Nutty Chocolate Cherry Trail Mix: A Whole Grain Treat for Any Valentine

Valentines Trail Mix pic_1Disclosure: I was compensated by The General Mills Bell Institute of Health & Nutrition for my time to write this post. Recommendations and opinion are my own.

I’m always happy when Valentine’s Day rolls around. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to express gratitude for special people in my life and get some time in the kitchen doing what I love — preparing food with my kids. This year, I enlisted help from my 3-year-old to make these “Be Mine Valentine” snack packs filled with chocolate, cherries, nuts, and whole grain cereal.

Celebrate with the Goodness of Whole Grains

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines encourage us to make half our servings of grains whole. However, ninety-five percent of us fall short of the recommended 48 grams of whole grain per day. On average, adults consume 1 serving, while most kids consume less than a serving of whole grains each day.

The Benefit of Whole

Whole grains, like whole grain oats, corn, whole wheat, rice and quinoa can provide your body with good-for-you nutrients like folate, iron, and B vitamins to help it function. By focusing on eating a variety of whole grains, you’re getting fiber, a healthy plant-based vitamins, minerals, and a variety of phytochemicals that are beneficial to your health.

Celebrate the “Day of Love” All Year Long

There are easy ways to give whole grains some “love” all year long. Try one new whole grain each month. Ever wondered what millet or quinoa tasted like? Prepare whole-wheat pastas and pizza doughs. Add rolled oats when baking or stir in a handful to your favorite yogurt. Enjoy whole grain salads like tabbouleh or toss your favorite grains with greens for a custom grain bowl.

Fill Your Bowl With Love

A bowl of whole grain cereal can get your day off to a great start giving you a balanced blend of nutrients. When choosing ready to eat cereal, look for whole grain listed as the first ingredient.

What about a warm bowl of mixed grains, topped with berries and crunchy almonds? Or a quick omelet filled with last night’s quinoa? Transform your leftover rice into a breakfast burrito with eggs, beans and cheese. Whatever your morning routine looks like, there’s a whole grain breakfast option that can work for you.Trail Mix bowl pic

Made With Love

Edible gifts are a great way to show you care without spending a lot of money and have some fun making memories with the ones you love. This tasty little gesture of dark chocolate and peanut butter chips, dried cherries and raisins, almonds and walnuts combined with whole grain Cheerios™ or Chex™ makes a great-tasting gift you can feel great about giving.

Make any adjustments to the recipe for your food preferences or food allergies.

Be-Mine Valentine’s Trail Mix
 
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Author:
Cuisine: Snack Mix
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Chex™ or Cheerios® Cereal
  • ½ cup roasted salted almonds
  • ¼ cup dried cherries (can use any dried fruit)
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter chips
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients
  2. Bundle this Be-Mine mix in decorative goodie bags or small canning jars with a homemade card and festive ribbon. Too cute!

Hear From You

What’s your favorite way to give sweets to the sweeties in your life? Share a link to your favorite Valentine’s recipe in the comments below.


 

Disclosure: I was compensated by The General Mills Bell Institute of Health & Nutrition for my time to write this post. Recommendations and opinion are my own.

Simple and Delightful: Morning Savory Waffles Recipe

Savory Waffle

These savory veggie waffles are naturally gluten free and can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

Disclosure: I was compensated by Simple Mills for my time to write this post. Recommendations and opinion are my own.

We all love waffles and pancakes, but have you tried a savory waffle? If you’re looking for a new spin on your traditional waffles, save the syrup and berries for another time and try this savory mix of vegetables, herbs and cheese, instead. Sounds a bit different – and they are – but they’re easy and delicious and can even be made ahead, making a weekend-style breakfast possible even on your busiest mornings.

Veggies For Breakfast Never Tasted So Good

Preparing nutrient-rich meals can oftentimes be tricky for everyday life. That’s why I love helpful shortcuts like using whole food baking mixes such as Simple Mills. The folks at Simple Mills are passionate about providing you with
Simple Mills Pancake Mixnatural products that are simple to make, good for you, and taste absolutely amazing.

All of Simple Mills mixes are almond flour based, making them naturally gluten-free. The Simple Mills Pancake and Waffle Mix is simple and healthy, made with 7 simple ingredients and delivers 6 grams of protein per serving. It makes for a satisfying start to your weekday breakfast on-the-go or a delightful addition for a weekend brunch or entertaining.

Breakfast Anytime

Adding sautéed veggies to your basic pancake or waffle batter first thing in the morning can help you reach the recommended 2 1/2 cups per day and jump start your day with a boost of nutrients. This recipe combines broccoli, onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, and scallions with aged cheddar cheese, and eggs cooked into a grain-free waffle. Modify the recipe below to your preferences.

Savory Veggie Waffles
 
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Author:
Serves: 3 waffles
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups Simple Mills Pancake & Waffle Almond Flour Mix
  • 3 whole eggs
  • ½ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
  • ⅔ cup diced onion
  • ⅔ cup diced mushrooms
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (optional)
  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a large sauté pan with a little olive oil over medium heat and add all chopped vegetables and thyme. Stir until they begin to soften, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and oil. Add waffle mix and combine until a batter is formed. Fold in sautéed vegetables and shredded cheese.
  3. Pour batter into heated waffle iron and cook waffles following manufacturer’s directions.

Serve your waffles with an egg, avocado and fresh fruit pairings. Dip them in soft butter, sour cream or Greek yogurt. If you’re dragging in the morning, try topping your waffle with your favorite spicy sauce (and hot coffee or tea helps too!) You can even eat these naked (you know, plain) — they’re that good!

Simply Yours

These waffles are sturdy, so they will keep in the fridge overnight or can be wrapped and frozen to be enjoyed later. Reheat under the broiler or in a toaster or toaster oven for a quick and simple on-the-go breakfast option.

Visit the Simple Mills online store to check out other fun mixes, like pizza dough, chocolate chip cookies and Artisan bread mix. Use the discount code SStart16 to save 10% on your Amazon and simplemills.com order today!

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Cozy Up with Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

IMG_0025_2

If you’re looking for a new recipe to fall in love with, this is it! With a hearty stuffing of wild rice, sausage, cranberries and kale this acorn squash it’s a meal in itself. It’s loaded with comforting flavors with subtle notes of sweet and earthy from the cranberries and kale. It can easily be made into a veggie friendly meal by omitting the sausage from the stuffing.

This hearty dish with bring coziness to your table and warm you inside and out. Enjoy!

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Cranberry, Pecan, Kale and Wild Rice
 
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This recipes combines warm earthy flavors and stunning autumn colors for a perfect Fall dinner. Omit the sausage in the stuffing for a vegetarian friendly option.
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • For the Squash:
  • 6 small acorn squash, ⅛ inch of bottom sliced off to make flat surface, remainder left in tact
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • For the Wild Rice Stuffing:
  • 2 cups wild rice cooked in 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups kale, cut in ribbons
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 chorizo sausages, casing removed
  • 1 tsp oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and arrange rack in middle.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly brush the foil with olive oil.
  3. Place the flat surface of each squash on the sheet and, once preheated, place squash in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft enough to cut through.
  4. While the squash is roasting prepare the wild rice. Place 2 cups uncooked wild rice in 4 cups vegetable stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until tender.
  5. Remove the squash from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and oil a rimmed baking dish big enough to accommodate all of the squash.
  6. Meanwhile, sauté sausage and shallots in oil, once shallots become soft add kale and cranberries. Cook for 2 more minutes and combine with rice.
  7. After cooled, cut away the top ⅓ of the squash and scrape out the seeds and insides. Paint the insides of each squash with ½ tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill each of the hollowed larger portions of the acorn squash with an equal amount of the rice stuffing (about ½-3/4 cup).
  8. Place the tops back on and arrange the squash on the prepared baking sheet. Continue roasting until the squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

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Three Flexible Ways to Eat Better Today with Eggs

Disclosure: I was compensated by Egg Nutrition Center for my time to write this post. Recommendations and opinion are my own.

When I tell people what I do for a living and the word “nutrition” comes up, the next thing I hear is… “Please, tell me what to eat!” I think everyone is looking for some guidance on what is good for you and how to get more of it. I wish it were as easy as giving people a “do’s and don’ts” list of foods, but it’s not. Your personal preferences matter because if you don’t love the food and how it tastes, you won’t make it a habit. Nor should you. That’s why I think it’s better to seek out nutrition advice that is flexible and guides you to choices you feel good about.

Three Healthy Eating Patterns to Fit Your Life

As a nutrition expert, I look to the scientific evidence for guidance in making my recommendations. In a report earlier this year, the 2015 Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee (DGAC – a group of food and nutrition researchers and scientists) placed a strong emphasis on the importance of healthy eating patterns as an effort to improve the major diet-related health problems we face as a nation. They recommended three flexible healthy eating patterns: Vegetarian, Mediterranean and Healthy US. In this blog, I will describe what makes up healthy eating patterns and share recipes and ideas that make them easy to follow. In addition to staples like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, one of my favorite versatile lean proteins, nutrient-rich eggs, is present in all three patterns.

Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods

In a perfect world, everything we eat would taste delicious, be super-convenient, and offer plenty of nutritional benefits. But do such foods exist? Sure do! One egg contains 14 essential vitamins and minerals, 6 grams of high-quality protein, all 9 essential amino acids, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, all for 70 calories, making it one of the best nutrient-dense foods to eat.

Plant Powered Eating

The key to healthy vegetarian eating is to enjoy a variety of foods. One common concern with plant-based eating is getting in enough protein. Eggs provide one of the highest quality proteins of any food available. One egg provides six grams of protein, but don’t toss the yolk! Nearly half of the protein is found in the yolk. Eggs are also one of the few foods that are a naturally good source of vitamin D, nothing artificial.

pepper egg

Bring some color to the table with these easy to make Broccoli Quiche in Colorful Peppers.

A Plant-Based Diet Doesn’t Mean Only Plants

There’s no strict criteria that defines plant-based eating. The focus is on the foundation, which is mostly grains, nuts and seeds, fruits, veggies and legumes. At each meal, pairing plants with 20-30 grams of high-quality protein like eggs, fish, chicken, lean meat, and low-fat dairy can help support healthy muscles and strong bones and keep you feeling satisfied. Check out this neat infographic for more protein and plant pairings to help inspire you.

Looking for way to jazz up traditional egg salad? Try adding flavorful image003ingredients like tomato, red onion, avocado and cilantro for more zing. This Tomato Avocado Egg Salad can be enjoyed as a meal or a hearty sandwich filling or serve in hollowed-out tomatoes.

Long Live the Mediterranean Way

This stands as one of the world’s healthiest and tastiest ways of lifestyles. So what is it about this lifestyle that is so protective? Lots of physical activity for one, but also this style of eating thrives on an abundance of fruits and veggies, olive oil, more fish, less red meat and processed foods, and they enjoy their wine in moderation.

Looking for a high lox eggprotein breakfast option? Heart-healthy fish has a strong presence in the Mediterranean diet, so why not add some to your morning meal? Scrambled Eggs & Lox Breakfast Bagels puts a sunny twist on the bagel and lox combo with the simple addition of a scrambled egg to help you power through your day.

The Pattern on Your Plate

Composing a healthy meal means getting the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. When planning out your Balanced Plate fill your plate at each meal with one-half fruits and vegetables, one-quarter protein and one-quarter grains or starches. But don’t forget the fat. Studies now show enhanced absorption of nutrients in veggies when consumed with a source of fat, such as eggs or olive oil. Here’s another neat infographic that highlights the latest research.

Nature’s Form of Portion Control

Eggs are naturally portioned (one egg is one serving) which makes them easy to prepare, whether you are cooking for one or many. Compared to other proteins, they are relatively inexpensive (average cost 25 cents/egg) and can remain in your fridge for several weeks without spoiling.

Boiled to Perfection

Boiling an egg is a simple way to create a healthy snack that can be taken on the go. Boiled eggs are also easy to pack in kid’s lunch boxes, or can be stored away in the refrigerator for later snacking. To get that perfect boil, cover eggs with 1 inch of cold water, and start heating. Take the pan off the heat as soon as the water boils. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 12 minutes (for a large egg), then drain immediately and serve.

Which Eating Pattern is Best for You?

A healthy eating pattern is not a rigid prescription for eating or a diet. It’s a style of eating that gives us flexibility in making choices to help meet our nutritional needs and also account for our personal preferences, food budget, and availability. If you’re looking to adopt healthier ways of eating the best eating pattern is the one that fits your lifestyle and you can stick with!

Visit IncredibleEgg.org Recipe Resources for more creative ways to use eggs in cooking.

Sources:

  1. http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/site_main.htm?modecode=12-35-45-00.
  2. http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/10-chapter-5/
  3. http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/site_main.htm?modecode=12-35-45-00

Disclosure: I was compensated by Egg Nutrition Center for my time to write this post. Recommendations and opinion are my own.


 

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3 Festive Thanksgiving Feast Ideas to Boost Flavor and Nutrition

happy tday

Watch here! My mindful eating tips to enjoy your Thanksgiving Feast, plus festive holiday food ideas.

Thanksgiving is almost here! I love this time of year because it’s all about gratitude – celebrating with good friends, family – and of course, FOOD, which is a meaningful part of our traditions.

Don’t waste time on thinking about “food rules” and what you can or can’t eat. It’s not fun, AND most people don’t realize, you usually end up overeating because your brain gets too tired out from resisting tempting foods! Instead, focus on savoring your food and slowing down – or Mindful eating helps you enjoy what you really want, and get satisfied without putting you into a food coma.

I’ve got some food ideas and recipes to help boost the nutrition value for your festive food choices to make your celebration healthy, happy, and memorable.

What to Serve While Everyone is Waiting on Dinner

When you’re entertaining, it’s nice to take some shortcuts. But instead of putting out potato chips, offer up satisfying snacks that won’t spoil your guests’ appetites before the big feast.pistacio

Wonderful Pistachios are just as easy to serve to your guests, plus they have three times the protein, fiber, and portion size per serving! Just put them out for crackin’ and snackin’ on and around Thanksgiving.

If you’re on the road, Wonderful Pistachios come in convenient 100 calorie packaging or you can make your own–you get 49 nuts in a serving of pistachios – more than any other nut. Try tasty varieties including the classic roasted & salted, lightly salted for just a touch of salt, and great flavors such as sweet chili and salt & pepper.

pumpkin-hummus-ck-xMany people love hummus and there are so many ways to serve it. Try an easy variation – warmed pumpkin hummus – just stir in ½ cup pumpkin puree into your hummus and warm it up for a few minutes and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Two heaping spoons of Sabra hummus a day will have you eating 1 ½ cups of beans in a week, increasing your fiber intake, plus boosting the veggies you eat – not to mention when you serve Sabra hummus as part of your veggie platter it can serve as your “scoop vehicle” for the hummus. It’s a win-win.

What to Serve to Drinkpom spritzer

Serve up a festive cocktails and mocktails using pomegranate juice. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice contains the juice from two whole pomegranates, and nothing more. I love using this for holiday beverages – like Spiced POM Cider, or try mixing with sparkling wine or sparkling water at your holiday table.

 Everything but Turkey – Colorful and Creative Sides

For the holiday table – we all know we’ll be enjoying some mashed potatoes – one of my family’s favorites. Add a “secret ingredient” to your spuds by using hummus instead of butter and cream, which cuts about 15 mash spudsgrams of fat per serving and adds a zesty flavor and creamy texture that your guests will find delightful.pom brussle

As you plan your holiday menu, think color! Pomegranate arils offer a delicious flavor and a perfect festive color for your side dishes like these Roasted Pomegranate Brussels Sprouts. You can buy Wonderful Pomegranates whole, or try POM POMs, a convenient package of ready to eat arils.

What to Eat for Energy

Be the host with the most, but don’t get stuck ravenous. Stay on top of hunger and keep up your energy up between meals with nutritious snacks.Kind bar

KIND bars are smart snacks, made with real, wholesome ingredients and use 50% less sugar compared to the average snack bar, only 5-6g per bar. Pair them with yogurt or cheese for added protein to keep you powering through your to-do lists, or enjoy them with a piece of fresh fruit for some quick energy while on the go.

If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth while still snacking healthy try KIND Nuts & Spices. Nuts and Spices come in a variety of delicious flavors, including Maple Caramel Sea Salt, Madagascar Vanilla Almond, Dark Chocolate Mocha.

Hear it From You

Let us know! What festive Thanksgiving dishes will you be serving up? Please share below or tweet to @ScritchfieldRD! We’d love to hear them!

Find out more about these products and topics through Twitter at @POMWonderful, @getcrackin, @Sabra and @KINDSnacks!

Tasty and nutritious, add some of these festive ideas to your Thanksgiving menu and you’ll be sure to add some health as well!

Disclosures: I was compensated by Sabra, KIND snacks, and Wonderful (pomegranate and pistachio) for my work on the TV segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.