May 28, 2024

Breakfast Muffins by Shirley Plant

Looking for your on-the-go-breakfast solution? Here you are! Make a few variations sure to please every member of the family.

Breakfast Muffins


3 cups Bob’s Red Mill GF rolled oats
2 tbsp ground flaxseed in 6 tbsp boiling water
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup honey
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
⅓ cup hemp seed
pinch sea salt
1 apple, cut into big chunks
handful dried cranberries or raisins
Optional- seeds or chopped nuts


Mix flaxseed and boiling water together in a bowl and let sit. In a food processor blend oats. In a large bowl add in all other ingredients and mix well. Add in flaxseed mixture and oats. Add in apples and spoon mixture into muffin tins. Bake 350F for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe by Shirley Plant- Nutrition Coach and Author of Finally Food I Can Eat. Click here for more information on Shirley’s 21 day challenge,
and check out her website via Follow her on Twitter via @sherrecipes

Carry healthy snacks with you! By Lori Rosenthal, RD

Feeling hungry, but dinner is hours away? Have a snack.

Snacks keep our blood sugars even, which prevents energy crashes and moodiness. They also help us stay in control. When we get to the point of “starving,” healthy options tend to lose to whatever is most convenient. We also wind up eating way too much, way too fast when we do have our next meal.

I’m not saying to eat a candy bar if you feel hungry between meals (this isn’t a Snickers commercial). A healthy snack should ideally include protein and fiber. Keeping healthy snacks available is a great way to prevent falling victim to the office candy bowl or vending machine.

Healthy snack options include:

1 Tablespoon of peanut butter & a fruit or celery sticks
2 Tablespoons of hummus & vegetables or fiber crackers
1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese and berries
Low-fat string cheese
1 ounce of unsalted nuts or seeds (mix them with a little high fiber cereal for added fiber and volume)
1/2 cup of edamame
Hard boiled egg
Granola bar (look for those that are low in sugar and high in protein and fiber)
Light popcorn
1 serving of baked potato, kale or beet chips

Bottom line: Snacks are not just for fun. Snacks are meant to hold us over until our next meal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be nutritious, delicious and satisfying.

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

Refreshing Chocolate Smoothie by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Energizing Cacao/Chocolate Smoothie

This chocolate smoothie is long overdue.  Chocolate is our favorite superfood- thanks to cacao. The bean of the cacao plant is the main ingredient of all chocolate and cocoa products. What makes it a superfood?  It is naturally rich in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, and fiber.  Cacao is low in calories and doesn’t contain any sugar.  We incorporated a date and some honey to naturally sweeten this deliciously energizing smoothie.  The flax meal and chia seeds offer additional fiber and staying power.  It’s perfect for refueling and replenishing after a workout.

Blend together…
•    2 c ice, crushed
•    ¾ c vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
•    2½ tablespoons 100% cacao powder, raw
•    1 date, pitted, finely chopped
•    2 teaspoons honey
•    1 teaspoon chia seeds
•    1 teaspoon flax meal
~Blend until smooth and enjoy drinking super!

Recipe courtesy of Helen Agresti, RD. 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. For more information and recipes, go to

Black Bean Dip by Samantha Lynch MS RD

Oil Free Black Bean Dip
Makes 2 cups

•    2 cups cooked black beans or 15oz can black beans (rinsed)
•    1/2 cup low sodium vegetables broth
•    1/4 cup almond milk
•    1/2 tsp cumin
•    1/2 tsp chili powder
•    1 large garlic clove minced

•    Put all the ingredients in a blender, vitamin or food processor.
•    Blend until smooth.

This dip should last a couple weeks in the fridge or could even be frozen.

Recipe courtesy of Samantha Lynch MS RD. Samantha Lynch is a registered dietician who caters to everyone from athletes and celebrities to students and stay-at-home moms. Based in Manhattan, she holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. After graduating in 2009, she started her own nutrition counseling practice to fulfill her dream of helping people live longer, happier and more energetic lives.

Is Your Smoothie Nutritious? by Laura Maydak

How to Make a Nutritionally Balanced Smoothie

Smoothies are delicious, fast, and nutritious meals on the go – when made correctly.  It’s important to remember that meals, whether served on a plate or in a glass, should be nutritionally balanced.  So, while an all-fruit smoothie may make your taste buds happy, the lack of protein and fat will leave your stomach unsatisfied.

Luckily, making a nutritionally balanced smoothie is simple – just follow these six steps, and you’ll have a healthy and satisfying meal on the go:

1. Choose a Base (1 – 2 cups):
100% Fruit juice, almond milk, brewed tea, coconut water, milk, rice beverage, soy milk, water

2. Choose a Fruit (1 – 2 cups):
Apple, banana, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, kiwi, mango, melon, oranges, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries

3. Choose a Vegetable (1 – 2 cups):
Beet greens, butternut squash, carrots, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, kale, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato

4. Choose a Protein (Amount varies):
Cottage cheese, greek yogurt, protein powder, silken tofu

5. Choose a Healthy Fat (Amount varies):
Avocado (¼ avocado), chia seeds (1–2 Tbsp), chopped nuts (1/8 cup), ground flax seeds (1–2 Tbsp), hemp seeds (1–2 Tbsp), nut butter (1 Tbsp)

6. Give it a Boost (Amount varies):
Cocoa powder, fish oil, flavor extracts (vanilla, almond, mint, etc), herbs and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, etc.), ice, wheat germ

Extra Tips:
- If you’re making a post-workout smoothie, aim for a ratio of 3:1 to 4:1 carbohydrates to protein – this is optimal for recovery.
- If you use frozen fruit, purchase varieties with no added sugar.

- Be aware of the fat content of your liquid base and protein – try to choose low fat or no fat varieties.
- You can adjust the consistency of the smoothie by adding more liquid or using less dense fruits and vegetables.

Be creative!  This formula guarantees a nutritionally balanced smoothie – so throw your taste buds some (delicious) curve balls!

Laura is currently a graduate student in the University of Pittsburgh’s Coordinated Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics program on her way to become a registered dietitian.  Connect with Laura on LinkedIn or on twitter (@lmaydak) for motivation and tips to live your healthiest, happiest life – all given with a healthy dose of humor.

Green Chocolate Pudding by Shirley Plant

Healthy Green Chocolate Pudding (Dairy Free, Sugar Free)

Looking for an easy, healthy and refreshing snack?
1 banana
1 avocado
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3/4 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Cacao Nibs

Mix all ingredients except nibs in a food processor or blender until smooth. Spoon into a dish and add cocoa nibs to the top.

Recipe by Shirley Plant- Nutrition Coach and Author of Finally Food I Can Eat Follow her on Twitter via @sherrecipes

No-Bake Snack Bars by Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, CSSD

These no-bake bars are quick to prepare and make a great snack!

1 cup rice cereal (such as Rice-Krispies or equivalent)
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats (whole or ground in food chopper)
1/3 cup nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut, etc)
¼ cup chopped dried fruit (your choice)
¼ cup chopped nuts (walnuts & almonds work great but use what you like)
¼ cup brown rice syrup (or honey or molasses)
1 Tbsp honey (save for the end)
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

To Prepare:
1. In a large bowl, combine the rice cereal, oats, flax, cinnamon, dried fruit and nuts. Mix well. A large bowl is recommended because you will need extra room for when the other ingredients are combined later.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the syrup & brown sugar to a boil (stir constantly); remove from heat.  Stir in the nut butter and vanilla.
3. Pour the hot nut butter mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring well (mixture will be thick.) Use a piece of wax paper to press the mixture into an 11 x 9” pan (that has been sprayed with cooking spray.)
4. Let cool.
5. Drizzle the 1 Tbsp of honey over the top of the pressed, cooled mixture. Cut into 12 bars.
6. Wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap.  Store in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes 12 bars. Each bar contains 140 calories, 6g Total Fat, 19g Total Carbohydrate, 4g Protein.

Heather Mangieri is a national media spokesperson, registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition CheckUp in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information visit You can follow Heather on Twitter @nutritioncheck and join her Facebook community.

Figure Friendly Snack Ideas by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Snacking can either slim down or inflate our waistlines.  Portion control, timing and composition of snacks are essential.  Snacks should be between 100-200 calories. Consistency is key.  Try to eat your healthy snack within the same hour every day.  If you need fuel after a vigorous workout, be sure to eat within 20-40 minutes in order to prevent the break down of lean body mass.  Choose foods that contain protein, fiber and carbohydrates.  Eating well-balanced snacks will ensure our waistlines stay slim and trim!

Figure Friendly Snack ideas:

If you’re in need of some crunch…Sugar Snap Peas are the perfect substitute for chips and a lot more nutritious. They’re rich in iron, fiber, and vitamins C, K, and B6. Pair them with hummus or enjoy them solo.

Toasted whole grain Flatbread and Chipotle Hummus.  It’s a great source of protein and fiber. Adding a little “heat” to snacks helps ignite the metabolism.

Part skim Ricotta Cheese on a slice of whole grain Toast sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg and berries. This is a fun and easy snack to make with kids.  They love to spread, sprinkle and build.

Lightly salted Pistachios travel well.  They’re a wonderful source of B vitamins, protein and fiber.  Most importantly, they’re known for melting away belly fat.

Apple slices wrapped in thin layers of Provolone Cheese offer a sweet and salty taste.  It’s a great afterschool snack that provides vitamin C, protein, and fiber.

Healthy and Happy Snacking!

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

Pre-Workout Snacks by Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, CSSD

“What should I eat before I work out?”  

Eating before meals, as opposed to skipping meals has been show to improve performance. The goal of the pre-workout meal/snack is to provide fuel for your workout, guaranteeing that you’re neither hungry nor left exercising with a large quantity of undigested food in the stomach.

The best pre-workout snack will depend on a few things:

Individual Goals- weight loss, fat losses, gain strength, improve speed, etc.
Duration of Exercise- 30 minute workout versus a 3 hour workout
Intensity of Exercise- high intensity (can’t talk) vs. low intensity (can carry on a conversation)
Type of Exercise-strength versus endurance
Individual Level of Training- novice versus elite athlete

Many of my clients tell me they prefer to work out on an empty stomach. If your goal is only to burn calories or lose weight, that might actually work. But if your goal is to get faster, stronger, build muscle or perform better, it’s time to start focusing on a pre-workout nutrition plan.

To gain a performance benefit, here are some general guidelines when choosing a pre-workout snack:

-High in carbohydrates such as whole grain breads, pasta, tortillas, rice, cereals, fruits and vegetables. Eating carb-rich foods before you exercise can help supply energy, and maximize muscle glycogen stores.

-Small amount of protein.

-Keep the pre-workout meal low in fat and fiber. Meals high in fat and fiber take longer to digest, which may cause fullness and other GI (gastrointestinal issues) such as nausea, bloating, cramping and general discomfort.

-Hydrating foods are great to provide some additional fluid. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, smoothies and yogurt make good options.

When exercising in extreme conditions or for long duration, choosing salty foods will help prevent sodium depletion. Good choices are chicken broth, pickles, olives or pretzels.

Most athletes don’t like to exercise with a belly full of food, nor do I recommend it. When it comes to portion size, the closer you are to the workout, the less food you consume. The more time that’s available the more food you consume. For higher intensity workouts, be sure to leave more time for digestion. If you hit the gym before breakfast, try eating something small, such as a banana or another easily digestible carbohydrate, 30 minutes before you start. But be sure to have a balanced breakfast as soon as your workout ends. If you know your stomach can’t handle solid food before a workout, opt for a smoothie or sports drink for the added carbohydrates.

We’re all different when it comes to the types of food we tolerate before exercise and the amount of food we eat will also vary based on our individual needs. It’s important to practice pre-workout fueling until you learn what works for you.

Example of pre-workout snacks (1-2 hours before a workout):

1/2 turkey sandwich with an orange
Yogurt with a few crushed almonds & dried fruits
Cereal with milk
Toast, bagel or English muffin with nut butter and jelly
1/2 PB & J sandwich
3-4 fig Newton’s or other small low-fat granola bar

Remember that we all need different amounts of food. If you need help determining your own individual needs, consider consulting a sports dietitian. Check out to help locate a sports dietitian near you.

Heather Mangieri is a national media spokesperson, registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition CheckUp in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information visit You can follow Heather on Twitter @nutritioncheck and join her facebook community at