4 Delicious Ways To Eat Vegetables for Breakfast

From reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers to helping you maintain a healthy body weight, you can't deny the health benefits of vegetables and fruits. But, research has shown that Americans simply don't eat enough. In fact 87% of Americans fall short on meeting their 2-3 cup recommendation for vegetables each day! (Source)

Vegetables are versatile, however, and they can be so easy to add to the foods you usually select each day. So, this March -- National Nutrition Month -- and all year round, aim to start your day on a healthy note. One delicious way of doing so is by enjoying vegetables for breakfast.

Here are 4 delicious ways you can enjoy vegetables for breakfast: 


Pair Vegetables with Eggs at Breakfast | 4 Delicious Ways to Eat Vegetables for Breakfast

Pair Vegetables with Eggs

Eggs create a fluffy base for which you can add your crunchy, crispy, or soft vegetables. When making egg scrambles, simply add whatever roasted vegetables you have on hand (tomatoes, onions, peppers, root vegetables, etc.) and let the flavors and textures mingle together. Make them in a saute pan on the stove, in a cast iron skillet, or in a baking dish in the oven. 

Check out these recipes for inspiration: Sunny Side Up Eggs with Vegetables, Make Ahead Baked Eggs, Shakshuka Skillet Eggs, 5 Ingredient Mexican Baked Eggs.


4 Delicious Ways to Eat Vegetables for Breakfast

Add Vegetables To Your Smoothies (Especially Brassica Vegetables!)

It's well known that you can add leafy greens (like kale and spinach) to your smoothies, but did you know that you could add Brassica vegetables too? Brassica vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower can easily be added to your high-speed blender to puree them into your favorite smoothies. Broccoli delivers glucoraphanin, a special antioxidant that can help boost your body's own detoxification system, and cauliflower delivers a creamy texture that puts some extra smoooooth in your smoothie! 

Check out these recipes for inspiration: Banana Berry Peanut Butter Smoothie, Green Smoothie with Broccoli and Apple, Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie (great recipe but nix the imitation butter flavor, ick!), Chocolate Hazelnut Cauliflower Smoothie.


4 Delicious Ways to Eat Vegetables for Breakfast

Make a Breakfast Wrap or Breakfast Burrito with Vegetables

Put tortillas, beans, veggies, and spices together and what do you get? Burritos!  What's so great about burritos or breakfast wraps is that you can prep a large batch in advance, wrap each individual burrito in foil, pop them in the freezer in a resealable bag or glass container, then reheat during the week for a quick breakfast!  

Check out these recipes for inspiration: Freezer-Friendly Roasted Vegetable Burritos with Black Beans and Rice, Chickpea Burritos with Vegetables, Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Burritos.


4 Delicious Ways To Eat Vegetables for Breakfast

Add Vegetables to Your Pancakes

Give your flapjack some veggie flair! You can add pureed, grated, shredded, or mashed vegetables like sweet potato, zucchini, carrots, and beets to your pancakes to be enjoyed savory or sweet. After cooking, take your pancakes to the next level with produce by topping them with mashed/melted berries for sweetness or with plain Greek yogurt and scallions for something extra savory. 

Check out these recipes for inspiration: Grain Free Chai Spiced Sweet Potato Pancakes, Zucchini Greek Yogurt Pancakes, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Pancakes, Red Velvet Beetroot Pancakes


What is your favorite way to enjoy vegetables for breakfast? Share it with me in the comments below or let me know over on Facebook

Popcorn: Healthy Brands & Popcorn Recipes

In my nutrition coaching appointments, I often discuss the importance of choosing whole grains (as opposed to refined grains) for better health...and my clients are often surprised to learn that popcorn is indeed a whole grain.

Why is popcorn healthy? When air-popped, popcorn delivers just 30 calories and a bit over 1 gram of fiber per cup. Pump that out to 3 cups, and you have a snack that offers 90 calories, 3.5 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein, too. You can get more staying power from popcorn when you make a trail mix and pair it with another protein and healthy fat (like nuts or seeds).

But when it comes to popcorn, not all options on your grocery store shelves are as healthy as they may seem to be. Case in point: Jolly Time's "Healthy Pop" Caramel Apple Popcorn, which was recently added to the Health Hall of Shame

So when it comes to choosing a healthy popcorn - that totally delivers on flavor as much as it delivers on nutrition - here are a couple of ideas from some of my favorite popcorn and snack brands for what popcorns to eat and what to pair popcorn with for a bigger nutritional bang. 


Pop YourS On The Stove

Healthy Popcorn Brands, Popcorn Recipes, and Popcorn Snack Combinations

For a snack for two, take just 1/4 cup of these Butterfly Popcorn Kernels from Quinn Popcorn, add them to a pot on the stovetop with 2-3 tablespoons oil, cover, and turn up the heat to full power. With the lid on, shake the pot carefully every ~30ish seconds to ensure even popping. When popping slows, remove from heat and transfer to bowl. Enjoy these plain or add in your favorite toppings. I love the looks of the recipe on Quinn's site for "Nacho" Popcorn -- it's the kernels with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, and a variety of other spices. How yum!

Still love making your popcorn in the microwave? Quinn offers Microwave Popcorn, which is the first and ONLY microwave popcorn to use only REAL ingredients in a microwave bag completely stripped of all PFOA's, PFC's and plastic coating. (Learn more about the health effects of PFAS here)! 


Add Your Favorite Savory Ingredients

Healthy Popcorn Brands, Popcorn Recipes, and Popcorn Snack Combinations

While popcorn with spices makes a tasty snack, adding in healthy fats and proteins (from nuts and seeds) can help make you feel fuller for longer. To G.H. Creator's Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Popped Corn, make a trail mix with pumpkin seeds, almonds, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, and cracked pepper. Bonus: do this at the beginning of the week then keep in a sealed container in your desk drawer. When the 2pm hunger strike happens, you'll be armed and ready with a healthy choice!


Get Single Servings of Popcorn Sweetness

Healthy Popcorn Brands, Popcorn Recipes, and Popcorn Snack Combinations

When I crave something sweet, this Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn from Angie's Boomchickapop hits the spot with just the right amount of sweetness.  Because this popcorn features cane sugar as an ingredient (it's what gives the popcorn it's delicious sweetness), I select the 1-ounce bags from Target -- they're perfectly portioned so I can better identify how much sugar I'm mindfully indulging in.

Plus, from soccer games to cheer competitions and swim meets, I find that this popcorn also makes a good pre-game snack for middle and high schoolers...just toss in their backpack/gym bag and it's ready to eat whenever they are! 


Get Better Cheddar...Go For The Real Deal.

Healthy Popcorn Brands, Popcorn Recipes, and Popcorn Snack Combinations

When it comes to cheddar popcorn, it might be surprising to learn that even if the front of the popcorn package says "cheddar" or "cheese," the ingredients may not contain any cheese all, but instead get their cheesy flavor from natural or artificial flavors alone. Annie's Organic White Cheddar Popcorn, however, gets its cheesy flavor from organic cheddar cheese. No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives here! For a tasty snack, I'd combine this with a handful of pistachios or peanuts to up the amount of protein and healthy fats. 


Do you love popcorn? What are your favorite popcorn brands, popcorn recipes, and popcorn combinations? Did you find this blog post helpful? Let me know it the comments below or on Facebook @YESNutritionLLC.

Healthy Valentine's Day Sweet Treats

Skip the artificially-flavored and colored candy hearts and lollipops this season...instead, impress your sweetie this February with these healthier-for-you Valentine's Day treats!  These sweet snacks are simply decadent - and they are so easy to make, too. 

Every year for Valentine's Day, my family creates homemade chocolate covered strawberries. While they are still a favorite sweet option, these other two choices add a fun twist to the Valentine's Day classics we love and adore. They're free of artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners, naturally gluten-free, and are soooo yummy...that's the best part, after all!

Watch how to make these sweet, simple, and healthy Valentine's Day treats here or get the recipe below to do it yourself:

Here's how you can create this in your own kitchen for single servings. Double or triple the recipe if you're ready to share...that's the spirit of the season anyway, right?


Almond Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Bites | Healthy Valentine's Day Sweet Treats

Almond-Pom Dark Chocolate 

Ingredients: 

1 oz of dark chocolate square
1 Tablespoon of smooth almond butter
1-2 tablespoons of pomegranate arils

Instructions: 

  1. Layer the almonds butter overtop your dark chocolate square.
  2. Sprinkle pomegranate arils overtop. 

Toasted Coconut Sprinkled Strawberries  | Healthy Valentine's Day Sweet Treats

Toasted Coconut Sprinkled Strawberries

Ingredients:

4-5 whole strawberries, cored
1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
2-3 Tablespoons of unsweetened coconut shreds, toasted.

Instructions:

  1. Toast unsweetened coconut shreds in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer toasted coconut shreds to a medium size bowl. 
  2. Holding the bottom of the strawberry, dip the top of one strawberry into plain Greek yogurt. 
  3. Next, dip the top of the strawberry (now covered in Greek yogurt) into the toasted coconut shreds. 

What is your favorite Valentine's Day treat to give or to receive? Let me know in the comments below! Or, tweet me on Twitter @ToriSchmittRDN

Are Canned Foods Healthy?

Healthy Pantry with Canned Foods

As a Registered Dietitian, I frequently get asked "are canned foods healthy?" My answer: as with many things in nutrition, that answer is complex and depends on YOU and your life.  So, to answer, here's what I do when it comes to choosing canned foods (and also a peek inside my pantry!).

From vegetables to beans - and even canned tuna and sardines - canned products save me time and energy in the kitchen. They don't "go bad" as quick as their refrigerated counterparts would. They allow me to load my soup with vegetables and add extras to my salad when a trip to the grocery store for fresh ingredients just didn't happen that week. Because even though I don't like to admit it - I am guilty of letting fresh produce go bad (argh, food waste!), I don't drive the 25 miles to the grocery store every week, and I do like to save some time in the kitchen. It's real life. 

Canned foods offer an easy way for me to get the nutrition I need. And, though many canned products do contain salt (aka sodium), I try to choose vegetables and beans that offer "no salt" or "low salt" added.  And if I can't get those options, I know that I can reduce up to 40% of the sodium found in canned foods by simply draining and rinsing the food inside. You can too. 

For me, canned fruit doesn't happen as often, as I prefer the taste and texture of whole, fresh fruit or will do frozen fruit for use in smoothies, oatmeal, or baking.  But, I know for some, canned fruit is their fruit-of-choice. I recommend that if this is is the case, they choose fruit packed in water or canned in 100% juice (not syrup or extra added sugar).  Also watch the "lite" versions of some canned fruits, as though they'll contain less calories, it's because they do so by using artificial sweeteners.

One thing that I am worried about when it comes to canned foods is BPA, which can be found in the lining of many metal cans. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor, which has been associated with an increased risk for heart disease, some cancers, and metabolic concerns including diabetes. It's especially concerning for me as a woman of childbearing age as BPA has also been linked to an increased risk for reproductive dysfunction, miscarriage, decreased birth weight at term, and impaired cognitive development in young children. 

This is why even though I use canned foods, I limit my exposure to BPA by choosing fresh or frozen vegetables more often than canned. When I choose canned, I strive to purchase cans made with BPA-free lining, and choose canned products only when I need to, like when I don't want to soak and cook my own beans (it's easy, but it takes time) or when I can't get the food I want fresh or frozen...this chick lives in the 21st century and, at this point in life, is not going to fire-roast her own tomatoes every time she needs to. Sorry...not sorry! 

I also try to limit my exposure to BPA by keeping plastic out of the freezer, sun, and microwave (even if it says "microwave safe"), by storing my food in glass containers, and by using glass or stainless steel water bottles and straws. 

Bottom line: canned foods help me in the kitchen by reducing my time, by helping me avoid food waste, and by enabling me to use vegetables and beans when I otherwise wouldn't.  However, I choose fresh more often than canned, and, because of my concern for BPA, I choose foods lined in BPA-free cans and engage in other practices to help reduce my total BPA exposure. 

So, are canned foods healthy for YOU? Do they help you enjoy more vegetables or beans? Do they offer a cost-effective way to get the nutrition you need, while helping you save time and energy in the kitchen? Or, do you prefer fresh or frozen for various reasons? You see, the answer lies with what works best for you. Evaluate your answer, then let me know in the comments below or on Facebook at @YesNutritionLLC