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Spinach apple salad with dates in balsamic dressing

Spinach apple salad with dates in balsamic dressing

Whether you need a fancy salad for Thanksgiving or just something deliciously different this time of year, you’ll love this seasonal salad. It’s colorful, sweet and savory all at once.

I made this salad over the weekend for Homepage | Cancer Support Community in a live cooking demo. I’ve been doing demos for them for about 13 years and love the community.

All about that base:

Spinach makes a great base in this salad and provides beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C to your diet. Arugula or kale could also be used if you’re out of spinach.

If you use kale as your base, be sure to “massage it” to wilt the texture a bit. The salad can be made a day or two ahead of time when using kale.

Get fruity:

I used honey crisp apples in my salad, but Granny Smith apples or even Barlett pears would go well. Apples or pears add soluble fiber to your salad; the type that lowers cholesterol and blood sugar. They also improve the color and texture of the salad.

Dates are technically not a “dried” fruit, but because of their wrinkly texture, people think they are. They paired nicely with the tart apples and tangy balsamic dressing. These Medjool dates were provided by https://www.naturaldelights.com. I’m a paid partner for the brand and stand by its quality. Medjool dates provide potassium and fiber and have a chewy, sweet texture.

Including some form of dried fruit will add a chewy texture to your salads in addition to more color. Raisins, dried cherries, chopped apricots or prunes would go well.

Get cheesy: 

I typically add a small amount of some type of cheese to my salads. This adds a little more dimension to the salad and savory cheese goes well with fruit. You can use blue cheese crumbles, feta cheese or shredded Parmesan. Or, keep the salad vegan and leave the cheese out!

Dress it up:

Making your own dressing is super simple and so much tastier than bottled dressing. I love the richness of balsamic vinegar, but apple cider vinegar would go well, too. This recipe makes 1/3 cup dressing, which is the perfect amount to dress your salad. Don’t drown your salad in dressing!

If you want to add a different twist, substitute ginger paste for Dijon mustard. This may make the dressing a little spicy and less tangy. A few red onion rings would add another layer of flavor to the salad if you have them on hand. Drizzle the dressing right before serving. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 (10 oz) bag fresh spinach

2 honey crisp or another firm apple

1/3 cup chopped pecans

2 Medjool dates, chopped

2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese

3 Tbsp. canola oil

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Directions:

  1. Place the fresh spinach (or other greens) in a large salad bowl.
  2. Add the chopped apples, dates, pecans and feta cheese.
  3. In a separate small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the canola oil, vinegar, honey and Dijon mustard.
  4. Drizzle the dressing and toss to coat the salad right before serving.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 227 calories, 16.6 grams fat, 18.4 grams carbs, 3.3 grams protein, 4.4 grams fiber, 4.6 mg cholesterol, 97 mg sodium

#ad #paid #partnership #collaboration #sponsored #Medjooldates #dates #spinach #spinachsalad #naturaldelights #apples #cancerprevention #recipes @NDmedjooldates

Headache triggers, tips and tricks

Headache triggers, tips and tricks

Is coffee a friend or foe when it comes to headaches? I recently researched and wrote a full article on the topic for Today’s Dietitian.

Personally, I enjoy coffee and couldn’t start my day without it. It’s been found to have several health benefits including diabetes prevention, Parkinson’s disease prevention and reduction in heart disease risk, particularly in women.

On the downside, a recent study showed that excess coffee (6 or more cups/day) may increase the risk of dementia. Like anything- moderation is key (meaning 2-3 cups per day for most people).

Check out my article on headaches and see what you can do to prevent them:

Integrative Nutrition: Nutrition for Headaches and Migraines – Today’s Dietitian Magazine (todaysdietitian.com)

In addition, I’d like to mention that I’m open to more freelance writing opportunities. If you need someone to write food, health or nutrition copy for your food brand, social media pages, newsletter or web site, please message me for more information.

I’ve signed up for https://www.listiller.com to find more writing jobs as I move away from 1:1 nutrition counseling.

Tasty Snack Review

Tasty Snack Review

In the world of bummer mail (bills, political candidate flyers and misspelled address labels), a box of new food samples is a welcome surprise in the middle of the week. Nothing makes a dietitian happier than receiving a gift pack of snack samples.

I received an assortment of delicious snacks from Bare Snacks, PopCorners Popped Corn Snacks, Off the Eaten Path and Stacy’s. In addition, the snacks were adorably packaged in a khaki picnic backpack complete with a wine bottle “side kick” pouch, plastic flutes and dinnerware. I thought this was a really original idea!

I’ve powered through the coconut and apple chips from Bare Snacks. Both are good sources of dietary fiber, with the coconut chips providing 5 grams per half cup serving and apple chips providing 4 grams in a 2/3 cup serving. The saturated fat content is a bit high with the coconut chips, but I think they’d make a great topping for yogurt or oatmeal given their crunchy texture.

The apple chips were sweet without additional added sugar. If you’re looking for something crunchy and sweet, these will fit the bill.

I also enjoyed the PopCorners Popped-Corn snacks. These are a great gluten-free option that’s much lower in fat than fried corn chips or tortilla chips. They weren’t outrageously high in sodium either, but missed the mark to be considered “low sodium” by about 40 mg per serving.

If you’re craving something a bit sweeter, their kettle corn chips have minimal added sugar and are low in sodium. Additionally, there’s just 4 ingredients in the chips. Their popped chips are never fried and don’t contain artificial flavors.

Another interesting snack was the hummus crisps by Off the Eaten Path. Lord knows I love that name! The rosemary and olive oil crisps are low in saturated fat and provide 4 grams of dietary fiber thanks to their chick pea and rice base. They also provide 2 grams of fiber per serving, which is better than nothing. Their black bean veggie crisps provide 4 grams of fiber per serving and have a rich, savory taste.

Stacy’s pita thins are always a welcome snack in my house. They’re savory and crunchy and go well with hummus or yogurt-based dips. I’ve also enjoyed them with a few hunks of good cheddar.

If you’re tired of the same old snacks or looking for something new, portable and healthy, I’d give these snacks a go! Thanks for the lovely surprise on my porch!

#samples #dietitian #productreview #noartificialcolor #snacking #snacks #snacktacular #poppedsnacks #offtheeatenpath #baresnacks #popcorners #poppedsnacks #stacys

@baresnacks @offtheeatenpathsnack @popcorners @stacys

Grape Oatmeal Cups from the Family Immunity Cookbook by Toby Amidor

Grape Oatmeal Cups from the Family Immunity Cookbook by Toby Amidor

I love when the recipe stars align and I have all the ingredients in my kitchen to whip up something new. And this was great timing as I’m always trying to get my teenage daughter to eat something (anything) for breakfast. I also get requests for “grab and go” types of items from clients.

These gluten-free, nut-free grape oatmeal cups from cookbook author and RD, Toby Amidor Nutrition  fit the bill. This recipe was taken with permission from her upcoming book The Family Immunity Cookbook- set to release at the end of October. Pre-order yours here: The Family Immunity Cookbook: 101 Easy Recipes to Boost Health: Amidor, Toby: 9780778806806: Amazon.com: Books

The beauty of this recipe is its simple ingredient combination as well as nutritional profile. Rolled oats are a whole grain that’s a good source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Sunflower seeds provide polyunsaturated fat, fiber and a bit of protein. Grapes are a source of pectin; a type of fiber that also helps reduce cholesterol.

Make them vegan

To make the recipe vegan or egg-free, you can substitute a flaxseed egg by whisking 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before adding to your favorite recipe. In this case, you’d need twice as much. Canola, avocado or olive oil could be used in place of butter in the recipe as well.

Family reviews

Not surprising, my teenage daughter liked the grape oatmeal cups because they weren’t overly sweet and had a chewy texture. My husband, on the other hand, didn’t care for them for the exact reasons. He prefers things a little sweeter and with a firmer texture.

I cut the recipe in half as there’s one less mouth to feed since my daughter left for college. The recipe made 9 muffins, but I could probably fill the muffin cups up a bit. A full recipe could yield a dozen and a half depending on high you fill the muffin cups. *

The recipe could be used for breakfast or a post-workout snack given its high complex carb content. Pair them with a glass of cold milk, hot coffee or your beverage of choice!

Below is the recipe and ingredients. Enjoy!

12-cup muffin pans lined with paper cups and coated with non-stick cooking spray. * (may need 2 pans)

3 cups gluten-free, large flake (old-fashioned) rolled oats               2 large eggs, beaten

¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds                                                          ¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp. baking powder                                                                              2 Tbsp. unalted butter, melted

1 tsp. ground cinnamon                                                                        1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups skim milk

1 ½ cups red or green seedless grapes, quartered

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, sunflower seeds, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, maple syrup, butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined. Fold in one cup of the grapes until evenly distributed.
  5. Using a ½ cup, scoop the batter into each of the 12 muffin cups. Tap the muffin pans a few times on the counter to release and air bubbles. Divide the remaining ½ cup grapes among the 12 cups.
  6. Bake until the edges of the oat cups are slightly browned and a tester inserted into one or two of the muffin cups comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  7. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before transferring the muffin cups to a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Serves 6-9, 2 muffins each *

Simple Shrimp and Grits

Simple Shrimp and Grits

Did you know that grits may have been named by Native Americans? The word grytt means “coarse meal” or in this case, “ground corn meal”. Grits are a Southern porridge made from ground corn meal that’s often used in place of rice or potatoes.

I don’t remember the first time I tried shrimp and grits, but I have been a fan ever since. Grits are often used for breakfast, which is why you’ll often seen this dish on the breakfast or brunch menu. But you can enjoy this dish any time of the day.

Grits are a versatile, gluten-free grain with a creamy texture and savory taste. You can buy them in instant or slow cooking form. I like the instant grits when I want something delicious and fast.

Shrimp cooks up very quickly, too. I tend to buy frozen shrimp and thaw it out the day I’m going to use it. I rinse it in cold water for a few minutes then let it sit for about 20 minutes before removing the shell and deveining the shrimp.

Shrimp is a good source of protein as well as iodine, magnesium, zinc and other minerals. While it is a source of dietary cholesterol, it is relatively low in total and saturated fat.

I love the combination of creamy grits with savory shrimp and veggies. Most shrimp and grits recipes use bacon or some form of sausage as well as cheese. I left out the cheese and added more veggies to mine for more color and texture. My recipe used garlic chicken sausage from Trader Joes, which was plenty salty and garlicy. The recipe didn’t need more of either.

Unfortunately, I am the lone shrimp consumer in my house. Consequently, my recipe makes 2 servings- both for me! You can certainly double or triple the recipe if you’ve got a crowd to feed.

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon canola oil

¼ white or yellow onion, diced

1 of each: yellow, red and orange mini bell pepper OR 1 red bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

½ teaspoon dried oregano

8 large shrimp (fresh or frozen), peeled and deveined

1 garlic chicken sausage or other chicken sausage link, quartered

½ cup instant grits

1 green onion, diced

Directions:

  1. Prepare the instant grits according to the directions and set aside. While they are cooking, prepare the shrimp and vegetables.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil on medium heat. Add the diced onions and peppers and sautee for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the Cajun seasoning and dried oregano to coat the vegetables then add the shrimp.
  4. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes until slightly firm. Add the garlic sausage and cook along with the shrimp and vegetables for 1 minute.
  5. Serve the cooked shrimp and vegetables over the warm grits. Top with chopped green onions.

Makes 2 servings- can be doubled or tripled for a larger crowd.

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