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.


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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