Boost Your Nutrition Score with More

Inspired by 2 recent trips to the Central Valley in California , I am sharing a  recipe that combines pantry staples in a delicious and nutritious way to help you boost your produce and add some pow to the palate. The stars of this dish are canned tomatoes and prunes for year round enjoyment with haste , no waste and fabulous taste. I have taken the mole and elevated it by adding more produce (prunes) resulting in a fruit and vegetable sauce/dip that both meat eaters and vegetarians will love. September is National Fruit & Veggies month ™  and time to score with one more when it comes to adding produce to the plate,. This dish contributes to your produce intake with flavor to savor. And the good news is that extra can be frozen in ice cube trays. Mole, hooray! #haveaplantpledge @fruitsandveggies #haveaplant #producetoperform

CALIFORNIA INSPIRED MOLE

1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes, not drained
1 TBSP diced green chilies, canned
12 pitted prunes, sliced in half
1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
dash of cloves
dash of cumin
2 TBSP orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

Saute onion and garlic in oil until golden brown then add tomatoes, prunes, orange juice, cocoa powder and spices.. Cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Serve over chicken, pork, turkey or tofu or use as a dipping sauce with raw vegetables or to spread on a tortilla with meat and/or beans and avocado.

YIELD: 2 cups ( 4 , ½ cup servings)

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING

Calories: 112
Fat: 3.6 grams
Carbohydrate: 18.7 grams
Fiber: 2.75 grams
Sugar: 8.95  grams
Protein: 1.6 grams

Why I am a Canfan

As a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in sports dietetics I am all about helping my clients optimize their health within their calorie cap, salary cap and hourly cap. With busy lives and endless items on the to do list, many feel time challenged, money pinched and lack the knowledge or desire to spend countless hours in shopping or food preparation. As a PBH Fruit and Vegetable Ambassador in Action I want to help to close the gap between recommendations and reality. As only I in 10 is eating enough produce every day – it is time to spread the words that must be heard. #haveaplant

Let’s broadcast and reinforce the message that all produce can have a place on the plate. Fresh is fine, but availability, seasonality and palatability can diversify one’s produce portfolio. This past week I had the opportunity to do a tour of farms and canneries- and follow the journey from field to sealed. So why am I a #canfan? Canned produce provides great taste, with haste and zero waste.

Here are some highlights and insights into why canned produce should be part of a #healthyshelfie

Hard hats and hairnets were on display as we spent the day touring the plant in Oroville, CA where fruit such as peaches and pears are packed alone or mixed with other fruit for fruit cocktail.


Reach for a peach!

Peaches are picked at point of ripeness and transported to the plant within a few hours. Fruit is removed from the bins, washed and then sized. Peaches are then pitted and checked for quality. Peaches and pears are then cut into various sizes and placed into different sized cans or cold full fruit bowl lines. Once in the can or fruit bowl, they are cooked and sealed to retain the nutrients, the flavor and food safety.

I was surprised to find out some facts about canned peach compared to fresh: They are-
Higher in vitamin C
Higher in folate
Higher in antioxidants
Comparable in Vitamin E

For those of you who have canned at home, or have relatives who canned foods, the plant
uses the same techniques: You start with the fruit or vegetables and then:
Wash
Peel
Core
Slice
Trim
Chop
Fill can with food, liquid, seasoning if part of the recipe
Seal
Heat
Cool

Filled, Sealed, Delivered, their yours!

These are beauties from the peach orchard that look absolutely gorgeous and taste fabulous on a summer day in California. But in Western Pennsylvania where I live, fresh peaches will not be available most of the year. So what can you do?

Why Your Snack is the New Black

Many of us are working longer, needing to make our income go further yet trying to keep ourselves as healthy as we can. That often means needing to make a choice between going to the gym, or preparing a meal. Although we may feel time pressed and income –stretched, the good news is that we don’t have to feel guilty if we are not making or consuming regular meals. A survey from the Hartman group found that mealtimes are no longer the backbone of a daily eating plan.

More than half of Americans eating occasions are snacks and 91% of us snack multiple times a day.. So if snacking is the new meal, why have we turned to the shelf rather than the plate?

WHAT ROLE DO SNACKS SERVE?
Snacks are important as form of fuel, as a way to optimize our eating or address health issues and also for enjoyment.

FUEL
Snacks can provide an energy boost and help tide us over until the next eating occasion. Since snacks can help with energy, we may find ourselves less likely to skip a workout. Because snacks can also be in liquid form such as a smoothie- they can be an opportunity for hydration. Snacks don’t just alleviate hunger but they can also boost our concentration so we can be more productive during the day. The go-to food and beverage components to provide fuel are; water, whole grains, protein, fiber, fat, and probiotics as well as seeking out foods with less sugar.

EATING OPTIMIZATION
For certain diseases, smaller more frequent eating occasions may be beneficial so snacks can be a great way to provide and distribute nutrients throughout the day.. Snacking can alleviate the stress of a busy day. A strategically timed snack can help us to prepare or repair from a workout. In addition for those watching weight, a snack can be portion controlled to make it easier to stay within a calorie cap. Snacks chosen to optimize eating may include: beverages or foods with caffeine, protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, a lower sugar content, minerals and phyto(plant) nutrients.

ENJOYMENT
There are times when we want to eat for comfort, or reward , to satisfy a craving or for indulgence. We want great taste, flavors, interesting textures,, and excitement. Most of us would not sit down to a pouch for a meal, but the idea of squeezing is cool and fun in a snacking occasion. Who would have dreamed that kale is a popular snack chip? And for those who have not grown up with beans on the plate, a small sized hummus with carrots or pretzels, or roasted , flavored beans are increasing in popularity. We don’t have to sacrifice flavor and taste to optimize health.

THE APPEAL OF SNACKS
When we hear the word snack we think flexible, fun and easy.

FLEXIBILITY
We can fit in snacks whenever we want. Snacks are portable, shelf stable and suited to on the go lifestyles. Whereas a meal is typically composed of a protein of some kind, grain and vegetable- snack choices can be much more varied in texture, flavor, look and form. For instance, a bar could contain fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains in a convenient , portable form that we can eat on our feet-whereas a salad which could contain the same ingredients requires prepping or ordering out, a utensil and the need to sit and eat.

FUN
Snacks are an opportunity to try something new. Flavor profiles, texture and form as well as packaging make foods fun. Snacking can be a reward as well as comfort and also a source of pleasure. Eating a salad doesn’t seem fun, but having a smoothie with veggies or trying veggie chips helps us boost our produce intake in an enjoyable way.

EASE
Snacks do not require preparation and they do not have to be planned. If we felt guilty about feeling the need to choose between a workout and meal preparation, snacking can alleviate the guilt by providing nourishment within seconds. And the good news is that there are so many healthier options for snacking.
We can choose from
Nuts and seeds or spread made from nuts or seeds
Fruit in a fresh, dried, and freeze dried form
Vegetables such as baby carrots, kale, carrot or beet chips, pickles, roasted soybeans, broadbeans, lentils and chick peas
Bean based dips and chips
Yogurt based smoothies
Fruit and nut bars
Snack “kits” with cheese, fruit, nuts or meat, cheese, crackers

HOW DO YOUR SNACKS STACK UP?
Snacks can be a replacement for not a complement to meals, but in order to get the most out of your snacks do have a snacking checklist:
Do some of your snacks contain produce?
Do all of your snacks contain protein?
Do you have fluids with or as your snacks?
Do your snacking occasions make you feel satisfied?
Are you snacking throughout the day or uploading your eating?
Do you enjoy what you are snacking on?

Make your snacks work for you.

Clinch Not Grinch- Here’s to Positivity and Productivity This Holiday Season

Here we are again, at the end of the year, ready for some feasting, friendship and fun. Yet if visions of sugar plums make you feel guilty, you may deprive yourself rather than thrive over this holiday season.

Let’s take a look back and do a recap of the diets and eating trends of the year and hopefully I will offer you some strategies that make you cheer not tear.

Too many quacks, disputing the facts
Added fear to what we eat
Cleanses are cool, enhanced waters rule
Plant based substitutes for meat

Juicing is hot, food waste is not
Vegetables now swap for grains
Plants in our pour, snacks that do more
And foods that MIND our brain

Prebiotics, probiotics, fermentation’s in
Avocado, vegan, keto
Foods we choose are more than macros

Let’s not food fight, enjoy every bite
And take the time to chew
There’s room on the plate for food that tastes great
For a happy, healthy you

There is a lot of food bullying , shaming and guilt encompassing everything from gluten, GMO, sugar, dairy and meat. And while many of us intentionally eliminate foods from our plate there are too many people who are in great need because they do not have enough to eat.

In addition to the confusion on the plate there are too many so called nutrition experts weighing in with evidence based on the listserv not the literature. This results in unnecessary food avoidance and phobia based on opinion rather than fact.

We are all entitled to eat within our salary cap, our calorie cap and be nourished with foods we enjoy, based upon our food preferences, medical needs and culinary ability. We don’t need hydrogenated or alkaline waters. Our bodies are very good at eliminating toxins without the help of a cleanse.

For those who choose to be meat-less, that does not mean protein deficient. There are many palatable and affordable plant based meat alternatives that can be eaten alone or used as a base for chili, tacos, meatballs and soups. Rather than cut out grains, we can cut down and at the same time, ramp up our produce intake through the versatile and flavorful vegetable based rice and noodles, as well as cauliflower pizza crusts.

Eating fruit and vegetables provides the chew and versatility that we don’t get through juicing. If you opt for a non dairy milk alternative, do be selective with your pour to ensure that you are getting more nutritionally.

We all know that it is important to take care of our heart, mind our waist and move our body, but we should pay as much attention to our brain and incorporate foods such as fatty fish, berries, olive oil, nuts, beans and whole grains.

Taking good care of our gut is more than planks and crunches but also consuming food sources of prebiotics, probiotics and fermented products. Add yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and even kombucha to your diet to support a healthy gut.

It’s ok to try a food trend but the focus should be more on what you do rather than don’t eat. If you like animal protein, a vegan diet may be wise. If you enjoy carbs, the keto diet may not be one to try. Avocados are great but they are not the only type of fat that has to go on your toast, bowl or plate.

Enough with body bashing, and food trashing. Let’s make peace with our plate, let’s enjoy foods that taste great and let’s make this a season to celebrate. Create an enabled table with people you love, foods that excite and memories that delight.

Happy Holidays!

INTO-Itive Eating

Yes, it’s that time of the year- A new start, a new you, new habits, out with the indulgences and in with the plan. Sounds great, healthy, positive- a clean slate and a better plate, but before you delete, I want you to think a little about what you choose to eat.

We all know that there are many different reasons we choose the foods we do. Familiarity, comfort, affordability, preference, and ease can sway our food choices no in January as well as December. So when we try to overlay a list of “rules” to get on a better eating path, our underlying habits and food selections may be an obstacle.

So where does that leave us? Should we not try to make different food choices, change portions, eat more mindfully- of course that is fine, but why do we feel we have to choose one over the other. Can you have your cake and eat it too? Must cauliflower always be the substitute for rice or potatoes? Is sugar a bust and keto a must?

You may have heard term intuitive eating which is a non-diet approach where you learn to pay attention to what you want, what you need, what you are hungry for, how much you need to eat, how you feel when you eat , gauging hunger and fullness without the need to count calories, fat, carbohydrate, or protein. If is a great approach if it works for you but some people need a road map or plan to follow until they learn how to listen to their body. I would call this into-itive eating. We all need to find our buy in to be able to try out a plan.

So let me propose a different way to approach eating: What could into-itive eating look like?

Familiarity-

We are all creatures of habit when it comes to food choices. Yet we also hear about recommendations for variety as part of a healthy diet. Whether your circle of food revolves around 10 or 100 choices so a plate evaluation:
Is there some type of protein on the plate? Chicken, eggs, beef, pork, fish, shellfish, tofu, veggie burger or beans?
Is there some type of “carb on the plate?- bread, rice, potato, pasta, corn, tortilla, quinoa, cereal?
Is there some produce on the plate? Fruit, salad, raw vegetables, cooked vegetables, vegetable soup?
Is there some fat on the plate? Nuts, nut butter, avocado, oil. Salad dressing

Your breakfast could be
Oatmeal made with milk with a sliced banana and peanut butter
Lunch could be a turkey, avocado wrap with an apple
Dinner could be a piece of broiled salmon, sautéed broccoli and rice

10 items not too fancy, checks all the boxes!

Comfort

Work, relationships, exercise can sometimes be uncomfortable. Food is supposed to provide not only sustenance and substance but also enjoyment. A plain piece of boiled chicken with a few steamed green beans does not look or feel comfortable. A low-carb meal before exercise may leave you too fatigued to get the most out of your workout. When we are feeling down, a bowl of soup feels a lot better than a bowl of kale. Comfort food does not have to sabotage healthy eating. Sit down, de-stress, relax, take your time to nourish with foods that look, smell and taste appealing to you.

Affordability

An eating plan that is financially unattainable is not sustainable. Making an investment in your health means you also have to eat within your salary cap. As you consider your food choices, think about food cost, and how those foods fit into your budget. If you buy a lot of food and end up throwing it away, that is money down the drain. Certain grocery store items and specialty items are pricier than others. The goal is not be plate poor. Draft a food budget to determine how much you are willing to spend on what you eat.

Preference

As you think about your food choices, consider the texture, temperature and flavor profile. Some of you may be into spicy, crunchy, savory foods while others prefer less seasoned items. There is not right or wrong, but if your meal choices or the “diet” recommendations are primarily composed of foods you don’t like, you will not be likely to follow the plan long term. Your taste buds need to be part of the selection process. Think about foods you normally gravitate towards to help you identify your preferences.

Ease

Even though eating is something we have to do, many of us don’t want to worry about the shopping, preparation and clean up. Your into-itive eating plan may be convenience, grab and go, frozen meals or smoothies. Can you still nourish your body well even if you don’t like to cook?
Grocery stores sell prepared foods, many restaurants offer the ability to customize offerings and portions.

Strategize, individualize and personalize your eating to get into-it to be more likely to do it and stick with it in 2019.

P is for Performance, Pizazz and Pieorgies

I am a Pittsburgh girl and pierogis and if you live in this city, you love pierogies. Hey, we are the only MLB team that has pierogis that run the bases! So to gear up for National Pierogi day on October 8th, why not try some of Mrs. T’s pierogi recipes.

I prepared the following three recipes and I have to say they were a home run, touchdown and GOALLLLL!

The first is Buffalo Pierogies. Sure, everyone loves Buffalo wings, but they are often deep fried and very high in saturated fat. So, why not prepare Pierogies with the same flavor?

Here you go

BUFFALO MINI PIEROGIES

1 box Mini Four cheese medley Mrs. T’s pierogies
non stick cooking spray
½ stick butter, melted
½ cup Buffalo wing sauce
½ teaspoon chili powder

Mix 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ packet ranch dressing dip mix and add in 1 TBSP blue cheese crumbles

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine melted butter, Buffalo wing sauce, and chili powder and toss with pierogies.

Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and spread pierogies evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until pierogies are browned, For best results, turn over halfway through baking.

Serve with dip and carrot and celery sticks for 1 stop shopping: carbs, protein and produce on your plate!

YIELD: 5 servings

Instead of the same old pizza, how about a new twist? Pierogies as the base topped with your favorite pizza toppings. The new Five Cheese Pizza pierogies provide a flavor to savor. I love that this recipe is so easy, so tasty not heavy and not greasy!

PIEROGY PIZZA

1 16 oz box Mrs T’s Five Cheese Pizza  pierogies
½ cup pizza sauce
¼ cup sliced turkey pepperoni
½ cup shredded mozzarella
Chopped green peppers, mushrooms. Sliced olives, and onions.

DIRECTIONS:

Boil pierogies as directed on the box. Drain. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 10-12 inch pizza pan. Arrange 2 pierogies in the center of the pizza pan, with straight slides slightly overlapping. Arrange the remaining pierogies around the center pierogies in a concentric circle, slightly overlapping, pressing pierogies together to form a complete circl.e

Spread pizza sauce over the pierogies to cover. Top with peppers, onions, mushrooms, sliced olives and turkey pepperoni. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and pieorgies are heated through. Cut into wedges to serve.

YIELD: 4 servings

Certainly pierogies sautéed in butter are just heavenly, but if you are looking to lighten up without sacrificing taste, this recipe is for you.

OVEN BAKED PIEROGIES

1 box Mini Four cheese medley pierogies
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 TBSP dried basil
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 TBSP paprika
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs, beaten
non stick cooking spray
Marinara sauce and ranch dressing.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat ovent to 425 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. In another bowl, beat the eggs.

One by one, coat each pierogi with egg, and then in the breadcrumbs. Make sure they are fully coated. Lay pierogies flat on the greased baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with marinara sauce and a light Ranch dip made with plain Greek yogurt and ranch dressing dip mix.

YIELD: 5 servings

Get Your POM On

If you are a football fan, you know that sometimes your team makes you cheer or end up in tears. But you can always score with your pour. POM wonderful delivers the perfect combo of sweet and tart as well as health benefits, to give your body a smart start. Pomegranates are high in antioxidants to help fight off disease and keep the body healthy. Pomegranate juice is a good source of potassium, a mineral that most of us fall short on every day. Plus there is no added sugar making POM Wonderful a better choice than sugar sweetened beverages.

POM SPRITZERS

Fill a glass halfway with POM Wonderful’s 100% pomegranate juice and then fill the rest of the way with a lime or orange seltzer water. Squeeze in a little fresh lime or orange and enjoy. Cheers!

IF BBQ is on your menu, try these chicken  sliders that use POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice in the marinade.

SOUTHWESTERN POM WONDERFUL PULLED CHICKEN SANDWICH

½ cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons canola oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp chili powder
¾ tsp salt or sea salt
¾ tsp black pepper, freshly ground if desired
4 whole grain sandwich rolls
1 cup coleslaw mix
¼ cup fresh cilantro sprigs

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and onion and sauté until both are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the pomegranate juice, chili powder, salt, and pepper, cover and cook over medium heat until the chicken is well-done, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from the heat.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and slice thinly. Return the chicken to the pan and cook with the onion and juices for another 3 minutes until the juice is absorbed.

Place a spoonful of chicken on ½ of the bun, top with coleslaw mix and cilantro.

YIELD: 4 servings

Get on the Right Track with Your Snack!

Oh what a wonderful morning, afternoon or evening when Wonderful Pistachios are in the house. Full of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats as well as protein and fiber make them a nutrition powerhouse that deliver on health and flavor. Plus., they make keep you fuller longer than other snacks and 49 pistachios is a nice serving size. As an added bonus pistachios in the shell mean you have to work harder to crack your snack!

I love them as they are, But also in recipes. Here are two recipes with pistachios, a pesto and hummus.

PISTACHIO PESTO PASTA SALAD

Pistachios replace the pine nuts and the lemon adds a lovely flavor to this delicious dish.

INGREDIENTS

1/8 cup Wonderful Pistachios,. shelled
2 cups basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp grated lemon peel
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Add Wonderful pistachios. Basil, garlic, lemon juice, zest and Parmesan cheese to a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.

Stream olive oil through the food chute and puree until smooth.

Boil 4 quarts of water and add a box of pasta shells. Cook until done. Drain and toss with ¾ of the pesto. Add sliced grape tomatoes and mozzarella pearls.

YIELD: 8 servings

PISTACHIO HUMMUS

Instead of the tahini, ground pistachios add a lovely nutty flavor to hummus.

INGREDIENTS

2, 15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans, drain half of the liquid and use the rest
3 TBSP pistachios, shelled
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, blend together the pistachios and olive oil until smooth, add garbanzo beans with half of the liquid and the garlic. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Blend until smooth.

Serve with cut up vegetables

YIELD: 8 servings

A Snackdown That Stacks Up

When we hear the word “snack” we think fast, indulgent, delicious but not necessarily nutritious. The beauty of dairy is the versatility, simplicity and delivery of nutritional pow with a taste that wows. When time is short and hunger levels are high, dairy can be your go to and go with. Dairy foods are a complement to fruits, vegetables and whole grains to take snacking from ho hum to yum! Dairy snacks are tasty, versatile, easy and budget friendly.

SO WHY DAIRY?

Dairy is all about simplicity. A short list of ingredients that are long on flavor and nutritional benefits. Milk provides 9 essential nutrients, Yogurt provides 7 essential nutrients and cheese provides 6 essential nutrients that help your snacks to nutritionally stack up.

EASE OF USE

Dairy foods are ready to eat. They are great stand alone or combined with other foods such as a glass of low-fat chocolate milk and a banana with peanut butter.

CHOCOLATE MILK AND BANANA WITH PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH

Pour an 8-ounce glass of low-fat chocolate milk
Slice a small banana in half lengthwise and then cut each slice in half to have four pieces.
Spread 1 Tablespoon peanut over the 4 pieces.
Press 2 pieces together for a banana sandwich.

YIELD: 1 glass milk and 2 “sandwiches”

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 334
Fat: 10.8 grams
Carbohydrate: 54.8 grams
Sugar: 37.7 grams
Fiber: 3.6 grams
Protein: 12.6 grams
Calcium: 312.2 milligrams
Potassium: 895.2 milligrams

Plain low-fat Greek yogurt flavored with taco seasoning, onion soup mix or vegetable soup mix makes a high protein dip. Cottage cheese can be enjoyed as is, combined with fruit, or mixed with salsa. Cheese pairs beautifully with fruit, works as a tortilla topper or adds the show stopping topping to mini pizzas.

PROTEIN

Dairy foods are a great source of protein, which helps to make us feel fuller for longer. Many snack foods can be long on carbs but short on protein. A small dish of cottage cheese with applesauce and cereal is an easy protein–rich snack parfait. Yogurt is a ready to eat treat and an easy snack, but for a hack try plain Greek yogurt and add your own seasonings to taste such as cumin, chili powder, dill , garlic or onion powder and a little salt and use as a dip for bean chips and vegetables.

GREEK YOGURT DIP

5-ounce container nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 packet Taco seasoning- or add your own herbs and spices if you want to lower the sodium content

Mix together and serve with cut up vegetables. If you want to use chips. Keep the portion to 1 ounce of chips.

YIELD: 1 serving

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 252
Fat: 7.1 grams
Carbohydrate: 29.9 grams
Sugars: 6.9 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 19.5 grams
Calcium: 193.2 milligrams
Potassium: 487.1 milligrams

Dairy adds the creaminess and texture to a recipe. Oatmeal is not just a breakfast food, but is wonderful as a snack, and when combined with low fat vanilla Greek yogurt and pumpkin makes for a satisfying and tasty snack.

PUMPKIN OATS

1/3 cup oats, dry
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1.5 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 TBSP chopped prunes
1/2 TBSP chopped walnuts

Mix together oats, pumpkin, yogurt, spice, and maple syrup. Eat right away or refrigerate and eat later. When ready to eat, top with prunes and walnuts.

YIELD: 1 serving

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 285
Fat: 6.8 grams
Carbohydrate: 45.6 grams
Sugar: 19.8 grams
Fiber: 5.9 grams
Protein: 13.6 grams
Calcium: 131.7 milligrams
Potassium: 483.2 milligrams

VERSATILITY

The versatility of milk is that it can be consumed in a glass, or added to smoothies with fruit, or in a bowl of cereal for a quick snack that keeps your nutrition on track.

CHEESE PLEASE

Cheese is a food that some people may limit due to the calories and fat. The good news is that there are several varieties of lower-fat cheese, but also several forms of full fat cheese to cut the fat and calories. Try cheese and fruit kebabs for a savory and sweet snack option. Alternate cubes of cheese with sliced fruit on toothpicks.

CHEESE AND FRUIT SKEWERS

8 cheese cubes (% fat of choice)
4 strawberry halves
4 chunks of pineapple
Alternate cheese and fruit on skewers

SERVING SIZE: 3 skewers

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 147
Fat: 10 grams
Carbohydrate: 6.5 grams
Fiber: 0.9 grams
Sugar: 4.8 grams
Protein: 8.4 grams
Calcium: 203.5 milligrams
Potassium: 103.6 milligrams

How about a mini caprese snack pizza? Mini fresh mozzarella balls with tomato on a whole wheat sandwich thins with pesto makes for a delicious and satisfying snack.

MINI CAPRESE FLATBREAD

1 whole grain sandwich thin
1.5 teaspoons pesto
4 cherry tomatoes. Sliced
2 fresh mozzarella mini rounds, or 3 to a package, – if you use the round- slice into 4 slices or if you use the 3 to a package, slice in half to yield 6 small slices

Open the sandwich thin and lay flat. Spoon and spread ¾ teaspoon pesto on each half. Arrange slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella.

SERVING SIZE: 2 halves

NUTRITIONAL FACTS
Calories: 289
Fat: 13.65 grams
Carbohydrate: 27.75 grams
Fiber: 5.15 grams
Sugar: 1.75 grams
Protein: 14.4 grams
Calcium: 122.5 milligrams
Potassium: 230 milligrams

Cheese can add the protein to salsa. Mix ¼ cup shredded low-fat Cheddar in ½ cup salsa and serve with vegetables for a flavor-rich, nutrient dense snack.

LESS WASTE

Dairy can be a great way to reuse, repurpose and renew your snacks. Add the leftover cereal crumbs to cottage cheese or yogurt. Use up that brown banana by mixing with milk in a smoothie. Sprinkle the last of the cheese onto a tortilla and top with salsa. Turn leftover oats into something dreamy by adding a little bit of creamy Greek yogurt.

Dairy ups your nutrition score in your pour, bowl or on your plate with variety, satiety and a taste that is just great! For more simple dairy snacks and inspiration, check out UndeniablyDairy.org.

This post is created by Leslie Bonci, registered dietitian as part of the Undeniably Dairy campaign, sponsored by the Innovation Center for US Dairy and America’s Dairy Farm Families and Importers. I would like to express my gratitude to the farmers and processors who make sure that their dairy products deliver on quality, consistency, and simplicity.

Noodle Prudding

Food is comfort. This tasty combo of noodles, dairy and prunes makes me remember my grandmother, Nana Polly.  Sweet, creamy, crunchy deliciousness. Like a fleece blanket for the tummy- cozy on up and enjoy

½ pound fine egg noodles
2 TBSP melted butter
1 cup plain Greek yogurt, low-fat
1 cup small curd cottage cheese, low-fat
3 eggs,
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup prune puree
½ cup 2% milk
½ cup diced prunes

PRUNE PUREE
2/3 cup pitted prunes
3 TBSP hot water
Puree in blender or food processor until smooth

TOPPING
½ cup chopped slivered almonds
¼ tsp sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
Mix together in a small bowl and set aside.

DIRECTIONS
Boil 3 cups of fine noodles, dry in 2 quarts boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until done. Drain and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs, Greek yogurt, Cottage cheese, prune puree, melted butter, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth. Stir in the prune pieces.

Stir the noodles into the egg mixture and pour into a buttered 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle on the almond topping.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

YIELD: 12 servings
Per serving
Calories: 226
Fat: 7.3 grams
Carbohydrate: 33.3 grams
Fiber: 2.2 grams
Sugar: 13.2 grams
Protein: 10 grams