March 8, 20190

Okay, so I realize that National RDN Day is really only celebrated by those of us who are certified nutrition nerds (aka Registered Dietitian Nutritionists/RDN). But as an RDN, I feel proud to celebrate a degree and credential I worked really hard to earn.

And in celebration of #RDNday, I’m addressing a question I get asked a LOT: What is the difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist? Are all nutritionists dietitians? My answers: A lot. And, definitely not.

Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

While some registered dietitians refer to themselves as nutritionists, semantics is important here. There are some major differences between a registered dietitian-nutritionist and a nutritionist without the RDN credential. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “All registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.”

A nutrition professional who is a RD or RDN have met the following criteria:

  • Completed at least a bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited university or college nutrition science program that has been approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Completed a hands-on supervised internship practice program for a minimum of 1,200 hours months that has also been accredited by ACEND
  • Passed a national examination that has been administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) board
  • Completes continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration credentials
  • Upholds a professional code of ethics to provide nutrition advice that is fair, unbiased and based on science

In other words, a RD/RDN is guaranteed to have formal education and extensive hands-on training before providing nutrition counsel. A nutritionist without the RD/RDN credential, however, may or may not have any nutrition science background at all. The term “nutritionist” is not regulated in the U.S., so anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist.” Nutrition is a complex science-based field, and nutrition guidance should also be science-based. I don’t know about you, but I want my medical, dental and mental health advice from medically-trained professionals. Not someone who took an e-course or read a book about health.

And on the same note, both the RD and RDN credential are used interchangeably and connote the same level of education and training.

Find A Real Nutrition Expert

If you are interested in meeting with a nutrition professional, look for one that has registered dietitian training and includes the RD or RDN in their credentials. To find a RD or RDN in your area, go to Find An Expert on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

So, yeah. I’ll happily celebrate a day that advocates for RDs or RDNs as the nutrition experts.

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash


March 7, 20190

Breakfast, it seems, now reigns as the king of meals. Or, you’ve heard to eat breakfast like a king and our other meals like a pauper. Either way, the benefits of eating breakfast far outweigh the benefits of skipping that morning repast. The foods we choose to bring our nighttime fast, however, matters.

Fuel Up Wisely

The foods we eat at breakfast fuel our whole day. Several studies show that those who eat breakfast regularly have increased focus and concentration, reduced risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, healthier cholesterol levels and are less likely to be overweight. While its unclear whether these individuals are healthier because of breakfast or because healthier people eat breakfast, the science is clear that breakfast is beneficial to our health.

Breakfast–like lunch, dinner and snacks–should contain a combination of fiber-rich carbohydrate(s) and a little heart-healthy protein and/or fat. Here are some examples of a well-rounded breakfast:

  • Egg scrambled with vegetables and diced avocado
  • Whole wheat toast topped with nut butter and sliced strawberries
  • Smoothie made with frozen berries, spinach and yogurt
  • Oatmeal topped with diced apples, cinnamon, nuts and a splash of milk
  • Whole grain cereal with blueberries, nuts and milk or yogurt

Benefits of Cereal

Since it’s National Cereal Day, I’m sharing my favorite healthy homemade granola recipe. It’s so simple to make and, like other cereals, it’s delicious… with fruit, milk or yogurt, nuts, seeds, you name it. Simply mix rolled oats with chia seeds, hemp seeds, cinnamon and nuts and seeds of choice (I used walnuts, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds). Then, mix in light olive or canola oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Bake at 350 F degrees for 20-25 minutes, you’ve got a delicious and healthy cereal. Or check out the link to my recipe post here.

One of my favorite aspects of cereal is that it’s a tasty bowl of goodness, perfect for breakfast or a snack. It pairs perfectly with bananas or berries, milk or yogurt, nuts and seeds or just as is as a mid-morning snack.

And oat- and bran-rich cereals, like granola, provide a heaping dose of the following nutrients:

  • Dietary fiber — helps us feel full, be regular and manage blood sugar levels
  • Protein — builds and repairs tissues
  • Vitamin E — antioxidant that fights free radicals that causes cancer and aging
  • Magnesium — important for calcium absorption and enzyme production
  • Plus, many other healthful nutrients like zinc, potassium, B vitamins and selenium

PLEASE SHARE: What is your favorite cereal? I’d love to hear from you!






March 6, 20190

Brrr… it is cold here in NC today. If you’re feeling the chill, my recipe for Quick Vegetable Soup will warm you up in minutes.

Seriously, it doesn’t get much simpler than this soup. It cooks up in a matter of minutes, thanks to frozen vegetables and herbs. I always keep a variety of frozen veggies (and fruits!) in my freezer for recipes just like this one.

There are so many benefits to frozen produce. Yet, clients often seem surprised to learn that frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh. And, the benefits don’t stop there. Since it’s #NationalNutritionMonth and #NationalFrozenFoodDay, let’s look at just a few benefits of frozen produce.

Benefits of Frozen Foods

  • Nutrient-rich. The produce in your supermarket freezer section was likely picked at peak ripeness and frozen within hours. This process maintains optimal nutrient levels and flavor without changing the nutrient profile. In fact, frozen produce sometimes retains higher nutrient levels than fresh. Vitamins and minerals in food deteriorate over time, so frozen produce contains more nutrients than its fresh, wilting counterpart.
  • Affordable. While the price of fresh produce fluctuates depending on availability, demand and seasonality, the price of frozen produce remains fairly consistent. Local and in-season produce tends to be cost-effective. But, frozen produce provides an affordable alternative when its off-season.
  • Convenient. No rinsing, drying or chopping required. Just tear open that package and throw in the blender for a smoothie or a pot for soup or sauce. If your recipe calls for thawing the produce first, do so safely in the refrigerator.
  • Less waste. Because frozen produce has a longer shelf life than fresh, there may be less food waste. Raise your hand if you throw out that sad, nearly-rotten zucchini or moldy berries from time-to-time. (I try to use my fresh produce before it goes bad, but that’s not always the case.)

What to Watch Out For

There are many health and other benefits of frozen produce, but watch out for added and unnecessary calories, sodium and added sugars. Butter and cream sauces on frozen vegetables up the sodium and caloric content, while some frozen fruit may contain added sugar.

Favorite Uses for Frozen Produce

Here are some of some of my family’s favorite ways to use frozen vegetables and fruit:

  • Smoothies: Frozen fruit and frozen spinach or kale blended with milk of choice, a frozen banana and nut butter
  • Coulis: Frozen berries heated with lemon juice and a pinch of sugar (My son eats this as is for dessert! Perfect on pancakes or chocolate cake)
  • Jam: Frozen berries heated with chia seeds, lemon juice and sugar until thickened
  • Soup: Frozen vegetables and herbs with broth, canned tomatoes and canned beans
  • Sauce: Frozen vegetables and leafy greens with jarred spaghetti sauce
  • Omelet or egg muffins: Frozen peppers and vegetables mixed in with eggs and cooked
  • Bulking up baked goods: Adding frozen butternut squash or pumpkin to baked goods
  • Roasting or sautéing: Cook as is according to instructions!

PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite uses for frozen veggies and fruits? Please share. I’d love to hear from you.


March 1, 20190

March is National Nutrition Month®, the month we registered dietitians look forward to all year. A WHOLE MONTH dedicated to healthy eating. I mean, how can anyone not get excited about that?!

Okay, I do realize not everyone is a nutrition nerd. But, now that New Year’s resolutions are starting to wane and spring cleaning inspiration is right around the corner, March is a great time to re-focus on healthy eating.

What is National Nutrition Month®?

Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the goal of National Nutrition Month® is meant to inspire everyone to make informed healthful food choices and engage in more physical activity.

Here are some key messages from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help us do just that.

  1. Discover the benefits of a healthy eating style.
  2. Choose foods and drinks that are good for your health.
  3. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  4. Select healthier options when eating away from home.
  5. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  6. Keep it simple. Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated.
  7. Make food safety part of your everyday routine.
  8. Help to reduce food waste by considering the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  9. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  10. Consult the nutrition experts. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

My favorite key messages

While all of the above are important, the three messages I tend to share with my clients most often are to choose the healthier of your food and drink options, include a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups and keep healthful eating simple and feasible for YOUR lifestyle.

And of these above that I am personally trying to work on? Being more mindful of food waste. With two kiddos who are becoming more self-sufficient in the kitchen, I find there is more food waste in my house than I’d like. And, I’m also guilty of tossing a zucchini that went rotten or buying foods I already have in the pantry. But, I’m trying to get better about remembering to compost or toss the onion skin in a bag for vegetable stock.

Up for a Challenge?

It’s almost time to spring clean, so I challenge you to take a moment and think about what YOU could work on from the list above. And, please share with me. I’d love to hear from you.


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

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