June 18, 2024

Escarole, Kale and Sweet Potato Crock-Pot Soup by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Escarole, Kale, and Sweet Potato Crock-Pot Soup

This time of year brings cooler weather and warm comfort food.

This hearty soup recipe is just that.  I took traditional escarole and bean soup and increased its nutrient power by adding kale and sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes add fiber, calcium, and iron.  They also give us a boost of vitamins A and C, which is much needed during flu season.   Sweet potatoes may even help regulate blood sugar levels.  Kale is a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that make this soup even more nutritious.  For those that like a little more protein in their meals, I also added lean Italian turkey sausage.  The turkey sausage provides a nice balance of flavors and satiety to an easy family meal.



(10-12 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Parmigiano reggiano rind
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 (32 oz.) boxes organic chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 4 cups escarole, chopped
  • 4 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound Italian turkey sausage (optional)



1. Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a warm crock-pot.  Add the parm rind and garlic.

2. Place the sweet potatoes in the crock-pot, season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the remaining ingredients.

4. Set crock-pot on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 6+ hours.

5. Ladle soup into bowls and top with whole grain crostini.


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.


Marinated Grilled Asparagus by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Marinated Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus is a powerhouse vegetable that makes any dish look and taste elegantly delicious.  It is nutrient dense in fiber, folate, and iron.  Asparagus is also a natural diuretic and a wonderful detoxifier for the body.  Many people are surprised to learn that asparagus is a prebiotic that supports the healthy bacteria in our digestive tract.  This heart healthy vegetable is also a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and K.  Asparagus is easy to cook on the grill.  And it is incredibly flavorful after it is marinated.  Feeling bloated?  Chew on this!

•    10-12 asparagus spears, washed and bases trimmed
•    ½ c low sodium soy sauce
•    1 tablespoon extra virgin oil
•    2 teaspoons honey
•    ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
•     ¼ teaspoon sea salt
•    6 skewers

1. Marinate the asparagus in a ziploc bag for 1 hour or longer.
2. Soak skewers in cold water for 15 minutes.
3. Thread together 4 asparagus spears (top and bottom portions of the vegetable) using two skewers.
4. Spray grill generously with no-stick cooking spray.
5. Grill on medium-high heat for 6-7 minutes or until tender. Rotate using tongs to ensure they are evenly cooked.
6. Serve warm with your favorite entree

Recipe courtesy of Helen Agresti, RD. Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC, www.pronutritionconsulting.com. 

NEW! Check out Helen’s new app: The 24_7 Dietitian app will be launched mid-June, download is free, and it will be iOS and Android friendly.  It is a healthy extension of Pro Nutrition’s passion of helping people achieve their weight loss goals by living a more nutritious and healthy lifestyle.  The 24_7 Dietitian app will allow users to journal and track  their nutrition and fitness goals, post questions and pictures, and most importantly have the ability to have personal nutrition coaching anytime of the day (for a monthly fee of $20). Follow her on Twitter @24_7dietitian and on Instagram.


Not just for breakfast…Strawberry Banana Oat Pancakes by Helen Agresti

Strawberry Banana Oat Pancakes

Breakfast is our favorite meal of the day. Therefore, I’m super excited to share our latest healthy pancake recipe with you. I couldn’t resist adding my usual go-to healthy ingredients.  I included oats, chia seeds, and flax meal for additional fiber and Omega 3′s.  The egg whites and unsweetened almond milk provide an extra boost of protein.  These healthy and scrumptious pancakes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks.

(makes 10 pancakes)
1. ½ c whole-wheat flour
2. ¾ c old fashioned oats
3. 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
4. 1 teaspoon baking powder
5. ½ teaspoon baking soda
6. 1 ¼ c almond milk, unsweetened vanilla
7. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8. ¼ teaspoon salt
9. 1 teaspoon chia
10. 1 teaspoon flax meal
11. 4-5 fresh strawberries, sliced
12. 1 banana, sliced

1. In a medium size-mixing bowl, add the first 10 ingredients and mix with an immersion blender until smooth.
2. Heat griddle on medium heat, lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Pour ¼ c of batter per pancake onto griddle.  Add a few slices of bananas and strawberries prior to flipping (cook 2-3 minutes on each side).
4. Top with leftover banana and strawberry slices (or any other fruit on hand). Then, lightly drizzle with maple syrup.

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 www.pronutritionconsulting.com

Build a Simple, Satisfying Salad by Laura Maydak

Build a Simple, Satisfying Salad (& Examples to Get You Started):

It’s time to end your love-hate relationship with salads.  Learn to find the right balance between flavor and nutrition by following these tips:

1. Choose a Leafy Base (at least 2 cups)
- Darker greens are more nutritionally dense.  While iceberg lettuce isn’t bad, you get more nutritional bang per bite with darker greens.

2. Choose a Lean Protein (3 – 4 oz)
- Prepare your protein in a healthy way (grilling vs. frying), and don’t forget vegetarian sources – use these proteins alone or in combination.

3. Choose a Healthy Fat (1-2 serving – amounts vary by ingredient)
- Certain vitamins and phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables need fat for absorption – so don’t leave it out!  Keep serving size in mind, though – more isn’t necessarily better.

4. Bulk it Up with Fruits and Vegetables
- Pump up your salad’s color, volume, and nutritional value – just be cautious of the serving sizes for starchier vegetables.

5. Jazz it Up
- These toppings aren’t necessary, but they add extra flavor.  Some are higher in carbohydrates and fat than others – so consider your needs, and choose portions wisely.

6. Dress it Up
- Use citrus juice, vinegar, or olive oil-vinegar mix.  If using store-bought dressings, read the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredients to choose the best option.

Here are some examples to get you started:

- Base: Romaine
- Protein: Black beans and/or grilled chicken
- Healthy Fat: Avocado or olive oil-based dressing
- Bulk it Up: Carrots, corn, onions, peppers, tomatoes
- Jazz it Up: Cilantro, low-fat cheese
- Dress it Up: Lemon or lime juice (Bonus: This will help keep the avocado from browning!) or olive oil-based dressing

- Base: Mixed greens
- Protein: Chickpeas, tuna or salmon (Bonus: Fatty fish double as a protein and healthy fat)
- Healthy Fat: Fatty fish, olives, olive oil-based dressing
- Bulk it Up: Artichoke hearts, cucumber, peppers, red onion, tomatoes
- Jazz it Up: Low-fat/fat-free feta cheese, whole-wheat orzo
- Dress it Up: Vinegar or olive oil-based dressing

Roasted Vegetable:
- Base: Kale
- Protein: Grilled chicken or tofu
- Healthy Fat: Olive oil-based dressing or walnuts
- Bulk it Up: Roasted – Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes
- Jazz it Up: Low-fat cheese, wheat berries
- Dress it up: Lemon juice or olive oil-based dressing

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.

Post-Workout Power Parfait by Helen Agresti, R.D.

Mango Pineapple Power Parfait

Replenishing after a workout with nutrient-rich complex carbohydrates is essential for building lean body mass.  The fruit and granola that are in this parfait recipe will do just that!  Timing is key when it comes to refueling after exercising.  Consuming a protein and carbohydrate rich snack within 40 minutes of a moderate to high intensity workout will replenish energy stores and prevent muscle mass from breaking down.  I topped this parfait with chia seeds for additional fiber and to promote a healthy balance in blood sugar levels.

In a parfait glass layer…
1. fresh mango
2. plain greek yogurt
3. all natural granola
4. fresh pineapple
5. plain greek yogurt
6. fresh mango
7. all natural granola
8. Top with a dollop of greek yogurt and chia seeds.

Replenish, Rebuild, and Enjoy Eating Healthy!

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 www.pronutritionconsulting.com

Peppered Pear Arugula Salad by Helen Agresti, RD

Peppered Pear Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Pears are nutritionally beneficial to many snacks, meals, and desserts.  Pears are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins B2, C, and E.  They’re also rich in Copper and Potassium.  This Peppered Pear salad is deliciously pretty and easy to make.  The peppery taste of the pears compliments the arugula perfectly and the lemon vinaigrette adds a refreshing twist.

*If you’d like to add more protein, top it off with grilled chicken or pine nuts.

(1 serving)
•    2 c arugula
•    1 Bartlett pear, sliced
•    2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
•    2 teaspoons pine nuts
•    ground black pepper, to taste
•    1 tablespoon lemon vinaigrette

In a salad bowl, place pears on top of arugula.  Sprinkle ground pepper on pears.  Add feta, pine nuts and dressing.

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 www.pronutritionconsulting.com

Need a new dinner recipe?

Need a new, healthy, EASY, go-to dinner recipe? Give this healthy, simple Curry Chicken recipe a try.


Curry Chicken



1 lb organic boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp curry powder
¾ cup carrots, diced
1 cup frozen peas
2 cup chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk ( from a can)

Ready to eat in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Heat oil in an oven proof pot. Brown chicken on all sides.

Step 2: Add in onions, garlic, curry, carrots and saute for a few minutes. Add in chicken stock, bring to a boil then let simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Add in coconut milk, salt pepper, peas. Let simmer for 15 minutes and serve!

Recipe by Shirley Plant- Nutrition Coach and Author of Finally Food I Can Eat
www.deliciousalternatives.com. 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 nutritioncheckup.com. You can follow Heather on Twitter @nutritioncheck and join her Facebook community.

Watermelon Gazpacho by Samantha Lynch MS RD

Are you looking for an easy, healthy and fresh meal to prepare this weekend? Here’s your no-fuss, full of flavor and nutrients, easy-prep meal solution!

Watermelon Gazpacho Recipe



8 cups finely diced seedless watermelon, (about 6 pounds with the rind) (see Tips
18 large shrimp deveined and shelled (3 shrimp/serving)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

Mix watermelon, cucumber, bell pepper, basil, parsley, vinegar, shallot, oil and salt in a large bowl. Puree entire mixture in a blender or food processor to the desired smoothness; transfer to another large bowl and place in refrigerator. Lightly toss shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on the grill. Once cooked add to soup with 1 Tbsp crumbled feta on top. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Can be made ahead of time and kept in refrigerator covered for up to 1 day.

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.  www.SamanthaLynchNutrition.com

Brain Super Foods by Maggie Ayre

The Top Brain Super Foods and a Brain Boosting Recipe

Can you believe it’s nearly spring?  Before we know it the school summer term will be here and children throughout the northern hemisphere will be studying for exams.

Whilst study and revision time is important for securing good grades many experts now agree that what we eat and how much we move also play an important role.

Here are the top three areas of brain super foods:

1.    Healthy oils – foods such as oily fish, avocado, hemp, flax and fish oils contain the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA which have proven very beneficial to the workings of the brain.  Unfortunately the western diet tends to be very rich in omega 6 fatty acids which the brain makes use of in the absence of omega 3.  It tends to be a bit like a diesel car trying to run on unleaded petrol, OK in the short term but with long term problems developing.
2.    Water – our brains are 75% water.  We must keep them properly hydrated to enable them to work at their best.
3.    Blueberries – these little berries are little power houses of brain goodness.  They are full of healthy antioxidants and packed with vitamin C.  They have been proven to help with memory and cognitive function.

Here’s a Brain Super Food recipe to get you started:

Banana and Peanut Butter Flapjack
Makes about 12

3.5oz/100g organic butter
1.75oz/50g soft brown sugar
1.75oz/50g honey
1 banana – mashed
1.75oz/50g no added sugar crunchy peanut butter
8oz/225g porridge oats

Preheat the oven to 320F/160C.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the sugar, honey and peanut butter and cook until softened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the banana and porridge oats.

Turn into a greased and lined cake tin.  Push into corners with a spoon.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Mark into rectangles and leave to cool before lifting out.

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.