A Nutritious Grocery Cart Fill-Up!

Grocery cart full

It’s shopping day and a healthy cartload takes some careful thought.

A Nutritious Grocery Cart

Some careful thought before, during, and after your grocery trip is a must. Think about it — what goes into your cart also goes into you. Right? So planning ahead, writing a list, slowing down as you walk the store, and reviewing your cart are essentials. Or, perhaps you’ll just have to wait a few years for a supermarket of the future kind of experience.

Filling Your Cart Aisle-by-Aisle

Doing a big shopping trip is different than a milk & bread only trip. The big trip hits your wallet harder and it can ease your stress at dinnertime. So, take your time and think through every purchase. Even if you use an order-ahead shopping service at your local grocery store, don’t leave out this important step.

My Grocery Cart Fill-Up

When I went shopping after a recent 4-day out of town trip, I needed to stock up. Here’s a run-down of what I bought and why?

  • I bought bananas, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, a lemon and lime in Fresh Produce. This, along with some local apples I already had on hand, will get me through the work week.
  • I bought on-sale goat cheese with honey and sliced almonds at the Deli. This cheese is so delicious on a whole grain cracker for a snack any old time.
  • I bought canned kidney beans, black beans, lentils, and tomato paste in the canned veg aisle. These are replacements for what I used up last week in chili con carne and lentil soup.
  • I bought an eye of the round roast and asked the Meat Department butcher to cut it into 2-inch chunks for me. This went into a crock pot this morning to make an Easy Beef Stew.
  • I bought decaf green tea in a bulk package. This stocks me up for my favorite hot beverage.
  • I bought a favorite whole grain cereal with dates and pecans. This is a refreshing afternoon or evening snack with 1% milk.
  • I bought on-sale whole grain pasta in two different shapes. When this favorite brand is on sale, I stock up.
  • I bought grapefruit-flavored seltzer water in 12-ounce cans in the Beverage Aisle. When I head out in the car, this is my go-to for staying well hydrated. Otherwise, I drink from a bulk seltzer container at home.
  • I bought a variety of Dairy Department items such as plain yogurt, Greek vanilla yogurt, 1% cottage cheese, and sliced provolone cheese. These are basics in my kitchen.

Your Grocery Cart Fill-Up

Grocery shopping is a universal and ongoing chore. So, why not make it more efficient and more nutritious? My example above of a grocery cart fill-up will be something you can learn from, hopefully. Take it step-by-step and master a new aisle of the store week-by-week. My free report is about nutritious meal planning so please take advantage of it. On facebook, I give a tip about good nutrition every day.

How do you get prepared for a nutritious grocery cart fill-up?

Meal Planning with a Paper Plate

Meal planning paper plate

A tasty and balanced dinner can be planned on a paper plate!

Step 1: Learn the skills of meal planning

A super important set of meal planning skills that I teach to all my clients helps them become more organized and less stressed in their kitchens. And, believe it or not, my lesson to them relies on a practical, simple model – the paper plate! Not only is a paper plate easy to find and cheap, but it makes meal planning like doing a puzzle instead of doing confusing homework.

Step 2: Pick out a food, like chicken, to anchor your meal plan 

I would have to say that chicken is probably the #1 favorite anchor to everyone’s meal plan. Take a look at this blog where I describe how to roast a whole chicken as well as sensible meals to use up the leftover, cooked chicken. After adding chicken to your meal plan as shown in the example here, then it’s time to move on to your sides.

Step 3: Add sides to balance your meal plan

Side dishes are what will round-out your meal. So, spend some time thinking of what will taste great and also nourish your body well. It’s nice to include a starchy vegetable, or whole grain, on your meal plan as well as a non-starchy vegetable. In the example above, the sweet potato is a starchy vegetable and the snow peas are a non-starchy vegetable. Done.

Step 4: Finish your meal plan with fruit for dessert

A sweet fruit is the perfect dessert for every meal. Not only that, but it balances the meal’s nutrition for your body. Seasonal fruits are great choices for a meal plan, and do mix it up with a fruit salad when you have time. For a special occasion, here are some desserts made with less sugar. Or, try featuring a fruit in your special occasion dessert with homemade blueberry crisp!

Step 5: Add a sensible drink to complete your meal plan

To complete your meal, make a sensible and simple drink choice. Water, 1% milk, plain or herb tea, or black coffee are all good ones. To maximize nutrition, make the dinner table a ‘no soft drink zone.’ This effort will pay off big when you take the kids to their dentist and doctor appointments.

Meal Planning with a Paper Plate is Nutrition Magic

If you are looking for some nutrition magic for yourself and those you love, it’s time to try meal planning with a paper plate. Buy a package of paper plates, get out some markers, and fire up a meal planning party. The kids and teens in your family might surprise you at how this grabs their attention and creativity. And, by planning, their opinion will also be heard. Try it, and let me know how it goes. My services are available in the Winston-Salem, NC area and I’m ready to give you a hands-on lesson with meal planning! Or, outside Winston-Salem, join me on Facebook for daily tips on meal planning, smart grocery shopping and more!

What meal will you plan first?


Corn pancakes

Homemade corn pancakes are one option for dinner.

Is it Breakfast or Is it Dinner?

It’s both! Breakfast means the morning meal. Dinner means the evening meal. So, why not flip the clock and eat breakfast foods for dinner? Breakfast-for-dinner seems to be a well-liked solution for singles, families with kids, and busy professionals and so I recommend it frequently to my private clients. The time spent cooking is typically short, the side items are simple, and the flavor results are truly satisfying. Here is an earlier blog about healthy breakfast recipes to help get you started. The recipe at the left, Homemade Corn Pancakes, is one that may fit your breakfast-for-dinner menu, too.

3 Breakfast-for-Dinner Ideas to Try

  • Homemade Corn Pancakes, Greek yogurt, Cut-up melon or apples
  • Scrambled Egg Wrap on Whole Wheat Tortilla, Pan-fried Pork Tenderloin slices, Orange
  • Strawberry Smoothie, Oatmeal with Pecans or Walnuts, Turkey Sausage

Light Dinners are Easy Dinners

Whether you’re new to cooking at home, or a seasoned veteran, taking it easy in your kitchen at dinner time is a sensible way to wind down. Eating more lightly in the evening has many benefits, such as improving your sleep and helping you not to overdo your daily calorie budget. Especially for those who sit down to dinner after 6:30 or 7 pm, a lighter meal is normally more comfortable for the body. So, pick up a jump-start resource at my EStore like a menu planning book or recipe book. And, remember to keep dinner simple & eat slowly for the most enjoyment.

What will be on your breakfast-for-dinner menu?

3 Easy Ways to Eat Fall Apples!

Fall apples

Fall apples are full of crunch, flavor & fiber.

Apples are Full of Good Nutrition!

Next time you bite into a 3-inch diameter, fresh & crunchy fall apple, here’s what your body will get: 90 calories; 0 fat; 0 sodium; 20-25 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 0 protein. But, that’s not all. Antioxidants in apples are super good for vascular health and they can help keep your brain young & healthy along with the rest of your body.

3 Easy Ways to Eat Fall Apples!

  1. Dip them: Pick out any variety of apple, cut it into eighths, and dip it. There are many choices of dip such as hummus, peanut butter, sunflower butter, almond butter, or whipped cream cheese.
  2. Layer them: If your sandwich needs a makeover, then try thin slices of apple either in place of or in addition to the lettuce. You’ll be amazed how much flavor it adds.
  3. Stir fry them: This may sound weird but please give it a try. Slice or dice any variety of apple and add it into your stir fry. The touch of sweetness will add to the overall flavor mix and it may even get the kids to try an extra bite of vegetables.

Time to Get Going with Better Nutrition!

Start by filling a fruit bowl with fall apples and keeping it on the kitchen counter. Then, move forward with another step to better nutrition. And another. When you get going with better nutrition, you will feel better and begin achieving your health goals, little-by-little. Sign up for my free report now. And, check out my Estore for handy, affordable resources in meal planning and home recipes.

How will you eat your apples this fall? 

The Smell of Corn & Homemade Corn Pancakes Recipe!

Summer corn on the cob

There’s nothing as sweet and satisfying as summer corn-on-the-cob!

The Smell of Fresh Corn!

When I close my eyes, shuck fresh corn-on-the-cob, and take a big whiff — I am transported back to southeastern Pennsylvania where my family used to buy 12 ears for about 3 bucks from a local farm. It’s funny because most people would say that corn has a mild odor and maybe it does; but, the memories it stirs in me are clear and sweet!

The Nutrition of Fresh Corn!

Corn-on-the-cob is what’s called a starchy vegetable. That means most of its calories come from starch which is a type of carbohydrate. Great nutrition, yes, yet starchy in texture. One ear of corn without butter is about 80 calories, 17 grams carbohydrates, and 3 grams protein. Here is the Nutrition Facts label on corn, along with fun facts about cooking & freezing it off-the-cob, and 2 recipes!

Ana Ruth’s Fresh Corn Pancakes Recipe!

Blend all together at the low speed of your blender: 3-1/2 cups fresh corn off-the-cob (4 large ears;) 1/4 cup canola oil; 2 eggs; 1/4 cup honey; 1 cup flour; 1/3 cup plain yogurt; 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Cook pancakes in a flat pan with a little butter to prevent sticking. On medium heat, cook on side 1, about                 4-5 minutes until bubbles form all over the surface. Turn over and cook on side 2, about 4-5 minutes. Check for a nice golden, brown color on both sides before turning pancakes.

In-Season and Homemade!

When you’re trying to put together a meal plan for dinner, think about what’s in-season and how to make it homemade. If you try the fresh corn pancakes recipe above, you’ll taste a corn flavor like never before. For daily tips and handy homemade recipes, like my facebook page today!

Have you tried a Breakfast-for-Dinner meal with your family?

5 Tips for Healthy Back-to-School Lunch!

Back to school

Kids smile when they open a healthy & tasty lunch from home!

School Success is Linked to Nutrition Success

Parents and kids are getting fired-up for a new school year. There is so much to learn for everyone and, for parents, how to pack up a tasty and kid-pleasing lunch is one top priority.  Check out my earlier blog about school success and nutrition success going hand-in-hand. And, here are 5 tips to get parents going in the right direction from planning to grocery store to school cafeteria for your kids.

Tip #1: Make a weekly plan – before Monday morning. Set aside time to plan what you’ll need for 5 days of tasty, nutritious lunches for your kids. Try to include a fruit, vegetable, grain, protein and dairy food with some creative touches. Here are some easy ideas.

Tip #2: Make a grocery list for school lunch ingredients. Add on to your weekly, family grocery list or make a separate list. Bring your school age kids to the grocery store and get them shopping for school lunches – sticking to the pre-planned list.

Tip #3: Make time for lunch packing. Allow time to pack, whether it’s the night before or the morning of each school day. Usually, it’s less stressful to pack the night before.

Tip #4: Make food safety & the Earth priorities. Invest in a reusable lunch bag or bento box, water bottle and ice pack – and then use them day-after-day. Let your kids know they are helping the Earth at lunchtime.

Tip #5: Be a good nutrition role model. Kids watch their parents as they learn lifelong habits. Show your kids that good nutrition matters by putting healthy, balanced meals and snacks into action every day at home.

Life Success Goes Hand-in-Hand with Nutrition Success

Kids are inspired by caring parents to be their best selves. To be the inspiration you want for your kids, make a stand with good nutrition. As my parents used to say, Actions speak louder than words. So, be a role model who eats a healthy breakfast, packs up a healthy lunch, stocks up for healthy after-school snacks, and plans a balanced family dinner. Get going with my meal planning and recipe booklets at the EStore. And, be sure to sign up for my free report, too.

What will your school age kids enjoy in their school lunch bag this year?

How to Become a Vegetarian in 5 Easy Steps!

Vegetarian lunch

This vegetarian lunch is packed with good nutrition & filling!

How to Become a Vegetarian in 5 Easy Steps!

There’s a lot of talk these days about plant-based eating. Some of it has to do with being environmentally aware, some of it relates to keeping your heart in good shape, and some of it is basically ‘on trend.’ Becoming a vegetarian is actually different than eating in a plant-based kind of way. The vegetarian lifestyle means completely meatless and 365 days a year.

Become a Vegetarian in 5 Easy Steps

  1. Learn all you can. Vegetarian eating is not just taking meat/chicken/fish off your meal plate. It is planning for great flavors along with great nutrition and this takes some studying. For a jump start, call a local registered dietitian who can help you with the ins-and-outs of becoming a vegetarian and with how to put everything into an organized plan for you, personally.
  2. Taste new foods and try new combos. The easiest way to transform yourself into a vegetarian is to open your mind to new foods and different combinations. Step #1 is important because learning how to make vegetarian substitutions into your meals and snacks can be challenging. Plant-based protein foods such as soybeans, eggs, lentils, black beans, cheese and yogurt, nuts and seeds, are essentials. Also whole grains such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, farro and sorghum, supply high quality carbohydrates along with a small amount of protein.
  3. Write down your meal plans. Changing your nutrition to vegetarian-style goes more smoothly when you pre-plan. A one-week plan is simply your ‘road map’ to including proper nutrition meal-by-meal and day-by day. Push yourself to be creative at this step and think about fun combinations. For example:
  • Black bean burrito with lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, salsa and cilantro plus a fruit and yogurt parfait for dessert
  • Egg omelet filled with mushrooms, piece of whole grain toast or small bagel, steamed broccoli and fruit salad for dessert
  • Chili made with kidney & garbanzo beans – instead of beef – plus a large green salad topped with colorful veggies and nuts, and fruit for dessert.
  1. Celebrate Meatless Monday with family and friends. A great way to share your new vegetarian lifestyle with those you care about most is to have a party – potluck works well – where all the dishes are meatless. You can choose any day of the week that works or consider Meatless Monday, a national health campaign to help everyone eat nutritiously with more vegetables.
  1. Keep tabs on your energy level and overall health. When you make the shift to eating vegetarian, put a focus on how you feel. Eating adequate calories for your age, weight and height, along with a good night’s sleep, should give you a good energy level. If suddenly you feel tired and out-of-energy, then it’s smart to review your meals and snacks with a registered dietitian. It’s also important to get a doctor’s appointment 6-12 months after starting to eat vegetarian style. Ask for blood work that includes nutrients that may be inadequate when you switch to meatless. These include: iron, zinc, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D. If any of these essential nutrients is low, then a good quality multivitamin is typically recommended.

Know Your Best Resources

When you become a vegetarian, reliable resources are key to your success. Here are 3 to try:

What’s your favorite vegetarian recipe?

Trying New Foods & Recipe for Squid Stew!


Squid stew

Squid stew is fun to try!

Trying New Foods

Are you a food risk taker? Do you like trying something new? I’m going to put myself into the ‘yes’ column on these questions and I’m going to nudge you to do the same. Making the most of new food experiences, including what you eat, opens up new flavors, textures, and top-notch nutrition!

Trying New Seafood

Seafood in general has a lot going for it. Salmon and shrimp are the top 2 choices of seafood for Americans. Did you know? Think about how many times you’ve enjoyed these two favorites and how many times you’ve cooked them. Probably quite a few. Squid, on the other hand, may be a seafood choice that you’ve rarely cooked or never even considered. Squid is actually a powerful source of protein with 13 grams in an average, 3 ounce serving. Along with the protein, the same serving has minimal carbs, minimal fat, minimal sodium, and only about 80 calories, and the bonus is nearly 20% of the daily value of vitamin B12.

Recipe for Squid Stew

To make a new or, to some people, weird food like squid something you want to try, add it to foods and flavors you already like. The Squid Stew Recipe here combines many favorite Mediterranean ingredients and flavors with simple, frozen squid rings that add a seafood flair.

Serves 4-6

  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves Garlic, left whole
  • 1 or 1-1/2 pound Squid, fresh or frozen – I buy a bag of frozen squid rings at the grocery store
  • 1 cup White wine – Or, feel free to substitute broth
  • 1 can, 28 ounces Diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 Eggplant, skin on, diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup Frozen peas
  • Salt & Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  1. Heat oil in large skillet. Add chopped onions and saute lightly, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add garlic cloves and saute 1 minute longer.
  3. Add squid and saute while stirring, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add wine (or broth), tomatoes, diced eggplant, frozen peas, salt, pepper, parsley and basil (optional).
  5. Stir everything together and cook at a simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes.

Trying New Foods is Fun!

Variety is truly the ‘spice of life’ and this expression definitely applies to trying new foods. Push yourself. Cook with your friends or family. Have a party. All of these are great opportunities to stretch yourself and to eat nutritiously. Squid stew may become your new favorite recipe but how will you know if you never try it? Join me on facebook for daily tips about all kinds of foods, or get my free report called 3 Tasty Menus for Busy Families and Everyone.

What new seafood will you try?




Best Deals at the Grocery Store

Grocery bag 'deals'

Do you buy any of these ‘deals’ at the grocery store?

Best Deals at the Grocery Store – A New Way of Thinking about It

If it were up to me, I’d ditch the word ‘deal’ when talking about saving money at the grocery store. Why? Because your personal health is priceless, that’s why. Getting top quality nutrition – within your budget –  is the real deal, the best deal at the grocery store.  For some handy background information, take a look at these 10 tips to guide your food choices to better physical and mental well being.

Best Deals at the Grocery Store – Tips to Get You Organized

  • Plan grocery shopping into your week
  • Do your homework by checking the weekly feature foods at your favorite stores
  • Write down your shopping list after coming up with your weekly menus
  • Include the ingredients for meals you plan to cook on your list
  • Add sensible snack foods to your list, like yogurt, apples, and nuts
  • Make your trip to the grocery store and stick to your list
  • At home, put away your food and begin prepping your menu plan

Best Deals at the Grocery Store – Advice for Your Shopping Trip

  • Fruit is sweet, easy and versatile so don’t miss it. Fresh, canned, frozen all belong in your cart.
  • Vegetables are quick, crunchy when raw and colorful so go for it. Fresh, canned, frozen are all good options.
  • Whole grains are energy-foods. Whole wheat cereal, barley, oats, old-fashioned popcorn all taste great
  • Fish is super tasty for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Try a new kind every week.
  • Eggs are delicious and so easy to cook. Try an egg burrito or simple omelet for dinner or weekend lunch.
  • Plain Yogurt is the start to a smoothie, layered parfait or pre-exercise snack.
  • Frozen foods are super tasty time-savers. Think fruit, vegetable, or soy burger for your freezer.

Best Deals at the Grocery Store  – Learning for You!

Learning about what to put in your grocery cart takes time. Join a learning-journey with resources like my facebook page, my blog, and my free report for ongoing newsletter. Connect with the kind of tips and advice that will help you feel better, cook at home more, and pass along inspiration to your family, children, grandchildren, and friends. Become a good nutrition leader today!

What are the best (nutrition) deals you shop for at the grocery store?






Easy Mediterranean Style Meals!

Omelet, Mediterranean

This light & tasty meal is very Mediterranean!

Do You Need a Sensible Meal Solution?

  • Stressed about finding time to cook on a weeknight?
  • Concerned about eating well?
  • Confused about making a fresh start this month, and every month?
  • Worried about supporting your busy lifestyle and doing the right thing for your family?

Welcome to the challenges that just about everyone faces these days. We want more energy, stronger bodies, and better health. We want it fast and we want it easy. A sensible solution is hard to find when we are suspicious of media hype about the next new diet, bogged down trying to interpret labels at the grocery store and feeling unsure of our skills to plan and prepare nutritious meals in our own kitchen.

Mediterranean is a Sensible Solution!

Mediterranean Style is a way to cut through hype and concentrate on what matters on grocery store food labels. It’s an eating strategy that will help you feel comfortable about planning basic, easy meals to take the pressure off. It’s a way of life that feeds your body with energy, strength and whole health.

10 Quick & Easy Mediterranean Style Meals!

Here’s your starting point for success in the kitchen, Mediterranean Style. Make a grocery list from the meals below and then give it a try at home. Enjoy new flavors, combinations and textures. Fortunately, today we can find nearly all of these foods in our American grocery stores and farm markets. So, we can relax more at meal time.

Tip: Keep on hand for seasoning: McCormick’s Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder, Other Seasoning Grinders you like, Tabasco, Black Pepper Grinder, Jar of Basil Pesto, Fresh Lemons or Limes

Tip: If you are cooking for one, then notice the items marked with * come in a single-serving pack/pouch. If you are cooking for more than one, you may get a better price when you buy a larger container.

  1. Minute Rice 5-Grain or Brown/Wild Rice Cup* + Tuna/Salmon in a pouch* or Canned oysters/sardines + Dried Apricots
  2. Canned Chick Peas + Whole grain tortilla wrap with Sliced Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Red Onion, Arugula, Flavored Light Cream Cheese + Blueberries
  3. Omelet with Fresh Herbs + Whole grain crackers or Whole wheat pita bread + Yogurt* with berries and cinnamon (see photo above)
  4. Canned Lentil Soup* + Cheese sandwich with Leaf Lettuce and Tomato on whole grain bread/wrap + Kiwi fruit
  5. Canned Chicken* + Minute Rice 5-Grain or Brown/Wild Rice Cup* + Fresh spinach + Canned peaches or pears*
  6. Vegetarian Pizza, ready to heat, with Green Salad or Coleslaw + Orange
  7. Vegetarian Refried Beans spread on Corn Tortillas + Cheese* + Salsa + Grapes
  8. Hummus* with Raw Veggies to Dip* + Cherry tomatoes + Peanuts/Mixed Nuts/Any Nuts*
  9. Peanut or Almond Butter* with Banana + Oatmeal cup* + Vanilla Yogurt*
  10. Canned Kidney or Black Beans + Tomato sauce* + Chili seasoning mix + Avocado + Seasonal Melon

Cooking in the Mediterranean Style!

Mediterranean is one of the most delicious and healthful cuisines of the world. Cooking in the Mediterranean style is something everyone can learn to do. How? By signing up for a Mediterranean Style Nutrition Skills Boot Camp. You will feel better as you learn, taste, and enjoy.

Which quick and easy Mediterranean meal will you make? 

Sheet Pan Dinners Save Time and CleanUp!

Sheet pan dinner

Spice-rubbed lean pork chops with roasted potatoes & root vegetables taste great!

Sheet Pan Dinners Save Time & Fuss

Do you own a sheet pan? If you do, then say hello to Sheet Pan Dinners! With my motto of keeping it simple in the kitchen, this technique of making a quick and tasty dinner is hard to beat. Sheet pan dinners help you keep it simple because they’re:

  • Easy to plan
  • Easy to prep
  • Easy to cook
  • Easy to clean up

Examples of Sheet Pan Dinner Combinations

Take your choice of these options to save time when your hungry family asks, What’s for dinner?

  • Lean Meat: Lean pork loin chops + BBQ spice rub + root vegetables like sweet potatoes, white potatoes, turnips, beets
  • Poultry: Skinless chicken breast or thigh, or turkey tenderloin fillet + lemon pepper rub + Brussels sprouts, red onions and butternut squash chunks
  • Fish: Salmon fillet + teriyaki marinade or sauce + baby carrots, sweet onion and cabbage chunks
  • Vegetarian: All Vegetables! Chunks of sweet potatoes, parsnips, colorful sweet Bell peppers, onions, green beans, broccoli

How to Cook a Sheet Pan Dinner

  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees & get out your sheet pan
  • Cut up your vegetables, or buy them at the grocery store already cut up. Scatter them in a single layer on the sheet pan, leaving room on one end for your chicken/turkey, lean meat or fish. Spray them lightly with vegetable oil spray, then dust with salt and pepper. Roast on the sheet pan for 15 minutes.
  • Rub or add sauce to your poultry, lean meat or fish. Add this to the open-end of the sheet pan in a single layer, place pan into the oven again and lower heat to 350 degrees.
  • Check after 20 minutes and stay alert to the doneness of your poultry, lean meat or fish. The roasted vegetables will now be tender and cooked, too.

Remember: Always check for safely cooked temperatures of poultry, meat and fish.

What Else Cooks on a Sheet Pan?

Quick and easy cooking suits everyone’s busy lifestyle, right? Here is an adventurous twist on pizza and you cook it on a sheet pan. If you are looking for a fresh start with meal planning to feel great and stay healthy, then sign up for my FREE 3 Tasty Menus for Busy Families and Everyone. Good nutrition is your path to personal success!

What will you cook as a sheet pan dinner?





Easy, Creamy Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash soup

This soup is rich, creamy, filling and packed with tasty nutrition!

Soup is Healthy Comfort Food

In the winter, or anytime, homemade soup is hard to beat. For decades now, I’ve been a lover of soup and have spent many happy hours in my kitchen making soup. Of course, I’ve also spent many meals enjoying soup’s amazing flavors. Comfort food is different for everyone and, for me, homemade soup is easily #1. Read my tips for getting organized in your kitchen to make homemade soup. You can do this!


Easy, Creamy Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup

Remember:  Ingredients and amounts in a recipe are what go onto your grocery shopping list!

Makes 4-6 bowls of soup

  • 1 large Butternut squash, about 6 x 7 inches long and 3-4 inches wide
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil, separated
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 Onion, large, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups Vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • To taste Salt & Pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons Nutmeg, ground (learn how to grate it yourself here)
  1. Carefully cut butternut squash in half, top to bottom. Scoop out seeds (these can also be roasted, by the way.) Place squash on a sheet pan, cut surface up. Brush the cut surface with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Roast (bake) in oven at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. While squash is roasting, add 2 teaspoons olive oil to a soup pot over medium-high heat. Toss in chopped onions and stir while they cook, soften and become golden colored, about 6-8 min. Add garlic to same pot and continue to stir-cook with onions, about 2 more minutes.
  3. Add vegetable broth and water to onions-garlic in the soup pot and reduce heat to medium. Cover pan with a lid and allow to simmer (very slow boil) for 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. Scoop cooled butternut squash out of its skin and add it to the soup pot.
  5. Very carefully, using either an immersion blender or regular blender jar, puree soup in batches and then return it to the soup pot.
  6. Return soup pot to the stove and simmer again, for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If texture is too thick, then add 1/2 cup more water.
  7. Season soup with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste and readjust seasoning.

Put Soup on Your Table

This Easy, Creamy Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup is a super starting point for a hearty meal at home. To balance out your soup meal, add a side salad with spinach/1% cottage cheese/tomatoes/cucumbers/vinaigrette dressing. Or add a quick and easy slice of pizza with lots of vegetables on top. Meal planning is step #1 for less stress, more nutrition, and a happier family dinner experience. So, get started today with my FREE 3 Tasty Menus for Busy Families and Everyone.

How does homemade soup rate on your comfort food favorites list?


Mediterranean Style Nutrition!


The eggplant is a vegetable with tasty Mediterranean flavor!

Mediterranean Style Nutrition and the Science Behind It

I used to think that foods from the Mediterranean were exotic, hard to find and difficult to cook. Then, I started a personal challenge to learn more, cook more and really get to know these delicious and nutritious foods. Boy, was I wrong! Mediterranean style foods are sensible, everyday foods, they are easy to find and they cook up easily. Their health promoting qualities are amazing as you can read in this science-based article. But, best of all, they taste heavenly!

12 Mediterranean Style Foods for Your Kitchen

To prepare Mediterranean style foods, you may need to re-stock your pantry, fridge and freezer. A well-stocked kitchen is the first step to success with everyday meals and snacks, after all. Here are 12 starter foods to begin transitioning to a Mediterranean style kitchen:

  1. Lemons
  2. Leafy Greens like spinach and kale
  3. Fresh Herbs like basil, parsley and mint
  4. Garlic
  5. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes
  6. Extra virgin olive oil
  7. Pasta
  8. Lentils
  9. Beans and Chickpeas
  10. Walnuts
  11. Fatty fish like salmon and sardines
  12. Yogurt

Mediterranean Style Nutrition Learning

The best way to adopt a new, healthy lifestyle path is to immerse yourself in learning and then to practice what you learn. Market Basket Nutrition’s education team is proud to offer its one-of-a-kind, small learning group program called, Mediterranean Style Nutrition Skills Boot Camp, in Winston-Salem, NC. The benefits for you and your family include the enjoyment of delicious, homemade meals at home, flavors that pop for breakfast, lunch and dinner, new foods to taste with joy, and better future health. What’s not to like about that?! My 3 Tasty Menus for Busy Families and Everyone are free and my Tasty Series e-books will provide you with tools for your healthier meals, too!

Which Mediterranean foods appeal to you most?

A New Year’s Nudge & 7 Options

Grocery store & sweet peppers

Make the grocery store your friend in the New Year!

What’s Your New Year’s Nudge?

Every New Year is a nudge for making ourselves better. For some, it is better at playing the piano; for some it is better at saving money; for some, it is better at managing personal nutrition or trying a new exercise. I’ve decided to get better at yoga in the New Year because it will keep me flexible and strong. Even though I’m a beginning yogi, I am determined to get better at it, step by step, day by day.

There are so many ways to launch yourself to ‘better-ness’ one step at a time in the New Year. Here are 7 options to think over — and perhaps you’ll find the determination in yourself to begin  practicing one right now!

7 Options for the New Year

  1. Eat a piece of fruit everyday at breakfast.
  2. Drink a big glass of water before and after you exercise.
  3. Spend 15-30 minutes writing down a weekly meal plan before you write a shopping list.
  4. Set aside more time for your grocery shopping trip and think about every choice.
  5. Make dinner a more balanced meal that includes plenty of green vegetables.
  6. Talk with your kids about why it’s important to eat colorful, healthy foods.
  7. Try a new, colorful fruit or vegetable – with the entire family – once a week.

Thank You & Happy New Year!

My clients are an ongoing inspiration to me. They are determined to improve their personal nutrition as a way to prevent health issues and feel better every day. To all of you – many thanks for trusting me as your registered dietitian! To all of you – Happy New Year! May the nudge of the New Year give you even more resolve so that you reach your ultimate goals! Start with one step, such as receiving my free 3 Tasty Menus for Busy Families.

Which option will nudge you this New Year?


Holidays with Flavor!

recipe book

Healthy recipe ingredients make flavorful recipes!

Smart Choices for Holidays with Flavor!

The fall & winter holidays are here and coping with all the food occasions can be  rough. Here are 3 tips to help you enjoy the season with tons of flavor & without going overboard on rich appetizers, desserts and…stuffing.

  • Thanksgiving Dinner Tip: Don’t come to the holiday table over-hungry. Have a light meal no more than 4 hours before the feast. It will prevent you from over-eating and regretting it. Really.
  • Christmas or Hannukah Dinner Tip: Try making a lighter version of traditional recipes. For example, substitute lower fat dairy products for sour cream and cream cheese, use less butter and try honey instead of refined sugar.
  • Holiday Party Tip: Get a grip on appetizers by taking a small plate, filling it once and then standing away from the food table to chat and laugh with friends and family.

Smart Ways to Stay Active Over the Holidays!

A sensible way to offset the extra calories that greet us at holiday time is with physical activity. Plus, staying active these next couple months can really help offset holiday stress, too. Here are 3 tips to help you get moving…and stay moving:

  • Take a fresh air walk before dinner
  • Take a walk around the shopping mall after dinner
  • Turn up the music and dance at home, anytime

A Plan for Holidays with Flavor!

Holiday flavors come from making a simple meal plan with simple & tasty ingredients. My free 3 weeknight menu plans will give you a start at everyday good nutrition. Then, put your holiday twist in place with meaningful recipes to match your spirit for the season.

What’s your tip for having healthy holiday meals with great flavor?

Healthify Your Dinner!

Pumpkin Mac

This delicious Pumpkin Mac and Cheese bowl-dinner will amaze you! The recipe is below.

This guest blog is by Kaylie Teague. To read Kaylie’s earlier blog, Healthify Your Breakfast, click here. To read Kaylie’s blog, Healthify Your Lunch, click here.

Healthify Your Dinner

Dinner is often difficult to plan or thrown together last minute after a long day at work or school. Here are some ways you can healthify your meal and become re-inspired for dinnertime!

Spaghetti and marinara sauce →spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and veggies

Side of mashed potatoes with butter →side of baked sweet potato with almond butter

Stir fry with white rice →stir fry with brown rice or quinoa

Lasagna with pasta noodles →lasagna with zucchini noodles

Side of French fries →side of baked sweet potato fries or kale chips

Fish ‘n Chips →grilled fish with baked potato

Side salad with iceberg lettuce and croutons →spinach salad with veggies and almonds

Delivery pepperoni pizza →veggie pizza with store-bought whole wheat crust

Mac and cheese →whole wheat pasta with low-fat cheese and pureed pumpkin

Fried chicken →baked breaded chicken

Here are some recipes to get you started!

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

1 ½ c whole wheat pasta

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp flour

1/3 c milk of choice

Pinch of nutmeg

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/3-1/2 c canned pumpkin

¼ c low fat cheddar cheese plus more for sprinkling

Cook pasta according to directions. In a separate saucepan, whisk together flour, butter, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin over medium-high heat until thick and slightly bubbly. Add ¼ c cheese and stir until mixed thoroughly.

Drain pasta from water once finished cooking. Pour pasta into pumpkin-cheese mixture and stir together. Sprinkle more cheese on when serving.

Kale Chips

Recipe from Oh She Glows

½ bunch kale leaves

½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic powder

¾ tsp chili powder

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 300°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove kale leaves from the stems and tear leaves into rough pieces. Wash and dry thoroughly. Add kale leaves to a large bowl, massage oil in, and add seasonings. Toss to combine. Spread kale onto the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan, and then bake for another 12-15 minutes. Let the kale cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet and enjoy!

Kaylie Teague is a registered dietitian intern at UNC-Greensboro in North Carolina. Her blog is skinnymuffinrecipes.com.

Fish is a Good Fat Food!

Italian Cod

Italian Baked Cod is an easy meal to make! The flaky cod is hiding under the sauce.

Good Fat Foods!

Good fats are definitely worth paying attention to. First of all, their flavors are great. Second of all, they are simple foods without additives, and third, they can keep your heart and brain healthy in a big way. Good fats are what are technically called unsaturated fats and they come from plants or fish. You have lots of options in choosing good fat foods so this is good news.

Fish is a Good Fat Food!

Fish are a fun study nutritionally. Some are so lean that they burst with lots of protein and have almost no fat at all. Other fish are not so lean and they burst with good fat along with protein. If you look at the color of your fish, a darker color normally means the fish has more good fat in it. White colored fish has less good fat in it, so cooking and eating it along with good fat foods is a smart idea. Check my tips below.

Meal Ideas with Good Fat Foods!

Here are some tips on getting your good fat as you enjoy your fish meal. I have put the good fat foods in italics:

  • Saute lean flounder in olive oil
  • Broil lean tilapia with a light coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of dill
  • Grill salmon with lemon juice
  • Cook cod in an Italian sauce with olives and olive oil (see picture above)
  • Try a nut-crusted fish fillet at a restaurant
  • Make tuna salad with mashed avocado instead of mayo
  • Try sardines canned in tomato sauce or oil

A Good Fat Action Plan!

Eating more good fats – to protect your heart and brain – is super smart. To get going, add good fats to your grocery shopping list every trip and keep them in plain view in your pantry. Then, use good fats in your meals and snacks every single day. Mediterranean meals are so delicious and they are rich in good fats. Begin mixing the Mediterranean lifestyle into your life now.


Celebrate National Whole Grains Month!

Whole grains

Clockwise: whole grain lasagne,whole wheat flour, brown basmati rice, steel cut oats, quinoa

This guest blog is by Danielle Cushing.


To celebrate National Whole Grain Month, let’s figure out whole grains, where to find them, and how to use them.

What is a whole grain?

In short, whole grains are more nutrient-rich than refined grains. Refined grains lose some of their minerals, B vitamins, and antioxidants during processing. Whole grains retain all of these and are also higher in fiber and high-quality protein. For more information about whole grains, check out the Whole Grains Council.

Where in the grocery store will I find whole grains?

1. Many of your whole grains will come from the bread aisle. Look for 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat breads, English muffins, tortillas, and pizza crust.

2. You will also find whole grains in the dry goods aisle. Brown rice and wild rice are excellent and inexpensive whole grain options. Here you will also find barley, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and buckwheat noodles.

3. Don’t forget the cereal! Bran flakes, Cheerios, and shredded wheat are excellent examples of widely available whole grain cereals. Rolled oats, steel-cut oats, and whole cornmeal are great choices for hot cereals, but beware of instant varieties, which often have a lot of added sugar or salt.

4. Popcorn makes a healthy whole grain snack. Look for options with less butter, sugar, or salt.

How can I add whole grains to family meals?

  •  Switch from sugary cereals to whole grain cereals and add fresh fruit for natural sweetness.
  •  Pack lunches with sandwiches or wraps made on 100% whole wheat bread or whole grain tortillas.
  •  Keep individual-size bags of popcorn or whole grain crackers at work for a midday snack.
  •  Prepare cold salads using brown or wild rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, whole grain pasta – the options are endless! I love this fall salad of Whole Grains with Cranberries, Squash, and Pecans.
  •  Add quinoa to stir-fry veggies and soups and other dishes. Try these Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.
  •  Bake with whole wheat flour (for sturdy baked goods, like pizza dough and bread) or whole wheat pasty flour (for lighter baked goods, like cookies and cakes). Apple-Oat Bread will be delicious this time of year.

Which whole grains will you try?


Danielle Cushing is a registered dietitian in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her blog is www.mybottomlessboyfriend.com.

Mix Up Your Meals in September!

Foil cooking

Foil cooking on the grill is fun & no clean up!

In September Let’s Celebrate:

  • Fruits and Veggies More Matters Month
  • Eat Chicken Month
  • National Mushroom Month
  • Whole Grains Month

With Meals Like These:

Entrée Salad: Spinach + Soy Beans (Edamame) + Dried Cranberries + Grilled Chicken + Cooked/Chilled Quinoa

Soup & Sandwich: Cup of Butternut Squash Soup & Whole Wheat Pita stuffed with Grilled or Sautéed Portabella Mushroom + Tomatoes + Sprouts + Cucumbers

Foil Packets on the Grill: Lightly spray a sheet of aluminum foil with oil, then add cut-up  broccoli, onion, zucchini or yellow squash. Sprinkle with herbs, salt, pepper. Seal each packet and cook on the grill.

Kabobs: Thread a skewer with chicken cubes, fresh pineapple, green Bell peppers and mushrooms. Brush with a favorite sauce and grill, turning to cook evenly.

Picnic Finger foods: Cut-up cantaloupe, cut-up watermelon, celery sticks, one-bite tomatoes, tiny cheese sandwiches, chicken salad, popcorn (it’s a whole grain!), crunchy breadsticks & hummus, yogurt, nuts mixed with raisins, grapes.

 Fall is here — how will you mix up your meals?


Less Sugary Dessert Ideas!

Less sugary dessertsDo You Like Dessert?

There are very few people I know who don’t like dessert. And, quite often, sweet desserts are a huge issue for my clients. So, what’s the solution? We work together and discuss how to cut back on sugar, one strategy being less sugary dessert ideas. It’s not just my clients, though. On a personal note, my son adores sweets and so I’ve been on the watch for less sugary dessert ideas for years!

Here is my list of less sugary dessert ideas. If you doubt that what’s on my list will satisfy your sweet tooth then at least try it before you ditch it. I’m pretty sure you’ll take away a couple of new ideas to eat less sugar as well as to eat better nutrition.

Have Dessert – with these Less Sugary Dessert Ideas!

  • Nuts are an especially satisfying dessert. Try all kinds of nuts for great flavor, fiber and fun.
  • Fresh fruits are sweet and juicy as dessert. Try seasonal fruits as fresh, or canned or frozen & thawed.
  • Pumpkin pie is the least sugary pie dessert. My pumpkin pie recipe is deliciously crust-less and made in the blender, so it’s low in calories and easy, easy, easy.
  • Yogurt-Fruit parfaits are a special dessert treat. Get out a clear, fancy glass and be creative with my easy recipe.
  • Cookies made from scratch recipes can be less sugary. Find a recipe and then adjust it. For example, cut the sugar amount in half and the result will be fine.

Plan Healthier Meals with Sensible Dessert!

Feeling satisfied with a less sugary dessert is 90% practice. Give the above ideas a try and get some help with my eBooks that feature menus and recipes to help you plan and practice. You’ll feel better and feel better about your choices once practice becomes a new and improved habit!

Which less sugary dessert will you choose first?

Bite Size Foods are Fun & Easy!

Mini muffins

Mini oat bran muffins are a perfect size for all appetites!

Bite Size is the Right Size!

When I was a kid, I loved bite size foods. Naturally, they were the same size as my hands and my appetite. Now that I’m an adult, my hands are larger but I still love bite size. Watch for trendy food options these days that are bite size, and take it from a nutritionist — the small portion is a big plus!

Bite Size Options!

Muffins: To make bite size, spoon out your extra batter in a mini muffin pan like I did and just fill the empty spaces with some water so the pan won’t burn. Or, up your output and use a recipe for 12 regular size muffins but get 18-24 out of the mini muffin pan. Here’s my awesome Pumpkin Muffin Recipe to try it out.

Meatloaf: Here’s a cool way to portion-out dinner meatloaf.  The recipe for Meatloaf Muffins with Barbecue Sauce is written in a family-friendly way to get kids cooking with mom, dad or an older sibling. It freezes and reheats great as well.

Breakfast Eggs: This can be a huge time saver in the morning. Think of it – make several days of breakfast at once and then dine on a nutritious and filling morning meal by simply re-warming. This recipe for Egg Muffins has sausage, spinach and cheese in it so make it per the recipe, adjust to a vegetarian style or change up the green veggie.

Other Bite Size!

There are so many bite size foods that just come that way or require a tiny bit of preparation. Enjoy tasty and healthy snacks, desserts, bag lunches and picnic fixings you can create from these: grape tomatoes; grapes; baby carrots; nuts; Edamame aka soybeans; cheese cubes; pretzel ‘fish’; dark chocolate kisses; watermelon balls; hard boiled eggs; radishes; olives. The list goes on and on!

Make Bite Size the Right Size!

Measuring out portions of your foods can be boring and too much work. So, try adopting a bite size strategy. Learn from my tips above, make a recipe and get a grip on what it means to eat moderately for great enjoyment and great energy! My nutritional counseling services may be the spark you need to improve your personal nutrition and my menu planning/recipe ebooks may launch you to a healthier you!

What bite size food is your favorite?

Healthify Your Breakfast!

2 ingredient cookies

Try our 2-ingredient cookie as part of breakfast!

This is a guest blog by Kaylie Chrismon.

Have you ever wondered how healthy your breakfast is and what you can do to make it a better choice? Here are 10 suggestions for swaps and improvements:

  • Quick, prepackaged oatmeal →overnight oats
  • Sugary cereal →high fiber cereal
  • Flavored yogurt →plain yogurt with berries, nuts, and cinnamon
  • White bread with butter →whole wheat bread with almond butter or mashed avocado
  • Bagel with cream cheese →whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter and banana slices
  • Grits with butter →cooked quinoa with local honey, fruit, and cinnamon
  • Bacon, sausage, and eggs →turkey bacon, turkey sausage, and 1 egg / 1 egg white scrambled eggs
  • French toast →whole wheat pancakes with fruit and nonfat yogurt
  • 3 egg omelet with sausage and cheese →1 egg / 2 egg white omelet with veggies and low-fat cheese
  • Breakfast pastry →2 ingredient cookies

Not sure where to start? Here are a few recipes to get you going!

Overnight Oats:

1/3 c old-fashioned oats

1/3 c nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/3 c milk of choice

Combine all in a microwave-safe container and refrigerate overnight. Heat for 60 seconds in the morning and top with fresh fruit and nut butter!

2-Ingredient Cookies:

1 ripe banana

¾ c oats

Optional: dark chocolate chips or dried fruit

Mash banana in a bowl and combine with oats. Mold mixture into cookie shapes and bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes.

Take the Challenge! When you healthify your breakfast then you are powering your body with fuel for better health.

Kaylie Chrismon is a registered dietitian intern at UNC-Greensboro in North Carolina. Her blog is skinnymuffinrecipes.com.

The Easiest Dinner To Make!

Baked chicken

Baking a chicken in the oven is super easy!

The Easiest Dinner to Make

Are you in a time-crunch? Does it stress you out? Do you wish you could figure out how to put a healthy and satisfying dinner on your family’s table, day-after-day? With all the demands of a ‘normal’ day, here is an easy-to-the-table solution I hope you’ll try. Take a deep breath, nice and slow, and then get to this plan for the easiest dinner to make!

The Menu: Baked Whole Chicken with Rice or Peas, Baby Carrots & Cut up Cantaloupe

The Grocery Shopping List:

Tip: Look into your dry pantry and fridge before going to the grocery store. If you’ve already got any of the items on this list, then don’t buy them. Use what you already have!


  • Whole chicken to bake at home, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dry herbs such as basil, oregano; 350 degrees; 1-1/4 hours (or buy an already-cooked Rotisserie Chicken to save time)
  • Minute Rice that cooks in 10 minutes, white or brown
  • Baby carrots in a small bag
  • Cantaloupe to peel and cut up at home (or buy the already cut-up cantaloupe to save time)

More Easy Meals to Make

Planning easy and healthy meals isn’t easy. But, it is possible with on-target resources. For starters, here is my free report called, ‘3 Tasty Meals for Busy Families’ — download yours today!

Eggs Make an Easy & Tasty Meal!

Egg & veggie fritatta

Egg fritatta is easy to make on a busy weeknight!

Eggs are Easy!

Eggs make an easy and tasty meal when you add a slice of whole grain toast and a colorful fruit salad. As a kid, I loved to decorate eggs and then find them in my Easter basket. I also loved to find them on my breakfast plate, scrambled, or in my French toast, or made into a deviled egg at a backyard picnic. It’s so easy and affordable with eggs, and most everyone I know has a dozen in their fridge at all times.

Eggs are Nutritious!

All year long, eggs are a mighty protein option for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Their overall nutrition, at only 70 calories per egg, is equally impressive. Be sure to ‘click around’ this egg-cellent website with great information about eggs.

Egg Fritatta Recipe!

Ingredients: 6 fresh large eggs; 1/4 cup milk; 1 cup chopped veggies like onion, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms (or substitute 1/2 with cooked lean sausage); 1/3 cup shredded cheese; pinch salt; pinch pepper; herbs of choice.

How to: Preheat oven to 400; Whisk eggs with milk, salt, pepper and herbs; Spray pie pan with oil spray; Place mixed veggies into pie pan; Pour egg-milk on top; Place into oven for 10 minutes; Remove from oven carefully and sprinkle cheese on top; Place back into oven for 10-15 min. until eggs are set. Eat hot or chilled the next day.

Cooking with Eggs!

If your goal is to adopt a healthier eating plan, then eggs can get you started. A hard boiled egg for breakfast? Egg salad for lunch? Egg fritatta for supper? Get into the kitchen with your carton of eggs for home-cooked and nutritious meals the easy way! For other kitchen resources, check out my Tasty Booklets with easy menus, shopping lists and recipes. It’s all good!

Spring at the Store & 3 Easy Meals!

Spring Grocery Basket

What’s in your spring grocery basket?

Spring is Coming!

Spring cannot come too soon this year for most of us in the Eastern part of the US. There is much to look forward to: warmer weather; crocus and daffodil shoots poking up from the melting snow; birds singing and frolicking about; neighbors venturing out for a walk or run; and some fantastic, seasonal foods to take advantage of.

What’s Seasonal in the Spring?

Spring at the store means some great quality and great buys on foods like asparagus, Florida berries, spinach, kale, leaf lettuces, radishes, spring onions and garlic. The weekly grocery ad will give you that ‘heads up’ on what to put into your meal plan for the coming week – for variety and value. By setting aside 30-45 minutes on a slower day of your week for meal planning, you will benefit from an organized plan along with tasty and healthy meals of the season.

Spring Meals to Try!

Breakfast: Whole grain toaster waffle + vanilla yogurt + Florida blackberries + herb tea or coffee *Or use frozen mixed berries as a mix-in with the yogurt – yum!

Lunch: Whole wheat tortilla wrapped around canned tuna salad made with light mayo, chopped celery and minced spring onions + baby carrots + Florida strawberries + water

Dinner: Broiled Spicy Chicken thighs + roasted sweet potato chunks & spring radishes + steamed spring kale or spinach + yogurt/juice smoothie *Or if you prefer another option, here is a favorite recipe with chicken breasts.

Spring Habit Changes!

Taking a new look at your nutrition habits this spring is a smart idea. Shake off winter and spring forward by slowing down and practicing mindfulness as you plan, shop for and prepare your meals and snacks. What’s to gain? A new outlook on ‘healthy’ – that’s what! Join me for daily tips on facebook, a weekly blog with search, and a free report about cooking healthier meals at home. Happy almost Spring!

Eating Seasonally in Winter with Citrus!

These are honey tangerines ~ so juicy and sweet!

These are honey tangerines ~ so juicy and sweet!

Eating Seasonally in Winter with Citrus!

There are quite a few good reasons to eat citrus fruit when it’s ‘in season,’ like the tree-ripened flavors, finding reasonable prices for lots of varieties, and the bonus of vitamin C.  If you eat one citrus fruit every day this winter, then you’ll be strengthening your body’s ability to fight off illness. Not only that, vitamin C is an antioxidant so it helps protect all the cells of your body. Here’s a chart of Florida-grown citrus varieties you can choose from.

7 Ways to Add Winter Citrus to Your Day!

1. Squeeze an orange into your smoothie.

2. Slice a lemon, lime or tangerine into your water glass.

3. Squeeze an orange and grate a little of the zest onto your fish.

4. Slice a grapefruit and an orange, then layer them for dessert.

5. Toss segments of orange into a spinach salad and dress lightly with vinaigrette.

6. Squeeze an orange onto cut apple slices so they don’t turn brown.

7. Toss a Clementine into yours and your child’s lunch bag.

How will you add seasonal citrus to your breakfast, lunch and dinner? Please join me on Facebook for tips about this and other small steps to better nutrition!



Citrus Fruits, Vitamin C & A Fun Recipe!

You can make this tasty citrus parfait in minutes!

You can make this tasty citrus parfait in minutes!

Citrus Fruits & Vitamin C!

In the winter, I recommend we all pump-up our intake of vitamin C from citrus fruits. There are so many choices like sweet & seedless Clementines, grapefruit, tangerines, oranges, lemons, limes, and the list goes on. The great thing about getting your daily dose of vitamin C from citrus fruits is that you get a nutrient-rich package deal of vitamin C along with fiber, potassium, antioxidants, healthy carbs and a really sweet flavor! Here are all the details about vitamin C.

Grow Your Own Citrus Tree!

It is super easy to grow a lemon or lime tree at home and a fun project for kids, teens or adults. Just buy a citrus fruit at the grocery store, harvest the seeds and pop them in a pot. Here’s a 3 minute video on how to grow a lemon tree.


Citrus Parfait Recipe!

Shopping List:

Clementine orange, Nonfat Greek style vanilla yogurt, low fat Ricotta cheese, graham crackers

Prep Steps (2 parfaits):

1. Get out a small to medium bowl.

2. Into the bowl, add 1 cup nonfat Greek style vanilla yogurt and 1/2 cup low fat Ricotta cheese.

3. Stir yogurt and Ricotta together until smooth.

4. Peel the Clementine and separate into segments.

5. Crush 1 long graham cracker into crumbs. I put the cracker into a sealed baggie and then use my rolling pin to gently make it into crumbs.

6. Using a clear glass, make layers with the creamy yogurt-Ricotta, Clementine segments and cracker crumbs.

Citrus & Healthy Eating!

Citrus fruits are one great choice for healthy eating. So are all fresh fruits and vegetables. If you want to feel better and stay healthier, be sure to make colorful fruits and veggies a part of every meal! For easy-to-fix meals and recipes that include fruits and veggies, start with a meal planning and/or recipe resource from the Market Basket Nutrition E-Store. Happy Citrus Time!

A New Year of Good Nutrition!

Nutritious, delicious, full of what makes and keeps you healthy!

Nutritious, delicious, full of what makes and keeps you healthy!

Recapping the Year & Saying Thank-You!

As a busy year ends, I try to take time to reflect on those who have trusted me to help ‘tweak’ their nutrition. Thank you to all my 2014 clients who have inspired me, taught me, and reassured me that taking the path to better nutrition, no matter how tough, is definitely worth it. Here are the kind of things my 2014 clients have said:

* I like it when we meet because you remind me to make good nutrition a priority.

* I needed someone like you to help me manage my meal planning overwhelm.

* I didn’t know how big a difference it would make to change my meal times. I feel so much better.

* Since re-working the after school snacks, my kids eat a better dinner.

* I was amazed that when I put out a new veggie, the entire family was willing to try it.

* My grocery bill is lower now and I feel so much more organized at the store.

* I realize that switching to better quality foods makes my entire day go better.

Planning for a New Year!

A fresh start, with ongoing support, is your ticket to feeling better, managing better and becoming a good nutrition leader for those you care about the most. Please email me for the support of a caring, experienced registered dietitian. It may be the most important contact you make in 2015!  Click here to learn a little more about my nutrition education services in Winston-Salem, NC. Click here to sign up and receive my free report, 3 Tasty Menus for Busy Families and Everyone, no matter where you live!

Happy New Year!

Corn Casserole Recipe with a Healthy Twist

Corn casserole

This is a tasty, savory side.

Corn Casserole = Great Side Dish

Last night at my friend’s dinner party, I tasted corn casserole for the first time. I’ve had plenty of corn muffins and corn-on-the-cob in my life, but never a casserole made with corn. It was so impressive as a side to our nice dinner that I tweaked it into a corn casserole with a healthy twist.

Corn Casserole = Handy Make-Ahead Dish

I’m partial to recipes that are not only healthier than average, but that are make-ahead-ready. Are you? Cooking it up the night before or even in the morning – on a weekday off work or a weekend day – saves a ton of time. This corn casserole fits my handy, make-ahead model and that’s good for everyone.

Corn Casserole = Yellow & Green

Did I mention that I’ve incorporated a green veggie into this corn casserole recipe? It really seems to work with the corn and we can all use a little more green for all its nutrition advantages. What I’ve done to make this a healthy twist recipe for all seasons is to use fresh-frozen corn, fresh-frozen spinach, ground cumin, onions and other tasty ingredients.

Corn Casserole Recipe – 8 side dish servings

2, 10 ounce packages frozen chopped spinach

1 package 10-12 ounce packages frozen corn

1 14-1 ounce can of creamed corn

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red cayenne pepper (or use more for a bigger kick)

1 tablespoon butter, slightly melted or at least very soft

2 tablespoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Thaw the spinach on medium power in the microwave or on medium low heat on the stove. Drain all water, pressing in a colander and squeezing in your (clean) hands.

3. Thaw corn in microwave or overnight in the refrigerator.

4. Spray a medium sized casserole dish or 9×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

5. In the casserole dish, stir together spinach, both corns, onions, spices and butter.

6. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the very top.

7. Bake for 25 minutes, until slightly browned on top.

Corn Casserole = Cooking at Home

Homemade dinners are the best, aren’t they? Here is one side that’s quick and easy, as it transforms a simple grilled chicken breast or fish fillet into a more interesting meal. For other quick and easy meal ideas, join me on Facebook or Pinterest. Let’s brainstorm ideas together!



Easy Egg Scramble with Spinach!

Spinach in pan

1. Start with a big handful of washed spinach & steam it

Spinach and egg uncooked

2. Scramble 2 eggs and pour into the pan with spinach

Spinach and egg cooked

3. Cook spinach and egg together until done

So Easy, So Tasty, So Healthy, So Filling!

This Easy Egg Scramble with Spinach is a smart solution to challenges we all face every day.

Need a quick, filling breakfast? Crave a new lunch and tired of  sandwiches or salads? Searching for a lighter dinner that adds a green veggie to your day? This Easy Egg Scramble with Spinach will solve all the above:)


Here’s How-To!

It’s easy as 1-2-3. Follow the steps above and then add your final flair at the table.

Make this Easy Egg Scramble with Spinach into a Meal!

Latin flair: Top with salsa, chopped cilantro and light sour cream or plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Eat with a warm corn tortilla.

German flair: Add a chicken or turkey sausage, steamed red or green cabbage and a slice of rye bread.

Italian flair: Add a side serving of pasta with a little olive oil and garlic powder and a few olives.

Keep it Simple!

This Easy Egg Scramble with Spinach is simple and smart. So are the daily Facebook Tips I post to help you through a busy day with good nutrition. Please Like my facebook page and learn simple nutrition solutions day-by-day. It’s a great way to eat better, feel better and spend less on your groceries!






Mason Jar Salads!

Do you need a crisp and healthy lunch idea?

Do you need a crisp and healthy lunch idea?

This is a guest blog by Kaylie Chrismon.

Mason Jar Salads!

One of the worst things about packing a healthy lunch is having a soggy salad. When your salad sits in salad dressing all morning, the spinach and lettuce become wilted and you may even throw it out and choose a not-as-healthy option.

Putting your salad in a mason jar and layering the toppings appropriately can keep your salad crisp, fresh, and perfect at lunchtime. Mason jars are also convenient and reusable.

How to build your mason jar salad from the bottom up:

Bottom layer: your dressing – putting dressing in the bottom keeps it from making other ingredients, especially your greens, wilted – try the simple combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or add some cottage cheese, or choose your favorite healthy salad dressing

Next layer: other wet ingredients that can make your salad wilted, like chopped tomatoes

Next layer: drier ingredients that will not affect your greens, like carrots, bell peppers, radish slices, cheese, olives, cucumbers, artichokes, hard boiled egg slices, celery.

Next layer: completely dry ingredients like nuts, seeds, and croutons

Top layer: greens – try spinach, mixed greens, or even baby kale!

You can either eat these straight from the jar if you are taking them to school or work, or you can pour them onto a plate and eat them this way if you are at home. If you decide to eat them straight from the jar, just give them a good shake to get your salad dressing evenly distributed.

Making salads in a mason jar also makes for easy meal prep! Once a week, sit out 4-5 mason jars and layer your ingredients so that you have salads you can grab in a hurry.

Challenge: Since it’s fall, try to think of ingredients that are seasonally appropriate, like apples and butternut squash! Chop apples to put in your salad or roast butternut squash cubes to add sweetness. Dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds are other great additions for fall.

About our Guest Blogger. Kaylie Chrismon is a Nutrition Grad Student at UNC-Greensboro with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian. She loves to cook and Kaylie writes her own blog here.

What is a Grocery Store Tour?

Grocery cart

Is your grocery cart full of healthy choices?

What is A Grocery Store Tour?

Are you:

  • Overwhelmed by all the varieties in the grocery store?
  • Confused by food labels and stressed out by rising food costs?
  • Worried about the choices in your grocery cart?

On a grocery store tour, you will:

  • Walk through the store with Cindy, a registered dietitian with 17 years in the grocery industry
  • Target specific aisles to explore for healthy choices
  • Learn to shop for easy meal solutions that meet your needs
  • Become more confident looking for good nutrition at an affordable price
  • Feel free to ask questions and know you can trust the answers


Grocery Store Tours are a fun and educational way to improve the nutrition in your cart as you become more confident, better organized and stretch your food budget! For an individual or small group, a grocery store tour will make those shopping mysteries come clear – once and for all.


Read more details about Cindy’s Grocery Store Tours and her other services by clicking here. Remember, there is no better time to start fresh with a healthy lifestyle than today!

Lasagne with a Fall Twist

Lasagne with butternut squash and kale

Filling layers of lasagne with butternut squash and kale is a healthy, fall twist.

Lasagne with Layers of Goodness!

From what I can tell, pasta is a favorite ‘go to’ food for everyone’s quick meals. After all, it falls into the comfort food category and it can be simple or more exotic. What goes in between the layers of lasagne can become a fun and creative project, I recently found out.  And what I came up with was Lasagne with a Fall Twist.

For more quick ‘go to’ meals, click here and also click here.

Lasagne with a Fall Twist – How To!

Here’s how I made this tasty and unique lasagne:

1. Use a Homemade Marinara Sauce that is simple and full of flavor.

2. Fill one layer with roasted, mashed up butternut squash. I seasoned mine with a little olive oil, salt and pepper to roast it. Easy peasy.

3. Fill one layer with chopped and steamed kale. I didn’t add anything to mine when I steamed it. Nothing but fresh kale.

4. Fill one layer with reduced fat ricotta cheese and crumbled feta.

5. Cook it nice and slow, at 350 degrees for about one hour for a 9 x 9 inch pan. I watch the top and cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil if it starts getting too browned, about half way done. And, I do not pre-cook the lasagne noodles.

Lasagne & Creative Deliciousness!

Being creative in the kitchen can bring great results and lasagne is one example. Sometimes I add canned and flaked tuna to my lasagne instead of layered veggies or extra lean ground meat. Sometimes I add spinach and lots of mushrooms. The layers are fill-able with any combination you can think up, so please give it a try. For a starter menu planning booklet or recipe collection, check out my Tasty Series. Each e-book has 15 ideas for you to get creative with!


Homemade Vegetable Soup!

Vegetable soup

Vegetable Soup makes the kitchen smell so good!

Soup Comforts as it Nourishes!

If there is a perfect comfort food then it must be soup. I’ve been a soup lover for most of my life and one of my favorites is homemade vegetable soup. The great thing about homemade vegetable soup is that you can make it so many different ways. You can add lean stew beef or not. You can add leftover cooked chicken or not. You can add fresh veggies or frozen veggies. Basically, anything goes.

Here are 2 more delicious soups you can make, in your kitchen. I fell in love with Slovenian Sauerkraut & Potato Soup when I once traveled to Slovenia. And, I also adore Lentil Soup which I make about once a week from October – March. Both of these will comfort and nourish you in the nicest way.

Homemade Vegetable Soup!

Tip: Use the recipe ingredients as your grocery shopping list!

2 tablespoons Olive oil

2-4 cloves Garlic, peeled & minced

1 large (or 2 small) Onions, peeled & chopped

2 large ribs/stalks Celery, chopped

3 large (or 4 small, not baby carrots) Carrots, peeled & sliced

1-1/2 quarts Vegetable broth

2 medium Bell peppers, chopped

4 medium Roma tomatoes, chopped

2-3 inch wedge Green cabbage, chopped (or try red cabbage instead)

3/4 cup Lima beans, frozen

1/2 cup (or one large handful) Fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon Pesto (or, as a substitute, 4-6 chopped fresh basil leaves)

Making the Soup

1. In a large pot, with a lid, heat olive oil to medium.

2. Add prepared garlic, onions, celery, carrots. Saute while stirring about 5 minutes. This gets the flavors going.

3. Add all other ingredients to the pot.

4. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to low.

5. Cook for 1 – 1-1/2 hours.

6. Serve right away. Or, allow soup to cool, refrigerate (up to 3 days) or freeze (up to 3 months) for later.

 More Homemade Vegetable Soup Ideas!

If you want to make a Vegetable-Beef Soup, then buy lean stew beef (sirloin) at the grocery store as an extra ingredient. Brown it in step #2 above. If you want to make a Vegetable-Chicken/Turkey Soup, then use up leftover cooked chicken or turkey by cutting it into bite-size pieces and adding it 10 minutes before the soup is finished cooking. This is a versatile soup in terms of veggies, too. Chop up what you like, add some fresh herbs, and keep it full of colors for the best nutrition. For other handy tips, please join me on Facebook  and get my free report, 3 Easy Menus for Busy Weeknights. Market Basket Nutrition offers you daily guidance to help move you closer and closer to your healthy lifestyle goals!



Easy Green Smoothie Recipe

Green Smoothie

Have you ever tried a green smoothie?

With all the interest in easy green smoothie recipes these days, I finally tried one. Funny that a registered dietitian waited so long but I just did. Here’s a recipe for one that’s super-easy other than cleaning out the blender. Oh well, nothing’s perfect. A smoothie, green or not, can be a great breakfast item, snack or special drink for celebrating as long as you’re careful to use healthy ingredients. Here’s a link to some other great, healthy snack ideas and some of them go perfectly with a green smoothie!

Easy Green Smoothie Recipe – only 5 ingredients

1 cup milk – I used 1% cow’s milk but other milk works too

1 ripe, cut-up, frozen banana – this makes it smooth and sweet

1 cup spinach leaves, thick stems pulled off – or if you love kale, that will work too

2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter – or sub almond butter if you like that better

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Measure all 5 ingredients into a blender and blend about 1-2 minutes until smooth. Drink. This makes one big glass or 2 smaller glasses.

Easy Green Smoothie Recipe

1. Gives you a sweet flavor

2. Breaks up the monotony of cereal for breakfast

3. Gives you one green veggie, easy peasy

Don’t Wait!

Don’t wait like I did. Give this Easy Green Smoothie Recipe a try this week for great taste and some extra special nutrition. Then let me know how you liked it! For daily tips and more easy recipes, I recommend liking my facebook page. Every day, you’ll find out something new & nutritious!



Easy, Healthy Ideas for Busy Moms!

Grocery cart

Good nutrition begins in your grocery cart!

Are You a Busy Mom?

I meet a lot of caring moms in my line of work. Some work outside the home and some work as stay home moms. Some have little kids and some have teens. Some are already making healthy food choices and some are just getting ready to start. But, all the moms I meet have one thing in common — they are extremely busy people! So, these easy, healthy ideas are for you!

Easy, Healthy Ideas for Busy Moms

1. Fresh fruit, like apples and bananas, are everyone’s favorites. Keep a bowl out on the kitchen counter and try your best to keep it full for healthy snacking or part of breakfast.

2. Fresh veggies, like baby carrots and cucumber slices, make excellent ‘dippers’. Keep them in plain view in the fridge along with hummus or vanilla yogurt to dip.

3. Crunchy snacks, like baked tortilla chips and pretzels, are perfect to dip into salsa or a semi-homemade dip made by mixing together plain Greek style yogurt with honey and cinnamon. One handful makes a perfect snack.

4. Drinks, like water and 1% milk, make everyone’s meal healthier. Offer just 2 choices.

5. Desserts, like a homemade fruit juice Popsicle or a yogurt/fruit/granola parfait are fun and delicious. For weekend options, try making tasty pumpkin muffins or a delicious blueberry crisp.

Busy Moms Put Good Nutrition into Motion

Get ready, get set, go! Good nutrition is in forward motion every time you fill your grocery cart with healthier options. Make a shopping list that includes the fruits, veggies, crunchy snacks, drinks and desserts in the tips above. Try one or more of these tips with your kids. Keep moving forward for a healthier kitchen and a healthier you!


Healthy Fats are Smart Choices!

Healthy fats

Walnuts, omega-yolk egg, peanut butter, olive oil, avocado – all healthy fats!

Healthy Fats are Smart Choices – Why?

We all need fat to survive – did you realize that? In fact, a healthy body depends on it. But, what about ‘bad fats’ and ‘trans fats’ and ‘too much fat’? Right! It’s important to eat a moderate amount of fat every day – about 25-30% of your total daily calories – and just as important to choose a healthy kind of fat. Because your heart and entire body will stay healthier with the smart fat choices.

Healthy Fats are Smart Choices – Examples!

Understanding that some fats are healthier is a good start to making these part of your meals and snacks. Five great choices are shown at the left: walnuts, eggs enhanced with omega-3 fat, peanut butter, extra virgin olive oil and avocado. Here are 5 more great choices: ground flaxseeds, salmon, pumpkin seeds, mackerel and almond butter.

Healthy Fats are Smart Choices – 7 Ways to Succeed!

Eating healthy fats will make more sense if you think of it as part of your kitchen plan. So here are 7 ideas to get you started:

1. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil onto your steamed broccoli just before serving it.

2. Chop up some walnuts and add them to your bowl of oatmeal just before eating it.

3. Cut an avocado and add 1/4 of it to your lunch or dinner salad.

4. Cook an egg – the kind with omega-3 healthy fat – as part of breakfast.

5. Mix pumpkin seeds into a homemade trail-mix with walnuts and hot air popcorn.

6. Buy a frozen mackerel filet at an Asian grocery store and then cook it in a skillet for dinner.

7. Use peanut butter or almond butter as a dip for baby carrots.

Healthy Fats are Smart Choices – Get On Board Now!

Taking action to improve your nutrition includes replacing unhealthy fats with healthier ones. Now is the time to go through your kitchen and do a ‘fat makeover.’ Take out crackers or margarine with trans fat and replace them with 0-trans-fat alternatives. Make the change from 2% milk – with unhealthy levels of saturated fat – to fat free milk. Buy a peanut butter or almond butter made from 100% nuts. My facebook page is a reliable resource with easy, daily tips and my free menus for busy weeknights can steer you to a healthier plan for dinner. Please use them!

How do you add healthy fats to your meals and snacks?



Over 20 Easy Healthy Vegetarian Recipes

Lemon Pepper Tofu

The recipe for Lemon Pepper Tofu is listed under ‘dinner’ below!

This is a Guest Blog by Kaylie Chrismon.

Did you know there are 7.3 million Americans who are vegetarian? There are also 22.8 million Americans who are “vegetarian-inclined1.” Are you vegetarian-inclined?

There are several different types of vegetarians:

1. Vegetarian – someone who does not eat meat but eats animal by-products. This may      include dairy products and eggs.
2. Pescatarian – someone who eats fish but does not eat other meat, such as poultry and beef.
3. Vegan – someone who does not eat meat or any animal by-products, which may also include honey.

So why do people do it? Ethics, environment, health, and personal beliefs are some of the common reasons why people live a vegetarian lifestyle. Vegetarians also have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension2.

What do vegetarians eat? Everything but meat! Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, beans, tofu, and nuts are delicious and healthy options. It is important to get all the nutrients you need, though. Vegetarians can be deficient in vitamin B-12 and iron, among other nutrients. You can get these nutrients through dairy, eggs, spinach, beans, and supplements. Check out these recipes to get your started, whether it’s for Meatless Monday or a full transition into becoming a vegetarian!


Strawberry Oat Muffins

Pumpkin Apple Pancakes

Homemade Granola Bars

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Pumpkin Muffins

Blueberry Pancakes

Lunch and Sides:

Watermelon Salad

Spring Green Deviled Eggs

Bunny Rabbit Salad

Baked Parsley Potatoes


Simple Stir Fry

Healthy Portobello Pizza

Homemade Marinara Sauce and Spaghetti

Lentil Soup

Lemon Pepper Tofu with Blackberry Peach Salsa


Secret Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Pumpkin Pie

Strawberry Apple Crisp

Blueberry Crisp

Dark Chocolate Bark with Cranberries and Pistachios

Spiced Nuts

Homemade Banana Popsicles

Want to learn more about vegetarianism, such as the benefits, nutritional aspect, and additional resources? Visit here! Then, I challenge you to make one vegetarian meal this week! Try one of Cindy’s many vegetarian meals, my lemon pepper tofu with blackberry peach salsa, or look into Cindy’s Vegetarian E-Book! Don’t wait to try a delicious and very healthy meal that may help with cholesterol, high blood pressure, and many other diseases and conditions.


1. Vegetarian Times. Vegetarianism in America. From http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/vegetarianism-in-america/

2. Brown University. Being a vegetarian. From http://www.brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/nutrition_&_eating_concerns/being_a_vegetarian.php


About our Guest Blogger. Kaylie Chrismon is a Nutrition Grad Student at UNC-Greensboro with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian. She loves to cook and Kaylie writes her own blog here.


Summer Dinner Ideas for Hot Weather

Summer tomato w tuna

A summer tomato stuffed with tuna salad is filling and delicious!

Summer Dinner Ideas are Your Friend!

In the summer, most of my friends and clients are looking for the most simple dinner ideas they can find. And, it makes perfect sense. Who wouldn’t rather be at the pool, the park or fitting in some fun exercise? Without a huge amount of effort, summer dinner meals can bring good nutrition to your plate and wow flavors of the season to your tongue. And, even when summer’s over, these go-to meals can be your quick solution.

Summer Dinner Ideas are Easy to Plan!

Here are 3 of my favorite easy meals for summer at the dinner table.

1. Sandwich & Salad: Make a ham/Mozzarella sandwich with a big slice of fresh summer tomato. Add a side salad of lettuce or spinach, summer cucumbers and light dressing. Finish with a wedge of summer watermelon for dessert.

2. Sandwich & Smoothie: Make a summer tomato/cucumber/sweet Bell pepper sandwich with hummus as your spread. Add a summer smoothie of vanilla or plain yogurt, orange juice, summer blueberries and summer raspberries (use fresh or frozen fruit). Finish with a fruit juice popsicle for dessert.

3. Stuffed Tomato & Crackers: Cut a large summer tomato into fourths, without cutting through to the very bottom, and stuff it with tuna salad, chicken salad or low fat cottage cheese. Add whole grain crackers with a spread of light cream cheese or hummus. Finish with a summer fruit salad of blueberries, peaches, plums and cantaloupe for dessert. *See photo at left.

Summer Dinner Ideas are Part of Your Healthy Lifestyle!

New ideas for light and healthy dinners are valuable for many reasons. First of all, they give you a healthy plan; second, the plan gives you a shopping list; third, the shopping list helps you manage your food budget. It all fits together into a system of taking care of yourself with thoughtful choices that taste great. For ongoing dinner ideas, be sure to like my facebook page and visit often. Let’s have a conversation about affordable, tasty meals to fuel your body right!




Father’s Day Brunch!

These beef tenderloin and veggie skewers will please anyone!

These beef tenderloin and veggie skewers will dazzle Dad!

Brunch –  A Little History

The origin of brunch is not well understood. Some food historians think the meal began in England’s hunt breakfasts—lavish multi-course meals featuring a smorgasbord of foods such as chicken livers, eggs, meats, bacon, fresh fruit and sweets. Others think Sunday brunch came from the days when Catholics fasted before mass and then feasted on a large midday meal. Within the restaurant world, brunch has become big business nowadays as it adds another dining occasion for families and friends.

Father’s Day Brunch

There are so many foods that dads like – barbecue, deviled eggs, salmon, French toast, blueberry pancakes, bacon, gelato, watermelon and more. Brunch, the combination of breakfast and lunch, may be a perfect way to celebrate the holiday since just about any food can suit your menu. So, what will your special meal for dad look like this year?

Father’s Day Brunch – Which Menu Will You Choose?
Menu #1 for a Breakfast Loving Dad: Easy Whole Grain Banana Pancakes with Canadian Bacon or Turkey Sausage, Fruit Salad, Strawberry-Orange Smoothie
     Hint: Make the pancakes out of a mix, adding some whole wheat flour and a mashed up, ripe banana.
Menu #2 for a Grill Loving Dad: Skewers of Marinated Beef Tenderloin (or Pork Tenderloin), Bell Peppers and Onions, Grilled Sweet Potato Chunks, Grilled Fresh Pineapple & Peaches. See photo.
     Hint: Make the beef marinade out of olive oil, lemon juice, a little soy sauce, minced garlic & fresh herbs.

Menu #3 for a Comfort Food Loving Dad: Oven Fried Chicken or Lean Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes, Great Green Beans, Stewed Tomatoes, Light Banana Pudding

Hint: Make the banana pudding with more bananas and less whipped cream.

Menu #4 for a Veggie Loving Dad: Veggie Chili or Veggie Omelet, Homemade Zucchini Bread, Cantaloupe with Berries

Hint: Cut up plenty of colorful Bell peppers in the veggie chili, along with local tomatoes, if you can find them.

Menu #5 for a Salad Loving Dad: Terrific Turkey Salad or Tuna Salad with Light Deviled Eggs, Pasta Salad and Fresh Fruit Salad

Hint: Make the deviled eggs with fat free Greek-style yogurt instead of mayo.

Make Healthier Eating a Family Affair

Healthy eating benefits everyone. So, I encourage you to make it a family affair. Start with your menu plans, then make a shopping list, then go to the grocery store. At the store, make a conscious decision to buy more nutrient-rich choices and fewer nutrient-poor choices. You’ll feel the difference! For help with menu plans, invest in my e-books which are affordable and easy to implement. For help with healthier recipes, invest in my recipe themed e-books. You’ll be glad you did!

What is your healthy menu for Father’s Day?

Healthy Weeknight Dinners!

Putting together a healthy weeknight dinner is like doing a puzzle!

Putting together a healthy weeknight dinner is like doing a puzzle!

Healthy Weeknight Dinner Plans!

I have to admit that I really like thinking up healthy weeknight dinners. It’s kind of like doing a puzzle with a formula – at the left – to insure yourself a balance of protein, carbs, fat, vitamins and minerals. So, for all of you who don’t share my love of meal planning, here are some options to use this week, and week-after-week.

 5 Healthy Weeknight Dinner Options!

1. Tangy Lime Chicken with brown rice and steamed green beans. Slices of  mango for dessert.

2. Spaghetti & Easy Marinara Sauce with broccoli and tossed green salad. Oatmeal cookie for dessert.

3. Scrambled Eggs with turkey sausage and whole grain Pumpkin Muffin. Cut up strawberries and apples for dessert.

4. Black Bean Burger (frozen) on whole grain bun with slice of tomato, lettuce, avocado and Easy Homemade Lentil Soup. Slices of cantaloupe for dessert.

5. Lean Pork Chop on the grill, rubbed with spices, with grilled sweet potato chunks and grilled Brussels sprouts. Grilled pineapple rings for dessert.

Healthy Weeknight Dinner Resources!

Help is here for your healthy weeknight dinners. Don’t go it alone because too often a panic-plan is expensive, salty and just not full of great nutrition. Put down the take out menu for pizza or wings and pick up an easy booklet that gives you the kind of simple, nutritious weeknight dinner plans you really want and need. My meal planning e-books are affordable and quick as well as thoughtful for busy people who care about good health. Explore my entire e-book bundle for simple recipes, too. And, remember that easy is good and nutritious is always worth it!

Homemade Marinara Spaghetti Sauce is Tasty, Easy & Cheap!

Homemade Marinara Spaghetti Sauce

Chunks of tomato and fresh basil make this sauce a winner every time!

Homemade Marinara Spaghetti Sauce

This rich and tasty red sauce will make the whole kitchen smell good!

Kids can help by measuring the ingredients, tearing the basil leaves and stirring, with supervision.

Makes 4 servings

2 Tablespoons    Olive oil

2 cloves                  Garlic, peeled and minced

2 cups                     Crushed or diced tomatoes in a can

2 Tablespoons     Water

Pinch                     Red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon     Salt

8                              Fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

  1. Heat a medium-size skillet or frying pan on the stove to medium heat.
  2. Place olive oil and garlic into the pan. When garlic begins to sizzle, cook about 3-4 minutes, stirring. Garlic will turn golden.
  3. Add canned tomatoes and all remaining ingredients to the pan.
  4. Cover pan with a lid and simmer over low heat, stirring once every 5-10 minutes.
  5. Simmer sauce for 45-60 minutes to develop flavors.

Nutrition per serving: 100 calories; 7 gm fat; 1 gm saturated fat; 0 trans fat;  0 cholesterol; 300 mg sodium; 9 gm carbohydrates;  2 gm fiber;  2 gm protein; 15% DV vitamin A; 20% DV vitamin C; 4% DV calcium; 8% DV iron

Cooking Tip: For a change, add 6-8 sliced mushrooms or a cup of leftover,  cooked broccoli florets.

Serving Tip: Serve with cooked spaghetti, ziti or rotini pasta.

Make it Homemade for Great Flavor and Health!

If you are ready to make homemade your new kitchen goal then a kitchen recipe resource will become your best friend. These easy-to-use recipe and menu planning booklets are the answer to your goal and a fresh start this year!

5 Tips for Healthier Eating During the Holidays!

IMG_3164 Eating Healthier During the Holidays…What?!

Healthier eating during the holidays may sound like a twisted thought to you but I say that it can be done. Yes, along with fall and early winter holidays like Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas and New Year’s Day come delicious parties and memorable dinners. But, the result doesn’t have to be a tighter belt. Wouldn’t it be great not to have to make a weight loss resolution again on January 1st? Here’s a tiny video where I explain how you can have all the joy of the holidays and get a grip on healthier eating, too!

5 Tips for Healthier Eating During the Holidays!

1. Be a fanatic for good nutrition: Get out of bed with an attitude for healthy eating whether it is Thanksgiving Day or any other day of the week. Remember, it’s a holiday, not a holiweek or holimonth…get it?

2. Celebrate every day success: Keep your usual light and healthy meals and snacks in place. If you indulge at a party or dinner, then move on and get back on track the next meal or the next day. Celebrate with a friend by going to the movies or roller skating rink.

3. Bring a healthy option to a party or potluck: Contribute a basket of oranges, tangerines, apples or dried mixed fruits for color and good nutrition on the party table. Or, mixed nuts in the shell with nut crackers might be fun. For a casserole dish use less butter, cheese and sour cream and for a hot vegetable, keep it simple by steaming.

4. Think your drink: Lead by example with one glass of beer or wine and then a glass of seltzer water or a sugar free soft drink. If you serve iced tea then use less sugar for a refreshing change.

5. Taste a dessert: Enjoy a bite of dessert or several desserts on a small plate. Make 3 bites out of each one and eat slowly to taste and appreciate every flavor and texture.

Healthier Eating During the Holidays Will Make it a Happier New Year!

A smart plan is the one that helps you achieve a healthy life. So, I recommend putting good nutrition at the top of your mind for fewer ‘train wrecks’ and more cheer this coming season. Healthier eating during the holidays will improve your energy level, decrease your stress and make it a happier New Year. For everyday, good nutrition tips, all year long, LIKE my facebook page and join the conversation. If you need resources like meal plans and recipes from a trusted nutrition professional, then buy my reasonably priced e-book bundle now!

What is your tip for healthier eating during the holidays?

A Healthy Pumpkin Pie Recipe for Thanksgiving Dessert!


Who doesn’t love pumpkins?

Seasonal, Nutritious, Versatile Pumpkin!

Did you carve a Jack-O-Lantern on Halloween? I have to admit that my pumpkin carving skills are not so great. My skills with a can of solid packed pumpkin, though, are much better. My short  pumpkin how-to video to will give you an idea about what you can do with a can of pumpkin in your kitchen. Please look at it, with special attention to the healthy pumpkin pie in a blender recipe because this makes a perfect finish to Thanksgiving or any special dinner.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Recipe – In the Blender!

Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings, 150 calories per serving

Measure All Ingredients into Your Blender:

1 can (15-16 oz) solid pack pumpkin; 1 can evaporated skim milk (12 fl. oz); 2 large eggs; 1/2 cup white or brown sugar; 1/2 cup Heart Smart baking mix from Bisquick; 2 teaspoons ground pumpkin pie spice; 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Blend for about 1-2 minutes on medium speed until smooth and mixed.

Pour Into a Pie Pan:

Pour healthy pumpkin pie mixture from the blender into an 8-inch or 9-inch pie pan that is lightly sprayed with vegetable oil spray.

Bake the Pie:

Bake 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees F. Test for doneness by inserting a table knife into the center of pie. If it comes out clean, the pie is done. If pie sticks to the knife, then return it to oven and bake 5 more minutes, then test again.

Cool the Pie:

Cool pie to room temperature before cutting. Or, cook this healthy pumpkin pie one day ahead and refrigerate it overnight and enjoy it cold.

A Healthy Dessert for Thanksgiving or Any Holiday! Keeping good nutrition in action is an every day challenge for most families and everyone. Be a leader at your holiday feast with this healthy pumpkin pie recipe. It’s flavor, nutrition and lighter calorie count is really worth it!

What will be on your healthy Thanksgiving Menu?

3 Grocery Store Tips: Are You So Hungry You Could Eat Your Shopping List?

Healthy Grocery Cart

What’s in your cart? Do you try for at least 3/4 healthy choices?

Grocery Shopping Day

I used to shop on Saturday mornings to miss crowds. Then it was Sunday afternoon to combine my shopping with the upcoming week’s meal planning. Now, it’s a mixture of weekend days and busier weeknights. Do you have a set day for grocery shopping? If you do, that’s one option. The other option is waiting for your pantry and fridge to cry out, ‘Fill me!”

Hunger Makes a Difference in What You Put in Your Cart

Tips for smart grocery shopping are out there and many of us come up with our own. With busy schedules as the norm, though, focusing in the aisles can be tough. One thing that is now supported by credible research is that if you’re driving a grocery cart with an empty stomach, your choices may suffer. A recent research study at Cornell University  showed that shoppers who were hungry made poor nutrition choices for their cart compared to those who were not hungry. The hungry ones tended to make choices that were higher in calories and lower in nutrition-density. Uh oh. The easy solution is to put something into your stomach before cruising the aisles and here’s how:

How To Grocery Shop Without a Growling Stomach

1. Plan a Nutritious Snack as You Plan Your List: As you plan your meals and write your shopping list, try including a plan for a pocket-snack. You can scotch tape a nutritious snack bar or single-serving of nuts to your list if that helps you remember it. Eat a snack bar made of whole grains and 5-10 grams protein and it will probably keep your stomach from growling while you cook dinner, too – an added bonus.

2. Crunch on an Apple or Firm Pear: As you get ready for the day, stash a high-fiber, fall fruit like an apple or firm pear in your pocket or pocket book to enjoy before you hit the store. The firm pear is crunchy like an apple and it doesn’t bruise like the soft, ripe one.

3. Visit the Deli for a Slice: If your shopping trip is totally unplanned, don’t worry. Steer your cart fist to the Deli and order a slice or 2 of lean meat or unprocessed cheese. Eat it and save the wrapper with price to pay at checkout. Some stores give a free sample of the item before you purchase it so this may work out for you, too.

Your Grocery Shopping Challenge

Everyone has something to learn about grocery shopping. For some, it’s how to get organized with a meal plan and list. For others, it’s how to use up all those healthy fruits and veggies at home before they spoil. For all, shopping within a budget can be huge. The learning is ongoing and the healthy outcomes are amazing. Make a goal and work on it every grocery trip. When you commit it to habit, then take on a new goal. Healthy groceries are the starting point of a healthy kitchen and healthy life for you and those you care about the most. To speed up your learning, my e-books about meal planning and tasty recipes are really helpful and not overwhelming like most cookbooks. And, please join me on Facebook for daily tips and a friendly place you can interact with others who are learning about good nutrition, too!

What is your hardest grocery shopping challenge?


Too Many Veggies in the Fridge? Quick & Easy Ways to Use Them Up!

Fresh lettuce is perishable so plan your meals to use it up quick!

Fresh lettuce is perishable so plan your meals to use it up quickly!

Over-Purchased, Got Busy, Oh No…

Yesterday, I looked in my fridge crisper drawer and got nervous. I bought too much ‘green’ last week and then got super-busy…oh no. It’s not so uncommon a problem to have too many veggies in the fridge. But, if you hate to waste all that healthy bounty, like I do, here are some tips on how to use it up.

The Solution Part 1 – See What You Have & Use What You Can!

When faced with too much ‘green’, my first rule is do not panic – do not immediately throw it away. Stay calm and begin a veggie search-and-rescue process. Pick over everything carefully and use what you can. Now, back to my kitchen…

Last night I pulled out fresh, local beets and tiny yellow squash from my fridge crisper along with 2 containers of fresh whole mushrooms. Sure wish I had only bought one container of mushrooms but the sale price was just too good. Next, I discovered I had fresh, local lettuce, pictured at left, that needed to be used up so I pulled it out. Finally, I had a nice head of green cabbage so out it came.

My Solution Part 2 – Make a Creative Assortment & Expect Tasty, Nutritious Leftovers!

Cooking is one way to extend the shelf life of veggies, for a day or two. It’s nice to have a ready-to-reheat leftover in the fridge so try cooking more veggies than you need for one single dinner. Tomorrow, reheat and enjoy – again. Now, back to my kitchen…

1. I washed & peeled the beets and cut them into bite-size chunks. Then, I tossed them in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and laid them on a large, flat pan for roasting in the oven. I roast veggies for 25 min. at 425 degrees.

2. I washed the tiny 4-5 inch yellow squash, removed the ends and cut each one into 2 long, flat halves. Then, I tossed them in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and laid them on the same pan as the beets for roasting.

3. I washed and trimmed the mushrooms and sliced them into a microwavable container for steaming.

4. I washed and shredded about 1/4 of the green cabbage and added it to the same microwavable container as the mushrooms for steaming.

5. I washed the lettuce, patted it dry and tore the leaves into a bowl for salad. I kept it very simple, adding a little olive oil and red wine vinegar as dressing.

More Veggies in Your Meal Plans & Resources!

Having too many veggies in the fridge can be stressful when you need to use them up quickly. But, it’s better to have too many than too few. For good nutrition, always plan your meals to include plenty of green, yellow, red, orange and purple veggies. For fun and ongoing tips & recipes using veggies, LIKE the Market Basket Nutrition Facebook page. For meal plans and recipes so simple that even kids can help, invest in one of my Good Nutrition E-books. Today!

What is your system for managing veggies in the fridge?

Go-To Meals are Healthy, Quick & Cheap!

Eggs are nutritious, versatile and budget-friendly as a 'go to' meal starter!

Eggs are nutritious, versatile and budget-friendly as a ‘go to’ meal starter!

What’s a ‘Go To’ Meal?

I am a firm believer in keeping it simple in the kitchen. A piece of fruit, slice of bread with peanut or almond butter, a cup of yogurt, a can of tuna, a bag of frozen veggies. ‘Go To’ meals are born from simple choices that support great flavors and great nutrition. They are the meals you can always remember, always enjoy and always find ingredients in your kitchen to make them – quickly.

3 Reasons to Embrace ‘Go To’ Meals!

There are many more than 3 reasons to use ‘Go To’ meals. Here are a few of my top choices: eat healthfully; eat with less stress; eat within your budget. Just because they are simple, though, don’t think of ‘Go To’ meals as boring. Switching the kind of fruit or vegetable, for example, is easy to do and it will keep your meals fun.

3 ‘Go To’ Meals to Try!

1. Breakfast ‘Go To’ Meal: Strawberries + Whole wheat toast + Boiled egg + 1% Milk or yogurt + coffee/tea

2. Lunch ‘Go To’ Meal: Cheese/Tomato/Cucumber Wrap on Whole grain tortilla + Baby carrots + Apple + Water

3. Dinner ‘Go To’ Meal: Whole grain spaghetti with Marinara Sauce + Turkey sausage + Green salad with avocado and light vinaigrette + 1% Milk or Water

What’s your favorite ‘Go To’ meal?



Store Food Wisely for Good Nutrition & Saving Money!

It's super smart to store tomatoes, avocado and garlic at room temp!

It’s super smart to store tomatoes, avocado and garlic at room temp!

Why it Matters

Food is most flavorful and nutrient-rich when eaten at its peak quality. That’s why most of us spend time sorting through lemons, turning over broccoli florets and sifting through fresh loaves of bread before putting them in our grocery cart. Fresh is something everyone wants!

What to Store at Room Temp

Tomatoes, avocados, garlic, potatoes, onions, bananas, and unripe melons will be fresher if stored at room temperature. Once cut, wrap them up and place in the fridge. Then, eat  in a day or two.

How You Can Save

By storing food in its ‘sweet spot’ for light, temperature and moisture, you will be rewarded with fresh ! Not only that – you will have less food rot and, by throwing away less, you will save money. Smart food storage combined with smart meal planning is a super smart goal for everyone!

What food will you store differently for freshness?


Pizza Works as a Tasty, Healthy Meal!

Homemade pizza has personality, bursts with flavor and rocks with good nutrition!

Homemade pizza has personality, bursts with flavor and rocks with good nutrition!

Pizza Ingredients to Love!

What goes on top of your pizza crust? On mine, at the left, are these:

Layer 1: homemade basil pesto, spread on thinly

Layer 2: canned tuna, flaked apart with a fork

Layer 3: canned, quartered artichoke hearts, drained of water

Layer 4: fresh tomato wedges

Layer 5: Parmesan cheese, roughly grated, sprinkled on thinly

Pizza Meal-Makers to Add!

While you could rightly argue that all the nutritious food groups are sitting on this pizza, I still feel better and fill up better with a couple of side items at my homemade pizza meal. Normally, I go with a green veggie like steamed broccoli or sugar snap peas plus a green salad of some sort. The pizza is the center of my meal, though, and worthy. You will be amazed at the flavors of this simple recipe so please try it!

Families Love Pizza so Plan to Make One Soon!

Many families with kids and singles are pizza lovers. Instead of pizzeria pizza, which can easily go overboard on calories, saturated fat and salt, plan to make a homemade pizza with smart ingredients as a nutritious lunch or dinner. Next grocery shopping trip, put healthy homemade pizza ingredients on your list and then in your cart. Once home, you’ll have the fun of creating a meal the entire family will adore.

What will go on the top of your pizza crust?




Nutrition Month is Full of Tasty, Healthy Surprises!

In the Mediterranean Country of Turkey, mine was a colorful plate!

In the Mediterranean Country of Turkey, mine was a colorful plate with tons of good nutrition!

Nutrition Month is Here!

I look forward to March every year for a few reasons, including Spring,  Nutrition Month and my birthday. All 3 of these special occasions is like a new beginning – for nature, for everyone who seeks good flavors and good health and… for me, another year to be thankful for. Nutrition Month is a fun, full-of-flavor opportunity and I treat it as such. Will you join me in the celebration?

Healthy Surprises!

When I visited Turkey last fall, I truly enjoyed many cultural, natural and edible surprises. I experienced an Islamic culture, I swam in the Aegean Sea and I ate tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and feta cheese for breakfast – all for the first time! My meal plate at the left shows you how fresh, how colorful and how appetizing Turkish-style eating can be. It’s inspirational, too, as an example for my plate in America.

Will Your Nutrition Month be Full of Surprises?

It’s time for everyone to take a step forward by embracing Nutrition Month. There are so many surprises awaiting you as you concentrate on nutrient-rich foods that supply you with endless energy and tasty enjoyment. Climb out of your meal rut, grab new choices for your grocery basket and you will feel the difference that good nutrition can make. I am here to provide you with guidance, tips, recipes and fun support as you make a fresh beginning in March! Try these: LIKE me on facebook; invest in my menu planning, recipe e-book bundle; sign up for my monthly e-newsletter – it’s FREE!

How will you improve your nutrition plan beginning in March?