New Nana’s Nola Granola

Nana’s Nola sent me a few packs of their new granola to try! Of course I gladly accepted because I love granola–but usually will make my own before I go out and buy some.

Nana's Nola

They came in these little 2 oz. snack/meal packets convenient for travel. I enjoy the taste–not too sweet tasting, and it’s crunchier like a cereal would be.

Each pack is 270 calories, so you could possibly eat this for a snack, or add some milk and fruit and eat it as a meal. If you are watching your calories, this is a little over the recommended 200 calorie snack guideline I give patients. Nana's Nola nutrition

The fact comes from coconut oil which is the main ingredient. Coconut oil is considered to be one of the slightly healthier fats. The only negative is that the next ingredients are sugar sources: brown rice syrup and agave. However, the entire packet only has 12 grams of sugar which is what I would recommend as the upper limit for this calorie level snack. If you continue to read through the ingredients, you will notice healthy whole grains and no preservatives or unnatural ingredients–always a plus!Nana's Nola ingredients

Overall, this granola would be a great option for those with food sensitivities because it contains no gluten, no soy, no dairy which tend to be triggers for those who are sensitive. I would recommend this for those who are not watching their weight due to sugar ingredients being at the top of the ingredient list. Nana’s Nola would be a great option for those who are at a normal weight (or need to gain weight), or are athletic.

Easy Summer Squash Recipe

One of my favorite side dish recipes in the summer is this yellow squash recipe with caramelized onions, basil, thyme, and goat cheese. I could probably eat 4 squash and make a meal out of it. That is how much I love it!

easy summer squash recipe

Before the squash has been fully cooked.

Easy Summer Squash Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 medium size yellow summer squash
  • 1 large yellow onion, or 2 small-medium sized onions
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (or about 2 tsp. minced jarred garlic)
  • 1-2 tsp. ground dried thyme (or fresh if you have it)
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Thinly slice the onions, and add to a large saute pan with the olive oil on medium heat. Cook on low-medium for about 10 minutes until slightly golden, and softened.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the squash on a mandolin (if you have one–or just slice medium thickness by hand).
  3. Add the squash to the pan with onions and cook covered for about 5-10 minutes. Add your garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper as well.
  4. The squash will cook down some. Stir, and cook uncovered about 10 more minutes until fully softened.
  5. Add the fresh basil with about 2 minutes left of cooking time, and save a little basil for garnish.
  6. When serving, top with goat cheese.

summer squash recipe

This recipe (pictured above) does not have the basil and goat cheese–just a different variation with a little tomato!

Now Scheduling Nutrition Consultations in Buckhead

Exciting announcement: Now scheduling nutrition consultations in Buckhead (Atlanta, GA).

I will have a new location opening August 18th. The office will only be open on Mondays, but hours will be flexible.

Location: 3495 Piedmont Rd. (The Fountains at Piedmont Center)

Building 11

Atlanta, GA 30305

Now Scheduling Nutrition Consultation in Buckhead

If you have other appointment requests, please feel free to e-mail me (nicolesnutrition@gmail.com) your availability and more information about you!

Why see a Dietitian? A RD (Registered Dietitian) is the number one authority on food! We have to meet specific credentialing qualifications, complete an internship, continuing education, are considered healthcare professionals, and we are the ones who order medically therapeutic diets in hospitals.

A Dietitian can help you achieve any nutrition goal (within their scope of practice). I specialize in weight management, eating disorders, vegetarian and vegan diets, and other nutrition therapy for preventative health such as lowering cholesterol.

Maybe you need help eating more mindfully, or would like advice for healthy grocery shopping? Or perhaps you just have a few key questions that you want the answers to once and for all!

Have a question? Just ask!

nutrition appointment Atlanta

Quest Bar Nutrition Review by an RD!

Quest Bar Nutrition ReviewBack in 2010, I reviewed some of my favorite picks for healthy granola and protein bars. But, 4 years have passed and there are many more new favorites that I will share with you! I will start off this series with one of my favorites: the Quest Bar!

*I have not received any type of compensation in writing this post.*

Quest Bars

These are definitely my number one pick at the moment. Why? They are packed with protein (20 grams of quality whey protein). They are lower carbohydrate since they are an excellent source of fiber, you can subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrates to get your net carbohydrates. Check out this label from below.

Cookies and cream quest bar nutrition facts

What the heck is an isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO)?

Isomalto-oligosaccharides are natural for the body to digest, but we don’t use this type of fiber for energy (meaning we actually can’t break it down to fully digest it, but it is normal for our body to pass it through the digestive system). Many protein bar companies add a lot of sugar alcohols or harsh gas-forming fibers to their bars, but IMOs are the least “gas-forming” and much more gentle on the digestive system.

An IMO is also classified as a prebiotic fiber which means they are a beneficial type of fiber that we need in order to produce healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. Probiotics are different–they are actual healthy bacteria that help increase they number of healthy bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics help to nourish the healthy bacteria that already exist.

I recommend that you don’t eat more than about 30 grams of IMOs per day (one Quest bar contains about 16 grams). So, try not to eat more than one Quest bar per day. If you do, you will be right around the threshold for maximum IMO fiber intake for the day and may experience some digestive discomfort. However, the more you weigh (and the taller you are), the more you are likely to be able to digest them.

Erythritol

One Quest bar contains about 2 grams of erythritol. This is a sugar alcohol that is generally harmless. It can actually be found naturally occuring, and does not likely cause digestive discomfort like other sugar alcohols are notorious for doing. The benefit is that this sugar alcohol tastes sweet without causing blood sugar spikes!

Stevia

A natural, zero calorie sweetener. Stevia is natural and generally harmless. I try to keep intake below 4 mg/kg BW (recommendations according to WHO) just to be on the safe side. What does this mean? A 50 kg female should not intake more than 200 mg of stevia per day. I estimate this to be no more than 4 servings of stevia per day just to make sure it is safe.

Sucralose aka Splenda

I try to avoid Splenda because I have a no-artificial sweeteners policy. Not for safety reasons, but because why do I need them when there are so many other natural options? Anyways, you can find many Quest bar flavors without Splenda in them. But, there are a handful of flavors that do contain Splenda (but, it is such a tiny amount, I don’t think it is cause for concern in my book).

There you have your ingredients run-down! Now, what about flavor?

I love the taste of Quest bars, and I know many other people feel the same way I do. If you don’t like the chewy texture, try microwaving them to make them soft and warm! I think you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. I will pretty much eat ANY flavor (except I try to chose more of the natural flavors).

Overall, I give Quest Bars a rating of A (not A+ because of the Splenda).

Don’t you love Quest Bars?

Vinegar: The New Healthy Condiment

I love adding vinegar to recipes and meals because it adds tanginess and flavor to excite my taste buds without adding loads of calories or tons of additives. Vinegar also contains anti-bacterial properties, but other nutritional benefits are not well known. More research is needed especially for apple cider vinegar.

Important to note: Do not take apple cider vinegar as a daily supplement without speaking to your Doctor or Registered Dietitian. Taking vinegar on a daily basis as a supplement is an unproven treatment. But, for cooking–go right ahead and use it!NAKANO rice vinegar

Mizkan (company that makes a variety of condiments) was kind enough to send me some free NAKANO rice vinegar to try. They have natural rice vinegar as well as some flavored varieties.

My favorite so far is the red pepper seasoned vinegar. It is a little sweet (does contain 5 g sugar), but spicy, and salty all at the same time. So,  of course I love it. The only thing I would caution is to watch how much you use because if you go overboard with the condiment, you could be adding too much sugar to your food. But, you only need a tiny amount because the flavor is so strong (which is good).

1 Tbsp = 20 calories

Here are some meal ideas that I have already tried adding these rice vinegars to:

cabbage apple slaw

Vinegar in Apple Cabbage Slaw Recipe

grilled romaine

Vinegar as condiment for grilled chicken.

Do you use vinegar as a condiment?

Thai Salmon Salad

simple thai food bookI recently joined this Blogging for Books program where I get free books of my choosing in exchange for a blog review about them after I am done reading them.

I chose the book, “Simple Thai Food”, by Leela Punyaratabandhu since the author is a fellow foodie blogger and I have been dying for some legit Thai recipes.

All of the recipes look tasty, but I tried the Thai Salmon Salad recipe first. It is a marinated salmon mixture (no lettuce here) that you can serve with brown rice or I chose to serve it with whole wheat couscous.

I won’t reveal her secret recipe because that would be giving away information in her tasty cookbook. But, I will explain all of the ingredients for you!

thai salmon salad

You have to at least somewhat like fish flavors to enjoy this recipe because it uses a good amount of the fish sauce (3 Tbsp).

Ingredients:

  • Fish sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Shallots
  • Lemongrass
  • Thai peppers
  • Mint
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Salmon

You bake or steam the salmon in bite size pieces, and meanwhile chop all of the remaining ingredients. Then, when the salmon is finished, you add to the lime mixture and stir to combine. Top with mint at the end, and serve about room temperature (I do not like mine too cold!).

By now you might be thinking this recipe is a little wacky, but it contains flavors you probably have never tasted together making it a party of flavors.

This recipe is also pretty darn healthy due to the healthy fats from the salmon, herbs, and fresh ingredients.

Overall, I can’t wait to try more of Leela’s recipes due to the authenticity of them and how easily she has broken it down and explained everything about Thai cooking for me. This makes it much easier to understand. Other Thai recipes I have tried have never come out very well because they didn’t explain as much. Some might complain that the recipes still have a lot of ingredients. But, that is what it takes to make good Thai food!

Muesli: Easy, Quick, and Healthy Breakfast

Over the last year, I haven’t eaten much cereal at all because I was just tired of all the junk ingredients in most cereals. But, recently I started eating more muesli because I can create variety with it, and I get a balanced meal out of it.

What is Muesli?muesli: easy healthy breakfast

The idea for muesli came from the Swiss and Germans. The base of muesli is just raw rolled oats like you would use for oatmeal (uncooked). Then, you combine the raw oats with other grains like barley or rye, and some nuts, seeds, and dried (or fresh) fruit–whatever you like! You take the dry ingredients, and you can soak them overnight (or leave them dry like I do). In the morning, you add cold milk of your choice or yogurt, and enjoy.

Tip: Since I keep my oat mixture dry, when I pour in my almond milk in the morning, I let it soak for about 10 minutes before eating so that the ingredients hydrate a little bit.

You can make muesli as sweet and sinful (some add cream and lots of honey or fruit juice) OR as healthy and low sugar as you like.

My Recipe

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats, dry, plain
  • 2 Tbsp. rye flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. seeds (chia seeds and/or pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried blueberries (or raisins/dates)
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (or any other berries)
  • Top with a few raw unsalted almonds (about 6-10)
  • 1/2-1 cup coconut/almond milk blend (if it is unsweetened almond milk, I add 1 tsp. local honey)

This quick muesli recipe is for one serving. You can make more ahead of time and store in an air-tight container for ease in the morning.

how to make muesli

My version of a super fast muesli. Oats on the bottom, then fruit, nuts, and natural peanut butter on top.

I mix and match my ingredients. Sometimes I add sliced banana. Other times I add a spoonful of a nut butter on top.

Don’t like raw plain dry oats? Toast them ahead of time! Lay out dry oats on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little bit of oil and honey and bake until they turn a little golden. Allow to cool. This will make your oats crunchier and more like a granola.

Muesli is typically healthier than granola because it contains less added sugars, and usually more fiber, protein, and healthy fats (if you add more nuts and seeds).

No time to make your own Muesli?

Here are two brands that I bought recently for convenience.

Trader Joe's and Bob's Red Mill Muesli

One is Bob’s Red Mill brand of muesli that you can buy at most grocery stores or order online. The other is Trader Joe’s muesli. If you buy these, make sure to check your portion size because muesli portions should be fairly small due to the higher nutritional density of ingredients.  Tip: Add fresh fruit to make your serving look larger!

Do you eat muesli?

New Healthy Snack: Super Seedz

Super Seedz sent me a bunch of their flavored pumpkin seed snacks. I was super excited when they arrived at my door, and even more excited when I discovered how tasty and healthy they are.

I get tired of eating nuts all the time for my snacks, so these flavored seeds will help me add some variety to my diet.

super seedz

They have spicy flavors, plain, gourmet flavors, and sweeter flavors as well.

What are Super Seedz?

They are flavored, shelled pumpkin seeds that you can eat for a snack like nuts.

cocoa pumpkin seeds

These are the “cocoa joe” flavored pumpkin seeds. They only have 3 grams of sugar per serving, but taste sweet and tasty to me! My favorite so far.

Nutrition Facts*

super seedz nutrition facst

Nutrition facts for the spicy pumpkin seed flavor.

*For shelled pumpkin seeds and SuperSeedz

  • up to 9 grams of protein per serving
  • 15% RDI for zinc (which can be hard to get if you are vegan/vegetarian)
  • 15% RDI for iron (also can be a difficult nutrient to fulfill when you eat less meat)
  • 60% RDI for manganese (manganese is a cofactor for a powerful antioxidant)
  • Contain a specific type of vitamin E that may be more beneficial than other forms of vitamin E (more research is needed)
  • Good source of lignans (a plant chemical) which acts as an antioxidant and have anti-inflammatory benefits (similar to lignans found in flax seed). You can read more here about lignans.
  • Gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free
  • Non-GMO
  • Clean, natural ingredients

Yum yum. I love it when food is tasty and super healthy. Have you tried these yet? I am sure you could make your own version of these as well. But, SuperSeedz gets the flavor just right ;-)

My Picks: Healthiest Breads

There is this gluten free craze going around these days, and more and more people seem to be avoiding bread like it’s the devil. Bread is NOT bad. You just have to be selective about what you buy, and check your ingredients label.

The key is to look for all whole grains, aka whole wheat, whole oat, whole rye, etc. No enriched flour which means plain old white flour.

And look for as little additives as possible, meaning, you should be able to decipher the ingredients. Lastly, make sure the sugar content is not too high. Here are my picks for the healthiest breads:

My Favorite Breads

1. Ezekiel Breadsprouted grains ezekiel bread

Food for Life, 7 Sprouted Grains

This is my go-to bread choice at the grocery store. You can find this in the freezer section of the grocery store. Since it has no preservative, they must refrigerate it. I like this flavor better than the traditional Ezekiel Bread because it has a better flavor.

Ingredients: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Rye, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Oats, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Sprouted Corn, Organic Sprouted Brown Rice, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

Yes, it does contain gluten and wheat. But, there is no need to avoid these ingredients unless you have an allergy or have Celiac’s disease. Wheat in its’ whole, clean, unprocessed form is an excellent source of nutrients. And gluten is what holds the bread together!

2. Silver Hills Bakery Breadhealthy flax bread

Mack’s Flax Bread

This brand of bread I found at a Super Target in the bakery section. I was very excited to find this bread. It may become my new favorite. They have a lot of healthy varieties including a hemp seed bread that contains 7 grams of protein per serving (a great choice for vegans and vegetarians). Even the flax bread contains 6 grams of protein per serving, very low sugar, and high fiber. And, it is tasty.

Ingredients: Organic whole sprouted wheat, organic flax (organic whole flax seeds, organic ground flax seeds), water, vital wheat gluten, organic cane sugar, yeast, sea salt, cultured wheat flour (wheat flour, bacterial culture)

3. Mestemacher Breadhealthiest rye bread

Rye Bread with Muesli

This is a German bread company that makes many rye bread varieties. True rye bread. Not the white flour rye bread blend that you find in American grocery stores. I decided to try this bread after coming back from a trip to Denmark where I first had this type of bread. We took a Baltic cruise, and I kept spotting this bread at many restaurants and shops. After that trip, I found it in Aldi stores, Whole Foods, and some Kroger stores.

If you like rye flavors, you will love this bread. I like the muesli flavor toasted for breakfast with a little almond butter on it. The muesli flavor contains seeds and hazelnuts. Yum. Did you know: Rye bread may help with weight loss due to the type of fibers it contains.

Ingredients: Crushed whole rye grains (30%), whole meal rye flour, oat flakes (4%), water, non-sulphurated sultanas (5%), hazelnuts (2%), sunflower seeds (2%), linseed (2%), salt, oat fiber, sesame, yeast.

4. Food for Life Brown Rice Wraps or TortillasBrown rice wraps

This is not sliced bread, but it has to be mentioned because it is one of my favorites. And, if you are looking for a healthy gluten free option, this is excellent. The flavor is amazing, it holds it shape better than other gluten free products, and I like the texture. Delicious. This one you will also find in the freezer section. I purchase it at Publix.

Ingredients: Brown Rice Flour, Filtered Water, Tapioca Flour, Safflower oil, Rice Bran, Vegetable Gum (Xanthan Gum, Cellulose), Sea Salt.

5. Trader Joe’s Bread

Sprouted Rye Bread

Trader Joe’s has many healthy bread options, but this is one of my favorites due to flavor. The slices are also very thin and light, so if you are watching your calories, this would be a good choice. I don’t have a package in my freezer right now, so I don’t have the full nutritionals for you. But, I will post them when I buy it again.

What is your favorite bread?

Steel Cut Oat Breakfast Cookie

Steel cut oats can take forever to cook if you want to make oatmeal in the morning. We had so many steel cut oats and they were not getting eaten, so I was determined to make a breakfast “cookie” out of them.

Wait… What is a Steel Cut Oat?

Steel cut oats are the whole inner portion of the oat kernel making it a clean, healthy, whole grain choice. Oats that you find labeled “quick cooking” oats are made out of steel cut oats. These “rolled oats” are husked and then flattened, or rolled out. The nutritional benefits are very similar.

steel cut oat breakfast cookie

Steel Cut Oat Breakfast Cookie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry steel cut oats
  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. stevia/stevia blend
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I use Himalayan salt or iodized)
  • 2 eggs (or you can make "flax eggs" if vegan)
  • 1/2-1 cup milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare the oats by microwaving with 1 cup of water in a large mixing bowl for about 4 minutes. Stir, and then microwave 2 more minutes until most of the water is absorbed. Let stand for about 10 minutes to cool off and absorb more water. Microwave 1-2 more minutes if you still have a lot of water in the oat mixture.
  3. Once the oats have cooled off a little, add about 1/2 cup of milk, and all remaining ingredients except the eggs and chocolate chips. Stir to combine.
  4. Beat your eggs into the oat mixture.
  5. Check the consistency. You may need to add more milk if you mixture seems a little dry.
  6. Stir in your chocolate chips.
  7. Using an ice cream/cookie dough scooper, form 1-1 1/2" balls and place on baking sheet with parchment paper (or non-stick baking sheet). Flatten out the balls with a spoon so they form a cookie shape.
  8. Bake 20-22 minutes until the edges turn golden.
http://nicolesnutrition.com/steel-cut-oat-breakfast-cookie/

Tip: If you will not eat these within 2-3 days, make sure to freeze or refrigerate. There are no preservatives, so they will go bad quickly if left out.

healthy oat breakfast cookie

Approx. Nutrition Facts (Recipe makes about 30 cookies; serving is 2 cookies): 159 calories, 6.5 g fat, 21.5 g carbohydrates, 5.5 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 5 g protein; 5% DV iron.