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Almond Crusted Tilapia

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

almond crusted tilapia  Tilapia, a mild tasting, white fish, can be a kid friendly way to increase your family’s intake of fish closer to the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 2 servings per week. In this recipe, almonds are added to create a fun coating that gives a bit of crunch appeal, not to mention additional unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and calcium.


Almond Crusted Tilapia

1 ½ # fresh tilapia


For the breading:

1 cup very finely chopped almonds

¼ cup plain breadcrumbs

2 tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp Old  Bay seasoning

½ tsp salt


Slice tilapia into two halves.

 Mix together the breading ingredients in a shallow dish.

In another bowl, place ~1/4 cup flour. Beat 1 egg in a third, separate bowl.

Dip tilapia in flour, coating both sides.  Then dip in beaten egg. Then place in almond mixture and press to coat well. Place on nonstick cooking sheet. Repeat with other piece of tilapia. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes, depending upon the size of your filets.

Ummmmm, snacks

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

homer snacks  Most kids often get ¼ of their diet from snacks. That’s enough to make snacks count essentially as a fourth meal so its important to make those snacks as nutritious as possible.  Unfortunately, most snacks are desserts, sugary drinks, salty foods or simply heavily processed nutritional duds.  Start a snick-snack-paddy-whack revolution and fuel your kids up with foods that will help them perform better in school, sports, and life!

Dazzle it – Sometimes fancy packaging is enough to excite kids about a healthy snack.  Get creative!

  • Fill muffin cups with pistachios and dried cranberries.
  • Put popcorn in a brown lunch bag that you have decorated with stickers and drawings or messages.

Wrap it

  • Spread nut butter on whole wheat tortilla or flatbread and sprinkle with strawberries, bananas, or peaches on one third of the wrap before rolling.
  • Combine hummus and shredded carrots on rolled flatbread.
  • Fill small tortilla with variety of diced and shredded vegetables and a small dab of dressing.

Dip it

  • Mix taco seasoning into plain yogurt and serve with cut up veggie strips.
  • Serve baked tortilla chips with salsa or bean dip.
  • Try olive tapenade or pesto as a dip or sandwich spread to expose your child to different tastes.  For a less-intense dip, mix it will plain yogurt or low fat sour cream.

Mix it – To ease the transition to healthier snacks, mix a little bit of less health with the more healthy.

  • Create a trail mix of chocolate chips or broken cookies to nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain cereal.
  • Send a plain or vanilla yogurt with mini chocolate chips and sliced strawberries.


Rock your minivan

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

mini van   I love metaphors. I am always one metaphor away from completely understanding the universe. In my job as a dietitian, I frequently use metaphors during counseling to help my clients better grasp concepts and explanations.  One of my favorite ways to explain the relationship between weight, body image, and health is by comparing our body to a car.

Unlike the cars we drive and trade in when the car starts to break down, our body is the only one that we will have for our entire lifetime.  Therefore, it is essential to give your car the right gas (food) and the proper care (exercise, sleep, etc.) to have this car perform well.  The kicker about this car is that we can not choose the type of car we are going to have. And the type of car you drive says nothing about you as the driver. Some people are genetically predetermined to look like a sports car, some are meant to be a wagon, and there are some who are meant to be a minivan. That’s just the way it is. Unfortunately, our culture has emphasized the smooth, sleek  sports car as the ideal body image. In doing so, many people continue to struggle with self-esteem issues, frustration, and disappointment when their own bodies more closely resemble big and boring minivans.

So here is my recommendation. Instead of choosing a body size or an arbitrary number on the scale as a goal, make health your goal. Choose to take care of your car so that it carries you smoothly through life.  Feed it healthy foods and in a healthy manner. Exercise frequently. Sit infrequently. Improve your sleep habits. See a doctor regularly. Learn stress reduction and relaxation techniques. Nourish supportive relationships with others. There are better indicators of health. Making healthy changes in these may or may not also change your weight, body size and shape but it will definitely bring your body closer to your genetic potential – whether that be a sports car or a well-tuned mini van.  And, if you end up being a minivan, rock it!


Love these images on the subject!

scale with words               All-women-weight-150


Say no to Mio

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

mio  Mio, a concentrated flavor additive for water, is one of the latest products to hit the grocery store shelves and it is selling like hotcakes. Marketed as the solution to the “I-don’t-like-water-because-it-is-boring”complaint, many parents have embraced this product to increase water intake in their kids. I hate to do it, parents, but grab your umbrellas and head for cover because I am about to rain on your parade.

First, when looking at the ingredients – which should be the first thing anyone should do when assessing the value of a food, you can see that there is nothing real in Mio.  It does though contain plenty of controversial artificial sweeteners and colorings.  Second, using a flavor enhancer actually backfires in the long term.  Taste buds are conditioned to expect uber-sweet flavors, creating a bigger sweet tooth and an even more difficult time drinking plain water.  Sweetened beverages – either artificially or with sugar – also have been shown not to quench thirst as much as regular water.  When drinking something with an intense sweet flavor, the feeling of thirst increases because the body desires more fluid to neutralize the sweet sensation. This is great for food manufacturers because it drives consumers to drink more and thus purchase more beverages/flavor additives.

A better choice would be to use a “real” flavor enhancer, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, or herbs, to flavor water.  Lemons, limes, mint, and cucumbers are all popular choices. Be creative and try adding a few raspberries, pineapples slices, rosemary, lavender, or cilantro. Your taste buds may find the change tasty and refreshing.  After choosing your “enhancer”,add it first to the pitcher or jar. Mash it slightly with a wooden spoon to bruise the leaves and release some of the juices.  Add ice and then fill the rest of the way with water. Store in the fridge and pour a glass as needed.  Don’t let the water sit too long because the flavor may change.

Dinner Grab Bag

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

man reaching into grab bag Here’s a way to get out of that dinner slump, in which you find yourself serving up the same 7 meals on a weekly rotation and hearing complaints from the kids because they don’t like what’s for dinner.  Create a recipe grab bag and solve those dinnertime blues.  First, write down each meal you can think of on small, individual sheet of paper.  Consider also writing down “new recipe” or “dinner out” as well on extra sheets of paper.  Next, gather all slips of paper and place them into a bag or bowl.  Recipe grab bag is complete.  Now, each Sunday night, have family members take turns drawing a slip of paper from the bag and (ta-da!) the meals have been chosen for the week. I like to add a drum roll when the kids are drawing slips – give a touch more jazz to the event, like adding sprinkles to ice cream. Consider drawing only 5 meals out to leave days open for leftovers.  Add new ideas to the grab bag over time and soon your dinner grab bag will be chock-a-buck full of ideas. 

Grocery Store Sticker Shock, Part 3

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Continuing on with ways to eat well and save money…

Tip #7 Show some farmer love. Purchasing food directly from the farmer is better in sooo many ways.  In terms of cost, local, freshly picked produce will last longer before spoilage, thereby preventing wasted money. Also, talking directly with farmers may bring about other ways to save on costs. Find out from them what is in season and therefore not as costly. Perhaps they would be willing to barter something in exchange for produce. And, don’t be afraid to be the farmer yourself! Growing vegetables doesn’t have to require a large garden.  Many vegetables, such as tomatoes and potatoes, can be grown simply in a container or even bag of dirt.

Tip #8 Plan ahead and avoid impulse buying.  Set aside time on Sunday – yes, this may not be the most exciting thing to do – to figure out a meal plan for the week.  Are there creative ways you can save time or money? For example, knowing ahead of time that you will need black beans for Wednesday’s dinner, allows you to buy dried beans which are less expensive and soak them Tuesday night.  Plan out a way to use leftover beans on Thursday, such as breakfast burritos or chili.  Create a list for the grocery store and stick to it.  Impulse buying tends to be fueled more by emotional hunger and often results in the purchasing of foods with higher cost and lower nutritional value.

Grocery Store Sticker Shock, Part 2

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Tip #3 Approach rising food costs differently. Paying more for quality food may help prevent paying money to the doctor. Consider this – Americans spend the least amount of their income on food yet spend the highest amount of their income on medicine compared to other countries. Is there a relationship? Instead of trying to spend less money on lower quality food, save money elsewhere and in ways that may create healthier habits as an added bonus. Save gas money or transportation costs by walking or biking for short errands. Look for free entertainment outdoors and spend less time in front of the TV or computer, thereby decreasing electricity bills.

Tip #4 Bulk doesn’t necessarily mean better. You may get a great price on that crate of avocados at Costco but it will still be a waste of money if you have to throw away half a crate of rotten avocados that weren’t eaten. Avoid buying more than you need to prevent wasting money and food. Buying in quantity may be a better option if the food can be frozen (meats, butter, bread) or stored in the evident that it isn’t used (canned goods).

Grocery Store Sticker Shock

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

  The term “sticker shock” was originally coined to describe shock felt about the price of a car.  These days, sticker shock is being felt more at the grocery store than at the car dealership.  A common excuse for not eating healthier is that it costs more money to eat healthy.  So, each week for the next few weeks, I’ll offer a few suggestions that may help bring down that grocery bill.   

 Tip #1 Eat when you are actually hungry. This may sound like a “duh” to you but a lot of eating occurs when people are not actually in need of food.  For example, chucking down two dollars for a cup of coffee – is that a habit or physical hunger?  If you must have a cup of coffee, making it at home saves cash.  Eating the bag of chips while watching a show at night – physical hungry or mindless eating?  Food lasts longer in the household if eaten only when someone is physically hungry.  Same goes for meal times.  Slow down at meals and you don’t actually need that second helping of food. Use the apple test (see Quick Bite from November 2010) as one way to help differentiate physical hunger from other types of hunger. If you would like more information, email me at amy@aquickbite.net

Tip #2 Take stock before you shop.  After creating your menu for the week, peek through the pantry and fridge before heading to the grocery store to prevent duplication and waste.

Naturally misleading

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

  According to marketing research, the term most commonly searched for on food labels by consumers is “100 percent natural.” Food manufacturers recognized the selling power of this term and as of 2008, “all-natural” was the second most used claim on American food products.  A close look at some of these “natural” foods though reveals that many contain high fructose corn syrup, pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones – all seemingly “unnatural” substances.  What does “natural” mean exactly on a food label?

It turns out that “natural” means different things to different governing agencies.  The USDA, who regulates the labeling on meat and poultry, allows a product to be called “natural” if it contains “no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed”.  Translate this to the following: nothing should have happened to the meat between the slaughterhouse and the supermarket but anything goes for what happened to the animal before slaughter, such as what the animal was fed, whether it was given growth hormones or antibiotics, etc.  Of note, some products, such as poultry, can still be labeled “natural” even after being injected after slaughter with water and sodium to create a more plump, “eat me” appearance.

The FDA regulates labeling on non-meat products and does not give a legal definition for “natural”.  According to the FDA, there is no true definition for what makes a food “natural” but the agency does not object to the use of the term if the food does not contain added colors, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.  This opens the door for all kinds of rule bending and definition stretching, as is the case with high fructose corn syrup.

Bottom line: Many consumers equate “healthy” with “natural” but loose guideline around the term “natural” can mislead many consumers into purchasing “unhealthy” foods. Don’t just buy a food because it claims to be “natural”.  Read the ingredient list and try to buys foods that contain ingredients that you might find in your own pantry.

Get Keen on Quinoa

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

  Quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH) – say it loud and proud because it is one of those superhero whole grains that should be a weekly feature on your family’s plate.  Folate, phosphorus, fiber, unsaturated fats are some of the key nutrients found in quinoa. And, as the only grain that contains every essential amino acid, quinoa offers all the protein but none of the cholesterol that is found in animal proteins.  Take that, carnivores.

 Quinoa Patties (from epicurious)

2 ½ cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature *

4 large eggs, beaten

½ tsp sea salt

1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

1 onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup whole grain bread crumbs

1 tbsp olive oil or clarified butter

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a bowl.  Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes to allow the bread crumbs to soak up some of the moisture.  Form the mixture into patties. Add a bit more bread crumbs if mixture is too dry OR add a bit of water or beaten egg if the mixture is too moist. (Mixture can be made ahead and kept in refrigerator until ready to cook)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add as many patties as will fit in skillet without touching, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes until the bottoms are deeply browned.  Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until browned.  Flip the patties and cook an additional 7 minutes or until golden. Remove and serve. 

*To cook quinoa: 1 cup of dry quinoa will yield about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.  To prepare, first rinse the quinoa is a strainer.  Then add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook until liquid absorbed and quinoa tender, about 15 minutes.  Let stand an additional 5 minutes, covered and off the burner.