A few days ago I was giving a talk at a corporate event and one of the attendees wanted to know if it was ever OK to feed his child a fruit that wasn’t organic. Apparently his mother-in-law would give him a death stare anytime he dared to offer a non-organic grape to his son. The audience laughed at this, and yes, it sounds funny, but this food shaming can lead to some very unnecessary and unhealthy habits. This isn’t the first time I have been asked this question or have seen this happen. Just a month ago I was at a party with my husband and the conversation turned to strawberries. When my husband mentioned he buys his strawberries at the grocery store (oh the horror!) another guest basically shamed him and told him that if he didn’t hand pick them from the farm he was essentially poisoning himself.
This type of thing happens all of the time. Being in the nutrition field, I think I’m more sensitive to it because I can see the negative side of these conversations. There’s nothing wrong talking about food choices. And there is nothing wrong with buying organic foods or picking your own produce at a local farm. But there is something wrong with essentially condemning anyone who gasp purchases conventionally grown produce or shops at the grocery store instead of the farm stand. In a perfect world, we would all grow our own seasonal produce, pick it at the peak of ripeness, and eat it the same day. But in the real world, that’s not going to happen for most of us. Even if you have a home garden, you most likely are not going to be able to grown everything you consume- or in our area the deer and rabbits just eat it all on you before you can get to it!
Not everyone can afford organic foods and not everyone has access to farm stands on a regular basis. This food shaming leads to many individuals opting to bypass eating fruit and vegetables all together (or avoid providing them to their kids) because they start to view the conventionally grown options as lesser quality, unhealthy, or downright dangerous. There’s a lot wrong with that. Cutting fruits and vegetables out of the diet can lead to many more health issues than eating a few non-organic options. I wanted to take a few minutes to clear up this confusion so you can stop the guilt and start feeding your family nutritious foods again without fear that you are harming them.
Organic refers to how a food is grown and processed. It does not refer to the nutritional content of the food. Have you ever checked out the nutrition information on a package of organic cookies or candy? They are still packed full of sugar with little nutritional value. Just because they were made with ‘organic sugar’ does not make them a healthier option. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, organic produce may contain lower amounts of pesticide residue. Organic produce, however, has not been found to be nutritionally superior. For instance, an organic pineapple will have just as much vitamin C as conventionally grown one. So if you are stressing over what you should buy organic and what can you buy that is conventionally grown, I suggest using the ‘Clean 15’ and ‘Dirty Dozen’ lists produced annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). These highlight the produce that to contain the highest amounts of pesticide residue (the Dirty Dozen which would be the produce most beneficial to purchase organic) and those with the least residue (the Clean 15, which would be your best options to buy conventionally grown).
What’s most important for nutritional value of produce is the length of time from the produce being picked to the time it is consumed. If you were to pick a strawberry today and let it sit out for a few days or a week before eating it, it will lose some of its nutritional value. Eating it directly after it has been harvested helps to make sure you are taking in the maximum nutrition from the food. That’s why the recommendation for purchasing in-season, local produce is made so often. Now, if you have a child like mine that would live on berries, you don’t have to stress that the berry season is so short. Frozen produce is picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen, so it retains most of its nutritional value. Eating frozen produce can actually be more nutritious than eating fresh out-of-season produce when you factor in all of the time the produce has been transported after harvesting.
So what’s the bottom line? Do what you feel is best for you and your family, but don’t stop eating fruits and vegetables just because you can’t find an organic option or buy from a local farmer. The benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (regardless of if they are organic or not) are numerous. What do I do? I try to buy organic produce for those on the dirty dozen list most of the time. I try to select in-season local produce when buying fresh options and stick with frozen for the out-of-season varieties. A few times during the summer we take a trip to pick fruits and vegetables at the farm, but we hit the grocery store more times than not. At the end of the day, I make sure my family is eating plant-based foods regardless of where they came from. That’s the biggest goal in my mind.
What’s Easter without a little sugar, right? I’m totally onboard with celebrating a holiday, but if I can tweak a recipe to keep it tasting great, but boosting the nutrition value a bit, I definitely try. I know the Easter baskets will be overflowing with chocolates and jelly beans so cutting down a bit on the amount of added sugar in our other desserts this weekend won’t hurt.
To me, an Easter dessert should be fun and colorful, just like dying an Easter egg. And that’s what this healthy sugar cookie recipe reminds me of. This healthy Easter dessert is so fun to make and so fun to eat, yet at the same time these Easter sugar cookies still squeeze in a bit of nutrition from the fresh fruit, walnuts, and Greek yogurt. It makes having that second (or who I am kidding- the that 4th or 5th) cookie a bit more justified.
This recipe is my favorite Easter cookie recipe by far, but if you need more Easter dessert recipe ideas, make sure to check out my High Protein Easter Bunny Cake Pops which are almost too adorable to eat! And if you are just in the mood for a delicious, no sugar added cookie make sure to try one of my all-time favorite recipes High Protein Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies.
This naturally sweetened Easter dessert combines the deliciousness of a sugar cookie with the color of fresh fruit for a healthy Easter dessert the whole family will love
- 1 cup 1 cup whole wheat-white flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbs non-fat Greek plain yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 Tbs unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 oz walnuts finely ground
- 2 Tbs chia or flax seeds save ½ of this mixture for toppings*
- 1 Egg shaped cookie cutter
- 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 3 Tbs powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 kiwi peeled and diced
- 1 mango pitted and diced
- 1 pineapple spear diced
- 2 strawberries stemmed and diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix together yogurt, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, and butter. Mix until smooth. Slowly stir and combine with dry ingredients. Fold in finely ground walnut mixture. Dough should start to form.
On a clean, floured surface place dough. Roll out flat. With an Easter egg shape cookie cutter, cut out 12-14 Easter egg shapes and place on a prepared baking pan. (You can also form egg shaped dough with your hands, I did and the sizes may vary)
Bake cookies for 15-25 minutes or until cookies feel firm or start to brown. Take out of oven and let cool completely.
While cookies are cooling, make yogurt frosting. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
Once cookies are cooled, frost with yogurt frosting and top with fruit and walnut mixture by creating fun designs. Enjoy immediately and HAPPY EASTER!
Nutrition Facts (per cookie): 175 calories, 30 g CHO, 5 g FAT, 5 g PRO, 20 mg sodium, 22 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Here comes Peter CottonTail lalala …. That song has been stuck in my head all week. Easter is just around the corner and I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with a few fun Easter activities to do with Joey. Both boys have been sick all week and it’s been raining non-stop, so getting outside hasn’t really been an option. As much as I want to dye Easter eggs with the boys (or with Joey while we let the baby watch), the idea of letting a 3 year old dip eggs into colored dye inside the house gives me anxiety. I would see it going very well or very, very badly 😉 When the weather clears up, I am all about doing this- but outside where messes don’t matter as much.
I was looking online for fun Easter-themed snacks and desserts to make and came across some really adorable ideas. However almost all of them were cake pops. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about enjoying cake. But, if we are going to make an entire batch of cake pops, we are going to end up eating the whole batch ourselves. And I just don’t think any of us need that much extra sugar right now. So instead, I decided to come up with a cake pop alternative that tastes just as good, is just as fun to make, but is packed full of nutritious ingredients so it can actually be a legit snack and not just an occasional dessert. Enter my High Protein Easter Bunny Cake Pops.
I think I am a little too excited about how these cake pops came out. They taste even better than I expected, but they also look like real little Easter bunnies. If you follow me on Instagram, you will understand why I am so excited that these guys really look like a bunny after my epic Pinterest Fail attempt at making chocolate-covered strawberry bunnies. Just check out the picture and you will see what I mean. I don’t think I need to tell you what they actually resemble (hint: it’s a certain smiley face brown emoji haha).
The best part about these cake pops is that they are rich in protein and healthy fat with very little added sugar. So the dietitian in me is beyond excited that the new ‘dessert’ in the house is more nutritionally equivalent to a well-rounded breakfast smoothie. If you make them yourself, tag me and share your pictures. I would love to see how they turn out!
These high protein cake pops make the perfect healthy Easter dessert.
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/3 cup chocolate protein powder
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, vanilla
- 1 tsp mini dark chocolate chips
- 8 pairs candy eye-balls
- 2 straws edible grass
In a small bowl, heat peanut butter in the microwave until it thins out and can be easily mixed (about 30 seconds).
Stir oats and protein powder into the peanut butter to create a dough.
Place dough in refrigerator for about 5 minutes to allow it to slightly harden and become moldable.
Press dough into silicon bunny shaped baking sheet (or mold dough into bunny shape).
Place molded dough into the freezer and allow to harden for 20 minutes.
Remove from freezer and place lollipop sticks into each ‘bunny’
Dip the bunnies into the Greek yogurt until completely covered and place onto wax paper.
Decorate the bunnies by added candy eyes, edible-grass ‘whiskers,’ and using a chocolate chip for the nose.
Place back in freezer for 1 hour until the yogurt has hardened completely. Serve chilled and enjoy!
Serving size= 1 pop
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Calories 107 Carbs: 5gm Fiber: 1 gm Protein: 7gm Fat: 7gm Saturated Fat: 1gm Sodium: 62mg
It’s National Black Forest Cake Day! You read that right- there is actually a cake holiday. Aren’t you glad I didn’t let you miss this one?! Have you been telling yourself you can’t have cake? If so, why? Is it a food you feel like once you start eating you can’t stop? Or do you just feel guilty after eating a food that you don’t deem as the healthiest option? Here’s the thing- food should be fun. It should be enjoyable to eat and you shouldn’t feel guilt about eating a dessert, or anything for that matter. Sure you shouldn’t eat cake with every meal (or as an entire meal), but you also shouldn’t avoid it.
Do you know what I have found to be the BIGGEST reason that someone fails to lose weight and keep it off? It’s that they don’t eat cake. Seriously! The people who refuse to ever treat themselves, that think they must force themselves to be deprived of all of their favorite foods, those are the people that will never be successful at long term weight management. Why? Because losing weight and keeping it off requires you to make healthy lifestyle changes. If you go ‘on a diet’ you probably have the intention of going ‘off the diet’ at a certain point as well. And what happens when you ‘go off’? You probably go right back to the same old habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place. Sound familiar? What’s the point in starving yourself and depriving yourself to reach your goal weight if you can’t maintain it? Is your ultimate goal really to say ‘I was healthier for a hot minute and then I gained all the weight back’ or is it to slowly work towards your goal over time knowing that when you do achieve your health goals, whatever they may be, that you will actually maintain them? I hope it’s the latter choice. And if it is (and it should be!) depriving yourself of a food you love is not the answer.
So today put an end to the deprivation cycle and spread the word- ‘LET THEM EAT CAKE!” Before you restrict your food choices or make a change to your meal plan, ask yourself is this a change I can maintain for life? To me a choice to add a vegetable to my lunch every day is a lifestyle change that is realistic and something I can actually do for life. A choice to never have a slice of cake again- heck no! What a sad life that would be, right?! So go celebrate National Black Forest Cake Day with this spin on the original recipe that keeps all the same great flavor, but cuts down on the added sugars and unhealthy fats.
It's National Black Forest Cake Day! Enjoy it with my Slimmed Down version of this tasty treat!
- 1 15.25-ounce box Devils Food Cake Mix
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
- 10 each dark chocolate cordial cherries
- 1 13.5-ounce can coconut cream refrigerated overnight
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, yogurt, water and coconut oil. Blend until smooth.
In a prepared 9×13-baking pan, pour cake mix. Gently push cordial cherries about 1/2-inch from each other into cake mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Let cake cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, make coconut whipped cream. In a mixing bowl, add refrigerated coconut cream (just the cream, not the liquid left at the bottom of the can). Using a hand mixer beat coconut cream on high for 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and beat for another 4 minutes. Refrigerate whipped cream until cake has completely cooled. Spread coconut whip evenly on top of cake. Use chocolate shavings for garnish and enjoy!
263 calories, 20 g CHO, 16 g FAT, 2 g PRO, 13 mg sodium, 16 g sugar