Tired of rice? Why not try quinoa? This seed is a true gem in the nutritional department and makes a great replacement for most recipes that call for rice. What makes it so amazing? Besides being one of the few plant sources that is considered a complete protein (a real plus for Vegetarians!), it’s loaded with fiber, iron and magnesium. Another reason to love it? It’s easy to prepare and only takes about 15-20 minutes to cook.

Need some recipe inspiration? The recipe below is simple and versatile. It’s delicious as a side dish for any Mexican meal or can be used as a filler for tacos or burritos or even as a topping for a taco salad.

Looking to get more mileage out of this recipe? Amp up the flavor by adding more cilantro along with some chopped green onions. Want a spicier version? Try dicing up a jalapeno and cook it along with the cumin. Need a more satisfying dish? Stir in black beans, grape tomatoes and corn to make a hearty salad…really the options are endless!
 

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Quinoa with Cumin and Lime


  • Author: Sara Haas
  • Yield: 1 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. 1. Set a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the quinoa and toast for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add cumin and continue to stir, cooking an additional minute. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is cooked, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. 2. Drain any excess water. Add the lime juice and zest, cilantro, salt and pepper and toss until well combined.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8
  • Calories: 96
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 23
  • Fat: 3
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 15
  • Protein: 3
  • Cholesterol: 0

Strawberries Top Dirty Dozen List

Strawberries are a delicious, nutritious treat, but now that they have moved up on the “Dirty Dozen” list, what should you do? 

Strawberries recently moved up on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list. Just what does that mean for you? Read my article on Parents.com to learn just what prompted the changes and what you can do! Hint, don’t worry, you can still safely enjoy strawberries!

Click here for the full story on Parents.com. Don’t forget to check out the EWG website to see the complete and updated Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists.

Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Broiled Tomatoes

Love cheese? Sure you do! How about grilled cheese? Oh yes, of course you do!

Did you know that this delicious comfort food can actually be a nutritious choice, even when it comes to fertility? It’s true!

And here’s some amazing news, not only is it National Grilled Cheese Month, but it’s also Fertility Friday and that means it’s time to get started on this series of posts dedicated to nutrition and fertility. In last week’s post, I introduced you to this series and today, I present you with the goods I promised – delicious, nutritious insight on food and fertility. Once you’re done here, don’t forget to check out Liz’s post over at Shaw Simple Swaps for her amazing post and recipe. You don’t want to miss it!

Ok, back to that grilled cheese. First, let me say that I love that these two days are intertwining, because grilled cheese can be a nutritious, fertility food. Who knew, right? Well, I did, but let me explain. It’s all about variety and moderation and fertility friendly foods.

Let’s take my recipe for Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Broiled Tomatoes as an example:

Whole Grains: This recipe starts with a whole grain baguette base. Why whole grain bread? Well, because it is more nutritious than it’s refined, white bread counterpart. Whole grains have more vitamins and nutrients and even more fiber. See, I told you, more nutrition!

  • Fertility Focus – Whole grains help regulate blood sugar. Who cares about blood sugar? You should. You see, refined white breads, sugary cereals and candies can cause your blood sugar to spike quickly. Your pancreas has to work over-time to drive that blood sugar down. To do this, it sends out a handy hormone known as insulin to do to battle all of that sugar. This results in a high level of insulin in your bloodstream which have been indicated by research, to inhibit ovulation. So, no thank you white bread, white rice, chips and the like. I’ll stick with my whole grains!

Tomatoes: Who doesn’t love a sweet, juicy tomato? Ok, well, I didn’t until my early 20’s, but I’ve learned my lesson. These little red dynamos pack a serious nutritional (we’re talking Vitamin C and Vitamin A) punch. So eating them is a real win-win in my book! Tomatoes are also a great source of lycopene, a compound responsible giving tomatoes their vibrant red color. Lycopene just happens to also be a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants keep us healthy by preventing damage from free radicals. This is great health insurance, considering if free radicals are left to their own devices, they can do serious harm to our healthy cells and DNA.

  • Fertility Focus – Men, take note. Lycopene may offer some benefits in terms of fertility. More research is needed, but there is evidence that lycopene could help with not only sperm count, but also sperm viability. Seems like a good reason to eat more tomatoes to me.

Whole Milk Cheese: This recipe uses sharp, whole milk cheddar cheese because of it’s great flavor. Sharp cheddar is so brilliantly savory and rich, that you don’t need a lot of it. And here’s the good news, cheese might be a great fertility food (see below) plus it’s also a fabulous source of bone-building calcium.

  • Fertility Focus – The Nurses Health study revealed that women who ate ate least one serving of whole milk or dairy foods a day were less likely to experience infertility caused by an inability to ovulate. What does this mean for you? It means you can try swaping one serving of your typical low-fat or fat-free dairy foods with their whole milk counterparts. But tread lightly here, as those foods will still be high in calories. Bottom line, make this temporary adjustment but modify other foods in your diet to allow for the extra calories.

 

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Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Broiled Tomatoes


  • Author: Sara Haas
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Amp up the nutritional value of your grilled cheese by adding delightfully delicious broiled tomatoes.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 (15-ounce) whole-grain baguette, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • dash Italian seasoning

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Place the cut baguette on a medium-size sheet pan. Brush the cut sides of the bread with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Slice garlic clove in half and rub over cut sides of the baguette. Place in the oven and toast 1-2 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. To a mixing bowl, add the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and black pepper. Spread out onto a small sheet pan lined with foil. Broil for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Remove and reserve.
  4. Sprinkle cheese evenly over bread slices, then dust with Italian seasoning. Place in the oven and broil 3-4 minutes.
  5. To serve: Distribute the broiled tomatoes on top of toasted bread halves, cut as desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • For more fun and flavor, consider topping with fresh herbs before serving. Fresh, thinly sliced basil or freshly chopped parsley would be a fabulous addition!

Fertility Friday Series Begins Today!

 

Surprise!

I’ve got some exciting news for you. Today marks the official launch of the series “Fertility Friday.” 

“Wait!” I hear you saying. “What in the world does that have to do with food and nutrition and YOU, Sara?”

Let Me Explain.

Great questions everyone and let me say, you just set me up perfectly to explain myself. Here’s the back story, I’ve struggled with infertility. To make a really long story, super short, infertility is a hard, stressful, lonely and emotional journey. But, I’ve learned some things along the way and those things have led to this exciting place.

Divine Intervention!

Divine intervention happened a few months ago when I met fellow fellow dietitian Elizabeth Shaw. To make our long story short, we clicked. She shared her infertility struggles and I shared mine. We talked so much, both lamenting the fact that there wasn’t a book written by dietitians for people going through infertility. That bothered us, so we have taken it upon ourselves to write that book. It’s been a fun, crazy, emotional process, but we’re excited about it. We want you to be excited about it too. April 24-30 marks RESOLVE’s National Infertility Week, making this a perfect time to kick things off. To bring awareness to a topic that is near and dear to our hearts, we have decided to run a series of posts on Friday’s in April dedicated to food, nutrition and fertility. We’re calling it Fertility Friday. It’s our way of showing you the fun stuff you’ll see in our book, but also a great platform to get people talking about infertility.

Offering Support

We hope you’ll share in our excitement as we tackle a subject that deserves more attention. Let’s make it a point to support everyone’s journey, no matter how easy or hard. Let’s take the steps necessary to live the Infertility Awareness Week motto of #startasking. To you, I say, #askaway!

And don’t forget to check out Liz’s site Shaw Simple Swaps for her introduction to Fertility Friday!

 

Fertility Fridays

 

Click here for more about National Infertility Awareness Week and RESOLVE.

Eating Well Meal Plan Series: “Just Tell Me What to Eat.”

It would be nice if someone just told you what to eat sometimes, right? I get plenty of clients telling me they would love a dietitian to follow them around and make their meal choices for them. If only we had the time! The good news is, I worked with Eating Well Magazine for their March/April issue to set up a 1500 calorie meal plan to help. This month’s meal plan is unique because it contains no added sugar. This is a challenge because many of the foods we eat (including bread!) contain sugar. Just to clarify, the sugar we want you to enjoy in moderation is the kind that gets added to foods. Things that are sweetened that aren’t naturally sweet. So fruit is not in this category.

This meal plan will set you up for success. You’ll get those 1500 calories all from whole foods and the day even ends with a delicious dessert! So while I can’t follow you around and tell you what to eat, you can use this meal plan as a guide. You’ll hopefully learn a few things from the plan and be more confident in your future food choices.

Stay tuned for more meal plans!

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Super Bowl, The Day After. Recipes You Need for Recovery.

If Americans had an unspoken motto it might just be “go big, or go home.”

We live that motto to it’s fullest and The Super Bowl is no exception. We treat the Super Bowl like a national holiday. We plan the perfect snack table, we make sure to find coordinating cups and plates, we paint our faces and wear our team’s colors. With the amount of time and preparation that goes into planning these day-long food fests, it’s no wonder then, when Monday rolls around, we are all suffering from “The Super Bowl-Induced Food Coma.”

Did you pop too many jalapeño poppers last night? Or devour dip after dip and spicy chicken wing after fried chicken wing? Fear not! My fellow dietitian foodies and I have plenty of delightful “recovery” recipes for you to enjoy. So, stop feeling bad about what you ate last night and instead, try one of these recipes to get you back on track. And maybe, if you’re going to “go big” again (when it comes to the buffet table), just go home instead. 

 

The Awesome Recipe Collection

Spring Rolls with Honey-Soy Dipping Sauce: Sara Haas RDN, LDN (ahem, yours truly!)

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Carrot and Jicama Slaw: Christy Wilson Nutrition

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Amaranth Buddha Bowl: Shaw Simple Swaps

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Golden Kale Tahini Salad: Nourish RD’s

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Cook Once, Eat Thrice – Grilled Chicken Schwarma: MJ and Hungryman

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Chicken Sausage, Kale and Broccoli Frittata: Nourish Breathe Thrive

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Gluten Free Black Bean and Jalapeno Cauliflower Tostadas: Kara Lydon

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Arugula Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Bacon: Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

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Wild Blueberry, Blood Orange and Ginger Smoothie: The Grateful Grazer

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Grapefruit Kale Salad: Dietitian Debbie Dishes

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Everyday Lentil Salad: Food, Pleasure and Health

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Cashew Coconut Recovery Milk: Avocado a Day Nutrition

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Wild Blueberry Mojito Smoothie Bowl: The Average RD

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Greek Salad with Marinated White Beans and Tzatziki: Salubrious RD

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Vegetarian Rice and Bean Casserole: Jenna Braddock RDN

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Want More? I thought so! Five More Awesome Recipes Just for You!

Healthy, Low-fat Mexican Avocado Chicken Salad: Abbey’s Kitchen

French Toast with Apples, Pecans and Greek Yogurt: Amy Gorin Nutrition

Step By Step Guide – Rolling Fresh Spring Rolls: Emily Kyle Nutrition 

Green Chia Lemon Smoothie: Homemade Nutrition

Banana Split Smoothie Bowl: The Nutritionist Reviews

In Case You Missed It! I “Break it Down” on Fox 32 News Chicago!

It was a great day to be me! I woke up with a raging head cold with about 3 hours of total sleep under my belt and a looming tv interview in front of me. I wanted to stay in bed, but I put my “big girl pants on” and blew my nose, put some make-up on and got myself (and my toddler) out the door and into the frozen tundra. It was worth it. We had a great time filming the live segment for Fox 32 Noon News and I only messed up once! Woo hoo! Now, sit back, relax and learn a thing or two about the Dietary Guidelines. Bonus points if you can find my mess up. Ugh!

Here’s an awesome screen shot of Corey showing me a bottle of “sports drink.” Thanks Corey for a fun interview!

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Click here to see the whole thing go down! 

Attention! Snack Ideas Are Here!

I realize this is a new spot here on my website, so hopefully some of you have noticed. I’ve decided to separate my recipe posts from my blog posts as a way to organize things. Since it’s a new year, I figured I should start cleaning up my site a little bit, so hopefully this will be a nice way to ease into it. 

My first blog-only post is this handy link to an article I wrote for Parents.com. As a parent, I know that finding snack foods for kids can be hard. You want something nutritious, but you also want it to taste good so they’ll eat it. These snack ideas keep things simple and your kids can even help you make them. They’re perfect for travel, but make a fine snack for home too.

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See the article here: Easy Homemade Travel Snacks

Basic Black Beans From Scratch – Recipe Redux

Looking to “amp-up” your freezer-meal arsenal? Have no fear, because my Basic Black Beans are here!

Ok, so that was a little hokey, but it’s true! This month’s theme for the Recipe Redux was to share one of our favorite freezer meals. Immediately, I thought of my favorite recipe for basic black beans. How many times have they saved my life? More than I can count, let’s just say that.

What’s so great about these beans? EVERYTHING!

I’m not joking. They are just an all-around hero in my house and let me tell you why. First, they are made from scratch and that makes for some pretty perfect beans. Oh, I hear you mocking me about that, but hear me out. When you cook beans from scratch, you get to flavor them and control their firmness. Have you ever tried to eat a bean from a can, just by itself? It’s not that great, right? Generally flavorless and slightly on the mushy side, right? Well, those beans have their purpose, but not when I just want to sit down and eat a bowl full. Second, these beans are freezer champions. Meaning, you can stick these beauties in the freezer and then break off bits and pieces when you want them. It’s amazing and such a time saver!

Oh, I can almost hear you now…”Sara, this is great, but what the heck am I going to do with all of these beans?”

Don’t freak out! I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that! There’s sooooo much you can do with these. First, you can literally just eat them out of the pot like soup. Top a bowl of black beans with Greek yogurt, a little salsa and cheddar cheese and you’ve got an amazing meal. Or, drain them and add them to tacos or burritos. Still not buying it? Try mashing them up and putting them in a quesadilla or on top of a piece of whole grain toast along with some avocado. Sound good? Whew…now go make them and see for yourself!

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Basic Black Beans From Scratch


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

With just a little planning, delicious black beans can be yours to be used in any meal. These beans freeze well, so enjoy some now and stick them in the freezer to have later.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Instructions

The night before

  1. Place the rinsed black beans in one or two large, sealable container(s) and pour enough water over them to cover by a few inches (they’ll expand a little, so give them room!)

To cook the beans

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, stirring and cook an additional 1 minute.
  2. Drain the beans from the soaking liquid (you can toss the soaking liquid) and place in the pot with the onions and cumin. Add the water, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover partially with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, Add the salt and cook an additional 15-20 minutes or until the beans are tender, but still holding their shape.
  3. Remove beans from the heat and stir in the Mexican oregano.
  4. Serve as is for the perfect side dish or drain and add to tacos or quesadillas. They can also be served as soup and topped with Greek yogurt, chopped tomatoes and fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • Makes about 6 cups drained black beans.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 12
  • Calories: 146
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 8
  • Fat: 2
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 25
  • Protein: 8
  • Cholesterol: 0

 


How About Something New? Lemon Cucumbers!

“Wow! What are those?” That was my exclamation to the man behind the Froggy Meadow Farm table at the Green City Market here in Chicago on Wednesday. He looked at me kindly, appreciating my enthusiasm and happily replied, “lemon cucumbers.” Clearly I was curious, so I asked him to give me the low-down. Turns out lemon cucumbers are actually an heirloom variety of cucumber. They are round and yellow like lemons, but taste like very mild cucumbers. He informed me that the best way to enjoy them was to cut them like a pie versus slicing them. My face must have look puzzled, so he further explained that cutting them this way gives you a better ratio of skin to flesh to seeds.

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That made sense to me, so then I asked him how to pick a good one and he instructed me that the lighter yellow cucumbers are younger and therefore have a thinner skin, but they are not as sweet as the older, darker yellow-colored cucumbers. “It’s a matter of preference,” he told me, if you like a thinner skin, go with the light yellow, but if you want a sweeter cucumber and don’t mind a thicker skin, go with the darker yellow-colored cucumber. I asked him to pick one of each for me. He rang me up and as I handed over my $1.50, I thanked him profusely then excitedly made my way home, eager to sample my new-found treasures.

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I couldn’t wait to get home and try these little guys. I dove right in, cutting them into wedges, then slices. I did notice the thicker skin when cutting the darker cucumber, but it wasn’t absurdly thick. A taste test revealed that I actually liked both versions. The thinner skin is nice, but I kind of enjoyed the crisp, crunch from the thicker skinned cucumber. It was a toss up for me, both were delicious! Now, what to do with them???

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Try my ideas below for lemon cucumbers or be creative and come up with your own!!!

  • Swap them for green cucumbers in Greek salad or other salad recipes that call for cucumbers.
  • Eat them like an apple and enjoy them whole.
  • Cut them into wedges and serve with other crudite as a great snack or appetizer
  • Grill them and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt and crushed black pepper

Breakfast Fuel: Top Trainer’s Reveal Their Favorites

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Smoothies are a great way to get nutrition when mornings are busy!

 

Being a personal trainer is no easy job. Demanding schedules and clients can make eating a good breakfast a challenge. Although you may not be a trainer, your busy schedule and desire for results in the gym align you with their needs in the morning.

I reached out to a variety of trainers to ask them about their go-to morning meal. Their answers revealed a unique look at the foods they find worthy of fueling their mornings. Here’s what they had to say along with some easy ways to add nutrition to your breakfast regimen. Click here to read more about it on Stack.com!