Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Planes, Trains, and Healthy Travel Food

By Take Control Staff

Eating healthy when traveling can be difficult for everyone. There are often unknowns and last minute changes, and we end up making poor choices based on limited options or being in a rush. The best way to avoid those pitfalls is to plan ahead. Planning your travel food can keep you from eating junk food, save you money, and will make travel more convenient.

We’ve put together some ideas to bring along, whether you’re in planes, trains, or automobiles.

Bring Along 

  • Water: Bring an empty water bottle on flights– after you pass security you’re free to fill it up at a drinking fountain or vendor in the terminal. Bring a full water bottle for car rides, trains, etc.
  • Fruit – anything that travels well: apples, bananas, grapes, or dried fruit
  • Pre-made sandwiches
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Seeds and nuts – add a little crunch to your snack
  • Pre-popped popcorn – cook it before you leave and have it ready to eat on the plane
  • Yogurt
  • String cheese
  • Any kind of nut butter – peanut butter, almond butter, etc. You can pre pack it in a smaller container or it buy single serving containers.
  • Pita chips and hummus
  • Pre-cut veggies
  • Energy bars – our health coaches like Lara Bar
  • Naturally sweetened sodas, like LaCroix
  • A cooler if you’re driving, to carry your healthy food
  • Towels or hand wipes to clean up


  • Review your itinerary before you leave, and find out if you have time to eat between flights
  • If you don’t have time to eat between flights, pack some of the bring along items above
  • If you have time to eat in the airport, check the airport web site beforehand and see what restaurant options are there. Check the restaurant menu if it’s posted to plan which healthy items they serve. Look for salads, grilled sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Keep healthy snacks in your carry-on in case your flights change and you don’t have time to eat.

Convenience Stores

  • Check the coolers in the back of the store for yogurt, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, raw carrots and hummus, and vegetable juice.
  • Look for fruit cups, a package of unsalted/ low salt nuts or sunflower seeds, string cheese, jerky, air-popped popcorn, soy crisps, individual box of whole-grain cereal, any fresh fruit or veggies.

Fast Food

Sometimes you get stuck. Look for:

  • Salads, but be careful with the dressing
  • Calorie listings – many fast food places now list calories on the menu – look for items that are 500 calories or less
  • Skip the soda, order water instead
  • If you’re at Subway, get 6” rather than 12” and look for their calorie listings. Use more vegetables and less spreads for toppings
  • Starbucks – they seem to be everywhere, and they have bistro boxes and wraps that are under 500 calories

What are your favorite tricks for healthy eating when you travel? Share in the comments below.

Cauliflower: The Vegetable Hater’s Vegetable

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

For those of you who don’t like vegetables, consider giving cauliflower a chance. Cauliflower can take on the flavor of anything you pair it with, and it can be used in ways where you don’t even know it’s there. Cauliflower is a great source of nutrients, including vitamin C, K, thiamine, fiber, folate, and potassium. Besides the nutrition value, cauliflower adds volume to your meal, which helps you feel full longer. And, it is low in calories.

Cauliflower is trending popular right now, particularly with people who are trying to find ways to lower carbohydrates, increase vegetables, or find healthier alternatives to their favorite recipes. But if you haven’t tried cauliflower besides the usual steamed method, you might be in for a big surprise with what this versatile vegetable can do.

Below are some really great alternatives to preparing cauliflower that may be a great addition to your weekly menu.

  • Riced Cauliflower. This is probably one of my favorite ways to use cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, and put it through your food processor. Different blades make different shapes. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also put the florets into a durable plastic bag and pound it with a mallet. Cook any way you normally cook rice: steam it, boil it, stir-fry it, etc. It takes less time to cook than real rice. Riced cauliflower has a similar texture to real rice, and honestly doesn’t feel like you are missing out. It works great for taco bowls, stir-fry, or fried rice! You can even add riced cauliflower to your oatmeal for added fiber, volume, and veggies with your meal.
  • Mashed Cauliflower. A great alternative to our typical heavy mashed potatoes. Steam the cauliflower with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Once cooked, place in the food processor or blender to create a smooth consistency. Add roasted garlic if that’s how you love your mashed potatoes.
  • Roasted Cauliflower Florets or Cauliflower Steak. Roasting cauliflower creates a different flavor, because it caramelizes. It’s a big improvement from plain old steamed cauliflower. Check out All for a great recipe for roasted cauliflower steaks.
  • In a Smoothie or Soup. You may be thinking, a smoothie? Gross. But honestly, you don’t notice half the things you put in a smoothie when it is paired with sweet fruits and other ingredients like peanut butter. Plus, it adds extra fiber and veggies to your diet without a lot of work. Cook cauliflower the usual ways – steam, boil, microwave, and then add it to a food processor or blender to puree it. You can add pureed cauliflower to soup recipes – for example, add it to a potato soup recipe for thicker, heartier soup.

If you still aren’t convinced about eating cauliflower, then try half and half. Half regular rice and half cauliflower rice. Or half regular mashed potatoes and half mashed cauliflower next time. It makes for an easy compromise, while still adding great nutrients to your dish!

Do you have a favorite cauliflower recipe? Share it in the comments below.

Lighten Up Your Comfort Foods This Winter

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Fall and winter are wonderful seasons, and cooler weather brings out our craving for comfort foods. But comfort foods can be heavy, and combined with our tendency to be less active, the danger arises for winter weight gain.

Instead of giving up your favorite comfort foods, try modifying your traditional recipes to reduce the calories. It’s a great way to still enjoy your favorite foods without risking weight gain. Make some slight alterations to lighten it up and try something new.

Try these six tips to lighten up your current recipes:

  1. Cook broth-based soup instead of cream-based soup. Or substitute broth for part of the cream in certain recipes.
  1. Use pureed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes. This works great on dishes like Shepard’s pie.
  1. Substitute skim or 1% milk in place of whole milk or cream.
  1. Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Great for Mexican dishes, like enchiladas, or tacos. It adds more protein and less fat to the dish.
  1. Add extra veggies to soup and other dishes. Pureed cauliflower in potato soup; diced zucchini, carrots, peppers in chili; add green beans to your stew.
  1. Try pureed veggies to thicken soups instead of heavy cream. Pureed cauliflower in place of heavy cream is one way to thicken a soup and keep it lighter, but still feel hearty.

In you’re not interested in changing your recipe, then simply focus on portion size. Pair your classic dishes with a plate of raw veggies, or start your meals with a side salad. By being mindful of portion size, you can achieve your health goals. Serving size for a casserole or combination dish should be around 1 cup to start. If you are still hungry after having one serving plus veggies, then go back for ½ cup or less. By taking your time, you can really assess your hunger and prevent overeating.

Another way to enjoy comfort foods in the winter is to add one new recipe a month, or every other week, to create more options and ideas. There are a ton of great recipes out there that are both lighter, and comforting.

In addition to altering your old recipes, and trying new recipes, make a commitment to move more! We often let colder weather keep us from being active, so make a plan to stay active. This will help combat winter or holiday weight gain.

Need some meal inspiration or lighter recipes? This article from Cooking Light has some great ideas.

Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here’s why:

  • It influences our body in many ways, both mentally and physically
  • Eating breakfast lowers the stress hormone cortisol
  • The satiating effect of breakfast impacts appetite for the rest of the day (it reduces it)
  • Mental function is improved for people who eat breakfast
  • It provides physical energy to move and exercise

Planning ahead for quick breakfasts will make eating breakfast easier. We’ve put together some ideas using a few kitchen staples to create a variety of options.

Oatmeal – a common kitchen staple, and very versatile. It can be made quickly, and different toppings can change the flavor to fit almost any preference.

Overnight Oats: Also known as Mason jar oats, these fun, portable, recipes are designed to be made the night before, and grab on your way out the door. The basic premise is to mix oats, yogurt, and milk with a variety of toppings. The oats can be eaten cold or warm, at home or at your desk. Here is how to make them.

Crockpot Steel Cut Oats: Set it and forget it! Steel cut oats have great fiber content. They take longer to cook than other types of oats, so cooking them overnight while you sleep is easy and quick. Make the recipe the night before, and wake up to a hearty breakfast. We love this recipe by

Baked Oatmeal Cups: The muffin of the oatmeal world, oatmeal cups are another great option for grab and go. Make a batch Sunday, and you’re set for the week. You can also bake in large batches and freeze. The has a great recipe, and you can make variations on your own with the spices, nuts, seeds, or fresh fruit on top!

Traditional Oatmeal: Cooked in the microwave or on the stove, it doesn’t take long to prepare. It’s also great to keep on hand at work, for a backup breakfast or meal if you forget your lunch. Customize with nuts, spices, fresh fruit, or a mashed banana. If you buy flavored or instant varieties, look for brands that have lower sugar and higher fiber, or add some plain quick oats to the flavored packet to reduce the sugar content.

Eggs – A traditional breakfast food, at about .17 cents per serving, eggs are the least expensive source of high-quality protein. Besides being inexpensive, they are quick to prepare, and the variety of ways to prepare eggs can keep you from getting bored with breakfast. Below are some of the options that make them quick and portable.

Omelet in a Mug: Spray a coffee mug with cooking oil. Whip two eggs in a bowl and pour into the mug. Add your favorite toppings: bell pepper, onion, olives, other veggies, and some cheese. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, and you have a hot, easy breakfast. For even quicker preparation, dice your toppings on Sunday store in the fridge. Besides the mug omelets, you can use the toppings for salads or other recipes during the week.

Egg Muffins: Egg muffins are a make-ahead option that you reheat in the morning. Eat at home, or take with you out the door! We like this recipe from Customize it by using other veggies and your preferred cheese.

Hard boiled: Another make-ahead option, hard-boiled eggs are quick and easy to take with you. Have you ever heard of a hard-boiled egg cooker? Many people swear by them. I recommend taking the time to peel them after you boil them, to save time during the week. Pair with a piece of fruit and some nuts for a well-rounded meal. Hard boiled eggs are also great for a quick snack, or on a salad at lunch.

Traditional/Scrambled: If you have a few minutes in the morning to cook and sit down to eat, that is wonderful. Fried, poached, or scrambled, everyone has their favorite style. Kick it up a notch by adding spinach or other veggies for additional nutrients.

Other – If you’re not an oatmeal or egg person, here is a list of some other simple and easy options.

  • Greek yogurt (single serving container)
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Combine the first three items above for a great well-rounded meal
  • Whole wheat toast with avocado or nut butter
  • Green smoothie

Keep your breakfasts simple – it makes them more manageable, and more likely that you’ll follow through with starting your day on the right foot. Plan ahead (and make-ahead), is one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll have healthy meals ready to go – and that’s the best way to avoid being hungry and stuck in a place with poor options.

Remodeling the Tailgate

By Take Control Staff

Fall is in the air, and for a lot of people, that means football season. With football comes tailgate parties, and the food served at these parties is often the type that doesn’t fit will with your health goals. We’ve put together three suggestions to help stay on track with your goals. These “3 P’s” will show you how to both take part in the fun and still maintain your healthy goals.


If you’re hosting the party, look at your usual menu beforehand. Can you substitute wild game for beef? Grilled chicken for fried? If chips are a mainstay, try swapping the usual suspects for baked versions or vegetable chips. Take advantage of serving local produce widely available in the fall: apples, cantaloupe, and tons of veggies are available, often times fresh from your own garden. Cut up fruit and vegetables ahead of time so you don’t get rushed and settle for less healthy foods.


If you’re attending a party that someone else is hosting, eat a healthy meal before you go. If it’s a potluck, bring a healthy dish that fits your goals. Try the recipes below, or ask your health coach for some great suggestions. You can prepare and bring healthy finger foods to share. Fill up on healthy finger foods to help reduce portions on less healthier items. If you’re hosting, keep in mind that table placement plays a big role in how much we consume. Put fruits and vegetables front and center (and refill often) to increase their consumption. Place higher calorie foods in a more difficult location to naturally curb intake. (Few people want to reach around 5 people to get the Cheetos!) Early fall games can be particularly hot, so be sure to have plenty of liquids on hand, like water, iced tea, or diet soda.


Don’t “save” all of your calories for the game. Start your day off right with a nutritious, filling breakfast. If you are a guest at a tailgate party, step back from the food and look over everything before filling your plate. This will help you to decide what foods you really want to have. Take only those you will enjoy the most, filling your plate just one time. Try half portions or sharing with a friend or family members. Balance is the key. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. All foods can fit into your nutrition plan if you make sensible choices all day long. For tips on how to reduce alcohol consumption, check out our prior post 10 Ways to Reduce Your Alcohol Intake


Boneless Buffalo Wings

Spicy Blue Cheese Dip

  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream                 • 2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar           • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk sour cream, blue cheese, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wings & Vegetables

  • 3 Tbsp. nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)            • 3 Tbsp. hot sauce divided
  • 3 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar, divided       • 2 Lbs. chicken tenders
  • 6 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour                          • 6 Tbsp. cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper                             • 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 2 cups carrot sticks                                     • 2 cups celery sticks

Whisk buttermilk, 2 tbsp. hot sauce, and 2 tbsp. vinegar in a large bowl until combined. Add chicken; toss to coat. Transfer to refrigerator and marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk flour and cornmeal in a shallow dish. Whisk remaining 1 tbsp. hot sauce and 1 tbsp. vinegar in a small bowl; set aside. Remove chicken from marinade and roll in flour mixture until evenly coated. (Discard remaining marinade and flour mixture.) Sprinkle both sides of chicken with 1/2 tsp. cayenne. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half chicken, placing each piece in a little oil. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to serving platter. Repeat with remaining 1 tbsp. oil and chicken, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Transfer to the platter. Drizzle the chicken with the reserved hot sauce mixture. Serve with carrots, celery and Spicy Blue Cheese Dip.

 Nutrition- Serving-2 “wings”, 1/2 cup vegetables & 2 tbsp. dip = 256 Calories; 10 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 83 mg Cholesterol; 12 g Carbohydrates; 31 g Protein; 2 g Fiber; 353 mg Sodium; 248 mg Potassium   (1 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 3 1/2 lean meat)

*Tip-No buttermilk? Make “sour milk”: mix 1 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.

Healthy Camping Meals

By Lindsay Watkins, RD, CLC, Take Control Health Coach

A weekend camping in the great outdoors is a great chance to get moving. Hiking, chopping wood, and even a quick swim can be great ways to stay active. Not only is it good for your body, but being outdoors can relieve stress and give us a much-needed break from technology.

Even though spending time outdoors can improve our health in several ways, it can make it tricky to choose healthy food options when camping. Hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, sugary drinks, candy bars, salami sticks, and chips – all foods that people have been eating on camp trips for generations. These treats taste good, but they also tend to be packed with sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats — ingredients that fall short of fueling us for physical activity, and make us crash later in the day. However, with a little planning and preparation, you can have healthy, delicious camp food that will keep you energized through all your activities.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Before going on your trip, make sure you plan and write down each meal, including snacks. This is very important, because once you hit the road, these choices are final. An organized menu also ensures everyone has enough food. Make sure to also write down and pack the correct cooking tools, plates and utensils, dish soap, paper towels, and cups. It’s usually a good idea to pack more than you think you need, just to make sure you don’t run out.

Pack the cooler with ice packs or large blocks of ice which last longer than smaller cubes. Or try freezing your drinks, which can act as an ice packs before they are consumed. Pack your cooler with harder, sturdier foods on the bottom; and softer, more squishable foods on top. Store non-perishables, even some fruits and veggies (apples, oranges, bananas, carrots) in a box or plastic container so they don’t get smashed.


Depending on your preference, breakfast can be simple or more complicated. Pre-measured bags of rolled oats are a great option, and can be easily cooked on a camp stove. Instead of dousing them in sugar, top with fresh or dried fruit, honey, and a few nuts for protein. Oats and nuts are both great sources of fiber, which will keep you fueled for your morning activities. Whole wheat pancakes (made from a mix to keep it simple) topped with yogurt, fruit, and pure maple syrup are another simple option. Eggs are easy to cook on a camp stove too, and are a great source of protein. Serve with lean turkey or chicken sausage and some chopped vegetables cooked in foil in the fire or on the camp stove. The veggie pack can contain potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, and whatever else you like. Chop and season the veggies, and add a little olive oil before you leave town to keep things easy. For a make-ahead option that doesn’t require any cooking, try overnight oats. In a small mason jar mix together ½ cup old fashioned oats with ½ to ¾ cup milk (depending how thick you like it), 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 2 tsp. honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Top with berries. This serves 1.


It’s best to keep lunch simple and no-cook so you can continue with your daily adventures, whether that’s lying by the lake or climbing the local trails. Whole grain tortillas and pita are great options, which pack easily. Stuff them with nut butters and fruit, hummus and veggies, or tuna. Buy the tuna packed in pouches rather than cans for lighter packing. Snack plates can also work well for lunch – think whole grain crackers like Triscuits, lean deli meat, cheeses, olives, veggies with hummus, and fruit like grapes or apples. Salads are a good option too, but be sure to consume your greens in the first day or so before they spoil.


If you’re out hiking or swimming, you’ll probably want to pack plenty of snacks, especially if you’re camping with kids. Certain fruits and veggies — such as apples, grapes, carrots and celery sticks are easy to pack, and a great way to sneak in some fresh produce. Try trail mix – separate ¼ cup servings into individual bags. Low-fat popcorn can be a good substitute for high calorie chips. Protein and granola bars are also options for easy snacking; just be sure to choose varieties that are low in sugar and preservatives. Or try making your own before you leave. Here are a couple ideas:

Peanut Butter Vanilla Protein Bars

No Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bites

Fruit and Nut Granola Bars



For dinner, try beans, corn, brown rice, salsa, and Mexican spices in whole grain tortillas. Or use whole wheat pita bread to make easy pizzas — just add sauce, cheese, veggie toppings, and toast in a pan over a cook stove until the bread is somewhat crispy and the cheese has melted. For a healthier burger, try lean ground beef or ground turkey with avocado slices on a whole grain bun. Have your burger with some of the veggies from breakfast. You could also pack some premade pasta sauce and have with whole grain pasta and your favorite veggies. Add beans or precooked chicken for protein. Kebabs are another easy and healthy choice. Another option is to make your meals ahead of time. Chili, stew, or soups reheat beautifully. For dessert, try grilled fruit like peaches with a little honey and nuts (Or go ahead: Have a s’more!).

Stay hydrated!

Remember to drink water throughout the day, and it’s a general rule to pack a minimum of 64 oz. per person per day. Check in advance what water sources will be available and whether you’ll have to bring your own.

Sticking with your healthy diet isn’t hard, it just requires a little thought and planning. And you’ll still be able to enjoy the outdoors, fuel your adventures, and stay on track with your diet. You may not be able to predict what the weather will be, but at least you can count on having healthy delicious meals while you’re out in the elements.


Using Costco or Sam’s Club for Healthy Meals and Snacks

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Costco and Sam’s Club are great options for buying food in bulk, especially if you live in a rural area and make fewer trips to the store. Both stores offer a lot of healthy options that can be convenient and easy to integrate into a healthier lifestyle. This includes fresh fruit, veggies, frozen fruit and veggies, and fresh meat. Besides all of those great whole food options, they have many packaged and convenient items that can also fit your goals.

When buying in bulk, look for pre-portioned servings, or plan ahead to take the time to self-portion bulk items. Portion size is often the biggest struggle for many people. If you buy in bulk, it’s important to spend 10 minutes when you get home and portion out foods for the week or the month. This will save you time later on, and will help keep your eating on track. Products that you should portion out include snacks like popcorn, crackers, and nuts.

Items that you can buy pre-portioned include hummus and guacamole. Use as a dip with vegetables, or add to a wrap for great flavor. Since they are pre-portioned, they are quick and convenient. Another healthy pre-portioned product is chicken salad made with Greek yogurt, the brands are listed below. Prepare the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce with vegetables, add to a whole wheat pita, or eat with whole wheat crackers and a side of raw veggies for a quick and easy lunch.

When buying in bulk, and particularly with pre-packaged products, be sure to check labels for sodium content. Especially if you have high blood pressure. Watch the sodium in cured or packaged meats. How do you know if it has too much sodium? A good rule of thumb is to look for something with less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. And think about how you’re combining your ingredients — if you add another packaged component to your meal, then the overall sodium may really increase. Consider adding fresh vegetables in place of another packaged item. For example, Aidell’s chicken sausage is great with a side of steamed vegetables, or on top of a salad. Jerky can be a great on-the-go snack, but ingredients matter. The brands I’ve listed below use less preservatives and better ingredients overall. Yes, they still contain sodium, so balance it by including lots of fresh foods, and stay hydrated with adequate water.

When shopping in any grocery store, it is always important to compare products. Some labels look “healthier” than a similar product, but may in fact have more sugar or sodium. Take a minute to compare similar product nutrition facts, and review the ingredients. For example, when I was at Sam’s Club, I compared two brands of squeeze fruit and veggie packs: Gogo brand and Purify brand. Purify brand had a lot more claims on the label, making you think it was the healthier option, but in fact it had a lot more sugar. So the better option is sometimes the one you don’t expect. Other foods that you would want to compare include granola bars, snack bars, cereal, and any snack food. Below I’ve listed several good products to help guide you through the endless options.

Here is a list of products that can be found at each store to help make eating healthier an easier process:

Sam’s Club

Freezer Section
Member’s Mark Alaskan Salmon Burgers
Mahi Burgers
Gardenburger Malibu Vegan Burger
Morningstar Black Bean Burger

Dry Goods
Planters Single Serve Heart Healthy Nut Mix
Member’s Mark Freeze Dried Sliced Fruit
True North Almond Pecan Cashew Clusters
Natural Oberto Beef Jerky
Epic Chicken Bites
Good Health Veggie Pretzels
Harvest Snaps – Baked Snap Peas
Creative Snack Company Coconut Bites
Skinny Pop Popcorn
Popchips – Ridges Asiago and Black Pepper
Crunchmaster Multi-Grain 5 Seed Cracker
Annie’s Popcorn
Nature’s Bakery Honey and Oat Soft Baked Bar
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar
Gogo Squeeze Fruit and Veggie On The Go Packs
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
Member’s Mark Almond Butter
Dave’s Killer Bread

Sargento Balanced Breaks
Sabra Hummus – Singles or Bulk
Yucatan Single Serve Guacamole
Chef Earl’s Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Babybel Cheese
Dietz and Watson Natural Turkey Breast


Freezer Section
Outshine Fruit Bars
Trident Alaskan Salmon Burgers
Trident Pollock Burgers
Morningstar Veggie Burgers
Hillshire Farm Naturals Deli Turkey
Kirkland Plain Greek Yogurt

Dry Goods
Bare Apple Chips
Kirkland Unsweetened Almond Milk
Stretch Island Fruit Strips
Golden Island Natural Jerky
Crunchy Rice Rollers
Vega Protein Powder
Kind Bars
Caveman Nutrition Bars
Kashi Chewy Granola Bars – Chocolate Almond Sea Salt
Premier Protein
Nature’s Path Chia Seeds
Premium Gold Milled Flaxseed
Hemp Hearts
Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice
Nature’s Path Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola
Kirkland Ancient Grains Granola with Almonds
Mary’s Gone Crackers
RW Garcia Sweet Potato Crackers
Love Crunch Dark Chocolate and Red Berries Granola
Tasty Bite Brown Rice and Lentils
Tasty Bite Madras Lentils
Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Mix
Kirkland Almond Butter
PB Fit
Adams Natural Peanut Butter

Rotisserie Chicken Pieces
Good Foods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Good Foods Single Portion Guacamole
Kirkland Hummus Cups
True Story Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
Amylu Kale and Mozzarella Chicken Burgers
Aidell’s Chicken Meatballs
Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages
Teton Waters Grass-fed Beef Polish Sausages
Columbus Meats Smoked Ham and Turkey Breast
Love Beats Cooked Beets
Organic Hope Hummus


Sneaking In Veggies

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Many people don’t love vegetables. Of course we’d love it if everyone wanted to eat vegetables, but it’s hard to change your lifestyle for the long term if you’re doing things you don’t like. As health coaches and dietitians, we often encounter clients who are afraid that we are going to tell them they have to eat vegetables. We try to help people make small changes that are sustainable, and that don’t feel like punishment. There is no reason to force yourself to eat food you hate for a short while – because in the long term, you’ll just give up on the journey.

In order to help you find long-term solutions that you can stick with, we’ve put together some ideas to sneak vegetables into your meals, in ways that may work for you.

  • Smoothies. Add spinach, kale, zucchini, cucumber, beets, or any other vegetable to your smoothie. Pair with fruit, and you’ll have a hard time noticing the vegetables. A good combination is banana, berries, and spinach. For more smoothie recipes, check out our previous post “How to Build a Better Smoothie”.
  • Oatmeal. Add shredded zucchini or carrots to oatmeal. Zucchini works well because it is very mild in flavor and hard to notice. It also adds a lot of volume to food for little calories. Try shredded zucchini or carrots, walnuts, and cinnamon. Cauliflower crumbles is another option for volume and extra fiber.
  • Sauces. Add pureed vegetables to sauces, and you’ll never know they’re in there. For example, here is a great recipe on Food Network where butternut squash is added to macaroni and cheese.  You can add pureed squash, beets, or peppers to spaghetti sauce. Pureed cauliflower in a light Alfredo sauce works well. Add shredded vegetables for even more substance. Since these sauces already have strong flavor, you don’t notice the vegetables but still get the benefit.
  • Roasting. Sometimes something as simple as cooking vegetables a new way changes how you feel about them. Roasting vegetables is a fantastic way to start. Roasted vegetables taste quite a bit different from raw or steamed. This article from has great information about how to roast vegetables, including a chart of roasting times.
  • Mashed or “Riced”. One of the new crazes in cooking is mashing and ricing vegetables. Cauliflower is a favorite for ricing. Cut a head of cauliflower into small pieces and run it through your food processor. Then just heat it on the stop in a wok or frying pan. When you add sauces and seasonings, it closely mimics white rice. You can also add riced cauliflower to mashed potatoes – it creates more volume, and reduces the overall calories. Mashed sweet potatoes are delicious, and as mentioned above, mashed butternut squash can be added to macaroni and cheese, or other dishes.
  • Soup. Adding vegetables to soups is a great way to increase your vegetable intake. You can keep frozen vegetables in the freezer and add to canned or homemade soups when you heat them. Using vegetables in soups can completely change the taste of the vegetables. As they cook, they take on the flavor of the seasonings in the soup. Butternut squash soup with Indian spices is a great example. Mushroom soup, tomato soup, cauliflower soup – there is a soup for almost every vegetable. Vegetable soup combines many. Find some recipes that sound great and make a batch for lunches during the work week.
  • Seasonings and Spices. Experiment with different seasonings and spices to give your vegetables a new twist. Try citrus, such as lemon, orange or lime zest. Here is a great chart from for suggestions for each vegetable. Spices, herbs, and seasonings can make a huge difference in how vegetables taste.
  • Give it Another Chance. Be open to trying vegetables that you haven’t had since you were a kid. Taste buds change over time, in fact we lose taste buds, so our taste preferences also change. Things that once tasted bitter or bad may now taste great. When you give vegetables a second chance, you can discover more options, or you can confirm that you still in fact do not enjoy that vegetable.
  • Be Adventurous. Challenge yourself to try new vegetables. When you’re in the grocery store, buy something you haven’t had before. Look up a recipe or preparation method, and give it a try. You might be surprised by the options and foods you may not have known you liked.

In the end, stick with vegetables you enjoy, make them your staples. But keep these ideas in mind as a way to expand your vegetable intake. Your good health is not defined by how much kale you eat! Make good choices, but make sure they are choices that work for the long term to help you reach your health and wellness goals.

How to Build a Better Smoothie

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

It seems obvious, right? Put everything in a blender and turn it on? Yes, to an extent, but the order you place your ingredients in the blender, and the amount of each ingredient you use can make a big difference in texture and overall success.

One common mistake is to place all the frozen ingredients at the bottom, in direct contact with the blender blades. This often makes it much harder for your blender to work efficiently and effectively.

The ingredients you use can also impact the quality, taste, and nutrition of your smoothie. Below are some tips to build a better smoothie – one that is healthier, and has the right texture.

Step 1: Liquids

Always place your liquids closest to the blade. If you’re using a traditional blender, they will go in first. If you use a magic bullet, they will go in last. (Jump to Step 6 and work this list backwards.)

Liquid options: Water, coconut water, milk, almond milk, soy milk, or another milk alternative. You can use juice, but use it in small amounts or simply let the sweetness come from actual fruit. One fruit juice I do like to use is fresh squeezed lemon, it can add a tart and bright flavor to a smoothie.

Step 2: Powder and Spices (Optional)

If you like powders such as protein powder or greens powder, now is the time to add these. They are optional, but if you have a protein powder you like, it often adds extra sweetness, and you can skip honey or other additional sweeteners. Spices can be a fun way to add different flavors. Try cinnamon or turmeric.

Step 3: Yogurt, Nut Butter, or Sweeteners

Plain or Greek yogurt is a great way to add protein and creaminess to a smoothie. You can also try cottage cheese, which is also high in protein. Nut butters, like almond, cashew or peanut, will add a little protein and healthy fat. They also add great flavor, especially if you like combinations such as peanut butter and banana.

Step 4: Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, and Greens

Step four is your chance to get creative with fruits and vegetables. Use some of the leftover fresh fruit and vegetables in your fridge. If you are new to smoothies, start simple. Try spinach and bananas — an easy go-to for smoothies.

Step 5: Frozen Fruit or Vegetables
Frozen fruit helps thicken your smoothie, and really gives it the right texture. If you don’t have frozen fruit on hand, use extra ice cubes to create a smoothie consistency. Frozen fruit is also a great way to create more flavor options, especially when fruits like berries aren’t in season. Frozen fruit is easy to make when you have bananas or other fruit that is ripe but you don’t have time to use it. Cut up bananas or other fruit into slices, place in a freezer bag, and freeze. Because they are pre-sliced, you can use a few pieces when needed, or when you don’t have a fresh banana handy.

Step 6: Additional Ice

If you’re using all fresh fruits and vegetables, add additional ice to create a good smoothie texture. Ultimately, you want the ice and frozen components furthest away from the blade. This allows the blender to be primed from the liquid and creates a smoother consistency without interfering with the blade.

Once you have the order and the steps in place, making the perfect smoothie is easy, and a great addition to your weekly routine. The key to keeping it healthy is to be mindful of your ingredients. With the wrong ingredients, smoothies, like salads, can easily go from healthy to a calorie bomb. So be precise in how you add ingredients, and how much you use by carefully measuring items such as nut butter and other high-calorie ingredients.

Need recipe ideas? The following recipes might help inspire your next smoothie. You can add veggies to any of these recipes to increase your vegetable intake and boost the nutrients. You can also omit honey or added sweetener. If you choose to add sweeteners, be mindful of the amount.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond, soy, cashew, or coconut milk
1–3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
1 frozen or fresh banana
Ice cubes if using a fresh banana, start with 6-8 and adjust as needed

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond, soy, cashew, or coconut milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
1 frozen or fresh banana
1/2 cup frozen strawberries

Creamy Orange Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond, soy, cashew, or coconut milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
1 orange, peeled or 2 clementine’s, peeled
1 frozen or fresh banana
Ice cubes if using a fresh banana, start with 6-8 and adjust as needed

Green Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened almond, soy, cashew, or coconut milk
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
1 cup greens (baby spinach or kale without the stem)
1 frozen or fresh banana
Ice cubes if using a fresh banana, start with 6-8 and adjust as needed


Do you have a smoothie recipe you love? Share it in the comments below!

Do Detox Diets Work?

By Lindsay Watkins, RD, CLC, Take Control Health Coach


This time of year, I’m sure you’ve been hearing about friends or family who are doing a cleanse or detox diet. Here’s a run-down of a few of the most popular ones and a dietitian’s take on whether they are healthy or worth it.

 Isagenix 9 day Deep Cleansing and Fat Burning System

Claims – Accelerated weight loss and cleansing. Average weight loss of 7 lbs. in 9 days.  You may experience: greater energy, weight loss boost, improved muscle tone, balanced digestion, and reduced cravings.

What it entails – Two “Cleanse days” which consists of supplements and very few calories. This is followed by 5 “Shake Days” where you consume 2 protein shakes and 1, 400-600 calorie meal in addition to a variety of supplements. You finish the program with 2 more “Cleanse Days.” A 9-day supply is costs ~$200

Dietitian’s Take – You will probably lose weight on this cleanse. It is low calorie and low carb. Your body holds on to 3 grams of water for every 1 gram of carbohydrate you eat so as you eat less carbs your body will get rid of excess water. You may also lose a couple pounds from the calorie restriction.

Bottom Line – Save your money, you’ll probably gain the weight back as your return to your regular diet.


Juice Cleanse

Claims – Jump start your weight loss, increase energy, decrease your appetite, heal your gut, and detox your liver.

What it entails – Consuming only fruit and vegetable juice for anywhere from 3-5 days, sometimes longer.

Dietitian’s Take – You will probably lose some weight on a juice cleanse, and you may feel good and less bloated once you complete it. However, there is no protein or fat on a juice cleanse, and can therefore be dangerous – especially if done for longer than 3-5 days. You also may feel dizzy, have low energy, and have blood sugar spikes from the high sugar juices.

Bottom Line: Skip juice cleanses but feel free to incorporate fresh fruit and veggie juices into your healthy diet a few times a week if you enjoy them.


Whole 30

Claims – Eliminating certain foods from your diet will give you more energy, help you lose weight, and cure just about any ailment – digestive issues, aches and pains, fertility issues, and more.

What it entails – Avoiding processed foods, legumes, grains, sugar, and alcohol. You’ll eat fresh fruits and veggies, meats, seafood, healthy oils, potatoes, nuts, clarified butter, and vinegar.

Dietitian’s Take – The great thing about this plan is that it emphasizes real foods and avoids sugar and processed foods. It does eliminate complete food groups like dairy, whole grains, and legumes, but overall it’s a balanced clean plan with plenty of calories.

Bottom Line:  Most people lose weight during the 30 days and report feeling better, though I’m not convinced it will cure infertility or your bad back. Give it a try if you’re looking to eliminate sugar and processed foods from your diet.


How the Body Naturally Detoxifies

Your body doesn’t need a strict diet or a slew of supplements to remove toxins. Detoxification is a process that the body performs around the clock using nutrients from the diet. The liver, kidneys, intestines, and even the skin are involved in the detoxing process. While a juice cleanse or expensive cocktail of supplements won’t rid your body of all its toxins, there are things you can do to support your body’s natural detoxification process.

Ways to Support Your Body’s Natural Detoxification Process

  • Drink plenty of plain clean water.
  • Eat five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Consume enough fiber each day from vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
  • Eat cruciferous vegetables, berries, artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, turmeric and milk thistle, and drink green tea. These foods support detoxification pathways.
  • Consume adequate protein, which is critical to maintaining optimum levels of glutathione, the body’s master detoxification enzyme.
  • Eat naturally fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut — or take a probiotic — to help the body manage toxins from microbes that live in the gut.
  • Maintain bowel regularity.