Posts Tagged ‘healthy snacks’

America’s Original Superfruit – Cranberries are Good for You!

Friday, October 21st, 2016


Fall is cranberry season! One of the highlights of last week’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Boston was the opportunity to learn more about America’s Original Superfruit™. This tart and tasty fruit is native to North America, and European settlers learned to use them from Native American populations. They grow on vines in sandy soil.

Most cranberries are harvested by the “wet” method. The growing areas, called bogs or marshes, are flooded with fresh water and the cranberries float to the top. Each berry has 4 air chambers that are their flotation devices! (The air chambers also make fresh ripe cranberries bounce if you drop them!) Some berries are also harvested with mechanical pickers.

Milwaukee Nov. 8, 2006. (Photo Andy Manis)

Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C. They are also rich in polyphenols, particularly proanthocyanidins and quercetin. These naturally occurring plant chemicals give cranberries their “superfruit” status. Cranberries are associated with decreased inflammation, infection fighting, and healthier arteries. These properties make them a good food to promote a healthy brain, heart, urinary tract, and digestive system.

The MyPlate healthy eating guidelines recommend making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Cranberries can help meet your goals. They are naturally low in sugar- even lower than lemons – and require some sweetening to be palatable. 4 ounces of cranberry juice, ½ cup fresh berries, or ¼ cup dried cranberries is equal to one serving of fruit.

Cranberries can be used in so many ways. Most of us are familiar with cranberry juice based beverages. If you want less sugar you can buy unsweetened juice and lightly sweeten to taste. Dried cranberries make a good snack on their own and are also great in chicken salad, wrap sandwiches, oatmeal, granola, and yogurt or tossed on green salads. Fresh cranberries can be made into cranberry sauce, salsas, or barbecue style sauces. You can find many recipes at the US Cranberries website. Share your creations on Facebook!

Information for this article comes from the US Cranberries web site and from a presentation at FNCE given by Johanna Dwyer, DSc, RD, Professor of Medicine (Nutrition) and Community Health at Tufts University Medical School

© 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN


Fighting the Freshman Fifteen: 8 Tips

Friday, August 7th, 2015

001Students are heading off to college over the next few weeks. For this week’s post, Erica Carneglia, a dietetics student from Miami University offers her perspective on avoiding the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen” pounds of weight gain. If you are a returning student, use her suggestions to make this year healthier than last! 


  • You still need to eat breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. Just because your mom isn’t there to call you to breakfast, that doesn’t mean you don’t need it! Try to spread your calories out into 3 or more intervals. In order to keep your metabolism going, your body needs an even flow of nutrients. When your metabolism isn’t moving, your body can start to store fat, which is where you can run into problems. 
  • Establish a schedule. Creating a routine in college can be a lot harder than it sounds, especially when your class schedule changes almost every day and you never know when a nap is going to sound like the best idea in the world. That being said, it’s important to make sure you fit all of your meals into your busy day in order to maintain that balanced flow. Having a routine can keep you on track on some of your craziest days!
  • Breakfast always has and always will be the most important meal of the day. You’ve been hearing this for years, and frankly that’s a good thing; you need it in order to stay full throughout the day and prevent major snacking later on. More specifically, skip that bagel or croissant and try to get plenty of protein at breakfast. This will keep you full longer, keep your muscle maintenance at an optimal level, and allow you to start your day alert and ready for whatever the day throws at you. Some Greek yogurt with fruit and granola is a great option, and if you have some extra time grab an egg white omelet from the dining hall with plenty of leafy greens and bright vegetables!
  • Think about what mom would say. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Stay away from fried starches, processed meats and pastries! They tend to be higher in saturated fats and sodium, and lower in vitamins and minerals. Lean meats, fruits and vegetables all provide more nutrients for fewer calories, which can sometimes be exactly what you need.
  • No, vending machines are not healthy when no one is looking. Save those quarters for laundry! Try and get healthy options from the dinning hall in the morning to bring to class with you, such as almonds, or anything else that can be stored without refrigeration.
  • Go get that fro-yo with your friends. It’s all about moderation. If you have a sweet tooth and know you’ll down a couple bags of m&m’s if you don’t have any chocolate for a week, have a little bit! If it’s unrealistic for you to completely cut something out, don’t do it. Find similar, healthier options that you can have in moderation and substitute for your favorite sweets.
  • Try out that new spin class. Taking time to workout in college is hard, especially if the gym is on the opposite side of campus. If you’re new to working out on your own, sign up for a few group classes and try out as many as you can before you find one you like. That way, you can make a schedule and attend the classes weekly, keeping you active throughout the week.
  • Skip that midnight pizza delivery to the dorm. Almost everyone gets hungry late at night. What’s important is not that you’re eating, but what you are eating and how much. Try and keep the portions small and nutrients high! Unbuttered popcorn is great, and sometimes some sliced apples with peanut butter will do the trick as well!  

Follow these tips and your skinny jeans will still fit in May!

© 2015 Erica Carneglia








Strawberries: The Taste of Summer

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Spring 2015 011One of the food highlights of summer is fresh strawberries. With their glossy red color and juicy sweetness, ripe strawberries are a treat for the eyes and the palate! They are also full of nutrition benefits. One cup of sliced fresh strawberries has just 55 calories, but provides over 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C and more than 3 grams of fiber.  In addition, strawberries contain anti-oxidant phytochemicals, including ellagic acid, anthocyanins, quercetin and catechin. These compounds may help protect the body from inflammation and the negative effects of cholesterol.  Food and medical scientists are continuing to research the potential beneficial effects of strawberries and other berries in preventing heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

We don’t really need science and nutrition to convince us to eat strawberries, however! The best berries will be bright red through to the tip, with a fresh appearing green cap. Berries will not ripen any further after they are picked.  Fresh strawberries taste best when used soon after harvesting or purchasing. Don’t wash them until you are ready to use them. Strawberries should only be left at room temperature for a few hours, and after that can be stored in the refrigerator. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and store for 2-3 days.

If you have more strawberries than you can use in a few days, you can freeze the extras. I usually just wash them and remove the green caps. Then I spread them on a cookie sheet and blot with a paper towel to remove excess water before placing the tray in the freezer for a couple of hours. When the berries have hardened I transfer them to a freezer bag¸ removing as much air as possible from the bag.

Here are some of my favorite ways to use strawberries:

  • Just cut up plain with a little sugar or sweetener if needed
  • With sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkle of brown sugar
  • Cut up alone or with other berries and served with a drizzle of maple syrup and chopped mint leaves
  • With cottage cheese (The mint/maple combo is especially tasty this way!)
  • With plain, vanilla, or lemon yogurt as a snack or dessert
  • In smoothies (frozen berries are great for this)
  • Sliced over a salad of fresh leaf lettuces, sugar snap peas, green onions, thinly sliced cucumber, and grilled chicken breast and topped with a strawberry vinaigrette


Head to a nearby farmer’s market  or pick-your-own farm to start enjoying the freshest local berries.  Share YOUR best strawberry ideas on our Facebook page!


© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN


Easy Energy Bites – What They’re Eating at the Olympic Training Center

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Colorado Springs 2015 048Olympic athletes struggle with finding quick, easy and nutritious foods to fuel their activities just like the rest of us. Yesterday the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs opened their kitchen to other RDNs attending the SCAN (Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition) conference. We had 15 minutes working together to prepare some athlete friendly snacks.

What do the Olympic RDN’s look for when helping athletes create recipes? Ease of preparation is key. “Hungry athletes want to eat food, not prepare food,” says Susie Parker Simmons, sports dietitian at the USOC. She looks for recipes that contain nutrients such as calcium or fiber. Some of the recipes are so simple that they could be prepared in a hotel room, important for athletes traveling for competitions.

In the test kitchen yesterday we made homemade energy bars, several nutrient packed dips and skewers of cut up fruits.  Here is the recipe for “No Bake Energy Bites”:

1 cup dry oatmeal (dry old-fashioned oats)

2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup ground flax seed

½ cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs

1/3 cup honey or agave nectar

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed Roll into balls of whatever size you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Colorado Springs 2015 051

©2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN