Barbecue with delicious grilled meat on grill BBQ

Guest Post: Grilling with Tayla Lambright

Today’s guest post is written by Tayla Lambright, the Cache County Food $ense supervisor. She will be talking about summer food safety. Enjoy!


This time of year is a perfect time to bring out your grills and have a barbecue! It’s also a great time to brush up on safe food practices when we’re cooking outside. It’s important to keep our food safe so we don’t get anyone sick from a food-borne illness. Each year, one in SIX Americans get sick from food borne illnesses and 128,000 of them require hospitalization. Food-borne illnesses are tough on our bodies. They induce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, a fever, and have an array of other unpleasant side effects. That doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend your vacation!

Follow these tips and you will decrease the likelihood of getting you or anyone you serve sick=

  1. Keep everything clean –

Especially when you’re not in your home kitchen, it’s important to keep everything from your hands, cutting boards, utensils, and produce clean. Try to wash and sanitize everything before leaving the house and rinse it off under warm water again before cooking. It’s recommended that we wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap under warm running water. Don’t want to count to 20? – then just sing the alphabet song to make sure you’ve washed long enough.

  1. Separate –

Avoid cross contamination by using different cutting boards for raw meat and fresh produce. Avoiding cross contamination also includes your hands and any other utensil that may come in contact with the raw meat – make sure to wash it thoroughly before touching anything that will be served fresh.

  1. Cook to safe temperatures –

This is especially important when cooking meat to make sure it has been heated to a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria. Don’t forget to check the internal temperatures in the thickest part of the meat after cooking. This ensures that the entire cut was cooked to a safe temperature.

Here are a couple temperatures to remember :

USDA Temps

  1. When in doubt – throw it out!

Avoid leaving food out for longer than 1 hour outside and 2 hours inside. Leaving it out in the heat will increase the likelihood of it developing harmful toxins that produce food-borne illnesses. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

During these last few months of warm weather enjoy safe barbecues and outdoor meals. Here are some of my favorite grilled fruit and vegetable recipes.  Click the recipe cards for a printable version.

Grilled or Broiled Pineapple Zucchini Corn Salad

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant 
Food $ense Supervisor

Blueberry Smoothie with Honey Pecan Granola

Thick, creamy, and cold. This smoothie is the perfect summer treat or breakfast eat. Top it with crunchy granola, grab a spoon, and eat up!


Today, we are talking smoothies! During the summer months, smoothies make the perfect go-to meal. They are quick and easy, keep your kitchen cool, and can be packed with healthy ingredients like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein. They also make just the right amount when cooking for one or two. My favorite smoothie combines blueberries, pineapple, and yogurt into a thick and tasty drink.


The base of this smoothie consists of frozen blueberries and pineapple chunks. Blueberries are in season right now, so buy a bunch and freeze some for future smoothie making!

Begin this recipe by combining 1 cup of frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks, 1 cup of Light Vanilla Soy Milk (or any other milk), 1 tablespoon frozen lemonade concentrate, and 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt in a blender. The recipe card says that honey can be added, but I think this recipe is perfectly sweet without. Blend ingredients together until thick and smooth.


I wanted to add some healthy whole grains to my breakfast smoothie, so I whipped up a batch of Honey Pecan Granola. This granola recipe is made with ingredients that you most likely have on hand like rolled oats, chopped nuts, and honey. Make a big batch and store it in the freezer so that it lasts longer. Try it on top of smoothies, yogurt parfaits, in a trail mix, or with milk as cereal.

If you don’t have everything to make this Blueberry Smoothie, that’s okay! At Food $ense, we like to show you ways that you can make meals, like this smoothie, with the ingredients you already have. Look at the template below for the steps that you can take to customize a smoothie of your own.

Create a Smoothie

Here are the two recipe cards. Click on the photos for a printable version. Enjoy!

Blueberry Smoothie Honey Pecan Granola

Comment below with your favorite smoothie ingredients!

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Mixed rice in a bowl. Close-up.

Going Grain

Grains are one of the 5 food groups found on MyPlate. They are an important part of a healthy diet and provide our bodies with the energy and nutrients we need to thrive. Let’s take a deeper look into the grains group today!


Grains-What Are They?

Grains are common foods that we typically include in most of our meals. Examples include cereals, breads, pastas, rice, popcorn, and products made with flour. Grains are broken into two groups- refined grains and whole grains.

Refined Grains

These grains have been through a process called milling. This process removes the bran and the germ of the grain. This gives the grain a white color and smoother texture. Examples of refined grains include white flour, white bread, some cereals, and white rice.

Whole GrainsBreakfast Cereal 2

Whole grains have not been through the milling process and still have the bran and germ intact. The bran and germ
provide a lot of nutrients that make our whole grains so healthy including fiber and B-vitamins. Brown rice, 100% whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat flour, and rolled oats are examples of whole grains.

Increasing Whole Grains

MyPlate recommends that we try and make half of our grains “whole grains”! Here are some tips for including more whole grains in your day.


  • Try oatmeal with fresh fruit
  • Swap white bread for 100% whole-wheat bread topped with peanut butter
  • Make a breakfast burrito using a whole-wheat tortilla
  • Substitute whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour in pancakes
  • Search the shelves for whole grain cereals. Most cereals are made with whole grains today!


  • Make your sandwich on 100% whole-wheat bread
  • Make a small bowl of pasta using whole-wheat noodles
  • Top brown rice with black beans, salsa, and cheese
  • Pack a stir fry with leftover veggies, chicken, and quinoa
  • Serve salads with homemade whole-wheat croutons
  • Make enchiladas with whole-wheat tortillas
  • Include brown rice or whole grain noodles in casseroles and soups


  • Snack on air-popped popcorn. Just don’t overdo the salt and butter.
  • Make a whole grain trail mix. Include whole wheat cereals, popcorn, nuts, and dried fruit.
  • Make a yogurt parfait with homemade granola and fresh fruit
  • Try your hand at homemade granola bars!

Meal Prep:

  • Whip up a batch of homemade granola or homemade granola bars to grab for quick snacks all week
  • Prep whole grain trail mix with whole grain cereals, popcorn, nuts, and dried fruit. Package it into single portions to take with lunch.
  • Make extra brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat noodles to keep on hand for easy leftovers. Brown rice and quinoa can also be frozen in one or two serving freezer bags. Just thaw when you are ready to use.
  • Prepare instant oatmeal packs. This link shows you how:

I love this fruit and quinoa salad recipe. It is light, refreshing, and perfect for summer. This recipe would make a great side dish to serve with grilled chicken! Click on the recipe below for a printable version. Enjoy!


Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant


Banana Oatmeal Trail Mix Cookies

These trail mix cookies take no time to whip up and are perfect for breakfasts and snacks on the go. Ingredients like banana, pecans, and cranberries are used to satisfy your sweet tooth while providing healthy energy for your busy life.


Cookies are a regular treat in many homes. While they taste great, they may not always provide the best nutrition for our bodies. Most cookies are loaded with white flour, sugar, butter, and oil. We can easily make a healthier cookie by replacing those ingredients with simple foods you already have at home.

Sweet Swaps:

  • Substitute banana for butter or oil. This switch will cut calories and the banana provides additional vitamins and minerals.
  • Swap white flour for oatmeal. Oats are a whole grain and contain more fiber than white flour. This fiber keeps our bowels healthy and helps us feel full for longer.
  • Cut down on added sugar by sweetening your cookies with cinnamon, vanilla, applesauce, and banana. These ingredients give cookies a sweet flavor without all that sugar.
  • Choose healthier goodies like pecans, sunflower seeds, and cranberries over chocolate chips. The nuts provide healthy fats that our body needs.


Begin these cookies by gathering up your ingredients. You will need 3 mashed bananas, 1/3 cup applesauce, 2 cups uncooked, quick cooking oats, 1/4 cup skim milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp sugar. This is the base for the cookies. You can then choose whatever add-ins you would like. I chose to make these cookies with craisins, pecans, and sunflower seeds.


  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Almond Extract


Use a fork to mash your bananas until they are smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir until a dough forms. This dough will be slightly sticky.


Roll cookie dough into balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Feel free to try the cookie dough- it’s eggless! Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes on 350 degrees F. My oven seems to cook very quickly, so it took me just about 10 minutes.


Place cookies on a baking rack to cool before enjoying! These make such a great breakfast and easy snack on the go. The cookies can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days or frozen in a freezer bag. I typically freeze the cookies so that I always have them on hand. Let your cookie sit at room temperature for a couple of minutes before eating.

Here is the recipe! Click on the image for a printable version.

Trail Mix Cookies

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Berry Kabobs

4th of July Menu Planning

Happy 4th of July weekend! We are getting the festivities kicked off with a menu plan perfect for a backyard BBQ, picnic, or dinner for 2.

Backyard BBQ

Holidays have a way of throwing off our weekly menu plans. I always seem to forget to add those extra ingredients to my shopping list. This means I have to go back to the store which can make for an expensive week. I have put together an easy 4th of July menu plan that isn’t going to break the budget. Choose a few of these recipes below to cook up for your extra special holiday weekend.

 Main Dishes:

Chicken is a budget-friendly meat for your 4th of July BBQ. If you have a  grill available, try making kabobs. They are fun and festive. Get creative by adding your favorite fruits and veggies. Below is a recipe for pineapple chicken kabobs. This recipe is so easy to throw together and would be perfect with a few simple side dishes. If you don’t have a grill handy, try making BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are nutrient rich and are perfect when cooking for one or two. Just roast ro microwave a couple of potatoes and stuff them with delicious BBQ chicken. Yum!

Ari’s Menu- BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Julie’s Eats and Treats- Pineapple Chicken Kabobs

Side Dishes:

Pick a couple of side dishes to round out your meal. I thought these side dishes were super fun and festive!

Living Locurto- American Flag Veggie Tray with Dill Dip
Two Peas and Their Pod- Strawberry Jicama Salad
Two Peas and Their Pod- Strawberry Jicama Salad




Make a healthy patriotic dessert by using a mix of red, white, and blue fruit. Here are a few to try.

BerryCrisp BerryFruitSalad RhubarbStrawberryCrumble

Berry Kabobs
Family Circle- Berry Kabobs
Very Culinary- Red, White, and Blue Smoothie
Heather's French Press- Triple Berry Banana Bread
Heather’s French Press- Triple Berry Banana Bread

Green Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Mixed greens are tossed with raspberries, peach slices, and avocado and then drizzled with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette to transform a simple green salad into a summer staple. You will love all of the freshness and flavor this salad has to offer.


I am a sucker for salads. Truly….you can find me throwing a mix of ingredients together for a lunchtime salad almost any day of the week. Somedays I top my salads with leftovers from the night before and other days I just toss on a mix of whole grains and lean proteins that I find in my cupboards and refrigerator. The sky is the limit when it comes to making a successful salad.

On occasion, I get fancy with my salads and put together a pretty salad like the one we are making today. The ingredients are light, refreshing, and can mostly be found at your local farmers’ market. I know that ripe raspberries and salad greens are a highlight right now at the Cache Valley Gardeners’ Market and later this summer, peaches will be found everywhere.


Prepare your ingredients- wash your raspberries, slice your peach, and dice your avocado and red onion. I substituted red onion for sliced almonds because that is what I had on hand. The beauty of salad making is that you can swap ingredients and use what you already have in your kitchen. Feel free to make this recipe your own!


The next step is to make your dressing. Just toss the dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Isn’t the color of this dressing amazing! Making your own simple vinaigrette is healthier and more cost efficient than buying a store-bought dressing.


Now, just put the ingredients on top of mixed salad greens. I used a mix of spinach and kale that I found at the farmers’ market.


The final step is to dress the salad. Pour 1/2-3/4 of the dressing onto the salad and stir the salad to evenly coat. I like to save a little dressing so that I can pour extra on when I am ready to eat it. Click on the recipe below for a printable version.


When cooking for one or two, salads can be an excellent addition to any menu plan. They are a great way to use up extra produce and spice up leftovers in a new and exciting way. I made this salad to eat with leftover grilled chicken and rolls. It made for a balanced, quick weeknight meal and was a delicious new way to finish up our leftovers. It might be a good idea to make 1/2 of this recipe if you are cooking for a small family. Be sure to keep the dressing separate if you will have leftovers and pour it on when you are just about to eat it to keep the salad as fresh as possible.

This is just one example of an endless list of salads. Try making your own salad using our Create a Salad Formula found below. Click on the image for a printable version.

Create a salad-page-001

Collection of beans

Plant Powered Protein Sources

In a meat-centered world, it can be difficult to pass on the hamburgers and opt for nutritious plant-based sources of protein. Today, we are moving beyond meat to take a look at 6 plant based sources of protein and how to include them as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Protein- What is it and why do we need it?

Proteins are made up of smaller particles called amino acids. There are 9 specific amino acids that we need to get from the foods that we eat. These are called essential amino acids. Each amino acid plays a different role in our body, but proteins in general can be considered building blocks. Protein works to build up our muscles, bones, cartilage and plays an important role with enzymes and hormones. It is also one of our macronutrients (along with fat and carbohydrates). This means that protein provides our body with calories which are used as energy to keep our body going.

How much do we need?

There are a couple of different ways to determine the amount of protein that we need each day.

1. One of the most recognized ways to determine protein needs is based off of daily recommended intake (DRI). The DRI for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.

1. Find your weight in kilograms by dividing your body weight in pounds by 2.2

(Ex: 175pounds / 2.2 = 79.5kg)

2. Multiply weight in kilograms by 0.8

(Ex: 79.5kg x 0.8 = 63.6g Protein per day)

This example person would need about 65 grams of protein per day.

There is also a handy DRI calculator that can be found here. 

2. You can also use this sheet from MyPlate to determine how many servings of protein foods you should be eating each day. These are general recommendations, and your protein needs may be higher or lower depending on a number of factors. If you would like individualized recommendations, go see your local registered dietitian.

More than Meat-

While animal sources of protein like chicken, beef, and pork provide health benefits and can be included in a healthy diet, they are typically higher in saturated fat which has been shown to play a role in some chronic diseases like heart disease. For those who are trying to limit saturated fat or who don’t eat meat, plant based sources of protein can be a very healthy option. Let’s look at 6 plant based sources of protein that we should be including in our diet.

1. Beansblack beans

You’ve probably heard it before, but beans are a great source of protein with one cup of black beans providing 12 grams of protein. Along with protein, beans also contain fiber and folate. Beans can be purchased canned or dried. While canned beans are more expensive, they are quick and convenient- just be sure to rinse them in running water to remove some of the sodium that they come packed in. Dried beans are delicious and are actually really simple to prepare. This handout provides a recipe for cooking dried beans.

2. Green Peas

Green peas are in the legume family along with beans and peanuts. One cup of these little green peas provides 9 grams of protein. Peas are versatile and can be used in dips, pestos, side dishes, and salads. This guacamole recipe replaces half of the avocado with green peas for an extra punch of protein. Try it with carrot chips for a healthy snack.

3. Quinoa

It seems that everyone is talking about quinoa these days. This whole grain is unique because it provides all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need, making it a complete protein. Most plant based sources don’t provide all 9 amino acids and are therefore considered incomplete proteins. This isn’t a problem because incomplete proteins can be paired together to form complete proteins. An example could be rice and beans. The rice provides some of the essential amino acids while the beans provide the rest. This food combo makes a complete protein. One cup of quinoa provides 8 grams of protein. Use this whole grain in soups, chills, salads, and breakfast porridges.

4. Nuts, Nut Butters, and SeedsRaw almonds spilling out of small glass bowl

Nuts and seeds are not only high in protein, but they also provide our body with healthy fats. Because nuts and seeds are high in fat and calories, we need to be sure we are watching portion sizes. One serving (2 tablespoons) of peanut butter provides 8 grams of protein, one ounce of pistachios provides 6 grams of protein, and 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds provides 8 grams of protein. Chia seeds are another seed that is high in protein with 2 tablespoons providing 5 grams of protein.

5. Tofu and Tempeh

These are two of the most popular vegetarian sources of protein. Just 1/2 cup of tofu provides 12 grams of protein and 1/2 cup of tempeh provides 15 grams of protein. Both of these proteins are simple to cook and take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with. While these plant based protein sources are more expensive than some others, they tend to cost less than meat, so go ahead and give it a try.

6. Edamameedamame

Edamame are soybeans. They are typically purchased frozen and then steamed before eating. They look a lot like a green bean, but you don’t want to eat their pod. Pop the pod open and enjoy the soybeans inside. One cup of edamame proves 17 grams of protein!

MyPlate has some more great resources on plant based eating and tips for vegetarians. Check out this website for additional information.

10 tips- vegetarian

Question: What are your favorite plant powered protein sources?

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Margherita Pizza

Margherita Pizza with Two Ingredient Crust

This simple pizza is bursting at the seams with flavor! Roma tomatoes, mozzarella slices, and fresh basil sit atop a healthier Greek yogurt crust.


It’s Friday and we are having pizza night at our house! This Margherita Pizza is one of my all-time favorite homemade pizza recipes to bake. The two (or three!)-ingredient crust is so easy to make- just throw the ingredients in a bowl and mix. I also love the simple tomato topping. During the summer months, you can find me throwing extra veggies onto every meal. Our pizza tonight is loaded with tomatoes and fresh basil which can be picked straight from your summer garden!


Start with your pizza crust! Like the name says, this crust only calls for 2 or 3 ingredients. Mix together 1 cup of self-rising* flour and 1 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt. If you would like to get really fancy, you can add 1 tablespoon of seasoning. I used Italian seasoning for our pizza today!

*Don’t worry if you don’t have self-rising flour. You can make your own with 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.


Mix your pizza crust ingredients in a medium bowl until they form a ball. After mixing for a bit, I like to dump my ball out on a floured surface to continue mixing the remaining flour in. If the dough feels very sticky, add a little more flour until the dough rolls easily without sticking.


Spray pizza pan with non-stick spray and place the pizza dough in the center of the pan. Work the dough out to the edges from the center by pressing down with your palms and fingertips until the dough has spread out.

I doubled the recipe to make a full size pizza. If you love pizza and would like leftovers, I would recommend doubling the recipe. One single recipe makes enough pizza for 2 people and a doubled recipe makes enough pizza for 2 people plus leftovers!

DSC_4189 DSC_4197

Set the pizza crust aside; thinly slice the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Place the diced tomatoes in a bowl and combine with salt and olive oil.


Top the pizza crust with mozzarella cheese slices and then spread tomato mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.


Top pizza with fresh basil leaves. The heat from the pizza will soften and almost melt the basil leaves into the pizza. Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes, slice, and enjoy! Serve with a fruit salad to make this MyPlate approved.

Here is the recipe below. Click on the recipe card for a printable version.

Margherita Pizza with Two ingredient crust

Couple tasting a meal in a boiler

June Menu Planning

Senior Couple Exercising In ParkJune has arrived and the busyness that summer brings is here to stay. I know that these next couple of months are usually jam-packed as I try to soak up as much summer as possible before it is gone. During these months, menu planning can feel a bit hectic. To make it a little easier, I start by planning out the upcoming week. I include any events that might interfere with my normal meal planning. This helps me know what nights I need to cook and what nights are birthday parties, BBQs, family gatherings, etc. I can also use this to remember to buy ingredients for any dishes I am responsible to bring to these events. This means I only grocery shop once a week which saves me time and money!

Let’s get right to this week’s menu plan. I decided that I wanted to build my menu plan around a roasted chicken. I love roasting a whole chicken because it is economical and can be used in so many different ways. I am planning on having my roast chicken meal with steamed broccoli and brown rice the first night. I then use the chicken to make chicken salad sandwiches, quesadillas, and roasted chicken salads. Once my meal plan is ready, I am all set to make a grocery list and stock my kitchen with healthy foods.

Click on the menu plan and the recipe cards for a printable version!

WEEKLY MENU- June 8-14-page-001 Banana Pancakes Breakfast potato skillet Clementine Poppy Seed Muffins Philly Style Wraps Roasted Chicken Skillet Penne with Veggies Chicken salad sandwich

Now, I want to hear your thoughts!

What do you guys think of this series? Is it helpful to see how to begin menu planning and to have sample menu plans to get your month off to a healthy start? Let me know in the comments below!

Click here for May’s menu plan if you need to get caught up.

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant


Whole-Wheat Rhubarb Muffins

It’s rhubarb season in Cache Valley and there is no better way to celebrate than with a delicious rhubarb recipe. You are going to love these muffins because they are incredibly easy to make and are jam-packed with good-for-you ingredients like whole wheat flour and rhubarb <– which is a vegetable, by the way!


This soft and moist muffin recipe begins with a few basic ingredients that you most likely have in your stocked pantry. Add fresh rhubarb, you’ve got a delicious muffin recipe that is healthy enough to eat for breakfast and tasty enough to eat as a treat. Let’s get baking!


Begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Line your muffin tin with liners and spray with non-stick spray. If you don’t have muffin liners on hand, just spray your muffin pan with a liberal coating of non-stick spray.


At this point, you’ve got a choice to make. When we make this recipe for Food $ense classes, we typically use a mix of whole wheat and white flours. If you would like to use all whole-wheat flour for a more fiber-filled muffin, go for it! Whole wheat flour can sometimes make a muffin dense, but this muffin still tastes delicious either way you decide to make it. Combine flour(s) in a medium mixing bowl along with baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set this aside while you mix the wet ingredients together. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, 2 beaten eggs, brown sugar, oil, and lemon juice.


The rhubarb is the star of this muffin! Rhubarb has a slightly sour flavor which pairs perfectly with the sweet batter. Prepare the rhubarb by washing it and chopping off the ends. Slice the rhubarb into long slices and then finely dice. Make sure that the pieces are small enough so the rhubarb doesn’t become overpowering in the muffin.


Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the rhubarb, being careful to not over stir the batter. Over stirring the batter will prevent your muffins from rising as well during baking. Fill your muffin tins 2/3 of the way full and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  DSC_4127

When your muffins are done baking, take them out of the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Waiting seems to be the hardest part for me. I just want to take a big bite out of anything fresh from the oven! Let me just say that these muffins are worth the wait.


Unlike most store-bought muffins, this recipe doesn’t contain a lot of extra calories and fat. Each muffin clocks in at about 125 calories and has just 2 grams of fat. They make a healthy addition to breakfast and can be packed for easy snacks and treats. I absolutely love these muffins topped with a little bit of peanut butter and jelly. Winning combo!

Below is a printable recipe card for our whole-wheat rhubarb muffins. Just click on the image to print. If you are making these muffins for yourself or a small family, try keeping half in the freezer and defrosting them in the microwave when you are ready. They are also great for sharing with family and friends!

Whole wheat rhubarb muffins

Active Father & Son

5 Tips to Keep Your Summer Workouts Safe

Active Father & SonThose cold, winter days are long gone and have been replaced with beautiful sunshine and a chance to take your physical activity outdoors. Whether you have joined the local soccer league, love going on long hikes, or are just beginning a new running program, it is important to be cautious while exercising in extreme heat.

Our bodies are designed to keep our temperature well-regulated. When we exercise in the heat for long periods of time and don’t hydrate properly, our cooling system can fail and we are at risk for dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. It is important to talk to your doctor before starting a new workout program and to follow these tips to keep you safe during your outdoor workouts.

1. Take Time to Transition

It can take 1-2 weeks for your body to get used to exercising in the heat, so begin exercising outside now while it is still fairly cool so that your body is adjusted when temperatures rise.

2. Stay Hydrated

Beautiful young woman drinking water after trainingWater is extremely important when you are exercising in the heat. Staying hydrated helps to keep our cooling system functioning and our temperature normal. It is hard to say exactly how much you should be drinking while outside. Try drinking throughout the day so that you begin your workout well-hydrated. Stick to low-calorie beverages if your workout will be less than an hour. If the temperature is extremely hot or your workout will last more than 1 hour, try sipping on a sports drink to replace both water and electrolytes that are lost when you sweat. To see if you are properly hydrated, you can simply weigh yourself before and after you exercise. Drink 2 cups of fluids for every pound lost after exercise.

3. Slow Down

When exercising in the heat, it is important to slow down and cut back on the time and intensity. It is difficult and can be dangerous to push yourself to an extreme.

4. Choose the Right Clothing

Stick to light, breathable clothing for your workout. This will keep your body cool and control the moisture. Stay away from dark colors and anything cotton as this will just draw heat to you.

5. Time Your Activity Wisely

The warmest temperatures of the day are between 10am and 3pm. Schedule your workouts either before or after these times to keep cool. I love working out first thing in the morning. It helps wake me up and feels great to get my physical activity in for the day.

Family on BikesFollow these tips to stay healthy and fit this summer, but remember to just get out there and have fun! Outdoor physical activity has been shown to be very beneficial for our health. It tends to be more intense than indoor exercise because of natural elements like wind and hills. It has also been shown to increase vitality, happiness, and self-esteem while lowering tension, depression, and fatigue.

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Kale garden

May Menu Planning

Kale gardenAs I sit here writing this blog post, the rain is drizzling outside my window and a spring vegetable fritatta is in the oven getting nice and toasty for dinner. I am loving this rainy weather we are having here in Cache Valley. During weeks like this, I begin to crave simple comfort foods that use lots of the veggies that are just coming into season now. Today, I am going to go over my menu plan for the upcoming week. It will be a busy week, so I am planning on sticking to simple and fast dinners that incorporate a lot of healthy ingredients.

I grew up with a mom who was a meal planner. Every weekend, she sat down and asked us for dinner ideas. She then jotted down a menu for the week, made a grocery list, and stocked up on all the ingredients we would need. I continued to meal plan through the years and find it especially helpful now that I am married. It helps me stick to my budget and ensures that there is food on hand to create healthy meals.

I started this weeks menu with a quick plan using our menu planner. I tend to cook 3-4 meals each week for our family of two. We eat “planned overs” on our other nights. “Planned overs” are leftover nights that we have added to our menu plan. Having these days to eat leftovers keeps us from throwing out food at the end of each week. To keep breakfast time interesting, I love make a breakfast 2-3 days each week. As you can see on this week’s plan, I jot down one treat to bake each week. This week’s treat is a berry crisp made with frozen berries. Yum! WEEKLY MENU May 10-16-page-001 copy These are the recipes that I will be using to stick with my meal plan. I use these recipes quite often in my meal planning because they are quick and easy. These meals are fairly balanced, but be sure to make them a Myplate meal by adding whole grains, fruit, and dairy. Click on each recipe card for a printable version. Crustless Cheese and Kale Quiche Greek Chicken and Zucchini Two ingredient Pizza White Chicken Chili Berry Crisp Buckwheat Pancakes Make Ahead Yogurt Parfaits

After my menu is created, I go through my kitchen and jot down any ingredients I will need for the week. I make sure to include ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Menu planning is such an important part of eating healthy. It equips you with a plan to make healthy meals for your family. It also keeps you from going to the store multiple times each week which can add up to a lot of money. Give it a try this week and see how it goes. This is a great menu plan to get started with! Shopping List copy Chelsea Norman Nutrition Education Assistant

Mangoes copy

Eating in Season: The Mango

Mangoes copySweet and juicy, mangos are one of my favorite healthy snacks. I love them fresh or frozen and topped with whipped cream. Today we are going to talk about the nutrition of mangos, how to select and store the fruit, and delicious ways to enjoy them!


Myplate suggests that we fill 1/4 of our plate with a variety of fruits. Fruit is packed with nutrients and helps to satisfy our sweet tooth with just a few calories. Aim for a rainbow of brightly colored fruits each day. This will ensure that you are getting a wide array of vitamins and minerals that will help you stay at your healthiest. Mangos are a great addition to your plate because they are low in fat, high in vitamin A, and high in vitamin C. They are also a source of prebiotics which help feed our healthy gut bacteria. This beneficial bacteria helps our digestive system function at its best and keeps the immune system strong.

Select and Store:

Mangos are a tropical fruit are ripest beginning in late March. There are a variety of different mangos found in grocery stores and most are picked when they are still green, but perfectly ripe. Choose mango fruit that is slightly firm and smells sweet. Avoid fruits with sap, bruises, and any cuts. Unripe mangos can be kept at room temperature to ripen for 1-2 days. They can then be stored in the refrigerator until eaten. Try storing cut ripe mango pieces in the refrigerator for grab-and-go snacks.

Prepare and Enjoy:

Start by washing mangos in cool, running water. Mangos have a large seed right in the center that cannot be removed like an avocado. Instead, you must slice the mango lengthwise around the seed. The mango can then be cubed and then removed from the peel. Here are some directions. You can click on the image below for a larger version.


Mangos are delicious when they are eaten simply fresh. They can also be added to:

  • fruit salads
  • salsas
  • smoothies
  • yogurt parfaits
  • tropical oatmeal
  • topped with whipped cream

One of our favorite smoothie recipes at Food $ense is this Paradise Freeze. It is thick and delicious. Now that the weather is warming up, this is a yummy and healthy treat that can be whipped up in no time. Cut the recipe in half if you are cooking for one, or freeze a serving in a tupperware container and scoop with an ice cream scoop for a yummy sherbet treat. Click on the recipe card for a printable version. Enjoy!

Paradise Freeze

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant



Happy Thursday! I hope you are all having a wonderful week. Today, I am going to show you how to make Tabouli, a traditional Mediterranean salad. I love this recipe because it is packed with veggies and whole grains which makes for a very filling side dish. It is also right up my alley because it is such a simple recipe and takes very little time to prepare!


I like to start this recipe by preparing the bulgur. Bulgur is considered a whole grain and can be described as a kind of cracked wheat. If you don’t have it on hand barley, brown rice, or quinoa would make a great substitution. Bulgur is really easy to prepare. Just measure 1 cup of bulgur into a large bowl. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and pour over the bulgur. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad.


Next, chop the green onions, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, and mint. Feel free to add any of your other favorite veggies or toppings. I think green peppers and feta cheese would be delicious in this salad as well. Combine the dressing ingredients together while the bulgur finishes cooking.


To finish this recipe, drain any excess water from the bulgur and fluff it with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and dressing to the bowl with bulgur. Stir to combine. Serve this as a side with grilled chicken, fruit, and a glass of milk for a Myplate meal. Try taking this salad to a potluck or party for a new and exciting recipe.

When cooking for one or two, try cutting this recipe in half so you don’t have too many leftovers. You can pack the leftovers for lunches and eat themthroughout the week. Top your salads with chicken, garbanzo beans, or even tuna and finish lunch with fruit and a serving of dairy. What would you add to make this meal Myplate approved?

Click on the recipe card below for a printable version!


Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Mother and daughter preparing a salad

Meal Prep 101

Mother and daughter preparing a saladOne of the challenges to eating healthfully is time. When we are busy, we tend to grab whatever is convenient and ready to go. This often leads to eating a lot of packaged foods or going out for fast food. These habits can be harmful to our health and tend to be expensive! I follow two rules to make sure that I have healthy snacks and meals on hand. My first rule is to meal plan at the beginning of each week. The second is to spend time one day a week prepping meals and snacks to have on hand.

Menu Planning:

Have you ever run to the grocery store without a list and just bought everything that looked good? When you arrive home, you realize that you have a lot of snacks, but nothing that can be thrown together to make an actual meal. Or maybe you grocery shop and buy grains, protein, and veggies to make meals. When you get home, you realize you have plenty of ingredients for meals, but nothing to eat for breakfast, lunch, or snacks. This happens all too often and can be easily prevented by making a meal plan. Meal planning is even more important when cooking for one or two. It makes sure that the food you buy will be put to use before it goes bad.

Menu planning is really simple. Just take 30 minutes before you go grocery shopping to make a list of the meals that you will make for the week. I use the template below to plan out my week. It’s really easy to use and includes everything I need to make a successful plan. You can click on the picture for a printable version.


I keep a list of my favorite recipes and print and file any new recipes that I would like to try in a folder. I use this list and my new recipes to plan my menu. I find that trying a few new recipes a month helps me mix things up so that I am not cooking the same thing every week. When I am menu planning, I make sure to include a lot of leftover days. I call them “planned overs”. This helps me finish the meals I make so that I am not wasting food each week. Here is a sample menu of what I would plan for a typical week. As you can tell, I even have a plan for breakfasts and snacks so I don’t forget to include those in my weekly shopping trip.

WEEKLY MENU- Sample copy

Grocery Shopping:

Once your plan is ready, it is time to head to the store. Make a list of all the ingredients that you will need for the week. Be sure to check and see if you have those ingredients on hand so you don’t end up buying double. Grab your list and head to your favorite grocery store. Grocery stores tend to be the busiest after 5pm on weeknights and on Saturday afternoons, so try to work your shopping in at a different time. I like to grocery shop early on Saturday mornings, but find what works for you!

Meal Prepping:

There are two methods of meal prepping that you can choose. Some weeks I use only one method and other weeks, I use both methods.

The first method of meal prepping is the easiest to start with. Once you have unloaded your groceries, take time to prep any ingredients that can be made ahead of time. This includes washing and chopping produce, cooking beans and grains for the week, and making a large salad to pack for the week. If you already have your veggies chopped, you are more likely to pack them for snacks and lunches. And if you have your grains cooked and veggies ready to go, dinner is a breeze!

The second method of meal prepping takes a little more time one day a week, but has big benefits later on. This method is for those who do not have time to cook during the week and rely on packaged meals or take-out. I like to meal prep on my busiest weeks so that I know I always have healthy meals ready to go. After your groceries are unloaded, set aside a couple of hours to get cooking. Look ahead throughout the week and decide which recipes you can make. I tend to choose really quick and easy recipes when I meal prep for the week. Cook each of those recipes and portion them into individual containers. Leave one or two days worth in the fridge and put the rest of the containers into the freezer (just thaw out the next days meal in the fridge overnight). When it is lunch or dinnertime, just grab your container, pop it into the microwave, and enjoy!

Here is an example of how I might use my meal plan to prep meals:

1. Cook shredded chicken for burrito bowls in the slow cooker.

2. Cook rice for burrito bowls and curry pineapple fried rice.

3. Chop veggies for burrito bowls.

4. Cook chicken for curry pineapple fried rice.

5. Prepare some tupperware containers with burrito bowl ingredients and some tupperware containers with curry pineapple fried rice ingredients. Label and date tupperware with masking tape.

6. Prepare freezer bags with ingredients for banana and berry smoothies. Label and date.

7. Wash fruit and veggies. Chop carrots and celery into sticks.

Keep veggies, fruit, and 1-2 days worth of meals in the fridge. Place freezer smoothie bags and any remaining tupperware in the freezer. Most of your meals are ready to go for the week.

Some other ideas to prepare ahead of time include:

  • Dry pancake mix
  • Banana bread or homemade bread for sandwiches
  • Egg casserole
  • Crockpot oatmeal
  • Soups
  • Casseroles
  • Granola
  • Trail Mix
  • Granola bars or snack bites

Here is the recipe for the Pineapple Curry Fried Rice. It is one of my favorite meals and tastes so yummy! Click on the recipe for a printable version.

Curry Pineapple Fried RiceDo you meal prep? What are some of your tips and tricks?

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Fruit on pancakesfree

March Schedule + Whole Grains

Hi Friends! I hope March is off to a wonderful start for you all. We are looking forward to some beautiful spring weather and fun outside activities around here. Before we jump ahead to our Food $ense schedule for the month, I just wanted to take a quick second to chat about whole grains and why they are such an important part of any healthy diet.

Fruit on pancakesfree

Grains are an essential part of a balanced diet and should make up approximately 1/4 of your plate at each meal. Examples of grain products include cereals, oats, rice, and flour. We typically talk about two different categories of grains- whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains are the healthiest because they contain the entire grain kernel. Refined grains have had parts of the grain kernel removed through processing. This processing removes much of the fiber, iron, minerals, and B-vitamins that we need to be our healthiest.

Myplate recommends that we try and make half of our grains- whole grains. When searching for sources of whole grains, it is important not to rely on the color. Brown bread might not always mean it is 100% whole-wheat. It might actually be white bread with molasses added in order to get the color. Instead of relying on the color, look at the ingredients below the nutrition facts label. If the first ingredient is 100% whole wheat flour, then the product contains mostly or all whole-wheat flour. These are the products that we want to be buying.

Try these other tips for getting more whole grains onto your plate:

  • Start your day with whole grains. Try a bowl of oatmeal or other hot cereal topped with berries.
  • Swap white rice and pasta for whole grain.
  • Start buying 100% whole wheat bread, tortillas, english muffins, and hamburger buns.
  • Bake with whole-wheat flour instead of white flour.
  • Snack on air-popped popcorn. Corn is a whole grain!
  • Try a new whole grain like quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat, faro, or barley.

I am always on the lookout for new ways to incorporate whole grains into my meals. Pancakes are such an easy way to start my day off right. This pancake recipe uses 3 different types of whole grains for a hearty and delicious breakfast. Make a big batch on the weekend and freeze leftovers to use throughout the week. Just pop them into the toaster or microwave for a healthy meal! Click on the recipe card below for a printable recipe. Enjoy!

Buckwheat Pancakes

Check our Facebook page each Friday this month for more tips on adding whole grains into your meals. Our classes this month will also focus on reading nutrition labels in order to choose the healthiest foods. Click here to find information about Cache County classes and to find Food $ense classes in your area.

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Delishes grapefruits

Eating in Season: The Grapefruit

Happy Thursday! I can’t believe that this is already the last week of February. Winter has flown right on by. Spring is just around the corner, along with all the delicious produce that comes during the warmer seasons. Until farmer’s markets are brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables, we can still enjoy produce that is in season all year long. One fruit, the grapefruit, is available year round, but is best during late winter and early spring. The grapefruit looks like an extra large orange but has a juicy, pink interior with a flavor that can range from tart to sweet and sugary.

Delishes grapefruits


Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C which helps boost immune function. Just one medium grapefruit provides over 100% of your daily value of this vitamin. Pink and red grapefruit are also packed with anti-oxidants like lycopene that help keep all the cells in your body healthy.

Select and Store: 

Picking out a yummy grapefruit is really quite simple! Look for fruit that feels heavy for its size, this means it will be the most juicy. Also remember thatbruises and scratches on the skin of the fruit do not affect the inside of the fruit. Avoid fruit that is overly ripe, this can be checked by looking for a soft spot at the stem and looking for areas that appear to be water-soaked.

Store grapefruit at room temperature if it will be eaten within the week. If grapefruit will not be used right away, they can be stored for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Prepare and Enjoy:

Start by washing your grapefruit under cool running water. This will remove any dirt that may still be on the fruit. Grapefruit can be eaten in many different ways. The easiest way I have found is to eat a grapefruit just like an orange. Just peel it, remove any seeds, and eat the slices. Grapefruit can also be eaten with a spoon! Just make a cut around the equator of the fruit. Then take a spoon to dig out each bit of fruit in between the pith or membrane. I found this fun video for a third way to eat a grapefruit. In this method, the grapefruit peel is removed and the slices are easily cut out.

Grapefruit is also a great addition to salads like this one. It adds a bright and fresh flavor without added calories. Click the image for a printable version and enjoy!

Grapefruit and Citrus Salad

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

bowl of cherries

The Importance of Eating Fruits and Veggies in the Winter Months

Myplate suggests filling half of our plates with fruits and vegetables. This can be really easy to do during the summer months when we have a variety of fruits and veggies in season. In the cold winter months, eating these good foods every day can be a bit more of a challenge. Produce just doesn’t seem to taste as ripe and the variety is more limited.

bowl of cherries

Fruits and vegetables play an important role in a healthy diet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals that help our bodies functioning at their best, antioxidants that keep our cells healthy, and fiber that benefits our digestive system and keeps us full longer. Along with these benefits, fruits and veggies are also low in calories which can help us maintain a healthy weight. There are so many reasons to fill our plates with fruits and veggies. Here are a few suggestions to help pack these nutrient dense foods into your winter meals.

1. Reach for In-season Produce

Fill your meals with fruits and vegetables that are in season all year round or are in season during these months. This includes root vegetables like winter squash and sweet potatoes and fruits like grapefruit, oranges, and bananas. This site shares what is in season during the winter months. You can also take a look at my “In-Season Series” on the blog to find information on picking and preparing produce.

2. Choose Frozen or Canned Varieties

Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables tend to be less expensive than some fresh produce and can have better quality. Since frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are packaged right after picking, they tend to have even more nutrients than some fresh produce that has been traveling for many days or even weeks. When choosing canned fruits and vegetables, look for varieties that are low in sodium and are packaged in water or 100% fruit juice instead of syrup. This will help keep the sodium and sugar down. Also, choose frozen fruits and vegetables without creamy sauces. They add extra fat, calories, and sodium. Instead, make your own healthy sauce with a little olive oil and lemon juice.

3. Experiment with New Cooking Techniques

I love roasted veggies in the winter months. Instead of eating cold salads topped with tomatoes and cucumbers, I often make warmer salads with lots of roasted veggies, beans, and rice or quinoa. Mixing up your cooking technique will keep fruits and vegetables new and exciting. Try roasting root vegetables, cauliflower, carrots, and onions. Steaming and sautéing also add new life to winter veggies.

4. Sneak It In

Try adding fruits and vegetables to anything you can. Throw a handful of spinach and diced tomato into your morning omelet. Top oatmeal with frozen berries and banana slices. Decorate a homemade pizza with bell pepper, mushrooms, and extra tomato slices. Add extra veggies to your favorite soup or casserole dish. They are very forgiving and can take the extra vegetables. Get your creative juices flowing and add produce to anything you can think of. Trust me, the more you can get in, the better your health will be.

Try this simple recipe for butternut squash fries to get some more variety into your veggie choices. Click the picture below for a printable recipe and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Fries

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant


Green Pea Guacamole


Whether it’s a game day treat or a taco night for two, guacamole is loved by all! This green dip is known for its creamy texture, spicy flavor, and perfect dip-ability. Today we are putting a spin on the classic and adding in some green peas.

We love adding peas because it reduces the cost and calories of the dip. Avocados can be quite a bit more expensive than peas. This recipe only uses 1 avocado and 1 cup of peas which makes it easy on the wallet. Also, by substituting some of the avocado for peas, we significantly reduce the amount of calories in the dip. This entire recipe is about 450 calories. A typical guacamole recipe that uses three avocados can be 900 or more calories. This lighter dip gives us healthy fat from the avocado for a fraction of the calories.


Start with 2 Tbsp cilantro (finely chopped), 1 Tbsp onion (finely chopped), 1 avocado (peeled and chopped), 1 cup green peas (thawed under running water), and 1 cup chopped tomato. Put these ingredients in a medium bowl or blender.


Add 2 tsp fresh lime juice, 1 tsp Worchester sauce, a dash of tobacco sauce, 1 tsp garlic salt, and pepper to taste.  Use an immersion blender (if you would like more info on immersion blenders click hereto blend ingredients, leaving it chunky. A high speed blender would also work.


Sprinkle the guacamole with fresh cilantro and serve with veggies or chips. I love serving dips with carrot chips. They make a great, healthier alternative to fried tortilla chips.


This recipe makes about 3 cups of dip. When you are cooking for one or two, this may make too much. Try freezing any extra guacamole and thawing it for later use. I also really like this dip because it doesn’t turn brown nearly as quickly as most guacamole does. Keep it in the fridge for a few days to eat with leftovers or for a yummy snack. To reduce any browning, spray a little non-stick spray on the surface of the guacamole and cover with seran wrap. Water also works well, but sounds a little weird since we don’t normally think about putting water on our dips. Just put the guac in a Tupperware container and add a little water to the top. When you are ready to eat the guacamole, just pour the water off the top and stir it up. These methods work because the guacamole isn’t exposed to oxygen which is what causes it to brown in the first place.

Green Pea GuacamoleClick on the recipe for a printable version. Have you made this recipe? Any Thoughts?

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

green and red healthy food

February Schedule + American Heart Month

green and red healthy food This month is all about giving our hearts a little TLC- tender, loving care! Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure, is the number one killer in both men and women in the United States. During American Heart Month, we are going to be giving our hearts a little love while we learn about the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and some small steps that we can take to keep ourselves “heart healthy”. 

Risk Factors: Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include family history, smoking, obesity/overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and physical inactivity. Remember that a healthy lifestyle can help prevent and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Small Steps:Mother holding her little son piggy-back.

  • Follow Myplate and make 1/2 of your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose whole grains over refined grains.
  • Choose low-sodium foods whenever possible.
  • Eat heart-healthy fats like those found in nuts, seeds, oils, and avocados.
  • Work on avoiding unhealthy fats like those found in red meats and processed foods.
  • Get your yearly physical. Be sure to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked!
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise! Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day can help lower your risk for CVD.

Try this delicious twist on fettuccine alfredo for a more heart healthy option! Click on the recipe card for a printable version.  Cauliflower fettuccini alfredo Check our Facebook page each Friday this month for more tips on heart healthy eating. Our classes this month will also focus on heart health. Click here to find information about Cache County classes and to find Food $ense classes in your area.

Couple Running

Eating for Optimal Performance

“Exercise not only changes your body; it changes your mind, attitude, and mood.”

Couple Running

The focus for our January classes has been fitness and the many benefits that it provides our bodies and minds (Read Here for a Class Recap). Physical activity promotes better sleep, helps us feel better about ourselves, and makes it easier for us to move around. It also helps us reach or maintain a healthy weight, maintain strong and healthy bones, and reduces our risk for cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and certain cancers. When we are living an active life, we need to make sure we are fueling out bodies with the right nutrients. A common question that we are asked is what to eat before and after a workout. Eating for optimal performance can be a little confusing, but today we are going to break it down by focusing on a few main points.

Our Bodies on Exercise:

Active Father & SonCarbohydrates are our most important fuel source! When we eat, our body breaks down the carbohydrates into smaller and simpler parts called glucose. This glucose is used immediately to keep our blood sugar levels stable and then stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. When we exercise, our bodies break down the glycogen and use it to fuel our muscles.

Pre-workout Nutrition:

Timing is everything when it comes to pre-workout nutrition. The time that a pre-workout meal or snack should be eaten will depend on the person and the type of workout. Typically, a pre-workout meal or snack can be eaten 1 to 3 hours before a workout. Make sure to listen to your body and give your stomach enough time to settle, so it doesn’t get upset during the workout. During this time, reach for carbohydrates and a little protein. Carbs are the fuel and the protein primes your muscles and helps with recovery and rebuilding the muscles. Here are some ideas to try:

– Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

– Homemade granola bars like these.

– A yogurt parfait with Greek yogurt, berries, and a little homemade granola like this one.

– Apple slices with string cheese

– Peanut butter toast with a banana

– Homemade trail mix with nuts and dried fruit

– Oatmeal with banana or berries

– Hard boiled egg with fruit

Post-workout Nutrition:

Senior Couple Exercising In Park

As soon as your workout is finished, it is best to replenish those lost nutrients as quickly as possible. Experts from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest eating a post-workout meal 15-20 minutes after training. What are you going to eat? Aim for a snack or meal that contains a moderate amount of both protein and carbohydrates. These meals will help you recover faster, so you are ready for your next workout:
– Pita with chicken or tuna salad

– Sandwich with turkey, swiss cheese, and veggies

– Cottage cheese with veggies or fruit

– A smoothie made with Greek yogurt and fruit. Try adding peanut butter and banana for a delicious treat.

– Scrambled eggs with cheese and a slice of toast

– Chocolate milk. This has the perfect ratio of carbs to protein

Remember that it is also important to replace the fluids and electrolytes that are lost during exercise. Sports drinks can be a great way to rehydrate during or after a long workout that is more than one hour long or is very intense. These drinks can be very high in sugar, so use them sparingly and look for lower sugar varieties. Drink water with your snack or replace those fluids with a yummy smoothie like this green smoothie below! Print the recipe for a printable copy.

green smoothie-2

Chelsea Preedy

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Banana wallpaper (2)

Eating in Season: Bananas

Today, we are going to be talking about fast food! I won’t be talking about those high fat and high salt foods served at our favorite fast food restaurants though. Nope, today we are going to be talking about bananas- the perfect fast food for busy people. Sweet, creamy, and prepackaged in their own skin, bananas are a favorite of both the young and the old. I thought that this often overlooked fruit deserved a day in the spotlight!

Banana wallpaper (2)


Bananas are an incredible source of potassium which is important in keeping our blood pressure at healthy levels and keeping our heart healthy. Our bodies also need potassium to break down and use carbohydrates, build muscle, and maintain a healthy acid-base balance in our blood.

While bananas are packed with nutrients to keep us healthy, they also make an excellent snack for athletes. Bananas are considered a low glycemic index food. This means that the carbohydrates from the banana are released slowly, keeping our blood sugar levels stable, and giving us a sustained source of energy.

Select and Store:

We typically find bananas ranging from bright green to a creamy yellow color spotted with brown. Bananas are picked from the tree when they are green and are allowed to ripen on their way to the store. Choose your bunch of bananas based on when you are going to eat them. Buy a bunch of creamy yellow bananas if they are going to be eaten right away or a bunch of green bananas if they won’t be eaten for a few days. At my house, I like to buy a bunch of both yellow and green bananas. This way, I will have bananas to eat all week. Look for fruit without bruising and brown spots, which mean that the bananas are overripe. You can also pick small, medium, or large bananas. There are no differences in the quality of the fruit, so just buy whichever size fits your needs. Small bananas make the perfect snack for kids and pack great in lunches. Larger bananas are good for fruit salads, smoothies, and freezing.

Unripe bananas can be stored on the counter until they are ripe. Place unripe bananas in a brown paper bag and roll down the top of the bag if you need to speed up the ripening process. Ripe yellow bananas can be stored on the counter if they will be eaten in the next couple of days. You can also store ripe bananas in the refrigerator if you would like them to last longer. The skin may turn brown, but the inside will remain perfectly ripe.

Prepare and Enjoy:

Bananas don’t need any prep work in order to be eaten. Simply, pack the whole banana and remove the peel when it is time to eat. Try topping your morning cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt with banana slices for extra staying power or mix sliced bananas into your fruit salad and serve alongside lunch or dinner.

Banana Bread

Bananas can also be used in baked goods as a way to reduce the fat. They add moisture, fiber, and flavor. This healthy swap works best in quick breads, coffee cakes, and pancakes like these. Start by substituting 1/2 of a mashed banana for every cup of oil in a recipe. If the recipe seems to dry, add a little more mashed banana at a time until the right consistency is reached. Play around with it and have some fun experimenting.  Just this little swap will save you over 1,900 calories per cup of oil!

Buying a large bunch of bananas may not work best for you if you’re planning menus for just one or two people.  The bananas may become over ripe before you can use them all.  Banana ice cream is a great way to preserve those bananas while they are still perfectly ripe. I keep frozen bananas in my freezer and whip up a bowl of banana ice cream to enjoy as a nighttime treat. Have you ever tried banana ice cream? Click on the recipe card for a printable version and enjoy!

Banana Ice Cream

Chelsea Preedy

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

refrigerator full of healthy food. fruits and vegetables

SMART Goal Setting

Family SleddingHappy Thursday! I just can’t believe we are over half-way through January already. I hope you are enjoying this first month of 2015 and are looking forward to some good times this year.

At the beginning of 2015, many of us set New Year Resolutions in order to help reach some of our dreams and goals. I know that at this point in time, the excitement of these resolutions is beginning to wear off and motivation is beginning to fade. Today, we are going to get that spark back and remember why goals are so important to set and how we can make a lasting change through SMART goal setting.

Why Set Goals-

This is a great question and one that needs some attention. I read something once that said, “goals are dreams with deadlines.” This thought has always stuck with me and reminded me why I need to set goals in my own life.

I am a dreamer and I could spend all day dreaming about things that I want to accomplish and where I want to be in 20 years. Dreams are great, but just dreaming isn’t going to make them come true. This is where goals come in. By setting short term, medium-term, and long term goals, we can help make our dreams a reality.

Goal Setting Pitfalls- 

Did you know that most people give up on their New Year Resolutions by Valentine’s Day? We tend to

Shopping List copymake the same mistakes that limit us when it comes to goal setting. Let’s talk about these common pitfalls.

1. Setting unrealistic goals- we start the year ready to rock and roll and set some pretty lofty goals. No sugar for the entire year? Yeah, we can totally do that! But then real life hits. We have celebrations, vacations, and times for indulgence. It is not realistic to think we can combat the sugar monster for the entire year, and who would want to do that anyway! It is much more realistic to have a balanced lifestyle where treats are included. A better goal would be to have 2 treats a week and take the time to savor them.

2. Setting too many goals- I am a sucker for this one. I love to come up with a huge long list of things that I can get done in the coming year. While this may be tempting, research shows that our brain can only focus on 5-7 items at one time. Try to keep your goals within this range and focus on actually accomplishing them. Another fun idea to try is to have one goal for each month of the year. In January, I will read for 30 minutes every night. In February, we will not go out to eat. And you get the idea. This is a great way to put your entire focus on one goal for the entire month. If it works for you, continue doing this habit for the next month as well.

3. Not writing them down- it has been proven that we are more likely to reach our goals if we have written them down. Make sure to write down the goals that you would like to accomplish and then put them somewhere that you will see them regularly.

running with grandma

Making SMART Goals-

Now let’s set some goals. When we are goal setting, we want to remember to make our goals SMART.

S- Specific

Make your goal as specific as possible and think of the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Example: Walk 30 minutes outside 4 days a week with my dog. 

M- Measurable

Making our goals measurable helps us track our progress and stay motivated. Ask how much, how many, or when will I know I have accomplished my goal. Example: Save $100 a month for the next 5 months until I have $500 saved. 

A- Attainable

Being able to attain our goals involves making a plan to help us be successful. Ex: Pack a lunch for work every day for the next month. 

Plan- On Sunday night, make a large batch of quinoa salad, hard boiled eggs, and sandwich bread. Take 10 minutes each night while preparing dinner to pack a lunch for the next day. Buy an insulated lunch bag to keep the lunch cool during the day. 

refrigerator full of healthy food. fruits and vegetables

R- Relevant

Make sure that you are setting goals that are important and meaningful for you. Meet yourself where you are and ask what you would like to focus on. When you are passionate about your goal, it will be easier to find motivation. 

T- Time Oriented

We need to set a time frame in order to successfully accomplish something. It’s one thing to say, “I want to lose 10 pounds”. It is another thing to say, “I would like to lose 1 pound each week until I hit my goal weight of ___!”

These are the basics of goal setting. Remember why you set your New Year resolutions and remember that it’s okay if you didn’t stick with them for long. Read through this lesson one more time and think of ways to set your goals so that they are SMART and you can successfully complete them!

Here are a few printable goal sheets that I just loved. Just print them out, fill in your SMART goals, and hang it by your desk or fridge for constant motivation. Enjoy!


Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

DSC_4015I proudly admit that I am a total soup lover! I just can’t get over how easy it is to make, how healthy it can be, and how delicious it can taste. One of my favorite soups is homemade chicken noodle soup. There is nothing quite as comforting as a steaming bowl of this soup served with a grilled cheese sandwich. Today, I am putting a creamy spin on the classic and adding wild rice. You are going to love it!


I used a secret to make this soup even easier today- a roasted chicken. Buying a whole chicken and roasting it yourself can be a great way to save a little money and turn one meal into many. I like to take a whole chicken, rinse it inside and out, remove the giblets (if there are any) and coat it with olive oil and herbs like rosemary and thyme. I then stuff it with onion and lemon and roast it at 425 degrees for about 1 hour and a half or until the juices run clear and my chicken has an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. Be sure to take the temperature with a kitchen thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the chicken breast. Cook your chicken for dinner on a Sunday night and serve it with vegetables and brown rice. Use your creativity with the leftover roasted chicken. Add it to salads throughout the week, make enchiladas, or serve up chicken salad sandwiches. You can also freeze it for later use or you can make this incredibly easy soup. Once your chicken is ready to go, the soup is easy as can be. I started with about 2 cups of my roasted chicken, 1 cup of diced carrots, 1 cup of diced celery, and 1 cup of diced onion.


I warmed up some olive oil in the bottom of my stockpot. I threw the onions, carrots, and celery in the stockpot and let them cook for about 5 minutes. I then added my chicken, broth, and wild rice. Once this mixture came to a boil, I turned the heat down and let it simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until the rice was tender. I then combined 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl. Once the rice was tender, I added this mixture to the soup and stirred until the soup had thickened and was bubbly. I then added my can of evaporated skim milk and stirred until the soup was warmed through. The evaporated milk gives the soup a creamy consistency without adding the excess calories that come with heavy cream. I love this lightened up version because it still tastes incredibly creamy and comforting. Serve this meal with a slice of whole grain bread and fruit salad to make it a Myplate meal.

DSC_4021 Here is the recipe. Use this recipe as a guideline, but feel free to switch things up. Use noodles if you don’t have wild rice and chop up whatever vegetables you have on hand. I think mushrooms, leeks, and potatoes would be an excellent addition. This soup would also be delicious with leftover roasted turkey instead of chicken. Comment below with your favorite soup flavor!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup-2-page-001

Chelsea Preedy Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Strawberry Parfait

January Schedule + Tips on Quick Breakfasts

Happy New Year! I am so happy to get to join you on this beautiful first day of 2015. I love this chance to turn a new page and reflect on all the joys from the past year. Here at Food $ense, we have been hard at work preparing for the new year. We have an exciting year planned and cannot wait to start teaching again. We would love to have you at our monthly Food $ense and Extension classes where we share lots of healthy eating tips and tricks and provide yummy recipes for you to taste. To find information about Food $ense classes in your county click here.

Strawberry Parfait

I know that many of you will be working to create healthier habits in your life this new year. Eating breakfast is one healthy habit to begin incorporating into your life today. Research shows that those who eat a healthy breakfast tend to eat healthier throughout the rest of the day and tend to weigh less that those who do not eat breakfast. I know that waking up early for breakfast can seem like a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be. Five minutes is all you need to prepare a healthy breakfast that will get your day started on the right foot. Here are some ideas for a delicious, nutritious breakfast in 5 minutes.

1. Banana Roll Up- spread peanut butter on a whole-wheat tortilla. Place one banana in the middle of the tortilla and roll it up. Add a sprinkle of granola or other fruit slices to this banana roll-up for a fun twist. This breakfast will provide you with plenty of whole-grains, healthy fat, and protein.

2. Smoothie- add fruit, ice, milk, and a handful of spinach to a blender. Blend until smooth. There are many fun smoothie recipes to try, so get creative with different flavors. Peanut butter, almonds, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and vanilla are also delicious in smoothies.

3. 90 Second Egg Sandwich- the name says it all! This breakfast takes less than 2 minutes and is filling and delicious. Find the recipe here:

4. Make-Ahead Breakfasts- take a little time of the weekend to prepare foods that can be reheated for breakfast. An egg casserole can be sliced and stored in tupperware containers. It can then be reheated in the microwave for a quick eat. Whole-wheat waffles and pancakes can also be made ahead of time and stored for a couple of days in the fridge or for months in the freezer. They can be reheated in the microwave or toaster oven. Top pancakes and waffles with peanut butter or vanilla yogurt and fruit for a more filling breakfast.

5. Parfaits- this breakfast can be made the night before and is ready to go when you wake up. Breakfast parfaits include yogurt, fruit, and granola. Mix the fruit and yogurt in a tupperware the night before and top with a sprinkle of granola or other breakfast cereal the next morning. I really love this homemade granola recipe. It isn’t overly sweet and costs much less than the store bought versions. Here is the recipe:

6. Overnight Oats- overnight oats are a mixture of oats, Greek yogurt, milk, chia seeds and whatever flavorings you would like. The oats plump up overnight and the chia seeds make the oatmeal thick. Any combination of fruit can be used and nuts or nut butter can be added. Below is a recipe for strawberry overnight oats. I love how tasty this recipe is and how portable it can be. I make these overnight oats at night and take them with me to class in the morning. If you are in a rush, feel free to just add all the ingredients in a bowl without blending. Click on the recipe card below for a printable version.

Overnight Oats

Chelsea Preedy

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant


Cooking in Season: The Turnip

I hope you have all had a wonderful and relaxing holiday week! It’s sure been a busy one for me. I love the hustle and bustle, so I enjoyed every minute of it. 

strelitziaToday, we are going to be talking about the turnip. This vegetable is available year-round but is at it’s peak season from fall to early spring, making it a great dinner-time choice this time of year. Turnips have two edible portions: the greens and the root.

The root of the turnip looks like a round bulb with a white to light yellow skin and a hint of purple near the greens. The greens are large and leafy and can have a bitter taste. They can be compared to mustard greens and can be cooked in a variety of ways.


Both the turnip root and the greens have health benefits for us. The turnip root absorbs minerals from the soil that it has been grown in. The amount of minerals depends on the soil, but all of those minerals add up and help us to reach our recommended daily intake. The root is also a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants.

The turnip greens are truly the nutritional powerhouse of the vegetable. Just 1 cup of cooked turnip greens will provide almost 600% of our daily intake of Vitamin K. They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate. Be sure to eat both the turnip root and greens for the most benefits!

Select and Store:

Look for turnips that have a smooth skin and are heavy for their size. I recommend choosing smaller turnips, as they will have a sweeter and more mild flavor than larger turnips. These smaller turnips can be eaten raw. Just chop them up for a quick snack or toss them into salads. If the greens are still attached, look for crisp and fresh looking greens. They should be deep green in color.

Turnip roots can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, tightly wrapped. They tend to store best in a cool, dark place like a root cellar and can be stored here for quite a long while. Remove the greens from the root. The greens should be tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Prepare and Cook:

Scrub turnips with a vegetable brush and rinse under cool, running water. Peel larger turnips with a vegetable peeler before cooking. Rinse the turnip greens under cool, running water and chop into 1 inch strips before cooking.

Turnips can be baked, boiled, sautéed, or steamed. My favorite way of preparing the turnip root is by roasting it in the oven. I will attach a recipe for this method at the end of the post.

Turnip greens are best sautéed or steamed. Combine the greens in a pan with a little olive oil and lemon juice. Sauté until the greens have wilted and enjoy. This is such a simple dish and tastes delicious as a side to a meal.

oven roasted vegetables

Bowl of Apple Crisp

It’s All About Balance

Bowl of Apple CrispEating around the holiday season can be stressful for even the healthiest eater. With treats at every turn, it seems that every good intention gets thrown out the window. During this time of year, I want you to remember that it isn’t about every morsel of food that goes into your mouth. It is about the bigger picture and what you are eating on a day-to-day basis. Today, we are going to talk about how balance is the key to good health and how we can find balance through the help of Myplate.

First, let’s talk about how our body helps with balance. Our bodies know exactly what they need to be the healthiest and our brain sends signals to get what it needs. Our brain releases a hormone called leptin that says we are full and have had enough to eat and releases ghrelin to signal we are hungry and need to eat ASAP! If we listen to our body, it can help us to balance our food intake during the holidays. After a night of overindulgence, I find myself not as hungry and reaching for more veggies the next day. Listening to our cravings can also tell us if we are missing nutrients in our diet. If I haven’t eaten enough healthy fat during the day, I begin to crave peanut butter and ice cream at night. I take this as a sign and eat a healthy snack that includes a healthy fat like peanut butter, nuts, or avocado.

Now, let’s have a chat about how we can include our favorite holiday treats into a healthy and balanced diet. I could go on and on about how to bake healthier treats or how eating a salad before a party will keep you from the dessert tray, but you’ve heard these tips before and depriving yourself (of all the treats/goodies around this time) will only set you up to eat more later. Instead, let’s fill our meals with whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, and dairy. When our diet is filled with healthy foods most of the time then, we have some wiggle room to enjoy those treats, or “sometimes” foods. We can also help balance out those “sometimes” foods by making healthier choices later. If I have two cookies for a snack, I may choose to have an extra serving of veggies at dinner that night. I might also choose to drink a glass of skim milk with my cookies instead of a glass of eggnog.


Myplate can really help us make healthy choices during the holiday season. If we use Myplate as a guide at most meals, we will be eating a diet rich in those foods groups I mentioned above (whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, and dairy). Then when we choose to have a slice of Aunt May’s pumpkin roll, we enjoy it without guilt because we know that health is about the bigger picture. Enjoy this holiday season and all of the delicious foods that come with it!

For a delicious and easy Christmas breakfast, try this Crustless Kale Quiche. Serve it with a side of fruit for a Myplate meal. Click on the recipe card below for a printable version.

crustless kale quiche

Chelsea Preedy

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Plan Homepage

December Schedule + Tips for a More Mindful Meal

It seems like life just keeps getting busier and busierPlan Homepage. This rings especially true during the holiday season when we have parties to attend, cookies to frost, and gifts to wrap. Things have become so fast-paced that we often forget to eat healthy and say we don’t have time to sit down for a quick bite. We eat on the run, stop at drive-throughs, and rely on ready-to-bake entrees for dinner. Mindful eating is the solution for this fast-paced way of life. Being more mindful means eating when we are truly hungry, choosing foods that will nourish our bodies, using all of our senses to enjoy a meal, and slowing down. Here are some tips for a more mindful meal during this busy season.

Shift out of Autopilot:

What did you have for breakfast this morning? Many people eat the same thing day in and day out. Notice whether you are stuck in any kind of eating rut or routine and then try to switch it up. Use it as a time to add healthy items to your diet that you may be likely to miss at other meals during the day.

Mindfully Check In:

Each time you eat, ask yourself, “Am I physically hungry or am I eating out of boredom, loneliness, or stress?” It is also important to check in while you are eating. Periodically, tune into your body to see if you are beginning to feel full. Aim to eat until you are satisfied, leaving yourself neither stuffed or still hungry.

Be an Attentive Eater:

It’s hard to make eating a priority rather than an option or a side task. If you get the urge for a snack or meal while you are working, watching TV, or doing something else, stop and take a break so that you can give eating 100% of you attention. Try to avoid multitasking while you eat and just enjoy your meal.

Take Mindful Bites:

Bring all of your sense to the dinner table. Breathe in the aroma of a fresh loaf of bread. Notice the coldness of ice cream and the crunch of the chip. Truly taste your meal.

Slow Down:

Too often, we rush through meals, finish our plate, and slowly get more full until we realize we are really stuffed! Slowing down while your eating gives your body time to tell if it is beginning to get full. This signal can take 20 minutes or more to reach your mind, so take your time.

These are just a few tips that will help you become more mindful when eating. Feel free to comment and share how you are becoming a more mindful eater! We would love to have you at our monthly Food $ense and Extension classes where we share more healthy eating tips and tricks and provide lots of yummy recipes for you to taste. To find information about Food $ense classes in your county click here.

-Chelsea Preedy

Nutrition Education Assistant

Savoy Cabbage

Cooking in Season with Cabbage

I hope you have all had a wonderful week! I am feeling more than ready to get back to my healthy eating habits after the last couple of days. One of the easiest ways that I balance out those holiday treats is to make sure I am still getting at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals that help my body function at its best. They are also high in fiber which helps keep me full and out of the candy dish! Today, we are going to be cooking up some cabbage. This hearty vegetable is in season during these cold months and is a great way to help you reach your 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day. 


All varieties of cabbage have health benefits, but red cabbage contains the highest levels of anti-oxidants which help protect our bodies from the stress of daily life and can help prevent chronic diseases. Red cabbage is high in vitamin K which is important for blood clotting and bone health. It’s also high in vitamin C that helps keep our immune system healthy.

Select and Store:

There are a few different varieties of cabbage to choose from. The traditional green and red cabbages have a round shape and smooth leaves. Savoy cabbage looks a lot like green cabbage, but it has wrinkled leaves and a very mild, delicate flavor. Chinese (Napa) cabbage is longer in shape and has crinkled leaves that look more like romaine lettuce.

When picking out your cabbage, look for a large and firm vegetable with crisp leaves that are free from cracks, bruises, or blemishes. Be sure to buy a full head of cabbage instead of pre-cut cabbage because it loses its nutrients very quickly once cut.

Store a whole head of cabbage in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Once cut, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it back in the plastic bag in the crisper. Red and green cabbage will keep for about 2 weeks and savoy cabbage will keep for about 1 week.


I really like watching videos on how to prepare vegetables. Check out this video on how to cut your cabbage once you get it home:

Try adding some chopped cabbage to your salads, saute it with a little olive oil and lemon, or make our oriental chicken salad. This recipe is always a hit at parties and makes for a filling and easy dinner on busy nights. Click on the recipe card for a printable version. Enjoy!

Oriental Chicken Salad-page-001-1 (2)

Chelsea Preedy

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Eat Together

8 Tips for Healthier Holidays

If you are like us, you are counting down the days until Thanksgiving. In exactly one week from today, families will be gathering together for fun, football, and a big turkey feast! How about this year, we take a healthier approach to this holiday and lighten up our favorite Thanksgiving classics. With just a few simple tweaks, we will turn heavy holiday treats into healthy and flavorful dishes that are sure to please!

Eat Together

Before we get cooking our healthier Thanksgiving meal, let’s talk about some tips on making healthier choices this holiday season. 

1. Choose a Healthier Holiday Beverage

Holiday drinks can provide a large amount of calories, sugar, and fat. Remember that drinks like eggnog, hot chocolate, and apple cider are treats and shouldn’t be an everyday food. For a healthier treat, try mixing eggnog with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of low-fat milk. This will give you the same rich eggnog flavor with fewer calories and fat. Look for low fat and low sugar varieties of hot chocolate. Make your drink with low-fat milk or water to cut down on the calories and fat. Also watch your toppings. Marshmallows and whipped cream can add a lot of sugar to your holiday drink.

2. Limit Your Sodium

Many holiday dishes are packed with sodium. Too much sodium can cause water retention and may increase your risk for high blood pressure. Limit sodium by choosing low-sodium varieties of ingredients like chicken stock and canned vegetables. Try reducing the amount of salt that your recipe calls for or use herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, and cloves instead. They will give your dish loads of flavor without any sodium.

3. Bring a Dish to Share

I love offering to bring an appetizer or side dish to share at parties because I know there will be at least one healthy option for me to choose. Offer to bring a vegetable platter or other healthy dish. Everyone, including your waistline, will thank you.

4. Don’t Forget a Snack

I know that if I go to a party hungry, I will surely overeat. Have a small, healthy snack before your party to tide you over until the main meal. Aim for a balanced snack that consists of a healthy fat, protein, and carbohydrate source. An example would be a cheese stick (protein) with an apple (carbohydrate) and a handful of nuts (healthy fat).

5. Make it a Myplate Meal

Don’t just go for the white foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, and rolls. Make it a Myplate meal and fill your plate with every color of the rainbow including a fruit, vegetable, whole grain, protein, and dairy. This will ensure that you are eating a well-rounded holiday meal. An example of a Myplate meal would include 1/4 of a plate with turkey breast, 1/4 of a plate with a roll, and 1/2 plate filled with fruits and vegetables like steamed green beans, healthier mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or healthy apple crisp. Serve your meal with a glass of milk if it dairy is not include in your meal.

6. Keep Your Protein Lean

Choose the leaner white turkey breast meat instead of the dark thigh meat. Remove the crispy skin before eating and keep your gravy use to a minimum. Doing these little things will help cut back on the extra calories from fat.

7. Healthier Sweets and Treats

Try baking recipes that use unsweetened applesauce, Greek yogurt, or mashed banana instead of butter. There are so many yummy recipes that have these healthier ingredients in them. You can also try reducing the amount of sugar in your recipe by 1/2 to 1/4. You might be surprised that most recipes taste the same even when their sugar is reduced. And let’s not forget about the pie! One slice of pumpkin or pecan pie can clock in at 500 or more calories. Top that with a 1/2 cup of ice cream and you will have yourself a 700 calories dessert. Try making a crustless pumpkin pie or swap the pies for a healthy fruit crisp instead. If you’re like me and can’t live without your pie, try splitting a piece with a loved-one.

8. Get Active

Getting some physical activity into your holidays can actually give you more energy! It can help reduce the groggy feeling we get from eating large, calorie dense meals. I know regular physical activity can be more difficult in the colder months, so here are some fun ways to get active.

– Plan a football tournament with your family before or after your holiday meal

– Shovel snow, go sledding, or try ice skating

– Find a fun local run the morning of Thanksgiving or take your family on a nice long walk

Our classes this month have focused on making healthier holiday meals. Here are the recipes that we are going to be adding to our Thanksgiving meal. Click on the recipe cards for a printable version. We would love to hear from you. What is your favorite healthy holiday dish?apple cobbler mashed potatocranberry sauce Chelsea Preedy Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Family All Together At Christmas Dinner

November Schedule + Chicken Creole

Welcome to November! The holiday season has officially begun, and I could not be more excited for these next couple of months. To get this season off to a healthy start, our classes for November are focused on making our holiday meals Myplate approved. We have some great tips and tricks for you, so we hope to see you there!

Family All Together At Christmas Dinner

November Class Schedule:

Daytime and Nighttime Food $ense

Do you want to have your cake and eat it, too?  Join us this month as we talk about using MyPlate to stay on track with nutrition during the holiday season.  Our daytime class will be held on Thursday, November 13th from 11am- 12:30pm. Our nighttime class will be held on Tuesday, November 18 th from 7:00pm-8:30pm. Both classes will be held in the multi-purpose room next to the Cache County Extension office, 179 North Main Suite 111, Logan.  Call us at 435-752-6263 or email us at to reserve your spot today!  Out of respect for the hearing impaired, no children please.

Mommy & Me

This class was created for all you busy moms and dads out there who could benefit from bringing the kids to class with you.  Parents will learn great nutrition info and how to create easy, inexpensive, and tasty meals for their families.  The kids will participate in a nutrition activity and get to make a recipe for their parents to try.

Do you want to have your cake and eat it, too?  Join us this month as we talk about using MyPlate to stay on track with nutrition during the holiday season.  Class will be held on Thursday, November 20th from 11am- 12:30pm.  We will meet in the multi-purpose room next to the Cache County Extension office, 179 North Main Suite 111, Logan.  Call us at 435-752-6263 or email us at to reserve your spot today!  Children of all ages welcome.  Please register 24 hours in advance.

As always, I’ve got a delicious and healthy recipe to share with you today. November can be a hectic month, so pop this chicken creole in the oven, sit back, and relax for just a minute. Click on the recipe below for a printable version.

chicken creole

Breakfast Egg Burrito

Guest Post with Tayla: New View on Breakfast

  Hello there! I hope you are all having a fabulous Friday and have some fun weekend plans to look forward to. We have a special guest post today with Tayla Lambright. Tayla is one of our Nutrition Educators at Food $ense and is going to be giving a lesson on the importance of breakfast. Enjoy! 

Breakfast Egg Burrito

Let’s Talk About Breakfast-

Have you ever heard the saying: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? There are a lot of misconceptions about breakfast and whether or not we should be eating it. Hopefully I can clear the air about some of the fads outs there. It can be really tricky to know what’s actually the truth!

First let’s talk about the why of eating breakfast. Have you ever woken up feeling groggy and not quite ready to start the day? Or maybe you were so rushed in the morning, all you could do is grab a granola bar on your way out the door. Do you ever feel like your day doesn’t officially start until you’ve had a cup of coffee? If you’ve ever felt that way then eating a well-rounded breakfast may just be your solution! Eating breakfast has so many great advantages including jump-starting your metabolism, better focus at work, and even weight loss!

Here are a few of my tips for a better breakfast:

Take the time to prepare breakfast the night before. There are some really easy recipes that can be made ahead of time and are delicious to wake up to. Taking the time for this will help your morning go much smoother. If your morning is smoother then the rest of your day is bound to be a little less stressful.

It’s important to remember that not all breakfast foods are created equal. A donut and juice will not likely fill you up as much as a scrambled eggs and toast with a little butter will. High sugar foods that are low in fiber are likely to make us hungry quicker than a good source of protein, fat and carbohydrates will. When picking breakfast foods look for whole grains, high protein and healthy fats. We’ll talk more about good breakfast recipes at the end of this post.

What about cereal? Is cereal a good breakfast choice? Lots of manufactures can trick us into thinking some cereals are healthy when in reality they may not be as great as they appear to be. You’ll want to check out the sugar content to see if it’s a good choice or not. Though they are fortified or claim to be whole grain, the sugar content can be through the roof! We’re advised to consume only 22-24g of added sugar per day. Some cereals contain anywhere form 11g-30g per serving. Yikes! That’s a full days worth of added sugar in one sitting!

One of my favorite breakfast foods is eggs! Eggs are loaded with nutrients and lots of good, high quality protein. Worried about all the cholesterol in the yolks? Well, worry no further! Eating cholesterol in our food isn’t likely to add to the cholesterol level we get tested at the doctor’s office.

Here are a few of our favorite Food $ense breakfast recipes. Give one a try soon! It may surprise you how much better you day is when you start it off on the right foot.

Click on the recipe cards for a printable version.

overnight oats-2

green smoothie-2

egg muffins-2

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Asparagus and Ham Omelet

Portion Distortion

Plates full of pasta. Steaks the size of your head. Have you seen the out-of-control portions we have today? Let’s begin to tackle our portion distortion and make our plates and bodies happier and healthier.

wide food selection

 Over the last 20 years, our portion sizes have greatly increased. We can now “super-size” our meals, buy giant sodas for less than a dollar, and consume meals that are large enough for a small family.

Take a look at these portion-size facts:

  • 20 years ago, a bagel was typically 3” in diameter and contained 140 calories. Today a typical bagel is double that size and contains 350 calories.
  • 20 years ago, a typical cheeseburger contained 333 calories. Today, a cheeseburger contains over 590 calories.
  • 20 years ago, a typical soda was 6.5 ounces and contained 82 calories. Today, a typical soda is 20 ounces and contains 250 calories.
  • 20 years ago, a typical blueberry muffin was 1.5 ounces and contained 210 calories. Today, a typical blueberry muffin is 5 ounces and contains 500 calories.

Wow! I was sure surprised when I saw just how much our portion sizes have increased over the years. We need to be able to navigate through this over-sized food world in order to make healthier choices and enjoy all foods in moderation.

How do we decide what a portion looks like?

There are a few tricks to good portion sizes, and they don’t require getting out your measuring cups and kitchen scale. One easy way to make sure you are getting the right portions of food is to use Myplate as your guide. When we model our plate after Myplate, we are automatically getting a portion-controlled and balanced meal.


If you can see on this picture of Myplate, we should be filling 1/4 of our plate with protein, 1/4 with a whole-grain, 1/4 with veggies, and 1/4 with fruit. We can then serve it with a side of dairy. It is such an easy way to watch our portions. Just remember to watch the size of your plate. A great trick is to use a smaller sized plate such as an 8 or 10″ plate. We tend to eat with our eyes. This means that we stop eating once our plate has been cleared. If we use a smaller plate, we will eat less without even thinking about it!

Myplate works really well for most meals, but it doesn’t work so well for things like pasta and salad. In these instances, we can use another portion-control technique. We can use our hand as a guide.

– A serving of meat should be about the size of your palm and is about the same thickness as your palm.

– A serving of vegetables is the size of your fist.

– A serving of whole-grain or fruit is about the size of the inside of your cupped hand.

– A serving of fat like oil, nuts, or cheese is about the size of your thumb.

If you would like to see pictures of these serving sizes, click here:

More Portion Control Tips-

Asparagus and Ham Omelet

1. Portion Your Treats

Don’t be tempted to eat the entire bag of chips in one sitting. Instead, place one portion into a bowl and put the rest of the chips back in the cupboard. I like to portion out my snacks (like those big bags of almonds) right when I get home. This way, I can just grab one snack pack on the go and it is already perfectly portioned.

2. Turn off the Television

We tend to eat more when we eat with distractions. Put down the phone and turn off the television or laptop. Take the time to truly enjoy what you are eating. Being in-tune with your body will help you know when you are getting full and are ready to stop eating. It will also make your meal much more satisfying!

3. Share with a friend

Restaurant meals are so large that they can easily be shared. You will save a few bucks and will leave without feeling stuffed! If sharing isn’t your thing, that’s okay. Just take half of your meal home for leftovers.

4. Don’t serve your meals family style

Helping yourself to seconds is a no brainer when the food is right on the table. Keep the food on the counter and serve it there. Here’s a catch- if you would like, you can keep fruits and veggies on the table. This might encourage everyone to eat seconds of these good-for-you foods!

5. Don’t Skip Meals

Most people need to eat about every 4 hours to keep their blood sugar stable and keep them from getting hangry (hungry- angry). Skipping meals will leave you ravenous and ready to eat just about anything when the next meal comes around. This means that you won’t be paying attention to portion sizes and fullness cues.

6. Fill up on Fruits and Veggies First

Fruits and veggies are lower in calories and fat and high in fiber and vitamins. Fill up on these foods first to reduce your intake of meat and unhealthy sides.

7. Don’t be Fooled by “Healthy” Food Claims

Have you ever bought a “fat-free” or “organic” food and eaten too much of it? It’s been shown that we tend to eat more of foods that we think are healthy for us. Just because a food is labeled “healthy”, “fat-free”, or “organic” doesn’t mean it is actually healthy and that you can eat as much as you want. Look at the serving size and stick with that amount.

8. Choose Foods that Require a Little Work

Foods like oranges or pistachios that we have to peel and shell slow us down and keep us from eating as many. Snack on these foods!

What are some of your favorite tips for portion control?


Orange Chicken Salad

I have always been a big fan of chicken salad. It is one of my go-to healthy meals on nights when I want dinner on the table ASAP. While I usually just whip up a batch of classic chicken salad with mayo, grapes, and celery; I decided to switch things up and have been making one of my favorite Food $ense chicken salads recently. This was actually the first Food $ense recipe I tried when I first started working for the organization almost a year ago. I absolutely loved the recipe then and am so glad that I have found it again.

I chose to share this recipe for a few different reasons. First, this recipe is jam-packed with flavor. We used oranges, celery, and curry powder to give this salad its unique taste. This combination is so yummy and the curry powder can also be used in a tuna salad or traditional chicken salad. Another reason I chose this recipe is because of its versatility. You can serve this salad in a sandwich, in a tortilla or pita, wrapped in lettuce, thrown on a salad, or stuffed in a bell pepper or tomato. When cooking for one or two, I always like the idea of cooking once and eating twice. A recipe like this lets you switch it up so you don’t get tired of eating the same old leftovers for days in a row. Try it in a wrap for lunch one day and stuffed into a bell pepper for dinner the next night. The last reason I wanted to share this recipe is because it is quick and healthy. If you break it down, this recipe is really just veggies, fruit, dairy and lean protein. Throw the chicken salad in a whole-wheat tortilla and you’ve got yourself a MyPlate approved meal!

Ready for the recipe? 


The ingredients to make this orange chicken salad are Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, curry powder, oranges, chicken, and celery. I cut  one boneless, skinless chicken breast into small chunks and sautéed it in a skillet. While the chicken was cooking, I diced up my orange and celery.

Are you in a big hurry? Try using canned chicken. Be sure to rinse it in water to remove some of the sodium. I also like to keep shredded chicken in the freezer for nights like this. Place a portion of the shredded chicken in the fridge to thaw and combine with the remaining ingredients when it is ready to eat. For easy shredded chicken, cover chicken breasts with chicken broth in the crock pot and cook for 5 hours on high or until it can be easily shredded with a fork. 


After preparing your ingredients, this recipe is just a matter of throwing it all in a bowl. Mix the spices and the Greek yogurt together in a medium bowl. Add the chicken, celery, and oranges and mix until well-combined. I topped my chicken salad with almonds. You can also try adding grapes, carrots, or another type of nut.


Your chicken salad is now ready to go! I washed a couple of lettuce leaves and stuffed them with the mixture for a healthy and yummy lunch.

Here’s the recipe. I cut the recipe in half for 2 servings! Click on the image below to print. 


Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite go-to meals? 

Couple tasting a meal

White Chicken Chili and Our September Schedule

Welcome to September! It has started to feel a bit more like fall here in Cache Valley. While I am a bit bummed about losing the summer sun, I am excited for the cooler weather and fall cooking. It is going to be lots of soups and casseroles around here folks!

Couple tasting a meal


The theme for this month is all about cooking quick. In our classes, we will be talking about how you can make healthy meals that take very little time and effort. Today I am going to give you s delicious look into how we like to cook quick. The recipe below is our White Chicken Chili that is made with only 5 simple ingredients. This is the perfect recipe to throw together for a football party or just cook up for a quick weeknight dinner. Click on the picture below for a printable version. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

White chicken chili (2)



The Food $ense Program in Cache County teaches three main classes at the Extension office and then a class at the Macey’s Grocery Store in Providence, UT. We have already had our class at Macey’s for the month of September, so be sure to join us for our next class on October 7th at 7:00pm. These are our remaining classes for the month.

September Class Schedule

Daytime Food $ense:

Join Food $ense this month for Cooking Quick. In today’s busy world it’s important to know how to put a quick dinner on the table. Join us this month for some quick cooking ideas and new recipes. Our daytime class will be held on Thursday, September 25, from 11:00am-12:30pm.  Class will be held in the multi-purpose room next to the Cache County Extension office, 179 North Main, Logan Suite 111.  Call and reserve your spot today!  435-752-6263.  Out of respect for the hearing impaired, no children please.

Nighttime Food $ense:

Join Food $ense this month for Cooking Quick. In today’s busy world it’s important to know how to put a quick dinner on the table. Join us this month for some quick cooking ideas and new recipes. Our nighttime class will be held on Tuesday, September 16, from 7:00am-8:30pm.  Class will be held in the multi-purpose room next to the Cache County Extension office, 179 North Main, Logan Suite 111.  Call and reserve your spot today!  435-752-6263.  Out of respect for the hearing impaired, no children please.

Mommy & Me:

This class was created for all you busy moms and dads out there who could benefit from bringing the kids to class with you.  Parents will learn great nutrition info and how to create easy, inexpensive, and tasty meals for their families.  The kids will participate in a nutrition activity and get to make a recipe for their parents to try.

Join Food $ense this month for Cooking Quick. In today’s busy world it’s important to know how to put a quick dinner on the table. Join us this month for some quick cooking ideas and new recipes. Our Mommy & Me class will be held on Thursday, September 18, from 11:00am- 12:30pm. Class will be held in the multi-purpose room next to the Cache County Extension office, 179 North Main, Logan Suite 111.  Call and reserve your spot today!  435-752-6263Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance.  Class size is limited so register early!  Kids of all ages are welcome.


Now it’s your turn! What is your favorite quick cooking recipe?


Peppers- multicolored

Eating in Season: The Sweet Bell Pepper

Green, red, purple, orange, yellow, brown, and black! Who knew there were so many different colors of the wonderful sweet bell pepper?

Peppers- multicolored

I’ve seen bell peppers at our local farmers’ market and we recently began harvesting our own crop of bell peppers at the garden where Food $ense has been working this summer. For some reason, I just love watching peppers grow. I find them so funky looking and am drawn to all of the bright colors. After reading about the wealth of health benefits that bell peppers offer, I am definitely going to be increasing my weekly intake!

Bell peppers are brightly colored, crunchy vegetables, and although they are related to peppers like the jalepeno, bell peppers are not actually spicy. They are actually very sweet and mild in flavor. Green bell peppers are the most commonly eaten and least expensive color of bell pepper. I always thought that bell peppers started out green and then ripened into the different colors. That is not completely true. Not all bell peppers start off green and not all green peppers ripen into other colors. They are all delicious and great for your health, so try including a variety of different colored bell peppers into your diet!


Let’s start by talking about my favorite part: nutrition of the pepper. Bell peppers are powerhouses in the nutrition department. They are known for containing an amazing amount of antioxidants and are especially high in two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect our eyes from age-related damage. Bell peppers are also a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

Select and Store:

When choosing your bell pepper, look for deep and vivid colors. This will help you choose the ripest peppers. Look for peppers with tight, wrinkle-free skin and be sure to choose ones that are free of blemishes and dark spots.

Store unwashed bell peppers in the fridge for 7-10 days. They still need moisture, so try setting them on a damp paper towel in the crisper drawer. I love having my veggies already washed and chopped so that I can just grab them and go. At the beginning of the week, I wash and chop a few bell peppers. I keep some in a large tupperware with other veggies to add to salads and keep another tupperware with bell pepper strips for easy snacking.

Prepare and Enjoy:

Tasty kebab with vegetables and chicken

Be sure to start by giving your bell peppers a good wash in cold water. This will remove dirt and bacteria.

Cutting bell peppers can be really simple if you use a few key tricks. This video will teach you what you need to know: 

You are now ready to start eating and enjoying your peppers. Here are some of my favorite ways of adding these little gems into my day

– Add diced bell peppers to scrambled eggs or omelets

– Top salads with a mix of different colored bell peppers

– Use thinly sliced bell peppers as a pizza topping

– Stir fry bell peppers with a mix of chicken and veggies. Serve over a bed of brown rice

– Pack snack bags with bell pepper strips, carrots, and baby tomatoes. Serve with hummus or cottage cheese

– Add diced bell peppers to quesadillas or enchiladas

– Slow cooked chicken or flank steak with peppers and onions

– Stuff bell peppers with rice, tomatoes, and lean ground turkey


Quesadilla with Words

Slow Cooker Cuban Braised Beef and Peppers:

Bell Pepper Egg in a Hole:

Mini Pepper Chicken Nachos (You can also quarter a large bell pepper to use):

One Pan Skillet Stuffed Bell Pepper:

Brown Rice Salad with Olives, Bell Peppers, Peas, and Basil Vinaigrette:

Click on the pictures below for a printable version

AfricanBeanSoup ChickenCreole MexicanSpicyBeanPizza PataSaladwAsparagus SimpleSauteedPeppersandOnions

Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite way to enjoy bell peppers? 


Black Bean and Corn Salsa

20140815_093357   Don’t you just love a good salsa recipe? 


Salsa is definitely my go-to food. I top my eggs with it, dress my salad with it, and spice up my dinner with it. I am always looking for fun and exciting salsa recipes to keep in my fridge as a healthy and veggie-filled topping. I make a big batch on the weekend and use it throughout the week. Doing this ensures that I have food on hand to pack healthy lunches and snacks. I love adding this salsa to my burritos and quesadillas for some extra veggies. It is also delicious on a bed of greens for a yummy salad. The black beans give your salad a protein and fiber punch and the avocado fills you up with healthy fat. This salsa recipe is always a big hit at parties and family gatherings. Instead of serving the salsa with store-bought fried tortilla chips, try making your own at home. They are so easy to make and are much healthier. The recipe below uses white flour tortillas. Try swapping the white flour tortillas for whole-wheat tortillas. This small swap will make your homemade chips more nutritious. 


This recipe is colorful, flavorful, and jam-packed with goodies. It is a winner for sure! 



What is your favorite thing to top with salsa?