March is an exciting time of year for nutrition professionals. First of all, it’s National Nutrition Month, and second, today is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day! For those who don’t know, a registered dietitian (RD) has a degree in nutrition, dietetics, or a related field, has completed an internship, and has passed a registration exam. The path to becoming a RD isn’t a walk in the park – the required coursework is grueling, the selection criteria for internships is extensive, and the competition is fierce. Then, after completing the internship (which varies in length from about 9 months up to 2 years+) there’s a big exam to study for! I am very proud to say that the hard work has paid off and I love what I do each day as a RD. So, in the spirit of celebrating all of the RDs out there, here is a delicious toast…
Coconut Almond Toast
- 1 slice whole wheat toast
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
- 1/2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
Toss the whole wheat bread in the toaster, then slather the almond butter on top. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, dark chocolate chips and enjoy!
Coconut Almond Toast: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! Just
this month I discovered how delicious toasted coconut is. I used Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Coconut Flakes and placed about 2 cups on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I placed the baking sheet in the oven (preheated to 375 degrees F) and baked the flakes for about 3-5 minutes. They became fragrant and a beautiful golden brown color very quickly – be careful not to burn! My mouth started to water as I thought of this toast idea and it did not disappoint. A perfectly healthy and sweet treat to celebrate National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day!
It seems like there is always a container of hummus in the refrigerator – and with good reason! I love hummus as a snack with carrots, snow peas, or cucumbers and even as a spread on a sandwich. Although original hummus is delicious, sometimes I want a little added flavor without making a special trip to the store. Here’s a quick way to jazz up your original store-bought hummus:
- 1 cup original hummus
- 1-2 roasted red peppers (jarred with oil)
- 1 tsp dried basil
Finely chop the roasted red peppers and pour into a bowl or food storage container. Add the hummus and mix well until the peppers and hummus are combined. Add dried basil and stir again. Enjoy!
Halfway Homemade Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! This revamped hummus tastes just like the flavored variety you can get at the store. You don’t need many ingredients or time to alter the flavor of the hummus you may already have at home. Try this method with different ingredients to create a “hummus bar” the next time you entertain, serve with fresh veggies and pita for an easy crowd pleaser!
Water makes up more than 50% of our bodies and is crucial to our health. The benefits of drinking water are extraordinary, yet many people struggle to drink enough each day. Water aids in digestion, physical performance, energy levels, keeps our skin looking beautiful, and can also aid in weight loss. It is especially important to stay hydrated during the summer when we are more active in the heat!
Here are FIVE ways to stay hydrated during these hot summer months:
- Set a goal – set a goal for how much water you should drink each day and reach it! Shoot for 1/2 of your body weight in ounces and use a reusable bottle to keep track of how many times you fill it up. I track my water intake on my FitBit app which helps me stay motivated to reach my goal.
- Have fun with flavors – literally spice up the flavor of your water with herbs, sliced fruit, or vegetables. Some of my favorite things to add to water are lemons, limes, strawberries, and cucumber with mint. Get creative and experiment!
- Bring out the bubbles – this summer I am all about LaCroix sparkling water. Some times I need something a little different and sparkling water does the trick without any added calories, sugar, or artificial flavors. Grapefruit is my favorite LaCroix flavor!
- Sip before you snack – start the habit of having a glass of water before meals or snacks. We often mistake thirst for hunger and head right to the snack cabinet instead of the faucet. Try having a glass of water first to help you determine if you are genuinely hungry or just in need of some H2O!
- Eat your water – there is no substitute for drinking water, but there are plenty of tasty foods that are an excellent source of hydration! Watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, strawberries, celery, grapes, pineapple, and spinach are just a few foods that are very high in water content.
Hydrate with pineapple? Count me in!
I love BuzzFeed video recipes. If you haven’t seen any of these videos come across your favorite social media platform, check them out here: BuzzFeed Food – YouTube. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t see a new video recipe on Instagram or Facebook that piques my interest. Here is the latest recipe I tried…
BBQ Chicken Nachos
- 2 chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup barbecue sauce
- 1 bag of tortilla chips
- 2 cups shredded cheese blend
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 avocado, diced
Place the chicken breast in a slow cooker with the barbecue sauce. Turn the slow cooker on low and let the chicken cook all day (~8 hours) or until cooked through. When the chicken is done, shred it into smaller pieces with two forks. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cook 8 pieces of bacon in a skillet, set aside and let cool. Once the bacon is cool, crumble it into small pieces. Place a layer of tortilla chips in an oven-safe skillet or dish. Top the chips with about half of the shredded cheese, onion, tomato, and bacon. Add another layer of chips, cheese, onion, tomato, and bacon. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 min. Remove from the oven and top with the diced avocado, sour cream, and chopped cilantro.
We changed a few things from the original video recipe – it shows the chicken being chopped and cooked in the skillet, but we thought the shredded chicken would work better. We also used cilantro instead of parsley.
BBQ Chicken Nachos: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! Trying these new video recipes has started to become a hobby of mine (in moderation of course, as they aren’t always the healthiest). It’s entertaining to see if the recipe is as easy to make as it looks in the video. With this one I think we made it #betterthanbuzzfeed by using shredded chicken. These nachos were delicious! The barbecue flavor works well with the bacon crumbles and you can’t beat fresh avocado. I encourage you to give them a try for an upcoming potluck or party – I know I’ll be making these again!
Everyone loves a good dip. Unfortunately, some of our favorite dips can be laden with butter, sour cream, or cheese – which can pack a TON of extra calories. And who gets away with just having one scoop of dip at a party? I know I don’t!
I was on a quest to find a healthy, dairy-free dip when I stumbled across this recipe. White beans and olive oil make up the base of this dip so you don’t have to feel guilty about going back for seconds, or thirds.
Rosemary Garlic White Bean Dip
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2, 14-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over low heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic. After rinsing and draining the beans, add to a food processor or blender. Add the olive oil/garlic/rosemary mixture and lemon juice. Puree until the dip is smooth. Add the dried cranberries and pulse until combined. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with dried cranberries and fresh rosemary. Serve with celery and carrot sticks.
Rosemary Garlic White Bean Dip: Tara Tested, Tara, Family and Friends Approved! I’ve made this recipe several times over the holidays and it has been a hit. A nice recipe to have on hand if you entertain guests with dietary restrictions (dairy-free, gluten free) or those who are watching their waistline. Cannellini beans add fiber, protein, and B vitamins to your diet, while olive oil is a source of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. It doesn’t take long to prepare and can even be made in advance. Dig in!
Ever get a hankering for chocolate, but don’t want to sabotage your healthy eating? Look no further. Try this recipe the next time you get a chocolate craving and go ahead and indulge without the guilt. Chia seeds and chocolate protein powder are the stars of this recipe – chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids while the protein powder contains 22 g per scoop. Enjoy this healthy, satisfying snack and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time!
Protein PB Chocolate Chia Pudding – makes 6 servings
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 scoop Chocolate Life Time Grass Fed Whey Protein powder (https://goo.gl/Nc4Px0)
- 1 tbsp PB2
- Chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (optional)
Mix ingredients together in a container with a tight lid. Use a spoon to stir ingredients so that they are well mixed or fasten the lid and shake well. Let sit in the refrigerator for several hours.
Nutrition Information: 1 serving – Calories: 174 cal Total fat: 7g Saturated fat: 0 g Sodium: 10 mg Carbohydrates: 15 g Dietary fiber: 11 g Sugar: 1 g Protein: 13 g
Protein PB Chocolate Chia Pudding: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! If you enjoy chocolate, you will love this pudding. It is SO chocolatey. The chia seeds plump up to create the pudding consistency. Bonus perk of this recipe is that it is very very low in sugar with only 1 g per serving. I couldn’t taste the peanut butter flavor from the PB2 very much so you may want to try adding more or evening topping your pudding with a little dollop of natural peanut butter. Enjoy!
Here is another ridiculously simple recipe for you, (this one from Women’s Health Magazine) 4-ingredient black bean dip! If you like hummus and salsa, this dip is the perfect combination of those two flavors. The black beans provide a hummus-y texture while the tomatoes and cumin add some fun salsa flavor. This is a very figure-friendly dip that would make a great alternative to calorie-laden queso at your next party.
4 Ingredient Black Bean Dip
- 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 tsp red onion, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until chunky. If you like your dip smoother, blend until you’re happy with the consistency. That’s it!
4 Ingredient Black Bean Dip: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! This dip is dynamite. Such great flavor for so few calories, what’s not to love?! Enjoy this simple dip with raw veggies, crackers, or tortilla chips. You could even use this recipe as a substitute for refried beans in other Mexican dishes like burritos, tacos, or layered dips.
Nutrition Information: 2 tbsp – Calories: 16 kcal Total fat: 0.2 g Saturated fat: 0 g Sodium: 54.6 mg Carbohydrate: 2.8 g Dietary fiber: 1.1 g Sugar: 0.5 g Protein: 1 g