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What’s in Season?

salmon avocado toast and saladI always look forward to summer produce. Granted, I have favorites for every season, but there’s something I love about the simplicity of summer food. I can get all Alice Waters-romantic over a freaking arugula salad, and I am not in the least bit ashamed. Recently, I wrote an article for YouBeauty on some of my favorite seasonal superfoods that are at their peak right now.

I am all about the leafy greens and berries, and as a Jersey girl, I love my Jersey fresh tomatoes. Summer is also prime time for zucchinis, which I love raw (zoodles, anyone?), roasted, or grated and cooked into bread or even oatmeal (sweet or savory). Check out the article for more ideas of how to make the most of this season’s abundance of fruit & veggie goodness!

What are your favorite summer fruits and vegetables? Or any season, for that matter! 

Tropical Chex Mix (Gluten-Free)

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I went to a July Fourth potluck brunch at a childhood friend’s home. Almost everybody had brought something with blueberries in it: Fresh berries, blueberry sauce, blueberry juice, blueberry filling…the only thing without blueberries were plain hard-boiled eggs!

On that note, I thought that for this Fourth of July, I’d give you a recipe without a lick of red or blue in it. This Chex mix features tropical flavors that will be a hit on any holiday snack table. You can pack up any leftovers come Monday in your bag for work or as a snack for the kids. Enjoy!Tropical Chex Mix

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups Rice Chex
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 cup Dried Mango, cut intro strips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup Banana Chips
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flakes

Tropical Chex Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Pour coconut oil over Chex. Mix well and set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Add mango, banana chips, coconut flakes, and nuts (if using) to Chex.
  3. Pour Chex with mix-ins into a large Ziploc bag and shake well to mix.
  4. Allow to cool on wax paper.

(Makes 16 ½ -cup servings)

Variations: For extra protein, add 1 cup macadamia nuts.

What are your favorite summer desserts? 

Chocolate Black Bean Dip

apple and chocolate black bean dipI mentioned this recipe a few Fridays ago in the context of a post about chips & dip. If you’ve been reading a while, then you’re familiar with my mad scientist tendencies in the kitchen. One way you can think of this is as a sweet take on hummus. If it’s too sweet or not sweet enough, you can definitely play around with the amount of sweetener you use. The trick is to process this until very smooth s you forget all about the black beans. I swear you can’t even taste them! Aside from being delicious, this dip offers up plenty of fiber, plus some protein and healthy fats.

I like to dip tart green apple slices (I am all about sweet with sour), but you can use carrots, celery, or your favorite crackers. How about those Martha Stewart Triscuits? I tried them in South Carolina and can’t seem to find them anywhere now that I’m home. Sad-face. I am not a cracker person but these are so delicious, it’s probably a good thing I can’t get my hands on any!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sweetener of choice (stevia, honey, maple syrup etc)
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  2. Serve with crackers, sliced fruit, or on toast.

 

Do you have any weird-is-good favorites? 

What 3 pm slump?

One of the most common questions I get from clients is what types of afternoon snacks to eat to beat that 3 pm fog.

First off, you want to make sure you’re well hydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause us to feel sluggish, so keep a bottle of water within easy reach as a visual reminder to drink up. Some people might complain that having to get up to use the restroom every hour is a pain, but breaking up long period of sitting with a walk around the office is great for your overall health and will make your FitBt/Apple Watch/Garmin happy.

mini brie and appleIf you’ve got more than a few hours between lunch and dinner, it’s completely logical to need to eat something, so make a balanced snack a part of your day instead of beating yourself up about not “making it” to dinner. The siren call of the donuts in the break room or the chocolate and pretzels in the vending machine can be hard to resist, but what your body really needs to power through the rest of your day is some real food. Shocker, I know.

Aim for a mix of protein and fiber. Also, don’t be afraid of fat. Just remember that a little goes a long way. If you’re keeping an eye on calories, aim for 100 – 250 for a snack, depending on your personal needs and what else you’ve had to eat that day. And think outside the wrapper. Just because something doesn’t fit the traditional “snack”

Here are a few (or a lot of) ideas to get you started:

Crunchy

  • 3 cups air-popped popcorn tossed with 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
  • Celery and carrot sticks with peanut butter (or whatever nut/seed butter you like)
  • 1/4 cup of trail mix
  • Sliced veggies and 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of hummus
  • Bowl of whole grain cereal (~3/4-1 cup) with 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup dry roasted edamame with 1 tablespoon dried fruit
  • Fruit and nut bar or protein bar

Creamy

  • 1/2 an avocado with a squirt of lemon juice, chia seeds, and sea salt
  • 1/2 a PB & J sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Simple smoothie of 1/2 a frozen banana, 1 handful spinach, 1 cup milk or kefir, and ice
  • Oatmeal made with cinnamon and 1/2 cup milk of choice. Don’t like milk or don’t have access to a mircowave? Make with hot water and add a tablespoon of chopped nuts on top.
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon, 1 tablespoon coconut flour, and a drizzle of honey

Sweet

  • A piece of fruit and a tablespoon of nut butter or up to ¼ cup of nuts
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon and ½ cup berries. You can also add 1 tablespoon ground flax, coconut flour, or chia seeds
  • 1 square of dark chocolate with 2 tablespoons of nuts or 1 tablespoon each nuts and dried fruit
  • Half a baked sweet potato with a teaspoon of nut butter or coconut oil
  • 1 slice whole grain toast topped with a tablespoon of nut butter and berries
  • 1 slice whole grain toast topped with 2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta and a drizzle of honey

Savory

  • 2 Hard-boiled eggs, side of sliced veggies
  • 1 Hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit
  • Low-sodium turkey roll ups with sliced cucumber
  • 1 ounce cheese (such as a single-serve cheddar stick, string cheese, or mini brie) and fruit
  • ½ cup steamed/microwaved edamame (about 1 cup pods)
  • 1 ounce turkey jerky, side of sliced veggies or fruit
  • 1 slice toast topped with hummus and a sliced hard-boiled egg
  • 1/2 a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • 1 small or 1/2 a large baked sweet potato topped with 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1 slice whole grain toast topped with 2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta and roasted veggies

What are some of your go-to afternoon snacks? 

What to Make this Weekend: The sweet stuff

Happy Friday! What are you getting into this weekend? Can you believe we’re winding down the month of May? Where did all that time go? More importantly, summer is coming! For a lot of us, that means summer cook-outs* with friends and family.

I usually contribute some kind of vegetable-based dish and let the grill-masters tend to the meaty stuff, but that still leaves dessert up in the air. Warmer weather is prime time for frozen treats, making the post-dinner fro-yo run a popular outting. I already see a lot of people walking around NYC with a spoon in a cup.

Yogurt with chocolate granolaThough frozen yogurt still returns of that health halo from the fat-phobic 1990s, it’s still fairly high in sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation as opposed to an everyday thing, but there are certainly ways to make it  a healthier options. Toppings can make or break your fro-yo experience, so if you want some ideas for what to add, an article I wrote about healthier frozen yogurt toppings  appeared on YouBeauty earlier this week.

If frozen yogurt and ice cream aren’t your thing, summer is a great time to enjoy fruit-based desserts or even—shocker—fruit for dessert. I know, I know. I have to say these things. As a dietitian, I’m basically bound by law to remind you eat your fruits and veggies. Here are a few of my favorite summer dessert recipes:

And this dark chocolate coconut granola makes a great garnish.

All that said, nothing beats the real deal once in a while (think once or twice a month, as opposed to every other day), so whether it’s a piece of cake, an ice cream bar at the beach—whatever—enjoy a little bit guilt-free and get on with your life.

Also, because you’re going to want something to drink at said sumer cook-out, check out my suggestions for healthier summer cocktails.

What are you looking forward to this weekend? 

 

Make-Ahead Berry Cheesecake Power Bowl

Happy Monday! And to all my readers here in the U.S., I hope you’re making the best of your long weekend. Since I’m terrible at things like patriotic red-white-and-blue desserts, today I have something that at sort of falls under that color theme umbrella, depending on the types of berries you use.

What are you getting into this week? For many of us, a busy schedule can mean cutting back on basic human needs like, oh, breakfast. It doesn’t have to be that way, though! Earlier this month, a few of my make-ahead breakfast recipes were featured on Fit Revue.

overnight oatsHere’s a super-easy one you can make tonight and have tomorrow morning, ready to go whenever you are. Tasty and super-filling, the luxurious flavor will let you feel like you’re eating cheesecake for breakfast.

Berry Cheesecake Power Bowl 

Ingredients:

¾ c plain Greek yogurt

1 tbsp oats

1 tbsp ground flax

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp coconut flour

¼ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp cinnamon

¾ c berries

Instructions: 

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl or to-go container until well mixed. Cover and leave in the fridge to soak overnight.
  2. In the morning, uncover and enjoy!

What’s your go-to weekday breakfast? 

What I Ate Wednesday #215: Minneapolis Eats

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. How’s your week going?

I was thinking that for this week’s installment of the weekly “what I ate” link-up, I’d share what I ate last Wednesday in Minneapolis.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had a great time at Travail last Tuesday night, so I’d been expecting to wake up at least a wee bit hungover. But no. I popped out of bed at 5:30 (to my credit, because of the time change, my body felt like it was 6:30) and had a few unexpected free hours, so I went to the hotel gym (to read Me Before You on the elliptical). Afterwards, I bought some coffee and milk from the Starbucks downstairs. That plus some leftover cereal and a banana from the previous day’s events made for a perfect post-workout breakfast. hotel cereal bfast

Read breakfast was to happen much later, at the General Mills headquarters after a tour. But first, this may have happened: characters

Um. Funny story: I was obsessed with lost ocean liners as a kid. Who am I kidding—I still kind of am (and totally all over this month’s 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania). I went so far as to write James Cameron a letter when Titanic came out in 1990-whatever to tell him all the stuff he got wrong. Mostly it was the collapsible lifeboats I took issue with. I am so embarrassed for my younger self. Anyway. I had no idea that General Mills built the submarine that went down to the explore the wreck. I sent my family a text joking that my whole life had just come full circle. GM Titanic

But right, breakfast. I generally loathe sweet yogurt (and there was no plain available), but I wasn’t in the mood for hot oatmeal or cereal, so I just rolled with it and opted for this 2% Greek honey flavor with a little bit of raw oats, flax, chia, and cinnamon and some fruit on the side. Since it was nearing 10 am, I was really hungry and didn’t want to make a fuss. I feel like when you avoid added sugars in your yogurt 99% of the time, it’s not the biggest deal to have a little. IMG_0401

After some morning events, we played around in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchen. I made a potato pancake that contained:

  • 1 potato, steamed in the microwave and scooped out
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • A dash each of salt & pepper

My recipe made enough for two people, so I only plated one serving and garnished with some plain Greek yogurt, tomato, and chives. Basil and a drizzle of olive oil could also have been nice. The event photographer made it look way prettier than my iPhone did: Potato Pancake

Here’s my cheesy “look what I made” photo!  Jess Betty Crocker Test Kitchen

I was actually really impressed by the lunch spread (or the overall great quality of the food—I think they knew they were hosting a group of RDs and healthy living bloggers, so…). I enjoyed a mix of salad, roasted veggies, and chicken.

GM lunch

Later in the day, we enjoyed some fresh fruit between activities and then suddenly, it was already time for me to head to the airport. After clearing security, I had a little time to kill, so I managed to sit down and have dinner before my flight. Airports can be hit or miss in terms of food, but I enjoyed a lovely meal of nicoise salad and ginger kombucha.

MNSP dinner

A few hours later, I had some dry-roasted edamame just before landing. I was so tired by the time I got home, it was lighst-out almost right away. What a whirlwind!

What was the best—or worst—airport meal you ever had? 

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, head on over to this week’s host Arman’s site or visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

Thinking Out Loud

Thursday already? When did that happen? And yet, how is it only Thursday? Once upon a time, I had a concept of days of the week, but that was in a past life I don’t really remember too well. That said, every Thursday on this here blog is a day for randomness, so how about we dive right in?

*Have you guys seen The Atlantic’s If Our Bodies Could Talk on YouTube? I’ve been loving this series—funny yet informative. Topics include things like what’s up with bone broth, Crossfit babies, and why you should take naps.

*Speaking of Crossfit, I accidentally ate a Paleo-friendly dinner the other night. Or, almost-Paleo (because of the beans). This was cauliflower rice with steamed kale, salsa, guacamole, and black beans, all with a fried egg on top—a perfect mess. cauliflower rice and beans

*And this lunch dessert (part one was a salad eaten straight out of the mixing bowl because I’m classy like that) was basically the opposite of Paleo-friendly: Labneh on toast with berries and local honey. (Dairy, sprouted-grain bread). Yes, it was delicious, and no, the grain police did not show up at my door for making this. labneh toast

Saying “local honey” makes me sound like such a food snob. I’m totally rolling my eyes at myself right now and laughing.

*Sometimes I carry actual rocks in my purse. Or crystals, because I am my mother’s daughter after all. These are shiva lingam and labradorite.
labradorite and shiva lingham

*Whether I step off the curb depends on what shoes I’m wearing.

*My highlighter woes are over! I am so picky about makeup and hate to browse, but I walked away from a “necessary evils” trip to Sephora the other day $41 poorer with a stupid skip in my step because I guess I’m still a girly-girl at heart when it comes to finding that perfect product that’s going to make my life easier. I don’t even miss the old standby I wore every day for—oh—eight years. No time like the present for a positive change. I think Clinique is my official favorite for the next 8 or 80 years. clinique highlighter

This post has been part of another Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.

What’s on your mind this Thursday? What’s your go-to makeup product? 

 

What to put on your oatmeal

apple oats with fig Keeping It Real FoodOatmeal is a popular breakfast food. You might even say it’s cliched in some circles—food bloggers, dietitians, for example. Will we ever shut up about our damn oatmeal? Highly unlikely.

One of the most common ways you see oatmeal served is with brown sugar and dried fruit. As a dietitian, I can’t help but look at that and be, like, “Carbs on carbs on carbs.” Aka, “Sugar crash in an hour.” It makes me happy to see more restaurants and food companies starting to offer savory versions and higher-protein options that will actually keep people fueled through their morning.

I’m a big fan of making oatmeal in big batches ahead of time and dividing into single-serving containers so you can grab and go or heat and eat if your morning is rushed. Here are a few of my go-to recipes:

You can also take a plain bowl of oats and add whatever toppings will make it worth your while.  Here’s a post I wrote for General Mills a few months back on ways to add some sweetness to your bowl without extra sugar. A few of my favorite add-ons:

  • Peanut butter (or whatever nut/seed butter you like)
  • Tahini
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground flax
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Fresh or frozen berries
  • Caramelized fruit
  • Dried or roasted figs (a little goes a long way)
  • Jam or fruit preserves
  • A drizzle of maple syrup or honey
  • A poached egg and roasted veggies
  • Goat cheese
  • Avocado

How do you like your oatmeal? 

What I Ate Wednesday #202

Another week, another What I Ate Wednesday. I’ve been spending a lot of time on writing projects and creating materials for upcoming events this week, so I’ve been working at my desk at home a lot. After working Friday through Sunday at the hospital, I was more than ready for a slower-paced work-from-home Monday. Waking up with a head cold Sunday morning kind of forced me to bring things down a notch. My body was basically like, “Jess, seriously, this is bullish!t,” so I cleared a few things from my calendar and stuck close to the writing cave home for most of Monday. Here’s what I ate in between blowing my nose and typing:

Breakfast was very similar to the one I posted last Wednesday, minus the figs. My bowl had oats, ground flax, half a mutsu apple, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and 1/3 cup egg whites. I added some peanut butter on top right before eating. mutsu oats with fig

Lunch was also similar to the one in my last WIAW post in that it also involved salmon. I swear I eat things besides salmon. This was leftover from a filet I’d made the night before, and I enjoyed it with arugula salad that also had roasted veggies (zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, and pepper), avocado, and balsamic. For dessert, I had the other half of the apple from breakfast. salmon and arugula salad with avocado

I am on a roll with forgetting to take pictures of snacks, but conveniently, I once again had Greek yogurt with coconut flour, cocoa powder, and blackberries. cocoa greek yogurt and black berries

Dinner was kind of a “what’s in the fridge that needs to get used up” meal. I steamed a sweet potato in the microwave and added some kale, roasted brussels & beets, and then topped it with a maple sausage from the farmers market and a fried egg. Oh—and a little goat cheese, yes. That was a good idea. IMG_9134

Before bed I had a sliced banana, as I often do, though not as much lately. Cheers to getting out of ruts, sort of! banana sliced in mug
What foods do you eat over and over? 

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

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