February 14, 20190

Whether you love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is a good day to whip up some easy chocolate treats.


Two of my favorite Valentine’s Day chocolate recipes are these Fruit & Pepita Chocolate Squares and these two-ingredient Dark Chocolate Covered Berries. Both of these are super easy to make and provide a boatload of beneficial nutrients to boot.

 Health Benefits of Chocolate and Fruit

Touted for their health benefits, berriesdark chocolate and dried fruit are rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight off those pesky and havoc-wreaking free radicals that form as we age and eat a less than stellar diet. Dietary fiber helps keep us regular and improves blood cholesterol levels. Plus, berries are rich in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system to help us fend off colds during the winter months.

And eaten in moderation, dark chocolate (the higher the cacao content, the more nutritious) is good for your body and heart. Don’t forget, however, that chocolate is not a low-calorie food, so remember to keep portion sizes in check. So, stick to a one-inch square of dark chocolate or one large chocolate-covered strawberry.







PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite Valentine’s Day chocolate treats? Please share. We’d love to hear from you.


January 31, 20190

Even though the month of National Hot Tea Month ends tomorrow, you can reap the many health benefits of this hot beverage all year.

Originally used for medicinal purposes, hot tea has been consumed for thousands of centuries. We now know that hot tea does, in fact, provide a myriad of health benefits.

Benefits of Hot Tea

Hot tea contains antioxidants called flavonoids, perhaps the most well-known and potent of which is ECGC. These flavonoids help protect our cells from free radical damage, which can cause cancer, heart disease, dementia and aging. Plus, caffeinated tea can give us a little mental boost.

  • Green tea contains the highest amount of ECGC. Green tea has been shown to help prevent cancer cell growth, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s, improve cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease.
  • Black tea tends to contain the highest levels of caffeine, and may help reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea tends to be the least processed and, therefore, often contains the highest antioxidant properties.
  • Herbal tea contains no caffeine and and the lowest antioxidant levels, but has been shown to possibly protect against colds and improve sleep.

Hot Tea and Kindness

Regardless of which type of tea is your go-to, this health benefit of hot beverages is possibly my favorite one of all. A study out of University of Colorado at Boulder found that even just holding a hot beverage may prompt us to see people in a kinder, gentler light. Researchers found that participants who held warm beverage “judged a target person as having a ‘warmer’ personality (generous, caring).” Experts suspect this response could be because warm beverages elicit similar feelings as being hugged. Or, perhaps it’s a womb thing.

I personally love hot tea. I drink several cups a day. And, I don’t know about you, but I totally get the hot-tea-as-a-hug concept. Holding–and drinking–hot tea forces me to slow down, be patient (or get burned!) and, sometimes, even smile.


January 30, 20190

January is National Fiber Month and what better way to celebrate fiber than with easy overnight oats?

So, you might wonder… why would anyone celebrate fiber? Well, I can think of lots of reasons, really.

What and where is fiber

Unlike macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat), dietary fiber is not digested and passes through–and out of–the GI tract fairly intact. Dietary fiber is primarily found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

  • Soluble fiber: This type of fiber forms a gelatinous substance when dissolved in water, and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and stabilize blood glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, peas, beans and barley.
  • Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber does not dissolve in water and helps to promote bowel movements. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat flour and wheat bran, nuts, beans and many vegetables.

Benefits of a high-fiber diet

While fiber might be most known for its ability to promote regularity (which is pretty important!), fiber also provides lots of other health benefits, as well. Here are just a few benefits:

  • Maintaining good bowel health (includes regular bowel movements)
  • Lowers blood cholesterol levels
  • Helps keep you feeling fuller longer
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight

Daily fiber recommendations

  • Women under age 50: aim for 25 grams of fiber per day
  • Women 50 and over: aim for 21 grams of fiber per day
  • Men under age 50: aim for 38 grams of fiber per day
  • Men 50 and over: aim for 30 grams of fiber per day

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, most Americans fall short of this recommended amount.

How to make overnight oats 

You can add more fiber to your diet by eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains, including oats. In fact, eating a cup of oatmeal for breakfast provides about 4 grams of fiber. Plus, oats provide about 6 grams of protein, along with minerals iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and manganese.

And perhaps one of my favorite things about oats… I don’t have to wake up earlier to enjoy. I just whip up a mason jar of overnight oats and let them soak in the fridge overnight.

Here is a simple recipe for overnight oats that you can customize with your favorite flavors and ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine in a mason jar or container; stir and seal. Refrigerate overnight, heat in microwave and top with your favorite nuts, seeds and/or berries!

PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite oatmeal add-ins? Please share. I’d love to hear from you.


January 24, 20190

January is National Soup Month, so I’m sharing one of my favorite soup recipes… Quinoa-Vegetable Soup. It’s warming, delicious and chock full of beneficial nutrients.

Vegetable-Quinoa Soup

Benefits of Soup

I am definitely a cool weather person and I’m convinced one of the reasons why is because I love soup. And while it of course depends on what’s in the soup, a warming bowl of vegetable-based goodness can provide a whole host of beneficial nutrients. In fact, studies show that people who eat a bowl of vegetable-based soup before a meal tend to eat about 20% fewer calories during the rest of the meal, as compared to those who didn’t start their meal with soup. Just think… if you start your meal with a bowl of soup frequently, this adds up to a lot of calories not consumed pretty quickly.

One reason that people may eat less if they start their meal with a small bowl of soup is because soup is mostly comprised of water and soup is filling. And, soups that are vegetable-based tend to contain high-nutrient density with low-energy density… nutrition speak for high in nutrients, low in calories.

Thanks to the vegetables, quinoa and beans in my Quinoa-Vegetable Soup, it is rich in vitamins A, B, C and K plus dietary fiber, antioxidants and protein. These nutrients are good for healthy skin and immune system, lowered blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, as well as a healthy gut and digestive system. It’s a cinch to whip up on a busy weeknight or on the weekend for a few days’ worth of warm lunches.

Quinoa-Vegetable Soup

 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 medium onion, chopped
 3 garlic cloves, minced
 2 celery stalks, chopped
 2 carrots, diced
 28 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
 1 tsp dried thyme
 2 cups favorite chopped frozen or fresh vegetables (like sweet potato, zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower)
 0.75 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
 2 cups water
 2 bay leaves
 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
 1 cup favorite dark leafy greens, tough stems removed (like collard greens or kale)
 salt and ground black pepper, to taste
 Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

Heat large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery; cook and stir until veggies have softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add tomatoes and thyme; cook and stir for another 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining chopped vegetables, quinoa, broth, water and bay leaves. Season to taste. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Add beans and greens to pot; simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until greens have softened. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves. Top with freshly grated Parmesan, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

*This recipe first appeared on on January 16, 2019.*


January 22, 20190

It’s a new year, and one of my goals for 2019 is to experiment with new recipes and new ingredients. So, I was excited to see this month’s Recipe ReDux challenge theme:

New Year, New Ingredient: Introduce us a ‘new’ (or new-to-you) ingredient you’ve discovered recently and show us how you’re using it in a healthy new recipe.

And in doing a little new year pantry cleaning this weekend, I came across a can of jackfruit recently purchased from Trader Joe’s. Although I wasn’t sure what exactly I would make with it, but I had been intrigued by this exotic ingredient for while. So, I bought a can of jackfruit and whipped up some Jackfruit & Refried Bean Tostadas.


So, what exactly is jackfruit? Well, it’s a fruit. Originally from India, the large tree that grows Jackfruit has since started growing in other warm-weather areas, like the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, Africa, Australia and even Florida and Hawaii. It looks kind of like a spindly pineapple, and the inside of the fruit has a strong and not-so-pleasant odor when opened. But when ripe, the fruit inside is sweet and typically used in desserts. When unripe (like in the TJ’s can above), the fruit has a neutral taste and works well as a meat replacement in dishes, like pulled BBQ sandwiches and tacos.

Jackfruit also provides a whole host of beneficial nutrients, such as dietary fiber (important for digestion and regularity), calcium (important for bones), B vitamins (for energy and metabolism) and phytonutrients and antioxidants (important for helping to prevent certain types of cancer). One nutrient jackfruit is low in, however, is protein. So, be sure to boost the protein in any jackfruit dish with a good source of protein (like beans, eggs, seafood, dairy, poultry, soy or nuts). That’s why I added a healthy dose of pinto beans alongside the jackfruit.

Jackfruit & Refried Beans Tostadas

Yields: 4 servings

 2 tsp olive oil, divided
 20 oz can jackfruit, rinsed and drained
 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
 1 tsp ground cumin, divided
 0.50 tsp garlic powder
 0.50 tsp onion powder
 0.25 tsp dried parsley
 1 cup prepared salsa
 0.25 cup water
 1 mango, pitted and chopped
 0.25 cup cilantro, chopped
 1 tsp lime juice
 8 corn tortillas
 1 avocado, pitted and diced
 Cotija or feta cheese (optional)
 Hot sauce (optional)
 Salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. While oil is heating, squeeze out excess liquid from jackfruit and use fingers or fork to shred the jackfruit. Add jackfruit to pan and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Place jackfruit in a bowl; set aside.
  2. Add remaining 1 tsp. olive oil to pan, reduce heat to medium-low. Using a fork, mash pinto beans in pan. Cook until warm, about 2 minutes. Add jackfruit back to pan with beans; mix in ½ tsp. cumin and next 5 ingredients (through water) until well-combined. Heat until mixture is warm, about 5 minutes.
  3. While jackfruit and bean mixture is heating, combine mango, cilantro, remaining ½ tsp. cumin and lime juice in a bowl; mix well. Warm tortillas in a microwave or toaster oven. Spread jackfruit and bean mixture on each tortilla, then top with mango-cilantro salsa and avocado. Drizzle cheese and hot sauce, if desired, on top. Serve immediately.

PLEASE SHARE: Fan of jackfruit? Please share your favorite jackfruit recipes. I’d love to hear from you!

January 18, 20190

Energy… we all want more, and what we eat can help boost–or zap–our energy levels. Today I shared these three tips for boosting your energy with my good friend and former wellness colleague, Bridgette Binford of BJB Coaching on Facebook Live.

'Here I am live with @[100007487735473:2048:Rima Kleiner], MS, RDN of @[1045741372244532:274:Smart Mouth Nutrition] to talk about what to eat for more energy. Please bear with my technical troubleshooting at the beginning and fast forward to 4:40 into the discussion. Rima has some really beneficial info that is so helpful!!!'
1. Drink more water. I know this sounds so elementary, but staying hydrated is the number one key to boosting your energy levels! Water is the primary component in blood, which helps carry nutrients to our cells AND cart wastes away. Too little fluid = too little energy. Feeling fatigued and low-energy are two of the first signs that you need to drink more water. Don’t like water? Try adding berries or citrus fruit to water for added flavor, sip on sparkling water or try icing your favorite herbal tea.
2. Eat a power-packed breakfast. Break your nighttime fast with a mix of high-fiber carbohydrates and a little heart-healthy protein and fat. This well-rounded mix helps replenish those empty fuel stores and level out blood sugar levels, key to preventing that mid-day slump. Ideas for nourishing breakfast include: oatmeal with berries and nuts or seeds, plain yogurt mixed with fruit and low-sugar granola, smoothie made with nut butter and frozen fruit or an egg scrambled with with cheddar, spinach and avocado on a corn tortilla.
3. Eat more iron-rich plant foods. Iron helps transport oxygen to our cells, so low iron levels = sluggish + slow. While meat contains the highest amount of iron, Americans eat too little vegetables. So, focusing on iron-rich plant-based foods to help boost your iron AND veggie intake. Add some of these iron-rich gems to your diet every day–beans, lentils, seeds and dark, leafy greens. And while you’re at it, add a dose of vitamin C-rich foods–like red bell pepper, kiwi or orange–to your iron-rich meal to help your body better absorb iron.
Bridgette and I also chat about fad diets and cleanses, supplements and eating mindfully. So, check out our FB Live video here.
PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite food energy boosters? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!
Copyright (c) Smart Mouth Nutrition, LLC | January 18, 2019


October 5, 20180

Tomorrow is#NationalNoodleDay and this One Pot Mediterranean Linguine will make your family smile and your weeknights easier.

Noodles are a go-to staple in my house, especially for weeknight dinners. Everyone likes them, they go with just about anything and they make a great leftover lunch. While pasta is usually fairly easy and quick to make, this meal calls for only ONE POT! That means… one pot into which all ingredients go, one pot to watch and one pot to wash. Now, that’s my idea of easy weeknight cooking.

Rec ReDux_one pot med linguine_08 2015_pot

If you tend to avoid noodles or pasta in general because you think they’re unhealthy, think again. Noodles provide a healthy dose of carbohydrates, which our bodies use for fuel. Both whole grain and refined grain noodles tend to be low on the glycemic index (GI), but I usually opt for whole grain noodles because they contain more dietary fiber than refined noodles. In fact, whole wheat pasta can provide up to 25% of your daily dietary fiber needs in a one cup portion. Can’t do wheat? There are plenty of tasty gluten-free noodle options on store shelves these days, as well.

Try my One Pot Mediterranean Linguine. I promise, this dish will become a family fave and make your weeknights easier!

PLEASE SHARE: What is your favorite noodle dish? Please share. I’d love to hear from you.


September 28, 20180

Temperatures are still warm here in NC, but it feels like fall, with the return to weekday routines and a renewed focus on family meals and feeding kids healthfully. It’s no surprise then that September is Fruit & Veggies More Matter Month AND Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, two public health observances that seek to shed light on two very serious concerns: the lack of vegetables in the American (children’s) diet and the increasing number of children at an unhealthy weight. And if you’re like most clients I see, you may be asking how to get your kids to eat more veggies and fruit.

You’re not alone. Most kids (and adults) eat too few vegetables.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 87% of the total U.S. population did not meet vegetable intake and 76% did not meet daily fruit recommendations between 2007-2010
  • The CDC also states that children, in particular, consume even fewer vegetable servings: 93% of U.S. children aged 1-18 years old did not meet daily vegetable recommendations, and 60% of children did not meet fruit recommendations
  • More than one-third of American children are overweight or obese, which increases a child’s risk for a slew of health problems, such as heart disease, pre-diabetes, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, poor self-esteem and psychological problems

These statistics are woeful and alarming, people. Obesity at all ages is complex and caused by many factors (genetics, environment, excess calories, food choices, physical activity, metabolism, gut health and so many more). While the childhood obesity epidemic will not be solved by just getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, it’s a start.

Six easy ways to get your kids to eat more veggies and fruit.

  1. Get kids INVOLVED. Take your kids to the farmers market or supermarket and talk about the fruits and vegetables you see. Let them pick out a veggie and a fruit that they help prepare (in age-appropriate ways). And, start a garden, no matter how big or small–when kids get their hands dirty and grow it themselves, they are more likely to try new foods.
  2. Make veggies and fruit FUN! Cut up veggies and fruits in fun shapes and encourage your child to make funny faces with the produce on their plate. Give your fruit and veggie dishes fun names. My kids love “banana boats,” which is simply a banana in the bottom half of the peel, thinly sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon.
  3. Offer OFTEN and with FAVORITE foods. When offering a new vegetable or fruit, offer alongside a familiar one. He or she may be more willing to try a new food, if they know they have a back-up food to eat. Family-style meals allow everyone to eat the same meal but with customization. We love DIY pizza night and quinoa bowls–I set out a starter food (such as whole grain pizza crust or quinoa) and a variety of toppings (like, sliced olives, sauteed kale, cheese, roasted broccoli, beans) and let everyone top their own. And, don’t forget nutritious dips–hummus, ranch dip, guacamole and yogurt-honey dip “up” the produce appeal for less-than-adventurous eaters.
  4. Try different COOKING METHODS. If you grew up with over-steamed mushy broccoli, you’re probably not going to love (or maybe even like) broccoli. But, roasted broccoli with a little olive oil and salt may change your mind. If your child doesn’t like vegetables or fruits prepared one way, try cooking or preparing a different way next time. You can also experiment with adding your child’s not-so-favorite fruits and vegetables to smoothies or puree into popsicles.
  5. Take the HIGH ROAD. Children are less likely to try new foods in a chaotic and stressful environment. Introduce new foods when mealtime is calm and pleasant. And, what if your child refuses to try a new food? Let it go and try another time. A child who knows that food is a “button” for parents will push that button in an effort to control the situation. Avoid power struggles, and don’t engage in food battles.
  6. Be a good ROLE MODEL. If you serve your child fruits and veggies while you reach for an energy bar, your child will notice. Being a good food role model for your children may sometimes be the biggest motivator in helping them form healthy habits. So, sit with your children while they’re eating and enjoy your veggies, too.

Persistence is key.

Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP. Believe me, I know it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

One of my children will happily try new foods and loves her leafy green veggies. My other child is more cautious and loves his fruit, especially berries. He finds vegetables incredibly bitter (super taster?), and it’s a constant struggle to get him to try new veggies. But, PERSISTENCE and HEALTHY ROLE MODELING are two critical keys to shaping young eaters. So, I’ll continue taking him to the farmers market, sitting down next to him at the table while I eat (and offer him) vegetables. And, of course, high-five him when he tries–and sometimes likes–a new veggie.


PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite tips for introducing new fruits and vegetables? What are your favorite ways to make produce more fun?

This post first appeared on Kleiner Nutrition in September 2015.


September 14, 20180

This week, I had the pleasure of attending a nutrition and media training at The Dairy Alliance in Atlanta. I loved spending time with my fellow foodie dietitians and chefs and learning more about dairy. Plus, I had the awesome opportunity to train with media and communications coach and guru, Teri Goudie.

First, let me say we LOVE dairy in my house. My kids drink milk with most meals and down a cup of yogurt like it’s going out of style. I love milk in my beloved latte or tea, snack on cheese and happily add yogurt to my morning smoothies. And while my husband prefers almond milk in his cereal, he’ll never turn down cheese on his pizza or some of his other favorite dishes.

Whether you like dairy as much as we do or are confused about whether you should include it in your diet, here are some things you may not know about dairy.

  • Just one 8-ounce serving of milk contains 9 essential nutrients, including the following:
    • 8 grams of protein
    • calcium, important for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth
    • potassium, essential for regulating fluid balance and helps maintain healthy blood pressure
    • vitamin D, promotes maximum absorption of calcium
  • Experts recommend drinking milk with meals and water throughout the day between meals
  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and adults enjoy 3 daily servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt
  • A growing body of research suggests that consuming dairy regularly may help lower the risk of  type 2 diabetes
  • Studies show that the protein and calcium in milk play a critical role in promoting bone health and density, which decreases the risk of osteoporosis
  • Dairy contains calcium, potassium and magnesium, which help to maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Individuals with lactose intolerance can comfortably enjoy low-lactose options like hard cheeses (cheddar and Swiss) and yogurt

PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite ways to enjoy dairy? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!

Disclosure: The Dairy Alliance paid for my travel, hotel and meals in Atlanta, Georgia to learn about dairy nutrition and advanced media training. They did not compensate me to write this post and all opinions expressed here are my own.

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