Website Review:


The Dole Nutrition Institute’s (DNI) mission is to “cultivate the seeds of knowledge and provide the public with definitive, easily accessible, scientifically-validated information on nutrition and health.”  They are accomplishing that through their website.  The DNI website is full of information about fruits and vegetables.  After reading the articles on the benefits of specific fruits and vegetables, browsing the recipes, and watching the videos, your mouth will be watering for some fruit and you’ll be craving vegetables.  We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables.  This website proves why and helps us to accomplish the goal.

They have a free newsletter you can receive via e-mail.  It is one of my favorites.  And, they feature the “Dole Spa” that teaches us fruits and vegetables aren’t just for the inside, they are for the outside too.

Bottom-line: If you’re looking for some produce inspiration, check out their website.


Please share: What’s your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Top 10 Tips for Raising Healthy Eaters

Raising a healthy eater can be a tricky process.  It’s a balancing act of many aspects:  providing nutritious foods, encouraging new foods, allowing independence, teaching regulation of “junk” foods, allowing for a child’s individual food preferences, allowing for a child’s natural growth pattern and daily appetite changes, peer pressure, and teaching a child how to cook and prepare food.  Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  I’d like to break down the complication into manageable steps.

  1. First and most importantly, remember that your child was born with the natural ability to monitor her intake. Just like a newborn baby knows when she is hungry and when she is satisfied, your child knows how to do the same.  However, if food is used as comfort, reward, or punishment, then it interferes with the child’s natural ability to regulate intake.  So, by encouraging her to clean her plate or eat “just one more bite”, you may be encouraging her to eat more than she needs.  Trust that she knows when she has had enough.  This leads into tip 2.
  1. Establish regular eating times throughout the day and stick to them. For example, offer breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner.  If your child is not hungry at lunch, then let him know that he doesn’t have to eat, but he will not be allowed to eat until snack time.  Letting a child feel hunger is good.  It’s good for him to feel hunger, satiety, and occasional fullness.  But, it’s not a good idea to let him graze all day.    Predictability is very important, especially for young children.
  1. Keep a variety of foods stocked in your kitchen and limit the junk foods. Some ideas are whole wheat/grain bread, crackers, pasta, rice, muffins, cereal, oatmeal, and tortillas; skim or 1% milk, lower-sugar yogurt, and cheese; canned tuna, peanut butter, leftover meats (chicken, pork, beef), low-fat deli meats, and beans (if she won’t eat beans from the can, try pureeing them with some spices and serve with crackers or vegetables as a dip); fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables and fruit; and 100% fruit juice and water.  Although it’s best to save the junk foods for special occasions, I do believe it’s important to keep a small selection at home to teach the child how to regulate her intake.
  1. Avoid trans fats, added sugars, processed foods, fast foods, and fried foods. You already know that these foods should be limited in your diet, so the same goes for your children.
  1. Don’t give up when your child doesn’t like new foods. It may take up to 20 exposures of a new food before the child tries it!  Pair an unfamiliar food with a familiar food when you are serving it and try not to pressure the child to eat it.
  1. To ensure variety in your child’s diet, offer 2 different foods groups at each snack and 3 different food groups at each meal. Don’t worry if some days your child eats no fruit and all dairy and grains because the next day he might want only fruit and meat.  The average intake over a week is the most important number to monitor.
  1. Allow your child to help choose, prepare, and clean up the meals as much as possible. Not only is it quality family time, research shows children who are involved in meal preparation tend to be healthier eaters.
  1. For a personalized recommendation for your child, visit, where you can enter the age, height, weight, and sex of the child and receive an estimation of how much of each food group she should aim for on a daily basis.
  1. If you have any specific concerns about your child’s diet, please contact your pediatrician or dietitian.
  1. Remember all children are different and these “tips” are just that; they are not hard and fast rules. Most importantly, offer a variety of foods at predictable times and allow your child to decide how much to eat.  Raising a healthy eater takes a lot of patience and practice!  If you would like more information on child nutrition, please check out Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming by Ellyn Satter, Just Two More Bites! by Linda Piette, and Baby Bites by Bridget Swinney.  These are invaluable references.


Please share: What’s your biggest challenge with raising a healthy eater?


Think About Your Drink

If you’re like most Americans, you don’t think much about your beverage choices and how they may positively or negatively affect your health.  That might be a big mistake!  Two research articles from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association emphasize why “think about your drink” is good advice to follow.

The first article describes a study where the participants fasted overnight and then either drank a liquid meal replacement or ate a solid meal replacement bar.  Both the drink and the bar had equal calories, protein, and fat.  Two hours later everyone was served a bowl of oatmeal.  The researchers weighed the oatmeal before and after to measure the amount consumed.  Their appetites were also measured at various intervals.  The results showed that the subjects who drank the liquid meal replacement ate more oatmeal and reported higher levels of hunger.  Even though all participants were eating or drinking the same amount of calories, the ones who drank their calories ended up eating more!

The second article addresses drinking water before meals.  The subjects were asked to fast and then half were given 2 cups of water and the other half were not.  Thirty-minutes later all of the participants were given breakfast.  The ones who drank the water ate significantly less (13%) than the ones who did not.

As these studies emphasize, by choosing your beverages carefully you can help achieve your health goals. Are you trying to gain weight? Then choose healthy drinks (juice, skim milk, or meal replacement beverages) with your meals and snacks. They will provide you with calories and nutrients, but not curb your appetite.

Are you trying to lose weight?  Then stay hydrated and try to drink a few cups of water 30 minutes before you eat your meals.  Also, choose meal replacement bars instead of beverages to keep yourself from eating too much at your next meal.

Don’t forget, your beverage choices can negatively or positively affect your overall health!


Please share: What’s your favorite beverage?

RD’s Must-haves for the Pantry


If you were to take a peek into my pantry, these are some of the foods you would find.  I consider these foods not only staples of a nutritious diet, but also good for easy snacks and meals.  (Most of these foods are store-brand, unless otherwise specified.)

  • Whole wheat pasta: Use in any of your favorite pasta dishes.
  • Brown rice: Brown rice is a hearty side-dish to your favorite meat.  When you’re short on time, use Minute brown rice, which cooks in about 5 minutes.
  • Whole wheat bread: Make sure the first ingredient is “whole wheat flour.”
  • Mission Carb Balance whole wheat tortillas: These tortillas are a staple in my diet. At only 80 calories per tortilla, I like to use them for any meal: scrambled egg wrap, quesadilla, meat and cheese wrap, spread with peanut butter for a pre-workout snack, or with tacos.
  • Couscous: If you haven’t tried this grain, then you should. It cooks in just a few minutes and offers a break from the usual rice or pasta.  My favorite brand is Hodgson Mill.
  • Triscuits or Wheat Thins: Both of these crackers are whole-grain, which makes them a great choice. I like to eat mine with cheese as a snack.
  • Vanilla wafers or gingersnaps: These are two of my favorite cookies. They are both two of the better choices when you are looking for cookies because they are low in fat, saturated fat, and trans fat.
  • Dried beans: Beans are full of fiber, protein and carbs. They are a very inexpensive food that offers so much nutrition. I try to cook with beans once a week.
  • Canned beans: When you don’t have time to cook dried beans, canned beans are an excellent choice. To make a delicious and quick dip for vegetables, bread, or crackers: drain and rinse a can of beans, place in blender, add a little water, add seasonings to taste, and puree until smooth.  Now you have a tasty bean dip.
  • Canned Hormel turkey chili with beans: This makes for a quick meal when you are pressed for time. Serve with homemade cornbread, rice, or over a baked potato.
  • Canned fruit packed in juice or lite syrup: Canned fruit is good with any meal and is just as healthy as the fresh version.
  • Canned vegetables: I prefer fresh or frozen vegetables generally, but canned ones are good to have on hand as well. Try adding canned diced tomatoes to your spaghetti sauce, drained canned mushrooms to your homemade pizza, or canned corn to your cornbread batter.
  • Baking ingredients: white flour, whole wheat flour, vegetable oil, olive oil, baking soda, baking powder, spices and herbs, salt, vinegars, sugars, etc. I like to cook from scratch as much as possible.  Make sure to always have the basic baking and cooking ingredients on hand so you can make your own muffins, cakes, cookies, biscuits, marinades, casseroles, etc.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips: Not only for baking, but also to satisfy chocolate cravings!
  • Non-fat dry milk powder: Dry milk powder in the large boxes is usually cheaper than milk. If you are looking to trim your grocery bill, make up a quart of dry milk to use in cooking and recipes throughout the week.
  • Whole oats: Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. I like to add a variety of fruit, sugar substitutes, cinnamon, nuts or peanut butter, and milled flax seed.
  • Milled flax seed: An excellent source of fatty acids. Try adding to your cereal, yogurt, baked goods, or even use as an egg substitute in your baking!
  • Dry cereal: My favorites are Cheerios and Wheaties. But I like pretty much any kind.  A small bowl of cereal and milk makes a great bedtime snack.  When choosing your cereal, make sure the first ingredient has “whole” in it, to make sure it is a whole-grain cereal. Try to stay away from cereal with a lot of added sugar or fat.
  • Popcorn kernels: Air-popped popcorn makes a healthy snack. I like mine sprayed with olive oil and salt.
  • Sugar-free hot chocolate mix: I found a recipe for hot chocolate on the Splenda website. It is easy to make and delicious, especially during the winter.
  • Raw, plain almonds, peanuts, and walnuts: Nuts are another great source of protein, carbs, and fiber. One of my favorite snacks when I’m on the go is an ounce of nuts mixed with 2 tablespoons of dried fruit.  It’s satisfying and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
  • Canned chicken and tuna packed in water: These are both lean sources of protein and make for super-quick meals and snacks.
  • Granola bars: Although granola bars are often considered a “health food”, I tend to disagree. I think most are more like a cookie disguised in a wrapper.  But, I do keep them on hand for times when I need a really quick snack-on-the-go or when I would like something sweet. (They are better than cakes and pastries.)  My favorite brands are Nature Valley, Kashi, Fiber One, Lara, and Kind.  But usually you will find the cheapest ones in my pantry since I don’t eat them very often.

What’s your pantry must-have?

Gingerbread Muffins


I always have muffins in my freezer for a quick breakfast or snack.  I enjoy trying new muffin recipes and tweaking them to increase the nutrition.  The original recipe I got from a magazine a long time ago;  I made some changes to make it my own.


  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • ½ c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. molasses
  • 4 eggs or 1 cup egg-substitute
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 c. white-whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. plus 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1 t. allspice
  • ½ t. nutmeg



  1. Beat oil, applesauce, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in molasses and eggs, beating well.
  3. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk.
  4. Combine flour and spices.
  5. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to the sugar/oil mixture, beating well after each addition.
  6. Spoon into greased muffin tins or paper liners. Fill about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.


Yield: 36 muffins

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 muffin):

Calories: 137, Total fat: 4g, Saturated fat: 0.7g, Cholesterol 24mg, Sodium 88mg, Total carbohydrate: 24g, Dietary fiber: 1g, Sugars 11g, Protein 3g


RD’s Must-haves for the Refrigerator

If you were to take a peek into my refrigerator, these are some of the foods you would find.  I consider these foods not only staples of a nutritious diet, but also good for easy snacks and meals.  (Most of these foods are store-brand, unless otherwise specified.)


  • Skim milk: It’s my favorite beverage at breakfast and I also use it throughout the week in cooking.
  • 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, lite feta cheese, and parmesan cheese. I use it in some of our favorite meals: homemade pizza, pasta salad, tacos, and grilled cheese sandwiches for a super-quick meal.
  • No-sugar-added, fat-free yogurt: An excellent source of calcium, carbs, and protein, which makes for a great snack. Yogurt is also good for smoothies (blend yogurt and frozen fruit together until smooth).
  • Eggs: Eggs are good for any meal! I like scrambled eggs for breakfast with whole wheat toast and fruit or for dinner when I need a quick meal.  Don’t forget about hard-boiled eggs which make great snacks.
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt: My children love plain yogurt and with the healthy probiotics it contains, it makes an A+ choice for snacks. As a plus, it is less-expensive than the other yogurts that are marketed to kids.  If you don’t like plain yogurt, try adding honey, jelly, or a little sugar.  Plain yogurt can be substituted for sour cream in recipes.
  • Greek cream cheese: This cheese is a naturally lower-fat version of cream cheese. I use it in recipes in place of regular cream cheese.
  • Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, spicy mustard, light Ranch, low-fat mayonnaise, low-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pickles, balsamic vinaigrette (my favorite marinade for chicken), barbecue sauce, A1 sauce, jam, lemon juice, and lime juice. Most of these are store-brands to save money.  The exception is the light Ranch.
  • Hershey’s lite chocolate syrup for mixing with skim milk for a sweet snack.
  • Maple Grove Farms sugar-free maple syrup as a low-calorie topping for pancakes and waffles.
  • 100% fruit juice: If you are taking a multivitamin or iron supplement, consider taking it with juice—the vitamin C will help maximize the absorption of iron.
  • Hormel natural choice deli meat: This lunch meat is nitrate/nitrite free and is a good choice for sandwiches or wraps. I like it wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with mustard and a slice of cheese.
  • No-sugar-added applesauce: Always a quick side for lunch or use as a substitute for oil/butter in baking.
  • Fresh fruit and fresh vegetables: It varies by the season, but during the winter, I always have clementines.
  • Lite butter (stick): For baking and cooking.
  • Butter (stick): There are times when pure butter is the only way to go!


What’s your “must-have” in your refrigerator?

Some Favorite Nutritious Foods, Tools and Websites

Nutritious Foods

Almonds – Satisfying snack, packed with carbs, protein, Vitamin E, and fiber25

Chicken Breasts – Versatile, lean meat that is served often at my house

Black Beans – Puree canned beans with garlic and a little salt and you have a tasty bean dip

Spinach – My favorite way to eat it is sautéed with garlic

Sugar Snap Peas – Another great snack: slightly sweet and very crunchy

Red, Yellow, Orange, and Green Peppers – Peppers are packed with antioxidants and go well with so many foods.  I especially like mine sautéed and served on a tortilla with beans.

Zucchini – Full of vitamins and minerals and low calorie

2% Milk Sharp Cheddar Cheese – Full of calcium and protein and even reduced fat

Skim milk – Milk is a great post-workout snack because of the combination of carbs and protein

Bananas – I prefer them with cereal and milk or topped with peanut butter. Yum!  Excellent source of potassium.

Clementines – These sweet little oranges are portable, full of Vitamin C, and easy to peel

Berries – Frozen berries are always in season.  I like mine pureed and mixed with applesauce, on pancakes, in oatmeal, or in muffins.

Whole wheat bread (especially if it’s made by my mom) – Who doesn’t like fresh homemade bread?

Oats – Cooked to make oatmeal, I like to put raisins in mine.  Or I’ll add them to pancake batter or cookies.

Barilla Plus Pasta – A tasty, whole grain pasta with added omega-3 fatty acids

Whole Wheat Flour – I replace white flour with whole wheat whenever I can: in brownies, muffins, or pancakes, for example

Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars – Made with whole grains and goes great with yogurt

Wheaties – Good source of fiber and not too much sugar

La Tortilla Factory Tortillas – A great brand of low-carb tortillas

Hershey’s Lite Chocolate Syrup – Another great tasting treat that doesn’t taste “light”.  Add to skim milk for chocolate milk.

Whipped Butter My spread of choice for toast or baked potatoes

Favorite Tools

Pedometer – It’s motivating to count your steps throughout the day.  Have you gotten your 10,000 steps today?

Exercise Bands – When you don’t have time to go to the gym, these are great for toning

Jump Rope – A fun way to burn a lot of calories

Running Shoes – Asics have been my favorite since high school

Jogging Stroller – I bought my Avenir double jogger at a local bike store. I couldn’t do without it!

Food Scale – An essential kitchen tool that I use often.  I have an inexpensive one that I bought at Target.  Eventually I’d like a nice digital one.

Food Thermometer – How else do you know if the food is really done?


Some Favorite Websites

A useful website for current, science-based nutrition information

The USDA’s website on “MyPyramid.”  Go there to find your personalized recommendations for what to eat everyday.

All the recipes you could ever need created by pros

One of the best sites to visit for nutrition information of food

Where to go to find out how much you burn

Another helpful website for easy meal ideas

Healthy recipes using canned foods

Some of my Favorite Nutrition-related Books

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

A very interesting book about how we eat more food than we think we do based on exterior influences, such as size of the package, atmosphere, and the people we are with.  Dr. Wansink has done hundreds of fascinating studies on this subject and reading about them will change the way you eat!


Baby Bites by Bridget Swinney

This is the only nutrition book you’ll need to answer your questions about feeding your newborn through toddler.


 Your Perfect Weight: The Diet-Free Weight-Loss Method Developed by the World’s Leading Health Magazine by Mark Bricklin and Linda Konner

Your Perfect Weight is an older book (published in 1995), but it is packed with useful information about managing your weight.


When you Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull up a Chair by Geneen Roth

I love all of Geneen Roth’s books.  She writes about compulsive/emotional eating.  Her books are funny, real, and touching.


Outsmarting the Female Fat Cell by Debra Waterhouse, MPH, RD

Any of Debra Waterhouse’s books are great.  She has a unique way of explaining how our bodies work in regards to our weight and gives practical, science-based advice on managing weight.  Her book, Like Mother, Like Daughter, is another favorite of mine.


Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming by Ellyn Satter, RD

This is one of Ellyn Satter’s newest books and one that all parents should read.  She is an expert on child nutrition and has a very realistic and wise view on child nutrition.  All of her books are winners and I wish every parent would read at least one of them.


Quick Fix Meals by Robin Miller

I haven’t been disappointed by a recipe from this cookbook yet.  I also enjoy Robin Miller’s cooking show on Food Network.


Eating in the Light of the Moon By Dr. Anita Johnston

This is the perfect book for any woman who struggles with emotional eating, disordered eating, or body image issues.  Dr. Johnston has a beautiful way of telling stories to teach lessons, help you heal, and make you proud to be a woman.


Dining without Reservations by the Junior League of Beaumont

Although this isn’t a “health” cookbook I wanted to include it.  I have loved every recipe we’ve made from it.  Sometimes I’ll adapt the recipe to make it healthier and it usually turns out great.


What’s your favorite nutrition book?

The Plate Method for Healthy Eating

A simple, visual way to change your eating habits is to imagine your plate divided into sections as you portion out your meals.  To decrease your weight and decrease your chances for cancer and heart disease, it is suggested that your plate is filled 50% with vegetables and/or fruit.  Lean meat can be about 25% and whole grains the remaining 25%.

If you are a man or an active woman, then you may need more food than is on the “plate.”  In that case, add skim milk on the side, bread, and/or fruit.

How does this plate compare to the last meal you ate at home?  How does that compare to the last meal you ate at a restaurant?  I imagine that if you ate at a steak house, then 50% was meat, 25% was starch (mashed potatoes or French fries), and possibly 25% was a vegetable.   If you ate at an Italian restaurant, probably 75% was starch (pasta) and 25% was meat.

If this is far off from how you currently eat, try to make one change a habit first.  How about trying to fill your plate with 25% vegetables?  Once that has become a habit, increase it to 50%.  Does that sound too challenging?  Then try to decrease your meat to 25% of your plate and fill up on whole grains instead.  Keep on persisting, and soon it will be a habit.


What does your plate look like?