13 Delicious Mocktails

Basil Lemonade Spritzer

Basil Lemonade Spritzer

Reasons to Enjoy Zero-Proof Drinks 

Mocktails – zero-proof, non-alcoholic beverages – are popular with people who need to avoid alcohol, and 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 because alcoholic beverages have calories that you may not need.

Health experts suggest that women limit their alcohol intake, which may help 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, and they are amazing. Enjoy!


Why taking a break from alcohol is a good idea


 

Sparkling Pomegranate Apple Cider Cocktail

Sparkling Pomegranate Apple Cider

 

Pomegranate Adds Punch to Mocktails 

Festive Pomegranate Cherry Spritzer from Sara Haas

Sparkling Cherry Spritzer from Jenny Shea Rawn

Ginger Pomegranate Sparkler Mocktail from Tasty Balance Nutrition

Sparkling Pomegranate Apple Cider Mocktail from Nutrition to Fit


Study: It’s easier to go without alcohol when you have more choice


Mocktails Made 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 mocktail

Cranberry, Orange, and Lime Cider

Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer from Sip Smarter

Basil Lemonade Spritzer from Bite of Health Nutrition

Tropical Lipton Green Tea Virgin Sangria from Amy Gorin

Mango Kombucha Refresher from Spilling the Beans

Strawberry Lime Watermelon Smoothie from Smart Nutrition 

Sweet and Spicy Mocktail Recipes 

I love these combinations because they offer spice and sweetness.

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas mocktail

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas from Leanne Ray

Ginger Beer Pear Punch from The Nutrition Adventure

Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer mocktail

Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer

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

lemon basil cocktail with a lemon slice

Delicious Mocktails to Make At Home

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

Alarm clock and coffee cup with saucer.

Surprise! You fast every day.

Are you tired of restrictive diets that you can’t stick with? Wondering if you should try intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health? Read on to weigh the pros and cons.


Read: 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 (for example, 500 calories on a 2000-calorie a day 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.


 Read: An RD’s experience with intermittent fasting


Grilled salmon with sauce and steamed vegetables.

Feeling satisfied is key to maintaining a healthy eating plan.

Should You Try Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?  

While I’m a fan of TRE, evidence suggests that this, or any, form of IF is no better than eating fewer calories in the long term. A recent study showed that following the 5:2 eating pattern for six months helped people lose more weight than those who simply cut 500 calories from their typical eating plan. However, by 12 months, those on the reduced-calorie plan had maintained their weight loss, while the other group had not.

It’s important to choose a type of IF that works for you and that’s sustainable in the long run. 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.


Get the real story about the health effects of eating dinner late at night


 

Woman sleeping under white comforter.

Pro tip: Spend most of your fasting time 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 Helps Prevent Diabetes 

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 disease and cancer.

 

Breakfast foods

Pay attention to portions and the quality of foods you choose with intermittent fasting.

 

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.


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


Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 40

Women may notice that it’s not as easy to control their weight after age 40. As we age, we lose muscle tissue that burns more calories than fat. In addition, we may become less active, which also burns fewer calories. At some point after age 40, most women begin the transition to menopause called perimenopause.  Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause, which typically occurs after age 50 in most women. 

During perimenopause, estrogen fluctuates as it begins to decline for good.  Weight gain is one of the side effects of a loss of estrogen and aging in general (men tend to gain weight, too!). Most women accumulate belly fat during the menopause transition, and after menopause occurs, and it’s often a source of consternation. 

Weight control, including IF, is a topic covered in great depth in The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Managing Hormones, Health, and Happiness, that I have co-authored with Hillary Wright, M.Ed, RDN. Depending on the type, intermittent fasting may be a good strategy for healthy eating for women after age 40 and age 50. We favor TRE for women because we think it’s the best way to meet their needs and maintain a busy schedule that may also include eating dinner with family every night, juggling household duties, and holding down demanding jobs. 

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.

Pizza with greens on top.

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

should you try intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health?

Simple and Affordable Holiday Gifts and Seasonal Entertainment

Thanks to ALDI for sponsoring this post! 

ALDI food market

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. 

holiday gift wrapped with string, pine branch and pine cone

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:

ALDI dog toy chew set, jumbling tower, dog clothes, present bag

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

 

ALDI ninja bread kit and mini and regular muffin tins

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!

ALDI crackers, olives, prosciutto, gluten-free crackers, jam

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. 

holiday party platter with ALDI products

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. 

chocolate from ALDI

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 Simple Meals to Make When You Don’t Want to Cook

Just because you’re stuck at home right now doesn’t mean you want to cook, or even know how! Or, maybe you prefer to prepare simple meals on most days, even though you like to spend time in the kitchen.  No worries. Here are 19 healthy, simple meals to make when you don’t want to cook, and most use pantry staples. Double, or quadruple the “recipes” as needed!

Bowl of soup with herb toast

Meals don’t need to be fancy to be delicious and good for you, too!

 

Easy No-Recipe Breakfasts When You Don’t Want to Cook

In addition to being delicious breakfast choices, these meals make good snacks. 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 unsweetened fortified soy milk, and fruit.

Make these No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies when you don't want to cook.

Five minutes is all it takes to make a batch of No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin 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, which contain no added sugar.

• 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.

Easy baked fish with canned tomatoes is perfect when you don't want to cook.

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.

Lunch and Dinner Meals to Make When You Don’t Want to Cook

These meals require a minimum of cooking, and very little 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.

Lentil and vegetable soup in a large white soup bowl.

Canned lentil soup is a great start to a simple, balanced meal.

 

• 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.

Quesadillas with sour cream and salsa

Use whatever meat, beans, 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.

 

salad with dressing, cooked chicken and pine nuts

For a simple, balanced meat, add protein-rich foods, such as cooked chicken, canned tuna or salmon, or beans.

 

• 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 simple healthy meals these days?

19 Healthy Simple Meals to Make When You Don't Want to Cook

 

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! 

The Best Thanksgiving Mushroom Sausage Stuffing

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

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 Walnut, Apple & Sage 

 

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! 


Sweet Potato Casserole with pecans

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

Make ahead kale salad.

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

roasted butternut squash 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!

cranberry relish

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.

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 onions and carrots on baking sheet.

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!

easy and delicious make-ahead holiday side dishes

Almond Flour Apple Muffins with Pumpkin

Almond Flour Apple Muffins with Pumpkin

Almond Flour Apple Muffins with Pumpkin are moist and delicious.

 

Farmers grow our food and they are the reason why we are here. Visiting any type of farm is an eye-opening experience that I highly recommend because it’s important to see firsthand all the work it takes to produce the food that feeds us. My trip to an almond orchard, courtesy of the Almond Board of California, inspired this recipe for Almond Flour Apple Muffins with Pumpkin.

 

whole roasted almonds

Almonds make a delicious, nutritious snack and you can turn them into almond flour in minutes. 

All About Almonds: Fun Facts

It was interesting to learn about how almonds are grown and to actually see how they are harvested. Here is some of what I learned 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 daily requirement for vitamin E, which protects cells against everyday damage.

 

almond flour

You can use any type of almond to make almond flour for this muffin recipe.

 

What is Almond Flour?

Almond flour is made from peeled almonds. It’s different from almond meal, which is usually made from unpeeled almonds. (Note: While almond meal is gluten-free, the recipe for Almond Flour Apple Muffins is not because it also uses whole wheat flour.)

You can interchange almond flour and almond meal in this muffin recipe, and in other quick breads, and baked goods such as cookies and pancakes.  Almond flour is lighter so you may want to use it in a cake recipe instead of almond meal.


Here’s how to make your own almond flour. For this recipe, I grind up whatever almonds I have on hand. 


Replacing Wheat Flour with Almond Flour

I use ground almonds for most of the flour in this recipe, and swap in whole wheat flour for the all-purpose kind.

Almond flour is lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat than all-purpose flour, which helps make these muffins moist and tender. In baking quick breads, such as muffins and pancakes you can replace wheat flour, such as all-purpose flour, with an equal amount of almond flour. However, baked products will be flatter when you don’t use any wheat flour and more dense because of the lack of gluten, which helps them rise.

I did not use all almond flour because I prefer a lighter muffin. I opted for some whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose because whole wheat flour adds more fiber and other vital nutrients.

Apples on the tree with blue sky.

Shredded apples, and pumpkin puree, provide moisture, flavor, and nutrients.

Good Apples for Baking

Apples supply fiber, fluid, and other nutrients. You can many different types of apples in this recipe and other baked goods, but I would avoid Macintosh because they are too watery to begin with and often get mushy when cooked.

I prefer Cortland or Granny Smith for baking because they hold up better. But, it’s really your choice!

Healthier Almond Flour Apple Muffins with Pumpkin

Muffins from the supermarket and coffee shops can have between 300 and 500 calories (and so can the homemade variety) and are often mostly refined grains and added sugar.

These tasty muffins are a healthier choice because they provide more nutrients, such as fiber, and less sugar and added fat.

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

Almond Flour Apple Muffins with Pumpkin

Almond flour, shredded apple, and pumpkin make these muffins moist, tender, and delicious!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
5 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Servings: 18
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 (avoid Macintosh apples, if possible)

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

Grind 1 cup of whole almonds for about 1 1/3 cups almond flour. 
Per muffin: 159 calories, 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 31 milligrams cholesterol, 168 milligrams sodium, 20 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 8 grams added sugar, 4 grams protein. 

almond flour apple muffins with pumpkin

 

Tips for Better Snacks

Chocolate bar, computer

Snacking can be good for you if you make the right choices.

 

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.


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


What is a healthy snack?

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.

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.

Bowl of popcorn.

Popcorn is a whole grain and makes a healthy snack.


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


Make protein a part of better snacks for kids and adults 

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.

Piece of whole grain bread spread with peanut butter.

Peanut butter and whole wheat bread is a nutrient-rich, filling snack idea.

Carbohydrates are part of healthy snacks for kids and adults

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. 

Raw red and yellow peppers, carrots, large leek, onion, and garlic

Fresh raw vegetables are full of fluid and help you feel fuller for longer.

 

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.  

Tips for better snacks to make at home

  • 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.

Double Berry Smoothie is made with wild blueberries and dairy milk and yogurt.

Double Berry Smoothie

 

  • 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.)

 

  • 1 serving plain one-minute oats prepared in the microwave with 8 ounces milk and topped with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

 

  • 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

 

No Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies make a delicious vegan, gluten-free and no-added sugar snack.

No Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are ready in 5 minutes, are vegan, gluten-free, and contain no added sugar!

 


Try these delicious smoothie recipes


 

Tips for better snacks to take on the road for hiking and walking

  • Trail mix: whole grain cereal, raisins, peanuts

 

  • 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

 

  • Carton of Greek yogurt and fruit

 

  • ¾ cup dry roasted edamame

    Whole almonds are a delicious, satisfying snack.

    Almonds, and other nuts, pair well with cereal and fruit for a quick snack at home or on the run.

  • 10 small whole grain pretzels and hummus

 

  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 10 baby carrots

Tips for better snacks for kids and adults

Foods That Improve Memory and Concentration

Diet affects brain function. Find out how foods rich in choline, iodine, and vitamin B12 improve memory and concentration throughout life.

How choline builds and maintains the brain

Choline is part of every cell.

Choline is an essential nutrient. That means you need choline from food or supplements to meet your needs.

Studies show that choline is key to brain development during pregnancy and early life.

Choline is linked to a lower risk for neural tube defects. The neural tube develops into a baby’s brain, spine, and spinal cord.

Choline also plays a role in the development of the hippocampus, the brain’s “memory center.” As a result, choline may help preserve and improve memory.  The hippocampus is one of the only areas in the brain that produces cells into late adulthood.

Some studies show a link between better memory in people with higher choline intakes.  And, people with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of a compound that allows the brain to use choline.

How to include enough choline

More than 90% of U.S. adults don’t consume enough choline, including pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Here’s how much choline you need every day:

Adults, ages 19-50 (not pregnant):

Female: 425 milligrams; Males: 550 milligrams

Pregnant: 450 milligrams

Breastfeeding: 550 milligrams

Choline is found in a variety of foods. However, animal foods, such as eggs, meat, and seafood, have the most choline. For example, one large egg or 3/4 cup roasted soybeans supply about 30% of your daily choline intake.

You may not get enough choline if you limit or avoid animal foods. As a result, you may need a choline supplement.

The amount of choline in foods can be found in the Nutrient Facts panel. The panel is on food and supplement labels. The Daily Value for choline is 550 milligrams.

Most multivitamins and prenatal pills do not contain much choline.  You may need an additional choline pill, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. However, limit choline intake to 3,500 milligrams daily.

 Coffee, walnuts, and berries for brain health

Iodine and brain health

The thyroid gland contains nearly all the iodine in the body. It stores iodine to make hormones for brain development and growth, and to produce energy.

How iodine builds and maintains the brain

During pregnancy, the body needs thyroid hormones to make myelin.  Myelin helps nerve and brains cells to communicate.

Iodine helps baby’s brain develop properly. Severe iodine deficiency in mom’s diet can lead to mental retardation and Attention Deficit Disorder.

How to include enough iodine in your diet

Iodine needs increase during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, women in their childbearing years may not get enough iodine.

The Nutrient Facts panel doesn’t list iodine, and that makes it hard to know how much iodine is in packaged foods.

Here’s how much iodine you need every day:

Adults, ages 19-50 (not pregnant):

Males and females: 150 micrograms/day

Pregnancy: 220 micrograms

Breastfeeding: 290 micrograms

All salt is not created equal

People who avoid iodized table salt, seafood, and dairy may be at risk for an iodine deficiency.

Dairy milk has iodine. However, many people avoid dairy foods. As a result, they may be missing out on iodine.

Seafood and sea vegetables supply iodine. Experts suggest eating at least eight ounces of seafood weekly. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat eight to 12 ounces of seafood weekly.

Salt with added iodine, called iodized salt, is a reliable iodine source. However, the same isn’t true of salty packaged foods.

Most of our salt intake comes from processed foods, but food companies almost always use plain salt.

Experts suggests pregnant and breastfeeding women take 150 micrograms of potassium iodine as a supplement daily. That advice also applies to women who may become pregnant. 

The body absorbs potassium iodide well. Taking more iodine is not better for you.

How vitamin B12 helps the brain

During pregnancy, the brain needs vitamin B12 for proper development and growth.  The brain also needs vitamin B12 throughout life. 

Vitamin B12 is part of the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells. The myelin sheath allows cells to “talk” with each other.

Vitamin B12 helps produce neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help nerve cells communicate.

Foods with vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products, including seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. It is not present naturally in plant foods. However, fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals and other grains and nutritional yeast, have vitamin B12.

It’s possible to be low in vitamin B12 if you avoid animal products. You can get enough vitamin B12 with fortified foods and dietary supplements.

Exclusively breastfed infants of women who eat no animal products may develop vitamin B12 deficiency within months of birth. Untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can result in severe nerve damage.

How much vitamin B12 you need

Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common than you think.

Up to 15% of the general population doesn’t get enough vitamin B12. Poor memory, confusion, depression, and dementia are symptoms of too little vitamin B12 in the diet.

You need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily after age 14.

During pregnancy, the daily suggested intake is 2.6 micrograms, and it’s 2.8 micrograms daily during breastfeeding.

Why you may need more vitamin B12

People with celiac disease and Crohn’s disease and those who have had weight loss surgery may absorb less vitamin B12.

Common medications affect how your body processes vitamin B12, too.

Ask you doctor about the medication you take. You may need extra vitamin B12.

Age also affects vitamin B12. The body absorbs less natural vitamin B12 after age 50. As a result, experts say people over age 50 should get most of their vitamin B12 in the synthetic form.

Synthetic vitamin B12 is added to foods such as breakfast cereal and other grains and dietary supplements. Added vitamin B12 does not require stomach acid for digestion. As a result, the body can use it easily.

In conclusion: How to have a better brain

Eating right helps the body and brain develop properly and supports it throughout life. Include foods rich in choline, iodine, and vitamin B12 in a balanced diet. If you don’t, consider taking a daily multivitamin and a choline supplement to meet your needs.

How to Make the Best Smoothie

Peach Melba Smoothie is a riff on the classic dessert.

Peach Melba Smoothie is a riff on the classic dessert.

Smoothies can be sugary, low-nutrient drinks, or healthy enough to serve as a meal or hearty snack. They can be bone-building beverages, particularly kid-friendly, or both! Smoothies supply fluid, and they can be healthier than soda and other sugary soft drinks. Smoothies run the gamut, so how do you make the best beverage?

I asked my nutritionist friends for their favorite drink recipes and they sent me these mouthwatering recipes! No two of these smoothies are the same. Explore all the links below, no matter what your goal.

Hydrating Smoothie Recipes

Every smoothie supplies fluid, but some have more than others. These picks are super refreshing, especially on hot days.

Carrot, Mandarin, and Cayenne Smoothie looks like sunshine in a glass

Carrot, Mandarin, and Cayenne Smoothie looks like sunshine in a glass!

Carrot Mandarin and Cayenne Smoothie from Patricia Bannan, MS, RD

Pineapple Ginger Smoothie from Nourishing Plate

Vegan Energy Boosting Smoothie from The Foodie Dietitian

strawberry lime watermelon smoothie

Strawberry Lime Watermelon Smoothie is a delicious alternative to sugary soft drinks.

Strawberry Lime Watermelon Smoothie from Smart Nutrition

Mexican Chocolate Banana Almond Shake from Spicy RD

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie from Your Choice Nutrition

Orange Strawberry Layered Smoothie from Amy Gorin Nutrition

Vegan Energy Boosting Smoothie from The Foodie Dietitian

Frozen Mochaccino from Amy Gorin Nutrition

Peanut Butter Breakfast Shake from Real Mom Nutrition

Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie from Triad to Wellness

Here’s how to make a post-workout smoothie.

Kid-Friendly Smoothie Recipes

Kids crave smoothies, and they love to make up their own flavor combinations. Start with these recipes, and let children and teens create their own sippers.

Strawberry Beet Smoothie

Strawberry Beet Smoothie is pretty in pink!

Strawberry Beet Smoothie from The Crowded Table

Purple Power Smoothie from Eat Real Live Well

Basic Green Smoothie from Curing Vision

Orange Strawberry Layered Smoothie from Amy Gorin Nutrition

Mama’s Berry Smoothie from Toby Amidor Nutrition

Mexican Chocolate Banana Almond Breakfast Shake from Spicy RD

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie from Your Choice Nutrition

Grape Juice Avocado Energizing Smoothie from Amy Gorin Nutrition

Easy Summer Smoothie for the Busy Mama from Crystal Karges Nutrition

PB-Breakfast-Shake-Text

Entice your kids with this peanut butter breakfast shake. Adults love it, too!

Peanut Butter Breakfast Shake from Real Mom Nutrition

Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie from Triad to Wellness

Pear and Pomegranate Green Smoothie from Patricia Bannan, MS, RD

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie from Triad to Wellness

Smoothies for Snacks

Think of snacks as nutritious mini-meals, not meal wreckers. These recipes supply fruit, vegetables, and protein, so you won’t have to worry if you, or your child, eats less at the next meal.

Arugula apple smoothie

Arugula meets apple in this smoothie and it’s spectacular!

Arugula Apple Smoothie from Snacking in Sneakers

Creamy Chocolate Cannellini Bean and Cinnamon Smoothie from Patricia Bannan, MS, RD

Wild Blueberry Beet Smoothie from Kroll’s Korner

Mama’s Berry Smoothie from Toby Amidor Nutrition

Chocolate Chunk Blueberry Smoothie from Patricia Bannan, MS, RD

Bone-Building Beverages

Smoothies are perfect for including the nutrients to make and maintain a strong skeleton, such as protein, calcium, and vitamin D.

frozen mochaccino smoothie

Frozen Mochaccino has no added sugar, unlike most coffee-shop drinks that may contain more than a day’s allowance.

Frozen Mochaccino from Amy Gorin Nutrition

Chocolate Chunk Blueberry Smoothie from Patricia Bannan, MS, RD

Mama’s Berry Smoothie from Toby Amidor Nutrition

Wild Blueberry Pancake Smoothie from Snacking in Sneakers

Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie from Triad to Wellness

St. Patrick’s Day Green Smoothie from Foods with Judes

Creamy Chocolate Cannellini Bean and Cinnamon Smoothie from Patricia Bannan, MS, RD

how to make the best smoothies

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (no added sugar, gluten-free, vegan)

No-bake no added sugar gluten-free vegan oatmeal raisin cookies on cutting board.

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (No added sugar)

There’s nothing wrong with cookies as part of a balanced eating plan, but you should get more than calories, added sugar, and unhealthy fats when you eat them.  With 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, which have no added sugar, are vegan, and happen to be gluten-free, are a better way to satisfy your sweet tooth! 

Why You Should Make No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

My idea of a delicious cookie recipe is combination of oats, peanut butter, raisins, and pure vanilla extract.  Raisins make these cookies naturally sweet, and they need no added sugar. In addition, these cookies vegan and gluten-free when you use gluten-free oats.  


No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are also 100% whole grain and help to satisfy the suggestion from nutrition experts to eat at least three servings of whole grains daily.  


I love the ease of making these cookies. They are ready to eat in about 5 minutes, and one batch is often enough to last the week.  That’s important for busy people who can’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing healthy foods, but want to improve their eating habits. 

 

uncooked oatmeal oats

Oatmeal is a whole grain that adds fiber and other nutrients.

creamy peanut butter on a spoon

Peanut butter is packed with healthy fat and helps hold these no-bake cookies together.

plain raisins on a white background

Raisins are sweet, but they contain no added sugar!

Healthy Breakfast Cookies for Kids 

We usually think of cookies as snacks or dessert, but they work for the morning meal, too! You eat breakfast for dinner, so why not cookies for breakfast?


Cookies for breakfast are a big hit with kids, and they will love having them as snacks or desserts, too!


If you don’t like cereal, eggs, or other traditional “morning foods” for breakfast, or you don’t have time to eat before leaving the house, these cookies are for you. One No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookie paired with milk, fortified unsweetened soy beverage, or a carton of yogurt and a piece of fruit makes a balanced morning meal.

5 no-bake oatmeal raisin cookies on parchment paper

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are OK to eat any time of day!

 

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (no added sugar, gluten-free, vegan)

These cookies are ready in minutes, require no cooking, and are delicious for breakfast or snacks!
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cookies, glutenfree, no added sugar, peanutbutter, raisins
Servings: 10
Calories: 292kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups California raisins
  • 1 cup peanut butter, no sugar added
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups uncooked oats, toasted*

Instructions

  • 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.

How to Toast Oats

  • 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. You can save time by skipping this step.

Notes

Per serving (1 cookie): 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.

 

No-bake oatmeal raisin cookies pinterest graphic

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