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Nov 29, 2018 · 6 Dietitian Tips For Holiday Cheer

Ah, the month of Decemberpacked with so much ~ holiday gatherings, winter break for students, and often, family vacations!  I have been reflecting on how I could take a break from some of the December hustle and bustle. Here are a few suggestions on handling the holidays, albeit, from a dietitian’s perspective.

1. Host a less traditional sit-down dinner event.
How about a progressive dinner theme? With this theme, guests progress from home to home, enjoying a specific course at a different host’s house. The first home could host appetizers, second home soup and salad, third home main entrée, and last home dessert!  Progressives are interactive, can be creative and lessen the stress of being the sole host of the dinner!

2. Try something new!
If hosting a celebration or bringing a dish to the holiday gathering, try a new healthier recipe or swap out an ingredient! Check out these resources for healthy recipe ideas and recipe substitutions:

Be sure to check out the DAHLC December culinary offerings for more holiday recipe ideas and classes – including a hands on cooking class!

3. Attend a community cookie exchange.
f a multitude of holiday sweet treats are a must each year, this is a great way to share and experience new goodies! Can’t find one in your area?  Host an exchange with friends and family. Spread the work load while enjoying other’s company.

4. Find a grocery delivery service.
Did you know you can do your grocery shopping online? No need to find a parking spot or dodge the crowds and shopping cars, and no more waiting in long lines at checkout.  Not only can this save time, but also lessens those impulsive purchases particularly while waiting to checkout.

5. Be mindful!

Try these  ideas to be a more mindful eater at your  holiday gathering:

  • Choose one or two special treats – limit “everyday/ordinary” treats that you can get all year.
  • Use a smaller plate or bowl and don’t feel obligated to clean your plate
  • Put distance between you and the food- socialize away from the serving table.
  • Eat slowly and savor each bite.  Try eating with your non-dominant hand to slow down, and really notice what is being eaten.
  • Focus attention on the people; appreciating family, friends, and conversation which is calorie-free (unlike the treats!).6. Create non-food traditions centered on gratitude.

    Volunteer at a shelter, organize a toy or clothing drive, visit a nursing home or assisted living facility to share the gift of time by singing a song, reading a book, or simply enjoying the company of new friends.

 Here’s to Eating Well this December and into the New Year! Cheers!

Dec 5, 2017 · 3 Ways to Have a Joy-Filled Season!

The holiday season is in full swing, and now I await the arrival of the “white stuff”!  December and snow go together like a PB&J sandwich or a bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese!   All the “white stuff” means it’s time for skiing.  The family ski outings are a joyful time for me.  A time to appreciate the winter wonderland and being together! This holiday season, disengage from auto-pilot; take time to reflect on what brings joy and what matters most

Amidst the hustle and bustle, consider these ideas for a joy-filled season:

  1. Give the gift of service: Consider offering a skill/talent you possess to others such as cooking, sewing, photography, music lessons, computer skills, or reading to shut-ins.
  2. Give back to others: Prepare meals, assemble care packages, collect clothing, or volunteer at an organization in your community to help those in need.
  3. Give from the heart: Prepare homemade food gifts, arts and crafts; take a special photo and frame it; write a short story or poem for someone special.

Lastly, eat well this holiday season! Enroll in a culinary class or try a new recipe for your holiday entertaining. This month’s feature food is winter squash which comes in a variety of unusual shapes, colors, and wonderful flavors!

Click here for the December culinary offerings.

Healthy recipes: DAHLC Recipes

Mayo Clinic Recipes

Bon Appetit!

Sep 20, 2017 · 7 Ways to Better Your Nutrition with Apples!

Autumn ushers in cooler weather for the beloved football fans and seasonal produce for cooking heartier meals – a welcoming change from summer BBQs and picnics. Various squashes, root vegetables, and apples are just a few staples to keep on hand for revving up your nutrition this fall season. Let’s focus on the ever popular apple – a staple fruit throughout history. Packed with flavor and nutrients, it may indeed help keep the doctor away! Apples are naturally cholesterol free with trace amounts of fat and sodium, and provide a good source of vitamin C. Enjoy an unpeeled apple to gain more nutritional value – especially fiber. Expand your palate with different apples – try the  Empire (cross between the McIntosh and the Red Delicious), or the  Fuji  for a natural sweet snack! Besides snacks, here are some ways to enjoy your favorite apple:

  1. Add diced apples to cooked cereal (e.g., oatmeal) – add a dash of cinnamon
  2. Make a batch of applesauce or apple butter – flavor with allspice
  3. Thinly slice apples and add to a grilled cheese sandwich or on top of toast with a nut butter spread
  4. Add diced apples to cooked whole grains – brown rice, quinoa
  5. Combine apples with your favorite salad greens or cabbage slaw
  6. Use apples in your smoothie – add a dash of cinnamon and honey
  7. And lastly, enjoy the Traditional Apple Pie!

For healthy recipes ideas, check out these web sites:
DAHLC Recipes
Mayo Clinic Recipes

Eat Well!

Mar 2, 2017 · National Nutrition Month

It’s that time of year for hoops tournaments and kickin’ off National Nutrition Month®. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual March campaign focuses on bringing awareness to the significance of healthy eating and physical activity habits. This month’s theme is “PUT YOUR BEST FORK FORWARD which focuses on making small changes in one’s dietary choices- one bite at a time– to improve health.

Try these tips to put your best fork forward: 

More veggies, please! Bite more veggies! Add chopped or grated vegetables (e.g., carrots, zucchini, and broccoli) to pizza, pasta, casseroles, or puree veggies and use as a sauce, or add to a favorite soup.

Saucy fruits! Puree favorite fruits (e.g., berries) in a blender and pour over pancakes, waffles; add balsamic vinegar for a quick salad dressing.

Dipping snacks! Baked tortilla chips in salsa, apple slices in low-fat yogurt, or graham crackers in unsweetened applesauce.

Sweet tooth satisfied! Try a parfait with fresh fruit (berries, banana), low- fat frozen yogurt and sprinkle with a few nuts. For a hot treat, bake an apple and top with cinnamon and raisins.

Want more ways to “PUT YOUR BEST FORK FORWARD?”

  • Look for nutrition displays around the campus with ideas for eating a variety of healthful foods.
  • Check out the DAHLC culinary classes for tips on cooking with healthier ingredients. The March cooking demos will feature Pot O’ Lentils. Also, get hands on practice for basic knife skills by attending the Wielding a Knife class.

For additional nutrition resources to celebrate National Nutrition Month® with your family, community and others, download these free handouts and tips sheets from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Here’s to making each bite flavorful and nutritious!

Dec 17, 2016 · Gift Ideas for the Kitchen Queen or King!


The holiday season is here, and gift giving ideas abound! Television commercials and newspaper ads bombard us with the “best” gift(s) to buy.  If you need some inspiration for gift giving, here are some ideas centered around food, nutrition, and the kitchen:

Here are some kitchen essential inspired gifts:

  • A grinder – versatile kitchen gadget for grinding flavorful spices, grains, and, of course, coffee!
  • A basic chef’s /French  knife –  Blade is generally 8 to 12 inches – a good all-purpose knife for  chopping, slicing, and mincing
  • A zester – Compared to graters, zesters are slender with small, razor edged holes.  Zesters make  very fine cuts; great for grating whole spices, citrus rind, coconut, and cheese
  • Nice cutting board — a durable, easy to clean cutting board is essential in any kitchen and can be found in any kitchen supply store. Use it whenever cutting with sharp knives, such as the chef’s knife.
  • Ramekins— these multi-purpose dishes can serve as bakingware for mini bread puddings all the way to holding butter or a soupy side dish. They are also great for portion control, and it doesn’t hurt that they are stylish too and come in an array of colors!

Another tip for cooking and gifting during the holidays is to make homemade edible gifts – gather a few friends/family members to help make healthier baked goods – check out these web sites for healthier recipes:

Check out the DAHLC cooking classes to see these kitchen essentials:

Here’s to eating well this holiday season!


Aug 26, 2016 · A Balancing Act: School Schedules and Nutritious Meals

Pasta - whole wheatAh, the crisp cool air of Autumn brings a new season and a new routine at our home! Gone are the lazy summer days where an extra hour of staying up late or sleeping in did not matter too much with our flexible summer routine. But that routine abruptly changes with the start of school and with it, juggling the demand of school schedules, extra-curricular activities, and trying to maintain a schedule of having balanced meals on the table! It can take several weeks for me to start getting into the “school routine” again and quite a bit of flexibility/tweaking on what to have for the evening meals. With sports practices and games, something quick and easy (yet nutritious) is the top three requirements on my list for meals.  Here are some meal planning tips to help ease the transition from carefree summer to the hustle and bustle of September:

Meal Planning:  Time Saving Tips:

  • Supermarket Ease. Grated, chopped, or pre-washed foods such as bagged salad and cut up fruit/veggies. Frozen veggies and fruits are simple to use. Already cooked meats can be time savers.
  • Open a Can. Rinse or choose lower sodium canned veggies and beans. Unsweetened or juice packed canned fruits are simple additions to meals or as snacks.
  • Serve no-cook meals. Make simple meals like salads with canned beans and fish or sandwiches with lean meat or cheese and sliced vegetables.
  • Cook when you have more time. On the weekends, make soups, stews, or casseroles. Cook larger amounts of lean meat or whole grains to add to meals later in the week. Freeze some of your meals for really hectic days.
  • Fewer ingredient recipes. Choose recipes with fewer ingredients that can be prepared quickly. Try kids cookbooks for ideas.

Check out these DAHLC offerings to help make September meals A+:

  • Cooking demo: 30 Minute Meals Learn quick meals to make after work or when evenings get busy! Sept. 12 @12:15 to 12:45 pm  or Sept. 14 @ 11:15 to 11:45
  • Dinner and Demo: ABC’s of Fall: Enjoy a dinner prepared by our very own chef team. While you enjoy the sight, aromas and taste, we will demonstrate how to prepare it at home! Sept. 28 @ 6:00 to 6:45 pm
  • Nutrition corner:  Meal Planning Simplified!  Sept. 15 @ 4:30 to 5:15 pm

Eat Well,

Jun 8, 2016 · It’s Berry Pickin’ Time!

fruitThe you pick berry signs are popping up along the roadsides inviting us to stop and pick a pail of tasty berries from pastures, fields, or purchase them from local farmer’s markets. There are many pick-your-own operations in Southeastern Minnesota and this website provides available areas, by county. Whether you pick this flavorsome fruit alone, or with friends, or family, here are some nutrition tips to make the pickin’ time enjoyable:

  1. Consider how long you plan to pick the berries. If making a day out of it, pack easy to carry foods for snacks and a simple meal:
    • Trail mix, nuts, nut butters, seeds (e.g., pumpkin, sunflower)
    • Dried or freeze-dried fruits & veggies
    • Baby carrots or cut-up veggies
    • Granola bars, dry cereal
    • Ready-to-use pouches  of tuna, salmon, chicken
    • Jerky – meat of choice
    • Whole-grain tortillas, crackers
  2. Stay hydrated. Picking berries in the summer sunshine can affect hydration. Pack a cooler with bottled waters, and unsweetened iced teas.
  3. Take care of the berries!  You spent time picking these precious berries so handle them with care! It’s important to refrigerate them as soon as possible unwashed.  When you are ready to enjoy these berries, rinse gently in cold water, drain, and remove any berries that are not fresh. For tips on storage, handling, and nutrition information, search the fruit database here.
  4. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!  Berries make for a quick and nutritious snack; add them to cereal, yogurt, salads, or smoothies; make jams/jellies – give as a gift; and there are a plethora of berry recipes – bet you have a favorite one from your grandma! Need some more berry delicious recipes and ideas? Check out the super strawberry suggestions here and search this site for specific berry recipes.

As a dietitian, I could not end without listing a few nutritional benefits of eating berries:

  • Low in fat, sodium, and calories – when eaten raw (i.e., not in a homemade pie!) – a half-cup of berries delivers 30 to 40 calories.
  • Provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals – vitamin C vital for growth and repair of body tissues, healthy gums, and teeth; potassium plays a major role in fluid and electrolyte balance.
  • Good source of phytochemicals – naturally occurring plant compounds that may prevent chronic diseases with blueberries getting top rating for their antioxidant activity!

See you in the berry patches!

Eat Well,

Mar 1, 2016 · Slam dunks found in the kitchen not on the court…

Graphic_NNM2016_HORIZONTAL_FINALNow that I caught your attention with some basketball lingo, I want to share about another annual event besides March Madness – though not as well-known unless you are a dietitian like me! March is National Nutrition Month® which started as a month-long campaign in 1980 – a “new kid on the court” compared to basketball tournaments dating back to March 1908!

National Nutrition Month® is a time set aside by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for nutrition education and information to draw awareness to the importance of making informed food choices and healthy eating and physical activity habits. The theme for this month’s campaign is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” which promotes taking time to enjoy food traditions, appreciating the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food offers. Focus is on healthy eating patterns that include nutritious and flavorful foods.

Try these slam dunk flavor enhancers:

  • Chicken: Cinnamon, cranberry sauce, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
  • Fish: Allspice, basil, bay leaf, chervil, chives, curry, dry mustard, lemon juice, oregano, paprika, sage, thyme
  • Asparagus: Basil, garlic, lemon juice, tarragon
  • Broccoli: Basil, lemon juice, mace, nutmeg, oregano, tarragon
  • Salads: Basil, chervil, dill, lemon juice, parsley, tarragon, vinegar
  • Rice: Basil, cumin, curry, green pepper, oregano, saffron, turmeric
  • Indian dishes: cardamom, cayenne, coriander, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, turmeric
  • Mexican dishes: cayenne, chili powder, chorizo, coriander, cumin, fresh chilies (green and red), garlic, oregano
  • Oriental dishes: cayenne, cumin, garlic, ginger, green pepper, sesame

Want more ways to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right?” Look for nutrition displays and food demos in the DAHLC, Harwick, Rochester Methodist, and Saint Mary’s employee cafeterias (click here for a calendar of events). Stop by the weekly food demonstrations to sample recipes that emphasize herbs and spices to flavor Italian, Mexican, and Moroccan dishes. Also, register to attend the DAHLC culinary classes:

  • Irish Fare – Get a taste of Irish cooking on March 9 from 11:15 -11:45 am
  • Breads – Learn about baking different types of breads on March 14 from 5:15 – 6 pm
  • Wielding a Knife – Get hands-on practice for basic knife skills on March 16 from noon – 12:45 pm

For additional nutrition resources, go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

Here’s to embracing new flavors this month of Madness!