Pancakes can be part of a healthy diet when made with the right ingredients and paired with the right side dishes

Making a Place for Pancakes in Your Diet

This blog was written as a guest post for The Skinny on Low Cal site. You can access the original post here.

The way we judge foods is a lot like the way we judge people – by the company they keep. Pancakes are a great example of that. They are a really good-for-you food made of flour, milk and eggs in their most basic version, but they’re often viewed in a negative way by dieters. My theory is it’s because they frequently hang out with a big dollop of butter and are surrounded by super-sweet syrup. Sometimes they can even be found snuggled up against several strips of fatty bacon. How can anyone’s reputation survive that?

If you’ve removed pancakes from your diet it may be for the wrong reason. It’s time to give them a chance to return with the right makeover.

While it is unknown when or where batter was poured onto a hot stone slab to make the first pancake, the idea quickly caught on and has been replicated in cuisines around the world. They are enjoyed as both a sweet and a savory part of the meal, for breakfast or dinner, flat or leavened and stacked or stuffed. The varieties are as limitless as the cooks who make them since all you have to do to create a new recipe is change the type of flour or grain used, add some signature spices or extracts and top them with an original syrup or sauce. Mistaking the almond extract for vanilla was all it took for me to invent my now famous toasted almond pancakes with Amaretto syrup!

The nutritional value of a plate of pancakes also varies right along with the recipe and the number of pancakes made per batch. That means they don’t all have the same caloric content, either. Fortunately, even if you’re making them from a mix you still have control over some of the ingredients added to it and can make smaller pancakes to help reduce the calories.

Some simple substitutions to cut calories in your favorite pancake recipe include using:

  • fat-free milk instead of whole milk
  • egg substitute instead of whole eggs
  • sugar substitute instead of sugar
  • applesauce instead of some of the oil
  • sugar-free syrup instead of regular
  • light soft spread instead of butter

To help you become reacquainted with this popular food loved by kids and adults alike, try this foolproof recipe for Apple Pancakes. I’d love to know how you liked them and what else you’re pairing up with your pancakes to help improve their reputation!

Registered dietitian and nutrition expert Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN has more than 30 years of experience counseling patients and teaching at the university level. She is also the author of two books on nutrition. Follow her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her other posts here.

Two women toasting a man while dining at an outside table

Great Summer Foods for Grown Ups

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013.


When children are home and school is in session, meal schedules and menus revolve around them and their taste preferences. Once they’re off to camp for the summer it’s time for adult tastes to rule the kitchen (and grill). Foods with adult flavors can be found in every aisle of the store. Here are 7 of my favorites that will definitely be on my summer food shopping list and part of my healthy summer recipes.



Chobani Greek Yogurt Bites Fig with Orange Zest

This is the most exceptional flavor combo in the dairy case! I just love it and am so happy the “bite” size containers are just 100 calories each. I can have one as a midmorning snack then enjoy another for a satisfying, thick and creamy dessert at night. The Chobani Blood Orange Non-fat Greek Yogurt takes second place for best grown up food flavor of the year.


Wegman’s Organic Wild Mushroom & Herb Chicken Sausage

There are other brands of chicken sausage out there, but Wegman’s Organic Wild Mushroom & Herb does it best for me. If you don’t have a Wegman’s in your neighborhood, you can try the Al Fresco or Dietz & Watson chicken sausage, but it’s hard to find a comparable product to the Wegman’s regular or organic line. Just grill with vegetables or cut them up to top a summer salad.


Campbell’s Golden Lentil with Madras Curry GO Soup

I fell in love with the Campbell’s line of Go soups in pouches over the winter and am not about to give them up as the temperatures rise. Each variety is authentically seasoned and the pouches maintain the texture of the vegetables, chicken and lentils like no other prepared soup I’ve ever tasted. Just turn down the A/C and give them a try.



Brown Rice Sea Salt & Black Pepper Triscuits

There are so many crackers on the shelves it’s hard to imagine there could be anything new worth trying. But there is. Nabisco’s new line of Triscuits made with brown rice are lighter and crisper and come in five flavors that weren’t developed with toddlers in mind.

morningstar farms


Morningstar Farms Mediterranean Chickpea Burger

I’ve become a big fan of bean and veggie burgers because they deliver such big taste in so few calories and with a lot less fat than straight-up meat patties. The flavor profiles go from the Southwest to Asia and the Mediterranean, so just add the complementary condiments for a burger that won’t bore you. And if you’re as wild about mushrooms as I am, don’t overlook the Morningstar Farms Mushroom Lover’s Burger.




Glaceau Orange Mango fruitwater naturally flavored sparkling water beverage

I’m not a fan of plain water so run the risk of not drinking enough in the summer months when hydration requirements are highest. Now I don’t have to worry because I love these great-tasting, naturally fruit flavored, zero calorie sparkling water beverages from Glaceau. They’re available in 5 flavors that refresh without drowning your palate in artificial flavors like so many kids’ drinks do.



Dole Banana Dippers covered in dark chocolate

I’ve found the perfect frozen novelty that tastes like ice cream but isn’t. They’re banana slices dipped in dark chocolate. Each sleeve has 4 slices with only 25 calories each, but it feels like so much more as the dark chocolate slowly melts in your mouth and combines with the soft, sweet banana. The kids won’t know what they’re missing!



Mature woman holding hot water bottle over her stomach

The FODMAP Diet and IBS

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


When I first saw the word FODMAP a few years ago I thought it was a misspelling of the word foodmap. Even with that misinterpretation, I had no idea what foodmap meant, either. Then I started to see a lot more mentions of FODMAP and realized it wasn’t a typo. There was a food story here and I was prepared to follow its trail to see where it took me, map or no map.

If you like culinary excursions, this is a journey worth knowing about.

What is FODMAP?

This string of letters is an acronym for the words Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols. They represent specific types of sugars and carbohydrates commonly found in foods.

Why are FODMAPs getting attention?

Some people have difficulty digesting or absorbing these substances, which can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) problems when they pass into the large intestines and are fermented by the bacteria normally found there. This fermentation can cause gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal distress.

Which sugars and carbohydrates are FODMAPs?

The oligosaccharides include carbohydrates classified as fructans and galactans. Fructans are found in a variety of vegetables, cereal grains including wheat and rye, and the soluble fiber called inulin. Galactans can be found in canned beans such as baked beans and kidney beans, plus dried beans, peas and lentils. The main disaccharide on the list is lactose. It is found primarily in milk products from cows, goats and sheep and is used as an additive in other foods.

Fructose is the main monosaccharide identified in FODMAPs. It is naturally found in honey and most fruits, especially dried and canned fruits and fruit juices where it is concentrated. It is also in the sweetener high fructose corn syrup.

Polyols are naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables and are found in sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol and isomalt.

Who might be a candidate for a low FODMAP diet?

People who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease are often recommended to use this diet to relieve their symptoms, along with anyone who has unresolved GI problems and suspects they may be sensitive to one or more FODMAPs. The first step is an elimination diet trial to see if your symptoms are triggered by FODMAPs, and if so, which ones. This involves removing all sources of FODMAP foods for one to two weeks to see if the symptoms disappear. If they do, the FODMAPs are gradually reintroduced, one category at a time, to see which ones are tolerated and which ones cause problems for you.

How strict must you be on a FODMAP diet?

After the elimination diet trial, you know which foods you don’t digest well. You may find you can tolerate certain ones in small quantities, but not several different ones in the same day. The goal is to have as varied a diet as possible without suffering from the side effects.

Where can you get help with a FODMAP diet?

It is very important to work with a FODMAPs trained registered dietitian who can develop a personalized food plan that insures all of your nutritional needs are being met once the offending foods are removed. This diet should not be attempted without professional advice since there is no simple list of foods high in FODMAPs, so you may continue to eat products containing them and have symptoms without realizing why.

For more news on digestive disorders be sure to read:

  • Prebiotics Feed Bacteria in the Gut
  • Constipation: How to Cure It
  • Is Diarrhea a Sign of a Food Allergy?
  • Which Foods and Fibers Can Prevent Constipation?
  • Latest Crash Diets: Going Gluten and Wheat Free
Woman on table having abdomen examined by physician

Crash Diets and Gallstone Attacks

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


If you want to reduce your weight, lowering your caloric intake is an option. If you want to reduce your risk of gallbladder attacks while losing weight, don’t lower your caloric level too far.

Crash diets have been proven to increase gallstone attacks.

Crash Diets and Gallstones

A new study from researchers in Sweden followed 6,640 people for one year who were losing weight on diets with different caloric levels. The “crash diet” included liquid meals providing 500 calories a day for six to 10 weeks. After that phase, those dieters gradually resumed eating solid food and followed a maintenance diet for nine months with an exercise regimen.

The other dieters followed a “low calorie diet” with between 1200 and 1500 calories a day for the first three months. It also included two liquid meals a day, then transitioned to a weight maintenance diet of all solid food for the next nine months.

As reported in the International Journal of Obesity, 48 people on the crash diet developed gallstones requiring hospital treatment while only 16 people in the low calorie group did.

One reason offered for this difference in gallstone attacks is that the people on the crash diet lost more weight. They had an average loss of 30 pounds at three months compared to 17 pounds for the low calorie group and an average loss of 24.5 pounds at the end of one year compared to 18 pounds for the others.

Even though obesity is a risk factor for gallstones, losing weight too quickly just makes the problem worse.

What Causes Gallbladder Attacks?

The gallbladder’s function is to hold bile, a liquid made in the liver, and release it during digestion when needed to help breakdown fats. Bile contains water, bile salts, protein, bilirubin (a waste product), cholesterol and fat.

The most common type of gallstones is made from cholesterol. When there is too much cholesterol in the bile it can harden into small pebble-like substances – or stones.

During rapid weight loss the liver secrets extra cholesterol into the bile, and that can increase the risk of gallstone formation. It is also believed gallstones are formed when the gallbladder does not empty completely or often enough, which is the case when eating a very low fat diet.

Bile travels through ducts, or tubes, to get from the liver to the gallbladder to the intestines. If there are stones in a bile duct that block the flow of bile it can cause inflammation. That can lead to the fever, jaundice and the pain commonly associated with a gallstone attack.

Who Gets Gallstones?

In addition to being overweight and losing weight too quickly, simply having gallstones is a risk factor for developing more. Other contributing factors identified by the National Digestive Disease Information Clearing House include:

Female – Women are twice as like as men to develop gallstones

Family History – There is a possible genetic link to gallstone problems

Diet – The more cholesterol and fat in your diet, the greater your chances of making gallstones

Ethnicity – American Indians have a genetic predisposition for gallstones and Mexican-Americans men and women also have higher rates

Cholesterol-lowering drugs – Drugs that lower blood cholesterol levels may increase the amount of cholesterol in the bile

Gallstone attacks typically occur after eating a meal and can mimic signs of a heart attack, so getting a proper evaluation is critical.

If your pain is in your lower back, see my post about kidney stones to see if they are a problem for you.

Woman with kidney stones standing with hands on her back

Does Calcium Cause Kidney Stones?

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


The one thing everyone agrees with when discussing kidney stones is how painful they are. Having had them twice in my life I can confirm all reports about how excruciating they are. Childbirth was easier.

What is not so clear is the connection between calcium and kidney stones.

Some new research provides much needed insight into the causes of kidney stones and what we can do to prevent the pain that goes with them.

What Are Kidney Stones?

The most common types of kidney stones are composed of either calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. Calcium, oxalate and phosphate are all minerals that are part of a healthy diet and are normally dissolved in the urine. Under certain conditions, however, they can precipitate out of solution and form small insoluble stones that are passed through the urinary tract unnoticed.

The biggest contributor to the formation of these stones is not drinking enough fluids. The more fluids we drink the more urine we produce, and the more urine we produce the more diluted the minerals will become in our urine.

Another contributor is a high salt diet. When we have excess sodium in our bodies the kidneys must use all available fluids to dilute the sodium so it can be excreted in the urine. That increases the risk that other minerals will precipitate and form stones.

If stones do form and they become too big to pass easily, they can cause the notorious back pain. This, along with the other tell-tale signs of a kidney problem blood such as blood in the urine and pain while urinating, should send you straight to the doctor.

Does Calcium Cause Kidney Stones?

Even though too little fluid and too much sodium are the leading causes of kidney stones, it was widely believed that calcium was the problem since most kidney stones contain calcium. But studies have shown calcium is not the culprit.

People who have the most calcium in their diets are much less likely to suffer from kidney stones than those who eat very few calcium-rich foods. Here’s why.

We need calcium to remove oxalate, the other half of what makes up most kidney stones. Oxalate is found in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and soy products, plus cocoa and black tea. There’s really no avoiding it and maintaining a healthy diet. But the more calcium we have in our digestive tracts, the more it can bind with oxalate and remove it from the body before it can settle in the kidneys.

If we cut back too much on calcium, oxalate can accumulate in the kidneys and create stones with the available calcium.

The key here is that it is dietary calcium that helps, such as that found in dairy products and other calcium-rich foods. Calcium supplements are not as effective and may contribute to stone formation if taken in large quantities.

What Else Can Cause Kidney Stones?

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has an Information Clearinghouse that answers all of the questions you may have about kidney stones, and more. The key takeaways for anyone wondering what their risk might be are these:

  • Family history of hypercalciuria, a condition of high calcium levels in the urine
  • Personal history of kidney stones
  • Personal history of gout or high uric acid levels in blood or urine
  • Regular use of diuretics (medications to help the kidneys remove fluids from the body)
  • Regular use of calcium-based antacids
  • High dose calcium supplements in people who don’t have osteoporosis (more than 2000 mg/day)
  • High dose vitamin D supplements in people who are not deficient (more than 2000 I.U/day)

Check back here for my next blog about another stony issue, gall stones.

X-ray of cardiac pacemaker

Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for Chronic Heart Failure

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


Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 or ubiquinone or ubiquinol – whatever you call it – came up in a conversation with my 85 year old father this week. He had been out to dinner with friends and they asked him if he was taking it. He told them he wasn’t. Then they asked him why not since he has chronic heart failure and a history of congestive heart disease, two problems it’s supposed to help.

He promised them he would call me to get the scoop.

Having done so, I did some research and am going to share it with all of you so you don’t have to call and ask me too.

What is Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10?

It’s a vitamin-like substance found in every cell in the body. The reason it is not classified as a vitamin is because our bodies can manufacture it. It is also found in a variety of foods we eat, including fish, meats and whole grains, with smaller amounts in fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

What Does CoQ10 Do?

The energy-producing apparatus inside each cell are called the mitochondria. Think of them like a furnace generating heat for your home. Their job is to convert fat and other substances into a usable form of energy to fuel all of our activities and support the growth and repair of our body parts. Coenzyme Q10 is needed for this conversion process.

It also functions as an antioxidant that protects the body from the damaging effects of oxygen, similar to the antioxidant properties in vitamin C and the mineral zinc. Since a number of heart conditions are the result of oxygen damage to that organ, Co Q10 has been used protect the heart muscle.

What are Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol?

They are two naturally occurring forms of CoQ10, depending on whether it is oxidized (ubiquinone) or reduced (ubiquinol). When energy is being created in the mitochondria, the oxidized form of CoQ10 (ubiquinone) can accept an electron from another molecule in a process called electron transfer. Once it does, it becomes the reduced form of CoQ10 (ubiquinol). The reduced form can then donate an electron and become oxidized again. This conversion goes on continuously inside the mitochondria during energy production, so both forms of CoQ10 are equally important.

What Are the Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for Heart Patients?

Ever since Coenzyme Q10 was first identified in 1957 it has been promoted as a healing drug and used for everything from muscular dystrophy to male infertility. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to support most of those claims according to the National Institutes of Health.

The ability of CoQ10 to improve survival rates in people with heart failure, however, has been gaining strength.

In 1985 researchers first demonstrated a connection between low CoQ10 levels and the severity of heart failure. One reason why CoQ10 levels were so low in people with heart disease is that the natural synthesis of it in the body is inhibited by the statin drugs heart patients commonly take. Their blood levels of CoQ10 can be reduced by as much as 40% when taking statins.

This bit of news was enough to fuel the widespread use of CoQ10 supplements by people with congestive heart disease, chest pain, high blood pressure and other heart problems.

Some new research presented at the Heart Failure 2013 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in May provided much needed proof that it works.

Researchers in Denmark followed 420 heart failure patients recruited from 17 treatment centers in Australia, Malaysia, India, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Sweden and Denmark for 24 months. Participants were randomly assigned to take either 100 mg of CoQ10 three times a day or a placebo.

The study’s primary endpoint was to see how long it took for subjects to have a major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE). Those in the CoQ10 group reduced the risk of MACE by 50%. Only 14% of them reached the primary endpoint during the study compared to 25% in the placebo group.

Should My Dad Take CoQ10?

If you, like my dad, take a stain drug, your CoQ10 levels are probably low. They cannot be raised sufficiently through diet alone to obtain the benefits shown in this study. Instead, CoQ10 can be purchased as an over-the-counter supplement.

It has few side effects when used as recommended, but there are risks. Coenzyme Q10 can lower blood pressure and interfere with blood pressure medications (which my dad takes). It can also interfere with blood thinning drugs (which he takes) and increase the risk of dangerous blot clots.

Knowing that, I advised him not to take it until we meet with his cardiologist to review how it will affect his other medications. That’s the same advice I would give to you.

A Simple Guide: Making Sense of Soy Foods:

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


If you didn’t grow up eating soy foods, then you’re probably a bit overwhelmed by the many soy products now available in stores and on restaurant menus. Getting more soy in the diet has health benefits, especially when soy products replace animal products, so it’s worth learning how soybeans can be converted into milk, butter, cheese and meat substitutes, plus so much more. Use this Simple Guide to add more soy to your diet and check the Soyfoods Association of North America for more information.


Soybeans – Available as tan or black dry beans sold in bags, bulk, canned or frozen. Provides protein similar to meat sources plus bio-active compounds associated with relieving menopausal symptoms and lowering the risk of certain cancers.


Edamame – Immature green soybeans in the pod and frequently served boiled or steamed. They are sold in and out of the pod fresh and frozen and shelled as canned green soybeans. The flavor is more mild than mature soybeans with a higher sugar content.



Roasted Soy Nuts – Available oil roasted or dry roasted and plain, salted or flavored. Enjoyed as a convenient snack and used to make soy nut butter. Same nutritional value as whole soybeans depending on how they are processed and seasoned.


Non-Peanut Butters

Soy Nut Butter – Made by grinding whole roasted soybeans, the result resembles peanut butter in taste, texture and nutritional value. It’s a popular alternative for those with peanut allergies.



Tofu – Also known as soybean curd, tofu has a soft cheese-like consistency and many uses as a substitute for meat or cheese. Made by soaking and grinding soybeans in water, then mixing the slurry with a coagulant and heating it to make curds, which are then pressed to form blocks. The firmness of the tofu depends on how much water is removed. Contains high quality protein and iron and depending on the coagulant used, may be a good source of calcium.



Miso – This paste is made by fermenting soybeans (plus rice or barley) with salt and a fungus to flavor soups, marinades, dressings and more. The color ranges from golden to dark brown. It’s high in phytonutrients and beneficial bacteria and enzymes.


Tempeh – A “cake” made from cooked soybeans with a texture that ranges from firm to chewy to tender and a flavor that can be mushroomy or yeasty. It can be prepared by any dry or moist heat cooking method after slicing or cubing into the desired size and shape. It’s an excellent source of fiber and protein, plus a good source of folic acid, potassium and iron.


Soy Milk – This product is often used by people seeking a lactose-free alternative to cow’s milk. It’s made by soaking and cooking whole ground soybeans then filtering the liquid or by hydrating full-fat soy flour or soy protein solids. Sweeteners and flavors may be added to the base along with nutrient fortification to replicate cow’s milk.



Soy Flour – It’s made from ground soybeans and available in high and low fat content suited for different uses. Soy flour is the base used to make some soy milks and textured vegetable protein products. It’s a good source of high quality protein and isoflavones.



Textured Vegetable Protein or Textured Soy Protein – Also referred to as TVP or TSP, it’s made from soy flour, soy concentrate or soy protein isolate. It can be formulated to have the shape, flavor and texture of meat products and is used to make most of the meat-free patties, burgers and crumbles on the market today. TSP is 50% protein and very low in sodium when unflavored, with no cholesterol.

Assorted dried fruit, nuts and seeds for a gluten free snack

Great Gluten Free Snacks in a Hurry

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.


If you or someone in your family is on a gluten free diet, then you know how hard it is to find something to eat when you’re in a hurry and hungry. Even though there are more gluten free items in stores and on menus than ever before, they’re hard to spot when you really them.

At least that’s what I’m told by people who are trying to avoid gluten.

They say eating healthy meals and snacks is easy when they plan ahead, shop regularly and prepare or pack their food for the day, but that doesn’t always happen.

Sound familiar?

Of course, the rest of us can always grab something to eat on the go from a vending machine, at any checkout counter or the drive-up window of a quick service restaurant. But if you must steer clear of all wheat, barley, rye and oats, it’s another story.

The best way around this dilemma is to keep a supply of portable, non-perishable, single-serving gluten free snacks on hand wherever you spend a lot of time, like your job or the car. A trip to your local supermarket or specialty food store is the best way to stock up on your favorite gluten free products or by placing an order online.

It also helps to know what you can buy when you’re out and about and forgot to tote your own.

Fortunately, there are many gluten free foods as close as the neighborhood convenience store, chain drug store, or even the corner Starbucks – a great place to find KIND bars. Just reach for a piece of fresh fruit or single-serve fruit cup, some sliced or string cheese, or a raw vegetable and dip combo for gluten free munching.

There are also some national brands you can count on for gluten free options right alongside the other crunchy, crispy and chewy snacks on the shelves.

In honor of Celiac Awareness Month, I have 10 recommendations to help you with your search for gluten free snacks. Just be sure to check the ingredient list on all packaged foods before making your purchase since manufacturers can change their formulations at any time.

10 Grab & Go Gluten Free Snack Foods

KIND all natural whole nut and fruit bars that deliver the perfect combination of protein, carbs and heart healthy fats to keep you feeling fuller longer.

Blue Diamond single or mixed nuts sold raw, dry roasted, or seasoned for naturally gluten and wheat free munching.

Quaker rice cakes made from white or brown rice for a snack that can be sweet, salty or savory.

Indiana Popcorn FIT bagged popcorn for a whole grain snack from non-GMO corn.

Frito Lay white, yellow and blue tortilla chips in different shapes suitable for dipping.

Kettle brand potato chips that are baked, reduced fat or fried in more than 15 flavors.

General Mills Rice and Corn Chex cereal you can eat right from the box or add to a custom trail mix.

Sun Maid raisins and other dried fruit that deliver natural sweetness with no added sugar.

Welch’s chewy fruit snacks and fruit ‘n yogurt snacks for a fat free fortified snack.

Dove chocolate bars and novelties (just don’t leave them in the car in hot weather!)

Confused about who should be on a gluten free diet and why? Read my Q&A on gluten free eating here.

Celebrate National Salsa Month and Cinco de Mayo with healthy homemade salsa

Make Healthy Homemade Salsa – It’s Easy!

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


Celebrate National Salsa Month and Cinco de Mayo With Homemade Salsa – It’s Easy!

Making your own salsa is a great way to customize this popular “sauce.” It can include a variety of vegetables, fruits, and beans and be seasoned just the way you like it. Since fresh ingredients provide all the flavor, it’s doesn’t require salt. You can control the heat with the type and amount of hot peppers you add and vary the taste by using things like pineapple or garlic. The color is also under your control, such as switching to tomatillos for a green salsa. One half cup provides a serving of vegetables, so don’t limit yourself to the 2 tablespoon serving size on commercial varieties. Enjoy it as a dip with baked corn chips, condiment with eggs, topping on grilled fish, sauce over quesadillas, or as a side salad with a sandwich. For the freshest salsa possible this summer, plant a salsa garden – one tomato, one jalapeno and plenty of cilantro all in a row!


TOMATOES – Any color, shape and size from globe to cherry and red to green or yellow.

Good source of vitamins A, C and K; mineral potassium; phytonutrients lutein and lycopene


PEPPERS Hot, sweet or a little of both

Vitamins A, B6, C and K; minerals manganese and potassium; phytonutrients capsaicin, beta-carotene and lutein


ONIONS Yellow, white, red or green; sweet or tangy

Good source of vitamins C and B6; minerals manganese and chromium; phytonutrients quercetin and allium


CITRUS Lemon, lime or orange, both juice and zest

Good source of vitamins C and folate; minerals potassium and magnesium; phytonutrients limonoids and flavanol gycosides


VEGETABLE OIL Extra virgin olive oil imparts its own flavor, so use light olive oil or canola oil to let the other flavors shine through

Good Source of vitamins E and K; omega-3 and 6 fatty acids


HERBS Cilantro for authentic version, parsley for a milder one

Good source vitamin A, C, K and folate; minerals iron and manganese; phytonutrients quercetin and epigenin

Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

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


Seeds aren’t just good food for birds, there are many health benefits of seeds for people, too! They are high in many essential minerals and vitamins, a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, provide protein and fiber, and are low in sodium. Those who are allergic to tree nuts can use edible seeds to add crunch to their trail mix and texture to baked goods. They can also enjoy seed butters in place of nut butters. Adding more healthy seeds to your diet is as easy as sprinkling them on your next bowl of salad, cereal or stir fry.


Pumpkin Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

They’re the highest in protein with 8.5 grams per ounce. Save them when carving your next Jack-O-Lantern to roast in the oven and sprinkle over some pumpkin soup.


Flax Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

One of the richest plant sources of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, plus you get the benefits of both soluble and insoluble fiber. You can find them ready-to-eat in KIND brand Vanilla Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds and Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seeds.


Watermelon Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

Swallowing them won’t make a watermelon grow in your belly, but will provide you with a good source of protein, so go ahead and add them your fruit smoothie right along with the sweet and juicy fruit.


Caraway Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

One of the highest in fiber with 11 grams per ounce, so be sure to select your rye bread with caraway seeds and sprinkle them on roasted potatoes for their savory flavor. sauerkraut


Anise Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

Loved for their licorice flavor, they’re widely used in candies, confections and alcoholic beverages. One tablespoon has 14% of the Daily Value for iron, or 2.48 mg.


Poppy Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

A little bit goes a long way with 13% of the Daily Value of calcium in every tablespoon, along with some iron, copper, potassium and magnesium. Their crunch can be found on breads and rolls, in noodle dishes, and fillings for pastry.


Sesame Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

One of the edible seeds with the highest monounsaturated fatty acid content at 5.5 grams per ounce and many phytonutrients with antioxidant properties. Their nutty flavor is best appreciated when made into tahini and used on falafel.


Chia Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

Similar to flax seeds, but they don’t have to be ground in order for us to absorb their nutrients. Eating them whole allows them to absorb water and swell to ten times their weight, providing a sense of fullness.


Sunflower Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

Not just for baseball players, you’ll find plenty of sesame seeds in Somersault snacks and can harvest them from your sunflowers to roast and hull for your own sunflower butter.


Fennel Seeds: Healthy Seeds You Can Eat

Every tablespoon provides 1 gram of fiber while also being a source of natural anti-flatulence compounds. They have a licorice scent and taste and are used in cooking everything from Italian sausage to Indian curry.