Building a Better Muffin


It was starting to bother me. Those 3 bananas sitting on my counter were begging me to do something with them. I could almost hear them say, “Sara, listen, if you wait too much longer, we are going to get so brown and rotten that you’ll have to make our lives end by the way of the trash can. Wouldn’t you rather turn us into something more wonderful, something that says we were destined for more than just compost?” Geez, guilt-trip me why don’t you bananas!? Ok, ok, I hear you! So, I turned to my belly and asked it what it wanted. And without hesitation my belly said, “muffins!!!!” Good call belly. So I was off to discover a recipe to make what I wanted. But after some searching I realized that what I wanted wasn’t out there. Darn! Now what? The only answer seemed to be that I was going to have to make my own recipe. Because I just can’t bring myself to “snack” on anything that could potentially have zero health benefits, I made a recipe that included whole wheat flour, lots of walnuts and even chia seeds. It’s a satisfying snack and as it turns out, is not only a hit with adults, but kids too. And now I share it with you! Happy Baking!!!


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Banana Walnut and Chia Seed Muffins

  • Author: Sara Haas


A delicious mini muffin packed with nutrition.


  • 1 ½ teaspoons chia seeds
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cup mashed ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 350’F and line mini-muffin pan(s) with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a measuring cup combine the chia seeds and the water. Stir vigorously then let sit for 10-15 minutes, until a gel forms.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the chia mixture, banana and eggs.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Gently stir dry mixture into the wet mixture until just moistened, then gently fold in the walnuts.
  5. Using a small cookie scooper or a tablespoon, fill cups with batter, about two-thirds full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool, remove from pan and repeat with remaining batter.


  • Serving Size: 24
  • Calories: 110
  • Sugar: 7
  • Sodium: 69
  • Fat: 4
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 16
  • Protein: 2
  • Cholesterol: 21

The Return of the Green City Market in Chicago

Yesterday was officially the start of the outdoor Green City Market here in Chicago.  While a wee bit chilly, it was still a great morning.  Perusing the stalls left me feeling pretty darn grateful…and amazed!  How wonderful and beautiful all of the fresh produce, flowers and even the baked goods looked!

It is a real joy when the outdoor market returns to the city.  I always learn so much from the vendors and farmers.  They are always so willing to share what they know and offer tips on preparing or using their products.  A visit is always a lesson in something, and I love that!  So cheers to future months of learning and tasting!

Not in Chicago?  No worries!  There’s likely a great farmer’s market in your neighborhood!

Here’s a helpful link from the USDA that can help you locate one in your area:



Fresh farm produce!

It’s Never too Late to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Have you ever…..

1) Purchased the delicious (yet VERY expensive) fresh guacamole from your local grocery store?

2) Purchased the not-so-delicious (yet still kind of expensive) prepackaged, weirdly-colored guacamole from your local grocery store?

If you answered “yes” to either of the above questions, then I have an idea that will save your wallet and your tastebuds!!!

My solution?  Glad you asked!  Make your own.  Yup, I said it, make your own.  Believe it or not, it’s much cheaper (I just bought an avocado for $1.00) and even more delicious because you control what goes in it.  I know, you are worried about picking the right one…am I correct?  Well, it’s easy…really.  

Most of the avocados in our grocery stores are Hass avocados from California.  Because they don’t ripen on the tree, they may arrive to your grocery store rock hard.  Depending on when you’re going to use the avocado, this may not be a bad thing.  For instance, you can absolutely buy the rock-solid avocado if you aren’t planning on using it within the next few days.  Just leave it on the counter and allow it to ripen at room temperature.  Once it’s ripe, just put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it (within a day or so would be good).  If you want to use your avocado right away, be sure to pick one that gives slightly to light pressure.  If it’s bruised or dented or super-soft to the touch, it’s not any good.  If you aren’t confidant, just ask the person working in the produce section.  Trust me, they would rather be helping you than stacking bananas on the shelf.    

Now that you have your perfect avocado, you will need to pick up a few other ingredients for this amazing guacamole that you’re going to make.  Those other ingredients include a yellow onion, fresh cilantro, a lime, garlic and a jalepeno.  Ok, now you are ready!

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Sara’s Homemade Guacamole

  • Author: Sara Haas


A simple, spicy guacamole recipe


  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (more or less based on your preference)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno (keep membrane and seeds for heat!), chopped


  1. Place the avocado flesh in a bowl and mash with a fork or a potato/avocado masher.  Add remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine.  Season with salt to taste.  Done!


  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 86
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 6
  • Fat: 7
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 6
  • Protein: 1
  • Cholesterol: 0

Heads-up, I am NOT the Food Police

I know, it’s just a bad habit that most people have.  They assume that just because I am a dietitian, I wear a badge and write tickets for every poor food choice they make.  Well, first let me say, that would be very cool, and I may need to invest in said badge and tickets….maybe that’s the secret to get people to change their ways.  But I digress, as you will find that I do sometimes.  I want you to know that even though I may glance at your plate or tray, it does not always mean that I am criticizing you!  I do this only out of habit, and it’s a hard habit to break.  But here’s the good news.  By having this characteristic trait (sounds cooler than “habit”), I am the first to congratulate you on the amazing variety of vegetables you tossed on your salad or that swell-looking wrap you made of black beans and quinoa!  Who doesn’t like to have their healthy habits noticed and pray tell, who doesn’t like a pat on the back for a job well done?  While I am not the police, if I do see something horrific on your tray, let’s say 12 donuts, I may have to say something.  Not because I am disappointed in you or that I want to mock your choices, but because I care…it’s my job…it’s my life…and now that I am a mom, it’s worse.  So here’s the deal, dietitians are NOT the food police.  They are people that genuinely care about your health and how you feel.  Our goal is to teach you how to make good, yummy, healthy choices and keep encouraging you to do so.  Next time you see your dietitian, give him or her a hug, because they care!  And watch out, because I might start wearing that badge!

Don’t Buy It, Make It!

It’s easy to buy granola, but why on earth would you when the label lists over 20 ingredients, half of which you can’t pronounce? No thank you. Sure, some of those 5-syllable words are harmless, but it just doesn’t taste the same as homemade granola. I mean, what’s better, ripping open a box and pulling apart a plastic bag or opening your grandmother’s old mason jar, with the scent of cinnamon tickling your nose, and scooping out your own version? Or how about the satisfaction of having coworkers gawk in amazement after watching you pour your homemade wonder into your yogurt at lunch! You will be the talk of the lunch table for sure…in a good way! Have I convinced you yet? The cool thing is that granola is super easy, fast and customizable! Woo hoo! So, here’s a base recipe, but add things and change it up how you like. Experiment and report back!

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Easy Homemade Granola

  • Author: Sara Haas


A simple granola recipe that you can make your own!


  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios, etc), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons mixed seeds (chia, sunflower, pepitas, etc)


  1. Preheat oven to 300’F.
  2. Combine the oats, nuts, butter, honey, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix mix well.
  3. Spread the oat mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake about 25-30 minutes or until golden, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and stir in dried fruit and seeds. Cool completely before storing.


  • Calories: 4281
  • Sugar: 93
  • Sodium: 644
  • Fat: 169
  • Saturated Fat: 47
  • Unsaturated Fat: 108
  • Trans Fat: 2
  • Carbohydrates: 595
  • Protein: 135
  • Cholesterol: 122

You Should Follow My Blog and Other Helpful Advice

Greetings and welcome! Do I know you? Well, I hope to! I am assuming you landed here after a random Google search accidentally dropped you here or maybe you were wondering why someone would put RDN after their name in their website address. It doesn’t much matter to me how you got here, it’s about getting you to stay and come back.

As you have probably noticed, this site is a bit under-construction. Please excuse my mess. I hope to bring much more pizazz and beauty to it in the upcoming months. Please bear with me.

Ok, so now to the real point here…why you should follow my blog. I don’t know about you, but I like things laid out for me. Paragraphs are nice when reading a novel, but not when you’re trying to get your point across. So, here you go, the reasons you should follow my blog, in no certain order:

1) Because you will learn stuff. Cool stuff. Not just why you need to eat more carrots or bok choy, but culinary stuff, too like recipes and cooking tips.
2) Because you are excited about nutrition and so am I! But really, who’s not?
3) Because you share a passion for cooking, eating and living a healthy life and you know I’ve got tips on that!
4) Because it’s your lunch break and you’ve already run out of things to research on the internet.
5) Because you know I will hook you up with really cool articles, recipes and other solid info from trusted professionals.

I think 5 points is enough for now. I certainly don’t want to overwhelm my new friend!

Check back often and see the progress that’s about to unfold before your eyes!

Welcome and it’s great to have you here!

It’s My Birthday!

It’s not really my birthday exactly, but more like my website’s birthday!  It’s been a long-time coming, but the birth of my website is here!  I hope to fill this site with not only info about me and what the heck it is I really do, but with practical and useful tips and info that you can use.  So, light a candle and wish my little website a “Happy Birthday!”

Meal Plan like a Pro! Grab my NEW Meal Planning Workbook!