April 19, 2024

Healthy Meals: Week at a Glance

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Weekly Meal Prep

Save time and energy by completing weekly meal prep. Choose one day each week to shop, chop, wash, prepare and cook. Healthy meals for the whole family will be at your disposal every day of the week:

Chop all veggies. Place in baggies so they are ready to go.

Wash produce. Prepare and clean produce so everyone in the family can simply grab and go!

Wash herbs. Wrap in paper towel, place in baggies and store in the fridge.

Bulk cook meats for the week. Portion out meat and store in air tight containers. All that’s needed is to heat it up.

Bulk cook entree’s to create left-overs. Cook casseroles, chili, soups and stews with a plan for left-overs. Refreshing a meal with a creative side dish or combination is a great way to minimize cooking during the week.


Zucchini Nachos by Helen Agresti, R.D.

One of the most exciting aspects of my job is learning from my clients. One of them recently inspired me to try zucchini nachos. This was definitely an “aha moment” at the office. I thought, what an incredibly nutritious nacho idea–brilliant!
It took me a few tries to get the zucchini crispy enough to come close to resembling chips. Zucchini contains a good bit of water. Allowing the slices to dry out before grilling is key. Don’t get discouraged if your zucchini turns out too tender. Those batches make an incredibly delicious side dish the entire family will love.

(serves 4-6)
•    3 zucchini, cleaned and dried
•    sea salt, to taste
•    ground pepper, to taste
•    taco seasoning, to taste
•    shredded cheddar, to taste
•    ¾ c black beans, rinsed and dried
•    ¾ c corn, cooked
•    ½ c green onion
•    ¾ c vine ripe tomato, diced
•    1 dollop sour cream

1. Slice zucchini to no more than ¼ inch in thickness.
2. Place slices on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Lightly sprinkle both sides of zucchini slices with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat grill to medium-high. Spray lightly with olive oil. Grill zucchini until tender and crisp on each side, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Just before the slices are ready to be removed from the grill, sprinkle with taco seasoning and shredded cheddar.
5. Place the zucchini slices on a platter and layer with beans, corn, green onion, tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream.


Helen is the founder of Professional Nutrition Consulting and The 24_7 Dietitian app. She’s a mom of 5, contributor for the Huffington Post, triathlete, and chocolate lover. Helen is passionate about educating families on how to cook healthy meals and snacks at home. You can now receive Helen’s Personal Nutrition Coaching thru her 24_7 dietitian app-available on iOS and android. Go to www.pronutritionconsulting.com for more info.

Homemade Chocolate Trail Mix by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Homemade Chocolate Trail Mix

Looking for a healthy and easy snack to serve your kids after-school?  A game day tailgate party?
This healthy trail mix is kid approved.  After mixing up a few different batches, this one scored big!  I received 5 smiles.  Everyone loved the sweet and slightly salty mix. The Chex cereal and bunny grahams are an all-natural source of whole grains.  The raisins contain antioxidants and fiber.  The peanuts complete this healthy well-rounded mix with their addition of protein, fiber, and “good” fat.

2 c  Chocolate Naturally Flavored Chex Cereal
1 c  Annie’s Bunny Grahams-Honey Flavored
1 c  Chocolate Covered Raisins (*dark chocolate is a healthier option)
1 c  Roasted Peanuts-Lightly Salted

Mix and enjoy!
*For kids – practice portion control by using small snack size bowls or baggies.


Recipe courtesy of Helen Agresti, R.D. Helen is a Registered Dietician with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children. For more nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on Twitter via @HelenAgresti. For more information, go to www.pronutritionconsulting.com.

Are others offering unhealthy foods to your children? By Kristen Yarker, R.D.

What to Do When Your Friends/Family Offer Unhealthy Foods to Your Children

As a child-feeding expert, the parents who choose to interact with me are parents who value nutrition and want their kids to reap the health benefits of healthy food. So it’s no surprise that it irks them when others give their kids unhealthy foods. And, they ask me how to make it stop.

My advice usually surprises them. I recommend not stopping it. Here’s the two reasons why.  

#1: Yes, it’s tempting to want to control what others feed our kids. But for many people, the way that they express their love to children is by giving them sweets. My experience has been that asking people to stop feeding kids treats doesn’t go well because (even very rational) people feel that you’re asking them to stop loving your kids. It seems silly when I write it so plainly, but the feelings run deep; the symbolism is real.

#2: I understand that as a parent, it’s natural to want to control every single thing in your child’s life. But that’s the trick of parenting isn’t it – giving your kids the skills to handle situations on their own.

Because the reality of the world in which we live (at least here in North America) is that we’re surrounded by unhealthy food. There’s fast food restaurants on almost every block. It’s in the checkout of grocery stores, book stores, hardware stores, clothing stores, etc.

So we need to teach kids how to make healthy choices within this world of unhealthy food. And if we make something taboo, it only drives kids towards it.

What do I recommend? Be a role model. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Make it a daily habit in your home to serve healthy foods. And, occasionally enjoy unhealthy ones too.

If you know that a holiday is coming up that’s associated with unhealthy food (Halloween anyone?) or that your child will be visiting a friend/ family member who serves them unhealthy food, then create the balance by serving healthy foods at home.

Child-feeding expert Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky). Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!) by signing up for her 101 Healthy Snack Ideas at: kristenyarker.com

Food-Swaps for your Teen by Maggie Ayre

Improvements You Can Make to Your Teens Diet, Without them Noticing

Keep Your Teens Tastebuds Happy With These Tasty but Healthy Alternatives

It’s a struggle every parent faces when their children start at secondary school. On the one hand you want them to be more independent on the other you still want some control over the choices they make.

When it comes to healthy eating there are two main ways you can influence their choices:-

Be a top role model – keep serving plenty of fresh fruit and veggies and other unprocessed foods at family meal times. Be the epitome of good health and they’ll want to follow suit.

Keep going with the healthy eating advice - It may feel like it just bounces back at you but you’ll be surprised how much is absorbed and put into practice at a later date.

There are some healthy foods you can sneak in almost without being noticed. Try these delicious alternatives to your usual teen fare:-

1. Swap regular chips for sweet potato fries. Many teens tell me they’re even tastier than the real thing!

2. Buy a cool fold up water bottle. Guaranteed to get your teen drinking more of the good stuff.

3. Serve eggs for breakfast. Who doesn’t love a fry up? You can prepare scrambled eggs on toast (or better still oatcakes) in the same time it’ll take to make a bowl of cereal yet the protein in them is guaranteed to keep your teen full until lunchtime and away from the vending machine at morning break.

4. If your teen takes sandwiches for lunch why not swap bread for rye bread or oatcakes? A change is as good as a rest and it’ll wake up their taste buds. Once they’re used to this idea introduce 1 or 2 salads or soup in a flask every week.

5. Does your teen struggle to east their greens? Green veggies are full of goodness for teens. Search for new and exciting recipes on Google or simply mix with a white sauce for the less adventurous teen.

6. Leave homemade snacks out for after school nibbles. Even the sweetest cake will be healthier if it is homemade rather than shop bought. Better still cook with your teen. Homemade popcorn is delicious for all ages and ready in minutes.

Maggie Ayre is the UKs leading Fitness Coach for Teen Girls. As well as one-to-one and small group nutrition and fitness work with teens she has developed the 3G Program designed to be run at schools as part of the PE curriculum. She also offers mentoring for PE departments on how to re-engage teen girls with PE and has recently published her third book; “Nutrition for Exam Success – A Parent’s Guide” which is now available as a Kindle and paperback at Amazon.

Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Autumn has arrived. Embrace the shorter days and colder weather by pulling out your slow cooker. Simply toss in the ingredients in the morning, then return home where a warm, ready to eat, healthy meal for the whole family awaits. What could be easier?


Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 (3-4 lb.) store bought rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded

1 (32 oz.) box fat-free and low-sodium chicken broth

2 (14.5 oz.) cans chopped stewed tomatoes

1 Tablespoon garlic, minced

1 (4 oz.) can green chilies, chopped

1/2 cup salsa (mild)

1/2 cup salsa conqueso (medium)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 Tablespoon cumin, ground

2 cups Mexican cheese

light sour cream

tortilla strips


1.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except cheese, sour cream, and chips.

2.  Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream, cheese and chips.

Recipe by Helen Agresti. Helen is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti and on the web www.pronutritionconsulting.com


One-Dish Wonders! By Helen Agresti, R.D.

This time of year brings shorter days and less time to prepare healthy meals at home.  Without proper planning, home cooking doesn’t always happen. I wish I could use the most common excuse of not having enough time in my day but let’s face it, there’s plenty of time in our day for something this important.  Especially on Sundays, there’s sufficient time to execute a game plan for the week ahead. There’s nights during the week that are filled with client meetings and kids activities which makes the idea of ordering out very enticing.  Convenience food is everywhere and it certainly contributes to the rising rates of obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and other health related disorders.

With that in the forefront of our minds, here are a few one-dish wonders that will satisfy you and your healthy family:

Healthy Baked Chicken Marsala


No-stick cooking spray
4 chicken breasts
1/4 c white cooking wine
1/4 c marsala cooking wine
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon sea salt


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  Spray casserole dish with no-stick.
3.  Pour half the white and marsala wine in the casserole dish.
4.  Sprinkle half the onion, garlic, rosemary, and salt on top of wine.
5.  Place chicken breast on top.
6.  Pour the remainder of the white and marsala wine over top of
7.  Sprinkle the remainder of the onion, garlic, rosemary, and salt on
8.  Bake 20-25 min. or until internal temp of chicken reaches 165 degrees F.

*If you have time, allow the chicken to marinate in a Ziploc bag with all the ingredients prior to baking.


Waist Slimming Quinoa Salad


3 cups Quinoa, cooked
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
1/2 c seedless cucumber, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 mango, diced
1/3 c cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Combine all ingredients. Serve warm or cold.


Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti and on the web www.pronutritionconsulting.com

3 Tips for Healthy BBQ by Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN

It’s barbecue season! Want to partake in this American summer staple, but worried about the effect on your body? Don’t fret. Barbecue can be both healthy and delicious. Just remember these three tips!

Choose Lean, Fresh Meat:
It’s a common misconception that meat needs to be fatty to taste great grilled. Lean meats such as skinless poultry (i.e. chicken and turkey), pork tenderloin and fish can be just as tasty as their fatty counterparts. Red meat is higher in fat, but that does not mean a barbecue season without burgers and steaks. Stick to leaner cuts such as round, flank, sirloin or lean ground and trim away visible fat.

When it comes to bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats, beware. Most processed meats are high in sodium, saturated fat and preservatives. Sodium nitrate, the preservative that keeps meats such as hot dogs pink, has been found to increase risk of heart disease. Studies have also found that high intake of processed meat can increase risk of colon cancer by about 20%.  Fresh meat doesn’t contain any of these harmful substances, making it a much healthier option.

Maintain Balance:
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, high in nutrients and should make up half your plate. So, don’t let meat steal the spotlight. Give produce its time to shine.

Veggies hot off the grill are delicious enough to stand on their own, but can also be used to jazz up a salad or sandwich. Vegetable sides such as green bean and cucumber salads are healthy, refreshing and easy to prepare.

Kabobs are another great way to incorporate fresh summer produce. Adding fruits or vegetables between the cubes of meat cuts calories and enhances flavor. Having trouble getting your little one to eat their veggies? Let them create their own kabob combo. Studies find that kids are more likely to try new foods that they helped prepare.

Store bought condiments are often laden with sodium and sugar. Accompany meat with fresh guacamole, salsa or pico de gallo instead. They are easy to make and elevate the flavor of any dish. In a time crunch? Add fresh fruit, such as watermelon or mango to your favorite store bought salsa or pico de gallo to liven it up. Fresh summer fruits are sweet, juicy and vitamin packed. Grilled pineapple, peach and pear make excellent desserts. Serve them alone or as a topping.

Be Clean:
Barbecue safe, clean and foodborne illness free! Raw meat and its juices contain harmful bacteria. Each type of meat has a specific minimum internal cooking temperature that must be reached to ensure safety. Invest in a meat thermometer and before firing up the grill, check out this Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart from FoodSafety.gov. Be sure not to use the same platters or utensils for raw and cooked meat to avoid recontamination. Got lots of leftovers? Toss any dishes that have been out for more than two hours (one hour on hot days). Rule of Thumb: When in doubt, throw it out!

Research shows that exposing meat to open flames produces carcinogens, cancer causing compounds. This does not mean to forgo the grill, but there are some precautions to take. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends precooking meat in a microwave to decreased cook time on the grill. When fat melts and drips into the fire, it creates harmful aromatic carcinogens, which end up on our food. Choosing lean meat, removing skin from poultry and trimming visible fat decreases this phenomenon. Overcooking meat also produces carcinogens, which a study suggests significantly increases risk of pancreatic cancer. Once the minimum internal temperature has been reached, remove the meat from the heat. To prevent both overcooking and charring, cook meat over a low flame. If accidental charring does occur be sure to scrape it off before eating.

Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN
Bariatric Dietitian
Twitter: LoRoRD

Whole Grains 101 by Gretchen Scalpi

More Carb Options for People with Diabetes: Whole Grains!

Many people with diabetes or pre-diabetes believe that they will need to make drastic changes in the way that they eat. One of the most common beliefs is that those with diabetes have to completely cut out carbohydrates. Nothing is further from the truth! The good news:  you still can have carbohydrates and, in fact,  your eating plan should include grain products. The key is to pay attention to the portions you consume and to choose grain products wisely. A good rule of thumb is to choose grain products with plenty of fiber: 4 grams or more.

Selection of high fiber grain products goes way beyond switching from white to wheat bread.  Today there are many whole grain foods available right in your grocery store. Take a stroll down the “health food” aisle in your grocery store and you will see what I mean. What will you find?  Quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, kasha, barley, bulgur, and possibly even wheat berries (sometimes referred to as farro.) If you are unfamiliar with any of these products, you are not alone. It’s only been over the last few years that the “real whole grains” have made their appearance in places other than specialty food markets. I call them the “real whole grains” because when purchased, they are simply the grain itself…nothing added, just 100% grain.

Even if you have never tried cooking whole grains I would encourage you to experiment with some of these. Most are cooked much in the same way that you prepare rice:  add water and simmer for the designated period of time. Some grains such as kasha take as little as 15 minutes to cook, while wheat berries can take an hour or more. Keep in mind that each will have it’s own distinct flavor and texture. It’s up to you to decide how to season or combine grains with other foods.  Not sure how to you might do that? Think about how you season pasta or rice when you prepare it, then substitute the new grain instead. How about adding grains with vegetables, meat or poultry, in soups, or prepare as a breakfast cereal instead of oatmeal? A quick Google search of the grain you want to try will give you lots of ideas.

If you have diabetes, you still need to be mindful of how much grain you eat, even when it’s a whole grain. Carbohydrate content will vary, but typically 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the cooked grain will provide about 15 grams of carbohydrate (1 carb exchange.) Because whole grains are high in fiber, you will find them much more filling and less likely to spike your blood sugar in the way a refined carbohydrate food would.

Want to try out one of the whole grains? Here are a few guidelines for cooking them. 1 cup dry grain usually yields 3-4 cups cooked:

1 cup Wheat Berries or Barley (Pearl) to 3 cups Water: Cook covered on medium-high until wheat berries are plump & chewy (about 60 minutes)

1 cup Quinoa to 2 cups Water: Bring to boil then cover & simmer 10-15 minutes.

1 cup Buckwheat Groats or Kasha  to 2 cups Water: Bring to boil then cover & simmer 15 minutes.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Wellcoach®. Gretchen is the author of “The Quick Start Guide To Healthy Eating”, “The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Pre-Diabetes”, “The Everything Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd ed.”, “Pre-Diabetes Your Second Chance At Health” and the “Virtual Grocery Store Tour”.  You can find her products at http://www.nutritionxpert.com/products.


Are you on the Party-Circuit?

Party Healthy Eating Check-List

Going to a holiday party? You enter the party and come to a huge table with lovely nutritional choices, as well as some not-so-nutritional choices. What do you do? It really is easy to choose foods that will support your healthy living goals! Forego the standard chips and heavy dip, cookies and candies in favor of these expert recommended figure-friendly healthy and flavorful foods. Check out these recommendations by Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN.  Next time you find yourself standing at a party table crowded with a variety of food choices, you’ll be prepared and empowered with your healthy go-to expert list.

Healthy Holiday-Party Choices:

Shrimp cocktail
Hummus & raw veggies
Cheese. Stick to serving size of 4 playing dice. Enjoy with whole grain crackers
Nuts. (Again watch serving size — no more than 1ounce = a shot glass)
Smoked salmon on cucumber squares
Tuna tartar with avocado
California roll
Chicken skewers

Be mindful to still limit portions of above — because even though healthy choices — if all is consumed at once, the calories will add up.

Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, Nutritionist in Private Practice in NYC, Media Spokesperson and Author of The Small Change Diet (Gallery, March 2011) For more information, www.kerigansnutrition.com. Follow Keri on Twitter @kerigans and join her Facebook community via www.facebook.com/TheSmallChangeDiet