Category: "Grains"

Increase fiber to decrease heart disease risk

December 23rd, 2013 | no comments

I am a big fan of fiber, and that’s a good thing because new research from the University of Leeds in the UK links greater fiber intake with lower risks of cardiovascular disease AND coronary heart disease. Researchers say that the risk lowers significantly with every additional 7 grams of fiber eaten each day.

How can YOU specifically protect your heart with more fiber? Start by meeting the recommendations— which are set at 25-35 grams per day! Sadly, most Americans don’t even come close to eating this amount (most only get about 10 grams of fiber…and that’s on a good day!)

When you break it down, 25-35 grams isn’t an unrealistic goal. Fiber is found in what I call “Earth Foods”—think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts. Are you eating some of these foods every day? If not, your fiber intake is likely well below the target.

The simplest way to pump up your fiber is by eating the following foods every day:

  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 2 cups of fruit
  • 3 ounces of whole grains (oats, whole grain crackers and bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, whole grain pasta, etc.); 1 serving = 1/2 cup cooked oats, pasta, quinoa, barley or rice; 1 slice of bread
  • 1 serving of beans and legumes (pinto, kidney, black, lentils, etc.); 1 serving = 1/2 cup cooked beans or lentils
  • 1-2 servings of nuts, seeds or nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter); 1 serving = 1/8 cup nuts or seeds; 1 tablespoon nut butter

This sounds like a lot of food doesn’t it? Not so! Take a look at how easy it is to make this happen:

16 ounces of
Breakfast Power Smoothie

Fiber: 14 grams
Counts as
: 2 cups of fruit + 2 cups of vegetables + 1 serving of nut butter (Note: Smoothie recipe makes 24 ounces- I drink 16 ounces for breakfast and 8 ounces for my mid-morning snack)

Mid-morning Snack:
8 ounces of Breakfast Power Smoothie

Szechuan Black Eyed Pea Salad (scroll to the bottom) served with 13 Blue Diamond Nut Thins Flax Seeds crackers and 1 sliced medium apple with skin

Fiber: 10 grams
Counts as: 1 serving beans + 1 ounce whole grain (Blue Diamond Flax Seeds crackers are a whole grain) + 1 cup fruit

Grilled salmon with 1 cup of steamed broccoli and Quinoa with Pistachios and Cranberries (scroll to bottom)

Fiber: 6 grams
Counts as: 1 cup of vegetables + 1 ounce whole grain (quinoa is a whole grain)

Evening snack:
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal drizzled with 1 teaspoon honey and a dash of cinnamon

Fiber: 2 grams
Counts as: 1 ounce whole grain

Daily Totals:
Fiber: 32 grams
Vegetables: 3 cups
Fruit: 3 cups
Whole grain: 3 ounces
Beans: 1 serving
Nuts/seeds: 1 serving

One word of caution—If you’re not used to eating this much fiber, it’s best to take it slow. Otherwise you’ll wind up being, well, a little socially unacceptable…if you know what I mean! A gut that hasn’t been properly introduced to fiber will “retaliate” with bloating and excess gas. Increase fiber by five gram-increments and you should be just fine. It’s also a good idea to increase the amount of water you drink to help move the fiber through your digestive tract. To find the fiber content of various foods, visit:

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A Healthier Granola

October 13th, 2013 | no comments


When you think granola, do you instantly think “healthy”? Don’t be fooled. While oats and nuts are typically the base of granola, sugar (in the form of white sugar, brown sugar, honey or agave nectar) is also found in larger than necessary quantities—some brands having as much sugar as a Hershey’s candy bar! Not so healthy. This is why I stay away from store-bought granola and make my own. Below, you will find my favorite recipe!

I’ve omitted the dried fruit and reduced the sweetener to cut back on sugar and honestly…this recipe is so tasty I don’t miss either one! It’s loaded with healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats, low in sodium and sugar, and rich in fiber and protein. Did I mention tasty?

Note that because it contains nuts, it’s also generous on the calories. Keep your portions small (1/4 – 1/2 cup) and you won’t have to worry!

Some of my favorite ways to use granola:

  • Eat plain as a snack (portion ¼ cup servings into snack-size baggies)
  • Mix into yogurt
  • Sprinkle over fruit or sweet potatoes
  • Add as a topping to ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Eat as a cereal
  • Make your own fruit and yogurt parfait!


Healthy & Easy Granola
Prep Time: 10 min; Total Time: 25 min; Serves: 6


2 cups rolled oats
½ cup unsalted nuts, chopped (almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia, or cashews)
¼ cup unsalted seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup or honey
2 tbsp safflower oil
½ tsp vanilla extract or almond extract


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, tossing well to coat. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Cool before serving or storing. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. Serving size: ½ cup

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 260; Total Fat: 15 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Sodium: 0 mg;
Total Carbohydrate: 27 grams; Dietary Fiber: 5 grams; Sugars: 7 grams (Average granola has 12 grams of sugar per ½ cup serving); Protein: 7 grams

Not sweet enough? Add one extra tablespoon of honey or maple syrup! Caution—this will bump up the sugar to 10 grams per serving.


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Fact or Fiction? To lose weight, go gluten-free

June 20th, 2013 | no comments

Fiction! Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and any processed foods containing these ingredients. Going ‘gluten-free’ is the latest diet craze, however, those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance have no choice and must follow a gluten-free diet for life. If eaten, they develop an immune reaction that creates inflammation and damages the intestine.

If you don’t suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, simply eliminating gluten from your diet will not in itself help you lose weight. There are plenty of gluten-free, calorie-rich foods that can take their place (i.e. soda, butter, cream, gluten-free brownies, etc.) and actually cause you to gain weight if you overindulge.

Registered dietitian and celiac expert Shelley Case says “Studies have shown that people following a gluten-free diet, especially when relying heavily on commercially prepared gluten-free foods, can have diets low in iron, fiber, B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D.”

The bottom line: Gluten-free diets aren’t a magic weight loss bullet and can be difficult to follow for the long haul (ever read a food label and not see ‘wheat’ as an ingredient?) When choosing foods with wheat, rye or barley look for those with the first ingredient listed as ‘whole’ followed by wheat, rye or barley. Remember to chose foods in their natural form when possible (i.e. whole barley) and be sure to keep your portions in check!

Product shout-out!
Wasa crackers are one of my favorite! With only two ingredients (whole grain rye flour and salt), they are the perfect accompaniment to soup, tuna salad or a fresh garden salad!

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Fact or Fiction? Carbs make you fat

June 13th, 2013 | no comments



A big fat lie! Eating too much of any food will cause you to pack on the pounds. Protein rich foods like beef and chicken and fat-rich foods like oils and nuts can both tip the energy balance in favor of weight gain when you overeat them.

For some reason, carbohydrates are unfairly demonized. Maybe it’s because the truly health-promoting carbohydrates get lumped into the same category as the not-so-healthy ones like doughnuts, potato chips, candy and cookies. Not fair! The truth is, you can’t live without carbs. They provide key vitamins and minerals for general health and are your body and brain’s primary source of fuel. Carbohydrate-rich foods include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains (bread, cereal, rice, pasta, crackers, etc.)
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Beans and legumes (pinto, kidney, lentils, etc.)
  • Sweets (sugar, jam, jelly, honey, soda, cakes, candy, cookies, etc.)

Sweets and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and rice, are less satisfying and can trigger overeating. They are typically low in fiber—an indigestible carbohydrate that adds bulk to food, slows digestion and keeps you feeling full! Stick with healthy, fiber-rich carbs like fruits, vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, barley, whole grain bread and crackers) beans and legumes. Don’t forget to round out your meals with a serving of low-fat milk (almond and soy are my favs!) or yogurt!

Healthy eating is about balance and variety. Make a point to eat from all foods groups, keep your portions in check and you will soon achieve a healthier weight without feeling deprived.

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Whole grains that slash your risk of stroke

October 31st, 2012 | no comments

If you want to enjoy the many health benefits of whole grains—including reduced risk of stroke, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease—you’ll want to be able to identify whole grain foods and their serving sizes. You can tell if a grain is a whole grain by checking the food label. If the first ingredient is any of the following, then it’s a whole grain:

      • Amaranth*
      • Barley
      • Brown Rice*
      • Buckwheat*
      • Bulgur
      • Corn*
      • Kamut
      • Millet*
      • Oatmeal (including instant)
      • Popcorn
      • Oats*
      • Quinoa*
      • Rye
      • Sorghum*
      • Spelt
      • Teff
      • Triticale
      • Wheatberries
      • Wild Rice*
      • Stoneground whole (name of grain)
      • Whole (name of grain)
      • Whole grain (name of grain)
      • Whole wheat  

*Gluten-free grains

What counts as a serving of whole grain?

Many people are confused about what “a serving” of whole grain actually means (by the way…it’s not just whatever amount you feel like putting on your plate!) A serving is any one of the following:

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
  • 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal
  • 1 slice 100% whole grain bread
  • 1 very small (1 oz.) 100% whole grain muffin
  • 1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal

Some whole grain foods – like crackers, waffles, granola bars, etc. – may count as 100% whole grain, but it’s often hard to know what constitutes a serving. Other foods might contain significant amounts of whole grain – but also contain some refined grain. It’s only logical that you’d have to eat a larger amount of those foods to get the same amount of whole grain. In both cases:

One serving of whole grain = 16 grams (16g) of whole grain ingredients.

Many food products actually list the grams of whole grain right on the front of the package. If they don’t, visit: and search the database. The Whole Grains Food Council lists the grams of whole grain per serving for thousands of products lining your grocery store shelves.

Look for the Whole Grain Stamp

100% Stamp: all grain ingredients are whole grains. There is a minimum requirement of 16g (16 grams) – a full serving – of whole grain per labeled serving, for products using the 100% Stamp

Basic Stamp: at least 8g (8 grams) – a half serving – of whole grain, but may also contain some refined grain. Even if a product contains large amounts of whole grain (23g, 37g, 41g, etc.), it will use the Basic Stamp if it also contains extra bran, germ, or refined flour.

 How many servings should you eat?

For better health, you should aim for three servings—or 48 grams—of whole grains each day. It’s not difficult (and surprisingly tasty) to do. Eat the following tomorrow and you’re there:

Breakfast: 1 cup Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal = 20 grams of whole grain
Lunch: 1 La Tortilla Factory 100 Calorie Whole Wheat Tortilla = 20 grams of whole grain
Snack: 1 oz. Eatsmart Naturals Multigrain Tortilla Chips = 16 grams of whole grains

Total grams of whole grain = 56 grams (actually, you went above and beyond the recommended 48 grams!) Feels good to be an overachiever doesn’t it?

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Arsenic in your rice? Oh my!

September 25th, 2012 | no comments

Concern over arsenic levels in rice and rice products created quite a stir last week. What exactly is arsenic and how can you reduce your exposure? Read on to find out!

What is arsenic?

Arsenic is a chemical element present in the environment from both natural and human sources, including erosion of arsenic-containing rocks, volcanic eruptions, contamination from mining and smelting ores, and arsenic-containing pesticides. There are two types of arsenic compounds found in water, food, soil and air: organic and inorganic. Although both are concerning, inorganic arsenic is the form that has been associated with long term health effects. Because it’s found in soil and water, arsenic can be absorbed in our fruits, vegetables and grains.

How is arsenic harmful to your health?

Long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin, bladder, and lung cancers, as well as heart disease. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic. No federal limit exists for arsenic in most foods, but the standard for drinking water is 10 parts per billion (ppb).

Why pick on rice?

While most crops don’t readily take up much arsenic from the ground, rice is different because it takes up arsenic from soil and water more readily than other grains. In addition, some seafood has high levels of less toxic organic arsenic.

How to cut your arsenic risk:

  • Test your water. If your home is not on a public water system, have your water tested for arsenic and lead. To find a certified lab, contact your local health department or call the federal Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.
  • Change the way you cook rice. You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking, using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining the excess water afterward.
  • Eat a varied diet. Some vegetables can accumulate arsenic when grown in contaminated soil. To help, clean vegetables thoroughly, especially potato skins. Some fruit juices such as apple and grape juice are high in arsenic. 
  • Experiment with other grains. Vary your grains, especially if you eat more than two or three servings of rice per week. Though not arsenic-free, wheat and oats tend to have lower levels than rice. And quinoa, millet, and amaranth are among other options for those on a gluten-free diet, though they have not been studied as much.

Consumer Reports: (Arsenic in your food)
United States Food and Drug Administration: (Arsenic)

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3 Protein-packed breakfast cereals

April 2nd, 2012 | no comments

Don’t count on a dinner consisting of a bowl of noodles or rice (whole grain or not) to keep you satisfied for long. Because it’s primarily carbohydrate-based, your body will digest it lickety split and you will be searching for something else to eat within an hour! What’s it missing? Protein!

Protein is essential for contributing to the F-factor— otherwise known as the “fullness factor”. What’s the point of eating if you don’t feel satisfied afterwards? Nothing is worse than walking away from a meal feeling empty and unfulfilled. It’s downright frustrating isn’t it? Rewind to the breakfast you ate this morning. Did it contain protein? If you ate a standard run of the mill breakfast cereal like Corn Flakes, Cheerios or Rice Chex, the answer is very little!  Here are five breakfast cereals that are sure to leave you satisfied, each with 9 grams of protein per serving or more!

Kashi GoLean Cereal:
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 140
Saturated fat: 0 gram
Sodium: 85 mg
Dietary fiber: 10 grams
Protein: 13 grams
You may also want to try: Kashi GoLean Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble or Kashi GoLean Crisp! Cinnamon Crumble

Optimum Blueberry Cinnamon Flax:
Serving size: 3/4 cup
Calories: 200
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 230 mg
Dietary fiber: 9 grams
Protein: 9 grams


Kashi GoLean Truly Vanilla Oatmeal:
Serving size: 1 packet
Calories: 150
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 100 mg
Dietary fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 9 grams
You may also want to try: Kashi GoLean Hearty Honey Cinnamon Oatmeal

Here are some other protein-sources you can add to your usual carbo-loaded breakfast to help contribute to the F-factor:

  • 1 Hard-boiled egg: 6 grams
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese: 14 grams
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter: 4 grams
  • 2 vegetarian sausage links: 9 grams
  • 1/2 scoop of protein powder (added to a smoothie): 11 grams

Bottom Line: Whatever you do, don’t skip out on breakfast all together. If you are not used to eating in the morning, start with something small and your body will adjust over time. Remember what your mother always told you—”Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” And she was 100% correct! Darn it…don’t you just hate it when she’s right?


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Should you eat it? Wheat Bread

March 28th, 2010 | no comments

No, choose whole wheat bread instead.  Yes there is a difference.  A common misconception is that wheat bread is healthier than white bread.  The truth is they are equal.  They are both made from refined grains and do not contain the entire grain kernel.  The kernel is made up of the bran, endosperm, and germ.

When you look at the nutrition label on a whole grain product, the first ingredient will read:  whole grain, whole oat, whole rye, whole wheat, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, stoneground whole grain, wheat berries or brown rice.  A true “whole grain” product contains the entire grain kernel and therefore carries the following health benefits:

  • reduced risk of stroke
  • reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • reduced risk of heart disease
  • better weight maintenance

If you aren’t sure whether a product is in fact whole grain, check the Whole Grains Council website.  It has a data base of hundreds of whole grain products:

The next time you order a sandwich from Subway and they ask  “white or wheat?”, request whole wheat and know that you are making at least one good decision for your body!

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Should you eat it? Quinoa

March 28th, 2010 | no comments

100% yes!  Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is used like a grain in recipes but really isn’t one.  It is actually the seed of the Goosefoot plant.  It has a pleasant, slightly nutty flavor with a bit of a crunch.  It’s super easy to prepare:  Rinse Quinoa, add to boiling water then simmer for 12 minutes.  I like to add a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, toasted almonds, chopped kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes.  It makes a wonderful side dish or filling for stuffed red peppers or acorn squash.  You can even even add chopped dried fruit, such as apricots or figs.

The nutrition profile of Quinoa is AMAZING!  Per 1/4 cup uncooked:

Calories:  180; Fat:  3.5 grams (no saturated fat); Total Carbohydrate:  29 grams:  Fiber:  11 grams; Protein:  7 grams; Iron:  15%; Magnesium:  15%; Zinc:  15%; Phosphorus:  25%

The best thing about Quinoa is that it’s a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs to stay healthy!

You can find Quinoa at your local Whole Foods store….or if you live in Northern Ohio, Heinen’s Fine Foods carries it too!  If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, you may want to ask the manager to special order it for you.  This one is worth adding to your pantry.

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