Healthy Recipes with Cereal

Cereal is a delicious and nutritious food, and it’s for more than pouring into a bowl and dousing with milk. You can make all sorts of fun, healthy recipes with the cereal you have on hand to eat for any meal or as snacks. I asked my dietitian friends for their best out-of-the-box cereal recipes. Check out their creative contributions!

Why cereal is a healthy choice

Whether it’s whole grain, or refined, cereal supplies energy-producing carbohydrate. In addition, it can be a source of other nutrients that often go missing in the diet.

But all cereals are not alike.

Whole grains have the most fiber, vitamin E, and selenium, but they are not usually enriched.

Refined grain is a term used to describe grains that are missing one or more of their three key parts – the bran, the germ, or the endosperm. Refining a grain results in nutrient loss.

However, most refined grains are enriched. That means processors add vitamins and minerals, but not fiber, back to refined grains in the same amount, or more, as found in whole grains.

Enriched grains have health benefits

Enriched grains contain B vitamins, including folic acid, and the mineral iron. Iron and folic acid don’t occur naturally in significant amounts in whole grains, but they are welcome additions to refined grains, especially cereal.

Health experts recommend that women in their childbearing years get adequate folic acid every day. Adequate folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects during the first month of pregnancy. A serving of enriched cereal can provide as much as 100% of the Daily Value for folic acid.

The added iron in enriched cereal is a good source of this nutrient. Iron is needed to prevent iron deficiency anemia, which can result in long lasting fatigue, and other health problems.

Do grains cause weight gain?

You may be surprised to hear that grains may be good for your waistline. An eating pattern that includes higher amounts of a variety of grains, including cereal, is associated with a healthier body weight.

Choose cereals with the least added sugar, which adds calories. Save sugar-laden cereals for a treat, not an everyday food.

Out-of-the-box cereal creations

Since I think cereal is good any time of day, I’ve divided up the delicious healthy recipes with cereal into two groups: sweet and savory. Enjoy them at any meal, or for a snack!

Sweet healthy recipes with cereal

Coconut Fruit Tart by Live Best

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Nachos by Jill Weisenberger

Strawberry Banana Breakfast Popsicles by The Nutritionist Reviews

Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola by Foods with Judes

Crunchy Cereal-Filled Waffles by Bonnie Taub-Dix

No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread by Better Is the New Perfect

Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites by Amy Gorin

Flourless Milk & Cereal Pancakes by Sinful Nutrition

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Trail Mix by National Peanut Board

Grab-and-Go Granola Bars by Liz’s Healthy Table

Protein Packed Chocolate Cereal Bowl by Nutrition Starring You

Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl by The Crowded Table

Vanilla Maple Chia Yogurt Parfait by Julie Harrington

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars by Better Is the New Perfect

Savory healthy recipes with cereal

Black Bean Breakfast Burrito Bowl by The Grateful Grazer

Crispy Hummus Mashed Potato Balls by Tasty Balance Nutrition

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Snack Mix from The Lean Green Bean

Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Fried Egg by Jessica Levinson

Wheaties Oven Baked Ravioli by My Menu Pal

Fonio Recipe by Laurel Ann Nutrition

Easy Baked Fish in Foil Recipe

Cooking in aluminum foil packets is fun! We usually grill foil packets of meat, fish, and vegetables for summer meals, but you can cook with foil indoors, too. This easy baked fish in foil recipe makes it simpler to include seafood two times a week. And, clean up is a breeze!

Baked fish topped with tomatoes next to roasted asparagus and two slices of whole wheat bread and butter.
Serve baked fish with vegetables and whole grains for a balanced meal.

How to bake fish in the oven

Foil packets, also known as foil parcels, help to keep fish moist when cooking. Foil packets seal in juices from the fish and the tomatoes, infusing this dish with great taste.

This may come as a surprise, but you can prepare this dish, and others, with frozen fish that you don’t have to thaw first! Keep frozen fish fillets in the freezer for easy weeknight dinners.

Canned tomatoes are a staple in my kitchen. They are convenient, nutritious, and delicious. You can use any type of diced canned tomato you like in this recipe, but I prefer fire-roasted for their intense flavor. I’ve also used two cups of fresh cherry tomatoes sliced in half in place of canned.

You can use frozen fish fillets to make prep even easier!

The health benefits of eating more fish

Experts suggest that adults eat at least eight ounces of seafood a week. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need eight to 12 ounces of seafood weekly. The nutrients in seafood support heart, eye, and brain health.

Americans, particularly pregnant and breastfeeding women, do not consume the suggested amount of seafood. Include the seafood you need with easy recipes like baked fish in foil, and this one for tuna burgers.

Simple, delicious, and nutritious. Baked fish in foil is the perfect weeknight dinner!

It hasn’t always been easy to get my kids to eat fish, but everyone loves this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Easy Baked Fish in Foil Recipe

Twenty five minutes is all it takes to make this tasty fish dish perfect for weeknight meals! 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy baked fish in foil recipe, easydinnerrecipe, foilpacket
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 202kcal
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 1 pound breaded cod, haddock or other white fish fillets
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400˚F. 
    Line a medium baking dish with a sheet of foil big enough to make a packet, about 12 to 14 inches long. Place fish in the baking dish.  
    Top fish with tomatoes, olive oil, and parsley. 
    Fold the sides of the foil inwards around the fish, and fold in the top and bottom of the foil. Pinch the foil closed to create a package.
    Bake for 18-20 minutes or until fish is flaky and opaque. When cooked, open the packet carefully to avoid spilling the juices. Serve immediately. 

Nutrition Information: Per serving: 202 calories; 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 54 milligrams cholesterol; 504 milligrams sodium; 7 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 24 grams protein.

    Notes

    You can make this recipe with frozen fish. It will take a few minutes more to cook. 
    Use plain fish for a gluten-free dish.  
    It’s possible to skip the olive oil, but I find it adds to the flavor and helps keep the fish moist.
    Substitute chopped parsley for fresh. Use 2 tablespoons fresh parsley. 
     

    Declutter Your Diet for Better Health

    What with the popularity of Marie Kondo’s book and her Netflix series about decluttering, purging unwanted objects is on my mind. While I struggle with clutter on a daily basis, Kondos’ simple belief – that tidying up helps to calm you down – works for me. In keeping with her approach, it pays to declutter your diet for better health, too.

    Reducing stress may help prevent mindless munching, and may reduce your blood pressure, too.

    Does this sound familiar? You come home tired and hungry after a busy day, and a disorderly kitchen awaits you. With little energy left to make dinner, or prep food for the next day, you give in to temptation and eat whatever is on hand.

    When you’re feeling stressed about the mess, your brain does not want to deal with the dishes in the sink, the mess on the counter, and a disorganized refrigerator. Your brain wants pleasure, and food is the likely the fastest way to satisfy it.

    You can’t squash every food craving, but you can control your home environment as much as possible to better resist the urge to splurge.

    Just thinking about getting organized to improve your eating habits can be stressful, but it’s also rewarding when you take small steps to get more order in your life.

    Join: The Pantry, Fridge, and FreezerCleanout Challenge

    Organize your kitchen to declutter your diet for better health

    A tidy refrigerator and orderly cabinets help you find food fast and curbs overspending. Why? Because you are more aware of what you have on hand, and what you need at the store.

    For some people, a tidy kitchen encourages healthier food choices.

    Read: Why clutter causes stress 

    I’m not perfect at kitchen organization, but I’m getting better. (In my defense, I do live with four other people!) However, there are some things I do regularly to stay on track with healthy eating. Here are some tips to try.

    • Empty the fridge, freezer, and cabinets. Throw away really old food, but also be aware that the dates on packaged foods (not fresh, perishable foods like meat, poultry, and seafood) deal with a food’s quality, and not its safety.

    • When you restock shelves, organize food in categories. For example, group all canned products in one place and by type. Check the dates on foods and put the oldest in the back.

    Canned tomatoes, frozen fish fillets, and dried parsley combine for a delicious meal!


    • Avoid stuffing the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. You need to see what you have on hand to use it up, and to prevent buying more of the same.

    • Invest in sturdy air-tight containers for sugar, flour, and other grains, such as cereal. Transfer foods to these containers and label them clearly. This saves space, improves organization, and keeps food fresher.

    • Use under shelf organizers to save space and tiered risers for canned goods and other packaged foods so that you can always see what you have on hand.

    • Keep treats out of sight, and healthier foods in the open. The old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” really works. For instance, stash cookies and brownies in the freezer and put an open bag of chips in the cupboard, and leave an inviting bowl of fresh whole fruit on the counter.

    Read: 12 DIY projects to clean up your eating habits

    Make a plan to declutter your diet for better health

    Yay! Your kitchen is in order, or at least its more tidy. It’s time to plan healthier meals and snacks.

    • When you’re short on time during the week, consider meal prep on the weekend for the busy days ahead. However, if you can’t devote a few hours to the week’s meals on a Saturday or Sunday, you can always assemble balanced, simple meals and snacks in very little time.

    • Once you have an eating plan in place, make a list of food you need for better meals and snacks in the days ahead. It’s easier to shop for ingredients when working from a list.

    • I’m not against treats like chocolate, ice cream, and chips, but if having these foods in the house triggers you to overeat, don’t buy them.

    Declutter your diet to reduce food waste

    Marie Kondo’s goal is joy. Wasting food makes me sad, so I do my best to use up what would go to waste, which is part of managing your food better.

    I used what I had in the kitchen to make this satisfying vegetable soup!

    Here are 36 more ways to reduce food waste and save more money.

    Eat at the table to prevent mindless munching

    It’s not always possible to avoid eating on the run, but when you’re home, I highly recommend sitting down.

    Eating at the kitchen or dining room table, and off of a plate or out of a bowl, allows you to eat more mindfully than when standing at the counter or sitting in front of the TV or computer screen. Increasing your awareness of eating may help you to eat more nutritious foods in the right portions for you.

    It’s easier to relax when you declutter your diet for better health!

    13 Delicious Mocktails

    Sparkling Pomegranate Apple Cider

    Mocktails are having a moment. While they’re popular with people who need to avoid alcohol, they are gaining ground with others, too.

    Studies show giving up alcohol improves sleep and energy level, and saves money. Moreover, drinking less may also make weight loss and long term weight control easier. Alcoholic beverages have calories that you may not need.

    Health experts, suggest that women limit their alcohol intake. As a result, women may reduce their risk for breast cancer.

    Whatever your goals, it never hurts to drink less alcohol.

    I asked my friends for their favorite mocktail recipes. Their recipes are amazing. Enjoy!

    Read: Why taking a break from alcohol is good for you

    The Punch of Pomegranate

    Perfect for mocktails pomegranate combines well with many different flavors.

    Pomegranate Orange Mint Mocktail

    Pomegranate Orange Mint Mocktail from Bite of Health Nutrition

    Festive Pomegranate Cherry Spritzer from Sara Haas

    Sparkling Cherry Spritzer from Jenny Shea Rawn

    Ginger Pomegranate Sparkler Mocktail from Tasty Balance Nutrition

    Pomegranate Apple Cider Mocktail from Nutrition to Fit

    Mocktails with Citrus

    I love the zing citrus supplies!

    Cranberry Lemon and Orange Cider from The Nutrition Reviews

    Easy Apple Cider Mocktail with Fresh Citrus Slices from Nourish Nutrition

    Cranberry Orange and Lime Cider

    Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer from Sip Smarter

    Basil Lemonade Spritzer

    Basil Lemonade Spritzer from Bite of Health Nutrition

    Tropical Lipton Green Tea Virgin Sangria from Amy Gorin

    Mango Kombucha Refresher from Spilling the Beans

    Sweet and Spicy

    I love these combinations because they offer spice and sweetness.

    Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

    Spicy Kombucha Margaritas from Leanne Ray

    Ginger Beer Pear Punch from The Nutrition Adventure

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    Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer

    What’s your favorite way to enjoy alcohol-free cocktails or other nonalcoholic beverages?

    Should You Try Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss and Better Health? 

    Surprise! You fast every day.

    It’s that time of year when millions of us make eating resolutions that we won’t keep. If you’re tired of restrictive diets that you can’t possibly stick with, you may wonder if you should consider intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health, too.

    Why eating less at night may be good for your heart

    What is Intermittent Fasting?

    Fasting is going without food. While that may sound drastic, consider that you fast every day while you’re asleep and between meals!

    Intermittent fasting (IF) limits when you eat, not what you eat. IF is not a diet. It’s an eating pattern without the calorie-counting. 

    There are several types of IF, including:

    • Fasting every other day of the week.  

    • The 5:2 plan: Eat as usual on five days of the week. Limit calories to 25% of your needs (500 calories on a 2000-calorie eating plan) on two non-consecutive days, such as Monday and Thursday.

    • Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) limits food intake for at least 12 hours, and for as long as 20 hours, every day.  For example, you can choose to eat all your food from 10 AM to 6 PM, or during any other time frame that works for you.

    Researchs suggests intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health is promising. TRE is the least restrictive and most adaptable form of IF, and it makes the most sense for people with a busy lifestyle. However, no type of IF is suitable for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with eating disorders, and some people with diabetes.

     An RD’s experience with intermittent fasting

    Satisfaction is key to maintaining a healthy eating plan.

    Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss  

    While I’m a fan of TRE, evidence suggests that any form of intermittent fasting is just as good for weight loss as eating fewer calories overall. However, TRE can jump-start your intentions to eat better, and may reduce feelings of dietary deprivation.

    In one study, overweight people who reduced their eating window from about 15 hours a day to 10 to 11 hours daily for 16 weeks lost weight, and reported higher energy levels and better sleep. Even though they weren’t asked to restrict calories, participants ate less without feeling deprived.

    Spend most of your time fasting asleep.

    In another study, a group of overweight people who ate only from 10 AM to 6 PM consumed an average of 350 fewer calories and lost about 3% of their body weight. They also lowered their blood pressure.  Study subjects were not asked to limit calorie intake.

    TRE and other forms of IF may help with modest calorie restriction, but fasting is not a magic bullet for weight control. Whether or not time-restricted eating actually decreases the amount of food consumed varies from person to person.

    Intermittent Fasting for Better Health

    Chances are, you can reap health benefits from IF simply by changing when you eat most of your calories. Here’s why.

    IF improves the body’s response to insulin.  Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that is necessary for cells to absorb glucose, which is used for energy. Insulin levels are lower when fasting, an ideal situation to prevent insulin resistance.

    In insulin resistance, blood glucose levels are elevated. High insulin levels trigger the pancreas to produce more insulin to try to get glucose into cells. As time goes on, the pancreas’ ability to churn out insulin declines, leading to prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes and contributing to the risk for heart diseaseand cancer.

    The benefits of intermittent fasting

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    In addition, TRE plans that limit food consumption to daytime coordinate best with our natural body rhythms, which may help foster good health. That’s because insulin production is higher during the day than at night.

    Even without weight loss, limiting food intake to eight hours and fasting from 3 PM on every day for five weeks decreased insulin levels, reduced insulin resistance, and improved blood pressure in overweight men with prediabetes.

    Eating later in the day can be bad for your waistline and your health

    How to Try Time Restricted Eating

    Be consistent.  Choose an eating/fasting pattern that works for you and stick to it every day, including on weekends. Start by limiting food intake to 12 hours daily, and try to stop eating by 6 or 7 PM. If you want, gradually decrease your eating window to eight hours with 16 hours of fasting daily.

    Eat a balanced diet. Plan your food intake to include adequate amounts of nutritious foods, and limit added sugar. Eat three satisfying meals daily to avoid excessive snacking, also known as “grazing”.  Grazing is linked to a higher body mass index in women and a poorer quality diet in women and men. 

    Remember that moderation counts. IF doesn’t involve calorie-counting, but if you use your eating window as a free-for-all, you’re missing the point. You can eat whatever you want, but maybe not as much as you want. 

    Focus on calorie-free fluids. Water, black coffee and tea, and other calorie-free beverages are OK at any time.

    All foods fit on any intermittent fasting program, but moderation counts, too.

    Simple and Affordable Holiday Gifts and Seasonal Entertainment

    Thanks to ALDI for sponsoring this post! 

    With so much food to prepare and so many presents to buy, the holiday season keeps everyone busy! I am always looking for ways to save time and money.  While I shop at ALDI all year long for high-quality food at a lower cost, it’s even better during the holiday season because ALDI simplifies shopping and makes it affordable. By stopping at ALDI first, I cross a lot off my holiday to-do list all at once, and for less money. 

    Get more done at ALDI, and have more time for yourself this holiday season! 

    You may know ALDI for its high-quality food at low prices, but are you aware that ALDI also carries presents for everyone, including hostess and Secret Santa gifts, toys for the kids, goodies for the dog, and holiday decorations for the house?  

    ALDI Finds: Affordable, Premium Food and Gifts

    Every week, ALDI introduces new ALDI Finds, a selection of premium food and household items that are only in stores for a limited time, all at unbeatable prices.  Here are some of the items hitting the stores on December 12:

    There’s something for everyone, including your favorite pet, at ALDI! 


    Cookie kits and bakeware sets are affordable gifts for the chef in your life.

    Simple and Elegant Holiday Foods

    When friends and family visit, I love to put out a charcuterie board, but I do not like to pay a lot of money for it.  It takes just a few minutes to assemble high-quality ingredients from ALDI such as these (below) on a festive platter, and I get to “wow” my guests without paying a premium price!

    You’ll pay less for premium products, include gluten-free foods, at ALDI. 

    I always try to include fruits and vegetables in every holiday dish, so I’m thankful ALDI recently announced a 40% increase in fresh foods, including organic produce and convenient ready-to-eat products like sliced fruit. 

    This party platter took minutes to assemble with high-quality, affordable ALDI foods! 

    ALDI also carries high-quality gluten-free foods, dairy, and fresh meat and fish. In fact, the ALDI liveGfree gluten-free line and the NeverAny! line of fresh meat products (which have no antibiotics, added hormones or animal by-products) recently earned the Good Housekeeping Seal, which is considered the gold standard for guiding shoppers to high-quality food. 

    Candy is my splurge! I prefer the delicious chocolate from ALDI. 

    Give more, and make more of the holidays at ALDI. You’ll save so much money, you can splurge on yourself! 

    Visit aldi.us to take advantage of better-for-you recipes so you can make fresh food at home. For more fun information and tips, “Like” ALDI USA on Facebook and follow @ALDIUSA on Instagram and @ALDIUSA Twitter. And, if you’re like me and want to share your own recipes, photos, tips and tricks, tag ALDI using the hashtag #ALDILove.

    Happy holidays!

    19 Healthy 15-Minute Meals

    When you’re busy you’re probably not in meal planning mode. However, you want delicious and nutritious 15-minute meals.

    It helps to have healthy ingredients, including canned and frozen plain fruits and vegetables and canned tuna and beans, on hand. Here are some of my favorite “fast food” ideas for one. Double, or quadruple the recipes as needed.

    15-minute meals don’t need to be fancy to be delicious and good for you, too! 

    15-Minute Meals for Breakfast

    These 15-minute meals make good snacks in addition to being breakfast because they are so hearty.  However, you can eat them for a lunch and dinner, too!

    • Top a 2-ounce whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter. Serve with 8 ounces 1% low-fat milk or fortified soy milk, and fruit.

    Five minutes is all it takes to make a batch of No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies that pair perfectly with a carton of Greek yogurt and fruit. 

    • Spread 2 slices whole grain bread with 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, and top with 1 small banana, sliced, or another fruit. For instance, 2 tablespoons raisins.

    • Scramble 2 eggs and divide equally between a small whole-wheat pita pocket that’s been cut in half. Add salsa, a handful of spinach, and 1⁄4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese, if desired. Pair with 8 ounces milk or fortified soy milk.

    • Scramble 2 eggs with 1⁄4 cup diced mushrooms or other vegetables, and 1⁄4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Serve with 2 slices whole-wheat toast, and fruit.

    • Pair a hard-cooked egg with 8 ounces low-fat yogurt in addition to 1 slice whole-grain toast, and fruit.

    • Halve a cantaloupe or honeydew melon, remove the seeds, and fill with 1 cup cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt. Serve with a whole wheat roll.

    My go-to fish meal: breaded haddock topped with a can of undrained chopped canned tomatoes and dried parsley with vegetables and whole grain bread. Cook at 400˚F for 15 minutes or until done.

    15-Minute Meals for Lunch and Dinner

    These meals require a minimum of cooking, and clean up!

    • Microwave a medium potato. Scoop out the insides and mix with 1 cup cottage cheese. Return the filling to the potato skins and warm in the microwave. Add a green salad.

    • Top 1 whole-wheat pita round or small whole wheat Naan bread with tomato sauce and sliced part-skim mozzarella or cheddar cheese. Broil until cheese melts. Serve with 8 ounces 100% orange juice or enjoy with an orange or 2 clementines.

    • Make a quick quesadilla using two whole-wheat 7-inch sandwich wraps, 2 ounces chopped leftover chicken, and 1 ounce Monterey Jack cheese. Grill in a skillet. Enjoy with fruit.

    • In a bowl, layer 1 cup cooked whole-grains, for instance, whole-wheat  couscous, 1 cup cooked vegetables, and 4 ounces cooked leftover salmon, or canned or pouched salmon.

    • Mix 4 ounces canned or pouched, drained tuna with mayonnaise and pair with 10 whole-grain crackers, and sliced red bell pepper.

    Canned lentil soup is a great start to make balanced, easy 15-minute meals. 

    • Mix 1 cup canned reduced-sodium lentil soup and 1 cup cooked pasta or other leftover cooked grain such as farro, brown rice, freekeh, or quinoa, and chicken or beef, if desired. Serve with 8 ounces milk or fortified soy beverage in addition to fruit.

    • Combine 1 cup canned white beans, drained, with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 4 ounces peeled and raw shrimp in a skillet. Cook until shrimp are pink. Serve with fruit or vegetables.

    • Saute 8 ounces 100% ground skinless turkey breast meat or 95% lean ground beef with chopped onions and 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin. Spoon cooked meat equally onto 2 whole-wheat tortillas in addition to chopped tomato, lettuce, and plain yogurt. (This dish serves two.) Serve with Greek yogurt and salsa and fruit or vegetables.

    Use whatever meat or vegetables you have on hand to make quick quesadillas.

    • Coat 4 ounces thinly sliced chicken breasts or tenders with flour. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken for about two minutes on each side. Place chicken on a whole-wheat sandwich bun and garnish with tomato and lettuce, and avocado, if desired. Serve with 8 ounces milk and a piece of fruit or baby carrots and cherry tomatoes.

    • Fast fried rice: Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a medium skillet. Add 1 cup cold cooked white or brown rice, 1⁄4 cup chopped onion, 1⁄4 cup cooked peas or diced carrots or both, and 2 beaten eggs. Toss the entire mixture until the egg is cooked. Season with a dash of low-sodium soy sauce. Serve with fresh fruit.

    When salad is your meal, don’t forget to add protein-rich foods- chicken, tuna, and tofu, for instance – to make one of many 15-minute meals!

    • Place 4 ounces cooked shrimp, canned or pouch tuna, cooked or pouch salmon, cottage cheese, or tofu, on top of 2 cups chopped leafy greens and 1⁄2 cup grape tomatoes. Top with a mixture of 2 teaspoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve with  whole-grain bread or roll.

    What are your go-to quick and healthy 15-minute meals?

    Make-Ahead Holiday Side Dishes

    Every year, I host two Thanksgiving dinners, one on the actual day and the other on the Sunday before. I’ve been doing this for a while, but this year, I finally got smart and made nearly all of the sides in advance. I was so inspired by the idea of make-ahead holiday side dishes that I asked my dietitian friends for their favorite recipes.  Enjoy!

    Thanksgiving stuffing in a bowl with gold spoons

    The Best Thanksgiving Mushroom Sausage Stuffing from Tawnie Kroll. I love using mushrooms in stuffing for their meaty, umami flavor.

    Easy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

    Genius Butternut Squash Soup from Katie at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook is brilliant, and a real show stopper.

    Make Pumpkin Apple Almond Muffins for breakfast or as a side dish for dinner. 

    Cauliflower Cranberry Superfood Salad | The Nutrition Adventure

    Cauliflower Cranberry Superfood Salad from Karman Meyer can be made up to two days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

    Easy Pumpkin Soup from Jessica Ivey, MS, RD can be frozen and reheated. It uses canned pumpkin, one of my favorite kitchen staples.

    Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheddar, Apple & Sage | Nutrition Nuptials | Mandy Enright MS RDN RYT

    Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Walnut, Apple & Sage from Mandy Enright uses walnuts in place of meat for a vegetarian appetizer that’s anything but basic.

    Make a double batch of gluten-free No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Quick Bread and freeze a loaf for later. You’ll be happy you did! 

    Pecan Topped, Slightly-Sweet Sweet Potato Casserole via LizsHealthyTable.com #thanksgiving

    Liz Weiss’ Pecan Topped Slightly-Sweet Potato Casserole can be frozen and reheated before serving. That’s music to my ears!

    This make-ahead kale salad stands up to storage in the fridge, and it's an easy way to get started with meal prep. Keep this winter salad on hand for quick, weekday lunches or as a refreshing side dish for your holiday table.

    Make-Ahead Kale Salad from Stephanie McKercher. The name says it all! Super convenient and colorful to boot.

     Butternut Squash, Date and Feta Salad

    Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Dates & Feta from Edwina Clark. I love the spinach-date-and-feta combo!

    Roasted Butternut Squash with Dates, Figs and Pistachios (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

    Roasted Butternut Squash with Dates, Figs, and Pistachios from Sharon Palmer is vegan and gluten-free. And gorgeous!

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    Healthy-ish Maple Cranberry Sauce from Sarah Gold. Maple is one of my favorite fall flavors to combine with cranberries!

    Cranberry Relish via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_kitchen

    This fresh Cranberry Relish from Julie Harrington is a refreshing departure from store-bought canned and it can easily be made ahead of time.

     Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce with Pears

    Leanne Ray’s Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce with Pears is just sweet enough. I don’t own an instant pot, but if I did, I would make this.

    homemade turkey stock

    I stink at gravy, so I’m grateful for Michelle Dudash’s Best Turkey Gravy, which you make in two steps, one of them a few days ahead of time.

    Roasted Vegetable Stock from Chef Catherine Brown can be made up to five days in advance and refrigerated or frozen for up to six months. Homemade stock is about 1,000 times more flavorful than store-bought, so if you get a chance, make this.

    A white platter filled with turkey breast that is topped with crispy skin and gravy with a dish of gravy on the side.

    The Best Slow Cooker Turkey Breast + Easy Cider Gravy from Whitney Reist. Yes, this post is about side dishes, but I couldn’t resist including this amazing recipe!

    Happy holidays!

    Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour

    I’m always looking for new ways to use pumpkin, one of my favorite canned foods, and I love to use pumpkin in a variety of ways. My trip to an almond farm, courtesy of the Almond Board of California, inspired this recipe for Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour.

    It was interesting to learn about how almonds are grown and to actually see how they are harvested.

    Here are some fun facts about almonds:

    • California grows 80% of the world’s almonds

    • 90% of California almond farms are family farms

    • One ounce of almonds supplies about half of your required daily vitamin E, which protects cells against damage. And, almonds are a far better choice than pretzels, crackers and chips.

    But, back to the muffins!

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    Here’s why they’re better for you:

    I used ground almonds for most of the flour in this recipe, and swapped in whole wheat flour for the all-purpose kind. In addition to the pumpkin and shredded apple, whole grain flour boosts nutrition.

    These tasty muffins are a healthier choice than store-bought versions because they provide more nutrition for fewer calories. Muffins from the supermarket and coffee shops can have between 300 and 500 calories.

    I hope you enjoy these muffins as much as I do!

    Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour

    Canned pumpkin, California almonds, and shredded apple make these muffins moist, tender, and delicious!
    Prep Time15 mins
    Cook Time15 mins
    5 mins
    Total Time30 mins
    Course: Breakfast
    Cuisine: American
    Servings: 18
    Calories: 152kcal
    Author: Elizabeth Ward

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/3 cups almond flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 2 cups coarsely grated unpeeled apple

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 400˚F. Generously coat 18 standard muffin cups with cooking spray.
    • In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, using a whisk.
    • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, honey, oil, and vanilla until well combined.  
    • Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and combine, using a wooden spoon, until thoroughly blended. Gently fold in the apples.
    • Divide the batter evenly among the 18 muffin cups. 
    • Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan and cool on a wire rack. 

    Notes

    I find that grinding 1 cup of whole almonds makes about 1 1/3 cups almond flour. 

    Tips for Better Snacks

    Adults consume 400 to 900 daily calories as snacks daily, and half of all children take in about 600 calories between meals, which is enough to qualify as a meal! Use these tips for better snacks and upgrade mini meals for more energy, better focus, and good nutrition.

    What makes a healthy snack for kids and adults?

    It’s natural to get hungry between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, especially for young children and teens. Kids need to energy grow, and adults who skimp on meals, or skip them, need snacks, too.

    It’s OK to snack. The problem is that snacks are often rich in calories, fat, and sodium, and low in good nutrition.

    Think of snacks as balanced mini-meals, not meal-wreckers. For example, when you combine cheese, whole grain crackers, and fruit, it’s OK to eat lightly at your next meal.

    There’s no limit on snacks, but they should be balanced. And, you should account for snack calories as part of daily calorie needs so that you don’t eat too much. It’s easy to confuse snacks and treats.

    When kids snack at home, have them eat at the table.  Eating at a table encourages mindfulness about food.

    The difference between a snack and a treat

    Pack in the protein for better snacks

    Cookies, chips, and candy temporarily curb hunger, but they aren’t particularly filling in the long run, in part because they lack protein.

    Protein promotes eating satisfaction, and may contribute to easier weight control.

    Protein-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy, lean meat, poultry, and seafood, also provide vitamins and minerals, including choline, iodine, and vitamin B12 for brain health. And, soy, beans, nuts, and seeds supply fiber, which we need every day.

    Include carbohydrates for better snacks

    Carbohydrates are found in foods such as milk, fruit, vegetables, beans, bread, cereals, pasta, rice, and other grains, and in cookies, cakes, and other sweet foods and beverages.  

    Nutritious, satisfying snacks combine protein and carbohydrates, preferably the complex kind. 

    Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include whole grains, beans, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Popcorn is a whole grain. 

    Complex carbohydrates, including starch and fiber, take longer to digest. In addition, complex carbohydrates are generally found in foods with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that support health.  

    16 tips for better snacks for kids and adults

    When it comes to snacks, anything goes as long as it’s on the healthy side!

    These better snacks combine protein and carbohydrate, and offer a variety of other nutrients, too.

    • Double Berry Smoothie: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen wild blueberries, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries or strawberries, 2 tablespoons milk, sweetener of your choice. Combine in food processor or blender and drink immediately.

    Try these other delicious smoothie recipes

    • ¾ cup dry roasted edamame
    • Small bowl of whole grain cereal and milk or fortified soy beverage. (Most plant milks don’t supply as much protein as dairy or soy.)
    • Trail mix: whole grain cereal, raisins, nuts
    • ½ tuna fish or turkey sandwich on whole grain bread and a handful of cherry tomatoes
    • 1-2 reduced-fat mozzarella cheese sticks and 6 woven wheat whole grain crackers
    • 1-2 hard-cooked eggs and a 1-ounce whole grain roll or slice of toast
    • 1 serving plain one-minute oats prepared in the microwave with 8 ounces milk and topped with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
    • Carton of Greek yogurt and fruit
    • 4 cups low-fat microwave popcorn tossed with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese; 8 ounces milk
    • 1 cup canned lentil soup topped with ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • ½ cup cottage cheese and 6 whole grain crackers
    • 10 small whole grain pretzels and hummus
    • 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 10 baby carrots

    These no-bake cookies are perfect for snacking. [/caption]

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