apple bread pudding made with Splenda

Cutting Back on Too Much Added Sugar: Your Heart Will Say Thank You!

This blog was originally posted on

Most people have heard of the main foods groups that make up a healthy diet: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. They are represented on the five sections of the MyPlate icon to help us plan balanced meals, and they made up the levels of the Food Guide Pyramid that preceded it. There are also some food components we need to eat less of in order to have a healthy diet. These include added sugars, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, alcohol and caffeine.

Since February is American Heart Month, it’s the perfect time to talk about how we can make better choices when using our “discretionary calories” for improved heart healthy eating.

What Are Discretionary Calories?

If you’ve ever planned a budget you know some things on it are essential (buying food), while others are optional (eating out). The same is true for the calories we consume, or more specifically, where our calories come from. The calories found in foods that deliver essential nutrients are more important than the calories found in foods that provide few or no nutrients. Once we eat the foods (and calories) that deliver all of the nutrients we need each day, any calories left in our budget are considered “discretionary” calories. They can be used for a little more of the foods in the main food groups, a form of a food that is higher in fat or added sugars or the addition of some ingredients during preparation that are higher fat or sugar. They can even be used occasionally to eat or drink things like cake or regular soda that are mostly fat and sugar. (The American Heart Association provides more information about discretionary calories here.)

Managing the Solid Fats and Added Sugars in Your Heart Healthy Diet

Solid fats are found in foods such as well-marbled cuts of meat and higher fat ground meats, bacon and other processed meats, many cheeses, and baked goods made with butter, stick margarine, cream and/or shortening. We can reduce the amount of solid fat in our diets by not eating the foods containing them as often and taking a smaller serving when we do. We can also select leaner cuts of meat, reduced fat cheeses and lower fat snacks and desserts to avoid some solid fats and prepare our meals using less of them. You can find plenty of other tips and techniques on how to do that in Simple Cooking with Heart® from the American Heart Association.

Added sugars are found in most prepared foods and beverages that taste sweet, including the baked goods mentioned above that are also high in solid fats and in products like spaghetti sauce and salad dressing. They can also be an ingredient in foods that do not taste sweet, like spaghetti sauce and salad dressing. Taking inventory of how many sweetened foods and drinks you consume every day is a good way to see how common they are in your diet and decide which ones you can eliminate, reduce or replace with something else.

Recipes That Deliver on Sweet Taste

Recommendations from the American Heart Association for the amount of added sugar we should not exceed each day are 9 teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women. Their helpful infographic, Life is Sweet, illustrates many ways you can reach those goals, such as by using a no-calorie sweetener like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener instead of sugar in your hot and cold drinks. And finding recipes that use less sugar is as easy as opening this link at Here you will find SPLENDA® recipes categorized so you can quickly find something to prepare for any course on your menu and recipes for different health needs like Diabetes Friendly* and Heart Healthy**.

I’ve selected a few of my favorite recipes to help you get started. I’m sure some may be surprised to hear that each can be part of a heart healthy lifestyle when you serve them.

Lemon glazed jumbo shrimp salad

Lemon Glazed Jumbo Shrimp Salad 
Aromatic salad greens and succulent shrimp drizzled with a zesty-sweet dressing make a refreshing salad.

Servings Per Recipe: 4; Serving Size: 2 jumbo shrimp, ¾ cup salad


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup SPLENDA®No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper – trimmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced mango
  • 1 pinch black pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over high heat; add shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Using tongs, transfer shrimp to a plate. Add vinegar, SPLENDA®Sweetener, crushed red pepper, and jalapeno. Bring to a boil and cook for 4-5 minutes or until reduced by half, then remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place arugula, red pepper, and mango in a large bowl. Toss gently with some of the dressing and season to taste.
  3. Divide arugula mixture among 4 serving plates; top each salad with two shrimp and drizzle evenly with the warm vinegar mixture. Season with black pepper to taste.                        Nutrition Info


Dessert can still be sweet with less added sugars

Make delicious desserts with less added sugars using Splenda

Apple Bread Pudding 
Whole grain bread, apples and cinnamon make a sweet dessert. This recipe was created with the American Heart Association as part of the Simple Cooking with Heart®Program to help families learn how to make great nutritious meals at home.

Servings Per Recipe: 6; Serving Size: 3”x4” piece


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 whole egg and 1 egg white
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons SPLENDA®Brown Sugar Blend
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves or allspice
  • 6 slices light style whole-grain or multi grain bread cut in to cubes
  • 3 medium apples, cored and cut in to 1/2 inch cubes

Optional: 1/4 cup of any one of the following: raisins, dried cranberries, fresh or dried blueberries, chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds.#


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray 9×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, milk, SPLENDA®Sweetener , vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves.
  4. Add bread and apple cubes. Add additional fruit or nuts if desired. Mix well.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy with a glass of skim or low-fat milk!

# Note: Optional ingredients are not included in the nutrition analysis.                                         Nutrition Info

Citrus Mint Tea
A refreshing drink to keep on hand for the family and a favorite of thirsty guests.

Servings Per Recipe: 10; Serving Size:8-fl. oz.


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 5 regular-size tea bags
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup SPLENDA®No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • Garnish: lemon slices, orange slices, fresh mint sprigs


  1. Pour boiling water over tea bags and mint leaves; cover and steep 5 minutes.
  2. Remove tea bags and mint, squeezing gently.
  3. Stir in SPLENDA®Sweetener and remaining ingredients.
  4. Serve over ice. Garnish with lemon slices, orange slices and fresh mint sprigs.              Nutrition Info

* SPLENDA® ”diabetes friendly” recipes contain < 35% of total calories from fat, < 10% of total calories form saturated fat, and no more than 45 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

** SPLENDA® ”heart healthy” recipes contain < 6.5 grams of total fat, < 10% of total calories form saturated fat, <= 240 mg of sodium and at least 10% of the Daily Value of one of these nutrients (vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or dietary fiber). While many factors affect heart disease, diets low in saturated fat may reduce the risk of this disease.

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

To learn more recipe tips for cooking and baking with SPLENDA® Sweeteners, visit the Cooking & Baking section of this blog.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well. 

Dieary patterns are more important to health than fad diets

The Hottest New Diet Isn’t a Diet at All

Meet the dietary pattern, a style of eating with a proven record of success.

This post was originally written as a guest blog for

Diets are out; dietary patterns are in – at least, that’s what the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans seems to say.

That’s big news for those of us who like to incorporate the report’s nutrition advice into our personal eating habits when it comes out every five years. This time, the government suggests we abandon diets that glorify or shun single foods and nutrients (think butter, eggs, fat and fiber – past years’ targets) and shift our attention to overall eating patterns, or the sum total of what, how often and how much we eat, as well as what we eat it with.

Why the move away from “good food/bad food” diets? For one, nutrition science is continually evolving and we are learning from our mistakes. Back in the 1980s, for instance, the guidelines told us to cut back on “bad fats” to lower our risk of heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death for Americans. But people who followed that recommendation filled the void on their plates with simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, bagels and fat-free cookies. In time, we learned those foods weren’t any better for our hearts (or waistlines) than the high-fat fare they replaced.

So in 2000, we tried again. The guidelines issued that year redeemed fats – as long as they were “good fats.” This recommendation was based on newer research linking populations that regularly ate olive oil, avocados and almonds with a lower incidence of heart disease. We followed suit, dipping our bread in olive oil, adding sliced avocado to our burgers and making almonds our go-to snack. But so far, the only thing that has improved is sales of those foods. Our single-minded pursuit of the perfect food (or fat) to fight heart disease has kept us from seeing everything else that contributes to its lower rates in people with different dietary patterns.

Now, after spending more than two decades rationing just three eggs into our weekly menus, we’re being told cholesterol isn’t as bad for us as we once thought. Does that mean it’s time to order the broiled lobster tail with drawn butter to celebrate?

Not so fast.

What it means is precisely what the latest Dietary Guidelines concluded: When it comes to diet, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Put another way, when you eat foods together, their health benefits are greater than a single food could produce on its own. For example, eating eggs every day can lower your risk of heart disease if you are also eating plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, fish and olive oil. On the other hand, eating eggs every day along with regular servings of fatty meats, refined grains and excess sodium from highly-processed foods can increase that risk. That’s because the connection to heart disease isn’t just about the eggs – it’s also about everything else we consume with them.

Another advantage of adopting a healthy dietary pattern is that the benefits are cumulative, like compounded interest. So, people who have been eating a Mediterranean-style pattern all their lives, for instance, get an immediate return on investment by meeting their nutritional needs early in life to support optimal growth and development. Later, they receive a long-term dividend by preventing, or greatly reducing, their risk of suffering from the noncommunicable diseases of adulthood, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration and the ubiquitous heart disease. But this payoff requires making consistent contributions to your healthy eating plan, just like building retirement wealth depends on making consistent contributions to your 401K. Both are more effective the sooner you get started.

Choosing a healthy dietary pattern over a diet also leaves more room for the occasional holiday food exemption. (Sorry, but weekends don’t count as “occasional.”) That approach is different from the can-eat-can’t-eat diet style, in which we’re open to every loophole that might give us a free pass. Have you ever rushed off to work without eating breakfast so you feel entitled to partake in the office pastries? How about arriving home from work too tired to chop vegetables, so you eat pizza (without a salad) for dinner? What about the Sunday you finally get the whole family together for brunch and end up eating eggs benedict and a Belgian waffle to celebrate? You get the picture: Food choices can change with the seasons, but a dietary pattern remains the same.

Convinced yet? If so, the highly regarded Mediterranean and DASH  plans are a great place  to start. Those patterns offer the best of what is known about the food-health connection when put together right, so you won’t have to upgrade to something new in another five years. You also won’t have to worry about getting caught up in the next fad diet that promises to solve all your health and weight issues because history has shown us they don’t work in the long term. Think gluten-free, low-glycemic index, high-protein, low-carb, antioxidant-rich, paleo and probiotic diets, to name a few. It’s time to move on something more sustainable.

You can start transitioning to a healthier pattern by following some of these simple tips. The goal is to make the right choice a habit so it becomes your default option.

  • Eat at least one piece of whole fruit daily.
  • Order “whole wheat” as your bread choice for sandwiches, toast and pizza crust.
  • Choose fish over meat or poultry for an entree at least once a week.
  • Drink one full glass of water with each meal.
  • Add a layer of fresh or grilled vegetables to every sandwich.
  • Use nuts or seeds instead of croutons on salad.
  • Make chili with more beans and less (or no) meat.
  • Have brown rice with all Chinese takeout.
  • Include some vegetables whenever you grill.
  • Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in cooking and baking.
  • Make your meat portions no larger than the palm of your hand.
  • Choose vegetables to top pizza, fill an omelet, stuff a potato or stretch a soup.
  • Keep hummus, salsa and sliced vegetables on hand as your go-to snack.
  • Be more inclusive of fruits and vegetables by including fresh, frozen, canned and dried varieties in your repertoire.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and cultural anthropologist who has spent her 30-plus year career counseling, teaching and writing about food, nutrition and health. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food choices possible in their everyday lives. You can read her blog at and follow her on Twitter at@EverydayRD.

Use low caloire sweeteners to reduce added sugars in the diet

Hitting the Sweet Spot in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Savor the Flavor for National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month Savor the Flavor

Use National Nutrition Month to make progress towards meeting the goals of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans by reducing the added sugars in your diet

If you’re a numbers person you’re going to love the news in the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines) about the amount of added sugars we can include in our diets. If you don’t like mathematics or tracking everything you eat, the news is dreadful.

The Guidelines say we should limit our added sugars to no more than 10 percent of our total calories as part of a healthy eating pattern. To figure that out we need to record the calories in everything we eat and drink all day so we can find the total calories we consume, and then take 10 percent of that to know how many calories we can devote to added sugars. Once we have that number we must divide it by 4 to determine the number of grams our added sugars can weigh, or we can divide the sugar calories by 16 to calculate the number of teaspoons we can have.

Now all we have to do is keep track of those grams and/or teaspoons of sugar, along with all the calories, to be sure we don’t exceed our daily allowance. And don’t forget to reserve some of your “sugar allotment” if you have a special occasion coming up that might include a decadent dessert. You need to budget for that.

What’s Missing from the Sugar Reduction Strategy?

A thorough reading of the 300+ pages of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in early 2016, did reveal a few shortcuts to these calculations, but the results won’t be as accurate. The “strategies” offered to help us reduce added sugars from our beverages are to simply omit the sugar, choose unsweetened drinks or ones containing less sugar, have sweetened drinks less often or have them in smaller portions.

The only strategies on how to reduce added sugars from grain-based desserts (cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries) or dairy desserts (ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, and custard) are equally imprecise. The Guidelines suggest “limiting or decreasing portion size” or choosing the unsweetened or no-sugar added versions.

Given these options you’ll be out of luck if your menu tonight includes a garden salad with French dressing, grilled chicken with barbecue sauce and a side of baked beans, a tall glass of fresh squeezed lemonade and some homemade blueberry crisp for dessert. You’d be getting more than 25 teaspoons of added sugars in that meal, even with modest portions, and that’s more than double the amount most of us can include in our daily diets.

That just doesn’t seem right and it doesn’t hold true to another key message in the Guidelines that states, “Any eating pattern can be tailored to the individual’s socio-cultural and personal preferences.”

What’s missing from these “strategies” are ways to use high-intensity sweeteners (also known as sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners), or products made with them, to replace some of the added sugars in our food and beverages so we can retain the sweet taste that is such an integral part of our eating experience.
What the Guidelines do say on the subject is:

“High-intensity sweeteners that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and sucralose. Based on the available scientific evidence, these high-intensity sweeteners have been determined to be safe for the general population.”

Why not recommend high-intensity sweeteners as a guaranteed way to reduce added sugars in the diet? Every time they are used in a food or beverage they can reduce our total added sugars consumption while providing the sweet taste we want. Instead, we are being asked to give up or use less honey in our tea, syrup on our pancakes and jelly with our peanut butter.

Replacing some of the added sugars in our diets with high-intensity sweeteners is a “strategy” that can produce big results without doing all that math. Substituting one can of diet soda for a can of regular soda automatically eliminates 10 teaspoons of added sugars from our day no matter what other changes we may make. Using a yellow sugar substitute packet instead of sugar in three cups of coffee a day removes six teaspoons of sugar from our tally. Preparing blueberry crisp with a sugar substitute deletes a cup of sugar from the recipe.

There are many other food and beverage choices we must also make to meet the goals in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Having the chance to enjoy a little sweetness in our meals will make them easier.

About the author: Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and cultural anthropologist with over 35 years of experience specializing in food, nutrition and health communications. She is a consultant to several food and beverage companies, including the Calorie Control Council and Heartland Food Products Group. She is author of the blog “The Everyday RD” and tweets as @EverydayRD.

This blog was originally written for You can read the original post here.

Learn how fat soluble nutrients can be absorbed when using fat free dressing

Do Fat Free Dressings Block Nutrients in Salad?

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.


Hold the trash! It’s not time to discard all those bottles of fat free dressing you have stored on your refrigerator door just yet.

Yes, a study done at Purdue University did make quite a splash this week with its report you absorb more of the nutrients in your salad if your dressing contains fat, but it didn’t tell the whole story. What we really got was another example of the kind of research that proves why you shouldn’t change your diet based on a single study.

What the Salad Dressing Study Did Find

The researchers wanted to see what type of fat and how much of it produced the biggest change in blood levels of certain fat-soluble phytonutrients. Their study included 29 healthy subjects who had to eat 9 salads containing baby spinach leaves, chopped tomato, and shredded carrots, each with a different type and amount of dressing.

The dressings were made with 3 types of fat: canola oil for its monounsaturated fat, corn oil for its polyunsaturated fat, and butter for its saturated fat. The amount of dressing on each salad provided either 3 grams of fat, 6 grams, or 20 grams. This made a total of nine different salad samples.

After the subjects ate each salad, their blood was tested to measure their absorption of carotenoids. Carotenoids are compounds with names like lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin that are found in plants and have numerous health benefits. Because carotenoids are fat soluble, they are better absorbed when consumed and digested with fat.

As expected, higher levels of carotenoids were found in the subjects’ blood after eating salads with the higher amounts of fat. This held true for all three types of fat. The best absorption of carotenoids for the least amount of fat was seen with the canola oil, or monounsaturated fat.

What the Study Did Not Find

The study did not tell us what would happen if you ate other foods containing some fat along with those salads or put some fat-containing foods on them. Good nutrition science says you can use a fat free dressing and still absorb the carotenoids in your salad as long as another source of fat is consumed around the same time.

I have been advising clients for decades that a salad is not a meal unless you add some protein and a greater variety of vegetables than were included in this study. I also know that anyone who tries to get away with eating a plain salad and fat free dressing for a meal will not last long. Fortunately (in this case), the snack they reach for shortly afterwards will probably be high in fat.

So if you like to toss your salads with olives, nuts, avocado or cheese; top them with egg, chicken, salmon, tuna, falafel, steak or bacon; or follow them with lasagna, beef bourguignon or chicken tikka masala, go ahead and use that fat free dressing. Your carotenoid levels will be fine.

 How many different dressings to have in your house?

Tips for parents and grandparents to get kids to eat more vegetables

11 Ways to Get Kids to Eat More Vegetables

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.


 Parents and grandparents alike want to know how to get kids to eat more vegetables. It was the number one question my clients asked me when I was a pediatric dietitian over 20 years ago. Since then, the quest to find ways to get more vegetables into children has grown steadily.

I knew we had reached the tipping point after reading the results of a survey done by a major frozen vegetable company a few years ago.  They found parents thought their children had a greater chance of becoming president of the United States than eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day! I can’t find a link to the study, but the results stuck with me.

Are Vegetables and Obesity Linked?

I remember wondering at the time if this was a global problem? Have children around the world suddenly started turning up their noses at turnips? And if so, is there a link between the aversion to vegetables among children today and the growing rates of obesity?

My professional instincts told me it wasn’t that simple. Modern lifestyles have changed dramatically since the dawn of the “Information/Digital Age” in the late 70’s. The impact of all that technology and information has been universal, and rapid.

One could argue that the only reason parents worry about how many servings of vegetables their kids eat today is because they now know how many they should be eating. Technology has added to their  frustration by making an abundant assortment of vegetables available all year round.  All that’s left is getting kids to eat them.

The USDA’s new ChooseMyPlate eating plan did its part by recommending that we fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.  Here are some other proven strategies to help your little ones eat like bunnies.

Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables

Imitation. Make sure the child sees you and others in the family eating the same vegetables.

Smile! Ever see someone frowning while licking an ice cream cone?  Children need to see the same expression of enjoyment when you are eating or serving them vegetables.

Repeat exposure. Don’t stop offering them, even if they have been rejected by the child in the past, and don’t stop eating them yourself.

Different textures. Vary the textures (and odors) by serving them raw, cooked, and frozen, such as frozen peas and carrots.

Visual stimulation. Feature different colors and shapes to spark curiosity, such as lima beans, button mushrooms, and baby beets.

Pair with favorites. Vegetables can be put on a pizza, in a dip, or under melted cheese that the child already likes.

Offer any time. Dinner is typically the meal with the most food to eat, so vegetables have to compete with other preferred foods. Make vegetables available at other times of day, especially when kids are hungriest.

Reward the willing. Research suggests a tangible reward or verbal praise can be effective in getting a child to try, and learn to like, a food they are not otherwise motivated to eat.

Change the Name. Some vegetables may have unpleasant associations to a child, such as “squash” and “succotash.”

Let them help. Take them to the grocery store or farm market to select vegetables they’d like to try; let them use age-appropriate gadgets to peel, shred and chop.

Don’t deceive. If you incorporate vegetables in another dish, tell them you made “carrot-tomato sauce” or “carrot-raisin muffins.” They need to appreciate that the vegetables are there, not be wary of them.

 Which list is longer, the one of vegetables you do like or the ones you don’t?

Find plenty of tips and recipes on vegetables from artichoke to zucchini at Fruits & Veggies More Matters

Vegetables in jars and cans from your pantry shelf add nutritional value to salad when fresh produce is not available

9 Nutritious Salad Toppers (From Your Pantry Shelf)

Vegetables in jars and cans add nutritional value to salad when fresh produce is not available

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you love making salad from the wide assortment of fresh garden vegetables available in the summer months, your wait is almost over. But while you wait, there are many ways to add variety to your plated greens. Just turn to the jars and cans of pickled and marinated vegetables on your pantry shelf. They can offer an endless array of tastes, textures, nutrients and eye-appeal to your meals until that first rosey radish is plucked from the ground.


9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Artichoke Hearts

Sold marinated or packed in water, both easily drained to lower the sodium content

Calories: 25 in 3 water-packed hearts or 25 per heart packed in oil and drained

Key Vitamins: C, folate

Key Minerals: magnesium, copper, potassium

Other Nutrients: cyanin and silymarin which aid liver function

Reese Specialty Foods


9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Beets

Sold whole, quartered or sliced with a no added salt option.

Calories: 35 per half cup sliced, 22 whole per 2 inch diameter

Key Vitamins: folate, C

Key Mineral: manganese, potassium, magnesium

Other Nutrients: betacyanin, which may protect against colon cancer

Food in Jars


9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Baby Corn

Sold whole and in pieces, packed in water

Calories: 6 per ear, 65 per ½ cup pieces

Key Vitamins: folate, B6, C

Key Mineral: potassium, magnesium, iron

Other Nutrients: fiber, zeaxanthin and lutein, which are good for eye health

Roland Food Company Baby Corn


9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Asparagus

Sold whole and in pieces, in white or green

Calories: 3 per spear, 20 per half cup pieces drained

Key Vitamins: A, C, K, folate

Key Mineral: copper, manganese, selenium

Other Nutrients: carotenes and cryto-xanthins, which have anti-oxidant properties

Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board


9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Better Salad: Olives

Sold in different sizes ripe, cured, stuffed, spiced, and sliced; in single or mixed varieties; pitted or not

Calories: 5 each for medium size, 75 per ½ cup sliced or chopped

Key Vitamins: E, A

Key Mineral: calcium, iron, zinc

Other Nutrients: oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, needed to form cell membranes

Lindsay Olives


 9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Mushrooms

Sold whole and in pieces; pickled, marinated or in water

Calories: 3 per whole mushroom, 22 per ½ cup pieces

Key Vitamins: D and B-complex vitamins riboflavin, niacin, pantothentic acid

Key Mineral: copper, selenium, potassium

Key Phytonutrients: ergothioneine, an antioxidant which protects the cells

The Mushroom Council


9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Peppers

Sold grilled and roasted; whole, sliced, strips and diced; red, green, yellow and orange

Calories: 40 calories per whole bell pepper,

Key Vitamins: A, C, folate

Key Mineral: potassium, iron, magnesium

Other Nutrients: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene, which can be converted into vitamin A

B&G Peppers


9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Red or yellow; marinated or in water; whole, halved or sliced; plain or seasoned

Calories: 6 per whole piece in oil and drained; 115 per half cup sliced in oil and drained

Key Vitamins: A, C, B-complex riboflavin, niacin, B6

Key Mineral: potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium

Other Nutrients: lycopene, associated with lower risks of cancer and heart disease

Tomato Products Wellness Council


9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Onions

Sold in water, vinegar or “cocktail” style brine

Calories: 5 each small whole (size of grape), 35 per ½ cup

Key Vitamins: C, B6, folate

Key Minerals: potassium, phosphorus, calcium

Other Nutrients: quercetin, helps eliminate free radicals

The National Onion Association

Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

Some Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

When looking for foods that can improve your heart health, many of the ones most often recommended are either expensive, not easy to find, or are foods you don’t like. That doesn’t mean you have no chance of lowering your risk factors for heart disease through diet. The same attributes in those commonly named “heart-healthy” foods are found in many other more palatable options.


Sardines – Salmon gets all the attention when it comes to fatty fish, but sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA you can get, and at a much lower price all year round. The oils in fatty fish help lower triglycerides in the blood and reduce blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. A 3-ounce serving eaten twice a week is all you need.


Black beans – Oatmeal is recognized as being good for your heart, but dry beans, like black beans, have the same benefits and are far more versatile in the diet. Beans are a good source of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and keeps it from being absorbed. They are also rich in phytonutrients, like flavonoids, that can inhibit the clumping of platelets in the blood. Eating ½ cup a day can make a difference.


Raisins –Like blueberries, raisins are rich in antioxidants that help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and markers for inflammation. Unlike blueberries, raisins are convenient to have on hand no matter what the season. Enjoy ¼ cup as a fruit serving daily.


Popcorn – Whole grains don’t just in the form of breads and cereals. Popcorn is a whole grain and a good source of polyphenols, a naturally occurring antioxidant, that improves heart health. It’s very budget friendly and a satisfying snack as long as it’s prepared without excess salt and oil.


Milk– Most often associated with calcium, milk is also high in potassium which is maintain the fluid balance in the body and help the kidneys eliminate excess sodium. With as much potassium as a medium banana, every 8 ounce glass of fat free milk you drink is a great way to keep your heart strong.


Plant Stanols and Sterols – These compounds are found in very small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and grains. They help block the absorption of cholesterol, but there is not enough of them in foods to get the 2 grams a day needed for cholesterol-lowering benefits. Daily use of foods fortified with stanols and sterols, such as Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange juice and Benecol spread, is an valuable way to supplement a heart-healthy diet.

White vegetables have same health benefits as more colorful ones and many culinary advantages

White Vegetables Offer Health and Culinary Benefits


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

There’s so much talk about the health benefits of eating colorful fruits and vegetables, I think the white ones get over looked. That’s too bad because they are a source of important nutrients, just like the more colorful ones, and winter is the perfect time to incorporate the many white vegetables into your meals while they are in season.

The most popular white vegetables eaten year round are potatoes, onions, and cauliflower. But the cold weather months are when parsnips, turnips, and kohlrabi should be added to your shopping list. You’ve probably seen them in the produce aisle and walked right past them in pursuit of some dark green kale or bright orange squash, but don’t be deceived by their pale hue. They are nutrition powerhouses, too.

Another way to get more white vegetables into your diet is by adding more of the aromatic varieties to your recipes. Think garlic, shallots, leek, and ginger to provide a big boost of flavor to any dish. If your salads need more crunch during the long winter months when garden is bare, turn to white jicama and Jerusalem artichokes, also known as Sunchokes. Both can be eaten raw or cooked and stored in the refrigerator for 1-3 weeks.

And don’t forget mushrooms, my personal favorite! They are one of the most versatile white vegetables you can have in your kitchen. Mushrooms provide a meaty texture, the savory taste known as umami, and an important source of Vitamin D, which no other vegetable has. They are also low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium.

For recipes and information on storage and selections visit:

Fruits & Veggies More Matters

U.S. Potato Board

Mushroom Council

Milk and milk products provide an overlooked source of protein

Milk is a Great Source of Protein, Too!


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Most people know that milk is a great source of calcium. Unfortunately the connection between milk and calcium has been so well taught, many people don’t know about the other important nutrients found in milk and milk products. Protein is one of them.

In my work with vegetarians, finicky eaters, and others who struggle to plan nutritionally balanced diets, the question of how to get good sources of protein always comes up. When I point out the protein content of milk, yogurt, and cheese, they are always surprised those foods can supply protein and calcium at the same time.

The truth is, most foods provide an array of different nutrients. But in an effort to make menu planning easier, nutrition educators have grouped foods according to the key nutrients they contain. For example, milk became known for its calcium, orange juice for its vitamin C, and meat for its protein. That strategy obviously had some drawbacks when it came to learning about the other nutrients those foods contain.

So for those who need more protein in their diets and are not able to get it all from meat and meat substitutes, such as beans, nuts and soy products, milk is your go-to source. Milk is also a good source of Vitamins A, B2, B12, and D and a good source of the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium in addition to calcium.

Ways to Add Milk Products into Your Meals

A big advantage in using milk products to bulk up your protein intake is how easily they can be combined with other foods without taxing your appetite. For just a few ideas, you can add powdered milk to fluid milk, use evaporated milk to make “creamed” soups, blend strained yogurt into mashed potatoes, melt cheese onto your vegetables, stir ricotta cheese into pasta before adding sauce, or whip cottage cheese to use as a base for a cream sauce.

Protein Content of Milk Products

1 cup portion used for easy comparison

grams protein

28 Cheese, shredded: American, Cheddar, Mozzarella

28 Cottage Cheese: low fat or full fat

28 Ricotta Cheese: part skim or full fat

24 Powdered Milk, instant: fat free

22 Greek (strained) Yogurt, plain: fat free or reduced fat

19 Evaporated Milk, canned: fat free or reduced fat

14 Yogurt, plain: fat free or low fat

11 Milk Plus: fat free

8 Fluid Milk: fat fee, low fat, reduced fat and whole

Calories, nutrients in food, physical activity and more can all be tracked using new online tool

Keeping Track of Food, Calories & Fitness Just Got Easier!


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Have you been eating more fruits and vegetables? If so you can credit the USDA and its private sector partners for getting out the message to “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” That campaign began in September 2011 following the release of the ChooseMyPlate icon, designed to help reshape the nations eating habits.

Now it’s time to take it up a notch.

From January through April 2012 the key message is “Enjoy your food, but eat less.” I love the message because it reinforces the fact that eating is meant to be enjoyed – not something we hear too often from a government program!

The best part about this new campaign is that it comes with a great line up of online tools to help you plan and keep track of your food, fitness and health. It’s called SuperTracker and includes:

Food-A-Pedia – Includes over 8000 foods you can look up to see their nutrient content and make comparisons to other foods

Food Tracker – Lets you enter the foods you eat each day to track your intake and compare it to your nutrition goals

Physical Activity Tracker – Lets you enter your daily activities and tracks your progress

My Weight Manager – Get weight management guidance by entering of your weight and tracking your progress

My Top 5 Goals – Select your personal health goals then sign in for tips and support from a virtual coach

My Reports – Get reports to see progress towards goals and trends over time

All you have to do is login and create a personal profile to take advantage of all these valuable tools and resources. I can’t think of a better way to learn how to “enjoy your food, but eat less.”