Category: "Snack foods"

How Chia Seeds Can Benefit Your Health

February 7th, 2014 | no comments

Do you remember those silly commercials years ago featuring the chia pet? You know, those terracotta figurines in the shape of different animals that grew sprouts similar to alfalfa sprouts? Fast forward twenty years and it turns out those sprouted seeds—called none other than chia seeds—are actually little nutrition powerhouses!

One ounce of chia seeds (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals. They are a great source of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids (an even better source of omega-3’s than flaxseeds). They have a mild, nutty flavor and can be added to beverages, mixed in hot cereal or cold cereal, stirred into yogurt or even added to vegetable or rice dishes.

How will eating chia seeds benefit you? Omega-3 fatty acids are important for a healthy brain and heart and fiber is essential for a healthy digestive track. Add to that the high antioxidant level of chia seeds, which can help protect you from certain cancers! Oh…one more thing– when added to liquid, the chia seed forms a high fiber gel that can help you feel full longer.

Pick up a bag of chia seeds at your local grocery store or whole foods store today and bring on the benefits!

Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars

Makes 8 bars
30 minutes or fewer
  • 1 ½ cups pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup raw unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup whole chia seeds, such as ReNew Life Ultimate ChiaLife
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract, optional
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract, optional
  • 1 cup raw slivered almonds or raw shelled pistachios
  • Oat flour for dusting, optional
  1. Place dates in bowl of food processor; purée until thick paste forms. Add cocoa powder, chia seeds, and vanilla and almond extracts, if using. Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Add almonds; pulse until nuts are finely chopped and well distributed through date mixture.
  2. Spread large sheet of wax paper on work surface, and dust with oat flour, if using. Transfer date mixture to wax paper, and use paper to press mixture into ½-inch-thick rectangle. Wrap tightly, and chill overnight.
  3. Unwrap block, and cut into 8 bars. Dust edges and sides with oat flour, if using, to prevent sticking. Rewrap each bar in wax paper.

(Source: Vegetarian Times)

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Power up with Pomegranate!

October 28th, 2013 | no comments

When I was little, my mom would occasionally bring home a pomegranate from the store, slice it open and put it in a bowl—always referring to it as a “Chinese apple.” I remember being intrigued by this rich magenta-colored fruit. I’d pop a few arils (pomegranate seeds) in my mouth, bite down to extract the deliciously tart juice and then spit the seeds out. Sure they were tasty, but it seemed like a lot of work just for a little juice! I would then inevitably leave the rest of the fruit on the table, where it would always end up in the trash because apparently my family felt the same way. Then I got older. Became a dietitian. Learned about the wonderful health benefits of pomegranates and most importantly discovered…YOU CAN EAT THE SEEDS! I am now an adorer of the pomegranate.

If you haven’t treated yourself to one in awhile (or if you’ve never had the opportunity to indulge) you’re in luck. They are currently in season (October through January) and can be spotted in your local grocery store today! If you’re not likely to toss one in your cart, drinking a bit of pomegranate juice can also offer health benefits. Just keep your portions small—about 4-8 ounces.

Pomegranates date back to 1500 BC:

They have been used for thousands of years to treat illness and can be found in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian mythology and writings.

Health benefits of pomegranates:

  • They are a rich source of antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C.
  • Preliminary research suggests they may slow atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and fight cancer cells.
  • May lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
  • Early research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice might slow the progress of prostate cancer.

Pomegranate recipes!

One of my favorite ways to eat pomegranates is sprinkled on a salad. Adds a yummy contrast in flavor, color and texture! Click here for some delicious pomegranate recipes ranging from smoothies to main meals to desserts!

How to seed a pomegranate:

Click here to learn a 3-step, no mess method for seeding a pomegranate. Or you can always purchase ready-to-eat pomegranate arils, but honestly they are a bit pricey and quite frankly take out all of the fun!


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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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Drop 10 pounds in 1 year with 1 simple swap

February 19th, 2013 | no comments

fatIt may not sound like much, but imagine being able to fit into those pants that you haven’t been able to zip for years. You don’t want to give them to Goodwill quite yet, because maybe, just maybe one day you’ll be able to get back into them. Sound familiar?

You’ve heard the saying ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’, well I’m here to tell you to ‘SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF’…especially when it comes to ‘downsizing’ your body. The truth is, it’s the little things that count! In fact, all it takes is one simple change in your diet to have impact. Here are 5 simple swaps you can make each day to drop 10 pounds in one year:

  • Breakfast: Swap out your 12 oz. glass of orange juice for an orange
  • Morning snack: Trade in that snack bag of potato chips or handful of M&M’s from the office candy jar for 2 cups of raw veggies (think red pepper strips, baby carrots, baby tomatoes, cucumber slices, etc.)
  • Lunch: For your daily sandwich, exchange two slices of whole wheat bread for one Thomas’ Whole Wheat Bagel Thin
  • Afternoon coffee break: For your daily Starbuck’s fix, swap out that venti Vanilla Latte for a tall Vanilla Latte.
  • Evening nightcap: Replace 2 bottles of beer or 1 mixed drink with a 5-ounce glass of red or white wine.

See how easy this is? If you’d like to invent your own ‘simple swap’, all you have to do is look for ways to save 100 calories each day. That’s it! So go ahead…sweat the small stuff for a leaner, healthier YOU!


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Clues to why you overeat

September 12th, 2012 | no comments

Even if you recognize when you’re full and consider yourself a pretty mindful, connected eater, it is extremely easy to overeat without even realizing it. Researchers have found that external cues—such as the size of your plate, larger portion sizes, and location of food in your refrigerator—influence how much you eat, which foods you eat, how fast you eat, whether you enjoy what you eat, and more. Controlling your surroundings is one of the biggest steps you can take towards controlling what and how much you eat. Here are some important strategies that, if implemented, can really help derail impulsive eating and change your behavior towards food.

  • Use smaller plates, cups and bowls. Not only will you eat less, you won’t miss the extra calories you just saved.
  • Get the serving dish off of the table. People eat more food if the serving dish is on the table. Keep the salad and vegetable dish on the table and leave everything else on the counter.
  • Keep nutritious foods front and center. You will eat the food that’s closest to you. So if the fruits and vegetables take center stage and the leftover mac-n-cheese is towards the back of the refrigerator, you are more likely to grab the produce. The same goes for your pantry.
  • Keep ‘Soul Foods’ in opaque containers and out of sight. If you must have them in the house, you will eat far less if they are not visible. How about decorating your counter with a bowl of fresh fruit instead of a cookie jar?
  • Package things in smaller containers. If you buy in bulk, you’re more likely to eat in bulk. Break down those large bags of potato chips, M&M’s and trail mix into smaller portions and repackage in small plastic bags. That way you’ll only eat the amount you put in.

Implement at least two of the environmental changes listed above in either your home or workplace this week and give your self-control a break!

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Takin’ a trip? Snack on this!

July 24th, 2012 | no comments


You don’t have to fall off the “station wagon” of healthy eating just because you’re on vacation! Make it a point to stay on track— which also means fitting in your most treasured “Soul Food.”

Here is a list of healthy foods to pack for the road that you can feel good about!


-Bottled water
-Crackers: Triscuits, Kashi or Wheat Thins
-Fruit: apples, grapes, oranges, cherries, peaches, bananas, pears
-Greek yogurt cups*
-Hard-boiled eggs*
-Kashi granola bars
-Low sodium V8 juice
-Low sodium lite tuna (3 oz. cans)
-Peanut butter/almond butter sandwiches on whole wheat
-Raw veggies: baby carrots, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, sugar snap peas, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes
-String cheese*
-Unsalted nuts and seeds: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
                                                          *Requires cooler and ice packs

Leave the cookies, candies, juice boxes and Cheetos at home, otherwise you know what will happen:

            Boredom + Time + Travel = SNACKING + SNACKING + MORE SNACKING!

Better to snack on good-for-you foods that will nourish and energize your body. Happy travels!

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5 Healthy snacks under 200 calories

June 6th, 2012 | no comments

Snacks are an important piece of the “healthy diet” puzzle. Not only do they help prevent overeating at your next meal, but they also supply important vitamins and minerals that can be difficult to get in just three meals a day.

The key to healthy snacking is to combine a portion of carbohydrate (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, milk/yogurt) with a small portion of protein (egg, nuts/nut butters, cheese, edamame, lean meat, fish.) Here are five healthy snacks to get you started:


Snack 1:

1 hard-boiled egg + 1 small orange = 160 calories
(Compare to: 6 pack of Hostess Powdered Donettes = 360 calories)
Calories saved = 200

Snack 2:

1 Quaker Chocolate Crunch rice cake + 1 tablespoon almond butter = 160 calories
(Compare to: 2 ounce snack bag of Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies = 290 calories)
Calories saved = 130

Snack 3:

8 oz Low Sodium V8 Juice + 1 string cheese = 130 calories
(Compare to: 1.75 ounce bag of Doritos = 250 calories)
Calories saved = 120

Snack 4:

2 tablespoons raisins + 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips + 1/2 ounce peanuts = 195 calories
(Compare to: Snickers Candy Bar = 280)
Calories saved = 85

Snack 5:

1 cup sliced red pepper strips + 1/4 cup edamame + 1 whole grain mini bagel = 175 calories
(Compare to: 2 Frosted Strawberry PopTarts = 400 calories)
Calories saved =  225

The bottom line: Snacks should be thought of as mini meals, not a license to pig out on your favorite potato chip or candy bar. All it takes is a little bit of planning and you can save thousands of calories (and sugar grams, saturated fat grams, milligrams of sodium) each year. By choosing more nutritious snacks, you’ll also notice a significant boost in your energy level throughout the day!

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Don’t be fooled by this “healthy” cookie

March 26th, 2012 | no comments

I’ll admit, I almost fell for the boastful “health claims” hook, line and sinker. How could you blame me when the box reads statements like:

  • “As much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal”
  • “As much calcium and vitamin D as an 8 ounce glass of milk”
  • “As much vitamin C as a cup of blueberries”
  • “As much iron as a cup of spinach”

Hell, no need to load up on whole grains and produce, this cookie has it all!

I almost bought a box…until…I looked at the list of ingredients—which, by the way, can’t be easily found on their website. Hmm I wonder why?

The first ingredient is sugar, followed by wheat flour. If you know even a little bit about food labels, you are aware of the fact that ingredients in the largest amount are listed first. Great! So essentially, these cookies are nothing more than “sugar” cookies pumped full of vitamins. Eating a serving of WhoNu cookies is just like swallowing three teaspoons of sugar! Think about it—you can inject vitamins and minerals into a hot fudge sundae, but it doesn’t make it healthy!

Wheat flour might seem like an impressive ingredient, but really it’s just plain old flour. Unless it specifically says “whole wheat flour”, you’re basically eating a slice of white bread.

I have always been a fan of Kashi products. They aren’t afraid to list their ingredients on their website because they have nothing to hide! Compared to a serving of WhoNu cookies, a serving of Kashi Happy Trail Mix cookies offers less calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar and more fiber. Not to mention the first ingredient on this label is: rolled whole grain blend—that means whole grain! Does it have vitamin C, iron or calcium? Nope! But I don’t eat cookies (and neither should you) to fulfill my vitamin C, iron and calcium needs— I eat blueberries and spinach and drink milk!

I will give WhoNu a thumbs up in their marketing genius however. It almost got me…almost!

Bottom line: Read your food labels. Don’t take the food manufacturers word for it. They have one goal in mind—to get you to buy their product!

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3 guilt-free tortilla chips

September 26th, 2011 | no comments

That’s right! The days of chips falling under the “junk food” category are over…well, almost. If you’ve been down the potato chip/pretzel aisle at your local grocery store lately, I’m sure you will agree that the options are almost as vast as the cereal aisle! And just like cereal, the nutrition content ranges from A+ to D-.

Five things you want to watch out for when selecting a potato chip or pretzel: sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, fiber and type of grain.

  • Sodium: try to aim for 100 mg of sodium of less per serving (yes…it can be done!)
  • Saturated fat: the lower the better. One gram or less per serving is reasonable.
  • Trans fat: shoot for 0 grams of trans fat and no “partially hydrogenated oils”
  • Fiber: bring it on baby! The more the merrier.
  • Grain: the first word(s) under the ingredients list should say: “corn”, “stoneground whole (name of grain)”,”whole (name of grain)”, “whole grain”, or “whole wheat”

A+ options:
(Nutrition Facts per serving)

Snyder’s of Hanover Eat Smart Naturals: Multigrain Tortilla Chips – Sea Salt with Flax, Quinoa, Sesame, & Chia Seeds

Sodium: 80 mg; Saturated fat: 0.5 grams; Trans fat: 0 grams; Fiber: 3 grams; First words under list of ingredients: “Whole yellow corn”
Garden of Eatin’: Blue Chips

Sodium: 10 mg; Saturated fat: 0.5; Trans fat: 0 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; First words under list of ingredients: “Organic blue corn”
Tostitos: Bite Size Rounds

Sodium: 110 mg; Saturated fat: 1 gram; Trans fat: 0 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; First words under list of ingredients: “Whole white corn”

D- flunkies:
(Nutrition Facts per serving)

Bugles: Nacho Cheese

Sodium: 310 grams; Saturated fat: 7 grams; Trans fat: 0 grams on the label but “partially hydrogenated soybean oil” is listed in the ingredients; Fiber: o grams; First words under list of ingredients: “Degermed yellow cornmeal”
Gardetto’s Original Recipe

Sodium: 260 mg; Saturated fat: 1.5 grams; Trans fat: 1.5 grams; Fiber: 1 gram; First words under list of ingredients: “Enriched flour bleached”
Cheetos Puffs
Sodium: 350 mg; Saturated fat: 2.0 grams; Trans fat: 0 grams on the label but “partially hydrogenated soybean oil” is listed in the ingredients; Fiber: 0 grams; First words under list of ingredients: “Enriched cornmeal”

Go ahead and trade out the usual salt-bomb you toss in your cart for one of the A+ choices above and actually feel good about eating chips! Isn’t life great?

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Should you eat it? Lay’s Lightly Salted Potato Chips

March 28th, 2010 | no comments
If you are looking for a healthier version of the traditional potato chip, this is it!  It has the crunch you are looking for along with a hint of salt.  It still has the same amount of fat (that’s what makes it taste so good!) but it comes mostly from the heart healthy poly and monounsaturated fats.  Check out the nutrition facts:
Classic Lay’s Potato Chips have twice the amount of sodium!  Once you get used to eating less sodium, your taste buds will adjust and soon you will prefer less salty foods.
One word of caution when it comes to eating potato chips:  It helps to portion one serving in a bowl, otherwise you may end up eating half of the bag!  Remember the tag line of Lay’s?  “Betcha can’t eat just one!”  If you are one of those people (like me), you can’t!  Portioning is key.

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