No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These delicious no-bake breakfast cookies have four ingredients, and are ready in less than 10 minutes.

Do you love cookies as much as I do? There’s nothing wrong with treats as part of a balanced diet, but if you want to eat cookies more frequently, perhaps you should get more than calories, sugar, and fat in the bargain!

My idea of a delicious cookie recipe is a no-bake combination of oats, peanut butter, raisins, and pure vanilla extract that’s ready in less than 10 minutes and makes enough to last the week.

These cookies are vegan and gluten-free (especially if you use gluten-free oats), and you can prepare them with no added sugar, if desired.

We usually think of cookies as dessert, but they work for breakfast, too!

If you don’t like cereal, eggs, or yogurt for breakfast, or you don’t have time to eat these nutritious foods, one of these cookies combined with a glass of dairy milk or a carton of yogurt and a piece of fruit makes a portable, healthy morning meal.

Yes, I said “eat cookies for breakfast” and why not? You eat breakfast for dinner, right?

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies

Makes 10 cookies.

2 cups raisins

1 cup chunky or creamy peanut butter (use natural peanut butter for no added sugar)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups quick oats, toasted*

Place raisins, peanut butter, and vanilla extract in food processor. Blend on HIGH until well combined, about 45 seconds.  The mixture will resemble a paste. Place the raisin mixture in a medium bowl. Add oatmeal and combine well, using your hands, if necessary.  Form into 10 cookies or balls. Store in airtight container.

*Toasting oatmeal makes it taste even better in no-bake recipes. (You can skip this step if want.) To toast oats, preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread the oats evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before using.

Per serving: 292 calories; 8 grams protein; 39 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams fiber; 14 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 0 milligrams cholesterol; 164 milligrams sodium; 60 milligrams calcium.

Just grab a breakfast cookie and go. 


How to Make Better Pasta Salad

Whole wheat pasta and chickpeas provide fiber and other nutrients to support health.

Pasta salad is a staple at summertime picnics and BBQs across America, and it’s often enjoyed all year long, too. While this perennial favorite gets gobbled up by the ton every year, I cannot say that I am a fan of the classic pasta salad recipe.

While I like the idea of a cold pasta dish, I don’t go for combining overcooked pasta with a mayonnaise-based dressing and a smattering of chopped celery and bell pepper. To be fair, while this is the most common way, it’s not the only way to make pasta salad. There are dozens of recipes out there with all kinds of interesting ingredients.

Pasta salad can be served as a side dish or made into a meal.

Pasta salad is no “guilty pleasure” that should be relegated to the warmer months. Cooked and cooled pasta is a source of resistant starch, a type of fiber that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut that help prevent colon cancer and to support overall health. Legumes, and cooked and cooled potatoes, also provide resistant starch. Foods rich in fiber can help prevent, and manage, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

I like a hearty pasta salad that’s more than a side dish.  Here’s how I build a better pasta salad to enjoy as a meatless meal or side dish all year long.

Whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta is a great way to include at least three servings a day of whole grains, which, generally speaking, have more nutrients than refined grains. I like the slightly nutty taste of whole wheat pasta, which is higher in fiber than the regular kind. I favor shapes such as rotini because the ridges hold onto the dressing.

Whole wheat pasta is brimming with manganese, a mineral you need for strong bones and cartilage, and for many other bodily functions.

Why carbohydrates are so good for you

Legumes. Chickpeas and pasta are a satisfying combo that you can really sink your teeth into.  Legumes supply protein, and fiber, which helps to better regulate your energy levels. Legumes are also packed with iron, folate, and plant compounds that protect your cells from damage.

Cottage cheese. I like cheese in my pasta salad for the taste, as well as the protein and calcium. Using low fat cottage cheese in place of some of the feta cheese cuts down on calories and saturated fat.

Low fat cottage cheese has 11 times less saturated fat than feta cheese, but is lower in calcium.

Whole Wheat Pasta and Chickpea Salad

Makes 12 servings.

16 ounces (dry) whole wheat rotini pasta

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

2 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup chopped parsley

½ cup diced red onion

½ cup low fat cottage cheese

½ cup crumbled feta cheese


1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, diced

½ teaspoon salt, or more, if desired

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Cook pasta until just about done (al dente). Drain well and place pasta in a large serving bowl. Add the beans, tomatoes, parsley, onion, cottage cheese, and feta cheese. Combine well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Add the dressing to the pasta mixture and toss until well combined. Serve chilled.

Per serving: 253 calories; 10 grams protein; 40 grams carbohydrate; 6 grams fiber; 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 6 milligrams cholesterol; 284 milligrams sodium; 80 milligrams calcium.

Add more vegetables, such as chopped yellow bell pepper, and serve over a bed of greens to make Whole Wheat Pasta and Chickpea salad into a delicious, meatless meal.







Are Carbohydrates Good for You?

Is it me, or do those cookies look slightly evil?

“Are carbs good for you?” I get that question a lot.  If I wasn’t a dietitian, I’d be curious, too, given all the buzz about carbohydrates.  Here’s what you should consider about carbohydrates and health.

Carbohydrates Keep You Going 

Carbohydrates, found in an array of foods, are your body’s preferred energy source. Carbohydrates are digested and converted into glucose, which fuels every cell. The brain and red blood cells rely heavily on carbohydrate, and when levels of glucose drop in your bloodstream, your mental and physical energy goes south, too.

Feeling “hangry” is a real thing. 

Carbohydrates are found in foods such as milk, yogurt, fruit, vegetables, legumes (beans), bread, cereals, pasta, rice, and other grains, cookies, cakes, and other sweets.  With the exception of fiber, which is technically a carbohydrate but mostly indigestible, all types of carbs turn into glucose, and all carbs supply four calories per gram.

A recent survey found that Americans blame carbohydrates for weight gain, which is probably why low-carb diets are so attractive.  However, a consistently low carbohydrate intake forces the body to turn to protein and fat for energy, which isn’t ideal. Protein is meant to provide the raw materials to build and maintain lean tissue, including muscle, and to make enzymes, hormones, and cells to support life. When protein is redirected for energy, it cannot fully do its job.

A low-carb diet may shorten your life


Cut carbs, and you cut calories, which may be the reason for weight loss.

As your low-carb intake wears on, the body begins to burn more fat. Fat breakdown produces compounds called ketones. Blood levels of ketones are consistently elevated on a very low-carb diet.  Experts aren’t sure about the effects of such elevated ketones on health, but they do know that excessive ketones can be life-threatening in people with diabetes.

Very low-carb eating plans, such as the ketogenic diet, often lead to fat loss, but it’s unclear exactly why. While it’s true that people who cut carbohydrate intake to bare-bones levels shed pounds, it’s usually because they had been eating excessive amounts of foods with refined carbs and added sugar, such as cookies, cake, and candy. Simply cutting calories could be the reason for the weight loss.

Maple syrup and honey may be “natural,” but they are sources of added sugar.

Carbohydrates are classified as “simple,” and “complex.”

When you eat simple carbohydrates, such as maple syrup, honey, table sugar, and white bread, pasta, and rice, the body quickly digests them and converts them into glucose, producing immediate energy, which must be used right away or stored as body fat. Insulin helps the glucose to enter cells and return blood glucose levels to normal. Problem is, a steady diet of simple carbohydrates increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer by promoting a condition known as insulin resistance.

The starch and other complex carbohydrates found in foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and legumes (beans), take longer for the body to digest, making for a slower and steadier energy release into the bloodstream. As a result, your body makes  less insulin to metabolize glucose, which is better for your health.

Study: Eating a more plant-based diet is linked to lower Body Mass Index

Choose Quality Carbohydrates

When it comes to choosing carbs, quality counts. It’s a good idea to consider the company that carbohydrates keep rather than taking them off your menu.

Foods rich in added sugars, such as regular soft drinks, granola bars, and candy, typically offer little besides calories. That doesn’t mean you must avoid them altogether, however. Find out what your added sugar limit is here.

Choose high-carb, nutrient-rich foods to support your health.

Fruits and vegetables, and plain milk and yogurt, contain naturally-occurring simple sugars. They are not on the list of sweeter foods experts advise us to limit, however.

Foods with naturally-occurring sugar, as well as starchy foods such as grains, potatoes, and rice, are desirable because they supply vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, and phytonutrients, beneficial plant compounds that protect your cells. Fortified grains supply additional nutrients, such as iron and folic acid, which are often in short supply in women of childbearing age.

The downside of going gluten-free

Bread made with fortified grains provides vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrates are Good for Your Gut

Fiber, found only in plant foods, including whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and beans, protects against diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. Your gut cannot digest fiber, but the bacteria that live there can.

Bacteria in the colon ferment, or feed on, the fiber in food, producing short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA protect the lining of your gut and defend it against colon cancer, help to control blood glucose, reduce inflammation, and strengthen your immune system.

Fiber helps to keep you fuller longer, which is beneficial when trying to control your weight. It also plays a role in lowering blood cholesterol levels, keeping blood glucose concentrations in a normal range, and preventing constipation.

Fruit is full of water, and can help you meet your daily fluid needs.

How Much Carbohydrate and Fiber Should You Eat?

Carbohydrate and fiber intakes are based on calorie requirements.

Experts recommend consuming 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories as carbohydrate. That amounts to:

  • 248 to 358 grams on a 2,200-calorie eating plan
  • 225 and 325 grams on a 2,000-calorie eating plan
  • 202 to 293 grams on an 1,800-calorie eating plan

Just for reference, popular low-carb diets suggest far less carbohydrate than nutrition experts.  For example, the ketogenic way of eating recommends no more than 50 grams daily, about the amount found in a three-ounce egg bagel.

Check this list for the carbohydrate content of foods. 

Suggested fiber intakes are easier to figure:

• For every 1,000 calories consumed, eat at least 14 grams of fiber from food.

• For example, on a 2,000-calorie eating plan, include a minimum of 28 grams of food fiber daily.

Beans supply a type of fiber that beneficial gut bacteria love!

How to Get the Fiber You Need

It’s easier to include adequate fiber when you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and at least three servings a day of whole grains. For packaged foods, such as bread and cereal, check “Dietary Fiber” on the Nutrition Facts panel of food labels for fiber content.

Here are some common fiber sources, listed in grams:

Navy beans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 10

Lentils, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 8

Black beans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 8

Garbanzo beans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 8

Whole wheat bread, 2 ounces: 6

White beans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 6

Pear, 1 medium: 6

Avocado, 1⁄2 cu:p 5

Soybeans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked or roasted: 5

Peas, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 4

Chia seeds, 1 tablespoon: 4

Apple, medium, with skin:  4

Raspberries, 1⁄2 cup: 4

Potato, medium, with skin, baked: 4

Sweet potato, medium, flesh only, baked: 4

Almonds, 1 ounce: 4

Broccoli, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 3

Orange, 1 medium: 3

Banana, 1 medium: 3

Quinoa, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 3

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: The Bottom Line

Like any calorie-containing component of food, including protein, fat, and alcohol, too much carbohydrate in your diet may end up as stored body fat because of the excess calories it provides. Likewise, eating drastically less than the recommended amount of carbohydrate is not a good idea, either, because it has several negative consequences that may affect your health in the longterm.

Including more plant, and plain dairy foods, as part of balanced eating plan is your best bet for getting enough “good” carbs. Even the so-called “bad” carbohydrates, such as added sugars, white bread, and pasta, can still be a part of a balanced eating plan, even with diabetes. (Check with your dietitian about your daily carbohydrate budget.)

Vegetables supply several nutrients, including fiber and phytonutrients – protective plant compounds.

Stay Fit and Fabulous After 50

Can we talk? I am not aging well, and by well, I mean I have a hard time accepting how getting older is affecting my body. Judging by all the ads on TV for Botox, body “sculpting,” and drugs to boost bone density, I can see that am not alone in my struggle.

I’m always on the hunt for ways to preserve my health, and that’s exactly what I found in talking with my friend Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, co-author of Food and Fitness After 50: Eat Well, Move Well, Be Well. I may not like what’s happening to me as the years pass, but I’m not going down without a fight, either. Take that, Mother Nature!

I scoured Chris’ book for tips, but I still had some questions. Here’s what Chris told me when I quizzed her about how to be fit, and fabulous, after 50.

Chris Rosenbloom and co-author Bob Murray.

Q. Maybe it’s me, but it’s tough to fight flab with age because it can seem like you’re doing a lot to control your weight with little reward. What is “weight creep,” why does it happen, and what can we do about it?

A. Weight creep is that insidious, small weight gain that doesn’t seem like a big deal. And, a pound or two at a time isn’t a big deal until 20 years later when you’re saddled with an additional 20, 30 or 40 pounds.

Nobody gains 20 pounds overnight; it’s a small, steady increase until one day it hits you that you’re much heavier than you were. I think it happens because we just don’t pay attention. We don’t monitor our weight or pay attention to how our clothes fit. We might get weighed at the doctor’s office (how many of us say, “that scale is way off?”), but rarely does a doctor say anything about weight once we step off the scale.

I also think the rise of Athleisure wear is bad news for aging women. I only wear yoga pants when I do yoga! I wear jeans when working at home, so I have some feedback from the pants that tell me how they fit. While I recommend aiming for health, and not a number on the scale, it may be helpful to weigh yourself often, and possibly daily, to get a sense of an upward trend in your body weight. Don’t worry about fluctuating a couple of pounds every day, because that’s usually just water weight.  If there is an uptick in weight overall, ask yourself what you might be doing to cause the numbers to go up. (Note: If you’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past, it may not be a good idea to weigh yourself daily.)

Should you weigh yourself every day?

Building and preserving muscle goes a long way in your later years. Start now to reap the benefits.

Q. It’s so important for people to understand the importance of muscle as it relates to strength, metabolism, and overall health. Can you describe what happens to muscle tissue as we age?

A. Between the ages of 20 and 90, it’s possible to lose more than 50% of our muscle mass due to sarcopenia (literally meaning “vanishing flesh”) that’s the result of a sedentary lifestyle. And, for women, the effect is even greater, as we have less muscle mass by nature. Add an illness or injury and the picture gets worse; you can lose 1% muscle mass each day after surgery or during an illness!

We lose not only muscle mass, but also muscle strength as we age and that can lead to a decrease in functional fitness, that is, the ability to continue to do the things that help us live independently. Climbing stairs, shopping and carrying groceries, cleaning the house, working in the garden…all of things we take for granted when we are younger can get harder if we lose a significant amount of muscle mass and strength.

The good news is that muscle is very responsive and adaptive to strength training, and we can regain mass and strength by doing progressive, resistance exercise twice a week. You don’t even have to go to the gym. Resistance exercise can be done at home with hand weights or exercise bands. Bob and I like Fitness Blender for online app-based fitness programs, and Go4Life from the National Institute for Aging for easy, free exercise programs.

An eating plan rich in plant foods is good for your heart, and the rest of you, at any age.

Q. Would you explain how menopause influences body weight, muscle mass, bones, and the heart?

A. After menopause, the gradual loss of estrogen affects a woman’s health in many ways, and none of them are positive. Body composition can change, and you may have more visceral fat (the dreaded “belly fat”), an increase in the fat content in muscle, and in your heart and liver, and an overall increase in body weight until about age 70.

Muscle mass is affected, as mentioned before, but most the changes in muscle are related to lack of physical activity that builds and maintains muscle by stressing it. Bone loss begins at about age 30, but after menopause there is a rapid decline in bone mass for the first five years. Bone losses level off after that, but bone density is not as good as before menopause. Dietitians stress the importance of a healthy eating plan, including calcium and vitamin D, during adolescence, a prime bone-building time of life, right up to menopause (and afterwards) so that you have the strongest bones possible before calcium losses occur.

The heart is also affected by reduced estrogen levels.  Before menopause, women tend to have more “good” cholesterol in their bloodstream, and are considered at a lower risk for heart disease than men. That estrogen protection starts to wane with menopause.  But, as dire as it sounds, women can now live almost half of their lives after menopause, and exercise, both aerobic and strength training, help promote a healthy body weight, bone health, heart health, and muscle health. So, instead of looking for a superfood, magic supplements, or prescription drug, start eating right and moving more today, because it is never too late!

Find exercise that you enjoy. Doing different types prevent boredom.

Q. Starting an exercise program, increasing exercise frequency, and changing the type of exercise you do can be daunting. What is your advice?

A. There is no “best” exercise. Find something you like to do, start slow, and just do it.   In my community, I’ve seen older adults go crazy for pickleball, and people who haven’t exercised in 20 years are showing up to play this fun sport. It might also be helpful to join a YMCA or a gym that caters to older adults; many people get free or reduced YMCA membership with their Medicare supplemental insurance but never take advantage of it. And, if that doesn’t work, find a friend or a fitness buddy to walk with.

Q. How important is maintaining strength and agility as we age with regards to independence and quality of life?

I can’t say it enough: Keeping our muscles strong, and staying flexible and agile can help prevent falls, fractures, and metabolic diseases (like diabetes). My goals include traveling, and being able to lift my suitcase to get it into the overhead bin on a plane! I also plan to be able to haul a 50-pound bag of dog food into my shopping cart, my car, and into the house to feed my two big dogs! Those tasks define functional fitness for me at age 66!  I am also realistic and I know things can happen to my body. When an injury or illness comes along,  chances are, you will recover faster and easier if you are fit!

Yogurt is a convenient, versatile, protein-packed food, and it also promotes a healthy digestive system and strong bones.

Q. Protein is getting a lot of attention these days.  Should older people eat more protein than the current suggested intake?

A. Researchers have identified something called “age-related anabolic resistance,” thought to be caused by less sensitive signaling pathways that lead to a slower muscle-making ability. So, older adults who are strength training need more protein than the current recommendation, and protein should be distributed throughout the day to maintain or build muscle. While protein needs vary, I think an easy way to look at it is to recommend about 30 grams of protein per meal (a smaller person might need less 20-25, and a larger person trying to build muscle might need more, 30-40 grams) every day. I would also suggest a nighttime snack with protein, such as a half-cup of cottage cheese, two one-ounce string cheeses, or a small bowl of cereal and milk to “feed” your muscles while sleeping.



36 Tips to Waste Less Food and Save More Money

I have a confession to make. I throw away perfectly good food on a regular basis, in spite of being raised by a mom who used up all the food because waste was not an option.

It doesn’t make me feel any better to know that I am not alone in my food management problem. The U.S. squanders about 30% of the food available to eat, and most of it is tossed at home.

March is National Nutrition Month, and I am pleased to see that this year’s theme, Go Further with Food, is as much about minimizing food waste as it is about maximizing good nutrition.  Trashing edible food drives up prices and makes it less affordable to those with reduced financial resources, who miss out on nutrients. Even if you have enough cash, tossing food is throwing money away. On average, a family of four wastes up to $2,200.00-worth of food every year.

Food waste is also bad for the environment.

If food waste was a country, it would be the planet’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, right behind China and the United States. Food is the single largest component of trash in landfills, where it produces methane, a global-warming gas. Throwing food away also squanders the resources that went into producing, processing, packaging, and transporting it. For example, 25% of all freshwater in the U.S. is used to produce food that we never eat.

Zero-waste snacking tips

How to minimize food waste

Managing food wisely takes time and creativity. The amount of food tossed in my household is directly related to my level of motivation to manage it, which includes planning meals, shopping, and using up leftovers. The busier I get, the more food I throw away.

We can’t save and eat all the food that’s slated for the trash heap, but I think it’s safe to say that there’s room for improvement.  I asked my dietitian colleagues for their best food-saving tips, and I divided their advice, and my own suggestions, into three levels of difficulty. Let’s face it: managing food is hard, so pick the tips that best fit your lifestyle.

Simple tips to save food and money

  • “Before going to the grocery store, look in the fridge and cabinets to see what you have, and what needs to be used up first. If there is something that I know I won’t eat before it goes bad, into the freezer it goes (either cooked or not, depending on the food). Then I use what’s in the freezer when I’m planning my meals.” – Kaleigh McMordie


  • “You don’t need a complicated recipe to make a meal, snack or side dish. Take a look at what you have, and be confident. Most leftovers combine nicely for a soup, casserole or stir-fry.”- Pat Baird

  • Choose smaller plates and glasses.  Dietitians have been touting this advice for decades, but it’s not usually framed around food waste.  A smaller plate helps encourage proper portions and reduces overeating.  Overeating is technically a form of food waste, because we are consuming more food than our bodies need. This form of food waste can lead to chronic diseases, too. – Chris Vogliano



  • Place foods that spoil quickly within sight so that you eat them first. Wash fresh produce like lettuce and berries just before eating to keep it from spoiling. Store fruits and veggies in separate crisper drawers.

  • “Use fresh produce in smoothies. I keep bulk Greek yogurt in the fridge and make smoothies as a grab & go breakfast.” – Mary Emerson


  • Freeze fresh ripe fruit that’s about to go bad, such as berries, peaches (pit and slice first), and sliced bananas for smoothies, smoothie bowls, and delicious frozen fruit desserts, like  Chocolate Peanut Butter “Ice Cream.”


  • Purchase plain frozen fruits and vegetables. That way, you will use only what you need at the time and minimize waste.


  • Embrace imperfection. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables with odd shapes, sizes, or colors. They taste the same, but so-­called ugly fruits and vegetables often get tossed by grocery stores because they don’t sell. Slightly bruised produce is OK to eat if you cut away the damaged area, but avoid produce with any cuts.


  • Set your refrigerator between 35 ̊F and 40 ̊F, and your freezer at 0 ̊F or below, to keep food fresher for longer. Stuffing the refrigerator and freezer reduces cooling efficiency and speeds up food spoilage.

  • After grocery shopping, get perishables into the fridge or freezer ASAP. If you’re making stops before heading home from the super­ market, bring a cooler bag with you in the car for dairy, meat, and produce.


  • Avoid resealing fresh fruits and vegetables in airtight plastic storage bags or containers because they trap moisture that promotes faster decay. Purchase perforated plastic bags for produce or make your own by poking tiny holes in resealable plastic bags.


  • “Write the date a food was opened when you open a container of shelf stable food like broth or canned beans to avoid having to guess whether it’s still good or not when you can’t remember how long it’s been in the fridge.” – Courtney Stinson


  • “Consider a meal delivery service. I found food waste challenging when we went from a family of three to a family of two. Using the Hello Fresh for a few meals a week is helpful. We get just the right amount of ingredients and the meals-for-two are actually dinner-for-two and lunch-for-one. I buy frozen protein (mostly fish and chicken) and take out only enough for what we will eat, add a microwavable frozen veggie pack and the brown rice bowls they sell at Costco. I would have to say that cooking for two is a challenge because many recipes aren’t easily cut in half. I recognize that buying a lot at a cheaper per unit price isn’t cheaper if it goes bad, so I am okay with buying smaller quantities of food at a higher per unit price.” – Shelley Real

See what happened when Dana Angelo White challenged herself to reduce her family’s food waste

Next-level tips to save food and money

  • Plan meals and snacks for at least five days of the week and shop for the ingredients. Meal planning helps to save money and food waste, and prepping meals on the weekend saves time Monday through Friday.

  • “Reorganize your fridge. Crisper drawers actually have a purpose! Reconsidering how you organize your fridge can keep your food fresh longer by reducing spoilage.  This will save you money while fighting food waste.  Check out this fridge storage infographic for more information.– Chris Vogliano


  • “I cook vegetables within a day or two of purchase and refrigerate them in airtight container if I know I will not be eating them that day. This allows me to get to them before they have a chance to wilt in the fridge.” – Barbara Baron


  • Know what the dates mean. You may pitch food because you want to eat only the freshest and safest items, but throwing away perfectly good items contributes mightily to food waste. Some of the dates on food packages are more about quality than anything. “Sell by” dates are used for fresh, perishable foods, such as meats and dairy products. It’s the last possible day the store can sell the product, and it’s a date you should take seriously for safety’s sake. However, if the date passes while you have the product at home, the food should still be safe if handled properly. The “Use By” and “Best If Used By” dates have more wiggle room, as they refer to perceived food quality, not food safety. For example, the “best if used by” is the last date recommended for the customer’s use of a product at its peak quality. To see how long food is still good past these dates, visit


  • “Have a family fix it yourself leftovers night. We do this when we’re too lazy or tired to assemble a whole meal. We try to eat all the leftover food and what that is close to expiring. Nobody eats the same thing, but we can still usually each find a pretty balanced meal.” – Courtney Stinson

  • “I use extra vegetables and grains to make pasta dishes and rice bowls.” – Rebecca Clyde


  • “When I’m feeling ambitious, I portion out foods like fruit, veggies, beans, and grains into see-through containers, typically in ½-cup or 1-cup portions. That way, instead of the blueberries getting accidentally pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten, someone can easily grab a portion to throw on top of cereal, or easily grab grains, beans, and greens for a broth.” -Wendy Kaplan


  • “Build a layered vegetable salad in order of the food’s ability to withstand moisture, and it’ll keep in your refrigerator longer. Starting at the bottom of the bowl, use sturdy vegetables like peppers and carrots. Then use vegetables that can withstand some moisture, like mushrooms and beans. Follow with a layer of whole grains. Finish with a top layer of herbs and lettuce. Add dressing on individual plates, right before serving.” – Tamar Rothenberg

Here’s how to makeover your leftovers

Cook more to curb food waste

  • “I keep a bag of vegetable scraps in my freezer to make stock. When I get enough, I toss the vegetables in with bones and cook overnight.” –Wendy Jo Peterson

  • “I’m loving the new food trend of eating root-to-stem! For example, if you’re a fan of broccoli, there’s no need to throw out the leaves and the stem. You can sauté the leaves, which tastes similar to kale, and turn the stem into broccoli rice in the food processor.”  – Jessica Spiro 


  • Use ice cube trays to preserve leftover wine, remaining tomato paste, milk, yogurt, and 100% fruit or vegetable juice, and use in recipes later.

Check out Jessica Elyse’s ways to reduce food waste.

  • “ While it doesn’t completely eliminate food waste, you can use up parts of veggies you wouldn’t normally eat, or veggies that have lost their texture (ex: softened carrots) by making your own vegetable broth. You can be extra eco-friendly by composting the veggie scraps after you’ve gotten flavor and nutrients out of them.” – Kelly Jones



  • Make food fresh again. Perk up wilted kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens by placing them in ice water for 30 minutes. Cook and eat or freeze. To freshen up nuts, toast them on a baking sheet in a 350 ̊F oven for 10 minutes.

  • “I make an Egg Bake with my leftover food–nearly anything can be mixed with eggs, some onions and a little cheese (even cottage cheese–one of my favorites).” – Kitty Broihier


  • “Don’t throw away the liquid from the can of beans! This “aquafaba” makes an excellent vegan egg alternative for baked goods (it makes the fudgiest box brownies ever) and can be used to make vegan mayo. Here’s one example of how to use it in these sweet potato fritters with aquafaba aioli!” -Chrissy Carroll


  • “Search for recipes based on what you need to use up. I had a half can of pumpkin and a half can of coconut milk so I googled “pumpkin coconut milk muffins.” You are bound to find something to try! Also, when I realize I made too much of something, I’ll find a friend or neighbor to share it with. -Kacie Barnes

Cooking Down: Minimize Waste and Make Easy Real Food


  • “Dry fruits and vegetables in the oven or a dehydrator. Purée veggies and tomatoes for marinara sauce. Make soup. Make croutons with extra bread.” -Aimee Sarchet


  • “I evaluate the fridge before going to the store each Sunday and make a combination meal that can include several leftovers, like a frittata featuring leftover veggies and cheese; a grain salad for lunches with leftover cooked whole grains, salad greens, leftover veggies and meat; or a soup. I also always freeze leftover canned goods.”‪ – Jessica Ivey

A year of less food waste by Moms Kitchen Handbook

  • “I have several ideas in this (free) PowerPoint and accompanying handout. The photo of “Clean the Fridge Chopped Salad” is one of my favorites, because, you just take bite-size odds and ends of whatever is in your fridge and would go well with each other (veggies, nuts, cheese, fruit, meat, etc.); mix them together and add your favorite salad dressing! -Alice Henneman

    Judy Barbe’s Roasted Cauliflower Fettucini 

Kara Lydon Evancho has compiled 25 delicious, creative recipes to use up leftovers. 

When it’s OK to throw food away

You shouldn’t eat every food in the name of frugality. Never freeze, cook, or eat any food that smells funny to you. For safety’s sake, toss the following:

  • Odd­-smelling food
  • Food left out for more than two hours, or one hour if the air temperature is 90 ̊F or above
  • If the power has been out for at least four hours and you haven’t opened the refrigerator
  • or freezer; sooner if you have (raw animal foods, dairy, and leftovers should all be tossed)
  • If cans have rusted or they’re leaking, deeply dented, or bulging
  • Moldy food (except for cheese; you can cut that part away)

What are your favorite ways to curb food waste?








Slow-Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew

The episode of This Is Us where Jack dies because of a fire caused by a slow cooker has not scared me off this kitchen tool, especially because I use it to make Slow-Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew, one of 60 recipes included in Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy.

I love knowing this stew is ready to eat for dinner on a chilly evening, and for lunch the next day.

Whole grain cornbread is delicious with the stew. 

You don’t need to give up meat to eat a plant-based diet, and this recipe proves it, as one portion supplies a full serving of vegetables, along with protein, iron, and about 25% of your daily requirement for choline, a nutrient every cell in your body requires, and is especially necessary for developing brains during pregnancy and early life.

This burger recipe is a beef and mushroom blend

The stew is rich in mushrooms, which take the place of some of the beef. Mushrooms are the only product in the fruit and vegetable section with vitamin D, and they have many other beneficial properties, too.

Mushrooms provide umami, a taste sensation that brings a savory flavor to dishes.

Vary this recipe with a mixture of mushrooms, such as white button and shiitake, if you like.

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew

Makes 6 servings.

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups baby carrots

16 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 can (15-ounce) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

11/2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 pound stew meat, such as chuck, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)

Place all the ingredients except the beef, peas, and pepper in a slow cooker. Combine well. Add the beef. Cover and cook on the low setting for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Just before serving, add the peas and season with pepper, if desired. Stir well. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes.

Per serving: 

Calories: 238

Protein: 27 grams

Total fat: 5 grams

Saturated fat: 2 grams

Cholesterol: 54 milligrams

Sodium: 470 milligrams

Carbohydrate: 22 grams

Dietary fiber: 4 grams

Calcium: 39 milligrams

Iron: 3 milligrams

Choline: 111 milligrams

No-Bake Bean and Peanut Butter Treats

I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m going to celebrate Valentine’s Day without chocolate. I usually go overboard on candy, so this year I devised a plant-powered, not-too-sweet treat as a vehicle for just enough chocolate to satisfy me. And that’s saying a lot!

No-Bake Bean and Peanut Butter Treats are perfect for everyone in the family because they are delicious, energizing, and heart-healthy.  Little hands can form the dough into hearts, or, if they prefer, balls. The best part is that these treats are ready in about 30 minutes!

No-Bake Bean and Peanut Butter Treats pack oatmeal, peanut butter, and beans to energize and satisfy.

No-Bake Bean and Peanut Butter Treats

Makes 18 hearts or balls

1 cup oatmeal, uncooked

1 15-ounce can white beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup pure honey or maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (vegan and gluten-free, if desired)

3 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts

Place all the ingredients except the chocolate chips and peanuts in a food processor.  Blend until the mixture is well-combined, about 3 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides of the processor.  Leave the dough in the food processor and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Place the dough on a large cutting board and press into a 9-inch square that’s about 1/2-inch thick. Use a medium heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the dough.*  Combine remaining dough and press into a 1/2-inch thick piece. Cut dough into hearts until you have 18. Place hearts on a wire cooling rack on top of a cutting board.

*Note: You can also shape the dough into 18 balls. Dip half of each ball into the melted chocolate and coat with peanuts. Place on wax paper to harden.

A glaze of melted dark chocolate chips provides just enough to satisfy a chocolate craving without excessive sugar.

To decorate, melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Glaze the hearts with the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.  Allow the chocolate to harden before eating, or not! Refrigerate any leftovers.

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and these treats are ready to eat! No baking necessary.






How to Eat to Beat Digestive Problems

Today’s topic: gut health. I know, I know, kind of gross, and not something you bring up in polite conversation. Well, maybe it should be. If you’re among the millions of Americans who suffer with uncomfortable gastrointestinal (GI) tract symptoms on a regular basis, you’ll want to know what Kate Scarlata, RDN, LDN, the co-author of The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step, A Personalized Plan to Relieve the Symptoms of IBS and Other Digestive Disorders, has to say about getting relief.

One in four of us have tummy trouble on a regular basis, and an estimated 25 to 45 million Americans suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  IBS causes gas, bloating, cramping, pain and altered bowel function. The low-FODMAP way of eating is based on an approach created by researchers at Monash University in Australia. According to Scarlata, research shows that up to 75% of people with IBS can get relief from their symptoms by following a low-FODMAP diet, which may also benefit those with other GI conditions, such as celiac disease (along with a gluten-free eating plan.)

One in four Americans suffer from tummy trouble.

When it comes to digestive woes, the authors know what they are talking about. In addition to providing the latest research about personalizing a FODMAP plan and 130 delicious recipes, Kate and her co-author and recipe developer Dede Wilson, discuss their own experiences in the book. Kate had a major intestinal resection nearly 23 years ago that resulted in debilitating digestive symptoms.  Dede was diagnosed with IBS in 1990.  Both have successfully used the low-FODMAP diet to manage their issues.

Here’s more from my interview with Kate.

What are FODMAPS?

FODMAPs are a group of certain carbohydrates (sugars and fibers) found in higher levels in many everyday foods, such as apples, garlic, traditional yogurt (not Greek), and products made with wheat. Because some people can’t properly digest them, FODMAPS can pull water into the small intestine, and they are rapidly consumed by gut microbes (the bacteria present in the gut), which results in excessive gas production. If you have a sensitive gut, water and gas can contribute to symptoms of bloating, alteration in bowel habits, and pain.  Additionally, the microbes that feed on FODMAPs create compounds that may also play a role in the symptoms of digestive distress.

Peanuts and walnuts are on the low-FODMAP food list.

Why did you write this book? 

I co-wrote the The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step because I wanted IBS patients to have an easy-to-understand approach to following the low FODMAP diet.  I have created ways to make the approach less daunting and realistic through my work with thousands of patients to implement the low-FODMAP diet.

What do you want people to know about a low FODMAP way of eating?

The most important point about the low-FODMAP approach is that is it a three-part nutritional intervention. The first part is a two to six-week elimination phase where high-FODMAP foods are taken out of the diet.  The second part is the challenge, or reintroduction, phase. During this phase, FODMAPs are systematically added back to the diet to help you identify which FODMAP sources trigger symptoms, and which FODMAPs do not. The third phase is the integration phase, when tolerated FODMAP foods are slowly added back to the diet.

The goal of the low-FODMAP approach is to eat the most varied and enjoyable diet as possible while maintaining good symptom control. However, balance is important. Cutting out too many foods on the low-FODMAP diet may also reduce some healthy microbes in the gut.  We encourage the challenge and integration phases of the low-FODMAP diet so that you can follow an eating plan with as much variety as possible to maintain symptom relief and keep your gut healthy.

Yes, Chocolate Chunk Cookies are on the low-FODMAP diet menu! You’ll find the recipe in book.

You mention in the book that digestive disorders are on the rise. What are your thoughts on why this is happening?

In my opinion, we are seeing an increase in digestive issues due to a complexity of environmental changes including the broad use of antibiotics and antimicrobial sprays and detergents, manipulation of the food supply with use of high fructose corn syrup (a concentrated source of FODMAPs) and food additives. For example, emulsifiers in highly processed foods such as ice cream, salad dressing, and mayonnaise, cause gut inflammation and altered gut microbes in animal studies. Pollution, stress, and other factors also alter and disturb the balance of microbes that inhabit our gut and support health.

What your gut bacteria say about your health

Do you think it’s difficult for people to be properly diagnosed with IBS and other digestive disorders? 

In America, talking about gut health is often viewed as taboo. Although our views on talking about it is slowly changing for the better, I do feel many patients would rather suffer in silence than address their GI symptoms with their doctor. A recent study revealed that primary care doctors fail to ask about GI symptoms quite often as well during physical exams, which further compounds the problem.

How to talk to your doctor about digestive issues

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), how exciting is the evidence about the effects of what you eat on digestive health and overall wellbeing? 

I would say we are at about a 10+ in this area! The evidence continues to mount daily that the gut is the window to health. What we eat impacts the trillions of microbes that live in our intestine. We know these microbes affect our chances for chronic diseases including diabetes, obesity, non alcoholic liver disease, and depression.  It is a very exciting time to be a dietitian interested in gut health…and I truly believe all dietitians should be watching the research closely so that they can best communicate findings to patients and other consumers.

You mentioned a low-FODMAP diet as a way to manage colic in infants. What’s on the horizon?

There are so many new studies looking at how FODMAPs may affect health. A 2017 study showed that when breastfeeding moms of infants with colic decreased their FODMAP intake, the infants’ colic symptoms decreased. While more research is needed about the effect of mom’s diet on colic, the study offers hope to parents. Another interesting study looked at how the low-FODMAP diet may help reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can give rise to chronic conditions including heart disease and cancer.



Eat to Conceive: Food and Fertility

Chances are, you’re familiar with someone struggling with infertility, and you may not even know it. About 15% of couples have trouble getting pregnant, which makes infertility quite common.

I wrote about infertility in Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy, and while I’m aware of the stats, they don’t convey the fact that women who face fertility issues may experience shame.

Talking more openly about infertility can help to ease a couple’s burden, and hopefully, reduce bad feelings about a condition that is not their fault. Registered dietitians Elizabeth (Liz) Shaw and Sara Haas, also a chef, have taken the lead in this regard in the Fertility Foods Cookbook, 100+ Recipes to Nourish Your Body. I spoke with Liz about book, which is full of amazing recipes, one of which I prepared, and feature below.

Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN

Why did you write this book with Sara?

I always knew that I wanted to write a book, and when I realized that there was a need for a fertility foods book, I reached out to Sara Haas, a friend that I had made online through our mutually-exhaustive experiences with infertility. After asking Sara for her opinion about my book idea, she told me that she wanted to work on a fertility book, too! Two heads are better than one, and so began our book adventure. We took the opportunity to tell our uniques stories and struggles with fertility, and to let our audience know that they are not alone.   

Chef Sara Haas, RDN, LDN

A healthy body weight improves fertility in women and men

What makes a food a fertility food? Do fertility foods differ from other foods?

While fertility-fueling foods are certainly no different than other wholesome, delicious foods, there are some principles of an eating plan conducive to conception that are important to consider. We recommend plant-based eating. You don’t have to eat a vegan diet, or severely restrict animal foods, but the bulk of your plate should be plant-based. We discuss ways in which combining healthy fats with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and plant-based proteins, such as soy and legumes, creates a plate that promotes fertility, giving couples a sense of control over a condition that sometimes feels so out of their control.

Here’s one of the recipes from the book that I tried and loved:

Chickpea Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette from the Fertility Foods Cookbook by Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN and Chef Sara Haas, RDN, LDN is easy, delicious, and can be served as an entree or as a side dish. It’s a plant-based recipe that everyone in the family will enjoy! 

Are fertility foods for women only? If not, would you explain why?

Absolutely not! It takes two to Tango, right? Although we specify in the introduction that the book is directed toward females, we include advice about food choices for men, and how some may be different than for women. While females who struggle with anovulatory infertility are encouraged to choose whole milk dairy products to enhance fertility, men are encouraged to stick with low-fat dairy. Slow-releasing carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, vegetables, legumes and soy, are good for both genders. One other interesting note is the research that suggests regular walnut consumption may help support male fertility in animal studies.

Walnuts may help support male fertility. They are also good for your gut health, and your partner’s.

Are there foods to avoid when trying to conceive and why?

While Sara and I certainly don’t want to discourage any food, we do recommend limiting added sugar, as well as reliance on highly-processed foods. Most highly-processed foods supply fewer nutrients than their less-processed counterparts. While nearly all the foods you eat, including plain milk, eggs, and lettuce, are technically “processed,” it’s possible to make better choices. For example, whole wheat bread is better for you than highly refined white bread, even though both foods are processed.

Don’t worry about engaging in a slice of birthday cake or other special occasion treats. Rather, focus on a fertility-fueling mindset most of the time. In addition, since those actively trying to conceive may become pregnant, we also recommended focusing on safer seafood choices, such as salmon, canned light tuna, and shrimp, and steering clear of fish that tend to be higher in mercury, such as King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), and big eye tuna (not canned) that is typically used in sushi.

This recipe from the Fertility Foods Cookbook is next on my list to try! 

Heavenly Chocolate Cake with Rich and Creamy Chocolate Frosting is gluten-free, vegetarian, and packed with far more protein, fiber, and other nutrients than regular chocolate cake.

In your discussions with those who are trying to conceive, what are they most confused about? 

One of the common misconceptions is that couples think they need to completely avoid carbohydrates, maybe because of the gluten-free trend.  (Men and women with diagnosed celiac disease should avoid gluten.) My job is to help educate people about the importance of including whole grains, many of which are gluten-free, in a diet that can help fuel fertility. I find once people recognize that they can become satiated, satisfied and at ease with a nourishing bowl of quinoa, mixed vegetables, and a delicious walnut sauce, their mindset about eating for fertility shifts. They start thinking of food preparation not as another chore but as a controllable way to fuel their fertility.

If you know someone who is struggling with fertility issues, check out, the support community that Liz started and runs. BumpsToBaby offers a free, closed group for those seeking health and support from others who are trying to conceive.


5 No-Diet New Year’s Resolutions

It’s a new year, and a good time to renew your commitment to healthy eating. Here’s my advice about how to do just that, without taking drastic steps that will derail your vows in a few weeks, or less.  If you want to make improvements, focus on progress, not perfection.

Do. Not. Diet.

Let’s face it: diets suck.

Food is fuel, and you must eat to survive and thrive. Fad diets are tempting, but ignore their false promises, and focus instead on improving your eating pattern for longterm success.

Quitting every favorite food will not fly in the long run. The best way to eat is one that you can live with. As my colleague Shelley Real so aptly puts it, “Eating isn’t cheating.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Read about one thing that can lead to a longterm healthy relationship with food. 

Eat to burn more calories.  

We nutrition experts encourage eating whole grains for their fiber, and other nutrients. But did you know that whole grains are also metabolism boosters?

Whole grains include cereals, breads, grains, and popcorn. Eat at least three servings daily, or even better, make all of your grains the whole kind.

Read: The only way to keep your resolutions.

Don’t play the dieting numbers game.

Consider ditching the bathroom scale and the tape measure for good. Constantly taking stock of your weight can be a downward spiral, especially when weight loss doesn’t occur as quickly as you like. Focus on eating better for overall health rather than what your scale and tape measure say.

Stop the body shaming.

So you overindulged during the holidays, or you ate too much and didn’t exercise over the weekend.

So what?

Punishing yourself is pointless, and shame is a useless and harmful emotion that will get you nowhere, and fast.

Good health is not an all-or-nothing endeavor.  Some days, weeks, and months are better than others when it comes to eating and exercising. Each day – each meal, for that matter –  is a new chance to make better choices.

Discover how to get more Body Kindness.

Stay positive about a better eating plan. 

There are certain phrases I never use, including “fat” (as it relates to body weight), “skinny,” and “clean eating.”  Why? Because they have negative connotations that contribute to a disordered relationship with food.

“Guilty pleasures,” “cheat days,” and “detox” are not on my vocabulary list, either. Hopefully, if you stop using these useless phrases too, you’ll improve your attitude about food.

What are your non-diet goals for the year ahead?

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