pickled eggs, which were a favorite of mine as a little girl. Drop the peeled eggs whole into a sterilized glass jar, cover with leftover pickle juice and seal to make pickled eggs; chill and enjoy for up to two weeks.

A Healthier Macaroni Salad

Add two chopped up hard boiled eggs, a can of tunafish, 2 chopped celery stalks, and four cups of cooked whole wheat elbows (or try quinoa or corn elbows). Add a couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt and sea salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter!! I hope you find these ideas helpful. And many of you may be thinking how long do Easter eggs last? Refrigerated, hard-boiled eggs are good for one week whether or not they are peeled or not.