Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I think its safe to say we all go through attempts to cut calories, especially when trying to loose weight.  What if you could drop significant calories but just drinking differently?  Easy right?  Each day we eat and drink "empty calories", these are calories that have no nutritional benefit to our bodies.(LIKE SUGAR & FAT)  We all know soda pop falls into this category, but also flavored drinks and fruit juices can add unneeded sugar and sodium to our diets.  Best way to cut these "liquid calories"????
#1 - DRINK WATER!!!  This seems like such an easy fix, but its really that easy.  Our bodies need water to function.  Our bodies are 80% water. When we are hydrated we have more energy and think more clearly. Clark Bartrum a fitness specailist said " Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page."
Water is a BIG deal!  It also helps remove toxins and waste from our bodies. I like to think of our bodies like a water slide with dirt and grime on the slide walls. 
Image result for water slide A few spirts of water wont wash that grime off and expel it, but a steady flow of water will clear that grime right off.  Like a water slide our bodies need consistent water each day to keep that grime from building up and get those toxins flushed out!  It used to be a rule to drink 8-8oz glasses of water a day, but since no two bodies are alike the new recommendation is to drink half our bodies weight in ounces each day.  For example:
If you weigh 150 lbs. you should drink 75 oz of water each day (minimum).


#2 -  LABELS  First way to cut unhealthy drinks is to learn how to identify them.  LEARN TO READ THE LABEL. Did you know that there are other names for "sugar". Here are a few "sugar like" ingredients you might see on a food label.  These ingredients act like sugar in our bodies, and our bodies treat them as "empty calories". (aka no nutrient benefits... likely, fat storage)
Image result for food labels for soda
  • Agave
  • Cane Sugar
  • Corn-sweetener
  • Corn-syrup
  • Evaporated Can Juice
  • Fruit Juice
  • Concentrates
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Fructose
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose

Pay attention to the "Liquid Calories" you consume each day.  Even try keeping track for a day.  How many of these calories do you consume? Trying cutting them out.  Replacing your daily beverages with water will not only cut calories but make your body feel healthier, cleaner and more hydrated!!


Monday, February 27, 2017


Love this recipe!  Especially in the fall when my mother-in-law loads my fridge with zucchini from her garden.  You can use 1 big zucchini or several little ones.  I go these from Honey's Market in the produce section. 
 Start by washing the zucchinis and cutting the stems off.  Slice them in half and use a spoon to hallow out the center.
Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill on bbq or George Foreman Grill.

Flip half way.  Cook until desired softness. (approx 10-12 min)  While the zucchini is grilling I work on the filling: Brown 1 lb ground meat (drain any excess fat), add 8 oz cream cheese, desired seasoning and stir until cream cheese is melted and evenly distributed.  Fill the grill zucchini and top with shredded Parmesan cheese.  

 Preheat over to 350 and bake until cheese is melted.

Zucchini Boats
1 lb Ground Meat (hamburger, ground turkey or ground venison)
8 oz Cream Cheese (1 brick)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese (for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash zucchini, cut off stems and cut in half (longways). Use spoon to hollow out the center of the zucchini halves, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  
3. Grill on bbq, or George Foreman grill (this is what I used)  cook for approx 10 min (flipping halfway through) until fork easily pierces flesh. While zucchini is grilling I work on the filling.
4. Brown ground meat (drain any residual fat from meat) add cream cheese and spices and stir until cream cheese is melted and evenly distributed.  
5. Fill zucchini and top with grated Parmesan cheese (any kind of shredded cheese would work). 
6. Place in oven and bake until cheese is melted and begins to brown (approx 10-12 min)
Remove from oven and enjoy!!  Side not...I like to serve a side of toasted french bread.  


Here is a great fix for a pizza craving.  My kids love it, and so do I!  You can basically put anything on it you like.

Quick Pizza
Image result for english muffin pizza
English muffin
2 Tbl Pizza Sauce
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
Shredded Cheese
Desired toppings (ie, green peppers, onions and mushrooms)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Open english muffin and spread pizza sauce on top, sprinkle seasoning and add cheese and other toppings.  Cook for 10 min, or until cheese is melted.


Lunch is my least favorite meal of the day.  I never know what to make... Here are so quick easy and healthy lunches that will take you under a min to make!

Lunchables Grown-UP

Image result for cheese and crackers and veggies lunch
Other toppings of choice
(My Favorites are: lunch meat, cucumbers salt and pepper)

This recipe really has endless possibilities.  Multi-Grain crackers are my favorite in this recipe.  Some whole grain and fiber to keep you full longer!  This is SUCH a healthy lunch option and so quick and easy!

Herbed-Tuna Slices

Image result for tuna on cucumber

Cucumber slices
Tuna (drained)
Lemon Pepper (or other desired spices)
salt and pepper

Drain tuna, season with desired spices and serve on cucumber slices.  Such a refreshing lunch option.  Low in calories but not low on flavor!

Tortilla Wrap

Image result for lunch wrap

Tortilla (wheat preferred)
meat (left over from dinner is my fav)
        lunch meat works too!
Lettuce Leaf
Cheese stick (or slices/shredded would work)
1-2 tsp Ranch Dressing (low-fat preferred)
Your Favorite Veggies!

Wrap it up!  Spread Ranch (or other dressing) onto tortilla and lay remaining ingredients in the middle of the tortilla, then roll it up.  Easy and healthy lunch option.  The best thing about this is you can use anything you have laying around.  I love to make a little extra chicken at dinner time so I have left overs for a healthy wrap the next day.  A tip for keeping veggie costs low, is to buy the veggies while there in season.  Not only are they cheaper when in season, they also taste better!

MATURE Quesadillas

Grated cheese
1 Tbl Salsa
1 tsp cilantro (optional)
1 Tortilla
Favorite Veggies (ie. green peppers, onions, mushrooms)

Top tortilla with cheese and other desired toppings. Heat in microwave or oven until melted. Top with salsa and cilantro!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Healthy Living

Healthy Living is a phrase we hear constantly.  It's something we all strive for, or want to strive for, but what does it really mean?  Healthiergeneration.org lists some helpful tips for how to implement a plan and stick to it, the website states; "Less than 60% of adults are physically active on a regular basis, 25% aren’t active at all. Inactive individuals have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. So, to build a family based on healthy habits, it’s up to you to set the tone at home."
Healthy Living is a cycle, not a singular action.  Like eating a balanced diet, healthy living needs to be something we work on daily.  For a change to be permanent, it needs to be consistent.

1 - Plan to Move

The first step to being more active is to move.  You are more likely to be consistent and stick to your goals IF you have a plan in play.  Schedule your activity into your day so it's part of your routine.  I had a teacher in high school that used to say, "it takes 30 days to make an action become a habit, the best way to make something consistent is to tack it to an action you already do."  For instance, you brush your teeth every morning, do calf raises while brushing, or you make coffee each morning, try doing squats when waiting for your coffee to brew etc. "Just decide to move, and then plan that movement into your day." YOU CAN DO IT!

2 - Break It Up

It is recommended for kids to get 60 minutes of physical activity every day and adults to get about 30. But that doesn't have to be done all at once. It can be broken down into 10-15 min increments, to make it more manageable.  Find what works for you.

3 - As a Family

It's easier to encourage your family to move, if you move with them.  What activities does your family enjoy; walking, running, playing basketball or riding bikes?  Find an activity you can enjoy together, then do it.  Set aside time each day to be active together.

4 - Set Goals

“To be healthier” is a hard goal. Set measurable goals for your family’s activity, such as: 
  • Distance goals
  • Frequency goals
  • Intensity goals
  • Time length competition
At the end of each week look back and analyze how it went, and how you can improve the following week.  To see a change, you have to make a change!  YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


My mom made this for me every Sunday morning growing up.  I LOVE IT, and now my kids love it!!!  I don't like the raisins so I usually leave them out, much easier than picking each one out like when I was younger HA.  Not only is this a tasty way to start your day, but it is a healthy filling meal as well.

Not only is it one of my favorite grains, but one of the worlds oldest grains. Rice is primarily a carb, but has small amounts of protein and.... virtually NO FAT!  Brown rice is becoming very popular, due to the increased health benefits, my family actually prefers the taste better than white.  It has a nuttier flavor, and a firmer texture (less mushy than white rice tends to be).  This recipe is best with white rice, but if you haven't already give brown rice a try at your next dinner!!!

Another huge benefit of rice is the cost. A large bag of rice at the store is around 1 dollar, and just 1 cup of rice feeds my family of 5 (when cooked it doubles in size).  So, 1 bag makes several meals!  HUGE win in the budget department, and also a big win in the nutrition department.  

Cinnamon is also a a beneficial ingredient.  It one of the most delicious AND healthiest spices on the planet!  It can lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors and has a many other impressive health benefits. So.... EAT CINNAMON! 😉

Image result for cinnamon rice breakfast

4 cups   Water
1 cup Rice (preferably white)
dash salt
handful raisins (opt)

Rinse your rice in a mesh strainer to wash excess starch away (this can effect the end texture).  Put first 4 ingredients into a large pot and turn heat to high.  DO NOT STIR OR COVER.  Bring to boil, once water is boiling turn heat down to medium-high and cook until water has all been absorbed.  (approx 20 min)  Keep and eye on it towards the end of the cooking process to make sure the rice doesn't burn.  DO NOT STIR.  This recipe is as simple as they come, dump, cook, serve.  No stirring or any maintenance.  NONE!  
Once the water is gone, remove from heat and serve.  Top with cinnamon, sugar and milk. (I add enough milk to make it about the texture of oatmeal).  I also serve with wheat toast to dip in.  


I've tried ALOT of Chili recipes in my day, I mean ALOT...  Chili is a great hearty dinner, that is also healthy!  Chili is primarily composed of beans which are a SUPERFOOD!  They are not only nutritious but an affordable source of protein, filling fiber, disease fighting antioxidants and numerous vitamins and minerals.  Like I said... SUPERFOOD! According to Dr. Axe "Studies have linked eating beans with helping to protect against inflammation, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, certain cancers and common nutrient deficiencies."

Beans are a great way to stretch your food $$$, they are inexpensive and are so versatile. The have an amazing ability to take on flavors, and are rich in fiber so they fill you up!

***TIP OF THE DAY *** Next time you do a recipe that calls for hamburger, substitute half of the meat for a can of beans.  My personal favorite is black beans, my boys call them "Batman beans" (cause their black).  If my kids are fighting me to try a new food, I just name it a superhero that matches the color and it usually works!  Try it!!

Image result



½-1 lb Ground Meat (ground turkey preferred)
1 can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can Kidney Beans (drain and rinsed)
1 can Corn ( or 1 ½ cup frozen corn)
1 can Tomato Paste
3 Cups water (more if desiring a soupier texture)
1-2 TBL Brown Sugar
3 tsp Chili Powder
3 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste


Begin by browning meat, drain any excess fat.  Next drain and rinse beans, add all ingredients into a large pot.  Mix until combined.  Bring to boil, boil for 10-15 min. Lower the heat to medium, let simmer 15-20 min.  Top with sour cream and shredded cheese.

(I usually serve corn bread with this chili recipe, but soda crackers are also a family favorite!!)

Give this recipe a try on the next rainy cold day.  You will love it!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


I don't know about you, but one of the questions I dread each night is.... WHATS FOR DINNER???  Especially when I'm in desperate need of a trip to the grocery store.  It's so easy to turn to take out when this happens.  It's no secret that take-out is high in calories and hard on your wallet.  I have some tips for avoiding this nightly dilemma, and get you back to enjoying cooking in the kitchen.
Image result for pantry essentials
#1  The first step to having options, is to keep a stocked pantry.  I know, I know, sounds easier said then done...But when you have most of these nutritious foods in the house, you will be amazed at what you can create in no time flat!

Image result for grains picGRAINS - 
 •WHOLE GRAINS - oatmeal, barley, bulgur, brown rice, quinoa, cornmeal, popcorn etc.
 •100% Whole Wheat bread, tortillas, bagels, muffins
 •Whole grain crackers
 •Rice Cakes
 •Whole grain cold cereal

Image result for fruits pic
 •Fresh fruits IN SEASON - apple, orange, grape, banana, pear, berries, pineapple etc.
 •Frozen and or canned fruit - berry, peach, pear, pineapple, mandarin oranges etc.
 •Dried fruit such as raisins
 •All fruit jams 
 •Juice - white and/or purple grape, orange, apple, pineapple
Image result for vegetables

 • Fresh vegetables IN SEASON - potato, sweet potato, summer squash, winter squash, broccoli,  cauliflower, carrot, celery, bell pepper, green bean, corn, tomato, romaine lettuce, spinach, mushroom, avocado, garlic, onion, etc. 
  •Frozen and/or canned vegetables -green bean, corn, pea, tomato, tomato sauce, tomato paste, etc.

Image result for milk group
 • Yogurt 
• Cottage cheese  
• Cheese - Cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, parmesan, etc.

Image result for protein group pic
• Nuts and seeds - dry roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts 
• Canned tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey, chili 
• Beef 
• Chicken 
• Fish 
• Wild game
 • Deli turkey, ham
 • Eggs 
• Peanut butter 
• Canned and/or dried beans - black, pinto, kidney, white, chickpea, etc. Miscellaneous

Related image
flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, yeast, mustard, mayonnaise, etc. • Salsa • Chicken/beef/vegetable broths or bouillon • Canned soups - low-fat, low sodium cream of chicken, mushroom, tomato, etc. • Herbs/Spices - salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary, paprika, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, etc



Here is a tasty snack that will crave any sweet tooth without all the calories.  Sometimes my boys even ask for this for dessert!

Image result for pan fried cinnamon bananas

2 Slightly-Overripe bananas
2 TBL Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg (optional)
Olive Oil Spray (such as Pam)

Slice bananas into 1/2 in. pieces.  In a small bowl combine sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.  Spray a large pan with the cooking spray and heat on medium heat.  Add the banana rounds to the pan and cook 2-3 min.  During the last min of cooking sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture onto the first side and repeat on the other side (cooking 2-3 min on the 2nd side).  Once bananas are warmed through, remove from pan and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Have you ever tried PB on apples?  IT IS AMAZING!!  This is one of my kids favorite snacks.
Image result for apple pb granola sandwich
1 Apple, cored
2 TBL Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Granola ( Homemade PB Granola )
1 TBL Raisins (OPTIONAL)

Core apple then slice horizontally into several slices and spread with PB.  Sprinkle granola onto PB and top with another apple slice.
This snack fills 3/5 food groups (fruit, grain and protein)!!!


This is HANDS DOWN my favorite snack.  This snack is a great source of PROTEIN and FIBER and tastes DELICIOUS!!!  It can top yogurt, be eaten alone or covered in milk for a great breakfast or afternoon snack.  


2 TBL Creamy Peanut Butter
2 TBL Honey
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 cup Oats

<Preheat oven to 325 degrees.>  
Place PB, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla in microwave safe bowl. Microwave (20-30 seconds) until melted, pour over oats and stir to coat evenly.  Spread onto cookie sheet and bake 8-10 min until lightly browned. Let cool until crunchy and ENJOY!


This is an easy breakfast that will keep you full all morning!
Image result for egg in a nest
1 Slice of Wheat Bread
2 tsp Butter
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Take your bread and butter both sides, next cut a circle out of the center (the rim of a cup works great).  Place the bread in a pan on the stove and crack the egg in the hole.  Top with salt and pepper, and allow to cook until the egg is mostly cooked, flip over and cook the other side until the egg is thoroughly cooked through,


This is one of my families FAVORITE dinner recipes!  It is really inexpensive, low in fat & calories AND high in protein.  Now that's hard to beat!  This recipe has beans, which is a great protein source and VERY INEXPENSIVE.  Beans are and excellent source of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron, zinc, potassium and folate.  They even are a good source of fiber.  See I told ya... healthy!
Image result for bean corn casserole

1 can Black Beans (low sodium preferred)
1 can Corn (low sodium preferred)
1/4 cup Salsa
3 TBL Taco Seasoning
1-2 Chicken Breasts (or 1 can chicken)
1 can Diced Tomatoes (optional)

1. Place chicken breast (frozen or thawed) into a pan with 1 cup of water.  Allow chicken to fully cook (reaching 165 degrees throughout).  Shred the chicken with a fork and set aside. (if using canned chicken skip this step!)
2. Next drain and rinse the beans.
3. Place all ingredients (including COOKED shredded chicken) into a large sauce pan.  Add 2 cups of water to the pan and bring to boil.  Let boil for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally.  
4. Next turn the heat down to medium-low heat  cover and simmer for additional 10 min.  (if needed add more water, you want most the water to evaporate out, but a little water is needed to keep from burning)
5. Next, put in casserole dish top with crushed tortilla chips and some shredded cheese, Bake 350 degrees for 15 min.

THIS RECIPE FILLS 4/5 OF THE FOOD GROUPS!!!  Add a side of fruit (or enjoy a healthy fruit recipe for dessert) and you have a MY PLATE approved meal!

Monday, February 6, 2017


Before we get started on fun healthy recipes... lets talk about My Plate.  My Plate is a tool created by USDA to help teach healthy eating.  My Plate replaced the former Food Guide Pyramid with the shape of a plate, according the choosemyplate.gov this shape was chosen "as a visual link to food as a familiar mealtime symbol, and to serve as a reminder for healthy eating at each meal." 
Each section of the plate represents the 5 food groups that are "building blocks for a healthy diet".  Notice that 1/2 of the plate should be occupied by colorful fruits and veggies.  FACT: "The bright colors of vegetables, usually are a good indicator that they contain lots of antioxidants and phytochemicals (aka good stuff for your body). Vegetables high in antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer."  So they are VITAL for our bodies and should be incorporated in our diet.  The other half of the plate is designated for grains, protein and dairy (symbolized as a cup in this model).  Each food group plays an important role in our diet, to help our bodies grow and develop properly. Try to replicate this My Plate model at your next mealtime!!!

Reference: www.Choosemyplate.gov for more fun facts and information regarding My Plate.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


HI!  Welcome to the Kane County Food $ense blog.  Here I will share quick, easy AND healthy recipes for you and your family!!!  I will also be posting tips for healthy living, eating and even tips to stretch your food $$$.  But first... a little bit about me! 😁
  I am the Kane County NEA (Nutrition Educator Assistant) through the USU Extensions program, and I LOOOOVE nutrition!  When I was in middle school I started having some health issues and passing out randomly, after some doctor visits and tests it was confirmed that I had Hypoglycemia, a disease where your blood sugar drops below normal levels.  It can be managed through a healthy diet.  After this diagnosis I got a food guide pyramid and hung it in my closet to look at everyday, to make sure I was being healthy.  Maybe a bit extreme... what can I say, I was an odd child 😉... but seeing that image everyday, as well as the drastic change in how I felt, when I was eating right created this passion I have for healthy eating.  In 2008 I pursued a degree in Nutrition and 3 years later, I graduated with my Bachelors degree from Southern Utah University in Human Nutrition.  Learning how to manage my illness and feel healthy was invigorating for me.  I later taught a nutrition after school program for Granite School District at Academy Park Elementary.  This is where I developed my LOVE for teaching!  I want to help you improve your eating habits, stretching your food $$$, and give delicious healthy recipes to implement in your weekly menu!  Simple changes in eating and physical activity can DRAMATICALLY change your life.  Don't believe me?.. TRY IT! Check back here for weekly updates and recipes!!!