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Easy-Peasy Rhubarb & Strawberry Crunch


A little piece of trivia – rhubarb is actually a vegetable. However, in the kitchen it is usually prepared as a fruit, and because of it’s tart flavor, rhubarb is often cooked with sugar and used in pies or other desserts.

Growing up in the Midwest, rhubarb (being a perennial), seemed to grow everywhere. We’d snap off a piece and enjoy the raw, tart, crisp stalks alone or dipped in a little sugar! Of course, there’s countless versions of recipes for rhubarb crisp, rhubarb and apple crumble, and my mom’s absolutely delicious recipe for rhubarb crunch (pictured below) that we enjoyed during those summer months!

rhubarb crunch

I just love these handwritten recipes – especially the ones from my mom!!

Recently, I was trying to find a “lower sugar” version of a rhubarb recipe, and everything I found just seemed a bit disappointing (in my opinion) – not something I’d feel proud serving for company, which is kind of a litmus test for me.

So I decided to do a little experimenting and came up with the following recipe. Since I typically don’t enjoy food substitutions or versions of dessert recipes that are tweaked to be “healthy” (they leave me a bit dissatisfied which is not the point of dessert), I was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out.

In some recipes, ingredients like sugar (or even salt) actually overpower the flavor of the food it’s added to. In fact, we’ve become a bit “used to” this level of sweetness or seasoning – and have come to expect it. As I’ve said before, we don’t need to “cut sugar out” of the diet, but we do need to recognize when we are missing out on the natural flavor of food because it’s masked or covered up by these highly palatable ingredients.

Therefore, preparing this recipe with less sugar seemingly highlights the deliciousness of the unique, tart flavor of the rhubarb and it doesn’t seem like a compromise on flavor. And…the crunch and light sweetness of the topping was accented with the addition of the walnuts. Absolutely delicious!

So, it passed my litmus test and I would definitely serve this for my guests!

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crunch

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Rhubarb is a nutritious addition to many recipes. Typically baked with a lot of sugar to balance its tartness, this rhubarb recipe has just the right amount of sweetness from the strawberries and honey, so it’s a delicious treat, but not too much so you can still enjoy the tang of the rhubarb!


  • 4 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb**
  • 1-pint strawberries hulled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup flour (can substitute with whole wheat or almond flour)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup butter, softened


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the rhubarb, strawberries and honey. Transfer to a shallow baking dish, i.e. 8 x 8
  3. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix in butter with fork until crumbly and spread over top of the fruit.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, until rhubarb is tender and the topping is toasted.

 Note: if using frozen rhubarb, thaw according to package directions. Consider adding about 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch to the rhubarb, honey and strawberry mixture.

shutterstock_rhubarb and strawberry crisp

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Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Bread

It’s that time of year for pulling out those beloved family recipes. This is a family favorite, not only because of the seasonal deliciousness of pumpkin and spices, but because it’s quick and easy to prepare! All you need is a bowl, spoon and pans for baking – and having some kids around who can just pour and stir is a bonus. With holiday gatherings approaching, this recipe is a plus as it makes TWO loaves – so you can enjoy one and freeze the other.

Pumpkin bread

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • (1) 16 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease and flour (2) 5x9x3-inch loaf pans
  3. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and baking powder.
  4. Add pumpkin, oil, eggs and nuts to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened and mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour into prepared pans.
  6. Bake 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes clean.
  7. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Wrap in plastic, then aluminum foil and store in refrigerator or may also be frozen for later use.




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CSA Cooking: Summer Veggie Stir Fry



I grew up with a small garden that my parents tended to every year. Each summer we had fresh veggies right out the back door – carrots, leafy greens, kohlrabi, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers.  Looking back, I truly took it for granted. The food was fresh, flavorful and we ate all summer from our garden. Where I live now, unfortunately I do not have the space for a garden – but the real reason is that I’m a horrible gardener! I can hardly keep my summer flowers alive, let alone tend to a garden in a respectable way. But I miss so much those fresh, seasonal veggies.

Therefore, the reason I’m trying out a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture program – for the first time this year. The way it works is that early in the spring consumers (members) “invest” in the farm for a “share” of the harvest. According to Pahl’s Market, the farm I participate with, the advantages of joining a CSA are:

“Farmers get to spend time marketing the food early in the year before their 16 hour days in the field begin.  They also have the unique opportunity to meet the people who eat the food they grow.

Customers get to eat ultra-fresh food with all the flavor and vitamin benefits.  Customers also get exposure to new vegetables and new ways of cooking.  CSA members develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learns more about how their food is grown.  In addition, members also have the opportunity to visit the farm and share in harvest events.” 

I have to admit it has taken some adjustment. For example, I’m such a creature of habit and regularly do my meal planning and grocery shopping at the beginning of the week. So, it caught me off guard when food I hadn’t planned for was coming into the home mid-week (I pick up my share every Wednesday). We don’t find out what produce will be in our share until the night before so I’m practicing some spontaneity and flexibility with my meal planning and cooking habits. And, what a treat it has been! In one of my first boxes, we got kohlrabi. Yum! I don’t think I’ve had this vegetable since I lived at my home in Nebraska – so over 30+ years ago! Not quite sure why I haven’t bought this in the grocery store over the years, but when it’s ready to picked and harvested, that’s what you eat!

So, now my meal planning is at the mercy of what the farmer harvests that week, which brings me to my CSA Summer Veggie Stir Fry. I recently received such a bounty of leafy greens, lovely beets and some gorgeous scallions. Right away I couldn’t wait to make the following recipe.

I have to give credit for this stir fry to Nadia Giordana who demonstrated it on the talk show, “It’s a Woman’s World,”  that I was a guest on earlier this week. Her veggies were a little different (based on what was fresh from her garden), but the idea is hers!

CSA Summer Veggie Stir Fry

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, flavorful and nutritious recipe perfect with any of your favorite summer vegetables.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cups chopped mixed summer vegetables (pictured in this recipe are red beets, thinly sliced, Tuscan and curly kale,  green beans and yellow wax beans – but whatever you have on hand will work!)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions and garlic and lightly saute (about 1-2 minutes).
  2. Add beans, beets, and other vegetables that require a longer cooking time, and stir fry approximately 3-4 minutes. Add leafy greens and cook another 1-2 minutes longer.
  3. Stir in cooked quinoa
  4. Drizzle in sesame oil and soy sauce and stir until ingredients are combined. If desired, season lightly with salt and pepper – but taste first because it may not need it!
  5. Enjoy!


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Shamrock Shake (that doesn’t taste like a shamrock!)

IMG_9595There are many recipes for “green smoothies”. However, it seems they are either loaded with extra calories and sugar (to sweeten them up) or they taste like, well you know, something green. An added bonus for athletes is this recipe features Tart Cherry Juice concentrate, known for its anti-inflammatory and melatonin properties.


1 scoop (31 grams) vanilla protein powder or 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt   

1 cup milk (your choice…cow, soy, almond, coconut, etc.)

2 cups fresh spinach leaves

1 ounce Tart Cherry juice concentrate

1 cup chopped ice


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.


* Note: Tart cherry juice is either available in a concentrate or 8 ounce “juice” serving. The juice is from a specific variety of sour cherries (prunus cerasus) and include the Montgomery or Morello Cherry. The tart cherry has received a lot of press over the past few years as a powerful anti-inflammatory and natural sleep aid.  

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What’s on Your “Day After” Thanksgiving Day Menu

The Thanksgiving Day feast is right around the corner! Just the thought of some of our favorite seasonal foods and heirloom recipes can make the mouth water. For some, the plan is to just throw caution to the wind and enjoy this ONE day of feasting. Not a bad idea. But, what about the next day? What about those leftovers?

Whether your plan is to practice some moderate restraint or throw caution to the wind at holiday meals or events, many people struggle to get back on track with their usual diet the day after the big meal.

Too often one day of indulgence seems to turn into a downward spiral of over-eating that culminates on January 2. My recommendation is to plan for the day after. What’s on your menu for the Friday after Thanksgiving or the big holiday party? Instead of diving into plates filled with leftovers of carb-laden goodness in the days that follow your holiday event, consider planning out your meals for the following week. Add plenty of wholesome fruits and veggies to your shopping list while being mindful of including a selection of some of your Thanksgiving day foods to your meals, such as adding leftover turkey to a colorful salad or paring leftover cranberry salad and green beans with grilled salmon.

The recipe that follows is a wonderful example of a flavorful and nutritious salad that you can “look forward to” even after the big feast!

Pomegranate, Pear and Walnut Salad

shutterstock_pomegranate salad cropped

This gorgeous salad is loaded with seasonal favorites – pomegranate seeds, pears and cranberries. Enjoy as a tasty side dish to any meal or add in some leftover Thanksgiving day turkey or roasted chicken for a great entree salad.

Main Ingredients:

  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 ounces goat or blue cheese, crumbled


  • 2 tbsp pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Dash pepper


  1. Combine greens in large bowl with other main ingredients.
  2. In small bowl, combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk to blend. Drizzle over salad, toss to combine.
  3. Optional: add chopped chicken breast or leftover turkey for a wonderful entree salad.

Yield: 6 servings

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Breakfast for Champions!

BreakfastPlenty of research demonstrates that a healthy, balanced breakfast has many benefits (i.e. better weight management and increased focus and concentration are a couple).  If you aren’t convinced, read “Reasons to Not Skip Breakfast”.

This is especially true for the student athlete, who typically endures a long, demanding school day, with limited opportunities for fueling before a rigorous afternoon training or workout.

Unfortunately, there are 3 potential pitfalls for student athletes who skip or skimp on breakfast: 

1) Athletes have higher cravings for sweets (a sign that your body is too hungry) and seek out candy or other less healthy sources of quick energy before practice.

2) A cycle of under-eating and over-eating results in the majority of the athlete’s calories being consumed in 1 or 2 meals, late in the day, versus the recommended 4-5 meals throughout the most active time of day. This pattern is very hard on the body resulting in increased cravings, compromised immune health, more fatigue, disruption of sleep, and increased storage of visceral fat (unhealthy fat stores around organ tissues).

3) Decreased endurance and stamina during afternoon practices resulting in less than ideal performance.  Athletes who are well-fueled with breakfast, lunch and a pre-exercise snack have better mental focus, balance, and overall performance.

So, for those who want the benefits from a wholesome breakfast, but aren’t sure what to eat or struggle with time in the morning, check out these simple tips and recipes to get you on the road to success.

3 basic ingredients for a balanced breakfast: 1) Protein, 2) Complex carbohydrate, and 3) Healthy fat

 Protein, such as eggs, yogurt, lean meats, fish, cheese, and nuts, at breakfast is vital for overall growth and repair of muscle tissue, while also helping slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and keeping you satisfied until the next meal event.

Complex carbohydrates include foods such as oatmeal, whole grain breads, quinoa, fruit and vegetables. Try to avoid highly processed foods (things with more than 5 ingredients on the label) as they can lead to increased cravings before the next meal or snack.  I also recommend including a fruit or vegetable when choosing oatmeal or other wholesome grains at breakfast because fruit and veggies are natural sources of anti-inflammatory chemicals, called antioxidants.  Foods with anti-inflammatory properties are crucial for athletes to consume at each meal as they help manage the stress of exercise. So, as the saying goes, “Get some color on your plate!”

Healthy fats include nuts and seeds (specifically walnuts, almonds, and chia, sunflower or ground flax seed), nut butters, avocado, canola oil, olive oil, etc.  Common toppings for breakfast foods often include butter, cream cheese, etc. These are also acceptable in moderation. Include a variety of fats in your weekly breakfast meals as they add flavor, increase satiety, and you will be adding important vitamins, such as vitamin E – also a powerful antioxidant!

Check out the “Sample Meals” and “20 Easy and Quick Breakfast Ideas” below for simple examples of incorporating these 3 important nutrients in your breakfast:

Sample Meals:

Protein Complex Carbohydrate Healthy Fat
6 oz. Greek yogurt ½ whole wheat bagel                  ½ cup mixed berries 1 Tbsp nut butter
Hard boiled egg ½ cup cooked oatmeal                ½ small banana 1 Tbsp walnuts
1-2 eggs scrambled 1 slice whole wheat toast              1 cup spinach 1 tsp. butter
Smoothie:  1 scoop whey protein powder                                            1 cup milk 1 cup frozen berries 1 Tbsp ground flax or chia seeds

20 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas:

Smoothies that satisfy!  It seems everyone has their favorite smoothie recipe. Smoothies can be very quick, nutritious, and flavorful but to ensure your savory concoction keeps you satisfied without excessive calories, consider these tips: 1) combine 1-2 servings of fruit and/or veggies with a liquid (milk, water, juice, coconut water); 2) add a source of protein (Greek yogurt, protein powder, peanut butter); and 3) maybe a couple extras (ground flax, chia seeds, nuts, or spices).  Just in case you don’t have your own favorite recipe, here are a couple quick and easy ideas.

  1. Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie.  Blend 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup frozen fruit (banana and berries work very well) and 1/2 cup liquid (milk, juice, coconut water, etc.). Freeze overnight and thaw throughout the day to enjoy in the afternoon, or blend up in the morning.
  2. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. Blend 1 small frozen banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 cup milk, and 1 cup crushed ice (option – add 1 scoop chocolate whey protein).
  3. CIB Smoothie. For an extra boost of calcium and protein, combine one packet of Carnation Instant Breakfast with 1 cup milk. Add 2 Tbsp. peanut butter and one small ripe banana. Blend with crushed ice.
  4. Tart CherryBerry and Kale Smoothie. Feeling sore and tired? Try adding this smoothie that uses Tart Cherry Juice, known for its benefits of fighting inflammation and aiding in sleep. Start by liquefying ½ cup 100% tart cherry juice blended with handful baby kale. Add 1 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1 cup frozen berries. This recipe uses Tart Cherry Juice available at a variety of health food stores, such as Trader Joes.

iStock_cherry smoothie

Yummy Yogurt.  Yogurt is great for breakfast because it’s easy to grab and packed with protein to help you stay satisfied longer. Try some of these tasty variations to ensure your breakfast is easy…and well-balanced.

  1. Yogurt Parfait. This is one of the easiest breakfasts that provide a great balance of protein and carbohydrates for athletes on the go. Choose a variety of toppings, such as ¼ cup unsweetened granola, 1 tbsp chopped almonds and 1 cup frozen berries. Try choosing fruits that are in season, such as yummy, sweet berries in the summer, flavorful apples or a dollop of pumpkin puree come fall.
  2. Tropical Yogurt Parfait. Top vanilla or plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup crushed canned pineapple (drained) and ½ sliced banana. If using plain, unsweetened yogurt, you may want to drizzle with a couple teaspoons of honey and top with shredded raw coconut.

Eggs…not just for the weekend.  For many, the idea of an egg breakfast and “eating on the run” doesn’t seem to go together. Considering that eggs are the highest quality protein…and very cost effective, it’s worth it to experiment with some of these quick and easy ideas to start your day off right.

  1. Microwaved Scrambled Eggs With Veggies. Yes, it is possible to make really good eggs in the microwave. And it’s easy! Beat 2 eggs, throw in a microwave-safe container, add 1 handful of your favorite veggies (spinach leaves, mushrooms, onions, cherry tomatoes are a few ideas), and a sprinkle of cheese. Zap the mixture for 30 seconds, stir, and cook another 30 seconds, or until eggs are solid. Prep the night by storing the raw mixture in a fridge until ready to heat and eat in the morning.
  2. Breakfast Burrito.Breakfast burritos are full of good nutrition and easy to grab and go. Scramble 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup black beans, 2 tablespoons salsa, and 2 tablespoons shredded cheese, and wrap in 1 small whole-wheat tortilla. Make ahead by preparing a few at a time, wrap in foil, and keep in the freezer until ready to reheat.
  3. Super Special Scrambled eggs.  This tasty breakfast is packed with good nutrition for the stressed athlete! Simply lightly sauté handful of spinach with 1 ounce smoked salmon. Toss in 1-2 beaten eggs with the spinach mixture and cook through. If desired, melt in ½ Tbsp. cream cheese and season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve on top of lightly toasted whole grain baguette – Yum!!
  4. Egg Sandwich.  Who doesn’t love a classic egg sandwich? I remember my father-in-law adding a dollop of salsa to his! So use your creativity with this one. Simply prepare 1-2 eggs to your liking. Place between 2 whole-wheat English muffin halves (or toast) with 1 slice of cheddar cheese. Pile on some veggies or salsa, if you wish. Wrap in foil so the cheese melts evenly, and enjoy!
  5. Egg Muffins.  Another great do-ahead that is easy to heat up before running out the door. Simply beat 10 eggs, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 3 handfuls of spinach, 1 shredded zucchini, 1/2 a bell pepper (chopped), 4 slices cooked bacon or ham, chopped, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Divide egg mixture evenly in a greased muffin tin, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 F. Store in refrigerator or freezer. Zap it for a few seconds in the microwave before serving. (See another recipe featured below)

Muffin MadnessMuffins seem to get a bad rap for being only these sweet, carb-laden morsels of goodness. Well, as I like to say, you can have your “muffin” and be healthy too. Home baked muffins made with a variety of wholesome, natural whole grains can be a great way to manage portions and get high quality nutrition on the go.

  1. Pumpkin protein muffins with oatmeal.  These muffins are packed with a healthy balance of whole grain carbohydrates along with protein to make a perfect morning breakfast or snack. Make a batch the night before and zap in the morning for a warm, tasty meal. (See recipe below)
  2. Whole-Wheat Banana Muffins. These hearty, wholesome muffins were developed by one of my dietetic interns and make the perfect portable breakfast. The Greek yogurt allows for a slight reduction in fat, while adding a punch of protein. (See recipe below)
  3. Zucchini Muffins.  Make a batch of your favorite zucchini bread or muffins to easily fit a serving of veggies into a delicious baked goods. Toss in some ground flax for a healthy dose of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. Raisin Bran Microwave Muffins. One of my favorite things for breakfast as a kid was these easy muffins from the microwave. Yup, muffins in the microwave! Prepare the batter ahead of time and leave in refrigerator. Scoop batter into ramekin or muffin cup and microwave on high for 1 minute, remove to take a look, and keep cooking for 30 seconds at a time until the muffin looks firm.  (See recipe below)

pumpkin protein muffins with oatmeal

Hearty & Hot Cereals!  These recipes use a couple of nature’s most wholesome energy boosters – quinoa and oatmeal.  Both are full of natural goodness with quinoa providing a complete protein, essential for tissue growth and repair; and, oatmeal delivers a great source of soluble fiber for improving satiety as well as offering a number of important health benefits.

  1. Fruity Breakfast Quinoa. Simply prepare quinoa according to package directions, substituting milk for water. Add your favorite spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice. Top with fresh berries and chopped almonds.
  2. Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal. Skip the pumpkin spice latte and enjoy a more wholesome autumn treat for breakfast. Simply prepare quick oats in the microwave according to package directions adding a heaping dollop of pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and low-fat milk or almond milk. If desired, drizzle with a couple teaspoons of maple syrup or brown sugar and walnuts for a quick and easy breakfast before heading out the door.
  3. Overnight Oats.This popular Pinterest pin makes a lot of sense for anyone who really has no time for messing around in the kitchen in the morning. The night before, combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1/2 a mashed banana (or fruit of choice), 1/4 cup chopped nuts (or chia seeds), and a sprinkle of cinnamon in sealed Tupperware container or 1-cup mason jar. By morning, you’ll have delicious overnight oats! These can be heated in the microwave for 1-2 minutes if in the mood for something warm.

Which “wich”?  These creative “sandwiches” combine balanced nutrition in a handful.

  1. Waffle PBJ-Wich. Try this sweet take on a classic breakfast sandwich the next time eating on the go. Prepare 2 whole-grain toaster waffles. Spread one half with 2 tablespoons nut butter and layer 2-3 sliced strawberries or ½ sliced banana on top in place of the traditional jelly. Top with other half.
  2. Apple-Wich.This is a perfect pick for apple season, Cut 1 apple in half and remove the core. Drop 2 tablespoons of your favorite nut butter between the two holes, and sprinkle in 1 tablespoon granola. Wrap up the whole apple in plastic wrap and pair with a portable serving of milk for an easy grab and go breakfast.

Featured Recipes: 

Egg Muffin Variation

See Recipe at: http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/05/100-calorie-cheese-vegetable-and-egg-muffins.html

Pumpkin Protein Muffins with Oatmeal

Makes: 18 muffins      Prep Time: 10 minutes           Cook Time: 12-15 minutes


1 1⁄2 cups Oats 1 cup Whole wheat flour

1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin 1⁄2 cup Protein powder (unflavored or vanilla)*

3⁄4 Brown sugar, packed 1 1⁄2 tsp Baking soda

3⁄4 cup Canola oil 3⁄4 tsp Baking powder

2 large Eggs 3⁄4 tsp salt

1 1⁄4 tsp Pumpkin spice (ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon mixed together)

1/3 cup (plus 1 tbsp) Chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 Degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat the brown sugar, oil and eggs together.
  3. Add in the oats and pumpkin.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  5. Gently mix dry ingredients into oat mixture, mixing as little as possible.
  6. Fold in 1/3 cup nuts (if desired).
  7. Pour batter into paper lined muffin tins, filling each muffin cup approximately 2/3 full.
  8. Sprinkle tops of muffins with remaining chopped nuts (if desired).
  9. Bake about 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

* Note: If you don’t have protein powder on hand, or would rather not use it, just replace the 1⁄2 cup protein powder with an additional 1⁄2 cup whole wheat flour.

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

Makes: 16 muffins      Prep Time: 15 minutes           Cook Time: 22 minutes


2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 large ripe bananas

1 cup packed brown sugar

1⁄4 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3⁄4 cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)

Turbinado cane sugar for sprinkling on muffins before baking


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, peel the bananas and mash with a fork. Add brown sugar, oil, egg, yogurt, vanilla extract. Stir well until combined. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in walnuts if desired. Fill muffin liners 3⁄4 full. If desired, sprinkle with cane sugar. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Store, covered, at room temperature.

Adapted from recipe available at www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

Raisin Bran Muffins (Microwaveable)


4 cups Raisin Bran cereal

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

½ cup canola oil

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups buttermilk (or substitute with 1 cup milk and 1 cup plain yogurt)

1 tsp vanilla


  1. Combine first 5 dry ingredients together in a large bowl
  2. Add the remaining ingredients the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Store in a covered container in refrigerator up to 6 weeks.
  4. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes
  5. If desired, fill ramekin or muffin cup (placed in microwaveable dish) with batter and microwave for 1 minute, checking every 30 seconds until cooked through.

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Watermelon, Blueberry and Spinach Salad with Feta

watermelon saladThis is one of my all time favorite summertime salads.  I discovered it in the 2005 issue of Shape Magazine a while back and have modified it slightly by adding grilled chicken for a yummy entree salad.  Enjoy!

2 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
4 cups spinach leaves
2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup blueberries, washed and dried
1/2 cup seedless cucumber, sliced (unpeeled)
1/2 cup red onion, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
(optional) 2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into cubes

1.  Whisk the lemon or lime juice and honey in a large bowl.
2.  Add spinach; toss lightly to coat.
3.  Add watermelon, blueberries, cucumber, onion, and chicken; toss.
4.  Top with feta cheese
Makes 4 servings

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Cruisin’ Cuisine

Summer in Minnesota

For many, summer in Minnesota means evenings out on the boat, weekends biking through lake country, or fun getaways to the cabin. Don’t let these lovely moments and great times end in feelings of remorse because of mindless snacking. Instead, check out the following tips and recipes for you and your guests and feel good all summer long!

When planning what you will be packing for the boat, or weekend getaway, keep balance in mind. Many individuals often grab snacks that are convenient and highly processed (such as chips and crackers) and neglect to try easy, whole food options that are rich in protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals.  Yes, these foods are highly palatable, which is why we gravitate to them. However, you can trust that no one will miss these carb-laden snacks when presented these colorful options!

Consider some of the following suggestions for keeping a balance of nutrients in mind when planning your snacks:

  • Watermelon and feta cheese
  • Mini pitas with hummus and vegetables
  • Trail Mix with nuts and dried fruit
  • Apples with Peanut Butter
  • Vegetables and homemade Greek yogurt Dip or hummus
  • Veggie ideas: along with the classic veggies of carrots and celery, try adding a variety of colors and flavor-full veggies, such as red, yellow and orange sweet bell peppers, asparagus spears, jicama, broccoli, radishes, cherry tomatoes etc.)
  • Whole grain Tortilla Chips or homemade Kale chips (roast baby kale leaves with a drizzle of olive oil and seasonings in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes).  Serve with salsa and guacamole
  • Roll ups made with whole grain tortillas or large romaine leaves with deli meat, cheese and spinach
  • Fruit and nuts (try stuffing an almond in the center of a raspberry for a tasty fruit and protein combination)
  • Fresh Fruit on skewers
  • Pair whole grain crackers with a selection of high protein cheese, such as parmesan, mozzarella, and smoked gouda. Serve with colorful grapes and strawberries
  • Roasted garbanzo beans and steamed edamame are a couple easy high protein options to add with fruit or veggies.  Roast garbanzo beans in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Let sit for an hour for a crunchy treat. Fresh or frozen edamame can be quickly steamed in the microwave or on the stove, then toss with your favorite seasonings or low-sodium soy sauce.

Finally, check out my recipe for Watermelon, Blueberry and Spinach Salad with Feta for a fresh, colorful, and easy-to-pack, salad for a day on the boat or picnic in the park.