It’s almost fall!

It’s almost fall!

I don’t know what it is about fall. It could be the drop in temperature, the beautiful leaves changing or the fact that I love Halloween, but I’m never disappointed to see summer go and fall roll in. I’m also a fan of fall produce.

Despite the availability of produce we have throughout the year, I’ve always been a seasonal eater. Strawberries in January? No thank you. Apples in autumn? Yes please! Eating seasonally throughout the year is not only tastier, but also great for your health and budget. Seasonal produce provides more nutrients since it’s picked fresh at it’s peak of ripeness. It’s also less expensive since there’s a bigger abundance of crops that won’t have to be shipped from foreign places to make it to your plate. Here’s what’s in season (in Ohio)


  1. Apples. from Braeburn to Honey Crisp, you’ll never get tired of apples this season. If you’re looking for apples with a crisp texture, go for Gala, Fuji, Pink lady or honey crisp. Want something tart? Granny Smith or  Macintosh fits the bill. Both are great for pies, but can also be added to salads, oatmeal or made into fresh applesauce with a little cinnamon and honey.
  2. Brussels sprouts. Cabbage’s stinky cousin should not be discounted. Brussels sprouts are quite tasty when roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper or shaved and added to a fresh salad. If you’re feeling naughty, toss them with some chopped bacon for a real treat.
  3. Pears. have you ever tried a Comice pear? It’s a short, squatty fruit with a floral smell that’s in season from September through December. Also known as Christmas pears. They’re sweet, juicy and delicious. Try them if you see them in your favorite market.
  4. Squash. it’s not just zucchini anymore! There are plenty of varieties of squash to choose from. Spaghetti squash and “zoodles” are popular for those limiting carbs in their diet, or acorn or delicata squash can be sliced and roasted for an interesting side dish. Squash is an excellent source of beta-carotene as well as potassium.
  5. Spinach and other greens. If your memory of spinach is the slimy stuff Popeye used to eat, erase it right now. Spinach is super versatile and can be sauteed and added to an omelet or used fresh in a salad. I like to chop it and add it to grain salads or in pasta with other veggies. If you’re not a kale fan, try massaging it before using it. This wilts the green to soften the course texture and sweetens it a bit. It’s excellent in a salad with other greens, dried cherries and a small dose of blue cheese crumbles. You’re welcome.
Let’s get spicy!

Let’s get spicy!

Is your pantry loaded with random herbs and spices that you’ve never tried? Perhaps you just need to pair them with food to make the magic happen. If possible, store herbs in a cool, dry place (meaning, not above your stove). Most dried herbs lose their potency in about 6 months, so buy in small quantities if possible.

When using dried herbs, you’ll want to add them at the beginning of a dish to enhance the flavor. For example, add oregano or basil when sauteing garlic and onions when making soup. Fresh herbs such as cilantro or basil are best used at the end of cooking as a garnish. If you cook them into your soup or pasta, you’ll lose their delightful flavor. For things like salad or salsa, add herbs into the dish like any other ingredient.

Below is an alphabetic list of spices to try in your next chicken, fish or other dish. Variety is the spice of life!

Allspice: Use in meats, fish, poultry, soups, stews, and desserts.

Anise: Use in breads, snacks, soups, stews, vegetables, meats, and poultry.

Annatto Seeds: Use in vegetables, meats, poultry, and rice.

Bay Leaf: Use in soups, stews, meats, poultry, seafood, and sauces.

Basil: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, fish, and meats. Use fresh basil in pasta, salads or pizza.

Cayenne Pepper: Use in meats, poultry, stews, and sauces.

Celery Seed: Use in fish, salads, dressings, and vegetables.

Chili Powder / Chile Pequeño: Use in meats, poultry, vegetable, fish and stews.

Cilantro: Use in meats, sauces, stews, and rice. Use fresh cilantro in salsa and salads.

Cinnamon: Use in grains, potatoes, breads, and snacks. Great on apples, pears or in oatmeal.

Clove: Use in soups, salads, and vegetables.

Cumin: Use in meats, poultry or potatoes. Also great in soup or Mexican food.

Curry Powder: Use in meats, shellfish, and vegetables.

Dill Weed and Dill Seed: Use in fish, soups, salads, and vegetables.

Garlic: Use in soups, stews, salads, vegetables, meats, pasta, poultry, seafood, and sauces.

Garlic Powder: Use in meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, salads, soups, and stews.

Ginger: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, and meats. Also great in oatmeal or on potatoes.

Lemongrass: Use in soups, stews, meats, poultry, seafood, and sauces.

·Marjoram: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, beef, fish, and poultry.

Nutmeg: Use in vegetables and meats. Also great in baked goods or pasta.

Onion Powder/Green Onion: Use in meats, poultry, seafood, soups, and salads.

Oregano: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, meats, and poultry. Great as a pizza topper.

Paprika: Use in meats, fish, poultry, soup, stew and vegetables.

Parsley: Use in salads, vegetables, fish, and meats.

Rosemary: Use in salads, vegetables, potatoes, rice, fish, and meats.

Saffron: Use in breads, snacks, soups, stews, poultry, seafood, sauces, and rice.

Sage: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, meats, stuffing and poultry.

Tamarind: Use in soups, poultry, sauces, stir fries and rice.

Thyme: Use in salads, pasta, vegetables, fish, and poultry.

Vinegar: Use in soups, salads, vegetables, meats, and poultry.

Gluten & IBS

Gluten & IBS

Gluten may be OK for IBS

If you suffer from IBS or have worked with clients with IBS, you’ve likely heard of a low- FODMAP diet. The term FODMAP is a mouthful. FODMAPS are found in carbohydrates that contain fermentable oligo, di, monosaccharides and polyols. FODMAps are osmotic, so they pull water into the intestinal tract and may be poorly absorbed. Bacteria may ferment these types of sugars in the intestines and exacerbate IBS symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain or diarrhea.  A list of FODMAP containing foods include:

Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc.)

Lactose (dairy)

Fructans (wheat, garlic, onion, inulin etc.)

Galactans (legumes such as beans, lentils, soybeans, etc.)

Polyols (sweeteners containing isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc.) 1

The diet itself is not new. It was initially developed in Australia by the Monash University in 2005. Since then, a handful of studies have found it effective in reducing symptoms of IBS. A study from 2006 published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that 75% of patients that followed a low FODMAP diet indicated symptom improvement. 2 A 2011 study from the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found the low FODMAP diet offered an 86% better symptom response than usual IBS diet therapy. 3 The diet is not meant to be followed indefinitely. Those with IBS are advised to trial the diet for 4-6 weeks and work with a Registered Dietitian to gradually add foods back into the diet and keep a food diary to evaluate which foods trigger symptoms.  The diet can be difficult to adhere to, especially if you eat out.4

There’s good news for those trying to follow a low FODMAP diet. Recent research suggests that a gluten-free diet may not be needed for many with IBS. Dr. Joanna Dionne, a gastroenterologist from the McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario carried out a meta-analysis and systematic review of literature and sought randomized controlled trials that evaluated an exclusion diet versus alternative or usual diet. Trials to be included had to assess improvement in either global IBS symptoms or abdominal pain. There were nine studies that met the criteria: two focused on a gluten-free diet (n=111) and seven evaluated a low-FODMAP diet (n-=397). 4

Dr. Dionne and her researchers found that a gluten-free diet was associated with reduced global symptoms when compared to a control diet (RR = 0.42; 95%CL, 0.11-1.55), but the link was not statistically significant. In addition, it was found that a low-FODMAP diet was linked with reduced symptoms of IBS when compared to control diets (RR = 0.69, Cl, 0.54-0.88).4

Despite evidence to support the use of a low-FODMAP diet for IBS, Dionne and colleagues felt tat the quality of data used was not strong enough as the trials used different comparator groups and included a relatively small number of participants.

“The findings of this review demonstrate that, at present, there is insufficient evidence to recommend a [gluten-free diet] to reduce global IBS symptoms,” the researchers wrote. “There is very low-quality evidence that a low-FODMAP diet is effective in reducing global symptoms in IBS patients. More data are needed, but of the available dietary interventions, a low-FODMAP diet currently has the greatest evidence for efficacy in IBS.” 5


  2. Shepard, SJ. Et al. Fructose Malabsorption and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Guidelines for effective dietary management. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Oct;106(10):1631-9.
  3. Staudacher HMWhelan KIrving PMLomer MC. Comparison of symptom response following advice for a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) versus standard dietary advice in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. J Hum Nutr Diet.2011 Oct;24(5):487-95.
  4. WhelanL. D. Martin H. M. Staudacher M. C. E. LomerThe low FODMAP diet in the management of irritable bowel syndrome: an evidence‐based review of FODMAP restriction, reintroduction and personalisation in clinical practice. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2018, Jan. 15.
  5. Dionne, et. al A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Evaluating the Efficacy of a Gluten-Free Diet and a Low FODMAPs Diet in Treating Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 2018:doi:10.1038/s41395-018-0195-4.
One pan pork and potatoes

One pan pork and potatoes

I’m like any other working parent with kids returning to school soon. I have limited time and patience to get dinner on the table! I also don’t want arguments at meal time. My feeling on meal time is that the less drama, the better. Kids aren’t going to eat food they don’t like. Plain and simple.

I recently made a quick, one-pan meal of pork tenderloin and red potatoes. While the oven heated up, I sliced potatoes into rounds and seasoned them with seasoned salt and oregano. Did you know seasoned salt has half the sodium of table salt? 390 mg VS 580 mg in 1 tsp. I only used a sprinkle anyway. I also added oregano, which gave the potatoes a nice earthy flavor.

I used Smithfield marinated fresh pork for the dish. I love this product because it’s simple, healthy and delicious. I am a rep for Smithfield and stand by their products. They come in 3 varieties and can be found at Walmart. I used cracked pepper and garlic for this dish but garlic and herb or Golden rotisserie are also tasty. It has a nice, spicy flavor without being overly seasoned. Pair the dish with a tossed green salad or other green vegetable, and POOF! Dinner is done. Below is the recipe. #sponsored #rep #client


1-1 1/2 lbs Smithfield marinated fresh pork (use flavor of choice)

8 medium red potatoes, cleaned and scrubbed of dirt and sliced into 1/2″ rounds

seasoned salt



Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Spray a large baking pan with non-stick spray

Remove pork from plastic wrap and place on baking pan

Place potatoes on baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray.

Sprinkle seasoned salt and oregano over potatoes.

Bake on 400 degrees for ~40-45 minutes until pork is no longer pink.

Serve with salad or other veggies.




Should it stay or should it go? Q&A about food safety

Should it stay or should it go? Q&A about food safety

I often get asked about food waste VS food safety. I believe we should try to NOT to toss food away if we can avoid it. But where do we draw the line to protect ourselves from getting sick?

Did you know…1 in 6 Americans get food borne illness each year.

1.How long can we have meat or fish in the refrigerator before it goes bad?

Raw/fresh chicken or fish should be used within 2 days of being in the frig. Steak, pork, roasts, lamb, veal, beef lasts up to 5 days. Ground meat of any kind is good for ~2 days in the frig.

2.How long past the expiration date can we eat or drink dairy products?  Milk is typically good for at least a week after the expiration date and sometimes longer. It’s best to go by the smell. Yogurt can last even longer because of the bacteria (sometimes up to a month past the date).

3.What is the difference between expiration date, best by date and sell by date?

Best-By: This is a suggestion to the consumer on which date the product should be consumed to assure for ideal quality.

Use-By: This label is aimed at consumers as a directive of the date by which the product should be eaten; mostly because of quality, not because the item will necessarily make you sick if eaten after the use-by date. However, after the use-by date, product quality is likely to go down much faster and safety could be lessened.

Sell-By: This label is aimed at retailers, and it informs them of the date by which the product should be sold or removed from shelf life. This does not mean that the product is unsafe to consume after the date. Typically, one-third of a product’s shelf-life remains after the sell-by date for the consumer to use at home.

4. It it OK to cut the mold from cheese or bread and eat it? Yes and no. It’s OK to cut mold from hard cheeses as the spores won’t spread or penetrate the cheese. Bread, fruit and soft cheeses (like brie) should be thrown out as the spores can spread and possibly produce mycotoxins, poisonous substances that can make you sick.

5.Can you refreeze any foods?  Eggs (raw or cooked) should not be frozen. The USDA advises: Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods.

6.What is the best way to thaw meat? Thawing Frozen Meats (and no, leaving it on the counter isn’t one of them!): The absolute best way to thaw frozen meats is by leaving it in the fridge until it’s completely thawed. If you’re crunched for time, take the meat out of its package, put it on a plate, and place it under cool RUNNING water.

7. Do non-carbonated beverages expire? They don’t expire in the sense that they are dangerous to eat, but the carbonation will decrease, which reduces the quality of the product.

8. How long can picnic food stay out? No more than 2 hours unless temps are above 90 degrees, in which case, no more than ONE HOUR!

Any other facts to know?

Leftovers from restaurant– are good for 3-4 days

Cooked meat- 3-4 months in freezer, raw meat, 4-12 months (ground meat shorter)

Broken eggs- need to be tossed.

Helpful web sites for info:

A few of my favorite things

A few of my favorite things

I’d like to get something straight. I love to eat, but like the rest of the world, I don’t want to be in the kitchen all. day. long. I tend to bend towards ethnic cuisine like Thai, Mexican and Indian, but also like Italian, which I ate a lot of growing up.

Over the years, I’ve discovered a handful of products that I really don’t want to live without. Granted, a few may be higher in sodium than some people can tolerate, but for the most part, these are things that are simple, convenient and relatively healthy to make food a little more palatable.

I’ll start with True Lemon. I first was introduced to this product when I worked as a clinical dietitian at the VA Medical Center. True Lemon had just come out and like other companies with a new product, they graciously sent lots of samples. Unlike other powdered drink mixes, what I like about this product is you have the option of plain, crystallized True Citrus products without sweetener or the artificially sweetened versions of tea or kool-aide type drinks. While fresh lemon is great to freshen water, it may be contaminated in restaurants and you can’t add lemons to a suitcase when traveling. True Lemon has multiple flavors including lime, orange and grapefruit. I often find boxes of it at the Dollar Store. Bonus!

The next product that honestly, I should buy stock in, is squeeze ginger. I prefer Spiceworld’s version because you get so much bang for your buck. You can find a 10 oz. container for $2.99 at most big box groceries. I use this stuff in EVERYTHING. It’s great for marinades for chicken, fish or pork, or you can season sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans or spinach with it. I’ve used it in stir fries, oatmeal and quinoa. It is less pungent that fresh ginger and a lot more convenient. It is located behind the bananas with the salad fixins at Kroger.

Along with squeeze ginger goes chili garlic paste. I typically find this in the Asian food section but have found it with other condiments at Big Lots as well. Chili garlic paste can be used to make spicy Szechuan green beans, spicy broccoli or Thai peanut noodles. It just kicks the flavor of things up a few notches.

Another favorite seasoning that I often find in small Hispanic markets to big box groceries is Goya Foods Sazon seasoning. It is my secret weapon for chili, black beans, tortilla soup and brown rice. I realize it contains sodium and some food coloring if you get the type with annatto, but there is a salt-free, annatto free variety. The type that has cilantro added is especially delightful.

Finally, the ridiculously cute marketing of Bubly sparkling water tickles my funny bone. From the smile on the can to the tiny “hiya” and “oh hi” on the pull tabs, I can’t resist it. Oh, and the flavors are great, too! My favorite is cherry. It tastes like the memory of a cherry Dum Dum sucker you got at the bank as a kid. There are multiple flavors including lemon, grapefruit, apple, strawberry and more. The best part is it’s calorie free, color free and no artificial flavors. Check them out and if you get a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

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