Cantaloupe Cucumber Prune Salsa


1/3 cup chopped cucumber, not peeled
2/3 cup cantaloupe, cut into small bite sized chunks
2 Tablespoons, finely chopped red onion
5 prunes, finely chopped
1.5 teaspoons minced hot red chili pepper
1.5 Tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
Juice of ½ lime
1/8 teaspoon lime zest


Mix all ingredients together. Serve with chips, cut up vegetables, or as a topping for chicken or fish to bring the delish and nutrish to the dish

Be in the Know with Your Pro

Be in the Know with Your Pro

As a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, I am all about communicating the importance of consistency, quality and quantity of foods to eat to strategize, optimize and realize goals. To be strong, go long, restore to do more… it is important to get the most out of food choices. With many of my athletes/active clients expressing interest in plant-based eating, I want them to capitalize on food choices to maximize the benefits.  So how can you be plant-based and still meet your nutrient needs to support fueling for exercise and recovery?

Consider soy foods, which were highlighted in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as great food choices in the protein category and the only plant based nutritionally appropriate alternatives for milk and yogurt. (U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

Why do food choices matter to active individuals?

Optimizing intake is not only beneficial for performance but also health. Carbohydrate and fat are critically important as fuel sources for shorter and longer workouts at varying intensities, but protein is critically important for many reasons beyond muscle growth, including :

  • Muscle protein repair
  • Bone health
  • Remodeling protein in muscle, bone, tendons and ligaments
  • To support a healthy immune system
  • As a component of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies
  • As a source of energy for the muscle, liver and intestines
  • To maintain blood glucose (sugar) balance
  • To increase lean body mass
  • To produce plasma proteins
  • To aid in weight management

Well, why do we have to eat enough protein everyday? We use the term protein balance. If the goals is to increase muscle mass, the key is to be in positive protein balance where protein synthesis is greater than protein breakdown. Even if one is not actively trying to increase muscle, muscle preservation is important and is influenced by protein sources, quantity and distribution over the day. And as we age, being preventive and proactive with exercise and protein intake may help to decrease the risk of sarcopenia- the muscle loss that occurs with aging.

Quality matters

Protein quality is determined by its amino acid composition and the body’s ability to breakdown and utilize those amino acids.  For active individuals, consuming enough leucine is critically important as leucine can be the trigger for muscle protein synthesis. In addition, the dietary leucine requirement of older individuals may be higher than those of younger individuals. Szwiega S, Pencharz PB, Rafii M, Lebarron M, Chang J, Ball RO, Kong D, Xu L, Elango R, Courtney-Martin G. Dietary leucine requirement of older men and women is higher than current recommendations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Feb 2;113(2):410-419. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa323. PMID: 33330915; PMCID: PMC7851820.

For those interested in increasing muscle mass, when soy protein is compared to whey protein , there are similar gains in muscle mass and strength when combined with resistance exercise. Messina M, Lynch H, Dickinson JM, Reed KE. No Difference Between the Effects of Supplementing With Soy Protein Versus Animal Protein on Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Response to Resistance Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2018 Nov 1;28(6):674-685. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0071. Epub 2018 Oct 26. PMID: 29722584.

If the goal is to increase muscle mass, soy foods and soy protein supplements are appropriate choices for plant- based athletes as well as those who may not tolerate or are allergic to dairy foods and dairy based supplements.

So, if you eat primarily plant based protein , soy can be a great way to ensure you meet protein requirements through the foods you eat. And because it is so versatile, soy can be eaten alone or paired with other foods for nutrient amplification and flavorful combinations like these:

  • A tofu/veggie stir fry
  • Roasted edamame and popcorn trail mix
  • Soy nut butter on bread
  • Veggie crumbles and black bean taco with shredded cabbage and salsa

In addition, my athletes and clients are busy- between workouts, practices and jobs they don’t necessarily want to have to spend a lot of time in food preparation. Soy makes meal prep a breeze with taste to please. And of added bonus, soy on the plate contributes to plant intake and is often consumed with other fruits and vegetables such as a tofu stir fry, a soy yogurt and soy milk with fruit smoothie, or a tofu vegetable scramble. Soy delivers on portable , packable and non- perishable protein, such as roasted soy nuts, soynut butter and aseptic packages of soymilk so you can be on the go with your pro.

Protein  Quantitiy

So how much protein do you need to eat everyday? The Recommended Dietary Allowances guidelines are for 0.4 grams of protein per pound body weight. Robert R Wolfe, Amy M Cifelli, Georgia Kostas, Il-Young Kim, Optimizing Protein Intake in Adults: Interpretation and Application of the Recommended Dietary Allowance Compared with the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 8, Issue 2, March 2017, Pages 266–275,

For a 150 pound individual, that would be about 54 grams of protein a day. So, is that enough? It depends upon your health, your activity level, and your weight goals.  Protein is critically important to maintenance of lean mass especially when trying to lose body fat, but more than you need is just excess. Remember, when you are adding up your intake include the protein from supplements not just food.

If you are an athlete, exercising more than an hour daily, and you are trying to increase muscle, lose body fat, or prevent muscle loss, your protein needs may be higher. Also, older individuals who are  active may have higher protein requirements than their sedentary counterparts for muscle preservation. Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2011.619204. PMID: 22150425.

Jäger R, Kerksick CM, Campbell BI, Cribb PJ, Wells SD, Skwiat TM, Purpura M, Ziegenfuss TN, Ferrando AA, Arent SM, Smith-Ryan AE, Stout JR, Arciero PJ, Ormsbee MJ, Taylor LW, Wilborn CD, Kalman DS, Kreider RB, Willoughby DS, Hoffman JR, Krzykowski JL, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 20;14:20. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8. PMID: 28642676; PMCID: PMC5477153.

Protein Requirements


Type of athlete Protein gms/lb BW 150- pound individual
Recreational 0.5-0.7 75-107
Masters athletes 0.54 81
Endurance 0.54-0.63 81-94
Strength training 0.72-0.77 108-115
Teenage athlete 0.7-0.9 105-135
Gaining mass 0.72-1.0 108-150
Calorie restricted 0.72 108

Protein distribution

When you consume protein is AS important as the amount consumed. Remember, the goal is to be in positive protein balance. So to do this, we must eat enough protein and include protein as part of every meal and snack. As a first step, think about how you consume protein. Do you eat very little protein-containing foods at breakfast and lunch and then a lot at dinner? If so, consider including protein-containing foods as part of each meal.

Protein timing for activity

I talk to my athletes and active clients about parenthesizing exercise with food. In other words, for more strenuous and/or longer duration activity, it is important to prefuel and re-fuel. The goal is to prepare for the activity –and repair from the activity you did so you can do it again. If your goal is to build muscle, the hand to mouth exercise is as important as the physical exercise. Carbohydrate and protein can be of benefit pre- and post- exercise, and a little goes a long way. Consuming smaller amounts pre- exercise can minimize gut distress. Ending exercise with a snack rather than a meal also works well.

Here are some suggestions:

  • A soymilk smoothie
  • Energy bites made with roasted soy nuts, soynut butter, oats, honey and dried fruit
  • Soy yogurt with a little cereal
  • A soy- based sports bar

Protein sources

So how do you know how much protein you are consuming?

If you are trying to have enough protein, aim for at least 20 -30 grams of protein at a meal. This can be a combination of animal and plant –based protein sources. Although 20-30 grams of protein per meal may not seem like much, we must also consider gut comfort, volume and amount of time allotted to eat between workouts, jobs, classes, etc. There are many plant based- proteins to choose from but they must fit within a calorie cap, gut comfort, time to consume, etc.

Soy foods are a quick prep, and provide a significant amount of protein in a small volume. Many are low in fat, to minimize gut discomfort, and can be consumed in several different forms. Some of my male athletes and active clients have expressed concern that eating soy foods could lower testosterone levels and increase estrogen. There is a misperception among some males, that the isoflavones or phytoestrogens in soy will alter hormone levels. Soy and soy isoflavones have no effect on testosterone or estrogen levels in men. Katharine E. Reed, Juliana Camargo, Jill Hamilton-Reeves, Mindy Kurzer, Mark Messina, Neither soy nor isoflavone intake affects male reproductive hormones: An expanded and updated meta-analysis of clinical studies ,Reproductive Toxicology.Volume 100,2021, (

From a culinary and versatility perspective, soy can be consumed as is, or dressed up with other foods, spices, sauces, etc. Here are some easy ways to incorporate soy into your day.


  • Higher protein cereal or granola with soy milk , fruit and pistachios
  • Soy based sausage breakfast sandwich
  • Scrambled tofu with spinach and mushrooms and a side of potatoes
  • Smoothie made with soy yogurt soy milk, fruit


  • Lentil soup with veggie crumbles, canned tomatoes and rice
  • Flavored baked tofu on a salad with slivered almonds and mango
  • Shelled edamame, rice noodles shredded carrots, pineapple in a soy sauce-peanut butter dressing


  • Hummus with soy protein isolate added served with veggies and pita chips
  • Roasted edamame, dried fruit and cereal trail mix
  • Soy yogurt with fruit and granola


  • Pasta with veggie crumbles in the sauce as well as pureed cannellini beans
  • Stir fry with ginger teriyaki tofu, cashews, veggies over rice
  • Grilled tofu or tempeh/veggie kebabs over soba noodles


Keep a protein log to see how much protein you are consuming over the course of the day. To meet your protein needs, try to consume protein at each meal along with produce

(fruits/veggies) and some type of grain.  Include protein at snacks as well as meals.

Bottom line

It’s important to get it right with your protein bites. Consuming high quality protein like soy as well as trying to more evenly distribute protein over the day rather than just focusing a daily number of grams of protein to consume can help you to be well, stay well and play well.

Let’s appreciate those who cultivate and create the produce on our plate

When I think of summer, visions of watermelon, tomatoes, berries, cherries, cucumbers, corn peppers and peaches make me hungry and happy. For all of us who have tried successfully or not to grow our own produce, we should have tons of appreciation for those whom this is their vocation. Spring and summer herald the opening of farmer’s markets with all their eye candy that tastes just dandy. So who do we have to thank for farmers markets? Um, FARMERS! It is their labor of love, toil, care for their crops and the soil that allows us to purchase and partake of the  yield from their field.

The farming community makes up <2% of the US population

98% of farms are owned by

  • Individuals
  • Family partnerships
  • Family corporations

So farms are truly a family affair demonstrating care for their workers, crops, and land and bringing their products to market to share with consumers.

Farmers are stewards of the seed, their soil, their plants and the earth. They must understand crop science, utilizing science to help them know more about how to optimize what they choose to grow. Therefore, we need to be ag-vocate, being grateful and thankful to farmers for what they do, embracing technology to help with sustainability and nutrition quality.

Agriculture has made many advances to combat some of the impact of climate change and increased demand. These advances have led to:

  • Improved nutrition quality
  • Increased crop productivity
  • Greater resistance to insect damage
  • Immunity to plant diseases
  • Longer shelf life
  • Improved flavor
  • Improved availability
  • Greater affordability

In addition, the efforts of the farming community have resulted in

  • Decreased use of water, fertilizer, pesticides
  • Decreased impact on ecosystems
  • Increased worker safety

Strategies such as Climate Start is a smart way for farmers to control what they can and be proactive while increasing proficiency and efficiency.

These include:

  • Crop rotation
  • Cover crops
  • No Till farming
  • Higher yield seeds
  • Precision Nitrogen Use
  • Enhanced water efficiency

All of these strategies can help to reduce carbon footprint and also the environmental footprint to help with conservation and preservation of natural resources.

So as you bite into that juicy peach, sit down to savor that tomato in your caprese salad, grab a handful of cherries, or your first corn of the season, do say thank you to those who #feedtheneed. And next time you go to a farmers market, do acknowledge and appreciate all the hard working men and women who bring the fruits and vegetables of their labor from their fields to our plates. #haveaplant

Destress, get rest, and eat your best.

S-T-R-E-S-S! Good, bad, happy or sad- stress is a part of our lives. Deadlines, family issues, job security, money worries, relationships, and the list goes on and on. It is not so much that we experience stress but how we respond to the stress in our lives. When stress is left unchecked, it can have negative consequences on health such as increased blood pressure, increased blood glucose, increased cholesterol levels and digestive distress. So what can we do? The good news is that taking care of our health is the best way to handle a stressed self. Produce can help to reduce the negative consequences of stress and getting enough rest allows us to restore, renew and refresh So #haveaplant or a few as a way of creating a less-stressed you!

Food can play a role in reducing stress by helping us to detonate, defuse and divert . For many, the response to stress is to seek out certain foods which can provide the immediate soothing effect but may also provoke feelings of guilt. We should never feel guilty or ashamed of the foods we eat! NEVER!!! So don’t stress yourself more by food avoidance, instead- consider “swap fors” or “add-tos” as a strategy to get the most from what you eat. And consider ALL produce options. Do not feel compelled to only buy organic or fresh produce. Produce is packed with phytonutrients for a healthy gut as well as antioxidants to help to decrease some of the physiological effects of stress.
Shop your kitchen shelf for the nutritional wealth in canned, frozen and dried forms.

This could be as simple as:
• Adding canned pumpkin to oatmeal
• Add freeze- dried fruit and roasted chick peas to popcorn
• Throwing coleslaw mix into a wrap
• Adding mashed beans to mac and cheese
• Throwing leftover veggies into eggs and topping with salsa or bruschetta sauce


The effect of sleep deprivation is health devastation. Inadequate rest can have deleterious consequences on blood pressure, blood glucose, blood cholesterol, focus and even weight. Being stressed and not getting enough rest is a recipe for disaster! So let’s control what we can with a great sleep hygiene and eating plan.

When you days are busy, you may not have the desire or time to devote to creating meals. The good news is that there are so many time-saving ways to meet your produce needs with great taste, haste and no waste.

• Open a can of beans to add protein to a sauce
• Salsa is a great topping for chicken or fish
• Frozen stiri fried veggies add the produce to the pan
• Your blender is the solution for quick soups and smoothies
• Pull out those popsicle molds and fill them with pureed fruit and veggies for cropsicles

Plus adding produce to evening meals and snacks lightens up the bites and adds the good for me with improved digestibility so the body isn’t having a fiesta when you are trying to take a siesta!

Try an evening snack of
• Yogurt with berries
• A fruit smoothie
• Bean dip and veggies
• Apple or banana with peanut butter
• Watermelon-strawberry slushie

All provide a tasty treat without resulting in sleep defeat.

A frittata is our go-to. The perfect pairing of protein from the eggs and cheese and produce in the veggies and salsa makes this a dish that is sure to please. For those of us who are not great at doing the omelet flip, a frittata lets you skip it! Easy, tasty and fail proof, plus one stop chopping translates to less time spent doing dishes!


For 2 people

6 eggs
4 cups of veggies: spinach, broccoli, kale, peppers, mushrooms, onions, squash, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes- I use fresh, frozen or canned- whatever is on hand
Sliced olives, optional
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Herbs/spices: Italian seasoning, rosemary ,parsley- fresh or dried
Salt, pepper to taste ( I always use a little cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes for some zip!)
Feta, goat or blue cheese crumbles ( optional)
Topping such as marinara, bruschetta sauce or salsa

In a large pan, sauté veggies in the oil until soft. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a little water and season as desired and add the cheese crumbles if desired Pour over the vegetables, cover the pan with a lid and cook until done. Top with sauce or serve sauce on the side and accompany with mixed greens.

So #haveaplant to reduce the stress, boost the nutritional goodness and be your best!

Chews to Fuel Your Moves

As a sports dietitian working with athletes and active people, I like to communicate and educate on the benefits of fueling for long duration activity, or all day events to help optimize performance. Carbohydrate during longer duration exercise > 1 hour can be a game changer in helping to preserve strength, speed, and stamina. There a lots of choices on the shelves at all price points, in all forms and a variety of flavors and textures. As a way to add some variety to your fuel mix, why not licorice?

Working with ultra athletes, endurance cyclists, marathoners and triathletes, one of the common complaints that I hear is taste fatigue and boredom with fuel choices. Granted, during exercise is not the time for a buffet, but on the other  hand, what we choose should be palatable and enjoyable. If what we choose doesn’t taste good or causes gut discomfort, it won’t be consumed  which can have adverse consequences on performance. Many of my athletes have turned to chews, gels, pureed fruit pouches and electrolyte enhanced jelly beans, But those items can be expensive and are not always palatable, plus some can feel tacky on the teeth or heavy on the tongue. So what is another option?

Here is a new fav of mine :Wiley Wallaby soft & chewy licorice is a tasty treat that can help prevent carbohydrate deplete during duration exercise. The recommendation for carbohydrate consumption is 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour after the first hour of exercise. In addition, a mix of carbohydrate may help to prevent digestive distress. Wiley Wallaby licorice per 3 piece serving delivers:

22 grams of carbohydrate in the form of sugar and corn syrup ( glucose and fructose)
12 grams of sugar
Very low  fat
With a flavor and texture profile that brings variety to the palate without sticking to the teeth.

This would be great for all day events such as track meets, baseball tournaments, swim meets,  or soccer tournaments as a portable, non-perishable, affordable and palatable fueling choice between games or events.

There are many other products on the market but some are higher in sugar and also higher in price.

Wiley Wallaby 90 22 12 $0.29
GU 100 23 7 $1.50
Bolt chews 80 20 11 $1.25
Sports Beans 100 25 17 $1.14
Gatorade Chews 100 24 9 $0.99

As with any other carbohydrate source during exercise, it is also important to not over do and to make sure to optimally hydrate. You can put the licorice into small bags in 3 piece portions and add it to your fueling rotation and follow with appropriate hydration.

So think out of the bag and broaden your activity fueling menu to bring the function and flavor to your chews to help you cruise.

Leslie Bonci, MPH,RDN,CSSD,LDN is a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who has worked with recreational to professional athletes, including Iron man finishers and the Kansas City Chiefs. She is the owner of Active Eating Advice by Leslie and co-founder of Performance365- a sports nutrition consulting company

No Need to Reduce, It’s Time To Boost! Let’s Cheer, Not Fear, Fruits & Veggies.

When it comes to scare tactics that may prevent you from eating plants, we certainly aren’t here for it! The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published their annual “Dirty Dozen” list, which ranks fruits and vegetables according to pesticide levels deemed “dangerous” by EWG.  This list is known to instill fear in consumers and can result in people taking fruits and veggies off their plate. If you want to eat “clean,” simply wash your hands, utensils, cutting boards and produce.

The Dirty Dozen can be considered food bullying, and based on inaccurate information, it’s designed to scare, disguised as care. With too many people already dealing with some degree of food and nutrition insecurity and with most Americans falling short on daily fruit and vegetable intake to support health and well-being, we certainly don’t need to fuel more guilt and uncertainty. Reaching for fresh, frozen, dried, canned and 100% juice varieties are all our great ways to work more fruits and veggies into your eating plan.

Famers take the necessary steps to be in-the-know about the safety of the foods they grow to protect their family and yours. If you remove produce in your eating plan due to silly scare tactics, the impact can be harmful to your health – especially related to supporting your immunity, lowering risk of disease and optimizing health.

Let’s say “hooray” rather than run away from fruits and vegetables. Follow guidelines from the Alliance for Food and Farming at to maximize produce intake and minimize safety concerns with these three simple steps:

Let’s cheer not fear produce by taking these simple steps to be safe consumption. It’s time to take a stand against the produce bullying and spread of misinformation. Buy what you will eat, what is available, affordable and enjoyable as consuming produce in any way, is the goal every day. Learn more about the benefits of fruits and vegetables, and what we know about pesticides in produce, here.

Right Bites -The Why and How of Nourishing Your Children

Why does nutrition matter in the birth to 23 month timeframe?

This is a critical time for growth and development of:

  • brain
  • muscles
  • bone
  • heart
  • digestive tract
  • healthy immune system

This is the time when children can develop a healthy eating pattern – starting with complementary foods at 6 months — which helps to broaden the palate with exposure to a variety of foods, tastes, textures and temperatures.

What can parents, grandparents, and/or caregivers do to support good nutrition for young children?

  • Lead by example. Eat the same foods you feed to the little ones in your family or in your care.
  • Do follow child’s lead and avoid force-feeding to let young children determine their level of fullness.
  • Make mealtime a fun zone not a battle zone.
  • Be patient, feeding skills take time to master and need to be practiced.
  • Don’t use food as a reward or punishment – it is nourishment for health and development.
  • Do be careful with foods that can present choking hazards – aim for a safe plate.

What is the Top advice for 6-11-month-olds?

  • Make sure your baby has the strength and stability to sit upright with little or no support.
  • Make sure the baby is interested in food and can make use of a spoon to move food into their mouth.
  • Minimize distractions around feeding time. No toys on the tray for your little and no screen time for whoever is doing the feeding.
  • Breast milk, formula and water.
  • Baby sized bites – smaller more frequent feedings over the day- #MakeEveryBiteCount.
  • Think finger foods or easy to swallow foods.
  • Yogurt (unflavored) and cheese can be introduced as complementary foods.
  • Iron fortified infant cereals.
  • Strained or pureed fruits and vegetables.
  • Strained or pureed meats and mashed or pureed beans – you can buy or make your own.

What is the top advice for 12-23 month-olds?

  • Plain whole milk, reduced-fat cheese and reduced-fat, plain yogurt.
  • Great grains such as bread, bagels, ready to eat cereal, cooked cereal, rice or pasta – do include whole grain options in the mix.
  • Fruit can be chopped, cooked, canned in juice or offered whole.
  • Vegetables can be cooked, canned, or chopped, fresh.
  • Protein such as beef, pork, poultry, fish – cooked and in small pieces, beans, lentils, chopped nuts or nut butter and eggs.
  • Beverages are breast milk, plain whole milk and water.
  • Let your toddler decide how much to eat.
  • If at first, they will not feed, try try again.
  • Try to feed on a schedule – smaller amounts more frequently.
  • Eat the same foods you give your little one.
  • Be careful with foods that may be difficult to swallow.
  • Keep the distractions to a minimum around mealtime.
  • Right sized is child-wise.

Cherry Cassata Cake: A Valentine’s Day treat for your favorite sweet!

My mother-in law used to make a cassata cake for my husband each year for his birthday. I put my own special spin on this recipe for a treat for my sweet!

Chocolate pound cake- homemade or store bought
Lemon pound cake homemade or store bought

Cream filling
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
¼ cup Bourdeauz maraschino cherry juice
2 TBSP confectioners sugar
¼ teaspoon grated orange rind
.75  oz semisweet chocolate, grated ( 3 Tablespoons grated
6 Bourdeaux cherries, stemmed and chopped
3 Bourdeaux cherries, stemmed and halved
1 TBSP slivered almonds

Use a 2.75 x 2.75 x 1 inch heart shaped cookie cutter to cut hearts out of the pound cakes.
Slice each heart horizontally.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the ricotta, confectioners sugar, and cherry juice until smooth. Add in 12 Tablespoons of the grated chocolate, the chopped cherries and almonds. And blend well.

To assemble:

Place chocolate heart on a plate, spoon on 1 Tablespoon of the ricotta mixture, top with a lemon poundcake heart, spoon on another Tablespoon of the ricotta mixture, top with grated chocolate and 3 cherry halves.

4-6 cakes

Why Produce in a Can Should Be Part of Your Nutrition Plan

Staying safe from the virus and inclement weather is top of mind for many of us right now, yet we want to #nourishtoflourish within our financial, culinary and time availability limits. For some that may mean eating on a budget, choosing recipes that are not complicated, minimizing time in preparation as well as food waste. February is not just about Valentine’s day but it’s also National Canned Food Month – AND American Heart Health Month. Being smart to take care of your heart does not have to be difficult.  Plants in cans are always in for a health win! #haveaplant

So what gift of health is on your shelf? Look no further than canned produce. Canned beans, lentils, tomatoes, pumpkin, peas, peaches, apricots, pineapple minimize the effort, maximize taste and eliminate food waste all within an affordable price point. Here are my top reasons I am a #canfan

Shelf stability– the beauty of canned produce is that it keeps. That means we can enjoy the deliciousness of tomatoes and peaches even when they are not in season. Keeping cans on your shelf is a great way to treat yourself and these foods last for quite a while

Versatility- canned produce is a great addition to savory dishes as well as sweet. Canned produce can be added to a spaghetti sauce, mac n’ cheese or canned soup; canned pumpkin adds veggies, moisture and nutrition to a muffin, pancake or quick bread.

Ease of use- a can opener or pop top gives you immediate access to fruit or vegetables without the need to fuss. If you buy seasoned tomatoes, no need to add extra spices and herbs as they are ready to use. Canned beans can be drained and added to a salad, or bowl, or tossed with rice for a main dish.

Safety– canned produce is cooked in the can to kill off the bacteria (microorganisms) and sealed to keep them safe. In addition, if you can #shopyourshelf and not have to go out, you protect your health.

Affordability– canned foods are available in store brand, generic, and name brands as well as organic or conventionally grown so they are very nice for helping you shop within a certain price. Plus, there is no waste, extending your food dollar even further.

Double duty: protein and produce– canned beans such as garbanzo, kidney, cannellini, black as well as lentils are not only vegetables, but also sources of protein and can be used as meat extender or meat alternative.. I love to puree cannellini beans and add to a cream sauce, cream soup or mac and cheese to provide a creamy mouthfeel with added nutritional value.

Source of phytonutrients– canned fruits and veggies provide carbohydrate, protein

(veggies), fiber, vitamins and minerals but also phyto (plant) nutrients that are good for our health such as lycopene in tomatoes, beta carotene in pumpkin and carrots, lutein in canned corn, zeaxanthin in canned greens , and glucosinolates in canned sauerkraut

Applications for every meal/snack– canned pears can be added to muffins, pancakes or as a topping; pineapple is delicious on cottage cheese for breakfast or lunch; canned pumpkin can be added to oatmeal or smoothies. Top an Asian salad with canned pineapple and use the juice mixed with soy sauce, ginger and oil for a dressing, canned refried beans are great to use in a dip with veggies and tortilla or bean chips. Canned black beans can be drained and mixed with plain Greek yogurt, salsa and seasoning for a tasty dip. Canned corn, canned tomatoes with chili and canned black beans is a great salsa, side dish , topping for chicken, meat or fish or served as a dip, and canned veggies can be added to a stew, chili or soup, or even to a stir fry for a quick can to table meal.

Minimize need to shop– Canned foods are great sources of nutrients to keep on hand, and you can stock up on them so you have them handy- they are ready to eat when you are and can also help minimize trips to the store.

Exercise -canned foods are not only great to add to your menu, but they are a safe alternative to use in place of weights while doing some weight training at home. You can do bicep curls, military presses, or triceps extensions while your food cooks so you get in some reps while you prep!

BOTTOM LINE- We Heart Cans!

For all these reasons and more, canned produce can help you improve your health, save money, minimize prep time and maximize the nutritious and delicious foods in your glass, or in your bowl or on your plate. #haveaplant #canfan

Planting the Seed to Help Your Health Succeed

We are a few weeks into the new year- has your food choices resulted in something to cheer or jeer? So often we bite off more than we can chew in the quest for a new and healthier you, but drastic, restrictive or overwhelming resolutions don’t come to fruition in our mind or in the kitchen. So, let me offer a recipe for plate success without so much mental stress or duress.


What will be your add-ins rather than take-aways? Instead of saying I won’t eat ….., how about reframing the what you will defy to what you are willing to try. I would love to include something with color as part of every meal and snack. That gives you flexibility, versatility and ability to put the produce in the glass, bowl, or plate.

  • Berries on cereal
  • A fruit/veggie smoothie
  • Veggies in scrambled eggs
  • Sliced tomato and cheese on a bagel
  • Pumpkin added to oats, muffin, or pancakes


Does your eating plan complement your culinary ability? When it comes to meal prep, are you looking to spend a lot of time, or more a fan of simplicity. If less is more when it comes to ingredients and preparation time, the beauty of produce is that it is ready to eat. What about affordability? Produce is available in all forms so if your budget is tight, it’s smart to put more canned and frozen choices in your cart. Also think about the waste: if you throw more than you use, that is money down the drain.


Is your food inviting ,exciting and delighting? If food does not look, smell or taste great, it is not going to be on your plate. Add the excitement with a different preparation method. Try stir-fry, broiling , roasting or sautéing vegetables. Add orange slices to a salad or orange zest to a sauce or smoothie. Create your own flavor station with flavored vinegars, oils, herbs and spices to enhance and complement your produce selections.


Focus on what you can do, not should do. Can you envision yourself incorporating more produce into your eating plan on a regular basis? This is why familiarity and ease are important. Establishing new patterns requires practice and patience, not perfection. Start slow and with what you know. If you are trying to add or use more produce, do an inventory of what you already have to find the #wealthonyourshelf

  • Cans of tomato sauce
  • Cans of beans
  • Canned vegetables
  • Cans of vegetable or bean soup
  • Canned fruit
  • Jars of tomato sauce
  • Salsa
  • Frozen fruit and veggies
  • Dried fruit

It is so easy to up your produce with what you have on hand:

  • Add frozen veggies to spaghetti sauce
  • Add canned beans to a stir fry
  • Sprinkle dried fruit in a rice pilaf or hot cereal
  • Add some salsa to guacamole
  • Add canned pineapple or peaches to roasted vegetables
  • Blend frozen squash or canned pumpkin into pancakes, waffles or muffins

How about a resolution to focus on what you can do for your best you? #haveaplant