Kitchen & Pantry Staples


By: Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD
As people are staying at home more due to COVID-19, now is the time to stock up on pantry and fridge staples that offer a lot of nutrition at an affordable cost.
  • Dry pastas and grains—choose white fiber or whole wheat pastas and load up on whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, faro and bulgur. These foods offer fiber and protein to keep you satisfied longer and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Make a large batch of grains for an easy addition to any dinner.
  • Bread—choose a whole grain brand (whole grains will be the first ingredients) and opt for something with +3 grams fiber per slice. Store in fridge or freezer to make it last longer.
  • Low sodium broths and soups—having a few cartons of low sodium broth can help you make a quick pan sauce, gravy or homemade soup. Add a few cans of your family’s favorite soup to your cart for a meal in a pinch, serve with a whole grain turkey sandwich or grilled cheese to up the fullness factor.
  • Canned/frozen/fresh vegetables—canned and frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh and are easy to throw into stir fries, soups, and casseroles. Rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium.
  • Canned/frozen/fresh fruit—select fruit without added sugar and/or packed in 100% fruit juice. Having a variety of fruit is a gamechanger when you’re looking for a simple dessert or craving a smoothie.
  • Canned or dry beans—beans offer protein and fiber and can stretch meals to last longer. Add beans to pasta salads or taco mixes that also feature meat to add nutrition without having to spend more on meat.
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt—dairy offers high quality protein and bone building nutrients at an affordable cost. Buy blocks of cheese and shred yourself (or grate with a quick pulse in your food processor) to save money. Spoon yogurt onto cereal or fruit. Complete meals with a glass of milk.
  • Meats, fish and poultry—freeze a variety of lean protein in either single serving or family-sized serving bags. Set in fridge to thaw +2 days in advance. Animal products are an excellent source of complete proteins and help us maintain healthy muscles and bones.
  • Other pantry essentials—popcorn, unsalted nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, and high fiber whole grain cereals make snack time easier.
Here are some of our favorite dietitian approved recipes using staples we love:
For more, please visit

Beyond Dinner- 3 Ingredient Desserts


Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Dessert can be both delicious and nutritious! With just a few ingredients, you can whip up something the whole family will love without a lot of time spent in the kitchen. Bonus—you’ll add a serving of fruit to your family’s diet!

Strawberries & Cream Trifle


  • Angel food cake, cubed
  • Vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Frozen strawberries


  1. Alternate layers of cubed cake, yogurt and frozen strawberries in a large bowl. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and set in fridge for up to 2 hours.

Roasted Stone Fruit


  • Plums, peaches or nectarines, cut in half and pitted
  • Honey or agave nectar
  • Fresh basil, torn or julienned


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Place cut fruit in a large baking dish lined with parchment paper and brush with a little bit of olive oil. Roast fruit for 25 minutes.
  3. Place fruit on serving dish and drizzle honey or agave then top with fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Fruit & Nut Bark


  • Dark chocolate (70% cacao)
  • Dried cherries
  • Pistachios, shelled


  1. Create a double boiler with a medium saucepan fitted overtop with a glass bowl or smaller saucepan. Fill bottom saucepan with water, leaving about 1-2 inches of space between the top pans. The water should not touch the bottom of the top pan.
  2. Roughly chop cherries and nuts.
  3. Over medium heat, gently heat the chocolate until it melts, stirring frequently with a heat-resistant spatula.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour melted chocolate over parchment. Spread as needed with a spatula.
  5. Sprinkle fruit and nuts onto bark. Place in refrigerator until bark sets, approximately 30 minutes.
  6. Peel off parchment and break into pieces. Serve immediately or place in airtight container.

For more meal ideas written by food and nutrition experts, visit

Power Your Day with Protein


Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Proteins are the building block to life—protein rich foods help our bodies to grow and function normally and are key to feeling satisfied after a meal or snack. The amount of protein we need depends on our age, gender, and level of physical activity. It may be no surprise that Americans get enough protein on average, but we can do better when it comes to distribution throughout the day to maximize benefits.

Plant Based or Not?

While it’s always a great idea to include more plant based items in your diet, you don’t need to replace animal proteins with plant based proteins. The preference is yours! There are tons of healthful items regardless of what you choose.

Protein Throughout Your Day:

Here are some ideas to power up with protein throughout the day.


  • Stir-in nut butters to oatmeal
  • Add a scoop of whey protein to smoothies
  • Make and freeze egg cups for an easy breakfast on-the-go (here’s a veggie-packed, kid-approved recipe)
  • Cube leftover steak and add to omelets and scrambles
  • Balance your meal with a glass of milk

Lunch & Dinner:

  • Choose lean cuts of meat, look for “loin” cuts in the meat case (sirloin, tenderloin, top loin roast)
  • Add beans to soups and stews
  • Pre-cook chicken breasts and store in the fridge for an easy mid-week solution
  • Purchase tuna packed in water
  • Stock up on individually packaged frozen items, including veggie burger patties, seafood, and poultry
  • Layer sandwiches and burgers with a slice of cheese
  • Try diced tofu or seitan in stir fries


  • Dip fresh veggies in hummus
  • Pair your favorite fruit with a cup of low fat yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Roll deli meat in a piece of lettuce and cheese
  • Keep a baggie of unsalted nuts in your bag for an easy snacking on-the-go
  • Slice hardboiled eggs and serve with crackers or vegetable sticks

How to Handle Picky Eaters


By: Alexandria Garcia, Graduate Dietetic Intern

If your child is a picky eater, you might view your kitchen table as a battleground. With common dislikes being fruits and veggies, it may be difficult for your child to enjoy balanced meals. However, the following tips are meant to help ease meal time tensions and expand your child’s food choices.

Keep Family First
Consider your family dynamic when working with picky eaters. Make family meals a routine, limit distractions, and value your time together. Discuss your nutrition goals as a family and choose ones that are the most meaningful and practical.

Exercise Your Child’s Senses
Engage your child’s sense of sight, touch, smell, and taste by grocery shopping and/or cooking together. Pick out something new and have fun by learning more about the food and how to cook it. Go through the motions of eating from plate to mouth one meal at a time. First, by lifting the food to the mouth and then touching to the tongue. Next, by taking a small bite, big bite, and finally, eating it all. This may slowly increase your child’s ability to try new foods.

Practice Patience and Positivity
Be patient because it may take over a dozen introductions to a food before your child will eat it. Avoid force feeding, which can create negative feelings toward eating. Mealtime shouldn’t be a family battle, so keep a positive attitude by having fun and creating a safe environment. Express your creative side by using veggies to make faces on pizza or using cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes. Lastly, let your child see you taste and enjoy healthy foods.

Increasing variety in your child’s diet will not happen overnight. Balance your goals and master one food at a time. Remember that it is ok for your child not to like all foods. However, be aware that your child’s picky eating habits may put their well-being at risk. Contact your pediatrician and registered dietitian nutritionist if your child is losing or not gaining enough weight.

Tanner A, Andreone BE. Using Graduated Exposure and Differential Reinforcement to Increase Food Repertoire in a Child with Autism. Behavior Analysis in Practice. 2015;8:233-240.
Nutrition Therapy for Selective Eaters. Public Home Page – Nutrition Care Manual.

Top Food and Nutrition Trends for 2018


By: Alexandria Garcia, Graduate Dietetic Intern

In the field of food and nutrition, trends will always be present. Whether it is a new “superfood” or “diet craze”, it is important to stay up to date. Here are a few of the predicted trends for 2018.

Reducing Food Waste
Sadly, about 40 percent of food produced for consumption never reaches a human stomach. However, consumers are growing more aware of how much food is being wasted. Reduce food waste in your household by only buying the food that you need. Use your freezer to store leftovers, if you don’t plan on eating them during the week. Try frozen fruits and vegetables if your produce doesn’t make it to your plate. Frozen produce is just as nutritious. Make sure to check nutrition labels for any added ingredients, like salt or sugar.
Groceries on Demand

The trend towards online food shopping has boomed and is predicted to expand. These options have made shopping easier. Key trends to watch for are more diverse meal kits, recipes on demand, voice-controlled assistants to help with your purchases, and more efficient food delivery. However, keep in mind that grocery shopping and cooking is a great way to have more control over what goes in your plate.
Food and Your Genes
Nutrigenomics, is the study of how your diet influences your genes. Growing interest and research in this field is may make personalized nutrition possible. Nutrigenomics may be able to explain how your body responds to different foods. This also includes explaining why some people may become obese. New research will continue to improve the overall quality of diets and health. For the meantime, focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.

Advances in science and technology have allowed for the consumers to be in control. With food being a part of your everyday life, being informed on these resources will allow you to be more aware of how your purchases impact the food system.

Source: Food Values, Technological Innovations, Savvy Consumers Will Power Major U.S. Food and Nutrition Trends To Watch in 2018. Accessed February 2, 2018

Veganism: Plenty of Protein!


by Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD

A common misconception about plant based diets is that vegans can’t get enough high quality protein from plant sources. On the contrary, there are plenty of high protein vegan options! Let’s review how much protein you need, touch on complete vs incomplete proteins, and dive into ideas for plant-based protein.

How much protein do you need? To meet minimum protein needs, a 150 lb person would need to eat about 55 grams of protein daily (0.8 g per kg), or around 20 grams of protein per meal. Keep in mind individual protein needs vary and may be more than this amount.

Do complete and incomplete proteins matter? Technically protein needs are based off the body’s need for certain amino acids. Most plant sources of protein are incomplete proteins, meaning they don’t provide all the essential amino acids your body needs. It used to be recommended that for plant-based diet followers pair complementary incomplete proteins together at meals, but nowadays we know as long as you enjoy a variety of plant foods throughout the day, you should be able to get all the amino acids your body needs.

So, what plant foods are high in protein?

Soy. Soymilk is a great beverage option at 7 g protein per 1 cup and is a good source of calcium. Add this to your breakfast cereal or use it in a smoothie. Tofu and tempeh also both come from soy, and they offer 10 g or 15 g protein per 1/2 c serving, respectively. Make a tofu scramble or add tempeh to a stir-fry.

Beans. Beans are a very versatile source of protein. Each 1/2 c beans like pinto, black, kidney or garbanzo, or even edamame bean pods has 7 to 8 grams of protein. Use these as a side dish, appetizer or blend as a replacement for flour in some baking dishes. Lentils boast 9 grams protein per 1/2 c and work great in tacos, soup or curry.

Grains. Grains aren’t quite as robust a source of protein as other foods, but they still help contribute! Start the day off with 1/2 c oatmeal at 3 g protein or top a salad with quinoa at 4 g per 1/2 c serving.

Nuts & Seeds. Nuts and seeds provide a lot of calories per protein serving (so be careful with portion size for your waistline!) but are still very nutritious. Spread nut butter on toast at 7 to 8 g protein per 2 Tbsp, start the day with chia seeds at 5 g protein per 1 oz, or top your favorite dish with 1 oz nuts at 3 to 7 g protein, or pumpkin or sunflower seeds at 5 g protein per serving.

Use these ideas to power up with protein at each meal. Though every body is different, aiming for about 20 grams of protein per meal is a good start. Vary your protein sources to give your body the many different nutrients it needs.

6 Resolutions for Your Resolutions


Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions for 2018?

While eating healthier and losing weight usually top the charts on New Year’s goals, we know that gyms have all but cleared out by mid-February and no one’s thinking about portion sizes once chocolate-dipped-everything rolls around on Valentine’s Day.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, my primary objective with clients is long-term behavior change, so today I’m giving you 6 resolutions to realize every health goal you have.

6 Resolutions for Your New Year’s Resolutions
1. Be realistic. Set goals you’re 70-80% confident you can achieve.
2. Make it specific. Making a goal to “eat healthier” is too vague. A more specific goal, for example, would be to eat veggies at least twice a day.
3. Put a time limit on it. Identify a timeline for milestone achievements.
4. Quantify! Making your goals measurable makes tracking progress throughout the year more concrete. Is this something that you will do every day? Three times a week? For how long?
5. Make a plan for when, where, and with whom. Identifying the details gives you an opportunity to envision how to carry out your goal in real life.
6. Make a contingency plan. Think about how to overcome your typical barriers to healthy behaviors. What will you do if you sleep through your early morning workout alarm? Can you walk during lunch-time instead or hit the gym on your way home? What will you do if you have to travel?

Resolve to create smart goals with a “backup” plan this New Year. Beginning with a vision of success and thoughtful consideration of potential barriers leaves you more apt to achieve every health goal you have. Remember that if you miss the mark you can start right back over the very next meal.

Kiss Diet Resolutions Goodbye in 2018!


Jodi Schaeffer, MPH, RD, LDN

As we enter the New Year, many people feel they have eaten way too much over the holidays. Their clothes may not fit the way they want and a diet seems like the perfect easy fix.  But the truth is you should probably skip the “diet resolution” this year!  Statistics show that many dieters give up before the first week is even over, others quit before the end of the month and nearly everyone has abandoned their goal by the end of the year. “Diet resolutions” are often unrealistic and cause us to develop unhealthy relationships with food. Remember, food is not our enemy!  The truth is, nutrient-rich food keeps us alive, gives us energy and helps shape cultures and traditions.

One of the biggest challenges with most diets is that they focus on what not to eat instead of what to eat. If your goal is losing weight or just changing your habits, focus on which nutrient-rich foods you can add to your diet to replace some of the less healthy options.  A good goal is trying to live by the 80/20 Rule.  For 80% of the time, focus on fueling your body with whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy and water, as well as getting in exercise. Then 20% of the time, you can include foods that maybe should not be consumed every day of the week.

So instead of “diet resolutions,”shift your focus and try “lifestyle changes”!  Check out this handful of ideas:

  1. Eat breakfast every day. If you are in a rush, grab a container of low fat milk, granola bar, a string cheese or some yogurt filled with whole grain granola and fruit.
  2. Add a piece of fruit to your and your children’s brown bag lunch.
  3. Drink water throughout the day.
  4. Add color into your day with produce. Maybe Mondays are yellow with squash or a banana, while Tuesdays are purple with a plum and eggplant. Get creative and try new fruits and vegetables.
  5. Get moving at least 30 minutes a day. Go for a walk, give the car a good scrub or whatever gets the blood pumping!
  6. Get enough sleep; it helps the body stay healthy and cope with stress.

Have a Healthy, Happy New Year!

Winter Wonderland Cookies


(Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies)]

Recipe By: Jill Kuzniarek, MSN, RDN, LD

Yield: 24 cookies

Serving Size: 1 cookie

The ingredients for this cookie have been upgraded to provide more nutrition in every bite! The better-for-you cookie is naturally sweetened with apples, bananas and dates and has just enough chocolate chips to feel indulgent. These cookies are the perfect combination of chewy and soft… which makes them great for the holidays or any time you would like a sweet treat.


  • Cooking spray
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 cups medjool dates (pits removed)
  • 2 bananas, extra ripe (frozen defrosted work great as well)
  • ¼ cup milk (or vanilla unsweetened almond milk)
  • ½ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons applesauce*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour (alternatively, use White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut shreds (or unsweetened coconut flakes)
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet or dark chocolate chips

Optional: ½ cup dried cranberries can be added to or replace the chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray.
  • In a large food processor, add the dates and bananas. Process until mixture is a smooth paste, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add applesauce and milk and pulse until combined.
  • Next, add your peanut butter, cinnamon and vanilla extract, pulse until combined.
  • Add the flour, baking soda, pulse until just combined. Scrap the sides of the bowl down if necessary.
  • Add the oats, shredded coconut and chocolate chips and pulse a few times just until combined. Make sure you don’t pulse the mixture too much, otherwise, the oats and coconut will be turned into more of a flour and they will lose their texture.
  • Use a cookie spoon (or regular spoon) to easily place cookies about ½ inch apart on the cookie sheet. The size does not matter, as long as they are the same size so they take the same amount of time to cook. Larger cookies will take longer to cook.
  • These cookies do not spread, therefore, use your spoon to flatten them down a bit until they are the form of a cookie instead of a ball. For two inch wide cookies, bake 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned and middle is no longer raw (the middle will still look soft). Cool on the cookie sheet 1 minute, then remove to a serving plate to prevent them from continuing to cook.

*You can buy unsweetened applesauce, I usually make my own. Take a medium apple, peel it, cut it into slices, add to a food processor with ¼ cup milk and process until smooth, you may have to scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula and mix once again to obtain a smooth texture. Use this in your recipe, omitting the ¼ cup of milk in the recipe. I do this first, then add the bananas and dates into the food processor bowl with the applesauce.


Equipment Needed:

Food processor or Ninja (bowl attachment)

1-2 Cookie sheets

Large spoon


Measuring cups

Cookie spoon

Serving Plate

Renal-Friendly Peppermint White Choco-Chunk Cookies


Recipe By: Avery Rhodes MS, RD, LD

Inspired by mint chocolate chip desserts, this festive cookie is sure to be a holiday favorite. With the use of white chocolate vs. milk chocolate this recipe low in both potassium and phosphorus, making it a safe choice for individuals with kidney disease.

Yield: 18 cookies

Serving size: 2 cookies


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 18 peppermint candies
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (135g) white chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces (113g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped


  1. Set the butter out to soften, this step will take approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Place 12 of the peppermint candies in a zip-top bag and pound with a heavy pan until finely crushed.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, butter, egg and peppermint extract. Beat ingredients at medium speed until creamy, scraping the bowl several times.
  4. Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Turn mixer to low speed and add flour mixture. Beat until well mixed. Hand-stir the crushed peppermint candy and white chocolate chips into the dough. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour to chill.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Crush the remaining 6 peppermint candies. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Shape the chilled dough into 3/4-inch balls and place on the baking sheet 2-inches apart. Using your thumb, make an indentation on each cookie and top with about 1/2 teaspoon of the crushed candy.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove parchment paper from baking sheet and cool cookies completely.
  8. If using, melt the chopped white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each until completely melted. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Allow time to dry. Store in a sealed container with parchment paper or waxed paper between layers of cookies.


Nutritional Information Amount Per Portion
Total Calories 190 Calories
Protein 2 g
Carbohydrate 20 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Total Sugars 12 g
Total Fat 7 g
Potassium 35 mg
Sodium 70 mg
Phosphorus 35 mg

Analysis via

Chocolate Cherry Clouds


Recipe By: Marie Whelen, MS, RDN, LD

Thanks to the walnuts, three of these cookies provide a good source of omega-3’s which may

reduce the risk of heart disease.

Yield: 4 dozen

Serving size: 3 cookies


  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder


  1. Preheat oven to 325° Line two half cookie sheets with parchment paper. Toss chopped cherries with walnuts to lightly coat cherries with walnuts and prevent them from clumping together.
  2. Beat egg whites on high speed of electric mixer until light and foamy. Gradually add sugar about a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until stiff peaks form when mixer blade is lifted. Add vanilla, and sprinkle cocoa over the egg white mixture. Beat at medium speed or fold by hand just until blended. It is OK to have some streaks of white at this stage. Fold in walnuts and cherries, taking care to avoid overmixing so that meringue will remain fluffy and light.
  3. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper and bake at 325° for 15 minutes. Cookies will retain their shape, so they can be spaced 1/2” apart. Allow cookies to cool in oven for approximately two hours. Store in airtight container for up to one week.
Total Calories 80
Protein 2 g
Carbohydrate 14 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Total Sugars 12 g
Added Sugars 11 g
Total Fat 3 g
Saturated Fat 0 g

Nutrition Fake News: Sorting Fact from Fiction


Brianna Crane, Graduated Dietetic Intern

Reviewed by: Celina Paras MSc, RDN, LD.

In a world of TV celebrities and social media giving health and nutrition advice, how do we know if what they say is true? Use this checklist to help you decide if the nutrition advice people are telling you is fact or fake news.

Question #1: Does it sound too good to be true?

Be wary of people telling you one product or food can completely change your health. If they say that it can prevent or cure many types of sicknesses, it is most likely not true. Food and nutrition does help our bodies stay strong and healthy, but we need more than one food or product to keep us healthy. Eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and lean protein is important for giving your body the nutrients it needs. If you hear celebrity advice about food and nutrition that sounds too good to be true, it probably is! No one food makes you 100% healthy!

Question #2: Is it a change you can make long term?

There are many food fads that may make you lose weight. Eating very low carb or greatly restricting calories may make you lose weight quickly, but it is not a healthy change you can make for the rest of your life. Also, it can do far more harm than good. Look for positive changes you can make that can last a long time like exercising for fifteen to thirty minutes every day or eating dessert only one time a week. Focus on what you can do, not what you cannot. Any diet that makes you worry about every meal or snack you eat may not be good for your body or your mental health.

Question #3: Is it expensive?

Celebrities make money by using their fame to sell products. If you watch TV, you will see many famous people trying to sell you something. Most have not studied nutrition and thus are not the best nutrition source. If a person is selling an item that is expensive, they are probably using it as an income, rather than a way of life. Be wary of what they tell you and question how much they know on the topic. Remember a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is the food and nutrition expert so check your facts before you pull out your checkbook!

If the advice or product you are being sold answers yes to any of these questions, step back and ask why. Will this this actually help you make a long term change that will not drain your wallet? If the answer is no, decide whether this product really is too good to be true that way you can know if its fact or fake news

Mini Cranberry Pecan Pies


Written By: Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Yield: 18 mini pies

Serving: 1 mini pie

Mini desserts are the perfect vessel for enjoying the food you love in moderation. With less than 200 calories per serving, these mini pies can be made with your favorite pie filling or jam.


  • 2 discs of pie dough (store bought or homemade)
  • ¼ cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, cut in half
  • ½ cup sugar (or about ¼ cup of Splenda)
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Generous dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. of milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350◦ Lightly grease mini-muffin tins. Roll out one disc of cold pie dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a 2 ½ inch cookie cutter or the top of a glass, cut 18 circles. You may need to use half of your other pie disc to get all the needed circles. Press each circle of dough gently into your muffin tins and place in the refrigerator to chill while you work on the next steps. You may crimp the edges by hand or with the prongs of a fork for extra embellishment.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, flour, vanilla extract and cinnamon over medium heat. Stir occasionally until mixture is thick and cranberries are bursting. Cranberries should be cooked through and sweet. Spoon mixture into a bowl to cool.
  3. Optional step- Meanwhile, in a small skillet, add your chopped pecans and toast over a low heat. Once your pecans are fragrant they are ready to be taken off the burner. Keep an eye on the pecans to ensure they do not burn, this step goes by quickly. Toasting pecans adds flavor but is not required.
  4. Optional step- Roll out your second pie dough and cut remaining circles as needed. With remaining dough, use mini-cookie cutters to cut holiday themed shapes. You can omit this step all together if you wish. Omitting the top cut-outs will result in having more mini pies.
  5. Remove your prepared mini-muffin tins from the fridge. Using a teaspoon, add chopped pecans (enough to just cover the bottom of each pie circle) then top with a cranberry mixture. The filling should fill ¾ of each prepared pie cut out. Be careful not overfill, filling may bubble out and burn if you add too much. You might have extra filling and that’s okay– it’s delicious over oatmeal the next day!
  6. Add your cut outs to the top of each mini pie. Return to the fridge and chill for approximately 10-15 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl, gently whisk together the egg and milk. Brush a thin layer of egg wash on top of each mini pie. Place your tins in the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 25-30 minutes.
  8. Set your tins on a cooling rack. When cooled, gently remove your mini pies and store in an air tight container. For best quality, store pies up to three days at room temperate. Note: If you are using a custard filling (like pumpkin or sweet potato), store in the fridge.

Nutrition Information (for 1 mini pie):

134 calories, 6 g fat, 125 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 1 g protein

Grow Your Palate, Not Your Waist with Functional Foods


Brianna Crane, Graduate Dietetic Intern

Reviewed by: Celina Paras MSc, RDN, LD

Functional foods are foods that can give added health benefits along with being nutrient-rich.   Today, a large portion of health research is focused on nutrients in food that can help fight chronic illness. Here are some foods that you may already have in your home that can protect you against certain diseases.


Along with being high in protein, oats have soluble fiber. Recent research shows that soluble fiber can help lower total and bad cholesterol in the body if consumed on a normal basis. This is important because it can help combat your risk of heart disease. Try to eat oats without added sugar and sweeten with fruit. You can even make overnight oats so you are ready to go with a nutrient-rich breakfast in the morning! Other foods high in soluble fiber are beans, fruits with skins and flax/chia seeds.


Berries contain antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries can be a great addition to any meal. Add them to your morning cereal or oatmeal, top a tasty salad or add as a layer to your yogurt parfait. Worried about your berries going bad? Buy them frozen. They are less expensive, stay good for longer and have just the same amount of nutrients as fresh berries.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, and herring contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are an unsaturated fat that can help reduce inflammation in the body that can cause disease. Fish can be bought and frozen to be used later for up to two to three months. Try adding spices such as dried basil, dill weed, onion powder, and oregano to get the best taste out of your fish. Fish goes great roasted veggies and whole grains!

Food can tickle your taste buds and improve your health too. Look at your pantry, fridge, and freezer and see if you have any foods that can help lower your risk of developing certain diseases. If not, stock up!



College Nutrition and Wellness Survival Guide


College Nutrition and Wellness Survival Guide

By: Claudia I. Martinez

Revised by: Celina Paras MSc, RDN, LD.

College is a time where stress levels rise! A lack of sleep, time and proper nutrition can become an issue to energy levels! It’s time to start creating better habits, and there is no better time than the present to begin!


With busy class schedules, multiple assignments, and long work hours, eating a balanced meal may seem difficult. You may think that cooking takes too much time and therefore go for the quick solution of purchasing fast food on campus. If fast food is your go to, make sure you are choosing nutrient-rich choices. In other words, be cautious about creamy condiments, sugar-sweetened beverages and aim for quality side items like fruit cups or salads instead of French fries or chips.

If you are short for time, but want to eat at home to save dollars and calories, meal prepping is a great way to make sure you are meeting your daily nutrient requirements. Some good options for meals include something as simple as turkey wraps with veggies or overnight chia seed pudding. Purchase non-perishable snacks such as popcorn, almonds, or nut butter, in which you can pair with apples, bananas, or even celery.

Physical activity

Eating well can be difficult in itself, but including physical activity into your daily lifestyle adds even more of a challenge. However, it can definitely be done! The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of either 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days per week or 25 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week to maintain health. In addition, muscle strengthening activities are recommended at least 2 days per week. College recreation centers usually offer great group exercises classes that can definitely help you reach the recommended physical activity. Even if these recommendations seem to be too much, set goals and aim to reach them. An activity as simple as walking or riding your bike to your class can go a long way.


The recommended sleep duration for adults falls between 7 to 9 hours. With this in mind, it is best to avoid pulling all-nighters and instead make sure you are getting restful sleep. If you feel tired throughout the day, take a 20 minute power nap and get back into it. Exercising and eating well help with getting a good night’s rest.


The recommendation for fluid intake is to drink enough to keep your urine a pale yellow color. A great way to estimate this is to take your weight in pounds, divide in half and drink that many ounces. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink at least 75 ounces of low to no calorie fluid a day. Then add 5-10 oz for every 20 minutes of exercise. Carrying a water bottle around and refilling it can help you make sure that you are drinking enough throughout the day. If you’re having trouble staying awake while studying for an exam or doing homework, drink cold water so your body doesn’t tire. As you drink more water, you will be forced to get up to go to the restroom, making sure you stay wide awake.

Remember! Eat nutrient-rich foods as often as you can, stay active, sleep enough and drink water. Make sure to set goals and do what works best for YOU. Setting reminders on your phone can help you with all of these things!

Christmas Wreath Salad


Clarissa Rivera MS, RDN, LD, CDE, Dietitian Diabetes Educator, Texas Diabetes Institute, University Health System

Preparation Time: 20 minutes Servings: 6 servings Serving Size: ½ cup salad with 1 Tbsp dressing
¼ cup walnuts, toasted 2 cups fresh Spinach ½ cup cherry tomatoes 1 low-fat Mozzarella string cheese, sliced into ¼” pieces ½ red bell pepper
2 cups plain Fat-Free Greek yogurt 1 packet ranch dressing seasoning ¼ cup fat-free milk

1. Arrange walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Toast walnuts in the oven at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside and allow to cool.
2. Arrange spinach, tomatoes, cheese, and walnuts in a circle on a plate.
3. To prepare dressing, mix together ranch dressing and Greek yogurt. Add milk and stir until dressing is at desired consistency.
4. Cut the bell pepper to form a ribbon and place at the top of the wreath.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 75
Carbohydrate: 3.5 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Protein: 4.5 grams
Total fat: 4.5 grams
Sodium: 120 milligrams

Pomegranate-Studded Farro Salad



Written By: Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Yield: 4 Serving

This crowd-pleasing whole grain salad pairs perfectly with your favorite protein for a complete meal.


  • 1 cup farro
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup raw almonds, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
  • ½ cup cow’s milk feta cheese
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Ground pepper to taste


  1. Rinse farro and add to a medium sauce pan with broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the farro is tender. Drain off excess liquid and set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cooled farro with pomegranate seeds, mint, almonds and feta.
  3. Whisk together olive oil and orange juice. Season with ground pepper to taste. No need to add salt unless you want to, the feta will add a nice salty bite. Drizzle dressing over salad and stir to combine.
  4. Farro salad is best at room temperature or cold and can be made ahead of time. If you are storing it overnight, add the mint right before serving so it isn’t wilted. Top with 3 oz. baked chicken (pictured), sliced steak, crunchy oven roasted chick peas or grilled shrimp.


If you’re unable to find pomegranate, blueberries, diced pear, strawberries, or dried cherries would also work well in this salad. The almonds could also be swapped out for your favorite nut of choice. I recommend no salt added pistachios, cashews, walnuts or pecans.

Nutrition Information:

443 calories, 24 g fat, 14 g monounsaturated fat, 540 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 13 g protein

Protein Power Oatmeal


Written By: Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Yield: 1 Serving

Eating 25-30 grams of protein at breakfast helps with weight maintenance, blood glucose control, and promotes lean muscle. Yet most Americans are falling short of protein at breakfast. Here’s a simple, protein-packed recipe that will fill you up and keep you satisfied all morning long.


  • 1 cup high protein skim milk (like Mootopia or Fairlife)
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • ¼ cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ pomegranate seeds
  • Liberal dash of pumpkin spice
  • Honey, sugar substitute or other sweetener of choice (optional)


  1. Continually stirring, heat milk over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Once milk comes to a boil, add oats, reduce heat to low, and continue stirring until mixture thickens, approximately 1 minute.
  2. Stir in a liberal dash of pumpkin spice.
  3. Top oatmeal with almonds, blueberries, and pomegranate seeds. Add a splash of milk as needed.

Nutrition Information:

458 calories, 22 g fat, 11 g monounsaturated fat, 125 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 25 g protein

Humble Lemon Hummus


Lexi Endicott, Dietetic Student

Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 cups

2 c. chickpeas
¼ c. tahini
¼ c. olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse and drain chickpeas.
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Information/Serving
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp.
90 calories
6 grams fat
7 grams carbohydrate
3 grams protein
2 grams fiber

Keys to Healthy Snacks


Jodi Schaeffer, MPH, RD, LDN

When many people hear the work “snack” they automatically think candy bars and chips, but the truth is that nutrient-rich snacks are an essential part to a healthy eating plan.  Have a snack between meals can help keep you from being as hungry at the next meal, ideally promoting better portion control.  Plus, adding protein to a snack allows you to stay fuller longer because it slows digestion and helps to keep blood sugar steady. Research has shown that protein-rich snacks help diminish cravings and can help with weight loss because they improve satiety. So how do you get a protein-rich snack on the go? Here are some great ideas:

Cottage cheese has 20 grams of protein per 5-ounce serving. (Low or reduced fat options are lower in calories.) Added bonus of a serving of dairy!

Hardboiled eggs have 6 grams of protein per egg. They are very easy to prepare ahead of time and  easy to take on the run.

Peanut butter packet has 8 grams of protein per 1.5-ounce pack (2 Tbs.). Grab an individual squeeze pack for portion control and easy travel.

String cheese has 6 to 8 grams of protein per 1 cheese stick (part skim on the label is recommended). Added bonus of a serving of dairy!

Protein bars will have between 10 to 15 grams of protein (some up to 20 grams). Some brands have additional fat and sugar added to them, so you want to make sure you read the label and choose ones that contain whole grain and have at least 5 grams of fiber.

Low fat chocolate cow’s milk has 8 grams of protein per 8 oz (1 cup) serving. Chocolate milk is also perfect for a (I removed pre-workout) post workout snack, as it helps repair muscles and aids in re-hydration. Added bonus of a serving of dairy!

Hummus cup has 5 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving. You can dip vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumber, and grape tomatoes for added fiber, vitamins and minerals. Added bonus of a serving of vegetables!

Snacking can be healthy and a great way to get extra nutrients in your day!  Remember to include snacks that contain good sources of protein to help you stay fuller longer throughout the day and less likely to go looking for chocolate or jar of candy!

Simple Swaps for a Healthy Thanksgiving


Authors: Southeast Region Leadership Team

Foodies rejoice! You don’t have to pass up your Thanksgiving favs to live nutritiously (and deliciously!) this Thanksgiving. Simple swaps during Thanksgiving will help keep you feeling your best as you kick off the holiday season.

Make New Traditions

Being healthy during Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you should toss your family’s beloved mealtime traditions out the window. Blend new traditions with old for a healthy feast the family will love.

  • Choose whole grain dinner rolls.
  • Mash parsnips with your potatoes or try this cauliflower “mashed potato” recipe.
  • Limit oil and butter where you can.
  • Add flavor to your veggies by roasting them with fresh herbs.
  • Use sugar substitutes or fruit purees to reduce added sugar. We love this cranberry sauce that uses raspberries to add sweetness while upping the nutrition!
  • Use Greek yogurt to add creaminess to mashed potatoes, dips and casseroles.

Indulge Without Guilt

The urge to splurge during the holiday season is understandable, but you don’t have to sabotage your waistline to enjoy the delicious offerings that will surround you. Feeling stuffed should be left to the turkey alone, be sure to plan ahead to set yourself up for success.

  • Help plan the Thanksgiving menu. Be sure to balance out the menu with roasted veggies and seasonal salads.
  • Eat breakfast. Curbing hunger is a great way to prevent over-indulging later. Start your day off right with a balance of protein and carbs to leave you feeling satisfied and energized. Poached egg on whole wheat toast, whole grain cereal and low fat milk, and even a PB&J are all great ideas to get your day started right.
  • Practice portion control. Use smaller plates, bowls, cups and serving utensils; cut pies and cakes into smaller pieces.
  • Plan your leftovers. Not only will you reduce food waste, but you’ll have a plan in place to limit over-eating.

Get Active

It may be no surprise that people exercise less and eat more during the holiday seasons. Kick your holiday season off right by remaining active. The American Heart Association recommends exercising for at least 30 minutes each day. Avoid the urge to sink into the coach after your meal—instead walk the neighborhood with your family and friends!

You don’t have to set aside your family traditions to savor your food, family time, and your wellbeing. For more nutrition tips, visit!

10 Minute Breakfast Sandwich (That’s Perfect for Dinner, too!)


Written By: Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Yield: 1 Serving

Sometimes getting breakfast (or dinner) on the table in less than 15 minutes is a must. Here’s a sandwich that packs the nutrition, doesn’t break the bank, and is ready in no time.


  • Bread- choose a 100% whole grain bread that offers 3+ grams of fiber and is less than 100 calories per slice.
  • Vegetables- pile them high! Whatever you have would be delicious on this sandwich—tomatoes, leafy greens, and bell peppers would all be great add-ons.
  • Follow MyPlate- be sure to balance out the rest of your plate with an extra serving of fruit and veggies. Check out this MyPlate Daily Checklist for more.
  • Cheese-If you’re looking to reduce sodium, opt for a lower sodium cheese like Swiss or fresh mozzarella. Have lactose intolerance? No problem, many cheeses are naturally low in lactose including Swiss, Colby Jack, and cheddar.


  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • ½ small avocado, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese of choice (or 1 slice of your favorite deli cheese)
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Begin by heating a small skillet over medium-low heat with ½ Tbsp. of olive oil. Once skillet is heated through, add your egg and cook to your preference. Sunny side, fried, and scrambled would work. Pictured is fried egg over medium. Add freshly ground pepper and remove your cooked egg.
  2. Add remaining ½ Tbsp. olive oil to pan. Place one slice of bread onto heated skillet (you can also do this on a grill pan or panini press). Sprinkle on cheese, lay slices of avocado, drizzle sriracha, top with cooked egg, then finish with second piece of bread.
  3. Once bottom piece of bread has browned and cheese is melted, gently flip sandwich. Finish browning second piece of bread, approximately 2 minutes or until toasty.
  4. Cut sandwich in half. Serve with extra side of fruit and veggies.

Nutrition Information:

465 calories, 25 g fat, 8 g monounsaturated fat, 849 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 20 g protein


Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites


Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites
Lexi Endicott, Dietetic Student

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 15 servings
Serving Size: 1 one-inch energy bite

1 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
¼ c. ground flaxseeds
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. agave syrup or honey
1 tsp. vanilla

1. In a medium bowl, combine oats, shredded coconut, cocoa, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
2. Add peanut butter, agave, and vanilla to the bowl and mix until ingredients come together.
3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Roll into 1″ balls and place in airtight container.
*Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information/Serving:
115 calories
8 grams fat
11 grams carbohydrate
4 grams protein
2.5 grams fiber

Trick-or-Treat Tricks


Jennifer Leheska, PhD, RD, LD

Are you among the 70.6% of Americans who will have their light on October 31st to greet all the little ghost and goblins anxious to see how much candy loot they can pile on? The National Retail Federation expects Halloween candy sales to be $2.7 billion, and 95% of Americans will make these purchases. So, no matter if you are the giver or the receiver you will likely splurge on at least one Halloween treat. A single treat won’t increase your waistline or move the dial on the scale; however, Halloween is the starting point of a two-month marathon of special holiday treats and celebrations which can quickly add up and leave you wondering what happened come January 1st when your favorite pants are too tight. Here are three tricks to enjoy the holiday and avoid a spooky outcome:

  1. Be sneaky
  2. Try non-edible treasures
  3. Purge the treats

Be Sneaky:

Kids love special treats, but that doesn’t mean they only get excited about sugary candies with fancy wrappers and bright colors. Believe it or not, kids get excited about healthy treats if given the option! Most people don’t consume the daily recommended amount of fruit or veggies and often welcome fruit’s natural sweetness as a special treat. Worried healthy options won’t be well received? Do your own study and offer a bowl of one of the following options next to a bowl of traditional sugary candies and observe the selection.

  • Oranges and apples
  • Boxes of raisins
  • Fruit and veggie squeeze pouches
  • Popcorn or nut mixes

Try non-edible treasures

Children love little treasures. So, save on the extra calories and added sugar by handing out some of the following:

  • Pencils and erasers
  • Glow sticks
  • Bouncy Balls
  • Jump ropes

Purge the treats:

Chances are no matter if you have children or not you will end up with your own bowl full of loot. Halloween is the launch pad for the Holiday season which means there will continue to be a rapid influx of special treats over the coming months. When you combine that with cooler weather and fewer chances to be physically active extra pounds can creep on quickly. So, a simple solution is enjoy the candy for a few days then purge it to avoid the daily temptation. A fun way to do this is to incorporate the tradition of the switch-witch who comes to your home and switches the candy you leave with a toy or a book. Or donate it to a local organization who sends to military stationed overseas.

Don’t let those sneaky pounds creep on this Halloween. Instead, incorporate one or all of these tricks: 1) be sneaky; 2) try non-edible treasures and 3) purge the treats. This year make new traditions and help keep the neighborhood children and yourself healthy and happy.


Are you Drinking Your Calories?


Jodi Schaeffer, MPH, RDN, LDN
When it comes to weight loss, there are lots of diets promising fast results. Most people try to reduce their calorie intake by focusing on food, but another way to cut calories may be to think about what you drink. Drinks high in sugar are “empty calories.” Empty calories are calories that provide little nutritional value to your diet and can add up quickly. The good news is, with a few substitutions, you can save lots of calories and add nutrients back to your diet.
Look at the difference in these two examples:

Example 1:
• Breakfast: Medium café latte (16 ounces) made with whole cow’s milk: 265 calories
• Lunchtime: 20 – ounce bottle of cola: 240 calories
• Afternoon snack: Sweetened iced tea (16 ounces): 180 calories
• Dinner: 12 – ounce can of beer: approximately 150 calories
Total calories: 835 calories in beverages

The majority of these calories are “empty”, however, cow’s milk contains protein, vitamin D, and calcium which are good for bones, teeth and muscle repair.

Example 2:
• Breakfast: Small café latte (12 ounces) made with fat-free cow’s milk: 125 calories
• Lunchtime: water (from the tap, bottle or sparkling): 0 calories
• Afternoon break: 8 ounces of Chocolate cow’s milk (2% reduced-fat): 190 calories
• Dinner: 5 ounces of red wine: approximately 127 calories
Total calories: 442 calories

Half the calories of example one. In addition, better health choices, here is why:
• Chocolate cow’s milk: Low fat chocolate milk has less fat and calories than whole milk and contains protein, carbohydrate, calcium, vitamins and minerals we need for energy, muscle repair, strong bones and teeth and is great for re-hydration.

• Water: Most Americans do not drink enough water. Water is necessary to maintain the balance of body fluids (our body is composed of about 60% water), transports waste products out of the body, and helps control calorie intake by making you feel fuller. Drinking water throughout the day is essential to good health! Get a large “to go” bottle and fill it with ice and water. When you are finished, fill it again. Or get your own BPA-free glass or plastic re-usable bottle to carry with you!

Fish Tacos with Mango Pico & Lime Crema


Fish Tacos with Mango Pico & Lime Crema

Written By: Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Yield: 4 Servings

Serving Size: 2 Tacos

Perfect for a fast, nutritious meal any day of the week… Taco Tuesday, anyone?


For the Fish:

  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 8, 3 oz. pieces of tilapia (skin removed)
  • 8 corn or whole wheat tortillas
  • Cooking spray

For the Mango Pico de Gallo:

  • ½ a mango, diced (you can also use 1 cup of pineapple)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • ½ a jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Lime Crema:

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • A generous dash of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:

  • Wedges of fresh lime
  • Avocado
  • Fresh or pickled jalapeno
  • Cilantro
  • Shredded cabbage


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Pat dry fish fillets with a paper towel. Mix cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder and salt in a bowl. Season fish with the spice mix.
  2. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange the fillets on the baking sheet and place in preheated oven. Wrap tortillas in a foil packet and place in oven to heat through. Cook for approximately 15 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a form.
  3. While fish cooks, add all the lime crema ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until you’re ready to eat.
  4. Place all the mango pico de gallo ingredients in a medium bowl and lightly stir until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Arrange two tortillas/per plate and top each one with a piece of cooked fish, mango pico de gallo, and a dollop of lime crema. Serve with additional toppings.

Nutrition Information:

325 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 752 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 35 g protein

Cilantro Hummus Fettuccine Pasta


Cilantro Hummus Fettuccine Pasta
By: Joanna Gallegos, RDN LD
Yield: 4 servings
Serving size: 2 oz

-8 oz fettuccine pasta
-8 oz traditional hummus
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 bunch of cilantro
-mango pico de gallo or regular pico de gallo (optional garnish)

1.) Rinse cilantro under cold water. Shake off excess water. Roughly chop cilantro leaves and stems just enough to blenderize properly.

2.) Add whole tub of 8 oz hummus into a food processoer or blender along with chopped cilantro. Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil as well. Blenderize until small specks of green are seen evenly.

3.) Cook pasta in a large deep pot according to insructions printed on box. Once cooked, drain pasta into colander and place pasta back into pot.

4.) Add cilantro hummus sauce into pot and stir into pasta until evenly coated. Serve with mango pico de gallo or regular pico de gallo as a nice ganish. Parmesan cheese goes well as a garnish too. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information
Per serving: 425 calories, 9 grams protein, 25 grams total fat, 9 grams monounsaturated fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 4 grams dietary fiber

Knapsack Nibbles for Back 2 School


By: Karen Geismar, Karen Beathard, Rachel Poland, Julia Jarrell, Tabitha Odom, Shelley Filipp, Carol Bradley


Now that summer has ended and we are back in school, what are the best choices to fuel your scholar? Why not try one of the following tips to involve your kids in choosing, tasting, and creating great snacks and healthy habits?

To start, get your kids involved. Get them interested by letting them pick out new fruits and vegetables to try at the grocery store. We all love choice and it will help them understand about variety within the basic food groups. Do a taste test with the new foods separate from mealtime. Current research has found it may take 10-20 exposures to a new food for some kids to accept it. By doing a tasting separate from mealtime, if your child rejects it at first or barely tastes it, they haven’t missed an important part of that meal.

Pick two! Pair two foods from different food groups. Protein choices include cheese sticks, nuts, boiled eggs, hummus, and yogurt. Pair one protein food with another choice such as celery or baby carrots, red bell pepper, grape tomatoes, berries, apple slices or apple sauce. The combinations are endless when trying to achieve variety. Keep a supply of these items in the fridge within easy reach of your child.

Make it easy! If you are short on time, buy pre-cut fruits and veggies and pre-prepped proteins, including nut and cheese portion packs. There are more and more options all the time. When time allows, portion out fruits, veggies, nuts and cheeses into sandwich or snack-size bags ahead of time.

Try one of more of these ideas to get your school year in gear and maintain healthy eating habits all year.

School Lunch Time Crunch


Southeast Region Leadership Team

Summer is ending and a new school year is on the horizon. As a busy parent, you might be feeling anxious as you pull together your family’s fall schedule. A nutritious lunch for your kids should be top of mind, and we’re here to help you get through the school lunch time crunch with three easy tips!

#1. Avoid the Last Minute Rush

Pack your child’s lunch ahead of time using MyPlate as your guide. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Make your own lunchables by cutting lunch meat and cheese into small squares and pairing with whole grain crackers
  • Keep drinks cold by freezing juice boxes, personal chugs of low fat milk, or water bottles. It’ll melt and be the perfect temp come lunch time.
  • Always add fruits and veggies. Bell pepper strips, carrot sticks, fresh berries, and apple slices tossed in lemon juice are all great options.
  • Check out ways to avoid brown bag boredom here!

#2. Keep the Clock in Mind for Food Safety

Insulated thermoses and lunch bags help keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Aside from keeping lunch tasting great, keeping food at the right temperature means avoiding foodborne illness. Be sure to add icepacks to your child’s lunch bags as well. For more information on reducing foodborne illness visit

#3. Save Time with School Lunch

Don’t have time to make lunch? No problem! Your child’s school offers an easy, stress-free and nutritious lunch every day. School lunch programs continue to offer balanced meals that help promote healthy eating habits and optimal nutrition.  Rest assured, your child’s foodservice and nutrition staff works hard to provide nutritious meals that result in less stress for you.

Regardless of how you feed your child lunch, nutrition doesn’t have to be time consuming. For more ideas to keep your family healthy, visit!