Think outside the jelly bean and give a personalized Easter basket

Did you know that Easter is the second biggest candy holiday in the United States?

According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), over 120 million pounds of Easter candy is purchased each year. This includes 16 billion jelly beans, 90 million chocolate bunnies, and an untold number of marshmallow peeps.

That’s a lot of sugar!


Moreover, according to research from the NCA, 87% of parents will make Easter baskets for their children this year. It’s also interesting to note that 81% of these parents will then steal candy from their children’s baskets.

So, what are parents usually putting in Easter baskets?

  • 89% say Easter candy and chocolate
  • 79% include non-edible items like crayons, stuffed animals, books, and movie passes
  • 46% add candy with “added benefits” like dark chocolate or chocolate with added fruits and nuts
  • 44% fill the baskets with what they call “heathier snacks” such as granola bars or dried fruit
  • 35% include gums and mints

How do you fill the baskets?

That stash of Easter candy can easily put everyone in the family over their recommended sugar intakes for the day. Remember, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans assert that people should “Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.”

Perhaps it’s time to think outside the jelly bean.

A full 11% of the families surveyed by the NCA didn’t add any candy to their baskets, so I’m not being unrealistic when I say it can be done. Although candy is part of Easter traditions, consider at least limiting the amount and types of candy you put in the basket. I do like the idea of chocolate with “added benefits” like nuts. Other healthful food ideas include some 100-calorie snack packs, nuts, dried fruits, little boxes of raisins, and trail mix.

There are lots of suggestions online for non-edible items like marking pens, money, stickers, and toys. Here are some great ideas for non-candy items that could also promote physical activity and healthful eating. Think about replacing at least some of those jelly beans or marshmallow peeps with:

  • Noodles for the pool
  • Jump ropes
  • Balls
  • Bubble supplies with big wands
  • Colorful athletic shoes
  • Activity passes for fun things to do in the area
  • Family board games
  • Pool towels and swim goggles
  • Athletic clothes
  • Frisbees
  • A healthful cookbook
  • Cooking equipment for foodie kids
  • A new reusable water bottle

Anything that gets the kids and your family outside and moving or interacting together makes a great stuffer for an Easter basket, and they’ll last longer than candy too!

So, what will you be putting in your baskets this year? Get in touch. I’d love to hear your creative ideas.



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What makes a healthy breakfast?

You probably heard somewhere along the way that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you shouldn’t skip it. As it turns out, breakfast eaters do tend to be healthier and leaner than breakfast skippers, but the reason for this is not clear. It may be because breakfast eaters have other healthy lifestyle habits like eating better in general; and people who skip breakfast tend to smoke more, drink more alcohol, and exercise less. Also, skipping breakfast might lead to a bigger than normal boost in “hunger hormones” such as ghrelin, encouraging overeating at the next meal. For this reason, eating breakfast can be a helpful strategy to achieve appetite control.

I encourage my clients (and you) to have breakfast every day. After eight to 12 hours without nourishment, your body needs to “break the fast”. If you don’t feel like eating as soon as you wake up, it’s okay to wait awhile. If you don’t have a big appetite in the morning, go for something light; just make sure it’s nutritious. Avoid refined carbs, sugar, and fat in foods like pastries, donuts, and bagels smothered with cream cheese and opt for lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats; see examples below.

I love breakfast and eat it every day mostly because I’m hungry in the morning, but not only that. When I skip it, I’m less focused, my energy level is down, and I tend to feel hungry all day long. So for me, breakfast is a no-brainer. Missing my morning meal would be a missed opportunity for me to have a great day.

Here are few good breakfast recipes that I personally eat and love. I hope you’ll give them a try.

  • Overnight Oats. Check out this quick video and learn how to make overnight oats.
  • Avocado Toast. It’s amazing how delicious a few simple ingredients can taste. Click here for the recipe.
avocado toast
  • Ezekiel Bread with Almond Butter and Raspberries. This is one of my favorite combinations. Any whole wheat bread, nut butter, and fruit make a nutritious breakfast.
  • Microwave Egg Burrito. If you like eggs and are looking for a grab-and-go option, this is it. Click here for the recipe.
  • Easy Cheesy Muffin Frittatta. This egg recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to a month.

Do you need more breakfast ideas? How about lunch, dinner, and snacks? If you struggle with getting nutritious meals on the table for yourself and your family, I can help! Click here to learn more about my weekly meal plans featuring 3 healthy delicious meals everyday day plus quick and easy snacks.

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Comfort Food Make-Over – grilled cheese and tomato soup recipe

What comes to mind when you think of your favorite comfort food? For me, it’s a piping hot bowl of creamy tomato soup and a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. The perfect combo! Like most people, I enjoy indulging in delicious-tasting foods that make me feel good. As a nutritionist, I want my food to be nourishing as well. When I eat something that is both delicious and nutritious, it’s a win-win.

Check out my tips on how to makeover two of the best comfort food recipes.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Make-Over

  • Choose 100% whole grain bread for the extra fiber, protein, and minerals. There’s an added bonus according to new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; swapping refined grains (like white bread) for 100% whole grains encourages the body to absorb fewer calories, and boosts metabolism.
  • The sharper and more flavorful the cheese, the less you’ll need to use to make an impact, and that’s a good thing since cheese can be salty and fatty. Aged Cheddar, Gruyere, Fontina, and Brie are all tasty options with a distinct flavor. Kerrygold Skellig is my favorite cheddar and it makes the best grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Layer your sandwich with different veggies and fruit for an extra punch of flavor and nutrients: arugula, red onion, tomato, or apple slices.
comfort food

Tomato Soup Make-Over

  • If you are not up for making your own soup, go ahead and use canned soup but look for a no salt added brand like this one.
  • Dress up your no salt added canned soup with anything you have on hand or leftover in your fridge. For example, add some cooked barley, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta; cubed chicken breast; a handful of baby spinach or any cooked vegetables. Warm it up and top with a crumble of feta.
  • Go for it and make your own soup like I did the last time I needed a little comfort. This is one of my favorite tomato soup recipes because it’s packed with nutrients and flavor from a variety of veggies (not just tomatoes) including roasted red peppers, sweet onions, garlic, and cauliflower. The cauliflower (along with cashews) makes the texture of this soup thick and creamy.

I hope you’ll give it a try and if you do, let me know what you think.


Spring is finally here and it’s the perfect time to give your diet a makeover and get your metabolism humming. Check put my 21-Day Cleanse Your Diet Meal Plan and receive recipes for three meals per day plus snacks – all with easy-to-follow directions for people of all cooking levels. TRY IT OUT FOR FREE TODAY!

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St. Patrick’s Day Green Smoothie Recipe

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy a delicious green smoothie (a.k.a. Shamrock Shake) today.

green smoothie

This one is packed with immune-boosting ingredients like spinach, pear, and ginger; and no added sugar.

Click here for the recipe and treat yourself!


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So what’s a Buddha Bowl anyway? Answer + buddha bowl recipe

What’s a Buddha Bowl? That’s the question I got from an Instagram follower last week when I posted a picture of my Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl. Anyone else wondering what it is? I know I did when I first heard the name.

According to the urban dictionary, it’s “a bowl which is packed so full that it has a rounded ‘belly’ appearance on the top much like the belly of a buddha.” I must say, that’s a great description. These bowls are filled to the brim with lots of different kinds of veggies (roasted or raw), beans, and usually a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice. They are often meatless but can contain fish or chicken.

My first attempt at a Buddha bowl was a great success. Everyone loved it, especially me! I chose it because of all the nutritious ingredients but for me to brag about a recipe it must dazzle the taste buds – and that it did. I’ll be making this one again and again.

buddha bowl

If you haven’t made one of these before, this would be a great Buddha Bowl recipe to start with since it so quick and easy. I hope you’ll give it a try and if you do, let me know what you think.


Almost every day, I get requests from my clients for healthy meal plans. They’re so confused by all the conflicting information they hear from the media and friends. They just want me to tell them what to eat. Sound familiar? Then, here’s what you’ve been wanting. Learn about my healthy meal plans featuring wholesome, delicious recipes for 3 meals a day plus snacks.

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Healthy quinoa recipe that tastes amazing

I remember the first time I cooked quinoa; I felt like I was preparing some very exotic dish from a foreign land. This was quite a few years ago when I volunteered to test a new recipe for my friends over at Meal Makeover Moms for their upcoming cookbook. The recipe contained toasted almonds, apricots, and spices that sounded delicious to me. The thing is — it had to also be “kid-friendly”. So, I enlisted my somewhat big kids to help prepare and taste the recipe. They loved it and so did I!


Since then I’ve prepared many different quinoa recipes – stuff peppers, pilaf side dishes, salads, and more. It’s become a staple food in my house. This is the very first dish I made with my kids years ago – Crunchy Quinoa with Apricots and Almonds.


While quinoa is usually considered to be a gluten-free grain (similar to brown rice and barley), it’s actually a seed. However it can be prepared just like rice, barley, and other grains. It has the highest protein content of all grains (4 grams per half cup cooked) and provides all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein.

For the weight-conscious individual, it’s a perfect choice. Not only is it an excellent source of protein, quinoa is high in fiber and has a low glycemic index to keep you feeling full for hours. Plus you’ll get a good dose of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, and potassium to keep your metabolism humming.

Here’s the recipe for my favorite Crunchy Quinoa with Apricots and Almonds. Give it a try. I think you’ll be adding it to your list of healthy dinner recipes.


Almost every day, I get requests from my clients for healthy meal plans. They’re so confused by all the conflicting information they hear from the media and friends. They just want me to tell them what to eat. Sound familiar? Then, here’s what you’ve been wanting. Learn about my healthy meal plans featuring wholesome, delicious recipes for 3 meals a day plus snacks.

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Love yourself first this Valentine’s Day. 3 simple ways…

Whether or not there’s a special someone in your life to present you with flowers or chocolates, you can celebrate the day by honoring yourself with some TLC. Just in case you forgot, that means Tender Loving Care. Think about it. When was the last time you did something genuinely loving for yourself? I’m not talking about getting those “fancy” dish towels you saw at the grocery store.

For women – especially mothers – it’s so easy to get caught up in providing care for those around us and forget to take care of the most important person – ourselves.

Making your health and wellbeing a priority is not about being selfish. It’s about taking good care of yourself so that you are able to help others and gracefully manage whatever the day brings. It’s about loving yourself first so that you can offer more love to your family, friends, and the community around you.

health and wellbeing

Here are three simple ways to love yourself today and everyday —

1. Focus on the positive.

Appreciate your talents, beauty, brilliance, and all your perfect imperfections.

2. Enjoy simple movement.

Find a fun activity that makes you feel good and energizes you.

3. Nourish your body.

Discover healthy foods that you enjoy and ditch the restrictive food rules.

Take care of YOU today.

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Recipe for Spaghetti Squash: It’s Good For Your Heart!

Here’s a bit about my family history. Perhaps you can relate.

I have a strong history of heart disease in my immediate family. My dad had high blood pressure much of his adult life and passed away from a stroke some years ago. My mom is elderly and has various health issues including heart disease. Bad DNA? Maybe, but I believe there’s more to it.

Are you worried about your heart health? Your genes need not be your destiny.

As I write this today I am older than both my parents were when their health started to fail, and so far so good. Maybe it’s just luck, but I prefer to think it has a lot to do with the healthy choices I make every day. In fact, I believe that my heart is strong and healthy in large part because of my food choices and eating habits.

FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTH MONTH. Celebrate by caring for your heart with nourishing foods.

Here’s an idea to get you started. Eat Spaghetti Squash!

If you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, you’re in for a treat. It’s not like any of the other squashes. After it’s cooked, you scrape the squash into strands of “spaghetti”. It’s so much fun!

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is rich in heart-protective B-vitamins including folate. These nutrients help strengthen blood vessel walls and boost circulation. Spaghetti squash is a good source of potassium, a mineral that assists in proper nerve and muscle function which is vital to heart health. But what’s most incredible about this nutrient-packed vegetable is that it contains powerful anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids – not as much as fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts but every little bit counts.

One of the most delicious ways to prepare (and eat!) spaghetti squash is to stuff it with other veggies like tomatoes and spinach, herbs like basil and parsley, and of course cheeses and Kalamata olives.

This is one of my favorite recipes.

I lighten it up by using lower fat cheeses (same great protein) and no salt added tomatoes. For those of you interested in weight loss, this recipe is a winner. It’s packed with plenty of vegetables making it nutrient-dense and fiber-rich to keep you feeling energetic and satisfied.

I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think.


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Super Bowl Sunday Lasagna (video + recipe)

I had a discussion with one of my clients last week about how stressful it is to cook in a cluttered disorganized kitchen. This really hit home for me since my kitchen and I have been at odds for a very long time. I live in a charming old home built in 1921 that had a not so charming kitchen when we moved in 24 years ago. We “refreshed” it, but it remained small with few cabinets and limited counter space. My recent kitchen/family room renovation opened up a whole new world for me where cooking is easy and fun. I’ve been enjoying my Sundays preparing big dinners (plenty of leftovers for the week) while watching football with my family. I no longer feel isolated and stressed in a small cluttered space – I’m so grateful.

This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday! I’m sad that the Packers didn’t make it, but I’ll be watching anyway and cooking, of course. I’m making my new favorite Veggie Lasagna. I made this recipe once before, and it we all loved it. I asked my son if he missed the meat and he said, “No, not at all and I feel real healthy right now”. I hope you’ll give it a try so you can feel “real healthy” too.

If weight loss is on your mind, this recipe is for you. It’s packed with plenty of vegetables making it nutrient-dense and fiber-rich to keep you feeling energetic and satisfied. I lightened it up by using lower fat cheeses (same great protein) and no salt added tomatoes; and bumped up the fiber with whole grain noodles like these. Take it from me, it’s a must try. Let me know what you think.

veggie lasagna

Click here for the recipe.


Do you want to improve your health and weight by cooking more meals at home? Would MEAL PLANS help? Click here to learn more about my Gathered Table meal plans. Try them out for FREE!

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Anti-inflammatory Meal Plans Made Easy


I’m so excited to announce that I have partnered with Gathered Table to bring you healthy meal plans with quick, easy, and delicious recipes. Many of you have been asking me about this for quite a while now and I finally found a service that I love. Check it out –

All the recipes are DIETITIAN-APPROVED so you can feel confident that you are preparing meals to support your health and nourish your family. The plans are interactive and fully customizable. You can easily rearrange recipes to suit your schedule, and you can substitute different recipes if something doesn’t suit your tastes or preferences. It’s easy to create a grocery list once you’ve finalized your week’s menu; and there’s an app version allowing you to access your planner, recipes, and grocery list on the go! Gathered Table meal plans will have you cooking in no time.

meal plan

Take the stress out of meal planning and eat well in 2017

For those of you who are looking for weight loss and a lower risk of chronic disease, I recommend the Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan. Every recipe is low-glycemic aimed at stabilizing blood sugar, maintaining healthy weight, normalizing hormones, promoting healthy digestion, and reducing inflammation associated with many chronic diseases including cancer.

Sound intriguing? Go ahead and try it out for FREE for 24-hours. Once you see how easy and helpful it is, you can jump on board. In the spirit of full disclosure, I want you to know that I will earn a percentage of subscriptions fees if you sign up via my Gathered Table page. However, I am serious about never endorsing any product or service that I don’t personally and professionally believe in, whether or not there is money involved. This goes without saying to those of you who know me; and for those of you who don’t know me well, I really (really!) mean it.


Jump-start your health in 2017 with these Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plans

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