I Love Beets!


I love beets! They are truly a favorite. Plus they are loaded with nutrition benefits. Specifically beets are rich in nitrates, betaine, and the B-vitamin folate; these nutrients in beets can help your health in many ways!

Nitrates in your body are converted into nitric oxide which helps to relax and dilate blood vessels which in turn can boost blood flow. Betaine (a plant compound found in beets and other foods) has been shown to protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, and enhance performance. While folate helps to drive down levels of homocysteine in the blood, which can reduce the risk for artery damage and heart disease. 

When you are short on time to peel and cook beets, Love Beets has you covered with packages of cooked, ready to eat beets (pictured above). Look for them in a refrigerated area of the produce section of the grocery store. Also look for delicious baby beets too in flavors like honey + ginger and sweet chili. 

Check out this delicious Greek Cucumber Beet Salad recipe (See below) and some other favorite picks like: Beet and Salmon Nicoise Salad, Strawberry Rhubarb Beet Scones, or Beet Caprese Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing

Note: This isn't a sponsored post, just products I love! 

Photo from LoveBeets.com 

Photo from LoveBeets.com 

Greek Cucumber Beet Salad

Serves 6


½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced (2 cups)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ red onion, thinly sliced (1-½ cups)

1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced

1 ripe (but firm) avocado, peeled and diced

1 (8.8-ounce) package Love Beets Cooked Beets, chopped

⅓ cup fresh feta cheese, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1-½ teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon sea salt, to taste


1. Add the first 8 ingredients to a mixing bowl.
2. Whisk together the remaining 5 ingredients in a bowl.
3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss everything together until well-coated. Taste the salad for flavor and add more sea salt and/or vinegar to taste.

Click here to visit Love Beets.com for more recipes and information.


Betaine in Human Nutrition, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/3/539.full, Accessed August 15, 2017

Homocystine Lowering with Folic Acid and B Vitamins in Vascular Disease, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa060900#t=article, Accessed August 15, 2017

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Farmers Market Fresh Tomato Sauce

Farmers market season is the best! This tomato sauce is easy to make and includes all ingredients that are plentiful this time of year. 

The farmers market is the best! 

The farmers market is the best! 

Look at all those colors... ready to simmer down!

Look at all those colors... ready to simmer down!

Farmers Market Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 6 - 8


4 cups tomatoes*, chopped

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

7 oz tomato paste

2 tablespoons relish

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper 

*A variety of tomatoes works great, for example: cherry tomatoes and roma tomatoes! 


1. In a large pan saute the tomatoes, onion, and pepper for 5 - 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomato paste, relish, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 60 minutes. Stirring occasionally while simmering.

3. For a smooth sauce puree with an immersion blender. For a thicker sauce -serve as is!

Serving suggestions: serve over zucchini noodles or whole wheat pasta.

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Blueberry-Banana Bread

While blueberries are so fresh, what could be better than Blueberry-Banana Bread? This recipe is made with my favorite whole grain flour, whole wheat pastry flour, which keeps the texture nice and light!

Blueberry-Banana Bread

Blueberry-Banana Bread

Blueberry-Banana Bread

Serve 16


2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 stick butter, melted

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh blueberries


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a bread pan with parchment paper.

2. In a mixing bowl combine the melted butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir together.

3. Stir in the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir well to combine. The mixture will be thick.

4. Fold in the fresh blueberries.

5. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes until the bread is cooked through and the top is golden brown. 

Nutrition Facts (per slice): 160 calories, 6 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 130 mg sodium, 25 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 12 grams sugar, 3 grams protein

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Summer Pesto Pizza

Skinny Rules Pesto! 

Skinny Rules Pesto! 

This delicious pesto takes perfect on top of pizza for a light and delicious dinner or even appetizer. This recipe is from The Skinny Rules (Publisher: Harlequin Non-Fiction, see page 108), it's a recipe from a cousin of mine, Kristine Schoembs. What I love about this recipe is that it is only 45 calories per serving, which is much less from traditional pesto that can be loaded with calories. While the calories in pesto mostly come from healthy fats from nuts and oil, it can be hard to save enough calories in a day for a rich pesto. 

Skinny Rules Pesto

Serves 8 (1 oz servings)


2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup veggie or chicken broth

1/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 - 3 garlic cloves


Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend! Store pesto in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Nutrition facts (per flatbread pizza*): 50 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, <5 milligrams cholesterol, 100 milligrams sodium, 6 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, 3 grams protein

Photo by luchezar/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by luchezar/iStock / Getty Images


Serves 1 


Whole grain flatbread of  choice (approximately 150 calories)

1/4 cup feta cheese

1 oz Skinny Rules pesto (See recipe above)

Toppings of your choice: sliced olives, mushrooms, zucchini, olives, arugula, basil leaves, etc. 


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Top the flatbread with pesto and spread evenly around. Then top with feta cheese and toppings of choice.

Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is warm and melted. Slice and serve.

Nutrition facts (per flatbread pizza*): 273 calories, 9 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 620 milligrams sodium, 39 grams carbs, 22 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 12 grams protein

*Nutrition facts based on a Millet & Flax Flatbread (150 calories) and sliced zucchini for a topping, note: the flatbread selected and the toppings will impact the nutrition fact data. 

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Happy National Mojito Day - Strawberry Mojito



What I love about this refreshing strawberry mojito, is that it relies on the sweetness of the strawberries and skips simple syrup all together. This recipe is from my recipe book, Skinny-Size It (Publisher: Harlequin Non-Fiction)!


Serves 2


1 lime wedge, sliced into 6 wedges

8 fresh mint leaves, plus 2 mint sprigs for garnishing

4 strawberries, stems removed and cut in half, plus 2 whole strawberries for garnishing

2 ounces white rum

Club soda



1. Place 3 limed wedges and 4 mint leaves in each of 2 glasses and lightly mash in the bottom of the glass with a spoon or wooden muddler. Then add 2 strawberries to each glass and lightly muddle.

2. Top each glass with rum, club soda, and ice. Garnish each with a strawberry and sprig of mint, and serve at once. 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 80 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 0 milligrams sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates. 2 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, <1 gram protein

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The Perfect Summer Salad

This Mango Strawberry Pecan salad is perfect for summer! It is really simple to put together and is delicious.

Mango Strawberry Pecan Salad

Serves 6


2 cups chopped romaine lettuce

2 cups baby spinach, stems removed

1 mango, diced into cubes

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/4 cup feta cheese

1/4 cup pecans

Balsamic vinaigrette


In a serving bowl or on a platter start with the greens. Then top with the mango, strawberries, pecans, and feta. 

Serve with balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 100 calories, 6 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 470 milligrams sodium, 15 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 9 grams sugar, 2 grams protein

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Oh wow - DIY Vegan Mayonnaise

To start, I have to say, you must give this a try! This vegan mayonnaise was easy to make and tasted incredible!

The back story - I had picked up a bunch of cans of chickpeas so that I could experiment with aquafaba but wasn't sure what I was going to make first. Aquafaba It is the liquid that beans are cooked in. Then we were having avocado (the boys opted for bacon), lettuce, & tomato sandwiches and wanted some mayonnaise to add but we didn't have any.... this is where the aquafaba came in!

My husband did a quick search for vegan mayonnaise, and found this delicious NY Times Cooking D.I.Y. Vegan Mayonnaise recipe using aquafaba - we adapted it and used canola oil instead of the sunflower oil. Here's the recipe version that we tried:


1/4 cup aquafaba*

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons dried mustard

3/4 cup vegetable oil


In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the aquafaba, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt, sugar, and dried mustard. 

Using an immersion blender, start blending the mixture. Then as you are blending, start to slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture (my husband helped me with this part - it was helpful to have an extra set of hands to drizzle the oil while blending). Adding the oil should take about 4 - 5 minutes and the mixture will continue to thicken to the consistency of mayonnaise while blending. 

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready for use. 

*Note: From one can of chickpeas you will get about 1 cup of reserved aquafaba.

For more about aquafaba: http://aquafaba.com/

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Veggie Spiedie Sandwich

Where I live (Binghamton, NY area) Spiedies are a local staple. The history of the spiedie is debated some but the story is that the spiedie was brought to Binghamton by Italian immigrants in the 1920's. Most traditionally, spiedies were marinated lamb that was then grilled and served on fresh Italian bread.

Today around our area you mostly find that spiedies are cubes of marinated meat typically - pork, beef, or chicken. So, when I started eating vegetarian a couple of years ago, I had to figure out a plant-based solution to the traditional spiedies. Sometimes I make my own version of spiedie marinade (recipe below) and other times I use a local favorite - Lupo's spiedie marinade!

Here is a how-to and recipe (Skinnier Spiedie Sandwich - page 28- 30), that is in Skinny Size-It (Harlequin Non Fiction 2014). 

Tofu Spiedies... oh yum!&nbsp;

Tofu Spiedies... oh yum! 

 Veggie Spiedie Sandwich

Serves 4


8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 cup Spiedie Marinade (See recipe below or store bought)
4 whole-wheat flat breads (such as Flatout Healthy Grain Flatbread)
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
2 plum tomatoes, sliced


1. Remove the tofu from the package and drain the excess water by placing the tofu on a plate lined with paper towels and letting it sit for 15 - 20 minutes. Then cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place the cubes in a medium-size mixing bowl. Pour the Spiedie Marinade over the tofu and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes (works great to marinate overnight!). 

2. Lightly coast a medium-size skillet with cooking spray, and then heat the skillet over medium heat. Remove the tofu from the marinade with a slotted spoon and saute it int he skillet, turning gently with a spatula, until it has browned on all sites, about 20 - 30 minutes. 

3. Fill each flatbread with tofu cubes, shredded lettuce, and tomato slices. Fold in half and then serve!

Other tips: serve the spiedies as a salad topper or another favorite is to served topped with sauteed peppers and onions. 

Nutrition facts (per serving): 230 calories, 132 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 460 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 17 grams protein

Spiedie Marinade

Yield: 1 cup (16 tablespoons)


1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. In a mixing bowl or salad dressing shaker, combine all the ingredients, and whisk or shake, mixing thoroughly. 

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Coconut Chip Banana Bread

When it comes to making gluten-free and lower carb breads, coconut flour is a great go-to; it has a delicious flavor and still gives the bread a somewhat 'bread-like' texture. This bread adds in coconut oil for moisture - the result: a soft and delicious gluten-free banana bread. 


Coconut Chip Banana Bread

Serves 16


1 cup coconut flour
1 cup gluten-free oats
3 large bananas, mashed
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or pure vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a bread pan with butter or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, mashed bananas, baking powder, salt, and coconut sugar. Stir to combine. 

Then stir in the eggs, milk, vanilla, and coconut oil. Stir to combine again, the mixture will be thick. Then stir the chocolate chips into the mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes or until the bread is golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 9 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 180 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 10 grams sugar, 4 grams protein

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Caffeine, Children, and CAUTION

Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images

As a mom and dietitian, it is scary to me the amount of energy drinks and caffeine that young children are consuming! Caffeine is a stimulant and it is finding it's way into a lot of products and drinks, way beyond the traditional coffee or tea - from gums, chews, and energy drinks.

While children and teens may be intrigued by these products, they do not have a place in their routine, even for teen athletes. Additionally beyond the caffeine the other additives like: guarana (a plant-based stimulant) and taurine (an amino acid) are equally if not more concerning to me as they are not tested on children.

On a given day in the US research shows, about 73% of children and adolescents (ages 2 - 22) consume caffeine (Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014).  What was alarming to me is that caffeine intake was prevalent among all age groups in the study (Age ranges: 2 - 5, 6 - 11, 12 - 16, 17 - 18, and 19 - 22); while the intake amounts varied ranging from a low in the 2 - 5 year old age group of mean average intake of 15.9 mg of caffeine up to a high of 122.5 mg of caffeine per day in the oldest age group. Side effects from caffeine can range from insomnia to irritability to more serious health issues like irregular heart beats, blood pressure changes, and even death

If your child or teenager is interested in drinking energy drinks or other caffeinated products, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep. Two things we adults should remind ourselves of as well! 

Caffeine is not recommended for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents, age 12 to 18, should not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day. Additionally, adults are recommended to limit caffeine intake to 400 mg or less per day. Although, keep in mind, some people are very sensitive to caffeine or may not be able to have any due to underlying medical conditions.

A big watch out is how much caffeine is in products, as it can vary greatly from the low of 5 - 30 mg of caffeine in a decaf coffee to 300 - 400 mg in a large coffee or 160 - 300+ in an energy drink. Check out this chart by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on the caffeine content in popular drinks and products. 

When your teen is asking for energy drinks, try these energy boosting ideas instead:

- Have then sip water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels

- Snack on filling and energy boosting snacks like: fresh fruit & yogurt, banana and almond or peanut butter, whole grain crackers with sliced cheese & fruit, or baby carrots and dip

- Get plenty of sleep!

- For athletes: focus on working hard and training hard

And again, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep.


Caffeine Sources for Teens more Varied Than before, via AAP.org, Accessed May 18, 2017

Branum, et al. Trends in Caffeine Intake Among US Children and Adolescents, Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014

Teen Dies from Too Much Caffeine, CNN, Accessed May 18, 2017

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