Snicky Snacks

For a period of time when she was younger, my now almost 5 year old loved to call snacks “snicky snacks”. It was equal parts endearing and obnoxious, as many things with toddlers are.

Are you a snacker? For most people I’ve met, there is a clear divide here: those who snack and those who don’t. I am generally a moderate snacker – if it is available, I’ll snack. I LOVE snack foods and enjoy occasionally just making a meal of snacks. However, when I am pregnant and breastfeeding, my snacking is at Olympic training levels.

While to some of you that sounds delightful, sometimes it is hard. The trick with snacking is not over doing it and finding something “healthy”. And thinking about it as much as I have to in these scenarios is draining. I’ve been hearing a lot about decision fatigue lately, and I definitely get snack decision fatigue.

In honor of that, I thought today I’d share a list of some of my go-to healthy(ish) snacks. I hope they help you in any snacking ventures you are experiencing.

– Lowfat cottage cheese with fruit. Drained peaches canned in juice is my absolute favorite.
– Trail mix. I try to find one with plenty of dried fruit and maybe yogurt chips, no outright “candy”.
– Yogurt. With fruit, with granola, plain, I’m an equal opportunity eater. My personal favorites right now are Light and Fit Greek or Noosa.
– Popcorn. Home popped with a little Parmesan or the store bought white cheddar.
– Triscuits. Please try the fig and honey flavor.
– Veggies with hummus
– Cheesesticks with lunch meat. I try to keep this one sporadic as it is a bit of a salt bomb.
– Clif Zbars. Yes these are the kid versions. But I love them.
– Fig Bars.
– Leftover smoothie. If I can hide it from my kids, I usually make too much smoothie in the morning and love to save the extra for later.
– Muffins. I like to make big batches of 2 or 3 kinds of muffins and store them in my freezer.
– Avocado or almond butter toast.
– Tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole. This one definitely has to be in moderation. And I try to find salt free chips.

I’d love to hear some of your go to snacks. I’m always looking for variety. Happy snacking!


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Wild Rice Pilaf

I find it useful to browse through my fridge and pantry occasionally to see what random items are lurking there. I often find ingredients I bought for one specific recipe then forgot to use the rest. Happen to anyone else?

Well, in case anyone is hesitant to try the delicious Chicken and Wild Rice Soup I posted recently for fear that the rest of their package of wild rice will go to waste, today’s recipe is the solution. This recipe was easy and delicious and cleared out the wild rice left in my package from the last batch of soup I made. Enjoy!

Wild Rice Pilaf (Serves 4-6)

Wild Rice Pilaf

½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
2 to 3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 to 2 strips lemon zest
¼ -½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup wild rice, preferably whole not broken
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons feta cheese crumbles

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, garlic, strips of lemon zest, and thyme. Swirl and cook until the nuts and garlic are beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the wild rice and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute tops. Stir in the chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check the texture of the rice and, if needed, continue simmering until tender. Add more ¼ cup water as needed, if liquid runs out in the pan.

3. Remove from the heat. Remove the lemon zest before serving. Fluff with a fork. Stir in black pepper, remains lemon zest, and lemon juice. Top with green onions and feta cheese before serving.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 187
Protein: 9 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 95 mg

Recipe notes: Make the lemon zest strips by running a vegetable peeler around a lemon. If that is too weird for you, you could just use the zest of ½ a lemon.

Source: slightly adapted from Tyler Florence, food

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Diets to Avoid in 2018

It is the end of February. That is crazy to me! Time is flying by. I hope you are doing well on any health (and other) goals you made for this new year.

I realized I forgot to post these earlier in the year. But a list of fad diets to avoid is always timely. Especially as I think we are all re-evaluating what has or has not worked for us in the last 2 months. If you are looking for a change-up in your eating routine, the British Dietetic Association (and I agree) suggest you AVOID these five diets: raw vegan, alkaline, Katie Price Nutritional Supplements, Pioppi, and ketogenic diet.

Here’s why:

Raw Vegan Diet: A vegan diet can be consumed safely if you are conscientious and take supplements for vitamins B12 and D. However, it is not going to magically make you lose weight. Calories are calories. And there is no benefit from consuming all foods raw. Some foods cannot be digested raw – like potatoes.

Alkaline Diet: The whole premise behind this diet is flawed. Our body has multiple processes that balance the pH of the blood. If you pH was off, you would be in the hospital. Changing your diet CAN change the pH of your urine, which is what you check in this diet. You may lose weight, but because you are eating more healthy. Not because of pH changes.

Katie Price Nutritional Supplements: Bottom line is you don’t need supplements to lose weight.

Pioppi Diet: This is an altered version of a low-carb Mediterranean diet. Save yourself time and money by following a traditional Mediterranean diet (which I talk about here).

Ketogenic Diet: This is a real diet that can be followed and helpful for people with epilepsy. However, it should be done under the guidance of a dietitian. For weight loss, it is basically a very low carb diet. In the short term, it may help you lose weight. It isn’t sustainable in the long term, which means the weight loss likely would not be either. Over restricting one food group is generally not a good idea.

For more on these diets, read the British Dietetic Association’s review here. Happy eating and not dieting!

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Oatmeal Whole Grain Bread

I woke up it to snowing this morning. After a night of not much sleep and several days of stress with a kid with the flu, it was the last thing I wanted to see. So I took some advice and made some homemade bread and soup. Cold weather screams homemade bread to me for some reason. And there isn’t much better in this world than a grilled cheese sandwich on homemade bread.

This bread is quickly becoming my go to. It sounds a bit odd for sandwiches, but I promise it works. I’ve made it with and without the cinnamon. I think I may slightly prefer it without cinnamon, but it isn’t an overpowering flavor when you use it.

Oatmeal Whole Grain Bread (Makes 2 loaves, 32 slices)

Oatmeal Whole Grain Bread

2 ½ cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1 tablespoon instant yeast
5 ½ cups white whole wheat flour

1. Combine water through cinnamon in large mixing bowl. Cool to lukewarm (no more than 120 degrees F).
2. Add the yeast and flour, stirring to form a rough dough. Knead with a dough hook for 7 minutes or by hand for 10 minutes; knead until dough is smooth an satiny.
3. Lightly grease bowl. Place dough in bowl. Cover with a light towel or lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, about double in bulk.
4. Divide dough in half and shape into a loaf. Place in lightly greased loaf pans. Cover pans with towel or plastic wrap as above. Allow loaves to rise until they crown 1 inch over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Immediately remove loaves to wire rack to completely cool.

Nutritional Information (Amount per slice):

Calories: 109
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 2 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 220 mg

Recipe notes: I have only made this with white whole wheat flour. If using “regular” whole wheat flour, I would probably split it with all-purpose. The original recipe called for 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour, 4 cups all-purpose. I’ve had no problems just using 100% white whole wheat flour.

Source: slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour


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Eating in Real Life

A few weeks ago, postpartum hormones had me feeling a bit down. And I realized that I was semiconsciously getting depressed by comparing myself to bloggers I follow online. Guess what? Their lives aren’t my life, so comparing is pointless and painful.

In the spirit of being real, I have two shares today. First, here is a real meal from our house last week.

Call it Good Dinner

Pictured: two different kinds of pasta that I needed to finish boxes of, jarred spaghetti sauce, a random salad, and breadsticks I froze back and Halloween (hence the “bone” shape).

Not every dinner is scratch made at pretty much anyone’s house. And that is ok. We have a couple nights a week that are a little bit hairy at dinner around here. So I have to schedule things that are easier and faster. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make them as healthy as possible.

For this dinner, I sautéed onions, bell pepper, and carrots that I cooked into the sauce. I also threw in some Italian sausage. I love having big bags of Costco produce, so I can always at least have a salad at dinner. And when I make breadsticks, I always make a big batch if not a double big batch so I can freeze them. Then whole wheat bread is a few minutes in the oven away. Little planning and additions make the difference.

My second share is an unsponsored product review. Quaker doesn’t even know I exist to sponsor a post. Although I do admit to hearing about these in a sponsored post elsewhere. When I saw them on sale last week, I decided to try a couple to tell you guys about.

Quacker Overnight Oats

Quaker has a new(ish) product of these individual overnight oats containers. There is a fill line on the container. Put in milk (or a nondairy milk substitute) to the line, put in the fridge at night, and you have breakfast in the morning. Here’s what it looks like when you pull it out in the morning.

Quacker Overnight Oats

I got two flavors: Blueberry Banana Vanilla Bliss and Toasted Coconut Almond Crunch. My husband and I both ended up heating ours up, which is optional. My husband is a warm oatmeal eater. I wanted to try mine both ways. We both thought it took longer than suggested 30 seconds in the microwave. We both thought they tasted fine. But at the sale price of $1.50, to us, it isn’t worth it. We can make something as good or better on our own. It is fast and the taste is good. But I’ve posted before how you could make your own breakfast that is similar. Just without a cute container. A little more effort in measuring, but I think the overall taste and texture is worth it. Would I judge you if you bought these? Absolutely not! It’s a healthy breakfast. Go for it!


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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

When I was in college, the food court had these amazing bread bowls with soup. My favorite was on Wednesdays – Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. It was delicious soup made even more delicious when it would soak into the bread bowl. (Why can I remember what soup they served on what day but I can’t remember what I’m doing once I walk into a room?)

I’ve searched for soup like it and never really found it. I figured it was nostalgia’s fault – I just remembered it being super amazing. But then I tried this recipe. It is even better than I remember the other soup being, which is saying something. Even better, it doesn’t take long to make. Since they are forecasting several inches of snow and ice tomorrow at my house, I will probably be making this to warm up. Enjoy!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (Serves 6)

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
4 cups lightly packed chopped kale or other dark leafy green
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces shredded cooked chicken breast
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup nonfat half and half
⅓ cup all-purpose flour

1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook until crisp. Remove from pan, draining on paper towels. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings in pot, discard the rest.
2. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Saute 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes more. Add chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes.
3. Add kale, salt, pepper, chicken and rice. Cook 3 more minutes. .
4. Combine half-and-half and flour in a small bowl. Stir into soup. Cook until thickened, about 2-5 minutes. Stir in bacon and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 292
Protein: 17 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 36 mg
Carbohydrates: 29 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 150 mg

Recipe notes: In the soup pictured above, I used spinach because that is what I had on hand. I’ve also used kale. Whatever leafy green you like and have on hand works here. I have also substituted evaporated milk for the half and half with good results.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light


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What’s Saving My (Health) Life Right Now

It’s already February! And today marks the halfway point of winter. Woo hoo! We can do this.

How are your resolutions going? I heard someone say recently they love February because we can all get over our resolutions and talk about sweets again. I hope you aren’t in the camp because your resolutions are truly LIFESTYLE changes that you want to keep always.

Anne Bogel, on, starts a discussion every year on this date about things “saving our lives”. It is easy, especially in dreary winter months, to focus on all the things going wrong. I had a day like that yesterday. To combat the negativity, it is important to focus instead on the things going right and making our days/weeks/lives better. I love this idea. I actually started my list a couple weeks ago when I was having a rough time. It made a huge difference in my attitude.

Baby Grins that Save My LIfe

This baby girl and her sweet grins are definitely saving my life. Today, I’m sharing 6 things that are saving my life in the aspects of nutrition/health/cooking.

1) Amazon Prime music playlists. I recently made my own playlist on Prime (something I didn’t know I could do). It is all my favorite workout songs. Now, I get excited to exercise and get pumped up during my video when a new song I like comes on.

2) Costco produce. I usually don’t buy many fruits and vegetables at Costco. My family isn’t very big, so I feel like we waste it. But it has helped me make better food choices lately. It’s magic. I can eat more vegetables at lunch when I have lots of salad ingredients or carrots around.

3) Smoothies. Part of how I’ve been using up all that produce is smoothies. I drink a smoothie for breakfast pretty much every morning lately. It helps me rehydrate after my workout. I can drink it while I feed my baby or tidy up the house a bit, so I can multi-task more. My current go to mix: frozen berries, milk or water to thin, banana, greek yogurt or an instant breakfast packet, spinach, baby cucumber. Yum!

4) Treat days. One of my resolutions this year was to only eat treats on two days a week. I’m not going to lie. This is not particularly easy sometimes. But I REALLY enjoy my treats on days I’m allowed them. And I find I’m eating a little less random stuff. When it is a treat day, I know EXACTLY what I want to eat. I’m not just scavenging random candy or fruit snacks I don’t even like from the cupboard.

5) Healthy snacks. To get through my non-treat days, I do allow myself to snack. Yogurt, popcorn, and trail mix (nuts, dried berries, and yogurt chips) are my go-to’s that help me satisfy my cravings without going crazy.

6) Pressure cooker. I am not cool and have an Instant Pot. I’d love one, but my stove-top pressure cooker works well enough I can’t justify that big of a purchase. But it makes food SO fast, which is helpful as our evenings seem to be busy lately. Rice, beans, soup, and chicken are some of my favs right now. I’ll be sharing recipes soon.

What’s saving your life right now, nutrition or otherwise? Share in the comments!


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