User Submitted Post


Using Nutrition to Improve Immunity During Covid-19
Lilly Roberts, Jie Zhu
Nutrition and Foods Program, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Texas State University.

Unfortunately most critical cases of Covid-19 are seen in people with pre-existing conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. These conditions are often closely linked to a poor diet, which lacks adequate intake of essential nutrients for maintaining proper immune function. Research in nutrition science has found that by improving dietary intake of these important nutrients, the immune system can be strengthened with overall health improved to minimize risk of contracting Covid-19.

Protein and Fats
Protein is vital for producing immune cells and antibody, which can reduce infection risk. Eating complete proteins, which contain all essential amino acids, will help optimize their role in the body. Some high quality sources of protein include eggs, poultry, fish, nuts and quinoa.

Omega 3 fatty acids are healthy fats that work against pro-inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids which are found in certain nuts and vegetable oils.. Eating a ratio that is higher in Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s is important to reduce the harmful effects of Omega 6’s. Omega 3’s are naturally found in fish, seafood, eggs, and soybeans.

Vitamin A forms a layer of mucus that lines respiratory and digestive tracts which enhances the function of the immune system. Having low vitamin A status increases your risk of respiratory dysfunction, which makes this an essential nutrient for prevention and treatment of Covid-19. Vitamin A is found in animal sources, such as animal liver and eggs. Beta-carotene, which your body converts into Vitamin A, is found in plant sources such as yellow/orange-colored fruits and vegetables, and in fortified grains and milk.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant nutrient that is effective at combating free radical damage in the body, thus reducing inflammation. Vitamin C may also be useful for decreasing susceptibility to viral respiratory infections. You can find natural food rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, kiwi, broccoli, and peppers.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells against damage from oxidative stress, a natural but harmful process that damages your cells and DNA. Getting adequate amounts of this vitamin boosts immunity and reduces inflammation. The best sources of Vitamin E are found in various nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and avocados.

Another antioxidant is Vitamin D, which keeps the immune system balanced. Vitamin D deficiency risk may increase during the pandemic when out-door activity may be limited. Good sources of vitamin D are salmon, eggs, chicken, mushrooms, and daily sun exposure.

Selenium works by increasing the amount of immune cells and enhancing antioxidant activity, which reduces harmful inflammation in the body. Likewise, Zinc helps to make an enzyme that reduces oxidative stress. Zinc also has an antiviral role, which improves immune function and reduces risk of viral infection. Good food sources of both selenium and zinc include fish, poultry, beef, dairy products, nuts, whole grains and beans.

While there are no specific foods or supplements to reduce the risk of getting Covid-19, being mindful of your nutrition during this time can improve your immune function and overall health. Incorporating these foods into well-rounded meals throughout the day while reducing intake of processed foods, saturated fats, added sugars, and refined grains/oils is recommended by nutrition experts to maintain good health and fight against potential infections.


Christianne de Faria Coelho-Ravagnani, Flavia Campos Corgosinho, Fabiane La Flor Ziegler Sanches, Carla Marques Maia Prado, Alessandro Laviano, João Felipe Mota, Dietary recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nutrition Reviews, , nuaa067,

Stefan, Norbert et al. “Obesity and impaired metabolic health in patients with COVID-19.” Nature reviews. Endocrinology vol. 16,7 (2020): 341-342. doi:10.1038/s41574-020-0364-6

Barazzoni, R., Bischoff, S. C., Breda, J., Wickramasinghe, K., Krznaric, Z., Nitzan, D., . . . Singer, P. (2020). ESPEN expert statements and practical guidance for nutritional management of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Clinical Nutrition, 39(6), 1631-1638. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2020.03.022

Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(4):301-23.

Li P, Yin Y, Li D, Woo Kim S, Wu G. Amino acids and immune function. Br J Nutr. 2007;98(2):237-52. doi:

Dark Chocolate


Carla Ferrell, MS,RD

Dark chocolate is appreciated for its rich essence. It is used in many recipes to enhance the texture and flavor of candies, baked goods, and beverages. Its history also suggests potential health benefits such as reducing cavity formation, managing inflammation, enhancing mood, maintaining normal glucose levels, and improving cardiovascular risk factors. The potential health benefits of chocolate are based upon its composition (Badrie et al, 2015).

The seeds of the cacao tree will differ in composition and characteristics depending on their genetic disposition and country of origin (Badrie et al, 2015). The dried and fermented seeds (beans) are referred to as cocoa (Badrie at al, 2015). Cocoa is combined with cocoa butter and sugar to form chocolate, which contains a higher refined sugar and fat content (Badrie at al, 2015). Cocoa may exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity based on its high polyphenol content (Cooper et al, 2007). Polyphenol levels are typically higher in dark chocolate and lower in more processed sources of cocoa ( Cooper et al, 2007). The high polyphenol and heart-healthy fat content of chocolate is potentially beneficial for health, but the increased calorie, refined sugar, and high saturated fat content are characteristics of concern.

Research suggests that including dark chocolate as part of a healthy diet can have a positive impact on cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels (Noad et al, 2016). Since diets high in polyphenol content are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, the high polyphenol content of dark chocolate is hypothesized to be the contributing factor. The Polyphenol Intervention Trial (PPhIT) compared the effects of a low polyphenol (less than 2 portions of fruits and vegetables) and a high polyphenol diets (6 portions of fruit and vegetable, including berries and 50 gm dark chocolate) in patients diagnosed with hypertension (Noad et al, 2016). The findings indicate improvements in microvascular blood flow, a reduction in low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and a downward trend in systolic blood pressure in patients consuming the high polyphenol diet (Noad et al, 2016).

The findings in the PPhiT study noted cardiovascular improvements based on the overall polyphenol content of the participants’ diet. Additional research is necessary to isolate the effects of dark chocolate on these cardiovascular risk factors, overall heart health, and mortality. Current research suggests that adding dark chocolate to a diet high in fruit and vegetables, is well-tolerated and may help to lower cardiovascular risks in patients diagnosed with hypertension(Noad et al, 2016). Since research is limited, caution should be used in patients with multiple medical or chronic conditions. However, if dark chocolate consumption is going to be included as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, ongoing research is essential to determining specific recommendations for its consumption. (Badrie et al, 2015). Perhaps future guidelines will allow consumers to enjoy this “guilty” pleasure in moderation.

Badrie, N., Bekele, F., Sikora, E., & Sikora, M. (n.d.). Cocoa Agronomy, Quality, Nutritional, and Health Aspects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 55(5), 620–659.

Cooper, K. A., Campos Giminez, E., Jiminez Alvarez, D., Nagy, K., Donovan, J.L. and Williamson, G. (2007). Rapid reversed phase-ultra performance liquid chromatography analysis of the major cocoa polyphenols and inter-relationships of their concentrations in chocolate. J. Agric. Food Chem. 55:2841–284

Noad, R. L., Rooney, C., McCall, D., Young, I. S., McCance, D., McKinley, M. C., Woodside, J. V., McKeown, P.P. (2016). Beneficial effect of a polyphenol-rich diet on cardiovascular risk: a randomized control trial. Heart. 102(17)1371-1379.

A Healthy, Spooktacular Halloween


Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

More than 175 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this year. Knowing a few strategies will keep your family eating right all day long while still enjoying in the delights of the holiday.

#1. Start Your Halloween off Right
Breakfast is deemed the most important meal of the day for a reason. Themed breakfast ideas (that can be made the night before) include:
Ghostly pancakes or waffles—make whole wheat pumpkin pancakes or waffles then spoonful of non-fat vanilla yogurt and two chocolate chips to make a ghost.
Frankenstein yogurt cups—stir green food dye into your yogurt of choice. Fill up a small plastic cup then top with granola. Draw the face with a permanent marker on the cup.
Pumpkin fruit cups—draw your pumpkin face on the skin of the orange. Cut the top off, then gently carve out the inside with a spoon, filling with cut up fruit of choice. Serve with a satisfying protein like scrambled eggs or peanut butter toast.

#2. Snack Smart before Trick or TreatingBefore hitting the neighborhood, be sure to eat snacks that will give your family energy and satisfy their sweet tooth. Fill clean muffin tins with your family’s favorite snacks and invite your children to eat what they’d like before an evening of trick or treating. Ideas include berries, whole wheat cereal, hummus, mini pretzels, veggie sticks and cubed pieces of lean meat. Offer 100-percent fruit juice, milk or water as beverage choices to hydrate to feel great before going out.

#3. Consolidate Halloween Treats, Don’t Ban Them
All foods can fit into a healthy diet. After the big candy haul, ask the children to pile up the candy they enjoy most. Agree to donate the remaining candy to a local shelter or to troops overseas.
For family-friendly recipes and nutrition articles, visit

User Submitted Post


Enjoy Your Favorite Foods with Healthy Recipe Substitutions
Written by: Carol Bradley, PhD, RDN, LD, BCBA, FAND
Healthy eating doesn’t mean giving up all the foods you love! Smart substitutions can help you maintain an overall healthy eating pattern, even when dining out. Whether you are trying to make changes on your own, or you have been told by your physician that you need to make some changes, try the following:
For Recipes
These healthy substitutions can help you cut down on saturated or trans fats, while noticing little, if any, difference in taste.
• Instead of whole milk (1 cup), use 1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk, plus one tablespoon of liquid vegetable oil.
• Instead of heavy cream (1 cup), use 1 cup evaporated skim milk or 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt and 1/2 cup plain low-fat unsalted cottage cheese.
• Instead of sour cream, use low-fat unsalted cottage cheese plus low-fat or fat-free yogurt; or just use fat-free sour cream.
• Instead of butter (1 tablespoon), use 1 tablespoon soft margarine (low in saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat) or 3/4 tablespoon liquid vegetable oil.
For Snacks
You can snack healthier by substituting snacks that are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats with these sensible snacks:
• Instead of high-fat cookies and crackers, enjoy fat-free or low-fat cookies, crackers (such as graham crackers, rice cakes, fig and other fruit bars, ginger snaps and molasses cookies).
• Instead of regular baked goods, enjoy baked goods, such as cookies, cakes pies, and pie crusts made with unsaturated oil or soft margarines, egg whites or egg substitutes, and fat-free milk.
• Instead of devil’s food cake, enjoy angel food cake.
• Instead of pudding made with whole milk, enjoy pudding made with fat-free or low-fat milk.
• Instead of ice cream bars, enjoy frozen fruit bars.
When eating out, try choosing lower-fat foods instead of “the usual.”
For High-Fat Items at Restaurant
• Instead of cream-based soups, try broth-based soups with lots of vegetables
• Instead of buffalo chicken wings, try peel-and-eat shrimp.
• Instead of muffins, or croissants, try pita bread, or whole-grain rolls.
• Instead of a fried chicken sandwich, try a grilled chicken sandwich.
• Instead of French fries, try baked potato, brown rice, or steamed vegetables.
• Instead of potatoes and gravy, try potatoes without gravy or a baked potato.
• Instead of a hot fudge sundae or ice cream, try nonfat yogurt, sherbet or fruit ice.
For Fast-Food Restaurants
• Instead of a Danish, try a small bagel.
• Instead of a jumbo cheeseburger, try a grilled chicken sandwich, a sliced meat sandwich or a regular hamburger on a bun with lettuce, tomato and onion.
• Instead of fried chicken, try a grilled chicken and a side salad.
• Instead of fried chicken pieces, try a grilled chicken sandwich.
• Instead of French fries, try a baked potato with vegetables and/or low-fat or fat-free sour cream or margarine on the side.

The Synergistic Effect of Food


By: Amanda Diaz, UTSA Graduate Dietetic Intern

Revised by Celina Paras MSc, RDN, LD.

The power of food can be quite remarkable.  Did you know that when certain foods are eaten together they can enhance nutrient power to provide even greater health benefits?  This concept is known as food synergy. This is not referring to some of the most popular food combos such as queso dip and tortilla chips. Although these foods taste great together, there are other food combinations more beneficial to your health.  Food synergy brings it back to the basics. By eating whole foods, or foods closest to their natural form, you can maximize the health benefits of the foods you eat. Here are some food synergies to keep in mind for healthier choices for you and your family.


Pre-and Probiotics – Feed Your Gut

Prebiotics is a term you have probably heard before, but are unsure what it is.  Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that protect your gut from foreign substances and pathogens.  Probiotics are found in yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, while prebiotics are in fruits, onions, garlic, asparagus, and whole-wheat foods. When eaten together, for instance,  yogurt and bananas work together to maintain healthy gut flora.1


Vitamin C and Iron

Iron transports oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body so cells can produce energy.  When iron levels are low you may experience fatigue, weakness, pale skin, and may find it difficult to maintain your body temperature.  There are two forms of iron, heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal meats such as beef and poultry and is better absorbed by the body.  Non-heme iron is found in plant foods such as spinach and beans and with the help of vitamin C found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and orange juice, can increase iron absorption.  Drink some orange juice with your steak.2


Fats and Fat-soluble Vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are classified as fat-soluble vitamins, meaning they need fat to be well absorbed.  Any fat can assist with absorption, but consider choosing a healthier fat such as monounsaturated fats. Nuts, avocado, nut butters, and some vegetable oils are great food sources of monounsaturated fats which are heart healthy.


Each vitamin plays an essential role in the body and can be found in various nuts, seeds, dairy products, fatty fish, and oils.  Vitamins A and E are antioxidants, while vitamin A helps your eyes adjust to light, vitamin E protects red blood cells and essential fatty acids from being destroyed. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium to build strong bones and healthy teeth. Lastly, vitamin K is needed for normal blood clotting.  To reap these benefits, cook vegetables with olive or canola oil. Avoid fat-free salad dressing, and instead reach for vinaigrette, and add avocado to your smoothie that has milk fortified with vitamin D.3


There is still so much that is unknown about how the components in food work together, which is why they continue to be studied. Combining foods that complement each other for a synergistic effect can provide a positive impact on your health.


1.         NCCIH. Probiotics: In Depth. 2018; Accessed March 27, 2018.

2.         Group E. Gut Health 101: What is the Microbiome? 2016; Accessed March 27, 2018.

3.         Conlon MA, Bird AR. The impact of diet and lifestyle on gut microbiota and human health. Nutrients. 2014;7(1):17-44.

4.         Fijan S. Microorganisms with Claimed Probiotic Properties: An Overview of Recent Literature. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2014;11(5):4745-4767.



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!

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

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

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!

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!

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

2019-2020 Texas Academy Officer Nominations


3 Easy Ways to use Avocado!


Hailey Morris
Avocado has been a very popular fruit in the past. It provides about 20 essential nutrients and is a great source of fiber. Avocados contain folate, potassium, Vitamin E, B-Vitamins, and folic acid as well. With all of these health benefits, people are always coming up with new ways to add the popular fruit into their daily cooking routine. Although this fruit contains healthy fats, it is important to realize that one large avocado has 30 grams of fat or more along with 300 calories or more. The AHA recommends consuming 20-35% total calories from fat. Because fat consists of more calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and proteins, being aware of how much you are eating during the day is crucial. Moderation is important, but do not limit yourself from the many benefits of avocado! Below are some delicious ideas that you can try!

1. Avocado Toast
You can spice up that boring toast by spreading mashed avocado on top and adding desired toppings such as tomatoes, radishes, etc. You can also slice avocados up and place them on top as well. Both options are great ways to start the day and even provide energy as a snack. You will be impressed with not only the taste of this snack, but the overall appearance will be sure to boost your mood as well.

2. Avocado Dressing
Do you ever get tired of store bought salad dressings? With so many options in the grocery store, it is so hard to figure out what options are the best choice for your health. Avocados can eliminate some of the confusion. There are so many recipes out there for avocado dressing. You can blend up the avocado and add it to yogurt for a creamy sauce on top of your salad. You can also add more flavors by adding avocado to some ranch for a creamy avocado ranch dressing. There are so many options, and sometimes-sliced avocado on top of a salad can do the trick as well.

3. Avocado Dessert
Avocados are becoming popular when it comes to the sweet stuff. They can replace the fat source in puddings, cakes, breads, etc. Avocados add a wonderful rich and creamy texture so why not try it out! Simply blend up the avocado and incorporate it into a recipe for a healthier option. There are so many recipes out there so do not be afraid to try something new!

Organic vs Conventional: That is the Question


Caroline Engle, Dietetic Student

In recent years, organic products have risen dramatically in popularity. A Gallup poll from 2014 stated that 45% of Americans seek out organic food when shopping. In 2016, sales of organic foods were about $47 billion, a $3.7 billion increase from 2015. Recent surveys suggest the main reasons consumers buy organic products over conventional is because they believe they are healthier and they want to avoid pesticides. So what’s the difference between organic and conventional?

Is one better for you?
Strict organic standards are defined by the USDA. The organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources and using only approved, non-synthetic substances. Conventional farmers also have to follow strict regulations. They can use some synthetic fertilizers and other approved substances. However, both conventional and organic farmers use pesticides approved by their respective guidelines. Both organic and conventional products are regulated to ensure the consumer is safe.

Is there a difference?
One of the main reasons consumers state they buy organic food is because they think it is healthier than conventional food products. However, studies show that there is no evidence of a difference in nutrient content or quality between foods produced by organic and conventional means. The main difference between organic and conventional is their farming methods, not their nutrient content.

Is one more expensive than the other?
While shopping, you may have noticed a difference in the pricing of organic and conventional products. One study found that on average, organic foods were 47% more expensive than conventional foods. These increased costs are due to organic farming being more expensive than conventional farming. Organic farms have to pay to be certified organic by the USDA and have to buy expensive fertilizers and pesticides that fall under organic regulations. Conventional farming is not as expensive, so the products are sold for less than the organic products.

The choice of organic or conventional food products is a personal preference. However, regardless of which one you pick, you can feel confident that you are choosing safe foods to nourish your family.

Sweets and Treats for End of Summer


Sloane Souther, Meals On Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County, Dietetic Student Intern
Love summer, but hate the heat? These treats will keep you and your kids happy and healthy in this Texas heat! With summer coming to an end, here are a few more sweet treats to try before fall sets in.
1. Fill a popsicle mold with sugar-free fruit juice of your choice and bits of fruit pieces. Stick it in the freezer until frozen, and enjoy a delicious fruit popsicle without the added sugar. Plus, it’s a great way to add more vitamins and minerals to your diet! Berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are good sources of vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and fiber.
2. Get creative with watermelon! Since this fruit is 90% water, it’s great to rehydrate you from the heat. Plus, it’s a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A! Watermelon’s not just a fun Fourth of July snack, it can be incorporated into dinner meals also! Add watermelon into your dinner recipes, such as watermelon salsa, watermelon kabobs with shrimp (or any protein source of your choice!), a watermelon feta balsamic salad, or even grilled watermelon steak!
3. Swap your traditional dessert for homemade frozen yogurt! Personally, I am a huge fan of frozen yogurt. It’s a great alternative to ice cream or gelato, and it can even be made at home. All you need is frozen fruit, honey or agave nectar, and Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium! Just mix the ingredients in a food processor or blender and freeze overnight. Just like that, you have a nutritious dessert for summer picnics or days by the pool.

Stay hydrated while satisfying your sweet tooth this summer with these tasty recipes to beat the Texas heat!

Celebrate Kids Eat Right Month!!


Julia Jarrell, RDN, LD

August is Kids Eat Right Month, but how do you help your kids “eat right?” With all the conflicting information on social media, it can be complicated to sort through it all. Luckily, sometimes the simplest answer is best! Follow these three tips to make sure your kids are on the right track to lead healthy, happy lives.
1. Provide a unified message. Most schools teach USDA’s MyPlate, which is a simple way to make a healthy meal every time you make a plate. Reiteration is the key here and since children are being taught MyPlate at school, imagine how much more effective and impactful it will be if they hear the same message at home. Bonus! MyPlate is a great tool for adults to use, also! Find out more at

2. Be a role model. You must model the behaviors you expect your children to exhibit. Trying new foods and making healthy choices are learned behaviors. Additionally, it is important to avoid discussing negative food preferences because that can influence your kids to not try new healthy foods. Children should not be taught there a good foods versus bad foods, as this can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Rather, using terms like “sometimes foods” and “everyday foods” may help your kids understand how to make the best choices. When you are demonstrating healthy choices in your life, keep the discussion positive so that your kids will, also.

3. Offer Guidance. Advocating for balance, variety and moderation will instill better life long habits than focusing on diets and calories. Balance the “everyday foods” with the “sometimes foods” chosen on occasion. Eat a variety of foods to receive all nutrients. This includes fruits/vegetables (eat as many colors as possible), protein sources (fish, chicken, beef, nuts and seeds) and fat sources (fish, nuts, oils and avocados)! And finally, moderation- are you promoting your kids to eat appropriate amounts of all foods? Even healthy foods can be overdone.

Eating right is only half of the puzzle. Children should aim for 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Just like with food, consider trying new physical activity like gardening. Gardening can be a great way to increase exposure and acceptability to fruits and vegetables!
Teaching children about nutrition does not have to be complicated. With a little help from MyPlate and a focus on guiding your kids, you will direct them on a path to make “eating right” easy!

All Star Football Recipe Flips


Jennifer Leheska, Mindy Diller, Tiffany Quevedo, Jennifer Cash, Tina Maxwell, Tessa Henard, Lori Kiker

Are you looking forward to football season but not the extra padding that may come with your favorite football foods? This year make a touchdown pass with these three easy All-Star Football Recipe Flips!
1. Power up with lean protein! Protein is key in building strong muscles and bones and it makes you feel full for longer. Some of our favorite football party foods often lean towards higher fat protein options. Here are some simple tips to keep it lean.
• Try baked wings instead of fried.
• Choose low-fat cheese.
• Add in nuts, beans & seeds for flavor and added protein boost.
• Choose lean meats such as 90% lean ground beef, sirloin steak, skinless chicken breast and pork loin for your favorite meat dishes.

2. Tackle carb friendly options! We hear a lot about carbohydrates these days, but many people are confused about what these foods are. Most commonly you might think of French fries, cookies, cakes, bread, and pastries when you hear the word carbohydrate. Instead, look for friendlier carb sources that are higher in fiber such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You may also like to enjoy your favorite beer or cocktail during the game that lends to added padding by the end of the season. No worries you can sack the carbs with these few simple tips.
• Fill up on whole food carbs such as fruit and veggies.
• Choose whole grain chips/ tortillas/ breads.
• Enhance your nacho experience with whole veggie chips using peppers or zucchini.
• Drink in moderation and know that the type of alcohol you choose can save you many calories. For instance, low carb beer can save you about 50 calories in each bottle.
• Choose light cocktail mixers and those with no added sugar.
• Don’t forget about sugar in your sodas and choose low calorie beverages.

3. Intercept high fat content! While fat is necessary in a healthy diet it is very easy to get too much. Plus fat is more calorie dense than carbs and protein, and you may be adding more calories than you realize during the game. So, earn a safety and stop the added fat from sneaking up around your waistline by following these few simple tips.
• Bake instead of frying your favorite game day foods.
• Add flavor with heart healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds.
• Try a tray of fresh fruit spears instead of high fat cookies and desserts.
• Choose tomato based sauces instead of cream dips.

So no matter how big or small the game may be, be sure to follow these touchdown tips for your All Star Football Recipe Flips.
• Power up with lean protein.
• Tackle carb friendly options.
• Intercept high-fat content.

Main Course Salads


Carol Bradley, PhD, RDN, LD, BCBA

When the weather is warm and it’s more fun to spend time out of doors, a salad can be quick, convenient, nutritious and delicious all at the same time! Start with a base of salad greens. To save time, there are many combinations of salad greens available, including chopped varieties. The more colorful greens are a fantastic source of many nutrients. For example, Romaine is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, plus folate, potassium and lutein.

Next, choose from a variety of fruits and/or vegetables. If you prefer a more standard salad with vegetables, many salad vegetables such as carrots can be purchased already shredded, along with cherry or grape tomatoes. Sliced red onion adds good flavor without being too strong and olives add healthy fats. Cottage cheese is a good source of protein and its creaminess allows you to use less salad dressing. Try adding a few black beans or a black bean and corn relish to increase the protein and flavor.

Fruits can provide a variety of textures such as crunchy apples or pears which are both good sources of fiber. Strawberries, blueberries, and mandarin oranges provide added color along with vitamin C and important antioxidants. Walnuts, pecans, or almonds can add additional crunch along with healthy fats. Top it off with your favorite cheese such as feta or bleu cheese for a protein source with calcium or try tofu. This type of salad is great with raspberry vinaigrette.

For meat lovers, these salads can also be a good way to use leftover meats such as grilled steak or chicken, roasted or rotisserie chicken, or tuna in the packets. Tuna now comes in flavors such as lemon pepper or hickory flavor. The possibilities are endless and allow you to make a quick, nutritious meal in a very short time without heating up the kitchen.

Having the ingredients on hand allows you to prepare a meal in minutes and is quite a savings compared to choosing the same salad in a restaurant. Choose your salad dressings wisely as they can add a lot of calories and sodium. Bacon is tasty but it also can be a significant source of sodium. Do your best to stick with fresh vegetables, fruits and meats for the greatest benefits. Creating your own salad is not only convenient but is a great way to spend less time in the kitchen and more time outside on warm days.

Stuffed Peppers in 30 Minutes


Written By: Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD
Yield: 4 Servings
Serving Size: 2 bell pepper halves
– 4 medium bell peppers of any color, halved with stem and seeds removed
– 1 microwave pouch of 7 grain rice mix
– 1 Tbsp. butter
– 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 3 green onions, diced
– 1 large chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
– 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
– 1 lemon juiced
– 1 large tomato, diced
– 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano
– ½ cup grated asiago cheese (about 1 Tbsp. of cheese/pepper half)
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Brush bell pepper halves with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Lightly sprinkle bell peppers with salt if desired. Place peppers on lined baking sheet and bake until the peppers are slightly cooked, about 10 minutes.
3. While the peppers are cooking, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and green onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add diced chicken, cumin, garlic powder, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear, approximately 10 minutes. Heat rice mix in microwave per package instructions. Add lemon juice, tomatoes, fresh oregano and rice mixture to skillet; gently stir until combined.
4. Spoon the chicken and rice mixture into each bell pepper half. Sprinkle with asiago cheese.
5. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 5-7 minutes.
6. Sprinkle the bell peppers with fresh parsley. Serve alone or with a mixed salad.
Recipe Variations:
– Instead of bell peppers, oregano and asiago cheese, substitute poblano peppers, cilantro and pepper jack.
– Substitute chicken for 6 oz. pound ground turkey or beef.
Nutrition Information:
334 calories, 16.2 g fat, 6.3 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 324 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 16 g protein

Quinoa & Tuna Summer Salad Toss


Quinoa &Tuna Summer Salad Toss
Written By: Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD
Yield: 6 Servings
Serving Size: About 2 cups
For the Salad:
– 1 Tbsp. olive oil
– 1 bunch asparagus, diced
– 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
– ¾ cup corn kernels (approximately 1 ear of corn)
– 1 cup cherry tomatoes
– 2 cloves of crushed garlic
– 6.7 oz. jar of tuna fillets packed in olive oil and oregano, drained
– 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
– ½ cup of chopped grilled artichoke hearts*
– 3 cups of cooked quinoa*
– Salt and pepper to taste
For the Dressing:
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 1 tsp. dried oregano
– ½ tsp. red chili flakes (optional)
– Salt and pepper to taste
1. Over medium heat, add olive oil to skillet. When heated through, add diced asparagus, bell pepper, corn kernels, and crushed garlic. Salt/pepper veggies to taste and sauté until veggies are barely soft, they should still be crunchy. Add veggies to a large mixing bowl.
2. Drain and rinse can of beans and add to bowl.
3. Add cherry tomatoes and cooked quinoa to bowl.
4. Drain tuna filets and artichoke hearts. Give them a good chop then add to bowl.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together juice of one lemon, olive oil, dried oregano, chili flakes and salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.
6. Enjoy salad warm, room temp or cold. Pair salad with a side of yogurt and fruit to complete your meal.
– You can find a 6.7 oz jar of grilled artichoke hearts in the can and pickled vegetable aisle of your grocery store.
– To cook quinoa- lightly toast 1 cup quinoa in a pan on medium heat. Add 2 cups of water or low sodium chicken broth. Bring liquid to a boil. Cover and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the moisture, about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
– Don’t have quinoa? No problem. You can substitute a wild rice blend, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta.
Nutrition Information:
382 calories, 16.9 g fat, 2.1 g saturated fat, 377 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 18 g protein

Mushrooms, Mushrooms, Mushrooms


Carol Bradley, PhD, RDN, LD, BCBA

Mushroom lovers rejoice! Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, and can be a satisfying substitute for higher-calorie ingredients. Mushrooms are unique for their umami content, meaning a “savory” or “meaty” taste. In addition, they are low in sodium, and their umami counterbalances saltiness so less salt can be used in a dish without compromising flavor. White button mushrooms (stir-fried with water) have more potassium per 100g serving than a banana; potassium helps control blood pressure. Potassium is one of four major nutrients that Americans don’t get enough of. Vitamin D is another.

Mushrooms stand out as the only source of vitamin D in fruits or vegetables and one of the few non-fortified food sources. Mushrooms naturally produce vitamin D following exposure to sunlight or a sunlamp: mushrooms’ plant sterol – ergosterol – converts to vitamin D when exposed to light. All mushrooms contain vitamin D, but growers also have the ability to increase D levels in mushrooms to a controlled amount by exposing them to ultraviolet (UV) light. Mushroom producers currently offer a variety of light-exposed mushrooms which can provide close to 400 IU of vitamin D per serving (approximately 4-5 white button or crimini mushrooms, or one portabella).

Mushrooms provide B vitamins including riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Mushrooms contain the antioxidants selenium and ergothioneine which help maintain the immune system.
Mushrooms are one of the most popular vegetables. More than 900 million pounds of mushrooms were grown in the U.S. last year. One retailer even has a large plant in Madisonville, Texas. Mushrooms come in so many shapes and variations in flavor. To learn more about all the varieties and how to use them, visit

When choosing mushrooms, look for a dry, smooth texture. Mushrooms, just like any other vegetable, should be cleaned before consuming. If you see little specks on the surface, just wipe them with a dry cloth or soft mushroom brush. You can rinse them but rinsing makes them slippery and isn’t necessary.

Mushrooms are easy to prepare and add flavor and nutrients to just about any dish. Add meaty mushrooms to your favorite recipes for extra flavor and to make meals more filling. Sauté or grill extra mushrooms then use the leftovers throughout the week in pasta dishes, soups, sandwiches and salads. Prepare some sautéed mushrooms and freeze them – they’ll keep for up to one month, and can be used as a quick, nutritious addition to meals. For recipes for any meal of the day, visit

Put Your Best Fork Forward


Carol Bradley, PhD, RDN, LD, BCBA

During National Nutrition Month®, Put Your Best Fork Forward by creating an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, variety is defined as, “a diverse assortment of foods and beverages across and within all food groups and subgroups selected to fulfill the recommended amounts without exceeding the limits for calories and other dietary components.”
A variety of foods is important, because no one food or food group provides all of the nutrients our bodies need to grow and stay healthy. There are 6 major types of nutrients: water, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals. We get these nutrients in varying amounts in foods.

Our daily calorie needs are influenced by our age, gender, and activity level, to mention just a few. While many Americans of all ages exceed their calorie limits by eating and drinking extra amounts, others are just not physically active enough for the amount they eat. Taking in too many calories can lead to weight gain and over time this can have a negative effect on our health.

• One of the easiest ways to vary your diet is to vary your veggies. Plan your meals to include different colored vegetables throughout the week. Vegetables have a variety of subgroups (i.e., dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, etc.) which vary in their nutrient content. Make a point to buy vegetables in season
• Fruits also come in a wide variety of colors. Be sure to choose whole fruits most often and go easy on the juices. Look for juices with 100% fruit juice and no added sugars.
• When it comes to grains, “make half your grains whole grains” for the greatest benefit. Be sure to look for a whole grain flour as the first ingredient listed (as opposed to an enriched one) when choosing breads and cereals.
• MyPlate recommends that we “choose a variety of lean proteins from both plant and animal sources”. This includes lean cuts of meats and fish, as well as dried beans and peas and soybeans.
• Vary your dairy by choosing lower fat versions of your favorite dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese. Use low-fat yogurt to make your favorite dressings and dips.

Put Your Best Fork Forward today by making the healthiest choices from each food group more often. For more information, including recipes, visit

Food Safety for the Microwave


by Carol Bradley, PhD, RDN, LD, BCBA

The microwave ranks near the top of the list of cooking appliances that people can’t live without. Making good use of your microwave can save on energy and keep the heat out of the kitchen.

Microwaves are unique in the way they heat as opposed to conventional cooking. They cook efficiently because their energy heats the food not the container. However, “cold spots” can occur due to the irregular way microwaves enter the oven and are absorbed by the food. If food doesn’t cook evenly, bacteria may survive and cause food-borne illness. The following tips can reduce that risk.

When defrosting food, remove wrap from foods before defrosting. Foam trays and plastic wrap can melt and cause chemicals to enter food. Be sure to cook meat and poultry immediately after thawing. Some areas of the food will be partially cooked. In order to ensure bacteria are destroyed, food must be fully cooked all the way through.

Microwave-safe cookware is essential for safe cooking. Safe utensils for microwave cooking include glass and glass ceramic cookware. There are new plastic storage containers on the market labeled microwave safe. However, margarine tubs and other plastic food containers can warp or melt and contaminate food.

Wraps and bags, including wax paper, oven cooking bags, parchment paper and white paper towels should be safe. Avoid letting plastic wraps touch foods and never use newspapers or brown paper bags in the microwave. If you are in a hurry, try the new microwave cooking bags with directions on how long to cook each item. For example, fresh broccoli is ready in just 3 minutes!

When cooking, never partially cook any food. When microwaving food to partially cook before transferring to the grill or conventional oven, do so immediately after removing from microwave. Arrange food items uniformly in a covered dish and add a little liquid. Under a cover such as a lid or vented plastic wrap, steam will help destroy bacteria and ensure more uniform heating.

Cook large pieces of meat on medium power (50%) for longer times. This will prevent the outside from overcooking before the inside is done. Stir or rotate food once or twice and turn large pieces over so foods cook more safely. This may be necessary even if your microwave has a turntable. Use a thermometer or the oven’s temperature probe to be sure food has reached a safe temperature. Ovens vary in power and efficiency. Check to make sure red meat is 160F and poultry is 180F.

When reheating foods, heat leftovers and precooked foods to at least 165F. Food should be steaming and hot to the touch. It is not safe to eat leftovers that are not fully reheated. Cover foods to hold in moisture and ensure safe, even heating but do not let plastic wrap touch food if used. Microwaving baby food and formula is not recommended due to uneven heating. The “hot spots” can scald a baby’s tender mouth.

The best part of using a microwave is that clean up is so much easier than conventional cooking. Foods are cooked right in the serving dish when you microwave.

Your favorite vegetables from the garden can be cooked in about 7-10 minutes depending on your microwave. General cooking instructions begin with using a small amount of water in the bottom of a glass dish. Be sure to cut vegetables into pieces of uniform size for more even cooking. Cover the dish with a lid or plastic wrap to ensure fastest cooking. Allow to stand for a few minutes after removing from the microwave as foods continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes. If you have leftovers, they can be transferred into smaller dishes, covered tightly and reheated a day or two later for about 2-3 minutes.

Recipes can be as simple as cooking your favorite chicken spaghetti or broccoli and rice casserole in about 10-15 minutes, depending on your microwave. Adjust recipes for the number of people to be served.

Instead of spaghetti, slice 1 lb of zucchini and microwave in about ¼ cup of water in a covered dish. After 8 minutes, add a can of diced tomatoes, top with grated mozzarella cheese and or Parmesan cheese and microwave for about two more minutes.

Why not make stuffed bell pepper halves in the microwave? Just brown the meat and add your favorite sauce while the bell pepper halves are steaming side by side in a covered dish in the microwave (about 10 minutes). Scoop the meat and sauce mixture combined with uncooked instant brown rice into the bell pepper halves and cook for about 10 minutes. Total prep and cooking time is about 25 minutes.

For more information visit

Eating Right on the Go!


by Carol Bradley, PhD, RDN, LD, BCBA
These days, we tend to pack so much into each and every minute. Being so busy can affect our food choices and our waistlines, but we can be healthy at the same time. When you plan ahead and choose wisely, you feel more energetic all day and are able to accomplish more. Current research says we need about 25 to 30 grams of protein every three to four hours to make us feel more satisfied and less likely to reach for unhealthy choices to bridge the gap between meals. Spacing our protein intake this way also helps maintain muscle as we age. How can you fit it all in and stay healthy? Planning ahead is the key.

Begin with breakfast, the most important meal of the day! Study after study has shown that people who eat breakfast tend to have a healthier weight. Breakfast is short for “break the fast” but when we eat too late at night, our body is digesting and using the energy from that last meal. We store fat at our waistline to be used during the night. If you are not hungry shortly after you get up, you probably ate too much, too late the night before and your waistline may increase over time. A good breakfast will also help you work better through the morning and make you less likely to overeat at lunch.

Short on time? A bowl of cereal and skim milk is the quickest breakfast you can make! For a healthy start with staying power, you can microwave oatmeal with milk instead of water, then top with dried fruit and nuts, or peanut butter. For more protein, choose 2 eggs (cholesterol in foods is no longer restricted to a specific amount), a slice of lean breakfast meat, 1 ounce reduced fat cheese, and toast; or eat Greek yogurt with your oatmeal or eggs and you should feel satisfied for 3 or 4 hours until lunch.

Next, to make sure you have a balanced meal in the right portions at lunch, pack it at home whenever possible. The large portions we get when eating out usually leave us feeing too full and cause our energy level to drop after lunch. Start with lean protein, such as 4 ounces (7 grams protein per ounce = 28 grams total) of chicken, tuna, leftover steak, or similar meat. Balance it out with whole grains, veggies and fruits. One cup of cottage cheese (26 grams protein) or Greek yogurt with fresh berries and nuts is great when you are in a hurry. There are also plenty of portable, pre-made items if you want the convenience. Read the labels to be sure they provide adequate protein, without too much added sugar, fat, or sodium. Most frozen meals fall short on protein and fiber and may leave you feeling hungry mid-afternoon.

When you do need to eat out, choose grilled chicken or fish when possible and add sliced tomato and other vegetables to a whole grain bun for added vitamins A and C and fiber; or choose a salad with grilled chicken or salmon. Why not try fish tacos with a side salad, instead of fries, a grilled chicken wrap or sushi for a change? Be sure to go easy on the dressing, condiments, and special sauces to avoid excess calories. Limiting fried foods will also keep calories down.

To make life less hectic at dinner time, prepare casseroles on the weekend to be reheated in 10 minutes in the microwave. Use smaller casserole dishes for faster baking and reheating. Add a premixed salad in a bag and your family will have a ready meal in minutes. Frozen chicken tenders (without breading) can be thawed quickly in the microwave and heated in a skillet with a variety of ingredients for a one skillet meal, ready in 20 minutes. For example, sautee’ fresh garlic, artichoke hearts, fresh spinach and mushrooms, and serve with rice or pasta. You can also use canned tomatoes in a variety of flavors, including Southwest and Italian. Add black beans, green beans, or fresh zucchini or spinach. It only takes 20 minutes from start to finish and there is less to clean up. Using your crockpot to make ribs or a meaty soup or stew, not only saves time; it also uses less energy and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.

Last but not least, plan for snacks to help provide a bridge on busier days when your next meal might be delayed, but don’t overdo it. Snacks should be fairly light, just enough to prevent that sinking feeling. Greek yogurt and berries, one-fourth cup of nuts and some cheese, hummus with baby carrots, or peanut butter on apple slices or celery can be very satisfying. Carry cheese sticks and nuts when you fly so you don’t have to pay $4.00 for a granola bar which doesn’t keep anyone satisfied as long!

So, what food choices do you make when you are on the go? Do you plan ahead and make mindful choices or do you just grab something out of desperation? By taking a little time to plan ahead, you can actually save time and look and feel healthier as well. It may take a little practice at first, but you are worth it!

Go Green in 2017


by Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Most people don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their day, which is bad because vitamins and minerals (provided in fruits and vegetables) run metabolism and help your body fight illness and recover. Many people tend to think of juicing or cleanses when someone mentions eating more “green” foods. However, it’s important to consider “going green” as including more produce in general. By increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed in your daily diet, energy levels and recovery levels improve too! Each color of fruit or vegetable provides different combinations of vitamins and/or minerals so it’s important to include all colors.

Hydration levels also increase! Fruit and vegetables are made up of water along with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants helping you to recover from exercise, clear up skin and stay focused.

So how can you start including more “green” foods in your daily routine? Start here!

1. Hide veggies in other foods that you already like
a. Try spinach or kale in smoothies – it’s tasteless!
b. Chop up veggies to add to an omelet
c. Try making fries or spiralizing with zucchini, sweet potato or carrots
d. Fold spinach or arugula into casseroles
e. Put diced bell pepper, onion, and mushroom in your ground meat mix for burgers

2. Prepare them in creative ways
a. Roasted veggies: Cut them up, drizzle/toss them toss in olive oil, sprinkle on salt and pepper, and put them on a foil lined pan in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.
b. Stir Fry or Sautee: Throw slices of your favorite green in a pan with some oil on medium high heat for ~5 minutes until they become soft and lighter in color.
c. Grill: Place asparagus, carrots, etc. into a foil pouch with olive oil & seasonings. Toss onto the grill while your meat or other food is cooking.

3. Increase the fun factor
a. Corn on the cob
b. Veggie kabobs
c. Celery sticks with PB or cream cheese
d. Stuffed bell peppers
e. Stuff Portobello mushrooms
f. Dip them – hummus, guacamole, bean dip

4. Jump on the cauliflower craze train
a. Mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes
b. Cauliflower pizza crust instead of flour crust

5. Try easy & new recipes
a. Make “Chips” with kale or chard: Remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake @ 400 F for 10 minutes.
b. Chop up strawberries and walnuts and sprinkle them over a bed of fresh spinach for a delicious salad.
c. Find lots of ideas on Pinterest by searching the name of your favorite green!

Are You Nutrition Literate?


Do you know which foods go in what food groups? Did you know there are food groups? Do you know how to read food labels? The last time you went to the doctor did they tell you to eat healthy? What does that mean? And hardest, how do you make healthy eating happen in your busy life? The ability to do so depends on your nutrition literacy or ability to understand food and nutrition. Nutrition literacy is closely tied to health literacy. Health literacy is the ability to find, understand, and use health advice to stay healthy. Are you health literate and food literate?

October is National Health Literacy Month!

Learning how to stay healthy is now a worldwide public health goal. Healthy People 2020 lays out many goals that include eating healthy and moving more to live a healthy life. Learning how to eat right is part of health. But do we really understand how? A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you learn about and prepare healthy food. There are also many tips, tools and resources prepared by registered dietitian nutritionists or places that employ them to help make nutrition easier.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans say we should eat food from all of the food groups to meet our nutrition needs. We should aim to balance calories eaten with physical activity to achieve/maintain a healthy weight. A great resource for doing these is MyPlate. On the website you can:

  • Test your food group IQ and use a variety of tips, tools, quizzes and resources to help you meet your nutrition goals. Such as:
    • Tracking your child’s growth.
    • Gaining the right amount of pregnancy weight.
    • Learning the right portions for the food you eat.
  • Find out your Body Mass Index (BMI) or height and weight measure and how that relates to your health.
  • Get recipes, cookbooks and menus that can help you prepare healthy food.
  • Use daily checklists and trackers can help you keep up with the calories and nutrients you are eating.

Another great resource for understanding your food and nutrition is, the website for and by registered dietitian nutritionists. This website has a wide variety of blogs, tips and tools to help you apply nutrition to your own life. Topics include:

However, there are many more topics sure to answer your nutrition question. Meeting with a registered dietitian nutritionist might be the best way to find the nutrition plan to meet your goals. You can find a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area through your local hospital, clinic, healthcare provider, local dietetic association or the tool.



Texas Academy


2018 Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Awards


West Region Content


Southeast Region Content


edit text here

South Region Content


edit text here

North Region Content


edit text here

Northeast Region Content


edit text here

For each of the tabs on the right of the page, a link is created when you create a post and give it a category selection. This is under the “Format” on this page (bottom right). Just the title and link is pulled in via code on the homepage of each region. This page for example would be in the Northeast region.

Texas Chats


Regions Landing Sidebar


  • button 1
  • button 2
  • button 3

Call For 2015 Award Nominees


Texas Academy’s Latest Legislative Action Alert


Coming Soon

Orders of the 2013 MNT Manual


The 2013 Texas Academy MNT Manual is available at member price of $124.95 and non member price of $149.95. Login to the Members Only page to order a manual at the member discount. If you are not a member, please click here.

Texas Licensure – New To Texas?


If you are new to Texas or need information about becoming licensed in the state of Texas, please contact the Texas State Board of Examiners for Dietitians at