Main Nutritious Intent Website

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why Wait Until January? Move Now!

I'm not a fan of sweating in spandex in public.  Thus, my exercise routine generally involves things such as cycling, walking, yoga and otherwise sweating in the privacy of my own home (more often than not in my pjs).  That being said, it's no surprise that "getting or using a gym membership" will not be on my list of New Year's Resolutions.  However, staying fit certainly is.  A couple times a week I try to make sure that I incorporate some circuit workout and strength training into my routine.  I like choosing my own play list and the freedom of working it into anytime during my day.  So if making some fitness changes is on your list of New Year's Resolutions, why not get a jump on things now and enjoy a healthier holiday season?  Be sure that you are medically cleared for exercise and if you have joint or orthopedic problems, you may want to tweak it a bit to fit your ability.  Here's my bi-(or tri) weekly circuit workout:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Eating: Build a Better Buffet

Eat the best, leave the rest is good rule of thumb to help you navigate the holiday eating scene.  When it comes to food-events, it pays to be picky.  If you don't love it, don't eat it.  There is no room for mediocre this time of year when we are so bombarded with treats, goodies and celebratory eating.

So to avoid both of these buffet blunders, here are some healthier buffet items that you can swap for traditional go-to party-fare (fun, festive food displayed):

1. Instead of creamy crab or artichoke dips and flaky crackers that carry about 150- 200 calories per serving, try: Cranberry pesto crostini.  I love this appetizer!  It is fairly simple - but adds a lot of flavor and wow-factor to your party.  At 100 calories and only 150 mg sodium per baguette slice, it makes it a not only a simple, festive and delicious appetizer, but adding cranberries makes it healthful one as well.  

Here’s why:
Cranberry products - such as cranberry juice, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and fresh cranberries, contain something called flavonoids. A specific type of these that are unique to cranberries actually prevents bacteria from sticking to cell walls – for example, they prevent E. coli from sticking to the walls of the bladder which is how they help prevent urinary tract infections.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg! The international journal Advances in Nutrition did a review of the research and they found that the (bioactive) compounds in cranberries not only help reduce the incidence of certain infections and maintain a healthy urinary tract, but they also improve heart health by improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and improving inflammation.
 So cranberries are a festive way to keep your holiday healthy.  Back to the buffet . . .

2. Instead of fried eggrolls, southwest or otherwise that usually contain at least 200 calories, try:
Mushu Lettuce wraps  At 100 calories per serving - these beat the pants off of any fried egg roll which are usually twice the calories.  Consider letting your guests help with the assembly - as it makes it more fun and efficient.  Or try lettuce wraps instead – one mushu chicken lettuce wrap is only 65 calories.

3. Instead of pigs in a blanket (1 wrapped pig = 70 calories and 5 grams of fat,) try: Bacon-wrapped asparagus (1 spear = 25 calories)

4. Instead of the ubiquitous candy dish, (3 tablespoons = at least 150 calories and no fiber) try:   
Chipotle nut and fruit mix  Such a tasty flavor combination - enjoying healthy nuts and seeds never tasted so good. 3 Tbsp = 115 calories, and 3 grams of fiber. 

5. Instead of egg nog (around 300 calories and 16 grams of fat in 1 cup), try: Cranberry lime sparkler - 1/2 cup cranberry juice, ½ cup sparkling water and a splash of fresh lime juice (60 calories in 1 cup, plus the health benefit of cranberries).

Total savings with these substitutions: 501 calories

Healthful version: (1 serving of each 419 calories, 7 grams fiber).

Original version: (1 serving each: 920 calories, 3 grams fiber)

We talked about eating the best, don’t forget to leave the rest – get off the couch, move around and stay physically active and the holidays will stay healthful as well.


Chipotle nut and fruit mix  Makes about 4 ½ cups (serving 3 Tbsp)

   1/4 cup sugar
   1 teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
   1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
   1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
   1/2 teaspoon chili powder
   1 large egg white
   1 cup slivered almonds
   1 cup unsalted cashews
   1 cup unsalted pumpkinseed kernels
   1 cup dried, reduced sugar cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
3. Place egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Add the almonds, cashews, and pumpkinseeds; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with spice mixture; toss well to coat. Spread nuts in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325° for 15 minutes, stirring once. Turn oven off. Remove pan from oven; stir snack mix. Immediately return pan to oven for an additional 15 minutes (leave oven off). Remove pan from oven, stir in dried cranberries and place on a wire rack; cool completely. Store snack mix in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving
Calories: 115 Fat: 9.7g Saturated fat: 1.4g Monounsaturated fat: 5.8g Polyunsaturated fat: 2g Protein: 4.5g Carbohydrate: 7.3g Fiber: 3g Cholesterol: 0.0mg Iron: 1.1mg Sodium: 175mg Calcium: 23mg

Cranberry Pesto Crostini Makes 24 Crostini

   1 cup fresh cranberries
   1 cup prepared or homemade pesto
   Goat Cheese, spreadable, or cream cheese
   Baguette Rounds, toasted 24 each or crackers
   Capers for garnish, if desired
   Pulse pesto and cranberries in food processor.
   Spread 1 teaspoon goat cheese or cream cheese over cracker/baguette and top with 1 tablespoon of the Cranberry pesto mixture.
   Garnish with capers if desired.
   Makes 24 appetizers.

Nutrition Facts

Nutritional Analysis per Serving (1 crostini): Calories 100, 4g Protein, 13g Carbohydrate, 1g Fiber, 5g Fat, 1.5g Sat. Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 5mg Cholesterol, 150mg Sodium

Cranberry Lime Sparkler serves 8 (1 cup serving size)
  • 32 oz 100% Cranberry juice
  • 32 oz sparkling water
  • 2 small limes
Directions: Mix juice, sparkling water and the juice of both limes.  Can garnish with lime slices.
Nutrition Facts: Calories 60, 15 g sugar, 50% vitamin C

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thankgiving Eating Strategy: as with football, so with life.

Undoubtedly, the teams that will win their football games this Thanksgiving have a strategy well planned out.  Do you have a personal eating-strategy mapped out?  I know that the adage, "we don't plan to fail, we fail to plan" seems a bit stale, but it is very apt when it comes to taking charge of your nutrition and your health.  So here's my 6-step strategy for enjoying Thanksgiving without over-doing it - a true win-win!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving - the healthiest meal of the year?

You might find it odd that as a registered dietitian I would even propose that Thanksgiving is the healthiest meal of the year.  But in a society full of styrofoam, shrink-wrapped, processed, drive-thru food, Thanksgiving may actually be the most "real" meal you eat all year.  Here's why:

1. The menu is driven by culture and tradition, not marketing.
2. Veggies and Fruits play a large role in the menu.
3. It is typically prepared at home.
4. It is generally enjoyed with family and loved ones.  

Stay tuned for personal strategies to make the most out of your Thanksgiving meal - both enjoyment and nutrition-wise.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5 Pantry Picks

 We hear the phrase, fresh is best a lot, but the things in your pantry, not your fridge, may hold the key to improving  your health.  Here are my pantry picks for 5 categories that should be in everyone's pantry:

1. Pantry Produce: My pick is canned foods.  Truly – this is much more exciting than you may think.  Anytime you can add in some canned fruits and veggies, you are adding convenient nutrition to your meals.  New research shows that kids who eat canned fruits and veggies tend to eat more overall servings of vegetables and fruits and have healthier diets overall.  That is great news!  When you incorporate all sources – fresh, frozen and canned, you end up eating more servings overall.  

Family Fiesta Tacos made with canned tomatoes, corn, and kidney beans make this meal a nutritional rockstar when it comes to fiber, protein and vitamins and minerals. is a great source for kid-friendly recipes that feature canned foods. 

2. Seasonings: My pick for favorite herb this time of year is rosemary.  It’s fragrant and pairs so well with root vegetables and cool-weather comfort foods like soups and stews. Also, did you know that in medieval times, rosemary was thought to only grow in the gardens of the righteous?  (Note to self - plant rosemary next year 😉)

My pick for favorite spice: Smoked paprika.  I love smoky flavor, but in cold weather, I’m not as likely to get out and use the smoker or the grill.  So smoked paprika is a tasty way to get that smoky flavor without setting off the smoke alarm. Plus, it is high in vitamin A and C.  In fact, paprika contains more vitamin c by weight than lemon juice. 

3. Condiments: Balsamic vinegar is my pick.  I love the rich flavor and it substitutes so well for higher calorie dressings that it not only brings some antioxidants to the table but is helpful in weight management. 

So dress that salad with a little balsamic and try topping that ice cream or fruit with some balsamic reduction (syrup).  Yum!

4. Whole Grains: bulk multigrain hot cereal mixes.  A hearty, warm way to start your day or a great after school snack, these hot cereals add much needed fiber to your diet without any added sugars.  All that fiber and protein from those whole grains will get you a lot further through the morning before hunger strikes for lunch.

5. Snacks: Lightly salted nuts and dark chocolate.  When you are craving something salty and crunchy, lightly salted nuts make a protein and fiber-rich alternative to chips or crackers.  And for that sweet-tooth, a small bit of dark chocolate – 60% cacao hits the spot and at 60-80 calories, it doesn’t derail anyone’s nutritional goals. 
Plus, the chemicals in chocolate not only reduce blood pressure and stress but PEA is the same chemical our brain produces when we fall in love.  As Cindy Heroux RD puts it, chocolate is a "stress manager that melts in your mouth".  

So don't just raid that pantry, take a step back and see how your pantry can aid you with your health goals.  

For more information on my pantry makeover service, see my website:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy (and Healthy) Halloween

As a mother during Halloween season, I conjure up images of face paint and makeup smeared on the bathroom counter, empty candy wrappers left hither and yon (while the dog ferrets out the kids' candy stashes in their bedrooms), and "garbage gut" or whatever you call the resulting symptoms of over-indulging in candy and sugar.
Not such a happy image is it?
Instead, try a few of these tips to keep yourself and your goblins garbage-gut-free (I make no promises about your bathroom counter).

  • Involve your kids in planning your Halloween dinner.  This will help them get excited about the fun or favorite food they'll be having that night.  
  • Make dinner first and candy second a family rule.  If you have a hard time selling this one - remind them of past Halloweens and the pains of garbage gut, and assure them that candy or treats will happen - just in the right order.  
  • Be wise in choosing the treats you'll give out.  Don't end up with a houseful of candy because you over bought (we know where those leftovers go - yes I know you're glancing down at your hips).  Instead, try healthier or non-food items:
      • Honey sticks (that is our treat for trick or treaters this year - yes it has something to do with our excitement over becoming beekeepers as well).  One honey stick contains about 15 calories - that's only slightly less than 4 grams of sugar.  Fun sweet fix without a sugar overload.
      • Cracker packs or other 100 calorie packs.  This nice thing with these is that the leftovers make great lunch-sack-fodder and are obviously lower in sugar than candy bars - just look for whole grain options.
      • Bubble bottles.  No one is ever to old too blow bubbles.  Period. 
      • Glow sticks.  Again - encourages healthy, safe play instead of sugar-coma. 
So regardless of your specific Halloween traditions, with a little advance planning that involves your kiddos, and some sticking to your guns about getting healthful food into those goblins of yours, you can enjoy instead of endure another Halloween - making it both happy and healthy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beating Lunchbox Boredom

Approximately 45% of school lunch gets thrown away, and that isn’t limited to cafeteria fare either.  If you’ve spent any time at all in a school cafeteria,  you know just how frustrating it is to see so many good, untouched, and often still wrapped up foods get tossed automatically in the trash.  When my sister was working in an elementary school cafeteria, she noticed one child that had his daily routine: open his lunch sack, take out his sandwich, walk over throw it away, then go back and eat the rest of his lunch.  This had become a habit and he’d chuck his sandwich everyday without fail.  It takes more than packing a healthy lunch, we need to keep our kids interested & involved in their school lunch.

  1. Have kids help plan out and pack their lunch.  Gives them a sense of control, responsibility and ownership.
  2. Incorporate some healthful, sweet treats in the lunch sack. California Raisins are one of my favorite foods to fit this bill because first of all – I love the refreshingly short ingredient list: raisins.  Secondly, they are so convenient – they are portable and you don’t have to worry about anything spoiling.  Third, not only are they naturally sweet, but they no added sugar, of course no fat, and provide fiber, potassium and iron.
  3. Mix up the make-up of the lunch box:

  • Trail mix – great way to get your kids involved by creating their own recipes.  Provide some whole grain cereals, pretzels, nuts, seeds, and raisins.  Put that in bag or container, then add a a cheese stick and an piece of fruit. 

  • Hands-on lunches -   
    • Buildable lunch - whole grain crackers, cheese slices (cut into cute shapes if your kiddo wants to help) some slices of Canadian bacon or turkey, and some fruit packed with a frozen water or juice bottle.

    • Ants on a log – celery sticks, nut or seed butter, raisins and toss in a bag of popcorn and some milk.

    •  Yogurt Parfait – favorite yogurt, some granola (recipe for this tasty raisin granola on my website) some berries or mandarin oranges  packed with a nice clear cup so they can layer it themselves.  Add some veggies and you’ve got a great lunch.
** Add some love: a note written on a napkin or for older “too-cool” kids, work out some small symbol to mark on their lunch that is your code for I love you helps remind kids that mealtime is about family.

A little more variety, possibly a cookie cutter, and giving kids more control will help keep their food and your food dollars out of the trash can.

Here are some fun, kid-friendly recipes.  For more check out:

Honey Nut Raisin Snack Mix
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Cool time: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups brown crispy rice cereal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup rolled gluten-free oats
2 cups California raisins
1/2 cup California golden raisins

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add honey, almond butter and cinnamon and bring to a full boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in cereal, almonds and oats. Spread 1-inch thick on a baking sheet then separate into 1-inch clusters. Let cool completely then stir in raisins. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 6 cups.

Recipe tip: For crunchy clusters, spread cooked mixture 1-inch thick on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned.  Stir to form clusters and let cool completely. Stir in raisins.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Raisin Snack Mix
Prep time: 5 minutes

1 1/2 cups peanut butter-filled pretzel sandwiches or nuggets
1 cup California raisins
1/2 cup California golden raisins
1/2 cup roasted, salted or cocoa peanuts

Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

Recipe tip: Stir in 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt covered raisins, if desired.

Cocoa Peanut Raisin Snack Mix
Prep time: 5 minutes

2 cups California raisins
1 cup miniature chocolate graham crackers
1 cup cocoa coated peanuts

Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Makes 4 cups.

Crunchy Cinnamon Mix
Prep time: 5 minutes

1 cup California raisins
1 cup cinnamon chex cereal
1 cup cinnamon sugar pretzel pieces
1/2 cup California golden raisins

Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

Vanilla Nut
Prep time: 5 minutes

2 cups California raisins
1 cup cocoa & vanilla gluten free bunny cookies
3/4 cup honey roasted almonds

Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Makes about 4 cups.

Recipe tip: Stir in 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt covered raisins, if desired.