Category Archives: snacks

Sweet and Savory Saturday

This dip tastes great with veggies and whole-grain pita bread and chips.

Welcome to Sweet and Savory Saturday!  Today’s featured recipe is White Bean Dip.  I got the original recipe in 2002 from  At that time, I had 3 children ages 3 years and younger and needed a simple recipe to follow for a family get-together.  I have made some changes over the years by adding pimento and another can of beans.  This bean dip has fiber, soy protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants.  It tastes great served with whole-grain breads and chips and veggies.

White Bean Dip


2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed

1 (12.3 ounce) container firm tofu (drained if packaged in water)

1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained

1 (4 ounce) jar sliced pimentos, reserve 1 TBS for garnish

2 TBS lime juice

1 TBS olive oil

3 small garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste (use red pepper flakes for an added kick)


In a blender add beans, roasted red peppers, pimentos, tofu, garlic, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper, olive oil, and lime juice.  Blend on medium until smooth.  Place in serving dish. Garnish with reserved sliced pimento.


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Filed under appetizers, dip recipes, healthy food, healthy picnic ideas, homemade meals, picnic recipes, side dish, snacks

5 Tips to Avoid Unwanted Snacking

Are you guilty of mindless snacking?  Here are a few tips to help you break the habit.

  • Eat Breakfast: By replenishing your energy stores from the fast incurred by sleep, you will prevent unwanted “crashes” later in the day that lead to the “munchies” and/or binge eating.  Eat a balanced breakfast composed of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Lack of sleep and/or restless sleep upset the hormonal balance, increasing enzymes that trigger your body’s hunger center.  Adequate sleep will help to keep this system in check.
  • Practice Stress Relaxation Exercises: The stress hormone, cortisol, can stimulate hunger.  Minimize triggers of its secretion by keeping the body in a calm state through such techniques as deep breathing, meditation, Yoga positions, etc.,.
  • Take a 5-10 Minute Walking Break: Are you feeling the urge to nibble on the surplus of donuts in the conference room at work? Try hitting the halls for a quick jaunt instead.  Exercise can suppress appetite and can lower stress levels that stimulate hunger.
  • Put Temptations Out of Sight: Avoid succumbing to the “power of suggestion” by storing unhealthy snacks out-of-view in the back of the pantry and/or refrigerator or areas that are not readily accessible – better yet, don’t even buy them.  Prevent temptations on-the-go or at work by not keeping sugary, empty calorie items in your car or office desk drawer.  Instead stock up on nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc.,.

How do you avoid unwanted snacking?  Share with us, we want to know!


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Filed under breakfast, healthy eating tips, snacks, stress, Uncategorized, weight management, workplace

Nutritional Supplement or Glorified Candy Bar?

Whole foods are best, but when you are constantly on-the-go, that option is not always possible.  Enter meal replacement bars – the go-to source of nutrition of many that has gained in popularity in recent years.  And, for good reason – when you are about to debunk and are faced with choosing between an empty calorie, high-sodium, fat-ladened meal from a fast food restaurant or an enriched energy bar, the latter choice wins out.  Care needs to be taken, however, when choosing the best meal replacement bar for you.  With all of the different choices on the market today, this can prove to be a challenge.  How is one to know if their bar of choice is a good supplement to their diet or just a glorified candy bar?

Manufacturers of supplement bars strive to reach different consumer targets.  Usually, the label tells all.  Descriptors such as “low-carb,” “high-performance,” or “high-fiber” give an indication as for whom the bar is made and what nutritional “needs”  it is intended to meet.  Supplement bars basically fall under two main categories – meal replacement and performance.  Subcategories within these would include bars engineered to meet the needs of different gender and age groups (e.g., women, children, etc.,), and/or those individuals with special dietary requirements/preferences (e.g., “vegan,” “organic,” “gluten-free,” etc.,).

When choosing the best bar for you, consider the following:

  • Who are you buying the bar for? You? Your child?
  • What are your goals? Are  you looking to increase exercise performance? Do you want to build muscle mass? Lose weight? Run longer?
  • Is the bar to replace a regular meal or to act as a nutritional supplement in your diet or your child’s diet?

The descriptions below of what to expect from the different categories of bars may help you to select the one that meets your needs and goals.

Meal Replacement Bars

  • Individuals interested in using supplement bars as part of their weight loss program want to ensure that the bars provide a nutritional equivalent to what would be achieved by consuming a small meal composed of whole foods.  These bars should contain fiber (at least 3-5 grams) to provide a sense of fullness.  Diet bars should be relatively low in fat (no more than 5 grams), contain a moderate amount of protein (10-15 grams), and should be enriched with a third of your daily requirements for vitamins and minerals.
  • When choosing a bar that will be a nutritional supplement to fill-in any “gaps” that may be in your or your child’s diet, be wary of claims such as “real fruit,” “yogurt,” etc.,.  Read the label carefully because the source of “fruit” may actually be from juice concentrates and high-fructose corn syrup rather than real pieces of fruit.  And, the form of yogurt present typically does not contain the live, active cultures that help with digestive and immune function.  Also, use caution when deciding upon meal replacement bars that are dipped in chocolate or have chocolates swirls on top.  These “extras” usually come with a price – added sugar and fat in amounts that equate or exceed those found in candy bars.
  • To round out your nutritional needs or those of your child, serve a piece of fruit, some yogurt, or a glass of skim milk along with the meal replacement bar.

Performance Bars

  • Although there is a range, performance bars can contain a higher caloric content than diet bars targeted for weight loss in order to meet the increased energy needs of an active individual.
  • Supplement bars that target bodybuilders tend to have the highest protein content, around 20-30 grams.  Choose a bar that lists high-quality protein (whey, casein, or soy) as one of the main sources.
  • Athletes who are looking for an energy bar to consume prior to a moderate- to high-intensity workout should look for one that is high in carbohydrates (around 25-40 grams).  Avoid bars that are high in fat and fiber which can interfere with digestion and cause gastrointestinal distress.
  • Endurance athletes looking for a supplement bar to be consumed during a prolonged exercise session (longer than an hour) would benefit from bars that are high in quick digesting carbohydrates (glucose).  Ideally, these individuals want to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of exercise.
  • Energy bars consumed post-workout should be relatively high in carbohydrates (30 grams or more) to replenish energy stores and have a moderate amount of protein (10 grams) to aid in muscle tissue repair.

What to Look for in all Supplement Bars

  • The fat source should primarily come from mono- and poly-unsaturated fats such as whole-grains and nuts (e.g., oats, almonds, etc.,).  Avoid bars high in trans and saturated fats.
  • Limit bars sweetened with sugar alcohols which can lead to gastrointestinal upset.  Instead, choose bars that are sweetened with natural sugars (e.g., fruit purees, honey, etc.,).  Avoid bars made with high-fructose corn syrup and/or have simple sugars listed as the first or second ingredient.
  • Carbohydrates should come from complex sources (e.g., whole-grain oats, wheat bran, etc.,).  Avoid bars made with unrefined grains (e.g., white flour).
  • The protein should come from quality sources such as egg, soy, whey, and casein.

Meal replacement and performance bars are a convenient source of energy and can have a place in your and/or your child’s diet when chosen wisely.  Care should be taken to avoid going “overboard” on supplement bars.  Since many can contain mega amounts of carbohydrates and proteins, you are at risk for consuming more calories than you expend, which can lead to weight gain.  If you are considering using meal replacement bars, meeting with a dietitian can help you find the best one for your goals and nutritional needs.

Do you eat meal replacement bars?  Which ones are your favorites?  Share with us, we want to know!


Sources for more Information “Meal Replacements: Choose Those Bars and Drinks Carefully,” Zelman, K.

Running Times Magazine, April 2007, “Raising the Bar – How to find the best energy bar for you,” Eberle, S.G.

“Kids and On-the-Go Nutrition,” Gavin, M.L.

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Filed under children, diet, easy meals, energy bars, nutrition, nutritional supplement, snacks, weight loss

Sweet and Savory Saturday

Fresh Rhubarb and plump raisins add sweet tang to this spice bread.

I love to bake, especially when I can get some of the ingredients fresh from my own garden.  I planted rhubarb last year with the intent to use it to make strawberry rhubarb pie.  But, when it grew back this year, I was in the mood for something else.  I thought that its use in a spice bread would compliment the flavorful undertone of this baked good. I also chose to add plump raisins to provide a sweet balance and textural interest.

I wanted my sweet bread to be on the healthier side, therefore, I chose to use unbleached whole-wheat white flour.  I used egg whites instead of whole eggs and chose to use only 1 TBS of canola oil, but added reduced-fat dried buttermilk powder to add a rich flavor.

Here is the recipe that I came up with:

Rhubarb Spice Bread with Raisins:


2 1/2 cups unbleached whole-wheat white flour

3/4 cup brown sugar (dark will provide or more robust flavor, light will give a milder taste)

1/4 cup reduced-fat dried buttermilk powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 TBS ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 TBS white sugar (to be used when boiling rhubarb)

1 TBS turbinado sugar (to be sprinkled on bread batter before placing in oven)

1 1/2 cups cut rhubarb

3/4 cup plump/large raisins

1 TBS canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup egg whites

1 1/4 cups water


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place cut rhubarb in a medium sauce pan and add just enough cold water to cover the rhubarb.  Add white sugar and cook on medium-high heat until the boiling point is reached.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.  Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.  Cream egg whites, brown sugar, and oil on low speed.  Add vanilla.  Add egg white mixture and 1 cup of water to the dry ingredients. Blend on low speed until just combined.  Fold in drained rhubarb and raisins. Place in well-greased (can use nonfat cooking spray) 9 inch loaf pan and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes or until done.  Let cool on baking rack or serve warm.

Serving suggestions:

  • Serve as a breakfast bread with butter or margarine
  • Serve with lemon curd for a snack
  • Serve with a scoop of low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt for a nice dessert

Healthy, hearty snack

Great for breakfast or for dessert after dinner, this sweet bread tastes good any time.

Try this recipe then come back and let us know how it turned out!

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Filed under baked goods, healthy food, low-fat, Recipes, snacks, whole grains

Healthy Snacks Your Kids Won’t Pass Up!

Bring the “3 Rings” to your kitchen with these circus-themed snacks for your kids.  These fruit and veggie dishes may not be your standard circus fare, but they will be sure to get a standing ovation from your little ones just the same.

Bring in the Clowns!

No clowning around here! A small tomato makes the perfect nose for the face.

Make a clown’s face by using a small tomato for the nose, carrots (cut and arranged) for the mouth, dollops of hummus for the eyes, and shredded cheddar cheese for the hair.

The Lion’s Mighty Roar!

Thin slices of yellow and red bell pepper make up this lion's mane.

Thin slices of yellow and red bell pepper are perfect for the lion’s mane.  Use raisins for the eyes, hummus for the nose, thinly sliced celery stalks for the whiskers, and small green bell pepper slices for the mouth.

An Elephant Never Forgets!

A nutritious snack of fruit and yogurt sure to make Dumbo himself proud.

A nutritious snack of fruit and yogurt that is sure to make Dumbo himself proud!

Pear slices are used for the ears, red grapes for the eyes, a sliced banana for the trunk, and yogurt (piped in lines) makes the tusks.

Note:  Supervise toddlers and young children while they eat these snacks.  To prevent choking, some of the fruit and vegetables may need to be cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces prior to consuming.

For another great snack idea visit Life in a Skillet.



Filed under children, health, healthy food, nutrition, snacks

Capping America’s Sweet Tooth

The average American takes in a little over 22 teaspoons (about 355 calories) per day of added sugars.  How much should you actually be consuming for better health?  No more than 6 teaspoons (approximately 100 calories) per day for women and no more than 9 teaspoons (about 150 calories) per day for men, according to a scientific statement published last year by the American Heart Association (AHA).  Note, these values refer to sugars that have been added to your foods above and beyond what is present naturally in them. Additional sugars are put into foods during the preparation and processing of manufactured foods and/or at the table during mealtime.

Added sugars fall into the “discretionary calories” category.  That is, the amount of calories “left over” after you have met your nutritional needs from foods such as fruit, vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy, whole grains, and lean meat, fish, and poultry.  The discretionary calories category includes solid fats (saturated and trans fat), added sugars, and alcoholic beverages.

The American Heart Association recommends that you consume no more than half of your discretionary calories from added sugars.  Why?  According to their statement, excessive consumption of added sugars is associated with the development of obesity and heart disease and it increases your risk for high blood pressure, inflammation (a marker for heart disease), and elevated triglyceride levels.  Furthermore, consuming foods high in added sugars, which also tend to be devoid of essential nutrients, can lead to nutritional deficiencies and their associated health conditions.

What is the main source of added sugars in the American diet?  Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages.  How can you limit the amount of added sugars you consume?  Consider these tips from the AHA:

  • Read the nutrition label.  If you see words that end in “ose”, such as fructose and maltose, or terms such as corn syrup/sweetener, molasses, barley malt, invert sugar, malt sugar, honey, raw sugar, cane sugar, and agave, then sugar has been added .  If these words are listed either first or second, than you can be certain the product contains a lot of added sugar.  Try to avoid these products.
  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables.  Avoid canned varieties that have been packed in heavy syrup.  Instead, choose those that have been canned in natural juice or water.
  • Sweeten your food, such as whole grain cereal, with fresh or dried fruit instead of sugars and syrups.
  • Avoid soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages.  Instead, squeeze a little lemon juice into a glass of water.
  • When baking, reduce the amount of sugar called for in the recipe by half and use other ingredients such as spices and extracts or unsweetened apple sauce to enhance flavor.

Do you have a great tip on how to sweeten and/or enhance the flavor of food without adding calories from nutrient devoid sugars and syrups?  Share your ideas, we want to know!


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Filed under added sugars, diet, health, healthy food, nutrition, obesity, snacks, soft drinks

Healthy Snacking

A healthy snack can keep you going during a mid-afternoon slump.

Got the munchies? We have all been there – the mid-afternoon slump, those late night cravings…  Rest assured though, there are ways to calm the rumble of your stomach without tipping the scale.  The American Dietetic Association has these recommendations for keeping snacks healthy:

  • Plan Ahead. Does late afternoon hunger always seem to get you?  Then schedule a snack for that time.  Have a ready supply of healthy, easy-to-grab snacks, such as nuts or dried fruit, in your desk drawer at work.
  • Portion Control. Remember, it is a snack – not a three course meal.  Aim to keep the calories around 200 or less.  If you are regularly active your snacks can be closer to 200-300 calories.
  • Eat only when hungry. Make sure those hunger pains are truly just that!  Emotional stress, boredom, and/or fatigue can get you reaching for that bag of chips.  Instead, try deep breathing or taking a 10 minute walk to refresh yourself.
  • Make it Healthy. Fresh or dried fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and low-fat or nonfat yogurt are all great options to satisfy mid-meal hunger without adding too many extra calories.

Do you have a great tip to keep snacks healthy or an idea on how to curtail a snack-attack?  Share your thoughts, we want to know!



Filed under PICKKA, Shop to Lose, snacks