spring, winter, sun, snow, and nutrition.

The weather this week has been crazy!  Tuesday afternoon it was 74 degrees.  Wednesday afternoon it was 44.  Tuesday I was hot while we were playing outside.  Wednesday I was bundled up in my coat again preparing for it to dip down into the 20s.  This morning I woke up and saw snow on our deck.  Wild.  Today it is supposed to warm up again, so hopefully we can get back outside.  I like winter, but I only needed one more snow and that big one did it.  And now that we have had warmer weather, I’ve gotten the taste of warmth and I’m ready for spring to be here.

spring
Enjoying the spring weather with a selfie [what am I thinking?]   

 

march snow
This morning.

 

 

In other news, the Morgan household has had a dramatic shift.  Jack is no longer using pacis.  We cut him off last Friday, and he has done really well this weak without them.  He asked for his baseball paci before nap and bed on Saturday and Sunday but otherwise hasn’t mentioned them, other than to tell people that he isn’t sleeping with his pacis anymore.  He’s proud of his big boy status.  And we’re proud of him!  He’s used a paci since he was hours old in the NICU.  That was all he had to suck on those early days when he was too sick to eat, so I know they were a huge comfort thing for him.  

We told him that he was a big boy and big boys don’t use pacis, babies do.  We told him that he got to give his pacis to a baby who needed them.  He kept saying “and then that baby [or that kid] will bring the pacis back to me.”  He realized they weren’t coming back.  It was emotional Friday night, but he has done great!  So proud of him, and really not too bad.  The only down side has been that this appears to have been the catalyst to him dropping his nap.  He has been staying awake in his bed at night for several months now.  Some times he would stay up until 11:30, just chatting.  For months.  It was driving me crazy, but I felt like he still needed his nap.  Well, he has not taken a nap in 8 days and has done great.  He loves hanging out in his room for “rest time” and then independently deciding when he is done in his room.  He quietly leaves his room, goes to play in the office for a little bit [doing what he later tells me is helping me clean and organize], comes downstairs and turns the tv on, and plays with his toys quietly in the living room.  He loves having this independence.  He actually gets disappointed when I come out and say hi to him.  It’s adorable to see him being independent and operating on his own, and I hope to continue to foster his desire for independence.  That has been our routine every day this week.  He is precious.

 

 

last paci

Jack’s last paci sucking on Friday evening.  He got to suck on it driving around and then shortly after we got home, he put his pacis in a box to give away.

 

first night without paci
Going to sleep for the first time without pacis.  

 

 

naptime smiles
He was supposed to be up in his room napping, when suddenly he turned the corner with a big smile on his face and his entourage with him.  He’s adorable.

 

 

Continuing with the NNM theme this week, I want to share this article about my friend, Lindsey.  Lindsey, aka the DIY Dietitian, is an awesome RD in Nashville.  Lindsey is one of my best buds from college.  We went through all of our nutrition classes together, she taught me how to make iced coffee, and she’s adorably fun and thoughtful.  She is actually the one who encouraged me to start this blog.

Check out the article above where Lindsey is interviewed by another RD about grocery shopping and all that good jazz.  Then check out this post of Lindsey’s about low calorie food finds.  Great suggestions here, and she gives a calorie breakdown, too, so you can know exactly what you’re getting when you eat these.

nutrition around the interwebs.

There are some fantastic dietitians out there.  The great thing about social media is that it allows all of us to interact with dietitians any time.  Twitter is one of my favorite tools to use to follow RDs.  I so often see great articles pop up there that dietitians are sharing or posts that they’ve written on their blogs.  Here are some of my favorite recent posts.  I hope you enjoy them, too!

 

Read what several mom RDs have to say about creating a health and happy meal time together.

 

 

I know a lot of people who will love this post!  Sally shares her favorite packaged foods.  I frequently have people ask me what foods they should buy.  This is a great list of stuff from Sally!

 

 

Healthy tuna salad recipe.

 

 

I definitely appreciate this article encouraging people to think about seeing a dietitian.  I know there are some very healthy, and wellness focused physicians, but most doctors do not have the experience or training in nutrition that dietitians do.  Doctors do medicine, dietitians do food and nutrition.

 

 

Having trouble sleeping?  RD Joy Bauer talks about insomnia and what food and tips can help or hurt.

 

 

Did you know beets are the new chocolate?  Well, maybe not chocolate, but they are hot right now!  I love this RD’s blog.  LOVE it!

3010588488_6bb9170a70_b-630x418

 

via

Happy RD day to my fellow RDs!

 

national nutrition month.

It’s March, friends, which means it’s National Nutrition Month.  That lovely time of year where we can celebrate eating healthy and learn more about what that means.  I started out strong by sharing my favorite green smoothie recipe.  Then last week I shared how I make a substitute for cream of chicken soup and then a healthier comfort food recipe.

 

One of my favorite things about National Nutrition Month is seeing all of the great stuff that RDs know and share during this month.  This week I want to take a little time to share some of those things.

 

First up is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.  They have several pages set up for National Nutrition Month with some really great stuff.  Including games and quizzes.  One of my favorite things on there is the fad diet timeline.  It’s awesome to see where fad diets have been over the years and how some circle back around.

 

Tomorrow I will be back to share some great articles and tips from fellow RDs.

 

NNM-2014via eatright.org

homemade cream of chicken.

I do not like the canned “cream of” soups.  They are disgusting.  Convenient, yes.  But really gross.  The way they glop out of the can.  The shape it takes.  And it just plain doesn’t taste good.  I may be dramatic in saying this, but I can almost taste the preservatives.  I really came to dislike the canned “cream of” soups as a new dietitian working on the cardiac floor in my first job as a Clinical Dietitian.  A lot of people cook with these, and they are full of salt!  Many people don’t even know that.

The thing is that a lot of good recipes call for cream of something.  I used to just use chicken broth, but it lacks flavor and a thickness that the soups provide.  So now I make my own.  It takes me five minutes, and it’s time well spent in my opinion!

Here’s how I make it.

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk  [I use skim]
1/2 cup chicken broth [I use low-sodium]
salt and pepper as you desire [I often skip these]

directions:

1.  Melt butter on stove over medium heat.
2.  Add flour and whisk together.  Stir frequently to avoid burning!
3.  After 1 minute, add the milk and chicken broth.  Whisk together.
4.  Cook until mixture thickens [approximately 3-4 minutes]
5.  Add salt and pepper as desired.

*this is equivalent to one can of cream of chicken soup.

*you can use this recipe, substituting beef broth for chicken broth to make a suitable substitute when cream of mushroom soup is used in recipes.

 

homemade cream of chicken soup

 

Enjoy!

creamy steamy southern chicken.

Comfort food.  Healthier comfort food.  Have I sold you yet?  I am obsessed with this dish.  I came up with this recipe the other day because I was craving some creamy chicken.  My friend, Danielle, is the southern cooking girl.  She is a great cook and makes the best food, especially down home southern food.  She makes an amazing poppy seed chicken.  I had that dish in mind when I created this recipe.

healthier comfort food

 

This chicken dish is so easy to make.  It is like a poppy seed chicken, but without the poppy seeds.  You could easily add them in if you like them, or just make it as is if you don’t.  I also used Club crackers instead of Ritz crackers.  Just because I’m not a big Ritz cracker fan, but you could use either.  I tweaked this recipe to make it healthier.  I made my own cream of chicken soup.  I cannot stand cream of chicken soups that you buy at the store.  I find them disgusting.  They’re full of preservatives and very high in salt.  I appreciate their convenience but to me it is just not worth it.  You can use a can of cream of chicken soup, or you can use my recipe to make your own.  I would normally put sour cream in this dish, but this time I replaced it with plain, nonfat yogurt to make it healthier.

 

Here’s why it’s healthier:

All natural, plain, nonfat yogurt  vs. low-fat sour cream
Calories                                  100                                                     320
Total fat                                  0 g                                                      20 g
Saturated fat                          0 g                                                      16 g
Sodium                                    150 mg                                             200 mg
Potassium                               510 mg                                              0
Carbohydrates                        15 g                                                   16 g
Sugar                                         15 g                                                   16 g
Protein                                      11 g                                                   16 g
Calcium                                     40%                                                  32%

 

*This is per 1 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of sour cream.  

 

As you can see, the yogurt is lower in calories, fat, sodium, and is high in potassium.    Yogurt is a much better choice than sour cream here!

 

That being said, I do not recommend this substitute for everyone.  Stick with sour cream and not the yogurt substitute if you have kidney problems and need to limit your potassium.  Yogurt is rich in potassium, so while it is a great benefit for most of us, for someone with kidney disease it would not be a good place to get potassium.  

 

 

Here’s the recipe:

 

Creamy Steamy Southern Chicken

ingredients:

10 frozen chicken breasts
homemade “cream of chicken”
8 oz. plain, nonfat yogurt
1 sleeve Club crackers
3 T butter, melted

directions:

1.  Place frozen chicken breasts into 9×13 baking dish.  Follow directions for baking.  [My bag of Kroger frozen chicken had instructions to bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes]
2.  While chicken is baking, make homemade cream of chicken [or you can skip this step if you are using the canned stuff]
3.  Add yogurt to cream of chicken.
4.  Crumble crackers and add to melted butter.  Coat crackers in butter.
5.  Remove chicken from oven when thoroughly cooked and pour yogurt/cream of chicken mixture over top.
6.  Top with cracker crumbs.
7.  Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until everything is warmed and slightly brown.

creamy chicken breasts

creamy chicken

creamy steamy chicken for jack   Jack loved this dish, too.

creamy steamy chicken

creamy steamy southern chicken

Enjoy!

the green monster.

I’ve jumped on the smoothie bandwagon.  Because of my autoimmune disorders, I sometimes have trouble eating.  A smoothie is a great way to get nutrients in that is easy on my mouth and throat.  Autoimmune disorders aside, I think smoothies are great for breakfast and afternoon snacks.  Not only am I on the smoothie bandwagon, but the green smoothie one.  I am loving this green smoothie!  It tastes a whole lot better than it looks.  And this smoothie is very nutritious!  I use low-fat, plain yogurt.  It’s very low in fat and has less sugar than flavored yogurts.  I do add some honey to sweeten it, which also blends really well with these fruits and the spinach.

 

If you have trouble getting your kid to eat anything green, this is a really fun way to get them involved.  They can help put the ingredients in the blender, watch it go, and then drink a fun drink.  It’s a great way to get the goodness of fruits and vegetables in picky eaters.

 

favorite green smoothie

 

the green monster

ingredients:

1 banana
1 apple
1 cup green grapes
1 1/2 cups spinach
1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1-2 tablespoons honey

 

directions:

1.  Wash all fruit.
2.  Cut apple into slices and core.
3.  Put all ingredients in blender.
4.  Blend together to desired consistency.

 

green smoothie ingredients

green smoothie

green smoothie with honey

green smoothie in blender

green smoothie favorite

 

*note:  I don’t peel the apple because that’s where a lot of good fiber is, and I want to make sure I get that.  However, I do not have a great blender like a Vitamix – just a regular one – so the pieces of peel are obvious in the smoothie.  I don’t mind it, but I do have to take a sip and then chew the peel.  If it bothers you, you could simply peel the apple first.  Or get a Vitamix 🙂

 

Enjoy!  And happy Friday friends!

sweet treat.

Yesterday I had to take a sick day.  I may have laryngitis – not sure and totally self-diagnosing there.  But I have no voice and my throat hurts pretty badly and I have swollen lymph nodes – one so big it’s sticking out of my neck and keeping me from being able to turn my head.  Thankfully, Tommy was home yesterday because he got called in to work Saturday evening and didn’t come home until Sunday late afternoon.  Even though he missed a night of sleep, he spent most of the day yesterday taking care of Jack and allowing me to rest.  I haven’t had anything that’s kept me laying down in quite awhile.  But the sick day did allow me to get some posts written, and this is one that I’ve been wanting to share.

 

I experimented with this sweet treat a couple of weeks back.  I noticed this picture pinned on Pinterest

2014 diy valentine's day food gift, Sweet Treats for Valentine's Day
via

 

and decided to try and make a similarly pretty but much healthier version.  This is what I came up with…

Nikon D3200 632

This is so easy to make, takes very little time, and is a much healthier alternative to a very rich dessert.  This dessert is under 100 caloriesCompared to my inspiration picture which is cake and frosting and at least 300 but maybe as high as 500 calories. 

 

Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:

Pint of strawberries
1 container of light Cool Whip [I used the Kroger brand]
Mason jars

 

Directions:

1.  Wash strawberries
2.  Cap strawberries and halve or quarter, depending on how big they are
3.  Place a layer of strawberries on the bottom, followed by a layer of cool whip.
4.  Repeat until you reach the top.

Hint:  For an even lower calorie dessert, add more strawberries than cool whip, and for a richer dessert add more cool whip. 

 

Nikon D3200 629

Nikon D3200 630

Nikon D3200 631

 

In less than 10 minutes you have a dessert that is healthy and looks great, too!  Enjoy!

healthy bits from last week.

Happy Sunday friends!  I hope you’ve had a nice weekend.  It is sunny and 54 here right now!  It’s windy, but it’s such a nice day out.  Tomorrow the low is 14 and they’re calling for scattered snow showers.  You just never know what the weather will be like in East Tennessee.

 

Our Maryland friends got some snow last week!  Lately I have really been missing Maryland, and mostly our friends there.  I think because our first winter there was so intense [3 blizzards], winter just makes me think of Maryland.  And my heart misses our dear friends there.  I loved our little house in the snow.  It was cozy and the radiant heat made it feel even cozier.

None of that has anything to do with my post today though.  Today I wanted to share what #healthyandorganized2014 steps I took last week.

Like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t been as good on the healthy as I have on the organized.  I did make one of my favorite, very healthy vegetables dishes a couple of weeks ago.

Vegetables

 

Last week Tommy’s mom, his uncle from Wisconsin, and Tommy’s mom’s friend, Christy, came over for lunch.  Christy brought this for dessert.

angel food cake and berries

 

It was very sweet, very delicious and definitely a healthy dessert option.  Angel food cake is a great way to go to save on calories and the berries are a great way to get in fresh fruit.  Top it off with low fat cool whip and you are in healthy dessert business.
As I shared earlier in the week, I made white chicken chili.  It was such a healthy dinner and so easy to make.

 

white chicken chili

 

 

So even though I made chocolate chip cookies twice, I did make some healthy choices lately, too.  Sometimes I get caught up in the all or nothing mindset, even though I taught against it to all of my patients.  Looking back on the week to think about healthy steps helps me to see what I did well.  And it also helps me to see areas I could improve upon.  Like the Cokes I had to drink 🙂

white chicken chili.

Oh my goodness.  This is my new favorite.  It took me awhile to jump on the white chicken chili bandwagon, but not only am I on it, I’m waving the banner for it too! 

 

This is so incredibly easy to make.  It took hardly any time.  And it is so very healthy!  I made it on the stove, but you can easily put this in the crockpot, so I am going to give directions for both.  Also, I am listing the ingredients based on what I used, but next time I make this I am going to double it so we have more leftovers. 

 white chicken chili  

 

Ingredients: 
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth 
2 cans great northern beans 
1 4 oz. can of diced green chiles 
2 tsp. cumin 
2 tsp. oregano 
a touch of cayenne pepper [optional] 
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese 

 

Stovetop directions: 
1.  Cook chicken breasts in oven.  I used thin sliced chicken breasts this time, so I cooked them at 350 for 20 minutes. 
2.  While chicken is cooking, get other ingredients ready. 
3.  Add chicken broth to large pot. 
4.  Drain and rinse beans.  Mash beans from one can to fairly smooth consistency. 
5.  Add beans and green chiles to pot. 
6.  Once chicken is done in oven, remove and cut into bite size pieces or shred [based on your preference.] 
7.  Add chicken to pot, then add spices. 
8.  Bring to a boil, then simmer with lid on for about 20 minutes. 
9.  Serve, topped with cheese and sour cream if desired. 

 

Crockpot directions: 
1.  Place chicken broth, beans [one can of whole beans, one can of mashed beans], chiles, and spices to crock pot.  Stir together. 
2.  Add chicken breasts.  [I use frozen chicken tenderloins when cooking anything chicken in the crock pot] 
3.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. 
4.  Just before serving, shred chicken with a fork. 

 

So easy and so good! 

Nutrition info: 
–  Chicken is a low-fat and very healthy source of protein 
–  Beans are great for aiding digestion and are also full of protein 
–  This broth-based soup is low in fat and calories 
–  The spices add excellent flavor without adding any extra fat or calories 
–  Top with low-fat cheese and low-fat sour cream and you have a super healthy dinner! 

 

This dish was enjoyed by everyone!  Even the little guys we got to have in our home that night! 

white chicken chili jack  white chicken chili crew